Arizona Senate Approves Abortion Restrictions

The Arizona Senate voted 16-12 Tuesday to require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions and to increase penalties for a controversial late-term procedure the bill calls “partial-birth abortion.” In addition to the waiting period, the bill would require physicians performing abortions to inform their patients about risks and alternatives to the procedure. The bill would also give doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals the right to refuse to participate in an abortion or to prescribe emergency contraception Led by the Republican majority, the Senate voted to pass the new restrictions on abortion and send them to the desk of Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer has a very consistent pro-life track record, suggesting the bills could be headed for approval. Passing further restrictions on abortion has been a priority of Republican leadership for years, but former Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed every bill on the subject that came to her desk.

Senators Get 75,000 Letters Opposing Hate Crime Bill

A special Fed Ex campaign to warn U.S. Senate members of the dangers of the “hate crimes” plan scheduled for a hearing this week dispatched more than 705,000 letters to senators. But opponents of the proposal say while the letter campaign has concluded, voters still need to be aware of the dangers of the legislation that will be the subject of a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday at 10 a.m. The letter-writing effort was organized by WND columnist Janet Porter, who also heads the Faith2Action Christian ministry. It allowed citizens to send individually addressed letters to all 100 senators over their own “signature” for only $10.95.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide special protections to homosexuals, essentially designating them as a “protected class.” However, it would leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual person. Sources working with senators opposing the legislation say the letter campaign has shaken up the dynamics of the debate. “This bill was supposed to sail through the Senate, but it suddenly has become much more controversial as a result of all these letters,” one source said.

Rick Warren to New Anglican Church: God Loves Everyone

Christians must show love to all people, even if they don’t support their values, evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren on Tuesday told breakaway Episcopalians and other Anglicans splitting from their national church over gay clergy and other issues. “We are to love the people of the world no matter what they believe; we are to not love the value system of the world. And the problem today is lot of Christians are getting that reversed. They love the value system and hate the people,” Warren told the crowd of 800 under a large tent on the lawn of St. Vincent’s Episcopal Cathedral Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Bedford. “God has never met a person he didn’t love.”

This week’s meeting is the first national assembly for the Anglican Church in North America, formed by theological conservatives as a rival to the U.S. Episcopal Church. On Monday, delegates approved a constitution and church law for the new group. Warren has extended support before to conservative Episcopalians and Anglicans and has offered space to seceding Episcopalians at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Episcopalians have been arguing for decades over how to interpret what the Bible says about issues ranging from salvation to gay relationships. The rift blew wide open in 2003 when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The new church includes four breakaway Episcopal dioceses, individual parishes in the U.S. and Canada, and splinter groups that left the Anglican family years or decades ago. Leaders estimate the new entity includes 100,000 members in 700 parishes.

  • Speaking the truth in love, as the Bible exhorts, is a difficult tightrope to walk, but Warren is right. We must first love our neighbor, including our enemies, and then stand boldly against increasingly immoral standards and behavior in the world.

Survivalism Growing in Phoenix Area

As the recession lingers, some Phoenix-area residents are shifting attention from their financial troubles, including falling home values and shrinking retirement savings, to stockpiling food and ammo. They worry the economic turmoil could lead to skyrocketing inflation, food scarcity, even violence. To prepare, they are forming social-networking groups to discuss how to store grains, purify water, plant gardens and, if needed, shoot guns. These people are joining thousands nationwide who are studying survival tactics far from the backwoods bunkers associated with “survivalists.” At least two survival-related groups have formed in Phoenix since December, and groups with varying outlooks and politics have sprouted nationally from Kentucky to New York. The newbies stand out from the military personnel and outdoor enthusiasts who used to be the only ones shopping for rugged clothing, rations or canteens.

ABC News Airing Day-long ObamaCare Infomercial

President Obama is trying to put our nation on the fast track to socialized health care, and on Wednesday, June 24, the ABC network will help him sell this bill of goods to the American people.  ABC News will transform the White House into their newsroom for what has been described as an unabashed infomercial promoting the Democrat agenda—more specifically, government-run health care. ABC News has abandoned all pretense of journalistic integrity in its bid to be the administration’s official salesman for ObamaCare. ABC flatly rejected Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay’s request to add opposition views to ensure all sides of the health care debate were represented in the “town hall” forum. Not only that, ABC News Vice President Kerry Smith responded by saying, “ABC News alone will select those who will be in the audience asking questions of the President.”

  • Mainstream media is controlled by the New World (Dis)Order folks, and Obama is their chosen messiah, so what else would we expect?

Strong Disapproval of Obama Growing

More Americans now “strongly disapprove” of Barack Obama’s performance as president than “strongly approve,” according to the most recent Rasmussen poll. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 33 percent of respondents “strongly approve” of Obama’s performance on the job so far, but 34 percent “strongly disapprove.” Overall, 45 percent of voters disapprove, while 54 percent say they at least somewhat approve.

  • There will continue to be those who blindly adore Obama, but the luster is fading for those who have their eyes open to the damage he is inflicting on our once free, Christian nation.

Employer Use of E-Verify Rising

The voluntary federal E-Verify program has seen a rapid growth in use this year, Department of Homeland Security records show. More than 1,000 employers are signing up each week on average, and employment checks are approaching 200,000 a week. Halfway through this year 5.5 million worker checks have been made by employers through the E-Verify online service. In 2008, 6.6 million checks were made, twice the number in 2007. The approximately 129,000 participating employers, representing half a million business locations, remain a tiny portion of the national total, however. In all, about 6 million businesses employ more than 115 million people in the USA.

1 in 5 Teens ‘Sext’ Despite Risks

A new survey on kids in cyberspace finds that one in five teens have “sexted” — sent or received sexually suggestive, nude or nearly nude photos through cellphone text messages or e-mail. Most teens who sexted sent the photos to girlfriends or boyfriends, but 11% sent them to strangers, according to the study made public today by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications. Of teens who sext, 80% are under 18, the survey found. Most teens are online: 91% have an e-mail address, and 60% have an instant-message screen name. Nearly three-quarters have a cellphone, and 72% have profiles on social networking sites. Although teens say they recognize the dangers of sharing personal information online, they do it anyway. One in four teens say they know someone who had a bad experience because of information posted on the Internet. A bad experience can range from having a sext forwarded around school to being sexually victimized.

Judge Orders Teen to Continue Chemotherapy

A 13-year-old boy with cancer who fled Minnesota last month to avoid chemotherapy must continue getting the treatment because it appears to be working, a judge ruled Tuesday. The ruling came as court documents showed that Daniel Hauser’s tumor had shrunk significantly after a recent round of chemotherapy. Daniel’s parents are still concerned about the risks of chemotherapy, which they initially had rejected for religious reasons, saying it harms the body. Rodenberg ruled that the boy from Sleepy Eye is still in need of child protection services, agreeing with Brown County prosecutor James Olson that the case should stay in court.

E. Coli in Nestle Cookie Dough Stumps FDA

Federal officials plan to stay in a Virginia food plant associated with a national food-borne outbreak “as long as it takes” to solve this mystery: How did E. coli O157:H7, most commonly associated with raw hamburger, get in refrigerated cookie dough? The outbreak appears to be linked to consuming uncooked Nestlé refrigerated and frozen Toll House cookie dough products. It has sickened 70 people nationwide, 30 of whom have been hospitalized. Nestlé has recalled all product produced at the plant and suspended operations there. But cookies made from refrigerated dough are safe to eat, Nestlé says. The company notes that the instructions “clearly state that the raw dough must be baked before consumption.”

Swine H1N1 Flu

The Philippine House of Representatives suspended operations Tuesday for five days after news that the country’s first swine flu-related fatality worked at the legislature. Australia reported its second swine flu-related death — the third for the Asia-Pacific region. Malaysia shuttered another school in efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic flu virus.

French police say 24 children in primary school and pre-kindergarten at two southwest Paris schools have swine flu. The statement says the first cases turned up Thursday in a class of 10- and 11-year-olds that recently traveled to Britain. France has had relatively few swine flu cases, with 150 cases nationwide confirmed as of Thursday, and no deaths.

First Lady Launches Summer Volunteering Initiative

First lady Michelle Obama fired up about 4,500 of America’s volunteers in San Francisco Monday, telling them, “We have an administration that understands service is the key to achieving our national priorities.” The first lady asked those attending the National Conference on Volunteering and Service to join the United We Serve initiative she and the president officially launched Monday. The program will run through Sept. 11, a new national day of service and remembrance of those who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks. And while the summer of service is a beginning, the first lady said, “it is really just a preview of what’s to come — a new era of civic engagement.” Obama called on those in attendance to lead the nation into the new era.

  • Laudatory goals, but sheer rhetoric thus far.

Lost Jobs Forcing More Out of Homes

The nation’s foreclosure crisis — once largely confined to only a few corners of the country — is spreading to new areas as the economy teeters. The foreclosure rates in 40 of the nation’s counties that have the most households have already doubled from last year, a USA TODAY analysis of data from the listing firm RealtyTrac shows. Most were in areas far removed from the avalanche of bad mortgages and lost homes that have hammered the U.S. housing market. Unlike the foreclosure wave that began in 2007 and was driven by risky subprime loans, the latest increases are the result of the recession, which brought a sharp rise in unemployment across the country. Nationwide, RealtyTrac says the number of default notices, auctions and repossessions was nearly 18% higher last month than in May 2008, though it dropped slightly from April.

States Turning to Last Resorts to Resolve Budget Crises

With state revenues in a free fall and the economy choked by the worst recession in 60 years, governors and legislatures are approving program cuts, layoffs and, to a smaller degree, tax increases that were previously unthinkable., The New York Times reports. All but four states must have new budgets in place less than two weeks from now — by July 1, the start of their fiscal year. But most are already predicting shortfalls as tax collections shrink, unemployment rises and the stock market remains in turmoil. In Hawaii, state employees are bracing for furloughs of three days a month over the next two years, the equivalent of a 14 percent pay cut. In Idaho, lawmakers reduced aid to public schools for the first time in recent memory, forcing pay cuts for teachers. And in California, where a $24 billion deficit for the coming fiscal year is the nation’s worst, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed releasing thousands of prisoners early and closing more than 200 state parks. Meanwhile, Maine is adding a tax on candy, Wisconsin on oil companies, and Kentucky on alcohol and cellphone ring tones.

  • While Obama hasn’t directly increased taxes, his policies are forcing states to do it for him. With the unprecedented debt levels and the refusal to shrink government programs, increasing taxes is the only option left.

Economic News

Sales of previously owned homes in the United States rose at a slower-than-expected pace in May, an industry survey showed Tuesday, pointing to a sluggish recovery from the severe economic recession The National Association of Realtors said sales rose 2.4% to an annual rate of 4.77 million units from 4.66 million pace in April. Sales increased for a second straight month, first back-to-back monthly gain since September 2005. The median price of homes sold in May was just $173,000, a 16.8% year-over-year drop.

Orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose sharply for a second straight month in May. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that demand for durable goods rose 1.8% last month. It matched the rise in April, with both months posting the best performance since December 2007, when the recession began. The back-to-back monthly gains in orders for durable goods, or items expected to last at least three years, were further evidence that a dismal stretch for U.S. manufacturers may be nearing an end.

Ford Motor, Nissan and Tesla were awarded a combined $8 billion in loans Tuesday under an Energy Department program aimed at preserving jobs and improving vehicle fuel efficiency. The low-interest loans will be used for U.S.-based projects in Tennessee, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. For Ford, with its bonds at junk status, the loans offer financing at an interest rate that is much lower than it could get on the open market.

General Motors has notified its U.S. white-collar workers that it plans to cut about 4,000 more jobs by the end of the year. GM already has cut about 2,600 salaried jobs this year. It plans to reduce its salaried work force from just over 27,000 to 23,500 by Dec. 31.

Social-networking site MySpace said Tuesday it plans to cut 300 jobs, or two-thirds of its overseas work force, in an effort to rein in costs and focus on countries where it has many users and better business opportunities. MySpace has 34 localized versions in 28 countries.

Burqas Not Welcome’ in France

French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared Monday that the Islamic burqa is not welcome in France, branding the face-covering, body-length gown as a symbol of subservience that suppresses women’s identities and turns them into “prisoners behind a screen,” some of the strongest language against burqas from a European leader at a time when some Western officials have been seeking to ease tensions with the Muslim world. But there was a mixed message in the tough words: an admission that the country’s long-held principle of ethnic assimilation — which insists that newcomers shed their traditions and adapt to French culture — is failing because it doesn’t give immigrants and their French-born children a fair chance. France is home to Western Europe’s largest population of Muslims, estimated at about 5 million. A top official with the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella organization for British Muslim groups, accused Sarkozy of “divisive politics,” and said his comments could fan an “Islamophobic reaction” in Europe.

U.S., Kyrgyzstan Agree on Airbase Deal

The United States has agreed to more than triple the rent it pays for use of a key air base in Kyrgyzstan to ship non-lethal military supplies to Afghanistan under a deal approved Tuesday by a Kyrgyz parliamentary committee. The accord to use the Manas base as a “center of transit shipments” comes four months after the Central Asian nation ordered the eviction of U.S. troops. It falls short of U.S. hopes of maintaining the base as a full-fledged military facility. But it would provide a much-needed logistical support base as the U.S.-led coalition ramps up operations against increasingly bold Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.

Iran’s Elections Foment Discord

Iran’s top electoral body said Tuesday it found “no major fraud” and will not annul the results of the presidential election, closing the door to a do-over sought by angry opposition supporters alleging systematic vote-rigging. Government warnings to the protesters have intensified. At least 17 people have been killed in near-daily demonstrations, including at least one demonstration that drew hundreds of thousands. Iran’s most powerful oversight council announced on Monday that the number of votes recorded in 50 cities exceeded the number of eligible voters there by three million, further tarnishing a presidential election that has set off the most sustained challenge to Iran’s leadership in 30 years. Even as the powerful Guardian Council acknowledged some irregularities in the June 12 election, it insisted that the overall vote was valid.

The wife of Iranian opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi called for the immediate release of detained protesters as her husband was to appear at a mass protest outside the country’s parliament. Rahnavard has raised eyebrows in Tehran for campaigning alongside her husband in the conservative state, and emerged as an important asset in her husband’s campaign.

Iraq Violence Increases before Troop Withdrawal Deadline

Bombings and shootings killed at least 33 people in Baghdad and surrounding areas on Monday, including a group of high school students on a bus headed for final exams, as violence intensified before a planned withdrawal next week of U.S. troops from urban areas. Overall violence has declined drastically over the past two years, but the recent attacks have raised concerns about the Shiite-dominated government’s ability to provide security around the country without the immediate help of the U.S. troops remaining in Iraq. More than 100 people have died in three days of bloodletting, mostly from bombings but also from shootings.

N. Korean Cargo Ship Tests U.N. Sanctions

An American destroyer was tailing a North Korean ship suspected of transporting weapons toward Burma. The sailing sets up the first test of a new U.N. Security Council resolution that authorizes member states to inspect North Korean vessels suspected of carrying banned weapons or materials. The sanctions are punishment for an underground nuclear test the North carried out last month in defiance of past resolutions. The North has said it would consider any interception “an act of war.”

Somalia Declares State of Emergency

Somalia’s president declared a state of emergency Monday as his fragile, U.N.-backed government struggles to quash a deadly Islamic insurgency. Somalia’s government is under attack by militants who want to topple the administration and install a strict Islamic state. A surge in violence in recent weeks, which diplomats said is a major push by the insurgents to force the government out of its Mogadishu strongholds, has killed nearly 200 civilians. Last week, the national security minister and Mogadishu’s police chief were among those killed.

Sudan Faces Permanent Humanitarian Emergency

The Christian Post reports that Sudan may not physically recover from its catastrophic past for years to come, according to a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations. “Sudan faces a lot of challenges,” Catholic Bishop Eduardo Kussala of Tombura Yambio said. “There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis. People don’t have access to healthcare, education, water and protection from high levels of violence.” Malnutrition in south Sudan is at 16 percent, and hundreds of thousands of refugees rely almost exclusively on aid groups for food, shelter and medical care. The country also has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate. “We need to be very vigilant … and make sure the live-saving gaps are filled,” said John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs.

Sri Lankans Face Long Road to Normalcy

Christian Today reports that Sri Lanka’s refugee population will face difficult situations for some time, as aid agencies struggle to provide bare essentials. An estimated 300,000 people were displaced by Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, most of whom remain in refugee camps. The massive numbers have forced overcrowding, poor diet and water shortages within the camps. Tony Senewiratne, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka said, “I believe that the people in the camps are having a really tough time despite all that people are doing to alleviate the situation.” A World Concern worker reports that the dry season has brought new challenges in water distribution as the country’s wells dry up. “This is not going to change in the short term,” Senewiratne said.

Indian Central Government to Block Anti-Conversion Bill

ASSIST News Service reports that the Indian central government is planning to block anti-conversion bills cropping up throughout the states, but the response is not uniform. The bills have been introduced by nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state governments throughout India. P. Chidambaram, the Home Minister of India, has decided to take a firm stand against the controversial anti-religious conversion bill. But the response is different for various state governments. The bills’ broad provisions ban conversion by “force or fraud or inducement” and make it punishable. But all this, the central government says, is a violation of the freedom of religion as laid down in the constitution.

Earthquakes

A strong earthquake jolted urban areas of Alaska on Monday, sending people diving under desks and huddling in doorways. The U.S. Geological Survey said an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.7 struck near the town of Willow at 11:28 a.m. Monday. The epicenter was 58 miles from the state’s largest city, Anchorage, where the rumbled continued for several moments. There are no immediate reports of damage or injury. Aftershocks were shaking the area, with one about a half-hour later measuring 4.1.

Weather

Hundreds of motorists may have to wait till Wednesday to retrieve their cars from the Ionia County fairgrounds, where the flooding Grand River enveloped a parking lot during a music festival. Western Michigan got up to eight inches of rain during the weekend thunderstorms that spawned three tornadoes and knocked out power to at least 135,000 homes and businesses.

State highway officials say a two half-mile sections in the left lane of Interstate 55 southbound between Hammond and Independence, Louisiana, have been closed after the road buckled under continued “excessive heat.”

The tropical tempest Andres strengthened into the Pacific season’s first hurricane Tuesday, flooding homes, toppling trees and killing at least one person as it swiped Mexico’s southwestern coast with wind and rain.

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