Praise Reports

There’s a secret in Hollywood that most folks haven’t heard yet. But studio executives, agents and lawyers know all about it. It turns out that R-rated flicks aren’t the ones that make the big money. In 2008, PG and PG-13 films took in more than $8 billion for the entertainment industry, while R-rated movies brought in just under $2 billion. The top 10 money-making films in 2008 were all either PG or PG-13 movies.

Barack Obama’s presidency seems to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States. Two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, and the percentage of blacks who say so has doubled since last July, according to the latest New York Times/ CBS News poll. Despite that, half of blacks still say whites have a better chance of getting ahead in American society, the poll found. Black Americans remain among the president’s staunchest supporters; 70 percent of black respondents now say the country is headed in the right direction, compared with 34 percent of whites.

Swine Flu

The death toll from suspected swine flu cases in Mexico, the country at the center of the outbreak spreading into the USA and around the world, rose to 149, with 1,614 sickened. Spain on Monday became the first nation outside North America to confirm a case of swine flu. The health minister in New Zealand says they have 11 confirmed cases of swine flu, the first in Asia region. Canada has six confirmed cases. The number of confirmed swine flu cases worldwide rose to 73.

Five states have confirmed 50 cases swine flu. The largest cluster is emerging in a New York City Catholic school, where more than 150 students became ill. New York City on Monday reported 28 confirmed cases of swine flu, all among students from St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. Several students there spent spring break in Mexico. California has 13 confirmed cases. Texas has six confirmed cases. New Jersey health officials say they’ve identified five probable cases of swine flu in people who recently traveled to Mexico.

The World Health Organization raised its pandemic-alert level to 4 from 3 on a scale of 6, meaning the likelihood of a pandemic has increased but is not yet inevitable.

  • Keep in mind that pestilence is a strong player in the end-time scenario

Swine Flu a Militarized Weapon?

There is some speculation that the swine flu could be a genetically altered, human-produced virus that either escaped a lab by mistake or on purpose. GeoStrategic Trends reports that scientists and virologists are baffled because the genetic makeup of the virus contains elements of human, swine and bird flu from three geographic regions: North America, Europe and Asia. Until now, this has been unknown in nature, but not theoretically impossible.

Swine Flu Could Paralyze Travel Industry

For an ailing global travel industry, swine flu couldn’t have erupted at a worse time.. The U.S. government Monday urged Americans to cancel travel to Mexico if not essential. The European Union health commissioner urged Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to parts of the United States and Mexico affected by the potentially deadly flu and holiday tour operators from Germany and Japan canceled charter flights to Mexico. Russia, Hong Kong and Taiwan said visitors returning from flu-affected areas with fevers would be quarantined, while countries from New Zealand to Israel quickly instituted new security measures at airports and put sick travelers under observation.

Swine Flu Vaccine Would Take Months to Develop

World Health Organization officials say we are more prepared for a potential flu pandemic than we were five years ago. Yet, if the decision is made to create a vaccine for this flu strain, it will still likely take months before it’s available. The current vaccine-making processes are multi-step recipes that begin in the molecular biology labs of international and national health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “To have vaccines ready, you really have to be preparing six to eight months in advance,” disease specialist P.J. Brennan says.

Pandemic-Preparedness Money Stripped from Stimulus Bill

Congress stripped nearly $900 million to combat an influenza pandemic from the economic-stimulus package earlier this year as part of last-minute negotiations to gain GOP support for the plan. Now, with the spread of a potentially deadly strain of the swine flu, public-health advocates and liberal bloggers are sharply criticizing the move. “It was a short-sighted decision,” Robert Pestronk, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said of the cut. The lack of federal funds and recession-fueled budget cuts at the state level have “reduced the ability of state and local governments to cope” with spreading swine-flu infections, he said.

U.S. Regulatory Czar Nominee Wants Net ‘Fairness Doctrine’

Barack Obama’s nominee for “regulatory czar” has advocated a “Fairness Doctrine” for the Internet that would require opposing opinions be linked and also has suggested angry e-mails should be prevented from being sent by technology that would require a 24-hour cooling off period. Obama’s friend from the University of Chicago Law School and nominee to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs also has argued in his prolific literary works that the Internet is anti-democratic because of the way users can filter out information of their own choosing. “A system of limitless individual choices, with respect to communications, is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government,” he wrote. “Democratic efforts to reduce the resulting problems ought not be rejected in freedom’s name.”

  • This is almost too absurd to believe. If true, our decline into totalitarianism is becoming more and more likely.

Mexican Illegals Do a U-Turn

A stumbling U.S. economy, along with increased enforcement aimed at illegal aliens and companies that employ them, is causing many Mexicans to head back south for good, experts say. The sea change has Mexican officials inundated with requests from their countrymen looking for instructions on how to ship their property back to Mexico and secure Mexican citizenship for children born in America. “We estimate that the U.S. population of illegal aliens dropped by about 11% [last year], adding up to about 1.3 million fewer illegal aliens in the United States,” Steven A. Carmarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies told Newsmax. “If this trend were to continue, we expect the population of illegal immigrants would be cut in half in five years.”

Economic News

Consumer confidence soared in April amid hopeful signs that the U.S. economy is starting to stabilize. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose 12 points to 39.2, from a revised 26.9 in March. The reading marks the highest point since November. The expectations index, which measures how shoppers feel about the economy over the next six months, skyrocketed to 49.5 from 30.2 in March. A score of 100 is considered normal.

Earlier Tuesday, a housing index showed that home prices dropped sharply in February, but for the first time in 25 months the decline was not a record — another sign the housing crisis could be bottoming. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 major cities was down 18.6% from February 2008, slightly better than the 19% in January.

Pakistan

Pakistan warned militants Tuesday to leave a district just 60 miles from the capital or face military action, an indication that the government may be willing to expand an offensive in the Afghan border region covered by a much-criticized peace deal. Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s stern comments came amid heightened U.S. pressure on the nuclear-armed Muslim nation to root out militants on its soil, though he and other Pakistani leaders have denied bowing to outside influence. The peace deal with Taliban militants covers the Swat Valley. It imposes Islamic law in Swat, Buner, Dir and other districts that make up the Malakand division, a vast tract not far from Afghanistan. U.S. officials fear the deal creates a sanctuary for al-Qaeda allies.

Strong Earthquake Near Mexico City

A strong earthquake struck central Mexico on Monday, swaying tall buildings in the capital and sending office workers into the streets. The 6.0-magnitude quake was centered near Chilpancingo, about 130 miles southwest of Mexico City and 50 miles from the resort of Acapulco, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Weather

The National Weather Service says a tornado has damaged more than 20 buildings north of Austin, Texas. Winds between 85 and 95 mph downed trees that fell onto the homes. Another tornado collapsed a roof at a school building in Corsicana. School was in session but no one was hurt.

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