Obama Bundlers Score Plum Ambassadorships; O'Reilly Trounces Chris Hayes; Part-Timers Mask Real Jobless Numbers

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 12:04 AM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama's 'War on Coal' Doomed to Fail
2. Pakistani Dr. Afridi Faces Trial Over bin Laden Raid
3. Obama Gives Plum Ambassador Posts to Campaign Bundlers
4. China Unveils World's Largest Building
5. Part-Timers Mask Real Employment Numbers
6. We Heard: David Petraeus, Chris Hayes


1. Obama's 'War on Coal' Doomed to Fail

In his June 25 speech on climate change, President Obama unveiled a plan to cut coal production and limit carbon dioxide emissions — a proposal that Republican Rep. Ted Poe called a "war on coal."

It's a war that won't succeed in lowering worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

According to oil company BP's latest "Statistical Review of World Energy," the United States already leads the world in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Last year emissions were down 3.9 percent.

At the same time, China's emissions soared by 6 percent, India's by 6.9 percent, Brazil's by 2.5 percent, and Mexico's by 4.3 percent.

Even in Europe, where the European Union has imposed stringent regulations aimed at cutting carbon dioxide, emissions were up 1.3 percent in Germany, the EU's largest economy.

"The gulf between the hard realities of the global energy market and the Obama administration's energy policies grows wider by the day," Bryce writes for National Review Online.

U.S. emissions are down due to a large decrease in coal consumption — down 11.9 percent last year.

The decrease can largely be attributed to increasing regulatory burdens and the boom in natural gas production thanks to hydraulic fracturing. That has led to cheaper natural gas, which is replacing coal at American power plants.

But according to the BP report, global coal consumption grew by the equivalent of about 26 million barrels of oil per day between 2002 and 2012, including 2 million barrels a day last year.

And global coal consumption will continue to rise because global demand for electricity is rising, and the demand is being met largely by coal.

Ironically, while the United States is reducing its coal consumption, the American coal industry is fueling higher emissions levels around the world. In March, coal exports set a one-month record of 13.6 million tons — after setting a yearly record of nearly 126 million tons in 2012.

"The fundamental problem with Obama's approach to carbon dioxide emissions is the idea that the U.S. can solve the problem," writes Bryce, author of the book "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future."

"No matter what the U.S. does, emissions will continue to soar."

Editor's Note:



2. Pakistani Dr. Afridi Faces Trial Over bin Laden Raid

A Pakistani commission has ruled that Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, should be put on trial for his role in the affair — even though it concedes he has already been jailed on "trumped-up charges."

As the Insider Report disclosed most recently in May, Afridi was arrested weeks after the U.S. raid on Abbottabad, Pakistan, where al-Qaida leader bin Laden was living in a compound. American officials later said Afridi had helped in the hunt for the terrorist chief by conducting a vaccination campaign in Abbottabad to obtain DNA evidence from the compound confirming that bin Laden was hiding there.

He was accused of being a "national criminal" who should be tried for high treason.

In May 2012, a court in the tribal area near the Afghan border sentenced Afridi to 33 years in prison after convicting him of providing assistance to an obscure military group in the area.

The Pakistani commission of inquiry, criticizing that charge as "trumped-up," said it had "completely undermined the credibility of the country and its judicial process," according to a leaked version of the commission's report obtained by Al Jazeera.

Afridi is one of more than 200 witnesses whose testimony appears in the report, and the commission said he should be tried to determine "the extent and nature of his involvement" in the Abbottabad raid.

If he is tried and convicted, he could face further punishment.

Afridi testified that he was unaware his vaccination campaign was a front for the CIA.

The campaign ended on April 23, 2011, nine days before the raid, and Afridi was arrested three weeks later.

The report noted: "Afridi told the commission that had he been guilty, he would have disappeared immediately before or after the raid."

Two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, have urged Congress to make Afridi's release a condition for continuing U.S. aid.

"The U.S. ambassador should be recalled and legislation should be passed to withhold foreign aid to Pakistan as long as they are doing the bidding of terrorists and persecuting the likes of Dr. Afridi," Rohrabacher said.

His statement was released after news broke that Afridi was on a hunger strike in jail to protest his harsh treatment, the Insider Report also disclosed.

Afridi told Fox News he was brutally tortured by Pakistani intelligence agents. He also said the Pakistanis told him "the Americans are our worst enemies, worse than the Indians," and that Pakistan's claims of cooperation with America are a sham to "extract" billions in U.S. aid.

The Obama administration requested $1.4 billion in aid to Pakistan in its fiscal 2014 State Department budget proposal.

Editor's Note:



3. Obama Gives Plum Ambassador Posts to Campaign Bundlers

President Obama's nomination of two major campaign bundlers to highly prized ambassadorships brings to 18 the number of bundlers he has nominated for plum diplomatic posts.

The White House said Matthew Barzun, who served as the Obama campaign finance chairman in 2008 and 2012, will be the American ambassador to the United Kingdom, subject to confirmation.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Barzun bundled at least $500,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign and at least $500,000 in 2012.

But official campaign finance records provide only minimum figures for how much each donor raised among friends and families, the process known as bundling, and precise bundling data is available for only some nominees. The Guardian reports that Barzun actually raised more than $2.3 million in 2012 alone.

Obama this past week also nominated Washington lawyer John R. Phillips to serve as ambassador to Italy. He bundled at least $500,000 for Obama in 2012 and up to $500,000 in 2008.

"The United States is alone in this practice; no other major democracy routinely appoints non-diplomats to serve as envoys to other countries," the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) said on its website.

Obama nominees who are already serving include the ambassadors to France, Japan, and Finland, each of whom bundled at least $500,000 for Obama in 2008, and the ambassadors to Canada, Czech Republic, Norway, and Belize, who also bundled for Obama, CNS News reported.

Also serving are the U.S. ambassadors to the European Union and to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, who each bundled at least $500,000 in 2008.

Awaiting confirmation are bundlers who have been nominated to serve as ambassadors to Germany, Spain, Belgium, Singapore, Austria, the Dominican Republic, and the U.S. Human Rights Council in Switzerland.

According to AFSA, 67.8 percent of Obama's ambassadorial nominations have been career diplomats, while 32.2 percent have been political appointees.

But political appointees most often get coveted posts in Western Europe and the Caribbean. Only 14 percent of posts in Africa and the Middle East, and none in Central Asia, have gone to political appointees since 1960.

Former ambassador Thomas Pickering, who recently led the investigation into the lethal attacks on American diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the practice of giving plum ambassadorships to political supporters amounts to "simony" — the selling of public office.

"It has the effect of diminishing perhaps the sense that the U.S. is treating these countries with the respect they deserve," he said.

AFSA President Susan Johnson said: "There was some thought with Obama being such a 'change agent' that he might really do things differently — but it has just been a bigger letdown.

"Diplomacy and managing the inter-relationships between countries is actually important, and we ought to be taking it more seriously, preparing people for it and seeing it as a long-term career — not as just something you do for a few years while you are preparing to do something else."

In fact, the Foreign Service Act of 1980 states that "contributions to political campaigns should not be a factor in the appointment of an individual as a chief of mission" and those positions "should normally be accorded to career members of the Service."

The Act also stipulates that nominees have a "useful knowledge" of the language in the nation where they serve.

An online biography of the ambassador to Finland, Oreck vacuum-cleaner heir Bruce Oreck, makes no mention of his knowledge of Finnish.

Editor's Note:



4. China Unveils World's Largest Building

China has opened what is billed as the largest building in the world — a structure so enormous it even houses a quarter-mile-long beach.

The New Century Global Center is located in the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province and China's fourth-largest city, with a population of more than 7 million.

The blue mirrored glass building is 1,640 feet long — the length of more than five football fields — 1,312 feet wide, and 328 feet high, with an 18-story atrium. It sprawls over 18.2 million square feet, nearly three times the Pentagon's 6.5 million square feet of floor space.

The center's seaside resort boasts a 1,300-foot coastline, artificial sea breezes, and the world's largest artificial waves, while artificial sunlight beams through a glass roof, The Guardian reports.

The building features a 14-screen IMAX theater, the world's largest LED screen (492 feet long), an Olympic-size ice rink, offices, and two five-star hotels with 1,000 deluxe suites.

There's a Mediterranean shopping village and a townscape of Polynesian huts crossed with an Arab kasbah.

The center also offers a water park, aquariums, a pirate ship, and more.

There's plenty of parking, too — room for 15,000 vehicles.

Editor's Note:



5. Part-Timers Mask Real Employment Numbers

The official unemployment rate greatly underestimates the job market hardship in the United States — largely because of a surge in the number of part-time workers.

The official unemployment rate has remained between 7.5 percent and 7.6 percent for the past three months — more than half again higher than the rate at the end of 2007, the last time the job market was at or near full employment.

But "the standard unemployment measure certainly misses some kinds of labor market hardship," according to Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former economist with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Since the end of 2007, the number of part-time employees who want full-time jobs has risen by about 4.3 million, or more than 70 percent.

These part-timers get counted as "employed" and are left out of the official unemployment figures, "so in a sense their hardship is missed by the unemployment rate," Burtless points out.

In addition, there were 780,000 "discouraged workers" in May — people who have looked for a job in the recent past but have given up their search because they have lost hope of finding a job. Discouraged workers are also not counted among the unemployed.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates another unemployment rate that includes involuntary part-timers and discouraged workers. That measure, the U-6 unemployment rate, stood at 13.8 percent in May.

"This estimate can be interpreted to mean that 13.8 percent of the actual plus potential workforce is suffering hardship as a result of the slow recovery from the downturn," Burtless adds.

But even the U-6 rate doesn't tell the whole story. The "voluntary quit" rate remains well below its level before the downturn, because workers who are unhappy in their jobs are wary of leaving and finding another more satisfying position.

And the number of temporary workers has risen sharply, jumping by more than 50 percent over the last four years to nearly 2.7 million, The Associated Press reported.

Temporary workers receive lower pay, few benefits, and scant job security.

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard . . .

THAT retired U.S. Army General and former CIA Director David H. Petraeus has selected Washington Speakers Bureau (WSB) for exclusive representation on the lecture circuit.

Petraeus served as Commander of U.S. and International Assistance Forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, and Commander of Multi-National Forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, before serving with the CIA from 2011 to 2012.

"Petraeus guided U.S. security, counterinsurgency, and global counterterrorism efforts during his 37-year career" in the military, WSB said.

"He is widely credited for changing the course of two wars and reshaping military doctrine while serving four years in Iraq — with his final tour as commander of the surge — and one year in Afghanistan as commander of the international forces that halted the Taliban's momentum."

According to WSB, a leader in the lecture industry, the topics that Petraeus speaks about include global challenges in the 21st century, geopolitical trends, and U.S. and international affairs and security issues.

THAT some major media outlets could use a few geography lessons.

On Monday, an NBC News story about the train explosion in Quebec displayed a map that included border states New York, Vermont, and Maine, but left out New Hampshire, Mediabistro reported.

That same night, CNN ran a story about the turmoil in Egypt but displayed the flag of Syria.

Also from Mediabistro: MSNBC's Chris Hayes, who took over the 8 p.m. spot from Ed Schultz in April, is getting absolutely pummeled by Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. On a typical night last week, O'Reilly had 2.69 million viewers, while Hayes had just 495,000. On CNN, Anderson Cooper had 769,000 in that slot.

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

Editor's Note:



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