With the debris of his health care scheme falling like autumn leaves, President Obama is looking for news, any news, to suggest that his White House is doing something, anything, right. He landed on the most unlikely candidate last week. He’s taking credit for the surge in the production of oil, which exceeded imports for the first time in 18 years.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced Wednesday that daily U.S. crude-oil production averaged 7.7 million barrels in October, with net imports falling to the lowest level since 1991. American production is just getting ramped up, and the agency forecasts daily production levels reaching 8.5 million barrels next year.
The Obama administration is funding a joint nuclear security center in Beijing designed to stem nuclear weapons proliferation – despite recent state-run media reports showing Beijing’s plans to hit U.S. cities with nuclear missiles that would kill millions of Americans during a conflict.
A White House official said the Beijing center would not be used to help protect Chinese nuclear weapons.
President Obama’s approval rating has sunk to 37 percent in a new poll released Wednesday – the lowest of his presidency – and his disapproval rate is at 57 percent, a new high for him in CBS News polls.
His approval rating has dropped 9 points since October, according to the CBS News poll.
Sometimes thTrouble in Paradisee government can make life better for everyone. This is the socialist dream. Most of the time the government fails, usually miserably, as with President Obama’s miserable attempt to manage the nation’s health care. So far his administration has been unable to manage a website. Socialist dreams always die hard, as the common folk – and the uncommon folk as well – are learning in Venezuela in the wake of the Hugo Chavez experiment in economic fantasy.
Venezuela’s so-called Bolivarian revolution, now presided over by Nicolas Maduro, the hand-picked successor to Mr. Chavez, has set out to maintain “fair” prices on everything in the markets. It’s all to protect the people. Basic goods such as butter and milk have all but disappeared, and when there’s a rumor that a market has a few rolls of toilet paper for sale, the riot police are dispatched to calm the mob. How can you have a paradise without toilet paper? But such is the legacy of the Hugo Chavez revolution.
ALTOONA, Iowa － Despite being on the losing 2012 presidential ticket, Rep. Paul Ryan’s White House prospects have not dimmed in Iowa, where Republican insiders say he will get a strong look in the 2016 caucuses if he takes a crack at the nation’s top elected office.
At the same time, some think Mr. Ryan, who has maintained a low profile since the presidential election, is next in line to become speaker of the U.S. House.
One of the nation’s top intelligence officials defended the National Security Agency’s snooping on online communications at a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, telling lawmakers that more transparency is not needed － and would prove self-defeating. Robert Litt, general counsel for the director of national intelligence, warned that sifting through the massive reams of digital communications swept up by the NSA to determine which were sent by Americans and which were not would make any privacy violation even more invasive.
“We believe that the reporting we’ve already agreed to provides the right balance between transparency and national security,” he told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.
The phrase “nonessential personnel” re-entered the lexicon during last month’s government shutdown as 800,000 of these lucky people were rewarded with an unexpected paid vacation. Two free weeks off is nice, but this “government service” pales in comparison to the laid-back lifestyle at the Environmental Protection Agency, where an employee can miss 2 years of work without anyone noticing.
In 2001, John C. Beale took one day a week off from his job as an environmental regulator by telling his boss a tale of his important work as a spy. In 2008, he went “undercover” for six months on an imaginary mission for the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Operations. Again in June 2011, he disappeared for nearly 18 months. He figured no one would notice, and nobody did. Nor did anyone take the time to verify his life as Bond, James Bond.
Nearly half of Congress promised to share federal workers’ pain during the partial government shutdown by forsaking pay – but now that the shutdown is over and employees got paid, many lawmakers say they deserve their own checks.
Some of the lawmakers said their vow to forgo pay was good only for as long as the shutdown lasted. When the shutdown ended after 16 days, they said, they had done their jobs and were entitled to their money.
Failing to heed the lessons of the Solyndra debacle, Energy Department officials kept quiet about their knowledge that a government-backed electric car charger company was sliding toward bankruptcy and putting taxpayer money at risk, the agency’s chief watchdog has found.
Inspector General Greg Friedman admonished department officials for failing to disclose during an audit this summer what they knew about San Francisco-based Ecotality’s financial troubles and the possibility that the firm might not meet the terms of its taxpayer funding. The company received $100 million in aid from the 2009 stimulus.
When government regulators design light bulbs, they become expensive, toxic hazards. Once they begin telling companies how to make dishwashers and washing machines, dishes and clothes no longer emerge from the machine as spotless as they once would have. Now busybodies in Europe have set their sights on the remaking the vacuum cleaner.
The European Commission adopted a rule in May that requires member states to make sure“informational labels” are attached to vacuum cleaners, detailing their power usage, sound level,“emissions” and other data dear to Brussels. Not three months later, the commission followed up with an expanded regulation setting“ecodesign requirements” that will reduce the effectiveness of all vacuum cleaners sold. Beginning next September, vacuums with more than 1,600 watts of power are banned. By 2017, the allowable power drops to just 900 watts. A revived market for straw brooms may follow that.
Chinese state-run media revealed for the first time this week that Beijing’s nuclear submarines can attack American cities as a means to counterbalance U.S. nuclear deterrence in the Pacific.
On Monday, leading media outlets including China Central TV, the People’s Daily, the Global Times, the PLA Daily, the China Youth Daily and the Guangmin Daily ran identical, top-headlined reports about the “awesomeness” of the People’s Liberation Army navy’s strategic submarine force.
He was an obscure compromise candidate when unexpectedly elected prime minister in 2006. Against all odds, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is still on the job, and holds a worrying level of power in Iraq as he heads into a meeting Friday with President Obama to discuss the still-troubled state of his nation－a decade after the U.S.-led military action that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.
With Mr. al-Maliki appearing poised to run for a third consecutive term next year, analysts say the challenge now facing the Obama administration is figuring out how to aid Baghdad’s fight against a surging al Qaeda threat, without inadvertently bolstering Mr. al-Maliki’s own rise as the region’s newest strongman.
Detroit lies in a shambles, in large part owing to the greed of the automobile unions. The United Auto Workers once helped autoworkers achieve the good life, but then brought the Motor City to ruin with unreasonable demands. Now it’s looking to move into the South to recover relevance.
Over the past four decades, the UAW has lost 75 percent of its membership. The union retained enough leverage through state laws to force executives at the“Big Three” – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler – to agree to union demands that were unsustainable. A typical abuse is the“job bank,”requiring the Big Three to pay union employees a full-time salary when they didn’t work. The inevitable collapse not only punished shareholders, but cost taxpayers tens of billions of bailout dollars.
President Obama and his Pakistani counterpart emerged from their meeting Wednesday at the White House vowing to work together to combat terrorism, but controversial U.S. drone strikes continue to cloud the relationship between the two nations and threaten future cooperation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, while affirming an alliance with the U.S. and speaking of shared goals surrounding security and fighting extremism, once again called on Mr. Obama to end drone strikes against terrorist targets within Pakistan’s borders.
A computer-software glitch over the weekend briefly removed spending limits from certain food-stamp debit cards, setting off a run on supermarkets in several states. The incident provides a glimpse at what society looks like when it becomes dependent on the government just to eat.Big crowds showed up, cleared store shelves and loaded shopping carts when word spread Saturday that there was no limit on the spending. The food-stamp electronic benefits transfer cards were suddenly magic. Being a computer mistake, it was corrected within a few hours. Once everyone learned the problem was resolved and the spending limits were on again, the overflowing shopping carts were abandoned in the aisles. The fun was over.A contractor performing a routine maintenance test of the debit-card system was finally blamed for the food-stamp outage. The Wal-Mart stores, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi, that allowed unlimited spending on the cards will bear the cost of the spree. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocery chain, is looking at the possibility of prosecuting whoever took advantage of the computer error.There’s a saying,“Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” The Obama administration, which can’t seem to figure out how to create jobs, has rewritten that adage:“Teach a man to fish, and we lose a voter.” Through the food-stamp program and other entitlements, the administration has created a growing class of dependents. The food-stamp rolls have soared from 26.3 million recipients in 2007 to 46.6 million in 2012. During the same period, spending on those benefits has more than doubled, from $30.4 billion to $74.6 billion annually. Mr. Obama is eager to make the ranks grow even larger.It’s a Democratic strategy that hasn’t changed much since Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to use the New Deal to make his party a permanent majority. By handing out as many government benefits as possible to a steadily increasing pool of recipients, Democrats hoped to build a bloc of voters eager to pull the lever for the political party that could keep the freebies flowing.FDR realized this dependence strategy had limits.“The lessons of history,” he cautioned in his 1935 State of the Union speech,“confirmed by the evidence immediately before me show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” The Democrats revere FDR as a party icon, but few Democrats would say those words today.The food-stamp frenzy in Louisiana and Mississippi, however, demonstrates the truth of Mr. Roosevelt’s warning. The crowds saw everything in the stores as if it were free for the taking. They might enjoy those same items more if they were the fruit of their labor. If Mr. Obama and his Democrats would trim overbearing tax and regulatory hurdles, he could liberate the economy and millions of eager Americans would get an honest – and satisfying – day’s work.October 15, 2013
先週末にコンピューター・ソフトウエアに不具合が生じたために、一部のフードスタンプ・デビットカードに一時的決済免除の措置が取られたところが、数カ所の州のスーパーマーケットに人々が殺到することとなった。この事件は、食べることだけでも、社会が政府に依存するようになったら、どんなふうになるかを、うかがい知るチャンスを与えてくれている。 土曜日に、食料引換券カードで無制限に買い物ができるといううわさが広まると、大群衆が押し寄せ、店の棚を空っぽにし、そして、ショッピング・カートに商品を積み込んだ。カード形式の低所得者向け食料引換券が突然、魔法のつえになったのだ。コンピューターの間違いだったので、それは数時間の内に直された。問題が解決し、支出制限が復活したということが、皆に知れ渡るとすぐに、あふれるほどのショッピング・カートが通路の至る所に放置された。そして、大騒ぎは終わった。 デビットカード・システムの定期的メンテナンス検査を行っている契約人が、最終的にフードスタンプの機能停止の責任を問われた。カードでの無制限の買い物を許した、大部分がルイジアナ州とミシシッピ州のウォルマート店だったが、そこが、やりたい放題の狼藉（ろうぜき）の費用を持つことになるであろう。全米最大の食料品チェーン、ウォルマートは、コンピューター・エラーに付け込んだ者たちは誰にせよ、告訴する可能性を考慮している。 ことわざに「人に魚を与えよ、そうすれば、彼は一日は生きるであろう。しかし、彼に魚の釣り方を教えよ、そうすれば、彼は一生食べていけるであろう」というのがある。オバマ政権は雇用の創出の仕方が分からないようなので、そのことわざを「人に魚の釣り方を教えよ、そうすれば、われわれはその人の票を失うことになるのだ」に書き換えたわけだ。フードスタンプ計画その他の社会保障給付金制度によって、政府は増大する政府への依存集団を創出してしまった。フードスタンプに登録した受給者は２００７年の２６３０万人から２０１２年の４６６０万人に急増した。その同じ期間にその給付金に対する支出は年間、３０４億ドルから７４６億ドルへと２倍以上になった。オバマ氏はしきりに、この集団をさらに大きくしようとしているのだ。 それは、フランクリン・Ｄ・ルーズベルトが自分の党を永久的に多数党にするためにニューディール政策を試みた時以来、あまり変わっていない民主党の戦略なのである。着実に増加している受給者集団にできる限り多額の政府からの給付金を渡すことによって、民主党員は、ただでもらえるものを流し続ける政党のレバーを熱心に引きたがる票田を作ろうと思ったのだ。 フランクリン・Ｄ・ルーズベルト（在位１９３３～４５）は、この依存者戦略には限界があることを悟った。彼は、３５年の一般教書演説で「私のすぐ目の前の証拠によって確認された歴史的教訓があるが、それは、困窮者救済金に依存する生活の継続は、国家の基本構造を根本的に破壊する精神的、道徳的崩壊を引き起こすということである。このように救済金を少しずつ施すことは、人間の精神を巧妙に破壊していく麻薬を処方するに等しいものである」と注意を促した。民主党員はフランクリン・Ｄ・ルーズベルトを、党を象徴する人として崇敬しているが、今日では、そういう発言をする民主党員はほとんどいない。 しかしながら、ルイジアナ州やミシシッピ州でのフードスタンプ騒ぎは、ルーズベルト氏の警告が当たっていることを如実に表している。群衆は店内のあらゆる物は、あたかもただで取っても良いものだと思った。それらが彼らの労働の成果であったならば、その同じ物をもっと気持ちよく享受できたかもしれない。オバマ氏や彼の民主党員らが横暴な税金や規制によるハードルを削減する気になれば、彼は経済を自由化し、何百万人もの熱意ある米国人がうそ偽りのない――そして満足感のある――１日分の仕事にありつけるのである。（１０月１５日付）
Foreigners fueled by Islamic fury are rushing to Syria to fight President Bashar Assad at a faster rate than the flow of rebels into Afghanistan in the war against a Soviet-backed regime in the 1980s, analysts say.An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 foreign fighters have come to Syria since the outbreak of the uprising in March 2011.“This is probably one of the biggest foreign-fighter mobilizations since it became a phenomenon in the 1980s with the Afghan jihad against the Soviets,” said Aaron Y. Zelin, a Washington Institute researcher who studies al Qaeda and Syria.The number of foreigners in Syria has not reached the level in Afghanistan three decades ago, but that civil war lasted nine years, while the Syrian rebellion is 2 years old.Mr. Zelin said the rate of foreign recruits streaming into Syria is “unlike anything else.”The foreign fighters － called jihadists, or holy warriors － come from at least 60 nations. Most are Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Tunisia, but a few dozen are from Western Europe, particularly Britain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, Mr. Zelin said. Ten to 20 fighters have come from the United States, he said.Analysts say fighters join the rebellion out of a sense of religious duty to help fellow Sunni Muslims, but they become radicalized because the most powerful rebel groups are affiliated with al Qaeda.More and more opposition groups are peeling away from the Western-backed moderate Syrian National Coalition and its Free Syrian Army military umbrella, and joining with al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Jabhat al-Nusra, which are better funded, equipped and organized.Foreigners make up about 80 percent of Jabhat al-Nusra’s leadership, and as much as 20 percent of its 6,000 to 7,000 fighters are from other nations.About 40 percent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s 4,000 to 5,000 fighters are foreigners, and its leadership is about 80 percent foreign, according to the Syrian Support Group, which distributes U.S. supplies to opposition rebels.Several dozen Syrian rebel groups split from the Syrian National Coalition earlier this month, and about a dozen rebel groups formed an Islamist bloc with Jabhat al-Nusra late last month.Those radicalized fighters will pose a threat to their home countries when they return, said Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst.“It is clearly more serious today than ever before,” he testified at a congressional hearing in Washington last week.“They return with confidence that victory is possible. They and their colleagues now know that they inflicted humiliating defeats on the United States military in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that knowledge will boost both spirits and recruitment.“And they come home with a list of contacts among their fellow mujahedeen from whom they can seek advice or more material forms of assistance.”Al Qaeda recruiters are running charm campaigns to win local support and bring more foreign fighters to Syria.Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria pay their fighters “competitive” monthly wages compared with other rebel groups, and are conducting public outreach efforts such as giving presents to children and teaching them to sing religious chants, Mr. Zelin said.October 20, 2013
イスラムの熱意に駆られた外国人らが、アサド大統領と戦うためシリアに続々と集まっている。そのペースは、１９８０年代にソ連の支援を受けた政権と戦うためにアフガニスタンに活動家らが結集したときを上回る。アナリストらが指摘した。 ２０１１年３月に抗議活動が起きて以来、シリアに来た外国人戦士らは、５０００人から１万人とみられている。 アルカイダとシリアを研究するワシントン・インスティチュートのアーロン・ゼリン氏は「外国人戦士がこれほどまでの規模で動員されるのは恐らく、１９８０年代にアフガンでの対ソ連戦以来だ」と指摘した。 シリア内の戦士の数は、３０年前のアフガンの水準には達していないが、アフガンでの戦争が９年続いたのに対し、シリア内戦は開始から２年余りだ。 ゼリン氏は、「かつてない」ペースで、外国人新兵がシリアに流入していると語った。 同氏によると、聖戦主義者とか聖戦士と呼ばれる外国人戦士らは、少なくとも６０カ国から来ている。サウジアラビア、リビア、チュニジアなどアラブ諸国出身者が大部分だが、西欧からもわずかだが来ている。英、ベルギー、フランス、オランダなどだ。米国からも１０人から２０人の戦士が来ている。 アナリストらによると、戦士は、同胞であるスンニ派イスラム教徒を助けたいという宗教的義務感から戦闘に参加するが、最強の反政府勢力がアルカイダ系であることから急進的になっていくのだという。 西側の支援を受けた穏健派シリア国民連合と、その軍事部門の自由シリア軍から離反する反政府組織が増えている。資金も装備も豊かで、よく組織化されているアルカイダ系の「イラクとシリアのイスラム国」、ヌスラ戦線に加わるためだ。 ヌスラ戦線指導部の８０％は外国人戦士であり、国外からの戦士の数は、６０００から７０００人の戦士の２０％にも及ぶ。 米国の支援を反政府組織に分配しているシリア支援グループによると、「イラクとシリアのイスラム国」の４０００から５０００人の戦士の約４０％、指導部の約８０％が外国人だ。 今月に入って数十の反政府組織がシリア国民連合から離脱し、先月末には約１０の反政府組織がヌスラ戦線とともにイスラム連合を結成した。 元中央情報局（ＣＩＡ）アナリストのマイケル・ショイアー氏は、これらの急進化した戦士らは、帰国後、母国にとっての脅威となると語った。 同氏は先週のワシントンでの議会公聴会で「これまでよりも深刻の度を増していることは明らかだ」と証言した。 「戦士らは、勝利できるという確信を持って帰国する。アフガンとイラクで米軍に屈辱的な敗北を喫したことを知っているから、士気も上がり、新兵の募集も進む」 「さらに、同胞のリストを持って、母国の戦士らのところに帰り、そこでアドバイスや具体的なかたちでの支援を得ることができる」 アルカイダの徴募要員は、地元の支援を獲得し、シリアに送る戦士を増やすために、魅力的な活動を行っている。 ゼリン氏によると、ヌスラ戦線とイラクとシリアのイスラム国は、他の反政府組織に「引けをとらない」額の賃金を戦士らに月々支払い、子供にプレゼントをしたり、宗教的な歌を教えたりする公共福祉のための活動も行っている。（１０月２０日付）
Russia will test launch a controversial missile over the next several weeks that U.S. officials say is raising new concerns about Moscow’s growing strategic nuclear arsenal and Russia’s potential violations of arms treaties.
The RS-26 missile is expected to be deployed with multiple supersonic, maneuvering warheads designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses in Europe, U.S. officials told Inside the Ring.
President Obama drew a red line, you might say, to protect Obamacare. Now the red ink, blood or whatever, has spread to his face. HealthCare.gov, the website designed to deliver on his promise to simplify health care, is a disaster, and the administration insists the disaster must continue.“The government is now shut down,” Mr. Obama boasted early last week,“but the Affordable Care Act is still open for business.” But it’s not, and no one knows this better than the president himself. Despite spending $634 million to design and build the national health exchange website, all that just about everyone who tries to log in to learn what Obamacare is about gets is a message such as:“Important: Your account couldn’t be created at this time. The system is unavailable.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, to explain how the money was spent and why the website isn’t working more than a week after launch.
Private industry would never tolerate such incompetence. For example, the latest version of Grand Theft Auto, the wildly popular video game, sold 11.2 million copies within 24 hours, reaching the $1 billion revenue mark faster than any previous entertainment offering. Though the game suffered the usual bugs, glitches and overloaded servers when the online service opened Oct. 1, the same day the Obamacare exchanges opened, the publisher of Grand Theft Auto had an incentive to work around the clock to fix it. Big money was at stake. The service was quickly put aright. There’s no evidence that more than a handful of customers have actually succeeded in signing up for Obamacare.