HAS GOD MADE THEM LOONY?

Miracles sometimes come in strange packages. Here are a few examples: Abolish air travel. Spend 20 trillion dollars. Ban meat. Give the Boston Bomber the right to vote from prison. Jesus was not Jewish. Shut down the energy producing companies. Get rid of all private insurance companies. Give free health care and college to all illegal aliens.  Kill babies after they are born. I kid you not. These are the exact words coming from politicians in the Democrat Party.

They seem like they are under the influence of something that forces them to act in their own worst interest. Are we watching a miracle like the night Trump won the election? Is the Democrat Party a tower of Babel where God has come down to confound their language?

They spout utter madness with a straight face. All the loony ideas the Democrat Party used to filter out or hide among themselves in smoky back rooms are now front and center. It seems they can’t help themselves. Even when they know it damages them, they keep talking crazy. Even when they are presented with incontrovertible facts, they hold to what are patent lies.

The Democrat Party alienates mainstream America. Why don’t they care? I believe it is because of God. I believe we are seeing an answer to prayer. The Bible says, “2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the Truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…”

But another kind of judgment has fallen on them: division.    We are watching a good old fashioned Old Testament event, just like when God confused the enemies of Israel and caused them to be divided among themselves.

Here’s the post where I predicted that this would happenhttps://mariomurilloministries.wordpress.com/2019/01/24/a-lying-spirit/

Remember the first miracle we saw the night Trump was elected? Every media outlet except Fox News guaranteed a Clinton victory.  As the evening wore on, a shift began to take place. None of the Leftists could believe it. Soon their dismissive expressions turned to dismay as the seemingly impossible was happening right before their eyes.

Are we watching another miracle? As the Mueller investigation stumbles into oblivion with nothing to show for the millions of taxpayer’s dollars they wasted—as the tide turns in what only a couple of weeks ago seemed a devastating time for both Trump and Republicans— are we seeing prayer being answered right before our eyes?

There is a law of war that says “never stop your enemy when they are making a mistake.” That is happening right now. And it means it’s time for the church to take action. It means we must reach out with greater fervency. Now is the time for mass soul winning−because God has set back the Leftist threat to our freedom. This is no time for overconfidence or apathy. New threats are coming. This is a moment we have been waiting for–when the minds of Americans can change. You have a part in this miracle. You must speak up. You must pray. The fields are white unto harvest. There is no time like now to spread the Gospel!

 

 

ARE YOU PREPARED TO PROSPER?

I am asking you a simple question: Are you prepared to prosper?  The funny thing is that no matter how clearly, I condemn the materialist gospel…just using the word prosperity lumps me in with those vulgar preachers living in obscene luxury while begging for the widow’s mite.

ARE YOU PREPARED TO PROSPER?

By Mario Murillo

Are you prepared to prosper?

It is 200 times stronger than steel and six times lighter.  It can carry 1,000 times more electricity than copper.  It conducts electricity 250 times faster than silicon.  It bends light so that it can create invisibility in camouflage.

Its applications seem endless.  Astounding electric batteries, computers hundreds of times faster, many times lighter, and can bend.  Imagine a child carrying a 50-inch flat screen television because it only weighs 4 pounds. Imagine a powder that absorbs radioactive waste. It is called graphene, and only God knows how it will change the world.

This blog is not about graphene. It is about you!  It asks you a simple question: Are you prepared to prosper?  The funny thing is, no matter how clearly I condemn the materialist gospel, just using the word “prosperity” lumps me in with those vulgar preachers living in obscene luxury while begging for the widow’s mite.

This is a message about being prepared.  Listen to Paul the Apostle: “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need”- Philippians 4:12 NASB.  Paul knew how to seize whatever opportunity the future held.  Look at those words again: “I know how to live in prosperity.”

Meet the leading American scientist handling graphene: Professor James Tour, raised in a secular Jewish home in White Plains, became a born-again Christian as a freshman at Syracuse University. Married, with four grown children, he rises at three forty every morning for an hour and a half of prayer and Bible study, followed several times a week with workouts at the gym, and arrives at the office at six fifteen.

Why do I mention him?  I mention him because his faith is driving his quest for scientific breakthroughs.

However, his belief that he can change the world runs counter to the bunker mentality of the American church.  We are prepared for disaster.  We are prepared for terror.  We are prepared to leave the scene.  We are prepared for conspiracy theories.  But we are not prepared for prosperity.  We are blind to any opportunity that contradicts our pessimism about the future.

Obama taught Americans to feel sorry for themselves.  He canonized the victim mentality.  He blamed Christianity for everything and Islam for nothing.  He convinced a lot of believers that the great tribulation was 8 years long and not 7.  No wonder the church went on the defensive.  No wonder we are continually lowering our expectations of how much we can accomplish in this life.

future-copy

Yes, I believe the anti-Christ is coming.  I believe in the coming of world-wide convulsions that are clearly laid out in the Bible.  I have warned the church about sin, hypocrisy and corruption as much as any preacher in America.  I have raised some disturbing questions for our leaders.  Now, in that same tradition, I raise more disturbing questions:

What if you can accomplish more for the glory of God than you first believed?

What if the best books are yet to be written?

What if the most powerful missionaries are yet to appear?

What if God wants to give you authority and provision to drive back evil and you have mentally disqualified yourself?

What if you are going to live longer than you think, with a sharper mind, a greater discipline and a stronger body than you imagined?

Don’t get me wrong, prosperity is not a life of ease.  Professor James Tour trains like a Navy Seal!  Success is not about money, especially not for the righteous!

Godly prosperity is embodied in Daniel.  He handled great temptation.  He decided—from the jump—to remain pure.  Daniel 1:8 says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank…”

Anyone can remain holy while holed up in a survival cabin hiding.  It takes Holy Ghost gumption to invade Wall Street, the halls of power, and sit with World Leaders carrying the counsel of God.

It takes special grace being the Christian singer who crosses over and carries the Cross over.

Anybody can be that comatose, Christian complainer who sits in the bleachers and criticizes vision and greatness.

The most dangerous thing about today is the fact that a miraculous life can be right in front of you and you can miss it.  Graphene was discovered in one of the most common elements.

As Professor Tour said, “Imagine if one were God. Here, He’s given us pencils, and all these years scientists are trying to figure out some great thing, and you’re just stripping off sheets of graphene as you use your pencil. It has been before our eyes all this time!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reason oil could drop as low as $20 per barrel

The reason oil could drop as low as $20 per barrel

By Anatole Kaletsky
December 19, 2014
  • An oil pump jack pumps oil in a field near Calgary

How low can it go — and how long will it last? The 50 percent slump in oil prices raises both those questions and while nobody can confidently answer the first question (I will try to in a moment), the second is pretty easy.

Low oil prices will last long enough for one of two events to happen. The first possibility, the one most traders and analysts seem to expect, is that Saudi Arabia will re-establish OPEC’s monopoly power once it achieves the true geopolitical or economic objectives that spurred it to trigger the slump. The second possibility, one I wrote about two weeks ago, is that the global oil market will move toward normal competitive conditions in which prices are set by the marginal production costs, rather than Saudi or OPEC monopoly power. This may seem like a far-fetched scenario, but it is more or less how the oil market worked for two decades from 1986 to 2004.

Whichever outcome finally puts a floor under prices, we can be confident that the process will take a long time to unfold. It is inconceivable that just a few months of falling prices will be enough time for the Saudis to either break the Iranian-Russian axis or reverse the growth of shale oil production in the United States. It is equally inconceivable that the oil market could quickly transition from OPEC domination to a normal competitive one. The many bullish oil investors who still expect prices to rebound quickly to their pre-slump trading range are likely to be disappointed. The best that oil bulls can hope for is that a new, and substantially lower, trading range may be established as the multi-year battles over Middle East dominance and oil-market share play out.

The key question is whether the present price of around $55 will prove closer to the floor or the ceiling of this new range. The history of inflation-adjusted oil prices, deflated by the U.S. Consumer Price Index, offers some intriguing hints. The 40 years since OPEC first flexed its muscles in 1974 can be divided into three distinct periods. From 1974 to 1985, West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, fluctuated between $48 and $120 in today’s money. From 1986 to 2004, the price ranged from $21 to $48 (apart from two brief aberrations during the 1998 Russian crisis and the 1991 war in Iraq). And from 2005 until this year, oil has again traded in its 1974 to 1985 range of roughly $50 to $120, apart from two very brief spikes in the 2008-09 financial crisis.

What makes these three periods significant is that the trading range of the past 10 years was very similar to the 1974-85 first decade of OPEC domination, but the 19 years from 1986 to 2004 represented a totally different regime. It seems plausible that the difference between these two regimes can be explained by the breakdown of OPEC power in 1985 and the shift from monopolistic to competitive pricing for the next 20 years, followed by the restoration of monopoly pricing in 2005 as OPEC took advantage of surging Chinese demand.

In view of this history, the demarcation line between the monopolistic and competitive regimes at a little below $50 a barrel seems a reasonable estimate of where one boundary of the new long-term trading range might end up. But will $50 be a floor or a ceiling for the oil price in the years ahead?

There are several reasons to expect a new trading range as low as $20 to $50, as in the period from 1986 to 2004. Technological and environmental pressures are reducing long-term oil demand and threatening to turn much of the high-cost oil outside the Middle East into a “stranded asset” similar to the earth’s vast unwanted coal reserves. Additional pressures for low oil prices in the long term include the possible lifting of sanctions on Iran and Russia and the ending of civil wars in Iraq and Libya, which between them would release additional oil reserves bigger than Saudi Arabia’s on to the world markets.

The U.S. shale revolution is perhaps the strongest argument for a return to competitive pricing instead of the OPEC-dominated monopoly regimes of 1974-85 and 2005-14. Although shale oil is relatively costly, production can be turned on and off much more easily – and cheaply – than from conventional oilfields. This means that shale prospectors should now be the “swing producers” in global oil markets instead of the Saudis. In a truly competitive market, the Saudis and other low-cost producers would always be pumping at maximum output, while shale shuts off when demand is weak and ramps up when demand is strong. This competitive logic suggests that marginal costs of U.S. shale oil, generally estimated at $40 to $50, should in the future be a ceiling for global oil prices, not a floor.

On the other hand, there are also good arguments for OPEC-monopoly pricing of $50 to $120 to be re-established once markets test the bottom of this range. OPEC members have a strong interest in preventing a return to competitive pricing and could learn to function again as an effective cartel. Although price-fixing becomes more difficult as U.S. producers increase market share, OPEC could try to impose pricing “discipline” if it can knock out many U.S. shale producers next year. The macro-economic impact of low oil prices on global growth could help this effort by boosting economic activity and energy demand.

So which of these arguments will prove right: The bearish case for a $20 to $50 trading-range based on competitive market pricing? Or the bullish one for $50 to $120 based on resumed OPEC dominance?

Ask me again once the price of oil has fallen to $50 – and stayed there for a year or so.

Falling Oil Prices are Destroying OPEC

Revolutionary changes sweeping the world’s energy industry will drive down the price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), creating a “multi-year” glut and a much cheaper source of gas for Europe.

Francisco Blanch, the bank’s commodity chief, said Opec is “effectively dissolved” after it failed to stabilize prices at its last meeting. “The consequences are profound and long-lasting,“ he said.

The free market will now set the global cost of oil, leading to a new era of wild price swings and disorderly trading that benefits only the Mid-East petro-states with deepest pockets such as Saudi Arabia. If so, the weaker peripheral members such as Venezuela and Nigeria are being thrown to the wolves.

The bank said in its year-end report that at least 15pc of US shale producers are losing money at current prices, and more than half will be under water if US crude falls below $55. The high-cost producers in the Permian basin will be the first to “feel the pain” and may soon have to cut back on production.

Bank of America said the current slump will choke off shale projects in Argentina and Mexico, and will force retrenchment in Canadian oil sands and some of Russia’s remote fields. The major oil companies will have to cut back on projects with a break-even cost below $80 for Brent crude.

It will take six months or so to whittle away the 1m barrels a day of excess oil on the market – with US crude falling to $50 – given that supply and demand are both “inelastic” in the short-run. That will create the beginnings of the next shortage. “We expect a pretty sharp rebound to the high $80s or even $90 in the second half of next year,” said Sabine Schels, the bank’s energy expert.

Mrs Schels said the global market for (LNG) will “change drastically” in 2015, going into a “bear market” lasting years as a surge of supply from Australia compounds the global effects of the US gas saga.

If the forecast is correct, the LNG flood could have powerful political effects, giving Europe a source of mass supply that can undercut pipeline gas from Russia. The EU already has enough LNG terminals to cover most of its gas needs. It has not been able to use this asset as a geostrategic bargaining chip with the Kremlin because LGN itself has been in scarce supply, mostly diverted to Japan and Korea. Much of Europe may not need Russian gas at all within a couple of years.

Bank of America said the oil price crash is worth $1 trillion of stimulus for the global economy, equal to a $730bn “tax cut” in 2015. Yet the effects are complex, with winners and losers. The benefits diminish the further it falls. Academic studies suggest that oil crashes can ultimately turn negative if they trigger systemic financial crises in commodity states.

Barnaby Martin, the bank’s European credit chief, said world asset markets may face a stress test as the US Federal Reserve starts to tighten afters year of largesse. “Our biggest worry is the end of the liquidity cycle. The Fed is done and it is preparing to raise rates. The reach for yield that we have seen since 2009 is going into reverse”, he said.

Mr Martin flagged warnings by William Dudley, the head of the New York Fed, that the US authorities had tightened too gently in 2004 and might do better to adopt the strategy of 1994 when they raised rates fast and hard, sending tremors through global bond markets.

Bank of America said quantitative easing in Europe and Japan will cover just 35pc of the global stimulus lost as the Fed pulls back, creating a treacherous hiatus for markets. It warned that the full effect of Fed tapering had yet to be felt. From now on the markets cannot expect to be rescued every time there is a squall. “The threshold for the Fed to return to QE will be high. This is why we believe we are entering a phase in which bad news will be bad news and volatility will likely rise,” it said.

What is clear is that the world has become addicted to central bank stimulus. Bank of America said 56pc of global GDP is currently supported by zero interest rates, and so are 83pc of the free-floating equities on global bourses. Half of all government bonds in the world yield less that 1pc. Roughly 1.4bn people are experiencing negative rates in one form or another.

These are astonishing figures, evidence of a 1930s-style depression, albeit one that is still contained. Nobody knows what will happen as the Fed tries to break out of the stimulus trap, including Fed officials themselves.

Biggest transfer of wealth in history coming soon?

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As oil prices plunge, wide-ranging effects for consumers and the global economy

By Steven Mufson December 1 at 9:26 PM

Tumbling oil prices are draining hundreds of billions of dollars from the coffers of oil-rich exporters and oil companies and injecting a much-needed boost for ailing economies in Europe and Japan — and for American consumers at the start of the peak shopping season.

The result could be one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history, potentially reshaping everything from talks over Iran’s nuclear program to the Federal Reserve’s policies to further rejuvenate the U.S. economy.

The price of oil has declined about 40 percent since its peak in mid-June and plunged last week after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries voted to continue to pump at the same rate. That continued a trend driven by a weak global economy and expanding U.S. domestic energy supplies.

The question facing investors, companies and policymakers is how low oil prices will go — and for how long. Every day, American motorists are saving $630 million on gasoline compared with what they paid at June prices, and they would get a $230 billion windfall if prices were to stay this low for a year. The vast majority of that will flow into the economy, with lower-income households living on tight budgets likely to use money not otherwise spent on gas to buy groceries, clothing and other staples.

On Monday, the average U.S. price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline was $2.77, according to AAA, which projects that prices could drop by an additional 10 to 20 cents.
(The Washington Post)
Big American companies are better off, too. Every penny the price of jet fuel declines means savings of $40 million for Delta Air Lines, the company’s chief executive said in a recent CBS interview.

“Despite the impressive recent gains in natural gas and crude oil production, the U.S. still is a net importer of energy,” William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said Monday at Bernard Baruch College. “As a result, falling energy prices are beneficial for our economy and should be a strong spur to consumer spending.”
Although falling oil prices lower inflation, the Federal Reserve tends to view that as a fleeting effect that would not alter its underlying judgments about policy. Nonetheless, Dudley said, “the slump in oil prices may also help to persuade” the European and Japanese central banks to implement further monetary easing as prices remain subdued.

The consequences of the decline in oil prices are also evident in politics and pocketbooks.

At current prices, the annual revenue of OPEC members would shrink by $590 billion, money that will instead stay within the borders of the world’s biggest oil importers, led by the United States, China and Japan.

The size of the global economy will “easily be between 0.5 percent and 1.0 percent higher as a result of the decline in oil prices,” wrote Andrew Kenningham, senior global economist for London-based Capital Economics.

The 40 percent drop in the price of the international benchmark Brent-grade crude oil over the past five months will reduce annual revenue to oil producers worldwide by a whopping $1.5 trillion.

“Those losses are staggering,” Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research, wrote to investors Monday.

The losers include Russia, where the value of the ruble has been crumbling, inflation has crept up to more than an 8 percent rate and oil prices have done more to hurt the economy than Western sanctions.

In Iran, whose economy and government budget rely heavily on oil sales, low prices could intensify the effect of sanctions that have curbed the country’s oil exports in an effort to pressure the regime into reaching a diplomatic accord on its nuclear program.

The coming climate onslaught: President Obama readies a sweeping list of executive actions.

The coming climate onslaught

President Obama readies a sweeping list of executive actions.

US President Barack Obama reaches for a pen. | Getty
 
The Obama administration is set to roll out a series of climate and pollution measures that rivals any president’s environmental actions since George H.W. Bush signed a rewrite of the Clean Air Act in 1990 — a reality check for Republicans who think last week’s election gave them a mandate to end what they call the White House’s “War on Coal.”

Tied to court-ordered deadlines, legal mandates and international climate talks, the efforts scheduled for the next two months show that President Barack Obama is prepared to spend the remainder of his term unleashing sweeping executive actions to combat global warming. And incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will have few options for stopping the onslaught, though Republicans may be able to slow pieces of it.

The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time; a final rule Dec. 19 for clamping down on disposal of power plants’ toxic coal ash; the Jan. 1 start date for a long-debated rule prohibiting states from polluting the air of their downwind neighbors; and a Jan. 8 deadline for issuing a final rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. That last rule is a centerpiece of Obama’s most ambitious environmental effort, the big plan for combating climate change that he announced at Georgetown University in June 2013.

On top of all that, the administration is expected in the coming weeks to pledge millions of dollars — and possibly billions — to help poor countries deal with the effects of climate change.

The administration was committed to all these deadlines many months ago, in some cases under court order, after postponing many of the actions until after the 2012 or 2014 elections. Now that Obama is almost out of time, they’re coming all at once.

On deck are even more climate actions that will stretch well into 2015. In June, EPA is due to put out a final version of its rule for cutting greenhouse gases from the nation’s existing power plants — the linchpin of Obama’s entire climate effort.

“In a world that was turned upside down on Election Day, two things are certain,” said Heather Zichal, who served as Obama’s top climate change adviser until 2013. “One: Corporate polluters and their allies in Congress will continue to fight against progress on the broader climate agenda. Two: The president is and will remain 100 percent committed to his climate action plan and he’ll fight to protect it.”

The kicker for Republicans eager to stomp all over the president’s agenda: Congress has little immediate recourse, despite McConnell’s pledges to use “the spending process” to rein in EPA. With so much action rolling through the pipeline, Republicans will have to choose their battles carefully if they want to make headway while proving they can govern.

In an interview after Election Day, McConnell acknowledged that stopping Obama will be difficult, given the president’s veto power. McConnell has also promised a return to regular order, and Republicans probably won’t want to repeat last year’s government shutdown in hopes of forcing the president’s hand.

“I think that actually preventing EPA from moving forward on the climate change regs will be a challenge,” said industry attorney Jeff Holmstead, who headed the agency’s air office during the George W. Bush administration.

If Congress tries to defang “high profile” regulations like those on carbon emissions, “we would expect the president to veto,” said Cal Dooley, a former Democratic member of Congress who heads the chemical industry’s trade association. “And I don’t expect that you’ll have a two-thirds vote in the Senate to override.”

Greens are counting on Obama to hold the line, especially on climate change.

“We are very confident that he will continue to take the common sense steps necessary to make this strong plan a reality,” League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said in an email. “That may not please the climate change deniers, but it is the right thing to do for our health, our economy, and our security.”

On the other hand, a GOP-led Congress could pass agency-specific spending bills with riders that undercut rules that seem less important to Obama. Some Republicans think he might swallow an attack on the ozone rule, for example.

Christine Todd Whitman, who served as George W. Bush’s first EPA administrator, said the Republicans’ new Senate leaders will at least try to hobble the agency.

“It’s going to get harder for EPA,” she said. “With Jim Inhofe as chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I think what they’re going to do is starve the agency.”

EPA is not the only agency pushing new rules, however. The Interior Department is also expected to release a long-delayed draft regulation in the spring that tightens limits on mountaintop-removal coal mining.

And Obama’s negotiators are working on plans for an international global warming agreement, set to be signed in Paris at the end of 2015, that would require the U.S. and other nations to slash greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.

The U.S. is also expected to announce in the coming weeks how much money it will contribute to an international fund for helping poor countries deal with the effects of global warming. Developed countries have pledged to raise $100 billion a year from government and private sources for that cause by 2020, with some of the money going to the fund. But the prospect of handing billions of dollars in climate aid to the developing world is not going to win much applause from Republicans, who could block the money through the appropriations process.

The U.S. will probably announce its pledge before or during a Nov. 20 meeting in Berlin.

“I think this will be one of the more challenging outcomes of the elections in terms of implementing the administration’s climate plan,” said Heather Coleman, climate change policy manager at Oxfam America.

The administration had previously postponed many of the upcoming regulatory actions, most notoriously with the surprise September 2011 decision to squelch EPA’s proposal to lower its smog limits. That decision blindsided both EPA leaders and environmentalists, and was widely regarded as an effort to defuse a major regulatory controversy before Obama had to run for reelection.

Similarly, EPA issued a proposed rule on coal ash in 2010, but sat on it for nearly four years until a federal court imposed a deadline for this December.

Greens are counting on Obama to hold the line, especially on climate change. | M. Scott Mahaskey

All the glare focusing on Obama’s big climate rules means that other items on his environmental agenda are getting less public attention than they once did. That could aid Republicans’ push to weaken some of regulations through negotiations with the White House and EPA, perhaps with deals to delay rules rather than repeal them outright. But that would depend on McConnell keeping the House from insisting on hardcore anti-EPA bills that would be surefire veto bait.

The word from the Hill “is that McConnell really is interested in trying to show that Republicans can get things done, so I think they’re going to try to come up with some narrow bills where the President could sign,” Holmstead said.

Among other possibilities, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) hopes to bring up legislation that would shift authority away from EPA on regulating coal ash ponds. Given the agency’s previous reluctance to deal with coal ash at all, the White House might not fight him too hard.

Efforts to tighten ozone regulations are clearly not a top White House priority either, given Obama’s efforts to punt the rule in 2011. But defying the court deadline to finish the rule — “that’s where it’s going to take congressional action,” Dooley said. The manufacturing industry broadly opposes tightening the ozone standards, which it says could make permits more difficult and expensive to obtain.

Former Sen. Tim Wirth, a Democrat who served as the Clinton administration’s top international climate negotiator, thinks Obama will push through his main agenda regardless of what Republicans come up with.

“He’ll just do what he’s going to do anyway,” Wirth said.

Young Hispanics are turning sharply against President Obama. Millennials do not trust either party

Millennials Bolt Obama for GOP in Midterms

Long term, the future American electorate isn’t sold on either party.

(Harvard Model Congress)

October 29, 2014 In a stunning turnaround, likely voters in the so-called millennial generation prefer a Republican-led Congress after next week’s elections, and young Hispanics are turning sharply against President Obama.

A new national poll of 18-to-29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics shows that young Americans are leaving the new Democratic coalition that twice elected Obama. The news is little better for the GOP: These voters, who more than any other voting bloc represent the future of the American electorate, generally hold Republicans in the lowest regard.

The long-view IOP findings suggest that neither party is poised to win the largest generation in U.S. history—a pragmatic, demanding, relatively nonideological electorate raised in an age of terrorism, war, and government dysfunction.

“Millennials could be a critical swing vote,” said IOP Director Maggie Williams, projecting the latest results on future elections. “Candidates for office: Ignore millennial voters at your peril.” Williams is a Democrat and a former adviser to Hillary Clinton.

In the short term, the news is worse for Democrats than Republicans.

  • Millennials who told the IOP they will “definitely be voting” Tuesday favored Republicans over Democrats, 51 percent to 47 percent. That is a reversal of September 2010 results, when the IOP found Democrats favored over Republicans among young likely voters, 55 percent to 43 percent.
  • Obama’s job-approval rating among millennials decreased from 47 percent in April to 43 percent, his second-lowest rating in the IOP surveys. Among young Americans most likely to vote, his job-approval rating is just 42 percent.
  • Obama’s job approval is below 40 percent on several issues, including the economy, health care, the federal budget deficit, and foreign policy. Nearly six of 10 young Americans disapprove of Obamacare.
  • Among the one in four millennial voters who say they definitely will vote Tuesday, Republican-leaning constituencies are significantly more enthusiastic about the election than Democrats.
  • Just 49 percent of young Hispanics approve of Obama’s job performance, the lowest since IOP began tracking in 2009. That’s a big drop from six months ago, when his rating among young Hispanics was 60 percent, and five years ago, when 81 percent of Hispanic millennials approved of Obama’s performance. Only 17 percent of Hispanic youth plan to vote Tuesday, far smaller than the non-Hispanic percentages and likely a reflection of frustration over stalled immigration reform.

Disclosure: I’m a member of the IOP’s senior advisory committee, a position that gives me an appreciation for the 26 millennial surveys produced since 2000. The latest KnowledgePanel survey, conducted with the Government and Academic research team of GfK, involved 2,029 18-to-29-year-old U.S. citizens between Sept. 26 and Oct. 9.

John Della Volpe, director of the IOP surveys, said the sweep of the work convinces him that Democrats and Republicans are losing the next generation. “Both parties should reintroduce themselves to young voters, empower them, and seek their participation in the upcoming 2016 campaign and beyond,” he said.

For instance, millennials hate government gridlock. Asked on “whom do you place the most blame regarding the political gridlock in Washington,” a whopping 56 percent said, “All of them.”

Congressional Republicans were blamed by 22 percent, compared with 13 percent who blamed Obama and just 5 percent who blamed Democrats in Congress.

While the GOP holds the upper hand Tuesday among likely young voters, millennials overall are more inclined to approve of Democrats in Congress than Republicans, 35 percent to 23 percent.

Less than 10 percent of millennials identify themselves as tea-party supporters. Millennials narrowly favor Democrats over Republicans to handle the economy, immigration, foreign policy, race relations, and even health care.

Young voters traditionally split between the two major parties, as they did in 2000 and 2002. Two wars and Hurricane Katrina under an unpopular President George W. Bush drove millennials to Obama’s promise of change and can-do bipartisanship. He didn’t live up to his hype, and by2013, many young voters were walking away from Obama and Democrats amid revelations about the administration’s domestic spying programs and the botched launch of Obamacare.

Poll: Obama approval drops to 43%

CBS NEWS/ September 25, 2013, 6:30 PM

Ghost blog insert

Poll: Obama approval drops to 43%

By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus

President Obama’s job approval rating is just 43 percent now, down slightly fromearlier this month and the lowest since March 2012. Forty-nine percent disapprove, the highest it has been in two years.

His approval rating among women has dropped since earlier in September, from 49 percent to 43 percent now.

Positive assessments of the president’s handling of the economy has also dropped five points in the last two weeks, to 41 percent now. Just 40 percent approve of his handling of foreign policy, while 49 percent disapprove – the highest disapproval he has ever received on this measure.

This poll finds an uptick in evaluations of President Obama’s handling of the situation in Syria since the announcement of a plan to eradicate Syria’s chemical weapons; still, a majority disapproves of that as well.

Personal evaluations of the president are also down. Thirty percent say he cares a lot about people like themselves – the lowest level measured since he took office.

Despite the other setbacks for the president in this poll, a majority of Americans (58 percent) see him as a strong leader; those views have remained consistent for a few years, but are substantially lower than in the early years of his presidency.

Congress and the President: Strengths and Weaknesses

In his dealings with Congress in general and on key issues, the president fares better. He receives credit from about half of Americans for reaching across the aisle and trying to work with Republicans in Congress – but that represents a drop from 60 percent in January 2012.

However, far fewer Americans see Republicans in Congress reciprocating. Just 23 percent say they are trying to work with the president, and 70 percent say they are not.

And on some key issues, the President holds an advantage over the Republicans in Congress; more say they trust him to handle the economy (47-33 percent), health care (45-40 percent) and the budget deficit (44-38 percent).

Also, the policies of the Republicans in Congress are widely viewed as favoring the interests of the rich (65 percent), while a quarter of Americans say the same for those of the Obama administration. A quarter also says the administration’s policies favor the middle class.

Views of Congress

Most Americans disapprove of the job both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are doing overall, but Republicans receive more criticism. Just 21 percent now approve, down from 25 percent over the summer. Approval ratings for the Democrats in Congress are also down by five points, to 31 percent.

After an uptick earlier this month, Congress’ job approval rating is about where it has been for the last few years – just 14 percent approve, and four in five disapprove.

Reducing the Deficit

Most Americans continue to seek a balanced approach to deficit reduction – both through tax increases and spending cuts. Sixty percent advocate a combined solution, compared to the 33 percent who think the deficit should be reduced by cuts in spending alone. Just 4 percent think taxes should be raised without a cut in spending.

Most Republicans (53 percent) want the deficit reduced with spending cuts alone, while most Democrats (77 percent) and independents (58 percent) want a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

Respondents were asked to choose what to cut from the largest items in the federal budget, and more Americans are far more willing to cut government spending in the military (49 percent), over Medicare (20 percent) or Social Security (14 percent). Cutting military spending is the top choice of Democrats (62 percent) and independents (50 percent), while Republicans slightly favor cuts in Medicare (33 percent) to cuts in the military (28 percent).

The Economy

As they have for over five years, Americans pick the economy and jobs as the most important problem facing the country today, far ahead of health care and the budget deficit.

Most Americans continue to have a negative view of the condition of the national economy. Nearly two thirds say the economy is bad, including nearly one in four who says it is very bad.

Twenty-nine percent of Americans think the economy is getting better, though nearly as many – 27 percent – think it is getting worse. Forty-four percent think it is about the same.

Direction of the Country

Amidst a struggling economy and the impending possibility of a government shutdown, the percentage of Americans who think the country is headed in the wrong direction has risen. Just 29 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction – down six points since July – while the percentage who says it is off on the wrong track has risen six points, from 60 percent in July to 66 percent today. The percentage who says the country is off on the wrong track is now the highest it has been in over a year.

Views of the Affordable Care Act are reflected in views on the direction of the country as a whole. While 54 percent of those who approve of the 2010 health care law think the country is headed in the right direction, an overwhelming 86 percent of those who disapprove of that law think the country is headed off on the wrong track.

The 2008 Bailout

Next week marks five years since the federal government “bailout” of the financial industry – formally, the Troubled Asset Relief Program – was passed amid the 2008 financial collapse. Looking back on it now, a majority of Americans (59 percent) still disapproves of government money having been used to rescue banks and financial firms.

At the time, Americans were also opposed; just three in 10 in an early-October 2008 poll approved of the relief package after it was passed. Americans doubted it would be effective, though many economists have called it necessary under the circumstances.

The measures were passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush. Today’s Republicans and tea party supporters, in particular, disapprove in retrospect, while Democrats are more mixed.

Looking back on 2008, Americans widely believe (79 percent) that more bankers and financial executives should have been prosecuted following the collapse.

The 2008 crisis wasn’t the first in U.S. history, and Americans expect there will be yet another banking crisis someday: almost eight in 10 think this is likely.

Today, Americans voice mixed confidence in another key economic institution, the Federal Reserve, and its ability to promote growth. Just under one-third express confidence in it, 38 percent have not much or no confidence, and another three in 10 don’t know enough about it to say.

____________________________________________________

This poll was conducted by telephone from September 19-23, 2013 among 1,014 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News/The New York Times by Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

James Woods on Obama: He’s the ‘gift from hell’

James Woods on Obama: He’s the ‘gift from hell’

By Cheryl K. Chumley

The Washington Times

Thursday, September 12, 2013

  • James Woods copy

It’s a safe bet there’s no love lost between Hollywood actor James Woods and President Obama — the former has taken to Twitter several times over the last few months to trash the policies and politics of the latter.

The latest came this week, in response to a report from British press that revealed the National Security Agency commonly provides Israel with intelligence data — without first stripping out private and personal information on American citizens. The Guardian in London reported the item, the latest in its coverage of document leaks from Edward Snowden.

Mr. Woods unleashed his views of the matter — and of Mr. Obama’s role in allowing the practice to occur — on Twitter.

He wrote: “Report: Data on Americans shared with Israel … Obama: the gift from hell that keeps on giving.”

This is hardly the first unfavorable rating Mr. Woods has posted on his Twitter account about Mr. Obama. In July, the actor ranted over Mr. Obama’s insertion of his personal opinion into the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin trial, characterizing it as fueling racial tensions and wondering why the president would speak his mind about the death of the 17-year-old Trayvon but not worry so much about American’s soldiers and wounded warriors.

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SPY ON EACH OTHER: Linchpin for Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, isn’t likely to work, experts say.

Get them to spy on each other: Linchpin for Obama’s plan to predict future leakers unproven, isn’t likely to work, experts say

Insider Threats
By Jonathan S. Landay and Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — In an initiative aimed at rooting out future leakers and other security violators, President Barack Obama has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues based on behavioral profiling techniques that are not scientifically proven to work, according to experts and government documents.

The techniques are a key pillar of the Insider Threat Program, an unprecedented government-wide crackdown under which millions of federal bureaucrats and contractors must watch out for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers. Those who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.

Obama mandated the program in an October 2011 executive order after Army Pfc. Bradley Manning downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents from a classified computer network and gave them to WikiLeaks, the anti-government secrecy group. The order covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.

Under the program, which is being implemented with little public attention, security investigations can be launched when government employees showing “indicators of insider threat behavior” are reported by co-workers, according to previously undisclosed administration documents obtained by McClatchy. Investigations also can be triggered when “suspicious user behavior” is detected by computer network monitoring and reported to “insider threat personnel.”

Federal employees and contractors are asked to pay particular attention to the lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors – like financial troubles, odd working hours or unexplained travel – of co-workers as a way to predict whether they might do “harm to the United States.” Managers of special insider threat offices will have “regular, timely, and, if possible, electronic, access” to employees’ personnel, payroll, disciplinary and “personal contact” files, as well as records of their use of classified and unclassified computer networks, polygraph results, travel reports and financial disclosure forms.

Over the years, numerous studies of public and private workers who’ve been caught spying, leaking classified information, stealing corporate secrets or engaging in sabotage have identified psychological profiles that could offer clues to possible threats. Administration officials want government workers trained to look for such indicators and report them so the next violation can be stopped before it happens.

“In past espionage cases, we find people saw things that may have helped identify a spy, but never reported it,” said Gene Barlow, a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, which oversees government efforts to detect threats like spies and computer hackers and is helping implement the Insider Threat Program. “That is why the awareness effort of the program is to teach people not only what types of activity to report, but how to report it and why it is so important to report it.”

But even the government’s top scientific advisers have questioned these techniques. Those experts say that trying to predict future acts through behavioral monitoring is unproven and could result in illegal ethnic and racial profiling and privacy violations.

“There is no consensus in the relevant scientific community nor on the committee regarding whether any behavioral surveillance or physiological monitoring techniques are ready for use at all,” concluded a 2008 National Research Council report on detecting terrorists.

TSA officers watch for suspicious behavior at airports (Carey Wagner/Sun Sentinel/MCT)

“Doing something similar about predicting future leakers seems even more speculative,” Stephen Fienberg, a professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a member of the committee that wrote the report, told McClatchy.

The emphasis on individual lifestyles, attitudes and behaviors comes at a time when growing numbers of Americans must submit to extensive background checks, polygraph tests and security investigations to be hired or to keep government or federal contracting jobs. The U.S. government is one of the world’s largest employers, overseeing an ever-expanding ocean of information.

While the Insider Threat Program mandates that the nearly 5 million federal workers and contractors with clearances undergo training in recognizing suspicious behavior indicators, it allows individual departments and agencies to extend the requirement to their entire workforces, something the Army already has done.

Training should address “current and potential threats in the work and personal environment” and focus on “the importance of detecting potential insider threats by cleared employees and reporting suspected activity to insider threat personnel and other designated officials,” says one of the documents obtained by McClatchy.

The White House, the Justice Department, the Peace Corps and the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Education refused to answer questions about the program’s implementation. Instead, they issued virtually identical email statements directing inquiries to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, declined to comment or didn’t respond.

Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in her statement that the Insider Threat Program includes extra safeguards for “civil rights, civil liberties and privacy,” but she didn’t elaborate. Manning’s leaks to WikiLeaks, she added, showed that at the time protections of classified materials were “inadequate and put our nation’s security at risk.”

 

Even so, the new effort failed to prevent former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden from taking top-secret documents detailing the agency’s domestic and international communications monitoring programs and leaking them to The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers.

The initiative goes beyond classified information leaks. It includes as insider threats “damage to the United States through espionage, terrorism, unauthorized disclosure of national security information or through the loss or degradation of departmental resources or capabilities,” according to a document setting “Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs.”

McClatchy obtained a copy of the document, which was produced by an Insider Threat Task Force that was set up under Obama’s order and is headed by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Attorney General Eric Holder. McClatchy also obtained the group’s final policy guidance. The White House, the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined requests for both documents, neither of which is classified.

Although agencies and departments are still setting up their programs, some employees already are being urged to watch co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

When asked about the ineffectiveness of behavior profiling, Barlow said the policy “does not mandate” that employees report behavior indicators.

“It simply educates employees about basic activities or behavior that might suggest a person is up to improper activity,” he said.

“These do not require special talents. If you see someone reading classified documents they should not be reading, especially if this happens multiple times and the person appears nervous that you saw him, that is activity that is suspicious and should be reported,” Barlow said. “The insider threat team then looks at the surrounding facts and draws the conclusions about the activity.”

Departments and agencies, however, are given leeway to go beyond the White House’s basic requirements, prompting the Defense Department in its strategy to mandate that workers with clearances “must recognize the potential harm caused by unauthorized disclosures and be aware of the penalties they could face.” It equates unauthorized disclosures of classified information to “aiding the enemies of the United States.”

All departments and agencies involved in the program must closely track their employees’ online activities. The information gathered by monitoring, the administration documents say, “could be used against them in criminal, security, or administrative proceedings.” Experts who research such efforts say suspicious behaviors include accessing information that someone doesn’t need or isn’t authorized to see or downloading materials onto removable storage devices like thumb drives when such devices are restricted or prohibited.

“If you normally print 20 documents a week, well, what happens if the next week or the following week you have to print 50 documents or 100 documents? That could be at variance from your normal activity that could be identified and might be investigated,” said Randy Trzeciak, acting manager of the Computer Emergency Response Team Insider Threat Center at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute.

“We’ve come up with patterns that we believe organizations might be able to consider when determining when someone might be progressing down the path to harm the organization,” said Trzeciak, whose organization has analyzed more than 800 cases and works with the government and private sector on cyber security.

But research and other programs that rely on profiling show it remains unproven, could make employees more resistant to reporting violations and might lead to spurious allegations.

The Pentagon, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have spent tens of millions of dollars on an array of research projects. Yet after several decades, they still haven’t developed a list of behaviors they can use to definitively identify the tiny fraction of workers who might some day violate national security laws.

“We are back to the needle-in-a-haystack problem,” said Fienberg, the Carnegie Mellon professor.

“We have not found any silver bullets,” said Deana Caputo, the lead behavioral scientist at MITRE Corp., a nonprofit company working on insider threat efforts for U.S. defense, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. “We don’t have actually any really good profiles or pictures of a bad guy, a good guy gone bad or even the bad guy walking in to do bad things from the very beginning.”

Different agencies and departments have different lists of behavior indicators. Most have adopted the traditional red flags for espionage. They include financial stress, disregard for security practices, unexplained foreign travel, unusual work hours and unexplained or sudden wealth.

But agencies and their consultants have added their own indicators.

For instance, an FBI insider threat detection guide warns private security personnel and managers to watch for “a desire to help the ‘underdog’ or a particular cause,” a “James Bond Wannabe” and a “divided loyalty: allegiance to another person or company or to a country besides the United States.”

A report by the Deloitte consulting firm identifies “several key trends that are making all organizations particularly susceptible to insider threat today.” These trends include an increasingly disgruntled, post-Great Recession workforce and the entry of younger, “Gen Y” employees who were “raised on the Internet” and are “highly involved in social networking.”

 

Some government programs that have embraced behavioral indicators have been condemned as failures. Perhaps the most heavily criticized is the Transportation Security Administration’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques, or SPOT, program.

The program, which has cost $878 million and employs 2,800 people, uses “behavior detection officers” to identify potential terrorists by scrutinizing airline passengers for signs of “stress, fear or deception.”

DHS’ inspector general excoriated the program, saying in a May 2013 report, “TSA cannot ensure that passengers at United States airports are screened objectively, show that the program is cost-effective or reasonably justify the program’s expansion.”

Interviews and internal complaints obtained by The New York Times quoted TSA officers as saying SPOT has led to ethnic and racial profiling by emphasizing certain profiles. They include Middle Easterners, Hispanics traveling to Miami and African-Americans wearing baseball caps backward.

Another problem with having employees report co-workers’ suspicious behaviors: They aren’t sure which ones represent security threats.

“Employees in the field are not averse to reporting genuine security infractions. In fact, under appropriate conditions they are quite willing to act as eyes and ears for the government,” said a 2005 study by the Pentagon’s Defense Personnel Security Research Center. “They are simply confused about precisely what is important enough to report. Many government workers anguish over reporting gray-area behaviors.”

Even so, the Pentagon is forging ahead with training Defense Department and contractor managers and security officials to set up insider threat offices, with one company emphasizing how its course is designed for novices.

“The Establishing an Insider Threat Program for Your Organization Course will take no more than 90 minutes to complete,” says the proposal.

Officials with the Army, the only government department contacted by McClatchy that agreed to discuss the issue, acknowledged that identifying potential insider threats is more complicated than relying on a list of behaviors.

 

“What we really point out is if you’re in doubt, report, because that’s what the investigative personnel are there to do, is to get the bottom of ‘is this just noise or is this something that is really going on?’” said Larry Gillis, a senior Army counterintelligence and security official.

The Army implemented a tough program a year before Obama’s executive order after Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S.-born Muslim, allegedly killed 13 people in a 2009 rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan, who has not gone on trial, has said he was defending the Afghan Taliban.

Gillis said the Army didn’t want a program that would “get people to snitch on each other,” nor did it want to encourage stereotyping.

“We don’t have the luxury to make up reasons to throw soldiers out,” Gillis said. “It’s a big deal to remove a soldier from service over some minor issue. We don’t want to ruin a career over some false accusation.”

But some current and former U.S. officials and experts worry that Obama’s Insider Threat Program could lead to false or retaliatory accusations across the entire government, in part because security officials are granted access to information outside their usual purview.

These current and former U.S. officials and experts also ridiculed as overly zealous and simplistic the idea of using reports of suspicious behavior to predict potential insider threats. It takes years for professional spy-hunters to learn their craft, and relying on the observations of inexperienced people could lead to baseless and discriminatory investigations, they said.

“Anyone is an amateur looking at behavior here,” said Thomas Fingar, a former State Department intelligence chief who chaired the National Intelligence Council, which prepares top-secret intelligence analyses for the president, from 2005 to 2008.

Co-workers, Fingar said, should “be attentive” to colleagues’ personal problems in order to refer them to counseling, not to report them as potential security violators. “It’s simply because they are colleagues, fellow human beings,” he said.

Eric Feldman, a former inspector general of the National Reconnaissance Office, the super-secret agency that oversees U.S. spy satellites, expressed concern that relying on workers to report colleagues’ suspicious behaviors to security officials could create “a repressive kind of culture.”

“The answer to it is not to have a Stasi-like response,” said Feldman, referring to the feared secret police of communist East Germany. “You’ve removed that firewall between employees seeking help and the threat that any employee who seeks help could be immediately retaliated against by this insider threat office.”