Thursday, April 23, 2015

9 Uncomfortable Questions For Hillary Clinton By Jamie Weinstein

April 20, 2015

The media have a new favorite question for Republican presidential aspirants.

“You believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, but if someone in your family or in your office happens to be gay and they invite you to their wedding, would you go?” Univision’s Jorge Ramos asked 2016 GOP contender Marco Rubio Wednesday.

Since then, the question has spread like ISIS, replacing “do you believe in evolution” as the hot query for media types trying to make Republicans look like neanderthals. So far, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and John Kasich have all been asked variations of the question. (For those keeping score, like Rubio, Kasich and Walker said they would attend — in fact, Walker said he has attended a gay marriage ceremony — while Santorum said he would not. Cruz crafted his answer to say nothing at all.)

You might complain that Ramos posed a “gotcha” question with no relevance, but if you run for president, you should be prepared to answer just about anything. Almost nothing is or should be out of bounds. The real problem is similar questions are not often asked of Democratic contenders. (RELATED: Politicians Complain About ‘Gotcha’ Questions, But What Exactly Are They?)

When Rand Paul was recently asked about whether he believed there should be any exceptions to his anti-abortion stance, like in cases such as rape or incest, he fired back at the media for failing to ask Democrats comparable questions on social issues like abortion.

“Here’s the deal — we always seem to have the debate way over here on what are the exact details of exemptions, or when it starts,” he complained. “Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus? You go back and you ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz if she’s OK with killing a seven-pound baby that is not born yet. Ask her when life begins, and you ask Debbie when it’s okay to protect life. When you get an answer from Debbie, get back to me.”

In that spirit, here are 9 uncomfortable questions for reporters to ask Hillary Clinton — that is, if she ever gets around to submitting to an interview:

1.) What would you say if your daughter came out of the closet as a born again Christian who opposes gay marriage?

2.) Should a Christian baker be forced under penalty of law to bake a cake for a Satanist wedding ceremony?

3.) Do you oppose male only golf clubs? If so, do you also oppose female only gyms, like Curves? If not, why not?

4.) What is the appropriate pay ratio for CEOs compared to their workers? Should that ratio also apply to the Hollywood actors who have donated to your campaign compared to the crew that produce their movies?

5.) Speaking of greedy CEOs, is there a level of speaking fee which we should consider rapacious? If so, is it more or less than your speaking fee of $300,000?

6.) Would you accept the endorsement of someone who helped spark an anti-Semitic riot like, say, Al Sharpton? Or do you confine your association with him just to friendly correspondence on his birthday?

7.) Do you believe that global warming is, as John Kerry has said and as you’ve intimated in the past, the greatest threat to mankind? If so, explain in detail how you sought to curb greenhouse gas emissions in your own life? Also, while president, will you set an example by grounding Air Force One?

8.) Do you think a candidate should be disqualified from running for president if they consider a former Ku Klux Klan leader as their mentor? If so, how do you justify your continued presence in the race considering you called the late Sen. Robert Byrd, who once served as a KKK recruiter, a “mentor” of yours?

9.) Do you believe that women should have the right to choose a cosmetic or sex-selective abortion?

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Be skeptical of ‘net neutrality’ By Robert J. Samuelson


March 4, 2015

As a young reporter in the 1970s, I covered the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Created in 1887, the ICC regulated the nation’s railroads and sought to protect the public against abusive freight rates. Congress deregulated the railroads in 1980 and ultimately abolished the ICC. The verdict was that the agency had so weakened the industry that a government takeover might be necessary. Deregulation was a desperate alternative to nationalization.

I mention all this because there are obvious parallels between the Internet today and the railroads in the late 19th century. Like the railroads then, the Internet today is the great enabling technology of the age. Like the railroads then, Internet companies inspire awe and dread. And now there’s another parallel: the resort to regulation.

Just recently, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to adopt a proposal to ensure “net neutrality.” The new rules will promote an Internet that’s “fast, fair and open,” said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. As a slogan, net neutrality is swell. Who could oppose it? Speed is good, and hardly anyone wants an Internet that favors some users and penalizes others.

Be skeptical. The FCC’s new rules weaken — or reverse — decades of minimal regulation, during which the Internet flourished. As often as not, economic regulation has adverse, unintended side effects. That was true of the railroads, and it may be true of the Internet.

The railroads needed ICC approval for almost everything: rates, mergers, abandonments of little-used branch lines. Shippers opposed changes that might increase costs. Railroads struggled to meet new competition from trucks and barges. In 1970, the massive Penn Central railroad — serving the Northeast — went bankrupt and was ultimately taken over by the government. Others could have followed.

The ensuing deregulation succeeded brilliantly, as economist Clifford Winston has shown. Costs and freight rates both declined. Railroads shed unprofitable lines and offered pricing packages that rewarded shippers for moving more freight in bulk. Mergers consolidated railroads into four major companies. Profits rose. The industry brags that it has spent $575 billion since 1980 to improve the rail network.

Switch now to the Internet. It’s unclear what justifies new regulation. The FCC plan bars companies such as Verizon and Comcast — Internet Service Providers (ISPs) — from blocking any Internet connection. But there was never any support for this sort of censorship, and the agency’s press release contains no evidence that it is widespread. “It’s a red herring,” says Brookings Institution economist Robert Litan.

The real issue is who pays for new Internet investment. Do big users such as Netflix and Facebook bear some costs, or are these left to the ISPs — which shift them to the monthly bills of households? For example: In 2014, Netflix agreed to pay Comcast for smoother streaming of its videos. The open question is whether the FCC will permit these interconnection payments and, if so, at what level. But the FCC has weakened the ISPs’ bargaining position by requiring them to accept all comers.

Note the consequences: If Netflix doesn’t pay its full costs, someone else will. In practice, there could be massive cross-subsidization. Promoted as protecting the “little guy,” net neutrality may do the opposite.

For the moment, the FCC majority promises not to adopt “utility style” price regulation (in effect: limiting profits), which — it concedes — would discourage investment in added Internet capacity. Instead, Wheeler pledges “light-touch” regulation. But this promise is good only until some future FCC changes it. If typical telecom bills increase, political pressures for full-scale rate regulation would surely intensify.

What’s also inconsistent with the “light touch” is “a general conduct rule that,” as Wheeler describes it, “can be used to stop new and novel threats to the Internet.” Translation: Anyone with an Internet gripe can petition for relief. Though the FCC need not comply, this creates enormous uncertainty.

The Internet poses many genuine problems, led by cybersecurity; net neutrality is not among them. It is an opportunity to impose more regulation that, as the example of the railroads warns, threatens to exact a slow and growing economic toll on the Internet’s vitality.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rubio: Cuba deal makes Obama 'worst negotiator' since Jimmy Carter By Ben Kamisar

December 17, 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) harshly criticized President Obama for agreeing to exchange Cuban spies for an American imprisoned in Cuba, calling his foreign policy “naïve” and “truly counterproductive for the future of democracy in the region.”

“All of these tyrants around the world know that the U.S. can be had, that it’s a pretty easy deal,” he said on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom."

“At minimum, Barack Obama is the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the modern history of the country.”

Those sentiments came on top of a statement released by Rubio’s office in which he asserted that “America will be less safe as a result of the president’s change in policy.”

Rubio’s parents fled Cuba in the 1950s, as Fidel Castro rose to power and started clamping down on political opponents. The senator said that, while he’s happy American aid worker Alan Gross will return to his family, he believes that the move “puts a price on every American abroad.”

“Governments now know that, if they can take an American hostage, they can get very significant concessions from the United States,” he said.

“It’s par for the course with an administration that is constantly giving away unilateral concessions, whether it’s Iran or, in this case Cuba, in exchange for nothing.”

The Cuban government freed American aid worker Alan Gross Wednesday morning in an exchange involving three Cuban prisoners held in the United States.

Those prisoners were part of the “Cuban Five,” a group of Cuban spies who have been serving time in American prisons since their conviction in 2001.

On top of the exchange, the president is expected to announce steps to normalize full diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rubio said he expects those steps to include opening trade and travel between the countries, as well as increasing diplomatic communications, as the administration hopes to inspire democracy.

American-Cuban relations have been tense since the U.S. instituted an embargo in 1960, as Cold War tensions with Communist countries heightened.

“Nothing the president will announce today will further that goal,” Rubio said on the possibility of Cuba becoming more democratic.

“They are creating no economic openings, no concessions on freedom of speech, no concessions on elections.”

In the statement released by his office, Rubio added that as incoming chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, he will “make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the president to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s expense.”

Rubio said later Wednesday morning on CNN’s “This Hour” that the current embargo can be leverage for the United States to help influence democratic changes in a new government after current President Raúl Castro, who is 83-years-old, passes away. He added that easing restrictions on Cuba now hurts that long-term strategy.  

“When has tourism ever brought about democracy?” he said on CNN.   “This government controls every aspect of life in Cuba. Every single policy change the U.S. has ever made towards Cuba, whether it’s more travel, more person to person contact, more remittances, they have manipulated every single one of them and they will manipulate this as well."  

"They will use all of these changes to their advantage, they will never allow any of these changes to undermine their grip on the island.”

A Victory for Oppression

President Obama’s policy is bad news for the Cuban people living under a dictatorship, and it sends a dangerous message to the world.

By Marco Rubio

December 17, 2014

Wall Street Journal

The announcement by President Obama on Wednesday giving the Castro regime diplomatic legitimacy and access to American dollars isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people, or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.

Since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations in 1961, the Castro family has controlled the country and the economy with an iron fist that punishes Cubans who speak out in opposition and demand a better future. Under the Castros, Cuba has also been a central figure in terrorism, narco-trafficking and all manner of misery and mayhem in our hemisphere.

As a result, it has been the policy and law of the U.S. to make clear that re-establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba is possible—but only once the Cuban government stops jailing political opponents, protects free speech, and allows independent political parties to be formed and to participate in free and fair elections.

The opportunity for Cuba to normalize relations with the U.S. has always been there, but the Castro regime has never been interested in changing its ways. Now, thanks to President Obama’s concessions, the regime in Cuba won’t have to change.

The entire policy shift is based on the illusion—in fact, on the lie—that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people. Cuba already enjoys access to commerce, money and goods from other nations, and yet the Cuban people are still not free. They are not free because the regime—just as it does with every aspect of life—manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come—dashing the Cuban people’s hopes for freedom and democracy.

Of course, like all Americans, I am overjoyed for Alan Gross and his family after his release from captivity after five years. This American had been a hostage of the regime, and it was through his imprisonment that the Cuban regime again showed the world its cruel nature.

But the policy changes announced by President Obama will have far-reaching consequences for the American people. President Obama made it clear that if you take an American hostage and are willing to hold him long enough, you may not only get your own prisoners released from U.S. jails—as three Cuban spies were—you may actually win lasting policy concessions from the U.S. as well. This precedent places a new price on the head of every American, and it gives rogue leaders around the world more clear-cut evidence of this president’s naïveté and his willingness to abandon fundamental principles in a desperate attempt to burnish his legacy. There can be no doubt that the regime in Tehran is watching closely, and it will try to exploit President Obama’s naïveté as the Iranian leaders pursue concessions from the U.S. in their quest to establish themselves as a nuclear power.

Reasonable people can disagree about the efficacy of American foreign policy toward Cuba and even the embargo, but no serious person can argue that the manner in which President Obama unilaterally granted concessions to the regime in Havana was well advised.

For these reasons and many more, in the weeks and months ahead I will work with Republicans and Democrats who share my concerns and do everything in my power to prevent President Obama’s dangerous policies from becoming reality.

While my personal ties to Cuba and its people are well known, this is not just a personal issue. American foreign policy affects every aspect of American life, and our people cannot realize their full promise if the world becomes more dangerous because America retreats from its role in the world. Moreover, the Cuban people have the same rights that God bestowed on every other man, woman and child that has ever lived. All of those who are oppressed around the world look to America to stand up for their rights and to raise its voice when tyrants like the Castros are trying to crush their spirits.

By conceding to the oppressors in the Castro regime, this president and his administration have let the Cuban people down, further weakened America’s standing in the world and endangered Americans.

Mr. Rubio, a Republican, is a member of the U.S. Senate from Florida.

Net Neutrality’s Babes in Toyland: Netflix, Google and Tumblr sent the Internet into Washington’s heart of darkness. By Daniel Henninger

March 11, 2015

Washington’s seizure of the Internet is one of the great case studies in the annals of political naïveté.

Over several years, leading lights of the Web—among them Netflix,Google and Tumblr—importuned the Obama White House to align itself with the cause of net neutrality.

“Net neutrality,” like so many progressivist-y causes—climate change, health care for all—is a phrase designed to be embraced rather than understood.

But net neutrality had real meaning. Its core idea was that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, a Washington agency whose employees have been regulating communications since 1934, should design and enforce a price mechanism for the Internet. Up to now, nobody did that.

In February the FCC did, and on that day the Little Red Riding Hoods of net neutrality found out what big teeth grandma has. The FCC said its plans to regulate the Web were in a 332-page document, which no one can see until the agency is ready.

Within days, Netflix CFO David Wells spoke about the Internet coming under the FCC’s Title-II control: “Were we pleased it pushed to Title II? Probably not. We were hoping there might be a non-regulated solution. But it seems like companies that are pursuing their commercial interests including us have to arrive at something like that.”

The Internet’s descent into the Washington heart of darkness is a perfect example of that famous Santayana-ism: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

For our purposes, the personification of this forgotten wisdom would be David Karp, the 28-year-old founder of the Web’s popular blogging platform, Tumblr. Mr. Karp got Barack Obama’s ear on net neutrality at one of the president’s nonstop New York City fundraisers. Mr. Obama then told aides and lawyers in the White House to move on it, and they told Chairman Tom Wheeler of the nominally independent FCC that regulating the Web was a done deal.

Netflix and the others are being mocked for turning the Internet over to a telecommunications law written in the 1930s. But you don’t have to travel back that far to understand the fix they’ve gotten themselves into. The more relevant political event is the Telecommunications Act of 1996, passed when Mr. Karp was . . . 10 years old.

Mr. Karp and the rest of the 20-something and 30-something Peter Pans in the app development world should find their way to the 80-something communications lawyers and lobbyists retired in Florida for a tutorial on what it’s like trying to get Washington off your back once it has climbed on. Here’s the tweet-length version: You are going to pay and pay and pay. To save you, Washington will bleed you.

Briefly, in 1987 the FCC proposed partially deregulating its ancient control of long-distance telephone rates; and it proposed allowing more competition among AT&T, other national carriers and the regional Bell operating companies, or Baby Bells. What ensued over nine years was arguably the greatest pig-out of lobbying fees and campaign-contribution shakedowns in Washington history. The Beltway bled political payments out of these businesses until Congress finally disgorged a law in 1996.

In one of the umpteen litigations that ensued, AT&T v. Iowa Utilities Board (involving, among other things, the “pick and choose” rule), Justice Antonin Scalia said the 1996 act “is in many important respects a model of ambiguity or indeed even self-contradiction.”

For sure. The telcom act set up a 14-step “competition test” for the Baby Bells. A congressional staffer called the law “a communication lawyer’s dream.”

Political ironies abound in the net-neut saga.

About the only faction unabashedly cheering the FCC’s capture of the Internet is the Occupy-everything left. Their numbers include such famous high-tech innovators as The Center for Media Justice, Demand Progress, 18 Million Rising and Popular Resistance.

This is the same left that loathes Hillary and Bill Clinton for their crony capitalism, such as the Clinton Foundation donor stories. That’s rich. What the left and Barack Obama have done with the Internet and all the rest of this administration’s reregulation (banks, health care, education, utilities) is put Clintonalia back in control of Washington. No one can do business until they first run it through the Beltway bosses. For the K Street corridor, it’s the golden age all over again.

Along the partisan divide, the Internet providers—AT&T, Verizon,Comcast—are seen largely as part of the Republican donor base, while the new Web companies and their high-asset employees trend Democratic for reasons, they say, of social conscience.

That divide is too neat now. The days of blissed-out Patagonia progressivism are ending with FCC regulation of the Internet. It’s time for these new-generation techies to think about where their political interests lie.

Got a new Web idea? Run it by your Washington reps. Which will include the regulatory enablers of the Obama White House. They didn’t invent the Internet. But now they run it


Iran's emerging empire By Charles Krauthammer


January 23, 2015

While Iran's march toward a nuclear bomb has provoked a major clash between the White House and Congress, Iran's march toward conventional domination of the Arab world has been largely overlooked. In Washington, that is. The Arabs have noticed. And the pro-American ones, the Gulf Arabs in particular, are deeply worried.

This week, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized control of the Yemeni government, heretofore pro-American. In September, they overran Sanaa, the capital. On Tuesday, they seized the presidential palace. On Thursday, they forced the president to resign.

The Houthis have local religious grievances, being Shiites in a majority Sunni land. But they are also agents of Shiite Iran, which arms, trains and advises them. Their slogan — "God is great. Death to America. Death to Israel" — could have been written in Persian.

Why should we care about the coup? First, because we depend on Yemen's government to support our drone war against another local menace, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). It's not clear if we can even maintain our embassy in Yemen, let alone conduct operations against AQAP. And second, because growing Iranian hegemony is a mortal threat to our allies and interests in the entire Middle East.

In Syria, Iran's power is similarly rising. The mullahs rescued the reeling regime of Bashar al-Assad by sending in weapons, money and Iranian revolutionary guards, as well as by ordering their Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, to join the fight. They succeeded. The moderate rebels are in disarray, even as Assad lives in de facto coexistence with the Islamic State, which controls a large part of his country.

Iran's domination of Syria was further illustrated by a strange occurrence last Sunday in the Golan Heights. An Israeli helicopter attacked a convoy on the Syrian side of the armistice line. Those killed were not Syrian, however, but five Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon and several Iranian officials, including a brigadier general.

What were they doing in the Syrian Golan Heights? Giving "crucial advice," announced the Iranian government. On what? Well, three days earlier, Hezbollah's leader had threatened an attack on Israel's Galilee. Tehran appears to be using its control of Syria and Hezbollah to create its very own front against Israel.

The Israelis can defeat any conventional attack. Not so the very rich, very weak Gulf Arabs. To the north and west, they see Iran creating a satellite "Shiite Crescent" stretching to the Mediterranean and consisting of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. To their south and west, they see Iran gaining proxy control of Yemen. And they are caught in the pincer.

The Saudis are fighting back the only way they can — with massive production of oil at a time of oversupply and collapsing prices, placing enormous economic pressure on Iran. It needs $136 oil to maintain its budget. The price today is below $50.

Yet the Obama administration appears to be ready to acquiesce to the new reality of Iranian domination of Syria. It has told the New York Times that it is essentially abandoning its proclaimed goal of removing Assad.

For the Saudis and the other Gulf Arabs, this is a nightmare. They're engaged in a titanic regional struggle with Iran. And they are losing — losing Yemen, losing Lebanon, losing Syria and watching post-U.S.-withdrawal Iraq come under increasing Iranian domination.

The nightmare would be hugely compounded by Iran going nuclear. The Saudis were already stupefied that Washington conducted secret negotiations with Tehran behind their backs. And they can see where the current talks are headed — legitimizing Iran as a threshold nuclear state.

Which makes all the more incomprehensible President Obama's fierce opposition to Congress' offer to strengthen the American negotiating hand by passing sanctions to be triggered if Iran fails to agree to give up its nuclear program. After all, that was the understanding Obama gave Congress when he began these last-ditch negotiations in the first place.

Why are you parroting Tehran's talking points, Mr. President? asks Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Indeed, why are we endorsing Iran's claim that sanctions relief is the new norm? Obama assured the nation that sanctions relief was but a temporary concession to give last-minute, time-limited negotiations a chance.

Twice the deadline has come. Twice no new sanctions, just unconditional negotiating extensions.

Our regional allies — Saudi Arabia, the other five Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt and Israel — are deeply worried. Tehran is visibly on the march on the ground and openly on the march to nuclear status. And their one great ally, their strategic anchor for two generations, is acquiescing to both.

Everything You Need To Know About Obama's Executive Amnesty By Conn Carroll


November 21, 2014

In a primetime address on November 20, President Obama made his sales pitch to the American people for a series of immigration executive actions he will sign on November 21 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here is what you need to know:

What actions is Obama taking specifically?

The key to Obama's new immigration policy is the creation of one new amnesty program and the expansion of another.

Specifically, Obama's new amnesty program will give illegal immigrants who have been in the United States for at least five years, and who are parents of U.S. citizens or legal residents, a three year work permit. This permit will also allow them to obtain a Social Security number and get a driver's license. Pew estimates that 3.5 million current illegal immigrants will qualify for this program.

Obama is also expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals amnesty program. Previously only those illegal immigrants who were born before 1981 and entered the U.S. as a minor before 2007 were eligible for benefits. Now all illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as a minor before 2010 will be eligible for amnesty. Like the parents above, DACA recipients will also get work permits, Social Security numbers, and driver's licenses. Pew estimates that 235,00 illegal immigrants will gain eligibility for benefits through this program expansion.

Is this legal?

Obama didn't think so. As recently as this spring, and on more than 20 other occasions, Obama said he could not rewrite immigration law by executive action. 

Specifically, this March Obama told Univision, "But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. ... t at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘you have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books.

More damning, in 2011, Obama told the National Council of La Raza, "Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

How is Obama justifying this amnesty?

The Office of Legal Counsel memo released before Obama's speech cites Obama's Article II Section 3 constitutional duty to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed" as the source of his power to grant this amnesty. 

The memo reasons that since there are 11.3 million illegal immigrants in the country today, and DHS only has the resources to remove 400,000 illegal immigrants every year, Obama must choose which immigrants to deport and which to ignore. This "prosecutorial discretion" power, the memo claims, allows Obama to choose which illegal immigrants get work permits, which illegal immigrants will continue to be ignored, and which illegal immigrants will be deported.

Under this legal theory, Obama could give all current 11.3 million illegal immigrants work permits and driver's licenses, as long as he kept deporting at least 400,000 illegal border crossers every year.

Will courts let Obama get away with this?

They already have. In 2012, after Obama announced his DACA program, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents sued the Department of Homeland Security challenging the legality of Obama's first executive amnesty program.

But while the court found that the border agents "were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a program contrary to congressional mandate," the court also ultimately determined that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue DHS since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 already established an administrative process for resolving disputes between federal employees and their employer.

The harms from Obama's illegal amnesty programs are just too diffuse for any one litigant to establish standing in federal court.

If courts can't stop Obama in time, who can?

Only Congress can stop Obama's amnesty program by defunding it. 

Now it is true that since the federal agency that issues work permits, the United States Citizen and Immigration Services office, is self-funded through fees it would keep issuing permits in the event of a federal government shutdown.

But that does not mean Congress does not have any power over the agency. Congress could still attach a rider to any appropriations bill forbidding USCIS from using any federal funds, including those collected through fees, for the purpose of carrying out Obama's amnesty programs. 

Will Congress stop Obama?

Some in Congress, like Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), have said they will use the power over the purse to defund Obama's amnesty.

Others like House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have said they want to pass a long-term government funding bill which would essentially rubber stamp Obama's amnesty.

How would Obama's amnesty effect legal immigrants?

After Obama enacted DACA, wait times for visas for legal immigrants tripled from 5 months to 15. Obama essentially allowed illegal immigrants to jump in line in front of law-abiding legal immigrants. Since Obama has requested no new funding from Congress to pay for his new amnesty, and since his new amnesty is three times larger than his last amnesty, legal immigrants should not only expect to head to the back of the line again, but they should also expect much longer delays.

Obama claims all these amnestied immigrants will get background checks, Is that true?

If history is any guide, no. Background checks are expensive and time consuming and USCIS does not have the resources to process additional amnesty programs on top of their normal duties. Judicial Watch uncovered documents in June 2013 showing that instead of full background checks normally used by the agency, DACA recipients got cheaper and less comprehensive "lean and lite" checks.

Obama said illegal immigrants will be held accountable by paying taxes. Is that true?

It is true that the IRS already allows illegal immigrants to pay income taxes by obtaining a tax identification number. Most illegal immigrants also already pay state and local taxes. Obama's amnesty program changes none of this. In fact, Obama's new amnesty lets illegal immigrants of the hook but not paying any fines or penalties for breaking the law.

How will Obama pay for this new amnesty program?

The White House has not explained that yet.

What about Democrats who claim Reagan and Bush also acted unilaterally on immigration?

President Reagan did pass an amnesty program through Congress in 1986, but it failed to accomplish its goals. At the time there were just 3 million illegal immigrants in the country and today there are more than 11 million. This is why most Americans do not support amnesty today.

Reagan also used an executive action to ease immigration standards for 200,000 Nicaraguans who feared persecution from the communist Sandinista regime. President Bush used similar powers to grant deportation relief to hundreds of Kuwaiti nationals who had been evacuated to the United States during the first Gulf War.

But both of these executive actions were perfectly in line with the true scope of a president's prosecutorial discretion powers. They were limited in nature, applied to specific smaller groups of immigrants, and were not designed to thwart congressional intent on immigration policy.

Obama's amnesty is the exact opposite. It is a broad-based program in response to no crisis other than Congress isn't doing what Obama wants it to do. As Obama once said, "That's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

9 Tips for Healthy Bowel Movements By Aldo Russo, MD


March 20, 2015

Did you know the average person generates about five TONS of stool in his or her lifetime? Also, the average person passes gas 14 to 17 per day (yes, there was a study about this), and on average, you’ll pass about half a liter of gas/day.

Frequency, shape, size, color, and other fecal features can tell you a great deal about your overall health, how your gastrointestinal tract is functioning and even give you clues about serious disease processes that could be occurring, like infections, digestive problems and even cancer.

Here are a few tips for achieving healthy bowel movements:

  1. Eat a diet that includes minimally processed foods and is rich in fresh, organic vegetables and fruits that provide good nutrients and fiber; most of your fiber should come from vegetables, not from grains.
  2. Avoid artificial sweeteners, excess sugar (especially fructose), chemical additives, MSG, excessive amounts of caffeine and processed foods as they are all detrimental to your gastrointestinal (and immune) function.
  3. Boost your intestinal flora by adding naturally fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, pickles and kefir. Add a probiotic supplement if you suspect you’re not getting enough beneficial bacteria from your diet alone.
  4. Try increasing your fiber intake; good options include psyllium and freshly ground organic flax seed (shoot for 35 grams of fiber per day).
  5. Make sure you stay well hydrated with fresh, pure water.
  6. Be active. At least thirty minutes of calisthenics four times a week translates into healthy bowel habits plus many other health benefits.
  7. Avoid pharmaceutical drugs, such as pain killers like codeine or hydrocodone which will slow your bowel function. Antidepressants and antibiotics can cause a variety of GI disruptions.
  8. Avoid stress (or at least learn how to control it).
  9. Consider squatting instead of sitting to move your bowels. As crazy as it sounds, squatting straightens your rectum, relaxes your puborectalis muscle and encourages the complete emptying of your bowel without straining, and has been scientifically shown to relieve constipation and hemorrhoids.
Aldo Russo

Aldo Russo, MD
Dr. Russo received his undergraduate degree and medical degree from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Following this he completed his... read more

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

13 Ways Inflammation Can Affect Your Health By Amanda MacMillan


March 4, 2015

Too much of a good thing

You've heard of anti-inflammatory medications and anti-inflammatory diets, but do you really know what inflammation is? In short, it's the body's response to outside threats like stress, infection, or toxic chemicals. When the immune system senses one of these dangers, it responds by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. "In a healthy situation, inflammation serves as a good friend to our body," says Mansour Mohamadzadeh, PhD, director of the Center for Inflammation and Mucosal Immunology at the University of Florida." "But if immune cells start to overreact, that inflammation can be totally directed against us." This type of harmful, chronic inflammation can have a number of causes, including a virus or bacteria, an autoimmune disorder, sugary and fatty foods, or the way you handle stress. Here are a few ways it can affect your health, both short-term and long.

You can't live without inflammation, but it can also be hazardous to your health.

It fights infection

Inflammation is most visible (and most beneficial) when it's helping to repair a wound or fight off an illness: "You've noticed your body's inflammatory response if you've ever had a fever or a sore throat with swollen glands," says Timothy Denning, PhD, associate professor and immunology researcher at Georgia State University, or an infected cut that's become red and warm to the touch. The swelling, redness, and warmth are signs that your immune system is sending white blood cells, immune cell-stimulating growth factors, and nutrients to the affected areas. In this sense, inflammation is a healthy and necessary function for healing. But this type of helpful inflammation is only temporary: when the infection or illness is gone, inflammation should go away as well.

It prepares you for battles

Many of the body's immune cells cluster around the intestines, says Denning. Most of the time, those immune cells ignore the trillions of healthy bacteria that live in the gut. "But for some people, that tolerance seems to be broken," says Denning, "and their immune cells begin to react to the bacteria, creating chronic inflammation."

The immune cells can attack the digestive tract itself, an autoimmune condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, ulcers, and may even require surgical removal of the intestines. Doctors aren't exactly sure why some people get IBD, but genetics, environment, antibiotics, diet, and stress management all seem to play a role.

It can harm your joints

When inflammation occurs in the joints, it's can cause serious damage. One joint-damaging condition is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—another example of an autoimmune disorder that appears to have a genetic component, but is also linked to smoking, a lack of vitamin D, and other risk factors. A 2013 Yale University study, for example, found that a salty diet may contribute to the development of RA.

People with RA experience pain and stiffness in their inflamed joints. But because the immune reaction isn't limited to the joints, says Denning, they're also at higher risk for problems with their eyes and other body parts.

It's linked to heart disease

Any part of your body that's been injured or damaged can trigger inflammation, even the insides of blood vessels. The formation of fatty plaque in the arteries can trigger chronic inflammation. The fatty plaques attract white blood cells, grow larger, and can form blood clots, which can cause a heart attack. One specific protein, called interleukin-6 (IL-6), may play a key role, according to a 2012 study published in The Lancet.

Obesity and unhealthy eating increases inflammation in the body, but even otherwise healthy people who experience chronic inflammation because of an autoimmune disorder—such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or celiac disease—appear to have a higher risk of heart disease, regardless of their weight or eating habits.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancers of the lung, esophagus, cervix, and digestive tract, among others. A 2014 Harvard University study found that obese teenagers with high levels of inflammation had a 63% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer during adulthood compared to their thinner peers. The inflammation may be due to obesity, a chronic infection, a chemical irritant, or chronic condition; all have been linked to a higher cancer risk.

"When immune cells begin to produce inflammation, immune regulation becomes deteriorated and it creates an optimal environment for cancer cells to grow," says Mohamadzadeh.

It may sabotage your sleep

In a 2009 study from Case Western Reserve University, people who reported sleeping more or less than average had higher levels of inflammation-related proteins in their blood than those who said they slept about 7.6 hours a night. This research only established a correlation between the two (and not a cause-and-effect), so the study authors say they can't be sure whether inflammation triggers long and short sleep duration or whether sleep duration triggers inflammation. It's also possible that a different underlying issue, like chronic stress or disease, causes both. Shift work has also been found to increase inflammation in the body

It's bad for your lungs

When inflammation occurs in the lungs, it can cause fluid accumulation and narrowing of the airways, making it difficult to breathe. Infections, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis) are all characterized by inflammation in the lungs.

Smoking, exposure to air pollution or household chemicals, being overweight, and even consumption of cured meats have been linked to lung inflammation.

It damages gums

Inflammation can also wreak havoc on your mouth in the form of periodontitis, a chronic inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria accumulation. This disease causes gums to recede and the skeletal structure around the teeth become weakened or damaged. Brushing and flossing regularly can prevent periodontitis, and one 2010 Harvard University study found that eating anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish or fish oil) may also help.

Periodontal disease doesn't just affect oral health, either. Studies show that inflammation of the gums is linked to heart disease and dementia as well, since bacteria in the mouth may also trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body.

It makes weight loss more difficult

Obesity is a major cause of inflammation in the body, and losing weight is one of the most effective ways to fight it. But that's sometimes easier said than done, because elevated levels of inflammation-related proteins can also make weight loss more difficult than it should be. For starters, chronic inflammation can influence hunger signals and slow down metabolism, so you eat more and burn fewer calories. Inflammation can also increase insulin resistance (which raises your risk for diabetes) and has been linked with future weight gain.

It damages bones

Inflammation throughout the body can interfere with bone growth and even promote increased bone loss, according to a 2009 review study published in the Journal of Endocrinology. Researchers suspect that inflammatory markers in the blood interrupt "remodeling"—an ongoing process in which old, damaged pieces of bone are replaced with new ones.

Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (as with inflammatory bowel disease) can be especially detrimental to bone health, because it can prevent absorption of important bone-building nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Another inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, can also have implications because it limits people's physical activity and can keep them from performing weight-bearing, bone-strengthening exercises.

It affects your skin

The effects of inflammation aren't just internal: They can also be reflected on your skin. Psoriasis, for example, is an inflammatory condition that occurs when the immune system causes skin cells to grow too quickly. A 2013 study published in JAMA Dermatology suggested that losing weight could help psoriasis patients find relief, since obesity contributes to inflammation.

Chronic inflammation has also been shown to contribute to faster cell aging in animal studies, and some experts believe it also plays a role (along with UV exposure and other environmental effects) in the formation of wrinkles and visible signs of aging.

It's linked with depression

Inflammation in the brain may be linked to depression, according to a 2015 study published in JAMA Psychiatry; specifically, it may be responsible for depressive symptoms such as low mood, lack of appetite, and poor sleep. Previous research has found that people with depression have higher levels of inflammation in their blood, as well.

"Depression is a complex illness and we know that it takes more than one biological change to tip someone into an episode," said Jeffrey Meyer, MD, senior author of the 2015 study, in a press release. "But we now believe that inflammation in the brain is one of these changes and that's an important step forward." Treating depression with anti-inflammatory medication may be one area of future research, he added.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Police Officers - Christopher Ralph

Wickenburg Sun
January 14, 2015

Wickenburg Police Chief Pete Wingert (center) last week introduced his two newest police officers at the Wickenburg Town Council meeting. They are Christopher Ralph (left) and Aaron Urlaub (right).


The Napolitanos: A Burlington County Power-Couple


Monday, July 8, 2013 11:29 am

Victoria Lynne Napolitano

Q. What high school/college did you attend, and what did you study?

A. I attended Drexel University. I completed the School of Education’s five year BS/MS program in just over four years, attaining a bachelors’ in education and minor in English, and a masters’ in teaching, learning, and curriculum.

Q. What is your ultimate goal in life?

A. I really want to do something that leaves a lasting impact on the world. I don’t know right now if that will mean something in politics, writing a book, or something else, but I would like to say that I contributed to the conversation of my generation.

Q. What inspires you to do what you do?

A. Right now my focus is on being a positive influence. I am lucky to have the opportunity to make a difference in my community, and this is a responsibility I take very seriously. I hope in the process that this will make me a role model for other young women.

Q. What is your most fulfilling experience to date?

A. Being the top vote getter in my election was incredibly fulfilling. At the outset of the campaign, many thought I was too young to be taken seriously as a candidate. It felt good to disprove that notion, but more importantly, it is a great honor to be entrusted with the stewardship of our wonderful community.

Q. What one person, living or dead, would you want to spend a day with and why?

A. Ayn Rand. I am fascinated by the way she viewed the world.

Q. Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.

A. I’m kind of a Star Wars nerd.

Q. What in your life helps you get through your day?

A. Coming home at the end of the day to my high school sweetheart and our dog.

Q. What is or was #1 on your “Bucket List”?

A. I love to write, and at some point I would love to publish a book. At this point I don’t know if that will be a novel or nonfiction, but we’ll see what the future brings.

Q. Beach or shore?

A. The sandy place next to the water is a beach, but you go “down the shore” to get there!

Q. If there was a biography written about you, what would the title be?

A. Overture

Q. Advice for your fellow young up and comers?

A. Don’t feel limited by what you are “supposed” to be qualified for at your age. Only you truly know what you are capable of accomplishing.

Vinny Napolitano, Director of Constituencies, Gov. Chris Christie office

40 under 40 Vinny Napolitano

40 under 40 Vinny Napolitano

Vinny Napolitano has been selected for the Burlington 40 Under 40 class of 2014.


Tue Jul 29, 2014

What high school/college did you attend, and what did you study?

I attended Union Catholic Regional High School and went to Syracuse University where I triple majored in political science, American history, and political philosophy

What community organizations to you spend time on/with?

Parliamentarian of the Moorestown Republican Municipal Committee; executive board of the Moorestown Republican Club; member of the Moorestown Historical Society; parishioner at Our Lady of Good Counsel

What single characteristic do you feel every leader should possess?

Compassion. No person can truly be a leader without a sensitivity to those around them and a desire to help whoever they can whenever they are able.

What is your most fulfilling professional experience or accomplishment?

It's hard to pick just one. Over the last four-plus years working in the Governor's Office, I've had the chance to do so much — from working with the Special Olympics, to serving as my department's liaison to FEMA in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy; from meeting American heroes who served our nation, to staffing the Governor and Lt. Governor at various events throughout the State. At 27, I've had opportunities and experiences that most people can only dream of, and I am grateful every single day for that!

What one person, living or dead, would you want to spend a day with and why?

President Abraham Lincoln. I've always found him to be an inspiring and incredible figure in American history and someone who espouses the type of leadership that is too often lacking in our world.

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you.

Few would be able to tell based on my outgoing personality now, but I was bullied much of my childhood before high school. I think there is a part of me that always remembers those days, which is why I always try to help the underdog and be a voice to those who can't fight for themselves.

Advice for future your future community leaders?

"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — 'No, you move.'" - Captain America

Tell us your own personal mission statement.

Since High School, my personal mission statement has been "Change the world one person at a time." Any day that I'm able to put my head on the pillow at night knowing I did something helpful or kind for another person is a day that was well worth it.

Fiction or non-fiction? Why?

Both, but I normally find myself reading non-fiction as a political and history geek!

If there was a movie being produced about you, what would the title be?

"Driven to Succeed"

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?


40 under 40 Vinny Napolitano

Monday, January 26, 2015

Obituary - Klobach

Rudi Klobach From Survival in a Concentration Camp to Winning Coach

A Life Rewarded

Rudi Klobach, a resident of West Deptford, passed away Saturday, Jan. 10, at home from ALS. For three years he fought the effects of that disease until he lost the battle.

He is survived by his loving wife, Barbara of ten years; a son, Lance; a sister, Maria Klobach; nephew, Steve Amelang; niece, Susan Amelang; niece, Karen Amelang; nephew, Larry Amelang; great-nephew, Cody Amelang; sister-in-law, Joanne Amelang; and sister-in-law, Joan Williams.

He was preceded in death by his brother, William Amelang.

Rudi was born to Klara and Karl Heinz Klobach on June 18, 1944, in the Threisenstadt Nazis Concentration Camp. They were rescued from the camp by the Russians and eventually settled in Dusseldorf, Germany, where his sister Maria was born. His family moved to the United States in 1948. His father, Karl Klobach, had been an architect by trade, thus he soon was sponsored by an American architectural firm and the family settled in Pennsylvania.

Rudi attended Upper Dublin High School then went on to Thiel College near Pittsburgh where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Education, majoring in English and German. His first teaching position found him in Weatherly, Pa., teaching English and German and coaching boys' soccer and track. Coaching soccer and track would become a major focus in his career. His dedication to these interests touched many lives and achieved for him many awards. Besides being an excellent coach, he also was an extremely proficient athlete.

Circumstances brought him back to the Philadelphia area where he taught as a permanent substitute teacher in Northeast High School for a few years and then landed a job in the Delran public schools. Here, in Delran is where 'Coach K', as he affectionately became known, really came into his own. He built the German program from one period to full time, teaching five levels, taught one German class at the middle school, established the German Club, and coached the girls' soccer team through many winning seasons. Every other year Rudi would take his German students to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as part of their foreign language experience. Rudi was asked to coach soccer at the World Scholar Athlete Games in Rhode Island for four summers.

After retiring from Delran, Rudi continued to coach soccer and track. He coached soccer one year at Cherry Hill West, two years at Gateway Regional High School as assistant soccer coach, then three years as head coach, then coached at Woodbury and Glassboro High Schools, primarily track.

In 2011, Rudi received a crowning honor of his career when he was inducted into the South Jersey Soccer Hall of Fame. In October of the same year, he reached the milestone of 250 game victories.

Rudi Klobach was loved by all his students and soccer players over the years. He is greatly missed.

A memorial service will be held 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 12, at Temple Emanuel, 1101 Springdale Rd. in Cherry Hill, N.J.

In lieu of flowers we welcome you to make a contribution to the Rudi Klobach Scholarship Fund, Delran High School, Delran, NJ 08075, indicate on check 'special funds-memory of Rudi Klobach,' or to the Goodwin Holocaust Museum, 1301 Springdale Rd., Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.

Memories may be shared at the Web site listed below. Budd Funeral Home,


Source: Burlington County Times - Sunday, January 25, 2015

Monday, December 22, 2014

Notable Articles On Gastroenterology & Proctology

Capsule Endoscopy: An Easy Pill to Swallow

pill camOne of the most challenging diagnostic problems in digestive medicine is finding the source of obscure or hidden bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

Patients with obscure or hidden bleeding usually have unexplained anemia (red blood cell deficiency), a low blood count, or may have blackened stools.

When traditional imaging studies fail to reveal the source of the bleeding, another high-tech imaging tool, called PillCam, can provide detailed images of the small intestine — an area that’s difficult to reach with traditional endoscopy procedures.

PillCam, or video capsule endoscopy, is a procedure that uses a tiny wireless camera to take pictures of the insides of your digestive tract. The camera is housed in a vitamin-sized capsule that you swallow. As the capsule travels through your digestive system, the camera takes thousands of pictures that are transmitted to a recorder you wear on a belt around your waist.

“In the past, finding the source of bleeding often required surgery,” said Thomas A. Judge, MD, gastroenterologist at the Cooper Digestive Health Institute. “Now the patient comes into the office in the morning, swallows a dime-sized capsule, is attached to external monitoring equipment, and is out and about for the day. The patient returns in approximately eight hours and the equipment is collected. It really couldn’t be simpler.”

The images then are downloaded and carefully reviewed by the gastroenterologist. If a problem is detected and the source of the bleeding is identified, follow-up procedures and treatments can be performed.

In difficult diagnostic cases, video capsule endoscopy may be able to reveal small ulcers or other abnormalities. The procedure has been particularly helpful in diagnosis with patients who suffer from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease of the small intestine.

“Gastrointestinal bleeding is a symptom rather than a disease and can occur anywhere within the digestive system,” Dr. Judge said. “The PillCam is a valuable tool for diagnosing problems, and Cooper is one of the only centers in the region with the experience and expertise to provide the technology, and to use it effectively.”

For more information about video capsule endoscopy or other programs and services available at the state-of-the-art Cooper Digestive Health Institute, located in Mount Laurel, N.J., call 856.642.2133.

Related Links


Advanced Surgical Options for Patients Requiring Colorectal Surgery

Colorectal surgery has long been associated with invasive procedures, long hospital stays, and painful recoveries. At Penn Medicine, specialists are putting a new face on colorectal surgery by offering patients the latest minimally invasive procedures, including transanal endoscopic microsurgery (TEM), single-incision laparoscopic (SIL) colectomy, sacral nerve stimulation, and robotic-assisted surgery using the da Vinci® Surgical System.

Transanal-endoscopic Microsurgery
Offered to select patients with rectal tumors, TEM allows surgeons to excise large polyps and high rectal tumors that would otherwise require major surgery.

“Previously, if a patient had an early cancer or sizable polyp in the rectum that was not accessible transanally, it would require radical surgery to remove it,” explains Joshua Bleier, MD, FACS, FASCRS. “With transanal-endoscopic microsurgery, we can access areas that were previously too high for transanal approaches.”

TEM is a relatively painless, minimally invasive procedure that requires little to no hospital stay and offers a significantly lower rate of recurrence.

“With TEM, surgeons have a 3D perspective of the operating field, allowing us to remove the tumor in its entirety while sparing much of the rectum,” says Dr. Bleier. “This is a distinct advantage over transanal excision, which can cause the tumor to fragment and result in recurrence rates as high as 30 percent.”

Even though TEM has been in existence for several years, very few surgeons possess the training necessary to perform the procedure. Dr. Bleier is one of only a handful of surgeons on the eastern seaboard and the only surgeon at Penn performing TEM.

SIL Colectomy
Patients at Penn who require a right colectomy for the treatment of polyps or cancer may benefit from an advanced laparoscopic procedure called SIL colectomy. Offered by Brian Kann, MD, FACS, FASCRS, assistant professor of clinical surgery, SIL colectomy affords patients the benefits of a traditional laparoscopic approach, but with smaller and fewer incisions.

“With traditional laparoscopic approaches to right colectomy, surgeons make three or four port incisions and then an additional large incision,” says Dr. Kann. “A distinct advantage of SIL colectomy is that it requires only a three- to four-centimeter incision to perform the entire resection. Additionally, because the surgeon uses only one point of entry, a high degree of technical expertise is required.”

To date, Dr. Kann has performed several SIL colectomies. Penn is only one of a few centers in the country offering this procedure.

Sacral Nerve Stimulation
For patients experiencing chronic fecal incontinence who have failed or are not candidates for conventional therapies, a minimally invasive treatment option called sacral nerve stimulation may help them regain complete bowel control.

The sacral nerves regulate the muscles of the pelvic floor. For some patients with fecal incontinence, these muscles do not function properly. Sacral nerve stimulation is a therapy that uses an implantable device to stimulate the sacral nerves with mild electrical pulses to restore normal function to the pelvic floor and help patients regain bowel control.

“Sacral nerve stimulation works in more than 75 percent of potential patients, and when it works it can be profoundly life-changing,” says Dr. Bleier.

The first step in treatment is a test phase to determine if the sacral nerve stimulation will work. The test phase does not require permanent implantation of the device. Therefore, if the test is successful the internal, pacemaker-like device can be implanted with the knowledge that the treatment will work. If the test phase is not successful, unnecessary implantation of a device can be avoided. Both procedures are very safe and cause minimal, if any, discomfort.

Robotic-Assisted Surgery
In January 2011, surgeons at Penn became among the first in the region to perform minimally invasive colorectal surgery using the da Vinci® Surgical System. Robotic surgery offers distinct benefits to both colorectal surgeons and their patients.

“The pelvis is often a difficult area to operate in due to anatomic constrictions,” explains Dr. Kann. “With the robot, we have enhanced visualization of the operative field due to high-definition, magnified, 3-dimensional views. This is instrumental in identifying and protecting critical structures such as nerves in the pelvis. Additionally, the range of motion with traditional laparoscopy is limited to moving the instruments up and down, back and forth, and in and out. A key advantage to the robot is that the ends of the instruments articulate like our wrists, adding an additional range of motion and facilitating the ease of surgery."

Used mainly for rectal surgery, a significant advantage to robotic colorectal surgery is its potential to preserve nerves that control key bodily functions such as urination or ejaculation. In addition, it allows for more complete excision for rectal cancer. Drs. Kann and Bleier both perform robotic-assisted colorectal surgery at Penn Medicine.

“The addition of these procedures demonstrates our commitment to providing patients with the most advanced treatments available for their condition,” says Robert Fry, MD, FACS, FASCRS, chief of the division of colon and rectal surgery, chairman of surgery, Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Emilie and Roland deHellebranth Professor of Surgery. “We take an enthusiastic, multidisciplinary approach to treatment. Patients are seen within a day or two of their initial call and referring physicians receive regular updates on their patient’s care.”

Penn’s commitment to training future colorectal surgeons distinguishes it from many other programs in the nation. Its colorectal residency program is one of only 50 in the United States and offers aspiring surgeons the opportunity to receive specialized training in this field.

“Our program, while comparatively young, offers participants the opportunity to train with a highly skilled, widely renowned team of colorectal specialists,” says colon and rectal surgery program director Dr. Kann. “I feel that our ability to really push the envelope in terms of treatment and research makes this a great place for surgeons to train and practice.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-789-PENN (7366).


Friday, October 17, 2014

Obituary - Konieczka

Paul Alan Konieczka

March 11, 1942 - October 16, 2014

Paul Konieczka, a lifelong resident of Delran, passed away Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.

Paul was born on March 11, 1942 in Riverside. He was the son of the late Adolph and Helen Konieczka.

Paul was a teacher in the Delran school district for more than 35 years. He was an avid sportsman who loved fishing, hunting, and golfing. He enjoyed spending time socializing with his friends at the Polish American Citizens' Club where he was a long standing member and officer.

He is survived by his devoted wife, Marcia Konieczka of 47 years; son, Alan Konieczka and wife, Karen of Greenwich Township, N.J.; and daughter, Stacy Silva and husband, Rui of Delran. He also is survived by his treasured grandchildren, Michael, Lauryn, Kyle and Elise; as well as his sister, Elaine France and brother-in-law, Bob and brother, Richard Konieczka and sister-in-law Dee.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend Paul's life celebration and visitation at Snover/ Givnish of Cinnaminson, 1200 Rte. 130, from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, and from 10 to 11 a.m. Monday. His prayer service will begin at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Lakeview Memorial Park, 1300 Rte. 130 N., Cinnaminson.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Paul's name may be made to Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 230 East Ohio St., Suite 304, Chicago, IL 60611-3201.

To share your fondest memories and condolences with Paul's family, please visit the Web site below. Snover/Givnish of Cinnaminson

Source: Burlington County Times - October 17, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tom MacArthur and the empty chair By J.D. Mullane

Aimee Belgard, Democratic cadidate for New Jersey's 3rd congressional district, did not show for a chat with her GOP opponent, Tom MacArthur, hosted by Dom Giordano at 1210 WPHT Philly.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It was the bitter aftertaste of the Republican primary for Congress in the 3rd District that led me to believe that Tom MacArthur was just another elite party pick, a closet lib and probably a soak-the-rich socialist, too.

That’s because last spring, when tea party fave Steve Lonegan ran against MacArthur, the rebel conservative’s campaign attempted to change MacArthur’s name to Tom “He raised taxes as mayor of Randolph!” MacArthur.

There were other jibes. MacArthur was not authentically pro-life. MacArthur is an establishment stooge, a gutless RINO, etc.

None of it worked. MacArthur triumphed, although the former self-made insurance company CEO had to spend $2 million of his own cash to beat the insurgent Lonegan.

When I met MacArthur on Tuesday in Bordentown Township, his easygoing manner and reasonable answers cleansed the palate of bitter backwash. I rifled questions at him.

Q: Pro-life, or pro-choice?

A: “I’m pro-life. I’ll work with anybody to foster a culture that respects and honors life and respects women.”

Q: Does the Second Amendment give us the right to shoot ducks, or shoot tyrants?

A: “The Second Amendment gives you the right to protect your family, yourself and your property without relying on the state.”

Q: “Obamacare”: Repeal and replace, or mend it don’t end it?

A: “It needs to be repealed and replaced — replaced with free-market reforms to create more competition and lower costs, like allowing people to buy insurance across state lines.”

Q: Immigration: Amnesty, or send them back?

A: “You keep speaking in these either/ors,” he said, vaguely annoyed. “We need to return anyone who’s committed a crime to their country of origin. There needs to be a tough but fair path to citizenship. Paying back taxes, learning English, and getting at the back of the immigration line, so not to bump people who are trying to come here legally.”

Amnesty is one of two top issues MacArthur hears about as he campaigns. The other is the Obama economy and its lack of good jobs.

“People are out of work, or they’ve given up in despair. I hear a lot from people who are stuck in part-time jobs that don’t pay very well.

“On immigration, I hear from two sides. From people who feel they are paying taxes to support people who are here illegally, and I hear from businesses, manufacturers, farmers, restaurant owners who want…”

“Cheap labor?” I said.

“Who want access to labor. And they want some sort of program for it,” he said.

To stop the illegals from flowing in, he wants the National Guard deployed in the border states.

We met at Mastoris Diner. MacArthur appeared on Dom Giordano’s radio show on WPHT-AM (1210), which was broadcasting from the diner. MacArthur is soft-spoken. He looks like a guy who sells insurance, which is how he amassed his fortune, building York Risk Services.

He is a center-right guy in a center-right district that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Delaware River in Burlington and Ocean counties. His opponent is Democrat Aimee Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder. Belgard was invited on Giordano’s program, but didn’t show. Instead, a chair with her name on it was set up next to MacArthur.

Her campaign told me Belgard had more pressing (undisclosed) obligations. However, eight debates are set, the first to be recorded Friday in Trenton at the NJTV studios.

Skipping Giordano was an amateur error. When a 50,000-watt radio station invites you to tell people why they should vote for you, you show up.

Polls show the race is tied. MacArthur told me his internal polling shows him ahead, which makes sense. Except for the brief Jon Adler interlude, 3rd District voters have picked Republicans for a century.

If Belgard wins, though, I will invite her to Mastoris Diner and she can pull up an empty chair, where I’ll eat crow.

J.D. Mullane can be reached at 215-949-5745 or Twitter: @jdmullane

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obituary - Thomas

Judy Gray Thomas

AGE: 69 • Freehold, Twp.

Judy Gray Thomas, 69, of Freehold Township died Thursday, February 23, 2012 at CentraState Medical Center, Freehold Township. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she lived there prior to moving to Freehold Township 40 years ago. Mrs. Thomas was a Librarian for the Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, retiring in 1972. She was an active supporter of the Christopher and Dana Reeves Foundation, Short Hills.

Surviving are her husband, David William Thomas; a son, Dr. Brian Thomas and his wife, Dr. Gabriela Thomas, Monroe Township; and a sister, Marion Oxley, and her husband, Lawrence, Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Relatives and friends may call at the Higgins Memorial Home, 20 Center Street, Freehold, on Monday from 1:00 to 4:00p.m. Funeral services will be held at 4:00p.m. with Rev. Dr. Hugh A. MacKenzie officiating. Interment will be held at Sewickley Cemetery, Sewickley, Pennsylvania. Donations in her memory to the Long Branch Presbyterian Church, 167 Cedar Avenue, Long Branch, NJ 07740 would be appreciated

Funeral Home
Higgins Memorial Home
20 Center Street Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 462-0895 Funeral Home Details

Published in Asbury Park Press on Feb. 26, 2012