WASHINGTON -- The Twin Cities were one of three muncipalities in the country that will participate in a pilot program to boost outreach in the Islamic community in effort to combat recruitment of naturalized Americans by the terrorist group ISIL, Department of Justice officials said Wednesday.
The pilot project will "bring together important Minnesota law enforcement, religious, and community leaders to expand outreach to Minnesotans," according to Sen. Al Franken's office, which has urged the Obama administration to deliver additional resources to Minnesota.
Two men with Minnesota ties were killed fighting for ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in the Middle East.
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat who represents Minneapolis, has also encouraged administration officials to work with the Somali community because they can be allies in identifying vulnerable young people who can become radicalized, he said.
US Attorney for Minnesota Andy Luger, issued a statement late Wednesday:
"The Somali community in Minneapolis and St. Paul will benefit greatly from the additional resources we expect to receive as part of the pilot program," he said. "Our Somali friends deserve to prosper in Minnesota in peace and security, and this program seeks to make that happen, and create a blueprint for the country for how to prevent the radicalization of vulnerable youth."
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden said the withdrawal of the largest insurer from MNsure, the state’s health care exchange, is evidence of the Affordable Care Act’s failure, blaming President Obama and his opponent, Sen. Al Franken, for enacting what he called a broken system.
PreferredOne was the top-selling insurer on MNsure, but its CEO said they’d be pulling out of the exchange, saying their participation was “not sustainable.” PreferredOne insured six out of 10 MNsure consumers who now will have to seek out other providers and may result in higher healthcare premiums.
“I’m a businessman, and as a businessman I know that when someone provides 60 percent of the market and is the low-cost provider drops out of the program, you’re going to see a significant increase in premiums. This doesn’t work.” McFadden said, pointing to a chart from the Hoover Institution that illustrated the tangle of functions that make up the ACA. “I’m very disappointed in President Obama and Sen. Franken because this program has been based on lies.”
The biggest of all, he said, is that Obama care decreased the cost of insurance in the country. PreferredOne’s withdrawal is proof of that, he argued. However, he said he does not believe the insurance company should be held responsible for leaving MNsure. He remained focused on a system he said could be fixed by a “state-based, market-based, patient-centered” system that allows consumers to buy their insurance across state lines.
Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetissoff said that because of the ACA, 95 percent of Minnesotans are now insured, while the state’s uninsured rate has been halved.
“Mike McFadden would repeal the health law and take us back to a time when women were charged more for health coverage simply because they were women, people with preexisting conditions were denied coverage, half the bankruptcies in this country were connected with health care emergencies and young adults couldn't get covered under their parents' plan,” she said in a statement. “Once again, Mike McFadden has proven that he would rather jump at the opportunity to play politics than actually solve problems.”
McFadden made his statements on the day the Franken campaign launched another ad claiming McFadden’s investment firm, Lazard Middle Market, was involved in a merger that moved an American pharmaceutical company to Ireland to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
McFadden called the ad “patently false,” saying his firm did not represent the company that made the inversion, and that Franken praised a similar move by Medtronic to new headquarters in Ireland. However, while Franken praised the move as a potential job-creator, he also said the it "needs careful scrutiny."
McFadden said he said companies leave the country because they lack the tax incentives to stay.
“What this is evidence of is you have a president and a Democratic senator and a Democratic Senate that don’t understand tax policy and haven’t done anything over the last six years to make the United States have a competitive tax climate.” he said.
WASHINGTON -- Obama administration officials are engaged in reaching out to Muslim communities across the United States -- including Minnesota -- to try and get them to speak up if they see radicalization taking place.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Phil Gordon, White House coordinator for the Middle East, said officials "were very attuned" to ISIL's propoganda machine -- on social and print media -- that has tempted some young American muslims to join the movement in the Middle East.
Gordon said more European youth have been recruited to fight with ISIL than Americans.
"We have obviously been reaching out to American Muslim communities who are overwhelmingly supportive of our efforts to denouce ISIL and show it for what it is and encourage them to speak up so that we minimize this risk that some Muslims are susceptible to this propoganda," he said.
Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who represents Minneapolis with its large Somali community, has encouraged the administration to work with residents there.
"I am one who believes that you need to counter this in a calm, methodical way," Ellison said earlier this week in an interview.
WASHINGTON -- President Obama outlined a campaign Wednesday to launch airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq. Obama said he doesn't believe he needs Congressional approval for this military action, which will be conducted with allies. He will seek Congressional support and additional money to finance the operation.
Here are comments from some of Minnesota's Congressional delegation after the speech:
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat: "I want to find out more about the potential ramifications of these actions on the civil war in Syria, for more specifics about the coalition the administration intends to build, and about their ongoing efforts to stifle terrorist recruitment activities in Minnesota and around the country."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat: "I support targeted airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as well as training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition, and I also think it's critical that we work with our allies in the international community so we are united in our effort defeat this terrorist organization."
Rep. John Kline, Republican: "It's never a good strategy to telegraph to the enemy what options are off the table. As a 25-year Marine Corps veteran, the father of a son who has served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a member of the House Armed Services Commmittee, I will continue to ensure our allies and personnel in Iraq and around the globe are receiving the support they need to combat terrorism, while carefully reviewing additional military actions taken by the president."
Rep. Tim Walz, Democrat: "The president has the authority to expand strategic airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. I believe he should exercise that authority. Before taking any warranted action against ISIL in Syria, however, I believe the president should consult with Congress."
Rep. Michele Bachmann, Republican (via Twitter)
"The president gave a poll driven speech that has nothing in common with defeating a brutal enemy that has declared war on the United States."
"The president's so-called strategy offered virtually nothing new, and it's clear he doesn't understand the threat of Islamic jihad."
Hours until President Obama’s address to the nation on the Administration’s next step in Iraq and Syria, Democratic Sen. Al Franken and his Republican challenger Mike McFadden have continued their focus on terrorism abroad and recruiting at home.
In a statement released Wednesday, McFadden maintained his stance against sending ground troops to the Middle East to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL). He remains in favor of U.S. airstrikes.
“If defeating ISIS requires our military to strike targets in Syria, the President should seek Congressional approval for these strikes, have the support of our allies, and ensure that strikes are conducted without coordinating with the Assad regime.”
McFadden’s statement comes the day after he supported a bill by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann to revoke the passports of U.S. citizens fighting with or assisting ISIS and other terror organizations. Federal authorities say upward of a dozen Somali men and three women from Minnesota have fled the country to fight alongside or aid extremists in the Middle East, and grand jury proceedings are underway to determine who is behind the terrorism recruitment efforts.
Last week, Franken called the Obama Administration’s lack of a strategy to take on ISIS “troubling” and called on Attorney General Eric Holder to focus Department of Justice resources on recruiting at home.
“ISIL is a barbaric terrorist organization that needs to be stopped from harming the United States. Sen. Franken wrote to the Justice Department last week to make sure that they are taking every step to identify, track and apprehend individuals fighting with ISIL.” Franken spokesoman Alexandra Fetissoff said.
Asked whether Franken backs Bachmann’s proposal, Fetissoff said: “The State Department already has the authority to revoke passports but Sen. Franken will look at any proposal that would make sure that individuals fighting with ISIL cannot return to this country.”
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