March on D.C. Plans to Rock Washington

Hundreds of thousands of Americans already have marched on Washington, D.C., and millions have been energized by the nationwide tea-party movement, but from Sept. 9-12, the patriotic protesters will gather again in the nation’s capital to pick up the tools they say are needed to “take back America.” More than just another rally, the 2010 March on D.C. is a four-day long series of events, combining the efforts of more than 50 grassroots organizations and targeted at training and equipping tea partiers to make a difference in the 2010 elections and beyond. “This will be probably be the most important election in any of our lives,” declares Stephani Scruggs, national co-chair of The 9.12 Project and president of Unite In Action, which have spearheaded organization of the event. “But November doesn’t fix everything. We need to teach people how to protect their local areas, states and regions from sharia law, government land grabs, rogue school boards and any attempts to erode American freedom. Best of all, the Liberty XPO (Xhibit of Patriot Organizations) and Syposium, which includes the training seminars and presentations, will be free.

Washington Passes Secret Energy Tax

Socialism Alerts reports that the climate bill debate has already been decided by Washington and voters didn’t even have a chance to say “NO!” A staggering $65 billion dollars has been transferred from the private sector to fund the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI.) RGGI is government created entity that is choking companies in the northeast with huge tax increases in the name of the environment. Our tax dollars are funding this secret climate initiative. Soon RGGI will expand to every state and stick you with astronomical energy prices. RGGI is the nation’s first mandatory greenhouse gas cap and trade regulating entity. This waste of tax dollars is responsible for “making an impact on climate change” in 10 Northeast states. The only impact RGGI has made so far is they have raised energy prices and created a slush fund for each member state. What exactly that money is being used for is unclear. Each state is capped on their carbon emissions and taxed if they use them up. RGGI added a 0.9% increase in energy prices in New England.

Petraeus: Church’s Plan to Burn Quran Risks Troops’ Lives

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warned Tuesday an American church’s threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book could endanger U.S. troops in the country and Americans worldwide. The comments from Gen. David Petraeus followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center — a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy — to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghan war. “Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” Petraeus said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. Muslims consider the Quran to be the word of God and insist it be treated with the utmost respect, along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect to the Quran is deeply offensive.

  • While correct in its assessment of the Quran and Islam, this type of provocative action serves more to put Christianity in a negative light than to change anyone’s opinion about Islam.

New Armored Trucks cut IED Deaths

The U.S. military’s new armored trucks in Afghanistan are significantly reducing troop deaths in roadside attacks at a time when insurgent bombings are at record levels, according to statistics provided to USA TODAY. Deaths of U.S. and allied troops fell from 76 in July 2009 to 57 in July of this year, according to the military command in Afghanistan. Nearly 80% of roadside bomb attacks on Humvees from January 2009 through the end of July 2010 killed occupants. That figure dropped to 15% for attacks on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and an all-terrain MRAP model tailor-made for Afghanistan’s rugged terrain. The military estimates that MRAPs have reduced deaths and injuries by 30% over that time. That amounts to dozens of lives saved each month. More than $40 billion will have been spent by the end of September to build, ship and maintain MRAPs.

Al-Qaeda Relying on Bank Heists for Funding

Al-Qaeda militants in Iraq are turning to bank robberies and other thefts to make up for a drop in cash from outsiders who have bankrolled the insurgent attacks for years, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. The decrease in outside money is part of a general weakening of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, the U.S. military said. “They turned to criminal activity within Iraq for funding,” said Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Lanza, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi raids targeting al-Qaeda leaders have damaged the terrorist group’s hierarchy. Increased border security has made it hard for foreign fighters to enter Iraq, making it hard for militants to raise funds from traditional sources. In the past, al-Qaeda, which seeks to establish Islamist theocracies worldwide, quickly replaced leaders taken out by Iraqi and U.S. forces, but have been unable to do so quickly this time. Some suggest that al-Qaeda in Iraq is transforming from a jihadist movement into a crime syndicate. “Ideology is going down, and criminal intent is going up,” said Army Maj. Gen. Tony Cucola, who commands U.S. forces in northern Iraq.

Teens’ ‘Unhealthy’ Sex Exposure Blamed on TV, Music, Web

The nation’s leading group of pediatricians has issued a strong policy statement directed toward doctors, parents and the media on the danger of messages American teens and children are getting about sex from television, the Internet and other media outlets. The statement, “Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media,” was published in the September print issue of the journal Pediatrics. Seventy percent of teen shows contain sexual content, Strasburger added, “and less than 10% of that content involves what anyone would classify as being responsible content. There’s no mention of contracting an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or the need to wait to have sex until later.” The United States leads the western world in teen pregnancy rates and American teens have an alarmingly high rate of STDs — one in four children. Meanwhile, U.S. children spend seven hours and more a day with various types of often-sexually explicit media, including music, movies, television shows, magazines and the Internet. “The research shows us that the portrayal of sex in the media is really unrealistic. It’s unhealthy. It doesn’t consider the consequences of sexual behavior,” said Alan Delamater, professor and director of child psychology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

  • The media has long been under the control of the liberal left whose very goal was to undermine Christian morals and the sanctity of marriage. They have succeeded.

Prescription Drug Spending Doubles

Spending on prescription drugs in the United States totaled more than $234.1 billion in 2008, more than double the amount spent in 1999. Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%, says a federal government study. Use of two or more drugs increased from 25% to 31%, and the use of five or more drugs increased from 6% to 11%, according to the analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study also found that 20% of children and 90% of adults aged 60 and older reported using at least one prescription drug in the past month. People with a regular place for health care were 2.7 times more likely to have used prescription drugs in the past month than those without a consistent place for health care, and people with health insurance were nearly twice as likely to have used at least one prescription drug than those without insurance. The most commonly used types of drugs include: cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, for older people; asthma medicines for children; antidepressants for middle-aged adults; and central nervous stimulants for adolescents.

Obama Proposes $50B for Roads, Rails, Runways

President Obama proposed a $50 billion plan Monday to fix roads, rail lines and airport runways, part of an effort to deal with high unemployment less than two months before pivotal congressional elections. The announcement came less than a week after the U.S. Labor Department reported a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, now at 9.6% “This will not only create jobs immediately, it’s also going to make our economy hum over the long haul,” Obama said in outlining the plan to union members at a Labor Day rally in Milwaukee. The White House is planning several jobs initiatives leading into the Nov. 2 elections. On Wednesday in Cleveland, Obama is scheduled to propose a $100 billion extension of tax credits for business owners who invest in research and development.

Economic News

European Union nations agreed to create new financial oversight institutions Tuesday, hoping to prevent a repeat of the government debt crisis that nearly left Greece bankrupt and brought the European banking system to its knees. The union’s 27 finance ministers failed to find common ground, however, on the introduction of a levy on banks or on a new tax on financial trading. The ministers — called Ecofin — decided to establish a new supervisory board over the financial industry and demand a more transparent sharing of government budgetary information — a move prompted by Greece’s dubious accounting practices.

Strikes hobbled public transit across France and in London on Tuesday, with tourists and commuters bearing the brunt of a wave of discontent over government austerity measures. French unions challenged unpopular President Nicolas Sarkozy with a major nationwide strike over plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, cutting service on trains, planes, buses and subways. Post offices and schools also shut down. Across the English Channel, millions struggled to get to work and tourists hurriedly revamped their travel plans as a strike by London Underground workers closed much of the city’s subway system. It was the first of several such 24-hour strikes planned for this fall.

The worst summer on record for young people who wanted a job staggered to an end Labor Day weekend. Only 47.6% of people ages 16 to 24 had jobs in August, the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948. By comparison, 62.8% of that age group was employed in August 2000. The unemployment rate averaged a record 18.3% during June, July and August for those under 25. That’s more than twice the jobless rate for people 25 and older.

In the first month of Arizona’s penny-per-dollar sales-tax hike, consumers did not significantly alter their spending overall, indicating the increase likely did not dampen a crucial piece of the economy. Voters on May 18 approved the three-year increase in the state sales tax to avert sharp cuts in education and other services. The new tax rate, from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent, was expected to bring in about $918 million in the first year. The data, which measure taxable retail sales in the state, do indicate that Arizonans likely shopped for cars before the tax hike kicked in and then backed off in June. But spending in most other areas largely was unchanged in June.

Within the next few weeks, property owners in Yavapai County, AZ will be receiving their 2010 property tax bills. And, for the first time in years, if ever, many will see a reduction in their assessed valuation — a reflection of the state’s declining real estate market. According to the Yavapai County Assessor’s Office, assessed valuations on real property fell an average of 11 percent across the county between 2009 and 2010. On average home values will drop another 18 percent in 2011.

Middle East

Just days after Middle East peace talks began in Washington, the first major crisis already is looming: Israel hinted Sunday it will ease restrictions on building in West Bank settlements, while the Palestinian president warned again that he’ll quit the talks if Israel resumes construction. Israel’s 10-month-old slowdown on new building in settlements expires Sept. 26, leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a tough choice. If he extends the freeze, he risks breaking up his hard-line coalition. If he lifts the restrictions, he risks getting blamed for derailing negotiations and disrupting President Barack Obama’s fledgling Mideast peace efforts. Under intense U.S. pressure, Israel imposed restrictions on most West Bank settlement construction last November in a bid to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiations. Palestinians view a continued curb on settlement construction – even if it falls short of a complete freeze – as the true test of Netanyahu’s intentions.

Mexico

The U.S. government punished Mexico on Friday for human rights abuses in its war against drug cartels, cutting $26 million from an upcoming $175 million aid payment and demanding that Mexican soldiers be tried in civilian courts. The decision comes amid a growing record of killings and torture by Mexico’s military, which has taken a leading role in Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s efforts against drug cartels. At least 21,000 people have died in drug-related violence since the crackdown began in December 2006. Complaints of abuse by Mexican soldiers are soaring as the fighting continues, from 206 in 2006 to 1,833 in 2009. The number of “grave violations” by soldiers confirmed by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission – usually involving death, torture or rape – went from zero in 2006 to 30 in 2009. The Obama administration wants Mexico to try soldiers accused of abuses in civilian courts, strengthen its laws against human rights violations and establish ways to give citizens’ groups a greater say in the anti-drug strategies.

Iran

At least five Iranian companies in Afghanistan’s capital are using their offices covertly to finance Taliban militants in provinces near Kabul, according to a Sunday Times investigation. Afghan intelligence and Taliban sources have told the newspaper that the firms, set up in the past six months, provide cash for a network of district Taliban treasurers to pay battlefield expenses and bonuses for killing the enemy and destroying their vehicles. The Iranian companies win contracts to supply materials and logistics to Afghans involved in reconstruction. Profits are transferred through poorly regulated Afghan banks — including Kabul Bank, which is partly owned by President Hamid Karzai’s brother Mahmood — to Tehran and Dubai. The money flows to Afghanistan through the informal Islamic banking system known as hawala to be dispersed to the Taliban.

Afghanistan

Nervous Afghans pulled more deposits out of the nation’s largest bank on Saturday, despite assurances from government leaders that their money was safe. Crowds gathered at Kabul Bank branches around the capital to withdraw dollar and Afghan currency savings, with customers saying they had lost faith in the bank’s solvency following a change in leadership and reports that tens of millions of dollars had been lent to political elites for risky real estate investments. The bank run that began earlier in the week undermines efforts by the central government to build an efficient political and financial system to drag Afghanistan out of its dire poverty. Problems at the bank could also have wide-ranging political repercussions since it handles the pay for Afghan public servants, soldiers and police in the unstable nation beset by a Taliban insurgency, widespread drug trafficking and the plundering of aid money.

Pakistan

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated a car in an alley behind a police station in a strategically important town in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing at least 17 police and civilians in an explosion that shattered the station and neighboring homes. About 40 people were wounded in the attack. A Pakistani army offensive pushed many militants out of South Waziristan in October. The militants still control much of North Waziristan, where U.S. drone aircraft have been conducting a campaign of targeted killings. Police official Liaquat Ali said 45 police were in the building when the bomber struck. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying they targeted the police for encouraging residents to set up militias to fight the militants — known locally as lashkars. The group pledged to carry out additional attacks unless the militias disbanded.

Iraq

Suicide bombers struck a Baghdad military headquarters on Sunday and killed 12 people, two weeks after an attack at the same site pointed to the failure of Iraqi forces to plug even the most obvious holes in their security. U.S. troops at the military compound to train Iraqi forces helped repel the attack, marking the first time American forces have been involved in an exchange of gunfire in Baghdad since the U.S. officially ended combat operations in Iraq less than a week ago. In the brazen midday assault, suicide bombers set off a car bomb and managed to fight their way inside the building before being killed. On Aug. 17, an al-Qaeda-linked suicide bomber blew himself up at the same east Baghdad military headquarters and killed 61 army recruits in the deadliest act of violence in Baghdad in months.

Volcanoes

An Indonesian volcano shot a towering cloud of black ash high into the air Tuesday, dusting villages 15 miles away in its most powerful eruption since awakening last week from four centuries of dormancy. Some witnesses at the foot of Mount Sinabung reported seeing an orange glow — presumably magma — in cracks along the volcano’s slopes for the first time. Vast swaths of trees and plants were caked with a thick layer of ash. The eruption of Mount Sinabung— which caught many scientists off guard — forced more than 30,000 people living along its fertile slopes to evacuate to cramped emergency shelters in nearby towns. Wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from the smoky air, many have complained about the steadily deteriorating conditions, from poor sanitation and short food supplies to having to sleep on hard, cold floors. Thousands of people started returning to the mountainside earlier this week so they could clean up their soot-covered homes and salvage what they could from their vegetable farms and rice paddies, but then were chased away again Friday.

Favorable weather conditions across the USA this year have produced the least active wildfire season in a decade, particularly in the fire-prone West, data from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise show. Abundant spring rains in the Northwest continued throughout the summer, along with cooler temperatures and moist conditions on the West Coast and very wet weather in the South. The total acreage burned across the USA — 2.6 million acres in 2010 — has been less than half the annual average of 5.8 million acres.

Earthquakes

The powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake that smashed buildings, cracked roads and twisted rail lines around the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Saturday also ripped a new 11-foot wide fault line in the earth’s surface, officials said Sunday. At least 500 buildings, including 90 downtown properties, have been designated as destroyed in the quake that struck at 4:35 a.m. near the South Island city of 400,000 people. But most other buildings sustained only minor damage. Power was cut across the region, roads were blocked by debris, and gas and water supplies were disrupted. Only two serious injuries were reported from the quake as chimneys and walls of older buildings were reduced to rubble and crumbled to the ground. The prime minister said it was a miracle no one was killed.

For the second time in less than a week, six small earthquakes have been recorded in a single day in central Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Geological Survey said the six earthquakes on Saturday ranged from preliminary magnitudes of 1.5 to 3.3. Last Wednesday in the same area about 30 miles from Oklahoma City, geologists also recorded six earthquakes that ranged from a preliminary 1.8 magnitude to 3.1. Another quake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.7 was recorded Friday about 10 miles east of the Saturday temblors. No injuries or damage was reported from any of the earthquakes.

Wildfires

A wind-whipped wildfire sent flames roaring through a rugged canyon in the Colorado foothills, forcing hundreds of people to flee and destroying dozens of homes — some that belonged to the firefighters themselves, authorities said early Tuesday. The blaze broke out Monday morning in Four Mile Canyon northwest of Boulder and rapidly spread across 5 1/2 square miles or 3,500 acres. Erratic 45-mph gusts sometimes sent the fire in two directions at once. Crews managed to save the historic town of Gold Hill, including an old West grocery store and structures once used for stagecoach stops. But firefighters in the area had to relocate their engines and equipment several times to avoid the flames. Despite the fire’s destructive advance, no injuries have been reported, although some residents told of narrow escapes.

Weather

Tropical Storm Hermine rolled into south Texas early Tuesday, bringing heavy rains and strong winds to an area battered by Hurricane Alex earlier this summer. Hermine made landfall in northeastern Mexico late Monday and crossed into Texas within hours, with swirling winds up to 65 mph. It threatened to dump up to 12 inches of rain in some areas and cause flash flooding. Mexican emergency officials in Tamaulipas worked to evacuate 3,500 people around Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas, and schools on both sides of the border canceled classes Tuesday. Neighborhoods lost power while Hermine’s center moved over Brownsville, said Joseph Tomaselli, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Parts of the Rio Grande Valley still drying out from Hurricane Alex braced for as much as eight inches of more rain.

Torrential rains from a tropical depression saturated the ground in parts of Guatemala and unleashed more than a dozen landslides over the weekend, killing at least 45 people and leaving many more unaccounted for. Firefighters confirmed at least 20 dead in the village of Nahuala, where twin slides hit a section of the Inter-American highway. About 50 more were believed buried under tons of rubble. Continuing bad weather forced authorities to suspend rescue efforts Sunday afternoon for fear of a third deadly landslide.

Following record flooding in Pakistan weeks ago, more than 3 million people have yet to receive desperately needed food aid, according to the U.N., and the Pakistani government says nearly 1 million people have received no help of any sort. The lack of aid has led to anger against an already-fragile government that is seen as a key U.S. ally in the battle against Islamic extremists along the frontier with Afghanistan. The anger itself is hampering relief efforts, with the Red Cross twice halting distributions after being confronted by mobs of people upset they were not getting enough aid,. Part of the problem is simply the scale of the crisis. The floods that began their slow wave of destruction across Pakistan at the end of July swamped as much as one-fifth of the country, leaving 8 million people dependent on aid, according to the U.N. And that number keeps growing as more areas are affected. The floodwaters that already devastated one season of crops in the fields are threatening the next season’s crop as well, an aftershock aid workers fear could add to Pakistan‘s misery and prolong the crisis.

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