Muslims in Somalia Turning to Christ
Christians in Somalia are remaining strong, despite an increase in persecution. About 99 percent of Somalia is Muslim. It is estimated there are anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 Christians in the country. Currently, a terrorist group linked with al-Qaida is trying to overthrow the government and impose the most extreme form of Islam. Jerry Dykstra of Open Doors USA says although Christians face harsh conditions, inroads are being made. “Many of Somalia’s Christians have come to the faith from Islam, so they are Muslim-background believers — and many have done that [come to Christ] through signs and miracles,” Dykstra notes. Earlier this month, seven Christian men in Somalia were killed by Muslim terrorists.
Falwell Boldly Delivers House Invocation in Jesus’ Name
Rev. Jonathan Falwell has followed his father’s footsteps to Washington, delivering the opening prayer Wednesday for the U.S. House of Representatives. Falwell took over as pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, after his father, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, died in 2007. During his prayer, Jonathan Falwell asked God to forgive the nation’s sins and guide its leaders. “We know as our forefathers knew and as the scriptures tell us that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” Falwell prayed. “And so today we ask Your forgiveness for the sins that we as a people and we as a nation have committed. We seek Your wisdom and Your guidance in all that takes place in this room. We ask You to be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Above all, we ask You to continue to bless this great land that we call home.” He then concluded his prayer in Jesus’ name.
New York Times/CBS News Poll shows Support for Obama/Healthcare Eroding
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Obama’s job approval rating has dropped 10 points, to 58 percent, from a high point in April. And despite his efforts — in speeches, news conferences, town-hall-style meetings and other forums — to address public misgivings, 69 percent of respondents in the poll said they were concerned that the quality of their own care would decline if the government created a program that covers everyone.
House Blue Dogs Strike Healthcare Deal
After weeks of turmoil, House Democrats reached a shaky peace with the party’s rebellious rank-and-file ‘Blue Dog’ conservatives Wednesday and cleared the way for a vote in September on sweeping health care legislation. The House changes, which drew immediate opposition from liberals in the chamber, would reduce the federal subsidies designed to help lower-income families afford insurance, exempt additional businesses from a requirement to offer insurance to their workers and change the terms of a government insurance option. Bipartisan Senate negotiators reported progress, too, on a bill to extend coverage to 95 percent of all Americans without raising federal deficits. “We’re on the edge, we’re almost there,” said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican involved in the secretive Senate talks. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Finance Committee, said preliminary estimates from congressional budget experts showed the cost of the emerging Senate plan was below $900 billion and would result in an increase in employer-sponsored insurance — conclusions that may reassure critics who fear a bloated bill that prompts businesses to abandon the coverage they currently provide.
In a dramatic reversal, an pro-life amendment to a health overhaul bill was voted down in a House committee late Thursday night. The measure had passed the panel just hours earlier. The amendment said the healthcare bill may not impose requirements for coverage of abortion, except in limited cases. The Energy and Commerce Committee approved it in an initial vote, after conservative Democrats joined Republicans to support it. But committee Chairman Henry Waxman )D-California), invoked House rules that allowed him to bring up the amendment for a second vote, despite Republican objections. That time, one conservative Democrat changed his vote from “yes” to “no.” And a second conservative Democrat who hadn’t voted the first time voted “no.” It was enough to take down the amendment by a one-vote margin, 30-29.
Biased Networks Give Healthcare Positive Spin
A conservative media watchdog organization says Barack Obama cannot blame the liberal news media for the stall of his big government healthcare plan in Congress. A new study by the Media Research Center‘s (MRC) Business and Media Institute (BMI) found that broadcast coverage during the first six months of 2009 tilted heavily in favor of Obama’s big government healthcare reform plan. Rich Noyes, director of research at the MRC, explains what their efforts revealed. “What we found most interesting was that 70 percent of the sound bites on ABC, CBS, and NBC were pro-Obama healthcare.” Despite the overwhelming positive coverage, Noyes notes much of the public is not buying the Obama healthcare proposal, with one survey indicating that 75% believe “this scheme will put healthcare at risk.”
Americans Spend $34 Billion on Alternative Health Care
While Americans may complain about the high cost of health care, they’re still willing to shell out roughly $34 billion a year out-of-pocket on alternative therapies that aren’t covered by insurance, a new study shows. That’s a growth of more than 25% in the past decade, says an in-person survey of 23,000 Americans from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health. Alternative therapies, which range from herbs to yoga classes, now account for 11% of the total amount that Americans spend out-of-pocket on all health care. The bulk of these expenses, $22 billion, go to “self care,” or treatments such as homeopathic medications and fish oil capsules that people buy without a health practitioner’s advice, the study says. Many people combine conventional and “complementary” approaches.
Prop. 8 Battle Delayed till 2012
The campaign to overturn California’s Proposition 8, which protects traditional marriage, is in a holding pattern. Wealthy homosexual activists are reportedly not willing to put up the money to conduct a petition drive and support an expensive campaign to try to overturn Prop. 8 in 2010. It appears they are targeting 2012 instead. “And when they do, they’ll be in a much better position strategically and possibly even in the polls at that time,” says Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. “So, what’s required now is [that] those who believe in Proposition 8, those who believe in traditional marriage, should be vigilant, stay alert, and by no means count the battle over. It’s just simply been delayed.”
Dems Exempt Themselves from Pay-Go Rules
A taxpayer watchdog group is blasting House Democrats for already failing to adhere to their recently enacted “pay as you go” budget rules. ust a week after House Democrats adopted pay-as-you-go (“pay-go”) budget rules, they voted to borrow more than $14 billion from the Treasury to shore up federal highway and unemployment trust funds to help states during the month of August. Pete Sepp, vice president for policy at the National Taxpayers Union, accuses Democrats of only adhering to pay-go budget rules when it suits their own political ends. It is disingenuous for Democrats to boast fiscal discipline when they are exempting their $1 trillion healthcare legislation from pay-go rules, according to Sepp.
Illegal Immigrant Population in Arizona Drops by a Third
The number of illegal immigrants living in Arizona has plunged by one-third in the past two years amid a dismal job market and stiffer enforcement of immigration laws, according to researchers who released a new report. Arizona saw the largest decline of any state, according to researchers at the Center for Immigration Studies, following years of steady growth. The loss of illegal immigrants has had ramifications for the Arizona economy, with some saying the exodus means less of a drain on taxpayer services and others saying the loss has hurt businesses and tax revenue. Last week, Chandler-based Bashas’ Supermarkets closed three Food City stores in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in Phoenix and Glendale, which some analysts said reflected the beating many businesses have taken as a result of an exodus of Latino immigrants and their families. The report by the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the nation’s illegal-immigrant population fell from a peak of 12.5 million in the summer of 2007 to 10.8 million in the first quarter of 2009, a drop of 13.7 percent.
Swine H1N1 Flu
Swine Flu paranoia is running rampant around the globe as the CDC and World Health Organization fan the flames of fear. Governments are lining up to invest billions in vaccines while being carefully coached and lobbied by Big Pharma members like Baxter, Novavax, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, who will make billions from untested and unproven H1N1 vaccines. Meanwhile, legal immunity has already been granted to vaccine makers by the U.S. government. Dr. Russell Blaylock writes in the August Review, “This virus continues to be an enigma for virologists. In the April 30, 2009 issue of Nature, a virologist was quoted as saying, ‘Where the hell it got all these genes from we don’t know.’ Extensive analysis of the virus found that it contained the original 1918 H1N1 flu virus, the avian flu virus (bird flu), and two new H3N2 virus genes from Eurasia. Debate continues over the possibility that swine flu is a genetically engineered virus.”
- Just another New World (Dis)Order induced panic to expand global authority and increase profits for its corporate partners
Concerned by the latest projections of national health officials that at least 25% of Israelis will contract swine flu over the coming winter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the purchase of vaccine doses for all Israeli citizens against the spread of the H1N1 influenza. The vaccine is still under development and will be ready for delivery to various countries “in a few months,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said. The emergency purchase will cost an estimated NIS 450 million ($US 115m.) and will increase the State’s supply of anti-influenza medicines by an additional 5%, even though it currently has more medicines in stock than the European average. So far, about 1,500 swine flu cases – about 30 or 40 new cases a day – have been reported in Israel, and other Middle Eastern countries have had comparable numbers.
Older White Males Hurt More by This Recession
In previous recessions, veteran workers were largely spared the pain of widespread job cutbacks, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Layoffs tended to be concentrated among younger workers: The younger you were, the more likely you were to get fired. Traditional, bread-winning older males — especially white men — were the least vulnerable. Not so today. Aging Baby Boomers are suffering a harsh employment bust. Jobless rates for men and women older than 55 are at their highest level since the Great Depression, government data show. White men over 55 had a record 6.5% unemployment rate in the second quarter, far above the previous post-Depression high of 5.4% in 1983. The jobless rate for older black men was higher — 10.5% — but more than a percentage point below its 1983 peak.
The most remarkable change is in the unemployment rate for black women: 12.2%, far below the historic peak of 20% in 1983. Hispanic unemployment is about 6 percentage points below historic highs, too. In other words, this recession has shrunk the racial gap in unemployment, largely because white men are doing so much worse than usual. Those above 55 also are spending more time than ever between jobs. Older workers spend an average 27 weeks between jobs, about five weeks longer than younger workers.
Millions make Dramatic Job Changes.
Millions of Americans are making dramatic career turnabouts in this withering recession as a range of industries — including those involving cars, finance, real estate and construction — are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, many of which analysts say likely won’t return for years, if ever. Meanwhile, fields such as health care, clean energy, computer science and the government are expected to grow robustly in coming years. The reshuffling has workers in shrinking sectors racing to retool for spots in expanding fields. Transitions can be arduous, often forcing the unemployed to spend thousands of dollars to acquire new skills and take pay cuts in their new slots. And there’s no guarantee of a job. Such structural shifts in employment are common in economic downturns. Some industries cut positions permanently by becoming more efficient or less vibrant. That’s what happened to railroads in the early 1980s downturn and communications in the slump of 2001
Baby Boomers Send Disability Benefit Claims Soaring
Social Security officials say they expect an even larger spike in new disability claims than they had expected, as aging, injured baby boomers tumble out of the work force and need income. Officials estimate they’ll receive 3.3 million new disability claims over the next year, up from their previous estimate of 3 million projected just five months ago. The wave of new applications comes just as officials were making progress in curbing a massive backlog of disability appeals cases, which has plagued the agency for years. Also adding to the problem are recent moves in at least 10 states to furlough hundreds of employees that process initial benefit claims. Agency officials say the extraordinary increase is driven by the recession and an aging baby boomer work force reaching their most injury-prone years.
Unpaid Property Taxes Hit Localities
The number of Americans not paying their property taxes amid the recession and the brutal housing collapse has increased sharply — more than doubling in some parts of the country. At a time when the nation’s housing crisis has put millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes through bank foreclosure, a growing pile of unpaid bills has put tens of thousands more in danger of losing them to tax seizures. That has caused multimillion-dollar shortfalls for some already-struggling local governments that rely on property taxes to pay for everything from schools to police. Because property taxes are almost always collected locally, there is no single national measure of just how many people have fallen behind. But tax collectors and treasures in communities across the country say they’ve seen a sharp jump in the number of delinquent homeowners and businesses as the nation’s unemployment rate grew. They’re bracing for even more unpaid bills ahead.
Class Sizes Grow as School Budgets Shrink
Like a seesaw on the school playground, falling state budgets are pushing class sizes higher. The recession is forcing districts to lay off teachers even as the economic stimulus pumps billions of dollars into schools. As a result, classrooms across the country will be more crowded when school starts in the fall. A survey this year by the American Association of School Administrators found that 44% of school districts expected to increase class size. Very large classes can keep teachers from teaching because their time is spent keeping order. Crowded classrooms also increase the chance that struggling students may fall through the cracks.
The economy contracted at a 1% annual rate in the second quarter, a strong sign recession is winding down. Commerce says the dip in gross domestic product for the April to June period came after the economy tumbled at terrifying 6.4% pace in the first three months of this year and a steep 5.4% drop the quarter before that. “The recession looks to have largely bottomed in the spring,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. The economy has now contracted for a record four quarters, underscoring the grim toll of the recession on consumers and companies.
The number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but a gauge of underlying trends fell for a fifth week, government data showed Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 584,000 in the week ended July 25. But the four-week moving average for new claims, considered a gauge of underlying trends as it smoothes out week-to-week volatility, fell 8,250 to 559,000. Claims were under 300,000 prior to the recession. More than 90% of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas saw their unemployment rates climb in June from the previous month.
The Obama administration promised Friday that the financially strapped “cash for clunkers” program would be alive at least through the weekend. Democrats in the House and Senate were exploring the possibility of votes as early as Friday to replenish the funding for the hugely popular program. Carmakers and dealers have booked expensive advertising to capitalize on buyers’ interest in CARS, and now will be left promoting a tie-in with an uncertain government program — one that wasn’t supposed to end until Nov. 1. “It’s too late to recall the ads,” says Beau Boeckmann of Galpin Ford, the nation’s largest Ford dealer, in Los Angeles. Galpin had done about 100 clunker deals and was hoping for more. ” We had increased our ad budget to get the word out.”
Bolton: Israeli Attack Best Option on Iran
The U.S. is seeking to dissuade Israeli from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities — when such an act is likely the only way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, says former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently set off for Jerusalem to convince the Israelis to forego a military strike in favor of President Barack Obama’s efforts to deal with the Iranian problem through diplomacy. But those diplomatic efforts are doomed to fail, according to Bolton. In an opinion piece appearing in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Bolton observes: “Obama has no new strategic thinking on Iran. He vaguely promises to offer the country the carrot of diplomacy — followed by an empty threat of sanctions down the road if Iran does not comply with the U.S.’s requests.” Iran’s continuing progress with its nuclear program and air defenses mean that “Israel’s military option is declining over time. It will have to make a decision soon, and it will be no surprise if Israel strikes by year’s end,” according to Bolton.
Civilian Deaths up 24 percent in Afghanistan
The United Nations said Friday the number of civilians killed in conflict in Afghanistan has jumped 24% so far this year, with bombings by insurgent and airstrikes by international forces the biggest single killers In a grim assessment of the first half of 2009, the U.N. assistance mission in Afghanistan said the Taliban and other anti-government militants have become more deadly by shifting from ambush attacks to suicide bombings, roadside explosives and targeted assassinations. It warned that more civilians would likely be killed as insurgents try to battle a troop increase by the administration of President Obama, and seek to destabilize the country before presidential and Provincial Council elections on Aug. 20. The summer is also typically the worst for fighting in Afghanistan.
At Least 24 Killed in Baghdad Bombings
Multiple bombs have exploded near three Shiite mosques in Baghdad as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers, killing at least 24 and wounding dozens more, Iraqi police officials said. The bombings shattered a period of relative calm in the Iraqi capital, raising to at least 303 Iraqis killed in what has been one of the least deadly months in Iraq for both Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops since the war began. Only seven American troops have been killed.
Iraq to Send Students Abroad
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday his country plans to send up to 10,000 Iraqi students per year to colleges in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia over the next five years as a part of a new scholarship program. Al-Maliki said the country’s education system has suffered after years of war and dictatorship. The Iraqi government is funding the scholarship program, which covers tuition, fees and room and board. The awards will allow students to earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. They can pick their area of study, but are encouraged to go into engineering, education and business, among other fields. The students are then expected to return to Iraq after graduating.
Nigerian Army Attacks Islamist Mosque
Troops shelled the compound of an Islamist sect blamed for days of violence in northern Nigeria then attacked its mosque, killing at least 100 militants in a fierce battle. Sect leader Mohammed Yusuf escaped along with about 300 followers but his deputy was killed in Wednesday night’s bombardment, according to Army commander Maj. Gen. Saleh Maina. The army was conducting a house-to-house manhunt Thursday on the outskirts of Maiduguri for Yusuf and his followers. Militants seeking to impose Islamic Sharia law throughout this multi-religious country attacked police stations, churches, prisons and government buildings in a wave of violence that began Sunday. The leader of the Islamist sect blamed for days of violence in northern Nigeria has been shot and killed while in police custody, officials said Thursday.
Nine wildfires are burning across Alaska which have consumed about 741,000 acres, or 1,158 square miles, larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. A 1,643 acre fire in Southern California near Twain Harte is threatening numerous residences. A wildfire threatening homes near Chelan in north-central Washington grew to about 1,467 acres, and a state mobilization was declared to rush more firefighters to the scene. Residents of about 140 homes were advised to evacuate and residents of 60 other homes were told to prepare. The fire was started by a lightning strike about 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Northwesterners more accustomed to rain and cooler climate sought refuge from a heat wave on Wednesday, as Seattle recorded the hottest temperature in its history and Portland edged closer to its own record-breaker. The National Weather Service in Seattle recorded 102 degrees by midday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, breaking a previous record of 100 degrees, set in downtown Seattle in 1941 and repeated at the airport in 1994. Meanwhile, Portland ventured into its third day of triple-digit heat Wednesday, hitting 104 degrees by midday.
Severe thunderstorms have flooded highways, down trees and knocked out power across a broad swath of northern New Jersey. Flooded underpasses forced the closure of stretches of the Garden State Parkway at midafternoon Wednesday in Irvington and Newark. Portions of Route 287 in Edison and Route 280 in West Orange were flooded as well. The storms also knocked out power to more than 25,000 customers and caused airport and commuter rail delays. The National Weather Service is investigating reports that a tornado touched down in Sussex County. The National Weather Service also says a tornado has been reported skipping the southern coast of South Carolina.