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    Obama administration Tag

    Before the Obamas could even move out of the White House at the end of the term, the president's legacy is unveiling itself across the Muslim World. From Mediterranean Sea to Persian Gulf, the forces of Radical Islam continue to score one triumph after another. Once reduced to hunted fugitives by President George W. Bush's military campaign of 2001, the emboldened Taliban fighters have once again raised the Islamist battle cry of 'Allahu Akbar' as they embark on a nationwide offensive to wrestle back control of Afghanistan. Taliban fighters have captured most of central Kunduz city, a strategically important city some 200 miles north-west of Afghan capital of Kabul, claims French news agency AFP. French television channel France24 showed footage of Taliban fighters in the centre of the city after having run over the city's defences -- before one could say Afghan National Army. Government forces still control the city's airport and started preparations to repel the Taliban out of Kunduz, French report claims.

    Despite France's recent acknowledgement that it fights Islamic terrorism on a daily basis and last year's warning that ISIS has targeted our refugee program, the Obama administration has announced that it is has raised the refugee target for 2017 to "at least 110,000." The Washington Post reports:
    The Obama administration will seek to accept 110,000 refugees from around the world in fiscal 2017, according to Secretary of State John F. Kerry. Kerry briefed lawmakers Tuesday on the new goal, which is an increase from 85,000 in fiscal 2016 and 70,000 in the previous three years. It represents a 57 percent increase in refugee arrivals since 2015, as ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere have spurred an exodus of migrants seeking asylum in Europe, Canada and other regions.

    Although we haven't heard much about it recently, the VA scandal is very much alive and well. The National Review published an article about the wide-ranging problems with the VA in April of this year.  Here's a quick reminder, neatly encapsulated in NR's review of VA-related stories:
    The Veterans Affairs–scandal headlines speak for themselves. The Daily Beast: “Veteran Burned Himself Alive outside VA Clinic”; “Dead veterans canceling their own appointments?”; New York Times: “Report Finds Sharp Increase in Veterans Denied V.A. Benefits,” “More than 125,000 U.S. veterans are being denied crucial mental health services,” and “Rubio, Miller ask committee to back VA accountability bills.” Two years ago this week [April, 2016]— thanks to courageous whistleblowers in Phoenix and a fed-up House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman — the world was finally exposed to rampant VA dysfunction and corruption. Dozens of veterans had died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA — which was, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg. Across the country, VA officials had manipulated lists to hide real health-care wait times. In total, thousands — and possibly far more — met the same fate: waiting, and dying, at the hands of a calcified and soulless bureaucracy. Investigations were launched, and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki eventually resigned.
    Rather than attempting to correct a wide array of serious problems--ranging from incompetence to corruption, the VA has instead and in defiance of a 2014 law  "quietly" stopped sending performance data to a national database for consumers.

    Since the revelation that the Obama Administration forked over $400 million to Iran in exchange for right around the time American hostages were released, speculation that the cash was a ransom payment has dogged the administration and the Justice Department. Timing is everything, especially in determining what really went down. New reports suggest the $400 million was held until after the Americans were released from Iranian custody, making the whole ordeal look an awful lot like a ransom payment and subsequent prisoner release. The Obama Administration denied the payment was ransom, but said it was part of $1.7 billion settlement from 1979.

    While President Obama and his administration have spent more than a year assuring everyone that Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS) is ‘on the run’, the reality has been doggedly telling us something else altogether. While Obama administration would like us to believe that its strategy -- or rather lack thereof -- has somehow ‘contained’ ISIS, the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate has been spreading like an ugly rash, with new terrorist bases and strongholds popping up across the map. NBC has obtained a copy of a classified ‘heat map’ showing the global expansion of ISIS. The document dated August 2016 is reportedly part of the White House briefings prepared by National Counterterrorism Center. According to the report, ISIS now has bases in 18 countries. The map shows branches of ISIS extending wide over Middle East, Africa and Far-East Asia. If the document is to be believed, ISIS now has a bridge head in continental Europe with its base in Russia's North Caucasus.

    Iran has been making repeated attempts to acquire nuclear-, chemical- and biological weapons technology from Germany, reveals the annual domestic intelligence report published by the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) last week. According to the report, last year Iran made 141 attempts to illegally secure technologies related to [nuclear, chemical, biological] proliferation in the state of NRW alone. This indicates an almost 100 percent rise compared to 83 such attempts in 2014. If this intelligence report is to be believed, than German government was aware of Iran’s continued efforts to acquire Nuclear and WMD technologies while it was pushing for a Nuclear Deal with Tehran 0n the world stage. Chancellor Merkel’s Government enthusiastically backed Obama-sponsored Nuclear Deal and was one of the six countries that worked out a nuclear agreement with Iran last year.

    Even though his official campaign for the presidency is over, Ted Cruz isn't taking a vacation. Last Tuesday Cruz began conducting a hearing:
    ...investigating...“Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts To Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.”... This hearing will likely focus on which figures within the federal government worked to squelch any research connecting the dots between local Muslim Brotherhood officials, these individual terrorists, and foreign terror networks. Senators on the committee now have an opportunity to expose the Muslim Brotherhood influence within DHS and the FBI, their invidious “Countering Violent Extremism” Agenda, and their hand in covering up counter-terrorism investigations. They can demonstrate how the federal government has hamstrung local law enforcement by refusing to cooperate and share information regarding jihadists living in their communities.
    One question is whether anyone's listening except those already disposed to be concerned about how the Obama administration is handling the problem.

    Back in 2014, the Obama administration announced its plan to "give up its last remaining authority over the technical management of the internet" by giving "the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international nonprofit group, control over the database of names and addresses that allows computers around the world to connect to each other." The response in many quarters was less than enthusiastic. The New Republic noted at the time:
    A Wall Street Journal columnist described it as “America’s Internet surrender.” Said one member of Congress: “Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia, that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech, to better define how the internet looks and operates.”

    The Pentagon is preparing to announce a lift of the ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military on July 1st. The left will undoubtedly hail this as a sign of progress but it turns years of policy on its head and raises a host of issues. Will transgender troops be allowed to choose which barracks they live in? Which bathrooms will they use? These may sound like trivial questions but military life doesn't afford much privacy. USA Today reports:
    Ban on transgender troops to be lifted July 1 The Pentagon plans to announce the repeal of its ban on transgender service members July 1, a controversial decision that would end nearly a year of internal wrangling among the services on how to allow those troops to serve openly, according to Defense officials.

    The number of illegal aliens flooding into the country has been alarming for quite some time and more so in the past couple of years.  This year, however, is shaping up to be a banner year with the number of illegals streaming across the border already topping the number for the entirety of last year, though not quite at 2014 levels. The Washington Times reports:
    The number of illegal immigrant families jumping the border so far this fiscal year has already topped all of 2015, according to Homeland Security statistics released Friday that show the administration’s border problems continue to grow. Some 6,788 people traveling as families were caught on the southwest border in May — a leap of more than 20 percent over April, and putting the total for the first eight months of the fiscal year at nearly 45,000. That’s already well above the 2015 yearlong total of fewer than 40,000, though it’s short of the record pace set in 2014, when a massive surge exposed massive holes in the U.S. immigration system.
    To add to the problem, illegal alien adults are purportedly abducting children as they head for our southern border so that they can pose as "families" . . . all the better to take advantage of Obama's lax "catch and release" policies for illegal immigrant families.

    Over fifty members of the Obama administration have signed a memo urging the president to take a more aggressive approach to Syria. The signers, who are all diplomats, recommend an increase in airstrikes. The New York Times reports:
    51 U.S. Diplomats Urge Strikes Against Assad in Syria More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

    The nation's payday and auto title lenders are now the latest target of the Obama administration in an effort to transform the relationship between private lending companies, their borrowers, and the government. For the very first time, high-interest lending companies will face regulations set forth by the federal government. Credit of this type typically involves an immediate, short-term loan of a few hundred dollars that comes with a high interest rates and lending fees. When costs are combined, the annual interest rate of these loans often calculate to around 300%. Until now, regulation of this $39 billion industry had been left up to the states. This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency conceived by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, announced the beginnings of a regulatory framework intended to protect the roughly 12 million low-income households borrowing from these often described "predatory" lenders. Rules proposed by the CFPB will require lenders to assess the borrower's ability to pay back the loan before an exchange of money takes place. Payday lenders fear this step will make it more difficult to roll over loans, a frequent practice of high-interest lenders that usually results in the hiking of the lender's borrowing fees.

    We've been covering the Hillary Clinton email scandal here at LI, and now it seems that the Obama administration is actively working to prevent her deposition. The Hill reports:
    The Obama administration is trying to prevent former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from being deposed in an ongoing open records case connected to her use of a private email server. Late Thursday evening, the Justice Department filed a court motion opposing the Clinton deposition request from conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch, claiming that the organization was trying to dramatically expand the scope of the lawsuit.
    Judicial Watch is “seeking instead to transform these proceedings into a wide-ranging inquiry into matters beyond the scope of the court’s order and unrelated to the FOIA request at issue in this case,” government lawyers wrote in their filing, referring to the Freedom of Information Act. The Hill continues:
    The lawyers wrote that the request to interview Clinton “is wholly inappropriate” before depositions are finished in a separate case also concerning the email server.

    How's the Iran nuclear deal working out? I'm not asking the broader foreign policy question that Tom Nichols just addressed, but how is the nuclear aspect of the deal by itself working out? According to Jonathan Broder of Newsweek, the deal is unraveling. And it is the fault of the United States.
    Probably the biggest source of friction is a U.S. law that bars Iran from using the U.S. financial system and the American dollar, even indirectly. The law, enacted in 2012, was aimed at punishing Iran for a variety of alleged sins: the country’s ballistic missile program, human rights abuses and state-sponsored terrorism. Because these issues haven’t been resolved, there is virtually no chance Congress would repeal the law in the foreseeable future, experts say. As long as that statute remains in place, foreign banks holding Iran’s funds in dollars will be wary of doing business with the country.

    In 2015, Obama announced that he was calling on all federal agencies to no longer check the criminal history of job applicants.  This "ban the box" move was part of a larger criminal justice reform agenda that is now being extended to the nation's colleges and universities. Judicial Watch reports:
    The Obama administration has ordered the nation’s colleges and universities to stop asking applicants about criminal and school disciplinary history because it discriminates against minorities. Institutions are also being asked to offer those with criminal records special support services such as counseling, mentoring and legal aid once enrolled. The government’s official term for these perspective students is “justice-involved individuals” and the new directive aims to remove barriers to higher education for the overwhelmingly minority population that’s had encounters with the law or disciplinary issues through high school.
    Part of the problem, the Obama administration and opponents of "the box" believe is that asking such questions about criminal or school disciplinary history "disproportionally affects blacks and Latinos."

    National Review's David French suggests that states should reject federal funding if they wish to remain free from executive actions such as the Obama administration's directive on school bathrooms [emphasis mine]:
    Without an act of Congress, without a ruling from the Supreme Court, and without even going through the motions of the regulatory rule-making process, the administration issued a letter drafting every single public educational institution in the country to implement the extreme edge of the sexual revolution... ...We must fix our education system or slowly but surely lose our culture. Indeed, virtually every other conservative endeavor — whether it’s winning elections, transforming media, or infiltrating pop culture — will fail if the entire edifice of public education is arrayed against us. The system, however, can’t be reformed from within: It’s stacked top-to-bottom with progressive activists even in red states.

    Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) on Friday that affects American businesses and the free market (what's left of it, anyway). Obama has ordered the FCC to open up set-top cable boxes to competition, and he more broadly ordered executive agencies to search for ways that they can ensure competition among free market businesses and corporations. The set-top box order centers on the way that cable companies lease these boxes to consumers, charging a monthly fee for their use.  Harkening back to the days when people had to rent phones from the telephone company, the order intends to correct the problem as was done in telephone case. The White House writes:
    That’s why today the President announced that his Administration is calling on the FCC to open up set-top cable boxes to competition. This will allow for companies to create new, innovative, higher-quality, lower-cost products. Instead of spending nearly $1,000 over four years to lease a set of behind-the-times boxes, American families will have options to own a device for much less money that will integrate everything they want — including their cable or satellite content, as well as online streaming apps — in one, easier-to-use gadget.
    On its face, this doesn't seem to be a problem and may even be a good idea for those still using cable, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
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