Tag Archive: business


Heidi Cruz wants to build a North American Community – what does that mean, exactly?
Posted on August 21, 2015 by austrogirl
ted cruz
Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz, with his Spanish name, Canadian birth and US citizenship, would actually be a natural candidate to be the First President of the North American Union! (n/t The Next News Network)

In today’s video preview of tomorrow’s show, I refer to a document, Building a North American Community, written by a Council on Foreign Relations task force which included Heidi Cruz (i.e., Mrs. Ted Cruz), who expressly agreed with the recommendations in the report. What are those recommendations? Here’s a sampling, but I highly recommend you read the whole text (it’s large print and only 32 pages of actual report, the rest you can skip):

To lay the groundwork for the freer flow of people within North America with the ultimate goal of full mobility of labor and goods across Canada, Mexico and the United States. To facilitate this, rules and regulations on labor and the environment among other things should conform across the “trinational” region. “[T]he three countries should make a concerted effort to encourage regulatory convergence…including harmonization at the highest prevailing standard…and unilateral adoption of another country’s rules.”
“Make a North American standard the default approach to new regulation….The new trinational mechanism also should be charged with identifying joint means of ensuring consistent enforcement of new rules as they are developed.”
Increase information and intelligence-sharing at the local and national levels in both law enforcement and military organizations.
Conduct annual training exercise to develop interoperability among and between law enforcement agencies and militaries of the US, Canada & Mexico.
Create a North American Border Pass with biometric identifiers.
Establish a North American energy and emissions regime that could offer tradable voucher systems for emissions trading.
Creation of a North American Advisory Council with a complementary private body “that would meet regularly or annually to buttress North American relationships, along the lines of the Bilderberg or Wehrkunde conferences, organized to support transaltantic relations.”
Creation of a North American Inter-Parliamentary Group that will include US Congress along with Canadian and Mexican Parliamentary representation, who play key roles in policy toward each other. The newly created North American Advisory Council (likened to the Bilderberg Group) “could provide an agenda and support for these meetings.”
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Meet the 38 Companies That Donate to Planned Parenthood
Melissa Quinn / @MelissaQuinn97 / July 21, 2015

ExxonMobil, along with 38 other companies, donates directly to Planned Parenthood. The group is under fire after two videos were released showing top Planned Parenthood executives allegedly discussing the sale of aborted fetal body parts. (Photo: Sebastien Pirlet//Reuters/Newscom)
In the wake of two videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal body parts, Republicans in Congress are working to ensure that Planned Parenthood is stripped of its federal funding.

However, it’s not only the government that fills Planned Parenthood’s coffers. According to 2nd Vote, a website and app that tracks the flow of money from consumers to political causes, more than 25 percent of Planned Parenthood’s $1.3-billion annual revenue comes from private donations, which includes corporate contributions.

>>> UPDATE: Planned Parenthood Pulls Names of Corporate Donors After Coca-Cola, Ford and Xerox Object

2nd Vote researched the corporations and organizations to find which supported Planned Parenthood and found that more than three dozen donated to the group. Some companies donated directly, while others matched employee gifts.

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Thirty-nine corporations and organizations directly contribute to the group.

Planned Parenthood has come under heavy fire following the release of videos from the Center for Medical Progress.

The first video, released last week, showed Planned Parenthood senior executive Dr. Deborah Nucatola meeting with actors portraying buyers from a “human biologics company.” The “buyers” discussed the sale of fetal body parts with Nucatola over lunch.

In the second video, released today, Dr. Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood’s medical directors council, is seen negotiating the price of aborted fetal body parts.

Here are the 38 companies that have directly funded Planned Parenthood.

Adobe
American Cancer Society
American Express
AT&T
Avon
Bank of America
Bath & Body Works
Ben & Jerry’s
Clorox
Converse
Deutsche Bank
Dockers
Energizer
Expedia
ExxonMobil
Fannie Mae
Groupon
Intuit
Johnson & Johnson
La Senza
Levi Strauss
Liberty Mutual
Macy’s
March of Dimes
Microsoft
Morgan Stanley
Nike
Oracle
PepsiCo
Pfizer
Progressive
Starbucks
Susan G. Komen
Tostitos
Unilever
United Way
Verizon
Wells Fargo
This story originally listed 41 companies; following publication, three contacted The Daily Signal to say Planned Parenthood’s list was inaccurate. Click here for our latest coverage.

Xerox says it was was erroneously listed on Planned Parenthood’s website as having been a donor. “We have communicated with Planned Parenthood. They have removed Xerox from this list of companies that match gifts to the organization. It was not correct,” a Xerox representative told The Daily Signal.

A Ford Motor Co. representative contacted The Daily Signal claiming they had been erroneously listed on Planned Parenthood’s website, and have contacted Planned Parenthood to be removed.

Coca-Cola also asked Planned Parenthood to remove it from the website. “The Coca-Cola Company does not contribute to Planned Parenthood,” a representative told The Daily Signal. “We do not match employee contributions to Planned Parenthood.”

Daily Digest for Thursday
November 13, 2014 Print

THE FOUNDATION
“Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.” –Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15, 1787

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
Details of Obama’s Immigration Plan Leaked
As early as Nov. 21, Barack Obama will announce his 10-point plan on immigration, circumventing Congress and disregarding the Constitution. Fox News reports on a leaked draft of Obama’s executive action that does everything from giving Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers a raise, to granting differed action to 4.5 million illegal immigrants. It will also give a discount to the first 10,000 illegal immigrants who apply for naturalization. In response, some GOP lawmakers advocate a tough line against Obama’s plan. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) wants the GOP to work a provision into December’s appropriations bill where Congress leaves no money for Obama’s executive actions. But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell wants a softer approach — more cooperation among politicians. Still, Obama could continue going Rambo on immigration by waiting until after Congress passes its appropriation bill Dec. 11, or by placing a few Republican carrots in the executive order. Republicans need to remember this is not just a policy debate: This is an argument over Rule of Law and the constitutionally separated powers in Washington. Both high ideals. More…

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Reid Has ‘No Desire’ to Create Obstruction
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ran the chamber with an iron fist, but now that he’s headed for the minority, he wants everybody to get along. “I’ve always believed it wise to follow Will Roger’s admonition: ‘Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today,'” he said from the Senate floor. Therefore, he added, “I’m ready … to work with [Mitch McConnell] in good faith to make this institution function again for the American people.” He then had the temerity to blame Republicans for the dysfunction. “I saw firsthand how a strategy of obstruction was debilitating to our system,” he continued, blaming McConnell for creating gridlock. “I have no desire to engage in that manner.” That’s all he ever did as majority leader — blocking amendments, letting House bills stack up on his desk, etc. We don’t believe for a second he’s turned over a new leaf.

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Part-Time Workers Can’t Get Full-Time Jobs
About 32% of part-time workers wish for a full-time job, according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, but a lack of education and a crummy job market has landed those people in jobs bringing in little money on few hours. Of those wishing for full-time work, 39% say they have to stretch their salary and 31% say they are the only person bringing home the bacon in their family. The challenge to getting that 40-hour-a-week position? Only 31% said they weren’t looking, 51% said they didn’t have the necessary skills, and the top reason was the lack of full-time work since the recession (54%). Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, said, “Though we’re seeing an uptick in full-time, permanent hiring, many workers are still having difficulty finding positions in their field of expertise.” Five years after the federal government declared the recession over, one-third of the part-time workforce wishes for something better, but the jobs are opening up at an excruciatingly slow pace. Just the latest dispatch from the sorry Obama recovery. More…

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Senate Vote Looming on Keystone
Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid squelched any effort to pass legislation regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Now that Democrats got thumped in the election, however, the legislation is headed for a vote. Why? Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu needs help in her Louisiana runoff. Bloomberg reports, “The purpose of the vote would be symbolic: To highlight Landrieu’s support for the pipeline and her influence on energy issues in Washington — a centerpiece of her campaign. A vote in favor of the pipeline may benefit Landrieu in her Dec. 6 runoff election, in which she faces Republican Representative Bill Cassidy.” Landrieu’s being able to tout passage of the pipeline sure would be good on the stump in a state that stands to benefit from it. In fact, it may even be more helpful if Barack Obama vetoes it — he and his ecofascist constituents get what they want, while Landrieu can claim to have opposed Obama on something. It’s a win-win … for Democrats. Unfortunately, that usually means a loss for the country. More…

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School Refused Veterans Day Ceremony Over Firearms
The Eau Claire school district in Wisconsin did not hold its traditional Veterans Day ceremonies Tuesday because guns are scary. That’s right — the 21-gun salute that was a standard part of the program is no longer acceptable on school grounds. “We like to honor the veterans; we bring them in on a regular basis,” says Tim Libham, the executive director of administration with the district. “There are just some conditions that we have to adhere to and the shooting of guns, even with blanks, is something we don’t feel is appropriate given society, and the concerns that we have and that the community has, on school premises.” The ceremony was instead held at a local Burger King. School officials should be ashamed. They’re teaching kids that fear is more important than honor. More…

RIGHT ANALYSIS

The Phony Climate Deal With China
2014-11-13-7cae1639.jpg
Obama at the Star Trek convention
Barack Obama waves around five magic beans from his climate change talk with the Chinese while China walks away with the cow. On Tuesday, the White House announced it made an agreement with the Communist nation limiting carbon emissions. Obama’s in China this week, where the world’s two biggest energy producers hashed things out before UN delegates meet in Paris in December 2015 to write a new treaty regulating the world in response to supposedly man-made global warming.

Just like he has with so many other policies, Obama went it alone. Most everyone was surprised by the announcement that China and the U.S. had reached an agreement — a bad sign on an issue so large as climate change. But it’s a bum deal, and the Republican-led Congress must rescue Obama from himself.

During his first term, Obama set the goal of cutting the nation’s emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. This week’s announcement increases that goal of cutting emissions to 26-27% of 2005 levels by the year 2025. The White House said it was opening trade with China for “sustainable environmental goods and clean energy technologies.” The nations will be working to study responses to climate change together.

While Obama pledges to further cut emissions — strangling business and increasing the almighty power of the EPA — China pinky-promises (with fingers crossed) it will begin to decrease its emissions by 2030 and start to produce 20% of its energy from clean energy sources. Only years after the United States has met its goal will China think of following in those footsteps. Really? We’re supposed to believe this?

Last September, it was checkup time at the UN. Every country, from Ebola-stricken Liberia to large, industrialized nations, gathered in New York City to share specifics of what each had done to combat the scourge of global warming.

China slunk into that climate summit like the slacking student in a group project. It’s a “responsible major country,” said Zhang Gaoli, Vice Premier of the State Council of China, who added, “We will announce post-2020 actions on climate change as soon as we can.” The world’s biggest polluter, one of the giants when it comes to industry and energy production, had nothing.

In response to this week’s U.S.-China announcement, the UN released a statement: “Today, China and the United States have demonstrated the leadership that the world expects of them. This leadership demonstrated by the Governments of the world’s two largest economies will give the international community an unprecedented chance to succeed at reaching a meaningful, universal agreement in 2015.”

It took Obama — not the U.S. — a promise to further cut and cripple the U.S. economy for China to agree to the most basic of plans that would be agreeable to the ecofascists in the global community.

Senate Republican leaders hope to undermine Obama’s environmental policies. One of Congress’ most important tools is control of the purse strings. Republicans could defund Obama’s environmental policies, hamstring new EPA regulation by withholding funds and weaken Obama’s presence at the UN 2015 Paris meeting.

Indeed, the GOP believes it has a mandate from voters to stand in the gap against Obama and his economically damaging environmental policies. In a statement, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “The President said his policies were on the ballot, and the American people spoke up against them. It’s time for more listening, and less job-destroying red tape. Easing the burden already created by EPA regulations will continue to be a priority for me in the new Congress.”

But Obama has plenty of moves to hinder the Republicans’ pledge to work against his green policies. Obama still wields the veto pen and Republicans don’t have veto-proof majorities in either chamber. But neither can Obama enter into a binding international treaty. So he uses his phone to create working groups, research centers and initiatives with China — all little things compared to what Obama would truly like to accomplish.

“It’s hollow and not believable for China to claim it will shift 20 percent of its energy to non-fossil fuels by 2030, and a promise to peak its carbon emissions only allows the world’s largest economy to buy time,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said. “China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days, is the largest importer of coal in the world, and has no known reserves of natural gas. This deal is a non-binding charade.”

Obama has his five magic beans, a pat on the back from the UN, a boiling political fight when he returns to Washington and a long road until the UN meeting in Paris. Going it alone has weakened Obama on the global stage. He can only go so far before the Constitution reins in his unlawful attempt to transform the country. But he’s still trying.

Pirouette Toward Asia
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China is aggressively pushing asymmetric militarization — that is, targeted ramping up capabilities to probe vulnerable seams and gaps in U.S. capabilities — as well as conducting more pronounced maneuvering in the South China Sea. That means the Obama administration’s strategy of “pivoting toward Asia” is now in what can best be described as an endless “pirouette.” A better description would be a classic death-spiral.

The U.S. just reached agreement with Communist China on notification protocols for major military exercises, ostensibly diffusing alarm when one nation conducts such an exercise. Perhaps like conducting an otherwise-unannounced major naval exercise in the South China Sea. Another agreement reaffirms the now 50-year-old traditional rules for encounters at sea and in the air, because, apparently, these things aren’t patently evident to all civilized nations by now, having been codified into international law for half a century or so. Great job, Chosen One! We’ll show those naked aggressors who’s boss!

Meanwhile, as Russian President Vladimir Putin tries desperately to get the gang back together — a few invasions of sovereign states, a shoot-down of a plane carrying a few hundred innocent civilians — Team Hopeless is trying to return to its “pivot” script. Never mind that Putin just solidified Russian economic ties to China with another Siberia gas deal. Also overlook the fact Moscow has reclassified NATO as Russia’s official adversary (did we mention NATO is ostensibly led by the U.S.?). We should also not dwell on “blame” for that SA-11 shot that murdered 300 innocents, either, right? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

The whole reason Barack Obama “pivoted” to “Asia” (read: China) in the first place was because of so much intense saber-rattling in the South China Sea. China’s bald regional hegemonic machinations meant the U.S. could no longer ignore the threats to its allies — Japan, Australia, New Zealand and a host of others within that vulnerable region.

Our “good friends” in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) recently developed their own version of the Marshall Plan to cope with all the unrest (which, by the way, they have generated): The so-called “Silk Road” is a $40 billion plan to buy off opposition to Chinese designs on regional hegemony. Effectively, it will force nations in the region to “chose a side” — the sides being, of course, the U.S. and China. As such an unwaveringly solid friend as the kowtow administration has demonstrated itself to be to these “lesser” states, any guesses which side most of them will choose?

Luckily, China has a long way to go to catch up with the U.S., despite the debut of its new J-31 stealth fighter — during Obama’s attendance at the Asian economic summit in Beijing, no less. Who could have predicted such timing for test flights? Of course, the “Chinese stealth fighter” is better known as the “F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” an American jet, since the Chinese unabashedly stole top-secret technical data through cyber espionage against Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors. Testing their plane during Obama’s visit signals they know they have nothing to fear from him.

We should also point out the inconvenient truth of China’s deployment of two brigades of DF21D ballistic missiles — so-called “carrier killers,” and not without good reason. Supposedly, these missiles had been a long way off from reaching operational capability. Yet they are now part of what the emperor Chinese leader might call a “fully armed and operational battle station.”

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall put a fine point on the whole issue of technology: “Our technological superiority is very much at risk. There are people designing systems specifically to defeat us in a very thoughtful and strategic way, and we’ve got to wake up, frankly.” Kendall went on to name several areas in which the U.S. remains critically vulnerable: China’s threat to the U.S. surface fleet as well as U.S. overseas bases; China’s challenge to U.S. air dominance; Chinese threats to U.S. space capabilities and access to space; and finally, China’s ability to mount cyber assaults on U.S. networks. The myth of U.S. technical superiority is quickly becoming just that: a myth.

The real lesson here is what is wrought when a nation chooses a position of weakness. Starting in 2009 with his World Apology Tour and continuing with numerous international failings and foreign-policy-related humiliations, Obama has abjectly demonstrated what happens when the U.S. abdicates its leadership role in the world and chooses instead to be the world’s buddy. Rogue nations, belligerent nations and nations ruled by an iron thumb are not content with being anyone’s buddy. They are content only with being conqueror.

OPINION IN BRIEF

American writer E. B. White (1899-1985): “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.”

Columnist Ann Coulter: “People who voted Republican took the attitude of ‘We’re giving you one more chance.’ They are not going to back off, and they can’t be tricked or lied to. They’re looking the GOP in the eye and saying: We’re not fooling around: Amnesty is dead, right? Republicans won by ignoring the establishment when it said, Don’t criticize amnesty! and ignoring the tea party when it said, Let’s run candidates like Christine O’Donnell! Don’t confuse who’s good at what here. The establishment has to drop amnesty and the tea party has got to drop — for now — demands for government shutdowns to repeal Obamacare. Without the presidency, Republicans’ sole objective for the next two years is to keep sending Obama bills that 80 percent of Americans will support. They can pass some great legislation — and they’ll also force Democrats into votes that won’t be easy to explain to their constituents. Republicans might start by dusting off that bill requiring Congress to live under Obamacare.”

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Historian Victor Davis Hanson: “Midterm voters apparently understood that ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ has devolved into something like comprehensive health care reform — a euphemism for Obama’s larger efforts at fundamentally transforming America. … It’s hard to find supporters of immigration reform who argue that the Kenyan, South Korean, Czech or Jamaican applicant for entry into the U.S. should be treated equally on the basis of skill sets, education or prior background — rather than as a future identity-politics voter. … If advocates of comprehensive immigration reform are going to win Americans over to their side, they are going to have to find a new approach to the debate that they have now lost. For now, the position remains the current one of ethnic-privileging one group over another. The selfish position is the current one of burdening the host society by accommodating the language of the guest. The surreal position is that of ingratitude of guests toward generous host country by demanding that its laws either be ignored or changed to fit their own particular agendas and preferences. On matters of immigration, open-borders advocates have become reactionaries. Last week’s midterm results proved it.”

 

An American Decline that Must Be Reversed

October 17, 2014 By Alan Caruba

The tendency of pundits is to address the decline in American culture and traditional moral values. The concerns addressed include the rather sudden, but widespread embrace of same-sex marriages or calls for the legalization of marijuana so anyone can get high without the fear of arrest.

You can probably name a few things you consider evidence of decline, but there is one you are not likely to notice much. It’s the nation’s infrastructure of highways, airports, waterways and ports. It’s only dramatic declines such as the decay of Detroit, once one of the nation’s most dynamic cities that get attention because it is so blatant. We judge the backwardness of third world nations by their bad roads and lack of infrastructure to support their economies.
We don’t, however, think of the U.S. as a nation in decline, but we are.

A September study released by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) revealed that overall spending on public infrastructure fell 10.5% between 2003 and 2012. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, “Spending on highways and streets by federal, state and local governments, dropped a higher 19% during that same period, according to the study.”

NAM president, Jay Timmons, said, “The United States is stuck in a decade-long decline (in infrastructure spending) that will eventually harm job creation, future productivity and our ability to compete head-to-head with companies all over the globe.” When a manufacturer cannot transport their product in a timely fashion, it puts them at a disadvantage. Multiply that by the nation’s many manufacturers and you have a very big problem for lack of adequate highways, roads, and bridges

The great power of America’s infrastructure was supported by the maintenance it requires. The 2013 study was commissioned by the Building America’s Future Educational Fund and NAM to survey manufacturers. It found that they “overwhelmingly viewed America’s infrastructure as old, inefficient, and badly in need of modernization.”

Findings included 70% who believed that U.S. infrastructure is in fair or poor shape and needs a great deal or quite a lot of improvement. The same percentage believe that road are getting worse and 65% did not believe that infrastructure, especially in their region, is positioned to respond to the competitive demands of a growing economy over the next 10-15 years.

This may not seem very exciting compared to news of combat in the Middle East or the threat of Ebola, but consider that, in early October, the Financial Times reported that “China has surpassed the US in terms of GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP), becoming the largest in the world by this measure, International Monetary Fund estimates show. In 2014 China reached $17.6 trillion or 16.48 percent of the world’s purchasing-power-adjusted GDP, while the US made slightly less, 16.28 percent or $17.4 trillion, according to IMF data.“

We are now number two in the global economy.

The NAM study’s research, said University of Maryland Professor Jeffrey Werling, “helps confirm what engineers and executives both know, The quality and quantity of current U.S. infrastructure is deficient, and these deficiencies are already hampering economic growth.”

For years, a federal fuel tax has helped underwrite needed highway construction, but it hasn’t been increased since 1993 and annual collections have been declining due to fuel-efficient vehicles and motorists who have been driving less than in the past. The Wall Street Journal reported that “Congress has shown little interest in raising the 18.2 cent-a-gallon tax” and has relied on stop-gap funding.

There was a time when a politician would jump at the chance to have a bridge or a strip of highway named after him. Those days are over. We have a Congress that can barely agree on anything, let alone something as undramatic as funding infrastructure projects. The States and local communities are squeezed for their own funds, burdened with pensions and other costs.

None of this bodes well, but at least we can say we’ve been warned, eh?

How Many Layoffs Would a Higher Minimum Wage Lead To?

March 20, 2014 at 11:41 am

Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Bad news for minimum-wage workers: If President Obama succeeds in getting the federal minimum wage hiked to $10.10 an hour, some workers could lose their current jobs.

According to an Express Employments Professionals survey released Wednesday, a whopping 38 percent of employers said that they would lay off employees if the proposed hike went into effect.

Fifty-four percent of employers also said they’d hire fewer people if the minimum wage rose to $10.10 an hour. “This is in line with other research that shows businesses respond more by not hiring future workers than laying off existing employees—many of whom would get promoted or move to another company soon anyway,” explains James Sherk, labor policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

So, for some workers, sure, the higher minimum wage will be nice. But for plenty of other workers—for example, those who would prefer to make the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour rather than nothing at all—Obama’s minimum wage hike is a lousy deal.

The Perverse Exemption

Political palliatives won’t cure ObamaCare’s ills.

By

JAMES TARANTO

CONNECT

January 3, 2014
While we were away, the Department of Health and Human Services offered what might be termed a concession to reality. In a Dec. 19 letter, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius informed Virginia’s Mark Warner and five other members of the Democratic Senate Caucus that what she called a “small number of consumers” would be granted an “exemption from the individual responsibility requirement” of ObamaCare during 2014.

“Individual responsibility requirement” is HHS jargon for what is commonly called the “individual mandate” and is legally not a requirement or mandate at all but an additional tax on the income of Americans who lack medical insurance plans that comply with ObamaCare’s multitude of actual mandates. The exemption also permits those it covers to purchase policies that have somewhat lesser mandatory requirements, and are therefore somewhat cheaper, than the standard ObamaCare metallic (“bronze” through “platinum”) plans. Normally, those so-called catastrophic policies are available only to those under 30.

The exemption, made available under a “hardship” provision of the euphemistically titled Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, applies to 2013 policyholders whose plans were canceled and who “are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement in the Marketplace,” Sebelius explained. Her Dec. 19 decree is the first major administrative weakening of the so-called individual mandate, but many observers doubt it will be the last. Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle:

Sometime after March 31–probably not very far after–I would expect the administration to announce that after careful thought, it has decided not to enforce the individual mandate for 2014. As we’ve already seen, the individual mandate is very politically vulnerable. And I suspect we’re not done with the emergency fixes.

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein–who for the past few months has oscillated wildly between cheerleading for ObamaCare and honest criticism of its implementation–responded to the announcement with some of the latter. “The administration agreed with a group of senators. . . who argued that having your insurance plan canceled counted as ‘an unexpected natural or human-caused event,’ ” Klein noted, adding pointedly: “For these people, in other words, Obamacare itself is the hardship.” He added:

This puts the administration on some very difficult-to-defend ground. Normally, the individual mandate applies to anyone who can purchase qualifying insurance for less than 8 percent of their income. Either that threshold is right or it’s wrong. But it’s hard to argue that it’s right for the currently uninsured but wrong for people whose plans were canceled. . . .

Republicans will immediately begin calling for the uninsured to get this same exemption. What will the Obama administration say in response? Why are people who plans [sic] were canceled more deserving of help than people who couldn’t afford a plan in the first place?

That’s an excellent point, but it falls short of capturing the perversity of the Sebelius decree. To understand why, begin with the observation that the distinction between being and not being able to “afford a plan” is a fuzzy one. Some lack insurance because they are so poor that they could not possibly pay the premiums, but it makes more sense to consider the decision to carry insurance or not as the product of each person’s subjective evaluation of costs, benefits and risks. A person who forgoes insurance does so because, in his circumstances, he does not think it worth the money.

That analysis excludes those who, in the pre-ObamaCare regime, would have purchased insurance but couldn’t because pre-existing conditions made them uninsurable. But for those who are insurable but choose to go without insurance, the injury of ObamaCare consists entirely in the new tax the law imposes upon them beginning this year.

Those who had policies canceled, however, were injured in a different way by ObamaCare. For them, insurance, at least as it existed before ObamaCare, was worth the cost. They fell victim to Obama’s fraudulent claim that “if you like your plan, you can keep it.” If they are now unable to find a plan worth buying, their primary injury consists in being deprived of insurance. The new exemption spares them only of the lesser injury–one might call it an insult–of being taxed for being a victim of ObamaCare.

For neither group of the now-uninsured does the Sebelius decree alleviate the injury ObamaCare inflicts. Nor does it do anything for a third category of ObamaCare victims: those whose plans were canceled and who have purchased new policies that are costlier, inferior or both.

Remember Edie Sundby? She is the stage 4 gallbladder-cancer survivor who wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed two months ago in which she revealed that “my affordable, lifesaving medical insurance policy has been canceled effective Dec. 31.” While we were vacationing in chilly Southern California, we went to see her in San Diego to get an update on her insurance situation.

Edie Sundby before ObamaCare took effect. Courtesy Edie Sundby

Atop her injury Mrs. Sundby has endured insult–imposed not by the law but by the nasty politics of a desperate administration and its supporters. It took the form of a propaganda campaign–led by the Center for American Progress and, as we notedthe day her op-ed ran, cheered on by the White House–aimed at discrediting her. (Last month the president tapped John Podesta, the center’s founder, to be White House counsel. Earlier, in an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Podesta described House Republicans as “a cult worthy of Jonestown.”)

Igor Volsky, who’d launched the attack with a post on the center’s ThinkProgress.org site the day the op-ed ran, published afollow-up a few days later titled “The Cancer Patient From The Wall Street Journal Will Likely Save Thousands Under Obamacare.” This time, he claimed, he had numbers to prove it. But those numbers were only a guess, and Volsky guessed wrong.

“Relying on [her existing insurer] PacifiCare’s base rate filings with the California Department of Insurance, ThinkProgress estimated how much Sundby and her husband (who is on the same plan) could be paying,” Volsky wrote. He inflated the “base rate filing” by a “conservative” 40% “to account for underwriting–the process by which insurers increase premiums to account for beneficiaries’ health.” He came up with a figure of $2,186 for the monthly premium, or $26,241 a year. (The arithmetic was off by $9, presumably because he was rounding the published numbers but not the ones used in his calculation.) He added $11,000–a $3,000 deductible and $8,000 maximum in-network copayment–to come up with a total expense of $37,241.

Volsky then “searched the California exchange for the most expensive and expansive health care plan in San Diego and found a Platinum-level ‘Ultimate PPO’ from Blue Cross.” The monthly premium is $1,919, or $23,028 a year, for a plan with an $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum. That’s a total of $31,028. If all this had been correct, the Sundbys would stand to save more than $6,000.

In November we set out to check Volsky’s figures. Mrs. Sundby gave her insurance broker permission to speak with us about her case, and the broker was able to confirm that Volsky’s figures for the platinum plan were accurate to within a few dollars.

But as to the canceled plan, Volsky turned out to be using the Yglesias Method of making stuff up. Mrs. Sundby supplied us with statements from PacifiCare, which show that the monthly 2013 premium was just $1,107–an increase of 27%, not 40%, from 2012. The deductible was $5,000 and the individual in-network copayment $4,000. It adds up to $22,284–nearly $9,000 less than Volsky’s figure for the Blue Cross platinum plan.

Two additional caveats are necessary: First, the Sundbys’ old plan was not for the couple alone but also covered two daughters, both of whom turn 26 this year and thus will no longer be eligible for the family plan. Second, individual out-of-pocket maximums are generally half the family total, so that the comparable figure for the platinum plan would have been $4,000 less than Volsky’s estimate, or $27,028. Thus the Blue Cross plan would have cost 21% more despite covering two people instead of four.

The Sundbys ended up purchasing a “silver” plan from Blue Shield with a monthly premium of $1,438 and an individual out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350. That’s an annual total of $23,606, not counting any out-of-pocket expenses Mr. Sundby (who is in excellent health) might incur–or a modest 6% increase over the equivalent 2013 PacifiCare costs.

To be sure, even if PacifiCare hadn’t canceled the Sundbys’ policy, it likely would have hiked their premiums. Given that the increase between 2012 and 2013 was 27%, the new plan sounds like an improvement. But remember that their adult daughters are no longer on the plan. If they take out insurance, the premiums are likely to be considerably higher than they would be absent ObamaCare price controls, which soak the young in order to benefit the middle-aged.

More important, the analysis of costs alone misses the central point. While Blue Shield is not charging a great deal more than PacifiCare would have under their old plan, it is for a vastly inferior product. As Mrs. Sundby wrote in her op-ed, she has received care from three hospitals. Her primary oncologist is at Stanford University’s Cancer Institute. She got less specialized treatment such as chemotherapy locally, at Moores Cancer Center, part of the University of California, San Diego. She has also been treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

No plan available in San Diego includes both UCSD and Stanford in its network, so the Sundbys were forced to choose between them. The Blue Shield plan covers care at Stanford, so that she will now have to get local care elsewhere.

Volsky did acknowledge in his penultimate paragraph that Mrs. Sundby “may need to find a different health care provider. . . . If Sundby continues to see the non-participating doctors, she will incur additional out-of-pocket health care costs.” That is, he treated as an afterthought the actual injury ObamaCare inflicts on her. She was victimized twice by the president’s consumer fraud. She lost the plan she liked and doctors she liked.

We didn’t write about this in November because our conversation with the Sundbys’ broker left us confused. The broker believed that ObamaCare plans would cover out-of-network treatments, with higher copayments but the same limit on total out-of-pocket expenses. That called into question the premise of Mrs. Sundby’s op-ed: Had the broker been right, Mrs. Sundby would have been able to get the same care at only somewhat higher cost.

But the broker was misinformed. Mrs. Sundby confirmed with an administrator at UCSD that none of the plans that included Stanford in their networks would cover the full cost of treatment at Moores. Mrs. Sundby told us that her new plan covers out-of-network care only up to the (far lower) negotiated fees for equivalent treatment within the network; the difference must be paid out of pocket and does not count toward the annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses.

That makes the cost of care at UCSD prohibitive and forces Mrs. Sundby to go to a lower-quality facility. (The Moores website boasts that it “is one of just 41 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States, and the only one in the San Diego region.”) Mrs. Sundby told this columnist she is uncertain whether she will be able to return to M.D. Anderson should she need care there.

As Investor’s Business Daily noted in an editorial last month, the potential consequences of the narrow networks are profound and widespread:

A prominent New York insurance broker pointed out that most of the policies offered on the ObamaCare exchanges are not national networks, so “if you need routine medical services, they will not be covered when you leave your local area,” as they were before.

Travel health insurance, unfortunately, only covers emergencies. So, the broker told [The American Thinker‘s Stella] Paul, “a large portion of the population will have their insurance as a consideration for their mobility, which they never had before.”

Imagine having to take all this into account in making decisions about where in America you want to live.

That the Sundbys’ broker, a seasoned insurance professional, was unaware of all this more than a month after the ObamaCare exchanges opened for business (and more than 3½ years after the law was enacted) suggests yet another serious systemic problem with ObamaCare: The government appears to have done a woefully inadequate job of educating even professionals in the field, much less ordinary consumers, about the law’s complicated and often destructive provisions. And this is in California, the state ObamaCare apologists have touted as the great success story.

“The health exchanges are so confusing, and the policy provider network details are not available,” Mrs. Sundby wrote us in an email the day after we met. “None of us who lost our insurance plans really know what we have bought on the exchange until after Jan. 1, 2014, when we start finding new doctors or making appointments with our established doctors.”

Mrs. Sundby knows better than most. An intelligent woman with a longstanding and complicated medical condition, she is about as savvy, motivated and well-informed as a health-insurance customer can get. Most Americans who get sick in the future will be far less well-prepared than she for ObamaCare’s cruel surprises. Political palliatives like the mandate exemption, even if it ends up being universal, aren’t going to help. Happy New Year.

Apple Said Developing Curved iPhone Screens, New Sensors

By Tim Culpan & Adam Satariano – Nov 10, 2013 10:39 PM CT

Apple Inc. is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a person familiar with the plans.

Two models planned for release in the second half of next year would feature larger displays with glass that curves downward at the edges, said the person, declining to be identified because the details aren’t public. Sensors that can distinguish heavy or light touches on the screen may be incorporated into subsequent models, the person said.

With screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, the two new models would be Apple’s largest iPhones, the person said, and would approach in size the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 that Samsung Electronics Co. debuted in September. The South Korean maker last month released its curved-screen Galaxy Round, the latest phone in an array of sizes and price points that’s helping keep Samsung ahead of Apple in global market share.

The new Apple handsets are still in development and plans haven’t been completed, the person said, adding that the company probably would release them in the third quarter of next year.

Screen Size

Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment.

“Screen size is one of the things where Apple has to catch up to the Android camp,” Dennis Chan, an analyst at Yuanta Financial Holding Co. in Taipei, said, referring to phones using Google Inc.’s operating software. “Innovation in components has been a key for Apple since the first iPhone came out.”

Apple broke with past practice in September when it unveiled two versions of the iPhone at the same time, the iPhone 5s with more advanced features and the iPhone 5c at lower prices, as part of a strategy to appeal to broader markets.

Demand for the iPhone 5s is much higher, and iPhone 5c production has been reduced, the person said.

Revenue growth for the current quarter, Apple’s traditional holiday sales period, may be the slowest since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on the company’s financial forecast published last month. Samsung said last month it expects this quarter’s shipment growth rate from the prior quarter to fall to a “low single digit” percentage from the “mid-10 percent range” the prior period.

Testing continues on the pressure-sensitive technology, which is unlikely to be ready for the next iPhone release and is instead planned for a later model, the person said.

Apple’s testing and development of new materials follows its history of working with suppliers to produce new technologies that can enhance device functions. The original iPhone, released in 2007, offered touchscreen technology developed with Taipei-based TPK Holding Co. that was more responsive than available at the time.

Apple said last week it will open a new plant in Arizona to make components for its devices. Merrimack, New Hampshire-based GT Advanced Technologies said Apple will prepay $578 million for furnaces to make sapphire materials used in smartphones, with the iPhone maker getting some exclusive rights.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tim Culpan in Taipei attculpan1@bloomberg.net; Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

CHINESE CREDIT RATING AGENCY DOWNGRADES U.S. AFTER DEBT CEILING RAISED

Posted 10.17.13 by Matthew Burke, TPNN News Editor

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Recall all the “cry wolf” warnings from the left, including from Obama and his cheerleaders in the media, that the U.S. would get their credit rating slashed if we didn’t raise the debt ceiling, which enables the bloated government to continue to spend more than it takes in? Well (of course) the opposite is true, as a Chinese credit rating agency (similar to Standard & Poors or Moody’s in the U.S.) has downgraded U.S. sovereign debt. As referenced on the Drudge Report, and as reported by France24 (emphasis added):

A Chinese ratings agency downgraded its US sovereign credit rating Thursday despite Washington’s resolution of the debt ceiling deadlock, warning that fundamentals for a potential default remained “unchanged”.

Dagong lowered its ratings for US local and foreign currency credit from A to A-, maintaining a negative outlook, the agency said in a statement.

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The announcement came after the US Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed a bill that extends the nation’s borrowing authority and ends a two-week government shutdown.

The fundamental situation that the debt growth rate significantly outpaces that of fiscal income and gross domestic product remains unchanged,” Dagong said in the statement, adding Washington’s solvency was vulnerable as old debts were still repaid through raising new debts.

Unlike U.S. politicians, credit experts understand that money doesn’t grown on trees. They understand that any entity, whether it’s an individual citizen, a business, or a city, state or federal government that continues to grow its debt at much faster rates than the corresponding rise in its income, is an increased credit risk. For decades, U.S. taxpayer real income has been stagnant for over a decade, while government spending has doubled since 2001, having gone from $1.9 trillion to $3.8 trillion. During the Obama regime, in under five years, the national debt has exploded from an already huge $10 trillion to a gargantuan $17 trillion (rounded).

The recent short-term “fix” does nothing to address the long-term spending problem in the United States. China, which owns over 20% of U.S. debt, understands this. They understand that the deal that McConnell-Reid worked out is nothing more than kicking the can down the road until January 15th, when this charade will be repeated again.

 

 


October 8, 2013
 Obama to Pick Yellen as Leader of Fed, Officials Say

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WASHINGTON — President Obama will nominate Janet L. Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, White House officials said Tuesday night, ending an unusually prolonged and public search to fill one of the most important economic policy-making jobs in the world.

Ms. Yellen, 67, has been the Fed’s vice chairwoman since 2010, when Mr. Obama nominated her to the post and she was easily confirmed on a voice vote by the Senate. She would be the first woman to run the central bank.

She is also expected to win bipartisan support for her new role in the Democratic-controlled Senate, said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York. But some Republicans could throw up hurdles. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee voted against her appointment as vice chairman because of what he called “her dovish views on monetary policy,” and he was already expressing reservations on Tuesday night about her nomination for the top job.

“We will closely examine her record since that time,” said Mr. Corker, who sits on the Banking Committee, which must clear her nomination before it moves to the full Senate. “But I am not aware of anything that demonstrates her views have changed.”

Ms. Yellen’s nomination was widely expected, but she was not thought to be Mr. Obama’s first choice for the job. For months, the speculation was that the president would nominate Lawrence H. Summers, a former adviser of Mr. Obama’s. But Mr. Summers dropped out of the running on Sept. 15 in the face of opposition from Democratic senators. Some in the administration blamed Yellen advocates for churning up the opposition to Mr. Summers.

A native of Brooklyn, she was previously president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, a White House adviser, a Fed governor during the Clinton administration and a longtime professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

The most important decisions awaiting Ms. Yellen involve how quickly to wind down the expansionary monetary policy engineered by the current chairman, Ben S. Bernanke. Ms. Yellen worked closely with Mr. Bernanke, whose term ends on Jan. 31, in shaping and building support for that approach in an effort to stimulate the economy and bring down unemployment.

If anything, Ms. Yellen has wanted the Fed to take even more aggressive measures to lift growth, believing the risks of inflation are modest. But her views and Mr. Bernanke’s appear close enough that markets have considered her potential ascension a sign of continuity at the Fed.

Both Ms. Yellen and Mr. Bernanke will join the president at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the East Room of the White House for a formal announcement. Since 2009, Mr. Obama had anticipated that he might eventually nominate Mr. Summers, who for the first two years of his presidency was chief White House economic adviser as director of the National Economic Council. Mr. Obama came to admire Mr. Summers, a former Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, for the advice he provided at the depths of the recession and financial crisis. In contrast, he does not know Ms. Yellen well.

Mr. Obama’s loyalty to Mr. Summers pitted him this summer against many progressives in his party’s base, as well as liberal Democratic senators, who wanted him to make history by nominating Ms. Yellen.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, whose letter endorsing Ms. Yellen and signed by a third of Democratic senators helped turn the tide against Mr. Summers, said in a statement late Tuesday, “Today is a historic moment for the Federal Reserve, for women everywhere and for all of us who care about job creation.”

Administration officials and allies said the timing of the Yellen announcement had nothing to do with the fiscal impasse between the White House and the Republican-controlled House. Instead, they said, it was a coincidence caused by Mr. Obama’s delay in deciding finally on Ms. Yellen, and getting her vetted, after Mr. Summers withdrew from contention.

Mr. Bernanke, the Fed’s leader since 2006, announced last month that the central bank would postpone any retreat from its stimulus campaign for at least another month and possibly until next year, because of concerns about the economy. The move surprised economists and investors on Wall Street.

Mr. Bernanke — who has underestimated the economy’s weakness at several junctures during the last few years — said that although conditions were improving, the Fed still feared a turn for the worse. He has expressed concern that Congress is damaging the economy through budget brinkmanship and could cause more damage in the weeks to come. Since then, several Fed officials have publicly questioned his decision in September, highlighting a growing divide over the course of policy that would number among Ms. Yellen’s immediate challenges.

Ms. Yellen, described by one former colleague as “a small lady with a large I.Q.,” forged an academic career at Berkeley as a member of the economics counterculture that attacked the dogma of efficient markets. She has long argued that markets benefit from regulation to prevent abuses and limit disruptions of economic growth.

The Fed’s two main tasks are helping to regulate the financial system and altering interest rates in response to economic growth and inflation. Regulating the financial system has become a much more important part of the Fed’s responsibilities in the wake of the financial crisis.

Many Democrats believe Ms. Yellen is likely to view Wall Street more skeptically than Mr. Summers, even though her views are closer to the centrist stance of the administration than to the positions of liberal Democrats on several regulatory issues. She is not, for example, a supporter of the push to break up large banks.

In the Senate, Republicans have frequently expressed concern that the Fed’s policies may destabilize financial markets and eventually accelerate inflation.Republican senators have typically threatened to filibuster major bills and nominations in recent years, suggesting Ms. Yellen may need 60 votes — including a handful of Republican votes — to be confirmed. A decade ago, Ms. Yellen was one of the first public officials to describe rising housing prices as a bubble that might pop, with damaging consequences for the broader economy. Still, as president of the San Francisco Fed, she did not translate her concerns into actions that might have prevented some of the worst effects of the bubble.

But in the aftermath of the resulting recession, she accurately predicted that the recovery would be painfully slow and that there was little reason to worry about inflation, a view that led her to press for the Fed to expand its efforts to revive the economy. No Federal Reserve chairman has been as deeply steeped in both the theory and practice of central banking as she is.

Mr. Bernanke also brought a distinguished academic history of having studied the Fed, but he spent only a few years as a Fed governor before becoming chairman. Ms. Yellen has spent more than half of the last 20 years as a top Fed official.

Until recently, she was telling friends that she did not expect to be nominated because Mr. Obama had made it clear that he wanted Mr. Summers for the Fed job. But when Mr. Summers withdrew his name on Sept. 15, Ms. Yellen became the front-runner by elimination.

As speculation swirled about the appointment, much of the debate revolved not around economic policy but gender. Mr. Summers, while he was president of Harvard, once wondered aloud whether inherent differences between men and women helped explain a lack of female science professors, causing some women’s groups to oppose his selection to lead the Fed. But within the White House, women were among his biggest supporters.

Some Democrats also argued that Mr. Obama should not pass up the chance to break a glass ceiling, given Ms. Yellen’s qualifications and her position as the Fed’s second-ranking official. No woman has held one of the very top jobs in economic policy-making — Fed leader or Treasury secretary — nor has a woman led any other major central bank in the world.

Mr. Summers’s supporters, including many of the president’s closest advisers, had raised some concerns about Ms. Yellen in recent months. Perhaps most potently, they said that institutions benefited from fresh leadership and argued that Ms. Yellen’s central role in creating the Fed’s current policies could inhibit her ability to make necessary changes.

Her supporters have praised her as self-effacing and keenly intelligent. “She makes an argument on the merits and she sticks with it,” said Alan S. Blinder, an economics professor at Princeton and former Fed vice chairman, who argued for her nomination. “And she’s good at articulating an argument in a way that doesn’t leave people on the other side hopping mad at her.”

President Bill Clinton nominated her to a seat on the Fed’s board of governors in 1994 and then named her head of his Council of Economic Advisers in late 1996. She later returned to Berkeley, and in 2004 became president of the San Francisco Fed, where she remained during the worst of the financial crisis before returning to the Fed as vice chairman in 2010.

Ms. Yellen, slight and white-haired, has a personal style that more closely resembles Mr. Bernanke’s soft-spoken manner than that of some previous Fed chairmen, like Paul Volcker. The force of her arguments can catch people by surprise.

She attended Fort Hamilton High School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Brown University, and has said that she became interested in economics as a way of thinking logically about how to help people. As a graduate student at Yale, she studied under the Nobel laureate James Tobin, a leading proponent of the view that governments could mitigate recessions.

She built an academic career at Berkeley together with her husband, the economist George A. Akerlof, whom she met in a Fed cafeteria in the late 1970s when they were staff economists. Much of their work together highlighted flaws in the economic theory that markets operate efficiently, a theory that basically treats government policy as inherently costly. Ms. Yellen would be the first Democrat to run the Fed in almost 30 years. With Ms. Yellen’s nomination, Mr. Obama will need to find a new vice chair for the seven-member board of governors. He also may need to fill three of the other seats. Elizabeth Duke resigned from the board in August; Sarah Bloom Raskin has been nominated to serve as deputy Treasury secretary; and Jerome Powell’s term ends in January, although he can continue to serve in the absence of a replacement.

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Binyamin Appelbaum, Annie Lowrey and Jeremy W. Peters contributed reporting.

 

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JOEL OSTEEN FINALLY COMES OUT ON ‘GAY’ ISSUE

‘I’m not here to be preaching hate, pushing people down’

Published: 4 hours ago

God “absolutely” approves of everyone — including homosexuals — declared one of America’s most well-known evangelical pastors

The Houston megapastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen, whose followers include the likes of Cher and Oprah Winfrey, is hitting the talk-show circuit to promote his new book, “Break Out! 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life.”

Osteen, the very visible face of Lakewood Church in Houston since 1999,  talked to the Huffington Post about his thoughts on prayer, the pope and the homosexual lifestyle.

HuffPo Live host Josh Zepps quoted from Osteen’s new book: “It doesn’t matter who likes you or who doesn’t like you, all that matters is God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.”

Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals.

Pastor Joel Osteen

“Absolutely,” Osteen insisted, “I believe that God has breathed his life into every single person. We’re all on a journey. Nobody’s perfect.”

Osteen, who oversees a congregation of 45,000 followers, stated all people must be acknowledged for who they are and expressed reluctance to “categorize” sin.

“The Bible said a sin is pride, a sin is selfish ambition. We tend to pick out these certain things,” he said.

Americans were told the LGBT agenda was just the next stage of the Civil Rights movement. Who knew it would end up with the prosecution and criminalization of vast numbers of Christians? It’s already happening – big time. Read about it in “THE NEW SEXUAL REVOLUTION: How the ‘gay rights’ movement has become a Trojan Horse for totalitarianism.

“But I believe every person is made in the image of God, and you have accept them as they are, on their journey. I’m not here to be preaching hate, pushing people down. I’m not here telling people what they’re doing wrong.”

Osteen has said numerous times that he believes living a homosexual lifestyle is a sin in accordance with his understanding of Christian scripture.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday in 2012, Osteen discussed his position on homosexuality by telling host Chris Wallace that he “doesn’t dislike anybody” and believes gays are some of “most loving people in the world,” despite his strongly held conviction that homosexuality is a sin.

“I believe the scripture says that being gay is a sin. But, you know, every time I say that, Chris … people say, well, you are a gay hater and you’re a gay basher,” Osteen told Wallace during the interview. “I’m not. I don’t – I don’t dislike anybody. Gays are some of the nicest, kindest, most loving people in the world. But my faith is based on what I believe the scripture says, and that’s the way I read the scripture.”

Believe it or not, the Bible does NOT say you’re meant to float on a cloud, doing nothing but playing a harp forever. Your destiny is far greater and more glorious. Find out why God REALLY created you. Get details in the autographed bestseller, “The Divine Secret: The Awesome and Untold Truth About Your Phenomenal Destiny.”

Osteen also discussed Pope Francis during the Huffington Post interview, saying he appreciates the pontiff’s inclusive nature.

“I think the pope is fantastic, his tone, his humility,” he said.

“We may not agree 100 percent on doctrine and theology, but the Catholic Church, our church, it’s open for everybody. I like his tone, not pushing people away.”

A caller during the live interview asked Osteen to give his definition of spirituality and religion.

“I do think that religion has turned a lot of people off. Part of it is because it was all about the rules and was political. I think now people have a hunger for God, they want to have a relationship, but they don’t want to be called religious. I’m not trying to get them to join my religion, I’m just trying to plant a seed of hope in their heart.”

As WND reported, Osteen was once the victim of an elaborate hoax that suggested he was quitting his church and abandoning his faith. Osteen was in fact not quitting, despite several phony websites, news stories and even a YouTube video declaring otherwise.

The pastor wasn’t immune from criticism during his Huffington Post interview.

A caller chastised him for preaching about the power of praying for “things.”

Osteen agreed in part: “I don’t think you should spend your life praying for things, but I do believe you should thank God for what He’s given you. I think the scripture teaches us that we can pray for our dreams, pray for the big things. He’s not a small God; this God is incredible.”

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/joel-osteen-god-approves-of-homosexuals/#oCR8lZEev9tL4pqd.99