Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to apologize to Karzai of Afghanistan

Yo Mr. President… this is how it’s done:

Thanks allyHM!

SOURCE: Wizbang

Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu – Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe

We all know Obama wants to turn America into some sort of European style socialist utopia. To be fair, it’s not just Obama. It’s all Marxist Democrats. With gas prices all time record highs for this time of year, things are starting to make more sense now that Big Goverment has revealed what Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu has said. According to Chu:

Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe

Prices for a gallon of gas in Europe tend to be $9 to $10 PER GALLON!

Obama and the Marxist Democrats are about half way to their dream! Another term for Obama would likely give them their wish of $9 to $10 per gallon for gas.


D.A.M Chief DWS Exposes Herself.. Again


DNC [and Democratic Attack Machine] Chairman Debbie Wassermann-Schultz made another appearance on national television recently, in which she makes her usual ludicrous, and totally discredited comments about the “American people,” this time attempting to say that “Real America” just loves Obama-care.. among other things. Check out the video:

After the host of the show quotes several recent poll results showing that as more Americans discover just how dysfunctional and expensive Obama-care will truly be and want it repealed, DWS says no, and that basically that’s not true. (Hint: the host was stating polling from Americans Debbie, not the unicorn-riding puppets on the planet Saturn) Also note that in the Democratic party’s mathematically-challenged world, when the host asked DWS to sum up the 2012 Republican presidential candidate field in ONE WORD, she replies with a slew of D.A.M hate-speech fueled attacks and outright lies, including calling them extremists, on immigration policy [for wanting U.S. law enforced] and tax policy [for wanting a limited government and no taxation without representation that includes no big government tax hikes] and then going so far as to say Republicans want to deny women health-care.

In the immortal words of Doc Holliday, ” It would appear that her hypocrisy knows no bounds.” Talk about out of touch with reality. Reality is coming Debbie, it is coming in the form of a 2010 election-style rebuking of the Liberal [fake] Democratic Party’s big government debt-spending and skyrocketing gas and energy prices of the past 4 years. Reality in the form of the 2012 national elections where ”we the people” will say that we have had enough of the out-of-touch-with-reality Obama administration and it’s Liberal minions in Congress. It is time for real solutions for America.

SOURCE: DJ Redman - Conservative Daily News

For Religious Minorities in the Middle East – With Friends Like Obama, Who Needs Enemies?


President Obama has an amazing ability to make Jimmy Carter’s foreign policies look good.

Opposition to imperfect allies and support of radical Islamists has resulted in the almost-extinction of religious freedom for religious minorities – from the Copts in Egypt to the defenseless women and children who were slaughtered in Homs, Syria – in the Middle East.

Another example is the devolving situation in Iraq. President Obama was so committed to fulfilling an arbitrary campaign promise to get our troops out of Iraq that he ignored the advice of his senior military officials about the consequences of establishing a firm withdrawal date and about how long it might take before Iraq was ready to manage the situation on their own. As a result, Al-Qa’ida is resurgent, Iran’s influence is greater than ever, religious tensions between Sunni and Shi’a are increasing, the existential threat facing Iraq’s indigenous minority communities has never been greater, and our ability to affect the situation there is weaker now. Recent coordinated car bomb attacks are just the latest in a string of such events since the start of the new year, and they portend many more violent assaults to come.

The departure of our military forces has once again left a security vacuum that is bound to be filled by someone, and all those with the means to vie for that space will do so, whether Sunni insurgents, terrorists like Al Qa’ida, security forces controlled by the ruling Shi’a political establishment, and in parts of the country even Kurdish Peshmerga. These machinations undermine institutionalizing the rule of law, protecting minority rights, or developing the economy and infrastructure, let alone advancing American interests in that country and the region.

The most vulnerable people in this situation also happen to be the ones most aligned with our values and interests. These are Iraq’s besieged Christians – the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs and Armenian Orthodox communities. The role their faith has played in developing their worldview is far more in keeping with America’s values than any other constituency in the country or the region. Moreover, because these communities have an ethic that places a premium on education, entrepreneurship, and peaceful co-existence and respect for others, they have constituted a disproportionately large part of the upper-middle class, they have historically contributed far more to the country’s economy than their numbers would suggest, and they have been the most trusted elements of Iraqi society. They also have a much greater respect for the value of the rule of law, they were the ones who came along side our military, diplomats, and contractors to provide translation services and cultural advice.

With the departure of our forces and the recent announcement of the Obama Administration that we will also be reducing our embassy staff by 50 percent because it is now too dangerous for our diplomats there we are effectively abandoning both Iraq and our investment there as well as the communities who risked the most to help us in that effort. What is more, walking away like this also sends messages to other players in the region. It signals to potential allies in the future that we are not dependable. It signals to terrorists that if they just lay low, they can wait us out. It signals to the world that we no longer have the resolve to see a situation through to the end – that we can’t finish what we started.

We need all the help we can get in that part of the world, and Iraq’s Christians are the ones most inclined to provide that help, but not if doing so is only going to increase the prospect of their genocidal annihilation.

Accordingly, we need a comprehensive policy aimed at preserving these communities in Iraq. We need to focus on helping Iraqis create the conditions that incentivize staying in Iraq and making there a better future for themselves. The last thing we want is for them to abandon the land their ancestors have occupied for nearly 7,000 years,forsake the culture they have preserved in that volatile region for all these millennia, and deprive the country, the region, and the world of the positive contributions they could still make if only some space was created for them in Iraqi society. These people – who are all but canaries in a coal mine – represent hope for a better future for a pluralistic Iraqi society.

First, they need security. By “security,” though, I mean more than just safety from terrorist and insurgent attacks. I mean they need the means to protect themselves and their own communities so they do not have to depend on political actors whose interests are not necessarily aligned with the needs of their own communities. They should not be subjected to political shakedowns and corrupt political machinations.

Second, they need political empowerment. They have the right to some degree of self-determination and to have a say in how their local communities should be governed. It is wrong for them to be treated as a political football, constantly crushed between manipulative forces that surround them.

Third, they need economic development in the region where they now find themselves. Having been forced off their ancestral lands in the last century, they reestablished themselves in the cities such as Baghdad and Basra. In the aftermath of the second Gulf War, though, they have had to seek refuge back in the North again. Yet this region was not developed very well under Saddam’s regime, and today’s Iraqi Christians are disproportionately of the urban professional class rather than farmers.

It is time that we stand with those who stood with us over the last 8 years. We must not abandon them. I will stand with those who stand for freedom of religion and conscience and against violent jihadism and persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, Egypt, and elsewhere.

SOURCE: Rick Santorum - Red State

Big Surprise: Obamacare’s Pre-Existing Condition Plan Costing Twice as Much Per Enrollee as Originally Estimated

February 24, 2012

Here’s the latest “it’s costing twice as much as we thought” revelation from the people who are working 24/7 to make health care more affordable:

Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program.

The health-care law set aside $5 billion for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, meant to provide health insurance to those who had been declined coverage by private carriers. Since its launch last summer, nearly 50,000 Americans have enrolled in the program.

The PCIP program will phase out in 2014, when insurers will be required to accept all applicants regardless of their health-care status.

Those who have enrolled in the program are projected to have significantly higher medical costs than the government initially expected. Each participant is expected to average $28,994 in medical costs in 2012, according to the report, more than double what government-contracted actuaries predicted in November 2010. Then, the analysts expected that the program would cost $13,026 per enrollee.

Don’t worry though, I’m sure their other cost estimates will be right on target.

Has anybody heard about anything in the Obamacare bill costing less than expected?

Obligatory reminder — take it away, Nancy:

More real stories of Obamacare quality & affordability:

$4 billion Obamacare slush fund for progressives

Taxing medical progress to death

Obama’s fraudulent abortion mandate “accommodation”

Obamacare’s job killing medical device tax

SOURCE: Doug Powers - Michelle Malkin

Documents: PETA kills more than 95 percent of pets in its care


Documents published online this month show that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization known for its uncompromising animal-rights positions, killed more than 95 percent of the pets in its care in 2011.

The documents, obtained from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, were published online by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit organization that runs online campaigns targeting groups that antagonize food producers.

Fifteen years’ worth of similar records show that since 1998 PETA has killed more than 27,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, VA.

In a February 16 statement, the Center said PETA killed 1,911 cats and dogs last year, finding homes for only 24 pets.

“PETA hasn’t slowed down its slaughterhouse operation,” said Rick Berman, CCF’s executive director. “It appears PETA is more concerned with funding its media and advertising antics than finding suitable homes for these dogs and cats.”

In a statement, Berman added that PETA has a $37 million dollar annual budget.

His organization runs, which reports that in 2010 a resident of Virginia called PETA and asked if there was an animal shelter at the group’s headquarters. PETA responded that there was not.

The Virginian, the website reports, then called his state’s agriculture department. Dr. Daniel Kovich investigated, and conducted an inspection of PETA’s headquarters.

“The facility does not contain sufficient animal enclosures to routinely house the number of animals annually reported as taken into custody,” Kovich concluded in his report.

Kovich also determined that PETA employees kill 84 percent of the animals in their custody within 24 hours of receiving them.

“[PETA’s] primary purpose,” Kovich wrote, “is not to find permanent adoptive homes for animals.”

PETA media liaison Jane Dollinger told The Daily Caller in an email that “most of the animals we take in are society’s rejects; aggressive, on death’s door, or somehow unadoptable.”

Dollinger did not dispute her organization’s sky-high euthanasia rate, but insisted PETA only kills dogs and cats because of “injury, illness, age, aggression, or because no good homes exist for them.”

PETA’s own history, however, shows that this has not always been the case.

In 2005, two PETA employees described as “adorable” and “perfect” some of the dogs and cats they killed in the back of a PETA-owned van. The two were arrested after police witnessed them tossing the animals’ dead bodies into a North Carolina dumpster.

PETA had no comment when the Daily Caller asked what sort of effort it routinely makes to find adoptive homes for animals in its care.

SOURCE: Alexandra Myers - The Daily Caller

Obama’s Oil Problem: Policies Have Consequences


Expect continued rhetoric and “fake fossil-fuel infatuation” from an anti-oil Administration until the election.

The lead story in last Sunday’s New York Times blared: High Gas Prices Give G.O.P. Issue to Attack Obama. With gasoline prices nearing $4 per gallon, double that when Obama took office, another negative economic issue is at the President’s doorstep.

Crude oil prices north of $100 per barrel explain the jump in pump prices, and political tension such as Iran’s threat to disrupt Middle Eastern oil flows partly explains the surge in crude prices. Still, the Obama’s Administration’s ideological opposition to fossil fuels, including the mainstay petroleum in the transportation market, leaves the President nowhere to hide.

Too many Administration actions have reduced domestic oil supply and sent bad signals to contribute to negative price trends. Providing affordable energy is a 24-7 job for America’s oil, gas, and electricity providers. Yet far too often politicians drive up energy prices by erecting artificial barriers, imposing mandates, and limiting the supply of energy.

Energy Schizophrenia

Marita Noon has chronicled Obama’s “fake fossil-fuel infatuation.” He does talk big in the service of popularity, such as claiming in the recent State of the Union how his administration is working to “open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources,” and helping access “a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years.” And just yesterday, campaigning Obama stated, “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.” (“In spite of’ would have been more accurate than just “Under”.)

There are bones thrown to the industry, such as the Interior Department’s recent approval to Shell’s Arctic oil spill response plan to allow a possible start-up after years of delay. Still, the “exhaustive” process requires more approvals before drilling can begin this summer off the North Slope of Alaska.

Obama’s anti-oil agenda is not hard to find. There is the go-slow permitting process for Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling. Second, is the frontal rejection of a permit to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada’s Alberta province to Gulf Coast refineries. And third is proposed higher oil and gas taxes in Obama’s 2013 Budget.

Meanwhile, Obama champions special government favors for consumer-rejected but politically correct “green” energy.

Obama 2012 … Gore 2000

Expect campaigner Obama to denounce high oil prices–as if he is really the consumer’s friend at the gas pump. All he needs to do is to channel his (anti) energy soul mate Al Gore, who said during his presidential campaign in 2000: “I think we need to bring gasoline prices down.”

Gore explained:

I have made it clear in this campaign that I am not calling for any tax increase on gasoline, on oil, on natural gas, or anything else. I am calling for tax cuts to stimulate the production of new sources of domestic energy and new technologies to improve efficiency.[1]

Hidden was Gore’s real view, as stated in Earth in the Balance: “Higher taxes on fossil fuels. . . is one of the logical first steps in changing our policies in a manner consistent with a more responsible approach to the environment.” [2]

Anti-Oil Mentality

The real Obama does not quite have the same smoking gun in print with petroleum products as does Al Gore. But remember Candidate Obama’s frank statement about how under a greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade program “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket“? Well, cap-and-trade would have applied to petroleum products, and gasoline prices would have skyrocketed too.

An anti-oil mentality resides deep inside the Obama Administration. The President’s chief science advisor, John Holdren, has long advocated higher prices to reflect “rising monetary costs for energy when its environmental and sociopolitical hazards are adequately internalized and insured against.” [3] The year before Obama appointed him as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu told the Wall Street Journal, “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Add a couple of dollars to the current pump price to get to Chu’s goal.

“Environmental and sociopolitical hazards” is code for a variety of front-door taxes and back-door restrictions that the current Administration would like to have. But high pump prices and high electricity rates speak loudly, so expect continued rhetoric and “fake fossil-fuel infatuation” from an anti-oil Administration until the election.

SOURCE: - Institute for Energy Research via Canadian Free Press

Palestinian academic who backed suicide attacks to speak at U.K. university


The Telegraph reports that student group is concerned about the bias of speakers at an event to be held by the Palestine Solidarity Society at Queen Mary University.
Students in the United Kingdom are protesting the upcoming speech of Azzam Tamimi at Queen Mary University, the Telegraph reported on Friday.

Tamimi has expressed support for Hamas and said that he would conduct a suicide bombing against Israel if he had "the opportunity".

Speaking to the BBC in 2004, Tamimi said that sacrificing oneself was a "noble cause".

"It is the straight way to pleasing my God and I would do it if I had the opportunity,” he said.

Tamimi, a Palestinian academic based in Britain, is to speak on Tuesday at an event called "One State or Two State Solution", hosted by the university's Palestine Solidarity Society.

The group Student Rights has expressed concerns about a number of "biased" speakers at the event.

"It is bad enough that Tamimi, a supporter of an anti-Semitic terrorist group like Hamas, should be invited onto a campus to speak, as he was at Loughborough University last November," the group said in a statement on its website. "However, what is worse is that not only will there be no balance to his hate filled views, but that the panel he will speak alongside have all declared outspoken opposition to Israel in the past.

The group also posted a response from a Queen Mary University spokeswoman.

"Freedom of expression and the sharing of ideas and beliefs are at the heart of Queen Mary’s ethos and we have a very clear policy and mechanisms to support this," that statement read.

“In making these arrangements we neither endorse nor deny the views expressed; rather we are allowing freedom of expression within the law," University Principal, Professor Simon Gaskell said.

“Furthermore, we are implicitly attributing to our university community the intelligence and powers of discrimination to judge for themselves the merits or otherwise of opinions and beliefs presented to them.”


State Governments to Force Employers to Ignore Employment History


Employers view employment history and experience as key factors in determining whether or not to hire someone, but now ten states are considering legislation making it illegal to reject a potential employee on the basis of being unemployed.

The proposals from Connecticut to California range in scope from banning advertisements that require current employment to allowing unsuccessful job candidates to sue businesses under the same discrimination laws that apply to bias on the basis of religion, race, gender or national origin.[1]

Hiring is a discriminatory practice by its nature. Employers have to filter through resumes, interviews, test results, and more to figure out whether or not to hire. One piece of information is the prospective employee’s job history – or lack thereof. If someone changes jobs every year or two, that will likely filter them out of better jobs as employers don’t want to have to constantly re-train someone in that position. If the prospect has a gaping hole in their employment history such as not having worked for the past 99 weeks, it could point to a lack of drive and it will likely mean that the prospect’s skills may have deteriorated or gone out-of-date in more technical fields – wither of which makes a candidate less-desirable.

New Jersey already has a law like this in place and is being sued by the only company they’ve fined so far. There are ten states overall considering this kind of legislation including Colorado, California and Connecticut.

Protecting a class of people simply because they are not working is illogical and could force companies to hire less-productive employees. In all likelihood companies will just look harder at resumes or interview out people that they see as an employment risk due to poor work history.

SOURCE: R. Mitchell - CDN

Touted stimulus company closes Chicago factory

Chicago window factory where workers staged sit-in to close, 46 jobs eliminated
By Associated Press,

CHICAGO — Serious Energy Inc. said Thursday it will close a Chicago window factory that became a symbol of the plight of American workers more than three years ago when employees briefly occupied the building.

In response, United Electrical Workers spokeswoman Leah Fried said about 50 workers are again occupying the factory in an effort to stay employed.

“The workers are refusing to leave,” Fried said. “This time we want the possibility of keeping these jobs.”

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Serious Energy said it will close its Chicago factory and consolidate manufacturing at facilities in Colorado and Pennsylvania, eliminating about 46 union and nonunion positions.

“Ongoing economic challenges in construction and building products, collapse in demand for window products, difficulty in obtaining favorable lease terms, high leasing and utility costs and taxes, and a range of other factors unrelated to labor costs, have compelled Serious to cease production at the Chicago facility,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it will comply with any applicable legal and federal labor requirements. Serious Energy leases the 268,000-square-foot Chicago plant and said it has made substantial investments to retool the window and glass product facility and hire and train employees.

Serious Energy bought assets from Republic Windows and Doors, a factory that received national attention during a 2008 worker sit-in after owners gave employees just a few days’ notice before Christmas that they were shutting down.

Vice President Joe Biden visited the reopened factory the following April when the facility was touted as an example of economic reinvigoration thanks to the federal stimulus. At the time, Serious Energy had started rehiring some of the more than 200 laid-off workers to make energy-efficient windows at the plant. Biden toured the factory in an industrial area on Chicago’s North Side.

SOURCE: Washington Post

Rocklin Considering Banning Residents From Smoking Outside Their Own Homes


ROCKLIN (CBS13) – A Placer County town is considering a ban on smoking that some say goes way too far.

The Rocklin City Council is considering making it against the law for smokers to smoke anywhere outside on their property.

The city council is considering the ban after one home owner complained about smoke coming from their neighbors’ backyards saying it caused health problems for their kids.

But before going to the city council, the family first asked their neighbors to stop smoking.

One couple agreed, according to their son.

“They felt that there wasn’t any reason to put the household in any sort of health risk,” Eric Croslin said explaining his parent’s position.

But some smokers and even some non-smokers saying this ban goes too far.

“So what about people who have children in their home and they don’t want to smoke in their home?” asked non-smoker Tamara Davis.

“As a smoker, I think that smokers should be considerate,” said Rocklin resident and smoker Ryan Malonson. “But on your own property, that’s unacceptable…It’s not going to pass.”

It is already against the law for smokers to light up near businesses, parks and playground in California.

SOURCE: Maria Medina -

50K Chickens Abandoned by Broke Farmer; More than 1/3 Dead


Remaining Abandoned Chickens Turned Over Two Rescue Groups

TURLOCK (CBS13) — Thursday afternoon finally produced some good news after what has been such a heart-wrenching story when 50,000 chickens were left starving to death at a ranch outside Turlock.

A third of the birds have already died, and it was feared the rest would be euthanized, but instead thousands will be saved.

“We’re going to help load them up to the rest of the agencies that are here,” said Annette Patton, executive director of Stanislaus County Animal Services.

After waiting all day, two animal rescue groups finally got the news they were hoping to hear.

“We’re thrilled to know they’re going to let us in and save several thousand birds,” said Kimberly Sturla of Animal Place.

Crews loaded chickens healthy enough to save into trucks.

“We’re going to give them another chance at life,” Sturla said.

Authorities were called to the ranch on Tuesday after someone nearby complained about the smell. When Animal Services arrived, they found that the chickens hadn’t been fed for two weeks and already a third of those chickens had died.

“When you walk in there, there are birds deceased everywhere,” Patton said.

The owner of the ranch is named Andrew Keung Chung. He didn’t return calls from CBS13, but Animal Services says he ran out of money to feed the chickens. He could face animal cruelty charges.

“There was contact with the owner today,” Patton said. “He was very cooperative and moving things along smoothly.”

County workers were at the ranch all day Thursday cleaning up and euthanizing some of the sicker chickens. The plan was to dispose of the rest at a nearby landfill.

But once Keung Chung’s attorney signed over ownership of the healthy chickens to the county, they were allowed to be handed over to the rescue groups.

“I think it’s heart-wrenching for anybody if you could see inside there,” Sturla said of all the dead birds.


Deportations plummet


Number of deportation cases drops by nearly a third, report says
The drop recorded in the last three months of 2011 may reflect the administration's plan to focus its deportation efforts by weighing discretionary factors, including whether the person is a veteran, came to the United States as a child or is a college student.

The number of deportation cases filed by federal immigration officials dropped by nearly a third in the first three months of the fiscal year, according to a report by the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The drop recorded in the last three months of 2011 may reflect the Obama administration's plan to focus its deportation efforts by weighing a variety of discretionary factors, including whether the person is a veteran, came to the U.S. as a child or is a college student, according to the report. But experts said it's too soon to say if deportations overall will decline.

From October through December, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiated 39,331 deportation cases in immigration court, down from 58,639 the previous quarter, the report says. Filings are typically lower during the holiday months, but even adjusted for the seasonal drop-off the numbers are significantly lower, according to the authors.

Immigration officials said they have not had the opportunity to review the data to verify their accuracy but added that the numbers don't fully encompass the ways in which a person can be deported. The report, said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen, is focused only on submissions for deportations made to immigration courts.

"It ignores the fact that ICE regularly removes individuals without going through formal [immigration court] proceedings utilizing voluntary, administrative, expedited and stipulated removals as well the reinstatement of old removal orders," she said.

From October through early February, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed 121,780 people from the country, according to the agency.

Immigration officials said a review of 300,000 deportation cases announced by the Obama administration in August is well underway and tens of thousands of cases have been reviewed.

Congress has provided enough funds for the ICE to deport about 400,000 people annually, and the administration has said it intends to focus those resources on cases deemed high-priority, including those involving national security, serious felons, individuals with lengthy criminal records, known gang members and others who pose a threat to public safety.

"We're being smart about how we enforce the law. We're doing it in a way that makes sense and in a way that uses tax dollars effectively," said ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez. "Law enforcement has to have set priorities because the American public doesn't want us to just arrest the first 400,000 people we can remove. Why arrest the first 400,000 people when you can arrest those who are threats to the community?"

The proportion of filings during the period that sought deportation on grounds of alleged criminal activity was 14%, down from nearly 16% in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011. Those numbers led the report's authors to say there is little evidence cases are being better targeted toward serious criminals. But agency officials strongly disputed that notion as based on incomplete data.

"As it has done in past reports, this report focuses only on the technical reasons why an individual is legally removable from the US and ignores the criminal history that triggered the decision to seek the person's removal," Christensen said.

The number of convicted criminals deported by the agency nearly doubled last year. So far, 52% of those removed this fiscal year are convicted criminals, Christensen said.

The report's analysis is based on case records obtained by the data research center under a Freedom of Information Act request made to the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which administers the nation's immigration courts.

Some immigration attorneys said they have started to see a change in the types of cases the government pursues.

"It's too early for me to say it's a trend," said Carl Shusterman, a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney and former trial attorney for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "But it is something I didn't necessarily get in the past.

"Before, if you had these Dream Act students and we wanted to keep them in the U.S., I'd have to go to a congressman and beg for a private bill. Now I can just go to a deportation officer who has the case and say, 'You know this person falls within these prosecutorial discretion guidelines. You don't really want to deport them, do you?' And they'll agree with you. That is a sea change."

SOURCE: Paloma Esquivel - Los Angeles Times

Debt doomsday may come sooner than expected


The federal government could hit the debt ceiling sooner than expected — and possibly around the November election — according to a report out Friday.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill had hoped that last summer’s deal to end the nasty fight over lifting the debt ceiling would ensure the issue wouldn’t resurface until at least 2013.

But the Bipartisan Policy Center said Friday that the debt-limit doomsday could come earlier than that.

Analysts from the Bipartisan Policy Center projected that the United States will hit its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling between late November 2012 and early January 2013 due to lower-than-expected corporate tax revenues and the recent extension of the payroll tax holiday.

A number of other factors, such as the ongoing financial crises in Europe, volatile gas prices and how quickly the U.S. economy continues to grow could push the debt-ceiling deadline forward or backwards, according to the center.

“When the Budget Control Act of 2011 increased the debt ceiling last August, Congress, the administration, and outside analysts believed that this increase would allow federal borrowing under the limit well into 2013,” the center’s analysts wrote. “Due to unexpected circumstances … that belief appears increasingly likely to have been misguided.”

The current debt level is $15.4 trillion, according to the Treasury Department.

The center’s report echoes a warning from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week, when he testified before the Senate Budget Committee that the country would reach the debt limit “significantly” after the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, but “before the end of the calendar year.”

“Those estimates will change, it’s a long way away and you know those estimates change a lot,” Geithner told senators. “But what we do try and do is update those estimates regularly, transparently and we’ll keep doing that as we have in the past.”

President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget also foreshadows an earlier-than-expected deadline. As of Sept. 30, the debt level is expected to hit $16.3339 trillion, running close to the statutory $16.394 trillion limit, according to the budget.

A grueling, weeks-long battle in Congress last summer ended with an agreement to slash $2.1 trillion from the federal budget in exchange for raising the debt limit by the same amount. The standoff pushed the country to the edge of default and triggered the first-ever downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.

If the United States maxes out its credit limit before the end of this year, that could set up another messy and acrimonious battle during the lame-duck session. Lawmakers already face a dilemma over expiring Bush-era tax rates and a potential fight over preventing the $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts that were borne out of the supercommittee’s failure last November.

Congress has to sign off on any increases to the debt ceiling, but the Treasury Department can employ a variety of accounting maneuvers to stall the absolute deadline before the country defaults on its debt. It did so last year, when the debt limit was actually hit in May but Treasury was able to delay the deadline until early August.

The Bipartisan Policy Center said it believed that the Treasury Department could punt the debt-limit deadline until February 2013 if the so-called extraordinary measures were again used.

A recent analysis from JP Morgan also estimated that due to the payroll tax holiday deal – which also included an extension of jobless benefits and a delay in steep pay cuts to doctors who serve Medicare patients – the debt ceiling will be reached in mid-December. But the investment banking firm said that with the various accounting measures, Treasury could delay the absolute deadline until February 2013.


GEITHNER: Rich must pay more for 'privilege of being an American'


Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, speaking this morning on CNBC:

"That’s the kind of balance you need," said Geithner. "Why is that the case? Because if you don't try to generate more revenues through tax reform, if you don't ask, you know, the most fortunate Americans to bear a slightly larger burden of the privilege of being an American, then you have to -- the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security."


Long, damaging primary has Establishment GOP considering changes to its rules


Republicans are weighing a change to the party’s presidential primary rules amid fears this year’s prolonged nomination process is hurting the GOP’s chances of retaking the White House.

The problems with the current system were discussed at length at both the most recent Republican National Committee meeting and at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference last month. Top RNC committeemen plan to reconsider the rules at the next RNC meeting, slotted for late spring in Phoenix.

Many acknowledge privately that they worry a long primary is forcing all of the GOP candidates to spend more than they want and that the candidates' negative attacks against each other are hurting the eventual nominee's chances against President Obama.

“I think it comes up at almost every major Republican meeting across the country,” said one senior Republican, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “Everyone’s talking about how we can do this better, how can we fix it. I think it’s going to be a big discussion.”

The RNC adopted a new rules system in 2011 in order to try to control the mad scramble for early primary dates that had occurred in years past, partly because of the view that John McCain locked up the nomination too quickly and that a longer process would have helped the GOP find a stronger candidate.

The new system created a rigid calendar and strong penalties for states that moved their contest's date up, including the loss of half a state’s delegates and a proportional rather than winner-take-all system for states that voted before April.

The two goals were to keep the primary season out of the holidays and to prolong the system so lesser known candidates would have more of a chance.

Florida’s decision to break the new rules and vote early anyway set off a calendar scramble that pushed Iowa’s caucuses to Jan. 3. Many Republicans are now worried that the second goal has worked too well, and that the long primary is hurting the candidates.

One prominent critic of the current system is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). “These RNC rules that turned to proportional awarding of delegates, this was the dumbest idea anybody ever had,” he said on Fox News on Thursday. “You're running against an incumbent president who will not have a primary, so your idea is make ours longer so we can beat each other up longer?”

Some Republicans worry the extended primary is draining their candidates’ coffers, leaving them at a financial disadvantage against Obama.

“People do have concerns this has gone on longer than they would like and cost more money than they would like and created more thunder and lightning than they would like. That is a result of people going before the time allotted in the rules," said John Ryder, an RNC committeeman from Tennessee who came up with the idea to assign delegates proportionally. "And had the states complied with the rules the calendar would have been more compressed, orderly and less costly."

Ryder blamed Florida for jumping the gun. He argued that that the eventual nominee will be much more battle-tested and ready to take on Obama, but he worried that the level of negativity the campaigns had engaged in could hurt the eventual nominee.

“A lot of [the ad money] is going to exposing the flaws in the other guy’s policies,” he said. “It’s a trade-off. They have to raise and spend more money than they would have in a shorter primary but they get the privilege of being in the public eye.”

Ryder predicted that the RNC would seek to strengthen the current rules.

“I think the key change is going to be to try to find a way to encourage states not to jump line the way Florida did this time," he said. "I don’t know whether that’ll be an increase in penalties or some other device that can affect their decision process."

RNC spokesperson Sean Spicer said it was too early to say whether this year's primary process would have any effect on the general election.

“I’m sure there were a lot of New York Giants fans that were concerned when they started the season two and three, but not many were concerned after they won the Super Bowl,” he said. “We’re very early in the process and have a ways to go.”

Most observers still predict that the primary will be all but over by late April and say that would give the nominee plenty of time to raise money and prepare for the general election.

But they all said that if the primary dragged into the summer, it could hurt the eventual nominee and that a brokered convention would be a disaster for the party. Thus far, none of the Republican candidates are even close to hitting the 1,144 delegates needed to lock in the nomination. At the current rate of distribution, the earliest a candidate could have the necessary delegates is late April.

Adding to the pressure are threats from Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich to stay in the race until the GOP convention in Tampa.

“It’d be horrible to go into a brokered convention heading into Labor Day weekend,” said Saul Anuzis, an RNC committeeman from Michigan who backs Mitt Romney.

Anuzis was the only one of the 15-member board to vote against proportionality.

“When you’re challenging the incumbent, you wanted to get the nomination process done as quickly as possible so they can begin pulling the party together and raise money,” he said.

Anuzis said he didn’t fight hard against the rule when it passed a year ago but said he thought the system would be scrapped for next election.

“What we’ve seen is unless the rules are extremely draconian you’re going to have a hard time imposing national rules,” he said. “There are some people that believe we should eliminate all the timing rules and just let the nominating process work its way out. It’s very hard to try to control the states from the national perspective, we cause more grief than good sometimes. I’d be all for a laissez faire system.”

SOURCE: Cameron Joseph - The Hill

REPORT: Federal aid pushes up college tuition rates


Hough: New research shows how federal spending on higher education can backfire.

Federal aid for students has increased 164% over the past decade, adjusted for inflation, according to the College Board. Yet three-quarters of Americans and even a majority of college presidents see college as unaffordable for most, and that sentiment has been steadily spreading, the Pew Research Center reports.

Two new studies offer clues on why. One measures the degree to which some colleges reduce their own aid in response to increased federal aid. The other suggests federal aid is helping to push college costs higher.

Recipients of federal Pell Grants have, by definition, limited means to pay for college, so they are likely to qualify for grants and price breaks given out by schools, too. But schools view a student's sources of federal aid before deciding how much to give on their own, rather than the other way around. The result is a crowding out effect, where some schools give less as the government gives more.

Lesley Turner, a PhD candidate at Columbia University, looked at data on aid from 1996 to 2008 and calculated that, on average, schools increased Pell Grant recipients' prices by $17 in response to every $100 of Pell Grant aid. More selective nonprofit schools' response was largest and these schools raised prices by $66 for every $100 of Pell Grant aid.

Aid from schools over the past decade has increased about half as fast as federal aid, according to the College Board.

Perhaps worse for students than a crowding out effect is the Bennett Effect, named for William Bennett, who 25 years ago as Secretary of Education wrote for the New York Times, "Increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions."

If subsidies puff up buying power and shift prices higher, as economics courses teach, could federal aid for college help create an affordability problem? After all, the federal government began spending more on college aid with the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the full funding of Pell Grants in 1975. Since 1979, tuition and fees have tripled after adjusting for inflation. That's much faster than the increase for real estate and teacher pay.

There have been mixed findings on the Bennett Effect in recent decades, with some studies finding a dollar-for-dollar relationship and others, none at all. Determining why college costs are rising is a difficult task, after all. Stephanie Riegg Cellini of George Washington University and Claudia Golden of Harvard take a new approach, focusing on for-profit schools. Some of these are eligible to participate in so-called Title IV aid programs (named for a portion of the aforementioned Act) and some not.

After adjusting for differences among schools, the authors find that Title IV-eligible schools charge tuition that is 75% higher than the others. That's roughly equal to the amount of the aid received by students at these schools.

Studies like these suggest that if one goal of government is to make college affordable, aid should become more thoughtful instead of merely more plentiful. And the total cost of federal spending on college isn't fully known. That's because spending on loans dwarfs that on grants. Student loans recently eclipsed credit card debt.

With credit cards, borrowers pay high interest rates to make up for their lack of collateral. Many many student loans have subsidized rates; others have low rates based on the assumption that a college education is a good financial risk for lenders.

If costs outpace the ability of graduates to find jobs with good pay, and repayment rates on these loans slide, taxpayers could end up feeling the crunch.


FLASHBACK: Anti-Mormon bias persists, notably among Democrats

Ever since Mitt Romney's unsuccessful run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, there's been much discussion of whether GOP voters would accept a Mormon candidate. Would evangelical conservatives, in particular, look past the former Massachusetts governor's faith to vote for him? The underlying assumption was that the more conservative the views, the more intolerant the voter.

Now, it turns out a better question might be whether Democratic voters would accept a Mormon candidate. In a survey that cuts against the media stereotype, a new Gallup Poll has found that more Democrats than Republicans say they would not vote for a Mormon for president. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats say they wouldn't vote for a Mormon, while 18 percent of Republicans say the same. For independents, the figure is 19 percent.

Of course the two Mormons in the race, Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, are both Republicans. But should either win the GOP nomination, they'll be looking for all the votes they can get, including those of independents and disaffected Democrats. Anti-Mormon bias among any of those groups can't help.

Ask church officials about the party disparity, and they carefully avoid the question. "We are politically neutral," says Michael Purdy, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "and are pleased when good men and women decide to participate in the political process and serve with integrity."

But talk to church representatives about the general issue of Mormon acceptance, and you'll get a glimpse of how they view the party divide. As they see it, familiarity tends to breed acceptance. "We have found that as others get to know us that reservations they may have about us tend to lessen," says Purdy. "The church is growing, and people are increasingly likely to know a member of the faith -- a friend, a colleague, a neighbor."

In other words, when people don't know any Mormons and don't know much about Mormonism, they tend to view Mormon candidates with suspicion. Once they become more familiar with the church and its members, they become more relaxed about it.

Many Mormons are quite conservative, and of course Utah is one of the most conservative states in the country. It's possible that a significant number of Democrats and blue-state residents, some of them cocooned in liberal enclaves, just don't know many Mormons and harbor negative ideas and stereotypes about the unknown.

Perhaps the most striking news in the Gallup survey is the durability of anti-Mormon bias. For more than 40 years, Gallup has asked a simple question: "If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person who happened to be a Mormon, would you vote for that person?" In the most recent survey, 76 percent of those polled said they would vote for the Mormon candidate, while 22 percent said they would not.

In 1967, when Gallup first asked the question, 75 percent said they would vote for a Mormon, while 17 percent said they wouldn't. The results were practically the same as they are today.

"The stability in U.S. bias against voting for a Mormon presidential candidate contrasts markedly with steep declines in similar views toward several other groups over the past half-century, including blacks, women, Catholics, and Jews," writes Gallup. "The last time as many as 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for any of these groups (the same level opposed to voting for a Mormon today) was 1959 for Catholics, 1961 for Jews, 1971 for blacks, and 1975 for women. Opposition to voting for each of these has since tapered off to single digits."

But not for Mormons.

Maybe that will change, at least a little, if Romney and Huntsman make it to the final stretch of the Republican race. They present two different faces of the faith -- Romney is deeply devoted to the church while Huntsman stresses his spirituality and expresses a generalized pride in his "Mormon roots." Church officials won't comment on any individual candidate but they do seem to welcome the increased attention the campaign brings. "With the increased conversation about Mormons of late, we are striving to do a better job in joining the conversation and defining ourselves rather than having others define us," says Michael Purdy.

There will be a lot more conversation if Romney or Huntsman becomes the GOP nominee. And perhaps there will be a serious discussion of the acceptance question -- on both sides of the party divide.

SOURCE: Byron York, The Washington Examiner


Exclusive: State Department quietly warning region on Syrian WMDs

Friday, February 24, 2012

The State Department has begun coordinating with Syria's neighbors to prepare for the handling of President Bashar al-Assad's extensive weapons of mass destruction if and when his regime collapses, The Cable has learned.

This week, the State Department sent a diplomatic demarche to Syria's neighbors Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, warning them about the possibility of Syria's WMDs crossing their borders and offering U.S. government help in dealing with the problem, three Obama administration officials confirmed to The Cable. For concerned parties both inside and outside the U.S. government, the demarche signifies that the United States is increasingly developing plans to deal with the dangers of a post-Assad Syria -- while simultaneously highlighting the lack of planning for how to directly bring about Assad's downfall.

Syria is believed to have a substantial chemical weapons program, which includes mustard gas and sophisticated nerve agents, such as sarin gas, as well as biological weapons. Syria has also refused IAEA requests to make available facilities that were part of its nuclear weapons program and may still be in operation.

The State Department declined to provide access to any officials to discuss the private diplomatic communication on the record, such as the author of the demarche Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman. In a meeting with reporters earlier this year, Countryman expressed confidence that the United States knows where Syria's WMD stockpiles are, but warned that they could become a very serious security issue for Syria and the region going forward.

"We have ideas as to the quantity and we have ideas as to where they are," Countryman said. "We wish some of the neighbors of Syria to be on the lookout... When you get a change of regime in Syria, it matters what are the conditions -- chaotic or orderly."

Today, in response to inquiries from The Cable, a State Department official offered the following statement:

"The U.S. and our allies are monitoring Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. These weapons' presence in Syria undermines peace and security in the Middle East, and we have long called on the Syrian government to destroy its chemicals weapons arsenal and join the Chemical Weapons Convention," the State Department official said. "We believe Syria's chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control, and we will continue to work closely with like-minded countries to prevent proliferation of Syria's chemical weapons program."

The demarche made four specific points, according to other U.S. officials who offered a fuller account to The Cable. It communicated the U.S. government's recognition that there is a highly active chemical warfare program in Syria, which is complemented by ballistic-missile delivery capability. It further emphasized that that any potential political transition in Syria could raise serious questions about the regime's control over proliferation-sensitive material.

Third, the State Department wanted Syria's neighbors to know that should the Assad regime fall, the security of its WMD stockpile -- as well as its control over conventional weapons like MANPADS (shoulder-fired rocket launchers) -- could come into question and could pose a serious threat to regional security. Lastly, the demarche emphasized that the U.S. government stands ready to support neighboring countries to provide border-related security cooperation.

"It's essentially a recognition of the danger to the regional and international community of the stockpiles that the regime possesses and the importance of working with countries, given the potential fall of the regime, to prevent the proliferation of these very sensitive weapons outside of Syria's border," one administration official said. "It's an exponentially more dangerous program than Libya. We are talking about legitimate WMDs here -- this isn't Iraq. The administration is really concerned about loose WMDs. It's one of the few things you could put on the agenda and do something about without planning the fall of the regime."

The administration is also working closely with the Jordanians on the issue. A Jordanian military delegation was at the Pentagon Thursday to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In addition to the danger of proliferation, there is a concern that Assad could actually use his WMDs if his situation becomes desperate.

"The WMD program is in play now, and that's important because it highlights the innate danger that the existence of this regime poses to U.S. security and regional interests," the administration official said. "[The demarche] puts Syria's neighbors on notice and it reflects the recognition that a dangerous Assad regime is willing to do anything to save its own skin. If they are willing to kill the country to save the regime, they might be willing to do a great deal more damage throughout the region."

Some officials inside and outside the administration see the WMD activity as helpful, but lament that such a high degree of planning is not taking place on the issue of how to precipitate the downfall of the Assad regime as quickly and as safely as possible.

Over 70 countries met in Tunis today to develop a unified message on the transition of power in Syria and urge the Assad regime to allow humanitarian access. The Saudi delegation actually walked out of the meeting, complaining of "inactivity" and urging the international community to arm the Syrian opposition.

The Obama administration has consistently rejected calls by the Syrian National Council and others to prepare for a military intervention in Syria and no real strategy exists internally to force Assad from power, another administration official said.

"Our strategic calculus can't be solely about what comes after Assad without taking a hard look at how to bring about Assad's downfall as safely as possible," said this official. "The reality is, at some point, there will be a recognition you can't plan for a post-Assad scenario without planning how to shape the downfall itself. You can't separate the two."

Concern about a gap in planning for how to oust the Assad regime is shared by some in Congress, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who issued a statement today urging the administration to start directly aiding the Syrian rebels and protecting Syrian civilians.

"Unfortunately, speeches and meetings by themselves will do nothing to stop the unacceptable slaughter in Syria, which is growing worse by the day," the senators said. "We remain deeply concerned that our international diplomacy risks becoming divorced from the reality on the ground in Syria, which is now an armed conflict between Assad's forces and the people of Syria who are struggling to defend themselves against indiscriminate attacks."

In her prepared remarks in Tunis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she supported more sanctions on the Assad regime but she declined to endorse any direct help to the Syrian opposition without the consent of the Syrian government, saying only, "We all need to look hard at what more we can do."

SOURCE: The Cable - Foreign Policy

Friday, February 24, 2012

Surprised? Planned Parenthood Allegedly Created Indiana Girl Scouts Sex Ed Program

February 24, 2012

While liberals frequently impugn the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts seem to have gotten a pass for its connections to Planned Parenthood. But that could change if more stories like the one below keep coming to light.

LifeNews reports that in Bloomington, Indiana, a Planned Parenthood “health and sexuality educator” was involved in the creation of a Girl Scouts program on the same subject, targeted at girls as young as five years old. They cite Planned Parenthood award recipient Anne Reese, who Planned Parenthood itself credits with “work[ing] for many years as a health and sexuality educator, and help[ing to] initiate the Family Life Education program for Girl Scouts ages five to 18 throughout a twelve-county area.” The same site mentions that Reese’s career began in the Bloomington, Indiana area.

And what does a “health and sexuality educator” do, exactly? Again, a section on the Planned Parenthood website titled, “Tools for Educators,” provides the answers. Or rather, they don’t provide the answers, but link to lesson plans from another organization called the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Here are a few excerpts of activities from their lesson plans:

Q&A on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

This interactive lesson is designed to allow participants to ask questions and hear from gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning people in the form of a panel discussion. The activity addresses and assists participants to move beyond stereotypes and promote acceptance and respect for all people irrespective of their sexual orientation. The lesson requires a panel composed of youth and young adults who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning.

How to be a Super Activist or Ally

In this lesson participants identify ways to be an activist and/or ally to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people. The lesson relies heavily on group activity and requires students to work together to create ways to fight homophobia and transphobia.

Unplanned Pregnancy: Abortion

This lesson addresses issues related to abortion including: definitions of spontaneous and induced, surgical and medical, legal and illegal abortions; and discussion of medical and legal facts and myths, feelings, and values regarding abortion. An optional family homework assignment is included.

Contraception, Day 3: What’s the Best Method?

This lesson explores decision-making with regards to birth control, including the impact of ethical and emotional issues. Students practice applying factors such as effectiveness, safety, cost, emotions and ethics to hypothetical decision-making scenarios.

The news, unfortunately, might not be too shocking considering stories The Blaze has brought you before. Last week we reported on the video by the American Life League that exposes the graphic lessons Planned Parenthood teaches to young people aimed at “hooking” them on sex. In fact, Indian state Rep. Bob Morris recently called the Girl Scouts a “radicalized organization” that “sexualizes” young girls. And a VA Catholic church banned the group for its ties to Planned Parenthood.

And on top of that all, The Blaze exposed teaching material used by the Girl Scouts that encouraged them to use the liberal site Media Matters to combat bias.

So is this what you thought your money was going to when you bought a box of Thin Mints? Weigh in below.

SOURCE: Mytheos Holt - The Blaze

See The Chevy Volt Parody Ad That GM Probably Doesn’t Like

February 24, 2012

Yesterday we posted a story about a memo allegedly sent by GE Healthcare America to its employees. The memo was a corporate mandate explaining that company cars will be replaced by the Chevy Volt, and anyone who chooses to drive a gas-only car on company business will not be reimbursed for travel expenses.

Today we offer a follow-up. A parody ad for the Volt titled, “Do You Smell Something?” It’s filled with plenty of cheeky comments that especially poke fun at the Volts problem with catching on fire:

SOURCE: Mike Opelka - The Blaze

The video has been on YouTube for just over two weeks and comes from, a group that is promoting awareness of the real cost of the GM bailout.

Why You Might Want to Delete Your Google Browser History Before Next Week

February 24, 2012

As of March 1, Google’s new, “shorter and easier to read” privacy policy will go into effect. At that time, the search giant that also includes products such as YouTube, Gmail and Calendar will begin “[treating] you as a single user across all [of its] products.” An example provided by the company is letting you know you’re late for a meeting based on your location and calendar schedule.

(Related: ‘Real News From The Blaze’ breaks down how Google’s new privacy policy … breaches your privacy)

So, what is there to do if you want Google to hold a little less personal information about you? The Daily Mail suggests a good starting step is to delete your browser history. It even offers the steps on how to do so:

1. Go to the Google homepage and sign into your account. Use the dropdown menu under your name in the upper right-hand corner to access your settings. Click on “account settings”, like below.

2. Next, find the section called “Services” and you’ll see a link to “View, enable, or disable web history”, shown in the red box below. Click on it.

3. Finally, you can remove all of your search details by clicking on “Remove Web History”, shown in the red box below. Once you have done this your history will remain disabled until you turn it back on.

The Daily Mail notes that while clearing your browsing history won’t prevent Google from storing this info for its own purposes, it will at least become anonymous.

Google announced in January that it would be reducing its more than 60 privacy policies into one cohesive message. With this new policy, if you are logged into Google, the company may be able to collect your information from one service to another, recognizing preferences and making connections across its platforms. If you think not logging into Google will prevent tracking, the Daily Mail points out that the company will just track you by IP address. While Google says that this updated policy doesn’t deviate from its core principals.

Front page carousel photo courtesy of

SOURCE: Liz Klimas - The Blaze

Flashback to 2008: Candidate Barack Obama nods in approval when man says he is happy about $4 a gallon gas (video)

From a June 2008 campaign stop in Wisconsin:

By a July campaign stop in Missouri, Candidate Obama had a plan to lower gas prices. He wanted us to air up our tires.

Candidate Obama's supporters didn't think high gas prices would be a problem. They thought Obama would buy their gas for them.

How is that 'Hope and Change' working out for you?

SOURCE: Howard - BlueGrass Pundit

Obama's Idea of Job Creation: NASA to pay people to eat astronaut food...


You read that right. NASA wants volunteers for their four-month simulation to Mars. But instead of conducting tests on confinement and psychological stress, NASA just want to study your tastebuds.

According to Mashable,

"The space agency is looking for applicants to eat astronaut food for four months during a simulated trip to the Red Planet. Participants will try instant foods, and ones with shelf-stable ingredients, and scientists will record their reactions. The goal of the experiment is to discover what foods people like to consume consistently.

Astronaut ice cream aside, limited supplies (such as flour, sugar and dried meat), and no chance of fresh food limits the space-based diet. This study will gauge if participants can avoid “menu fatigue,” that is, becoming tired of eating the same foods. The study background states that if menu fatigue occurs, astronauts’ “overall food intake declines, putting them at risk for nutritional deficiency, loss of bone and muscle mass, and reduced physical capabilities.”

There are a few catches, of course. Among others, you have to have a bachelor’s degree in either math, engineering, biological or physical sciences, or computer science; you have to be a non-smoker; you have to speak English. Then if you are chosen, you have to live astronaut-style: in a small enclosure with strangers, with limited showers, writing daily reports.

But in addition to the free food, those chosen for the study will be given cooking classes and taught to work in space’s microgravity environment. They will also earn round-trip travel to Hawaii, lodgings…and $5,000.

There also seems to be a lot of down-time in this study. But hey, you won’t be slacking. You’ll be hanging out…for science!

You can apply for the study here.

SOURCE: Carol Pinchefsky, Contributor -

Australia inquest hopes to solve 1980 mystery 'dingo baby' case

Daniel Hartley-Allen / Getty Images - Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton arrives at Darwin Magistrates Court for the first day of the fourth coronial inquest into the disappearance of her daughter, Azaria Chamberlain, more than 30 years ago.

SYDNEY -- A coroner on Friday opened Australia's fourth inquest into the most notorious and bitterly controversial legal drama in the nation's history: the 1980 death of a 9-week-old baby whose parents say was taken by a dingo from her tent in the Australian Outback.

Azaria Chamberlain's mother, Lindy, was convicted and later cleared of murdering her and has always maintained that a wild dog took the baby. She and her ex-husband, Michael Chamberlain, are hoping fresh evidence they have gathered about dingo attacks on children will convince Northern Territory Coroner Elizabeth Morris and end relentless speculation that has followed them for 32 years.

Anne Lade, a former police officer hired by the court to investigate the case, told a packed courtroom at the Darwin Magistrates Court in the Northern Territory that in the years since Azaria disappeared, there have been numerous dingo attacks on humans, some of them fatal.

Rex Wild, a lawyer assisting the coroner, described several of the attacks and said he believed the evidence showed that a dingo could have been responsible for Azaria's death.

'Balance of probabilities'

The Australian newspaper reported that the court was told there have been 239 recorded attacks by dingoes in Queensland between 1990 and 2011.

"Although it (a dingo killing a child) may have been regarded as unlikely in 1980 ... it shouldn't be by 2011-12," Wild said. "With the additional evidence in my submission, your honor should accept on the balance of probabilities that the dingo theory is the correct one."

AP Photo / File
Michael and Lindy Chamberlain leave Alice Springs courthouse on February 2, 1982. Lindy Chamberlain, who was accused and later cleared of killing her infant daughter Azaria, said a dingo took the baby.

Morris adjourned the hearing without issuing a decision, and did not say when she would release her findings.

Azaria's death certificate still lists her cause of death as "unknown." The Chamberlains say they want to set the record straight on behalf of their daughter.

"It gives me hope this time that Australians will finally be warned and realize that dingoes are a dangerous animal," Lindy said outside the courthouse in the Northern Territory capital, Darwin. "I also hope that this will give a final finding which closes the inquest into my daughter's death, which so far has been standing open and unfinished."

According to the Australian Associated Press the Chamberlains’ lawyer Stuart Tipple said on ABC Radio before the inquest began Friday that the couple were not bitter.

"What they really want to do is to get the message out there and to make sure that this sort of tragedy never ever happens again," he said.

Fear and paranoia

Azaria vanished from her tent in the Outback on Aug. 17, 1980, during a family vacation to Ayers Rock, the giant red monolith now known by its Aboriginal name Uluru. Fellow campers told police they heard a low growl followed by a baby's cry shortly before Lindy — who had been making dinner at a nearby barbecue area — went to check on her daughter.

Lindy said she saw a dingo run from the tent and disappear into the darkness. There were dingo prints outside the tent, and spots of blood on the bedding inside. Upon seeing Azaria's empty bassinet, Lindy screamed, "The dingo's got my baby!" — a line made famous by the Meryl Streep movie, "A Cry in the Dark," based on the case.

Azaria's body was never found, though her torn and bloodied jumpsuit turned up in the surrounding desert.

AAP via EPA The camping area, including the Lindy Chamberlain's tent, where her daughter Azaria went missing near Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in Australia's Northern Territory on August 17, 1980.

Officials, doubtful that a dingo was strong enough to drag away a baby, charged Lindy with murder. Prosecutors said she slit Azaria's throat in the family car — which initial forensic tests said was splashed with baby's blood — and buried her in the desert. Lindy was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Years later, more sophisticated tests found that the "blood" in the car was a combination of milk and a chemical sprayed during manufacture. Three years into Lindy's prison sentence, a jacket Azaria had been wearing was found by chance near a dingo den. Lindy was released from prison and her conviction was overturned.

Still, three separate coroner's inquests have failed to agree on a cause of death for Azaria. The last inquest, held in 1995, returned an inconclusive finding, with the coroner saying there was not enough evidence to prove a dingo was responsible.

In court, Michael Chamberlain fought back tears as he spoke of the nightmarish aftermath of his daughter's death.

"Since the loss of Azaria I have had an abiding fear and paranoia about safety around dingoes," he said. "They send a shudder up my spine. It is a hell I have to endure."

Australians have followed the case closely since it began, and most have strong opinions. Although public support for Lindy has grown over the years, many still doubt that a dingo could have killed Azaria.

"I think that the people that don't think for themselves aren't ever going to be convinced, and it really doesn't matter what you show them," Tipple told the AP. "I could show them a video of the dingo taking the baby and it wouldn't convince them — because they've made their mind up."

SOURCE: staff and news services

Obama: Use 'algae' as substitute for oil

February 23, 2012

President Obama admitted today that he does not have a "silver bullet" solution for skyrocketing gas prices, but he proposed alternative energy sources such as "a plant-like substance, algae" as a way of cutting dependence on oil by 17 percent.

"We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance, algae -- you've got a bunch of algae out here," Obama said at the University of Miami today. "If we can figure out how to make energy out of that, we'll be doing alright. Believe it or not, we could replace up to 17 percent of the oil we import for transportation with this fuel that we can grow right here in America."

The Department of Energy (DOE) currently spends about $85 million on 30 research projects "to develop algal biofuels," according to the White House, which announced that Obama is committing another $14 million to the idea.

Obama did not say when he expected algae-based fuel to reach that level, but the federal government has a dodgy track record with respect to developing alternative vehicle fuels. Biodiesel, for example, accounted for less than 1 percent of the diesel fuel market as of 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration. And of course there's ethanol -- after four decades, tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, and draconian mandates that force it on unwilling consumers, ethanol was five percent of vehicle consumption (by volume) as of 2008. Although algae-to-gas is a very different idea, it is still in its early stages.

"We're not going to transition out of oil anytime soon," Obama added, before touting the record high domestic gas production right now and the agreement with Mexico to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, while still calling for expanded investment in alternative energy.

Oil industry leaders reject Obama's claim to have given significant support to oil production. "These have been the most difficult three years from a policy standpoint that I've ever seen in my career," Bruce Vincent, president of Swift Energy, an oil and gas company in Houston, said yesterday. "They've done nothing but restrict access and delay permitting."

Obama affirmed the need to protect the planet by developing clean energy alternatives, but The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone argues that he hasn't been consistent even on that front. "We’ve prohibited a pipeline, the safest way to transport oil, from Canada, but we’re aiding Mexico in offshore drilling, which is riskier, and by a firm that lacks the experience of the U.S. firms we have been trying to prevent drilling in the same body of water," Barone wrote yesterday. "Does this make any sense at all?"

SOURCE: Joel Gehrke - Washington Examiner

Greenies' Latest Brainstorm: A Dead-On Source for Alternative Energy

Minister praises plan to heat swimming pool from fires of crematorium

A money-saving plan to heat a swimming pool with energy from the cremation of dead bodies has been backed by a senior Government minister.

A swimming pool in Worcestershire will be heated from a crematorium Photo: (c) Leander Baerenz

23 Feb 2012

Sir George Young, leader of the House of Commons, said the proposal to warm a Worcestershire leisure centre with heat from a nearby crematorium was a “groundbreaking scheme”.

He said the Government is considering whether the plan could be duplicated elsewhere in Britain.

“The Government is aware of this particular scheme,” he said. “The Department for Energy and Climate Change will shortly be publishing its heat strategy and this will explore the potential for better recovery and reuse of wasted heat in schemes such as this one.”

He added that he would “die a happier man” if he knew heat from his cremation was warming the waters of a local pool.

Redditch Borough Council will be the first authority in the country to use a crematorium to heat a swimming pool. Work has already begun on the project, which is expected to be completed this spring. Since the plans were approved in February last year, they have won an award from the Green Organisation.

Currently, heat from the incinerators at crematoria - which reach 800 degrees C (1,472F) - is lost into the atmosphere.

Karen Lumley, the Conservative MP for Redditch, had raised the plan as an example of an “innovative scheme which could save £14,500 a year to the taxpayer by heat not being put out into the atmosphere”.

Unison, the trade union, has previously described the cost-saving proposals as "sick and an insult to local residents".

However, the scheme is pushing ahead to will link the crematorium with the Abbey Stadium Leisure Centre.

When the plan was announced, Carole Gandy, leader of Redditch Council, said it would save money and energy.

“I'd much rather use the energy rather than just see it going out of the chimney and heating the sky,” she said.

"It will make absolutely no difference to the people who are using the crematorium for services.

"I do recognise some people might not like it, but if they don't they don't have to use our crematorium.

"I wouldn't want them to do that but they have to make that choice.

"It's only a proposal at the moment but personally I'm supportive of it because I think it will save the authority money and, in the long-term, save energy which is what we're all being told we should do.”

Durham Crematorium is also considering plans to sell the electricity generated from its furnaces to the national grid.

It wants to install turbines in two of its burners, which would use the heat generated during the cremation process to provide the same amount of electricity as would power 1,500 televisions.

SOURCE: Rowena Mason, Political Correspondent - The Telegraph

'Lunch-In' Protests Crackdown on Homemade Lunches

Feb 23, 2012

The National Center for Public Policy Research hosted a “lunch-in” today at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. The target of the protest? “[F]ederal school nutrition guidelines that allegedly forced at least one student to forgo her mother’s home-packed lunch in favor of chicken nuggets,” a press release announcing today’s event read.

The alleged lunch incident happened in North Carolina. “A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious,” a local reporter wrote last week. “The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.”

The story quickly became national news, causing outrage from those who say the government is waging war on lunch.

“We just sat down and had a nice lunch,” protest organizer David Almasi says of today’s protest. “It was our way of thumbing our nose at the federal regulators.”

The location of today’s protest “lunch-in,” Freedom Plaza, is on land owned by the federal government, under the management of the National Park Service.

Seven people at today’s “lunch-in,” which consisted of turkey and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, apple juice boxes, and bananas. It is exactly the lunch that was reportedly taken away from the four-year-old schoolgirl in North Carolina.

“Even though my four-year-old and two-year-old will both be starting at public schools in a few months, I did not agree to let the government make every decision about how they are raised,” Jennifer Biddison said in advance of attending this afternoon’s “seditious lunch,” according to a press release. “Just because I choose to let government schools teach my kids math and reading doesn’t mean I want them to dictate other things such as how they will eat and how they will dress. I’m quite content with the way I am raising them, and I ask the government to honor my choices in such family matters.”

Today’s “protest is part of The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Occupy Occupy D.C.’ events at Freedom Plaza,” a press release announced. “The National Center obtained a five-week permit from the U.S. Park Service that forces the Occupy D.C. encampment to share the park between February 12 and March 15.”

SOURCE: Daniel Harper - The Weekly Standard

A Stalker's Wet Dream: Facial Recognition Technology for Everyone!

Stores hope to boost sales with facial recognition technology

Privacy advocates concerned when faces, names are matched

Feb 23 2012

A decade ago, in the Dreamworks movie "Minority Report," billboards spoke directly to the characters in the movie and even knew their names.

In just weeks, that science fiction plot will become reality as some businesses in Central Florida will know who you are when you walk through their door.

It's thanks to enhanced facial recognition technology.

It's not unusual to see surveillance cameras. They’re inside businesses, outside of homes, even on the streets. In public places, people are comfortable with knowing those cameras are there for safety, but this new technology allows cameras to not just see what people do, but know who they are.

Shops and malls across the country are already taking this a step further.

There are now billboards, made by Immersive Labs in Manhattan, and kiosks that cater ads to your age and demographic.

For example, if a woman was to walk up to a mall directory, a camera inside would take a photo. It will recognize her gender, age and race and instantly provide an ad for the appropriate products. So, if the shopper is a 30-year-old woman, she might see adds for makeup, shoes and clothing.

Industry expert Rafe Needleman believes it's just a matter of time before stores not only to recognize you, but track your spending habits.

“When you walk into a store, it might know who you are just when you walk in and give you deals based on past purchases,” said Needleman.

But not everyone wants to be recognized.

And the Federal Trade Commission worries about the time when technology becomes so advanced that your social media profiles are scraped for information.

Retailers would then have a face, name and maybe much more.

"It's not out of the question that 10 years from now we'll walk down the street and people will be wearing camouflage so they're not picked up by facial recognition trackers all over the place," said Mark Eichorn of the FTC.

In fact, researchers with Carnegie Mellon University used facial recognition technology to identify college students who volunteered to be photographed for their study. By taking those photos and comparing them to photos found on social networking sites, such as Facebook, they were able to identify almost a third of them. That means they had profiles, 'likes,' interests and possibly family information.

Researchers took the study a step further and used other publicly available data to predict partial Social Security numbers.

As for the technology in use now, retailers say they are not saving the photos or the information that is attached to the pictures. They say they're simply using the information to serve you better.

Banks are using it to identify customers and prevent fraud. Hotels are using it to know when honor program guests arrive.

This spring, bars in Gainesville will begin using cameras that will do more than just capture the faces of the people inside. The technology will also determine their gender and age. Using an app called SceneTap on their smartphone, potential patrons can use that data before deciding whether to go inside.

Bars in Orlando and Miami may begin using the software by the end of this year.

SOURCE: Allison McGinley, Lisa Bell, - ClickOrlando.Com