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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, March 03, 2017

Schumer’s Plan to Keep Obama Appointees in Power

by Newt Gingrich: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats continue to snub President Trump by slowing down Senate confirmation of his Cabinet appointments. Their underlying goal is to allow remaining Obama-appointed bureaucrats to do as much damage to the Trump administration as they can before leaving.

CNN reported last week that “Trump is noticeably behind the last three presidents when it comes to securing the confirmation of his Cabinet and other top appointments that require Senate approval.”

The Senate confirmed Governor Rick Perry on Thursday to lead the U.S. Department of Energy, leaving only former Governor Sonny Perdue and Alexander Acosta awaiting confirmation to lead the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor respectively.

But Schumer is only stalling top cabinet picks to further block the appointments of nearly 2,000 other political vacancies within the administration. CNN said as of February 23, Trump had 1,987 vacancies throughout his administration.

Many of these positions are empty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said yesterday that much has happened at the Department of Justice in the three weeks he’s been in office, and he wished more of his staff had been confirmed by now. To be clear: Senate Democrats are keeping the Department of Justice from functioning at full capacity.

But other seats are currently filled by Obama appointees quietly working behind the scenes to sabotage Trump’s efforts by continuing their previous leader’s agenda while Schumer works to hamstring Trump’s presidency. These include deputies, managers and political appointees who are meant to keep the government running while a new administration comes into power.

A clear example of this is occurring in the Department of Education, where bureaucrats are continuing what the Washington Post called Obama’s “ideological crusade” on for-profit colleges.

During President Obama’s term, his administration forced ITT Technical Institutes out of business after the school helped train American workers for half a century. This left about 40,000 students displaced and about 8,000 employees jobless, according to a September 20, 2016 Washington Post editorial.

And two months before the end of Obama’s term, his education department abruptly stripped authority from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which is one of the oldest national accreditors of academic institutions in the country.

The Obama administration took this action without giving the ACICS a standard 12-month grace period to address the Department of Education’s complaints and imposed intentionally unattainable deadlines on private colleges and work training programs accredited through ACICS.

Secretary Betsy DeVos is now leading the Department of Education, but Obama-appointed lawyers in the department are still enforcing these unreachable mandates for career training institutions.

One such deadline requires 690 privately-owned schools to prove they have applications to other accreditors by March 12. Not only is this forcing private schools to leave ACICS before its appeal is adjudicated, but not meeting this deadline will mean these schools will lose the ability to receive federal Title IV funding, which is bureaucrat-speak for federal student aid.

This means more than 600,000 students at 725 schools will have to either quickly find other educational programs and restart their degrees or certificates; pay off their federal loans with their own money; or find a private lender to accept their debt. All of these options are terrible and punish hard-working people. And the last resort is having taxpayers cover the cost of forgiving the now-useless loans.

The Obama administration made a mission out of demonizing private for-profit colleges and universities, but many of these students are single parents or people who were failed by college-focused federal education policies.
Pulling the rug out from under organizations like ACICS is a blatant, misguided effort by Obama administration bureaucrats who are focused on destroying this industry.

Many of these students are working adults who are trying to improve their lives for the sake of their children. Not only will these Obama-led efforts hurt Americans, but without these colleges and career training programs, our ability to fill the jobs President Trump is working to bring to this county will be severely hindered.

Senate Republicans should make every effort to break the Democrat blockade, so President Trump can swiftly fill these positions. And then the president’s cabinet members should take a close look at Obama staffers who have “burrowed in” by moving from appointed positions to career jobs.

The Washington Times reported in November that there were “69 Obama political appointees who moved into career jobs from 2010 to 2015, and 17 of them didn’t receive the required approval from the Office of Personnel Management.”

The bold changes President Trump is bringing to the federal system will require complete loyalty within the ranks of the executive branch. Republicans in the Congress and the president’s cabinet should work doubly hard to ensure the administration is at top working order as soon as possible.
----------------------
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, commentary, Trump Administration, Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, slow-walking, keeping department, Democrat appointees, in office To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Ryan Zinke Confirmed as Interior Secretary: Kicks Off Tenure With Pro-Hunting Directives

Sec. of Interior Ryan Zinke signs
two orders promoting hunting.
by NRA-ILA: The good news for gun owners continued on Wednesday as the Senate confirmed NRA-backed nominee Ryan Zinke as the 52nd Secretary of the Interior by a bi-partisan vote of 68-31.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) plays a huge role in opportunities for hunting and sport shooting throughout the United States. The DOI’s agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its components manage some 500 million acres of surface land, or about 20% of the entire U.S. landmass, including Western Public Lands, National Parks, and National Wildlife Refuges.

The Department of the Interior sets policies for the use of these lands, including whether or not they’re available for hunting and target shooting, and the rules that govern these activities.

Fortunately, America’s sportsmen and sportswomen have a friend in Ryan Zinke.

A career Navy SEAL, Zinke learned to love the outdoors growing up in Montana. During his confirmation hearing on January 17, he noted: “It was on these lands that my father [taught me] to hunt and fish and the Boy Scouts taught me the principles [of] environmental stewardship and the importance of public access.”

Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, praised Zinke’s confirmation. “The confirmation of an avid outdoorsman to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior marks the end of a hostile era towards hunters and sportsmen,” Cox said. “The NRA looks forward to working with Secretary Zinke in the pursuit of true conservation that respects the rights of America’s outdoorsmen and women.”

To that end, Zinke got right down to business on his very first day, signing two orders to promote hunting and to expand access to public lands.

Secretarial Order. No. 3346 repealed the Obama administration’s parting shot to hunters, which had been a plan to phase out, by the year 2022, the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on lands, waters, and facilities administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition to hunters and fishermen, the Obama-era order had angered the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), the umbrella group for state agencies that manage these resources.

AWFA reacted with “utter dismay” to the Obama lead ban, noting, “It does a disservice to hunters and anglers, the firearms and angling industries, and the many professionals on staff with the USFWS who desire a trusting and transparent relationship with their state partners.” The group characterized the Obama administration’s action as “unacceptable federal overreach” and criticized its severe and disproportionately rural economic impact.

Secretary Zinke’s statement on the repeal explained, “After reviewing the order and the process by which it was promulgated, I have determined that the Order is not mandated by any existing statutory or regulatory requirement and was issued without significant communication, consultation, or coordination with affected stakeholders.”

Secretary Zinke’s second order, No. 3347, seeks to “enhance conservation stewardship, increase outdoor recreation, and improve the management of game species and their habitat.” It recognizes recreational hunters and anglers as leaders in America’s conversation movement and invokes Theodore Roosevelt, who “loved the outdoors and vigorously hunted wildlife”.

Specifically, the order requires a report of all steps taken to implement a directive issued by President George W. Bush, “Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation,” as well as a description of any barriers or impediments to its full implementation. These reports will then be submitted to the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council to solicit each group’s own consensus recommendations for implementation of the Bush directive.

Using these reports and recommendations, the Department will then develop a further plan of action both to expand recreational hunting and fishing opportunities, as well as coordination, cooperation, and communication with state fish and wildlife agencies. Secretary Zinke will also appoint an official within the Immediate Office of the Secretary to coordinate and implement these efforts.

Chris W. Cox was in attendance at the signing ceremony for the secretarial orders and applauded Zinke’s quick action to undo the last-minute lead-ban, which Cox said “was not a decision based on sound scientific evidence” but “a last second attack on traditional ammunition and our hunting heritage.”

Tags: Department Of The Interior, Ryan Zinke, Trump Administration, Hunting, Hunters, Hunters Rights, Lead, Lead Ammunition, Ban Hunting/Conservation, Chris W. Cox, Public Hunting, Pro Hunting Reform To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Lessons of the Hamas War . . .

. . . & Israel's strategic mistake.
by Caroline Glick: The State Comptroller’s Report on Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war with Hamas in the summer of 2014, is exceedingly detailed. The problem is that it addresses the wrong details.

Israel’s problem with Hamas wasn’t its tactics for destroying Hamas’s attack tunnels. Israel faced two challenges in its war with Hamas that summer. The first had to do with the regional and global context of the war. The second had to do with its understanding of its enemy on the ground.

War between Hamas and Israel took place as the Sunni Arab world was steeped a two-pronged existential struggle. On the one hand, Sunni regimes fought jihadist groups that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood movement. On the other, they fought against Iran and its proxies in a bid to block Iran’s moves toward regional hegemony.

On both fronts, the Sunni regimes, led by Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Saudi regime and the United Arab Emirates, were shocked to discover that the Obama administration was siding with their enemies against them.

If Israel went into the war against Hamas thinking that the Obama administration would treat it differently than it treated the Sunni regimes, it quickly discovered that it was mistaken. From the outset of the battle between Hamas and Israel, the Obama administration supported Hamas against Israel.

America’s support for Hamas was expressed at the earliest stages of the war when then-secretary of state John Kerry demanded that Israel accept an immediate cease-fire based entirely on Hamas’s terms. This demand, in various forms, remained the administration’s position throughout the 50-day war.

Hamas’s terms were impossible for Israel. They included opening the jihadist regime’s land borders with Israel and Egypt, and providing it with open access to the sea. Hamas demanded to be reconnected to the international banking system in order to enable funds to enter Gaza freely from any spot on the globe. Hamas also demanded that Israel release its terrorists from its prisons.

If Israel had accepted any of Hamas’s cease-fire terms, its agreement would have constituted a strategic defeat for Israel and a historic victory for Hamas.

Open borders for Hamas means the free flow of armaments, recruits, trainers and money to Gaza. Were Hamas to be connected to the international banking system, the jihadist regime would have become the banking center of the global jihad.

The Obama administration’s support for Hamas was not passive.

Obama and Kerry threatened to join the Europeans in condemning Israel at the UN. Administration officials continuously railed against IDF operations in Gaza, insinuating that Israel was committing war crimes by insisting that Israel wasn’t doing enough to avoid civilian casualties.

As the war progressed, the administration’s actions against Israel became more aggressive. Washington placed a partial embargo on weapons shipments to Israel.

Then on July 23, 2014, the administration took the almost inconceivable step of having the Federal Aviation Administration ban flights of US carriers to Ben-Gurion Airport for 36 hours. The flight ban was instituted after a Hamas missile fell a mile from the airport.

The FAA did not ban flights to Pakistan or Afghanistan after jihadists on the ground successfully bombed airplanes out of the sky.

It took Sen. Ted Cruz’s threat to place a hold on all State Department appointments, and Canada’s Conservative Party government’s behind-the-scenes diplomatic revolt to get the flight ban rescinded.

The government and the IDF were shocked by the ferocity of the administration’s hostility. But to his great credit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surmounted it.

Netanyahu realized that Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood nexus of jihad and also supported by Iran. As a result the Egyptians, Saudis and UAE rightly view it as a major enemy. Indeed, Egypt was in a state of war with Hamas in 2014. Gaza serves as the logistical base of the Salafist forces warring against the Egyptian military.

Netanyahu asked Sisi for help in blunting the American campaign for Hamas. Sisi was quick to agree and brought the Saudis and the UAE into an all-but-declared operational alliance with Israel against Hamas.

Since the Egyptians were hosting the cease-fire talks, Egypt was well-positioned to blunt Obama’s demand that Israel accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms.

In a bid to undermine Egypt, Obama and Kerry colluded with Hamas’s state sponsors Turkey and Qatar to push Sisi out of the cease-fire discussions. But due to Saudi and UAE support for Sisi and Israel, the administration’s attempts to sideline the Egyptians failed.

The cease-fire terms that were adopted at the end of the war contained none of Hamas’s demands. Israel had won the diplomatic war.

It was a strange victory, however. Netanyahu was never able to let the public know what was happening.

Had he informed the public, the knowledge that the US was backing Hamas would have caused mass demoralization and panic. So Netanyahu had to fight the diplomatic fight of his life secretly.

The war on the ground was greatly influenced by the diplomatic war. But the war on the ground was first and foremost a product of the nature of Hamas and of the nature of Hamas’s relationship with the PLO.

Unfortunately, the Comptroller’s Report indicates that the IDF didn’t understand either. According to the report, in the weeks before the war began, the then-coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eitan Dangot, told the security cabinet that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was at a crisis point and that hostilities were likely to break out if Israel didn’t allow humanitarian aid into the Strip.

On Wednesday we learned that Dangot’s view continues to prevail in the army. The IDF’s intelligence chief, Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel must send humanitarian aid to Gaza to avert a war.

There is truth to the IDF’s position. Hamas did in fact go to war against Israel in the summer of 2014 because it was short on supplies.

After Sisi overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt the previous summer, he shut Egypt’s border with Gaza because Gaza was the logistical base of the insurgency against his regime. The closed border cut off Hamas’s supply train of everything from antitank missiles to cigarettes and flour.

The problem with the IDF’s view of Hamas is that providing aid to Gaza means supplying Hamas first and foremost. Every shipment into Gaza strengthens Hamas far more than it serves the needs of Gaza’s civilian population. We got a good look at Hamas’s contempt for the suffering of its people during Protective Edge.

After seeing the vast dimensions of Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure, the then-OC Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, told reporters that Hamas had diverted enough concrete to its tunnel project to build 200 kindergartens, two hospitals, 20 clinics and 20 schools.

Moreover, the civilian institutions that are supposed to be assisted by humanitarian aid all serve Hamas. During the war, three soldiers from the IDF’s Maglan unit were killed in southern Gaza when they were buried in rubble of a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic.

The soldiers were in the clinic to seal off the entry shaft of a tunnel that was located in an exam room.

Hamas had booby trapped the walls of the clinic and detonated it when the soldiers walked through the door.

All of the civilian institutions in Gaza, including those run by the UN, as well as thousands of private homes, are used by Hamas as part of its war machine against Israel.

So any discussion of whether or not to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza is not a humanitarian discussion. It is a discussion about whether or not to strengthen Hamas and reinforce its control over the population of Gaza.

This brings us to the goals of the war in Gaza in 2014. At the time, the government debated two possible endgames.

The first was supported by then-justice minister Tzipi Livni. Livni, and the Left more generally, supported using the war with Hamas as a means of unseating Hamas and restoring the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority to power in the area.

There were four problems with this notion. First, it would require Israel to reconquer Gaza.

Second, the Obama administration would never have agreed to an Israeli conquest of Gaza.

Third, Israel doesn’t have the forces to deploy to Gaza to retake control of the area without rendering its other borders vulnerable.

The final problem with Livni’s idea is that the PLO is no better than Hamas. From the outset of the war, the PLO gave Hamas unqualified support. Fatah militias in Gaza manned the missile launchers side by side with Hamas fighters. PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas represented Hamas at the cease-fire talks in Cairo. He led the political war against Israel in the West. And he financed Hamas’s war effort. Throughout the war Abbas sent a steady stream of funds to Gaza.

If PLO forces were returned to Gaza, they would behave precisely as they behaved from 2000 until Hamas kicked them out in 2007. That is, they would have acted as Hamas’s full partners in their joint war against Israel.

The second possible endgame involved a long-term strategy of defeating Hamas through attrition. This was the goal the government ended up partially adopting. The government ordered the IDF to destroy as much of Hamas’s missile arsenal as possible and to destroy its offensive tunnels into Israel. When the goals had been achieved to the point where the cost of opposing Obama grew greater than the battle gains, Netanyahu agreed to a cease-fire.

For the attrition strategy to have succeeded, the cease-fire would have only been the first stage of a longer war. For the attrition strategy to work, Israel needed to refuse to resupply Hamas. With its missile arsenal depleted and its tunnels destroyed, had Israel maintained the ban on supplies to Gaza, the residents would have revolted and Hamas wouldn’t have had the option of deflecting their anger onto Israel by starting a new war.

The IDF unfortunately never accepted attrition as the goal. From the Comptroller’s Report and Halevi’s statement to the Knesset this week, it appears the General Staff rejected attrition because it refuses to accept either the nature of Hamas or the nature of the PLO. Immediately after the cease-fire went into force, the General Staff recommended rebuilding Gaza and allowing an almost free flow of building supplies, including concrete, into Hamas’s mini-state.

The Comptroller’s Report is notable mainly because it shows that nearly three years after Protective Edge, official Israel still doesn’t understand what happened that summer. The problem with Hamas was never tactical. It was always strategic. Israel won the diplomatic battle because it understood the correlation of its strategic interests with those of the Sunni regimes.

It lost the military battle of attrition because it permitted Hamas to resupply.
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Caroline Glick is the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post and the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit carolineglick.com

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Schumer Scandal, Sessions Update, Rush Warns, Pence's Email


Gary Bauer
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author:  BREAKING NEWS: EMERGING SCHUMER SCANDAL

Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer must resign. Evidence has recently surfaced that the powerful New York Democrat once shared a donut with a Russian -- and not just any Russian, but Vladimir Putin himself!

Now on to more serious matters. . .

The Sessions "Scandal" -  In yesterday's report, I debunked the left's latest smear campaign against the Trump Administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Here's a brief update on the "Sessions scandal."

For much of the day, the media were hyperventilating about the "private meeting" that then-Senator Sessions had in his Senate office with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

At a press conference yesterday, Sessions noted that multiple aides also attended that meeting, including "two retired Army colonels on his staff." All told there are at least three witnesses to what was discussed.

That doesn't exactly sound like the kind of meeting where a senator might be plotting with the Russians to subvert our elections. But it has happened before.

Senator Ted Kennedy, a hero of the left, openly courted Soviet intervention in the 1984 election hoping to defeat Ronald Reagan.

How do two meetings between a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Russian ambassador rise to a level of scandal greater than the Iranian nuclear deal?

Barack Obama conducted secret negotiations with the Iranian regime, which killed American troops. When Obama's nuclear deal was reached, much of it was kept secret from Congress.

Obama unleashed the Russian and Chinese ambassadors to lobby Congress in support of this secret deal with our enemy, which also got plane loads of cash in the process.

Between Kennedy's cavorting with communists and Obama's appeasement of the ayatollah, I think it is pretty clear which party has done more to deliberately undermine America.

Rush Warns - The Daily Caller notes that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak visited the Obama White House at least 22 times. What was he discussing then and why don't Democrats and the media care about those contacts?

Is it possible that the Russians were working with the Obama White House to frame Donald Trump? Given how the Iranian nuclear deal was handled, how Obama was constantly appeasing our enemies like Cuba and how eager he was to show Putin his "flexibility," who knows?!

But the media will never ask those questions.

Rush Limbaugh noted that the media have already established the narrative that Russia got Trump elected, so Democrat contacts with the Russians don't matter. It's only Republican contacts, i.e. Jeff Sessions, that must be thoroughly investigated and it is only Republicans, i.e. Michael Flynn, who must punished.

Rush warned that unless Republicans figure out a way to flip the script and go on the attack, the media and Democrat Party will continue to exploit the "fake news" of Russia's meddling in the elections as a battering ram to take down Donald Trump and the Republican Party.

It's really not hard for Republicans to get control of this story. For example, why don't they start asking questions about why Obama had secret wiretaps on the Trump campaign in the first place?

Oh, you didn't know about that? More on Monday.

Pence's Email -  The left is accusing Vice President Mike Pence of gross hypocrisy today. Evidently, Pence used a private email account when he was governor of Indiana. Of course, Pence was also very critical of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during last year's campaign.

The comparison is beyond absurd.

The governor of Indiana does not deal with the nation's national security secrets. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton did. That was the issue.

Moreover, Hillary had told State Department employees not to use private email accounts, and she even fired an ambassador for doing so.

Another "So-Called Judge" -  Last month, President Trump took a lot of flak for referring to a federal judge as a "so-called judge." Well, another "so-called judge" is making news today.

On January 27th, Diddier Pacheco Salazar appeared in Judge Monica Herranz's courtroom in Multnomah County, Oregon, facing DUI charges. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were waiting outside the courtroom to detain Salazar, but they became suspicious when he never came out.

Now Judge Herranz is under investigation for allowing Salazar to escape through her private entrance. ICE agents reportedly decided not to press criminal charges against Judge Herranz, who may still face administrative sanctions.

I think it was a mistake to let this "so-called judge" off the hook so easily. If she wants to be an advocate for illegal immigrants and open borders, fine. But she should take her robe off and give up her gavel.

Poll Position -  President Trump hit it out of the park during his address before Congress Tuesday night.

According to Rasmussen's daily tracking poll, the president's approval rating on the day of the speech was 50% approve and 50% disapprove. His numbers now are 53% approve and 47% disapprove.

What that tells me is that the president can still move public opinion in spite of the left's non-stop attempts to smear him.
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Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, Schumer Scandal, Sessions Update, Rush Warns, Pence's Email To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Trump’s Interior Secretary IMMEDIATELY Reverses Obama’s Spiteful Lead Ammo Ban

by Bob Owens: On his first day full in office, Donald Trump’s new Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke literally mounted his horse and rode roughshod over former President Barack Obama’s final spiteful attack on American gun owners.
On his first full day in office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued an order Thursday reversing a last-minute action by the Obama administration to ban lead ammunition and fish tackle used on national wildlife refuges.

Gun-rights supporters condemned the earlier order — issued a day before Obama left office Jan. 20 — as nakedly political. The order was intended to protect birds from lead poisoning, the Obama administration said.

Zinke, a former Montana congressman and avid hunter, said the new order would increase hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities on lands managed by Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said Zinke’s order “represents an important check on executive abuse and reverses what was a deliberate attack on Americans’ fundamental rights and privileges” by the Obama administration.

The order reverses a decision by the Obama administration to phase out use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on wildlife refuges by 2022.

Zinke, who rode to work on a horse Thursday as a sign of solidarity with U.S. Park Police, said the hunting order and another order directing agencies to identify areas where recreation and fishing can be expanded were intended to boost outdoor recreation in all its forms.

“Outdoor recreation is about both our heritage and our economy,” he said in a statement. “Between hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, camping and more, the industry generates thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.”
Lead shotshell ammunition and fishing tackle (typically BB-sized or smaller sinkers) have been banned in many places over concerns that wildlife were ingesting them and giving them lead poisoning. Obama went well beyond that, however, and attempted to ban lead rifle and pistol ammunition, even though the science backing such a ban is dubious at best. Obama’s lead ammunition ban was nothing more or less than a spiteful parting shot by a failed gun control advocate wanting to make life miserable for hunters and other outdoorsmen.

Interior Secretary Zinke’s decision to reverse Obama’s hatred-fueled ban was clearly the right response.
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Bob Owens is the Editor of BearingArms.com. A long-time shooting enthusiast, he began blogging as a North Carolina native in New York. His personal blog is bob-owens.com, and he can be found on Twitter at @bob_owens.

Tags: Ammunition, , Lead Ammunition, Donald Trump, Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, Reverses, Barack Obama, Lead Ammo Ban, Bob Owens, BearingArms.com To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Leaping to Judgment on #SchoolChoice

Paul DiPerna
by Paul DiPerna: We are at a critical point in the long history of education reform.

The politicized issue of school choice has received sustained national attention since the election of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. The subsequent nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education has only increased the debate.

While campaigning, Mr. Trump pledged $20 billion of federal support for a choice-based program. Awaiting the details, reformers wonder how that initiative would work in concert with state programs, some of which have been operating for years, if not decades.

School choice policies enable parents to decide where and how their children will be educated. The nation’s first modern private school choice program—in Milwaukee—has been around for more than 25 years. Since 2011, we have seen dramatic growth in the number private school choice programs across the country. State legislatures and governors have passed and signed into law 36 new programs over the last six years, and more than 30 bills currently are under consideration by states.

For many Americans, especially in states where choices remain limited, this is a conversation newly elevated to the national stage, a natural invitation to proponents and opponents alike to strut their stuff and seek new allies.

Contrary to recent editorials in some major U.S newspapers, the empirical research on school choice programs is far more positive than not. Summaries of the effects of multiple programs generally show positive effects, as does a meta-analysis of gold-standard experimental research on school choice by Shakeel, Anderson, and Wolf (2016). Participating students usually show modest improvements in reading or math test scores, or both. Annual gains are relatively small but cumulative over time. High school graduation and college attendance rates>/b> are substantially higher for participating minority students compared to peers. Programs are almost always associated with improved test scores in affected public schools. They also save money. Those savings can be used to increase per-pupil spending in local school districts. Studies also consistently show that programs increase parent satisfaction, racial integration nd civic outcomes.

It’s true that recent studies have reported some initial negative effects on choice students’ test scores. The most sobering come from the rigorous, experimental evaluation of the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP). The LSP has a different, much more restrictive regulatory framework for private schools than other choice programs. The negative results in math should be monitored, but it’s important to note that the evaluation is only in its second of seven planned years.

Broad perspective and context are essential. Negative initial findings in one or two locations, based solely on one performance metric, should not halt the creation or expansion of school choice programs in other parts of the country. Generalizing those findings across states is problematic because education is sensitive to state and local cultural, political, governmental and economic conditions. The many places where we have observed significant positive results from choice programs swamp the few where we have seen negative findings. We need to consider the complete research base and not disproportionately emphasize the most recent studies.

I have two young daughters, both currently receiving special education services via individualized education programs (IEPs). Our girls attend public school, and we are highly satisfied parents with their excellent teachers, aides, and therapists. Our experiences have led us to have high expectations for our girls’ educations, and we realize that the future is uncertain. Many parents probably feel this way about their schooling journeys.

And that’s where choice plays a critical role. Choice enables parents to have a stronger voice—individually and collectively—to address uncertainties and occasions of disenfranchisement: Parents gain new leverage to leave an undesirable situation. More schooling options usher in newfound political power.

Why should satisfied parents care? Because choice becomes an insurance policy. If things go awry in the future, there is a lever to take immediate action to advance the well-being of their child.

As we continue to study choice-based policies in K–12 education, one challenge we must confront is the push-pull created by high-stakes accountability measures designed to assess schools, students, and educators, based solely on test scores—an area where choice proponents and opponents often find common ground.

Researchers and policymakers must carefully balance the need for data-driven evidence with the reality that educational choice is, at its core, an issue of parental empowerment. A voucher, education savings account or tax-credit scholarship gives real voice to families. Their students are no longer bureaucratically assigned to a school; rather, they are financially enabled to find the best education provider for their children, a trend toward decentralized power that mirrors progress in the communications, transportation and health care sectors.

As educational choice continues to grow as part of the national policy debate, all of us need to ask questions and examine the big picture, including comprehensive bodies of empirical research, before jumping to conclusions. Measuring success by test scores alone, especially early in the life of a program, does a disservice to students, educators and schools – public or private.

I hope that the emerging public conversation will include families who either are already exercising their right to choose, or who want that significant power. Scientific research is a vital and necessary component of this dialogue, but by itself is not sufficient. Parents and guardians – not advocacy groups, think tanks, or elected officials – are the true beneficiaries of educational choice programs and reforms. They have the voices that must lead this emergent social movement.
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Paul DiPerna is Vice President of Research and Innovation for EdChoice.

Tags: Leaping to Judgment, School Choice, Paul DiPerna, Research and Innovation, EdChoice To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Moore Hate From the Left . . .

. . . Michael More Attacks Ryan Owens’s widow Carryn for allowing herself to be a prop for President Trump. The left have no shame.

Editorial Cartoon by AF "Tony" Branco

Tags: Editorial Cartoon, AF Branco, Michael Moore, Hate From the Left, attacks, ryan Owne's widow, the lefet, no shame To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Overkill, Not Parsimony

by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: Two truths: national defense is a necessity; national defense is a racket.

The latter is the case because the former is the case. Big spenders rely on “better safe than sorry” to always push the envelope, over-investing rather than under-investing.

So, we are trapped — and our new president knows this. Before Trump ran for office, he said that sequestration cuts to the Pentagon budget had not gone far enough. But when he threw his hat into the ring, he promised to “make our military so big, so powerful, so strong that nobody — absolutely nobody — is going to mess with us.”

President Trump now proposes over fifty billion dollars in new defense spending. More soldiers, more ships, more fighter jets.

John Stossel argues that Americans are not necessarily suckers for this game. At least, a majority does not support increasing military spending.

More importantly, Stossel challenges the whole “overkill always” strategy. “America is going broke, and our military already spends almost $600 billion dollars [annually],” Stossel says. “That’s more than the next seven nations spend — combined.”

Now would be a good time to not only rethink Middle East policy, but to re-consider our expensive role as world policeman (speaking of “national” defense). During the campaign, Trump was criticized for questioning our alliances and demanding more of our allies. But he was right. I hope he’ll get tough in prodding our allies to ultimately provide their own defense.

Even more basic? Demand an audit of the Pentagon before new funds are thrown into the five-sided money pit.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
------------------
Paul Jacobs is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Paul Jacob, Common Sense, Overkill, Not Parsimony, military spending To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Second Amendment

by Kerby Anderson, Contributing Author: Even though the Supreme Court has already ruled on the constitutionality of the Second Amendment in the Heller decision, the Fourth Circuit court judges decided to rewrite the opinion and ban certain guns and magazines.

In January, the court ruled that lawful gun owners are inherently “dangerous” and can face search and seizure limitations on their constitutional rights. Then last week in February, the court upheld Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and any magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition.

In order to reach that conclusion, the judges argued that an AR-15 rifle is essentially the same as a military M-16. David French suggests a good test. Walk into your local gun store and try to buy an M-16. You won’t be able to do so because it is an entirely different category of weapon. One is a semi-automatic civilian weapon, while the other is automatic military weapon.

In his dissent, Judge Traxler expressed concern about the court’s new test about whether a firearm is “most useful in military service.” Essentially that could be used to remove nearly all firearms from Second Amendment protection since most firearms could be used in military service.

The legal problem with the judge’s decision is that it says an AR-15 is unacceptable because it is semi-automatic. But every other gun that fires once per trigger pull also includes the handguns that were protected in the Supreme Court’s Heller decision.

The judges on the Fourth Circuit court begin their opinion by reciting the sad facts of the Sandy Hook massacre and then detailing other shootings. Unfortunately by focusing on the fear of mass shootings, they then go on to take from civilians one of the best weapons to confront a mass shooter: an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine.
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Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous stations via the Point of View Network endorsed by Dr. Bill Smith, Editor, ARRA News Service

Tags: Kerby Anderson, Viewpoints, Point of View, Second 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!

It’s Trump’s Party, Now

by Patrick Buchanan: Before the largest audience of his political career, save perhaps his inaugural, Donald Trump delivered the speech of his life.

And though Tuesday’s address may be called moderate, even inclusive, Trump’s total mastery of his party was on full display.

Congressional Republicans who once professed “free-trade” as dogmatic truth rose again and again to cheer economic nationalism.

“We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved,” thundered Trump, “and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.”

Yet a Republican party that embraced NAFTA and voted MFN for China every time it came up gave Trump standing ovations.

“(W)e have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters,” said Trump, “America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East — all the while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.”

And from Congressional Republicans who backed every Bush-Obama war — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen — not a peep of protest, as their foreign policy legacy was being consigned to the dumpster.

Watching Republicans rise again and again to hail Trump called to mind the Frankish King Clovis who, believing his wife’s Christian God had interceded to give him victory over the Alemanni, saw his army converted by the battalions and baptized by the platoons.

One had thought the free-trade beliefs of Republicans were more deeply rooted than this.

“We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Trump exulted, having just tossed into the trash that mammoth trade deal beloved of Bush Republicans.

GOP champions of the TPP, if there are any left, sat mute.

Trump cited the first Republican president, Lincoln, as having got it right when he warned, “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government (will) produce want and ruin among our people.”

Celebrating protectionism, hailing “America First!” in a virtual State of the Union address — it doesn’t get any better than this.

To open-borders Republicans who backed amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants, Trump had this message, “We will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border.”

And the cheering did not stop.

The president invoked Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System, the greatest public works project of the 20th century, as a model.

Yet Ike was opposed by the Taft wing of his party and Ike’s republicanism gave birth to the modern conservative movement.

Yet, in leading Republicans away from globalism to economic nationalism, Trump is not writing a new gospel. He is leading a lost party away from a modernist heresy — back to the Old-Time Religion.

In restating his commitment to the issues that separated him from the other Republicans and won him Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, however, Trump reaffirmed aspects of conservatism dear to his audience.

He committed himself to regulatory reform, freeing up the private sector, rolling back the administrative state. The Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines are on the way to completion. And Trump is all behind school choice.

While the speech was unifying and aspirational, the president set goals and laid down markers by which his presidency will be judged.

And none will be easy of attainment.

“Dying industries will come roaring back to life. … Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways … Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and, ultimately, stop. … Our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity.”

As some of these domestic crises are rooted in the character, or lack of it, of people, they have proven, since Great Society days, to be beyond the capacity of government to solve.

Ronald Reagan was not wrong when he said, “Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

And while the president’s speech astonished critics as much as it reassured friends, it leaves large questions unanswered.

How does one leave Social Security and Medicare untouched, grow defense by more than $50 billion, slash taxes, launch a $1 trillion infrastructure program — and not explode the deficit and national debt?

Now that we are ensnared in wars all over the Middle East, how do we extricate ourselves and come home without our enemies filling the vacuum?

How does the GOP repeal and replace Obamacare without cutting the benefits upon which millions of Americans have come to rely?

How do you eliminate an $800 billion merchandise trade deficit without tariffs that raise the price of cheap imports from abroad — on which Trump’s working-class voters have come to depend?

The Republican establishment today bends the knee to Caesar.

But how long before K Street lobbyists for transnational cartels persuade the GOP elite, with campaign contributions, to slow-walk the president’s America First agenda?

Tuesday’s speech established Trump as the man in charge.

But how loyal to him and his program will be the “deep state,” which dominates this city that gave Trump only 4 percent of its votes and, paranoically, believes him to be an agent of Vladimir Putin?

The Trump-Beltway wars have only just begun.
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Patrick Buchanan is currently a conservative columnist, political analyst, chairman of The American Cause foundation and an editor of The American Conservative. He has been a senior advisor to three Presidents, a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, and was the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He blogs at the Patrick J. Buchanan.

Tags: Patrick Buchanan, conservative, commentary, It’s Trump’s Party, Now To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Media Attack Trump's Terrorism Expert Dr. Sebastian Gorka

by Jim Kouri: In keeping with the news media's tradition of denigrating and maligning Republican appointees to key White House positions including those related to national security and counter-terrorism, famed military and law enforcement strategist Dr. Sebastian Gorka is being targeted and accused of being Islamophobic without any credible evidence.

He's also being labeled anti-Semitic by left-wing Jews who display more hatred for President Donald Trump -- who has Jewish family members -- than for Islamic terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah who seek the total annihilation of the Israelis.

According to political strategist Michael Baker, a former police official and prosecutor, the majority of news people aren't worried about being seen as biased leftists who believe their primary job is to circulate propaganda and Democratic Party talking points to the unwashed masses.

"In an emotional outburst on MSNBC's morning show, co-host Mika Brzezinski declared that it was the job of the news media to 'control' what the American people think. I almost choked on my cocktail. I didn't know whether to be angry with her elitist mind set or happy that she admitted what conservatives have been saying for years," said Baker.

"It could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think," Brzezinski boldly claimed. "And that, that is our job."

Meanwhile, in keeping with Barack Obama mentor Saul "Rules for Radicals" Alinsky's strategy -- "Pick the Target, Freeze It, Personalize It and Polarize It" -- the members of the press began this week to pile on Dr. Gorka with accusations of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, warmonger, and others.

Sebastian Gorka was born in London in 1970 and while attending university he joined the British Territorial Army, serving in the Intelligence Corps, a British counter-terrorism unit specializing in radical Islamic organizations.

After returning to Hungary in 1998, Gorka served as an adviser to that nation's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. At that point he began his work on a doctorate in political science. His doctoral dissertation focused on the strategic differences between the politically motivated terrorism of the Cold War and the religiously motivated terrorists such as Al Qaeda.

On Friday, Co-Chair of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus and the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Congressman Trent Frank, R-Texas, released the following statement in support of Deputy Assistant to President Donald J. Trump Dr. Sebastian Gorka in response to press and social media attacks against him this week: "I have followed the recent press and social media attacks against Dr. Sebastian Gorka and am compelled to respond with disgust at the attempt to libel this American patriot. Most disturbing of all is the attempt to portray Dr. Gorka in any way as anti-Semitic.

"Having called upon his expertise on Counterterrorism repeatedly in Congress and used his analysis to inform our work, I can attest that Dr. Gorka is the staunchest friend of Israel and the Jewish people.

"He truly understands the existential threat that Global Jihadism poses to both America and Israel and has repeatedly stated that groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS share a totalitarian bond with the Fascists and Nazis who threatened us in the 20th century. To associate him an any way with such ideologies is repugnant and a prime example of what has been termed "Fake News.

"Sebastian Gorka's service to the nation, his reputation, and his national security credentials are all unimpeachable and I am thrilled he is now serving in the White House as Deputy Assistant to President Donald J. Trump."
----------------
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently vice-president of the National Assoc. of Chiefs of Police and a staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He served as director of public safety at a New Jersey University, director of security for several major organizations, served on the National Drug Task Force, and has trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and this article in Family Security Matters.

Tags: Jim Kouri, Media, Attack Trump's Terrorism Expert, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Family Security Matters To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

The Secret Wealth Of The World's Richest Oil Billionaires

by Zainab Calcuttawala: A policy of nationalizing chunks of an economy inevitably creates oligarchs who skim profits off the country’s natural resources.

As such, you won’t be surprised to learn that the largest energy companies in the world are owned and operated by governments, and they include: Saudi Aramco, Russian Gazprom, China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), National Iranian Oil Co., Petroleos de Venezuela, Brazil’s Petrobras and Malaysia’s Petronas. How they’re run varies wildly—as does where their wealth goes.

While we’ve all been inundated with the massive amount of press on the scandals engulfing Brazil’s Petrobras, there are a few that stand out for creating and maintaining some of the world’s most interesting and colorful political leaders, who have grown their wealth through holdings in state-run oil and gas in some cases, and through more direct means in other cases.

Four state-run oil wealth stories stand out in today’s world: Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Angola and Brunei.

Vladimir Putin, Russia
Estimates of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealth only comes in ranges because most of his wealth is hidden through offshore companies or under clandestine financial devices.

The lower end of the range sits at US$40 billion – a 2007 figure based on research by mid-level Kremlin advisor Stanislav Belkovsky, which he later said had grown to US$70 billion. At this level, Putin already stands among Forbes’ Top 10 rankings of the world’s richest billionaires, though the magazine commented in 2015 that it could not verify enough of his assets to put him on the list.

Earlier this week, the International Business Times said Putin's fortune could be as much as $200 billion.

The majority of Putin’s wealth comes from his stakes in the oil sector. He is said to own 37 percent of Surgutneftegaz, 4.5 percent of Gazprom.

"At least $40 billion,” Belkovsy told the Guardian in 2007. “Maximum we cannot know. I suspect there are some businesses I know nothing about."

Putin’s trophies of wealth are far from subtle. His $1 billion palace on the Black Sea features “a magnificent columned façade reminiscent of the country palaces Russian tsars built in the 18th century,” according to the BBC, which also procured evidence that a secret slush fund had been created by a group of oligarchs to build the estate for Putin, personally.

It’s definitely not a lifestyle one can afford on a declared annual salary of around US$140,000.

In a 2012 dossier, Former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov (later murdered) claimed that the Russian president owns a total of 20 palaces, four yachts and 58 aircraft.

“In a country where 20 million people can barely make ends meet, the luxurious life of the president is a brazen and cynical challenge to society from a high-handed potentate,” he said, according to the Telegraph.

But according to Putin himself, his wealth is not measured in money. In Steven Lee Myers’ book The New Tsar, Putin is quoted as saying: "I am the wealthiest man not just in Europe but in the whole world: I collect emotions.”

"I am wealthy in that the people of Russia have twice entrusted me with the leadership of a great nation such as Russia. I believe that is my greatest wealth."

Azerbaijan
In 2003, Ilham Aliyev became the newly elected president of Azerbaijan. Thirteen years later, his name appeared in the Panama Papers – a massive leak of financial documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which revealed the shady financial dealings of some of the world’s most powerful political figures.

Months before the October 2003 presidential elections in Azerbaijan, Fazil Mammadov, Azerbaijan’s tax minister, began paperwork to form AtaHolding – a company that has become one of the nation’s largest conglomerates. It holds interests in telecommunications, construction, mining, and oil and gas for a total value of $490 million, according to the last filings in 2014.

A second entity – this time a foundation – called UF Universe holds more assets, but Panamanian laws regarding the confidentiality of foundations are strict, which makes uncovering dollar amounts difficult.

Aliyev’s two daughters and wife also have links to offshore companies managed by Mossack Fonsenca. Incidentally, Aliyev just named his wife Vice-President of Azerbaijan.

How much is the First Oil Family worth these days? No one really knows, but enough to make it onto this list.

Kazakhstan
Kazakh President-for-life Nursultan Nazarbayev was also named in the Panama Papers as a tax haven owner. He had two companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, which he used to operate a bank account with an unknown amount of funds, and a luxury yacht.

The revelations were particularly loaded with hypocrisy because of Nazarbayev’s push to encourage his country’s wealthy to repatriate funds from abroad in order to make them taxable.

“We’ve raised many rich people: billionaires, millionaires,” he said, when oil prices tanked in 2014 and the government began using sovereign wealth funds to fund operations. “They are showing off; (their) pictures in Forbes… They look good, with makeup, well-groomed, well-dressed. But it is Kazakhstan that enabled you to earn all this money… Bring the money here. We’ll forgive you.”

Angola
Things here may be about to change, because President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has said he plans to step down after decades in power, and won’t be running in August’s presidential elections, but still plans to control the ruling party. Here, wealth is all about Sonangol, which has been marred in controversy since the president last year named his daughter as the head of the state-run oil company.

Angola has massive oil wealth, yet the bulk of the country’s 22 million people live in poverty, and critics say he’s mismanaged the country’s oil wealth and created an elite that largely consists of his massively rich family. But this scheme is being hit hard by the fall in oil prices that began in mid-2014, and the people are no longer complacent in their poverty.

The president’s daughter, worth an estimated US$3.4 billion before she took over the state-run oil company, has been described by Forbes as Africa’s richest woman.

Brunei
And here’s one that’s probably not even on your radar, but it will be—sooner rather than later.

Vast reserves of oil and natural gas have made Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei one of the richest leaders in the world. The Sultan is believed to be worth US$40 billion at the low end, and while ‘his’ holdings officially belong to Brunei, in reality they belong to the royal family.

Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, and pumps out, on average, 180,000 barrels per day. The royal family has controlled everything to do with oil and gas since the 1970s, and the line here between royal family assets and national assets is exceedingly blurry.

Vulnerable or Not?
The thing about these political oil leaders is that they’re not really vulnerable—yet. It would take an event such as that which brought down Gaddafi (said to secretly be worth US$200 billion) in Libya to change this.

In Brunei, things may be about to change, and the Sultan may find his wealth considerably downsized. Oil production is down 40 percent since 2006, and what’s left has lost a great deal of value due to low oil prices. Nearly 96 percent of Brunei’s exports are oil, gas and related products—that tops even Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. Brunei could run out of oil in just over 20 years, but then again, the Sultan is said to have massive real estate holdings to tide him over.

Angola’s president is stepping down and the oil price crisis has hit him hard, but he’ll still control the ruling party and a new president will defer to him (and his daughter).

In Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev is president for life. In Azerbaijan, the family elite is as strong as ever and will continue to be so through any means necessary. In Russia, sanctions simply haven’t worked because they are designed to target those around Putin, and Putin appears to have designed it so they are always vulnerable to him first and foremost.

As Russian businessman and former Putin friend Sergei Pugachev notes to the Guardian, and as reported by U.S. News and World Report: "Everything that belongs to the territory of the Russian Federation Putin considers to be his. Everything – Gazprom, Rosneft, private companies. Any attempt to calculate it won't succeed. … He's the richest person in the world until he leaves power."
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Zainab Calcuttawala, an American journalist based in Morocco, authored this article contributed by James Stafford the editor of OilPrice.com, the leading online energy news site, to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: Zainab Calcuttawala, Secret Wealth, World's Richest Oil Billionaires, James Stafford, Oilprice.com, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Countering OPEC to Achieve an America First Energy Strategy

by Ken Blackwell, Contributing Author: For decades, conventional wisdom held that the United States would remain reliant on imported oil as domestic reserves were either too limited or too expensive to be accessible. Yet in the early years of this new century, a small group of American innovators tackled the shale formations in our nation’s heartland with new technology. The result rewrote the energy rulebook: vast supplies of domestic crude were produced, rural and industrial communities were reinvigorated, and our country’s oil imports were halved.

Despite our newly-tapped oil wealth, the energy industry was unconcerned about the possibility of global oversupply. The industry was confident that Saudi Arabia, the global swing producer and de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC), would take its usual approach and cut production levels. However, at the November 2014 OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabia and other member states refused to cut production, sending prices plummeting. In June 2014, the price of oil was $110 per barrel. By January 2016, prices had collapsed to $26.

This crash in oil prices has been kind to consumers. Average annual household gasoline spending dropped from $2,655 in 2011 to $2,090 in 2015. That is $565 that can be used to spend on bills, put food on the table, or put away for the future—approximately 20 percent of the average 2015 tax refund. However, the shale industry was decimated. Since January 2015, more than 220 oil companies have gone bankrupt, taking 150,000 jobs with them. Parts of the country that had enjoyed the energy boom were nudged back toward recession.

Furthermore, tremendous uncertainty following this price collapse prevented companies from investing in future production, with $100 billion in upstream spending cut from 2014 to 2016—paving the way for future supply shortages and price spikes. Although consumers are enjoying low pump prices now, the domestic needs of OPEC nations mean oil prices can rise as well as fall, and become a burden to American families once more.

It is these domestic needs, such as social spending to pacify restive populations, that has caused OPEC to shift its strategy again, creating more market volatility by bringing in Russia and others as part of a production “supercartel.” This group’s unprecedented influence over the global oil market comes from a combination of cheap crude and concentrated political power within its member states. Their national oil companies control 90 percent of global reserves, but are not free-market, profit-maximizing companies like American oil producers. They serve instead as arms of their respective governments, generating revenues to support regimes who don’t share our geopolitical priorities.

Because oil is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, powering 92 percent of our vehicle fleet with no alternatives available at scale, OPEC’s hold over the global oil market jeopardizes our economic sovereignty. Oil is priced and traded globally, so no matter how much oil the U.S. produces, we will remain susceptible to the cartel’s actions. To counter our reliance upon this opaque market, we must develop a range of domestic policy responses.

First, we must produce more domestic resources here at home. Second, we must modernize our fuel efficiency standards to get more out of the oil we do consume. Third, we must encourage the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles that run on domestic and diverse energy sources including electricity, natural gas, and hydrogen. Finally, we must examine how OPEC’s activities undermine our economic interests and strategic priorities as we maintain the security of global oil supplies.

A bipartisan group of Congressmen is working to address the last recommendation. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Trent Franks (R-AZ) and David Scott (D-GA) have introduced H.R. 545, which would create a Congressional commission that investigates OPEC’s influence over the global oil market, assesses current American efforts to mitigate the cartel’s effects, and proposes a range of answers—diplomatic, legal, trade, regulatory and statutory—to President Trump and Congress.

The time for action is now. The President has prioritized energy security in his America First Energy Plan, stating that his administration wants to, “Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.”

With President Trump in office, the opportunity to take on OPEC’s disproportionate role in the global oil market has presented itself. If this commission is established soon, it has the potential to set the President’s energy agenda for the next four years—and make sure, most importantly, that our country’s energy system truly works in our own national interest.
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Ken Blackwell (@kenblackwell) is a former ambassador to the U.N., Ohio Secretary of State and mayor of Cincinnati. He is a former Domestic Policy Advisor to the Trump Presidential Transition Team, is a Senior Advisor to Securing America’s Future Energy. He is a contributing author to the ARRA News Service.

Tags: en Blackwell, Countering OPEC, America First, Energy Strategy To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The New McCarthyism, Let's Review, WWYD

Gary Bauer
by Gary Bauer, Contributing Author:  The New McCarthyism -  The left's attacks are becoming more unhinged by the day. Here's the latest: Last year, then-Senator Jeff Sessions spoke to the Russian ambassador twice. This was "breaking news" this morning, and there are calls on Capitol Hill for Sessions' scalp.

Democrats are alleging that Sessions committed perjury during his confirmation hearings when he was asked about communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials last year. The media would have us believe that the Alabama conservative is a Russian mole.

I'll let you decide. Consider this exchange between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Sessions:

Franken: CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the president-elect last week. . . These documents also allegedly say 'there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.' . . . if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

Sessions: Senator Franken, I'm not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I'm unable to comment on it.
In a written questionnaire, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked Sessions whether he had "been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after election day." [Emphasis added.] Sessions replied, "No."

Here's what you need to keep in mind: While Jeff Sessions did endorse Donald Trump, he was not a member of the campaign staff. He was also a United State senator and member of the Armed Services Committee. It is not unusual for members of the Senate to meet with foreign ambassadors.

After all, Senate Democrats had no problem with the Russian ambassador telling them how great Obama's nuclear deal with Iran was.

Sessions met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak once at a public event where dozens of other ambassadors were present and once in his Senate office. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for that second contact.

Sessions had met with the Ukrainian ambassador the day before he met with Kislyak. According to Fox News, "These meetings took place a week before a seven-day unilateral ceasefire plan was accepted by Russia on behalf of separatist rebels it backed in the conflict with Ukraine."

Now back to the confirmation hearings. Sen. Franken asked Sessions about a "continuing exchange of information." Sessions said he wasn't aware of any.

Sen. Leahy asked Sessions if any Russian officials contacted him specifically "about the 2016 election." Sessions said no.

There is zero evidence of perjury here.

Apparently, Democrats and their media allies have no shame. They are running around with their hair on fire, demanding to know if anyone in the Trump Administration, now or at any time, ever spoke with a Russian. Joseph McCarthy must be cheering Senate Democrats and Big Media from his grave.

Let's Review - Let's review one more time the core issue involved in the left's nonsensical theory.

Hackers associated with Russia broke into servers and stole emails that influenced the election. Hillary's emails? No. She repeatedly insisted her server was never compromised. The FBI said it had no evidence that her server was hacked, although it had to assume the information was compromised because Hillary was so "extremely careless."

The servers that were hacked belonged to John Podesta and the Democrat National Committee. Those emails were entertaining, but hardly significant.

What defeated Hillary Clinton wasn't the DNC emails. It was her total irresponsibility in handling the national security secrets of the United States of America!

But we are past that. Now we are interrogating any official about their communications with the Russians. Well, I do remember one person who did talk to the Russian leadership.

This person leaned over and whispered in the ear of the out-going Russian president about how much "flexibility" he would have after the election. The Russian leader answered, "I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

Barack Obama was extremely interested in cooperating with Vladimir Putin, and no one on the left cared at all. Yet, we're supposed to believe that Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump are somehow compromised.

WWYD? If you wanted to hurt the Russians, what would you do?

Well, their economy is weak and they have only one major export -- oil and natural gas. If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would unleash the American energy industry to drive down the price of oil.

If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would follow Ronald Reagan's playbook and rebuild the American military.

If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would tell our NATO allies to drop the socialism and beef up their own defenses.

If you wanted to hurt Russia, you would make America great again.

On every count, Donald Trump's policies are the opposite of the left-wing agenda advanced by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. And Trump's policies are working against Russia's interests. This is so plainly obvious!

What is not obvious to me is why Republican senators and other leaders are not making that argument.
----------------
Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families

Tags: Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families, The New McCarthyism, Let's Review, WWYD, Trump's America To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!

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