Healthcare Repeal Fails in Senate

To hear Senate Republicans tell it, the defeat of their attempt to repeal the Democrats’ health care overhaul was really a victory of sorts on the long the march to the 2012 congressional and presidential elections. The repeal effort sank Wednesday along party lines, 51-47 as expected. But in the process, Republicans forced Democrats on the record in favor of President Barack Obama’s signature overhaul and launched what they described as a two-year effort to discredit it in the lead-up to a bid for a second term. Two federal judges have ruled the law is unconstitutional, partially or in its entirety, citing a requirement for individuals to purchase coverage and pay a penalty in taxes if they fail to do so. Two other judges have upheld the law. The controversy is all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Evangelical Chaplains May Face Ultimatum

Gordon James Klingenschmitt is a former Navy chaplain who was forced out of the service in 2007 for praying in Jesus’ name. He says the Obama Pentagon wants to purge evangelical, Bible-preaching chaplains from the service by giving them an ultimatum — “reconcile” with homosexual sin, or quit. Pentagon leaders preparing to impose open homosexuality on the military are serving notice that discrimination against the deviant lifestyle will not be tolerated. Officials said they will complete implementation plans for the new policy by Friday, February 4, and will commence indoctrination training this month.

  • The elimination of Christian influence throughout government and society is a key objective of Satan and the New World Order folks.

Planned Parenthood Exposed Once Again

The Family Research Council reports that over the last few years, Planned Parenthood has been exposed for all kinds of alleged criminal activity–everything from covering up statutory rape and sexual abuse to accepting donations for race-based abortions. In an explosive new undercover video by Lila Rose, it looks like Planned Parenthood has expanded its broad range of services. According to Amy Woodruff, a clinic manager in New Jersey, the organization that rakes in more than $363 million taxpayer dollars a year is more than willing to help a local pimp hide a ring of child prostitutes. Just two weeks ago, Woodruff was caught on tape advising him how he could make his underage girls look “as legit as possible.”

Wikileaks Source Unfit for Military Duty

Pfc. Bradley Manning — the accused source of the WikiLeaks document scandal — was not fit for deployment because of behavioral problems, a military official tells Fox News. However, Iraq war commanders, in desperate need of intelligence analysts, ignored recommendations from low-level military officials at Fort Drum and deployed him anyway. Once in Iraq, Manning’s behavior deteriorated. Manning would later be accused of committing the largest breach of secret information in U.S. history. The Army investigation now is focused on three of Manning’s superiors who may be held accountable for failing to properly respond to Manning’s problems. Perhaps most importantly, the investigation finds that Manning’s supervisors failed to secure the Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF) where Manning allegedly downloaded the files from classified military computers.

ATF Accused of Allowing Assault Weapons into Mexico

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms — the agency tasked with keeping U.S. guns from being smuggled to Mexico — has come under fire for allegedly allowing firearms to cross the border into Mexico. Last Friday, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the ATF stating that his office had “received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the Southwest border area and into Mexico.” Grassley noted that “there are serious concerns that the ATF may have become careless, if not negligent, in implementing the Gunrunner strategy.” Gunrunner is the name of the ATF operation to keep guns from entering Mexico.

Census Shows Big Gains for U.S. Minorities

U.S. racial minorities accounted for roughly 85% of the nation’s population growth over the last decade — one of the largest shares ever — with Hispanics accounting for most of the gain in many of the states picking up new House seats. Preliminary census estimates also suggest the number of multiracial Americans jumped roughly 20% since 2000, to over 5 million. “There are going to be a lot of additional Hispanic officials elected when redistricting is done,” said E. Mark Braden, a former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee who now advises state governments on redistricting. Four of the eight states gaining House seats owe roughly half or more of their population gains over the last decade to Hispanics. They include Texas, which picks up four seats; Florida, which will add two seats; and Arizona and Nevada, picking up one seat apiece.

Global Obesity Rates Double Since 1980

The world is becoming a heavier place, especially in the West. Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades even as blood pressure and cholesterol levels have dropped, according to three new studies. In 1980, about 5% of men and 8% of women worldwide were obese. By 2008, the rates were nearly 10% for men and 14% for women. That means 205 million men and 297 million women weighed in as obese. Another 1.5 billion adults were overweight. People nearly everywhere are piling on the pounds, except in a few places including central Africa and South Asia. Among developed countries, Americans are the fattest and the Japanese are the slimmest. Experts warned the increasing numbers of obese people could lead to a “global tsunami of cardiovascular disease.” Obesity is also linked to higher rates of cancer, diabetes and is estimated to cause about 3 million deaths worldwide every year.

States Fighting to Limit Federal Government Authority

From new laws targeting illegal immigrants to lawsuits over federal health-care reform, Arizona is seeking myriad opportunities to take back power from a federal government that it believes has overstepped its authority. Proponents, including Gov. Jan Brewer and many GOP lawmakers, call their effort renewed federalism and cheer the push to reassert states’ rights. Opponents say it is nothing but a waste of time and money that serves only to distract voters from the real problems facing the state. Either way, it’s a fight that’s picking up steam, both in Arizona and nationally. Twenty-five other states are part of a lawsuit that says that the federal government cannot force people to buy health insurance. State lawmakers throughout the country are considering introducing or already have introduced legislation that would mirror Arizona’s Senate Immigration Bill 1070. And local legislators say there is growing interest in further efforts to limit congressional spending and federal authority on such wide-ranging issues as elections and environmental inspections.

  • The U.S. Constitution limits federalism while extolling states rights. The feds takeover of many state issues and programs is illegal and needs to be scaled back.

TSA Invades Roads & Highways With VIPR Checkpoints

The TSA has announced its intention to expand the VIPR program to include roadside inspections of commercial vehicles, setting up a network of internal checkpoints and rolling out security procedures already active in airports, bus terminals and subway stations to roads and highways across the United States. Up until now, commercial trucks and other vehicles only were subject to warrantless searches and radiation scans at specially designated “state-owned inspection stations” traditionally set up at rest stops next to highways. These internal checkpoints, run by Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the TSA, involve trucks being scanned with backscatter x-ray devices in the name of “safety” and “counter terrorism”. These inspection stations are now being expanded to normal roads and highways, unleashing an army of TSA agents who will be given a free hand to “litter America with internal checkpoints in a chilling throwback to Soviet-style levels of control over the population,” according to Infowars.com.

Snow Dumping Raises Issues in Northeast

Snow from the East Coast’s insistent winter is being plowed into banks that are narrowing up roads and highway ramps like hardening arteries, blocking drivers’ sight lines, and forcing schoolchildren to break paths like cattle down buried sidewalks. In a normal winter, the snow melts on a good day or is carted off to designated dumps where it eventually filters its pollutants through the earth or is treated before ending up in sewers. This is not a normal winter. Many East Coast cities, including Boston, Hartford, Conn., and New York are on their way to setting seasonal snowfall records, and the extra snow means extra road salt and human refuse that gets swept up by plows.

Imagine the East Coast’s largest cities mixing a brew of salt, motor oil, trash and grocery carts and dumping it into rivers and harbors. It’s allowed in emergency situations, and some officials staring at massive snow mountains in densely populated areas of the winter-walloped Northeast say that time is now, even as others warn dumping snow in water comes with big problems. Some states and municipalities restrict dumping snow into waterways out of fear of harming water life and polluting drinking water. Massachusetts is one of them. Even so, state Sen. Jack Hart has called for a “Boston snow party,” with snow being poured into Boston Harbor like tea was long ago. But Boston has yet to seek to dump its snow in water. It has found room for nearly 71 inches of snow this year, about 50 inches more than it usually gets by this time of year.

Southern States Blowing Snow Budgets

Snow plows flinging salt and sand on Southern roadways might as well be shooting out dollar bills — millions of them. States and municipalities across the Southeast are running in the red for snow removal this winter. North Carolina has already exhausted its $30 million state snow removal budget this year. Tennessee is already $10.2 million over budget this year with statewide expenditures of nearly $25 million. Virginia had spent $107.7 million as of Jan. 30. Its budget this year is $115.1 million, Some states increased snow removal budgets this year after last year’s hard winter. Tennessee’s is up $2.7 million and Virginia $21.4 million. Others, including North Carolina, did not.

Economic News

The unemployment rate for January fell to 9%, the lowest level in nearly two years, the Labor Department reports. However, the economy only added a meager 36,000 jobs. The January report illustrates how job growth remains the economy’s weakest spot, even as other economic indicators point to a recovery that is strengthening. It takes about 125,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth.

  • Recent drops in the unemployment rate are due mostly to the long-term unemployed dropping off the unemployment benefit rolls

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week, reversing a spike from the previous week largely caused by harsh winter weather. Applications for benefits dropped by 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 415,000 in the week ending Jan. 29, the Labor Department said Thursday. Applications are well below their peak of 651,000, reached in March 2009, when the economy was deep in recession. Fewer than 425,000 people applying for benefits is consistent with modest job growth. But applications will need to fall consistently below 375,000 to signal a likely decline in the unemployment rate.

The Census Department reports that vacant home totaled 18.4 million in the fourth quarter, meaning 11 percent of all housing units are vacant year-round, according to CNBC. The country’s home ownership rate, after holding steady for months, dropped to 66.5 percent in the fourth quarter from 66.9 percent in the third quarter. That’s the lowest level since 1998.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed laying off nearly 10,000 state workers and cutting billions from education and Medicaid as he laid out his first budget on Tuesday, designed to close a $10 billion deficit. New York state is functionally bankrupt. We have to think in terms of restructuring because New York doesn’t work anymore,” Cuomo told legislators, who must approve the budget plan. The Democratic governor proposed no new or increased taxes.

The near-zero inflation era may be ending. Prices are rising slightly, and economists expect a steady climb as the recovery gains steam. The uptick is largely driven by surging food, energy, cotton and other global commodity prices as economic growth heats up significantly in China and emerging markets. The consumer price index in December rose 1.5% from a year ago, the most since May. Yet, wholesale prices for finished goods jumped 4%, indicating firms were being squeezed. U.S. firms largely absorbed higher costs last year in the belief that price increases would drive away penny-pinching consumers in a weak recovery. But they can withstand shrunken profit margins only so long.

World food prices rose to an all-time high in January, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization  The FAO’s Food Price Index measures the cost of a basket of basic food supplies — sugar, cereals, dairy, oils and fats and meat — across the globe. The index rose by 3.4% in January — the seventh monthly increase in a row. FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian said high prices were likely to persist in the months to come. Rising commodities costs are one of the major factors behind a growing wave of civil unrest across the Middle East and North Africa. Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, economist Nouriel Roubini warned that rapidly rising food prices posed a serious threat to global stability.

Al-Qaida Could Have Nuclear Bomb

Al-Qaida has the time, materials and talent to assemble radioactive “dirty” bombs, according to leaked documents obtained by the London Telegraph newspaper. The cables, released on the WikiLeaks website, reveal that NATO security chiefs briefed leaders in January 2009 that al-Qaida had an active unit assembling “dirty radioactive improvised explosive devices (IEDs)” using rogue nuclear scientists. The makeshift nuclear bombs, which could be used against soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, would contaminate the surrounding area for years to come, the Telegraph reported. The leaked reports also gave examples of nuclear smuggling. One memo detailed how a freight train on the Kazakhstan-Russia border was found to be carrying weapons-grade material while a “small-time” dealer in Lisbon tried to sell radioactive plates stolen from Chernobyl, the Telegraph reported.

Israel Prepares for Islamic Terror

Newsmax reports that Israel is bracing for the establishment of an Iranian proxy-state in Egypt should the Muslim Brotherhood take over control of the government, as appears increasingly likely. With the White House now giving full-throated support to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman scheduled to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Cairo, Israel is preparing for the worst. After years of ducking from Iranian-supplied Kassam rockets from Gaza, Israelis now fear their cities and towns could get hit with the full brunt of the Iranian arsenal as Iran replaces the United States as Egypt’s main arms supplier. Israelis fear that Egypt could become “part of the Iranian pact in the Middle East along with Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the other thugs,” said Mordechai Kedar, a former Israeli military intelligence analyst now with the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel. A Muslim Brotherhood takeover could lead to the imposition of Shariah, with far-reaching implications for the rights of women, Christians and minorities, and dramatic changes in Egypt’s relationships to its neighbors.

Egyptian Protests Continue

Thousands of protesters packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday waving Egyptian flags, cheering and singing the national anthem on the 11th day of protests for what is being called a “Day of Departure,” a final push to try to topple the government of President Hosni Mubarak. After a night of calm many demonstrators were on edge, saying that the large turnout after afternoon prayers could inspire violence. Protesters passed through a series of beefed-up checkpoints by the military which guarded the perimeter of the square. Soldiers checked IDs to make sure those entering were not police or ruling party members. About 5,000 people have been injured in Egypt’s protests, says the nation’s health minister. Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi visited the square Friday morning and talked to protesters, the most prominent government official to do so in more than 10 days of unprecedented demonstrations demanding an end of Mubarak’s nearly 30 year rule. Mubarak told ABC News Thursday that he wants to step down but that doing so would spark chaos. The Obama administration said it was in talks with top Egyptian officials about the possibility of Mubarak immediately resigning, and an interim government forming before free and fair elections this year.

Jordan, Yemen Grapple with Effects of Protests

The ripples of protest in the Middle East have led to changes in Jordan and Yemen. Demonstrators in Jordan demanded Wednesday that King Abdullah II dump his newly appointed prime minster, and Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed not to seek re-election. Hamza Mansour, a leader of the political wing of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, demanded that Jordanians be allowed to elect a prime minister. The Muslim Brotherhood has also joined the Egyptian protests. Thousands of people have massed in the streets of Amman, Jordan’s capital, in the past four weeks, demanding measures to ease poverty and an end to corruption.

Tens of thousands of protesters Thursday staged unprecedented demonstrations against Yemen’s autocratic president, a key U.S. ally in battling Islamic militants, as unrest inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spread further in the Arab world. The West is particularly concerned about instability in Yemen, home of the terrorist network al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. counterterrorism officials are worried that Yemeni security forces will be more focused on protecting the government, allowing al-Qaeda to take advantage of any diminished scrutiny.

Myanmar

Myanmar’s newly elected parliament named a key figure in the long-ruling military junta as president Friday, ensuring that the first civilian government in decades will be dominated by the army that has brutally suppressed dissent. The appointment of Thein Sein, 65, was the latest step in Myanmar’s self-declared transition to democracy following elections in November, but critics including recently freed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have slammed the process as a sham aimed at cementing military rule. The military’s delegates in parliament and their civilian allies hold an 80% majority in the new legislature.

Afghanistan

The reputation of the Afghan police has deteriorated in the south of the country in the past year, according to a U.N. survey released Thursday, despite a campaign by NATO and U.S. troops to strengthen Afghan security forces in a region seen as key to defeating the Taliban insurgency. The U.S. has poured thousands of troops into southern Afghanistan in the past year in an attempt to drive Taliban out of their strongholds. The international forces have been partnered with Afghan soldiers and police at a much closer level than previously in an attempt to train up the Afghan forces and build confidence in their ability to secure the population. This strengthening of Afghan forces is seen as key to allowing international troops to start going home. The U.S. has said it hopes to start drawing down forces in July and the Afghan government has committed to taking over responsibility for security countrywide by 2014. But the Afghan police continue to be seen as untrustworthy by many. Sixty% of those surveyed reported a significant level of corruption among police officers and more than 25% said they had seen police officers using drugs or narcotics.

Iraq

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Iran and Syria of arming insurgents in September 2009 — a charge that would add weight to American claims that the neighboring countries were launching pads for violence in Iraq. The allegations were made more than a month after deadly bombings against Iraqi government buildings that led to a dispute with Syria over allegations that Damascus was harboring Sunni insurgents. Washington also has frequently claimed Tehran was backing Shiite militias loyal to anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Nigeria

The central Nigerian city of Jos was brought to a standstill Monday as thousands of women dressed in black marched through the streets to protest the continuing violence in Plateau State. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports that the women, some of whom were half-dressed in a cultural sign of deep mourning and desperation, marched to the state governor’s official residence in Jishe. There they denounced discrimination against Christians in northern Nigeria and called for the military forces stationed in Jos, which are viewed as biased, to be replaced by the mobile police. The women’s anger was further fuelled by the deaths of a woman and child during an attack on a village in Vom on the previous night. In response, Jos Governor Jang pleaded for restraint and understanding, adding that a gradual withdrawal of troops was already underway.

Weather

No one was reported killed by the monstrous Cyclone Yasi, which roared across northern Queensland with winds up to 170 mph (280 kph). Tidal surges sent waves crashing ashore two blocks into seaside communities, several small towns directly under Yasi’s eye were devastated and hundreds of millions of dollars of banana and sugarcane crops were shredded. Officials said lives were spared because, after days of increasingly dire warnings, people followed instructions to flee to evacuation centers or bunker themselves at home in dozens of cities and towns in Yasi’s path. Hundreds of houses were destroyed or seriously damaged, and the homes of thousands more people would be barely livable until the wreckage was cleared, officials said. Piles of drenched mattresses, sodden stuffed animals, shattered glass and twisted metal roofs lay strewn across lawns in the hardest-hit towns. The region is considered a tourist gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but whether the storm caused damage to the reef was not yet known.

An enormous winter storm left Midwesterners shivering in its frozen footprint and crushed snow-laden buildings in the Northeast, where a combination of ice, snow and rain pushed much of the winter-cursed region to its breaking point. Wind chills dipped to nearly 30 below in parts of the nation’s midsection early Thursday as the region began dealing with the storm’s aftermath. The sprawling system unloaded as much as 2 feet of snow, crippled airports and stranded drivers in downtown Chicago as if in a prairie blizzard. Even the sunny Southwest wasn’t spared: Freezing temperatures delayed Thursday’s opening round of the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Ariz., and led to school closures in parts of New Mexico.

As the 2,000-mile-long storm cloaked the region in ice and added inches to the piles of snow already settled across the landscape. In Middletown, Conn., the entire third floor of a building failed, littering the street with bricks and snapping two trees. A gas station canopy on New York’s Long Island collapsed, as did an airplane hangar near Boston, damaging aircraft. Roof cave-ins also were reported in Rhode Island. This was the seventh major winter storm to hit portions of the USA over the past six weeks.

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