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BillClinton

Excessive old baggage….
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When Hillary Clinton formally announces her presidential bid–likely in the next month–some of her supporters would prefer that Bill Clinton not be by her side because his “unnecessary baggage” may overshadow her once again.

According to a Politico report, “another source of disagreement among Clinton supporters is what role Bill Clinton should play on announcement day.”

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carry

Best backup without law enforcement.
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FBI director James Comey testified in front of a House panel on Wednesday to discuss the agency’s 2016 budget, but he ended up making a profound point about the issue of concealed carry.

At the end of the two-hour budget hearing, Texas U.S. Rep. John Culberson, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Justice, asked Comey about the nature of his interactions with legal concealed carry permit holders.

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bowe_bergdahl

White house still thinks it was a great swap though.
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Earlier this week the U.S. Army officially announced desertion charges for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was traded by the Obama administration for five Taliban commanders last summer after five years in captivity. Shortly after the prisoner swap, which was celebrated by President Obama with a White House Rose Garden ceremony, Bergdahl’s platoon mates started to publicly come forward with desertion allegations. They were quickly dismissed and smeared by the administration. Now, they’re speaking out about the new charges.

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Harry Reid will not seek reelection

by Rhonda Bauer on March 27, 2015

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harry reid

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday morning he will not seek reelection.
check out why:

His departure opens up a top swing seat and deprives Republicans of their hopes to take out the Democratic leader.

“I have had time to ponder and to think,” he said in a video released by his office, referring to his recent time off as a result of an injury. “We’ve got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the State of Nevada than us and as a result of that, I’m not going to run for reelection.”

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manatee

Republicans may have found an unconventional argument against tightening regulations on coal-fired power plants: think about the manatees.

The connection between manatees’ well-being and power plants was raised at a hearing last week.

It turns out, in Florida, the endangered manatee population enjoys the warm water that is discharged from the state’s Big Bend Power Station; in fact, a manatee viewing center has been created near the plant. But the power station may have to partially close over new regulations, which could mean no more warm water for the treasured sea cows.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, pressed the director of the Fish and Wildlife Service on the issue at last week’s hearing. Now, his committee plans to send letters to both the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to committee spokesman Parish Braden.

The letters will say that if such a change negatively affects an endangered species — like the manatees — there should be further investigation, under the Endangered Species Act.

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Gun debate heats up in Senate budget battle

by Joyce Lambert on March 27, 2015

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gundebate101

Gun rights groups are rallying their members behind a series of budget measures aimed at strengthening the Second Amendment and restricting gun control efforts.

As the Senate debates the federal government’s 2016 budget, Republicans and gun advocates are pushing for a number of amendments that would expand concealed-carry laws and block the Obama administration from issuing what opponents call a “backdoor” ban on guns.

“We expect more gun-related showdowns in the next 72 hours than in the next nine months combined,” the Gun Owners of America wrote in a message to supporters asking them to call their senators about these issues.

The Senate is looking at a number of various pro-gun amendments that would expand concealed carry laws and block future gun control initiatives.

For instance, an amendment from Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) would block “any legislation that would place further restrictions on the right of law-abiding Americans to own a firearm,” according to the senator’s office.

The amendment would block gun control measures seeking to ban semi-automatic weapons and magazines, and create a national gun registry, unless they have support from two-thirds of senators.

The recent attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to ban certain types of armor-piercing ammunition used in AR-15 rifles is still fresh in the minds of many Republican lawmakers.

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UNC-Visit-landing-3-736x364-550x272

Allowing concealed carry on campus will only perpetuate rape culture, according to the University of North Carolina’s The Daily Tar Heel’s editorial board.

In an editorial published on Monday, the student newspaper criticized the school’s Students for Concealed Carry organization and claimed that the school’s student group “took advantage of the national dialogue on sexual assault to push their own agenda.” According to the editorial board, concealed carry would only further place the blame for sexual assault on victims.

“Like other items on the list of measures that would supposedly prevent attacks, guns would not address the causes of sexual assault,” the editorial board wrote.

“Even worse, they could reinforce rape culture because the burden of stopping assault would be further placed upon women.”

The opinion column also said that allowing concealed carry on campus would also “create the unintended consequence of increased homicides stemming from intimate partner violence.”

“To reduce sexual assault, focus should be maintained on preventative programs that challenge rigid gender roles and promote healthy relationships as well as intervention trainings that teach peers to be active bystanders rather than on measures that will not solve the problem,” the editorial wrote.

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harf

There’s an old adage, often ascribed to Abraham Lincoln, that holds it’s “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” This is advice that Department of State spokeswoman Marie Harf would be wise to heed.

After being ridiculed for suggesting on MSNBC that the key to quelling the passions of the Islamic State is to find jobs for its members, she reappeared, first claiming that her comments were too nuanced for some viewers, which elicited a new round of guffaws, then again to dismiss her critics as “crazy.”

You’d think she’d be ready to cut her losses and move on. Guess again. Just as the uproar over her dimwitted remarks was dying down, Harf turned up on CNN with her latest diagnosis. Her critics, she now insists, are sexist — ageist, too.

Have a listen for yourself. The money quote comes around 1:10:

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As Durable-Goods Orders Fall So Does the GDP

by Daily Policy Digest on March 27, 2015

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Many forecasters estimate the economy downshifted in the first three months of this year in a milder version of last year’s disappointing start.

The latest factor pushing down expectations was a drop in business spending and investment.

  • According to the Commerce Department, orders for durable goods declined a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent in February from a month earlier. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders fell 0.4 percent, the fifth consecutive monthly decline.
  • Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft dropped 1.4 percent from January. That marked the sixth straight monthly decline, which may have been due to lower oil prices hitting demand for oil equipment.
  • U.S. retail sales fell 0.6 percent in February, the third consecutive monthly decline.

The weak performance suggests U.S. companies remain cautious about spending amid weak global demand and a strengthening dollar. Severe winter weather has also likely played a role in recent economic softness, as homebuilders pulled back on new construction and consumers spent less at retailers and restaurants.

  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta on Wednesday put its gauge at an annualized 0.2 Percent, down from its earlier estimate of 0.3 percent.
  • Morgan Stanley economists lowered their estimate for first-quarter growth to an annualized 0.9 percent from an earlier forecast of 1.2 percent, pointing to light inventories and lower exports as weighing on GDP.
  • Barclays economists lowered their projection a tenth of a percentage point to 1.2 percent.
  • The forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers trimmed its estimate down to 1.2 percent from 1.5 percent.
  • J.P. Morgan Chase economists lowered their first-quarter forecast to an annualized 1.5 percent, from 2 percent.

Economists do not expect as big of a slump in output in the first quarter as in 2014, in part because the underlying health of the economy is better than it was a year ago. The fundamentals are stronger than they were last year.

Source: Kate Davidson, "Durable-Goods Orders Fall, Raising Worries Over GDP Growth," Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2015.

For more on Economic Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=17

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Retail Investors May Chase Oil at a Risk

by Daily Policy Digest on March 27, 2015

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Retail investors have organized and become a whale in the oil market. Analysts and certain fund managers warn that the fat returns of the previous decade are over and the long period of tightness in markets from oil to copper that drove these returns, has rumbled to a halt.

  • After withdrawing $50 billion from commodities in 2013 and another $28 billion in 2014, passive investors pumped a net $9.5 billion into commodities through mid-March.
  • A big recipient of these inflows has been Exchange Trade Fund’s tracking oil as prices slumped towards $40 a barrel.
  • The US Oil Fund has absorbed a net $2 billion this year.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index returned more than 10 percent in several of the boom years. In each of the past four years, it has recorded losses. In 2015, the index is down another 3.9 percent.

Commodities traders once enhanced returns by trading around the money flows that accompanied the monthly rolling of futures-based index products such as Exchange Trade-Funds (ETF). Now that easy money has been arbitraged away.

The $36.4 billion Harvard University endowment — a cynosure of the fund management world — this year cut commodities’ price of its target portfolio to zero, down from 8 per cent in 2008.

The exit of Harvard comes just as correlations between commodities and equities break down. One barometer of the commodity doldrums is the lack of public outcry over the "speculative investors."

Source: Gregory Meyer, "Oil market’s small fry become big fish," Financial Times, March 26, 2015.

For more on Economic Issues:

http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/?Article_Category=17

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