Court Vindicates ‘Under God’ in Pledge

It’s a “victory for plain old common sense,” says a legal group in describing a court decision to keep the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The case before the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would have stopped recitation of the Pledge in New Hampshire’s schools. But Eric Rassbach with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty tells OneNewsNow the court gave a solid ruling late last week. “They rejected what is the latest in a series of attacks on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance — and specifically [targeting] the words ‘under God,'” the attorney explains. The group Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with infamous atheist activist Michael Newdow, had argued that the words “under God” endorsed religion — but the court rejected that argument. According to Rassbach, the court’s favorable ruling mirrors the decision in March by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the constitutionality of the Pledge. “All the courts who have dealt with the topic are now unanimous that the Pledge is constitutional with the words ‘under God’ in it — and that essentially ‘God’ is not a dirty word,” he states.

Jesus Worth Less than Video Game?

Christians in the U.S. have not managed to raise the $200 million more a year needed to spread the good news of Jesus Christ around the globe. Meanwhile, in 24 hours beginning November 9, 2010, gamers in North America and the United Kingdom spent a record $360 million on the new ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ video game. “The comparison suggests that gamers value a new video game more than Christians value Jesus Christ and his priorities,” observed Dr. John Ronsvalle. He is coauthor, with his wife Sylvia, of the new study, ‘The State of Church Giving.’ The Ronsvalles calculated that it would cost church members in the U.S. about $1 a year to raise the estimated $200 million more a year needed to engage all unreached people groups. ‘Engaging’ means providing a basic point of access to the Gospel. The new study, released in October 2010 by empty tomb, inc., cites the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee as the source of the $200 million figure.

Obama and Republicans have Different Approaches to Earmarks

Both President Obama and newly empowered Republicans are criticizing earmarks — pet projects inserted into bills by lawmakers — but they have different approaches on how to deal with them. House and Senate Republicans are calling for an outright ban on earmarks, while Obama wants to restrict them because some of the projects involved are worthwhile. Obama was praising the decision of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who reversed course Monday and endorsed a ban on earmarks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he would join his fellow Republicans in opposing earmarks, bowing to pressure from tea party activists who see the special project funding as a prime example of out-of-control government spending. Senate Republicans, by a near-unanimous voice vote, approved a resolution to banish the practice of earmarks Tuesday evening — and challenged Democrats to match them.

Obama’s Prospects for Russia Arms Pact Fade

An agreement between the United States and Russia to slash their nuclear arsenals was in danger of collapse after an influential Republican senator said Tuesday it should not be voted on this year. With a terse statement, Sen. Jon Kyl dealt a major setback to President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve ties with Russia and to his broader strategy for reducing nuclear arms worldwide. The treaty, known as New START, had been seen as one of Obama’s top foreign policy accomplishments. Without the support of Kyl, the leading Republican voice on the treaty, Democrats have little hope of securing at least eight Republican votes — the minimum they would need for ratification in the current Senate.

Napolitano ‘Open’ to Fliers’ Gripes Over Screening

A lawsuit was filed today against Janet Napolitano and the Transportation Security Administration alleging that the invasive airport “security” procedures instituted at President Obama’s instructions are “profane, degrading, intrusive and indecent” and are both “unreasonable and violative of the Fourth Amendment.” The case was filed in federal court for the District of Columbia by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute. The issue of the invasion of privacy demanded by the TSA at airport security checkpoints – passengers are given the option of an X-ray that reveals a virtually nude image for government agents to see or a hands-on-all-body-parts pat-down – has exploded in recent days.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday that the agency has an “open ear” to any “adjustments” to security measures in place at the nation’s airports, as some groups and individuals continued to call for a boycott of full-body scanning machines that they complain are invasive. But, she said, “if there are adjustments we need to make to these procedures as we move forward, we have an open ear. We will listen.” Napolitano reiterated that the imaging technology does not violate fliers’ privacy. She added that “if people want to travel by some other means,” they have that right.

  • · Napolitano’s arrogant gall is astounding. She and Obama are narcissistic soul-mates. Does not violate fliers’ privacy?? Go travel by other means??? Some right. This administration has violated and eliminated more personal rights and freedoms than any other.

Arizona Starts Medical Marijuana Implementation

Now that it’s clear that Arizona voters have approved medical marijuana, the Department of Health Services is scrambling to meet the four-month requirement to implement the law. Medical users could be legally smoking marijuana by next summer, Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) Director Will Humbles said in a press conference Monday. “I see this as a threat to the quality of life in Arizona,” Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said of the new law. Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh’s comments were even stronger. “The voting public was misguided by the proponents of medical marijuana and they will realize their mistake when they see bodies lying in the highway,” Waugh said.

Hospital Care Fatal for Many Medicare Patients

An estimated 15,000 Medicare patients die each month in part because of care they receive in the hospital, says a government study released today. The study is the first of its kind aimed at understanding “adverse events” in hospitals — essentially, any medical care that causes harm to a patient,. Patients in the study, a nationally representative sample of 780 Medicare patients discharged from hospitals in October 2008, suffered such problems as bed sores, infections and excessive bleeding from blood-thinning drugs, the report found. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality called the results “alarming.” Of the 780 cases, 12 patients died as a result of hospital care. Five were related to blood-thinning medication. Two other medication-related deaths involved inadequate insulin management resulting in hypoglycemic coma and respiratory failure resulting from oversedation. About one in seven Medicare hospital patients — or about 134,000 of the estimated 1 million discharged in October 2008 — were harmed from medical care. Another one in seven experienced temporary harm because the problem was caught in time and reversed. About 47 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare, a government health insurance program for people 65 and older and those of any age with kidney failure.

Foreclosure Mess May Threaten Banks

The disarray stemming from flawed foreclosure documents could threaten major banks with billions of dollars in losses, deepen the disruption in the housing market and hurt the government’s effort to keep people in their homes, according to a new report from a congressional watchdog. Revelations that several big mortgage issuers sped through thousands of home foreclosures without properly checking paperwork already has raised alarm in Washington. Federal and state regulators, including the Federal Reserve and attorneys general in all 50 states, are investigating whether mortgage companies cut corners on their own procedures when they moved to foreclose on people’s homes. If the irregularities are widespread, the consequences could be severe, the Congressional Oversight Panel said in a report issued Tuesday. “Clear and uncontested property rights are the foundation of the housing market,” the report says. “If these rights fall into question, that foundation could collapse.”

Economic News

The consumer price index rose moderately in October but there was little sign of inflation as the cost of autos, clothing and hotels fell. The Labor Department said Wednesday that the consumer price index rose 0.2% last month, a slight increase from September’s 0.1% rise. Gasoline prices accounted for most of the increase, rising 4.6% in October, biggest gain since July. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the core consumer index was unchanged for the third straight month. In the past 12 months, the core index has risen only 0.6%, smallest increase since the index began in 1957. The weak economy is keeping a lid on prices.

The Commerce Department says construction of new homes and apartments sank 11.7% last month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 519,000 units. The decline was the worst showing since April 2009, when construction dropped to a rate of 477,000 units — lowest level on records dating back to 1959. Construction of new homes and apartments is 77% below its peak during the housing boom of 2.27 million units in January 2006.

European officials scrambled Tuesday to stop Ireland‘s debt crisis from turning into another Greek-style meltdown and dragging down the euro currency, holding talks over solutions including possible help for Ireland’s troubled banking system. Only months after saving Greece, the 16-country eurozone has been shaken anew by concerns that Ireland will be unable to pay the cost of rescuing its banks, which ran into trouble when the country’s real estate boom collapsed and risky loans stopped being repaid.

Debt-ridden Greece raised its projected budget deficit figure for 2010 after the European Union‘s statistics agency said Monday that the country’s deficit and debt levels last year were much higher than previously estimated. But the country, which has been struggling with a severe financial crisis the past year and is receiving euro110 billion ($150 billion) in rescue loans to keep it from defaulting on its debts, insisted it is still on track for an “unprecedented” 6% deficit reduction.

China, the biggest buyer of U.S. Treasury securities, has boosted its holdings for a third straight month. China’s holdings of Treasury debt rose to $883.5 billion in September, the Treasury Department says. That’s a 1.7% increase from August. For much of this year, China has been increasing its holdings of Treasury debt. Overall, foreign governments increased purchases of Treasury securities by $39.5 billion in September, a record. A sustained drop in foreign demand for Treasury debt could lead to higher U.S. interest rates, slowing the economy.

  • · While increased foreign Treasury debt holdings might help our economy, we are selling our independence down the drain to hostile nations (including many Muslim countries) who have vastly boosted their ownership position over the past few years

Middle East

Israel and the United States were in a standoff Wednesday over the terms of a Washington-proposed settlement construction moratorium meant to revive Mideast peace talks. Israeli officials had said several days ago that the U.S. had agreed that the 90-day moratorium would be the last time Israel would be asked to renew building limitations that expired in late September, after 10 months. They also said the renewal — like the earlier moratorium — would not apply to disputed east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. But now it appears that these issues are still under negotiation. The proposed U.S. package would include 20 F-35 joint strike fighter aircrafts for Israel, valued at $3 billion; U.S. commitment to veto at the UN Security Council any resolutions that would unilaterally declare a Palestinian state over the next year; and a U.S.-Israel long-term security agreement.

Iran

The Stuxnet computer worm that infiltrated industrial systems in Iran this fall may have been designed specifically to attack the country’s nuclear program, potentially crippling centrifuges used to enrich uranium gas, according to new research. In a blog post late last week, a Stuxnet researcher at Symantec wrote that the software firm had concluded that the worm targeted industrial systems with high frequency ‘converter drives’ from two specific vendors, including the one in Iran. Independently, Langner Communications of Germany, a systems security firm, also announced over the weekend that another part of the worm’s attack code was configured in a way to target a control system for steam turbines used in power plants, such as those installed at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. Langner also confirmed that the worm appeared to attack key components of centrifuges.

Korea

More than 10,000 North Koreans have escaped into South Korea in the past three years, according to a report released Monday by the South Korean Unification Ministry. About as many North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of 2007 as the number who have fled over the entire previous period since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, the ministry said. The total now stands at 23,050. The rise in defections comes as the North continues to grapple with years of famine and the issue of who will succeed dictator Kim Jong Il, 68, who has been ill for years. Amnesty International says tens of thousands more defectors may be hiding in China, trying to get to the South. The United Nations estimates that hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have died from starvation over the past decade, during which time the Stalinist regime has tried numerous failed schemes to grow grain without resorting to a free-market agricultural system. Heavy floods have damaged coal production and ruined crops, and much of the country is still without electricity.

Afghanistan

Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, was frustrated by the Afghan president’s blunt call for a reduced military footprint in the country — a remark that threatened to undermine efforts to maintain international support for the war at this week’s NATO summit. NATO had received assurances that Karzai was on-board with the coalition’s strategy and that international forces were working hard to address some of his concerns. Support for the war is waning in the capitals of troop-contributing nations and NATO officials hope to use the Lisbon summit to convince heads of state that progress is being made, and that the effort warrants continued support.

Pakistan

Suspected American missiles slammed into a home and a speeding vehicle near the Afghan border Tuesday, killing 20 alleged militants as the U.S. ramps up unmanned drone strikes in northwestern Islamist strongholds. The eighth missile attack this month in Pakistan killed targets in North Waziristan, a mountainous tribal region that is a base for Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked fighters responsible for many of the attacks on U.S. and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan. The U.S. has launched 100 such strikes in Pakistan so far this year, a major surge over previous years for the drone program that is rarely officially acknowledged by Washington. Nearly all have hit in North Waziristan, where Muslim extremists run a virtual mini-state outside the Pakistani government’s control.

Yemen

The United States is sharply increasing the amount of development and other civilian aid it is sending to Yemen and has changed the way it is administered, a move that some experts say may still not be enough to counter al-Qaeda’s growing presence there. “We’ve reoriented our aid program towards quick impact projects, things that get on the ground in Yemen as quickly as possible,” said Janet Sanderson, a deputy assistant secretary of State. This year, the government budgeted $67.5 million in State Department aid for Yemen, up from $40 million in 2009, according to department statistics. The White House requested $106 million for 2011. The money includes aid for development and police and other security training.

  • · This is but a piddling amount which won’t have hardly any affect on al-Qaeda.

Egypt

Muslims set fire overnight to at least 10 houses belonging to Coptic Christians in a village in southern Egypt over rumors that a Christian resident had an affair with a Muslim girl, security officials said Tuesday. The officials said security forces have sealed off the village of al-Nawahid, in Qena province some 290 miles south of Cairo, to prevent the violence from spreading to neighboring towns. They said several people were arrested. Clashes between Christians and Muslims occasionally occur in southern Egypt, mostly over land or disputes over church construction. But sectarian tensions have also been on the rise recently in the capital. Human rights groups say attacks on Copts are on the rise, underscoring the government’s failure to address chronic sectarian strains in a society where religious radicalism is gaining ground.

Haiti

The United Nations stabilization mission in Haiti condemned the violent clashes that broke out Monday in two cities in the northern part of the country, charging that the riots may be politically motivated. “The way in which the events unfolded leads to the belief that the incidents had a political motivation, aimed at creating a climate of insecurity on the eve of the elections,” the U.N. mission said in a statement Tuesday. The mission said the protesters were armed and fired on the peacekeepers, who shot back in self-defense. In Cap Haitien, schools and banks were closed, residents set fire to tires at entrances to the town and gunfire ricocheted through the streets “We are facing the consequences of a cholera epidemic and in two weeks the elections, so the population is scared,” spokesman Vincenzo Pugliese said. “It’s a volatile situation.” The cholera outbreak in earthquake-ravaged Haiti that has killed more than 900 people will continue for at least six months, possibly years, experts say. So far, 16,800 people have been hospitalized.

Italy

Italian police have seized 2,200 pounds of pure cocaine worth as much as $340 million from a shipping container carrying farm equipment from Brazil. Police in the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro discovered the haul acting on a tip from British officials dealing with organized crime. Calabria is home to the ‘ndrangheta organized crime syndicate, which has been expanding its grip on drug trafficking in Europe. Such huge shipments of drugs destined for the European market usually arrive in the Netherlands. A statement from Rome’s carabinieri said it was the largest such seizure in Italy in 15 years.

Weather

Snow and fog caused a 34-car pileup outside Denver Monday. Troopers say 12 people were injured on Interstate 25. The Colorado State Patrol says 30 passenger vehicles and four semi-trucks, were involved in three separate crashes because of snow, fog and ice. People from two cars required extrications. All of the injuries were considered non-life-threatening.

A tractor-trailer overturned Tuesday, forcing authorities to close a portion of Interstate 15 outside Helena, as much of Montana was hit with its first major snowstorm of the season. A number of accidents with injuries were reported as blowing snow and icy roads made for treacherous driving conditions. Strong wind apparently blew over the tractor-trailer on I-15.

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