Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Mentally Ill Patients Would be Starved to Death and Denied Food and Water Under New Oregon Bill — Politically They Are “Progressives”

February 8, 2018
ALEX SCHADENBERG   FEB 6, 2018   |   11:55AM    SALEM, OR

The Oregon legislature is debating a deceptive bill (HB 4135) that is reported as simply “cleaning-up” the Oregon advanced directives legislation, but in fact HB 4135 promotes the withholding or withdrawal of nutrition and hydration (food and water) from people who are incompetent and not necessarily dying.

Even though Oregon legalized assisted suicide 20 years ago, euthanasia is a prohibited. Euthanasia is an act whereby one person directly and intentionally causes the death of another person, whereas assisted suicide is an act whereby one person directly and intentionally assists another person in causing their own death. HB 4135 opens the door to euthanasia of incompetent people in Oregon.

HB 4135 is deceptive and dangerous piece legislation because it is sold as a bill to update current legislation but in fact it changes current legislation to ensure that incompetent people, who may or may not be otherwise dying, can be intentionally killed by dehydration.

Advanced directives are only relevant when a person is incompetent to make decision for themselves. Therefore HB 4135, by definition, does not ensure that competent people can die by dehydration, but rather that incompetent people can be dehydrated to death.

HB 4135 states:

____ I do not want my life to be prolonged by life support. I also do not want tube feeding as life support. I want my health care provider to allow me to die naturally if my health care provider and another knowledgeable health care provider confirm that I am in any of the medical conditions listed below.

So what are the conditions that are listed below?

a. Close to Death.

b. Permanently Unconscious.

c. Advanced Progressive Illness.

d. Extraordinary Suffering.

If a person is incompetent then the person cannot consent to death by dehydration. To withhold fluids, even if the person while competent expressed this desire, dehumanizes the person by denying that person the basic necessaries of life. Withholding or withdrawing fluids from a person, who is not otherwise dying, will cause the person to die by dehydration. Dehydration is often a horrible death, even when the symptoms are masked by analgesics. It is also a form of abandonment to deny a person the basic necessaries of life.

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If a person is actually dying and nearing death, withholding or withdrawing fluids may be appropriate but this decision must be based on a factual assessment that providing fluid has ceased to benefit and may harm the person. We do not oppose withholding or withdrawing fluids from a person, when providing it has become useless, burdensome or without benefit.

HB 4135 opens the door to euthanasia by dehydration of incompetent people in Oregon.

HB 4135 must be defeated. It is dangerous to incompetent people and it specifically promotes death by dehydration.

LifeNews.com Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here. Image is a file photo.

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Marijuana Crackdown by Sessions Leaves GOP Fearing 2018 Backlash

January 6, 2018

Bloomberg

  • Pot politics may affect California, Colorado and Nevada races
  • Democrats see an opportunity to lure younger voters to polls
Image result for marijuana, photos
Enthusiasm High for Legal Pot Sales in California

The Justice Department’s decision to free federal prosecutors to enforce marijuana laws in states that have legalized the drug adds to the political burdens of congressional Republicans trying to hold their House and Senate majorities in an already challenging election year.

An early indication of the issue’s potency was the fierce reaction of Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, a state where voters legalized cultivation and possession in 2012. Gardner, who also is chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, slammed the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “a trampling of Colorado’s rights, its voters.”

“Why is Donald Trump thinking differently than what he promised the people of Colorado in 2016?” Gardner said in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor, evoking Trump’s campaign promise to leave the issue of marijuana legalization to states. “Thousands of jobs at risk, millions of dollars in revenue, and certainly the question of constitutional states rights — very much at the core of this discussion.”

GOP control of Congress hangs in the balance, with all House seats and a third of Senate seats on the ballot in 2018. The question for Republicans is whether complaining publicly about the administration’s decision will be enough to inoculate them from Democratic opponents’ criticism during the campaign.

On Thursday, Sessions rescinded policies adopted by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department that helped states legalize recreational marijuana. The previous approach created guardrails for federal prosecution of the sale and possession of cannabis, which remains illegal under federal law, and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country. Under the new policy, U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal may now prosecute cases where they see fit.

‘Freedom Issue’

The issue looms large in Colorado, Nevada and California, which legalized marijuana and where several congressional Republicans already are facing tough re-election battles. Nevada Senator Dean Heller and Representative Mark Amodei are Democratic targets, as is Colorado Representative Mike Coffman. And some half-dozen GOP-held California House seats are in play, including three rated “toss up” that are represented by Steve Knight, Dana Rohrabacher and Darrell Issa.

“This is a freedom issue,” Rohrabacher said Thursday in a conference call with reporters, calling for a change in federal law to protect legal marijuana in states. “I think Jeff Sessions has forgotten about the Constitution and the 10th Amendment,” which gives powers to the states.

“By taking this benighted minority position, he actually places Republicans’ electoral fortunes in jeopardy,” Rohrabacher said in a statement later Thursday.

The question could motivate Democrats — particularly young people — in November.

David Flaherty, a Colorado-based GOP consultant at Magellan Strategies, said the Justice Department’s decision could lead to a “major backlash and a spike in younger voters” if it disrupts the current system in Colorado. “Folks that are 44 and under here in Colorado are much more comfortable with the legalization of marijuana,” he said.

Flaherty said Colorado Republicans must navigate a GOP primary electorate with as many as half of voters age 65 and older, many of whom want to make marijuana illegal again.

Popular Opinion

Marijuana legalization has grown in popularity: 64 percent of Americans favor it, according to an October 2017 Gallup poll. Support was 57 percent to 37 percent in a Pew Research survey released a year earlier — including a remarkable 71 percent of millennials, currently the largest group of eligible voters in the country.

“Sessions’s move just adds another weight to the ankles of vulnerable House Republicans in places like California and Colorado,” said Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for the Senate Democratic leadership and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “Given the support for decriminalization across political parties, and especially among young voters, this was an issue that progressives already should have been considering for state ballot measures. That is even truer now.”

Gardner — who doesn’t face re-election until 2020– isn’t being shy. He vowed to block Justice Department nominees from being confirmed unless Sessions reverses course. Sessions, a former Alabama senator, said in an April 2016 hearing: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Democrats have struggled for years to turn out voters under 30, who tend to lean left, but there’s some evidence that the issue of marijuana can help. That can be seen in 2012 exit polls in states where pot legalization was on the ballot. The share of the electorate age 18-29 jumped 6 points in Colorado, 5 points in Oregon and 12 points in Washington compared to 2008.

“It’s time for anyone who cares about this issue to mobilize and push back strongly against this decision,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a Democrat who is co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Pot’s Potency

Some Democrats are skeptical about whether the issue will sweep their candidates into office.

“It makes a good talking point, depending on the district and state. With some targeted advertising it could pique peoples’ interest to get to the polls,” said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau. “But I don’t think this works for everybody. Independent soccer moms might not care about it.”

It’s unclear if the Democratic campaign arms will focus on pot in this year’s campaigns. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen, a senator from Maryland, declined to comment Thursday. The House Democrats’ campaign arm didn’t weigh in, either.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California called on Congress to use spending bills to protect Americans who use pot from prosecution. The “decision bulldozes over the will of the American people and insults the democratic process under which majorities of voters in California and in states across the nation supported decriminalization at the ballot box,” she said.

Pelosi’s approach poses a dilemma for Republican leaders. Granting her wish means picking a fight with a GOP administration. But refusing gives Democrats the ability to argue voters should take congressional control out of their hands.

— With assistance by Arit John

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-05/marijuana-crackdown-by-sessions-leaves-gop-fearing-2018-backlash

Jeff Sessions’s Marijuana Candor — Post legalization statistics are worrisome — Federal Law is Federal Law

January 6, 2018

The AG is forcing legalizers to square federal and state law.

A customer browses a selection of marijuana products at MedMen, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Los Angeles, Dec. 21, 2017.
A customer browses a selection of marijuana products at MedMen, a medical marijuana dispensary, in Los Angeles, Dec. 21, 2017. PHOTO:RICHARD VOGEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being lambasted as the uncool parent in Washington, and maybe the universe, for rescinding an Obama Administration directive that decriminalized marijuana in states that have legalized the drug. But even if you’re a legalizer, you should give the AG some credit for forcing a debate on the rule of law that Congress should settle.

The problem is the conflict between state and federal statutes. Eight states have legalized pot for recreational use, and more than half for medical purposes. But under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis is an illegal schedule I drug along with heroin and LSD. Individuals found with even small amounts can go to prison, and making or distributing large quantities carry long sentences and stiff fines.

President Obama tried to dodge this conflict, as he so often did, with an executive diktat. After Colorado and Washington State voted to legalize pot, his Justice Department in 2013 instructed U.S. Attorneys to refrain from prosecuting marijuana offenses in states where the drug is legal. This let him side with the legalizers without taking responsibility for it.

Justice’s guidance expected states to “implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.” Its memo also ordered attorneys to prioritize preventing distribution to minors, diversion to other states or using marijuana as a cover for trafficking in other drugs.

In practice, this has meant few federal pot prosecutions in those states despite evidence of all of those problems and more. Colorado has the highest rate of first-time youth marijuana use in the country. Alaska and Oregon ranked third and seventh after they legalized in 2014. According to Smart Approaches to Marijuana, cannabis use among young people has increased by 65% in Colorado since legalization.

Drug traffickers have exploited the aegis of state laws, which has let the black market flourish. A police report in Oregon revealed that 70% of marijuana sales in 2016 occurred on the black market, and up to 900 tons more cannabis is produced than consumed in the state. Mexican cartels have moved into Alaska.

The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area reported a more than 700% increase in postal marijuana seizures following legalization. The crime rate in Colorado has increased 11 times faster than in other large cities since legalization. A National Institutes of Health study has linked the density of marijuana dispensaries to increased property crime.

Many pot sellers evade state regulation because of hefty compliance costs and taxes. Law enforcement in California reports that only a fraction of pot growers have applied for permits. Drugged-driving fatalities doubled in Washington following legalization. Positive drug tests for marijuana in 2016 increased at more than double the rate in Colorado and Washington as nationwide.

We report all this because the legalization debate has been dominated by a haze of cultural sentiment largely devoid of facts, and the promises by advocates about reduced enforcement costs and crime haven’t materialized. Meanwhile, the failure to enforce federal law, and letting states ignore it, erodes confidence in the law and lets Congress duck a debate on legalization.

Federal law trumps state law under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause except on core state powers, and the Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich (2005) that the feds can prosecute marijuana offenses under the Commerce Clause. We disagreed with Raich, but it is the law and states can’t nullify federal laws.

***

Presidents also can’t suspend the enforcement of laws simply because they don’t like them. King James II tried that and spurred the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Mr. Sessions is right to enforce the law and restore prosecutorial discretion. The AG has directed U.S. Attorneys to follow the “well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions” including weighing “all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community.”

Justice shouldn’t spend scarce resources prosecuting potheads who grow a few plants in their backyard. Since marijuana has sprouted into a multi-billion dollar industry, prosecutors are also unlikely to target mom-and-pop businesses that are following state laws and not exporting cannabis. In that sense Mr. Session’s guidance may encourage increased compliance with state laws.

Social mores are changing, and a majority of Americans support legalizing pot. But instead of taking the cop-out of blaming Mr. Sessions, legalizers in Congress ought to have the courage of their convictions and try to decriminalize pot nationwide. Let Senators Cory Gardner and Kamala Harris persuade their colleagues that what’s good for Colorado and California is good for the country.

Appeared in the January 6, 2018, print edition.

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/jeff-sessionss-marijuana-candor-1515197282

Amtrak derailment: Train was traveling at 80 mph in 30-mph zone

December 19, 2017

NBC News — DEC 19 2017, 3:44 AM ET

The train that careened off a bridge outside Tacoma, Washington, killing three people was traveling at 80 mph on a 30-mph stretch of track, federal investigators confirmed late Monday.

During a late-night briefing with reporters, NTSB board member Bella Dinh-Zarr added that Train 501 of Amtrak’s Cascades service from Seattle headed south to Portland, Oregon, was carrying 80 passengers, three crew and two service personnel.

Washington State Police spokesman Dan Hall earlier said that 72 people were taken to hospitals after the 7:33 a.m. PT crash following the opening of a highly touted new rail link. Five cars and a pair of trucks were involved in the highway pileup, but no motorists were killed, officials said.

It was unclear if the dead were passengers or crew. Hall said that 10 of the wounded remained in serious condition and one was medevacked to a trauma center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, roughly 50 miles away.

 Official: ‘Multiple fatalities’ reported, exact number unknown1:46

In a statement, Amtrak said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries” and working closely with victims and their families.

“There is a thorough investigation underway to determine what happened,” the statement said. “The investigation will be conducted by [the National Transportation Safety Board], and we will cooperate fully with all authorities. At this time, we will not speculate about the cause, and we encourage others not to speculate as well.”

Earlier, an Amtrak official said the train was not using a technology called positive train control, which can prevent derailments caused by excessive speed.

Related: Deadliest Train Crashes in the U.S. Over the Past 25 Years

The train was traveling on newly refurbished tracks that are part of a new route designed to offer speedier service south of Tacoma. Some local leaders had expressed concerns about the project, saying it was dangerous for high-speed trains to operate so close to a highway.

Passenger Chris Karnes told MSNBC that the train had just passed the city of Dupont when it jumped the tracks.

“At a certain point the train started to wobble a little bit, and the next thing that we knew we were down in a ditch,” Karnes, a member of a local transportation advisory group, said. “The train had crumpled.”

 ‘Totally shocking’: Reporter describes riding train before derailment 3:31

He spoke as a rescue operation was still underway, describing injured people being lifted out of the wreckage.

In recordings of emergency radio conversations, a member of the train crew told a dispatcher briefly what happened.

“We were coming around the corner to take the bridge over I-5 there, uh, right north of Nisqually and we went on the ground,” the crew member said.

By then, rescue workers had started arriving.

“When we got to the scene it was obvious that there were some fatalities and there were a lot of injuries and some people were able to get off the train,” Detective Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, told reporters. “Multiple cars and trucks were struck by train cars that left the train tracks and went down onto the road.”

Play

 Local Mayor: Community was concerned about 501 rail line5:05

Troyer said that even though the crash site was “pretty horrific,” no one in any of the vehicles was killed. “The fatals are all contained to the train,” he said.

One witness, Kolter Raudebauga, told NBC affiliate KING that the train seemed to have “nosedived,” leaving it “dangling off the ramp there, off the track.”

Another witness, Dan Konzelman, told MSNBC that he climbed onto the tracks after the crash and joined others helping victims while waiting for emergency crews to arrive.

“Some of them couldn’t move they had neck or back injuries, so we assigned people to stay there with them and keep them calm,” Konzelman said. “And then we worked our way down to more serious injuries where people were pinned underneath the trains that had flipped upside down, and unfortunately there were some deceased.”

Amtrak service south of Seattle was temporarily suspended, the company said.

Map: Amtrak train 501 derailed near Mounts Road in Pierce County

Amtrak train 501 derailed near Mounts Road in Pierce County, Washington.

The derailment happened on a newly established Amtrak route aimed at adding more frequent, more reliable and faster service between Seattle and Portland, part of an $800 million project called the Cascades High-Speed Rail Capital Program.

The new route, called the Point Defiance Bypass Project, was billed as an improvement over lines that hugged the scenic Puget Sound but included tight curves and single-track tunnels. The new route uses an existing rail line that runs along Interstate 5 from south Tacoma through Dupont before reconnecting with the main line. The improvements also included a new Amtrak station in Tacoma.

The tracks on the bypass, previously owned by BSNF Railway and used for freight and military transport, were taken over and refurbished by SoundTransit, a local transportation agency, as part of the rerouting project, officials said. The Cascades service is jointly owned by the state transportation departments in Washington and Oregon, with Amtrak running the service as a contractor and maintaining responsibility for day-to-day operations.

Related: Engineer charged in deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia

Don Anderson, mayor of Lakewood, a city along the new route, said he was among many in the area concerned about the speed of the trains that would be traveling through their communities. He said he was part of an unsuccessful bid to stop the switch, or change it.

“Our community has been very concerned about the safety of this modification of the rail route for several years,” Anderson told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.

President Donald Trump first tweeted that the crash was a reason to support his planned infrastructure bill.

The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!

The president soon followed up by tweeting: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the train accident in DuPont, Washington. Thank you to all of our wonderful First Responders who are on the scene. We are currently monitoring here at the White House.”

On the prior route, along the Puget Sound, an Amtrak Cascades service train derailed in July with 267 people on board as it approached a drawbridge, leaving several injured.

On Monday night, another Amtrak train traveling from Chicago to San Antonio, Texas, slammed into a semi-truck south of Austin, though none of the 150 passengers or crew on board were injured, NBC affiliate KXAN reported.

A spokesman for Union Pacific, which owns the railroad tracks the train was traveling on, told the station the truck did not clear the area before it was struck. The rear of section of its trailer was destroyed.

Monday’s Washington State crash was the first railway accident with multiple fatalities since May 12, 2015, when an Amtrak train derailed outside Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. Three months before, a Metro-North Railroad train hit an SUV on a crossing in Valhalla, New York, killing the car’s driver and five on the train.

See more includes videos:
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https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/amtrak-derailment-train-crashes-near-tacoma-washington-n830751

With monument reductions, Trump enflames century-old debate

December 5, 2017

America’s unique relationship with public lands has long been a source of pride – and strife.

Andrew Cullen/Reuters
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Staff writer |

President Trump unleashed the latest salvo Monday in a long-running battle over how America’s public lands should be treated.

In a stark contrast to recent presidents who have sought to leave a lasting legacy by creating national monuments, Mr. Trump plans to drastically reduce two of the monuments created by his predecessors. His action – which is expected to be challenged in court – will be a test of whether, in fact, he has the power to do so.

But, while Trump’s actions tread new legal ground, the underlying tensions at play in this current battle over America’s public lands stretch back more than a century. At the heart of these tensions lies both a shared sense of pride in America’s so-called natural cathedrals and a fundamental disagreement over how land use should be regulated.

“This is a reflection of the ongoing tug-of-war over preservation of resources and lands, and multiple-use activities” on those lands, says Robert Keiter, a law professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and director of the Wallace Stegner Center of Land, Resources, and the Environment.

National parks are often cited as “America’s best idea,” but Professor Keiter notes that simply reserving vast tracts of lands in the public domain as national forests, an action which began in the late 19th century, was also a pretty radical step at the time. But while Americans historically have had a great deal of pride in those public lands, there has also been long-standing pushback from some Westerners both about the amount of land in the public domain and the way in which it’s used – a battle over use that Trump is wading into with the Utah monuments.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump’s announcement Monday in Salt Lake City has been long anticipated, and affects two national monuments in southern Utah, both of which have been controversial: Bears Ears, a 1.35 million-acre monument designated by President Barack Obama a year ago at the urging of five area Native American tribes; and Grand Staircase-Escalante, a 1.9 million-acre monument designated by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The presidential proclamations that Trump signed Monday turn Bears ears into two small monuments of 130,000 acres and 72,000 acres (an 85 percent reduction) and divide Grand Staircase-Escalante into three smaller monuments of 210,000 acres, 550,000 acres, and 240,000 acres, cutting the total protected space nearly in half.

A century-old dispute

Since the Antiquities Act was signed in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, monuments have occupied a unique niche in American lands. They’re the only means by which a president, rather than Congress, can opt to protect lands, and 16 presidents have used the act to create more than 150 monuments, many of which later became some of America’s most iconic national parks.

The tension over how America’s public lands are used has its roots in the Western expansion of the 19th century, when settlers and companies hoping to make a profit looked to the vast mineral deposits and forests and grazing lands in the West as a potential bonanza, without many checks on use – practices that often led to rapid overgrazing, clearcutting, and degradation of lands that at one point seemed limitless. The notion that land should be set aside for something other than economic use was a fairly radical one at the time, and reflects the degree to which many Americans viewed their breathtaking vistas as a point of national pride: natural cathedrals as their answer to Europe’s treasured cathedrals.

“There was appropriate concern, maybe even despair, in the late 19th century over the outcome of full-out resource extraction and unrestrained land use,” says Patty Limerick, director of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado in Boulder. But there was also, she notes, plenty of opposition among some Westerners to the idea of setting aside land for preservation, or even keeping such large tracts public. “There were some unmistakable currents of resistance 120 years ago,” says Professor Limerick. “Episodically, those currents of resistance seem to surge, and a movement that seems to echo previous movements comes into view.”

These tensions tend to bubble up anew at regular intervals, albeit with different constituencies and triggers each time. There was the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, the “wise-use movement” that gained traction in the late 1980s and ’90s, and the recent altercations over grazing rights that have been symbolized by the Bundy family and the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016. The common element tends to be a growing sense that Westerners’ rightful use of public lands is being curtailed by a federal government overstepping its bounds. “Traditional users often see public lands as ‘their’ lands,” notes Mark Squillace, a professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder.

While the context and circumstances have changed over the decades, at its heart, the tensions revolve around a fundamental disagreement over how land use should be regulated. Should public lands be exploited for “multiple use” – which often means mining, drilling, grazing, forestry, and other traditional extractive activities? Or preserved for natural beauty and low-impact recreational activities, as has increasingly been the emphasis in recent decades? While monuments – including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante – are open to the public and often allow some traditional uses like grazing and hunting to continue, they generally close off the protected area to new drilling or mining leases. (The restrictions are specific to each particular monument.)

“Over the last half century we have moved progressively and noticeably toward the protection of public lands in the West, as reflected in the Wilderness Act of 1964 and all the various national parks and [monument] designations that have occurred,” says Keiter. Currently, he says, close to 40 percent of the public land in 11 Western states is in some sort of legally protected status: parks, monuments, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, roadless areas, refuges. The general public has endorsed that shift, Keiter says. But “that sentiment and action has been met with mixed results in various Western states.”

Conflicted pride?

Utah has been an epicenter of the latest battle over monuments, and its legislators have been the most vocal in urging Trump to shrink or eliminate certain monuments. But Professor Squillace and others note that four of Utah’s “mighty five” parks – which are a foundation of the state’s tourism industry and a source of great pride for Utahns – started as monuments.

When former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) introduced a bill in January to sell 3.3 million acres of federal lands in the West, he was forced to withdraw it days later by his Republican constituents, many of whom regularly hunt and fish on those lands. Perceived threats to federal lands over the past year have resulted in huge rallies at statehouses in conservative states – including Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming – as local residents, many of them anglers and hunters, voiced their support of public lands.

On Saturday, thousands turned out in Salt Lake City to protest Trump’s anticipated actions on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, while a smaller rally gathered at a different location to thank Trump for those actions.

What remains unclear is whether Trump actually has the power to reduce these monuments. While some conservative legal scholars say he does, other law experts don’t believe that’s the case. The conservative argument claims that the Antiquities Act – in giving broad powers to create monuments – implies those powers can also be used to reduce or eliminate monuments. And it looks at the precedent of several past presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and Howard Taft, who reduced monuments.

None of those reductions were ever challenged in court, however, and none have occurred since passage of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, which many legal experts believe even more explicitly limits presidential powers to revoke or reduce monuments.

“It’s a relatively straightforward legal issue the court will have to confront, about whether the president has the authority to alter a decision on a national monument by a predecessor,” says Squillace. “The Antiquities Act appears to grant only that one-way authority to grant the land.”

Squillace and others say the outcome of the court challenge will have long-range impacts not just for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase and their surrounding communities, but also for how monuments are approached in the future. In particular, they worry about a scenario in which subsequent Democratic and Republican administrations opt to create and un-create each other’s monuments, with the lands becoming a sort of partisan yo-yo. “It creates a real potential roller coaster with respect to managing these public lands,” says Squillace.

https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/1204/With-monument-reductions-Trump-enflames-century-old-debate

Trump weighs mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups (White House Denied This Report — DHS confirms it is 100% false)

February 17, 2017

Trump weighs mobilizing Nat Guard for immigration roundups

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the AP report was “100 percent not sure” and “irresponsible.” ”There is no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants,” he said.

Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.” It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

Requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.

The draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.

If implemented, the impact could be significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump’s executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other unauthorized immigrants.

The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.

Spokespeople for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate. The other three states did not immediately respond to the AP.

The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program that President Barack Obama’s administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.

The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump’s executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort would be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.

In the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush twice deployed Guard troops on the border to focus on non-law enforcement duties to help augment the Border Patrol as it bolstered its ranks. And in 2010, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced a border security plan that included Guard reconnaissance, aerial patrolling and military exercises.

In July 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border when the surge of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America overwhelmed U.S. officials responsible for their care. The Guard troops’ stated role on the border at the time was to provide extra sets of eyes but not make arrests.

Bush initiated the federal 287(g) program — named for a section of a 1996 immigration law — to allow specially trained local law enforcement officials to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and check whether people held in local jails were in the country illegally. ICE trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out those checks from 2006 to 2015.

The memo describes the program as a “highly successful force multiplier” that identified more than 402,000 “removable aliens.”

But federal watchdogs were critical of how DHS ran the program, saying it was poorly supervised and provided insufficient training to officers, including on civil rights law. Obama phased out all the arrest power agreements in 2013 to instead focus on deporting recent border crossers and immigrants in the country illegally who posed a safety or national security threat.

Trump’s immigration strategy emerges as detentions at the nation’s southern border are down significantly from levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, the arrest tally was the fifth-lowest since 1972. Deportations of people living in the U.S. illegally also increased under the Obama administration, though Republicans criticized Obama for setting prosecution guidelines that spared some groups from the threat of deportation, including those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Last week, ICE officers arrested more than 680 people around the country in what Kelly said were routine, targeted operations; advocates called the actions stepped-up enforcement under Trump.

___

The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org

Follow Garance Burke on Twitter at @garanceburke

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– The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four —  Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the AP report was “100 percent not sure” and “irresponsible.” “There is no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants,” he said.

Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.

While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The memo is addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would serve as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders.

Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized “to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States.” It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants.

Requests to the White House and the Department of Homeland Security for comment and a status report on the proposal were not answered.

The draft document has circulated among DHS staff over the last two weeks. As recently as Friday, staffers in several different offices reported discussions were underway.

If implemented, the impact could be significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.

Use of National Guard troops would greatly increase the number of immigrants targeted in one of Trump’s executive orders last month, which expanded the definition of who could be considered a criminal and therefore a potential target for deportation. That order also allows immigration agents to prioritize removing anyone who has “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.”

Under current rules, even if the proposal is implemented, there would not be immediate mass deportations. Those with existing deportation orders could be sent back to their countries of origin without additional court proceedings. But deportation orders generally would be needed for most other unauthorized immigrants.

The troops would not be nationalized, remaining under state control.

Spokespeople for the governors of Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Oregon and New Mexico said they were unaware of the proposal, and either declined to comment or said it was premature to discuss whether they would participate. The other three states did not immediately respond to the AP.

The proposal would extend the federal-local partnership program that President Barack Obama’s administration began scaling back in 2012 to address complaints that it promoted racial profiling.

The 287(g) program, which Trump included in his immigration executive order, gives local police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers the authority to assist in the detection of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally as a regular part of their law enforcement duties on the streets and in jails.

The draft memo also mentions other items included in Trump’s executive order, including the hiring of an additional 5,000 border agents, which needs financing from Congress, and his campaign promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The signed order contained no mention of the possible use of state National Guard troops.

According to the draft memo, the militarization effort would be proactive, specifically empowering Guard troops to solely carry out immigration enforcement, not as an add-on the way local law enforcement is used in the program.

Allowing Guard troops to operate inside non-border states also would go far beyond past deployments.

In addition to responding to natural or man-made disasters or for military protection of the population or critical infrastructure, state Guard forces have been used to assist with immigration-related tasks on the U.S.-Mexico border, including the construction of fences.

In the mid-2000s, President George W. Bush twice deployed Guard troops on the border to focus on non-law enforcement duties to help augment the Border Patrol as it bolstered its ranks. And in 2010, then-Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced a border security plan that included Guard reconnaissance, aerial patrolling and military exercises.

In July 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border when the surge of migrant children fleeing violence in Central America overwhelmed U.S. officials responsible for their care. The Guard troops’ stated role on the border at the time was to provide extra sets of eyes but not make arrests.

Bush initiated the federal 287(g) program — named for a section of a 1996 immigration law — to allow specially trained local law enforcement officials to participate in immigration enforcement on the streets and check whether people held in local jails were in the country illegally. ICE trained and certified roughly 1,600 officers to carry out those checks from 2006 to 2015.

The memo describes the program as a “highly successful force multiplier” that identified more than 402,000 “removable aliens.”

But federal watchdogs were critical of how DHS ran the program, saying it was poorly supervised and provided insufficient training to officers, including on civil rights law. Obama phased out all the arrest power agreements in 2013 to instead focus on deporting recent border crossers and immigrants in the country illegally who posed a safety or national security threat.

Trump’s immigration strategy emerges as detentions at the nation’s southern border are down significantly from levels seen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, the arrest tally was the fifth-lowest since 1972. Deportations of people living in the U.S. illegally also increased under the Obama administration, though Republicans criticized Obama for setting prosecution guidelines that spared some groups from the threat of deportation, including those brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Last week, ICE officers arrested more than 680 people around the country in what Kelly said were routine, targeted operations; advocates called the actions stepped-up enforcement under Trump.

Hillary Clinton Has An ObamaCare Problem

June 1, 2016

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By Peter Sullivan – 05/30/16 06:00 AM EDT
The Hill

Hillary Clinton is facing the problem of higher ObamaCare premium hikes in an election year.

ObamaCare premiums are expected to rise more sharply than they have in previous years, and Republicans are seizing on the issue for electoral advantage.

“Despite premium hikes under ObamaCare, Clinton continues to take credit for the law on the campaign trail,” the Republican National Committee wrote in a recent email, above a compilation of headlines about steep proposed increases.

Donald Trump and Senate Republicans discussed ObamaCare premium hikes at a private meeting this month and agreed they could help the GOP in the election.
And Republican senators took turns heading to the Senate floor this month to denounce ObamaCare premium hikes.

“Maybe Democrats think the middle class should just get over double-digit premium increases,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Maybe Democrats think it’s funny that millions of Americans lost their plans because of ObamaCare. Republicans think we should work toward better care instead.”

Clinton has acknowledged that high costs remain a problem under ObamaCare, while defending the health law and its benefits overall.

“I think that the Affordable Care Act is a big step forward for the vast majority of Americans, but we have to look at out of pocket costs, co-pays, deductibles, premiums,” Clinton said at a roundtable discussion this month when a woman asked her about her premium increasing by $500.

When asked by another woman about premium hikes in March, Clinton noted at a CNN town hall that ObamaCare “has done a lot of really good things, but it has become increasingly clear that we are going to have to get the costs down.”

ObamaCare premiums likely won’t be the most prominent issue in a campaign that’s seen Trump often dominate the news cycle with brash statements about any manner of topics.

And Trump has his own vulnerabilities on healthcare. He has tacked between different positions on issues. An analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget also found that his plan would lead to 21 million people losing their health insurance because it would repeal the coverage gains from ObamaCare.

Still, as proposed ObamaCare premium increases roll in, they are gaining attention.

Democratic strategist Brad Bannon said the premium increases are “a real problem, because Americans, I think, expected there’d be some sort of leveling off in [the cost of] healthcare insurance.”

“But at the same time, they see good things about [ObamaCare],” he added. “That’s why I think public opinion is so evenly split.”

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in January found that 44 percent of the public had an unfavorable view of the law, while 41 percent had a favorable view. That is an improved picture for Democrats from 2010 or even 2014.

More recently, though, the unfavorables have ticked back up due to Democrats unhappy the law does not go further, the Kaiser Family Foundation found.

Bannon also noted that more of the public wants to improve the law, rather than completely repeal it, as Republicans call for.

The Kaiser poll found that 30 percent want to expand the law, 14 percent want to keep it as is, 11 percent want to scale it back, and 32 percent want to repeal it completely.

Clinton is with those trying to improve the law, which could give her cover with voters.

Many of her solutions tack to the left. Most prominently, she supports the “public option,” a government-run health insurance alternative to increase competition.

She said it could take the form of allowing people to buy into Medicare once they reach age 50 or 55 at a roundtable this month. Because the eligible people tend to have higher health costs, shifting them out of the private market and into Medicare could lower costs for everyone else, she noted.

Clinton has also proposed measures including a new tax credit to help people with out of pocket costs and “vigorously” enforcing antitrust laws to crack down on health insurance company mergers that would reduce competition.

But the size of premium increases could still spell trouble.

ObamaCare premiums are expected to rise more this year in part because insurers initially set their premiums too low. The pool of enrollees has been smaller and sicker than expected and many insurers now need to raise premiums to stop losing money.

An analysis from the consulting firm Avalere Health last week found that early data from nine states indicate an average 16 percent premium increase, compared to about 6 percent at this point last year.

There are examples of even bigger increases. Providence Health Plan, one of Oregon’s largest insurers, is seeking a 29.6 percent increase.

There are important caveats, though. The numbers are only proposed increases, and state regulators have the power to review and reject them before they become final. Even if they do go into effect, ObamaCare’s financial assistance caps the percentage of income that most enrollees have to pay, so most people have a cushion against premium increases.
Democrats are ready to employ those arguments to defend Clinton.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made these points on Thursday in response to McConnell’s attacks, and noted that ObamaCare has driven the uninsured rate to a record low of 9.1 percent.

“I’m so happy to have my friend talk about ObamaCare,” Reid said of McConnell. “I’m happy to have him talk about that because he’s making himself not look very good, and that is a gross understatement.”

TAGS:Hillary Clinton, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Harry Reid

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/281579-hillarys-obamacare-problem

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UnitedHealth Is Ditching Obamacare’s California Market

by Sy Mukherjee @the_sy_guy JUNE 1, 2016, 5:17 PM EDT
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But its stake in the state was pretty minor

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UnitedHealth UNH 0.64% , America’s biggest health insurer, is leaving Obamacare in the nation’s most populous state. But how much that will ultimately matter is a more open question.

The insurance giant announced in April that it was planning to abandon all but a “handful” of the 36 statewide individual insurance marketplaces where it sells Affordable Care Act plans. Details were sparse at the time, but the company has now revealed that it will sell full plans in just three states (Nevada, New York, and Virginia) and provide more limited offerings in another three (Georgia, Illinois, and Florida) through a subsidiary in 2017, according to postings reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. One highlight departure is from the Golden State’s Obamacare market, Covered California.

….

 

UnitedHealth is known for its dominant position in the large group and employer insurance sector. But it’s been staring down mounting losses for its Obamacare individual plans. Big insurers such as Humana HUM 2.83% have also contemplated leaving some of the health law exchanges in the wake of fiscal and regulatory uncertainty; competitors like Anthem ANTM 0.26% and Aetna AET 1.82% are planning to keep their skin in the game; and many market participants are planning big premium spikes for 2017.

Click here to subscribe to our new Brainstorm Health Daily Newsletter.

But UnitedHealth’s California exodus may not ultimately have an outsize effect on the Obamacare market given the insurer’s very recent and small-scale entry into the exchange. Covered California spokesperson James Scullary noted the firm began offering Obamacare plans just last year after avoiding the state’s marketplace for its first two years—and had a total of about 1,200 Covered California customers in 2016 (that’s out of 1.4 million consumers on the exchange).

“We had made it clear that we weren’t going to have any new health insurer entries for the first couple years [of Obamacare’s marketplaces], Scullary told Fortune in an interview. “We were going to give those companies that took the plunge the opportunity to establish their risk pools and have stability in the market. And then in year three, we look to expand into regions where we needed expansion. That included bringing UnitedHealth in to help steer some of our more rural areas. Then, they would have had the opportunity to expand statewide if they wanted to for 2017.”

Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Kaiser Permanente, and HealthNet make up the majority of California’s Obamacare marketplace.

“This doesn’t affect other California businesses,” said a UnitedHealth spokesperson in response to Fortune‘s request for comment. “As our CEO stated last year and as recently as last month, we have been evaluating public exchanges on a state-by-state basis.”

“We have maintained a regular public dialogue since November about the individual exchange market, and how our own experience and performance have been unfavorable in these markets,” the spokesperson added. “The smaller overall market size and shorter term, higher risk profile within this market segment continue to suggest we cannot broadly serve it on an effective and sustained basis.”

Includes video:
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http://fortune.com/2016/06/01/unitedhealth-leaving-ca-obamacare/

Related:

Intel to lay off 12,000 workers; 11% of workforce in big shift from PCs

April 20, 2016

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By Elizabeth Weise, USA Today

SAN FRANCISCO — Intel will lay off 11% of its global workforce, up to 12,000 employees, a painful downsizing aimed at accelerating its shift away from the waning PC market to one more focused on cloud computing and connected devices.

In an email to employees, CEO Brian Krzanich said that after the restructuring, “I am confident that we’ll emerge as a more productive company with broader reach and sharper execution.”

Intel CFO Stacy Smith said that half the workforce reduction, 6,000 people, will be accomplished by the end of this year.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel currently has about 112,400 employees worldwide. Because the shift is going to be “very, very difficult for the employee base,” Smith, in an interview with USA TODAY, declined to say where the majority of the layoffs would occur.

The layoffs will have an outsized effect on Oregon and especially the Portland area. Intel is Oregon’s largest private employer, with 18,500 working at six campuses west of Portland, according to the company. The sites are one of the main anchors of the state’s economy.

Its second largest site is in Chandler, Arizona, where it has more than 11,000 employees.

Intel said it expects the layoffs to deliver $750 million in savings in 2016 year and an annual run rate savings of $1.4 billion by mid-2017. The company will record a one-time charge of approximately $1.2 billion in the second quarter, it said.

Analysts had said layoffs were long overdue.

“It’s been a long time since there’s been a restructuring of the company. As they forge forward, they need to pare down and invest in the right area. As much as I hate that — it’s terrible for people who are laid off that — for the investors its positive,” Betsy Van Hees, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, ahead of the announcement.

Intel plans to focus on its data center and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses, which it called its primary growth engines, along with memory and field programmable gate arrays.

PC RETREAT

The company had long made money making chips for PCs, but industry sales have dropped precipitously in recent years, falling 10% in the first quarter.

For Intel, growth in its new business areas made up 40% of the company’s revenue in 2015, which helped offset the decline in PC sales, it said.

Intel (INTC) shares fell 3% in after-hours trading on the news.

News of the layoffs came as Intel reported higher profits than predicted by analysts, though growth was modest.

Intel made $2.05 billion, or 42 cents a share, in the first three months of the year, 3% up from $1.99 billion, or 41 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding certain items, it reported earnings per share of 54 cents, higher than the  48 cents per share forecast by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Revenue rose 7% to $13.7 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $13.83 billion. For the second quarter, Intel forecast revenue of $13.5 billion, which fell short of analyst estimates of $14.16 billion.

The company also announced that current CFO Smith will be taking on a broader new role within Intel, moving to lead sales, manufacturing and operations. The company will conduct a search for a new CFO, Krzanich said.

Intel’s coming layoffs will affect sites across the country.

Intel  has approximately 12,500 employees in California at two large sites, its headquarters in Santa Clara and in Folsom, as well as smaller research and development sites in Irvine and San Diego.

The company also employees about 2,300 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, 1,700 in Hudson, Mass., 2,300 in Austin and Plano, Texas and 1,000 in Bellevue, Wash.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2016/04/19/intel-layoffs-12000-11/83242832/

President Obama’s Interview With “60 Minutes”

October 12, 2015

Steve Kroft asks President Obama about the crisis in Syria, mass shootings — and what he thinks of Donald Trump

President Obama was interviewed on “60 Minutes” in an episode which aired on Sunday, October 11, 2015,

With the end of his second term on the horizon, President Obama spoke to 60 Minutes this week, reflecting on his achievements — and on the problems not yet solved. At the top of that list is the protracted crisis in Syria, where more than 250,000 people have died, according to UN reports, and some 12 million have been forced from their homes.

Correspondent Steve Kroft asks President Obama about the lack of progress in Syria, but Obama says improvement takes time. “In a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren’t any silver bullets,” he says.

One of those players, Kroft points out, is Russia, which recently stepped up airstrikes and naval bombardments in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. President Putin “is challenging your leadership, Mr. President,” Kroft says.

Obama disagrees. “Steve, I’ve got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in in order to prop up your only ally, is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership,” he says.

Kroft and Obama discuss domestic issues as well, including gun violence. At a press conference after last week’s mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon, Obama urged the country to do more to prevent these tragedies.

In the unaired clip below, Kroft asks the president if he can personally make a difference. Obama acknowledges that his options are limited.

From CBS News, contains several videos:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/highlights-outtakes-from-obama-60-minutes-interview/

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From Business Insider

President Barack Obama’s interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” was anything but smooth.

During an interview that primarily covered Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East, correspondent Steve Kroft was combative with Obama, repeatedly asking questions about his strategy on Syria and ISIS and the administration’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent military maneuvers.

Kroft interrupted the President multiple times to challenge his answers, which seemed to genuinely perturb Obama.

One of the more interesting exchanges occurred when Kroft told Obama that Putin “seems to be challenging [Obama’s] leadership.”

Obama tried to make the case that Putin’s actions come from a source of weakness, rather than strength. Kroft quickly disagreed.

“He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership,” Kroft repeated.

Obama cut him off to give his definition of leadership.

“My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris,” Obama said. “My definition of leadership is mobilizing the entire world community to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.”

Perhaps the most contentious part of the interview was an exchange regarding the program in Syria to train and equip 5,000 moderate Syrian rebels. The Obama administration officially abandoned the program last week after months of setbacks. By the end, according to a top US general, only “four or five” US-trained rebels were amid the fight in Syria.

Kroft called the program an “embarrassment”:

Steve Kroft: I want to talk about the– this program, because it would seem to show, I mean, if you expect 5,000 and you get five, it shows that somebody someplace along the line did not– made– you know, some sort of a serious miscalculation.

President Barack Obama: You know, the– the– Steve, let me just say this.

Steve Kroft: It’s an embarrassment.

President Barack Obama: Look, there’s no doubt that it did not work. And, one of the challenges that I’ve had throughout this heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that– you’ll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few– you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then, when you start a train-and-equip program and it doesn’t work, then people say, “Well, why didn’t it work?” Or, “If it had just started three months earlier it would’ve worked.”

Steve Kroft: But you said yourself you never believed in this.

President Barack Obama: Well– but Steve, what I have also said is, is that surprisingly enough it turns out that in a situation that is as volatile and with as many players as there are inside of Syria, there aren’t any silver bullets. And this is precisely why I’ve been very clear that America’s priorities has to be number one, keeping the American people safe. Number two, we are prepared to work both diplomatically and where we can to support moderate opposition that can help convince the Russians and Iranians to put pressure on Assad for a transition. But that what we are not going to do is to try to reinsert ourselves in a military campaign inside of Syria. Let’s take the situation in Afghanistan, which I suspect you’ll ask about. But I wanted to use this as an example.

Steve Kroft: All right. I feel like I’m being filibustered, Mr. President.

President Barack Obama: No, no, no, no, no. Steve, I think if you want to roll back the tape, you’ve been giving me long questions and statements, and now I’m responding to ’em. So let’s– so– if you ask me big, open-ended questions, expect big, open-ended answers.

http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-had-a-very-contentious-interview-with-60-minutes-2015-10

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(CNN) President Barack Obama pushed back against claims that Vladimir Putin’s recent military action in Syria is “challenging” American leadership in the middle East.

“If you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in, in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership,” Obama told CBS News’ Steve Kroft during an interview that aired on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

Kroft also asked Obama if he had any indication while meeting with Putin at the United Nations General Assembly that Russia was going to launch airstrikes in Syria the following day, to which President Obama answered that there was “pretty good intelligence”.

“We knew that he was planning to — provide the military assistance that Assad was needing because they were nervous about — a potential imminent collapse of the regime.”

In the interview Obama also addressed the faltering Syrian rebel training program saying, “there’s no doubt that it did not work.”

The interview was taped Tuesday prior to the announcement from the Department of Defense that the program was being suspended Friday.

RELATED: U.S. suspending program to train and equip Syrian rebels

“One of the challenges that I’ve had throughout this — heartbreaking situation inside of Syria is, is that — you’ll have people insist that, you know, all you have to do is send in a few — you know, truckloads full of arms and people are ready to fight. And then when you start a train and equip program and it doesn’t work, then people say, ‘Well, why didn’t it work?'”

Obama added that the situation in Syria is volatile and complicated with many players and there are no “silver bullets” to easily solve the problems.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/11/politics/barack-obama-60-minutes-vladimir-putin/index.html

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From Newsweek

“Iran and Assad make up Mr. Putin’s coalition at the moment. The rest of the world makes up ours,” he said. Bashar al-Assad is a client ruler to Putin, who has backed his regime with military equipment and now air strikes against opposition forces supported by the U.S.

Obama also slammed Putin’s performance by comparing the U.S. economy to Russia’s. The administration has frequently taken the position that Russia is weaker for having been internationally isolated by sanctions, and Obama chided what he said was Putin’s mishandling of an economy that is heavily dependent on oil and other resource exports.

“Russia’s not stronger as a consequence of what they’re doing.”

He even suggested that Putin’s actions were motivated by shoring up his support in Russian domestic polls, and took a shot at the U.S. press for advancing the narrative that the Russian’s intervention made him stronger internationally.

The president was also visibly frustrated with his Republican detractors in the U.S. He criticized them for offering “half-baked ideas” about using force in Syria. Many GOP leaders, including John McCain, have said that Obama needs to take a stronger stance against Putin and Assad. But the President reiterated that he would not rush into a course of action, something he thinks Russia has done.

The President seemed frustrated by the perception of U.S. weakness, and seemed downright flabbergasted by criticisms posed by a national media that turned on George Bush over the messiness of Iraq.  “When I came into office seven-and-a-half years ago,” he told a reporter, the U.S.’s international reputation was “at a nadir.”

His job, he said, is to protect security while avoiding “us getting into things we can’t get out of.”

“This isn’t some kind of superpower chessboard contest. Anybody who frames it that way hasn’t been paying very close attention to the chessboard.”

The U.S. joined in a statement from several U.N. partners asking Russia to cease its airstrikes.

http://www.newsweek.com/obama-putin-world-our-side-379517

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Another massacre, another charade — The American cycle of gun talk

October 9, 2015

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By Charles Krauthammer

There’s the cycle of poverty. There’s the cycle of violence. And then there’s the cycle of gun talk. It starts with a mass shooting. Gun-control advocates blame the deaths on gun-control opponents, who argue, in turn, that none of the proposed restrictions would have had any effect on the incident in question. The debate goes nowhere. The media move on.

Until the next incident, when the cycle begins again.

So with the Roseburg massacre in Oregon. Within hours, President Obama takes to the microphones to furiously denounce the National Rifle Association and its ilk for resisting “common-sense gun-safety laws.” His harangue is totally sincere, totally knee-jerk and totally pointless. At the time he delivers it, he — and we — know practically nothing about the shooter, nothing about the weapons, nothing about how they were obtained.

President Obama expresses apology April 23 for the deaths of two Western hostages in a U.S. drone strike.

Nor does Obama propose any legislation. He knows none would pass. But the deeper truth is that it would have made no difference. Does anyone really believe that the (alleged) gun-show loophole had anything to do with Roseburg? Universal background checks sound wonderful. But Oregon already has one. The Roseburg shooter and his mother obtained every one of their guns legally.

ut.

Authorities respond to a report of a shooting at Umpqua Community College

Authorities respond to a report of a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon   Photo: Rex

The reason the debate is so muddled, indeed surreal — notice, by the way, how “gun control” has been cleverly rechristened “common-sense gun-safety laws,” as if we’re talking about accident proofing — is that both sides know that the only measure that might actually prevent mass killings has absolutely no chance of ever being enacted.

Mere “common-sense” regulation, like the assault weapons ban of 1994 that was allowed to lapse 10 years later, does little more than make us feel good. A Justice Department study found “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

As for the only remotely plausible solution, Obama dare not speak its name. He made an oblique reference to Australia, never mentioning that its gun-control innovation was confiscation, by means of a mandatory buyback. There’s a reason he didn’t bring up confiscation (apart from the debate about its actual efficacy in reducing gun violence in Australia). In this country, with its traditions, public sentiment and, most importantly, Second Amendment, them’s fightin’ words.

Obama didn’t say them. Nor did he seriously address the other approach that could make a difference: more aggressive psychiatric intervention. These massacres are almost invariably perpetrated by severely disturbed, isolated, often delusional young men.

Yet even here, our reach is limited. In some cases, yes, involuntary commitment would have made a difference. Jared Loughner, the Tucson shooter, was so unstable, so menacing, that fellow students at his community college feared, said one, that he would “come into class with an automatic weapon.” Under our crazy laws, however, he had to kill before he could be locked up.

Similarly, the Navy Yard shooter had been found by police a few weeks earlier in a hotel room, psychotic and paranoid. They advised him to get psychiatric help. Advised. Predictably, he fell through the mental health cracks. A month later, he killed 12 and was killed himself, another casualty of a mental-health system that lets the severely psychiatrically ill — you see them sleeping on grates — live and die wretchedly abandoned.

The problem is that these mass-murder cases are fairly unusual. Take Roseburg. That young man had no criminal history, no psychiatric diagnosis beyond Asperger’s, no involvement in public disturbances. How do you find, let alone lock up, someone like that?

There are 320 million Americans. Schizophrenia affects about 1 percent of the population. That’s about 3 million people. Only a tiny fraction are ever violent — and predicting which ones will be is almost impossible.

Loner, socially isolated, often immersed in a fantasy world of violent video games. There are myriad such young men out there, but with different ages of onset, in different stages of derangement. Only a handful will ever harm anyone. What to do? Forcibly apprehend them, treat them, put them on perpetual preventive parole? By the tens of thousands?

Committing the Jared Loughners would have an effect. But even they are the exception among the shooters. Yet “common-sense” gun control would do even less. Unless you’re willing to go all the way.
In the final quarter of his presidency, Obama can very well say what he wants. If he believes in Australian-style confiscation — i.e., abolishing the Second Amendment — why not spell it out? Until he does, he should stop demonizing people for not doing what he won’t even propose.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/another-massacre-another-charade/2015/10/08/e45d0004-6dec-11e5-b31c-d80d62b53e28_story.html

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