President Obama could be losing trust

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 12:38 AM EDT
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The Obama Administration is in the middle now of what some people refer to as a perfect storm of scandal.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it's not something that can be written off lightly, because at its very heart is the question of whether the President is losing the public's trust.


I don't for a moment believe the internet rumors that the Obama administration is trying to buy up all the ammunition so gun owners can't find any for themselves.

But there are those who do...and that in itself has been an enormously effective sales tool for those who make and sell bullets. And guns for that matter.

Nor do I believe, for example,  former Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann—who claims that Obamacare is part of a plot to deny medical care to conservatives.

I do believe she's an ill-informed nutcase with a history of saying outrageous stuff. But there are people who believe she speaks the truth.

And, now,  by playing loose with facts and the Constitution on three fronts, the Obama administration is playing into the hands of his political detractors, of conspiracy freaks everywhere, and in the process putting public trust on the line.

Last September, the U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
It was blamed at the time on an inflammatory YouTube video that caused a spontaneous riot that resulted in the attack.  Now its becoming clear that back then, with less than two months to go until the Presidential election, the information was doctored to hide that it was, in fact, an organized attack by Al-Qaida.

Why make such an effort?

So the theory goes, Obama had all but vanquished Al-Qaida, and it would have looked bad politically to suggest Al-Qaida was still a viable terrorist outfit.

A week or so ago, we learned the IRS has been scrutinizing the not-for-profit status applications of groups thought to be opposed to the so-called Obama agenda.

If an organization had "tea party" or "patriot" in its title, it got worked over.

Now, one can easily make the argument that right-wing organizations are probably not going to spend more that half of their super-PAC money on civic enterprise.

Rather, one might suspect they are instead manipulating the tax code to hide the names of those who give them money and avoid paying taxes.

But to target them for scrutiny because of their political leanings is illegal. Simple as that.

A week after an IRS official admitted it happened, and even apologized for it, the President was grimly proclaiming that  "if" the charges were true, the perpetrators would be severely dealt with.

It made him look clueless. Maybe he was.

And now we learn that Obama's Department of Justice, ignored existing law by seizing phone records of a wide number of Associated Press reporters in its year-long search for someone in the administration who leaked accurate information about a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen in May of last year.

It was upsetting to the government because only days before, the administration was claiming the plot never existed.

Here's why what the D.O.J. did matters: reporters have relied on confidential sources to gather information for stories that the public has a right to know.

Sometimes the process has been abused, but mostly its not.

For a quick and easy example, think Watergate. If a well-meaning source believes a reporter can no longer guarantee his confidentiality, because of massive government raids on phone records—the source goes back into silence.

Attorney General Eric Holder—the President's appointed man who runs the Department of Justice—told the house judiciary committee yesterday that he knew almost nothing about it, and that what he did know he couldn't talk about because he had recused himself from the entire matter.

Why didn't he follow the law? He didn't know. When did he recuse himself? He wasn't sure. Did he put it in writing? He couldn't remember. And so it went. The Attorney General who often knows nothing.

These scandals aren't going to go away soon. Each one of them is a nicely wrapped gift from the president to his political enemies. And they'll run with 'em for as long as they can.

When he was elected going on five years ago, President Obama promised that his would be the most transparent administration in history. And much to the dismay of a lot of people who voted for him, it's not turning out that way.

He's had something of a free pass, so far. It's time to revoke it.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.
President Obama could be losing trust
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Business News

Last Update on April 23, 2014 17:17 GMT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans buying new homes plummeted in March to the slowest pace in seven months, a sign that real estate's spring buying season is off to a weak start.

The Commerce Department says sales of new homes declined 14.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000. That was the second straight monthly decline and the lowest rate since July 2013.

Sales plunged in the Midwest, South and West in March. But they rebounded in the Northeast, where snowstorms in previous months curtailed purchases.

New-home sales have declined 13.3 percent over the past 12 months.

But median sales prices jumped 12.6 percent during the past month to $290,000. That's because new-home buyers in March bought more high-end properties compared to previous months.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is cutting the amount of coal dust allowed in coal mines in an effort to help reduce black lung disease.

Top Labor Department officials are unveiling the long-awaited rule Wednesday at an event in Morgantown, W.Va.

Black lung is an irreversible and potentially deadly disease caused by exposure to coal dust. The government estimates that the disease has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968.

The rule lowers the maximum levels of coal dust in mines. It also increases dust sampling in the mines, and requires coal operators to take immediate action when dust levels are high. The requirements will be phased in over two years.

The administration first proposed the rule back in 2010.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's tobacco companies and the Justice Department are including black media outlets in court-ordered advertisements that say the cigarette makers lied about the dangers of smoking.

A federal judge in 2006 ordered the industry to pay for the corrective statements in various advertisements in newspapers, as well as on TV, websites and cigarette pack inserts.

The brief filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday revises a January agreement outlining the details of those ads to address concerns raised by the judge and black media groups.

The groups had argued the ads should be disseminated through their outlets because the black community has been disproportionally targeted by tobacco companies.

The new agreement proposes more newspapers and TV networks that have greater reach to the black community.


NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit by the European Union alleging that U.S. tobacco company R.J. Reynolds sponsored cigarette smuggling in Europe.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City ruled Wednesday that the European Union and 26 of its member states were within their rights to sue in U.S. courts.

The lawsuit alleges that RJR directed, managed and controlled a global money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups. It said the company laundered money through New York-based financial institutions.

The lawsuit had been tossed out by a Brooklyn judge. But the appeals court says a racketeering law can apply to a foreign enterprise or conduct outside the U.S.

Lawyers did not immediately return messages for comment.

Reynolds American Inc. is based in Winston-Salem, N.C.


BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union says Greece has reached a major financial milestone that was required if it were to be granted more debt relief.

European Commission spokesman Simon O'Connor said Wednesday that Greece's government revenues last year exceeded expenditure when interest payment and other items were excluded.

He says Greece's so-called primary budget surplus of 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion), or 0.8 percent of its annual gross domestic product, is "well ahead of the 2013 target."

Greece's international creditors have said a primary surplus will entitle Greece to further debt relief. Discussions are set to be concluded in the second half of the year.

Most analysts expect the eurozone to lower the interest rates Greece pays on its loans or be granted another extension on when they have to be repaid.


FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Business activity in Europe has risen to its highest level in three years as a once-shaky economic recovery gains speed.

The Markit survey of purchasing managers, a closely watched gauge of business activity, climbed to 54.0 in April from 53.1 in March. That's the highest reading since May, 2011. Anything over 50 indicates expansion.

Analysts said Wednesday's figures, which cover both services and manufacturing companies, showed that the moderate recovery was showing increasing strength in the 18 countries that share the euro.

Alarmingly low inflation of only 0.5 percent and high unemployment have raised fears the rebound was too weak to sustain itself and would require more stimulus from the European Central Bank.

The eurozone grew by a quarterly rate of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.


TORONTO (AP) -- Canada says it will require a three-year phase out of the type of tank cars involved in the Quebec train derailment last summer that killed 47.

Last July, a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Forty-seven people were incinerated and 30 buildings destroyed.

A government official confirmed the phase out of the DOT-111 tanker cars used to carry oil and other flammable liquids. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Canada's Transport Minister will announce new rules later Wednesday in response to recommendations by Canada's Transportation Safety Board in the aftermath of the tragedy.

The DOT-111 tank car is considered the workhorse of the North American fleet and makes up about 70 percent of all tankers on the rails.


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The layoffs will occur over the next 60 days. Both aircraft makers are based in Wichita, Kan.

Management and non-management jobs will be eliminated, the company said.

Textron Inc., based in Providence, R.I., expects about $4.6 billion in annual revenue from the combination of Cessna and Beechcraft.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Postal workers plan protests in 27 states Thursday against the opening of postal counters in Staples stores that are staffed with Staples employees.

Last year, Staples office supply stores began providing postal services under a pilot program that now includes some 80 stores. The American Postal Workers Union objects because the program replaces well-paid union workers with low-wage nonunion workers.

The union says that could lead to layoffs and the closing of post offices. In a statement, the union said postal workers "have taken an oath to protect the sanctity of the mail," unlike poorly trained retail workers. The union wants the counters staffed by uniformed postal workers.

The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service has been working to form partnerships with private companies as it tries to cut costs and boost revenues.

Washington Times