Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

State department: not building the Keystone XL pipeline could increase greenhouse gas emissions

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Not building the 875-mile Keystone XL Pipeline could result in the release of up to 42 percent more greenhouse gases than would be released by building it, according to the State Department.

Not building the pipeline “is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the [Canadian] oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States,” the department noted in a long-awaited environmental report released January 31st.

But the “No Build” option is likely to result in an increased number of oil spills, six more deaths annually, and up to 42 percent higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the State Department concluded.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through the Bakken oil fields of Montana and South Dakota before connecting to an existing pipeline in Nebraska on its way to Gulf Coast refineries.

The project will create an estimated 42,100 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

This report follows last week’s report showing that the pipeline would have no major environmental impact.

Excerpt:

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval Friday, a serious blow to environmentalists’ hopes that President Barack Obama will block the controversial project running more than 1,000 miles from Canada through the heart of the U.S.

The State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline, which has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. — as well as Canada’s minister of natural resources — cheered the report, but it further rankled environmentalists already at odds with Obama and his energy policy.

Now the State Department is one of the most liberal departments in the government. Unfortunately, this has not appeased the great climate science experts in Hollywood, who donate so much money to Democrat election campaigns. So long as the money keeps flowing from the high school drop-out celebrities, don’t expect this pipeline to get built. For the Democrats, it’s all about staying in power.

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Bailout for health insurers? Less than 25% of Obamacare sign-ups under age 34

The Wall Street Journal reports.

Excerpt:

One-third of health plan enrollees in new insurance marketplaces are 55 or older, the Obama administration said Monday, a figure that insurers said makes the pool older than they would need to sustain their coverage at current premiums.

Administration officials said they are pushing to enroll more young people before a March 31 deadline for most people to get coverage for this year, and some cushions built into the law mean it won’t necessarily face trouble right away even if the 2014 pool of enrollees skews older.

Still, the release of the data, showing for the first time the age breakdown of people who had signed up for coverage through December, highlighted the challenge in persuading younger people who may not have a pressing need for health coverage to sign up for policies that can cost about $200 a month before subsidies.

“This is concerning to us that we’re seeing this portion come in so old,” said Marty Anderson, marketing director for the Wisconsin-based Security Health Plan, which serves rural counties in the state.

Just under a quarter of the roughly 2.2 million people who signed up for private plans nationwide by Dec. 28 were between the ages of 18 and 34, while one-third were in the 55-to-64 range, just short of the age at which most qualify for Medicare, the federal government program for the elderly.

[...]Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, consumers no longer pay premiums based on their health risks. To prevent a sharp rise in premiums in 2015 and beyond, carriers say they need strong enrollment from younger people who are likely to be healthier. That would balance out the bills racked up by sicker and older people.

[...]“There’s no way to spin it: Youth enrollment has been a bust so far,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). “When they see that Obamacare offers high costs for limited access to doctors—if the enrollment goes through at all—it’s no surprise that young people aren’t rushing to sign up.”

So who is going to be on the hook when the insurance companies take far higher losses than the Democrats estimated?

YOU ARE. The Weekly Standard explains why in this article.

Excerpt:

Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.”  How can this be?  Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them.  The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.

[...]As Laszewski explains, Obamacare contains a “Reinsurance Program that caps big claim costs for insurers (individual plans only).”  He writes that “in 2014, 80% of individual costs between $45,000 and $250,000 are paid by the government [read: by taxpayers], for example.” 

In other words, insurance purchased through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges isn’t even full-fledged private insurance; rather, it’s a sort of private-public hybrid.  Private insurance companies pay for costs below $45,000, then taxpayers generously pick up the tab—a tab that their president hasn’t ever bothered to tell them he has opened up on their behalf—for four-fifths of the next $200,000-plus worth of costs.  In this way, and so many others, Obamacare takes a major step toward the government monopoly over American medicine (“single payer”) that liberals drool about in their sleep.

Laszewski adds, “The reinsurance program has done and will continue to do what it was intended to do; help attract and keep more carriers in Obamacare than might have otherwise come.”  Thus, Obamacare is being aided by having taxpayers subsidize big insurance companies’ business expenses.  (Who could ever have guessed that big government and big business might be natural allies?)

But, amazingly, it doesn’t stop there.  Laszewski writes that Obamacare also contains a “Risk Corridor Program that limits overall losses for insurers.”  So insurers not only don’t have to pay out all of their costs; they also don’t have to swallow all of their losses. 

Laszewski explains that if an insurance company expects its costs in a given year to be X, and those costs end up being more than X plus 2 percent, taxpayers will come to that insurance company’s rescue—thanks to Obamacare.  In fact, once an insurance company covers that initial 2 percent in unexpected costs, taxpayers will cover at least 80 percent of any additional costs the insurer accrues.

Does this sound familiar? Yes – this is exactly what caused the mortgage lending crisis and bailout in 2008. Democrats were very anxious to guarantee the bad loans of mortgage lenders with taxpayer money supplied through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And they are doing it again with health insurers. (And they’ll do it again with student loans, just wait)

The best way to stop this madness is by electing Republicans in the 2014 mid-term elections. And then electing a conservative as President in 2016. Evict the children from the White House and Congress.

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DOJ selects Democrat donor to head investigation of IRS corruption

From the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

The Justice Department selected an avowed political supporter of President Obama to lead the criminal probe into the IRS targeting of tea party groups, according to top Republicans who said Wednesday that the move has ruined the entire investigation.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, and regulatory affairs subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said they have discovered that the head of the investigation is Barbara Kay Bosserman, a trial lawyer in the Justice Department who donated more than $6,000 to Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, as well as several hundred dollars to the national Democratic Party.

“The department has created a startling conflict of interest,” Mr. Issa andMr. Jordan said in a letter sent Wednesday and reviewed by The Washington Times. “It is unbelievable that the department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the president’s policies.”

The Internal Revenue Service’s internal auditor revealed in May that the agency had been inappropriately targeting and blocking applications for tax-exempt status from tea party and conservative-leaning groups. In the immediate aftermath, Mr. Obama promised that the FBI and the Justice Department would investigate whether the IRS broke any laws.

Eight months later, the investigation has not produced any public findings, and Mr. Issa says the FBI and Justice Department have stonewalled his efforts to find out what’s going on.

Ms. Bosserman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Don’t worry, everything will be fine. We can trust big government to investigate itself properly.

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Gang-raped teen burned to death in India, corrupt police try to cover it up

Map of India

Map of India

From the UK Daily Mail. Excerpt:

The body of a gang-raped teenager who was burned to death after her attackers threatened her family was ‘hijacked’ by police who attempted to forcibly cremate it, reports today suggest. The girl, 16, was gang-raped in October in Madhyamgram, near Calcutta, by a group of six men – who are believed to have links with West Bengal’s ruling party, the Trinamool Congress. They again attacked her the following day as she returned from reporting the crime to police with her father, it is claimed. The group were arrested – but the teen and her family say they received a series of threats from the men. The alleged threats included one saying the girl’s taxi-driver father would be killed if she continued to pursue charges. The family’s landlord, who is reportedly related to one of the gang, allegedly told them they must leave their one-bedroom property also. On the morning of her death, two friends of the accused allegedly visited the girl’s home and verbally abused the girl. The teen victim was set alight on December 23 and died from her injuries on New Year’s Eve. Doctors said the victim – who had 40 per cent burns – had suffered severe damage to her throat and face, making it difficult for her to breathe. Earlier reports suggested the victim had committed suicide – a story that initially came from police – but today it was revealed the girl said two men poured kerosene over her and burned her before she died. Doctors have also said the girl was pregnant when she died. Reports today suggest police ‘hijacked’ the hearse carrying the girl’s body and attempted to have it cremated despite the family’s wishes to wait to give her a proper funeral. On Tuesday evening police are alleged to have intercepted the hearse, which was travelling from RG Kar Hospital to a mortuary. They took it to a crematorium where the body remained for three hours, it is claimed. Officers are then said to have gone to the home of the bereaved family at around 2am and threatened to break down the door if they did not give them the death certificate needed for the cremation. The girl’s father refused, but officers allegedly tormented the family all night. In a letter written to Govenor M K Narayanan the father said: ‘The superintendent of police and other officers reached our house in the dead of the night and asked us to open the door.

I think it’s very important in cases like this to let them break down the door so that there is evidence of what they did. They will not want to do anything like that, because it can be photographed. It leaves a trace.

The fact that this went right up to the superintendent of police just chills my blood. Imagine living in a country like India where people who gang-rape and murder a child can go to the police and get support in covering it up because of corruption and connections.

I remember my Indian co-workers telling me how surprised they were not to have to bribe American police officers when they got pulled over for speeding. I think there is something to that. In Judeo-Christian America, we still believe that God is watching what we do, by and large. So we tend to do the right thing, especially conservatives. But Hinduism and Islam seem not to have the same requirement.

Even if religion played no role in this, the culture as a whole seems to condone corruption to the level where you cannot expect basic honesty like you can in Western countries. I have heard horrifying stories about what it is like to be a woman and ride on public transportation in India. For the Islamic religion, there seems to be an epidemic of gang rape and sex-trafficking going on in Western countries from Muslim men. The idea of chastity for men seems to be more of a Judeo-Christian value.

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EPA climate change expert defrauded government of nearly $1 million in salary and benefits

From NBC News.

Excerpt:

The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

John C. Beale, who pled guilty in September to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits  over a decade, will be sentenced in a Washington, D.C., federal court on Wednesday. In a newly filed sentencing memo, prosecutors said that his lies were a “crime of massive proportion” that were “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

[...]Until he retired in April after learning he was under federal investigation, Beale, an NYU grad with a masters from Princeton, was earning a salary and bonuses of $206,000 a year, making him the highest paid official at the EPA. He earned more money than Gina McCarthy, the agency’s administrator and, for years, his immediate boss, according to agency documents.

In September, Beale, who served as a “senior policy adviser” in the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation, pled guilty to defrauding the U.S. government out of nearly $900,000 since 2000. Beale perpetrated his fraud largely by failing to show up at the EPA for months at a time, including one 18-month stretch starting in June 2011 when he did “absolutely no work,” as Kern, Beale’s lawyer, acknowledged in his court filing.

To explain his long absences, Beale told agency officials — including McCarthy — that he was engaged in intelligence work for the CIA, either at agency headquarters or in Pakistan. At one point he claimed to be urgently needed in Pakistan because the Taliban was torturing his CIA replacement, according to Sullivan.

“Due to recent events that you have probably read about, I am in Pakistan,” he wrote McCarthy in a Dec. 18, 2010 email. “Got the call Thurs and left Fri. Hope to be back for Christmas ….Ho, ho, ho.”

In fact, Beale had no relationship with the CIA at all. Sullivan, the EPA investigator, said he confirmed Beale didn’t even have a security clearance. He spent much of the time he was purportedly working for the CIA at his Northern Virginia home riding bikes, doing housework and reading books, or at a vacation house on Cape Cod.

“He’s never been to Langley (the CIA’s Virginia headquarters),” said Sullivan. “The CIA has no record of him ever walking through the door.”

Nor was that Beale’s only deception, according to court documents. In 2008, Beale didn’t show up at the EPA for six months, telling his boss that he was part of a special multi-agency election-year project relating to “candidate security.” He billed the government $57,000 for five trips to California that were made purely “for personal reasons,” his lawyer acknowledged. (His parents lived there.) He also claimed to be suffering from malaria that he got while serving in Vietnam. According to his lawyer’s filing, he didn’t have malaria and never served in Vietnam. He told the story to EPA officials so he could get special handicap parking at a garage near EPA headquarters.

To really eliminate this kind of fraud, waste and corruption, the best thing to do is to shrink government. If they didn’t have the money to pay people like Beale, then this wouldn’t have happened. The public sector is always spending other people’s money – taxpayer money. Never their own money. No public sector employee will be as careful about how they are spending taxpayer money as they would be if it were their own money, or their private company’s money. In the business world, if you do something like this, you go under. Fast. Because you have competitors who are happy to capitalize on your mistakes. No business can survive million dollar losses like this for long. The government can, because it just borrows more from your children.

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