Faith and Family Values the Solution to American Youth’s Woes
In a research presentation for the Family Research Council, Dr. William Jeynes, a Professor at California State University in Long Beach and a Non-resident Scholar at Baylor University, shared the long awaited results of his meta-analyses that summarizes the relationship between faith & family values and academic and behavioral outcomes for youth. There were several of Jeynes’ findings that were most salient. First, personal religious faith among youth had a dramatic relationship with children’s academic outcomes and what are commonly referred to as at-risk behaviors, including consuming various types of illegal drugs and unhealthy amounts of alcohol and becoming involved in a single parent teenage pregnancy. Jeynes noted that, “Faith has a particularly ameliorative impact on academic and behavioral outcomes for children of color and those from single parent family structures. That is, faith plays an important role in helping youth overcome other disadvantages. American society should therefore encourage and not discourage these children from drawing strength from their religious faith.”
Second, youth that come from family structures outside of the two biological parent intact family, on average, face academic, psychological, and behavioral disadvantages across virtually every measure. American society should therefore take more definitive actions to support the two biological parent intact family. Jeynes asserts that, “Faith and family are two of the foremost pillars sustaining the most healthy parts of society. Yet we live in a society that frequently disparages Christians, in particular, and the value and unique nature of the two-parent family. The question we need to ask is whether we are undermining the institutions that are largely responsible for the strength, health, and compassion that made this country great.”
Most Americans Believe in God but Don’t Know Scriptures
Americans are clear on God but foggy on facts about faiths. The new U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that although 86% believe in God or a higher power, they don’t know our own traditions. Among 3,412 adults surveyed, only 2% correctly answered at least 29 of 32 questions on the Bible, major religious figures, beliefs and practices. The average score was 16 correct (50%). Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well. Only 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn’t one of the Ten Commandments; just 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
Court: Stem-Cell Funds can Keep Flowing
An appeals court ruled Tuesday that government funding of embryonic stem cell research can continue for now. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington granted the Obama administration’s request to allow the funding from the National Institutes of Health while the government appeals a judge’s order that blocked the research. The administration had argued that stopping the research while the case proceeds would harm irreparably scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had blocked President Obama’s research funding guidelines because he said it is likely they violate the law against federal funding of embryo destruction. A three-judge panel of the appeals court issued an unusually quick decision, a day after hearing arguments over whether the funding could continue while it considers the case. A 1996 law prohibits the use of federal dollars in work that would harm an embryo, so batches have been culled using private money. Those batches can reproduce in lab dishes indefinitely, and the Obama administration issued rules permitting government dollars to be used in work with the already created batches. The administration thus expanded the number of stem cell lines created with private money that federally funded scientists could research, up from the 21 that President George W. Bush had allowed to 75 so far.
Home Depot Promotes Homosexuality
The Home Depot’s own website shows it embraces the spread of homosexuality, including gay marriage. On its website, The Home Depot states it “is honored to say we support the following diversity-oriented organizations:” It goes on to list at least three groups which radically support the homosexual marriage agenda in America – The Human Rights Campaign, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates and Diversity Best Practices. That’s not all. The Home Depot sanctions its very own homosexual employee group, which receives financial backing by the company, The Home Depot Pride (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) employee group. The Home Depot marches in numerous gay pride parades and sets up Kids Workshops at gay pride festival events each year. The company offers full health insurance benefits to homosexual employees and “partners.” The Home Depot recognizes two homosexual men who sleep together as “married.” It also offers insurance for complete sex-change operations.
‘Mumbai-Style’ Terror Attack in Europe Foiled
A commando-style terror plot that allegedly called for simultaneous attacks in multiple European cities has been disrupted, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Fox News late Tuesday, after the CIA launched a barrage of drone strikes in Pakistan to help thwart the plot. The plan allegedly included attacks on hotels frequented by Western tourists in London, as well as cities in France and Germany, and was in an “advanced but not imminent stage,” Sky News reported. The plotters were purportedly of Pakistani or Algerian origin and have been trained in Pakistan’s tribal areas. While officials are still working to understand the plot, a leading concern is that the plotters were modeling their European assault on the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, in which armed gunmen killed more than 200 people in coordinated attacks at hotels and other easily accessed venues, current and former officials said. Several U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal they haven’t seen a terror threat as serious as the European plot for many years. The CIA had stepped up drone strikes in Pakistan in an effort to help thwart the plot. The more than 20 strikes this month represent a monthly record, according to a tally by the New America Foundation.
Immigration Growing More Complex
Many people in Latin America have requested legal visas to come to the USA, but the wait can be decades, if approval is given at all. Diversity visa programs aimed at increasing the USA’s cultural mix are skewed against Latin America because there are so many of its people already here. All of which provides a powerful inducement to sneak in, critics of the U.S. immigration system say. U.S. visa laws have changed and become so much more complex since the days of Ellis Island that it is simply impossible for many hardworking people around the world to legally immigrate to the USA, they say. Immigration-control advocates say the system is doing its job and the true problem is that the USA cannot afford to take in more people.
Until the 1920s, immigrating to the USA was relatively easy. America needed people to populate its Western frontier and work in its factories. In 1921, Congress passed the first law setting numerical limits for visas based on countries of origin. As the USA moved toward a service-oriented economy in the 1960s, immigration officials became more selective about the kinds of workers the nation wanted. These days, U.S. immigrant visas are limited mostly to the educated, the affluent or people who have spouses or parents in the USA, said Gustavo Garcia, an immigration lawyer in Mexico City. If the ancestors of most Americans had tried to immigrate to the USA under today’s rules, their American Dream would have ended before it began, Garcia said
- Just because someone wants to emigrate to the USA doesn’t mean they have a right to do so – and when they come illegally they are indeed felons.
States Send BP Their Oil-Spill Bills
Alabama Attorney General Troy King sued BP in federal court for the damage he says the Gulf oil spill inflicted on his state’s environment and economy. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is hoping to negotiate with BP to compensate his state for its lost tax revenue and damaged coastline. He hasn’t sued yet — but says he wouldn’t hesitate to do so if the oil company fails to pay up. While the strategies differ, every state bordering the Gulf of Mexico is calculating the damage caused by an estimated 5 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf and the chemicals used to clean it up, and preparing to present BP with a bill. All of the states say they can back up their claims with a lawsuit if BP won’t pay. The energy company, which owns the well and has assumed responsibility for the cleanup, has pledged $20 billion for oil spill victims, including governments.
Poverty at Historic Levels, Income Gap Widest Ever
The nation’s financial crisis is altering Americans’ way of life from the home and the workplace to the highway and the altar, according to 2009 Census data released Tuesday. Median household income — the level where half make more and half make less — fell 2.9% from $51,726 in 2008 to $50,221 last year, the second consecutive annual drop, according to the American Community Survey. The share of people who haven’t changed homes in the previous year climbed from 83.2% in 2006 to 84.6% in 2009. For the first time since the government began tracking the data, the share of women 18 and older who are married fell below 50%. The share of adults ages 25 to 34 who have never married has jumped from 34.5% in 2000 to 46.3% in 2009. the proportion of workers who worked from home jumped from 3.9% in 2006 to 4.3% last year while the percentage of homes with more than one car dropped.
The income of American households fell only slightly last year despite the severe recession because of income gains among the elderly, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. But the number of people in poverty reached its highest level in 51 years. The poverty rate rose to 14.3%, up from 13.2% in 2008. A total of 43.6 million people lived in poverty last year, up from 39.8 million in 2008 — the third consecutive annual increase. The federal stimulus law appears to have boosted income more than expected by, for example, providing extended unemployment benefits and a $250 bonus for Social Security recipients. Census Bureau division chief David Johnson says unemployment benefits kept 3.3 million people out of poverty in 2009. Social Security kept 14 million seniors above the poverty level, he says.
The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record as young adults and children in particular struggled to stay afloat in the recession. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations. At the top, the wealthiest 5% of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, Census data show. The top-earning 20% of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4% of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4% earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released Census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.
More renters found housing unaffordable last year as incomes fell while costs increased, a one-two punch that squeezed lower-income households in particular. The share of renters spending 30% or more of their household income on housing costs — the threshold set by the government to determine if housing is unaffordable — rose to 51.5% from about 50% in 2008, according to 2009 Census data released Tuesday.
Americans‘ view of the economy turned grimmer in September as job worries grew. The Consumer Confidence Index fell to the lowest point since February. The downbeat report, released Tuesday, raises more fears about the tenuous U.S. economic recovery. The Conference Board, based in New York, said its monthly Consumer Confidence Index stands at 48.5, down from the revised 53.2 in August. The consumer confidence reading marked the lowest point since February’s 46.4. It takes a reading of 90 to indicate a healthy economy.
In another report Tuesday, the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of big U.S. companies, said CEOs aren’t as optimistic about sales growth now as they were in June, suggesting some plans to hire may be on hold. The survey says two-thirds of chief executives surveyed in September expected sales to grow, vs. 79%in June. And only 31% of CEOs expect to boost payrolls the next six months, vs. 39% in June.
The government says it is starting to sell off $2.2 billion in trust preferred shares it holds in Citigroup, another move to recoup the costs incurred in the $700 billion financial bailout. The Treasury Department says it will start the sales Wednesday with the amount sold to be determined by market conditions. The $2.2 billion in trust preferred shares were received by the government as part of Treasury’s agreement in January 2009 to share potential losses on a pool of $301 billion of assets held by Citigroup.
Anti-Austerity Protests Sweep Across Europe
Anti-austerity protests erupted across Europe on Wednesday — Greek doctors and railway employees walked out, Spanish workers shut down trains and buses, and one man even blocked the Irish parliament with a cement truck to decry the country’s enormous bank bailouts. Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Brussels, hoping to swell into a 100,000-strong march on European Union institutions later in the day and reinforce the impact of Spain‘s first nationwide strike in eight years. All the actions sought to protest the budget-slashing, tax-hiking, pension-cutting austerity plans of European governments seeking to control their debt. Unions fear that workers will become the biggest victims of an economic crisis set off by bankers and traders, many of whom were rescued by massive government intervention. In an ironic twist, the march in Brussels comes just as the EU Commission is proposing to punish member states that have run up deficits to fund social programs in a time of high unemployment across the continent.
China repeated promises of exchange rate flexibility Wednesday but offered no new measures that might avert a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on currency legislation. The statement in a central bank report on a quarterly economic meeting gave no details of possible changes in Chinese policy Democratic Party leaders say the House will take up a bill this week that would give the U.S. government power to impose sanctions on China or other countries found to be manipulating their currencies to gain trade advantages. Supporters say the bill would protect U.S. jobs against unfair trade competition at a time of high unemployment. Beijing promised a more flexible exchange rate in June when it broke a link between its yuan and the dollar. But the yuan has risen only about 2% since then, fueling demands by U.S. lawmakers for action.
Washington’s special envoy to the Mideast is in Israel Wednesday to try and get the stalled peace process back on track and press for a halt to new settlement construction on land the Palestinians want for a future state. Israel’s own foreign minister highlighted the stiff opposition Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces within his own governing coalition to making concessions to the Palestinians. At the United Nations on Tuesday, Avigdor Lieberman spoke of a decades-long interim agreement with the Palestinians instead of the near-term statehood they demand. In a rare move, Netanyahu distanced himself from his own foreign minister’s comments. The flap complicated a diplomatic landscape already burdened by Israel’s refusal to renew a 10-month moratorium on housing starts in the West Bank, which expired Sunday.
Nigerian police say kidnappers have seized a school bus full of children in the country’s southeast. Abia state has seen a sharp increase in kidnappings for ransom over recent months. The state has been beset by lawlessness as kidnappers in the West African nation increasingly target the country’s burgeoning middle class in an oil-rich country of 150 million people where most live on less than $1 a day.
A hillside collapsed on hundreds of sleeping residents Tuesday in a rural Mexican community drenched for days by two major storms, killing at least seven and leaving at least 100 missing, disaster officials said. An eighth person was killed in another mudslide in the state of Oaxaca. While only 100 are confirmed missing, Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz told the Televisa television network 500 to 1,000 people could be buried. At least 100 homes were buried, and residents who made it out have had no success in digging out their neighbors.
A tropical depression that quickly developed in the Caribbean headed over Cuba early Wednesday threatened to strengthen into a tropical storm as it headed toward southeastern Florida. Maximum sustained winds were 35 mph, but the depression was forecast to strengthen some and become a tropical storm. It was expected to be near or over southeastern Florida by Wednesday evening. Heavy rain is expected.
Southern California’s famed moderate, Mediterranean-style climate felt more like the Sahara on Monday as temperatures hit 113 degrees downtown, breaking records and sending residents to the beaches. Los Angeles opened cooling centers, and the city’s Department of Water and Power advised customers to conserve electricity. While the heat was unusually severe, warm weather is common in the fall in Southern California. Wind patterns shift and bring dry desert air, known as Santa Ana winds, into coastal regions, not only making things uncomfortably warm but producing tinder-box conditions that make autumn the season for wildfires.