Dems Balk at Obama’s Deployment Plan

President Obama’s long-awaited decision on the course ahead in Afghanistan provoked a topsy-turvy world on Capitol Hill. Republicans who oppose Obama on almost everything else praised his decision, sometimes grudgingly, to deploy 30,000 additional U.S. troops. Democrats who are usually his most reliable allies expressed criticism, sometimes heatedly, over his failure to detail when the U.S. mission would end. That leaves Obama in a perilous political situation, facing a potential mutiny on this issue among liberal interest groups such as MoveOn that helped elect him and Democratic legislators on whom he is counting to pass a health care bill in the next few weeks.

Addressing cadets at West Point, Obama tried to thread a needle. He reiterated his view that battling al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan is critical to U.S. security, but he sought to reassure Americans the war won’t go on forever. Obama took on some of the specific criticisms he faces — denying the parallels to the Vietnam War made by Democrats and rejecting criticism from some Republicans that setting a timetable to begin withdrawal was unwise. Obama said he will accelerate the new deployment so the additional forces will be in Afghanistan by next summer — at that point, he will have tripled the U.S. forces there when George W. Bush left office — and pledged to begin withdrawing them by July 2011.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday he’s “absolutely supportive” of the 18-month timeline for President Obama’s troop surge even though Taliban forces may try to wait out the increased U.S. commitment. He said the U.S. and its partners need to convince the Taliban they cannot win.  Obama did get support from some unfamiliar quarters. Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a former Democratic vice presidential nominee who backed Republican John McCain in last year’s presidential election, said he was encouraged by Obama’s decision and suggested he had learned from President George W. Bush’s experience. “It’s the strategy that worked in Iraq,” Lieberman said of increased troop levels.

Cost of Afghan War Soars with New Strategy

President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to AfghanistanIraq war, according to Pentagon budget estimates. It will cause the cost of the two wars since 2001 to top $1 trillion within the next few months, according to the Congressional Research Service. It’s likely to require another supplemental spending bill next year, lawmakers say — something Obama wanted to avoid. That will reignite the debate over whether the cost of the wars should be paid for with tax increases or spending cuts, rather than added to the $1.4 trillion deficit. “You can no longer deficit-finance everything,” says Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. means more red ink for a nation reeling from a $12 trillion debt: It will make the war in Afghanistan far more costly next year than the

  • Deficit-financing is going to destroy our country

White House Disrespects 31,000 Scientists

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today brushed aside the concerns of more than 31,000 scientists who have signed a petition challenging the theory of man-made global warming. At Monday’s White House press conference, WorldNetDaily White House corrrespondent Les Kinsolving asked, “Are you aware of a list, the published list of 31,000 scientists who oppose this idea of global warming?”  “I don’t doubt that there’s such a list, Lester. I think there’s no real scientific basis for the dispute of this,” Gibbs answered. Hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in the United Kingdom appear to document that many of the scientists promoting man-made global warming – dubbed “warmists” by critics – have manipulated, concealed or doctored information to support their cause.

  • The global elitists know better than anyone else how to run the world and don’t need facts to form their opinions

UK Climate Scientist to Step Down

The chief of a prestigious British research center caught in a storm of controversy over claims that he and others suppressed data about climate change has stepped down pending an investigation, the University of East Anglia said Tuesday. The university said in a statement that Phil Jones, whose e-mails were among the thousands of pieces of correspondence leaked to the Internet late last month, would relinquish his position as director of Climatic Research Unit until the completion of an independent review. The university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Trevor Davies, said the investigation would cover data security, whether the university responded properly to Freedom of Information requests “and any other relevant issues.” Jones has been accused by skeptics of man-made climate change of manipulating data to support his research. In particular, many have pointed to a leaked e-mail in which Jones writes that he had used a “trick” to “hide the decline” in a chart detailing recent global temperatures.

  • Some scientists are worthy of disrespect when they falsify data

D.C. Council Votes to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

The D.C. City Council on Tuesday took the first of two votes it needs to pass a bill that will allow same-sex marriage in the city, voting to accept the bill 11 to 2. A second, final vote is expected later in the month, and D.C.’s mayor has promised to sign the bill. The bill had been expected to pass, as 10 of the 13 council members co-sponsored it. Marriages would begin in the city as soon as the bill passes a period of Congressional review, but it is unlikely Congress will alter the law. Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont and Connecticut already allow same-sex marriage. New Hampshire will join them Jan. 1.

World Aids Day, Dec. 1st

United Nations health officials estimate about 4 million people who need AIDS drugs worldwide are now getting them, a 10-fold jump in five years, according to a report issued Wednesday. Overall, about 44% of people with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa who need AIDS drugs are now taking them.  The figure represents a major increase in rolling out the drugs to patients across Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is focused, but an estimated 5 million or more across the globe are still waiting for the drugs. Last year, the global community spent nearly $9 billion on AIDS. For every dollar spent on public health, AIDS gets about 23 cents. It causes about 4% of deaths globally.

South Africa will treat all HIV-positive babies and expand testing, its president announced Tuesday, a dramatic and eagerly awaited shift in a country that has more people living with HIV than any other. President Jacob Zuma‘s speech on World AIDS Day was viewed as a definitive turning point for a nation where the previous administration distrusted drugs developed to keep AIDS patients alive and instead promoted garlic treatments. One Harvard study said that resulted in more than 300,000 premature deaths. In response to a plea from Zuma, the United States announced it was giving South Africa $120 million over the next two years for AIDS treatment drugs.

Four-Week Decline in Flu-Like Cases

Federal health officials reported Monday that cases of flu-like illness in the USA have declined for four weeks in a row, though hospitalization rates remain high, especially for children younger than 4. The steady decline in the USA and elsewhere prompted the World Health Organization to propose Friday that swine flu may have peaked in North America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe, though the “winter influenza season continues to be intense.” U.S. officials challenged WHO’s hopeful assessment, saying it is too soon to declare that swine flu is tapering off. Deaths of children continue to mount, the CDC reported, with a record 27 during the week ending Nov. 21. That’s the highest one-week total since swine flu, also known as H1N1, was identified in April. Doctors have reported about 200 pediatric swine flu deaths to the CDC, which says many more deaths probably have gone unreported.

  • Federal and U.N. officials continue to hype swine flu in their ongoing quest to establish globalism

Invasive Carp Threatens Great Lakes

Fish and wildlife officials will poison a 6-mile stretch of water near ChicagoGreat Lakes. The Asian carp, a voracious eater that has no predators and negligible worth as a commercial or sport fish, now dominates the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and their tributaries. The fish has entered the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal — a man-made link between the Mississippi River system and the Great Lakes — and is knocking on the door of Lake Michigan. Once inside a Great Lake, the carp would have free rein in the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem, imperiling the native fish of the lakes and a $7 billion fishing and recreation industry. on Wednesday in a last-ditch effort to keep one of the most dangerous invasive species of fish, the Asian carp, out of the

Many Minorities Shun Banks

More than one in four American households, including more than half of black households, use check cashers, payday lenders or pawnbrokers rather than a bank, according to a Federal Deposit Insurance CorporationFDIC report. The problem is most acute among minorities: 53% of African-American households and 43% of Hispanic households use check cashers or similar services instead of or in addition to banks. Those using check cashers and other services say they are faster, cheaper and more convenient than banks — even though they pay a fee to cash a check they could deposit in a bank account for free. The FDIC wants banks to win back those customers, saying consumers should have the benefit of insured savings and be able to build a credit history. report. Nearly 30 million households have no bank account or have one but also use alternate financial services at least occasionally, according to the

Economic News

Online sales were up 14% above Cyber Monday 2008, says the website sales tracking firm Coremetrics, which represents 500 major retailers. More online retailers have been adding special one-day promotions on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

The manufacturing sector grew for the fourth straight month in November, though at a slower pace, and questions remain about the staying power of the incipient economic recovery. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity decelerated to 53.6 in November from 55.7 in October. Readings above 50 indicate expansion in the manufacturing sector.

November’s U.S. auto sales pulled even with November 2008, and several auto executives said they’re cautiously optimistic that things will start to improve in 2010. Total industry sales were 746,928 in November, up slightly from 746,789 a year ago. Fuel-efficient cars and crossovers were the strongest vehicles. Ford and General Motors plan 2010 first-quarter production boosts on expectations that sales are recovering. Ford’s production will be up 58% and GM‘s up 75% vs. the first quarter of 2009.

India’s economy grew at its fastest rate in 18 months in the quarter through September, smashing expectations and adding pressure to bring forward a rate rise and cut stimulus spending as inflation mounts. Asia’s third-largest economy grew 7.9% in the past quarter from a year earlier. India’s expansion was driven by government spending, manufacturing, service and better-than-forecast farming output.

Suspect in Philippine Massacre Charged

Eight days after the Philippines’ worst political massacre, prosecutors on Tuesday charged the heir of a powerful clan who they say directed the slaughter of 57 people, more than half of them journalists. Three witnesses, who escaped because their car was at the tail end of the election convoy that was ambushed in a southern province Nov. 23, said they saw Andal Ampatuan Jr. and about 100 gunmen, including police officers, stopping the cars, prosecutor Al Calica told The Associated Press. Hours later, troops found the bullet-riddled and hacked-up bodies near the highway sprawled in the grass and hastily buried with a backhoe in three mass graves. The massacre was a bloody prelude to elections scheduled for May. Campaign violence is relatively common in the Philippines — 130 died in the run-up to the last elections — but the brazen convoy attack was shocking for its ruthlessness and scale.

New Honduran Leader Calls Election Clean

Porfirio Lobo, a conservative from the National Party who won Honduras‘ presidential election, called the race “the cleanest in the history of the country” and asked nations to recognize his government despite the controversy sparked by the ouster of his predecessor. His rival, Elvin Santos, conceded defeat in Sunday’s presidential contest. Although a member of the same Liberal Party as ousted president Manuel Zelaya, Santos said it is time for “unity, the only path to confront the future and ensure the victory of all Hondurans.” Zelaya was forced out of the county June 28 by the military after the Honduran Supreme Court ruled unanimously that he tried to extend his rule illegally. Zelaya sneaked back into the country in September and has been hiding in the Brazilian Embassy. The Honduran Congress, the courts, the attorney general and much of Zelaya’s own party endorsed his ouster, but many leaders condemned it, including President Obama.

Pirates Capture Oil Tanker Headed to U.S.

A U.S.-bound supertanker carrying $20 million in crude oil was heading toward the Somali coast Monday after being hijacked by pirates. The Greek-flagged ship — traveling from Saudi Arabia to New Orleans — had no escort when it was hijacked Sunday because naval warships are stretched thin and the pirates have expanded their operations to hundreds of miles out at sea. Crews on oil tankers aren’t allowed to smoke above deck, much less carry guns, for fear of igniting the ship’s payload. That’s one of the main reasons Somali pirates met little resistance when they hijacked the ship. The hijacking, one year after the seizure of a Saudi supertanker led to heightened international efforts to fight piracy off the Horn of Africa, has highlighted the difficulty of keeping ships safe in the region — particularly oil tankers.

Weather

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season ended Monday without a hurricane landing on U.S. shores and with the fewest named storms in 12 years, according to the National Hurricane Center. There were nine named tropical storms since June, when the season began. Three became hurricanes and two tropical storms made landfall. The reason: El Niño, the cyclical warming of equatorial waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which tends to inhibit the development of tropical systems in the Atlantic.

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