Wednesday, July 23, 2014
As Russia's Isolation Grows, Oil Companies Caught in Middle
Just one day earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on Russia over its ongoing role in the destabilization of Ukraine. The sanctions prohibited American banks from issuing loans with a maturity of over 90 days to four key Russian companies – Rosneft, Novatek, Gazprombank, and VEB.
"Because Russia has failed to meet the basic standards of international conduct, we are acting today to open Russia's financial services and energy sectors to sanctions," U.S. Treasury Official David S. Cohen said in a press release describing the agency's actions.
The sanctions tightened the economic noose on the Russian economy by targeting companies in Russia's energy sector. Up until now, western sanctions largely targeted individuals in the Russian elite, freezing their assets or issuing bans on American companies from doing business with them. But with oil and gas accounting for over 50 percent of revenues for the Russian state, if Obama wanted sanctions to have any bite, he had to escalate the campaign by going after Russia's energy sector.
Until the July 16 announcement, the major western oil companies operating in Russia shrugged off their effects. Companies like BP, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell defied White House pressure to avoid doing business with Russia.
They made a big bet on the likelihood that their billion-dollar projects would not be affected by the deteriorating relationship between Russia and the West.
But the markets took the latest round of sanctions much more seriously than their previous iterations. Rosneft saw its share price decline by 6.2 percent the day of the announcement, and Novatek was off 11.5 percent.
And western companies were not safe either. BP lost $4.4 billion in its market value on July 17. BP owns a 19.8 percent share of Rosneft, Russia's state-owned oil company that was singled out by Obama's sanctions. Nearly one-third of BP's global oil production – or 1 million barrels per day – comes from its investment in Rosneft.
ExxonMobil also has massive business plans with Rosneft. The two companies are drilling a $300 million well in Siberia, and next month they plan on drilling a $700 million well in the Russian Arctic, the country's most expensive in history. ExxonMobil and Rosneft have also agreed to jointly develop an LNG export terminal on Russia's Pacific coast. The Houston-based ExxonMobil has thus far maintained that the projects will be unaffected by sanctions, but that has been thrown into doubt after the U.S. Treasury Department's latest move.
On July 18, Zacks.com, a market research firm, warned investors Russian President Vladimir Putin scoffed at the sanctions, saying that they will merely hurt American energy companies. "This means that U.S. companies willing to work in Russia will lose their competitiveness next to other global energy companies," Putin said. "So, do they not want it to work here? They are causing damage to their major energy companies."
With financing likely to be increasingly hard to come by for Russia's major oil and gas companies, several of them are looking east for access to lending. As The New York Times notes, Russian energy companies are becoming more dependent on Chinese finance to pay for their capital-intensive projects. Partly, this is due to China looking for more Russian energy, but it is also because Russia sees the door slowly closing on access to western banks.
The rift between Russia and the West is bound to worsen after in the aftermath of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 being shot down by a surface-to-air missile in pro-Russian rebel territory. And the cumulative effect of recent sanctions could be minor compared to what may be coming. The U.S. could issue far-reaching sanctions, and the incident could help European Union leaders overcome their hesitation over inflicting damage on the Russian economy.
The international community has called for a full investigation, but right now, all roads appear to be leading to Moscow. Perhaps fearing the fallout from the incident, Putin called for a cease fire in Ukraine.
Swept up in the international crisis are the major oil companies – BP and ExxonMobil – who fear their bottom line taking a big hit from Russia's growing isolation.
James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com contributed this article to the ARRA News Service. OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site. Nicholas Cunningham is a Washington DC-based writer on energy and environmental issues. You can follow him on twitter at @nickcunningham1.
Tags: U.S., sanctions, Russia, isolation, Oil Companies, BP, ExxonMobil, Malaysia Airliner To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Bordering on Madness
One of the things that make the history of clashes over race or ethnicity such a history of tragedies around the world is that -- regardless of whatever particular issue sets off these clashes -- many people see the ultimate stakes as their worth as human beings. On that, there is no room for compromise, but only polarization. That is why playing "the race card" is such an irresponsible and dangerous political game.
The real issue when it comes to immigration is not simply what particular immigration policy America should have, but whether America can have any immigration policy at all.
A country that does not control its own borders does not have any immigration policy. There may be laws on the books, but such laws are just meaningless words if people from other countries can cross the borders whenever they choose.
One of the reasons why many Americans are reluctant to keep out illegal immigrants -- or even to call them "illegal immigrants," instead of using the mealy-mouthed word "undocumented" -- is that most Hispanics they encounter seem to be decent, hard-working people.
This column has pointed out, more than once, that I have never seen Mexicans standing on a street corner begging, though I have seen both whites and blacks doing so.
But such impressions are no basis for deciding serious issues about immigration and citizenship. When we do not control our own borders, we have no way of knowing how many of those coming across those borders are criminals or even terrorists.
We have no way of knowing how many of those children are carrying what diseases that will spread to our children. And we already know, from studies of American children, that those who are raised without fathers in the home have a high probability of becoming huge, expensive problems for taxpayers in the years ahead, and a mortal danger to others.
A hundred years ago, when there was a huge influx of immigrants from Europe, there were extensive government studies of what those immigrants did in the United States. There were data on how many, from what countries, ended up in jail, diseased or on the dole. There were data on how well their children did in school.
As with most things, some immigrant groups did very well and others did not do nearly as well. But today, even to ask such questions is to be considered mean-spirited.
Such information as we have today shows that immigrants from some countries have far more education than immigrants from some other countries, and do not end up being supported by the taxpayers nearly as often as immigrants from other countries. But such information is seldom mentioned in discussions of immigrants, as if they were abstract people in an abstract world.
Questions about immigration and citizenship are questions about irreversible decisions that can permanently change the composition of the American population and the very culture of the country -- perhaps in the direction of the cultures of the countries from which illegal immigrants have fled.
During the era of epidemics that swept across Europe in centuries past, people fleeing from those epidemics often spread the diseases to the places to which they fled. Counterproductive and dangerous cultures can be spread to America the same way.
Willful ignorance is not the way to make immigration decisions or any other decisions. Yet the Obama administration is keeping secret even where they are dumping illegal immigrants by the thousands, in communities far from the border states.
Looking before we leap is not racism -- except in the sense that anything the Obama administration doesn't like is subject to being called racist.
Americans who gather to protest the high-handed way this administration has sneaked illegal immigrants into their communities can expect the race card to be played against them. The time is long overdue to stop being intimidated by such cheap -- and dangerous -- political tactics.
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago and degrees from Columbia University and Harvard University. He is a retired professor of Economic and presently is a Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Visit his website with list of other articles.
Tags: Thomas Sowell, commentary, illegal immigration, Obama administration, calling opponents racist To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Why Does Anyone Defend Hamas And The Palestinian Culture Of Death?
“Why in God’s name does anyone show sympathy, and support for a terrorist organization?” ~ Former Congressman Allen West, Lt. Col., USA-Retired
by David M. Huntwork, Contributing Author: And that is the question that should be asked. It boggles the mind and offends the senses that there is EVEN ONE MEMBER OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION who is upset that Israel is pummeling the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Under Ariel Sharon, Israel forcibly removed its citizens from Gaza and turned the land over to the Arabs. Israel has been rewarded for that gesture of conciliation with the abduction and killing of its citizens and the launching of hundreds of rockets into its territory.
Such provocations have finally goaded the state of Israel into launching a ground invasion of Gaza to take on the infamous Hamas, a terrorist group famous for hiding behind women and children even as they target the same. Death and destruction is a deserving end to all those who purposefully target, kidnap, and murder young, innocent civilians. That’s the tragic event that triggered this latest round of the current conflict. May all those in Gaza who support such practices pay a very severe price for doing so.
In reality, Hamas has constructed a terror state on the border of Israel which, at its core, seeks to fulfill the vision of Hitler and “drive the Jews into the sea.” And now, right on cue, the Left, and the Muslims it has allowed into the West, are now marching, protesting, and rioting outside synagogues shouting “Death to the Jews” and “Hitler was right.” It is disgusting for any member of the supposedly civilized West to embrace the cult of the belly-bombers and they should be roundly condemned at every opportunity. It seems that every generation forgets the lessons of history.
The enemies that Israel faces have a long history of hostage taking, targeted killings of children, the slaughter of innocents for political purposes, airline and ship hijackings, machine gunning at airports, suicide bombings and civilian massacres. Couched in the language of liberation and the struggle for a homeland, is always a thinly - veiled crusade to slaughter Jews at every opportunity and orchestrate the destruction of the state of Israel.
Perhaps Zahir Muhsein, a former PLO executive committee member, stated it best in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw on March 31, 1977.
In fact Hamas, purposefully and as a matter or policy and strategy, welcomes the death of the civilians it hides behind during these periods of conflict (for propaganda purposes) while the Israelis themselves are sallying forth in an effort to protect civilians from acts of terrorism. There is a stark difference and no moral equivalency between the two.
The Bible tells us that Ishmael will be “a wild one, and that he will be against everyone, and everyone will feel the same towards him, but that he will live near the rest of his relatives.” Israel is an island of civilization in a sea of barbarism and Islamic fanaticism. The struggle of the Israeli people to preserve their state and their existence continues to this day and they deserve the support of the civilized world against the barbarians of the modern age.
Whether one likes it or not, the physical state of Israel exists and is here to stay. Israel's Arab neighbors can either choose to accept the reality of the situation and peacefully coexist with the Jewish state, or accept the sometimes tough consequences of waging war upon it. If you kick a hornet’s nest, you might just get stung. As any homeowner will tell you, you may not get to choose your neighbors but how you treat them can make a huge difference in the end. You can choose to get along with them as best you can, or you can set yourself up for a lifetime of misery. That is the choice the people of Gaza and all those that border Israel must make, and the right decision will put them on a path to peace.
Video Reference on Hamas: Hezbollah With Hamas Brothers In Arms Will Destroy The Zionist Disease Israel
David Huntwork is a conservative activist, blogger, and columnist, and the proud father of three daughters. The son, grandson, and great-grandson of Ministers of the Gospel he brings a unique blended background of theology and ideology to the great debates of the day. He believes that Faith, Family, and Freedom is the formula for success and the key to a good life and a healthy nation. David blogs at TheConservativeCitizen.com and is a contributing author at the ARRA News Service. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Hamas, Palestinian culture of death, David Huntwork To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
GAO Sting Finds It Easy to Fake It & Get Obamacare Subsidized Premiums
The House reconvened today at 10 AM. The House will consider today:
H.R. 3136 — "To establish a demonstration program for competency-based education."
H.R. 4984 - to amend the loan counseling requirements under Higher Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4983 — "To simplify and streamline the information regarding institutions of higher education made publicly available by the Secretary of Education, and for other purposes."
H.R. 5134 — "To extend the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity and the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance for one year."
Yesterday the House passed:
H.R. 1022 (260-143) — "To develop an energy critical elements program, to amend the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980, and for other purposes."
H.R. 2430 (Voice Vote) — "To adjust the boundaries of Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park to include Hinchliffe Stadium, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3716 (Voice Vote) — "To ratify a water settlement agreement affecting the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3802 (Voice Vote) — "To extend the legislative authority of the Adams Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in honor of former President John Adams and his legacy, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4411(404-0) — "To prevent Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4450 (347-57) — "To extend the Travel Promotion Act of 2009, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4508 (Voice Vote) — "To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services."
H.R. 4562 (Voice Vote) — "To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska."
H.R. 4572 (Voice Vote) — "To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to extend expiring provisions relating to the retransmission of signals of television broadcast stations, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4802 (Voice Vote) — "To improve intergovernmental planning for and communication during security incidents at domestic airports, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4803 (Voice Vote) — "To require the Transportation Security Administration to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4812 (Voice Vote) — "To amend title 49, United States Code, to require the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration to establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service, and for other purposes."
H.R. 5035 (Voice Vote) — "To reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and for other purposes."
H.R. 5120 (Voice Vote) — "To improve management of the National Laboratories, enhance technology commercialization, facilitate public-private partnerships, and for other purposes."
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today and resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2569, a bill that would change the tax code concerning tax breaks for moving expenses for certain corporations.
At 11 AM, the Senate voted 93-7 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to (i.e. agreed to take up and consider) S. 2569. The Senate then confirmed Andrew Shapiro to be Ambassador to the Czech Republic and two other nominees by voice votes.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 100-0 to confirm 3 district judge nominees for California, Florida, and Louisiana.
The AP reports, “Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday. . . . The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office told a House committee that its investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts - even after HealthCare.gov's much maligned online system flagged some applications as problematic. The GAO is still paying premiums for the policies, even as the Obama administration attempts to verify phony documentation. Those follow-up verification checks also appeared to need tightening; the GAO said parts of the fake documentation it submitted for two applications actually got through the process.”
The Washington Post adds, “In undercover tests of the new federal health insurance marketplace, government investigators have been able to procure health plans and federal subsidies for fake applicants with fictitious documents, according to findings that will be disclosed to lawmakers Wednesday. The results of the inquiry by the Government Accountability Office are evidence of still-imperfect work by specialists intended to assist new insurance customers as well as government contractors hired to verify that coverage and subsidies are legitimate. The GAO also pointed to flaws that linger in the marketplace’s Web site, HealthCare.gov. According to testimony to be delivered before a House Ways and Means subcommittee, undercover GAO investigators tried to obtain health plans for a dozen fictitious applicants online or by phone, using invalid or missing Social Security numbers or inaccurate citizenship information. All but one of the fake applicants ended up getting subsidized coverage — and have kept it. In one instance, an application was denied but then approved on a second try. In six other attempts to sign up fake applicants via in-person assisters, just one assister accurately told an investigator that the applicant’s income was too high for a subsidy. . . . The GAO investigation was requested before the marketplace opened in the fall, by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.); Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr. (R-La.), chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee; and Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).”
NBC News gives some more details of the investigation. “The GAO launched the sting to check to see how well the Obamacare process checks for counterfeit applications. The results were messy, GAO’s Seto Bagdoyan says in testimony prepared for a hearing Wednesday of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. . . . The GAO operatives made up 18 applications -– 12 applied online or by telephone, and six started out looking for in-person help. All were completely false, with fake incomes and counterfeit documentation. Only one of the group of 12 was correctly told he or she could not apply. . . . The other 11 got through and received federal subsidies to help pay for their health insurance. . . . ‘We are seeing a trend with Obamacare information systems: under every rock, there is incompetence, waste and the potential for fraud,’ committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, told NBC News. ‘Last month, we found that the administration was unable to verify income or eligibility for insurance subsidies. Now, we learn that in many cases, the exchange is unable to screen out fake identities or documents.’”
Of course, this investigation by the GAO highlights yet another broken promise from the Obama administration about Obamacare. In January, then Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote, “I certify that the American Health Benefit Exchanges (Marketplaces) verify that applicants for advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions are eligible for such payments and reductions . . . .”
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this month, “We knew the promises wouldn’t hold up. Many of us said so. One even earned the dubious distinction of being declared the ‘Lie of Year.’ And that’s why it’s so hard to trust much of what the Obama Administration claims about Obamacare these days. Like back in December, when Administration officials issued another promise — that they’d make sure that any taxpayer-funded Obamacare subsidies would only go to enrollees who’d actually qualified for them under the law. . . . [I]t turns out we were right to worry. The Inspector General concluded that the Administration was often ineffective at verifying such basic details about Obamacare enrollees as their citizenship status, their income, their Social Security number, and whether or not they were even eligible to purchase Obamacare in the first place.” And today’s news about the GAO’s investigation is just more evidence of this.
Tags: Washington, D.C., The Sting, GAO, fake it, Obamacare, subsidized premiums To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
GAO Undercover Investigators Expose Obamacare
Obamacare Pays ‘Subsidies For Fake Applicants With Fictitious Documents’“Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's health care law.” (“Undercover Probe Finds Health Law Failings,” AP, 7/22/14)
“The GAO operatives made up 18 applications – 12 applied online or by telephone, and six started out looking for in-person help. All were completely false, with fake incomes and counterfeit documentation.” (“GAO Sting Finds It Easy to Fake It, Get Obamacare Premiums,” NBC News, 7/22/14)
“In undercover tests of the new federal health insurance marketplace, government investigators have been able to procure health plans and federal subsidies for fake applicants with fictitious documents, according to findings that will be disclosed to lawmakers Wednesday.” (“Federal Undercover Investigation Signs Up Fake Applicants For ACA Coverage, Subsidies,” The Washington Post, 7/22/14)</>
Wider Problem: “2.6 Million ‘Inconsistencies’” Among Obamacare Applicants“The GAO testimony contains updates on that problem, saying that, as of mid-July, about 2.6 million ‘inconsistencies’ existed among applicants who had chosen a health plan...” (“Federal Undercover Investigation Signs Up Fake Applicants For ACA Coverage, Subsidies,” The Washington Post, 7/22/14)
Another Broken PromiseFormer HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius: “I certify that the American Health Benefit Exchanges (Marketplaces) verify that applicants for advance payments of the premium tax credit and cost-sharing reductions are eligible for such payments and reductions, consistent with the requirements of section 1411 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…” (Sec. Sebelius, Letter To Vice President Biden, 1/1/14)
Tags: GAO, undercover investigators, Obamacare, failures, broken promises To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Twenty Thousand Mourn Lone American Israeli Soldier
That is a staggering figure to Israelis. Proportionally, given the relative size of the American and Israeli populations, it would be like Americans waking up to headlines reporting that nearly 500 U.S. soldiers were killed in one battle.
While much attention has been focused on the threat from rockets, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a growing danger presented by the complex of "terror tunnels." Israel has discovered dozens of these incredibly sophisticated tunnels, reinforced with concrete and some dug as deep as 100 feet.
Many originate in apartment buildings, some open up underneath mosques. One senior Israeli military official described the tunnels as "almost entirely hidden on the surface and as elaborate as a labyrinth." This weekend's fighting was especially fierce because the area involved is believed to be a nexus of the tunnel complex, and Hamas is desperate to protect it.
Hamas fighters have used the tunnels to ambush and, if they can, kidnap Israeli soldiers. Many experts fear that Hamas really intends to use the tunnels to launch "Mumbai-style" terror attacks inside Israel. (In 2008, 10 Pakistani jihadists killed 164 people during a bloody rampage across Mumbai, India.)
Israeli forces thwarted at least two such tunnel attacks today. Separate reports indicate that seven Israeli soldiers were killed.
It's worth reminding readers that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, uprooting thousands of Jewish families in the process, even relocating Jewish graves. In exchange, Israel did not get peace. Instead, Hamas seized control of Gaza and turned it into a launching pad for more terror attacks.
As mentioned previously, two of the Israeli soldiers killed in the recent fighting were also U.S. citizens. One of them, First Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, was known as a "lone soldier," a reference to Israeli soldiers whose family members live outside of Israel. In Sgt. Carmeli's case, his parents live in Texas.
Sgt. Carmeli was laid to rest yesterday. According to one report, Carmeli was a "huge fan" of the Maccabi Haifa soccer team. Realizing Carmeli's status as a lone soldier, the team reportedly posted a message on its Facebook page urging fans to attend his burial "so that his funeral wouldn't be deserted."
What happened next should warm the heart of every American: A reported 20,000 Israeli mourners showed up to pay their last respects to this young Jewish American soldier.
What more do you need to know about the two sides in this conflict?
My friends, after the horrific atrocity of 9/11, Palestinians rushed into the streets of Gaza and the West Bank to celebrate the mass murder of thousands of Americans. Israelis lowered their flag and wept with us.
Israel and the United States are bound together by history and culture. Our nations share a common bond of justice and belief in the virtues of Western Civilization. And we face a common enemy in the evil of radical Islamism, which is today stoking the fires of anti-Semitism and war.
That is why I will always "Stand With Israel!"
Tags: Israel, thousands mourn, American, Israeli soldier, killed, Hamas tunnels, Nissim Sean Carmeli, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Persecution A Mute Point At Obama White House
Tony Perkins' Washington Update: As Iraqi Christians fled Mosul this weekend, the horror of having to leave home because of one's faith was met with the further indignity of being stripped of all but the clothes on their backs. The jihadists of ISIS forced out the last remaining Christians whose legacy in Mosul goes back to the very origins of Christianity. According to early church history it was two of Jesus' original disciples that carried the gospel to what we know today as Iraq. Not only are the Christians being driven from their homes -- when fleeing families reached checkpoints out of the city, they were told to get out of their cars and leave all their money and possessions behind. The generosity of the ISIS extremists extended only as far as allowing them to keep what they were wearing -- after they had removed any jewelry, of course. An entire city purged of Christians.
So far, the response from the Obama White House has been consistent with its standard practice when Christians are the target of persecution: silence. Even the United Nations Security Council has weighed in, condemning the persecution of Christians in Iraq. Can't the White House at the very least offer a simple condemnation? The only response from the administration since the expulsion of Christians occurred yesterday at a State Department press briefing where a spokesperson gave a fumbling answer to the press which merely referred to last week's statement about ISIS. A reporter's question, "So you're currently not doing anything?" was met with, "I can check and see specifically. I just don't know."
As I told Megyn Kelly last night on Fox News, President Obama has been silent continuously when Christians have been persecuted. The administration is more concerned about offending Islamic states and Islamic nations than they are defending the longstanding policy that American has always had: that religious freedom is a human right, not just an American right.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
Tags: Christian, persecution, mute point, Obama White House, Tony Perkins, Washington Update To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Equal pay for women! Senator Udall: "Do As I Say, Not As I Do"
Bill Smith, Editor: You most likely have heard the liberal mantra, "Equal Pay For Women" time and time again by liberal politicians. But do they really mean it? Or are they just paying lip service to gain favor with women voters?
There’s only one way to know for sure. Look at the data- examine the public record! Research the salaries of politician’s staffs to see if they really do offer equal pay for both men and women employees.
A Colorado watchdog citizen did just that. They dug into the data and found that U.S. Senator Mark Udall pays his women staffers 86 cents for every dollar earned by the men. In some cases, the male staffers were earning over $9,000 more than women staffers. The report is below.
The researcher is not telling Senator Udall how to pay his staff. But if Udall and and other politicians are going to preach equal pay for women, they should follow their own advice.
Are there inconsistencies in what your nationally or state representative, senators and other elected officials say and what they do? Find the public record and then call them out!
Try to get a response from your elected representative either directly or through the local media. If there is a Franklin Institute Watch Dog group in your state, they will be interest and may assist. However, if there are no local medial outlets or groups to help get the attention of your elected official or to publish your documented data, put your name and contact info on your report and email it to the ARRA News Service. It must be pithy but detailed enough to make your case. And, no false accusations. After review, your report may be published with your byline. Consider the following excellent example and avoid getting lost in preconceived agenda or in the weeds and misconceived liberal mantras regarding variances in pay. Let the data make your case.
Data from the site Legistorm, shows that, on average, Sen. Udall pays his women staffers 86 cents for every dollar earned by the men. The analysis covered Federal Fiscal Year 2013 (October 2012 – September 2013), and included only full-time staffers who had been on staff the entire fiscal year. The 17 women earned an average of just over $58,000 for FY13, while the 14 men earned $67,300.
House staffs are much smaller. Consequently, Rep. Gardner employed only six women and four men for the duration of the fiscal year. However, Gardner’s office paid the women an average of $55,000, with the men earning just over $46,000.
The difference is almost completely accounted for by the senior staff positions. Udall hired men to serve in the higher-paid Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff positions, while Gardner’s Chief of Staff was a woman.
A similar analysis by the Washington Free Beacon shows that the pay disparity in Udall’s office is common in the Senate, among those who trumpet their support for so-called pay equity laws. In fact, gender pay discrimination has been against the law for decades.
Tags: Equal Pay For Women, report, Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado, Watchdog report, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
ICYMI: FAA Banning Flights To Tel Aviv - Is U.S. Pressing Israel Into Cease-Fire?
by Aaron Klein, WND - Jerusalem: Officials in Jerusalem are quietly wondering whether the Federal Aviation Administration’s prohibition on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv is partially a tactic to pressure Israel into a cease-fire.
The FAA’s decision will likely impact the Israeli economy. The action, while temporary, tarnishes Israel’s image around the world, putting the Jewish state, at least for one day, on par with Third World countries where U.S. flights are banned, including Ethiopia, North Korea, Iraq, Somalia and Libya,
“Due to the potentially hazardous situation created by the armed conflict in Israel and Gaza, all flight operations to/from Ben Gurion International Airport by U.S. operators are prohibited until further advised,” reads an FAA notice to all U.S. airlines.
The FAA decision to ban U.S. flights to Israel for at least 24 hours came after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Yehud, a densely populated neighborhood about one mile from Israel’s international airport, south of Tel Aviv.
Besides the FAA ban, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines indefinitely suspended service to Israel while numerous European airlines also canceled flights, as did Canadian and Turkish airlines.
Even if U.S. flights resume after 24 hours, the FAA decision sets the precedent for more flight bans in the coming days in response to any rockets hitting near the airport.
Aviation experts weighed in, explaining the FAA and airliners are likely taking necessary precautions after a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down by a missile over Ukraine while at cruising altitude, killing all 298 people on board.
Aviation consultant Robert Mann told TheState.com that airlines may be taking a more proactive approach to avoid legal problems after the Malaysia Airlines disaster last week.
“It’s really forcing every carrier, every business jet operator to do their own due diligence, do their own risk assessment, given the geopolitical situation,” Mann said.
Aviation-accident lawyer Jonathan Reiter explained that flying into an airport after a rocket landed nearby could be utilized by passengers in lawsuits claiming negligence.
“I’m sure it is human concern as well,” Reiter told TheState.com, “but I think (the airlines) feel it is wise to err on the side of caution because it is their burden to prove they are doing everything possible to avoid injuries and deaths.”
Israeli officials, for their part, are publicly calling for the U.S. to reverse its decision, with Israel’s Transportation Ministry saying Ben Gurion International Airport is “safe for landings and departures.”
“Ben-Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded, and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize,” the ministry said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene to resume U.S. flights to Israel.
Behind the scenes, several Jerusalem diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity questioned whether the FAA flight-ban was in part a tactic to press Israel into a truce with Hamas. A cease-fire would tentatively stop Hamas’s rocketing of the Jewish state.
Kerry is currently in Egypt in an attempt to negotiate a truce.
State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf suggested to reporters Tuesday that Kerry may stay in the Middle East until progress is made toward a cease-fire.
Earlier Tuesday, after the decision by Delta and United to cancel flights and before the FAA ban was announced, the White House issued a statement saying the airlines were not acting on orders from the U.S. government.
Aaron Klein is WND's senior staff reporter and Jerusalem bureau chief. He also hosts "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on Salem Talk Radio. Follow Aaron on Twitter and Facebook.
Tags: U.S., FAA, banning flights, to Tel Aviv, Israel To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The Nexus of Illegal Drugs and Illegal Immigration
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: All manner of reasons are being offered to explain the influx of thousands of illegal aliens, not the least of which is President Obama’s open invitation to Latin Americans to come here with the promise of becoming citizens at some point. By overloading the southern border, this has opened the doors to criminals and potential terrorists as well.
In March, the Huffington Post took note of the other far lesser known or discussed reason our southern border is so porous. “Americans Spent About A Trillion Dollars on Illegal Drugs in the Last Decade.” With that kind of money awaiting them, you can be sure that the drug cartels are going to make every effort to satisfy the market.
The article was about a Rand Corporation report by its Drug Policy Research Center as requested by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that tracked total expenditures, consumption, and number of users of marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin and methamphetamine. The decade tracked was 2000 to 2010.
Despite federal spending between $40 and $50 billion to fight the war on drugs, “American spending levels on illegal drugs stayed more or less the same.” RAND drew some of its data from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program, but it is no longer funded by the federal government which, one must assume, leaves it unable to know if the market for illegal drugs has expanded, shrunk or stayed the same.
The news about the illegal immigration from Latin American nations has a side to it that has not received much news coverage. It has to do with the views of four-star Marine Corps General John Kelly who heads the U.S. Military’s Southern Command. In a July 8 essay in the Military Times, “Central America Drug War a Dire Threat to U.S. National Security”, Gen. Kelly noted how the drug cartels have overwhelmed the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, rendering any opposition to them too great a threat.
“Due to the insatiable U.S. demand for drugs, particularly cocaine, heroin and now methamphetamines, all produced in Latin American and smuggled into the U.S.” said Gen. Kelly, they have been left “near broken societies” in which the rule of law has been destroyed. How bad is it? According to the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., applications for asylum in neighboring countries—mostly Mexico and Costa Rica—are up 712%,
Cutting off aid to these countries as has been suggested by some will turn them into entities that are little more than names on a map and increase the distress of their law-abiding populations. Indeed, because so many of them have already come to the U.S., the children arriving here have families waiting for them. Seventy-three percent of the 47,017 minors apprehended at the border were from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. They will stay here to be processed by a system that has not deterred the estimated eleven million illegal aliens already living here.
According to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, despite the illegal immigration crisis the U.S. has encountered, Gen. Kelly’s U.S. Southern Command is “only sourced (financed) at five percent of the capacity it needs.” Reducing the funding to the U.S. military has been a priority of the Obama agenda.
Allen West, a former Lt. Colonel and member of the House of Representatives, writing on his July 8 blog, said, “We know Obama has a penchant for turning generals who don’t toe his line and agenda points—like former CENTCOM Commander Marine Corps General Mattis—into civilians, I certainly hope we don’t see another truth-telling general, a commander, called on the carpet by Obama’s lapdog Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel—or worse, getting a call from the Capo di tutti Capi Valerie Jarrett.
The Center for Immigration Studies reports that “a significant majority of children coming across are not unaccompanied alien children according to the definition found in federal law.” As noted above they have family here in the U.S. Moreover, “there is little evidence to suggest that the recent arrivals are victims of trafficking which involves coercion.” Their families have paid smugglers to bring them to the U.S.”
While we read and hear references to those who smuggle immigrants to the U.S. border, known as “coyotes”, an Associated Press report noted a 2010 U.N. study that estimated this “service” generated $6.6. billion for the smugglers as the migrants pay anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 each for the journey across thousands of miles “in the care of smuggling networks that in turn pay off government officials, gangs operating on trains and drug cartels controlling the routes north.”
The appetite for illegal drugs that has been a part of life in the U.S. for many citizens has contributed to the illegal alien flow from the Latin American nations whose governments have been undermined by the drug cartels. It’s a vicious circle that is not likely to be broken any time soon, if ever.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service.
Tags: Nexus, illegal drugs, illegal immigration, Alan Caruba, Warning Signs To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
No Confidence: If the U.S. Was in Israel’s Shoes
Taking Note Of Paul Krugman Quiet Departure From Princeton
Not long, as these things go, before his departure was announced Krugman thoroughly was indicted and publicly eviscerated for intellectual dishonesty by Harvard’s Niall Ferguson in a hard-hitting three-part series in the Huffington Post, beginning here, and with a coda in Project Syndicate, all summarized at Forbes.com. Ferguson, on Krugman:
Shortly after Krugman’s departure was announced no less than the revered Paul Volcker, himself a Princeton alum, made a comment — subject unnamed — sounding as if directed at Prof. Krugman. It sounded like “Don’t let the saloon doors hit you on the way out. Bub.”
To the Daily Princetonian (later reprised by the Wall Street Journal, Volcker stated with refreshing bluntness:
Taught at Princeton by … whom?
Paul Krugman, perhaps? Krugman, last year, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times entitled Not Enough Inflation. It betrayed an extremely louche, at best, attitude toward inflation’s insidious dangers. Smoking gun?
Volcker’s comment, in full context:
Inflation is a bad thing. Period. Most of all it cheats working people and those on fixed incomes who Krugman pretends to champion. Volcker comes down squarely, with Witherspoon, on the side of monetary integrity. Krugman, cloaked in undignified sanctimony, comes down, again and again, on the side of … monetary finagling.
Krugman consistently misrepresents his opponents’ positions, constructs fictive straw men, addresses marginal figures, and ignores inconvenient truths set forward by figures of probity such as the Bank of England and the Bundesbank, thoughtful work such as that by Member of Parliament (with a Cambridge Ph.D. in economic history) Kwasi Kwarteng, and, right here at home, respected thought leaders such as Steve Forbes and Lewis E. Lehrman (with whose Institute this writer has a professional affiliation).
Professor Krugman, on July 7, 2014, undertook to issue yet another of his fatwas on proponents of the classical gold standard. His New York Times op-ed, Beliefs, Facts and Money, Conservative Delusions About Inflation, was brim full of outright falsehoods and misleading statements. Krugman:
Reality, however, declined to cooperate. Although the Fed continued on its expansionary course — its balance sheet has grown to more than $4 trillion, up fivefold since the start of the crisis — inflation stayed low.
... Many on the right are hostile to any kind of government activism, seeing it as the thin edge of the wedge — if you concede that the Fed can sometimes help the economy by creating “fiat money,” the next thing you know liberals will confiscate your wealth and give it to the 47 percent. Also, let’s not forget that quite a few influential conservatives, including Mr. Ryan, draw their inspiration from Ayn Rand novels in which the gold standard takes on essentially sacred status.
And if you look at the internal dynamics of the Republican Party, it’s obvious that the currency-debasement, return-to-gold faction has been gaining strength even as its predictions keep failing.
Lewis E. Lehrman, protege of French monetary policy giant Jacques Rueff, Reagan Gold Commissioner, and founder and chairman of the Lehrman Institute, arguably is the most prominent contemporary advocate for the classical gold standard. Lehrman never rendered a prediction of imminent “runaway inflation.” Only a minority of classical gold standard proponents are on record with “dire” warnings, certainly not this columnist. So… who is Krugman talking about?
Of the nearly two-dozen signers of (a fairly mildly stated concern) open letter to Bernanke which Krugman cites as prime evidence, only one or two are really notable members of the “return-to-gold faction.” Perhaps a few other signers might have shown some themselves in sympathy the gold prescription. Most, however, were, and are, agnostic about, or even opposed to, the gold standard.
Indicting gold standard proponents for a claim made by gold’s agnostics and opponents is a wrong, cheap, bad faith, argument. More bad faith followed immediately. Whatever inspiration Rep. Paul Ryan draws from novelist Ayn Rand, Ryan is by no means a gold standard advocate. And very few “influential conservatives” (unnamed) “draw their inspiration” from Ayn Rand.
Nor are most proponents of the classical gold standard motivated by a fear that paper money is an entering wedge for liberals to “confiscate your wealth and give it to the 47 percent.” A commitment to gold is rooted, for most, in the correlation between the gold standard and equitable prosperity. Income inequality demonstrably has grown far more virulent under the fiduciary Federal Reserve Note regime — put in place by President Nixon — than it was, for instance, under the Bretton Woods gold+gold-convertible-dollar system.
Krugman goes wrong through and through. No wonder Ferguson wrote: “I agree with Raghuram Rajan, one of the few economists who authentically anticipated the financial crisis: Krugman’s is “the paranoid style in economics." Krugman, perversely standing with Nixon, takes a reactionary, not progressive, position. The readers of the New York Times really deserve better.
Volcker is right. “The responsibility of any central bank is price stability.” Krugman is wrong.
Prof. Krugman was indicted and flogged publicly by Niall Ferguson. Krugman thereafter announced his departure from Princeton. On his way out Krugman, it appears, was reprimanded by Paul Volcker. Krugman has been a disgrace to Princeton. Is he leaving Princeton in quiet disgrace?
Tags: Paul Krugman, economics, departure, Princeton, Ralph Benko To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obamacare Gutted In Halbig Ruling
Fairfax, Va.— Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement praising the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Halbig v. Burwell, finding that Obamcare exchange subsidies cannot be given in states that set up their own exchanges under an IRS regulation:
"Not only are the subsidies illegal per the court's ruling, because those subsidies would not be distributed under the decision, the enforceability of both the individual and employer mandates' tax penalties—which depend on those subsidies—has been kneecapped. Meaning, should the ruling stand, the IRS will have no way of penalizing employers and millions of Americans for failing to purchase health insurance in the 36 states.
"Should this ruling withstand scrutiny all the way through the Supreme Court, it will be the end of Obamacare in those 36 states. It will be such a mess that perhaps the only solution will be for Congress to repeal the law. The 36 state legislatures and governors that refused to implement the exchanges are to be praised—as they may have enabled the nation to dodge the Obamacare bullet."
Tags: Americans for Limited Government, Nathan Mehrens, statement, U.S. Court of Appeals, the District of Columbia, Halbig v. Burwell, decision, Obamacare, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obamacare Still Hurting Americans | Has Insurance But Can’t Find A Doctor | Limited Choices For Doctors And Hospitals
Today in Washington, D.C. - July 22, 2014
The House reconvened at Noon. Bills anticipated to be considered today:
H.R. 1022 — "To develop an energy critical elements program, to amend the National Materials and Minerals Policy, Research and Development Act of 1980, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3716 — "To ratify a water settlement agreement affecting the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4508 — "To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services."
H.R. 4562 — "To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska."
H.R. 4572 — "To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to extend expiring provisions relating to the retransmission of signals of television broadcast stations, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4803 — "To require the Transportation Security Administration to conform to existing Federal law and regulations regarding criminal investigator positions, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4812 — "To amend title 49, United States Code, to require the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration to establish a process for providing expedited and dignified passenger screening services for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built and dedicated to honor their service, and for other purposes."
H.R. 5035 — "To reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and for other purposes."
H.R. 5120 — "To improve management of the National Laboratories, enhance technology commercialization, facilitate public-private partnerships, and for other purposes."
The Senate reconvened at 10 AM today. Following 45 minutes, of morning business, the Senate then voted on cloture on 3 district judge nominees for California, Florida, and Louisiana. Yet again, Democrats used their nuclear option to break Senate rules an allow cloture votes on nominees to succeed with fewer than 60 votes. All three of today’s nominations did so.
At 2:15 PM, senators will vote on confirmation of the 3 district court nominees considered this morning.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 94-0 to confirm Julie Carnes to be United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit.
A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled (2-1) that subsidies may not be offered in the federal health exchange. The decision overturned a lower court ruling. Hours later. the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld (3-0) the Obama administration's arguments that subsidies can be applied in the federal exchange. As a result these cases will be appealed and heard by the Supreme Court.
The Tampa Bay Times wrote yesterday, “Charlene Lake thought she got a decent deal through the Affordable Care Act marketplace: a Humana HMO that included a family doctor a few miles from her home. Five months later, Lake wonders if she can even use the insurance she bought. Her plan's dominant health care provider, JSA Medical Group, recently announced that it would take no new patients covered by Humana's exchange HMOs at least until fall. That leaves Lake no choice but to use the community health centers left in her plan's network, rather than the traditional physician's practice on which she planned. . . . [T]he case also shows the downside of limiting consumer choice of physicians through what is known as narrow networks. Or, in Lake's case, a network so narrow it barely exists. ‘You can't make people sign up for a health care plan and then not have a doctor,’ said Lake, a St. Petersburg antiques dealer who is in her 50s. . . . [F]or now, Lake, the St. Petersburg resident, is stuck. She wonders why she's even considered a new patient since she saw a JSA doctor in May. When she called his office recently, the staff told her it was JSA's decision to drop her, not the doctor's. She tried four times one day last week to reach a health center in her network on the campus of Bayfront Health St. Petersburg. No one answered the phone. ‘This is a complete mess,’ she said. ‘They took away my doctor who I had gotten in to see within a few days because they claimed the patient load was too much and replaced him with an office that doesn't even answer their phone.’ Other Humana exchange customers say they've noticed cancellations by JSA physicians. James Trizis, a 52-year-old Clearwater diner owner, said JSA recently rescheduled a September checkup for April. Trizis, who has a heart condition, said he worries that preventative care — a key part of the ACA — will get short shrift. ‘My primary care for me and my family is going to be the emergency room,’ he said.”
The Times noted, “Nationwide, about 70 percent of the lowest-priced plans sold on the exchanges are considered to have narrow networks, according to a study by industry consultant McKinsey & Co. And they've caused problems. In California, for instance, insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross faces multiple consumer lawsuits over its use of narrow networks, with some policyholders saying the company had misled people with inaccurate provider lists. Humana isn't the only Florida provider with network issues; Florida Blue consumers in South Florida told the Miami Herald they had problems getting doctors listed in their directories to accept their plans. . . . In the Tampa Bay area, Humana put most of its primary care business into the hands of JSA, a major physicians group that has long handled the insurer's Medicare Advantage customers. JSA has nearly 165 affiliated and employed physicians in the region. . . . Humana's online directory appears to offer plenty of choices. Last week, HMO customers in St. Petersburg had their choice of around 120 primary-care doctors within a 15-mile radius of downtown. But nearly all of those listings are JSA doctors . . . . JSA, which is owned by Denver health giant DaVita, confirmed it will not see new Humana HMO patients at least until fall. JSA president Lorie Glisson said it had served almost twice as many Humana exchange patients as it had expected in the Tampa Bay area.”
Politico also examines the problem of narrow networks incentivized by Obamacare in a piece today. “Anger over limited choice of doctors and hospitals in Obamacare plans is prompting some states to require broader networks — and boiling up as yet another election year headache for the health law. . . . It’s not just a political problem. It’s a policy conundrum. Narrow networks help contain health care costs. If state or federal regulators — or politicians — force insurers to expand the range of providers, premiums could spike. And that could create a whole new wave of political and affordability problems that can shape perceptions of Obamacare. . . . Obamacare didn’t create the trend, but it did highlight it, as insurers sought to make premiums as attractive as possible in the new market. About 70 percent of the lowest-cost exchange plans were built on narrow networks this year, according to the consulting firm McKinsey . . . . In New Hampshire, for instance, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the only insurer on the market, and it cut 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals out of its network. That left residents in some rural areas with long commutes to the nearest hospital in their network, and the issue has become a political football in the congressional races there. . . . Incomplete or inaccurate provider directories were rampant in this year’s plans on both the federal and state exchanges, leading consumers to buy plans thinking they cover their doctors only to find out later they do not. . . . Another complication: Even if a patient goes to an in-network hospital, not all the doctors are necessarily part of the plan. For instance, patients can get stuck with thousands of dollars in bills for anesthesia, even if surgery is covered. ‘What we’re seeing is consumers not knowing and getting stuck with high out-of-network bills,’ said Stephanie Mohl, government relations manager at the American Heart Association.”
As Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said last week, “Obamacare has caused countless women to lose the health care plans they had and liked. When these women first spoke out about the betrayal they felt when they lost their plans, many of the law’s supporters waved their concerns away. They said they were lying, or that their plans were ‘junk’ because, of course, they knew better. It’s a pattern that seems to have continued ever since. American women also now have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals under Obamacare. The bill’s supporters have continually waved those concerns aside too. . . . We kept warning [Democrats] that Obamacare would hurt jobs and increase costs. They had to know that Obamacare was going to reduce choices for women and limit their access to certain doctors and hospitals. But Washington Democrats voted for Obamacare anyway. They created these problems. And that’s why they should be working with Republicans now to start over with real, patient-centered reform that lowers costs and that women and men in this country actually want. But they refuse. They’re just doubling down on Obamacare.”
Tags: Obamacare, hrting Americans, have insurance, can't find a doctor, limited choices To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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