Sunday, June 23, 2013

No Time for Background Checks, Napolitano Says

Semi-News/Semi-Satire ^ | 21 June 2013 | John Semmens

While it took a “Freedom of Information Act” filing to learn that the Department of Homeland Security has ceased doing background checks on illegal aliens applying for “special status” under President Obama's “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” Executive Order, Secretary Janet Napolitano says “it's no big deal.”
“Truthfully speaking, there just isn't enough time for us to check the thousands of applications we have received,” Napolitano admitted. “With all the other stuff on our plate we had to figure out what to let slip through the cracks. It was our assessment that screening immigrants for criminal records was something we could afford to let go.”
The number of background checks foregone is bound to increase if the immigration reform bill making its way through Congress passes. The bill would put an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship. The prospect that there may be criminals among them didn't faze Napolitano.
“Our Statue of Liberty invites the 'wretched refuse' of the world to come to America,” Napolitano pointed out. “In my mind, the most wretched of refuse would be criminals. The fact is, a lot of the early settlers in America were criminals given the choice of being hanged in England or emigrating to America. Clearly, criminals played a role in building this country. So, the notion that we ought to screen them out kind of flies in the face of a long history of open borders.”

Obama Administration Sues Dollar General for Using Background Checks on Job Applicants

Gateway Pundit ^ | June 22, 2013 | Jim Hoft

The Obama Administration sued Dollar General for using background checks on job applications because it’s racist. It’s now unlawful to discriminate against applicants who have committed a crime!

The Obama administration is suing Dollar General and a BMW facility in South Carolina for the alleged unfair use of criminal background checks for job applicants, months after warning companies about how such screenings can discriminate against African Americas.
The suits were filed June 11 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which last year issued new guidelines that cautioned against rejecting minority applicants who have committed a crime and recommended businesses eliminate policies that “exclude people from employment based on a criminal record.”
The suits have re-ignited concerns over such issues as potential federal overreach, the overlap of state and federal law and companies losing their rights to protect customers, workers and assets while trying to adhere to fair hiring practices.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Sign-up for Obamacare begins in 100 days

The Kansas City Star ^ | June 22,2013 | ALAN BAVLEY and DIANE STAFFORD

You probably haven’t been paying much attention lately to the Affordable Care Act. You may not even realize that Obamacare still exists — about 40 percent of people in a recent national survey weren’t aware that it’s the law.
But the national health care overhaul that was enacted three years ago is alive and might even be well. And starting right now, it’s going to be a lot harder to ignore.
Sunday marks the final 100 days before Oct. 1, when uninsured people can begin applying for health insurance and premium subsidies through the law’s new state and federal marketplaces. Government agencies and insurance companies have been scrambling to get them ready.
If they work as intended, these government websites will make it possible to select a health plan and sign up for coverage in a way similar to how online travel sites let you pick a flight, a hotel and a rental car. Coverage starts Jan. 1, but people can keep enrolling through March 31.
You’ll probably start seeing commercials, finding brochures at health fairs, even getting a knock on the door from canvassers with information about applying for insurance. The goal is to reach the estimated 30 million people who qualify for enrollment through the marketplaces. Polls show the vast majority of the uninsured know little or nothing about the marketplaces, formerly referred to as exchanges.
“People are confused. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. People are going to need help,” said Ryan Barker, vice president for health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health in St. Louis.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Border Security Amendment Would Not Hire Agents Until 2017

Breitbart ^ | 21 Jun 2013 | Kerry Picket

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) blasted the Senate's border security amendment to its immigration bill, touted as a breakthrough for the controversial legislation. Sessions alleged that it does not hire any new border agents until years after its presumed passage.
Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) gave reassurances on Thursday that their amendment would enact tough border security provisions before any legalization of new immigrants could occur. Corker and Hoeven stated on Fox News Friday that their amendment would bring a “surge” to border security. The provisions of the amendment include 20,000 additional border patrol agents, 700 miles of fencing, and an E-Verify system for immigrant workers before new immigrants could receive green cards.
Senator Sessions objected that the promises are trumped by "loopholes that are snuck into" the amended immigration bill. Sessions said the border security provisions are "designed" to be ineffective in a press release sent out Friday evening
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

The Great Disconnect (The elite's priorities are not your priorities)

The New York Times ^ | June 22, 2013 | Ross Douthat

THIS January, as President Obama began his second term, the Pew Research Center asked Americans to list their policy priorities for 2013. Huge majorities cited jobs and the economy; sizable majorities cited health care costs and entitlement reform; more modest majorities cited fighting poverty and reforming the tax code. Down at the bottom of the list, with less than 40 percent support in each case, were gun control, immigration and climate change.
Yet six months later, the public’s non-priorities look like the entirety of the White House’s second-term agenda. The president’s failed push for background checks has given way to an ongoing push for immigration reform, and the administration is reportedly planning a sweeping regulatory push on carbon emissions this summer. Meanwhile, nobody expects much action on the issues that Americans actually wanted Washington to focus on: tax and entitlement reform have been back-burnered, and the plight of the unemployed seems to have dropped off the D.C. radar screen entirely.....
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

'Days Of Rambo Are Over': Pentagon Details Women's Move To Combat ^ | June 18, 2013 | Bill Chappell

Women in America's armed services will have new options for what units they can join in coming years, the Pentagon says. The military said in January that it will end its combat exclusion that set a minimum size for units in which women could be deployed; the limit kept many women away from front-line combat units. The shift means women could join elite forces such as the Army Rangers and Navy SEALs.
Depending on the job, women could begin training to join combat units in the next one to three years, according to several military officers who spoke at a Pentagon briefing Tuesday afternoon. Integration into special forces units is expected to take the longest.
"The days of Rambo are over," said Maj. Gen. Sacolick, of the U.S. Special Operations Command Force Management Directorate. Noting that special operations groups are looking for people who can learn other languages and be deployed in a variety of situations, he added, "The defining characteristic of our operators is their intellect."
The change is expected to come slowly, with women not expected to begin training to join ground front-line combat units until at least 2014 or later. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2016 for all positions to be open. Neither Hagel nor the top-ranking officers in military's branches attended Tuesday's media briefing.
Branches of the service are developing gender-neutral tests that will be tailored to their units, and they may request a special exception to the policy shift if they find that their female members can't perform the duties of a specific job.
For instance, Marine Lt. Col. Jon M. Aytes spoke of a scenario in which a woman in an armored unit would be expected to be able to reload a 55-pound shell into the gun's breach, with little opportunity for leverage.
When asked later if the military would develop separate standards for men and women, Aytes and the other officers said no. Aytes noted that tanks don't have one rack of shells for men, and another for women.
In the case of special operations, men who are already serving in those units will be given a survey that's designed to gauge how they feel about women joining their ranks. It will also analyze "the social science impacts... of integrating women into small, elite teams that operate in remote, austere environments," according to the submitted in March.
"At this point, no decisions have been made," Gen. Sacolick said, of how women might be integrated into the Rangers, SEALS, Marine Special Operators, and other units. "Let me make that clear: No decisions have been made."
Saying that he had spoken to colleagues at other services about the matter, Sacolick added, "I can assure you, we are not predisposed to any course of action."
The major challenge, Sacolick says, is not how the female service members might perform on physical tests — he said he had been impressed by the physical abilities of female recruits. Instead, the largest hurdle could be handling the social and cultural changes, he said.
The news comes months after the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines submitted their plans for including women in ground combat positions. As , the change could "open up more than 200,000 positions in the military" to women.
"I remain confident that we will retain the trust and confidence of the American people by opening positions to women, while ensuring that all members entering these newly opened positions can meet the standards required to maintain our warfighting capability," in May, after the branches of the service had submitted their plans. He told them, "I appreciate your efforts to methodically and deliberately remove gender-restrictive barriers."

Stone Age technological and cultural innovation accelerated by climate

EurekAlert! ^ | June 18, 2013 | Rainer Zahn

The latest archaeological excavations in southern Africa have shown that technological innovation, linked to the emergence of culture and modern behaviour, took place abruptly...
An international team of researchers has linked these pulses of innovation to the climate that prevailed in sub-Saharan Africa in that period...
The researchers have pieced together how rainfall patterns varied in southern Africa over the last 100,000 years, by analysing river delta deposits at the edge of the continent, where every millimetre of sediment core corresponds to 25 years of sedimentation. The ratio of iron (dissolved from the rocks by the water during the rains) to potassium (present in arid soils) in each of the millimetre layers is a record of the sediment carried by rivers and therefore of the rainfall throughout the whole period.
The reconstruction of the rainfall over 100,000 years shows a series of spikes that occurred between 40,000 and 80,000 years ago. These spikes show rainfall levels rising sharply over just a few decades, and falling off again soon afterwards, in a matter of centuries. This research has shown that the climate changes coincided with increases in population, activity and production of technology on the part of our ancestors, as seen in the archaeological records. In turn, the end of certain stone tool industries of the period coincides with the onset of a new, drier climate.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Border security proposal gives Napolitano new waivers

Washington Times ^ | June 22, 2013 | Stephen Dinan

Analysts looking through the new border security deal in the Senate say it includes waivers that would let Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refuse to build any new fencing or install the new technology the plan lays out in close detail.
The senators who struck the deal late this week said they were trying to take the decision-making away from the Obama administration and ensure that new fencing and technology would be deployed, but the latest version gives Ms. Napolitano or her successors the ability to waive or ignore those requirements.
A number of Republicans said they didn’t trust Ms. Napolitano, who has already declared the border secure, to do what the GOP thought was needed.
Democrats, meanwhile, have fought to keep out elements that would delay the full pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Then and Now

He's concerned

Trouble Makers

Bush’s ratings beat Obama’s!

The Washington Post ^ | June 12, 2013 | Jennifer Rubin

Well, some of us knew it would have eventually, but the speed with which it has it rather remarkable.

Gallup yesterday found:

Americans’ views of former president George W. Bush have improved, with 49% now viewing him favorably and 46% unfavorably. That is the first time since 2005 that opinions of him have been more positive than negative.
George W. Bush’s favorable rating is more positive now among all party groups than it was in March 2009, when it dipped to 35% overall. Currently, 84% of Republicans, 46% of independents, and 24% of Democrats have a favorable view of Bush, each up more than 10 points since 2009. However, the more recent improvement in his ratings, a five-point overall uptick since November 2010, has been more apparent among Democrats, whose rating has increased by 10 points since then.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...