New Military Policy Compromising Careers

An advocate for America’s fighting men and women says the repeal of the ban on homosexuals serving in the military will effectively create a new type of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military. In the months leading up to President Barack Obama signing the bill and fulfilling his campaign pledge to activist homosexual groups, many service members said they would not remain in uniform if that lifestyle was foisted upon the military. In fact, an Army National Guard lieutenant colonel recently told WorldNetDaily that he has already sent a letter asking to be relieved of his command so that he will not have to subject his troops to pro-homosexual indoctrination. He has also threatened to resign his commission, rather than undergo “behavior modification” training. “The lesbian, gay, bisexual [and] transgender access to the armed forces with zero tolerance of dissent will be a major reason why some decisions will be made, especially in the mid-career ranks, by families and by individuals to just not re-enlist,” warns Center for Military Readiness (CMR) president Elaine Donnelly.

Abortion Mindset Drives Affiliate Away

A Texas-based Planned Parenthood affiliate is leaving the national federation because it doesn’t want to perform abortions. After the Corpus Christi chapter was told that national Planned Parenthood officials were working to standardize their operations, which included a requirement for all affiliates to offer abortions, CEO Amanda Stukenberg told them her chapter focused solely on contraception and birth control, and she has notified the national office that it will change its name to Family Planning of the Coastal Bend. Dr. Joe Pojman of the Texas Alliance for Life is delighted with the news. He goes on to point out that this is not the first time evidence has surfaced to reveal that Planned Parenthood’s main focus is abortion, as it is the most lucrative part of the clinic’s operations.

Former ‘Car Czar’ Fined $10M for Influence Peddling

The investment banker who helped lead the Obama administration’s auto industry overhaul has agreed to pay $10 million to settle influence-peddling allegations in New York. Former “car czar” Steven Rattner admitted no wrongdoing as part of the deal, which was announced by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Thursday. Cuomo’s office had filed civil lawsuits against Rattner in November, accusing him of paying kickbacks to help his company land $150 million in state pension fund investments in 2004 and 2005. The settlement announced Thursday bars Rattner from doing further business with any public pension fund in the state for five years.

  • · Another example of the type of people Obama appointed as ‘Czars’ without Congressional vetting and oversight

Medicare to Swell with Baby Boomer Onslaught

Baby Boomers are about to create a record population explosion in the nation’s health care program for seniors. Starting on Saturday, Baby Boomers begin turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare — one every eight seconds. A record 2.8 million will qualify in 2011, rising to 4.2 million a year by 2030, projections show. In all, the government expects 76 million Boomers will age on to Medicare. Even factoring in deaths over that period, the program will grow from 47 million today to 80 million in 2030. At the same time, health care costs are projected to outpace inflation, and medical advances will extend lives, straining the program’s finances. It’s expected to cost $929 billion by 2020, an 80% increase over 10 years.

Economic News

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level since July 2008. New jobless claims dropped 34,000 to 388,000, the fewest since July 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday. The level of applications has either fallen or remained unchanged in five of the past six weeks. Unemployment applications below 425,000 signal modest job growth. But economists say applications need to fall consistently to 375,000 or below to indicate a significant decline in unemployment. Applications for unemployment benefits peaked during the recession at 651,000 in March 2009.

It will be a happier New Year for nearly 650,000 workers earning minimum wage. They’re getting small raises in seven states that tie their salaries to the cost of living. The minimum wages in those states will go up 9 cents to 12 cents an hour Saturday because their consumer price indexes rose in 2010. Poverty advocates say the rising minimum wages shouldn’t be seen as raises, just adjustments to keep the working poor at the same level as prices of goods rise. The National Employment Law Project, a New York-based advocate for workers, estimates that about 647,000 people will see their paychecks go up in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

US Helps Ukraine Send Enriched Uranium to Russia

In a secret operation to secure nuclear material, the United States has helped Ukraine send to Russia enough uranium to build two atomic bombs. This week’s removal of more than 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of highly enriched uranium followed a pledge by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to get rid of all of his country’s highly enriched uranium by April 2012. The material will be blended down in Russia, rendering it useless for bomb making. Yanukovych agreed to give up the uranium in a deal announced at a nuclear security summit hosted by President Barack Obama in April. As an incentive, the United States is providing replacement low-enriched uranium that can be used for Ukraine’s research reactors. The summit deal also has the United States building a $25 million “neutron source facility” nuclear research project for Ukraine, the administration said. The facility will be able to produce 50 different types of medical isotopes, using only low-enriched uranium.

  • · Such cooperation with Russia and its former state of Ukraine used to be unthinkable – but Russia’s recent signals of a return to its former Communist ways remains disconcerting

Iraq

Some Christians in Iraq’s capital were considering leaving, following another wave of bombings targeting members of their religion that left two dead and 16 others wounded. The strikes appeared to be coordinated because they all took place within an hour, an Interior Ministry official said. Explosives were left outside and in the gardens of 14 homes in six neighborhoods across Iraq’s sprawling capital. Among the homes targeted by improvised explosive devices was one Muslim dwelling that was picked because it had a Christmas tree inside, the male head of the family, Ibrahim Sharba, told CNN. The assaults mirrored the early-morning bombings of Christian homes in Baghdad on November 10.

Pakistan

A U.S. missile strike killed eight alleged militants in northwest Pakistan on Friday on the final day of a year that has seen a major escalation in drone attacks targeting insurgents flowing into neighboring Afghanistan. Four missiles struck a convoy of militants traveling by car and on foot near the town of Ghulam Khan in the North Waziristan tribal area along the Afghan border. Ghulam Khan is known to be dominated by fighters from a militant group headed by Maulvi Gul Bahadur. It was the third day this week of missile attacks on the North Waziristan tribal region, part of a ramped-up U.S. campaign to take out al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters seeking sanctuary outside Afghanistan. More than 110 such missile strikes have been launched this year — more than double last year’s total.

Yemen

Yemen is releasing hundreds of jailed insurgents after the president’s directive to free 500 detainees, the country’s embassy in Washington announced Thursday. President Ali Abdul Allah Saleh’s move is a critical part of the February peace agreement between the government and the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, who have fought for years. The nation of Qatar brokered the prisoner release, which has been called a “critical component” of the peace agreement. Qatar oversees the cease-fire. In return for the move, the Houthis will surrender weapons seized during fighting. The rebels are supporters of slain Shiite cleric Hussein al-Houthi, and they began a revolt in 2004.

  • · It is unlikely that Islamic militants will live up to the peace deal

Mexico

Gunmen believed to be linked to drug cartels killed four police officers and a doctor in apparently coordinated attacks in and around the northern Mexican city of Monterrey. Three other officers were wounded in Wednesday’s attacks. Monterrey, Mexico’s third-largest city, has been rocked by drug-cartel turf battles. Six people were found dead Thursday in the southern state of Guerrero, another disputed drug trafficking hot spot.

Greece

A bomb hidden on a parked motorcycle exploded outside two court buildings in central Athens on Thursday, damaging cars and shattering windows but leaving no one hurt. The powerful rush-hour blast occurred at 8:20 a.m. following a warning telephone call to a newspaper and private TV station, authorities said. Police had evacuated the targeted buildings, which are used for administrative purposes, as well as a nearby private hospital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Greek militant groups, which have stepped up attacks in the past two years. A group of suspects is facing trial next month. Authorities in Europe and elsewhere say violent anarchist groups are showing greater international coordination. A small bomb exploded overnight outside the Greek embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, causing minimal damage and no injuries.

  • · At least terrorists have known objectives – anarchists seek only anarchy, prompted by the end-time spirit of lawlessness the Bible foretells

Earthquakes

A magnitude 3.8 earthquake that rattled north central Indiana early Thursday was unprecedented in its size and location, according to the state geologist. “This is highly irregular, extremely rare, unprecedented,” said John Steinmetz, director of the Indiana Geological Survey at Indiana University. While Indiana is familiar with small to moderate earthquakes, they almost always originate in the Wabash Valley Fault System near Evansville in southern Indiana. Geologists are studying whether the source of Thursday’s earthquake was a largely inactive fault line known as the Sharpsville Fault.

Weather

Military aircraft dropped supplies to towns cut off by floods in northeastern Australia as the prime minister promised new assistance Friday to the 200,000 people affected by waters covering an area larger than France and Germany combined. Residents were stocking up on food or evacuating their homes as rising rivers inundated or isolated 22 towns in the state of Queensland. Officials say half of Queensland’s 715,305 square miles is affected by the relentless flooding, which began last week after days of pounding rain caused swollen rivers to overflow.

A winter storm pummeled the western U.S. on Thursday with fierce wind gusts, heavy rain and more than 2 feet of snow, closing hundreds of miles of roads. Officials closed a road into Yosemite National Park in California after a rock the size of a dump truck tumbled onto the road, and strong winds created snow dunes on rooftops, front yards and streets across mountainous areas of Arizona. Snow and ice forced an hours-long closure of the two major thoroughfares in northern Arizona, stranding motorists south of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. People in Phoenix were stunned at the sight of snow-type flurries that the National Weather Service said were a combination of hail and snow that melts before it hits the ground.

A strong storm system made driving dangerous in the Rockies and the upper Plains and contributed to a pileup involving about 100 vehicles Thursday near Fargo, North Dakota, officials said. “It is not fit for anyone to be out there,” North Dakota State Highway Patrol Capt. Eldon Mehrer told CNN radio. Snow, ice and rain plagued much of the West, and North Dakota officials closed Interstate I-94 between Jamestown and Fargo and the north-south Interstate 29 from the Canadian border to South Dakota. Across much of the state, rescuers gave up trying to get vehicles out of ditches and concentrated on picking up stranded motorists using snowmobiles and buses.

Emergency workers in Washington County, Arkansas have confirmed three people are dead after a possible tornado touchdown in the small town of Cincinnati in northwestern Arkansas. The emergency workers are working to free several people trapped in buildings hit by the storm. Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport is closed now because of debris on the runway. A line of storms that passed through Oklahoma early Friday is rapidly moving into northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri and the weather service has issued a handful of tornado warnings in the area.

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