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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, December 11, 2015
Conservative Leaders: Syrian Immigration is a Grave National Security Threat
The Conservative Action Project, founded by former Attorney General Edwin Meese and chaired by The Honorable Becky Norton Dunlop, is designed to facilitate conservative leaders working together on behalf of common goals. Participants include the CEO’s of over 100 organizations representing all major elements of the conservative movement: economic, social and national security.
Conservative Leaders: Syrian Immigration is a Grave National Security Threat
November 30, 2015
The burden to keep our immigration system both safe and generous falls on Congress.
America’s immigration system is the most generous in the world. Accordingly, the law allows for those who have a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion” to enter the U.S. as a refugee. This definition is importantly limited in scope and applies to individuals on a case-by- case basis. It may not apply to everyone fleeing one country equally.
The State Department, according to its legal authority granted by Congress, announced that 10,000 of the 85,000 refugee slots for 2016 will be reserved for Syrians. Given the current climate around the globe, a refugee population so large, fleeing a war torn region, with ample evidence that a group of Syrian refugees is much more likely to contain Islamic Extremists bent on violence in America creating a completely unsecure, dangerous, and untenable situation for the American people.
During his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security last week, FBI Director James Comey clearly indicated that the FBI does not have the ability to conduct thorough background checks on 10,000 Syrian refugees. At the moment, we are convinced there is no possible way to verify the identity and credibility of Syrian refugees, and recognize that to be a grave national security threat. Of the challenge in verifying the identity of a Syrian refugee, he said, ““And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them.”
Until there is assurance that all potential terrorists are screened out, Syrian refugees cannot be allowed to immigrate to the United States. If the administration is determined to grant refugee status to 10,000 (or more) Syrian refuges, it is incumbent upon Congress to intervene. According to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, the Congress has sole discretion over immigration law and federal spending. On December 11th, funding for all government programs will expire. In the interest of national security, Congress must prohibit funding for the State Department to allow any Syrian immigrant to gain refugee status.
There are compassionate approaches that do not entail the security risks associated with allowing vast numbers of un-vetted, displaced people into the United States. For example, humanitarian support could be provided directly to displaced people currently in refugee camps in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and elsewhere. We could also assist the government of Kurdistan in its efforts to care for those displaced by shifting already allotted financial and/or other resources for the current camps, and also ensure more are built if needed.
Congress should then work with the intelligence agencies to develop a vetting process that assures the nation our refugee laws do not make us less safe. We must be able to verify that any individual seeking any immigration status does not pose a threat to this nation. Congress should pause any new Syrian refugees, and allow a deliberative process for lawmakers to ensure any proposed vetting process is secure, transparent, and respects the role of state governments.
Hon. Edwin Meese III - Former Attorney General, President Ronald Reagan
Col. Francis X. De Luca USMCR (Ret) - President, Civitas Institute
Thomas P. Kilgannon - President, Freedom Alliance
Robert K. Fischer -Meeting Coordinator for Conservatives of Faith
Melissa Ortiz - Founder & Principal, Able Americans
Jim Backlin - Christian Coalition of America
Donna Hearne - Chief Executive Officer, The Constitutional Coalition
*ARRA News Service Author was identified for info purposes only.
---------------------- Tags:Conservative leaders, Syrian Immigration, Grave National Threat, Open LetterTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Obama Uses Taxpayer Dollars to Buy Popularity for Himself at UN Meeting
by Cathie Adams: President Barack Obama’s legacy to fundamentally transform America was on the global stage the first two weeks of December in Paris, France at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). His weapon was the radical green agenda and American taxpayers were his victims.
Obama’s Clean Power Plan Fits Within the UN Scheme, Opposed by Congress
Obama wants our energy prices to skyrocket. Last August, in preparation for the UN meeting, he proposed his Clean Power Plan that mandates a 32% percent reduction by the year 2030 for CO2 “pollution,” and mandates oil and natural gas companies to mitigate 45% of methane emissions by 2025. Both will cause our energy prices to skyrocket. Succinctly stated by Robert E. Murray, chairman and CEO of Murray Energy Corp., “There is no question that President Barack H. Obama, his Democrat supporters and his appointed bureaucrats want to eliminate the use of all fossil fuels.”
The technology for wind and solar, the “green” energy sources, is nowhere near capable of replacing fossil fuels, so the problem is worse than skyrocketing energy prices — it aims to destroy our standard of living.
U.S. Senator Mike Lee has boldly led the fight calling on any new treaty in Paris to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. In response, the lead American negotiator in Paris, Todd Stern, said during the first week of negotiations that the U.S. would support legally binding accountability, renewal, reporting and review, but not targets, which presented a major disagreement with China.
China and other third-world nations want legally binding targets to force the U.S. to fatally wound her own economy, which was attempted by its predecessor the Kyoto Protocol. Poor nations were exempted from Kyoto; only 37 rich nations were bound by it, which is one reason why the U.S. Senate never ratified it. Stern thinks that by supporting legally binding accountability, but not targets, he can appease the Chinese, but that’s a pipe dream. Poor nations typically agree to most treaties, then walk away, forgetting them altogether. But that’s not the way things are done in the U.S. and the Chinese know that.
Regardless what the new UN treaty requires, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is implementing his Clean Power Plan. About two dozen states have filed lawsuits, but the EPA is pushing ahead on its rules and regulations. Congress is also trying to rein in Obama’s global handouts, but he promises to veto their efforts.
The Clean Power Plan would reduce America’s emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, a non pollutant, by 26%-28% below 2005 levels in 2025, which Obama boasted would bind the next president politically, claiming the next President could not just undo the myriad of EPA rules by fiat, a hubris statement from the most lawless President in U.S. history.
Rich Getting Richer at Taxpayers’ Expense
For seven long years, Obama has stoked the climate change agenda. It is embedded in his one-size-fits-all K-12 Common Core curriculum, aided and abetted by his radical green rich friends including a group of 28 billionaire investors led by Bill Gates, all committed to creating a public-private investment initiative on joint clean energy research and development. Commingling public and private money gives unfair economic advantages to the rich at taxpayers’ expense.
Money from Gates, et al., flows to radical green groups that create divisiveness among Americans. In Paris, for example, representatives from Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian and Pacific Islander organizations under the banner “It Takes Roots to Weather the Storm” spoke out against fracking wells, coal power plants, and oil refineries. Considering the high costs for travel, hotels and food in Paris, it was a substantial expense for their benefactors.
Silencing the Opposition
These rabble-rousers create animus toward climate realists who believe that climate science is inconclusive, calling them “climate deniers.” And universities seeking government research grants are forced to either fall in line with the inconclusive science and fear tactics of the radical green movement — or lose their jobs.
Secretary of State John Kerry told delegates in Paris that those who question the unscientific “consensus of 97% of all scientists who embrace man-made climate change” and their predictions of catastrophic consequences, also “believe the earth is flat and that there is no gravity.” Kerry added that current climate conditions are “far worse” than ever predicted by scientists 20 years ago, with 500-year storms happening every 25 years “or even sooner.” None of his statements can be validated; he just makes them up.
What Difference Does It Make?
Hypocritically, Kerry admitted, “The fact is that even if every American citizen biked to work, carpooled to school, used only solar panels to power their homes, if we each planted a dozen trees, if we somehow eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions, guess what — that still wouldn’t be enough to offset the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. If all the industrial nations went down to zero emissions — remember what I just said, all the industrial emissions went down to zero emissions — it wouldn’t be enough, not when more than 65% of the world’s carbon pollution comes from the developing world.”
Follow the Money
This Obama-Kerry agenda fits snugly into the stated goal of the UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, which is to fundamentally transform the world economy by convincing the world that man-made climate change is caused by greenhouse gasses emitted when fossil fuels are burned. This is why poor nations are demanding that rich nations pay them for damages caused by climate change. The entire purpose of the UNFCCC meetings is to transfer money and technologies from rich nations to poor nations. The ruse has nothing to do with climate, but everything to do with redistributing wealth from rich to poor nations.
Kerry bragged in Paris that the U.S. would double to $800 million per year by 2020 the grant-based public climate finance for poor nations as part of the $100 billion annual commitment to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Congress’ attempt to block another $3 billion he’s promised to the GCF will likely be vetoed. Another $248 million he has directed to least developed countries (LDCs). And he pledged another $30 million to support insurance initiatives under the Pacific Catastrophic Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative, expand the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility to cover Central American countries, and to support the African Risk Capacity program. Plus he has promised to share American technologies with vulnerable nations because as Kerry said, “Our aim can be nothing less than a steady transformation of a global economy.”
The private sector is being asked to pay for their “carbon footprints” by financing climate projects. Internationally, private sector finance for climate projects before the Paris meeting was about $650 billion a year. Citigroup recently announced a commitment of over $100 billion a year for the next decade, doubling the amount that they had originally set as their target in 2007. The Bank of America recently committed $125 billion over the next decade, tripling the target that they set only a few years ago. Goldman Sachs committed $100 billion over the next decade as well.
Courageous Senators Push Back
U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, Chairman of the Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on December 8 held a hearing on “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” In his opening statement Sen. Cruz said, “According to the satellite data, there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years. Those are the data. The global warming alarmists don’t like these data — they are inconvenient to their narrative. But facts and evidence matter.”
Foreign Relations subcommittee Chairman Senator John Barrasso, M.D. also released a new report called: “Senate Outlook on United States International Strategy on Climate Change in Paris 2015: A New Report on President Obama’s Plan to Bypass Congress and Transfer American Taxpayer Funds Overseas.”
Barrasso concluded that, “The American public doesn’t want these policies. Congress has passed laws to change these policies. The Obama administration just goes on and on and makes its rules that it wants anyway.
“As their elected representatives, Congress must not allow the president to continue to try to buy popularity for himself using Americans’ tax dollars.Congress must not allow the president to use this meeting in Paris to advance his own legacy at the expense of the American people and the American economy.”
Let’s Find Our Voices
Just before the Paris meeting concluded, the UN invited Grammy award-winning artist Sean Paul to sing, “Love Song to the Earth,” to supposedly inspire real action on climate change. In response, climate realists must find their voices in this battle for national sovereignty and our standard of living. A good place to start is to choose to love either the creation or its Creator and be good stewards of the earth.
---------------- Cathie Adams is President, Texas Eagle Forum and Eagle Forum UN Issues Chairman. Tags:Cathie Adams, Eagle Forum, President Obama, Taxpayer Dollars, buying popularity, UN Meeting, Paris, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, Climate Change, UN TreatyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Newt Gingrich: Americans believe that more than half of all federal spending is waste, according to Gallup – 51 cents out of every dollar to be specific. This is one of those points on which so-called experts can marshal all kinds of figures to show that ordinary Americans are wildly off-base–and the experts will be stupider for it.
Americans have the good sense to recognize that bureaucracies–big, dead weights of incompetence which get more money the more things they propose to control–will almost inevitably spend most of their time and most of our money on activities that are either useless or flat-out harmful. In many cases, we’d be better off not if the programs just operated more efficiently, but if they didn’t exist at all.
For the past five years, Senator Tom Coburn did a great service to taxpayers by publishing his annual Wastebook, a catalog of many of the most outrageous examples of government waste. When he retired at the end of last year, it seemed impossible to replace his vigilant and humorous defense of taxpayers’ money.
Thankfully, the task has been taken up by Senator Jeff Flake, who has published the 2015 edition of the Wastebook, 290 pages detailing extravagantly dumb government spending. The 100 examples in this year’s collection would be hilarious if they weren’t so outrageous, and if the savings of ordinary Americans weren’t the funds being wasted.
Examples in this year’s wastebook include:
$2.1 million from USAID to promote “rural tourism” in Lebanon, a country that the State Department currently warns Americans not to travel to for any reason, nonetheless for vacation. The State Department advisory cites terrorism (including ISIS fighters) as one major concern. Needless to say, this is not a place where taxpayers should be promoting jaunts through the countryside featuring “rock climbing” and “eco-tourism”.
$5 million spent by the National Institutes of Health on parties at “bars and nightclubs” devoted to convincing hipsters not to smoke cigarettes. Hipsters, like everyone else in the world, already know that smoking is bad for your health, the program’s inventors acknowledge, so instead the anti-smoking campaign is framed as a stand for “self-expression and social justice.” That, and they give the hipsters cash to show up.
$104 million spent by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s low income housing program to support families who were not, in fact, low-income. The HUD Inspector General, quoted in Senator Flake’s Wastebook, found that “HUD will pay $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units occupied by over-income families that otherwise could have been used to house low-income families.” In hundreds of cases, the households receiving public assistance exceeded the required income level by $50,000 or more.
$43 million spent by the Department of Defense to build a compressed natural gas station in Afghanistan, a project that should have cost roughly $500,000. Or more accurately, it should never have been built at all, since few cars in Afghanistan run on CNG and there is no infrastructure for distributing it. The Pentagon says it simply has no idea where the other $42 million went. The Department has literally no defense.
These are just a few of the dozens of items included in this year’s Wastebook, which themselves add up to only a tiny fraction of the waste that occurs in the federal government. Each of these examples should be a scandal in its own right. And yet not one of them makes a dent in the public debate, not even a gas station that costs 80 times what it should
Read Senator Flake’s Wastebook and ask yourself: if our federal bureaucracy is so sick it can produce all of these examples and more in a single year, isn’t it time to get serious about fixing it?
---------------------- 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. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions. Tags:Newt Gingrich, Government, out of Control, dumb government spending, Wastebook, Jeff Flake, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Carson To GOP: Mess With Trump And I'll Leave the Party
by Maegan Vazquez: Following a meeting to discuss a possible brokered Republican convention, GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson is threatening to leave the party and pursue his own independent run.
Carson’s threat comes after the meeting of GOP establishment elite to discuss the possibility of a brokered convention amid Donald Trump’s continued popularity. He said in a statement:“If this was the beginning of a plan to subvert the will of the voters and replace it with the will of the political elite, I assure you Donald Trump will not be the only one leaving the party.”Despite a pledge to remain on the Republican ballot, Trump has continued to toy with the idea of an independent run himself.
A new poll indicates that 68% of my supporters would vote for me if I departed the GOP & ran as an independent. https://t.co/ztP5d2ctZl
Carson say he prays the Post report is incorrect, adding:“I am prepared to lose fair and square, as I am sure is Donald. But I will not sit by and watch a theft. I intend on being the nominee. If I am not, the winner will have my support.”Carson’s comments come just days after he told CNN that a third-party run from Trump “would not be necessary … if the people chose him.”
Maegan Vazquez is a political reporter for Independent Journal, covering the Cruz, Perry, Graham, and Carson presidential campaigns. Tags:2016 Election, republican, presidential candidates, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, brokered convention, Maegan VazquezTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Washington, D.C.: After months of secret negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the education reauthorization to replace the failed No Child Left Behind, President Obama has signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), favored by the education bureaucracy but opposed by many conservatives. President Obama’s quick and willful signature on this education overhaul should only increase skepticism that this bill will meaningfully reduce federal meddling in education.
Conservative goals for education policy are simple: reduce the role of the federal government, respect the primary role of parents, and protect the privacy of students. ESSA falls short on every one of these issues.
ESSA cuts a few programs but retains many more and even adds a few, such as a pre-K grant now authorized for the first time. Spending levels will increase over the life of this act, and in spite of the outrage from millions of parents, the onerous NCLB testing mandates remain. Washington bureaucrats will still have plenty to do.
Despite popular rhetoric from supporters, this bill does not eliminate Common Core. While it contains more explicit prohibitions on the Secretary of Education, federal law already contained numerous provisions limiting the Secretary and the Department that have been repeatedly defied without consequence. The damage has already been done, and unless states take action, those that have Common Core today will still have it tomorrow.
Phyllis Schlafly and Eagle Forum have fought the progressive education agenda through its every iteration for over 40 years. Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act is an incentive to work even harder for our education agenda. Concerned parents and education activists still have ways to fulfill conservative goals: Urge states to end their involvement in Common Core. Push Congress to pass laws protecting student privacy and parental rights. Elect a president truly committed to ending the over sized federal role in education. Tags:Eagle Forum, statement, ESEA, Every Student Succeeds Act, Reauthorization, NCLB testing mandates, Common CoreTo 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, legacies, leaving his mark, growth, food stamps, racial division, gun salesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Arnold Ahlert : There is little doubt this presidential campaign season is unique, at least in one respect: for the first time in a long time, the despicable nature of the mainstream media's double-standard is as much in focus as the candidates themselves. And perhaps nothing screams double-standard more than the calculated lack of attention on Hillary Clinton’s latest assertion that she never told the families grieving over the loss of their loved ones in Benghazi that an anti-Muslim video was to blame for the attacks.
We begin with where that assertion was made. Clinton floated this latest insult to those families and the American public within the friendly confines of ABC News’ This Week, hosted by pseudo-journalist and former Clinton toady George Stephanopoulos. The would be the same George Stephanopoulos that still passes muster in the corporate suites at ABC, despite having made three separate donations of $25,000 apiece to the Clinton Foundation in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. Those donations remained under the radar, even when Stephanopoulos engaged in a contentious interview with “Clinton Cash” author Peter Schweizer, during which he rose to the Clinton’s defense. After being outed, Stephanopoulos apologized for the oversight, insisting he thought his contributions were "a matter of public record.” “However, in hindsight, I should have taken the extra step of personally disclosing my donations to my employer and to the viewers on air during the recent news stories about the Foundation,” Stephanopoulos confessed.
ABC couldn’t have cared less. "As George has said, he made charitable donations to the Foundation to support a cause he cares about deeply and believed his contributions were a matter of public record," the network's statement read. "He should have taken the extra step to notify us and our viewers during the recent news reports about the Foundation. He’s admitted to an honest mistake and apologized for that omission. We stand behind him."
To his credit, Stephanopoulos did ask Clinton if she told the families the attack was about the video. She said no, just before “clarifying” what really happened. "You know, look I understand the continuing grief at the loss that parents experienced with the loss of these four brave Americans,” she said. "And I did testify, as you know, for 11 hours. And I answered all of these questions. Now, I can’t — I can’t help it the people think there has to be something else there. I said very clearly there had been a terrorist group, uh, that had taken responsibility on Facebook, um, between the time that, uh, I – you know, when I talked to my daughter, that was the latest information; we were, uh, giving it credibility. And then we learned the next day it wasn’t true. In fact, they retracted it. This was a fast-moving series of events in the fog of war and I think most Americans understand that.”
The implications here are astounding. Clinton expects the American public to believe that several family members of the victims all “misremembered” what Clinton said in virtually the same way. People like Navy SEAL Glen Doherty’s sister Kate Quigly. “She knows that she knew what happened that day and she wasn’t truthful,” Quigly said said on Boston Herald Radio’s Morning Meeting. “This is a woman that will do and say anything to get what she wants. I have very little respect for her. I know what she said to me and she can say all day long that she didn’t say it. That’s her cross to bear.”
Quigly’s assertion was corroborated by Tyrone Woods’ father Charles Woods. "I gave Hillary a hug and shook her hand. And she said we are going to have the film maker arrested who was responsible for the death of my son...'She said -- the filmmaker who was responsible for the death of your son'…" Sean Smith's mother, Patricia Smith, agreed. "She's absolutely lying. She told me something entirely different at the casket ceremony. She said it was because of the video.” Sean Smith's uncle Michael Ingmire, who had previously slammed Hillary as "a serial liar,” following her Benghazi testimony, remained resolute following her latest effort. "Mrs. Clinton really has a problem embracing the truth.”
So are all of them lying? Stephanopoulos never bother to follow up. Yet if they are, how does Clinton explain the State Department release made on the night of the attack, following a phone call Clinton made to President Obama? One the White House initially denied took place before the truth came out? After that call this is what was released. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”
That assertion was hardly an anomaly. During a Sept 12, 2012 State Department briefing, Clinton also blamed the attack on an “inflammatory video,” and did it again on Sept 13, during a meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad-Eddine Al-Othmani. She and Obama also spent $70,000 on a public service video broadcast in Pakistan, condemning the “anti-Islam” film that precipitated the attack. On Sept. 14 Clinton appeared at Joint Base Andrews during the ceremonial return of Smith, Doherty, Woods and Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. She spoke with Charles Woods privately before asserting the following for public consumption: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with,” she declared.
Couple these assertions with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s equally odious TV tour aimed at keeping this despicable disinformation campaign in high gear, and the notion that the victims’ families got Clinton’s message wrong is an insult to any sentient American. Or, as the New York Post so aptly put it, Clinton’s efforts to promote this lie and comfort the grieving families with it "has to count as her lowest-down, dirtiest lie of all.”
Maybe, maybe not. As we also learned this week, assets that could have been sent to Benghazi were available while the attack was ongoing. An email sent by Jeremy Bash, the former Pentagon chief of staff, to Clinton’s then-deputy chief of staff Jacob Sullivan, Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides stated the following:
"State colleagues: I just tried you on the phone but you were all in with S [apparent reference to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton]. After consulting with General Dempsey, General Ham and the Joint Staff, we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak. They include a [REDACTED]. Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to procure the approval from host nation. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us [REDACTED]. Jeremy.”
Can we believe Clinton was unaware of this email, one sent to four of her staffers during the attack? Doesn’t it behoove the same media that have plumbed the depths of every GOP presidential candidate, to be equally curious about a potential game-changing revelation, one that implies leaving Americans in harm’s way was a political calculation, not a military choice? If Clinton was in the loop, doesn’t the assertion, “what difference at this point does it make" she made at the 2013 Benghazi hearing assume truly monstrous proportions? And isn’t it about time Americans asked themselves how a woman who could run a personal contest for "lowest-down, dirtiest lie of all” remains a viable Democratic candidate for president of there United States?
---------------- Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He shared this article on FrontPage Mag a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Tags:Arnold Ahlert, Benghazi, Clinton, Hillary, terror attack, Terrorism, FrontPage Mag, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Today, the House is expected to vote today to agree with the Senate conference Report on the following bills:
H.R. 644 - "To reauthorize trade facilitation and trade enforcement functions and activities, and for other purposes. H.R. 2250 - "Making appropriations for the Legislative Branch for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, and for other purposes."
When the House recesses this afternoon, their next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement thanking 32 House Republicans who signed onto a letter by Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) urging House leaders to include a rider in the omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2016 that would prohibit the use of funds to award monies from legal settlements to third party activist groups:"Americans for Limited Government thanks the 32 House members who signed the Marino-Duffy letter against the use of legal settlement monies for third party activist groups. These slush funds are inexcusable. In the past 16 months alone the Department of Justice has awarded a half-a-billion dollars to third party activist groups, but thanks to the efforts of these House members now, it may be stopped in the omnibus.
"The $17 billion Bank of America settlement is a perfect example of the misuse of settlements as Bank of America was required to give millions of dollars to third party activist groups. Legal proceedings by the government must never be used as shakedowns to enrich the coffers of any political cause, regardless of ideology."The Senate is not in session today and will reconvene on Monday at 3 PM. At 5:30 PM on Monday the Senate will vote on four Department of Defense nominations.
More news reports on Affordable Care Act:
The AP, reports, “The lone health insurance cooperative to make money last year on the Affordable Care Act's public insurance exchanges is now losing millions and suspending individual enrollment for 2016.
“Maine's Community Health Options lost more than $17 million in the first nine months of this year, after making $10.9 million in the same period last year. A spokesman said higher-than-expected medical costs have hurt the cooperative.”
According to Maine Public Broadcasting, “Community Health Options says the freeze on new members is to ensure its future viability, but it comes at a time when co-ops across the country have shuttered.
“There are two factors that led to Community Health Options' decision to suspend enrollment in the online Marketplace about a month ahead of the Jan. 31 deadline. One, lots of new members, says CEO Kevin Lewis, and two, a marked increase in claims costs. ‘Really has led us to say, “OK, we're going to put our finger on the pause button, curtail additional enrollment for 2016, and then we'll see where we're at later in the year and then possibly reopen at that time,”’ he says. . . . The co-op has kept premiums in check, but as claims costs have risen, so has a deficit of about $18 million. .
“The viability of health insurance co-ops in general has been called into question in recent months, as 12 of 23 have failed. Co-ops were formed under the Affordable Care Act as nonprofit alternatives to private insurance companies.
“But this January, just one year after they first offered plans, rating agency A.M. Best found that 22 out of 23 had net financial losses. The only co-op that was doing well? Community Health Options.”
The AP, adds, “An Associated Press review of financial statements from 10 of the 11 surviving co-ops shows that they lost, on average, more than $21 million in the first nine months of this year. Those losses range from $3.9 million reported by Maryland's Evergreen Health Cooperative to $50.7 million booked by Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co. in Illinois.
“‘Clearly the remaining health care co-ops are in dire circumstances,’ said Robert Laszewski, a health care consultant and former insurance executive who has been a frequent critic of the Affordable Care Act. ‘I don't know how any of them can survive another year.’ . .
“The cooperatives, like other health insurers, have been hit by soaring medical and prescription drug costs. Plus they've had to spend money building a network of care providers, negotiating rates with them and then marketing their plans to customers. They have also received considerably less financial support than they expected from a federal government program designed to support insurers as the exchanges got under way. . . .
“Established players also have struggled to sell coverage on the ACA's state-based health insurance exchanges, which are a key element behind the law's push to cover millions of uninsured people. UnitedHealth Group Inc. recently reported deep losses from its exchange business and said it would decide next year whether to even remain in the exchanges in 2017. . . .
“Maine's Community Health Options booked about $217 million in medical costs through the first nine months of this year, as its enrollment approached 71,000 people. Its costs so far this year are 72 percent higher than what the insurer recorded all of last year
“Spokesman Michael Gendreau said the company decided to freeze individual enrollment for 2016 in order to ensure ‘that we are able to provide the same level of care and service that we provided last year.’ He said the cooperative was not in danger of closing.”
That sounds a little like what happened in Utah during the fall. Back in October, The Salt Lake Tribune, reported “Utah's co-op, Arches, is the second-largest insurer on the state exchange, behind SelectHealth. . . . While Arches is not ‘out of the woods,’ President Nathan Johns said Thursday, the company will continue to offer a range of plans to individuals and families on and off the federal exchange.” Barely a week later, The Tribune was reporting, “Arches Health Plan, a membership cooperative that was born out of the Affordable Care Act and insures 66,000 Utahns, has been ordered out of the insurance market for 2016. . . . The Utah Insurance Department put Arches in receivership Tuesday afternoon . . . .” Tags:Affordable Care Act, insurance co-op losing millionsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Sessions' Opposition To Global ‘Right To Migrate’ Amendment
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
WASHINGTON —U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, gave the following remarks today in opposition to Senator Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) right-to-migrate amendment, which was adopted by a vote of 16-4:
“With regards to immigration, it is the job of Congress to defend the rights and well-being of American citizens. That means we must look at how immigration is impacting Americans in their wages, in their salaries, in their national security.
It was five months ago that Kate Steinle died in her father's arms on a pier in San Francisco because a repeatedly deported criminal alien was set free. What about the American workers at Disney forced to train their guest worker replacements? They claim they were discriminated against because they were Americans. Where is the bill for them?
We have these fights over and over but we never seem to advance a bill or proposal that actually results in more protections for American citizens.
So that is the context today in which we consider this unprecedented effort to extend American's constitutional rights and protections to foreign citizens living in foreign countries.
The adoption of the Leahy Amendment would constitute a transformation of our immigration system. In effect, it is a move toward the ratification of the idea that global migration is a ‘human right,’ and a civil right, and that these so-called ‘immigrants’ rights’ must be supreme to the rights of sovereign nations to determine who can and cannot enter their borders.
Fundamentally, foreign nationals living in foreign countries have no constitutional right to enter the United States. If they did, any alien denied entry could file suit to demand entry and claim damages for lost employment, lost welfare benefits, lost income.
Our immigration system derives exclusively from Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution, which vests the exclusive power in the Congress to establish a uniform system of immigration. Through acts of Congress, the United States can – and does – exclude aliens from entry into the United States for any reason provided by Congress.
The rules governing the selection of immigrants are, by definition, opposite the rules governing the treatment of citizens living or naturalized in the United States. There are 7 billion people in the world. Choosing who can immigrate into the United States is, by definition, an exclusionary process. The goal is to select immigrants for admission based on the benefits they provide to society based on skills, ages, values, philosophy, incomes, etc. Our goal is to choose for admission those likeliest to succeed and flourish and, crucially, to support our Constitutional system of government and our values of pluralism and Republican governance.
So whereas we consider it improper to deny employment to a U.S. citizen based on, say, their age, we consider it necessary and important to consider immigrants according to their age and whether they will be able to contribute productive years of work to American society.
As stated by the United States Supreme Court, ‘Whatever the procedure authorized by Congress is, it is due process as far as an alien denied entry is concerned.’
What this amendment would do would be to turn this fundamental principle on its head, and to apply some of our core domestic legal and constitutional protections to foreign nationals with no tie to the United States. The natural extension of this concept would fundamentally undermine entire provisions of immigration law, and the results quickly become radical.
In the United States, we have protections against discrimination by religion, age, disability, country of origin, etc. We have freedom of association. Rights of due process.
Now imagine extending these as part of our immigration system. The logical extension of this concept results in a legal regime in which the United States cannot deny an alien admission to the United States based upon age, health, skill, family criminal history, country of origin, and so forth. If an elderly alien needing 24-hour medical care applied for entry and was denied, under this scheme of immigrant rights, they could file a lawsuit, demand entry and taxpayer funding.
But let's consider the question of religion more carefully. If we say it is improper to consider religion, then that means it is improper for a consular official to even ask about a candidate's religious beliefs when trying to screen an applicant for entry.
It would mean that even asking questions of a fiancé seeking a visa about his or her views on any religious matter – say on the idea of pluralism vs. religious supremacy – would be improper, because if it is improper to favor or disfavor a religion, it is improper to favor or disfavor any interpretation of a religion. Even if it is a perversion of a religion, it is still a religion to that person.
Are we really prepared to disallow, in the consideration of tens of millions of applications for entry to the United States, any questions about religious views and attitudes?
This amendment would mean, for instance, that the United States could not favor for entry the moderate Muslim cleric over the radical Muslim cleric. We have huge unrest in the Middle East. An argument has been made by some that we should prioritize resettling Muslim immigrants in the region and prioritizing the entry of persecuted Christians; this measure would forbid such considerations. Keep in mind, current refugee law requires us to consider persecution on account of an individual’s religion; this would ask us to discard, or undermine, that longstanding practice.
A U.S.-born citizen who subscribes to theocratic Islam has a freedom of speech that allows him to give a sermon denouncing the U.S. constitution or demanding it be changed. But, under this amendment, a foreign religious leader living overseas could demand a tourist visa to deliver that same sermon and claim religious discrimination if it is not approved. I think it is a dangerous step.
The next step, of course, if we say religion cannot be considered in any way is to say we cannot consider history, or geography, or culture.
We need to make a holistic decision about applicants.
We cannot labor under the illusion that these are simple binary decisions. It is not as though every applicant is either clearly tied to terrorists on the one hand, or is absolutely safe on the other. Many people are radicalized after they enter. How do we screen for that possibility, if we cannot even ask about an applicant's views on religion? Would we forbid questions about politics? Or theology?
Furthermore, some of the same supporters of this very Amendment supported the ‘Lautenberg Amendment’ that gave special preferences for admission under our refugee program to Jews, Evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Baha’is, and religious minorities – all to the exclusion of others. The import of this is that hundreds of thousands of individuals have been admitted to the United States based exclusively on their religion.
The rights that have been neglected by this Congress are the rights of the American people. The rhetoric today would have you believe we have been operating some kind of closed-door immigration policy. The opposite is true. No nation on earth has ever let in more people over a shorter period of time. We have admitted 59 million immigrants since 1965. We have admitted 1.5 million immigrants from Muslim countries since 9/11. We have the largest foreign-born population in our history as a raw number, and soon the largest percentage of non-native-born in the history of the Republic. As a share of population, it will soon eclipse every historical record. Meanwhile, large companies are exploiting programs to replace American workers and undermine their wages. Poor screening has resulted in thousands of crimes against Americans. Our entitlement programs are stretched. Wages have been flattened for decades. Every year, we admit another 1 million permanent immigrants, nearly 100,000 refugees and asylees, and 700,000 foreign guest workers.
Though it appears that day will not be today, perhaps we should have a conversation soon about how to help the tens of millions of Americans who are only just barely scraping by.”
“Senator Leahy presents us a bold, dramatic Sense of the Senate resolution that strikes at our hearts and pulls at our values because we favor free exercise of religion. A serious discussion, colleagues, I believe, is needed before we take this step. Certainly, the point is pressed as a result of political statements, and I have tried to avoid commenting on those statements because I don’t know how to firmly answer it. I don’t know what the right response is, frankly. We need to be careful how we think about this. Certainly Jefferson and Madison spent years of contemplation and work on their founding of America’s philosophies.
We celebrate America’s commitment to the free exercise of religion.
The question of religion and the violence religious disagreements engendered in Europe prior to our founding were well known to the Founding Fathers. Jefferson and Madison had the answer they felt in the Virginia Statutes of Religious Freedom. Gary Wills writes insightfully about it in his book, ‘Head and Heart’. We do not allow a religious test for holding office, we allow the free exercise of religion, and we ban the establishment of a State-sponsored church. It’s in the Constitution explicitly.
Encompassed in the right of free exercise of religion is the duty to permit others to exercise their own religion, freely, and not in some diminished state. But, as with all rights, none can be absolute. I remember Federal Judge Virgil Pittman in Mobile agreeing to hear the petition of a prisoner who declared he was a Bishop in the Church of the New Song and that its doctrines called for steak and wine every Friday night and he demanded the federal prison provide it. After hearing his case, the Judge found his demands were not justified. Nor can a person declare their religion allows the use of illegal drugs. Nor use violence to enforce its doctrines, nor physically abuse women, nor marry underage children – no matter how deeply held those views may be.
But, that’s not the question here.
It is well settled that applicants don’t have the constitutional right or civil right to demand entry to the United States. In fact, the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] has this provision: ‘whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interest of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he deems appropriate.’ I assume similar provisions abound in most countries the world over. We accept those who we believe will advance the nation’s interests. That’s what secular states do – and we are a secular government.
As leaders, we are to seek the advancement of the Public Interest. While billions of immigrants may benefit by moving to this country, this nation state has only one responsibility. We must decide if such an admission complies with our law and serves our national interest.
Now, religion is highly respected in America. Jefferson and Madison believed one’s relationship to God was a matter between the believer and God. It was not a matter to be dictated by the state. Jefferson’s words, chiseled in his monument, reflect this unique American view: ‘I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.’
So, we must respect our brothers and sisters across this globe who have different views about God, faith, and religion, even as we may disagree. In America, we even value free discussion as a method of reaching higher truth – even changing our minds or another’s mind in the course. Wills says – as I remember, Washington, and others at the time, used the phrase ‘toleration’ of other religious views. But, he says, Jefferson and Madison went further, giving more respect to dissenting views than mere toleration.
Based on Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution, we can say with confidence that the establishment of an immigration policy has been given to the Congress. Congress has not given rights to foreigners to go to court to demand entry into the United States. Neither does the Constitution. That is plain fact.
Senator Leahy’s resolution doesn’t explicitly assert that his demands are required by the law or the Constitution, but on America’s founding principles. He insists we must all agree that it is ‘un-American’ to deny entry into America on account of one’s religion. Un-American is a strong word. Liberals have never liked it used against their world visions. The Communists certainly didn’t like it used. To affirm such a resolution would mean that religion can never be taken into account to determine admissibility – throughout all the ages this great Republic might exist.
I think we must apply a prudent cast of mind to our analysis. If there are circumstances we can foresee that would cause open-minded, logical, fair persons acting in the national interest to decide to act contrary to this resolution, and to be morally and legally justified in so doing, then it must not pass. We have conducted no analysis of this prospect. Unless we are sure, we cannot pass such a broad resolution.
Most religions focus on one’s relationship with God. But, many religions are much broader, covering all aspects of life – including government, public policy, and law. Religions today too often are underappreciated for the good they do. In marriage, in divorce, in birth, in death, in sickness, in health, in poverty, and in wealth, religious faith, in millions, in billions of daily actions, is a force for good. Reality would be denied, however, if we do not recognize that dangerous and damaging religions and sects have arisen. At least at some points in history, most religions, or segments of them, have sought to overcome human laws and rules and impose doctrinal ideas that are contrary to good common sense and good policy, even seek to destroy established governments because they perceive that God has ordered them to do so. We may say this is not religion. But, the adherents would say it is religion indeed. They say they are adhering to their text, their leader, or their revelation. Didn’t the people of Jonestown believe theirs was a religion, even as they took their own lives? Don’t suicide bombers think they are religiously faithful? There are countless other examples that need not be listed.
What if a strong and growing religion believes that their leader directly talks to God, believes that existing world governments are satanic and corrupt and must be violently overthrown? They insist that the divine solution is a theocracy where God alone rules and rules justly, and now the time has come to move to challenge America to carry out their evangelization?
Secretary Carter says ISIS is growing. What if it expands ever more rapidly and decides to focus its believers on a long-term effort to change the corrupt America? And their doctrines justify force, do they not? Can we say that ISIS’s form of religion is not a religion just because it is not consistent with classical Islam? Why could they not demand as strong a right to enter as a peaceful meditating Buddhist? Is it in the national interest to admit the ISIS member equally with the Buddhist? Is it wrong to say that immigration must serve the legitimate interests of America and that others are more likely than those committed to violent ideologies? After all, we can’t admit everybody.
Is it better to admit those who admire America, affirm its constitutional order, than those who would be unhappy and unfulfilled until their vision for the country more closely parallels their religious vision – a government faithful to their theology? A theocracy?
Again, sometimes religions believe that their goals go beyond personal salvation. They believe they are commanded to control the government and their doctrines must dominate over other religions, denying them freedom. Such religious people would have an unhappy time in the United States.
Maybe Senator Leahy’s resolution is correct. Maybe the common sense interests of our nation must fall to this rather extreme vision. But, I do not think so. This is a dangerous injunction, colleagues. It goes beyond being unwise. It is reckless. It is absolute and without qualification. It could have pernicious impacts for decades, even centuries to come. It may be even a step from the concept of the nation-state to the idea of ‘global citizenship.’
Such understandings have never been part of our immigration law. The resolution lacks limits. Let’s not act quickly, let’s think this through. In a time of intense political debate, we do not need to be reacting to make political points. Let’s think deeply about what this means and what the ramifications of it might be. I urge a no vote on the Leahy resolution.” Tags:Jeff Sessions, R-AL, Opposition, Global Right to Migrate, amendment, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
How Far Can The Syria Conflict Spiral Out Of Control: Interview With Robert Bensh, Pelicourt LLC
by James Stafford, Contributing Author : Business is business, so why not buy oil from ISIS. The Russians claim the Turks are doing it, and in all likelihood even Assad is buying it. No one can fight a war without oil, according to Robert Bensh, partner and managing director of Pelicourt LLC oil and gas company. But while the politically unhinged are coming out the woodwork, the more important aspects of this story remain elusive to the public. Is the dangerously unspoken theory that ISIS is a bulwark against Iran what's keeping the West from tackling the Islamic State wholeheartedly on its territory? With no nation that can control it, the threat is now out of control and a war of ambiguous targets is emerging.
In my exclusive interview with Oilprice.com, Bensh discusses:• How far the Russia-Turkey spat can go economically
• The fallout effects for countries caught in between
• What Russia wants
• What Turkey wants
• What other geopolitical purposes ISIS serves
• Why ISIS can't be controlled
• How Shi'ite radical groups differ
• Why we're looking at a possible remapping of a significant part of the energy arena
• Why we shouldn't listen to billionaire buffoonsJames Stafford: Just over a week after Turkey's downing of a Russian jet targeting ISIS oil facilities in northern Syria and Moscow's imposition of ‘special economic measures' against Turkey, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Ankara that this “cowardly military crime” won't be taken lightly with just a ban on imports of “tomatoes or some restrictions in the construction and other industries.” Putin also reverted to Allah, noting that ‘perhaps, Allah decided to punish the ruling clique of Turkey by depriving it of its mind and reason.” How much farther can this spat go from a geo-economic standpoint?
Robert Bensh: Russia and Turkey have a great deal of economic interdependence, and nowhere more than in the energy sector. There has been no talk of cutting Russian gas to Turkey, and I don't see how Russia can afford this right now. Turkey is not only a significant customer for Russia, but it's also a key gas-transit point.
James Stafford: So what does Turkey want?
Robert Bensh: The better question is: “What does Erdogan want?” You know, Putin's probably not too far off in his statement referring to Erdogan's loss of “mind and reason”. Erdogan has been going down this path little by little for some time and it's no secret that he has some megalomaniacal tendencies that grow more and more out of control every year. It would seem that he has dreams of a return of the Ottoman Empire—and that ISIS could be a logical ally to that end. Of course, ISIS is not likely looking to be beholden to another Ottoman Empire controlling a greater Sunni-Arab dominion. Many, many Turks fail to share this dream with their leader, and his ambitions will also be his eventual downfall unfortunately.
For the Turkish regime, there is also the idea that ISIS will ostensibly give them more power against the rise of the Kurds, both in southeastern Turkey and in northern Syria. It will even raise the Turks' status in the face of the Saudis whose oil wealth has make them more powerful than the Turks in many ways.
James Stafford: Ok, so what does Russia want?
Robert Bensh: The Russian stance on Syria has been less ambiguous: support Assad and strike ISIS. For Russia, there are a couple of ‘domestic' angles to this as well. One—they have a radical Islamic problem always on the point of revival in the North Caucasus. The more ISIS is emboldened and empowered, the higher the threat to Russia from within its own borders. Two—the Levant Basin oil and gas prospects. Israel has already made geopolitically game-changing gas discoveries in its part of this basin. Lebanon—if it ever passes the necessary legislation—will also start exploring its part of this prolific basin. Syria has a part in this too, and the Russians already have the right to explore under Assad. They certainly won't have it under an ISIS-created Sunni caliphate.
James Stafford: Russia claims to have evidence that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS. How much merit do you think there is to this claim?
Robert Bensh: I am not privy to this evidence, but I can tell you this. It certainly has merit in theory. In all likelihood ISIS is even selling oil to the Assad regime that it is fighting against in Syria. Assad needs oil; ISIS needs money. Business is business, even in war and even with your enemies.
James Stafford: What we want to know is why is the West holding back against ISIS? We hear conflicting reports about the targets of air strikes and we can't get a clear picture.
Robert Bensh: Listen, this is all about Iran at the end of the day, and continually about the Sunni-Shi'ite balance of power. While the West shuffles back and forth uncertain whether to destroy Assad or to destroy the ISIS monster that they helped to create to destroy Assad, and which also in large part arose out of the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq that overthrew Saddam Hussein and radically upset the Sunni-Shi'ite balance of power.
James Stafford: Can Western countries, or NATO, effectively defeat ISIS?
Robert Bensh: I suppose the more answerable question is whether the West is willing to truly fight ISIS—at least on ISIS' territory.
James Stafford: Let me interrupt you here … That's where many of our readers get lost in this chaos. Why does there seem to be no concerted military move against ISIS by Western nations, aside from the on-and-off airstrikes, the targets of which there is also a great deal of ambiguity?
Robert Bensh: First, let me just stress that I am not a military man, nor am I a politician or a diplomat. I'm a businessman; and businessmen look at things a bit differently because they need to be able to see where things are going and what that means for investments. What I see right now is a great deal of uncertainty as to who the real ‘enemy' is—or, rather, who the worse enemy is.
There appears to have been for some time an overriding and unspoken conviction that ISIS was a convenient bulwark against an increase in Iranian power, in Shi'ite power. Either propping up ISIS or only half-heartedly pushing it back is a way to keep Iran subdued. This is a mistake that the West has made time again and refuses to learn from. When that bulwark comes back to launch terrorist attacks in your country—well, then it's too late to rethink strategy effectively.
But here's the part that I think everyone misses in this cynical way of looking at geopolitics and alliances that are forged along the lines of “my enemy's enemy is my friend”: Iran can control its Shi'ite radicals. No one can control the Sunni insurgents.
James Stafford: Why is that?
Robert Bensh: That's easy—and this is where the historical lesson is continually ignored. The Sunni radical groups have been used over and over as a means of destabilizing regimes or the like, and then the modus operandi has always been to cut them loose. So they are armed, organized in a rather haphazard manner and on their own.
James Stafford: From a geopolitical standpoint, can you give us any prognosis for how the ISIS threat or the Russia-Turkey spat could extend with new alliances or other upsets to the balance of power?
Robert Bensh: We are now seeing a clearer re-mapping of geopolitical relationships. And more specifically, geopolitical agendas—some shrouded for some time; others simply incoherent—will surface in the light of day.
James Stafford: Well, we know that Russia-U.S. relations remain deadlocked over Assad and Ukraine, and we know that Russian-Turkish relations are at a dangerous tipping point—but are there some less obvious re-alignments?
Robert Bensh: Ok, let's take Kazakhstan for instance—a country that is enormously important in the energy equation. Kazakhstan is a geopolitically complicated arena right now. On one hand, it belongs to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and boasts Russia as its largest trading partner. But Turkey is also a fairly significant trading partner for Kazakhstan and Turkish companies play a major role in Kazakhstan. These are highly strategic relationships, and one could argue that Turkey is the more strategically important for Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan's response to Turkey's downing of the Russian plane illustrates the difficult position in which Kazakhstan finds itself, with one official condemning the Turkish move and then the Foreign Ministry immediately toning that down. It's trying desperately to maintain neutrality, but this will not be possible.
James Stafford: What does that mean for oil?
Robert Bensh: Again, to even attempt to determine the possible outcome, you have to follow the oil. Kazakhstan's oil is largely exported through the Black Sea and then the Mediterranean. Turkey holds a major card here because it controls the Turkish Straits and could choose to block Russian tankers. Kazakhstan's only real path right now is to pay lip service to Turkey to ensure no closing of the straits and to maintain a fair balance with Russia at the same time, but it's the Turkish Straits that will be first and foremost on its mind.
James Stafford: Thank you for your time. I know that our audience—and most of the American public at least—is desperate to understand what's really going on here; who ISIS actually is; and who everyone's supposed to be scared of. This creates a huge amount of public insecurity, and that fear breeds all kinds of other dangers, not to mention support for ill-advised strategies.
Robert Bensh: Here's the thing. This is when all the crazies come out of the woodwork—and I won't even waste your time with certain attention-seeking billionaire buffoons here. There are very few analysts in the world who can paint a big picture for you here. No one can truly predict what will come next. ISIS is loosely comprised of too many different groups and alliances, and the emerging threat is becoming much more individual, which makes it much more unpredictable. And as far as geopolitics are concerned, agendas in this game are more often than not being made up as we go along. For the energy industry, it's touch-and-go. The fate of key pipelines is in question and this conflict threatens to redraw some significant chunks of the energy map.
----------------- James Stafford is Editor, OilPrice.com the leading online energy news site and a contributing author to the ARRA News Service Tags:James Stafford, Oilprice.com, Syrian Conflict, Out of Control, Interview, Robert BenshTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Confirmed: Terrorists Tried to Enter U.S. as Syrian Refugees
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has confirmed that people with ties to terrorist groups have tried to infiltrate the US through the refugee program. Pretty frightening! And, the Obama Administration wants us to rely on the State Dept's guarantees that the refugees are rigorously screened.
Judicial Watch: Individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria have tried to infiltrate the United States through the Obama refugee program that will admit at least 10,000 Syrians, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has confirmed.
The disturbing admission comes amid robust assurances by the administration that the refugees are thoroughly vetted before entering the country. In fact, the State Department publicly guarantees that every Syrian refugee is rigorously screened because “nothing is more important to us than the security of the American people.” The agency also addresses public concerns involving resettling Syrian refugees by asserting that it’s a “myth” that “all Syrians are dangerous.” In fact, “none have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges,” the State Department writes in a bulletin. Admission is only granted “after the most extensive level of security screening of any category of traveler to the United States,” according to the agency.
Nevertheless, in early October the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Matthew Emrich, admitted during a congressional hearing that there’s no way to adequately screen the new arrivals from the war-torn Muslim nation that’s a hotbed of terrorism. That’s because the Syrian government doesn’t have an intelligence database to run checks against so there’s no reliable method to accurately verify the identity of the new arrivals. Emrich did ensure during his congressional testimony that “we check everything that we are aware of” and that “we are in the process of overturning every stone.” This may not sound all that reassuring to most Americans.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Assistant Director Michael Steinbach has also conceded that the U.S. government has no system to properly screen Syrian refugees. “The concern in Syria is that we don’t have systems in places on the ground to collect information to vet,” Steinbach said. “That would be the concern is we would be vetting — databases don’t hold the information on those individuals. “You’re talking about a country that is a failed state, that is — does not have any infrastructure, so to speak. So all of the data sets — the police, the intel services — that normally you would go to seek information don’t exist.” Judicial Watch reported on these two alarming revelations back in October.
Now we have the ODNI, the broad agency that serves as an umbrella for the intelligence community and advises the president, verifying that indeed terrorists have tried to exploit Obama’s Syrian refugee initiative. The ODNI is composed of more than a dozen spy agencies, including Air Force, Army, Navy, Treasury and Coast Guard intelligence as well as the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This week the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, released unclassified excerpts of information provided to him by the ODNI regarding possible terrorist exploitation of Syrian refugee flows. It’s scary but, unfortunately, not surprising.
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has identified “…individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program,” the ODNI tells the Texas congressman in a document that contains classified information the lawmaker could not make public. The NCTC also wrote this to the congressman: “The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West. U.S. and Canadian authorities in 2011 arrested several refugees linked to what is now ISIL. Early in 2011, Canadian authorities arrested dual Iraqi-Canadian citizen Faruq ‘Isa who is accused of vetting individuals on the internet for suicide operations in Iraq. The FBI, in May of the same year, arrested Kentucky-based Iraqi refugees Wa’ad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi for attempting to send weapons and explosives from Kentucky to Iraq and conspiring to commit terrorism while in Iraq. Alwan pled guilty to the charges against him in December 2011, and Hammadi pled guilty in August 2012.”
The recent attacks in Paris were executed by terrorists who made it to Europe as refugees and the same could feasibly happen in the U.S. But national security has never stopped the Obama administration from assisting potential terrorists to settle in the U.S. Earlier this year, JW reported on a “temporary” amnesty the administration is offering to nationals of Yemen, another Islamic Middle Eastern country well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. Under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) illegal aliens from Yemen, headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), get to stay in the U.S. for at least 18 months. In its latest Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department reveals that AQAP militants carried out hundreds of attacks including suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations. The media has also documented this for years with one in-depth report confirming that “Yemen has emerged as the breeding grounds for some of the most high-profile plans to attack the U.S. homeland.” Tags:Judicial Watch, confirmed, terrorists tried to enter U.S., Syrian RefugeesTo 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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