The State Department doesn’t have a new or better policy toward the Islamic State, but they do have a different name for the group (as if there weren’t enough to keep track of). In addition to the Islamic State, ISIL, and ISIS, Secretary of State John Kerry is now rolling out one more: Daesh.
"In less than three months, the international community has come together to form a coalition that is already taking important steps to degrade and defeat ISIL, or Daesh," Kerry said from NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday.
“Daesh is still perpetrating terrible crimes, but there was a consensus that the momentum which it had exhibited two and a half months ago has been halted," he added.
The Huffington Post explains:
"Daesh" is an acronym for the Arabic phrase meaning the "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" (though the last word can also be translated as "Damascus" or "Levant"), and it is thought to offend the extremist group because it sounds similar to an Arabic word for crushing something underfoot.
Daesh in Arabic "sounds like something monstrous. ... It's a way of stigmatizing [the Islamic State], making it something ugly," Joseph Bahout, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told The Huffington Post.
France began using the term in September and urged others to do the same.
"This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. "The Arabs call it 'Daesh' and I will be calling them the 'Daesh cutthroats'."
Clearly, and perhaps in an attempt to disassociate Islam from the Islamic State, Kerry has taken note. Whether it will actually change anything is another story.
“Shattered Glass,” a film starring Hayden Christensen, recounts the journalism career of Stephen Glass. Adored by colleagues for his creativity and ambition, the New Republic writer seemed to have a promising future. Unfortunately, much of that originality he brought to each editorial meeting, was a lie. He had fabricated dozens of articles. As a result, he was promptly fired and thereafter scorned by the Fourth Estate.
Then, we have Sabrina Rubin Erdely of Rolling Stone. Her life has not been made into a movie, but the script would be just as compelling as her career seems to be heading in the same direction. She is currently under fire for botching a story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. Among other omissions, Erdely failed to contact the alleged rapists and her report was very critical of both the fraternity and the school. Taking the report very seriously, the university suspended all fraternities. Following heavy criticism of her biased, one-sided reporting, however, Erdely retracted the piece.
What do these two cases of botched journalism have in common? Well, it seems birds of a fabricated feather flock together. You see, Erdely worked under Glass when she contributed to the UPenn newspaper. In a case of sheer irony, Glass once disciplined Erdely out for submitting a story she had made up, according to The Federalist. A 2006 book entitled “Penn in Ink” details the encounter (Erdely’s last name at the time was Rubin):
Sabrina Rubin, who says she and the rest of the editorial board “adored” [Stephen Glass], puts it another way: “There are reporters who get ahead because they’re great schmoozers, and I think Steve was definitely one of them.” When he became the paper’s executive editor, the editorial board hailed him as a “man of principle,” and in her Philadelphia Magazine piece, Rubin describes how Glass threw a righteous fit when she and a colleague concocted a funny and obviously made-up travel story for 34th Street–going so far as to call an emergency session of the [Daily Pennsylvanian's] Alumni Association board to apprise them of the transgression.
So, Erdely was once berated for making up a story by one of journalism’s most famous fabricators. Maybe it was destiny?
Fabrication not only puts an editor’s job at risk, it puts subjects' lives at risk. Thanks to Erdely's shoddy journalism, Jackie, the woman who came forward to Rolling Stone with her story, no matter how true it was, is dealing with the fact that the magazine's botched reporting has become a bigger story, and the young men accused of rape now have to live with these accusations for the rest of their lives.
Shamefully, Erdely still has her job. Let's hope, like Glass, she doesn't get her happy ending.
Primary care doctors caring for low-income patients will face steep fee cuts next year as a temporary program in President Barack Obama's health care law expires. That could squeeze access just when millions of new patients are gaining Medicaid coverage. A study Wednesday from the nonpartisan Urban Institute estimated fee reductions will average about 40 percent nationwide. But they could reach 50 percent or more for primary care doctors in California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois — big states that have all expanded Medicaid under the health law. Meager pay for doctors has been a persistent problem for Medicaid, the safety-net health insurance program. Low-income people unable to find a family doctor instead flock to hospital emergency rooms, where treatment is more expensive and not usually focused on prevention.
Doctors probably won't dump their current Medicaid patients, but they'll take a hard look at accepting new ones, said Dr. Robert Wergin, a practitioner in rural Milford, Neb., and president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "You are going to be paid less, so you are going to have to look at your practice and find ways to eke it out," Wergin said.
Medicaid covers more than 60 million people, making the federal-state program even larger than Medicare. The health care law has added about 9 million people to the Medicaid rolls, as 27 states have taken advantage of an option that extends coverage to many low-income adults. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell says expanding Medicaid in the remaining 23 states is one of her top priorities. But the fee cut could make that an even harder sell, since it may reinforce a perception that the federal government creates expensive new benefits only to pass the bill to states.
A former director of the Congressional Budget Office is predicting a rough tax season as a result of new provisions going into effect from the 2010 health care overhaul. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who was head of the CBO from 2003 to 2005 and is currently president of the American Action Forum, said Dec. 5 that the Affordable Care Act's subsidy payments made for 2014 are unlikely to have been accurate, which means some people will have to reimburse the government for over-payments. Holtz-Eakin spoke at a forum sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on what the next Republican Congress will do on health care. The 2015 tax filing season “is going to be a disaster,” he warned, adding that the result may be more traction in Congress for major changes to the law.
Too often gun owners forget that defensive gun use is about saving lives. BearingArms.com's editor Bob Owens reports for the December issue of Townhall Magazine.
In August, I had a chance to attend a 250 Pistol class at Gunsite Academy near Paulden, Arizona.
The class, created by the legendary Col. Jeff Cooper, is billed as the Gunsite experience, and it doesn’t disappoint.
In the five days and one night I was there, I learned more about fighting with a handgun than I had learned in my entire life up to that point. That makes perfect sense, considering that virtually every reputable handgun training school in the world traces its lineage to the “Harvard of Handguns” where Cooper laid out The Modern Technique of the Pistol.
One of the lessons driven home during the week of shooting was the concept of “shooting to stop the threat.”
The veteran cadre of instructors hammered this idea home time and time again. It is an incredibly important concept that may end up being the difference between saving your life in a legally justifiable manner and committing a felony crime that might send you to prison for the rest of your life.
On paper, it is a relatively simple concept.
Jurisdictions across the country recognize the notion of a basic human right to use lethal force in order to defend against a proximate, immediate, and lethal threat to yourself or others. The force used to counter the threat must be proportional—you can’t use lethal force to repeal a non-lethal threat—and the use of lethal force must terminate the instant that the threat of lethal force against you (or another) ends.
Some people seem to have a hard time grasping the concept.
It seems that often when I read an article about a defensive gun where the criminal survives the encounter, someone blusters in the comments that if they were in that same situation, they would shoot to kill, or that they would keep shooting until they were sure that the attacker was dead.
I always hope these commenters have several hundred thousand dollars in the bank for a good defense attorney, and that they are comfortable with the idea of going to prison if they are prosecuted.
They seem to have lost sight of the goal of using a firearm for self-defense.
The goal of using a handgun in a deadly force encounter is to protect yourself or others. Survival, saving your life, is the goal. The goal isn’t to kill the other person. The goal is to make them stop their deadly attack.
If they stop attacking when you mention that you are about to draw a gun, that is considered a victory.
If they stop attacking when they see you in possession of a firearm, by far the most common type of defensive gun use, then that is a victory.
If they stop attacking because you’ve fired and missed, that is a victory.
If they stop attacking because you fired a shot that hit them but did not kill them, that is also a victory.
If they stop attacking only because you have fired a shot that ends the attacker’s life, then that should be nothing more or less than an unfortunate byproduct of their decision to continue an assault on a good person who had no other choice but to use effective lethal force to save their own life.
Again: Killing is never the goal. Surviving the encounter and defending lives is the goal.
“So if surviving is the goal,” you may wonder, “why do we go to shooting schools like Gunsite? Why do we train to become proficient with firearms? Aren’t we training to kill?”
Actually, you aren’t. You’re training to save lives, and the better trained you are, the less likely you are to have to use lethal force. It may sound paradoxical at first, but it is actually a well-established truth.
When someone is well trained, confident, and competent with carrying a firearm for self-defense, they tend to have much greater situational awareness than the average person, and they also have much more confidence and competence.
The combination of situational awareness, confidence, and competence greatly reduces the likelihood that you will ever put yourself in a situation where you will be the victim of a crime of opportunity. After all, your training will serve to both help you become aware of avoidable situations before they happen, and give you a noticeable alertness and confidence that signals to predators that you are not the easy prey they seek.
In those rare instances where we can’t avoid a lethal force threat, we train to stop the threat.
We are shooting not so that others may die, but so that we may live. •
It doesn't take long to realize why Congressman Bill Flores was elected to represent Texas. He oozes the traditional characteristics that make up the Lone Star state. One of six children with a father in the military, he started delivering papers at age 10 and then worked on a ranch in Stratford, Texas. His conservative, blue collar roots have paved the way for his chairmanship of the conservative haven in the House.
As newly elected Chair of the Republican Study Committee, Flores led with 84 votes among RSC members against opponent Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). The committee, which was started in 1973 is a hub for conservative thinking inside the House of Representatives.
Rep. Flores sat down for an interview to tell Townhall his vision for the RSC. See the interview here:
Flores won his third-term to Congress in November and had support for the chairmanship from Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was chair of the RSC during the 113th Congress.
Scalise congratulated Flores in a press release:
"I congratulate Bill Flores today on being elected by our colleagues to serve as the next Chairman of the Republican Study Committee,” Rep. Scalise said. “As the conservative conscience of the House, I am confident that under Bill’s leadership, RSC will continue to unite our Conference around our shared conservative principles of greater opportunity for all Americans through lower taxes, controlled Washington spending, and more individual freedom."
Flores broke down five issues he believes members of the RSC will be taking the lead on during the 114th Congress:
"We need to provide economic opportunity for hardworking American families, we need to have a strong national defense and improve our national security, we need to balance our federal budget...We also need to limit the federal government to its Constitutional role, and then we need to protect traditional family values, " said Flores.
As Chair of the RSC, Flores will be mediating between RSC members and House leadership to advance the conservative agenda. He wants to ensure that conservatives are working together to protect the traditional values he and many of the American people hold dear.
Late Thursday night the House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion spending package. Although the legislation takes minor steps to limit funding for Homeland Security through February, the legislation does not take immediate steps to defund President Obama's recent executive action on illegal immigration. More from Heritage:
The $1.1 trillion, 1,603-page (update 1,764-page) bill would fund most of the federal government through September 30, 2015 while extending funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until February 27, 2015. Importantly, the bill does nothing to block President Obama’s unilateral, unlawful actions which include granting quasi-legal status, work permits and Social Security numbers to those who are in the country illegally.
The spending bill has moved over to the Senate side and will be debated Friday and possibly into the weekend. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, a long-time outspoken opponent of President Obama's executive illegal immigration policies and changes, is vowing to fight "harder than ever" to get funding stripped immediately.
“For the sake of the Constitution and our constituents, Congress should fund the government but not fund the President’s unlawful amnesty. In plain violation of law, the President’s order gives amnesty and work permits to 5 million illegal immigrants – allowing them to take jobs directly from struggling Americans. Unfortunately, not only has Congress so far not attempted any effective action to block the President’s amnesty, but the legislation that passed tonight funds through September of next year many policies that the House itself rejected only a few months ago. In effect, the omnibus provides the Administration with billions of dollars to carry out President Obama’s resettlement plan for illegal immigrants in U.S. communities. The legislation also continues to allow the recipients of the President’s amnesty to receive billions of dollars in government checks in the form of tax credits and to participate in programs through myriad government agencies such as Social Security and Medicare," Sessions released in a statement. "The American people are justly worried about their jobs, their schools, and their communities. They have rightly demanded a lawful system of immigration that serves their interests – not the special interests. They have correctly pleaded with their lawmakers to finally adopt immigration policies that put their needs – the needs of American citizens – first. So, to them I say: we are only just beginning. We are going to fight harder than we ever have before."
Based on past statements, Sessions will likely find an ally in the fight against President Obama's executive action on illegal immigration with Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who called on the House more than a week ago to strip the now passed spending bill of amnesty funding.
Last night the House passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill in a last ditch effort to keep the government open but not before Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor to criticize the White House.
In a rare moment of public splintering among Democrats, Pelosi said she was "very disappointed" in President Obama's decision to move forward with the legislation and objected to language in the package that she claims weakens important financial restrictions in Dodd-Frank.
“I'm enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a bill is to go along with this and that would be the only reason they would sign such a bill that would weaken 'a critical component of financial system reform aimed at reducing taxpayer risk.' Those are the words in the administration's statement," Pelosi said on the House floor.
More details on Pelosi's objections from The Hill:
Liberal Democrats are up in arms over two GOP amendments to the sweeping year-end spending bill. The first would undo parts of the Democrats' 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law; the second would allow wealthy donors to give a great deal more money to political parties.
Pelosi and the Democrats have panned those inclusions, arguing that, not only are they bad policies, but they have no business in a government spending bill.
Obama disagrees. In a statement issued Thursday, the White House said it would back the spending package despite reservations over the controversial provisions.
The $1.1 trillion package is now waiting for approval in the Senate, where lawmakers have given themselves two extra days of government funding to get the bill passed.
Several news outlets seeking to vet the Democratic Party’s most prominent presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, have encountered some difficulties. According to the Associated Press, the State Department is stonewalling several media organizations who have requested government documents pertaining to Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.
The Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 1966 by then president Lyndon B. Johnson, stipulates that:
“any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.”
When the State Department failed to disclose documents to Citizens United, pursuant with the law, the non-profit organization filed a FOIA lawsuit against the State Department on Wednesday. The organization's president, David Bossie, explained:
"As Citizens United conducts pre-production research for the sequel to Hillary The Movie, the State Department has stonewalled our request for public records on official taxpayer-funded travel overseas.The American people have a right to know who accompanied Secretary Clinton on these trips. Were there any big political contributors to previous or future Clinton campaigns on board? Were there any Clinton Foundation financial supporters on board? These are important questions that need to be answered, especially considering the allegations that arose regarding Commerce Department trade missions during the Clinton Administration in the 1990s.”
According to the AP, the State Department has also been avoiding its FOIA requests for years:
The AP requested copies of Clinton's full schedules and calendars from her four years as secretary of state; her department's decision to grant a special position for longtime aide Huma Abedin; Clinton's and the agency's roles in the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices; and her role overseeing a major Defense Department contractor. The AP made most of its requests last summer, although one was filed in March 2010.
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach claimed that the department's negligence was due to the estimated 19,000 FOIA requests it receives annually.
Whether the stonewalling was the result of dereliction of duty, or of secrecy, remains to be seen.
Right now, the final vote has been delayed since it's unclear if there are enough votes to pass it.
For those of you just tuning in: The federal government is less than 6 hours from a potential shutdown and no resolution on Capitol Hill.— Ed O'Keefe (@edatpost) December 11, 2014
As both sides maneuver on votes, Conn reported earlier today that the White House is trying to move fellow Democrats into the ‘yea’ column of the spending measure, which has some Democrats, like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a little irked. So, what if this bill fails to pass? What’s the secondary protocol? It'll probably be a short-term continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown (via National Journal):
But the approps talks lingered. Unrest grew in the House. And some Sen Rs quietly urged House to just cast aside approps and do a short CR— Robert Costa (@costareports) December 11, 2014
GOP leaders are considering a fallback plan to bring up a shorter continuing resolution if the larger bill fails to pass Thursday.
That fallback measure could last just until next week, offering GOP leaders time to formulate a new strategy. Or, one Republican aide said, it could last a full three months and push the entire spending package into the 114th Congress, when the party will control both chambers of Congress.
"We expect the bill to pass with bipartisan support today, but if it does not, we will pass a short-term CR to avoid a government shutdown," Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, said Thursday morning. "The length and other details of that bill have not been determined."
Boehner was more dramatic later Thursday morning, telling reporters: "If we don't get finished today, we're going to be here until Christmas. You all know how this process works."
Thursday's rule vote was a barometer of how much trouble party whips will have in corralling the votes to pass the omnibus. House Republicans are predicting that floor action will be finished by early afternoon, including a vote on a two-day continuing resolution to keep the government open through the weekend so the Senate can complete its work. (If the omnibus fails, then the House would move a CR that lasts longer than two days.)
The White House gave the omnibus bill a key boost Thursday, announcing that the Obama administration supports its passage despite "the inclusion of ideological and special interest riders" as well as the decision to offer only short-term funding for the Department of Homeland Security. That cover from President Obama should make it easier for at least some congressional Democrats to back the measure. The White House has also been calling House Democrats about the bill, according to sources.
Yet, the article also reported that about 70 House Republicans plan to vote against the bill since it does nothing to block Obama’s executive action on immigration.
And while the White House provided some cover, some Democrats are disregarding it, like Rep. Maxine Waters.
Maxine Waters: We're fighting anybody lobbying for this bill including the President. #CRomnibus— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) December 11, 2014
Rep Waters on fighting Obama: We don't like it and we're telling our members don't be intimidated by anybody. #Cromnibus— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) December 11, 2014
Yet, while Waters is vocal in her opposition of the bill–and President Obama’s lobbying of it–a press release from Speaker Boehner’s Office showed that she was for the Dodd-Frank reforms before she was against them [emphasis added by Boehner’s Office, italicized text part of minority views section]:
Some Democrats are decrying the inclusion of a common-sense Dodd-Frank reform in the FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill – a bipartisan, House-passed reform that would protect manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and Main Street businesses from onerous regulations that will hurt our economy. Yet those same members, including former Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) and current Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) once supported the very same provision. Here’s what they said in 2012, in the “minority views” section of the committee report for this same bill:
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires, for the first time, the regulation of over-the-counter derivatives, previously opaque transactions that helped bring our financial system to the brink of disaster. The vast majority of derivatives must now be centrally cleared and publicly reported, and be backed by margin and capital to ensure that swap dealers and major swap users can honor their commitments. In addition, the reform law also prohibits banks from placing bets with federally insured deposits through the `Volcker Rule'. Both measures serve as important safeguards as we rebuild trust in our financial system.
As amended, H.R. 1838 would repeal portions of Section 716 of the financial reform law, also known as the `push-out provision.' Section 716 prohibits banks from engaging in several types of derivatives. Questions have been raised about this provision by economists and regulators including FDIC's Sheila Bair, who are concerned that it might interfere with a bank's ability to use derivatives to diminish risk. Section 716 was not part of the original House-passed version of the financial reform law.
During the Full Committee markup, Democrats worked with the Majority to amend H.R. 1838 to continue the prohibition of complex swaps employed by AIG with devastating effect. H.R. 1838, as amended, addresses the valid criticisms of Section 716 without weakening the financial reform law's important derivative safeguards or prohibitions on bank proprietary trading.
Wm. Lacy Clay
James A. Himes
Gary L. Ackerman
Stephen F. Lynch
Carolyn B. Maloney
Melvin L. Watt
Luis V. Gutierrez
Gary C. Peters
Michael E. Capuano
Gregory W. Meeks
Regardless, we’re less than six hours away from a government shutdown–and the clock is ticking.
Sen Rs priv say they are watching House and cringing. Worry House R ldrs don't have necessary political capital/whip strength now & for '15— Robert Costa (@costareports) December 11, 2014
I asked a Republican congressman what's going to happen. He said he had no idea and started asking me what I knew.— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) December 11, 2014
UPDATE: Well, the Cromnibus passed 219-206 (via Roll Call):
The House narrowly advanced a trillion-dollar spending bill Thursday night to fund nearly all federal operations through the end of the fiscal year.Now, it's off to the Senate.
The measure passed 219-206 and now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers have just a few hours to avert a government shutdown; funding runs out at 11:59 p.m.
Sixty-seven Republicans joined 139 Democrats voting “no,” a volume of opposition ultimately not great enough to stymie the bill that was, by all accounts, controversial — even for those who voted “yes.”
The outcome was even more of a win for GOP leaders than it might have been otherwise: Earlier in the day they were forced to postpone the vote indefinitely to make up for a shortfall on both sides of the aisle.
Following passage of the cromnibus, the House passed by unanimous consent a two-day continuing resolution to allow the Senate to pass the spending package as early as Friday morning but not have funding lapse in the meantime.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says they will vote on the spending bill "as soon as possible"— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 12, 2014
Despite international attempts to rein in terror, jihadists conducted 664 attacks that killed 5,042 people in 14 countries. If that wasn’t shocking enough, they did so in just one month’s time, a new report by the BBC World Service and King’s College London found.
Analyzing data from November 2014, the groups discovered that Islamic extremism is “stronger than ever.”
The Islamic State was the most deadly group, killing more than 2,000 people, followed by Boko Haram, the Taliban, AQAP, and Al Shabaab. Roughly 80 percent of the killings were done in just four countries—Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. On the whole, most of the casualties were civilians, although this varied by geographic location.
Civilians bore the brunt of the attacks with a total of 2,079 killed, followed by 1,723 military personnel.
But the proportions varied significantly between countries. In Nigeria, almost 700 civilians were killed, at least 57 of them children, whereas just 28 deaths were from the military.
In contrast, in Syria and Afghanistan, more than twice as many military personnel died as civilians.
Of the 146 police officers who died, 95 were in Afghanistan. Politicians and other officials were also targets in Afghanistan, and in Somalia, where 22 were killed.
Jihadists themselves were also killed in large numbers: 935 died in clashes or by blowing themselves up.
“Less than four years ago, jihadism – then predominantly in the form of al Qaeda – was widely believed to be dead or dying,” said Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College. “Yet, as a result of opportunities created by the Arab Spring and the sense of momentum and excitement generated by groups like the Islamic State, jihadists now seem to be stronger and more active than ever.”
He continued: “This shows that jihadism is a global movement, that global movements don’t just disappear, and that ideas and ideologies can’t be eliminated through drone strikes – however effective those tactics may have been in decimating al Qaeda’s leadership.”
Based on the global snapshot the groups produced, Neumann said it’s evident the Islamic State “has rivaled – if not replaced – al Qaeda as the leader of global jihadism.”
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