Category: Govenment


Tony Blair: Fighting Islamism – A Defining Challenge of Our Time
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a landmark speech yesterday calling on the world to unite against Islamism.
Thu, April 24, 2014
Tony Blair, the Former British Prime Minister, delivered a keynote speech at Bloomberg HQ in London entitled ‘Why the Middle East Still Matters.’ In it he described radical Islam as the greatest threat facing the world today.

He argued “there are four reasons why the Middle East remains of central importance and cannot be relegated to the second order.”

The first three: oil, proximity to Europe and Israel, whilst important, were not the focus of the speech. Blair rapidly moved on to the fourth and most important reason: Islamic extremism also known as Islamism.

He identifies the conflict in the Middle East as one between an open and tolerant viewpoint and a fundamentalist Islamist ideology. He said “wherever you look – from Iraq to Libya to Egypt to Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and then further afield to Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan – this is the essential battle.”

Addressing those who regard these conflicts as distinct he said “there is something frankly odd about the reluctance to accept what is so utterly plain: that they have in common a struggle around the issue of the rightful place of religion, and in particular Islam, in politics.”

It is this central point that he hammered home again and again over the course of his 40 minute speech.

He argued that this struggle does not end at the borders of the region. Rather, “The reason this matters so much is that this ideology is exported around the world.”

He asked listeners to “Take a step back and analyze the world today: with the possible exception of Latin America (leaving aside Hezbollah in the tri-border area in South America), there is not a region of the world not adversely affected by Islamism and the ideology is growing.”

He notes that “The Muslim population in Europe is now over 40m and growing. The Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations are increasingly active and they operate without much investigation or constraint. Recent controversy over schools in Birmingham (and similar allegations in France) show heightened levels of concern about Islamist penetration of our own societies.”

The main thrust of the speech focused on “two fascinating things.”

“The first is the absolutely rooted desire on the part of Western commentators to analyze these issues as disparate rather than united by common elements. They go to extraordinary lengths to say why, in every individual case, there are multiple reasons for understanding that this is not really about Islam, it is not really about religion; there are local or historic reasons which explain what is happening. There is a wish to eliminate the obvious common factor in a way that is almost wilful.”

Predictably, opponents took the opportunity to argue exactly that. For example, the Guardian’s summary quoted a Saudi Daily paper which blamed Israel. Commentator Mehdi Hassan blamed Tony Blair himself for the problem, because of the Iraq war.

Blair went on to argue “The second thing is that there is a deep desire to separate the political ideology represented by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood from the actions of extremists including acts of terrorism.”

He acknowledged the motivation behind these fears, saying “We feel almost that if we identify it in these terms, we’re being anti-Muslim, a sentiment on which the Islamists cleverly play.”

Blair swept these distinctions aside, acknowledging the laudable motives behind such interpretations, but ultimately pinpointing the profound danger posed by the Islamist ideology, and that it is fundamentally incompatible with the modern world.

He urged the West and indeed the entire world, to unite against the ideology Islamic extremism.

Former Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane compared the speech to Churchill’s 1946 Iron Curtain address. Douglas Murray argued in the Spectator that Blair went too far in his efforts to brand Islamism as disconnected from Islam and called on moderate Muslims to help combat radicalism by driving extremists from their communities.

Blair outlined potential foreign policy options for the West vis-a-vis various Middle Eastern countries in order to combat Islamists and to support religiously open and tolerant elements.

In particular he focused on Egypt saying “on the fate of Egypt hangs the future of the region. Here we have to understand plainly what happened. The Muslim Brotherhood government was not simply a bad government. It was systematically taking over the traditions and institutions of the country. The revolt of 30 June 2013 was not an ordinary protest. It was the absolutely necessary rescue of a nation.”

All of these different policies are facets of the same policy: that “across the region we should be standing steadfast by our friends and allies as they try to change their own countries in the direction of reform. Whether in Jordan or the Gulf where they’re promoting the values of religious tolerance and open, rule based economies, or taking on the forces of reaction in the shape of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, we should be supporting and assisting them.”

Perhaps this statement by Blair sums up the message of his keynote speech best: “When we consider the defining challenges of our time, surely this one should be up there along with the challenge of the environment or economic instability.”

 

April 11, 2014
Nightmare: Feds seizing money from children for old debts of their parents
Thomas Lifson
In a case that is a perfect storm illustration of an arbitrary and incompetent federal government running roughshod over its citizens, “a single sentence tucked into the farm bill” had led to outrageous behavior. Marc Fisher of the Washington Post:

A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.

When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.

Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.

Mary Grice is just unlucky, I guess. The feds want some money, and her name popped up, not those of her siblings. Tough luck when you get on the wrong side of the government. Her plight is not unique:

Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years….

The feds are making up their own rules, and justice or personal responsibility are less important than the convenience of the bureaucrats:

Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.

The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.

It doesn’t even matter if the parents took the money and went on a bender, the kids are stuck with the bill, on the theory that they should have received the benefit and it would be too complicated for the bureaucrats if they had to actually, you know, prove that they had benefitted even as an infant. The most important thing, after all, is that the government get the money it wants.

Will anyone in the GOP wake up and start a crusade against this obvious government run amok travesty? Of course, how many of them voted for the “farm bill”?

 

Lois Lerner Held in Contempt!

April 10, 2014 By Jennifer Burke

Lois Lerner has refused to answer questions regarding her role, or the actions of the IRS, in the targeting, harassment, and intimidation scandal of Tea Party and conservative groups. Now, the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, has voted 21–12 to hold her in contempt. Lerner, who was in charge of the tax exempt division in the IRS, made what amounted to an opening statement during her first appearance before the House Oversight Committee before invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Republicans on the committee have contended that Lerner gave up her right to plead the Fifth by delivering an opening statement in which she claimed that she had done nothing wrong. In making a statement, their argument is that they have the right to question her about her claims.

While Democrats on the committee accuse Republicans of election year political maneuvering and McCarthyism, many damaging facts have come out, all of which the left is ignoring, that implicates not only Lerner in this scandal, but also Democrats including Rep. Elijah Cummings.

President Obama has claimed that there is not a smidgen of corruption in the IRS scandal, despite the fact that a full investigation has never been done. The left has declared the scandal to be phony. Democrat Cummings has worked at every turn to obstruct justice and block answers from being found.

Earlier this week, Lerner was referred to the Justice Department by the House Ways and Means Committee for potential prosecution of her actions. If convicted of the crimes for which she has been accused, she could face 11 years in prison. Given Eric Holder’s refusal to conduct a full investigation into the IRS scandal, holding Lerner in contempt would give those targeted by her and the Democrats for their political beliefs at least some justice. The resolution of contempt now moves to a vote in the full House.

 

Daily Digest for Friday
March 28, 2014 Print

THE FOUNDATION
“It is necessary for every American, with becoming energy to endeavor to stop the dissemination of principles evidently destructive of the cause for which they have bled. It must be the combined virtue of the rulers and of the people to do this, and to rescue and save their civil and religious rights from the outstretched arm of tyranny, which may appear under any mode or form of government.” –Mercy Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, 1805

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Pope Meets President
Pope Francis and Barack Obama met for 52 minutes Thursday in an effort to warm relations between the U.S. and the Vatican. But there are more differences than similarities between the two leaders, and even their similarities aren’t really that. For example, while Francis has made caring for the poor a particular focus of his papacy, Obama uses “income inequality” to divide this nation along class lines for political gain. And then there’s the glaring differences on the meaning of marriage and ObamaCare’s contraception mandate, which has forced Catholic organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor to sue the administration over religious liberty violations. In any case, less than an hour with the pope certainly won’t cover for the 20 years Obama spent as a disciple of hate in the racist “Reverend” Jeremiah Wright’s “church.”

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Putin’s Really a Conservative
“Casual indifference [to Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea] … would allow the old way of doing things to regain a foothold in this young century,” Barack Obama warned our European allies. By “old way” he means conservatism. In fact, he said, progressive “ideals have often been threatened by an older, more traditional view of power. … Often this alternative vision roots itself in the notion that by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, some are inherently superior to others and that individual identity must be defined by us versus them.” It is leftists who incessantly engage in identity politics. Conservatives — at least the American brand he so despises — stand for Liberty and Rule of Law. Yes, those are age-old principles, and Obama’s arrogance doesn’t change their validity.

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Looming Immigration Action
Some immigration activists expect Barack Obama to act on his own if Congress doesn’t move by summer on reform. “The president made it clear that three months from now, if there is no legislative action, he will do more using executive authority,” says Lorella Praelli, the director of advocacy and policy for United We Dream, who recently met with the president. Indeed, that’s a signal Obama has been sending frequently. And as we wrote yesterday, the president has already granted de facto amnesty through selective deportation, so any further executive action would only be in character. As icing on the cake, here’s what Joe Biden had to say: “Eleven million people living in the shadows I believe are already American citizens. These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully, and by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.”

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Lies About Lies
Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to lie about lying. He complained, “[T]he junior Senator from Wyoming has come to the floor several times recently talking about the fact that examples that he and other Republicans have given, dealing with ObamaCare, examples that they think are bad, I’ve called lies. Mr. President, that is simply untrue. I have never come to the floor, to my recollection, and I never said a word about any of the examples that Republicans have given regarding ObamaCare and how it’s not very good.” Unfortunately for Reid, there’s this funny thing called video and just one month ago, it captured him … calling these real-life cases “tales, stories made up from whole cloth, lies distorted by the Republicans.” Either Reid has severe short-term memory loss, or he’s a lying liar.

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‘Duck Dynasty’ Take Two
Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” was interviewed by CNN, and, naturally, the subject of his father Phil’s comments back in December came up. He said that GQ asked Phil questions until they got the controversial answer they wanted, and that his father’s answers “made Christmas very interesting for us.” Asked a similar question by CNN, Willie answered, “I believe what the Bible says. You have to read the Bible and make up your own mind. You have to decide, and God will ultimately decide then. We don’t profess to be God, and we certainly don’t profess to be perfect. Because we have our own sins that we deal with.” Simple and humble. His wife Korie added that “anybody who knows [Phil] … any gay, straight, black white, anybody who knows Phil knows that he is about love and his message is about God’s love, God’s grace and his forgiveness, ultimately.” That’s a message the Leftmedia all too often refuses to understand.

RIGHT ANALYSIS
Another ObamaCare Delay, and Nobody’s Surprised
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The Health and Human Services Department announced another delay to ObamaCare enrollment this week — number 38 for anyone keeping score. Of course, the Obama administration sure isn’t; they’re moving the goal post whenever it’s convenient to score political points.

This latest delay places an indefinite hold in the termination date to encourage people to sign up for the program. All anyone has to do now is check a box on the website that states they had trouble signing up in the past. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) praised the move because he believes that “people are not educated on how to use the Internet.” In reality, the problem has more to do with the fact that the White House doesn’t know how to build a website for a lousy and overpriced product. That shouldn’t matter though, because if HHS is to be believed, all the exchange website glitches have been fixed. There really should be no need for this hardship delay. Fortunately, as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explained, “This is not an extension of open enrollment. It’s actually a very logical way to make sure people get through the system.” Well okay then.

But Sebelius told Congress two weeks ago that there would be “no delay beyond March 31.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille went further, saying, “[I]n fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014.” Not that a lack of legal authority stopped them the previous 37 times they’ve changed the law.

The administration is desperate to reach seven million signups for ObamaCare’s first year. After that arbitrary threshold is reached, they can declare victory and move on. It is unclear why this number is so magical, and it may prove utterly meaningless in the end anyway. Seven million signups doesn’t mean that there are seven million insured. In fact, roughly 80% of the six million who have signed up thus far have paid their first month’s premium, meaning they’re enrolled. There is also no hard data on how many of these people were previously uninsured or were just kicked off their perfectly good private insurance plans and pushed into the ObamaCare pool. Basically, a signup is defined as someone who has merely visited the site and put a plan in their virtual shopping cart.

The folly of all these delays is that ObamaCare is now further encouraging people to wait to sign up for insurance only after they get sick. The deadlines have become meaningless. The administration will push them back as many times as necessary to reduce the pain for Democrats in the coming midterms. As with all things in the Obama White House, this is not about the law, it’s about politics.

For Once, an Energy Pivot in the Right Direction
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To the surprise of many, the Obama administration seems to be taking a positive look at exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to European nations, particularly Ukraine, in an effort to cut Russian influence in the region. “The situation in Ukraine proves the need to reinforce energy security in Europe and we are considering new collaborative efforts to achieve this goal. We welcome the prospect of U.S. LNG exports in the future since additional global supplies will benefit Europe and other strategic partners,” said the administration in a release.

For more, visit Right Analysis.

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS
Charles Krauthammer: Obama vs. Putin: The Mismatch
Mona Charen: Obama and Nuclear Terrorism
Jonah Goldberg: Don’t Assume Liberals Always Put Principles Before Profits
L. Brent Bozell & Tim Graham: Obama and the ‘Hipster Elite’
Joe Bastardi: Skepticism on Skeptics
For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “Asked whether he’d misjudged Russia, whether it really is our greatest geopolitical foe, [Obama] disdainfully replied that Russia is nothing but ‘a regional power’ acting ‘out of weakness.’ Where does one begin? Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan were also regional powers, yet managed to leave behind at least 50 million dead. … Russia has run rings around America, from the attempted ingratiation of the ‘reset’ to America’s empty threats of ‘consequences’ were Russia to annex Crimea. Annex Crimea it did. For which the ‘consequences’ have been risible. Numberless 19th- and 20th-century European soldiers died for Crimea. Putin conquered it in a swift and stealthy campaign that took three weeks and cost his forces not a sprained ankle. That’s ‘weakness’? indeed, Obama’s dismissal of Russia as a regional power makes his own leadership of the one superpower all the more embarrassing.”

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American minister Jonathan Mayhew (1720-1766): “To say that subjects in general are not proper judges (of the law) when their governors oppress them and play the tyrant, and when they defend their rights … is as great a treason as ever a man uttered.”

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi: “I am just as skeptical about some mythical idea that we are winning the global warming debate as global warming itself. Why? Because the side that we are ‘debating’ could care less about what the climate is actually doing. That is not their goal, and the so called scientific debate is merely a useful side issue to them. While Rome is burning, Nero is fiddling (with science).”

Comedian Conan O’Brien: “The first lady is in China. During her trip, Michelle Obama fed panda bears. Like most people the first lady feeds, the bears politely ate the bamboo and then had a cheeseburger the minute she left.”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team

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Sotomayor, Kagan: Hobby Lobby Should Drop Insurance, Pay Penalty and Let Employees Use Exchange
March 25, 2014 – 3:01 PM
By Penny Starr

(CNSNews.com) – During oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday which focused on whether the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act violates the free exercise of religion, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan suggested employers who have moral objections to birth control should not provide health care coverage for their employees.
“But isn’t there another choice nobody talks about, which is paying the tax, which is a lot less than a penalty and a lot less than — than the cost of health insurance at all?”

Sotomayor said during the presentation by attorney Paul Clement, who represents Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties, two companies that sued the federal government over the requirement that businesses provide health insurance plans that cover contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs.

“Those employers could choose not to give health insurance and pay not that high a penalty – not that high a tax,” Sotomayor said.

Clement said Hobby Lobby would pay more than $500 million per year in penalties, but Kagan disagreed.

“No, I don’t think that that’s the same thing, Mr. Clement,” Kagan said. “There’s one penalty that is if the employer continues to provide health insurance without this part of the coverage, but Hobby Lobby would choose not to provide health insurance at all.

“And in that case Hobby Lobby would pay $2,000 per employee, which is less that Hobby Lobby probably pays to provide insurance to its employees,” Kagan said. “So there is a choice here. It’s not even a penalty by – in the language of the statute. It’s a payment or a tax. There’s a choice.”

Kagan went on to say that other U.S. businesses are “voluntarily” dropping their health insurance coverage for employees.

“You know Hobby Lobby is paying something right now for the – for the coverage,” Kagan said. “It’s less than what Hobby Lobby is paying for the coverage. There are employers all over the United States that are doing this voluntarily.”

Chief Justice Roberts interjected that this was in opposition to what Hobby Lobby presented in its lawsuit.

“I thought – I thought that part of the religious commitment of the owners was to provide health care for its employees,” Roberts said and Clements agreed.

“Well, if they want to do that, they can just pay a greater salary and let the employees go in on the exchange,” Sotomayor said.

The court seemed divided along ideological lines, with liberal judges – including President Barack Obama’s appointed judges Kagan and Sotomayor – emphasizing the rights of employees to have free birth control as mandated by the law, while others focused on government infringement on religious liberty.

A decision in the case is expected this summer.

- See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/sotomayor-kagan-hobby-lobby-should-drop-insurance-pay-penalty-and-let#sthash.ywVRKuJJ.dpuf

PUTTING A FACE ON RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM

By Ron Ewart
March 19, 2014
NewsWithViews.com

“Humans have the innate propensity to take a moment in time and attempt to preserve that moment as a sacred moment for all time and do so using propaganda, myths, distortions and lies, or by forcing public policy and lobbying for new laws. Such is the state of environmentalists and environmentalism today. They think in terms of short spans of time, as in a generation, or a century. They fail to realize that time is dynamic, ever-changing and ever-evolving over tens of thousands and millions of years. In the process, certain species survive by adapting and new species erupt to fill the changing environment, including humans. Every day species go extinct as eco-systems change in response to natural forces ….. or human forces. That is the story of non-linear dynamic systems on planet Earth. Neither the Earth nor time, stand still. Man can’t freeze time. Man can only temporarily alter it for short periods. What environmentalists also fail to realize is the disastrous affects their policies and laws have on real Americans who must suffer the consequences of environmentalists and government trying to “freeze” time with draconian, unconstitutional environmental laws.” -Ron Ewart

Life on Earth offers many, what are called non-linear dynamic systems. Eco-systems, oceans, the weather, the stock market, commerce and trade, currency exchange, welfare and the poor and the behavior of people, are just a few examples. They are characterized by having many different variables that determine their instantaneous conditions. Each can be altered dramatically with small changes in one or more variables. Government, by far, is the worst perpetrator of messing with non-linear dynamic systems that end up having disastrous unintended consequences. These unintended consequences are abundantly apparent by observing the Obama Care disaster and the irreversible damage it is doing to the American health care system. Radical environmental law is doing the same thing to constitutional safeguards on property rights.

Every week we get calls or e-mails from landowners from all over America who have come up against the consequences of environmental law, passed by governments who are lobbied by radical environmentalists. The foundation of most environmental laws come from the United Nations radical Agenda 21 accord adopted by over 170 nations, including the United States, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The flawed premise of Agenda 21 is that man is a virus that must be rigorously controlled in all forms of behavior, in order to save the planet. That control, defined by Agenda 21, takes no account of American constitutional property rights. In fact, it tramples all over those rights.

Here is a response from one of those “faces” of radical environmentalism, a family that was destroyed by the Army Corps of Engineers, who charged the family with filling in a wetland, a federal offense, but the family wasn’t filling in a wetland. The family had all the permits to do what they were doing but the Army Corps ran rough shod over them in court and their permits were ruled inadmissible. The family lost a going business, their entire savings and their farm to the fight with the Army Corps of Engineers. They were literally left on the street with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The following words from the surviving spouse of this family are heart wrenching.

“Until America becomes aware and fights justice for just “one individual family” being destroyed, how we were and others, it’s evident “the takings” will continue one by one until all is gone and the American dream left desolate and completely lost. After all, it wasn’t their fight ….. it wasn’t their property taken ….. it wasn’t their family destroyed to death!”

“It was corruption at the highest. We fought with truth long and hard. Courts did not want to hear the truth, only the lies that drove their agenda. That’s how the system works. It is entwined with a political agenda wrapped up in lies signed by high-powered attorneys and politicians. Yes, all in the name of fighting against “Private Property Rights”. A twisted unbelievable story but the facts are clear! It’s like how Benghazi is being handled now!””You are right on when you say that most people do not realize how big this issue is, with Americans being taken down one by one. Those that believe that way have not lost like we have. It was 3 years on Feb 9th that my husband passed instantly from so much stress. His hard work and fight all those years in what he believed in, finally overcame him when he had to face his children and what they lost too from the loss of our farm and business. It was too much for him. The stress just sort of ate away at him. He passed in an instant and I know God took him as easy as he could because he worked so hard his whole life for the love of his family and then lost it all. Our sons lost all and he could hardly face it. His faith in God was much but his heart was broken. We tried to start over so we could financially take care of our selves and we couldn’t even finish that when he went to rest. I am still trying to do little by little for myself, still hoping I can find a way to proceed, or get something together for some income.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we can assure you that this is not an isolated story. Here is another.

“In the middle of the night Raven heard clanging and banging near her hayfield, down by the tide gates that kept the Grays River from flooding her property at high tide. The tide gates were installed many decades ago near the mouth of the Columbia River, where it empties into the Pacific Ocean. These tide gates were essential in protecting prime agricultural property from tide and river flooding in the Grays River valley and other valleys feeding the Columbia River.”

“Raven bought her land in 1999, not knowing the horror she would endure at the hands of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) and two non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) known as the Columbia Land Trust (CLT) and another NGO, Ducks Unlimited (DU). Armed with millions of dollars of federal grant money, USFW and the two NGO’s set about to restore the Grays River to its pre-human days, in the pursuit of salmon habitat recovery.”

In Raven’s own words she writes: “CLT, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited and USFW, began immediately. A 36-inch tide gate was replaced with two 13-foot culverts. Sloughs were filled in. In 2005 CLT asked me to give them my land. I refused. More sloughs were filled in, a county road made lower in some areas and higher across my property. Trees with Eagles nests were bulldozed. The only thing left alive, were the mosquitoes. The chum salmon get swooshed onto my fields where they flop around and die. The rivers depth went from 21 feet to 9 feet due to the increased sediment and debris thrown into the river, thus destroying fish spawning areas. Much of their so-called restoration work was done in the dead of night so that it would go unnoticed by the locals.”

“On December 31, 2005 my home, property and barns were flooded. My home and the out buildings stayed immersed in water until March 17 2006. My utility room flooded, destroying my freezer, all the food, linen, and all supplies that were stored there. With each high tide, the water got deeper and the property itself stayed flooded until late June. Almost everything was a total loss. No automobiles ran, classic cars destroyed, a professional automotive shop and all the tools gone. My home had extensive damage. CLT requested I give them the property. Again, I refused.”

“I repaired what I could. It took me two months to get enough money to buy a used van. In the meantime I had to hitchhike to work. My minimal insurance would not cover anything because the insurance company determined my loss was from third-party error. The ‘third-party’ refused my demand for damages.”

“When my property flooded, I had three-to-four foot waves crashing on to my house. It sounded as though I was at the beach. I live 25 miles inland. The water filled my property, then headed east, flooding Altoona highway and the Scott’s Bed & Breakfast. Since USFW and the NGO’s started this salmon recovery project, my property has flooded eleven times. I am out of money and have nothing left to fight with. The government agency and the NGO’s don’t care. It appears to me, that neither does anyone else.”

Raven eventually gave up, abandoned her land and moved to Idaho to live with relatives. This is just one more story out of the thousands of stories just like it, as these kinds of government/private partnerships are terrorizing rural landowners for the sake of fish, wildlife habitat restoration, endangered species and other environmental projects, driven by the United Nations Agenda 21 accord. Each one of these two stories is true because we have personally talked with both of them.

Multiply these two stories by tens of thousands and you just might get the size and scope of the injustice being inflicted on rural landowners in the name of radical environmentalism. We could tell you many more such stories. The fact is, constitutional protected property rights under Agenda 21 have become meaningless, as the onslaught of environmental carnage through law and bureaucratic rule making continue unabated and the hapless American rural landowner, acting alone, is powerless to stop it.

As a tribute to these forgotten faces of radical environmentalism, we have prepared a 12-minute video based on one of our last year’s article with the same name. It is a must viewing for any urban or rural landowner.

“Rural America In The Cross Hairs”

These same types of individual injustices being inflicted on rural landowners are also being inflicted on tens of thousands of American taxpayers who find themselves in the jaws of the IRS. In the hopes we can provide some clarity to the IRS dilemma, be sure to visit our IRS information website HERE.

© 2014 Ron Ewart — All Rights Reserved

Ron Ewart, a nationally known author and speaker on freedom and property issues and author of his weekly column, “In Defense of Rural America”, is the President of the National Association of Rural Landowners, (NARLO) a non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington State and dedicated to restoring, maintaining and defending property rights for urban and rural landowners. Mr. Ewart can be reached by e-mail.

Website: http://www.narlo.org

E-Mail: info@narlo.org
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ObamaCare’s Latest Legal Challenge
Can the White House simply declare that the federal government is the 51st state?

March 23, 2014 6:08 p.m. ET
A defining feature of President Obama’s second term is his willfulness in defying limits on executive power to suit his political goals, and no more so than with the Affordable Care Act. The judiciary is the last check on those abuses, and this week it will have another opportunity to vindicate the rule of law.

On Tuesday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear one of the more important legal challenges to ObamaCare’s lawless implementation. Unlike the challenge to the individual insurance mandate, Halbig v. Sebelius involves no great questions of constitutional interpretation. The plaintiffs are merely asking the judges to tell the Administration to faithfully execute the plain language of the statute that Congress passed and President Obama signed.

***
The Affordable Care Act—at least the version that passed in 2010—instructed the states to establish insurance exchanges, and if they didn’t the Health and Human Services Department was authorized to build federal exchanges. The law says that subsidies will be available only to people who enroll “through an Exchange established by the State.” The question in Halbig is whether these taxpayer subsidies can be distributed through the federal exchanges, as the Administration insists.

Prior to passage, Democrats were divided over the structure of the exchanges, with liberals favoring a national clearinghouse and moderates state control. The federalists won and conditioned the subsidies on state-based exchanges.

This was no accident. The federal government cannot commandeer the sovereign states under the Constitution, so Democrats created an incentive for Governors to participate voluntarily. If they didn’t cooperate by taking the quid of the exchanges, they would deny their constituents the quo of eligibility to claim billions of dollars worth of benefits. The other Democratic goal was to have the states share in the workload of implementation, instead of concentrating everything within HHS.

But also prior to passage, Democrats were convinced that the ObamaCare opposition would melt away as Americans learned to love the law. That did not happen. Some 34 states opted out, and two others couldn’t meet all the HHS mandates by deadline. So the Administration faced a choice: HHS could either obey the law, deny subsidies to the two-thirds of the U.S. population living in states with federal exchanges and thus greatly diminish Mr. Obama’s legacy project. Or it could improvise a workaround—which is what it did.

***
In 2012, HHS and the Internal Revenue Service arrogated to themselves the power to rewrite the law and published a regulation simply decreeing that subsidies would be available through the federal exchanges too. The IRS devoted only a single paragraph to its deviation from the statute, even though the “established by a State” language appears nine times in the law’s text. The rule claims that an exchange established on behalf of a state is a “federally established state-established exchange,” as if HHS is the 51st state.

Careful spadework into ObamaCare’s legislative history by Case Western Reserve law professor Jonathan Adler and Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute has demonstrated that this jackalope rule-making was contrary to Congress’s intent. For example, the bill appropriated a mere $304 million for HHS to run exchanges. The actual cost turned out to be $3.3 billion as state after state dropped out.

But legislative intent is irrelevant in matters of statutory interpretation. All that matters is the plain meaning of the words of the law. In administrative law, agencies are granted wide deference to interpret and resolve ambiguous statutes under the Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council standard, but here the text is clear, consistent and tightly worded: Subsidies in state-based exchanges only. There is also the so-called Yazoo standard, from a 1899 case, that holds that tax benefits “must be expressed in clear and unambiguous terms” and “unquestionably and conclusively” established.

This is meant to protect taxpayer rights and the integrity of the Treasury, which the IRS and HHS are eviscerating. If the Administration can rewrite the law, why not extend subsidies to, say, people whose incomes are currently too high to qualify? As it happens, though ObamaCare says subsidies will only be available to people who enroll through an exchange, HHS has already unilaterally extended subsidies to people who enroll outside of an exchange to compensate for its botched rollout.

The Administration’s dozens of ObamaCare rewrites and delays have gone mostly unchallenged because they tend to insulate people from harm and thus no one has standing to sue. But the availability of subsidies triggers liability for other ObamaCare penalties, such as the individual and employer mandates. Thus in this case the HHS-IRS rule injures people who would otherwise be exempt.

Federal judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton appointee, ruled in favor of the Administration in January. But the three-judge D.C. Circuit panel may be another story. It includes Judges Thomas Griffith (a George W. Bush nominee), A. Raymond Randolph ( George H.W. Bush ) and Harry Edwards ( Jimmy Carter ). The fear of an adverse panel ruling is one reason that Senate Democrats broke the filibuster rule to pack the D.C. Circuit with three more liberals this year. If the Administration loses at the panel level, it will ask for an en banc ruling that it thinks it will win and thus delay any Supreme Court judgment by many months.

Fear of legal defeat also explains why the Administration is suddenly claiming that the appeals court lacks the jurisdiction to invalidate its interpretation of ObamaCare. Last week the Justice Department submitted a so-called 28(J) letter, declaring that because Halbig is not a class action, any adverse ruling only applies to the named plaintiffs.

In other words, even if the court finds that the Administration is acting illegally, it cannot strike down the IRS-HHS rule and the executive branch will continue to ignore both Congress’s law and the law of the courts. There are few if any precedents for such a remarkable argument.

***
After Chief Justice John Roberts upheld ObamaCare, the refrain on the political left was “it’s the law,” but the last year has proven that the White House thinks the law is whatever it says it is. Mr. Obama has conceded that “obviously we didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law.” The right and only lawful way to repair ObamaCare is through another act of Congress. In Halbig, the judiciary can remind the Obama Administration of this basic constitutional truth.

Photo by Pool photo by Justin Benson-Cooper

WORLD NEWS

03.21.14

Was MH370 Carrying Killer Cargo?

Malaysia admitted lithium-ion batteries that have spontaneously exploded on other flights were being carried on the missing plane.
Malaysian officials have confirmed that a consignment of lithium-ion batteries was in the cargo hold of Flight MH370. “These are not regarded as dangerous goods,” said the CEO of Malaysian Airlines, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, “and were packed as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.”

Little attention has been given to what was in the cargo hold of the Boeing 777, yet this would automatically be of interest to accident investigators. In this case the continued emphasis by the Malaysians on actions by the pilots and suspicions of a hijacking seem to have skewed the priorities.

The International Air Transport Association, IATA has pointed out that millions of lithium-ion batteries are safely carried by air every year. (The International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, sets recommended safety standards while IATA represents airlines)

In the U.S., however, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Security and Hazardous Materials Safety keeps a list of incidents involving these batteries. They include:

The hands of a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight burned when spare lithium-ion batteries for a cell phone melted the zip-top bag in which they were carried, breached the passenger’s carry-on bag and produced smoke and flames.

A package of 18 lithium-ion batteries melted through their plastic wrap and set fire to their outer package at the UPS flight center in Louisville, Kentucky.

A FedEx pilot was taking the jump seat in the cockpit of a flight from Memphis when a lithium-ion battery in a flashlight carried in his backpack caught fire while the airplane was still at the gate.

The FAA cautions that their published list of scores of incidents does not represent all the information collected nor “all investigative or enforcement actions taken.”

As became apparent during a National Transportation Safety Board hearing last year into fires in the larger lithium-ion batteries used to power the systems of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, even the manufacturers concede that the technology has not matured enough for them fully to understand how spontaneous meltdowns occur, either in a single cell or when one cell meltdown breaches its casing and spreads to another cell.

We don’t know what else was in the cargo bays of Flight MH370 but during any investigation by the NTSB everything on the cargo manifest would be carefully scrutinized and, given their record and the NTSB’s recent technical investigation of them, lithium-ion batteries would receive particular scrutiny. At the very least, until proved otherwise, cargo should be given equal weight with other scenarios as the possible cause of an accident.

International flights most likely to be carrying lithium-ion batteries are those originating in the countries that manufacture them, which include Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan.

Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg, via Getty

Meanwhile, the search for the wreckage of the 777 ended a second day without finding any. This hunt involves an unusual alliance of intelligence, military and civilian resources.

Crucial to the first step of the search are the most heavily veiled of assets, the satellites. The search is being conducted in a part of the world, Asia, where the United States and China are devoting their most secret resources to watching each other.

Air Commodore John McGarry of the Royal Australian Air Force was carefully cryptic when discussing the images which have now concentrated the search far out into the ocean southwest of Australia. “The imagery has been progressively captured by satellites passing over various areas,” he said. No indication of whose satellites they were.

DigitalGlobe Inc, a Colorado company working for the U.S. government collected the images on Sunday.  They passed them to the Australians, who released them late Wednesday EST.

The clock here is ticking with some urgency: beacons attached to the Boeing 777’s flight data recorders are already nearly half way through their effective battery life of 30 days. Not only that, but the pings sent out from the beacons to guide searchers to the location have an effective range of only five miles.

This might seem to be an inexcusably long lag in response time but it’s not as simple as that. Commodore McGarry pointed out that the output from the satellite has to be analyzed frame by frame, and covers a large area.

The Australians speak with awe of what they call the Great Southern Ocean.

Just how seriously this information was treated is indicated by the fact that ships and airplanes began to be moved into the southern Indian Ocean on Tuesday.

Last week the Chinese released a satellite image of what they suggested might be wreckage from the Boeing 777 in the South China Sea. It was soon clear that it was not, and the Chinese then said that releasing the image had been a mistake.

The resolution of the images that are publicly released is probably a lot less than in the originals. The Chinese images were notably indistinct and those released by the Australians this week are little better. Sharpness of the image is an indication of how advanced the satellites are and the publicly released quality is quite likely degraded for security reasons.

The effectiveness of the search is heavily dependent on military airplanes given the mission of first confirming that what the satellite has pinpointed is actually the wreckage. There is a large area to be scoured and the amount of time the airplane can spend over its assigned zone is critical.

In the current search there is a marked disparity between the Australian and United States resources. The Australians are able to spend only two hours in the search zone. They are using Lockheed Orion P3s, which have been in service for 30 years and are derived from a 1960s airliner, the Lockheed Electra. Their fuel reserves allow them four hours to get there and another four to return. The United States is deploying the Orion’s successor, the Boeing P8 Poseidon that is derived from the Boeing 737 and can spend four hours in the search zone.

The age of the airplane does not, however, determine the sophistication of the search equipment on board. In their normal assignments they are submarine hunters. They are loaded with state-of-the art sonar and radar equipment. The search for the remains of Flight 370 is not simply a case of binoculars out of the window, although they play a part. Radar can sweep the zone as the airplanes fly a pattern of grids.

Right now 29 airplanes and 18 ships are involved in combing the area where on Sunday the satellite found the debris. The Boeing 777 disappeared eight days before. If the debris is from the airplane, currents and winds would have carried it far from the point of impact. That means that there will be two debris fields, one shifting all the time and one at the bottom of the ocean at a point yet to be found.

The Australians speak with awe of what they call the Great Southern Ocean. It is a remote and hostile place. Wave heights can be forty feet or more, the ocean bed is deep, between 10,000 and 15,000 feet, and the weather can be awful. The planet has few more inhospitable places than where MH370 likely went down.

 

America’s Incredible Shrinking Navy

Only 35% of the U.S. Navy’s entire fleet is deployed, fewer than 100 ships, including just three aircraft carriers. 

By

STEVE COHEN
March 20, 2014 7:35 p.m. ET
Americans may be war-weary after Iraq and Afghanistan. But the world is still a hostile place, and the U.S.Navy is stretched too thin. And in a new sleight of hand, the Obama administration has changed what it considers a warship when reporting the size of the Navy’s “battle force.” From now on it will include the two hospital ships, Mercy and Comfort, 10 small coastal patrol vessels and a high-speed transport. Add those, subtract a few minesweepers, and voilà—the Navy fleet has grown to 293 from 283 ships.

Most of the new additions are lightly armed coastal-patrol craft and not true oceangoing ships. Originally designed to carry Navy SEALs and other special-operations forces, these 179-foot ships turned out to be inadequate for that role. Instead, armed with machine guns, they can be used to support “low intensity conflicts.” They were launched in the early 1990s and recalled in 2010 to deal with fatigue damage to their hulls. Their military role is questionable and they’re well past their expiration date, yet they sail on for public-relations purposes.

The Navy takes great pride in its humanitarian relief work, and its recruiting commercials feature photos of tsunami and earthquake survivors receiving food, water and medical care delivered by aircraft carriers, amphibious command ships, and of course, the two hospital ships. Such soft power diplomacy is an essential part of our foreign-policy strategy.

But substituting hospital ships, a former car ferry (which the Navy itself refers to as a noncombatant) and over-the-hill coastal craft for capital ships is delusional when calculating the battle force. So is the boast that the U.S. Navy has an 11 aircraft-carrier fleet.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is enveloped in fog as it sits in its berth in San Diego, California February 11, 2014. Reuters

Last month I was flown onto the USS Carl Vinson while its crew conducted training exercises about 150 miles off San Diego in the Pacific. Commissioned in 1982, the Vinson is one the Navy’s oldest nuclear-powered carriers. In a briefing before the flight to the carrier, I asked how many carriers the Navy had deployed world-wide that day, and how many it could deploy within 30 days. A Naval officer said three were deployed that day, and one more could get under way within a month—a far cry from the 11-carrier fleet mandated by Congress.

The Navy is supposed to be “forward-deployed” to provide the president with tools powerful enough to deal with potential threats and trouble spots. Syria’s civil war confounds us, Russia’s Crimean adventure keeps us awake at night, and Egypt’s revolution is only a little more settled than Libya’s. Consequently, the Pentagon is wisely keeping the carrier USS George H.W. Bush plus three guided-missile cruisers, six guided-missile destroyers and a frigate in the Mediterranean.

The rest of the world isn’t unpatrolled, but it is under-patrolled. Consider the so-called Asian pivot. Without carriers it is a meaningless phrase to those with territorial ambitions. North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests continue. China’s aggressive posturing over the Senkaku Islands and other Japanese holdings in the East China Sea is matched by its development of a blue-water fleet. We have to hope that the Pacific will stay calm until 2015, when the U.S. is scheduled to send a carrier there.

The Navy’s role isn’t limited to carrier operations. Pirates still menace shipping and can be thwarted only by naval power. Piracy has been significantly reduced off Somalia, but a new threat has emerged off the coast of West Africa. In 2012, there were 86 pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea alone. And 126 more in that other favored hunting ground of pirates, Southeast Asia’s Strait of Malacca.

Some 90% of the world’s trade moves by sea. Much of that can be disrupted by attacks on a handful of choke-points readily apparent to pirates, terrorists and rogue nations: the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal among others. The Strait of Hormuz is only 21 miles wide, yet more than one-third of the world’s seaborne oil passes through it. The damage to the world’s economy would be great if it or any of the others were closed.

The ability to ensure that these sea lanes remain open and safe is far from clear. International coalitions can go a long way toward policing the seas, but coalitions require an American contribution. With the U.S. Navy arguably at its smallest since 1917, we don’t have many ships that are actually at sea. Only 35% of the Navy’s entire fleet is deployed, fewer than 100 ships.

Presidents facing international crises have long asked, “Where are the carriers?” Calling hospital ships warships may satisfy Washington bean counters but it won’t deter creative adversaries. Counting support and coastal vessels as capital ships that can project real power has serious consequences. America’s ability to join coalitions, lead them, or take independent action is compromised. No commander in chief should be deprived of these meaningful options—even if the president has little intention of using them.

Mr. Cohen, an attorney at KDLM in New York, is a former director of the U.S. Naval Institute.

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