Objections Fly Over Rainbow Flag

President Obama has declared June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” — and to the dismay of a pro-family group based in Richmond, Virginia, the Federal Reserve Bank is joining in the celebration. Though The Family Foundation’s new office in Richmond has a beautiful view of the state capitol and the flags, the rainbow flag fluttering above the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond is also in view. Foundation president Virginia Cobb says, “We think the Federal Reserve ought to be focused on the economy rather than focusing on special rights.” Meanwhile, the Mississippi-based American Family Association has received a complaint from a Federal Reserve employee who objects to the flag and what it represents. In reference to the “gay pride” flag flying just below the American flag, the employee wrote in an email: “For the past five or six years, the homosexual agenda has been pushed down our throats. The bank president and vice president have initiated this agenda. This offends me as a Christian.”

  • So, government can’t promote Christianity but they can blatantly endorse the gay agenda?

House Republicans Reject Debt Ceiling Increase

House Republicans gave President Obama an earful on their concerns regarding unemployment, the national debt and government regulation during a meeting Wednesday morning following a decisive vote against raising the debt ceiling. The meeting marked the latest development in budget negotiations which for months have failed to yield a compromise. Without a deal to cut spending, House Republicans say they cannot approve an increase in the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. On the evening before the meeting, a proposal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by another $2.4 trillion failed by a wide margin. The vote was lopsided, with just 97 in favor of the measure and 318 against. Eighty-two Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the increase.

President Obama and House Republicans agreed to disagree on solutions to the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt problem Wednesday at a sometimes-contentious White House meeting that illustrated how difficult it will be to reach a compromise. With two months until the government runs out of cash to pay a long line of creditors, Republicans accused the president of demagoguing their deficit-reduction plan and having none of his own. They vowed that they would not consider tax increases sought by Obama and said entitlements such as Medicare must be cut

Feds Block Indiana’s Cuts to Planned Parenthood Funding

The Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it would prohibit Indiana from carrying out a new state law that cuts off money to Planned Parenthood clinics that serve women on Medicaid; the law targets abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood. HHS said the Indiana law against Planned Parenthood places illegal restrictions on the ability of Medicaid recipients to choose their health care providers. Recall that Planned Parenthood played a big role in the April budget battle that nearly led to a government shutdown; Obama beat back Republican demands to cut federal funding for the organization because of the abortion issue. There’s a political context to all this: Planned Parenthood is a major contributor to Democrats. Also, while Indiana is normally considered a Republican state, Obama carried it in 2008, and would dearly love to do so again next year. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is a major Republican figure who considered running against Obama in 2012.

Military Personnel Frown on Obama Performance

A Gallop poll released Monday shows a disconnect between United States military personnel and civilians in how they feel about the performance of President Barack Obama. Forty-eight percent of civilian respondents approved of Obama’s performance, while just 37 percent of their military counterparts gave the president a favorable review. Older respondents were more likely to give lower marks than younger ones.

Obama’s Appointees Get Low Ratings

President Obama’s political appointees aren’t getting good reviews from career government employees. Government Executive, a part of the National Journal family, says its latest survey “shows strained relationships between senior career federal managers and executives and the political appointees they work with.” It adds that the career people “rated Obama appointees lower than those in previous administrations:” Obama appointees earned a C average, or 2.0, compared with a 2.3 for those in the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations. More than 30 percent gave Obama appointees a D or an F for overall job performance. Obama officials lack functional and agency-specific knowledge, according to survey respondents. “The role [of senior leadership] has increased, but the effectiveness, skill and knowledge has dramatically decreased,” the report notes.

Supreme Court Absolves Ashcroft

Former attorney general John Ashcroft cannot be held responsible for a post-9/11 policy that led to the arrest and detention of a Muslim U.S. citizen, the Supreme Court ruled 8-0 Tuesday. The justices then split over how to assess federal authorities’ questionable use of a material-witness law after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The more liberal justices broke from the conservative majority to question the treatment of Abdullah al-Kidd, who was held for two weeks and never charged with a crime or called to testify. Though the decision shields Ashcroft from a claim for money damages, the ruling leaves open questions about the breadth of the material-witness law and whether it was constitutionally invoked in al-Kidd’s case.

Pentagon Declares Cyber Combat an Act of War

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force. The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military. In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official. Recent attacks on the Pentagon’s own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran’s nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks.

Global War on Drugs a Failure

A report by a global commission on drug policy declares flatly that the global war on drugs has failed, despite harsh measures against traffickers and years of vast expenditures to stamp out narcotics trafficking and use. The 19-member commission, a private venture chaired by ex-Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, includes George Schultz, President Reagan’s secretary of state; Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group; former U.N. secretary general Koffi Anna; George Papandreou, prime minister of Greece; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; and Javier Solana, former EU foreign minister. “Apparent victories in eliminating one source or trafficking organization are negated almost instantly by the emergence of other sources and traffickers,” the report says. Among the commission’s recommedations: end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others; encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.

  • The globalist New World Order folks want nothing more than drugged out citizens under complete government control

IRS Sees Huge Increase in Identity Theft

The IRS is grappling with a nearly five-fold increase in taxpayer identity theft between 2008 and 2010, a Government Accountability Office told a House hearing Thursday. There were 248,357 incidents in 2010, compared to 51,702 in 2008. The must wait for a refund while the IRS sorts out which return is real and which is a fraud. Many identity thieves don’t get prosecuted, according James White, director of strategic issues for the GAO. ”The IRS pursues criminal investigations of suspected identity thieves in only a small number of cases,” White says. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said his criminal division concentrates on schemes of national scope and added that 95 percent of those prosecuted for refund-related identity theft go to prison.

Arizona Sales-Tax Increase Falling Short

For the past year, Arizonans have been paying a penny more per dollar in sales tax in the name of shielding education, public safety and health services from deep state budget cuts. But $1 billion of the $1.1 billion in reductions recently made by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Jan Brewer for the fiscal 2012 budget came from education and health care. That’s why people are saying the promise of last year’s Proposition 100 has not been kept. “There’s a betrayal if you pull money away from the very areas that the tax was supposed to protect,” said Connie Anderson, an executive member of Valley Interfaith Project. It could have been much worse, countered Brewer, who struggled with a reluctant Legislature for a year to get the tax question on the ballot. “If we didn’t have the support of the voters, education would have been cut probably another $80 (million) or $100 million,” Brewer said. “The most vulnerable (people) would have been cut a lot more.”

  • Most everyone wants government debt reduced but virtually no one seems willing to sacrifice their piece of the pie

Economic News

Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remain stuck at levels that signal weak job growth. The Labor Department said that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits for the first time dropped 6,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 422,000. It was the third drop in four weeks. But the declines follow much bigger increases in April. Applications had fallen to 375,000 in late February — a level consistent with sustainable job growth.

A U.S. payrolls survey Wednesday came in surprisingly weak. Private employers added just 38,000 jobs in May, down from 177,000 in April. The figures reinforced fears that the U.S. economic recovery is quickly running out of steam. Reports Wednesday on manufacturing and company hiring were so weak that the Dow Jones industrial average plunged nearly 280 points, or 2.2 percent, wiping out more than one-fourth of the year’s

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities dropped in March to the lowest level since 2003, showing housing remains mired in a slump almost two years into the economic recovery. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities fell 3.6 percent from March 2010, the biggest year-over-year decline since November 2009.

Almost 4 million homes have been lost to foreclosures in the past five years, turning many former owner-occupied homes into rentals. The shift to rental housing is potentially long-lasting and portends changes for neighborhood stability and how people build wealth, economists say. Twenty-five cities — including Baltimore, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Sacramento — swung from having more than half homeowners in 2000 to majorities of renters in 2010.

Farmers can lock in about $6.73 a bushel on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for corn they will deliver to market in December, nearly twice the price a year ago.

Europe

A massive and unprecedented outbreak of bacterial infections linked to contaminated vegetables claimed two more lives in Europe on Tuesday, driving the death toll to 18. The number of sick rose to more than 1,500 people in at least eight nations. Nearly 400 people in Germany were battling a severe and potentially fatal version of the infection that attacks the kidneys. World Health Organization says E. coli bacteria causing the outbreak is a strain never seen before. A U.S. expert said doctors had never seen so many cases of the condition, hemolytic uremic syndrome, tied to a foodborne illness outbreak before. Investigators across Europe are frantically trying to determine how many vegetables were contaminated with enterohaemorrhagic E.coli — an unusual, toxic strain of the common E. coli bacterium —and where in the long journey from farm to grocery store the contamination occurred.

  • This European outbreak of a virulent strain of E-Coli in several different countries is a hint of things to come from end-time pestilence

Japan

U.N. inspectors faulted Japan on Wednesday for underestimating the threat of a devastating tsunami on its crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant but praised its overall response to the crisis as exemplary. The preliminary report by a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency also said the tsunami hazard was underestimated at several other nuclear facilities in Japan, and called for experts worldwide to learn from the disaster to avert future accidents. The report said the potential size of the tsunami that hit the plant, estimated at as high as 49 feet, was not sufficiently planned for and “overwhelmed” the plant’s defenses.

Germany

Germany’s coalition government agreed early Monday to shut down all the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022, the environment minister said, making it the first major industrialized power to go nuclear-free since the Japanese disaster. The country’s seven oldest reactors had already been taken off the grid pending safety inspections following the catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and will now remain offline permanently. Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, stands alone among the world’s major industrialized nations still using nuclear power in its determination to gradually replace it with renewable energy sources.

Russia

Russia’s Orthodox Church teamed with Conservative parliamentarians Monday to push legislation that would radically restrict abortions in a nation struggling to cope with one of the world’s lowest birthrates. The legislation would ban free abortions at government-run clinics and prohibit the sale of the morning-after pill without a prescription. abortion for a married woman would also require the permission of her spouse, while teenage girls would need their parents’ consent. A week’s waiting period would also be introduced so women could consider their decision to terminate their pregnancy.

Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the recent chaos in Egypt is allowing terrorist organizations to gain a foothold in the Sinai Peninsula, threatening Israel’s southern flank.

The Arab League, meeting in Doha this past weekend, issued a statement that it would back Palestinian requests for UN recognition this September, and insisted that East Jerusalem must be the capital of the new Palestinian state. President Obama’s call to return Israel to the 1967 borders is a subtle way of endorsing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and surrendering the Golan Heights in a buildup to the U.N. vote this fall which will recognize Palestine officially for the first time. The Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas is closely aligned with Iran and has called for “suicide attacks against Israeli civilians – including Israeli children – saying that such attacks are not only “allowed,” but are even “an obligation.”

  • The marginalization of Israel is the clearest sign of all that the period Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows” is building up toward the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24)

Algeria

Persecution against Christians continues in Algeria, as authorities have ordered that several Protestant churches close their doors — a trend that is expected to continue until all the country’s Protestant churches are shut down. According to International Christian Concern’s (ICC) Aden Clay, Algeria’s campaign to eradicate Christianity in the predominantly Muslim country has simply advanced one more step. The government and courts are also continuing to target individual Christians. “In one case, there was an Algerian Christian who was sentenced in court with a five-year imprisonment for sharing his Christian faith with a neighbor,” the ICC spokesman laments. “Basically, he was charged with blasphemy, criticizing the Islamic prophet Mohammed.”

Libya

Five Libyan generals, two colonels, and one major have defected to rebel forces “in the last few days,” according to Libya’s former ambassador to the United nations, Abdel Rahman Shalgham. A total of about 120 Libyan army officers have so far defected to the rebels. A United Nations panel said Wednesday that Libyan government forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, apparently as a result of orders given by Moammar Gadhafi and other senior officials. The U.N. investigators said they have received estimates of 10,000-15,000 people killed since February and added there is evidence that opposition forces also committed acts which would constitute war crimes.

Syria

Syrian government troops pounded a central town with artillery and gunfire Thursday, renewing attacks in a restive area that has been largely cut off from outside contact for six days. At least 15 people died, bringing the total killed there to 72 since the onslaught began. What began as street demonstrations calling for reforms evolved into demands for President Bashar Assad’s ouster in the face of the violent crackdown, especially in Syria’s south and center, where the challenge to his family’s 40-year-rule is seen as strongest. The Syrian government on Wednesday freed hundreds of political prisoners and the president set up a committee for national dialogue in an effort to end the 10-week uprising, but concessions have been coupled with deadly attacks on the towns seen as the greatest threat to his power.

Yemen

Street battles raged Thursday between the army and opposition tribesmen in the capital Sanaa and dozens of people on both sides were killed and wounded. Elsewhere a thousands-strong force of tribal fighters fought to break through government lines on the northern outskirts of the city. Yemeni medical officials say at least 41 people were killed Tuesday in overnight shelling and street battles between government forces and rival tribal fighters in the capital. Presidential Guard units shelled the headquarters of a brigade responsible for guarding sensitive government institutions. Army officers who have defected to the opposition say the government suspected the brigade commander was about to join the movement to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Yemeni warplanes carried out airstrikes Monday on a southern town seized by hundreds of Islamic militants over the weekend, witnesses said, as the political crisis surrounding the embattled president descended into more bloodshed. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has clung to power despite months of daily protests, defections by key allies and international pressure to go, has repeatedly warned that Islamic militants and al-Qaeda would seize control of the country if he steps down.

Afghanistan

A suicide attacker blew up an explosives-packed car Monday at the gates of an Italian military base in western Afghanistan, killing several people. The base in Herat city houses an Italian provincial reconstruction team, a collection of military and sometimes civilian workers who are tasked with helping build up local government and infrastructure.

Angered by civilian casualties, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday he will no longer allow NATO airstrikes on houses, issuing his strongest statement yet against strikes that the military alliance says are key to its war on Taliban insurgents. The president’s remarks follow a recent strike that mistakenly killed a group of children and women in southern Helmand province.

Iran

Iran’s parliament voted on Wednesday to take Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to court over his takeover of the country’s vital oil ministry, escalating the power struggle between the president and the hard-line establishment that has turned against him. The 165-1 vote was the latest salvo in the political maneuvering that began when Ahmadinejad publicly challenged Iran’s supreme religious leader in April. Lawmakers were infuriated when Ahmadinejad consolidated a series of ministries, fired the oil minister and named himself as the replacement. The takeover also technically puts Ahmadinejad at the helm of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, since Iran this year holds the rotating presidency.

Serbia

Protesters throwing stones and bottles clashed with baton-wielding riot police Sunday in Belgrade after several thousand Serbian nationalist supporters of jailed war-crimes suspect Ratko Mladic rallied outside the parliament building to demand his release. By the time the crowds broke up by late evening, about 100 people were arrested and 16 minor injuries were reported. That amounted to a victory for the pro-Western government, which arrested Mladic on Thursday, risking the wrath of the nationalist old guard in a country with a history of much larger and more virulent protests. The clashes began after a rally that drew at least 7,000 demonstrators, many singing nationalist songs and carrying banners honoring Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military commander, accused of genocide. The demonstrators, who consider Mladic a hero, said Serbia should not hand him over to the U.N. war crimes court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Wildfires

Two wildfires have destroyed at least 12 homes on the outskirts of the Texas Panhandle city of Amarillo. Low humidity, temperatures in the 100s and high winds have created favorable conditions for fires. About 2.8 million acres have burned in the state since November. The Horseshoe2 fire in Arizona is about 75% contained, but has consumed over 80,500 acres thus far and structures remain threatened. A new Arizona fire, Wallow, has destroyed 18,000 acres near Alpine and numerous evacuations are in effect. Another new Arizona fire, Murphy, has burned 7,800 acres southwest of Tucson.

Tornadoes

At least four people died Wednesday when tornadoes swept through parts of Massachusetts, a state where twisters are an unusual if not rare occurrence. Two tornadoes touched down in central and western parts of the state, including one in Springfield, the state’s third-largest city. The storm splintered and sheared roofs along Main Street in Springfield, leveled several homes and caused widespread damage in more than 20 communities. Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard troops. More than 55,000 homes were left without power as toppled trees knocked out electric lines.

Weather

Torrential rainfall and record snowmelt are contributing to a slow-motion flood disaster along the Missouri River and its tributaries in the northern Rockies and northern Plains. Residents of Montana and the Dakotas are enduring the worst of the floods, which are projected to continue at least through the remainder of June. Thousands of residents in the three states are facing evacuations. The governor of flood-plagued Montana ordered more National Guard troops to join the anti-flood effort Monday, while states downstream along the bloated Missouri River strengthened levees and laid sandbags ahead of the release of waters from dams and reservoirs. Flooding in Montana could ultimately be the worst in decades for the state, with an unusually heavy snowpack in the mountains, persistent spring rains and waterlogged ground incapable of soaking up any more moisture.

Crews raced approaching floodwaters Tuesday to complete emergency levees aimed at protecting Pierre, South Dakota’s capital city. Meanwhile, the mayor of Minot, N.D., ordered a quarter of the city’s residents to evacuate areas along the flooding Souris River. Residents of the upscale community of Dakota Dunes in southeastern South Dakota, below the final dam on the river, have been told to move their possessions to higher ground and be ready to leave their homes by Thursday. Several thousand people in Pierre, and neighboring Fort Pierre on the west bank have been working day and night since late last week to lay sandbags around their homes and move to safety.

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