Friday, March 07, 2014
Few Uninsured Americans Signing Up for Obamacare
ARRA News Service Contributor Ken Blackwell appeared on the CBN Network with Lorie Johnson to discuss the low signup by uninsured for Obamacare.
Ken Blackwell is a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.
Tags: Ken Blackwell, Lorie Johnson, CBN News, Obamacare, uninsured Americans, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
A Tale of Two Bears
What Would Ya Say… Ya Do Here?
‘Obamacare Isn’t Achieving Its Primary Goal,’ ‘Few Of The Uninsured Have Secured Coverage’
“The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance… according to a pair of new surveys.” (“New Health Insurance Marketplaces Signing Up Few Uninsured Americans, Two Surveys Find,” The Washington Post, 3/6/14)
“The overall share of uninsured people gaining coverage remains low…” < (“Number Of Uninsured Buying Coverage Under Health Law Is Rising,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/6/14)
“Few uninsured Americans are gaining coverage under the Affordable Care Act...” (“Few Uninsured Gaining Obamacare Coverage,” CNN Money, 3/6/14)
“...the numbers are telling. Despite months of marketing campaigns, few of the uninsured have secured coverage.” (“Few Uninsured Gaining Obamacare Coverage,” CNN Money, 3/6/14)
Tags: Obamacare, marketplace, going nowhere To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Complicated, Expensive, Unpopular and Failing Obamacare Needs To Be Repealed
Today in Washington, D.C. - March 7, 2014:
The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 4 PM, when it will take up another district judge nominee. At 5:30 PM, votes are scheduled on cloture on the nomination and on passage of S. 1917, a bill to curb sexual assaults in the military. Yesterday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) bill to address military sexual assaults by removing the chain of command from the process (S. 1752) failed to get cloture by a vote of 55-45. Senators then voted 100-0 to invoke cloture on S. 1917, Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) alternative bill.
The House is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 2 PM.
Yesterday the House passed the following bills:
H.R. 2641 (229-179) — "To provide for improved coordination of agency actions in the preparation and adoption of environmental documents for permitting determinations, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3826 (229-183) — "To provide direction to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the establishment of standards for emissions of any greenhouse gas from fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4152 (385-23) — "To provide for the costs of loan guarantees for Ukraine."
The Washington Post reports, “The new health insurance marketplaces appear to be making little headway in signing up Americans who lack insurance, the Affordable Care Act’s central goal, according to a pair of new surveys. Only one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private plans through the new marketplaces enrolled as of last month, one of the surveys shows. The other found that about half of uninsured adults have looked for information on the online exchanges or planned to look. The snapshots from the surveys released Thursday provide preliminary answers to what has been one of the biggest mysteries since HealthCare.gov and separate state marketplaces opened last fall: Are they attracting their prime audience? . . . The surveys offer no evidence that the rule changes contribute to the insurance marketplaces’ relatively low popularity among the nation’s uninsured. One of the surveys, by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., shows that among people who are uninsured and do not intend to get a health plan through one of the exchanges, the biggest factor is that they believe they cannot afford it. . . . With just over three weeks remaining in a six-month sign-up period, the question of how many uninsured people are gaining coverage is eluding both Obama administration officials and most of the private health plans being sold through the new marketplaces.”
National Journal explores that problem with Obamacare: “There's a lot we don't know about how Obamacare enrollment is going. Apparently that's also true even within the Obama administration. Gary Cohen, the soon-to-be-former director of the main implementation office at the Health and Human Services Department, stopped by an insurance industry conference Thursday to offer an update on enrollment. . . . But Cohen didn't have much more to offer insurers — who need this to work just as much as the White House—on some of the biggest unknowns about the law's progress: How many uninsured people are signing up? ‘That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way,’ Cohen told the insurance-industry crowd on Thursday when asked how many of the roughly 4 million enrollees were previously uninsured. . . . How many people signed up directly with insurers? When HealthCare.gov was broken in October and November, HHS and insurers agreed on ‘direct enrollment’ as a workaround—encouraging people to sign up directly with insurance companies. . . . Cohen was asked Thursday how many people have signed up outside the exchanges. ‘I don't think we have done anything to try to collect that sort of data,’ he said.”
In other words, Democrats embarked on this massive overhaul of one-sixth of the economy, Americans were told, to insure the uninsured, to lower costs, and to lower premiums. But Obamacare is failing at all of these things. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last month, “Obamacare is just not working the way the Administration promised. It’s hurting the middle class, it’s eliminating incentives to work in the middle of a jobs crisis. . . . And for all of the disruption and pain, it’s a law that will still leave 31 million Americans uninsured at the end of the day. That’s why it’s not surprising when we hear that nearly 90 percent – 9 out of 10 – of the new enrollees in Obamacare exchange plans are actually folks who were already insured. Many of them simply shifting from plans they liked to more-expensive plans the government thinks they should like. Which leads so many Americans to ask: What was the point of Obamacare?”
It boggles the mind even further to hear the person in charge of implementing Obamacare at HHS say when asked about the key statistic of how many uninsured people are getting coverage, ostensibly the whole point of health care reform, “That's not a data point that we are really collecting in any sort of systematic way.”
Obamacare is an incredible train wreck that isn’t doing any of the things Democrats promised it would do, and as it continues to break explicit promises they made, they keep looking to President Obama to unilaterally delay pieces of it out of political expediency.
Writing in USA Today on the latest example, Leader McConnell said, “It's essentially all smoke and mirrors, because as long as Obamacare remains law, Americans will continue to face the threat of losing their plans. It's simply how the law was written; there's no ‘glitch’ to be ironed out. And what makes this latest delay so troubling is the fact that it seems to have been prompted not by the heartbreaking stories of millions of Americans but by the private pleadings of a handful of endangered Washington Democrats. And so, the same people who said Obamacare shouldn't be changed before are now begging the president to do it unilaterally to solve their own immediate political problems.”
This complicated, expensive, unpopular, and failing law needs to be repealed!
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ICYMI: Dave Camp’s Tax Reform Shows Why We Should Abolish The IRS
When someone whose signature riff laments the length of tax laws attempts to remedy the situation, you’d expect his fix to be the soul of brevity. The fact that Camp’s newly released proposal clocks in at nearly 1,000 pages makes one wonder if the right problem is being addressed.
As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Camp has undertaken a worthy task in issuing a new discussion draft on tax reform.
But slogging through the document’s 979 pages (for those with lives to lead, a 32-page Executive Summary is also available), what becomes apparent is the ubiquitous, soul-crushing influence tax considerations have upon every aspect of American life.
From education to adoption to health care to religion – literally, from birth to death – there is a tax consequence to almost every action, no matter how intimate or picayune.
Camp’s ambition is to simplify the system and eliminate many of the politically driven incentives within the code. This is laudable, but in finding offsets and attempting to help families or charities or other worthies, he ends up with slightly less of the same – a regime under which almost anything you do is the taxman’s business.
Whether the tax implication is good or bad is beside the point. What matters is that the conduct of civil society becomes influenced and distorted by tax considerations.
Camp has attempted to improve the system by working within it. To see a dedicated and diligent public servant achieve such an underwhelming result through this approach yields an inescapable conclusion: The system itself must be scrapped.
To his credit, Camp spends considerable energy attempting to reform the Internal Revenue Service, enumerating rights for targeted taxpayers and calling a halt to the agency’s lavish spending on itself. But this merely addresses symptoms.
To wit, if you have to write a law saying agency employees should not squander money on conferences while abusing the taxpayers they purport to serve, the rot is already too deep.
As its recent, infamous conduct reveals, the IRS is a malignant outfit, for which America has no need. The United States survived and thrived for the majority of its history before this absurdly titled “Service” was spawned barely 100 years ago. Despite its arrogant, institutional insistence that it embodies that necessity of civilized society spoken of by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the IRS has shown itself to be unscrupulous and unworthy to gather the nation’s financing.
Helping Americans understand things can be different is an abiding challenge, as is pointing out that this is not how taxes are handled in other parts of the world.
Officious though they may be, the tax authorities of other developed nations do not infest every aspect of private life, nor do they operate as political enforcers for the party favored by the bureaucracy – and they most certainly do not treat their citizens abroad as tax subjects, requiring them to file and pay taxes regardless of where they reside (with the exception of Eritrea).
As columnist Mark Steyn often notes, Americans’ cringing fear of their tax department is a disgraceful anomaly among liberalized nations, and unbecoming supposedly free citizens.
If, then, we lance the boil that is the IRS, how do we fund the government?
You may choose one of the following options (but not both): a consumption tax on goods and services (Fair Tax), or a single, small rate of tax on income (Flat Tax).
There is ample support for each of these in Congress and across the nation. Administered by a new, small agency, with no other mandate and separate from the IRS (which would be permitted to melt like Margaret Hamilton), either approach would provide ample funding for the business of government, while minimizing the influence of taxes on Americans’ personal choices.
No one, not even Camp, expects there to be much movement on his proposal during this Congress, if ever. This is partly a function of political reality, but also of the timidity of his plan, notwithstanding its intended comprehensiveness. A truly comprehensive reform of America’s tax system would start by throwing the whole thing in the ocean.
Simply put, it is impossible to get excited about Camp’s plan, much less explain it in terms that are politically appealing. For all its foofaraw about closing this loophole and eliminating that special interest incentive, we are still left with a tax policy that inserts itself into almost every area of human existence, and which starts at 1,000 pages.
Instead of an ever-present influence, make the tax code an afterthought. To unleash America’s potential, to allow her citizens to pursue happiness and go boldly in the direction of their dreams, get the taxman out of the way.
Theo Caldwell, an investor and broadcaster, can be contacted at email@example.com
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American Action Network Launches $250,000 Medicare Advantage Campaign in Arkansas
TV, Digital & Mail Campaign Urges Senator Mark Pryor to “Fight” Devastating Cuts to Seniors’ Care
WASHINGTON – The American Action Network (@AAN) is launching a $250,000 issue advocacy advertising campaign in Arkansas calling on Senator Mark Pryor to fight the Obama Administration’s new cuts to Medicare Advantage. The two-week campaign will include Little Rock broadcast TV, mail and statewide digital ads calling on the Senator to act. Seniors can take action by calling Senator Pryor and signing a petition at DontCutOurMedicare.com. This is part of a $1 million campaign calling on nine Senators and Members of Congress to act.
Click here or the image below to view the TV ad:
Key Facts on Proposed Medicare Advantage Cuts:
The American Action Network is a 501(c)(4) 'action tank' that creates, encourages and promotes center-right policies based on the principles of freedom, limited government, American exceptionalism, and strong national security.
Tags: American Action Network, ad, Arkansas, Mark Pryor, medicare To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Uninsured Aren't Buying Obamacare
Phil Kerpen, Americans Commitment: In testimony today, Gary Cohen, deputy administrator at CMS (the agency that runs Healthcare.gov) was asked how many previously uninsured people had signed up for Obamacare. He gave this astonishing response:
A pair of surveys released on Thursday suggest that just one in 10 uninsured people who qualify for private health plans through the new marketplace have signed up for one — and that about half of uninsured adults has looked for information on the online exchanges or plans to look.
Bob Laszewski reports that another two to five percent of enrollees who paid their January premiums failed to pay in February. That group is also likely skewed toward the previously uninsured.
So 10 percent of the uninsured "selected a plan," about 5 percent of the uninsured actually paid a first month premium, and even less than that stayed a second month.
For this we spent trillions of taxpayer dollars and turned the whole health care system upside-down?
Tags: Uninsured, not buying, Obamacare, Phil Kerpen, American Commitment To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
EPA Attacks Prospect of World's Largest Copper Mine
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: I could write every day about some new obscene Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to thwart energy the nation needs, forcing the shutdown more coal-fired plants and the mines that supply them. Goodbye thousands of jobs, goodbye electrical energy. The White House has delayed the construction of the Keystone Xl pipeline to transmit oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Do you wonder, still, why there are millions of Americans out of work or who have stopped looking because every effort to build the nation’s economy is attacked by some element of the Obama Administration.
We can now add another attack on natural resources because the EPA has announced its intention to restrict, if not prohibit, the development of Pebble Mine in Alaska. The mine could be one of the world’s largest sources of copper.
Beyond the economic benefits the mine would create, it would not only produce copper, but strategic metals like molybdenum and rhenium. Daniel McGroarty, the president of the American Resources Policy Network, noted in a July Wall Street Journal opinion that these two metals “are essential to countless American manufacturing, high-tech, and national security applications.”
Copper is one of the most important minerals used today because it is a good conductor of heat and electricity — second only to silver in electrical conductivity. It was discovered thousands of years ago in prehistoric times. Methods for refining copper from its ores were developed around 5,000 CE and, though too soft for many tools, when mixed with other metals, the resulting alloys were harder. The entire Bronze Age owes its name to the mixture of copper and tin. Brass is a mixture of copper and zinc.
McGroarty pointed out that “The irony here is that renewable-energy industries that environmentalists champion, like solar and wind, rely heavily on copper. More than three tons of it are needed for a single industrial wind turbine.” Solar panels depend on copper as well. And electric cables, usually made of copper, transmit the energy these two favored “renewable energy” sources. Together, though, they represent less than 3% of the electricity generated.
Expecting environmental groups to make any sense or even to tell the truth is a waste of time. The Pebble Mine is opposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, and Trout Unlimited. The EPA claims to have researched the environmental impact of the Alaskan mine and concluded that it poses a serious risk to the salmon fisheries and native tribes in the Bristol Bay area.
EPA research is so wretchedly flawed that the Agency is still insisting that carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for “global warming” even though the Earth entered a new cooling cycle around 1996. None of the children born since then have ever spent a day experiencing a warming cycle.
The EPA has been engaged in its own interpretation of the Clean Air and Clear Water Acts. The Supreme Court, which erroneously ruled that CO2 was a “pollutant” in April 2007 — it is vital to all life on Earth, providing for the growth of all vegetation — has just heard oral arguments for a case that could further ruin the nation’s economy. Environmental groups and the Obama administration argued that the EPA has the authority to require that power plants and other industrial facilities must get permits to emit carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases even though they have no effect at all on the Earth’s climate.
I often wonder why most Americans are so clueless about global warming. AKA climate change, and the rape of the nation’s economy by the EPA.
So we can anticipate that, when the partnership of those seeking to open the Pebble Mine does apply for a permit, we already know that the EPA will reject it. Gina McCarthy, the current EPA administrator, has made that clear. You can be sure that the EPA’s “research” has predetermined that outcome.
That’s not science. That’s just more environmental lies.
Those lies are a large component of why the nation is enduring an economic stalemate that is beginning to look like the next Great Depression. Those lies will try to stop the Pebble Mine and shut down more coal-fired plants. Those lies are the reason why so many potential new industrial and business enterprises are not being created.
Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.
Tags: EPA, attacks, Worlds Largest Copper mine, The Pebble Mine, 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!
Obama Exective Order on Ukraine | Admin Not Hideing Politically Obamacare Rule Changes | New Tweaks Help Senate Dems And Unions
Today in Washington, D.C. - March 6, 2014
Today, President Obama issued an Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine. In summary the Executive order allows the administration to impose visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans identified as ‘threats to Ukraine’s security or territorial integrity’ and imposes sanctions on individuals the government determines are responsible for “undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine.”
Speaking in the White House Briefing Room, President Obama said his administration and European nations concerned about Russia’s intervention in Ukraine were “moving forward together” to sanction Russia, namely officials behind the military move into Crimea. He called “unconstitutional” a planned referendum in the Crimea over whether people there want to remain part of Ukraine, and reiterated a series of steps Russian President Vladimir Putin could take to “de-escalate” the conflict in the region.
The Senate reconvened at 9:30 AM today. Following an hour of morning business, the Senate voted 58-42 to confirm Rose Gottemoeller, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. The Senate then confirmed by voice vote the nominations of Suzanne Spaulding to be Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and John Roth to be Inspector General of Department of Homeland Security.
The Senate then began consideration of two bills to curb sexual assaults in the military, S. 1752, offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and S. 1917, offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). At 2 PM, a cloture vote on S. 1752 failed to get the 60 votes needed to cut off debate by a vote of 55-45. The Senate then moved on to the subject of cloture on S. 1917.
Yesterday, following the defeat of the controversial nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Senate Democrats used the new rules they created after breaking the rules with the nuclear option to confirm 4 district judges and to invoke cloture on the Gottemoeller nomination.
The House reconvened at 9 AM. Bills being considered by the House:
H.R. 2824 - To amend the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to stop the ongoing waste by the Department of the Interior of taxpayer resources and implement the final rule on excess spoil, mining waste, and buffers for perennial and intermittent streams, and for other purposes."
H.R. 3826 — "To provide direction to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the establishment of standards for emissions of any greenhouse gas from fossil fuel-fired electric utility generating units, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4152 — "To provide for the costs of loan guarantees for Ukraine."
H.R. 2641 — "To provide for improved coordination of agency actions in the preparation and adoption of environmental documents for permitting determinations, and for other purposes."
Yesterday, the House passed the following bills:
H.R. 2126 (375-36) — "To facilitate better alignment, cooperation, and best practices between commercial real estate landlords and tenants regarding energy efficiency in buildings, and for other purposes."
H.R. 4118 (250-160) — "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to delay the implementation of the penalty for failure to comply with the individual health insurance mandate."
H.R. 938 (410-1) — "To strengthen the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel, and for other purposes."
The New York Times reports, “The Obama administration, grappling with continued political fallout over its health care law, said Wednesday that it would allow consumers to renew health insurance policies that did not comply with the new law for two more years, pushing the issue well beyond this fall’s midterm elections. The reprieve was the latest in a series of waivers, deadline extensions and unilateral actions by the administration that have drawn criticism from the law’s opponents and supporters, many saying President Obama was testing the limits of his powers. The action reflects the difficulties Mr. Obama has faced in trying to build support for the Affordable Care Act and the uproar over his promise — which he later acknowledged had been overstated — that people who liked their insurance plans could keep them, no matter what. . . . The move reflects the administration’s view that a divided Congress would not be willing to make changes to the law, but lawyers questioned the legitimacy of the action and said it could have unintended consequences in the long run. ‘I support national health care, but what the president is doing is effectively amending or negating the federal law to fit his preferred approach,’ said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. ‘Democrats will rue the day if they remain silent in the face of this shift of power to the executive branch.’ Mr. Turley said Mr. Obama was setting precedents that could be used by future presidents to delay other parts of the health care law or to suspend laws dealing with taxes, civil rights or protection of the environment.”
While much of Obamacare was written and implemented with political timetables paramount, The Times notes that the Obama administration is barely trying to pretend that this latest delay isn’t an outright political move. “Under pressure from Democratic candidates, who are struggling to defend the president’s signature domestic policy, Mr. Obama in November announced a one-year reprieve for insurance plans that did not meet the minimum coverage requirements of the 2010 health care law. Wednesday’s action goes much further, essentially stalling for two more years one of the central tenets of the much-debated law, which was supposed to eliminate what White House officials called substandard insurance and junk policies. The extension could help Democrats in tight midterm election races because it may avoid the cancellation of policies that would otherwise have occurred at the height of the political campaign season this fall. In announcing the new transition policy, the Department of Health and Human Services said it had been devised ‘in close consultation with members of Congress,’ and it gave credit to a number of Democrats in competitive races, including Senators Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Mark Udall of Colorado.”
Earlier this week, The Hill pulled back the curtain entirely, writing, “The Obama administration is set to announce another major delay in implementing the Affordable Care Act, easing election pressure on Democrats. As early as this week, according to two sources, the White House will announce a new directive allowing insurers to continue offering health plans that do not meet ObamaCare’s minimum coverage requirements. Prolonging the ‘keep your plan’ fix will avoid another wave of health policy cancellations otherwise expected this fall. The cancellations would have created a firestorm for Democratic candidates in the last, crucial weeks before Election Day. The White House is intent on protecting its allies in the Senate, where Democrats face a battle to keep control of the chamber. ‘I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,’ one consultant in the health insurance industry said. ‘Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.’”
Exasperated at this latest unilateral delay for political reasons, The Wall Street Journal editors vent: “Maybe the White House figures that if it rewrites ObamaCare enough times, the media will stop paying attention. On Wednesday it ordered one more delay of the mandates for individuals and small business—in time to give a political reprieve to Senators vulnerable in the midterm election. The mass insurance cancellations that hit last fall were merely the first wave, and the market is still replete with health plans that have so far managed to evade ObamaCare's onerous benefit requirements. These policies were due to be terminated starting in October, which has Democratic Senators like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Udall of Colorado scrambling to avoid the TV ads and political blame they deserve. . . . If you doubt this political motivation, HHS distributed a backgrounder to reporters noting that the new rule was ‘developed in close consultation with members of Congress.’ The fact sheet mentions Senators by name, ‘including but not limited to’ Ms. Landrieu, Mr. Udall, Mark Warner of Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, plus nine House Democrats. Supposedly nonpartisan agencies like HHS are usually more subtle. Whether or not this temporary regulatory leniency avoids more insurance disruption, the gambit shows the White House is terrified of a Republican Senate that would be rightly viewed as an ObamaCare repudiation.”
But this latest delay in enforcing standards that would continue to result in insurance cancellations for millions of Americans in order to protect Democrats isn’t the only political tweak to Obamacare the administration made this week. According to The Hill, “A slate of final Affordable Care Act regulations issued Wednesday would give some labor unions a partial reprieve from fees under the landmark healthcare law. Revamped standards issued by the Department of Health and Human Services include changes to ‘reinsurance fees,’ designed to tax health plans from 2014-2016 and will be used to help stabilize the individual market as sick patients come on board. Labor and business groups alike have criticized the fees, uniting behind federal legislation calling for their repeal. . . . Importantly, the new rules would ‘exclude from the obligation to make reinsurance contributions for 2015 and 2016 certain self-insured, self-administered group health plans.’ Many unions have such plans and will not have to pay the reinsurance fees for those years under the new language, though the fees are just one of labor’s gripes about the law.” The Washington Post summarizes, “Another change will exempt unions, universities and other self-insured employers from paying a fee — $63 per person this year — that creates the reinsurance fund. Critics accused the administration of doing so as a favor to unions, who are Democratic allies but have complained about the fee and other aspects of the law’s impact on them.”
Reacting to this latest change to try and protect Democrats and Democrat constituencies from the law they wrote and championed, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The Obama administration’s announcement today that it will continue to allow insurers to sell health care plans that don’t meet Obamacare minimum coverage requirements is not only another reminder of the President’s broken promise that you can keep your plan if you like it, but represents a desperate move to protect vulnerable Democrats in national elections later this year. By announcing a new delay in requiring that policies meet minimum coverage standards, the administration avoids a new round of health policy cancellations set to hit shortly before the November elections. What makes this latest delay so troubling is the fact that it was prompted not by the heartbreaking stories of millions of Americans but by the private pleadings of a handful of endangered Democrats. Americans have become increasingly aware of the fact Obamacare is broken beyond repair. The only ‘fix’ is full repeal followed by step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and that Americans actually want.”
Tags: President Obama, Executive Order, Ukraine,Obamacare, rule changes, Senate, judicial nominees, House bills To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
President Obama Has Delayed Obamacare 13 Times
American Commitment: Yesterday, President Obama said he would veto a bipartisan House bill delaying the individual mandate that passed by an overwhelming 250 to 160 margin.
Hours later he announced his thirteenth unilateral Obamacare delay - this one allowing people with noncomliant health plans to keep them a total of three years beyond when they were prohibited by law without penalty.
Carney said there would be no more Obamacare delays. On December 31, 2013 - after no less than nine Obamacare delays -- Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said "NO" when asked point blank: "Do you anticipate more delays?" There have been four subsequent delays.
Last year President Obama preferred a government shutdown to a simple, fair delay of the individual mandate for everyone for one year.
In fact, on September 26, 2013 Obama said (click to see/hear for yourself): "Delay the law. That's not going to happen as long as I'm president."
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Jobs Threatened in YOUR District by the EPA
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation: The Obama Administration is trying to regulate Americans’ livelihoods away. Will Congress do anything to stop it?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing regulation of “greenhouse gases”—something even its own officials have admitted would have no noticeable impact on the climate.
New Heritage research shows the devastating impact it would have, however, on American manufacturing jobs.
EPA regulation has been dubbed the “war on coal,” but Heritage’s Nicolas Loris and Filip Jolevski report that “the casualties will extend well beyond the coal industry, hurting families and businesses and taking a significant toll on American manufacturing across the nation.”
Just what would happen if these regulations went forward? Jolevski and Loris, the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, found that by the end of 2023 (emphasis added):
And they broke down those numbers on the local level. You can actually see just how many manufacturing jobs would vanish in your own state and congressional district. A few notable points:
As if that weren’t enough, this extends beyond local jobs. The negative effects on manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries would damage America’s competitiveness in the world, in addition to hurting those at home.
Squeezing major energy sources like coal would drive up energy prices—and that hits poor Americans the hardest. They are already spending a higher proportion of their income on running their households.
The House is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would tie greenhouse gas regulations to standards on economic damage vs. environmental benefits. But as Loris and Jolevski said, “Congress should stop the EPA and all other federal agencies from regulating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Obama Administration is already going around Congress to accomplish many parts of its agenda. Members of Congress shouldn’t let bureaucrats bypass them to kill jobs.
Tags: carbon dioxide, congress, Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, EPA regulations, greenhouse gases, jobs, manufacturing, Obama administration, regulation, Amy Payne, Heritage Fountion To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
RGA Releases New Ad In The Arkansas Governor’s Race
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Republican Governors Association released a new television advertisement today in the Arkansas governor’s race highlighting Mike Ross’ unquestioning willingness to follow Nancy Pelosi’s liberal lead during his time in Congress.
Note: The ARRA News Service on Oct 9, 2010 released the following article which addressed Pelosi's Lap Dog Mike Ross' real voting record: Mike Ross (AR-04) Is A Sick Blue Dog
Tags: Mike Ross, followed, Nancy Pelosi, RGA ad, Arkansas, Governor's race, election 2014 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 Moms Are Protesting Common Core
by Phyllis Schlafly: One of the major reasons why Moms are vigorously opposing schools adopting the much ballyhooed Common Core standards is that they are tied to the gathering and storing of in-depth personal data about every child. The files are called longitudinal, which means they include information from birth and track the kids all through school and college.
This longitudinal system reminds us of the ominous practice of the Chinese Communists who, in pre-internet days, stored every child’s personal information (academic, medical, behavioral, and home situation) in a manila folder that was ultimately turned over to his employer when he finished school.
The New York Times published a famous picture of a Chinese warehouse filled with a dangan (archival record) for millions of Chinese individuals. The collection and retention of voluminous personal information (academic from pre-K through university, behavioral, political, and appraisals by others) is the way a totalitarian state keeps control of its people.
Federal law is supposed to prevent collection of this sort of personal information and the building of a national database on students, but the FERPA regulations have been amended to weaken privacy restrictions. Databases on students can be collected by states and then exchanged with other agencies and states, which effectively achieves a national student database.
Only the English and Math Common Core standards have so far been released. The Math standards are based on an unproven theory called Constructivism, which means the kids are not drilled in basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, and multiplication) but instead are taught to “construct” their own way of figuring out the answers.
English literature selections are not read for the joy of reading and learning, but so they can be analyzed and critiqued by students using leftwing norms. That’s called New Criticism Literary Analysis, another unproved theory of education.
A bill just introduced in the Florida State Senate (SB 1316) shows more reasons why parents are upset about Common Core. The bill would require that, before adopting Common Core, at least one hearing to receive public testimony must be held in each congressional district, attended by at least one state school board member.
The Florida bill requires a fiscal report on the projected cost of implementation of Common Core standards before they are adopted. The bill would also prohibit the State Board of Education from entering into any agreement that cedes to an outside entity control over curricular standards or assessments.
Common Core replaces traditional local control of education with a privately copyrighted document that must be used as written and not altered in any way. Schools and teachers are complaining about the high cost of teacher training plus buying all new materials, books, workbooks, iPads and computers for every student.
Common Core has created a tremendous money-making opportunity for private companies that advertise their products as “aligned” with Common Core, and “aligned” has become the magic word to promote sales. California has allocated $1.25 billion in the current school year for adopting Common Core.
For example, now available for purchase is a set of nearly 500-page books called “SpringBoard, Consumable Student Edition” which is advertised on the cover to be “The College Board’s official Pre-AP program.” There is a book for each middle-school and high-school level that includes large spaces where students can write their answers or comments.
The selected readings in one of these middle school books are a curious lot. Two of the longest readings are the complete United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the complete United Nations Millennium Declaration.
Global diversity appears to be the rationale for article selections. They include articles about head scarves on Muslims in France, the punishment of an American teenager in Singapore, an arranged marriage in India, learning the Japanese language, an African novel, and three articles promoting belief in global warming.
The very few pages devoted to American culture include the problem of a kid trying to avoid parental punishment for arriving home after his curfew deadline, Halloween, and a controversy over sea lions in Oregon.
The advertising for these books specifies that “The SpringBoard program is well aligned with the Common Core standards,” and “The strength of the SpringBoard program continues to be the development of critical thinking and close reading skills through scaffolded instruction.”
If you are mystified, so am I and so are the teachers. But be assured: David Coleman, the person credited with developing the Common Core standards, is the new head of the College Board and says he is now rewriting the SAT tests. The tests are the mechanism of national control over curriculum.
Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president of Eagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues.
Tags: Moms, protesting, Common Core, Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Stand Off in the Ukraine: Putin vs Obama
Syria and Iran
Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Syria's Christians Under Sharia Law - Radical Islamists seized control of the Syrian city of Raqqa last year. Now they are forcing Christians in the area to submit to a dhimma -- a feature of Sharia law that makes them second-class citizens.
According to the terms imposed on Raqqa's Christians by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS): Christians in Raqqa must pay a tax of roughly $1,000 per person. Poor Christians will be required to pay $250. They can practice their faith in private. But, they cannot pray in public. They cannot build new churches. They cannot rebuild destroyed churches. And they cannot ring church bells. They cannot carry weapons, and they must report any threats against the Muslim establishment.
Many Christians in Raqqa signed the agreement on threat of death if they did not. Of course, Christians who do not wish to be taxed and forced to live under such conditions can always convert to Islam. Those who refused were warned that "nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword."
There was nothing but silence from the power centers in Washington, D.C., namely the State Department and the White House, to this gross violation of human rights and religious liberty. I guess no one perceived a "gay" angle that could be exploited.
I had no expectations that the "progressives" and leftists running Washington, D.C., would care about some suffering Christians. But how about U.S. churches? How many pastors will inform their congregations of what is happening to their brothers and sisters in Christ?
Moral Clarity On Iran - Yesterday, a world leader spoke the truth about the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was a powerful speech freedom-loving people everywhere should hear. I want to share this excerpt with you:
"It's not only that Iran doesn't walk the walk. In the last few weeks, they don't even bother to talk the talk. Iran's leaders say they won't dismantle a single centrifuge, they won't discuss their ballistic missile program. And guess what tune they're singing in Tehran? It's not 'God Bless America,' it's 'death to America.' And they chant this as brazenly as ever. Some charm offensive.
"And here's my point. Iran continues to stand unabashedly on the wrong side of the moral divide. And that's why we must continue to stand unequivocally on the right side of that divide. We must oppose Iran and stand up for what is right."
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families
Tags: Syrian, Radical Islamists, punishing, Christians, dhimma, excessive taxation, taxing non-Muslims, Iran, Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, 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!
Four Countries that Could Send Oil Prices Up
Bill Smith, Editor: As Americans are distracted by the events in Ukraine which has little impact on Americans or the American economy unless the President drags into another conflict half a world away and continues to promise more American paid tax dollars to the Ukraine, other issues loom which will affect us all. Below, is an "executive report" issued last month in a premium service Oil & Insider Energy Insider newsletter followed by energy investors. It identifies situations in four countries which could send oil prices even higher.
Executive Report - Four Countries that Could Send Oil Prices Up by Nicholas Cunningham. The week of February 17 has been a violent one, with protests, intense political unrest, and many casualties in several countries around the world. Protestors in Ukraine are stealing the headlines, with a Molotov-cocktail fueled ring of fire. These events are significant, but for the energy world, it is the sudden wave of instability in oil producing countries that are on investors’ minds – unrest that threatens to send oil prices skyward.
With shale oil surging in the United States, sometimes we in the West forget how much we depend on some politically wobbly countries to meet global demand. Oil markets are extremely tight, so it only takes one or two of them to get oil markets into a tizzy. As of this writing, there are four important oil producers that are literally at the brink of disaster. These four countries could seriously rattle oil markets:
Venezuela. The South American country has the largest oil reserves in the world – yes, that’s right, more than Saudi Arabia – but it has punched way below its weight in terms of being a global energy player. Mismanagement, underinvestment, and outright corruption have plagued Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the state-owned oil company. It was long used as a piggy bank for social programs by the late Hugo Chavez. With revenues pillaged by the government, PDVSA has failed to raise oil production over the last twenty years, despite the rapid rise in oil demand and prices. In 1994, Venezuela was pumping 2.7 million barrels per day (bpd); by late 2013 that figure reached only 2.4 million bpd. This is a major problem for a government that relies upon PDVSA for 96% of its foreign exchange.
The flagging oil sector is a major reason behind the state’s shaky finances. Deteriorating security, an inflation rate that has topped 56%, and shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and cooking oil have made the public wary. But it erupted into intense protest in mid-February. Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has led tens of thousands of protesters in demonstrations denouncing President Nicolas Maduro. Lopez’s support for a coup against Chavez in 2002 hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Venezuelan President. Maduro is cracking down, putting Lopez on trial for “terrorism,” and blaming him and other “fascists” for the country’s problems. This apparently extends to the U.S. as well, and on February 17, Maduro kicked out American diplomats.
Maduro’s problems are reaching a crisis point, and jailing the opposition won’t help. It can’t pay its debt, airlines are cutting off flights to Venezuela, the currency is spiraling out of control, and public unrest is growing. Several people were already killed during protests.
An escalation of violence is entirely possible. If so, the big question is what happens to Venezuela’s oil production. Best case scenario for oil markets is that the country doesn’t tear apart and PDVSA simply bleeds, with production gradually declining. The worst case is much worse, with violence knocking out production suddenly. Losing over 2 million bpd of global production – including 800,000 bpd of exports to the U.S. – would dramatically raise global prices.
Iraq. Now the second largest producer in OPEC, Iraq is becoming a major oil player. But it is also descending into chaos. Oil exports were down to 2.2 million bpd in January from 2.34 million bpd a month before, in part due to sabotage by militants. Now the mainstream media is reporting that Iraq is working with Iran to challenge Saudi Arabia for control over OPEC. Not only is that far-fetched, but it is highly unlikely that Iraq will ever be able to get to 9 million bpd – the world is pinning too many hopes on a country that is mired in violence.
And that’s the real story here for the short-term. Iraq suffered its most violent year in 2013 over the past six, with over 9,000 dead. Since the new year things have only gotten worse. On February 18 alone, at least 49 people were killed in a series of car bombs in and around Baghdad. Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani has warned that militant groups, perhaps spilling over from Syria, pose a threat to Iraq’s ability to export oil. “The attacks have been focused on oil export pipelines, power generation and transmission lines,” he said in late January, according to Reuters. He went on, "the Iraqi Turkish pipeline was blown up 54 times during 2013, averaging once a week yet we managed to repair and use that pipeline and pump on average 250,000 barrels per day last year."
The central government also needs to resolve its conflict with Kurdistan, which is moving to export oil on its own terms. Kurdistan has connected a pipeline to the main line to Turkey, and has promised to begin exports soon. Baghdad is threatening to cut off financial assistance to the semi-autonomous region. No one knows where this one is going but suffice it to say, uncertainty will add a bit of a risk premium to oil for traders.
Libya. It seems like we are bouncing from one dysfunctional OPEC-member to the next. The Libyan revolution in 2011 knocked its 1.8 million bpd entirely offline, leading to dramatic price spikes on the world market – Brent prices jumped 20% between February and April 2011. Libya seemed to regain its footing in 2012 and resumed production, almost to its pre-civil war days. Militias, which hold great power in the country, have seized oil fields in the east. Disputes with the national government cut off the flow of oil last fall. Oil production for January was only half a million bpd. But the situation darkened in the middle of February, when two militias called on the Parliament to step down. A political crisis is emerging, threatening to completely cut off the remaining trickle of oil.
South Sudan. Renewed violence in South Sudan threatens this fourth oil producer. Rebels in South Sudan attacked Malakal on February 18, the capital of the country’s largest oil producing state, Upper Nile State. Both rebels and government forces blame one another for shattering the fragile ceasefire, which had been held together in recent weeks. But the latest unrest has a good chance of cutting off oil exports. Now, admittedly, global markets have not come to expect much from South Sudan, as it hasn’t successfully turned its vast reserves into meaningful production. But, the estimated 220,000 to 240,000 barrels per day that the country does produce is in jeopardy.
So what does all of this mean? It’s not as if all four of these countries are going to cut off their oil production tomorrow, but neither is it likely that all four return to stability and rising production. Iraq may be the outlier here, as it seems the most stable of the four (which is saying something), but there is a good chance that meaningful production from some of these countries will be removed from global supply.
Let’s look at what they mean to global oil markets. Taken together, these four countries represent roughly 7 million bpd of production when they are not in acute crisis. I’m assuming 2.4 million bpd for Venezuela, 2.9 million bpd for Iraq, 1.5 million bpd for Libya, and 240,000 for South Sudan. Even accounting for the loss of 1 million bpd from Libya since last year, which the markets have already factored in, we still have 6 million bpd at risk. So that is 6 million bpd that are looking pretty uncertain in the immediate future out of a global total of around 90 million bpd.
What would happen if some of that was knocked offline? Obviously prices would spike, but it is hard to know how exactly markets will react. EIA estimates that the loss of 400,000 barrels from Libya last August led to a $9 per barrel increase in Brent prices. That gives us a sense of how finicky markets can be: less than 1% of oil went offline, and prices spiked about 8.5%. It doesn’t take much. We could expect a similar price spike if the political situation in the four selected countries takes a turn for the worse.
In conclusion, Venezuela, Iraq, Libya, and South Sudan pose a threat to oil markets. They represent 6 million bpd of oil production currently online but at serious risk. While it is a fool’s game to predict the exact amount of oil production that could offline in the event these countries deteriorate, I do predict that a non-trivial amount of oil will be cut off by springtime. That’s not much to go on, but it’s enough to conclude that oil prices are going up.
Source of Report: Weekly Oil & Energy Insider Report provided to the ARRA News Service by James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com which is the leading online energy news site. Its news and analysis covers all energy sectors from crude oil and natural gas to solar energy and hydro. It is a paid service read by major investors and industry leaders around the globe.
Tags: Oil, oil prices, Venezuela, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, threat to oil markets, Energy Insider Report, newsletter, OilPrice.com To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Message from Senator Harry Reid: Sit down And Shut Up!
Tim Phillips, President, Americans For Prosperity: That's the message Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is sending to you and everyone else who has the courage to speak out against ObamaCare.
Thankfully, attacks from powerful politicians won't silence Julie Boonstra, who is refusing to be intimidated by bullies like Senator Harry Reid and Congressman Gary Peters.
It's clear that Sen. Reid and ObamaCare proponents are desperate to shift attention away from the health care law's failures. Rather than admit that ObamaCare isn't working, he is lashing out at single moms, cancer patients, and other victims who have the courage to speak out.
Senator Reid knows that ObamaCare is hurting millions of Americans -- that's why he's so desperate to shift media and public attention elsewhere.
It's absurd that Sen. Reid is trying to lecture Americans on credibility, when he has been one of the most vocal defenders of President Obama's "Lie of the Year."
At the end of the day, these attacks from the left don't change the facts about ObamaCare -- a law that is leading to cancelled plans, higher costs, and lost access to doctors.
Thank you for your support, and for continuing to stand with the millions of Americans who have been hurt by ObamaCare. Please share with family and friends. Keep fighting!
Tags: Message from Senator Harry Reid, Sit down And Shut Up, ObamaCare, hurting, Americans, Julie Boonstra, speaks out, video, Tim Phillips, Americans For Prosperity 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 is Lois Lerner pleading the Fifth?
by Robert Romano: A lot has happened since former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Exempt Organizations head Lois Lerner refused to testify in May 2013 about the agency targeting of the tea party and other 501(c)(4) organizations, asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
For starters, it turns out the scandal goes much higher than was originally stated.
Then-managing director at the D.C.-based technical office Holly Paz has since testified that in Feb. 2010 “a case was identified where there was potential for political campaign activity, and that was when they reached out to Washington and the case was transferred to Washington.”
Paz said she then forwarded it to agency tax specialist and attorney Carter Hull, who developed many of the invasive follow-up questions that attempted to probe just how political groups intended to be.
Michael Seto, the head of Hull’s unit, said it was Lerner who ordered that the tea party applications be subjected to special scrutiny.
In addition, Hull said that when he met with Lerner’s senior adviser, he was told that his recommendations on the tea party applications would be first reviewed by the IRS general counsel William Wilkins, only one of two political appointments in the agency besides the commissioner.
Hull’s supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker told investigators that the counsel’s office wanted information about the applicants’ political activities leading up to the 2010 election.
So, what began as a scandal with supposedly “low-level” employees in Cincinnati actually goes all the way to Washington, D.C. with the then-head of Exempt Organizations and the agency’s general counsel not only aware of the targeting but who were coordinating its decision-making process.
And yet, the targeting might not have been criminal after all, or so says the Department of Justice, which according to the Wall Street Journal is not planning on filing charges.
Giving the benefit of the doubt — that there is nothing in the U.S. Code that prohibits the sort of targeting that took place even though one of the Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon was “to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner” — then why did Lois Lerner even bother pleading the Fifth back in May?
If there was no criminal activity, in principle, then Lerner cannot incriminate herself. Lerner said it herself before the House Oversight Committee: “I have not broken any laws.”
In 2001, the Supreme Court in Reiner v. Ohio succinctly summarized some of the limits to invoking the Fifth: “the privilege’s protection extends only to witnesses who have ‘reasonable cause to apprehend danger from a direct answer.’ 341 U.S. at 486.That inquiry is for the court; the witness’ assertion does not by itself establish the risk of incrimination. Ibid. A danger of ‘imaginary and unsubstantial character’ will not suffice. Mason v. United States, 244 U.S. 362, 366, 61 L. Ed. 1198, 37 S. Ct. 621, 4 Alaska Fed. 571 (1917).”
The Mason case is particularly telling, wherein a witness was compelled to testify because the testimony was not, in fact, incriminating of any crime.
Particularly in the context of a congressional hearing where such testimony would likely advise on the side of Congress prohibiting such conduct in the future, she should not be shielded. What she has to say is critical to the committee’s investigation.
But perhaps Lerner is fully aware that prosecution is not possible, and there are other reasons she does not want to testify. If not to protect herself, then perhaps her invocation is protecting against something or somebody else.
Of course, that her testimony might be merely embarrassing, professionally damaging, or politically problematic to the Obama administration do not appear to be sufficient reasons to exempt her.
And perhaps fully aware of that, Lerner’s lawyer has offered another obstacle, saying she fears for her life. In a letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), attorney Bill Taylor wrote, “I advised the staff that calling Ms. Lerner knowing that she will assert her rights was not only improper but dangerous. Ms. Lerner has been the subject of numerous threats on her life and safety, and on the life and safety of her family. I left with the staff recent evidence of those threats.”
If so, might we suggest witness protection? In all seriousness, material witnesses in murder trials can be compelled to testify — even if they fear for their lives. If she has a legitimate fear, she can request protection, but her refusal cannot be sustained based on what we now know.
Lerner is running out of excuses. So maybe she just needs to come clean, fess up and be done with it. Or be found in contempt of Congress and face even more consequences.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government. His article was first shared on the ALG's NetRight Daily blog.
Tags: IRS, Lois Learner, pleading the Fifth, House Oversight Committee, scandal, Washington D.C., Robert Romano 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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