Archive for DC

Video shows apparent beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff

sotloff

WaPo:

A new video attributed to the Islamic State terrorist organization purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, marking the second such execution in recent weeks by an group that controls parts of Iraq and Syria and has threatened to kill other captives.

The video shows a bound Sotloff being held at knifepoint by a black-clad militant against a desert backdrop that appears similar to the one shown in a video released last month depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley. The video was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks the online postings of Islamist militant groups.

Sotloff, a freelance journalist, had written Time magazine, Foreign Policy and other publications. He was believed to have been taken captive shortly after entering Syria in 2013.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the Obama administration to respond to this report in light of their response to the Foley beheading.

Drunk federal agent arrested for brandishing gun

us-marshal-badge

Associated Press:

Police say an apparently drunk man arrested after allegedly brandishing a gun on a Burbank street is a federal agent.

According to a police statement, officers responded early Wednesday after someone reported being approached by a very drunk man who pulled out a handgun. The armed man directed the victim to follow him.

The victim managed to run off and the armed suspect was found by police less than a mile away.

Police say Andrew Leconte was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and brandishing a firearm.

Investigators later learned that Leconte is an agent with the United States Marshals Service.

The 27-year old was released on bond. The Marshals Service refused comment.

California illegally requiring employer insurance to cover elective abortions

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AP via Newsbusters:

Health insurance companies in California may not refuse to cover the cost of abortions, state insurance officials have ruled in a reversal of policy stemming from the decision by two Catholic universities to drop elective abortions from their employee health plans.

Although the federal Affordable Care Act does not compel employers to provide workers with health insurance that includes abortion coverage, the director of California’s Department of Managed Health Care said in a letter to seven insurance companies on Friday that the state Constitution and a 1975 state law prohibits them from selling group plans that exclude the procedure. The law in question requires such plans to encompass all “medically necessary” care.

“Abortion is a basic health care service,” department director Michelle Rouillard wrote in the letter. “All health plans must treat maternity services and legal abortion neutrally.”

Jesuit-run Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University notified employees last fall that they planned to stop paying for elective abortions, but said faculty and staff members could pay for supplemental coverage that would be provided through a third party. The two schools said their insurers, Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente, had cleared the move with the state.

University employees who objected to the decision and abortion-rights groups lobbied the women’ caucus of the California Legislature, which in turn asked Gov. Jerry Brown to clarify and reverse the health care department’s determination.

Life Legal Defense Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Cardinal Newman Society sent a letter to state officials reminding them that this mandate is illegal under federal law (the Weldon Amendment.)

MoCo, PG Counties lead MD in release of unaccompanied immigrant children

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Newsbusters reports:

The “Office of Refugee Resettlement” in the government’s Department of Health and Human Services has released a county-by-county list of 29,890 unaccompanied children sent “to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members).” Year-to-date, the number, according to an HHS state-by-state list, is 37,477. This has occurred “while they await immigration proceedings.”

Now that they’re out in the general population, we’re still supposed to believe that the majority of these “children” (more on that later) will ultimately be deported. After all, that’s what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on July 7

If you look at the list referenced above you will see that the top counties in Maryland are Montgomery and Prince George’s County.

Other counties missing from the list may still have received under 50 immigrant children since January 1:

The following table shows county-level data for unaccompanied children released to sponsors by the counties where the sponsors live, where 50 or more children have been released since January 1, 2014.  This data covers 126 counties nationwide, and comprises 29,890 of the 37,477 total children released to sponsors in this period.  ACF will update this data each month.

Here’s the complete list for Maryland via the Office of Refugee Resettlement:

  • Prince George’s County 960
  • Montgomery County – 816
  • Baltimore City – 264
  • Baltimore County – 206
  • Anne Arundel County – 145
  • Frederick County – 139
  • Howard County – 102

King Abdullah: Jihadists will be in US in 2 months

king-abdullah

AFP reports on remarks by the King of Saudia Arabia:

 King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is “rapid” action.

“If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month,” he said in remarks quoted on Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.

“Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East,” said the king who was speaking at a welcoming ceremony on Friday for new ambassadors, including a new envoy from Saudi ally the United States.

More from the monarch’s remarks:

Lack of action would be “unacceptable” in the face of the phenomenon, King Abdullah said.

“You see how they (jihadists) carry out beheadings and make children show the severed heads in the street,” he said, condemning the “cruelty” of such acts.

“It is no secret to you, what they have done and what they have yet to do. I ask you to transmit this message to your leaders: ‘Fight terrorism with force, reason and (necessary) speed’.”

Is he right? or will they go to Saudi Arabia?

Is this a Saudi Arabian king trying to get the U.S. to pull his fat out of the fire or are these valid concerns?

Tell me what you think in the comments below.

Ben Carson: Might not be a 2016 election if GOP doesn’t win Senate

Ben Carson

I recently wrote a piece at Practical Politicking asking whether Dr. Ben Carson is a serious candidate for President in 2016. I pointed out several reasons why he might not be including his support of gun control. Now, a story in The Washington Post provides evidence for why he might even be a fringe candidate instead of just a less than serious one.

Ben Terris writes about Carson speaking at a recent town hall in Iowa and quotes Carson (emphasis added):

He speaks softly, almost as though he’s reading a child to sleep. But this is a scary story. If Republicans don’t win back the Senate in November, he says, he can’t be sure “there will even be an election in 2016.” Later, his wife, Candy, tells a supporter that they are holding on to their son’s Australian passport just in case the election doesn’t go their way.

Carson is a really bright guy and a great orator, but he places himself among the lunatic fringe of conspiracy theory buffs with talk like that. I’m not sure the little bit of weight I might have given a potential Carson candidacy can even survive these comments.

Report: Imminent Attack Warning? ISIS operating across US-Mexico border?

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Judicial Watch via Andrew McCarthy:

Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.

Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.

Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source. “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to multiple inquiries from Judicial Watch, both telephonic and in writing, about this information.

McCarthy’s take:

For those of us who’ve been raising alarms about both the jihadist threat and the national-security vulnerability created by the Obama administration’s non-enforcement of the immigration laws, this is not a surprise — particularly less than two weeks before September 11. But it is nonetheless jarring to read.

Bryan Preston fills in some more background:

There have been rumors and suggestions in the past that Islamic terrorist group Hizballah is operating in the border region over the past several years. Hizballah is confirmed to have operations in South America, in the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

A former deputy sheriff in the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department told me in 2012 that captured Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, where he served in the United States Army, had confessed that they were training operatives from drug cartels in Mexico.

Pro-life leader Cookie Harris, wife of Rep. Andy Harris, passes away

harris-family

WBFF reports:

FOX45 has confirmed that Sylvia “Cookie” Harris, wife of MD Congressman Andy Harris, has died. Republican Andy Harris represents the 1st district of Maryland. This is a developing story; Stay with FOX45 for details.

WBAL-TV reported later that she died of a heart attack earlier today.

Cookie Harris was a native of Puerto Rico and attended Notre Dame of Maryland University. Andy and Cookie Harris had been married for over 30 years and have five children and two grandchildren. She has been active in Maryland Right to Life as their director of special events. I first met Mrs. Harris at a Students for Life event that the congressman was the speaker for in the DC area a few years ago. I know I had seen from her emails and online activity that she was again coordinating the volunteers for the MD RTL table at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium this week.

WBAL.com has several statements including some of the ones listed below. They also have the release from the Congressman’s office:

“Sylvia “Cookie” Harris, beloved wife of over 30 years to Congressman Andy Harris, devoted mother of five and grandmother to two, and devout Catholic, unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, August 28. The family is thankful for the thoughts and prayers that so many have offered already and appreciates privacy during this time.”

Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore made the following statement (via Catholic Review):

“Mrs. Harris was a tireless supporter of life and fully dedicated herself to the belief that all human life is sacred. Though her death is a tremendous loss, especially to those in the pro-life community, her legacy will continue to live on in the countless lives she not only touched, but possibly saved, through her efforts to build a culture of life in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

Jeffrey Meister, legislative director for MD RTL, posted the following on Facebook:

Cookie was a vivacious woman and friend dedicated to the pro-life movement. I often worked with her on numerous projects and events. She will certainly be missed.

Here’s what MD RTL posted on Facebook:

It is with heavy hearts we must say our dear friend and coworker Cookie Harris has passed away today. She served as the Director of Special Events, working intimately to put together a successful annual banquet, biannual convention, and the Maryland State Fair, which continues through Labor Day. She will be missed.

Diana Waterman of the Maryland GOP made the following statement:

“It is with deep sadness and regret that The Maryland Republican Party has been informed of the passing of Mrs. Sylvia “Cookie” Harris, wife of Congressman Andy Harris (Md-01). Mrs. Harris, a mother of five and grandmother of 2, was a devout catholic and strong advocate of the Maryland Right to Life organization. We are shocked and saddened by the news, Cookie was a truly wonderful person and the MDGOP’s thoughts, prayers and support go out to her family.”

Statement from Maryland Senate Republican Caucus:

“‘Cookie’ had a visible presence in Annapolis advocating on the issues she was so passionate about. All of the Senators had a wonderful relationship with her because of her political views and her never-tiring activism. Our thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Harris and the family.”

A statement from GOP candidate for Governor Larry Hogan:

“Words cannot adequately express how heartbroken Yumi and I are to learn of Cookie Harris’s sudden and tragic death. Our deepest condolences and prayers are with Andy and his children Joe, Becky, Irene, Jessica and Danny.”

Governor Martin O’Malley’s statement:

“We extend our deepest condolences to Congressman Andy Harris on the tragic loss of his wife, Sylvia ‘Cookie’ Harris. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Harris family.”

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown:

“I want to offer my deep and heartfelt condolences to Congressman Harris and his entire family on the tragic passing of Sylvia ‘Cookie’ Harris. The thoughts and prayers of my family, and of all Marylanders, are with the Harris family at this difficult time,” Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown said in a statement issued by his office.

A Baltimore Sun story has the below reactions:

“She was vivacious, and so outgoing and giving — she would help anyone with anything,” said Ellen R. Sauerbrey, a former state lawmaker and two-time Republican nominee for governor. “Being the wife of a person running for office is not easy, but Cookie was always very supportive.”

[...]

State Sen. Joseph M. Getty, a Carroll County Republican, called her “a true partner of Andy in his political endeavors.”

“But she was also frequently seen in Annapolis as an advocate for the issues she was passionate about.”

[...]

“She was a very fine woman,” said former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley. She said she would remember Mrs. Harris on the campaign trail with kids in tow and a broad smile.

“She was extremely supportive of all of Andy’s efforts to take on the responsibilities that he did in Congress. She was a great mother, and I know they were a happy couple.”

Delegate Kelly Schulz’s comments:

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Sylvia “Cookie” Harris, the wife of Congressman Andy Harris. She was a great champion of justice for unborn children, a dear friend to many, and a great Marylander. We offer our prayers to the Harris family in this difficult time.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger:

“It is with great sadness that I offer my sincere condolences to the Harris family on the sudden loss of their devoted mother and wife. Cookie was an active leader in the Cockeysville community and her involvement will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Congressman Harris, his children and his family.”

I’m really just floored a bit by this news, and I offer my heartfelt condolences to the Harris family. I will be praying for the repose of the soul of Cookie Harris and I will also be praying for the whole Harris family now during their time of grief. I  would encourage everyone else to pray for them as well.

The Libertarian Case for Being Pro-Life

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I first heard several months ago from a friend who is a registered Libertarian about Libertarians for Life.

Here’s the Libertarian Case Against Abortion from their website:

One popular misconception is that libertarianism as a political principle supports choice on abortion. And major elements within the libertarian movement (the Libertarian Party, for example) take abortion-choice stands. Nonetheless, libertarianism’s basic principle is that each of us has the obligation not to aggress against (violate the rights of) anyone else — for any reason (personal, social, or political), however worthy. That is a clearly pro-life principle. Recognizing that, and seeing the abortion-choice drift within the libertarian movement, Libertarians for Life was founded in 1976 to show why abortion is a wrong under justice, not a right.

We see our mission as presenting the pro-life case to libertarians and the libertarian case to pro-lifers. Among supporters of LFL, some of us are members of the Libertarian Party, some are not. Some are religious, some are not. (Doris Gordon, our Founder and Coordinator, is a Jewish atheist.) Our reasoning is expressly scientific and philosophical rather than either pragmatic or religious, or merely political or emotional.

Here are the points LFL uses to defend their case:

  1. Human offspring are human beings, persons from conception, whether that takes place as natural or artificial fertilization, by cloning, or by any other means.
  2. Abortion is homicide — the killing of one person by another.
  3. One’s right to control one’s own body does not allow violating the obligation not to aggress. There is never a right to kill an innocent person. Prenatally, we are all innocent persons.
  4. A prenatal child has the right to be in the mother’s body. Parents have no right to evict their children from the crib or from the womb and let them die. Instead both parents, the father as well as the mother, owe them support and protection from harm.
  5. No government, nor any individual, has a just power to legally “de-person” any one of us, born or preborn.
  6. The proper purpose of the law is to side with the innocent, not against them.

Kristen Walker Hatten, a libertarian, wrote a piece entitled, “Why Libertarians should be Pro-Life on Abortion.”

She wrote:

The s0-called “social issue” which is the glaring exception to this rule is abortion. It is not a “victimless crime,” as many argue prostitution, sodomy, and gambling are. All libertarians of all stripes – and in this I include Objectivists, though they might, well, object – should oppose abortion. Anyone who advocates any kind of government, no matter how minimal, should support making abortion a criminal act.

How do I justify this? It’s actually pretty simple.

If you advocate a small government, you must assign it limited goals. What are the most basic reasons for a government to exist? To keep people safe, from outside aggressors and from each other. Objectivism, for example, argues for a “night watchman” government: basically, the military, police, and courts. The military defends the people from outside aggressors, the police arrest and incarcerate criminals, and the courts decide guilt or innocence and hand down sentences, as well as settling civil legal disputes.

I mention the Objectivist ideal to illustrate that even the most bare-bones government would have laws against citizens killing other citizens. Libertarianism, unlike Objectivism, is based largely on the Non-Aggression Principle, which says – to put it very simply - it is morally wrong to initiate aggression. Force is justified only when combating force.

Libertarianism is also firmly based on a belief in personal responsibility. If every man is and should be free to make his own decisions, it follows that every man must own the results of those decisions. Which is to say: if a man and woman have sex, they both accept the risk that a pregnancy might be the result, and accept the obligation to care for the resulting child.

Another group espousing a similar philosophy to LFL is Secular Pro Life (SPL.)

Report: Burger King in talks to buy Tim Horton’s to avoid US taxes

tim-hortons
Business Insider:

The Wall Street Journal’s Liz Hoffman and Dana Mattioli report Burger King is in talks to buy Tim Horton’s to pull off a “tax inversion” that would allow it to avoid U.S. taxes.

The new holding company would be based in Canada, the pair report.

“One of the people said a deal between the two companies could be struck soon, though additional details on timing couldn’t be learned,” they write. “Together the restaurant companies have a market value of about $18 billion.”

The deal would create the world’s third-largest fast food enterprise.

While this is mainly for the tax implications, would it mean more Tim Horton’s in the US? (There are a small number in the US including some on military installations.)