Angry Electorate Roars at Washington

If Tuesday’s primaries were any indication, incumbents and establishment-backed candidates in November should be shaking in their boots. In Kentucky, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who was backed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Dick Cheney, was soundly defeated by Tea Party favorite Rand Paul. In Pennsylvania, five-term Sen. Arlen Specter, who ditched the Republican Party last year to save his career, ended up being sent into retirement anyway by Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary. And in Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln was forced into a runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter after she failed to win the majority of votes in the Democratic primary. Taken together, the results of Tuesday’s races sent a clear message to Washington that the anti-incumbent wave that has gripped the nation over the past year isn’t losing steam. Tuesday’s results come in a month when Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia fell in a primary to an opponent who highlighted ethics issues and Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah was denied a spot on the ballot at a Utah Republican convention.

Arizona Voters Approve Prop 100

Arizona voters Tuesday gave a resounding thumbs-up to a temporary sales-tax increase, handing Gov. Jan Brewer a victory in her yearlong crusade to raise money for a strapped state budget. Proposition 100 was passing by more than a 3-2 ratio late Tuesday, according to preliminary returns. The measure increases the state sales tax by 1 cent per dollar, to 6.6 cents. It will take effect in two weeks. The tax will bring sales-tax levies for purchases made in Phoenix to 9.3 cents on the dollar. The statewide sales tax is not a silver bullet for the state’s budget woes. Cuts that have led to the elimination of all-day kindergarten, reductions in health care for low-income Arizonans, a freeze on the KidsCare program and the closure of several state parks and highway rest stops will not be reversed.

Illegals Costing Arizona Billions

Arizona’s illegal immigrant population is costing the state’s taxpayers even more than once thought — a whopping $2.7 billion in 2009, according to researchers at the public interest group that helped write the state’s new immigration law. Researchers at FAIR – The Federation for American Immigration Reform — released data exclusively to FoxNews.com that show a steady cost climb in multiple areas, including incarceration, education and health, in the last five years. Overall, it says, the loss of immigrants either from the deterrent effect of the law, voluntary exodus or from mass deportations, will help the state financially. Also, the savings to the state will far overwhelm any fallout from boycotts (estimated at between $7 million and $52 million) being threatened in the wake of the law’s passage.

Key Critics of Arizona Immigration Law Admit Not Reading It

President Barack Obama and his administration began blasting Arizona’s controversial immigration law the day Gov. Jan Brewer signed it. But over the past week, a growing list of top administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, acknowledged that they haven’t read the legislation. The revelations come as Republicans step up their criticism of the Obama administration’s response to the Arizona law, which makes it a state crime to be in the United States without proper documentation and directs local police to pursue, during a lawful stop, detention or arrest, the immigration status of people they reasonably suspect to be illegal immigrants. The law has generated calls for economic boycotts of Arizona and has led to five lawsuits, many filed by civil-rights groups.

Kyl, McCain Plead with Obama: Send Troops to Border

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have called on President Barack Obama to send 6,000 National Guardsmen to the Arizona-Mexico border, according to rollcall.com. The lawmakers argued that troops are needed because violence from the Mexican drug war has “crossed the border and escalated to a point where many Arizonans do not feel safe within their own homes or on their own property. They feel that they live in a lawless area of the country and have been abandoned by the federal government, which has a duty to protect its citizens by securing the nation’s borders.” “We again urge you to deploy at least 6,000 National Guardsmen to protect our southern border, with 3,000 of these troops focused on the Arizona/Mexico border,” McCain and Kyl added.

Constitution Takes Hit from Supreme Court

The fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution possibly have been shoved one step closer to irrelevance by the U.S. Supreme Court, which yesterday cited a U.N. child’s rights treaty that has not been adopted in the U.S. as support for its opinion. The issue is raising alarms for those who have been fighting the trend toward adopting “international” standards for American jurisprudence rather than relying on a strict application of the Constitution. “It is bad enough for the Supreme Court to engage in judicial activism,” said Michael Farris, of the Home School Legal Defense Association. “It is far worse when the justices employ international law in support of their far-reaching edicts. Roger Kiska, legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund who is based in Europe, said the Supreme Court’s use of an unadopted precedent “completely overlooks the checks and balances system that is established by the U.S. Constitution.”

  • The New World Order appears to now have control of our Supreme Court

U.S. Missionary Convicted but Freed in Haiti

The last of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake was freed Monday when a judge convicted her but sentenced her to time already served in jail. Laura Silsby, the organizer of the ill-fated effort to take the children to an orphanage being set up in the neighboring Dominican Republic, returned to her cell briefly to retrieve belongings before quickly heading to the Port-au-Prince airport. “I’m praising God,” Silsby told The Associated Press as she waited for a flight out of Haiti. She declined to answer further questions. The Idaho businesswoman had been in custody since Jan. 29. She was originally charged with kidnapping and criminal association, but those charges were dropped for her and the nine other Americans who were previously released. Silsby she was convicted of arranging illegal travel under a 1980 statute restricting movement out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.

BP Response Plan Shows Lack of Readiness

An emergency response plan prepared by BP shows the British energy giant never anticipated an oil spill as large as the one seeping through the Gulf of Mexico. The 582-page document, titled “Regional Oil Spill Response Plan — Gulf of Mexico,” was approved in July by the federal Minerals Management Service (MMS). It offers technical details on how to use chemical dispersants and provides instructions on what to say to the news media, but it does not mention how to react if a deep-water well spews oil uncontrollably. Most of the techniques recently attempted by BP to contain the spewing well — from a 100-ton containment device that didn’t work to a mile-long tube aimed at piping out the spewing oil — are not mentioned in the plan.

The federal official who oversees offshore drilling announced his departure Monday in a fallout from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and criticism that federal regulators have been too cozy with industry. President Obama, meanwhile, has decided to have a presidential commission investigate the cause of the rig explosion that unleashed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, where engineers are still struggling after three weeks to stop the flow.

Poll: More Americans Say U.S. Morality Getting Worse

The Christian Post reports that three-quarters of Americans believe that the country’s moral values are slipping. A new Gallup Poll of more than 1,000 American adults found that 76 percent believe America’s moral values are getting worse. That number is up five percent since last year. According to the Christian Post, opinions about moral values in the country tend to stay relatively stable between years. People were most likely to cite declining moral standards, disrespect of others, parents not instilling values in children or governmental and corporate dishonesty as reasons for this.

Food Giants Pledge to Cut 1.5 Trillion Calories

Several of the nation’s largest food companies say they’ll take 1.5 trillion calories out of their products by 2015 in an effort to reduce childhood obesity. The companies made the announcement through the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of retailers, food and beverage makers and industry trade associations. The industry foundation said the companies will introduce lower-calorie foods, change product recipes and reduce portion sizes to achieve the goal, seeking to reduce 1 trillion of the 1.5 trillion by 2012. To keep the companies accountable, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a non-partisan philanthropic and research organization that works to improve the nation’s health, will evaluate how the groups’ efforts with products affect the number of calories consumed by children and adolescents.

World’s Oceans Could Be ‘Fished Out’ in 40 Years

U.N. experts warn that the world’s oceans could be out of fish in 40 years unless fishing fleets are slashed and stocks allowed to replenish. A Green Economy report finds that mismanagement, lack of enforcement and subsidies totaling over $27 billion annually have left close to 30%of fish stocks classed as “collapsed,” that is, yielding less than 10% per cent of their former potential.

Increased Payroll Taxes Needed for Social Security

Social Security faces a $5.3 trillion shortfall over the next 75 years, but a congressional report says the massive gap could be erased with only modest changes to payroll taxes and benefits. Some of the options are politically dangerous, such as increasing payroll taxes or reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients. Others, such as gradually raising the age when retirees qualify for full benefits, wouldn’t be felt for years but would affect millions. Currently, 53 million Americans get Social Security benefits averaging $1,067 a month. In 75 years, 122 million, or one-fourth of the population, will be drawing benefits. For the first time since the 1980s, Social Security will pay out more money in benefits this year than it collects in payroll taxes. The longer action is delayed, the harder it will get to address the program’s finances.

US Debt Nearing 100 Percent of GDP

The United States’ national debt will soon reach 100 percent of gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund predicts in a new report. The sharp rise in U.S. debt started in 2006 and by 2015, the IMF suggests, debt could reach more than 100 percent of GDP, an extremely dangerous level. At the end of first quarter of 2010, the gross debt was 87.3 percent of GDP. The IMF predicts that the U.S. would need to reduce its structural deficit by the equivalent of 12 percent of GDP, a much larger portion than any other country analyzed except Japan. Greece, in the midst of a financial crisis, needs to reduce its structural deficit by just 9 percent of GDP, according to the IMF’s analysis.

Economic News

Construction of new homes rose more than expected and prices at the wholesale level fell in April, but new building permits fell sharply, signaling that the building industry’s rebound could be short-lived. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction of new homes and apartments rose 5.8% last month, the highest since October 2008. However, building permits, a gauge of future activity, sank 11.5%. In another report, the Labor Department said wholesale prices edged down 0.1% last month, the second decline in the past three months.

The consumer price index declined in April for the first time in 13 months while core inflation rose over the past year at the slowest pace in 44 years. The Labor Department said Wednesday that its consumer price index edged down 0.1% last month, reflecting a big fall in energy prices. Over the past 12 months, core inflation is up just 0.9%.

New credit card and overdraft restrictions will save U.S. consumers from being charged at least $5 billion in fees this year alone at the largest U.S. retail banks and credit card companies, a USA TODAY analysis reveals. The analysis — based on institutions’ own estimates — comes during a year when new rules are kicking in to address unfair credit card rate increases and steep bank overdraft fees. In recent years, banks made it easier for consumers to overdraw their bank accounts and raised credit card fees and rates. As consumer outcry swelled in the recession, Congress passed a credit card law and the Federal Reserve issued a regulation to crack down on banks’ aggressive overdraft policies on debit cards.

Amid the new limits on some of the industry’s most profitable practices, banks are turning back to familiar money-making strategies: annual credit card fees, monthly checking account fees and product bundling. The developments are part of a new era of consumer banking, analysts say, one with more fees — but also, more safety nets and disclosures for consumers.

Toyota cut a $16.4 million check today to the U.S. government to pay off its fine for having such a slow response to its sticky gas pedal debacle. The fine is the largest civil penalty ever assessed against an auto manufacturer by the government. Toyota’s fine was the maximum allowed under law after it was accused of hiding earlier defects involving gas pedals. It follows the recall of more than 8 million vehicles worldwide.

“Old Chrysler” — the one that went bankrupt after receiving billions in loans from taxpayers — has repaid the U.S. Treasury $1.9 billion of the $4 billion that went to the automaker’s financing arm. But taxpayers will be on the hook for the remaining $2.1 billion. The Treasury said, “This repayment, while less than face value, is significantly more than the Treasury expected to recover on this loan.” The federal government still owns 9.9% of the “new” Chrysler, a partnership with Fiat, and that the automaker still owes the government $7.1 billion.

Pfizer says it will cut 6,000 jobs as it trims manufacturing capacity worldwide after acquiring smaller rival Wyeth last year. The world’s biggest drugmaker says it will shut eight plants in Ireland, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. by the end of 2015, and reduce operations at six other plants over the next several years. Wal-Mart and Home Depot both reported increased profits in the first quarter of 2009.

Iraq

Iraqi security forces have detained an al-Qaeda militant suspected of planning an attack targeting the World Cup in South Africa next month. Abdullah Azam Saleh al-Qahtani was an officer in the Saudi army. He is suspected of planning a “terrorist act” in South Africa during the World Cup beginning June 11. Authorities say al-Qahtani entered Iraq in 2004 and is suspected in several attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Iran

Iran said Tuesday it expects the U.S. and its allies to accept a nuclear fuel swap deal despite initial skepticism, as key U.N. Security Council member China welcomed the proposal as a way of reviving negotiations over Tehran‘s nuclear activities. The U.S. and some of the other world powers involved in the standoff said a deal reached outside mediation by Turkey and Brazil on Monday failed to ease their concerns that Iran is ultimately intending to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran is offering to trade much of its enriched uranium for fuel rods needed for a medical research reactor in Tehran. It is similar to a U.N.-drafted deal proposed in October that would have deprived Iran at least temporarily of the material it would need to produce a nuclear warhead.

Afghanistan

Insurgents launched a brazen pre-dawn assault Wednesday against the giant U.S.-run Bagram Air Field, killing an American contractor and wounding nine service members in the second Taliban strike at NATO forces in and around the capital in as many days. At least 10 insurgents were killed as Taliban suicide bombers attempted to breach the defenses of the base north of Kabul, while others fired rockets and grenades inside. No insurgents managed to get into the base and none were able to detonate their suicide vests.

A Taliban suicide car bomber struck a NATO convoy in the Afghan capital Tuesday, killing six troops, five of them American, officials said. Twelve Afghan civilians also died many of them on a public bus in rush-hour traffic. The powerful blast occurred on a major Kabul thoroughfare that runs by the ruins of a one-time royal palace and government ministries. It wrecked nearly 20 vehicles, including five SUVs in the NATO convoy, and scattered debris and body parts across the wide boulevard. The attack is the deadliest for NATO troops in the capital since September comes despite a ramped up effort by Afghan authorities to intercept would-be attackers and better secure a capital city that saw a spate of brazen attacks this winter.

Pakistan

A suicide bomber on a bicycle killed 11 people Tuesday when he attacked a police patrol in an area of northwestern Pakistan where many citizens fled last year to escape a large army offensive against the Taliban. The attack, which killed three police officers and eight civilians, occurred as the patrol vehicle traveled through the town of Dera Ismail Khan. The victims included a senior police officer in the area as well as his guard and driver. The civilians who were killed included two schoolchildren. Another 15 people were wounded. Hundreds of thousands of people fled to Dera Ismail Khan in mid-October when the army launched a big ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban’s main stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal area.

Thailand

Downtown Bangkok turned into a flaming battleground Wednesday as an army assault toppled the Red Shirt protest leadership, enraging followers who fired grenades and set numerous fires that cloaked the skyline in a black haze. Using live ammunition, troops dispersed thousands of anti-government protesters who had been camped in the capital’s premier shopping and residential district for weeks. Four protesters and an Italian news photographer were killed in the ensuing gun battles and about 60 wounded. After Red Shirt leaders gave themselves up to police, rioters set fires at the Stock Exchange, several banks, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the high-end Central World shopping mall and a cinema complex that collapsed. The Thai government rejected holding immediate peace talks with Red Shirt protest leaders, saying negotiations cannot start until protesters in Bangkok disperse. Tuesday’s televised comments came after Red Shirt protest leaders said they would accept a proposal from the Senate leader to mediate talks between the two sides to end deadly violence in the Thai capital that has killed 37 people in the past five days.

Korea

South Korea’s foreign minister said Wednesday it was “obvious” that North Korea sank one of the South’s warships in March, killing 46 sailors. Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told reporters that investigators have enough evidence of North Korean involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan to take Pyongyang to the U.N. Security Council. Yu’s comments are the first by a South Korean official clearly pointing the finger at North Korea for one of the worst attacks on the South since the two Koreas signed a truce in 1953 to end three years of fighting. Investigators will lay out evidence showing that a North Korean torpedo attack triggered the explosion that sank the Cheonan near the Koreas’ tense western sea border.

Morocco

The government of Morocco has notified another 23 mostly Christian foreigners, including one American, that they’re scheduled for imminent expulsion from the North African country. And an analyst says that those targeted by the deportation order indicate the government of Morocco, which historically has been considered a moderate Muslim nation, now is fearful that Muslims will convert if exposed to Christianity. This is the second large deportation action taken by the Moroccan government against mostly Christian individuals in the past two months. More than 40 Christian workers were deported from Morocco in March.

Earthquakes

An estimated 5.1-magnitude earthquake near the California-Mexico border has shaken a wide area of Southern California including San Diego. The U.S. Geological Survey’s automated seismic reporting system said the quake struck at 5:38 p.m. PT Tuesday and was centered 18 miles west-southwest of El Centro in the state’s southeastern corner. The area has been shaking with aftershocks since a 7.2 quake that struck northern Baja California on April 4. The quake was strongly felt but there have been no immediate reports of damage.

Weather

Two separate sources of temperature data – the National Climatic Data Center and NASA – report that, through April, 2010 is the warmest year since recordkeeping began in 1880. The climate center (NCDC) reports that the Earth’s combined land and ocean average surface temperature from January-April was 56 degrees, which is 1.24 degrees above the 20th-century average. El Nino — a periodic natural warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean — is at least partly to blame for the unusual warmth.

A hail storm that moved in from northwestern Oklahoma pounded the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, leaving broken windows and other damage in its wake. The storm Sunday afternoon brought hail as large as softballs and driving rain, forcing motorists off roads in an effort to avoid shattered windshields and other damage. The storm produced so much hail, it looked like a snowstorm had hit. Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman Lara O’Leary says paramedics took 21 patients to local hospitals as a result of the storm. At least 34 tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma last week, including two in central Oklahoma that had wind speeds of between 166 mph and 200 mph..

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