‘Personhood’ Movement Explodes in 32 States

A pro-life movement seeking to guarantee basic human rights to unborn babies is exploding in 32 states – and leaders say it could be just the key to nullifying abortion provisions in President Obama’s health-care “reform.” While abortion was not specifically mentioned in earlier bills under consideration, H.R.3962, unveiled by Nancy Pelosi this week, does in fact state abortion is to be covered. Concerns are mounting that whatever the final form of the legislation, the procedure will become more accessible, requiring health insurance companies to fund abortions. Gualberto Garcia Jones is director of Personhood Colorado and a legal analyst for Personhood USA, a grassroots Christian organization that seeks to legally define every unborn baby as a “person” protected by God-given and constitutionally protected rights, including the right to life. His organization was set up to support personhood efforts across America through legislation and constitutional amendments. He said citizens in 32 states are now acting to find sponsors for personhood statutes or constitutional amendments to include them on 2010 ballots.

State Ballots Tackle Controversial Issues Tuesday

Voters in six states will decide Tuesday on a range of hot-button issues, from same-sex marriage and medical marijuana laws to borrowing funds for open space. In Maine and Washington state, voters will decide whether to extend marriage rights to gay men and lesbians. A ballot measure in Maine would repeal a gay-marriage law passed last spring by the state Legislature. In Washington, Referendum 71 would give same-sex partners and unmarried seniors who live together the same rights as married couples with the caveat “that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.” Maine voters will also decide whether to include more medical conditions that would qualify patients to buy marijuana.  Ohioans will vote a fifth time since 1990 on whether to allow casinos to operate in the state. All previous measures had failed. The largest bond measure is in New Jersey, where voters are being asked to support a $400 million bond to preserve open space, farmland, historic and natural resources.

Public Health Plan Covers Few

After all the noise over Democrats‘ push for a government insurance plan to compete with private carriers, coverage numbers are finally in: Two percent. That’s the estimated share of Americans younger than 65 who’d sign up for the public option plan under the health care bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is steering toward House approval. The underwhelming statistic is raising questions about whether the government plan will be the iron-fisted competitor that private insurers warn will shut them down or a niche operator that becomes a haven for patients with health insurance horror stories. The Democratic health care bills would extend coverage to the uninsured by providing government help with premiums and prohibiting insurers from excluding people in poor health or charging them more. But to keep from piling more on the federal deficit, most of the uninsured will have to wait until 2013 for help. Even then, many will have to pay a significant share of their own health care costs.

  • What a mess. Beyond idiotic.

Swine H1N1 Flu

Heath officials say swine flu has caused at least 19 more children’s deaths — the largest one-week increase since the pandemic started in April. At least 114 children have died from swine flu complications since the pandemic began in April. The CDC reported that swine flu is widespread now in all but two states. Health officials estimate that many millions of Americans have been infected, though most suffer only mild illness.

Tribe’s Environmental Fight

A green controversy fueled by coal-fired power plants is raging on America’s largest Indian reservation. On one side is Joe Shirley Jr., president of the Navajo Nation, who rejects the notion of climate change even though he recently won an international award for environmentalism. On the other are environmentalists opposed to power plants in Indian Country and to the coal mines that provide their fuel. Caught in the middle are tribal members concerned with economic survival and the protection of sacred lands. The Navajo Generating Station near Page, which uses coal from mines on Black Mesa, employs hundreds of tribal members and helps finance the tribal government. The Desert Rock Energy Project, proposed in western New Mexico, has been under consideration for years. The $3 billion plant would be fueled by coal from a new mine, bringing more jobs and revenue to the Navajos.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants the Navajo Generating Station to install costly air-scrubbing equipment, an expense the tribe and some Arizona utility companies say could lead to the plant’s closure. Environmental groups, which have targeted the plant for years because of the emissions-related haze that builds up over the Grand Canyon, applaud the scrubbers The Navajo Generating Station, the nation’s third-largest emitter of nitrogen oxides, spews 19.9 million tons of carbon emissions each year and uses 9.1 billion gallons of water – enough to fill Saguaro Lake twice with water left over. The nearby Four Corners Power Plant is the second-largest emitter of nitrogen oxides.

College Enrollment Hits Record

Some are there because of the recession, and others despite it. Regardless, more young Americans than ever are in college — especially community college, according to a new report. A record high of about 11.5 million Americans age 18 to 24, or nearly 40%, attended college in October 2008, according to a study of Census data released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Virtually all the increase of 300,000 students over the previous year came at two-year schools, while attendance at four-year schools remained flat. Community colleges almost certainly saw attendance go up at least that much again this year, though final figures are not yet available. The American Association of Community Colleges reports growth rates of 10% and higher have been common this fall on many campuses.

CIT Files for Bankruptcy

Small- and midsize-business financier CIT Group‘s bankruptcy protection filing Sunday could put most of its clients back into the precarious position the federal government was trying to prevent with its $2.3 billion cash infusion late last year. CIT is the largest of the so-called factoring companies that provide capital to clients based on their accounts receivable to tide them over until they’re paid. The filing by CIT, the leading provider of financing to retailers and their vendors, is one of the largest in U.S. history. Like its clients, CIT had been struggling to find funding of its own.  CIT says its creditors have already approved its prepackaged Chapter 11 reorganization plan and that it plans to emerge by the end of the year. Even if it emerges intact, more than three-quarters of its clients will likely need alternative financing.

No Stimulus Jobs?

A former official with the White House Office of Management and Budget says the net number of jobs created by President Obama’s “stimulus” program is zero or worse. The White House is boasting that 650,000 jobs have already been saved or created under President Obama’s economic stimulus plan. However, J.D. Foster, an economist at The Heritage Foundation, believes their figures are “fraudulent and misleading.” “In saying that, I’m not criticizing the calculation of the number that they’ve put out, but rather the interpretation.  What they have referred to in effect is a ‘gross jobs created’ number, and they ignore the jobs that their program has destroyed,” says Foster. “And so you end up with a positive.  But when you look at the jobs that are destroyed by this program, they’re equivalent to the jobs they say they’ve saved or created, and you end up with at best a net zero — and in all likelihood a significant reduction in employment because of this program.”

Factory Towns Slow to See Stimulus Funds

Many communities hit hardest by job losses, those built around dying factories and mills, have been slowest to see relief from President Barack Obama‘s stimulus plan, underscoring how hard it is for Washington policymakers to create lasting work in areas that need it most. The manufacturing industry has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs during the recession as plants have closed or scaled back. Nationwide, only 2,500 of the 650,000 stimulus jobs announced Friday were in the manufacturing industry, and many of those appear to be mislabeled. Teachers were the biggest winners because states used federal aid to fill budget gaps, then credited the money with avoiding layoffs — even if no such layoffs were planned.

Economic News

Grim signals about consumer spending ripped through the markets Friday, sending stocks tumbling as investors raced for safe havens. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Nasdaq composite index ended with losses for October, breaking a streak of seven straight months of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 250 points, erasing a 200-point gain Thursday and ending the month flat. Drops in key barometers of the health of consumers — what they’re spending, what they’re earning and how they’re feeling — fanned worries that an economic recovery won’t last.

U.S. authorities seized nine failed banks on Friday, the most in a single day since the financial crisis began and the latest stark sign that substantial parts of the nation’s banking industry are being crippled by bad loans. The move brought the total number of failed banks in 2009 to 115 — their highest annual level since 1992 — with analysts expecting more to come.

Retail gasoline prices chugged higher Friday to a new peak for the year, forcing consumers to dig deeper into already-thin wallets to pay for fuel. Prices are up 5.9 cents from a week ago and 14.8 cents from a year ago, climbing to $2.695 a gallon. The average retail price for gas was $1.686 a gallon in December. The reason for the increase at the pump is because oil prices have been on the rise, going from $65 a barrel as recently as August to $82 last week.

At the same time, natural gas prices also were moving up again and have now climbed 16% in the past two months. Meanwhile, the dollar has fallen to nearly a 14-month low against the euro. Since oil is largely bought and sold in dollars, investors holding stronger currencies can buy more crude for less.

Ford Motor Co. says it made nearly $1 billion in the third quarter, fueled by U.S. market share gains, cost cuts and the government’s Cash for Clunkers rebates, the Associated Press reports.

Israeli Concessions “Unprecedented”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Israel is making “unprecedented” concessions to limit West Bank settlement construction. The U.S. administration had previously demanded Israel halt all settlement building before negotiations could resume. Clinton said: “What the prime minister has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy of settlements … is unprecedented in the context of prior to negotiations.” Clinton’s request would be a major change for the U.S. administration, which previously had demanded Israel halt all settlement building before negotiations could resume. Palestinians see Jewish settlement building as one of the biggest threats to their ability to form a viable state in the territories of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians on Sunday accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of undermining progress toward Mideast peace talks after she praised Israel for offering to curb some Jewish settlement construction.

  • The Obama administration is grasping at straws. Nor do they seem to realize that nothing short of Israel’s complete dissolution will satisfy the Islamists.

Afghanistan

President Hamid Karzai’s challenger withdrew Sunday from next weekend’s runoff election, effectively handing the incumbent a victory but raising doubts about the credibility of the government at a time when the U.S. is seeking an effective partner in the war against the Taliban. Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah said he made his decision after Karzai turned down his demands for changes to the Independent Election Commission and other measures that he said would prevent massive fraud, which marred the first round of balloting on Aug. 20. “I will not participate … (because) a transparent election is not possible,” an emotional Abdullah told his supporters. Abdullah stopped short of calling for an electoral boycott and urged his followers “not to go to the streets, not to demonstrate.” Hamid Karzai has officially been declared president after a runoff election was cancelled following the withdrawal of Karzai’s rival.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber killed 35 people outside a bank near Pakistan‘s capital Monday, as the U.N. said spreading violence has forced it to start pulling out some expatriate staff and suspend long-term development work in areas along the Afghan border. Islamist insurgents have carried out numerous attacks in Pakistan in recent weeks, killing more than 300 people in retaliation for an army offensive in the Pakistani Taliban‘s northwest stronghold of South Waziristan. Several U.N. personnel have been among those killed, and the group’s decision to suspend development work could imperil Western goals of reducing extremism by improving Pakistan’s economy.

Iran

Senior Iranian lawmakers rejected on Saturday a U.N.-backed plan to ship much of the country’s uranium abroad for further enrichment, raising further doubts about the likelihood Tehran will finally approve the deal. The U.N.-brokered plan requires Iran to send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium — around 70 percent of its stockpile — to Russia in one batch by the end of the year, easing concerns the material would be used for a bomb.

  • Why does anyone still believe that it’s possible to negotiate Iran out of its nuclear ambitions? To Islamists, negotiations are a time to wheedle, finagle, obfuscate and lie in order to gain delays or other advantages without ever seriously compromising their position.

Mexico

Mexico set a new high in extraditing criminal suspects to the U.S. on Sunday, reaching a total of 100 so far this year in what the U.S. Embassy called a “record for bilateral cooperation between the two countries.” The milestone underscored the long distance the two countries have come since the 1990s, when Mexico was so loath to send fugitives north of the border that U.S.-paid bounty hunters to kidnap suspects in Mexico and bring them back.

Weather

The fourth typhoon to whip the Philippines in a month lashed the capital and nearby provinces Saturday, leaving fresh floods and new misery before blowing out of the country. Typhoon Mirinae, with winds of 93 miles per hour and gusts of up to 115 mph, slammed into Quezon province northeast of Manila around midnight Friday. Philippine authorities evacuated more than 115,000 people in nine provinces east and south of Manila in the storm’s path on main Luzon island. The tropical storm roared toward Vietnam on Sunday after battering the Philippine capital and surrounding provinces, leaving 20 people dead in a region still soggy from three recent storms.

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