What was supposed to be a 3-minute speech turned into 14 minutes of droning that even the other global warming nutbags in the room didn’t want to hear.
From the Washington Examiner:
John Kerry: Russia has until Monday to reverse course in Ukraine
By Susan Crabtree | March 13, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry warned of serious repercussions for Russia on Monday if last-ditch talks over the weekend to resolve the crisis in Ukraine failed to persuade Moscow to soften its stance.
How many ‘red lines’ has Obama painted and Putin crossed so far? Is anyone keeping count?
Kerry will travel to London for a Friday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ahead of a Sunday referendum vote in the Crimea region to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.
U.S. and European officials argue that Moscow is orchestrating the referendum and waging an intimidation campaign with thousands of Russian troops controlling the region. If Russian-backed lawmakers in Crimea go through with the Sunday referendum, Kerry said the U.S. and its European allies will not recognize it as legitimate under international law.
The U.S. and Europe on Monday would then unite to impose sanctions on Russia, Kerry told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Thursday during a hearing on the State Department’s budget.
Despite Kerry’s big talk there will be no meaningful sanctions against Russia. Because we now have such an interdependent global economy sanctions would hurt the US and Europe almost as much as Russia. And the bitter irony is we have always been told that having an economically interdependent world would make conflict and aggression less common.
Well, guess what? Being interdependent also stops countries from being able to use sanctions to punish aggression. So they either have to resort to military force or just accept things like what Putin has done. So the supposedly peace-inducing a global economy actually makes it easier for bullies to invade other countries and get away with it.
“There will be a response of some kind to the referendum itself,” Kerry said. “If there is no sign [from Russia] of any capacity to respond to this issue… there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday.”…
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and a top critic of President Obama’s foreign policy, asked what the administration would do if Russian forces advance farther into the eastern area of Ukraine, and the new government in Kiev asks the U.S. for weapons to fight the Russians.
Kerry responded carefully, saying “we have contingencies – we are talking through various options that may or may not be available.”…
How absolutely pathetic. Putin and everyone else knows Obama will do nothing.
U.S. authorities are closely monitoring the number of Russian troops in Crimea, as well as their movements, he said, noting that Moscow is allowed to have a total of 25,000 troops in Crimea.
[Kerry] said that currently Russia does not have the assets positioned to “march in and take over all of Ukraine but that could change and we recognize that.”…
Proving once again that John Kerry is a total jackass in all things. Here is a headline from yesterday’s New York Times: ‘Russian Troops Mass at Border With Ukraine.’
Shots rang out and tension remained high in the streets of Kiev Friday, as Ukrainian protest leaders signed a deal with Ukraine’s president to defuse a political crisis that has left scores dead and hundreds injured.
After hours of European-led negotiations, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych signed an agreement with opposition leaders Friday that calls for early elections, a new constitution and a new unity government. The deal promises presidential elections will be held no later than December, instead of March 2015 as scheduled.
Many protesters say December is too late – they want Yanukovych out immediately.
Ukrainian authorities also will now name a new government – including opposition figures – within 10 days. The deal says the government will not impose a state of emergency and both sides will refrain from violence.
It’s a “good compromise for Ukraine. Gives peace a chance. Opens the way for reform and to Europe. Poland and EU support it,” European Union mediator, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, said in a Twitter post Friday.
The Ukrainian parliament approved amnesty for protesters involved in the violent months-long standoff, following the agreement Friday. The parliament also voted to restore the 2004 constitution that limits presidential powers, clawing back some of the powers that Yanukovych had pushed through after being elected in 2010. Although Yanukovych retains an apparent majority in parliament, his powers are now significantly reduced.
Yanukovych gave in to pressure from European diplomats, offering concessions – including elections – and promising to invite the opposition into the government, in an attempt to end the violence.
Opposition leader Oleh Yaroslavovych Tyahnybok says one condition of the agreement was that the present interior minister and prosecutor-general be excluded from any interim government, Reuters reported, citing Interfax.
Russian officials immediately criticized the deal and protesters angry over police violence showed no sign of abandoning their sprawling camp in central Kiev. While opposition leaders agreed that protesters should hand over any weapons and withdraw from occupied buildings and protest camps around the country, it’s far from clear whether the thousands of demonstrators camped out in Kiev Friday will go home.
One by one, protesters took to a stage on Independence Square to say they’re not happy and didn’t get what they wanted.
A statement on the website of the Health Ministry said 77 people had been killed between Tuesday morning, when the violence began, and Friday morning. The statement said 577 people had been wounded and 369 hospitalized. Opposition sources claimed at least 70 on their side were killed Thursday. There was no way to immediately verify the figures.
European foreign ministers had stayed up all night in Kiev trying to negotiate an end to the standoff, sparked when the president aborted a pact with the European Union in November in favor of close ties with Russia instead.
The U.S., Russia and European Union are deeply concerned about the future of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West.
Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the committee in charge of relations with other ex-Soviet nations in the lower house of Russian parliament, told reporters Friday that the agreement serves the interests of the West.
“We realize where and by whom this agreement has been written. It’s entirely in the interests of the United States and other powers, who want to split Ukraine from Russia,” Slutsky said.
Slutsky also shrugged off claims that Russia could send its troops to Ukraine, saying Moscow will communicate with any government Ukraine has. “No matter how bad and hard to deal with the new government is for us, we will deal with it,” he said. “We must learn from mistakes we have made.”
Lawmaker Inna Bogoslovskaya, allied with the opposition, told The AP that December is too late for elections. “After 77 corpses yesterday… that changes the stakes,” she said. “The Maidan (protest movement) demands immediate resignation of the president instead of early elections.”
Protesters will not abandon occupied buildings until after the constitution is changed, she added.
“It’s completely not enough,” said protester Anton Gusev, standing at one of the barricades near city hall. Referring to the election date, he said, “December or March – what difference does it make?”
At the city hall barricade, protesters were busily organizing stacks of tires. The street was crowded with people heading toward the central square.
Several regions in the west of the country are in open revolt against the central government, while many in eastern Ukraine back the president and favor strong ties with Russia, their former Soviet ruler.
In a sign of the high tensions, armed law enforcement officers tried to enter parliament Friday morning during a debate over measures to end the crisis. Shouting lawmakers pushed them out.
The report of a deal followed the worst violence yet in the confrontation between the government and protesters. Demonstrators advanced on police lines in the heart of the Ukrainian capital on Thursday, prompting government snipers to shoot back and kill scores of people in the country’s deadliest day since the breakup of the Soviet Union a quarter-century ago.
Protesters across the country are upset over corruption in Ukraine, the lack of democratic rights and the country’s ailing economy, which just barely avoided bankruptcy with the first disbursement of a $15 billion bailout promised by Russia.
The violence is making Ukraine’s economic troubles worse. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ukraine’s debt rating Friday, saying the country will likely default if there are no significant improvements in the political crisis, which it does not expect.
Tens of thousands of pro-life activists endured frigid temperatures and a snow storm Wednesday as they gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to mark the 41st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that has prepared the way for an estimated 56 million abortions.
In past years the march has drawn crowds estimated between 400,000 and 650,000. However, the winter storm that blew through Washington on Tuesday led to cancellations of numerous buses and planes, creating a visible drop in numbers at this year’s rally and march. The Philadelphia archdiocese, for instance, canceled all of their buses.
Famed Christian singer and songwriter Matt Maher was scheduled to lead music for a half hour before the rally, but his slot was cancelled because of the weather. Instead he opened and closed the rally beginning at noon.
Taking the stage to welcome the marchers shortly after noon, March for Life organizers insisted pro-lifers wouldn’t be daunted by the frigid weather in D.C. “We may be freezing, but we’re freezing for the best cause in the world,” said Patrick Kelly, chairman of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. “No sacrifice is too great for this cause,” said Jeanne Monahan, the group’s newly minted president.
Speakers at the rally included Dr. James Dobson, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), and Washington State Democratic Legislator Roger Freeman.
“Your faces are cold but your hearts are on fire, right?” Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, asked the crowd. He related that in 1973 he was driving home on the freeway when he learned of the Roe v. Wade decision. “I grieved over it because I knew it meant millions of babies would die,” he said. “Who would’ve known it would be 56 million by this point 41 years later?”
Telling the story of a couple he counselled to choose life for their child, he told the crowd, “I say to you, if you’re facing a similar situation, …let your baby live!” He then marvelled at the youth of the crowd. “Look at the young people who are here!” he said. “You are the hope of the future and together we’re going to win this fight!”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA, who changed his flight to Israel to attend the March, thanked those present for “braving these unbelievably cold temperatures” and “giving voice to our cause of protecting life.” “I believe that one day in the not too distance future our movement will be victorious because we will prevail in securing a culture of life,” he said.
“You are our movement’s not-so-secret weapon,” he added. “Those of us in public office are merely fortunate to stand on your shoulders.”
The majority leader also announced that next week, the House of Representatives “will vote once and for all to end taxpayer funding for abortions.”
Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, told marchers, “We are here today to remember the millions of lives devastated with abortion and to pledge ourselves anew to upholding the most fundamental” right, “the right to life.”
Noting there are 1.2 million abortion per year in the U.S., she said, “There are more babies who perish each year through abortion than people who live in an entire congressional district.”
An adoptive mother, Hartzler said, “Every life is valuable and has a god ordained purpose. All babies are wanted.”
Giovanna Romero of Latinas por la Vida told marchers that blacks and Hispanics are “systematically targeted by the culture of death.” “Who is with me to fight the good fight?” she asked. “We are the pro-life generation and we will make a mark in history… We will make an end to abortion!”
Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Ob/Gyns, said the front lines of the abortion battle are changing. It’s no longer the clinic and the hospital, but the dorm room and campus clinic because of the promotion of emergency contraceptive drugs, which act as abortifacients. She told the youth, “you’ve now become the frontline in the battle against abortion.”
After the noon rally on the Mall, participants marched to the Supreme Court, where post-abortion men and women from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign shared their testimony.
The rally schedule was shortened today because of the cold, with temperatures hovering around zero, the marchers are undaunted.
In a homily at Washington’s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Tuesday evening, Cardinal Sean O’Malley said the cold weather is “just perfect, because the colder it is the better our witness. They will know we are serious. That is why we are here.”
“We absolutely will go on tomorrow. The March has never been canceled because of extreme temperatures, and it won’t be canceled tomorrow for that reason,” Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, told the Law of Life Summit on Tuesday.
March organizers highlighted the fact that members of both parties spoke, although Republicans made a stronger showing. The Republican National Committee has said they are delaying their annual winter meeting for the March this year and have chartered a bus to bring legislators to the Mall.
The theme for this year’s march is adoption, which Monahan called a “heroic decision” for women in crisis pregnancies. “We want to eliminate the stigma of adoption and encourage women to pursue this noble option,” she said in a press release.
The March for Life organizers are encouraging Twitter users to use the hashtags #whywemarch and #marchforlife throughout the day.
…………Click on image above to watch C-SPAN coverage of event.
Obama off the hook?
Via The Hill:
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and seven other Democrats have proposed legislation that would eliminate the possibility of imposing the death penalty for a range of federal offenses, including several categories of murder and crimes against the government like treason and espionage.
The Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act, H.R. 3741, would end the death penalty for assassination or kidnapping that results in the death of the president or vice president, and also ends it for the murder of a member of Congress.
Under the bill, the death penalty could no longer be used to punish people for using a weapon of mass destruction, or murder done via torture, child abuse, war crimes, aircraft hijackings, sexual abuse, bank robberies or the willful wrecking of a train.
Using chemical or biological materials to kill could also no longer result in the death penalty, nor could deaths related to treason or espionage. The death or injury of an unborn child could not result in the death penalty either.
Death of state or local law enforcement officials, using the mail to kill, kidnapping and killing people to stop them from testifying could no longer lead to the death penalty, nor could the use of firearms or armor piercing ammunition during any crime of violence.
A bill set for fast-track passage in the South Carolina Senate in January aims to eliminate Obamacare in the state. The law could become a model for other states fed up with the federal health-care law.
House Bill 3101, titled the “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act,” passed the state House of Representatives last April by a 65-34 vote. The bill now heads to the GOP-controlled Senate with special-order priority, setting up the likelihood that South Carolina will become the first state to exempt citizens and businesses from all participation in the Affordable Care Act.
State Sen. Tom Davis, the bill’s sponsor who recently wrapped up study committee hearings for H3101 in Columbia, Charleston and other cities, says that the proposed legislation renders the Affordable Care Act void or inoperable through a handful of provisions.
“It will essentially have five components to it, all of which in my judgment are legal, effective, and within the state’s power to do,” Davis, a Republican from Beaufort, said in an interview.
The bill’s main component prohibits agencies, officers and employees of the state of South Carolina from implementing any provisions of the Affordable Care Act, leaving implementation of the national health-care law entirely in the hands of a federal government that lacks the resources or personnel to carry out the programs it mandates.
This provision, according to Davis, comes from the anti-commandeering doctrine established in case law that says feds can’t compel states to enforce federal laws.
“What the Supreme Court said in Printz v. United States is that states are not merely political subdivisions of the federal government to carry out what the federal government does; they are sovereign entities,” Davis said. “Congress can pass laws, but it cannot compel the states to utilize either their treasury or personnel to implement those federal laws.”
Additional provisions of H3101 further neuter the Affordable Care Act by outlawing state exchanges, issuing tax deductions to individuals equal to the tax penalties levied by the federal government, and directing the state attorney general to sue over whimsical enforcement of the law. Taken together, the provisions effectively repeal the federal law for the people of South Carolina.
Davis adds that lawmakers in Columbia are considering two additional provisions: one that outlaws Medicaid expansion, and another that suspends the licenses of insurers who receive federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
Given the sizable majority of Republicans in the South Carolina Senate – along with moderate Democrats who may support the bill out of fear of voter wrath – H3101 is likely to pass in short order and be signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley, who has led the Palmetto State’s resistance against nationalized health care.
With just a month to go before the fireworks begin, political forces on the left and right are gathering for battle. On one side are local activists, including the Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Laurens County Tea Party groups, which are mobilizing the grass roots to meet at the Capitol in January to support the bill.
On the other side are opponents of H3101, whose main efforts consist of calling lawmakers racists and questioning the authority of states to oppose federal laws. Such attacks are likely to ring hollow in light of the dozens of state and local governments that have recently rejected federal marijuana laws, the Real ID Act, provisions of National Defense Authorization Act, federal gun control, and even U.S. immigration law. State and local governments governed from both sides of the political spectrum are increasingly flexing their Tenth Amendment muscles against perceived federal overreach.
With the federal health law’s popularity plummeting nationwide, Obamacare supporters have reason to be concerned. If South Carolina’s Freedom of Health Care Protection Act becomes law, the bill could go viral and spread to other states.
Mail delivery to the doorstep may be a thing of the past as lawmakers consider ways to cut costs to save the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, which lost $16 billion in 2012.
According to CNN Money, the agency is working toward a more “centralized delivery” approach in which residents pick up their mail from a mailbox at the curb or at clusters of mailboxes within their neighborhoods.
The practice already is being adopted for new houses and developments, and some House Republicans want it rolled out universally.
“A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America’s changing use of mail,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican leading the House effort to save the Postal Service.
Doing away with doorstep delivery has become a central part of Issa’s proposal to save money. Ending door-to-door deliveries would save $4.5 billion a year from the $30 billion the mail service currently spends on delivery.
How? Right now, 35 million residences and businesses get mail delivered to their doorstep. CNN reports that it costs $353 per stop for a delivery in most American cities, taking into account such things as salaries and cost of transport.
Curbside-mailbox delivery costs $224, and cluster boxes cost $160, according to a report from the Postal Service Office of Inspector General cited by CNN.
In addition to the $16 billion lost by the agency last year, it twice defaulted on payments owed to the federal government to prefund retiree healthcare benefits totaling $11 billion. The agency also has exhausted a $15 billion line of credit from the U.S. Treasury.
Nevertheless, the plan has received criticism from unions, which say it would be disruptive for the elderly and disabled, and from otehrs who claim it would be inconvenient and possibly unsafe.
“It’s madness,” Jim Sauber, chief of staff for the National Association of Letter Carriers, told CNN. “The idea that somebody is going to walk down to their mailbox in Buffalo, N.Y., in the winter snow to get their mail is just crazy.”
Others, such as industry groups, support the idea as an alternative to the proposal of cutting Saturday service, which the service floated earlier this year before reversing the decision.
The Postal Service also continues to struggle with mail volume, especially drops in first-class mail, its big revenue driver, as more Americans move to electronic bill-pay and e-mail. To many critics, the service has become little more than a junk-mail delivery service.