Tag Archive: government


Wal-Mart Cuts Health Benefits for Some Part-Timers
NEW YORK — Oct 7, 2014, 3:36 PM ET
By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO AP Retail Writer
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to eliminate health insurance coverage for some of its part-time U.S. employees in a move aimed at controlling rising health care costs of the nation’s largest private employer.

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that starting Jan. 1, it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees, or about 5 percent of Wal-Mart’s total part-time workforce, but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011.

The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. It also comes a day after Wal-Mart said it is teaming up with an online health insurance agency called DirectHealth.com to help customers shop for health insurance plans.

“We had to make some tough decisions,” Sally Welborn, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of benefits, told The Associated Press.

Welborn said she didn’t know how much Wal-Mart will save by dropping part-time employees, but added that the company will use a third-party organization to help part-time workers find insurance alternatives: “We are trying to balance the needs of (workers) as well as the costs of (workers) as well as the cost to Wal-Mart.”

The announcement comes after Wal-Mart said far more U.S. employees and their families are enrolling in its health care plans than it had expected following rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which requires big companies to offer coverage to employees working 30 hours or more a week or face a penalty. It also requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Wal-Mart, which employs about 1.4 million full- and part-time U.S. workers, says about 1.2 million Wal-Mart workers and family members combined now participate in its health care plan. And that has had an impact on Wal-Mart’s bottom line. Wal-Mart now expects the impact of higher health care costs to be about $500 million for the current fiscal year, or about $170 million higher than the original estimate of about $330 million that it gave in February.

But Wal-Mart is among the last of its peers to cut health insurance for some part-time workers. In 2013, 62 percent of large retail chains didn’t offer health care benefits to any of its part-time workers, according to Mercer, a global consulting company. That’s up from 56 percent in 2009.

“Retailers who offer part-time benefits are more of an exception than the rule,” says Beth Umland, director of research for health and benefits at Mercer.

Wal-Mart has been scaling back eligibility for part-time workers over the past few years, though. In 2011, Wal-Mart said it was cutting backing eligibility of its coverage of part-time workers working less than 24 hours a week. And then in 2013, it announced a threshold of 30 hours or under.

Taking into account the latest move, Wal-Mart declined to say what percentage of total part-time workers will not have company-sponsored health care coverage starting next year.

Wal-Mart, like most big companies, also is increasing premiums, and out-of-pocket costs that employees pay, to counter rising health care costs. Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that it’s raising premiums for all of its full-time and part-time workers: For a basic plan, of which 40 percent of its workers are enrolled, the premiums will go up to $21.90 per pay period, up from $18.40, starting Jan. 1.

Wal-Mart employees and their dependents will pay slightly more out-of-pocket for their care next year because the retailer has lowered the percentage of the bill it will cover for doctor visits, tests, and other services to 75 percent from 80 percent after the deductible is paid. But Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove also noted that the company hasn’t changed the maximum amounts that people will have to pay out of pocket annually.

———————————

Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

Ebola Cases Could Reach 1.4 Million Within Four Months, C.D.C. Estimates
By DENISE GRADYSEPT. 23, 2014
Photo

Yet another set of ominous projections about the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was released Tuesday, in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave worst- and best-case estimates for Liberia and Sierra Leone based on computer modeling.

In the worst-case scenario, the two countries could have a total of 21,000 cases of Ebola by Sept. 30 and 1.4 million cases by Jan. 20 if the disease keeps spreading without effective methods to contain it. These figures take into account the fact that many cases go undetected, and estimate that there are actually 2.5 times as many as reported.

James Hamilton said of burying Ebola victims in Sierra Leone, “We will need much more space.”Fresh Graves Point to Undercount of Ebola Toll SEPT. 22, 2014
Health Agency’s New Assessment of Epidemic Is More Dire StillSEPT. 22, 2014
In the best-case model, the epidemic in both countries would be “almost ended” by Jan. 20, the report said. Success would require conducting safe funerals at which no one touches the bodies, and treating 70 percent of patients in settings that reduce the risk of transmission. The report said the proportion of patients now in such settings was about 18 percent in Liberia and 40 percent in Sierra Leone.

What Are the Chances Ebola Will Spread in the United States?
Questions and answers on the scale of the outbreak and the science of the Ebola virus.

The caseload projections are based on data from August, but Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the C.D.C. director, said the situation appeared to have improved since then because more aid had begun to reach the region.

“My gut feeling is, the actions we’re taking now are going to make that worst-case scenario not come to pass,” Dr. Frieden said in a telephone interview. “But it’s important to understand that it could happen.”

Outside experts said the modeling figures were in line with estimates by others in the field.

“It’s a nice job,” said Ira Longini, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida who has also done computer modeling of the epidemic. “It summarizes the extent of the problem and what has to happen to deal with it.”

Bryan Lewis, an epidemiologist at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, agreed that the estimates were reasonable, perhaps even a bit low compared with those generated by other models. He said that if some of the latest data from the World Health Organization is plugged into the C.D.C. model, “the very large numbers of estimated cases are, unfortunately, even larger.”

The current official case count is 5,843, including 2,803 deaths, according to the W.H.O.

It’s unfortunate that such virulent, fatal diseases manifest themselves in socially ‘invisible’ populations and the subsequent effect on ambitions to find a cure. Think 1981 and H.I.V./AIDS.
The C.D.C. estimates omit Guinea, which has been hit hard, because the epidemic struck in waves that could not be modeled.

The W.H.O. published its own revised estimates of the outbreak on Monday, predicting more than 20,000 cases by Nov. 2 if control does not improve. That figure is more conservative than the one from the C.D.C., but the W.H.O. report also noted that many cases were unreported and said that without effective help, the three most affected countries would soon be reporting thousands of cases and deaths per week. It said its projections were similar to those from the C.D.C.

The W.H.O. report also raised, for the first time, the possibility that the disease would not be stopped but could become endemic in West Africa, meaning that it could become a constant presence there.

President Obama’s promise last week to send 3,000 military personnel to Liberia and to build 17 hospitals there, each with 100 beds, was part of the solution, Dr. Frieden said. But it was not clear when those hospitals would be ready, or who would staff them.

Dr. Frieden said the Defense Department had already delivered parts of a 25-bed unit that would soon be set up to treat health workers who become infected, a safety measure he said was important to help encourage health professionals to volunteer. He said that more aid groups were also arriving in the region to set up treatment centers, and that a “surge” of help would “break the back of the epidemic.”

Monrovia, the Liberian capital, is facing a widespread Ebola epidemic, and as the number of infected grows faster than hospital capacity, some patients wait outside near death. Video by Ben C. Solomon on Publish Date September 11, 2014.
Dr. Jack Chow, a professor of global health at Carnegie Mellon University and a former W.H.O. official, said, “The surge only becomes realized when those beds are up and operating and the workers are delivering care.”

He added, “If even the medium case comes to pass, with, say, 700,000 cases by January, the epidemic will quickly overwhelm the capabilities that the U.S. plans to send.”

The W.H.O. reported that a new center had just opened in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, with 120 beds for treatment and 30 for triage. Patients were already lined up at the door.

The report from the C.D.C. acknowledged that case counts were rising faster than hospital beds could be provided. It said that in the meantime, different types of treatment would be used, based in homes or community centers, with relatives and others being given protective gear to help prevent the disease from spreading.

The United States government is also sending 400,000 kits containing gloves and disinfectant to Liberia to help families take care of patients at home.

At least one aid group in Liberia is already shifting its focus to teaching people about home care and providing materials to help because there are not enough hospital beds for the sick. Ken Isaacs, a vice president of the group, Samaritan’s Purse, said, “I believe inevitably this is going to move into people’s houses, and the notion of home-based care has to play a more prominent role.”

“Where are they going to go?” he said.

Though providing home-care kits may seem like a pragmatic approach, some public health authorities said they were no substitute for beds in isolation or containment wards.

But Dr. Frieden said that home care had been used to help stamp out smallpox in Africa in the 1960s. The caregivers were often people who had survived smallpox themselves and were immune to it. Some experts have suggested that Ebola survivors might also be employed to care for the sick.

Dr. D. A. Henderson, who led the W.H.O.’s smallpox eradication program, said that local people had been paid to help in the campaign.

“We recruited a lot of people to stand guard at huts with smallpox,” said Dr. Henderson, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Pittsburgh. “The important thing was to know they got paid.”

He added: “We gave money and food to families who had smallpox so they didn’t have to go out and beg, and they didn’t have to go to the market and potentially infect people. What can you do? If you don’t have food, you’ve got to leave the house and go out. Money can play a useful role.”

Donald G. McNeil Jr. contributed reporting.

Oklahoma beheading: FBI probing suspect’s recent conversion to Islam
Published September 27, 2014FoxNews.com
Facebook3327 Twitter1412 Email Print

NOW PLAYING
FBI investigating workplace beheading at Okla. food facility
FBI officials are investigating a beheading at an Oklahoma food distribution center after co-workers said the suspect tried to convert them to Islam after his own recent conversion.

The suspect, Alton Nolen, 30, was recently fired from Vaughan Foods in Moore prior to Thursday’s attack. Moore Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Lewis told KFOR that Nolen drove to the front of the business and struck a vehicle before walking inside. He then attacked Colleen Hufford, 54, stabbing her several times before severing her head. He also stabbed another woman, 43-year-old Traci Johnson, at the plant.

Lewis said Mark Vaughan, the company’s chief operating officer and a reserve county deputy, shot Nolen as he was stabbing Johnson, who remains hospitalized in stable condition Friday.

“He’s a hero in this situation,” Lewis told the station. “It could have gotten a lot worse.”

Nolen was apparently attacking employees at random, authorities said. The motive for the attack is unclear, but FBI officials confirmed to Fox News that they were assisting the Moore Police Department in investigating Nolen’s background and whether his recent conversion to Islam was somehow linked to the crime.

The police department issued a statement saying, “After conducting interviews with Nolen’s co-workers, information was obtained that he recently started trying to convert several employees to the Muslim religion. Due to the manner of death and the initial statements of co-workers and other initial information, the Moore Police Department requested the assistance of the FBI in conducting a background investigation on Nolan.”

Nolen, according to state corrections records, was convicted in January 2011 of multiple felony drug offenses, assault and battery on a police officer and escape from detention. He was released from prison in March 2013.

Saad Mohammad, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, told NewsOK.com that leaders of the society’s mosque are taking security precautions to protect Muslims who gather there from any potential retaliatory violence.

Mohammad said any anti-Muslim sentiments local residents might have could be heightened due to the beheadings and violence overseas by Islamic State militants.

“They have this ISIS thing on their minds and now this guy has brought it to America,” Mohammad told the website.

Lewis said he does not yet know what charges will be filed against Nolen, adding that police are waiting until he’s conscious to arrest him. Authorities said he had no prior connection to either woman.

Moore Police Department officials have released 911 calls from the incident, OKCFox.com reports. During the recording, a caller tells an operator that a person is attacking someone in the building. Several gunshots can be heard in the background at the end of the call.

A Vaughan spokeswoman said the company was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack.

» ‘Big Three’ ignoring murder linked to domestic terrorism – why?                                                                                          Major television networks have refused to report on what clearly appears to be an act of domestic terrorism committed by a self-proclaimed homegrown jihadist.

As of late last week, Fox News Channel and CNN had been the only television networks to report on the brutal murder of New Jersey college student Brendan Tevlin. Ali Muhammad Brown, who was arrested on July 18, told authorities that he committed the murder to avenge U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prosecutors say Brown is a devout Muslim enraged by U.S. military intervention in the Islamic world, which he referred to as “evil.” It remains unclear if Brown, who was once linked to a suspected terror financing scheme, was a “lone wolf” inspired by jihadist rants or part of a larger plot.

Geoff Dickens, deputy director of research at the Media Research Center, questions why the ABC, NBC, and CBS haven’t been reporting on the murder.

brendan_tevlin”Is this a terrorist act or is it not?” he asks. “And if it is, clearly it should deserve to have network stories. So far we haven’t seen any stories on Brendan Tevlin’s death on any of the [broadcast] networks.”

While the two cable networks have been covering the story regularly, Dickens says the lack of coverage on the broadcast networks points to the same old politically correct mindset of liberals.

“This is where the political correctness almost becomes really dangerous,” he tells OneNewsNow. “Because if it’s not being properly reported, then how are you going to possibly defend against it?”

Dickens says with the suspect’s background and his confession, it is difficult to understand how the networks are not all over this story as an act of domestic terrorism.

—-

Copyright OneNewsNow.com. Reprinted with permission.

GAI: Obama Skipped Over Half His Daily Intel Briefs
Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 08:28 PM
By Drew MacKenzie

In the fallout over President Barack Obama blaming the intelligence community for the rise of the Islamic State, a new report has surfaced showing that he attended less than half of his daily intel briefings.

The Government Accountability Institute, an investigative research organization, said the president went to only 42.1 percent of his intelligence meetings, known as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB, in the 2,079 days of his presidency through Monday, according to Breitbart.

The GAI report also revealed during his first term he attended 42.4 percent of the briefings, while Obama has even reduced that number in his second term, with just a 41.3 percent attendance record.

During an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the president claimed that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had failed to warn the Obama administration that the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, was gaining a strong foothold in Iraq and Syria.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said.

The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake alleged on Monday that as long as eight months ago Obama’s senior intelligence officials had alerted the White House that ISIS was growing in power while attempting to create a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

“In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq,” wrote Lake, adding that members of the Defense department were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s statement.

“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s (lying),” a former senior Pentagon official who knew of the threat posed by Sunni extremists told the Beast.

Breitbart noted that following his controversial TV comments Obama has been accused by people in the intelligence community of lacking interest in “live” PDBs, which allow the president to ask follow-up questions, demand further information and challenge intel suppositions.

Meanwhile, an Obama national security staffer told the Daily Mail that the PDBs have included threat assessment on ISIS since 2012.

“It’s pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,” the staffer said. “He gets them in writing.

“Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate predictions about (ISIS) have been showing up in the Oval Office since before the election.”

The White House said that the president prefers to read his intelligence briefings on his iPad instead of having in-person briefings, according to reports.

But Breitbart said, “The question remains whether a 42 percent attendance record on daily intelligence briefings is good enough for most Americans.”

Daily Digest
Sep. 22, 2014

THE FOUNDATION
“With those who wish to think amiss of me, I have learned to be perfectly indifferent; but where I know a mind to be ingenuous, and to need only truth to set it to rights, I cannot be passive.” –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Abigail Adams, 1804

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Khorasan: The New Jihadist Threat
There is a brewing threat to the U.S. that may be even greater than ISIL. It’s known as “Khorasan,” and it’s a subgroup of veteran al-Qaida terrorists. According to The Washington Post, “Khorasan hasn’t arrived to overthrow Bashar al-Assad. It’s not interested in laying claim to great swaths of land and resources, as is the Islamic State. Rather, American officials told the Associated Press, its members have come from Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan to exploit the flood of Western jihadists who now have skin in the fight – and possess very valuable passports. According to the AP, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri dispatched this deputy to recruit those Western fighters, who have a better chance of escaping scrutiny at airports and could place bombs onto planes.” James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, confirmed Khorasan’s existence for the first time Thursday. He warns that “in terms of threat[s] to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger” as ISIL. More so, perhaps, because while ISIL wants territory in the Middle East, Khorasan wants another 9/11, and they have the homegrown personnel to make that possible. More…1

Lois Lerner Speaks: ‘I Didn’t Do Anything Wrong’
“I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country,” Lois Lerner said during her two-hour conversation with Politico. The interview paints the former IRS official as a department head who lost control of her division, whose blunt, apolitical actions earned the animosity of the very political Washington theater. The interview is Lerner’s stage. We learn that Nice Lerner rescued animals after Hurricane Katrina, and she struggled at the IRS when she switched careers from a dental hygienist to government work. Politico also tells of her gardening, her supportive husband and the death threats she received. “Regardless of whatever else happens, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did,” she said. Two things are clear: First, Lerner has a point of view justifying her political targeting that she has yet to explain ever since she pleaded the Fifth2. Second, her actions and the actions of her department broke the trust America placed in its tax system and we still need an explanation. More…3

Students Banned From Distributing Constitutions
The Young Americans for Freedom’s (YAF) fight for free speech on the campus of Penn State illustrates just how restrictive free expression can be on college campuses. On Constitution Day, the administration told YAF students to take down their table near an entrance to a building because it wasn’t in the right “free speech zone.” YAF was distributing copies of the Constitution and information on the school’s restrictive free speech policies. YAF members protested. In a video4, one student is recorded as saying, “We’ve seen people’s tables out here all the time,” implying the school’s administration selectively enforces the rules. In April, the students stood with signs5 in a zone where speech was not authorized, protesting the policies. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 59% of the colleges6 in the nation clearly and substantially restrict student speech. Administrators need to pick up a copy of the Constitution. More…7

Michelle Obama on ‘How Different Our Country Looks’
In 2008, Michelle Obama declared, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” The reason for her pride was that her husband was polling well and on his way to the presidency. Now, she’s proud of her husband for how much he’s changed our country. “Just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today,” she crowed. “Today, when folks ask me whether I still believe everything we said about change and hope back in 2008, I tell them that I believe it more strongly now than ever before, because, look, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.” Unfortunately, every change her husband has brought has been wrong for our country – we’re more in debt, less free and weaker in the world. No wonder Michelle is proud. More…8

A Retired Soldier on the Dearth of Black Officers
Recently, the political-correctness police noticed there aren’t enough black officers in the Army9. A retired soldier writing as “Petronius Arbiter” says, “This should be a surprise to no one. But don’t go blaming the Army for the inability to solve this issue. This is a multi-faceted problem and one which must be solved involving all aspects of American society: Army, academia, family, and community leadership.” Recruitment of black soldiers isn’t the problem, he argues, and in the end there’s probably not a lot the Army can actually do. “My take on this,” he says, “is that the Army is just going to have to endure with whatever happens. It is highly doubtful anything can be done to produce more black or other minority officers in combat arms. And guess what? The same issue, but probably on a greater scale, is going to occur with women, should the decision be made to go that direction.” Because the politically correct will get there. More…10

For more, visit Right Hooks11.

RIGHT ANALYSIS
Arming ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels Is Questionable
Heeding the call to do something about ISIL, Congress passed and Barack Obama signed a measure12 approving weapons and training for “moderate” Syrian rebels. These moderates are ostensibly fighting against the new Islamic upstarts but are also sworn to overthrow Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. Obama has repeatedly assured Americans that no boots would be on the ground in Syria (or Iraq, for that matter), sending out National Security Advisor Susan Rice to state, “This program will be hosted outside of Syria in partnership with neighboring countries.” Rice added the process would take “many months,” which the administration hopes will be enough time to sort out all of the various regional players.

But there is plenty of skepticism – even from the CIA13 – that we’re training the wrong people. Given the fact that thousands of Iraqi soldiers we previously trained either turned tail or jumped onto the Islamic State locomotive as it steamed its way across northern and western Iraq earlier this summer, can we really expect that the Syrian rebels we choose to train won’t do the same if the tides of war turn against them? Or that they’ll focus on the correct target14?

Meanwhile, top military brass expressed frustration15 with the lack of options being presented by Obama. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” warned retired Marine Gen. James Mattis last week. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.” Obama’s promise not to put troops back into Iraq or directly expand the Long War to Syria seems to be aimed more at placating his leftist base than advancing America’s strategic interests.

Indeed, Obama doubled down on that promise again in his weekly address16. “Going forward, we won’t hesitate to take action against these terrorists in Iraq or in Syria,” he said. “But this is not America’s fight alone. I won’t commit our troops to fighting another ground war in Iraq, or in Syria. It’s more effective to use our capabilities to help partners on the ground secure their own country’s futures. We will use our air power. We will train and equip our partners. We will advise and we will assist. And we’ll lead a broad coalition of nations who have a stake in this fight. This isn’t America versus ISIL. This is the people of that region versus ISIL. It’s the world versus ISIL.” And he isn’t George W. Bush. Therefore, no ground troops.

Even as Obama tries to walk the fine line between doing what’s necessary and what’s politically expedient in the short term, his fellow leftists aren’t buying into it. Instead, they demand he eschew any military option. Protesters from anti-war radicals Code Pink interrupted Senate testimony17 by Secretary of State John Kerry, prompting him to tell those women, “[Y]ou ought to care about fighting ISIL” because they are “killing and raping and mutilating women.” (Sort of like the American troops did in Vietnam, according to Kerry’s twisted version of history18.) It was yet another reminder of the political calculation that led Obama to abandon Iraq in the first place.

It’s often been said that if you want to have something done right, you have to do it yourself. After five-plus years of feckless foreign policy that alienates our friends and comforts our enemies, we have to realize ISIL isn’t the “JV team” and can’t be eliminated by proxy. As opposed to the asymmetric war posed by al-Qaida, ISIL is fighting by more or less conventional means using weapons which, in some cases, we have provided – either through capture of Iraqi army munitions and equipment, or covertly to Syrian rebels19 through the CIA. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – one of the 22 senators who voted against the Syrians arms and training package – put it, we’re “dependent on unreliable actors in the region.”

Some of those “unreliable actors” will win the lottery of sorts by becoming American-trained, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be fighting with American interests foremost in mind. In the end, only we can be trusted with that mission.

Don’t Know Much About…
Special commentary by Arnold Ahlert20

Last Wednesday, September 17, was Constitution Day21, marking the 227th anniversary of that wondrous document’s ratification. Unfortunately, a new survey22 released the same day by the Annenberg Public Policy Center reveals an embarrassing but ultimately predictable level of public ignorance regarding its contents.

The numbers are stark. While just 36% of the 1,416 adult respondents could name all three branches of the federal government, another 35% couldn’t name a single one. Only 27% of Americans know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto, and over one-in-five (21%) believes a 5-4 Supreme Court decision will be sent back to Congress for reconsideration.

Even worse, the survey reveals the term “low information voter” is not only distressingly accurate, but may be far more endemic than even an ardent pessimist might have imagined. When asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38% correctly answered Republicans, while 17% said Democrats, and a whopping 44% admitted they didn’t know. That last number represents a 17 point increase from the 27% who had no idea in 2011.

The numbers were no better with regard to who controls the Senate. While 38% correctly answered Democrats, 27% thought it was Republicans, and another whopping 42% didn’t know, the same 17 point increase from the 27% who didn’t know in 2011.

“Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center23 (APPC). “This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education.”

What’s the likelihood of that occurring? A column24 I read just under two years ago haunts me to this day. In “Education’s Great Divide: My Time in the Trenches,” writer Glenn Fairman speaks of his discovery during a stint as a substitute teacher in a social studies class some 20 years earlier. It relates directly to the subject at hand. “In a dusty corner shelf of the room was a set of thirty-year-old textbooks from the mid-1960s, and although my memory cannot now relinquish their title, their contents burned themselves into my brain,” he writes. “As I flipped through the pages, I was astonished to find what I would now consider an upper-level college textbook under color of what in the high schools used to be termed ‘civics.’ … I spent the rest of the day in slack-jawed amazement, perusing what a student in a working-class town was expected to know before the mavens of education began tinkering with the curricula of our schools.”

This past summer I took the opportunity to fill a hole in my own civics education and picked up a copy of the Federalist Papers25. What struck me above all else was the profound understanding exhibited by authors James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay – not of government, but of the various aspects of human nature that must be recognized and reconciled to produce a viable government. I was fascinated by the brilliance of these men and their spirited arguments in favor of the new Constitution – yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that their eloquence would be incomprehensible to the average American at the present time.

The above survey confirms my worst fears.

Unlike many of my fellow Americans, I don’t believe those who are conspicuously lacking in a fundamental understanding of our government are stupid. I believe they are ignorant, and while I used to believe that ignorance was a direct byproduct of educational establishment’s incompetence, I have changed my mind. I now believe the dumbing down of Americans is being intentionally cultivated. “From elementary school and into the colleges, disciplines of objective knowledge have been either discounted or leveled, and critical thinking has been pushed aside for the subtle indoctrination of a specific worldview,” echoes Fairman.

Unfortunately, it is the progressive worldview, a vapid stew of feel-good “isms,” that has elevated “caring” above the acquisition of critical knowledge far too many Americans lack. A 2006 Zogby poll26 illuminates the same lack of knowledge about the three branches of the federal government – only 42% could identify them eight years ago. But that poll added a dose of cynicism to the mix, revealing nearly three-in-four of those same Americans could name each of the Three Stooges. I’d bet my life Moe, Larry and Curly could name all three branches of government. They were educated in a time before the current wave of mavens and their union collaborators took the best system in the world and tossed it over a cliff.

In a couple of recent columns, I spoke about “Jihad Chic” and what attracts young men and women to a group like ISIL, and its glorification of bloodthirsty depravity. As crazy as it might sound, the Annenberg poll gives a hint. The foundation of our entire culture is the Constitution, and the glaring ignorance demonstrated by the poll respondents suggests a profound cultural rot – one that might be accelerating faster than we know. When our own commander in chief tells us that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “is not Islamic,” we are in a place where truth itself is apparently optional, which in turn suggests our entire cultural ethos is being stripped of all substance and meaning. ISIL may be a savage organization, but its cultural ethos radiates clarity.

The dire implications? You can’t beat something with nothing. And we have allowed the cultural flagellators, who reduce America to little more than a nation that must atone for its “sins,” to dominate the conversation for far too long. The spectacular theories that formed the basis of our Constitution, our government and our nation have been bastardized beyond recognition, and unless we restore them to their former greatness, a giant darkness will descend. Not just upon us, but everyone who sees this nation for what it truly is: an exceptional beacon of freedom throughout the world.

The good news? During the restoration process, we have nothing to lose but our ignorance.

OPINION IN BRIEF

The Gipper: “Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom.”

Columnist Jeff Jacoby: “Sam Sutter, the district attorney for Bristol County [Massachusetts], announced [recently] that he would drop the criminal charges pending against two global-warming activists for illegally blocking a shipment of coal to a power plant… He announced, in a manner calculated to attract maximum publicity, that he was letting [the demonstrators] off the hook because he agrees with their political views. … It was an egregious abuse of his authority as a prosecutor: not that he dropped the charges against two lawbreaking protesters, but that he did so because he wants to promote their controversial cause – and to promote his own ‘leadership’ on the issue. … It may be tempting for those who see climate change as a crisis to applaud Sutter’s overtly political decision. Would they feel the same way about an anti-abortion DA who refused to prosecute demonstrators for blockading a Planned Parenthood clinic? Would they cheer a prosecutor whose antipathy to Islam led him to drop the charges against trespassers preventing construction of a mosque, and then to trumpet his ‘leadership’ in doing so? Prosecutors aren’t elected to make public policy – not on fossil fuels, or civil rights, or abortion, or anything else.”

Columnist Peggy Noonan: “[W]e focus on Mr. Obama personality and psychology – he’s weak or arrogant or ambivalent, or all three – and while this is interesting, it’s too fancy. We are overthinking the president. His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment. And we don’t say this because he’s so famously bright – academically credentialed, smooth, facile with words, quick with concepts. (That’s the sort of intelligence the press and popular historians most prize and celebrate, because it’s exactly the sort they possess.) But brightness is not the same as judgment, which has to do with discernment, instinct, the ability to see the big picture, wisdom that is earned or natural. Mr. Obama can see the trees, name their genus and species, judge their age and describe their color. He absorbs data. But he consistently misses the shape, size and density of the forest. His recitations of data are really a faux sophistication that suggests command of the subject but misses the heart of the matter.”

Humorist Frank J. Fleming: “If you told me as a child that in 2014 people would stand hours in line to buy a phone, I would have thought the Soviets had won.”

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

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform – Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen – standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.

Links

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/09/22/the-elusive-figure-u-s-officials-fear-as-much-as-the-islamic-state/

http://patriotpost.us/digests/18347

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/09/lois-lerner-breaks-silence-irs-scandal-111181.html

http://www.yaf.org/PS-YAF-Protest.aspx

http://dailysignal.com/2014/09/19/go-students-prohibited-passing-constitutions-constitution-day/

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/09/19/Michelle-Obama-Because-of-Barack-Kids-Take-For-Granted-That-A-Black-Person-or-a-Woman-Can-Be-President

http://patriotpost.us/posts/29110

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/09/18/dont_blame_my_army_for_the_lack_of_black_officers_in_combat_commands

http://patriotpost.us/

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-signs-bill-to-arm-and-train-syrian-rebels/

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/09/18/congressman-the-cia-thinks-obamas-strategy-of-arming-syrian-moderates-is-doomed-to-failure/

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/09/18/syrian-rebels-openly-admit-were-going-to-use-americas-money-to-fight-assad-not-just-isis/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/rift-widens-between-obama-us-military-over-strategy-to-fight-islamic-state/2014/09/18/ebdb422e-3f5c-11e4-b03f-de718edeb92f_story.html

http://patriotpost.us/posts/29306

http://patriotpost.us/posts/29263

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/pacificaviet/kerry.pdf

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/17/cia-syria_n_5834850.html

http://patriotpost.us/columnists/53

http://patriotpost.us/alexander/29208

http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/americans-know-surprisingly-little-about-their-government-survey-finds/

http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/

http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/educations_great_divide_my_time_in_the_trenches.html

http://patriotpost.us/documents/299

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2006/08/15/zogby-poll-most-americans-can-name-three-stooges-but-not-three-branches-govt/

http://patriotpost.us/opinion/29244

http://patriotpost.us/opinion/29294

http://patriotpost.us/opinion/29245

http://patriotpost.us/opinion/29310

http://patriotpost.us/opinion/29312

http://patriotpost.us/opinion

People’s Climate Demarche
The anticarbon campaign stalls even at the United Nations.
Tens of thousands of environmental protestors paraded through New York City on Sunday, in a “people’s climate march” designed to lobby world leaders arriving for the latest United Nations climate summit. The march did succeed in messing up traffic, but President Obama won’t achieve much more when he speaks Tuesday at this latest pit stop on the global warming grand prix.

Six years after the failure of the Copenhagen summit whose extravagant ambition was to secure a binding global treaty on carbon emissions, Mr. Obama is trying again. The Turtle Bay gathering of world leaders isn’t formally a part of the international U.N. climate negotiations that are supposed to climax late next year in Paris, but the venue is meant to be an ice-breaker for more than 125 presidents, prime ministers and heads of state to start to reach consensus.

One not-so-minor problem: The world’s largest emitters are declining to show up, even for appearances. The Chinese economy has been the No. 1 global producer of carbon dioxide since 2008, but President Xi Jinping won’t be gracing the U.N. with his presence. India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi (No. 3) will be in New York but is skipping the climate parley. Russian President Vladimir Putin (No. 4) has other priorities, while Japan (No. 5) is uncooperative after the Fukushima disaster that has damaged support for nuclear power. Saudi Arabia is dispatching its petroleum minister.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon excused these truancies at a press conference last week: “In any event, we have other means of communications, ways and means of having their leadership demonstrated in the United Nations.” In that case, why not do a conference call?

To understand the coldness of this brush off, global CO2 emissions increased to 35.1 billion metric tons in 2013, a new record and a 29% increase over a decade ago. Of the year-over-year carbon climb, China at 358 million metric tons jumped by more than the rest of the world combined and is responsible for 24.8% of emissions over the last five years. Over the same period, developing nations accounted for 57.5%.

What this means is that regardless of what the West does, poorer countries that are reluctant to sign agreements that impede economic progress hold the dominant carbon hand. No matter U.S. exertions to save the planet from atmospheric carbon that may or may not have consequences that may or may not be costly in a century or more, the international result will be more or less the same, though U.S. economic growth will be slower.

Mr. Modi is unlikely to indulge the rich world’s anticarbon politics when a quarter of the Indian population still lacks electricity. Mr. Obama might also pause to reflect that 30.6% of the 114.8 million American households qualify for low-income energy subsidies. Thus by the Administration’s own reckoning they can’t afford current energy costs, much less the higher costs of a zero-carbon future.

In his first speech as White House budget director, Shaun Donovan nonetheless told the Center for American Progress on Friday that “the scale of our ambition at home is going to be the single most important driver” for climate action by China and other nations. In fact, the costly anticarbon regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency is developing will by the EPA’s estimate address a mere 0.18% of world-wide carbon emissions. Some effort in persuasion.

Opinion Video
Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on why this week’s United Nations summit on climate change won’t help the environment. Photo credit: Associated Press.
This reality has now led more than a few climateers to claim that decarbonizing the economy will be magically cost-free. Mr. Donovan lectured that “climate denial will costs us billions of dollars,” as a hotter planet reduces GDP and drives up deficits, while natural disasters like coastal superstorms impose new relief costs on the federal fisc.

So the problem is so dire that we must impose huge new costs on carbon and energy production, but don’t worry—you won’t feel a thing. The government will create all new energy industries and wealth in a seamless transition. Caveat emptor: Supposedly professional economists who promise that scarce resources can be made scarcer at zero cost have stopped practicing economics. They have become politicians, if not as honest.

Rather than debasing economics, perhaps the climate lobby should return to the climate science and explain the hiatus in warming that has now lasted for 16, 19 or 26 years depending on the data set and which the climate models failed to predict even as global carbon dioxide emissions have climbed by 25%. Their alibi is that the new warming is now hidden in the oceans, an assertion they lack the evidence to prove.

The campaign to redo the global energy economy has produced plenty of spectacle (the activists in Manhattan), contempt for democratic norms (the EPA), and the promise of a less prosperous future (Germany’s renewable fuels fiasco). But perhaps Mr. Modi has a better sense of priorities because while in New York he plans to attend a Central Park event on the theme of reducing global poverty as well as the 9/11 memorial that is a reminder of the renewed threat of terrorism.

John Kerry and Iranian Minister Discuss ISIS, Nuclear Program; Refugee Surge Continues as Militants Behead Villagers in Syria

BY ANUGRAH KUMAR , CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR
September 22, 2014|7:50 am
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Iraq at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 19, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed Iran’s nuclear program and the ISIS threat with his Iranian counterpart Sunday even as Islamic State militants intensified attacks, including beheadings, on villages in northern Syria, forcing tens of thousands of Kurds to flee to Turkey.

Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York to push for an agreement between six world powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – and Iran to curtail the latter’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions.

Kerry “noted that this week is an opportunity to make additional progress and stressed that it is our intention to do so,” The Associated Press quoted a senior State Department official as saying about the meeting, which was held at a hotel and lasted for more than an hour.

Kerry and Zarif “agreed to meet further as needed while in New York,” the official added.

The United States has not had diplomatic ties with Iran since the hostage crisis following the 1979 Islamic revolution in that country. While Tehran claims its nuclear enrichment programme is civilian in nature, Washington suspects it could be aimed at building the capability to produce atomic weapons.

The nuclear negotiations had stalled for months due to Tehran’s reluctance to reduce the size and output of centrifuges which is a key factor in determining if uranium can be used as reactor fuel or for making nuclear weapons.

Kerry also separately discussed with Zarif the international threats posed by the Sunni terror group Islamic State, or ISIS, which has captured large swathes of territories in Iraq and Syria.

The United Nations said Sunday that the number of Syrian Kurds fleeing into neighboring Turkey has likely risen to 100,000.

ISIS, also known as ISIL, launched an offensive in Syria’s northern Kobani area, which borders Turkey, last week, and carries on with killing and kidnapping civilians as it gains control over more villages in the region.

“ISIL are continuing to advance. Every place they pass through they kill, wound and kidnap people. Many people are missing and we believe they were kidnapped,” Reuters quoted Welat Avar, a Kobani-based doctor, as saying. “We now urgently need medicines and equipment for operations. We have many casualties … ISIL killed many people in the villages. They cut off the heads of two people, I saw it with my own eyes.”

ISIS militants have captured dozens of villages surrounding the border town of Kobane.

“Rather than a war this is a genocide operation … They are going into the villages and cutting off the heads of one or two people and showing them to the villagers,” Ibrahim Binici, a deputy from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, was quoted as saying. “It is truly a shameful situation for humanity.”

About a fortnight ago, ISIS released a video showing the beheading of a 44-year-old British aid worker, David Haines, the father of two who went to Syria to serve at a refugee camp. The Sunni terror group previously released two more videos showing the beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and has threatened to kill more Western hostages.

The United States has launched 183 airstrikes across Iraq to fight ISIS militants since August, and is now planning military action in Syria through an international coalition.

“We’re waiting to hear whether Iran thinks it has a constructive role to play,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday. “But I would note that Iran’s behavior and its actions in Syria have been very destructive from our perspective, supporting Hezbollah, supporting the Assad regime.”

Power stressed that the U.S. will not launch airstrikes alone. “But we’re going to leave it to other nations to announce for themselves what their specific commitments to the coalition are going to be.”

ISIS, or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is an al-Qaeda offshoot, which wants to form an Islamic emirate in the Levant region through “jihad.” According to the CIA, ISIS has about 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.

ISIS is believed to have hundreds of foreign fighters, including those from the United States and Europe. Its men have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq. Numerous members of the Christian and Yazidi minorities have also been killed, and tens of thousands of them have fled their homes.

After 30 Years Of Lies, NY Times Admits “Assault Weapons Are A Myth”
Posted by Bob Owens on September 13, 2014 at 8:44 am
Share on Facebook 17K 18K SHARES
nytimes

In a stunning op-ed released Friday, the NY Times finally admitted that “assault weapons” are a made-up political term fabricated by anti-gun Democrats.

Op-ed writer Lois Beckett also admitted that once the term was manufactured and used to outlaw a class of weapons that dishonest anti-gun Democrats had used to con an entire nation, nothing happened.

It was much the same in the early 1990s when Democrats created and then banned a category of guns they called “assault weapons.” America was then suffering from a spike in gun crime and it seemed like a problem threatening everyone. Gun murders each year had been climbing: 11,000, then 13,000, then 17,000.

Democrats decided to push for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns in America: assault weapons, which were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals, and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets.

This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.

Handguns were used in more than 80 percent of murders each year, but gun control advocates had failed to interest enough of the public in a handgun ban. Handguns were the weapons most likely to kill you, but they were associated by the public with self-defense. (In 2008, the Supreme Court said there was a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.)

Banning sales of military-style weapons resonated with both legislators and the public: Civilians did not need to own guns designed for use in war zones.

On Sept. 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban into law. It barred the manufacture and sale of new guns with military features and magazines holding more than 10 rounds. But the law allowed those who already owned these guns — an estimated 1.5 million of them — to keep their weapons.

The policy proved costly. Mr. Clinton blamed the ban for Democratic losses in 1994. Crime fell, but when the ban expired, a detailed study found no proof that it had contributed to the decline.

They created and then banned a class of weapons.

“Assault weapons” is a made-up term, used to scare citizens into thinking that military weapons were commonly being sold and used on the streets of the United States. Thanks to a dishonest and incompetent media, millions of Americans thought (and still think) that machine guns could simply be purchased at the local gun store. The reality that the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act outlawed the manufacture of automatic weapons for the civilian market in 1986, was always hushed up.

Yes, it has been 28 years since a single machine gun was manufactured for the American public. There are no assault rifles being sold in the United States. There are only firearms that look like weapons of war, but which lack their ability to fire multiple shots with a single pull of the trigger.

These firearms—AR-15s, AKMs and similar rifles—while incredibly popular with America’s law-abiding gun culture, simply aren’t used in many crimes. This should be surprising, since they are now among the most popular firearms sold in the United States in the past decade. The AR-15, in particular, is the most popular rifle sold in the United States year after year, and there are ten times as many in civilian hands as there are visually similar M4/M16 assault rifles in the entire U.S military.

But career criminals don’t want long guns. They want firearms that are compact and easy to conceal.

The op-ed concludes that violent homicides are primarily a poverty issue disproportionately concentrated among small groups of particularly violent young men, a stunning and rare admission that poverty and the drug trade are the primary problem driving murder, not access to firearms.

Don’t expect this sort of stunning admission of the facts to mark a change in cover from the Times, however. The brief bout of lucidity will quickly fade behind the veil of Alzheimer’s liberalism, and we’ll hear the rest of the deranged gaggle of op-ed writers to quickly fall back into the mantra of “Guns are bad, the NRA is evil, we need more taxes, government, citizen control, etc.”

Still… it’s nice to see that every once in a while a real and honest thought can escape from the morass of Manhattan, however fleeting that honest thought may be.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 192 other followers