Tags: Report | on | bin-Laden | Death | Pope | Argentinas President | Phyllis Schlafly

Report Challenges SEAL's Story on bin Laden's Death

By    |   Saturday, 30 March 2013 08:35 PM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. New Pope, Argentina's President Have 'Frosty' Tie
2. Report Challenges SEAL's Story on bin Laden's Death
3. Phyllis Schlafly: Karl Rove Gave Us 'Bunch of Losers'
4. Need for Less-Skilled Immigrants 'Not Supported by Data'
5. Study: Red States Are the Most Free
6. Washington Called America's 'New Second City'

1. New Pope, Argentina's President Have 'Frosty' Tie

When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, his relations with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner "ranged from frosty to hostile," The Economist reports.

In 2008, Bergoglio supported farmers who clashed with Fernandez over a tax increase. He also was critical of the left-wing president's approval of a 2010 law to legalize gay marriage, and he charged that Fernandez was not doing enough to deal with the nation's widespread poverty following the economic collapse of 2001-2002.

When news broke that Bergoglio had been elected as the new pontiff, Fernandez's supporters in Congress refused to interrupt a eulogy to Venezuela's late president, Hugo Chavez, and state-owned television ran children's cartoons instead of footage from the Vatican.

So the uneasy relationship between the new Pope and the Argentine president — termed by The Economist as "the awkward couple" — raised suspicion that allegations of Bergoglio's cooperation with the military dictatorship that ruled between 1976 and 1983 are merely propaganda from the Argentine left.

After the Pope's election, journalist Horacio Verbitsky renewed his earlier assertions that Bergoglio had handed over two Jesuit priests to the Argentine military in 1976. The priests were held for five months and allegedly tortured during Argentina's so-called "dirty war," when upwards of 30,000 suspected dissidents were killed or disappeared at the hands of the ruling junta.

"Critics claim the crime occurred with the complicity of Bergoglio, who was a leader of Argentina's Jesuits at the time," the Los Angeles Times reported. "They say he gave unmistakable signals to the military that the priests were dangerous leftists and no longer worthy of the church's protection."

But Verbitsky, who works for an Argentine daily, has been "chief propagandist" for the Fernandez government, according to The Economist.

Furthermore, the magazine observes, "academics who have studied Argentina's political violence of the 1970s think there is no evidence that Bergoglio helped the dictatorship, and he himself has rejected the allegation," insisting that he lobbied the junta to free the kidnapped priests.

Also, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for documenting the junta's atrocities, told The Associated Press that Bergoglio "never collaborated with the dictatorship."

Now there are signs that the "frosty" relationship between Pope Francis and President Fernandez may be thawing. Fernandez — who had earlier sent a "stiff" letter of congratulation — rushed to Rome for lunch with Pope Francis the day before his inauguration, The Economist also reported.

She asked Francis to intervene in support of Argentina's demand for talks with Britain over Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands, although it is thought to be highly unlikely that the Pope will get involved in the political situation.

Editor's Note:

2. Report Challenges SEAL's Story on bin Laden's Death

Esquire magazine in February published the article "The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden," featuring a Navy SEAL identified only as "the Shooter" who claimed he had shot and killed the al-Qaida leader during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

But this week CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen revealed in an exclusive report that another member of the SEAL team that conducted the May 2011 raid asserts that the Shooter's story is "complete b.s."

The Shooter told Esquire that he encountered bin Laden on the top floor of the compound where he had been hiding. The al-Qaida chief was standing up and had a gun "within reach," so the Shooter fired two shots into bin Laden's forehead and killed him.

That account differed from the one offered by fellow SEAL Matt Bissonette in his book "No Easy Day," which he wrote under the pseudonym Mark Owen.

The first three SEALs to reach the top floor were Bissonette, the Shooter, and a SEAL identified as "the point man," according to Bergen, author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden — from 9/11 to Abbottabad."

The SEAL member who spoke to Bergen said the "point man" shot bin Laden in the head when he poked his head out of his bedroom door, gravely wounding him. The other two SEALs then entered the bedroom, saw the terrorist leader on the floor, and finished him off with shots to the chest.

That scenario is basically in agreement with Bissonette's account in "No Easy Day."

Bissonette told CBS News that he was tasked with photographing bin Laden's body, and washed blood from his face to get the best photos he could — pictures he said were "pretty gruesome."

Bergen's SEAL contact also said bin Laden could not have had a gun "within reach," since the only weapons found were on a high shelf above the bedroom door.

Stephanie Tuck, a spokeswoman for Esquire, said in an email that the magazine's story was "based on information from numerous sources," and "we stand by our story."

Bergen concludes: "What seems incontrovertible is that the point man, the Shooter and Bissonette were the first three SEALs to assault bin Laden's bedroom. But to determine exactly which of them killed bin Laden may never be possible."

Editor's Note:

3. Phyllis Schlafly: Karl Rove Gave Us 'Bunch of Losers'

Conservative activist and author Phyllis Schlafly says the Republican Party has too often been dominated by the "establishment" instead of by the real conservative "grass-rooters" — thereby producing a "bunch of losers."

Schlafly, 88, is the founder of the pro-family Eagle Forum whose latest book is "No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religion."

She sat down for an interview with Breitbart contributor Warner Todd Huston that was posted on the wizbangblog website.

Schlafly, who has attended GOP presidential conventions for decades, said she has witnessed first-hand the fight between the Republican establishment, with "the series of losers they have given us like Thomas Dewey, and the grass-rooters who wanted their own candidate."

Ronald Reagan was the "best president of the 20th century," she opined, but after his two terms "we lost the party again to the establishment, and they've given us a bunch of losers — Bob Dole, John McCain, and then Mitt Romney."

Alluding to the infighting between Karl Rove and the tea party, Schlafly said "now we have the same battle again. It's the establishment against the grass-rooters. The establishment likes a certain type of person who calls himself a moderate, will do what he's told, vote the way he's told, and not talk about certain issues. They don't want him to talk about the social or the moral issues. They don't even want him to talk about the national defense issues. Which is all a terrible mistake because that's where all the money is."

She went on: "The establishment's voice seems to be Karl Rove, and they just gave us a bunch of losers. Rove had at least $300 million to spend on campaigns. And he only won, I think, nine of 31 races where he ran ads. A dismal result."

As for Mitt Romney, she said "he couldn't even run his own staff. So how is he going to run the country?"

Editor's Note:

4. Need for Less-Skilled Immigrants 'Not Supported by Data'

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies refutes claims that the United States should welcome greater numbers of less-educated immigrants to compensate for a shortage of Americans available for low-wage jobs.

Eight U.S. senators have proposed an immigration reform plan that includes increasing legal immigration in the future, and one member of the group, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said there is "a shortage of labor" in the country. "The visas we have available just are not enough," he told a South Carolina newspaper.

Also, labor and business leaders working with the group — known as the Gang of Eight — are promoting a program to bring in more immigrants to fill what they called in a joint statement "lesser-skilled jobs."

But the center asserts that "the idea that there is a general labor shortage in the United States or a shortage of workers to fill lower-wage jobs that require modest levels of education is not supported by the data."

The eight senators from seven states are Democrats Chuck Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, and Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Graham.

According to the center, the unemployment rate in 2012 for less-educated American citizens — those with no more than a high school education — averaged 11.3 percent over the year. And the broader U-6 unemployment rate, which also includes those who are out of work but have not looked for employment recently or are involuntarily working only part-time, was 19.9 percent.

"Perhaps even more striking, the employment situations in the states represented by the Gang of Eight are among the worse in the country," according to Director of Research Steven A. Camarota and demographer Karen Zeigler at the Center for Immigration Studies.

Unemployment among less-educated people in those states averaged 12.6 percent, compared to 10.2 percent in the other 43 states. The U-6 rate in the seven states averaged 21.7 percent, compared to 18.3 percent in the other states.

"The employment figures do not support the idea that there is a shortage of workers in the United States generally, nor do they support the idea that there is a shortage of less-skilled workers," the authors state.

They point to an "enormous pool of potential workers," noting that last year there were 54.6 million Americans ages 18 to 65 who were not working, including 27.6 million less-educated citizens.

The authors conclude: "If through enforcement a significant fraction of illegal immigrants returned to their home countries, there would seem to be an ample supply of idle workers to replace them.

"Of course, employers might have to pay more and offer better benefits and working conditions in order to attract and retain American citizens. But improving the employment prospects and wages of the least-educated and poorest American workers can be seen as a desirable."

Editor's Note:

5. Study: Red States Are the Most Free

A surprising new study measuring economic and personal freedom finds that conservative red states are freer than more liberal blue states — and attracting more new residents.

George Mason University's Mercatus Center conducted the study, Freedom in the 50 States, calculating rankings according to a wide range of factors.

"We score all 50 states on over 200 policies encompassing fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom," the center explained.

"We weight public policies according to the estimated costs that government restrictions on freedom impose on their victims."

Fiscal policy includes tax burden, government employment, government spending, government debt, and fiscal decentralization.

Regulatory policy includes freedom from tort abuse, property rights protection, labor market freedom, health insurance freedom, and several other factors.

The personal freedom category focuses on victimless crime freedom, gun control freedom, civil liberties, and freedom relating to a variety of topics including tobacco, alcohol, marriage, and gambling.

The overall freedom ranking was determined by combining scores for the three major categories.

The five states with the highest ranking for freedom are, in order, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. Only New Hampshire voted for President Obama in the 2012 election.

The state with the lowest ranking for freedom is New York, followed by California, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Rhode Island. All five states voted for Obama in 2012.

Alaska scored the highest for personal freedom, South Dakota for economic freedom, Indiana for regulatory freedom, Texas for labor market freedom, and Nevada for civil liberties. California scored lowest in three of those categories.

The study also compared its freedom rankings to population shifts and income growth, and found that the freer states performed better on both fronts than did less-free states.

It found a strong correlation between freedom and migration, "which means that Americans are gravitating toward states that have less-intrusive governments," Investor's Business Daily (IBD) points out in an article about the study.

William Ruger, a political scientist at Texas State University and a co-author of the study, said: "People are voting for places with greater freedom," adding that "if you have economic freedom you will have economic growth."

IBD observes that the study's findings "call into question" assertions Obama made during the 2012 campaign that tax cuts and deregulation won't produce growth and prosperity.

"It doesn't work," he said. "It has never worked."

IBD concludes: "If anything, the data show precisely the opposite."

Editor's Note:

6. Washington Called America's 'New Second City'

The ever-expanding federal government is bringing new economic power to the nation's capital, leading one pundit to suggest that Washington has in fact become America's new Second City.

"The Washington, D.C., region has long been considered recession-proof, thanks to the remorseless expansion of the federal government in good times and bad," writes Aaron M. Renn, publisher of the urban policy website The Urbanophile.

"Yet it's only now, as D.C. booms while most of the country remains in economic doldrums, that the scale of Washington's prosperity is becoming clear."

While America's current and former Second Cities, population-wise — Los Angeles and Chicago — are "battered and fading in significance," he adds, "we're witnessing the start of Washington's emergence as America's new Second City."

During the decade 2001-2010, the Washington metropolitan area ranked fourth in population growth, behind only Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston, and now ranks as the nation's seventh most populous metro area, Renn discloses in an article for City Journal.

The metro area has 5.1 million residents, while the Federal District itself has 632,300, up from 572,000 in 2000.

Washington has the lowest unemployment rate among America's largest cities, and ranked second in job growth during that decade, behind only Houston.

Its per-capita GDP is the country's second highest, after the San Francisco Bay area, and its median household income is the highest of any metro area with more than 1 million people. Seven of the 10 U.S. counties with the highest median income are in metro Washington.

One metro county, Prince George in Maryland, is more than 65 percent black, and its median household income of $70,700 makes it the highest-income majority-black county in America.

Other signs of Washington's emergence abound, Renn discloses. Thanks to the booming economy, the District of Columbia ended the 2011 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $240 million, and ended 2012 with a $140 million surplus. Washington has the nation's lowest office-vacancy rate and has been ranked among the three top cities for foreign investments, along with New York and London.

Companies headquartered in the D.C. metro area that have more than $5 billion in annual revenue include General Dynamics, Geico, Marriott International, and Lockheed Martin.

Total spending on lobbying in Washington rose from $1.6 billion in 2000 to $3.3 billion in 2011.

What's fueling all this growth is "the increasingly intrusive control of the federal government over American life," Renn writes.

"These days, about a third of the Washington-area economy depends on the federal government."

The capital's "ever-expanding regulatory state" has taken regulation to "new levels of intrusiveness," he adds. "Its quintessence is Obamacare, an annexation by the federal government of one-sixth of the American economy via 2,000 pages of byzantine legislation, not counting the thousands of pages of implementing regulations still to come."

Noting that Washington has a "legitimate claim" to be America's Second City, Renn concludes: "The region is prospering because it's becoming something that would have horrified the Founders: an imperial capital on the Potomac."

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Saturday, 30 March 2013 08:35 PM
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