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News for social, fiscal & national security conservatives who believe in God, family & the USA. Upholding the rights granted by God & guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, traditional family values, "republican" principles / ideals, transparent & limited "smaller" government, free markets, lower taxes, due process of law, liberty & individual freedom. All content approval rests with the ARRA News Service Editor. Opinions are those of the authors. While varied positions are reported, beliefs & principles remain fixed. No revenue is generated for or by this site - no paid ads accepted - no payments for articles. Fair Use doctrine is posted & used.
Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
Contact: editor@arranewsservice.com (Pub. Since July, 2006)
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Call For Senate To Reject Likely Nominee McCarthy To Head EPA

The Washington Post has reported that the White House could name Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency to head the EPA. If approved she would replace controversial Lisa Jackson who stepped down earlier this month.

Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson has issued the following statement urging the U.S. Senate to reject Gina McCarty  if nominated:"Gina McCarthy's record of mismanagement working for both the Connecticut and Massachusetts environmental protection agencies, coupled with her desire to tell people and companies how they must conduct their business, does not advise her confirmation. The problem with the EPA is not that it lacks staffing, but that it is out of control.

"The EPA is regulating carbon emissions and stormwater without any guidance in the law. It is engaged in a sue-and-settle racket with radical environmentalist groups to expand its powers via judicial assent. And its regulations threaten America's future ability to develop and utilize natural resources, to grow the economy, and to create jobs. This agency is simply too powerful, and operates outside the law.

"Given Obama's State of the Union threat to continue to pursue unilateral executive actions in lieu of climate change legislation, no nominee to the EPA should be confirmed. Rather, bureaucrats there should have to answer for the destruction they are wreaking on the U.S. economy. Unless and until these harmful regulations are rescinded and the sue and settle racket is torn apart, the agency should be defunded, the bureaucrats that work there furloughed, and the offices they work in sold to pay down the deficit."
Other References:
ALG Nominee Alert, Gina McCarthy, November 2011 (Note: issued after her appointment as Asst. Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA)
Obama and his rogue EPA, by ALG President Bill Wilson, Feb. 14, 2013.

Tags: EPA, Rouge Agency, EPA Director, White nominee, potential, Gina McCarthy, ALG, Bill Wilson To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Health Care Law Forces Universal Orlando to Cut Part-Time Employee Health Insurance

In this economy, many Universal Orlando part-time workers will be hit with the double whammy of not being able to find full-time work and losing their health insurance.

Img via Free Enterprise article
by Sean Hackbarth, Free Enterprise: On health care coverage, 2013 is a major transition year for employers and employees as key parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) go into effect in 2014. For part-time workers, the changes aren't good.

The theme park, Universal Orlando, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will stop providing health insurance for part-time employees starting December 31, 2013. The Orlando Sentinel explains:The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. For instance, Universal’s plan costs about $18 a week for employee-only coverage but covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays. There are similar caps for other services.

Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as “mini-med” plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Five hundred workers will be affected. Remember that whole “If you like your plan, you can keep it” business? Tell it to the theme park workers who have the mini-med plan.

The PPACA will also cause the hours of some part-time state workers to vanish in Virginia. Last week, the state legislature passed a bill that would limit part-time workers to 29 hours a week to avoid the PPACA’s employer mandate which kicks in for employees who work 30 or more hours a week.  Community college employees will take the brunt of the cuts.

Ed Morrissey sarcastically calls the Universal Orlando news, “Just another sign of progress for the underemployed!” His snark does remind us that in this economic recovery millions of people have been working part-time involuntarily, "because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.” There’s been some decline in part-time workers since the end of the recession, but it's remained around eight million over the last few months. The economy is not growing fast enough to create enough full-time jobs. Many of these theme park and state workers will be hit with the double whammy of not being able to find full-time work and losing their health insurance.

Expect more news like this as the PPACA jigsaw puzzle comes together. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services issued the final rule on essential health benefits, actuarial value, and accreditation requirements that will direct insurers and states on how they must design health insurance plans in the individual and small group markets starting January 1, 2014. As employers process these new regulations, they’ll make adjustments that could mean changes in health benefits and/or the composition of its workforce.

One of the PPACA’s intentions was to expand health care coverage. That’s not happening in the two cases above. Instead, 2013 has become a case of employers and employees picking up the pieces from the health care law’s myriad of broken promises.
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Editor's note: The post was updated to note that the final rule will direct the design of insurance plans in the individual and small group markets. Sean Hackbarth is a blogger and does policy advocacy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Tags: Health Care Law, Universal Orlando, Florida, health insurance cuts, Part-Time employees To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Friday, February 22, 2013

High Public Debt Damages Economic Growth

T. Elliot Gaiser, Heritage Foundation: When President Obama says he wants “a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth,” he means more government spending. This is why his State of the Union provided a laundry list of new government initiatives that will require new government spending.

As Heritage expert Romina Boccia demonstrates, the problem is that government spending that leads to massive debt actually damages economic growth in the future.
Even without a Greek-style debt crisis, high levels of debt held by the public hamper economic growth and reduce opportunity in America. According to Boccia:A full-fledged fiscal crisis hits a country with the same force as a patient suffering severe trauma. However, a no-drama debt overhang that reduces growth slowly drains the life from the patient, like a long-term disease. The U.S. should not delay adopting a credible strategy to resolve chronic deficits and debt, lest it find itself on the stretcher.Slower economic growth is not an abstract concept. It is a real threat that will harm real people by preventing job creation. It means fewer “Now Hiring” signs and growing stacks of resumes for a shrinking number of available positions. It means fewer people participating in the work force, less pay, and less opportunity, especially for those trying to climb the economic ladder.

One reason high debt harms growth is that government spending crowds out private investment and impedes entrepreneurship. When the federal government spends more money than it takes in, it issues debt, which shows up as deficits. Both foreign governments and private investors purchase this federal debt, which means money that could have gone to investing in new businesses pays for government spending instead.

This is why more government spending, like that advocated in Obama’s State of the Union, actually equals fewer resources for entrepreneurs and less of the innovation that creates opportunity in America. High public debt means fewer future iPhones, medical advancements, and fuel-efficient vehicles.

This is economic reality, not some far-off theory. Just look at Greece or Japan to see the impact national debt has on a nation. In fact, Japan’s debt is preventing its stagnant economy from recovering. As Derek Scissors writes,Now the single biggest reason why Japanese private consumption and investment are weak is that government borrowing has hollowed out the economy.Japanrose for four decades on the back of household saving and a corporate sector that was increasingly competitive internationally. Now household saving goes straight into government spending that has no economic return and the corporate sector is fleeing Japan for environments that have more to offer than public finance.The idea that government spending stimulates economic growth is a failed myth. Deficit spending that adds to the debt actually risks creating higher interest rates for home owners and costly inflation that makes everything, from food to college tuition, more expensive.

America owes it to our children and grandchildren to take the necessary steps to ensure debt does not destroy our future. That’s why Congress should balance the budget over the next decade and begin the important work of restoring America’s Opportunity for All immediately.

Tags: eentitlements, taxes, spending, debt, public debt, depresses economy, the economy, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Universal Coverage | Obamacare's Death Spiral

Fear the Death Spiral!
Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: So Much For "Universal" Coverage  - Socialized medicine, with the promise of universal healthcare coverage, is the crown jewel of the left's big government agenda. In 2007, as he was preparing his campaign for the presidency, Barack Obama told a union convention, "We can have universal health care by … by the end of my first term." Obamacare did not achieve universal coverage by 2012. In fact, it is costing more and more people the coverage they currently have.

Tuesday we told you that the CEO of Kroger grocery stores acknowledged that his company was contemplating dropping its health insurance because of Obamacare. This week it was reported that Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, will no longer be offering health insurance to its part-time employees as of December 31st of this year.

Why not? According to the Orlando Sentinel, the policy Universal offered its part-time employees "will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act."

Let me repeat that so no one is confused or tempted to blame "corporate greed" for hurting the "little guy." According to the Orlando Sentinel, the policy Universal offered its part-time employees "will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act."

As many as 500 Universal employees stand to lose their current health insurance because of Obamacare. The Sentinel also reports that Walt Disney World is currently evaluating the impact on its 1,400 part-time employees who currently have health insurance policies that will be banned by Obamacare.

This is happening all over the country, and, again, it's not because of "evil" Big Business. Small businesses and the self-employed are getting slammed too. This week I received the following email from a supporter:"Dear Mr. Bauer,

I just wanted to let you know that my husband and I have recently received a termination letter from our insurance company. We are self-employed and are covered by private insurance... The letter stated they will no longer be offering our plan in California and suggested we sign up in October with a state exchange. Nice, huh? What happened to "If you like your health plan you can keep it"?
As time goes on and the onerous burdens of Obamacare increase, remind your friends and family members that it was Obama and his party that created this mess. Remember that when it comes time to go to the polls in 2014.

Obamacare's "Death Spiral" Many conservatives warned that Obamacare would not work. Even liberals complained it did not go far enough. Some have speculated that it may have been designed to fail, setting up the left to push for its real goal -- a single-payer, socialized system -- when it finally collapses.

In that same 2007 speech, Barack Obama also said, "I don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There's going to be potentially some transition process." Obamacare is that "transition process."

A column this week in Investor's Business Daily explains why. Obamacare is actually making private health insurance more expensive, dramatically so for younger workers, and creating a "death spiral" for the private insurance industry. Consider these excerpts:"But as ObamaCare's official launch date approaches, even its backers are beginning to admit that the law could actually create powerful incentives for millions of people and thousands of businesses to drop their coverage, despite the mandate. There is growing concern, for example, that the law's market reforms will cause a huge 'rate shock,' particularly for those young and healthy.

"A February survey of major health insurance companies in five cities across the country found that they expect premiums for this group to climb an average 169%. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said late last year that he expects premiums to double for some small businesses and some individuals as a result of the law. …

"The problem is that if the young and healthy drop coverage, the result would be what the industry calls a 'death spiral.' Premiums will climb as the pool of insured gets sicker, causing still more to cancel their policies."
As insurance costs skyrocket and more and more Americans remain uninsured, Democrats will never admit they were wrong about Obamacare. The left will simply contend that it wasn't allowed to go far enough, and the push for a full-fledged socialized healthcare system as the only alternative will begin in earnest.
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Gary Bauer is is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families where his articles are also shared.

Tags: Obamacare, universal coverage, death spiral, 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. Thanks!

Obama and the Seuss-quester

by Amy Payne (Heritage Foundation) with original artwork by Glenn Foden: On Pennsylvania Avenue, right near the end, there lived a President who wanted to spend.

He knew spending meant power, so hour by hour, he thought up more spends from his Washington tower.

“I’ll spend without limits; I’ll spend without blame! Raising taxes to pay—that’s the name of the game.”
Down the street, though, a House filled with thriftier folk had a budget to pass, or the country’d go broke. “We can’t spend all day; we’ve got bills to pay! Let’s keep deficits and higher taxes away.”

The Senate next door to the House just refused. “We don’t like your budget. We’ve got some bad news: The President says we can spend all we want, and we’ll simply raise taxes whenever we choose.”

So they spent and they spent and they borrowed some more. And when all that was spent, they spent same as before.

But not everyone thought the spending was nice. In the House and the Senate, some spenders thought twice. “We’ll cut down on spending. We have a bad feeling…” then—SMACK!—right on schedule, they hit the debt ceiling.

Then the President’s office, confronted with debt: “If it’s cuts they want now, then it’s cuts they shall get. We’ll threaten such cuts that NO one would take, and show them that cuts are not smart to make.”

“This will make Congress move. We’ll just float out a tester… broad, haphazard cuts that we’ll call the sequester.”

The Senate and even the House said, “Okay! That will motivate us to find a good way. We’ll figure this out and stave off those cuts—to allow them to happen, we’d have to be nuts.”

So the deadline was set, but the spending went on. A year and a half had soon come and gone. The House passed a budget; the Senate said no; the President very much enjoyed the show.

“Spend higher! Spend faster! Grow the welfare rolls! Soon, love for the spending will show up in the polls.” He even raised taxes, but it wasn’t enough—the levels of spending grew too fast to keep up.

“Don’t you mind the sequester,” he told Capitol Hill. “You said you would fix it, and I’m sure you will.”

But they could not agree on ways to cut spending, and before they knew it, the sequester was pending.

“Oh no!” they all cried. “We can’t let these cuts stand!”

And the President said, “WHO thought of this terrible plan?”

They didn’t remember his plan all along. He distracted them with his spending-cut song. Now he returned to save them from harm, and to keep them forgetting all but his charm.

So the President said with a glint in his eye, “You tried to cut spending. I saw how you tried. But it’s just too painful—I’m sure you can see. From the beginning, you should have listened to me.”

“I’ll save you all from the spend-cutters’ axes. You see, the solution is just to raise taxes.”

We don’t know yet how this story will end. Will Congress raise taxes and continue to spend? We need a balanced budget with smarter cuts—reforming entitlements will take guts. Let the President know that we’re onto his plan. Share this story with as many people as you can.

Tags: Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation, Glenn Foden, artist, Suess-quester, balance, balanced budget, Barack Obama, congress, debt, Debt Ceiling, deficit, Morning Bell, President Obama, sequester, Sequestration, spending, tax hikes, tax increases To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Buy a shotgun!

by William Warren:

Tags: Joe Biden, buy a shotgun, Barack Obama, prefers drones To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Again, Obama Places Campaigning Over Sequester Solution

“Too often with this White House, the solution to any challenge is ramping up campaign-style events. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail." ~ Charlie Cook, National Journal.
by AF Branco
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York notes today, “There's no doubt President Obama is using the so-called Washington Monument maneuver in the fight with Republicans over sequestration budget cuts. It's a time-honored tactic of bureaucratic warfare: When faced with cuts, pick the best-known and most revered symbol of government and threaten to shut it down. Close the Washington Monument and say, ‘See? This is what happens when you cut the budget.’ Meanwhile, all sorts of other eminently cuttable government expenditures go untouched.”

Indeed, Republicans have long said that more targeted cuts of the same amount would be preferable to the current unfocused approach that the president is spending so much time campaigning against. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week, “Surely the President won't cut funds to first responders when just last year Washington handed out an estimated $115 billion in payments to individuals who weren’t even eligible to receive them, or at a time when 11 different government agencies are funding 90 different green energy programs. That would be a terrible and entirely unnecessary choice by a President who claims to want bipartisan reform.”

Writing at National Review Online yesterday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) added, “Instead of more blame and explanation, it’s time for leadership. At the beginning of this year, Republicans worked with the president to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. We approved a two-month delay of the sequester, intended to provide room and time for a larger solution. House Republicans have also passed multiple bills to replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts. Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid blocked these bills and never allowed them to get a vote. . . . Sequestration is about living up to the promises of cutting government spending. America has a spending problem and Washington cannot ignore it any longer.”

But, as ever, President Obama is more interested in campaigning and pointing fingers than working across the aisle to find a solution. Politico writes today that Obama “has been so certain of his campaign skills that he didn’t open a line of communication with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until Thursday, a week before the spending ax hits. And when they did finally hear from Obama, the calls were perfunctory, with no request to step up negotiations or invitations to the White House.” Further, Politico notes, “Obama’s all-in on an outside strategy, doing just about everything other than holding serious talks with Republicans. In the last two days alone, he’s courted local TV anchors, called in a select group of White House correspondents to talk off the record, chatted up black broadcasters and announced plans to stump next week at Virginia’s Newport News Shipyard. Throughout, he’s talked in tough terms that signal little interest in compromise — or suggestion of backing down.”

Even New York Times columnist David Brooks is tired of seeing this same movie over and over again starring the president: “Under the Permanent Campaign Shimmy, the president identifies a problem. Then he declines to come up with a proposal to address the problem. Then he comes up with a vague-but-politically-convenient concept that doesn’t address the problem (let’s raise taxes on the rich). Then he goes around the country blasting the opposition for not having as politically popular a concept. Then he returns to Washington and congratulates himself for being the only serious and substantive person in town. Sequestration allows the White House to do this all over again. The president hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration, let alone one that is politically plausible.”

Sen. McConnell has summed it up like this:“The President and the Senate Majority have known about this deadline for more than a year. Yet, here we are, just days before this so-called sequester is set to hit, and a familiar scenario is playing out once again.

“It goes something like this: Phase 1: Republicans identify a challenge and propose a solution. Phase 2: Liberals sit on their hands until the last minute. Phase 3: They offer some gimmicky tax hike bill designed to fail – then blame everyone else when it does. Phases 1 and 2 have gone exactly according to plan. House Republicans proposed and passed plans to replace the sequester months ago. And as if on cue, Senate Democrats then doggedly refused to consider any of them, much less offer any of their own. So, here we are — again — at Phase 3, which means it’s now time for them to swoop in with the gimmick.

“If [Democrats] were the least bit serious about a solution, they’ve had more than a year to write a bill in committee, bring it to the floor, vote on amendments, get it to the House, and fix this!"
House Speaker Boehner pointed out today,"The House of Representatives passed legislation – twice (last May and again in December) – to replace President Obama’s sequester with smarter, responsible spending cuts and reforms. Senate Democrats haven’t passed a thing. But instead of urging Senate Democrats to take action, the president seems more interested in campaigning (and blaming Republicans for his mess):
  • “Obama’s been virtually absent from the legislative process” of replacing his sequester, reports Politico. After getting the $600 billion in tax hikes he wanted last month (with no spending cuts), “there has been no discernible effort by the White House to work on a bill that might pass.”
  • “The Obama administration seems to be spending far more time warning of the consequences of the sequester — and blaming Republicans for it — than engaging in actual negotiations that would prevent it,” says ABC News
  • “The president hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration,” says David Brooks in the New York Times, “let alone one that is politically plausible.”
  • “Tuesday's event had the feeling of a campaign commercial that went too far to be believed,” says the Los Angeles Times
  • Politico says calls to GOP leaders were “perfunctory,” meant to “inoculate” the president from criticism that he’s campaigning instead of urging Senate Democrats to follow the House and pass legislation replacing his sequester. Their headline asks, “Is President Obama overplaying sequester hand?
Underlying all of this is the fact that the president’s budget is late (again) and his Democratic-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in nearly four years."

Tags: Obama, Campaigning, sequester, press articles, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Arkansas Lt. Gov Mark Darr Signs Right-to-Carry Confidentiality Bill

Update Feb. 26, 2013 - Lt. Mark Darr: Why I Signed Act 145
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Sen. Bruce Holland, Gov. Mark A. Darr
and Rep. Andy Davis (left to right)
LITTLE ROCK: Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) said he would neither veto nor sign Senate Bill 131 into law. S.B. 131 is "The Right-to-Carry Confidentiality Bill." Gov. Beebe then left state on scheduled business and during his absence from the state, the Lt. Gov. became Governor with full authority to sign legislation.

Today, Feb. 22, 2013, Governor Mark A. Darr signed Senate Bill 131 into law. The Right-to-Carry Confidentiality Bill will now be known as Act 145. Mr. Darr commented on his reasons for signing this legislation.



“Having been an outspoken advocate for Second Amendment rights, I felt passionately that there should be no delays in signing this bill into law. Within the bill is an emergency clause which states that once this bill is signed the State of Arkansas can no longer publicly release records concerning persons licensed to carry a concealed handgun or those applying for such a license. The release of such records is an invasion of privacy and threatens the safety and property of the persons identified.

I appreciate Senator Bruce Holland, the co-sponsors and the 80% of the 89th General Assembly who supported this bill, in their effort to protect the privacy of the citizens of Arkansas.”
Background Articles:
Arkansas: Right-to-Carry Confidentiality Bill Passes and Goes to Governor
Arkansas: Senate Passes Concealed Carry License Privacy Bill
"Mad" Max Brantley No Friend of Gun Owners

Tags: Arkansas, State Senate, Senator, Bruce Holland, Senate Bill 131, Concealed Carry, privacy, gun rights, Representative, Andy Davis, Governor, Mark Darr To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Administration: What Stinkin' Bullets

The below letter to the editor is by Robert "Bob" McDowell, Jr. He is a Professional Engineer and Geologist with over 50 years experience in creating drilling prospects, supervising drilling, well completion, production operation, and pipeline design for oil and gas including repair of problem wells. McDowell is a conservative and active in the Oklahoma Republican Assembly.

Bob McDowell
By Bob McDowell: A recent daily paper story with a dateline of Washington (AP) carried a headline of  Department of "Homeland Security explains bullet cache". The story begins with a paragraph stating "Online rumors about a big government munitions purchase are true, sort of". Of course, the story is about a somewhat widely passed around story of the DHS placing orders for more than 1.6 BILLION rounds of ammunition in the next up to five years.

That number of bullets, assumedly for 'small arms' would be enough to supply, according to the story, five bullets for every person in the US. The DHS claim, according to the story, is that this is to supply training and duty needs for law enforcement agents. The story later on states that such large, multi year contracts are used to obtain a lower price than if the orders were placed on a smaller, as needed, basis. There is some truth to that premiss.

However, the final paragraph states that the training facilities operated by DHS not only serve its own personnel but "tens of thousands of federal law enforcement officers". It goes on to say that more than 90 federal agencies with 70,000 agents and officers used the facilities.

Ok, lets look at numbers: 1,600,000,000 rounds of ammunition divided by 70,000, according to my grade school education, amounts to 22,857 rounds, over five years, so divided again by five equals 4,571 rounds per agent per year. It is my opinion that shooting that much ammunition, for practice, training, or on duty, would wear out more than one barrel of a weapon. It probably would also have a severe impact on the individual, since that equates to at least 12 shots per day, assuming no days off. Attempting that sort of action sure would wear out my physical shooting abilities.

Now for the reason that many are very concerned about the action. One talk show caller, who identified himself as a gun shop owner, stated that the excessive and multi-year order was a ploy to dry up the supply of ammunition, since civilian shops are experiencing long back order times from distributors. It is both perceived and publicly stated that President Obama's administration is attempting to bring about the confiscation of all privately owned guns under the guise of 'protecting the public'. My memory of the events leading up to World War II is clear that the dictators such as Adolph Hitler first  disarmed the population so that their own 'police state' organizations could operate unopposed.

That same attitude is what drives the massacre in recent years in so-called 'gun free zones' since the evil ones feel sure that there will be no counter fire to thwart their murderous intentions. It was stated in a talk show that you do not hear of such goings on in inner city schools because gang members might be 'packing heat' there.

Of further concern is several reports that surfaced at the beginning of the Obama administration that President Obama intended to form his own private militia that, according to one report, would be better armed, equipped, and more powerful than the U.S. military. If true, that would add to the explanation for  the ongoing moves to deplete the military defense strength.

However, history has shown, that such reductions have been normal in the U.S. with the follow-on result that our enemies correctly perceiving such actions as weakness but also incorrectly assuming that we were weak minded and would not respond in strength. As experienced with the attack on Pearl Harbor on 12/07/41, a lack of defense preparedness contributed to  needless loss of life and property.

Such is the history of our nation. It needs to be remembered and future actions changed for our own protection and even for our continued existence as a viable nation of free people.  History tends to repeat itself And, that seems especially true of bad history because we feel both the pain and the treats against or the loss of freedoms and / personal independence.

Tags: Bob McDowell, Oklahoma, letter to editor, Federal agencies, guns, bullets, remembering history To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

More Obamacare Consequences

Hardly a week passes without new reports on more negative consequences of President Obama’s expensive, unpopular health care law

On Tuesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported, “Universal Orlando plans to stop offering medical insurance to part-time employees beginning next year, a move the resort says has been forced by the federal government's health-care overhaul. The giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, began informing employees this month that it will offer health-insurance to part-timers ‘only until December 31, 2013.’ The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. . . . Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as ‘mini-med’ plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable Care Act. . . . Universal is one of the largest employers in Central Florida, with approximately 17,000 employees.”

The Sentinel also notes, “Other large employers are grappling with the same issue as Universal. A spokesman for Orlando-based Darden Restaurants said Tuesday its limited-coverage plans will ‘go away after this year,’ as well. ‘We'd like to have the option to continue offering them, since they are popular with our part-time employees, but the ACA doesn't offer that type of flexibility,’ spokesman Rich Jeffers said.”

This is yet another example of how Obamacare fails to live up to the promises the president and Democrats made repeatedly about it as they were pushing it through Congress. Selling his health care legislation in a speech at the White House in 2009, President Obama said, “If you like your current plan, you will be able to keep it. Let me repeat that: if you like your plan, you'll be able to keep it.” He also assured, “I won't sign a bill that somehow would make it tougher for people to keep their health insurance.” And Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) assured later that year, “People would not be required to change health plans.”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported over the weekend, “Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault. The nation’s insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Obama’s health-care law. Insurers point to several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide. Also, their costs will increase because they will be barred from rejecting the sick, and they will no longer be allowed to charge older customers sharply higher premiums than younger ones. . . . Aetna chief executive Mark T. Bertolini invoked [“rate shock”] at his company’s recent annual investor conference, cautioning that premiums for plans sold to individuals could rise as much as 50 percent on average and could more than double for particular groups such as the young and healthy.”

Again, the president promised that “[a]ll this is going to lower premiums. It's going to make healthcare more affordable.” And Vice President Joe Biden assured GQ in 2010, “Yeah. And … [people] are starting to find out now … that what they're told is simply not true. Their premiums haven't gone up.”

Tags: Obamacare, consequences To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama's Sequester Plan: Dread on Arrival

Tony Perkins, FRC Washington Update: Yesterday, the White House pulled one of the oldest stunts in the liberal handbook: if the facts don't work in your favor, just scare people with ridiculous claims about what cutting government spending will do. With an emergency medical first responder team as his backdrop, President Obama painted a bleak picture of the country after March 1, when the first wave of sequester cuts is scheduled to hit. "[First responders'] ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go..."

It wasn't exactly Joe Biden's "stop these cuts or there will be more rapes and murders," but President Armageddon, as the Wall Street Journal calls him, did his best sky-is-falling routine. It's an old ploy, Kim Strassel points out, designed to frighten people into supporting government spending. In reality, "voters should scoff at the idea that a $3.6 trillion government can't save one nickel of every dollar [it] spends."

Apart from frightening people, it seems the White House has no legitimate strategy for ending a "crisis" that, ironically, it helped create. While the President complains that these cuts "are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy, they will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls," he seems to forget that he's the one who invented the idea. But instead of showing leadership and offering up solutions for true reform, the President is trying to panic people. Veterans will go hungry, the administration claims, meat will spoil, poor people will be kicked out of their homes, schools won't have teachers, the mentally ill won't be treated. President Obama even argued that the cuts would "jeopardize our military readiness"--something he's never minded before, based on how he's imposed his radical social policy on our nation's troops.

"We agree the sequester is a bad way to cut spending," said Speaker John Boehner's office. "That's why we've twice passed a plan to replace it with common sense cuts and reforms that don't threaten our security, safety, and economy. A solution now requires the Senate--controlled by the President's party--to finally pass a plan of their own."

In the meantime, Speaker Boehner explains, these cataclysmic events are mostly for show. There are plenty of ways to replace the $87 billion in cuts without raising taxes or letting criminals on the loose. "The President got his higher taxes--$600 billion from higher earners, with no spending cuts--at the end of 2012. He also got higher taxes via ObamaCare... No one should be talking about raising taxes when the government is still paying people to play videogames, giving folks free cell phones, and buying $47,000 cigarette-smoking machines. Washington must get serious about its spending problem." Surely a government that gives food stamps to lottery winners can find a few ways to save.

Tags: Tony Perkins, Family Research Center, FRC, Brack Obama, The sequester,INSERT TAGS To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Frankenquester

AF "Tony" Branco:  President Obama, then and now on The Sequester (i.e, The Frankenquester).

Tags: AF Branco, editorial cartoon, Frankenquester, The Sequester, then and now, Barrack Obama To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chinese Cyber-attacks | Presidential Executive Order

A wave of cyber-attacks originating from China have been revealed and a new Presidential executive order pertaining to network security standards is in the works. What does that mean to you?  TechRepublic's Patrick Lambert provides a perspective not shared on FoxNews or the Lame Stream media.

By Patrick Lambert, TechRepublic: At the beginning of the month, the New York Times revealed that it had been under a systematic and sophisticated attack by hackers for the past four months, and that they believed it was coming from China. Then, just a day later, the Wall Street Journal came out saying that they, too, were under constant attack by very similar hackers, again coming from China. Of course the Chinese government denied the allegations, but this is hardly the first time that U.S. corporations have suspected Chinese hackers from breaching in their systems. In 2010 Google had the first high profile attack, and more companies came out in the following years also claiming having been attacked or breached.

In this case the attack was fairly typical. After finding a hole in one of the NYT’s edge servers in mid-September, they went in and snooped around until the hackers found a domain controller. From there, they could gain access to the usernames and passwords of every employee, and they then proceeded to infiltrate the personal computers of over 50 different employees. According to their investigation, the security experts realized that the hackers were after very specific information, namely the sources used in the investigation that the Times did of Wen Jiabao, China’s prime minister, and how he managed to accumulate a large amount of money. It seems likely that the hackers were motivated by this story and wanted to get back at the Times.

Presidential executive order
This report obviously made the news worldwide, and even President Obama spoke last week of the increasing need for cybersecurity protection. In his State of the Union address, he told Congress that the time had come to pass legislation giving the government a greater capacity to secure networks and deter attacks. This is not just a symbolic statement; he was actually referring to a project that has been progressing for several months now. This new Executive Order issues a mandate to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a set of standards that would guide organizations considered to be part of the country’s “critical infrastructure” to secure their networks, along with incentives for them to meet these standards.

What does this mean for you?
These voluntary standards and best practices might mean that, if a company does not meet these standards, they may find themselves barred from getting government contracts, for example. The targeted organizations include public utilities and companies in the financial and defense sectors. So what does this mean for businesses, or even for IT pros who may be looking at this? Well in the immediate future, not much. Like any legislation, this will not happen overnight. It will take months, if not years, before this new set of standards is drafted. However, once the process starts, it will likely be in your interest to keep a close eye on what gets included.

Just like standards created by the W3C for web developers, or IANA for network engineers, security professionals will likely have to start working with these upcoming NIST standards soon enough, and you can thank China for it. But with that said, security should not be something that is forced upon you. Any network that lacks basic security measures is a potential target, and these attacks prove that the risks are too high to be ignored. There are many standard practices everyone should take without having to wait on government standards.

Phishing emails remain one of the most popular way for hackers to start targeted attacks. While basic malware will look at known vulnerabilities in an unsophisticated way, someone who wants to get into your organization can go to great lengths to do it. There are countless examples of a secretary receiving a payroll document that seems to be coming from a colleague, but instead contains a specially crafted document with malware in it. Or a phone call sent to an employee claiming to be from the helpdesk and requesting the user’s password. Or simply a server getting scanned repeatedly until a hole can be found, even if you were late by just a day in applying a critical patch.

The point is that targeted attacks are very effective, and standards are not going to change that. Vigilance is needed, along with several layers of protection.  . . . Despite all the standards and security measures in the world, networks will still get hacked . . . [Read Full Article]

Tags: cyber attacks, Chinese, attackers, Presidential Executive Order, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Arkansas: Right-to-Carry Confidentiality Bill Passes and Goes to Governor

AR State Sen. Bruce Holland
Little Rock - Senate Bill 131, the concealed handgun carry license (CHCL) confidentiality bill, passed in the Arkansas House yesterday (Feb 19th) by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 84-3 with 13 not voting.

The bill was introduced by state Senator Bruce Holland (R-District 6) of Greenwood, Arkansas and the bill quickly passed the Arkansas Senate on Feb 6th with a bipartisan vote of 24-9.

This legislation would close the loophole that allows media outlets to obtain and publish the names and zip codes of CHCL holders. Someone exercising his or her Second Amendment rights should not be put at risk of being a victim of gun theft by the public exposure of their private information. Under SB 131, personal information of license holders would be accessible only as part of an official criminal investigation.

As previously reported, Four years ago this month, in 2009, "Mad" Max Brantley, then editor of the Arkansas Times, capriciously used the Freedom of Information Act and then published the names on the Arkansas Times Blog all of the names and addresses of all the people in Arkansas who had concealed gun permits.  Why - because he could.  Because of "Mad" Max's actions, the Arkansas legislature reacted quickly and amended its concealed handgun license law to remove the ability of media outlets to publish names and addresses of license holders.

SB 131 seeks to enact more thorough restrictions. Under this legislation, personal information on license holders would be accessible only as part of an official criminal investigation.

This legislation now goes to Governor Mike Beebe (D) for his consideration.

Unfortunately, as also previously reported, a spokesman for Governor Mike Beebe (D) stated that the Governor opposes this measure.  Contact Governor Beebe and urge him to reconsider his position. Politely remind him that thirty states have already enacted protections for gun owners by classifying personal permit information contained in firearm permits as confidential. Also, be sure to let him know that the public release of any personal information regarding CHCL holders serves no public interest and both exposes law-abiding citizens to potential criminal acts and aids in identifying other citizens who opted not to carry.  All Arkansas  citizens need to be protected (those who care and those who do not) and this bill helps to do that.

Tags: Arkansas, State Senate, Senator, Bruce Holland, Senate Bill 131, State House, Concealed Carry, privacy, gun rights, Governor Mike Beebe, "Mad" Max, Brantley To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Obama's Foreign Policy Fiasco

Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: The damage that Barack Obama is doing to America economically and culturally is obvious to most of you, and we are doing all that we can to fight back. But the damage to our foreign policy is not so obvious, and the mess Obama is making will be very hard for the next president to clean up.

For example, while Obama is trying to prevent law-abiding American citizens from owning certain firearms, he is sending tanks and jets to the radical Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt -- weapons that could well be used against our ally Israel. While reducing America's dependence on oil from hostile regimes has been a key priority for years, Obama has so far refused to embrace the Keystone pipeline from our ally Canada.

Now there are reports that Obama sent secret missions to North Korea. For years the Left railed against George W. Bush's "cowboy" policies. "If only we would talk to our enemies," they said, as if our disagreements were just simple misunderstandings.

So what did Obama do? He reached out to North Korea, and it got us nothing but another nuclear test. The latest North Korean propaganda film says the nuclear test was prompted by our "hostility" and shows Obama and U.S. soldiers engulfed in flames. By the way, North Korea is working hand-in-hand with Iran too.

But the really breathtaking part is that we conducted these missions without letting Japan, a key ally, know. Not only did we not tell Japan, but when Japanese officials discovered evidence of our secret flights to North Korea and approached us, the Obama Administration's response was dismissive and arrogant, even threatening. According to the report, "The U.S. State Department even warned the [Japanese] Foreign Ministry against making further inquiries, saying they would harm bilateral relations."

I understand that the U.S. can't conduct every foreign policy mission in broad daylight. But to the Japanese, this must surely seem very unusual. Japan is facing an increasingly aggressive China, and it is well within range of North Korean missiles. Why wouldn't we want Japan to know unless we were getting ready to make concessions they would object to?

Obama's approach to the world can be summed up as a unique foreign policy that reaches out to our enemies while insulting our friends. That is not a recipe for success.

More Questions About Hagel
In recent days new information about controversial speeches by former Senator Chuck Hagel has come to light. Yesterday the Washington Free Beacon reported that during a 2010 appearance at Rutgers University, Hagel allegedly accused Israel of routinely violating U.N. resolutions, called for negotiations with Hamas, labeled Benjamin Netanyahu a "radical" and suggested that Israel was becoming an "apartheid state."

This new revelation comes on the heels of a report last week about another Rutgers speech Hagel gave in 2007. During those remarks, Hagel said, "The State Department has become adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Minister's office." Monday the Daily Caller reported that Hagel's 2007 speech was organized by a foundation directly controlled by the Iranian regime. In fact, Hooshang Amirahmadi, who ran the foundation at the time of Hagel's speech, is a candidate for the Iranian presidency this year.

In recent days, I have received a number of emails expressing frustration that some Republican senators appear willing to end the filibuster of Hagel's nomination. These senators fundamentally believe that the president should get his choices.

As frustrating as that is (and we think Hagel could still be beaten), the really depressing thing is that the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats campaigned as friends of Israel. Yet not one of them has been willing to stand up to Obama and oppose Chuck Hagel.
-------------
Gary Bauer is is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families where his articles are also shared.

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, President Obama, foreign policy, fiasco, tanks, jets, radical, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt, Keystone pipeline, Canada, North Korea, nuclear test, nuclear missile, China, Japan, nomination, Chuck Hagel, anti-Israel To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Chuck Hagel 'Manifestly Unsuitable' to Be Secretary of Defense

by Vincent Zafonte, Heritage Foundation: Last week, the Senate decided to temporarily block former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense. There were many reasons why the Senate blocked his nomination, The Heritage Foundation’s expert James Carafano explains:
Simply put, Senator Hagel lacks the necessary executive skills and experience, embraces naïve and dangerous foreign policies, and empathizes with sworn foes, all while showing antipathy toward loyal allies (i.e. Israel). This makes him manifestly unsuitable for this critical position.
If confirmed, Hagel would have undermined key national security measures. Carafano elaborates:
The Secretary of Defense must “know your enemy.” Hagel has trouble sorting out America’s enemies from our friends. He has advocated engagement and dialogue with Iran and Syria—an approach that the Obama Administration has pursued for four years that has accomplished absolutely nothing on behalf of our security or that of the Iranian and Syrian peoples. Both these countries have been and continue to be major state sponsors of terrorism.
Hagel has also spoken against our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel. Carafano points out that Hagel, “has spoken offensively and ignorantly of our most steadfast democratic ally in the region— Israel.”

The decision not to advance Hagel was a good one for the country – but was it done for the right reasons? Some in the Senate just wanted to make a point to the Obama administration, and say Hagel is likely to be confirmed shortly.

Some Senators voted against Hagel as a way of pressuring the Obama administration to answer many troubling questions about the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. Carafano reminds us, though, that there’s more at stake than politics: “Certainly the Senate and the American people deserve to know what happened in Benghazi and why. But that knowledge should not be purchased at the price of installing an unsuitable candidate as the Secretary of Defense.”

Tags: Chuck Hagel, Nomination, Secretary of Defense, Manefestly Unsuitable, James Carafano To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Fierce Reaction to Drone, Cyber Warrior Medal

While people show concern about the placement of drones in the U.S. -- to do what -- Obama hasn't said?; military drone pilots get new medal.  Sec. of Defense Leon Penetta has authorized a new Distinguished Warfare Medal for those not on the front lines of war or even behind enemy lines. Not a big deal except for the fact that Mr. Secretary and his staff "screwed up" the ordered placement of the medal.  He set this arm chair (see photo below) medal ahead of the Bronze Star with Valor the Purple Heart. Since the military can't complain, the VFW and hopefully others are doing it. Story below.

Military.com | by Bryant Jordan: Barely 24 hours after the Pentagon announced its new medal for cyber warriors and drone pilots, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is demanding the decoration's ranking be lowered.

The Distinguished Warfare Medal is ranked above both the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Purple Heart – medals typically awarded for combat in which the servicemember's life is at risk.

"The VFW fully concurs that those far from the fight are having an immediate impact on the battlefield in real-time, but medals that can only be earned in direct combat must mean more than medals awarded in the rear," VFW National Commander John E. Hamilton said in a statement released Thursday. "The VFW urges the Department of Defense to reconsider the new medal's placement in the military order of precedence."

. . . Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously served as CIA director, said in a statement that he had "seen first-hand how modern tools like remotely-piloted platforms and cyber systems have changed the way wars can be fought, changed the course of battle even from afar . . . "For that reason, I formally approved establishing the Distinguished Warfare Medal," Panetta said.  . . . .

Tags: military medals, drone drivers, cyber warrior medal, VFW, SOD, Leon Penetta To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why Care About The U.S. Debt?

Amy Payne
Heritage Foundation
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation: You’re busy. So busy you barely have time to read these words. So why should you care about the U.S. debt? Does it affect your life?

Unfortunately, high government debt is having more of an impact on each of us than we realize. Heritage’s Romina Boccia explains that high levels of federal debt are linked to all of these problems for Americans:

Higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and other loans. For many people, this means having to wait to buy a home. High interest rates on loans can prevent people from getting a loan to start a business, make home improvements, or further their education.

Higher inflation. We’ve already seen food prices rise over the past few years. Higher inflation hits the poor and middle class hardest, because hard-earned dollars don’t go as far. Food, clothing, and medical care all cost more. Seniors who are living on fixed incomes can see their savings dwindle. People who are in the middle class can start slipping toward the poverty level.

Keeping the economy down—and driving it down further. Deficit spending by the government is not separate from the economy; in fact, it drains money from private savings, which means fewer people are investing in the economy. In short, high debt kills jobs. It lowers wages and salaries as it drags the whole economy down.

Boccia notes that “Publicly held debt in the United States will exceed 76 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, and chronic deficits are projected to push U.S. debt to 87 percent of the economy in 10 years.”

By the time today’s 6-year-olds are driving, the level of the U.S. debt will be teetering on 90 percent of the entire economy. Research shows that economies that reach this level suffer from long downturns in economic growth.

That’s the last thing we need—unemployment has already been stuck in neutral for the past four years, and our economic growth has been sluggish. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that “growing federal debt also would increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis” that would “probably have a very significant negative impact on the country.”

It’s difficult to imagine a nationwide strike in America that would ground all flights and shut down all services. Or an exchange of Molotov cocktails and tear gas between protesters and riot police. Or protesters torching banks, resulting in the deaths of innocent bystanders. That’s where Greece’s debt crisis took that country—eventually, Greece’s lawmakers had to start making the tough decisions and cutting back on spending. The cuts were painful, and the citizens revolted.

This is the track we are on. Right now, cutting spending and reforming entitlement programs in a gradual and predictable fashion may not be politically popular—but as Greece teaches us, waiting until a crisis forces lawmakers to make much more drastic policy changes can end badly—very badly. Our lawmakers should learn the lesson Europe is teaching us: Procrastinate on this massive debt at your own peril.

Boccia warns that, “U.S. public debt is far too high at more than three-quarters the size of the economy—and growing federal spending, especially on entitlements, is quickly driving debt to damaging levels.” The solution is that “Congress and the President should take firm and immediate steps to balance the budget within 10 years, by cutting spending and reforming entitlements.”
------------
Amy Payne is Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation. In that capacity, Amy serves as Managing Editor of The Foundry.

Tags: Americans, budget, budget cuts, congressional budget office, debt, deficit, deficit spending, economic growth, economy, employment, entitlement reform, Entitlements, Taxes & Spending, Europe, federal debt, federal spending, fiscal crisis, food prices, GDP, government debt, Greece, inflation, interest rates, jobs, middle class, Morning Bell, Heritage Foundation, Amy Payne mortgages, poverty, poverty level, public debt, salaries, savings, seniors, Taxes & Spending, unemployment, wages To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

How China's President Is Earning A Nobel Peace Prize

Xi Jinping (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author: China appears to be on the verge of closing, or, at minimum, seriously reforming its 350 forced labor camps, together with injecting due process into its system. It is an historic development, one under-reported in the mainstream Western media. The New York Times and Reuters, but far too few other media, are on this story. This may turn out to be the world’s most important humanitarian development of the year, perhaps even of this young century.

The New York Times’s Andrew Jacobs, last December 15, was the first first-string reporter to catch the Tea Party-like popular groundswell against China’s Gulags:“’It’s high time we demolish this unconstitutional and abusive system that violates basic human rights, fuels instability and smears the government’s image,’ said Hu Xingdou, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology who frequently rails against the system that Mao Zedong created in the 1950s to take down suspected class enemies and counterrevolutionaries. …

“People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, took aim at the system last month, saying it had become ‘a tool of retaliation’ for local officials. In October the head of a government judicial reform committee noted a broad consensus in favor of addressing the system’s worst abuses.

“And in a widely circulated recent essay, the vice president of the Supreme People’s Court, Jiang Bixin, argued that the government must act within the law if it is to survive. ‘Only with constraints on public power can the rights and freedoms of citizens be securely realized,’ he wrote.

“China’s incoming president, Xi Jinping, has not yet weighed in on the issue, but reform advocates are encouraged by a speech he gave this month talking up the widely ignored protections afforded by China’s Constitution, which include freedom from unlawful detention and the right to an open trial. “We must establish mechanisms to restrain and supervise power,” Mr. Xi said.
Hopeful sentiments for substantial liberalization — and even ultimate abolition — of forced labor camps promptly began to be borne out upon the inauguration of President Xi, as reported by Reuters’s Michael Martina and Terril Yue Jones in January:China will reform its controversial system of forced labor camps this year, state media reported on Monday, which would mark a first step toward legal reform promised by new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping.

China’s “re-education through labor” system, in place since 1957, empowers police to sentence petty criminals to up to four years’ confinement without going through the courts, a system that critics say undermines the rule of law and is used against political activists. …

China has 350 labor camps throughout the country, housing about 160,000 inmates, according to Xinhua, which cited the bureau of “re-education through labor” under the Ministry of Justice.

Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, said there has been a precedent for a new leadership to take a symbolic step of reforming problematic systems.

“It has been my sense that Xi Jinping means business and that there would be a departure from the caretaking years of Hu and Wen,” he said, referring to outgoing President Hu Jintao and outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao.”
Sure enough, on February 15, Asia News reported: “The Chinese government has started to release pro-democracy dissidents from the ‘re-education through labor’ camps (laojiao).”

This columnist wrote last November that “more important, historically speaking, [is the Chinese] presidential election than America’s … where Xi Jinping was entrusted with the leadership of China,”“The Chinese leadership understands that there is much to be done and many challenges ahead. In addition to ceasing brutal persecution of religious sects, more humane treatment of ethnic minorities — such as the Tibetans, who are protesting oppression and cultural liquidation by self-immolation, and the beautiful Uyghur people and culture concentrated in Xinjiang — is essential. This is an imperative if the CCP wishes to retain legitimacy. It is encouraging that the new administration highlights in its platform the duty of the party to ‘lead people of all ethnic groups.’ Deeds must follow such words promptly.”Deeds, indeed, promptly are following. This certainly has nothing to do with the small voice of this column and everything to do with the fundamental decency of the Chinese people … and the recognition by the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party of the imperative of human rights, the elimination of corruption, and reform as the high road by which China rapidly can come to the forefront of the world in the full dignity that befits this venerable culture.

The release of human rights advocates, which is beginning, and the closure, or deep reform, of the Gulags of China are one of the brightest human rights moments of the 21st century. China is overtaking the United States in volume of world trade. Of greater significance is that while Washington is moving retrograde on matters of civil liberties, such as Habeas Corpus, Beijing is moving forward.

President Xi’s statement that “We must establish mechanisms to restrain and supervise power,” Vice President of the Supreme People’s Court’s Jiang’s declaration that “Only with constraints on public power can the rights and freedoms of citizens be securely realized,” could have been taken directly from Locke and Jefferson.

Of course, more must follow, especially respecting the promised benevolence toward ethnic and religious minorities. It is in China’s, and the Chinese Communist Party’s, interests to nurture, rather than suppress, the Uyghurs and Tibetans and even to show forbearance toward shrill sectarians such as the Falun Gong. While Falun Gong would appear, from its rhetoric, to have more to learn than to teach about “truth, compassion and forbearance” it is not the Taiping Heavenly Army and doesn’t warrant comparable treatment. As that greatest of world sages, Lao Tzu, wrote (translation courtesy of Taoism.net ),The large country only wishes to gather and protect people
The small country only wishes to join and serve people
So that both obtain what they wish
The larger one should assume the lower position
The Nobel Peace Prize Committee is called upon to play close attention. If justified by continued humanitarian deeds an award to Xi could be transformational both for China and the world. China, properly, cares deeply about its international prestige. Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize would be among the most powerful rewards for the advocates of deep reform.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded, in 2010, to Liu Xiaobo. Liu’s relentlessly subversion of state power, for which he is imprisoned, is forthrightly seditious. Consider Liu’s provocative 1988 call for 300 years of renewed Western colonialism of China as the required instrument of reform. America, too, used to imprison people for sedition. Thomas Jefferson, upon becoming president, pardoned them all. To commute the sentence of this Chinese Abbie Hoffman, while not nearly as important as gentler treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, would be yet additional evidence that Xi “means business.”

The deadline for this year’s nominations of the Nobel Peace Prize closed on February 1. It would have been premature to award the Peace Prize to China in 2013. Yet if the release of political dissidents, and the intensity of the systemic reform — most preferably elimination — of its Gulags continues, and meaningful steps taken in implementing the official promise “… to unite and lead people of all ethnic groups in the new historic journey,” there is no nobler use to which the Nobel Peace Prize could go than to recognize Xi and the Chinese Communist Party.
------------
Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to he ARRA News Service. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author.

Tags: China, Chinese Communist Party,President, Xi Jinping, earning, Nobel Peace price, Ralph Benko To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Media Outrage

A.F. "Tony" Branco:

Tags: Bill Clinton, sex scandals, Barack Obama, Benghazi, media outrage, drinking the water, AF Branco, editorial cartoon To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

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  • 12/13/15 - 12/20/15
  • 12/20/15 - 12/27/15
  • 12/27/15 - 1/3/16
  • 1/3/16 - 1/10/16
  • 1/10/16 - 1/17/16
  • 1/17/16 - 1/24/16
  • 1/24/16 - 1/31/16
  • 1/31/16 - 2/7/16
  • 2/7/16 - 2/14/16
  • 2/14/16 - 2/21/16
  • 2/21/16 - 2/28/16
  • 2/28/16 - 3/6/16
  • 3/6/16 - 3/13/16
  • 3/13/16 - 3/20/16
  • 3/20/16 - 3/27/16
  • 3/27/16 - 4/3/16
  • 4/3/16 - 4/10/16
  • 4/10/16 - 4/17/16
  • 4/17/16 - 4/24/16
  • 4/24/16 - 5/1/16
  • 5/1/16 - 5/8/16
  • 5/8/16 - 5/15/16
  • 5/15/16 - 5/22/16
  • 5/22/16 - 5/29/16
  • 5/29/16 - 6/5/16
  • 6/5/16 - 6/12/16
  • 6/12/16 - 6/19/16
  • 6/19/16 - 6/26/16
  • 6/26/16 - 7/3/16
  • 7/3/16 - 7/10/16
  • 7/10/16 - 7/17/16
  • 7/17/16 - 7/24/16
  • 7/24/16 - 7/31/16
  • 7/31/16 - 8/7/16
  • 8/7/16 - 8/14/16
  • 8/14/16 - 8/21/16
  • 8/21/16 - 8/28/16
  • 8/28/16 - 9/4/16
  • 9/4/16 - 9/11/16
  • 9/11/16 - 9/18/16
  • 9/18/16 - 9/25/16
  • 9/25/16 - 10/2/16
  • 10/2/16 - 10/9/16
  • 10/9/16 - 10/16/16
  • 10/16/16 - 10/23/16
  • 10/23/16 - 10/30/16
  • 10/30/16 - 11/6/16
  • 11/6/16 - 11/13/16
  • 11/13/16 - 11/20/16
  • 11/20/16 - 11/27/16
  • 11/27/16 - 12/4/16
  • 12/4/16 - 12/11/16
  • 12/11/16 - 12/18/16
  • 12/18/16 - 12/25/16
  • 12/25/16 - 1/1/17
  • 1/1/17 - 1/8/17
  • 1/8/17 - 1/15/17
  • 1/15/17 - 1/22/17
  • 1/22/17 - 1/29/17
  • 1/29/17 - 2/5/17
  • 2/5/17 - 2/12/17
  • 2/12/17 - 2/19/17
  • 2/19/17 - 2/26/17
  • 2/26/17 - 3/5/17
  • 3/5/17 - 3/12/17
  • 3/12/17 - 3/19/17
  • 3/19/17 - 3/26/17