Sunday, February 1, 2015

ISIS has finest in heavy weapons via US taxpayers and Iraq, but Kurds who just took Kobani back from ISIS are desperate for more weapons. US says it can't send needed weapons for Kurds to fight ISIS because Iraq has to approve weapons sent to the area-Eli Lake, Bloomberg

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"The U.S. position is that it has to get Baghdad’s approval for any specific weapons system.” 

1/30/15, "Victorious Kurds Ask U.S. for Promised Guns," Eli Lake, Bloomberg View

"With the victory this week over Islamic State forces at Kobani, Syria, one might think that the U.S. and Iraqi governments would be looking to increase shipments of armaments to the Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting on the ground.

But according to the Kurd overseeing much of the ground campaign in Northern Iraq, his Peshmerga units are facing a shortage of ammunition and guns just at the moment they have turned the tide against the jihadists.

In an exclusive interview from a command center on the Iraq-Syria border, Masrour Barzani, the chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, told me his forces have received only four shipments of needed munitions in recent months. “The shortage of ammunition is a big problem and this is not even close to what we were asking for,” he said.

His comments have all the more significance because a recent deal -- brokered in part by the U.S. -- commits the Baghdad government to provide $1 billion to Kurdish forces in exchange for the Kurds sharing revenue of their oil exports. Barzani says that so far, his forces have not received that money, though he spoke to me before the final deal was passed this week in Iraq’s parliament as part of its annual budget.

The news is also important in light of recent news reports suggesting the Obama administration has not committed many resources in other elements of its war against Islamic State jihadists, such as bankrolling and equipping moderate Syrian rebels. The White House now says it will take at least three years to complete the Islamic State mission, leaving the war to be finished by the next president’s administration.

Barzani is the son of the Kurdistan region’s president, Massoud Barzani, and the grandson of the legendary Kurdish nationalist Mustafa Barzani. He is now overseeing much of the day-to-day fighting on one of the war's hottest fronts. When Syrian Kurdish fighters known as the PYD were under siege in Kobani, Masrour Barzani sent a Peshmerga artillery team into the city that also helped coordinate the U.S. airstrikes as part of the battle.

But such cooperation with the U.S. Air Force in the border area and elsewhere has not resulted in the arms shipments the Kurds say they desperately need to fight the Islamic State army, which has appropriated heavy weaponry the U.S. provided long ago to the Iraqi army.

“The United States spent 10 years training an Iraqi army, it spent billions of dollars training an Iraqi army and equipping it with Humvees, MRAPs [mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles], artillery and howitzers, all of this given to the Iraqi army, and it was dismantled in 10 hours,” Barzani said, referring to the collapse of the Iraqi forces in June at Mosul and around Kirkuk.

A State Department official in Washington contacted on Thursday largely disputed the characterization that the Kurds were being deprived. In talking points provided to me, the official pointed out that Baghdad had recently sent 25 MRAPs to the Kurds, and that since August there have been 59 international cargo flights worth of ammunition delivered to the Peshmerga. This included 45,000 mortar rounds, 2,800 rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, 40,000 rounds for those launchers, and 18,000 assault rifles.

Yet Barzani said that most of those shipments came in the late summer and fall from eastern European countries, and that the re-supply of the Kurdish forces since December has slowed to a trickle. He was particularly angry that his forces received only 25 MRAPs.

“Now the Americans are providing 250 MRAPs to Iraq, but only 25 of them are promised to be given to the Kurds,” he said. “90 percent of the burden for this war is on the shoulder of the Peshmerga, 90 percent of the work is done by the Peshmerga, but we are only getting 10 percent of the armaments.”

Barzani also pointed out that his forces were getting none of the 1,000 Humvees or 175 Abrams tanks promised to Iraq. “We are starting to have doubts that there might be a political decision on what sort of equipment should be given to the Kurds,” he said. “We don’t think this is just a technical issue. It’s been way too long for any technical issue.”

The State Department official said there was no intent to deny Kurdish fighters heavy weapons, and that there was a new effort to provide mortars, rounds for Soviet-made T-62 tanks the Kurds commandeered in 2003 from Saddam Hussein’s army, and other vehicles and equipment to counter roadside bombs. The Obama administration also committed for the first time to train and equip a Kurdish Peshmerga division. 

But the White House has also not changed a longstanding policy-enshrined in U.S. law-that prohibits the open shipment of weapons to sub-state entities such as the Kurdistan Regional Government. That means, in practice, the Baghdad government gets a final say on all weapons headed to Kurdistan.

Other Western countries have been more flexible. Germany has provided the Kurds with French-made Milan anti-tank missiles, which Barzani said were very effective against Humvees and other vehicles used by Islamic State forces.

“At the end of the day, the U.S. position is that it has to get Baghdad’s approval for any specific weapons system,” said James Jeffrey, who served as U.S. ambassador there between 2010 and 2012. “That is part of our keeping-Iraq-unified policyAs it stands now, Masrour has had to rely in large part on other countries for the equipment and ammunition he will need to take on the Islamic State." 

In some cases, that includes counting on less-than-savory actors such as Iran. Barzani acknowledged receiving ammunition from Iranian military. Jeffrey told me this included rockets and other kinds of specialized weapons. “He is right to complain, because they are doing a lot of the fighting and they don’t have a lot of the heavy weapons they are going to need,” Jeffrey said.

Barzani said that since the Peshmerga entered the war, more than 800 fighters have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded. “We are fighting on behalf of the rest of the world against this terrorist organization,” he told me. “We are putting our lives on the line. All we ask for is the sufficient equipment to protect these lives.”"

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Comment: Too bad the Kurds don't speak Spanish. The US would send them everything they needed.




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Saturday, January 31, 2015

US considering giving Middle East and North Africans their own category in 2020 census due to huge growth of Arab population in US in last 25-30 years. Would yield greater political clout and access to free taxpayer dollars-AP

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1/20/15, "US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 census," AP, Jeff Karoub
The federal government is considering allowing those of Middle Eastern and North African descent to identify as such on the next 10-year census, which could give Arab-Americans and other affected groups greater political clout and access to public funding, among other things.

The U.S. Census Bureau will test the new Middle East-North Africa (MENA) classification for possible inclusion on the 2020 census if it gets enough positive feedback about the proposed change by Sunday, when the public comment period ends.
Arab-Americans, who make up the majority of those who would be covered by the MENA classification, have previously been classified by default as white on the census, which helps determine congressional district boundaries and how billions of dollars in federal funding are allocated, among other things.

Those pushing for the MENA classification say it would more fully and accurately count them, thus increasing their visibility and influence among policymakers.

The Census Bureau plans to test it later this year by holding focus group discussions with people who would be affected by the proposed change. Congress would still have to sign off on the proposal before the change could be added to the 2020 census.

"We know the challenges," says Hassan Jaber, who runs a Detroit-area social services group and serves on a census advisory board formed to evaluate Americans' changing racial and ethnic identities. "It really does take rethinking...who we are as a population and what our needs are, (but) there are specific needs for Arab-Americans that are not being recognized and not being met."

Jaber's group, ACCESS, and others that serve U.S. Middle Eastern communities have been pushing for the new census classification, which could also allow people to identify under sub-categories such as Assyrian or Kurdish.

"Frankly, being under MENA will also give us a chance for the first time for minorities within the Arab communities, such as Chaldeans, Berbers and Kurds, to self-identify," said Jaber, a Lebanese-American who serves on the U.S. Census' National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.

Arabs have been coming to America in large numbers since the late 19th century and their ranks have grown in recent decades due to wars and political instability in the Middle East, with many settling in and around Detroit, New York and Los Angeles. The Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey, which had a sample size of about 3 million addresses, estimated that 1.5 million people were of Arab ancestry in 2006-10.

Although Jaber thinks the public comment and testing periods should go well, he said it could be difficult getting congressional approval. Some Republican lawmakers are generally critical of the expense and intrusion of the census and have sought to eliminate the community surveys, which, unlike the main decennial count, aren't constitutionally mandated.

There also isn't universal support for the proposed census change among those who could identify as Middle Eastern or North African.

Some have expressed concern about sharing such information with the government in a post-9/11 world. And some have said that keeping the status quo would let them feel more American.
"I'm not for it. ... I feel I'm a Mayflower American," said Eide Alawan, a 74-year-old son of a Syrian immigrant whose roots are mostly Arab.

Alawan, a diversity liaison at a Detroit hospital and interfaith outreach coordinator at the area's largest mosque, said he knows there are benefits to having the category, but that he thinks the change would be divisive.

"We're broken down into villages and countries (where we come from) - I don't like that."

Some older Middle Eastern immigrants or their descendants live with the legacy of U.S. laws in the early 20th century that excluded Asians from entry and at one point included Syrians and others from the eastern Mediterranean. Groups were formed to fight those decisions and eventually the Middle Eastern immigrants were deemed white and were allowed to become citizens.

Sally Howell, an associate professor at University of Michigan-Dearborn and author of several books on Arabs and Muslims in Detroit, said that argument is common among "people that were raised in an America that was more polarized along black and white lines." But she added younger people generally are "less eager to see the world in those binary terms," and the census should reflect that.

No matter what happens, identity would remain a choice, but she said an evolving population requires asking new questions.

"We need to kind of rethink who Arab-Americans are, really. The community has changed radically over the last 25-30 years," she said. "The only way we're going to have a good sense of the changes is if we have good data to work with."" via Pamela Geller

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“US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 census,” By J. Karoub, The Associated Press, an 30th 2015 - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2015/01/us-proposes-muslim-race-category-for-2020-census.html/#sthash.md4tSsZ9.dpuf

1000 new crimes have been committed by 36,000 Illegal immigrant criminals released by Obama in 2013 including child sex abuse, hit and run, and child cruelty, per Obama DHS-Washington Times

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1/30/15, "Illegal immigrants released from custody committed 1,000 new crimes," Washington Times, Stephen Dinan

"One thousand of the 36,000 illegal immigrant criminals the government released in 2013 have gone on to commit other crimes, including child sex abuse, hit-and-run and child cruelty, according to new data released Friday evening by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley.

The information, which the Homeland Security Department provided to Mr. Grassley, details all 1,000 convictions including dozens of drunk-driving convictions, drug offenses and weapons convictions. But the more serious crimes include domestic abuse, carjacking and aggravated assault.

One of the illegal immigrants, identified as No. 960, was subsequently convicted of inflicting injury on a domestic partner; child cruelty, with the possibility of injury or death; probation violations; speeding; driving without a license; and failing to appear for court.

The Obama Administration claims that it is using ‘prosecutorial discretionto prioritize the removal of criminal aliens from this country. But this report shows the disturbing truth: 1,000 undocumented aliens previously convicted of crimes who the Administration released in 2013 have gone on to commit further crimes in our communities,” Mr. Grassley said.

The information comes just a month before Mr. Obama begins taking applications for the new amnesty he announced in November, which would allow up to 4 million illegal immigrants to apply for a stay of deportation and for work permits to be able to compete legally for jobs.

The 1,000 illegal immigrants in the data were part of a group of 36,000 convicted criminals that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had been holding but decided to release in 2013.

Those illegal immigrants had amassed nearly 88,000 convictions among them, including 193 homicide convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions and 16,070 drunk- or drugged-driving convictions.

At the time, ICE officials said some of the releases were required by a federal court decision that prevents them from holding illegal immigrants whose home countries won’t take them back. The government said three-quarters of those convicted of homicide had to be released under court guidelines.

Mr. Grassley this week introduced a bill to change the law and overturn the court decision."

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Comment: Thanks again to the Bush family for handing the country over to the radical left.

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Romney considers Jeb Bush least helpful to his 2012 campaign among national Republican figures-Halperin, Bloomberg

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1/30/15, "How Mitt Romney Made His Decision Not To Run," Bloomberg, Mark Halperin

"Romney also considers Bush the national Republican figure who was the least helpful to him during his last run for the White House, a position that has darkened Ann Romney’s view of Bush as well."...(parag. 10) 

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Jeb's brother George W. Bush also sabotaged Romney's campaign:

“He (George Bush) gets a regular drip feed of political news from Karl Rove and others--
he’s been critical of Romney’s campaign and skeptical of his chances.”...(p. 2)


10/14/12, “(Jeb) Bush in the Wilderness, NY Magazine, Joe Hagen

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"Sabotaging conservatives is built into the DNA of the GOP Establishment. Unable to win themselves a considerable bit of the time — and then continuing to move the country left when they do win...they have never ever changed."

1/8/13, “The Sabotage Republicans,by Jeffrey Lord, American Spectator


"When the 1964 convention was over, instead of uniting behind Goldwater as Goldwater had done with Nixon — and asked his supporters to do the same — the Establishment/Rockefeller wing of the GOP took a walk. They sat on their hands — or went out of their way to sabotage Goldwater.

Decades later, moderates were still at it. In 2010 Delaware, GOP moderate Congressman Mike Castle was filled with soothing calls for party unity — until he lost the GOP Senate nomination to the conservative Christine O’Donnell. And promptly sat on his hands along with the Delaware and Washington GOP Establishments. Which spent their time shorting her on funds and attacking her.

Now the same stunt has been pulled in Virginia with the GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The moderates, led by moderate Lieutenant Governor Bolling and Eric Cantor’s ex-chief of staff, lost in a convention to the conservative Cuccinelli. So Bolling spends his time, like Nelson Rockefeller and liberal Republicans all the way back in 1964, and does the minimal. With Cantor’s friend Marcus simply going over to the other side, period.

What, pray tell, was going on with Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee? With the Chamber of Commerce? Here’s this from Politico:
 

"McAuliffe outraised Cuccinelli by almost $15 million, and he used the cash advantage to pummel him on the airwaves. A lack of resources forced the Republican to go dark in the D.C. media market during the final two weeks. 

The Republican National Committee spent about $3 million on Virginia this year, compared to $9 million in the 2009 governor’s race. 

The Chamber of Commerce spent $1 million boosting McDonnell in 2009 and none this time. 

“If the Republicans would have rallied around the nominee instead of refusing to support Cuccinelli, he would have won,” said a GOP source involved in the race. 

Then there is Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and the Republican Governors Association deciding to take their money and, instead of giving directly to Cuccinelli, going off on their own to do commercials talking about… China. That’s right…not Obamacare, but China.
Here’s Matt Lewis on this over at the Daily Caller: 

"“Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign is over,” said the Cuccinelli advisor. “He screwed this up so bad. And I don’t know why. The campaign knew it was moving numbers over ObamaCare. And the RGA was not very far from that information, they could have obtained it themselves,” the advisor continued. “They should have given the money to the campaign to spend as opposed to running these stupid China ads. They just blew it.”"

About the only thing one can say for Jindal is that this was political incompetence as opposed to political sabotage.
And who will forget Chris Christie? Last year, as the key moment of the presidential campaign arrived along with Hurricane Sandy, Christie went out of his way to put his arm around Romney opponent President Obama. This year….cruising to a 60% percent victory and asked to spare a few hours for Cuccinelli, Christie refused. Once again, it was all about Christie.

And this is the guy who is supposed to be the new leader of the party? 

The fact here is that sabotaging conservatives is built into the DNA of the GOP Establishment. Unable to win themselves a considerable bit of the time — and then continuing to move the country left when they do win, just not as fast and so much better managed don’t you know — they have never ever changed.

Governor Christie is being touted as some sort of inevitable nominee in 2016. The next Tom Dewey, the next Gerald Ford, the next Bob Dole and John McCain and Mitt Romney.

And if by chance he flames out? With the conservative base in open rebellion in the 2016 primaries, awarding the nomination to, say, Texas Senator Ted Cruz? You can bet that America will be treated to yet another knee-jerk, reflexive response from the quarters of the GOP Establishment.

Sabotage. 

The GOP Establishment will find a way — quietly or not so quietly — to sabotage the conservative nominee if there is a conservative nominee in 2016. This is what they do.

They did it to Barry Goldwater in 1964, they tried to do it to Ronald Reagan in 1980 with liberal GOP Congressman John Anderson. Anderson who lost in the primaries to Reagan, running as a third party candidate in a deliberate attempt to sabotage Reagan. Anderson failed — but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. 

The Republican Party has two serious problems on its hands.

The first is with those like Eric Cantor’s ex-chief of staff who are invited into leadership positions in the party — when they in fact are not conservatives at all and quietly or openly seek to sabotage the party. 

The second is with those Establishment Republicans who do manage to win — and then see their job as merely managing the leftist status quo. 

This time around the target was Ken Cuccinelli.

But Ken Cuccinelli wasn’t the first — and he isn’t going to be the last.

That is the Republican Party’s real problem. And it’s a big one.”

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Added: In recent close races, a Libertarian candidate can become the spoiler. In 2013 Virginia Governor election, the conservative lost to the liberal democrat by 2%, but the Libertarian candidate walked away with 6.6%:

11/6/2013, "In a race where he was polling with a double-digit lead only last week, Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia governor’s race in a squeaker tonight, with a margin of victory of just over 2 percent, receiving 47.6 percent to Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s 45.42 percent. For libertarians the bigger news might be that Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis pulled 6.6 percent, or more than 142,000 votes."...Reason.com 


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Added: Hoping Republicans would lose ground in 2006 midterms, former GOP Senator from Missouri John Danforth said, "I'm counting on nausea." Maybe they all deserved to lose but that isn't the point in this case. The whole country loses by constant GOP insider sabotage. The US can't exist without two separate, healthy political parties representing opposing points of view. As it is now, we have only one functioning political party, the far left Democrats.

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Comment: The Bushes and Rupert Murdoch keep the left in charge. None of this would've happened if Ronald Reagan hadn't named George HW Bush his VP.


 
 



Muslim Brotherhood meeting at US State Dept. this week was 'organized and funded' by Georgetown University per US State Dept.

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1/30/15, "State Dept: Muslim Brotherhood US Trip ‘Organized and Funded’ by Georgetown University," Breitbart, Jordan Schachtel

Sharaby, 1/26/15
"This week, the State Department hosted several “former” members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. One of the members of the Brotherhood delegation, Waleed Sharaby, proudly displayed on Facebook a picture he took at the State Department, where he flashed the Brotherhood’s four-finger symbol.

Another Brotherhood leader within the delegation, Gamal Heshmat, claimed that he met with a “representative of the White House.” Heshmat has openly supported the Palestinian Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Heshmat has previously described Jews as “the descendants of pigs and monkeys.”

Georgetown University, which hosted the Brotherhood delegation, receives a vast amount of funding from foreign entities, some of which could potentially be sympathetic to the jihadist group.

Qatar, which remains a strong ideological ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, operates a Georgetown satellite school in Doha that some have alleged is funded entirely “by oil money and corrupt sheikhs,” according to The Hoya student newspaper. Dr. John Esposito, who serves as director of the Saudi-funded Prince Alaweed Bin Tala Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, “has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organization,” according to Global MB Watch.

During the Muslim Brotherhood’s reign over Egypt, Cairo devolved into a state of total chaos. Coptic Christians were fearful for their lives. Their churches, schools, and businesses were routinely burned to the ground. Furthermore, al-Qaeda terrorists were offered safe haven into the country. One of MB President Morsi’s first acts as president was to release from prison the brother of al-Qaeda mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri, who reportedly told Morsi at the time, “We will fight the [Egyptian] military and the police, and we will set the Sinai aflame.” On the Brotherhood’s watch, the Sinai peninsula became a breeding ground for terrorism, helping jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis become a radical enough force to eventually swear allegiance to the Islamic State. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president would often verbally assault Jews, describing them as “bloodsuckers” who are the “descendants of apes and pigs.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan states, “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu Akbar!”"     

Image above from Waleed's Facebook



1/24/15, Image from Waleed Sharaby Facebook
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State Dept. Press Briefing references Georgetown and "former members of Freedom and Justice Party" meeting at State Dept.:
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1/29/15, "Daily Press Briefing," state.gov  

"MS. PSAKI: You want to go to Egypt?

QUESTION: Egypt. Yes, please.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: Members of Muslim Brothers were in town, and few days ago they met – had meetings in this building. Do you have any like – any details about the meeting, the nature of the meeting, the purpose of the meeting, and whom they met?

MS. PSAKI: Well, State Department officials meet – recently met with a group of visiting Egyptian former parliamentarians whose visit to the United States was organized and funded by Georgetown University. Such meetings are fairly routine at the State Department where we regularly meet with political party leaders from across the world. The Georgetown group included former members of the Freedom and Justice Party, among others. So this was a meeting – we meet on a regular basis with a range of groups, and obviously, as I mentioned, this was a group sponsored by Georgetown. The meeting was attended by a deputy assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor, and other State Department officials.

QUESTION: The reason I’m asking: because you said Georgetown University, because they are in town and they were talking about – first, they are representing alternative parliament whatever, and beside that they were talking about political solution and being representative of an alternative government for Egypt. Do you have anything to say about that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t. This was a diverse group of former parliamentarians. I don’t think I have much more than I just offered.

QUESTION: So let me complete this --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- because the last 48 hours you were silent about these Georgetown visitors.

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think I was asked about it, so hence I was silent.

QUESTION: No, I mean, you were asked two days ago, I mean, and then we tried to ask you --

MS. PSAKI: And I think I said I need to look into more details.

QUESTION: Yes.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. That’s hardly silent, but go ahead.

QUESTION: So I’m trying to adjust to – explain myself anyway.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: So in the last 48 hours, just for your information, the tweetosphere, whatever you can call it, was full of members of this Georgetown visitors, saying what they did and what they didn’t do in this town and in this building in particular, saying that it’s a kind of like a – we said our word and we achieved our goals. Are – your team are following what’s going on this town or it’s you don’t care about what they are saying about their meetings here?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I have to say there are dozens if not hundreds of meetings that take place in this building every single day. We don’t announce every meeting. That’s a part of our efforts and engagement as diplomats. So I don’t think it’s more complicated than that.

QUESTION: I’m – can I just – I understand completely what you are saying and --...

MS. PSAKI: Well, I just gave you all the details I have. Again, I think – and it takes a little bit of the mystery out of it. This was a group that was organized and funded by Georgetown. It was a diverse group. It had some former members of the Freedom and Justice Party – they’re former parliamentarians. I think we regularly meet with groups like this, so hopefully you can go back and report and defuse some of the confusion.

QUESTION: All right. Since I’m wearing a Georgetown scarf, are you suggesting that the criticism that has been lobbed at this building from frequent critics of the Administration should be directed at my alma mater?

MS. PSAKI: No, not at all, actually. I was suggesting that this was a group sponsored by a well-respected national university, Matt, and it was a diverse group and something --

QUESTION: Okay.

MS. PSAKI: -- I’m sure they do regularly, and we regularly meet with these groups.

QUESTION: And when they – in this meeting that they had, that a semi-senior official attended, did they discuss overthrowing the – President Morsy?

MS. PSAKI: No, that was not part of the discussion.

QUESTION: Okay. And then you also said that it was a diverse group, with former MPs and also, you said, former member of the Freedom and Justice Party. They are no long members of the Freedom and Justice Party?

MS. PSAKI: My understanding is they’re former members.

QUESTION: Because the party was outlawed, or – why just former members?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have more details on the group than what I’ve offered.

QUESTION: And who else – who else was in it, then?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have more of a description, Matt....

QUESTION: (Inaudible) can we move to --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead. Why don’t we finish Egypt? Okay.

QUESTION: Yeah. I mean, just I’m trying to follow up --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- because the question is: You said that they don’t discuss overthrowing it, or whatever. But they – this is what somehow their message was in this town or other places – I mean, in this town especially, in National Press Club, in other places.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I haven’t looked --

QUESTION: I know that you are not supposed to censor or whatever --

MS. PSAKI: Well, let me – then let me just answer your question. I’m sure they had a broad schedule while they were in Washington. I would refer you to them and others for what their schedule included. This was a regular meeting that we have with a range of groups. It wasn’t more complex; it wasn’t a discussion, a negotiation; it was a courtesy meeting, and I would leave it at that."...



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Friday, January 30, 2015

US 4Q 2014 GDP plunges unexpectedly to 2.6, economists expected 3.2

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1/30/15, "US Economic Growth Slows in Q4," istockanalyst.com, Capital Spectator

"US GDP growth fell short of expectations in last year's fourth quarter, the government reports. National output increased 2.6% in the final three months of 2014 vs. the previous quarter (seasonally adjusted annual rate). The consensus forecast was looking for something better—a 3.2% rise, according to Econoday.com's survey of economists.
 
The soft number for headline growth in Q4 is a bit surprising when you look at the statistical elephant in the room, namely, consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 70% of GDP. Personal consumption expenditures accelerated to a 4.3% pace in the fourth quarter, a handsome improvement over Q3's 3.2% rise. Meanwhile, disposable personal income growth accelerated to 3.8% in Q4 vs. 2.0% in Q3–a bullish sign for consumer spending in the near term.
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So, why the lesser pace of growth for headline GDP? Part of the explanation is due to the slide in government expenditures, which fell 2.2% in Q4. That's a fairly large reversal from Q3's 4.4% gain.

A faster growth rate for imports vs. exports—aka a bigger trade deficit–also weighed on headline GDP. Another corner of disappointment: business spending on equipment—a measure of corporate confidence in the economic outlook–slumped 1.9% in Q4, although it follows back-to-back gains of 11.0%-plus in each of the previous quarters and so some of this may be payback after a run of strength."... 












 




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Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Lee Zeldin seek investigation into US taxpayer funded org. working in Israel to influence upcoming election

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$233,500 free US taxpayer dollars were given to OneVoice "to support a two state solution" in Israel.

1/30/15, "EXCLUSIVE: Has President Obama Launched a Political Campaign Against Prime Minister Netanyahu?" Sen. Ted Cruz, Breitbart

"The Obama Administration’s actions towards Israel become more intolerable each day, carrying with their insults deeply damaging national security implications for our country.

Earlier this week, Americans opened the newspapers to discover that the Obama campaign team has deployed operatives, including 2012 Field Director Jeremy Bird, to Tel Aviv to try to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through an organization that receives taxpayer grants from the U.S. Department of State.

This follows a long string of hostile behavior that has only escalated with time.

In The Atlantic, “unnamed senior administration officials” have called Mr. Netanyahu a “chicken****” and bragged that it was now “too late” for him to take action to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons capability.

Last week, more anonymous sources vented to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “Netanyahu spat in our face,” and vowing there will be a pricefor the Prime Minister’s accepting House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to come address Congress on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program.

An Obama campaign foreign policy advisor, Daniel Kurtzer, suggested to the New York Times that the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, should be “reprimanded or removed” for passing along the speaking  invitation from Speaker Boehner.

And, let us not forget how eager the Obama Administration was to impose an unprecedented flight ban against Israel last year during its military operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

At the time, I asked the simple question whether the Obama Administration was using the Federal Aviation Authority to launch an economic boycott against Israel. After their actions were questioned, they quickly lifted the ban.

Now, it is time for another simple question:

Has President Obama launched a political campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his allies?
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Prime Minister Netanyahu is a courageous leader, a symbol of Israel’s strength in the face of continued threats from Iran, and Americans who support Israel deserve to know whether their President is actively working to remove him from office.

And, even more troubling, whether U.S. tax dollars are being used to fund the campaign,.

Specifically, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that a U.S. taxpayer-funded non-profit organization called OneVoice is actively working with a campaign operation called Victory 2015 (V15)–working hand-in-hand with Obama field director Jeremy Bird–in an effort to influence the upcoming elections in Israel on March 17, 2015.

Today I, along with Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY), sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry to request an investigation into this funding and the propriety of U.S. taxpayer dollars being used to exert undue influence over a foreign election and to destabilize a long-standing ally.
 
In our letter we asked questions such as: “How much funding has the U.S. Government provided to OneVoice, PeaceWorks Network Foundation, and any connected initiatives, projects or subsidiaries?” and, “Who approved providing such funds?”

“What were the specific reasons and terms for providing funds, and how are these funds specifically being spent?” we asked.

And, “Can the Department of State guarantee that none of these funds have been or will be used in the endeavor detailed above, namely the partnership with V15, or any similar effort to exert undue influence over the Israeli political process?”

All of this is even more perilous given the imminent threat posed by Iran’s active effort to acquire nuclear weapons capability.

The Administration should be crystal clear that we support the nation of Israel, and we should do everything necessary to prevent a nuclear Iran.

If the nuclear negotiations continue on the path they are on, they could prove to be the worst negotiations in our nation’s history. As a result, the possibility of Iran using nuclear weapons against Israel, or us, is unacceptably high.

There can be little doubt that once Iran has, as they have vowed, targeted what they call the “Little Satan,” Israel, the mullahs will turn their sights on the “Great Satan,” or the United States. The United States and Israel thus have a shared stake in keeping devastating weapons out of Iran’s reach.
The Obama White House should focus its grievances on the very real enemies we face, and not on our staunch allies.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is pursuing the deadliest weapons on the planet–weapons that our most senior and highly respected statesmen believe will be aimed squarely at Israel. This is the real problem, not Netanyahu’s next election.

President Obama should heed the warnings from three former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and Madeline Albright about the dire challenges the United States faces around the globe—first and foremost the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.

As Secretary Shultz noted on a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on January 29th, Iran does not “want a nuclear weapon for deterrence, they want a nuclear weapon to use it on Israel.”
Given that threat, the last thing we should be doing is undermining Israel.

President Obama cannot claim to stand by our allies in Israel if his campaign operatives are actively campaigning against them."

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1/29/15, "Daily Press Briefing," state.gov

"MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- that have to do with Israel from yesterday.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: The first one is: Did you – were you able to get an answer to the question about the funding for OneVoice --

MS. PSAKI: Yes.

QUESTION: -- when the last payment of – for the grant that ended in November was made and how much it was for?

MS. PSAKI: Yes. The U.S. Government grant to OneVoice Israel was for $233,500. The duration of this grant, as I mentioned yesterday but just to reconfirm, was from September 23rd, 2013 through November 30th, 2014. No payment was made to OneVoice after November 2014.

QUESTION: And the project was, again, for what?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the project was to support efforts to support a two-state solution.

QUESTION: Despite the fact that you said that yesterday without the specific dollar amount and money, there was – another report emerged today that says that the State Department is funding an anti-Netanyahu lobbying campaign ahead of the Israeli election. Can you just say once and for all whether that – there is any shred of proof for that? Has your looking into it uncovered some kind of --

MS. PSAKI: It’s --

QUESTION: -- funding for this purpose?

MS. PSAKI: No. It’s an absolutely false report. The reports were stemming from inaccurate reporting – and a lack of reporting, perhaps I should say, on this grant that I’ve given you many details on."...


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Peter Wehner: 'In Praise of Ted Cruz: Not just skillful but superb' in his questioning of Obama AG nominee

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1/30/15, "In Praise of Ted Cruz," Commentary, Peter Wehner

"In the past I’ve been critical of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but his questioning of President Obama’s choice for attorney general, Loretta Lynch–which occurred during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee–was not just skillful but superb.

Senator Cruz’s tone was respectful but firm. He stayed away from theatrics and polemics. He didn’t personalize the line of inquiry. In doing so, he kept the focus right where it needed to be.

But more than that, Senator Cruz exposed the lawlessness that is at the core of President Obama’s executive amnesty, and he did so in a logical, step-by-step manner. Senator Cruz started with the fact that Ms. Lynch supports what the president did, and then probed her thinking in order to find out what limits there are on the government’s power, if any at all. What he found is that there are none–at least none that are rooted in the Constitution and anything more than arbitrary parameters and presidential whim. If the president wants to provide amnesty to five million illegal immigrants, then why not 12 million? What’s to stop him? Senator Cruz wanted to know. Ms. Lynch had no answer.

What about the Obama administration printing millions of work authorizations in direct conflict with federal law? Is that a problem? Ms. Lynch was unwilling to say. And then Senator Cruz put forward a devastating hypothetical. Assume that in 2017 President John Cornyn instructs his secretary of the treasury not to collect any taxes in excess of 25 percent, based on “prosecutorial discretion.” Or that President Cornyn broadens his ambitions and decides, using the infinitely elastic Obama-era definition of prosecutorial discretion, he won’t enforce federal labor laws and environmental laws? Once again, Ms. Lynch had nothing to say, no defense to offer.

What Senator Cruz did was to reveal Mr. Obama’s utter disdain for the Constitution and what a fundamentally lawless and capricious president he is. He showed that Mr. Obama views himself in possession of kingly powers. And he demonstrated that there are simply no checks on government power, at least according to the legal theory that is guiding the Obama administration.

This is the progressive vision–radical, unmoored, dismissive of the Constitution, and indifferent to the rule of law–and it’s being realized in the Obama presidency. It’s to his credit that Ted Cruz exposed this in his short colloquy with the woman who wants to be America’s next attorney general." via Free Rep.



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