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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Israel, Hamas agree to 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire

Israel and Hamas agreed Thursday to an unconditional, 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza conflict, set to begin Friday, the United States and United Nations said.
The cease-fire was scheduled to commence at 8 am local time on Friday, and is expected to last for a period of 72 hours unless it's extended, the State Department said in a statement. Military forces will be expected to stay in place during the cease-fire.
In a joint statement, the U.S. and U.N. said they had gotten assurances that all parties to the conflict had agreed to the halt in hostilities.
"This cease-fire is critical to giving innocent civilians a much-needed reprieve from violence," the State Department said in its statement. "During this period, civilians in Gaza will receive  urgently needed humanitarian relief, and the opportunity to carry out vital functions, including burying the dead, taking care of the injured, and restocking food supplies. Overdue repairs on essential water and energy infrastructure could also continue during this period."
Israeli and Palestinian delegations will "immediately" be going to Cairo for negotiations with the Egyptian government to try at reach a more permanent cease-fire, the statement said.
The statement was released in New Delhi, where Secretary of State John Kerry is now meeting with Indian officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

House GOP pulls border bill

By Robert Costa and Paul Kane

House Republican leaders pulled Speaker John A. Boehner’s slimmed-down legislation to address the brewing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border rather than see it defeated, amid a conservative revolt that the $659 million proposal did not address the core issues.
Faced with certain defeat, Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the legislation from consideration Thursday afternoon, according to guidance from leadership advisers. With more than 20 House conservatives opposed, Boehner did not have enough votes from his own Republican ranks because virtually all Democrats opposed the legislation.
The resulting lack of action would end the congressional summer session in a familiar legislative failure, as the House and Senate are poised to leave town for a five-week break and prepare for the fall elections with voters holding record levels of disgust for Congress.
With almost no Democratic support, Boehner needed to corral votes virtually entirely from within his own Republican caucus, and he faced a group of House conservatives who worked hand-in-hand with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in plotting their strategy to bring down the legislation in pursuit of a more purely conservative approach.
During a vote on an unrelated bill, a wild scene erupted on the House floor as a pack of moderate and "establishment" Republican members lashed out at Boehner and newly minted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), demanding that they not leave town without voting on immigration legislation. In response, Boehner and McCarthy called an emergency 3 p.m. closed-door meeting to discuss a potential way forward.
Democrats blamed Boehner for chasing after conservative votes for the border bill that were never going to materialize, after he initially proposed a more robust $1.5 billion plan that likely would have drawn some Democratic votes. Instead, as conservatives balked at that price tag, GOP leaders shrank the bill in an effort to grow the Republican vote – while losing Democrats.
“The worse the bill, the more votes on the Republican side,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in the closing minutes of the debate.
The pulling of the bill marked an embarrassing failure in the first real test of the new leadership team that takes office Thursday following Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor’s resignation as majority leader.
Emerging from his office off the House floor shortly after the decision was announced, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was "disappointed" as he conceded that support quickly eroded Thursday.
"We've got a caucus of widely disparate views. It never really gelled," he said, adding that just "a few" Democrats were expected to help Republicans pass the bill.
Despite the setback, Rogers sought to immediately deflect attention and political pressure back onto President Obama.
"I think this will put a lot more pressure on the president to act," Rogers said. "In many ways, it was his actions and inactions that caused the crisis on the border, and we attempted in this bill to help remedy this crisis. He has the authority and power to solve the problem forthwith."
Rogers said Obama should use his power "in a responsible way." When pressed to specify what those powers would be, he said: "It's stopping the inflow. He can do that just by his word, to announce that the policies he's had in the past are rescinded and he's not going to let these people in. Be more forceful; I don't think it's a matter of money, it's a matter of sending the message out there."
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.), who lives in a Republican-leaning district with a growing Hispanic population, said that failing to vote on a solution to the border crisis "would be inappropriate." He said he had planned to vote for both measures GOP leaders had planned to vote on Thursday afternoon.
"We could craft a bill that would do more damage, but both of the bills on the floor earlier were helpful to solving the problem," he added.
"I'm going to have some 'splaining to do" if nothing is passed, he added. "Hopefully, I'll have some good news for the constituents. I have a week's worth of town hall meetings starting Monday afternoon and I'd sure like to bring some good news with me."
Another Texas conservative, Rep. Joe Barton (R), said he also had planned to vote for the bills.
"I don't think it helps us" to not take up the legislation before leaving, he said. "I thought this package could pass the House. I think it would be a positive in my district. It certainly helps, it's better than current law, it's better than the current situation. I'm surprised we didn't have the votes."
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a key leadership ally, was among those infuriated by the developments. A frequent critic of colleagues and super PACs seeking to flout leadership, he didn't hold back: "Anytime the groups come out and start to score these issues, then senators get involved and have meetings and sing kumbaya and stop the process," he said.
Nunes added that the impasse had less to do with the new GOP leadership team put in place Thursday after the departure of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and reflected more on the continued influence of outside political forces. In a sign that the bills could pass, he said that several members of what he called "The Exotic Club" of members who regularly buck leadership planned to vote for the border bills.
"This is not about conservatives or establishment or anything. There's just people around here who want to vote no," he said.
The House Republican border measure would have made it easier for the U.S. government to deport Central American minors who have entered the United States illegally and provided $659 million in additional funding to federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year. The funding was significantly less than the $3.7 billion that Obama requested and less than the $1.5 billion initially floated by Boehner and his allies this month.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement Thursday ahead of the planned votes, criticizing House Republicans for including a DACA vote as part of their legislative offering.
“It is extraordinary that the House of Representatives, after failing for more than a year to reform our broken immigration reform system, would vote to restrict a law enforcement tool that the Department of Homeland Security uses to focus resources on key enforcement priorities like public safety and border security, and provide temporary relief from deportation for people who are low priorities for removal,” Earnest said.
Ed O’Keefe and David Nakamura contributed to this report.

Is Social Mobility a Myth?

The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, Gregory Clark

Most people intuit that coming from the “right sort” of family is a big advantage in life, while being from the “wrong side of the tracks” is a serious disability. And they suspect that these advantages and disadvantages persist, as demonstrated by the continuing prominence of, say, people whose ancestors “came over on the Mayflower” among the upper crust in America.
The difficulty with this intuitive understanding is that social-science research does not seem to back it up. Psychologists, sociologists, and economists have found rates of social mobility that ought to wipe out all familial advantage or disadvantage within three to five generations. Furthermore, the rates of social mobility found in most of these studies differed greatly from one country to another, with, for instance, Sweden scoring much higher than the United States in this regard.
So is this belief in the persistence of familial advantage just a popular delusion? That is the question that U.C. Davis economist Gregory Clark takes up in his new book, and the answer he found surprised even him. He set out thinking the social-science consensus was correct, intending only to extend those findings further into the past. But the evidence changed his mind: social scientists have been measuring mobility the wrong way, and in fact the popular intuition is on target.
The key to understanding Clark’s thesis is his division of the factors that make for success in worldly affairs into an inherited component and a random component. (“Inherited” here need not mean “genetic”: one could inherit, for instance, one’s family’s reputation.) Most previous studies have focused on movements in social class from one generation to the next. But as Clark explains using his two-factor model, such a limited time frame means that the random component of social achievement is going to have an undue influence. This is not an esoteric notion: think, for instance, of a member of a high-achievement family who suffers a terrible car accident as a youth, leaving him with severe brain damage. It is quite likely that whether measured by income, profession, or educational level, that member will do significantly worse than the family average.
But this accident will not change the family’s basic “social competency” (Clark’s term). If the injured son has children, they will not inherit his brain damage. Their level of achievement will tend to return toward the family baseline. So, Clark suggests, if we really want to measure social mobility, we should look at the social status of families over many generations.
The way he and his team of researchers did so is ingenious: they found relatively rare surnames primarily associated with high social standing, such as the names taken by the nobility in Sweden, or low social standing, such as names characteristic of the Travellers in England, and tracked their appearance in historical records showing elite status, such as admissions to top universities—for Oxford and Cambridge, we have data dating back 800 years—large estates bequeathed in probate, or presence in high-status professions such as law and medicine.
The results confirm that the popular intuition has been correct all along:
The intergenerational correlation in all the societies for which we construct surname estimates—medieval England, modern England, the United States, India, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Chile, and even egalitarian Sweden—is … much higher than conventionally estimated.  Social status is inherited as strongly as any biological trait, such as height.
What’s more, it matters little what social policies are put in place: Clark and his team find that social mobility remains nearly constant over time despite the arrival of free public education, the reduction of nepotism in government, modern economic growth, the expansion of the franchise, and redistributive taxation.
Clark introduces us to the reality of this persistence of status with a few notable examples. For instance, the family of famed diarist Samuel Pepys has had high social status from 1500 until today, while that of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, apparently has been upper crust since the Domesday Book of 1086. And in noting the many prominent members of the Darwin family, he remarks, “It is also interesting that Darwin’s fourth-generation descendants include Adrian Maynard Keynes and William Huxley Darwin.” The elite tend to marry the elite.
But if such isolated examples were the crux of Clark’s case, it would be a rather flimsy one: even if the standard social science take on mobility were correct, we would expect to find notable exceptions to the general rule. His main backing for his thesis is a number of studies conducted across many countries and many centuries. Nevertheless the anecdotes are an important aspect of this work: they are a component of how Clark continually turns what could have been an extremely dry executive summary of a number of demographic surveys into a consistently engaging book.
While I am no expert on the literature concerning social mobility, it seems to me that Clark has backed his thesis with very significant and relevant data. But I would want to see responses from those defending the more traditional social-science view on social mobility before unconditionally awarding the victory to Clark.
One way in which Clark gauges the social status of an ethnic group is to see how the proportion of doctors in the group compares to the proportion in the population as a whole. This measure is not flawless: in the case of Filipinos, I think it must overstate their status, as they seem to be a people that just love the medical professions. (Having married a Filipina, I have found that roughly 80 percent of my in-laws are doctors or nurses.) But it is a good rough gauge nonetheless. Clark uses this gauge to evaluate the elite status of various ethnic groups by looking at the surnames of registered physicians in America. Which ethnicities top the charts of U.S. doctors?
Here they are, starting with a group that produces physicians at 13 times the national average: 1) Coptic Egyptians, 2) Indian Hindus (about 12 times the average), 3) Indian Christians, 4) Iranian Muslims, 5) Lebanese Christians, 6) Ashkenazi Jews, 7) Sephardic Jews, 8) Koreans, 9) Chinese, 10) Filipinos, 11) black Africans (we’ve reached about four times the average here), 12) Greeks, 13) Armenians, 14) Japanese, 15) Vietnamese, 16) black Haitians.
So, what do we find among the top 16 doctor-producing groups in the United States? No European Protestant group. This calls into question the notion of “white privilege”: being a physician is a high-income, high-status profession. If white privilege is a significant social force, why doesn’t a single European-Protestant ethnicity appear among this top 16? Why do our populations of black Africans and black Haitians produce doctors at significantly higher rates than Dutch-Americans, Swedish-Americans, or Finnish-Americans, all groups that make up a low enough percentage of our population that they cannot be said to constitute the average merely by their numerical preponderance? Clark does not try to deny that many white Americans harbor prejudice against non-whites. But this prejudice, however real, apparently is not preventing many non-white ethnic groups from achieving high social status.
And if white privilege is really a major force in the United States, what are we to make of the persistently low social status of French Canadian immigrants, a group of people that is, after all, pretty darned white, and many of whom have been in the States for a couple of centuries? (I had no idea this low social status was even the case before reading Clark’s book. Did you?) Clark explains this fact as being due to a double-selection for low social achievement: the initial population of French Canada came primarily from the lower-status population of France, and then it was chiefly lower-status QuĂ©becois who emigrated to America. Americans of French Canadian descent are in fact reverting to the mean and becoming more like the rest of our population; but starting from a very low initial position, they are doing so slowly, just as Clark’s model predicts.
Clark discusses several apparent exceptions to his “law of social mobility.” He finds they all fall into one of two categories. A group with exceptionally lengthy high or low social status may persist in that status because members do not intermarry with other groups, such as the Brahmins in India. Or the group in question may experience selective in- and out-migration, such as the Travellers in England—whom Clark argues are not ethnically distinct from the general population—so that lower-status people who want a migrant lifestyle joined the Travellers, while those wishing to move up in status left the group.
A flaw in this book is Clark’s tendency to treat the abstract model he has developed to capture his findings as if it were an actual causal agent operating in the real world. Consider the following passage:
If a group deviates in the current generation from the mean social status, set at zero, then on average will have deviated by a smaller amount, determined by b, in the previous generation. A group of families now of high social status have arrived at the status over many generations by a series of upward steps from the mean. And the length and speed of that ascent, paradoxically, are determined by the rate of persistence, b.
This is a perfect example of what Alfred North Whitehead referred to as “the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” In reality, what we have are particular, concrete individuals, members of families, doing this and that in the world and succeeding or failing to some degree or another. From a large number of such individuals, Clark has devised a model of changes in social status. Within that model, there is a parameter, which he calls b, that is determined by the average speed of ascent or descent in social status among family members. 
It is these actual, concrete activities that make b what it is. But Clark gets this exactly backwards: for him, this abstract entity, b, is somehow controlling the actions of real-world individuals. It is like thinking that a baseball player’s batting average determines how often he will get hits, as if somehow a number on the TV screen can influence his swings, rather than how often he gets hits determining his batting average.
Enough with the details: what is the general upshot of Clark’s findings? For one thing, even if we believe that social mobility ought to be as high as possible, his data do not support the idea that we ought to undertake major social engineering projects with the goal of increasing it. If public education, a universal adult franchise, redistributive taxation, or even the radical egalitarianism of Mao’s China did not alter social mobility in any significant way, just what would we have to do to dramatically change it?
We might have to adopt the sort of dystopian measures that Kurt Vonnegut contemplated in his short story “Harrison Bergeron,” where people who are too intelligent are subjected to deafening noises that continually interrupt their thoughts. If that sort of thing is the only fix available, then perhaps we ought to accept social mobility for what it is and welcome the contributions to social life made by the more adept without seeking to cripple them with equal-outcome producing handicaps.
Clark notes that his findings do not indicate that we will have perpetual upper and lower classes: although social mobility for families is slower than others had estimated, it is real, and it means that over the centuries no particular clan will remain on top or at the bottom. In the meantime, Clark suggests a broad adoption of a Scandinavian-type social-welfare model: after all, if social status is largely a matter of being born into the right or wrong family, why shouldn’t public policy act to balance out such an effect of mere luck? Whether Clark is correct in drawing such a conclusion from his data, I leave it to my reader to decide. But if such issues concern you, you should read this important book.

Obama and the Road Not Taken

Victor Davis Hanson

The Obama administration often denies any responsibility for the current global chaos or claims that it erupted spontaneously. Yet most of the mess was caused by, or made worse by, growing U.S. indifference and paralysis.
Over the last five and a half years, America has had lots of clear choices, but the administration usually took the path of least short-term trouble, which has ensured long-term hardship.
There was no need to "reset" the relatively mild punishments that the George W. Bush administration had accorded Vladimir Putin's Russia for invading Georgia in 2008. By unilaterally normalizing relations with Russia and trashing Bush, Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only green-lighted further Russian aggression that has now spread to Crimea and Ukraine.
There was no need for Obama, almost immediately upon assuming office, to distance the U.S. from Israel by criticizing Israel's policies and warming to its enemies, such as authoritarian Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan and Hamas.
Any time Israel's enemies have glimpsed growing distance in the U.S.-Israeli friendship, they seek only to pry it still wider. We see just that with terrorists in Gaza who launch hundreds of missiles into Israel on the expectation that the U.S. will broker a favorable deal that finds both sides equally at fault.
Sanctions had crippled Iran to the point that it soon would have grown desperate to meet U.S. demands to stop its nuclear enrichment. Instead, Obama eased trade restrictions just as they were coming to fruition. Iran is now on its way to acquiring a bomb, while supplying missiles to Hamas and Hezbollah.
We had an option in Libya to let the tottering but reforming Muammar Gadhafi government fend for itself. Or we could have taken out Gadhafi and then sent in peacekeepers to ensure a transition to ordered government. But the Obama administration did neither. Instead, the U.S. participated in a multi-nation bombing campaign and all but guaranteed that a failed state would be left on Europe's doorstep. Now we have just closed our embassy in Tripoli and fled the country entirely.
There were once viable choices in Egypt. Instead, the administration managed to alienate the old Hosni Mubarak regime, alienate the elected Muslim Brotherhood that immediately tried to subvert the democracy, and alienate the military junta that stepped in to stop the Islamization of Egypt. All of these rival groups share one thing in common: a distrust of the U.S.
We could have made a choice in Iraq to negotiate a bit more with the Nouri al-Maliki government, leave behind a few thousand token peacekeepers and thereby preserve the calm achieved by the surge. Instead, the administration pulled out U.S. soldiers to ensure that a withdrawal would be an effective re-election talking point. The result of that void is the present bloodletting and veritable destruction of Iraq.
The U.S. once had choices in Syria. We could have loudly condemned the Bashar al-Assad government and immediately armed the most pro-Western of the anti-Assad rebels. Or we could have just stayed quiet and stayed out of the mess. Instead, we chose the third -- and worst -- option: loudly threaten Assad while doing nothing. Both a bloody dictatorship and its bloody jihadist enemies share a general contempt for a perceived weak America.
There were choices on our own border as well. Obama could have advised Central American governments that our southern border was closed to any who would cross illegally, while attempting to remedy the violence in those countries. Instead, the administration opened the border, welcomed in thousands without scrutiny, and has all but destroyed federal immigration law. The result is chaos.
The Obama administration apparently has assumed that calm, not conflict, is the natural order of things. The world supposedly can run on autopilot without much guidance from its only superpower.
If conflict does arise, the U.S. counts on sermonizing without the need to back up tough and often provocative rhetoric with any action. When occasional decisions must be made, the U.S. usually chooses the easiest way out: withdrawals, concessions and appeasement.
Behind these assumptions also lie the administration's grave doubts that the U.S. has in the past played a positive role in postwar affairs, or that in the present and future America can claim the moral authority -- or has the resources -- to confront aggressors.
In 2017, Obama may well leave office claiming to have reduced our military while avoiding conflict during his tenure. But will he also be able to assure us that China, Iran and Russia are less threatening; that the Middle East, the Pacific and the former Soviet republics are less explosive; that our own border is more secure -- and that America is safer?
To paraphrase the poet Robert Frost: Two roads diverged in the world, and we always took the one of least resistance -- and that has now made all the difference.

Ebola Outbreak Won’t Stop Obama’s Summit Of African Leaders

Alex Pappas

President Obama still plans to convene a three-day summit in Washington for leaders of African countries even though the continent is experiencing an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, a White House spokesman said Wednesday.
“We have no plans to change any elements of the U.S.-Africa summit as we believe all air travel continues to be safe here,” principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday.
The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is scheduled for Monday through Wednesday of next week. The White House is billing the event as the first such gathering of its kind. (RELATED: White House: Major International Crises No Reason To Stop Fundraising)
“At its core, this Summit is about fostering stronger ties between the United States and Africa,” reads the Obama administration website about the event.
Obama has issued invitations for the summit to leaders in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the three countries experiencing the Ebola outbreak.
Schultz said the White House is continuing to monitor the Ebola outbreak closely. He said the president is aware that two Americans in Africa have been infected. (RELATED: Americans Struck With Deadly Ebola Virus)
Schultz downplayed any concerns. “As the CDC has said, this is not a risk to the U.S. at this time,” he said.
Officials in both the United States and in African countries are on high-alert.
Because of the highly-contagious disease, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has announced that certain borders of the country will be closed until the outbreak stops.
Back in the United States, one congressman, Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, has asked the Obama administration to restrict travel into the country for anyone who lives or has recently visited the three countries suffering from the breakout.

Read more:

Putin could invade Ukraine in response to sanctions

Russian troops amassing along border with eye on separtists



WASHINGTON – As the United States and Europe impose increased sanctions on Russia, there is increasing concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin could raise the ante by unleashing Russian troops into Ukraine to back pro-Russian separatists in their bid to break from the Kiev government.

Regional analysts voice concern that the Russian troops amassed along the Russia-Ukraine border could be deployed ostensibly for so-called peacekeeping intervention to protect the pro-Russian Ukrainians but be used to control the territory.
The U.S. Department of Defense says there are some 12,000 Russian combat troops positioned along the southern and eastern borders of Ukraine. DOD also reports it has information that more than 100 Russian vehicles moved into Ukraine, a development that has raised concern in Washington.
As WND reported, the increasing prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine follows concerns raised by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier that the crisis could prompt a war between Europe and Russia, warning of “unforeseeable consequences for all of Europe.”
DOD claims that on July 25, Russian artillery fired across the border into Ukraine.
Anthony Blinken, assistant to the U.S. president and deputy national security adviser, said Russia is showing signs of preparing an invasion of Ukraine.
“Ukrainian forces are right now making major gains to regain sovereignty in the east, but at the same time, Russia is doubling down on its own efforts to support the separatists and destabilize the country,” Blinken said at a White House press conference Monday.
“Indeed, it is cynically using all of the attention focused on the crash of MH17 as a cover and distraction for its own efforts. It’s increased the provision of heavy weaponry across the border. We’ve seen convoys of tanks, multiple rocket launchers, artillery and armored vehicles. There’s evidence it’s preparing to deliver even more powerful multiple rocket launchers,” he said.
Blinken said the U.S. has documented that Russians are firing from positions inside of Russia into Ukraine.
“And we’ve seen a significant re-buildup of Russian forces along the border, potentially positioning Russia for a so-called humanitarian or peacekeeping intervention in Ukraine,” he said.
The latest developments raise the question of how the U.S. and Europe would respond to Russia beyond having imposed new sanctions designed to cripple its banking system and the ability to purchase Western arms as well as stop high-technology energy exports.
The most critical portion of the sanctions will deny Russian state-owned banks access to European capital markets. Under the agreed sanctions, Europeans won’t be able to buy debt, equity or other financial instruments with a maturity higher than 90 days in Russian state-owned banks. The sanctions also include any brokering linked to any of these kinds of transactions.
The sanctions will be in place for three months, after which they will be reviewed.
President Obama announced Tuesday at the White House that the U.S. will match EU sanctions later this week.
The European sanctions include exemptions that will allow France to sell its Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. In addition, any technology for the natural gas sector is excluded.
Tensions between Russia and the West have reached a critical stage following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 civilian passengers on board. The plane came down in the eastern portion of Ukraine, which is hotly contested by Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.
Putin’s response to the downing of the airliner has been a call for peace and reconciliation. At the same time, he has continued to show backing for the pro-Russian Ukrainians fighters.
“Putin may feel he has been backed into a corner (due to U.S. and EU sanctions) and could respond by sending troops into Ukraine on a supposed humanitarian mission to shore up the separatists in the east of the country,” according to the open intelligence Langley Intelligence Group Network, or Lignet.
“Since Putin has shown no willingness to lose face by abandoning the rebels, he probably plans to continue to stand behind them, even if this means invading eastern Ukraine,” the Lignet report said.
Lignet is comprised of former U.S. intelligence analysts.
The West has condemned Russia for complicity in providing arms to the pro-Russian Ukrainians and accused the rebels of shooting down the Malaysian airliner.
Putin remains very popular at home, with an approval rating said to be close to 90 percent, based on a recent poll. Analysts believe, however, that any invasion of Ukraine could actually boost that popularity even more.


Eric Holder Sues Police Dept. for Treating Women as Equals

Michael Schaus

Forget about that phony IRS scandal… The DOJ apparently has a real problem to handle. The Pennsylvania State Police are being sued by Eric “The Extortionist” Holder for alleged sexual discrimination. No, the Penn police didn’t do anything as egregious as force women to pay for their own birth-control; but apparently it was enough to persuade the DOJ to file a lawsuit. The offense: Women are being held to the same standards as their male counterparts!
Apparently, requiring all candidates to pass the same standard physical fitness test is sexist. See, women are having a tough time passing the test – and this is obviously by design. According to the DOJ lawsuit:
“Through the use of these physical fitness tests, Defendants have engaged in a pattern or practice of employment discrimination against women in [Pennsylvania State Police's] selection process for entry-level trooper positions in violation of Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964].”
Those chauvinist creeps in Pennsylvania: How dare they expect a woman to be able to do a man’s work! Wait a minute… Is that really the problem here? The DOJ is suing a state police force, because they expect their female cadets to complete the same minimum requirements as men? Whoa. Maybe we should make a separate test for women that treats them as equals. I mean heck, it worked for race relations in Democrat controlled states in the 1960s, right?
So what is this horribly sexist barrier to female employment really look like? Well, there are five components of the physical test. A 300 meter run, sit-ups, push-ups, a 1.5 mile run, and a vertical jump. Roughly 94 percent of male candidates passed. Only about 70 percent of women passed.
Of course, if I suggested that this test was too much for a woman to handle, I’d be labeled a sexist faster than you can say liberal hypocrisy… Yet the Police force in Pennsylvania is being sued because they dare to suggest that, yes indeed, women should be evaluated the same as men.
So, let me get this straight: We’re supposed to treat women the same as men, unless they are incapable of achieving the same results. In that case, we’re apparently supposed to give them a handicap. Well, I guess this explains the two sets of tees on the golf course; but I’m not totally on board with this separate-but-equal mentality when it comes to first responders, law enforcement officers, or even Walmart rent-a-cops.
Aside from Holder’s decision to sue based on the absurdly racist/sexist notion of disparate impact (hang on to your hats – if your gender makes such hanging possible – because we’ll address that in a minute), he has also decided to sue over the police department’s failure to compensate women who fail said physical test. Yeah, that’s right: The DOJ expects Pennsylvania’s state police to paywomen who fail the test. It’s kinda like a consolation prize, but with a W-2 tax form.
The notion of disparate impact (I told you I'd get around to it) is nothing more than a tool for race hustlers to squeeze businesses, governments, and (apparently) police forces into affirmative action. In short: Even if a policy has no intention of discrimination, it can be found to violate the Civil Rights Act if it results in a racially, or sexually, skewed outcome. In other words, if too many women fail to pass the test, the test can be found discriminatory – even though it was never intended as a barrier to allowing women in the force.
But the bigger message here seems to be the mentality of those victim-obsessed hustlers who are currently running the Federal Government. Despite the fact that over 70 percent of female applicants pass the test, Holder and Company have decided to sue. And why?
Well… Because those evil cops in Pennsylvania had the audacity to treat female candidates the same as their male counterparts. Don’t those out of touch, sexist, creeps who run the police department know by now that, in Holder’s America, “equality” means treating everyone differently? See, women are equal. Well, unless they’re not. In which case, we should treat them unequal in order to make them equal. But not too unequal. After all, they are equal… Unless they’re not. Are they? (Please don’t sue me.)
Welcome to our progressive Utopia: Where people get sued for not lowering their expectations.

Is the President Incompetent or Lawless?

Judge Andrew Napolitano

It has been well established under the Constitution and throughout our history that the president's job as the chief federal law enforcement officer permits him to put his ideological stamp on the nature of the work done by the executive branch. The courts have characterized this stamp as "discretion."
Thus when exercising their discretion, some presidents veer toward authority, others toward freedom. John Adams prosecuted a congressman whose criticism brought him into disrepute, an act protected by the First Amendment yet punishable under the Alien and Sedition Acts, and Thomas Jefferson declined to enforce the Acts because they punished speech, and pardoned all those convicted. Jimmy Carter asserted vast federal regulatory authority over the trucking and airline industries, and Ronald Reagan undid nearly all of it.
The president has discretion to adapt law enforcement to the needs of the times and to his reading of the wishes of the American people. Yet that discretion has a serious and mandatory guiding light -- namely, that the president will do so faithfully.
The word "faithfully" appears in the oath of office that is administered to every president. The reason for its use is to assure Americans that their wishes for government behavior, as manifested in written law, would be carried out even if the president personally disagrees with the laws he swore to enforce.
This has not always worked as planned. President George W. Bush once famously signed into law a statute prohibiting federal agents without a search warrant from reading mail sent to persons other than themselves -- and as he was literally holding his pen, he stated he had no intention of enforcing it. That was a rejection of his presidential duties and a violation of his oath.
But today, President Obama has taken the concept of discretion and so distorted it, and has taken the obligation of faithful enforcement and so rejected it, that his job as chief law enforcer has become one of incompetent madness or chief lawbreaker. Time after time, in areas as disparate as civil liberties, immigration, foreign affairs and health care, the president has demonstrated a propensity for rejecting his oath and doing damage to our fabric of liberty that cannot easily be undone by a successor.
Item: He has permitted unconstitutional and unbridled spying on all Americans all the time, and he has dispatched his agents to lie and mislead the American people and their elected representatives in Congress about it. This has resulted in a federal culture in which the supposed servants of the people have become our permanent and intimate monitors and squealers on what they observe.
Item: He has permitted illegal immigrants to remain here and continue to break the law, and he has instructed them on how to get away with it. His encouragement has resulted in the flood of tens of thousands of foreign unaccompanied children being pushed across our borders. This has resulted in culture shock to children now used as political pawns, the impairment of their lives and the imposition of grievous financial burdens upon local and state governments.
Item: His agents fomented a revolution in Libya that resulted in the murder of that country's leader, the killing of the U.S. ambassador and the evacuation of the U.S. embassy. His agents fomented a revolution in Ukraine that resulted in a Russian invasion, an active insurgency, sham elections and the killing of hundreds of innocent passengers flying on a commercial airliner.
Item: He has dispatched CIA agents to fight undeclared and secret wars in Yemen and in Pakistan, and he has dispatched unmanned drones to kill innocents there. He has boasted that some secret reading of public positive law permits him to kill whomever he wishes, even Americans and their children.
Item: His State Department has treated Hamas -- a gang of ruthless murderers whose stated purpose is the destruction of Israel -- as if it were a legitimate state deserving of diplomatic niceties, and this has encouraged Hamas to persist in attacking our only serious ally in the Middle East.
Item: His Department of Veterans Affairs has so neglected patients in government hospitals that many of them died, and it even destroyed records to hide its misdeeds. His Internal Revenue Service has enforced the law more heavily against his political opponents than against his friends, and it has destroyed government computer records in order to hide its misdeeds.
Item: He has relieved his friends of the burdens of timely compliance with Obamacare, and he has burdened his enemies with tortured interpretations of that law -- even interpretations that were rejected by the very Congress that enacted the law and interpretations that were invalidated by the Supreme Court.
He has done all these things with a cool indifference, and he has threatened to continue to do so until the pressure builds on his political opponents to see things his way.
The Framers could not have intended a president so devoid of fidelity to the rule of law that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between incompetence and lawlessness -- and I am not sure which is worse. Archbishop Fulton Sheen often said he'd prefer to deal with a smart devil than a stupid one.
But the Framers did give us a remedy, and the remedy is not a frivolous lawsuit that the federal courts will no doubt reject as a political stunt. The remedy is removal from office. This is not to be undertaken lightly, as was the case when this remedy was last used. But it is the remaining constitutional means to save the freedoms the Constitution was intended to guarantee.
The choice is between two more years of government by decree or two years of prosecution. It is a choice the president has imposed upon us all.

Once a kid is in, given La Raza attorneys, hearing date, he’s never going home.

The Loophole Is Obama!

Ann Coulter

It’s been reported everywhere — the New York Times, the Washington Post, Fox News — that the William Wilberforce Sex Trafficking Act requires that any non-Mexican children who show up on our border be admitted and given a hearing. (New York Times, July 7, 2014: “Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking.”)
The problem, we’ve been told, is that a loophole in the sex trafficking law mandates these hearings — or “removal proceedings.”
But there is no such loophole.
The fact that people on both sides of the aisle are telling the same lie about this law is worrisome. Are Republicans being tricked into thinking we need an emergency bill, so that, two weeks later, we’ll see them emerging from a conference, saying:
We fixed the loophole! We didn’t get everything we wanted, but you can hear about that later.
No, tell me now.
Well, remember amnesty? It’s kind of in this bill. But the headline is: We closed the loophole! So no more worries about that loophole. But yeah, amnesty passed.
Why else would everyone be carrying on about a non-existent loophole? I know they’re mistaken because I read the law.
The Wilberforce law states, in relevant part:
“Any unaccompanied alien child sought to be removed by the Department of Homeland Security, except for an unaccompanied alien child from a contiguous country (i.e. Mexico — or Canada, so as not to sound discriminatory) … shall be — placed in removal proceedings … eligible for relief … at no cost to the child and provided access to counsel.”
Obviously, that’s the whole ball of wax. Once a kid is in, given La Raza attorneys and a hearing date, he’s never going home. No immigration judge is going to listen to a lawyer-manufactured sob story and say, “No, I’m sorry, that didn’t touch my heart. You have to go back to Huehuetenango.”
But the law’s definition of “unaccompanied alien child” limits the hearings to kids who have no relatives in the United States. If your relatives live here, the law assumes you’re not being sex-trafficked — you’re trying to join them.
Here’s the definition — note subsection (C):
“(g) Definitions
(2) the term ‘unaccompanied alien child’ means a child who –
(A) has no lawful immigration status in the United States;
(B) has not attained 18 years of age; and
(C) with respect to whom –
(i) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or (ii) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.”
The law is not — as George Will suggested on “Fox News Sunday” — a general humanitarian mandate allowing all 2 billion poor children of the world to show up at our border and be told, “Welcome to America!” It’s a law to combat sex trafficking.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Vice President Joe Biden wrote the law — and Feinstein isn’t stupid. She’s well aware of illegal immigration. That’s why the law specifically excludes two huge categories of illegal aliens from getting hearings: (1) Mexicans; and (2) children who have relatives in the U.S.
Those cases look more like illegal immigration than sex trafficking. (Didn’t anyone wonder why Mexican kids are excluded?)
Mexicans make up the lion’s share of illegal immigrants in the U.S., and children with relatives already living in the U.S. are probably just trying to rejoin family — not trying to escape a fiendish kidnapper about to sell them into sex slavery.
According to last Friday’s New York Times, almost 90 percent of the 53,000 illegal alien kids given refugee status since October have already been transferred to parents or relatives living in the U.S. By the law’s clear terms, those 47,000 kids should have been summarily turned away at the border — just as Mexican children are.
(Democrats wailing about a “humanitarian” crisis — after calculating the precise number of voters they need — evidently don’t care about the Mexican kids.)
No law needs to be fixed. The only thing that needs to be fixed is the president.
Obama has gone mad and is defying the law in order to “fundamentally transform America” — as he pledged to do during the 2008 campaign — into Latin America. (Luckily for George Will, he won’t be around by the time Latin America gets to his neighborhood.)
Any Republicans pushing for an immigration bill to seal an imaginary loophole aren’t fighting Obama; they’re helping him.
Constitutionally, the remedy for a president defying the law so he can assist an alien invasion is impeachment. But the media won’t let us impeach Obama — and Republicans don’t have the votes, anyway. The only way for Americans to fight back is to put large Republican majorities in the House and Senate this November.

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