Sotomayor Wins GOP Support after Hearings

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor won her first public pledges of support from Senate Republicans and one prominent GOP opponent, after a smooth performance at her confirmation hearings that has placed her firmly on track to become the high court’s first Latina and the first Democratic-named justice in 15 years. Three centrist Republicans announced they’d support Sotomayor even as the Senate’s minority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said he’d vote no. The split was a vivid reflection of the divisions in the GOP as the party faces a tricky vote on Sotomayor, wary of alienating its conservative base but equally afraid to anger Hispanic and women voters. With solid backing from Democrats, who enjoy a lopsided majority, and a growing number of Republicans, there’s virtually no doubt the judge will be confirmed as the 111th Supreme Court justice.

  • I can’t help but recall all the prophecies over the past few years about how the next Supreme Court justice would be a pro-life conservative appointed by Bush. Wishful imagination seems to be replacing true prophecy.

California Sprouts Marijuana ‘Green Rush’

More and more, having premium pot delivered to your door in California is not a crime. It is a legitimate business. Marijuana has transformed California. Since the state became the first to legalize the drug for medicinal use, the weed the federal government puts in the same category as heroin and cocaine has become a major economic force. No longer relegated to the underground, pot in California these days props up local economies, mints millionaires and feeds a thriving industry of start-ups designed to grow, market and distribute the drug. Based on the quantity of marijuana authorities seized last year, the crop was worth an estimated $17 billion or more, dwarfing any other sector of the state’s agricultural economy.

Experts say most of that marijuana is still sold as a recreational drug on the black market. But more recently the plant has put down deep financial roots in highly visible, taxpaying businesses: Stores that sell high-tech marijuana growing equipment. Pot clubs that pay rent and hire workers. Marijuana themed magazines and food products. Chains of for-profit clinics with doctors who specialize in medical marijuana recommendations. The sheer scale of the overall pot economy has some lawmakers pushing for broader legalization as a way to shore up the finances of a state that has teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. The state’s top tax collector estimates that taxing pot like liquor could bring in more than $1.3 billion annually.

Swine N1H1 Flu

Chinese health authorities have quarantined 107 visiting students and teachers from Britain at a hotel in Beijing after some of their schoolmates were diagnosed with swine flu, the British Embassy said Monday. Nine British citizens were confirmed with swine flu and had been hospitalized, the embassy said in a statement. Eight of the cases were of students from a group that is in China for language and cultural immersion courses. The Health Ministry said Friday that 1,537 cases of swine flu had been reported in China, the latest tally available. None has been fatal.

Trade Schools Boom with Older Students

Disappearing jobs have helped drive thousands of people to trade schools, where they can pick up training on anything from truck driving to medical billing. Many of the newcomers are in their 40s and 50s — twice the age of the typical student there. A lot of them already have college degrees. As economic struggles and unemployment plague much of the nation, vocational schools across the USA are seeing significant spikes in enrollment.

White House Delays Release of Budget Update

The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today’s bleak landscape. The administration’s annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Obama‘s budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress. The release of the update — usually scheduled for mid-July — has been put off until the middle of next month, giving rise to speculation the White House is delaying the bad news at least until Congress leaves town on its August 7 summer recess.

Treasury Has Tough Task Selling U.S. debt

Timothy Geithner, architect of bank, auto and economic rescue plans, has another high-stakes job these days: traveling bond salesman. The recession, financial crisis and two wars have pushed the federal deficit above $1 trillion, a record level that makes the Treasury secretary’s role as chief marketer of U.S. debt tougher than any of his recent predecessors’. Geithner, who traveled last week to the Middle East and Europe, has to convince foreign investors to keep buying Treasury bills, notes and bonds; they hold nearly half of the government’s roughly $7 trillion in publicly traded debt. If foreign demand for U.S. debt sags, that could drive up interest rates and spell big trouble for an economy hobbled by 9.5% unemployment. In the worst case scenario, a rush by foreigners to sell their U.S. debt could send the dollar crashing and inflation soaring.

  • This unprecedented debt load is poised to come crashing down on all our heads

Two Giants Emerge from Wall Street Ruins

A new order is emerging on Wall Street after the worst crisis since the Great Depression — one in which just a couple of victors are starting to tower over the handful of financial titans that used to dominate the industry. On Thursday, JPMorgan Chase became the latest big bank to announce stellar second-quarter earnings. Its $2.7 billion profit, after record gains for Goldman Sachs, underscores how the government’s effort to halt a collapse has also set the stage for a narrowing concentration of financial power. Both banks now stand astride post-bailout Wall Street, having benefited from billions of dollars in taxpayer support and cheap government financing to climb over banks that continue to struggle. They are capitalizing on the turmoil in financial markets and their rivals’ weakness to pull in billions in trading profits.

  • These two banks are leading players in the New World (Dis)Order. Concentration of wealth is a key strategy for the globalists.

Economic News

Unemployment topped 10% in 15 states and the District of Columbia last month, according to federal data released Friday. The rate in Michigan surpassed 15%, the first time any state hit that mark since 1984.

Regulators on Friday shut two banks in California and two smaller banks in Georgia and South Dakota, boosting to 57 the number of federally insured banks to fail this year, compared with 25 last year and three in 2007.

Israel Rejects U.S. Call to Halt Jerusalem Project

Israel on Sunday rejected a U.S. demand to suspend a planned housing project in east Jerusalem, threatening to further complicate an unusually tense standoff with its strongest ally over settlement construction. Israeli officials said the country’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department over the weekend and told that a project being developed by an American millionaire in the disputed section of the holy city should not go ahead. Settlements built on captured lands claimed by the Palestinians have emerged as a major sticking point in relations between Israel and the Obama administration because of their potential to disrupt Mideast peacemaking. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently yielded to heavy U.S. pressure to endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state, he has resisted American demands for an immediate freeze on settlement expansion.

Defense Official: Israel Readying for Attack on Iran

According to an Israeli defense official, Israel’s recent deployment of warships across the Red Sea should be seen as serious preparation for an attack on Iran. Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. “These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats,” the official said.

Iran ‘In Crisis’

n a sign of endurance for Iran’s protest movement, demonstrators clashed with police Friday as one of the nation’s most powerful clerics challenged the supreme leader during Muslim prayers, saying the country was in crisis in the wake of a disputed election. The turnout of tens of thousands of worshippers for former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani‘s sermon at Tehran University and the battles with police outside represented the biggest opposition show of strength in weeks. Protesters faced fierce government suppression and hundreds were arrested following the June 12 presidential election. Outside the university, protests grew from several hundred people before the sermon to thousands afterward as worshippers joined in, chanting “death to the dictator,” a reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


About 11,000 residents of a subdivision threatened by a forest fire in southern British Columbia have been evacuated, officials said Sunday. Helicopters, air tankers and firefighters were attacking the 1.35-square-mile blaze raging behind the Glenrosa subdivision, some 170 miles east of Vancouver. Another 6,000 people in the West Kelowna subdivision were told to be on evacuation alert. A second fire was burning about 6.2 miles north at the nearby Rose Valley Reservoir, where another 1,500 homes were under evacuation alert. A third fire, further north at Fintry, was also burning.

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