Oklahoma‘s Ban on Shariah Law Blocked

A popular new law that bars Oklahoma courts from considering Islamic law, or Shariah, when deciding cases was put on hold Monday after a prominent Muslim in the state won a temporary restraining order in federal court. Two state legislators were quick to blast the judge’s ruling and the Oklahoma attorney general, who they said did not stand up to support the new law. U.S. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LeGrange ruled that the measure, which passed by a large margin in last Tuesday’s elections, would be suspended until a hearing on Nov. 22, when she will listen to arguments on whether the court’s temporary injunction should become permanent. Shariah is found in the Koran and is the basis of law in most Islamic countries, though its implementation varies widely. It has been used in Iran and Somalia, among other places, to condone harsh punishments like amputations and stoning. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Oklahoma, filed the suit last Thursday, claiming the law violated Muslims’ constitutional rights.

Atheists Up the Ante with TV and Print Ad Campaign

A new national advertising campaign that is critical of religious fundamentalism will utilize a major television network for the first time this November. Additional ads will appear on cable networks, magazines, newspapers, buses, billboards and metro trains in several cities and nationwide. The American Humanist Association is the same organization that displayed ads featuring the slogans “Why Believe in a God? Just be Good for Goodness’ Sake” and “No God? No Problem!” on buses in Washington, D.C. other major U.S. cities. Both campaigns made headlines around the globe, but the latest campaign will be dramatically greater than former ones, and the text considerably more controversial.

  • · Secular humanists are encouraged and funded by the New World Order cabal to primarily undermine Christianity

Tea Party Leaders Flex Newfound Muscle

The tea party rebels preparing to storm across the Potomac and into the marbled halls of Congress are already flexing their muscles, circulating petitions, and shooting off letters advising members of Congress how to vote in an early test of their newfound Beltway influence following Tuesday’s historic elections. Much of the activism centers around grass-roots support for Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is challenging Texas GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling for the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference, the No. 4 position in the House leadership. Major tea party organizations such as Tea Party Patriots and Tea Party Express say they are staying out of the power struggle between the two grass-roots conservative leaders. But many say privately that their loyalty lies with Bachmann. On Thursday, for example, the FreedomWorks organization that nurtured the Tea Party movement through its early growing pains circulated a seven-page letter addressed to “Members-Elect of the Next Congress” which offered the elected officials of the 112th Congress what it called “unsolicited advice.”

Arizona Drophouse Busts Declining

Arizona‘s illegal-immigration task force has uncovered about half as many drophouses this year as were found in each of the past two years, mirroring the decline in apprehensions of undocumented immigrants across much of the Southwest’s border. Law-enforcement officials attribute the decline in drophouses to the area’s reputation for aggressive enforcement and harsh jail sentences for smugglers. Instead, smugglers are bringing smaller loads of human cargo into the state, and they are taking more circuitous routes. The changing tactics are not unique to Arizona. In San Diego, the Border Patrol has seen a 42 percent drop in apprehensions from last year. Among those apprehensions, the number of smugglers using small fishing boats to transport their human cargo along the coastline has doubled in the past year alone.

99 Pimps Rounded Up in FBI Bust

The FBI stated that 69 prostitutes, all children were caught in a crackdown. The sting operation took place all over the US and concentrated on the sexual exploitation of children. Forty cites in several states were under observation and eventual arrest of the sex offenders. In all, 884 people were arrested, of which 99 were suspected pimps. The children were found during Operation Cross Country V. The three day sting targeted traffickers, pimps, rounded up the young prostitutes and sought out users of such exploitive services. The children are being evaluated; physically, emotionally and mentally by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Their task is to see if the children can return to their homes and families or if other fostering situations need to be considered.

Supreme Court Rejects Review of Obamacare

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a request from a conservative legal group for an early review of the Obama administration’s healthcare overhaul bill. The California-based Pacific Justice Institute challenged the bill’s mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance, but the court declined to hear the appeal on Monday on the grounds that it is premature. The court’s action was unusual because the justices almost never deal with cases before they have been full litigated in the lower courts, and in this case a U.S. appeals court has not yet ruled on the case. A federal court in San Diego had previously dismissed the challenge. Other lawsuits against the healthcare reform bill are proceeding in lower courts.

Health Insurance Costs for Employees Going Up

For millions of Americans who get their health insurance through their job, autumn brings not only falling leaves and cooler breezes, but also difficult choices. That’s because it’s the time when many employers present workers with their insurance options for the coming year. According to experts and industry insiders, recent trends suggest rates will continue to rise and employers will continue to shift more of the cost of health insurance onto workers – asking them to shoulder a larger share of premiums, for instance, or increasing out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-pays. This past year, overall premiums for employer-sponsored coverage, meaning the amounts paid by employer and employee combined, rose a relatively modest average of 3 percent for family coverage. But the amount paid by workers rose an average of 13.7 percent.

Currency Disputes Hang Over G-20 Summit

Intensifying friction over currencies and trade loomed Wednesday as leaders of major economies converged on Asia for back-to-back summits aimed at safeguarding the still fragile global recovery. President Barack Obama and other top leaders were arriving in Seoul, South Korea, for a two-day Group of 20 summit with the ambitious agenda of remaking the world economy to nurture stable growth and prevent a repeat of the financial meltdown in 2008. But that gathering, and a weekend summit of Pacific Rim leaders in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, are taking place as those nations struggle to reconcile conflicting strategies for achieving those aims. G-20 officials — whose countries comprise 85 percent of all economic activity — have pledged not to use their currencies as trade weapons. But tensions reignited last week when the U.S. Federal Reserve announced a $600 billion bond buying plan that angered many trading partners. Germany, China, Russia and Brazil are attacking the Fed’s move. Other countries complain excess cash may flood into their markets seeking higher returns, pushing their currency values higher, squeezing their exporters and inflating bubbles in stocks or other assets that could destabilize their financial systems.

Economic News

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the third drop in four weeks. The Labor Department said Wednesday that initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 435,000. Weekly first-time claims are now at their lowest level since early July.

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed slightly in September but was still running well above last year’s gap, adding urgency to Obama administration calls for other countries to do more to rebalance global growth. The Commerce Department says the deficit fell to $44 billion in September, as imports retreated slightly while exports edged higher, helped by rising sales of U.S. aircraft, computers and telecommunications equipment. But even with the slight improvement in September, the U.S. deficit through the first nine months of this year is 40% higher than a year ago.

Inventories held at the wholesale level rose for a ninth consecutive month in September while sales rose for a third month, encouraging signs that the economic expansion will continue. Wholesale inventories rose 1.5% in September after a 1.2% increase in August, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Sales at the wholesale level were up 0.4% in September after a 0.5% rise in August.

Metals — precious and otherwise — soared Monday, propelled by fears of European debt defaults and inflation. Gold closed at an all-time high of $1,403.20 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Its gains powered other metals, too. Silver set a 30-year high as it rose 68 cents to $27.43 an ounce. Platinum gained $2.20, to $1,771.10. Gold and other precious metals rise when investors lose faith in paper currency. Much of gold’s Monday gains stemmed from unease about government debt in Europe, particularly Ireland. Stocks and government bonds fell Tuesday as metals rallied to two-year highs.

General Electric (GE) plans to sink more than $2 billion into China through 2012 as the conglomerate looks to build partnerships there. GE said Tuesday that it will likely spend $500 million on research and development and new customer innovation centers, adding more than 1,000 jobs. More than $1.5 billion is expected to be put toward new joint ventures with Chinese state-owned enterprises in high-technology sectors.

  • · Why not invest that money in the U.S. which needs it instead of China which doesn’t? Greed

Strong profits on new cars and trucks helped General Motors earn $2 billion in the third quarter, enhancing the company’s appeal as it nears next week’s initial public stock offering. It was the third-straight profitable quarter for GM, which needed $50 billion in U.S. government aid to make it through bankruptcy protection last year. The company has repaid taxpayers $9.5 billion, and the government hopes to get back the remaining $40 billion with the Nov. 18 common stock offering and several follow-up sales.

Former BP PLC chief Tony Hayward says the company was unprepared for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, forcing it to improvise solutions, and that evaporating credit took it close to financial disaster. He said BP had found itself unable to borrow on capital markets during the spill crisis, threatening its finances. Hayward says the contingency plans were inadequate and “we were making it up day to day.”

The recession and housing bust have accomplished what no other economic slump has managed to in the past century: end Nevada’s population-growth streak. The USA’s fastest-growing state for 19 consecutive years will see its population drop an estimated 70,000 or 2.6% this year to 2.64 million. The last time Nevada suffered a decline was in 1920, when its population totaled 77,407.

  • · The good news is that Las Vegas is in even steeper decline

France

Retiring at 62 became law in France on Wednesday, a victory for President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s conservative government and a defeat for the unions that waged massive strikes and street protests to try to stop the austerity measure. The success gives Sarkozy a boost on the international scene as France prepares to take over the leadership of the Group of 20 major economic powers starting Friday. French union workers and others angry over having to work an extra two years had disrupted train and air travel, caused gasoline shortages and allowed garbage to pile up in the southern city of Marseille. More than a million people had repeatedly taken to the streets in protest.

  • · The entitlement attitude is what will ultimately sink Western economies

Middle East

Israeli soldiers arrested a prominent Hamas lawmaker from the West Bank in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday. The military said in a statement that Mahmoud Ramahi had been involved in recent Hamas activity. Israel considers Hamas, an Iranian-backed militant group that has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and other attacks, a terrorist organization. Ramahi was among dozens of Hamas lawmakers and Cabinet ministers arrested in 2006 after Hamas-linked Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip captured an Israeli soldier. Ramahi was released in 2009. Hamas’ Ahmed Bahar, deputy parliament speaker in Gaza, called the arrest “part of the comprehensive, systematic war against our homeland.” Hamas has ruled Gaza since ousting forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Iraq

Baghdad‘s Christians came under attack again Wednesday when a coordinated series of roadside bombs blew up in predominantly Christian neighborhoods, killing five people. The blasts came less than two weeks after insurgents besieged a church and killed 56 Christians in an assault that drew international condemnation. Police said at least 11 roadside bombs went off within an hour in three Christian areas of central Baghdad. Four of the blasts hit houses belonging to Christians. It was the third attack targeting Christians since the church siege on Oct. 31.

Afghanistan

An overwhelming majority of Afghans support the government’s efforts to negotiate peace with Taliban insurgents, according to a poll released Tuesday that ranks insecurity as the top concern among citizens, followed by unemployment and corruption. Some 83% of Afghan adults back efforts to secure the country through negotiations with armed, anti-government groups, the survey conducted by the Asia Foundation said. That’s up from 71% last year. Moreover, 81% — 10% more than last year — support programs to lure Taliban foot soldiers off the battlefield by providing assistance, jobs and housing to those who lay down their arms and reintegrate into society. President Hamid Karzai has made reconciliation a top priority and recently formed a 70-member High Peace Council to find a political solution to the war, now in its 10th year. Officials in both the government and the NATO military coalition in Afghanistan have confirmed that contacts are being made with top insurgent leaders, but say no formal peace talks are yet underway. The Taliban has denied that any of their top leaders are talking with the government.

Seizures of a key ingredient for homemade bombs in Afghanistan have risen sharply in recent months, a trend that top officers hope can stem the tide of improvised explosive devices, the top killer of U.S. troops there. Last month, U.S. and Afghan security forces in southern Afghanistan seized more than 18,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, more than twice the monthly rate seized in 2009, according to military figures. Virtually all of the ammonium nitrate in southern Afghanistan comes from Pakistan, said Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, who leads the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization. Afghanistan banned the fertilizer in February.

The New York Times reports that many Afghan women set themselves on fire to escape from abuse and despondency. Through early October, 75 women arrived with burns this year at the hospital in Heart. The choices for Afghan women are extraordinarily restricted: Their family is their fate. There is little chance for education, little choice about whom a woman marries, no choice at all about her role in her own house. Her primary job is to serve her husband’s family. Outside that world, she is an outcast. Returned runaways are often shot or stabbed in honor killings because the families fear they have spent time unchaperoned with a man. Women and girls are still stoned to death.

Iran

An Iranian semi-official news agency says the foreign minister has set Nov. 15 as the likely date for the start of a new round of nuclear talks with world powers. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki suggested Turkey as the venue of the talks. The talks would be between Iran and U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The six nations suspect that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program under the cover of a civil energy program. Negotiations foundered a year ago. Sanctions aimed at stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons are having an impact on that country, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday. “We know that they are concerned about the impact of the sanctions. The sanctions are biting more deeply than they anticipated, and we are working very hard at this,” he said.

Haiti

The cholera epidemic has spread into Haiti‘s capital, imperiling nearly 3 million people living in Port-au-Prince, nearly half of them in unsanitary tent camps for the homeless from the Jan. 12 earthquake. More than 100 suspected cholera cases among city residents were being tested. The outbreak has already killed at least 544 people. Due to Hurricane Tomas, raging, flooded rivers are now bringing cholera to the capital city of Port-au-Prince. One report even says that “it is already in the water system in the capital!” An estimated 20,000 Haitians now have cholera.

India

President Obama wrapped up his visit here Monday by endorsing India’s long-held demand for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council — a pronouncement that won applause but also skepticism from Indians that the change could happen soon. The five permanent members of the Security Council are the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom and Russia. Japan is the only other country the United States has endorsed for permanent membership. Indians were more interested in Obama’s vow to work together to improve harvests using new technologies and farming techniques, and a U.S.-Indian partnership to help promote open government in India.

Indonesia

U.S. President Barack Obama shortened his visit to Indonesia because of fears that volcanic ash spewing from Mount Merapi could have grounded Air Force One. He was there long enough to launch a “Comprehensive Partnership” pact with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The agreement calls for closer collaboration on multiple fronts to help this nation, which has frequent natural disasters across its 17,000 islands.

Weather

A powerful coastal storm packing rain, snow and sleet and wind gusts topping 60 mph knocked power out to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, shut down schools and slowed the morning commute Monday across New England. More than 60,000 homes and businesses were in the dark Monday morning in Maine alone, and there were sporadic power outages elsewhere across the region. Dozens of schools were closed in Maine because there was no electricity. Numerous trees and branches fell onto power lines, and more than 40 utility poles had been toppled.

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