Showing posts with label USA Today. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA Today. Show all posts

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Renewed calls for gun control laws spur sales

WASHINGTON — Renewed calls for more restrictive gun laws, following a succession of fatal shootings in the United States, immediately appear to be generating a boost for the gun industry.
Newly released August records show that the FBI posted 1.7 million background checks required of gun purchasers at federally licensed dealers, the highest number recorded in any August since gun checks began in 1998. The numbers follow new monthly highs for June (1.5 million) and July (1.6 million), a period which spans a series of deadly gun attacks — from Charleston to Roanoke — and proposals for additional firearm legislation.
While the FBI does not track actual gun sales, as multiple firearms can be included in a transaction by a single buyer, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System's numbers are an indicator of a market upswing in the face of growing anxiety about access to guns.
"Whenever there is a call for gun control, sales increase,'' said Larry Keane, general counsel for the firearm industry trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation. "Unfortunately, this is a pattern that repeats itself.''
The summer trend is not on par with the panic buying boom that followed the 2012Newtown massacre, which jump-started state and federal campaigns for a host of new firearm measures. During the months that followed the Connecticut attack, which featured new calls for an assault weapons ban and expanded background checks, apprehensive gun buyers emptied the shelves of dealers across the country. Yet, the recent uptick represents a similar buying pattern that dates to the uneasy period before 1994 adoption of the assault weapons ban. (That ban expired in 2004.)
Virginia Del. Patrick Hope, a Democratic member of the state Assembly who proposed an expansion of background checks following last month's shooting deaths of two journalists near Roanoke, said the stockpiling of weapons represented an "over-reaction.''

Friday, September 4, 2015

Glenn Reynolds: Ordinary Americans lead the way on racial healing

In a now-famous tweet, Jon Gabriel wryly remarked, "My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.”
In the public sphere, that racial healing is indeed sufficiently scarce as to justify sarcasm. Charges and countercharges of racism fill the air. Accused killers ranging from the white Dylann Roof in Charleston, S.C., to the black Vester Flanagan in Roanoke, Va., left racial manifestos and hoped to start a race war. And even more mainstream political figures have pursued strategies of racial division and agitation, hoping to keep key voting blocs fired up for next year’s elections.
But if you leave the politicians, the pundits and the crazies aside, ordinary Americans are behaving quite differently. Maybe we should be paying more attention to that bit of good news. And maybe so should the politicians and pundits.
After the Charleston shooting, citizens of South Carolina, both black and white, joined hands, and more than 15,000 of them marched in a show of love and friendship. Ascolumnist Salena Zito wrote, “They met in the middle; they wept, smiled, laughed, hugged, turned strangers into friends. Homemade signs with messages of outreach, love and solidarity flapped in the wind, as prayers and hymns filled the air. There wasn't a major network or cable news channel, only local TV crews, rolling cameras to record America doing what it does best — opening its heart; the networks always seem to be on hand for looting or rioting.“
They do, indeed.  But many people still noticed, even if the national agenda-setters were, as usual, more interested in spotlighting hate than love.
Likewise, last week saw 20,000 people show up for a multiracial “All Lives Matter” march in Birmingham, Ala. It could be the largest such march there since MLK. Glenn Beck and Chuck Norris were there, but that’s not all. reports: “Alveda King, a niece of civil rights activist the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., marched in the front row. Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of the predominantly black Guiding Light Church in Birmingham, co-organized the march with Beck and marched with him at the front. As a child, Lowe attended Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where the march started, a headquarters church for the civil rights movement in Birmingham. Lowe and his sisters were in the church when a KKK bomb blew up the church and killed four little girls on Sept. 15, 1963.” (Note: One of those girls was a childhood playmate of Condoleezza Rice.)
Once again the national news media, noted Washington Post blogger David Weigel, “was largely absent.” No time for positivity where race is concerned, I guess.

[EDITORIAL] Donald Trump's unpresidential campaign: Our view

An important part of the modern presidency is the ability to deal coolly with tough questions from the White House press corps and diplomatically with other world leaders.
But in recent weeks, Donald Trump has been acting more like the angry, impulsive president portrayed byDwayne Johnson in Saturday Night Live's "The Rock Obama" skits. Trump has attacked two of the nation’s most popular and influential television journalists, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and Univision’sJorge Ramos. And he has lashed out against the governments of China and Mexico.
Despite these outbursts — or perhaps because of them — Trump has risen to the top of polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, confounding pundits and deeply worrying the GOP establishment.
What his actions haven’t done, however, is position him to win the presidency, or to govern effectively were he somehow to get elected. In fact, they have done just the opposite by offending many of the people whose support he would need, needlessly provoking fights with important nations and generally coming off as unpresidential.
Are American voters really looking for a president who spends his evenings sending out nasty and petty tweets about journalists rather than, say, working on ways to defeat the Islamic State? That’s exactly what Trump did when Kelly — whom he criticized for her "unfair" questions during last month's first Republican debate —  returned from a summer vacation.
Are Americans really looking for a president whose security detail temporarily ejected a journalist (Ramos) who was attempting to ask about his unworkable immigration plan? Or a president who barred Des Moines Register reporters from some of his events because he didn't like an editorial? (The Register, like USA TODAY, is owned by Gannett.)
The answer is almost certainly not. America once had a president who became consumed with compiling enemies' lists and vilifying his opponents. His name was Richard Nixon.
The point is not that journalists such as Kelly and Ramos need any special sympathy or protection. It’s that a president, a nominee, even a front-runner for the nomination once the field has narrowed, has to do more in the face of hostile questioning than simply resort to name-calling.
Tough questions test a candidate's coolness under fire. They can provide more information about what's on voters' minds than a candidate might receive from sycophantic aides. They go with the territory.
If there was one lesson from President Obama’s 2012 re-election, it was that the next GOP candidate would have to do better with women and minority voters, particularly Hispanics. Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants have left him with an abysmal 14% approval rating among Hispanic voters, according to Gallup. And his ad hominem attacks against Kelly and a career full of chauvinistic comments about women are hardly likely to endear him to female voters.
Positions such as building a massive wall along the Mexican border or imposing a tariff on Chinese goods are designed to rile up frustrated, angry voters. They will not help enact actual policies or deliver results. The Islamic State isn't going stop its reign of terror because President Trump sends out some insulting tweets about its leaders.
Trump knows that in a splintered race for the GOP nomination, he can maintain a lead with as little as 20% support in the polls, which he can get to by saying outrageous things and by proposing impractical policies. But the further along he gets in the process, the more his antics will work against him.

Friday, August 21, 2015

War with Iran is the only alternative to a deal: Anne Marie Slaughter

635755967970592651-Defend-diplomacyThe opponents of the Iran deal are absolutely right about the existence of an alternative. We could bomb Iran. A sustained attack could destroy its nuclear facilities and presumably a large part of its stockpiled plutonium and highly enriched uranium. The Pentagon estimates that destruction of Iran’s current nuclear facilities would set back Iran’s weapons program by roughly two years, which is 18 months to 21 months longer than the current estimated break-out time of three months to six months with no deal.
Here is what else the military option would get us. It would be a great gift to the terrorist group Islamic State, as we would be attacking its archenemy in the ongoing Sunni-Shiite struggles.
It would strengthen the hard-liners in Iran for the next generation, confirming what they have been saying for decades about the Great Satan and cutting the ground out from under younger and moderate voices who have been arguing for trading Iran’s illegal nuclear program for ending the sanctions and opening Iran up to the world again.
It would effectively declare war on Iran as an unprovoked military strike, which would then lead to Iranian retaliation through cyber and terrorist strikes on Americans and American territory. U.S. responses to those strikes could well drag us back into open war in the Middle East.
It would provide yet another recruiting video for terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and beyond, with pictures of U.S. jets bombing a Muslim nation to stop a program that nation’s government had just agreed to stop peacefully through diplomacy. The image of Cowboy America, guns blazing, would once again become an image of Outlaw America, walking away from a deal that we negotiated at the head of international coalition of nations because we preferred to shoot it out instead.
It would end any possibility of ever again assembling a global coalition of countries against Iran, as even many of our allies and other countries opposed to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon would nevertheless oppose our use of force without international authorization.
The hardest pill to swallow is the release of tens of billions of dollars to Iran as soon as it complies with the terms of the nuclear deal, as determined by the U.S. and its negotiating partners — the European Union, Germany, France, Great Britain, China and Russia. That means tens of billions of dollars that could flow to the terrorist groups Iran supports, such as Hezbollah, although remember that Iran is fighting against ISIL.
But here’s the dirty little secret. That money is Iran’s money. The world has frozen it because of Iran’s illegal pursuit of a nuclear weapon. If, in fact, Iran complies with the terms of this deal, stops pursuing a weapon and completely dismantles its nuclear supply chain, then it is entitled to recover the funds. As much as we might hate the idea of a richer Iran supporting terrorism, both American political parties and the world at large decided long ago that a nuclear Iran supporting terrorism would be worse.
Bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is the only alternative to the deal that is on the table if we want to stop the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard from producing nuclear weapons, as North Korea has done over the past decade. The op-ed pages and congressional hearing rooms are filled with proposals for a better deal: one that stops the Iranians from ever enriching uranium again, even for peaceful purposes; one that would deny them conventional arms for decades; one that would completely destroy their nuclear infrastructure and allow nuclear inspectors to roam the country at will.
Lots of better deals can be imagined. But none can be struck. All the fulminating about how we should have done better is just that: woulda, coulda, shoulda. George W. Bush’s administration spent eight years just trying to get Iran to come to the table to negotiate, without success. In 2010, during my first year working as director of Policy Planning under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we thought we had a deal with the Iranians to ship most of their highly enriched uranium to Russia, but it promptly collapsed when the Iranian negotiators took it back to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. And all the while, the Iranians moved from hundreds of centrifuges to about 20,000, of ever more sophisticated design. Their supply of highly enriched uranium, just one step away from the fuel needed for a bomb, went up and up.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Lois Lerner Wanted To Audit A Group With Ties To Bristol Palin

U.S. Director of Exempt Organizations for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Lois Lerner is sworn in to testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on alleged targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status from by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington May 22, 2013. Lerner, the IRS official who this month revealed the tax agency
Embattled ex-IRS official Lois Lerner inquired about auditing a pro-abstinence group with ties to Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, according to a Senate report released on Wednesday.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, disclosed Lerner’s email — which she sent in April 2011 — in an addendum to a report detailing the results of a two-year investigation into whether the IRS unfairly targeted conservative groups.
The bi-partisan report concluded that Lerner and the IRS often ignored applications for tax-exempt status submitted by Tea Party organizations and other groups.
According to Hatch, Lerner’s political views influenced the IRS’ handling and processing of tax-exempt applications for the conservative groups.
One example of this was an email Lerner sent to her supervisors asking whether an audit should be conducted on Candie’s Foundation, a nonprofit group which seeks to limit teen pregnancy.
Bristol Palin was paid $332,500 to serve as an “ambassador” for the organization, which was founded by an executive at Candie’s Inc., an apparel company.
After Lerner learned of the payment to Palin from a news article, she wrote in an April 8, 2011, email chain to David Fish, Judith Kindell — two IRS officials — and others:
Thoughts on the Bristol Palin issue? I’m curious that a [private foundation] can pay any amount to someone who is not a [disqualified person]? It is a [private foundation] right? Even if it were a [public charity] – would that be private benefit – what are the consequences? I’m asking because I don’t know whether to send to Exam as a referral.
Hatch noted how unusual it was for Lerner to consider an audit based upon a single news article. He noted that out of 1.5 million IRS records reviewed by his committee staff, there were no other instances where Lerner referred a progressive group for an audit based on a single news article.
“Lerner’s willingness to act on this particular news article – among many that reached her inbox each day – shows that she was paying close attention to conservative politicians and organizations,” Hatch stated in his report.
USA Today noted another partisan comment from Lerner that Hatch cited in his report.
In a March 6, 2014, email exchange Lerner and a friend were discussing the political landscape in Texas. Lerner’s friend criticized Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, the former and current governors of the state, respectively.
“As you can see, the Lone Star State is just pathetic as far as political attitudes are concerned,” the friend wrote to Lerner.
She responded by stating that Abraham Lincoln should have allowed the South to secede from the Union.
“Look my view is that Lincoln was our worst president not our best. He should’[v]e let the south go. We really do seem to have 2 totally different mindsets,” she wrote.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Iranian leader tweets graphic of Obama with gun to head

Iran's supreme leader tweeted a graphic Saturday that appears to depict President Obama holding a gun to his head as Britain relaxed its travel advice to the nation, citing decreased hostility under the Iranian government.
"US president has said he could knock out Iran’s military. We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but.." reads the caption above the tweet sent by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on @khamenei_ir, his English language account.
US president has said he could knock out Iran’s military. We welcome no war, nor do we initiate any war, but..

Thursday, July 16, 2015

[EDITORIAL] S.F. 'sanctuary' policy violates common sense: Our view

A little bit of common sense and discretion might have prevented the killing this month in San Francisco of Kathryn Steinle — a victim not only of random gunfire but of the mindless handling of the city's immigration policy.
Her accused killer is Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican immigrant who had a felony drug record going back 20 years, had been deported five timesand had repeatedly sneaked back into the USA (which raises serious questions about border security that the current, polarized debate isn't addressing in a helpful way).
Lopez-Sanchez was in the San Francisco County jail in April and should have been deported yet again. Federal immigration authorities had lodged a "detainer," seeking to get custody and do just that. All they needed was a call or other contact from the sheriff's office.
The contact was never made, not because of some ghastly mistake or miscommunication but because of a city ordinance that prohibits police from honoring detainers except in rare cases. And, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, because of a policy by the local sheriff that bars contact with immigration authorities. After a local charge against Lopez-Sanchez was dropped, he was held for three weeks, then put on the street.
On July 1, less than three months later, Steinle, 32, was dead, collateral damage in a long-running feud between the local and federal governments over deportation.
San Francisco is one of nearly 300 cities and counties across the country with sanctuary laws or policies aimed at separating federal immigration enforcement from local policing, in order to build trust between immigrant communities and local police. The reasoning goes like this: If immigrants, including millions of undocumented ones, see local police officers as a tool for deportation, they will not report crimes or come forward as witnesses, even when they are victims, and public safely will suffer.
In that context, there's a certain logic to the "sanctuary" idea, but not when carried to extremes. Sanctuary policies set by cities, counties and states differ from place to place, but San Francisco's violates all common sense. Protecting a hard-working undocumented immigrant charged with a misdemeanor is one thing. Putting a long-term felon and serial illegal entrant on the street is the antithesis of ensuring public safety.
That's especially true when there is a more reasonable approach, one used, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, by many police departments under sanctuary laws. Officers pick up the phone to call immigration when they plan to release potentially dangerous immigrants wanted for deportation. Immigration comes to pick them up.
Kathryn Steinle's death ought to be a cause for sober reevaluation of sanctuary policies. Without a cease-fire and a working agreement in this war that has pitted local law enforcement against federal immigration authorities, there will be more innocent casualties.
USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fanning the flames of another black church arson hoax by Michelle Malkin

America is still reeling from the horrific Charleston, S.C., massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that claimed the lives of nine innocent people.
The last thing the community and our country need are hysterical journalists compounding the pain with inflammatory reporting on an unsubstantiated “epidemic” of black church arsons.
On Monday, a Baltimore Sun lead editorial decried “a series of mysterious fires at African-American churches across the South” in the wake of the Charleston murders. The newspaper cited a “pattern” of attacks, including what it claimed was an “uptick in attacks on 37 black churches in the South” in the 1990s that “prompted President Bill Clinton to set up a church-arson investigative task force.”
The Sun neglected to mention that Clinton had falsely claimed at the time that he had “vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child”— an assertion immediately debunked by theArkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The Sun also neglected to mention that the manufactured media coverage that launched the 1990s black church arson juggernaut, fueled by former USA Today reporter Gary Fields’ 61 fear-mongering stories, fell apart under scrutiny. Fields’ own employer was forced to admit that “analysis of the 64 fires since 1995 shows only four can be conclusively shown to be racially motivated.”
Reminder: Several of the hyped hate crimes against black churches had been committed by black suspects; a significant number of the black churches were, in fact, white churches; and the complex motives behind the crimes included mental illness, vandalism and concealment of theft.
Once again, falsified history is repeating itself.
The NAACP, which capitalized on the Clinton-era race hustle, is now pushing the new arson epidemic narrative. The organization remains shamelessly undaunted after fueling the fake NAACP “bombing” in Colorado Springs earlier this year. The group’s CEO, Cornell Brooks, tweeted the incendiary“#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches” hashtag on Tuesday and disclosed that he is “informing churches, reviewing legislation, pushing media awareness and deciding legal options.”

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lack aid? Many counties have only pricey plans for ObamaCare

GTY_450630099More than half of the counties in 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange lack even a bronze plan that's affordable — by the government's own definition — for 40-year-old couples who make just a little too much for financial assistance, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
Many of these counties are in rural, less populous areas that already had limited choice and pricey plans, but many others are heavily populated, such as Bergen County, N.J., and Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.
More than a third don't offer an affordable plan in the four tiers of coverage known as bronze, silver, gold or platinum for people buying individual plans who are 50 or older and ineligible for subsidies.
Those making more than 400% of the federal poverty limit — $47,780 for an individual or $61,496 for a couple — are ineligible for subsidies to buy insurance.
The USA TODAY analysis looked at whether premiums for the least expensive plan in any of the metal levels was more than 8% of household income. That's similar to the affordability test used by the federal government to determine whether premiums are so expensive consumers aren't required to buy plans under the Affordable Care Act.
The number of people who earn close to the subsidy cutoff and are priced out of affordable coverage may be a small slice of the estimated 4.4 million people buying their own insurance and ineligible for subsidies. But the analysis clearly shows how the sticker shock hitting many in the middle class, including the self-employed and early retirees, isn't just a perception problem. The lack of counties with affordable plans means many middle-class people will either opt out of insurance or pay too much to buy it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Latest Obamacare Fixes Unnerve Insurance Industry on Deadline Day

The health insurance industry is uneasy over the Obama administration's announcement Thursday that individuals who lost existing coverage under the Affordable Care Act will not be obligated to purchase coverage by Monday.
Insurers were counting on these customers for their bottom line, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement said: "If you have been notified that your individual market policy will not be renewed, you will be eligible for a hardship exemption and will be able to enroll in [bare-bones] catastrophic coverage."

Monday, Dec. 23, is the last day to sign up through the Healthcare.Gov and state health exchanges for insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. For the coverage to take effect, policyholders must pay their first premium directly to the insurer by Jan. 10, USA Today reported.

Consumers will have until March 31 to purchase coverage for 2014 without having to pay a penalty.

The insurance industry's chief Washington lobbyist, Karen Ignagni, is concerned that exempting people from having to be in the exchanges is an erosion of the "individual mandate" requiring Americans to have health insurance.

Thursday's HHS announcement "was of particular concern because we were worried about the message with respect to individuals having a path around the mandate; that was the first time that the administration had said anything like that," Ignagni told the Journal.

The industry had opposed the Affordable Care Act when it was first proposed. After it became law in 2010, Ignagni said insurers "mobilized our best people . . . to provide thoughtful advice."

Nearly 750,000 people had visited the federal site over the weekend through Sunday afternoon.

Via: Newsmax

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