The Daily Signal http://dailysignal.com/ Policy News, Conservative Analysis and Opinion Wed, 26 Apr 2017 14:04:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 http://dailysignal.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-favicon-32x32.png The Daily Signal http://dailysignal.com/ 32 32 Here’s How Wrong Past Environmental Predictions Have Been http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/26/heres-how-wrong-past-environmental-predictions-have-been/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/26/heres-how-wrong-past-environmental-predictions-have-been/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 04:01:16 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329902 Each year, Earth Day is accompanied by predictions of doom. Let’s take a look at past predictions to determine just how much confidence we can... Read More

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Each year, Earth Day is accompanied by predictions of doom.

Let’s take a look at past predictions to determine just how much confidence we can have in today’s environmentalists’ predictions.

In 1970, when Earth Day was conceived, the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate biology professor at Harvard University, predicted, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

Also in 1970, Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist and best-selling author of “The Population Bomb,” declared that the world’s population would soon outstrip food supplies.

In an article for The Progressive, he predicted, “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next 10 years.”

He gave this warning in 1969 to Britain’s Institute of Biology: “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

On the first Earth Day, Ehrlich warned, “In 10 years, all important animal life in the sea will be extinct.”

Despite such predictions, Ehrlich has won no fewer than 16 awards, including the 1990 Crafoord Prize, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ highest award.

In International Wildlife (July 1975), Nigel Calder warned, “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.”

In Science News (1975), C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization is reported as saying, “The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.”

In 2000, climate researcher David Viner told The Independent, a British newspaper, that within “a few years,” snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event” in Britain. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said. “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.”

In the following years, the U.K. saw some of its largest snowfalls and lowest temperatures since records started being kept in 1914.

In 1970, ecologist Kenneth Watt told a Swarthmore College audience:

The world has been chilling sharply for about 20 years. If present trends continue, the world will be about 4 degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990 but 11 degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.

Also in 1970, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., wrote in Look magazine: “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian (Institution), believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

Scientist Harrison Brown published a chart in Scientific American that year estimating that mankind would run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver were to disappear before 1990.

Erroneous predictions didn’t start with Earth Day.

In 1939, the U.S. Department of the Interior said American oil supplies would last for only another 13 years. In 1949, the secretary of the interior said the end of U.S. oil supplies was in sight.

Having learned nothing from its earlier erroneous claims, in 1974 the U.S. Geological Survey said the U.S. had only a 10-year supply of natural gas.

The fact of the matter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, is that as of 2014, we had 2.47 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas, which should last about a century.

Hoodwinking Americans is part of the environmentalist agenda. Environmental activist Stephen Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989:

We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said: “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

Americans have paid a steep price for buying into environmental deception and lies.

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Mike Lee Warns Trump About Taxpayer Funding of Soros Groups Overseas http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/25/mike-lee-warns-trump-about-taxpayer-funding-of-soros-groups-overseas/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/25/mike-lee-warns-trump-about-taxpayer-funding-of-soros-groups-overseas/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:51:26 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=330006 For eight years, U.S. foreign assistance was tied to a leftist political agenda rather than American interests, and it’s now up to President Donald Trump... Read More

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For eight years, U.S. foreign assistance was tied to a leftist political agenda rather than American interests, and it’s now up to President Donald Trump to correct that, Sen. Mike Lee said Tuesday.

“President Trump and his team must change the culture of American diplomacy,” @SenMikeLee says.

Lee took particular aim at U.S. support during the Obama administration for the overseas work of nonprofits bankrolled by liberal billionaire George Soros.

“Whatever one’s views about abortion, energy regulation, alternative family structures, they are neither core international priorities of the American people, nor essential to American national security. They are domestic political controversies, pet causes of a sort of privileged, globalist elite,” Lee said in the speech at The Heritage Foundation.

“Yet for eight years under President Obama’s administration, they were the substance of a global reeducation campaign, funded by … American taxpayers,” the Utah Republican said.

Lee made the remarks, in which he specifically criticized the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, ahead of a panel discussion on U.S. foreign assistance at The Heritage Foundation.

“President Trump and his team must change the culture of American diplomacy towards one that prioritizes American interests and respects the sovereignty and self-determination of other peoples,” Lee said.

Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal would cut funding for the State Department and USAID by 28 percent.

The senator noted that Eastern European countries are more socially conservative than Western European countries because of the influence of Catholic and Orthodox churches. He said they also are more economically conservative because of their past suffering under communism.

The citizens of countries such as Macedonia, Poland, and Albania see the U.S. government spending money on progressive political causes as a “well-funded external political activism that undermines legitimate governments and long-held cultural norms of their nations with leftist policies and leftist politicians,” Lee said, adding:

And who can question their concerns, when the State Department and USAID have provided millions of American taxpayer dollars to organizations in Eastern Europe associated with well-known progressive advocates like George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, who make no secrets about the kinds of politics they support?

The mission of USAID, which has a $22.7 billion annual budget, is to fight poverty and promote democracy abroad.

A State Department spokesman told The Daily Signal in a written statement that USAID money is properly accounted for.

“USAID is committed to accountability and transparency and to the oversight of U.S. government funds to ensure they are not subject to waste, fraud, or abuse,” the spokesman said in an email. “USAID regularly conducts rigorous reviews and audits of programs implemented by partner organizations. These reviews are conducted to measure the programs’ effectiveness and efficiency and to ensure their compliance with applicable statutes, regulations, and policies.”

Lee’s chief example was Macedonia:

Macedonia today is embroiled in a governing crisis that has been brought about largely by external interference in domestic issues and political processes. The crisis has deepened the political divide in the country and threatens to inflame ethnic tensions.

Such unrest is like an engraved invitation to an opportunist like [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, who can inflame divisions and actively court populations who feel that they have been betrayed by the United States.

From 2012 through 2016, USAID gave $4.8 million to Foundation Open Society-Macedonia, a division of the Soros-funded nonprofit, “in partnership with four local civil society organizations,” according to the agency’s website.

The conservative government watchdog Judicial Watch has sued the State Department and USAID for detailed information about funding for Foundation Open Society-Macedonia.

Open Society Foundations spokesman Maxim Tucker disputed much of Lee’s comments about the Soros-funded groups in a statement to The Daily Signal. Tucker said in an email:

Senator Lee must know that since 1973, U.S. law prohibits USAID from funding groups that support abortion as a method of family planning–it’s simply false to suggest that the Open Society Foundations or its affiliated organizations use USAID funding to promote abortion rights abroad.

Indeed, we administer only a fraction of USAID funding and that money goes on to local organizations working on local issues–such as health care, infrastructure, education, community activism, and journalism. We do spend nearly a billion dollars of our own money each year funding a wide range of groups that promote human rights, democracy, and good governance.

In central and Eastern Europe, these groups are increasingly attacked or smeared by corrupt and authoritarian governments seeking to deflect legitimate criticism of their leadership.

Lee and five other Republican senators last month wrote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking for a review of USAID dollars going to fund political causes, including Soros’ Open Society Foundations.

“The department’s initial response was dismissive of our concerns, and refused to promise any such review,” Lee said during his remarks Tuesday, which may be seen in their entirety here:

“The immediate priority for the Trump administration is to get the right appointees into key positions at the State Department and USAID,” Lee said later, adding:

President Trump, Secretary Tillerson, and other administration officials must also clarify the position of the United States on a number of foreign policy issues, especially in areas where the Obama administration left a damaging impact or caused confusion about U.S. priorities.

USAID doesn’t have a presence in Ireland, for example, according to James Walsh, a former member of Ireland’s senate. Walsh spoke at Heritage’s forum about how the State Department has backed progressive causes in Ireland, including abortion and same-sex marriage.

Walsh said “the most prominent support for so-called progressive causes” has come from U.S.-based nonprofits.

However, Walsh said, the U.S. Embassy in Dublin provided financial help to set up the LGBT group Shout Out. He said that group had “a very prominent role” in Ireland’s 2015 referendum that legalized same-sex marriage.

Walsh added:

The known support from the official U.S. government sources may be relatively modest, but it contributes greatly to an impression which the rhetoric of the Obama administration strongly underlined. And that is that the U.S. government is actively and vigorously promoting these euphemistically called progressive causes around the world and is prepared to interfere in what many people would regard as a matter exclusively for the domain of the people of that particular country.

The State Department did not have an immediate answer for The Daily Signal  about whether the embassy financially supported the new lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender group in Ireland.

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What Trump Has Done on Foreign Policy, National Security in First 100 Days http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/25/what-trump-has-done-on-foreign-policy-national-security-in-first-100-days/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/25/what-trump-has-done-on-foreign-policy-national-security-in-first-100-days/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 22:09:22 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=330000 In his first 100 days, President Donald Trump—who campaigned on an “America first” platform—has used the power of his office to act on the world... Read More

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In his first 100 days, President Donald Trump—who campaigned on an “America first” platform—has used the power of his office to act on the world stage.

He’s approved the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad in retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians.

He’s accelerated the fight against terrorism, dictating more power to the military as it continues the Obama administration campaign of airstrikes and limited on-the-ground support for local forces combating ISIS and al-Qaeda. Trump’s empowering of the military was perhaps most visible when the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., dropped what the Pentagon has nicknamed the “mother of all bombs” on an ISIS cave complex in Afghanistan.

The Trump administration has also pressured China to help limit the nuclear and missile capability of North Korea, using strong rhetoric against both countries.

Foreign policy and national security analysts say it’s difficult to evaluate the meaning of these actions, and others, until the Trump administration, which has been slow to hire State and Defense Department staff, reveals overarching strategies to confront the world’s crises.

“The word that comes to mind when I think of his foreign policy in these first 100 days is tactical,” said Jasmine El-Gamal, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who has worked for the Pentagon as an adviser on Middle East issues.

“Everything seems to be a reaction to something without being placed into a larger context, and that makes it really hard to understand the direction he is headed,” El-Gamal told The Daily Signal in an interview.

Even if it’s hard to decipher the actions of an outsider president who threatened to take a tougher approach to allies and enemies alike in the campaign, analysts say Trump has strived to showcase areas of contrast with his predecessor, President Barack Obama.

“What the president has managed to do is begin to restore the credibility and deterrence of the United States, which is very important because both were largely eroded over the last eight years,” said Clifford May, the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

In trying to project an image of a decisive—yet unpredictable—leader, critics say the Trump administration has failed to present a coherent foreign policy.

“There is no real core body of principles other than a transactional view of the world, which is how he approaches everything,” said Eliot Cohen, a former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Victoria Coates, a senior director for strategic communications at the National Security Council and special assistant to Trump, described the president’s foreign policy as “very focused on American priorities” while also cognizant of international obligations.

“He thinks about the U.S. in terms of being an aspirational nation—that this country is an example to the rest of the world, and the best thing we can do for the world is to keep America strong and secure,” Coates told The Daily Signal in an interview. “He is an international businessman. He is not looking to shut out the rest of the world. But he is very focused on American priorities and interests.”

Below is a recap of foreign policy and national security actions and themes from the first 100 days of the Trump administration, and what they say about the president’s evolving approach to the world.

Syria Strike and the Middle East

Trump’s approval of a strike against a Syrian air base this month—the first direct assault on the Assad regime in six years of civil war—was the most dramatic foreign policy action of Trump’s first 100 days.

The fast action was cheered by allies and establishment foreign policy thinkers who described it as indicative of Trump’s flexibility to react to events as they happen, and to lean on his team of national security advisers.

But analysts say Trump’s decision to strike, and immerse himself into a war he strived to avoid, has also presented new questions about how the administration will balance the dual challenges of fighting ISIS, and managing the future of Assad, whose brutality many blame for inflaming terrorism in the region.

“The Syria strike was a one-off spasm to a particularly hideous crime, and Trump did the right thing, but firing a few missiles does not a policy make,” Cohen said.

The Syrian regime of Bashar Assad is blamed for inflaming terrorism in the Middle East. (Photo: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters/Newscom)

The Syrian regime of Bashar Assad is blamed for inflaming terrorism in the Middle East. (Photo: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters/Newscom)

Since the strike, the Trump administration, depending on who’s talking, has communicated different views on its priorities in Syria.

“The Syria strike was a very powerful signal that there is a new sheriff in town who doesn’t mess around and will do things differently, but again, that’s optics and tactics,” Middle East expert El-Gamal said. “If you look on the ground in Syria, not much has changed. People are still dying every day; there’s been reports of chlorine attacks by the Assad regime. Whether the strike represents a shift from the Obama administration’s reluctance to get involved in the Middle East is not clear yet.”

>>> After Missile Attack, the Challenges Facing Trump in Syria

The Trump administration insists the missile strike in Syria was not meant as a significant policy shift away from its primary focus of defeating ISIS, and consistent with the president’s priority of acting in America’s interest first.

“The president has been very clear he is not planning to overthrow Assad by military force,” Coates told The Daily Signal. “This is not a return to Iraq or Afghanistan in terms of regime change. ISIS is interested in attacking the U.S., and has inspired attacks on the homeland, so that has to be the top priority. But the president wants Assad to at least think twice before using chemical weapons again, and we’ve been clear we’d like to see a negotiated political settlement in Syria.”

Beyond Syria, Trump has moved to tighten relations with traditional Middle East allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, overlooking human rights issues in those countries to partner with them in the fight against terrorism. The Trump administration has also adopted a more adversarial approach to Iran, by quickly imposing sanctions on entities and individuals involved in Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

Trump has for now kept in place the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, but the administration says it is reviewing the agreement.

“Trump has very vividly embraced some of our longstanding traditional partners in the region, while also putting Iran on notice,” said Brian Katulis, a foreign policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Contesting North Korea Threat

Trump has sought to take a tougher tone on North Korea after its latest weapons tests, including a failed missile test this month.

Speaking to United Nations ambassadors on Monday, Trump said “the status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable,” and that the U.N. Security Council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on the country.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that all options are on the table—including military action—and that the time for “strategic patience” is over.

Perhaps most significantly, Trump, like predecessors before him, has aimed to pressure China, North Korea’s powerful neighbor, to use its economic leverage over the Kim Jong Un regime.

A North Korean navy truck carries a submarine-launched ballistic missile during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founder. (Photo: Damir Sagolj/Reuters/Newscom)

A North Korean navy truck carries a submarine-launched ballistic missile during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founder. (Photo: Damir Sagolj/Reuters/Newscom)

In a new approach, Trump has explicitly threatened to punish China for its trade practices if Chinese President Xi Jinping doesn’t act to restrain North Korea. China says it has already suspended all coal imports from North Korea. North Korea, meanwhile, has responded to the Trump administration’s calls for more aggressive action with tough rhetoric of its own. The country’s foreign ministry recently released a statement saying “such intimidation and blackmail can never frighten” North Korea.

“We have no good options with North Korea, but the best of the options is to get China to feel some sense of responsibility to get serious about its client next store,” May, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said.

“From Trump, we have seen important carrots and sticks,” May added. “Trump having dinner with Xi when he announced the Syria strike probably alerted Xi to the idea this is a different kind of administration. Trump is making a serious attempt to make Xi consider, maybe I need to do something in North Korea because I can’t get away with not doing anything.”

Others are more cautious in evaluating Trump’s reliance on China to deter North Korea.

“The Trump administration will go down that hole and realize they will come to the same place that everyone else has, that the Chinese won’t be the ones to bring down the North Korean regime,” Cohen said.

Relations With Europe and Russia

Trump has walked back contrarian views he took in the campaign against Western institutions such as NATO and the European Union.

The president recently said NATO is “no longer obsolete” and he took credit for recent commitments by some member countries to pay more for defense.

The Trump administration’s level of commitment to the European Union has been less transparent, at a moment when populist parties across the continent are contesting the idea of European integration.

“It is very much up to the individual countries of Europe whether they wish to remain in the EU or not, and the U.S. will continue to deal with the EU and look for relationships with individual nation-states to pursue our interests,” Coates told The Daily Signal.

As Russia continues its campaign of election interference in the West, and refused to buck its support for Assad in Syria, Trump has proceeded more cautiously with his campaign promise to improve relations with Moscow. Earlier this month, Trump referred to relations with Russia as being at an “all-time low.”

The FBI and House and Senate intelligence committees are currently investigating Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election, including potential links between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

“The issues we have encountered have been on the Russian side,” Coates said. “Moscow continues to wreak havoc in eastern Ukraine, continues to enable and empower Assad, and we don’t think that’s helpful. Certainly, we are willing to work with Russia on counterterrorism issues, and we remain interested in the possibilities, but as Secretary of State Tillerson made extremely clear on his recent visit to Moscow, this is a two-way street.”

Military Emphasis

In addition to delegating more authority to the military, Trump has committed to providing the armed forces with more funding.

Trump’s budget proposal seeks to increase defense spending by $54 billion.

In contrast, the budget for the State Department and the Agency for International Development, or USAID, would be cut by 28 percent.

Katulis said the Trump administration must support its increasing military efforts with a “day after” strategy to help resolve underlying political and sectarian disputes that drive violence in places like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

“If we are gutting and cutting the State Department that is trying to help these countries on non-military fronts, what that may be doing in the Middle East is signaling a military-centric strategy that does not confront the core issues that are at the heart of terrorism,” Katulis said.

James Carafano, a foreign policy expert at The Heritage Foundation, says that Trump’s national security team, including Defense Secretary James Mattis and H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser, appreciates the importance of diplomacy more than most generals.

“The generals he’s selected recognize the importance of statecraft and diplomacy,” said Carafano, who advised the Trump campaign and transition team on foreign policy. “These would be the first generals to tell you generals can’t do it all.”

Carafano notes that Nikki Haley, Trump’s ambassador to the U.N., has used her perch to call for diplomatic resolutions to the war in Syria.

“This administration has shown a commitment to peace through strength, and is being constructive in the balancing of soft and hard power,” Carafano said. “The proposed State Department cuts are less about diminishing the soft power instruments. It’s about right-sizing them and focusing them on the core job of statecraft.”

Cohen said the most telling evidence of Trump’s foreign policy will show itself when the president inevitably confronts a crisis he doesn’t expect.

“My sense is what he is doing is listening to his military advisers who have a fairly standard set of views,” Cohen said. “I think Trump is going to be inclined to be hands-off until something blows up in his face, and then he will be hands-on. He will be at the mercy of events, like all presidents are.”

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Demonstrators Descend on Heritage Foundation to Protest Trump Budget http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/25/demonstrators-descend-on-heritage-foundation-to-protest-trump-budget/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/25/demonstrators-descend-on-heritage-foundation-to-protest-trump-budget/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 22:08:50 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=330003 Demonstrators and activists opposed to President Donald Trump descended upon The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday to protest the think tank’s budget plan and attempt to... Read More

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Demonstrators and activists opposed to President Donald Trump descended upon The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday to protest the think tank’s budget plan and attempt to bring the organization to a halt.

Approximately 200 protesters entered the lobby of the think tank’s Capitol Hill headquarters Tuesday morning and protested against The Heritage Foundation’s budget document, called “Blueprint for Balance.”

The Heritage Foundation is the parent organization of The Daily Signal.

The group spent nearly an hour at the think tank, holding signs stating “A Budget for the People,” “A Budget for Health Communities,” and “A Budget for Immigration” and chanting “water not walls” and “shut it down” before moving to protest outside of The Heritage Foundation’s Capitol Hill headquarters.

There, a number of speakers addressed the crowd of activists and criticized Heritage for the role it played in crafting Trump’s budget.

“Trump is a puppet of The Heritage Foundation,” one woman told the crowd outside of the organization.

Protesters criticized The Heritage Foundation for its “Blueprint for Balance,” a 230-page document with recommendations for the 2018 budget.

The budget document was crafted by more than two dozen scholars at the think tank.

Trump adopted many of the recommendations from The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 “Blueprint for Balance,” released last year, in his own 2018 budget, which the protesters disagreed with.

However, it’s ultimately the responsibility of Congress to draft and pass the federal budget.

“These groups do not represent the majority of Americans who have continually called for a return to fiscal discipline and an end to ballooning federal debt,” Sarah Mills, a spokeswoman for The Heritage Foundation, said in a statement. “If the protesters were serious about reforming the way Washington works, they would join us in fighting for an end to special interest policies that harm the American people.”

“Heritage will not back down. We will keep fighting for a responsible budget, a pro-growth tax system, a repeal of Obamacare, and a stronger national defense—only then will we have opportunity for all and favoritism to none,” she continued.

The Daily Signal made multiple attempts to speak with protesters. However, all demonstrators approached said they couldn’t speak with the media. One woman told The Daily Signal—which identified itself as being affiliated with The Heritage Foundation—that protesters would not speak with anyone from the think tank.

Event organizers who were authorized to speak with the media were not made available.

The protesters were affiliated with a group called People’s Action, a Chicago-based nonprofit founded in 2016.

People’s Action did not return The Daily Signal’s requests for comment.

The protest at The Heritage Foundation was part of a larger, three-day “founding convention” that took place this week at a hotel in Washington, D.C.

According to the organization’s website, the conference was the birthplace of a “new political force comprised of people united against the Trump-Ryan-McConnell agenda,” a reference to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

During the convention, attendees heard from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; and political activist Van Jones, among others. They also attended various trainings on issues including health care, climate change, and immigration, according to a schedule of events.

Before heading to The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday morning, conference attendees protested Trump’s budget in front of the White House. They then boarded buses bound for an undisclosed location, which turned out to be the think tank, Phillip Stucky, a political reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation who accompanied the protesters, told The Daily Signal.

After the demonstration outside of the think tank, activists then attended a lunch with Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.

The conference this week was sponsored by the Democracy Alliance, National Education Association, Communications Workers of America, and others, according to a program booklet.

According to its website, People’s Action is part of a larger network of groups, including Alliance for a Just Society, National People’s Action, and USAction Education Fund.

People’s Action and National People’s Action, a network of grassroots organizations, operate out of the same office in Chicago. The latter group was founded in 1972 and has received at least $1.3 million in funding from billionaire investor George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, according to GuideStar, an organization that tracks nonprofits.

Neither the Open Society Foundations nor a representative for Soros returned The Daily Signal’s request for comment. National People’s Action also did not return The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

National People’s Action was involved in an earlier protest against Trump and The Heritage Foundation that took place in Chicago last month.

On March 21, between 100 and 200 demonstrators descended on the Bank of America Building in Chicago protesting Trump’s budget cuts, some of which were proposed in The Heritage Foundation’s budget blueprint.

Fair Economy Illinois and the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, an affiliate of National People’s Action, organized the demonstration, which targeted Anthony Saliba, a member of The Heritage Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

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The Pentagon Has a ‘Ghost Soldiers’ Problem http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/the-pentagon-has-a-ghost-soldiers-problem/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/the-pentagon-has-a-ghost-soldiers-problem/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:53:02 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329925 Since 2002, billions of U.S. tax dollars have been spent rebuilding Afghanistan after decades of war. A big chunk of that money pays Afghan soldiers... Read More

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Since 2002, billions of U.S. tax dollars have been spent rebuilding Afghanistan after decades of war. A big chunk of that money pays Afghan soldiers and police. But it turns out a lot of those troops may not, in fact, exist. We investigate how your tax money is being wasted on “ghost soldiers.”

Here’s my interview with John Sopko, who is the inspector general watching over the U.S. taxpayer billions spent to rebuild Afghanistan.

>>> Find out when and where you can watch “Full Measure”

Sharyl Attkisson:  When you say “ghosts,” what are you referring to?

John Sopko: What we’re talking about are policemen, Afghan policemen, Afghan military, Afghan civil servants who don’t exist or they have multiple identity cards and we’re paying their salaries. By “we” I mean the United States and the international community…

For years, multiple audits have shown there’s no way to prove that the money we send for salaries is going to a real live body. And the payroll numbers just don’t add up. For example, Sopko says, in June 2016 the supposed number of Afghan military and police was 319,595. But an Afghan official told the Associated Press “the best internal estimate” of the real number was “around 120,000.”

Attkisson: This implies fraud, obviously.

Sopko: Absolutely. Major fraud. And what’s happening is the commanders or generals or other higher officials are actually pocketing the salaries of the ghosts. And I remember President [Ashraf] Ghani, again, at that time he wasn’t president, saying, “John, you, the United States government, are paying the salary of an Afghan who’s a teacher, he’s a civil servant, he’s a doctor, he is a policeman, and he’s a soldier. And it’s the same Afghan. And he doesn’t exist.”

Attkisson: What kind of money are we talking about?

Sopko: Hundreds of millions of dollars, we’re talking about, that may be lost.

Attkisson: In multiple letters and audits, Sopko has taken the Pentagon, which manages the money, to task stating, “Persistent reports raise questions regarding whether the U.S. government is taking adequate steps to prevent taxpayer funds from being spent on so-called ‘ghost soldiers.'” And he says the “ghost” phenomenon extends beyond Afghan and security paychecks to other forms of aid.

Sopko: It’s not just the salaries. We’re funding schools based on the number of students, so if you invent or inflate the number of students, you’re going to be paying more money. On the soldiers and police, we’re paying for extra boots, food for everything else and logistics for numbers that don’t exist.

Attkisson: Is there any way to tell who’s taking the money?

Sopko: It’s difficult because of the security situation. It’s really up to the Afghans or designing systems for the Afghans to implement.

The Pentagon is implementing a new system of biometrics in Afghanistan, using fingerprints, photos, and blood type. It recently said up to 95 percent of Afghan police and 70 to 80 percent of soldiers are now enrolled. The idea is to dispense with old ghosts, and ensure proof of life among a faraway force funded by U.S. taxpayers. The Pentagon expects to complete its person-by-person verification of Afghan’s army and police in July.

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Why Record Numbers of Americans Are Renouncing Their Citizenship http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/why-record-numbers-of-americans-are-renouncing-their-citizenship/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/why-record-numbers-of-americans-are-renouncing-their-citizenship/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:25:26 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329917 Would you give up your citizenship in order to keep your bank account? That’s a question few Americans would ever want to confront, yet many... Read More

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Would you give up your citizenship in order to keep your bank account?

That’s a question few Americans would ever want to confront, yet many Americans living abroad are now having to answer.

A little-known tax law, known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, has resulted in some foreign banks no longer serving Americans.

The law, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, was intended to make it harder for Americans to keep money overseas and out of the reach of the IRS. The primary target was rich Americans allegedly hiding money from tax collectors.

To find tax avoiders, foreign banks are conscripted by the U.S. government to serve as a compliance arm of the IRS. As a result, many of these stranded Americans have had to make the undoubtedly difficult decision to give up their citizenship just to continue to access their banking services.

Last year, 5,411 people renounced their U.S. citizenship, the largest number of published expatriates in one year, continuing a four-year streak of record-breaking numbers.

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requires foreign financial institutions, such as banks, to identify and report to the United States most types of transactions for all American clients.

These new regulations are enforced by the threat of applying a 30 percent withholding tax on revenues generated in the United States by the noncompliant foreign financial institution.

The reporting burden and withholding penalty faced by foreign banks trying to comply with the new regulations has made it easier for some Americans to renounce their citizenship than to find a bank that is willing to bear the bureaucratic costs of complying with the law.

These penalties are not just hitting the rich, and they are not just harming tax dodgers. The cost of complying with this law hits every American living overseas, not just those targeted by the original legislation.

Middle-class Americans living abroad who are fully compliant with U.S. tax laws are losing their mortgages, business bank accounts, and personal banking services. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act has unintentionally ruined some Americans’ livelihoods.

To add insult to injury, the cost of implementing this law may soon outpace the money that it brings in.

Furthermore, the direct cost to taxpayers does not include the compliance costs to financial institutions. A legal challenge to the law in 2015 estimated compliance costs alone were on track to total more than the 10-year revenue estimates.

These regulatory costs can discourage international business, slow investment, and hamper the global economy.

The root of the problem is more than just compliance costs, it’s the U.S. government’s presumption that it is entitled to your money even if it’s earned in another country.

The U.S. is one of just a few countries that claims taxing rights on labor income earned abroad. Such a system of worldwide taxation hurts the American economy and makes it much harder for Americans to live abroad

Hopefully, relief from this law is around the corner. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently released a bill that would repeal the onerous regulations.

Congress and the IRS should focus on the U.S. domestic tax system and leave Americans living abroad alone. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act is yet another example of continued government overreach.

Hopefully, tax reform will bring with it relief for all Americans—including those living overseas.

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It’s Almost Impossible to Find Out the Cost of a Medical Procedure. This Company Is Trying to Change That. http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/its-almost-impossible-to-find-out-the-cost-of-a-medical-procedure-this-company-is-trying-to-change-that/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/its-almost-impossible-to-find-out-the-cost-of-a-medical-procedure-this-company-is-trying-to-change-that/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 21:16:03 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329911 For a patient looking to see a doctor for any given medical procedure, costs often vary wildly based on the facility or physician. Take non-surgical... Read More

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For a patient looking to see a doctor for any given medical procedure, costs often vary wildly based on the facility or physician.

Take non-surgical repair for a broken ankle.

For a 26-year-old female insured by Cigna who chooses a top-rated orthopedic surgeon in Washington, D.C., such a procedure costs $1,729.

But if she chooses another top-rated orthopedic surgeon in nearby College Park, Maryland, the procedure costs $1,199.

That’s according to a company called Amino, which mines data from billions of health insurance claims from the private and public sectors. Amino then gives patients access to information on the cost of various procedures and how much experience doctors nationwide have in those procedures.

And in the age of rising deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for health care, this Silicon Valley-based company is working to put more of such information in the hands of  patients.

An alumnus of Zillow, a real estate company that provides data on the housing market, Amino CEO David Vivero decided to start the company in 2013 based on what he personally had gone through in searching for a new insurance plan.

Because Vivero has a pre-existing condition, he realized he probably would have trouble finding a good insurance plan and a good doctor.

“I realized just having the consumer experience that health care had offered me was really frustrating,” Vivero says in an interview with The Daily Signal. “So I decided to build Amino to solve that.”

The company provides consumers with access to specifics about procedures, doctors, and costs generated by its massive database of health insurance claims from government and private-sector partners.

Users head to its website, Amino.com, and click through five screens—procedure, gender, age, location, and insurer, which is optional—before they’re presented with results for doctors based on quality and prices for more than 90 procedures.

Need a chest X-ray in the Arlington, Virginia, area?

For a 26-year-old female enrolled with UnitedHealthcare, the nation’s largest insurance provider, the procedure will cost $662 at Virginia Hospital Center, the top-billed facility.

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Need to repair a broken ankle in the Sarasota, Florida, region?

For a 48-year-old male insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, the procedure will cost $2,029 to see the top-rated doctor for fixing a broken ankle.

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The website doesn’t have any ads or sponsorships, and because of this, Vivero says, he hopes Amino can offer “truth” to health care consumers.

“By committing to not taking advertisements or allowing for providers of care to bid up, we can promise the results are data-driven for consumers,” he says.

Vivero says he believes that having access to this information helps consumers make more informed choices about their health care:

Transparency can really change markets. Having an empowered consumer was really something that would really create both a competent set of choices, and also solve problems for insurance plans and providers who are now dealing with the realities of this emerging consumer class in health care.

And as deductibles on health care plans have continued to rise, leaving consumers to pay more out of their own pockets, more companies see a market for showing patients the costs of medical procedures.

“When people pay their own way, they’ll start to shop and demand prices,” Twila Brase, president of the consumer group Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, tells The Daily Signal. “Lots of people wanted to force doctors to be transparent about their prices, but it didn’t matter until people pay their bills.”

When it first launched, Amino provided users with information on the quality of doctors featured on the site.

In October 2015, the company introduced a service allowing users to tap into its database of doctors nationwide to determine which they like based on how much experience doctors have with specific conditions and the insurance accepted. It also allows users to book an appointment.

And last year, the health care company unveiled its cost estimates, allowing patients to find the costs of 49 different services or procedures and estimate what they may have to pay based on their insurer.

Today, Amino provides cost estimates for more than 90 procedures.

“They’ve been able to finally compare and understand the prices that are available for them, which is a huge opportunity for the average consumer,” Vivero says of users.

‘The Pioneers’

As of 2015, health care spending in the United States reached $3.2 trillion, according to the federal government, and health insurance data has been used by others in the industry to build actuarial models and combat fraud.

But Vivero says his company is the first to marry access to that data with patients’ desire for transparency.

“As it relates to using this data to empower consumers to feel informed and confident in their health care choices, we feel we’re the pioneers,” Vivero says.

The company is one of several ushering in a new era of transparency in health care, fueled by higher deductibles and the increased amount patients pay out of their own pockets.

“As deductibles rise in health care, more and more decisions become the sole financial responsibility of that head of household or that individual insured member,” Vivero says. “As a result of that, the information appetite that people have has grown substantially.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the size of deductibles increased 12 percent in 2016 for consumers in the group market.

For employers with fewer than 200 employees, 65 percent of workers are in high-deductible plans, with the average deductible totaling $2,000.

In the individual market, deductibles have continued to rise as well.

According to an Avalere study of plans sold on Obamacare’s exchanges, combined deductibles—which include medical and drug deductibles—for silver-level plans jumped 20 percent from 2016 to 2017.

In 2016, for example, the average combined deductible for a silver-level plan was $3,075. In 2017, that rose to $3,703.

Though many patients began noticing a rise in deductibles after implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Kaiser Family Foundation notes that this trend began before Obamacare was signed into law.

Still, as consumers move toward health insurance plans with lower premiums in exchange for higher deductibles, they tend to desire more information on health care services.

“Private-sector companies see an opening because people are now forced to pay cash to meet their deductibles,” Brase, of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, says. “[Obamacare] has returned a cost-consciousness to a fair amount of people.”

Brase and her organization advocate a cash-based system of health care, where patients don’t have to rely on insurers to pay their bills. Removing insurers from the equation allows patients to negotiate prices directly with providers, she says.

But those with insurance, Brase says, are becoming more aware of the impact medical procedures will have on their pocketbooks:

Transparency is really important because it moves us back to true sensitivity about prices. Because of Obamacare, it forced people into paying for their own bills, [and] they then naturally gravitated toward transparency. They started asking for prices, shopped around, and went on the internet.

Brase warns that in today’s system of health care, it’s difficult to know what the “true cost” of any given procedure is, since insurance companies negotiate prices directly with providers.

That means that even within the same hospital or medical facility, costs may vary.

But the push for more transparency in the health care industry can help get patients closer to solving that puzzle, Brase says.

“It brings us closer to the true cost,” she says. “It also brings the prices down because then there’s competition between the posted costs.”

‘Nuanced Choices’

Vivero says he has heard from many Amino users who use his company’s website for different purposes.

Some report that Amino helped save “tens of thousands of dollars,” he says. Other consumers praise the company for helping to avoid misdiagnoses, since they were able to find experienced doctors to get a second opinion.

And others changed their habits of health care consumption based on the information Amino provided.

“Being able to see that information up front is incredibly empowering,” Vivero says of consumers, adding:

What they do with that is either to choose a physician, or sometimes they budget differently. Or they might decide to get that procedure done in one calendar year versus another. But at the very least, you have the information you need to make that informed choice.

To provide patients with cost estimates, Amino partnered with more than a dozen companies across the health care supply chain—health IT companies, payment processors, insurers—to compile data on patients’ health insurance claims.

That gave the company access to a trove of insurance information from the private sector.

Then, in 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—the federal agency that also oversees Obamacare—named Amino a “qualified entity,” making it the first for-profit company to receive the designation. As a qualified entity, the company received claims data from Medicare Parts A, B, and D.

Amino removed all identifying information from the data it received and, with the claims, built a database with information on which doctors take which insurers, how much different procedures cost, and how much consumers will pay.

Vivero says his company now has data from more than 9 billion health insurance claims, and Amino users can book appointments online with more than 900,000 doctors and facilities.

The company recently added Amino Plus, a service for insurance companies or employers that gives members access to additional information on their insurance plans, including plan documents, network data, and the current status of their deductibles and out-of-pocket maximum fees.

“The effect of that is to drive even greater use of in-network services so that … the consumer gets fewer surprise bills and so the employer gets fewer surprise bills and out-of-network charges,” Vivero says.

In March, Amino released a study with Ipsos, a market research company, exploring Americans’ attitudes about health care costs.

The study found that 63 percent of Americans said that receiving a medical bill they can’t afford is worse than or as bad as being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Additionally, 55 percent said they received a medical bill they couldn’t afford, and 1 in 5 said they avoid high medical bills by avoiding the doctor.

Vivero says Amino’s mission is to help patients make more informed decisions that save money.

“We hope to give them the information they need to make smart choices that in the long run are better for their wallets and better for their health,” he says.

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Congress Should Resist Cotton Cronyism in Upcoming Spending Measures http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/congress-should-resist-cotton-cronyism-in-upcoming-spending-measures/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/congress-should-resist-cotton-cronyism-in-upcoming-spending-measures/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:31:56 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329878 This week, Congress returns to Washington to address government funding. Unfortunately, two costly corporate welfare programs could be expanded. In the 2014 farm bill, Congress... Read More

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This week, Congress returns to Washington to address government funding.

Unfortunately, two costly corporate welfare programs could be expanded.

In the 2014 farm bill, Congress created two massive programs whose projected costs to taxpayers have nearly doubled. Originally projected to cost $18 billion over five years, the programs are now projected to cost a shocking $32 billion.

Now, Congress may be poised to use upcoming spending measures to further increase the scope and costs of these programs by making the cotton industry eligible to participate in them.

If cotton is included, the cost of these two programs—Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage—would further increase by an estimated $1 billion a year.

Cotton growers have lobbied Congress to be added to these programs, despite the fact that they already participate in the federal crop insurance program and had a special program created just for them in the previous farm bill (called STAX).

Taxpayers already pay 62 percent of the premiums in the federal crop insurance program, and they also pay 80 percent of the premiums for the new cotton-only program, which covers minor losses for cotton growers.

But that’s not all.

Taxpayers are also paying $300 million to the Brazilian cotton industry as part of a 2014 settlement agreement. That agreement was struck in order to resolve a longstanding trade dispute with Brazil in response to past U.S. domestic cotton subsidies, which violated World Trade Organization rules.

This payment is in addition to about $500 million the U.S. paid to Brazil from 2010 to 2013.

If the situation were reversed, the U.S. would likely have done the same thing as Brazil to challenge market-distorting cotton subsidies.

Congress intentionally excluded cotton from the two massive new farm handout programs because of trade concerns that would arise if cotton were part of these programs.

This is why cotton has its own program. It makes no sense to jeopardize the already costly agreement with Brazil in order to give the cotton industry even more subsidies. Such a move would risk trade retaliation from Brazil.

If the past is any indication, Congress would just pay off Brazil with even more taxpayer dollars to maintain indefensible cotton subsidies.

There’s a very clear pattern when it comes to agricultural policy: Congress is constantly ignoring the interests of taxpayers in order to keep providing seemingly endless handouts to agribusinesses, including multimillion-dollar operations.

Bear in mind, this isn’t to help just in times of major crop losses. It’s also to help agribusinesses meet expected revenue targets.

Agricultural producers should be expected to manage ordinary business risk, just as other businesses do in a capitalist system—including small mom and pop shops.

It’s time for Congress to do something a bit “radical”: In the upcoming appropriations process, it should focus on protecting taxpayers and ensuring their money isn’t being spent in a wasteful and unjustified fashion that simply lines the pockets of agribusinesses.

This means it certainly shouldn’t add cotton to the two massive new handout programs. That would take agricultural special interest cronyism to an even more alarming level.

The post Congress Should Resist Cotton Cronyism in Upcoming Spending Measures appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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Former Obama Official Says Bureaucrats Manipulate Climate Stats to Influence Policy http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/former-obama-official-says-bureaucrats-manipulate-climate-stats-to-influence-policy/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/24/former-obama-official-says-bureaucrats-manipulate-climate-stats-to-influence-policy/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:12:25 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329874 A former member of the Obama administration claims Washington, D.C., often uses “misleading” news releases about climate data to influence public opinion. Former Energy Department... Read More

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A former member of the Obama administration claims Washington, D.C., often uses “misleading” news releases about climate data to influence public opinion.

Former Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin told The Wall Street Journal Monday that bureaucrats within former President Barack Obama’s administration spun scientific data to manipulate public opinion.

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“What you saw coming out of the press releases about climate data, climate analysis, was, I’d say, misleading, sometimes just wrong,” Koonin said, referring to elements within the Obama administration he said were responsible for manipulating climate data.

He pointed to a National Climate Assessment in 2014 showing hurricane activity has increased from 1980 as an illustration of how federal agencies fudged climate data. Koonin said the assessment was technically incorrect.

“What they forgot to tell you, and you don’t know until you read all the way into the fine print, is that it actually decreased in the decades before that,” he said. The U.N. published reports in 2014 essentially mirroring Koonin’s argument.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported there “is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century” and current data shows “no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century.”

Press officers work with scientists within agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA and are responsible for crafting misleading press releases on climate, he added.

Koonin is not the only one claiming wrongdoing. House lawmakers with the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, for instance, recently jump-started an investigation into NOAA after a whistleblower said agency scientists rushed a landmark global warming study to influence policymakers.

Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, the committee’s chairman, will “move forward as soon as possible” in asking NOAA to hand over documents included in a 2015 subpoena on potential climate data tampering.

Koonin, who served under Obama from 2009 to 2011, went on to lament the politicization of science suggested that the ethos should be to “tell it like it is. You’re a scientist and it is your responsibility to put the facts on the table.”

NASA and NOAA’s actions, he said, are problematic because “public opinion is formed by the data that is formed from those organizations and appears in newspapers.”

Neither agency responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact  licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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First Round of French Presidential Election a Blow to the Establishment http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/23/first-round-of-french-presidential-election-a-blow-to-the-establishment/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/23/first-round-of-french-presidential-election-a-blow-to-the-establishment/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 22:06:48 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329823 France held a presidential election Sunday under the looming threat of Islamist terrorism, and winnowed the field to two candidates at opposite ends of what... Read More

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France held a presidential election Sunday under the looming threat of Islamist terrorism, and winnowed the field to two candidates at opposite ends of what has become the new ideological battle line of our era: nationalism vs. globalism, for lack of better terms.

One candidate, Marine Le Pen, hails from the pitchfork end of European blood-and-soil nationalism. The other candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is a We-Are-The-World internationalist cut in the mold of Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau.

According to initial results, Macron won 23.7 percent of the vote, while Le Pen won 21.7 percent in what was the first round of this election. They will face off in the second runoff round of elections on May 7. None of the other nine candidates running Sunday got above 20 percent support. Le Pen wants to end immigration to France, saying the country is full.

Macron is heavily favored to win in the second round, though. Of course, polls have been wrong in the past.

The two are archetypes of the new global struggle that has replaced the old left-right paradigm. Their reactions to a terrorist attack on Thursday on France’s main boulevard, the Champs Elysees, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, epitomized their outlooks.

Following the attack, Macron wondered on French Radio whether terrorism is a new normal to which the French must become accustomed.

“This threat, this imponderable problem, is part of our daily lives for the years to come,” Macron said.

Le Pen said she would deport everyone on the terror watch list, even those born in France, shut down all Islamist mosques, and close French borders.

Le Pen leads the far-right National Front, founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, whom she ousted as leader to “de-demonize” the party after years of anti-Semitic and racist statements by him.

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen will participate in the May 7 electoral runoff. (Photo: Panoramic/ZUMA Press/Newscom)

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen will participate in the May 7 electoral runoff. (Photo: Panoramic/Zuma Press/Newscom)

Macron founded his own movement, En Marche!, after serving as economy minister for the current Socialist president, Francois Hollande.

Their victory amounted to a complete collapse of the two parties that have mostly alternated in power since Gen. Charles de Gaulle created France’s Fifth Republic in 1958, the right-of-center Gaullists and the leftist Socialists. The only exception to this two-party system was the election of centrist President Valerie Giscard d’Estaing in the 1970s.

Because Macron and Le Pen come from parties without large political bases, it is unlikely that either will benefit from a legislative majority that will emerge after elections on June 11 and 18. Macron, however, is widely expected to be able to cobble together a supportive coalition should he win the presidential election in May.

There’s no question that Le Pen’s suite of policies and stances fit much better with President Donald Trump’s outlook. Trump predicted two days ago that she would benefit from the terrorist attack.

Le Pen, 48, wants to pull France out of the “Schengen Area” of 26 European countries that have dissolved external borders, and out of the European Union’s common currency, the euro.

But she is also close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, from whom the Trump administration is now trying to put some distance. Le Pen said she would consider lifting economic sanctions on Russia if elected. Her campaign has benefited from Russian bank loans and the support of Putin’s vast propaganda empire.

Macron, 39, is the candidate that best fits the style of Angela Merkel, Germany’s powerful chancellor. Of the 11 candidates who ran on Sunday, Macron most closely echoes Merkel’s staunch support for a strong and expanding European Union, her pro-immigration policies, and her desire to keep in place economic sanctions on Russia. His promises to introduce economic reforms also please Berlin.

French presidential candidate, Emmanuel Macron, is the early favorite to win the May 7 runoff election. (Photo: Pierre Villard/SIPA/Newscom)

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is the early favorite to win the May 7 runoff election. (Photo: Pierre Villard/SIPA/Newscom)

Merkel’s aversion to Le Pen is so strong—and so richly reciprocated—that The Economist remarked on Sunday, using the name of the German foreign ministry, that “There is no file sitting in a locked drawer somewhere in the Auswärtiges Amt with contingency plans for a Le Pen win.”

But even a Macron-led France can work with the Trump administration. In Africa, for example, Paris can make the case to the White House that its troops fight terrorism every day in a place that seems to be next front line for ISIS and al-Qaeda. It is likely that the administration would see even a Macron-led France as a partner in this endeavor.

Despite their differences, Le Pen and Macron have distinct similarities. They are both big government types.

Le Pen is a champion of public services, would tax companies that outsource manufacturing, and would not touch France’s economically nefarious 35-hour workweek. She also refuses to cut down France’s bloated civil servant rolls.

Macron says he wants “flexibility” for young Frenchmen when it comes to the workweek. But he can see reducing the workweek for people above 50 to 32 hours or even 30 hours. “Why not?” he asks.

Macron also wants to spend an additional 50 billion euros during the upcoming five-year presidential term. He wants a eurozone budget and finance minister. He would not raise France’s low retirement age of 62, but at least he would not lower it even further to 60, which is what Le Pen promises to do.

And there’s no question that in choosing these two candidates, French voters have snubbed the political establishment. If the election of Trump was American voters throwing a brick through the window of the East Coast establishment, this was the French voters hurling a Molotov Cocktail into the still smoke-filled rooms of France’s political class.

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13 Ways Trump Has Rolled Back Government Regulations in His First 100 Days http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/23/11-ways-trump-has-rolled-back-government-regulations-in-his-first-100-days/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/23/11-ways-trump-has-rolled-back-government-regulations-in-his-first-100-days/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 19:24:08 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329751 As President Donald Trump reaches his 100th day in the White House on April 29, he will have worked with Congress to rescind more regulations using... Read More

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As President Donald Trump reaches his 100th day in the White House on April 29, he will have worked with Congress to rescind more regulations using the Congressional Review Act than any other president.

“We’re excited about what we’re doing so far. We’ve done more than that’s ever been done in the history of Congress with the CRA,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., told The Daily Signal in an interview, referring to the law called the Congressional Review Act.

The Congressional Review Act, the tool Trump and lawmakers are using to undo these regulations, allows Congress to repeal executive branch regulations in a certain window of time.

“Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress is given 60 legislative days to disapprove a rule and receive the president’s signature, after which the rule goes into effect,” Paul Larkin, a senior legal research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, wrote in a February report. The 60 days begins after Congress is notified that a rule has been finalized.

Once the House and Senate pass a joint resolution disapproving of a particular regulation, the president signs the measure.

Passed in 1996 in concert with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America reform agenda, the Congressional Review Act is what the Congressional Research Service calls “an oversight tool that Congress may use to overturn a rule issued by a federal agency.”

The law also prevents agencies from creating similar rules with similar language.

Until this year, the law had been used successfully only oncein 2001, when Congress and President George W. Bush rescinded a regulation regarding workplace injuries promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration. 

Here’s a look at 11 regulatory rollbacks Congress has passed and Trump has signed:

1. Regulations governing the coal mining industry (H.J. Res 41).

Mandated by President Barack Obama and finalized in  2016, these regulations threatened to put domestic extraction companies and their employees at an unfair disadvantage,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

The resolution, signed by Trump in February, repealed the rule and “could save American businesses as much as $600 million annually,” Spicer said.

2. Regulations defining streams in the coal industry (H.J. Res 38).

“Complying with the regulation would have put an unsustainable financial burden on small mines,” Spicer said.

The so-called Stream Protection Rule included “vague definitions of what classifies as a stream,” Nick Loris, a fellow in energy and environmental policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email, and undoing it does away with ambiguities: 

For many regulations promulgated by the Obama administration, they fundamentally disregarded the nature of the federal-state relationship when it comes to energy production and environmental protection.

The Stream Protection Rule … removed flexibility from mining steps and simply ignored that states have regulations in place to protect water quality. State and local environmental agencies’ specific knowledge of their region enables them to tailor regulations to promote economic activity while protecting the habitat and environment.  

3. Regulations restricting firearms for disabled citizens (H.J. Res 40).

This rule, finalized during Obama’s last weeks in office, sought to “prevent some Americans with disabilities from purchasing or possessing firearms based on their decision to seek Social Security benefits,” Spicer said.

The repeal protects the Second Amendment rights of the disabled, Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. 

“Those rights will no longer be able to be revoked without a hearing and without due process. It will take more than the personal opinion of a bureaucrat,” Grassley said on the Senate floor.

But Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif.,  said the regulation didn’t cover “just people having a bad day,” adding:

These are not people simply suffering from depression or anxiety. These are people with a severe mental illness who can’t hold any kind of job or make any decisions about their affairs. So the law says very clearly they shouldn’t have a firearm.

4. A rule governing the government contracting process (H.J. Res. 37).

Undoing the regulation will cut costs to businesses and free federal contractors from “unnecessary and burdensome processes that would result in delays, and decreased competition for federal government contracts,” Spicer said

5. A rule covering public lands (H.J. Res. 44).

The rule gave the federal government too much power “to administer public lands,” in the words of the official website of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told The Daily Signal in an interview that the Bureau of Land Management’s rule restricted the control that states and their citizens had, especially in the West.

“The Obama administration wanted to shift land policy from local governments with specific expertise to the federal government, basically shifting even more of the land management policy away from those affected by it,” Lee said.

“Repealing this harmful rule will go a long way toward empowering local stakeholders and ensuring that Arizona’s cattlemen, miners, and rural land users have a voice in the planning process,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said in prepared remarks.

6. Reporting requirements regarding college teachers (H.J. Res. 58).

The rule mandated annual reporting by states “to measure the performance and quality of teacher preparation programs and tie them to program eligibility for participation in the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant program,” Spicer said.

Anne Ryland, a research assistant in education policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email that the rule “gave the federal Department of Education power to evaluate teacher preparation programs at universities, and to link college students’ access to federal financial aid in the form of TEACH grants to the rating of the programs.” 

“University programs,” Ryland added, “would be rated based on the effectiveness of their teaching graduates, with effectiveness determined by elementary and secondary students’ test scores and achievement gains.”

7. Regulations on state education programs (H.J. Res. 57).

Congress and Trump rescinded federal rules that “require states to have an accountability system based on multiple measures, including school quality or student success, to ensure that states and districts focus on improving outcomes and measuring student progress,” Spicer said.

The repeal is the first step in “a reconceptualization of Washington’s role in education,” Ryland said.  

“These regulations were prime examples of federal micromanagement,” she said. “They were highly prescriptive and highly complex, serving only to put more power in the hands of bureaucrats and to distract schools and teachers from the work of educating students.”

8. Drug-testing requirements (H.J. Res 42).

Spicer said the regulation mandates an “arbitrarily narrow definition of occupations and constrains a state’s ability to conduct a drug-testing program in its unemployment insurance system.”

Four Republican governors—Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Greg Abbott of Texas, Gary Herbert of Utah, and Phil Bryant of Mississippi—wrote Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to ask that states be allowed to implement their own policies.

“We believe this rule should be replaced with a new rule that allows increased flexibility for states to implement … drug testing that best fits the needs of each state,” the governors said in the February letter.

9. Hunting regulations for wildlife preserves in Alaska (H.J. Res 69).

These regulations restricted Alaska’s ability “to manage hunting of predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska,” Spicer said.

In a formal statement, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, called the rule “another example of the federal government’s determination these past eight years to destroy a state’s ability to manage their wildlife.”

10. Internet privacy rule (S.J.Res. 34).

Published during the final months of Obama’s presidency, the rule sought to force “new privacy standards on internet service providers, allowing bureaucrats in Washington to pick winners and losers in the industry,” Spicer said.  

Flake, who sponsored the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, said repeal helps keep consumers in charge of how they share their electronic information.

“My resolution is the first step toward restoring the [Federal Trade Commission’s] light-touch, consumer-friendly approach,” Flake said. “It will not change or lessen existing consumer privacy protections. It empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared.”

11. Rule for logging workplace injuries (H.J. 83).

This rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to squelch a more lenient one from the Labor Department. Spicer said the rule “disapproved” of a Labor regulation “extending the statute of limitation for claims against employers failing to maintain records of employee injuries.” 

“This OSHA power grab was completely unlawful,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., chairman of the House workforce protections subcommittee. “It would have done nothing to improve workplace safety while creating significant regulatory confusion for small businesses.”

Through extensive use of the Congressional Review Act, Collins said, Trump is establishing a “legacy” of deregulation.

“I think there’s really a legacy really to be had here,” the Republican congressman from Georgia said.

Congress, with backing from Trump, is making good on promises and saying, “We’re not going to allow our jurisdiction and our constitutional authority to be overrun by the executive branch,” Collins said.  

Past administrations from both parties, he said, have not been so devoted to deregulation.

“There was a definite disconnect between the previous administration, and even previous Republican administrations, on doing things on their own and not going through the proper legislative process,” Collins said.

  1. Allowed states to withhold funding from Planned Parenthood (H.J. Res 43).

This rule allows states to opt out of letting federal funds go to Planned Parenthood.

“This resolution that [Trump] signed today overturns a regulation that was put in place by the previous administration on their way out the door that would have taken away the right of states to set their own policies and priorities for Title X family-planning programs,” Spicer said on Thursday.

Undoing this regulation–which became effective days before Obama left the White House–will allow states, if they choose, to withhold federal family planning funds or Title X monies from Planned Parenthood and disperse them instead to other health providers.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., hailed the undoing of this Obama-era regulation as a victory.

“I am proud to support the sanctity of life and to continue to be a strong voice for the right to life,” Roe said in a statement. “States will now no longer be forced to use Title X money to fund Planned Parenthood or other entities that provide abortions.”

“Reversing this will mean that states can continue prioritizing taxpayer dollars for providers who offer real health care to women–not abortions,” Melanie Israel, a research associate at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email.

  1. Repealed rule on retirement savings (H.J. Res 67)

The rule “allow[ed] state governments to trap individuals’ savings in accounts that individuals cannot access or control,” according to Rachel Greszler, a research analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

Promulgated during Obama’s last full month in office, this rule allowed states to create public retirement funds. However, it also eliminated protections from those public plans that were initially covered under a law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which set standards for private sector employee pension and health plans.

This rule removed protections from employees and encouraged employers to drop their employees from retirement plans–and put them on the government-run plan–due to high costs.

“Any new employer that’s just starting up is never going to set up their own plan now because why would they do that when they have a cost-free, liability-free option,” Greszler said, adding:

There are costs associated with [creating retirement accounts for employees] and there’s the legal liability with it. So they’re probably going to shift their employees into these plans that have no protections, they can’t make contribution into them … it’s like the Obamacare for savings.

Repealing the Obama-era rule was done to safeguard the retirement funds of individuals who work in the private sector, according to Rep. Francis Mooney, R-Fla.

“This last-minute regulatory loophole created by the previous administration would have led to harmful consequences for both workers and employers,” Rooney said in a statement. “Hardworking Americans could have been forced into government-run plans with fewer protections and less control over their hard-earned savings.”

Sarah Sleem contributed to this report.

This article has been corrected to reflect that Trump and Congress have used the Congressional Review Act to rollback regulations more than 11 times, and to clarify which regulations are eligible to be undone using the Act.

This piece has been updated to include two additional joint resolutions of disapproval that Trump has signed.

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We Hear You: Obamacare and ‘Progress in Wrong Direction’ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/22/we-hear-you-obamacare-and-progress-in-wrong-direction/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/22/we-hear-you-obamacare-and-progress-in-wrong-direction/#respond Sat, 22 Apr 2017 13:00:35 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=328338 Editor’s note:  This weekend we reach deeper into the mailbag for a smattering of your views on a bunch of different issues. Let’s lead off with observations... Read More

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Editor’s note:  This weekend we reach deeper into the mailbag for a smattering of your views on a bunch of different issues. Let’s lead off with observations on the state of our union by Anthony Cosenza, a Defense Department veteran who teaches at Philadelphia University these days. Enjoy.—Ken McIntyre

Dear Daily Signal: This is regarding your reporting on Obamacare versus the American Health Care Act (RINOcare). I am, unfortunately, a conservative adjunct professor in the bowels of the progressive, neocommunist academe in the city of Philadelphia—a liberal, Democrat bastion. The level of student naiveté and faculty propagandizing for the neocommunist agenda is debilitating.

I also worked 40 years for the Department of Defense, paying taxes from both jobs as part of my polity contribution. I have been subsidizing the government waste factory, the politically well connected who can avoid taxes, and the “low-income” people who believe they are entitled to half of what I earned in those 40 years. (Federal, state, local taxes, surcharges on utilities for nonpayers, etc., add up to about 50 percent.)

The one striking issue I have observed over the years is this construct that we should have equality of “outcomes” and not equality of “opportunity.” The scenario goes that if you are in the U.S., legally or illegally, you are entitled to what everybody else has, i.e. house, car, cell phone, free tuition, free health care, guaranteed income (welfare), and so on.

The focus is totally on “entitlements” with no consideration for the other side of the equation—contribution.

Students believe that the only contribution people have to make is carbon dioxide (breathe) and offspring (breed). So if you breathe and breed, you are entitled to a subsidized lifestyle. We have developed a culture that Aesop warned of with the ant and grasshopper: a nation of nihilistic, free-rider, social loafers who believe they are entitled to cradle-to-grave government (taxpayer) care while having only to contribute their occasional vote to the party that promises them free stuff.

This “progressive” cultural rot affects all aspects of our political, economic, and social fabric. It was rejected during this past election by middle-class Americans who work for a living to fund this progressive cancer.

Even the immigration debate has its roots in this cultural degradation, since we have to import unskilled, uneducated labor to take jobs “Americans won’t take,” as the liberals claim. They won’t take the jobs because they don’t have to work. The social safety net funded by taxes and debt allow them to have decent, subsistence living while contributing nothing.

Hence the discussion on Obamacare and a new entitlement by expanding “free health care” (Medicaid) for “the poor.” At some point, we have to stop the “free stuff” nanny-state drug of choice for progressivism and balance the equation with some form of contribution to offset the ever-increasing scope of government entitlements.

This version of RINOcare does nothing either to stop or reverse this progressive cancer.

I ask my students to define progressivism. Of course they characterize it as “progress” toward all the value-laden, sociological fluff terms like social justice, economic equality, equal pay, open borders that, when challenged, they can’t define or conceptualize the implications.

I tell them about the skin mole I had that “progressed” to cancer. It was progress, but in the wrong direction. Progress in the wrong direction can be deadly.

I am now 65 and at the tail end of this journey, but I fear for the viability of this experiment we call the United States. This election may have been the last chance to reverse that “progress” in the wrong direction.—Anthony Cosenza

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It’s Too Easy to Spend Other People’s Money

Dear Daily Signal: The 2,000-plus pages of the Obamacare legislation include so many taxes, mandates, regulations, unelected bureaucrats, and on and on that the only way to “drain the swamp” of this horrendous, ill-conceived legislation is full and complete repeal. Where am I wrong?

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed amendments “provide for the government (taxpayers) to pay all or portions of premiums to reduce premiums” (“Republicans Revive Obamacare Repeal Talks With Change to Unite Conservatives, Centrists”).

That’s simple enough, but awkwardly described in the promotion of the bill. Maybe I don’t wholly understand this.

Unfortunately, I see Ryan as a victim of the lobbyists (insurance companies and other beneficiaries of the legislation), conveniently forgetting the promise to the electorate and constituents for financial gain from lobbyists.

It should be much easier to obtain repeal of Obamacare and then replacement, rather than do both at the same time. Some effort should be to get the government out of the business of insurance and health care; the religious institutions and philanthropists will fill this responsibility, as they should.

It’s too easy to spend other people’s money and force something on the taxpayers and voters, while those doing it have no interest in the programs and are served by “other” programs they devised to cover themselves. Everyone responsible for a program should be covered by all programs devised by them for others.—Dick Matise, Dallas, Texas

Dear Daily Signal: Please help get health care reform to a good spot without blocking it. As a health care provider, the obstruction rather than construction of this bill is very frustrating.

Perfection is the enemy of pretty good. Most Americans are thrilled with pretty good as a followup to awful. Please get behind House Speaker Paul Ryan.—Alma Golden

‘Now I’m Struggling to Survive’

Dear Daily Signal: In Romina Boccia’s commentary on Social Security disability and those who are working, she fails to realize one thing: They will retract your disability benefits and continue doing so, and without just cause (“A Pathway to Work for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries”).

Social Security said they needed to take back my benefits, so they did. And then they took back more and more to the point where I am living on basically $400 a month, because I am working.

They don’t care, so now I’m struggling to survive. I still don’t make a lot of money. I’m still making under the sum of money they want. But they will not do anything to correct the mistake of double-docking me, and they will not hear me out.—Claire Gallo

Let’s Change Policy to Protect Unborn Children

Dear Daily Signal: Because of Roe v. Wade, more than 61 million unborn children have been killed through abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court declared it could not resolve “the difficult question of when life begins,” and on the basis of this unresolved question, declared a new right to abortion based on a “right of privacy.”

But only Congress can make that decision. Science is clear that human life begins at conception, when a new human person is formed.

The Life at Conception Act of 2017 (S. 231/H.R. 681) declares that unborn children are persons legally entitled to protection in the Fifth and 14th amendments to the Constitution, and will rescue millions of unborn children from dying by abortion on demand.  This bill declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization or cloning.

Because of the DNA schedule, we now have clear scientific evidence. This notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the unborn child is a violation of that unborn child’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

It’s time we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and change policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.

Nothing in this bill shall be construed to require prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child. I urge Americans to contact their senators and representatives and ask them to cosponsor and cast their vote for the Life at Conception Act of 2017.—John Gibson, Lake Jackson, Texas

Why We Don’t Have a Totalitarian State

Dear Daily Signal: I totally disagree with Steven Bucci’s conclusion in his commentary, “Who to Blame for the Latest WikiLeaks Dump: Manning and Snowden.”

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden had nothing to do with the latest leaks, and Mr. Bucci acknowledged that fact but still blamed them. It is like blaming God for sins.

God gifted all his creation with free will, and it is up to individuals to use it. The latest leaks were a service because the “leakers” saw a danger in the way the CIA was operating and exposed it.

It is only through leaks that we don’t have a totalitarian state. The government doesn’t have a right to spy on Americans without a court order, and the FISA courts seem bent on approving any government request.

I disapprove of the actions of Manning, but I approve of Snowden’s actions because he exposed the National Security Agency’s collection of data from all Americans. The metadata collected allows the NSA to request the content if it doesn’t already have it. The metadata is dangerous because it can lead to a totalitarian state.

Wikileaks is a service that allows a look into a federal agency that is spying on Americans and is a danger to a free society. The CIA put the whole country in danger because they didn’t protect its hack programs. Mr. Bucci should be more outraged that the CIA was allowed to spy on anyone, even Americans. It apparently didn’t have to request a court order for any operations.

Now any hacker can overthrow the country by knocking out our power grid, or take down any senator, representative, Supreme Court justice, or president. Congress needs to look at and remedy this situation, fast.—Fred Minook

How Low We’ve Sunk in Surrendering Liberties

Dear Daily Signal: The fact that Sweet Cakes by Melissa is requesting that the Oregon government give its blessing to the bakery owners’ refusal to serve clients on religious grounds shows how low we’ve sunk in surrendering our freedoms and liberties (“Bakers Accused of Hate Get Emotional Day in Court”).

Requiring government approval for religious actions is no different from requiring government approval for anything else. Whom a business chooses to serve as clients belongs to the business alone for its own reasons and nobody else’s. That’s what private property rights are all about.

Instead of tying up the courts and wasting taxpayer money, same-sex couples denied service should quit whining and simply take their business elsewhere. It’s that simple.

The state of Oregon’s intervention in this matter is a waste of taxpayer money. The state government needs to butt out and use its resources for legitimate needs, instead of frivolous matters such as this.—Stephen V. Gilmore, Charlotte, N.C.

Siding With Buckley on Legalizing Pot

Dear Daily Signal: Cully Stimson’s commentary about stepping up federal law enforcement against marijuana laws is in direct opposition to The Heritage Foundation’s support for limited government, individual freedom, and states rights (“How Trump’s DOJ Can Start Enforcing Federal Marijuana Law”).

I side with the late William F. Buckley on the issue of legalizing marijuana. It originally was banned for racist reasons, and whether it is harmful or not doesn’t matter. Its prohibition doesn’t stop anyone who wants to take it, but it hurts all of us with all of the unintended consequences like financing gang violence and terrorism.—Jeff Goldstein

Don’t Let Outsiders Disrupt Town Halls

Dear Daily Signal: Thank you for allowing us to watch Rep. Dave Brat’s town hall meeting online (“How One Congressman Handles a Rowdy Town Hall Meeting”). A suggestion you may be able to circulate is for attendance of a town hall meeting to be restricted to the constituents of the member of Congress putting it on.

All attendees should be required to show ID indicating residency within the district. Only those who are verified constituents should be allowed in. Others may be allowed to join in “overflow” areas where their disruptions will not infringe on the rights of the true constituents to communicate with their representative.—Jerry Dundalk, Iron Mountain, Mich.

‘Quite the Chameleon’

Dear Daily Signal: Seems to me that Mike Gonzalez is somewhat disingenuous in his presentation of the very matter he is commenting on (“Trump Should End Government Funding of NPR’s Biased News”).

On the one hand, Gonzalez speaks of the “why” and on the other hand lauds the overall greatness of program offerings and the powerful support base of the entities he innocuously proposes be unfunded of taxpayer dollars. He seems quite the chameleon.—Darryl Szymanski, Sheridan, Wyo.

How Are We Doing?

Thank all of you for the prodigious work you perform on a daily basis, in the ongoing work of factual education on seminal issues of the time.—Robert Powell, Oregon City, Ore.

You all need a proofreader. Too many mistakes.—Kathy Hilliard

My first read of The Daily Signal: Enjoyed it and it was not of length to be dreaded as something to daily check up on, as some are. Still solidly informative.—Charles Davis

I like your coverage of events. Calm, collected, and terse.—Jan Miller

I like this format. Thank you.-—Pat B.

I learn way more about what is happening in the news @dailysignal than any fictional major news channel.—Jay Schreffler

So appreciative of you! Am grateful for the accuracy in your information. You are a blessing to the citizens of our country. Good work.—Benedicta Harris

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‘Communism for Kids’ Turns Deadly Ideology Into a Fairy Tale http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/communism-for-kids-turns-deadly-ideology-into-a-fairy-tale/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/communism-for-kids-turns-deadly-ideology-into-a-fairy-tale/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 22:03:39 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329665 In order to make the deadliest ideology of the 20th century palatable to young Americans, “Communism for Kids” is coming to a bookstore near you.... Read More

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In order to make the deadliest ideology of the 20th century palatable to young Americans, “Communism for Kids” is coming to a bookstore near you.

This newly released book from MIT Press “proposes a different kind of communism, one that is true to its ideals and free from authoritarianism.”

The death toll from communist regimes in the 20th century is well-documented. One study found that more people were killed under communism than homicide and genocide combined, and only 9 million more people were killed in World War I and World War II combined than under governments of this ideology.

Another study showed how the mass killings of civilians by their own governments took an immediate nosedive after the collapse of the Soviet Union and international communism.

According to the Amazon synopsis, the book weaves a fairy tale of “jealous princesses, fancy swords, displaced peasants, mean bosses, and tired workers.”

It is bewildering why MIT Press would publish a book that cutesies up the political creed that gave the world Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, and many more of the world’s most prolific mass murderers. None of these brutal dictators are mentioned in the book, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Communism seemingly gets a pass to be reimagined as a sweet fable while it’s inconceivable that a book called “Fascism for Kids” would ever be printed by a reputable publisher.

Marion Smith of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation wrote, according to The Washington Free Beacon:

While I can imagine a book so titled that would make a valuable contribution to a reader’s understanding of the truth about communism, the book MIT Press published is not it. ‘Communism for Kids’ whitewashes and infantilizes ideas that, when put into action, have cost more than 100 million lives.

This odd attempt to get kids into communism is unlikely to spawn a new generation of true believers on its own, but it does highlight the growing problem for younger Americans who are generally clueless about even recent history.

As The Daily Signal previously reported, a study from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that millennials, in particular, are stunningly ignorant about what occurred under the Soviet Union and other communist regimes just a generation ago.

One-third of millennials surveyed actually believe that more people were killed under former President George W. Bush than under Soviet dictator Stalin.

If one truly wants to teach young Americans what communism is really about, it would be better to hand them a copy of the classic “Animal Farm,” by George Orwell.

The book is an allegory—using farm animals as stand-ins—about the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia a century ago. The revolutionary promise of “all animals are equal” is used to overthrow farmers, but quickly turns into a new, even more oppressive tyranny under animal overlords

A reign of forced labor, intimidation, and terror puts the animals under the thumb of their new masters—their ideals used to prop up an all-powerful regime. The refashioned creed becomes “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In the end, human, or rather “animal,” nature proved to be more powerful than any ideology.

As the Roman poet Horace once said: “You can drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she will ever hurry back.”

This lesson from Orwell would be a much better way to teach young people about destructive ideology than a fanciful account of how “true” communism—minus the mean authoritarian stuff and mass murder—would be truly grand.

Under communism, tyranny is a feature, not a bug.

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What This Supreme Court Case Could Mean for School Choice http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/what-this-supreme-court-case-could-mean-for-school-choice/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/what-this-supreme-court-case-could-mean-for-school-choice/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:16:31 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329731 This week, a dispute over playground surfaces in Missouri made its way to the Supreme Court. At question was the constitutionality of a provision in... Read More

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This week, a dispute over playground surfaces in Missouri made its way to the Supreme Court. At question was the constitutionality of a provision in Missouri’s state constitution known as a Blaine Amendment.

The court heard oral arguments on Wednesday for Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, a case involving a Lutheran preschool and its application to a state grant program that helps nonprofits resurface playgrounds with recycled rubber.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri, operates a preschool and daycare center, and its property includes a playground that is open to the public.

When the Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center applied to a state grant program to help resurface its playground, its application was denied on the basis of a provision in the Missouri state constitution that prevents public aid from going to religious institutions.

The learning center’s application had initially been ranked fifth out of 44 applicants based on neutral criteria and initial review by state administrators.

The constitutional provision invoked by the state is a Blaine Amendment, so-called because of Sen. James G. Blaine, R-Maine, who championed the amendment in the latter half of the 19th century.

This period in American history was marked by intense anti-Catholic sentiment, and education became a focal point of the animosity.

Because the curriculum of the common schools of the era reflected a general Protestant civil religion, marginalized Catholics began to set up their own parochial schools and sought the same access to public funds that common schools received.

Determined to prevent Catholic schools from accessing public funds, Blaine advocated an amendment to the federal Constitution to prohibit aid to “sectarian” schools. At the time, “sectarian” was generally understood to be code for Catholic, not simply any religious organization.

While his effort failed at the federal level (by just four votes in the Senate), the language of his amendment was eventually embraced in a majority of the states.

Today, despite their origins in bigotry, Blaine Amendments or similar prohibitions remain in 38 state constitutions, including Missouri. The Supreme Court has already acknowledged and disavowed the discriminatory history of Blaine Amendments, most notably in Mitchell v. Helms, where the court found it permissible for public funds to be distributed in the form of loans to both public and private schools.

Based on oral arguments from Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, the Supreme Court is once again preparing to issue a decision on the question of state aid to a religious institution.

As Elizabeth Slattery, legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center, notes: “If Trinity Lutheran wins the day, it will be a signal to states that they may not discriminate against churches under the guise of Blaine Amendments.”

While Blaine Amendments have long threatened the exercise of religious liberty for schools and churches, they have also presented a particular obstacle in the area of school choice.

School choice opponents have repeatedly used the pretext of Blaine Amendments to challenge the constitutionality of school choice legislation.

School choice opponents argue that the public funds used in voucher or education savings account programs violate Blaine Amendments, since the money can be used at private, religious schools.

However, several state supreme courts have already determined that Blaine Amendment challenges do not affect private school choice programs because public funds are given to individual parents and not directly to religious institutions.

As a result, a decision in favor of Trinity Lutheran could have an advantageous effect for the growth and introduction of school choice programs across the country. The Trinity Lutheran case offers the Supreme Court the chance to settle crucial questions about the place of religious organizations in the public life of the nation.

It also offers hope that school choice programs in the states will no longer be held up needlessly in legal battles over Blaine Amendments, but can get right to work offering greater educational opportunities for children.

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How to Address the Looming Crisis of Physician Shortages http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/how-to-address-the-looming-crisis-of-physician-shortages/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/how-to-address-the-looming-crisis-of-physician-shortages/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:04:36 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329710 As the struggle to repeal and replace Obamacare with a plan that will decrease fast-rising and exorbitant premiums as well as increasing consumer choice rages on,... Read More

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As the struggle to repeal and replace Obamacare with a plan that will decrease fast-rising and exorbitant premiums as well as increasing consumer choice rages on, another health care crisis looms.

Americans are facing an increasing shortage of primary care physicians, and the problem is only expected to get worse over the next 10 years.

Imagine a world where everyone has to travel hours to find a doctor who is able to provide treatment and lifesaving medicine. Imagine having a child fall ill, but the nearest pediatrician being many miles away.

This shortage is already affecting communities nationwide. Many have begun to lack much-needed medical services, and this pressure is most deeply felt in rural communities.

The coming crisis has multiple causes, one being the aging pool of physicians. As older physicians begin to retire over the next decade, the number of physicians will drop. By 2030 there will be a shortage of as many as 104,900 physicians.

Part of this problem stems from the fact that medical residency programs—a training requirement that is a prerequisite for becoming a board-certified physician—are not churning out new doctors at a sufficient rate.

The physician shortage problem is so bad that some states, like Missouri, have decided to bypass the residency requirement in order to attract medical graduates who are not able to participate in residency training programs.

Under the supervision of a fully licensed physician, these graduates are to be given some form of provisional license, which would allow them to practice medicine for a limited time without a residency.

Many of these medical graduates are highly trained and educated, having passed the United States Medical Licensing Exams.

Given that nurse practitioners and physician assistants are already given a significant amount of autonomy, allowing these graduates to practice in some capacity can only help curb the rising physician shortage.

Longer-term solutions should also involve fundamentally reforming graduate medical education. One such potential solution has been discussed at length by Heritage Foundation senior fellow and practicing surgeon Dr. John O’Shea.

Health care is a critical issue for all Americans. As we move forward in the process of reforming our overall health care system, we must not forget the doctors who actually provide the care.

Until we give American doctors more freedom to practice medicine across the country, the current restrictions will only continue to reduce access to care for the ordinary Americans politicians are trying to help.

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Trump, Sessions Target MS-13 Gang in Push Against Illegal Immigration http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/trump-sessions-target-ms-13-gang-in-push-against-illegal-immigration/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/trump-sessions-target-ms-13-gang-in-push-against-illegal-immigration/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:54:17 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329682 President Donald Trump’s administration has initiated an effort to target MS-13, an international criminal gang founded by El Salvadorian immigrants in Los Angeles. Trump, Attorney... Read More

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President Donald Trump’s administration has initiated an effort to target MS-13, an international criminal gang founded by El Salvadorian immigrants in Los Angeles.

Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly have all recently mentioned the gang by highlighting its dangers and explaining how they will combat the group.

In a Tuesday tweet, Trump blamed the Obama administration’s “weak illegal immigration policies” for MS-13’s increase in size and strength. He also noted that he plans to remove members of the gang “fast.”

In a Fox News interview with host Tucker Carlson this week, Sessions echoed Trump’s point by casting blame on MS-13’s growth on the previous administration, saying, “It’s no doubt that [the Obama administration] had an impact because so many of these [gang members] are illegally here without proper authority, and with a good, lawful border, they would not be here.”

He also said the gang has grown to 10,000 members in America.

Sessions said before a meeting with the Organized Crime Council—a coalition of 13 federal agencies:

Because of an open border and years of lax immigration enforcement, MS-13 has been sending both recruiters and members to regenerate gangs that previously had been decimated, and smuggling members across the border as unaccompanied minors … They are not content to simply ruin the lives of adults—MS-13 recruits in our high schools, our middle schools, and even our elementary schools.

To counter the illegal immigration problem, Sessions said the government will build a border wall and recruit more border agents.

“We can devastate this gang. We’re going after them. We are not going to allow them to take over a block, a corner of our communities and terrorize people with this violence,” Sessions said.

“[MS-13 gang members] are not geniuses … they are involved in the kind of activities that can be identified and they can be prosecuted,” he added.

Sessions also praised “Trump’s leadership,” to which he said contributed to this year’s 17-year low in illegal immigration, and claimed that the president is focused on putting a stop to “this lawlessness.”

Additionally, Sessions made a comment to those who wish to enter America legally: “What we want to say to the world is: Please come lawfully. Wait your turn, make your application, and it will be evaluated. And if you’re accepted, come. But don’t come illegally.”

“That’s what the American people have a right to expect their government to do. And in the process we can protect them from some of the violent criminals and terrorists that are coming in,” he said.

Kelly also came out to publicly condemn the gang, calling MS-13 a group “utterly without laws, conscience, or respect for human life.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow for the Institute for Constitutional Government at The Heritage Foundation, said he views the Trump administration’s targeting of MS-13 as a focus on law and order that voters desire.

“This is the type of vigorous law enforcement the American people clearly voted for in November,” von Spakovsky said.

“Since most MS-13 gang members are illegal aliens, the administration’s reinvigoration of immigration enforcement will also help alleviate and destroy this problem that is endangering neighborhoods all over America,” he added.

This article has been updated to clarify the origins of MS-13.

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The Importance of Expanding US-India Naval Cooperation http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/the-importance-of-expanding-us-indian-naval-cooperation/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/the-importance-of-expanding-us-indian-naval-cooperation/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:42:04 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329701 While much of the focus for U.S. naval diplomacy remains centered on the Asia-Pacific, Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean region is a growing concern,... Read More

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While much of the focus for U.S. naval diplomacy remains centered on the Asia-Pacific, Chinese activity in the Indian Ocean region is a growing concern, given the large amount of trade that passes through the area.

The U.S. can counter growing challenges in the Indian Ocean by expanding and regularizing cooperation with India, the predominant naval power in this region.

A key facet of the current U.S. approach to naval strategy in the Indo-Pacific region involves the cultivation of regional partners to improve security.

The most recent maritime strategy document for India also emphasizes cooperation with foreign navies, creating an opportunity for the U.S. to expand naval relations as both seek partners to deal with maritime challenges.

This also assumes that stronger relations at the tactical and military level will positively influence the broader strategic relationship.

When it comes to disputes in the South China Sea, India has somewhat limited motivation to actively oppose China because of its differing view from the U.S. on freedom of navigation operations, and tends to support a more restrictive view of military activities in exclusive economic zones.

Directing the relationship away from such a contentious issue could make Indian policymakers more willing to engage with the U.S. on regional security.

Additionally, India has tended to hedge between the U.S. and China and to refrain from taking strong positions on disputes in the South China Sea. That is why the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region signed by the U.S. and India in January 2015 was so significant.

In that document, both sides affirmed that maritime security must be safeguarded and freedom of navigation and overflight must be guaranteed throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea.

The statement made clear that both India and the U.S. are interested in curbing China’s maritime and territorial ambitions.

Focusing U.S.-India naval cooperation on the Indian Ocean and the waters to the west of India (i.e. the Arabian Sea) would likely gain more traction than a focus on the Asia-Pacific, since the Indian navy sees its primary areas of interest to its west.

Indian trade, including energy out of the Persian Gulf, is primarily west-centric, and the major maritime chokepoints that trade flows through are also to the west. Thus far, however, most of the naval cooperation with India has been conducted by the U.S. Pacific Command, which primarily covers the area to India’s east.

The creation of the Chinese naval support facility at Djibouti and the development of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, though, are issues that will probably occupy more Indian attention.

>>> India’s Increased Naval Capacities Are Good for Regional Security

The Indian Ocean is split between three U.S. commands—not just Pacific Command, but also Africa Command and Central Command.

All three have seen more Chinese activity since China deployed submarines to the Indian Ocean, continues to upgrade the facility at Djibouti, and sent ships to Gwadar.

Therefore, the U.S. should seek to expand cooperation with India via U.S. Central Command and Africa Command.

Similarly, focusing on routine areas of cooperation as opposed to politically risky initiatives would allow the naval relationship to grow and regularize, and would insulate it from possible ups and downs in the broader political relationship.

Expanding the annual Malabar exercise and focusing cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and training are both key ways that cooperation could be enhanced with little political risk.

Convincing India to sign remaining foundational cooperation agreements, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Intelligence, is essential to enabling this cooperation.

These agreements are standard practice for U.S. partners and would not inhibit Indian strategic autonomy or lead to the U.S. basing its naval forces in India, as some critics in India believe.

Rather, they would greatly enhance interoperability and cooperation, as U.S. commanders are legally constrained by the law without them.

By laying a broad foundation for enhanced naval cooperation now, the U.S. would be in a better position if it required Indian naval assistance on more politically sensitive issues down the line.

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Trump Restricts Immigration Program That Took This American’s Job http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/trump-restricts-immigration-program-that-took-this-americans-job/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/trump-restricts-immigration-program-that-took-this-americans-job/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 20:39:51 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329172 After years in private business, Kurt Ho had finally found a rewarding information technology job, working for a public hospital in Northern California, ensuring vital... Read More

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After years in private business, Kurt Ho had finally found a rewarding information technology job, working for a public hospital in Northern California, ensuring vital systems—such as fetal health monitors—were functioning properly.

In October, Ho learned his job at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center was being outsourced to a company in India, called HCL Technologies.

Ho was told he could stay on the job, get paid for four more months, and earn a bonus if he trained his replacement. Ho’s dream job lasted less than three years.

“I was very surprised because this is a hospital—we are not talking about something you can easily outsource,” Ho, 58, told The Daily Signal in an interview, just a few weeks after his last day of work, Feb. 28. “This is very important work. You are talking about patients’ lives here. So I absolutely want my replacement to do well for the patients and their families, for the doctors—who depend on the service. That’s what we wish for.”

Ho, along with about 80 of his IT co-workers, lost his job as a result of loopholes in a high-skilled visa program—known as H-1B—that allows U.S. companies to fire Americans and replace them with cheaper, temporary workers.

Kurt Ho, pictured with his wife and two children (Photo courtesy of Kurt Ho)

Kurt Ho is pictured with his wife and two children. (Photo courtesy of Kurt Ho)

For Ho, that unfortunate designation is not the worst part. Ho is in the prime of his career—competent and able, he says. Facing his 12-year-old daughter is another matter.

“I am trying to get her to go into the STEM program at school, to pursue science and technology like I did,” said Ho, a U.S. citizen who immigrated here from Malaysia in 1989. “But she looks at me and says, ‘They shipped your job to India.’ I am setting a bad example for her. She is discouraged. She says she is thinking about dancing now.”

According to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which recently profiled another University of California, San Francisco Medical Center employee who lost his job, outsourcing the IT work could save $30 million for taxpayers over the next five years. The state-run university has a $5.9 billion annual budget.

Becoming a ‘Cheap Labor Program’

Experts say most companies use H-1B visas properly—to employ highly-skilled foreign guest workers in sectors Americans cannot fully serve. But stories of abuse, such as Ho’s, have inspired a bipartisan coalition in Congress, and the president, to push for reform.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that he said would make it harder for technology companies to replace American workers with cheap foreign labor.

“Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less pay,” Trump said during an appearance in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he announced the new order. “This will stop.”

President Donald Trump announces an executive order that directs federal agencies to suggest changes to the H1-B visa program, to ensure visas are awarded to the most skilled, best-paid immigrant workers. (Photo: Mark Hoffman/TNS/Newscom)

President Donald Trump announces an executive order that directs federal agencies to suggest changes to the H-1B visa program, to ensure visas are awarded to the most skilled, best-paid immigrant workers. (Photo: Mark Hoffman/TNS/Newscom)

His executive order calls for an adjustment in how H-1B visas are distributed, but stops short of mandating specific policy changes. Trump directs government agencies to suggest changes “as soon as practicable” that would ensure the visas are awarded to “the most skilled and the highest-paid” applicants.

Currently, the H-1B program is capped at 85,000 visas distributed annually—with 65,000 general visas and 20,000 reserved for workers with a master’s degree or higher—but demand regularly exceeds supply. On Monday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it received 199,000 petitions this year for visas, which are distributed at random through a lottery. The visas last for three years, and can be renewed for three more years.

“The H-1B program is filling a need—there are critical skills we can get abroad that aren’t always available in the U.S.,” said David Kreutzer, a senior research fellow focused on labor and trade at The Heritage Foundation. “But we want the employers that have the greatest need for the rarest skill sets to be the ones to get these visas. The current lottery mechanism, where visas are allocated by random chance, does not do that.”

In another reform announced earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will closely investigate employers with a high ratio of H-1B workers compared to American employees, and businesses that send visa holders to work off-site.

Experts interpret Trump’s measures against the H-1B program as explicitly targeting outsourcing companies that have come under the most scrutiny, and taken advantage of a loophole in the law that allows them to pay foreigners a minimum of $60,000.

Research compiled by Howard University associate professor Ron Hira shows that in 2014—the last year for which information is publicly available—all of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20 H-1B employers used the program principally to facilitate offshoring of jobs.

The top 13 outsourcing firms accounted for a third of all granted visas in 2014.

Indian outsourcing companies such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro receive most of the visas through the lottery system because they submit tens of thousands of applications to better their odds, Hira says.

“The intent of the program is a good one—to bring in the best and brightest to fill skills gaps, but the rules are so loosely written and loosely enforced that it’s basically gone off the rails, and it almost invites firms to come in and favor H-1B visa holders instead of the U.S. worker,” Hira, who studies the H-1B program, told The Daily Signal in an interview. “It’s highly profitable to replace a U.S. worker for a H-1B visa holder. It was never intended as a cheap labor program, but it’s become that.”

India’s leading technology trade group, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, says Indian companies are being unfairly targeted.

“We believe that the current campaign to discredit our sector is driven by persistent myths, such as the ideas that H-1B visa holders are ‘cheap labor’ and ‘train their replacements,’ neither of which is accurate,” the group said in a statement after Trump announced his executive order.

How H-1B Came to Be

The H-1B visa program came to life as part of an immigration reform package signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The law’s sponsors viewed it as a vehicle to attract top talent to America for “specialty occupations” such as science, technology, engineering, and math that face a shortage of capable U.S. workers.

Supporters of the program note that nearly every major high-tech company, including Apple, Google, and Facebook, rely on H-1B visas, and pay higher wages.

“Most companies use the H-1B very situationally,” said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “They use it often because they don’t have another choice.”

“Limitations on H-1Bs will drive more workers overseas,” says @wstock215.

The law, as it was originally written, was supposed to protect American workers.

It requires employers to pay foreign workers the area’s prevailing wage for the position, and to demonstrate that hiring foreigners would not “adversely affect” the working conditions of current employees in similar jobs.

An amended version of the law, enacted in 1998, included stronger protections, ordering companies that rely heavily on H-1B workers (more than 15 percent of their workforce) to promise not to replace American employees.

Yet, the amended law included a loophole. It allows H-1B reliant companies to be exempted from the requirements about protecting American jobs if they pay the foreign workers at least $60,000 a year, or hire a foreign worker with a master’s degree.

“The wage floor is way too low—the average IT worker in the U.S. makes way more than $60,000 per year,” said Hal Salzman, a labor force expert at Rutgers University, in an interview with The Daily Signal. “One simple reform to the program would be to take these tech companies at their word that there is a strong demand for high-skilled, world-class talent. Everyone would agree that the wage level for those jobs is at least $100,000, so you make that the salary floor, and for all practical purposes, the problem is solved.”

Stock contends that many companies who use the H-1B program are already paying above market wages, and requiring them to spend more could cause them to offshore more work permanently.

“Businesses want to make sure the wage test doesn’t become so onerous that it’s unrealistic,” Stock said. “Limitations on H-1Bs will drive more workers overseas. Sure, there is abuse within the program. That happens. We live in a fallen world. We have always said robust enforcement of labor standards that are already in place is the solution to those abuses.”

‘The Program at Its Best’

Bipartisan pressure to reform the H-1B visa program remains.

Experts say that Trump’s executive order will have limited practical impact, unless Congress steps in.

For example, changes in the number of visas awarded annually would need congressional approval.

Multiple bills have been introduced in Congress that would fundamentally change how visas are distributed, and who benefits from foreign work.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., an Indian-American who represents Silicon Valley, has a personal stake in fixing the H-1B program.

Khanna, a freshman lawmaker, is one of the sponsors of a bill, called the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, that would eliminate the lottery system that rewards visas and replaces it with a “preference system.”

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., receives the House oath of office from Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., during a swearing-in ceremony earlier this year. (Photo: Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom)

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., receives the House oath of office from Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., during a swearing-in ceremony earlier this year. (Photo: Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom)

Under the legislation, which is also sponsored by Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va., of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, foreign students educated in the U.S. would get priority for visas. It would give special preference to those holding advanced degrees who would be paid a high wage and have valuable skills.

In addition, the proposal would not allow companies with more than 50 employees to hire more H-1B workers if 50 percent of their employees are already on H-1B and L-1s—another type of specialized work visa. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have introduced an identical bill.

“Most Americans appreciate the contribution immigrants make to the workforce, they just don’t want the system gamed,” says @RepRoKhanna.

“My sense is most Americans appreciate the contribution immigrants make to the workforce, they just don’t want the system gamed,” Khanna told The Daily Signal in an interview. “But under the H-1B program today, the beneficiaries are corporate interests. A lot of the H-1B workers are facing exploitation. The empathy is as much for them as the American workers who are getting the raw deal. The program at its best is for truly exceptional people to innovate and not as a way of underpaying foreign workers.”

Ho, the American who lost his job to a contracted Indian worker, said he too does not blame the H-1B visa holder.

“I am an immigrant myself; I would be the last person to bash immigrants,” Ho said. “The person who replaced me is taking advantage of an opportunity a broken system provides him.”

Last week, Ho landed another job, working for Robert Half International, a California-based information technology company.

“I have the skills, so getting work wasn’t an issue for me,” Ho said. “This is about taking a stand, not just for myself, but for my daughters, for my family, and for all Americans.”

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Supreme Court Rejects Challenge Over Merrick Garland Nomination, Shows Why ‘Emoluments’ Suit Against Trump Will Fail http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-over-merrick-garland-nomination-shows-why-emoluments-suit-against-trump-will-fail/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-over-merrick-garland-nomination-shows-why-emoluments-suit-against-trump-will-fail/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 18:59:02 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329635 On Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of Michel v. McConnell, where the courts below rejected a citizen’s effort to... Read More

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On Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of Michel v. McConnell, where the courts below rejected a citizen’s effort to sue senators for inaction on D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

The lower courts’ opinions explain why another controversial dispute, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) v. Donald J. Trump, will also fail—with only days left until the government’s response is due in that case.

Disappointed with the process of the Senate’s refusal to hold a vote on Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Steven S. Michel sued Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, for allegedly violating his constitutional right “to elect his senators by depriving his home-state senators of a voice” in the nomination process.

A Political Issue

The U.S. Court of Appeals found, as did the district court below, that Michel “lacked standing to bring this action because he failed to demonstrate an injury in fact.” It found his “alleged injury—the diminution of the effectiveness of his votes for Senators—is ‘wholly abstract and widely dispersed.’”

As the district court wrote, Michel suffered only “the type of undifferentiated harm common to all citizens that is appropriate for redress in the political sphere,” not the courts. The Supreme Court appropriately denied Michel’s petition for review.

Lawyers with CREW face similar problems in their lawsuit, filed in January in the Southern District of New York, against President Donald Trump, because they also raise claims that do not touch their lives in any materially different way from any other citizen—except, perhaps, at the ballot box.

CREW argues that Trump violates the U.S. Constitution’s little-known Foreign Emoluments Clause whenever any of his businesses engage in any commercial transaction with any foreign state agent.

For several reasons related to its text and history, it is improbable that the clause—which was designed to keep ambassadors off of foreign states’ doles—is that broad. Nor is it so selective: Past presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama would likely have violated CREW’s far-reaching interpretation of that clause (explained here).

A ‘Silly’ Claim

As Michel v. McConnell clarifies once again, standing requires a plaintiff to show a specific and concrete injury—not a mere distaste for or disagreement with a politician. CREW claims, however, that Trump has injured the group because the costs it absorbed in suing him “diverted” resources it could have used to sue other politicians for ethics violations.

The injury CREW alleges is roughly equivalent to the “injury” that its complaint has imposed on the court and the Trump administration—which too must divert scarce governmental resources to respond to and hear the suit. Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell told CNN, “The idea that a group has standing because it has to spend time on this more than other things is just so silly that I can’t believe they put it on paper.”

Well before Michel v. McConnell, the Supreme Court had “repeatedly held that such a ‘generalized grievance,’ no matter how sincere, is insufficient to confer standing.” And in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA (2013), Justice Samuel Alito wrote that plaintiffs “cannot manufacture standing merely by inflicting harm on themselves.”

The lawyers at CREW seek to avoid Michel’s fate by arguing that they are not suing as individuals, but as an organization. They base their argument on two cases: Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman, a 1982 Supreme Court decision, and Ragin v. Harry Macklowe Real Estate Co., a 1993 opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

Neither does the job.

Both cases arose under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, in which Congress sought to end racially segregated housing. The law authorized citizens to bring civil lawsuits and lowered ordinary standing requirements in order to more liberally enforce remedial policies.

In Havens Realty Corp., Justice William Brennan, writing the majority opinion, stated that “Congress intended standing under [the law]” to be lax, and “[w]ith this understanding,” found that a small nonprofit, Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), had standing to sue the Havens Realty Corp. One of the latter’s employees denied housing to the former’s client on the basis of race, which compelled HOME employees “to devote significant resources to identify and counteract … racially discriminatory steering practices”—not to its ordinary “counseling and referral services.”

The very discrimination the law barred was hitting HOME’s bottom line, and HOME asked the court only to return “lost” funds and litigation expenses.

CREW’s lawyers, by contrast, argue that they cannot as robustly fulfill their mission to sue other politicians when they voluntarily pay to sue a politician. And unlike HOME’s humble request for sunk costs, CREW seeks broad declaratory and injunctive relief designed to transform novel and far-reaching constitutional theories into binding law.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Lewis Powell provided another reason why CREW’s reliance on Havens is misplaced. The district court had originally dismissed HOME’s lawsuit because the group lacked standing. And by the time their case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Powell wrote, HOME had advanced only “meaningless averments concerning the disputed question of standing.”

That does not bode well for CREW.

Ragin likewise is of no help to CREW.

Like CREW’s case, Ragin was filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York. There, “individual plaintiffs [testified] that they were offended when they saw” housing advertisements featuring only white models, and filed suit under the same law.

The court saw “no significant difference between the statutorily recognized injury” in Havens and Ragin. In fact, it cited Havens for “the long-held principle that” the kind of injury the Supreme Court found absent in Michel v. McConnell “may exist solely by virtue of ‘statutes creating legal rights, the invasion of which creates standing.’”

Because CREW’s lawyers do not claim that Trump has violated their rights under the Fair Housing Act or any other statute that might grant them standing, it is unclear how these cases support them. The opposite may be true.

A Tidal Wave of Lawsuits

Powell’s concurrence in Havens notes “a high price” to the liberal pleading standard in that case “in terms of a severe imposition on already overburdened federal courts as well as unjustified expense to the litigants.”

If the courts were to change the well-settled standing rules in CREW’s favor, then any organization—and maybe even Michel—could get away with suing any politician or group of politicians because (1) the organization disagrees with them and (2) filing a lawsuit costs money.

If that were so, the judiciary would likely face a tidal wave of lawsuits and few federal policies would ever be implemented without first having to clear hurdles erected by some angry and litigious group or individual (although the Center for Consumer Freedom notes that CREW, for its part, almost exclusively sues Republican officials).

For these reasons, Robert Kelner, a partner at Covington & Burling, said that CREW’s standing claim “barely passes the laugh test,” and “[t]he courts will toss this one out.” Michel v. McConnell shores up that bet. As Powell stated in his Havens concurrence: “One can well understand the impatience of the District Court that dismissed the complaint.”

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How to Improve Airline Travel: Cut Out Washington Meddling http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/how-to-improve-airline-travel-cut-out-washington-meddling/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/how-to-improve-airline-travel-cut-out-washington-meddling/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 17:43:29 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329620 While grumbling about inconveniences at U.S. airports is a national pastime among travelers, the criticism has been especially shrill this year. President Donald Trump has... Read More

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While grumbling about inconveniences at U.S. airports is a national pastime among travelers, the criticism has been especially shrill this year. President Donald Trump has made it clear that he is not pleased with the state of U.S. airports, calling them “obsolete” and even “third world.”

Although these claims are hyperbolic (American airports move far more people than those of any other country in the world, and do so safely), the president is channeling the general dissatisfaction.

Indeed, not a single U.S. airport is ranked within the world’s top 25, and congestion and delays are a significant problem for the nation’s most vital hubs. The latest viral incident involving a United Airlines customer being dragged off of a flight further stressed the need to increase consumer choice.

The typical response for many lawmakers is to funnel more taxpayer money to airports, perhaps including billions in taxpayer grants to them in the Trump administration’s forthcoming infrastructure plan.

But there’s a much better way to invest in airports—one that does not require new federal spending.

A superior alternative would be to decrease the cumbersome federal management of airports and unleash them to operate as independent businesses rather than extensions of the government.

Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration has a heavy hand in funding and regulating airports. Federal airport funding diverts billions of flyers’ tax dollars away from the most important airports they use most to those most flyers will never see.

Worse, federal grants come with regulations that put a stranglehold on airports through provisions that severely restrict how they can raise and spend their own revenues. These restrictions on revenues force airports to rely on federally approved sources of cash and crush airline competition, innovation, and self-sufficiency.

Instead of continuing to funnel money into this broken system, the better—and cheaper—solution is to get the federal government off airports’ backs and free them to meet their potential.

One bipartisan proposal that would begin this process is the Investing in America: Rebuilding America’s Airport Infrastructure Act, sponsored by Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore. The bill would empower airports to raise their own funds for airport improvements by lifting the cap on passenger facility charges, a local airport user fee that is currently price-controlled by Congress.

Since Congress last set the maximum facility charge at $4.50 per passenger in 2000, passenger facility charges have lost much of their purchasing power. Lifting that cap would adequately allow airports to charge their own customers for funding, rather than having to rely on cumbersome federal grants.

In fact, the bill would reduce federal spending by $400 million, a necessary step to ensure the local charge would replace current federal funding for larger airports instead of simply adding on to it. This is a budget-friendly reform that would give airports much greater latitude to control their finances, including efforts to lure more airline competition to choice-starved facilities.

Although greater changes are still much needed—including addressing federal aviation taxes—the DeFazio-Massie bill is a promising start to localizing airport funding and leading airports to self-sufficiency.

Even more encouraging, the bill acknowledges that the nation’s airport infrastructure is too important to rely exclusively on centralized planning. Instead, airports and flyers should be in control of funding our nation’s vital aviation infrastructure, not bureaucrats in Washington.

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This May Be Venezuela’s Tiananmen Square Moment http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/this-may-be-venezuelas-tiananmen-square-moment/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/this-may-be-venezuelas-tiananmen-square-moment/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:39:09 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329557 Venezuela is no stranger to protests, but the recent uprisings have rocked the country and stirred questions about the nation’s future. This past week, the... Read More

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Venezuela is no stranger to protests, but the recent uprisings have rocked the country and stirred questions about the nation’s future.

This past week, the “mother of all protests” has seen upward of 2 million Venezuelans take to the streets demanding an end to the notoriously corrupt Maduro regime.

Beginning on what would be the 207th anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain, frustrated Venezuelans have taken to the streets demanding change. So far, three Venezuelans have been killed in the marches, hundreds have been injured, and 500 have been arrested.

In the span of just over 20 years, President Nicolás Maduro, his predecessor Hugo Chavez, and their “Socialism of the 21st Century” have singlehandedly destroyed a country sitting atop of the world’s largest oil reserves.

The ongoing economic crisis has bankrupted the country, and the International Monetary Fund forecasts that by midyear the inflation rate will hit 1,600 percent. The oil industry, which brings in 95 percent of the country’s export earnings, is bottoming out.

While the nation is home to massive oil reserves, production is at its lowest level in over 20 years. Adding to the financial ruin is the Central Bank’s historically low cash reserves, which stand at 10.4 billion bolívars fuerte—7.2 billion of which is owed in outstanding debt obligations

Nowhere is the evidence of Venezuela’s unraveling more evident than the country’s health care system.

Venezuela’s Pharmaceutical Federation estimates a shortage of 85 percent of common drugs and medical supplies. Infectious diseases once kept under control have surged.

Cases of diphtheria and malaria are re-emerging, and the number of Zika infections is estimated to be “nearly 700,000,” according to a Venezuelan health organization.

>>> Read Ana Quintana’s report, “Alleviating the Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela

While leader Maduro is widely unpopular, he has managed to stay in office by unlawfully consolidating power.

Any doubt about the Maduro regime’s determination to keep power disappeared last month when he ordered the Supreme Court to take over the National Assembly—the last remaining government branch outside of executive control.

That decision proved to be short-lived, as the court returned the legislative powers a few days later after widespread protests. But despite regaining legislative control, Venezuela’s beleaguered opposition is in a difficult place to fight back.

A woman blocks the police during a march in Caracas against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo: Manaure Quintero/Zuma Press/Newscom)

A woman blocks the police during a march in Caracas against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. (Photo: Manaure Quintero/Zuma Press/Newscom)

Currently, Venezuela has over 100 political prisoners, more than even Cuba. For the past three years, opposition leader and former government official Leopoldo Lopez has been kept in a military prison in inhumane conditions.

Another victim of the regime is Francisco Marquez, a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen. For four months, he was tortured by his guards and the secret police.

>>> Trump Is Right to Support Venezuela’s Opposition

After almost two decades of buildup to this catastrophe, Latin American leaders are stepping forward to address the Venezuela problem.

In particular, the new leader of the Organization of American States, Secretary-General Luis Almagro, has re-engaged his organization as a force for democracy and human rights in the hemisphere. But could it be too late?

Only time will well. One thing is for certain—these protests appear to be intensifying, and by all counts the Venezuelan government is continuing its violent repression.

Just as President George H. W. Bush saw with the Tiananmen Square massacre in the early months of his presidency, Venezuela’s deteriorating situation could soon become the Trump administration’s first foreign policy crisis in Latin America.

It is no longer a matter of how long the government can hold on to power, but how the multitude of problems facing Venezuela will shape its inevitable implosion.

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Cartoon: The Left’s Assault on Free Speech http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/cartoon-the-lefts-assault-on-free-speech/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/cartoon-the-lefts-assault-on-free-speech/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:14:21 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329571 The post Cartoon: The Left’s Assault on Free Speech appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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Congress Should Exert Influence by Authorizing Military Force Against ISIS http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/congress-should-exert-influence-by-authorizing-military-force-against-isis/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/congress-should-exert-influence-by-authorizing-military-force-against-isis/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:51:01 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329508 Syrian President Bashar Assad’s recent use of chemical weapons against his own people is a grim reminder of the deep challenges that continue to exist... Read More

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Syrian President Bashar Assad’s recent use of chemical weapons against his own people is a grim reminder of the deep challenges that continue to exist in Syria and the surrounding region.

Compounding the problem is the brutal and ongoing presence of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which has taken a toll in recent months but remains far from defeated.

It’s no wonder that many experts consider this the most complicated geopolitical challenge in recent history.

The involvement of Russia, Iran, Turkey, and other groups in Syria combined with an unprecedented refugee crisis have led to a fractured situation that may take decades to fully resolve.

While the situation on the ground is complicated, it is refreshing to have a president who is ready and willing to take decisive action when necessary.

The most powerful currency that we have—our credibility with our international counterparts—was sacrificed during the Obama presidency in order to preserve President Barack Obama’s misguided nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama’s lack of follow through in 2013, when the Assad regime launched a separate chemical attack that killed over 1,000 innocent Syrians, created a crisis of trust. The Syrian regime crossed the “red line” that Obama himself created, but there were no repercussions.

In contrast, President Donald Trump sent a clear message that he is willing and ready to respond when necessary by acting decisively in response to Assad’s most recent use of chemical weapons.

The Trump administration deserves credit for its measured response to Assad and its bold approach to ISIS. But the significance and complexity of the regional threat, particularly from ISIS, requires renewed attention from Congress.

>>> Where the Fight Against ISIS Stands, and How the US Can Win

At this critical moment, it is vital that the United States has a comprehensive strategy that addresses the situation in Syria. Part of this strategy should include Congress passing a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

The Congress is the body our Constitution entrusts with the ability to declare war. This power was further solidified by the War Powers Resolution that was passed in the wake of the Vietnam War, as Congress is the body closest to the American people and the most accountable to the citizenry for its decisions.

Last month, I introduced a revised AUMF specifically aimed at defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The AUMFs Congress passed in 2001 and 2002 in response to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have served a critical purpose, but their usefulness has been exhausted as the once-dominant al-Qaeda threat has given way to ISIS.

Some argue that al-Qaeda evolved into ISIS, and therefore the old AUMFs are still valid for today’s fight. Others argue that ISIS falls under the “associated forces” provisions of old AUMFs.

While these arguments may have merit, their critical assumptions have not been tested in court, and relying on them in the fight against ISIS would put our armed forces on a tenuous legal footing.

>>> Read The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the 2001 AUMF and the need for a new AUMF targeting ISIS.

Our military forces need certainty in their mission and in their legal mandate. It is a much wiser course of action to take up this new AUMF to provide undisputed clarity to our troops and to ensure that our nation is on strong legal footing.

Furthermore, over 75 percent of my colleagues in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have never cast a vote to authorize our current wars in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, and their voices must be heard on our next steps in this region.

The costs of both action and inaction in Syria are great. If the U.S. is to defeat ISIS and restore stability to a fragile region, it is critical that the American people’s elected representatives in Congress debate and vote on a new AUMF.

I commend the president for his decisive leadership in confronting all threats to American interests in Syria, both from ISIS and the Assad regime.

He has operated in line with his Article II powers as the commander in chief of our armed forces, but it is crucial that Congress now contribute to the conversation and give our military the tools to succeed.

This AUMF will do just that. It authorizes and fully supports the mission of our brave men and women, and it is time for Congress to take it up.

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Even With Republicans in Charge, Upcoming Budget Battle Looks Grim http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/even-with-republicans-in-charge-upcoming-budget-battle-looks-grim/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/even-with-republicans-in-charge-upcoming-budget-battle-looks-grim/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:30:28 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329517 And so it begins. The GOP surrender in the budget battle. Despite all the campaign promises to “rein in government” and “get the country’s fiscal... Read More

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And so it begins. The GOP surrender in the budget battle.

Despite all the campaign promises to “rein in government” and “get the country’s fiscal house in order,” the groundwork is already being laid by Republican lawmakers to explain why they just aren’t going to be able to put the brakes on spending after all.

Unless Congress passes a budget by the last week of April, just four days after they return from a two-week recess, funds for the federal government will officially run out.

Such looming deadlines are almost always bad news for taxpayers as members of both political parties usually decide the only path forward is to spend more money. That is one of the main reasons America is currently $19.9 trillion in debt and counting.

Considering Republicans now control both houses of Congress and the White House and that President Donald Trump has called for significant cuts across the board in his initial budget proposal, one would think maybe, just maybe, this time things would go differently.

Apparently not. The script of the past eight years is about to play out again.

Democratic lawmakers who threaten to derail any spending proposal that doesn’t include spending they want, like funding for Planned Parenthood, or that includes any spending they don’t want, such as funding for a border wall, will be lauded for standing up for their principles.

Republican lawmakers who suggest they can’t support a spending bill because of what it does or doesn’t include will be accused of shutting down the government, all to appease their base.

But now that a GOP president is sitting in the White House, Republicans in Congress should be rewriting the script.

They should be calling the Democrats’ bluff and put forward legislation that does what they promised—reins in government spending, starts addressing America’s debt, and secures our border and national security needs.

If enough Democrats in the House and Senate don’t vote for it (such legislation requires 60 votes in the Senate), they should make it clear that they will go into every state where vulnerable Democrats are up for re-election in 2018 and tell voters there that their lawmaker was responsible for shutting down the government over liberal pet causes—such as funding for sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood—or because he or she didn’t want to allocate funds to secure our border.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said about the budget process, “Nobody gets everything they want.”

That’s not the point. The question is which side will get more of what they want, and there is little evidence the GOP is on track to win that race.

And the spending addiction isn’t limited to headline-grabbing fights, like over funding the nation’s largest for-profit abortion provider. Both political parties are so addicted to government spending that they are loath to cut anything.

As recently as 2011, Congress passed something called the Budget Control Act—a law supposedly intended to “control” how much government spends.

But that proved too hard for lawmakers to live by, so instead of making tough decisions about where to cut back, they busted the caps on spending and continued to borrow more money.

This meant more money for federal government boondoggles, like subsidizing rural airline routes in Alaska and catfish inspection programs in Mississippi—two programs, by the way, championed by Republican senators in their respective states.

And those are just two out of over 100 government programs The Heritage Foundation has identified in its “Blueprint for Balance” that, if scaled back or eliminated, would reduce spending by almost $90 billion.

But once on the dole, even many Republicans just can’t seem to wean themselves off. And if you aren’t willing to fight the smaller battles, you certainly aren’t up for the big ones.

And that, sadly, is why the much-ballyhooed forthcoming budget battle, per usual, is likely to turn out to not be much of a battle at all.

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Senators Like School Choice for Their Own Kids. Why Not for Everyone? http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/senators-like-school-choice-for-their-own-kids-why-not-for-everyone/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/21/senators-like-school-choice-for-their-own-kids-why-not-for-everyone/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:00:37 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329527 In recent years, states have significantly increased the availability of private school choice options. Since 2011, nearly a dozen states have enacted new tax credit... Read More

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In recent years, states have significantly increased the availability of private school choice options.

Since 2011, nearly a dozen states have enacted new tax credit scholarship programs, which provide tax credits to corporations and individuals who contribute to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships to eligible children to attend a private school of choice.

And since 2011, states have also adopted education savings accounts, following Arizona’s successful implementation of the policy in 2011. Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Nevada have already followed Arizona’s lead, while several other state legislatures are currently considering ESAs in their own states.

>>> Arizona Scored a Big Win With School Choice. Here’s How It Will Help Children.

The continued momentum of school choice efforts at the state level, paired with a presidential administration that has made school choice a priority, has brought the school choice debate to the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Although Washington is limited in what it can do to advance education choice—confined largely to options that impact children living in the nation’s capital, children of military families, and those attending federally managed Bureau of Indian Affairs schools—the administration’s support for school choice is a welcome change of pace.

During the eight years comprising the tenure of the Obama administration, the highly successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vouchers to low-income children to attend a private school of choice in D.C., was under constant threat of being defunded.

These efforts by the Obama administration, and those opposed to education choice in Congress, begs the question: Do members of Congress themselves exercise private school choice?

The Senate’s Own School Choices

It turns out that many members of the Senate, while opposing private school choice policies that would benefit others, practice school choice themselves.

Since 2000, The Heritage Foundation has surveyed members of Congress to determine whether they had exercised private school choice by ever sending a child to private school.

The data from the most recent survey in 2009 was combined with information found through an open source search to inform this post.

Accordingly:

  • Thirty-four percent of senators had at one time sent their children to private school.
  • Thirty-nine percent of Democratic senators had at one time sent their children to private school.
  • Thirty-two percent of Republican senators had at one time sent their children to private school.

Current findings are consistent with previous surveys showing that Congress exercises private school choice at a disproportionately higher rate than average Americans.

Only 10 percent of all students in the U.S. attend private schools, yet well over 30 percent of senators exercised private school choice.

The 115th Congress will likely have the opportunity to consider policies that enable parents to choose the best school for their children.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides private school tuition scholarships to low-income children, is currently up for reauthorization.

Putting that program on firm footing, and then expanding the program—which has raised graduation rates for participants by an incredible 21 percentage points—would signal a congressional commitment to giving parents greater access to the best education options for their children.

>>> Evidence in Favor of School Choice Continues to Mount

Similarly, repurposing funds for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide families with an education savings account option, as well as giving military-connected children more choice in their education, would help ensure many more American families have access to learning options that work to meet the unique needs of their individual children.

School choice is clearly a popular choice for members of the Senate. It’s time to bring similar options to more families across America.

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Trump to Announce ‘Tremendous Things’ for Veterans Health Care http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/trump-to-announce-tremendous-things-for-veterans-health-care/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/trump-to-announce-tremendous-things-for-veterans-health-care/#respond Fri, 21 Apr 2017 02:04:17 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329097 Some veterans organizations don’t think a bill President Donald Trump signed Wednesday expanding private care options for veterans goes far enough. “The veterans have poured... Read More

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Some veterans organizations don’t think a bill President Donald Trump signed Wednesday expanding private care options for veterans goes far enough.

“The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long,” @POTUS says.

Trump seemed to agree, which is why he said more announcements are coming next week regarding veteran care.

“There is still much work to do. We will fight each and every day to deliver the long-awaited reforms our veterans deserve and to protect those who have so courageously protected each and every one of us,” Trump said in the Roosevelt Room Wednesday after signing the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act.

The bill allows veterans to get private health care treatment outside the Department of Veterans Affairs system, but it will still be paid for by the VA.

Trump said he and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin will announce more steps to improve veterans’ health care at a press conference on April 27. The press conference, highlighting one of his key issues, comes near Trump’s 100-day mark since taking office.

“We’re going to have a news conference with David and some others to tell you about all of the tremendous things that are happening at the VA, what we’ve done in terms of progress and achievement,” Trump said.

Trump made improving health care for veterans a major theme during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump’s signing extends a law that was about to sunset, put in place as an emergency response to the VA waiting list scandal that first came to light in 2013, when veterans were often denied care, and in some cases even died.

“The veterans have poured out their sweat and blood and tears for this country for so long and it’s time that they are recognized and it’s time that we now take care of them and take care of them properly,” Trump said.

Trump noted the legislation allows veterans to see “the doctor of their choice” without being required to travel a long distance to receive care.

“It’s not going to happen anymore,” Trump said.

This is only a good first step, said Mark Lucas, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, who attended the signing ceremony.

“The Choice Program was passed as a quick fix to the wait list manipulation scandal that broke three years ago, and while it’s helped, too many veterans still are forced to seek care at failing VA facilities,” Lucas said in a public statement. “Congress now has some time to work with Secretary Shulkin on broader, more permanent choice reforms that will truly put the veteran at the center of their health care and remove VA bureaucrats as the middlemen.”

The Choice Program was initially created by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014. It provided the VA an additional $10 billion in emergency funding to expand veterans’ access to care, but came with a three-year sunset clause. That meant the VA had to either use or lose the $1 billion remaining.

The new bill that Trump signed into law on Wednesday addressed some issues that veteran groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars had expressed concerns about. The new law eliminates the secondary payer requirement, clarifying that VA is the payer of care, not veterans. It also makes it easier to share medical documentation with Choice Program providers, so veterans don’t have to face unnecessary delays when scheduling appointments.

Though more announcements are coming at next week’s press conference, the VA secretary didn’t want to minimize the new law.

“This is a good day for veterans,” Shulkin said at the Roosevelt Room signing ceremony. “This is a great day to celebrate not only what veterans have contributed to this country but how we are making things better for them, and by working together, we’re going to continue this progress.”

Also attending the event were Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., as well as Florida Gov. Rick Scott and House Veterans Affairs Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn.

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Professor Paints Picture of Trump’s Decapitated Head, Puts It on Display at College http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/professor-paints-picture-of-trumps-decapitated-head-puts-it-on-display-at-college/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/professor-paints-picture-of-trumps-decapitated-head-puts-it-on-display-at-college/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:43:09 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329419 A professor at an Alaska university has put a painting featuring President Donald Trump’s decapitated head on display at the college art gallery. Thomas Chung, assistant... Read More

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A professor at an Alaska university has put a painting featuring President Donald Trump’s decapitated head on display at the college art gallery.
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Thomas Chung, assistant professor of painting at the University of Alaska Anchorage, painted a portrait of Captain America actor Chris Evans standing naked and holding up Trump’s severed head, KTUU reported. Two large birds, apparently eagles, are behind Evans and a young-looking Hillary Clinton sits at the actor’s feet, holding onto his left leg.

“I was reminded of those ’80s rock posters,” said Chung, “where there’s a woman in tattered clothes clinging to a strong male hero’s leg.”

The professor explained that the 2016 presidential election results influenced his painting.

“After Trump was elected, I spent days just weeping,” the professor said. “And it was really surprising, because I’m not a political person. I am a social artist. I deal mostly in ideals of culture and global culture, but this election bled into that.”

Paul Berger, a former Anchorage professor and self-described conservative, shared his opinion on the painting.

“The painting itself, I kind of found disturbing,” Berger told KTUU. “The image itself was very graphic. So from that point of view, and as a father, trying to explain to my children what the artist is trying to say … [it’s] difficult.” He added:

Had the roles been reversed, and it was [President Barack] Obama’s head hanging there, I think the outrage would be fantastic. As a free speech advocate, everyone has a right to express their opinion the way they want to express them. But as a parent and a citizen, there’s a discussion. In a university setting, what’s appropriate?

The Daily Caller News Foundation sought comment from Chung, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

This report was modified to provide a fuller description of the artwork. Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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In France’s Presidential Election, the Intersecting Consequences of Islamist Terrorism and Russian Aggression http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/in-frances-presidential-election-the-intersecting-consequences-of-islamist-terrorism-and-russian-aggression/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/in-frances-presidential-election-the-intersecting-consequences-of-islamist-terrorism-and-russian-aggression/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:25:43 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329383 KYIV, Ukraine—Europe’s two greatest security challenges, Islamist terrorism and Russian military aggression, have cast a shadow over the French presidential election. Authorities in Paris reported... Read More

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KYIV, Ukraine—Europe’s two greatest security challenges, Islamist terrorism and Russian military aggression, have cast a shadow over the French presidential election.

Authorities in Paris reported a possible terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees on Thursday night, throwing the election a last-minute curveball—potentially to the benefit of the far-right National Front party’s candidate, Marine Le Pen.

The two candidates who have arguably taken the hardest stand against terrorism and immigration, Le Pen and the conservative Republicans’ François Fillon, are also unabashed admirers of Russian President Vladimir Putin and apologists for the Kremlin’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Fillon and Le Pen have both said the European Union should drop its sanctions on Russia, put in place for Moscow’s 2014 seizure of Crimea and ongoing proxy war in eastern Ukraine.

“These sanctions are completely stupid, they have not solved any problems, they haven’t improved the situation at all, all they have done is created major economic problems for the EU,” Le Pen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview, referring to the EU’s sanctions on Russia.

“Both are trying to play with fears and they denounce [French President Francois] Hollande’s government for having failed in preventing the terror attacks in Paris and in Nice,” Nicolas Tenzer, founder and president of the Centre for Study and Research for Political Decision, a Paris-based think tank, told The Daily Signal, referring to Fillon and Le Pen.

“They are basically anti-American and consider Russia as a counterweight,” Tenzer added. “In their views, Ukraine is likely to be part of Russian empire, or at least sphere of influence.”

A building lit up in France’s national colors in November 2015, days after a deadly terror attack. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

A building lit up in France’s national colors in November 2015, days after a deadly terror attack. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

France is a nuclear power, the world’s sixth-largest economy, and a founding member of the European Union. Consequently, a lot is at stake in the upcoming French vote.

The first round of voting is set for Sunday, with the two finalists squaring off in a second round on May 7.

Fillon’s candidacy has been rocked by scandal, and widely discounted from reaching the May 7 runoff. Although, according to French news reports, he has made a late surge in the lead up to Sunday’s first round of voting.

Le Pen has slipped in the polls, but she is still expected to reach the second round where she will likely face centrist Emmanuel Macron, the current frontrunner.

France’s former minister of the economy, the 39-year-old Macron, is running his first political campaign—without the backing of an established party. Macron is expected to edge Le Pen in the final vote.

France’s incumbent president, Hollande, a socialist, is not running for re-election.

As of this article’s publication, French authorities were investigating whether Thursday’s attack in Paris was an act of terrorism. That attack, and a terrorist plot stymied by French authorities this week, might give Le Pen a late boost in the polls, some say.

“It is … certain that the terrorist attack, which has been prevented this week, would have led to a surge in votes for the candidate of the National Front,” Marcel Van Herpen, director of the Cicero Foundation, a Dutch think tank that specializes in Russian and European affairs, told The Daily Signal.

“Basically, the barriers between the far right and Les Républicains are falling, and we could also consider that if Fillon doesn’t run for the second round, some of his voters, maybe one-third, polls said, would turn to Le Pen,” Tenzer said.

Hybrid War

As part of a broader campaign to undermine Western democracies, Putin has exploited the threat of Islamist terrorism, as well as an anti-EU, anti-immigrant populism that has swept across Europe, to find an inroads to influence the French election.

For Putin, positioning Russia as an ally to the West in combatting terrorism is a potential bargaining chip to exchange for securing sanctions relief.

If Europe dropped sanctions without Moscow backing down on Crimea or eastern Ukraine, it would be a political windfall for the Russian leader as he looks to his own re-election campaign in 2018.

For Le Pen, fears of terrorism and anxiety about Europe’s refugee crisis have proven to be political boons of her own.

The National Front’s campaign platform taps into French Euroskepticism as well as voter anxieties about Europe’s refugee crisis and radical Islamic terrorism. It’s a message that has struck a chord with the French people after a string of deadly terrorist attacks.

“The terrorist attacks have played an important role in Le Pen’s rise to a serious candidate,” Van Herpen said. “They confirmed the already existing idea that migrants from Muslim countries are dangerous and are a threat to the French identity. They also confirm the idea that the European Union … is not the solution, but only a part of the problem.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Marine Le Pen, National Front party leader and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2017. (Photo: Sputnik/Reuters/Newscom)

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Marine Le Pen, National Front party leader and candidate for the French 2017 presidential election, in Moscow, Russia, March 24, 2017. (Photo: Sputnik/Reuters/Newscom)

Le Pen has also shown that she is squarely in Moscow’s corner when it comes to Ukraine. In an interview with the Polish news site Do Rzeczy, Le Pen said, “Regarding Ukraine, we behave like American lackeys.”

“The aim of the Americans is to start a war in Europe to push NATO to the Russian border,” she said.

In February 2014, pro-European street protests in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, overthrew a kleptocratic pro-Russian regime that murdered more than 100 of its own citizens in its waning days.

Le Pen called the revolution a “coup d’etat.”

On Crimea, Le Pen said Russia’s hybrid warfare invasion of the Ukrainian peninsula never happened, and that the Crimean people willingly chose to rejoin the Russian Federation on their own accord.

“I absolutely disagree that it was an illegal annexation. A referendum was held and residents of Crimea chose to rejoin Russia,” Le Pen told the French channel BFM TV.

The EU and the United States have called the 2014 referendum illegitimate.

Le Pen has made several trips to Moscow to meet with government officials, including a meeting with Putin in February 2014 one month before Russia’s annexation of Crimea, according to the French investigative news site Mediapart.

On a March 24 visit to Moscow, Le Pen told Putin that she wanted France and Russia to share intelligence related to fighting terrorism.

“It is a public secret that the National Front serves the foreign policy of the Kremlin,” Van Herpen told The Daily Signal.

Russian banks have financed Le Pen’s National Front party, providing tens of millions of euros in loans.

In November 2014, according to French news reports, the National Front received a 9 million euro ($9.8 million) loan from the Russian-owned First Czech-Russian Bank, part of a 40 million euro request.

Accusations that the loan was a reward for her position on Crimea were “ridiculous,” Le Pen said.

Course Correction

As for Fillon, in March the French newspaper Le Canard reported that France’s 63-year-old former prime minister was paid 50,000 euros (about $54,000) by Dubai-based Future Pipe Industries Group Ltd. to set up a meeting between Putin, Lebanese billionaire Fouad Makhzoumi, and Total SA Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne at a conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2015.

In November, Putin said he has a “very good” personal relationship with Fillon.

Fillon and Le Pen’s stances on Russia diverge from that of Hollande, France’s current president—but it’s not a complete turnaround.

Hollande has steadfastly supported the EU’s sanctions regime against Moscow. He has also been a party to the Ukraine conflict’s cease-fire negotiations.

In 2014, the French president canceled a $1.6 billion deal, dating back to 2008, to sell two Mistral warships to Russia. At the time the deal was nixed, more than 400 Russian sailors were already in the French port city of Saint-Nazaire for training, and port facilities were under construction in Vladivostok.

However, in the aftermath of the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, there was a warming of Franco-Russian relations.

In the days that followed, Hollande reached out to Russia for intelligence on Islamic State targets in Syria for French retaliatory bombing runs.

And on Nov. 26, Hollande flew to Moscow to ask for Putin’s help in fighting the Islamic State in Syria. Hollande’s outreach to Russia to combat terrorism underscored France’s tricky relationship with Moscow.

For the French people, terrorism is, without question, considered the top security concern. And polling has suggested that anxiety about terrorism has boosted support for the National Front.

Less than a month after the November 2015 Paris attacks, the National Front won the first round of France’s regional parliamentary elections that December with 28 percent of the overall vote, effectively upheaving France’s political order overnight.

Speaking about the 2015 parliamentary election, Van Herpen said Russia had “a double reason to be satisfied with the [November 2015] terrorist attacks in Paris.”

“It made the National Front the biggest party of France,” he said, “and it completely changed the attitude of the French government vis-à-vis Moscow.”

Long Time Coming

This is an election as much about tectonic shifts to the defining traits of French civilization as it is about the fickle winds of the politics of the moment.

Patrick Calvar, head of the French intelligence service, warned in 2016 that France is “on the brink of civil war.”

Until the rise of the Islamic State, the Islamist terrorism threat in Europe had mostly been tied to causes anchored outside of Europe such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Algerian civil war, or al-Qaeda’s war on the West.

However, the Islamic State’s terrorist attacks across Europe aren’t the consequences of far-off conflicts or distant grievances; they are, in fact, the symptoms of a conflict that has been brewing inside of Europe for decades.

These attacks are an expression of rage by European-born Muslims against their homelands.

Compounding the threat, some experts say that as the Islamic State loses ground in Syria and Iraq, the thousands of potential recruits the terrorist army was able to gin up every month to join its ranks in the Middle East are now being redirected to launch terrorist attacks in their home countries in Europe and the West.

All of the known terrorists who carried out the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks in Paris, killing 130, were EU citizens. And at least one slipped back into Europe’s Schengen free travel zone pretending to be a Syrian refugee.

In 2015 alone, more than 1 million refugees flooded into Europe—including about 660,000 from the war-torn countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Consequently, immigration and terrorism are hot-button issues as France chooses its next president.

At a campaign rally in Marseille on Wednesday, Le Pen called the election a “choice of civilizations.”

“I will be the president of those French who want to continue living in France as the French do,” Le Pen said.

Fillon has pledged to punish anyone “who takes up arms against their country” by stripping them of their nationality.

Leaflets of candidates for the French 2017 presidential election. (Photo: Xavier Vila/SIPA/Newscom)

Leaflets of candidates for the French 2017 presidential election. (Photo: Xavier Vila/SIPA/Newscom)

When asked how Putin would react to a Le Pen or Fillon victory, Tenzer answered: “Champagne and caviar in the Kremlin!”

“It would be a huge success for Putin,” Tenzer said. “It could mean the dismantlement of Europe, the unravelling of security organizations, including maybe NATO, and the [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], and certainly the U.N. It would give a free hand to Moscow in Europe and in the Middle East, and of course the lifting of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.”

Moscow’s enthusiasm for a Le Pen presidency is not, however, shared by Ukrainian lawmakers.

Signaling a potential diplomatic row should Le Pen be elected, Ukraine’s foreign ministry issued a pointed statement in January.

“Making statements that repeat Kremlin propaganda, the French politician shows disrespect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and completely ignores the fundamental principles of international law,” the statement said.

The statement added: “Such statements and actions in violation of the Ukrainian legislation will necessarily have consequences, as it was in the case of certain French politicians, who are denied entry to Ukraine.”

Responding to the Ukrainian statement, a spokesman for Le Pen told Reuters: “Marine Le Pen had no intention of going there (to Ukraine) anyway. This issue will be solved via diplomatic channels when she becomes president of the (French) Republic.”

The post In France’s Presidential Election, the Intersecting Consequences of Islamist Terrorism and Russian Aggression appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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The Insane Punishment a School Gave a Teen Over a Water Gun http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/the-insane-punishment-a-school-gave-a-teen-over-a-water-gun/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/the-insane-punishment-a-school-gave-a-teen-over-a-water-gun/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:21:12 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329398 What is the appropriate punishment for a high school student found on campus in possession of a water gun? The Autauga County Board of Education,... Read More

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What is the appropriate punishment for a high school student found on campus in possession of a water gun?

The Autauga County Board of Education, which covers communities near Montgomery, Alabama, decided that a 16-year-old girl with a water gun was in violation of the board’s firearms policy. So Sara Allena “Laney” Nichols received a one-year expulsion.

According to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser, Laney explained that she acquired the water pistol “as a joke” from a male classmate in a school hallway at  Prattville High School.

The school’s security cameras captured footage of Laney holding the toy gun, but not of the male student holding it at any time. He received no punishment.

Laney said she put the water pistol in her backpack and then, the same day, on the back seat of her car in the school parking lot. It went unnoticed by the principal and school officials until a classmate reported to the administration a few days later that Laney had a gun.

Prattville High officials, following proper procedures, questioned Laney. She told them that the purported gun was really a water gun and was in her car, parked on school grounds, at that time. Confirming that Laney, in fact, possessed a harmless piece of plastic, school officials successfully cleared the threat.

Laney’s mother, Tara Herring, says her daughter got a 10-day suspension. Herring conceded that the black water pistol may have looked like a real gun at first glance, but is made of plastic and clearly distinguishable the second someone touches it.

That could have been the end of the story, but the school board decided to hand down a one-year expulsion for Laney’s violation of the Parent/Student Code of Conduct, which classifies possession of a weapon as a “major offense” punishable by expulsion.

The board’s Policy Manual prohibits students from possessing firearms on school grounds, including cars parked in the school lot. “Any student who violates this policy shall be expelled for a period of one year,” it says.

The Policy Manual, however, also provides that the superintendent of schools “may modify the expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis.” Thus far, Superintendent Spence Agee has declined to comment on the incident, although if he has any common sense, he’ll modify this draconian penalty.

Also at issue is whether Laney’s water pistol even qualifies as a prohibited firearm under school board rules. The Code of Conduct broadly defines a firearm as an object that “is designed to, or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive charge or by compressed air or by spring action.”

A water gun could fall under this broad definition of a firearm only if water qualifies as a projectile and the plastic toy uses compressed air or a spring mechanism to release it. Surely, the board did not envision a harmless water gun when it adopted its firearm prohibition.

The Policy Manual provides an even stricter definition by adopting the definition of a firearm provided by federal law (18 U.S.C. § 921). Under the statute, a “firearm” is “any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.” Notably, not a water gun.

As the New Jersey State Supreme Court once reasoned, the statute is “talking about a real gun capable of discharging a projectile of some sort, not talking about a toy gun, not talking about a water gun, not talking about a plastic gun that can’t fire a projectile” (State v. Gantt (1986).

Laney’s water pistol is not a firearm under the adopted definition of Autauga County schools’ Policy Manual.

Education officials are understandably hypersensitive to threats of guns on campus, but the danger posed by real guns at school should not allow for a gross overreaction that could derail a student’s academic career.

Conflicting standards, overly broad definitions, and vague policies plague the criminal justice system with the possibility of absurd results. The same is happening here.

In this case, Agee should yield to reason, if not compassion, and use his discretion to modify the expulsion or yield to the statutory definition of a firearm to reduce the level of Laney’s offense.

Laney’s family has hired a lawyer and is threatening to sue if the school board does not act to remove the “scarlet letter E” (expulsion) from Laney’s record. It should not take a lawsuit to determine that a water pistol is not a firearm.

A 16-year-old girl deserves more from America’s public education system than a one-year expulsion for possession of a water gun.

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US Falling Behind on Trade, While Japan and EU Thrive http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/us-falling-behind-on-trade-while-japan-and-eu-thrive/ http://dailysignal.com/2017/04/20/us-falling-behind-on-trade-while-japan-and-eu-thrive/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 21:52:12 +0000 http://dailysignal.com/?p=329362 European Union and Japanese leaders recently met in Brussels to further negotiations for a free trade agreement. As the EU and Japan work together to... Read More

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European Union and Japanese leaders recently met in Brussels to further negotiations for a free trade agreement. As the EU and Japan work together to boost their economic, political, and security ties, sentiments in the United States seem to be turning away from free trade in favor of protectionism.

President Donald Trump has fueled anti-trade sentiment in the U.S. by promoting policies like “Buy American, Hire American.” The United States role in forcing G20 financial ministers to drop their pledge to protect global free trade further amplifies the administration’s protectionist attitude.

The World Trade Organization stated in a recent press release that global trade growth is slowing dramatically, a serious concern. Global trade has grown at the slowest pace since the 2008 financial crisis. The World Trade Organization reported that last year’s trade growth rate slowed to only 1.7 percent, and will likely worsen if the U.S. implements a protectionist agenda.

Despite these trends, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made it his mission to take a firm stance against the rise of protectionism. The Japanese trade agreement with the EU is likely to shed more light on the benefits of free trade while sending a direct message to Trump that the world is moving ahead.

The United States will continue to fall behind unless Trump embraces the values and benefits of free trade. It is important for the United States to continue to advance America’s freedom to trade.

The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom has shown that countries with higher trade freedom scores have higher per capita incomes, lower poverty rates, and a cleaner environment.

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