Newslinks 01/30/11

January 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Republican-Controlled Congressional Committee Targets United Nations
– Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is holding a hearing Tuesday entitled “The United Nations: Urgent Problems that Need Congressional Action,” featuring some the U.N.’s most outspoken critics. Ros-Lehtinen in 2007 and again in 2009 championed legislation that linked U.S. funding to the U.N. to wide-ranging reforms. Funding of the U.N. is expected to feature prominently at the hearing.

Three SEIU Locals, Including Chicago Chapter, Waived From Obamacare Requirement
– Three local chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)–whose political action committee spent $27 million supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election–have received temporary waivers from a provision in the Obamacare law. The waivers allow health insurance plans to limit how much they will spend on a policy holder’s medical coverage for a given year.

Leaked Negotiation Papers Undermine Palestinian Maneuvering at U.N.
– A Palestinian Authority plan to push for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity was dramatically upstaged Sunday by the embarrassing leak of secret P.A. negotiating records. The documents reveal P.A. positions on key issues – such as the future of Jerusalem and refugees — that differ significantly from the stances it takes publicly.

Share of Fed Income Swallowed by Deficit-Coverage Borrowing Jumps 566% in 3 Years, IRS Reports
– The federal government’s reliance on borrowed money to carry out its functions more than doubled between fiscal year 2008 and 2009, according to the IRS. And between fiscal year 2007 and 2009, borrowing as a percentage of federal income increased by 566 percent.

Rep. Andrews: Feds Should Require Individuals to Buy Health Insurance
– Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) told that the federal government should require individuals to purchase health insurance because currently an uninsured person can go to the emergency room, where their bill is “paid by insured middle class people.” Andrews said he doesn’t think that’s fair. “I think that the individual mandate is really the only effective way to solve that problem.”

Former House Health Subcommittee Chairman: Health Care Costs Will Rise Due to New Law But Slower Than Before
– Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.), the former chairman of the House Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee, told he believes health care costs will increase under President Barack Obama’s health care law but more slowly than they have in the past.

Nearly 50 Million Abortions Have Been Performed in U.S. Since Roe v. Wade Decision Legalized Abortion
– According to the U.S .Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, there were 846,181 abortions in the U.S. in 2006, the latest year for which government records are available. The pro-abortion rights Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that there have been nearly 50 million abortions performed since 1973, — and it says nearly 35 percent of all U.S. women will have had an abortion by age 45.

Pence: ‘A Nation That Will Not Stand For Life Will Not Stand For Long’
– Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) — who appears to have his eye on higher office – told the 38th annual March for Life that pro-lifers “will keep gathering until Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” “You know there can be no lasting prosperity without a moral foundation in law,” Pence told the crowd that braved Washington’s sub-freezing temperatures for Monday’s demonstration.

Perkins: Legalized Abortion Is Unjust, ‘No Question’
– Conservative leader Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), said that there is “no question” that legalized abortion is unjust and that pro-life Americans should work within the legislative process to limit the practice. Abortion, he said, is “counter to the law of God, but we have a means by which we can change that, and I don’t think we have done everything possible yet to change these laws.”

Black Pro-Life Leaders: Santorum ‘Absolutely Right’ to Wonder How Obama Could Support Abortion
– Black pro-life leaders say they agree with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who in an interview with last week, referred to President Obama’s African-American heritage and said he found it “almost remarkable” that the president could be pro-abortion. Santorum noted that, when asked during the 2008 campaign by Pastor Rick Warren “at what point” a baby “gets human rights,” President Obama was wrong to answer “(T)hat is above my pay grade.”

Obama Administration Touts New Tools to Fight Health Care Fraud
– The Obama administration says its efforts to prevent health care fraud are paying off, and it expects to boost those efforts with new rules authorized by the Democrats’ health care law. Republicans also support efforts to reduce health care fraud, and they say such efforts can and should proceed, even if the Democrats’ health care law is repealed.

NOW President: Federal Government Should Run a Deficit to Keep Social Programs
– Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women and Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research are urging the federal government not to cut funding for social programs, despite the government’s mounting debt. “No, we need increases in the social programs and here’s why,” O’Neill said.

E-Verify Remains Susceptible to Identity Fraud, Report Says
– The federal government’s E-Verify program is supposed to determine whether potential employees are eligible to work in the U.S., but the program is still susceptible to identity fraud because it can mistakenly “verify” those who steal or borrow legitimate documents from others, the Government Accountability Office says. GAO pointed out that E-Verify cannot detect when an employer is actually helping an employee skirt the law.

Hezbollah ‘Coup’ Poses New Challenges for U.S., U.N.
– Two months after Israel’s top military officer warned of a potential Hezbollah “coup” in Lebanon, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shi’ite militia is poised to take de facto control of the government in Beirut, without having fired a shot. Some see Iran’s hand behind Lebanon’s latest political turmoil.

Obama’s ‘Investment’ Proposals Remind Republicans of Failed Stimulus Spending
Washington (
– President Barack Obama called for increased spending, or “investments” in infrastructure and alternative energy — part of his “winning the future” theme in Tuesday’s State of the Union speech. But Republicans said such expenditures amount to a second stimulus act. “These investments are basically government expenditures. I don’t think he’s quite gotten the message of the last election,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told

Obama’s Vow to Veto Earmarks Draws Agreement From GOP Lawmakers
Washington (
– “And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this — if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it. I will veto it,” Obama said. Most lawmakers seemed to approve, even though earmarks alone have little impact on the entire federal budget. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said eliminating earmarks is largely a matter of restoring trust in government. 

Santorum: End Medicaid as a Federal Entitlement Program 
– Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) says the second thing the next president should do to deal with the federal debt crisis—after signing legislation to repeal Obamacare—is to end Medicaid as a federal entitlement. Santorum said that giving states block grants to run the program themselves, according to state-based designs, could yield positive benefits similar to those that followed the 1996 welfare reform bill.

Obama Takes a ‘Mend-Not-End’ Approach to New Health Care Law
Washington (
– Republicans want the Senate to vote on a bill repealing the $1 trillion health care law enacted last year, even though President Barack Obama has shown a willingness to work with Republicans to tweak it. 

Bipartisan Effort to Repeal ObamaCare Tax Reporting Provision Moves Ahead in Senate 
– The effort to repeal a widely disliked provision of ObamaCare is gaining steam in the U.S. Senate after a bipartisan coalition of 54 senators introduced a bill to get rid of the mandate that both sides agree will prove burdensome for business. The provision requires businesses to report to the Internal Revenue Service any business-to-business transaction that is valued at more than $600. 

Obama Calls for Tax Increases, Five-Year Spending Freeze in State of Union Address
Washington (
– President Barack Obama’s proposed five-year freeze on the federal budget is not enough to put the nation’s fiscal house in order, Republican lawmakers said, particularly in light of his call for new government spending and eventual tax increases. The president acknowledged the proposed freeze would affect only 12 percent of the federal budget.

First Lady Asks Businesses to Allow Employees to Spend Part of Work Week Mentoring Youth 
– “This is a program calling on businesses of all sizes to allow their employees to mentor, for short periods during the work day, giving kids positive role models and offering employees a way to give back,” First Lady Michelle Obama said Tuesday. She said the new program already has received commitments from leading companies “who have agreed to harness their resources and help us make a difference on a very large scale.” The program will be run by the federal agency tasked with overseeing volunteerism in the United States. 

Women’s Groups: Government Should Focus On Equal Pay, Not Promote Marriage 
– Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, and Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said the federal government should focus on equal pay to achieve economic security for women rather than promoting the institution of marriage between a man and women.

Actor Richard Dreyfuss: ‘I Disapprove of Obama’ 
– Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss says he “disapproves” of President Barack Obama, particularly because he believes Obama has simply carried on the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush. “I think it’s one of the great opportunities lost and one of the great chances of a character in the American story to be much smaller than he might have been,” Dreyfuss said.

Ban Ki-Moon and U.N. Human Rights Council Face Critical Scrutiny
– On the defensive just months before the U.N. Security Council will discuss whether he should serve a second term, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday tried to shore up his human rights credentials, amid growing criticism of his own approach towards human rights as well as the workings of the U.N.’s top human rights body.

Egyptian Protests Look Set to Spread After Violent Clashes
– Protest organizers in Egypt called early Wednesday for a two-day national strike after a day of sometimes violent demonstrations described as the most significant popular challenge to the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” has inspired demonstrations in Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and elsewhere, stoking speculation about a possible “domino effect” across a region where despotic and dynastic rule is the norm. Tuesday’s protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities were the most serious so far. 

Dem Senator: Obama’s Attack on Supreme Court at Last Year’s SOTU May Not Have Been ‘Appropriate’ 
– Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said Tuesday that it may not have been appropriate for President Obama to attack the Supreme Court justices as they sat in front of him at last year’s State of the Union address.

Report: Colorado Churches to Pray for Political Peace Wednesday Night
( – The Rev. Sarah Freeman, vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Central City, began planning the service in October, long before the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson.

Senator Rand Paul: Obama and Democrats ‘Still See Government as a Solution to Everything’
( – President Barack Obama and Democrats “still see government as a solution to everything,” newly elected Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told on Tuesday, after the president gave his State of the Union address to Congress and after Paul had introduced legislation to cut federal spending by $500 billion.

Medicare Official Doubts Health Care Law Savings
( – Two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.

Bachmann Takes Obama to Task over High Unemployment, Obamacare, Gov’t Spending
( – Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday said Obama failed to deliver on his promise to keep unemployment under eight percent by spending a trillion dollars on the federal stimulus program.

Actor Richard Dreyfuss: ‘I Ceased Being a Democrat a While Ago’
( – Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss said he was no longer a Democrat and that he sees little difference between the two main political parties in the United States.

Russia’s Upper House Unanimously OKs New START Treaty
( – The pact was approved by the U.S. Senate last month after Obama pressed strongly for its passage, telephoning a handful of hesitant Republicans to lock in their votes.

CBO Says This Year’s Budget Deficit to Hit a Record $1.5 Trillion
( – The daunting numbers mean that the government will have to borrow 40 cents for every dollar it spends.

‘Skins’ Viewership Plunges for Its Second Airing
( – The viewer slump for the racy new MRV show comes after the Parents Television Council blasted the series’ content and condemned MTV for aiming the show at young people.

New TV Series Will Give Cable News the ‘West Wing’ Treatment
( – In a BBC interview, Aaron Sorkin says he’s written a pilot episode for HBO that takes place behind the scenes at a nightly cable show. The series is being cast.

Watchdog Says Financial Overhaul Won’t End Future Bailouts
( – A government official is preparing to tell lawmakers that the recent overhaul of financial rules has not delivered on its promise to end future bailouts.

Taco Bell Defends Its Mixture of Seasoned Meat
( – Taco Bell President Greg Creed said in a statement that the lawyers who filed the lawsuit got their facts wrong and that Taco Bell plans to take legal action against those making the allegations.

Britain Rolls Back Some 9/11 Security Restrictions
( – Britain on Wednesday overturned unpopular curbs on personal freedoms imposed after the Sept. 11 attacks but stopped short of ending the contentious practice of detaining suspected terrorists without trial.

Germany Suspends Payments to Global Health Fund
( – Germany’s development ministry said Wednesday it will halt all payments to a $21.7 billion global health fund until it gets answers about corruption allegations raised in articles by The Associated Press.

Lebanon’s Western-Backed Faction Urges Sit-ins Against Hezbollah
( – Fares Soeid, a senior official with the Western-backed coalition known as March 14, said the country is becoming entirely beholden to Hezbollah. He called on Lebanese to gather peacefully every evening, holding Lebanese flags, at Martyrs Square in downtown Beirut.

Former Chilean President Raising Funds for U.N. Agency on Gender Equality
( – The World Economic Forum will be an international coming-out party for former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, and the kick start of her campaign to raise $500 million over two years for UN Women, created by the General Assembly last year when it pulled together four existing U.N. bodies dealing with women’s advancement under a single umbrella.

Blackwater Lawsuit Tossed Seven Years After Contractors’ Grisly Deaths in Iraq
( – U.S. District Judge James C. Fox said court-ordered arbitration fell apart because neither side was paying the costs of that process, so he decided to shut the case nearly seven years after the killings.

Republicans Back at Work Cutting Spending
( – On Tuesday, hours before President Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Republicans went on record in favor of reducing most domestic programs to levels in place when Obama took office, and 17 Democrats joined them.

Congress Will Probe Special Exemptions to Health-Care Law Given to Select Unions and Businesses, Says Republican Senator 
Washington (
– The Obama administration’s waivers to temporarily exempt certain companies, unions, and charities from rules established by the new health care law are a “perfect example of special interests” having influence in the administration and should be investigated, a leading Republican lawmaker said on Tuesda

CBO: Social Security to Run $45 Billion Deficit in 2011 
– To pay benefits, Social Security will need $45 billion more than it will collect in payroll taxes this year, and $547 billion more over the next decade, according to a review released by the Congressional Budget Office.

Boehner Introduces Bill to Restore D.C. Voucher Program Cut by Obama Administration 
– House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Wednesday announced they have introduced legislation to restore the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that the Obama administration eliminated in 2009. Boehner and Lieberman’s SOAR Act would authorize scholarships of up to $8,000 a year for elementary school students and up to $12,000 for high school students. 

Rep. West Hopes Obama’s References to ‘Investment’ Are Not ‘A Synonym’ For ‘Government Spending’ 
– Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) told that he hopes President Obama’s references to “investment” during the State of the Union speech were not a synonym” for “government spending.”

Obama Does Not Mention ‘Islam’ in State of the Union Speech 
– President Barack Obama in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday did not use the word ‘Islam,’ and the only reference to terrorism was as it relates to nuclear weapons, which he called “the worst weapons of war.” Obama did use the word “Muslim(s)” twice, once to describe Americans and again in reference to U.S. troops.

Actor Richard Dreyfuss: ‘If There’s a God,’ Politically Uncivil Guys ‘Are in Trouble’ 
– People who are uncivil in their political discourse by bullying, interrupting, or patronizing the people they are interviewing “are in trouble” if “there’s a God” and if “he’s morally involved in our affairs,” the actor told

Obama Administration Cautiously Shifts Its Stance on Egypt’s Upheaval
– Signaling a slight shift in its public approach to the unrest in Egypt, the Obama administration has begun to gently prod President Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic government, a longstanding U.S. ally, towards reform. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton encouraged the government Wednesday to “respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people,” although without specifically calling for free elections. She spoke more cautiously on Tuesday.

U.S. Ties With Vietnam Strengthen Despite Communist Nation’s Crackdown on Dissidents
– The lengthy prison term given to a Vietnamese democracy campaigner Wednesday is the second incident in three weeks to raise questions about the communist government’s commitment to democratic reform and free expression. Human rights groups say dozens of Vietnamese democracy advocates and bloggers, anti-corruption campaigners and rights defenders have been targeted in a crackdown that worsened over the last year, even as Hanoi’s relationship with Washington continued to strengthen.

Iranian Media Hail Egypt ‘Revolution’
– Iranian media outlets, especially those linked to the government and establishment, are using terms like “revolution” and “uprising” to describe the protests in Egypt, painting the demonstrators as heroic and giving headline treatment to voices predicting the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak. Sunni Egypt, viewed as the leader of the Arab world, and Shi’ite Iran are longstanding rivals.

Teen Dating Violence Is A ‘Cabinet-Level Priority,’ Attorney General Holder Says
– Stemming teen dating violence and safeguarding children is a “Cabinet-level priority” of the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder told a gathering at the Justice Department on Friday. He said “approximately 10 percent of adolescents nationwide report being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.”

Sen. Franken Explains Why He Thinks Obamacare Mandate to Buy Insurance Is Needed
– At a Senate hearing on the new health care law on Thursday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said the individual mandate in the law requiring people to purchase health insurance is necessary to prevent Americans from waiting until they are sick to buy insurance. Franken said he thinks most Americans support the part of the law that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

Sebelius Testifies That Obamacare Is Helping ‘Young Adults’ Consider Entrepreneurship
– Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a Senate Committee Thursday that a provision in the new health care law allowing individuals to be included on their parent’s insurance policy until they are 26 is allowing more of those individuals to consider becoming an entrepreneur. She called it a “family strategy.”

Medicare Chief Berwick Dodges Whether Obamcare Redistributes Wealth, Which He Had Praised in Britain’s Health System
Washington (
– Donald Berwick, President Obama’s recess-appointed Medicare chief, praised the new health care law in a speech on Thursday. But he declined to say if it redistributed wealth from the rich to the poor, as he has previously said a “just” and “equitable” health care funding plan must do.

Browner Resignation, Obama Omission Could Spell the End of Global Warming Policy, Say Climate Change Analysts
– The abrupt resignation of Carol Browner, President Barack Obama’s global warming czar, and Obama’s omission of global warming from his State of the Union speech on Tuesday indicates that the White House has given up on global warming, according to climate change analysts.

Rep. Bachmann Targets 132 Regulations, Costing at Least $13.2 Billion, Created in First 2 Years of Obama Administration
– If President Barack Obama means what he said about making regulatory reform part of his agenda, he should start by undoing the 132 regulations implemented in the first two years of his presidency, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said in her post-State of the Union speech.

Freshman GOP Reps. Decline to Name Specific Cabinet Agencies They Would Consolidate or Dissolve
– When reacting to President Obama’s vow to “develop a proposal to merge, consolidate and reorganize the federal government” during his State of the Union address, two Republican representatives declined to mention any specific cabinet agencies they would merge or dissolve.

TARP Watchdog Casts Doubt on Financial ‘Reform’ Law’s Promise to End Bailouts
– The use of TARP funds to provide a safety net for “too big to fail” institutions is a “recipe for disaster” that can lead to more bailouts, according to a report by the TARP inspector general. In the report, Special Inspector General for TARP Neil Barofsky also blasted Obama’s Home Assistance Modification Program, which as previously reported has not achieved its intended purpose of bringing down foreclosure rates by helping struggling homeowners

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