CPAC Homosexual Sponsor Drives Conservative Groups Away

Several pro-family organizations have announced they won’t attend an upcoming conservative gathering in Washington, DC, because among its sponsors is a homosexual activist group. The American Conservative Union’s (ACU) Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is normally one of the largest annual gatherings for conservative activists and a platform for Republican presidential candidates. However, this year’s event, scheduled for February 10-12 in Washington, DC, will be missing some major conservative heavy-hitters, including the American Family Association (AFA), the Family Research Council (FRC) and Concerned Women for America (CWA), as those groups boycott CPAC because it is receiving sponsorship from the homosexual group, GOProud. The activist group has strongly supported the effort to repeal the exclusion of homosexuals from military service. Another prominent pro-family group, Focus on the Family, announced earlier this week it is also considering ending its sponsorship of the conference in the future.

Apple Now calls Christian Belief “Objectionable”

Shockingly Apple has turned the Manhattan Declaration down again, and they ask you to act at once.  Please call (408-996-1010) or email Steve Jobs (sjobs@apple.com) at Apple today and tell him of your displeasure.
As you know, on December 8 we re-filed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone app with nothing except the Declaration and the opportunity to sign showing support. Apple rejected the app, saying in a letter on December 22 that the app contains “references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected.  We have evaluated the content of this application and consider its contents to be objectionable and potentially harmful to others.” What this means is that the teachings of the Bible itself are offensive, even dangerous and are being censored.

o          To read the Manhattan Declaration pledge of Christian values go to www.manhattandeclaration.org

States to Target Birthright Citizenship

Arizona state politicians will introduce model legislation this week to encourage states to prevent children of illegal immigrants from being granted citizenship under the 14th Amendment. Lawmakers in at least 14 states have said they are committed to passing the legislation targeting birthright citizenship. At least seven states are likely to pass bills similar to the first Arizona immigration overhaul this year. Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce will unveil the bill Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Pearce argues that the “original intent” of the 14th Amendment was to grant citizenship to freed U.S. slaves, and that it was never meant to apply to the children of foreigners.

Islamic Countries Dominate Open Door Persecution List

Despite Communist North Korea topping the annual Open Doors World Watch List (WWL) for the ninth consecutive year, the most dangerous countries in which to practice Christianity are overwhelmingly Islamic ones. Of the top 10 countries on the 2011 WWL, eight have Islamic majorities. Persecution has increased in seven of them. They are Iran, which clamps down on a growing house church movement; Afghanistan, where thousands of believers cluster deep underground; and Saudi Arabia, which still refuses to allow any Saudi person to convert to Christianity. Others are lawless Somalia, ruled by bloodthirsty terrorists threatening to kill Christian aid workers who feed Somalia’s starving, impoverished people; tiny Maldives, which mistakenly boasts it is 100 percent Islamic; Yemen with its determination to expel all Christian workers; and Iraq, which saw extremists massacre 58 Christians in a Baghdad cathedral on Oct. 31. Of the top 30 countries, only seven have a source other than Islamic extremists as the main persecutors of Christians. The annual World Watch List is compiled by the research department of Open Doors International. It tracks the shifting conditions under which Christians live in 77 societies and then ranks the top 50 where it is hardest to practice the Christian faith.

House Republicans Challenge Obama on Debt Limit

In power scarcely a day, House Republicans bluntly told the White House on Thursday its request to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit will require federal spending cuts to win their approval, laying down an early gauntlet in a new era of divided government.  Speaker John Boehner made the challenge as the new GOP majority voted to cut funding for House members’ own offices and committee operations by $35 million. Rank-and-file Republicans described that vote as a mere down payment on a much more ambitious assault on record federal deficits. Boehner, R-Ohio, also said emphatically he is standing by a pre-election pledge to cut government spending by at least $100 billion this year. “No ifs, ands, or buts about it,” he said, despite recent comments from other Republicans the total might be overly ambitious.

Pentagon Plans to Cut 47,000 Ground Troops

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, citing the country’s “dire fiscal situation,” announced Thursday that U.S. ground forces will be cut by up to 47,000 troops by 2015 as part of Pentagon belt-tightening. The Pentagon, like all government departments, will have to live with slimmer budgets, given “the nation’s grim financial outlook,” Gates said. The White House has ordered the Pentagon to budget for relatively small annual increases for the next five years. Its budget next year will be $553 billion, or $13 billion less than expected, but still 3% higher than last year. In all, Gates announced plans that will allow the military to save $150 billion over five years. The money saved by the services will be transferred to other programs, such as buying more drones for the Air Force and to pay for higher-than-expected costs for fuel, health care and other bills.

Panel: Gulf oil Spill Could Happen Again

Disasters like the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig could happen again without significant reform, according to the conclusions of a presidential panel that has the companies involved in the nation’s largest oil spill pointing fingers at each other again. In a 48-page excerpt of its final report obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, the commission described systemic problems within the offshore oil and gas industry and government regulators who oversee it. The oil spill commission said poor decisions led to technical problems that contributed to the April 20 accident that killed 11 people and led to more than 200 million gallons of oil spewing from BP’s well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Inquiries by BP and Congress have found the same. Meanwhile, the Justice Department continues its own investigation, as does a joint U.S. Coast Guard-Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement panel.

  • How many groups need to study this? Typical bureaucratic overkill which most likely will result in more regulation with little actual effect. Greedy, unscrupuous corporations will always find and exploit loopholes.

Undersea Bugs Ate Natural Gas Released in Oil Spill

Deep sea bacteria completely devoured much of the natural gas released in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a scientific team concluded Thursday. The findings help build the case that ocean bottom bugs are a natural biofilter that regularly dine on natural seeps of methane, or natural gas, and related chemicals worldwide. Methane was the most abundant component of the summer oil spill. About 220,000 tons was released from April to July. The finding adds to evidence that deepwater microbes also consumed other “light” crude oil constituents, such as propane and ethanol, released in the spill. Measures suggest only 0.01% of the methane released in the spill still lingered. Intense water pressure and cold temperatures at the spill site, 5,000 feet deep, kept much of the methane trapped in underwater layers, where the microbes could feast on the gas, instead of allowing it to bubble to the surface.

New Alzheimer’s Law Aims to Coordinate Efforts, Strategy

Alzheimer’s disease, already a national epidemic according to experts, got a lift this week. On Tuesday, President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) into law. NAPA’s aim is to create a coordinated national strategy that deals with Alzheimer’s, a brain-wasting condition projected to leap from 5.3 million cases this year into the double digits by midcentury. The number of Alzheimer’s cases has increased more than 50% from 2000 to 2007. No. 6 on the list of top 10 causes of death in the USA, Alzheimer’s is the only one without an effective way to prevent, cure or even slow the disease, says Robert Egge, the Alzheimer’s Association’s vice president of public policy. Though the new law doesn’t in itself deliver money for research to find a cure or support services for patients and caregivers grappling with the disease, it will help establish an interagency council that will work with the secretary of Health and Human Services to give a full assessment of what needs to be accomplished to stem the disease.

  • Will another government initialed commission really change things? Experience suggests not. Better to invest in university and non-profit research.

2nd Ariz. Patient Dies, Denied Transplant Due to Budget Cuts

A second patient denied a transplant because of Arizona budget cuts has died, according to the University Medical Center in Tucson. The unidentified patient, who was waiting for a new liver, died Dec. 28, the Arizona Republic reports. On Oct. 1, the state stopped paying for certain organ transplants for patients covered by Medicaid. About 95 to 100 people were taken off the waiting list, the Arizona Daily Star says.

  • How about cutting government bureaucracy instead of killing people?

2 Million Fish Found Dead in Maryland

Authorities in Maryland are investigating the deaths of about 2 million fish in Chesapeake Bay. “Natural causes appear to be the reason,” the Maryland Department of the Environment said in a news release. “Cold water stress exacerbated by a large population of the affected species (juvenile spot fish) appears to be the cause of the kill.” The investigation comes days after the deaths of an estimated 100,000 fish in northwest Arkansas. Authorities suspect disease was to blame there, a state spokesman said. In Maryland, preliminary tests showed water quality to be acceptable, officials said.

  • Is this the beginning of the end-time plagues prophesied in Revelation where 1/3 of all marine life will die?

Fireworks Likely Cause of Massive Ark. Bird Kill

It wasn’t a secret government spraying program, Martians or gas seeping out of the New Madrid fault that killed the 5,000 or so blackbirds that died New Year’s Eve in Beebe, Ark. It was someone shooting off professional grade fireworks in a residential district, scaring the night-blind birds out of their roost into a 25-mph flight that ran them into houses, signs and even the ground, says Karen Rowe, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission ornithologist. “They were bouncing off houses, basketball backboards, trucks,” she says. Rowe made her observations Wednesday as Game and Fish officials got back further results from necropsies on the dead birds.

Good Deeds Fall Victim to Bad Times

The sour economy is making it hard for non-profit groups to find volunteers as need grows and budget cuts force them to rely more on unpaid help. Some prospective volunteers are busy job hunting, working second jobs or returning to work after a spouse’s layoff. Others don’t want volunteer work that requires driving because of high gas prices. “The economy is having a huge impact on people having the time and wherewithal to volunteer,” says Jennifer Smith Turner, CEO of Girl Scouts of Connecticut, which has a waiting list of a few hundred girls because of a shortage of volunteer troop leaders. In Monroe County, Pa., 10 people won’t get food from Meals on Wheels until 16 volunteer drivers are found, Executive Director Mimi Mikels says. “It’s only going to get worse as gas prices increase,” she says. “If you’re unemployed, it’s money you don’t have.”

U.S. Population Growing, but More Slowly

Despite the slowest decade of population growth since the Great Depression, the USA remains the world’s fastest-growing industrialized nation and the globe’s third-most populous country at a time when some are actually shrinking. The United States reached 308.7 million in 2010, up 9.7% since 2000 — a slight slowdown that many experts say was caused by the recession and less immigration. The U.S. is one of the few industrialized countries that has a fertility rate close to replacement level. The rate of births needed for a generation to replace itself is an average 2.1 per woman. The USA’s is at 2.06. “Between 2010 and 2050, Europe’s population will actually decline,” says Carl Haub, senior demographer at the non-profit Population Reference Bureau. “In most developed countries, raising the birth rate is a national priority.” The worry is less about size than population imbalance: More elderly people who need social support but fewer young people who work and help a nation’s economy thrive.

Number of Poor in U.S. Millions Higher

The number of poor people in the U.S. is millions higher than previously known, with 1 in 6 Americans— many of them 65 and older — struggling in poverty due to rising medical care and other costs, according to preliminary census figures released Wednesday. At the same time, government aid programs such as tax credits and food stamps kept many people out of poverty, helping to ensure the poverty rate did not balloon even higher during the recession in 2009. Under a new revised census formula, overall poverty in 2009 stood at 15.7%, or 47.8 million people. That’s compared to the official 2009 rate of 14.3%, or 43.6 million, that was reported by the Census Bureau last September. Across all demographic groups, Americans 65 and older sustained the largest increases in poverty under the revised formula — nearly doubling to 16.1%. As a whole, working-age adults 18-64 also saw increases in poverty, as well as whites and Hispanics.Tthe Northeast and West were the regions mostly likely to have poor people — nearly 1 in 5 in the West.

IRS Tax Liens Jump by 60%

IRS liens filed against taxpayers jumped 60% since the start of the national recession, according to a new federal report that urges the tax agency to moderate the collection policy and study its effectiveness. The IRS filed more than 1 million liens in federal fiscal year 2010, the highest in nearly two decades and a spike from the nearly 684,000 filed in the year ahead of the recession’s December 2007. Although the IRS has taken some steps to aid financially struggling taxpayers, it “has continued the trend toward more lien filings despite the worst economy in at least a generation” — with serious financial impact on some of those unable to pay, the taxpayer National Taxpayer Advocate report concluded. “Lien filings can badly damage or destroy a taxpayer’s creditworthiness because they are picked up by the credit-rating agencies and retained on the taxpayer’s credit reports for seven years from the date the tax liability is resolved, or longer if it is not resolved,” wrote Nina Olson, who heads the Taxpayer Advocate’s office.Tthe report said it is “questionable whether liens generate much, if any, direct revenue.”

Economic News

The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 9.4% in December, lowest since May 2009, as businesses added 103,000 jobs, the Labor Department said Friday. The Labor Department says the 103,000 jobs added in December are an improvement from November’s revised total of 71,000. But the growth is far below most analysts’ expectations. The drop in the unemployment rate was partly because the government no longer counts people as unemployed when they stop looking for work.

More people applied for unemployment benefits last week, one week after applications fell to their lowest level in more than two years. The Labor Department says applications rose 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 409,000 in the week ending Jan. 1. Economists say applications need to fall consistently to 375,000 or below to substantially bring down the unemployment rate. Applications for unemployment benefits peaked during the recession at 651,000 in March 2009.

Strong consumer demand pushed a key measure of the U.S. economy’s service sector last month to its highest level in more than four years. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said Wednesday that its index of service sector activity rose to 57.1 in December, up from 55 the previous month. Any reading above 50 indicates growth. The increase marks the 12th straight month of expansion for the sector, which employs 80% of the work force. It includes industries from health care to retail to financial services. The index is at its highest point since May 2006.

China

Last year, China became the world’s second-largest economy — behind the United States — overtaking Japan, which had held that ranking since 1968. China’s rising influence can be seen not just in the goods for sale in Tokyo, but across Japanese society: Chinese investors here are snapping up real estate and setting up homes and businesses. Its foreign-exchange students are flocking to Japanese universities. Chinese tourists also are arriving in greater numbers, boosting Japan’s sagging economy with their spending. The China-fication of pockets of Japan’s proud and nationalistic society is as much a tale of Japan’s decades-long stagnation as it is of China’s rise. This shift in power brings economic, social and cultural implications for Asia, the USA and the rest of the world. China’s rapid rise means the Japanese can’t take it for granted that they’ll remain dominant in any field, including technology.

Russia

Russia’s legislature says the New START nuclear arms treaty ratified last month by the U.S. Senate restricts the U.S. from building and operating missile defenses against nuclear attacks. President Obama says the opposite: that the treaty “places no limitations on the development or deployment of our missile defense programs.” There may never have been such a huge dispute on such a fundamental aspect of a high profile treaty between two major world powers. As reported by the Voice of Russia on Monday, Russia’s Duma, the lower house of parliament, “plans to confirm the link between the reduction of the strategic offensive arms and the restriction of antimissile defense systems’ deployment in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START),” according to the lawmaking body’s foreign policy chief. The Russian news agency quoted the chairman of the Duma Committee on International Affairs, Konstantin Kosachev, who was apparently sneering that U.S. negotiators had been tricked. Kosachev claimed, “our American colleagues do not recognize the legal force of the treaty’s preamble. The preamble sets a link between strategic offensive arms and defensive arms.”

Israel

Israeli Air Force Commander Major General Ido Nehushtan briefed reporters about the dangers and challenges Israel is facing in this New Year. He described 2011 as a “critical year” particularly with regard to the threat of Iran completing work on its nuclear weapons program. According to General Nehushtan, Israel’s task of planning for all the different threats it may face is complicated by a military buildup of Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the governments of Syria and Iran. There have been developments in the amount of missiles and rockets that are in our enemies’ hands,” he said. “We assume that in the future, IAF bases will be a target. We are aware of this and are preparing accordingly.”

Afghanistan

The United States plans to send more than 1,000 Marines to Afghanistan soon, a U.S. military official told CNN on Thursday. The Marines will support the expansion of security efforts in southern Afghanistan, and they will be on the ground for only a few months, the official said. “We intend to keep the pressure on the Taliban throughout the winter and take advantage of the security gains already achieved,” the official said. A Pentagon spokeswoman told CNN there are about 97,000 U.S. service members deployed to Afghanistan.

A suicide bomber struck a bath house in a southern Afghan city as men gathered to wash up before Friday prayers, killing 17 people, including a border police officer who was the apparent target, Twenty-three other people were wounded. NATO also announced Friday that one of its service members was killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan. The blast reflected the continuing instability in Afghanistan, particularly in the southern part of the country. That area has traditionally been the Taliban’s stronghold and the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of a war that is approaching the start of its 10th year.

Greece

A Greek radical anarchist group has threatened to blow up judges officiating over the trial of suspected group members as it claimed responsibility on Wednesday for a powerful blast outside an Athens courthouse. The Dec. 30 court bombing severely damaged the building and parked cars, but caused no injuries. “From now on, their (the judges) personal safety is in direct jeopardy,” Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire said in an online posting on a left wing website on Wednesday. “We publicly pledge that, for every year in prison that our brothers receive, we will plant a kilo of explosives in (judges’) front yards, cars and offices.” The suspected group members are due to be tried on Jan. 17 on terrorism charges for a string of bombings against Greek politicians.

Somalia

Two years after international forces dispatched a flotilla of warships to counter piracy around the Horn of Africa, attacks on merchant ships are rising again. Last year, pirates captured 53 ships in the region, up from 51 in 2009, according to the Combined Maritime Forces, which oversees the operations. There were 160 attempted attacks in 2010, up from 145 the year before. Pirates have shifted tactics so they can prey on merchant ships farther out at sea and evade an international flotilla that was dispatched to the Horn of Africa region to protect heavily used shipping lanes. Currently 31 ships are being held with more than 600 crewmen. Most were seized by Somali pirates and are held off the coast of this lawless African country.

Honduras

Gunmen killed four women and four children, including an 18-month boy, and wounded three others Thursday in an attack on a minibus in Honduras. The attack in eastern Honduras came three days after the bombing of a bus in neighboring Guatemala killed 6 people. The motive in the Guatemala attack appears to be related to extortion by street gangs.

Weather

Two separate winter storms — one in the Northeast and one in the South — could wreak travel havoc Friday and into the weekend. Beyond this weekend’s messy weather, meteorologists see no break in the wintry pattern for the next several weeks as the USA shivers toward what could be its coldest January since 1985. Another storm took aim at New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg was still under fire for slow cleanup of a stubborn winter blast that kept streets clogged for days and delayed trash pickups, causing uncollected garbage to pile up for more than a week. Up to six inches more snow is possible beginning Friday.

Near-freezing temperatures and icy Himalayan winds have killed dozens of people in northern India over the past two weeks and forced schools to close in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is one of India’s poorest states with nearly a fifth of its 180 million people homeless. In New Delhi, at least 10 homeless people died from the cold weather over the past two weeks despite a drive by police and welfare officials to persuade people living on the streets to sleep in 80 city-run shelters. Authorities in Lucknow arranged 74 bonfires at major road crossings, hospitals, and bus and railway stations to keep people from dying from the cold.

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