Trump Secures Freedom for American Jailed in Iran

President Trump secured the freedom for an American jailed in Iran.

Xiyue Wang was a 37-year old graduate student at Princeton doing research in Iran in 2016 when he was jailed for spying. The U.S. denied those charges.

By May 2017, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison and sent to Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison used for political prisoners.

Just days ago, Wang was flown in a Swiss government airplane from Tehran to Zurich. He was  met by Brian H. Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran.

Wang was traded in a prisoner exchange for Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian scientist who was arrested at a Chicago airport last year and was convicted on charges of violating American trade sanctions against Iran.

The charges against Soleimani were dropped by the Justice Department.

The New York Times reports, “American officials said that Mr. Soleimani’s release was a low price to pay for Mr. Wang’s freedom because Mr. Soleimani was expected to be released from prison as early as next month under a plea agreement.”

For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran was “fully ready” for a full prisoner exchange with the U.S., prompting political analysts to wonder if the move signified a thawing in relations between Iran and the U.S.

Iran is still holding a number of American citizens, also falsely arrested as spies. These citizens include Baquer Namazi, 81, and his son Siamak, 45, who were sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison each for “collaborating with an enemy state [the U.S.],” charges that were never detailed.

Siamak was arrested just a short time after the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was concluded. His father, a retired official with the United Nations, was arrested in February while visiting his son in jail.

Ironically, Siamak, a businessman, was connected to the National Iranian American Council, a pro-Iranian lobby group in Washington, D.C. He spoke out against U.S. sanctions on Iran and advocated for closer business ties between the countries. He was arrested in October of 2015 while visiting relatives in Iran.

As pointed by The Wall Street Journal, the payment by the Obama administration to Iran of $1.7 billion in cash received on the day a number of U.S. hostages were released “has created an incentive for them to imprison more Americans to trade for some future concession.”

Even considering the fact that Siamak was promoting the Iranian regime, the Journal continued, “the mullahs put their need for U.S. hostages above gratitude for such political assistance. Revolutions tend to devour their foreign sympathizers.”

The Namazis are held separately in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where their health is said to be significantly deteriorating.

Other Americans being held by Iran include:

  • Karan Vafadari, an American-Iranian dual national who owns an art gallery in Iran.
  • Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent and CIA contractor, who went missing while on a trip to Iran’s Kish Island in the Persian Gulf in 2007. Pictures of Levinson taken in 2011 were broadcast on Fox News in 2013. They showed a haggard Levinson with unkempt graying hair and beard in chains and wearing an orange jumpsuit.
  • Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen and a permanent resident of the United States who is an information technology expert was arrested while atending a professional conference in Iran. Zakka, whose appeal was denied, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of spying.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Clarion Project column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

President Trump keeps his promise to fix NAFTA!

President Donald J. Trump has fought for better trade deals for American workers since his first day in office. In addition to new agreements with Japan, South Korea, and the European Union, the President has long argued that NAFTA must be reformed.

More than a year ago, he kept that signature campaign promise when he signed a modern, rebalanced trade deal with Canada and Mexico. And today, after a year’s worth of stall tactics, House Democrats have finally acquiesced to the will of the American people and agreed to vote on the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).

That’s big news. It’s time for Washington to put American workers first and get USMCA over the finish line!

When President Trump took office, he inherited all sorts of poorly negotiated trade deals that heavily favored global competitors over American citizens. Of all the agreements that put U.S. workers and businesses at a disadvantage, undoubtedly the biggest culprit was the outdated, deficient NAFTA.

For years, NAFTA rules have helped incentivize offshoring, which led to manufacturing jobs leaving the United States in bulk. As a result, politicians from both parties have called to reform our trade terms with Mexico and Canada ever since the deal first passed in the mid-1990s. As usual, Washington promised voters one thing and then did another.

It took President Trump to get Mexico and Canada to sign a new deal. Here are just a few ways it updates and improves NAFTA:

  • Auto and manufacturing: With new rules of origin, 75 percent of auto content must be produced in North America, stimulating U.S. vehicle and parts production.
  • Labor protections: Unlike NAFTA, labor rules are enforceable, not voluntary. Workers will benefit from provisions that incentivize the use of high-wage manufacturing labor—supporting better jobs for American workers.
  • Digital trade: USMCA includes the strongest terms on digital trade—a booming and growing sector of the U.S. economy—of any trade deal. NAFTA had none.
  • Farmers and ranchers: In just one example, USMCA protects our farmers by eliminating a loophole that allowed Canada to undersell American dairy products.

In short, Main Street won. Democrat leaders tried to stall, desperate to avoid giving President Trump a signature win on one of his core issues. But USMCA highlighted the divide between far-left Washington partisans and practical, results-minded local officials who supported the deal. In the end, a growing chorus of diverse voices—everyone from labor leaders to small business owners—finally forced Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand.

USMCA is a promise kept to America’s working class. For that, we should all celebrate.

Something to share: President Trump has fought for better deals since day one!


House Democrats make their 3-year impeachment scheme official

The Swamp outdid themselves today, surprising no one that Washington can always find a way to stoop lower than ever before. At a time when Congress’ approval rating is mired in the low 20s, House Democrats announced they will proceed with a partisan impeachment of President Trump—despite finding no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham issued the following statement in part to reporters today:

House Democrats have long wanted to overturn the votes of 63 million Americans. They have determined that they must impeach President Trump because they cannot legitimately defeat him at the ballot box. The Democrats’ use of a phone call with the president of Ukraine – with a transcript the President himself released – served as their excuse for this partisan, gratuitous, and pathetic attempt to overthrow the Trump Administration and the results of the 2016 election.

The announcement of two baseless articles of impeachment does not hurt the President, it hurts the American people, who expect their elected officials to work on their behalf to strengthen our Nation. The President will address these false charges in the Senate and expects to be fully exonerated, because he did nothing wrong.

Ultimately, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats will have to answer to their constituents for manufacturing an impeachment inquiry and forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people.

“IG Report Confirms Schiff FISA Memo Media Praised Was Riddled With Lies”

More: Top Ukraine official casts doubt on key impeachment testimony

© All rights reserved.

Swing Sets of Polling on Impeachment

Democrats were supposed to be impeaching the president for political gain! But now, pollsters say, they can’t even claim that. New numbers warn that the bottom’s falling out of the Left’s support — and the battleground states are the first to go.

What a difference an impeachment makes! Nine months ago, Donald Trump was trailing Joe Biden in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Today, Firehouse Strategies says, “he beats every Democrat.” What changed? Nothing, and that’s exactly the problem. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and company gear up for a vote to boot the president from office, most Americans want to know when they’ll get back to the country’s real business.

Months into the Democrats’ charade, voters in purple states have had enough. In a trend that spells disaster for the 2020 candidates, clear majorities of people in these must-win states (from 50.8 percent to 57.9 percent) oppose the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump. The numbers are a frightening sign for Pelosi, who’s betting her party’s chances on the serious misconception that Americans hate the president as much as they do. Or at least support the idea of taking him out before he can win another term.

In an interview with Axios, Firehouse partner Alex Conant warned, “Democrats racing towards impeachment are at serious risk of leaving behind the voters they need to retake the White House next year.” Although they differ on what Congress’s priority should be (immigration for Republicans, health care for Democrats), the consensus is that it’s time to “focus on policy issues” (59.4 percent of Michigan agrees, followed by 63 percent of Pennsylvania, and 67.2 percent of Wisconsin).

Making matters worse for liberals, Firehouse is just one of the organizations tracking this trend. A slew of polls in the last week all point to the same conclusion:

Democrats are in for a 2016 sequel where moderate states are concerned if they don’t change course — and fast. According to the Hill, Arizona and Florida can be added to that list, along with North Carolina. People there may have been receptive to an investigation of Trump, but this all-out crusade to unseat him on the slimmest of evidence is extreme by anyone’s measure.

“We’ve known for a long time that everybody in California and New York want Trump to be impeached,” said one of the president’s campaign officials. “They’ve wanted that since the day he came into office. But in these states where the election is really going to be fought, we’re seeing that voters oppose impeachment, and there’s an intensity to that opposition.”


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


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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Why Capitalism Is Morally Superior to Other Systems

Richard Ebeling, professor of economics at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and my longtime friend and colleague, has written an important article, “Business Ethics and Morality of the Marketplace,” appearing in the American Institute for Economic Research.

Its importance and timeliness is enhanced by so many of America’s youth, led by academic hacks, having fallen prey to the siren song of socialism.

In a key section of his article, Ebeling lays out what he calls the ethical principles of free markets. He says:

The hallmark of a truly free market is that all associations and relationships are based on voluntary agreement and mutual consent. Another way of saying this is that in the free market society, people are morally and legally viewed as sovereign individuals possessing rights to their life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, who may not be coerced into any transaction that they do not consider being to their personal betterment and advantage.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


Ebeling says that the rules of a free market are simple and easy to understand:

You don’t kill, you don’t steal, and you don’t cheat through fraud or misrepresentation. You can only improve your own position by improving the circumstances of others. Your talents, abilities, and efforts must all be focused on one thing: What will others take in trade from you for the revenues you want to earn as the source of your own income and profits?

For many people, profit has become a dirty word and as such has generated slogans such as “people before profits.” Many believe the pursuit of profits is the source of mankind’s troubles.

However, it’s often the absence of profit motivation that’s the true villain.

For example, contrast the number of complaints heard about profit-oriented establishments such as computer stores, supermarkets, and clothing stores to the complaints that one hears about nonprofit establishments such as the U.S. Post Office, the public education system, and departments of motor vehicles.

Computer stores, supermarkets, and clothing stores face competition and must satisfy customers to earn profits and stay in business. Postal workers, public teachers, and departments of motor vehicles employees depend on politicians and coercion to get their pay. They stay in business whether customers are satisfied with their services or not.

In a free market society, income is neither taken nor distributed. Income is earned by serving one’s fellow man.

Say I mow your lawn. When I’m finished, you pay me $50. Then, I go to my grocer and demand, “Give me two pounds of sirloin and a six-pack of beer that my fellow man produced.”

In effect, the grocer asks: “Williams, what did you do to deserve a claim on what your fellow man produced?”

I say, “I served him.” The grocer says, “Prove it.”

That’s when I pull out the $50. We might think of dollars as “certificates of performance,” proof of serving our fellow man.

Free markets are morally superior to other economic systems. To have a claim on what my fellow man produces, I’m forced to serve him.

Contrast that requirement to government handouts, where a politician says to me: “You don’t have to get out in that hot sun to mow your fellow man’s lawn. Vote for me and I’ll take what your fellow man produces and give it to you.”

Ebeling says that those deserving condemnation are those who use government coercion to gain at the expense of others.

There are thousands of such examples: government subsidies at taxpayers’ expense, paying farmers not to grow crops or guaranteeing them a minimum price paid for through tax dollars and higher prices for consumers, regulations that limit entry into various professions and occupations, regulations that limit consumer choice, and corporate handouts and bailouts.

In a word or so, our protest should not be against capitalism. People should protest crony capitalism, where people use the political arena to buy government favors.

If millennials and others want to wage war against government favors and crony capitalism, I’m with them 100%. But I’m all too afraid that anti-capitalists just want their share of the government loot.

COMMENTARY BY

Walter E. Williams is a columnist for The Daily Signal and a professor of economics at George Mason University. Twitter: .

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A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Clinton Prosecutor Sees Weak Impeachment Case Against Trump

House Democrats, legal analysts, and pundits suggested in recent weeks that President Donald Trump committed various impeachable crimes in his July phone call to Ukraine’s president.

But on Tuesday, the charge House Democrats came up with was a broad “abuse of power” claim, alleging that Trump solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.

The second and last charge against the president is “obstruction of Congress,” for not complying with congressional subpoenas in the impeachment probe.

“They have passed through treason, they passed through bribery, they passed through extortion, they passed through an illegal campaign contribution, and they passed through obstruction of justice,” former independent counsel Robert Ray, who investigated President Bill Clinton, said of House Democrats’ recent rhetoric about Trump’s alleged offenses.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


“This is what they have,” Ray told The Daily Signal, referring to Democrats’ announcement of the two charges they will pursue. “It was broadened to abuse of power, which would seem to have a lower burden of proof.”

Ray was part of independent counsel Ken Starr’s team, which sent the report to Congress in 1998 recommending Clinton’s impeachment on charges that included perjury and obstruction of justice. Ray completed the long-running investigation after Starr stepped away from the post.

Ray acknowledged that impeachment is both a political and legal process, recalling the often-quoted Gerald Ford standard when, as House Republican leader, Ford sought to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas in 1970.

“An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history,” Ford, a future president, asserted at the time. “Conviction results from whatever offense or offenses two-thirds of the other body [the Senate] considers to be sufficiently serious to require removal of the accused from office.”

But that is not in the tradition of impeachment at the presidential level, Ray contends.

“I remain of the view that a well-founded impeachment must [involve] a crime,” Ray said, adding: “Obstruction of Congress does not constitute a crime unless it constitutes obstruction of justice.”

The impeachment article on obstructing Congress by not complying with congressional subpoenas raises questions related to the separation of powers established in the Constitution, legal experts said.

“The executive branch is not required to do what the legislative branch orders it to do,” Thomas Jipping, a former chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee who helped oversee two impeachment trials of federal judges, told The Daily Signal.

“When Adam Schiff says ‘jump,’ Donald Trump is not required to say ‘how high,’” said Jipping, referring to the California Democrat, point man on impeachment as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “There are real boundaries between branches of government.”

Not only is the article of impeachment on abuse of power lacking a finite crime, Jipping noted, the article is based largely on intent.

Trump, the article alleges, “solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 United States presidential election.”

“It’s about proving intent. This would be the first impeachment in history based on intentions,” said Jipping, now deputy director of the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. “The view is Trump pressured or coerced and demanded action for the purpose of getting reelected. That is at the heart of the whole impeachment case.”

Still, in announcing the two articles of impeachment, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., warned of the grave consequences arising from Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“Our president holds the ultimate public trust. When he betrays that trust, and puts himself before country, he endangers the Constitution, he endangers our democracy, and he endangers our national security,” Nadler said in a formal statement. “The Framers prescribed a clear remedy for presidents who violate their oath of office. That is the power of impeachment.”

One former Justice Department lawyer, J. Christian Adams, summarized the abuse-of-power article as translating to “We don’t like Trump.”

The second article on obstructing Congress, Adams said, means “Trump didn’t do what we told him to do.”

“If that’s what the Democrats have, they are in trouble,” Adams, now president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

Adams noted that President Barack Obama took executive actions without Congress and withheld documents from Congress during the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal—so he could be accused credibly of both offenses if a Republican-controlled House had been inclined to do so.

“It boils down to this: Policy and ideological disagreements are not impeachable offenses,” Adams said.

The articles of impeachment against Clinton—perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with covering up an affair with a White House intern—were specific.

The two articles against Trump are similar to those contemplated against President Richard Nixon for the Watergate cover-up before he resigned: obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress, and abuse of power.

But each of those articles cited specific conduct by Nixon that was criminal in nature.

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

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1 Minor Judge Shouldn’t Be Able to Block Trump’s Agenda


A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: President Donald J. Trump’s Rally in Hershey, PA on December 10, 2019

President Donald J, Trump held a “Keep America Great Rally” at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019.

The following is the full video of the KAG rally by the Right Side Broadcasting Network (NOTE: President Trump appears at the 6:22 mark):

Students’ Test Scores Unchanged After Decades of Federal Intervention in Education

 

Federal “Highly Qualified Teacher” mandates. Adequate Yearly Progress requirements. Smaller learning communities. Improving Teacher Quality State Grants. Reading First. Early Reading First. The dozens of other federal programs authorized via No Child Left Behind. School Improvement Grants. Race to the Top. Common Core.

All of that has been just since 2000. Over those past two decades, while federal policymakers were busy enacting new federal laws, creating mandates for local school leaders, and increasing the Department of Education’s budget from $38 billion in 2000 (unadjusted for inflation) to roughly $70 billion today, the math and reading performance of American high school students remained completely flat. That is to say, stagnant.

The U.S. is now above the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average in reading, but alas, not because U.S. reading performance has improved. Rather, other countries have seen declines in reading achievement, despite increases in education spending.

In mathematics, however, U.S. performance has steadily declined over the past two decades.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


Those are the findings from the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA exams, released last week.

As The New York Times’ Dana Goldstein reported:

About a fifth of American 15-year-olds scored so low on the PISA test that it appeared they had not mastered reading skills expected of a 10-year-old, according to Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers the exam.

What’s more, the achievement gap between high- and low-performing American students has widened.

The international findings mirror last month’s National Assessment of Educational Progress report, which revealed that math and reading scores across the country have continued a yearslong stagnation, with students largely showing no progress in academic achievement.

Just one-third of students in the fourth and eighth grades reached proficiency in math and reading nationally on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is administered every two years.

As with the Programme for International Student Assessment’s findings that the achievement gap stubbornly persists for American students, the National Assessment of Educational Progress highlighted similar findings within the U.S.

The scores of students who are among the lowest 10% of performers on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have dropped significantly since 2009.

The stubborn achievement gap is not new, but the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Programme for International Student Assessment provide additional data points on its persistence.

As Harvard professor Paul Peterson writes in The Heritage Foundation’s new book “The Not-So-Great Society”:

The achievement gap in the United States is as wide today as it was in 1971.

The performances on math, reading, and science tests between the most advantaged and the most disadvantaged students differ by approximately four years’ worth of learning, a disparity that has remained essentially unchanged for nearly half a century.

One of the more recent, major pieces of federal intervention sold as a way to improve American standing in education was the Common Core State Standards Initiative promoted during the Obama administration.

Common Core national standards and test, proponents argued, would catapult American students to the top of the math and reading pack. It was time, they argued, for the U.S. to have the same “epiphany” Germany did in the late 1990s, and adopt centrally planned national standards and tests.

Germany now lags the U.S. in reading, according to the new Programme for International Student Assessment data, and is far below Canada, a country that does not have national standards.

Indeed, our neighbor to the north has performed consistently well on the Programme for International Student Assessment since 2000, significantly outpacing the United States, and has neither national standards, nor a federal education department.

Canada’s is a decentralized education system, in which Canada’s 10 provinces set education policy.

The fact that Common Core didn’t catalyze improvements in the U.S. isn’t surprising. Large-scale government programs rarely, if ever, do.

But neither have the myriad federal programs created since No Child Left Behind in 2001, nor have the more than 100 federal K-12 education programs created since President Lyndon Johnson launched his Great Society initiative in 1965 designed, ostensibly, to narrow opportunity gaps between the poor and the affluent.

Heritage’s Jonathan Butcher and I detail Yuval Levin’s theory of government failure in “The Not-So-Great Society.” Levin explains that large-scale government programs fail for three reasons:

  1. “Institutionally, the administrative state is ‘dismally inefficient and unresponsive, and therefore ill-suited to our age of endless choice and variety.’”
  2. “Culturally and morally, government efforts to ‘rescue the citizen from the burdens of responsibility [have] undermined the family, self-reliance, and self-government.’”
  3. “Fiscally, large-scale federal programs supporting the welfare state are simply unaffordable, ‘dependent as it is upon dubious economics and the demographic model of a bygone era.’”

Federal government efforts to improve education have been dismal. Even if there were a constitutional basis for its involvement—which there isn’t—the federal government is simply ill-positioned to determine what education policies will best serve the diverse local communities across our vast nation.

The sooner we can acknowledge that improvements will not come from Washington, the sooner we’re likely to see students flourishing in learning environments that reflect their unique needs and desires.

COMMENTARY BY

Lindsey M. Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. Twitter: .

RELATED ARTICLE: FL Gov. DeSantis sets plan for high school seniors to take civics exam


 

4 Facts House Democrats Wish They Could Change

No matter what House Democrats may claim—and no matter how many times they try to change their story—they can’t run away from the facts.

Chalk up today as yet another lost day for Congress, as Democrat leaders scramble to justify why they’ve all but scrapped any legislative priorities for the year. But no matter how hard they try to spin their narrative to the media, change their argument, or implement a rigged process, at least one thing has been consistent throughout these impeachment hearings.

The facts haven’t changed. And that’s bad news for the do-nothing obstructionists:

  1. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by the President. Despite weeks of hearings, Democrats have not produced a single piece of evidence showing that President Trump committed any criminal, impeachable offense whatsoever.
  2. Ukraine has said there was no pressure. President Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials have explained repeatedly that they never felt pushed.
  3. Lethal aid to Ukraine wouldn’t even exist without President Trump. For all the Democrats’ posturing about national security and aid, it was President Trump who made the decision to provide Ukraine with lethal aid. The Obama Administration had rejected doing so for years.
  4. This is an unfair, unprecedented impeachment stunt. House Democrats have continually broken with precedent and implemented an unfair “investigation” in a desperate attempt to ram impeachment through Congress.

Of course, Democrats have changed their story so many times when it comes to what they are actually accusing President Trump of, it’s hard to keep up. As a result, American families are simply left scratching their heads, asking, “What was this all for?”

Imagine all that could have been accomplished had House Democrats worked this hard on things that actually matter to American citizens. In addition to the soaring Trump Economy—which is lowering unemployment and raising wages across the income spectrum—by now your medicine prices could be even lower, your border a little more secure, and the infrastructure in your state a little stronger and safer.

Sadly, we’ll never know.

JUST IN: President Trump weighs in on the Justice Dept. Inspector General report.


WATCH: First Lady visits Children’s National Hospital

First Lady Melania Trump spread some holiday cheer on Friday, visiting patients, family members, and medical staff at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

This nearly 70-year tradition dates back to Elizabeth “Bess” Truman. During this year’s visit, the First Lady stopped by the hospital’s short-stay and surgical units, then made her way to a playroom where she participated in a Christmas craft-making project. Next came a Christmas book-reading for children at the hospital.

First Lady Melania Trump Makes Annual Holiday Visit to Children’s Hospital

© All rights reserved.

Not All Findings of Religious Freedom Index Are Encouraging

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a leading nonprofit law firm defending religious freedom, is taking an innovative approach to evaluate the current state of religious freedom in America.

Most assessments in this area focus on government actions such as laws, regulations, or court decisions that affect religious freedom. Becket’s first-ever Religious Freedom Index instead focuses on public opinion, using a national poll to examine six dimensions of religious freedom. The results are generally positive, with a few caveats.

At least formally, religious freedom in America long has been defined broadly. The First Amendment, for example, refers to the “free exercise of religion,” which obviously extends beyond speech or religious worship. In fact, colonial laws protected the exercise of religion for more than a century before the United States was born.

In the mid-20th century, following World War II, the U.S. was an original supporter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of that document says that religious freedom includes both belief and behavior, in private and in public, individually and collectively.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


But rights, even such fundamental and comprehensive ones, are more than statements or ideas. To be real, they must be experienced and that, in turn, depends a great deal on people’s understanding, perception, support, or opposition to religious freedom. This is why, for example, the Pew Research Center’s evaluation of religious freedom around the world looks at social, as well as government, hostilities involving religion.

Becket’s Religious Freedom Index asked about the degree of acceptance/support or challenge/opposition to six dimensions of religious freedom.

The index, for example, asked five questions about religious pluralism, such as practicing religion in daily life without fear of discrimination or harm. Overall, it shows an average of 80% support for religious pluralism.

Although there was little difference between Democrats and Republicans regarding religious pluralism, the largest gap was about the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs “even if they are contrary to accepted majority practices.”

Significantly, however, Democrats led Republicans by 10 points (85% to 75%). Future indexes will show whether this continues as the category of “accepted majority practices” changes over time.

The Religious Freedom Index also explored “how Americans value religion and its role in society.” The results were not as encouraging.

“When it comes to issues and what happens today in our country,” for example, 56% said that religion is “part of the solution” while 44% said it is “part of the problem.” The division about “people of faith” was 59% to 41%.

Problems, of course, need solutions. This perception by many (thankfully, not a majority) that not only religion in general, but people of faith in particular, are part of the problem may weaken support for the freedom to practice one’s religious beliefs even when those beliefs are contrary to majority practices.

The index also examined the familiar area of church and state. Here, even though the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits any “religious test for public office,” one-quarter of Americans say that candidates “should be disqualified or blocked from holding public offices” based on their religious beliefs.

They also say that “[s]ociety should not tolerate public officials who might allow their religious beliefs to influence their decisions.” It will surprise many that the percent of religious people who say they believe this is exactly the same as the percent of agnostics and atheists.

The Religious Freedom Index is based on an online poll surveying a representative sample of 1,000 Americans age 18 and older. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1%, and Heart and Mind Strategies constructed  the index.

Becket’s conclusion from this first Religious Freedom Index is that “there is evidence for broad support of robust religious freedom protections, discomfort with government interfering in religious practice, and positive attitudes toward a culture of accommodation of religious practice.”

The caveat, however, is this: “Within each dimension the composition of support and opposition varies depending on political parties, age, ethnicity and many other factors.”

This means that the consensus supporting religious freedom in America might be broad, but it also may not be very deep.

COMMENTARY BY

Thomas Jipping is deputy director of the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

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RELATED VIDEO: Wisdom Begins With The Fear of God.


A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

6 Takeaways From the IG Report on FBI’s Spying on Trump Campaign

The Justice Department’s in-house watchdog released a 476-page report Monday that criticizes some of the FBI’s actions in beginning an investigation of the Trump campaign’s connection with Russian election meddling, but does not concludes that political bias drove the agency’s probe.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report does answer many questions and verifies some suspicions about the initial FBI investigation, dubbed Crossfire Hurricane.

Attorney General William Barr, Horowitz’s boss, issued a statement Monday saying that the report shows the FBI’s “clear abuse” of the process for obtaining warrants to spy on Americans.

Horowitz is scheduled to take questions Wednesday from the Senate Judiciary Committee on his report, which arrives as the House Judiciary Committee drafts articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


Here are six key takeaways from Horowitz’s report.

1. Surveillance Broader Than Initially Thought

Americans already knew the FBI used surveillance to keep tabs on two Trump campaign advisers. Initially, news reports made it clear that foreign policy advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were under surveillance.

The IG report states that two others also were subject to FBI spying: retired Army Lt. General Michael Flynn, a high-level campaign adviser who would serve less than a month as Trump’s first White House national security adviser, and onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The IG report concludes that “the quantum of information articulated by the FBI to open the individual investigations on Papadopoulos, Page, Flynn, and Manafort in August 2016 was sufficient to satisfy the low threshold established by the [Justice] Department and the FBI.”

In May 2017, about four months after Trump became president, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to complete the investigation.

Mueller determined in his final report released in April 2019 that there was no evidence either Trump or his campaign conspired with the Russian government or Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election.

2. FBI ‘Far Short’ on Facts in Applying for Warrant

On one key matter, the IG report scolds the FBI for “falling far short” on standards.

The report identifies 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” by the FBI, which it subsequently refers to as “errors,” in obtaining a warrant to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.

“Our review found that FBI personnel fell far short of the requirement in FBI policy that they ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate,’” the report says. “We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.”

The inspector general also “determined that the inaccuracies and omissions we identified in the applications resulted from case agents providing wrong or incomplete information to Department attorneys and failing to identify important issues for discussion.”

The report continues:

Moreover, we concluded that case agents and SSAs [supervisory special agents] did not give appropriate attention to facts that cut against probable cause, and that as the investigation progressed and more information tended to undermine or weaken the assertions in the FISA applications, the agents and SSAs did not reassess the information supporting probable cause.

Further, the report notes that “among the most serious” errors committed by the FBI on FISA was the “failure to advise OI [the Office of Intelligence] or the court of the inconsistencies.”

The Office of Intelligence is part of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

3. No ‘Documentary or Testimonial Evidence’ of Political Bias, but …

On the question of political bias by FBI agents and officials, Horowtiz’s report appears to throw a bone to both sides by making a scathing assessment but asserting on each evaluation that his investigators didn’t find “documentary or testimonial evidence” of impropriety.

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations,” the IG report says.

Later, when describing the process of obtaining a surveillance warrant under FISA, the report uses the same phrase:

Although we did not find documentary or testimonial evidence of intentional misconduct on the part of the case agents who assisted NSD’s Office of Intelligence … we also did not receive satisfactory explanations for the errors or missing information. We found that the offered explanations for these serious errors did not excuse them, or the repeated failures to ensure the accuracy of information presented to the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court].

The report says a protocol known as the Woods Procedures, adopted in 2001, requires the FBI to verify facts presented in a FISA application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose proceedings are secret.

“As described above, given that certain factual misstatements were repeated in all four applications, across three different investigative teams, we also concluded that agents and supervisors failed to appropriately perform the Woods Procedures on the renewal applications by not giving much, if any, attention to re-verifying ‘old facts.’”

This section of the IG report is mostly consistent with a memo released in early 2018 by then-House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., which said the FBI did not comply with the Woods Procedures.

4. Why the FBI Says It Didn’t Notify Trump

Horowitz’s report says that an FBI counterintelligence official, E.W. “Bill” Priestap, told investigators that the hacking of Democratic National Committee computers created an obligation to investigate members of the Trump campaign who had potential ties to Russia.

Priestap had an explanation for why the FBI never notified the Trump campaign that it was looking into potential wrongdoing, the report says:

Priestap stated that he considered whether the FBI should conduct defensive briefings for the Trump campaign but ultimately decided that providing such briefings created the risk that ‘if someone on the campaign was engaged with the Russians, he/she would very likely change his/her tactics and/or otherwise seek to cover up his/her activities, thereby preventing us from finding the truth.’

5. Comey, McCabe, and the Steele Dossier

The IG report says that top FBI leadership approved use of unverified information in a so-called dossier assembled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to apply for the warrants.

However, a lower-level FBI official raised red flags that Steele’s document was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

“We further determined that FBI officials at every level concurred with this judgment, [including] then-General Counsel James Baker, then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and then-Director James Comey,” the report says, referring to basing the warrant application on the unverified information:

FBI leadership supported relying on Steele’s reporting to seek a FISA order on Page after being advised of, and giving consideration to concerns expressed by Stuart Evans, then [the National Security Division’s] Deputy Assistant Attorney General with oversight responsibility over [the Office of Intelligence], that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with presidential candidate Clinton or the DNC, and that the foreign intelligence to be collected through the FISA order would probably not be worth the ‘risk’ of being criticized later for collecting communications of someone (Carter Page) who was ‘politically sensitive.’

According to McCabe, the FBI ‘felt strongly’ that the FISA application should move forward because the team believed they had to get to the bottom of what they considered to be a potentially serious threat to national security, even if the FBI would later be criticized for taking such action.

6. Next Step in John Durham’s Criminal Probe

In a statement also released Monday, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durham, who is conducting a criminal investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, disagreed with some of the IG report’s findings.

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durham said. “However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department.”

Durham continued:

Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.

Indeed, questions about what the FBI predicated its case on include actions by officials with the CIA, the National Security Council, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The IG report, however, says that nearly all of its information came from sources within the FBI, as it is not authorized to investigate matters outside the Justice Department:

The question we considered was not whether a particular investigative decision was ideal or could have been handled more effectively, but rather whether the [Justice] Department and the FBI complied with applicable legal requirements, policies, and procedures in taking the actions we reviewed or, alternatively, whether the circumstances surrounding the decision indicated that it was based on inaccurate or incomplete information, or considerations other than the merits of the investigation.

If the explanations we were given for a particular decision were consistent with legal requirements, policies, procedures, and not unreasonable, we did not conclude that the decision was based on improper considerations in the absence of documentary or testimonial evidence to the contrary.

Barr, who as attorney general is the boss of both Horowitz and Durham, issued a statement saying the report reveals “clear abuse” of the FISA process.

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in the statement, adding:

It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation [of Trump campaign ties to Russia] was consistently exculpatory.  Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into Preisident Trump’s administration.

In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source.

The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory.  While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.

COLUMN BY

Fred Lucas

Fred Lucas is the White House correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Tainted by Suspicion: The Secret Deals and Electoral Chaos of Disputed Presidential Elections.” Send an email to Fred. Twitter: @FredLucasWH.

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A Note for our Readers:

With the demand for socialism at an all-time high among our young people—our future leaders and decisionmakers—the experts at Heritage stopped and asked a question that not many have asked:

Is socialism really morally sound?

The researchers at The Heritage Foundation have put together a guide to help you and our fellow Americans better understand the 9 Ways That Socialism Will Morally Bankrupt America.

They’re making this guide available to all readers of The Daily Signal for free today!

GET YOUR FREE COPY NOW! >>


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

2020 Democrat Primary: Off to The Racists

As grandma used to say, “Boy, the more I talk to you, the dumber I get.”

I am reminded of this every time I read about the 2020 Democrat presidential primary race. The more I read, the dumber I get!

For many, many years the base of the Democrat Party screamed that their presidential primaries lacked diversity of candidates; meaning, racial diversity.

Of course, liberals are never satisfied and no solution is ever good enough for them. So, they forced the issue of diversity to now include, gender, sexual preference, transsexual, geographic, height, weight, skin color, favorite cartoons, hair color, etc., etc., etc. The last few I am being somewhat facetious about, though not totally.

I have never supported diversity simply for the sake of diversity. I don’t think many would argue against racial diversity on your police force, in the military, and within your foreign service; but there is absolutely no place for sexual preferences, transsexual and other foolish criteria being included in their definition of diversity.

Political campaigns, whether for local, state, or federal offices, are the ultimate in free market expression. There is one man, one vote. Michael Bloomberg has the same number of votes as Pookie or LaQueesha in the hood.

Isn’t that the ultimate form of equality? In a Democracy, markets don’t lie. If the public likes your food, then they will patronize your restaurant. If the public likes your music, they will buy your CD. If the public likes your campaign platform, they will vote for you.

IF they don’t support any of the above endeavors, then the people have spoken. Even if they don’t support you based on your race. That is their right and that is their choice.

When Democrats claim, with no evidence, that not having a Black in the Democrat primary is racist; do they not realize that they are saying that their own party is racist? I thought only Republicans could be racist.

At least that’s what radical liberals like Roland Martin, Joy Reid, Joe Madison, Richard Princess and Whoopie Goldberg would argue.

Remember, when liberals talk about diversity; they don’t mean it in terms of equal opportunity, they mean it in terms of equal outcome.

When New Jersey Senator Corey Booker or California Senator Kamala Harris entered the presidential race, according to this perverted logic; they MUST win because if they don’t the reason MUST be because of their race or gender. It couldn’t possibly be that the American people simply where not buying what they were selling.

WTF? Wait a minute, I thought ONLY Republicans and the Republican Party and Trump supporters could be racists? Hmmmmm.

If South Bend Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg, doesn’t win it must be because Democrat voters are homophobic. Again, I thought ONLY Republicans and the Republican Party and Trump supporters could be homophobic?

How many times must I say to Democrats, NEVER blame your customers, i.e., voters.

Booker and Harris had absolutely no relationship with the Black community until they caught the presidential bug. Name me one piece of legislation either ever championed that was to the direct benefit of the Black community.

They spent all of their time pushing legislation on issues promoting homosexuality and amnesty for illegals rather than anything of relevance to the Black community.

The voters are speaking with their votes and money and they are saying they don’t like what either is offering.

Former Secretary of HUD, Julian Castro, had this insightful statement regarding this issue of diversity, “What we’re staring at is a DNC debate stage in a few days with no people of color on it, that does not reflect the diversity of our party or our country.” Yes, it does!!!!!

The Democrat Party voters are saying that the candidates offered up does NOT reflect the type of diversity they want, duhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

And Sen. Booker had this deep thought to add to the conversation, “There are more billionaires than Black people who’ve made the December debate stage—that’s a problem.” And his point is what?

Is he proposing voting until he gets the result he wants?

Dr. King fought for equal opportunity, NOT equal outcome. The Civil Rights movement was about making sure that any and everyone who met the criteria to seek public office was not denied the opportunity to do so. Nowhere in the movement was a condition that every Black who ran must be guaranteed victory.

According to this perverted liberal logic, hockey, cricket, and soccer are racist sports simply because most teams have no Blacks. Or could it be that most Blacks have shown little to no interest in these sports?

Or can we use the inverse of this logic?

Can we say that Hip-Hop and rap music are racist since there are few to any whites involved?

This push for diversity was indeed needed and justified back in the day because whites were unwilling to give Blacks what the U.S Constitution had already guaranteed us—full citizenship, with all the rights and privileges thereof.

But as usual, liberals keep expanding the definition of diversity to the point that it has because unrecognizable and silly. That is why there is such a backlash to the 21st century incarnation of “diversity.” It has little to do with race. For example, there is a push to have one’s choice of hair style “protected” under the Civil Rights statute. I am not joking.

Again, diversity for the sake of diversity is bad. Everything and everyone cannot be legally codified as a protected class. There is absolutely no need for any new discrimination laws to be added to the books. If we simply enforced existing laws, new laws are not necessary.

But it is nice to finally see the Democrats publicly admit to what we have known all along; that they indeed are the party of racists.

© All rights reserved.

India continues to struggle with surrogacy

The Prime Minister should walk his talk about empowering women and confront the powerful IVF industry.


Indian author and activist Pinki Virani has been given a national award for her book Bitter Chocolate: Child Sexual Abuse in India, which ripped the lid off the extent of this secretive crime in Indian homes across class and gender (40 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys under 18 are sexually abused, 50 percent of this horror being perpetrated upon them in their own homes or by adults in position of the child’s trust). She has assisted on the laws against sexual abuse.

Her fifth book, Politics of the Womb: The Perils of IVF, Surrogacy & Modified Babies, is a meticulously detailed work on the hormonal-medical violence being benignly showered on women the world over by “fertility fairies, even though their failure rate is 75 percent”.

This “worldwide onslaught on the woman’s womb in the name of a child” is “reducing good men to not even realising that they are condoning reproductive slavery”. For “Politics of the Womb”, Pinki Virani also sought out answers from global experts in the field – from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Europe, India, Israel, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States – who share information which could be used to make informed choices, but which is being hidden from those seeking artificial assistance to further their bloodline — that there is risk of deadly diseases, deformities and disorders.

MercatorNet interviewed Ms Virani about recent development with surrogacy in India.


MercatorNetIndia banned commercial surrogacy for foreigners and then started work on a bill banning commercial surrogacy completely. The currently-concluding session of India’s Parliament was to pass this bill into law. What went wrong?

Pinki Virani: Work started on the bill to ban commercial surrogacy in India in 2016. It passed the house of elected representatives (Lok Sabha) and went to the house of elders (Rajya Sabha). The RS recommended the bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee to which stakeholders were invited.

I was among them, and it was fascinating to watch several people make the case for wanting to continue to plunder a woman’s body and pump her up with hormones and then cut her open and sell this birth-mother’s baby to another set of people who lay claim only on the basis of their genetic greed.

I understand people wanting to have babies of their own with their own genes; what is baffling is why they feel they should exploit others in third-party reproduction. It really can’t be about the money; how much money would they be willing to give women whom they don’t see as the “other”? Their own mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, for instance?

And this is what commercial surrogacy is all about the world over, right? The woman has to be the “other”, even though she is birth-mother. Oftentimes egg-mother too; which means this is a mother being forced to sell her baby in a market, to another set of persons buying that baby, and an entire fertility industry in the middle brokering this baby-bazaar.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee made its recommendations; the Bill went through some changes, it was re-passed in the Lok Sabha. All that had to be done was move it to the Rajya Sabha since general elections had been announced. It’s a matter of picking up a file from one place and entering it officially into the records of another. Mysteriously, that short distance was not travelled and the bill was allowed to lapse.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came back to power, a new bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha and passed by it. Most unfortunately, a flawed clause – that “close relatives” could be availed upon to be altruistic surrogates — was not amended and the Bill looked as though it was all set for another round of failure. It took very long to get to the Rajya Sabha where this clause has, justifiably, been brought up as there is no definition of it.

Interestingly, the patriarchy prevailing in the ruling party itself had members standing up to want “the woman to have more than one child” and “those who are also Indian origin, living abroad, should be allowed” . (Another matter that the countries these people of Indian origin live in and hold passports of, might not allow surrogacy, thereby encouraging them to break that law.)

The Opposition had some other points in the Rajya Sabha; again interesting in that some of them viewed “infertility” as a “disease”.

When did infertility become a disease? Is it communicable? Does anyone die of it? For this I squarely blame the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and then Big Pharma of which Big Fert is a part.

Now the Bill has been sent off to Parliament’s Select Committee. A report has to be given by them by end-February. Let’s see what happens after this, if Prime Minister Modi and his health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan are supported by their own party.

Let’s see if the Prime Minister is able to walk his talk when it comes to empowering women; it takes a strong man, with the courage of his convictions, to be able to stand against such an organised, well-heeled industry which uses science as a shield.

The IVF and surrogacy industries seem to have a lot of influence with politicians.

This would be true for wherever in the world surrogacy flourishes, wouldn’t it? After all, this repro-fert tech reaches developing countries in the same manner that bad medicine is dumped upon the Third World, right?

Doesn’t surrogacy help lift women out of poverty?

Define “lift”, define “poverty”, and then quantify how much money. For example, in the UK and also Canada – which have public healthcare systems – if I am not wrong (I repeat, if I am not wrong) British and Canadian women are becoming surrogates and delivering babies for all-sorts — who aren’t citizens of that country — at the expense of the British and Canadian taxpayer. Note, their countries don’t allow commercial surrogacy but hide under the fig leaf of “altruistic” surrogacy where “expenses” are paid to the women.

Baffling how “altruistic” and “expenses paid” come in the same sentence when it comes to surrogacy and also other forms of third-party reproduction. It should be “sold sperm”, not the factually incorrect “donated sperm” whenever sperm has been paid for, no matter the amount.

Do these “expenses” lift these obviously un-rich British and Canadian women out of the circumstance which makes them agree to sign on the dotted line to be human guinea pigs for more than nine months?

What about the commissioning parents? Many of them have tragic stories of multiple miscarriages.

Please read Politics of the Womb where experts talk about how “miscarriages” can happen because the man’s sperm is the factor and what can be done to make it more of a baby-maker.

Please also read the same book for how many cycles of IVF are required by any kind of mother – the genetic, the birth, the both as in the biological package of what most of our mothers are – and how many “miscarriages” take place.

I honestly think it’s unfair on the part of society to make those who want to be parents carry the burden of the social construct of “tragic” in the same phrase as “miscarriage” because they didn’t or couldn’t or were not programmed to, make a baby. And let’s not forget, such terms wind up making women feel very bad about themselves; such guilt even destroys their marriages.

Some feminists argue that surrogacy is actually an expression of a woman’s autonomy and that they should be allowed to use their bodies as they like. As a feminist, how would you respond to that?

I am not a feminist, I am a fe-men-ist because I believe that if men are going to be branded as part of the problem then they are also part of the solution. I, actually, agree with those who say a woman should be able to use her body as she likes though I doubt if they mean baby-trafficking.

There are also those – women and men, bless the latter especially! – who feel that if a couple cannot have a baby for whatever reason, it’s not the end of anything and therefore surrogacy – commercial, altruistic, “compensated” – should simply be banned from the world. I wonder if the UN or any politician of any Western country (because this is where the demand rises and it expects a supply) has the guts to stand up and say s/he agrees with these people from Europe.

Pinki Virani’s latest book, released internationally, is “Politics Of The Womb: The Perils Of IVF, Surrogacy & Modified Babies” in which she presents global proof, backed by world experts, on the real risks of artificial reproduction and the dangers of aggressive IVF on both the intending mother and her baby. 

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: The Vortex — Taking Down Bad Bishops

TRANSCRIPT

As you more than likely know, the lying, cheating former bishop of Buffalo, Richard Malone, is now off the scene.

Malone, you might recall, is who Church Militant tried questioning in the Detroit airport a year ago, just as his corruption and cover-up were coming into the full light of day and the media spotlight. What we were specifically querying him about, and that he lied to us about, was the case of Anthony Ravarini, whom Church Militant had interviewed a few months before.

Anthony was forced to perform oral sex on a Buffalo priest when he was six years old. There were two witnesses to the event.

But when we asked about justice for Anthony — specifically why Malone had left the offending priest, Fr. Denis Riter, not only in active ministry, but actually a pastor at a Buffalo diocesan parish — Malone lied to us and said the case had been fully examined by his sex abuse review board. Then, the lying, cheating bishop turned around and accused us of lying — because that’s what liars do.

He lied when he said his review board had thoroughly investigated the case. No, they did not, and still haven’t. Anthony was never questioned. Neither of the witnesses was ever questioned. That obviously leaves open the question of just who was questioned.

The abusive priest was (and he denied it), even claiming that the young Anthony had caused the genetic material to be on his face, hair and clothing by his own effort. That ludicrous claim was apparently enough for Malone and his “review board.”

Cases like that are why Bp. Malone is now former Bp. Malone.

But note: The arrogance this man displayed and still continues to display is breathtaking. He had the gall to issue a statement the day the Pope fired him, saying he was planning on sticking around the diocese to help with the healing — his word — and said that his leaving was his choice. Liar! Just incredible!

But don’t think Malone is alone in his arrogance among the bishops. He just got caught — something they had better get used to in the coming months. Hundreds of lawsuits have flooded the courts, and the truth of this decades-long evil of sex abuse (most of it homosexual, power, ambition, financial malfeasance and so forth) is going to all be revealed.

In the case of Buffalo, the Pope appointed nearby Albany Bp. Edward Scharfenberger to step in and administer the diocese until a new bishop is appointed. He said, rather straightforward, that we have to look these affairs straight in the face, as they are. But perhaps most importantly, he made this comment to the assembled media: “We are here; thank you for your work.”

That is a very important point. Without the intense media coverage — non-stop pounding on this rotten, cover-up bishop — he would still be running the show. That coverage first came when his former secretary, Siobhhan O’Connor, went to the local media with documents proving his lies and corruption. She and her story were even on 60 Minutes.

Meanwhile, Church Militant had already been working on the other angle of victims like Anthony being denied justice, as Malone just lied to and ignored them.

A week back, secular media did a story on how untrustworthy these diocesan review boards actually are. Their goal is to protect and insulate the institution from financial or legal damages, not to get at the truth. That scenario is playing out here in the archdiocese of Detroit, where the corrupt Abp. Allen Vigneron keeps losing court hearing after court hearing in his attempt to railroad innocent priest Fr. Eduard Perrone.

Likewise, over in the diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, Bp. Michael Hoeppner — who ordered his priests and cautioned his laity to stay away from a Church Militant talk sponsored by a local group — was caught on videotape deposition lying and evading and twisting himself in knots trying to prevent the truth from coming out.

The truth was his track record in dealing with abuse allegations and threatening victims with reprisals if they went public. Hoeppner eventually settled — because they had to — for millions of dollars to multiple victims. But his case was so bad, it became the very first instance in the world of a bishop running afoul of the Pope’s new guidelines for dealing with cover-up bishops.

The archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Bernard Hebda, was charged by the Vatican to investigate Hoeppner and send his report back to Rome. And for the record, it was once again intense media scrutiny that brought all this out.

When Church Militant spoke with Hebda’s communication guy and asked what the status of the report was, he responded, “After having submitted the preliminary investigation to the Vatican, we have not been instructed to do anything further at this point.”

Hoeppner deserves the Malone treatment, and he’s not the only one. These rotten men live in darkness and operate in darkness, terrified of being dragged into the light. Until the spotlight swings around to them, too many of them are arrogant, power-hungry dictators who feel their office gives them permission to skip over the Ten Commandments and the Gospel.

Being dragged into the light is precisely how you take down a bad bishop. Church Militant intends to keep up the dragging.

EDITORS NOTE: This Church Militant video is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

More Evidence Emerges That Federal Government Is Funding Worthless College Degrees

Americans have long suspected that, for many, a college degree simply isn’t worth the price.

American taxpayers—two-thirds of whom do not have a college degree—are likewise increasingly skeptical of the notion that they should pay off loans that someone else made the decision to take out.

With recently published College Scorecard data, American students and taxpayers have more reason than ever to reject the left’s “college for all” agenda.

The College Scorecard recently released program-level data on individual schools. Students can now go online and see how much debt the average student graduates with in a certain degree program, along with expected starting salaries.


The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>


The results indicate that choosing a major matters immensely, especially when relying on federal student loans to finance one’s education.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 15% of programs graduate students who carry more federal student loan debt than their annual income.

Interestingly, graduate programs—which are generally perceived to be good investments—are some of the worst offenders.

Students who graduate from the University of Miami Law School, for example, hold a median total debt of $150,896, but earn a starting salary of just $52,100. Even more problematic, students who obtain a master’s degree from New York University in film/video and photographic arts graduate with a median total debt of a whopping $168,568, but earn a median starting salary of $29,600.

Those findings are particularly concerning, considering that there is virtually no cap on how much students can borrow for graduate school under the PLUS loan program.

There is simply no reason that American taxpayers should be footing the entire cost of the bill upfront for degrees with such a low return on investment.

The new College Scorecard data provides not only valuable insights into the debt burden of college students, but also underscores the deep-rooted inefficiencies in our federal student loan programs.

Holders of bachelor’s degrees hold an average of $31,172 in student loan debt. However, depending on where a student goes to school and what their major is, earnings potential can be quite different.

For example, at the University of Miami, students who study mechanical engineering graduate with a median total debt of $20,500 and earn a median starting salary of $66,400. However, political science majors graduate with similar debt, $18,269, but earn a median starting salary of $37,500.

Providing the same loan to both of those student populations paints an inaccurate picture of their earnings potential. The private sector, by contrast, would take into account earnings potential before providing a loan to a student who may not be able to pay it back.

Unfortunately, American taxpayers are on the hook for students who are not able to make loan payments.

It is simply poor public policy for Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars to go toward degrees of such questionable value.

Indeed, a privately funded student loan market would have identified such programs early on and either ceased to provide loans for students who want to pursue, for example, a film degree at NYU, or simply charged higher interest rates commensurate with the likelihood of repayment.

Instead, our accreditation system, which accredits institutions in their entirety, shields students from seeing the true value of individual courses of study at a college or university.

Today, Americans are debating whether or not a college education should be tuition-free, with the cost of education transferred to all taxpayers. With overwhelming evidence that many colleges and universities are saddling students with significant debt, the debate should shift to whether or not federal policies are enabling a system that is failing students.

At the very least, policymakers should reform the federal student loan programs so that taxpayers are no longer financing programs that leave students worse off.

COMMENTARY BY

Mary Clare Amselem is a policy analyst in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

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MIDDLE EAST INTEL REPORT: Iraq/ISIS, Turkey/Libya and Analysis

IRAQ/ISIS

An entity calling itself “The Iraqi Media Security Cell” has announced on twitter that it has just arrested a major lieutenant of the late ISIS leader al-Baghdadi.  This fellow called himself Abu Khaldun, though his real name is Hamid Shakir Saba’ al-Badri.  According to a report on al-arabiyya he was caught by Iraqi police in an apartment in Kirkuk, in the northern part of Iraq.  He was a paternal nephew of al-Baghdadi’s and headed the Islamic State’s intelligence unit.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Iraq, the anti-government and anti-Iranian demonstration are continuing without let-up, particularly in the southern, Shi’a-dominated parts of the country.  This is in spite of the Iranian-backed Shi’a heshd sh’abi (popular militias), and some elements of the regular Iraqi security forces, using live rounds against demonstrators.

In another matter, Iraqi authorities have also reported that 5 rockets have landed inside an American base in Iraq’s western, Sunni-dominated, province of Anbar.  There were no casualties from this attack.  The missiles allegedly came “from a desert area east of the American base.”  A group calling itself “the al-Jazeera and desert operations” claimed responsibility.

COMMENT:  The term “al-jazeera” in Arabic usually means “Island,” but can also have other nuances.  In this case it refers to an area in Northern Syria just south of the Euphrates.  Also, north of the Euphrates is a vast desert region extending into Iraq’s Anbar province which, in the past, was often called “al-Jazeera.”

The above-mentioned group is probably an offshoot of ISIS just trying to prove that they are still around, and still active in the Iraq/Syria theater.

TURKEY/LIBYA

Turkey has just signed a maritime “boundaries” treaty with the Fayez Sirraaj government in Tripoli, Libya.  According to this treaty, both countries “agree” where their “mutual” maritime boundary is, and that both countries have the right to “share” in the economic exploitation (meaning drilling for oil) in each other’s claimed maritime “territory.”

Other agreements were also reportedly signing whereby Turkey promised to step up its already vigorous economic and military aid to the Sirraaj government.

This treaty has been reported on by virtually every Arab and international news entity on the planet, some favorably, others not so favorably.

For example, the headlines for a recent essay on the Saudi-owned www.alarabiyya.net

screamed:  LIBYAN ARMY OFFICIAL TO AL-ARABIYYA NET:  WE WILL NEVER LEAVE LIBYA TO THE TURKS!

Brigadier General Khalid Mahjoub, the director of “moral guidance” in the Libyan national army stressed that no matter how much military support Ankara gives to the armed militias serving the Tripoli side and the latest political leader of the Muslim Brotherhood organization (an off-handed reference to Fayez Sirraaj), the Libyan army will never leave Libya to the Turks.

Gen. Mahjoub added that these recent agreements between Ankara and Tripoli reveal Turkey’s ambitions to expand in Africa and the Mediterranean.  In this regard he warned that Turkey, once it has a foothold, will never withdraw and will try as much as possible to penetrate these areas.

The unnamed author of the al-arabiyya article added that these agreements will open the door for Turkey to send more support to the armed militias allied with it and to enflame the Libyan struggle as well as serving as the doorway for Turkey to exploit Libya’s energy sources and gain control of them.

ANALYSIS

This treaty essentially gives Turkey the right to drill for oil anywhere within Libyan territorial waters–and in the minds of the Turks, anywhere in the eastern Mediterranean.

Needless to say, virtually every Arab country not currently allied to Turkey (as well as Greece) has condemned the treaty.

While the above-mentioned Gen. Mahjoub seemed to believe that Turkey’s main interest in Libya and the rest of Africa has to do with economics and the lust for energy and other resources, any close examination of Turkey’s president Erdogan reveals much more than economic interests in these regions.  This is nothing less than the physical expansion of Turkey and one more step taken in its desire to resurrect the Ottoman Empire, a new caliphate, with Turkey as its head.  Erdogan, in his head, already believes that he is the consecrated Caliph, the successor to Muhammad.  Therefore, all the countries around the Mediterranean basin which were once a part of the old Ottoman Empire, are, by definition, nothing more than provinces of Turkey.  They just haven’t realized that fact yet.

Therefore Turkey believes that it has the right to drill for oil anywhere in the eastern Mediterranean because it believes that it is the re-incarnation of the Ottoman Empire during which time the entire eastern Mediterranean (and most of the western Med. as well) was an Ottoman lake.  Therefore, Turkey is only laying claim to what it believes is its natural right.

Egypt and its Arab allies (including the Haftar movement and its allied parliament in Tabruk) have complained that this “treaty” is illegal because the Sirraaj government of Tripoli controls only the city of Tripoli and therefore has no authority to sign away the rest of Libya’s coastal waters to a foreign power.  Egypt and other countries around the Mediterranean basin also fear that Turkey’s moves threaten their own territorial waters.

Greece has scoffed at the treaty because Turkey and Libya have no geographic justification to sign such a treaty because in between both countries is a huge geographical land mass called Crete which is part of Greece’s national territory–Meaning that the existence of Crete has to be ignored before one can imagine the territorial waters of Turkey and Libya to meet.

But what Greece is forgetting, is that according to Turkish sentiments, Crete, and in fact all of Greece, are nothing more that provinces of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire.

I do believe, also, that NATO, and the pro-West leaders of the Arab world (such as they are), better take a closer look at these Tripoli/Ankara treaties–particularly the clauses stipulating increased Turkish support for the militias fighting on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood Sirraaj government.  These militias, as reported on this site numerous times over the past several months, are essentially left-over ISIS, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and Ansar ash-Shari’a personnel.

In Turkey’s current invasion and occupation of portions of Syria Erdogan has utilized militias composed of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Muslim Brotherhood members which Turkey “captures” then recycles into new militias with different names and then inserts them into what it is now calling “The Syrian National Army.”  These units are currently in the process of conquering Syria for Erdogan’s new Ottoman empire.

Many of the thousands of left-over ISIS fighters in the Syria/Iraq region are currently being rounded up by Turkey, while others are seeking refuge in the territory of their former patron, Turkey.  My fear is that while many of these fighters will be recycled into Erdogan’s “Syrian National Army” for the continued conquest of Syria, others will be sent to Libya as part of the above-mentioned treaty promises of “increased Turkish military aid for the militias serving Tripoli.”

In this regard, I will leave readers with one final note.  Rumors are seeping out of the Turkish prisons where former ISIS fighters are being held saying that “it will start again.”

We will report more on this in future installments.  Stay tuned.

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