Tag Archive: current-events


New Federal Agency? The Department of Peacebuilding
March 9, 2015 By Cara Delvecchio

Many Democrats have introduced legislation to create a Department of Peacebuilding. The Department would be tasked with promoting peace and have “Peace Days” celebrated in the United States.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the bill with support from nine other Democrats.

The supporters of the new Act say that the Constitution talks about tranquility and promoting the general welfare but say that the U.S. is still dealing with a lot of violence, and that it comes at an economic cost. The bill states the following:

“Violence prevention is cost effective. For every dollar spent in violence prevention and peace building, many lives and many dollars are saved.”

The secretary of peace building would address the domestic and international violence by recommending ways to end them, address family violence and violence against women.

The bill would study how firearms add to violence. The department would employ:

“successful, field-tested programs, and developing new approaches for dealing with the tools of violence, including handguns, especially among youth.”

It even would create a Peace Academy and encourage national “Peace Days” to celebrate peace.

“The secretary shall encourage citizens to observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace on Peace Days. Such days shall include discussions of the professional activities and the achievements in the lives of peacemakers.”

The whole idea seems a bit ridiculous — another unneeded government agency. The entire bill is below. H.R.1111

 

 

 

Daily Digest
Mar. 2, 2015

THE FOUNDATION
“It is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.” –Benjamin Franklin, letter to Samuel Cooper, 1777

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS
GOP Rends Over Immigration Fight1
Congressional Republicans tried to defund Barack Obama’s unconstitutional immigration actions through a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, but instead they suffered a political defeat that leaves the party uncertainly plotting the next move. As the Friday deadline loomed, Republicans taking a hard line on the immigration fight helped defeat House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to fund the department for three weeks. It was Nancy Pelosi who saved the night, telling Democrats to support a bill2 funding DHS for a meager seven days. Now, there are rumblings that some Republicans will try to force Boehner from his speaker position. And House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggests the Senate should simply press the red button and deploy the nuclear option3. That’s the wrong answer. A Wall Street Journal editorial4 concludes, “Republicans need to do some soul searching about the purpose of a congressional majority, including whether they even want it. If they really think Mr. Boehner is the problem, then find someone else to do his thankless job. If not, then start to impose some order and discipline and advance the conservative cause rather than self-defeating rebellion.” This weekend showed Republicans have leadership issues, which Obama continues to exploit. More…5

Left Changes Tone as Netanyahu Arrives in Washington6
Just a few weeks ago, the White House threatened there would be consequences7 for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Congress. This Sunday, Netanyahu touched down in Washington to talk about the U.S.’s deal with Iran, and everybody has put on their politician smiles. Secretary of State John Kerry essentially denied the Obama administration was plotting to undermine both the event and Netanyahu’s administration. “The prime minister is welcome in the United States at any time,” Kerry told ABC8. “We have an unparalleled close security relationship with Israel, and we will continue to. I talk to the prime minister regularly, including yesterday. We don’t want to see this turned into some great political football. Obviously, it was odd, if not unique, that we learned of it from the speaker of the House and that an administration was not included in this process. But the administration is not seeking to politicize this.” Politicize this? Democrat legislators have issued sound bite after sound bite saying Netanyahu doesn’t speak for them, or that they’ll boycott the speech. And that’s not to mention Obama’s political shenanigans. No, the Left has already succeeded in making a foreign policy speech by one of America’s closest allies into a partisan brouhaha. More…9

Lerner’s Email Cover-Up ‘Potential Criminal Activity’10
Timothy Camus, Treasury deputy inspector general, told the House Oversight Committee “there is potential criminal activity” in how the IRS refused to give Congress Lois Lerner’s emails when it was investigating the agency’s political targeting of conservative groups. The Daily Caller11 reports, “Treasury Department inspectors general testified Thursday that they cannot provide any relevant information related to their search for Lois Lerner’s missing emails. But at least three bits of information came out: the investigation is on hold over software issues, there is potential criminal wrongdoing, and nobody at the IRS even asked for Lerner’s backup email tapes from the people in New Martinsville, West Virginia, who had them.” The IRS told Congress Lerner’s emails were destroyed and irretrievable. But the IG got the emails after two weeks of searching, and that may warrant a criminal investigation. It’s perhaps confirmed one thing that Americans have long suspected, though: The IRS is run by criminals. Oh, and by the way, one of Lerner’s emails to a colleague was this gem: “No one will believe your hard drive and mine crashed within a week.” No, no one will believe that. More…12

Durbin: Constitution Was ‘Fatally Flawed’13
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) defended Barack Obama’s executive amnesty in the Senate by declaring Obama was just doing what was necessary to save the Constitution from itself. “Before any of us can serve in the United States Senate, we stand in the well of the Senate chamber and publicly take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Durbin said. “I know we all take that seriously, as we should.” (Pause for laughter.) He continued, “This is not just another government document. It is really the inspiration of this government and it still governs our actions to this day. Yet, if we view this document with honesty, we know that it was fatally flawed from the start. It got the issue of slavery wrong, in addition to some other issues. It got the issue of race wrong. And since the days when the document was drafted and signed, we have struggled as a nation to right that wrong. It has taken a long, long time.” There’s no question that the Constitution, as a human document, has its flaws. That’s why our Founders set up an amendment process. But Durbin and his fellow Democrats think they are more enlightened than the Founders and, therefore, can do whatever they want with the Constitution – abandoning the legitimate amendment process altogether. And then they have the gall to claim they take their oaths14 seriously.

Who Vets Fox News ‘Experts’?15
STUPID, particularly when it comes to the Second Amendment, is almost exclusive to the Left, but occasionally it slips under the wire on the Right. That is certainly the case with this analysis from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News “2A expert” Regis Giles. Commenting on the absurd ATF ban of 5.56 M855 AR-15 rifle cartridges16, Giles’ remarks were so profoundly ignorant that FNC should have preceded her segment with one of their ubiquitous “FOX NEWS ALERT!” graphics.

According to Giles, “To say that this [5.56 M855 round] is going to pierce through the armor of cops is ridiculous because it’s a tiny bullet like this big [demonstrating the size with her fingers]. And to say that the cop’s Kevlar isn’t tough enough to handle that ammunition is ridiculous. And, like the FBI said, no one has used this in a handgun to shoot a cop.”

Who vets Fox News guests? Giles must have been smoking “green tips.”

Now, for the record, according to the ATF and FBI, there IS NO RECORD of a police officer being murdered with a 5.56 M855 round – and, of course, the ATF ammo ban really has nothing to do with “protecting police” and everything to do with Obama’s incremental encroachment on the Second Amendment. But come on Carlson – giving a platform to Giles did nothing to help 2A rights.

For more, visit Right Hooks17.

RIGHT ANALYSIS
Hillary Lied, Four Americans Died18
Judicial Watch confirmed19 Thursday what many Americans already knew: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s attempt to blame the attacks in Benghazi on an “offensive video” was a bald-faced lie20. As the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department, Judicial Watch obtained a series of critical emails that not only reveal State Department officials knew immediately the American compound in Benghazi was under attack but that the attack was perpetrated by assailants tied to a terrorist group. And despite the infamous exasperated question21 from the Democrats’ likely presidential nominee, the truth does make a big difference at this point.

The first email was sent Sept. 11, 2012, at 4:07 p.m. It was forwarded by former Clinton Special Assistant Maria Sand to Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jacob Sullivan, former Executive Assistant Joseph McManus, and a host of other Special Assistants in Clinton’s office. It read as follows:

“The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support.”

Another email arrived at 4:38 p.m. It was sent by the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service, Scott Bultrowicz, who was fired22 following the report issued by the Advisory Review Board (ARB) citing “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department” responsible for security in Benghazi. That would be the same ARB that refused to interview Hillary Clinton as part of its investigation. State Department Foreign Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus the email from Bultrowicz with the subject line “Attack on Benghazi 90112012”:

“DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire.”

At 12:04 a.m. Randolph updated Mills, Sullivan and McManus with another email with the subject line “FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack”:

“I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center.”

Contained in that email is a series of equally damning updates:

4:54 p.m.: “Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel.”

6:06 p.m.: “Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): (SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.”

11:57 p.m.: “(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff.”

And finally, at 3:22 a.m., Sept. 12, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, later forwarded to Mills and McManus. The subject line? “Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi”:

“Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi.”

Two hours later, McManus forwarded the news of Stevens’ death to the State Department Legislative Affairs office – with instructions not to “forward to anyone at this point.”

Hillary Clinton’s response? An official statement calling the attack “a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

As for her other, earlier response, blatantly ignored by the mainstream media? A 10 p.m. phone call23 between Clinton and Obama, completely contradicting the previous assertion23 by the White House that Obama made no phone calls the night of the attack. As National Review’s Andrew McCarthy sarcastically asked24, “Gee, what do you suppose Obama and Clinton talked about in that 10 p.m. call?”

The rest of the orchestrated disinformation campaign – sending25 former UN ambassador, current National Security Advisor and reliable propagandist Susan Rice on network news shows to maintain the despicable lie, Obama’s assertion of same on the David Letterman Show and at the UN, the spending26 of $70,000 for a Pakistani ad campaign showing Obama and Clinton denouncing the anti-Islamic video, and a host of other insults to the public’s intelligence – can no longer be obscured.

America twice elected an inveterate liar as commander in chief. And the very same corrupt media that ran interference for Obama’s lies are gearing up to do the same thing for an equally inveterate liar. And make no mistake: All of Clinton’s critics will be characterized as perpetrating a war on women whenever the subject of her horrendous track record27 of prevarication arises – one that included another blatant lie about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire.

And that’s if those questions arise at all. Here are two28 separate29 Google Searches related to the revelations presented by Judicial Watch. Note that not a single mainstream media source has even filed a report, much less made this the kind of headline story, followed by a relentless series of updates, that would have attended any Republican caught doing exactly the same thing. An equal amount of calculated disinterest attends the scandalous conflict of interest surrounding the Clinton Foundation, which received30 millions of dollars from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state. Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to a U.S. political candidate. Funneling those contributions through the Clinton Foundation allows Hillary to skirt such restrictions.

On Benghazi, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton gets it exactly right: “These emails leave no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers knew the truth about the Benghazi attack from almost the moment it happened. And it is inescapable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knowingly lied when she planted the false story about ‘inflammatory material being posted on the Internet.’ The contempt for the public’s right to know is evidenced not only in these documents but also in the fact that we had to file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain them. The Obama gang’s cover-up continues to unravel, despite its unlawful secrecy and continued slow-rolling of information. Congress, if it ever decides to do its job, cannot act soon enough to put Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and every other official in these emails under oath.”

Whether Congress is up to the job or not, one thing is crystal clear: Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to lead this nation. Her election to the Oval Office would be a continuation of the lawlessness and lying this nation has endured for the past six years. Judicial Watch has produced the smoking gun. The voting public ignores it at the nation’s peril.

The CPAC Sizzler: Red Meat for Primaries31
The Republican presidential primary virtually began this past weekend right outside the Washington Beltway. The event is also known as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The gathering of thousands of activists was treated to candidates and experts engaged in extensive and serious policy discussions. There were no doubts where participants of CPAC stand regarding America’s exceptionalism, Liberty and the Constitution.

Some highlights:

In the face of growing threats in the world (and no, we don’t mean the climate), potential presidential contenders emphasized national security and foreign policy. The Islamic State was clearly identified as Islamic and named as a necessary target for destruction to end its evil and medieval barbarism.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio32 jumped from the obvious problem of ISIL and the cauldron of toil and trouble of the Middle East to pledging to reverse Obama’s cancellation of the missile defense installations in Europe to appease and pacify the angry Bear of Russia. Rubio pegged the KGB-raised Vladimir Putin as a danger in need of countering, arguing for an expansion of missile defense into Eastern Europe beyond Poland and the Czech Republic.

Rubio assessed Obama’s “JV” foreign policy33, characterizing the commander in chief’s frame of reference thusly: “America, and American engagement, is more often the source of our problems than the source of our solutions.” Rubio slammed this view as wrong and dangerous.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal34 hammered the administration’s “jobs for Jihadistan35” approach: “We don’t need a war on international poverty, we need a war on the evil radical Islamic terrorism.” Furthermore, Jindal asserted, Obama’s administration has incompetently failed at formulating and executing a realistic plan aimed at “degrading and destroying ISIS.” Therefore, Jindal concluded, Obama “has shown himself incapable of being our commander in chief.”

On immigration policy, most all of the CPAC featured speakers were in unison in supporting a secured southern border and enforcement of existing laws to encourage and reward legal immigration.

Rubio – of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” fame – said he’s learned his lesson: “[Y]ou can’t even have a conversation about [illegal immigrants already in the country] until people believe and know – not just believe, but it’s proven to them – that future illegal immigration is brought under control.” He’s absolutely right, despite what many conservatives view as his blemished track record.

On the other hand – and this is no surprise – Jeb Bush36, the former Florida governor and wannabe-GOP-nominee with big donors on his side, was honest enough not to pander in his proclamation, “Yes, I support a path to legalization” for illegal immigrants currently in our nation. (He also began his tack Left on same-sex marriage37, perhaps signaling he won’t even bother trying to convince voters a la Mitt Romney that he really is “severely conservative.”)

The CPAC speaker with the most election wins (three) over the last four years, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker38, clearly articulated the most basic spirit of America: “Up there in Washington, we have a president who measures success by how many people are dependent on the government. There’s a reason we celebrate the Fourth of July and not April 15, because in America we celebrate our independence from the government and not our dependence on it.”

And former Texas Governor Rick Perry39 offered up downright Reaganesque optimism: “I’ve never been more certain than I am today that America’s best days remain in front of us. The weakness and incompetence of our government shouldn’t be confused with the strength, the ingenuity and the idealism of the American people.” Perry listed the nation’s painful sufferings through the War Between the States, two world wars and the Carter administration before assuring CPACers, “We will survive the Obama years too.”

The economy, education, tax reform, God, guns and family were other key areas where speakers strummed the heartstrings of this constitutionally conservative crowd. Speeches are one thing, but the most important question left unanswered is this: Can the GOP win the White House in 2016? Or will the GOP lose in the same way it lost in 2012 – with lots of highly paid consultants, an embarrassing ground game and a timid approach to a vision for a great America? Based solely on the roster of CPAC speeches, we’re hopeful that history won’t repeat itself. But we’ll find out soon enough.

OPINION IN BRIEF

The Gipper: “A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.”

Columnist Jeff Jacoby: “[B]y reacting so poisonously to Netanyahu’s scheduled appearance, the White House has only fueled more interest in what he has to say. Obama may have guaranteed that Israel’s leader will give the speech of his career to a once-in-a-lifetime audience. Only at a superficial level is this about partisan or political loyalties. Immensely more important is the lethal threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. Even without the bomb, Iran is the world’s most dangerous regime – apocalyptic incubator of terrorism and jihad, ruthless suppressor of human rights, unflagging zealot for wiping Israel ‘off the map,’ and fanatic about bringing ‘Death to America.’ Like any democratic politician, Netanyahu can be maddening or fickle. But there is no issue on which he has been so consistent, for so long, as preventing Tehran from acquiring the nuclear capability that would empower it to fulfill its genocidal goals. The fuss over protocol and personalities is interesting. It won’t keep Americans from giving their ally’s leader a respectful hearing.”

Columnist Star Parker: “The President has a bully pulpit waiting for him whenever he wants to use it to explain to the American people why he doesn’t want Benjamin Netanyahu to give this speech. Instead of shooting straight with us, the president is sending out his foot soldiers, his proxies, Democrats in Congress, including the black Caucus, to do his business for him, with flimsy explanations. What’s up with our President? And what’s up with the press? Why aren’t they asking penetrating questions? All of us recall as students reading about the tragedies in history and asking how they could have happened, why they weren’t prevented. We should hear the Israeli Prime Minster’s concerns. And our president, himself, should tell the American people why he so opposes this very sensible speech.”

Comedian Seth Meyers: “Obama’s former press secretary, Jay Carney, will reportedly become a senior vice president at Amazon. Carney says he’s excited to work for someone who doesn’t take six years to deliver.”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

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://patriotpost.us/posts/33534
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/28/dhs-funding-vote/
http://thehill.com/homenews/house/234248-house-gop-leader-senate-should-change-its-rules
http://www.wsj.com/articles/squandering-a-gop-majority-1425250184
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-gop-faces-familiar-dilemma-on-homeland-security-funding/2015/03/01/f5f41e5e-c038-11e4-9ec2-b418f57a4a99_story.html
http://patriotpost.us/posts/33541
http://patriotpost.us/posts/32618
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/03/01/john-kerry-plays-down-tensions-caused-by-netanyahus-speech/
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/02/us-usa-israel-idUSKBN0LX13D20150302
http://patriotpost.us/posts/33520
http://dailycaller.com/2015/02/26/lerner-email-search-is-on-hold-over-software-problems-there-is-potential-criminal-activity/
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/26/irs-watchdog-reveals-lois-lerner-missing-emails-no/?page=all
http://patriotpost.us/posts/33527
http://patriotpost.us/alexander/3192
http://patriotpost.us/posts/33525
http://patriotpost.us/articles/33184
http://patriotpost.us/
http://patriotpost.us/articles/33533
http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/documents-obtained-judicial-watch-reveal-top-hillary-clinton-advisers-knew-immediately-assault-benghazi-armed-attack/
http://patriotpost.us/alexander/25317
http://patriotpost.us/alexander/25527
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/12/22/diplomatic-securitys-top-agent-leaves-office-after-scathing-benghazi-report-the-director-of-the-security-service-is-among-those-ousted-from-office-following-a-review-into-the-benghazi-attacks-sources-say
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/14/white-house-no-phone-calls-benghazi/
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/348677/10-pm-phone-call-andrew-c-mccarthy
http://www.factcheck.org/2012/10/benghazi-timeline/
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https://www.google.com/search?q=Judicial+Watch,+Benghazi+emails&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=Judicial+Watch,+Benghazi+emails&tbm=nws
http://patriotpost.us/articles/33399
http://patriotpost.us/articles/33544
http://patriotpost.us/articles/33425
http://patriotpost.us/articles/29858
http://patriotpost.us/articles/33074
http://patriotpost.us/posts/33215
http://patriotpost.us/articles/31821
http://patriotpost.us/posts/33526
http://patriotpost.us/articles/32717
http://patriotpost.us/articles/32887
http://patriotpost.us/opinion/33528
http://patriotpost.us/opinion/33531
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http://patriotpost.us/opinion

Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDTMARCH 2, 2015
Photo

Hillary Rodham Clinton had no government email address. Credit Liam Richards/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

Hillary Rodham Clinton in Indiana in 2008. Her economic message in that campaign resonated with white, working-class voters.Economic Plan Is a Quandary for Hillary Clinton’s CampaignFEB. 7, 2015
Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland spoke at a conference hosted by the South Carolina Democratic Party in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Saturday.Martin O’Malley, in Veiled Jab at Hillary Clinton, Derides Politics of ‘Triangulation’FEB. 28, 2015
Jeb Bush at an event in Florida last week. When he was governor of Florida, he seemed to enjoy back-and-forths with familiar journalists via email.On the Record: Emails to Florida Reporters Show a Jeb Bush Eager to EngageFEB. 19, 2015
Fans watched a video of Senator Elizabeth Warren in Iowa last month.Hillary Clinton vs. Elizabeth Warren Could Delight RepublicansJAN. 28, 2015
Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”

Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.

Mrs. Clinton is not the first government official — or first secretary of state — to use a personal email account on which to conduct official business. But her exclusive use of her private email, for all of her work, appears unusual, Mr. Baron said. The use of private email accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.

“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business,” said Mr. Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.

Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records.

But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.

How many emails were in Mrs. Clinton’s account is not clear, and neither is the process her advisers used to determine which ones related to her work at the State Department before turning them over.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
“It’s a shame it didn’t take place automatically when she was secretary of state as it should have,” said Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, a group based at George Washington University that advocates government transparency. “Someone in the State Department deserves credit for taking the initiative to ask for the records back. Most of the time it takes the threat of litigation and embarrassment.”

Mr. Blanton said high-level officials should operate as President Obama does, emailing from a secure government account, with every record preserved for historical purposes.

“Personal emails are not secure,” he said. “Senior officials should not be using them.”

Penalties for not complying with federal record-keeping requirements are rare, because the National Archives has few enforcement abilities.

Mr. Merrill, the spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, declined to detail why she had chosen to conduct State Department business from her personal account.

Mr. Merrill said that because Mrs. Clinton had been sending emails to other State Department officials at their government accounts, she had “every expectation they would be retained.” Mr. Merrill declined to answer questions about any emails that Mrs. Clinton may have sent to foreign leaders, people in the private sector or government officials outside the State Department.

The revelation about the private email account echoes longstanding criticisms directed at both the former secretary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for a lack of transparency and inclination toward secrecy.

And others who, like Mrs. Clinton, are eyeing a candidacy for the White House are stressing a very different approach. Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, released a trove of emails in December from his eight years as governor of Florida.

It is not clear whether Mrs. Clinton’s private email account included encryption or other security measures, given the sensitivity of her diplomatic activity.

Mrs. Clinton’s successor, Secretary of State John Kerry, has used a government email account since taking over the role, and his correspondence is being preserved contemporaneously as part of State Department records, according to his aides.

Before the current regulations went into effect, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who served from 2001 to 2005, used personal email to communicate with American officials and ambassadors and foreign leaders.

Last October, the State Department, as part of the effort to improve its record keeping, asked all previous secretaries of state dating back to Madeleine K. Albright to provide it with any records, like emails, from their time in office for preservation.

“These steps include regularly archiving all of Secretary Kerry’s emails to ensure that we are capturing all federal records,” said a department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki.

The existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered as a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi sought correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and her aides about the attack. Awful awful this is good

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Clinton provided the committee with about 300 emails — amounting to roughly 900 pages — about the Benghazi attacks that Mrs. Clinton’s aides had found among her personal emails.

Mrs. Clinton and the committee declined to comment on the contents of the emails or whether they will be made public.

The State Department, Ms. Psaki said, “has been proactively and consistently engaged in responding to the committee’s many requests in a timely manner, providing more than 40,000 pages of documents, scheduling more than 20 transcribed interviews and participating in several briefings and each of the committee’s hearings.”

 

 

F.C.C. Net Neutrality Rules Clear Hurdle as Republicans Concede to Obama

By JONATHAN WEISMANFEB. 24, 2015

Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said that Democrats were lining up with President Obama in favor of the F.C.C. position on net neutrality. Credit Jabin Botsford/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Senior Republicans conceded on Tuesday that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.

The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.

And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality.

Tom Wheeler, F.C.C. chairman, has been working for the last year on new rules for the Internet.F.C.C. Plans Strong Hand to Regulate the InternetFEB. 4, 2015
Internet Taxes, Another Window Into the Net Neutrality DebateFEB. 20, 2015
The F.C.C. chief, Thomas Wheeler, had proposed the faster speed standard earlier this month.F.C.C. Sharply Revises Definition of BroadbandJAN. 29, 2015
“We’re not going to get a signed bill that doesn’t have Democrats’ support,” said Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “This is an issue that needs to have bipartisan support.”

How Net Neutrality Works
The future of protecting an open Internet has been the subject of fierce debate, and potential changes to the rules by the Federal Communications Commission could affect your online experience. Video by Natalia V. Osipova and Carrie Halperin on Publish Date May 15, 2014.
The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission. But for now, Congress’s hands appear to be tied.

The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.

In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks.

Republicans hoped to pre-empt the F.C.C. vote with legislation, but Senate Democrats insisted on waiting until after Thursday’s F.C.C. vote before even beginning to talk about legislation for an open Internet. Even Mr. Thune, the architect of draft legislation to override the F.C.C., said Democrats had stalled what momentum he could muster.

And an avalanche of support for Mr. Wheeler’s plan — driven by Internet companies as varied as Netflix, Twitter, Mozilla and Etsy — has swamped Washington.

“We’ve been outspent, outlobbied. We were going up against the second-biggest corporate lobby in D.C., and it looks like we’ve won,” said Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox, a popular Web browser, referring to the cable companies. “A year ago today, we did not think we would be in this spot.”

The net neutrality movement pitted new media against old and may well have revolutionized notions of corporate social responsibility and activism. Top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements were upended by the mobilization of Internet customers and users.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
“We don’t have an army of lobbyists to deploy. We don’t have financial resources to throw around,” said Liba Rubenstein, director of social impact and public policy at the social media company Tumblr, which is owned by Yahoo, the large Internet company, but operated independently on the issue. “What we do have is access to an incredibly engaged, incredibly passionate user base, and we can give folks the tools to respond.”

Internet service providers say heavy-handed regulation of the Internet will diminish their profitability and crush investment to expand and speed up Internet access. It could even open the web to taxation to pay for new regulators.

Brian Dietz, a spokesman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, said the pro-net-neutrality advocates turned a complex and technical debate over how best to keep the Internet operating most efficiently into a matter of religion. The forces for stronger regulation, he said, became viewed as for the Internet. Those opposed to the regulation were viewed as against the Internet.

The Internet companies, he said, sometimes mislead their customers, and in some cases, are misled on the intricacies of the policy.

“Many of the things they have said just belie reality and common sense,” he said.

In April, a dozen New York-based Internet companies gathered at Tumblr’s headquarters in the Flatiron district to hear dire warnings that broadband providers were about to obtain the right to charge for the fastest speeds on the web.

The implication: If they did not pony up, they would be stuck in the slow lane.

“Tech companies would be better served to work with Congress on clear rules for the road. The thing that they’re buying into right now is a lot of legal uncertainty,” said Mr. Thune. “I’m not sure exactly what their thinking is.”

Mr. Thune said he was still willing to work with Democrats on legislation that he said would do what the F.C.C. is trying to accomplish, without a heavy regulatory hand: Ban paid “fast lanes” and stop intentional slowdowns — or “throttling” — by broadband companies seeking payment from Internet content providers.

But even he said Democrats were ready to let the F.C.C. do the job.

Correction: February 24, 2015
An earlier version of this article, using information from a Tumblr executive, misstated the location of the Tumblr boardroom. It is in the Flatiron district, not in the Flatiron Building.

ISIS abducts at least 90 from Christian villages in Syria
By Jerusalem Post (Israel) February 24, 2015 12:12 pmAMMAN- Islamic State militants have abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitor that tracks violence in Syria said on Tuesday.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the abductions took place after dawn raids in villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near the town of Tel Tmar, a mainly Assyrian town, in the western countryside of the city of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.

The latest offensive coincides with a push by Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border that began Sunday and has compounded losses for Islamic State.

The incident comes about a week after the release of a beheading video of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the hands of IS.

A caption of the video released by Islamic State militants referred to the Coptics as “people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”

The victims, kidnapped in Libya, deepened Cairo’s concerns over security threats from militants thriving in the neighboring country’s chaos.

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(c) 2015 The Jerusalem Post Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

Senate Democrats warn Netanyahu about ‘lasting repercussions’

Last Updated:February 24 @ 09:43 pm

By Jerusalem Post (Israel) February 24, 2015 12:16 pm

Two senior US Senate Democrats invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during his upcoming visit to Washington, warning that making US-Israeli relations a partisan political issue could have “lasting repercussions.”
Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein extended the invitation “to maintain Israel’s dialog with both political parties in Congress,” according to a letter to the Israeli leader obtained by Reuters.

Netanyahu has faced criticism at home and abroad for his plans to address Congress on Iran’s nuclear program on March 3, just two weeks before Israeli elections. He accepted the invitation from Republican leaders in the US Congress, who consulted neither Democrats in Congress nor Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

“This unprecedented move threatens to undermine the important bipartisan approach towards Israel – which as long-standing supporters of Israel troubles us deeply,” the two senators wrote.

“It sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points – something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we fear could have lasting repercussions,” they said.

Durbin is the No. 2 Democrat in the US Senate. Feinstein, who has been in the Senate since 1992, is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a senior member of the Appropriations and Judiciary committees.

The letter was sent on Monday evening. Officials at the Israeli Embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.

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(c) 2015 The Jerusalem Post Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Federal Officials Close Investigation Into Death of Trayvon Martin
The Justice Department announced today that the independent federal investigation found insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, officials from the FBI, and the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service met today with Martin’s family and their representatives to inform them of the findings of the investigation and the decision.

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a devastating tragedy. It shook an entire community, drew the attention of millions across the nation, and sparked a painful but necessary dialogue throughout the country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Though a comprehensive investigation found that the high standard for a federal hate crime prosecution cannot be met under the circumstances here, this young man’s premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface. We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

Following the shooting, a team of some of the department’s most experienced civil rights prosecutors and FBI agents conducted a comprehensive, independent investigation of the events of Feb. 26, 2012. The federal investigation was opened and conducted separately from the state of Florida’s investigation of the shooting under local laws. Once the state initiated the second-degree murder prosecution, federal investigators began monitoring the state’s case and halted active investigation in order not to interfere with the state’s trial. Federal investigators provided reports of interviews and other evidence they obtained to the state’s prosecution team.

Shortly after Zimmerman’s acquittal in state court on July 13, 2013, federal investigators resumed active investigation. Federal investigators reviewed all of the material and evidence generated by the state of Florida in connection with its investigation and prosecution of Zimmerman, including witness statements, crime scene evidence, cell phone data, ballistics reports, reconstruction analysis, medical and autopsy reports, depositions, and the trial record. Federal investigators also independently conducted 75 witness interviews and obtained and reviewed the contents of relevant electronic devices. The investigation included an examination of police reports and additional evidence that was generated related to encounters Zimmerman has had with law enforcement in Florida since the state trial acquittal. In addition, federal authorities retained an independent biomechanical expert who assessed Zimmerman’s descriptions of the struggle and the shooting.

The federal investigation sought to determine whether the evidence of the events that led to Martin’s death were sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman’s actions violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes, specifically Section 3631 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code or Section 249 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, as well as other relevant federal criminal statutes. Section 3631 criminalizes willfully using force or threat of force to interfere with a person’s federally protected housing rights on account of that person’s race or color. Section 249 criminalizes willfully causing bodily injury to a person because of that person’s actual or perceived race. Courts define “willfully” to require proof that a defendant knew his acts were unlawful, and committed those acts in open defiance of the law. It is one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law.

The federal investigation examined whether Zimmerman violated civil rights statutes at any point during his interaction with Martin, from their initial encounter through the fatal shooting. This included investigating whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 by approaching Martin in a threatening manner before the fatal shooting because of Martin’s race and because he was using the residential neighborhood. Investigators also looked at whether there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman violated Section 3631 or Section 249, by using force against Martin either during their struggle or when shooting Martin, because of Martin’s race.

“Although the department has determined that this matter cannot be prosecuted federally, it is important to remember that this incident resulted in the tragic loss of a teenager’s life,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.”

After a thorough and independent investigation into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of these statutes. Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed. This decision is limited strictly to the department’s inability to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statutes; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the shooting.

The Justice Department is committed to investigations of allegations of bias-motivated violence and will continue to devote the resources required to ensure that allegations of civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated. The department aggressively prosecutes criminal civil rights violations whenever there is sufficient evidence to do so.

Rumors: ISIS Captures Ramadi City, ‘300 Marines’ Trapped at al-Asad Air Base
By Jack Phillips, Epoch Times | February 12, 2015Last Updated: February 13, 2015 12:08 pm.

The city of al-Baghdadi in Iraq was taken by ISIS militants on Thursday, a few miles from an air base with U.S. Marines, according to Reuters.

But a rumor that was being spread on social media sites and several blogs said “300 Marines” were “trapped” at a nearby base, and it said Iraqi officials lost contact with them. Another rumor claimed that Ramadi city, located about 50 miles from al-Baghdadi was also taken, but that hasn’t been confirmed either.

Mainstream news outlets have not reported on 300 Marines–or any U.S. soldiers in Iraq–being “trapped” by ISIS, or the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIL.

UNCONFIRMED: There are initial reports of ISIS attack/capture of al-Asad air base in which there are over 300 U.S. marines

Misunderstanding ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate could be Costly for Small Businesses
BY ASHTON ELLIS
THURSDAY, AUGUST 08 2013

[W]hen it comes to the employer mandate, the key number is not whether there are 50 full-time workers – it’s whether the total number of hours worked for an employer is the equivalent of 50 full-time workers…

What if Congress amends a key part of ObamaCare, but doesn’t fix the underlying problem?

That could very well be the case if either of two bills passes to change the health law’s definition of a full-time employee.

As written, ObamaCare defines “full-time” as “an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.” A company that employs 50 such workers or more becomes subject to the law’s employer mandate, which levies fines ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 for every full-time employee not offered health insurance.

To avoid the mandate and its fines, many small businesses are planning to cut employee hours to stay below the 50/30 threshold. One study by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center estimates that as many as 2.3 million Americans working hourly jobs in the restaurant, retail and services, and nursing home industries can expect fewer hours (and less pay) as employers increase reliance on part-time staff.

Still, the business community is chaffing at the 30 hour definition since the normal standard for full-time employment is working 40 hours per week.

So, in order to make ObamaCare fit reality, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have introduced identical pieces of legislation to amend the law’s full-time definition to 40 hours per week.

Both are called the “Forty Hours Is Full Time Act of 2013,” and would replace “30 hours” with “40 hours,” but retain the 50 full-time workers trigger.

The idea behind the amendment push is to “keep the usual 40 hour full-time work week in place without sacrificing the goal of providing affordable, quality health to Americans,” Lipinski said in a statement.

If only it were that simple.

Because of media reports about the shift to part-time workers and legislative bills like those proposed by Collins and Lipinski, there is a widespread misperception that ObamaCare’s employer mandate applies only to individuals who themselves meet the definition of a full-time employee, however many hours it is.

This misperception creates the impression that all a company needs to do to avoid the employer mandate is reduce its full-time workforce and spread out its work to a greater number of part-timers.

But a careful reading of the law reveals a different story.

The text of ObamaCare and subsequent regulations say there are two ways a company can reach the dreaded 50 full-time employee (FTE) threshold. One way is to have 50 individuals, each employed full-time.

The other way is to add the number of full-time positions to the total number of part-time hours worked. Every time the number of part-time hours worked is equivalent to one full-time employee, ObamaCare will treat those combined part-time hours as one full-time equivalent employee. If enough part-timers can be aggregated into the number of full-time equivalent employees needed to reach 50, then the employer mandate will apply.

In other words, “Switching from full-time to part-time workers of equal total hours worked may not avoid the employer’s responsibility for offering its workers health insurance,” notes Andrew Kurz of HealthReformTrends.com.

The problem with the Collins-Lipinski solution is that it ignores the fact that ObamaCare’s employer mandate is really a tax on business formation and growth, not just jobs. What the FTE count means is that there will now be a practical limit to the amount of hours a small business can pay for before it is hit with massive increases in compliance costs. For example, under the current 50/30 formula, the threshold that triggers the employer mandate becomes 1,500 hours of work paid a week.

Passage of the Collins-Lipinski bill does not fix this problem. Instead, all it does is increase the practical limit of pre-mandate business growth by a third. By changing the formula to 40 hours, but keeping the 50 full-time employee and FTE measures, the bill raises the triggering threshold to 2,000 work hours a week.

Any work paid for at or beyond this threshold brings with it tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in either fines or increased insurance costs.

Imagine the consequences. Depending on the business, once the mandate applies, it will take hiring many additional employees just to start making a profit again. This amounts to a huge tax on business growth as employers are forced to create new firms rather than expand an existing one, or forego expansion altogether. It could even stifle enterprise formation if the number of working hours necessary to make a business go falls between 50 full-time workers and a higher staff level that doesn’t escape the mandate’s profit-killing effects.

Either way, when it comes to the employer mandate, the key number is not whether there are 50 full-time workers – it’s whether the total number of hours worked for an employer is the equivalent of 50 full-time workers, however defined.

None of this is surprising if you remember that the whole point of the employer mandate is to force the private sector to pay for an expensive benefit that the government can’t afford.

That’s the essential problem with the employer mandate, and why the only economically prudent reform is to repeal it outright.

Utah firing-squad proposal faces key vote Friday
The Associated Press – By By MICHELLE L. PRICE – Associated Press27 minutes ago

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Legislation that resurrects Utah’s use of firing squads to carry out executions faces a key vote Friday morning before the Utah House of Representatives.
The bill from Clearfield Republican Rep. Paul Ray barely won approval from a House committee last week, but it’s unclear if enough of the 75 members in the GOP-dominated House are willing to back the measure.
Ray argues a team of trained marksmen is faster and more humane than the drawn-out deaths that have occurred in botched lethal injections. His bill would call for a firing squad if Utah cannot get lethal injection drugs 30 days before an execution.
Critics say the firing squad is a gruesome relic of Utah’s Wild West past and would bring international condemnation upon the state. That criticism and excessive media attention was one of the reasons many lawmakers voted in 2004 to stop allowing condemned prisoners to choose death by firing squad.
A handful of inmates on Utah’s death row were sentenced before the law changed and still have the option of going before a firing squad in a few years once they have exhausted any appeals.
It was last used in 2010 when Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by five police officers with .30-caliber Winchester rifles.
For years, states used a three-drug combination to execute inmates, but European drug makers have refused to sell the drugs to prisons and corrections departments out of opposition to the death penalty.
Drug shortages and troubles with administering lethal injections have led several states begin revisiting alternatives over the past year
A bill to allow firing squad executions is working its way through Wyoming’s Legislature, while lawmakers in Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow that state to use nitrogen gas to execute inmates.
Ray has argued the firing squad is the fastest, most reliable method and the most humane way to kill someone.
The Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, says that a firing squad is not a foolproof method because the inmate could move or shooters could miss the heart, causing a slower, more painful death. One such case appears to have happened in Utah’s territorial days back in 1879, when a firing squad missed Wallace Wilkerson’s heart and it took him 27 minutes to die, according to newspaper accounts.
If Utah’s House votes in favor of the proposal Friday, the bill advances to the Senate, where leaders have declined to say whether they’d support it.
Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, has discussed the idea with Ray, but he has not committed to signing the bill if it makes it to his desk, according to Herbert’s spokesman Marty Carpenter.
Carpenter has said Herbert supports Ray’s “efforts to try to address the situation, to try to address the potential situation that the state would be in.”

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