Archive for November, 2009

November 30, 2009

Bishops Covered Up Priests’ Child Abuse

Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin covered up decades of child abuse by priests to protect the church’s reputation, an expert commission reported Thursday after a three-year investigation. Abuse victims welcomed the report on the Dublin Archdiocese’s mishandling of abuse complaints against its parish priests from 1975 to 2004. It followed a parallel report published in May into five decades of rape, beatings and other cruelty committed by Catholic orders of nuns and brothers nationwide in church-run schools, children’s workhouses and orphanages from the 1930s to mid-1990s. The government said the Dublin investigation “shows clearly that a systemic, calculated perversion of power and trust was visited on helpless and innocent children in the archdiocese.”

  • Many illegal and immoral acts are routinely performed to protect the “church.” This is not what Jesus wants for His Church. Instead, the “hidden things of shame” (2Cor. 4:2) need to be brought out into the light to be exposed and healed (Eph. 5:13)

‘Honor Killings’ in USA Raise Concerns

Muslim immigrant men have been accused of six “honor killings” in the United States in the past two years, prompting concerns that the Muslim community and police need to do more to stop such crimes. Honor killings are generally defined as murders of women by relatives who claim the victim brought shame to the family. Thousands of such killings have occurred in Muslim countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and Palestinian territories, according to the World Health Organization. Some clerics and even lawmakers in these countries have said families have the right to commit honor killings as a way of maintaining values.

  • Islam is especially regressive toward women who are treated more as property than human beings

Military Divorces Edge Up

Divorce rates among Army enlisted soldiers continued a gradual and steady increase for the seventh straight year with nearly 10,000 married G.I.s ending marriages during fiscal 2009, according Pentagon figures released Friday. Four percent of marriages among enlisted soldiers failed. The trend mirrors findings by Army battlefield researchers earlier this month that revealed a similar year-by-year increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq who complain of failing marriages. The evidence shows that long and multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are damaging military marriages, says Lt. Col. Paul Bliese, a research psychologist. The divorce rate within the Army is not the highest among the services — Air Force enlisted airmen registered a 4.3% divorce rate this year. The overall divorce rate in the U.S. military increased from 3.4% to 3.6% this year.

Senate Begins Health Care Debate

With the Senate set to begin debate Monday on health care overhaul, the all-hands-on-deck Democratic coalition that allowed the bill to advance is fracturing. Some Democratic senators say they’ll jump ship without tighter restrictions on abortion coverage. Others say they’ll go unless a government plan to compete with private insurance companies gets tossed. Such concessions would enrage liberals, the heart and soul of the party. The public is ambivalent about the Democrats’ legislation. While 58 percent want elected officials to tackle health care now, about half of those supporters say they don’t like what they’re hearing about the plans, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Red Kettle Campaign Expands Beyond Pocket Change

The Christian Post reports that The Salvation Army’s signature campaign is now letting people donate plastic in 120 cities. The 118th Red Kettle Christmas campaign added credit card readers to more than 300 kettle sites and marketed virtual red kettles on various corporate and individual websites, including Facebook. “These electronic payment machines let everyone get into the charitable Christmas spirit even if they don’t have quarters, dimes and nickels,” said Major George Hood, The Salvation Army’s National Community Relations and Development Secretary. The move acknowledges that fewer people are paying for Christmas with cash. “Our local units are taking the initiative to meet donors wherever they are, and however they would choose to give, whether that be with a credit card, online, or in our traditional Red Kettles,” he added.

Administration Plans New Efforts on Foreclosures

With the foreclosure crisis showing no signs of relenting, the Obama administration plans to expand a program aimed at helping people remain in their homes. The goal of the announcement, expected Monday, is to increase the rate at which troubled home loans are converted into new loans with lower monthly payments. Industry officials said the effort would include increased pressure on mortgage companies to accelerate loan modifications by highlighting firms that are lagging in that area. The Treasury is also expected to announce that it will wait until the loan modifications are permanent before paying cash incentives to mortgage companies that lower loan payments. Under a $75 billion Treasury program, companies that agree to lower payments for troubled borrowers collect $1,000 initially from the government for each loan, followed by $1,000 annually for up to three years. The program has come under heavy criticism for failing to do enough to attack a tidal wave of foreclosures. Analysts said the foreclosure crisis is likely to persist well into next year as high unemployment pushes more people out of their homes.

Food Stamp Use Soaring

Food stamp use is expanding so rapidly in places so diverse that it is becoming nearly as ordinary as the groceries it buys. More than 36 million people use inconspicuous plastic cards for staples like milk, bread and cheese, swiping them at counters in blighted cities and in suburbs pocked with foreclosure signs. Virtually all have incomes near or below the federal poverty line, but their eclectic ranks testify to the range of people struggling with basic needs. They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare. From the ailing resorts of the Florida Keys to Alaskan villages along the Bering Sea, the program is now expanding at a pace of about 20,000 people a day. Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who oversees it would like it to grow even faster. “I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”

  • That our government wants to see this program expand even further is indicative of the underlying desire for more dependency and more control over every aspect of our lives.

Economic News

Shoppers took to stores in big numbers over the holiday weekend, but average spending per person fell as they snapped up bargains — trend retail analysts expect to continue through Christmas. The retail federation says 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the weekend, up from 172 million last year, based on a survey of almost 5,000 consumers by BIGresearch. On average, consumers spent $343.31 per person vs. $372.57 a year ago, the survey said.

Growing ranks of U.S. citizens are heading to street corners and home improvement store parking lots to find day-labor work usually done by illegal immigrants. The trend is most pronounced in regions where hot construction markets have collapsed. Day laborers gather at high-traffic spots such as busy intersections and home improvement stores, looking for pick-up work such as painting, laying bricks or landscaping. Contractors and homeowners describe the jobs and negotiate pay on the spot.

UN Wants $7.1 Billion for 2010 Humanitarian Work

The United Nations asked Monday for $7.1 billion to pay for its humanitarian work around the world next year, with Sudan and its troubled Darfur region most in need and Afghanistan rising to second. The money will go toward providing 48 million people in 25 countries with urgent aid such as tents, water and medicines, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urged countries not to cut back on humanitarian donations as they struggle with economic turmoil at home. Last year the U.N. originally asked donors for $7 billion, but additional appeals pushed the total figure for 2009 to $9.7 billion as conflicts in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Palestinian territory of Gaza demanded increased humanitarian responses. The global body said it received just under two-thirds of the money it asked for.

Afghanistan

The Afghanistan strategy President Obama will detail Tuesday involves more than sending additional forces, experts and officials say, and will give the president a chance to address growing public skepticism. The president’s decision, which will be announced in a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., comes after months of debate within the administration. That debate intensified as the Afghan insurgency continued to heat up throughout the year, the Afghan government was roiled by a disputed election and a troop request by the top U.S. commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was leaked to The Washington Post in September.

Iran

Responding to a U.N. demand that Iran stop its uranium-enrichment activity, an Iranian official suggests that his country may pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If Iran were to follow through on the threat, it would no longer be subject to oversight by the U.N. nuclear agency, which would seriously hinder efforts to ensure that enriched uranium was not used for nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its nuclear program is meant only for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and other nations fear Iran is developing weapons. Two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency rebuked Iran over its nuclear program, the Iranian Cabinet on Sunday ordered a dramatic expansion of the program that would include an additional 10 nuclear plants.

Iranian state radio says the country’s parliament has approved a bill earmarking $20 million to support militant groups opposing the West. It was not immediately clear which groups would receive funding from Iran, but Tehran already backs the Islamic militants Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The move is seen as a reaction to U.S. and British criticism of Iran’s violent crackdown on protests after the disputed June presidential election.

Honduras

Honduras will hold general elections on Sunday, which many hope will allow the Central American nation to move past a six-month political crisis. Neither ousted president Manuel Zelaya or the de facto leader Roberto Micheletti are running for office. But the dispute between the two men remains a key issue in the campaign. About 30,000 police officers and soldiers were set to be deployed across Honduras. Those who support ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who was forced from office in a coup in June, are urging citizens to stay home. They say that participating in the polls is tantamount to legitimizing the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti, who replaced Zelaya. The current government, on the other hand, sees the election as a means to end months of international isolation. The coup, widely condemned worldwide, cut off foreign aid to the Central American nation and dealt a blow to its economy.

November 28, 2009

Worldwide Poll Finds Strong Support for Right to Criticize Religion

The Christian Post reports that countries in the Western Hemisphere overwhelmingly favor the right to criticize religions, while strong Muslim majority countries were more likely to favor restrictions. Of the 18,000 people surveyed, 57 percent agreed that “people should be allowed to publicly criticize religion because people should have freedom of speech.” A full third of those surveyed, however, said government should have the right “to fine or imprison people who publicly criticize a religion because such criticism could defame the religion.” In the United States, 89 percent said public criticism should be allowed, the highest of any country surveyed. Egypt most fully supports the counter position, with 71 percent agreeing that religion should not be criticized.

Religion-Based Hate Crimes Highest Since 2001

Religion News Service reports that hate crime incidents targeting people based on their religion were at their highest frequency last year since 2001, according to a new report. The report, compiled by the Anti-Defamation League from FBI data, found 1,519 religious hate crimes in 2008, accounting for about 20 percent of all bias crimes. It was an increase from 2007, when 1,400 crimes of religious bias were reported. The number of crimes targeting Jews or Jewish institutions also increased in 2008. There were 1,013 hate crimes against Jews last year, accounting for about two-thirds of all religious bias crimes. It was the largest number of crimes against Jews since 2001. Overall, hate crimes rose slightly in 2008, with participating agencies reporting 7,783 bias crimes. Racial bias accounted for about half of all those reported, with attacks aimed at ethnicity and sexual orientation accounting for much of the balance.

  • Religious fervor, for and against, will continue to heat up as the end-time showdown between the One True God and the pretenders comes to a head.

Global-Warming Bill Capped Until Spring

A leading global-warming skeptic says the cap-and-trade legislation that has been temporarily shelved in the Senate is “a turkey of a bill” that even some key Democrats are unwilling to support. Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer (California) and John Kerry (Massachusetts) had wanted to get their cap-and-trade legislation on the Senate floor before the end of the year, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has postponed debate until at least next spring. The goal of the bill is to reduce alleged “manmade global warming” by cutting carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. Marc Morano, editor of ClimateDepot.com, says the bill is being put off because it lacks the Democratic support it needs. “What has happened in the United States Senate is literally Democrats [are withdrawing their support] — and we’re not talking about conservatives or even moderates in many cases,” Morano explains. According to Morano, it has now become politically expedient to be a global-warming skeptic. “This is a sea-change, and what’s happened is the polling data’s showing that more Americans believe in haunted houses than [they do] manmade global warming — [and that] has literally spooked the United States Congress,” contends the website editor.

Americans No Longer Believe in Health ‘Crisis’

A poll released Friday shows Americans’ belief in the current health care system has risen dramatically in the last year, and support for a socialized solution to a health care “crisis” has nearly evaporated. The latest results from Rasmussen Reports show 49 percent of Americans now rate the quality of U.S. health care system as good or excellent, to only 27 percent that still argue it’s poor. The favorable numbers reflect a 20-point jump from prior to the presidential election, when a June 2008 Rasmussen poll showed only 29 percent rated the health care system so well and 37 percent rated it poor. “Those opposed to Mr. Obama’s reform appear to have momentum on their side,” writes pollster Scott Rasmussen in a Wall Street Journal editorial. “It appears that the prospect of changing health care has made the existing system look better to a lot of people.” When examining proposals for government intervention, now only 38 percent favor the legislation currently working through Congress, and – in two separate poll question responses – only 18 percent attribute health care problems to the lack of universal coverage and only 13 percent favor allowing the federal government to scrap the current system and start over.

ACLU Sues for Students to Wear Anti-Islam Shirts

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued a north Florida school district, claiming that the Alachua County School District violated students’ rights by not allowing them to wear T-shirts with an anti-Islamic message. The civil rights organization says that while it doesn’t agree with the “Islam is of the Devil” message printed on T-shirts distributed by the Dove World Outreach Center, it does support the students’ constitutional right to freedom of speech. A school dress code prohibits clothing that school officials conclude would “disrupt the learning process” or cause other students to be “offended or distracted.” The students were sent home for violation of the code after declining to change out of the shirts. The church was the target of protests after it posted a sign with the same message on its property in July.

  • Surprising to see the ACLU on the side of Christians

Obama Grandmother Makes Muslim Pilgrimage

The 87-year-old Kenyan grandmother of President Obama – once described by the Associated Press as a “Christian” – is making the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the Hajj, according to news reports. The annual Islamic tradition was noted by the president, who issued a special statement today as Sarah Obama was reported to be a guest of the Saudi Arabian king. Obama’s grandmother, known locally as “Mama Sarah,” lives in Kogelo, a tiny village near the Ugandan border. In April, eyewitnesses and a translator claim Sarah Obama stated her famous grandson was born in Kenya, further fueling speculation Barack Obama is ineligible to serve as president.

New Home Sales Up, Mortgage Rates Down

Sales of new homes rose last month to the highest level in more than a year as strong activity in the U.S. South offset weakness in the rest of the country. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales rose 6.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 430,000. There were 239,000 new homes for sale at the end of October, the lowest inventory level in nearly four decades. At the current sales pace, that’s a 6.7 months of supply, down from last winter’s peak of more than a year. The surge in sales was driven entirely by a 23% increase in the South. Sales fell about 5% in the West and Northeast, and fell 20% in the Midwest. The median sales price of $212,200 was almost even with $213,200 a year earlier, but up almost 1% from September’s level of $210,700. Freddie Mac reported Wednesday that average rates for 30-year fixed mortgages have matched a record low 4.78% this week. However, credit standards remain stringent, so the best rates usually are available only to borrowers with solid credit and a 20% down payment.

Economic News

Gold prices hit record highs above $1,190 an ounce on last week as the dollar fell sharply and the market expected central banks from emerging economies to keep buying bullion from the International Monetary Fund. Gold prices have risen nearly 15 percent since the beginning of November, on a combination of interest to diversify into the metal, a steadily falling U.S. dollar and inflation worries. “The central banks, particularly in Asia, confirm that there is demand for gold as a means of diversifying their large foreign exchange reserves,” RBS Global Banking & Markets analyst Daniel Major said.

Deadly Russia Train Derailment an Act of Terrorism

An express train carrying hundreds of passengers from Moscow to St. Petersburg derailed, killing dozens of people and injuring scores of others in what “appears to be an act of terrorism” caused by a chemical bomb, officials said. The head of the Russian Federal Security Service told the country’s news agency Interfax that traces of explosives were found at the train crash site, including chemical residue from a homemade bomb. “We have the blast remains: a crater. There is little doubt this is terrorism.” Thirty people were killed in the accident and nearly 100 injured. Terrorism has been a major concern in Russia since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, as Chechen rebels have clashed with government forces in two wars.

16 Colombian Christians Kidnapped, Told to Recant

Mission News Network reports that 16 Christians in Columbia have been kidnapped and told to recant their faith if they want to be released. The Christians, who are members of Columbia’s Kogui tribe, were captured by the Kogui governor after he called them to a community meeting. The governor reportedly wants to eliminate the 120 Christians from the rest of the 11,000-member tribe. The abducted Christians include men, women and infants, two of whom are seriously ill. Their captors have refused to let them seek medical attention and continue to hold them in a remote location. According to Voice of the Martyrs Canada, the largest inhibitors of religious freedom in Columbia are guerrilla and criminal groups. They often target Christian leaders who actively oppose corruption and the drug trade, trying to cut off their influence.

Iran

The U.N. nuclear agency’s board censured Iran on Friday, with 25 nations backing a resolution that demands Tehran immediately mothball its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop uranium enrichment. Iran remained defiant, with its chief representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency declaring that his country would resist “pressure, resolutions, sanction(s) and threat of military attack.” The resolution — and the resulting vote of the IAEA‘s 35-nation decision-making board — were significant on several counts. The resolution was endorsed by six world powers — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — reflecting a rare measure of unity on Iran. Moscow and Beijing have acted as a traditional drag on efforts to punish Iran for its nuclear defiance, either preventing new Security Council sanctions or watering down their potency. They did not formally endorse the last IAEA resolution in 2006, which referred Iran to the Security Council, starting the process that has resulted in three sets of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Afghanistan

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday that NATO nations are ready to offer about 5,000 more troops for the war in Afghanistan following talks with about 10 NATO nations in recent weeks. Britain has not named the countries it claims will provide the extra troops, though Slovakia last week offered 250 more soldiers following London talks. Georgia has pledged between 700 and 1,000 soldiers, and South Korea has said it would send “several hundred” to protect its reconstruction teams.

The United States will not be in Afghanistan eight years from now, the White House said on Wednesday, as President Barack Obama prepared to explain to Americans next week why he is expanding the war effort. After months of deliberation and fending off Republican charges that he was dithering on Afghanistan while violence there surged, Obama will address the nation on Tuesday on the way forward in the costly and unpopular eight-year war.

The Afghan government is raising police salaries by as much as two-thirds, with the U.S. and others footing the bill, in an effort to rein in corruption and boost recruitment. The central government will increase Afghan National Police monthly pay in volatile provinces to $240 from $180, and in nonvolatile provinces to $200 from $120, Interior Ministry spokesman Zamarai Bashari said. He said the U.S. has pledged to pay for the wage increase for the first year, and other donor countries will contribute in subsequent years.

Weather

Rare, heavy rainstorms soaked pilgrims and flooded the road into Mecca, snarling Islam’s annual hajj as millions of Muslims headed for the holy sites. The downpours add an extra hazard on top of intense concerns about the spread of swine flu. Pilgrims in white robes holding umbrellas, some wearing face masks for fear of the flu, circled the black cube-shaped Kaaba in Mecca, the opening rite for the hajj. But the shrine — Islam’s holiest site — and the nearby, rain-soaked streets did not see the usual massive crowds, because many stayed inside nearby hotels. The hajj — a lifetime dream for Muslims to cleanse their sins — is always a logistical nightmare, as a population the size of a small city moves between Mecca and holy sites in the nearby desert over the course of four days. In the past, the rites have been plagued by deadly stampedes caused by congestion as the massive crowds perform the rituals.

Officials say flooding from heavy rains has killed 12 people in three South American nations and forced more than 20,000 to flee their homes. Most of the dead are in southern Brazil. Sustained stormy weather has saturated the region and caused the river between Uruguay and Argentina to overflow its banks. Government agencies report that 10,000 people have been evacuated in Brazil, along with 8,000 in northeastern Argentina and 4,000 in Uruguay.

November 25, 2009

Climate Control Conference Hopes Dashed

Come Dec. 7-18, representatives of 192 nations are set to meet in Copenhagen at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. It’s by far the most significant attempt at changing the course of global warming since world leaders met in 1997 in Japan to craft the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed 37 industrialized nations at cutting emissions of six greenhouse gases (such as the carbon dioxide emitted from burning coal, oil and natural gas, aka fossil fuels) by 5.2% from 1990 levels. It was never ratified by the U.S. Senate and expires in 2012. But despite predictions that time is running out to corral greenhouse gases, expectations already have been dashed that the Copenhagen sessions will produce a successful replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. One reason: Technologies to cut back carbon dioxide emissions from factories and vehicles that feed the global economy add costs to fuel, food and more, an option that appeals neither to industrial nations struggling with the global economic meltdown or developing nations trying to ramp up economic growth.

President Obama and China’s Hu Jintao signaled as much when they spoke Nov. 17. Obama endorsed a “two-step” plan for Copenhagen – agree to emissions limits there and worry about a legal treaty next year – and neither leader stated his limits. “Copenhagen does not need to come up with the fine print of a climate-change deal,” Yvo de Boer, head of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Nov. 4 in Barcelona. “But it needs to ensure that the heart of an agreed outcome is functional and the implementation can begin swiftly.”

  • Dashed is good, because the globalists were looking for more than a climate control treaty – they wanted to slip in language that commits nations to global governance.

Leaked Emails Show Warming Uncertainty

Unknown hackers illegally broke into a server last week at the climate institute at Britain’s University of East Anglia. The hackers then published hundreds of candid private messages in which top climate change specialists debate how to address recent data showing temperatures leveling off. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., called Monday for a congressional investigation into whether the messages demonstrate a deliberate effort by some of the scientists to overstate the effects of man-made global warming. In one leaked e-mail, the climate institute’s director, Phil Jones, wrote to colleagues about a “trick” he said that meteorologist Michael Mann employed to “hide the decline” in recent global temperatures. Some recent studies, including one by Britain’s Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research, indicate that global temperatures have plateaued during the past decade, which could undermine arguments that the Earth is undergoing a long-term warming trend because of the burning of fossil fuels. Jones has denied manipulating evidence and said his comments were taken out of context.

Kennedy Abortion debate Puts Politics, Religion back in Spotlight

A dispute over abortion between the only remaining Kennedy in Congress and his Roman Catholic bishop has highlighted the political volatility of the issue and the challenge it presents to the nation’s Catholics. “How can you claim to be a Catholic and also support abortion?” Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, asked Monday, discussing his request that Rep. Patrick Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat, stop receiving Holy Communion because of his pro-choice politics. The issue is considered much broader than a public rift between the two men. A sweeping health care bill in Congress could get derailed by conflicts over abortion language, with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last week criticizing a Senate version of the measure for lacking the tougher language adopted earlier by the House. The dispute with Tobin festered anew when Kennedy publicly criticized the Catholic Church for opposing health care reform that lacked stringent anti-abortion language.

Obama’s Performance Rating Hits Lowest Mark Yet

President Obama’s approval ratings hit their lowest ranking yet in the Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll out Tuesday, with 27 percent strongly approving of the president’s job performance and 42 percent strongly disapproving, an index rating of -15.  Approval is strongly divided by party with 52 percent of Democrats strongly approving and 68 percent of Republicans strongly disapproving. However, Obama appears to be losing the critical independent vote with 16 percent of unaffiliated voters strongly approving and 33 percent of independent voters approving overall. Fifty-one percent of independents strongly disapprove.

Public approval of President Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan has plummeted, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, amid rising pessimism about the course of the conflict: 55% disapprove of the way he is handling Afghanistan and 35% approve, a reversal of his 56% approval rating four months ago. The nation is divided over what to do next: Nearly half of those surveyed endorse deploying thousands of additional U.S. troops, while four in 10 say it’s time to begin withdrawing forces.

Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government

The United States government is financing its more than trillion-dollar-a-year borrowing with i.o.u.’s on terms that seem too good to be true. But that happy situation, aided by ultralow interest rates, may not last much longer. Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed. Even as Treasury officials are racing to lock in today’s low rates by exchanging short-term borrowings for long-term bonds, the government faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners into default on their mortgages, according to the New York Times. With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher. In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Americans’ Tax Burden is Lightest in Developed World

Total U.S. tax revenues in 2008 equaled 26.9% of gross domestic product, according to provisional figures released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. That figure – which includes local, state and federal taxes, including Social Security – was lower than the 1990 ratio and far below levels across Europe. In Denmark, the total tax take exceeds 48% of the economy. In France, it tops 43%; Germany, 36%. Among all OECD members, the lowest 2008 ratios were recorded by South Korea (26.6%) and Turkey (23.5%).The global recession has meant lower revenues from taxes on income, property sales and stock gains in most countries. Plus, many OECD countries cut taxes in the past year in hopes of jump-starting growth. Of 26 countries that reported provisional 2008 data to the OECD, 17 saw their tax-to-GDP ratios fall. And further recession-induced declines are expected when data for this year become available.

  • The more socialism, the higher the tax burden. Obama’s programs and debt-expansion will soon have the U.S. rate up substantially.

Canada Reports ‘Unusual Number’ of Bad Reactions to Flu Shots

Canadian health officials are investigating what caused six severe allergic reactions to the H1N1 vaccine earlier this month, which the World Health Organization calls “an unusual number.” The vaccine triggered anaphylaxis, which causes breathing problems, low blood pressure and swelling of the throat, tongue, lips and eyes. It can be fatal. The inoculations came from a batch of 172,000 doses of the Arepanrix vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, that was distributed across Canada. The unused batch was recalled and all six Canadians recovered. Normally, one adverse reaction per 100,000 doses is expected. As with all drugs, GSK listed possible adverse effects when the vaccine was approved.

HIV Outbreak Peaked in 1996

The number of people worldwide infected with the virus that causes AIDS — about 33 million — has remained virtually unchanged for the last two years, United Nations experts said Tuesday. Officials say the global epidemic probably peaked in 1996 and that the disease looks stable in most regions, except for Africa. Last year, HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 72% of all 2.7 million new HIV cases worldwide. Access to AIDS drugs is helping to cut the death rate. Earlier this year, the U.N. announced there are now 4 million people on lifesaving AIDS drugs worldwide, a 10-fold increase in five years. The experts estimate there are now about 33.4 million people worldwide with HIV.

Hate Crimes Against Blacks, Religious Groups Rise

The number of crimes against black people and members of religious groups increased in 2008, making up a growing share of incidents motivated by bias, the FBI reported Monday. Those categories accounted for 56% of the 7,783 hate crimes reported in 2008. Overall, hate crimes increased 2% from 2007. The election of the first black president and hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage contributed to the spikes, anti-bias groups say. Hate crimes based on sexual orientation increased 3% to 1,297,although the number of people victimized went up 13% to 1,706.

  • Those hate crime laws sure work good

More Migrants Applying for U.S. Citizenship

The number of legal immigrants applying for citizenship rose this year in Arizona, mirroring an increase in applications nationally.         The increase comes despite sharply higher application fees and the economic downturn, which have combined to make it more difficult for immigrants to afford to apply for citizenship, advocates say. The increase also follows a year in which applications fell. Only immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years as legal, permanent residents or those who hold a green card are eligible to apply for citizenship. Fees rose nearly 69 percent in August 2007, to $675 from $400.

China Executes Two Over Tainted Milk

China on Tuesday executed two people for their roles in a tainted milk powder scandal in which at least six children died and more than 300,000 became sick. Zhang Yujun was executed for endangering public safety and Geng Jinping was executed for producing and selling toxic food, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Their sentences were upheld in March by an appellate court in the northern city of Shijiazhuang. China requires death sentences to receive final approval from the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing, after which most are carried out by lethal injection. In all 21 people were tried and sentenced in January over the scandal, including Sanlu’s general manager, Tian Wenhua, who was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to charges of producing and selling fake or substandard products.

2.1 Million Cribs Deemed Unsafe

Consumer safety officials say drop-side cribs made by Stork Craft can cause suffocation or other injuries. The federal agency in charge of product safety announced the recall of 2.1 million cribs Monday, citing defective hardware that can cause toddlers and infants to suffocate. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said parents should immediately stop using Stork Craft drop-side cribs, which are made by Stork Craft Manufacturing Inc., of British Columbia, Canada. About 1.2 million of the cribs have been distributed in the United States and 968,000 units distributed in Canada.

  • It’s not just the Chinese who distribute dangerous products

Goodbye Jobs, Hello Mom and Dad

Faced with limited job options, many young adults are turning to an old standby to weather the recession: moving back in with mom and dad. Nearly 1 in 7 parents with grown children say they had a “boomerang kid” move back home in the past year, according to a study being released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. In a turnabout in the rite of passage in which a college graduate finds a job and an apartment, many are returning to their parents’ empty nests because of tight finances or as they pursue an advanced degree. The findings are the latest to highlight the sweeping social impact of a recession that began in December 2007. The effects have included declining immigration and U.S. migration between states, as well as increased carpools, use of public transit and “doubling up” of families in single-residence homes.

Consumers Stressed Out Over Debt

A lot more Americans are feeling stressed out by debt this holiday season. In fact, fully 93 percent say they’ll spend less or about the same as last year, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Half of all those polled say they’re suffering at least some debt-related stress, and 22 percent say they’re feeling it greatly or quite a bit. That second figure is up from 17 percent from Most people, 80 percent, say they’ll use mostly cash to pay for their holiday shopping, and that generally means buying less.just last spring, despite all the talk about economic recovery.

Home Sales Jump in October

First-time buyers taking advantage of a special tax credit gave sales of existing homes in October their biggest surge in a decade, raising hopes for a turnaround in the housing market and pleasing Wall Street. While rising foreclosures and disappearing jobs still threaten the comeback, there are bidding wars for houses in some cities, and home sales are nearly 36% above their low point in January. The National Association of Realtors said resales rose 10.1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.1 million in October, from 5.5 million in September. It was the biggest monthly increase in a decade and far better than economists expected. Analysts said the gains mainly reflected the tax credit of up to $8,000 for new homeowners, which was due to expire in November before Congress extended it until spring and expanded it to more buyers.

Arizona Cuts into K-12 and Social Services

Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday approved nearly $300 million in state cuts for K-12 education and social services, capping a seven-day legislative special session devoted to the budget. Legislators face the prospect of far larger spending cuts in the months ahead. Before the day’s action, the estimated state shortfall stood at $2 billion for this fiscal year and $3 billion in the next.

Economic Growth Revised Down in 3rd Quarter

Commerce Department says GDP growth over the summer was 2.8 percent not 3.5 percent, as the recovery got off to a slower start than first thought. The main factors behind the downgrade: consumers didn’t spend as much, commercial construction was weaker and the nation’s trade deficit was more of a drag on growth. Businesses also trimmed more of their stockpiles, another restraining factor. Still, the good news is that the economy finally started to grow again, after a record four straight losing quarters. The bad news is that the rebound, now and in the months ahead, probably will be lethargic.

  • Over-optimistic government reports? What a surprise.

Economic News

Three reports delivered mixed news on the economy heading into the Thanksgiving holiday: The good news is that unemployment claims fell and consumer spending rose; the bad news is that orders for durable goods fell. New claims for jobless benefits plunged to 466,000 in the most recent week, lowest level in more than a year. The total number of workers receiving benefits also fell sharply, dropping 190,000, to 5.42 million, lowest for continuing claims since February. Consumer spending rebounded in October, rising better-than expected 0.7%; incomes also rose. Orders for durable manufactured goods dropped 0.6% in October, a weaker showing than expected.

U.S. banks are earning money again, but they’re writing fewer business loans, threatening a fragile economic recovery. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported Tuesday that U.S. bank loans fell by $210.4 billion or 2.8% during the third quarter – the biggest drop since the FDIC started keeping records in 1984. Loans to businesses fell 6.5%, and real estate loans plummeted 8.1%.

The Federal Reserve’s brain trust sees a slow recovery and high unemployment the next two years, according to the minutes of its meeting earlier this week. Fed officials foresee the jobless rate — currently 10.2% — ranging between 9.3% and 9.7% next year and easing in 2011 to around 8.6%.Inflation is likely to remain below the Fed’s projections, but there’s concern that low interest rates may be encouraging investors to indulge in “excessive” speculation.

The most accurate dollar forecasters predict the world’s reserve currency will continue sliding even when the Federal Reserve begins to raise interest rates, which policy makers say is an “extended period” away. These experts say the dollar will depreciate as much as 6.4 percent versus the euro. About $12 trillion of fiscal and monetary stimulus, the world’s lowest borrowing costs and a record $4 trillion of government bond sales between 2009 and 2010 will weigh on the currency,

Thanksgiving travelers will find gasoline prices much higher than last year with little hope for respite heading into the rest of the holiday season, oil and gas analysts say. The national average for a gallon of regular gas was $2.64 on Monday, slightly less than a month ago but up 72 cents a gallon from a year ago, the auto club AAA says.

Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction in what he says is an attempt to jumpstart Mideast peace talks. The freeze would not include east Jerusalem— the area of the holy city claimed by the Palestinians for a future capital. Netanyahu has already floated the idea, but he has never given a firm time commitment such as in Wednesday’s announcement. Even so, the Palestinians say the offer is unacceptable because it does not include east Jerusalem. The Palestinians refuse to reopen peace talks with Israel until it halts all settlement construction.

Iraq

Iraq‘s parliament passed a reworked election law Monday but failed to satisfy demands by Sunni lawmakers for better representation, leaving in doubt whether national elections can still be held in January. Dozens of angry Sunni Arab lawmakers walked out before the vote, and some members predicted the revised law will also be vetoed. The amended law calls for the votes of displaced Iraqis, who are predominantly minority Sunnis, to be counted in their home province rather than as a voting bloc that could help Sunnis win more seats in the parliament.

Afghanistan

Bombings and shootings killed 12 people across Afghanistan, including four American troops and three children, as President Barack Obama convened his war council again Monday to fine-tune a strategy to respond to the intransigent violence. Obama is considering sending tens of thousands more troops to fight an increasingly virulent insurgency, and pressure has been mounting for a decision. NATO is also calling on allied nations to add to their military presence. The violence has continued unabated despite the tens of thousands of foreign troops already in the country since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. President Obama will address the nation next Tuesday night on his vision of the way forward in Afghanistan, a White House official told Fox News.

Pakistan

The collapse of a deal granting Pakistan‘s president and thousands of other officials freedom from prosecution on graft charges has triggered fresh political turmoil just as the army wages a major battle against Taliban militants near the Afghan border. Some analysts are predicting the development could force President Asif Ali Zardari out of office, a familiar prospect in a country where no civilian leader has served out a full five-year term since the state was founded 62 years ago. Others dismiss that possibility and blame a sensationalist media, opportunist opposition politicians and elements in the army unhappy with civilian rule for fueling the crisis and distracting the government from more important issues like terrorism, education and health care.

Weather

A flotilla of hundreds of icebergs that split off Antarctic ice shelves is drifting toward New Zealand and could pose a risk to ships in the south Pacific Ocean, officials said Tuesday. The nearest one, measuring about 30 yards tall, was 160 miles southeast of New Zealand’s Stewart Island, Australian glaciologist Neal Young said. He couldn’t say how many icebergs in total were roaming the Pacific, but he counted 130 in one satellite image alone and 100 in another. Maritime officials have issued navigation warnings for the area south of the country.

November 23, 2009

Manhattan Declaration Project

As of Monday morning, 33,529 have signed the Manhattan Declaration, a petition which addresses the necessity to defend and promote the sanctity of marriage, life and religious liberty. The Manhattan Declaration will be publicly released at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington on Friday, Nov. 20, 2009. Please go to www.manhattandeclaration.org to add your name to this important document.

Senate Votes to Move Ahead on Health Care

Democrats united Saturday night to push historic health care legislation out of committee to floor debate over the opposition of Republicans. There was not a vote to spare. The 60-39 vote clears the way for a historic debate after Thanksgiving on the legislation. The measure is designed to extend coverage to an estimated 31 million Americans who lack it and crack down on insurance industry practices that deny benefits.

Only two in 10 Americans say their health insurance coverage and the quality of the health care they receive will improve if a bill passes Congress this year, despite President Obama‘s promises to improve the system for those with and without insurance More than seven in 10 of those polled say their costs and their care will either stay the same or get worse if the legislation Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing becomes law this year. Although there is widespread agreement that changes must be made in the USA, a strong majority say they are satisfied with what they have and don’t want it upended.

Companies and groups hiring lobbying firms on health issues nearly doubled this year as special interests rushed to shape the massive revamp of the nation’s health care system now in its final stretch before Congress. About 1,000 organizations have hired lobbyists since January, compared with 505 during the same period in 2008, according to a USA TODAY analysis of congressional records compiled by the nonpartisan CQ MoneyLine. Overall, health care lobbying has increased, exceeding $422 million during the first ninth months of the year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. That’s more than any other industry and a nearly 10% jump over the same period in 2008.

Drug-Resistant H1N1 Found in U.S. and U.K.

Epidemic experts say they are investigating the apparent spread of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu virus among four patients at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and five in a hospital in Wales. These clusters appear to be the first in which a virus resistant to the antiviral Tamiflu, a mainstay of flu treat, has spread from person to person, researchers said Friday. If Tamiflu-resistant virus spreads widely, swine flu will become tougher to treat and may cost more lives.

Gore Admits CO2 Does Not Cause Majority Of Global Warming

In a new development that is potentially devastating to the agenda to introduce a global carbon tax and a cap and trade system, Al Gore admits that the majority of global warming that occurred until 2001 was not primarily caused by CO2. Gore is not backing away from his support for the theory of man-made climate change, but his concession that carbon dioxide only accounted for 40% of warming according to new studies could seriously harm efforts to tax CO2, that evil, life-giving gas that humans exhale and plants absorb. Gore acknowledged to Newsweek that the findings could complicate efforts to build a political consensus around the need to limit carbon emissions.

Global Governance

In accepting his appointment as the first president of the European Union, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy announced that “global governance” is the only way to address the crises that beset the planet. “We’re living through exceptionally difficult times – the financial crisis and its dramatic impact on employment and budgets, the climate crisis which threatens our very survival, a period of anxiety, uncertainty and lack of confidence,” he said in his maiden press conference. “Yet these problems can be overcome through a joint effort between our countries. Two-thousand and nine is also the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis. The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step toward the global management of our planet.”

  • Just as Revelation 13 prophesies, one-world government is inexorably forming

State, Local Budget Cuts a “Time Bomb” for Jobs

Budget shortfalls pose a direct threat to millions of U.S. jobs, many in the private sector, as state and local governments lay off workers and cut spending on contracts and other business services. State and local governments will have to raise taxes and cut spending in the current and next two fiscal years to cover shortfalls totaling $469 billion, according to an Economic Policy Institute report. The think tank said the U.S. government must give states and cities $150 billion in direct budget relief to save between 1.1 million and 1.4 million jobs. “Given the fragility of the economy, already high unemployment and the magnitude of the budget shortfalls, it is clear that we cannot afford inaction,” the report said, calling the gaps “a ticking time bomb for the economy.”

  • Since the federal government is out of money, states and cities are going to bleed jobs over the next year or more

Government Run Ventures Drain State Budgets

Government-owned businesses that generate revenue for states and cities have taken a sharp turn downward and now are draining money from many struggling governments, a USA TODAY analysis found. States and cities operate hundreds of such enterprises — power companies, sewer systems, betting parlors, subways and more — that earned more than $120 billion in profits during the 1990s. These businesses started losing money in 2006 and are on track to lose $3.5 billion nationwide this year, according to an analysis of data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Traditional cash cows such as gambling and utilities are making less money, although they’re still profitable. Money losers such as transit systems and housing authorities are suffering growing losses. This reversal is adding to the financial squeeze state and local governments are suffering because of a 6.7% drop in tax collections during 2009. Governments are raising taxes, hiking utility rates or cutting budgets to cope.

  • Let’s not forget the Post Office and Amtrak which continue to run up enormous deficits at the federal level.

Economic News

Florida banking regulators on Friday shut down Commerce Bank of Southwest Florida, marking the 124th U.S. bank to succumb this year to the struggling economy and rising loan defaults. It was the 12th failure of a Florida bank this year. Failures also have been concentrated in California, Georgia and Illinois. The banking crisis has grown so intense that it has started to capture banks that regulators deemed healthy only months ago.

Unemployment rates rose in 29 states and the District of Columbia in October from September. The Department of Labor said 13 states registered declines and eight were unchanged.

For the first time in a decade, more people paid their credit card bills on time in the third quarter this year than in the second quarter. The delinquency rate on bank-issued cards, such as those bearing MasterCard and Visa logos, fell to 1.1% for the June-to-September period, from 1.17% the prior three months.

Indonesia

Officials say they have confiscated 75 tons of an explosive material being shipped from Malaysia to Indonesia and are investigating possible links to terrorism. Customs official Nasar Salim says the ammonium nitrate was found on a ship captured in the South China Sea. Ammonium nitrate can also be used as fertilizer, but Salim says 95% of the material imported into Indonesia is used in explosive devices. Seventeen crewmen are being questioned while police search for the shipment’s owner. Indonesia has been ravaged by terrorist attacks in recent years that killed more than 250 people

Philippines

The Philippine army says it has found 21 bodies in the country’s restive south after gunmen hijacked a convoy of politicians and supporters filing their nominations for next year’s elections. Military spokesman Lt. Col. Romen Brawner says the victims included 13 women and eight men. He says they were found in a remote village in southern Ampatuan township, where the people aboard the convoy were taken hostage as they traveled in three vans earlier Monday. Philippine elections are particularly violent in the south because of the presence of armed groups, including Muslim rebels, and political warlords who maintain private armies.

Iran

Iran on Thursday began large-scale air defense war games aimed at protecting the country’s nuclear facilities against any possible attack, state television reported. It said the five-day drill will cover an area a third of the size of Iran and spread across the central, western and southern parts of the country. The United States and its European allies accuse Iran of embarking on a nuclear weapons program. Iran denies the charge and insists the program is only for peaceful purposes. Israel has not ruled out military action to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Afghanistan

A rocket hit outside the luxury Serena Hotel in Afghanistan’s capital late Saturday, wounding at least two, the Interior Ministry said. The heavily guarded Serena regularly houses visiting diplomats, officials and international workers. It has been the target of attacks before, most recently just last month when a rocket slammed into a courtyard. The most serious attack occurred in January 2008, when militants stormed the hotel in a coordinated assault that killed seven people.

A NATO spokesman says the chief of the alliance is urging members to make commitments to boost their forces in Afghanistan in anticipation of President Obama’s decision to send more U.S. troops. Although several allies have said they will dispatch some reinforcements in response to Obama’s anticipated request, most NATO nations have so far shied away from making any firm commitments.

American and Afghan officials have begun helping a number of anti-Taliban militias that have independently taken up arms against insurgents in several parts of Afghanistan, prompting hopes of a large-scale tribal rebellion against the Taliban. The emergence of the militias, which took some leaders in Kabul by surprise, has so encouraged the American and Afghan officials that they are planning to spur the growth of similar armed groups across the Taliban heartland in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Meager Monsoon Worsens Arizona Drought

Rain and snow have ended droughts across much of the United States this year, but in Arizona, conditions have worsened, further extending a dry streak that reaches back to 1996. A weak monsoon season, bookended by meager rain in the months before and after, turned the rangelands brittle and allowed the summer wildfire season to linger through autumn. Dwindling water resources forced ranchers to sell livestock and drained watering holes that sustain wildlife. In the high country, the soil is so parched it will likely soak up some of the spring snowmelt before the water can flow into rivers and reservoirs. Enough water is stored from past years to protect Phoenix from shortages no matter what happens this winter, but the rest of the state faces a bleaker outlook that could include conservation measures or even water hauling in some places if weather patterns don’t change.

Just 2.78 inches of rain has fallen at Sky Harbor International Airport since Jan. 1, more than 4 inches below the 30-year average for mid-November. No measurable rain has fallen since Sept. 5, setting Phoenix on course to break the record, set in 2002, for the driest year on record. Similar deficits exist elsewhere: Flagstaff has recorded 7.92 inches this year, almost 12 inches below normal. Tucson has received 5.24 inches, less than half its normal through mid-November.

November 21, 2009

59 Christians Released From Jails in Pakistan

ASSIST News Service reports that 59 imprisoned Christians in various jails in Pakistan received news of their freedom on Friday, Nov. 13. The Christians were released after Rizwan Paul, president of the Christian group Life for All, presented a petition to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for the pardon of these Christians who he stated had been “falsely accused of minor crimes.” Extremely emotional scenes were seen outside the jails when the prisoners were released. Family members were present to greet their loved ones and they thanked Life for All for their efforts. The group estimates that there are still more than 2,500 Christians in jails all over Pakistan who cannot afford the legal assistance for their release.

Schools Let Students Seek Secret Abortions

A 12-year-old girl is prohibited from bringing aspirin to California public schools without a note from her mother or father – but in many California districts she may sign herself out of classes, leave her junior-high campus without parental permission, secretly have an abortion and return to school before the end of the day – and her own family may be none the wiser. Parents and educators across the state have been in heated debate over school policies allowing children to be excused during class time without parental notification for “confidential medical services” such as abortions, birth control, and drug and mental health services.

California’s San Juan Unified School District sought to change its own policy from one that prohibits students from being absent without parental knowledge except during medical emergencies to guidelines that would allow a student to leave for a “confidential medical appointment.” They were debating changing the current policy to reflect school administrators’ interpretation of California Education Code 4601.1, which states: Commencing in the fall of the 1986-87 academic year, the governing board of each school district shall, each academic year, notify pupils in grades 7 to 12, inclusive, and the parents or guardians of all pupils enrolled in the districts, that school authorities may excuse any pupil from the school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil’s parent or guardian.

  • Our government continues its attempts to destroy families and gain control over our children. Secular humanism indoctrination centers (aka public schools) lead the way.

Christian Leaders for Public Vote on DC gay Marriage

Traditional marriage advocates in Washington, DC are telling city officials “We’ll see you in court.”  The DC Board of Elections and Ethics ruled yesterday that a measure to let voters decide whether to ban same-sex marriages in DC cannot go on the ballot. According to the board, such a measure would violate the city’s human rights law. The DC City Council is expected to approve same-sex marriage next month, but proponents of traditional marriage are planning to hold a rally in Washington on December 8th to lobby members of Congress to override the council’s wishes.

Senate Prepares Health Reform Bill

After months of haggling, the U.S. Senate has a health care reform bill ready for action, but there still is no guarantee the Democrat-drafted proposal — President Barack Obama‘s top domestic agenda item — will be debated in the upper chamber, let alone reach a vote. The Senate hopes to decide on Saturday whether to move the bill to the floor for debate. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has already passed its version of reform, leaving forward movement on overhauling the system solely in the hands of the Senate. Failure to guide the measure to passage would represent a crippling, if not fatal, blow to a pillar of the basket of domestic reforms Obama promised in his presidential campaign. While Democrats hold a significant majority in the Senate, its rules allow Republicans to block action through a delaying tactic known as a filibuster. To end a filibuster, the Democrats must assemble 60 votes. Currently, they hold 58 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber. Two independent members typically vote with the Democrats. But the two independent votes are not assured, nor are those of three conservative Democrats representing states that normally vote Republican.

The proposed government-run health insurance program, among the most divisive issues in the health care debate, would cover less than 1.5% of the population, new estimates show. The latest version of the “public option,” included in the 10-year, $848 billion health care bill headed toward an initial Senate vote Saturday, would cover up to 4 million people, according to the Congressional Budget Office report.

House Panel wants Answers on Faulty Stimulus Data

Members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee will ask questions Thursday about faulty data on the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov Web site. The site is fixing errors that appeared to show hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were spent in nonexistent congressional districts, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board said Wednesday. The errors, first reported by ABC News, were seen on Recovery.gov summary pages breaking down how many stimulus dollars were received in each state’s congressional districts. Arizona’s page, for example, showed the state’s 52nd, 15th and 86th congressional districts received hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus money, according to CNN affiliate KNXV. However, no such districts exist in Arizona, which has only eight congressional districts.A report released Wednesday by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity said it found such errors on pages for all 50 states. More than $6.4 billion in stimulus funds were shown as being spent — and more than 28,420 jobs saved or created — in 440 false districts, it said.

  • Lie, obfuscate, mislead, deceive. The Obama administration’s interpretation of “transparency.”

Obama: Below 50 percent approval

President Obama’s job-approval rating has slipped below 50% in the Gallup Tracking Poll for the first time in his presidency, pulled down by concerns about the economy, federal spending and health care legislation. Obama’s approval rating was 49%. Historically it has some political significance when a president can no longer claim the support of half the American people. Obama’s fall has been relatively fast. Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton slipped below 50% sooner — Ford in his third month in office, Clinton in his fourth. Obama’s experience is close to that of Ronald Reagan, who like Obama dropped below the marker during his tenth month in office. Falling fast clearly isn’t fatal. Clinton and Reagan, for instance, went on to win second terms. Among other modern presidents: Harry Truman fell below 50% for the first time at 11 months in office, Jimmy Carter at 13 months, Richard Nixon at 25 months, Lyndon Johnson at 29 months, the elder George Bush at 36 months and the younger George Bush at 37 months.

Coca-Cola Leads Call for One-World Climate Change Taxes

Coca-Cola is spearheading a coalition of more than 100 companies pushing a United Nations climate treaty to bind the U.S. to cap-and-trade emissions regulation, commit the world’s wealthiest nations to a potential $10 trillion in foreign aid and, possibly, form a proposed international “super-grid” for regulating and distributing electric power worldwide. Together with the SAP and Siemens corporations, Coca-Cola launched a website called Hopenhagen, leading up to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, which opens on Dec. 7. The website invites the citizens of the world to sign a petition demanding world leaders draft binding agreements on climate change and advertises, as of today, “16 days left to seal the deal.” Other “friends” of Hopenhagen include media outlets Newsweek, Discovery Channel, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, The Wall Street Journal and Clear Channel, among others, Internet giants Yahoo, Google and AOL and dozens of other companies and organizations.

  • This conference has the potential of cementing some one-world government footings through the questionable doorway of global warming

1 in 6 went hungry in America in 2008

Forty-nine million people in American households — one in six — went hungry or had insufficient food at some point in 2008, the highest number since the government began tracking the problem in 1995. The biggest increases were among households with children. The report, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that 17 million people in the U.S. went hungry or did not eat regularly for a few days of each month over seven or eight months last year. That’s a 45% increase from 12 million people in 2007. In 2008, 16.7 million children did not eat regularly at some point, up from 12.4 million in 2007.

Doctors Report Niacin Better than Zetia, Vytorin

Doctors formally reported Monday that lowly niacin, a B vitamin, did a significantly better job of shrinking artery plaque than a billion-dollar blockbuster called ezetimibe, the active ingredient in the cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin. Doctors Taylor and Kastelein presented their findings at a meeting of the American Heart Association. On Sunday evening, The New England Journal of Medicine published the results online. Taylor’s study was the third in two years to challenge the effectiveness of one of the world’s most popular heart drugs, with $21 billion in sales since it was introduced in 2003, Securities and Exchange Commission documents show.

Blood supply not affected by H1N1

Except for scattered cancellations of high school blood drives because of high absenteeism, the H1N1 pandemic doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on the nation’s blood supply. No case of seasonal flu transmitted through a blood transfusion has ever been reported anywhere in the world, according to a draft guidance issued Friday by the Food and Drug Administration. And so far, the FDA says, the same goes for H1N1 flu. People without flu symptoms who’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications can donate blood, according to the FDA.

Mammograms Used Too Early and Too Often

Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests. In its first re-evaluation of breast-cancer screening since 2002, the panel that sets government policy on prevention recommended the radical change, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefits. Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies, and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy without substantially improving women’s odds of survival. Petitti denied that the panel was influenced by the health-care reform debate or cost issues.

Most women in their 20s can have a Pap smear every two years instead of annually, say new guidelines that conclude that is enough to catch slow-growing cervical cancer. Routine Paps should start at age 21. Previously, ACOG had urged a first Pap either within three years of first sexual intercourse or at age 21.

Post office was $3.8 billion in the red

The Postal Service reported a loss of $3.8 billion last year, despite a reduction of 40,000 full-time positions and other cost-cutting measures. The loss was $1 billion more than the year before. The post office has been struggling to cope with a decline in mail volume caused by the shift to the Internet as well as the recession that resulted in a drop in advertising and other mail. Total mail volume was 177.1 billion pieces, compared to 202.7 billion pieces in 2008, a decline of almost 13%.

California Faces a Projected Deficit of $21 Billion

Less than four months after California leaders stitched together a patchwork budget, a projected deficit of nearly $21 billion already looms over Sacramento, according to a report released Wednesday by the chief budget analyst. The new figure — the nonpartisan analyst’s first projection for the coming budget — threatens to send Sacramento back into budgetary gridlock and force more across-the-board cuts in state programs. The grim forecast comes courtesy of California’s recession-wracked economy, unrealistic budgeting assumptions, spending cuts tied up in the courts and disappearing federal stimulus funds.

As hundreds of students demonstrated outside, University of California leaders on Thursday voted to approve a 32% hike in undergraduate fees, arguing the increase is crucial because of the state’s budget crisis. The UC Board of Regents, meeting at UCLA, approved a two-phase increase that will boost the average undergraduate fee $2,500 by next fall. That would bring the average annual cost to about $10,300 — a threefold increase in a decade.

Arizona to Borrow its Way Out of Debt

As lawmakers convened Tuesday to start chipping away at a $2 billion budget deficit, the state is preparing to turn to outside lenders for the first time in Arizona history. The borrowing is needed to give the state enough cash to carry it through ongoing revenue shortfalls, state Treasurer Dean Martin said. He estimates the state will need to borrow $700 million to see it through the June 30 end of the fiscal year. As of Tuesday, Martin said, the state had exceeded its threshold of $500 million in IOUs and would need to turn to institutional lenders. To date, the state has been borrowing against internal accounts.

  • Borrow its way out of debt? Oxymoronic. More debt simply postpones the problem and makes the next economic downturn even deadlier.

No Action by Federal Reserve on Falling Dollar

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday said the central bank is “attentive” to the falling dollar, ut the greenback fell to 15-month lows after skeptical investors realized there’s little the central bank would do to prop up the currency. The central bank could strengthen the dollar by raising interest rates to draw investors to U.S. securities. But with a fragile economic recovery and stable inflation, Bernanke repeated the Fed’s belief that near-zero interest rates would stay that way “for an extended period.”

Ø      The continued decline of the dollar along with our massive debt will soon combine to sink the economy

Economic News

A gauge of the economy’s future prospects rose for a seventh month in October to a two-year high, a private research group said Thursday, indicating the recovery is becoming entrenched. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators climbed 0.3% to 103.8, highest since September 2007.

Wholesale prices rose less than expected in October as a weak economy kept inflation largely in check, while industrial production edged up 0.1% in October, a smaller-than-expected increase that signals a bumpy recovery ahead. In the 12 months ended in October, producer prices fell 1.9%, the 11th straight month of declines.

The pace at which people fell behind on their mortgages slowed during the summer for a third consecutive quarter, but the delinquency rate hit another record, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion. For the three months ended Sept. 30, 6.25% of U.S. mortgage loans were 60 or more days past due, TransUnion says. That’s up 58% from 3.96% a year ago. Being two months behind is considered a first step toward foreclosure, because it’s so hard to catch up with payments at that point.

Newspaper advertising revenue in the U.S. plunged 28% in the third quarter to $6.4 billion. The figures released Thursday by the Newspaper Association of America leave little doubt newspapers will likely have to manage through the fourth year of a slump that has already killed some publications and wiped out thousands of jobs. Advertising sales are the main source of newspaper income, and that revenue has declined year-over-year for 13 straight quarters.

Natural gas prices have dropped more than 12% in the past month as the country continues to sip at its energy reserves and a balmy November allowed homeowners to leave the heat off. Retail prices for natural gas, or what many consumers will pay to heat their homes, are expected to be substantially lower this year.

Obama, Hu Vow Cooperation but Produce Few Deals

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao promised a determined, joint effort to tackle climate change, nuclear disarmament and other global troubles yet emerged from their first full-blown summit Tuesday with scant progress beyond goodwill. After two hours of talks and a separate meeting over dinner the night before, the presidents spoke of moving beyond the divisiveness over human rights, trade and military tensions that have bedeviled relations in past decades. With each of those big issues — from global warming to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs — persistent differences bubbled up in the form of indirect barbs during the joint appearance.

Obama’s carefully worded call at a town-hall forum for the communist regime to ease censorship was not seen by most Chinese people — because of the government’s last-minute decision not to broadcast it on TV nationwide. Yet some locals and human rights leaders praised Obama’s decision to broach the largely taboo subject of human rights here.

E.U. rejects Palestinian statehood appeal

The European Union rejected requests Tuesday that it support a Palestinian plan for gaining recognition as an independent state at the U.N. Security Council without Israeli consent. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters “the conditions are not there as of yet” for such a move. “I would hope that we would be in a position to recognize a Palestinian state, but there has to be one first, so I think that is somewhat premature.”

Ø      The key word is “yet” which shows that the mindset is in place to create a Palestinian state

Iran Nuke Site Built for Bombs, Not Power

The United Nations says Iran is preparing to start up a uranium-enrichment site that was revealed only recently and which scientists suggest is too small for nuclear power purposes but suitable for making nuclear bombs. In a report Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the site hidden in a mountainside in Qom appeared designed to produce about a ton of enriched uranium a year. A senior international official familiar with the IAEA’s work in Iran said that amount would be too little to fuel a nuclear power plant. Iran’s belated revelation of a second uranium enrichment site also raises concern about possible further secret nuclear sites in the country.

Iran‘s foreign minister on Wednesday said his country would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, brushing aside the latest U.N. plan aimed at preventing Tehran from potentially building nuclear weapons. The United Nations last month offered a deal to take 70% of Iran’s low-enriched uranium to reduce its stockpile of material that could be enriched to a higher level, and possibly be used to make nuclear weapons.

Afghanistan

The deaths of 12 civilians in a rocket attack presumably aimed at military officials and local leaders underscores the inability of NATO to successfully defeat the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, an official said Tuesday. Monday’s attack in Tagab missed the meeting but the rockets hit in the crowded market area, killing 12 Afghan civilians and wounding dozens more. Brig. Gen. Marcel Druart said Monday that the meeting, known as a shura, continued despite the attack to show that the Taliban cannot disrupt NATO’s plans in a tense valley where both sides are competing for influence.

Senior administration officials reported to the New York Times today that budget projections for the war in Afghanistan will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $1 million per soldier, per year. The plan to add 40,000 American troops and greatly expand Afghan security forces, supported by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, is estimated to cost between $40 billion to $54 billion annually.

Iraq

A top Iraqi official on Wednesday threw a wrench into plans to hold national elections in January, a move likely to delay the vote that is a key milestone for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi vetoed part of Iraq’s election law passed this month because it doesn’t allow enough seats in the parliament for Iraqi refugees living abroad. The latest drama of al-Hashemi’s veto halted election preparations, said Hamdiya al-Hussaini, an electoral commission spokeswoman. “We’ve stopped receiving nominee lists, and we’ve stopped preparing to print voting papers,” Hussaini said.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a courthouse in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing 19 people in the latest attack in an onslaught by Islamist militants retaliating against an army offensive near the Afghan border. The bombing was the seventh militant strike in less than two weeks in and around Peshawar, the largest city in the northwest. The attacks have killed more than 80 people. Missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed three militants Thursday in Pakistan’s lawless tribal area along the Afghan border, intelligence officials said.

World’s Carbon Emissions Rise, Despite Recession

Pollution typically declines during a recession. Not this time. Despite a global economic slump, worldwide carbon dioxide pollution jumped 2% last year, most of the increase coming from China, according to a study published Tuesday. The growth in emissions since 2000 is almost entirely driven by the growth in China and India. Carbon dioxide emissions, the chief man-made greenhouse gas, come from the burning of coal, oil, natural gas, and also from the production of cement, which is a significant pollution factor in China. Worldwide emissions rose 671 million more tons from 2007 to 2008. Nearly three-quarters of that increase came from China.

  • Whether CO2 causes or contributes to global warming or not, pollution is never a good thing. China cares little about human rights and is not likely to change its greedy, dirty ways.

Weather

Lifeboats and military helicopters rescued hundreds of people overnight in northern England as torrential rain flooded homes and washed away bridges. Police in the picturesque Lake District county of Cumbria, a magnet for tourists, said today a search is under way for a police officer who disappeared when one bridge collapsed under the weight of water. British soldiers conducted house-to-house searches for those trapped by floods as deep as 8 feet. Troops also dropped down on lines from air force helicopters, breaking through rooftops to pluck people to safety.

Plans to raise the water level behind China’s massive Three Gorges dam to full capacity this month — which would mark the symbolic culmination of the decades-old project — have stalled amid a worsening drought and reports of increased landslide risks. The explanation given by dam officials is that too little water is flowing from the upper reaches of the Yangtze— 34% less than last year — coupled with a deepening drought in the downstream provinces of Hunan and Jiangxi.

A Chinese state media report says a massive landslide in northern China partially has buried a village and killed at least 23 people, and that rescuers are seeking survivors. Rescuers have recovered 23 bodies from the debris so far, and that two people have been pulled out alive. Most of those killed were migrant workers who worked at a nearby coal mine.

November 19, 2009

59 Christians Released From Jails in Pakistan

ASSIST News Service reports that 59 imprisoned Christians in various jails in Pakistan received news of their freedom on Friday, Nov. 13. The Christians were released after Rizwan Paul, president of the Christian group Life for All, presented a petition to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for the pardon of these Christians who he stated had been “falsely accused of minor crimes.” Extremely emotional scenes were seen outside the jails when the prisoners were released. Family members were present to greet their loved ones and they thanked Life for All for their efforts. The group estimates that there are still more than 2,500 Christians in jails all over Pakistan who cannot afford the legal assistance for their release.

Schools Let Students Seek Secret Abortions

A 12-year-old girl is prohibited from bringing aspirin to California public schools without a note from her mother or father – but in many California districts she may sign herself out of classes, leave her junior-high campus without parental permission, secretly have an abortion and return to school before the end of the day – and her own family may be none the wiser. Parents and educators across the state have been in heated debate over school policies allowing children to be excused during class time without parental notification for “confidential medical services” such as abortions, birth control, and drug and mental health services.

California’s San Juan Unified School District sought to change its own policy from one that prohibits students from being absent without parental knowledge except during medical emergencies to guidelines that would allow a student to leave for a “confidential medical appointment.” They were debating changing the current policy to reflect school administrators’ interpretation of California Education Code 4601.1, which states: Commencing in the fall of the 1986-87 academic year, the governing board of each school district shall, each academic year, notify pupils in grades 7 to 12, inclusive, and the parents or guardians of all pupils enrolled in the districts, that school authorities may excuse any pupil from the school for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical services without the consent of the pupil’s parent or guardian.

  • Our government continues its attempts to destroy families and gain control over our children. Secular humanism indoctrination centers (aka public schools) lead the way.

Christian Leaders for Public Vote on DC gay Marriage

Traditional marriage advocates in Washington, DC are telling city officials “We’ll see you in court.”  The DC Board of Elections and Ethics ruled yesterday that a measure to let voters decide whether to ban same-sex marriages in DC cannot go on the ballot. According to the board, such a measure would violate the city’s human rights law. The DC City Council is expected to approve same-sex marriage next month, but proponents of traditional marriage are planning to hold a rally in Washington on December 8th to lobby members of Congress to override the council’s wishes.

World’s Carbon Emissions Rise, Despite Recession

Pollution typically declines during a recession. Not this time. Despite a global economic slump, worldwide carbon dioxide pollution jumped 2% last year, most of the increase coming from China, according to a study published Tuesday. The growth in emissions since 2000 is almost entirely driven by the growth in China and India. Carbon dioxide emissions, the chief man-made greenhouse gas, come from the burning of coal, oil, natural gas, and also from the production of cement, which is a significant pollution factor in China. Worldwide emissions rose 671 million more tons from 2007 to 2008. Nearly three-quarters of that increase came from China.

  • Whether CO2 causes or contributes to global warming or not, pollution is never a good thing. China cares little about human rights and is not likely to change its greedy, dirty ways.

Senate Prepares Health Reform Bill

After months of haggling, the U.S. Senate has a health care reform bill ready for action, but there still is no guarantee the Democrat-drafted proposal — President Barack Obama‘s top domestic agenda item — will be debated in the upper chamber, let alone reach a vote. The Senate hopes to decide on Saturday whether to move the bill to the floor for debate. The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has already passed its version of reform, leaving forward movement on overhauling the system solely in the hands of the Senate. Failure to guide the measure to passage would represent a crippling, if not fatal, blow to a pillar of the basket of domestic reforms Obama promised in his presidential campaign. While Democrats hold a significant majority in the Senate, its rules allow Republicans to block action through a delaying tactic known as a filibuster. To end a filibuster, the Democrats must assemble 60 votes. Currently, they hold 58 seats in the 100-seat upper chamber. Two independent members typically vote with the Democrats. But the two independent votes are not assured, nor are those of three conservative Democrats representing states that normally vote Republican.

House Panel wants Answers on Faulty Stimulus Data

Members of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee will ask questions Thursday about faulty data on the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov Web site. The site is fixing errors that appeared to show hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were spent in nonexistent congressional districts, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board said Wednesday. The errors, first reported by ABC News, were seen on Recovery.gov summary pages breaking down how many stimulus dollars were received in each state’s congressional districts. Arizona’s page, for example, showed the state’s 52nd, 15th and 86th congressional districts received hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus money, according to CNN affiliate KNXV. However, no such districts exist in Arizona, which has only eight congressional districts.A report released Wednesday by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity said it found such errors on pages for all 50 states. More than $6.4 billion in stimulus funds were shown as being spent — and more than 28,420 jobs saved or created — in 440 false districts, it said.

  • Lie, obfuscate, mislead, deceive. The Obama administration’s interpretation of “transparency.”

1 in 6 went hungry in America in 2008

Forty-nine million people in American households — one in six — went hungry or had insufficient food at some point in 2008, the highest number since the government began tracking the problem in 1995. The biggest increases were among households with children. The report, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that 17 million people in the U.S. went hungry or did not eat regularly for a few days of each month over seven or eight months last year. That’s a 45% increase from 12 million people in 2007. In 2008, 16.7 million children did not eat regularly at some point, up from 12.4 million in 2007.

Doctors Report Niacin Better than Zetia, Vytorin

Doctors formally reported Monday that lowly niacin, a B vitamin, did a significantly better job of shrinking artery plaque than a billion-dollar blockbuster called ezetimibe, the active ingredient in the cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin. Doctors Taylor and Kastelein presented their findings at a meeting of the American Heart Association. On Sunday evening, The New England Journal of Medicine published the results online. Taylor’s study was the third in two years to challenge the effectiveness of one of the world’s most popular heart drugs, with $21 billion in sales since it was introduced in 2003, Securities and Exchange Commission documents show.

Blood supply not affected by H1N1

Except for scattered cancellations of high school blood drives because of high absenteeism, the H1N1 pandemic doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact on the nation’s blood supply. No case of seasonal flu transmitted through a blood transfusion has ever been reported anywhere in the world, according to a draft guidance issued Friday by the Food and Drug Administration. And so far, the FDA says, the same goes for H1N1 flu. People without flu symptoms who’ve been fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medications can donate blood, according to the FDA.

Mammograms used too early and too often

Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests. In its first re-evaluation of breast-cancer screening since 2002, the panel that sets government policy on prevention recommended the radical change, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefits. “We’re not saying women shouldn’t get screened. Screening does saves lives,” said Diana Petitti, a doctor at Arizona State University and vice chairman of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which released the recommendations Monday in a paper being published in today’s Annals of Internal Medicine. “But we are recommending against routine screening. There are important and serious negatives or harms that need to be considered carefully.” Mammograms produce false-positive results in about 10 percent of cases, causing anxiety and often prompting women to undergo unnecessary follow-up tests, sometimes-disfiguring biopsies, and unneeded treatment, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy without substantially improving women’s odds of survival. Petitti denied that the panel was influenced by the health-care reform debate or cost issues.

Post office was $3.8 billion in the red

The Postal Service reported a loss of $3.8 billion last year, despite a reduction of 40,000 full-time positions and other cost-cutting measures. The loss was $1 billion more than the year before. The post office has been struggling to cope with a decline in mail volume caused by the shift to the Internet as well as the recession that resulted in a drop in advertising and other mail. Total mail volume was 177.1 billion pieces, compared to 202.7 billion pieces in 2008, a decline of almost 13%.

California Faces a Projected Deficit of $21 Billion

Less than four months after California leaders stitched together a patchwork budget, a projected deficit of nearly $21 billion already looms over Sacramento, according to a report released Wednesday by the chief budget analyst. The new figure — the nonpartisan analyst’s first projection for the coming budget — threatens to send Sacramento back into budgetary gridlock and force more across-the-board cuts in state programs. The grim forecast comes courtesy of California’s recession-wracked economy, unrealistic budgeting assumptions, spending cuts tied up in the courts and disappearing federal stimulus funds.

Arizona to Borrow its Way Out of Debt

As lawmakers convened Tuesday to start chipping away at a $2 billion budget deficit, the state is preparing to turn to outside lenders for the first time in Arizona history. The borrowing is needed to give the state enough cash to carry it through ongoing revenue shortfalls, state Treasurer Dean Martin said. He estimates the state will need to borrow $700 million to see it through the June 30 end of the fiscal year. As of Tuesday, Martin said, the state had exceeded its threshold of $500 million in IOUs and would need to turn to institutional lenders. To date, the state has been borrowing against internal accounts.

  • Borrow its way out of debt? Oxymoronic. More debt simply postpones the problem and makes the next economic downturn even deadlier.

No Action by Federal Reserve on Falling Dollar

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday said the central bank is “attentive” to the falling dollar, ut the greenback fell to 15-month lows after skeptical investors realized there’s little the central bank would do to prop up the currency. The central bank could strengthen the dollar by raising interest rates to draw investors to U.S. securities. But with a fragile economic recovery and stable inflation, Bernanke repeated the Fed’s belief that near-zero interest rates would stay that way “for an extended period.”

  • The continued decline of the dollar along with our massive debt will soon combine to sink the economy

Economic News

A gauge of the economy’s future prospects rose for a seventh month in October to a two-year high, a private research group said Thursday, indicating the recovery is becoming entrenched. The Conference Board said its index of leading economic indicators climbed 0.3% to 103.8, highest since September 2007.

Wholesale prices rose less than expected in October as a weak economy kept inflation largely in check, while industrial production edged up 0.1% in October, a smaller-than-expected increase that signals a bumpy recovery ahead. In the 12 months ended in October, producer prices fell 1.9%, the 11th straight month of declines.

The pace at which people fell behind on their mortgages slowed during the summer for a third consecutive quarter, but the delinquency rate hit another record, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion. For the three months ended Sept. 30, 6.25% of U.S. mortgage loans were 60 or more days past due, TransUnion says. That’s up 58% from 3.96% a year ago. Being two months behind is considered a first step toward foreclosure, because it’s so hard to catch up with payments at that point.

Obama, Hu Vow Cooperation but Produce Few Deals

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao promised a determined, joint effort to tackle climate change, nuclear disarmament and other global troubles yet emerged from their first full-blown summit Tuesday with scant progress beyond goodwill. After two hours of talks and a separate meeting over dinner the night before, the presidents spoke of moving beyond the divisiveness over human rights, trade and military tensions that have bedeviled relations in past decades. With each of those big issues — from global warming to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs — persistent differences bubbled up in the form of indirect barbs during the joint appearance.

Obama’s carefully worded call at a town-hall forum for the communist regime to ease censorship was not seen by most Chinese people — because of the government’s last-minute decision not to broadcast it on TV nationwide. Yet some locals and human rights leaders praised Obama’s decision to broach the largely taboo subject of human rights here.

E.U. rejects Palestinian statehood appeal

The European Union rejected requests Tuesday that it support a Palestinian plan for gaining recognition as an independent state at the U.N. Security Council without Israeli consent. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters “the conditions are not there as of yet” for such a move. “I would hope that we would be in a position to recognize a Palestinian state, but there has to be one first, so I think that is somewhat premature.”

  • The key word is “yet” which shows that the mindset is in place to create a Palestinian state

Iran Nuke Site Built for Bombs, Not Power

The United Nations says Iran is preparing to start up a uranium-enrichment site that was revealed only recently and which scientists suggest is too small for nuclear power purposes but suitable for making nuclear bombs. In a report Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the site hidden in a mountainside in Qom appeared designed to produce about a ton of enriched uranium a year. A senior international official familiar with the IAEA’s work in Iran said that amount would be too little to fuel a nuclear power plant. Iran’s belated revelation of a second uranium enrichment site also raises concern about possible further secret nuclear sites in the country.

Iran‘s foreign minister on Wednesday said his country would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, brushing aside the latest U.N. plan aimed at preventing Tehran from potentially building nuclear weapons. The United Nations last month offered a deal to take 70% of Iran’s low-enriched uranium to reduce its stockpile of material that could be enriched to a higher level, and possibly be used to make nuclear weapons.

Afghanistan

The deaths of 12 civilians in a rocket attack presumably aimed at military officials and local leaders underscores the inability of NATO to successfully defeat the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, an official said Tuesday. Monday’s attack in Tagab missed the meeting but the rockets hit in the crowded market area, killing 12 Afghan civilians and wounding dozens more. Brig. Gen. Marcel Druart said Monday that the meeting, known as a shura, continued despite the attack to show that the Taliban cannot disrupt NATO’s plans in a tense valley where both sides are competing for influence.

Senior administration officials reported to the New York Times today that budget projections for the war in Afghanistan will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $1 million per soldier, per year. The plan to add 40,000 American troops and greatly expand Afghan security forces, supported by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, is estimated to cost between $40 billion to $54 billion annually.

Iraq

A top Iraqi official on Wednesday threw a wrench into plans to hold national elections in January, a move likely to delay the vote that is a key milestone for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi vetoed part of Iraq’s election law passed this month because it doesn’t allow enough seats in the parliament for Iraqi refugees living abroad. The latest drama of al-Hashemi’s veto halted election preparations, said Hamdiya al-Hussaini, an electoral commission spokeswoman. “We’ve stopped receiving nominee lists, and we’ve stopped preparing to print voting papers,” Hussaini said.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a courthouse in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing 19 people in the latest attack in an onslaught by Islamist militants retaliating against an army offensive near the Afghan border. The bombing was the seventh militant strike in less than two weeks in and around Peshawar, the largest city in the northwest. The attacks have killed more than 80 people. Missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed three militants Thursday in Pakistan’s lawless tribal area along the Afghan border, intelligence officials said.

Weather

Plans to raise the water level behind China’s massive Three Gorges dam to full capacity this month — which would mark the symbolic culmination of the decades-old project — have stalled amid a worsening drought and reports of increased landslide risks. China has for years promoted the world’s largest hydroelectric project as the best way to end centuries of floods along the basin of the Yangtze River and to provide energy to fuel the country’s economic boom. Along the way officials have often steamrolled over complaints about the enormous environmental impact of the mammoth $23 billion, 410-mile-long reservoir that has displaced more than 1.4 million people. Dam authorities had been increasing water storage since Sept. 15, with the goal of reaching the maximum height of 574 feet by early November, when the dam would be fully capable of generating the maximum amount of power. But on Nov. 2 the water reached 561 feet and then abruptly stopped The explanation given by dam officials is that too little water is flowing from the upper reaches of the Yangtze— 34% less than last year — coupled with a deepening drought in the downstream provinces of Hunan and Jiangxi.

A Chinese state media report says a massive landslide in northern China partially has buried a village and killed at least 23 people, and that rescuers are seeking survivors. Rescuers have recovered 23 bodies from the debris so far, and that two people have been pulled out alive. Most of those killed were migrant workers who worked at a nearby coal mine.

 

November 16, 2009

Medical Doctors Confirm God’s Miracles with Medical Data

The 6th International Christian Medical Conference was held at President Hotel on October 30 and 31, 2009 under the auspices of the Ukraine Organizing Committee of WCDN (World Christian Doctors Network). This 6th Conference was attended by 400 doctors and medical professionals from 30 nations including USA and Italy, and was featured by many medical doctors from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and many other Russian-speaking nations. During the Conference, an Australian Doctor Irene Jacovou presented a healing case of a 68-year-old man, and this was the most outstanding case of healing presented. In 2003, he was diagnosed to have severe emphysema, asthma and alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency, and had a bilateral lung transplant and received immunosuppressive therapy. In 2008, he noticed a skin lesion on the top of the right shoulder, which was later found to be a malignant tumor. He was diagnosed with skin cancer and was surgically treated, but it recurred. In October, 2008, cancer cells metastasized to chest and lungs, and he was sentenced to live just a few months longer because of this cancer. In winter of that same year he attended a Christian healing prayer meeting and tumor regression started. All the tumors in his skin were gone through fervent prayers, and the CT scan showed that lung metastases disappeared. A Ukrainian Doctor Larisa from Ukraine presented the case of healing on hepatitis C by prayer, and this was really confirmed as the person of the same case firsthand showed up and testified to his healing. Another Australian doctor Mieke Kuiper presented the case of healing of eclampsia and subarachnoid hemorrhage by prayer. Two Korean doctors presented the cases of healing of the infected cystic mass in the submandibular area and the retroperitoneal necrotizing fascitis due to perforated acute appendicitis, with scientific and medical data confirming the healing cases. In addition, the many cases of the healing of various diseases including schizophrenia, pancreonecrosis, and AIDS that cannot be cured with medicine but only by the power of God.

  • These are medical doctors with solid case histories of healing miracles. Odd how such things don’t get reported in the mainstream media

DC’s Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Bill Threatens Catholic Programs

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington says it won’t continue social service programs it runs for the District of Columbia unless a proposed same-sex “marriage” law is changed. The bill states religious organizations wouldn’t have to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings, but they must obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against homosexual men and women. Opponents say the religious liberty exemption is too narrow. The archdiocese says religious organizations and individuals would be “at risk for adhering to the teachings of their faith.” The archdiocese says that among other changes, it would have to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, forcing the archdiocese to abandon its city contracts. That could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness, and healthcare.

Feds to Take Over the Rails?

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration wants the federal government to oversee subway and light-rail systems. In the wake of last summer’s deadly Metro crash in Washington, D.C., the Obama administration reportedly plans to propose that subway and light-rail systems across the country fall under federal oversight. The pitch comes as the administration moves to increase regulation over the financial, auto, health care and industrial sectors. The Washington Post reported Sunday that the administration will present its plan to Congress, which would have to approve it, in the coming weeks for the U.S. Department of Transportation to regulate those systems.

  • In concert with the New World (Dis)Order, the Obama administration wants more and more socialistic control over more and more of our lives. Goodbye freedom.

Napolitano Pronounces U.S. Border More Secure

The Obama administration has met many of the border security benchmarks Congress set in 2007 as a prerequisite to immigration reform and now it’s time to change the law, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday. Napolitano, designated by President Barack Obama to lead the administration’s immigration reform efforts, said many members of Congress had said they could support immigration reform, but only after border security improved, Napolitano said. “Fast forward to today, and many of the benchmarks these members of Congress set in 2007 have been met,” she said. She cited construction of 600 miles of border fence and the hiring of more than 20,000 Border Patrol agents. Illegal immigration has also fallen sharply because of better enforcement and the economy.

  • Declaring it so doesn’t make it so. If it wasn’t for the poor economy, there wouldn’t have been that much of a decline in illegal immigration. “More secure” doesn’t mean secure. There is still a major flow of illegals, among whom there are probably more terrorists

Illegals could be Legal as Quickly as Next Year

Obama’s senior advisor said today that a plan to grant citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. is in the works and could be made law as early as next year. On CNN’s “State of the Union” with John King, the White House’s David Axelrod dodged a question asking him to commit to pushing immigration reform regardless of the political climate, but nonetheless confirmed earlier hints by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano that Democrats and Republicans are working behind the scenes to pass major new legislation. While some attempt at addressing immigration law is widely anticipated, Axelrod went further, tipping the White House’s hand on the more contentious question surrounding immigration reform: if and how the estimated millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. today can become American citizens. “We have to hold accountable and responsible the 12 million people who are here illegally,” Axelrod explained. “And they have to pay a fine and a penalty and have to meet certain requirements in order to get in the line to earn citizenship. And if they don’t want to do that, they need to leave.”

ACORN Trail Lead to White House

An Iowa congressman is questioning the timing of the sudden resignation of a controversial Obama administration official, whose husband has had close ties to ACORN and has recently been named President Obama’s White House counsel. In serving as White House communications director, Anita Dunn had created a stir when she told school children earlier this year that Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse Tung was one of the people she admired the most. She also launched a public attack against the Fox News Channel for its reporting on the ACORN prostitution scandal. Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) thinks it is curious that Dunn abruptly resigned from her White House post, just four days after Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell raided ACORN’s national office, seizing paper records and computer hard drives. King believes that as the newly named White House counsel, Dunn’s husband, Robert Bauer, will be in a position to help President Obama erase his ties to ACORN.

Obama, Medvedev See Nuke Pact Progress

President Obama said Sunday the United States and Russia would have a replacement treaty on reducing nuclear arms ready for approval by year’s end, an announcement designed as an upbeat ending to a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders. While publicizing progress with Russia on arms control — part of Obama’s agenda to advance nuclear disarmament — the president and other leaders bowed to the obvious on climate change. They discussed a compromise agreement for a 192-nation gathering next month in Copenhagen, indirectly admitting that the meeting would not produce a new global treaty to reduce the heat-trapping carbon emissions that are warming the planet.

Nearing the end of his two days in Singapore, Obama also attended a second summit with leaders of the 10 Southeast Asian countries that make up the ASEAN group. Obama was the first U.S. president to sit in on the meetings, that included a senior leader of Myanmar— part of a shift in U.S. policy away from isolating the repressive Myanmar military government. Politely but firmly pressing for greater freedoms on China’s own turf, President Obama spoke against censorship Monday, saying tough criticisms of political leaders should be allowed and the free flow of information on the Internet “should be encouraged.”

Feds Blocks Release of Detainee Abuse Pics

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers. The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued for the release of 21 color photographs showing prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq being abused by Americans. Federal courts had rejected the government’s arguments to block their release, so Congress gave Gates new powers to keep them private under a law signed by President Obama last month.

  • Very Bush-like, so where’s the hue and cry now?

Dozens of Gitmo Detainees Finally Get Day in Court

In courtrooms barred to the public, dozens of terror suspects are pleading for their freedom from the Guantanamo Bay prison, sometimes even testifying on their own behalf by video from the U.S. naval base in Cuba. Complying with a Supreme Court ruling last year, 15 federal judges in the U.S. courthouse here are giving detainees their day in court after years behind bars half a world away from their homelands. The judges have found the government’s evidence against 30 detainees wanting and ordered their release. That number could rise significantly because the judges are on track to hear challenges from dozens more prisoners. Scooped up along with hard-core terrorist suspects in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, these 30 detainees stand in stark contrast to the 10 prisoners whom the Obama administration targeted for prosecution Friday for plotting the Sept. 11 and other terrorist attacks. More detainees are expected to soon be added to the prosecution list.

U.N. Summit Approves New Approach to Fight Hunger

World leaders at a food summit on Monday rallied around a new strategy to fight global hunger and help poor countries feed themselves, but failed to pledge funds sought by the U.N. The summit approved its final declaration during its first hours in a show of broad consensus. Countries pledged to substantially increase aid to agriculture in developing nations, so that the world’s 1 billion hungry can become more self-sufficient. “The world has more than enough food,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates at the meeting in Rome. “Yet, today, more than 1 billion people are hungry. This is unacceptable.”  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says $44 billion a year will be necessary to satisfy world hunger in the coming decades.

Arizona School Districts Face Budget Bloodletting

The news for Arizona school districts isn’t good. In fact, when it seems that it can’t get any worse, it likely will. Much worse. That was the daunting message delivered Thursday night to the Mingus Union High School District Governing Board by Tim Carter, Yavapai County School Superintendent. Carter is making the rounds of all county public districts to let the school boards know what’s coming. Carter’s message is based on a state statute that he says will probably become law Nov. 24. “Before Christmas, we’re expecting between $140 million and $150 million (in budget cuts),” Carter said. “But after Christmas, we’re expecting between $350 and $600 million more in cuts.”

State Police Forces Shrink

The number of highway patrol officers has shrunk in a dozen states. The shortages, which come as states battle billions of dollars in budget gaps, have forced places such as Oregon to cut down on 24-hour patrolling. To get federal highway funds, states must assign some troopers duties such as truck safety and weigh stations, says Sheldon Greenberg of the Division of Public Safety Leadership at Johns Hopkins University. “They’re not having troopers to do basic patrol work,” he says. Greenberg says repeated cutbacks have some agencies at a breaking point. “Police agencies are digging themselves into a hole that will be very hard to get out of if it continues for too many years,” he says. Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina and South Dakota have smaller state patrols than they did in 1995, despite population growth.

Economic News

Sales at retailers rose more than expected in October, boosted largely by auto sales, but the previous month’s figures were revised sharply downward. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 1.4% last month, largest advance since August, after dropping a revised 2.3% in September. Auto sales had slumped 14.3% the previous month after the expiration of the government’s popular “cash-for-clunkers” incentive program that had buoyed demand for motor vehicles.

With government stimulus behind the bulk of the economy’s 3.5% annualized growth rate in gross domestic product in the third quarter, there are fears that rising unemployment will continue to weigh on consumer spending and hold back the recovery.

General Motors Co. says it lost $1.2 billion from the time it left bankruptcy protection through Sept. 30, far better than it has reported in previous quarters and a sign that the auto giant is starting to turn around its business. The company also says it will begin repaying $6.7 billion in U.S. government loans with a $1.2 billion payment in December. It could pay off the full amount by 2011, four years ahead of schedule.

Obama to Advocate Palestinian State

A top Palestinian Authority official told WorldNetDaily that the PA reached an understanding with the Obama administration to unilaterally ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state outside of negotiations with Israel. Ahmed Qurei, former PA prime minister and member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee, said in an interview that the PA “reached an understanding with important elements within the administration” to possibly bring to the U.N. Security Council a resolution to unilaterally create a Palestinian state. A top PA negotiator, speaking on condition of anonymity, named the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, and National Security Council member Samantha Power as among the Obama administration officials who were involved with the Palestinians’ U.N. proposal.

  • Obama has no use for Israel, a clear indicator of his collusion with the New World Order and his witting or unwitting cooperation with Satan’s plans

Afghanistan

The United States is limiting its goals in Afghanistan and demanding better accountability from that country’s underperforming leader, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday, and she tied additional U.S. civilian help to results from Kabul. Clinton, an influential voice in deliberations about whether to add large numbers of U.S. troops to an unpopular eight-year war, said Afghan President Hamid Karzai can do more to reduce corruption and go after those who may have looted U.S. aid in the past.

Morale has fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, where troops are seeing record violence in the 8-year-old war, while those in Iraq show much improved mental health amid much lower violence, the Army said Friday. It was the first time since 2004 that soldier suicides in Iraq did not increase. Self-inflicted deaths in Afghanistan, however, were on track to go up this year. Both surveys showed that soldiers on their third or fourth tours of duty had lower morale and more mental health problems than those with fewer deployments. And an increasing number of troops are having problems with their marriages.

Iraq

An Iraqi security official says 13 people were killed overnight in a village west of Baghdad. Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, head of Baghdad’s Operations Command, said in a statement that officials are looking into the 13 deaths and suspect it may have been a tribal dispute. Violence in Iraq has fallen off dramatically since the height of the sectarian tensions in 2006 and 2007. But such killings like these raise concerns that violence may return.

Pakistan

A pickup laden with explosives blew up in front of a police station in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 4 people in an area that has become the focal point for militant retaliation against a recent army offensive. The massive explosion caused a wide swath of destruction in the town of Badh Ber, severely damaging the station and a nearby mosque and completely destroying several houses and shops. Suspected militants have killed more than 300 civilians and security personnel in the last month in an attempt to weaken the country’s resolve to continue the military operation in the tribal area of South Waziristan, where al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding.

Weather

People along the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina piled soggy carpets and waterlogged furniture on sidewalks Sunday following a storm that lashed the Mid-Atlantic, flooding homes and ruining cars. “The streets are filled with the debris,” said Rob Shapiro, spokesman for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Virginia as he helped distribute hot meals, snacks, toys and cleaning materials in Norfolk, Va. Many residents lost their cars to tidal floods, Shapiro said. Low-lying neighborhoods were still surrounded by water on three sides, and the first floors of houses and apartment buildings were damaged, he said. The storm combined a Nor’easter with remnants of Tropical Storm Ida and raked the coast on Thursday and Friday with winds of up to 75 mph and drenching rain.

U.S. record high temperatures this decade have occurred more than twice as often as record lows, says a new study released this week by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. This decade’s warming was most notable in the western USA, he said, where the ratio of record highs to record lows was more than two to one.  In the East, where the ratio was about one-and-a-half to one.

November 13, 2009

‘Counterfeit Clergy’ Back DC’s Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Push

The same-sex marriage ordinance in Washington, D.C. was supported by a coalition of area clergy. One of those clergy members, Robert Hardies of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation, says the ordinance “ends harmful discrimination” against homosexual couples.” Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs at Liberty Counsel, hopes the faith community is not fooled by the coalition known as D.C. Clergy United For Marriage Equality. “Well, this is just a cheap political stunt,” he responds. “These are a group of leftist secularists essentially dressed up in the garb of clergy….[W]hat do you do call clergy who abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith and adopt instead the lies of the world? I call them counterfeit clergy.” “They are going to push a leftist political agenda that runs completely counter to biblical principles,” he asserts. “The ridiculous and oxymoronic notion of same-sex marriage flies in the face of every major world religion.”

Maine Churches Targeted by ‘Gay’ Intimidation Campaign

Christian churches in Maine whose leaders encouraged support for a referendum that repealed a law allowing same-sex marriage are being targeted in an intimidation campaign urging homosexuals to file complaints against them with the Internal Revenue Service. A “Maine Marriage Equality” website that lobbied for the same-sex marriage measure is asking its followers to file the complaints: “You are probably already aware of churches that supported and actively promoted a ‘YES’ vote on Question 1. Please take the time to file an IRS complaint against them. Examples of supporting documentation to include with your complaint are pamphlets or other material created and/or distributed by the church or religious organization, photographs that show attempts to influence legislation (see below), witness statements or recordings of individuals who were aware of the campaign activities, and any other evidence that may prove a church or religious organization attempted to influence the public to vote ‘YES’ on Question 1. With your help, we can reaffirm our Constitutional Separation of Church and State and ensure that in the future, nobody’s civil rights are stripped away by religious fanatics attempting to force their religion on all of us.”

  • Church registration as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations will be used more widely in the near future to coerce adherence to unbiblical laws, such as the recent hate-crimes legislation

New Report Details Human Trafficking in Egypt

Christian Newswire reports that Christian Solidarity International (CSI) and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights yesterday released a pioneering report on human trafficking in Egypt. Researched in Egypt by American anti-trafficking specialist Michele Clark and Egyptian women’s rights activist Nadia Ghaly, the report documents a criminal pattern involving deception, sexual violence, captivity, compulsion to convert to Islam and forced marriage. This phenomenon of violence against Egypt’s Christian women corresponds to internationally recognized definitions of human trafficking. The report includes cases of underage girls, some as young as 15, who were forcibly converted, raped, and married to Muslim men. The report alleges that Egyptian authorities have tacitly allowed these human rights violations to continue due to lack of investigation and enforcement.

111,000 Criminal Migrants ID’d through ICE Program

The first year of a new federal program that lets local police run the fingerprints of crime suspects through immigration databases identified more than 24,000 criminal immigrants in Arizona, the government said Thursday. Nationwide, more than 111,000 criminal immigrants were identified through the program, which for the first time allows authorities to search federal immigration records as well as FBI criminal databases as part of an effort to remove violent immigrants from the country. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials hailed the program as helping make communities safer by identifying immigrants charged with or convicted of crimes and then deporting them. As a result of the program, launched in October 2008, 16,526 foreign-born criminals have been deported, including 4,941 from Arizona.

CO2 pollution Soars in Arizona

The amount of carbon-dioxide pollution in Arizona’s skies grew a breathtaking 61 percent over the past two decades, reflecting a rapid period of expansion in the state and across the West. Just as it led the nation in population growth for many years, Arizona added fossil-fuel pollutants at a faster rate than any other state from 1990 to 2007, according to a report released Thursday by the advocacy group Environment Arizona. The rate of increase was more than three times the national average. The two biggest sources of carbon dioxide, produced when oil, coal or gas are burned, were electric-power generation and automobile exhaust, the report said. Combined, those sources accounted for almost 91 percent of the state’s CO{-2} emissions by 2007. Carbon dioxide contributes to poor air quality and is a component of pollution that can cause respiratory illnesses. It is also the most common of the greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the Earth and changing the climate.

Feds Act to Seize 4 mosques, Tower in Iran-tied Probe

Federal prosecutors took steps Thursday to seize four U.S. mosques and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper owned by a non-profit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government. In what could prove to be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, prosecutors filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets. The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York City and Houston as well as Maryland and California; more than 100 acres in Virginia; and a 36-story office tower in New York. Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, accused by the U.S. government of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb. Imams preach jihad and extremism in 10 percent of the 2,000 mosques in the United States, the FBI estimates.

4,000 U.S. Swine Flu Deaths

Swine flu has swept through about 22 million Americans from April to October, killing an estimated 3,900 people, including 540 children, health officials said Thursday. The new, higher figures include deaths caused by complications related to swine flu, including pneumonia and bacterial infections. Officials said this week they’re working on an even more accurate calculation. Dr. Thomas Frieden, who assumed leadership of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, on June 8 says, “There has been excellent global cooperation with the World Health Organization, with countries around the world,” Frieden said. “This is one of the many conditions that reminds us that we are all connected and many of our decisions in the U.S. will rely on good information from countries in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, Australia and elsewhere. It’s very important that we confront this jointly.”

  • Keep in mind that these are still just guestimates with little actual testing going on. Politicos want the number as high as possible to encourage greater global government control

Obama’s ‘Cash for Clunkers’ a Boon for Japanese Automakers

The latest study shows that the summer program that consumed $3 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds was fabulous for Japan’s Big 3 automakers, Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Maybe not so good for the U.S. The Japanese trio accounted for only 8% of trade-ins, but 41% of new car purchases, the new study by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By contrast, Detroit’s Three — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — made up for 85% of the trade-ins, and 39% of new purchases.

  • The ‘law’ of unintended consequences works double-time for government programs (i.e. boondoggles)

Arizona Fiscal Woes 2nd-Worst

Arizona has known for some time that it has a serious budget problem. On Wednesday, it found out just how serious. A new report rated the state as second only to California in terms of its fiscal problems. The report from the Pew Center for the States blames that dismal ranking on Arizona’s high foreclosure rate, its year-over-year drop in tax collections and its yawning budget deficit. “While the national economy may be out of deep water, the states may be drowning,” said Sue Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center, which tracks state policy issues and works on solutions. “The bottom line is state budget problems are likely to get worse before they get better,” Urahn said.

U.S. Deficit Sets More Records

The U.S. government deficit hit a record for October as the new budget year began where the old one ended: with the government awash in red ink. Economists worry that if such deficits continue it could push up interest rates, further dragging on the fragile economic recovery. The Treasury Department said Thursday that the deficit for October totaled $176.4 billion, even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected. The deficit for the 2009 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, set an all-time record in dollar terms of $1.42 trillion (over $30,000 for every person). That was $958 billion above the 2008 deficit, the previous record holder. October was the 13th straight month to show a monthly deficit — another record. The imbalance came mostly from lower receipts of individual and corporate taxes. Receipts were $135.3 billion, a 17.9% drop from last October. Spending dipped 2.7% to $311.7 billion.

The total federal government deficit has surpassed $2 trillion, with annual deficits of $1 trillion or more projected over the next decade. In 2008, the interest on the national debt was $451 billion. In addition, The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in September as foreign oil prices rose to the highest level in nearly a year. We now owe foreign entities $3.448 Trillion – 28.2% more than just 12 months ago.

  • This insurmountable, unsustainable debt will soon come crashing down upon us

Economic News

Official figures show that the 16-country euro area has joined the United States and Japan out of recession after the bloc’s economy grew by 0.4% in the third quarter. The United States also returned to growth in the third quarter, growing by a quarterly rate of 0.9%, according to Eurostat, while Japan’s recession ended in the second quarter when its economy grew by 0.2%. However, Asia-Pacific ministers warned on Wednesday that the global economic crisis was far from over and a current upturn was a respite rather than recovery.

  • This will be a small recovery followed by a stronger debt-induced downturn

New claims for unemployment insurance fell more than expected last week, evidence the job market is slowly healing as the economy recovers. The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 502,000 from 514,000 the previous week. That’s the fewest claims since the week ended Jan. 3, and has fallen more than 20% since its peak in the spring. Many analysts estimate that claims must fall to around 450,000 to signal that the economy is adding jobs, with 350,000-400,000 normal. President Obama took time Thursday — before jetting off to Asia for a 10-day tour — to announce a December jobs summit aimed at synching job growth with the massive government spending meant to “break the back” of the recession.

Foreclosures fell for the third-consecutive month in October, another sign the worst of the housing crisis may be past. RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif., real estate firm, reported Thursday that foreclosure filings totaled 332,292 last month, down 3% from September but up 19% from a year earlier. The figure means that one of every 385 homes received a foreclosure notice in October. Four states – California, Florida, Illinois and Michigan – accounted for 52% of last month’s foreclosures.

Global gold production is in terminal decline despite record prices and Herculean efforts by mining companies to discover fresh sources of ore in remote spots, according to the world’s top producer Barrick Gold. Aaron Regent, president of the Canadian gold giant, said that global output has been falling by roughly 1 million ounces a year since the start of the decade. “Production peaked around 2000 and it has been in decline ever since, and we forecast that decline to continue. It is increasingly difficult to find ore,” he said.

President Obama Sets Globe-Trotting Record

When President Obama takes off for his Asia trip tomorrow morning, he’ll be adding to a presidential record — most foreign countries visited by a first-year chief executive. After stops in Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea, Obama will have been in 20 countries this year, during eight separate foreign trips. The previous record holder: George H. W. Bush, according to Oval pal Mark Knoller of CBS News. The elder Bush went to 14 countries on seven foreign trips during his first year in office, 1989. Bush’s son, George W., went to 11 countries on five trips in 2001. Bill Clinton did only three countries during two trips his first year in 1993.

  • What we need is quality, not quantity

Terrorist Cell Arrested

Italy’s top security official said Friday that authorities have smashed an international terror cell with the arrest in Italy and elsewhere in Europe of 17 Algerians who were raising money to finance terrorism. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, speaking to reporters in Rome, called the terror cell “significant.” The arrests stemmed from an anti-terrorism investigation in Milan, and anti-terrorist units from Algeria, Austria, Britain, France, Spain and Switzerland cooperated in the probe. Milan police said the investigation, which started in 2007, uncovered an active organization with several international connections. Police said the organization had the aim of sending money to Algeria, and raised an estimated euro1 million ($1.5 million) over the past three years from crimes such as burglaries and thefts.

Afghanistan

U.S. and Afghan officials have agreed on a new nationwide strategy that will funnel millions of dollars in foreign aid to villages that organize “neighborhood watch”-like programs to help with security. The plan will provide an incentive for Afghan tribal leaders to form their own militias and guard against Taliban insurgents. President Hamid Karzai ‘s government had previously declined to sponsor such militias on a large scale, fearing they might pose a threat to its authority. By placing more responsibility for security in the hands of villagers, U.S. troops will be able to focus on more urgent matters at a time when the Taliban is on the rise.

The president won’t accept any of the war options before him without changes, a senior administration official said, as concerns soar over the ability of the Afghan government to secure its own country.   After months of deliberating, President Obama opted not to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government. Britain’s prime minister said Friday he could secure commitments for 5,000 more NATO forces in Afghanistan, offering key backing to the U.S. as it weighs increasing troop levels.

Iraq

Iraq‘s prime minister warned on Wednesday that insurgents will try to undermine the country’s fledgling democracy in the run-up to January’s national elections. “What has been achieved in the field of security needs to be safeguarded since the enemy is continuing to try and undermine the political process, especially now that elections are imminent,” said al-Maliki, who is seeking a second, four-year term. Iraq has seen significant security improvements over the past two years, but attacks blamed by the government on al-Qaeda in Iraq and Saddam Hussein supporters continue to hinder the country’s return to normalcy.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber in a pickup attacked the northwestern regional headquarters of the Pakistani spy agency overseeing a campaign against militancy, killing 10 people Friday. Another suicide assault in the area killed six more. The bombings were the latest in a string of attacks on security forces, civilians and Western targets since the government launched an offensive in mid-October against militants in the border region of South Waziristan, where al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are believed to be hiding out.

Brazil

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon dropped nearly 46% from August 2008 to July 2009 — the biggest annual decline in two decades, the government said Thursday. Analysis of satellite imagery by the National Institute for Space Research shows an estimated 7,008 square kilometers (2,705 square miles) of forest were cleared during the 12-month period, the lowest rate since the government started monitoring deforestation in 1988. The numbers have been falling since 2004, when they reached a peak of 27,000 square kilometers (10,425 square miles) cleared in one year. The government credited its aggressive monitoring and enforcement measures for the drop, as well as its promotion of sustainable activities in the Amazon region.

Weather

Relentless rain swept along much of the Atlantic seaboard Thursday and Friday, triggering coastal flood warnings and watches from North Carolina to Long Island. The downpour marks the track of the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida, which blew ashore in Alabama from the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday. Ida lost its tropical-storm strength shortly after coming on land but has drenched a swath from Alabama through Georgia as it meandered toward the Atlantic. Virginia Gov. The storm was blamed for three traffic fatalities in Virginia. In North Carolina, an elderly man standing in his yard was killed when winds toppled a pine tree onto him. Up to 10 inches of rain fell in Alabama and the Florida Panhandle and north to southeastern Virginia.

The nationwide multiyear drought, which was at its worst in 2002 and continued until last year, is over. Across the northwest, formerly parched pastures, dry streams and low reservoirs have been replaced with soggy fields and flooded grasslands. The USA is now in the least amount of drought since monitoring began 10 years ago. Last week, about 75% of the country showed no drought, the largest since the U.S. Drought Monitor was created in 1999, Fuchs said. At the drought’s peak in July 2002, about 72% of the country was in drought, according to the Drought Monitor. Much of the improvement is linked to a summer that was wetter and cooler than usual in much of the country.

  • However, Arizona and California remain in drought. All of Arizona is in drought, with 55% of its area under severe drought, while 98% of California is still suffering from drought conditions, with 18% severe. The only wildfire currently burning is in Arizona and has consumed 6,036 acres, nearly 10 square miles southwest of Alpine.

November 11, 2009

CDC Anti-Abstinence Sex report Debunked by Insiders

Two members of a Centers for Disease Control team that evaluated studies of sex education programs have raised alarms, reporting that the data actually conflicts with the agency’s stated conclusion that comprehensive programs such as those emphasizing “safe sex” over abstinence are working. The alarms are being raised by Irene Ericksen and Danielle Ruedt, two members of the CDC panel that evaluated dozens of studies and came up with the conclusion supporting the so-called “comprehensive” programs that teach children to use condoms. “The study recommendations may mislead policymakers by presenting conclusions that don’t match key study findings,” confirmed Paul Birch, chief of the Institute for Research and Evaluation. The overall study, called “Group-based Interventions to Prevent Adolescent Pregnancy, HIV, and Other STDs,” stated the effectiveness of programs that include condom instruction. It was based on the compilation of 83 studies done from 1980 through 2007 and was released just in time to be considered for President Obama’s request to cut money from abstinence education programs. But according to Ericksen, a research analyst with the Institute for Research and Evaluation in Salt Lake City, the statistics inside the study showed no difference between abstinence education and so-called “comprehensive sex education” on key factors including teen condom use, sexual activity, pregnancy and STDs.

An abstinence advocate says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control shows that abstinence education is delaying sex among teens. Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, says the results came from ten different studies provided by six different authors. She also notes that two members of the panel reported that abstinence education programs “produced a statistically significant reduction in teen sexual activity for periods averaging about one year.” “The most significant finding in terms of the effectiveness of abstinence education was that those students [included in the studies] were less likely to initiate sexual activity or to discontinue [sexual activity], which is exactly the purpose of abstinence education,” Huber reports. “So it certainly should be instructive to policy makers as they are deciding how to use taxpayer dollars in the year 2010.”

  • The New World Order seeks to destroy God’s blueprint for sex and families any way possible, especially by lying.

Abortion Amendment could be Short-Lived

National Right to Life is warning that pro-abortion Democrats will fight tooth and nail to get a prohibition on federal funding of abortion ultimately removed from their healthcare bill. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida), the Democrats’ chief deputy whip in the House, said yesterday that she and other pro-abortion lawmakers would work to strip the Stupak amendment included in the House health bill that bars federal funding of abortions under the public health insurance option. Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC, “I am confident that when it comes back from the conference committee that the language won’t be there.” Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, says the fate of the abortion funding ban depends on what U.S. senators hear from their constituents.”

  • A typical tactic. Put the amendment in to get the bill passed, then take it out in conference. Pray and contact your representatives.

AARP Sells Out Seniors for Big Bucks

The AARP claims to be all about representing the interests of seniors, but when it comes to health care reform, they are selling seniors down the river to line their own pockets, reports the American Family Association. The AARP has endorsed the gargantuan PelosiCare bill that just passed the House, despite the fact the bill proposes more than $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, which is certain to lead to rationing, inferior care and “death panels” for vulnerable senior citizens. Why? As they say, follow the money. PelosiCare will also cut Medicare Advantage by $170 billion. Medicare Advantage allows seniors to purchase private insurance with their Medicare payments, but these cuts will drive many of these seniors into inferior Medigap plans. AARP has a vested interest in seniors being driven out of Medicare Advantage into Medigap plans because AARP makes a fortune in royalty fees from Medigap plans. More than one-half of its $1.1 billion budget comes from such royalty fees, and Medigap plans make up the biggest share of this royalty revenue by far.

  • Greed continues to be the number one factor destroying our economy and our country

Weekend ‘Tea Parties’ will Focus on Amnesty Issue

On Saturday thousands of citizens opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants will take part in special “Tea Party” events in more than 50 cities across the U.S. to make their opinions known. Recently Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) announced that he intends to introduce amnesty legislation by the end of November. William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, says “Many of the Democrats in the House are begging the leadership not to bring up the amnesty bill at all next year because they are fearful for their political lives in the next election… Obama fears the backlash on it — says that he’s going to file that bill,” Gheen adds. “So we’re trying to push him back into not filing that bill.”

Faith Leaders Present Climate Plan to U.N.

Leaders of nine major faiths have presented 60 ideas for lessening carbon emissions to the United Nations after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon singled out the religious community as key in fighting climate change. Alliance of Religions and Conservation Secretary General Martin Palmer said a recently convened conference in England on religion and the environment had produced more results than expected. “We knew that we were going to have 31 major commitments, such as the Church of England cutting back its energy use by 40% by 2015, or the Muslims ‘greening’ the Hajj or Jews cutting meat consumption in their community by 2015,” Palmer said. “Then, on the last day, there were 30 more commitments.” Tarek Wafik, Secretary General of the Forum of Dialogue and Partnership for Development, said Islamic countries have accepted the plan, which will involve educating an estimated three million pilgrims who go to Mecca every year about the need to lighten their carbon footsteps.

“Up until recently, the religious community had abdicated its responsibility to care for creation.” Rev. Sally Bingham, the San Francisco-based leader of the Interfaith Power and Light campaign said in London, “I believe that clergy talking abut environmental stewardship from the pulpit will have more influence than will scientists or a politician.”

  • Just another step in the New World Order’s campaign toward universal government and religion. By lumping all religions together, the implication is that no one religion has the ultimate truth.

Mormons Back Gay Rights Laws

The Mormon church for the first time has announced its support of gay rights legislation, an endorsement that helped gain unanimous approval for Salt Lake City laws banning discrimination against gays in housing and employment. The Utah-based church’s support ahead of Tuesday night’s vote came despite its steadfast opposition to gay marriage, reflected in the high-profile role it played last year in California’s ballot measure that barred such unions. “The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage,” Michael Otterson, the director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said. Passage made Salt Lake City the first Utah community to prohibit bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the two new ordinances, it is illegal to fire someone from their job or evict someone from their residence because they are lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender.

  • Unfortunately, many people confuse Mormonism with Christianity.

Federal Judge Nixes License Plates with Cross

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that South Carolina can’t issue license plates showing the image of a cross in front of a stained glass window along with the phrase “I Believe.” U.S. District Judge Cameron Currie said in her ruling that the license plates was unconstitutional because it violates a constitutional ban on establishment of religion. Christian advocates tried to get the same license plate approved in Florida, but the bill did not pass its Legislature. The fight over the plates started shortly after Lt. General Andre Bauer helped push the legislation through in 2008. Groups including Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee challenged the state’s ability to put a religious message on a state license tag.

Ft. Hood Suspect Had ‘Unexplained Connections’

The Army psychiatrist suspected of killing 13 people in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood had “more unexplained connections to people being tracked by the FBI” than just a radical Muslim imam, investigators have found. The names of the individuals Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was in contact with were not revealed by the official, but sources in Congress told ABC News their names and locations will likely emerge soon. Federal agencies offered conflicting claims about whether a Defense Department terrorism investigator looked into Hasan’s contacts months ago with an imam who was released from a Yemeni jail last year, who has used his personal Web site to encourage Muslims across the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. The New York Times reports that intelligence agencies intercepted communications last year and this year between the Hasan and the radical cleric, “but the federal authorities dropped an inquiry into the matter after deciding that the messages from [Hasan] did not suggest any threat of violence.”

Real Unemployment Tops 22%

The true rate of unemployment for October 2009 may be 22.1 percent, not the 10.2 percent reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports. So, how does the Obama administration get away with reporting the lower unemployment percentage? Corsi explained that the Clinton administration changed the way BLS calculates unemployment statistics by excluding “discouraged workers,” those who had given up looking for a job because there were no jobs to be found. Since the Clinton years, discouraged workers looking for a job for more than one year are not counted as “unemployed” because they are considered to have dropped out of the labor force. The BLS still includes in “U6 Unemployment” calculations short-term discouraged workers, as long as they have been looking for a job less than one year, which yields an unemployment rate of 17.2%. Adding those looking for more than a year brings the rate to 22.1%.

Obama Travels to Asia

President Obama leaves Thursday on his first official trip to Asia for visits with Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. “This is the fastest growing economic region in the world,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. “It’s also home to very critical political relationships to the United States.” On his way to Asia, Obama will refuel Thursday at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska and speak to U.S. troops. He’ll thank the troops for their service, as he decides on a new strategy for Afghanistan that could well involve more U.S. forces.

Key Obama Administration Jobs Still Unfilled

Nearly 200 top jobs in the administration remain vacant a year after Obama began planning his ascension to power, the result of stalled nominations, new ethics rules, lengthy background checks and delays in Senate confirmations. More than half the vacancies are at five departments: Justice, State, Treasury, Defense and Homeland Security. “Those are pretty significant policy jobs, and ones that the public ought to be concerned about,” says New York University professor Paul Light, an expert on the federal bureaucracy. “Obama is well on pace right now to set a new record in terms of lateness.” The Senate has confirmed 366 nominees, compared with 421 at this point for the George W. Bush administration, 379 for Bill Clinton and 480 for Ronald Reagan, according to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid.

San Fran Utility Turns Food Waste into Energy

While many see restaurant leftovers as trash, a San Francisco-area utility sees them as a source of energy. The East Bay Municipal Utility District, which provides water and wastewater treatment in the eastern San Francisco Bay Area, is turning food scraps from 2,300 Bay Area restaurants and grocery stores into electricity to help it power its wastewater facility. Every day, one or two 20-ton trucks pull up to the plant here and dump food waste into giant tanks. At the end of the process, the food scraps create methane gas. It helps power the plant’s electricity-making generators. The project is the first of its kind in the nation for a wastewater treatment plant, the Environmental Protection Agency says, and it’s at the forefront of an almost untapped renewable energy resource. Every year, more than 30 million tons of food waste goes to landfills, the EPA says, accounting for about 20% of landfill waste.

Low-Cost Airlines Grab Market Share

An unrelenting trend is reshuffling the deck in the U.S. airline industry’s domestic market and changing the travel habits of many Americans. And more changes are on tap for the coming decade, analysts predict. Low-cost airlines – including big ones like Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue, and small ones like Frontier, Spirit, Virgin America and Allegiant – have grown rapidly in the past 10 years at the expense of United and other traditional mainline carriers such as Delta, American, Continental and US Airways. The conventional carriers, in turn, have cut flights in most markets, shrunk or closed hubs, and farmed a lot of routes out to regional affiliates. They’ve even abandoned service to some cities. The reshuffling has accelerated the past two years as high fuel costs and a recession-induced slump in travel took a toll on conventional airlines. So far this year, only low-cost airlines have consistently posted much of a profit or done much expansion on routes.

Foreclosure Relief Plan Helps 20% in Calif, Nev., Ariz.

The Obama administration’s plan to combat foreclosures has reached about 20% of troubled homeowners in states most affected by the housing meltdown, according to data released Tuesday. In California, about 130,000 homeowners have been enrolled in the “Making Home Affordable” loan modification plan, which President Barack Obama announced in February. That works out to about 19% of homeowners who were either two payments behind or in foreclosure at the end of last month. Two other hard-hit states, Arizona and Nevada had similar rates of assistance, at 22% and 18% respectively. Florida, however, was much lower, at 12%, possibly because its high numbers of investor-owned properties don’t qualify for the program.

Strings Attached to Stimulus Dollars

The Obama administration is ready to hand out more stimulus dollars for schools, but this time, strings are attached. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said another $11.5 billion is available to states, which have already received more than $67 billion. Duncan said the administration wanted to distribute most of the money quickly to bolster state budgets that have been ravaged by the recession. Duncan is making it tougher to get the rest of the dollars because the administration wants states to adopt President Barack Obama‘s vision of reform. States will have to fill out a far more detailed application that demands information on Obama’s broad goals — tougher academic standards, better ways to recruit and keep effective teachers, a method of tracking student performance and a plan of action to turn around failing schools.

  • All of which equals more centralized government control over our schools

Economic News

Job openings are at rock-bottom levels, according to government and private surveys released Tuesday, a trend that could keep the unemployment rate high even as layoffs slow. Small businesses in particular are reluctant to add workers as they struggle to obtain credit. The department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey said employers advertised about 2.5 million job openings at the end of September, up slightly from the previous month. That’s down from a peak of 4.8 million openings in June 2007. There are about 6.1 unemployed workers, on average, competing for each job opening, a Labor Department report shows.

A real estate group says home prices fell in the third quarter of this year, as heavily discounted distressed sales made up 30% of all deals. The national median price clocked in at $177,900, or 11% below the third quarter last year. But home sales continued their climb, with quarterly sales outpacing the second quarter and the previous year’s figures, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Total quarterly sales hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.3 million, up more than 11% from the second quarter.

Lenders in the government’s Making Home Affordable program have extended mortgage modifications to more than 650,000 delinquent borrowers since April — a fifth of those eligible, the government reported Tuesday. The number of homeowners who have been offered trial loan modifications has more than doubled since August to 919,965. Homeowners receive modifications if they stay current on their loans for the three-month trial phase.

Gold prices hit an all-time peak of $1,109.50 dollars/ ounce Monday with the dollar weakening as the euro rose to $1.50 for the first time in 2 weeks after G20 countries pledged to keep economic recovery pumped up with easy money.

The wait for a snowplow will be longer in some communities this winter as tight budgets, layoffs and high salt prices force cuts in snow removal services. To save money, Colorado Springs won’t plow residential streets unless at least 6 inches of snow falls, says Saleem Khattak, city street division manager. The city used to plow residential areas after every snowfall. “In a normal winter operation, the streets would be cleared in 6-8 hours,” says deputy Sheboygan, Wisconsin public works director David Biebel. “It may take us 10-12 or 12-14 hours this winter.” Salt will be applied only to intersections, hilly streets and near hospitals and schools, says Peoria, Ill. public works director David Barber.

The U.S. government is rushing to deliver swine flu vaccine at record speed, but there won’t be a quick fix for pork producers, who have been financially battered by the virus. Unfounded fears that the H1N1 virus can be contracted by eating pork have contributed to the worst financial crisis in the history of hog farming. The main causes of the 2-year-old downturn are soaring feed costs and the global recession. But the H1N1 scare accelerated a slump in pork exports last spring as Russia and China banned U.S. shipments.

Iraq

Iraq’s government approved a major oil deal with a consortium grouping U.S. and European oil giants ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell to develop a prized oil field in the country’s south. The two companies will develop the 8.6 billion barrel West Qurna 1 field. The agreement marks the return of ExxonMobil (XOM) and Shell to oil-rich Iraq, which expelled the international majors after it nationalized the sector in the 1970s. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also said that his government is still discussing a second deal with a consortium led by Italy’s Eni to develop the 4.1 billion barrel Zubair field.

Afghanistan

Japan said Tuesday it plans to provide up to $5 billion in aid to Afghanistan, effectively replacing its naval refueling mission that supports U.S.-led coalition in the region in a commitment announced days ahead of President Obama’s visit. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama‘s government, which wants to put Tokyo’s ties with Washington on a more equal footing, doesn’t plan to extend Japan’s refueling mission in the Indian Ocean when it ends in January — while Obama is reviewing his options for a new strategy in the Afghanistan conflict. The Foreign Ministry said in a release that up to $5 billion in aid for Afghanistan will be given over five years. The funds are to be used in areas such as building up the police force and on agriculture and other infrastructure projects.

International troops and Afghan police seized 250 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer — enough to make up to a couple hundred roadside bombs, the Taliban‘s most lethal weapon in what has been the deadliest year of the war, NATO announced Tuesday. NATO officials hoped the fertilizer seizure would slow down Taliban militants, whose homemade bombs have become the biggest killer of U.S. and allied troops.

Beset by delays and cost overruns, two U.S.-funded power projects in Afghanistan are generating only a fraction of the electricity that was promised — and the Afghan government may not be able to keep the bigger plant working, according to a new federal audit. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is on track to spend $340 million on two projects designed to boost power production in a country where only 15% of the population gets electricity.

Pakistan

A suspected car bomb exploded just outside a crowded market in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 20 people and wounding 55. The bombing in Charsadda city was the third attack in as many days in or close to Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province. Militants have stepped up attacks in recent weeks in retaliation for an army offensive in a key area along the Afghan border. Helicopter gunships shelled militant hide-outs in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing 10 suspected fighters after gunmen murdered two paramilitary soldiers at a checkpoint in the area.

Korea

The two Koreas briefly exchanged naval fire Tuesday along their disputed western sea border, with a North Korean ship suffering heavy damage before retreating. South Korea‘s troops went on high alert Wednesday for possible retaliation by North Korea. One North Korea officer was killed, but there were no South Korean casualties. Each side blamed the other for violating the sea border. The clash — the first of its in kind in seven years — occurred as U.S. officials said President Barack Obama has decided to send a special envoy to Pyongyang for rare direct talks on the communist country’s nuclear weapons program. No date has been set but it would be the first one-on-one talks since Obama took office in January. Obama is due in Seoul next week.

Brazil

Brazil emerged early Wednesday from a widespread power outage that plunged its major cities and at least nine states into darkness for hours, prompting security fears and concern from residents about another black eye for a country hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. Power went out for more than two hours in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and several other major cities, affecting millions of people, after transmission problems knocked one of the world’s biggest hydroelectric dams offline. Airport operations were hindered and subways ground to a halt. All of neighboring Paraguay was plunged into the dark, but for less than a half hour.

Weather

The USA just slogged through its wettest October on record, the federal government’s National Climatic Data Center announced Tuesday. The nationwide precipitation of 4.15 inches was nearly double the long-term average of 2.11 inches, the center noted in an online report. Precipitation was most extreme in the central USA, where three states — Iowa, Arkansas, and Louisiana — saw their wettest October ever. Only three out of the 50 U.S. states had below-average amounts of rain and snow: Florida, Utah, and Arizona.

Tropical Storm Ida came ashore near Mobile Bay in southern Alabama with top sustained winds weakened to about 45 mph, Ahead of the storm, weather-hardened Gulf Coast residents refused to retreat from the rare late-season tropical storm that weakened as it crept toward shore Tuesday, bringing heavy rain, stiff winds and some flooding. Tropical storm warnings were still out across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, where governors declared states of emergency. Although Ida delivered only a glancing blow to the Gulf Coast, its remnants will develop into a powerful new storm off the East Coast Wednesday. Eastern sections of the Carolinas could receive up to 8 inches of rain, and some coastal areas could record wind gusts of up to 60 mph tonight and Thursday.

A landslide triggered by torrential seasonal rains swept through a hilly region in southern India, killing at least 42 people. The landslide demolished nearly 300 tin-roofed mud huts Monday. Rescuers found 14 bodies in the debris Monday and another 28 on Tuesday. The death toll was expected to rise further with the rescue operation continuing in the region.

The Mexican government has declared parts of the Gulf coast state of Tabasco disaster zones due to flooding from days of heavy rains, freeing up federal relief funds for the area. The Interior Department decree issued Monday covers the cities of Cardenas and Huimanguillo, where the government is handing out food and household goods to some of the estimated 200,000 people affected by high waters. But flooded roads are making it difficult to get aid in. Some areas have been under water for about 10 days. Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier says some victims lack food and drinking water. About 40,000 people remain in emergency shelters, but others are waiting out the floods on the roofs of their homes.

November 9, 2009

Governor Gets Message, Victory for Christmas!

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear did not like a Christmas tree being called a Christmas tree. So he changed it. According to the Associated Press, Gov. Beshear recently decided the tree on the Capitol lawn in Frankfort, for 2009, should be called a “holiday” tree. American Family Association immediately went to work against the forces of political correctness who wanted to remove the word “Christmas” from the Christmas season. Within days, thousands of phone calls and emails had flooded the governor’s office, urging him to reverse his decision.  As a result, the governor issued a statement saying the tree would immediately and henceforth officially be called a “Christmas” tree.

Historic, Obama-backed Health Care Bill Passes House

The Democratic-controlled House has narrowly passed landmark health care reform legislation, handing President Obama a hard won victory on his signature domestic priority. Republicans were nearly unanimous in opposing the plan that would expand coverage to tens of millions of Americans who lack it and place tough new restrictions on the insurance industry. The 220-215 vote late Saturday cleared the way for the Senate to begin a long-delayed debate on the issue that has come to overshadow all others in Congress. A triumphant Speaker Nancy Pelosi compared the legislation to the passage of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare 30 years later. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) applauded the passage of the pro-life amendment offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) and Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Penn) which prohibits federal funding of abortion under the health care bill in the U.S. House.

In the run-up to a final vote, conservatives from the two political parties joined forces to impose tough new restrictions on abortion coverage in insurance policies to be sold to many individuals and small groups. The legislation would require most Americans to carry insurance and provide federal subsidies to those who otherwise could not afford it. Large companies would have to offer coverage to their employees. Both consumers and companies would be slapped with penalties if they defied the government’s mandates. Insurance industry practices such as denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions would be banned, and insurers would no longer be able to charge higher premiums on the basis of gender or medical history. The industry would also lose its exemption from federal antitrust restrictions on price fixing and market allocation.

Don’t look for the Senate to quickly follow the House on health care overhaul. A government health insurance plan included in the House bill is unacceptable to a few Democratic moderates who hold the balance of power in the Senate. If a government plan is part of the deal, “as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent whose vote Democrats need to overcome GOP filibusters. “The House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.

  • Good news about abortion, but penalties for defiance, government mandates, price fixing? Sounds like socialism. Good-bye freedom – unless the Senate has a change of heart. Pray hard, contact your Senators.

U.S. Troops’ Insignia Bears U.N. Colors, NAU Continent

Troops in the United States’ USNORTHCOM ranks appear to have adopted a shoulder patch showing a North American continental design, with an emphasis on United Nations colors, giving evidence of the strength of a plan to integrate North America. The patch reveals the continent of North America in the orange and blue colors typical to the U.N. The insignia patch also is displayed on the 5th Army website, the home of U.S. Army North, USARNORTH, the Joint Force Land Component Command and the Army Service Component Command of USNORTHCOM. The design of the patch with the U.S. eagle image superimposed seems to imply a hierarchy in which the U.S. 5th Army exerts its military command under the authority of USNORTHCOM, with its domain defined as all North America, including the U.S., Mexico and Canada, for the United Nations.

Officials Warn Against Anti-Muslim Backlash

The Obama administration and top military leaders are discouraging an anti-Muslim backlash in the aftermath of last week’s deadly shooting at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano on Sunday echoed weekend remarks by President Obama cautioning against saying that religion played a role in the attack or that it was “terrorism.” Muslim and Arab groups have reported a few threats of violence, plus angry phone calls and hateful e-mails. So far, the harsh words haven’t turned to action.

However, The alleged Fort Hood shooter apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there. Whether the Fort Hood shooter associated with the hijackers is something the FBI will look into. The suspected Fort Hood terrorist’s former mosque in Maryland is controlled by the radical Muslim Brotherhood, a Saudi-funded worldwide jihadist movement which controls many of the mosques in America.

  • A violent backlash would not be the right response, but to deny Islam’s role in the attack is ludicrous. Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan against Islamic militants create a dilemma for Muslims in the U.S. military which needs to be closely monitored.

U.S. Islamic Street Preachers Declare Fort Hood Victims Got Just Deserts

A radical Muslim group was videotaped condoning the massacre at Fort Hood by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan because it was a military target. “America’s chickens have come home to roost,” shouted a representative of the group. A website run by Revolution Muslim is also honoring Hasan, the man accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas, as an “Officer and a Gentleman,” saying his actions should not be denounced. The massacre, which also left more than two dozen injured, was called a “pre-emptive attack” by supporters of the group. The website lists as its imam Sheik Abdullah el-Faisal, who in February 2003 was sentenced to nine years in jail, reduced to seven on appeal, after being convicted of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred in England.

Small Businesses Struggling

Small businesses often lead the nation out of recession. Not this time. With sales weak, they’re still slashing jobs and faring worse than their larger rivals. Nineteen percent of small-business owners cut jobs by a seasonally adjusted average of 4.2 workers per firm in the third quarter, according to a late-October survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Just 8% boosted employment. That’s better than the previous month, but “the job-generating machine is still in reverse,” says NFIB economist William Dunkelberg. The struggles of small businesses help explain why the jobless rate soared to 10.2% in October.

Small Banks Failing

Just as the housing sector appears to be recovering, gathering problems in the commercial real estate market threaten to become a new drag on the economy. The collapse in home prices sunk many big banks last year, but this year smaller lenders and community banks are going bust at an alarming rate because of their exposure to souring commercial real estate loans. At least 119 banks have failed this year, many because of their exposure to deteriorating commercial loans for retail space, office buildings and industrial parks. As of June 30, another 416 institutions the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was monitoring as “problem” lenders.

  • It’s not a coincidence that small businesses and small banks are failing, unlike in previous recoveries. The Obama administration and the New World (Dis)Order favor fewer, larger institutions which are easier to control.

Economic News

Freddie Mac‘s losses narrowed to $6.3 billion in the third quarter, but the government-controlled mortgage finance company didn’t need a federal cash infusion. The McLean, Va.-based company has received about $51 billion since it was seized by federal regulators in September 2008, but said it didn’t need any more money for the second-straight quarter. However, high unemployment and rising foreclosures will continue to “impede a full recovery,” and the company may need more money from the Treasury Department to stay afloat.

Consumers borrowed less for a record eighth straight month in September amid rising unemployment and tight credit conditions. Economists worry the declines in borrowing will drag on the fledgling recovery. The Federal Reserve said Friday that borrowing fell at an annual rate of $14.8 billion in September. That’s the biggest decline since July. Americans are borrowing less as they try to repair cracked nest eggs and replenish rainy day funds in a dismal jobs market. Many are finding it hard to get credit as banks, hit by the worst financial crisis in decades, have tightened lending standards.

Chavez Prepares Venezuela for War with Columbia

President Hugo Chavez on Sunday ordered Venezuela’s military to prepare for a possible armed conflict with Colombia. Chavez said Venezuela could end up going to war with Colombia as tensions between them rise, and he warned that if a conflict broke out “it could extend throughout the whole continent.” Venezuela’s socialist leader cited a recent deal between Bogota and Washington giving U.S. troops greater access to military bases as a threat to regional stability. The government of Colombian President Alvaro rejected what it called “threats of war from Venezuela’s government,” saying it would protest Chavez’s comments to the Organization of American States and the U.N. Security Council.

  • Chavez is mostly hot air, but erratic enough to do something stupid

Iraq Passes Election Law

Iraq’s parliament ended weeks of debate Sunday and passed a long-delayed law paving the way for the planned January election to go forward, sidestepping a crisis that could have delayed the U.S. troop withdrawal. The decision appeared to resolve a key sticking point — who will be allowed to vote in the disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The issue had threatened to delay Iraq’s key parliamentary elections, which in turn would affect how quickly American combat forces could leave the country. In a sign of how intensely Washington was following the debate, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill could be seen shuttling between various political factions before the law’s passage. All U.S. combat troops will be out of the country by the end of August 2010, leaving about 50,000 trainers and support troops, who in turn would leave by the end of 2011.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan‘s Defense Ministry said Saturday that a NATO airstrike in the western province of Badghis the previous day mistakenly hit a joint base housing coalition troops and Afghan security forces, killing four Afghan soldiers and three policemen. It added that five U.S. and 15 Afghan soldiers, two policemen and an Afghan civilian interpreter had been wounded in several hours of fighting against insurgents during the search for two missing paratroopers. The two disappeared on Wednesday while trying to recover supplies that had been airdropped and had fallen into a river.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Washington’s closest ally in Afghanistan, toughened his tone Friday with a harsh message for the Afghan leadership: Clean up your act — for real this time — or risk a cutoff of support. In what 10 Downing Street billed as a major speech, Brown reflected public outrage over troop casualties by threatening to pull back support — and perhaps additional troops — unless Afghan President Hamid Karzai cracked down on corruption. It was his first challenge since the Afghan leader was declared the winner of an election deeply marred by charges of fraud and ballot-rigging.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday in a crowded market in northwestern Pakistan, killing an anti-Taliban mayor who had formed a militia to fight the militants and 11 other people. Twenty-five wounded people — several in critical condition — were rushed to a hospital. Another suicide bomber in a rickshaw detonated his explosives near a group of policemen in northwest Pakistan‘s main city of Peshawar, killing three people Monday The attacks were the latest in a string of strikes that has killed more than 300 people over the past six weeks. The Taliban have carried out a series of attacks in recent weeks aimed at pressuring the government to abandon an offensive launched in mid-October in South Waziristan, the main Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuary in the country.

Somalia

Spain said Saturday it is working to free 33 crewmembers of a fishing vessel held by Somali pirates as thousands of friends and relatives rallied for their release. Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said he planed to meet Somali leader Ali Sharmarke Abdirashid Omar in Kenya. The pirates were threatening to kill the captives if two pirates captured by Spain were not freed. The two Somali men were captured and brought to Madrid for their alleged role in the hijacking of the Alakrana on Oct. 2 in tuna-rich waters of the Indian Ocean. The two suspects are due to face trial in Spain for kidnapping and other charges.

China

Nine men have been executed for taking part in ethnic rioting that left nearly 200 people dead in July, the first suspects put to death in the unrest, Chinese state media reported Monday. The worst ethnic unrest in decades began July 5 when minority Uighurs attacked Han, who make up China’s dominant ethnicity, only to face retaliatory attacks two days later. Many Uighurs, who are a Turkic Muslim ethnic group linguistically and culturally distinct from the Han, resent Beijing‘s heavy-handed rule in Xinjiang, their traditional homeland. Four months later, Xinjiang remains smothered in heavy security, with Internet access cut and international direct dialing calls blocked.

Weather

Mud and boulders loosened by heavy rains swept down a volcano and partly buried a small town Sunday, swallowing up homes as flooding and landslides across El Salvador killed at least 124 people. Hundreds of soldiers, police and residents dug through rock and debris in Verapaz looking for another 60 people missing from the mudslide, which struck before dawn Sunday while residents were still in their beds. Almost 7,000 people saw their homes damaged by landslides or cut off by floodwaters following three days of downpours from a low-pressure system indirectly related to Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida is the biggest weather story in the U.S. on Monday as the late-season storm continued tracking north through the Gulf of Mexico, toward southeastern Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle. The system has weakened to Category 1 strength due to high wind shear and cooler waters. Periods of heavy downpours, strong thunderstorms, damaging winds and dangerous storm surges will accompany Ida during the storm’s progression.