White House: We Aren't Going to Comment on Murder of Kate Steinle By 7-Time Felon Illegal Alien

Speaking to reporters from the White House Monday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest refused to issued comment on the murder of Kate Steinle, who was killed by a seven-time felon illegal alien last week in the sanctuary city of San Francisco. Her killer was deported five times before taking her life and admitted he went to San Francisco because he knew he'd be able to escape federal authorities thanks to sanctuary policies. 

"I can't speak to this specific case," Earnest said. "I'd refer you to DHS."

After refusing to issue comment on "this specific case," Earnest launched into an attack on Republicans for not passing President Obama's illegal immigration agenda.

Earnest also touted Obama's policy of "not tearing [illegal immigrant] families apart" while ignoring the fact Kate Steinle's family has been permanently torn apart by an illegal alien thanks to open border and lax enforcement policies at both the local and federal levels.

NRA: Don't Use Gay Marriage Ruling To Push For National Reciprocity On Concealed Carry

Across social media, there have been memes, blog posts, and articles about how the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges should be applied to national reciprocity regarding concealed carry permits. The day national reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders becomes law of the land will be a great day for civil rights in this country. Yet, it is not; we still have to continue to fight for it. At the same time, the National Rifle Association is reminding gun owners that they shouldn’t view the Obergefell decision as a reason to carry their firearms in states that still don’t recognize their concealed carry permits. For starters, the Supreme Court hasn’t decided if carrying a loaded handgun in public* is a constitutional right.

…we strongly advise concealed carry license holders not to assume Obergefell provides them with the legal basis they need to carry without an in-state license in strongly anti-gun states such as Maryland, New Jersey, or New York. Doing so at this point would still subject the traveler to arrest and criminal prosecution.

This is so for a number of reasons, chief of which is that the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet ruled squarely on the question of whether the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a loaded handgun in public, and if it does, whether states must recognize each other’s permits. The landmark cases of Heller and McDonald only concerned the question of handgun possession in the home.

Until the Supreme Court rules on the issue conclusively, certain reliably anti-gun jurisdictions can be counted on to exist in a state of denial and defiance. If states and lower courts can ignore a congressional statute like Firearm Owners’ Protection Act – and they do – they certainly can ignore arguments that the philosophical bases for interstate recognition of same-sex marriage compel interstate recognition of concealed carry permits.

One way to set up the legal battle to clarify the right to carry in public in all 50 states could come from the lawsuits from residents in “may issue” carry states over the “good” or “justifiable” need clauses. So far, the Supreme Court has rejected to hear arguments from petitions that directly challenge such statutes in Woollard v. Gallaghera Maryland-based lawsuit– (2013) and Drake v. Jerejian, which challenged New Jersey’s concealed carry process (2014). The plaintiff in the New Jersey case–John Drake–has two permits from Utah and Florida, which allows him to carry in 38 states, except for his home state. The Drake case also asked the question that the NRA wants to be clarified before the Court, which is “whether the Second Amendment secures a right to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense.” I’m sure more lawsuits will appear before the Supreme Court–and I hope they do.

*I think it is a right, but until the Supreme Court decides otherwise, supporters of the Second Amendment must let the process work–and that process can take a long time.

Christie on Iran Deal: "This Is the Single Biggest Disaster" of Obama's Presidency

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Iran deal. The Obama administration, it seems, is hell-bent on reaching an agreement, notwithstanding protests from concerned congressional lawmakers and the state of Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry, for his part, believes the deal “could go either way” at this point, but Republicans are hoping it only goes one place: nowhere.

“This is the single biggest disaster in the seven years of the Obama administration,” Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) said Monday morning on America’s Newsroom, who is officially running for president in 2016. “He is giving the largest sponsor of state-terrorism a glide-path to a nuclear weapon and a nuclear Middle East. It is wrong. He should walk away from the table.”

And yet, Christie said he believes some sort of accord will eventually be reached.

“I think he does [it] because he cares more about his legacy than anything else right now,” he added. “He cares about the two l’s: legacy and library.”

Unsurprisingly, however, Christie is not the only Republican raising concerns about an eventual deal.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), who sent a strongly-worded letter to the regime last winter reminding Iran's leaders that a nuclear agreement, green-lighted by the administration, would always be temporary and non-binding, explained yesterday on ABC News’ This Week why the deal is so lopsided — and unfavorable to the US.

"If we had anytime, anywhere inspections, if there was no sanctions relief until there was long-term demonstrable performance on Iran's part, if they fully answered all the past work they've done to weaponize their nuclear program, then that might be a better deal,” he said. “But that's not the deal we're going to reach.”

“It [the proposed deal] also doesn’t address the concessions that have already been made,” he continued. “Like letting them keep their underground fortified bunker, letting them keep their centrifuges and a stockpile of uranium, letting them keep their ballistic missile program, letting them keep their American hostages, and letting them continue to foment terrorism all around the world and destabilize the Middle East.”

Other Republican presidential candidates, meanwhile, are equally as nervous that a dangerous, sign-at-any-cost nuclear deal will soon and inevitably be brokered. Stay tuned for updates.

UK Labour Party Leadership Candidate Demands Police Action To Protect Abortion Clinics

One of the candidates to succeed Ed Miliband as Leader of the British Labour Party has tabled a motion in the House of Commons demanding police action to protect abortion clinics. Left-winger, Jeremy Corbyn MP, was one of seven Members of Parliament to back the move, which includes calls for a “buffer zone” outside clinics.

The buffer zones would give police the right to remove protesters when they believe their activities are preventing women from “accessing treatment… free from intimidation.” There would also be national guidelines for police, explaining the circumstances in which they can remove protesters.

The proposal was put before the House of Commons as an “Early Day Motion” (EDM), which does not have the force of legislation but is designed to pressure government. In this case the EDM was tabled by Diane Abbott MP, who is seeking the Labour nomination for Mayor of London.

The group said they were “deeply concerned” about the escalation of anti-abortion protests in the UK. They claimed the protests were “having a significant impact on women's ability to access safe, legal reproductive healthcare services and advice.”

The motion also claimed there had been one case of an abortion clinic closing as a result of the protests, although it did not give further information. It said a second unnamed clinic was unable to open as a result of “local fears about anti-abortion activity.” Anti-abortion campaigners were described as “threatening” and are accused of trying to “harass and film women.”

Support for the motion is not widespread among the 650 members of the House of Commons but winning the backing of a Labour Leadership candidate does lend credibility to the proposal. Mr Corbyn was considered an outsider when he entered the race but he now has the backing of the powerful Unite Trade Union. Unite is the Labour Party's biggest donor and has been accused of using its votes to push its members ahead in the party.

Mr Corbyn is no stranger to controversy, in 1999 he divorced his wife because she wanted to send their son Ben to a selective Grammar School rather than a local school. The school Corbyn favored was in a poor part of central London and had been identified as “failing” by inspectors.

He is also a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which wanted Britain to give up its nuclear deterrent during the Cold War. He has claimed in the past he could not be friends with anyone unless they were left-wing.

There are around 185,000 abortions every year in the UK, almost all of them are performed under Section C of The Abortion Act 1967. The provision allows abortions if there is a risk to the mental health of the mother should the pregnancy go ahead. Section C has been used to effectively roll out 'abortion on demand' despite the law have been intended to only allow medical reasons for the procedure.

If Corbyn becomes Labour Leader he would contest the 2020 General Election as the party's candidate to be Prime Minister. To become the Prime Minister he would need to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons, with the side effect that he would have the votes to push through whatever he wanted. The US Constitution was especially written to avoid placing this much power in one person's hands.

Watch Reporters Embarrass Themselves By Allowing Hillary Clinton Staffers to Literally Rope Them Off

Over the weekend Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton participated in the Gorham, New Hampshire Independence Day parade. She's been avoiding the press for months, but this time things were taken to a whole new level.

In order to avoid a "chaotic" situation, Team Hillary asked reporters to walk behind a rope where they were corralled by staffers holding bold ends while proceeding down the street.


Look, I understand a need for some type of protocol, but this is ridiculous. Not because the Clinton campaign came up with the idea, but because reporters actually stood in a rope circle while back peddling down the street during a parade. So. Embarrassing. The dignity of the press has reached a new low. 

H/T Ed Morrissey

Illegal Immigrant Kills Woman in San Francisco; Chose City for 'Sanctuary' Policies

A horrifying story out of San Francisco: In broad daylight outside of Pier 14 this past Wednesday, 32-year-old Kathryn "Kate" Steinle was shot and killed by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported from the United States five times.

In an interview with an ABC affiliate, Sanchez said he kept returning to San Francisco because he knew there would be no effort to find and deport him. The city passed an ordinance in 1989 that prohibited officials from cooperating with immigration officials--meaning that San Francisco is a "sanctuary city."

ICE is now blaming San Francisco law enforcement for releasing Sanchez after drug charges against him were dropped. Sanchez had previously been convicted of seven felonies. Four of the seven were related to drugs.

Further, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says San Francisco had him in their custody earlier this year but failed to notify ICE when he was released.

"DHS records indicate ICE lodged an immigration detainer on the subject at that time, requesting notification prior to his release so ICE officers could make arrangements to take custody. The detainer was not honored," ICE said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Sanchez said in an interview that the shooting was an "accident" and that the shooting occurred while he was under the influence of pills he had discovered in a dumpster. He also said he felt "sorry for everybody."

NYT: Why, It Looks Like Obamacare is Causing Massive Rate Hikes


Here is the New York Times' front page on Independence Day, when few Americans were paying close attention to current affairs:



Two stories on "progressive" welfare states collapsing under the crush of reckless, unsustainable profligacy -- and one on Obamacare's double-digit rate increases:

Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20 percent to 40 percent or more, saying their new customers under the Affordable Care Act turned out to be sicker than expected. Federal officials say they are determined to see that the requests are scaled back. Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans — market leaders in many states — are seeking rate increases that average 23 percent in Illinois, 25 percent in North Carolina, 31 percent in Oklahoma, 36 percent in Tennessee and 54 percent in Minnesota, according to documents posted online by the federal government and state insurance commissioners and interviews with insurance executives...Jesse Ellis O’Brien, a health advocate at the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, said: “Rate increases will be bigger in 2016 than they have been for years and years and will have a profound effect on consumers here. Some may start wondering if insurance is affordable or if it’s worth the money.”

"It's working," they insist, as the 'Affordable' Care Act slams Americans with higher costs.  President Obama, who continues to claim that his unpopular law is surpassing his wildest expectations, has nothing but anti-reality tantrums to offer:

President Obama, on a trip to Tennessee this week, said that consumers should put pressure on state insurance regulators to scrutinize the proposed rate increases. If commissioners do their job and actively review rates, he said, “my expectation is that they’ll come in significantly lower than what’s being requested.” The rate requests, from some of the more popular health plans, suggest that insurance markets are still adjusting to shock waves set off by the Affordable Care Act. It is far from certain how many of the rate increases will hold up on review, or how much they might change. But already the proposals, buttressed with reams of actuarial data, are fueling fierce debate about the effectiveness of the health law.

Alas, Obama speeches cannot alter the laws of economics. But wait, the Times notes, there is a way for consumers to mitigate the effects of huge 2016 premium increases: People can go through the headache of dropping their current plans in pursuit of arrangements with less steep hikes -- which, in turn, could threaten access to doctors and care:

A study of 11 cities in different states by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that consumers would see relatively modest increases in premiums if they were willing to switch plans. But if they switch plans, consumers would have no guarantee that they can keep their doctors. And to get low premiums, they sometimes need to accept a more limited choice of doctors and hospitals.

Keep your plan, keep your doctor, etc. Please recall that the president and his allies repeatedly pledged that everybody's rates would drop under Obamacare. Comprehensively, spectacularly false. Why the huge spikes? Simple cause and effect:

In their submissions to federal and state regulators, insurers cite several reasons for big rate increases. These include the needs of consumers, some of whom were previously uninsured; the high cost of specialty drugs; and a policy adopted by the Obama administration in late 2013 that allowed some people to keep insurance that did not meet new federal standards...Insurers with decades of experience and brand-new plans underestimated claims costs...The rate requests are the first to reflect a full year of experience with the new insurance exchanges and federal standards that require insurers to accept all applicants, without charging higher prices because of a person’s illness or disability...In financial statements filed with the government in the last two months, some insurers said that their claims payments totaled not just 80 percent, but more than 100 percent of premiums. And that, they said, is unsustainable.

Behold, a peek at Oregon's approved -- i.e., finalized -- 2016 premium increases:


Costs are jumping drastically because Obamacare's provisions are driving a price spiral, fueled by an older, sicker risk pool. It's almost as if the law's critics were right. About almost everything.

Greek Socialists Have Humiliated British Conservatives

British politicians have always been renowned experts at 'gobbing off' about the European Union. The sport has a few simple rules: rant a lot with no real desire to achieve anything. It's a sport that has been the mainstay of the Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, since he took office in 2010.

The latest examples are his attempts to loudly ask for almost nothing in negotiations with the European Commission. Today, Cameron's strategic aim of making EU nationals wait a little bit longer before they claim generous taxpayer funded welfare checks has been shown up for the joke it is by the Greeks.

Yesterday's vote in Greece demonstrates there is a real alternative to the Brussels takeover. As such, Britain, like every European country, does have a choice, if only its leaders had the vision to abandon this failed EU project.

Whatever the long-term impact of the Greek vote there must be an examination of the mechanism for it leaving the Euro. Under the existing treaties there is no way out. To create one would break the “ever closer union” commitment, long seen as the central pillar of the European 'project' and something British Conservatives have tried and failed for decades to destroy.

Yet a tiny country and it's Socialist government have just delivered weakened "ever closer union" in one hastily organised vote. If Greece leaves the Euro altogether it will be a huge game changer for Britain.

For years Eurocrats have talked about a “two speed Europe”, the problem with this is it implies in the end every country will end up in the same place: under the thumb of a powerful socialist Brussels. If Greece leaves the Euro “two speed Europe” is dead, instead a “two system Europe” would have to develop.

This would mean Germany, France and the Benelux countries effectively becoming one country with the Euro as its currency. Places like Britain would have some sort of trade deal, and maybe even continued membership of a far looser and less dictatorial European Union.

Either way the Greeks have come up with far more options for Britain than David Cameron has. Not least because they had the guts to call for a referendum and then campaign against the EU. Cameron's plan is to use the referendum to confirm Britain’s membership of the EU: heaping an historic defeat on British Conservatism (despite Cameron being Conservative Leader).

...Greeks Have Been Treated Badly...

Greece's bravery can only partially mitigate it's difficult position though. The Euro is destroying the country but Greeks would still rather eat rats than leave any club of Western European countries. Two of their nearest neighbors are the Muslim countries of Albania and Turkey, and despite decades of peace they feel threatened.

The Greeks have also had a bad press for not “paying their bills”, although this is pretty unfair. They have been pushed into a monetary union that does not include fiscal transfers. So their monetary policy is being set to please Germany, but the only thing they are given to lighten the load is loans.

The US uses things like welfare, Medicaid and Medicare to help ensure poorer states like Alabama do not experience economic problems as a result of having the same currency as Wall Street.

Washington, D.C. does not expect poorer states to take out loans to pay for these services, they expect the richer states to pay through federal taxes. If Germany is going to massively benefit from the Euro, why are they complaining that Greece deserves some compensation for the boom in Northern Europe. Perhaps German reticence to pay for Greece is proof the Euro is a really bad idea.

So Greece is in ruins: unemployment is running at 25 percent, the country cannot pay its bills and its economy will continue to tank as long as it remains in the Euro. But unlike Britain, Greece is fighting its corner, despite being small and having a lack of political clout.

Imagine if British Conservative leaders had the guts the Greeks have shown? They might actually get the concessions they want rather than just capitulate. They would forget about the minor dispute over access to welfare and start to talk about real reform. If the EU tried to ignore them they would seriously talk about walking out, and when the world's fifth largest economy starts to get belligerent other countries listen.

The fact is the British Conservative leadership has not done this, and so far look unlikely to start. As we stand today Greek Socialists have done more to deliver British Conservative aims than the British Conservative government has. Pretty shameful really. Perhaps it's time to stop being wary Greeks who bear gifts!

Party in New Hampshire: Romney Hosts Rubio and Christie

GOP presidential candidates Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had some fun over the weekend at Mitt Romney's Lake Winnipesaukee home in New Hampshire. 

On Friday night, though, Romney had the Christies as overnight guests. But they weren't the only non-family members in the house. Fellow GOP hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and his wife, Jeanette, also joined the Romneys for Friday night's slumber party.

"Governor Romney heard that his friends, Governor Christie and Senator Rubio, along with their families, would be in Wolfeboro over the July 4th holiday weekend. He and Mrs. Romney opened their home to their friends and look forward to celebrating America’s birthday," said an aide to Romney, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity.

Both presidential candidates were in New Hampshire campaigning and participating in the famous Wolfeboro Independence Day parade.

Christie, who endorsed Romney during his 2012 campaign, just announced his run for president last week. Rubio was endorsed by Romney for the U.S. Senate back in 2010 during his run against Charlie Crist and announced his candidacy for president in April.

Bloody July 4 Chicago Weekend: 7 Shot Dead, Including Little Boy

It was another bloody weekend in Chicago over the Independence Day holiday as criminals took to the streets killing seven, including a seven-year-old little boy. Forty people were wounded from gang violence. More from CNN

"We need to repair a broken system," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters Sunday. "Criminals don't feel the repercussions of the justice system."

Take, for example, the death of 7-year-old Amari Brown. McCarthy said the boy was the unintended victim of bullet meant for his father, a ranking gang member.

The system failed Amari, the police chief said. Amari's father, who has been arrested 45 times and has a lengthy criminal record, should not have been on the streets, McCarthy said.

At a vigil Sunday for Amari, family friend Michael Singleton told the media that unless real changes are made, the cycle of violence will continue.

"All of you all will be back out here next week, on another corner, filming the same thing, from somebody else, saying exactly what I'm saying," he said.

Naturally, McCarthy also blamed the "flow of guns" into the city for the repeated problem of gang violence on the streets.

Last summer, which was more deadly than summer 2015 so far, McCarthy was accused of cooking the books on reduced violence to make his police force look better.

"City leaders manipulated crime statistics to create the appearance of a rapidly decreasing rate of crime," Chicago Magazine reported last year.

In the meantime, violent Chicago gangs aren't the only major problem in the Windy City. Mexican drug cartels running the streets pose a major problem and fuel the mayhem.

 "Sinaloa Cartel traffickers sit on the top of the pile, and they feed down all the way to the street level dealers,” Dennis Wichern, special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago field division, told Fox News Latino.

The drug trade in Chicago has helped fuel pervasive gang violence that has resulted in a quickly rising homicide rate. Chicago ended 2014 with 425 murders, and this year the city had seen 30 slayings by the end of January.

Indeed, something has to change in Chicago. They should start by repealing their highly restrictive guns laws and go from there.

Women’s World Cup: USA Enjoys Sweet Victory Over Japan

In Vancouver, Canada, Japan and the United States duked it out once again in the Women’s World Cup. It’s a rematch some have been hoping for since the U.S. went down in defeat in 2011, following a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw in regulation.

This year, no penalty shoot-out was needed. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Less than 20 minutes into the game, the U.S. Women’s Team delivered four goals over Japan in rapid succession that must’ve stunned most who made predictions on this game.

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd proved to be the point of the lance, scoring three minutes after kickoff, and again two minutes later. The momentum did not stop there. Midfielder and forward Lauren Holiday scored at 14 minutes, followed again by Lloyd at 16 minutes. It was a lightning war over the Japanese Women’s Team, who managed to score 27 minutes into regulation thanks to Yuki Ogimi. Japan would score again after U.S. defender Julie Johnston accidentally headed the ball into our own goal in the second half. Nevertheless, it was overshadowed by Tobin Heath’s goal shortly thereafter.

The United States’ victory also placed a spotlight on Hope Solo, who is arguably the world’s best goalkeeper, according to the New York Times, but it’s somewhat bittersweet; this will be the last World Cup that will see Abby Wambach on the U.S. Women’s Team. The Times added that Wambach is international soccer’s leading scoring player, with 183 goals. But she’s never been able to clinch a World Cup title … until tonight.

What a nice way to end our Fourth of July weekend and related festivities. Congrats to the U.S. Women’s Soccer team. It is much deserved. Well done, ladies. Well done.

UPDATEVia CBS News, Lloyd scored the two fastest goals in World Cup history.  Hope Solo was awarded the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper for the tournament.  The U.S. Women's Team set a new Women's World Cup record with their defense, keeping their opponents scoreless for 540 minutes.

Flashback: The US-Japan penalty shoot-out from 2011.

Hope Solo and Alex Morgan denying that the U.S. team choked in 2011 final with Japan.

Greeks Reject Bailout Terms In Referendum

The referendum on the terms of the new bailout European leaders were offering Greece has been soundly rejected, with nearly 60 percent of Greek voters voting “no” on the deal. Greece’s economy has been in free fall for five years, and voters could not stomach more pension cuts and tax increases on an economy that has yet to find its footing, according to the New York Times:

With more than 70 percent of the vote tallied, the actual count tracked the projections, with 61 percent voting no and 39 percent yes, the Interior Ministry said.

The no votes carried virtually every district in the country, handing a sweeping victory to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a leftist who came to power in January vowing to reject new austerity measures that he called an injustice and economically self-defeating. Late last month he walked away from negotiations in frustration at the creditors’ demands, called the referendum and urged Greeks to vote no as a way to give him more bargaining power.

While Mr. Tsipras now appears to have his wish, his victory in the referendum settled little, since the creditors’ offer is no longer on the table. There remains the possibility that they could walk away, leaving Greece facing default, financial collapse and expulsion from the eurozone and, in the worst case, from the European Union.

At stake, however, may be far more than Greece’s place in Europe, as experts have offered wildly differing opinions about what the referendum could mean for the future of the euro and, indeed, the world’s financial markets.

Even before the voting was over, some European leaders began making efforts to contain the potential damage.

…many [Greek] voters, tired of more than five years of soaring unemployment and a collapsing economy, said they could not accept the terms of the European offer, which imposed yet more pension cuts and tax increases, without any hint of debt relief.

The Times’ cheat sheet detailed the whole debacle, which some have reported could turn into Europe’s Lehman Brothers. In all, it just shows you that socialism hurts.

Here's Bloomberg's explanation of the European Debt Crisis. 

How did Greece get to this point?

Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. With global financial markets still reeling, Greece announced in October 2009 that it had been understating its deficit figures for years, raising alarms about the soundness of Greek finances.

Suddenly, Greece was shut out from borrowing in the financial markets. By the spring of 2010, it was veering toward bankruptcy, which threatened to set off a new financial crisis.

To avert calamity, the so-called troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission — issued the first of two international bailouts for Greece, which would eventually total more than 240 billion euros, or about $264 billion at today’s exchange rates.

The bailouts came with conditions. Lenders imposed harsh austerity terms, requiring deep budget cuts and steep tax increases. They also required Greece to overhaul its economy by streamlining the government, ending tax evasion and making Greece an easier place to do business.

Last Tuesday, Greece failed to honor a $1.5 billion euro debt repayment from the previous bailouts, which technically puts the country in default. The Times also noted that most international banks offloaded their Greek holdings rendering them not vulnerable to whatever happens next, though for those investors who were banking on a Greek comeback probably haven’t slept in a few days. Also, while there is talk of a Greek exodus from the Eurozone, most Greeks still favor sticking with the Euro:

How likely is there to be a ‘Grexit’?

At the height of the debt crisis a few years ago, many experts worried that Greece’s problems would spill over to the rest of the world. If Greece defaulted on its debt and exited the eurozone, they argued, it might create global financial shocks bigger than the collapse of Lehman Brothers did.

Now, however, some people believe that if Greece were to leave the currency union, known as a “Grexit,” it wouldn’t be such a catastrophe. Europe has put up safeguards to limit the so-called financial contagion, in an effort to keep the problems from spreading to other countries. Greece, just a tiny part of the eurozone economy, could regain financial autonomy by leaving, these people contend — and the eurozone would actually be better off without a country that seems to constantly need its neighbors’ support.

Others say that’s too simplistic a view. Despite the frustration of endless negotiations, European political leaders see a united Europe as an imperative. At the same time, they still haven’t fixed some of the biggest shortcomings of the eurozone’s structure by creating a more federal-style system of transferring money as needed among members — the way the United States does among its various states.

Exiting the euro currency union and the European Union would also involve a legal minefield that no country has yet ventured to cross. There are also no provisions for departure, voluntary or forced, from the euro currency union.

Investors may also still be betting that Greece will reach a deal with creditors before or after the referendum, particularly because polls indicate the majority of Greeks favor sticking with the euro.

Book Review: "College or Not?"

Today's society inculcates people with the notion that in order to succeed, you need to go to college and earn your degree. But with the cost of tuition rising while students graduate with burdensome student loan debt, many of whom are unable to find a job in such a weak market, is college worth the investment?

Chad Grills in his latest book, "College or Not?", writes a fictional story to argue that college isn't necessarily worth the investment. The protagonist of the story, Jay Pencha, represents the typical senior high school student facing the pressure of trying to get into a prestigious school while figuring out what he wants to do with his life. 

Things look bleak for Jay during his senior year. His parents, particularly his dad, have always told him he needs to follow in his older brother Gavin's footsteps and go to the prestigious school known as P&C. Gavin has a successful job in finance, although Jay feels that something is wrong with his brother. Regardless, he has to live in Gavin's shadow while facing the fear of rejection from P&C as well as the possibility that his parents won't be able to pay for it.

Enter Gary Weinstein, Jay's nerdy, socially awkward (yet likable) best friend. After being completely off the grid for three months, Gary surprises Jay with the news that he will forgo going to college altogether. Instead, he has a job lined up at a tech startup called Livu. Gary eventually convinces Jay to consider the idea of not attending college by switching out of Mr. Pemberton's college prep class to the much-friendlier, likable Mr. Moore who opens Jay's mind- as well as the rest of his students' minds- that a job right after high school could be preferable.

The rest of the story then features Jay focusing on landing a job in a tech startup right out of college and trying to convince his parents that is the right path for him, even as they continue to compare him to Gavin, who is later revealed to be addicted to pills.

And like any good story, Grills throws in a subplot of Jay's romance with Ella, the pretty ex-girlfriend of a football player that any guy dreams of having. Jay and Ella's relationships builds and grows throughout the story and provides the reader with a feel-good romance aspect of the story.

Overall, Grills's story is a good read. It is refreshing to see a fictional story make a conservative point. When it comes to conservative policy, most writers will write nonfictional books laced with all of kinds of facts, figures and studies. While those types of books are very good and necessary, the average reader's eyes will glaze over at the numbers. An actual storyline that proves a point- here being that college isn't for everyone- is a more effective way to further advance the argument.

Grills's story provides a great way to open the mind to young readers deciding what to do with their lives that maybe they don't have to go to college. It certainly has an appealing argument given the cost of tuition and how hard it is to find a job in the current economy.

The Man Who Never Bothered Telling His Wife He Was 'British Schindler' Dies at 106

Even the most open and loving husbands do not admit everything they did in their 20s to their wives. For most people it's that drink driving thing at University, the fancy dress outfit that really was in bad taste after-all or the BBQ fail that made everyone ill.

But the secret Grete Winton discovered about her husband in 1988 left her absolutely stunned. She found a scrap book on a routine clean of her loft detailing how her husband Nicholas had saved 669 Jewish children from the Holocaust when he was just 29-years-old.

The reason Grete did not know Nicholas' secret was that he had not bothered telling anyone at all. He spent his life believing the desire to save as many children as you could from certain death was nothing to be proud of, in fact it was the natural state of mankind. This was a view that appeared to be unphased by the obvious contradiction the Holocaust itself raised.

The story began when Winton who was a stockbroker at Midland Bank (now HSBC) and was due to go on a skiing holiday in 1938. At the last minute he went to Prague instead as a friend had suggested the local Jewish population were in dire need of help. Quickly Winton established an office at a hotel in the city and began the finding homes in the UK for the children.

UK law meant that Jewish children under 17 were free to come to Britain so long as they had somewhere to stay and £50. So Winton advertised, begged and forced families to take the children, which was a significant challenge in of itself because the UK government was already evacuating British children from the cities to the countryside.

To this day almost half of the children saved do not know that they got to the UK via this route as they were too young to remember.

Even those that did know about Kindertransport had never heard of Nicholas Winton until the TV show 'That's Life' broadcast the story. The presenter of the show Ester Rantzen, herself Jewish, was stunned that this British hero received no recognition. The show itself was tipped off by Grete.

One might assume Winton did not want the publicity because of the guilt that his last train, containing 250 children, did not make it through Poland before Hitler invaded. Families waited at London's Liverpool Street Station but the children they had offered to care for eventually went to the gas chambers not the loving homes of the volunteers.

Actually what kept Winton quiet was his wartime generation ethos. People back then just got on with their duty rather than expecting everyone to fawn all over them. When the town of Maidenhead suggested a statue of Winton he made two requests: that he was not depicted and that he did not have to come to the unveiling. He made it clear he was sick of being hailed as a hero.

At Liverpool Street Station the memorial is a statue of Jewish children who had just arrived from Europe there is no depiction of Winton at his request.

There is only one statue of Winton in the world, it is at Prague Station, and he was rumoured to have hated it. He certainly did all he could to discourage the Czechs from making copies of it to send to other countries.

Of course all of these statues are recent. Before 1988 Winton had not bothered mentioning what he had done for 50 years. He worked for as long as he could on the rescue, and when Hitler's rampage through Europe made further transports impossible he returned to his normal life. Albeit a normal life during a war!

People are not like Nicholas Winton today, a modern version of him would want a TV crew following him. Or the children would be picked by some awful reality TV show. Either way everyone involved would be angry if they did not get at least an extra 10,000 Twitter followers for getting involved in stopping the murder of these kids.

This is not the only example of how our standards have slipped. How many times do you turn on your TV and hear “he bravely battled cancer” well in Winton's day bravery was running into machine gun fire, not surviving a disease.

In Winton's day saving the life of a child was enough reward, whereas a lump of bronze that looks a bit like you is showing off. Winton died yesterday aged 106, and a concept died too… That virtue does not need a megaphone.

Rescues to the Rescue

Whether they’re sniffing out improvised explosive devices, chasing bad guys, or guiding the physically or mentally handicapped through day-to-day life, dogs have proven to be an invaluable asset to our police, militaryveterans, and everyday citizens. Here at Townhall we’ve always found it important to recognize the work our four-legged friends and their handlers do to serve our nation, which far too often goes overlooked.

However, canines are also serving in roles that we don’t traditionally associate them with; namely, conservation efforts.

Thanks to their noses, which can sniff out odor concentrations as small as one to two parts per billion, canines can be trained to find invasive species to eradicate, to detect hard-to-find plants and wildlife, and to discover threats to both, such as poison and illegal snares.

But being a conservation detection dog requires more than a keen sense of smell. The best dogs for this work are extremely high-energy and toy obsessed—oftentimes the ones that wind up in shelters across the nation.

Now, however, because of a new partnership between Working Dogs for Conservation and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, these dogs are being actively sought out across the country through a new program, Rescues 2the Rescue.

The program’s goal is to “place high-energy dogs in careers and homes that complement their vitality,” a statement from the program reads. “The program provides a platform for shelters and conservation detection dog organizations and trainers to connect and communicate, as well as standardized evaluation tools for assessing a canine’s potential to be a working dog.” 

And while these may seem like efforts that have little impact on the average American, Carson Barylak, campaigns officer for IFAW, told Townhall the program is helpful to society on multiple levels.

“Whether it’s a concern for protection of endangered species in the wild … to tiny endangered plants around the world, or whether you care about animals—puppies—being happy … and think about your own dog, there are advantages from all perspectives in this program,” she said. “It’s great for shelters, it’s great for conservation, it’s great for the dogs, and of course, the working dogs groups that are looking to raise more awareness.”

And to get a sneak peak at the kind of impact these canines are having, one need look no further than the program’s website to see success stories like Wicket’s:

Wicket was 12 months old and had been at the shelter for 6 months. Her history was unknown. She had recently been spayed by a shelter “angel” hoping to make her more appealing for adoption. But it’s often very difficult to find a home for a dog who constantly whines and barks, and literally bounces of the walls of her kennel.

But something about her “brand” of bounce made me offer her a tennis ball through the front of her kennel. She was captivated. Her eyes never left the ball. Out in the exercise yard I was impressed by her eagerness for the ball and how she problem-solved until she could possess it again. I told the shelter worker that I wanted to try her out for a career as a conservation detection dog. “That one?!” the worker asked, incredulous. “But, that one’s crazy!”

Turns out, she was the right kind of “crazy”. That was almost 10 years ago. Wicket completed training blindingly fast, and was working in the mountains west of Yellowstone Park just a few months later sniffing out scat of wolves and grizzly bears. By now she has worked in 7 countries and 14 states, and knows how to sniff out over 25 different species of plants, live endangered animals, live unwanted pests, and scats. She is one of the stars of Working Dogs for Conservation.

“Our goal is to stem the tide of unadopted pets in US shelters and create rich and rewarding lives for canine partners,” Pete Coppolillo, WDC’s executive director, said in a statement. “Working with IFAW, we can have a much larger impact on shelter populations, particularly those unadopted dogs with the potential to save themselves by leveraging their characteristics to start a new, productive life saving wildlife.”

For more information on the program you can visit the websites linked above, or check out this fun video on how to identify a rescue dog that would be a good candidate for detection work.  

Vox: On Second Thought, The American Revolution Was A Mistake

This is just trolling, right? I mean, do you feel that that leaving the British Empire was a mistake? Well, Dylan Matthews of Vox appears to be lamenting our independence since we would have abolished slavery sooner, the Native Americans would have experienced a slightly less horrific genocide, and we would have adopted the UK’s system of government, which is totally better than America’s (according to liberals) because it allows the governing party to bulldoze over its opponents to push through their agenda:

American independence in 1776 was a monumental mistake. We should be mourning the fact that we left the United Kingdom, not cheering it.

Of course, evaluating the wisdom of the American Revolution means dealing with counterfactuals. As any historian would tell you, this is messy business. We obviously can't be entirely sure how America would have fared if it had stayed in the British Empire longer, perhaps gaining independence a century or so later, along with Canada.

But I'm reasonably confident a world where the revolution never happened would be better than the one we live in now, for three main reasons: slavery would've been abolished earlier, American Indians would've faced rampant persecution but not the outright ethnic cleansing Andrew Jackson and other American leaders perpetrated, and America would have a parliamentary system of government that makes policymaking easier and lessens the risk of democratic collapse.

The main reason the revolution was a mistake is that the British Empire, in all likelihood, would have abolished slavery earlier than the US did, and with less bloodshed.

This alone is enough to make the case against the revolution. Decades less slavery is a massive humanitarian gain that almost certainly dominates whatever gains came to the colonists from independence.

The main benefit of the revolution to colonists was that it gave more political power to America's white male minority.

American Indians would have still, in all likelihood, faced violence and oppression absent American independence, just as First Nations people in Canada did. But American-scale ethnic cleansing wouldn't have occurred.

…parliamentary democracies are a lot, lot better than presidential ones. They're significantly less likely to collapse into dictatorship because they don't lead to irresolvable conflicts between, say, the president and the legislature. They lead to much less gridlock.

In the US, activists wanting to put a price on carbon emissions spent years trying to put together a coalition to make it happen, mobilizing sympathetic businesses and philanthropists and attempting to make bipartisan coalition — and they still failed to pass cap and trade, after millions of dollars and man hours. In the UK, the Conservative government decided it wanted a carbon tax. So there was a carbon tax. Just like that. Passing big, necessary legislation — in this case, legislation that's literally necessary to save the planet — is a whole lot easier with parliaments than presidential systems.

So, there you have it; it’s a gross amalgamation of revisionist history and pipe dreams. No one denies American history had its messy moments, but that goes with almost any nation. The point is for future generations to learn from those mistakes, hence why racism is anathema in American society, why we’ll probably never lock up an entire ethnic minority during times of war, and why we’ll never reimpose an awful system of racial segregation. Slavery was ended after 600,000 American lives were lost during the Civil War, but doing the right thing sometimes has a hefty price tag. At the same time, the post-Civil War era marked the point where Americans began see one another as citizens of a united country, instead of the regionalist attitudes exhibited in the antebellum era. 

Over at Hot Air, Ed aptly points out that the Weimer Republic in Germany was a parliamentary system that collapsed into a dictatorship … led by Adolf Hitler, the British and the French consistently pitted the native tribes against one another in the frontier lands of America, and that strategy of playing tribes off each other would have probably entered another vicious cycle in the Napoleonic Wars. Oh, and Pontiac’s Rebellion–a three-year war against the British by a confederation of tribes along the Great Lakes–began due to perceived mistreatment by the Crown.

Lastly, on the issue of government, I like gridlock. Gridlock is our safety blanket in American society, and to not understand that is to avoid the essence of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The overarching theme was safety, not efficiency. As George Will says pervasively when this issue is brought up, that’s why we have three branches of government, two branches of the legislature, veto, veto override, supermajorities, judicial review, and the filibuster. All of these mechanisms are meant to slow the speed of government.

Also, forget the carbon tax scenario, what about the War on Terror? The majority of Americans think the interrogation measures that were used on terrorism suspects after 9/11 was justified, with a majority also saying that such techniques amounted to torture. In the system we have today, with a written Constitution, our political leaders and legal scholars would have to see if such techniques are legal. In the UK system, the legality of such techniques–theoretically–would've ended once a bill was passed. The UK doesn’t have a written Constitution; it’s whatever parliament passes. Hence, why liberals probably like the UK model so much since it permits them to effectively have a true living constitution. It’s a horrifying aspect. 

At the same time, our Constitution does not prohibit legislatures from passing laws permitting abortion on demand or banning the death penalty, so, in a sense; liberals have been fighting their battles in the wrong arenas. Yet, they will probably have a problem building a consensus for the former initiative. Nevertheless, it shows you that consensus is key in advancing our society in a democratic manner.

So, I’m not unhappy–or sad–that our Founding Father announced our complete break from Great Britain 239 years ago today. I’m not proud of our treatment of Native Americans or the institution of slavery, but those issues were dealt with, sometimes with a heavy body count and other times with results that were less than stellar. We’re not perfect, but neither is the UK. And that certainly applies to their system of government. The best we can do is learn from our shortfalls within our history and hope that future generations get it right.

The Declaration of Independence

Editor's note: For more founding documents please visit usconstitution.com.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted The Declaration of Independence. This document would prove one of the most important charters for freedom in the world, as it laid out the reasons why the United States was justified in throwing off the oppression of their English king.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock

Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll
of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple

Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

British Government's Desperate Clampdown On Taxpayer Funded Health Timewasters

The British government has signaled it intends to launch a crackdown on people who cost taxpayers billions of dollars by abusing free healthcare. Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told the BBC's Question Time programme, patients who book appointments with doctors but fail to turn up will be told how much their actions cost the taxpayer.

Politicians are desperately grappling with out of control costs in the state funded National Health Service. When it was established in the 1940s the government assumed universal healthcare would eradicate disease and costs would fall.

As a result they put little thought into long-term funding, and deliberately overpaid doctors to get them to agree to work for the NHS. The Labour politician who founded the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, famous said of doctors “we stuffed their mouths with gold”.

Today anyone can book an appointment with a taxpayer funded General Practitioner (GP) doctor without giving any reason. The GPs themselves earn an average of $150,000 a year, and ten percent earn more than the Prime Minister's $222,000 salary.

They are required to diagnose simple problems, write prescriptions for basic drugs and refer all complex cases to specialists. The patient is not penalized if they fail to turn up to either the GP or the specialist. Under this new proposal that would not change.
Mr Hunt's plan is to effectively shame time wasters into stopping, although he did say he was “open” to plans for charging. Something the Prime Minister's office later stamped on, saying they would never charge.

Hunt's ideas may sound meek but the problem is very serious with the cost of failure to attend appointments put at $1.56bn (£1bn) a year.

On the BBC he said: “We are very stretched for resources, doctors and nurses work incredibly hard and we're going to have a million more over-70s by the end of this Parliament. If we're going to square the circle and have a fantastic NHS, despite all those pressures, we have to take personal responsibility about how we use NHS resources.

"I don't have a problem in principle with charging people for missed appointments, in practical terms it is difficult to do. But I have taken a step towards that this week by announcing that when people do miss an appointment they will be told how much that will cost the NHS as a first step."

The Heath Secretary is also grappling with the bizarre problem of bored and lonely people turning up for unnecessary treatments to get 'out of the house'. Those responsible are mainly over the age of 65 and may account for as many as 30 million visits to GPs every year, with appointments costing the taxpayer up to $150 a time.

As many as one in ten pensioners are believed to have attended appointments due to boredom or loneliness.

The move to reduce wasted appointments comes in the same week Hunt announced plans to print the cost of drugs on the packaging when it is distributed through the prescription scheme.

Under the scheme everyone gets a huge discount on the medicine, courtesy of the taxpayer, as they are charged only $13 no matter what the cost of the drugs. Many groups such as children get the drugs entirely free of charge.

The figure and the words "funded by the UK taxpayer" will be added to all packs costing more than $31 in England. The move is hoped to reduce the estimated $467m annual cost of people simply throwing drugs away rather than using them because they attach no value to them.

The total cost of the National Health Service is around $150bn a year, around $3000 a year for every man, woman and child in the country. It has some of the worst survival rates for diseases like cancer in Europe.

NY Lawmakers Propose Prison Reform Legislation After Shocking Escape

By all accounts, escaping from Clinton Correctional Facility was seemingly “impossible.” Yet, inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat managed to do so – twice. The two criminals’ brazen getaway, which preceded a 3-week long police search through upstate New York, ultimately ended in the authorities’ favor. Yet, the ordeal has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the state’s prisons. A group of bipartisan lawmakers are determined to find answers as to why the current culture allowed for such an escape.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has been criticized for his management of the state’s correctional facilities. Since taking office, 13 New York prisons have closed, with the correctional officers’ union calling for more staff. The governor has pushed back against the reproach, citing favorable statistics that show the correctional officer to prisoner ratio has remained the same.

However, reports like this undermine his defensive comments:

Still, the state's prison system had a 29 percent increase in assaults on officers by inmates between 2010 and 2014. Most were at maximum-security facilities, including Clinton, Attica, Elmira and Bedford Hills in Westchester County, according to state records reviewed by Gannett's Albany Bureau.

Cuomo pledged that his administration will investigate the ‘honor block’ system that allowed Matt and Sweat to receive special treatment for good behavior while serving time in the facility. So far, two employees have been charged for conspiring with the prisoners, including providing them with power tools, while dozens more have been placed on leave.

"But we have a lot of work to do, investigating both the cooperators and making the point that that cannot happen, and if that happens, that will be fully prosecuted," Cuomo said.

State legislators are similarly determined to find out what happened.

Assembly Corrections Committee Chairman Daniel O'Donnell, D-Manhattan, has introduced a bill to require any prison investigation to be performed independently by the Inspector General’s Office. Republicans went a step further in suggesting the investigation needs to be conducted outside of the Cuomo administration.

"There needs to be an independent top to bottom investigation as to what happened and then let the chips fall where they may," Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, said in a statement. "But this modest, common-sense legislation is a no brainer."

It’s frightening how much freedom and goods Matt and Sweat were awarded inside Clinton Correctional Facility. If we can’t trust our correctional officers to resist corruption in the form of bribes and flattery, those metal bars may as well be paper mache.

Oh My: George Takei Called Justice Thomas 'A Clown In Blackface'

There is a serious argument against the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which said there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. That being said, there is still a legitimate debate as to whether this was the proper avenue to grant this right for gay Americans, instead of the legislative process. Nevertheless, it’s hard to have such discussions when you have people, like George Takei (aka Hikaru Sulu*), dole out what could be construed as patently racist attacks. Takei recently called Justice Clarence Thomas “a clown in blackface” and a “disgrace” to the nation.

Even die-hard liberals, like Bill Clinton’s chief strategist Paul Begala, thought the remarks were utterly reprehensible. Folks, even Marc Lamont Hill thought Sulu crashed the ship on this one.

To make matter worse, Takei doubled down on his remarks.

Takei has finally apologized for his remarks, posting on his Facebook page that his comments were “uncivil” and “ad hominem.” That’s putting it mildly [emphasis mine]:

I owe an apology. On the eve of this Independence Day, I have a renewed sense of what this country stands for, and how I personally could help achieve it. The promise of equality and freedom is one that all of us have to work for, at all times. I know this as a survivor of the Japanese American internment, which each day drives me only to strive harder to help fulfill that promise for future generations.

I recently was asked by a reporter about Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the marriage equality cases, in which he wrote words that really got under my skin, by suggesting that the government cannot take away human dignity through slavery, or though internment. In my mind that suggested that this meant he felt the government therefore shouldn’t be held accountable, or should do nothing in the face of gross violations of dignity.

When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a “clown in blackface” to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage. This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to vehemently disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered. I am reminded, especially on this July 4th holiday, that though we have the freedom to speak our minds, we must use that freedom judiciously. Each of us, as humans, have hot-button topics that can set us off, and Justice Thomas had hit mine, that is clear. But my choice of words was regrettable, not because I do not believe Justice Thomas is deeply wrong, but because they were ad hominem and uncivil, and for that I am sorry.

I often ask fans to keep the level of discourse on this page and in comments high, and to remember that we all love this country and for what it stands for, even if we often disagree passionately about how to achieve those goals. I did not live up to my own high standards in this instance.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe and joyously free July 4th, the first where all married couples in the U.S. can enjoy the full liberties of matrimony equally. It is truly a blessing to be an American today.

Okay. Sulu apologized, but it comes to show you that we cannot have serious conservation anymore with the left, especially when they dish out racially charged cheap shots a la Takei. Not to mention, he only apologized when the backlash proved to be significant.

I don’t agree with New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon, formerly of Slate, but she had a fair article about the Obergefell ruling, where she noted both sides–and the concerns of those who represent the conservative wing of the Court. Of course, she supports the ruling, but there’s no mentioning of black face, there’s no questioning of the legitimacy of the justices, nor is there any ad hominem attacks akin to those who make it their business to troll on the Internet:

The dissenters are clear and thorough about the downsides of this. Chief Justice John Roberts asks sarcastically of his colleagues, “Just who do we think we are?” He also makes this sensible pitch for judicial restraint: “When decisions are reached through democratic means, some people will inevitably be disappointed with the results. But those whose views do not prevail at least know that they have had their say, and accordingly are — in the tradition of our political culture — reconciled to the result of a fair and honest debate.”

Roberts warns that “stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.” Justice Samuel Alito goes further, predicting that today’s ruling “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy” and “exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.” He ends on a note of doom: “Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.”

Among gay rights supporters, these doubts will be drowned out in celebration — as Roberts, for one, acknowledges. Perhaps some activists would quietly agree that state-by-state lawmaking would be better. But the evidence to date suggests that Alito’s dire warning is overblown; the backlash to same-sex marriage has so far been contained to minor skirmishes. There are no victims when gay couples marry. The gain, in love, commitment and stability, is easy to see. These are among the reasons public opinion has moved swiftly in favor of marriage equality.

Yet, the backlash towards those who support the non-controversial traditional marriage position will probably find themselves under siege by the media and lefty activists. This is where we’re at risk of entering a phase where no discussions on these issues can be developed.

Obergefell isn’t final. Neither is Roe v. Wade, or Gonzalez v. Carhart (the Court’s upholding of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act). The Court does change its opinions on certain laws. Plessy v. Ferguson is a prime example; with the Court erroneously ruling the racial segregation laws are constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine in 1896. That was reversed in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. As a result, conservatives should prepare for a long wait concerning re-litigating the gay marriage ruling post-Obergefell. But, for now, the Takei meltdown is over, but we should expect more to come, especially as conservatives rethink their legal options.

Last Note: Bill Shatner tweets that Takei isn't a racist.

*I hate Star Trek.

Woman Dies of Measles in Washington State

A woman in Washington State has died from the measles, marking the first death from the illness in the United States since 2003.

The woman, whose age and other identifying factors were not disclosed, likely contracted measles while in a health care facility in Clallam County. The woman was immuno-suppressed due to medications she was taking for a different illness, and did not develop the typical rash associated with measles.

From the Washington Post:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 178 people from 24 states and the District were reported to have measles from Jan. 1 through June 26 of this year. Two-thirds of the cases, the CDC noted, were "part of a large multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California."

This newly confirmed case marks Washington's 11th reported instance of measles this year, and state health officials urged people to vaccinate against the virus.

"This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles," the state health department's statement read. "People with compromised immune systems often cannot be vaccinated against measles."

This. Is. Why. Vaccination. Is. Important. Herd immunity protects everyone, not just the person who is vaccinated. When a person is not vaccinated, they weaken the herd immunity until it ceases to exist. Herd immunity protects people with weakened immune systems and people whose vaccines did not take. Measles, which once was eradicated from the United States, is on the upswing as people delay or skip vaccinations. This isn't progress.

Four Facts About the Fourth of July

Editor’s note: This post was published (and re-uploaded from) last year. The headline, however, has been changed.

Happy Fourth of July! Today we celebrate 239 years of American independence. To that end, here are four interesting facts about this uniquely American holiday that you might not be aware of.

(1) Did you know that the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution to dissolve all political ties with Great Britain on July 2, 1776? It wasn’t until two days later, on July 4th, that the Founding Fathers formally adopted the document we now universally refer to as the “Declaration of Independence.”

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America,” John Adams wrote his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776. As it turned out, he was off by a few days.

(2) John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed away on July 4, 1826 -- 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted. The fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, also died on July 4th shortly thereafter -- in 1831.

(3) Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Pennsylvania’s Benjamin Franklin (70) was the oldest to sign his name, and South Carolina’s Edward Rutledge (26) was the youngest.

(4) John Hancock was the first delegate to sign the Declaration; and he was only one of two delegates to do so on July 4, 1776. According to legend, he decided to sign his name in big, ostentatious letters so that, as he put it, the “fat old King could read it without his spectacles.”

So there you have it. Have a great day, everyone. I’ll leave you with this: an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence -- one of the most important political documents ever written (or ever will be written):

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Read it all here, and explore Townhall's U.S. Constitution page here.

America The Beautiful on Independence Day

Happy Independence Day everyone. Hillsdale College, which is partially dedicated to preserving the principles of the U.S. Constitution through education, put together a wonderful tribute to the classic song "America the Beautiful." Enjoy.

US Blocking Heavy Weapons to Kurdish Fighters

The United States has been blocking Arab nations from giving heavy weapons to the Kurdish army in its effort to fight ISIS, according to a new report. Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been fighting ISIS for months and have recently made key gains, but they have repeatedly voiced their need for heavier armaments. They are currently relying on outdated Soviet-era weaponry, while their ISIS opponents are wielding modern American arms, which they seized from Iraqi troops last year.

The US-led air coalition has providing bombing assistance to Kurdish troops, which proved key to the Kurdish advance into Syria two weeks ago. But calls to give heavy armaments, even from within the US Congress, have gone unanswered. A measure to directly arm the Kurds failed failed in the Senate two weeks ago. 

Some Arab countries have expressed unwillingness to wait on US support.

“If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating Isil, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,” said a senior Arab government official. “With Isil making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.”

European countries have even purchased weapons for the Kurds — millions of dollars' worth — yet those weapons haven't yet reached Kurdish hands. The US military oversees the war against ISIS, and it directs all military arms support through Baghdad. This has enabled the US to block all arms transfers to the Kurds from other countries.

Regional allies — such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states — have been frustrated at the lack of direction and resolve in the US-led air campaign. These countries' militaries have frequently identified ISIS targets on the ground, only to have them vetoed by US officials. One senior Gulf state officical said:

“There is simply no strategic approach. “There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating Isil.”

US pilots have also complained of targets being called off, even as they have them in the crosshairs.

Why would the president and administration officials want to keep Kurdish fighters from obtaining heavy arms? Do they not want to see ISIS destroyed?

One likely reason for the administration's blocking of arms is that a well-armed Kurdish army poses a threat to Turkey — a NATO ally that affords the US key strategic privileges. Turkey holds numerous military bases that the US uses. They not only allow the US to hold a key presence in the region; they also give the US a strategic foothold at Russia's doorstep.

The Kurdish people — who have no official nation, yet desire independence — have long posed a threat to Turkey's national stability. Ethnic Kurds comprise about 18 percent of Turkey's population and are mostly concentrated in the country's southeastern provinces, which border Syria and Iraq. If the Kurdish Peshmerga were to attain heavy arms, it may well defeat ISIS, but it would also embolden the Kurds to consolidate their ethnic communities in Turkey and forcefully push for national independence. If that happened, Turkey would lose 18 percent of its population and large swaths of land. Because Turkey is such an asset for the US, the administration is likely aiming to keep Turkey happy by keeping the Kurds relatively weak.

Since the Kurds have made real progress against ISIS, the administration is likely playing a game of wait-and-see in hopes that the progress continues. It is a rather forward move, though, for the administration to block other countries from arming the Kurds. It is reasonable to assume the US could keep good relations with Turkey without going so far as to block other countries' aid to the Kurds.

Even so, one can argue that the Kurds deserve their own nation anyway, and a strong Kurdistan would serve American interests and create a new regional buffer against Iran — a buffer that Turkey is not providing. At the very least, US officials should stop preventing other countries from giving arms to the Kurds. The biggest threat to the region is not an unhappy Turkey, but ISIS and the havoc it is wreaking in Syria and Iraq. A well-armed Kurdish army can only help the overall situation.

Seattle Schools to 6th Graders: No Soda For You, But Here's An IUD

From mandates about what food children can eat to draconian attendance policies, it’s becoming increasingly clear that parental rights do not exist when you send your child to public school, as The Blaze’s Matt Walsh has argued before.

But in Seattle, it’s even worse. In at least 13 public schools in the area, where kids are banned from even having soda or candy, middle and high school-aged girls can get a taxpayer-funded IUD without their parents’ consent.

CNS News reports:

[Long-acting reversible contraceptives] are associated with serious side effects, such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The state and federally funded contraceptive services are made possible by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program which provides free birth control to adults who are uninsured, lack contraceptive coverage, have an income at or below 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level -- or, in this case, to teens who don’t want their parents to know they’re on birth control.

In an email exchange with the Washington State Health Care Authority and CNSNews.com, a Take Charge spokesperson acknowledged that underage students are eligible for a “full array of covered family planning services” at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program’s requirements.

Take Charge added that “a student who does not want their parents to know they are seeking reproductive health services is allowed to apply forTake Charge using their own income, and if they are insured under their parents’ plan, the insurance would not be billed.”

When asked if a sixth grader could get an IUD implanted without parental consent,Take Charge told CNSNews.com: “We encourage allTake Charge providers to offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in their clinics. A young person does not need parental consent to obtain a LARC or any other contraceptive method...If the young person is not choosing abstinence, she would be able to select a LARC and have it inserted without parental consent.”

Just so we’re clear: Chocolate and sugar? Way too unhealthy. Sex and contraceptives? Totally fine. And since Washington’s law states that “every individual has the fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions,” there’s nothing parents can do about it.

Homeschooling is looking better and better, isn’t it?