Month: July 2017

North Korea firing squad carries out public executions in school yards, report says

Kim Jong Un’s brutal North Korean regime shot so-called “criminals” to death in schoolyards and fish markets in a twisted attempt to create an “atmosphere of fear” throughout the dictatorship, a Wednesday report from a human rights group revealed. The report, released by The Transnational Justice Working Group in Seoul, gathered information from more than 300 North Korean refugees who witnessed the regime’s firing squad executing criminals in public areas to attract large crowds and instill fear in its citizens. “In ordinary areas outside the prison system, our interviewees stated that public executions take place near river banks, in river beds, near bridges, in public sports stadiums, in the local marketplace, on school grounds in the fringes of the city, or on mountainsides,” the report stated. The report said people were publicly executed for crimes such as stealing rice and livestock and distributing South Korean media. Those prisoners were mixed in with citizens convicted of violent crimes, such as murder and manslaughter, as well as organized prostitution and sexual assault. “Many interviewees said that the final decision for a public execution was often influenced by individuals having a ‘bad’ family background in addition to the crime they were alleged to have committed,” the report stated. The executions were carried out publicly to create an “atmosphere of fear,” according to the report. The South Korean non-governmental organization that authored the document also mapped out the “killing sites” in provinces within the dictatorship, hoping such detailed work would finally help to hold the rogue regime accountable for what TJWG called crimes against humanity. “The maps and the accompanying testimonies create a picture of the scale of the abuses that have taken place over decades,” the report said. Kim’s regime has long denied human rights abuses. But in 2014, a United Nations commission report found the country had a slew of human rights violations. North Korea, however, has continued to insist its citizens are protected under the country’s constitution, Reuters reported. Pyongyang also accuses the United States of being the “world’s worst rights violator.” Questions about North Korea’s treatment of prisoners recently made international news after American student Otto Warmbier died last month. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor last year for allegedly stealing a political poster from a hotel in Pyongyang. But North Korea returned him last month to his Cincinnati home in a coma. Warmbier suffered from severe brain damage and soon died. North Korea denied cruelly treating or torturing Warmbier during his time in prison, saying they were the “biggest victim” in the incident.

…a tactic that the DPRK often employs when accused of anything.  North Korea is truly an evil empire.  We recommend a National Geographic video that came out on DVD back in 2007 called:  “Inside North Korea.”    You can Google it and see a youtube excerpt from the DVD.  Also, this is an eye-opening link:  http://www.destinationtips.com/destinations/asia/24-forbidden-photos-inside-kim-jong-uns-north-korea/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=adwords&utm_content=North+Korea&utm_campaign=ADW003-DST-research-us&utm_term=-201197541491-b-north%20korea&mmp=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwqvvLBRDIARIsAMYuvBGzh1cDGcM9jutnIeiFMMp5_dcuc1P7ufTfJCGK64xUW2VKOkFEKDMaAvByEALw_wcB

VA has fired 500 employees since Trump took office, report shows

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired more than 500 employees since Jan. 20, when President Trump took office, according to a list of job categories of employees recently disciplined or fired. The list, released by the VA July 3 and updated weekly, has been a way for the embattled agency to be more accountable and transparent about its employee disciplinary process, said U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin. The VA is the first federal agency to make this data on employee status public. “Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent,” said Shulkin. The VA has been under fire for shuffling controversial and problematic employees and managers instead of firing them, even after the widely publicized VA “wait list” scandal that rocked the agency. So the number of recent firings is surprising to many VA reform advocates. “In the past, the VA was not straightforward on who they were disciplining and who they let retire,” said Dan Caldwell, director of policy for the Concerned Veterans for America, a grassroots veterans’ advocacy organization. “Often the VA would say someone was fired, and we’d find out later that employee was not fired, they were actually just suspended, demoted or had been allowed to retire before they could be fired.” “Very few employees were terminated for the ‘wait list’ scandal – less than a dozen that we know of – even though hundreds or even thousands of people were involved,” Caldwell said.

There is a new sheriff in town, and he’s draining the swamp!

1,332 Counties Will Have Only One Health Insurer Option Under Obamacare in 2018

According to recent data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), in 2018, 1,332 counties in the United States will have only one health insurer operating on the Obamacare exchanges and 49 will have none. The data comes from the Health Insurance Exchanges Issuer County Map, which shows projected issuer participation on the Health Insurance Exchanges in 2018 based on the issuer public announcements made prior to late July of 2017. “The map currently shows that nationwide 49 counties are projected to have no issuers, meaning that Americans in these counties could be without coverage on the Exchanges in 2018,” a press release for the agency states. “It’s also projected that 1,332 counties—over 40 percent of counties nationwide—could only have one issuer in 2018.” The data also show that at least 27,660 Americans currently enrolled for health coverage on the Exchanges live in the counties projected to be without any coverage in 2018 – but, because of the Obamacare individual mandate, those who live in areas with no insurers offering health coverage will still be forced to buy coverage. A CMS press release predicts that that because of lack of options in the healthcare market, more than 2.3 million Obamacare participants may not be able to receive the coverage they need. The data also reveal that. between 2016 and 2017, average premiums have risen by 21.6 percent. In addition, carrier participation in the Health Insurance Exchange has declined by 31.2 percent since peak participation in 2015. “We continue to see a decline in issuer participation in the Health Insurance Exchanges leaving consumers with fewer and fewer insurance options,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said in a press release. “I am deeply concerned about the crisis situation facing the individual market in many states across the nation.”

Indeed…

Sen. Lankford confronts ABC over ‘hate group’ tag: Disagreement ‘isn’t the same as hate’

Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, on Monday confronted ABC News for labeling the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom as an alleged “hate group,” saying that disagreeing on the issues “isn’t the same as hate.” The network stoked outrage on the right with its July 12 online article headlined, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks,” which referred to the designation used by the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center on its “hate map.” “In this country, we have the freedom to disagree. However, disagreement is not the same as discrimination, and it’s not the same as hate,” Mr. Lankford said in the Monday letter to ABC News President James Goldston. “As journalists and members of the government, we have a responsibility to distinguish between the two,” Mr. Lankford said. “Labeling ADF a ‘hate group’ feeds into a narrative that news media frequently editorializes beyond the facts. This ultimately harms American trust in the press.” The ADF has asked for a retraction and an apology from ABC, accusing the network of “journalistic malpractice.” The network has not responded to a request for comment. NBC News ran a similar article July 12 using the “hate group” label. Both news stories appeared after the SPLC issued a July 11 press release titled, “SPLC: Attorney General must release remarks given to anti-LGBT hate group.” SPLC President Richard Cohen defended the “hate group” designation, saying in a statement that the Arizona-based legal foundation “spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community in this country and seeks to criminalize it abroad.” The ADF has in recent years taken on cases involving Christian small-business owners such as Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman who have been penalized by the government for refusing to provide services for same-sex weddings. Mr. Lankford described the SPLC’s definition of a hate group as “overly broad and not based in fact or legal accuracy.” “I found it odd that ABC would designated ADF as a hate group not based on any actual crime or action, but apparently based on their belief in religious liberty or traditional marriage,” Mr. Lankford said. “Since I think I can confidently assume that ABC News is a strong supporter of the First Amendment, why would ABC News label a peaceful group as a ‘hate group’ simply because of a difference of opinion?” Mr. Sessions spoke July 11 at the ADF’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Dana Point, California, a speech that was barred to the press. The Federalist published his prepared remarks on its website July 13.

The SPLC is throughly discredited, extreme liberal, agenda-driven group of sh_t disturbers that hate Christians and Christian organizations.  That’s the bottom line.  And yet the dominantly liberal mainstream media continue to use them as a resource.  They’re oftentimes on NPR/PBS, CNN, MSNBC, etc.  Next time you hear some idiot anchor like Wolf Blitzer say something like, “…the Southern Poverty Law Center”…  Just change the channel quick, because what follows will cause a sudden loss in your IQ points.

VIDEO: NYPD ‘Powerless’ to Stop Naked Illegal Alien Panhandlers

Police in New York City expressed frustration about not being able to stop naked panhandlers from harassing the public because most of them are illegal aliens. Their status makes it difficult to enforce tickets because of Mayor de Blasio’s sanctuary city policies. The city established “Designated Activity Zones” (DAZ) in 2016 to provide a place for “costumed characters” a place to work for tips. Some of these panhandlers, called desnudas, are nude women wearing painted on costumes. Law enforcement officers frequently decline to ticket panhandling violations because most of them are illegal aliens, the Daily Mail reported. A proposal to license desnudas and other street merchants failed because “most of the panhandlers are illegal immigrants and they wouldn’t register anyway,” a law enforcement source told the New York Post. “Besides, the administration at City Hall isn’t interested in going after illegals in this capacity.” The Post reported that during the first twelve months following the DAZs’ creation, police officers only issued about one ticket summons per day. This despite what they claim to be “flagrant flouting” of the zone rules. City officials dispute the alleged lack of enforcement of the DAZs. Police spokesman Peter Donald responded to a Post email inquiry, writing, “[T]he enforcement data tells a different story. There have been a number of arrests and hundreds of summons issued to costume characters over the past year in Times Square.” City officials created the DAZs after media outlets “ugly incidents” that included a “Spider-Man” that refused to release a 13-year-old child until the father paid a $10 tip, and a “Batman” who grabbed a $50 bill from the wallet of an Irish tourist. The City created a total of eight zones. Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins expressed his frustration with the panhandlers and the lack of enforcement. “The Hulk drives me crazy,” Tompkins told the Post reporter. “Watch — the Hulk always goes and touches people.” Other incidents include costumed characters crashing photos and demanding tips. “Suddenly, there’s three Minnies in your picture,” he explained. “And a Batman, and a Spider-Man. And they all want cash. And they’re all outside the zone.” He said when the panhandlers see the police, they rush back into the zone boundaries. “It’s a total f—ing scam, and it happens thousands of times a week,” he exclaimed. “It’s those same three f—ing Minnie Mouses.”

U.S. Companies Post Profit Growth Not Seen in Six Years

America’s largest companies are on pace to post two consecutive quarters of double-digit profit growth for the first time since 2011, helped by years of cost-cutting, a weaker dollar and stronger consumer spending. Earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 11% in the second quarter, according to data from Thomson Reuters, following a 15% increase in the first quarter. Close to 60% of the firms in the index have reported second-quarter results so far. Corporate America’s strong earnings performance comes as several policy initiatives that were expected to help boost companies’ bottom line—corporate-tax cuts and increased government spending on infrastructure—have been sidetracked amid political infighting in Washington, D.C., which culminated with the recent failure of the health-law bill. Even as activity inside the Beltway bogged down, the markets have been on an almost nonstop rally since the election. The S&P 500 is up 16% since early November and 10% this year. “You could argue that the stock-market investor overestimated Trump but underestimated earnings,” said Christopher Probyn, chief economist for State Street Global Advisors. The second-quarter profit gains are spread across industries from Wall Street banks to Detroit’s car factories to Silicon Valley’s software labs. Earnings are expected to decline only in the utilities sector, according to data from Thomson Reuters. ​ Several factors are at work, analysts and economists say. A weaker dollar has made it easier to sell U.S.-made goods overseas and has kept borrowing costs low. U.S. wages have improved enough to help bolster consumer spending without raising employer labor costs so much to dent the bottom line. Companies also continue to reap the fruits of their recent zeal for cutting costs, Mr. Probyn said. “We underestimated some of the cost-cutting and restructuring that has gone on within the various industries; that has permitted earnings to keep doing well.” Sales, too, rose in the quarter, by an expected 5%, the second-biggest increase in more than five years, according to data from Thomson Reuters. The figures reflect actual results for about half the S&P 500 index, and analysts’ estimates for those that had yet to report results as of Friday. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that gross domestic product rose at a 2.6% rate in the second quarter, up from 1.2% in the first quarter.

And the economy continues to roar on in this new Trump era..  To read the rest of this article from the Wall Street Journal, click on the text above.

Colorado Divide: Isolated mountain towns struggle to survive with authentic identities without becoming tourist traps

The winding, two-lane highway into Lake City hugs the light-green Lake Fork of the Gunnison River as it rushes downward toward the valley, past thick forest and Colorado wildflowers. The first view from above is unexpected, almost startling: a town, though a tiny one with wooden boardwalks instead of sidewalks along its two-block main strip, sits isolated in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks, three to five hours from any major metropolis. The 780 residents who live in Hinsdale County year-round desperately want to entice tourists to drive over 11,000-foot passes, hundreds of miles from a major airport, to visit their breathtaking valley. But Lake City has no ski resort, no alpine slide, no Leadville 100 ultra-running race, nor any other defining attraction, save for a fall wine festival and a free ice-climbing wall. Locals in this former mining town are brainstorming to come up with an “anchor attraction,” one that draws tourists but stays true to Lake City’s identity as a farther-off-the-beaten-path, nonresort, mountain community. A consultant hired by the city recently suggested a zip line that would fly above the 12-acre, former Ute Ulay silver mine just outside town. It did not go over well. Lake City, Silverton and Creede are the county seats of three southwestern Colorado counties that have fewer than half the residents they had at their peak population, which was around 1900. Evidence of that long-dead era lies in the wooden mine shafts crumbled in the hills of Hinsdale, San Juan and Mineral counties, and in the mines that have reopened so tourists can ride trains into the dark core of the mountains, where snow runoff trickles through the tunnels and splashes on their helmeted heads. The struggle to survive, to attract young families to balance out the retirees, to find people hardy enough for year-round, high-elevation living, leads to conflict between preserving an authentic vibe and becoming a gimmicky tourist trap, between retirees and young bloods, between second-home owners and permanent residents. The three one-town counties built by gold and silver miners more than 100 years ago have worked hard since the last of the mines closed in the 1990s to reinvent their economies based on recreation. The work is constant; let down their guard and residents risk their livelihood if too many tourists or would-be residents choose someplace else. All at once, they both envy and turn up their noses at Telluride, the southwest region’s tourism darling. “This is more reality,” said DeAnne Gallegos, who owns The Chocolate Dog fine gift shop in downtown Silverton. “We protect our blue-collar vibe.” The resilient residents of Lake City mention fairly often they would rather not become a Telluride or an Aspen, though that’s hardly a legitimate concern without an airport, golf course or ski resort. When word got out about the zip line idea, Lake City locals began calling their county commissioners, and the town’s Main Street program manager asked people during a June economic vitality summit not to “freak out.” Instead of grumbling about what they don’t want, Main Street manager Kristine Borchers, a mother of two teenagers who moved to Lake City in 2006, encourages people to describe their vision for a Lake City that will survive. “We want to be an authentic community that feels like a small town, a place where kids can ride their bikes, where the rec department sets up a slip-and-slide on Friday nights, where a ski ticket for the Poma lift is seven bucks,” she said. “A place that when people visit, they think: ‘It’s tiny. It feels friendly. Everybody waves at me. I want to live in a place like this.’ ”

This is a struggle many towns here in sunny Colorado are dealing with…  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.