Benghazi Subpoenas; Obama’s Climate War; Kerry’s Replacement; The Elusive Snowden; Pork Bullets Send Martyrs To Hell — Monday Morning News Roundup 6-24-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who’s investigating last year’s terror attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, has subpoenaed four State Department officials, saying the department was stalling on efforts to interview them. Source: Washington Times…
  • President Barack Obama is launching fresh battles over climate change with plans to curb emissions using executive powers that sidestep Congress — including controversial rules to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. Source: The Hill…
  • Democratic U.S. Representative Edward Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez face off today in a special election to determine a successor to John Kerry, who left the Senate to lead the Obama Administration’s cabinet as Secretary of State. The race appears to be Markey’s to lose. Source: Reuters…
  • Russia’s foreign minister has said the surveillance whistle-blower Edward Snowden never crossed the border into the country, deepening the mystery over his suspected flight from Hong Kong. Source: The Guardian…
  • An Idaho ammunition manufacturer has developed “Jihawg,” a new line of pork-laced bullets they hope will fight against Islamic terrorists — and keep them from going to heaven. “With Jihawg Ammo, you don’t just kill an Islamist terrorist, you also send him to hell. That should give would-be martyrs something to think about before they launch an attack.” Source: CBS Seattle…

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What Recovery? 7 Of 10 Americans Live Paycheck To Paycheck

Savings rates among American families have remained stagnant over the duration of America’s supposed recovery from the 2008 recession, and most people live paycheck to paycheck, with virtually no cash on hand to see them through an emergency.

That’s the not-so-surprising news arising from Monday’s analysis of a recent survey by Bankrate.

The survey found that 71 percent of Americans don’t have enough money in savings to weather a six-month emergency’s worth of living expenses, 50 percent have no more than three months’ worth of savings, and 27 percent have no savings at all.

Senior Financial Analyst Greg McBride said there’s a strange dichotomy separating Americans’ relative optimism concerning their net worth, job security and progress toward retirement from the reality of chronic paycheck-to-paycheck living:

Just one in five Americans feels their overall financial situation is worse now than one year ago… [But]Americans continue to express discomfort with their level of savings.

And it’s no wonder, looking at the lack of progress Americans have made in establishing an adequate savings cushion. Just 24 percent of Americans have enough savings to cover six months’ worth of expenses — comparatively unchanged since 2011 and 2012. At the other end of the spectrum are the 27 percent of Americans that have no emergency savings whatsoever, further highlighting how little progress Americans have made in moving the needle on emergency savings.

Aside from exaggerated proclamations from President Barack Obama that the U.S. is on a strong track toward a full economic “recovery,” part of the reason for sluggish savings can be attributed to some families’ focus, during the post-recession years, of getting out of the red before even thinking about getting into the black. Many are still whittling away at debts, according to financial planner Richard T. Fight, and others are simply still in paycheck-to-paycheck mode after blowing through their savings when the recession claimed their jobs or forced them into an unexpected retirement.

“Three months’ worth of expenses is hard to think about when you’ve been trying to find work for so long,” he told Bankrate. “People who [are] unemployed or underemployed are just trying to get by.”

It’s worth noting, also, that the survey doesn’t clarify whether it considers government-backed income replacement funds like SNAP cards, subsidized student loans and Pell grants, unemployment and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) as income in its survey methodology.

SCOTUS Punts On Affirmative Action; Clarence Thomas Calls Practice ‘A Nonstarter’

The U.S. Supreme Court was expected to hand down a landmark decision Monday, one that would determine the fate of affirmative action in America.

Instead, it took no action and remanded the case back to a lower court, opining that a university’s admissions practices weren’t properly vetted by the lower court and that, in reconsidering the case, the lower court should examine the process correctly — instead of “deferring to the University’s good faith,” as Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

The decision doesn’t have the effect of endorsing or repealing affirmative action, but it does suggest the Supreme Court is stocked with justices who, if a merits case appeared before them, would favor ending the 48-year-old practice.

In his opinion Monday, Justice Clarence Thomas went beyond that hypothetical, letting it be known that he clearly believes there’s no place in America for institutionalized racial favoritism. He revisited his minority opinion of the 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the court upheld another university’s affirmative action admissions practices:

I write separately to explain that I would overrule Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U. S. 306 (2003), and hold that a State’s use of race in higher education admissions decisions is categorically prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause…Attaining diversity for its own sake is a nonstarter. As even Grutter recognized, the pursuit of diversity as an end is nothing more than impermissible “racial balancing.” … Rather, diversity can only be the means by which the University obtains educational benefits; it cannot be an end pursued for its own sake. Therefore, the educational benefits allegedly produced by diversity must rise to the level of a compelling state interest in order for the program to survive strict scrutiny.

…It is also noteworthy that, in our desegregation cases, we rejected arguments that are virtually identical to those advanced by the University today. The University asserts, for instance, that the diversity obtained through its discriminatory admissions program prepares its students to become leaders in a diverse society… The segregationists likewise defended segregation on the ground that it provided more leadership opportunities for blacks.

Monday’s case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, involved a white woman who was denied admission to the university and sued on the grounds of racial discrimination, arguing that other less-qualified minority students had been admitted ahead of her, thanks to affirmative action.

Instead of delivering a seismic ruling that favored either the plaintiff or the university, the Supreme Court essentially interjected the court system into future affirmative action policies at universities by asserting that schools must apply “strict scrutiny” in justifying the role racial background is to play in the admissions process. As Amy Howe explained the ruling Monday on SCOTUS blog:

The Court in Fisher took pains to make clear exactly what this means:  courts can no longer simply rubber-stamp a university’s determination that it needs to use affirmative action to have a diverse student body.  Instead, courts themselves will need to confirm that the use of race is “necessary” — that is, that there is no other realistic alternative that does not use race that would also create a diverse student body.  Because the lower court had not done so, the Court sent the case back for it to determine whether the university could make this showing.

Chicagoland Mayor Ditches Bloomberg Gun Grabbers; Rangle Wrangles The GOP; Snowden Pardon Petition Hits Target; Jim Carrey’s Krazy Gun Control Tweets — Personal Liberty Digest™ P.M. Edition 6-24-2013

Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.

 

Chicagoland Mayor Ditches Bloomberg’s Gun Control; Embraces Concealed Carry

A Chicagoland mayor is embracing concealed carry in a very personal way, revealing he’s parting ways with Mayors Against Illegal Guns after learning the group’s agenda goes far beyond its implied purpose of taking guns out of criminals’ hands. Read More… 

 

Dem Lawmaker: GOP Can Save Itself By Being More Democrat

Representative Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has set about on an odd mission: saving the Republican Party by urging members of the GOP to support Democrat legislative proposals. Wait, what? Read More… 

 

White House Website Petition To Pardon Edward Snowden Surpasses Threshold For Presidential Response

A petition begun June 9 at President Barack Obama’s “We The People” White House petition website calling for the pardon of Edward Snowden has crossed the 100,000-signature threshold needed in order to elicit an official response. But in Snowden’s case, the Administration wouldn’t be breaking precedent if it’s met with silence. Read More…

 

Jim Carrey Shoots Off His Mouth About Gun Violence

Comedian Jim Carrey caused a firestorm in March when he released the anti-gun video “Cold Dead Hand.” Now, the loudmouthed actor is once again making headlines for spouting off about gun violence. Read More… 

White House Website Petition To Pardon Edward Snowden Surpasses Threshold For Presidential Response

A petition begun June 9 at President Barack Obama’s “We The People” White House petition website calling for the pardon of Edward Snowden has crossed the 100,000-signature threshold needed in order to elicit an official response.

As of Monday afternoon, the petition had exceeded 113,000 signatures. It calls Snowden a “national hero” and commends him for shining a light on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) furtive spying programs he observed as a former contractor:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

Pardon Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a national hero and should be immediately issued a full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs.

We The People has been active since Obama launched the site in 2011 as a high-profile effort to demonstrate his Administration’s commitment to transparency and accessibility. But scandals involving the National Security Agency, The Associates Press and the Internal Revenue Service have damaged whatever goodwill the President may have created with the American public in his bid to appear trustworthy. And in order to open or sign a petition, users must create an account at whitehouse.gov that links them to the site.

In Snowden’s case, the Administration wouldn’t be breaking precedent if there’s no response, despite the petition for his pardon meeting requirements Obama himself help put in place. Successful petitions for the President to intervene amid ongoing investigations of other criminal suspects like Chris Williams, who allegedly violated the law by growing medical marijuana, have been met with silence.

Chicagoland Mayor Ditches Bloomberg’s Gun Control; Embraces Concealed Carry

A Chicagoland mayor is embracing concealed carry in a very personal way, revealing he’s parting ways with an influential gun-control group after learning the group’s agenda goes far beyond its implied purpose of taking guns out of criminals’ hands.

Larry Morrissey, mayor of Rockford, Ill., a Chicago suburb, announced at a town hall forum Saturday he had dropped out of Mayors For Illegal Guns, the gun-control group begun by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, after realizing the group is more interested in infringing on Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights than in making sure that criminals don’t “illegally” get their hands on firearms.

“The reason why I joined the group in the first place was because I took the name for what it said – ‘against illegal guns,’” Morrissey said. “As the original mission swayed, that’s when I decided it was no longer in line with my beliefs.”

Morrissey, who won election in 2005 as a political independent, said he’s received death threats since taking office, and had so far availed himself of extra protection offered by the Rockford Police Department in order to keep himself and his family safe.

But he believes citizens should have the power to keep themselves safe, regardless of whether they have the luxury of a police detail. He told the a crowd of more than 200 that he intends to apply for an Illinois conceal carry permit — an announcement that garnered him a roar of applause.

“Any doubt that I might have had in my opinions about concealed carry when I first came into office changed quickly as I became an elected official and became very familiar with the types of crimes we’re dealing with,” he said. “The focus should not be against law-abiding citizens… I don’t want to put my family’s life at risk or my own life at risk if I can otherwise protect myself.”

H/T: Rockford Register Star 

Big Sis’ Border Fence; Schumer’s Dire Warning; SCOTUS On The Verge; Facebook’s Eye In The Sky; The Matrix Pill — Monday Morning News Roundup 6-24-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Another loophole inserted into the new version of the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill allows Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (or any of her successors) to nix the construction of a required border security fence if she does not find it to be an “appropriate” use of resources. Source: Breitbart 
  • As the Supreme Court heads into its summer recess at the end of June, we’re still awaiting decisions this week in four landmark cases. “In the court’s modern history, I don’t think there has ever been one week with so much at stake,” said Tom Goldstein, founder of the respected SCOTUSblog website. “We have four pending cases that may be cited for at least a century” involving Affirmative Action, the Voting Rights Act, the definition of marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act. Source: Free Republic 
  • Senator Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the Senate immigration reform bill, said House Republicans would likely spark massive civil rights rallies if they try to quash measures to create a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens already in the country. Source: The Hill 
  • According to admissions in its blog, posted late Friday afternoon, Facebook appears to be obtaining users’ offsite email address and phone numbers and attempting to match them to other accounts. It appears that the invisible collected information is then being stored in each user’s “shadow profile” that is somehow attached to accounts. The data is being gathered about individuals through their Facebook  friends’ information about them — harvested when a user grants Facebook address book or contact list access. Source: ZDNet
  • An FDA-approved pill has appeared that allows the electronic devices of people who take it to recognize identity and remember passwords. It uses batteries that run off stomach acid and last for 30 days. The controversial pill is being championed by DARPA Director-turned-Motorola executive Regina Dugan. “Essentially, your entire body becomes your authentication token,” she says. Source: Daily Mail 

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

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Inflates ‘Violence’ Stats With ‘Victims’ Shot By Police, In Self-Defense

Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s pro-gun control outfit, recently rattled off a list of names of victims of gun violence at a New Hampshire rally. The event made headlines for the group’s inclusion of shooting “victim” Tamerlan Tsarnaev — one of the guys suspected of instigating the Boston Marathon bombing, who was killed in a shootout with police.

Outrage and public pressure elicited a next-day apology from MAIG, but the slip got 2nd Amendment advocates interested in the other names MAIG was using to round out its list of gun violence vicitms.

Turns out, the group has been using a list on the Slate website that tallies the number of Americans “Killed by Guns Since Newtown.” It’s just a list of names of people who died from a gunshot wound (or wounds) — not a retelling of the stories of their deaths.

The Washington Examiner noted Friday:

A preliminary analysis of the list of shooting “victims” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is reading at rallies for new gun control laws finds that one in 12 are crime suspects killed by police or armed citizens acting in self-defense.

The review of 617 killings found that 50 were suspects in crimes ranging from assault to murder, not the type of violence Bloomberg’s group suggests in its “No More Names” campaign to draw attention to the estimated 6,000 gun death “tragedies” since the mid-December Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newton, Conn.

To use the Bloomberg group’s logic, one would have to accept that everyone who’s shot and killed by a police officer or by a citizen acting in self-defense categorically fits the description of a “victim” of gun violence. Examples of police shootings are, sadly, abundant; but it’s unlikely every cop shooting is a tale of bad cop, poor victim. Even fewer, perhaps, are the instances of reported self-defense shootings that turn out to be false.

As Nick Leghorn succinctly put it in a blog over at The Truth About Guns, “In the minds of MAIG, I guess being shot by a gun is like instantly being turned from a sinner into a saint.”

Ted Cruz Launches Petition To Thwart Gang Of Eight As Dems Reveal Amendment To Legalize ‘Victims’ Displaced By… Climate Change

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) started a grass-roots petition last week to pressure his fellow Senators to back away from the Gang of Eight’s bipartisan immigration bill.

Telling supporters the bill isn’t principled in its pitch to grant amnesty to more than 10 million illegal aliens living in the United States, Cruz said it’s “urgent” that constituents send a unified message to Congress that legal immigration has to be the cornerstone of any attempt to reform laws and policies that direct a foreign national down a path to U.S. citizenship.

“This is urgent. We must stop this Gang of 8 immigration bill, which would give amnesty to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants with no guarantee of a secure border,” said Cruz in an email to his supporters, as reported by Breitbart. “The Senate debate is in the final stages and we need to send Washington a strong signal of the overwhelming grassroots opposition to this amnesty bill from Americans across the country…act now – without delay – to help us defeat amnesty and stand for legal immigration!”

The petition kicked off just a day after Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced an amendment to the immigration plan that, if approved, will allow “stateless,” displaced people staying in the United States to apply for legal status if their native countries have been altered by natural disaster due to climate change.

Schatz said climate change is not an “abstract challenge” but an indisputable fact with a human toll the U.S. can help mitigate, by allowing its many foreign victims to seek legal status here (since, presumably, America is immune to the “climate change” that’s running everyone else to our shores):

The amendment I am proposing is quite simple. If enacted, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may designate individuals or a group of individuals displaced permanently by climate change as stateless persons.

Again, let me be clear about what this amendment does. It simply recognizes that climate change, like war, is one of the most significant contributors to homelessness in the world. And like with states torn apart and made uninhabitable by war, we have an obligation not to deport people back to a country made uninhabitable by sea level rise and other extreme environmental changes that render these states desolate. It does not grant any individual or group of individuals outside the United States with any new status or avenue for seeking asylum in the United States.

The amendment may not seek to grant anyone a new status, but it does immeasurably swell the population of non-citizens who can claim a legal foothold in the United States. And it does so disingenuously, by sheltering the argument for seeking legal status under the incredibly divisive, controversial and very dubious aegis of climate change as an incontrovertible, immutable fact.

The proposed amendment also would require funding for a study to assess (or, more likely, assign) the impact of climate change on populations who migrate internally within the U.S.

Obama Nominates Bush-Era Deputy AG James Comey To Succeed Robert Mueller As Head Of FBI

President Barack Obama nominated Republican James B. Comey, who served as Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush, as a successor to outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller today.

Comey, 52, will have to be confirmed by the Senate, but early reaction from members of Congress indicate the process isn’t likely to be as contentious as that accompanying the approval of many other past Obama nominees.

Mueller, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to lead the FBI shortly before the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attacks, will retire from the position after heading the agency, at Obama’s request, for two years beyond the expiration of his original 10-year appointment.

Comey made headlines in 2006 when he refused to sign off on the Bush White House’s demand for unspecified domestic surveillance procedures as part of the National Security Agency’s burgeoning spy program. At the time, Comey was functioning as acting Attorney General in place of AG John Ashcroft, who had been hospitalized for surgery.

The bizarre drama that unfolded resulted in a White House attempt to wrest approval for the NSA expansion from the convalescing Ashcroft himself, with Chief of Staff Alberto Gonzalez standing at Ashcroft’s bedside pleading for approval. Comey rushed to Ashcroft’s room just before Gonzalez arrived and urged the ailing AG to stand his ground. With Comey and FBI Director Mueller adamant that they’d both resign before they certified a questionable expansion of NSA powers while Ashcroft lay in the hospital, the White House relented.

Comey also led the prosecution of Martha Stewart at her 2004 trial and conviction for conspiracy and lying to investigators in connection with alleged insider trading.

PTR MovesGun Manufacturing Operation From Connecticut To South Carolina

They didn’t move to Texas, as Governor Rick Perry had hoped – but they are getting the hell out of Connecticut.

PTR (Precision Target Rifle) Industries, which announced in April it would relocate its operations outside its home State after the Connecticut Legislature approved a sweeping gun control package, announced Wednesday it plans to move its entire operation to an expanded location in Aynor, South Carolina.

Based in Bristol, PTR manufactures the PTR-91 series of rifles, products which are now illegal to purchase in the very State where they’re made. “One hundred percent of our product line is now illegal in Connecticut due to that law,” said PTR Sales Vice President John McNamara.

PTR employs more than 40 workers, and had already worked to secure agreements with most of them, including gunsmiths, to relocate with the company. Less than two weeks after Connecticut’s gun laws were passed, the manufacturer put out a public call for others in the firearms industry to join it in “abandoning” states where leaders refuse to hew to the Bill of Rights.

The rights of the citizens of CT have been trampled upon. The safety of its children is at best questionably improved from the day of the tragedy that triggered the events that lead us here. Finally, due to an improperly drafted bill, manufacturing of modern sporting rifles in the State of CT has been effectively outlawed. With a heavy heart but a clear mind, we have been forced to decide that our business can no longer survive in Connecticut — the former Constitution state.

According to the Hartford Courant, PTR will maintain an investment of $8 million and expand to 145 employees in order to meet the terms of a lease agreement with Horry County, S.C. The agreement also specifies employees’ average wages must surpass $19.39 per hour. PTR CEO Josh Fiorini said the company already pays an average wage of $22 per hour.

Do I Get A Free Jersey? President Taps NBA And Other Sports Pros To Market Obamacare

In an effort to sell the dimly understood, byzantine and regressive healthcare scheme that is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Administration of President Barack Obama is reaching out to the NBA and other professional sports leagues in the hope of popularizing Obamacare to a broad demographic of uninformed, entertainment-addled Americans.

Operating on the hope that what’s cool enough for LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be cool enough for you, the Obama Administration is working through the heavily partisan Enroll America nonprofit, as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to persuade the NBA to let the President hitch his healthcare star to the league’s media wagon.

The NBA hasn’t made a public statement about whether it’s on board, but the Administration is banking on aligning its target audience — Americans who don’t know much about insurance and haven’t yet thought about how they’ll approach subsidized coverage as the Oct. 1 enrollment start date nears — with the league’s popularity among young viewers, which POLITICO described Wednesday as a natural fit:

[F]or the administration, the allure is obvious. The NBA season’s calendar tracks closely with the six-month period during which Americans have a chance to sign up for subsidized insurance around the country — beginning on Oct. 1. And NBA fans fit key demographics targeted by supporters of the health law.

“You just can’t be a smoker and be obese or heavy … and be a basketball player. These folks are kind of the picture of youth and health, and in some ways, that’s the target audience,” said Jon Kingsdale, appointed by then-Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006 to oversee the implementation of the Massachusetts health law — which got a big messaging boost from the Boston Red Sox.

The possible NBA deal would serve as just one pillar supporting the Administration’s marketing bridge, as it ramps up the Obamacare rhetoric to “educate” the public about their options under the new law. With or without the sponsorship of athletic organizations, Enroll America is already launching campaigns in 18 States to bring people up to speed on what their options will be for getting poorer.

Is A Revived Border Fence Tough Enough To Coax ‘Yes’ Votes From Senate Conservatives On Immigration Reform?

Two days ago, it looked as though an effort by conservatives to force completion of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border had died on the Senate floor.

But Thursday, it appeared that a revived, retooled border security amendment had made its way back into the discussion, with some Senate Republicans — at least those who are eager to see an immigration reform bill passed — tacking the proposal back onto the Gang of Eight’s controversial, yet bipartisan legislation.

The move is designed to appease conservatives who’ve sworn they won’t support the immigration package on a final vote, especially after Tuesday’s failure of a proposal that would have mandated the border fence, which has been partially constructed in parts of the far Southwest, be finished.

The overall bill still includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal aliens who’ve crossed the border from Mexico to seek better economic fortunes, and many Senate conservatives have promised there’s no amount of sweetening the deal — by throwing in border fences or anything else — that will persuade them to vote for an immigration package that grants amnesty to illegal aliens.

Still, it was a Republican — Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee — who helped re-sell Senate conservatives on a reworked version of the border fence amendment. “For people who are concerned about border security, once they see what is in this bill, it’s almost overkill,” he said Thursday.

Aside from the fence itself, Corker’s border security markup apparently promises to double the number of patrol agents working the border region and to budget additional money for drone surveillance.

Gang of Eight Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose stock among conservatives has taken a devastating hit as his support for immigration reform (read: amnesty) has increased, also touted the Corker plan Thursday, as did Vice President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, unwavering conservatives in the Senate don’t look like they can be persuaded. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said amnesty in any form will depress current wages and unload a flood of unskilled labor on the American economy that wouldn’t abate for more than a decade.

“This legislation — if it were to pass — the wages of American workers will fall for the next 12 years,” he warned. “They will be lower than inflation rates… It’s going to increase unemployment and it’s going to pull down wages. That is exactly the wrong thing that ought to be happening at this time. How in the world can we justify passing a bill that hammers the American working man and woman that’s out trying to feed a family?”

Session got his information from a Congressional Budget Office report released this week that attempts to estimate the long-term economic effect the immigration bill would have on the United States if it becomes law.

Among other findings, the CBO “…expect[s] that a greater number of immigrants with lower skills than with higher skills would be added to the workforce, slightly pushing down the average wage for the labor force as a whole… However, CBO and JCT [the Joint Committee on Taxation] expect that currently unauthorized workers who would obtain legal status under S. 744 would see an increase in their average wages… [An] increase in the average wage would not occur for a dozen years.”

Monsanto Exec Receives World Food Prize For Pioneering GMO Research

Robert Fraley, the Chief Technology Officer for Monsanto Corporation, has been named as one of three recipients of the World Food Prize, an honor commonly referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize’ of the agricultural world.

Fraley received the award for “independent, individual breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern agricultural biotechnology,” according to World Food Prize Foundation president Kenneth Quinn.

The U.S.-based World Food Prize Foundation advocates for the development of genetically-modified foods (GMOs). GMOs are still not approved for use in Europe, although prize co-winner Marc Van Montgau, a Belgian, said he believes his award will help “pave the way for Europe to embrace the benefits of this technology, a global condition of transgenic plants.”

Fraley and the other honorees will receive a $250,000 cash award.

Bill To Rein In Federal Abuse Of CFAA Law Hits Congress; Named For Aaron Swartz

A bill that aims to rein in the vague and easily-misapplied Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), and hopefully curb a pattern of government bullying of online dissenters, was introduced in Congress today.

Congressmen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced thebill before the House of Representatives after soliciting input from the online Reddit community to help ensure the measure’s integrity.

Dubbed “Aaron’s Law” to honor the late Aaron Swartz, the bill is intended to end the government’s ability to use the CFAA to harass people who attempt civil disobedience but, because of CFAA’s current broadness, end up facing felony prosecution. Swartz killed himself earlier this year in the midst of an ongoing Federal investigation that, under the CFAA, could have sent him to prison for decades for sharing a trove of academic documents (most of which were created with public funds) to the internet.

The bill has the endorsement of the tech media, which has grown more and more incensed with the Administration of President Barack Obama as Federal scandals involving abuse of phone surveillance powers, broad online spy programs and targeted bullying of internet-based political activists continue to mount.

The two Congressmen made a strong case against enabling the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI with pliable, permissive laws like CFAA in an opinion piece they co-authored for Wired magazine:

Vagueness is the core flaw of the CFAA. As written, the CFAA makes it a federal crime to access a computer without authorization or in a way that exceeds authorization. Confused by that? You’re not alone. Congress never clearly described what this really means. As a result, prosecutors can take the view that a person who violates a website’s terms of service or employer agreement should face jail time.

So lying about one’s age on Facebook, or checking personal email on a work computer, could violate this felony statute. This flaw in the CFAA allows the government to imprison Americans for a violation of a non-negotiable, private agreement that is dictated by a corporation. Millions of Americans — whether they are of a digitally native or dial-up generation — routinely submit to legal terms and agreements every day when they use the Internet. Few have the time or the ability to read and completely understand lengthy legal agreements.

Another flaw in the CFAA is redundant provisions that enable a person to be punished multiple times … for the same crime. …This allows prosecutors to bully defendants into accepting a deal in order to avoid facing a multitude of charges from a single, solitary act.

In Swartz’ case, that’s exactly what happened.

But Aaron’s Law would clarify and rework the definition of “exceeds authorization” so that the burden of proof to demonstrate a suspect’s evil intent would fall on the state – rather than giving the state carte blanche to investigate and charge someone based on an obvious technicality. It would also change the overlapping sentencing provision in order to “ensure that the penalty enhancement is directed at repeat offenders rather than individuals facing multiple charges.”

Barack Obama’s G8 Speech ‘An Alarming Call For An End To Catholic Education’

At least he was smart enough to test the waters on foreign soil before introducing this particular facet of his agenda in the United States.

Speaking in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the location of this year’s G8 summit, President Barack Obama flatly told a crowd of about 2,000 that parochial schools are, essentially, part of the problem. Naturally, the listening crowd had more than a few Irish Catholics in attendance.

“If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden — that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” said the President.

Catholic World News described Obama’s shocking statement as an argument “that parochial schools are an impediment to the establishment of a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.”

The Scottish Catholic Observer went further, saying the President’s rhetoric “has made an alarming call for an end to Catholic education in Northern Ireland in spite of the fact that Archbishop Gerhard Muller told Scots that Catholic education was a ‘critical component of the Church.’”

Indeed, the Vatican had recently praised the value of Catholic education over the weekend, when Muller — a direct appointee of Pope Benedict XVI to the Prefecture of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — told a Scottish audience that Catholic schools offer a convergence of “intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment” that serves students well in all walks of life.

Perhaps because of the setting for Obama’s remarks, most of the distress over their sinister implications has come from Catholics. But the part-Irish President equally condescended to Protestants in his statement, even though an Internet search two days after the speech turns up little in the way of alarm from non-Catholic Christians.

American Catholic priest Fr. John Zuhlsdorf spoke for many Christians of all faiths when he assessed the President’s intentions on his blog:

Another example of what this man wants: total isolation of any religious values in the private sphere alone.

…Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a foreign visit to a Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn’t have madrasas.  Can you?

Did he when visiting, say, Israel, say “You Jews shouldn’t have synagogue schools and you muslims shouldn’t have mosque schools.”  I can’t remember.  Did he?

Municipal Governments Slash Worker Hours To Escape Obamacare

Obamacare was ostensibly conceived to enrich the lives of Americans living near the bottom of the economic food chain. It was President Barack Obama’s bold imposition of socialized wealth redistribution on an American capitalist blueprint that, while flawed by restrictions that already had taken baby steps toward socialism (thanks largely to insurance industry lobbyists), essentially didn’t accommodate the designs of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

But with Obamacare’s 2014 start inching nearer, tangible examples are beginning to emerge showing how the President’s radical vision of wealth distribution is fast tracking everybody (well, everybody who’s not tied in with the elected class) to the poorhouse.

Until recently, all the horror stories of businesses cutting their workers’ hours in an attempt to avoid Obamacare’s minimum-coverage mandate seemed to emanate from the private sector. But Investors Business Daily has begun compiling a long list of publicly funded agencies (schools, universities, municipal governments) that are similarly turning chunks of their full-time labor force into part-time, low-wage minions who won’t be eligible for employer-backed healthcare benefits come 2014.

Here are just a few highlights. You can see the full list (which itself will undoubtedly grow) here.

  • In Kern County, Calif., county administrators are trying to cut hours for 800 employees — or else find a new supply of at least $8 million annually to afford extending Obamacare-mandated benefits (at higher prices) to a larger pool of qualifying employees.
  • The Community College of Allegheny County, Pa., is cutting hours for 400 faculty and staff to avoid a $6 million annual hike in Obamacare costs.
  • “We have the budget to pay the people, but we do not have the budget to pay for the health care,” said Medina, Ohio, Mayor Dennis Hanwell, lamenting the city’s decision to cut employee hours from 35 to 29 hours per week. The cuts avoided an additional $1 million in new healthcare coverage costs for the city.
  • The Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah, was facing $14 million in new health coverage costs if it continued without modifying its workers’ hours. So it slashed 1,000 of its workers’ schedules to 29 hours per week — one hour beneath Obamacare’s 30-hour threshold before employers have to offer healthcare coverage.
  • “We simply can’t afford the Afford Care Act,” said Birmingham, Mich., Commissioner Gordon Rinschler, explaining the city’s cutting of seasonal employees’ work hours. “It’s hard to believe our friends in Washington, our professional politicians, didn’t exempt municipalities from this. They exempted all their friends — I guess you have to be a defense contractor or sell light bulbs to qualify for that.”

WASTRELS: Feds Trying To Text Like (Their Idea Of) Gays In $500,000 Outreach To Promiscuous Meth Heads

The National Institutes of Health is devoting $509,000 in grant funds to a Baltimore-based outreach program aimed at curbing sexual promiscuity and abuse of methamphetamine among homosexual addicts.

How?

By sending them encouraging text messages that are linguistically tailored to align with their subculture’s perceived vernacular.

In other words, the grant’s recipient, Friends Research Institute of Baltimore, is going to send gay men who’re hooked on meth some text messages every now and then that gaily urge them to use condoms and stay away from drugs.

The messages will be crafted to accord with “gay lingo” in a bid to appear credible and, hopefully, more effective, according to lead researcher Dr. Cathy Reback.

“We did a pilot about four, five years ago with 52 out-of-treatment MSM (males who have sex with males),” Reback told CNS News. “And we sent them text messages that were gay specific — used gay lingo — and made references to the connection between high-risk sex and methamphetamine use among MSM.

“So what I wanted to do with this text messaging intervention was to optimize the opportunity to get these guys [to have safer sex] by sending text messages, as opposed to ‘Come into my brick and mortar site that’s ten miles from your house, and come for a group [session].’  I mean – you know – okay maybe! …You know, send them text messages as they’re walking into a bathhouse, or while they’re getting dressed in their home, or on the computer to hook up with somebody.”

Sadly, Reback would not divulge the content of the targeted gay text messages, nor would she offer any clue as to which gay-sounding slang words they might contain. Similarly, she didn’t explain how the Institute zeroed in on an idea of what gay meth heads generally sound like when they text.

Lacking the entertainment value to be found in that info, taxpayers truly won’t be getting their money’s worth from this wasteful use of their dollars.

AP President: U.S. Department Of Justice Is ‘Judge, Jury And Executioner’ When It Comes To Secret Spying

Gary Pruitt, president of The Associated Press (AP), told the National Press Club at a luncheon today that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) enjoys the luxury of operating with few systemic checks and balances when it comes to warrantless and secret surveillance, calling the Nation’s highest law enforcement office the government’s own “judge, jury and executioner” for breaking its own rules when it secretly culled the AP’s phone records.

Instead of notifying the news company that it had subpoenaed call records for more than 20 separate phone lines from its offices in three cities and working with the AP to hone in on whomever DOJ was targeting, Pruitt said the DOJ just made the scope of its seizure as broad as it wanted.

“There was never that opportunity,” he said. “Instead the DOJ acted as judge, jury and executioner in private; in secret.”

The fallout from the scandal, which galvanized the AP and other news organizations against the Feds and momentarily woke them to the myth of President Barack Obama’s “transparency” Administration, is strangling the relationship between news bureaus in Washington, D.C., and many of their cultivated sources from inside the government. Why? Government intimidation, said Pruitt:

The actions of the DOJ against AP are already having an impact beyond the specifics of this particular case. Some of our longtime trusted sources have become nervous and anxious about talking to us, even on stories that aren’t about national security. And in some cases, government employees that we once checked in with regularly will no longer speak to us by phone, and some are reluctant to meet in person.

This chilling effect is not just at AP; it’s happening at other news organizations as well.  Journalists from other news organizations have personally told me it has intimidated sources from speaking to them.

AT&T Customers: Why Can’t We Turn These Damn Obama Alerts Off Our iPhones!?

A software update to recent models of the Apple iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 will soon have AT&T cellular customers scratching their heads, trying to figure out a way to decline “Presidential” alerts from automatically appearing on their screens.

They can stop trying, because those alerts are “supposed” to be there; and there’s nothing you can do about it — seriously.

AT&T released this bulletin on its consumer blog earlier this week, advising people whose iPhones run iOS 6.1 and higher that they have no choice about declining an automatic, “mandatory” software update that enables push notifications for government-issued safety alerts and Presidential alerts. But, it advises, customers at least can turn off all the government alerts by switching off the “Notifications” option in their phones’ settings menu… except for Presidential alerts.

There’s no declining a message from the President, as the company’s bulletin unceremoniously makes clear:

These are government-issued safety messages that include AMBER Alerts, emergency alerts – such as man-made or natural disasters, and Presidential alerts.

Wireless Emergency Alerts are part of the FCC’s CMAS program. You may turn off alerts (except for Presidential alerts) if you choose.  Go to Settings >Notifications>Turn On/Off.

CMAS is the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Commercial Mobile Telephone Alerts system, adopted in 2008 for the “facilitating [of] the ability of consumers to receive emergency alerts through their wireless phones” from Federal, State, tribal and local governments.

While the FCC’s website describes recipients of these text-based messages as “subscribers,” it dutifully notes: “Subscribers would automatically receive these alerts if they have a CMAS-compatible handset. There would be no subscriber opt-in requirements.” If you can’t opt in, then guess what? You can’t opt out.

In other words, your phone company is the “subscriber.” As a customer, all you’re good for is funding, to pay for the use of a phone that’s surveilled, taxed and enabled to receive one-way instructions from the elected class and its enforcers.

If only the phone in President Barack Obama’s hands had no option for declining “mandatory” messages from the people…

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Chris Christie Is A RINO-DIP (Republican In Name Only; Democrat In Principle)

True conservatives largely agree that mainstream Republicans aren’t representing their interests, but find it anathema to vote for Democrats with openly liberal views on fiscal controls and the reach of government.

But if the GOP hedges on its nominee for the 2016 Presidential election by picking the candidate with the broadest cross-party appeal, conservatives could find themselves enduring another four-year wait until the White House has another chance to be free of liberals.

That’s because, at least at the moment, the potential candidate who stands to glean the greatest number of crossover votes nationwide is none other than corpulent New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

A new Gallup poll shows what many conservatives have known for a long time: Christie is more beloved outside his own party than within it.

Of five Republicans (Christie, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan) whose names Gallup ran past a random sampling of 1,529 Americans, Christie’s actually played better with Democrats than with Republicans. In fact, he was the only Republican for whom Democrats, on balance, held a favorable opinion.

Presumably on the strength of his national exposure following Superstorm Sandy, Christie scored a higher “net favorable” number (37) among Democrats than he did with his 28 rating among Republicans. As a result of all that love from the left, Christie took the poll’s top spot for the GOP candidate with the highest approval rating among Americans as a whole, regardless of party affiliation.

Republicans, on the other hand, preferred both Ryan and Rubio to Christie, with Ryan receiving a 69 percent favorable rating among GOP members.

In terms of name recognition, Christie scored high across political lines. But the Republican whose name was recognized the least — even among members of his own party — is, perhaps, the least “Republican” of the bunch.

That’s Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Only half the Republicans surveyed even knew who he was.