Christians on High Alert over Hate Crimes Passage

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a hate crimes bill that Christian leaders have warned for years could greatly infringe on the rights of those who speak to loudly about their religious views. Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel agrees with most observers that President Obama will sign the measure — adding that the president desires to “throw a bone to homosexual activists because they have been breathing down his neck…and this is a way to hold them off.” Barber views the legislation as something akin to a muzzle. “Unfortunately, it places Christians — people of faith, people who have traditional values relative to sexual immorality…in an untenable position,” says the attorney. He notes that several years ago, a similar law in Pennsylvania resulted in the arrest of 11 Christians who were presenting the gospel at a Philadelphia homosexual rally. Barber goes on to say that the federal bill “will chill religious liberty and free speech — and that is its intended purpose, not to protect anybody from hate crimes.”

Insider Reveals Secrets of North American Union Plot

The integration of the United States with Canada and Mexico, long deemed by many as little more than a fanciful “conspiracy theory,” was actually an idea promoted by the Council on Foreign Relations and sold to President Bush as a means of increasing commerce and business interests throughout North America, according to a top Canadian businessman. Thomas d’Aquino, CEO and president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives – the Canadian counterpart to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – confirmed in an interview recently published in Canada that the Council on Foreign Relations was the prime mover in establishing the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, or SPP. Published by the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel, the d’Aquino interview verifies that the creation of the SPP was not a “conspiracy theory” but a well-thought-out North American integration plan launched by his organization, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, along with the Council on Foreign Relations in the United States.

Climate Control Leads to One-World Government

Will the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks usher in a one-world government? Lord Christopher Monckton, the former advisor for science policy to Lady Margaret Thatcher, believes that if the U.S. signs any climate treaty coming out of the Copenhagen climate change conference in December, it could subject the United States to a global dictatorship. Monckton explains his concerns. “[T]his treaty of Copenhagen, which is going to be negotiated by the states’ parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, is going to…establish for the first time in human history a global government,” he warns. Monckton contends that the word “government” appears twice in paragraph 38 of the draft, and that paragraphs 36 through 38 explain that the purpose of the treaty is to establish a world government. “Whose job,” he explains, “will be to transfer wealth from the wealthy countries, such as the United States most of all, to Third World countries — and the excuse for this transfer of wealth is so-called ‘reparation.'” He adds that this world government will have the ability to make the U.S. pay.

Swine H1N1 Flu

Swine flu is more widespread now than it’s ever been, and has resulted in more than 1,000 U.S. deaths so far. Flu illnesses are as widespread now as they are at the winter peak of normal flu seasons, said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. “Many millions” of Americans have had swine flu so far, according to an estimate he gave at a Friday press conference. The government doesn’t test everyone to confirm swine flu so it doesn’t have an exact count.

More Americans have been vaccinated against seasonal flu this fall than ever before by this time of year, federal health officials said Friday. Sixty million people have gotten the winter flu vaccine — probably because they’re paying more attention to flu warnings in general, thanks to swine flu. It’s an unprecedented number of seasonal flu shots for October; most usually aren’t given until later in the fall.

President Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency, giving his health chief the power to let hospitals move emergency rooms offsite to speed treatment and protect noninfected patients. The declaration, signed Friday night and announced Saturday, comes with the disease more prevalent than ever in the country and production delays undercutting the government’s initial, optimistic estimates that as many as 120 million doses of the vaccine could be available by mid-October.

  • Keep in mind the CBS News report from our previous SOTT that says there is little testing going on for people with flu-like symptoms. The diagnosis of swine flu is questionable.

Clunkers Clogging Recycling Yards

Cash for Clunkers may be history for car shoppers, but the program’s largesse lives on in recycling yards around the country. A torrent of traded-in clunkers have arrived at auto recyclers in the past two months and are still waiting to be drained of fluids, stripped of valuable parts and eventually flattened for scrap. At some disposal facilities clunkers are parked bumper to bumper on several acres, “I’ve got a parking lot of almost 4,000 vehicles right now,” said Harry Haluptzok, chief executive of John’s Auto Parts in Blaine, Minn., near Minneapolis. His business typically dismantles 100 vehicles per week, but the workload has now more than doubled, and Haluptzok hired 10 more workers to keep up with all the extra vehicles.

Small Business Faces Sharp Rise in Health Costs

As Congress nears votes on legislation that would overhaul the health care system, many small businesses say they are facing the steepest rise in insurance premiums they have seen in recent years. Insurance brokers and benefits consultants say their small business clients are seeing premiums go up an average of about 15 percent for the coming year — double the rate of last year’s increases. The higher premiums at least partly reflect the inexorable rise of medical costs, which is forcing Medicare to raise premiums, too. Health insurance bills are also rising for big employers, but because they have more negotiating clout, their increases are generally not as steep. Higher medical costs aside, some experts say they think the insurance industry, under pressure from Wall Street, is raising premiums to get ahead of any legislative changes that might reduce their profits.

Economic News

The cascade of bank failures this year surpassed 100 on Friday, the most in nearly two decades. And the trouble in the banking system from bad loans and the recession goes even deeper than the number suggests. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other banks remain open even though they are as weak as many that have been shuttered. Regulators are seizing banks slowly and selectively — partly to avoid inciting panic and partly because buyers for bad banks are hard to find.

An economic survey out Monday provides fresh evidence that a fitful recovery is underway as customer demand grows in the third quarter for the first time in more than a year and the jobs outlook brightens a bit. For the first time since the recession began, the portion of companies planning to add employees in the next six months outnumbered those expecting to cut jobs. Twenty-four percent plan to grow their workforce, 20% say they’ll trim staff and 57% expect no change. Forty-four percent of firms reported rising customer demand, vs. 21% with falling demand, the first time gainers outpaced losers since July 2008.

The decline in U.S. newspaper circulation is accelerating as the industry struggles with defections to the Internet and tumbling ad revenue. Figures released Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations show that average daily circulation dropped 10.6% in the April-September period from the same six-month span in 2008. That was greater than the 7.1% decline in the October 2008-March 2009 period and the 4.6% drop in the April-September period of 2008.

Britain Still in Recession

The British economy shrank 0.4% in the third quarter, surprising forecasters and dashing hopes the country would follow France and Germany out of recession. The disappointing figure leaves Britain in the grip of the worst downturn since official records began in 1955 and piles pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown‘s government ahead of next year’s general election. Rew had forecast a drop large enough to bring the total fall in output since the start of the recession to 5.9%. The persistent decline comes despite concerted attempts by the government and Bank of England to boost the economy.

European Missile Shield

Vice President Joe Biden made significant strides during a trip to Central Europe this week in relieving anxieties the Obama administration stirred up last month when it scrapped a Bush-era plan for missile defense. Biden won agreement Friday from the Czech Republic to join Obama’s reconfigured missile defense system, just two days after Poland said it also would take part. The NATO chief, meanwhile, praised the new plan as offering good defense for the West from future Iranian threats. “Ministers welcomed the fact the new approach puts European missile defense more into a NATO context,” NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in nearby Bratislava after U.S. Defense Minister Robert Gates briefed alliance defense ministers on the system. “It is good for solidarity.

  • And also good for globalism

Violence in Jerusalem

Israeli police firing stun grenades faced off Sunday against masked Palestinian protesters hurling stones and plastic chairs outside the Holy Land‘s most volatile shrine, where past violence has escalated into prolonged conflict. A wall of Israeli riot police behind plexiglass shields marched toward young men covering their faces with T-shirts and scarves, sending many of them running for cover into the Al-Aqsa mosque, one of the Islamic structures in the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Eighteen protesters were arrested, and no serious injuries were reported. But even mild troubles at the disputed compound in Jerusalem‘s Old City can quickly ignite widespread unrest, and police remained on high alert.

Iranian Duplicity

U.N. inspectors entered a once-secret uranium enrichment facility with bunker-like construction and heavy military protection that raised Western suspicions about the extent and intent of Iran‘s nuclear program. The visit Sunday by the four-member International Atomic Energy Agency team, reported by state media, was the first independent look inside the planned nuclear fuel lab, a former ammunition dump burrowed into the treeless hills south of Tehran and only publicly disclosed last month. No results from the inspection are expected until the team leaves the country, but some Iranian officials hailed the visit as an example that their nuclear program was open to international scrutiny.

  • Open? It was a closely guarded secret until it was discovered. Secrecy implies guilt not openness.

Afghanistan

NATO defense ministers signaled broad support Friday for a robust counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, adding to the momentum favoring a substantial U.S. troop hike. Without discussing troop levels, NATO ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, endorsed the strategy put forward by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and allied commander. The alliance rejected competing proposals to narrow the military mission to simply fighting the remnants of al-Qaida. “The only way to ensure that Afghanistan does not become once again a safe haven for terrorism is if it is made strong enough to resist the insurgency as well,” said Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s secretary-general. “In Afghanistan, you cannot separate counterterrorism from counterinsurgency.”

Taliban fighters warned Afghans not to take part in the war-wracked country’s upcoming presidential runoff, threatening Saturday to launch a fresh wave of violence on polling day to stop them. The warnings came on the first official day of campaigning for the Nov. 7 vote. The militant group denounced the race between President Hamid Karzai and challenger Abdullah Abdullah as “a failed, American process” and said its fighters would “launch operations against the enemy and stop people from taking part.” The statement said Taliban militants will also cut off key roads and highways, and warned that anyone who casts a ballot “will bear responsibility for their actions.” Taliban fighters killed dozens of civilians during the first round on Aug. 20, barraging several southern cities with rocket-fire and cutting off the ink-stained fingers of at least two people who cast ballots in the militant south.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s top challenger called for a “dramatic increase” in troops to ensure security in his country, suggesting a failure to send in reinforcements could put Afghanistan “at risk” of falling to insurgents Abdullah also warned that without assurances that the vote will be credible it will be difficult to convince voters to turn out. He did not say whether he would consider a boycott of the runoff if reforms are not made.

A series of helicopter crashes killed 14 Americans on Monday, the U.S. military said. It was one of the deadliest days of the war for U.S. troops. Two other U.S. choppers collided while in flight. U.S. authorities have ruled out hostile fire in the collision. Another chopper went down in the west of the country after leaving the scene of a firefight with insurgents.

Pakistan

The army captured the strategically located hometown of Pakistan’s Taliban chief Saturday after fierce fighting, officials said, snagging its first big prize in a major U.S.-backed offensive along the Afghan border. Pakistan’s 8-day-old offensive in the Taliban and Al Qaeda stronghold of South Waziristan is considered its most critical test yet in the campaign to stop the spread of violent extremism in this nuclear-armed country. The army operation has prompted a wave of retaliatory attacks by militants this month that have killed some 200 people.

A suicide bomber attacked a suspected nuclear-weapons site in Pakistan Saturday, “raising fears about the security of the nuclear arsenal.” The report notes that Pakistan’s nuclear sites are mostly in the northwest of the country, close to the capital, Islamabad, to keep them away from the border with India. But that means, the reports says, that they are close to Pakistani Taliban extremists, who are concentrated in the northwest. In 2007, the nuclear-missile storage site at Sargodha was attacked and in 2008, a team of suicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrance to the Wah armament factory, which is thought to be one of Pakistan’s main nuclear-weapons assembly locations.

Iraq

Two suicide car bombs exploded in downtown Baghdad Sunday, killing at least 155 people and wounding over 500 more, delivering a powerful blow to the heart of the fragile city’s government in the worst attack of the year, officials said. While violence has dropped dramatically in the country since the height of the sectarian tensions, such bombings like Sunday’s demonstrate the precarious nature of the security gains and the insurgency’s abilities to still pull off devastating attacks in the center of what is supposed to be one of Baghdad’s most secure areas. The car bombs, which targeted the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial administration, come as Iraq is preparing for elections scheduled this January, and many Iraqi officials have warned that violence by insurgents intent destabilizing the country could rise.

Another Strong Quake Hits Indonesia

Seismologists say another strong earthquake has hit Indonesia. Reports of damage or injuries were not immediately available. The U.S. Geological Survey says Saturday’s quake — the second strong temblor in two days — had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0. It was located 144 miles north-northwest of Indonesia’s Tanimbar Islands at a depth of 86 miles. Saturday’s quake came as Indonesia is still recovering from another earthquake last month island that killed more than 1,000 people on western Sumatra.

  • Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any nation

Hunger Strikes East Africa

The Horn of Africa is bracing itself as a severe and prolonged drought tightens its grip. Recent reports predict that as many as 23 million people could be on the brink of starvation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea and other countries. Drought has seized the area for four successive years, bringing with it bad harvests. Coupled with conflict, climate change and population growth the crisis has left millions of people desperate for food. This week, the Ethiopian government has asked the international community for emergency food aid for 6.2 million people. In Kenya, where at least one in ten already receives emergency rations, an estimated four million people are at risk.

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