Archives for News

Rabid right threatens revenge on Boy Scouts for allowing gays

The Boy Scouts of America will get no reprieve from controversy after a contentious vote to accept openly gay boys as Scouts. Dismayed conservatives are already looking at alternative youth groups as they predict a mass exodus from the BSA. Gay-rights supporters vowed Friday to maintain pressure on the Scouts to end the still-in-place ban on gay adults serving as leaders. “They’re not on our good list yet,” said Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group. He said the HRC, in its annual rankings of corporate policies on workplace fairness, would deduct points from companies that
Read More

Many unanswered questions on Obama’s vague drone rules

President Barack Obama left plenty of ambiguity in new policy guidelines that he says will restrict how and when the U.S. can launch targeted drone strikes, leaving himself significant power over how and when the weapons can be deployed. National security experts say it’s imperative to leave some room in the guidelines, given the evolving fight against terrorism. But civil rights advocates argue too little has been revealed about the program to ensure its legality, even as the president takes steps to remove some of the secrecy. “Obama said that there would be more limits on targeted killings, a step
Read More

Furlough Fridays: Sorry, nobody’s home at U.S. government

No one answered the tax-help hotline at the IRS on Friday. And you could forget about getting advice on avoiding foreclosures at the 80 Housing and Urban Development field offices nationwide. It was “furlough Friday.” Roughly 5 percent of the federal workforce — 115,000 people at six major agencies — were told not to show up as the government dealt with the continuing effects of the sequester spending cuts. The good news for many federal workers: a four-day Memorial Day weekend. The bad news: no pay for the day. The across-the-board budget reductions, the result of Washington’s failure to work
Read More

Is Obama striking a balance between threats and rights?

Forecasting the changing nature of threats against the U.S. for years to come, President Barack Obama says “America is at a crossroads.” And so, too, is his presidency’s counterterrorism policy, which has long struggled to balance protecting the nation from terror attacks while upholding Americans’ rights. The Obama administration this week acknowledged that four Americans have been killed — three of whom were not specifically targeted — in secretive overseas drone strikes against al-Qaida extremists since 2009. And in a wide-ranging speech Thursday, Obama warned that Americans must be vigilant against increasing homegrown threats from within, including from fellow citizens
Read More

Obama lifts ban on transfer of prisoners from Gitmo to Yemen

President Barack Obama is lifting his self-imposed ban on transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Yemen, where a leadership upheaval has improved the country’s security but not eliminated a terrorist organization trying to recruit jihadists. Lifting the ban is a step toward Obama’s goal of closing the Navy-run prison in Cuba since nearly 100 of the 166 terrorist suspects held there are from Yemen and have had nowhere to go even if they had been cleared for transfer. Obama wouldn’t send them home and no other country was welcoming them, and their hopelessness after a decade or more of imprisonment had
Read More

IRS official who took the fifth before Congress replaced

The Internal Revenue Service official who led the unit that targeted tea party groups and publicly disclosed the activity has been replaced, making her the third top IRS official moved aside since the episode was revealed two weeks ago. Lois Lerner was put on administrative leave on Thursday, said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and two congressional aides. Without naming Lerner, new Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emailed employees that 27-year IRS veteran Ken Corbin would become acting head of the exempt organizations division — a move the Obama administration was hoping would help ease the controversy. Grassley said Lerner rejected
Read More

Unions not lining up behind Obamacare

When President Barack Obama pushed his health care overhaul plan through Congress, he counted labor unions among his strongest supporters. But some unions leaders have grown frustrated and angry about what they say are unexpected consequences of the new law — problems that they say could jeopardize the health benefits offered to millions of their members. The issue could create a political headache next year for Democrats facing re-election if disgruntled union members believe the Obama administration and Congress aren’t working to fix the problem. “It makes an untruth out of what the president said, that if you like your
Read More

Attempts to broaden scandal beyond IRS not working so far

Three days of congressional hearings about the Internal Revenue Service‘s targeting of conservative political groups have lawmakers looking for ways to widen an investigation that has so far been largely contained within the tax collection agency. More than 11 hours of testimony and an inspector general’s report have revealed plenty of wrongdoing within the IRS. But so far, investigators have not produced evidence that anyone outside the IRS authorized the targeting, or even knew about it before a few weeks ago. They will keep trying. Three congressional committees are investigating the matter, and the leaders of those committees say they
Read More

Obama approval rating remains pretty much the same

The economy is recovering, the White House is dealing with multiple controversies, and President Barack Obama appears generally unaffected either way. Several recent polls show the president sustaining an overall approval rating around 50 percent, with no major uptick from gains in housing, jobs and the stock market, and no downtick from the recent storms over the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS and a leak investigations that has swept up the phone records of Associated Press journalists. The data suggests the economy could be insulating Obama from the immediate troubles confronting his
Read More

Obama’s national security speech looks at drones, Gitmo

President Barack Obama on Thursday is expected to address some of the thornier aspects of national security policy, including drone strikes, the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the dire threats Americans continue to face — even from fellow citizens. On the eve of the president’s speech at the National Defense University, the Obama administration revealed for the first time that a fourth American citizen had been killed in secretive drone strikes abroad. The killings of three other Americans in counterterror operations since 2009 were known before a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy
Read More