In the latest of a series of raids, German police have searched two homes in a rural village after a television channel interviewed a suspected Islamic State commander living there as a refugee.
Sankt Johann is a small village in the south west German state, Rhineland-Palatinate. Something of a rural idyll, its 800 residents live between vineyards in the shadow of a 14th century Gothic church. And yet, as SPIEGEL TV reports, this weekend it was the scene of police raids on two Islamic State-linked suspects living in refugee housing.
Prosecutors’ office spokesman Michael Neuhaus said the two men targeted by the operation are “suspected of taking part in the Syrian civil war as members of a foreign terrorist organisation”. He said there were “no immediate indications that a concrete attack was planned” but declined to give any further details.
Two houses in the village are used to house Syrian refugees, but among the opponents of the Assad regime living there SPIEGEL TV tracked down a suspected commander of the Islamic State terror group after tip offs from other Syrian activists. They had identified him as a man called Bassam, a notorious commander said to be responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.
A 32-year-old man, he allegedly fought in the ranks of Islamic State fighters in the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor before leaving via Turkey to seek asylum in Germany. Starting his fighting career with rebel jihadists in Al Kasra, the man in question is understood to have joined Sunni Islamist militias fighting the Syrian Government as part of the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front, before graduating to the even more extreme Salafi jihadists of Islamic State.
His original ambition had been to be a suicide bomber, but his brother had used his position as a Sharia judge to secure him his officer’s role. In late summer last year Bassam was captured at a checkpoint north of Aleppo by Free Syrian Army soldiers following intelligence that he was fleeing to Turkey with tens of thousands of dollars in cash. For reasons unknown he was released after 20 days, with a memory card for a telephone holding masses of Islamic State propaganda but without his money.
Incredibly, German security services were said to have been oblivious to his presence in Germany since last autumn until SPIEGEL TV’s research alerted them to it.
For his part Bassam denies ever being an Islamic State fighter, and says he has nothing more to do with his brother. He also claims to have no idea why he was captured by soldiers from the Free Syrian Army.
For now he wants to concentrate on his professional future, telling SPIEGEL TV: “I want to learn German and work as a cook.”
As Breitbart London recently reported, German security forces have received more than 100 tip-offs that Islamic State fighters may be hiding among migrants currently staying in the country.
An Austrian woman, who’d always instructed her children to have compassion for refugees, did an abrupt about-face after an Iraqi immigrant raped her son whom he’d met at the local public swimming pool.
Dunja, who immigrated to Austria from Serbia during the 1990s, was appalled by the man’s defense to the attack, calling it “just monstrous,” according to the Daily Mail.
Rather than denying the act, the rapist claimed he had “too much sexual energy.”
The 10-year-old victim, named Goran, sustained serious injuries as a result of the attack and was hospitalized. His mother said her son cries himself to sleep every night.
Although the attack took place in December, Dunja only opened up to local media recently. She said she’d arrived in Austria as a refugee from the Serbian civil war and struggled to make ends meet while instructing her five children not to prejudge other people.
But when she’d learned that the Iraqi claimed that he’d had a “sexual emergency,” she regretted her previous advice.
“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that. I come from Serbia, and I spent five years living in a Caritas home together with people from many different nations,” Dunja said.
“You certainly can’t call me a racist, but to try and defend himself in that way is just monstrous. It’s like me saying I’m going to go to a bank tomorrow and rob it because I don’t have enough money for my five children.”
Her thoughts then turned to her son.
“I know that the physical wounds will heal, but the wounds to his soul may never heal,” she told the local media.
Although the attack happened in December, it wasn’t immediately reported to protect the victim.
Dunja explained that her son loved swimming, and on the day of the attack, she gave him three euros so that he could go to the local public swimming pool in Vienna after school.
“He was so happy at having the money, and after school went there straight away so I wasn’t expecting him back home immediately,” Dunja said.
“Three hours after school finished, I got a phone call from him and he was crying into the phone. I couldn’t understand a word he said, but then somebody came on the phone and told me: ‘Please come straight away, your child has been sexually assaulted.’”
The last thing any parent wants to hear.
The Mail reported:
She said that she had rushed there straight away and was devastated when she looked through a glass window and saw her crying child sitting in a room with a man in swimming trunks who had handcuffs on.
She said her sister was with her, and the police had to stop her from attacking the man straight away.
“I don’t want the man to be deported, I want him to be jailed because I have heard what they do to child sex attackers in jail,” Dunja said.
“I want him to experience everything in jail that child sex attackers can experience from the other convicts. And then I want him deported.”
Newly uncovered internal memos reveal the Obama administration knowingly exaggerated charges of racial discrimination in probes of Ally Bank and other defendants in the $900 billion car-lending business as part of a “racial justice” campaign that’s looking more like a massive government extortion and shakedown operation.
So far, Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reached more than $220 million in settlements with several auto lenders since the agency launched its anti-discrimination crusade against the industry in 2013. Several other banks are under active investigation.
That’s despite the fact that the CFPB had no actual complaints of racial discrimination – it was all just based on half-baked statistics.
A confidential 23-page internal report detailing CFPB’s strategy for going after lenders shows why these companies are forking over millions of dollars in restitution and fines to the government despite denying any wrongdoing.
The high-level memo, sent by top CFPB civil-rights prosecutors to the bureau’s director and revealed by a House committee, admits their methods for proving discrimination were seriously flawed from the start and had little chance of holding up in court. Yet they figured they could muscle Ally, as well as future defendants, with threats and intimidation.
“Some of the claims being made in this case present issues, such as use of [race] proxying and reliance on the disparate-impact doctrine, that would pose litigation risks meriting serious consideration prior to taking administrative action or filing suit in district court,” the Oct. 7, 2013, memo addressed to CFPB chief Richard Cordray acknowledges.
“Nevertheless,” it added, “Ally may have a powerful incentive to settle the entire matter quickly without engaging in protracted litigation.”
At the time, the Detroit-based bank was seeking permission from the Federal Reserve to remain a financial holding company. Without regulatory approval, Ally risked losing key business lines, primarily its insurance subsidiaries.
“Protracted litigation” would present “a high hurdle” to Ally retaining such status, the CFPB lawyers conspired.
Prosecutors also sought to use the Community Reinvestment Act as leverage against Ally. At the time, the FDIC was reviewing the bank’s compliance with the anti-redlining law.
They huddled with FDIC and Federal Reserve officials to get them on board with their scheme; and the Fed assured them it would look favorably upon “a prompt and robust” settlement by Ally, while the FDIC confirmed that a quick resolution would help Ally pass its CRA exam.
So CFPB applied the screws to Ally, saying it had “statistical evidence” showing its participating dealers were “marking up” loan prices for blacks and Hispanics vs. whites (by an average of $3 a month). Ally fought back, insisting non-discriminatory factors, such as credit history, down payments, trade-ins, promotions and rate-shopping, explained differences in loan pricing. After conducting a preliminary regression analysis, the bank found these factors alone accounted for at least 70 percent of the “racial disparities” the government was claiming.
CFPB admits in the memo that it never considered these or other legitimate business aspects of the car deals it investigated: “Such factors were excluded as controls from the markup analysis.”
Also in its initial rebuttal, Ally complained CFPB’s entire case was based on “disparate impact” statistics, not actual complaints by consumers, and that those estimates relied on guesswork about the race of the borrowers. (The auto industry does not report borrower race, so CFPB tried to ID race by last name and ZIP code, a so-called “proxy” method that is wildly inaccurate.)
“The evidence of discrimination on the basis of race and national origin is strictly statistical,” the agency confessed in a report footnote.
With all these machinations hidden from public view, Cordray held a press conference to announce “the federal government’s largest auto-loan discrimination settlement in history.” He claimed that 235,000 minorities had been harmed by Ally, even though he didn’t know the race of a single borrower or whether they had actually been harmed.
“He had no idea how many actual victims there were because their whole case rested entirely on statistical estimations they admitted internally were inaccurate,” said a senior staffer for the House Financial Services Committee, which recently obtained the internal documents from CFPB.
In fact, CFPB still has not been able to definitively ID the race of any borrower it claims Ally victimized – which is why it has taken more than two years to send remuneration checks to alleged victims. Desperate to find them, the bureau recently had to mail 420,000 letters to Ally borrowers to coax at least 235,000 into taking the money, and to allow Cordray to save face.
Checks started going out this month to the fictitious victims – just in time for the election. So what if some recipients are white? They will all no doubt thank Democrats for the sudden, unexpected windfall of up to $520 in the mail.
Didn’t Obama say illegal aliens would not be getting subsidies?
Via Fox News:
Illegal immigrants and individuals with unclear legal status wrongly benefited from up to $750 million in ObamaCare subsidies and the government is struggling to recoup the money, according to a new Senate report obtained by Fox News.
The report, produced by Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, examined Affordable Care Act tax credits meant to defray the cost of insurance premiums. It found that as of June 2015, “the Administration awarded approximately $750 million in tax credits on behalf of individuals who were later determined to be ineligible because they failed to verify their citizenship, status as a national, or legal presence.”
President Barack Obama is unveiling his eighth and final budget, a $4 trillion-plus proposal that’s freighted with liberal policy initiatives and new and familiar tax hikes – all sent to a dismissive Republican-controlled Congress that simply wants to move on from his presidency.
The budget will be released Tuesday morning, the same day as the New Hampshire primary when it’s likely to get little attention. It comes as the deficit, which had been falling over the duration of Obama’s two terms, has begun to creep up, above the half-trillion mark.
The White House is countering the worsening deficit outlook with a proposed $10-per barrel tax on oil that would finance “clean” transportation projects. It also is sure to propose taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
Long gone are proposals such as slowing the automatic inflation increase for Social Security benefits and other ideas once aimed at drawing congressional Republicans into negotiations on a broader budget deal.
Now, Obama has broken out a budget playbook filled with ideas sure to appeal to Democrats: A “moonshot” initiative to cure cancer; increasing Pell Grants for college students from low-income backgrounds; renewed incentives for GOP-governed states to join the expanded Medicaid system established under the health care law, and incentives to boost individual retirement accounts.
The $10-per-barrel tax hike proposal comes as the price of crude has dropped to the $30 per barrel range.
“We’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil – imported, exported – so that some of that revenue can be used for transportation, some of that revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future,” Obama said. “Then 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, we’re going to be in a much stronger position when oil starts getting tight again, prices start going up again.”
Republicans, however, immediately rejected the idea after its release last week and it will meet the fate of prior dead-on-arrival proposals such as increasing capital gains taxes on the wealthy, imposing a fee on big banks, and cutting the value of charitable deductions for upper-income taxpayers. Higher cigarette taxes and a minimum 30 percent rate for wealthier filers have also gone nowhere.
Obama’s proposed tax increases also mean that he can present relatively reasonable deficit estimates without having to go for painful cuts to benefit programs such as Medicare, health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, and Medicaid health care for the poor.
The budget deficit, after hitting a whopping $1.4 trillion in Obama’s first year, dropped to a relatively manageable $439 billion last year. But a softening economic outlook, combined with a round of tax cuts and increased spending enacted by Congress last year, will make the deficit problem about $1.5 trillion worse over the coming 10 years, according to the latest Congressional Budget Office estimate.
CBO’s “baseline” deficit – what it expects would occur if Congress does nothing – would now total almost $10 trillion over the coming decade.
The White House hasn’t revealed what, if anything, Obama will propose to address the worsening deficit picture. In its budget roll-out, the White House has instead focused on new spending initiatives. The plan is also likely to call for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws, highly unlikely in an election year.
On Monday, Obama proposed $1.8 billion to combat the Zika virus, asking for the money immediately as emergency spending on top of the $1.1 trillion catchall spending bill that passed in December. The virus is spreading rapidly through Latin America. While most people experience either mild or no symptoms, Zika is suspected of causing a devastating birth defect – babies born with abnormally small heads – and the funding is aimed at fighting its spread both abroad and in the U.S.
Obama has largely shifted his focus elsewhere. After winning a higher income tax rate in 2013 on couples earning more than $400,000 per year, Obama and Republicans have battled over relatively small increases to the less than one-third of the budget passed by Congress each year. Republicans seeking higher spending for the Pentagon have been forced to accept Obama’s demands for additional funds for domestic agencies.
A leading “dog behaviourist” and an “animal behaviour counselor” have warned that “global warming” is responsible for a supposedly massive rise in bored and depressed pet dogs.
The “experts” said that “extreme” weather and a spate of wet winters was responsible for the tragic trend, which the Independent newspaper attributed to “decades of global warming”.
“I’ve been working with dogs for more than 20 years and I can’t remember a time when they’ve been this bored. I tend to see boredom in bursts but I’m seeing it chronically this winter”, said Carolyn Menteith, a dog behaviourist who was named Britain’s Instructor of the Year in 2015.
Ms. Mentheth said that cold crisp winters had given way to “constant wet dreariness”, with the Independent explaining that, “she – like many scientists and meteorologists – puts this down to climate change and expects to see more bored dogs in the future as global warming unleashes increasingly frequent and intense bouts of winter rainfall.”
She said the dogs “are just really, really, bored” because “People are quite happy to get their dogs out in frosty, hard weather but not when it’s muddy and horrible.” The problem, therefore, is that dogs are not being walked enough, regardless of whether or not this is due to global warming.
However, Sarah Fisher, an animal behaviour counsellor with around two decades experience, has also said she had noticed a level of canine unrest that is unprecedented in her career.
“I’ve never seen our dogs or horses this bored before in 20 years. Horses that have lived happily outside before are saying ‘I actually can’t cope with this mud and wet anymore’,” she said.
“We’re turning them out of their stables and they’re saying ‘Get me back in straight away’.
“They can’t settle, they look bored, but actually it’s to do with physical stress and mental boredom, they can’t go off quietly and graze because they keep sliding around the field,” Ms. Fisher added.
Nobody wants to watch Communists argue over who’s the rightful heir to Marx.
MSNBC’s feisty debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton received high marks from political observers, but not high ratings from ordinary viewers.
It was the lowest-rated debate of the 2016 election cycle by far, according to preliminary Nielsen data. The debate had a 3.3 household rating in Nielsen’s metered markets.
The prior low was a 6.0 household rating for ABC’s Democrat debate on the Saturday night before Christmas.
Multiple buildings, including a residential tower, have collapsed after a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck southern Taiwan early on Saturday. Authorities in the affected city have formed an emergency response center.
A building has half collapsed in Tainan as a result of the quake, with fire brigades now on their way to the site, Liu Shih-chung, Tainan City Government official, told Reuters.
The quake was initially reported as a magnitude 6.7.
The epicenter of the quake was located at a shallow depth of 6.2 miles (10 km), some 19 miles (31 km) east-southeast of Tainan, the USGS said.
There have so far been no reports about casualties or the destruction caused by the disaster. But the quake has been described as “enormous” and “a big one” on social media.
Local authorities in Tainan have said that they have formed an emergency response center following the quake.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau also measured a second quake of 4.3 magnitude in Tainan, Reuters reported.
The USGS has warned that a magnitude 6.4 earthquake is capable of causing “severe damage.”
With the Fed on the verge of a full relent and admission of policy error, the Fed’s “data (in)dependent” monetary policy once again takes on secondary relevance as we progress into 2016. However, even with the overall job picture far less important, one aspect of the US jobs market is certain to take on an unprecedented importance.
We first laid out what that is last September when we said that “the one chart that matters more than ever, has little to nothing to do with the Fed’s monetary policy, but everything to do with the November 2016 presidential elections in which the topic of immigration, both legal and illegal, is shaping up to be the most rancorous, contentious and divisive.”
We were talking about the chart showing the cumulative addition of foreign-born and native-born workers added to US payrolls according to the BLS since December 2007, i.e., since the start of the recession/Second Great Depression.
As usually happens, it is precisely this data that gets no mention following any job report. However, with Trump and his anti-immigration campaign continuing to plow on despite the Iowa disappointment, we are confident that the chart shown below will soon be recognizable to economic and political pundits everywhere.
And here is why we are confident this particular data should have been prominently noted by all experts when dissecting today’s job report: according to the BLS’ Establishment Survey, while 151,000 total workers were added in January, a number which rises to 615,000 if looking at the Household survey, also according to the same Household survey, a whopping 567,000 native-born Americans lost their jobs, far less than the 98,000 foreign-born job losses.
Here is a chart showing native-born non-job gains since the start of the depression:
Alternatively, here are foreign-born worker additions since December 2007:
Putting the two side by side:
And the bottom line: starting with the infamous month when it all started falling apart, December 2007, the US has added just 186,000 native-born workers, offset by 13.5x times more, or 2,518,000, foreign born workers.
If Trump wins New Hampshire and South Carolina, and storms back to the top of the GOP primary polls, expect this chart to become the most important one over the next 10 months.
A group of 51 refugees were brutally assaulted outside a night club in Murmansk, Russia, after they groped and molested women at a night club Saturday.
The refugees had previously been ordered to leave Norway for “bad behavior” and tried their luck in Russia. What they didn’t realize when they went out clubbing in Murmansk is that Russians have less tolerance when it comes to sexual assault on local women than other European countries.
The refugees allegedly groped and harassed women in a similar manner as the assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. A group of male Russian took them aside to “educate” them that “Cologne is 2,500 kilometers south of here.”
The refugees tried to flee but were quickly captured by the Russians. They then took them out to the street and gave them a beating they will remember. Police arrived to break up the fight but locals report that they threw a few punches at the refugees before arresting 33 of them. Eighteen refugees were in such bad condition they had to be take to the hospital.
Police decided to let the beatings slide and didn’t file a report. The only thing they could confirm was that there was “a mass brawl involving refugees.”
It’s news that seems ripped from the pages of The Onion. Or perhaps Atlas Shrugged.
But incredibly enough it’s actually true: earlier this week, Congress proposed a new law authorizing the US Postal Service to provide banking and financial services.
It’s called the “Providing Opportunities for Savings, Transactions, and Lending” Act, abbreviated as… wait for it… the POSTAL Act.
And it provides explicit authorization for them to provide banking services including checking and savings accounts, money transfers, and “other basic financial services as the Postal Service deems appropriate in the public interest.”
Bank of the Post Office. It’s incredible when you think about it.
The US Postal Service hasn’t turned a profit in a decade.
As a matter of fact, its total accumulated losses now exceed $51 billion, easily ranking it among the least successful companies in history.
And the only way USPS can continue to maintain its operations is with regular bailouts from the American taxpayer.
The statistics are just horrendous. Mail volume is down dramatically, which means that revenue continues to fall.
Yet the Postal Service’s expenses and pension costs keep growing, along with its debt.
Just like the US government, the US Postal Service has its own debt ceiling that’s set by Congress.
USPS reached this debt ceiling back in 2012 and has remained at that level for years.
The only way they survive is by moving liabilities off-balance sheet and regularly going back to Congress with hat in hand.
Wow, talk about a responsible financial partner – this sounds like EXACTLY the place we should want to deposit our hard-earned savings!
Seriously, why would these people even consider an idea so absurd as to let an organization with a history of failed operations take over people’s savings?
Simple. It’s a cheap source of capital.
The Postal Service desperately needs cash. So what better way to raise capital than to sucker unsuspecting Americans into opening up Postal bank accounts?
When you deposit money in a bank, you are effectively loaning the bank your money.
In exchange, they pay you a whopping 0.01% interest.
This is what almost all banks do – they borrow money from depositors and (hopefully) make credible investments and loans with other people’s money.
Except in this case, the Postal Service needs to ‘borrow’ depositors’ savings to cover losses from its other operations.
There’s a term for this. It’s called a Ponzi Scheme.
Government oversight officials informed Congress on Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration continues to operate in disarray, failing to record basic security details for thousands of employees and not tracking official IDs and badges that allow access to the most sensitive areas of an airport.
Lawmakers described the security agency as operating “in chaos” and expressed frustration with Obama administration officials as they informed the House Oversight Committee about a range of security shortfalls that continue to endanger the nation’s 450 commercial airports.
TSA’s inability to properly screen and track employees has been well documented for years. However, the administration has failed to enact multiple reforms aimed at tightening security and making it more efficient, lawmakers said.
TSA still cannot verify their employees’ criminal histories and immigration statuses, according to disclosures made by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
“Even 15 years” since the 9/11 terror attacks, “we still see a system that has not complied with the laws we have passed multiple times… and we see failures,” said Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), chair of the House Transportation Subcommittee.
Following the discovery last year of 73 aviation employees who also were listed on the nation’s terror watch list, TSA has struggled to implement reforms aimed to remedy these security gaps, Mica said.
“TSA employees are not properly vetted,” he said. “We’ve found that tens of thousands of incomplete records are even lacking full names. They [TSA] had 14,000 immigrants listed in the database that did not have alien registration numbers and 75,000 of these records lacked passport numbers. This is not acceptable.”
Officials additionally could not account for “hundreds and thousands of IDs” that had gone missing, including TSA security badges, airport identity badges, and officer identification.
“Everything you can imagine stolen, or missing, or unaccounted for,” Mica said. “Here we are in 2016, 15 years after 9/11, and we don’t know who’s going in and who’s going out. There’s no way to ensure it.”
John Roth, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, provided a list of security flaws and inefficiencies in the TSA’s employee screening process.
In addition to still not having full access to the U.S. terror watch list, TSA is incapable of verifying employees’ criminal records.
“TSA is considerably challenged when it comes to verifying workers’ criminal histories and immigration status,” Roth said. “TSA does not recurrently vet airport workers’ criminal histories after they are initially cleared to work, but rely on individuals to self-report disqualifying crimes.”
Most employees do not follow this policy, he said.
“TSA cannot systematically determine whether individuals have been convicted of disqualifying crimes,” Roth said, noting that commercial airports also do not hold onto these records. “Due to the large workload involved, this inspection process looked at as few as one percent of all aviation workers applications.”
Additionally, the records TSA uses for vetting individuals is “not reliable, as it contains incomplete or inaccurate data,” Roth said.
At least 87,000 active aviation workers, or 10 percent of the total workforce, do not have social security numbers listed in their records, according to Roth.
An additional 75,000 active employee credentials listed the worker as a non-U.S. citizen but did not include passport numbers. Of that number, 14,000 workers also did not list an alien registration number, meaning they could potentially be undocumented.
“TSA did not have appropriate checks in place to reject records from such vetting,” Roth said. “Without complete and accurate info TSA risked credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for a worker who could potentially harm the nation’s air transportation system.”
The State Department has decided to withhold seven more e-mails from Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized and nonsecure homebrew system as too sensitive to release even in redacted form. That brings the total number of such messages to 29, and one member of Congress who has seen them is aghast at what may have been exposed:
“There are more than 22, and it’s not just one or two more,” Rep. Chris Stewart told the Washington Examiner, referring to the 22 emails deemed top secret by the State Department last week. “It’s a more meaningful number than that.”
Stewart said the State Department has classified seven additional emails as “top secret.” The agency will now withhold 29 emails from the public due to their sensitive content.
“These were classified at the top secret level, and in some cases, above that,” he said.
Yesterday, Stewart told Fox News what kind of information went through the server – and it’s every bit as bad as one would imagine:
“They do reveal classified methods, they do reveal classified sources, and they do reveal human assets,” he said during an appearance on Fox’s “America’s Newsroom” earlier in the day.
Be sure to watch it, as Stewart uses a hypothetical that should have eyebrows raised. “My heavens,” he tells Martha McCallum, “if I received an e-mail saying, ‘here are the names and addresses and phone numbers of ten of our undercover agents in Pakistan,’ I would know … that was classified. I wouldn’t look for a heading.” Stewart then says that his hypothetical isn’t what was found in the e-mails, but clearly Stewart believes it to be as obvious as the hypothetical suggests. And if these messages disclosed human assets, as Stewart explicitly accuses in this interview after having seen the e-mails, then it would be obvious that they could not be transmitted through or retained within an unauthorized and non-secure system.
It’s no surprise, then, that the House Oversight Committee will start an investigation into exactly what went wrong and how much damage has been done to American intelligence by the State Department – and perhaps to put some pressure on the Department of Justice:
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz says he’s forging ahead with an investigation into the federal government’s record keeping – a probe he acknowledges could put Hillary Clinton in the cross hairs.
But Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have been clear: They believe the FBI and Justice Department should handle the investigation into Clinton’s use of personal email for government business, and that congressional involvement could disrupt the criminal probe and appear overly partisan. Taking that cue, the House Science Committee, which had planned its own investigation into Clinton’s email server, on Wednesday opted to delay its inquiry and defer to the FBI, an aide on the panel told POLITICO.
As for Chaffetz, Ryan (R-Wis.) is giving him the green light to proceed – with caution. The speaker authorized Chaffetz to investigate systematic problems within his committee’s broad jurisdiction, while making clear his preference that Chaffetz steer clear of Clinton personally.
A House probe will put the FBI’s efforts under a microscope, whether Chaffetz chooses to avoid taking on Hillary directly or not. It will also send a signal to the DoJ that simply running out the clock will not suffice. Chaffetz could choose to work on this as a probe to determine the amount of damage done by the mishandling of classified information at State – methods that had to be changed, opportunities lost, agents who had to be recalled, or even sources who might have dried up or vanished altogether. Making the damage clear will undercut any claims from Clinton and the White House of “no harm, no foul,” but more importantly will actually emphasize the need to properly protect national-security data pour encourager les autres.
Russia is warning the world that Turkey is planning to invade parts of Syria in the coming days/weeks are are working intensively and secretly toward that goal:
RT – Developments on the Turkish-Syrian border give serious grounds to suspect that Ankara is planning a military invasion in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“We have serious grounds to suspect intensive preparations by Turkey for a military invasion on the territory of the sovereign state of Syria,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, Defense Ministry spokesman, told journalists.
“We are recording more and more signs of concealed preparations by the Turkish military,” he added.
The spokesman reminded that Moscow had previously provided the international community with irrefutable video evidence of Turkish artillery firing on Syrian populated areas in the north of Latakia Province.
“We are surprised that the talkative representatives of the Pentagon, NATO and numerous organizations allegedly protecting human rights in Syria, despite our call to respond to these actions, still remain silent [on the shelling by Turkey],” he said.
Turkey is supplying terrorists in the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo with manpower and weaponry, Konashenkov said.
The spokesman showed the media a photo of the Reyhanli checkpoint, saying that “through this very border crossing – mainly at nighttime – the militants, who seized the city of Aleppo and Idlib in northwestern Syria, are being supplied with arms and fighters from the Turkish territory.”
Turkey is trying to conceal its illegal military activity on the border with Syria and has canceled an agreed Russian observation flight over its territory because of that, Konashenkov said.
“Such steps carried out by a country, which is a NATO member state, in no way contribute to the strengthening of trust and security in Europe,” the spokesman told journalists.
Konashenkov called the cancelation of the Russian observation flight over Turkish territory “a dangerous precedent and an attempt to conceal illegal military activity near the border with Syria.”
The violation of the Open Skies Treaty by Ankara won’t go without a proper response from Moscow, he said.
Konashenkov also said Russia has boosted all kinds of intelligence and surveillance activities in the Middle East.
“So if someone in Ankara thinks that the cancelation of the flight by the Russian observers will enable hiding something then they’re unprofessional.”
Apart from getting his new caliphate system, one of the top goals of Erdogan has always been the ousting of Assad in Syria. And since the Syrian civil war didn’t do it and Erdogan’s partnership with Obama didn’t do it, Erdogan is probably going to have to undertake the task himself.
And I should point out that as president, Erdogan has full control of the deployment of the military, both domestically and internationally.
Problem is, Russia is now there, so an invasion of Syria means war with Russia. And since Turkey is a lot closer to Syria that Russia, they have a huge advantage with respect to supply lines.
This has to be worrying Russia, which is why I suspect they are sounding the alarm over this. But will the world stand against Erdogan’s invasion of Syria and subsequent war with Russia? That remains to be seen, but I doubt it. Most in the world thinks Assad needs to go anyway because of his alliance with Iran.
The FBI conducted more gun-related background checks this January than in any other January since the system was created.
With 2,545,802 checks processed through the National Instant Background Check System, January 2016 beat the previous record, set in January 2013, by 50,326 checks. Though January’s number represents a drop from the all-time single month record set in December 2015, it is also marks the ninth month in a row that has set a record. It is also the third month in a row with more than two million background checks.
The number of background checks conducted by the FBI is widely considered the most reliable estimate for gun sales in the country since all sales conducted through federally licensed gun dealers and some sales conducted by private parties are required by law to obtain a check.
However, the number is not a one-to-one representation of gun sales. Many private sales are not included in the system. Also, in some cases a single background check can apply to the sale of multiple guns. Some states use background checks for their gun carry permitting process, which does not involve the sale of a gun.
The new record comes in the wake of President Obama’s executive action targeting gun sales. The White House had signaled that those selling even one firearm in their lifetime could be subject to federal licensing requirements, though it was later revealed that the written guidance issued by the ATF was at odds with the administration’s public comments.
A steady stream of comments supportive of gun control by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may also have contributed to record sales.
A move by Virginia Democrats to unilaterally eliminate gun carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states also received national attention in January. The policy was instituted by the state’s attorney general after the party failed to recapture the state Senate despite millions from gun control advocates. The backlash to the plan was strong enough that the state’s Democratic governor reversed it in a deal with Republicans.
The Second Amendment Foundation said the continued spike in gun sales was in line with other indicators from around the country.
“The Boston Globe reported last week that tens of thousands of new gun licenses were issued in Massachusetts last year,” Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder, said in a statement. “In New Jersey, with tough gun laws, applications for gun purchases last year nearly tripled over what they were in 2005. One Missouri county reported a three-month back-up in processing permit applications. A county sheriff in North Carolina is so overwhelmed, he’s asking that citizens make appointments.”
“Add to this the fact that scores of sheriffs and police chiefs have encouraged citizens to arm themselves. Suddenly, gun ownership sounds like a very good idea to people concerned about personal safety,” Gottlieb said.