Hill Republicans not lining up behind Jeb Bush – Burgess Everett – POLITICO

Jeb Bush’s tentative steps toward a presidential run aren’t exciting anybody on Capitol Hill. 

Republicans in Congress have plenty of nice things to say about Jeb Bush. But influential lawmakers aren’t about to jump on the Bush presidential bandwagon just yet — or bow out of possibly running against him.

GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas all suggested that Bush’s announcement Tuesday that he will “actively” explore a presidential run would not affect their calculations as they eye 2016. Cruz went so far as to pan any relatively moderate Republican nominee that smacks of Mitt Romney, John McCain or Bob Dole.

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Pakistan outraged over school massacre. But will mood tip scales against Taliban? (+video) – CSMonitor.com

Even the bloody school massacre by the Taliban may not be enough to tip Pakistani public opinion against the group.

A day after a massacre of youth by a local Taliban suicide team, social media in Pakistan is full of condemnation and outrage, with many people setting their Facebook pages and Twitter images to a plain black background, the color of grief. 

Three days of official mourning was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after at least seven suicide soldiers killed 147 people, mostly students under 16, at an Army school in Peshawar in the northwest. None of the attackers were caught alive in Monday’s eight-hour killing spree. 

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What big Cuba changes mean to travelers

 

Americans still won’t be able to laze on Cuban beaches, but today’s announcement by the White House of big changes in U.S. relations with the island nation is huge for travelers.

“I almost drove off the road when I heard it this morning,” said Tom Popper, president of Insight Cuba, a travel company in New Rochelle, N.Y., who has fought long and hard to open access to Cuban travel for Americans.

The president’s announcement today will mean:

  • Easier travel to Cuba for individual travelers.
  • American travelers can use credit and debit cards in Cuba.
  • As before, Americans can travel for 12 approved non-tourism reasons — to visit family, educational, religious, trade and more — basically any purpose that’s not lying on the beach.
  • Americans can legally bring back $100 worth of Cuban cigars or rum.

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Forget Obama’s Executive Orders; He’s Wielding Power by Presidential Memoranda Instead: USA Today

Forget all the hullabaloo around Barack Obama’s executive orders, says USA Today’s Gregory Korte. The president’s real action revolves around a different type of action that’s just as powerful but less understood.

President Obama has issued a form of executive action known as the presidential memorandum more often than any other president in history — using it to take unilateral action even as he has signed fewer executive orders.

When these two forms of directives are taken together, Obama is on track to take more high-level executive actions than any president since Harry Truman battled the “Do Nothing Congress” almost seven decades ago, according to a USA TODAY review of presidential documents.

Obama has issued executive orders to give federal employees the day after Christmas off, to impose economic sanctions and to determine how national secrets are classified. He’s used presidential memoranda to make policy on gun control, immigration and labor regulations. Tuesday, he used a memorandum to declare Bristol Bay, Alaska, off-limits to oil and gas exploration….

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North Korea Hacked Sony

U.S. investigators have determined hackers working for North Korea were behind the Sony attack, and an announcement could come as soon as Thursday, U.S. law enforcement sources tell CNN’s Evan Perez. 

Because of the North Korean regime’s tight control of the Internet in the reclusive country, U.S. officials believe the hack was ordered directly by the nation’s leadership.

The hackers have exposed documents from Sony’s servers, including personal information about celebrities and embarrassing emails from executives. They also said that people should avoid going to theaters to see “The Interview,” which is about an attempt to kill North Korea’s leader. 

Sony on Wednesday canceled the film’s December 25 release.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules 8-1 that Citizens Have No Protection Against Fourth Amendment Violations by Police Officers Ignorant of the Law

The court says that a ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but if you’re a cop, a “reasonable mistake” is. 

In a blow to the constitutional rights of citizens, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Heien v. State of North Carolina that police officers are permitted to violate American citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights if the violation results from a “reasonable” mistake about the law on the part of police. Acting contrary to the venerable principle that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” the Court ruled that evidence obtained by police during a traffic stop that was not legally justified can be used to prosecute the person if police were reasonably mistaken that the person had violated the law. The Rutherford Institute had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hold law enforcement officials accountable to knowing and abiding by the rule of law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court’s lone dissenter, warned that the court’s ruling “means further eroding the Fourth Amendment’s protection of civil liberties in a context where that protection has already been worn down.”

 

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Gallup: Hispanics’ Daily Spending Well Above U.S. Average

U.S. Hispanics report spending more on a daily basis than other Americans, which is partly attributable to their greater likelihood of having children living at home

Average Daily Consumer Spending -- by Race and Ethnicity, 2014

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NYC’s would-be teachers flunk literacy test

NYC’s would-be teachers flunk literacy test:

Teacher trainees have to pass a new literacy exam to teach in New York: One third failed statewide and a majority of would-be teachers failed the literacy test at New York City colleges, reports the New York Post.  

The Academic Literacy Skills exam “measures whether a prospective teacher can understand and analyze reading material and also write competently,” reports the Post.

 

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Modern family: Fatherless kids do worse

The children of unmarried mothers do much worse in school and in life, just as Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted in his 1965 report on the black family, conclude Sarah McLanahn and Christopher Jencks in Education Next. Many more children — especially those with less-educated mothers — are growing up in single-parent families.
ednext_XV_2_mclanahan_fig01-small

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Online credits are easy, worthless

When Darren’s math students can’t pass a course, they earn high school credit for an easier online course, he writes on Right on the Left Coast. It’s “educational malpractice,” he argues.

. . . students can pass those online courses, even though they wouldn’t stand a chance of passing the “same” class at our school.  Our school district knows this, too, and still approves such classes for credit.

. . . Our school district also has a computerized “credit recovery” program.  Like “the miracle of summer school,” students who have failed classes — in many cases, failed so many that they’d never graduate on time were it not for credit recovery — can make up their classes via online programs.

. . . I exaggerate only slightly:  a student can read a couple things on the computer screen, answer a couple questions on the next screen about what they just read, and voila! Instant education.

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Mississippi pastor trots out horse in wedding dress to protest gay marriage | Reuters

A Mississippi pastor brought a horse in a wedding dress to stand with him outside a federal courthouse on Friday in Jackson to protest a federal judge’s ruling, currently on hold, to overturn the socially conservative state’s ban on gay marriage.

The horse, complete with white flowers tucked into its harness and a bouquet at its feet, munched grass as the pastor, Edward James of Bertha Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, spoke and waved signs at passersby.

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English Girl Converts to Islam Then Gets Acid Attacked for Breaking-up With Muslim Man

NewImage

An 80-year-old man hired two thugs to throw acid in the face of his ex-girlfriend when he became convinced that the 20-year-old was seeing another man after their relationship ended.

Vikki Horsman was left horribly burned and disfigured after she was doused with the sulphuric acid as she went to answer the door at her friend’s house in Tividale, West Midlands.

 

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10 ways a Republican-led Congress could impact higher ed in 2015 | Education Dive

With Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate in January, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act will be “starting from scratch,” according to Sen. Lamar Alexander, the likely leader of the Senate’s education committee.

The Tennessee Republican is set to become the chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee when the next session convenes. In the House of Representatives, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is expected to continue on as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

As the debate over legislation that controls federal student aid funding begins from square one, here is a primer on Republicans’ viewpoints on 10 higher ed issues:

10 ways a Republican-led Congress could impact higher ed in 2015 | Education Dive.

Gruber apologizes for ‘mean and insulting’ ObamaCare comments | Fox News

Obamacare architect consultant Jonathan Gruber is very, very sorry for insulting the entire U.S. population but still insists that his pet policy is just awesome.

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber tried to explain and even justify his controversial comments about ObamaCare during a profuse apology on Tuesday before a House committee — as Rep. Darrell Issa accused him of creating a false model as part of “a pattern of intentional misleading” to get ObamaCare passed. 

Gruber, himself a well-paid consultant during the drafting of the law, was hammered by Republicans on the House oversight committee at his first appearance on Capitol Hill since videos of his remarks surfaced.

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White House: U.S. prepared for torture report release – Jennifer Epstein and Burgess Everett – POLITICO

According to the White House, “proper security measures are in place” around the world to deal with threats and other fallout from yesterday’s release of the Senate Torture Report.

U.S. targets abroad have been secured and other preparations made to mitigate threats ahead of Tuesday’s expected release of a long-awaited Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation practices, the White House said Monday.

The administration has “taken the necessary precautions and done what is prudent,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. The administration has been “preparing for months” and “proper security measures are in place,” he added.

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Harry Reid: ‘We Never Recovered from the Rollout’ of Obamacare | The Weekly Standard

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.): “We never recovered from the rollout” of Obamacare.

There’s more Obamacare bashing from the political left today. This time it’s from outgoing Senate majority leader Harry Reid. 

As he tells a New York Times reporter:

In hindsight, Mr. Reid said, it was easier to see how damaging the mismanaged rollout of the Affordable Care Act exchanges had been. “We never recovered from the rollout because the election became one that was directed toward the president. We couldn’t overcome that,” he said. Still, he added, “I should have seen it coming.”

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Lawmakers strike deal on $1T funding bill | TheHill

“Congressional leaders on Tuesday evening reached a deal on a nearly $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government funded.”

Congressional leaders on Tuesday evening reached a deal on a nearly $1.1 trillion spending package to keep the government funded.  

Dubbed the “cromnibus,” the package includes 11 appropriations bills to fund most of the government through September 2015, and tacks on a continuing resolution to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 27.

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Detroit bankruptcy over; emergency manager resigning

Detroit will finish the paperwork to exit bankruptcy today, according to the city’s emergency manager.

The city of Detroit’s historic Chapter 9 bankruptcy will end Wednesday, setting in motion a sweeping plan to slash $7 billion in debt and reinvest $1.4 billion over 10 years to improve city services.

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr told reporters that the final paperwork required to allowed the city to emerge from bankruptcy will be completed by the end of the day.

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Committee questions U.S. lapses in Benghazi attack

A House Committee is still trying to get at answers about the security lapses that led to four deaths at the Benghazi consulate in Libya, even though the Obama administration has been cleared of any wrong-doing.

A Republican-led House committee pursued details Wednesday of the deadly attacks in 2012 on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A few weeks ago, an intelligence panel cleared the Obama administration of any wrongdoing.

Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said there are several unanswered questions about U.S. lapses that allowed terrorists to storm the State Department facility, where a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

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Hayden slams Senate report, claims CIA interrogations yielded ‘Home Depot’-sized trove of intel | Fox News

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden insists the agency’s interrogation methods provided a “Home Depot-like storage of information on Al Qaeda” in the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden on Wednesday defended the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation methods, following the release of a Senate report that slammed their tactics as “brutal” and ineffective. 

“These interrogations … gave us kind of a Home Depot-like storage of information on Al Qaeda on which we relied,” Hayden told Fox News. “We are still relying on it today.” 

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Here’s how scary and irresponsible having an $18 trillion national debt really is | Rare

In case you missed it, the country passed a discouraging milestone yesterday. For the first time in history, the US national debt rose above $18 trillion.

Yes, $18 trillion. And of course, this number does not even account for unfunded liabilities. Our national debt is now over 100 percent of the country’s entire economy, or Gross Domestic Product.

via Here’s how scary and irresponsible having an $18 trillion national debt really is | Rare.

The 50% divorce rate stat is a myth, so why won’t it die? – Quartz

The divorce rate in America is rising. Do you think that statement is true? If you do, you’re not alone. As Claire Cain Miller recently pointed out in an article for The New York Times, we hear about the rising divorce rate in the news all of the time. This is curious, because as it happens, the divorce rate isn’t rising.

By most measures, the divorce rate in America has been declining since around 1980. You’d think that something as simple as counting the number of American marriages that end in divorce would not require the qualifier “by most measures,” but it turns out that there is no universally accepted method for doing the counting. For instance, the widely quoted 50% divorce rate in the US probably came from a best-guess prediction that has yet to come true, or from a shortcut method of comparing the number of divorces and marriages in the same year.

The 50% divorce rate stat is a myth, so why won’t it die? – Quartz.

State high school league approves transgender policy | Star Tribune

When educators cannot tell the difference between a boy and a girl, they are no longer fit to educate:

The Minnesota State High School League board approved a new policy for transgender students Thursday morning that will begin with the 2015-16 school year.

Criteria for determining eligibility of transgender students for high school sports teams would be applied in an appeal process that would be overseen by the high school league. Appeals would be heard by an independent hearing officer.

Religious schools will be exempt when the new policy goes into effect in time for the 2015-16 school year.

Eighteen of the 20 board members voice yes. Emmett Keenan, activities director at St. Cloud Cathedral, voted no. Governor-appointed board member Paul McDonald of Ely, participating in his first board meeting, abstained.

State high school league approves transgender policy | Star Tribune.

Scott Gottlieb: ObamaCare’s Threat to Private Practice – WSJ

The payment system is forcing doctors to sell out to hospitals. The trend, and the law, will be unstoppable without reform.

Scott Gottlieb: ObamaCare’s Threat to Private Practice – WSJ.

Half of the Senators who voted for Obamacare won’t be part of new Senate | WashingtonExaminer.com

On Dec. 24, 2009, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed President Obama’s healthcare law with a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority, triggering a massive backlash that propelled Republicans to control of the House the following year. On the Senate side, going into this year’s midterm elections, 25 senators who voted for Obamacare were already out or not going be part of the new Senate being sworn in next month. After Democratic losses on Nov. 4 and Saturday’s defeat of Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., the number has risen to 30. In other words, half of the Senators who voted for Obamacare will not be part of the new Senate.

Half of the Senators who voted for Obamacare won’t be part of new Senate | WashingtonExaminer.com.

Jonathan Gruber testifies before stupid Congress

Liberal disdain for the American people summed up in Gruber.  He just verbalized how most democrats vote:

Gruber’s defense amounted to, “I’m not a politician, and I was using inexcusable language to make myself sound smarter than I really am.” For not being a politician, Gruber was coached masterfully avoided answering questions.

via Jonathan Gruber | stupid Americans | Obamacare | Trey Gowdy.

Interrogation Report

The CIA’s harsh interrogations of detainees during the Bush era didn’t work, were more brutal than previously revealed and delivered no “ticking time bomb” information that prevented a terrorist attack, according to a new Senate report.

The majority report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a damning condemnation of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” — branded as torture by critics — that the George W. Bush administration deployed in the fear-laden days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States. The techniques, according to the report, were “deeply flawed” and often resulted in “fabricated” information.

Anticipating a backlash across the Middle East with the release of the report, thousands of Marines have been put on a higher state of alert.

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Senate to release torture report on Bush-era policies – CNN.com

Parts of the hush-hush Senate Intelligence Committee report on Bush-era “enhanced interrogation tactics” are expected to be released this morning, and officials are promising nasty new details about CIA obfuscation and torture. 

U.S. Marines are on heightened alert. So are the CIA and the White House, for that matter.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle also are ready to enter the fray.

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Ronald Bailey Parses the Costs of Activist Demands for ‘Climate Fairness’

Climate Fair Shares

“We are people who want to tell the truth about the climate crisis, and the truth is that we are on track to a climate disaster,” asserted Alex Rafalowicz at a Friends of the Earth (FOE) press conference at the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP-20) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Monday. So how does FOE think the world gets off the track? By demanding that rich countries fork over their “climate fair shares.” Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey parses the costs of activist demands for “climate fairness” and reports that they are not cheap.

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Obama’s New Web Tax

A Democratic think tank pegs the consumer hit at $17 billion.

Via the WSJ

It’s now almost unanimous: President Obama ’s new plan to regulate the Internet would cost consumers billions. On Monday a leading Democratic think tank warned about the looming tax hike on America’s Internet users.

Harold Furchtgott-Roth, a former commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, has been saying for months that if the Internet is reclassified as a telephone service—as Mr. Obama is urging—Internet users could be forced to pay federal “universal service” fees of up to 16.1%. These fees were initiated decades ago to provide basic phone service, but the services and the number of potential beneficiaries have grown with time.

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