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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shouldn't we first help the Christian victims of Mideast genocide? via @NYPost

Before dawn Monday, four suicide bombers killed five and wounded at least a dozen in the Lebanese Christian town of al-Qaa. Later that night, as townspeople prepared to bury their dead, four more suicide bombers hit. 

The attacks underscored just how endangered are Christians who live in today’s Muslim world. As the United States debates how many Mideast refugees to accept and who should get priority, the answer is staring us in the face: Those most in need of refuge are Christians and Yazidis who live among Muslims. 

On June 19, a suicide bomber killed three people as he detonated himself at a memorial to massacred Christians in Qumishi, Syria. On June 9, a Pakistani Muslim mob badly beat a man merely because he was a Christian. On June 5, two people were killed when Islamists targeted a church with rockets in Syria; the same day, a Christian man was hacked to death at his shop by Islamists in Bangladesh. On June 2, in Nigeria, Muslim youths beheaded a Christian woman for allegedly insulting Mohammed. 

And that’s just this month — a typical month, sadly, for the world’s Christians. 

In May, similar Muslim attacks against Christians took place in Niger, Turkey, Syria, the Philippines, Uganda, Pakistan and Bangladesh. On March 27-28, a Taliban group murdered 69 Christians and wounded 30 more, mainly women and children, as they were celebrating Easter in a park in Lahore, Pakistan. 

The list goes on. 

Yet President Obama seems to value endangered Muslim lives more than the lives of endangered Christians and Yazidis. 

In April, America built a temporary “surge” center in Amman, Jordan, to more rapidly process Muslim immigrants from Syria. The vetting process has been “fast tracked,” perhaps in order to meet Obama’s desired number of 10,000 Muslim Syrians to be admitted by September. 

The Obama administration has called for an openhearted and massive acceptance of Muslim refugees from war zones. Democratic leaders insist that it would be wrong, morally, legally and politically, to stop Muslim immigration — but concede that it’s currently impossible to identify would-be jihadists among refugees or homegrown radicals among their descendants. 

The United Nations has more modestly suggested that Western nations accept Muslim “women and children” first. 

Obama has paid no attention to what has happened in Europe, namely the large number of sexual assaults of girls, women and homosexuals by Muslim men, as well as the staggering financial cost of hosting hostile, non-productive immigrants who may have no desire to assimilate to Western customs. 

Here’s another suggestion. 

If we want to accept refugees in flight from Arab and Muslim war zones, why not start with Christians who are being slaughtered by Muslims in Muslim-majority countries? Although they’re Arabs, Africans or Central Asians, the fact that they’re also Christians might make them more inclined to assimilate to Western ways — and, even if they assimilate imperfectly, they’re more likely to respond to Western freedoms in nonviolent ways. 

Why has the pope offered symbolic asylum in the Vatican only to Muslims and not to fellow Christians? 

Recently, according to my colleague Ashraf Rameleh, a Coptic Christian advocate, “Pope Francis, who is ‘building bridges to build peace’ around the world, has naturally reached out to embrace Sunni Muslims.” Rameleh notes that the pope has “grieved with the Orthodox of Egypt and offered his prayers over the spilled blood of Christians in Libya, recognizing the Coptic Christian martyrs.” 

However, the pope has remained silent about the systematic destruction of the Eastern Christian Church. He hasn’t supported Egyptian President Abdel Fatta el-Sisi, who is trying to break the stranglehold that the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood still has on Egypt. 

I have been told by the director of the Hatune Dogan Foundation, Hans Erling Jensen, that Christians stuck in refugee camps in Turkey have arrived penniless; that Muslims don’t look out for them but, instead, continue to persecute them. Most are starving. Many don’t have money to buy food or to pay traffickers to smuggle them out. 

Why not bring Christians and Yazidis from the Muslim world here first? Why not bring Muslim dissidents, ex-Muslims, and Muslim homosexuals here second? 

Finally, why not bring Muslim girls and women who are already in flight from honor-based violence, including from honor killing here, next — before we extend visas, green cards and asylum to Muslim boys and men? 

Phyllis Chesler is emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. 

Utah senator goes on anti-Trump rant

Utah senator goes on anti-Trump rant

Photo: Rick Bowmer, AP

It doesn't sound like Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee is going to endorse Donald Trump anytime soon.

Asked why he has held off, Lee went on an extended rant that included Trump's attacks on GOP rival Ted Cruz — Lee's best friend — as well as the presumptive GOP nominee's criticism of Muslims, a big issue in the largely Mormon state of Utah.

"I mean we can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK," Lee told Newsmax's Steve Malzberg, who asked about the lack of a Trump endorsement.

"We can go through the fact that he has made some statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerance," Lee added. "We can get into the fact that he is so unpopular because my state consists of members who were a religious minority church — a people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1839 and statements like that make them nervous."

He concluded by telling his host: "Don’t sit here and tell me, Steve, that I have no reason to be concerned about Donald Trump."

Where Was President Obama The Night of Benghazi? We Still Don't Know

After years of investigation, combing through tens-of-thousands of documents and conducting interviews with 75 witnesses and knowledgeable individuals, members of the Benghazi Select Committee officially released their final report on the September 11, 2012 attack this week. There's still one major question that is left unanswered: Where was President Obama during the attack?

"I don't know where he was," Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said during an interview on America's Newsroom Wednesday.

There is nothing in the lengthy report detailing Obama's whereabouts despite the Committee sending the President a list of questions about his role that night. According to reporting from Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent, Obama's attorneys have advised him not to answer any questions regarding his whereabouts during the attack. 

As a reminder, three years ago the White House classified Obama's location and what he did that night as a "largely irrelevant" details. 

During the May 2, 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's complex the White House booked a photographer so we would know exactly where President Obama was. 

Will we ever know where President Obama was the night of the Benghazi terror attacks, which left four Americans dead? I suppose time will tell.

It's Working: Blue Cross/Blue Shield Reports Heavy Obamacare Losses Across the Country

Last week, we analyzed the major news that Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS), a health insurance titan, is withdrawing from Minnesota's individual market due to Obamacare-caused financial losses. We wondered if this move might be a sign of things to come, as we saw with United Health's tiered departure from most Obamacare exchanges. Via the ever-watchful John Sexton, it's beginning to look like BCBS will face powerful market incentives to sever ties with Obamacare, particularly if their 2017 steep rate hike increase requests are rebuffed by government regulators.  Investors Business Daily reports:

Across the country Blue Cross affiliates are losing staggering amounts of money thanks to the law, and are putting in for premium hikes that would have been unimaginable before ObamaCare. For example, Health Care Services Corp. -- which owns Blue Cross affiliates in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas -- lost $1.5 billion on its ObamaCare-compliant plans last year. As a result, it's requesting a nearly 60% rate hike in Texas, and almost 50% in Oklahoma. HCSC pulled out of the New Mexico exchange last year after the state turned down its 50%-plus rate increase. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, meanwhile, lost about $300 million in ObamaCare's first two years and is likely to lose another $100 million this year. It wants a 62% increase in premiums, on top of the 36% it got last year. Highmark Group, which owns Blue Cross affiliates in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia, lost $266 million in just the first nine months of 2015. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina lost $280 million on ObamaCare in 2015. Earlier this year, CEO Brad Wilson talked about possibly pulling out of ObamaCare, saying that "we can't offer something for sale in this marketplace that we know every time it's purchased we're losing money." Arizona'S Blue Cross wants a 65% rate hike after reporting $185 million in losses in ObamaCare's first two years.In Alabama, Blue Cross figures it lost $135 million last year, and $64 million in Nebraska.

Blue Cross produced a landmark study demonstrating that new enrollees through Obamacare's exchanges cost 22 percent more to cover than consumers in the employer-based market.  Why?  The new marketplaces' risk pool demographics have been older and sicker than projected.  Not enough young and healthy Americans -- whose premiums were supposed to subsidize others' care -- have purchased coverage through the program, largely because they cannot afford the "Affordable" Care Act's monthly rates and high out-of-pocket costs.  And when lopsided risk pools fuel deep losses, insurers are faced with three choices: (1) Absorb the losses, which would be unsustainable and fiscally irresponsible, (2) raise rates significantly (as many are attempting), which will only drive away more younger and healthier consumers, or (3) flee the marketplaces, leaving Obamacare "beneficiaries" with even fewer options for coverage and care.  The market's "stabilization" process isn't going very well, which helps account for why the failing law remains unpopular with the American people.  Republicans unveiled a detailed alternative to Obamacare last week, an important and positive step.  In case you missed it, here's a discussion about it, featuring Speaker Paul Ryan and several relevant committee chairmen:

Philip Klein notes that despite all the talk about this long-awaited "unified" plan, dissension in the ranks remains, with potential policy battles ahead.  Finalized premium increases for next year will be announced to customers just days before the November election.  Hillary Clinton first proposed the framework for Obamacare, including its widely-detested individual mandate tax.  She says the law is working.

Navy investigation concludes Iran broke international law by detaining sailors

Navy investigation concludes Iran broke international law by detaining sailors
By Kristina Wong - 06-30-16 09:56 AM EDT

The Navy's top officer said Thursday that an investigation into Iran's detention of 10 sailors and the seizure of their two riverine boats in the Arabian Gulf earlier this year showed that Iran broke international law.

"These two boats and their crew members had every right to be where they were on that day," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson during a press briefing.

"The investigation concluded that Iran violated international law by impeding the boat's innocent passage transit and they violated sovereign immunity by boarding, searching and seizing the boats and by photographing and videotaping the crew," he said.

The investigation's conclusion now raises the question of whether and how the Obama administration will seek redress from Iran.

Richardson would not comment on whether he is aware of any steps the U.S. government will take in response.

"Our investigation didn't investigate that," Richardson said. "So I just want to confine our discussion today on what the investigation covered."

Richardson said the Navy has not directly expressed their displeasure with Iran, leaving it up to Secretary of State John Kerry.

The January 12 incident came just hours before President Obama was to deliver his State of the Union address, and set off a diplomatic scramble to get the sailors released.

The incident was an embarrassment to the administration, which was defending a nuclear agreement with Iran that gave it sanctions relief in exchange for limits to its nuclear program.

The investigation also concluded that the crews of the boats were "derelict" in their duties, by going off course almost immediately after they began their transit from Kuwait to Bahrain in order to save time.

"The RCB boat captains and crews were derelict in performing their duties to expected norms and standards," the report said. "The crews' unplanned and unauthorized deviation caused them to transit unknowingly through Saudi Arabian territorial seas and then through Iranian territorial seas off the coast of Farsi Island."

When the boats were about 1.5 nautical miles from Farsi Island, one of the boats' engines broke down, the summary said.

Shortly thereafter, the Iranian navy approached the boats "in a threatening posture (with weapons uncovered)," it said. As the U.S. boats tried to "evade and then communicated with the Iranians," two more Iranian vessels arrived.

The U.S. boats were then forced to reposition to Farsi Island, the report said.

The report also found that some crew members gave the Iranians information about the capability of their boats and passwords to personal phones and laptops.

And although under standard rules of engagement, U.S. military personnel are obligated to defend their units, the captains leading the crews ordered their gunners to step away from their weapons.

"I didn't want to start a war with Iran," one of the captains said. "My thought at the end of the day was that no one had to die for a misunderstanding."

The Iranians held the sailors for 16 hours, later releasing video and pictures of the crews kneeling with their hands behind their heads.

Video was also released of one of the captains apologizing, and another crew member wiping away tears.

Overall, the mission was plagued by poor decisions, bad training and little oversight, the investigation found.

Two senior officers have already been fired over the incident: Capt. Kyle Moses, which headed the task force that included the riverine units, and Cmdr. Eric Rasch, the commander of the riverine squadron.

The investigation recommended taking disciplinary or administration action against several members of the crew.

--This breaking news report was last updated at 11:05 a.m. 

'Never Trump' plots its last stand

'Never Trump' plots its last stand
By Jonathan Easley - 06-30-16 06:00 AM EDT

Republicans opposed to Donald Trump are plotting a last-ditch effort to deny him their party's nomination at the convention in Cleveland.

A coalition of delegates, lawyers, rules experts and PACs has formed in what participants say is the most coordinated effort to date to dump Trump from the Republican ticket.

The organizers are confident of success and say they're being underestimated.

"This is a laser-guided bomb aimed right at the foundation of the Trump campaign," said Beau Correll, a Virginia delegate and central figure in the opposition movement.

But despite the gains the groups say they've made in fundraising, staffing, coordination and media attention, few are taking their efforts seriously.

Trump's campaign, led by battle-tested convention manager Paul Manafort, has been working closely with the Republican National Committee (RNC).

It will be Trump's convention, and his loyalists will have control of the agenda, the microphones and access to an army of supporters ready to surround and shout down insurgents looking to cause a scene inside the Quicken Loans Arena.

No one at the RNC or within the Trump campaign is expressing any degree of panic over the uprising. RNC strategist Sean Spicer told The Hill the effort is nothing more than "tweets and media fascination."

Skeptics say the insurgents don't have the votes they need on the Rules Committee - a bastion of party traditionalists - to "unbind" delegates from Trump. And while an emergency legal challenge to unbind delegates in Virginia has a chance, legal experts say, it's not a great one.

Even if the rebels are able to convince hundreds of delegates to ignore the results of the monthslong primary contest - won handily by Trump - there are processes in place that could ensure the New York mogul becomes the nominee.

"They've laid down the dried leaves to start the fire but they need lightning to strike," said one prominent conservative lawyer who requested anonymity. "It is really tough to organize the kind of whip operation you need at something as sprawling as the Republican National Convention. Really, really tough."

Still, the effort appears more organized than any of the failed "Never Trump" movements that came before it.

Conservative media figures Erick Erickson, Steve Deace and Bill Kristol have begun joining the conference calls for the coalition and are fanning the flames in editorials and on the airwaves.

Republicans are closely watching the Virginia lawsuit, filed by Correll, in federal court on Friday that challenges a state law that binds delegates to the primary winner. A ruling is expected before the convention, and could come as early as this week.

Legal experts interviewed by The Hill say the lawsuit has a better chance than similar efforts that have failed in the past but still described it as a "long-shot."

"Never Trump" Republicans believe a decision in their favor could ignite a stampede away from the presumptive nominee by validating their argument that all of the delegates to the convention are unbound.

"It would be like a shot of Red Bull straight to the vein," said Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate and one of the main organizers of the planned convention revolt.

Unruh's efforts have so far earned the lion's share of media attention.

She sits on the Rules Committee and is waging a campaign to achieve 57 votes from the 112-member panel in favor of a "Conscience Clause" that would unbind delegates to support whomever they choose.

Unruh says she has 17 firm commitments and eight soft pledges so far. That's short of the 28 signatures she needs for the rule to even be considered for adoption. Party insiders interviewed by The Hill don't see her reaching that threshold.

Several other groups are ready with back-up plans in case she falls short.

Colorado conservative activist Regina Thomson, who runs a PAC called Free the Delegates, is organizing a floor fight irrespective of the Rules Committee's decision.

Thomson is overseeing an effort to convince delegates that they're already unbound. She is talking to delegates about parliamentary rules and how to protest on the convention floor if their representative doesn't cast a vote in accordance with their wishes.

Another group, called Delegates Unbound, led by GOP strategist Dane Waters, is overseeing a national lobbying campaign focused on contacting delegates before they arrive in Cleveland to urge them to vote their conscience.

His group has raised $2.5 million and has already run a $150,000 spot on Fox News Channel. Waters said he will have a staff of 15 regional and state directors manning his national whip operation.

Those three groups are now strategizing together and sharing data.

They claim to have secured enough money to launch a legal defense fund and invest in communications technologies that will keep them in contact with one another on the convention floor.

They say they started bringing volunteers on as full-time employees this week and that they will have lawyers and convention experts on the ground in Cleveland.

Thomson says 350 to 400 delegates and alternates have already inquired about how they can help. An organizing conference call on Sunday night hit maximum capacity of 2,000 participants, Thomson said.

Still, the deck is stacked mightily against the rebellion.

Many Republicans interviewed by The Hill privately grumbled about the effort, describing it as a tiny band of disgruntled delegates engaged in a vanity project that would destroy the party if it were successful.

They believe the likeliest end game is that a few skirmishes break out on the convention floor but are quickly extinguished.

The organizers say they're already under intense pressure at the state level to back away from the effort. Delegates considering joining the rebellion will face the same pressure.

And a host of parliamentary rules designed to make the convention a coronation rather than an election are available to Trump and the RNC to beat back any inroads the insurgents might make.

"I don't see anything here that would spark a stampede away from Trump," said the conservative lawyer.

"What sets off the stampede is Trump doing badly in the polls and Senate candidates falling behind because of it. They need someone, somewhere, like [RNC Chairman] Reince Priebus or [Speaker] Paul Ryan or [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell to show an ounce of leadership if they're to be successful. That's been nonexistent so far."

Lynch’s Surreptitious Meeting with Clinton Violates DOJ Ethics Regs

bill clinton flickr cc

Any reasonable person would think there is something nefarious about the Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch meeting surreptitiously with Hillary Clinton’s husband in a private jet on the tarmac. Lynch just happened to be flying into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on a private aircraft when former President Clinton who just happened to be visiting the Phoenix area was waiting at that very airport waiting to depart. ABC15 reports that Clinton was notified Lynch would be arriving at the airport soon and waited for her arrival. Lynch was arriving in Phoenix for a planned visit as part of her national tour to promote community policing.

Lynch and Clinton met in Lynch’s private jet parked on the airport tarmac for thirty minutes. The meeting happened as Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, remains under investigation for her email scandal. Attorney General Lynch was asked about the meeting during her news conference at the Phoenix Police Department:

“Actually, while I was landing at the airport, I did see President Clinton at the Phoenix airport as I was leaving, and he spoke to myself and my husband on the plane,” she said. “Our conversation was a great deal about his grandchildren. It was primarily social and about our travels. He mentioned the golf he played in Phoenix, and he mentioned travels he’d had in West Virginia.”

“There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body,” Lynch added. “There was no discussion of Benghazi, no discussion of the State Department emails, by way of example.”

When Lynch was asked whether there was any “impropriety” to meeting with Clinton while the email investigation is ongoing, she pivoted nicely:

“My agency is involved in a matter looking at State Department policies and issues,” she said. “It’s being handled by career investigators and career agents. It will always follow the facts and the law and do the same independent and thorough investigation that they’ve done in all.”

Paul Reid, CBS News Justice reporter, was taking none of Lynches baloney and called it “shocking, absolutely shocking”:

“The most high-profile national security investigation under the attorney general is the investigation into whether or not classified information was mishandled in connection with Hillary Clinton’s server,” Reid told CBSN. “Now, President Clinton and his foundation are also tangentially involved in that investigation, so the appearance of impropriety is just stunning.”

All lawyers are trained to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Worse for Lynch, her meeting with Clinton surely violates the Department of Justice ethics regulations. The Department’s Ethics Handbook requires the Attorney General to avoid the appearance of impropriety:

This Ethics Handbook for On and Off-Duty Conduct summarizes the principal ethics laws and regulations governing the conduct of Department of Justice employees. The purpose of this handbook is to increase your awareness of the ethics rules and their applications, including when you are not in a duty status or are on leave.  We have included citations after each rule and we suggest that you consult the full text of the law or regulation when you have specific questions.

The ethics rules condensed here include the conflict of interest statutes found at 18 USC §§ 202 to 209, Executive Order 12674 on Principles of Ethical Conduct as amended by EO 12731, the Uniform Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch at 5 CFR Part 2635, Department of Justice regulations at 5 CFR Part 3801 that supplement the uniform standards, and additional Department regulations at 28 CFR Part 45, and Executive branch-wide standards of conduct at 5 USC § 735. …

After that introduction the handbook offers 14 General Principles of Ethical Conduct. The most relevant one to this exploding scandal is number 14.

14. Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part.  Whether particular circumstances create an appearance that the law or these standards have been violated shall be determined from the perspective of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts

5 C.F.R 2635.101 (b)

Appearance of  Impropriety

An employee shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that the employee is violating the law or the ethical standards set forth in this part.

5 CFR 2635.101(b)(14)

Seems pretty clear.

Go Easy

Meme shamelessly borrowed from PowerLine.

The post Lynch’s Surreptitious Meeting with Clinton Violates DOJ Ethics Regsappeared first on RedState.

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Trump The Crybaby: Candidates Who Don’t Support Me Shouldn’t Be Able To Run For Office


Have you ever been witness to a nearly 70 year old toddler? That’s Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. The man is an embarrassment. The latest episode is him having temper tantrum about other GOP presidential nominees who have thus far, refused to back him.

From The Hill:

“It was a rough campaign, and I wasn’t nice, but they weren’t nice either,” the presumptive GOP nominee said at a rally in Bangor, Maine.
“Honestly, you sign a pledge, you’re supposed to honor the pledge,” he continued.
Trump called them “really sore losers” and said they only signed the pledge so he would do so as well.
“They broke their word, and in my opinion, they shouldn’t be allowed to run for office again … because what they did is disgraceful.”
Seriously? They “weren’t nice?” What is this, courtesy class?

Here is a video clip:

The real problem however is, Trump once again is being hypocrite. Trump disavowed the pledge back in March:

When asked if he would keep the pledge he signed last September, Trump responded “No, I won’t.” The real estate mogul explained that he was taking back the pledge because, “I have been treated very unfairly,” and listed the Republican National Committee and party establishment among those he believes have wronged him.

This is typical of Trump. And most three year old kids. Trump is the bratty kid who hits the other kids, steals their candy and then wails uncontrollably when one of those other toddlers decides to hit back.

Trump disavowed the pledge. He can’t whine people are refusing to uphold it now.


The post Trump The Crybaby: Candidates Who Don’t Support Me Shouldn’t Be Able To Run For Officeappeared first on RedState.

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