Rubio Gets Perfect AFP Score; O'Reilly to offer new book about the death of Jesus

Sunday, 24 Feb 2013 03:58 PM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Unwed Couples to Get Military Benefits — Only If They're Gay
2. Americans for Prosperity Scorecard: Rubio Sole A+ Senator
3. Times Square Billboards Blast Media Bias
4. 'Golden Rice' Can Save Millions of Lives
5. Obama's Green Energy Push 'Notoriously Unsuccessful'
6. O'Reilly in Footsteps of Famed Author With Jesus Book
 

1. Unwed Couples to Get Military Benefits — Only If They're Gay

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has issued a directive stating that certain military benefits formerly reserved for married couples will now be extended to unmarried partners — but only if they're same-sex partners.

Heterosexual unmarried partners do not qualify for the benefits.

Panetta issued his directive in a memorandum to the secretaries of the military departments and the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Citing the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, Panetta states: "Discrimination based on sexual orientation no longer has a place in the military."

The memorandum continues: "At the direction of the President, the Department has conducted a careful and deliberative review of the benefits currently provided to the families of Service members. We have now identified additional family member and dependent benefits that we can lawfully provide to same-sex domestic partners of Military Service members and their children through changes in Department of Defense policies and regulations.

"These benefits shall be extended to the same-sex domestic partners and, where applicable, children of same-sex domestic partners, once the Service member and their same-sex domestic partner have signed a declaration attesting to the existence of their committed relationship."

The declaration defines a "domestic partner" as a "person in a domestic partnership with a Service member of the same sex," and a "domestic partnership" as a "committed relationship between two adults, of the same sex, that meets all of the requirements below."

Among those requirements, neither of the partners can be "married, joined in a civil union with, or domestic partners with anyone else," and the partners intend to remain in a committed relationship "indefinitely."

Among the benefits the Pentagon will now give to same-sex domestic partners but not to heterosexual unwed couples are disability and death compensation, legal assistance, some travel on Department of Defense aircraft, commissary privileges, welfare and recreation programs, emergency leave, and access to a "sexual assault counseling program."

Panetta's memorandum also states that because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Defense Department cannot extend all of the benefits given to married couples to unmarried same-sex domestic partners, including healthcare and housing allowances.

But it adds: "In the event that the Defense of Marriage Act is no longer applicable to the Department of Defense, it will be the policy of the Department to construe the words 'spouse' and 'marriage' without regard to sexual orientation, and married couples, irrespective of sexual orientation, will be granted full military benefits."

Recipients of the new benefits will receive them no later than Oct. 1, 2013.

Editor's Note:



2. Americans for Prosperity Scorecard: Rubio Sole A+ Senator

Americans for Prosperity has released its scorecard for the 112th Congress, ranking members of the House and Senate according to their votes on issues related to economic freedom during the 2011 and 2012 sessions.

Only one senator garnered an A+, a perfect 100 percent rating: Florida Republican Marco Rubio.

"The AFP Scorecard is an easy way for our activists, the media, and the general public to keep an eye on Washington," said AFP Director of Policy James Valvo.

The 112th Congress Scorecard includes critical votes on such issues as the repeal of Obamacare, pre-empting EPA's purported authority to regulate greenhouse gases, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's budget, ending ethanol subsidies, several Congressional Review Act resolutions to overturn new regulations, and the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills.

"This past session of Congress was important because it was the first one after the 2010 elections, when voters sent a wave of conservative legislators to Capitol Hill," said Valvo.

"Americans signaled that they were tired of big government and wanted more economic freedom.

"Not surprisingly, congressional Democrats and Republicans performed starkly differently on the scorecard. While the House passed many important substantive and procedural reforms, the Senate showed a poor free-market voting pattern and stopped these reforms from seeing the president's desk."

Americans for Prosperity is a nationwide organization committed to advancing economic freedom and opportunity, and promoting the belief that reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to encourage productivity and prosperity.

While just one senator received an A+ rating, 18 members of the House got a perfect score from AFP, all of them Republicans.

Of the 18, 15 are still in the House: Mo Brooks (Ala.), Steve Chabot (Ohio), Trent Franks (Ariz.), Scott Garrett (N.J.), Tom Graves (Ga.), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Jim Jordan (Ohio), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Doug Lamborn (Colo.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Patrick McHenry (N.C.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Dennis Ross (Fla.), and David Schweikert (Ariz.).

The others receiving an A+ rating are Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who was elected to the Senate in 2012, and Benjamin Quayle (Ariz.) and Joe Walsh (Ill.), who both lost re-election bids in 2012.

Only one senator received an F mark, with a 0 rating: Democrat Brian Schatz, who was appointed to fill a seat in Hawaii after Daniel Inouye died. He didn't enter the Senate until December 2012, and took part in only two of the votes AFP considered critical.

Twenty-one House members received an F, all of them Democrats.

Republican Sens. John McCain and Rand Paul received an A, while Democrats John Kerry and Harry Reid got a D-, as did Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Editor's Note:



3. Times Square Billboards Blast Media Bias

A conservative watchdog group that documents liberal bias in the media has rented five huge billboards in Manhattan's Times Square as part of its "Stop Censoring the News" campaign.

The billboards seek to "educate the public about how certain media outlets apparently are spinning their coverage or simply censoring news critical of the Obama administration to protect and promote a liberal agenda," CNS News reported.

The billboards, totaling 3,800 square feet, were rented by the Media Research Center (MRC), parent organization of CNS News.

Two of the billboards read, "It's Time the Liberal Media Stop Censoring the News," and two others read, "Start Telling the Truth" above an image of three monkeys, labeled ABC, CBS, and NBC, in a "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil" pose.

The monkeys "apparently neither see, speak, nor hear anything negative about the Obama administration or about liberals in Congress," CNS News observed.

The fifth billboard reads, "Demand the Media Stop Censoring the News!"

MRC President Brent Bozell said in a statement: "During the 2012 election, the liberal media moved beyond bias. They actively and repeatedly censored any story that could have jeopardized Barack Obama's re-election.

"Now in 2013 they're censoring any story that could slow his administration's second-term agenda. Their behavior is as disgraceful as it is unprecedented."

The signs in Times Square are close to the headquarters of The New York Times and the offices for the news divisions of the three major broadcast networks.

"These billboards — located in the hub of the liberal media's nerve center — put them on notice," said Bozell. "The American people are sick and tired of the establishment media's collusion with the Obama administration, and won't stand for a corrupt press willing to censor the news."

The billboards will remain in place for several weeks and will be viewed by an estimated 1.4 million people each week, according to the MRC.

The campaign's website, StopCensoringTheNews.org, states that the MRC "has documented numerous cases of the media suppressing stories like 'Fast and Furious,' Solyndra, Benghazi, and others, stories that would have been major news if there had been a conservative in the White House."

Editor's Note:



4. 'Golden Rice' Can Save Millions of Lives

After years of delay, the Philippines has finally approved the growing of "golden rice," a genetically engineered crop that could potentially save the lives of millions of children.

Golden rice was developed by two German scientists two decades ago to produce beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to the active form of vitamin A and is lacking in ordinary rice.

The Insider Report disclosed in December that the activist group Greenpeace was campaigning against the production of golden rice. But now the Philippines has OK'd its cultivation, and approval is expected shortly in Bangladesh and Indonesia as well, according to Bjorn Lomborg, a professor at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and author of "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming."

Vitamin A deficiency is widespread among poor people whose diet consists largely of rice. In developing nations, 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind each year due to the deficiency, according to the World Health Organization, and half of them die within a year.

In an article on the Project Syndicate website, Lomborg reports that two recent studies show that about two ounces of golden rice can provide 60 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.

Nevertheless, Greenpeace, an opponent of genetically engineered (GM) foods, has stated that golden rice is "neither needed nor necessary," and instead supports the use of vitamin supplements and fortified products.

But Lomborg points out that supplementation programs cost $4,300 for each life they save in India, fortification programs cost about $2,700 for each life, and golden rice would cost just $100 for every life saved from vitamin A deficiency.

Lomborg concludes: "Golden rice is the most prominent example in the global controversy over GM foods, which pits a technology with some risks but incredible potential against the resistance of feel-good campaigning," often by "rich, well-meaning Westerners far removed from the risks of actual vitamin A deficiency."

And Henry I. Miller, founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, stated in an article he co-wrote for National Review Online: "Activism intended to delay progress toward life-saving products is irresponsible and despicable."

Editor's Note:



5. Obama's Green Energy Push 'Notoriously Unsuccessful'

President Obama reiterated his commitment to green energy during his State of the Union address, promising more investments to help the economy grow.

But this is entirely the wrong approach for America's energy future, an expert declared.

"Green energy might create some jobs — the Labor Department counted 3.1 million green jobs in the U.S. economy last year — but it makes energy more expensive, raising utility costs for consumers," said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of "Regulating to Disaster: How Green Jobs Policies Are Damaging America's Economy."

"Instead, for economic growth, the president should focus on oil and natural gas."

Electricity produced from natural gas is significantly less expensive than from alternative sources, and the United States — thanks to new fracking technology — has a 200-year supply of natural gas.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average cost for electricity from natural gas-fired plants entering service in 2017 will be $66 per megawatt hour, compared to $153 per megawatt hour for solar-powered plants, $96 for wind power, and $115 for biomass.

So households have far higher electricity bills using alternative energy than natural gas. And the higher costs disproportionally impact low-income Americans, who spend an average of 24 percent of income on energy compared to 4 percent for the highest-earning Americans.

The 38 states that have passed laws requiring utilities to produce a portion of their electricity from renewable sources have higher energy costs than the 12 states that have not passed such laws.

Furthermore, "Department of Energy grants and loan guarantees have been notoriously unsuccessful in attempts to make alternative energy profitable," said Furchtgott-Roth, who is also a contributing editor at RealClearMarkets.

Of 33 energy loan guarantees made since 2009 under the Energy Department's programs, 30 have shown signs of trouble, ranging from missed production goals to bankruptcy filings. On top of that, three companies that received grants have filed for bankruptcy.

And as for President Obama's assertion that the higher cost for renewable energy is justified by lower carbon emissions from fossil fuels, which will help combat global warming, Furchtgott-Roth points out that the United States is responsible for just 16 percent of global emissions — so cutting back will have a minimal effect on global temperatures.

Editor's Note:



6. O'Reilly in Footsteps of Famed Author With Jesus Book

With news this week that Bill O'Reilly is set to offer a new book about the death of Jesus, it appears the top-rated Fox News host is following in the footsteps of another famous author whose books on the deaths of Lincoln, Kennedy and Jesus became instant best-sellers in their day.

The late Jim Bishop, a veteran newspaperman who once reported for the New York Daily News and later was a syndicated columnist, saw his book "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" become a runaway best-seller in 1955.

A series of similar-themed books followed, with Bishop penning "The Day Christ Died" in 1957 and then in 1968 "The Day Kennedy Was Shot" — a minute-by-minute account of JFK's 1963 shooting in Dallas.

Perhaps his most critically acclaimed book, "FDR'S Last Year," came out in 1984.

The parallels with O'Reilly are uncanny.

In 2011 O'Reilly penned a book about Lincoln, "Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever." The book, co-authored with Martin Dugard, became a New York Times best-seller with more than 5 million copies sold.

Last October, O'Reilly and Dugard followed up with "Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot," which debunks many of the conspiracy myths holding that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in the assassination of the president.

It too became an instant best-seller, and in fact remains No. 1 on Amazon.com in several categories.

Now O'Reilly has announced that, like Bishop, he will write a book about Jesus Christ. Titled "Killing Jesus," it will recount the life and times of Jesus and the Christian legacy he left behind.

"We've uncovered some interesting things about the execution of Jesus of Nazareth and how it all ties into Roman power," O'Reilly told viewers of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Feb. 20.

So given the parallels between O'Reilly and Bishop, the obvious question that comes to mind is: Will O'Reilly follow his Jesus chronicle with a book about Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

Editor's Note:



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