Published May 23, 2013
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa declared Thursday that the embattled IRS official who refused to testify Wednesday had no right to do so, and is now looking to haul her back before his committee.
The chairman of the House oversight committee made the call after consulting with attorneys about IRS official Lois Lerner’s bizarre appearance before the panel on Wednesday. Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division which oversaw the controversial targeting of conservative groups, caused confusion Wednesday morning when she pleaded the Fifth and refused to answer questions — but also delivered an opening statement in which she asserted her innocence.
Though Issa dismissed her from the hearing room, he questioned at the time whether she had waived her rights by delivering the statement. A spokesman told Fox News on Thursday that Issa had reached a decision.
“After consulting with counsel, Chairman Issa has concluded that Ms. Lerner’s 5th amendment assertion is no longer valid,” spokesman Ali Ahmad said. “She remains under subpoena, the Committee is looking at recalling her for testimony.”
Issa, citing the concerns over Lerner’s comments, never actually adjourned the hearing — where other current and former Treasury and IRS officials testified. He only called it into recess. The thinking among Republicans is that they can still call her back to testify.
May 20, 2013 By Patrick Goodenough
Pakistani Christians protest against the country’s blasphemy laws and violence targeting their minority community. An independent U.S. watchdog has urged the executive branch every year since 2002 to designate Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” over religious freedom violations. (AP Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – As the State Department prepares to release its annual report on international religious freedom Monday, a key issue for many Americans concerned about religious persecution is whether it will blacklist a handful of particularly egregious violators – or, as in previous years, ignore the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The question is especially sensitive in the case of countries where the plight of minority Christians has worsened, even as their governments benefit significantly at the cost of U.S. taxpayers.
Among the religious freedom violators are four of the top ten recipients of U.S. foreign aid in fiscal year 2013 – Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria. Another is Vietnam, whose communist government has seen its diplomatic and economic ties with the U.S. improve dramatically over the past seven years.
On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry will release the administration’s report on the state of religious freedom around the world in 2012, a requirement under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), which sought to enhance the importance of religious freedom in the pursuit of U.S. foreign policy.
The primary tool available to the executive branch under the 1998 legislation is the designation of “countries of particular concern” (CPCs) – those whose authorities either commit or are judged to tolerate violations of religious freedom. CPCs are subject to U.S. sanctions or other measures designed to prod governments to improve.
Currently designated CPCs are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.
But a handful of other countries deserve to be on the list too, in the view of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent body established under the IRFA, comprising unpaid commissioners appointed by congressional leaders and the administration.
When it released its own yearly report three weeks ago, the USCIRF pressed for Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam to be designated CPCs.
In some of those cases, the recommendation has been disregarded for years.
Pakistan, home to some of the world’s most notorious blasphemy laws, has evaded CPC status despite USCIRF recommendation every year since 2002, as have Turkmenistan since 2000, Egypt since 2011, Nigeria since 2009, and Tajikistan since last year.
The other two, Iraq and Vietnam, were both previous designated CPCs. The Bush administration removed Iraq in 2004, following the fall of Saddam Hussein regime; and Vietnam in 2006, citing improvements as a result of active lobbying of the communist authorities in Hanoi.
Each year since 2008 the USCIRF has recommended that Iraq be returned to the CPC list. In the case of Vietnam, the commission never agreed with its delisting, and has recommended its return every year since, also to no avail.
Last week House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) introduced legislation calling on the administration to relist Vietnam as a CPC, citing authorities’ refusals to grant legal recognition to churches, as well as assaults, harassment, imprisonment and home destructions targeting Christians.
Last year’s State Department report on international religious freedom referred to “continued reports of abuses of religious freedom” in Vietnam and said that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior State Department officials “raised religious freedom concerns with government officials and called for continued improvements in religious freedom.”
Those diplomatic efforts did not appear to have had any effect, however: The report also noted that Hanoi “did not demonstrate a trend toward either improvement or deterioration in respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom.”
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report earlier this year examining compliance with the IRFA noted tensions between the USCIRF and State Department as each has sought to do its respective job.
The report prompted USCIRF chair Katrina Lantos Swett to underline in a letter to the GAO that the commission’s “mandate is neither to conduct diplomacy nor balance religious freedom against other U.S. national interests.”
Swett said the USCIRF recognized that its role “sometimes poses a challenge for the State Department” – but also noted that “at times, our findings draw the ire of offending governments that would prefer their shortcomings remain hidden.”
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Friday said the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative organizations could be “fatal” for the Obama administration if it turns out that anyone in the White House was aware of it.
Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity,” Krauthammer called the IRS situation “the one scandal that people have a visceral sense about” — it’s the one U.S. institution, besides the military, that can do very serious harm.
Going after conservative groups based on their politics is “a violation that everybody — left or right– understands,” he added.
Krauthammer urged that there’s no suggestion that Obama knew what was happening, “but if there’s any indication that there were people in the White House who knew, who orchestrated, who encouraged or whatever, then it can be a fatal problem.”
Obama ducked a direct question on Thursday about whether he or anyone else in the White House had known what was happening.
Krauthammer said he wasn’t comparing the current situation to Watergate, but pointed out that the second article of impeachment against Richard Nixon was abuse of the IRS.
“The one issue that can fell a presidency is the corruption of the IRS coming from on high,” Krauthammer said.
Watch below, via Mediaite:
May 16, 2013
President Barack Obama dismissed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS scandal, and evaded a question asking if White House officials knew of the IRS targeting of conservative political groups.
“I can assure that I certainly did not know anything about the [inspector general] report before the IG report had been leaked through the press,” he told reporters during a Thursday lunchtime press conference held in the White House Rose Garden.
Obama’s evasion will likely spur public suspicions that White House officials knew about, or even supported, the IRS targeting.
Published April 06, 2013
FILE: Nov. 18, 2010: In this file photo, Fisker Automotive’s Fisker Karma, a sports luxury plug-in hybrid car, sits on display at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles. (AP)
Fisker Automotive — the electric-car maker that was granted a half-billion-dollar federal loan and on Friday dismissed about 75 percent of its remaining workforce — is purportedly facing a lawsuit from the same firm that sued the government-funded Solyndra company.
Fisker laid off 160 of its roughly 210 employees Friday morning from its Anaheim, Calif., location, according to Automotive News.
11 February 2013 Last updated at 10:14 ET
Syrian rebels are reported to have seized control of the country’s largest hydro-electric dam, in what would be a strategic loss to the government.
Activists and opposition groups said fighters had taken over entrances and exits of the dam in the northern province of Raqa.
Reports said the dam on the Euphrates River was still operational.
Meanwhile an explosion in a car on the Syria-Turkey border has killed at least seven people, officials say.
It is thought that the explosion happened in the area of the Cilvegozu customs post on the Turkish side of the border, in the southern province of Hatay.
Dozens of people were wounded in the blast, the cause of which was not immediately clear.
Limbaugh raves about doctor’s speech: ‘Talk about a tingly feeling up your leg!’
Posted: February 09, 2013
by Drew Zahn Email | Archive
Drew Zahn is a former pastor who cut his editing teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership
, Christianity Today’s professional journal for church leaders. He is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching
, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, “Popcorn and a (world)view.”More ↓
At the National Prayer Breakfast, broadcast live on C-SPAN2, Dr. Ben Carson said he didn’t want to “offend” anyone, but his words nonetheless were likely to have made one distinguished guest in attendance – President Barack Obama – squirm in his seat.
Carson is director of the pediatric neurosurgery division at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. His inspiring story of growing up the son of an illiterate, single black woman to becoming one of America’s most esteemed doctors has been detailed in the book “Gifted Hands” and the movie of the same name.
At Thursday’s prayer breakfast, Carson took aim at a number of topics that may have caused the man seated two chairs to his right a bit of indigestion, including class-warfare economics.
“Some people say, they say, ‘Well, that’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10,’” Carson said. “[But] where does it say you have to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot!
“We don’t need to hurt him,” Carson continued. “It’s that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here, building our infrastructure and creating jobs.”