Sunday, January 26, 2014


Scoop: Advanced Copy of Tuesday’s State of The Union Speech

By , Communities Digital News
Watching Obama deliver the State of the Union address at Tommy's Joynt in San Francisco - Image by Steve Rhodes for Flickr (2010)
WASHINGTON, January 26, 2014 – The Obama administration released the text of Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, anticipating a huge response.  It is certainly yet another stunning piece of rhetorical genius that we have come to expect.

Usually kept a secret until it is actually delivered, it is assumed that it will be received unlike any other speech the President has given. Our sources have leaked the following working document:
“My fellow Americans blah blah blah blah blah blah ME blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ME blah blah blah blah ME blah blah blah blah GOVERNMENT MUST blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah  blah blah EVIL TEA PARTY blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah LET ME BE CLEAR blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah EVIL REPUBLICANS blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah TAXES ARE TOO LOW blah blah blah blah blah blah blah I SUPPORT ISRAEL blah blah blah blah INCOME INEQUALITY blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah NEW IDEAS blah blah blah blah blah blah blah EVIL RICH blah blah blah blah OBAMACARE IS WORKING blah blah blah blah blah blah I blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah ME blah blah ME blah blah blah blah blah blah (LONG PAUSE) blah  blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah OBAMACARE IS WORKING blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah  GOVERNMENT CAN blah blah blah blah blah blah blah YOU NEED ME blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah I WILL DO WHAT I WANT IN-SPITE OF CONGRESS blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah CARING blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah CHANGE blah blah blah blah blah blah blah TOMORROW WILL BE GREAT blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah (REPEAT 259 TIMES)”
Obviously, some additional flourishes (but probably not any actual facts) may be added between now and the time of the speech itself, but one way or another, it will certainly be an event not to be missed.
Night Watch

North Korea: The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a report concerning the notice that the Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society sent to the South Korean Red Cross on Friday proposing a resumption of family reunions during the Lunar New Year celebration.

"The notice said: The crucial proposal and open letter of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK to terminate the evermore escalating distrust and confrontation between the north and the south and pave a wide avenue for improving the inter-Korean relations are now positively supported and approved by all Koreans who aspire after the nation's reconciliation and unity and the country's reunification."

"The open letter sent to the south Korean authorities by the NDC of the DPRK in the wake of the crucial proposal made to them on January 16 fully reflects the patriotic decision and noble sense of responsibility of the supreme leadership of the DPRK to put an end to the history of the territorial partition and national split in view of the hard reality to which the Korean nation can no longer remain a passive on-looker and open a fresh phase of national reunification."

The Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society proposed the south side to arrange the reunion of separated families and their relatives from the north and the south with the Lunar New Year's Day as an occasion, prompted by the single desire to open a way of improving the relations between the north and the south in practice as desired and wished by all Koreans at home and abroad…."

"The reunion may take place at Mt. Kumgang Resort as had already been agreed upon between the north-south Red Cross organizations and it is better to fix the date of the event as the south side deems it convenient at the time when cold weather turns warm after the Lunar New Year's Day, taking the time required for arranging it into consideration, the notice pointed out."

"As for other matters, they can be discussed and settled through the Panmunjom Red Cross hotline, the notice said, adding that the north side would look forward to a positive answer from the south side."
Comment: The North's proposal leaves less than week to prepare for the reunions if any are to occur on 31 January, the lunar new year. The proposal is vague on the exact timing of the reunions, suggesting warm weather after 31 January.

Apparently reunions that were prepared but halted last year are to be given priority.

The North's usual intent in such proposals is to drive a wedge between the Seoul government and the people and between South Korea and the Allies. The timing of this fits the recent pattern of reconciliation overtures, but it seems to validate the policy of South Korean President Park.

Another irony is that these are the kinds of actions that the late Chang Sung-taek advocated. South Korea will pay hard currency for the reunions.

The proposal is fragile because in a separate message North Korea warned the South against holding annual Allied exercises on the Korean peninsula. The National Defense Commission statement made it clear that such exercises would show bad faith. The North again urged the Allies to conduct such exercises in the US, or anywhere but the Korean Peninsula.

Pakistan: Update. The treason trial of the former president Musharraf has been delayed again after the special court adjourned to consider his medical report. Lawyers representing Musharraf handed the report to the judges on Friday, 24 January. Justice Faisal Arab, who leads the three-man panel, said the court would retire until Wednesday to review the information.

Defense lawyers also said on Friday that Musharraf wants to go abroad to undergo medical treatment for a heart condition.

Comment: Today's medical report is the second supplied by the military hospital treating Musharraf. Musharraf's defense strategy is to leave Pakistan for medical reasons with court approval. He could easily leave smuggled in a military aircraft, but he wants to leave with dignity, insisting he is innocent.

His departure under any conditions probably is the best outcome for internal stability, but not for the rule of law or the ends of justice.

Egypt: Four bombings took place in and around Cairo on Friday, including a car bomb at the main police headquarters which damaged a nearby museum. The Health Ministry announced that 18 people died and at least 70 and possibly over a100 people were injured. The Ministry blamed the attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Comment: The bombings commemorated the third anniversary of the overthrow of former President Mubarak. They constitute a security lapse, but it is nearly impossible to maintain security considering that the Islamists and jihadists have many sympathizers in the urban and rural population.

The terrorists like to celebrate anniversaries. Thus, it is premature to draw conclusions about insurgency or security trends in Cairo, based on these attacks.

Central African Republic: Update. Heavy gunfire erupted in Bangui after Christian militias allegedly assassinated a prominent Muslim former government minister. Rwandan peacekeepers backed by French forces later came to the scene and began firing their weapons.

According to Ahmadou Tidjani Moussa Naibi, the imam at Central Mosque, "The imams announced that, starting today (Friday), they will let their followers decide themselves which reactions they deem most appropriate to this new provocation."

Comment: The election of a new transitional president has had little effect in calming the sectarian tension. The peacekeeping mission is not keeping the peace. There will be more bloodletting.

End of NightWatch ###

No wonder Facebook is on its way

From Bare Naked Islam


Young people are rapidly deserting Facebook as it is considered a social network for old people now. With policies like this one, I predict, Facebook will become the next MySpace in a few years.

When Barracuda Brigade posted this iconic 9/11 photo, Facebook told them it had been reported as “abusive.” Yet another reason why everyone should abandon Facebook.

Capture fb bs

The health reform law is trying to force $15 an hour workers and their employers to buy more than a million dollars of coverage when they don't have anything like a million dollars in assets to protect. Further, some of these families are being forced to give up "mini-med" plans that paid the first $2,000 or $3,000 of medical bills and enroll in plans with deductibles of $10,000 or more. Why do we need to force a family at this income level need to pay the first $10,000 of medical costs? We don't.

I can think of only two reasons why health insurance is valuable:
1. To protect assets, including the benefits of future wage income.
2. To avoid free ridership.

The public interest is obvious only in the second case.

Suppose other people have insurance but you do not. Instead of paying premiums to an insurer you consume all of your income and live paycheck to paycheck. Then a medical emergency occurs and you end up requiring care you cannot pay for. Result: everyone else in the community ends up paying for your care. Because other people are paying their own way (by insuring), they must consume less each year. Because you are relying on their charity, you get to consume more. That is the problem of free ridership.

What is the least intrusive solution to this problem? The cost of unpaid medical bills in this country is estimated to be about $57 billion. That works out to a little more than $1,000 for every uninsured person. So if we are worried that the uninsured will be willful free riders, the appropriate mandate is a requirement that we all purchase $1,000 worth of insurance every year or pay a fine of $1,000.

People whose income is small enough to qualify for Medicaid or the CHIP program are going to get free care anyway. Years ago, Gene Steuerle and I advocated making the child tax credit claimed by middle- and upper-middle income families conditional on proof of insurance for each child, however.

For adults, we could make $1,000 of the standard deduction conditional on proof of insurance. But there is no reason to require more than this.

What about obtaining insurance to protect assets. Is this a purely private matter, or does society as a whole have some interest in it?

Suppose I choose to be uninsured and I develop an expensive-to-treat chronic illness. I will be expected to pay my medical bills. If I can't, suppose the provider institutions go to court and seize my assets. If a bankruptcy judge determines that I was being irresponsible by not insuring, the judge may garnish future wages as part of the bankruptcy resolution. Once my assets and take-home pay are low enough, I may qualify for Medicaid or free care.

Is this the type of social outcome we are willing to tolerate? Not if you listen to the Physicians for a National Health Program. They become almost apoplectic at the thought of people declaring bankruptcy because of medical bills. Let's note parenthetically that the PNHP greatly exaggerates the problem, ignores a large body of scholarly research, ignores the fact that "medical bankruptcies" are usually the result of loss of work income, not the medical bills themselves, ignores the fact that medical bills bankrupt Canadians at similar rates as U.S. citizens, and ignores the fact that there has been no significant reduction in bankruptcies as a result of health reform in Massachusetts. Perhaps they are still right about the principle, however. Maybe our national psyche can't deal with these outcomes.

If so there is a straightforward solution. Let people insure for the sole purpose of protecting their assets. Suppose a family has assets worth $10,000 and they buy an insurance plan that pays the first $10,000 of medical expenses. Then we should let them exclude the $10,000 of assets in determining whether they are eligible for Medicaid, if they need to apply for help in paying additional medical expenses. We can apply the same principle to income. Suppose the family earns $30,000. Then by buying insurance covering an additional $30,000 of expenses they would be entitled to have their earnings disregarded, should they need to apply for Medicaid. (These numbers could be adjusted for reasonable deductibles, especially if backed by a Health Saving Account.)

The decision to insure in this way could be voluntary. Or if you think that medical bankruptcies are socially intolerable, the purchase could be mandatory. In the latter case, however, the mandate would cost a fraction of the ObamaCare mandate.

Iran: Commander of Islamic Revolution Guards Corps says US will be stunned by offensive power of Islamic Republic

/ Jihad Watch

Jafari“Islam’s leaders have long ago prepared us for a great and decisive confrontation.” He sounds like some kind of Islamophobe. In any case, he hardly sounds like one of those “moderates” whom the mainstream media tell us are now in power in Iran. Jafari has previously said that if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear program, “nothing will remain” of Israel.

“Iran’s Offensive Power to Stun US: IRGC Commander,” from Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, January 25:
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in reaction to threatening remarks by the US secretary of state underlined that the United States will be stunned by the offensive power of the Islamic Republic if it resorts to military action against Iran.
“The US will never understand the Islamic Republic of Iran’s offensive scope,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said.
Speaking Saturday in an exclusive interview with the Tasnim News Agency on the sidelines of a visit to an exhibition showcasing the capabilities of Imam Hussein (AS) University in Tehran, Jafari said the US threats offer the best opportunity for the “revolutionary Islam” as “Islam’s leaders have long ago prepared us for a great and decisive confrontation”.
The IRGC commander referred to the US administration’s massive debts and its inability to resolve the country’s economic problems, and said it seems unlikely that “wise men” in the US administration would allow the “ludicrous” military option to be employed.
Jafari further noted that political experts and security observers in the US consider the military option against Iran to be good “only on the table” but believe that using the option “would not be in the interest of the US national security.”
“The sun of America’s imperialist civilization is nearing its setting,” Major General Jafari said, warning that Washington’s officials will expedite the collapse of their civilization by repeating the implementation of “failed strategies” like using military force.
US Secretary of State John Kerry in an interview on Thursday said that the military option was still on the table if Iran did not live up to its nuclear commitments under the Geneva deal.
Tehran and the G5+1 (also known as P5+1 or E3+3) had on November 24 reached a six-month deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The breakthrough deal, which has come into effect since January 20, stipulates that over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the whole sanctions on Iran.