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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
Friday, May 30, 2014
Oklahoma Lawmakers Repeal Common Core
by Bethany Monk, CitizenLink: The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that would repeal Common Core state law. The legislation would be the most thorough removal of the initiative from any state adoption in the nation. Gov. Mary Fallin is expected to sign it.
Jennie White, president of Restore Oklahoma Public Education, said repealing it would help students thrive.
“We all want high standards for our children,” she said, “but we especially want parents involved in the process of educating their children.”
Common Core, created in 2010, offers a series of guidelines showing what children should know about math and English from kindergarten to graduation.
Many education experts, including White, point to one of the initiative’s major flaws: It leaves parents out of the equation. What we need, she said, is local control.
“Common Core was putting a wedge between parent and teacher, teacher and administrator, and all but neutering school boards,” White said. “Local control of education has been proven time and time again to be the best system for ensuring students the best possible educational results.”
The initiative was created by National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The change in Oklahoma leaves 43 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Activity that are under Common Core. The Sooner State joins those that are not: Alaska, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia. But several states that originally adopted the standards have begun taking steps away from the movement.
Oklahoma HB 3399 would replace Common Core with a framework of standards to be written by Oklahomans over a two-year period. In the interim, schools will return to the state’s previous standards and tests. It would also prohibit the state Board of Education from gaining any control over the state standards or tests.
White is “gratified and thankful” lawmakers carefully researched Common Core.
“Had so many members not maintained an open mind and reviewed our research, there would have been no way to have passed this kind of comprehensive bill,” she said. “We now humbly ask Governor Fallin to sign HB3399 into law and eagerly await the date we can celebrate with her, this tremendous win for public education in Oklahoma — and across the nation.”
------------- Read “How is the federal government involved in the Common Core?” Watch the trailer for “The Building Machine,” a documentary about Common Core. Read “Common Core Standards Leave Parents Out of Education Equation.” Tags:Oklahoma, lawmakers, repeal, Common Core, CitizenLinkTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
ACLU’s Slurs And Lies Target Foes Of Illegal Immigration
by Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch: The American Civil Liberties Union has a reputation for serving as a “guardian of liberty,” protecting our privacy and the First Amendment rights of speech, association and assembly.
Imagine our surprise when a subpoena from the ACLU trampling those rights landed on our doorstep. Imagine our greater surprise when we discovered the subpoena was filled with racial slurs such as “spic,” “wetback” and “beaner.”
Our surprise turned to shock when we learned that we were not the only ones to receive a sweeping command to turn over reams of First Amendment-protected correspondence concerning the passage of SB 1070, Arizona’s tough Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld SB 1070s provision that police can check the immigration status of an individual if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country unlawfully.
The ACLU objects to that decision. It is now trying to take another shot at the high court’s ruling with a lawsuit claiming that SB 1070 was the product of “racial animus” and “invites racial profiling.” So it has embarked on a witch hunt for racial profilers.
The ACLU subpoena demands all correspondence with Arizona state officials related to SB 1070, immigrants and immigration, including emails and computer files. It specifically notes all communications that include words such as “aliens,” “illegal aliens,” “illegals,” “Mexican,” “Latino,” “invasion,” “beaner,” “spic” and “wetback.”
The ACLU knows full well it cannot win in the courts with such tactics, but this is not about winning in the courts. This is about winning a political ground war with ugly and false insinuations of racism.
In a move of breathtaking hypocrisy, the ACLU is seeking to chill the First Amendment speech, association and assembly rights of Americans who played by the rules and worked to support a law they thought was in the best interests of the country.
Think about it: If you were publicly branded a racist on an issue of public debate, might you not next time hesitate to speak out, write your elected representatives or go to a meeting? That’s a chilling effect — and undermines the First Amendment.
Vast arrays of individuals and organizations have been subpoenaed by the ACLU. Ordered to produce “all communications” related to immigration and other hot-button topics such as voter IDs for a nine-year period are more than 20 current and former members of the Arizona state Legislature, public-interest groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and the American Legislative Exchange Council, nine police associations, including the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police and the Arizona Highway Patrol Association, political groups such as the Arizona state Republican Party, the Arizona African American Republican Club, the Arizona Republican Assembly, and bizarrely, three senior citizens who seem to have no connection whatsoever to SB 1070.
One of those senior citizens is Laura Leighton, a 67-year-old Tucson resident who has been on disability for many years. On receiving the subpoena, Ms. Leighton wrote to the judge in the case.
She noted she had no involvement with SB 1070. “I have nothing to do with this case,” she wrote. “I am not related to this lawsuit in any way and am not even sure what this lawsuit is about.” Making her search for years of material on her old computer, she noted “places a tremendous burden on me.”
Being associated with racial slurs was the final indignity. “I have never and would not call anyone of any race ‘beakers, spics, wetbacks,’ etc.,” she wrote. She copied the letter to the ACLU’s attorney in the case.
Soon, the ACLU’s attorney was back with a letter of his own, one that alarmed Ms. Leighton. He would be happy to come to her home “to conduct the search for you,” he wrote. Somewhat ominously he added, “I am frequently in Arizona.” The notion of an ACLU lawyer’s coming to her house to rummage through her computer was the last straw for Ms. Leighton. She hired a lawyer.
Ms. Leighton is not alone. Judicial Watch has learned that there are at least two other women in similar circumstances. Both wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, given the ACLU’s harassment.
One, a 74-year-old grandmother who recently underwent three cardiac surgeries, also apparently was pressured by the ACLU to allow someone to come to her home to search her computer. She, too, says she had nothing to do with SB 1070.
There is a “crime” here, though, at least in the ACLU’s eyes: conservative political activism. The anonymous grandmother was a founder of a small conservative group. Ms. Leighton was prominently involved in a successful effort to convince the Tucson School District to end a racially biased ethnic-studies program.
In 2011, the Arizona superintendent of public instruction found the Raza (Race) Studies Program to be in violation of statutes prohibiting the promotion of ethnic resentment. In public comments during the case, a former member of the Arizona Board of Regents noted that the Race Studies textbooks were “classical showpieces of Marxist-oriented indoctrination. They are about political oppression, incessant deprecation of anything not Chicano — including the U.S. Constitution, capitalism, and anything European.” Students were taught that “they are oppressed” and “principally not American.”
This gets us to the real motive for the ACLU subpoenas: retaliation and harassment. Ms. Leighton and other subpoena recipients are targets simply because we hold views different from the ACLU and its clients. However, the discovery process in civil litigation does not authorize the ACLU to trample on core First Amendment and privacy rights. Our message to the ACLU: See you in court.
------------- Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch, which is representing several individuals and organizations in the ACLU subpoena litigation. He also shared this article in The Washington Times. Tags:Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch, ACLU, slurs, targets, foes, illegal immigrationTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:editorial cartoon, AF Branco, President Obama, West Point, operation enduring weakness,To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Anonymous: What if We had a News Media that . . . acted as America’s ‘Watchdog’, instead of Obama’s ‘Lap Dog’?
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful turn of events? The American people would finally be able to read and learn about the scandalous and unconstitutional activities of the Obama regime and its wannabe ‘King” since day one. While the majority of Americans thought Barack Hussein Obama was ‘Inaugurated’ president, the news media considered it a ‘Coronation’ and has acted as such, for the past six years.
Obama claims to have the “most transparent administration” in the history of the country and we would agree. Unlike his liberal worshippers and useful idiots in the news media, who refuse to report the “truth” about the most CORRUPT and CRIMINAL administration in the history of the United States, We The People, can see right through him and his regime of liars.
Obama’s ‘Hope-and-Change’ was nothing more than a meaningless slogan, that became ‘Hoax-and-Change’ almost immediately; turning a once great and free Republic, into a financially and morally bankrupt, third-world Socialist hovel. Filled with trite cliches’ (Hope and Change; I have a Pen and Phone) and slogans right of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals” handbook (America is not a Christian nation; America is not unique; we must spread the wealth to eliminate income inequality) the Obama campaign to completely destroy the American Dream and our Republic has never ended.
Fraught with scandal after scandal, here is a list of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ that would normally serve as “grounds for impeachment” of any other President.
1. Obama: An Army-of- One. Waging war all by himself, Obama may have violated the Constitution and both the letter and the spirit of the War Powers Resolution by attacking Libya without Congressional approval. And lest we forget, ( the news media has), “Mister The Constitution be Damned I'll pass my own Laws”, Obama has repeatedly made runs around Congress by deciding which laws to enforce, including making 32 waivers to an already passed Affordable Care Act, and his contemptuous, “I have a Pen and Phone” mantra. This from a “Constitutional Scholar”?
2. IRS targets Obama's enemies. Democrat Senators and Obama campaign cronies using the IRS to target conservative and pro-Israel groups prior to the 2012 election. Questions are being raised about why this occurred, who ordered it, and whether there was any White House involvement. Or a ‘smidgen’ of impropriety.
3. Benghazi. This is a prime example of what happens when you put the ‘Peter Principle’ in play; e.g, promoting morons to their highest level of incompetence, at State and in the White House. Benghazi is three scandals in one: The failure of the regime; The State Department AND Hillary Clinton to protect the Benghazi mission and people; the changes made to the talking points in order to suggest the attack was motivated by an anti-Muslim You Tube video; and the refusal of the White House to say where President Obama was and what he did the night of the attack before he went winging to Las Vegas the following day for a Democrat fundraiser.
4. NSA spies (to this day) on the American people. Eric Holder and the Obama Justice Department performed a massive cull of Associated Press reporters' phone records as part of a leak investigation and to this day, the NSA still monitors our emails and phone calls without nary a ’peep’ from the ever vigilant (LMAO) news media, but thanks to Edward Snowden, the entire world knows.
5. ATF’s "Fast and Furious" scheme. Federal agencies allowed weapons from U.S. gun dealers to "walk" across the border into the hands of Mexican drug dealers in a sorry attempt to ‘entrap and prosecute American gun dealers. The ATF summarily lost track of scores of those weapons, many of which were used in crimes, including the December 2010 killing of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Then tried to cover it up. Potential Holder perjury and being found “In Contempt of Congress”, when Holder told Congress in May 2011 that he had only recently heard about the Fast and Furious gun walking scheme when there was evidence he may have known much earlier.
6. Sebelius, Tiller the Baby Killer’s best friend demands extortion payments. In a blatant disregard for the law and the Hatch Act, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius solicited donations from companies HHS might regulate. The money would be used to help her sign up uninsured Americans for Obamacare and pay for government commercials extoling the benefits of the Un affordable Care Act’s Death Panels.
7. VA Scandal: Deny, Delay, Die and Pay Bonuses to Lying Bureaucrats. For years, we veterans have been ‘treated’ to a VA Health Care system INFERIOR to the health care the Obama regime provides 150 Islamic Terrorists incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Over 100 US Doctors and medical professionals provide immediate medical and dental care, not to mention a special Halal diet, Muslim prayer rugs, cable TVs, and the latest in exercise equipment. The VA theme of ‘Delay Deny, Die’ veteran claims, has caused the deaths of at least 40 of my fellow veterans. But the President of the United States, only knew about the scandal after reading the story in the paper. Even though it has been ongoing on for the past eight years and he received three Inspector General reports in 2010, 2012, and 2013 detailing the VA outrages. On May 30, 2014, VA Director General Eric Shinseki, is forced to “walk the plank” and resign for a derelict Republican Congress and Democrat Senate; and MIA President.
With my apologies to Edmund Burke who issued this time-less warning two hundred years ago: ”All that is necessary for the triumph of EVIL, is for good men (and women) to do nothing”…. AND for the news media to report NOTHING, turn a blind eye to the “high crimes and misdemeanors” of a regime and provide cover for a president and administration that believe they are above the law and refuse to abide by their Constitutional Oath of Office.
The duplicity, mendacity and silence of the news media in most of the above are all the more despicable. Tags:News Media, lapdog, watchdog, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” - First Amendment to the United States Constitution
Democrat Leaders & Warped Views
by Rick Manning: The once revered First Amendment to the United States Constitution has come under unprecedented attack by Democratic Party elected officials, and the Obama Administration itself over the course of the past five years. Now, 41 Senate Democrats have come completely out of the closet in proposing that the Constitution be changed to reflect their warped view.
The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
As the name says, the First Amendment was the first of ten changes (known as the Bill of Rights) to the United States Constitution, ratified by the states shortly after the Constitution itself was ratified.
In order to understand why the Democrats attempt to change the right to the free exercise of speech is so misguided, one has to understand why the protection of free speech was carved out of the Constitution in the first place. The little read Preamble to the Bill of Rights provides the key reasoning behind the list of individual and state protections that followed stating, “The Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
The Constitutional framers, and particularly those who worried that the newly created federal government would grow too powerful overwhelming individual liberties, amended the document to include specific areas that the federal government was not allowed to intrude upon. The free exercise of speech was one of these enumerated individual rights.
Inherent in this right is the ability to participate in the political process as fully and completely as one desires. After all, a free speech right that allows one “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” must also include the right to change the composition of that government as part of the process.
And that fundamental principle is where Senate Democrats have launched their attack.
Senate Joint Resolution 19 would allow Congress to restrict that very right to change the composition of government by specifically conveying to those very elected officials authority over campaign spending under the guise of a newly created principle of political equality for all.
This proposed Constitutional amendment falls short in at least two areas.
The most basic is that it puts control into the hands of government the means to redress grievances with that government, effectively demolishing the right of redress.
Secondly, the fine sounding principle of political equality for all, actually means political activity for none, as it defines the right to redress down to the lowest common desire of political involvement. Under the presumption of this new political equality within the Constitution, a businessman whose wealth was being confiscated through regulatory or direct legislative action would have no more opportunity to spend his fortune protecting himself against government excesses, than that which a homeless person on the streets of Los Angeles could afford.
The so-called “fundamental principle of political equality for all” strips away the means to redress grievances with the government by allowing Congress to take away your means of exercising those grievances if everyone does not have those same means.
That is why the 41 Senate Democrats who would imbed into our Constitution this new construction of free speech actually aim to destroy it.
Of course, to be fair, if you have the means or power to control a media company, your right to speech would be protected. After all, Senate Democrats would never dream of declaring the millions of dollars worth of free political advantage they receive from the pages and airwaves controlled their wealthy benefactors to be subject to the new “political equality” principle.
Fortunately, it takes a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, plus ratification by three-fourths of the states to amend the Constitution, so this attack on freedom will not win this year. But with a majority of Senate Democrats in support of this direct assault on political speech, our nation is only one disastrous election cycle away from the wholesale stripping away of the right to dissent.
---------------- Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. This article was also shared on the ALG blog: NetRightDaily. Tags:Senate Democrats, Declare War, First Amendment, free3 speech, Rick Manning, Americans for Limited Government To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:William Warren, One Good Reason, should havem Government healthcare, VATo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Veterans Affairs Secretary Resigns | House Passes Appropriations Bills | Promoting New Manufacturing Act Introduced
Update 2:15 PM: President Obama announced the resignation of White House press secretary Jay Carney Friday afternoon. Obama also announced that current deputy press secretary Josh Earnest will replace Carney in the post. (Daily Beast)
Today in Washington, D.C. - May 30, 2014
This morning, President Obama accepted Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resignation. The Washington Times reports, "President Obama accepted the resignation Friday of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, amid a burgeoning scandal over delayed care for veterans at VA hospitals. In a hastily arranged statement after meeting with Mr. Shinseki at the White House, the president said he accepted the resignation “with considerable regret” and admitted that the decision was partly political. The president said Mr. Shinseki told him “that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself. . . . VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, who has been in his post only three months, will take over on an interim basis."
The Senate will reconvene for a pro forma session today at 2 PM; it will return for legislative business on Monday, June 2nd.
The House reconvened today at 9 AM after a very long day yesterday ending yesterdays session at 1:18 AM this morning. The House moved to take up and passed at 11:57 AM H.R. 4681 (345-59) — "To authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes." This is the second appropriations bill passed by the House in less than 12 hours. The House adjourned at 12:43 PM and will reconvene on Monday, June 2 at Noon.
Yesterday the House took up debated and voted on amendments to and passed at 1:15 AM today H.R. 4660 (321-87) as amended — "Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes."
Today, U.S. Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA), Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, today introduced legislation, the Promoting New Manufacturing Act, to increase investment in American manufacturing, create new jobs and reduce costly permitting delays. Scalise said, “Our national debt is racing towards $18 trillion, and every month more and more Americans are leaving the workforce. The Administration should be doing everything in its power to grow the economy and help Americans get back to work. The Promoting New Manufacturing Act takes critical steps toward cutting red tape, reviving our country’s manufacturing base, and creating thousands of high-paying jobs for hard-working Americans. By increasing transparency and holding the EPA accountable, we can jump start a broken permitting process that is holding back our economy, which is good news for hard working taxpayers.”
The Promoting New Manufacturing Act:
Reduces costly construction permitting delays that impede the construction of new facilities by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide guidance on how to comply with new or revised air quality standards.
Increases transparency by making public the number of Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) preconstruction permits issued annually and the timelines for the full permitting process.
Promotes the efficient processing of permits by requiring EPA to provide Congress with an annual report on the actions being taken by the agency to expedite the permitting process.
WaPo – Economy shrank during first quarter, government data show The U.S. economy shrank for the first time in three years during the first quarter, according to government data released Thursday morning, but many analysts believe the recovery has already regained its mojo. In the first quarter of 2014, gross domestic product fell by 1 percent.
New York Times - A Price Tag on Carbon as a Climate Rescue Plan: Bryan T. Pagel, a dairy farmer, watched as a glistening slurry of cow manure disappeared down a culvert. If recycling the waste on his family’s farm would help to save the world, he was happy to go along.
Politico - GOP House backs state medical marijuana laws: The GOP-controlled House voted early Friday in favor of blocking the federal government from interfering with states that permit the use of medical marijuana.
The Hill - House rejects bid to allow Gitmo transfer: The House early Friday rejected a proposal from Rep. Jim Moran (D-Md.) to allow the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S.
Roll Call - Obama ‘Hasn’t Given Up’ on Unemployment Extension: President Barack Obama “hasn’t given up” on an unemployment extension, Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday, even though a five-month bill is about to expire without action in the House.
Politico – NSA releases Edward Snowden email: An email that leaker Edward Snowden sent to lawyers at the National Security Agency weeks before he fled his job last year raised a relatively abstract legal question and did not allege any wrongdoing at the spy agency, according to a copy of the message released by the government on Thursday.
LA Times - Homeland Security chief to review release of immigrants convicted of crimes: Under pressure from lawmakers, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Thursday he was reviewing the release from jail of thousands of immigrants in the country illegally who were convicted of crimes and faced deportation.
Fox News – First order for Benghazi committee members: drawing up attack timeline: Members of the Republican-led Benghazi select committee are getting down to work, with the first order of business a detailed timeline of the attack. Tags:Veterans Affairs Secretary, Eric Shinseki, Resigns, U.S. Appropriations Bills, New Manufacturing ActTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Before President Obama took office in 2009, the amount of electricity being produced by coal-fired utilities was approximately fifty percent of the total. Today it is approximately forty percent and, when the Environmental Protection Agency regulations take effect as of June 2, more such utilities are likely to close their doors. The basis for the regulations is utterly devoid of any scientific facts.
Environmentalism, as expressed by many of the organizations that advocate it is, in fact, an attack on America, its economic system of capitalism, and its need for energy to maintain and grow its business and industrial base. Electricity, of course, is also the energy we all use daily for a multitude of tasks ranging from heating or cooling our homes to the use of our computers and every other appliance.
The EPA regulations are said to be necessary to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) which the Greens deem to be a “pollutant” in our atmosphere. It is not a pollutant, despite a Supreme Court decision that identifies it as such, but rather a gas vital to all life on Earth, used by all vegetation for its growth. CO2 is to vegetation what oxygen is to all animal life. Humans, all seven billion of us, exhale CO2!
Viv Forbes, the Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition and a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, notes that the Earth’s atmosphere “is not a greenhouse” and “does not have a glass roof. It uses convection to redistribute heat very quickly.” The claim for several decades has been that CO2 has an effect on the Earth’s surface temperature, but Forbes points out that “water vapor is a far more effective agent for insulating the Earth and preserving its warmth than carbon dioxide,” adding that “there is no evidence that man-made carbon dioxide is a significant cause of global warming.”
Indeed, even though the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased, Forbes points out that “Close examination of past records shows that temperature tends to rise before carbon dioxide content rises, sometimes centuries earlier.” Significantly, at the same time Greens have been crying out against emissions of CO2 from coal-fired utilities and other sources, the Earth has been in a cooling cycle now verging on eighteen years!
The EPA is lying to Americans regarding carbon dioxide and, worse, its proposed regulations will reduce the number of coal-fired utilities and drive up the cost of electricity for Americans.
One of the many Green organizations, Earthjustice, claims that “Climate change threatens the world as we know it—and the chief culprit is fossil fuel burning. To avert ecological disaster, Earthjustice is pushing for a shift from dirty to clean energy to stabilize our climate and build a thriving sustainable world.”
There is literally nothing that mankind can do to “stabilize” the Earth’s climate. While the Earth has been going through climate change for 4.5 billion years, there is no evidence that anything mankind does has any effect on it. The change the Earth has encountered, as mentioned, is a cooling, a far different scenario than the “global warming” claims of the past three decades or more.
Tom Richard, the editor of ClimageChangeDispatch.com, notes that “Arctic sea ice has rebounded to higher and higher levels each year. Antarctica is actually gaining in size and there has been no increase in droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, ‘extreme weather’, flooding, et cetera.”
Reducing CO2 would have zero benefits while, at the same time, the EPA regulations would have a dangerous and totally unnecessary effect on CO2 emissions from plants producing electricity. Other nations around the world are actually abandoning “clean energy”. i.e., wind and solar power, in favor of building many more coal-fired plants to meet their need to provide energy for their populations and their economic growth. China and India are just two examples.
To support its claims of the forthcoming EPA regulations, EarthJustice is claiming that climate change “hits people of color the hardest” and that power plants “disproportionately impact Latino communities.” It noted “the moral obligation of faith community to act on climate change and support carbon pollution limits.” This has nothing to do with the actual facts of climate change and CO2 as noted here and is a blatant political campaign to secure support from these groups.
The reality, as noted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a policy research organization founded by former Senate leaders from both parties, was quoted in the May 26 edition of The Wall Street Journal saying “A 25% reduction (of CO2) with a 2015 baseline might make it impossible for some companies to operate”, noting that the cap-and-trade policies of emissions allowances that the EPA is putting in place “amounts to a hidden tax” on a whole range of electrical generation and industrial plants that produce CO2 emissions. The EPA will likely use the term “budget program” to avoid “cap-and-trade”, a proposal that was rejected by Congress.
Writing in Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin, said that the new regulations on carbon emissions “will have a potentially devastating impact on America’s more than 600 coal-fired power plants” noting that “the move was made possible by Supreme Court decisions that ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency had the right to regulate (CO2) emissions, giving the President virtual carte blanche to remake this sector of our economy without requiring congressional consent.”
In July, the Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, will hold its ninth international conference on climate change. Previous conferences have brought together some of the world’s leading authorities on meteorology and climatology to debunk the decades of lies Greens have told about climate change and global warming.
The President has put “climate change” high on his list of priorities and it is an attack on the nation’s ability to affordably and extensively provide the energy needed to meet current needs for electricity and reducing our capacity to meet future needs.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on record saying that the President’s bogus “climate change” policy could cost the U.S. economy $50 billion a year and force more than a third of coal-fired plants to close by 2030. The Heritage Foundation says “The plan will drive up energy prices for American families and businesses without making a dent in global temperatures.”
This is a form of regulatory death for the nation and comes straight out of the Oval Office of the White House.
----------------- 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, regulatory death, energy, America, Alan Caruba, warning signsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
When lawmakers refused to pass cap-and-trade legislation, Obama announced there was more than one way to skin the cat. Through climate plans, executive orders and regulatory action, he directed his agencies to find ways to curb the country’s carbon dioxide output and commit to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Leading the charge, unsurprisingly, is the Environmental Protection Agency, which will release its carbon-dioxide regulations for existing power plants on Monday. The plan will drive up energy prices for American families and businesses without making a dent in global temperatures.
Our infographic explains what it means for jobs, incomes and the states hurt most.
Tags:carbon, climate change, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, CO2 reg, bypassing Congress, Will Cost you, infgographic, Heritage Foundation, Nicolas Loris, Nicole RusenkoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
By Robert Bensh, OilPrice.com: Kiev is feeling emboldened by the successful election of a new Ukrainian president and a bloody surge against separatists in the east, but in just a few days, Russia says it will twist the gas spigot, and there's very little Kiev can do to stop that.
On June 3, Russia plans to reduce the gas supply to Ukraine — and hence, to Europe — if Kiev has failed to pay in advance for next month's gas deliveries, the price for which has been doubled as a result of the political crisis.
Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is trying to play hardball with Moscow, suggesting that gas talks cannot move forward until Russia addresses the issue of $1 billion in gas it stole when it annexed Crimea.
Yatsenyuk may be riding high on the sense of stability the recent presidential election has brought, not to mention the unleashing of the Ukrainian military on pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, but the "stolen gas" gambit is a losing one—a bunch of bluster that certainly won't make Moscow go away.
Ukraine owes $500 million just for May gas deliveries, on top of a whopping $3.5 billion in outstanding gas debt (according to Moscow). If at least part of this debt is not paid, there won't be any negotiating over price. Gazprom says Ukraine had agreed to pay $2 billion of its debt this week, but Kiev is instead talking about stolen Crimea gas.
What is promising in all of this is the election of Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine's new president, by a wide margin and with more than 60 percent voter turnout. Ukraine has new, legitimate leadership that Russia, the United States and the European Union have all agreed to recognize.
The new president immediately pledged to deal with the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk, establish a working relationship with Russia and hold early parliamentary elections, which undoubtedly is an attempt to capitalize on the current political good will and further weaken a parliament dominated by former Regions politicians, Fatherland and business interests.
What the presidential elections give Kiev is a bit more strength and a more united force to deal with its energy crisis, as well as with Moscow.
In the coming days, Russia will recognise Poroshenko's legitimacy and remind him that June 3 is right around the corner. By next week, we could see the disruption of gas supplies to Europe, Russia's largest and most profitable market.
If this happens, an acute energy crisis in Ukraine is all but certain. Ukraine stockpiles its gas supply for the winter heating months during the summer. With current low supplies and higher prices expected for this summer, Russia will walk all over Kiev.
Short of handing Gazprom a cashier's check, there is no way to avoid the present crisis.
In the medium-to-long term, however, some hard decisions are going to have to be made—decisions that former Ukrainain vice prime minister and energy minister Yuri Boyko would have liked to make some time ago. These include selling off the state-run gas companies, Ukrnafta and Ukrgasproduction.
So we find ourselves reliving 2006 and 2009, when Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine and Europe. And if Ukraine hopes to stop reliving these desperate years over and over again, it's going to have to start selling off assets and rolling out the transparency.
The trick will be for Poroshenko and a newly appointed energy minister to work with both Russia and Europe to secure new pricing and to foster energy independence while at the same time being mindful of one very important fact: Ukraine's westward drift toward the EU is what led Russia to annex Crimea in the first place.
Russia will continue to use Russian nationalist movements in eastern Ukraine to stir discontent and to sow chaos, striving to keep Kiev off balance as Moscow works to use gas as a weapon to ensure a compliant Europe. It's a hard balance to maintain, especially as some Central European countries are seeing the light at the end of the independence tunnel.
Poroshenko is a highly pragmatic businessman, which is what Ukraine needs. But neither he nor those around him know energy, or Russia. From the energy crisis standpoint, it is the appointment of a new energy minister that will change the real balance of power.
There are very few figures in Ukraine who know the West, Russia and enough about energy to do what needs to be done. Because of that, Poroshenko's pick for energy minister should be the smartest choice, not the most popular one.
---------------- James Stafford, Editor, OilPrice.com contributed this article to the ARRA News Service. OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site. Robert Bensh is the Managing Director and partner with Pelicourt LLC, a private equity firm focused on energy and natural resources in Ukraine. Tags:energy crisis, Ukraine, overdue payments, gas, Russia, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Feds Attack American Businesses in "Operation Choke Point"
by Newt Gingrich: In an administration that has pioneered the use of regulatory power to bully businesses into doing “voluntarily” what the bureaucrats can’t require by law, a secretive federal program that has become public in the last few months stands out as an especially disturbing abuse of power.
The program's name, “Operation Choke Point,” is a pretty strong indication of trouble--an eerie way for bureaucrats to describe their conduct toward private citizens.
It’s a reference to the banking system as the “choke point” of businesses, a critical piece of the economic infrastructure which government can co-opt to strangle legal activities it doesn't favor. In fact, I first learned about the program through my work as an advisor to the U.S. Consumer Coalition, which is fighting attacks like these on legal American businesses.
The revelation is alarming in part because it suggests federal officials have realized that they can leverage their strong regulatory authority over one industry, financial services, to exert broad control over many others.
The “choke point” initiative, a joint project of the Department of Justice, the FDIC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other agencies, started by targeting payday lenders. Officials approached banks and third-party payment processors, advising them that they could be held accountable if regulators concluded that any of their customers (the payday lenders) engaged in illegal behavior. The feds suggested ominously that banks ran a “reputational risk” if they serviced such clients.
The banks got the message. Nice bank you've got there. Shame if something happened to it.
As the Independent Community Bankers of America, an industry association, said in a letter to the Justice Department regarding Operation Choke Point, the program “gives community banks the untenable choices of either severing valuable and legal customer relationships or risking DoJ enforcement actions.” It could “close access to the financial system to law-abiding businesses,” the letter continued, “because the mere prospect of an enforcement action is sufficient to cause financial institutions to restrict access to their payment systems to only established companies that present low risks.”
Heeding the feds' thuggish warning, the banks have been dropping the payday lenders as customers en masse. In a recent story on this phenomenon, the Washington Post quoted a letter from a banker to a payday lender with whom the bank was ending its relationship. “Based on your performance, there’s no way we shouldn’t be a credit provider,” the banker wrote. “Our only issue is, and it has always been, the space in which you operate. It is the scrutiny that you, and now that we, are under.”
Could it be any clearer?
The lenders aren’t the only legal businesses the regulators are using their authority in financial services to "choke." A document the FDIC released in 2011 warns third-party payment processors that the agency is concerned about their business with “disreputable merchants” in 30 industries. In addition to “pay day loans,” the document warns about “ammunition sales,” “firearms sales,” “coin dealers,” “online gambling,” “tobacco sales,” “racist materials,” “pornography,” and “telemarketing,” among others.
Bureaucrats, it seems, are indeed deputizing bankers and payment processors to cut off these industries from the financial services they need to survive. The Washington Timesreported last week that banks and payment processors have been terminating the accounts of law-abiding gun dealers across the country.
Much like the letter to the payday lender in the Post, the Times quotes a bank assuring a gun dealer that its decision to drop him as a client “in no way reflects any derogatory reasons for such action on your behalf. But rather one of industry. Unfortunately your company’s line of business is not commensurate with the industries we work with.”
There are reports of similar account terminations in many other industries the FDIC has labeled "high-risk."
These developments should concern every American. For the government to hold banks responsible for monitoring the business of all their customers is unprecedented. To do so with the explicit aim of chilling the perfectly legal economic activities of private citizens is such a jaw-dropping abuse of power that it would have been unbelievable from any previous administration.
If the Department of Justice has evidence that particular businesses have broken the law, it should prosecute them. Lacking that, it certainly has no right to attack entire industries through the banking system. This story is as outrageous as they come. The federal bureaucracy has gone completely off the rails.
---------------- Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. Newt and his wife, Callista, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries. The above commentary was shared via his daily email via Gingrich Productions. Tags:Newt Gingrich, Gingrich Productions, Fed attacks, American Businesses, Operation Choke PointTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
…(I)ncluding a reclassification of broadband services, something that commonly known as Title II reclassification.About which a leading proponent says:“At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”Sound familiar? They want government-regulation-time-bomb destruction of the private sector Internet – to end up with a single-payer government-only Web. Upon which the Feds have already put a down payment.2009 Stimulus Bill Includes $7.2 Billion for BroadbandWhich has worked with Veterans Administration-esque alacrity.The Internet ‘Stimulus’-Just as Destructive as the Rest of the ‘Stimulus’
Title II is the uber-regulatory superstructure where land line telephones exist. To think that the dynamic, interwoven, free speech-free market Xanadu that is the World Wide Web is JUST like the monolithic, monorail, virtually-unchanged-for-seventy-plus-years wired phone is…ridiculous on stilts. And incredibly destructive.
The Leviathan is relentless. It wants Reclassification because it would dramatically accelerate the “transition process” from a free market Internet to government-monopoly broadband.
The Court has already twice said the FCC overreached on Net Neutrality. The FCC’s response is to consider an overreach light years beyond these previous power grabs.
The Leviathan is relentless.
------------- Seton Motley is the President of Less Government and he contributes to ARRA News Service. The PJ Tatler also published this article. Please feel free to follow him on Twitter / Facebook Tags:Seton Motley, Less Government VA, Veterans Administration, Internet, government bureaucracy, failure, FCC, Net NeutralityTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Phyllis Schlafly: The problems with the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) giving inferior and delayed care to veterans is a good window into the future of Obamacare. Both the VA and Obamacare suffer the endemic problems of a government-run single-payer system (a.k.a. socialism) — no choice of doctors or hospitals, no insurance companies, broken promises, lengthy waits, and bureaucratic cover-ups.
Before Barack Obama was elected, we were assured by experts writing in the mainstream media that the VA was a U.S. health care leader and a model for the country. The New York Times oracle Paul Krugman wrote in 2011, “Yes, this is ‘socialized medicine,’ but it works, and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of U.S. health care more broadly.”
Obama made a lot of big campaign promises about the VA to reassure veterans. The VA scandal is now embarrassing front-page news that he can’t ignore, but he continues to pretend that there is no systemic problem in the VA system.
Now we hear that the VA maintains hidden “wait lists” for at least seven veterans hospitals. That’s exactly what critics of Obamacare predicted will happen with a government-run health care system.
The length of the secret waiting list at the VA system in Arizona is a shocking 1,400 to 1,600 patients and at least 40 veterans have died at the Phoenix VA hospital waiting for a vital treatment. Some VA patients have waited as long as 21 months to see a physician, despite the VA claim that it was meeting its goal to allow a delay of only 14 to 30 days for a patient to be seen.
“Choice” is a favorite word with many liberals, but the VA problems are proving that our choices about medical care are rapidly narrowing. There are fewer plans, and fewer doctors and fewer hospitals in every approved plan.
Some assert that there are more than 344,000 claims for veterans’ care that are waiting to be processed, and it takes an average of 160 days for a veteran to be approved for health benefits. The system has deteriorated so badly that suicides by patients and by staff have become a problem.
We hear that some VA employees maintained secret lists and falsified data in order to conceal the wait times and hide the long delays veterans faced before seeing doctors. Nevertheless, the organization called Openthebooks.com reports that 12,549 bonuses totaling over $8.8 million at seven troubled facilities have been paid out to reward VA employees.
When Barack Obama was a candidate for President in 2008, he made the medical treatment of veterans a big, emotional campaign issue and promised that his administration would address the backlog, greatly improve care, cure “the broken bureaucracy of the VA,” and build “a 21st-century VA.” In fact, the real goal of Obama and Senator Harry Reid has always been to grease the way to impose a universal government-run single-payer health system for all Americans.
Millions of medical records at the Phoenix facility are apparently missing, and the system is reportedly 250,000 pages behind in processing new records. Patients are sometimes referred by the VA to another VA in a different state because of the unavailability of physicians and nurses, who have left the system in droves.
This problem is not limited to one VA hospital in Phoenix but has surfaced in at least 16 states, including Colorado, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming. As long as the Obama Administration remains in cover-up mode, there is good reason to think that this denial of care is even more pervasive and worse than so far reported.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has refused access for state officials to inspect the records at VA hospitals, even though health care has traditionally been under the purview of state law. When the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration visited VA hospitals to examine records and investigate reports of big delays in care, the Obama Administration told them to get out.
So, look through the window into the future and see the government-run health care that is called Obamacare. The VA problems are exactly where Obamacare is taking Americans because the Democrats’ goal in passing Obamacare was always to take us all into a single-payer system controlled by the federal government, and the VA is precisely the model.
-------------------- Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president ofEagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues. Tags:Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Windows into the future, delayed veterans care, VA, Veterans Administration, Obamacare, no choice of doctors, no choice of hospital, no insurance companies, broken promises, lengthy waits, bureaucratic cover-upsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
VA IG Report: Abuses Uncovered In Phoenix A 'Systemic Problem Nationwide'
Yesterday, the VA Inspector General has released an interim report on the Phoenix VA health system. It found that more than 1,700 veterans were not included in the facilities records, and that patients were waiting at least 115 days for first appointments. Moreover, the report declared that "inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide."
The House reconvened today at 10 AM. They will initially consider certain members to standing committees. They they will take up: H.R. 4660 — "Making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes."
Yesterday the House passed: H. Res. 599 (379-1) - "Urging the Government of the People's Republic of China to respect the freedom of assembly, expression, and religion and all fundamental human rights and the rule of law for all its citizens and to stop censoring discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations and their violent suppression." H.R. 2527 (Voice Vote) — "To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide veterans with counseling and treatment for sexual trauma that occurred during inactive duty training." H.R. 4587 (Voice Vote) — "To impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for carrying out or ordering human rights abuses against the citizens of Venezuela, and for other purposes." H.R. 2942 (Voice Vote) — "To amend title 38, United States Code, to reestablish the Professional Certification and Licensure Advisory Committee of the Department of Veterans Affairs." H.R. 3366 (Voice Vote) — "To provide for the release of the property interests retained by the United States in certain land conveyed in 1954 by the United States, acting through the Director of the Bureau of Land Management, to the State of Oregon for the establishment of the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center of Oregon State University in Hermiston, Oregon." H.R. 4028 (Voice Vote) — "To amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the desecration of cemeteries among the many forms of violations of the right to religious freedom." H.R. 4261 (voice Vote) — "To improve the research of Gulf War Illness, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, and for other purposes." H.R. 4587 (Voice Vote) — "To impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for carrying out or ordering human rights abuses against the citizens of Venezuela, and for other purposes."
H.R. 503 (370-0)— "To authorize the National Desert Storm Memorial Association to establish the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial as a commemorative work in the District of Columbia, and for other purposes." S. 611(Voice Vote) — "To make a technical amendment to the T'uf Shur Bien Preservation Trust Area Act, and for other purposes."
Today, Gary L. Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, noted that there was an unusual late-night hearing on Capitol Hill last night as top officials from the Veterans Administration appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The hearing began at 7:30 p.m., just hours after the release of a damning inspector general's report, and concluded just before midnight.
In addition to its findings of lost patients and outrageously long wait times, yesterday's VA report stated that 42 VA medical facilities are under investigation, up from 26 hospitals a week ago. This latest IG report greatly eroded what little support VA Secretary Eric Shinseki had left on Capitol Hill. As of this writing, 16 House Democrats and eight Senate Democrats have publicly demanded Shinseki's resignation.
Others, like Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), are calling for a criminal investigation of the VA by the Justice Department. Sen. Blumenthal said recently that there was "credible and specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing across the country in more than thirty places."
Bauer summarized today, "Think about that for a moment. Obama smeared doctors to advance his agenda of a big government takeover of the private health care system. Now we find out what is going on in his VA. There's no evidence of unnecessary surgeries, but there is plenty of evidence that many of our heroes who needed surgeries could not get them. And what about that profit motive? As the inspector general's report stated, the main reason for the falsified records and wait lists was so that the bureaucrats could get cash bonuses. This sorry episode is more evidence of Obama's big government, socialist mindset. He shamelessly attacked private sector doctors while promising that in the world of Obamacare, the government will do everything better, cheaper and with more compassion. The evidence is overwhelming that the government system is corrupt, but Obama continues to dissemble.".
The New York Times wrote yesterday, “In the first confirmation that Department of Veterans Affairs administrators manipulated medical waiting lists at one and possibly more hospitals, the department’s inspector general reported on Wednesday that 1,700 patients at the veterans medical center in Phoenix were not placed on the official waiting list for doctors’ appointments and may never have received care. The scathing report by Richard J. Griffin, the acting inspector general, validates allegations raised by whistle-blowers and others that Veterans Affairs officials in Phoenix employed artifices to cloak long waiting times for veterans seeking medical care. Mr. Griffin said the average waiting time in Phoenix for initial primary care appointments, 115 days, was nearly five times as long as what the hospital’s administrators had reported. He suggested that the falsified data may have led to more favorable performance reviews for hospital personnel, and he indicated that some instances of potentially manipulated data had been turned over to the Justice Department. Mr. Griffin said that similar kinds of manipulation to hide long and possibly growing waiting times were ‘systemic throughout’ the sprawling Veterans Affairs health care system, with its 150 medical centers serving eight million veterans each year. The inspector general’s office is reviewing practices at 42 Veterans Affairs medical facilities.”
The Daily Beast’s Jacob Siegel points out, “Just last week, top leaders including VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and President Obama were wondering aloud whether the VA’s problems were limited to a few bad actors. Now, they don’t have to wonder. Messing with schedules to hide long wait times for veterans seeking medical care is ‘systemic’ in the VA’s health-care system, according to a new report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General. And those ‘scheduling schemes’ are placing veterans at risk. The new report’s official judgment should resolve any doubt about how deep and widespread these issues are. As of Wednesday, when the report was released, the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) investigation had expanded to 42 separate VA facilities. Increased calls for political action came swiftly in the report's wake and focused on VA Secretary Shinseki.
“‘I haven’t said this before, but I think it’s time for Gen. Shinseki to move on,’ Sen. John McCain said in an appearence on CNN Wednesday. Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, responded to the report with a statement that said Shinseki should ‘resign immediately.’ Less than a week ago Rep. Jeff Miller was calling for Shinseki to stay at his post until the OIG completed its investigation, but he changed course after reviewing the interim report’s findings. In his statement Miller called Shinseki a ‘good man who has served his country honorably,’ but said that he seemed ‘completely oblivious to the severity of the health care challenges facing the department’ and that it was ‘time for him to go.’”
And The Washington Post adds, “The inspector general’s report, a 35-page interim document, prompted new calls for VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a former general and Vietnam veteran, to resign. Some of the calls on Capitol Hill were from members of President Obama’s party, complicating what is already a political challenge for a president who has made veterans issues a legacy-defining priority after more than a decade of war. . . . The report helps clarify allegations that have swirled around VA for weeks. White House officials said Obama had been briefed on its findings and found them ‘extremely troubling.’ Capitol Hill’s reaction was sharper. Several Republicans called for Shinseki’s resignation, including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), a leading voice on military and foreign affairs; Rep. Jeff Miller (Fla.), who heads the House Veterans’ Affairs committee; and Rep. Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon (Calif.), who leads the House Armed Services Committee. . . . Miller joined a growing list of lawmakers who are asking the Justice Department to launch a formal criminal investigation. McCain, who is on that list, said in a statement: ‘It is alarming that Secretary Shinseki either wasn’t aware of these systemic problems, or wasn’t forthcoming in his communications with Congress about them. Either way, it is clear to me that new leadership is needed at the VA.’ While several top congressional leaders have said Shinseki should remain in office to help address the sprawling department’s problems, a series of Democratic lawmakers also joined the calls for Shinseki’s resignation.”
Yet last week Senate Democrats blocked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) from passing his simple bill to make it easier to hold people in the VA accountable for all this.
As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The denial of care to our veterans is a national disgrace. And the scandal only seems to increase in scope by the day. . . . Our veterans are counting on him to work with both parties to get to the truth, and to pursue solutions that can make things better. Solutions like the VA reform bill that passed the House just yesterday with a strong bipartisan majority. That legislation, which I’ve co-sponsored and which Senator Rubio has led on, would make it easier to remove high-level VA employees for performance failures. It’s a smart idea. There’s no reason for us not to pass it quickly here in the Senate. And the President should call for its passage right away too.”
So the big questions are: Will the president finally make this important first step in the wake of this scathing IG report? And will Senate Democrats stop blocking the House and Senate bills addressing VA reform? Tags:VA, IG Report, Systemic problems, nationwide,To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Exposed, CIA Station Chief, President Obama, speech, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Exxon, BP Defy White House; Extend Partnership with Russia
By Nicholas Cunningham, OilPrice.com: Several of the largest oil companies in the world are doubling down in Russia despite moves by the West to isolate Russia and its economy. ExxonMobil and BP separately signed agreements with Rosneft – Russia's state-owned oil company – to extend and deepen their relationships for energy exploration. The U.S. slapped sanctions on Rosneft's CEO Igor Sechin in late April, freezing his assets and preventing him from obtaining visas.
However, the sanctions do not extend to Rosneft itself, allowing western companies to continue to do business with the Russian oil giant. ExxonMobil signed an agreement with Rosneft, extending its partnership to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Russia's pacific coast. Known as the Far East LNG project, the export terminal will receive natural gas from Russia's eastern fields as well as from Sakhalin-1, an island off Russia's east coast. Rosneft announced the deal in a press release on its website on May 23.
The following day, Rosneft and BP signed an agreement to jointly explore oil in the Volga-Urals region. It will consist of a pilot project in the Domanik formations, and if successful could lead to the development of shale oil in Russia. Rosneft will maintain a 51 percent ownership of the joint venture and BP will own 49 percent.
The signing of the agreement occurred during a ceremony at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The oil majors attended despite pressure from the White House to boycott the event. Many big name companies chose not to attend even though they have large economic interests in Russia, including PepsiCo, German companies E.ON and Siemens, and some of the biggest banks in the U.S.
By defying the White House, the oil majors salvaged what would have otherwise been an embarrassing event for the Kremlin. The absence of the world's largest companies would have demonstrated Russia's increasing isolation. Instead, Russia used the event to detail plans to expand its massive energy sector. "(They're) eager to continue work on projects in Russia," Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said of ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.
BP CEO Bob Dudley emphasized his company's determination to stick with Russia. "We are very pleased to be a part of Russian energy complex," he said at the forum. "President (Putin) has urged us today to invest into shale oil... There's so many natural resources in Russia, the openness and partnerships Russia has with companies from all over the world is a good thing for energy," Dudley added.
Even though there are international sanctions on Rosneft's Igor Sechin, Dudley insisted that their business with Rosneft will continue. "It does not affect our cooperation with the company itself," Dudley said, referring to sanctions on Rosneft's boss. He was even able to meet Sechin privately.
French oil giant Total S.A. also signed an agreement with Lukoil – Russia's second largest oil company – to explore for shale oil and gas. Total's chief executive Christophe de Margerie also went to lengths to reassure the Russian hosts. "My message to Russia is simple – business as usual," he said at the event.
To be clear, the oil companies are not legally running afoul of international sanctions. But their collective shrug in the face of European and American pressure to boycott Russia – along with the $400 billion natural gas deal Russia signed with China last week – illustrates the difficulty with which the West will have at undermining Russia's energy sector, if it chose to do so. Russia is too big of a prize for the likes of ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell.
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