Oil Drives ‘New Trade Axis’ Between Iraq And No. 1 Customer China

China’s thirst for Iraqi oil is propelling an alliance between the two Nations that, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), promises to send 80 percent of Iraq’s future petroleum exports to China.

The agency’s chief economist said there’s “a new trade axis being formed between Baghdad and Beijing” at a time when American interests in Iraqi oil are as low as they’ve been in the 10 years since U.S. troops first occupied the country.

Couple China’s aggressive search for a generous petroleum reserve with the American oil industry’s reluctance to brave the instability of Iraq’s infrastructure, safety and political climate, and the Iraqi-Chinese “axis” comes into clearer focus.

“The fact that [Chinese oil company] PetroChina is expanding in Iraq is not to me a sign of their strength; it’s a sign of their weakness,” said a New York-based energy consultant.

That’s because, despite the massive public investment that went into the United States’ invasion and reconfiguration of the Iraqi regime, American companies have the luxury of choosing more attractive petroleum mining options elsewhere (including on their home soil), rather than deal with the postwar headache that Iraqi oil logistics has become.

China, meanwhile, has far fewer options, and currently lacks the technology to explore recent and unconventional extraction methods that are benefitting U.S. companies at home and in West Africa.

 

 

Racist, Black Alabama Politician Attacks Concerned Gun Owner

Alabama State Representative Joe Mitchell (D-Mobile) is in hot water after a mass email sent by Alabamian Eddie Maxwell to legislators in the State at 10:54 p.m. on Jan. 27 was made public this week.

Maxwell, a white Alabama voter, simply stated in the email to all of his legislators that he felt any attempt by the State’s lawmakers to put new gun laws in place would violate the State constitution.

Mitchell allegedly responded with a racist tirade which classified all white people as the descendants of “slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kin folk.”

Alabama Representative Patricia Todd (D- Birmingham), also responded to the email chain decrying Mitchell’s response and supporting Alabamians’ right to bear arms.

Below is the email exchange, including Todd’s response, as reported by AL.com:

From: Eddie Maxwell

Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:54 PM

To: (all members of state legislature)

Subject: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Can the officers of our state government change our constitution when the change is forbidden by the people? The Supreme Court of Alabama has ruled that it cannot in an opinion dealing with another matter where change is forbidden. You have sworn to support our constitution. You have defined a violation of an oath in an official proceeding as a class C felony (C.O.A. Section 13A-10-101 Perjury in the first degree).

Do not violate your oath of office by introducing additional gun control bills or by allowing those already enacted to remain in the body of our laws.

From: Representative Joseph Mitchell

Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:59 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Hey man. You have used the word ‘except’ when I think you mean somethin’ else.

Hey man. Your folk never used all this sheit to protect my folk from your slave-holding, murdering, adulterous, baby-raping, incestuous, snaggle-toothed, backward-a**ed, inbreed, imported criminal-minded kin folk. You can keep sending me stuff like you have however because it helps me explain to my constituents why they should protect that 2nd amendment thing AFTER we finish stocking up on spare parts, munitions and the like.

Bring it. As one of my friends in the Alabama Senate suggested – “BRING IT!!!!”

JOSEPHm, a prepper (’70-’13)

Mobile County

From: Eddie Maxwell

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 2:23 PM

To: Representative Joseph Mitchell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Rep. Mitchell and other members of the Legislature of Alabama,

That’s not the type of reply I expect to receive from a state legislator. The lack of response to your racist comments from your fellow members speaks volumes about the state of our legislature as a whole.

I’m not a racist and I find your reply to be especially offensive considering the position you hold.

My parents and grandparents taught me to love God and my fellow man as myself. My father was threatened by members of his church back in 1954 for inviting a black family to attend the church he pastored.

My father-in-law was threatened when he hired a young negro man to work in his shop back in 1968 in a community where several neighbors were members of the Ku Klux Klan. He didn’t allow those threats to keep him from treating people of all races equally.

In 1969, I was a draftee in the US Army and bunked with a young negro man named Earl Shinholster at Fort Benning. Earl later became a prominent leader of the NAACP back home in Georgia after serving with me in the Army. When I received numerous racist threats from negroes who knew I lived near Birmingham, Earl warned me of the knives they carried and cautioned me to be more careful around them. Earl had been watching me and he had come to know and respect me for my Christian values. Earl and I became friends and he helped me get through some tough times there.

Racism is not exclusive to my own people. I learned that before 1955. It is just as ugly now as it was then, regardless of the race of the person who is consumed by it.

I love my country and my state, and I vowed to support and defend our constitutions. I expect you and all of our representative to do the same.

Sincerely,

Eddie Maxwell

From: Patricia Todd

Sent: Monday, February 11, 2013 4:41 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

Cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Mr. Maxwell:

I am Patricia Todd, a member of the house. I just received this chain of emails and wanted to let you know that I am with you on the gun issue and am saddened by the tone of my colleagues email. All of us have suffered from the racism of the past and I thank you for your civic and thoughtful response.

We all have different life experience that shapes our values. I pray that we can all respect, and, celebrate, our differences. That is what make America the greatest country on earth, scars and all.

This member hears you loud and clear.

From: Representative Joseph Mitchell

Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 5:09 PM

To: Eddie Maxwell

cc: (all members)

Subject: Re: Gun Control and our Constitutions

Eddie. I grew up in Albany Ga. I was a military brat for most of my youth. Air Jump Master and DI USMC. Because I preference my issues with the values that I learned in ‘the heat of battle’ during the mid-fifties through the ‘70’s and into today might tell you what and who I am. I find no need to define it or explain it to you because you can identify with the threats of reprisals against your folk for helping somebody of African Descent. I know ol’ Ft. Benning and Columbus like the palm of my hand.

Where were you during the Albany Movement? Oh…. You shoulda been there. I am certain that your experiences through how your kin folk ‘helped’ colored folk would have helped us a lot when we were bombed in Albany, Leesburg, Newton and Sylvester.

I apologize for the restless nights your folk endured out of fear of the Klan. At least as they stood on the sidewalk watching my cousins and me get beat up by some of your neighbors they were able to push you out into the street to physically intervene. They did do that didn’t they? Oh …. Well, I rear where you were one of the first to integrate the all-colored school to prove your parents point.

Do you that your fathers ‘black’ friend was unable to get FHA benefits? Knowing about those knives and stuff were of benefit but did you know that colored military typically carried knives to protect themselves from folk who looked like your father? Historically, violence on Black folk was committed by White folk. It’s a fact but is it ‘racist?’ It is ‘racial.’ I had seven uncles and three aunts who served in three different ‘encounters. My father was Regular Army.

Eddie, a person without the power to exercise a threat cannot be a racist because he or she will be eliminated. A person who can, by merely stepping back on the sidewalk’ ore being quiet can support racism and benefit from the ‘first hired,’ affirmative action, preferential treatment fostered by systemic racism and bigotry.

It is unlikely that I, through sharing my many experiences on the receiving end, will convince you of your errors. For that matter, you will never convince me that our discomforts were comparable. Let the next generations resolve this continuing story.

Lock and load.

jmitchell

Newark Mayor Says Late-Night Businesses Invite Violence, Shouldn’t Just ‘Have Their Way’

The Newark, N.J., mayor who once opposed regulating local businesses to death in the name of safety appears to be softening, suggesting now that the city should stop allowing businesses that stay open late at night to “have their way.”

CBS New York quotes Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s apparent change of heart in the wake of two deadly late-night shootings: one at a local IHOP, the other at a convenience store.

“Irvington closes their bars an hour before we do. East Orange closes restaurants at 10 p.m., so why in Newark [do] we let folks kind of have their way and go a lot later?” he asked. “We also want people to be safe and we’ve got to strike the balance. We need to start talking, questioning that. And if you want to stay open later, maybe there should be certain requirements.”

Couple Marries At Uncle’s Funeral

PHILADELPHIA, (UPI) — A Philadelphia couple, honoring a deceased loved one, got married at his funeral, in a surprise ceremony that astonished 850 onlookers in the church.

The marriage of Reggie Wade, 39, and his bride, Monique McMillan-Wade, 29, took place this month at the funeral of Wade’s uncle, Gregory “Chops” Scott, who was shot to death Feb. 27, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday.

Before his death, Scott promised to walk the bride down the aisle, because her father had died years ago.

Wade said he and McMillan-Wade chose to honor Scott’s promise by combining their wedding with his funeral.

“We keep our promises, and he promised to give her away,” said Scott’s widow, Alfreda Johnson-Scott. “And he was dressed for the occasion.”

Scott was a community leader and drill master of the Gold Coast Buccaneers marching drill team in West Philadelphia, and his funeral attracted 2,000 mourners and four drill teams, closing the city’s Pine Street and overwhelming the First Corinthian Baptist Church, the newspaper said.

During the 4-hour funeral service, the Rev. Caleb Johnson announced: “If you came to this looking for a funeral as usual, you’re in the wrong place. This is going to be one for the books.”

He then married Wade and McMillan-Wade as they stood before the casket. The bride and groom each wore black and gold T-shirts, Buccaneer colors, with Scott’s picture on the front, the newspaper said.

School District Bans Dodge Ball

WINDHAM, N.H., (UPI) — A New Hampshire school district has banned dodge ball from gym classes after parents complained about their children being bullied during the games.

The Windham School board voted 4-1 to end dodge ball and similar “human target” games after parents complained children were being bullied and targeted by other students during the ball-throwing game, WBZ-TV, Boston, reported Thursday.

A special committee formed by the district to study the issue recommended such games be eliminated.

“It’s almost turning into a nanny state,” said school board member Dennis Senibaldi, who cast the single vote against the ban. “What happens when they replace that game with something different that another group doesn’t want to play, do we eliminate that group of games?”

Superintendent Henry LaBranche said the school district is trying to teach students to respect one another, and dodge ball and similar games “create conditions inconsistent with that message.”

Man Allegedly Shot Buck At Walmart

BLAIRSVILLE, Pa., (UPI) — Authorities in Pennsylvania said a man faces charges including reckless endangerment for allegedly shooting a white-tailed deer in a Walmart parking lot.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission said Arcangelo Bianco Jr., 40, used a handgun to shoot the deer in the parking lot of the Resort Plaza Walmart in Blairsville in November and bagged the buck on the other side of the road, The Indiana (Pa.) Gazette reported Wednesday.

In addition to misdemeanor reckless endangerment, Bianco faces five hunting-related summary charges, including hunting without a license, shooting on or across highways and unlawful killing or taking of big game.

“Obviously, we can’t have someone running through a Walmart parking lot shooting at a deer,” wildlife conservation officer Jack Lucas said.

The case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing May 1.

Texas Students Strike Down Pot Proposal

AUSTIN, Texas, (UPI) — The University of Texas student government struck down a proposal to support ticketing rather than arresting people possessing less than 4 ounces of marijuana.

The proposal, which would have been non-binding and wouldn’t have required campus police to abide by it, was struck down Tuesday after student government members objected to the idea of issuing tickets instead of arrests for amounts of marijuana under 4 ounces, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Wednesday.

“Students come to this university … to change the world and not to get high,” student government member Perry Pickei said.

Supports said the proposal would have saved money for university police and keep students and staff members safe.

University Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom, who was present at Tuesday’s meeting, said it is department policy to issue tickets instead of arrests for less than 2 ounces of marijuana. He said the decision of whether to arrest students carrying less than 4 ounces of marijuana is left up to the discretion of officers.

$10 Fine Dropped For Swearing Cockatoo

WARWICK, R.I., (UPI) — A Rhode Island woman whose pet cockatoo was accused of repeatedly using profanity directed toward a next door neighbor won’t have to pay a fine, police said.

Lynn Taylor of Warwick fought the $10 noise citation last year in municipal court after her neighbor complained about the bird’s foul language and appealed the case to Providence Superior Court, WJAR-TV, Providence, reported Wednesday.

Police said the city decided to drop the case rather than continue to expend city resources attempting to enforce a $10 fine.

Obama: ‘Shame On Us If We’ve Forgotten’

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — President Obama, standing with families of victims of gun violence, Thursday made an emotional appeal for Congress to act on gun control.

“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” Obama said in the White House East Room referring to the 26 children and adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

“It’s been barely 100 days since 20 innocent children and six brave educators were taken from us by gun violence – including Grace McDonnell and Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis, whose families are here today,” the president said.

“I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.”

Also there was the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honor student killed in January at a park less than a mile from Obama’s home in Chicago. The cheerleader had attended Obama’s second inaugural in Washington.

“Everything they lived for and hoped for, taken away in an instant,” he said. “We have moms on this stage whose children were killed as recently as 35 days ago.”

Seeking to build momentum for new gun control measures to be debated in the Senate, Obama said that’s why in January he asked Vice President Biden to lead a task force to develop common-sense proposals to “reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe.”

The measures include expanded background checks on firearm purchases, tougher penalties on straw purchases of firearms and new funding for school security.

“Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or hand on a gun?” he asked. “Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?”

The White House event came on a “National Day to Demand Action” in which gun-control advocates planned more than 140 public events in 29 states to call for universal background checks.

U.S. Reaffirms Commitment To South Korea

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to South Korea as North Korean threats increase tensions in the region, the Pentagon says.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed the commitment in a phone call to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, the Defense Department said in a statement released Thursday.

“Secretary Hagel and Minister Kim reaffirmed the strength of the alliance, which has been, and continues to be, instrumental in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula,” said Pentagon press secretary George Little.

In the Wednesday night conversation, Hagel highlighted the additional military support provided to Seoul as a sign of the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea. He also mentioned a counter-provocation plan recently signed by the two allies that set up a procedure to improve coordination in the event of a North Korean attack.

Army Gen. James D. Thurman also received a vote of confidence from Hagel for the steps he has taken to integrate command and control functions with the South Koreans.

Gov. Christie Files Re-Election Petition

TRENTON, N.J., (UPI) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie filed the formal paperwork to run for re-election in the June 4 primary, election records show.

The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger said Thursday Christie and his main Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono, both turned in the petitions required to be on the ballot ahead of Monday’s pending deadline.

The petitions must still be confirmed by the state Division of Elections, but the newspaper said Christie and Buono both have far more than the 1,000 signatures needed to make the ballot.

Christie has been touted in the U.S. media as a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016. The Star-Ledger said Christie’s popularity has thus far resulted in raising about $5 million in campaign contributions, according to state records. Buono’s war chest stood at about $1 million.

Report: Obama Issued 149 Orders So Far

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — President Obama is on track to issue about as many executive orders in his two terms as his predecessor George W. Bush, records indicated.

As of Wednesday, records showed Obama issued 149 executive orders, 147 from his first term and two this year, The Hill reported Thursday.

Bush issued 173 executive orders through the end of his first term, the American Presidency Project said. President Bill Clinton issued 200 executive orders through his first term.

Comparing Obama’s use of executive power to his predecessors is thorny, since such orders are only part of a president’s authority arsenal, experts said.

“They’re not the only measure of presidential assertion of authority,” said Kenneth Mayer, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who studied the presidency extensively. “He’s actually been pretty aggressive on a number of fronts.”

Obama, Mayer told The Hill, has enacted policy shifts through informal “executive actions” on issues such gun control, immigration and drone strikes overseas.

For example, his 2011 decision to halt the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants was communicated by memo from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

While Obama isn’t the first U.S. president to bypass Congress to exert authority, his actions — such as the halting of deportations — have drawn Republican ire.

“He’s circumventing Congress with a directive he may not have the authority to execute,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said when the immigration decision was announced.

Poll: Teachers Love Their Job

PRINCETON, N.J., (UPI) — Teachers in the United States rate their lives better than all other occupations except physicians, a Gallup poll released Thursday indicated.

However, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index results indicate that teachers rank their work environment eighth of 14 occupation types.

Teachers have an average Life Evaluation Index score of 68.8, ahead of workers in most other types of jobs, including managers and executives, nurses and business owners, Gallup said.

Other than work environment, teachers scored higher than almost all occupational groups on in a number of areas, including emotional health, healthy behaviors, basic access and physical health, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.

Teachers also reported high levels of stress, second only to physicians, with 47 percent saying they experience stress daily, Gallup said.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey with a random sample of 172,286 workers from Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2012. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points for the smallest sample group (physicians) and less than 1 percentage point for larger groups such as professionals, service workers or managers/executives

Sandy Hook Shooting Information Released

NEWTOWN, Conn., (UPI) — It took Adam Lanza less than 5 minutes to fire 155 bullets at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the lead prosecutor in the massacre said Thursday.

State’s Prosecutor Stephen Sedensky said 154 rounds were fired from a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and one bullet was fired from a Glock handgun Lanza used to kill himself Dec. 14, NBC News reported.

Some of the information from warrants and an accounting of what police recovered in Lanza’s home and vehicle were released Thursday, a week before state lawmakers were to take up bipartisan reforms to Connecticut’s gun laws, as well as and mental health and school safety reform.

Authorities said three samurai swords were recovered at the home that Lanza shared with his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he killed before heading to the elementary school, where he killed 20 children and six adults before shooting himself.

Also recovered were a National Rifle Association certificate and boxes of Lanza’s papers and writings, authorities said.

Police also recovered nine 30-round magazines, three of which were full, for the Bushmaster Lanza took to Sandy Hook, NBC News said.

Besides the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle with a 30-round magazine and the Glock 10mm handgun, authorities said they found a Sig-Sauer 9mm semiautomatic pistol in the school.

Police found a shotgun in the car Lanza drove to the school.

All of the weapons were legally owned by his mother, authorities have said.

Reports indicated Lanza was obsessed with mass killings, including the 2011 massacre in Oslo, Norway, in which 77 people died in a shooting and bomb attack.

A law enforcement official told NBC News in February Lanza collected material on mass shootings, although the official said there was no indication whether the material had a role in the school massacre.

State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, has said next Wednesday is the date planned for a vote on a bipartisan package of gun reforms and mental health and school security legislation in the works for weeks since the Dec. 14 tragedy, the New Haven Register reported Thursday.

The bipartisan legislation is expected to include a ban on future sales of magazines with greater than 10 rounds; universal background checks stronger penalties for gun violations and new registration rules, the Register said.

Theater Killing Suspect Offers Guilty Plea

CENTENNIAL, Colo., (UPI) — The man accused of killing 12 people in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater would plead guilty if he can avoid the death penalty, court documents indicate.

In a motion filed Wednesday, lawyers for James Holmes said Holmes offered to plead guilty if he could avoid a death penalty and serve a sentence of life in prison without parole, The Denver Post reported.

The same offer was made before an arraignment hearing earlier this month, the motion said.

“Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved,” the motion said.

The prosecution said it would announce during a court hearing Monday whether it would seek the death penalty. Prosecutors said they wanted to consult with survivors and victims’ families.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others when he opened fire in the movie theater July 20. He has been charged 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other offenses.

In the motion, Holmes’ attorneys said prosecutors haven’t accepted the offer, the Post reported.

His attorneys say in the document they thought the case could be closed Monday.

“It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty,” the lawyers wrote.

If prosecutors reject the offer, Holmes’ lawyers said they may launch a mental health defense and would defend Holmes “vigorously.”

A representative from the prosecutor’s office said he couldn’t comment on the motion because of a gag order.

A judge earlier this month entered a plea of not guilty to the charges on Holmes’ behalf after his attorneys refused to enter a plea.

Holmes’ trial is scheduled for Aug. 5 and is expected to last about a month.

McCain And Gang Tweet Immigrant’s Pain, Gold Can’t Save You?, Mainstream Media=Robot Reporting, Dodgeball Breeds Psychopaths, Snail Sex Is Worth Your Money : Thursday Morning News Roundup 3-28-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Gang-of-Eight RINO John McCain hung out around Nogales, Ariz., and allegedly watched someone try to scale an 18-foot border fence into the United States. He allegedly took a picture Johnny-on-the-spot, tweeted it and then tweeted again that the poor soul allegedly had been caught.

 

  • Global bank larceny has gotten so out of hand that financial seer Marc Faber is now warning investors not even gold will suffice as a haven to abide the coming meltdown. “My concern is that we are going to have a systemic crisis where it is going to be very difficult to hide,” Faber explains. “Even in gold. It will be difficult to hide.”

 

  • Finally, they’re carrying one of the de facto truths of mainstream media to its logical conclusion: Computers are starting to robo-report the news in place of mainstream media journalists. The Los Angeles Times is doing it (though another paper, of course, reported the story.) May the droids fare better.

 

  • A local school board in New Hampshire is getting tough on dodgeball and other “human target” recreational mainstays. Drawing a line between the childhood staple and bullying, aggression and violent tendencies that carry over into adulthood, the board voted to ban the playground and street games — over the opposition of some parents who called the vote a “nanny state” move.

 

  • Priorities: The University of Iowa is spending nearly 1 million Federally awarded dollars to study whether New Zealand mud snails get anything more than kids out of having sex. It’s been ongoing since 2011; but, you know, with snails, these things take time.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

What’s This? Healthcare Premiums Could Rise Under Obamacare?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — you know it as Obamacare — inches closer and closer to revealing itself as the social-engineering bill of goods many Americans saw it for, from the moment it first passed in 2010.

This week’s revelation? That coverage premiums will actually rise — for the demographic most in need of the so-called affordable care — as the new law comes online.

That admission comes from no less than a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet: Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Next year is the first fiscal cycle that many of the Obamacare plan’s most sweeping provisions are set to take effect. Ahead of the changes, insurance companies are due to start making their 2014 rates known in coming weeks.

“As a former insurance commissioner I have watched what transparency does to a market. This is the first time ever in the history of the United States that insurance companies have to file their rates, it has to be very transparent, they have to offer the same kind of coverage without 5,000 tiny little lines and internal caps, and they have to compete for customers,” Sebelius told reporters Tuesday. “And I am a believer in the market strategies that in and of itself will minimize the rate impact.”

The idea that Obamacare “forces” insurers to be transparent in their rates schemes, and thereby introduces a self-correcting bit of market competitiveness that’s supposed to drive coverage prices down, has been a major point of contention. From Day One, the Obama Administration has put its full faith in the idea that insurers will reduce their prices in order to stay competitive.

But then, according to The Wall Street Journal, Sibelius said this of young people and others who are currently either without healthcare coverage, or who are underserved by their current insurance:

These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market. But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.

Truth is, no one knows what insurers’ rates will look like for customers new to the Obamacare-influenced market next year; but there’s a lot of reason to start saving now. A study released this month indicates that per-person medical claim costs under individually insured plans could jump 32 percent, on average, once the law is in full effect. Add to that a separate WSJ report last week that insurance companies are already cautioning brokers to get ready for a steep increase in individual and small business-sponsored healthcare plan premiums in 2014.

Sibelius’ comments Tuesday simply mark her as one of the first Obama officials to actually acknowledge that plain fact — however grudgingly.

NYPD’s UnConstitutional Stop-And-Frisk Game

Imagine walking down the street in some less-traveled part of Manhattan — say, the Morningside Heights neighborhood. You’re enjoying the mild weather and urban hum of an early April evening. Maybe you’re a visitor who wants a street-level view of residential life in the big city. Maybe you’re a Columbia University student, walking to the bus stop after a day in the classroom.

Or maybe you’re a run-of-the-mill native New Yorker, one of millions of city dwellers whose parents or grandparents put down roots in the Nation’s greatest ethnic melting pot, all in a bid to realize the American dream.

Now imagine a squad car pulling up and a pair of NYPD’s finest pouncing out of the vehicle with their guns drawn — on you. Imagine being thrown against a wall, your pockets emptied, the contents of your backpack dumped on the ground, the feel of pistol steel against the back of your head. Imagine not knowing a thing about why it happened, having no inkling of what was about to happen — or why. It just happened, and then you’re back on your way.

Oh, and imagine that every bit of that happened less than a block from your own home.

That’s the stop-and-frisk experience for many New Yorkers each day, as it has been since 1971, when the policy was first allowed under a court-established legal precedent. The city has come under increased criticism in recent years for allowing the police to rely more heavily on the policy than in the past.

Now, police testimony in a class-action lawsuit against the city confirms what many already knew: The cops are targeting minorities and using a quota system that’s driven from the top down. The Guardian describes the testimony of two New York Police Department officers who testified in Federal court last week, noting the stop-and-frisk program is “driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers.”

One of the cops, officer Adhyl Polanco, said Tuesday that “there’s a difference” between what the police are supposed to do and “what goes on out there.” He also said cops in his Bronx precinct had been expected to issue 20 summonses and make one arrest every month, with tangible repercussions for failure. If they couldn’t, a senior officer would hop in the squad car with them, take them out into the streets and show the younger cop how it’s done.

“We were handcuffing kids for no reason,” he added.

There’s an undeniable connection between the jump in residents’ stop-and-frisk complaints over the past decade and the tenures of both Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Stop and frisk has seen its search count increase by 600 percent since Bloomberg became mayor. Since it began, the program has accounted for more than 5 million impromptu searches, a dubious honor it acquired just last week.

While crime has declined in New York City, plaintiffs in the lawsuit point out that it’s not an exceptional trend, that crime in most U.S. urban centers has experienced similar declines — without policies in place that authorize unConstitutional searches.

The lawsuit understandably seeks an end to stop-and-frisk on 4th Amendment grounds. Nearly 90 percent of all stop-and-frisk searches end with no arrest, summons or citation. By far, most of those who’ve been searched have been black or Hispanic. The Guardian article references one cop who described the target demographic for stop and frisk as “male blacks 14 to 21.”

Skool Is Goodest

Nestled close by the beautiful beaches of Florida’s famed Boca Raton lies an institution of higher learning in which young minds are nurtured in an academic embrace as warm as the Gulf Stream breezes that flow gently through the campus. Inside the magnificent-yet-comfortable buildings, world-renowned for their architectural perfection, one of the finest collections of minds ever assembled imparts its encyclopedic wisdom to rising generations of future accomplishment.

With multiple Nobel laureates in nearly every department, the quality of instruction is augmented not only by the state-of-the-art learning facilities, but an average student-to-professor ratio of 10-to-1. This school’s every discipline is enhanced by the finest equipment available to mankind. The working fusion reactor will light up prospective physics majors, while language majors will surely be talking about the immersive foreign-language-only dormitories. For the historians: A library with original copies of each of the Founding Fathers’ memoirs will transport them into the past. For the ecologists: A fully self-sustaining bio-dome will feel like home.

This school’s athletic programs produce multiple national championships in multiple sports and challenges among the elite each season, while the 4 million-square-foot field house staffed with certified personal trainers and the latest technological advances and comforts makes fitness a reality for every student. In the dormitories, the school’s world-renowned design and engineering majors have created a living environment that not only is as comfortable as home, but also is optimized for the ultimate combination of ergonomics and academics. And when refueling is required for the rigors of study, the dining hall is Michelin-rated 4 stars and operates 24 hours a day.

What aspiring young mind wouldn’t dream of earning a degree from such a place? What parent wouldn’t dream the same for his child? Armed with a degree from such an esteemed
university, a young person could do nearly anything. The benefit to society of multiple graduates of the place would be almost incalculable.

Of course, no such college exists. However, one could matriculate to Florida Atlantic University, which offers courses such as “Intercultural Communications” under the watchful eye of Palm Beach Democratic Party Vice Chairman Deandre Poole. Until last week, the class included the following exercise (from the teachers’ manual that accompanies the textbook Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition):

Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper.

Just think of the career paths open to a survivor of such a school. Seriously, think of them. Because all I can come up with involves either working for the government or not working at all. After all, the Democratic Party can’t pay everyone to make House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s lattes; and MSNBC isn’t hiring writers these days.

–Ben Crystal

A Republican Congress In 2014? GOP Senate Takeover Gains Momentum

In the years in between Congressional elections, punditry over each party’s bid to control the U.S. House and Senate tends to die down. But with the announced retirement of one Senate Democrat who hails from a largely red state, political forecasters are reviving the 2012 election-season talk that predicts a GOP takeover when the 2014 elections roll around.

Senator Tim Johnson (D-S.C.) announced Tuesday he won’t run again when his Senate seat comes open in 2014. That brings to 21 the total number of Senate seats currently held by Democrats that will come up in the 2014 election cycle. Five of those 21 will be available because Democratic incumbents like Johnson retired.

That’s double trouble for the Democratic Party, because retiring Democrats from Republican-leaning States often take with them a measure of moderate, crossover rapport that dries up as younger and, often, more liberal candidates come on board. Johnson’s retirement marks the second instance of a Democrat — one representing a State that voted Republican in the 2012 Presidential race — stepping away from the Senate after his current term.

In contrast with the Democrats’ bid to retain 21 seats in 2014, Republicans must retain only 14.

Right now, there are 53 Democrats in the Senate and 45 Republicans. Two more independent Senators caucus with the Democrats. That means the GOP must gain at least six seats to form a simple majority. There might be other political eras when those kinds of numbers would present a tremendous challenge to GOP leaders. But in the lame-duck days of President Barack Obama, Republicans are already sharpening their knives.

“It’s murderous in 2014,” said The Washington Post of Democrats’ chances, back before the 2012 elections had even taken place.

The Obama voter-backlash factor could be decisive on a national scale this time, expanding far beyond the 2010 and 2012 backlash witnessed in conservative regions, where polls saw an abundance of straight-ticket GOP voting. Voters everywhere will finally be getting their first real taste of Obamacare — a big wild card that could strongly affect public opinion going into the 2014 season. And in order to retain some good will among even Democratic voters in all but a handful of predominantly urban states, the President would have to swerve course dramatically, between now and next year, on hard-line gun control, civil liberties, spending and White House transparency.

“The playing field and weather conditions are great for us,” a GOP spokesman told The Hill Tuesday. “Now we have to go out and execute.”

Hunters Threaten Boycott While Gun Grabbers Run Colorado

Following last week’s passage of three pieces of legislation making Colorado a pretty unfriendly place for guns owners and the exercise of 2nd Amendment powers, some hunters are uniting to deny the State something very empowering indeed: revenue.

Websites where gun and hunting enthusiasts share ideas have now become bulletin boards where word of the boycott has begun gaining momentum, according to a Gazette story Wednesday.

Outfitters have also begun reporting cancelled trips from out-of-State hunters, though not in devastating numbers — so far. One hunting guide said it’s likely the trend will grow.

“There’s a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them,” said Chris Jurney, who offers support and guidance for hunters in the State’s northwest corner. “That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we’re going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, signed the three pieces of controversial gun control legislation into law on March 20. The laws limit the size of ammo magazines to 15 rounds, require universal background checks for gun transactions and force customers to pay for the background checks.

You already know about Magpul, the Erie-based business who’s in the process of moving its operations out of the State in response to the ban. The Outdoor Channel’s Michael Bane is following suit, declining to film his hunting programs in Colorado while the State’s new gun laws remain.