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In New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton throws Benghazi families under the bus

by Jazz Shaw     •     Hot Air

Hillary Clinton 2The GOP primary has probably been the best thing to happen to Hillary Clinton in years. There was a period of time during the spring and early summer of last year when it seemed as if nobody could talk about anything except Hillary’s emails and the various investigations into the horrible events at Benghazi. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some story about the former Secretary of State being corrupt, deceptive or just plain lying. (Ah… good times, my friends.) But then the Republican race heated up, our candidates began flinging monkey poo at each other, several parts of the western world caught fire and most of the discussions of Hillary seemed to fade into the past.

Not entirely, however. Our friend Jeff Dunetz has a great story over at his place to kick off the year and it deals with a recent Q&A that Clinton did with the editorial board of the Conway Daily Sun. In it, the editors asked her some rather pointed questions about the initial response to the Benghazi attacks and why she told one group of people one story while singing another tune entirely for others. [Read more...]

Will 2016 Bring the Collapse of China’s Economy?

China’s global dominance, something analysts say is inevitable, will have to wait.

by Gordon G. Chang     •     The National Interest

Last Monday, at the conclusion of China’s closed-door Central Economic Work Conference, Beijing’s public relations machine went into high gear to show that the country’s leaders had come up with a viable plan to rescue the economy.

Unfortunately, they do not now have such a plan. In reality, they decided to continue strategies that both created China’s current predicament and failed this year to restart growth.

The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states. [Read more...]

Saudi-Iran crisis a rebuke for US policy

By Dave Clark and Nicolas Revise     •     Yahoo

Washington’s single-minded pursuit of the Iran nuclear deal damaged its alliance with Saudi Arabia, experts say, and fed the escalating crisis in the Gulf.

The United States failed to manage its traditional Sunni Arab allies in the region while it reached out to mend ties with their bitter Shiite foes in Tehran.

As a result, experts warn, Washington has suffered a loss of influence at a time when it needs to implement the nuclear accord and work with both Tehran and Riyadh to end the Syrian war.

“I think the administration has had a one-eyed policy on this,” Salman Shaikh, founder and CEO of regional consultancy the Shaikh Group, told AFP. [Read more...]

How Liberals Are the New Autocrats

Progressives may preach the joys of localism, but the trend in government is all the other way in everything from climate change to the economic complexion of your neighborhood.

by Joel Kotkin     •     The Daily Beast

Obama Corruption IntimidationThe End of Localism

This could be how our experiment with grassroots democracy finally ends. World leaders—the super-rich, their pet nonprofits, their media boosters, and their allies in the global apparat—gather in Paris to hammer out a deal to transform the planet, and our lives. No one asks much about what the states and the communities, the electorate, or even Congress, thinks of the arrangement. The executive now presumes to rule on these issues.

For many of the world’s leading countries—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia—such top-down edicts are fine and dandy, particularly since their supreme leaders won’t have to adhere to them if inconvenienced. But the desire for centralized control is also spreading among the shrinking remnant of actual democracies, where political give and take is baked into the system.

The will to power is unmistakable. California Gov. Jerry Brown, now posturing as the aged philosopher-prince fresh from Paris, hails the “coercive power of the state” to make people live properly by his lights. California’s high electricity prices, regulation-driven spikes in home values, and the highest energy prices in the continental United States, may be a bane for middle- and working-class families, but are sold as a wonderful achievement among our presumptive masters. [Read more...]

How the High Court Could Shake Up the 2016 Campaign

From immigration to abortion to the power of unions, the Supreme Court is entering this election year with a full plate of politically charged cases.

AP PHOTO/J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE

by Sam Baker     •     NationalJournal

The Court hasn’t of­fi­cially agreed to hear this one yet, but most ex­perts think it will—and that a de­cision will come by the end of June. That’s cer­tainly the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hope; win­ning at the Su­preme Court is the only way Obama will be able to im­ple­ment his De­ferred Ac­tion for Par­ents of Amer­ic­ans and Law­ful Per­man­ent Res­id­ents pro­gram, or DAPA, which would al­low some 4.3 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants to re­main in the coun­try.

A rul­ing for the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion would al­low DAPA to take ef­fect—and Demo­crat­ic front-run­ner Hil­lary Clin­ton has said she would stretch the policy even fur­ther. A loss for the ad­min­is­tra­tion, on the oth­er hand, would vin­dic­ate Re­pub­lic­an cri­ti­cisms that DAPA went too far, and would give a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent a way out of the pro­gram without rolling back any leg­al pro­tec­tions him­self. [Read more...]

The Obama recovery that wasn’t

Families are no longer fooled by ‘hope and change’ happy talk

By Stephen Moore     •     Washington Times

Photo by: Seth Wenig In this July 9, 2015 file photo, a Wall Street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange in New York. U.S. stocks moved lower on the last day of the year as the market headed for a sluggish end to 2015. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

The stock market closed down for 2015 reversing one of the few positive accomplishments under the Barack Obama presidency. This has been a pretty prosperous time for the top two percent. For most Americans though — not so much.

A new report from Sentier Research based on Census data finds that median household income of $56,700 at the end of 2015 stood exactly where it was adjusted for inflation at the end of 2007.

That’s eight years of virtually zero income gain. And President Obama and his Washington political pundits wonder why voters are in such a cranky mood.

Last week the Joint Economic Committee of Congress issued a report on the Obama recovery loaded with even more dismal news. On almost every measure examined, the 2009-15 recovery since the recovery ended in June of 2009 has been the meekest in more than 50 years. [Read more...]

3 days to Al Gore’s ’10 years to save the planet’ and ‘point of no return’ planetary emergency deadline

by Anthony Watts     •     WUWT

From the “say your prayers, we’re gonna roast” department.

On January 25th, 2006, while at the Sundance film festival, screening “An Inconvenient Truth”, Al Gore said this as chronicled in an article by CBS News:

The former vice president came to town for the premiere of “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary chronicling what has become his crusade since losing the 2000 presidential election: Educating the masses that global warming is about to toast our ecology and our way of life.

Gore has been saying it for decades, since a college class in the 1960s convinced him that greenhouse gases from oil, coal and other carbon emissions were trapping the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, resulting in a glacial meltdown that could flood much of the planet.

Americans have been hearing it for decades, wavering between belief and skepticism that it all may just be a natural part of Earth’s cyclical warming and cooling phases. [Read more...]

These Are the Top 10 Risks to the World in 2016

From a weakened trans-Atlantic alliance to an increasingly fractious Middle East

by Ian Bremmer     •     Time

At the beginning of each year Eurasia Group, the political risk consultancy I founded and oversee, publishes a list of the top 10 political risk stories for the 12 months ahead. These are the risks and trends we believe are most likely to move markets in 2016. We’ve opened the year with a serious spat between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and a horrible day for markets in China. But our #1 risk centers on erosion of the partnership that has provided a lot of global stability over many years.

1. The Hollow Alliance
The trans-Atlantic partnership has been the world’s most important alliance for nearly seventy years, but it’s now weaker and less relevant than at any point in decades. The U.S. no longer plays a decisive role in addressing any of Europe’s top priorities. Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the conflict in Syria will expose U.S.-European divisions. As U.S. and European paths diverge, there will be no one to play international fireman—and conflicts particularly in the Middle East will be left to rage.

2. Closed Europe
In 2016, divisions in Europe will reach a critical point as a core conflict emerges between Open Europe and Closed Europe—and a combination of inequality, refugees, terrorism, and grassroots political pressures pose an unprecedented challenge to the principles on which the European Union was founded. Europe’s open borders will face particular pressure. The risk of Britain’s exit from the E.U. is underestimated. Europe’s economics will hold together in 2016, but its broader meaning and its social fabric will not. [Read more...]

Time For The U.S. to Begin Worrying About the ICC?

unnamed-2A couple years back the Pulitzer Prize-winning “fact-checking” site PolitiFact assembled a panel of experts to debunk the claim, laid out in a chain email, that President Barack Obama “wants the U.S. to sign on to the U.N.’s International Criminal Court.”

From the final paragraph:

While the Obama administration has been more willing to engage with the court than the Bush administration, which was strongly opposed to cooperating, Obama has made no sign that he wants to become a full-blown member of the court. Even if he did, doing so would require 67 votes in the Senate, making it essentially a nonstarter. We rate the claim False.

This seems about right: This U.S. has taken a Do as we saynot as we do approach to the ICC, mostly employing it as a hammer of American foreign policy – via, in the words of the Justice Department, “informational” support for “particular investigations or prosecutions” — with little to no fear of the reverse ever coming to pass.

Of course, this approach speaks volumes about the reputation of the ICC amongst leaders of the both the United States’ two major political parties — specifically that the ICC is in actuality a political institution, not a venue of blind justice, out to cultivate power and reach. These politicians understand that to subject American soldiers, politicians, and civilians to its whims would not only be completely irresponsible, it would be bad for the reelection business.

Even as it condemns the chain email authors as yahoos for believing such manifest nonsense, the PolitiFact authors, self-styled cosmopolitans they are, do offer up a bit of a defense of the ICC trotting University of Michigan law professor Steven R. Ratner out to say the Court’s jurisprudence is ”generally on par with U.S. law, with small exceptions such as trial by judges rather than a jury, and looser rules for admission of evidence.”

Those “small exceptions” would no doubt seem much larger to someone in the dock — I wonder how Ratner might change if, say, the state of Alabama began unilaterally employing those standards in its prosecutions? — but there is nevertheless an ongoing effort to cheerlead the ICC into taking on the U.S. even without ratification.

In the new report “No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture,” Human Rights Watch labels the ICC a “potential forum for holding US officials accountable for post-9/11 abuses” and urges the Court to “consider opening a formal investigation into US-related abuses in Afghanistan” if the U.S. government fails to “pursue credible and impartial criminal investigations and prosecutions of detainee abuse allegedly committed by members of the US armed forces in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008.”

More:

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The 13 Most Ridiculously PC Moments on College Campuses in 2015

Warning: This article contains both pronouns and references to maracas.

by Katherine Timpf     •     National Review

Rendered-helpless-by-microaggression-cartoonIt seems like 2015 has just been so full of examples of extreme political correctness on college campuses that it might be easy to forget just how full of them it’s been.

Here, in no particular order, are the 13 stories of 2015 that made me most want to bash my head into a wall:

1. Hating pumpkin-spice lattes was declared sexist.

If you say bad things about pumpkin-spice lattes, what you’re really saying is that “girls don’t get to have valid emotions” — at least according to Min Cheng’s op-ed in the Phoenix, Swarthmore College’s student newspaper. [Read more...]

Has Bensouda’s South Africa Power-Play Backfired?

bensoudaBack in October International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted a nine page missive to the pre-trial chamber seeking to establish a December 31, 2015 deadline for South Africa to explain its (not-so-cut-and-dried-as-advertised) decision not to arrest Omar al-Bashir during a regional summit last July. The filing sought to rein in South Africa’s domestic wrangling over the issue “out of concern for the potentially open-ended time frame that may result from the need for resolution of the domestic proceedings…and the manner in which the proceedings have been represented in South Africa’s submissions in support of its request for an extension of time.”

The pre-trial chamber, so far as we can tell, simply ignored the request, but it looks as if rather than forcing South Africa to kneel, Bensouda’s attempted power-play may have made the nation more, not less, defiant.

From Business Day Live:

[Read more...]

Amicus Brief filed in Jane Doe v. United States of America

Justice Rule of LawInterest of Amicus

Frontiers of Freedom Institute, Inc. is an educational institute whose mission is to promote the principles of individual freedom, the rule of law, peace through strength, constitutionally limited government, free enterprise, and traditional American values as embodied in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Frontiers of Freedom believes the rule of law is fundamental to liberty because it prevents tyranny: We are either governed by law or we are ruled by the whims of those who have acquired political power. The Constitution was wisely designed to prevent those in the executive, legislative and judicial branches from exercising arbitrary power and from treating us as their subjects. Our Founders intended to establish a government of laws, and not of men. In their eyes it was only Common Sense that, “the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other.”  [Read more...]

An unexpected New Year’s present from Congress: Property rights

Washington Examiner

The obligation falls on states and communities to fund their police forces adequately, so that they don’t have to practice this form of legal banditry on the side in order to pay for their operations. (AP Photo)

One week ago today, the U.S. Department of Justice bestowed a gift upon Americans everywhere heading into the new year — albeit a reluctant one. The department announced that due to budget cuts, it would stop sharing with state and local governments the assets seized through civil forfeiture in joint federal investigations.

For practical purposes, this means that a glaring loophole in state civil forfeiture laws has been closed, at least temporarily.

State and municipal law enforcement agencies make big money seizing property from owners who have not been convicted or often even charged with a crime, on the pretext that it was somehow involved in criminal activity. The burden falls upon property owners to prove it wasn’t, and they might have to go to great effort and expense to recover what’s theirs. It sounds terribly un-American, but it is a routine practice in most states. Some states, such as New Mexico, have already begun to reform it, requiring a criminal conviction before property can be lawfully seized. [Read more...]

Scores Enter Germany With Fake Syrian Passports, Similar to Paris Attackers

Dozens of alleged refugees have entered Germany on fake Syrian passports, which were produced using technology similar to that used to forge documents for some of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, the German Bild newspaper reported Tuesday, citing government sources.

Sputnik News

Last week, two French citizens posing as refugees were arrested in Austria on suspicion of having links to the November 13 Paris terror attacks. The suspects, of Algerian and Pakistani descent, were allegedly using fake Syrian passports and are believed to have entered Austria with some of the Paris attackers in October. Individuals posing as refugees entered Germany using passports made by the same means as those found on the suspects arrested in Austria.

“They contain the same features of forgery,” one of the sources told the German media outlet.

Stolen genuine documents were so intricately altered by counterfeiters that the forgery was not detected immediately, meaning those who entered the country on fake passports have not yet been found, according to the newspaper. [Read more...]

IRS Issued $46 Million in Erroneous Tax Refunds

$230.4 million at risk over next five years

by Elizabeth Harrington     •     Washington Free Beacon

The Internal Revenue Service issued more than $46 million in erroneous tax refunds due to a computer glitch and ineffective monitoring, issues that left uncorrected could cost taxpayers up to $230 million over the next five years.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released an audit Monday faulting the IRS for approving thousands of potentially fraudulent tax refunds in 2013.

“TIGTA identified that because of a programming error, over $27 million of refunds were erroneously issued for 13,043 Tax Year 2013 tax returns,” the audit said. “The programming error is overriding the IRS’s two-week processing delay on some refund tax returns that are identified by the IRS as potentially fraudulent.” [Read more...]