Obama Endorses Muslim Mosque Near Ground Zero

President Obama tonight endorsed building an Islamic community center and mosque a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, saying that “Muslims have the right to practice their religion” just like anyone else. “That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” Obama said at an Iftar dinner at the White House honoring the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. “This is America.” Obama said he understands the emotions aroused by the issue, including the objections of 9/11 victims’ families who want the Islamic center to be built elsewhere in the city. But he said that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center do not represent Islam, but are killers distorting a great religion. Obama’s statements echoed those of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others who have described the proposed Islamic center as a test of religious tolerance. Others said that Ground Zero is hallowed ground, and that mosque organizers should also practice tolerance and move further away. “Barack Obama has abandoned America at the place where America’s heart was broken nine years ago, and where her true values were on display for all to see,” said Debra Burlingame, a spokeswoman for some Sept. 11 victims’ families and the sister of one of the pilots killed in the attacks.

  • The new definition of “tolerance” is accepting and promoting all things non-Christian while discounting and discriminating against all things Christian

Ethics Inquiries in Congress Increasing

The number of ethics cases launched in Congress has jumped dramatically in the past year, putting a focus on allegations of misconduct by lawmakers heading into November’s elections. In the first six months of this year, an independent congressional watchdog began 44 ethics investigations, up from 24 during the same period in 2009. The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended that the House ethics committee take action against 13 lawmakers. The congressional ethics office can investigate lawmakers, but the power to take disciplinary action rests with the House ethics committee. Despite the specter of public ethics trials for veteran Democratic Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California, lawmakers have escaped serious punishment.

Many Socialists Sit in Congress

The Democratic Socialists of America boasted in a newsletter to insiders that 70 of its members currently serve in Congress, but an independent survey by WND suggests the number of actual avowed or semi-secret socialists in the House and Senate is considerably higher – at least 82. The DSA is a political action committee and bills itself as the heir to the defunct Socialist Party of America. It’s chief organizing objective is to work within the Democratic Party as the primary, but not sole, method of achieving public ownership of private property and the means of production. “Stress our Democratic Party strategy and electoral work,” explains an internal organizing document obtained by WND. “The Democratic Party is something the public understands, and association with it takes the edge off. Stressing our Democratic Party work will establish some distance from the radical subculture and help integrate you to the milieu of the young liberals.”

  • Unfortunately, their strategy is working as the Democratic party has turned far to the left in recent years

Illegal Immigrants Flocking to 3 States to Obtain Identification

Three states – Washington, New Mexico and Utah – allow illegal immigrants to get licenses because their laws do not require proof of citizenship or legal residency. An Associated Press analysis found that those states have seen a surge in immigrants seeking IDs in recent months, a trend experts attribute to crackdowns on illegal immigration in Arizona and elsewhere. An American driver’s license is a requirement for many jobs. The immigration debate has thrown a spotlight on the license programs, which supporters say make financial sense because unlicensed drivers typically do not carry car insurance. Opponents insist the laws attract illegal immigrants and criminals. The AP analysis of data in the three states revealed some striking numbers: The rate of licenses issued to immigrants during the 10 weeks that followed approval of Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 reflected a 60 percent increase over the annual average for last year.

More Medicaid Patients Going to ER

Increasing numbers of Americans, especially adults on Medicaid, are using hospital emergency rooms for their health care. Using data from 1997 through 2007, the researchers found that ERs are increasingly serving as “safety nets” in American health care, because by law they must treat all patients regardless of insurance or their ability to pay, the researchers say. “In 1999 adults with Medicaid visited the emergency department at a rate 3.5 times higher than the rate of adults with private insurance, and in 2007 adults with Medicaid visited the emergency department at a rate five times that of adults with private insurance,” lead researcher Dr. Ning Tang said. visits among people receiving Medicaid went from about 694 visits per 1,000 people to about 947 visits per 1,000 people, while visits by adults with private insurance, no insurance or Medicare remained stable Many of these visits by Medicaid patients were for conditions that could have been managed in a primary care clinic, Tang noted. There could soon be a problem with demand and supply: At the same time that ER visits mushroomed, the number of emergency departments fell by 5%, the researchers noted. Because of increased volume, median wait time for treatment increased from 22 to 33 minutes during the study period.

  • This trend will only get worse with the addition of Obamacare to the equation. We’re already seeing primary care physicians refuse Medicare patients due to cuts in their allowed fees.

Primary Care Doctors in Short Supply

A primary-care physician shortage in the United States is fundamentally changing the way many of us get much of our health care. Nurses with advanced degrees, physician assistants and clinics are taking a more prominent role in primary care, seeing many cases once handled by the family doctor. As 32 million more Americans gain health insurance by 2014 under federal health-care reform, these non-physician health providers will play an ever expanding role, experts say. Economics are driving the trend. Doctors are paid more for specialty procedures than routine care, prompting many new doctors to pursue specialties such as orthopedics or dermatology that promise better hours and higher pay. The gap is being filled by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who complete fewer years of education and receive lower pay than doctors do. In Arizona, recent action by the Legislature may compound the family-doctor shortage. Lawmakers slashed funding to train student doctors at hospitals, prompting many of them to serve their residencies – and establish roots – elsewhere. A St. Luke’s Health Initiatives’ report in December 2009 found that Arizona had 88 primary-care doctors for every 100,000 residents, far below the national average of 105.

Hundreds of Soldiers with PTSD Incorrectly Dismissed

At the height of the Iraq war, the Army routinely fired hundreds of soldiers for having a personality disorder when they were more likely suffering from the traumatic stresses of war, discharge data suggest. Under pressure from Congress and the public, the Army later acknowledged the problem and drastically cut the number of soldiers given the designation. But advocates for veterans say an unknown number of troops still unfairly bear the stigma of a personality disorder, making them ineligible for military health care and other benefits. Unlike PTSD, which the Army regards as a treatable mental disability caused by the acute stresses of war, the military designation of a personality disorder can have devastating consequences for soldiers. Defined as a “deeply ingrained maladaptive pattern of behavior,” a personality disorder is considered a “pre-existing condition” that relieves the military of its duty to pay for the person’s health care or combat-related disability pay. According to figures provided by the Army, the service discharged about a 1,000 soldiers a year from 2005 to 2007 for having a personality disorder.

Economic News

Stocks extended their losing streak to four days Friday after a mixed batch of readings on consumers further muddled investors’ sense of the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average now lost almost 400 (about 4%) over four days.

State Controller John Chiang said Tuesday that without a state budget, California‘s government would be unable to pay its bills in late August (or maybe early September). That means issuing IOUs to some people and businesses again. Possible dates for IOUs could be either Aug. 27 or Aug. 31, when big payments to schools are due, according to a schedule posted on the controller’s website.

China is on track to become the world’s second-largest economy behind the USA this year, cementing its status as one of the world’s superpowers and ending Japan’s 40-year reign in the No. 2 spot. In 2009, Japan’s economic output totaled $5.09 trillion on a nominal basis, before inflation adjustments, compared with China’s $4.91 trillion and the USA’s $14.26 trillion. Given Japan’s slow economic growth compared with China’s double-digit gains, it’s inevitable that when the final numbers come out, China is going to overtake Japan this year.

Israel

Jewish leaders are warning that the discovery of large natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel could trigger another war with terrorist-run Lebanon, which covets the energy source from Israel. The terrorist group Hezbollah has already blared warnings that it will launch rocket attacks against the Jewish state if Israel moves forward with plans to develop the huge natural gas resource. The Israelis have already begun work on two fields discovered last year that are due to start producing in 2012. The area of exploration does not extend into Lebanese waters. A U.S. energy company that is helping develop the fields predicts Israel will not only have enough natural gas to supply its own needs for the next two decades, but it will also have enough gas to supply Europe and Asia from a third field known as “Leviathan.”

Afghanistan

Gen. David Petraeus will not say whether U.S. troops will begin to pull out of Afghanistan next summer as President Obama pledged last year, saying any drawdown will be conditions based.  Speaking during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Petraeus said Obama asked him for his “best military advice,” and his job is not to be political about war. Petraeus’ comments come as U.S. support for the 9-year war is slipping and the death toll is climbing. July was the deadliest month for U.S. forces, when 66 troops were killed. Petraeus and other military officials have warned of more combat casualties as additional U.S. troops are sent to the fight. Last fall, Obama authorized 100,000 troops in Afghanistan — triple the level from 2008. Obama’s Democratic supporters have reluctantly swung behind the plan, but lawmakers are beginning to question whether Afghanistan can be won. Petraeus conceded the U.S. mission in the war-weary South Asian nation is tough, and will remain so.

Pakistan

Suspected U.S. missiles killed 12 people Saturday in a Pakistani tribal region filled with Islamist insurgents bent on pushing Western troops out of neighboring Afghanistan. The airstrike in Issori village of North Waziristan was the first such attack since intense floods hit Pakistan in late July. The U.S. has tried to improve its public image in Pakistan by sending flood aid, but the missile strike showed Washington was not willing to stop using a tactic that has fed its unpopularity here. At least two of those killed in the house hit by missiles were suspected militants As Pakistan struggles to recover from the worst flooding in its history, the U.S. has donated more than $70 million in aid and sent helicopters and Marines to help in the relief work. The scale of the disaster has raised concerns it could destabilize the country, which is pivotal to U.S. hopes of defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Elsewhere in the country, gunmen targeted non-ethnic Baluchis traveling on a bus and painting a house in two attacks in southwestern Baluchistan province Saturday, killing 16 people and wounding eight. The Baluchistan attacks are sure to add to ethnic tensions there, where a nationalist movement led by armed ethnic Baluch groups has long sought greater provincial autonomy from the central government. They may have been inspired by Pakistan’s marking Saturday of its creation and independence from Britain in 1947.

Iraq

Gunmen robbed four commercial ships anchored near the southern oil hub of Basra in a rare attack off the Iraqi coast, the U.S. Navy said Sunday, taking computers, cellphones and money from crewmembers before fleeing the vessels. The seaborne robbery occurred about 20 miles off the port of Umm Qasr in an area that is patrolled jointly by the U.S. Navy and Iraqi sailors. The attack at sea reflects concerns about an increase in crime in Iraq even as political violence ebbs,. Violence has dropped sharply in Iraq, but Iraqi security forces and civilians continue to face daily attacks. Iraqi police reported at least 12 people killed and 30 wounded in violence on Sunday. Gunmen killed three leaders of a government-backed Sunni militia that fights al-Qaeda in Iraq and wounded a fourth in a drive-by shooting as the men were leaving a mosque in the town of Jurf al-Sakhr south of Baghdad after their morning prayers. Bombs killed two other members of the so-called Awakening Councils in separate attacks in the capital and to the west. Three more Iraqis were killed and 13 wounded in attacks also targeting police and soldiers elsewhere in the country

Wildfires

Russian firefighters have succeeded in pushing back wildfires while an advancing cold front is expected to finally put an end to a two-month heat wave, officials said Monday. There were 500 blazes still burning, but the amount of land on fire was down 15% in the last 24 hours. The area covered by fires around Moscow has nearly halved in size over the past two days, The heat wave — unprecedented in 130 years of record keeping — has sparked thousands of fires, most of them in western Russia. More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

Weather

Angry flood survivors in Pakistan blocked a highway to protest slow delivery of aid and heavy rain lashed makeshift housing Monday as a forecast of more flooding increased the urgency of the massive international relief effort. Pakistan’s worst floods in recorded history began more than two weeks ago in the mountainous northwest and have spread throughout the country. Some 20 million people and 62,000 square miles of land — about one-fifth of the country — have been affected. More than 895,200 houses have been damaged. The global aid response to the Pakistan floods has so far been much less generous than to other recent natural disasters — despite the soaring numbers of people affected and the prospect of more economic ruin in a country key to the fight against Islamist extremists. Reasons include the relatively low death toll of 1,500, the slow onset of the flooding compared with more immediate and dramatic earthquakes or tsunamis, and a global “donor fatigue” — or at least a Pakistan fatigue.

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