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.

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