John Kerry 'Campaigning' for Hillary's Job

Sunday, 13 Feb 2011 04:22 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. John Kerry ‘Campaigning’ for Hillary’s Job
2. Microsoft Targets Google for Antitrust Probe
3. ‘Fiscal Disaster’ Looms for Medicaid Under Obamacare
4. Report: Afghan Army Can’t Function Alone
5. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood: Buy a Japanese Car
6. Texas Schools to Make Arabic Mandatory
 

1. John Kerry ‘Campaigning’ for Hillary’s Job

Sen. John Kerry has been a leading voice in Washington on the crisis in Egypt, raising speculation that he could be in line for a post in the Obama Cabinet — including the one now held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Massachusetts Democrat is “well informed on national and international issues and he knows the leaders,” former Rep. Martin Meehan, now chancellor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, told the Boston Herald.

“He would be on the top of any president’s list, regardless of the party they are in.”

Time magazine’s political blog called Kerry a “diplomatic utility man” and said he has been “unofficially campaigning” to succeed Clinton for months.

Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman, a longtime friend of Hillary, said she remains committed to the secretary of state job.

But he added, “Should the president ever find himself with the need to name a new secretary of state, Sen. Kerry, with his experience with all issues relating to foreign relations, would make an outstanding candidate.”

Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth dismissed the speculation, telling the Herald: “John Kerry loves his job as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and as the senior senator from Massachusetts. Doing your job well doesn’t mean you’re auditioning for another job.”

But if Kerry were to take a Cabinet post, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick could appoint an interim senator, as he did following the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy.

That would give Massachusetts Democrats another seat to target, instead of running against incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

Meehan said Kerry’s seat would be widely sought after: “I’m sure a lot of people would take a look at it.”

Editor's Note:



2. Microsoft Targets Google for Antitrust Probe

An alliance of tech firms and Washington lobbyists is calling for an antitrust investigation of Internet search giant Google — and Google says rival Microsoft is masterminding the campaign.

It could be called payback.

In the 1990s, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, then an executive at Sun Microsystems and later Novell, provided evidence in the government’s antitrust case against Microsoft.

The restrictions imposed on Microsoft as a result of the case helped Google rise to its current position atop the Web, and now “some of Microsoft’s allies are saying it’s time for the search giant to get its comeuppance,” Politico reported.

Pamela Jones Harbour, a former Federal Trade Commission member and now a consultant for Microsoft, asserts that Google has a monopoly.

“There are also increasing calls from some Silicon Valley competitors and Washington-based public interest groups for the Justice Department to launch a sweeping probe of Google,” according to Politico.

Google asserts that Microsoft — which is spending about $7 million a year on lobbying — is behind the anti-Google efforts.

“Microsoft and our large competitors have invested a lot in D.C. to stoke scrutiny of us,” Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said. “But our goal is to make sure that we can continue creating cool new things for consumers.”

Microsoft attorney Charles “Rick” Rule wrote in a September Op-Ed piece for The Wall Street Journal that Google is a monopoly and should be investigated. And he noted, “What goes around, comes around.”

Google processes more than 1 billion search requests each day, and had revenue of $23.6 billion in 2009.

Editor's Note:



3. ‘Fiscal Disaster’ Looms for Medicaid Under Obamacare

The healthcare reform bill signed by President Barack Obama will impose burdens on financially strapped state governments’ ability to pay for Medicaid and could result in “a human and fiscal disaster.”

That’s the view of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and president of the American Action Forum, and Paul Howard, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress.

Writing in City Journal, they outline the devastating effect Obamacare will have on Medicaid, the joint federal-state program for low-income, uninsured Americans.

Even before Obamacare goes fully into effect, the program is beset with difficulties. Medicaid often pays just 70 percent of what Medicare pays doctors, which itself is 20 percent below private rates.

As a result, more than half of primary-care physicians and 35 percent of specialists either limit the number of Medicaid patients they see, or refuse to accept new ones, the authors disclose. That means recipients must often wait before receiving a diagnosis or treatment, which can have deadly consequences.

Another problem: Medicaid currently consumes about 20 percent of state budgets, and the federal payout boosts the deficit. Federal and state governments will spend an estimated $466 billion this year on Medicaid, and under Obamacare “Medicaid will spend an additional $443 billion by 2019 — hardly evidence of the cost control that Obama promised for healthcare reform,” Holtz-Eakin and Howard observe.

Obamacare defenders point out that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the new costs for several years after 2014. But that will leave states liable for $21 billion in new costs by 2020, not including up to $12 billion in additional administrative costs.

Yet another problem: There are 11 million uninsured Americans who are eligible for Medicaid but have not signed up. The individual mandate requiring everyone to carry insurance or pay a penalty will likely push these people into Medicaid. And these enrollees would not be covered under the federal matching rate dictated by Obamacare, but under the pre-Obamacare rate, which “varies by state but is much more onerous” for the states, the City Journal article notes.

The authors propose several reforms they say would help free states from “Medicaid’s ruinous funding scheme.”

For one, states could be given more power to control Medicaid costs without losing federal matching dollars. “Washington would remove all strings from the program, so states could try different approaches in covering the low-income uninsured,” the authors say.

Another proposal is to let people eligible for Medicaid use their funding to purchase private health insurance.

And the United States could move to an interstate market system in which people could purchase healthcare coverage from any state.

Editor's Note:



4. Report: Afghan Army Can’t Function Alone

A new report from the Government Accountability Office delivers a devastating blow to U.S. hopes of turning over security operations in Afghanistan to that nation’s military forces.

The report, released on Jan. 27 and based on assessments by NATO’s international force, discloses that not one Afghan army unit was able to operate independent of American-led coalition forces as of September 2010.

President Barack Obama has said U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011, and he wants Afghan forces to take the lead on security operations by the end of 2014.

According to the GAO, the United States has spent $20 billion since 2002 developing the Afghan army, and another $7.5 billion is to be spent in fiscal 2011.

The report states that “as of September 2010, no ANA [Afghan National Army] unit was assessed” by the international coalition and American command “as capable of conducting its mission independent of coalition assistance.”

A unit is rated as being able to operate independently when it is “capable of planning, executing, and sustaining the full spectrum of its missions without assistance from coalition forces,” the GAO observes.

According to the GAO disclosures, there are many challenges that NATO and U.S.-led Afghan training missions face:

  • 86 percent of Afghan army recruits are illiterate, and literacy training must be provided to enable units to achieve the technical skills required to operate independently.
  • As of October 2010, about one-quarter of non-commissioned officer positions in Afghan combat units were unfilled.
  • In any given month from January to September 2010, more than one-quarter of Afghan soldiers were absent from duty.

 

Editor's Note:



5. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood: Buy a Japanese Car

Back in December, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Department of Transportation was launching a “Buy America” website to encourage the purchase of American-made products.

But this past week, LaHood admitted that he had told his daughter to buy a Japanese car — a Toyota Sienna — and that she had done just that, CNS News reported.

On Dec. 16 of last year, LaHood said when announcing the Buy American site, “The Obama administration is making historic investments in America’s infrastructure — investments that lay the foundation for our long-term economic health while creating good-paying jobs right now.”

And a DOT press release stated: “Through Buy America, the Department of Transportation supports an entire supply chain of American companies and their employees.”

On Wednesday, LaHood announced the results of a 10-month DOT study that sought to determine if electronic systems could have been responsible for reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles that compelled the carmaker to recall nearly 8 million vehicles in the United States.

The study determined that electronic systems were not responsible.

In announcing the study results, LaHood said: “I told my daughter that she should buy the Toyota Sienna, which she did. So I think that illustrates that we feel that Toyota vehicles are safe to drive.”

Fox News called his statement a “ridiculous gaffe.”

Editor's Note:



6. Texas Schools to Make Arabic Mandatory

Officials with the Mansfield, Texas, school district plan to make it mandatory for students to study Arabic language and culture.

Arabic classes would be required at Cross Timbers Intermediate School and Kenneth Davis Elementary School as part of a five-year, $1.3 million grant awarded to the school district by the U.S. Department of Education.

The classes would be optional for students at two other schools in Mansfield, a city of about 42,000 south of Dallas-Ft. Worth.

The Department of Education has identified Arabic as a “language of the future.”

Some parents are upset that the school district disclosed plans to require the classes without any prior warning to parents.

There are also concerns about religion. “The school district doesn’t teach Christianity, so I don’t want them teaching Islam,” parent Baron Kane told a local CBS News affiliate. But Kheirieh Hannun, who was born in the Middle East and raised in the United States, said she hoped the classes would broaden the minds of parents as well as students.

Editor's Note:



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