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Archive for February, 2014

Graham: Iran Sanctions ‘Crumbling’.


The nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Iran that eased some economic sanctions is “crumbling,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said Thursday, calling on Congress to impose new sanctions against Tehran.

“The sanctions are crumbling,” Graham told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “I want to put sanctions back on the table to let the Western world know that we’re serious about sanctions. And, let the Iranians know that the pressure is not off.”

Graham said he had 59 co-sponsors for a bill to reimpose sanctions against Iran. He said Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t allow it to come to the Senate for a vote, and was “making the mistake of a lifetime by not putting sanctions back in place before they crumble.”

“Harry Reid is following [President] Barack Obama’s dictate. Barack Obama’s running the United States Senate,” the South Carolina Republican said.

The U.S. and six world powers agreed with Iran late last year to ease certain economic sanctions on Iran for six months, in exchange for a freeze on some of its nuclear activities.

The sanctions are “collapsing,” Graham said, as indicators showed Iran’s economy was improving dramatically. He said the agreement was doing “nothing to dismantle their nuclear program.”

“The value of the Iranian currency is going up by about 30 percent. Their inflation rate has been dramatically lowered. Over 100 foreign delegations have visited Iran, lining up to do business. Their sales of oil to India have doubled. Their economy is resurging,” he said.

Graham said he was attempting to “reset this before it’s too late,” and pledged to “keep doing this until we get it successful.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

NYT/CBS News Poll: GOP Has Edge in 2014 Midterm Elections.


The Republican Party is the favorite among Americans in an early look at the 2014 midterm elections, with a higher percentage of people saying they would back the GOP over the Democrats.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted Feb. 19-23, 42 percent of people say they plan to support the GOP in November, compared to 39 percent who say they will back the Democrats. Republicans, according to the survey, are benefiting from the support of independents.

“Even though the [Republican] party itself is deeply divided and most Americans agree more with Democratic policy positions…Republicans hold their edge despite the fissures in their party,” the Times reported.

The survey of 1,644 also found that 59 percent of respondents are disappointed with the Obama presidency, compared to 40 percent who are satisfied.

The president’s approval rating has also dipped 4 points since last month to its worst standing in the past two years, with the exception of a CBS News survey in November just after the botched roll-out of Obamacare.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed disapprove of the job the president is doing compared to 41 percent who approve.

“Such ratings amount to an early political alarm for Democrats on the ballot this year. When a party controls the White House, its performance in midterm congressional elections typically tracks closely to the popularity of the sitting president in the fall,” the Times says.

A massive majority of Americans are also deeply dissatisfied with Congress with 79 percent saying they are unhappy about the way things are going in the nation’s capital, including three in 10 who say they are angry, CBS News reports.

A majority of Americans surveyed also said they want both parties to do more to address the concerns of the middle class, reduce the budget deficit with both tax increases and spending cuts, and let illegal immigrants stay in the country and apply for citizenship, according to the Times.

The poll also indicated that that the Affordable Care Act appears to have solidified some opposition to Democrats, while historical trends such as an older, whiter midterm electorate are also favorable to Republicans, the Times reports.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Melanie Batley

UK, US Spies Stored Millions of Yahoo Webcam Images.


Britain’s communications spy agency GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA) intercepted and stored images from webcams used by millions of Yahoo users, the Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.

GCHQ files leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reportedly revealed how the Optic Nerve programme collected still images of webcam chats regardless of whether individual users were suspects or not.

In one six-month period in 2008, the British spy agency collected webcam imagery from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts around the world, the Guardian said.

Yahoo, which was apparently chosen because its webcam system was known to be used by GCHQ targets, expressed outrage at the reported surveillance.

“We were not aware of nor would we condone this reported activity,” a spokeswoman for the US technology firm told AFP in an email statement.

“This report, if true, represents a whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy that is completely unacceptable.

“We are committed to preserving our users’ trust and security and continue our efforts to expand encryption across all of our services.”

Leaked GCHQ documents from 2008 to 2010 explicitly refer to the surveillance programme, although the Guardian said later information suggests it was still active in 2012.

The data was used for experiments in automated facial recognition, as well as to monitor existing GCHQ targets and discover new ones, the British paper said.

The programme reportedly saved one image every five minutes from a webcam user’s feed, partly to comply with human rights legislation and partly to cut down the sheer amount of data being collected.

GCHQ analysts were able to search the metadata, such as location and length of webcam chat, and they could view the actual images where the username was similar to a surveillance target.

The data collected, which was available to NSA analysts through routine information sharing, contained a significant amount of sexual content, the newspaper added.

It cited one document as saying: “It would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person.”

In a statement to the Guardian, GCHQ said all of its work was “carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate”.

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© AFP 2014
Source: Newsmax.com

9-11 Investigators Never Learned About FBI, CIA al-Qaida Mole.


al-Qaida operatives in Bosnia killed an FBI mole who met with Osama bin Laden and provided intelligence on al-Qaida after suspecting he was with the CIA, but the man’s death came several years before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attacks and the FBI did not report the informant’s existence to investigators.

The dead informant, was a Los Angeles-based “driver and confidante” of “Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the cleric in prison for masterminding the first attempt on the World Trade Center in 1993, NBC News reported Thursday.

Because the mole died at least six years before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Congressional investigators or the 9/11 Commission never learned about the Sudanese man.

NBC reported the news of the mole’s death one day after it reported the man’s existence, saying the informant had been been recruited by the FBI years ago and had even met with bin Laden a full eight years prior to the Sept. 11 attacks.

The mole revealed a great deal of information to the FBI, including revealing a plan that helped stop a bin Laden plan to destroy a Masonic lodge in Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, according to courtroom testimony by Ed Curran, who was the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s L.A. office then.

Sources told NBC the informant was recruited in 1993 after learning he was a known associate of the Blind Sheikh, who had been an FBI target since 1990 when follower El Sayyid Nosair, shot and killed radical Rabbi Meir Kahane in a Manhattan hotel.

The Sheikh moved to Los Angeles, where the future mole lived and became his driver.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service tipped off the FBI about the driver, and the federal agency learned that he was on a terrorism watch list. INS tried to deport him, and his status as a potential terrorist made it difficult to move him. Jordan took him and put him jail for three months, and eventually, the driver ended up in Yemen, where the FBI recruited him.

The first World Trade Center attack also occurred at about time, when a truck filled with explosives detonated in an underground garage on Feb. 26, 1993.

FBI agent Bassem Youssef, the bureau’s highest-ranking Arabic speaker, approached the informant as a friend, saying he could reunite the man with his family in California.After several meetings with Youssef and other agents, he agreed to provide information and started talking about al Qaeda.

The man also provided about a dozen U.S. and Canadian passports, with the original photos being replaced with those of al-Qaida operatives.

The driver also met with bin Laden, who one Justice Department official said “was not that hard to get to” because he was not yet famous.

After the Blind Sheikh was arrested in 1993, the informant continued working with the FBI, but in 1994, a woman working for the CIA was able to convince him to work with the CIA.

The CIA sent him to Bosnia in 1994 or 1995, but the FBI didn’t know its informant was working for the other agency or why he disappeared.

Youssef started asking al-Qaida sources what had happened to the man, and learned that operatives in Bosnia killed him because they suspected he was working for the CIA.

The mole’s existence was actually first revealed in 2010, when Youssef sued the FBI, claiming discrimination and accusing the agency of passing him over for promotion.

Former FBI agent Ed Curran, in testimony during the discrimination trial, revealed Youssef developed the mole, reported The Washington Times during the trial.

“It was the only source I know in the bureau where we had a source right in al-Qaida, directly involved,” Curran testified, noting the mole was “tight, close” with al-Qaida leadership.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Reid Slammed for ‘Horror Stories’ Claims.


Image: Reid Slammed for 'Horror Stories' Claims

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, while calling “horror stories” about Obamacare lies, “attacked the character and integrity” of Americans who are not afraid to show how Obamacare is hurting them, Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips says.

On Wednesday, Reid said on the Senate floor that there are “plenty of horror stories” being told about Obamacare that are untrue.

Later in the day, the Nevada Democrat amended his statement, saying he wasn’t referring to stories told by everyday Americans, but the “vast majority” of advertising financed by the conservative Americans for Prosperity, which was founded by billionaires Charles and David Koch, Fox News reported.

He also continued to criticize the Koch brothers, calling them “un-American,” after earlier in the day accusing them of “trying to buy Americans.”

Phillips, in a response posted on the Americans for Prosperity website, said some of the people sharing horror stories are “battling serious, life-threatening illnesses,” and accused Democrats like Reid of trying to divert attention from Obamacare’s failures by “declaring war on its victims.”

“Instead of admitting that the health care law is a bad deal for Americans, Senator Reid has chosen to attack the brave men and women who are sharing their personal stories about Obamacare,” Phillips said.

In particular, Reid and other critics have focused attention on one Americans for Prosperity ad featuring Julie Boonstra of Michigan, who says she has leukemia and her healthcare has become unaffordable under Obamacare.

She and the conservative group are standing behind the ad despite the criticism.

“The president’s allies are perfectly fine with brushing these horror stories under the rug — but that’s not so easy for people like Julie Boonstra in Michigan and Emilie Lamb in Tennessee, who are being forced by people like Senator Reid to live out the consequences of Obamacare every single day,” Phillips said.

The Koches also responded to Reid, chastising him for using an ad featuring a woman suffering from leukemia for his attack on Republicans.

“While Charles Koch and David Koch were not responsible for the advertisement in question, we believe it is disgraceful that Senator Reid and his fellow Democrats are attacking a cancer victim as part of their campaign against Charles Koch and David Koch,” said Koch spokesman Philip Ellender.

Republicans are also slamming Reid’s original remarks, with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., calling them “astounding and offensive.”

South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune is demanding an apology from Reid to all those who have felt they are harmed by Obamacare.

“The majority leader, and any Democrat who agrees with him, owes an apology to all Americans who are suffering under this disastrous law and whose personal stories he has dismissed as ‘untrue,'” Thune said.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has read personal stories on the Senate floor several times about Obamacare’s negative impact on his state’s constituents, his spokeswoman Amber Marchand said in a press release.

“A fair question for the majority leader’s office today: Does Harry Reid believe Missourians are making this up?” Marchand said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Christie Agenda Hampered as Former Democratic Allies Turn on Him.


To push his first-term agenda, Republican Governor Chris Christie had no greater booster than Senate President Stephen Sweeney, New Jersey’s top-ranking elected Democrat.

When Christie wanted to make state workers contribute more toward pensions and benefits, Sweeney, an ironworkers union organizer, stepped up with a bill. To drum up voter support for $750 million in borrowing for university construction, Sweeney, who never attended college, hit the campus tour circuit.

Now, as Christie seeks backing from the legislature’s majority Democrats to further cut pensions that constrain his record $34.4 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2015, Sweeney is casting himself more as foe than enabler.

“This has nothing to do with me getting along with him or not,” Sweeney, 54, said in a Feb. 25 interview. “It’s business.”

The chill comes amid state and federal investigations of the administration’s links to intentional traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Christie, a potential presidential candidate, is seeking a policy victory to reverse sliding approval. He also is looking for bragging points as chairman and chief fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association in a year in which 36 states will elect chief executives.

More Cutbacks

Sweeney is the one New Jersey politician with the clout to make both the legislature and labor swallow a sequel to Christie’s first-term benefits cutbacks, which included a higher retirement age and bigger employee contributions to health insurance and the pension plan. Sweeney on Feb. 24 said another round isn’t negotiable.

“He’s saying, ’I don’t feel like giving anymore, especially to a weakened governor,’” said Matthew Hale, a political-science professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange.

Since Christie, 51, began his second term last month, Sweeney has soured:

The governor’s inaugural address, the burly lawmaker said, was “long on rhetoric and short on solutions.”

His handling of Hurricane Sandy aid: a “colossal failure.”

On another Christie proposal, a 10 percent income-tax cut, Sweeney told reporters Feb. 24: “You gotta be kidding me.”

Not Shy

Sweeney, like Christie, isn’t afraid to speak his mind. A resident of West Deptford, a Philadelphia suburb, Sweeney entered public service after his daughter was born with Down syndrome, because he wanted to improve laws and services for children with special needs. He served on his county’s governing board and was elected to the Senate in 2001. He has been re- elected three times, and has been president since 2010.

Since 2006, the lawmaker had been pushing pension changes over the objections of members of his party, who are typically backed in New Jersey elections by public unions.

Christie’s predecessor, Democrat Jon Corzine, wouldn’t hear of it, telling workers at a rally in front of the Statehouse that he would fight for them.

In the Feb. 25 budget speech, Christie said New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded by $52 billion after a decade of expanded benefits and missed payments. He signed a law in 2011 requiring the state to make one-seventh of its pension contribution in fiscal 2012, then raise the payment each year until it reaches the full annual amount, $5.5 billion, in 2018.

Creative Invective

Christie ousted Corzine in the 2009 election as voters rejected the one-term Democrat’s handling of the economy. The first Republican elected New Jersey governor since 1997, Christie and Sweeney made an agreement in June 2011 on a plan to curb pension costs. Unions picketed outside the Statehouse, while members hissed and booed inside as Sweeney testified on the measure before a legislative panel.

A month later, when Christie removed millions of dollars of Democratic add-ons to his second budget, Sweeney called him a bully, a punk and “a mean old bastard.” Christie told reporters two weeks later that he held no grudges because of the remarks, and he said together they had done “amazing things.”

“Senator Sweeney and I have a passionate relationship,” Christie said then. “When you have a passionate relationship like that, sometimes people get overemotional, and I think Senator Sweeney’s comments of two weeks ago are probably an example of that. We have a good relationship and we’re friends.”

The pension and benefits bill “never would have happened without Steve Sweeney’s vision and his leadership,” he said.

Taking Credit

Christie’s first-term successes were made possible because of alliances with prominent Democrats. Such ties stretch to Sweeney’s South Jersey base and its major political fundraiser, George Norcross. In the north, Christie is aligned with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. The governor worked with DiVincenzo on the pension changes and with Norcross on reorganizing the state’s universities.

Sweeney, mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2017, made it clear this week that he wants credit for the 2011 retirement legislation.

“Let’s get it straight: It was my plan, not his,” Sweeney told reporters after Christie’s Feb. 25 budget address. “I was not his collaborator. He came along and worked on a plan that I believed in because I know pensions.”

2017 Race

Sweeney ceded a chance to challenge Christie last year to Barbara Buono, a Senate colleague from Metuchen who lost by 22 percentage points in November. In January, after e-mails showed a Christie aide suggested the bridge tie-ups in Fort Lee, whose Democratic mayor didn’t endorse the governor, Sweeney formed an investigatory committee with power to subpoena members of the executive branch.

“He’s been such a close ally of Christie over the past four years that he has to prove himself anew to the Democratic Party,” said Peter Woolley, a politics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison.

Christie, in his budget speech, said the pension changes haven’t gone far enough, because costs continue to rise. He gave no specifics on what else was needed. Sweeney said the governor should focus on improving the economy to boost revenue, not cutting obligations.

“Sweeney saw his political star rising because of the ascendancy of Chris Christie, and that allegiance could carry him into the governor’s mansion,” said Brigid Harrison, a political professor at Montclair State University. “Now he recognizes that his alliance with Christie is detrimental. Over the next several years he’s going to make every effort to distance himself.”

Sweeney in recent months has adapted some of Christie’s public-relations strategy. Christie has his town-hall meetings; Sweeney this month started touring towns to draw attention to Sandy victims’ troubles.

Once a month, the governor hears from voters during an hour-long radio call-in show. In December, Sweeney began weekly “Twitter Thursdays,” using his social-media account to answer questions. He has about 2,500 followers; Christie has 439,000.

In a Dec. 12 exchange, one user asked who would be the victor in a Sweeney-Christie arm-wresting match. Sweeney, with apologies to the governor, said, “It’s only a competition if the other guy has a chance.”

 

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Coalition of African American Pastors Wants Holder Impeached.


Image: Coalition of African American Pastors Wants Holder Impeached

By Greg Richter

A group of black pastors is seeking the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder over his calling for state attorneys general to ignore state laws that ban same-sex marriage.

“America is not where we have a king that gives orders from on high. But they use the influence of their office to change America,” the Rev. William Owens, president of the Coalition of African American Pastors, said of Holder and President Barack Obama in an appearance Wednesday on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.”

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

Owens referred to the president and attorney general as “King Obama and King Holder,”  saying they have gone against the will of the people who have voted to ban same-sex marriage in their states.

Obama, he said, was deceptive when he said in his first run for president in 2008 that he believed marriage was between a man and woman. He later said his thinking had “evolved” on the issue.

“He did that to get elected first, and the deal he made with the gay community was, when I get elected on my second go-round I will fight for it. But he did not evolve. He was already there,” Owens said.

Owens accused Obama of purposely lying.

“He said if you want you can keep your doctor. It’s a pattern for them to get what they want over the will of the people,” he said.

Holder has said the administration’s efforts on gay rights are building on the civil rights movement, but Owens said his group parts ways with the White House on that issue.

“I was in the civil rights movement. We didn’t fight for anything like this,” he said. “In fact, they don’t want equal rights, they want superior rights. They want special rights. They have always had the right to do what they want to do.”

Owens said gay rights are being used to trample on religious rights, pointing to pressure put on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill granting religious exemptions to businesses such as wedding photographers who have moral objections to gay marriage. Brewer vetoed the bill Wednesday.

“What about what we believe?” Owens asked.

Editor’s Note: Govt Prohibited From Helping Seniors (Shocking) 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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