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  • RuralRebel 9:37 pm on August 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Farming   

    The Triumph of the Family Farm? 

    Farming is in the midst of a startling renaissance—one that holds lessons for America’s economic future.

    JUN 13 2012
    David Johnston

    WE BURIED MY grandfather last spring. He had died in his sleep in his own bed at 95, so, as funerals go, it wasn’t a grim occasion. But it was a historic one for our small rural community. My great-grandparents were early settlers, arriving in 1913 and farming the land throughout their lives. My grandfather continued that tradition, and now rests next to them on a hillside overlooking the family homestead.

    If you’re a part of the roughly 99 percent of the North American population that doesn’t work on a farm, you might guess at what comes next—many a lament has been written about the passing of the good old days in rural areas, the family farm’s decline, and the inevitable loss of the homestead. But in many respects, that narrative itself is obsolete. That’s certainly true in my family’s case: The Freeland farm is still being cultivated by my father. And it is bigger and more prosperous than ever.

    My dad farms 3,200 acres of his own, and rents another 2,400—all told, a territory seven times the size of Central Park. Last year, he produced 3,900 tonnes (or metric tons) of wheat, 2,500 tonnes of canola, and 1,400 tonnes of barley. (That’s enough to produce 13 million loaves of bread, 1.2 million liters of vegetable oil, and 40,000 barrels of beer.) His revenue last year was more than $2 million, and he admits to having made “a good profit,” but won’t reveal more than that. The farm has just three workers, my dad and his two hired men, who farm with him nine months of the year. For the two or three weeks of seeding and harvest, my dad usually hires a few friends to help out, too.

    My father farms in northern Alberta, but his story is typical of large-scale family farmers across North America. Urbanites may picture farmers as hip heritage-pig breeders returning to the land, or a struggling rural underclass waging a doomed battle to hang on to their patrimony as agribusiness moves in. But these stereotypes are misleading. In 2010, of all the farms in the United States with at least $1 million in revenues, 88 percent were family farms, and they accounted for 79 percent of production. Large-scale farmers today are sophisticated businesspeople who use GPS equipment to guide their combines, biotechnology to boost their yields, and futures contracts to hedge their risk. They are also pretty rich.

    “It definitely is not just your father,” Jason Henderson, the vice president and branch executive of the Omaha branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, told me. Henderson is essentially the Fed’s top analyst of the agricultural economy. “In the U.S. and Canada in 2010 and 2011,” he said, “farm incomes have been booming. U.S. net farming incomes rose more than 20 percent in each of those years. Farmers are flush with cash.”

    Evidence of the boom is visible throughout the Farm Belt. “Tractor and combine sales have doubled, compared with 2003,” Henderson told me. “Pivot-irrigation-system sales are up. I’ve been driving across Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and I have not seen so many shiny new grain bins, ever.”

    Troy Houlder, my father’s local farm-machinery dealer, told me that in the 22 years he’s been in the business, “supply has never been this tight.” The vehicles in highest demand, he said, are midrange-horsepower tractors, which run from $70,000 to $110,000. If a farmer walked into his store in early May wanting to buy that kind of tractor, “he’s not getting one until probably November or December, even if he had a fistful of hundreds.”

    Big Money has noticed these trends, and is beginning to pile in. “We are seeing a tremendous uptick in allocations and interest in farmland,” says Chris Erickson of HighQuest Partners, an agricultural consultancy and investor. Erickson told me that big institutional investors—pension funds, insurance companies—have recently been making investments in farmland ranging from “the several hundred millions to the billions.” Erickson said this broad interest is new, and is driven by the fact that “the fundamentals are changing dramatically.”

    Jim Rogers, who co-founded the legendary hedge fund Quantum with George Soros, told me he believes farming is “one of the most exciting professions” in the world—and that the recent boom is likely to continue for a long time. “Throughout history, we’ve had long periods when the financial sectors were in charge,” he said, “but we’ve also had long periods when the people who have produced real goods were in charge—the farmers, the miners … All of you people who got M.B.A.s made mistakes, because the City of London and Wall Street are not going to be great places to be in the next two or three decades. It’s going to be the people who produce real goods.”

    The rural renaissance isn’t just a curiosity: it’s an important new chapter in the story of America’s ability to thrive in the global economy, and in eras of disruptive technological change. As America struggles to adapt to a new wave of creative destruction that is shaking up the manufacturing and service sectors as profoundly as industrialization transformed the agrarian age, the resurgence of the family farm offers some lessons on how we might survive this wave of change, too.

    AT THE HEART of the farm boom are the very same forces that are remaking the rest of the American economy—technological revolution and global integration. When you think of technological revolution, you probably think of geeks in cool coastal spaces like the Google campus, or perhaps of math wizards on Wall Street. But one source of rural prosperity is the adoption of radical new technologies—and a consequent surge in productivity.

    Henderson situates the change over the long sweep of history: “Prior to World War II, it took 100 hours of labor to produce 100 bushels of corn. Today, it takes less than two hours.” According to Erik O’Donoghue and Robert Hoppe, two economists at the Department of Agriculture, in 2009 U.S. farm output was 170 percent above its level in 1948, having grown at a rate of 1.63 percent a year. Those figures understate the productivity revolution, because these increasing harvests have been delivered with fewer inputs, particularly less labor and less land.

    Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, told me that since 1980, agriculture has been “the second-most-productive aspect of our economy … I’m 61 years old, and in my lifetime, corn production has increased 400 percent, soybeans 1,000 percent, and wheat 100 percent.”

    Continuous technological improvements have resulted in a system of crop farming that someone who left the countryside 20 years ago would be hard-pressed to recognize, and certainly couldn’t operate (I stopped helping my dad in the early 1990s, when I became a foreign correspondent, and I am no longer allowed to drive any of his three combines). The computer systems powering a “precision farmer’s” seed drill and combine have been programmed with the exact parameters of all his fields and are synced up with one another. That means the seed drill knows what last year’s harvest was from each inch of land, thanks to data recorded by the combine, and can seed and apply fertilizer accordingly.

    The cabs of today’s combines, the most sophisticated of farm machines, look like airplane cockpits, or the control rooms on factory floors. Monitors tell the farmer how many bushels to the acre his land is yielding even as he harvests his crop, give him a read on the moisture level, and tell him how much he is leaving behind on the field. Troy Houlder’s flagship New Holland combine, the CR9090, which sells for $520,000, has a new feature called IntelliCruise, which automatically speeds up or slows down the machine depending on how heavy the crop is. (The CR9090 also features a so-called buddy seat, often occupied by a grandchild, and a small refrigerator, so its owner-operator’s lunch stays cold.)

    Fancy GPS systems and space-age tractors are what most excite the farmers I know and astound their city friends. But the most profound change is something an urban civilian driving through the Farm Belt wouldn’t even notice. Ever since people first domesticated cereal crops in the Fertile Crescent 11,000 years ago, farming has followed a seemingly immutable pattern—plow your field, seed your field, harvest your field, repeat. But today, farmers can skip the plowing step.

    This historic shift is known as the no-till revolution. No-till was a quirky, fringe idea in the 1970s. Today, it is practiced on one-third of U.S. cropland. It has been made more effective by the genetic engineering of seeds and the adoption of crop varieties with herbicide tolerance or a resistance to pests.

    Farmers are rightly proud of their swift embrace of innovation. But the biggest reason rural bank accounts are swelling today isn’t technology (nor is it government subsidies, though those have helped, and may no longer be justified). It is, rather, the growing global middle class. “The single most important factor in all of this is the changing diet in the emerging markets,” Erickson told me. “If people there go from earning $2 a day to $3 a day, they aren’t going to buy a Mercedes, but they are going to buy a piece of chicken or a piece of pork.” That translates into surging prices for feed grains like corn, soybeans, wheat, and canola, and surging farm incomes around the world. In the early 1990s, China, for instance, was self-sufficient in soybean production; in 2010, it was the top importer of U.S. agricultural products.

    This shift has made for unusual bedfellows. At a time when the mainstream U.S. political discourse has identified China as a relentless and predatory exporter—and a destroyer of American jobs—farmers are outliers. Farmers “want China to expand,” Henderson told me, “because that means a bigger or broader market” for their crops. Some of America’s biggest supporters of open borders are down home on the farm.

    AGRICULTURE, WHICH ONCE employed most of the population and now employs almost no one, is often held up as a grim harbinger of what awaits U.S. manufacturing (and beyond that, white-collar professions that can be partially outsourced or performed by computers). The United States today has more bus drivers than it has farmers. Technological advances have drastically shrunk the number of people required to no-till the land.

    Yet today’s agricultural renaissance also shows that there is some light at the end of the tunnel—or, if you will, a good harvest at the end of the furrow. Most encouragingly, the agricultural boom shows that globalization really is a two-way street, and not just for the geniuses at Apple and Goldman Sachs. The rising global middle class wants hamburgers—which is where farmers come in—but it also wants hundreds of other middle-class comforts, and as it grows richer, it will be able to afford more of them. Helping to fill these wants is where many of the rest of us should look for opportunity. And you don’t have to work for a corporate behemoth or have a venture capitalist on your speed dial to take advantage of the changing world economy. One of the most surprising aspects of the farm story is that its heroes are self-employed entrepreneurs, albeit ones who own a lot of land.

    Of course, that still leaves open the question of what to do about all those jobs being lost. One of the great, and largely forgotten, triumphs of American society and government has been how smoothly U.S. farmers and their communities negotiated the creative destruction of the early 20th century and emerged triumphant when it was over. Lawrence Katz, a Harvard professor who is probably America’s most esteemed labor economist, has, together with his partner and fellow Harvard professor, Claudia Goldin, studied how they did it. The answer, Katz told me, was heavy investment in education: “Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas, California—these were the leaders in the high-school movement.”

    Katz said this big investment in education was a deliberate response to the rapid technological advances and productivity gains in both agriculture and manufacturing. Farmers could see that machines meant fewer hands would be needed on the land, while new jobs were being created in the cities. So they built schools to educate their children for those new roles. The strategy worked: high school made the children who stayed home better farmers and gave the rest the tools to leave. In fact, the Farm Belt’s high-school movement was so successful that farm children who moved to the big cities soon became the bosses of the native-born urbanites. “They tended to be more educated than the city slickers and move to better jobs in the city than the locals,” Katz said.

    The challenge those Midwestern farm communities faced same 100 years ago was remarkably similar to the challenge much of America faces today—an economic transformation that is making the country richer and more productive, but that also means most of our children won’t be able to do the same jobs we do. A high-school education was enough for the children of farmers in the early 20th century. Children today will need college, with an emphasis on quantitative and analytical skills, if they are to thrive.

    But while today’s problem would seem familiar to those early-20th-century farmers, today’s response would not. “We did a better job in that period of preparing the next generation for their new context than we are doing today,” Katz said. “These areas made the right level of investment in education. We have not even approached the equivalent today.”

    The farming towns of the past saw themselves as true communities, with a collective responsibility to ready their children for the future. That sensibility has broken down. “Areas that had a larger share of older citizens actually were moresupportive of education, which is the opposite of today,” Katz told me.

    Today’s wealthy farmers, and their prosperous city cousins, are the beneficiaries of a long-ago communal decision to invest in the future. We could learn from their great-grandparents.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/07/the-triumph-of-the-family-farm/308998/

    Chrystia Freeland is the editor of Thomson Reuters Digital. Her book Plutocratswill be published in October.
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  • RuralRebel 1:11 pm on August 5, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    The New York Times

    Demonstration at Arizona Border Divides Supporters of Immigration Overhaul

    Lulu Martínez, 23, crossed into Mexico and was detained when she tried to re-enter as part of the group of nine immigrants.

    By JULIA PRESTON and REBEKAH ZEMANSKY
    August 4, 2013

    A protest by nine Mexican immigrants in which they tried to enter the country through a border station in Arizona even though they had no valid documents has provoked an unusual public argument among groups pushing Congress to overhaul the immigration laws.

    Most of the nine are young people who grew up in the United States without legal status. On July 22, they approached the border crossing in Nogales and asked to be admitted on a special parole. Border officers detained them for deportation, and they are being held in a detention center in Eloy, Ariz.

    The most heated part of the debate centers on the high-risk move by three undocumented youths in the group, who left the United States shortly before the protest, knowing they had no legal visas to return. The six others had been deported or had left the country on their own some time ago.

    Some advocates and lawmakers praised the immigrants, who are calling themselves the Dream 9, for their bold civil disobedience in the tradition of the civil rights era. Others said their tactics were reckless and distracted from the fight in Washington to win a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants living illegally in the country.

    Representative Michael M. Honda, Democrat of California, sent a letter signed by 32 other House members calling on President Obama to allow the immigrants to stay, saying they had taken a “courageous step because they are fighting to reunite families separated by the border and mass deportation policies.”

    Mr. Honda said the nine were “victims of our broken immigration policies, and they deserve to come home to the United States.”

    There have been small rallies and vigils in support of the immigrants in at least half a dozen places.

    But DeeDee Garcia Blase, a leader in Arizona of the Tequila Party, an organization of Latinas working for the immigration overhaul, said the protesters should keep their focus on passing legislation that would allow unauthorized immigrants to stay on this side of the border.

    “It’s counterproductive to be defiant and leave our nation and put themselves at risk,” Ms. Garcia Blase said.

    “It’s our position,” said Mohammad Abdollahi, a leader of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which organized the protest, “that all these folks should be allowed to come home.”

    He said the three young people who recently went to Mexico had gone to accompany the other six as they tried to get back into the United States.

    “It was purely civil disobedience,” Mr. Abdollahi said. “We wanted everybody to be treated the same.”

    A lawyer representing the nine immigrants, Margo Cowan, said they had asked to enter on a humanitarian parole, a special permission generally granted in short-term personal emergencies. To reinforce their case, they also requested asylum.

    Immigration officials and lawyers said it would be difficult under current law for the Obama administration to give them a break.

    One of the protesters, Claudia Amaro, is 37, too old to be eligible even for the deportation reprieves that the administration has offered since last year. Ms. Amaro had been living here illegally since 1988, and her teenage son is an American citizen. She was arrested in 2005 at her home in Wichita, Kan., with her husband, who was under police investigation, immigration officials said. She was released and left for Mexico, but a court order for her deportation was filed in her absence.

    Another Mexican, Luis León, who is 20, grew up in North Carolina but left in 2011 to go to college in Mexico. In a phone call on Thursday from the detention center, Mr. León said he soon began to miss his family. He was caught and deported four times trying to cross the border illegally. In most cases, foreigners who are deported cannot return to the United States for at least 10 years.

    image

    Yeah right

    Mr. León said that the Nogales attempt was his last resort, and that he had told the protest’s organizers, “I would do whatever it takes to get back to my family.”

    Mr. León said he did not mind being detained because he was holding out hope that he might be released.

    “I’m really looking forward to having all my friends over, like I used to back when I was in high school,” Mr. León said. “I hope everything goes back the way it used to be, being with my family and being able to talk to my community again.”

    Among the three who left the United States shortly before the protest, Lulu Martínez, 23, had applied for a deportation reprieve. By leaving the United States, officials said, she became ineligible for it. Lizbeth Mateo, 29, was due to start law school in California in mid-August, organizers said. The third protester was Marco Saavedra, 23.

    Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Friday that the immigrants were interviewed last week and officials expected to decide their cases in coming days.

    Ms. Cowan, a lawyer in the Pima County Public Defender’s Office, said she argued that they should be allowed to stay “in the public interest.”

    “These are not deportees,” she said. “They are persons who find themselves outside the United States but belong here.”

    image

    Who find themselves!!!!

    Other lawyers questioned that argument. “Once you depart the U.S., all bets are off,” said David Leopold, a lawyer and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

    “To suggest that anyone should be able to walk out of the U.S. and turn around and knock on the door and come back in, I don’t know anybody who thinks that we ought to have an open border,” Mr. Leopold said.

    The immigrants take their name from the Dream Act, legislation that would open a special path to citizenship for young people here illegally. A version of it was included in a bill that the Senate passed in June, and House Republicans are also weighing a measure to help young immigrants.

    Stephen A. Nuño, a professor of political science at Northern Arizona University, was blunt. “You’re making it much harder for Congress to give you a pathway to citizenship when you gamble,” he said.

    Julia Preston reported from New York, and Rebekah Zemansky from Phoenix.

     
  • RuralRebel 1:09 pm on August 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Want to bet mostly in red states. 

    image

    Where the constitution is respected

    More states move to ban foreign law in courts
    by Kimberly Railey, USA TODAY

    A growing number of states are targeting what they see as a threat to their court systems: the influence of international laws.

    North Carolina last month became the seventh state to pass legislation barring judges from considering foreign law in their decisions, including sharia. The bill awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

    Six other states — Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Tennessee — have already enacted similar legislation since 2010, and at least 26 have introduced such measures, according to The Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project.

    One exception to this trend is Missouri. In June, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed a foreign law bill, saying it would make international adoptions more difficult.

    Sharia, or Islamic law, is both a moral code and religious law that governs all aspects of Muslim life, ranging from religious obligations to family relationships. It is derived from the Quran, the main religious text of Islam, and the teachings of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet.

    Many of the bills, including North Carolina’s, would apply only in situations in which invoking foreign law would violate a person’s constitutional rights.

    “They exist purely to create a conversation around what sharia is,” said Corey Saylor, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

    Advocates of the foreign law bans say they safeguard American constitutional liberties, but critics argue they are unnecessary and could complicate international business and contract law.

    The bans could also make it difficult to enforce foreign money judgments and matters of family law, like divorce decrees, that are based on a foreign law or religion, said Matthew Duss, a policy analyst at the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

    “We’ll have to wait for the test cases to come, but there are a range of issues in which these bans could create real legal uncertainty,” Duss said.

    Supporters of the legislation, including Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, say that Islamic law is slipping into U.S. courts.

    “It’s an affront to the Constitution of the United States,” he said, “and detrimental to those whose rights are infringed.”

    In the U.S., sharia, like other religious law, can enter court through divorce and custody cases or in commercial litigation, mainly when contracts cannot be settled in a religious setting. But the exact frequency of such instances is hard to measure.

    A 2011 report by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C., think tank, cited 50 examples. However, in many of them, constitutional rights trumped foreign or religious laws in judges’ decisions.

    One outlier is a 2010 New Jersey case, where a state court found that a man did not intend to rape his wife because he thought his religion allowed him to have sexual intercourse with her at any time. An appeals court eventually overturned that ruling.

    The wave of state action began in Oklahoma in 2010, when a voter initiative to prohibit sharia in state courts passed with 70% of the popular vote. In 2012, a federal circuit court struck down the measure.

    In its wake, the laws have been retooled to ban all foreign law in state courts to avoid targeting one religion.

    But some still say the legislation can harm faith groups. Debra Linick, a director at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said foreign law bans could affect religious arbitration used to handle family and personal disputes.

    Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law expert at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said the legislation, particularly North Carolina’s ban, is a solution to a non-existent problem.

    “I simply cannot imagine any state court would recognize sharia to defeat a federal constitutional right,” Gerhardt said.

      © 2013 USATODAY.com

     
  • RuralRebel 12:46 pm on August 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    A slap in face to US Citizens! 

    image

    Yes I said citizens!

    Native born and legally acquired

    GOP will feel heat at home in August on immigration

    WASHINGTON — As they prepare to leave the Capitol for a month-long August recess, Republican members of the House of Representatives are taking with them legislative summaries and informational packets to tackle tough questions in their districts about immigration.

    Supporters of a proposal to revamp the nation’s immigration laws plan to use the recess to pressure House Republican members in their districts to pass a plan like that which passed the Senate in June.

    Those in favor of granting citizenship to an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants say they will use rallies, marches, coordinated phone calls, social media campaigns and pressure from big-dollar donors.

    “This is the beginning of a long, hot summer for the House of Representatives,” said Eliseo Medina of the Service Employees International Union, a labor union that supports the Senate’s immigration bill.

    Republicans will also face pressure from Tea Party groups and other opponents of the Senate immigration bill.

    Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, says his group, which advocates lower levels of legal and illegal immigration, hosted a teleconference with Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Steve Stockman, R-Texas, and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on Wednesday night to rally opponents to mobilize for the August recess.

    Beck said there were 40,000 people on the call.

    “Obviously, they’ve got all of this money and all of these organizations and everything else, but we’ve got over 2 million members. We’re in every district,” Beck said. “And they’ve got a tough road to hoe. They’ve got to change representatives’ minds. We’re more in a situation of needing to hold people. It’s always better to try to hold people to a position.”

    GOP leaders said Republicans are looking forward to facing voters on the issue.

    “Our members will be well-prepared to talk with constituents about this important issue,” said Nate Hodson, a spokesman for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

    House committees have passed five immigration-related bills that focus on enhancing border security, providing visas for high-tech and agricultural workers and enhancing the ability of state and local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws.

    The Senate bill allows the nation’s unauthorized immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship, adds $46 billion to secure the border and revamps nearly every other portion of the nation’s immigration laws.

    Supporters of an overhaul of immigration laws say House Republicans are focusing too much on border security and not on a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented immigrants, which is a focus of the Senate plan.

    On Monday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to give a pro-immigration speech at the premier of the film Documented, which was directed by Jose Antonio Vargas, an immigration activist. A group of religious leaders will take a bus tour through Republican districts in the Midwest.

    image

    Hey Zuckerberg. ..hire legal and native citizens. …stop asking for cheap labor!

    Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza, which supports legalization of all unauthorized immigrants, said a coalition of groups will host 360 different events in 52 congressional districts around the country during the recess.

    Meanwhile, some Republican donors and business groups will try to influence GOP members as well.

    Republicans for Immigration Reform, a group formed by former GOP Commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez, sent a letter with other GOP donors this week to members of the House urging passage of a bill. Charlie Spies, a former fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, said that was an attempt to add to the “grass-roots” approach by swaying members with their “grasstops” approach.

    “We’re going to focus on engagement with constituents and business leaders who have actual relationships with members,” Spies said. “You won’t see us busing people in to town halls.”

    Republicans such as King say the border must be secured first before people in the USA illegally are offered citizenship. And some Tea Party affiliates plan to make sure representatives hear from the opponents to what they say is an “amnesty” for people who broke the law to be here.

    “It’s not a battle that we picked,” said Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, referring to her group’s typical focus on government spending.

    “It isn’t an issue that was even on the front burner for us. But because of what the Senate has done and the House is now doing, it’s something that we have to pay attention to.”

    Martin said her group is working closely with NumbersUSA and others to hold rallies, attend town-hall-style forums and ensure that Republican members of Congress know the opposition they’ll face if they support any kind of immigration reform they don’t approve of.

    “We’ve said all along that we’re going to hold people accountable,” Martin said. “We’re holding them accountable.”

    http://www.usatoday.com

     
  • RuralRebel 12:18 pm on August 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    What else is new with this administration 

    image

    Anything to help the Muslims

    Intel community worried Obama administration disclosed too much about latest al Qaeda threat
    In warning about possible al Qaeda attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials may have provided too much detail about intercepted chatter and the source of the information, and that may make it more difficult to get such tips next time, former and current intelligence officials say.

    On Friday, the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert for Americans, citing an unspecified al Qaeda threat. The bulletin said that the highest threat levels are the Middle East and North Africa, “and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arab Peninsula.”

    SEE ALSO: Al Qaeda haunts August as State Dept. issues worldwide travel alert, closes embassies

    As a result of the threat, the United States will close 21 embassies in 17 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia on Sunday, the traditional start of the work week in those countries.

    On Saturday, unnamed U.S. officials told media outlets Yemeni intelligence agencies alerted Washington to the threat during the visit by the Yemeni president to Washington.

    U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity further told press representatives that “chatter” among “operatives” from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had been taking place over the last several weeks, and increased over the last few days, lending further credence to the Yemeni warning.

    Intelligence officials are dismayed that the administration provided so much detail on what prompted the closings, and that the disclosures could work against obtaining new information. Militants are now likely searching for the sources of the information to both the U.S. and Yemeni officials, and almost certainly will kill anyone they suspect of working with Western intelligence.

    “There simply are not that many who would know about the attacks,” says one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence officer, “so it won’t be hard for al Qaeda leaders to pin-point the sources of information. Once that happens, they certainly won’t be working with us anymore.”

    Other sources are also likely to reconsider their relationship with the United States over the disclosures. “These guys know their lives are in danger. As soon as the U.S. shows we can’t be trusted, they will go under ground and we won’t hear from them again,” says a current intelligence officer.

    SEE ALSO: U.S. embassies in Muslim countries to close amid ‘specific threat’

    The officer explained that the terrorist threat is one of the most difficult targets in intelligence, and obtaining sources among terrorists is extremely hard.

    “First of all, you’re dealing with a group that does not like Washington. If they have access to information, they are almost certainly highly indoctrinated. They live in remote areas of the world, are closely watched by their associates and speak languages U.S. intelligence officers rarely speak.

    “You can’t just walk into an al Qaeda training camp and say, ‘Hi guys, I’m from the CIA and I would really like to hear what you have to tell me.’ Usually we have to use multiple layers of sub-sources to get any access at all, and even that is hard because these guys don’t trust anyone. Who do you think knows if they are going to attack an embassy? It’s something they hold very closely. You can’t believe how really hard this is.”

    “Any statement like this, even though it seems relatively benign, will absolutely have repercussions. We’re going to have to start all over again,” adds an intelligence officer currently assigned to the Middle East.

    Intelligence officers say Washington could have cited other reasons for closing the embassies, which likely did play into their decision-making. Recent drone attacks have successfully targeted militant leaders, raising the possibility of retaliation against the United States. Additionally, over the last month, al Qaeda has mounted attacks on numerous prisons to release al Qaeda prisoners. Ten days ago, al Qaeda took credit for breaking out more than 500 militants from Abu Ghraib prison, for example.

    Sunday also marks the 27th day of Ramadan, known as “The Night of Power,” when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed, and some analysts believe that date may encourage militants to launch attacks against “infidels.”

    The statement that the threat could be from ” the Arab Peninsula” suggests that the terrorist group planning the operation is al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). That group has grown stronger over the last two years, according to intelligence sources. It has garnered new adherents and developed new weapons.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com

     
  • RuralRebel 12:36 pm on August 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Great interview with Ted Cruz. A must read 

    Interview with Sen. Ted Cruz: Republican defeatism surprises me

    One year ago today, Ted Cruz pulled off a stunning 14-point victory in the Texas Republican primary for the U.S. Senate against the state’s better-known and better-funded lieutenant governor. He then went on to win the general election in November by 16 points. The Washington Post called his election, “the biggest upset of 2012… a true grassroots victory against very long odds.” The senator’s background includes experience as the first Hispanic clerk to the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, domestic policy advisor to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, and, by his early 30s, solicitor general of Texas. He authored more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and made nine oral arguments before the high court. Since arriving in the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Cruz has been front-and-center in every major policy debate, often partnering with his Tea Party allies Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Sen. Cruz was central to defeating the gun bill this spring, held up former-Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, and may have fatally wounded the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” immigration bill with his targeted criticism of the legislation’s flaws. Now, he is working to defund Obamacare, the president’s signature achievement. Find out more about his policy positions at cruz.senate.gov

    Decker: You’ve been on a rocket ride since winning your primary one year ago. What has it been like?

    Cruz: It has been a whirlwind. When the campaign started in January 2011, I was at 2% in the polls… and the margin of error was 3%. Nobody gave us a prayer. But, over the next year, thousands upon thousands of men and women across Texas came together and worked tirelessly, knocking on doors, making phone calls, sending e-mails, speaking out on Facebook and Twitter. And, thanks to their incredible hard work, thanks to their passion for change, we went from 2% in the polls to not just winning, but winning the primary by 14 points and winning the general by 16 points. It was an incredible testament to the grassroots, and to what Texans can do working together.

    Texans got engaged in the Senate race, I believe, because they understood that the country is at a crossroads. That we cannot keep going down the road we are going, [with] of out-of-control spending, debt, taxes, and regulation. That we can’t keep bankrupting the next generations. And that it has been career politicians in both parties who got us in this mess.

    It is a remarkable privilege to serve at a time such as this, at time when the stakes are so high. I’m honored to work for 26 million Texans, and every day I try to do my very best to fight for them, to defend free-market principles and champion our constitutional liberties, so that we can pull our country back from the brink. And I’m deeply optimistic that, together, we can prevail – we can return to our founding principles that have made America the freest and most prosperous nation in the world.

    Decker: The 2012 election was terrible for the GOP, which now has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential contests. Is this losing streak a problem of style, substance, or both? What do conservatives need to do to start winning national elections again?

    Cruz: In my view, Republicans lost in 2012 and 2008 because they tried not to lose and painted not with bold colors but pale pastels. I think we do best when we present a clear contrast with the Democrats: “First you win the argument, then you win the vote,” as Margaret Thatcher used to say.

    I think the biggest reason Republicans lost last November was two words: “Forty-seven percent.” I don’t mean that to criticize Mitt Romney, who is a good man who waged an honorable campaign. But that idea – that Republicans represent the views and interests of those who have already made it, rather than the interests of those at the bottom, striving to make it – is profoundly inconsistent with what we, as conservatives, believe. And that message was deadly for a political party in a nation struggling with slow economic growth, high unemployment, and a lot of recently lost household wealth. That’s why, for a long time, I’ve advocated what I call “opportunity conservatism.” Every domestic policy that we think about or talk about should focus like a laser on opportunity – on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder. We should look with a Rawlsian lens at how every policy impacts the most vulnerable among us, on how it impacts those struggling to achieve the American Dream.

    The sad truth of the Obama economy is that those who have been hurt the most are the most vulnerable: young people, Hispanics, African-Americans, single moms. Under President Obama, Hispanic unemployment climbed to nearly 10%; African-American unemployment to nearly 14%; and youth (age 16-19) unemployment to over 25%. Notably, the rich do just fine with big government. Indeed, income inequality has increased under President Obama. From June 2009 through 2011, the average income of the top 1% grew in real terms by 11.2%; the bottom 99% saw their incomes shrink by 0.4%. When you hammer small businesses with more and more taxes and regulations, the people who are hurt – those who are laid off, or whose hours are forcibly reduced to 29 hours a week – are those just beginning to climb the economic ladder.

    The American free-market system has been the greatest engine for prosperity and opportunity that the world has ever seen. And I believe Republicans should have two words tattooed on our hands: growth and opportunity. Every policy we advocate should focus directly on improving those two priorities. For economic growth, we know what works: low taxes, less regulation, sound money and free trade. Those are the four pillars of sustainable, strong economic growth. We’ve seen this formula work – in the Roaring ‘20s, the Go-Go ‘60s, the 1980s and ‘90s. Every major recession relates to getting policy wrong on one or more of these pillars.

    Our era’s malaise ties into this: tax increases; tremendous new regulations from Obamacare and other agencies; a dollar that soars one year and plummets the next. These are all factors that reduce investment returns, distort decision-making, or otherwise reduce the nation’s capacity for robust growth. Restoring economic growth should be every elected official’s top priority, and it should be a bipartisan objective. Democrats and Republicans should be able to work together on tax reform and regulatory reform to restore growth, to make it easier for small businesses to get started and grow, and to maximize the opportunity everyone has to achieve the American Dream.

    Decker: What is your biggest surprise since coming to the Senate?

    Cruz: My biggest surprise has been the defeatism among some Republicans here. There was such a strong sense of confusion about November’s loss, and many believed we had to retrench and there was no way to stop the president and Democrats from running the table.

    In my view, even in the Senate minority, Republicans can do three things. First, we can stop bad bills. And there is no shortage of those. Much of President Obama’s legislative agenda would hurt economic growth, stifle opportunity and diminish our constitutional liberties. Whether it is Obamacare, cap and trade, his anti-gun agenda to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, or the Gang of 8 immigration bill that would not fix immigration but only exacerbate the problem – conservatives have played leading roles trying to prevent their passage. And stopping bad laws is meaningful.

    Second, we have moments of leverage small and large where we can make good things happen. One example was Rand Paul’s historic filibuster on the Senate floor to force the Obama administration to make a critical concession: that the Constitution prohibits the killing of an American citizen by drone within the United States, unless he presents an imminent threat. While that was a simple issue, I think it was telling that the Obama administration took so long to answer it. I was privileged to give my first speech on the Senate floor in support of Sen. Paul.

    Another place where we have leverage is on the Debt Ceiling. Generally, raising the Debt Ceiling requires 60 votes, which means in the 54-46 Senate, Republicans must at least be consulted in order for it to pass. Thus, the Debt Ceiling presents a moment when we can potentially force some positive reforms that otherwise aren’t on the table. Unsurprisingly, the majority party wants to evade compromise by using a process called reconciliation that would enable it to raise the Debt Ceiling with just 51 votes. I have been proud to block this maneuver, along with Sens. Lee, Rubio and Paul, to ensure we keep leverage and achieve some positive change.

    And third, we can work to win the argument – to make the case to the American people that we must return to free-market principles and the Constitution, and that doing so will restore growth and expand opportunity for every American.

    Decker: Speaking of that, some critics – including many on the right – say Republicans can’t win the Obamacare defunding fight and it could cost the party seats in the next election. What’s your view?

    Cruz: There is no greater threat to the economy, to jobs, and to our prosperity than Obamacare. The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse, the most important check we have on an overreaching executive. President Obama just acknowledged the wheels are coming off Obamacare by delaying implementation of the employer mandate, granting a waiver for large corporations. My view is Republicans should stand up for the people and stop the rest of Obamacare before it is too late.

    We can get there in September if we have 218 votes in the House or 41 votes in the Senate on the continuing resolution that funds the entire federal government. We should fund the entire government except Obamacare. This will lead to an impasse, with the president insisting that unless Obamacare is allowed to take effect, he will shut down the government. We should welcome this debate. Obamacare is unpopular, and the more people hear, the less they like it. We can win, but it will require a huge communications effort to make the case.

    The question I ask my colleagues is, if not now, when? And if not this fight, what?

    Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I think Republicans win when we stand for clear principles and draw strong contrasts with the other party. If we make clear that Republicans are fighting for jobs and to protect high-quality health care against Democrats wedded to an ideological dream of government-controlled healthcare, I think we will win. But the only way this happens is if a massive grassroots army makes its voice heard, and demands of our elected officials that they stand up and fight. I think “We the People” should hold every politician – including me – accountable, and that’s how we can win fights that are otherwise impossible. So I am going to spend the August recess and all of September making that case. And, if your readers agree, you should call your senators and representatives today, and sign the national petition at www.dontfundit.com.

    Decker: America is at a crossroads in so many ways. What do you worry about when you can’t sleep at night?

    Cruz: If we fail, we risk losing the miracle of freedom that has made America the greatest nation on earth. My wife and I have two little girls, and so I worry about what most parents do – what sort of nation are we going to leave to our kids and grandkids? I worry that we are squandering the legacy we inherited from our forefathers. Will we live in a nation that is less free, less prosperous, less creative, less dynamic – or will we once again turn back to the model of government and economics that has created the greatest prosperity the world has ever seen? And, will we uphold the moral capacity for self-governance that makes our constitutional order work?

    In 1957, my Dad fled Cuba after being imprisoned and tortured. He came penniless, not speaking a word of English, and washed dishes for 50 cents an hour to pay his way through college. He graduated, got a job, started a small business, and worked towards the American Dream. When I was a kid, over and over, my Dad used to ask me, “When we lost our freedom in Cuba, we had a place to flee. If we lose our freedom here, where do we go?” That cannot happen. And it is why I’m working every day, alongside so many others, to prevent it. We must get back to our founding principles and preserve America as a Shining City on a Hill.

     
    rare.us
    Brett M. Decker is Editor-in-Chief of Rare. 

     
  • RuralRebel 12:29 pm on August 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Obomber supporters stash cash from the mass! 

    Capitol Alert: Big California corporations parking $262 billion offshore

    A dozen of California’s largest corporations are holding nearly $262 billion in foreign earnings in offshore subsidiaries to shield the money from American taxation, according to a new study by a consumer advocacy group.

    The 12 are on a list of 105 publicly traded American corporations collectively holding $1.17 trillion in earnings offshore, according to the study by a coalition of state Public Interest Research Group affiliates, including CALPIRG in California.

    The critical study is entitled Offshore Shell Games and the PIRG coalition says the practice is depriving federal and state governments of much-needed revenue for public services.

    image

    Me thinks they mean public greedy pensioners.  After years of ripping taxpayers off and demanding more and more…they now want to destroy what is left of these companies . Ignoring their  roles in the legacy deficits!

    California’s Apple, was listed as having has the most offshore holdings of any American corporation, $82.66 billion.

    Parking profits in other nations whose corporate tax rates are lower is not illegal, but has been widely criticized by liberal groups.

    Chevron, California’s largest corporation, is holding $26.5 billion, the report says, and others from the state on the list, by size of the firm, include Hewlett-Packard, $33.4 billion; McKesson, $3.8 billion; Apple, $82.7 billion; Wells-Fargo, $1.3 billion; Intel, $17.5 billion; Safeway, $1.3 billion; Cisco Systems, $41.3 billion; Walt Disney, $566 million; Sysco, $910 million; Google, $33.3 billion; Ingram Micro, $2.1 billion; and Oracle, $20.9 billion.

    blogs.sacbee.com

     
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