The Iran nuclear talks deadline was recently extended for a week until July 7 according to the Associated Press. This extension could conceivably raise the already enormous financial cost of the diplomatic home-stretch effort even higher. Even before the extension was granted, contracts for vehicles and hotels in Vienna for Secretary of State John Kerry and US diplomats totaled $224,503.
The first contract posted is for vehicles and drivers required for the stay with ABC V.I.P. Sightseeing in Austria for $93,394:
Few details are available about the number of rooms or exact length of stay planned. According to the State Department, Kerry has been in Vienna since Friday, June 26, and his public schedule lists no immediate plans to leave.
Thousands appeared in Madison, Wisconsin Wednesday night for a rally supporting Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont running for the Democratic nomination for president. CNN reporter Dan Merica tweeted a photo of the rally held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which seats 10,000 people and looks nearly full:
One reads of the crisis in Greece. And the one much closer to home in Puerto Rico. The crisis, that is, that inevitably comes after spending too much and taking on more debt than it is possible even to service, much less pay down. One thinks of how unfortunate it is for the people who will now redeem with pain, the promises made by the politicians of previous generations. And then, gives thanks that it can’t happen here.
Except … remember Detroit which once had the highest per-capita income of any American city and was obliged, not so long ago, to declare bankruptcy. And now, some early signs of distress in Chicago. As Bill Ruthhart and Heather Gillers of the Chicago Tribune report:
Chicago Public Schools officials warned Wednesday that without relief from their next massive pension contribution, they would have to make $500 million in additional cuts in the coming year, on top of looming cuts they say will be caused by this year's pension payment.
The inevitable crisis was deferred as:
The district has more than $1.1 billion in new short-term borrowing authority approved last week by the school board, on top of $500 million in authority it already had. But $700 million of the district's debt must be repaid by early October, with the rest due a year later.
That could lead to the district running out of cash to pay all its bills during the coming school year — unless there are significant education cuts, new revenue or a combination of the two.
As we have witnessed with the situation in Greece, when you hit that wall … you hit hard.
Senator Chuck Grassley has written a series of letters to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew demanding answers about a shady uranium deal with a company tied to the Clintons.
"On April 23, The New York Times reported on details regarding the Clinton Foundation’s ties to a number of investors involved in a business transaction that resulted in the acquisition of Uranium One, owner of U.S. based uranium assets, by Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), a subsidiary of Rosatom, a Russian government owned company. The transaction raised a number of national security concerns because it effectively ceded 20% of U.S. uranium production capacity to the Russian government. Due to that foreign involvement, a review of the transaction was conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), whose membership includes the Secretary of State and of which Treasury is the chair. In addition, during critical stages of the acquisition approval, interested parties made large donations – some in the millions of dollars – to the Clinton Foundation while Ms. Hillary Clinton held the position of Secretary of State. When millions of dollars flow to decision makers who have substantial discretion to provide support for or against approval of controversial transactions, public confidence in the integrity of the process requires a commitment to transparency and responsiveness to oversight inquiries," reads the letter from Senator Grassley to Attorney General Lynch.
Clinton Foundation Accepts Multiple Donations from Interested Parties in Deal
In light of the gravity of the decision to allow a Russian takeover of almost a quarter of U.S. uranium assets, it is in the public interest to determine the facts and circumstances of the transaction, including any potential donations that could have influenced the CFIUS review process. The purpose of CFIUS is to ensure that national security is not undermined by transactions that result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person.
The timing of donations to the Clinton Foundation raises the appearance of potential influence in CFIUS’s review process. According to The New York Times, in September 2005, Mr. Frank Giustra won a uranium deal in Kazakhstan for UrAsia, his company at the time.2 The deal was cut days after he visited the country with President Bill Clinton and after that deal in 2006, Mr. Giustra donated $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation.3 UrAsia eventually merged with a South African company and became Uranium One.
Everyone's equal, everyone's happy, love conquers all, and we are absolutely not heading to some dark, divisive place where the fabric of our society will be torn apart by people who, having invented "gay marriage" and imposed it on the entire country by a single Supreme Court justice, use it as a cudgel to wreak havoc on a host of other social and legal compacts which have ... Oh. Hold on. Couple pieces coming in over the transom ... Let's check them out.
Here's Fredrik DeBoer in Politico claiming that social justice demands we now legalize polygamy. Here are the mouthbreathers at Gawkerdoing the same, using Rod Dreher's Law of Merited Impossibility. Here's the ACLU's Louise Melling declaring that "religious freedom" is nothing more than illegal discrimination. (Note how the Washington Post headline actually puts scare quotes around the term "religious freedom" in the headline.) Here's Mark Oppenheimer arguing in Time that we ought to strip all religious groups-not just adoption agencies and schools, but actual churches, too-of their tax exempt status. Because gay marriage. (He's willing to let hospitals stay tax exempt, because Obamacare will keep them in line. So there's that.) And here's the delightful Felix Salmon, who thinks that Oppenheimer perhaps goes too far, because we need only target religious organizations--and again, he means not just para-church groups, but actual churches--who aren't onboard with "gay marriage."
At the risk of belaboring the point: This isn't a radical activist-this is a mainstream (-ish) financial reporter who now declares that individual churches not only could, but should be forced to perform same-sex weddings. Or face the loss of their tax-exempt status.
So maybe this love, pride, and unity stuff is a little more zero-sum than gay activists have been letting on for the past few years. And maybe the gay-marriage project doesn't really intend to stop with "gay marriage." Though in fairness, I should point out that the Politico call for legalized polygamy didn't come until nearly two hours after the Supreme Court decision. So clearly there's no link between those two beautiful expressions of #loveislove. And anyone who suggests that there is, is a homophobic bigot. And by next week, anyone objecting to polygamy will be a poly-phobic bigot.
The elite media types have been in bed with the elite national Democratic party types for so long that one hardly bothers to note it any longer. Still, it is a little jarring when the Hillary Clinton e-mails reveal this kind of panting sycophancy
"I spent yesterday with Les Gelb on Nantucket. He had lots to say which might be of interest, but I thought the most important thing to tell you is to make sure you are aware of the Parade magazine piece he wants to do about you [Clinton] … He would like to do a day in your life, when you meet with members of Congress and international figures. He wants to show the impact you are having domestically and internationally.”
Gelb, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner and former New York Times reporter, also “said he would give you [Clinton] a veto over content and looked me in the eye and said, 'she will like it.’”
T. Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner reports this and it is very much worth reading the whole thing.
… did not respond to the Examiner's request for comment.
Some Republican leaders are sharply criticizing the Obama administration for establishing official diplomatic ties with Cuba, the Caribbean island nation that has been under the control of Communist dictator Fidel Castro and his brother Raul since 1959. A number of GOP presidential candidates and the speaker of the House of Representatives have noted the continued oppression of the Cuban people under the Castros.
Obama announced Wednesday that the United States had reached a deal with the Castro regime that will see a reestablishment of full diplomatic relations with Cuba. "This is a historic step forward in our efforts to normalize our relationship with the Cuban government and people," Obama said in a statement outside the White House. "There have been very real, profound differences between our governments, and sometimes we allow ourselves to be trapped by a certain way of doing things. For the United States, that meant clinging to a policy that was not working. Instead of supporting democracy and opportunity for the Cuban people, our efforts to isolate Cuba, despite our good intentions, had the opposite effect."
Marco Rubio, a Florida senator and son of Cuban exiles, had a statement early Wednesday morning condemning the new policy. “Throughout this entire negotiation, as the Castro regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people, the Obama Administration has continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession," said Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate. "The administration's reported plan to restore diplomatic relations is one such prized concession to the Castro regime. It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President's December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people." Rubio added he would oppose the nomination of a U.S. ambassador to Cuba.
“The reopening of U.S. and Cuban embassies is the latest step in President Obama’s normalization of relations with the Castro regime, and the most recent example of this president’s foreign policy that ignores reality in exchange for surface level political 'wins,'" said former Texas governor Rick Perry, another GOP presidential candidate. "There is no indication that further normalization will do anything to actually liberate the Cuban people or advance American interests."
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush also weighed in, saying he opposes the announced deal as a "further embrace [of] the Castro regime" in Havana. "The real test of the Obama Administration’s rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba is not whether President Obama’s legacy is burnished with dubious diplomatic achievements and photo-ops, but whether improved relations between Havana and Washington advance the cause of human rights and freedom for the Cuban people," said Bush. "The ongoing detention of dissidents and continued human rights abuses suggest the Administration’s policy is failing this test."
A former solider who served most of 2003 in Iraq as a cavalry scout and is now suffering from PTSD was turned away from a VA facility in Georgia. When he went to another VA facility to make the same request, he made a record of the encounter on his smartphone. As Patricia Kime ofMilitary Times writes:
On the video, Dorsey is heard waiting patiently in line for more than 5 minutes. When he reaches the check-in counter, he informs the desk he needs a transfer from the Athens, Georgia, VA system and an appointment.
"We're not accepting any new patients — not this clinic," the VA employee behind the desk says, without providing any extra information, assistance or follow-on guidance for treatment.
Dorsey is still seeking treatment but:
… it seems unlikely he'll get that care close to home. His only remaining VA option is the medical center in Atlanta, more than 50 miles from his home.
The VA last year introduced a program — VA Choice — that would allow Dorsey to see a civilian therapist, but until he spoke with a fellow veteran at a nearby veterans' outreach group about his recent experiences at the two clinics, he'd never heard of VA Choice.
And none of the employees at either clinic mentioned it either.
So if the VA is taking no new patients, is the Army still enlisting new soldiers?
Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reported this morning that dozens of Hillary Clinton's emails are now be labeled classified. Clinton, of course, said that none of her emails were classified.
"What happened last night," Schmidt said of the email dump by the State Department, "was actually kind of interesting. The State Department went back and said they classified two dozen of her emails, portions of them, saying that information in them was now classified. They said it wasn't classified at the time but had to be redacted in the emails.
"Now if you recall she has said there was no classified information on the emails, but people at the State Department have said to me that they thought it was hard to believe that of all these 55,000 pages that she had, that she didn't have anything sensitive. And apparently it's sensitive enough now to not be disclosed."
The crisis in Greece remains … a crisis. After five years, during which time everyone who was paying attention said it was a crisis. And, of course, the crisis went unresolved. The end game may come soon but, then, who knows? But there seems to be a consensus of sorts building around the idea that it would be a bad thing if Greece were to leave the Eurozone. Bad for whom, one asks. The Greeks are in the Eurozone at present and it certainly hasn’t been good to them. Whatever their own sins – and they have been many – it is hard to see where membership is making their lives better. No money and no jobs, with a future that seems to come down to more pain.
The fault may not be with Greece so much as the whole enterprise of putting it into the eurozone with the Euro as common currency. This project was doomed from the start, as Milton Friedman said at the time. He appears, once more, to have called it.
If Greece does leave, we are told, then the whole enterprise may be in jeopardy. Which the global managers and bureaucrats cannot tolerate. Which is why, this afternoon, the U.S. Treasury Secretary:
… urged European leaders to find a solution to Greece’s debt crisis so that the country can remain within the eurozone,
Well, they had five years from the time they started noticing there was a problem. They put their best brains on it and they tried a number of fixes. Which seem to have a) postponed the day of reckoning and b) made things worse.
Maybe it is time to just let Greece go and if the Euro dies … well, nice try.
A new poll from Suffolk University and USA Today finds the majority of Americans do not want to debate gun control in the 2016 presidential election. According to the poll of 1,000 adults, 52 percent say they would not like gun control to be a "significant subject" during the election, with 43 percent saying they would.
“There is more desire to tighten than to loosen [gun laws]," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston, in a statement accompanying the release of the poll.
But that's not reflected in the poll results, which did not ask if gun control laws should be tightened or loosened. The poll found 56 percent said more restrictive gun laws would not prevent mass shootings in the U.S., while 76 percent said more access to guns would also not prevent mass shootings in the U.S., the findings don't necessarily mean there is "more desire to tighten" gun laws.
The poll was conducted just days after the mass shooting by a 21-year-old white man in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina that killed nine people. A plurality of those surveyed, 47 percent, said they believed the shooting was an isolated incident, while 38 percent said it reflected a "larger problem of racism" in the country. Nearly 59 percent said the shooting should not be characterized and treated as a terrorist attack, while 31 percent say it should.