Could Illinois be the first state to file for bankruptcy?


H/T CBS News.

This is what happens when DemocRats and unions control dominates a state.

Illinois residents may feel some solidarity with the likes of Puerto Rico and Detroit.

A financial crunch is spiraling into a serious problem for Illinois lawmakers, prompting some observers to wonder if the state might make history by becoming the first to go bankrupt. At the moment, it’s impossible for a state to file for bankruptcy protection, which is only afforded to counties and municipalities like Detroit.

Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection could be extended to states if Congress took up the issue, although Stanford Law School professor Michael McConnell noted in an article last year that he believed the precedents are iffy for extending the option to states. Nevertheless, Illinois is in a serious financial pickle, which is why radical options such as bankruptcy are being floated as potential solutions.

Ratings agency Moody’s Investor Service earlier this month downgraded Illinois’ general obligation bonds to its lowest investment grade rating, citing the state’s growing pile of unpaid bills and its mounting pension deficit. Illinois, by the way, has the lowest credit rating of any state. Lower ratings mean higher borrowing costs, since lenders view such borrowers as riskier bets.

“Legislative gridlock has sidetracked efforts not only to address pension needs but also to achieve fiscal balance, allowing a backlog of bills to approach $15 billion, or about 40 percent of the state’s operating budget,” the agency noted.

As noted by the Fiscal Times, Illinois is the only state that’s been operating without a balanced and complete budget for almost two years.

“We’re like a banana republic. We can’t manage our money,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said after the Illinois Legislature failed to produce a full 2017 budget earlier this month.

The situation has prompted comparisons with Puerto Rico, which earlier this year announced a historic restructuring of some of its $70 billion in debt through courts after negotiations with bondholders failed.

Like Puerto Rico, Illinois has a massive pension crisis. Its unfunded pension liability for the state’s five major plans grew 25 percent alone in one year, reaching $251 billion, according to Moody’s. On a per-household basis, the state’s pension debt burden stands at $27,000, according to the conservative-leaning Illinois Policy Institute.

So how did the state’s pensions balloon into such a crisis? First, the pension problem has been a long time in the making. The state has more than 660 government pension funds, which are sometimes called defined benefit plans because they promise workers will receive a specific pension when they retire.

But critics say some of those pensions carried overly optimistic assumptions, especially given periods of market turmoil like the global financial crisis, which ate into investment returns. The state’s general assembly wasn’t required to fully fund pensions, which meant tax money was spent on other priorities such as schools or infrastructure.

The result? Growing unfunded liabilities, or money promised to workers in their pensions when they retire that the state doesn’t have. Other contributing factors include inadequate employer contributions and benefit increases, according to the Civic Federation.

Adding to the state’s financial pain is a shrinking tax base. For the last three consecutive years, Illinois has lost residents. Its population is now at its lowest in a decade. Tepid wage growth on top of fewer residents puts a strain on the state’s ability to grow its tax revenue.

It’s not unprecedented for a state to default on its debt. Arkansas defaulted in 1933 as it struggled to repay debt during the the Great Depression. Spending on an ambitious road-building project and a series of natural disasters heightened the Southern state’s problems.

Bankruptcy is often seen as a last-ditch effort, but it also can help struggling cities or companies reinvent themselves on a stronger financial footing. Detroit serves an example of how a reorganization can help, at least in the near-term. The city is now paying its bills and is keeping up with maintenance, although it still has a looming pension payment that could spell trouble in just a few years, according to the Detroit Free-Press.

As Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri told the publication, “We certainly know many people were hurt during the bankruptcy, but what would have been the alternative and how would they have been hurt under the alternative?”

As for Illinois, Rauner on Thursday called state legislators to a 10-day special session starting next week to hammer out a budget deal and end an unprecedented impasse that could soon enter a third year.

The Republican announced the news in a Facebook video and statement, accusing majority Democrats of “ignoring” his recommendations.

“We have tough, urgent choices to make, and the Legislature must be present to make them,” he said.

Lawmakers adjourned last month without a deal before a critical May 31 deadline, triggering the need for a three-fifths majority vote instead of a majority on a budget agreement. The new fiscal year begins July 1. Rauner has called for a special session running from June 21 to July 30.


Doctors warn Minnesota measles outbreak still “early” as cases increase

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H/T CBS News.

Open borders are allowing in diseased immigrants that are bringing back diseases that have been eradicated in America.

MINNEAPOLIS — New numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health show the measles outbreak in the state is growing, CBS Minnesota reports.

There are now 44 cases reported in Minnesota, which is up from 41 on Thursday. The outbreak is primarily in the state’s large Somali-American community, where many parents avoid the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine because of unfounded fears that it causes autism.

All but two of the cases involve unvaccinated patients.

Health officials are now offering new guidelines for the measles vaccination as new cases become a daily occurrence.

“We’re very early in the outbreak,” said Dr. Shane McAllister, assistant professor in pediatric infectious disease and immunology at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital. “We’re going to be seeing this for a while.”

Preventing the outbreak’s spread is a priority at Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Signs stand near every entrance warning of the measles outbreak.

“There’s a lot of interest in measles right now, so we’re fielding a lot of questions from concerned families,” McAllister said. “We have a large population of potentially-infectable children who are not vaccinated, and we have a disease agent that is extremely contagious.”

Normally, the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR, is administered at age 1 with a second dose between ages 4-6. But MDH accelerated its measles vaccination guidelines this week in three specific counties.

The new guidelines call for children in Ramsey, Crow Wing and Hennepin counties get the second vaccination just 28 days after the first dose.

“That provides additional protection for children who might not have responded to the first dose,” McAllister said.

Unvaccinated children are most at risk outbreak, but certain adults could also become infected.

Measles vaccination guidelines changed from a single dose to a double dose in 1989.

“Adults who were born prior to the late 80s should consider speaking with their physician about getting a second dose of the MMR,” McAllister said.

He points out the guidelines are not calling for an additional dose of the measles vaccine — it is just an earlier dose.

75 years later, Pearl Harbor survivor recalls horrors of “burning alive”

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H/T CBS News.

I can not imagine the horrors that Donald Stratton went through and witnessed.

If I was in his shoes I doubt if I would be willing to forgive the Japanese for the things he suffered that horrible day. 

Next week marks 75 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Now comes the first memoir of that day from the perspective of a survivor who was aboard the USS Arizona, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

A painting of the battleship Arizona graces the back of Donald Stratton’s classic truck. Now at 94, he points out the anti-aircraft gun, where as a 19-year-old he fought the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

The USS Arizona graces the back of Donald Stratton’s truck  CBS NEWS

The USS Arizona graces the back of Donald Stratton’s truck CBS NEWS

“Some of the pilots waved at us and smiled,” Stratton recalled.

“They were waving at you while they were shooting at you?” Blackstone asked.

“That’s right. And we were firing at them but we could see our bursts in the sky and they were way short,” Stratton said.

The Arizona was one of eight battleships under unrelenting Japanese air strikes, as seen on the Smithsonian channel series, “The Lost Tapes.”

“Just a fireball about six or 800 feet in the air and that just engulfed us where we’re at,” Stratton said. “I got burned over about 60 percent of my body. We were just actually burning alive.”

“Some of his scars you can see, some you can’t,” Blackstone said, speaking to Don’s son, Randy Stratton.

Some he’ll never get over his whole life,” Randy said. “Any noise even to this day, the phone goes off, he jumps through the ceiling because of that bomb going off.”

For nearly 75 years, Stratton said little about how he survived as more than 1,100 others on the Arizona perished. But he has finally written a memoir called, “All the Gallant Men,” revealing things he never even shared with Velma, his wife of almost 67 years.

“When I read the book, I cried,” Velma said. “He really never talked about it. He never told me his story about anything, about what happened.”

Of the explosion, Stratton writes: “The flames found us… burning off our clothes, our hair, our skin… Men stumbled around on the deck like human torches, each collapsing into a flaming pile of flesh.”

A makeup artist’s recreation of his injuries is hard to look at.


Some he’ll never get over his whole life,” Randy said. “Any noise even to this day, the phone goes off, he jumps through the ceiling because of that bomb going off.”

For nearly 75 years, Stratton said little about how he survived as more than 1,100 others on the Arizona perished. But he has finally written a memoir called, “All the Gallant Men,” revealing things he never even shared with Velma, his wife of almost 67 years.

“When I read the book, I cried,” Velma said. “He really never talked about it. He never told me his story about anything, about what happened.”

Of the explosion, Stratton writes: “The flames found us… burning off our clothes, our hair, our skin… Men stumbled around on the deck like human torches, each collapsing into a flaming pile of flesh.”

A makeup artist’s recreation of his injuries is hard to look at.

A makeup artist’s recreation of Pearl Harbor survivor Donald Stratton’s injuries CBS NEWS

A makeup artist’s recreation of Pearl Harbor survivor Donald Stratton’s injuries CBS NEWS

“How do you go on fighting or trying to survive with that amount of pain?” Blackstone asked.

“Well, it’s self-preservation,” Stratton said. “I just pulled the skin off my arms and threw it down because it was in the way.”

“You pulled the skin off your arms,” Blackstone said, startled.

“Well, I was burned — it just hanging down there,” Stratton said.

With flames below him and using badly burned hands, he somehow pulled himself along a rope about 80 feet to safety on another ship.

“When you were coming across that rope, the Japanese are still strafing?” Blackstone asked.

“Oh yeah, they were still bombing and strafing, everything, yeah,” Stratton said.

Recovery meant months of searing pain and surgeries. When doctors wanted to amputate his limbs, Stratton refused.

“Did you think you were going to make it?” Blackstone asked.


“I don’t think it ever entered my mind that I wouldn’t,” Stratton said.

And he wouldn’t be kept away from the fight. A little more than a year after Pearl Harbor, he reenlisted and fought in the Pacific.

“Did you think you had a score to settle?

“Thought about a little revenge, but we had a job to do,” Stratton said.

Over the years, he has returned again and again to the Arizona Memorial.

“It’s very sad. That’s a very sacred place,” Stratton said. “I lost so many shipmates that day. It’s like going back and losing them all over again.”

On the 60th anniversary, Japanese pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor came in peace and were greeted with friendship by some — but not all — of the American veterans.

“Have you managed to forgive Japan?” Blackstone asked.

“Let’s put it this way: eleven-hundred-and-sixty-seven men out there on that Arizona sure as hell wouldn’t shake hands with them, so I’m not going to do it,” Stratton said.

Next week on the 75th anniversary, he’ll return with his whole family, including great-grandchildren.

“Knowing that probably it will be last time,” Velma said, with tears in her eyes. “And that’s hard.”

But the Stratton family vows never to forget, like granddaughter Nikki. Each wears a locket holding a fragment of the USS Arizona.

“To constantly remind us where my grandfather came from. The Arizona is in our blood, quite literally in our blood,” Nikki said.

For most who visit the Arizona Memorial now, this sacred place is part of distant history. But it’s not distant at all for Donald Stratton, as he writes in “All the Gallant Men”: “…I had lost a part of myself in the ruins of that ship, and a big part of my family in the men who died there… A part of myself that now would be forever entombed with them.”


Oscar-winner George Kennedy dies at 91

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This is from CBS News.

I have always liked George Kennedy.

One movie I really liked him in was Brass Target about a plot to assassinate Gen. Patton.

“Naked Gun” and “Cool Hand Luke” star George Kennedy passed away Sunday at his home in Boise, Idaho, his son Cory Schenkel confirmed. Kennedy was 91.

Best remembered as a tough-guy character actor in westerns and disaster films, Kennedy won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Cool Hand Luke” opposite Paul Newman in 1968.

George Kennedy in a still from the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke,” distributed by Warner Bros.

Other notable film appearances included “Charade,” “Thunderbolt & Lightfoot,” “the Eiger Sanction,” “Airport 1975,” “Earthquake” and the comic “Naked Gun” films alongside Leslie Nielsen. His final film role was opposite Mark Wahlberg in 2014’s “The Gambler.”

“Movies have been my favorite entertainment,” Kennedy said in a 2013 interviewwith CBS affiliate KBOI. “And for me to have ended up in that business is perhaps the most fortunate thing to ever happen to me.”

Though he came from a show-bizzy family, thanks to a mom who performed as a ballerina in vaudeville-style productions, and a father who was an orchestra leader, Kennedy’s path to Hollywood wasn’t assured, KBOI wrote.

Kennedy spent 16 years in the Army and left as a captain.

In fact, that he got into acting at all was more by accident than design.

He started out after high school like so many his age by joining the Army. Afterward, with no job prospects, Kennedy re-enlisted as a staff sergeant and found himself in Officer Candidate School. And in turn that led to a stint in Armed Forces Radio.

It was there he was involved in setting up the first Army Information Office, providing technical assistance to movies and television shows. It was in that capacity that he worked on the early sitcom, “Sergeant Bilko.” Small speaking roles soon came his way.

KBOI wrote that Kennedy slowly built a resume that earned him callbacks from casting directors eager to take advantage of his athletic frame and booming voice.

Kennedy was born in New York in 1925. He started acting at the age of 2 when he joined a touring company production of “Bringing up Father.”

After his Army stint, Kennedy made his television debut in “The Phil Silvers Show” in 1955 and had a variety of guest appearances in the Westerns “Have Gun, Will Travel,” ”Cheyenne” and “Gunsmoke.”

His film career began to take flight in the early 1960s. He starred in 1963’s “Charade,” a whodunit that features Kennedy, Cary Grant, James Coburn and Walter Matthau seeking out the $250,000 they suspect was left behind by Audrey Hepburn’s dead husband.

His other acting credits in the 1960s included “The Dirty Dozen” and “Guns of the Magnificent Seven.”

Kennedy once called “Charade” the favorite movie in which he appeared.

“It had Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, music by Henry Mancini; it was shot entirely in Paris,” he said in 1995. “I have nothing but wonderful memories.”

Kennedy, an avid reader, also dabbled in writing and published a couple of murder mysteries.

Schenkel remembered sitting in on an autograph session in London with his grandfather.

“I sat behind him for hours that day watching the hundreds of fans in line waiting to meet my grandpa,” Schenkel recalled. “At the end of the day we sat in our hotel room eating room service and he said to me, ‘Seeing all those people I was able to bring a little enjoyment and happiness into their life — That is why I did it.'”

In later years, Kennedy became an advocate for adopted children. He had four adopted children, including his granddaughter Taylor, whose mother, also adopted by Kennedy, had become addicted to drugs and alcohol.

“Don’t let the fact that you’re 77 or 70 get in your way. Don’t let the fact that you’re a single parent and you want to adopt get in your way,” Kennedy said in a Fox interview in 2002. “That kid, some place right now, cold and wet, needs somebody to say, “I love you, kid, good night.'”

News of his passing was first reported by TMZ.

CIA Director John Brennan: ISIS Islamic Jihadists Aren’t Muslims, They Are “Psychopathic Thugs”


This is from Freedom OutPost.

I need to correct CIA Director John Brennan’s statement they are psychopathic murdering Muslim thugs.    

Call them psychopathic thugs or murderers, but don’t call the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ‘Muslims.’ CIA Director John Brennan, reportedly a convert to Islam himself, at an event Friday warned against ascribing ‘Islamic legitimacy’ to the overseas terrorist group, saying that allowing them to identify themselves with Islam does a disservice to Muslims around the world.

Tell that to the leader of ISIS who has a Masters degree and PhD in Islamic studies.

CBS News  “They are terrorists, they’re criminals,” Brennan asserted during the audience Q&A portion of an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Most–many–of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers who use a religious concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct.”

“Let’s make it very clear that the people who carry out acts of terrorism – whether it be al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – are doing it because they believe it is consistent with what their view of Islam is,” the intelligence agency director continued. “It is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world.”

Brennan, who gave a speech earlier at the event on the structural changes facing the CIA, also slammed a popular conservative talking point about the White House’s reluctance to describe ISIS as Islamists.

“Quite frankly, I’m amused about the debate that goes on about, you know, unless you call it by what it is, you don’t know what you’re fighting,” Brennan said. “I think we have to be very careful also in the characterization because the words that we use can have resonance.”

President Obama has spoken extensively about the administration’s decision to deny ISIS a religious name.

The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie,” the president said last month at a White House summit on countering terrorism. “And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it.”

Like the president, Brennan cautioned against the unilateral lumping of terrorists with a religion that has over a billion followers worldwide.



7 Other Times President Obama Said He Found Out About World Events By Watching the News

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This is from Independent Journal Review.

Does anyone believe this crap other than the Obamabots?


In an interview with CBS News, President Barack Obama claimed not to know that his former Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was using a personal email address to conduct government business while in office.

On Friday, Obama told CBS News’ Bill Plante that he learned about Clinton’s email address:

“…The same time that everybody else learned it, through news reports,” the president told CBS News’ Bill Plante Friday about when he learned about Clinton’s email address.

Obama’s statement seems to contradict White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s announcement that the President did, in fact, know about her email address, since he emailed her directly on several occasions.

This isn’t the first time the commander-in-chief has claimed not to know about a controversial issue. In a Facebook post on Monday, congressional candidate Dan Bongino wrote:

Daniel Bongino

Public Figure · 79,765 Likes

· Yesterday at 10:06am· Edited ·

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that our President rarely knows what’s going on in his own administration? He cavalierly admits this over and over and yet few on the Left, or in the media, want to acknowledge just how embarrassing this is.

Here’s the short list of scandals occurring under this President which he claims he learned about from the media:

-The Hillary Clinton email scandal
-The Fast & Furious gun running scandal
-The NSA spying on foreign leaders scandal
-The Petraeus scandal
-The IRS targeting of conservative groups
-The Department of Justice’s wiretapping of reporters at The Associated Press
-The Department of Justice’s wiretapping of Fox News’ James Rosen
-The VA healthcare “waiting list” scandal

Isn’t the President’s feigned ignorance of what’s going on under his nose, and on his watch, the biggest scandal of them all? How does the President of the United States not know that the government he presides over as its Chief Executive is failing in its most basic duties?

Doesn’t the fact that the President (a passionate advocate for big government as a positive force for change) claims he doesn’t know what’s going on in his own administration, make the case that big government is a bankrupt, failed approach?

Here’s a quick look back at some other times the President has claimed innocence, as pointed out by both Bongino and former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson:

  1. Fast and Furious: When asked about the gun-running scandal that resulted in the death of border agent Brian Terry in 2010, President Obama told reporters on Oct. 11, 2011, “I heard on the news about this story, that, uh, Fast and Furious.”
  2. NSA spying on foreign leaders: President Obama said he didn’t know his administration was spying on foreign leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He told the press on Oct. 28, 2013 that, “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.”
  3. The General David Petraeus sex scandal: Petraeus, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was forced to resign in Nov. 2012 after news surfaced that he was having an affair with his biographer. The White House repeatedly refused to answer questions about when the President was finally briefed about Petraeus’ situation.
  4. The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups: President Obama told the media in May 2013 that he first learned about the IRS’s improper targeting “from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.”
  5. The Justice Department’s wiretapping of AP and Fox News reporters: When asked about the secret seizure of reporters’ phone records, Obama spokesperson Jay Carney told the media that the president “found out about the news reports, uh, yesterday on the road.”
  6. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs healthcare ‘waiting list’ scandal: The White House appeared to be in the dark about the waiting list scandal and cover-up related to medical care for the country’s military vets. Then-Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that, “We learned about them through the reports. I will double check if that is not the case. But that is when we learned about them.”
  7. The Unauthorized Air Force One photo-op: New York City residents were panicked when, in April 2009, Air Force One — sans President Obama — flew over the Statue of Liberty for a pre-scheduled photo-op. Obama’s response: “It was something that, uh, we found out about, uh, along with all of you.”

Teen Is Sitting as Officer Booking Him Collapses With a Heart Attack. What the Young Man Did While Handcuffed Has Earned Him High Praise.

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This is from The Blaze.

In spite of his criminal past Jamal Rutledge did the right thing and got help for the stricken officer.

To Jamal Rutledge I say Bravo for saving the life of Officer Franklin Foulks.


As Florida teenager Jamal Rutledge sat handcuffed and getting booked for burglary, criminal mischief and violating probation, the officer processing him suddenly fell to the ground.

Image source: CBS News

Fort Lauderdale Officer Franklin Foulks was having a heart attack — and Rutledge’s actions last September are being credited with saving the officer’s life.

Surveillance video showed Rutledge leaving his chair and kicking the security fence to alert police of the officer’s condition.

Image source: CBS News

Police said Sgt. Todd Bunin heard Rutledge yelling and kicking the fence, saw Foulks grabbing his chest, and had dispatch send help, WTVJ-TV reported.

Here’s the surveillance clip:

After Officers Robert Norvis and Raymond Ketchmark heard Bunin’s radio transmissions, Norvis took off Foulks’ gear and cut off his shirt while Ketchmark activated a nearby defibrillator and communicated with rescuing units regarding Foulks’ condition.

Image source: CBS News

Foulks was taken to a hospital; medical personnel said the actions by Rutledge and the other officers saved Foulks’ life.

Image source:

Rutledge, Bunin, Ketchmark and Norvis will be honored at the Fort Lauderdale Commission meeting next Wednesday.


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