Archive for August, 2009

August 7, 2009

Town Hall Meetings Turn Violent

Town hall meetings called to discuss proposed health care legislation turned violent Thursday, with a meeting in Tampa, Fla., descending into shouting and one in St. Louis ending in arrests.  Close to 1,500 people came to the Tampa suburb of Ybor City to speak with Democratic State Rep. Betty Reed and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, an event that exploded into a near riot.  According to local media reports, the larger-than-expected crowd gathered outside the Hillsborough County Children’s Board building, where several hundred people, most of whom opposed a government health care plan, began to loudly chant and scuffle with organizers posted at doorways after the auditorium filled to capacity. In Mehlville, Mo., St. Louis police arrested six people, some on assault charges, outside another forum that was billed as a meeting on aging but was attended by activists on both sides of the health care debate.

  • The pronounced shift in America toward socialism and away from core Christian values will promote greater division and hostility as the end-times roll on

Obama’s Snitch Patrol

The White House calls it an effort to root out “disinformation.” Critics call it “Chicago thug politics” and “totalitarian tactics.” “It” is the Obama administration’s call for Americans to snitch on their neighbors by e-mailing to the White House any communications they receive “about health insurance reform that seem fishy.” The desperation move by Obama, who has staked the “success” of his presidency on nationalizing another 17 percent of the nation’s economy – America’s gigantic health care industry – comes in the wake of poll after poll saying Americans are scared and outraged over what they’re hearing about “Obamacare.” Unfortunately, the administration’s response to increasing public furor over Obamacare – whether expressed at town hall meetings with congressmen, or just by communicating with each other over the Internet – is to attempt to thwart free speech and squelch dissent.

  • President Obama is Big Brother’s best friend

Euthanasia Part of Obamacare

Widely respected Minister Rick Joyner wrote this week, after reviewing Mat Staver’s analysis of H.R. 3200 “Health” care bill (see attachment), voicing his strong opinion that this bill “is about euthanasia, the power to determine who lives or dies in America. Hitler and Stalin would have loved to have had a means such as this for dispatching the millions they killed—it would have made their job much easier, and probably given them the ability to kill many more than they did. THIS BILL IS THAT SINISTER. This is not a joke.”

Investors Business Daily has also exposed the “Achilles’ heel of Obamacare,” that “hostile, socialist government takeover of your hospital, doctors, children, and grandparents.”  In an editorial entitled, “How House Bill Runs Over Grandma,” the editors report that President Obama was unable to deny the New York Post’s discovery the House bill “compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care” (pages 425-430).  In other words, your grandmother will be told, when insufficient resources are rationed to young people, that her duty to die begins with mandatory “end-of-life counseling,” or as Obama explained, “encourage the use of living wills” that terminate otherwise salvageable lives prematurely through signed “do not resuscitate” (DNR) legal releases.

  • Population control is a key element of the New World (Dis)Order’s strategy, which is why they are so pro-abortion.

Sotomayor Confirmed with Few GOP Votes

Sonia Sotomayor‘s improbable journey from a Bronx public housing project to the Supreme Court culminates this weekend when she takes her judicial oath, following an emotional Senate vote that made history and could foreshadow political battles to come. Sotomayor, 55, will be the third woman and first Hispanic on the high court. President Obama hailed the 68-31 vote to confirm his first Supreme Court choice as “breaking yet another barrier and moving us yet another step closer to a more perfect union.” Though Sotomayor was confirmed by a decisive majority, the vote was not nearly as bipartisan as Obama had sought. For the Republican Party, the vote complicates prospects for wooing Hispanics. Nine of the Senate’s 40 Republicans backed Sotomayor. The rest, while hailing her as a trailblazer and role model, portrayed her as a liberal who favors affirmative action, gun control and limits on property rights.

  • Conservative, pro-life issues have suffered a major defeat that will reverberate throughout the land for years to come

ABA Meddles in Marriage Issue, Members Exit

The American Bar Association House of Delegates has approved a resolution calling on Congress to repeal a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that denies federal marital benefits and protections to same-gender couples married in states where it’s legal. Mat Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, says the American Bar Association (ABA) is intruding on matters that have nothing to do with the general practice of law, pushing a political position that upsets many members. Many of the ABA members actually left the American Bar Association a number of years ago when it began to intrude into the area of abortion. Staver concludes the action by ABA is out of step with most attorneys and certainly the American people.

  • Secular humanism, the religion of the New World (Dis)Order, has become entrenched in our legal and justice system by design. Control of law, finance and media now give the NWO an open door for establishing their religion – a clear violation of the so-called separation of church and state. They can’t have it both ways can they? Yes, by never admitting that secular humanism is a religion.

Schools May Serve as Swine Flu Immunization Centers

Schools across the USA could serve as mass vaccination sites this fall if swine flu makes a strong comeback, officials briefed Thursday in Washington said. Federal officials are preparing to issue updated guidelines Friday on the troublesome new flu bug. Federal officials put “a much stronger emphasis — stronger than I’ve heard in years” — on encouraging school districts and local health departments to open schools as immunization centers, said Amy Garcia, executive director of the National Association of School Nurses. At a swine flu summit in Maryland last month, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said schools “are natural places” to offer flu vaccines. The government said Friday that schools should only close this fall if large numbers of students have swine flu. The new flu is expected to hit schools again this fall. But the Obama administration is hoping to minimize closings and disruptions they cause for families.

Salmonella Beef Recall Hits 11 States

Beef Packers Inc. in Fresno, Calif. has recalled approximately 826,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be linked to an outbreak of salmonellosis, the Department of Agriculture announced Thursday. The ground beef appears to be contaminated with salmonella Newport. There have been illnesses in 11 states with more than 21 people affected in Colorado. The recalled product was distributed in Arizona, California, Colorado and Utah to retail distribution centers. It was then repackaged into consumer-size packages and sold under different retail brand names. At least 15 of the Colorado cases involved ground beef purchased at Safeway Stores, says Mark Salley, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman. At this time, it is not known if the hamburger was distributed to other stores. The ground beef was produced between June 5, 2009 and June 23, 2009 and might have the establishment number “ET. 31913” printed on the case code labels. Consumers can call Beef Packers Inc.’s recall information line at 877-872-3635.

Hacker Attack Takes Down Twitter, Facebook, LiveJournal

Social networks Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal on Thursday morning were overwhelmed by denial-of-service attacks disrupting access to more than 300 million users. Botnets — thousands of infected home and workplace PCs — flooded the websites with nuisance requests, thus cutting off access to anyone else. Security experts can’t say if the attacks were related. Twitter users around the globe could not Tweet for at least three hours. The attacks may have been related to the ongoing political conflict between Russia and Georgia. They started with hackers using a botnet to send a flurry of spam e-mail messages that contained links to pages on Twitter, Facebook and other sites written by a single pro-Abkhazia activist.

  • Two items of interest here: reports of Tweet withdrawal demonstrate its addictive nature; and the stability of the Internet worldwide being compromised over one political dispute show how easily it can be brought down.

Senate OKs Expansion of Cash-for-Clunkers Program

The Senate bolstered the popular cash-for-clunkers program Thursday by giving it an extra $2 billion in hopes of extending a wave of trade-in deals that buoyed car sales and boosted demand for fuel-efficient vehicles in July. The vote was 60 to 37. President Obama welcomed the extension of the “cash for clunkers” auto sales incentive, saying it would aid economic recovery and help the troubled auto industry. Some skeptics say the additional money won’t have the same impact as the first $1 billion, because many people who qualified for the program already have bought new cars and the supply of eligible vehicles is waning.

Economic News

The number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped more sharply than expected last week, a government report showed Thursday, providing more evidnce that the labor market and the economy are stabilizing. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 in the week ended Aug. 1 from 588,000 the prior week, still way above the pre-recession level under 300,000.

Employers throttled back on layoffs in July, cutting just 247,000 jobs, fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.4%. It was a better-than-expected showing that offered a strong signal that the recession is finally ending.

The rate of homeownership is forecast to keep tumbling in the next decade to lows not seen since the 1980s, a trend that could redefine a key element of the American dream even after the housing market recovers. The percentage of households that own homes hit a peak of almost 70% in 2004 and 2005. By the second quarter of this year, that slipped to 67.4%, according to the Census Bureau. Now, a University of Utah analysis projects it’ll drop to about 63.5% by 2020 — the lowest since 1985.

The percentage of U.S. homeowners who owe more than their house is worth will nearly double to 48 percent in 2011 from 26 percent at the end of March, portending another blow to the housing market, Deutsche Bank said on Wednesday. “We project the next phase of the housing decline will have a far greater impact on prime borrowers,” Deutsche analysts said in the report.

American International Group (AIG) bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of $182.5 billion, is reporting its first quarterly profit since 2007, as the company saw stability in some of its businesses. The company said its profit was driven by the stabilizing value of some of its riskier investments, including in its AIG Financial Products portfolio, the much-maligned division responsible for many of the transactions that prompted the government bailout last fall.

Fannie Mae is seeking an additional $10.7 billion in government aid after posting a loss of $15.2 billion in the second quarter as the taxpayer bill from the housing market bust keeps growing. The government, which seized control of Fannie Mae and its sibling Freddie Mac last September, has already spent about $85 billion to prop up the two companies. Fannie Mae’s new request from the Treasury Department will bring the total to nearly $96 billion.

Hizbullah Expanding Arsenal in South Lebanon

Hizbullah has stockpiled 40,000 rockets in south Lebanon and is training its units to operate mid-range missile systems that can reach Tel Aviv, as well as SA8 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles which could greatly hamper Israeli air sorties over Lebanon, according to The Times (of London) on Wednesday. Israeli defense officials and the UN have both said that despite UN Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War and imposed an arms import ban on Hizbullah, the militia now possesses greater firepower than it had before that conflict. The border has been tense for months, and Deputy GOC Northern Command Alon Friedman told The Times that the situation could “explode at any minute.”

Journalists Did Cross into N. Korea

Two U.S. journalists pardoned and freed by North Korea did cross illegally into that country, the sister of one of the women said. “She did say that they touched North Korean territory very, very briefly,” Lisa Ling, sister of Laura Ling, told CNN on Thursday. “She said it was maybe 30 seconds. And then, you know, everything just sort of got chaotic.” Laura Ling and her colleague Euna Lee, both working for California-based Current TV, were arrested in March while reporting from the border between North Korea and China. They were sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor on charges of entering the country illegally to conduct a smear campaign. The two journalists arrived home Wednesday after former President Bill Clinton journeyed to North Korea at the behest of the women’s families and former Vice President Al Gore, who co-founded Current TV. The reclusive communist nation pardoned the two women and released them to Clinton.

U.S. Vows Support for Somalia

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday pledged to “expand and extend” American support for Somalia‘s weak interim government as it struggles against Islamist extremists believed linked to al-Qaeda. Accusing the extremists of trying to turn Somalia into a base to launch worldwide terrorist attacks, Clinton said the Obama administration would boost military supplies and other aid to the government and an African peacekeeping force supporting it.

Iraq

A series of bomb attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims and worshippers struck Iraq Friday, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens more, police and medical officials said. The incidents are the latest in a series that have targeted Shiites, raising concerns that insurgents are stepping up attacks, hoping to re-ignite sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007. Though violence has dramatically declined in Iraq in the past two years, U.S. officials have repeatedly called the security gains fragile and cautioned that a waning insurgency still has the ability to pull off sporadic, high profile attacks.

Afghanistan

Four U.S. Marines were killed Thursday when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle in western Afghanistan, driving up Western military deaths at a pace that would make August one of the deadliest months of the war. At least 15 Western troops have been killed in Afghanistan in August. Attacks killed at least 44 U.S service members and 31 from other international military forces in July, according to military reports. Casualties among Afghans and international troops are climbing sharply as Western forces push deeper into Taliban territory ahead of Aug. 20 presidential elections.

Pakistan

Pakistan‘s Taliban chief, who has led a violent campaign of suicide attacks and assassinations against the Pakistani government, has been killed in a U.S. missile strike and his body buried, three Pakistani intelligence officials said Friday. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad authorities would travel to the site of the strike to verify his death. If confirmed, Mehsud’s demise would be a major boost to Pakistani and U.S. efforts to eradicate the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Wildfires

The West is on fire, with: 6 fires in Alaska totaling 1,304, 718 acres; 6 in California, 31,432 acres; 5 in Utah, 27,744 acres; 6 in Oregon ,9,665 acres; 5 in Washington, 6,174 acres; 4 in New Mexico, 9,600 acres; 3 in Texas, 8,719 acres; 2 in Arizona, 2,950 acres; 3 in Idaho, 1,286 acres; 1 in Colorado, 2,068 acres; and 1 in Wyoming, 1,933 acres. The only wildfire in the East is in North Carolina, at 2,660 acres.

Weather

The dog days of summer are typically welcomed by Northerners as the thaw from their frigid winter. But this year, people from the Midwest all the way up through New England are still waiting for their day in the sun. Record-setting cold around the Great Lakes and record rainfall in New England combined to produce a very unusual July and early August. Rather than sunbathing, people are playing cards and board games indoors. Instead of swimming in the ocean, they are taking in museums and whale watching. At least 17 cities in states from Minnesota to Michigan to Kentucky set record lows for July. Preliminary figures show that Iowa had its coldest July on record. The 10.52 inches of rain that fell on Providence in July broke an all-time record and was 7.3 inches above normal. Albany, N.Y., set its own rainfall record with 9.91 inches for the month — 6.4 inches above normal.

As the Northeast and Midwest shivered through a record-setting chilly July, huge swaths of the South and West sweated through some all-time heat because of a stubborn weather pattern that refused to budge. Last week in the usually mild Northwest, several cities set their all-time-high temperature records, including Seattle, which soared to 103 degrees, breaking its previous record by 3 degrees. Three people died in Washington state from the heat. It was the hottest in Seattle since records began in 1891. Bellingham and Olympia also set record highs, as did Chelhalis, which reported an amazing high of 111 degrees. Average highs this time of year in western Washington are in the mid-70s, according to the Western Regional Climate Center. Normally hot Phoenix had its hottest month on record. July had an average temperature of 98.3. Yuma, Ariz., also had a record-hot July.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more unstable and extreme

August 5, 2009

Pardoned Journalists Return to U.S.

After an unprecedented face-to-face meeting with dictator Kim Jong Il in North Korea, former president Bill Clinton returned to the U.S. early Wednesday with two American journalists who had been held for months by the communist government. Clinton arrived at Burbank, California’s Bob Hope Airport via jet with Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who were arrested March 17 along the Chinese-North Korean border and sentenced in June to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry and “hostile acts.” Some foreign policy analysts hoped that the surprise visit by Clinton could lower tensions in what has been an increasingly tumultuous relationship between the U.S. and North Korea over its nuclear program.

AAA Recognizes Gay Couples as ‘Married’ and a ‘Family’

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has begun offering “Family Memberships” to homosexual couples, recognizing the homosexual couple as being “married,” according to a homosexual activist organization in Florida. Thirty states have overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. Yet AAA is treating homosexual couples as if they are married. The homosexual couples need only state that they are married to receive the family benefit. In the eyes of AAA two homosexuals living together constitute “marriage” and make a “family.” All they have to do to get the “family membership” benefits is to say “we are gay and married.”

Faith Groups more Likely to Attract Volunteers

Faith-based organizations attract more volunteers than any other type of organization, according to a survey by the Corporation for National and Community Service. More than one-third of the country’s almost 62 million volunteers served through religious organizations last year. “Religious organizations are a key source of potential volunteers for nonprofit organizations,” said Nicola Goren, the corporation’s chief executive officer. “Nonprofits looking to expand their reach and impact may find it beneficial to work more closely with religious organizations in their communities, especially in these tough economic times.” The Volunteering in America 2009 report released last week showed that adults over the age of 65 and youth who regularly attend religious services are more likely than general volunteers to serve in faith-based organizations. Also, youth from disadvantaged circumstances, who are least likely to volunteer, are most likely, when they do volunteer, to do so through their religious congregation. They are also much more likely to report that they are motivated to serve by their religious or spiritual beliefs.

More People Seek Concealed Weapons Permits

Gun owners are packing heat in record numbers, fearful of stricter gun control under the Obama administration and higher crime in a sour economy. Some states and counties report a surge in applications for concealed weapons permits since the November election. All states but Illinois and Wisconsin allow concealed weapons, but requirements differ. In the past, applicants tended to be middle-aged men, but recent applicants include grandmothers, older folks, young women, young men.

Number of Americans Taking Antidepressants Doubles

The number of Americans using antidepressants doubled in only a decade, while the number seeing psychiatrists continued to fall. About 10% of Americans — or 27 million people — were taking antidepressants in 2005, the last year for which data were available at the time the study was written. That’s about twice the number in 1996, according to the study of nearly 50,000 children and adults in today’s Archives of General Psychiatry. Yet the majority weren’t being treated for depression. Half of those taking antidepressants used them for back pain, nerve pain, fatigue, sleep difficulties or other problems, the study says. Among users of antidepressants, the percentage receiving psychotherapy fell from 31.5% to less than 20%, the study says. About 80% of patients were treated by doctors other than psychiatrists.

70% of U.S. Kids Lack Vitamin D

New research on vitamin D deficiency finds that 70% of U.S. children have below-normal levels of the key hormone, LiveScience reports. That raises their risk for bone and dental problems, diabetes, heart diseases, some cancers and possible brain impairment. Key factors include diet and more time spent indoors in front of the computer or TV. Doctors recommend more milk, fish, sun and supplements. Low levels were especially common in girls, African Americans, Mexican Americans, the obese, those who drank milk less than once a week, and those who spent more than four hours a day watching TV, playing videogames or using computers. Lighter skin is more efficient at producing vitamin D. So darker-skinned people produce less when exposed to sunlight.

Global Swine Flu Deaths Top 1,100

More than 1,100 people worldwide have died from swine flu since it emerged in Mexico and the U.S. in April, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization. As of July 31, the total number of victims killed by the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, stood at 1,154 — an increase of 338 since WHO’s previous update on July 27. The virus has spread around the world with unprecedented speed, spreading as widely in six weeks as common influenza viruses spread in the six months, according to WHO.

Court: U.S. High Schoolers should Speak English

An English language advocacy organization is praising the decision of a California appeals court, which upheld the right of the state to administer academic achievement tests and high school exit exams only in English. Last week, the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected arguments that English-only exams violate a federal requirement that limited-English-speaking students “shall be assessed in a valid and reliable manner.” Nearly 1.6 million students in California have limited command of the language. The appellate court’s three-to-zero ruling upholds a 2007 decision by a San Francisco judge, who also ruled against the bilingual-education groups and nine school districts that sued to overturn the state’s English-only testing methods.

‘Cash-for-Clunkers’ gets Credit as Car Sales Skyrocket in July

For months, automakers have predicted pent-up demand was brewing for cars as sales hit record-low numbers. And the government’s cash-for-clunkers program may have proved them right. July sales — coming in at 997,824 — didn’t quite reach the 1 million mark, a sales rate that used to be the norm but hasn’t been since August 2008. But it was the best rate of 2009, up 16% from June. Congress had allocated $1 billion to the trade-in program, officially called the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS. That money has run out, and President Obama has asked the Senate to put another $2 billion into CARS by Friday. The House already passed a bill adding money to it. The program’s fate hangs on whether the Senate will vote to extend more funds this week.

Post Office Looks to Close Hundreds of Offices

Facing staggering financial losses, the Postal Service is looking at closing nearly 1,000 offices across the country. The post office has been struggling with a sharp decline in mail volume as people and businesses switch to e-mail both for personal contact and bill paying. The agency is facing a nearly $7 billion potential loss this fiscal year despite a 2-cent increase in the price of stamps in May, cuts in staff and removal of collection boxes. Post officials sent a list of nearly 700 potential closing candidates to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for review. More may be added. No changes are expected before the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30. There are 32,741 post offices across the county. Of those, the service launched a review of 3,200 for potential candidates for closing.

Mortgage Loan Modification Rates Low

JPMorgan Chase is helping one in five troubled homeowners eligible for a government-sponsored housing rescue, while Wells Fargo is reaching 6% of eligible borrowers, and Bank of America is aiding 4%, the U.S. Treasury Department said Tuesday In its first monthly progress report on the $50 billion loan modification program launched in March. Several loan servicing companies — including American Home Mortgage Servicing and PNC Financial Services Group— have yet to modify a single loan. Only 15% of homeowners eligible for the Obama administration’s program have been offered help so far. More than 400,000 offers have been extended to 2.7 million borrowers who are more than two months behind on their payments. More than 235,000 of those borrowers have enrolled in three-month trials.

Federal Tax Revenues Plummet

The recession is starving the government of tax revenue, just as the president and Congress are piling a major expansion of health care and other programs on the nation’s plate and struggling to find money to pay the tab. The numbers could hardly be more stark: Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18 percent this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion. Individual income tax receipts are down 22 percent from a year ago. Corporate income taxes are down 57 percent. Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940, and Medicare taxes are on pace to drop for only the third time ever. The national debt already exceeds $11 trillion. And bills just completed by the House would boost domestic agencies’ spending by 11 percent in 2010 and military spending by 4 percent.

  • Government finances are so out of whack that it’s become a time-bomb waiting to explode – and no one is trying to defuse the bomb

Economic News

Pending sales of previously owned homes rose at a faster-than-expected pace in June, a real estate trade group said Tuesday, more evidence the housing market was starting to claw out of a three-year slump. The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in June, rose 3.6% to 94.6. It was the fifth straight month of advance and the first such streak in six years, the industry group said.

American consumers opened their wallets and pocketbooks a bit more in June, increasing their spending for the second straight month while saving a bit less, even as incomes fell sharply. Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for about 70% of total U.S. economic activity. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that consumers boosted their spending 0.4% in June. That comes after spending rose 0.1% in May.

Personal income fell 1.3% after rising by the same amount in May, when incomes were boosted by one-time payments from the Obama administration’s stimulus package. Personal savings rate fell to 4.6% in June, after jumping to 6.2% in May, which was the highest since February 1995. The rate dropped as low as 1% at times last year.

Australia Foils Terrorism Plot

Police foiled a suicide plot in Australia on Tuesday, arresting four men suspected of links to a Somali Islamic extremist group who were allegedly planning commando-style attacks on at least one army base. Some 400 officers from state and national security services took part in 19 pre-dawn raids on properties in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, and arrested four men. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the plot was a “sober reminder” that terrorists are still a threat to Australia, which has drawn the ire of extremist groups for sending troops to join the U.S.-led campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Iran Ready to Build Nuclear Bomb

Iran already has the know-how to make and explode a nuclear warhead and awaits a go-ahead from its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to race its first bomb into production, according to a report in the U.K.’s Times Online. The Times bombshell credits Western intelligence sources for confirming the Israeli conclusion that Iran has reached the end of a multibillion-dollar, three-decade master plan to fashion a nuclear bomb. The device will be of a weight and bulk that would allow the weapon to be launched on Iran’s long-range Shehab-3 missiles. This represents Israel’s worst-case-scenario. It is estimated that it would take just six months to enrich enough uranium and another six months to assemble the warhead.

Afghanistan

A string of rockets slammed into Kabul at daybreak Tuesday in the first major attack on the relatively calm Afghan capital in the run-up to this month’s presidential election. Afghan officials said at least eight rockets hit the Afghan capital, one damaging a senior Interior Ministry official’s house near the U.S. Embassy. A suicide bomber also killed five people and wounded 18 in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, and a provincial governor escaped injury in an attack on his convoy.

Sudan Tribal Violence

Armed tribesmen attacked a fishing village in southeast Sudan where hundreds of displaced people were camped near a river, leaving at least 185 people dead, most of them women and children, in the worst violence in three months A flare-up of tribal clashes in south Sudan over cattle and territory has left more 1,000 people killed so far this year. The violence is separate from the six-year-old conflict between rebels and government forces in Darfur, the vast western region of Sudan.

Earthquakes

Several earthquakes Monday were centered in the waters of the Gulf of California about 150 miles south of Rocky Point. The U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center said they ranged in size from magnitude 5.0 to 6.9. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

A magnitude-6.5 earthquake hit off Japan’s southern coast Wednesday, the country’s Meteorological Agency said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The quake hit at 9:18 am off the coast of Miyakojima, a southern island near Okinawa, at a depth of 18.6 miles. Miyakojima is located about 1,240 miles south of Tokyo.

Wildfires

Dozens of residents were evacuated Monday after a weekend lightning storm sparked multiple wildfires around Northern California. More than 600 firefighters were trying to protect 100 structures from the blazes in northeastern Shasta County. Crews also were fighting blazes in Lassen, Monterey and Tuolumne counties. As of Wednesday morning, the largest fire was a 7,634-acre blaze burning in Stanislaus National Forest in Tuolumne County, where three people were reported injured. More than 1,300 firefighters were battling that blaze. Southern California has another three wildfires burning, having consumed about 8,500 acres as of Wednesday morning.

Weather

A storm dumped a record 6.5 inches of rain during the Tuesday-morning commute here, spawning flash flooding that filled streets, stranded motorists and cut power to thousands. Emergency workers rescued nearly 200 people from the tops of cars and houses as waters rose too fast for them to escape. Floodwater poured into homes and basements and engulfed Louisville’s main public library, several area hospitals, horse barns at Churchill Downs and the University of Louisville campus, where some workers had to be rescued by boat.

August 3, 2009

Methodists Defeat Gay-Related Membership Policy, Episcopalians Face Test

United Methodists have defeated amendments that would have made church membership open to all Christians regardless of sexual orientation and furthered the creation of a new, U.S.-only governing body, according to the denomination’s news service. Delegates at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference last year approved the sexual orientation amendment, as well as several others that would have changed how the international church is governed. But the amendments failed to gain support from two-thirds of the denomination’s annual conferences, as required by church law. The complicated amendments to church polity in the UMC, which counts 8 million members in the U.S. and about 3.5 million more in Asia, Africa and Europe, was seen by some as a way to make it easier for Americans to pass pro-gay resolutions.

An openly gay priest and an openly lesbian priest are among six nominees for assistant bishop positions in the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Los Angeles. The vote will be a test of new church legislation passed at July’s general convention in Anaheim that repeals a de facto ban on consecrating openly gay bishops. In 2003, the election of openly gay bishop Rev. V. Gene Robinson prompted four dioceses and numerous parishes to leave the denomination, which claims 2.1 million members in the U.S.

Airports Removing Christian Symbols from Chapels

While U.S. airports often have chapels, many of them no longer display crosses or other symbols that would make them specific to a particular faith. The chapel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport features a silhouette of a person kneeling and a generic stained-glass window. It also has a library stocking everything from Gideon Bibles to Jewish mystical texts, and a large floor mat provides a cushiony spot to kneel for prayer. A large compass on the chapel floor helps guide Muslims who pray toward Mecca.

  • While America is still a Christian country, contrary to what President Obama thinks, our government is slowly but surely marginalizing and eliminating our Christian foundations in an effort to establish tolerance and inclusiveness as the foundation for secular humanism, the religion of the New World (Dis)Order.

Unabated Use of Groundwater Threatens Arizona’s Future

Thirty years after Arizona tried to stop cities and towns from using up their groundwater, the state still can’t shake its thirst for one of its most finite resources. The steady drain on underground reserves grows out of two realities: Canals and pipelines don’t reach far enough to deliver surface water to everyone, and laws don’t reach far enough to stop people from drilling. If the groundwater addiction continues unabated and under-regulated, the effects will be broad and potentially disastrous: Scarcer supplies could push rates higher and create uncertainty about water availability, discouraging new business and slowing economic growth. If wells start to run dry and aquifers collapse, the landscape could be dotted with fissures and sinkholes.

Lawmakers adopted some of the nation’s most progressive water-protection laws to avert such crises, but the laws excluded rural areas and allowed changes that let cities and subdivisions resume well-drilling, further depleting exhaustible aquifers. Meanwhile, the renewable resource intended to replace groundwater – surface water fed by the annual runoff of mountain snow – can’t meet the demand of urban areas too far from the delivery canals. The result is holes in the state’s water bucket that are spreading as fast as the holes in the ground. And looming over it all are the separate threats of drought and climate change, which could strain surface-water supplies at the same time that groundwater resources are shrinking.

  • Lack of water will be a major problem in the entire southwest, with the Colorado River being depleted faster than it is replenished.

King Salmon Vanishing in Alaska

One Alaska river after another has been closed to king fishing this summer because significant numbers of fish failed to return to spawn. The dismally weak return follows weak runs last summer and poor runs in 2007, which also resulted in emergency fishing closures. King salmon spend years in the Bering Sea before returning as adults to rivers where they were born to spawn and die. Biologists speculate that the mostly likely cause was a shift in Pacific Ocean currents, but food availability, changing river conditions and predator-prey relationships could be affecting the fish. People living along the Yukon River think they know what is to blame — pollock fishery. The fishery — the nation’s largest — removes about 1 million metric tons of pollock each year from the eastern Bering Sea. King salmon get caught in the huge pollock trawl nets. Since 2000, the incidental number of king salmon caught has skyrocketed, reaching over 120,000 kings in 2007. A substantial portion of those fish were bound for western Alaska rivers.

  • Environmental crises and disasters are going to become more frequent as the end-times roll on

Obama Officials: No Guarantee on Taxes

Two of President Obama’s economic heavyweights said middle-class taxes might have to go up to pare budget deficits or to pay for the proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system. During his presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly pledged “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.” But the simple reality remains that his ambitious overhaul of how Americans receive health care — promised without increasing the federal deficit — must be paid for. “If we want an economy that’s going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it’s going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health care reform,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said. “We’re not at the point yet where we’re going to make a judgment about what it’s going to take.”

  • Are we surprised any longer when Presidents promise no more taxes and then do so anyway, citing circumstances beyond their control? Well, in this case, it’s even worse, because they’re the ones increasing the deficit. And then, to imply that health care reform is the “path” to reducing the deficits is outright lunacy if not bold-faced lies. Health care reform is only going to increase the deficit and/or our taxes.

Housing Begins Slow Rebound

By every measure, except foreclosures, the housing market has stabilized and many areas are recovering, according to a spate of data released in the past two weeks. Nationwide, home resales in June are up 9% from January, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Sales of new homes have climbed 17% during the same period. And construction, while still anemic, has risen almost 20% since the beginning of the year. From the frenzied peak of the real estate boom in 2005-2006 to the recession’s trough earlier this year, home resales fell 38% and sales of new homes tumbled 76%. Construction of homes and apartments skidded 79%. And for the first time in more than four decades of record keeping, home prices posted consecutive annual declines. A staggering $4 trillion in home equity was wiped out, and millions of Americans lost their homes through foreclosure.

  • The bursting of the absurd real estate “bubble” was long over due. The recovery will be slow because unemployment continues to climb.

Snafus Nearly Broke ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Program

This was one government stimulus plan that yielded quick results. Maybe too quick. Far more drivers signed up for the ‘cash for clunkers’ program than anyone thought, overwhelming showrooms, blowing through the initial $1 billion set aside by Congress and leaving dealers panicked over when or if the government would make good on the hefty rebates. Confusion reigned, even as dollars flowed into dealerships starved for business for months. The government website set up to process rebates of up to $4,500 per new car could not keep up with demand. Washington scrambled to come up with more cash and sent mixed signals about how the program would unfold. The House voted Friday to replenish the program with $2 billion, setting up likely Senate action next week. The Obama administration will suspend the “cash for clunkers” program unless the Senate provides $2 billion more for the popular car incentive plan, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Sunday.

Economic News

The stock market’s best July in 20 years is giving investors reason for hope about the economy. The Dow surged 8.6% for the month, with most of the gains arriving in bursts in the final 15 days. The extraordinary run shaped July into the best month for the blue chips since October 2002 and the best July since 1989.

Two-thirds of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 have reported second-quarter earnings, and more than 74% have beat expectations. That’s welcome comfort in what was another horrible quarter for corporate profits: Earnings of S&P 500 companies so far are down 36.8% from a year earlier.

Over the coming months, as many as 1.5 million jobless Americans will exhaust their unemployment insurance benefits, ending what for some has been a last bulwark against foreclosures and destitution. Because of emergency extensions already enacted by Congress, laid-off workers in nearly half the states can collect benefits for up to 79 weeks, the longest period since the unemployment insurance program was created in the 1930s. But unemployment in this recession has proved to be especially tenacious, and a wave of job-seekers is using up even this prolonged aid.

A huge influx of federal stimulus money to state and local governments more than offset a sharp drop in tax collections, helping to put the brakes on the nation’s economic decline, new government data show. The stimulus funds helped reverse six months of spending declines, pushing state and local government expenditures up 4.8% in the second quarter, reports the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Federal cash is now the No. 1 revenue source for state and local governments.

  • This may seem like good news, but when Federal cash becomes the states primary source of revenue, the states’ rights championed by our Constitution are seriously compromised. Yet another step along the path of socialism.

The manufacturing sector continued to shrink in July but at a slower pace than the previous month, according to an industry report released Monday. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity rose to 48.9 in July from 44.8 in June. A reading below 50 indicates contraction in the manufacturing sector.

Regulators on Friday shut down banks in Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Oklahoma, boosting to 68 the number of federally insured banks to fail this year amid the pressures of the weak economy and mounting loan defaults. The 68 bank failures nationwide this year compare with 25 last year and three in 2007.

Military-Civilian Prison Eyed for Gitmo Detainees

The Obama administration is looking at creating a courtroom-within-a-prison complex in the U.S. to house suspected terrorists, combining military and civilian detention facilities at a single maximum-security prison. Several senior U.S. officials said the administration is eyeing a soon-to-be-shuttered state maximum security prison in Michigan and the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as possible locations for a heavily guarded site to hold the 229 suspected al-Qaeda, Taliban and foreign fighters now jailed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, the latest effort to comply with President Obama’s order to close the prison camp by Jan. 22, 2010, and satisfy congressional and public fears about incarcerating terror suspects on American soil. The White House considers the courtroom-prison complex as the best among a series of bad options, an administration official said.

  • So, moving them from one prison to another “solves” the problem? Only in a politician’s mind.

State Dept Website Says Jerusalem is Palestinian

In this day and age, an organization’s web page tells a lot about its owner. The words and the pictures present the images and the message of the sponsoring organization.  That is why the U.S. State Department’s web site for the American Consulate in Jerusalem is so disturbing. The site can be accurately described as a newsletter for all things Palestinian. It announces U.S. taxpayer grants to the Palestinian Authority. It provides tickets for Palestinian youth to summer camps and movie theaters. It announces a grant to preserve Palestinian Heritage. What is not mentioned is anything about Jews or Israel. There is a link to an Arabic version of the site but none to a Hebrew version. One Jerusalem has repeatedly warned that the Obama Administration is intent on taking Jerusalem away from the Jewish people. Unfortunately the evidence supporting this proposition continues to pile up.

  • Take a look at this piece of propaganda brought to you by the Obama Administration. After you look let Obama know what you think, let your elected Representatives know as well.

Schools Reopen in Pakistan’s Battle-Scarred Swat Valley

Scores of eager children headed back to school in northern Pakistan‘s battle-scarred Swat Valley on Saturday, many taking classes in buildings damaged during recent fighting between Taliban militants and security forces. But attendance on the first day of the new academic year was low, with hundreds of students staying away. Many families have still not returned home to the valley’s main town of Mingora, where the Taliban once held sway. Reopening schools in Swat, a former tourist haven, is just one piece of the puzzle for authorities trying to rehabilitate the valley, but it may be the most symbolic and psychologically important step yet, as destroying schools — particularly those teaching girls — was a key part of the Taliban’s reign in the valley.

U.S. Deaths Up in Afghanistan

The deaths brought to 42 the number of Americans killed in Afghanistan in July — the bloodiest month for U.S. and international forces during the eight-year Afghan war. A Taliban ambush on a NATO convoy in western Afghanistan left nine insurgents and a policeman dead, a police official said Friday. A U.S. servicemember died in the south of the country

Iran Begins Trial of Postelection ‘Rioters’

Iran‘s state media reports that a group of opposition political activists and protesters are standing trial in Tehran on charges of rioting after the disputed presidential election. The semi-official Fars news agency says there are more than 100 defendants at the court, in what is Iran’s first trial of people detained following the June 12 election. Fars said the defendants included several prominent reformist opposition activists. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched in days of protests after the election denouncing official results that declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner.

U.S. Now a ‘Coalition of One’ in Iraq

The war in Iraq was truly an American-only effort Saturday after Britain and Australia, the last of its international partners, pulled out. Little attention was paid in Iraq to what effectively ended the so-called coalition of the willing, with the U.S. — as the leader of Multi-National Force, Iraq — letting the withdrawals pass without any public demonstration. At its height, the coalition numbered about 300,000 soldiers from 38 countries_ 250,000 from the United States, about 40,000 from Britain, and the rest ranging from 2,000 Australians to 70 Albanians. But most of the United States’ traditional European allies, those who supported actions in Afghanistan and the previous Iraq war, sat it out.

A string of bombings targeted Shiite worshippers in the Baghdad area during Friday prayers, killing at least 29 people in an apparently coordinated attack against followers of an anti-U.S. cleric who were blamed for some of Iraq’s worst sectarian violence. The blasts shattered a recent calm and underscored warnings that suspected Sunni insurgents would step up efforts to stoke sectarian violence as the Americans draw down their forces. Despite the violence, July remained one of the calmest months for Iraqis and the least deadly for American forces.

Nigeria Police Claim Victory over Radical Islamic Sect

Five days of fighting between government forces and a radical Islamist sect left dirt roads soaked with blood, buildings scorched and about 700 dead, including the group’s leader, but revenge attacks were feared even as the national police claimed victory. Mohammed Yusuf, head of the Boko Haram sect, was killed on Thursday after he was found hiding in a goat pen at the home of his in-laws, but the circumstances grew murkier on Friday. Emmanuel Ojukwu, spokesman of the national police, said Yusuf’s death spelled the end of his group which espouses anti-Western views and had been gathering disciples for years. “This group operates under a charismatic leader. They will no more have any inspiration,” Ojukwu told AP. “The leader who they thought was invincible and immortal has now been proved otherwise.”

Earthquakes

A minor earthquake rattled the mountainous area of southeastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Georgia on Saturday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The 3.2-magnitude temblor happened about 11 a.m. Saturday. Its epicenter was located about 55 miles east of Chattanooga. Becky Cearley, a dispatcher with the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, described the incident as “pretty intense.” “It shook the whole entire building for what seemed like forever, but it was just a matter of seconds,” she said. She said she received no reports of damage or injuries.

Wildfires

Five wildfires are burning in northern Arizona, and have consumed 6,162 acres (or 9.6 sq. mi.) through Sunday. Twenty-two other wildfires of 100 acres or more are burning in the Western U.S.

Strong winds fanned forest fires on the Canary Islands for a second day Sunday on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma, and firefighters were forced to retreat as flames raged out of control near two towns. Around 500 firefighters have been deployed along with seven water-dropping aircraft. Some 4,000 residents were evacuated from the area Saturday. Flames have so far destroyed some 50 homes.