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  • State Dept. says it won’t punish Israel’s ambassador for setting up Netanyahu visit
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 5:04 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    The State Department indicated Thursday that is was not considering any punishment for Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, after he helped arrange for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress without telling the White House.

    The New York Times reported Wednesday that Obama administration officials are still “angry” over how the visit was orchestrated between Netanyahu and House Republicans, and how Netanyahu accepted without first clearing it with the White House.

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned visit to the U.S. has led to criticism of Israel’s U.S. ambassador, Ron Dermer, for setting up the visit without telling the White House. Image: GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images

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  • Senate moves ahead with Iran sanctions bill over Obama’s objections
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    The Senate Banking Committee defied warnings from the White House on Thursday and advanced legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran if it doesn’t agree to curb its nuclear ambitions by June.

    The Obama administration has said it doesn’t want Congress passing any sanctions bills against Iran while it’s negotiating a nuclear deal. Republicans and Democrats have criticized the talks and said Iran has pushed for extensions to drag them out and give it more time to work on its nuclear program.

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    The Senate Banking Committee, led by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) advanced an Iran sanctions bill Thursday over objections from the White House. Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

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  • The Senate just advanced the Keystone pipeline bill and will pass it later today
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 1:18 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    The Senate on Thursday took a major step toward passing legislation that would approve the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline.

    After weeks of considering Republican and Democratic amendments to the bill, Republicans finally found enough Democrats to get over a procedural obstacle that required 60 votes. The Senate voted 62-35 in favor of ending debate on the bill, which will allow the Senate to pass the bill later in the day.

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    The Senate will pass the Keystone XL pipeline bill Thursday afternoon, delivering a victory to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas.). Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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  • Here’s what happens when other countries refuse to take back their criminal aliens. And here’s how the GOP wants to fix it.
    Posted January 29, 2015 at 9:50 am by Pete Kasperowicz

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    Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) proposed legislation this week that would block the issuance of U.S. visas to foreign diplomats if their home country doesn’t agree to take back their own citizens who commit serious crimes in America.

    Under current U.S. law, aliens who commit crimes must be repatriated back to their country of origin. But when their home countries refuse to accept them, they are eventually set free again in the United States.

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    Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) has proposed legislation aimed at pressuring foreign countries to take back their criminal aliens from the United States. Image: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

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  • Watch: Loretta Lynch can’t say if she’d trust Richard Nixon’s AG to investigate Watergate
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday tried to get Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch to admit that maybe sometimes, a special prosecutor is needed to investigate the executive branch when there’s a clear conflict of interest.

    But it was harder than he thought.

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    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tried to get AG nominee Loretta Lynch to admit that sometimes an independent prosecutor is needed to investigate the executive branch, but didn’t get very far. Image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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  • Trey Gowdy threatens to subpoena State Dept. officials over Benghazi
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 5:10 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Wednesday threatened to issue subpoenas to compel State Department officials to testify before his Select Committee on Benghazi.

    Gowdy made that threat in a statement that said he would continue to run his committee according to rules already agreed to by the House, after he offered to work with Democrats to improve those rules. Among other things, Democrats this week argued it’s unfair that only Republicans can issue subpoenas.

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    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Wednesday threatened to subpoena several State Department officials to testify on Benghazi, prompting Democrats to protest. Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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  • 5 allegations that may have gotten a Russian spy-turned-whistleblower killed by a mini nuclear weapon
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 3:58 pm by Benjamin Weingarten

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    It has been called by British officials a “miniature nuclear attack on the streets of London.”

    That is the cause of death of a former Russian spy-turned-whistleblower, Alexander Litvinenko, whose assassination through the poisoning of a cup of tea with Polonium-210, a highly radioactive substance, allegedly by two Russian officials (one of whom is currently serving as a member of Russia’s Duma), became a major international incident now re-surfacing over 8 years after his death.

    Alexander V. Litvinenko was jailed at one point after he criticized Russia’s spy agency publicly in 1998. A fellow dissident officer opted to conceal his face. (Credit: Sergei Kaptilkin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image)

    Alexander V. Litvinenko was jailed at one point after he criticized Russia’s spy agency publicly in 1998. A fellow dissident officer opted to conceal his face. (Credit: Sergei Kaptilkin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image)

    On January 27th, the long-awaited, politically sensitive British inquiry into Litvinenko’s assassination, which will explore all of the details around his death including potential Russian government involvement, finally began.

    Litvinenko, who turned on the Russian FSB after refusing to carry out orders to assassinate oligarch Boris Berezovsky, ultimately landed in London, where he spent years blowing the whistle on all matter of criminal actions allegedly perpetrated by the Russian government itself, from terrorism to drug smuggling — often fingering Vladimir Putin himself as the man behind these activities.

    Below are five of Litvinenko’s most staggering allegations, which may have ultimately led to his 2006 assassination, as compiled based on his “Allegations: Selected Works by Alexander Litvinenko.” You can read much more about the inquiry in its opening statements.

    1. Russia planned the bombing of its own citizens in 1999 as a false-flag attack, creating a pretext for the invasion of Chechnya, the wave of popularity of which Vladimir Putin rode to the presidency in 2000

    In an article titled “1999 Apartment Explosions: the Case Against FSB,” Litvinenko laid out the broad strokes of his investigation into the 1999 apartment bombings that took place in several Russian cities, culminating in the launching of a war in Chechnya theoretically in retaliation for the attacks.

    The one bombing attempt that failed occurred at a building in Ryazan, in which the Russian government initially claimed they had thwarted an attack against Chechen terrorists, only for information to leak that the prime suspects were FSB IDs, and the official government line shift — the thwarted bombing in Ryazan was now actually a training exercise.

    As Litvinenko described it:

    At 19:00 on 23 September, the ‘Vesti’ official TV programme broadcasted its regular news report: ‘Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister of Russia, announced an air-raid on Grozny airport today’. So, while in Ryazan they were pursuing terrorists, the Russian aircraft bombed Grozny. The people of Ryazan were avenged! The masterminds of that terrorist attack would pay dearly for their spoiled day and sleepless night!

    Next day, on 24 September, the terrorists were finally arrested. After being cruelly beaten, the terrorists produced their FSB ID cards.

    Immediately after that, at noon of 24 September, the FSB chief Patrushev made an urgent statement to Russian and foreign journalists. He announced that all the events in Ryazan were merely a training exercise of Russian FSB. There was no hexogen, Patrushev said, and the sugar-bags contained just sugar. The detonators were fakes. The test of the substance gave wrong results, because the gas analyser device was defective.

    Meanwhile, the bags of explosives, the detonator and the arrested terrorists were urgently moved from Ryazan to Moscow.

    The terrorists’ actions in all four earlier apartment explosions were identical to those in Ryazan. The manner of crime was the same everywhere. In particular, hexogen packed in sugar bags was used as the explosive in all five cases.

    After the fiasco in Ryazan, apartment explosions in Russia stopped.

    Litvinenko goes on to document that several of the key witnesses that might have exposed the truth about the various bombings in Russia were either put in jail, assassinated, or died, including two leading State Duma members of the public commission investigating the September 1999 terrorist attacks.

    Litvinenko wrote a book on his investigation titled “Blowing Up Russia: The Secret Plot to Bring Back KGB Terror.”

    In an article titled, “Sorry, I didn’t realise that was top secret,” published in February 2004, Litvinenko wrote:

    Last Tuesday, well-known human rights activist Alexander Podrabinek was summoned to the FSB’s Lefortovo Prison for interrogation. FSB suspects him of being involved in the disclosure of State secrets, as he helped distributing the book Blowing Up Russia: Terror From Within by Yuri Felshtinsky and myself. The book accused the FSB of organizing terrorist attacks, namely apartment blocks explosions in Russian cities in September 1999.

    Honestly, I had no idea that the FSB involvement in terrorist attacks was a State secret. My former superiors should have told me that in advance…

    Jokes aside, now it is clear that the allegation Mr. Felshtinsky and I made is true. Four years after the crime, the FSB began confessing to it. Indeed, in legal terms, only truth can constitute a State secret.

    …This July, another criminal case was filed on the disclosure of State secret in Blowing Up Russia. So the FSB involvement in the 1999 apartment explosions is not only fact, but also a State secret, which you cannot disclose without risking imprisonment.

    I appreciate the smartness of Senior Lieutenant A.V. Soima, who investigates this case. Indeed, he virtually has Putin and Company, as well as the whole KGB system, by their throats. There is a popular proverb in Lubyanka: presidents come and go, but prison-guards stay. So, Mr. Soima probably knows what he is doing. As soon as Putin’s regime is about to fall, the Senior Lieutenant has every opportunity to re-qualify the case from disclosure of State secrets to terrorism by a single scratch of his pen. Putin and his friends will flee from the Kremlin, only to run into the brave detective waiting at the gates with handcuffs.

    In the official inquiry, the legal representative for Mr. Litvinenko’s family noted during opening testimony:

    Litvinenko Inquiry page 144. (Credit: Litvinenko Inquiry – www.litvinenkoinquiry.org)

    Litvinenko Inquiry page 144. (Credit: Litvinenko Inquiry – www.litvinenkoinquiry.org)

    2. Litvinenko cited multiple terrorist attacks carried out by the FSB, and claims that Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s number two after bin Laden, was trained by the FSB

    In this television image from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden, right, listens to his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaking at an undisclosed location. (Photo: AP)

    In this television image from Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Osama bin Laden, right, listens to his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaking at an undisclosed location. (Photo: AP) 

    In an interview conducted in 2004 with the publication Europa-Express, Litvinenko stated:

    I have published the evidence that the FSB blew up buildings and organized other terrorist attacks in Russia. For example, their officer capital Shelenkov was killed trying to blow up a railroad bridge across the Yauza River in late 1993.

    An FSB agent, Lieutenant-Colonel Vorobyov, was arrested and then convicted for blowing up a bus in Moscow in 1994. Then an FSB General, the chief of a big Lubyanka department, personally asked the judge to soften the sentence for Vorobyov.

    There is sufficient evidence of the FSB involvement in the [1999] apartment block explosions in Moscow. The man who rented the basements where the explosives were later placed was FSB agent Vladimir Romanovich. That was proven by lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin. Then a gun was planted on Trepashkin and he was imprisoned.

    …There is evidence that Russian special services are connected to Al Queda. One of Al Queda terrorists is Namangani, a tadjik. He undertook a special training from 1989 to 1991 in KGB First Chief Directorate’s training camp. That training camp still exists now and belongs to the fSB.

    …A closest associate of bin Laden and his number two in Al Queda, Aiman al Zawahiri, undertook an FSB special training in Dagestan in 1998. Before that, he had nothing to do with bin Laden and did not even know him. But after the training he went straight to bin Laden. For some reason, bin Laden accepted him and made him his number two in Al Queda.

    …It is possible to destroy the whole international terrorism tomorrow, along with Russian Mafia. All you need to do is disband the Russian special services.

    He later spoke of al Zawahiri in a July 9, 2005 interview:

    In 1998, sentenced to death in Egypt for terrorism and wanted by the Interpol, Ayman al-Zawahiri stayed in an FSB training centre in Dagestan. He took a half a year special training course there. Then he was sent to Afghanistan, where he had never been before. Immediately after that, under supervision of his FSB bosses, he penetrated Bin Laden’s entourage and soon became his deputy in Al Queda…

    After Ayman al-Zawahiri’s terrorist training and transfer to Afghanistan, I served in one of the FSB’s most secret departments. So I saw those officers from the FSB Directorate for Dagestan, who had been training al-Zawahiri shortly before, being re-assigned to Moscow and getting promotions.

    3. Litvinenko argues that Putin and the FSB control the Russian drug trade, and that in particular it was his stumbling upon this fact that put the target on Litvinenko’s back

    Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Federation Council members in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service) AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service

    Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Federation Council members in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Thursday, March 27, 2014. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service) AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service 

    In an article titled “Why I Believe Putin Wanted Me Dead,” published shortly after his death on November 25, 2006, Litvinenko writes about an investigation that led him to a corrupt Colonel Khokholkov, the head of a top-secret unit in the FSB.

    Litvinenko found evidence that Khokholkov had enriched himself by extorting money from Moscow’s largely Uzbeki drug kingpins, who traded through Afghanistan into Europe. When Litvinenko reported this to a superior, the superior shrugged off the charges, and Litvinenko was then curiously assigned to work directly for Khokholkov himself.

    During this time, Litvinenko discovered evidence of “massive involvement by the Moscow Police Organised Crime Unit in criminal activity.”

    Ultimately, when Vladimir Putin was made head of the FSB, Litvinenko was asked to report this information to Putin.

    Later Litvinenko was fired.

    He wrote:

    Before I left [the FSB], a former boss at the Anti-terrorist Centre went to Putin to put in a word on my behalf. Returning from the meeting, he looked at me, shook his head and said: ‘I do not envy you, Alexander. There is common money involved.’

    I did not understand then what he meant by ‘common money’. Now I do. he was referring to Colonel Khohkolkov and his dealings with the Uzbek drug barons. This understanding came to me many months later. I discovered that Putin’s connection with Colonel Khokholkov dated back to the time when Putin was a Deputy for Economic Affairs to the Mayor of St Petersburg.

    I had an informer in St. Petersburg’s city hall. He kept an eye on the criminal connections of city officials. When the Mayor lost the elections, Putin lost his job. One day my informant had a beer with him. Putin was down and out and could not get hold of money he had stashed away. He was under surveillance by the new Mayor’s people. My informant took pity on Putin and gave him $2,000 as an ‘open-ended’ loan. When Putin became President, he repaid him by appointing him an economic adviser.

    As for me, my years of service at the FSB were rewarded by being fired and thrown in jail. It was a year before I was released pending trial. My informant came to see me following my release: ‘Putin will squash you,’ he said, ‘and no one can help you. He has no choice because he was working with the Uzbek group. There is lots of common money there.’

    I could not believe he was using the same phrase: common money. He was telling me that Putin had been directly linked with the mob that my investigations into Colonel Khokholkov had led me to. How close had I come to his name?

    My informant smiled: ‘Remember the smuggling of rare metal in the early Nineties? Putin was in charge of export licensing. You worked on organised crime? Tell me, could anyone export a kilo of metal in those days without the mob? The would blow up the whole train. And he was right at the centre of it all. All his licensees were mob front.’

    The two of us were talking in a restaurant. ‘Vladimir fell for power very quickly,’ confided my informant. ‘Look, when Yeltsin drove to the Kremlin, only one traffic line was cleared. But for Vladimir they close down the whole highway. He is not fit for power. He has no political skills and a certain weird way of thinking. He is dangerous.’

    My friend got drunk and I took him out to the lobby. ‘Are you crazy?’ I said. ‘All of this will be at the FSB tomorrow morning. Don’t you know that I am watched?’

    But it was too late. Three weeks after that conversation he was killed by a hit-man from a passing bicycle. A direct hit at close range. I learned about it from TV. A presidential aide has been shot. One of many during the past decade.

    In response to the question “Who controls the supplies of heroin in West European countries?” in an October 14, 2004 article, Litvinenko wrote:

    While working in the FSB I have learned that my bosses supervised illegal transportation of drugs from Afghanistan to West Europe via Russia. I have published all that in details in my book Lubyanka Crime Syndicate, in chapter 4 which is called ‘Uzbek Connection’. Unfortunately, the book is proscribed for being sold in Russia, but it is available on a number of Internet web-sites.

    …[M]ore information has become available…particularly on President Putin’s connections to Colombian drug cartels. Thus, Nikolai Melnichenko, a former Major of Ukraina’s Security Service, has covertly tape-recorded conversations in the office of Ukraine’s president, and kindly shared the tapes with me. I also possess the original conclusion from an expert that these tapes are genuine and can be used as evidence in court. It is from those tapes that I learned that Putin is closely connected to one of the Colombian drug cartels through ‘Tambov’ crime syndicate. Putin, right until he was elected president in 2000, was a consultant to the German SPAG company. That Company laundered the money earned through illegal sales of Colombian-made drugs in Europe.

    Undoubtedly, the Chekists also get money from the illegal circulation of drugs in Russia itself. Drug abuse in Russia has now reached the scope of a national catastrophe. It is enough to take the numbers of officially registered drug addicts and multiply them by the dose of drugs each of them needs every day to see that we are talking about tons of drugs being sold. Needless to say, the Chekists would never go past such huge profits.

    This year, Putin founded a new special service to fight drug trade, and transferred some former responsibilities of the Fiscal Police to that new service. Its newly appointed chief, Cherkesov [Gen. Viktor Cherkesov, Director of Russian Federal Service for Control of Drug Traffic], is the president’s old accomplice in many of his dirty machinations. Thus, in mid-1990s Putin and Cherkesov together racketed St. Petersburg’s sea port, which was a major transit route for the supplies of drugs from Afghanistan to Europe. Now Putin has centralised Russia’s struggle against the drug dealers in the reliable hands of Cherkesov. Why has he done that? He simply disguised the control over drug trade and subsequent money-laundering as the struggle against these crimes. Now that it is centralised under Cherkesov’s supervision, there will be no outsiders intervening in their dirty business.

    Of the book Litvinenko cites, in the inquiry his family’s legal representative states:

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    Litvinenko Inquiry page 145. (Credit: Litvinenko Inquiry – www.litvinenkoinquiry.org)

    4. Putin arranged a child sex slave ring

    In a March 30, 2006 interview, Litvinenko stated:

    You remember that scandal with pedophiles which was covered up in Latvia [In the late 1990s a number of top officials in Latvia's government were accused of pedophilia]. These were Putin and [senior Russian official Nikolai] Patrushev who personally organised the supplies of children to Latvia from St. Petersburg’s orphanages for sexual abuse. The evidence of that was presented to Katyshev, then deputy Prosecutor-General of Russia, who hushed it up. Two Latvians, who were Putin’s and Patrushev’s accomplices in this disgusting enterprise and whose job was the trafficking of these poor children, are given political asylum in Russia now.

    5. Litvinenko claimed that Putin and his subordinates “turned the Russian military into a gang of murderers, rapists and marauders” in a letter in which he declared he was renouncing his military rank and sending back his State decorations

    In a May 4, 2004 article titled “Open Letter to Vladimir Putin,” Litvinenko wrote that he was forced to request that Putin divest him of his military rank based in part on the acquittal of several Russian special forces officers who murdered six civilians in Chechnya, including a pregnant woman and mother of seven children:

    [Y]ou, Mr. Putin, and your subordinates…have turned the Russian military into a gang of murderers, rapists and marauders.

    I have grown up in a family of a military officer, a Second World War veteran. Such phrases as ‘defense of the country’ and ‘military duty’ have been holy for me since my childhood. That is why I am appalled and insulted to be counted in the same ranks as the maniacs in uniform who you lead.

    An army where rapists and marauders remain unpunished degrades into a crowd and becomes dangerous to those whom it is called to defend…even the generals of German Wehrmacht shot their soldiers for stealing a chicken in occupied territories. And you have publicly called every soldier to ‘do them in’, thus corrupting and destroying whatever had remained of the old Soviet army.

    …Today, when murderers in uniform are at loose and freed from responsibility, you are trying to show you believe in the supremacy of the law and cannot intervene with the so-called independent judiciary. If so, may I ask you, Mr. President: did you not break the law when you declined to fulfill the court decision regarding Colonel Trepashkin? When you proclaimed General Kalugin guilty of high treason before the court sentence? When you replaced the jury members during the trial of scientist Sutyagin? When you commented on the criminal cases against Khodorkovsky and Zakayev, both of which were evidently fabricated on your instructions?

     

    Note: The links to the book in this post will give you an option to elect to donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale to a charity of your choice. Mercury One, the charity founded by TheBlaze’s Glenn Beck, is one of the options. Donations to Mercury One go towards efforts such as disaster relief, support for education, support for Israel and support for veterans and our military. You can read more about Amazon Smile and Mercury One here.

    Follow Ben Weingarten (@bhweingarten) and TheBlazeBooks on Twitter and Facebook.

    You can find all of our Blaze Books interviews on Soundcloud and Stitcher, and subscribe to our podcast automatically via iTunes.

     

  • New day in the Senate: GOP pledges to attack the deficit and debt
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 2:19 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, is promising to push for passage of budgets in the Senate that move away from the huge annual deficits seen in the last several years.

    Enzi chaired the first hearing of the new committee on Wednesday, and said the committee is meeting just as the national debt hit $18 trillion. Enzi said his committee would start by passing a budget — passing any budget would be a big change in the Senate, which skipped several years of budget work under Democratic leadership.

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    Sen. Mke Enzi (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday pledged that the Senate would seek to pass a budget that starts whittling down the budget deficit, and ultimately, the national debt. Image: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

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  • AG nominee Loretta Lynch has one big advantage in the Senate: She’s not Eric Holder
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

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    Senate Republicans indicated Wednesday that they might be willing to accept President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next attorney general, in large part because the nominee isn’t Eric Holder.

    Obama nominated U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Holder, and on Wednesday, GOP senators seemed to appreciate her competence and her earlier visits with then to discuss how she might do the job. But it also seemed clear that part of her smooth nomination hearing had a lot to do with who she wasn’t.

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    U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch seemed to impress senators on Wednesday with her thoughtful answers and the fact that she’s not Eric Holder. Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

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  • Obama’s AG pick defends legality of White House’s immigration action
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 11:20 am by Pete Kasperowicz

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    The nominee to be the next Attorney General on Wednesday defended President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, and backed up the Department of Justice’s assessment of whether that action was legal.

    U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, and was expected to be pressed repeatedly on the legality of Obama’s immigration action, as well as other actions from Obama that the GOP opposes.

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    Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on Wednesday said the analysis on the legality of President Obama’s immigration action seemed ‘reasonable.’ Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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  • Rand Paul, 30 other senators renew call to audit the Federal Reserve
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 10:23 am by Pete Kasperowicz

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    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and dozens of other senators have re-introduced legislation that would require a full audit of the Federal Reserve, a step many conservatives have demanded in order to get a better grip on how monetary policy has affected the lives of millions of Americans.

    “A complete and thorough audit of the Fed will finally allow the American people to know exactly how their money is being spent by Washington,” Paul said Wednesday. “The Fed currently operates under a cloak of secrecy and it has gone on for too long.”

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    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has re-introduced legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, along with 30 other senators. Image: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

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  • Glenn Beck thinks this brother and sister YouTube duo will be stars. Listen for yourself.
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 10:06 am by Mike Opelka

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    Nathan Leach is a singer-songwriter.

    Over the past two years, Leach has posted 55 videos of himself singing and playing on his YouTube channel.

    Sometimes he plays solo, other clips feature Nathan and his sister, Eva. He has also posted videos featuring the entire Leach family performing together. All of the songs are a mixture of originals and cover versions of hits from other artists.

    Yesterday, a friend of Glenn Beck’s sent him the video below. He listened and believes “this kid and his sister” are destined to be stars. Many YouTube viewers seem to agree.

    Image: YouTube

    Image source: YouTube

    In the two years since this one video was recorded and posted, it’s earned more than 2.1 million views. The other 54 clips from Nathan Leach Music average about 10,000 views each.

    This particular clip was recorded by their mother in the Leach family kitchen and features Nathan and Eva singing Family of the Year’s “Hero.”

    Beck said, “This is what America is all about,” adding,”Putting your all heart in what you do and releasing it without expectations.”

    “Because of today’s technology you just might find that the next day the song of your heart is on the lips of millions.”

    Watch the video that had Beck and everyone in the New York studios singing this song:

    (H/T: wimp.com)

    Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter

  • We asked an expert: ‘What exactly is an EMP, and how much damage could it do?’ His response was terrifying.
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 9:57 am by Benjamin Weingarten

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    In light of nuclear negotiations with Iran, the general conflagration in the Middle East, Russia’s march and a whole host of other chaotic situations worldwide, recently we sat down with an expert on national security, foreign policy and in particular nuclear proliferation, John Wohlstetter, to discuss the gravest threats to the American homeland.

    Wohlstetter, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and London Center for Policy Research, two conservative think tanks, recently released an updated edition of his book on this very topic, “Sleepwalking With the Bomb,” and delivered a speech earlier in January titled “Rethinking the Unthinkable Why Failures of Imagination, Projection, and Strategy Court Nuclear Catastrophe” that piqued our interest.

    During our interview with Wohlstetter, we had the chance to ask a very basic set of questions about what is potentially the most devastating of all weapons that could be launched at the market homeland: Electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Wohlstetter’s five minute primer, which you can find below, covers (i) What exactly an EMP is, (ii) How much damage it could cause in a worst case scenario and (iii) How an EMP attack might transpire:

    What would the doomsday scenario of an EMP attack against an America whose infrastructure is not currently protected look like?

    In a worst case scenario the detonation would be over Dorothy’s Kansas, in the center of the country. And at 300 miles altitude, you would have a circle, 360 degrees, with a radius of 1,470 miles…that covers the continental United States lower 48 states.

    And in a worst case, you could see within a year 90% of the population die, as you don’t have electric power, nothing works, you can’t even get food to market. It would be catastrophic beyond belief.

    And if you do it over the Eastern seaboard, you could center an explosion at a lower altitude, say 20-30 miles up over Pennsylvania. And you would cover about, if you centered it there…375 miles…And what you would do with that is take down the Eastern interconnection which supplies 70% of the country’s electric power.

    Given that our infrastructure is not protected against this attack today — an infrastructure that Wohlstetter argues could be hardened for a figure of around $10 billion — are there at least contingency plans in place?

    If the Congressional panel that looked at it was correct, in a worst case…you could see 90 percent or 100 percent of the network taken out. And if that happens, you can’t recover. It’s not like out of a disaster like a hurricane where you have edge recovery — communities that bring in supplies, rebuild for you, house people who have been displaced as happened after Katrina for example. You don’t have that edge recovery. In the case of the network, there are some transformers in big systems that take several years when you order them to bring them in and put them online. And…at least on what is know publicly, we do not have an adequate supply [of them]. [Link ours]

    During the interview, which you can find below, we also had the chance to discuss several other critical topics including: (more…)

  • If a corrupt or negligent VA official gets a bonus, that’s just fine with the VA
    Posted January 28, 2015 at 9:08 am by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (12)

    The Department of Veterans Affairs said Tuesday that it’s really not sure if Congress should pass a bill that would let it take back cash bonuses awarded to employees that are later discovered to be corrupt or negligent.

    Statements from two VA officials stunned members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, some of whom are pushing for ways to claw back undeserving bonuses in an effort to fix what still appears to be a broken and corrupt VA.

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    VA Secretary Robert McDonald isn’t sure if the VA should be able to take back bonuses paid to corrupt or negligent officials. Image: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

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  • HHS says 9.5 million are enrolled in Obamacare, more than its November estimate
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 5:39 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (4)

    The Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday that 9.5 million people were signed up in an Obamacare health plan as of this week, above the roughly 9 million HHS was hoping for this year.

    Obamacare is current in its second annual enrollment phase, and people can sign up for a health insurance program through February 15 before the enrollment window closes.

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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  • U.S., Cuba admit they don’t trust each other…as they’re supposedly trying to rebuild their relationship
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 4:03 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (1)

    Former Cuban President Fidel Castro and the U.S. State Department have each confessed within the last 24 hours that they don’t trust each other.

    But that isn’t stopping both countries from trying to formalize diplomatic relations for the first time in years. The U.S. and Cuba met just last week in Havana, and Cuban officials will likely come to the U.S. in the coming weeks to continue those meetings.

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    A woman buys pork in an open air market in the Jesus Maria neighborhood of Habana Vieja, under a poster of Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro. Castro says he doesn’t trust the U.S., and the State Department said Tuesday it doesn’t much trust Cuba. The two are trying to rebuild their relationship. Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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  • Senate Dems give Obama two months to reach a deal with Iran
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 2:46 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (7)

    Ten Senate Democrats told President Barack Obama on Tuesday that they would not vote for an Iran sanctions bill until after late March, essentially giving Obama two months to reach a framework deal under which Iran agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program.

    The Obama administration extended negotiations with Iran on a nuclear deal last November, and is now targeting March 24 as a deadline for reaching a framework agreement. The administration hopes to reach a final deal by June 30.

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    Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and nine other Senate Democrats said they would not vote on an Iran sanctions bill until late March, after a key deadline in the Iran nuclear talks passes. Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

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  • Help Doc and Skip name their new on-demand feature!
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 1:47 pm by Skip LaCombe

    Comments (0)

    Hosts of The Morning Blaze, Doc Thompson and yours truly Skip LaCombe, want your help to name the new on-demand feature of their show. They’ll be posting daily some of the highlights of their show and need a name for the endeavor.

    We talked about it this morning on their show. Doc and Skip mocked some of the names that other Blaze hosts had picked this morning during their radio show. Listen to the segment below and vote for your choice!

    Name The New Feature

    Short Stack
    Doc & Skip’s Blazin’ Bit!
    Buck Shots
    Morning Perks
    TMB Fun Size
    Kal’s Cut
    Mannequin Minute
    Blaze Bits
    Sparks
    Morning Quips
    Take out
    Extra Shot
    Other
    Please Specify:

    Poll Maker

     

  • How much will Obama’s immigration action cost taxpayers? Republicans demand answers.
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 1:38 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (3)

    Three Senate Republicans are demanding to know how much it will cost to implement President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, in anticipation that more taxpayer funding will be needed to carry out that action.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), and Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) warned the chief financial officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that Obama’s action raises “serious legal questions and may have significant budgetary consequences.”

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    President Barack Obama will soon implement his immigration action, but GOP senators want to know what it will cost. Image: AP Photo/Saurabh Das

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  • Watch: Trey Gowdy tussles with State Dept. liaison during uncomfortable back-and-forth
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (101)

    Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Tuesday demanded that the State Department speed up the process of getting information to Congress about the 2012 attack that led to the death of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

    But several Democrats rejected Gowdy’s implied argument that State is stonewalling, and said State had not rejected any request for information yet. Democrats argued that Gowdy’s Select Committee on Benghazi only started asking for information in mid-November, and State so far has not rejected any request for this information.

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  • Is the world reliving Churchill’s history of the run-up to WWII? These 12 passages suggest we might be.
    Posted January 27, 2015 at 8:21 am by Benjamin Weingarten

    Comments (30)

    Recently we marked the 50th anniversary of the January 24, 1965 passing of Winston Churchill.

    Churchill was not only a courageous leader but an eminent historian and lucid writer who left us with volumes of valuable insight and wisdom.

    We have been flipping through his, “The Gathering Storm,” which recounts among other parts of history the lead up to World War II, when Churchill stood as a lone voice against Nazi Germany — a threat he so clearly saw while the world dithered.

    Below are 12 passages from Churchill’s Volume I of “The Gathering Storm,” that look awfully eerie in light of the rising totalitarian, anti-Western, often anti-Semitic and savage, jihadist, Communist and fascist forces rising in the world today.

    1. “We are not the same country we used to be when we are an island, only twenty years ago.”

    (Image source: Anthony Quintano / AnthonyQuintano.com)

    (Image source: Anthony Quintano / AnthonyQuintano.com)

    Churchill 1

    2. “[M]ighty forces were adrift, the void was open, and into that void after a pause there strode a maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breast.”

    Churchill 2

    3. “As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism. Thus were set on foot kindred movements which were destined soon to plunge the world into even more hideous strife, which none can say has ended their destruction.”

    Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos speaks during a news conference  in front of a banner with the twisting Maeander. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos speaks during a news conference in front of a banner with the twisting Maeander. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

    Churchill 3 Churchill 3A

    4. “The crimes of the vanquished find their background and their explanation, thought not, of course, their pardon, in the follies of the victors. Without these follies crime would have found neither temptation nor opportunity.”

    Churchill 4 Churchill 4A

    5. “Mankind has never been in this position before. Without having improved appreciably in virtue or enjoying wiser guidance, it has got into its hands for the first time the tools by which it can unfailingly accomplish its own extermination.” (more…)

  • Dems keep the Keystone bill clogged up in the Senate
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 7:02 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (35)

    Democrats on Monday night were able to stall legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline, sending Republicans back to the drawing board on a plan to get the bill through the Senate.

    The Senate held two votes on whether to end debate on the bill and move it toward passage, but it failed both times, 53-39. Sixty votes were needed to advance the bill.

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    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) failed to get the Keystone bill past a critical Senate vote, but Republicans said they would try again in the near future. Image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

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  • Doctors ‘optimistic’ after Reid’s eye surgery
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 5:18 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (12)

    A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday that doctors are encouraged that Reid will regain full use of his right eye after surgery earlier today, although they said they can’t be sure until more time passes.

    “Doctors have said they are optimistic about his prospects for regaining vision in his right eye but there is no definitive verdict yet,” spokesman Adam Jentleson said.

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  • Watch: Dem says Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu was a ‘terrible mistake’
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm by Pete Kasperowicz

    Comments (19)

    A House Democrat said Sunday that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made a “terrible mistake” by inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress, in part because Netanyahu will likely push Congress to pass a bill that President Barack Obama opposes.

    Netanyahu is expected to talk about the need to hit Iran with tougher sanctions, something Obama opposes as his administration tries to negotiate a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran.

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  • Hear from another American sniper
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 2:04 pm by Chris Salcedo

    Comments (10)

    Folks who belong to the extremist left-wing in America are going crazy because the nation is rejecting their timid surrender to America’s enemies. Americans are registering their votes through their attendance at the box office. “American Sniper,” has trounced the competition for the second straight weekend.  The movie has taken in over $200 million dollars and counting. That total blows away the other offerings from liberal-dominated Hollywood.

    Meanwhile, as the movie soars in popularity and money, liberals are becoming more unhinged. From Seth Rogan to Michael Moore, from Bill Maher to Howard Dean, the assault on Chris Kyle’s life, legacy and his survivors escalates courtesy of the Democrat’s biggest supporters and patrons.

    Over the weekend, the Chris Salcedo Show talked with Nicholas Irving, “The Reaper.” He, like Kyle, put his life on the line to protect other American heroes as they fought radicalized Islamic fundamentalists overseas.

    Cue to 21:05 to hear from an American hero: