Wednesday, January 23, 2013

STRATFOR: An Increasingly Unstable Iraq

Rand Paul: House leaders ‘retreated’ on debt ceiling - Alexander Burns -

Rand Paul: House leaders ‘retreated’ on debt ceiling - Alexander Burns -

State Sen. Glenn Grothman WGAA Rally

h/t: Irate, Tireless Minority

Interactions with Red Sox players a key part of Terry Francona book with Dan Shaughnessy

Interactions with Red Sox players a key part of Terry Francona book with Dan Shaughnessy

GOA: Stop the U.S. Senate from greasing the skids for gun confiscation

Gun Owners of America

Stop the U.S. Senate from greasing
the skids for gun confiscation
Reid & McConnell are reportedly
about to change the Senate rules
It’s probably a harbinger of sell-outs to come. But Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell is apparently about to conclude an agreement with Majority Leader Harry Reid which would sell out pro-gunners and decimate minority rights under the Senate rules.

This change could occur as early as Wednesday. If enacted, it could handcuff pro-gun forces and keep them from defeating the most radical initiatives aimed at restricting our Second Amendment rights.
The first of two changes would allow Harry Reid -– and only Harry Reid –- to circumvent the hurdles that the minority could use to slow down a controversial gun control bill. 
As you may remember from the fight over the anti-gun ObamaCare bill, the filibuster of the “motion to proceed” is the last point where pro-gunners can delay a bill before Harry Reid can bribe Senators and buy votes with deals like the infamous Cornhusker Kickback.

If Reid follows this procedure, McConnell could offer two “germane” amendments on behalf of Republicans. But given the willingness of Democrats to destroy the Senate rules by brute force, you can expect them to drastically limit what amendments would be considered “germane,” thus restricting the ability of the minority to effectively filibuster an anti-gun bill.

The second Reid-McConnell amendment would make it virtually impossible to stop a bill from going to House-Senate conference committee.

Currently, if pro-gunners suspect that Democrats intend to take a tiny bill and write comprehensive gun control in a House-Senate conference, they can stop the bill from going to conference and require that it be bounced back-and-forth in an amendable form -- what is known as ping-ponging -- between the two houses. 
But this Reid-McConnell change would allow Reid to force a conference to prevent the minority from, once again, stopping gun control legislation from being written in a conference committee and crammed down Senators’ throats on a take-it-or-leave it basis.
The bottom line? Given that Harry Reid has consistently abused the Senate rules and locked Republicans out of the amendment process, why should McConnell reward him with this massive expansion of his powers? 
And what does this say about the likelihood that McConnell will show any courage on the gun issue when it comes before the U.S. Senate?
The President and his allies in the Congress want to impose Universal Background Checks, among other things, upon every gun purchaser in America. This would finally give gun grabbers the information they need to identify and register every gun buyer (whether the purchase was completed as a private sale or through a gun dealer).
Given that the Democrats in New York are trying to CONFISCATE guns from law-abiding gun owners, gun owners should rise with ONE VOICE in opposing any legislation or rules changes that would allow federal bureaucrats to register gun owners.
And more to the point, gun owners need to contact their Senators immediately and demand that they leave the Senate rules alone!
At the rate that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is going -- if he concludes a deal limiting the use of the filibuster -- it would not be surprising if a number of primary opponents emerge to challenge him.

ACTION: Click here to contact your U.S. Senators immediately. While you can contact them here through CapWiz, we would strongly encourage you to call your Senators and DEMAND that they leave the filibuster alone!
You can reach them by calling the U.S. Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121. And, please call Sen. Mitch McConnell (202-224-2541) and tell him to make NO DEALS to limit the use of the filibuster.

INS SARYU Joins Indian Navy Fleet Naval Today

INS SARYU Joins Indian Navy Fleet Naval Today

STRATFOR Geopolitical Weekly: United Kingdom Moves Away from the European Project

"United Kingdom Moves Away from the European Project is republished with permission of Stratfor."
By Adriano Bosoni
British Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a speech in London on Jan. 23, during which he will discuss the future of the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union. Excerpts leaked to the media suggest that harsh EU criticism will figure prominently in the speech, a suggestion in keeping with Cameron's recent statements about the bloc. But more important, the excerpts signal an unprecedented policy departure: renegotiating the United Kingdom's role in the European Union. London has negotiated exemptions from some EU policies in the past, even gaining some concessions from Brussels in the process; this time, it is trying to become less integrated with the bloc altogether.

Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum after 2015 on the United Kingdom's role in Europe. He has also said he would reclaim powers London surrendered to the European Union. While they no doubt reflect similar anxieties across the Continent, such statements are anathema to the European project, and by making them, Cameron could be setting a precedent that could further undermine the European Union.

Cameron's Compromise

Cameron's strategy partly is a reaction to British domestic politics. There is a faction within the ruling Conservative Party that believes the country should abandon the European Union entirely. It was this faction that pressed Cameron to call a referendum on the United Kingdom's EU membership. Some party members also fear that the United Kingdom Independence Party, the country's traditionally euroskeptic party, is gaining ground in the country.

Such fears may be well founded. According to various opinion polls, roughly 8-14 percent of the country supports the United Kingdom Independence Party, even though it received only 3.1 percent of the popular vote in the 2010 elections. These levels of support make the party a serious contender with the Liberal Democrats as the United Kingdom's third-largest party (after the Labour Party and the Conservative Party). Some polls show that the United Kingdom Independence Party already is the third-most popular party, while others suggest it has poached members from the Conservative Party, a worrying trend ahead of elections for the European Parliament in 2014 and general elections in 2015.

Its growing popularity can be attributed to other factors. Beyond its anti-EU rhetoric, the United Kingdom Independence Party is gaining strength as an anti-establishment voice in the country, supported by those disappointed with mainstream British parties. Similar situations are developing elsewhere in Europe, where the ongoing crisis has weakened the traditional political elite.

The debate over the United Kingdom's role in the European Union is also causing friction with the Conservatives' junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats. Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has repeatedly criticized the Conservatives' push for a referendum, arguing that the proposal is creating uncertainty in the country and by extension threatening economic growth and job creation. Several of the country's top businessmen share this belief. On Jan. 9, Virgin Group's Richard Branson, London Stock Exchange head Chris Gibson-Smith and eight other business leaders published a letter in the Financial Times criticizing Cameron's plan to renegotiate EU membership terms.

British citizens likewise are conflicted on the subject. In general, polls have shown that a slight majority of Britons favor leaving the European Union, but recent surveys found that opinion was evenly split. Conservative Party voters particularly support an EU withdrawal.

Given the issue's sensitivity, Cameron has sought to please everyone. He said there would be a referendum, but it would entail the United Kingdom's position in the European Union, not British membership. Despite his criticisms of the bloc, Cameron has said he does not want to leave the European Union outright; rather, he wants to repatriate from Brussels as many powers as possible. Cameron believes the United Kingdom still needs direct access to Europe's common market but that London should regain power regarding such issues as employment legislation and social and judicial affairs. Most important, the referendum would take place after the general elections of 2015.

London's Costs of Membership

London also believes that the United Kingdom has surrendered too much of its national sovereignty to supranational EU institutions. The United Kingdom is a net contributor to the European Union, and London feels that the costs of membership exceed the benefits. The Common Agricultural Policy, which subsidizes agricultural sectors in continental Europe, does not really benefit the United Kingdom, and the Common Fisheries Policy has forced the United Kingdom to share its fishing waters with other EU member states.

Yet the United Kingdom is a strong defender of the single market. Roughly half of its exports end up in the European Union, and half of its imports come from the European Union. While the United States is the United Kingdom's single most important export destination, four of its five top export destinations are eurozone countries: Germany, the Netherlands, France and Ireland. Germany is also the source of about 12.6 percent of all British imports.

Some critics suggest that the United Kingdom could leave the European Union but remain a part of the European Economic Area, the trade agreement that includes non-EU members, such as Iceland and Norway. However, the country would still be required to make financial contributions to continental Europe and adapt its legal order to EU standards, but it would not have a vote in EU decisions. According to Cameron, the United Kingdom must be part of the common market and have a say in policymaking.

The issue points to the United Kingdom's grand strategy. Despite an alliance with the United States, the United Kingdom is essentially a European power, and it cannot afford to be excluded from Continental affairs. Throughout history, London's foremost concern has been the emergence of a single European power that could threaten the British Isles politically, economically or militarily. Maintaining the balance of power in the Continent -- especially one in which London has some degree of influence -- is a strategic imperative for the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom's Strategic Dilemma

The United Kingdom's push to renegotiate its status in the European Union threatens the European project. In the past, the bloc granted special concessions to the British, such as allowing them to keep the pound sterling during Maastricht Treaty negotiations. These concessions inspired other EU members to ask for similar treatment -- most notably Denmark, which also managed to opt out of the euro.

However, this is the first time that London has openly demanded the return to a previous stage in the process of European integration. At no other time has a country tried to dissociate itself from the bloc in this way. The decision not only challenges the Franco-German view of the European Union but also makes a compromise extremely difficult and risky between France and Germany and the United Kingdom.

Most important, Cameron is framing his proposals not in terms of national sovereignty but in terms of social well-being. In doing so, he acknowledges the social implications of the European crisis. Cameron has even said that the European Union currently is hurting its citizens more than it is helping them. According to leaked portions of his upcoming speech, he believes that there is a "growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf" and that the issues are "being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems."

The excerpts also cite Cameron as saying "people are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the Continent." This rhetoric could become highly attractive in Europe, where people from Germany to Finland believe that taxpayers' money is being used to bail out inefficient peripheral countries. And many Greek, Spanish and Portuguese citizens probably would sympathize with the notion that austerity is worsening their quality of life. Cameron's rhetoric suggests that he is positioning the United Kingdom to be the leader of a counternarrative that opposes Germany's view of the crisis.

But this strategy is not without risks for the United Kingdom. In recent years, the country's veto power in the European Union has been reduced substantially. With each reform of the European treaties, unanimous decisions were replaced by the use of qualified majority. Even in cases where unanimity is required, Berlin and Paris have managed to bypass London when making decisions. For example, Cameron refused to sign the fiscal compact treaty in 2011, but Germany and France decided to proceed with it, even if only 25 of the 27 EU members accepted it.

Moreover, the "enhanced cooperation mechanism," the system by which EU members can make decisions without the participation of other members, increasingly has been used to move forward with European projects. Currently, the EU's Financial Transaction Tax is being negotiated under this format. In recent times, London has been able only to achieve exemptions without real power to block decisions.

Meanwhile, the ongoing crisis has compelled the European Union to prioritize the 17 members of the eurozone over the rest of the bloc. This has created a two-speed Europe, where core EU members integrate even further as the others are neglected somewhat. London could try to become the leader of the non-eurozone countries, but these countries often have competing agendas, as evidenced by recent negotiations over the EU budget. In those negotiations, the United Kingdom was pushing for a smaller EU budget to ease its financial burden, but countries like Poland and Romania were interested in maintaining high agricultural subsidies and strong development aid.

The dilemma is best understood in the context of the United Kingdom's grand strategy. Unnecessary political isolation on the Continent is a real threat to London. The more the European Union focuses on the eurozone, the less influence the United Kingdom has on continental Europe. The eurozone currently stretches from Finland to Portugal, creating the type of unified, Continental entity that London fears.

For the British, this threat can be mitigated in several ways, the most important of which is its alliance with the United States. As long as London is the main military ally and a major economic partner of the world's only superpower, continental Europe cannot afford to ignore the United Kingdom. Moreover, London also represents a viable alternative to the German leadership of Europe, especially when France is weak and enmeshed in its own domestic problems. And even if the United Kingdom chooses to move away from mainland Europe, its political and economic influence will continue to be felt in the Continent.

The United Kingdom's grand strategy has long been characterized by balancing between Europe and the United States. Currently, London is not so much redefining that grand strategy as it is shifting its weight away from Europe without completely abandoning the Continent.

Read more: United Kingdom Moves Away from the European Project | Stratfor

GOA Alert: Will the U.S. Follow Germany's Example?

Gun Owners of America

Will the U.S. Follow Germany's Example?
The country that invented Nazism sets up national gun registry
Something very instructive just happened in Germany.
Germany just implemented "a vast registry that details every legal gun owner in the country, along with information about all of their firearms."
They did this, based on records that, in some cases, "were kept on index cards across what used to be 551 separate local registries."
Thus, with everyone's name already on an index card (read: 4473 forms) in what was effectively a "universal background check," it was a small step to a national gun registry.
Not surprisingly, "gun rights groups" in Germany raised no real opposition. "We are used to it," said one.
Now, in the words of The Washington Post:
If they are preparing a raid on a house, they can scout the address in the database to be better prepared for what weapons might lie within. Before the database, they could only guess at overall numbers, and finding the weapons registered to a certain address had been laborious.
Do we need any better indication of why "universal background checks" are the most insidious aspect of Barack Obama’s gun control?
We know that gun confiscation is the ultimate endgame for many of the gun grabbers on the Left. Consider just a few, recent well-known cases:
* "Confiscation could be an option," declared New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview (December 27, 2012).
* "We cannot have big guns out here," said Iowa Rep. Dan Muhlbauer. "Even if you have them, I think we need to start taking them." (Interview with the Iowa Daily Times Herald, December 19, 2012.)
* "No one is allowed to be armed. We're going to take all the guns," said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of the New Orleans police, right before several law-enforcement agencies began confiscating the firearms of lawful gun owners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (2005).
The task of confiscating guns is much easier when the government has a registration list. And that is the number one reason gun owners should oppose background checks, because they give federal bureaucrats the framework for a national registration system.
If Obama gets his way, we will be much further down road to giving the Andrew Cuomos of the world the registration lists they need.
Some liberal gun-grabbers are trying to paint it as "non-controversial." But this hideous provision requiring every American to get the permission of the government before exercising their Second Amendment rights must be stopped.
ACTION: Click here to contact your Senators and Representative. Insist that they oppose the national background check, which would set the framework for a national gun registry and confiscation.

Monday, January 21, 2013

RIA Novosti: Russian T-50 Fighter Jet Completes First Long-Range Flight

RIA NovostiRussian T-50 Fighter Jet Completes First Long-Range FlightRussian T-50 Fighter Jet Completes First Long-Range Flight

21:08 17/01/2013 Russia's prototype fifth-generation Sukhoi T-50 fighter jet has carried out its first long-range flight during the transfer from a manufacturing plant in Russia’s Far East to an assigned airfield near Moscow, deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Thursday.>>

STRATFOR: China's Expanding Maritime Claims

Army freezes hiring, cuts base ops, reduces training | Army & Land Forces News at DefenceTalk

Army freezes hiring, cuts base ops, reduces training | Army & Land Forces News at DefenceTalk

RIA Novosti: Russia Plans to Revive Shipbuilding on Black Sea Coast

RIA NovostiRussia Plans to Revive Shipbuilding on Black Sea CoastRussia Plans to Revive Shipbuilding on Black Sea Coast
21:24 18/01/2013 Russia is planning to construct shipbuilding and ship-repair facilities on the Black Sea coast to ensure proper maintenance of its civilian and military fleets in the region, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday.>>

The ouster of Mattis: Some follow-up details and a White House response | The Best Defense

The ouster of Mattis: Some follow-up details and a White House response | The Best Defense

Rand Paul: GOP must ‘evolve and adapt’ - Mackenzie Weinger -

Rand Paul: GOP must ‘evolve and adapt’ - Mackenzie Weinger -

Nine-hour battle grips Kabul - Afghanistan - Stripes

Nine-hour battle grips Kabul - Afghanistan - Stripes

Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk 1/21/13: Fiat Currency is NOT Wealth!

U.S. Navy Continues Operations to Free Grounded Mine Countermeasures Ship Naval Today

U.S. Navy Continues Operations to Free Grounded Mine Countermeasures Ship Naval Today

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker

E-update From the Desk of Governor Scott Walker
One of the most important duties I have serving as your Governor is to provide you directly with updates related to the operation of our state government. I also frequently provide updates on Facebook (Governor Scott Walker) and Twitter (@govwalker). Please feel free to share this update with your family, friends, and others who may be interested in state government operations.

Bold Vision and Bright Hope for the Future

This week, I delivered the 2013 State of the State Address in Madison and traveled to Hartford, Green Bay, Schofield, La Crosse, Superior, Wisconsin Rapids and Coloma to provide an update on the progress Wisconsin has made over the last year. You can watch a video of the address by clicking here. The full text of the address is below:
Speaker Vos, Speaker Pro Tem Kramer, President Ellis, Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Minority Leader Larson, Minority Leader Barca, members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Constitutional Officers, tribal leaders, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, members of the Legislature, most importantly, fellow citizens of the great state of Wisconsin, it is an honor to appear before you tonight.
Before we get started, I would like to introduce the First Lady of Wisconsin, my wife, Tonette. Also in the gallery are our sons, Matt and Alex, and my family.
Next to my wife is Major General Don Dunbar, our Adjutant General. I want to thank him and the more than 10,000 members of the Wisconsin National Guard.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are moving Wisconsin forward with bold vision and bright hope for the future.
Two years ago, when I first stood here as your new governor, Wisconsin was facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit, property taxes had gone up 27 percent over the previous decade, increasing every year, and the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.

Today, Wisconsin has a $342 million budget surplus, property taxes on a median valued home went down in each of the last two years, and the unemployment rate - well - it's down to 6.7 percent.

We’re turning things around. We’re heading in the right direction. We’re moving Wisconsin forward.

And unlike other states, we avoided significant tax increases, massive layoffs and cuts in programs, like Medicaid. Instead, we put in place long-term structural reforms that helped us balance state and local government budgets for years to come. What we did was think more about the next generation than we did about the next election—and it worked.

For the first time in our state's history, we set money aside in two consecutive years for the rainy day fund. Our bond rating is solid and our pension system is the only one in the country that is fully funded.
We made tough, but prudent, decisions to get our fiscal house in order. Today, unlike the federal government and many of our neighboring states, we have a surplus, which will allow us to invest in our priorities.
With the introduction of my proposed budget next month, I will lay out a clear plan for reducing the burden on hard-working families by lowering income taxes on the middle class. We want to continue to put more money in the hands of the hard-working taxpayers and small business owners in our state.
Unlike the message coming out of Washington, I believe that putting more money in the hands of the people—instead of the government—is good for the economy.
Helping the people of Wisconsin create more jobs is my number one priority.
During the three years before I took office, our state lost nearly 150,000 jobs. At the low point, unemployment topped 9 percent. Soon after taking office, I called the legislature into a special session on jobs and we enacted some of the most aggressive plans in the country.

Today, the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7 percent. New business ventures are up nearly 11 percent. And we changed the opinion of our employers—for the better. In 2010, a mere 10 percent of the employers surveyed said that our state was headed in the right direction. In 2012, 93 percent said Wisconsin was heading in the right direction.

Over the past two years, Wisconsin moved up 21 spots on Chief Executive Magazine's ranking of the best and worst states for business. CNBC moved us up to number 17 and Site Selection Magazine ranked our state as high as 13.
Employers feel good about our state. During the past year, Kohl’s Department Stores worked with us and announced the creation of 3,000 new jobs. Plexus in Neenah is adding 350 jobs and Alliance Laundry Systems in Ripon is adding another 270 jobs.
While big announcements like that are great, we are just as excited about companies like Nueske’s Meat Products in Wittenberg adding 21 jobs, Poclain Hydraulics in Sturtevant adding 50 jobs, and Premium Waters in Chippewa Falls adding 21 jobs. Small business owners, in particular, want certainty and we have dramatically improved the business climate in our state.
We’re turning things around. We’re heading in the right direction. We’re moving Wisconsin forward.
Still, there is much more work to be done in the coming year. Our top priority is helping the people of our state create more jobs. As you know, we have an ambitious goal: 250,000 jobs by 2015.
After all that we’ve gone through in Wisconsin over the past few years, some have suggested that this goal is too difficult to reach. With the protests and recalls combined with the slow recovery at the national level, the fiscal cliff, and ongoing worries about health care mandates coming out of Washington, they say there are plenty of reasons why it has been hard to create jobs.
But in Wisconsin, we don't make excuses... We get results.
With this in mind, we are going to double down and be even more aggressive with our efforts to improve the jobs climate in this state. That's what I heard during my listening sessions held around Wisconsin. People want us focused on things that will improve the economy and our way of life.
That's why I laid out five very clear priorities for the next two years: create jobs, develop the workforce, transform education, reform government, and invest in our infrastructure. And it’s also why I've asked the members of the legislature to stay focused on these same priorities—and not get distracted on other issues.
One of the best ways we can show the people of Wisconsin that their state government is focused on jobs is to pass a bill that streamlines the process for safe and environmentally sound mining. Start with the legislation that was approved in the Joint Finance Committee last session, include some reasonable modifications, and send me a bill to sign into law early this year.
A mine would be a lifeline to people in northwestern Wisconsin, where the unemployment rate in Iron County is the 2nd highest in the state at nearly 12 percent. But the benefits will be felt all across Wisconsin.
We have the potential for a billion and a half dollar investment here in our state that could lead to as many as 3,000 construction-related jobs and 2,800 long-term jobs. It's no wonder that I’ve heard from people in places like Clinton and Wausau, Green Bay and Prairie du Chien, Superior and Chippewa Falls, all who want us to pass this bill.
We need to get started on this project as soon as possible. Tonight, please join me in welcoming a number of people who really want to get to work.
Joining me are Josh Dennis, Larry Youngs, Cindy Lafortune, Karl Krall, Richard Galarno, Curt Lusua, Adam Kaseno, Steve Anderson, Harold Wickman, and Ryan Haffenbredl. These operating engineers are members of Local 139, who are looking for work.
Also joining us tonight are carpenters and millwrights from northern Wisconsin locals of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, welcome Dana Tonnelli, Bob Polencheck, Charlie Steed, Al Ida, Dan Gillespie, Pete Langreck, David Grottke, and Jim Berrens.
Together, these folks are holding up the flag of the great State of Wisconsin. On the right side of the seal is the image of a miner. In the upper right corner are the tools of a miner. And on the top of the seal is a badger, which comes from the nickname given to early settlers who were miners. If any state can move forward with a way to streamline the process for safe and environmentally sound mining, shouldn't it be the Badger State?
From the mining bill to mining for jobs… earlier this year, I spoke with Kerry Frank, CEO of Comply365. Her business was located in Illinois, but she was looking for a new headquarters, where they could expand and grow. Kerry told me she liked how we are running things here in Wisconsin and it was one of the big factors in her choice to move her company to Beloit. Even more exciting, since moving here in September, Kerry has hired seven more employees. Kerry, thanks for being here tonight, and thank you for being a partner in job creation.
Now, while recruiting employers from Illinois is almost as exciting as beating the Bears, most new jobs are going to come from new businesses created here or from small businesses growing in our state. We need to help them tap into the capital they need to make investments that will lead to more jobs.
During the coming year, I look forward to working with lawmakers in both parties on ways to improve the amount of investment capital available to help start-ups and other small businesses grow new jobs in our state.
In addition to access to capital, we want to help small businesses grow by lowering the cost of doing business in our state. In particular, we want to streamline the process, so what we do enforce is about common sense and not about bureaucratic red tape.
You may remember, last year, I called for state agencies to work with the reformed Small Business Regulatory Review Board to identify unnecessary, obsolete, and burdensome regulations.
In a survey, we asked employers what we can do to help them create jobs in the upcoming year and the most common answer was decrease the amount of state regulations. And they gave us plenty of feedback on rules to review.
Tonight, I am pleased to release this report, which identifies over 300 rule modifications in 218 administrative code chapters. Making these changes will make it easier to do business in the state, while maintaining the safety and health of our citizens.
Speaker Vos has also made this a priority and my administration looks forward to working with him and other members of the legislature to improve our state’s regulatory climate.
While our number one priority is helping people create jobs, our next priority is filling those jobs with qualified workers. One of the strengths of doing business in Wisconsin is the work ethic of our people.
Moving forward, we need enough skilled workers ready to fill jobs open today—as well as those that will be open tomorrow and in the days to come.
Survey after survey shows a tremendous need for skilled workers in key clusters, like manufacturing, health care, information technology—even in accounting and finance. My frequent visits to employers across the state affirm these reports.
Our state needs a way to accurately measure employment on a real-time basis. We need a better way to quickly measure trends and identify workforce needs by region, so we are working with members of the Legislature to enact a system to help us connect workers to jobs in areas of great need from current and future employers.
During the past year, we partnered with the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation to provide grants to technical colleges and employers in various regions to improve workforce development. The next step will come in the state budget, as we align new resources with our critical needs in the workplace.
Just a few days ago, we graduated the first class under the Wisconsin Workforce Partnership Program. Diane Stepp joined the program because she was unemployed, after being laid off, and was looking for a new career. Diane has already been hired by Amerequip Corporation in New Holstein as a CNC operator, and she started work yesterday. Diane is here with us tonight.

We also worked with the University of Wisconsin System on a new flexible degree program called UW FlexOption to help adult learners earn degrees in targeted fields. Nearly a quarter of all adults in this state have some college credit without a degree. For many, time and money are the barriers to finishing that degree.

I can relate. During my senior year at Marquette University, I was offered a full-time job at the American Red Cross. I thought I would squeeze in a course here or there and finish things off in a year or two, but then Tonette and I got married. Then we had Matt. And then came Alex.
Next thing you know, you're putting all your extra time and money into your kids. The UW FlexOption will provide a less time-consuming, less costly way to finish off a degree. It will help prepare more people to fill the critical needs we have in the workforce.
I want to thank UW System President Kevin Reilly and UW-Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor Ray Cross for leading the charge on this exciting idea.
Part of the long-term strategy to develop our workforce is to continue to transform education in our state. The reforms we enacted over the past two years saved school districts hundreds of millions of dollars and allowed each district to hire based on merit and pay based on performance.
We can put the best and the brightest in our classrooms—and we can pay them to stay there. We finally have a way to recognize our exceptional teachers and reward them for the good work they do with our children.
Going forward, our educational efforts must be focused on performance. During the past year, State Superintendent Evers and I put together a diverse group of stakeholders from around Wisconsin—teachers, parents, school board members, taxpayers, business leaders, and others—to talk about school and school district accountability. After a lengthy process, the first report card evaluating each school in the state was released at the start of the school year.
As many of you know, Tonette and I still have a son at Wauwatosa East High School. Like many parents, we looked at the score for Alex's school. In fact, our district actually put the scores for all of their schools right on the front of their recent newsletter. That tells me we were able to develop a transparent and objective system for measuring performance in education.
In our budget, we will lay out plans to provide a financial incentive for high-performing and rapidly improving schools. We want to reward and replicate success—all across the state.
At the same time, we will outline a plan to help failing schools fundamentally change their structure and dramatically improve their results. Our goal is to help each school excel, so every child in the state has access to a great education.
As a parent, it really is a moral imperative. As the governor, it is also an economic imperative. If we want to help employers grow here in Wisconsin, we must show them there is a steady supply of graduates with the skills needed to fill the jobs—not only of today—but of tomorrow.
We worked hard over the past year to improve education, particularly in reading. Funds in my last budget provided reading screeners to assess kids as they come into kindergarten.
This is tremendously important as research shows kids learn to read through third grade and then read to learn for the rest of their lives. We also put in place a series of other important reforms to improve our early childhood and elementary school reading skills.
One other great way to help improve reading skills is by increasing the number of people who read to our kids. Last year, I challenged all of us to mentor a child as a reading buddy.
I know we all cherish those times when we could read to our young children. With those days in my past, I partnered with a school in Milwaukee to read with a third grader. Stacy and her family are with us here tonight. Stacy continues to do a super job. At the start of this school year, I paired up with another third grader. Angelo and his mother are also here tonight.
Again this year, I challenge each of you to join with me and find some time to mentor a student in reading.
Every child should have access to a great education. We continue to expand the number of choices for families in Wisconsin—be it a traditional, a charter, a voucher, a virtual, or a home school environment. Moving forward, we want to continue to dramatically improve existing schools and give parents the opportunity to choose legitimate alternatives to failing schools.
In addition to transforming education, we must continue to reform government. Take the Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Commission, for example. So far, they have identified nearly $456 million worth of savings. Our reforms allow state government to focus on efficiency, so taxpayers get great service without needless spending and waste.
Our reforms also gave schools and local governments flexibility to make management choices to improve their communities, while saving money. For example, our technical schools are saving millions of dollars by making simple, common sense changes to instructor schedules and overtime policies. In Racine County, they are saving money with a program that allows non-violent jail inmates to do maintenance work, like mowing grass and shoveling snow.
And much of the work being done to save taxpayers money is about finding creative solutions to problems faced by the state.
Several years ago, the previous governor closed welcome centers. As a candidate, I highlighted the importance of the tourism industry and pledged to reopen these centers.
Tonight, I’m happy to report that there are now eight Travel Wisconsin Welcome Centers staffed with people that direct visitors to the many exciting attractions all across our great state. The Department of Tourism worked with the Department of Transportation and local chambers and visitors bureaus to form a tremendous partnership that protects state taxpayers in this effort.
With me tonight are a number of our dynamic Travel Wisconsin greeters, who provide a warm welcome to all of our visitors.
It's no wonder tourism has grown to a $16 billion industry, supporting one in thirteen jobs in our state.
Tourism is one of the many industries that benefit from a strong infrastructure system. We need to continue to invest in it to keep people working in Wisconsin.
With this in mind, I am committed to a healthy transportation system that includes roads, bridges, freight rail, ports, and airports. Whether it is traveling to a tourism destination or taking product to and from market, so many of our key industries—manufacturing, dairy products, timber and paper products, cranberries, vegetables, grain, sand—and soon, iron ore mining; so many of these industries depend on our strong transportation backbone.
They need it to keep their competitive edge. The MillerCoors Brewery in Milwaukee is a good example. The plant manager told us that MillerCoors is in a hyper-competitive industry. Every day, they are looking to find any competitive advantage to see who can get a cold beer on a bar in Madison, Green Bay, or even Chicago the fastest. If beer trucks are tied up in the Zoo Interchange, the MillerCoors Brewery here in Wisconsin is at a disadvantage.
In a similar way, a dairy farmer from Independence or a lumber company from Antigo or a crop farmer from Dodgeville or a dock worker from Superior all have a competitive advantage, if we have a good transportation system. That’s why I am committed to improving our infrastructure.
In addition to investments in our transportation system, we need to ensure access to cost-effective and reliable sources of power, preserve our clean water advantage, improve availability of high-speed Internet connections and support our quality health care in Wisconsin.

Tonight, I invite all of you here, and all of you watching at home, to join us as we continue to move our great state forward.
Next month, I will lay out a clear plan for how to achieve these priorities when I present our biennial budget to the State Legislature. Unlike the deficit we faced two years ago, we start out in a much better position today because of the tough, but important, decisions we made over the past two years.
In many ways, our position in Wisconsin is a stark contrast to the chaos in Washington, DC. While many of our nation's leaders fail to make tough decisions, we decided to avoid failure by embracing true reform.
Still, there is much work to be done.
As I travel the state, it is clear to me why our focus on helping create 250,000 jobs by 2015 is about much more than just fulfilling a campaign promise.
Simply put, it is about helping improve the lives of 250,000 more families in Wisconsin.

You see, adding a new job is about more than just a number. Every time another job is created, and a new employee is hired, it means that another family has someone working in their household. For many, that means fewer worries about putting bread on the table or clothes on the backs of their kids—or even making the mortgage payment on the house.

I will work hard each and every day, so we can help people all across Wisconsin have the chance to have a job, and work hard to support themselves and their families for generations to come.
With bold vision and bright hope for the future, we are turning things around. We are heading in the right direction. We are moving Wisconsin forward.
Thank you, may God bless you, and may God bless the great State of Wisconsin.

It has been a pleasure communicating with you. It is an honor to serve as your Governor and represent the residents of Wisconsin.

Governor Scott Walker

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Marine Corps: Training for Jungle Warfare in Okinawa

Glider Pilot, 70, Arrested and Questioned by FBI and DHS for Flying Over a Nuclear Power Plant

Glider Pilot, 70, Arrested and Questioned by FBI and DHS for Flying Over a Nuclear Power Plant

Governor Scott Walker: State of the State address

Gun Owners of America: Obama Goes Nuts and Offers Anti-gunners Wish List

Gun Owners of America

Obama Goes Nuts and Offers
Anti-gunners Wish List
Most of his crazy proposals are so extreme,
only few of his initiatives pose serious threat
Surrounded by child-props, Barack Obama yesterday proposed a semi-automatic ban so extreme that it could potentially outlaw up to 50% of all long guns in circulation and up to 80% of all handguns.

Originally, Obama's allies had announced they would reintroduce the 1994 ban on commonly-owned, defensive firearms. That was until they found out that they would look like fools, since that semi-auto ban was largely the law of Connecticut on the day the Newtown shooting occurred -- and didn't cover Adam Lanza's AR-15. After that, gun grabbers just kept adding more and more guns until they would register (or ban) a huge percentage of the defensive guns in existence.

So where are we now?

Obama's crazy gun ban is now being denounced by many Democrats. And, although you don't "pop the cork" until Congress adjourns, it will probably take the magazine ban down the toilet with it.

This means that gun owners' focus must now shift to the part of Obama's agenda which poses the most danger because it is most likely to move: the requirement that the government approve every gun transfer in America -- the so-called universal background check.

All of you know why this is a problem. But how do you explain it so simply that even a congressman can understand? Let's take a crack at that:


The FBI’s database currently contains the names of more than 150,000 veterans. They served their country honorably. They did nothing wrong. But, because they sought counseling for a traumatic experience while risking their lives for America, they have had their constitutional rights summarily revoked, with no due process whatsoever.

You want to know something else? The "secret list" could soon include tens of millions of Americans -- including soldiers, police, and fire fighters -- with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and even post-partem depression. This would be achieved under the 23 anti-gun "executive actions" that Obama announced yesterday.


Our legislative counsel drafted the Smith amendment in 1998 to prohibit the FBI from using the Brady Check system to tax gun buyers or put their names into a gun registry. But the FBI refuses to tell us -- or even to tell U.S. Senators -- how (or whether) it is complying with the Smith amendment. Why in the world should we give the FBI more authority and more names if it abuses the authority it already has?

This is the inherent problem with any background check, where gun buyers’ names are given to a government bureaucrat. Is there any way to make sure that once a name is entered into a computer, that it doesn’t stay there permanently?
This concern is especially valid, considering how federal agents are already skirting the laws against gun owner registration. Several dealers around the country have informed GOA that the ATF is increasingly going into gun shops and just xeroxing all of the 4473's, giving them the names of every gun owner who purchased a gun through that shop -- and setting up the basis for a national registration system.

This is illegal under the 1986 McClure-Volkmer law, but that has apparently not stopped it from being done. If every gun in America has to go through a dealer, this will create a mechanism to compile a list of every gun owner in America. And, as we have seen with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has just been legislatively handed such a list, when that happens, the talk immediately turns to “confiscation."

As alluded to above, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo now has a comprehensive gun registry. This is the most dangerous thing that New York legislators could have done -- as Cuomo has made it clear he’s considering gun confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms.

“I don’t think legitimate sportsmen are going to say, ‘I need an assault weapon to go hunting,’” Cuomo said. “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option -- keep your gun but permit it.”

How nice. He’ll let gun owners “permit” their guns for now -- so that, presumably, they can be confiscated later, just as certain defensive weapons were confiscated in New York City during the Mayor David Dinkins administration in 1991.


The Brady Law requires that the FBI correct erroneous denials of firearms purchases. And it requires that it reply, initially, within five days. According to attorneys familiar with the problem, the FBI NEVER, EVER, EVER complies with the law. In fact, it increasingly tells aggrieved legitimate purchasers to "sue us" -- at a potential cost of tens of thousands of dollars.


Since its inception, the FBI’s computer systems have often gone offline for hours at a time -- sometimes for days. And when it fails on weekends, it results in the virtual blackout of gun sales at gun shows across the country.

According to gun laws expert Alan Korwin, "With the NICS computer out of commission, the only place you could legally buy a firearm -- in the whole country -- was from a private individual, since all dealers were locked out of business by the FBI’s computer problem."

Of course, now the President wants to eliminate that last bastion of freedom!

Recently, the FBI’s system went down on Black Friday, angering many gun dealers and gun buyers around the country. “It means we can’t sell no damn guns,” said Rick Lozier, a manager at Van Raymond Outfitters in Maine. “If we can’t call it in, we can’t sell a gun. It’s cost us some money.”

The bottom line: Our goal is to insure that Obama's politicized dog-and-pony show doesn't produce one word of new gun law. Not a single word.

And the biggest danger right now is universal background checks -- which would create a platform for national registration and confiscation.

We would note that, in addition, Obama is attempting to illegally enact gun control through unlawful and unconstitutional "executive actions." Click here to read about these.

ACTION: Click here to contact your senators and congressman. Urge them to oppose the universal background check because it is a platform for national firearms registration and confiscation.

U.S. Navy: Surface Navy Association Concludes 25th Annual National Symposium

U.S. Navy: Chief of Information Discusses Continuing Resolution