U.S. Military Now Accepting Gay Recruits

Openly gay recruits can now join the military as a result of a federal court ruling striking down the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, but they are being warned that they can still be discharged if the ruling is overturned. Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the suspension of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is in response to the Sept. 9 decision of a central California federal judge that ruled the law implemented under President Clinton in 1993 was unconstitutional. The judge, Virginia Phillips, on Tuesday denied a government request to delay her order. The Justice Department said the Obama administration will appeal to the appellate court in San Francisco. Gen. James Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, has said most Marines oppose reversing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which permits gays to serve as long as they are not open about their homosexuality. He said opposition to gays serving openly is particularly strong within combat units.

  • The moral cancer of homosexuality is spreading like wildfire now, fanned by Satan and his New World Order cohorts

Court Sides with ‘Moment of Silence’

A federal appeals court has upheld an Illinois law that allows public school students to engage in voluntary prayer and reflection as part of a moment of silence during the school day. The decision by the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a federal district judge’s decision last year to strike down the law as unconstitutional in an atheist’s 2007 lawsuit against the Township High School District. But the court said the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act neither advances nor inhibits religion and only mandates a period of silence — and presents no state entanglement with religion. “The plaintiff claimed that simply because another student would be able to pray silently, that somehow created a constitutional crisis and injured them in some way — which we are certainly at a loss to figure out,” says David Cortman with the Alliance Defense Fund.

Federal Agencies Investigate Mortgage Foreclosures

The Obama administration said Tuesday that it has started its own investigation into mortgage foreclosures, joining the nation’s 50 state attorneys general in probing the alleged use of faulty or fraudulent documents to seize tens of thousands of homes. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs released a statement Tuesday morning saying two federal agencies “have undertaken their own regulatory and enforcement investigation into the foreclosure process.” The statement came the morning after Bank of America announced it would resume seizing more than 100,000 homes in 23 states next week, lifting a moratorium it imposed Oct. 8. The bank said that despite accusations that documents filed in courts were flawed, it had found no significant problems with its foreclosure actions.

Crystal Cathedral Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

It’s $55 million in debt and the recession has cut deeply into contributions, so the Crystal Cathedral, the glass megachurch in Southern California, has filed for bankruptcy protection. “Budgets could not be cut fast enough to keep up with the unprecedented rapid decline in revenue due to the recession,” Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reports. Services and programs at the church will continue, including the Hour of Power TV program. The 7,000-member church, in Garden Grove, laid off 50 workers in January and sold surplus property. Membership declined after the founder, Rev. Robert H. Schuller, retired after 50 years and put his son in charge who then handed the reigns to his sister in 2008 after internal disagreements.

Top 400 Charities See Billions Less in Donations

The Associated Press reports that the recession might be officially over, but the belt-tightening is certainly not over for charities. The Philanthropy 400 report, released yesterday “shows that charities are really having a tough time, and this are some of the most successful charities in the United States,” Chronicle Editor Stacy Palmer said. “Usually bigger charities are more resilient, so that’s the part that is still surprising.” The United Way and Salvation Army continue to rank highest in giving in the survey’s findings. Only four charities in the top 10 reported increased contributions over last year, including Alexandria, Va.-based Catholic Charities USA, which reported a 66 percent jump. For many, that growth has been driven by donated goods rather than cash.

Border Arrests Down

The Border Patrol made about 463,000 arrests during the federal government’s fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, down 17% from 556,032 the previous 12 months. It marks the fifth straight year of declines. Border Patrol arrests are down 72 percent from nearly 1.7 million in 2000. The agency typically makes about 97 percent of its arrests along the 1,952-mile border with Mexico, with nearly all the rest coming along the Canadian border. Peter Nunez, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego who advocates a more restrictive immigration policy, noted that border enforcement has been building for 15 years. “It’s been a long process over several administrations,” said Nunez, who teaches immigration policy at University of San Diego. “They are reaping the rewards.” Enrique Morones, an activist who supports looser immigration policies, said the economy is the main reason for the five-year decline in arrests. “If there are fewer jobs available, fewer people come,” said Morones, president of Border Angels, which provides water to migrants crossing the border.

Lake Mead Sinks to Historic Low

Lake Mead sank to its lowest level in nearly 75 years on Sunday, a stark reminder of how drought and growing water demands have sapped the Colorado River and its huge reservoirs. Not since it was first filling in 1937 has Lake Mead held so little water. The reservoir’s level fell to the historic low shortly before noon on Sunday, eclipsing a previous record from the drought-stricken 1950s. The lake is now just 8 feet above the level that would trigger the first drought restrictions, which would reduce water supplies for Arizona and Nevada. That gap could close by next year – the reservoir fell 10 feet from October 2009 to 2010. Most homes and businesses in Arizona likely would not feel the direct effects of the restrictions, which would divert water first from farmers. Lake Mead, created when Hoover Dam was built, has shrunk steadily over the past decade, in part because of an unrelenting drought that began to reduce the flow of the Colorado in 2000. The reservoir stores water from the river on behalf of Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico.

Amtrak Ridership Rising

In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, Amtrak served more than 28.7 million riders, an increase of 5.7% from 2009, according to a company statement. Ticket revenue grew 9%, to $1.7 billion. Amtrak has benefited from the “remarkable lifestyle shift” caused by smartphones, laptops and iPads that let travelers work and communicate almost everywhere. “You can make phone calls, and you don’t have to turn your laptop on and off,” says Manieri, adding she also avoids the airport’s long security lines and the highway’s congestion. Young adults especially view trains and intercity buses as extensions of the public transportation system, he says. They can hop on without ever disconnecting from the rest of the world. Amtrak’s ridership and ticket revenue figures had been climbing steadily over the past decade but fell the previous fiscal year as business and leisure travelers cut back during the recession.

Economic News

Home construction rose slightly last month on the strength of single-family homes, but the market was still too weak to propel growth in the battered industry. Construction of new homes and apartments rose 0.3% in September from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000. The number of building permits issued to build homes, a sign of future activity, fell 5.6% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000. The housing market suffered its worst summer in more than 10 years, despite the lowest mortgage rates in five decades.

China raised its key lending rate Tuesday for the first time since 2007 as Beijing tries to cool inflation and guide rapid growth to a more sustainable level. The rate increase of 0.25% reflected China’s unusually strong expansion and official concern about controlling a credit boom and keeping growth from surging out of control. Communist leaders are trying to guide China’s economy back to a more sustainable growth rate after it expanded at a 10.3% annual rate in the second quarter.

Britain‘s Treasury chief George Osborne said Wednesday that the country’s government will make the largest cuts to public spending since World War II — slashing benefits and public sector jobs in a five-year austerity plan. Osborne confirmed he had ordered 83 billion pounds ($130 billion) in spending cuts through 2015, which he claims are necessary along with tax increases to wipe out a spending deficit that reached 156 billion pounds last year. As many as 500,000 public sector jobs will be lost, welfare payments sharply reduced and dozens of scheduled government programs halted.

The World Bank raised its 2010 economic outlook for East Asian countries Tuesday, but warned of slower growth and potential asset bubbles as foreign capital surges into the region. This year, East Asia‘s gross domestic product is expected to rise 8.9%. Capital flooding into the region to chase growth has led to a “substantial appreciation” of exchange rates that, if sustained, could hurt economic growth, according to the World Bank. Currency rates are a growing source of friction around the world. The U.S. and the European Union, among others, have criticized China for keeping its currency undervalued by up to 40% against the dollar to boost Chinese exports.

France

Workers opposed to a higher retirement age blocked access to airports in Paris and around the country on Wednesday as hooded youths smashed store windows amid clouds of tear gas outside the capital. Riot police in black body armor forced striking workers away from blocked fuel depots in western France, restoring gasoline to areas where pumps were dry after weeks of protests over the government proposal raising the age from 60 to 62. Riot officers in the Paris suburb of Nanterre and the southeastern city of Lyon sprayed tear gas but appeared unable to stop the violence. Many workers feel the change would be a first step in eroding France’s social benefits — which include long vacations, contracts that make it hard for employers to lay off workers and a state-subsidized health care system — in favor of “American-style capitalism.”

  • As the government-fostered sense of entitlement clashes with excessive debt and budget cutbacks, more government control will be required – just what the New World Order folks have engineered

Mexico

Mexican security forces seized at least 105 tons of U.S.-bound marijuana in the border city of Tijuana on Monday, by far the biggest pot bust in the country in recent years. Soldiers and police grabbed the drugs in pre-dawn raids in three neighborhoods after police arrested 11 people following a shootout,. The marijuana was found wrapped in 10,000 packages which have an estimated street value in Mexico of 4.2 billion pesos, about $340 million. The bust began when Tijuana municipal police on patrol came under fire from gunmen in a convoy of vehicles. Police arrested 11 people who were traveling in the convoy and called the army and state police for reinforcements.

Yemen

Hundreds of Yemenis fled their homes for refuge as Yemeni troops shelled villages and clashed with al-Qaeda gunmen in an assault on alleged hideouts of the militant group in the remote mountains of the south, witnesses and officials said on Monday. With U.S. help, Yemen has stepped up the fight against al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the country, which is believed to have several hundred fighters entrenched in mountainous, tribal regions of the country and which claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day attempt to bomb an American passenger jet over the U.S. Over the past month, the group, called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has intensified a campaign of assassinations against Yemeni security officers. In an online message last week, it announced the formation of the “Abyan-Aden Army,” aimed at toppling the Yemeni government.

Pakistan

Parts of Karachi, Pakistan‘s largest city, shut down Wednesday after an attack on a scrapyard pushed to 51 the number of people killed in four days — a spasm of politically motivated violence in a country already wracked by Islamist militancy. Some shops were set on fire in an outlying neighborhood where police tried to calm gathering crowds, footage broadcast on Pakistani TV stations showed. The violence in Karachi comes as Pakistan is engaged in talks with the U.S. on the future of their shaky alliance against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. U.S. officials in Washington are expected to discuss on Wednesday a long-term military and security assistance pact with a visiting Pakistani delegation.

Intelligence officials say American missiles have killed seven people in a militant stronghold near the Afghan border. The United States has stepped up missile attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban targets inside northwest Pakistan over the last two months. There have been 17 strikes this month, according to an Associated Press count. Washington does not acknowledge the attacks or say who it is targeting or killing. Critics say innocents are often killed in the attacks, hurting Pakistan’s efforts to win over tribesmen in its campaign against militants.

Afghanistan

High-level talks to end the war in Afghanistan reportedly involve face-to-face discussions with the most senior Taliban commanders, who have secretly left their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO forces. Some leaders who oversee the Taliban war effort in Afghanistan have left their havens in Pakistan aboard NATO aircraft to attend the talks on explicit assurance that they would be protected. Mullah Omar, the overall leader of the Taliban, is specifically being kept out of the negotiations because of his close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Afghanistan has released full preliminary results from last month’s parliamentary election, throwing out more than 20% of ballots because of fraud. Election officials called the vote a success because they were able to catch the fraud, but the number of fraudulent ballots also indicates that cheating was pervasive in a vote that many hoped would show the government’s commitment to reform. It was not immediately clear what the results released Wednesday would mean for the makeup of the 249-member parliament.

Better battlefield treatment and faster medevac flights have helped to cut nearly in half the number of troops killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan, military officials say. The Pentagon says 24 troops died from the 180 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that detonated in September. One year ago, 46 troops died from 131 IEDs in September. Wounded troops are flown from the battlefield to a hospital about 25% faster than they were last year, according to the Pentagon. IEDs remain the top killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Insurgents planted 1,321 bombs that were detected or blew up in September, the third-highest monthly total in the 9-year-old war, and 16% more than in September 2009.

China

The Obama administration has concluded that Chinese firms are helping Iran to improve its missile technology and develop nuclear weapons, and has asked China to stop such activity, a senior U.S. official said. During a visit to Beijing last month, a delegation led by Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, handed a ‘significant list’ of companies and banks to their Chinese counterparts to discuss a sensitive issue in U.S.-Chinese relations. The official said the Obama administration thinks that the companies are violating U.N. sanctions, but that China did not authorize their activities. In a recent meetings on Capitol Hill, China’s outgoing deputy chief of mission, Xie Feng, was told that “if he ever wanted to see Congress united, Democrats and Republicans, it would be on the issue of China’s interaction with Iran.”

Chechnya

Insurgents stormed the parliament complex in Russia‘s volatile Chechnya region on Tuesday, killing at least 2 police officers and one parliamentary official, authorities said. At least three insurgents were also killed, One insurgent set off a bomb at the gates of the parliament complex in the provincial capital, killing himself and wounding others. At least two other gunmen ran into the building shouting “Allahu Akbar” as they opened fire on the people inside. The attackers were killed in an ensuing gunfight with police. Russian news agencies reported earlier that insurgents had also attacked the Agriculture Ministry building. The building is in the same complex as the parliament, and that incident appeared to be part of the same attack. Restive Chechnya in the Russian North Caucasus has been battling an Islamist insurgency for years despite the iron rule of its Moscow-backed president.

Earthquakes

An earthquake rattled the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch on Tuesday, cutting power and phone service and sending some residents running into the streets just weeks after a more powerful quake caused extensive damage. New Zealand’s geological agency GNS Science said Tuesday’s magnitude 5.0 quake was centered six miles southwest of the city and just five miles below the surface. Buildings shook and objects tumbled from shelves when the quake hit about 11:30 a.m. Electricity and phone service were cut to several parts of the city, and a number of buildings in the city center were evacuated following the quake. The temblor was one of hundreds of aftershocks that have hit the city since a magnitude-7 quake on Sept. 4 that wrecked thousands of homes, tore up farmland but did not kill anyone.

Weather

A super typhoon that killed 10 people and flattened forests in the northern Philippines dumped heavy rains on the capital Tuesday as it headed across the sea to menace its next likely targets in southern China. Typhoon Megi struck the Philippines on Monday with ferocious winds of 140 miles per hour, but initial assessments showed relatively light damage and casualties, partly because the storm struck sparsely populated areas. Philippine officials also cited their massive emergency preparations days ahead of the storm. Isabela province in the northeast Philippines, Megi’s entry point, bore the brunt of the Typhoon Megi’s destruction while more than 8,000 people rode out the typhoon in sturdy school buildings, town halls, churches and relatives’ homes. Roads in and out of the coastal province were deserted and blocked by collapsed trees, power lines and debris.

Heavy rains dealt poverty-stricken people in Bangladesh another blow this week, killing at least 17 people and leaving thousands homeless. Flooding has also inundated the neighboring state of Manipur, India. In some areas, rains created tidal surges with waves as tall as five feet. “This is another heartbreaking crisis for one of the most poor, downtrodden countries in the world,” said Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan. “It is another opportunity for us to show Christ’s love by responding to the suffering as He would have us do.” Fifty-five percent of Bangladesh’s 156 million residents live below the poverty line.

The U.S. government’s National Climate Data Center reported Monday that the January-September period is tied with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record. The average temperature for the period was 1.17 degree Fahrenheit (0.65 Celsius) above normal for records going back 131 years.

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