HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pleased to announce the formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  The announcement took place at an event at HHS headquarters from 10:30 a.m. to noon on January 18, 2018, see below video.

Speakers included Acting Secretary Eric D. Hargan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Representative Vicky Hartzler, Senator James Lankford, OCR Director Roger Severino, and special guests.

The Conscience and Religious Freedom Division has been established to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom.  OCR is the law enforcement agency within HHS that enforces federal laws protecting civil rights and conscience in health and human services, and the security and privacy of people’s health information.  The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights.

OCR already has enforcement authority over federal conscience protection statutes, such as the Church, Coats-Snowe, and Weldon Amendments; Section 1553 of the Affordable Care Act (on assisted suicide); and certain federal nondiscrimination laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion in a variety of HHS programs.

OCR Director Severino said,

“Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced. No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice. For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now.”

Acting HHS Secretary Hargan said,

“President Trump promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom.  That promise is being kept today. The Founding Fathers knew that a nation that respects conscience rights is more diverse and more free, and OCR’s new division will help make that vision a reality.”

To learn more about the new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, visit us at www.hhs.gov/conscience.

To file a complaint with OCR based on a violation of civil rights, conscience or religious freedom, or health information privacy, visit us at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints.

What Russian immigrants can teach us about Jewish identity

Russian Jews know from personal experience that leftist ideology leads to totalitarian dictatorship, suppression of individual freedoms, and denial of personal autonomy.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was criticized a few months ago for opining that American Jews live “comfortable” lives and don’t know what it’s like to live under constant threat of attack, though she also acknowledged the continuing bond between them and their Israeli cousins.

While mainstream liberals took offense, they could not dispute the substance of her comments.  It seems progressive Jews are always offended when moderate, conservative, or right-wing Israelis (i.e., much of the Israeli electorate) have the temerity to chastise those whose politics threaten Israel’s safety, security, and continuity as a Jewish state.  It’s easy to criticize Israel from the comfort of North America for those who define religious and ethnic identity not by Jewish values and history, but by allegiance to a political worldview that devalues both.

Though Hotovely’s words were taken somewhat out of context, the truth is many American Jews are indeed naïve – especially those who believe Israel should conform to a political vision that characterizes her as an occupier, demeans the Jewish spirit, and belittles traditional Judaism.  To the extent her words offended those who support an agenda that undermines Israel and empowers her enemies, they were words that needed to be spoken and should be repeated often.  No longer should the mainstream blindly vouch for the religious and cultural integrity of the Jewish left, or of nontraditional clergy who find common cause with BDS advocates and Islamist front organizations.

Much of the non-Orthodox establishment seems to care more about secular political values than traditional Jewish ones, and its support for Israel is often apologetic or conditioned on her presumed acceptance of liberal ideals. Too often, progressive organizations provide forums for left-wing ideologues and unbalanced critics who disparage the Jewish State and traditional Judaism, while denying equal time to pro-Israel advocates and political conservatives.  This dynamic frequently plays out in college and universities where liberal campus leaders often show greater concern about the hypothetical risk of Islamophobia than the very real incidence of progressive anti-Semitism, and frequently condemn Israeli policies while ignoring Islamist rejectionism.


There is nothing inherently Jewish about political values that encourage assimilation and undercut Jewish observance and national integrity.

That’s why it’s refreshing to see organizations like the Russian Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Boston thriving and celebrating Jewish identity.  In some ways, the RJCF is like thelandsmanschaften associations of the early twentieth century that provided communal support to Jewish immigrants who came from the shtetls of Eastern Europe.  The RJCF’s core membership hails from the former Soviet Union, where seventy years of Jewish suffering under the yoke of Communism instilled a survival mentality and loyalty to heritage.  Instead of facilitating assimilation, the experience of Russian Jews as a persecuted minority seems to have fostered a commitment to identity, devotion to democratic ideals, and passion for the Jewish State.

The RJCF’s ardor for Israel was on full display at its recent, annual end-of-the-year Gala, where the theme was “United with Jerusalem” in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the reunification of the ancient Jewish capital.  The keynote address was delivered by retired Lt. Colonel and former U.S. Representative Allen West, and the honoree for RJCF’s Jewish Advocacy Award was Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, who was recognized for his work on behalf of Israel and the international free speech movement.

The choices of Colonel West and Rabbi Hausman reflected the RJCF’s assertive commitment to Israel and to the free speech that is so essential for protecting democratic ideals and preserving Jewish identity in America.  Though both gentlemen have been attacked for their stances on radical Islam by progressive groups ambivalent or hostile towards Israel and traditional Judaism, and despite whisperings from some corners of the community that attendance would be hampered by their participation, the Gala’s organizers were resolute in choosing them as speaker and honoree.  And this resolve was rewarded by a tremendous turnout and enthusiastic audience response when the Colonel and Rabbi spoke.

The RJCF’s President, Alex Koifman, set the tone in his opening remarks by noting how Jews from the former Soviet Union strongly identify with Jerusalem’s reunification and draw strength and inspiration from Israel’s assertion of sovereignty over her ancient capital.  He also observed how bias against Israel and hatred of Jews is on the rise globally, and that the RJCF is committed to combatting both.  Because of their unique history and experience, it seems Russian Jews are particularly sensitive to the dangers of anti-Semitic hate speech and the need to confront it proactively.

These sentiments were echoed by Colonel West, who emphasized the importance of teaching and learning Jewish history – from Torah times to the present – and of understanding that the Jews’ presence in Israel is part of an unbroken historical continuum, while Palestinian claims have no history to back them up.  Organizations like the RJCF are important because they affirm Jewish history and the symbiotic relationship between the United States and Israel, he said, noting that Russian Jews know from personal experience that leftist ideology leads to totalitarian dictatorship, suppression of individual freedoms, and denial of personal autonomy.

Colonel West also emphasized the need to strengthen the American-Israeli relationship and undo the damage caused by the failed policies of the Obama administration, which gave billions of dollars to an Iranian regime sworn to exterminating Israel and bestowed moral legitimacy on the anti-Semitic BDS movement.  It’s up to the Trump administration to acknowledge the historical legitimacy of the Jewish State and influence other governments to do the same.  “There can be no peace in the Middle East without recognition of who [the Jews] are, and until Europe and the Arab nations stop shunning Israel,” he said.  This vision is not simply good politics, said West, but represents the fulfillment of the words spoken to Avraham by G-d in Sefer Breishit (Genesis).  “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.” (Parshah Lech-Lecha, Breishit, 12:3.)

In his remarks, Rabbi Hausman emphasized the Jewish tradition of debate, discussion and intellectual inquisitiveness, and that Jews thrive in societies that cherish free speech and critical discourse.  Freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas were once hallmarks of liberal democracy, but have come under attack in recent years by those who simply cannot tolerate disagreement and dissent, he said.  Though progressives claim to be the standard bearers of liberal ideals, they have turned their backs on classical liberalism, which in earlier generations had treasured critical thought and the interplay of opposing viewpoints.  “Societies where discussion becomes impossible are susceptible to totalitarianism, and nobody knows this better than Jews from the former Soviet Union,” Rabbi Hausman said to applause from the audience, noting further that such societies “are not conducive to the safety and security of the Jewish People or the State of Israel.”

Rabbi Hausman’s remarks gave perspective as to why Hotovely’s comments rankled liberals, especially those who tolerate or enable leftist totalitarianism, progressive anti-Semitism, and Islamist excess.  She clearly unnerved those whose political ideals are fundamentally incompatible with authentic Jewish values, but who nevertheless strain to claim consistency with Jewish tradition.  In redefining their identity according to politics that contravene Jewish religious and cultural continuity, liberal “social warriors” have lost the tools necessary for Jewish survival, and have politically aligned themselves – wittingly or not – with leftists who promote assimilation and Islamists who seek to eradicate Israel.

If the RJCF’s constituency is any indication, the Russian Jewish community has no tolerance for such religious and cultural suicide, as evidenced by its strong support for Israel in terms of both dollars and personal commitment.  Russian Jewish immigrants are extremely patriotic to the US and Israel, and they see more of their children serving as lone soldiers in the IDF than does the liberal mainstream.  Indeed, many lone soldiers from this community have parents who served before them – in sharp contrast to those progressives who disparage Israel and who shamefully condemned President Trump’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

One gets the sense that the RJCF’s members might stop identifying as Russian after a generation or two, but will never cease being Jewish.  For them, “Russian” is the adjective that describes where they or their parents were born, but “Jew” is the noun that defines their essence.  If they were to cease identifying as Russian, they would still be Jewish because of their self-awareness and historical connectedness.  In contrast, American progressives who lose their political faith are deprived of the only thing by which they define Jewishness.  Take away their liberalism, and you take away their validation as Jews.  The irony, of course, is that there is nothing inherently Jewish about political values that encourage assimilation and undercut Jewish observance and national integrity.

And this is something that the RJCF’s members understand – as do emigres from any society in which Jews have suffered persecution.  Those who must fight to maintain their religious and cultural identity have a similar mentality to Israelis who fight not only for their own survival, but for that of the Jewish People.  They know that Jewish continuity depends on loyalty to history and tradition, which is a lesson that many American Jews have either forgotten or never learned in the first place.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Israel National News.

Burdened by Debt: The Best and Worst States at Managing Debt

How does your state rank in terms of debt management? A new study by Credible exposes where people are best (and worst) at managing their credit card bills, student loan debt, and housing costs.

Read on to see how your financial profile compares to the average person in your state—and across state borders.

Key highlights

  • Michigan, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri have the highest scores in the U.S., with low debt-to-income ratios: on average, Michigan residents in this dataset spent just 25.3% of their monthly income on credit card, student loan, and housing payments—the lowest percentage in the U.S.
  • Hawaii, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Montana came in towards the bottom of the list with the highest average debt-to-income ratios: Residents of Hawaii spend, on average, 36.2% of their monthly paychecks on credit card, student loan, and housing payments—the highest percentage in the nation, and over 43% more than residents of Michigan
  • Monthly credit card payments were highest in Minnesota ($241/month), Hawaii ($238), Nevada ($234), New Jersey ($231), and Connecticut ($231)
  • Conversely, those in Mississippi ($154), Louisiana ($157), Washington, D.C. ($160), Arkansas ($174), and South Carolina ($181) spend the least on paying off credit card debt
  • The data showed average student loan payments to be highest in D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, Alaska, and New Jersey, and lowest in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Wyoming, and North Dakota

Map: debt and income by state

Toggle through the menu below to see the overall score, average monthly credit card, student loan, and mortgage payments, and average annual income for each state.

Financial health is relative

On average, Americans included in this dataset paid $207 on their credit card debt, $370 on their student loans, and $906 on their housing each month, while taking home an average salary of $60,671.

But what’s the special sauce that makes some states’ residents so much better at debt management than others?

Well, it depends.

In Michigan, for example, cost of living plays a large role. Low average monthly housing payments relative to average income (combined with lower than average credit card and student loan payments) push the state up the rankings.

At the other end of the spectrum, some states rank lower because of particularly high payments made in one category or another.

Residents of Hawaii, for example, pay the second highest amount on monthly credit card bills and fourth highest amount on housing costs and their average income isn’t high enough to offset those costs.

$207

Average monthly credit card payment of all Americans included in this dataset

$370

Average monthly student loan payment of all Americans included in this dataset

$906

Average monthly housing payment of all Americans included in this dataset

One in five borrowers is a homeowner

Mortgage debt can increase a resident’s debt-to-income ratio. The vast majority of the 540,000 borrowers included in this analysis are not homeowners but nearly 19% have one or more mortgages.

Of that group, the average housing payment increases to $1,705, nearly double the average housing payment for all borrowers, a group that includes renters, homeowners, and people living with parents.

You are not your state

While this new ranking sheds light on how residents of various states perform in terms of debt management, keep in mind that these are average numbers — and that your debt is a personal matter.

No matter how your state ranks, find a debt payoff plan that fits your budget and lifestyle, as well as minimizes what you’ll owe in interest as you pay off each loan.

For example, balance transfer credit cards can be useful to begin paying off your credit card debt. These cards will often offer you six to 18 months of 0% APR for balance transfers, giving you some time to get your finances in order without accruing a ton of interest. If paying off credit card debt is one of your goals, Credible can help you find the best balance transfer credit cards of 2018.

Methodology

We used proprietary data from over 540,000 borrowers with student loan debt from all 50 U.S. states and D.C. to calculate average monthly credit card, student loan, and housing payments as a percentage of average monthly income. Therefore, the debt-to-income ratio we used to rank all states included credit card debt, student loan debt, and housing costs (such as rent or mortgage payments).

That percentage was then assigned a normalized score from 0-100 for each state, 0 being where debt payments are the highest percentage of monthly income, and 100 being where monthly payments are the lowest percentage of monthly income.

Full rankings and data

Overlooked in the Immigration Debate: Gender-based Violence

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security released a report this week showing that 3 out of 4 individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2016, are foreign-born individuals who entered the United States through our immigration system.

Recent reports from DOJ and DHS also draw attention to an issue often lost in the immigration debate: gender-based violence.

  • A 2011 Government Accountability Office report found that criminal aliens were convicted of 69,929 sex offenses between fiscal years 2003 and 2009.
  • A 2014 study estimated that approximately 1,500 forced marriages occur in the U.S. every year.
  • That same 2014 study showed there to be an average of 23 to 27 honor killings in America each year—with 90 percent of victims murdered for being “too westernized.”

Numbers like these show that regardless of political affiliation, all Americans should want an immigration system that supports and defends our values.

Read more about how our current immigration system jeopardizes American security.

Six Convicted Felons Are Running for the U.S. Congress in 2018

There is no law that prevents a convicted felon from running for the U.S. Congress. Six convicted felons are running during the 2018 midterm elections, two for the U.S. Senate and four for the U.S. House of Representatives. Four are Republicans and two are Democrats.

They are in alphabetical order:

  1. Democrat candidate David Alcorn who was convicted of stalking. Alcorn is one of nine candidates for the Democratic Party’s nomination in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.
  2. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio who is running in the Republican primary the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona. Then Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt of court in July 2017 for defying a court order requiring him to stop detaining people he suspected of being illegal aliens. President Donald Trump pardoned him one month later.
  3. Don Blankenship, the former head of the coal mining company Massey Energy who is running in the Republican primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Blankenship served one year in prison on a misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to evade safety laws after the death of 29 miners at his Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010.
  4. Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) is running for re-election. Gianforte plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting a reporter in 2017.
  5. Former Rep. Michael Grimm, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.) Grimm is a former FBI agent who pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion in 2014.
  6. Bradley Edward (Chelsea) Manning who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013, of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents. Manning’s sentence was communted by former President Barack Obama in 2016. Manning is running in the Democratic primary in Maryland for the U.S. Senate.

Perhaps the two most interesting candidates are Republican Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Democrat Bradley Edward (Chelsea) Manning.

Both have something in common. Both are convicted felons and both have been pardoned by a U.S. President. Control of the U.S. Senate is critical to furthering any president’s agenda. President Trump has taken strong positions on rebuilding the military, border security, immigration and growing the economy by reducing taxes and regulations.

It is clear that the Democratic Party is not and will not help further President Trump’s agenda of making America great, again.

The Family Research Council in an article titled “Chelsea Manning: The Voice of Treason” notes:

Chelsea Manning had a chance to serve his country — and betrayed it. Now he wants to serve in the U.S. Senate. The former Army private-turned-transgender-activist stunned everyone this week by announcing a run for elected office, one year after he was pardoned for treason. Welcome to the new Democratic Party.

For most people, the idea would be outrageous even if Manning weren’t sure which gender to identify with. This is, after all, a man who was convicted of war crimes against the very country he’s running to represent. “All Manning would have to do,” a Fox News commentator pointed out, “is swear another meaningless oath and promise to obey it this time to once again gain access to our national security secrets, which [he] could leak again if [he] wished. That should fill you with confidence.”

Read more.

In a Huffington Post column titled “Republicans Have 4 Convicted Criminals Running For Congress In 2018” Paul Blumenthal notes:

When Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff, announced his Senate candidacy on Tuesday, he became the fourth viable Republican 2018 congressional candidate who’s been convicted of a crime. And like two of the other GOP cons running for office, he has cited his criminal record as a partial justification for his candidacy.

Arpaio was convicted of misdemeanor criminal contempt of court in July 2017 for defying a court order requiring him to stop illegally detaining people he suspected of being undocumented immigrants based on their race. President Donald Trump pardoned him one month later.

The midterm elections will be notable is many different ways, the idea of convicted felons running is just one more anomaly.

This reminds us of the Capitol One commercial. What’s in your Congress?

For Planned Parenthood, Abortion Is a Black and White Issue

Plenty of movements have tried to hitch their wagon to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For years, people across the political spectrum have claimed him as one of their own — in part because it’s convenient and in part because he isn’t here to dispute it. But no cause is more antithetical to King’s than Planned Parenthood’s. And yesterday, when the group founded by an open racist tried to suggest otherwise, we weren’t the only ones who noticed.People across the social media spectrum lashed out at Cecile Richards’s group for daring to suggest that they were carrying on King’s vision.

The idea that Dr. King would have stood by — let alone embraced — Margaret Sanger’s legacy is outrageous. Yet still, @PPact had the audacity to tweet:

“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dedicated his life to the idea that racial and economic justice are foundational to our democracy. Today we honor his courageous vision and radical action — and commit to furthering his dream by continuing the fight for justice.”

If you know anything about Planned Parenthood, you know that it was built on the back of Sanger’s eugenics.

Years later, her legacy lives on in the group’s business model, which intentionally preys on minority women. How do we know that? Simple: the majority of Planned Parenthood’s facilities have been built in urban areas within walking distance of African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods. And that’s no coincidence. Richards knows better than anyone that black babies are aborted at a rate five times higher than white babies. So while she likes to say “black lives matter,” she’s not telling the whole story. They matter because it’s a part of her business model.

Despite making up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, the CDC’s 2016 report points out, black babies made up a whopping 35 percent of the total abortions reported in 2013. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood, the group that profits most from that statistic, continues its scam as a defender of African Americans.

“Please tell us more about how you’re honoring his courageous vision,” one of many pro-lifers fired back. “Are you going to plant yet abortion clinic in a black neighborhood or something?” Alexandra DeSanctis piled on. “Your group was founded by a eugenics enthusiast who peddled birth control in black and impoverished neighborhoods “Today, more black babies are aborted than born alive in NYC, your headquarters. You have no business coopting MLK to push your propaganda.” Alexandra is right. With just a 40 percent survival rate, the womb is one of the most dangerous places for New York City’s African-Americans. Yet Planned Parenthood will cover up that statistic with the same proficiency that it’s covered up years of abuse, organ trafficking, partial-birth abortions, fraud, and countless other crimes against humanity.

The only connection Richards’s group has to MLK is its butchering of the basic civil rights for which Dr. King died.

“It’s not so much about labels — liberal, conservative and all of that,” his niece Alveda has said. “But he was someone who lived and gave his life to help all humanity. And so that definitely would include conception until natural death.” As she told reporters last December, “Martin Luther King Jr. never accepted the agenda of Planned Parenthood. They lie… They put their abortion mills on or near streets that are named after Martin Luther King, and they want to attach that to the civil rights movement of the 20th century — but it doesn’t belong.”


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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PODCAST: Why the March for Life Matters

Susan B. Anthony List’s Mallory Quigley joins us to discuss pro-life priorities in 2018, and why the March for Life, happening this Friday and featuring a live video from President Donald Trump, matters. Plus: a fashion designer’s flirtation with skirts for men, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., compares Trump to Josef Stalin.

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Katrina Trinko is managing editor of The Daily Signal and a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Send an email to Katrina. Twitter: @KatrinaTrinko.

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Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is the commentary editor of The Daily Signal. Twitter: @JDaniel_Davis.

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3 Out of 4 Convicted Terrorists Came to U.S. Legally Via Current Immigration System

Illustrating the national security threats created by the nation’s immigration system, the overwhelming majority of individuals convicted of terrorism are foreigners who entered the United States legally through various federal programs. Three out of every four convicted terrorists between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2016 are foreign born and came to the United States through our immigration system, according to a new report issued jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

At least 549 individuals were convicted of terrorism-related charges in American federal courts since 2001 and 402 of them—approximately 73%–were foreign-born, the report says. Here’s the breakdown by citizenship at the time of their convictions; 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 were naturalized and received American citizenship and 147 were U.S. born. Additionally, 1,716 foreigners with national security concerns were removed from the United States. The Trump administration stresses that figures include only those aliens who were convicted or removed and therefore do not represent the total measure of foreign terrorist infiltration of the United States. Statistics on individuals facing terrorism charges who have not yet been convicted will be provided in follow-up reports that will be made available to the public.

This DHS/DOJ report, issued this month, is disturbing enough and reveals that a significant number of terrorists entered the country through immigration programs that use family ties and extended-family chain migration as a basis for entry. Among them is Mufid Elfgeeh, a national of Yemen who benefitted from chain migration in 1997 and was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for attempting to recruit fighters for ISIS. Sudanese Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan came to the U.S. in 2012 as a relative of a lawful permanent resident and eventually pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Pakistani Uzair Paracha was admitted to the U.S. in 1980 as a family member of a lawful permanent resident and in 2006 was sentenced to more than three decades in prison for providing material support to Al Qaeda. Khaleel Ahmed, a national of India, was admitted to the United States in 1998 as a family member of a naturalized United States citizen. Ahmed eventually became an American citizen and in 2010 was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Other convicted terrorists came to the U.S. through the controversial visa lottery program, the multi-agency probe found. Among them is Abdurasaul Hasanovich Juraboev, a national of Uzbekistan who was admitted into the country as a diversity visa lottery recipient in 2011. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to support ISIS and in 2017 Juraboev was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Sudanese Ali Shukri Amin was admitted to the U.S. in 1999 as the child of a diversity visa lottery recipient and subsequently obtained American citizenship through naturalization. In 2015, he was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Amin admitted to using social media to provide advice and encouragement to ISIS and its supporters and facilitated ISIS supporters seeking to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group. Amin also helped a Virginia teen named Reza Niknejad get to Syria to join ISIS in 2015.

“The United States faces a serious and persistent terror threat, and individuals with ties to terror can and will use any pathway to enter our country,” the new DHS/DOJ report states. “Accordingly, DHS has taken significant steps to improve the security of all potential routes used by known or suspected terrorists (KST) to travel to the United States to ensure that individuals who would do harm to Americans are identified and detected, and their plots are disrupted. These figures reflect the challenges faced by the United States and demonstrate the necessity to remain vigilant and proactive in our counterterrorism posture.”

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Whatfinger News: What the Drudge Report Was Meant to Be

In this anti-establishment age, people are increasingly moving toward anti-establishment news sources. Many good examples exist, but as far as news aggregators go, one stands out: Whatfinger News (Whatfinger.com).

That’s right, not the Drudge Report. That titan of news-aggregator traffic loses out because of an area in which it may be without peer: providing eyeballs for left-wing websites. More on that momentarily.

It’s not hard to put your finger on what makes Whatfinger stand out: much more news, more conservative news and better views. Whatfinger is well organized and above-board, presenting headline news from various sources, categories for right-wing and left-wing outlets (with the latter far smaller!), and a prominent video section.

Most of Whatfingers’ readers are ex-Drudge fans alienated from Drudge due to perceived establishment bias. And its web traffic levels reflect the anti-establishment wave. SimilarWeb shows Whatfinger’s “numbers at 1.63M in the traditionally slow month of December while back in August they were pulling in about 400K hits. That’s a pretty fast-paced build in the Sabermetrics of digital publishing,” reports Liberty Nation.

Speaking of a liberty nation, Drudge just doesn’t seem to be doing much to help us maintain that status. Let’s first understand that, as they may teach in journalism school, everyone and every entity have a bias. Note that unlike a “prejudice,” a bias doesn’t have to be negative by definition. What really matters is whether you’re biased in favor of the Truth — or a lie.

Unfortunately, too many of Drudge’s sources have a very definite leftist bias; this is not mere perception, either. As Liberty Nation also informs, reporting on a 2015 study:

The Drudge Report is Numero Uno for referring traffic primarily to the rogue’s gallery of narrative-driven left-wing media outlets like CNN, the New York Times, and The Washington Post. As a conservative who’s now well versed in the power and money that traffic gives these outlets, one must ask[:] What’s up with that? Why is such a robust website on the right driving so much traffic to the left? Don’t these legacy properties [that] perform palace guard functions for the establishment already have enough influence and power to get there on their own? Do conservatives need to be giving them a helping hand?

Note that traffic is a website’s lifeblood, equating to influence and income. Feed the beast, and the beast grows. Wither on the vine the knights trying to slay the dragon, the knights get slain. We conservatives already have to deal with Twitter’s shadowbanning, Facebook’s censors and Google’s blacklists. Et tu, Drudge?

Perhaps Drudge’s failure is explained by O’Sullivan’s First Law: “Any institution that is not explicitly right wing will become left wing over time.” A more precise way of putting it, however, is that any institution not rooted to ageless principles will bend to the age’s preferences.

Matt Drudge, the eponymous founder of the Drudge Report, has embraced the label “conservative.” Sadly, however, he too often seems to be conserving the legacy media’s power.

As to power, Drudge is still where it lies in the news-aggregator business. But if Drudge is the aging heavyweight champ, Whatfinger is the younger, more vibrant up-and-coming contender who only needs a title shot to hoist the belt. I hope it gets it, too, because the current media status quo has conservatives heading for a knockout.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

RELATED ARTICLE: Whatfinger is a Drudge Alternative for the New Year

Connecting the Dots: How the Latest Affordable Housing Policy Benefits Homeowners and Realtors, not First-time Buyers

Tobias Peter, senior research analyst at the AEI Center on Housing Markets and Finance, wrote the following blog post: Connecting the Dots: How the Latest Affordable Housing Policy Benefits Homeowners and Realtors, not First-time Buyers.

In it he explains how “another government housing policy intended to open “the door to home purchase mortgages for large numbers of new buyers” has failed.  Instead of bringing income-constrained borrowers into the market, it making housing less affordable by adding more fuel to a national house price boom that is pricing them out of the market, while providing a windfall to home sellers and real estate agents.”


Connecting the Dots: How the Latest Affordable Housing Policy Benefits Homeowners and Realtors, not First-time Buyers

Tobias Peter (Tobias.Peter@AEI.org), Senior Research Analyst

AEI’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance

January 16, 2018

The numbers are in and yet another government housing policy intended to open “the door to home purchase mortgages for large numbers of new buyers” has failed.  Instead of bringing income-constrained borrowers into the market, it is making housing less affordable by adding more fuel to a national house price boom that is pricing them out of the market, while providing a windfall to home sellers and real estate agents.

Let’s connect the dots.  As of the weekend of July 29, 2017, Fannie Mae, one of the two government sponsored housing enterprises (GSE), started buying and securitizing many more mortgages with a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of up to 50 percent.  The DTI measures the ratio of monthly payments to income.  The higher the ratio, the greater a borrower’s monthly debt payments and the greater a borrower’s likelihood to default.

Prior to the policy change, the large majority of Fannie borrowers were limited to a DTI of 45 percent, with only a few borrowers allowed to go as high as 50 percent with compensating factors such as a certain number of months of cash reserves or a higher down payment.  Fannie’s move thereby allowed borrowers to take on more debt relative to their income.  Freddie Mac, the other GSE, had been buying more mortgages with DTIs over 45 percent than Fannie, but it too ramped up its purchases after Fannie’s announcement as data from the AEI National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI) show.

Sensing an opening for income-constrained borrowers to now enter the housing market, housing advocates hailed Fannie’s move as a “win for expanding access to credit.”  Yet this line of reasoning was always flawed.  Access for income-constrained borrowers already existed.  The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), another government housing entity, already guarantees loans with a DTI up to 57 percent and with less stringent credit score and down payment requirements than Fannie or Freddie ever would.  By offering this service at a lower cost to certain borrowers, Fannie’s (and Freddie’s) move thereby pitted one government guaranteed insurer of mortgages against another.

The effect of the change has been stunning since it took effect.  First, the share of Fannie borrowers with a DTI above 45 jumped 11 percentage points to 17 percent within just three months after the program’s implementation.  Yet precious few of these borrowers were new market entrants while the large majority were Fannie borrowers taking on more debt.

This is problematic.  In today’s seller’s market, prices have been rising rapidly.  The measures from a variety of sources all show prices rising 6 to 7 percent over the past year, and as much as 10 percent for entry-level homes.  DTIs function as a friction slowing the increase of house prices through binding limits.  Remove the friction and house price increases will pick up.  This happens the following way: First, income-constrained borrowers take advantage of the higher limits, as they initially no longer have to settle for lower priced homes.  Then, because supply is limited, the extra debt ends up raising prices – either directly through more aggressive bidding for houses or indirectly through appraisals when inflated home sales become comparables for other sales as our research shows.  Soon, the cycle feeds on itself and everyone, not just income-constrained borrowers, has to take on more debt.  This is exactly what happened as the NMRI data also show (see chart).

What is driving up prices so rapidly today is the combination of a seller’s market, which is now in its 63rd month, and more liberal access to credit through, for example higher DTI limits, or generally looser lending standards as documented by the NMRI.  Since 2012, national house prices have risen by around 50 percent as shown by the Case-Shiller index, but in the bottom tier of the market, where supply is more constrained and credit more liberal, prices have doubled.

And so, what started as a policy change by Fannie Mae to close the growing affordability gap has added yet more fuel to the house price boom, especially at the lower end of the market.  Thereby this policy will benefit existing homeowners, realtors, and builders, but it will hurt first-time buyers and those with limited resources as they will have to stretch further to afford homeownership or be forced to remain on the sidelines.

164 Companies Credit Tax Reform for Bonuses and Pay Raises

One hundred sixty-four companies have gone on record stating they gave bonuses and pay raises to employees because of the new tax reform law, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

The list has been continually updated and jumped from 40 companies to 164 in 10 days, the Washington Examiner reports.

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The businesses include American Airlines, AT&T, prominent banks and savings and loans, Boeing, Comcast, Pacific Power, and Visa.

The list shows what each company paid in bonuses and includes attached statements or press releases, saying tax reform was the catalyst for each company’s decision.

AT&T showed direct support for President Donald Trump in its statement and said it expects the changes to produce more jobs and “economic growth.”

“Congress, working closely with the president, took a monumental step to bring taxes paid by U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world,” AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement. “Tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs. In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees.”

Americans for Tax Reform tweeted the list and said companies also provided increased 401K contributions along with the bonuses as a result of the new tax law.

EDITORS NOTE:  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 for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Why We Are a Republic, Not a Democracy

The Founding Fathers designed a system that places heavy checks on the power of the majority. 

Hillary Clinton blamed the Electoral College for her stunning defeat in the 2016 presidential election in her latest memoirs, “What Happened.”

Some have claimed that the Electoral College is one of the most dangerous institutions in American politics.

Why? They say the Electoral College system, as opposed to a simple majority vote, distorts the one-person, one-vote principle of democracy because electoral votes are not distributed according to population.

To back up their claim, they point out that the Electoral College gives, for example, Wyoming citizens disproportionate weight in a presidential election.

Put another way, Wyoming, a state with a population of about 600,000, has one member in the House of Representatives and two members in the U.S. Senate, which gives the citizens of Wyoming three electoral votes, or one electoral vote per 200,000 people.

California, our most populous state, has more than 39 million people and 55 electoral votes, or approximately one vote per 715,000 people.

Comparatively, individuals in Wyoming have nearly four times the power in the Electoral College as Californians.

Many people whine that using the Electoral College instead of the popular vote and majority rule is undemocratic. I’d say that they are absolutely right. Not deciding who will be the president by majority rule is not democracy.

But the Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure that we were a republic and not a democracy. In fact, the word democracy does not appear in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or any other of our founding documents.

How about a few quotations expressed by the Founders about democracy?

In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wanted to prevent rule by majority faction, saying,

“Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.”

John Adams warned in a letter,

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.”

Edmund Randolph said,

“That in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.”

Then-Chief Justice John Marshall observed,

“Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

The Founders expressed contempt for the tyranny of majority rule, and throughout our Constitution, they placed impediments to that tyranny. Two houses of Congress pose one obstacle to majority rule. That is, 51 senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators.

The president can veto the wishes of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

To change the Constitution requires not a majority but a two-thirds vote of both houses, and if an amendment is approved, it requires ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures.

Finally, the Electoral College is yet another measure that thwarts majority rule.

It makes sure that the highly populated states—today, mainly 12 on the east and west coasts, cannot run roughshod over the rest of the nation. That forces a presidential candidate to take into consideration the wishes of the other 38 states.

Those Americans obsessed with rule by popular majorities might want to get rid of the Senate, where states, regardless of population, have two senators.

Should we change representation in the House of Representatives to a system of proportional representation and eliminate the guarantee that each state gets at least one representative?

Currently, seven states with populations of 1 million or fewer have one representative, thus giving them disproportionate influence in Congress.

While we’re at it, should we make all congressional acts by majority rule? When we’re finished with establishing majority rule in Congress, should we then move to change our court system, which requires unanimity in jury decisions, to a simple majority rule?

My question is: Is it ignorance of or contempt for our Constitution that fuels the movement to abolish the Electoral College?

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Walter E. Williams

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Why We Use Electoral College, Not Popular Vote

Liberals Claim Electoral College Is Biased. Here Are the Facts

A Note for our Readers:

Trust in the mainstream media is at a historic low—and rightfully so given the behavior of many journalists in Washington, D.C.

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Now journalists spread false, negative rumors about President Trump before any evidence is even produced.

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VIDEO: The Truth About ‘Sh*thole Countries’

On January 12th, 2017 Paul Joseph Watson published the below video on his YouTube channel:

Watson concludes, “Trump was right. Some countries are sh*tholes.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

10 Thoughts on the President and the ‘S—hole Countries’

Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

Majority Of Americans Don’t Think Trump’s ‘Sh**hole’ Remark Was Racist.

Headline from 2014: San Francisco’s public defecation map highlights a shitty situation

It appears that the word sh_thole is making major network news lately. Various media outlets like CNN, MSNBC and ABC can’t seem to get enough of the word “sh_thole.” WARNING GRAPHIC LANGUAGE:

Perhaps its time to take a look back at a stark reality in San Francisco, California. A sanctuary city that has literally turned into a sh_thole because of its public policies.

Steve Dent from Engadget.com posted a column dated December 21st, 2014 titled “San Francisco’s public defecation map highlights a shitty situation.” Dent wrote:

Wondering what that smell near the Civic Center is, San Francisco resident? As far as serious interactive maps go, Human Wasteland is one of the strangest we’ve seen. Created by civil-engineer-turned-web-developer Jennifer Wong, the project plots human excrement “incidents” reported by the public to SF311. Her project won an internal hacking contest for employees of a real estate website, an ironic honor considering the city’s contentious housing issues. The highest concentration of crap is at a downtown alley next to the financial district, right in a high-traffic area frequented by tourists.

While the odd drunk or other soul may have had an emergency, the map is more about folks who don’t have a toilet, period. According to the SF Weekly, the map (graphically) reflects the city’s problems with limited, filthy public restrooms and lack of services for the homeless. So while it’s amusing for non-residents and disgusting for city center dwellers or tourists, it did make me think: “Where would I go in public if I had no choice?”

According to its website, (Human) Wasteland is a mochimachine project. It uses human waste reports made to 311 in San Francisco from DataSF and maps them in several ways. Human Wasteland links to three 2014 articles that address the problem of homelessness and lack of resources for the homeless in San Francisco:

When you go to the Human Wasteland webpage you see the below map of San Francisco:

Click on the image to view an interactive map of where people are defecating on the streets of San Francisco.

It appears that San Francisco has a serious poop problem. But it gets worse. Heather Knight in a June 26th, 2017 San Francisco Chronicle column titled “Despite money and effort, homelessness in SF as bad as ever” wrote:

On the face of it, San Francisco’s homeless problem should have improved dramatically over the past year.

After all, last summer Mayor Ed Lee formed the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing to focus on the city’s most perplexing problem.

The city spent $275 million on homelessness and supportive housing in the fiscal year that ends Friday, up from $241 million the year before. Starting Saturday, that annual spending is projected to hit an eye-popping $305 million.

Public Works cleanup crews were busier than ever, picking up more than 679 tons of trash from homeless tent camps since June 1, 2016, and collecting more than 100,000 used syringes from the camps in that time span.

Read more.

According the San Francisco Chronicle, on 311 complaints in San Francisco:

Complaints to the city’s 311 service about encampments, human waste and needles have steadily increased from about 6,300 in 2011 to more than 44,000 in 2016.

Here is a map of the ongoing and growing problem:

The problem is clear. Rewarding bad behavior creates more bad behavior. If you don’t believe this just look at San Francisco.

RELATED ARTICLES:

10 Thoughts on the President and the ‘S—hole Countries’

Why is liberal California the poverty capital of America?

Why Is There So Much Human Shit on the Streets? — The Bold Italic — San Francisco

CALIFORNIA UNVEILS “HOMELESS BILL OF RIGHTS”, RIGHT TO PUBLIC URINATION: It may actually be the first law ever that turns public urination into a right.

Watch: Illegals Erect Huge Camp In Major Sanctuary City – Disgusting!

RELATED VIDEO: Illegal alien camp in sanctuary city of Santa Ana, California.

VIDEO: Twitter Security Engineer, ‘It is a creepy big brother.’

Before you watch Part III of our investigation into Twitter, I have to warn you that the discussions held by these Twitter employees IS NOT family friendly.

If you’re at the office, turn down your speakers or put on your headphones.

If the children are in the room, ask them to cover their ears.

With that warning out of the way, here’s what you should be really worried about . . .

If you have held a private conversation on Twitter, and possibly any other social platform, your conversation was NOT private.

Even if you deleted sensitive discussions you held privately online, not only are they still there, the information you discussed — attached to your personal profile — is being traded like a commodity.

Have you discussed personal family matters with others over private messages?
Have you talked about your health or the diagnosis of a loved one?
Have your vented relationship challenges to a close friend?
Have you expressed intimate sentiments to your spouse or partner?

If you’ve done any of those things, and again, even if those messages have been deleted, they are now attached to your personal “virtual profile” and bought and sold thousands of times over.

As one Twitter employee called it, “it’s creepy big brother.”

WARNING GRAPHIC LANGUAGE BY TWITTER EMPLOYEES:

witter has over 300 million users across the world and in essence has turned itself into a giant database of virtual personalities with preferences, likes and dislikes all attached to each and every one of us . . . . even if you don’t use Twitter!

Clay Haynes, Twitter’s Senior Network Security Engineer, admits that “You leak way more information than you think… Like, if you go to Twitter for the first time, we have information about you.”

I’d guess that 99.8% of people never read Twitters terms and conditions, and those that do have a 99.9% chance of not understanding the depth and implications of them.

That’s why, as an avid Twitter user myself, I was shocked to hear what is really going on behind the closed doors of this tech giant.

Watch this video and tell others to do so, and we will wait and see how Twitter responds to this one.

Our video is already being featured at the top of the Drudge Report site, which has had over 890 million site visitors over the past 30 days alone.

Drudge Report

Thanks again for everything and as always . . . stay tuned.

In truth,

James O’Keefe
Project Veritas