Signs of the Times

Pelosi: Fewer Babies = Stronger Economy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stirred up a hornet’s nest by promoting the idea of spending of millions of dollars on birth control and abortion as part of the economic stimulus package. “Contraception,” argued Pelosi, “will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.” Her comments came on ABC’s This Week when asked by host George Stephanopoulos how expanding “family-planning services” to the tune of millions of dollars will stimulate the economy.  “It’s quite shocking, actually, that the Speaker of the House — who claims to be Catholic — would go on national television and claim that contraception would reduce the cost to the government,” exclaims Susan Fani, director of communications for the Catholic League. “It’s just beyond words, really.” Pelosi has five children and six grandchildren. Catholic League president Bill Donohue finds her comments revealing. “We have reached a new low when high-ranking public office holders in the federal government cast children as the enemy,” he offers in a press statement. “But at least it explains their enthusiasm for abortion-on-demand.”

Ø JJ Commentary: This is the hidden mantra of the New World Order. The babies they want to eliminate are those born to the poor. The elitists don’t intend to take measures personally to minimize the number of babies.

Brown: Economic Crisis Represents Birth Pangs Of “New Global Order”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called Monday for the economic crisis to be used to create a “new global order,” and a new form of internationalism, a mantra that is becoming all too familiar as globalists exploit the very problem they created to centralize power into fewer hands. In a speech, he urged countries to avoid “muddling through as pessimists” and “make the necessary adjustment to a better future and setting the new rules for this new global order”, according to his office,” reports the Association for Financial Professionals. Brown argued against the risk that the crisis could “start a retreat from globalisation” and instead urged that it be seen as nothing more than “difficult birth-pangs of a new global order” Bilderberg member Brown has previously called for a “a new financial architecture for the global age”, stating that the Bretton Woods system devised after the second world war was out of touch with the new world order.

Israeli Warplanes hit Gaza Smuggling Tunnels

JERUSALEM (AP) — President Barack Obama’s new Mideast envoy sought Wednesday to boost a 10-day-old Gaza cease-fire that was thrown into turmoil, as Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza smuggling tunnels in retaliation for a Palestinian bombing that killed a soldier. As the Israeli Cabinet met to consider how far to go in its response to Tuesday’s bombing, U.S. envoy George Mitchell said it was “critical” that the cease-fire “be extended and consolidated.” Mitchell’s tour launches the first Mideast foray of the new Obama administration. Obama said his envoy would listen to all sides to then craft an approach for moving forward with stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The flare-up is the worst since Israel and Hamas separately declared cease-fires on Jan. 18 to end a three-week Israeli offensive against the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip. Since withdrawing its troops, Israel has threatened to retaliate hard for any violations of the informal truce.

Obama on Arab TV: ‘Americans are not Your Enemy’

CAIRO (AP) — President Obama on Tuesday chose an Arabic satellite TV network for his first formal television interview as president, delivering a message to the Muslim world that “Americans are not your enemy.” The interview underscored Obama’s commitment to repair relations with the Muslim world that have suffered under the previous administration. The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Obama said the U.S. had made mistakes in the past but “that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there’s no reason why we can’t restore that.”

Ø JJ Commentary: Just as Israel has learned the hard way, Islamic militants do not listen to nor care about reason or peace. Their jihad mission is to destroy Israel first and then subjugate the entire world to Islam. America remains the “Great Satan” for them regardless of how nice to them we might be.

NATO: 3,000 U.S. Troops Deploy near Afghan Capital

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Thousands of U.S. troops originally destined for Iraq have deployed south of Afghanistan’s capital in the first illustration of a new military focus on the increasingly difficult fight in the South Asian nation, NATO said Tuesday. Nearly 3,000 American soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y., moved into the provinces of Logar and Wardak to the south of Kabul, the military alliance said. They will serve as part of the 55,000-strong NATO force in the country. The latest deployment indicates the shifting focus in military operations from Iraq to Afghanistan, where the U.S. and its allies are trying to turn the tide of Taliban gains and prop up the government of embattled President Hamid Karzai. President Obama is expected to double the size of American troops in Afghanistan this year, as the country becomes one of his foreign policy priorities.

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that “we are lost” unless the United States can find a way not to kill so many civilians in the pursuit of militants in Afghanistan and that flooding the chaotic country with U.S. troops would be a disaster. “The civilian casualties are doing us an enormous harm in Afghanistan, and we have got to do better” to avoid innocent deaths, even though Taliban militants use civilians as cover, Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “My worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of the problem, rather than as part of their solution,” he added. “And then we are lost.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Expects Faster U.S. Pullout

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday he believes the United States will withdraw its troops more quickly than the three-year timeline set down in a U.S.-Iraq security agreement. An agreement negotiated under former President Bush’s administration called for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Baghdad and other cities by the end of June, with all American forces out of the country by the end of 2011. President Obama campaigned on a promise to remove all combat troops within 16 months and has asked the Pentagon to plan for “a responsible military drawdown from Iraq.” With planning underway, al-Maliki told a political rally south of Baghdad that he believes the end of the U.S. mission “will be brought forward” and that Iraq must bolster its own forces to meet the challenge after the Americans leave.

Russia Halts Missile Deployment in Europe ‘Because of Obama’

FOX NEWS —  Russia held out an olive branch to President Barack Obama today by suspending plans to deploy missiles in Europe, according to a report in Moscow. An official from Russia’s General Staff in Moscow told Interfax news that the move had been made because the new United States leadership was reconsidering plans to establish a missile defence shield in eastern Europe. Deployment of Iskander short-range missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads, was being suspended in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad in response, the unidentified official said.

Lobbying Spending Tops $3 billion in ’08

USA TODAY — Despite the sharp economic downturn, lobbying spending in the nation’s capital surged past $3 billion last year as industries and special-interest groups wooed Congress and federal agencies on a host of issues, including taxpayer bailouts for financial companies and automakers. The record $3.3 billion lobbying price tag is up from $2.9 billion in 2007 and is more than double what was spent four years ago, according to records compiled by the non-partisan CQ MoneyLine. “It’s an arms race,” said Massie Ritsch of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. “If your competitors are spending money on professional advocacy to play offense and defense in Washington, you feel you need to do the same.” Lobbying could soar to higher levels this year, he said, as Congress and President Obama hash out a $825 billion stimulus package that seeks to jump-start the economy with tax cuts and spending.

Ø JJ Commentary: Washington politics are badly diseased regardless of who is President.

Engineers Seek Stimulus Add-on for Crumbling Infrastructure

WASHINGTON — The USA’s infrastructure is crumbling and threatens the nation’s economic well-being, according to a new report by a top engineering group. A lack of investment in roads, bridges, mass transit and aviation means the cost of repair over the next five years has skyrocketed to $2.2 trillion, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In its last estimate four years ago, the cost was $1.6 trillion. The ASCE, which has 146,000 members worldwide, is the country’s oldest national engineering society. Overall, the 15 categories graded by the ASCE received an average grade of “D” or poor, the group said in a press release. The group rushed release of its report so it can be considered during debate Wednesday on the $825 billion economic stimulus package President Obama is pushing before Congress.

Consumer Confidence Sinks to All-Time Low

NEW YORK ( — A key measure of consumer confidence fell to an all-time low in January, according to a report released Tuesday. The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, said that its Consumer Confidence Index fell to 37.7 in January from the revised 38.6 reading in December. The month’s reading represents an all-time low going back to the index’s inception in 1967. “Consumers are losing a pretty big chunk of their net worth right now,” said Adam York, economic analyst at Wachovia. York said that loss is reflected in the value of their home and in their stock market portfolios. “It doesn’t feel good and, as a result, consumers are spending less and they are worried about the outlook for the U.S. economy and their own personal situation,” said York. “We are not surprised that consumers are pretty despondent.”

More Job Cuts/Layoffs

USA TODAY Pfizer announced plans to buy Wyeth for $68B and cut 8,000 jobs. Pfizer’s bid to buy rival Wyeth for $68 billion will create a gigantic drugmaker that provides traditional drugs such as Lipitor as well as newer biotech drugs and vaccines. Pfizer, the No. 1 drugmaker, said Monday that the largest pharmaceutical merger in eight years would create the world’s “premier biopharmaceutical” company, with $71 billion in annual revenue.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Corning said Tuesday it is cutting 3,500 jobs, or 13% of its payroll, as demand slumps for glass used in flat-screen televisions and computers. The specialty glass and ceramics maker, the world’s largest maker of liquid crystal display glass, announced the cutbacks as its fourth-quarter profit plunged 65%.

USA TODAY — “Some of the worst job losses are ahead of us, not behind us,” says Wells Fargo senior economist Scott Anderson. He expects 3 million Americans to lose their jobs in 2009 — up from the 2.6 million who were cut last year, which was the most since 1945, the final year of World War II. The layoffs are happening in “all industries in all areas of the world,” Anderson says.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With the recession forcing tech companies to announce thousands of layoffs, IBM is joining the fray — but not advertising it. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company has cut thousands of jobs over the past week, including positions in sales and the software and hardware divisions. IBM says the cuts are simply part of its ongoing efforts to watch costs, and the company won’t release specific numbers, even as reports of firings stream in from IBM facilities across the country.

NEW YORK TIMES — Texas Instruments said late in the day Monday that it would eliminate 3,400 jobs, or 12 percent of its work force.

Obama Orders More Fuel-Efficient Cars by 2011

USA TODAY — President Obama’s initiative Monday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost fuel efficiency in new vehicles would cut costs for consumers and prod carmakers to more quickly roll out greener cars, some analysts say. Obama ordered the Transportation Department to boost fuel-efficiency standards for 2011 model cars. He also told the Environmental Protection Agency to re-examine whether California should be granted a waiver to become the first state to impose greenhouse gas limits on new vehicles, reversing Bush administration policy. The state wants to slash emissions in new cars and light trucks an average 30% by 2016. At least a dozen other states joined the petition. Obama didn’t order the EPA to grant the waiver, but it’s expected to. The initiative “will make us less dependent on the oil that endangers our security, our economy and our planet,” Obama said. The auto industry says it would be hard-pressed to meet tougher mandates and argues the moves could narrow car-buying options.

FDA: Peanut Processor found Salmonella, Shipped Anyway

USA TODAY — The government Tuesday accused the peanut butter manufacturer tied to a nationwide salmonella outbreak of shipping products in 2007 and 2008 after internal tests found bacterial contamination, violating food safety regulations. Peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) has been tied to the salmonella outbreak that has sickened 501 people in 43 states and is believed to have contributed to eight deaths. The Food and Drug Administration said that its inspection of the PCA plant in Blakely, Ga., found records of 12 instances in which plant officials identified salmonella in ingredients of finished products. The products should not have been shipped, the FDA says. PCA took no steps to address cleaning after finding the salmonella, says Michael Rogers, director of the FDA’s division of field investigations.

Study: High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

HEALTHDAY — Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where high-fructose corn syrup is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies. high-fructose corn syrup has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of high-fructose corn syrup, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80% more than average. “Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

Iceland Forced to Form New Government

Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, whose government is in the middle of a crisis, says he has asked the country’s center-left Social Democratic Alliance Party to form a new government. The announcement came one day after the island nation’sruling coalition broke apart, making it the first government to fall as a result of the world financial crisis. It may not be the last. Iceland’s case is unique because the tiny country’s entire banking system collapsed in October, decimating the value of the life savings of most residents on the island. Still, other countries in Europe are experiencing political unrest because of the global economic downturn.

Fiji Leader Told to Hold Elections, Restore Democracy; Uganda Rebels Kill 620

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — South Pacific leaders on Tuesday demanded Fiji’s military regime hold elections to restore democracy by the end of the year or face tough sanctions, including the withholding of aid money. The ultimatum aimed at Commodore Frank Bainimarama, chief of the country’s armed forces, marked a sharp escalation in the international push to force the military from power after more than two years of broken promises. It came even as Bainimarama issued a defiant challenge to his opponents, telling his troops in Fiji’s capital that it could be 10 years before he gives up power. If Bainimarama does not comply, Fiji will be suspended from all of the regional bloc’s meetings and lose out on development funding until democratic government is restored. “More than two years of rule by an unelected military government, with no clear timetable for the return of constitutional government to the people, is not acceptable by international standards,” the leaders said.

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Ugandan rebels in eastern Congo have ruthlessly killed at least 620 people in the past month, and vulnerable civilians in the region desperately need protection, human rights groups said. Human Rights Watch said many of the attacks carried out by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels appeared to have been premeditated, and victims’ skulls were crushed with wooden bats and axes. After the massacre, the rebels “ate the Christmas feast the villagers had prepared, and then slept among the dead bodies before continuing on their trail of destruction and death” through another 12 villages. The Lord’s Resistance Army has fought in northern Uganda for two decades, and rights groups have accused it of cutting off the lips of civilians and forcing thousands of children to serve as soldiers or sex slaves. The conflict has spilled into Sudan and Congo.

Ø JJ Commentary: Purported revivals in Fiji and Uganda have fizzled out. Were they even real?

Recent Sri Lanka Fighting has Killed over 300 Civilians

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A Sri Lankan health official says recent artillery shelling and heavy fighting in the north has killed more than 300 civilians and wounded more than 1,000 others. Dr. Thurairajah Varatharajah revealed the figures in a desperate appeal to the government and aid groups for medicine and blood transfusions for those injured in the fighting. Varatharajah is the top health official in the region.

China Reports Fifth Bird Flu Death this Year

BEIJING (AP) — An 18-year-old man died from bird flu Monday in southern China, the fifth human death from the virus in the country this year, state media reported. The Health Ministry said after the earlier deaths this month that there is no evidence of a large-scale outbreak of bird flu. It said the illnesses were isolated, unrelated and did not show significant mutations of the H5N1 virus. While the disease remains hard for humans to catch, scientists have warned if outbreaks among poultry are not controlled, the virus may mutate into a form more easily passed between people, possibly triggering a pandemic that could kill millions worldwide.

Ice, Snow Wreak Broad Swath of Havoc

USA TODAY — A storm brought snow and ice from Oklahoma to Maryland on Tuesday, causing hundreds of car wrecks and leaving thousands of homes with no heat. The weight of a coat of inch-thick ice on trees caused limbs to snap and disable hundreds of utility wires in Arkansas and Oklahoma. About 150,000 customers were without power in northern Arkansas, according to the state’s Department of Emergency Management. The deaths of 19 people were blamed on the storm, the Associated Press said. Most of the deaths were from accidents. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said about 900 accidents were reported. Arkansas State Police reported 200 accidents statewide by 7 a.m. There were dozens of accidents in Louisville, which received up to 3 inches of snow.

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