Friday, February 27, 2015

House Approves Week-Long Funding for DHS

The DHS funding fight has proven a difficult test for Speaker
John Boehner (R-OH) as he faces a Republican Congress
and a Democratic President.
Credit: J. Scott Applewhite
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has secured an additional week of funding after the House of Representatives voted for a week-long funding measure after Senate Democrats refused to approve of a measure funding the DHS while defunding President Obama's executive immigration actions.

The stopgap measure allows the DHS to escape a temporary shutdown.

The measure passed the House 357-60. Obama signed the bill late Friday night.

House Democrats such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lambasted Republicans, telling them, "You have made a mess." Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who has expressed interest in a 2016 Presidential run, criticized those in his own party, saying, "There are terrorist attacks all over world and we're talking about closing down Homeland Security. This is like living in world of crazy people."

Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) had this to say: "The courts have acted. Accept the victor that the courts have given us, which is the President does not have the authority to do what he has done and vote to continue to fund the Department of Homeland Security. I think that is the right decision."

Conservative opponents of Obama's immigration actions were unmoved. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said, "I am not going to vote under any circumstances to fund illegal conduct [immigration actions]. If it's illegal, it's illegal."

Obama's immigration orders defer deportation for a number of illegal immigrants. One, which has been in effect since 2012, orders that certain people brought to the US illegally as children will not face deportation if they meet certain criteria.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

FCC Passes "Net Neutrality" Rules

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday 3-2 to classify the internet as a public utility as a Title II communications service under the 1934 Communications Act, allowing it to be regulated like telephone lines of old. With the new classification, the FCC can reinstate the rules that were tossed out by a federal court which have would prohibited Internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling certain content on the web, such as video streaming. This policy, called "net neutrality," was termed by Columbia Law School professor and former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of New York Tim Wu.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler spearheaded the effort
to reclassify internet service as a public utility, giving the
FCC broad powers to regulate the internet, including
writing new rules requiring "net neutrality."
Credit: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Supporters of net neutrality cheered the ruling. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said,“ This is a victory for the people … the consumers, the average Joe’s against the big suppliers who have all the power and the wealth and make the decisions for them." A group of Democratic US senators, including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement applauding the ruling.

The two previous attempts to institute net neutrality failed after court challenges, but this reclassification of internet service allows the FCC much greater flexibility in their authority to regulate broadband channels. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler classified the criticism of his decision that said the reclassification is a plan to further regulate the internet as "Nonsense. This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: openness."

Critics of the plan were unmoved. Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, now head of a lobbying organization representing cable providers said, "The FCC has taken the overwhelming support for an open Internet and pried open the door to heavy-handed government regulation in a space celebrated for its free enterprise. The Commission has breathed new life into the decayed telephone regulatory model and applied it to the most dynamic, free-wheeling and innovative platform in history."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the move, "Obamacare for the Internet." FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said, "Is it because we now have evidence that the Internet is broken? No. We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason alone. President Obama told us to do so."

The vote in the FCC itself was effectively party-line, with Democratic-appointees supporting the reclassification move, and Republican-appointees opposing it.

AT&T has already promised legal challenges to the FCC's decision, and other cable and internet providers are likely to follow suit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Three in New York City Arrested for Allegedly Wanting to Conspire with IS

Sketch of two of the defendants in
Credit: Christine Cornell/CNN
Three men, two from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan have been accused of wanting to join the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group, according to the US Department of Justice.

The three men, identified as Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Uzbek; Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, Kazakh; and Abror Habibov, 30, Uzbek. All are being held without bail on charges "of attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization."

These latest string of arrest spark concerns about IS's ability to reach disaffected Muslims around the world, with the latest news of a British teenager becoming a IS recruiter.

IS has continued their terrorist activities, with the the latest being beheadings of Coptic Christian Egyptians in Libya and the murder of a Jordanian pilot by burning him alive.

OPINION: Another View of Robert E. Lee

By Bruce L. Brager

Appomattox Court House

We are just a few weeks from the 150th anniversary of the effective end of the American Civil War, April 9, 2014, when Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of North Virginia to Federal forces under Ulysses S. Grant.  The general mainstream media is almost totally ignoring the anniversary, but the chance it gives us to examine the degree to which we have learned the lessons of the war.
Slavery is gone, never to return, as least in this country. However, in some ways civil rights seems to be moving backwards. In an irony, considering the party which most strongly advocated civil rights, Republicans in their controlled states are making it harder to vote. They claim to be fighting voter fraud, regardless of the fact that virtually no people have voted illegally in recent years. In this country, just under half of Americans do not bother to vote at all. Many Americans don’t care enough to vote early or to vote in elections at all.
Our dear Supreme Court, showing flashes of the perception which gave us the Dred Scott decision, invalidated parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, helping states limit minority voting. I guess we will just have to rely on the Fifteenth Amendment, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,”  
Secession is dead; though counties trying to secede from states seems to be the newest in thing in some western states – such as in Colorado and in California.          
Federal law trumps state law, according to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution found in Article VI, Paragraph 1. Missouri thinks this does not apply to federal gun laws.
Didn’t you think this ended in April 1865? Lee’s surrender at Appomattox ended a nasty and bloody war. For this alone, it is a good thing.  Lee’s surrender at Appomattox also provided an opportunity for true sectional and racial unity, a chance to live up to the promises of the Declaration of Independence. This chance was blown, needing the “Second Reconstruction” of the 1960s to come close. Elizabeth R. Varon’s new book, Appomattox, points out that Robert E. Lee laid the groundwork, probably intentionally, for the century of little progress on giving true freedom to the freed slaves.
I had always wondered why Lee was so admired. He fought against his country – there no better way of putting things. Every indication is that he was not opposed to slavery, or was at least happy to live with the benefits.  He can probably be described as a white racist. But, sadly, this did not make him unique. Lee’s prestige did, however, make him unique.
Lee ended the war being compared favorably to Ulysses S. Grant, forgetting that Lee lost a greater percentage of men under his command than Grant lost of men under his command.  Lee was by most measures a good general, but with an uncertain understanding of the best national strategy for the South. Actively defeating the North was unlikely, but using the Confederacy’s huge territory, larger than the North east of the Mississippi, provided a real chance to hold out until the North grew tired of the war. Lee preferred to attack and to raid the North. He ended up with the strategic defeat at Antietam, and the clear tactical defeat at Gettysburg.
Lee surrendered his army when they were cut off from any direction they could move with any chance of escape. He was outmaneuvered by Grant. His farewell address told his men the army had been crushed by overwhelming numbers; apparently this came as a surprise. The number of 8,000 was accepted as the final combat strength of the Army of Northern Virginia. Of course, Lee asked Grant for 25,000 rations. The claims of overwhelming odds ignored the sizable number of Confederate soldiers killed or taken prisoner at the battles of Five Forks and Sailor’s Creek, when Grant’s forces sliced large chunks off the Confederate Army like one might slice a holiday ham.  I wonder if anyone even knows how many Southerners deserted this lost cause in the last week.
Lee agreed to stop a bloody war that he could no longer win. He discouraged his men from feeling to fight as partisans. He encouraged the other main Confederate armies to surrender. He deserves credit for all of this, probably major credit. However, as wager, as HoHoVaron makes clear, Lee deserves blame for failing to put his prestige behind true racial and social reform in the South. Lee was by no means alone, but he might have done a lot more to earn his reputation as a symbol of national reconciliation.

A review essay on:
Elizabeth  R. Varon
Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War
New York: Oxford University Press 2014

All opinion pieces reflect solely the views of the writer(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of CAB News Online.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Greece Continues to Cause Ambiguity in the Economic World

Victory by the far-left eurosceptic party Syriza has left a shadow
of doubt over the future of the Greek recovery
Fresh off election which put a heavily Eurosceptic, left-wing party into power, Greece is asking for an extension to their bailout program.

Beyond that, the Greek government is also expected to ask for relief from other austerity programs that the country has been forced to undergo because of a large debt and in face of a struggling economy. Greece's creditors are unlikely to honor those requests.

Economist Christian Schulz has this to say about it: "They are proposing to extend the bailout but they want to renegotiate all sorts of things that will go beyond what the EU will allow."

If the Greek bailout program is not extended, the government may very well run out of money.

Wall Street does not see that as a likely event, with the major stock indexes closing up Tuesday and the NASDAQ Index closing up Wednesday, with the S&P and Dow showing only very slight losses.

Greece's economy is still cause for concern as it contracted 0.2% in Q4, and only grew 0.8% in 2014.

UPDATE 2/25/15 7:14 PM EST:
A four month extension has been agreed upon for an extension of the Greek bailout, though some Eurozone finance officials have doubts over Syriza's willingness to execute the agreed upon terms.