Monday, June 30, 2014

By Stephen Frank, Jun. 27, 2014,

Guv Browns’ recent budget includes over $1.2 billion to implement Common Core. A recent study shows that $12.5 billion is spent yearly on illegal aliens. The budget also takes $5 billion from the classroom, technology, textbooks and facilities to pay for the unsustainable CalSTRS system. In 2012 the voters passed Prop. 30 to give government schools $6 billion a year for seven years. Even with all that, it is never enough for government schools.

Democrat Assemblywoman wants to put on the November ballot a $9 billion bond measure (actual cost is $128 billion, when you include interest). Between pension slush funds to hide corruption and incompetence, Common Core and illegal aliens, California government schools already have more than enough money to fail our children education needs. At what point will the parents and taxpayers of California demand excellence, not unions, as the ruling ideology of schools. Angry yet?

Bi-Partisan School Bond Bill Clears Assembly Floor

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, 5/29/14

Assembly Bill 2235 by Assemblymembers Joan Buchanan (D- Alamo) and Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) to place a school facilities bond on the November 4, 2014 ballot was approved 75-0 on the Assembly Floor yesterday. The bill authorizes a $9 billion general obligation bond that, if approved by voters, will provide $6 billion for the construction and rehabilitation of K-12 schools and $3 billion for higher education facilities.

“The last bond passed in 2006. Funds for the construction and modernization of K-12 and higher education institutions have been depleted for several years, jeopardizing the completion of many local projects. Passing a state bond will ensure that students attend safe and adequate facilities, positively impacting student achievement,” said Buchanan.

State bond funds for K-12 school facilities are administered through the School Facility Program, which requires a 50% local match for construction of new schools and 40% match for the modernization of schools. State bond funds are matched more than 2 to 1 by local bond funds and developer fees. Local communities pass local bonds anticipating the state match.

Assemblymember Curt Hagman added, “I spent a year reviewing the school facilities program, and it has proven to be one of the state’s most successful partnerships. I am pleased that both parties recognize the critical need for a new bond to build and modernize educational facilities. The bond also has the added benefit of aiding our economic recovery by creating tens of thousands of jobs and controlling the once volatile costs imposed on the construction of new residential units to fund school construction.”

The bill has a long list of supporters, including statewide organizations such as the California Chamber of Commerce, the State Building and Construction Trades Council, the California School Boards Association, the California State PTA, the California Building Industry Association, as well as over 30 school districts and county offices of education and over 25 community colleges and districts.

The bill now moves to the California State Senate.

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By Bill Muehlenberg, Jun. 29, 2014,

There is no greater persecution being experienced today than that of Christians. A recent report by the Pew Research Center found that “Christians continue to be the world’s most oppressed religious group, with persecution against them reported in 110 countries.” This should come as no surprise to globally-aware Christians.

Christians have always been the subject of persecution, repression and hatred. But if anything, it seems to be getting worse of late. And the number one reason for such persecution of course is the political ideology of Islam. More Christians are tortured, imprisoned and killed by Muslims than by anyone else. But of course atheist regimes are doing a pretty good job here as well.

The numbers speak for themselves, and are most revealing. Consider as but one example the hellhole that is atheistic North Korea. Most people suffer there big time, but especially the Christians. One short article about recent public executions there is most disturbing:

Tragic news coming from North Korea today. According to South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, as many as 80 people were publicly executed in North Korea this month for minor offenses such as owning a Bible. The alleged “criminals” were put to death in seven cities across North Korea, averaging ten per city. The victims had their heads covered by white bags, were tied to stakes near a stadium, and shot by authorities repeatedly with machine guns. North Korean officials forced a crowd of over 10,000 people, including children, to witness the killings.

“I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were (so) riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterward,” the JoongAng Ilbo source said. The massacre marks the first time during Kim Jong-un’s reign where public executions have taken place, a troubling sign for the future of the totalitarian country. Government officials suggest that the executions were meant to quell the recent spread of capitalism in various cities across North Korea. North Korean law permits executions for conspiring to overthrow the government, treason and terrorism. But the country has also been known to order public executions for minor infractions such as religious activism, cellphone use and stealing food, in an effort to intimidate the public.

Consider also Open Doors International which has released a Top 10 Violence List of countries in which Christians have experienced the most violent persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. It documents just how great a price believers around the world are paying for their faith:

The World Watch Top 10 Violence List, which is based on persecution incidents between Nov. 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014, is topped by Nigeria. The others, in order, are: Syria, Egypt, Central African Republic (CAR), Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, India, Kenya and Iraq.
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By Bruce Urbin, Jun. 18, 2014,
A geography of who's hitting whom in denial of service cyber attacks. The large unknown reflects the difficulty of measuring the threat. / Credit:
The denial of service attack gets few props for novelty in a field that prizes novelty. In a denial of service (DoS) attack, hackers flood a Web site or application with pointless requests that clog or overwhelm network resources and potentially shut it down. DoS is a cudgel, not a lockpick designed to open up sensitive areas. Lately, though, its perpetrators are making up in volume what they’ve lacked in flair.

The chart below shows the biggest DDoS attacks by month, measured in billions of bits (gigabits) per second by security firm Arbor Networks. Most of these are DDoS attacks, the extra D stands for distributed, or originating from multiple computers. The spikes are getting higher, peaking with a 320 Gbps attack in February. That same month Cloudflare tracked a 400 Gbps attack. These are whoppers, people. A single DDoS surge of 100 gigabits per second is enough to disrupt most corporate networks. 300 gigs could flatten one.

Something has changed in the security landscape when you’re seeing spikes like these. Attacks larger than 20 gigabits per second rose eightfold in 2013 compared with 2012. As of April 2014 the Neustar Security Operations Center had already dealt with more than twice as many 100-plus Gbps attacks compared to all of last year. The average DDoS attack has gone up in size but is still in the range of 1 to 5 Gbps.

DoS was always seen as bothersome but not lethal. The cost is in downtime ($1 million/day on average). But security experts say these quick, sharp DDoS attacks are often smokescreening, a diversionary tactic from the main break-in for credit card numbers or other sensitive data. Hackers are also increasingly able to amplify their DDoS attacks by going after vulnerable Internet servers known as NTP or UDP servers that are fooled into thinking the packet is coming from the targeted server so they dutifully spew out vast quantities of responses to a target IP address. Depending on how powerful and networked the vulnerable server is, an attacker with a mere 1 Gbps connection can generate a 200 Gbps DDoS attack.

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Matt Schmitz and Chris Woodyard, Jun. 29, 2014, and USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — When it comes to auto theft, more Californians are asking "Dude, where's my car?"

The Golden State holds nine out of 10 of the nation's "hot spots" when it comes to auto theft, the National Insurance Crime Bureau reports. The top three spots are all in California's less populous farm belt — Bakersfield, Fresno and Modesto.

The San Francisco metro area shows up fourth. Greater Los Angeles didn't make the list.

The only non-California metro area on the Top 10 list is Spokane and Spokane Valley in Washington state at No. 7.

NICB notes that its population-based survey yields per capita theft rates for broad metropolitan statistical areas, so one area won't necessarily rank higher than another just because it has more residents. That's not much comfort for Californians, as their share of the car-theft pie continues to grow each year.

"Although California tends to place high in this report, this is the first time that California has held nine of the top 10 spots for (metro areas) with the highest per capita vehicle theft rates," NICB said in its report. "In 2012, it held eight and in 2011, seven."

Still, if the most recent data available from the FBI covering the first six months of 2013 holds for the balance of the year, the national car-theft rate will re-embark on a downward trend that went unbroken for eight years until a small spike in 2012. Currently, the first half of last year is showing a 3.2% dip and could wind up logging the fewest car thefts since 1967.

Here are the NICB's top 10 car-theft hot spots for 2013, followed by those areas' previous ranks in 2012:

1. Bakersfield, Calif. (3)

2. Fresno, Calif. (2)

3. Modesto, Calif. (1)

4. San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward, Calif. (6)

5. Stockton-Lodi, Calif. (4)

6. Redding, Calif. (10)

7. Spokane-Spokane Valley, Wash. (9)

8. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. (8)

9. San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, Calif. (7)

10. Yuba City, Calif. (31)

Woodyard reported from Los Angeles and Schmitz from Chicago.


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Dr. Susan Berry, Jun. 29, 2014,

A new poll finds that 44 percent of registered voters in California have a negative impression of the Common Core standards compared to 38 percent who say their impression of the nationalized standards is positive.

The 2014 PACE/USC Rossier Poll also showed that nearly half of the voters polled – 47 percent – said they were familiar with the Common Core standards, a substantial increase from the 2013 poll when just 29 percent of voters were familiar with the standards.

Both findings suggest that, as more people become knowledgeable about the Common Core standards, their view of them is increasingly unfavorable.

In addition, as reports, poll participants were also asked to choose between two statements regarding the Common Core. Regarding a statement that California should not implement the standards because they represent a “Washington D.C.-based, one-size-fits-all approach” to education, 41 percent of voters agreed with the statement, while 32 percent said California is right to implement the standards because they prove a “clear, consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn.”

In the 2013 PACE/USC Rossier Poll, only 25 percent were opposed to the Common Core’s “one-size-fits-all approach,” while 36 percent of California voters said their state should implement the standards. This most recent poll, then, indicates a reversal from the prior year’s survey.

The latest poll also found support for Common Core varied widely by age and political party affiliation. Voters aged 65 and older were most negative about the controversial standards, with 51 percent expressing a negative impression and 36 percent having a positive impression.

Among Democrats, 46 percent viewed the Common Core positively, compared to 34 percent who held a negative impression. For those with Republican Party affiliation, 56 percent had a negative impression while 30 percent had a positive view.

“In a strongly Democratic state that has seen relatively few implementation issues, this points to a real messaging problem for advocates of the Common Core,” said Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the USC Rossier School and an expert on the Common Core standards.

The poll was conducted June 19-22 by polling firms MFour Mobile Research and Tulchin Research. The survey’s margin of error for the overall sample was +/- 3.5 percentage points.

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When Bill had an untimely health scare, 
he tried to capitalize on the unfortunate 
circumstances by meticulously planning 
his future funeral to appeal to voters.
Photo: AP / NY Post
By Edward Klein, Jun. 28, 2014,

Edward Klein’s book about the animosity between the Clintons and Obamas, “Blood Feud” (Regnery Publishing), rocketed up the best-seller charts since it was featured in The Post last Sunday. Here, in another exclusive excerpt, Klein ­describes how Bill’s health is a preoccupation of the Clintons. A pair of black, armor-plated SUVs swung into a suburban cul-de-sac and crunched to a stop in the driveway of the Clintons’ home in Chappaqua, New York.

A wall of burly Secret Service agents jumped out and surrounded the man who emerged from the lead vehicle.

It was mid-summer 2013, and Bill Clinton looked shrunken and weary. He was returning from a routine visit with his doctors at New York–Presbyterian Hospital, where he had received some grave news.

His cardiologist, Dr. Allan Schwartz, had given the former president a thorough checkup. The tests showed that there had been a further deterioration in the function of Bill’s heart, Schwartz said. The doctor made the former president promise to cut back on his schedule and get more rest.

Once home, Bill went upstairs to his bedroom and lay down on a daybed. He was exhausted. He used to be a man of many hobbies: He collected old cars and 1950s rock memorabilia, and he loved to watch sports, especially college basketball.

These were his lifelong distractions; they helped him unwind during his downtime.

But now he was uninterested in anything but the 2016 presidential election. It was all he cared about. He was obsessed with it. That and his health.

Later that day, Bill, Hillary, and two of her friends gathered in the converted red barn that served as Bill’s home office. The women drank Chardonnay; Bill favored a Pinot Noir.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hillary Rodham Clinton
By Guy Benson, Jun. 20, 2014,

A brutal-to-read follow up to my Monday post regarding newly-released audio of Hillary Clinton reflecting on a 1975 criminal case in which she represented an accused child rapist whom she believed to be guilty. On the tape, Mrs. Clinton recalls a catastrophic error made by the police, who lost DNA evidence implicating her client -- a man she'd taken on as a client as a favor to a local prosecutor. Court documentsreveal that Clinton took steps to challenge the victim's credibility and emotional stability by requesting a psychological evaluation.* To that end, she cited unsourced representations that the then 12-year-old girl had a history of making baseless allegations of assault (representations that the victim vehemently denies to this day). Clinton also quoted the opinion of an expert who argued that adolescent girls from broken homes are prone to "exaggerate" and "romanticize" sexual behavior." In doing so, Hillary appeared to be maneuvering to tee up an attack-the-victim legal strategy, while potentially calling into question the veracity of an entire class of victims of sexual assault. Critics may wonder how these actions coincide with or impact Clinton's carefully-cultivated image as a champion of women and girls. The audio recordings also capture Hillary chuckling about her efforts to exploit the local authorities' mistake, which ultimately allowed the her client to get off with an extremely reduced sentence on lesser charges. Her laughter over decidedly unfunny developments is strange and off-putting. A legal expert quoted by theWashington Free Beacon, which published the original story, also questioned the ethics of Clinton revealing the results of her client's polygraph test. She told a reporter that the accused man passed the test, which "forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs," a clear indication of Hillary's opinion of her client's guilt. The Free Beacon piece did not quote the victim extensively, saying that the woman (now 52 years old) declined an interview. She did, however, express a "deep and abiding hostility" toward Mrs. Clinton. In the wake of the audio's release, the Daily Beastmanaged to land an interview with the victim, who comes across as a troubled woman who remains furious with Hillary:

In a long, emotional interview with The Daily Beast, she accused Clinton of intentionally lying about her in court documents, going to extraordinary lengths to discredit evidence of the rape, and later callously acknowledging and laughing about her attackers’ guilt on the recordings. “Hillary Clinton took me through Hell,” the victim said. The Daily Beast agreed to withhold her name out of concern for her privacy as a victim of sexual assault. The victim said if she saw Clinton today, she would call her out for what she sees as the hypocrisy of Clinton’s current campaign to fight for women’s rights compared to her actions regarding this rape case so long ago. “I would say [to Clinton], ‘You took a case of mine in ‘75, you lied on me… I realize the truth now, the heart of what you’ve done to me. And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me? And I hear you on tape laughing.”

The victim, who remains anonymous, says Hillary's claims about her supposed history of unfounded accusations were flat-out lies:

The victim vigorously denied Clinton’s accusations and said there has never been any explanation of what Clinton was referring to in that affidavit. She claims she never accused anyone of attacking her before her rape. “I’ve never said that about anyone. I don’t know why she said that. I have never made false allegations. I know she was lying,” she said. “I definitely didn’t see older men. I don’t know why Hillary put that in there and it makes me plumb mad.”

She also says that listening to the clip of Hillary discussing her case reduced her to tears and compelled her to speak out at greater length:

For the victim, the tapes prove that while Clinton was arguing in the affidavit that the victim could have some culpability in her own attack, she actually believed that her client was guilty. Taylor’s light sentence was a miscarriage of justice, the victim said. “It’s proven fact, with all the tapes [now revealed], she lied like a dog on me. I think she was trying to do whatever she could do to make herself look good at the time…. She wanted it to look good, she didn’t care if those guys did it or not,” she said. “Them two guys should have got a lot longer time. I do not think justice was served at all.” “When I heard that tape I was pretty upset, I went back to the room and was talking to my two cousins and I cried a little bit. I ain’t gonna lie, some of this has got me pretty down,” she said. “But I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to stand up to her. I’m going to stand up for what I’ve got to stand up for, you know?”

Based on her experience, the woman does not believe Hillary Clinton would make for an honest president:

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By E21 / Manhattan Institute, Jun. 25, 2014,

U.S. GDP fell by 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Commerce Department'sthird and final estimate. This follows a fourth quarter GDP growth rate of 2.6 percent, slightly above the average over the past three years.

The U.S. economy shrank for the first time since the first quarter of 2011. It was the biggest drop since the first quarter of 2009. Exports declined by 8.9 percent and gross private investment dropped by 11.7 percent. The decrease would have been even larger if federal non-defense government spending had not increased by 5.9 percent.

America can take five common-sense steps to increase economic growth.

Develop energy resources. Since 2008, U.S. oil production has grown nearly 50 percent. This is small compared to the over 400 percent increase in shale gas production from 2007 to 2012 (latest data available).

Yet federal acres leased for oil and gas exploration have decreased by 24 percent over the last 5 years. In 2013, the federal government leased 36 million federal acres compared to 131 million acres in 1984. America should take full advantage of its resources and open up more federal lands for energy exploration, charging royalties that would bring in a stream of revenue to Uncle Sam.

Employment in the oil and gas sectors has increased 40 percent since 2007. Eleven million Americans now work directly and indirectly in the oil and gas industry. Additional permits on federal lands could result in an additional 3 million to 4 million additional jobs from increased U.S. hydrocarbon production, according to Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark Mills.

Implement regulatory reform. Nearly 90,000 new final regulations have been promulgated over the past 20 years, for an average of more than 4,300 each year. The overall negative economic effect of these regulations is $1.9 trillion annually, or 9 percent of GDP, according to estimates by the Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Small businesses and start-up companies are disproportionally harmed by regulations because they cannot afford in-house legal departments. America is discouraging entrepreneurs and start-ups, major contributors to innovation and productivity gains.

In the first quarter of 2014, productivity, measured as output per hour worked, declined at an annual rate of 1.7 percent. After growing at an average of around 2.5 percent per year since 1948, productivity growth has averaged only about 1.1 percent since 2011.

The United States needs to grow itself out of its economic problems, and senseless regulations discourage investment and make growth more difficult.

Eliminate corporate taxes. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. As calculated by the Tax Foundation, America's 35.3 percent effective tax rate on business is more than 6 points higher than the world average. Reforming the corporate tax rate to meet or better the world average is a solid start, but complete elimination of the corporate tax would offer the best results for economic growth. One studyby Boston University professor Laurence Kotlikoff estimated that real wages of American workers would grow by 12 percent if the corporate income tax was abolished.

Despite all the economic damage done by the corporate tax, its benefits are minimal. Less than ten percent of federal tax revenue came from the corporate income tax in 2013, an amount that could be offset by higher economic growth.

Enact comprehensive immigration reform…

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By Mubasher Bukhari, Jun. 27, 2014, Reuters /

LAHORE Pakistan (Reuters) - A young couple in Pakistan were tied up and had their throats slit with scythes after they married for love, police said Saturday.

The 17-year-old girl and 31-year-old man married on June 18 without the consent of their families in eastern Pakistan's Punjabi village of Satrah, police said.

The girl's mother and father lured the couple home late on Thursday with the promise that their marriage would receive a family blessing, said local police official Rana Zashid.

"When the couple reached there, they tied them with ropes," he said. "He (the girl's father) cut their throats."

Police arrested the family, who said they had been embarrassed by the marriage of their daughter, named Muafia Hussein, to a man from a less important tribe.

Cultural traditions in many areas of Pakistan mean that killing a woman whose behavior is seen as immodest is widely accepted.

Immodest behavior that sparked recent killings included singing, looking out of the window or talking to a man who is not a relative. For a woman to marry a man of her own choice is considered an unacceptable insult by many families.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 869 so-called "honor killings" were reported in the media last year - several a day. But the true figure is probably much higher since many cases are never reported.

The weak Pakistani government, battling with a troubled economy and a Taliban insurgency, does not collect centralized statistics and has no strategy to combat the killings.

Pakistani law means that even if a woman's killer is convicted, her family are able to forgive the killer.

Many families simply nominate a member to do the killing, then formally forgive the killer.

That's what happened earlier this week, a lawyer said, when a tribal council in central Pakistan's Muzaffargarh district sentenced another young couple to death for marrying for love.

The couple's lawyer, Zia Kiyyani, said the two had appealed for police protection after their marriage on June 21, but had not received any.

The 19-year-old girl's family came to take her from her husband's family, swearing on the Koran that they would not harm her and would hold a proper wedding ceremony, he said.

"During this the girl shouted, cried and mourned for her life and her husband's life because she knew that they will kill both of them," he said.

The girl, named Mehreen Bibi, was shot by a member of her family when she returned home, police said. Her husband went into hiding and her father registered the murder complaint so he could forgive the killer, Kiyyani said.

"That will end the case," he said.

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 Professor Gene Nichol 
By Lauren Cooley, Jun. 27, 2014,

UNC law professor’s holdings include $1.5M in real estate, and meanwhile he chastises Republicans for their ‘unforgivable war on poor people’

A controversial, outspoken law professor who frequently bashes Republicans and specializes in poverty issues as a self-proclaimed champion of the poor earns $205,400 per year – for teaching one class per semester.

The University of North Carolina School of Law pays Professor Gene Nichol $205,400 annually for his one class per semester workload. On top of his teaching salary, he receives a $7,500 stipend as director of the law school’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

The News & Observer maintains a public database of public employee and educator salaries, and lists Nichol’s salary at $212,900. Nichol, in an email to The College Fix, confirmed the figure is accurate.

Nichol is slated to teach federal jurisdiction this fall and constitutional law in spring 2015.

He told The College Fix there is nothing unusual about his compensation.

“I’m a full time faculty member – doing all the varied things faculty members do,” he stated. “That’s the basis for the salary you quote. Beyond that, I’m paid $7,500 to run the poverty center – the same as all the other law school center directors.”

When asked about his compensation compared to other law professors, Nichol said: “Several make a good deal more than I do at Carolina, some make less.”

The News & Observer lists the UNC Distinguished Professor of Law Thomas Lee Hazen’s salary at $222,000. However, he is slated to teach four classes this fall, and two in the spring. UNC Distinguished Professor of Law Sarah Elizabeth Gibson earns $200,000 annually, and has a similar workload to Nichol at one class per semester.

Assistant and associate professors at the UNC School of Law tend to earn about $130,000 annually, according to the News & Observer database. Their work load ranges from one class per semester up to four.

As for Nichol, in the past he served as president of the College of William and Mary from 2005 to 2008, that is, until his contract was not renewed following a string of controversies.

Among them, he allowed a sex workers’ art show on campus and removed a cross from permanent display in the chapel of the historic Christopher Wren building, citing the facility’s use for secular events.

Prior to that, Nichol was the dean of UNC’s law school from 1999 to 2005.

Today at UNC, Nichol runs the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, which was founded by the now-disgraced Democrat John Edwards. The center is a self-proclaimed non-partisan, interdisciplinary institute that aims to study and mitigate poverty in North Carolina and the nation.

In his leadership role there, Nichol is known to use inflammatory political rhetoric.

For example, on the center’s website he writes that “the scourge of debilitating poverty is the largest problem faced by the people of North Carolina – even if our political leaders ignore it, or declare, with a breathtaking stupidity, that it doesn’t exist.” North Carolina has a Republican-controlled majority of lawmakers.

Yet while Nichol champions the poor – even chastising Republicans in a March News & Observer op-ed for its “unforgivable war on poor people” – it’s unclear how well he can relate to those living in poverty.

His wife, chief of staff for the UNC Health Care System and the UNC School of Medicine, earns $407,000 annually. Combining his and his wife’s salary, the couple makes at least $612,000 per year.

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ISIL militants capture a tank
By Bill Gertz, Jun. 27, 2014,

A Syrian rebel group closely aligned with al Qaeda’s official central leadership has switched sides and is now supporting an ultra-violent offshoot, following the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’s blitzkrieg attack on Iraq, according to U.S. officials and reports from the region.

A local unit of the Al Nusra Front—the official rebel group of al Qaeda in Syria—agreed to back the ISIL on Wednesday.

The merger of one portion of al Nusra with ISIL is being viewed by government intelligence analysts and others as a troubling indicator that the inner battle between the two groups may be shifting in ISIL’s favor.

Sebastian Gorka, a counterterrorism specialist and military theorist at the Marine Corps University, said the defection of the Nusra group to ISIL, also known as ISIS, is very significant.

“ISIS and al Nusra have fought each other in the past,” Gorka said. Nusra’s swearing loyalty to ISIL “is a clear sign that ISIS is now more important than the original al Qaeda,” he said.

“With this act, in theory all al Nusra territory is now under ISIS control,” Gorka said. “This makes the de facto establishment of a proto-caliphate territory straddling Iraq and Syria a real possibility and underlines the absurdity of the Obama administration’s push to fund and train the rebels in Syria.”

President Obama acknowledged Thursday that ISIL attacks in Iraq are one sign that, contrary to his earlier remarks, international terrorists are gaining strength.

“They’re gaining strength in some places, but we’ve also got a lot better at protecting ourselves,” Obama told ABC News.

Obama campaigned for reelection in 2012 declaring al Qaeda was on the “path to defeat” and asserting the United States would end the war on terrorism launched after the 2001 attacks.

ISIL, a fanatical terrorist group led by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, now controls large sections of central Iraq. The group has declared that its goal is the creation of an Islamic caliphate throughout the region.

It initially set up al Nusra but broke off ties in February. Its numbers are not known, but estimates range from 5,000 to 10,000 fighters.

The Nusra-ISIL joining took place June 25 at the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal, a central location on ISIL’s link between its forces in Syria and Iraq.

The merger also is a boost to ISIL’s efforts to gain control of eastern Syria, an area that has seen widespread fighting between the two al Qaeda-linked groups.

ISIL is continuing to move captured weapons and military vehicles from Iraq to Syria following the military operation against central Iraq that began in early June.

The ISIL, an ultra-violent Islamist group that has conducted mass executions and beheadings while imposing Islamic law, is using its newfound power to gain greater support in both Syria and Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

The group is seeking to create an Islamic state throughout the region that would impose harsh Sharia law. Al Qaeda central has sought to take a slightly less extreme stance as a way to attract more supporters. Both groups are designated foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department.

The Britain-based Syrian opposition figure Rami Abdulrahman told reporters June 25 that the Nusra group in Albu Kamal had “pledged loyalty” to ISIL.

“They are rivals, but both groups are jihadist and extremists,” he said. “This move will create tension now with other rebel groups, including Islamists, in the area.”

ISIL also posted a photo on one of its short-lived Twitter accounts showing the commander of the local Nusra Front group shaking hands with an ISIL leader.

Syrian airstrikes against ISIL positions along the Iraqi border were carried out this week in an effort to try and weaken the group.

Bill Roggio, a terrorism analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said there is no question that the ISIL incursion into Iraq, and its subsequent gains of both territory and equipment, have helped it gain traction among jihadists throughout the region.

However, Roggio cautioned that the gains in support made by ISIL from its lightning strikes in Iraq has not altered the fundamental divide between the group and central al Qaeda.

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Lois G. Lerner / AP
By Rachel Bade, Jun. 27, 2014,

Lois Lerner has no records of two years of missing emails and Republican claims that she’s hiding something are “silly,” her lawyer said in his first interview since the controversy around the former IRS official erupted two weeks ago.

“She doesn’t know what happened,” lawyer William Taylor III said of the 2011 computer crash that erased two years worth of Lerner’s correspondence. “It’s a little brazen to think she did this on purpose.”

The IRS two weeks ago told congressional investigators probing the tea party targeting that the former head of the tax-exempt division’s emails from 2009 through mid-2011 were lost when her hard drive buckled. The time period encompasses the first year IRS agents in Cincinnati began pulling tea party applicants for a closer look.

That news revived a firestorm among Republicans in Congress, who are incredulous that technology cannot bring the emails back and accuse IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of lying. Democrats point out that no evidence suggests the computer crash was intentional and accuse Republicans of fanning flames of a dying controversy.

Lerner has been silent for more than a year, pleading the Fifth on Capitol Hill and speaking only through her lawyer episodically. The interview marks their first detailed response since the scandal was reignited and suggests Lerner’s camp is going to keep fighting.

“This is a so-called congressional investigation with no pretense of objectivity or bipartisanship,” Taylor said. “Critics of Ms. Lerner and the IRS seize indiscriminately on small pieces of fact to claim they prove scandal.”

The interview covered a number of questions raised in recent weeks, from claims that Lerner targeted GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley to accusations she was in cahoots with the Justice Department. Taylor also revealed that Lerner did not print official emails or have any saved on a backup computer — the former being something Republicans will seize on to say she broke record-keeping law.

Lerner’s admission at a May 2013 tax conference that the IRS had been singling out applications for tax-exempt status using terms such as “tea party,” followed by a critical inspector general report days later, set off the original storm. The groups in question were seeking status as a social welfare organization, or a 501(c)(4) that is allowed to engage in a limited amount of political activity.

Here are her lawyer’s answers to top questions:

The computer crash.

It was an accident, said Taylor, a founding partner of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP: “She didn’t have anything to do with the destruction of her computer.”

Lerner came to work one day in late spring 2011 and was surprised to flick on her computer to find a “blue screen,” he said. He said she tried to get it fixed since her practice of archiving was to simply save things on her computer. Democrats have released emails showing Lerner contacting the IRS IT department to show she tried to resolve the problem.

She never backed them up on a USB or separate hard drive, he said, ruling out a line of questioning posed by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) about whether Lerner could have the emails stored elsewhere on a portable device.

Republicans say it’s no coincidence that just 10 days before the crash, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) had sent his first letter to the IRS about 501(c)(4) political activities and donors.

Oversight Republicans this week interrogated Koskinen about whether the agency at the time of the crash reached into its stash of six-month backup tapes to restore the emails. Koskinen said he wasn’t aware if they tried.

Taylor didn’t know about that option either, saying Lerner simply filled out an IT ticket “like any other IRS employee” with a problem, and when they told her they couldn’t salvage the hard drive and mentioned a more “expensive” alternative, she gave them the green light to pursue that option, he said.

“She requested that IT use every possible resource. Unfortunately, the sophisticated alternative was not able to retrieve the contents of her hard drive,” he said.

Koskinen this week said that the IRS even sent Lerner’s computer to its criminal investigators, who were also unable to get anything back.

The Grassley invite referral...

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By Deroy Murdock, Jun. 27, 2014,

To paraphrase the old Meat Loaf song, “One out of three ain’t bad.” That’s as much consolation as Americans can take from the behavior of the three main broadcast networks over the last two nights.

Wednesday morning brought the disturbing news that the U.S. economy had cratered to a -2.9 percent GDP growth rate in 1Q 2014. This was the worst GDP report in five years. Clearly this was big news.

Well, evidently not big enough for ABC’s World News Tonight nor NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams. Between them, neither broadcast uttered a syllable about this vital matter on Wednesday night.

To its credit, Wednesday’s CBS Evening News aired a full story on this downer. “The U.S. economy was in worse shape at the beginning of the year than we thought,” said anchor Scott Pelley as he introduced correspondent Anthony Mason’s detailed analysis.

Meanwhile, NBC discussed America’s efforts at the World Cup soccer tournament and gave a brief preview of Matt Lauer’s interview with Pippa Middleton, the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge. But Nightly News could not spare a moment to mention the growth gap into which America has tumbled.

“The U.S. economy is $1.6 trillion smaller than what an average recovery over the last 50 years would have generated,” Representative Kevin Brady (R., Texas), chairman of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, said in a statement. “Since the recession ended in June 2009, the cumulative loss in output has been $4.0 trillion compared with an average recovery. This lackluster performance explains why a family of four is missing more $1,100 in after-tax income and why there are 5.8 million fewer private payroll jobs compared with an average recovery.”

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By Carl M. Cannon, June 27, 2014,

Irritating phrases and words are not confined to political circles, or solely to Washington, although here in the nation’s capital they burrow in and proliferate like obsolete, but entrenched, government programs. This is a call to arms to fight them—but only metaphorically.

15: “WAR ON [FILL IN THE BLANK]” Syria’s civil war has produced 2.5 million refugees and a death toll of 160,000, a tragedy that has galvanized neither major political party into action. So next time a Democrat brays about the so-called Republican “war on women” or a Republican trumpets the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” tell them you’ve seen what real war looks like—and ask what the U.S. can do to stop it.

14. “TAX HIKE” It’s not a “hike.” What are you going to do, put it in a knapsack and take it for a walk? It’s a tax increase. This usage was coined by headline writers because it’s shorter. Speaker of the House John Boehner, who often employs this phrase, has no such excuse.

13. “RIGHT-WING” This term is bandied about carelessly, usually as a pejorative. In “The Devil’s Dictionary,” Ambrose Bierce defined “conservative.” Here is the entry, in its entirety: “CONSERVATIVE, n. a statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.” The converse of “right-wing,” a label freely applied to Fox News and countless Republican elected officials, is not “liberal,” it’s “left wing.”

12. “FRANKLY” Rhett Butler made this word famous, but when politicians preface their remarks with “frankly” (or “candidly”), they don’t give a damn about being frank or candid. Usually, it means they’re about to tell a whopper—or recite a talking point. Listen for this usage from now on. It’s a self-administered lie detector.

11. “TALKING POINTS” Pols who recite self-serving spin written by others while answering basic questions about their jobs are essentially reading the stage directions. It suggests they are too lazy to invent their own fibs or excuses—or that they work for control freaks who don’t trust them to know their own subject matter. This is a discordant trait in a high-ranking official, such as U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice or anyone who attended top-notch schools, which also fits Rice. She was a history major at Stanford and a Rhodes scholar with a master’s degree and a doctorate from Oxford.

10. “DOCTOR” In the White House compound and certain media precincts, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden is referred to as “Dr. Biden,” usually in reverential tones. This is understandable—who wants to be called “the second lady”? But, like Susan Rice, Jill Biden has a PhD, not a medical degree. It was also a secret password in the Bush administration to affix “Dr.” in front of another foreign policy official surnamed Rice. Susan Rice, Condoleezza Rice, and Jill Biden are accomplished people, but the old-time newsroom rule is best: If someone isn’t licensed to take your tonsils out, you don’t have to call ’em “Doc.”

9. “LOOK…” Almost as soon as he arrived in Washington, Barack Obama adopted the off-putting Sunday talk show habit—used promiscuously by Karl Rove—of starting sentences with the word “Look.” Two months after his inauguration, things got so bad that Jimmy Fallon sought to discourage its proliferation by producing a montage, set to music, of Obama saying “Look…” 26 times in an hour-long news conference. To a layman, it sounds like Obama is really saying, “Look here, moron…” But two UCLA professors told Anya Sostek of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that this preamble isn’t as patronizing as it sounds. Manny Schegloff says Obama is signaling that he’s about to provide background information as part of his answer that informs his policy position. His colleague Steven Clayman adds that Ronald Reagan often began answers to questions with the word, “Well”—as a way of preparing listeners for a different answer than they might expect. Or so say Dr. Clayman and Dr. Schegloff.

8. “PARTY OF REAGAN” Nothing unites Republicans more than their professed love of the Gipper. But do they really get him? When Sarah Palin invokes Reagan’s name while railing against immigrants, or hawkish GOP senators agitate for another U.S. military intervention, or state Sen. Chris McDaniel chides Thad Cochran for urging Democrats to cross party lines and vote in a GOP primary in Mississippi, they’re not channeling the Gipper. They are displaying amnesia. The operative phrase, Sen. McDaniel, was “Reagan Democrats.”

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By Fox News, Jun. 27, 2014,

An industry group is claiming the IRS should have kept full records of its apparent destruction of ex-official Lois Lerner's hard drive, saying "the notion that these emails just magically vanished makes no sense whatsoever."

The latest to weigh in on the lost emails controversy is the head of the International Association of Information Technology Asset Managers. Group president Barbara Rembiesa released a statement on Thursday questioning recent testimony by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who told Congress last Friday that Lerner's hard drive was "recycled and destroyed" after it crashed in 2011.

She claimed that a certified "IT asset destruction" team should have been brought in to document and complete that process.

"If this was done, there would be records. If this was not done, this is the smoking gun that proves the drive or drives were destroyed improperly -- or not at all," she said.

Rembiesa adds her voice to a growing list of industry experts dubious about agency claims that Lerner's emails disappeared after a hard-drive crash in 2011.

Lerner is the former head of the Exempt Organizations division, and is at the heart of the controversy over agency targeting of Tea Party groups. After the IRS revealed earlier this month that many of her emails from 2009 to 2011 were gone, outraged Republicans arranged a rapid-fire string of hearings on the matter -- and on the sidelines, some computer experts backed up their suspicions.

The IRS, though, insists this was simply a case of a routine computer failure -- one of thousands across the federal government. Koskinen testified on the matter twice since last week, stressing that despite the computer problems, the agency was able to recover 67,000 Lerner emails, including 24,000 from other accounts, from January 2009 to May 2013.

"It's not unusual for computers anywhere to fail, especially at the IRS in light of the aged equipment IRS employees often have to use," Koskinen testified Monday, claiming over 2,000 agency workers had hard-drive crashes so far this year.

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United States Supreme Court
By Rob Garver, Jun. 27, 2014,

In a combative speech Friday morning, President Obama made clear that a rebuke from the Supreme Court this week was not going to stop him from trying to work around a gridlocked Congress as he tries to implement his agenda.

He even took a moment to indirectly mock House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who this week threatened to sue Obama over his use of executive orders to enact policy changes.

Related: Tipping Point – America’s Government Is Now Broken

The remarks on Friday were especially significant, coming as they did just a day after the Supreme Court ruled that Obama had violated the Constitution by appointing members to the National Labor Relations Board during a three-day congressional recess. In his remarks, the president made clear he is not only unrepentant about his use of executive orders – he’s prepared to keep moving in the same direction.

“I’m not going to let gridlock, and inaction, and willful indifference, and greed, threaten the hard work of families like yours,” the president told a supportive crowd on the shore of Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. “We can’t afford to wait for Congress right now. That’s why I’m going ahead and moving without them wherever I can.”

Rattling off a series of executive orders, including an increase in the minimum wage for federal contractors, a cap on student loan payments, and more, he contrasted the White House’s action with the relative inaction of the legislative branch.

Related: Boehner v. Obama Case Might Never Get to Court

“Now Republicans are mad at me for taking these actions. They’re not doing anything, and then they’re mad that I’m doing something,” Obama said. “I’m not sure which of the things I’ve done they find the most offensive, but they’ve decided they’re going to sue me for doing my job.”

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 Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
By Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Vice Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Jun. 26, 2014

Dear Mr. President:

My apologies for missing your commencement address at the University of California at Irvine, honoring the 50th anniversary of one of our fine academic institutions. Meetings with my constituents just seemed more pressing, and, of course, we can meet back in Washington whenever it’s convenient for you.

In any case, between fundraisers and enjoying the “Zot! Zot! Zot!” chants of the graduating Anteaters, the questions I have raised about your “green” agenda clearly were on your mind. You evidently determined that ridiculing those, like me, who question your “settled” science would be the best way to make your case.

To the laughing grads, you said: “And today’s Congress is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change. They will tell you it is a hoax, or a fad. There was one member of Congress who mentioned a theory involving ‘dinosaur flatulence’ — which I won’t get into.”

Mr. President, we both know I have referred to the theory of man-made global warming as a “hoax,” and, yes, I once used to the phrase “dinosaur flatulence” as a soft jab at what I considered to be climate alarmism.

What I have learned is never to underestimate humorless zealots, especially those cloaked in the pretensions of “science.” My little attempt at lighthearted ridicule was reported and endlessly repeated as though it is something I seriously believe.

The continuing misrepresentation of my humor underscores my observation that global-warming alarmists misrepresent what they portray as facts. One of the traits of a fanatic is the willingness to conduct personal attacks, to limit debate, to use questionable facts and to seek government to impose policy on others.

Sir, my congressional colleagues and I cannot ignore costs when making decisions. Simply put, no matter how apocalyptic the theory behind it, we cannot make this crony-capitalist concoction of yours into a policy priority.

We’re also obliged to hold in check the coercive ambitions of a science-government complex, that with research grants, regulatory overreach and legislative conceit that corrals scientists into acquiescence and conformity.

That complex corrupts scientific method itself. When one of your top EPA administrators came before the Science, Space and Technology Committee, I asked her about the much-heralded claim that “97 percent” of scientists form a global-warming “consensus” — consensus being historically antithetical to scientific inquiry itself.

Her stammered answer would have made any U.C. Irvine student blush, as would any such feeble research. Did anyone ever ask 97 percent of the world’s scientists? Seriously?

It turns out, the sampling that led to this preposterous 97 percent claim was a questionnaire of scientists predisposed to agree. Tautologies are commonplace in politics, but this kind of methodology has no place in academia. And those charged with regulating us should be disqualified when they resort to them.

This dodge, Mr. President, was repeated when I asked the same question to the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as your own science adviser, John Holdren. None would defend the claim that 97 percent of all scientists support the theory of man-made global warming.

Moreover, reported land-based, near-surface temperatures have not increased in the past 17 years. Not one of the more than 70 different climate models predicted such a pause.

Meanwhile, analyses and studies that disagree with the predetermined intergovernmental outcome, such as the recent study showing that Antarctic glacier melt is a result of volcanoes, are ignored by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and by your administration.

Despite our current severe conditions in California, there is less global drought now than “average.” All climate models predict a wetter California in a warming world, not a drier one.

No aspect of the weather or climate currently being blamed on people is outside our planet’s recent natural variability. The same cannot be said for your suggested increases in America’s regulatory burden.

Current, credible calculations show that under the EPA’s carbon-dioxide mandates, by 2100, 19 million jobs will be lost and more than $4 trillion in U.S. tax dollars spent just to achieve a reduction in average temperatures of 0.032 degrees Fahrenheit.

That breaks down to 224,000 lost jobs every year (a bleak scenario for the graduates you addressed), a cost of an additional $51 billion annually, and $3,400 in higher energy costs to the average American family just to achieve a pointless reduction in warming — a warming that has not shown its face in 17 years.

Mr. President, the word “hoax” does begin to define what you just tried to pass off on our university graduates.


Yours faithfully,

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher,

48th District, California

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Friday, June 27, 2014

By Derek Thompson, Dec. 10, 2014,

Despite the dramatic changes in gender norms in the last few decades, there is one domain where men have steadfastly refused to make tremendous gains: Chores. Wives who are primary breadwinner in the house? Hardly unusual. Husbands who are passionate closet-organizers? Rarer specimens.

This might not be a problem requiring a national solution, but Stephen Marche writing in the New York Times, has one anyway. "The only possible solution to the housework discrepancy is for everyone to do a lot less of it," he writes.

Hm, maybe. But also, how convenient. Wives want cleaner homes; husbands don't. And the "only possible" compromise solution is that the guys get exactly what they want?

This is the third article I've read on the subject of men and housework, afterJon Chait (asking women to embrace the dust) and Jessica Grose (asking men to embrace the duster). Without trying to sound like a cop out, I'll just say that I have no idea how all 120 million married couples should divide their responsibilities. But here are three facts about housework and married couples that should probably drive the discussion:

1. There's less and less housework to do: The amount of housework has declined by 23 percent in the last half century, according to the American Time Use Survey, which is the gold standard for measuring how we spend our days. Some of this decline might be dirtier houses. Much of it is new technologies, like better washer dryers and vacuums, that save time.

2. Men do more of it than they used to: They've more than doubled their share of housework since the 1960s.

3. But women still do most of it: 18 hours a week for mothers vs. 10 hours a week for fathers in the 2011 ATUS.

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