Atheists Sue to block ‘WTC Cross’ from 9/11 Memorial

Atheists have sued to prevent cross-shaped steel girders from the destroyed World Trade Center towers from being included in the official Sept. 11 memorial, saying the religious symbol is unconstitutional because its gives “preferential representation” to Christians who died in the 2001 terror attacks. Workers found the broken, 17-foot-tall cross-shaped beams two days after the attacks, and they became known as the “World Trade Center cross.” Saturday, the rusted cross was moved from its temporary home near St. Peter’s Church and lowered into its permanent place inside the museum, which is under construction. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday argues that including the Roman Christian-style cross at the National September 11th Memorial and Museum violates the First and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the New York State Constitution.

New York sues USA to Force Homosexual Marriage Nationwide

The attorney general of New York State has sued the rest the USA in federal court, to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, claiming homosexuals have a right to sodomy under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Laws in 44 other states that define marriage between one man and one woman could be overturned by one federal court in Manhattan. Reuters reports:  “In court papers filed on Tuesday in U.S. federal court in Manhattan, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, violates same-sex couples’ right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution… Schneiderman wrote: ‘By discriminating among married couples based on sexual orientation and sex, DOMA deprives New York of the ability to extend true equality to all marriages valid in the State.'”

  • The slippery slope has begun to turn into an avalanche, reflecting the end-time acceleration toward the Great Tribulation

Prayer Ban at Military Cemetery Provokes Outrage

A Texas lawmaker is calling for a congressional investigation of the Houston National Cemetery after he went undercover and determined that cemetery officials are still preventing Christian prayers at the funerals of military veterans. “The Obama administration continues to try to prevent the word ‘God’ from being used at the funerals of our heroes,” said. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas). He attended a burial service at the cemetery undercover on July 8, when he says he witnessed volunteer members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars being prohibited from using any references to God. “The Obama administration had told the nation and me they were not interfering with the prayer said over the graves of veterans,” he said. VA officials have strongly denied they’ve banned any religious speech.

  • Despite Obama’s claims at various times that he’s a Christian or a Muslim, he has implemented wherever possible an anti-Christ strategy that seeks to undermine America’s Christian heritage and foundation.

Judge Nixes Stem Cell Suit

A lawsuit that had threatened to end the Obama administration’s funding of embryonic stem cell research was thrown out Wednesday, allowing the United States to continue supporting a search for cures to deadly diseases over protests that the work relies on destroyed human embryos. The lawsuit claimed that research funded by the National Institutes of Health violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker law that prohibits taxpayer financing for work that harms an embryo. But the administration policy allows research on embryos that were culled long ago through private funding. Lamberth said in his opinion Wednesday, “This Court, following the D.C. Circuit’s reasoning and conclusions, must find that defendants reasonably interpreted the Dickey-Wicker Amendment to permit funding for human embryonic stem cell research because such research is not ‘research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed.'” Pro-life advocates say there is no reason, and certainly no moral or ethical reason, to be destroying the lives of embryos for any reason.

  • Legal hairsplitting aside, an argument that human embryo’s are not destroyed by such research is blind to reality. Such research needs to be stopped in its entirety. Adult stem cells have proven to be much more likely to yield useful results.

Second Alleged Plot to Attack Fort Hood Foiled

At least one U.S. military serviceman has been arrested after raising concerns over another alleged plot to attack Fort Hood. Pvt. Nasser Jason Abdo, an AWOL soldier from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, was arrested by the Killeen Police Department near Fort Hood and remains in custody there. Abdo was found with weapons and explosives at the time of his arrest. Abdo went AWOL on July 4. On the eve of his first deployment to Afghanistan — after only one year in the Army — Abdo applied for conscientious objector status. Another source told Fox News that two other U.S. soldiers also might be involved.

‘Do Not Track’ Challenges Tech Industry

The federal government has put Google, Microsoft, Apple and other technology companies on notice: Give consumers a way prevent advertisers from tracking their movements across the Web — or face regulation. Yet for all its innovative know-how and entrepreneurial spirit, the technology industry has yet to agree on a simple, meaningful solution to protect consumer privacy on the Internet. So privacy watchdogs and lawmakers are stepping up the pressure, calling for laws that would require companies to stop the digital surveillance of consumers who don’t want to be tracked. They argue that effective privacy tools are long overdue from an industry that typically moves at breakneck speed. The Federal Trade Commission has challenged the industry to offer a digital tracking off switch. The FTC envisions something akin to the government’s existing “Do Not Call” registry for telemarketers.

Rural America Shrinking

Rural America now accounts for just 16 percent of the nation’s population, the lowest ever. The latest 2010 census numbers hint at an emerging America where, by midcentury, city boundaries become indistinct and rural areas grow ever less relevant. Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say. More metro areas are booming into sprawling megalopolises. Barring fresh investment that could bring jobs, however, large swaths of the Great Plains and Appalachia, along with parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and northern Texas, could face significant population declines. These places posted some of the biggest losses over the past decade as young adults left and the people who stayed got older, moving past childbearing years.

Space Station to Plunge into Ocean in 2020

A Russian space official said Wednesday that once the mammoth International Space Station is no longer needed it will be sent into the Pacific Ocean. It’s a plan that’s long been in the works and is a step to avoid the station becoming dangerous space junk. It was supposed to plunge into the ocean as early as 2015. The U.S. recently extended its life until at least 2020, and there’s been talk of keeping it going even longer. Russia sank its Mir space station in the Pacific in 2001 after 15 years in operation. Skylab, America’s first space station, fell from orbit in 1979 after six years in space. The International Space Station is the biggest orbiting outpost ever built. It now consists of more than a dozen modules built by the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency.

Post Office Considers Closing 3,700 Branches

The Postal Service will study about 3,700 post offices with low sales and few customers for possible elimination as early as January, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Tuesday. Most of those under review take in less than $27,500 a year and have only enough customers and mail to keep them busy two hours a day. Proposals to close any of its estimated 31,000 post offices often meet strong resistance from communities and their representatives in Congress. In January, the Postal Service named 1,400 post offices it wanted to close; only 280 are gone.

Healthcare Costs to Hit $4.6 Trillion in 2020

Despite President Obama’s promises to rein in health care costs as part of his reform bill, health spending nationwide is expected to rise more than if the sweeping legislation had never become law. Total spending is projected to grow annually by 5.8 percent under Obama’s Affordable Care Act, according to a 10-year forecast by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Without the ACA, spending would grow at a slightly slower rate of 5.7 percent annually. The nation’s health care tab is on track to hit $4.6 trillion in 2020, accounting for about $1 of every $5 in the economy, government number crunchers estimate in a report out Thursday. Including government and private money, health care spending in 2020 will average $13,710 for every man, woman and child, says Medicare’s Office of the Actuary. By comparison, U.S. health care spending this year is projected to top $2.7 trillion. Most of that spending is for care for the oldest and sickest people. The main reasons that health care spending keeps growing faster than the economy are the high cost of medical innovations and an aging society that consumes increasing levels of service.

House GOP Sets Vote on Revamped Debt-Limit Bill

House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican deputies are in a fight to the buzzer to round up enough support to pass his deficit-reduction bill, as the House begins arguably the most harrowing series of votes in his tenure — with the nation’s borrowing power, the economy and everybody’s interest rates in the balance. Barring the last-minute entrance of a compromise bill, there are only two options for skirting the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline — a Democratic bill in the Senate that Republicans deride as a “blank check” for President Obama, and Boehner’s bill. Democrats loathe that bill, but the speaker has worked strenuously over the past two days to present it as the only viable option.

Economic News

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level since early April, a sign the job market may be healing after a recent slump. The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications fell 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 398,000. That’s the first time applications have fallen below 400,000 in 16 weeks. Economists cautioned that the lower level only reflects one week of data and that doesn’t necessarily signal a trend.

The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes rose for a second month in June. But the gain was not enough to signal a rebound in the weak housing market. The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements for previously occupied homes rose 2..4% in June to a reading of 90.9. A reading of 100 is considered healthy by economists.

Most of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas are seeing a sharp drop in foreclosure activity as banks take longer to move against homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments. In the first half of this year, 84% of metropolitan areas with a population of at least 200,000 saw their foreclosure rate drop versus the same period last year, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac said Thursday. The decline is due to delays in the foreclosure process as lenders work through foreclosure documentation problems that first surfaced last fall.

Businesses cut back on orders for aircraft, autos, heavy machinery and computers in June, sending demand for long-lasting manufactured goods lower for the second month in the past three months. Orders for durable goods fell 2.1% last month, with the weakness led by a big drop in orders for commercial aircraft, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. A number of other categories also showed weakness including autos and auto parts.

Two years into the recovery, Americans’ confidence in the economy continues to sputter. U.S. consumers’ confidence rose slightly to 59.5 in July, according to The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index. That’s up from a revised 57.6 in June — which was a seven-month low — but still well below the reading of 90 that signals a healthy economy.

Apple, a week after reporting record sales and profit, surpassed $400 a share for the first time and is gaining ground on ExxonMobil, the world’s most valuable company. Apple, on the brink of bankruptcy when CEO Steve Jobs reclaimed the top job more than a decade ago, now has a bigger market value than Microsoft and Intel combined.

Norway

International experts said Tuesday that Norway’s government and security forces must learn stark lessons from a massacre made worse by a lackadaisical approach to planning for terror. Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, said Tuesday his client was surprised he even made it onto the island without being stopped by police, never mind that he was left to fire his assault rifle and handgun for so long. The island’s lone part-time security guard was among the first people he killed. Survivors said they struggled to get their panicked pleas heard because operators on emergency lines were rejecting calls not connected to the Oslo bomb. When police finally realized a gunman was shooting teens and 20-somethings attending a youth retreat on the island, Breivik had already been hunting them down for half an hour. It took police more than 90 minutes to reach the gunman. Delta Force police officers made the 25-mile journey by car — they have no helicopter — then had to be rescued by a civilian craft when their boat broke down as it tried to navigate a one-minute hop to the island.

In the days since the world learned that Breivik could face a maximum prison sentence of just 21-years for the killings there has been some criticism of the Norwegian justice as being far too lenient. Many say that Norway may be too easy on criminals even though its crime rates now are low compared with those in the United States. Norway abolished the death penalty in 1988.

Middle East

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is quietly and illegally increasing the size of its military, in preparation to fight Israel for control of Jerusalem in September, when the United Nations may recognize Palestine’s independence and seize Jerusalem without Israeli permission.  IsraelNationalNews.com reports the PA Army has exceeded its legal size limit by 25%, but plans to grow their Army even more: “Sources inside the PA, [told reporters] senior PA security personnel have expressed concern that its 41,000 strong paramilitary force – some 11,000 stronger than [the 30,000] the Oslo Accords allow – is not up to the task of confronting the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) in Judea and Samaria should Israel, as seems inevitable, dispute any unilateral PA claims [of independence].”  So the PA complains the need even more troops to fight Israel and may rely upon Syria and Iran when war is declared on Israel.

Afghanistan

A suicide bomber hiding explosives in his turban assassinated the mayor of Kandahar on Wednesday, just two weeks after President Hamid Karzai’s powerful half brother was slain in the southern province that is critical to the U.S.-led war effort. Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi, 65, was the third powerbroker from southern Afghanistan to be killed in just over two weeks, underlining fears of a surge in violence. During his four years as mayor, Hamidi became the enemy of the Taliban as well as others involved in criminal activities. Three suicide attackers blew up vehicles packed with explosives Thursday at the gates of a government compound in southern Afghanistan, the opening salvo of an hours-long fight that left at least 19 people dead.

Iraq

A double bombing Thursday struck an Iraqi bank in Saddam Hussein’s hometown where policemen were picking up their paychecks, killing 12 and wounding 34 people. The two midmorning blasts — one from a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives, immediately followed by a parked car bomb explosion — marked the fourth major attack this year on Iraqi security forces in the northern city of Tikrit, a former hotbed for Sunni insurgents bent on targeting the government and exposing the country’s instability.

Lebanon

A roadside bomb blew up next to a United Nations convoy carrying French peacekeepers in south Lebanon on Tuesday, wounding at least five of them in the second attack on the U.N. force in two months. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. But political tensions are rising in Lebanon over a U.N.-backed tribunal’s indictment last month of four Hezbollah members in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Iranian-backed Hezbollah is the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon today and it has refused to hand over the suspects.

Syria

Al-Qaeda’s new leader praised Syrian protesters seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad while trying to portray the uprising as an Islamic battle against American and Israeli interests. The video message posted on extremist websites Wednesday is Ayman al-Zawahri’s first since al-Qaeda named him its new leader in June following the death of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. commando raid in Pakistan. The Egyptian-born al-Zawahri, who long served as bin Laden’s top deputy, directly addressed the Syrian protesters who have risen up against Assad’s rule despite a bloody government crackdown. “You are an example, explaining lessons to your Arab and Muslim nation in sacrifice, steadfastness and the struggle against oppression,” al-Zawahri said of the protesters.

Somalia

More than 40 Americans have been recruited and radicalized by al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Somalia and have gone to the war-torn country to fight, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says. The Homeland Security Committee also found that more than 20 Canadians had also been recruited and radicalized and joined the fight in Somalia. The government said the recruits are believed to have traveled to Somalia to join the Islamic terror group Al-Shabab to expel Ethiopian soldiers. Some of those young men have died in the fight. Al-Shabab has expanded its focus over the years, and it has aligned itself with other anti-Western terror groups.

The online activist group Avaaz.org said its investigation has identified 2,918 Syrians who were arrested or abducted by force by security troops and whose whereabouts are now unknown. The global organization said Thursday that, on average, one person disappears in Syria every hour since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad more than four months ago.

China

As the Pentagon plans for U.S. forces to exit Iraq and Afghanistan, it is keeping one eye trained on the rising threat in the East. For two decades China has been adding large numbers of warships, submarines, fighter jets and — more significantly — developing offensive missiles capable of knocking out U.S. stealth aircraft and the biggest U.S. naval ships including aircraft carriers. At the same time, China has announced that its territorial waters extend hundreds of miles beyond its shores, well into what its neighbors and the United States consider international waters. It has installed more than 1,000 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, a democratic island nation and U.S. ally. Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan all have complained to the United States about confrontations on the high seas with China. China says it is simply developing defensive weapons and protecting its interests.

Wildfires

Investigators determined that arson caused a wildfire that has burned more than 21 square miles of grass, brush and timber in northeastern San Diego County. The fire slowed its advance Wednesday into the backcountry, but hot weather and low humidity still posed a challenge for firefighters trying to surround it. The fire was 65 percent contained after burning 14,100 acres on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and Anza Borrego Desert State Park. No homes were threatened.

Weather

Heavy rain sent landslides barreling through the South Korean capital and a northern town Wednesday, killing 17 and leaving at least three missing. About 15 inches of rain fell in Seoul in just 17 hours starting Tuesday afternoon. More than 10 inches fell on Chuncheon in the last two days. Weather officials say another 10 inches could fall through Friday in northern South Korea, including Seoul, parts of which were flooded from the rains.

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