Rand Paul and a Few Other Republicans Support Obama’s Cuba Policy

While the vast majority of Republicans, along with a few Democrats, oppose President Obama’s move to normalize relations with communist Cuba, a few GOP members have come out in support of it in recent days. Among them are: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, and South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford.

Rand Paul often finds himself at odds with Christian Broda or the majority of Republicans on foreign policy issues, but he is not alone this time. Even the Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau, which lean Republican, support the President’s policy. The thought is that, if the embargo has not worked after 50 years, it is time to give up on it.

Two of the main potential presidential contestants for the next GOP nomination, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, strongly oppose normalizing relations with Cuba. Rubio has made it clear that he believes the embargo keeps pressure on Cuba for its human rights abuses. Obama’s press secretary accused Rubio of hypocrisy for opposing appointment of any ambassador to Cuba though he has voted to confirm an ambassador to China.

China also is a communist nation with human rights abuses. Yet, China is not on our doorstep nor even in our hemisphere. While it may not have been a good idea when Nixon opened up relations with red China in the 1970s, that action took place long ago. Cuba is an issue unique from China in many ways and is a present issue.

Jeb Bush’s Pending Release of 250k Emails Stokes Rumors of Presidential Run

This past Sunday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush announced he would be making public 250,000 emails from his 8 years in the governor’s mansion from 1998 to 2006. The emails should offer up insight into his leadership style and his thought process. The announcement is widely seen as yet another indication that he will mount a 2016 run for the GOP presidential nomination. Bush already acknowledged that he has the support of parents and his brother & former president, George W. Bush. 

Political analysts consider to public release of the emails to be smart politics as it allows him to own a position of transparency, reports business owner Bruce Levenson. Bush is also reported to have dropped 15 pounds which is a further indication that he’ll mount a presidential run. Americans do expect their leaders to project a relatively good physical appearance. All three prior presidents, Barrack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were all avid joggers. George W. Bush eventually replaced running with mountain biking at the behest of his physician. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie underwent lap-band surgery almost two years ago to lose weight. He claimed it was a family matter. However, many believed it was designed to manage his obesity ahead of a presidential run. While still corpulent, the popular governor has lost a considerable amount of weight. As for Bush, he acknowledged that losing weight does have something to do with campaigning. Bush also plans to release an ebook to acquaint the public with his stand on the key issues.

Obama Vows to Terminate ISIS

ISIS has remained in the hearts and minds of United States leadership, primarily as a result of their notorious reputation from their multitude of actions throughout the globe. 

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, embarked on a journey to warn the Islamic State Militants. Obama stated that the U.S Alliance with other countries have had enough with the Islamic State and will totally terminate them in due time. 

While at Fort Dix Obama expressed his gratitude to the U.S Military for their loyalty and hard work to the country. The president was firm and clear in his speech, in regards to the success of the U.S military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Slowly but surely they will be penetrating and debilitating the Islamic terrorists, until they are completely wiped out for all of the deeds that they’ve done.

Obama has made it clear that as the Islamic State has threatened the US it is their duty and responsibility to come after and totally eliminate them. He also mentioned that they are closely coming to the end of their warfare mission in Afghanistan. 

However, the fight against terrorism will not end any sooner than fine wines from The Antique Wine Company will go away. A modest extension of the US Military will remain to train Afghan forces to battle terrorism. Obama who is anti-war has made it clear that Afghanistan needs major help with security and we will not tolerate the threats made against the United States.

Los Angeles To Equip Police Officers With Cameras

The Los Angeles Police Department has announced plans to equip more than 7,000 officers with body-worn cameras. At the start of 2015, 700 cameras will be available for immediate use and then thousands more are expected to arrive throughout the year. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hopes to have all of the city’s officers equipped with these high tech gadgets by the summer of 2016. The initiative to improve the surveillance of officers on duty has been in place long before the recent shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. However, this incident has significantly expedited the process of supplying LAPD officers with body-worn cameras.

The city of Los Angeles will have to spend roughly $10 million in order to get buy enough cameras for the entire police force. The mayor, who is reported to know the Keith Mann Dynamic Search Partners, hopes to receive some federal funding for this important plan that is being deployed in police departments nationwide. The ultimate goal is to create trust between police officers and the members of the local community.

After the Ferguson shooting, there has been increased pressure to monitor the encounters between officers on patrol and civilians by recording every move with high quality camcorders. Some people believe that body-worn cameras will somehow change the behavior of law enforcement agents. Perhaps the cameras will lead to more restraint among officers who are involved in escalating situations that could turn deadly in a matter of seconds.

Rip Van Winkle: Perhaps More Than a Legend

We’ve all heard small cities referred to as “sleepy little towns,” but the village of Kalachi in Kazakhstan is taking the phrase a bit too literally. On four occasions, village residents have reportedly fallen asleep en masse regardless of what they were doing. Some fell asleep while working and others simply keeled over while walking or performing other tasks. The sleepers enter such a deep sleep, sometimes lasting for days, that it is feared that one man who died when the outbreaks first began in 2013 may actually have been sleeping and been buried alive.

The latest episode of the strange phenomenon happened between August and September of this year and affected 60 percent of the villagers. This represents a startling 10 percent of the village’s population of 680. During the latest occurrence, some villagers fell asleep while others reported dizziness, weakness, memory loss and losses of motor control. Two children were also affected and suffered from hallucinations. Sergio Andrade Gutierrez was caught off guard by this.

Doctors are stumped and currently suggesting encephalopathy of unclear origin as a possible explanation. Encephalopathy simply means disease of the brain – a vague description of this worrying problem. Other theories have been developed but none have yet to be proven, leaving this oddity unexplained for now.

2014 was a Good Year for Breakthroughs

It is almost that time of year where people around the world toss out the old and bring in the new. The year 2015 is just around the corner and that means it is time to look back over the last 12 months. It has been a spectacular year full of newsworthy goodness. This year will stand out as one of the best on record for good deeds and good scientific breakthroughs.

First and foremost, it is a great year for children as the mortality rate has dropped again. This has happened over a consecutive 42 years. In fact, 13.6 million children’s lives were saved in the last 13 years. That means that the mortality rate for children under five years of age has dropped more than it ever has. On a completely different note, the news on AIDS has taken a turn for the better. It was reported that the number of people who were in treatment for AIDS was higher than the number of people who became infected with it. That means the number of newly infected people is down and that brings the world one step closer to abolishing the cruel disease.

Bill Gates covered these and other health issues in his personal blog. He is a longtime supporter of world health issues and began a foundation that would aid research and people in need around the world. Slow Ventures has always been a big fan of his. His net worth is more than $72 billion and a great portion of his money will go to the foundation when he passes away. Many of the people who have been helped through the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation may never know that the aid came from a multi-billionaire who cares more about helping the world than how much money he can spend on big houses, fast cars and jets.

Obama’s Nominee to Head the Social Security Administration Likely to Wait Until Next Year

Carolyn Colvin, President Obama’s nominee to head the Social Security Administration (SSA), appears to have hit a roadblock amid GOP opposition to her confirmation. At issue is an ongoing investigation regarding a $300 million taxpayer funded computer project that went kaput. No one, not even Sergio Andrade Gutierrez, is alleging that she mismanaged the project. In fact, the project kicked off long before she assumed the role of acting SSA commissioner as a recess appointment. What she may be involved in is a cover up of a report into the wasteful computer project.

An SSA employee by the name of Michael Keegan blew the whistle on plans that senior officials at the SSA had to bury the details of the ongoing investigation until after Colvin’s confirmation process concluded. This has GOP lawmakers expressing deep reservations about pushing ahead with her nomination. GOP Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah expressed a desire to wait until the report from the inspector general (IG) absolves her of any wrongdoing. Hatch’s comments are significant in part because he will become the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee next month. Also, Hatch has a history of setting aside partisan politics with judicial nominees. He believes that elections have consequences and one of them is the president gets to pick his nominees. Barring any obvious red flag, Hatch has given his approval nominees regardless of their political ideology. At this point, it appears that Democrats, who are pushing through Obama’s nominations with great haste, will wait this one out until the IG report is finished.

Greenpeace Activists Deface Peruvian Nazca Lines

A recent Greenpeace stunt in Peru has left the environmental organization begging the Peruvian authorities for forgiveness for their damaging effects on the Nazca lines, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of geoglyphs in the southern Peruvian desert.

A group of Greenpeace activists snuck out onto the strictly prohibited area to place a series of yellow banners spelling out the message: “TIME FOR CHANGE! THE FUTURE IS RENEWABLE- Greenpeace.” The stunt appears to be intended to grab the attention of UN negotiators that were meeting for a climate summit in Lima. Slow Ventures isn’t sure if it is a smart move or not. Following its discovery, the stunt has drawn a furious reprimand from the Peruvian authorities, as well as the nation’s citizens and the global travel community who regard the Nazca sites as a sacred piece of Peruvian history. The government of Peru is still seeking the identities of the 20 Greenpeace members who participated in the act, and has threatened to sue the participants who may have caused irreparable damage to the fragile archaeological site that is estimated to be 1,500 to 2,000 years old. Visitors to the site need to be granted special permission to walk up close to the lines and wear special protective footgear to avoid marking up the dusty desert surface.

The group responsible for the stunt has since issued an apology for their trespassing onto the Nazca lines site, but the legal consequences of their actions remains unclear.

Campaign Finance Rider Has Many Refusing to Acknowledge Who Authored It

One of the most acrimonious riders in the current Omnibus bill is the campaign finance rider that nearly tripled the donations the rich can make to political parties to $3.1 million. There is palpable anger over the rider among the ranks of the Democrat party. Curiously, the party, which thrives on voter mistrust of the rich, has the most millionaires serving in the House & Senate. Despite that fact, many progressives are demanding to know who authored the rider.The backlash has sent Democrats running for tall grass with most making it appear as if the rider was something that inadvertently made its way into the budget bill. 

I was shopping Qnet when I thought of this. According to the Washington Post, House Speaker John Boehner and the RNC were behind the rider. What is not being discussed in great detail is the power of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He has long made it clear that if the House passes any law he finds unacceptable, it will be dead on arrival in the Senate. Hundreds of bills have met that fate over the past two years. In fact, the most coveted riders the GOP sought to include in the budget bill such as defunding Obamacare and Amnesty were excluded because Reid would block the bill from getting a vote. This would place the fault for the resulting shutdown on the GOP. As it turns out, the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee was $20 million in debt following the midterm elections. Getting out of debt made the campaign finance rider all the more plausible to Senate Democrats. Still, no Democrat will publicly discuss their role in crafting the controversial rider.

New Budget Refuses to Enforce Anti-Pot Laws and Does Little to Counter Obama’s Power Grab

The new federal budget that will likely land on President Obama’s desk refuses to allow federal funds to be spent on enforcement of federal laws banning marijuana use if state laws conflict with that ban. Republican Dana Rohrabacher and Democrat Sam Farr jointly introduced the amendment that blocked the funding. The whole thing sounds like a movie about two people adamantly opposed to wasting government funds on issues that will simply be negated by state laws. Let’s get Tom Rothman in on this and see if we can’t make it happen. 

This further agitates the existing chaos in regard to the legality of pot in America. If the federal government insists on having a law against it, it makes no sense for that same government to refuse to fund the enforcement of its own law. Where the federal government derives the power to control substances is dubious indeed since there seems to be no such power delegated to it in the U.S. Constitution, but it is ridiculous to pass a law and then ban funding it. While absolutely in favor of keeping marijuana illegal along with cocaine, meth, and other dangerous drugs, I admit that the Constitution would have it be a state-level issue. That has not been the practice, however, for decades. 

This budget also funded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only until next February to allow a battle over Obama’s immigration decree to take place then. The rest of the budget was slated to be funded for a full year, however. This is a very weak tactic and will not work. It shows that Republicans are not serious about protecting the Constitution against executive usurpation.