Christianity’s Contributions Mostly Negative, Americans Say
When asked about Christianity’s recent contributions to society, Americans cited more negatives than benefits, according to a new survey. Religion News Service reports that the negative contribution cited most was hatred or violence in the name of Jesus, according to the Barna Group survey. Other frequently cited examples included opposition to gay marriage and the Roman Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. The positive contribution mentioned most was Christians’ helping the poor, as well as evangelism and influencing the country’s values. “Overall, there was a more extensive and diverse list of complaints about Christians and their churches than there was of examples of the benefits they have provided to society,” said the Barna Group, a Christian firm that researches U.S. faith and culture, in a report released Monday (Oct. 25). Researchers found that one in four respondents could not name a single positive contribution made by Christians in recent years to American society.
- Despite Jesus’ admonition that love is the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30), this is not what most people are seeing from Christians first and foremost
Obama and DOMA – High Crimes and Misdemeanors?
Federal agencies are implementing President Obama’s executive order to provide more healthcare benefits to same-gender partners of government employees, but one conservative attorney thinks he’s in direct violation of federal law and is again overstepping his boundaries. In the opinion of Liberty Counsel‘s Matt Barber, Obama’s order to change the 1997 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include a 24-hour “leave without pay” benefit to domestic partners represents another abuse of power. “He has, via unconstitutional executive fiat, unilaterally and arbitrarily disregarded the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, which states that the federal government only recognizes legitimate marriage as between one man and one woman,” Barber contends. “After November 2, it’s my hope that some gutsy legislators in Congress will begin to look at this and other legally dubious actions by this president to determine if we may have high crimes and misdemeanors here on the part of this despotic man,” the Liberty Counsel attorney adds.
Obama Most ‘Gay’-Friendly President in History
Less than halfway through his first term, President Barack Obama has appointed more openly homosexual officials than any other president in history. Homosexual activists say the estimate of more than 150 appointments so far — from agency heads and commission members to policy officials and senior staffers — surpasses the previous high of about 140 reached during two full terms under President Bill Clinton. Family advocate Janice Crouse says the preponderance of homosexual appointments by Barack Obama reflects his intentions to push through a radical agenda. “As we have heard for years, personnel is policy,” she offers, “and the appointees that he has made have really had dramatic impact. She believes the high number of homosexual appointments is in part because President Obama has not been able to effectively push through his agenda.
Gutted Arizona Immigration Law Unused
The nation’s toughest immigration law has been in effect for three months. But after the federal courts prevented key portions from going into effect, it has failed to live up to both opponents’ worst fears and supporters’ greatest hopes. Immigrant-rights groups and major Arizona law-enforcement agencies say they’ve heard of no arrests made or citations issued using the statutes created under Senate Bill 1070, and no Arizona resident has taken advantage of the portion of the law that allows them to sue an official or agency that is not enforcing federal immigration law to the fullest extent. The law that went into effect on July 29 is a shadow of its original self. The day before, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton halted four key provisions from going into effect, including the portion of the law that requires a police officer to verify a person’s status when there is reasonable suspicion that the subject is an undocumented immigrant. Gov. Jan Brewer is appealing Bolton’s ruling, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from both sides Monday in San Francisco.
Illegal Immigration Down
A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that the population of illegal immigrants has dropped from a high of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million as of March 2009. At the same time, the number of illegal immigrants sneaking into the U.S. has dropped dramatically – only 150,000 illegals per year entered the country in the past two years, a significant decline from the 500,000 annual border jumpers between 2000 and 2005. Stricter enforcement and a depressed job market are thought to be the primary factors in the decline. Meanwhile, the number of legal immigrants has remained steady at about 600,000 per year. Pew estimates that 60% of the 11.1 million illegals are from Mexico, 20% from other Latin America countries, 11% from Asia, 5% from Europe and Canada, and 4% from Africa and other countries.
Hispanic Attitudes about Illegal Immigration Changing
Hispanics are growing more divided about how they view illegal immigration, and native-born Hispanics aren’t as convinced of the contributions of illegal immigrants as they used to be, according to a study released Thursday. Hispanics are split when asked to assess the effect of illegal immigration on Hispanics living in the United States: 29% say it has had a positive impact, 31% negative and 30% believe it made no difference, according to the study by the non-partisan Pew Hispanic Center. That is a sharp decline from a 2007 survey, when 50% of Hispanics said illegal immigrants were having a positive impact. The study found 53% of Hispanics believe illegal immigrants should pay a small fine but not be deported; 28% say illegal immigrants should not face any punishment.
‘Anchor Babies’ Birthright Citizenship Questioned
The issue of ‘Anchor Babies,’ illegal aliens children who automatically become citizens when born in the U.S., has become a hot topic as their numbers soar. Sixty percent of Americans now oppose such ‘birthright citizenship.’ Many lawmakers are calling for a revision to the 14th Amendment which grants such automatic citizenship. Each year, 300,000-400,000 anchor babies are born in the U.S. Total anchor babies now number 4 million, up 42% since 2000. Only 30 of the world’s 194 nations confer automatic birthright citizenship. No European country grants such rights.
Halliburton Admits to Skipping Critical test before BP Blowout
Tests performed before the deadly blowout of BP’s oil well in the Gulf of Mexico should have raised doubts about the cement used to seal the well, but the company and its cementing contractor used it anyway, U.S. investigators with the president’s oil spill commission said Thursday. It is the first finding from the commission looking into the causes of the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. And it appears to conflict with previous statements by Halliburton which had said its tests showed the cement mix was stable. The company had said BP’s well design and operations are responsible for the disaster. Now, however, Halliburton came back and acknowledged that it skipped doing a critical test on the final formulation of cement used to seal the BP oil well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico.
More Troops’ Concussions Diagnosed under New Rules
Military doctors are diagnosing hundreds of concussions among combat troops because of an unprecedented order requiring them to leave the battlefield for 24 hours after being exposed to a blast. Doctors say the order helps prevent permanent brain damage that can result if a servicemember has a second concussion before the first one heals. Concussions among U.S. troops in Afghanistan increased from 62 diagnosed cases in June to 370 in July when the new rules were imposed, according to the U.S. Central Command, which oversees combat there. From July through September, more than 1,000 soldiers, Marines and other U.S. servicemembers were identified with concussions, more than twice the number diagnosed during the previous four months. Under the new policy, troops caught within 165 feet of a blast (about half the length of a football field) must be pulled from the battlefield for at least 24 hours and examined for evidence of a concussion. The same goes for troops in a vehicle or building struck by a bomb.
Fewer May Get flu Shots this Year
Only a year after the swine flu pandemic led Americans to line up for flu shots, many people are now spurning vaccines, two studies suggest. Only 37% of people plan to definitely get vaccinated this year, a Consumer Reports survey shows. About 30% say they definitely won’t get a shot, while 31% of respondents are undecided, the survey of 1,500 says. In another survey of 1,300 adults by retailer CVS, 59% of respondents say they were “likely” to get a flu shot this year. Among people who say they’ll skip the flu shot this year, 44% told Consumer Reports they’re concerned about side effects, 41% said they’re concerned about safety and 45% said fear about last year’s pandemic was overblown, the survey says. Many doctors say they’re concerned that vaccine ‘myths’ are scaring people away from shots that could potentially save their lives — as well as the lives of their most vulnerable neighbors, such as people with cancer, the elderly and healthy newborns too young to be vaccinated. About 270,000 people were hospitalized for the flu last year and 12,470 died, according to the CDC. About 1,280 of those who died were children.
Total Campaign Spending to Hit $4 Billion
The daily advertising barrage in highly competitive House and Senate races around the country underscores the record amounts of campaign money pouring into this year’s midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retain their hold on Congress and the outcome of President Obama‘s legislative priorities. Total spending — by candidates, political parties and special interests — has topped $3.2 billion and is likely to hit $4 billion when reports detailing last-minute donations and spending are tallied, according to a study released Wednesday by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. That would obliterate the record $2.85 billion spent in 2006, the last midterm elections. So far, Democratic and Republican candidates and their respective party committees have raised equivalent amounts: about $1.4 billion on each side, the center’s data show.
The economy grew at a slightly faster pace in the third quarter as Americans spent more freely, but growth remains too weak to reduce unemployment. The Commerce Department said Friday that the economy expanded at a 2% annual rate in the July-September quarter. It marked an improvement from the feeble 1.7% growth in the April-June quarter. But to have any impact on the 9.6% unemployment rate, the economy would need to rack up growth of 5% for a full year.
Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the second drop in a row and a hopeful sign the job market could be improving. The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for jobless benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 434,000 in the week that ended Oct. 23. It was the second-lowest number for claims this year. Claims will need to keep falling to signal a widespread increase in hiring
Wells Fargo says that it is refiling foreclosure documents in about 55,000 cases to fix mistakes it calls technical, but that it will not impose a moratorium. The bank added that as of Sept. 30 it had “successfully completed” 556,868 mortgage modifications and forgiven $3.5 billion of principal. It also said it has refinanced approximately 1.9 million mortgage loans.
While the bloated federal bureaucracy continued to expand during the recession, states, cities and schools are trimming their payrolls in a cost-cutting effort that has dramatically improved the financial condition of state and local governments. In the past year, state and local employment has been reduced, mostly through not filling vacancies, by 258,000, or 1.3%, to 19.2 million workers, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, 35 states reduced government payrolls in the past year while 15 states increased employment. In California, 80% of every government dollar spent pays for public employees salaries and benefits.
Suspected American missiles hit a house in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border Thursday, killing seven alleged militants — the latest strike in a ramped up campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the rugged tribal region, intelligence officials said. The drone strike in North Waziristan was the third attack there in the past 24 hours. The region is home to hundreds of Pakistan and foreign Islamist militants, many belonging to or allied with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is also the base of a powerful insurgent group that U.S. officials say is behind many of the attacks just across the border in Afghanistan.
Doctors in a northern Indian state are struggling to identify a disease that has killed more than 50 people over the past two weeks. The suspected virus affects mostly children and older people, who suffer from a high fever, vomiting and headaches before succumbing. “We are not able to identify the virus that is causing the deaths. It could be a mutant form of dengue or malaria, but we are not sure,” said S.P. Ram, the state’s top medical official. In the state capital, Lucknow, about 340 people have been sickened. Health authorities blamed unhygienic conditions for the spread of the disease. Heaps of garbage, open drains filled with fetid water and clogged sewers mark the entrance to Khadra, home to around 250,000 people.
North Korea fired two rounds toward South Korea at their tense border Friday and South Korean troops immediately fired back, highlighting the security problems faced by Seoul as it prepares to host Barack Obama and other world leaders at the Group of 20 economic summit next month. The exchange of fire at the heavily militarized border began when North Korean troops fired at a South Korean guard post in the Demilitarized Zone. There were no South Korean injuries and it was unclear whether it was an accident or an intentional provocation. The firing of the 14.5-mm rounds came hours after North Korea criticized the South for rejecting a proposal to hold military talks and vowed to retaliate. Shooting incidents are infrequent at the border. The last such incident was in 2007.
Armed men rumbled into a gritty neighborhood of Mexico City Thursday and gunned down six men hanging around a convenience store, fueling fears that one of the world’s largest cities is falling prey to the cartel-style violence that has long terrorized other parts of the country. More than 50 people have been killed in the past week in five apparently unrelated massacres, including four shot Thursday near the border city of Ciudad Juarez. Earlier, suspected drug cartel gunmen killed at least 13 people today at a carwash in western Mexico. The men were washing cars on the outskirts of the coastal city of Tepic in Nayarit state when the gunmen drove up in SUVs and opened fire. The mass killing added to the mounting body count by warring drug gangs. Sunday, 13 recovering drug addicts were executed at a rehab center in Tijuana, and 14 people, mostly teenagers and children, were murdered Friday at a birthday party in Ciudad Juarez.
Christians in Indonesia say religious violence is spreading beyond traditional “hot spots” throughout Java, activists said on Sunday. The Jakarta Post reports that protestors torched a Protestant church in in Sukoharjo, Central Java, two weeks ago and attempted to set fire to a Catholic church in Klaten, also in Central Java. “It’s not wrong to say that Indonesia is the world champion of church burnings,” said Theophilus Bella of the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum (FKKJ), which documents sectarian violence in Indonesia. When the country first gained independence in 1945, Indonesia experienced only two church burnings in 20 years. Since 1998, when measures favoring the country’s Muslim majority were put in force, churches have endured more than 700 attacks.
The volcano that killed 33 people this week began erupting again, though there were no reports of new injuries or damage. Mourners held a mass burial Thursday during a lull in Mount Merapi‘s rumblings. In central Java, Mount Merapi began spewing hot clouds of ash again at around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the Indonesian vulcanology agency Subandriyo. Most residents have been evacuated from the area. It was unclear whether the new activity was a sign of another major blast to come.
Rescuers searching islands ravaged by a tsunami off western Indonesia raised the death toll to 408 Friday as more bodies were found and said the number is likely to climb higher because hundreds of missing people may have been swept away. Officials say a multimillion-dollar warning system installed after a monster 2004 quake and tsunami broke down one month ago because it was not being properly maintained.