Iran Sneaking Oil Sales; Paul Ryan Headlines Pro-Life Dinner

Sunday, 23 Dec 2012 02:04 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Sen. Leahy: Feds Should Weigh Legalizing Ounce of Pot
2. Iran Selling Embargoed Oil as 'Iraqi Special Blend'
3. Federal Worker Job Satisfaction Drop Is a 'Red Flag'
4. Ho Ho Ho! McDonald's Wants Stores Open on Christmas
5. We Heard: Paul Ryan Headlines Pro-Life Dinner
 

1. Sen. Leahy: Feds Should Weigh Legalizing Ounce of Pot

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy says the federal government should consider changing its drug laws to allow Americans to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

The Vermont Democrat sent a letter to Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, asking the nation's drug czar how the administration intends to proceed now that voters in Colorado and Washington have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Federal drug laws still make it a crime to possess the controlled substance.

"How does the Office of National Drug Control Policy intend to prioritize federal resources, and what recommendations are you making to the Department of Justice and other agencies in light of the choice by citizens of Colorado and Washington to legalize personal use of small amounts of marijuana?" Sen. Leahy, a former prosecutor, wrote.

"Legislative options exist to resolve the differences between federal and state law in this area and end the uncertainty that residents of Colorado and Washington now face.

"One option would be to amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act to allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, at least in jurisdictions where it is legal under state law.

"In order to give these options full consideration, the committee needs to understand how the administration intends to respond to the decision of the voters in Colorado and Washington."

Both Colorado and Washington State have already implemented legalization.

On Monday, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order officially implementing the constitutional amendment that voters approved legalizing personal use and limited growing of marijuana for those 21 and older.

Editor's Note:



2. Iran Selling Embargoed Oil as 'Iraqi Special Blend'

Iran has been successfully dodging Western sanctions against its oil exports by disguising shipments as oil from Iraq or transferring them at sea to foreign-owned vessels.

Sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union — intended to persuade the Islamic Republic to abandon its nuclear weapons program — prohibit the import, purchase and transport of Iranian petroleum products, and sanctions on shipping insurance discourage other nations from importing the oil.

But Iran has been earning an average of $410 million a month from its petroleum exports since July, and twice that figure in August, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Oil exports totaled some 1.54 million tons in September.

"The National Iranian Oil Company has been very successful in finding new strategies to circumvent sanctions," said Salar Moradi, an oil industry analyst.

One common tactic to skirt sanctions has been to cooperate with Persian Gulf-based oil traders who act as middlemen for buyers who might be unaware that the oil came from Iran.

Some traders say they have been approached by companies offering a type of fuel called "Iraqi special blend" that they often claim is from Iraq.

"This Iranian fuel oil, disguised as Iraqi in origin, has been flooding the market in Fujairah (one of the United Arab Emirates)," one Middle East-based oil trader said.

The "Iraqi" cargoes are then transferred onto larger vessels and sent to Asia.

Tracking data has shown oil tankers regularly heading toward Iran's main fuel oil export terminals, then turning off their satellite signals before reappearing soon afterward in Fujairah, according to Reuters.

In another tactic, Iran sends barges containing its oil to sea and then transfers the cargo to tankers destined for Fujairah.

A solid indication that the "Iraqi blend" originates in Iran is its "ridiculously low price," the Post observed, "with huge discounts to the market."

Editor's Note:



3. Federal Worker Job Satisfaction Drop Is a 'Red Flag'

NASA is the best large federal agency to work for — and the Department of Homeland Security is the worst, according to a new study based on responses from about 700,000 federal workers.

The 2012 Best Place to Work in the Federal Government survey by the Partnership for Public Service found that employee satisfaction among federal workers dropped overall in 2012. On a scale of 100, the satisfaction score was 60.8 this year, a 3.2 drop from the previous year and the largest drop since the survey began in 2003.

"The 2012 Best Places to Work results tell a troubling but not surprising story," said Max Stier, the Partnership's president and CEO.

"Our nation's public servants have sent a clear signal that all is not well. The two-year pay freeze, budget cuts and ad hoc hiring freezes are taking their toll – and this is a red flag."

John Palguta, the Partnership's vice president for policy, said the findings are not so much about whether employees are happy as about effective government and delivering results for the American people.

"The more engaged employees are, the more productive they will be," he said. "The fact that we are seeing decline is a warning sign."

The Partnership for Public Service uses data from the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and ranks agencies on 10 factors including pay, effective leadership, work/life balance, and teamwork.

NASA got a 72.8 rating, ahead of "Intelligence Community" (70.8) and the State Department (68.2). The lowest score of the 19 agencies included in the large agency survey was 52.9 for Homeland Security, behind the Department of Veterans Affairs (56.7).

Among midsize agencies, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) scored the highest, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors was the lowest of 22 agencies rated.

Among small agencies, top score went to the Surface Transportation Board, and the lowest to the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Among agencies of any size, the FDIC scored highest overall, followed by the Government Accountability Office, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Employees of the intelligence community were happiest about their pay, while the Department of Veterans Affairs workers were the least satisfied.

The Office of Management and Budget had the highest increase in score over 2011, 13.3 points, and the Federal Maritime Commission had the biggest drop, 21.9 points.

Editor's Note:



4. Ho Ho Ho! McDonald's Wants Stores Open on Christmas

McDonald's is urging its franchises, which account for about 90 percent of all its restaurants, to open on Christmas in a bid to boost December sales.

Will employees get paid overtime? Bah humbug!

In an internal memo obtained by Ad Age, McDonald's USA Chief Operating Officer Jim Johannesen told franchisees: "Starting with Thanksgiving, ensure your restaurants are open throughout the holidays. Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day. Last year, [company-operated] restaurants that opened on Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales."

McDonald's spokeswoman Heather Oldani said the company doesn't comment on leaked documents, but stated: "Our restaurants will be open to serve our customers when and how they need over the holidays."

Asked if employees are paid overtime to work on the holiday, Oldani said she can't speak for franchised restaurants but added that when company-operated restaurants are "open on the holidays, the staff voluntarily sign up for work. There is no regular overtime pay."

If all 14,000 McDonald's in the United States opened on Christmas and rang up an average of $6,000 in sales, the company would pull in revenue of $84 million.

Former McDonald's franchisee Richard Adams told Ad Age that as recently as five or six years ago, "you would never even talk about being open on Christmas, even if some were open on Thanksgiving. For the franchisees, this is a big cultural shift."

It might be noted that even 24-hour Walmart stores close on Christmas.

Editor's Note:



5. We Heard . . .

THAT the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List's annual Campaign for Life Gala will be held on April 11 in Washington, and the keynote speaker will be congressman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

The theme of this year's Gala and Summit is Reclaiming the Human Center of the Abortion Debate.

"Proceeds from these events will benefit programs that will re-focus the abortion debate on how it affects real, individual lives," said Natalie Valentine, events manager for the Susan B. Anthony List.

"Our education programs will combat the efforts of President Obama, Planned Parenthood, and their allies in the media who want to center the debate on contraception and rape."

Other speakers who have been confirmed or invited include Sen. Marco Rubio, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, Sen. Jim DeMint, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jim Jordan, and Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard.

THAT Russians are shivering through the harshest winter in more than 70 years, with temperatures plunging to as low as minus-58 degrees F. and hundreds of people dead or injured.

Global warming? Nyet!

While the coldest temperatures have been recorded in Siberia, even the Moscow region has seen the thermometer drop to minus-40 degrees.

Nearly four dozen people have died due to the freeze, and more than 500 have been injured, with many of them hospitalized, according to the RT news website.

Heat pipelines have broken down across the country due to the cold, leaving hundreds of homes without heating. Many schools have been closed for a week.

In neighboring Ukraine, the cold spell had killed nearly 40 people by Thursday.

THAT another prominent New Yorker has thrown his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination for mayor in 2013 — and he already has the endorsement of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Joe Lhota, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, will have to resign his post to run for mayor, CBS News reported.

 

Lhota received high praise for his handling of the city's transportation system after superstorm Sandy.

"He'd be exactly what New York City needs," Giuliani told CBS. "He's got all the talents."

Lhota served as Giuliani's budget director, finance commissioner, and deputy mayor for operations during Giuliani's term as mayor from 1994 until 2001.

The Insider Report disclosed two weeks ago that supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis was among those also mulling a run for mayor.

Note: Newsmax magazine is now available on the iPad. Find us in the App Store.

Editor's Note:



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