In short, Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations revealed some disturbing information yesterday to the media: poorly buried and recently discovered cadavers in his home country are reportedly missing their organs. The AP reports:
Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim told reporters that in the last few weeks, bodies with surgical incisions and missing kidneys or other body parts have been found in shallow mass graves.
"We have bodies. Come and examine them," he said. "It is clear they are missing certain parts."
That’s appalling, but not necessarily "uncommon" in war zones an expert told CNN:
The plunder of bodies for usable organs and tissues is widespread, according to Nancy Scheper-Hughes, director of Organs Watch, a University of California, Berkeley-based documentation and research project.
"Organ theft during wars, civil wars, dirty wars, wars involving undisciplined armies is not uncommon," Scheper-Hughes, chair of Berkeley's doctoral program in medical anthropology, said in an email.
The article goes on to explain that since ISIS now controls huge swaths of land as well as airports, there’s nothing stopping them from engaging in human trafficking worldwide. And since selling human organs can be a lucrative enterprise -- and remember, ISIS has an abundance of dead bodies thanks to their sadism -- it’s not a stretch to believe these reports are true. Even if they aren't true, however, ISIS' leadership already has sophisticated methods in place to raise cash.
A study last year found that through hostage negotiations, illegally plundering oil, and robust fundraising efforts online the terrorist group is able to properly and generously care for their “employees.” Inevitably, these perks, as the president said yesterday, draw disillusioned and hopeless young people into their army.
Still, it’s not confirmed yet if ISIS is actually selling their victims’ organs to deepen their pockets. But if and when these rumors turn out to be true, it will perhaps signal a major shift in strategy: ISIS is no longer killing for sport and to intimidate, but rather to provide a steady stream of revenue for their apocalyptic empire.
Recently, Americans for Prosperity launched a massive campaign to urge President Obama not to veto the Keystone XL Pipeline project. They’ve mobilized 2.3 million of their grassroots activists to call the White House switchboard.
Via their press release:
Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s largest grassroots advocate for economic freedom, is launching a major effort directed at President Obama urging him to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. The effort includes directing their over 2.3 million activists to call the White House switchboard and ask the President not to veto the bill.
“The Keystone pipeline has been approved by the House, the Senate, and has passed environmental review. The project would create much needed jobs right away. Vetoing this legislation would mean putting special interests and ideology above American workers. We ask President Obama to do the right thing and approve the Keystone plan,” said AFP President Tim Phillips.
AFP said their efforts will include directing hundreds of calls into the White House switchboard, organizing online activism, and digital advertising.
Passage of the Keystone XL Pipeline is part of a list of top policy priorities unveiled last month when AFP launched Reform America 2015. The agenda includes a set of goals that the organization will advance in the coming months, including achievable reforms to health care, energy, and the federal budget. AFP, which has chapters in 34 states, has said it will engage its robust network of activists to push for policy reforms outlined in the Reform America 2015 plan.
So far, at least a couple thousand have already been patched through. In January of 2014, the Keystone Pipeline project was given a clean bill of health by the State Department, who reported that the project had “no major environmental concerns," though it wasn't viewed as a decision document (via AP):
The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval Friday, a serious blow to environmentalists' hopes that President Barack Obama will block the controversial project running more than 1,000 miles from Canada through the heart of the U.S.
The State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline, which has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. — as well as Canada's minister of natural resources — cheered the report, but it further rankled environmentalists already at odds with Obama and his energy policy.
The report stops short of recommending approval of the pipeline, but the review gives Obama new support if he chooses to endorse it in spite of opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups. Foes say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming, and they also express concern about possible spills.
The 1,179-mile pipeline would travel through the heart of the United States, carrying oil derived from tar sands in western Canada to a hub in Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. It would cross Montana and South Dakota before reaching Nebraska. An existing spur runs through Kansas and Oklahoma to Texas.
Access to energy is becoming a more salient issue by the day. In Washington State, two bills have been put forward that would eliminate coal power. Environmentalist groups are complaining that the bills give too long a timetable for coal plants to close their doors (via NYT):
Lawmakers hoping to wean Washington State off coal power are trying to ease the way for the state’s utilities to end the electricity they get from coal.
Bills in the House and Senate would set favorable conditions for three private utilities if they decided to shut down a large coal-fired power plant in eastern Montana that provides power to a chunk of the Pacific Northwest.
Supporters say the proposal gives the utilities the tools to begin divesting from coal power plants, including a way to issue bonds for a shutdown.
But the Sierra Club and other critics say the proposal removes too much utility oversight, sets too long a timeline for closing a power plant and does not ensure that coal power would be replaced by something cleaner.
For the past few years, members of George Washington University's LGBTQ organization Allied in Pride have put on a drag show with members of GWU's Greek community in order to raise money for The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBT youth. However, this tradition is no more: This year, the drag show has been canceled due to complaints from students that it was "homophobic" and "counterproductive."
Personally, I don't see how something that has raised over a thousand dollars in the past is "counterproductive," but to each his own.
From Campus Reform:
Despite its success in the past, students removed the drag competition from this year’s “Allied in Greek Week” after participants labeled the event “homophobic.”
“We had some fun before, but let’s use our resources to amp up education, raise awareness and raise money for charity,” Allied in Pride president Robert Todaro told the GW Hatchet. “The point is to celebrate our similarities and our diverse identities, not to offend people.”
Instead, Todaro and his cohorts replaced the drag show with educational programming aimed at reducing misconceptions about LGBTQ Greek life members.
“[C]ommunities will benefit greatly from increased opportunities for education,” Tim Stackhouse, president of GW’s Interfraternity Council, told the Hatchet.
Throughout the week, members of Allied in Pride visited a number of fraternity and sorority houses to deliver educational pamphlets and answer questions about GW’s LGBTQ community.
Nick Gumas, former chair of Allied in Pride, was upset with the characterization of the event as homophobic and explained that drag queens had an important place in LGBT history.
“Drag queens were instrumental in starting the Stonewall Riots in 1969, sparking the modern LGBTQ rights movement, so the notion that a drag event is homophobic is not based in historical facts."
This seems to be an overzealous attempt to make sure nobody's feelings are hurt. Video coverage of last year's event was overwhelmingly positive, and participants went out of their way to explain their respect for the LGBT community on campus and their desire to promote inclusivity. That is the polar opposite of anything that remotely could be construed as "homophobic." It's a shame that GWU (and the charity that would have benefited) loses out on what seemed like a fun event due to overly sensitive students.
For years labor unions have been lobbying lawmakers in Washington D.C. and all around the country to raise the minimum wage. In particular, labor unions have made Walmart enemy number one, accusing the company of unfair pay practices and has repeatedly tried to unionize workers.
Today, Walmart announced that by 2016 the minimum wage paid to workers in its stores will be increased to $10. In other words, the company has voluntarily raised wages, not because the government or labor unions forced them to, but because they think it's the best thing for business.
"Beginning in April, Walmart U.S. will increase its starting rate to $9 an hour or higher. By February 2016, all current associates will make $10 an hour or higher. Additionally, Walmart is piloting an onboarding and training program that will create clear career paths for associates so they know what is expected of them in order to move from entry level positions to jobs with more responsibility and pay $15 an hour or more," a statement released by Walmart Thursday says. "Walmart’s new associate initiatives were announced in conjunction with the company’s fourth-quarter and fiscal year-end 2015 earnings results. Walmart reported fourth quarter underlying earnings per share of $1.61. The company’s fourth quarter U.S. comp sales increased 1.5 percent, while consolidated revenue for the full fiscal year reached $485.7 billion."
Research Director at the Employment Policies Institute Michael Saltsman is applauding the voluntary increase, but is warning against using Walmart's move as a reason to mandate a minimum wage hike for others. He's also pointing out the devastating effect government mandated minimum wage hikes have on small business.
"Walmart’s decision to increase its store minimum wage to $10 an hour exemplifies how wages rise in a free economy: by choice, not by government mandate. Just because a $10 minimum wage is the right choice for Walmart, however, does not mean it should be mandated for all other businesses, regardless of industry or size," The rash of recent small business closures in San Francisco as a consequence of the city’s recently-passed 36 percent minimum wage hike highlights the folly of raising wages by fiat."
Not surprisingly, pro-labor union groups still aren't satisfied.
“The company is addressing the very issues that we have been raising about the low pay and erratic scheduling, and acknowledging how many of us are being paid less than $10 an hour, and many workers like me, are not getting the hours we need," Organization United for Respect at Walmart Leader Emily Wells said in a statement. "Especially without a guarantee of getting regular hours, this announcement still falls short of what American workers need to support our families. With $16 billion in profits and $150 billion in wealth for the owners, Walmart can afford to provide the good jobs that Americans need – and that means $15 an hour, full-time, consistent hours and respect for our hard work.”
I'll leave you with this:
Meet Claudine McKenzi, a woman who has been working at Walmart for 17 years. McKenzi started her work at the company as a part-time sales clerk trying to provide a good living for her son, she was pregnant at the time she was hired. Now, McKenzi is a store manager, has another child, a bachelors degree and is working on her master's degree, all thanks to the opportunities Walmart has provided her as a reward for her hard work.
In a video recently released by the National Retail Federation McKenzi details her journey and expresses her gratitude to the company for its support of not just her work, but of her family and personal education goals.
Voters in three key swing states that President Obama won twice not only widely disapprove of Obama's job as president, but they give him no credit for the improving economy and overwhelmingly want to "change direction" from Obama's policies.
"By margins of 24 points or higher, voters say they want the next president to change direction and not follow President Obama's policies," Quinnipiac Poll assistant director Peter Brown said in a release.
The Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia was conducted from February 5th through the 15th and was released Thursday.
"One reason for this seems to be that while voters in all three states say their state economy is excellent or good, and many say their personal financial situation is improving, more think Obama's policies have hurt rather than helped the economy," Brown added.
Voters in all three states have every reason to believe Obama's policies have hindered, not helped, the recovery. Falling gas prices have been a key component of recent economic growth and Obama did everything in his power to raise gas prices, not lower them. Obama's bailout of Wall Street banks came at the expense of millions of homeowners who found it harder to get out of debt and a recent study found that Obama's unemployment insurance extension cost the economy 1.8 million jobs.
Looking ahead, voters in all three states are also highly skeptical of Obama's free community college plan as well. Colorado voters oppose the plan 49 - 46 percent, Iowa voters oppose the plan 55 - 40 percent, and in Virginia voters oppose the plan 51 - 45 percent.
Other results from the poll include:
State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki will be moving back to White House to head up President Obama's communications team, rounding out the final two years of his presidency. From AP:
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki will become President Barack Obama's new communications director, filling a key slot as Obama embarks on the final two years of his presidency, White House officials said Thursday.
She replaces veteran Democratic media strategist Jennifer Palmieri, who is leaving the White House to join Hillary Rodham Clinton's likely presidential campaign. Psaki will step into her new role April 1.
In a statement, Obama embraced Palmieri as a "good friend" friend and praised her as a "brilliant and effective communications director and trusted adviser."
"I'd say Jen is irreplaceable - if Jen Psaki hadn't agreed to step in," Obama said. "I fully trust Jen - and I am thrilled she's agreed to come back to the White House as communications director."
Psaki has confirmed the news via Twitter:
Psaki has been at the State Department since President Obama was re-elected in 2012 and her tenure has been embroiled in controversy following the 9/11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the rise of Islamic terror around the world. Prior to her time at the State Department, she worked on the Obama For America campaign team and in the White House.
As noted by AP, Obama's current communication's director is leaving to join Hillary Clinton's pending 2016 run for president.
The resolution presented by Republican Del. Brenda Pogge stated that a “cordial and mutually beneficial relationship” between Virginia and Israel should be encouraged, and also laid out the case for “Israel’s legal, historical, moral, and God-given right of...self-governance and self-defense throughout the entirety of its land.” The resolution passed by a wide margin of 70-2, with a large number of Democrat members choosing to sit out from the vote by leaving the chamber. The two votes against the resolution came from Democrats Vivian Watts and Scott Surovell.
Babies are not trash. Yet, if you took one step into facilities such as the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood, you’d see how thoughtlessly aborted children were treated once the deed was done.
This is a direct quote from Marianne Anderson, a former Planned Parenthood nurse. Her testimony is frightening and - I must warn you – graphic:
"I saw other doctors come into the products of conception room with the dirty instruments in one hand and a jar in the other. In that jar were the pieces of the baby's body. He would take the contents of that jar, pour it into a big strainer, sift through it to make sure all the parts were there, and then pour it down the drain into the sewer system without treating it in any way.”
Anderson is one of several witnesses who took the stand at a hearing Wednesday in Indiana ahead of a vote on Senate Bill 329, the Fetal Remains Bill. This legislation would help to prevent the type of inhumane disposal the nurse described. After listening to her comments, along with several other abortion clinic workers and post-abortive women, the senators voted in favor of the bill, with a tally of 9-2.
From Indiana Right to Life:
Today a bill regarding the disposal of aborted fetal remains passed the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee. Senate Bill 329, authored by Sens. Liz Brown (District 15) and Amanda Banks (District 17), requires the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to adopt clear rules for how abortion facilities shall dispose of fetal remains. The bill also provides that a pregnant woman shall determine the final deposition of the fetal remains.
The pro-life organization was following and live tweeting the hearing as it unfolded. It appeared that at one point an abortion worker claimed she saw babies being treated like trash:
Former PP nurse testifying she personally witnessed aborted babies flushed down the toilet.— IN Right to Life (@irtl) February 18, 2015
Perhaps just as unsettling, were the arguments the other side was trying to make. Here was one shameful suggestion from the Jewish Community Relations Council, which blatantly ignored all science tells us about conception:
Jewish Community Relations Council says a baby does not become a person until its first breath.— IN Right to Life (@irtl) February 18, 2015
One more excerpt from former Planned Parenthood nurse Anderson’s testimony is worth sharing. Again, I apologize for the graphic nature, but it offers a glimpse of just how desensitized abortionists have become to the tiny lives they are ending.
“I often heard one doctor talk to the aborted baby while looking for all the parts. It is a customary procedure to make certain there are no baby body parts left inside the mother. He would say 'Come on, little arm, I know you're here! Now you stop hiding from me!' It just made me sick to my stomach.”
Hopefully this bill helps to restore some humanity to our most helpless.
Senate Bill 334 also passed the Indiana Senate Health and Provider Services Committee. This legislation would prohibit gender and disability abortions, forbidding a mother to abort her child because of its sex or because it was diagnosed with a disability such as Down syndrome.
Both bills need to pass the Senate to advance.
Earlier this week during an event with new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Vice President Joe Biden took the opportunity to get handsie with Carter's wife. This isn't a first for Biden, who has a history of inappropriate hugging, caressing, touching and overall invasion of personal space. Thanks to the Washington Free Beacon, we have a compilation. Warning: It might give you the creeps.
Respecting personal space, and the wives of other men, is certainly something Joe Biden should look into learning about. He should also look up the definition of sexual harassment.
Open border activist Rep. Luis Guitierrez is calling Republicans racist and xenophobic for opposing illegal immigration. He's also attacking U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanan for issuing an injunction against President Obama's executive action on illegal immigration.
"It is mean and xenophobic," Guiterrez said during an interview on The Kelly File Wednesday. "I believe that this judge is going to get an atta' boy when he goes back to his country club, what a great job."
The key part of the interview is when Guitierrez refuses to address the question about President Obama saying repeatedly for years that he didn't have the authority to change immigration law via executive order.