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50 STATES AND DC, CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT

The EPA vs. Science Why is the agency delaying a long-awaited report on a weed killer? Congress wants to know. By Julie Kelly

A political battle is brewing on Capitol Hill with an unlikely source: a weed killer.

Congress is demanding to know why the Environmental Protection Agency posted and then pulled a long-awaited report on the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide. The weed killer is also the latest bogeyman for anti-GMO activists.

Two congressional committees — the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and the House Agriculture Committee — have asked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to explain why her agency took the assessment offline and is continuing to delay its release.

On April 29, the EPA posted a report concluding that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide and other products) is “not likely to be carcinogenic.” The committee found no relationship between glyphosate exposure and a number of cancers, including leukemia, multiple myeloma, and Hodgkin lymphoma. The 86-page assessment was signed by the EPA’s cancer review committee back in October 2015 and marked “final.”

But the EPA took it down on May 2, claiming the documents were “inadvertently” posted and only a preliminary report. “EPA has not completed our cancer review. We will look at the work of other governments. . . . our assessment will be peer reviewed and completed by end of 2016,” said an EPA spokeswoman.

That move caught the attention of House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R., Texas), who fired off a letter two days later to McCarthy, questioning the agency’s “apparent mishandling” of the report and demanding all documents and communications about the report dating back to January 1, 2015. The House Agriculture Committee followed up with its own letter (signed by both the chairman and the ranking member) asking McCarthy why the agency has “continually delayed its review of glyphosate.” Both committees expect answers within the coming weeks.

Senate investigation finds ‘systemic’ failures at VA watchdog: Donovan Slack ….See note

In spite of all the posturing on Memorial Day, this scandal continues unabated…..rsk

WASHINGTON — A Senate investigation of poor health care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., found systemic failures in a VA inspector general’s review of the facility that raise questions about the internal watchdog’s ability to ensure adequate health care for veterans nationwide.

The probe by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee found the inspector general’s office, which is charged with independently investigating VA complaints, discounted key evidence and witness testimony, needlessly narrowed its inquiry and has no standard for determining wrongdoing.

One of the biggest failures identified by Senate investigators was the inspector general’s decision not to release its investigation report, which concluded two providers at the facility had been prescribing alarming levels of narcotics. The facility’s chief of staff at the time was David Houlihan, a physician veterans had nick-named “candy man” because he doled out so many pills.

Releasing the report would have forced VA officials to publicly address the issue and ensured follow up by the inspector general to make sure the VA took action. Instead, the inspector general’s office briefed local VA officials and closed the case.

A 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran, Jason Simcakoski, died five months later from “mixed drug toxicity” at Tomah days after Houlihan signed off on adding another opiate to the 14 drugs he was already prescribed.

The 350-page Senate committee report obtained by USA TODAY also chronicles instances where other agencies could have done more to fix problems at the Tomah VA Medical Center, including the local police, the FBI, DEA, and the VA itself, but it singles out the inspector general.

The Shame of Rep. Zoe Lofgren By Eileen F. Toplansky

On January 12, 2016 House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) “announced the creation of a Task Force on Executive Overreach to examine the historic breakdown of the separation of powers and checks and balances that has led to the unprecedented increase in presidential power and executive overreach.” Part of the Task Force’s mission is to “study the impact the increase in presidential and executive branch power has had on the ability of Congress to conduct oversight of the executive branch, the lack of transparency that furthers unchecked executive power, and the constitutional requirement of the President to faithfully execute the law.”

Which is why it is so painfully ironic that this Task Force on Executive Overreach shut down a reasoned legal argument about the very behavior it is supposed to rein in.

On May 24, 2016 law professor Gail Heriot gave testimony to the U.S. House Taskforce on Executive Overreach describing the latest Obama edict on transgender guidance. In her 21-page testimony, Heriot spoke “as an individual member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights and not on behalf of the Commission as a whole” stating that “Congress has succumbed to the temptation to confer more discretion on executive branch agencies” and this has severely damaged the separation of powers so integral to America’s governance.

Furthermore, Heriot describes the many administrative agencies that grab power that was never conferred to them via the Constitution. Thus, “the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has . . . managed to transform what was supposed to be a limitation on its power into a greater power . . . by issuing ‘guidances,’ which are devilishly difficult to challenge in court.” Consequently, “resistance by employers is usually futile.”

Homeland Security Chairman: ‘FBI Is Investigating 1,000 Homegrown Terror Cases’ By Nicholas Ballasy

WASHINGTON – Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, warned that ISIS and its affiliates have expanded to 20 countries and that the terrorist group is connected to 80 percent of the 1,000 terrorist plots being investigated by the FBI.

“Two years into the fight, our Iraqi partners are making some progress in clearing ISIS outposts but I worry they cannot hold the territory they take back and in Syria; we still do not have a coherent ground force. The president’s original strategy — a $500 million program to train and equip local rebels — has been suspended because it failed miserably to train or equip anyone capable of confronting ISIS,” McCaul said during an event at George Washington University titled “The Terrorist Exodus: Resurgent Radicalism & The Threat To The West.”

“In the meantime, the Iranian-Russian intervention has strengthened Assad, which our commanders privately admit has benefitted ISIS…even as terrorists lose some ground in Syria and Iraq, globally they are gaining new ground. ISIS and its affiliates are presently in nearly 20 countries, from Algeria to the Philippines and as they expand, so does the danger to our people and our allies,” he added.

McCaul, who recently led a congressional delegation on a trip to the Middle East, stressed that the U.S. is not winning the war against Islamic extremism.

“Violent extremists are not on the run as the president claims. They are on the march and expanding at great cost to the free world,” he said. “Today we worry about more than just terrorist cells — we worry about full-fledged terrorist armies as they capture territory and enlist thousands to join their ranks.”

In Syria and Iraq, McCaul said the world is witnessing “the largest global convergence of Islamist terrorists” in modern history.

“All you have to do is look at the numbers. More than 40,000 aspiring jihadists have entered the conflict zone providing groups like ISIS with a larger fighting force than entire nation-states like Denmark or Norway and in some ways, terrorists have put together a broader coalition than the one trying to defeat them,” he said.

“At last count, we have brought together 66 countries to fight terror in Syria. But jihadists, on the other hand, have recruits from more than 120 countries that have joined the fight on the other side,” he added.

McCaul cautioned that ISIS has become more dangerous than al-Qaeda when Osama bin Laden was alive. CONTINUE AT SITE

Judge Hanen Shows President Obama: We’re All Post-Constitutionalists Now The remedy for lawlessness is not more lawlessness.Andrew McCarthy

Let us stipulate that President Obama’s non-enforcement of the federal immigration laws, coupled with his even more patently lawless decree of positive legal benefits to illegal immigrants (e.g., work permits, reprieves from deportation), is an outrage. In fact, as I argued in Faithless Execution, it qualifies as an impeachable offense.

All that said, the remedy for lawlessness is not lawlessness. The comeuppance for an executive branch that egregiously oversteps its limited constitutional authority is not a judiciary that responds in kind. Thus, I’m at a loss to understand the enthusiastic applause on the right for an opinion and order issued on May 19 by Judge Andrew Hanen of the federal district court in Brownsville, Texas.

The ruling came in connection with a case brought by the governments of 26 states to challenge the validity of two of Obama’s unilaterally decreed immigration non-enforcement programs: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), and, to a more limited extent, Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA).

Judge Hanen is justifiably outraged by the egregious misconduct of Obama Justice Department lawyers, a pattern of misrepresentations to the court that he found to be “intentional, serious and material.” In a nutshell, beginning in late 2014, Justice Department lawyers repeatedly promised that DAPA and its amendments to DACA were on hold and would not be implemented until mid February 2015. These representations lulled the plaintiff states into forgoing remedies they might otherwise have sought — e.g., restraining orders and a permanent injunction — to limit the damage done by Obama’s lawless conferral of benefits (which trigger various state expenditures) on illegal aliens. In reality, DAPA was proceeding apace, and applications by over 100,000 illegal aliens were granted during the purported suspension.

What is the Gulen Movement and why is it dangerous for America? Clare M. Lopez and Frank Gaffney

The following was taken from an interview from Frank Gaffney’s “Secure Freedom Radio”. Clare Lopez, a retired CIA operations officer and the current Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, discusses a little-know threat known as the Gulen Movement. Lopez goes on to describe the threat from this particular movement to academic institutions inside the United States.

FRANK GAFFNEY: Welcome back, we’re joined by my colleague at the Center for Security Policy, our Vice President for Research and Analysis, a career intelligence professional, indeed for about twenty years in the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine services, a woman of extraordinary skill and knowledge, in particular about threats to this country, now, most especially emanating from the global jihad movement. Her name is Clare Lopez, she is the coauthor with Christopher Holton of a new monograph from the Center for Security Policy press entitled, Gulen and the Gulenist Movement: Turkey’s Islamic Supremacist Cult and Its’ Contributions to the Civilzation Jihad. Clare, welcome back, it’s good to have you with us as always.

CLARE LOPEZ: Thank you very much Frank, very much glad to be with you.

FRANK GAFFNEY: I wanted to catch up with you rather urgently, Clare, because this monograph has become even more timely as a result of a development that’s reported in the Wall Street Journal today, in which it appears the government of Turkey has retained legal counsel in this country to bring, basically a complaint, against some of the operations of this Gulenist movement. So let’s talk first about that movement, what it is, who Fethullah Gulen is, how they got here and what they’re doing and then we’ll talk about the particulars of this case in Texas.

CLARE LOPEZ: Sure, well, Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish Sunni cleric, he left Turkey in 1999, came to the United States to live here when he was fleeing the then secular government in Turkey, with which he was at odds over his behavior and activities in Turkey, which involved a network of schools and promoting opposition to Kemal Ataturk that was secularizing and modernizing Turkey. So he’s been here in the states, living in the Poconos in a guarded compound ever since 1999. But he continues to head up not just a global empire of school systems, including here in the U.S., but a financial empire and many Turkish cultural groups too.

FRANK GAFFNEY: This cult is really organized as you say around Fethullah Gulen, but his principal purpose though is to promote principally, the same things that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, has been doing, in fact they’ve been thick as thieves for a long time in advancing this Islamist agenda in Turkey for a long time. They’re evidentially at odds at the moment, what is that about, Clare?

CLARE LOPEZ: Well, yes, they have fallen out, but just as you say, they were on the same page for a long, long time, along with President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, which is in power now in Turkey, the AKP for short, and they’ve shared the agenda for the destruction for Ataturk’s modernization program in Turkey and a turn in Turkey back to neo-Ottoman days, and an Islamist agenda.

FRANK GAFFNEY: The caliphate, yeah. So what are they at odds about now, Clare?

CLARE LOPEZ: Well, they’re at odds because they both can’t be in power. They both can’t be on top. They’re bitter rivals for power inside of Turkey right now, as a matter of fact, the style of President Erdogan has become increasingly dictatorial, he just recently deposed his Prime Minsiter Ahmed Davutolgu and the senior jurist of the Muslim Brotherhood, interestingly, Yousef al-Qardawi recently in a public conference called Erdogan ‘sultan,’ he actually called him Sultan. So it’s about power, that’s all it is, who gets to be in charge.

FRANK GAFFNEY: So it’s kind of war between Mafia dons, it’s not substantive difference, it’s just over who will be in charge.

CLARE LOPEZ: That’s a way to put it.

FRANK GAFFNEY: Let me, Clare, ask you then about the present issue reported in the Wall Street Journal about these Harmony schools, as they’re called, in Texas. What are they and are they the only examples of what Gulen has got going here at taxpayer expense?

Team Obama’s plans to fight Zika are going to make it worse:Betsy McCaughey

Federal officials are warning that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus will start biting and infecting US residents in the next month. Key trouble spots are southern Florida, Louisiana, Texas and southern California, but the risk could extend farther north.

The virus inflicts horrific brain damage on unborn children as well as neurological disorders in adults. The Obama administration’s bungled response heightens the danger.

Americans are being told to “drain, dress and deet” – drain water lingering in their yards, wear long pants and sleeves and use bug repellent. In short, avoid mosquito bites. Imagine the health of your unborn child depending on that.

That makes as much sense as “duck and cover” did in the 1950s in the event of a nuclear attack.

Today a pregnant woman’s safety hinges on how well her local government controls mosquitoes. The differences are alarming: Fort Myers, Fla., has a $24 million budget and 27 planes for mosquito control. Cash-strapped San Antonio has only two spraying trucks.

Most health departments lack equipment to detect Zika and combat mosquito invasions. Peter Hotez, dean of tropical medicine at Houston’s Baylor Medical College, fears the epidemic’s extent won’t be known “until babies start showing up in delivery suites with microcephaly.”

Vouching for Achievement A new study shows higher test scores for students using vouchers.

Six decades after Milton Friedman proposed school vouchers, the Nobel Prize-winning economist is winning the argument on the policy results if not always on the politics.

Today 26 states and the District of Columbia have some private school choice program, and the trend is for more: Half of the programs have been established in the past five years. That hasn’t stopped opponents from arguing there’s no proof vouchers help students learn. But a new study from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas shows otherwise.

The study’s most important news is that voucher students show “statistically significant” improvement in math and reading test scores. The researchers found that vouchers on average increase the reading scores of students who get them by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by about 0.15 standard deviations. In laymen’s terms, this means that on average voucher students enjoy the equivalent of several months of additional learning compared to non-voucher students.

The researchers looked at 19 studies covering 11 voucher programs from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Delhi, India. The authors chose the 19 because they met the criteria for the “gold standard” of program evaluation, with both a “treatment group” (the voucher kids) and a “control group” (the non-voucher kids). “When you do the math, students achieve more when they have access to private school choice,” says Patrick J. Wolf, who conducted the study with M. Danish Shakeel and Kaitlin P. Anderson. CONTINUE AT SITE

Back to the Future in New York The City Council embraces drinking and urinating in public. (!!!!????)

New Yorkers under a certain age may not recall when racing home from the subway at night was normal, but maybe they’ll get the opportunity. They can thank the progressive city council, which this week repudiated the “broken windows” policing that has contributed so much to making Gotham safe.

On Wednesday the councillors decriminalized so-called quality-of-life offenses such as littering, drinking or urinating in public and loitering in parks after dark. The package of new laws downgrades such misdemeanor citations to civil summonses so scofflaws will no longer have to appear in court or pay hefty fines.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito claims the laws will reduce arrests and incarcerations of minorities. Quality-of-life offenses make up about half of criminal summonses. However, only one in five individuals who are summoned to criminal court are actually found guilty, and fewer than 10% of those arrested for misdemeanors are sentenced to jail.
Relaxing law enforcement will almost certainly promote disorder instead, as James Q. Wilson and George Kelling surmised in their classic 1982 article “Broken Windows.” Their theory, which has been borne out in real life, is that tolerating widespread disorderly behavior encourages greater lawlessness, and minor infractions often lead to major crimes. CONTINUE AT SITE

The Jews of the American Revolution A ritual for Memorial Day at a cemetery in downtown Manhattan. By Meir Y. Soloveichik

New Yorkers strolling through Chinatown in downtown Manhattan last Sunday might have noticed an unusual flurry of activity: Jewish men and women, a rabbi in a clerical gown, and a color guard gathering in graveyard tucked away behind a wrought-iron fence. Members of the New York synagogue Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in North America, were visiting their historic cemetery at Chatham Square.

In an annual ritual ahead of Memorial Day, they were there for a ceremony that few other synagogues in America could perform: honoring the members of their congregation who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

For Shearith Israel, where I am the rabbi, what is most striking is not that its history stretches back to the Colonial period, but rather that so many of its congregants sided with George Washington against England. New York was known as a Tory stronghold: When English forces expelled Washington’s troops from the city, King George III’s soldiers were greeted with a “Declaration of Dependence” signed by hundreds of New Yorkers, declaring their allegiance to Great Britain.

The Jews of New York, by contrast, were largely of the patriot persuasion, in part because Shearith Israel’s spiritual leader, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was known for his vocal support for the Colonists’ cause. Like many members of the Continental Congress, even Seixas had hoped for reconciliation with England. As late as May 1776, Seixas gathered his flock in the synagogue, located then on what is now South William Street, to pray that the English would “turn away their fierce Wrath from against North America.”