Popular and widely read Egyptian newspaper Al Wafd published the above picture today portraying U.S. President Barrack Hussein Obama as Satan himself. The unflattering picture has been making the rounds on Facebook in the Middle East and, according to Al Wafd, is representative of the hatred growing numbers of people in the region have for the American president, thanks to his staunch and unwavering support for Islamists and jihadiis — whether in Nigeria, Libya, Egypt, or Syria — even as they terrorize, murder, rape, and burn down Christian churches, that is, even as they engage in diabolical activities.
The average employer-provided family health insurance premiums have climbed $2,976 since 2009, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation survey released this week. They’re up $3,671 compared with the year before President Obama took office. That’s despite Obama’s repeated promises that the health care reform law he championed would cut premiums by $2,500 in his first term.
And while annual premium increases have moderated over the past two years, that’s due to trends in the insurance market largely unrelated to ObamaCare, and trends the law could actually reverse.
The Kaiser survey found that the average family premium this year is $16,351, up 4% over last year, and up 22% since 2009. After adjusting for inflation, premiums climbed an average 3.2% a year in Obama’s first term, higher than the 2.7% average during President Bush’s last four years in office.
During his first campaign for president, Obama repeatedly claimed that his health reform plan would, as he said at a Virginia rally in 2008 “lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.”
Nevertheless, the White House has been touting recent signs of health cost moderation as evidence that ObamaCare is “already working to reduce costs.”
Read more here
Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the four State Department officials placed on administrative leave by Hillary Clinton after the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi do not deserve any formal disciplinary action and has asked them to come back to work at the State Department starting Tuesday.
Last December, Clinton’s staff told four mid-level officials to clean out their desks and hand in their badges after the release of the report of its own internal investigation into the Benghazi attack, compiled by the Administrative Review Board led by former State Department official Tom Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Ret. Adm. Mike Mullen. Those four officials have been in legal and professional limbo, not fired but unable to return to their jobs, for eight months… until today.
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Raymond Maxwell, the only official from the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs bureau to lose his job over the Benghazi attack, told The Daily Beast Monday he received a memo from the State Department’s human resources department informing him his administrative leave status has been lifted and he should report for duty Tuesday morning.
“No explanation, no briefing, just come back to work. So I will go in tomorrow,” Maxwell said.
Read more here
Judge holds Ohio Village of Elmwood Place and the company it hired to monitor cameras in contempt of court for violating his earlier order.
CINCINNATI — A judge found Elmwood Place, Ohio, and the company it hired in contempt of court Thursday because the village continued operating its speeding cameras and collecting fines even after the judge ordered the program shut down.
“Any money that was collected after my order has to be returned,” Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman ruled Thursday.
Ruehlman ruled March 7 that the 2012 Elmwood Place ordinance that allowed cameras and other equipment to be used to measure the speed of cars and ticket speeders without pulling them over was unconstitutional. At that time, he ordered a stop to the speeding camera program the Cincinnati suburb was using. The program brought the village more than $1 million while it operated.
Still, Lanham, Md.-based Optotraffic LLC, the company that runs the speed camera program for Elmwood Place, continued to issue citations, run the equipment and collect fines. Elmwood Place received 60% of the revenue from those fines.
“They continued to operate the equipment after I ordered them not to,” the judge said, citing both Optotraffic and Elmwood Place with contempt of court. He also ordered the cameras and equipment confiscated.
The U.S. Supreme Court finished its term with big decisions on voting rights, affirmative action and same-sex marriage. Following those rulings, public approval of the court has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded in more than nine years of polling.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 28% believe the Supreme Court is doing a good or an excellent job. At the same time, 30% rate its performance as poor. That’s the highest-ever poor rating. It’s also the first time ever that the poor ratings have topped the positive assessments. Thirty-nine percent (39%) give the court middling reviews and rate its performance as fair. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
These numbers are even weaker than the numbers recorded following the Supreme Court ruling upholding the president’s health care law last year. Just before the court heard arguments on the health care law, 28% gave the justices good or excellent marks. However, disapproval was far lower than it is today. Then, following those arguments, many thought the court was likely to overturn the law. At that point, positive ratings for the court shot up to 41%, the highest level in years. However, when the court eventually upheld the health care law, the numbers fell again. Just 29% offered a positive review early that September.
Read more here
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An IRS official effectively waived her right not to testify about the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups, a Republican-led congressional committee concluded on Friday in a vote that cleared the way for Congress to hold her in contempt.
Lois Lerner, former head of the Internal Revenue Service’s tax-exempt division, angered Republicans last month when she invoked her constitutional right not to answer their questions at a hearing.
The committee is investigating the IRS’s admission that it subjected applications for tax exempt status from groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names to special scrutiny.
By reading a statement telling lawmakers that she did “nothing wrong” before invoking her Fifth Amendment protections, some Republicans said that Lerner waived her rights.
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved on a party-line vote a Republican resolution on Friday saying that Lerner did waive her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
“That is the not the way the Fifth Amendment works. You don’t get to tell your side of the story,” and then avoid cross examination, said Republican Trey Gowdy. “She sat there and could have said nothing.”
Read more here