Archive for August, 2011

August 29, 2011

Flooding the Biggest Concern in Irene’s Wake

Tropical Storm Irene was weakening as it moved into the Northeast and headed toward Canada, but officials warned the worst is yet to come in some areas along the Eastern Seaboard where flooding has become the big concern. At least 21 deaths were blamed on the storm. Along the Mid-Atlantic coast, the storm appeared to have fallen well short of doomsday predictions. At least 2.3 million people were given orders to evacuate, though it was not clear how many obeyed them. Power was knocked out to more than 4.5 million homes and businesses. Irene made landfall over New York’s Coney Island with winds at 65 mph. It hit New York City at 9 a.m. ET, bringing with it a storm surge that sent 3½ feet of water into New York Harbor. The storm’s maximum sustained winds lessened to 50 mph as it crossed into New England on Sunday afternoon. The north tube of the Holland Tunnel, which carries traffic from New York City to New Jersey, was closed for a time due to flooding. Rainfall overflowed sewers and seawater lapped at sidewalks at the edges of the city. Water cascaded toward Wall Street, which had been fortified with sandbags. Twenty homes on Long Island Sound in Connecticut were destroyed by high surf.

Gov. Chris Christie warned New Jersey residents Sunday to prepare for record flooding the next two days in the wake of Hurricane Irene. The Ramapo River was rising quickly and was expected to crest at 19.2 feet at the Pompton Lake Dam, breaking the record of 18 feet set in 1984. In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont Emergency Management is asking residents of the state to stay off roadways today because of flooded roads, debris, washouts and downed power lines. Transportation officials say 260 roads have been washed out and six covered bridges destroyed. Heavy rain and strong winds from Hurricane Irene knocked down trees and power lines Sunday, leaving up to half Rhode Island’s 1 million residents without power. Overall, the flooding was called the worst in over 100 years. Hurricane damage could total $10 billion.

  • We will be seeing a lot more of “worst” weather coming as the end-times roll forward, eventually resulting in the 100-pound hailstones of Revelation 8:7 and 16:21

Perry Bills Feds for Housing Illegals

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to reimburse the state $350 million to cover costs of imprisoning illegal immigrants. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the top-tier Republican presidential candidate blamed the federal government for not securing the border with Mexico, allowing illegal immigrants to cross over and use taxpayer-funded resources. He said resources for county jails are being depleted as a result. Perry is combating criticism from conservatives that he has been too lenient on illegal immigrants.

Officials Find More Tunnels Along Arizona Border

Law-enforcement officials called to a house in Douglas last week found an unusual sight: a large hole in the floor of one room and mounds of dirt piled high in other rooms. The hole was the opening of a tunnel that drug smugglers were burrowing from the United States to Mexico. It was the second tunnel discovered along the Arizona border in less than two weeks. Federal law-enforcement officials are concerned that the discoveries show that smugglers are increasingly using tunnels to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. to evade tighter border security. This summer, the Border Patrol finished installing new fencing in Nogales that allows agents to see to the other side, making it more difficult for smugglers to avoid detection. The Border Patrol also has installed more than 300 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers along Arizona’s border with Mexico in recent years and added hundreds of agents. Agents in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, which covers most of Arizona’s border with Mexico, discovered eight tunnels through the end of July this fiscal year in addition to the two recent finds.

U.N. Warns of Bird Flu Resurgence, Mutant Strain

The United Nations warned Monday of a possible resurgence of the deadly bird flu virus, saying wild bird migrations had brought it back to previously virus-free countries and that a mutant strain was spreading in Asia. A mutant strain of H5N1, which can apparently sidestep defenses of existing vaccines, is spreading in China and Vietnam, The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement Monday. It urged greater surveillance to ensure that any outbreaks are contained. Eight people have died from the new strain in Cambodia and the virus is spreading across Vietnam. Elsewhere, FAO says bird migrations over the past two years have brought H5N1 to countries that had been virus-free for several years, including Israel, the Palestinian territories, Bulgaria, Romania, Nepal and Mongolia.

Half of U.S. Adults Now Use Social Networks

A new study says half of all American adults are now on social networks, and use among Baby Boomers is growing. A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says that of the adults who use the Internet, nearly two-thirds use social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. That’s up slightly from a year ago. Among Baby Boomers aged 50 to 64, 32 percent say they use a social networking site on a typical day. That’s up from 20 percent a year ago. Seniors are also testing the waters of social networking.

Unemployed? Go to North Dakota

Unemployment is a national problem in the U.S., but you wouldn’t know that if you travel through North Dakota. The state’s unemployment rate hovers around 3 percent, and “Help Wanted” signs litter the landscape of its major cities. Billions of dollars are coming into the state and thousands of people are following—all because millions of barrels of oil are flowing out. The result: A good, old-fashioned oil boom. There’s no available housing, so people sleep in truck stops and Wal-Mart Stores’ parking lots. Developers have expanded plans from just a few dozen new homes and are now building hundreds of houses and thousands of apartment units. The McDonald’s in Williston is one of the busiest in the country, and they need to pay $15 an hour just to attract employees to work there. And then, there’s the trucks—thousands of them—on country roads. There’s one left turn in Williston that can get so backed up with truck traffic, it can take hours to get through the intersection.

Super Committee Members Call for Tax Hikes

The Dirty Debt Deal “Super Committee” has not even officially convened, yet these elite members are already angling to use their super-legislative powers to raise taxes. In a high-profile Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, three Democratic members of the Super Committee (Sens. Baucus, Murray and Kerry) sent a very strong and clear signal that they will be pressing for tax increases to be included in the Super Committee’s conclusions. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are also issuing the GOP version of tax increases. Boehner and Cantor are now talking openly that they support “tax reforms” that make the tax code “more fair by closing loopholes.” (Read: “tax increases.”). Grassfire Nation observes that, “this entire process of debt reduction (and tax increases) is being controlled by a 12-member super-empowered Super Committee that is at best a legislative mockery and at worst unconstitutional!”

Economic News

Consumer spending rebounded in July, making the biggest gain in five months. The Commerce Department said Monday that consumer spending rose 0.8% in July. That followed a drop in June, the first decline in spending in 20 months. Consumer spending is important because it accounts for 70% of economic activity. The increase in spending was led by a 1.9% jump in purchases of durable goods, products such as autos and appliances that are expected to last at least three years. Spending on non-durable goods rose 0.7%. However, the purchase of services, the biggest spending category, fell 0.7%. Services include everything from haircuts to airline tickets.

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell in July, evidence that the depressed housing market remains a drag on the economy. The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 1.3% in July to a reading of 89.7. A reading of 100 is considered healthy. Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There’s typically a one- to two-month lag between a sales contract signing and a completed deal. But a growing number of buyers have cancelled contracts after appraisals showed the homes were worth less than they bid.

Short sales are increasing as a percentage of home sales in many states, helping some neighborhoods and homeowners avoid the more devastating impacts of foreclosures. Short sales — when lenders allow financially strapped borrowers to sell homes for less than their unpaid mortgage — accounted for 12% of home sales nationwide in the second quarter. Short-sale homes, which often remain occupied until sold, tend to retain values better than those that go through foreclosure. That helps values of neighboring homes.

Middle East

The Economist (UK) published an interview with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday which he revealed that Israel will allow Egypt to deploy thousands of troops in the Sinai Peninsula, in violation of the 1979 Camp David Accords, in order to allow Cairo to reassert control over the area which many fear has become a haven for international terrorist groups. The Egyptian soldiers “will have helicopters and armored vehicles, but no tanks beyond the lone battalion already stationed there,” Barak said, adding that the decision had the approval of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Barak also acknowledged the risks, saying that it is unlikely Egypt will ever withdraw the troops, once deployed, but Israel’s options are limited. Knesset Speaker Ruevin Rivlin reacted to the report by saying that such a move might require a vote in the Knesset.


Top Libyan rebel officials Monday urged NATO to maintain pressure on the remnants of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime and protect crews trying to restore critical water and power services. “Gadhafi is still capable is doing something awful in the last moments,” the head of the rebel’s transitional government, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, told senior NATO envoys meeting in the Gulf nation of Qatar. Other rebel officials urged NATO to shift its focus to help safeguard reconstruction teams seeking to ease water and power shortages in the capital, Tripoli, and elsewhere. Rebel leaders estimate at least 60 percent of Tripoli’s residents don’t have enough water. “Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO,” the rebel leaders told military chiefs of staff and other key defense officials from NATO nations.

As Libya’s capital slowly staggers back to life, evidence is emerging of revenge killings committed by both rebels and the regime army, which could provoke continuing violence. Human Rights Watch said the evidence it has collected “strongly suggests that Gadhafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.” More than 200 decomposing bodies have been found at a Tripoli hospital that doctors and nurses abandoned because of fierce fighting between Libyan rebels and loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi, according to eyewitness reports. Gadhafi’s forces had occupied the facility Saturday and snipers held rebels and medical staff at bay Some of the dead were civilians and some were fighters, including some that appeared to be African mercenaries. AFP reports that 17 patients were found alive, including a child, and that the Red Cross evacuated them.


Syrian protesters chanted “Bye, bye Gaddafi, Bashar your turn is coming” overnight, but the regime of president Bashar Assad has not slowed his crackdown, sending tanks and troops into several rebellious villages in the country’s southeast. A UN survey team completed its tour and is expected to issue a report soon, but Assad’s regime appeared unconcerned, perhaps because of the unqualified political, military and economic support it has received from Iran. Prominent satirist Ali Ferzat, who has been one of the few outspoken critics of the regime’s brutality among Syria’s intelligentsia, was kidnapped and severely beaten Thursday, as a “warning” to other potential regime critics.


Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command and a close, longtime associate of Osama bin Laden, has been killed in Pakistan, apparently from a CIA drone attack, the Associated Press reports. Al-Rahman was killed in the tribal region of Waziristan, the AP says. Al-Rahman, believed to be in his mid-30s, joined bin Laden as a teenager in Afghanistan and later served as bin Laden’s emissary to Iran.

At least 25 security personnel were killed when between 200 and 300 militants attacked border posts along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Those who died included Pakistani soldiers and police. Twenty of the militants, who came from across the border, were reportedly killed. The militants used both small and heavy weapons in a well coordinated attack that took place over areas that spanned roughly 125 km (about 75 miles).


An infuriated Afghan government, fearful that President Hamid Karzai’s influence being undermined, leaked details of secret talks between the United States and an emissary to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar that had begun to bear fruit, the Associated Press reports. The emissary, Tayyab Aga, fled into hiding in Europe when news of the secret talks surfaced in June. The AP, quoting a former U.S. official, says the clandestine meetings were held in Germany and Qatar, starting in late 2010 and were held twice this spring. Collapse of the direct talks between Aga and U.S. officials probably spoiled the best chance yet at reaching an agreement. The AP, quoting an unidentified member of the council, says the United States, Afghan government, Afghan National Security Council and the High Peace Council are now all holding separate and secret talks with their own contacts within the insurgency.


Bombs in Baghdad killed six people Saturday night, capping a deadly day which in at least 35 people died across Iraq. Late Saturday night, a bomb hidden in a bicycle outside a Sunni mosque killed three worshippers and wounded eight others leaving evening prayers at the Omer Bin Abdul Aziz mosque just north of Baghdad. A half hour later, three policemen died nearby while responding to an explosion under a bridge in the predominantly Christian al-Ghadeer neighborhood in the capital’s east side. Also, Iraqi security official said two explosions in the northern city of Mosul wounded 15 people, including nine Iraqi soldiers and policemen.


How many wars are too many? Unnoticed largely in the press of larger events and obviously downplayed by the controlled Western media, the US and its allies are pursuing yet another aggressive, illegal war – this one in Yemen. The US is helping its Yemeni allies fight back against the terror threat. It is a full-on conflict that has reportedly seen SEALS come ashore on a regular basis at night to engage tribal fighters in Abyan province. Unconstitutional, secretive and expanding in scope and violence, it includes the massive, violent projection of US naval, air and Special Forces into parts of Yemen.


A moderate earthquake shook California’s central coastal area early Saturday. The quake was widely felt in the region but there were no immediate reports of any injuries or damages. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude 4.6 quake struck at 12:18 a.m. and was centered 22 miles southeast of Hollister. In the two hours that followed, several smaller quakes ranging from magnitude 3.6 to 2.5 struck in the same general area.

A magnitude-5.4 earthquake rattled the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan early Saturday. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The USGS said the quake hit was about 45 miles southeast of Faizabad, Afghanistan, and 157 miles northeast of Kabul.


In the bone-dry northwest, there are now nine wildfires burning in Montana which have consumed over 100,000 acres (about 156 sq. miles). Nine wildfires are also active in Oregon having burned around 90,000 acres (about 140 sq. mi.). Another nine wildfires are burning in Wyoming across 26,000 acres (almost 40 sq. mi.).


A massive landslide swallowed homes in eastern Uganda early Monday, killing at least 23 people, the Red Cross said. Torrential rains triggered the landslide. Two people have been rescued, but the death toll is expected to rise as rescue crews scour through the site in Bulambuli district. Bulambuli district is about 300 kilometers northeast of the capital, Kampala. Flooding also destroyed roads and washed away bridges in the region.

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August 26, 2011

New York Mayor Bans Religion at 9/11 Ceremony

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is under attack for refusing to allow members of the clergy to play a role in the city’s commemoration of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Bloomberg insists the ceremonies should focus on the families of those killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. He is also barring political speech. But pastors and politicians are lining up to lambast his decision, reports The Wall Street Journal. “This is America, and to have a memorial service where there’s no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me,” said Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor under Bloomberg’s predecessor Rudy Giuliani, who organized a nationally televised interfaith ceremony at Yankee Stadium in the days after the 2001 attacks. New York City Council member Fernando Cabrera, a pastor in the Bronx, said faith was one of the “pillars that carried us through” the days after the attacks and called religious leaders “the spiritual and emotional backbone.”

  • More and more with every excuse imaginable, secular society seeks to marginalize Christianity

Google Bans God From Nonprofit Program

Google Inc. pulled the welcome mat out from under churches and other faith-based groups that previously were able to use its office software and popular Gmail for free when it, in effect, banned God from it program for non-profit organizations. The Internet search and software giant’s new rules fly in the face of the program title of “Google for Nonprofits,” because it now excludes churches, schools, political think tanks, proselytizing groups and any organization that considers religion or sexual orientation in hiring decisions. The move has been a blow to cash-strapped churches trying to use social media to keep faith in the Internet mix. Such exclusions from public facilities or benefits may be “unlawful religious discrimination,” Christianity Today reported.

Florida Teacher Exonerated, Reinstated

The school board in Lake County, Florida, has reinstated teacher Jerry Buell who was removed from the classroom last week over comments he posted on his personal Facebook page expressing his disapproval of the legalization of homosexual “marriage” in New York. The Mount Dora High School history and government teacher will keep his job. Buell had been temporarily transferred to an administrative assignment after — on his own time and with his own equipment at home — posting his view against same-gender marriage on Facebook. His comments reflected both the mainstream view that marriage should be between one man and one woman, as well as the definition of marriage found in the Florida constitution. However, a 2002 Mount Dora High School graduate — who had never had Buell as a teacher — lodged a complaint against the former “Teacher of the Year” about the comments. The school board then suspended Buell and launched an investigation.

2,000+ Chaplains Ask Congress to Protect Freedom after DADT Repeal

Alliance Defense Fund reports that a group of veteran service members–primarily chaplains who, on behalf of their faith groups, represent thousands of currently-serving military chaplains and several million Americans, sent a letter to the U.S. Congress Wednesday asking key officials to protect military religious liberty from the dangers created by the government’s decision to force open homosexual behavior on the U.S. armed forces through the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” next month. The letter notes that “our nation has a robust history of protecting military religious liberty,” and that, in fact, “the whole reason that the chaplaincy corps exists is to fulfill the constitutional imperative of protecting service members’ rights to freedom of religion.”  But, it says, even Obama administration officials admit that current religious liberty protections create “boundaries that are not always clearly defined,” and this lack of definition in the post-DADT military will lead to confusion and censorship.  That is intolerable, the letter concludes, because “no Americans, and especially not those in our armed forces, should be forced to abandon their religious beliefs.”

Fox News’ Parent Company Investing in ‘Gay Marriage’

The owner of a cable news channel is investing in homosexual marriage, and one conservative activist says that shows the direction the network is taking on the issue. News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, is preparing to publish a magazine devoted to planning “gay” and lesbian weddings with the debut issue of Wedding Pride next month. Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) deems it sad that the news operation trusted by many Americans is supporting homosexual marriage. But he says it is an indication of the direction the network is headed. “Conservative and faith-based Americans do not look to Fox to promote sin. And yet, every time Fox promotes homosexuality, that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

Americans’ Religious Faith Waning

An Associated Press report states: “A Duke University professor’s new analysis of decades’ worth of data suggests that American religious belief is getting gradually weaker and less widespread than it once was… Mark Chaves argues that Americans have less trust in and growing dissatisfaction with religious leaders. He says that makes people less likely to attend regular worship services than they were a generation ago. Chaves, who directs the National Congregations Study, says religion is still a powerful force in American life… But the number of people who belong to no religious group has grown substantially, especially in the last two decades… [A]s many as 20 percent of all Americans say they don’t belong to any religious group, compared with around three percent in the 1950s.”

  • The end-time’s “falling away” prophesied by the Apostle Paul is well underway (2Thess. 2:3)

Earthquake Readiness of U.S. Nuclear Power Plants is Unclear

While the North Anna nuclear facility, near the quake’s epicenter in Mineral, Va., successfully shut down Tuesday, one of its backup generators failed to work. The plant declared an “alert” — the second lowest of NRC’s four emergency classifications. It regained its electricity seven hours later but is not yet back in operation. The question — what size earthquakes can U.S. nuclear power plants withstand — seems urgent in light of this week’s surprising magnitude-5.8 quake on the East Coast. Alas, there’s no simple answer and that worries industry critics. Earthquakes are routinely measured by magnitude, or energy released. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requires the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors to withstand a predicted level of ground motion, or acceleration — something called g-force.

The agency released a statement Thursday to clarify its “earthquake measurements and design criteria,” but it does not say what ground motion each reactor can handle. This muddiness heightens the concerns of industry critics, who have urged stricter safety rules after reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant nearly melted down due to a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Ongoing NRC research that shows the seismic risks for Eastern and Central U.S. nuclear power plants have increased.

Nearly Half of All U.S. Babies now Minorities

White infants are on the verge of being displaced as the majority of newborns now that nearly half of babies in the U.S. are ethnic and racial minorities. Only 50.2 percent of babies under age 1 are White and not Hispanic, according to the 2010 census, a sharp decline from 57.6 percent just 10 years earlier. “We are almost at a minority-majority infant population,” said Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, who analyzed the latest census data. “We probably have passed it since the census was taken (in April 2010).” The number of states where minority babies dominate has doubled to 14 since 2000. The balance has tipped in big states such as New York, Florida, New Jersey and Georgia. Minorities have been the majority in Texas and California nurseries for more than two decades. In Texas, the majority of people under age 47 are minorities; in California, under 52. The shift is dramatic in states like Florida and Nevada, where Whites are in the minority among those younger than 38.

Angry Unions Sever Ties With Democrats, Obama

In a huge public blow to the electoral fortunes of both President Obama and the Democratic Party, the president of the AFL-CIO said Thursday that organized labor is preparing to ditch Democrats and go it alone in building up its own grassroots structure. Specifically, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters that the nation’s largest labor federation will scale back their involvement with the Democratic Party in advance of the 2012 elections. In 2008, unions spent over $400 million for Obama’s election. Trumka made it clear that his plan will cost the Democrats both contributions and labor volunteers in many districts almost immediately. That would cripple key Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts in many swing districts on Election Day. Trumka articulated a broader critique of the Obama administration, telling reporters that the president has allowed Republicans to set the terms of debate — focusing on what he called a manufactured debt crisis instead of a jobs agenda.

First Lady Accused of Spending $10M of Public Funds on Her Vacations

The Obama’s’ summer break on Martha’s Vineyard has already been branded a PR disaster after the couple arrived four hours apart on separate government jets. But according to new reports, this is the least of their extravagances. White House sources claim that the First Lady has spent $10 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on vacations alone in the past year. The First Lady is believed to have taken 42 days of holiday in the past year, including a $375,000 break in Spain and a four-day ski trip to Vail, Colorado, where she spent $2,000 a night on a suite at the Sebastian hotel. Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit over the federal government’s refusal to disclose how much taxpayers spent to send Michelle Obama on a “family outing” that included a safari in Africa. The organization requested information in June regarding the expenses for the trip. The government had until Aug. 3 to respond, but did not, so Judicial Watch now has followed up with a lawsuit.

Salmonella Traced to Backyard Chicken Farms

The burgeoning trend of keeping chickens and ducklings in backyard farms may have brought a new problem home to roost: infections with salmonella. Twin outbreaks of salmonella linked to chicks and ducklings bought for backyard farms have stricken 92 people in 20 states as of Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. The poultry were traced back to a mail-order hatchery in Ohio. Raising backyard chickens largely for egg production is a growing urban trend among people who want to get closer to their food, but CDC doctors warn that hobbyists may not realize how common it is for poultry to carry dangerous forms of salmonella.

Economic News

Orders for aircraft and autos drove demand for long-lasting manufactured goods up in July. Overall orders for durable goods rose 4% last month, biggest increase since March. Demand for autos and auto parts jumped 11.5%, the most in eight years. Aircraft orders, a volatile category, soared 43.4%, after falling 24% in June. Excluding transportation, orders rose 0.7%. A key category that tracks business investment plans fell 1.5%, biggest drop in six months. That suggests businesses are pulling back on spending.

The number of Americans who bought new homes fell for a third month in July, putting sales on track to finish this year as the worst on records dating back half a century. Sales of new homes fell 0.7% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000. That’s fewer than half the 700,000 that economists say represent a healthy market. Housing remains the weakest part of the economy. Last year was already the worst for new-home sales on records dating back a half century.

Weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 5,000 the week ended Aug. 20 to a seasonally adjusted 417,000. Applications typically need to fall below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth. They haven’t been at that level since February.

Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded its rating on Japan’s debt. The agency said it lowered the rating because of Japan’s large budget deficits and growing government debt. The new rating is three notches below Moody’s top Aaa rating. Both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch rate Japan AA-, three notches below their top AAA ratings.

Middle East

Despite a fragile truce along the Gaza border several rockets landed in Israel overnight Wednesday, leading to retaliatory air strikes by the IAF and an intense round of mutual recriminations among Palestinian terror factions within the Strip and between the factions and Israel. The Iron Dome air defense system intercepted three rockets on their way to Beersheba and Ashkelon on Wednesday and an Israeli infant was lightly wounded by shrapnel from a rocket just south of Ashkelon. The IDF believed the rockets were fired by the Islamic Jihad faction, in response to one of their gunman being killed in an Israeli airstrike earlier in the day. Over the past week, more than 100 rockets, mortars and anti-tank missiles have been fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and villages along the southern border.


British warplanes struck a large bunker Friday in Muammar Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, his largest remaining stronghold. The airstrikes came a day after fierce clashes erupted in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. As Libya’s rebels fight to consolidate their hold on Tripoli, civilian casualties are mounting. The Libyan capital was in chaos Thursday as rebels battled to consolidate their hold against fierce resistance from pro-regime forces trying to cut off the road to the airport. Rebels controlled much of the city, but fighting continued in a number of districts where Moammar Gadhafi’s forces were mounting a last stand to hold onto the regime’s four decades in power. Libyan rebels stormed Gadhafi’s Tripoli compound Tuesday, looting buildings and scouring the grounds without finding the besieged dictator. The capture of his Bab al-Aziziya, center of the Libyan strongman’s 42-year rule, was a symbolic victory for rebel troops. Gadhafi and his sons were still at large and gun battles erupted between rebels and remaining pockets of loyalists. A pro-Gadhafi TV channel quoted the Libyan leader as saying he retreated from his Tripoli compound in a “tactical move” after 64 NATO airstrikes turned it to rubble.

Unless rebel forces can act quickly to protect key buildings and infrastructure, including oil fields and refineries, the country faces the prospect of continued violence. The transitional government of Libya began moving its leadership here to the capital Thursday. The Transitional National Council has been based in the eastern city of Benghazi, which fell to rebel forces early in the conflict. It remains unclear who controls the Libyan government’s weapons stockpiles, a stew of deadly chemicals, raw nuclear material and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that officials fear could fall into terrorists’ hands in the chaos of Moammar Gadhafi’s downfall or afterward. One immediate worry, U.S. intelligence and military officials say, is that Gadhafi might use the weapons to make a last stand. But officials also face the troubling prospect that the material, which was left under Gadhafi’s control by a U.S.-backed disarmament pact, could be obtained by al-Qaida or other militants even after a rebel victory is secured.


The European Union announced on Wednesday that it was leveling sanctions against Iran’s Al Quds military force, saying it had given technical and material support to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in his efforts to crush the five-month-old uprising against his rule. The move adds the European Union’s imprimatur to charges that Iran has aided Mr.. Assad in carrying out a brutal crackdown of pro-democracy activists that the United Nations says has killed 2,200 people since March. The decision was welcomed by activists in Damascus, Syria, who have refused to back down in the face of the crackdown.


A large explosion struck the United Nations’ main office in Nigeria’s capital Friday, flattening one wing of the building and killing eighteen people. A U.N. official in Geneva called it a bomb attack. The building houses about 400 employees of the U.N. in Nigeria and is located in the same neighborhood as the U.S. embassy and other diplomatic posts in Abuja. It had a huge hole punched in it. Oil-rich Nigeria, a nation of 150 million, is split between a largely Christian south and Muslim north. In recent months, the country has faced an increasing threat from a radical Muslim sect called Boko Haram, which wants to implement a strict version of Shariah law in the nation. The sect has carried out assassinations and bombings, including the June car bombing of the national headquarters of Nigeria’s federal police that killed at least two people.


Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Friday he was resigning after almost 15 months in office amid plunging approval ratings over his government’s handling of the tsunami disaster and nuclear crisis. The decision was widely expected because in June, Kan had promised to quit once lawmakers passed three key pieces of legislation. The final two bills cleared the parliament earlier Friday. The Democrats will vote Monday for a new leader, who will almost certainly become Japan’s next prime minister — the sixth since 2006.


At least 53 people were killed in a fiery attack at a casino in an upscale area of Monterrey, Mexico. Eight others were injured in the Thursday afternoon attack, the Red Cross said. Between 20 and 30 people were trapped in the casino by debris. Witnesses have told investigators that up to six people entered the Casino Royale and set the building on fire. Monterrey is the capital of Nuevo Leon in northeastern Mexico. Nuevo Leon and the neighboring states of Coahuila and Tamaulipas have been the scene of clashes between organized crime groups. The Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas are vying for control of trafficking routes into the United States.

The Obama administration has expanded its role in Mexico’s fight against organized crime by allowing the Mexican police to stage cross-border drug raids from inside the United States, according to senior administration and military officials. Mexican commandos have discreetly traveled to the United States, assembled at designated areas and dispatched helicopter missions back across the border aimed at suspected drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration provides logistical support on the American side of the border, officials said, arranging staging areas and sharing intelligence that helps guide Mexico’s decisions about targets and tactics.


The rural community of Mineral, Virginia, with its winding roads, farms and timber mills is assessing the damage to its schools, homes and businesses after it became the epicenter of a 5.8 earthquake that was felt all along the East Coast. The roof of Mineral’s town hall collapsed and three of the six schools that make up the county’s school system have suffered heavy damage. Like the rest of the region hit by the quake, there were no fatalities, only minor injuries and people with chest pains who were taken to nearby hospitals and clinics. Public schools and a handful of government buildings in Washington, D.C. remained closed for further assessments. National Park Service engineers were also taking a closer look at the Washington Monument Wednesday.

The 45-second earthquake that hit the East Coast Tuesday afternoon gave millions of people a thorough and efficient education in what Westerners already know: Earthquakes are frightening. The quake was felt along the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to Canada. Five aftershocks have been recorded through Wednesday. The East’s tightly packed earth crust carried the quake’s seismic power farther than an equivalent quake in the West’s spongier terrain. Though Virginia hadn’t had a quake like Tuesday’s in 67 years, it was mild by West Coast standards. California has seen 35 quakes of that size since 1944, when the last East Coast quake of this magnitude occurred.

A strong but deep earthquake shook a sparsely populated northern jungle region on Wednesday and was felt mildly in the capital. There were no reports of damage or injuries. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 and was centered 50 miles north of the jungle city of Pucallpa, near the border with Brazil.


The northwest has been going through a dry spell. As a result, six large wildfires (over 100 acres) are burning in Montana, having consumed almost 93,000 acres (about 144 sq. miles). Only three structures have been destroyed thus far, but many remain threatened. Wyoming has six large wildfires burning over 25,000 acres (about 40 sq. miles) with two structures destroyed. There are seven active wildfires in Oregon which have consumed about 19,700 acres (about 30 sq. miles) as of Friday morning. Idaho has two wildfires that have burned almost 36,000 acres (about 56 sq. miles).


Some 65 million people along the densely populated U.S. East Coast waited warily Friday for a dangerous hurricane that could inflict billions in damages in an arc from Washington to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The main thrust of the hurricane wasn’t expected in North Carolina until sometime Saturday. Irene would be the strongest to strike the East Coast in seven years.

The powerful hurricane Irene destroyed hundreds of homes on small Bahamian islands but largely spared the capital of Nassau as it tore over the sprawling archipelago Thursday. There were no immediate reports of deaths, but some small settlements reported up to 90 percent of their homes damaged. Assessments from other islands were not in because telephone lines were down.

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August 23, 2011

DHS Profile of Terrorists Defies Reality

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests a typical woman terrorist would be in her late 20s or early 30s, with brunette hair, stylish clothing, high heels and a shoulder bag, and Caucasian. A man? About the same age, short hair, wearing a shirt and slacks and familiar with technology, as he’s wearing an earpiece cellphone. And Caucasian. A recent DHS training video featured nearly two dozen people posing as terrorists, of which 17 are white males, two are white females, one is a black female, one a black male and one of Middle Eastern descent. The reality is that, Since Ramadan began for Muslims about two weeks ago, there have been 102 terror attacks around the world in the name of Islam, costing 439 lives, according to The Religion of Peace website. Its “Bombathon 2011 Scorecard” indicates that during the same period, there have been zero attacks in the name of all other religions costing zero lives and zero attacks by “anti-Muslim” right-wingers – the primary DHS scapegoat.

  • It’s surprising that DHS chief Janet Napolitano didn’t have “Christian” embossed on the heads of her representative terrorists in the training video.

APA Wants to Destigmatize Pedophilia

Several well-known researchers recently made unexpected arguments on pedophilia at an academic conference in Baltimore. Liberty Counsel Action’s Matt Barber attended the conference and says he felt he was on a different planet, as the presenting professionals aimed to remove pedophilia from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). That would mean that pedophilia would no longer be considered a mental disorder. “The entire focus of the event was on the victimhood of the pedophile,” Barber accounts. There was “very little concern for the children who are the victims of these individuals when they are raped, who these individuals lust after,” he adds.

  • Immorality is fast becoming the new normal

‘Teacher of the Year’ Suspended for Facebook Comment

A Florida teacher has been suspended and removed from the classroom in Mount Dora, Florida, for comments made on his Facebook page against homosexual “marriage.” Liberty Counsel will be representing the teacher in court. The comments by Mount Dora High School teacher Jerry Buell were posted on his Facebook page on his personal time, using his home computer. Those comments reflected the mainstream view that marriage should be between one man and one woman. According to a Liberty Counsel press release, the history and government teacher expressed his view that homosexuality is a sin and that seeing two “grooms” kissing on a news story revolted him.

  • Christianity is under attach in the USA like never before as the end-time anti-Christ spirit ratchets up in anticipation of a one-world government headed by the anti-Christ ‘beast’ (Revelation 13:1,8, 1John 2:18, 4:3)

Families Battle Cemetery’s Religious Eradication

A Texas-based Christian law firm that defends First Amendment freedoms has filed a lawsuit against the Veterans Administration and the Houston National Cemetery for the attempted eradication of religious expression from ceremonies at the facility. Erin Leu, an attorney with Liberty Institute, says Director Arleen Ocasio is trying to eradicate all religion from the Houston National Cemetery. “She has closed the chapel, telling people she is wanting to make it more comfortable to people of all faiths,” Leu reports. “She has told people not to use the word ‘God,’ not to use the word ‘Jesus.’ She told the honor guards not to include the religious portions of their ritual. She’s attempting to eradicate all religion. It’s outrageous; it’s unconstitutional,” the attorney contends.

Illinois Can Force Gay Adoptions, Court Rules

In what could be another example of a same-sex law trumping religious freedom, Baptist Press reports that an Illinois judge has ruled the state can end its adoption and foster care relationship with Catholic Charities, which refuses to place children with gay couples. At issue is a 40-year relationship between Illinois and Catholic Charities that is in jeopardy because the state — in light of Illinois’ new same-sex civil unions law — says agencies with state contracts must be willing to place children in gay households. Catholic Charities said it would not follow any such state orders and it subsequently sued the state, saying the civil unions law provided a religious exemption that would protect its work. Judge John Schmidt, though, said it did not matter what the civil unions law said because a more basic issue was at play: Is the state required to contract with Catholic Charities? The answer, he said, is no.

Abortionist Appointed to Leadership Role in Democratic Party

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently named former baby murderer Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) as the new head of Candidate Services which researches, selects and funds Congressional races. In other words, the future of the Democrat Conference of Congress is now in the hands of a woman who spent 13 years as the owner of one of Philadelphia’s busiest, most profitable, and most notorious abortion mills. Schwartz co-founded the clinic in 1975 and christened it the “Elizabeth Blackwell Center.” Pro-abortionists defame Blackwell, the first American female physician, who was an ardent mother-child advocate and profoundly pro-life! Yet throughout the Schwartz clinic’s 13 years of operation, abortion was consistently the financial backbone of the institution. In its last, (and slowest), year of operation, the clinic still managed to perform an average of 5 abortions a day. That is 1,500 children slaughtered just in Schwartz’ final year of business.

Minnesota is the Latest Marriage Battleground

Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) attorneys are helping to preserve Minnesota’s laws on marriage. A lower court dismissed a lawsuit attacking state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. That case is now on appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. ADF attorney Jordan Lorence says, “The lifelong, faithful union of a man and a woman is the foundation of every healthy, stable society. That’s the legitimate rationale behind Minnesota’s marriage laws. There is no valid constitutional argument undermining that rationale, as the trial court found here when it ruled in accord with binding Minnesota and U.S. Supreme Court precedent.” Several same-gender couples filed the lawsuit after Hennepin County turned down their requests for marriage licenses. They appealed after the court ruled against them. The court cited a previous Minnesota Supreme Court case which affirmed the validity of laws protecting traditional marriage.

Pregnancy Centers Under Attack in San Francisco

San Francisco is proposing an ordinance that would target pro-life pregnancy centers for alleged “deceptive marketing tactics.” That ordinance, if enacted, would likely be challenged in court. The proposal would call on the centers to advertise and to post signs in pregnancy clinics saying they do not offer birth control or abortions. Without such notification, says city officials, crisis pregnancy centers are being “deceptive” and “interfere with women’s time-sensitive, constitutionally protected right to reproductive choice.” Paul Sluis is with First Resort, which operates pro-life pregnancy centers in the San Francisco area. He says his group is bothered by the ordinance because it is obviously “part of a broader attempt” to shut them down. He notes that three ordinances in Maryland and New York have been declared unconstitutional.

Idaho Casting Out Religious Texts

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by two Idaho charter school teachers over First Amendment rights, so proponents of the banned material are preparing to take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Idaho’s Public Charter School Commission has ruled that the use of religious texts in the classroom violates the state’s constitution. But David Cortman of the Alliance Defense Fund explains that the ban involves texts other than the Bible. “It’s certainly our hope that a majority of the Supreme Court will understand that it’s not permissible for any state agency at any level to completely ban an entire category of books,” Cortman contends. “It’s just another way of the dumbing down of our public education system.” In their opinion, the Ninth Circuit wrote that “because Idaho charter schools are governmental entities, the curriculum presented” is that of the Idaho government and exempt from scrutiny under the First Amendment.

Court Opens Door for Teachers to Ridicule Christians

A three-judge panel of the much-overturned 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California has dismissed a student’s case against a high school teacher who ridiculed his Christian faith in class. The opinion Friday authored by Judge Ray C. Fisher declared statements “exhibiting some hostility to religion do not violate the Establishment Clause if the government conduct at issue has a secular purpose. Chad Farnan brought the case in 2007 against history teacher James Corbettt of Capistrano Valley High School  in Mission Viejo, Calif., citing at least 22 comments by Corbett considered “derogatory, disparaging, and belittling regarding religion and Christianity in particular.”

  • Secular humanism is itself a “religion” with its own core set of beliefs, but is promoted by the New World Order folks as the basis for keeping religion (specifically Christianity) out of schools, government and any public forum

White House Uses Taxpayer $$ to Sell Obamacare

Under a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, lawsuit, Judicial Watch learned through Department of Health and Human Services documents that the Obama White House “helped coordinate a multimillion dollar taxpayer-funded campaign to use Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive web traffic to a government website promoting the Affordable Health Care Act (also known as Obamacare).” According to Judicial Watch, the campaign, which included PR firm The Ogilvy Group, was designed “to increase public support for the president’s health-care overhaul among key Obama campaign demographics, specifically Hispanics, blacks and women.” President Obama’s former political director worked at an international advertising agency that received government funds to direct a multi-million dollar campaign to sell Obamacare to the public, WorldNetDaily reports The campaign used Internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo to drive Web traffic to government websites promoting the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Repatriation Flights for Illegal Immigrants Draw Criticism

The Department of Homeland Security continues to spend millions of dollars flying illegal immigrants caught along the Arizona border back to Mexico each summer even though government officials and humanitarian groups question whether the program is effective or worth the cost. By flying thousands of apprehended migrants 1,100 miles into Mexico instead of simply dropping them off at the border, DHS says they are less likely to hook up again with human smugglers and try to cross through Arizona’s rugged, remote desert, where over the years hundreds of migrants have died in the brutal summer heat. While the department defends its repatriation flights, officials chose not to act on recommendations by government auditors to measure whether the program is effective. Some humanitarian groups say it is a waste of money because migrant deaths have continued to rise, and the Government Accountability Office has been critical of the lack of accountability.

  • Accountability in government – what a unique concept

Computers Fit Under Our Skin

Before long you may be able to wear your computer. An ultra-thin and flexible electronic circuit can now be stuck to the skin. The wireless device is almost invisible, but can perform just as well as more conventional electronic machines. The development could mark a new era in consumer electronics. The new technology could be used for things such as medical diagnosis or covert military operations. The devices, which are almost invisible, can perform just as well as more conventional electronic machines but without the need for wires or bulky power supplies, scientists said.

  • The ‘mark of the beast’ is not far away from reality

Social Security Disability Insurance on Brink of Insolvency

Laid-off workers and aging baby boomers are flooding Social Security’s disability program with benefit claims, pushing the financially strapped system toward the brink of insolvency. Applications are up nearly 50 percent over a decade ago as people with disabilities lose their jobs and can’t find new ones in an economy that has shed nearly 7 million jobs. The stampede for benefits is adding to a growing backlog of applicants — many wait two years or more before their cases are resolved — and worsening the financial problems of a program that’s been running in the red for years. New congressional estimates say the trust fund that supports Social Security disability will run out of money by 2017, leaving the program unable to pay full benefits, unless Congress acts.

  • The so-called “trust fund” requires a lot of trust because it is only an accounting entry that is not backed up by actual funds – yet another unfunded liability

Economic News

The president of Standard & Poor’s is stepping down, an announcement coming only weeks after the rating agency’s unprecedented move to strip the United States of its AAA credit rating. The announcement did not refer to recent reports that the Justice Department is investigating whether S&P improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis in 2008. Those reports sent McGraw-Hill’s shares tumbling last week.

Investors have been surprised at the relatively low rate of defaults in 2011 so far. Just 15 U.S. companies have defaulted this year, according to Standard & Poor’s, down from 40 in during the same time in 2010. Just 23 companies around the world have defaulted this year, down from 81 in 2010 and a record high of 265 in 2009. This may be a result of the “dead wood clearing” effect, where companies that were barely hanging on were wiped out in 2009 and 2010. The companies left standing are the stronger ones. There’s also the fact that record low interest rates have allowed many companies to refinance, and push their debt payments out.

A growing belief that the country is headed toward recession gave the stock market its fourth straight week of losses. The Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down 1.6% Friday, had its 10th move of more than 100 points this month.

Gold has been in a multiyear bull market: An ounce of gold shot to a record $1,910 Monday. The past 10 years, gold has soared 591%, vs. a 3.3% loss for the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index. Gold also fares well when people fear inflation: Governments can print more money, but they can’t create more gold.

Middle East

Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel Monday, despite an unofficial truce meant to defuse days of escalating violence. The Israeli military said 15 projectiles were launched at Israel overnight, most of which fell in open fields. No injuries were reported. Israel retaliated with an airstrike before midnight Sunday that targeted a rocket-launching device. A Hamas official said Sunday that militant groups in Gaza had agreed a truce would go into effect that evening to end three days of clashes between Israel and Gaza militants. Hamas security personnel would enforce the Egypt-brokered agreement, he said. About 15 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, were killed in the air attacks. Eight Israelis died in the border attack and another was killed by rocket fire.

Egypt said Saturday it would recall its ambassador from Israel to protest the deaths of at least three Egyptian troops killed in a shootout between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants who had launched a deadly attack on Israel from Egyptian soil. The decision sharply escalated tensions between the neighboring countries, whose 1979 peace treaty is being tested. Egypt’s interim government accused Israel of violating that treaty and demanded an apology. Israeli officials insisted the peace treaty was “stable” despite the rocky developments. “No one had any intention to harm Egyptian security personnel,” said Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official. Hundreds of Egyptians gathered peacefully outside the Israeli Embassy on Sunday, demanding that their government expel Israel’s ambassador in Cairo. Israel issued a rare statement of “regret,” hours, but the Egyptian government said the apology is insufficient.


Fierce fighting erupted around Moammar Gadhafi’s main military compound in Tripoli on Tuesday, hours after the Libyan leader’s son and heir apparent turned up free to thwart Libyan rebel claims he had been captured. Street battles between pro-Gadhafi troops and rebels were reported in several parts of the city, and the mood turned from one of euphoria to confusion and fear a day after opposition fighters swept into the capital with relative ease, claiming to have most of it under their control. Libyan rebels claimed to be in control of most of the Libyan capital on Monday after their lightning advance on Tripoli heralded the fall of Moammar Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year regime. After six months of NATO bombing, rebel forces broke a military standoff Sunday in a startling turn of events that took anti-Gadhafi forces by surprise and may prove a decisive blow to the regime. Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi fled to the Tunisian island of Djerba, Al Jazeera reports. The international community called on Gadhafi to step down and moved ahead with post-war planning. NATO promised to continue airstrikes until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to barracks.

NATO’s work in Libya is largely done, but analysts say its efforts could be undermined if the Western alliance is seen as the sole power behind the rebel forces that are close to forcing Moammar Gadhafi from power. The United Nations and groups such as the Arab League also need to offer support to the new government. The new leaders in Libya will lack credibility if they’re seen as puppets of the Western military alliance. Ideally, NATO’s military role will end quickly and a non-military coalition of groups will help Libyans build a functioning government. Since the start of the war in March, NATO planes have flown nearly 20,000 combat missions. Since launching the initial attacks in March, the U.S. military role has been largely relegated to supporting other NATO forces.


Syria’s president said Sunday he was “not worried” about security in his country and warned against any foreign military intervention in a speech designed to portray confidence as the regime comes under blistering international condemnation for its crackdown on dissent. The remarks by Bashar Assad, who spoke during an interview with state-run television, came just days after the United States and its European allies called for him to step down. In a now-familiar refrain, Assad promised imminent reforms — including parliamentary elections by February — but insisted the unrest was being driven by a foreign conspiracy, not true reform seekers. The opposition rejected Assad’s remarks, saying they have lost confidence in his promises of reform while his forces open fire on peaceful protesters. Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the government’s crackdown on protests.


Iran has moved some of its centrifuge machines to an underground enrichment site that offers better protection from possible airstrikes, the country’s vice president said Monday. Engineers are “hard at work” preparing the facility in Fordo, which is carved into a mountain to protect it against possible attacks, to house the centrifuges, Fereidoun Abbasi was quoted as saying by state TV. Uranium enrichment lies at the heart of Iran’s dispute with the West, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for bomb. The United States and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop atomic weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity, not a nuclear bomb.

Iran’s president claimed on Tuesday the country’s military can cripple enemies on their own ground as Tehran put a new Iranian-made cruise missile on display, the latest addition to the nation’s growing arsenal. Iran now has an array of short and medium range ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in the region, including Israel and U.S. military bases in the Gulf. Iran began a military self-sufficiency program in 1992, under which it produces a large range of weapons, including tanks, missiles, jet fighters, unmanned drone aircraft and torpedoes.

Iranian authorities imposed a harsh, eight-year sentence on two Americans arrested along the border with Iraq in 2009, state television cited an unnamed judicial source as saying Saturday, in a stunning verdict that could further strain relations between Washington and Tehran. Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal, who have already been held in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison for two years, have 20 days to appeal their convictions on charges of illegal entry into Iranian territory and espionage. Their lawyer, Masoud Shafii, said he had not been officially informed of the sentence and vowed to take the case to the appeals court, arguing that the prosecutors had failed to show any proof of espionage and that the hikers strayed into Iran inadvertently.


Turkey’s military said Tuesday its airstrikes on suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq this week have killed an estimated 90 to 100 guerrillas and warned that it would press ahead with offensives against the group both inside Turkey and across the border. The military also said more than 80 rebels were injured in six days of cross-border air raids that began on Wednesday, hours after eight soldiers and a government-paid village guard were killed in an ambush by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, near the border with Iraq. The military said targets hit included 79 shelters and hideouts, 18 caves, eight depots, 14 PKK buildings or facilities, one ammunition depot, nine anti-aircraft gun positions and three rebel road blocks. The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, is fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict since 1984.

Largest Colorado Quake Since 1973 Shakes Homes

The largest earthquake to strike Colorado in almost 40 years has shaken hundreds of people near the New Mexico border. The magnitude 5.3 earthquake was recorded at about 11:46 p.m. MDT Monday about nine miles southwest of Trinidad, Colo., and about 180 miles south of Denver. The quake followed two smaller ones that hit the area earlier in the day. The quake is the largest in Colorado since a magnitude 5.7 was recorded in 1973. A few homes have been damaged and deputies were investigating reports of rockslides along a highway. More than 30 people in Colorado Springs, about 130 miles north of Trinidad, also reported feeling the quake.


Emergency officials across the southeast United States were closely watching Irene on Tuesday as the first hurricane to seriously threaten the country in three years churned over energizing tropical waters. The storm has already cut a destructive path through the Caribbean. Forecasters say the hurricane could grow to a monstrous Category 4 storm with winds of more than 131 mph before it’s predicted to come ashore this weekend on the U.S. mainland. Irene was forecast to pass over or near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas by Tuesday night and be near the central Bahamas early Wednesday.

Irene slashed directly across Puerto Rico, tearing up trees and knocking out power to more than a million people. It then headed out to sea, north of the Dominican Republic, where the powerful storm’s outer bands were buffeting the north coast with dangerous sea surge and downpours. President Obama declared an emergency for Puerto Rico, making it eligible for federal help. Puerto Rico’s governor is urging people to stay home as the island begins cleaning up from Hurricane Irene. The storm has closed more than a dozen roads, knocked down many trees and caused at least two landslides. The governor told reporters Monday that the storm caused no deaths or major injuries. Schools and many businesses in the U.S. island territory were closed as crews assessed the damage.

Flash floods submerged more than a dozen vehicles in Pittsburgh, killing four people, leaving another missing and presumed dead, and forcing others to swim to safety or scramble onto the roofs of their cars. A pair of storms pounded the city Friday, overwhelming the drainage system and causing manhole covers to pop off the road. Water rose to 9 feet in some places along Washington Boulevard, a main road that runs near the Allegheny River. Rescue crews used inflatable boats to reach marooned drivers, though some swam to safety on their own. A woman and two children whose names were not released, were unable to escape their vehicle, which was completely submerged and pinned to a tree.

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August 19, 2011

Israel Attacked Second Day

Gaza militants launched barrages of rockets deep into Israel early Friday and Israeli aircraft struck targets in the Palestinian territory in the aftermath of the deadliest attack against Israelis in three years. Gunmen who appear to have originated in Gaza and crossed into southern Israel through the Egyptian desert ambushed civilian vehicles traveling on a remote road, killing eight people. Six were civilians, and two were members of Israeli security forces responding to the incursion. The sudden spike in violence threatened to upset the already frayed ties between Israel and Egypt and escalate the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Upcoming U.N. Palestinian Vote & Durban III Conference Target Israel

The Palestinian Authority has officially notified Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that they will seek UN recognition as an independent state on September 20. The Jerusalem Prayer Team reports, “Along with the upcoming UN vote on Palestinian statehood, September will also see the so-called Durban III Conference on Racism. This marks the 10th anniversary of the 2001 meeting held in Durban, South Africa. This ugly UN event was used by Muslims and anti-Semites from around the world to brand Israel as a racist nation rather than addressing actual racism. Three days later, terrorists struck America in the devastating 9/11 attacks. The first Durban conference set the stage for an effort that continues to this day to isolate and delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world. Because of the bigoted hatred for the Jewish people at the first conference, Israel boycotted the second conference held in Geneva in 2009.

The timing of these two events—the UN vote and the Durban III Conference—is no coincidence. There is a coordinated attack against Israel taking place in both the natural and the spiritual realms. We MUST stand now for the Jewish people against the evil plot to steal their land, divide their capital city, and weaken them so that they can be destroyed. Understand this clearly—every nation and individual that supports this plan to curse Israel and steal from her the land God promised the Jews as an eternal possession will suffer His chastisement and judgment. Every nation and individual that opposes this plan and stands with Israel as a blessing to her will enjoy His blessing.”

Planned Parenthood to End Abortions at 7 Arizona Sites

Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion provider, announced a sweeping cutback of abortion services in Arizona on Thursday, saying it will no longer offer the procedure in communities outside metro Phoenix and Tucson. The organization had been offering abortions at 10 of its 13 Arizona locations. Starting Friday, that will drop to three. Planned Parenthood eliminated the services after an Arizona appellate court last week upheld a 2009 state law that placed new restrictions on abortions in the state, including authorizing only physicians to perform surgical abortions. Previously, nurse practitioners and midwives could perform the procedure. A shortage of doctors in the state trained or willing to perform abortions has forced Planned Parenthood to reduce the number of locations where it can offer the service.

  • A wonderful victory for life

Feds to Review Deportation Cases to Cull Serious Crimes

The Obama administration announced today that it would review more than 300,000 pending deportations to focus on high-priority cases, such as illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes. Immigrant-rights groups hailed the decision as a major breakthrough that will protect illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Opponents said the new policy ignores immigration law and will allow people in the country illegally to stay so long as they do not commit serious crimes. DHS and the Department of Justice has created a working group to evaluate all pending deportation cases –- estimated to be more than 300,000 –- and would also screen all new cases. Under the guidelines, auditors would consider a person’s age when they arrived in the country, their criminal record, their education and whether they served in the military when determining whether to move forward with their deportation case.

Some legislators, led by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, have unsuccessfully tried to get Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would have granted legal status to some children of illegal immigrants who had completed high school in the U.S. and planned on attending college or joining the military. Those efforts have repeatedly failed, but they view Thursday’s decision as the next-best option. Republicans accuse the administration of giving illegal immigrants “backdoor amnesty” by fiat.

Iraqi Chaldean-Mexican Crime Ring Busted in San Diego

Federal and California authorities said today they have smashed a San Diego-area crime ring in which Iraqi refugees and one of Mexico’s biggest cartels teamed up to traffic drugs, assault weapons and explosives through a Chaldean syndicate in Detroit. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local police arrested 60 Iraqis late Wednesday at a Chaldean social club in El Cajon, a working-class city east of San Diego. Many of the suspects fled their homeland amid threats from al-Qaeda and other extremists, and some are suspected of being affiliated with the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, an Iraqi gang based in Detroit, home to the nation’s largest Chaldean community. The Iraqis collaborated with the Sinaloa drug cartel.

‘Flash Mobs’ Pose Challenge to Police Tactics

Armed with cellphones and connected through Facebook, bands of young people have been rushing into stores to steal goods or assaulting bystanders in a spate of recent “flash mob” incidents across the USA. This week, surveillance cameras caught several dozen youths swarming into convenience stores in Germantown, Md., and Washington, D.C., and stealing armfuls of snacks and drinks as the store clerk looked on helplessly. How best to combat the technology-connected crimes — and how far police agencies should reach into private online and mobile phone access — are at the core of a growing debate among police officials, city leaders and civil rights activists. Everyone agrees: It’s uncharted territory for law enforcement. A recent survey of 106 retailers nationwide by the National Retailer Federation showed that 80% had experienced multiple-offender crimes in the past six months and one in 10 had been hit by a criminal flash mob.

  • Speaking of the end-times, Jesus said, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

SEC Accused of Squelching Wall Street Investigations

A former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer has told Congress the Wall Street regulator has routinely destroyed records of initial investigations over the past 20 years, obliterating evidence of possible financial crimes by some of the same firms and individuals involved in the 2008 meltdown, Rolling Stone reports. One top agency official estimated that 18,000 investigations were involved, including two aborted inquiries into the activities of Bernard Madoff, who in 2009 pleaded guilty to a $20 billion Ponzi scheme that sent him to prison for 150 years.Rolling Stone writes, “By whitewashing the files of some of the nation’s worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG.”

Government Investigating Standard and Poor’s

The Justice Department is investigating whether the Standard & Poor’s credit ratings agency improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis, The New York Times reported Wednesday. The investigation began before Standard & Poor’s cut the United States’ AAA credit rating this month, but it’s likely to add to the political firestorm created by the downgrade, the newspaper said. Some government officials have since questioned the agency’s secretive process, its credibility and the competence of its analysts, claiming to have found an error in its debt calculations. The Justice Department is investigating instances in which the company’s analysts wanted to award lower ratings on mortgage bonds but may have been overruled by S&P business executives.

Obama in Fundraising Frenzy

President Obama has headlined 127 fundraising events for himself and others, significantly outpacing the fundraising activity of the previous five presidents during their first terms, new research obtained by USA TODAY shows. By comparison, President George W. Bush had held 88 fundraisers and President Clinton, 76, at this point in their first terms. n 2008, Obama collected a record $745 million and became the first major party nominee to reject money from the public-financing program since it began in 1976. So far, he has raised $46.3 million in the first three months of his official re-election campaign, more than the entire GOP field.

Economic News

A batch of disappointing economic reports and worries that the European debt crisis may be spreading deepened recession fears on Thursday. Reports on jobless claims, home sales and manufacturing in the Mid-Atlantic all fell short of economists’ estimates, while inflation was higher than forecast, raising the ugly specter of stagflation — or slow growth and rising prices.

The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits jumped 9,000 to 408,000 last week. Meanwhile, existing-home sales slipped 3.5% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.7 million.

In Europe, stocks plunged on fears that a debt crisis in countries such as Greece, Spain and Italy could spread as lending dries up and banks struggle to get access to capital.

Oil prices fell near $79 a barrel in Asia, extending a major sell-off fueled by investor fears that slowing global growth will undermine demand for crude.


Steadily advancing Libyan rebels have captured an oil refinery within 30 miles of the capital Tripoli, according to reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and the BBC. “We have full control over the Zawiya oil refinery, and we have liberated the whole city except two main streets,” Col. Ali Ahrash told the AP. It is the closest rebel forces have gotten to the capital since the civil war broke out in February. An international body said on Friday it would mount an operation, probably by sea, to evacuate thousands of foreigners trapped in Tripoli by rebel advances that have put Moammar Gadhafi’s capital under siege.


Syrian rights activists said security forces killed at least 16 people on Friday during the first mass protest since President Bashar al-Assad said military operations against demonstrators had ended. Thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country on Friday calling for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad, keeping up the pressure on him in the five-month-old uprising one day after an alliance of nations led by the United States publicly called on him for the first time to step down.


A bomb exploded in a mosque in a Pakistani tribal region as hundreds were gathered for prayers Friday, killing at least 40 people and wounding 85 others in the first major attack in the country during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The bomb went off in Ghundi, a village in the Khyber tribal region, a part of Pakistan’s tribal belt. Khyber has long been a base for Islamist militants, and the Pakistani army has waged multiple operations aimed at pacifying the region but with limited success. Khyber also is a key region for the U.S. and NATO, because a large portion of non-lethal supplies heading to U.S. forces in Afghanistan passes through it.


Suicide attackers stormed a British compound in the Afghan capital on Friday, killing at least 10 people in a five-hour gunfight on the anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain. At least three insurgents fought from a secure bunker inside the compound with rifles and rocket propelled grenades. A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the British Council in the western part of Kabul. The dead included eight Afghan policemen, a security guard whose nationality was not immediately known and an Afghan municipal worker. Britain’s Foreign Office said all insurgents involved in the attack were killed.


Turkey’s air force attacked 28 suspected Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq, the military said Friday, in a second day of cross-border strikes in retaliation for stepped up attacks by the guerrillas. Nearly 100 rounds of artillery also were fired as the warplanes bombed sites on Thursday in the largely mountainous areas just across the border with Iraq as well as on Mount Qandil on the Iraqi-Iranian border. In Wednesday’s attacks, the air force targeted 60 sites in northern Iraq, which rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, use as a springboard for hit-and-run attacks in Turkey. In Iraq, PKK spokesman Ahmed Danis said nine Turkish warplanes bombed areas around the Iraqi provinces of Sulaimaniyah, Irbil and Dahuk near Turkey’s border, and that the targets were “former rebel bases.” He said, “Our fighters left these bases a while ago and now they are in constant mobility. Therefore there were no casualties.”


A magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck off Japan’s northeastern coast Friday, triggering a tsunami advisory that was later lifted. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the temblor, which rattled the area devastated earlier this year by a massive quake and tsunami. The quake was centered about 185 miles northeast of Tokyo and at a depth of 12 miles, slightly south of where the magnitude-9.0 temblor struck March 11, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.


A giant wall of dust rolled through the Phoenix area on Thursday for the third time since early July — turning the sky brown, creating dangerous driving conditions and delaying some airline flights. Some incoming and departing flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were delayed about 40 minutes because of the storm. A powerful thunderstorm packing winds of up to 60 mph hit Pinal County and pushed the dust storm toward Arizona’s most populous county. There were several reports of downed poles. Salt River Project officials said that at the peak of the storm 3,500 of its customers were without electricity, mostly in the Queen Creek area southeast of Phoenix.

The death toll from a fierce thunderstorm that mangled tents and downed trees and scaffolding at an open-air music festival in Belgium has risen to five, officials said Friday. About 40 were injured, 11 of them seriously. Organizers canceled the annual Pukkelpop festival near Hasselt, 50 miles east of Brussels. Buses and trains were pressed into service to transfer the 60,000 festival goers home. The brief but violent thunderstorm on Thursday evening tore down concert tents, several trees and main stage scaffolding. Panicked concertgoers ran through fields of mud looking for shelter.

Increasing temperatures are pushing plant and animal species to move uphill and northward at much faster rates than scientists realized. A study published in today’s edition of the journal Science finds that, overall, species are moving to higher elevations at 36 feet per decade and higher latitudes at 10.5 miles per decade. The rate is two or three times faster than when it was last measured, in 2003. For the most part, it’s not that animals are walking, hopping or winging their way north, Thomas says. Rather, individuals at a species’ southernmost range are breeding less successfully while individuals in that same species’ northernmost range are breeding more successfully. The result is that the entire species moves north.


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August 18, 2011

Al-Qaeda Chief Urges Attacks on America

Al-Qaeda’s new leader called on his followers to continue to fight the United States despite the killing of Osama bin Laden, calling America a “criminal country” that has corrupted the world. in a video posted on militant websites Sunday, Ayman al-Zawahri also said the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have provided opportunities for the group to spread its message. Al-Qaeda has repeatedly tried to forge a role for itself in the uprisings across the Arab world this year, though it played no role in their outbreak and has little in common with the mainly youth activists behind the protests. Most uprisings leaders say they seek greater freedoms, not Islamic states.

Attacks Launched Against Israel

Assailants armed with heavy weapons, guns and explosives launched three attacks in quick succession in southern Israel near the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, killing at least six people and wounding about a dozen more. The rare violence in that part of the country targeted a passenger bus, a military patrol and a private car. “We are talking about a terror squad that infiltrated into Israel,” said Israeli military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich. “This is a combined terrorist attack against Israelis.” The violence near the resort city of Eilat stoked concerns about growing lawlessness in neighboring Sinai following the ouster in February of Egypt’s longtime autocratic leader, Hosni Mubarak. The militants have taken advantage of the security vacuum caused by the abrupt withdrawal of police forces. Authorities have blamed the militants for brazen attacks on police patrols as well as a string of bombings on a key pipeline carrying natural gas to Israel and Jordan.

Pope’s Youth Day Draws a Million as well as Controversies

The weeklong faith extravaganza of World Youth Day is underway now with more than a million young Catholics expected to pour in to Madrid. Pope Benedict XVI isn’t due until Thursday, but the $72 million celebration is still a hot item. And not all for good reasons, according to The New York Times: Bitter debates are raging over the festivities and the role of the church in Spanish politics.” Priests, along with dozens of left-leaning groups demanding a secular state. Youths occupied many of Spain’s main squares for months to protest the government’s handling of the economy, and are planning at least one major protest march on Wednesday. The cost of extra security, of collecting trash and of stress on health systems will add up to millions for taxpayers.

There is also some tension within the ranks. Religion News Service columnist David Gibson points out Catholics for Choice, the Washington-based abortion rights lobby, will be at WYD campaigning for condom use. A year ago the pope said he considered it morally acceptable for preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, but the Vatican has clarified repeatedly condoms are not OK for contraception.

  • The Bible says life is “in the blood” – it doesn’t mention the sperm or egg

Obama: ‘The Buck Stops With Me’

President Obama, channeling former president Harry Truman, told CNN Tuesday that “the buck stops with me.” Obama campaigned for change, so let’s see how he’s done in 2.5 years on the job: since January, 2009, unemployment has gone from 7.6% to 9.1%; the poverty rate increased from 13.2% to 14.3%; food stamp recipients ballooned from 32 million to over 43 million; the national debt surged from $10.6 trillion to $14 trillion; and gas prices more than doubled, from $1.83 to $3.90. Change like this we can do without.

11 New Crimes Tied to ‘Fast and Furious’ Guns

Eleven new violent crimes involving guns bought under the controversial Fast and Furious weapon-running scheme have been identified by the Justice Department. And Kenneth Melson, the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) likely knew about the program more than a year earlier than he has previously acknowledged, assistant attorney general Ronald Weich told two leading senators. The new revelations, reported by the Los Angeles Times are sure to reignite the controversy surrounding the operation in which ATF officers were told not to intercept semi-automatic weapons that they knew would end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel leaders. The plan was to trace the guns which would then lead them to the drug kingpins. But the agency lost track of most of the weapons, two of which were recovered at the scene where U.S. border agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona. U.S. immigration officer Jaime Zapata was also killed by one of the weapons while working in Mexico.

Immigrant Deaths Along Ariz. Border Drop 38%

Migrant deaths along the Arizona border are down significantly this year, corresponding with a sharp drop in apprehensions by the Border Patrol. Causes of death are typically dehydration, exposure to heat and sometimes cold, motor-vehicle accidents and train accidents. The Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector has recorded 132 migrant deaths through July 31, compared with the 212 migrant deaths logged during the same 10-month period in the prior fiscal year. That 38% drop corresponds with a 44% drop in illegal-immigrant apprehensions by the Tucson Sector, which covers the majority of Arizona’s border with Mexico. The sector made 108,900 apprehensions through July 31, compared with 194,065 during the same period last year. The drop in apprehensions is viewed as an indication that fewer migrants are crossing illegally through the Arizona desert.

Foreign Women Come to U.S. to Give Birth

Hundreds of expectant women from Mexico come to Arizona every year specifically to deliver babies at hospitals near the border. Some are in the country illegally. But many others are women of means who enter the country legally as tourists and pay cash to deliver babies at hospitals in Nogales, Yuma and Tucson. In addition to medical care that is perceived to be better in the U.S., the mothers receive an added benefit: Their babies automatically become U.S. citizens. The practice, dubbed “birth tourism” by critics, has been occurring along the border for years. It also happens in cities around the country where expectant women from overseas arrive by plane with tourist visas, with the goal of giving birth during their stay.

Some Republican lawmakers want to put an end to the practice of granting automatic citizenship to children born in the U.S., a right laid out in the 14th Amendment. They call such acts – whether children are born to illegal residents or legal visitors – an exploitation of the Constitution. But how widespread is it? In 2008, slightly more than 7,400 children were born in the U.S. to non-citizens who said they lived outside the country, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In Arizona, less than 2 percent of babies were born to non-resident mothers.

  • This may be an underreported phenomenon, with women using phony documents to claim a U.S. address which hospitals are not under obligation to investigate

Arizona Kids Worse than Most in Poverty, Health, Foreclosure

Children in Arizona are more likely to be poor, uninsured and part of a family whose home has been foreclosed than most American kids, according to a national survey of child well-being released Wednesday. Arizona has typically ranked near the bottom in most of the 10 key indicators for young children and teens. The exception has been the percentage of low birth-weight babies. The recession may have erased some of the gains made in other states and allowed Arizona to move up slightly in three areas: Teen birth rate, 43rd from 45th; Percentage of teens who are dropouts, 42nd from 44th; Percentage of teens not in school or working, 40th from 45th. Overall, the state ranks 37th, up from 39th in last year’s ranking.

Economic News

The Dow Jones plunged about 500 points early Thursday — more than four percent — as the U.S. markets are under intense selling pressure due to weekly jobless claims rising and more fears of a global recession.

U.S. builders broke ground on fewer single-family houses in July, leaving home construction at depressed levels. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders began work on a seasonally adjusted 604,000 homes last month, a 1.5% drop from June. That’s half the 1.2 million homes per year that economists say must be built to sustain a healthy housing market.

A busy month for U.S. automakers lifted overall factory output in July. The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that factory output increased 0.6% last month. That’s the biggest increase since the March 11 earthquake in Japan, which disrupted supply chains and limited output by some U.S. auto plants.

Spurred by low interest rates and a desire to pay off their debts, homeowners are shortening the terms of their loans. In the first quarter, 34% of refinancers switched to a 20- or 15-year loan, the highest level in seven years, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

In another sign of household belt-tightening, the rate of late credit card payments fell to a 17-year low in the second quarter. The national credit card delinquency rate, which measures payments that are 90 days or more past due, was 0.6% at the end of the second quarter. That’s down nearly 19% from the first quarter and 35% from the second quarter of 2010.

All 17 countries that use the euro currency should have mandatory balanced budgets and better coordination of economic policy, the leaders of France and Germany said Tuesday. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also pledged to harmonize their countries’ corporate taxes in a move aimed at showing the eurozone’s largest members are “marching in lockstep” to protect the euro.


Gunmen wearing military uniforms pulled seven people from a Sunni mosque south of Baghdad and then shot and killed them execution-style, officials said Tuesday, raising the death toll to 70 in Iraq’s deadliest day this year. The killings late Monday came at the end of a day that saw a wave of crushing violence sweep across Iraq, from the northern city of Mosul to the Shiite heartland — including suicide bombings, roadside bombs and shootings. The violence was reminiscent of the bloodletting that used to plague Iraq daily a few years ago and a stark warning that al-Qaeda in Iraq is still a force to be reckoned with.


The U.S. military estimates that $360 million spent on combat support and reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan has ended up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and local power brokers with ties to both. The losses, measured over the past year by a special task force, underscore the challenges the U.S. and its international partners face in overcoming corruption in Afghanistan. A central point of U.S. strategy has been to award financial contracts to Afghan businesses to stoke the country’s economy.

A truck bomb ripped through the main security gate of a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least two local guards and injuring nine others. A minibus packed with Afghan civilians has struck a roadside bomb in western Afghanistan Thursday, killing at least 24 people and wounding several others. About 25 people were riding in the minibus, which was on its way to a bazaar where the passengers were going to shop. There was another explosion in the same district, also on Thursday morning. A small truck hit another roadside bomb. That blast seriously wounded at least four civilians.


More than 5,000 Palestinian refugees have fled a camp in the besieged Syrian city of Latakia after President Bashar Assad’s forces shelled the city during a broad military assault to root out dissent. It was not immediately clear where the refugees were seeking shelter. Assad has dramatically escalated the crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising since the start of the holy month of Ramadan, when many Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Despite blistering international outrage, the regime is trying to establish firm control in rebellious areas by unleashing tanks, snipers and — in a new tactic — gunships off the coast.


Dozens of opposition fighters surrounded Libya’s last functioning oil refinery Wednesday and laid siege to about 100 government troops, part of a push which brought them closer to seizing this strategic western city. A rebel victory in Zawiya could be a turning point in the six-month-old war and leave Moammar Gadhafi nearly cornered in his increasingly isolated stronghold of Tripoli, the capital, just 30 miles to the east along the Mediterranean coast. Libyan government forces tapped into their stores of Scud missiles, firing one for the first time in this year’s conflict with rebels, but hurting no one, U.S. defense officials said Monday. The missile launch was detected by U.S. forces shortly after midnight Sunday, and the Scud landed in the desert about 50 miles outside Brega. The strike comes as rebel forces continue to advance, working in recent days to block vital supply routes around Tripoli.


Yemeni opposition groups and protest leaders have formed a national council to step up pressure on Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to relinquish power. Mass protests calling on Saleh to step down have been roiling Yemen for months. In June, Saleh was badly wounded in an attack on his palace compound. Youth groups and political parties named 143 council members to represent the people, a rare show of unity. This comes after Saleh appeared on TV vowing to return from Saudi Arabia, where he taken for treatment of severe burns and injuries from the June attack.


The UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague announced on Wednesday that there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial in the case of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime minister Rafif Hariri. The STL issued four arrest warrants in the case in June, fingering high ranking members of the Iranian backed Shi’ite terror militia Hizbullah, but so far Lebanese authorities have not made any visible attempt to arrest the men, while Hizbullah has warned that any such attempt would be violently resisted. Hizbullah chief, Sheik Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has dismissed the STL as a plot by Israel and the US to sew sectarian strife in Lebanon and weaken the Hizbullah dominated government.


Iranian authorities have seized six thousand five hundred copies of the Bible in northwest of Iran, ASSIST News Service reports. According to the Mohabat News, Dr. Majid Abhari, advisor to the social issues committee of the parliament in Iran, said “these missionaries with reliance on huge money and propaganda are trying to deviate our youth.” Abhari did not present any more details about the seizure of 6,500 gospels but he did say: “These books were made with the best paper in the world in pocket size,” adding: “The important point in this issue that should be considered by intelligence, judicial and religious agencies is that all religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam, otherwise what does this huge number of Bibles mean?” Mohabat News stated that in November of 2010, police officers and revolutionary guards seized 300 bibles from a bus after its inspection and burned them.

  • So, it’s okay for Islamists to burn the Bible, but not for Christians to burn the Quran?


The west coast of the U.S. hasn’t seen a significant rain in quite some time. As a result, seven wildfires are currently burning in western Idaho, consuming over 59,500 acres (about 93 sq. miles) thus far. Four structures have been destroyed, many more are threatened and some evacuations are in effect.


With hurricane season still ahead, a record-tying nine $1 billion weather disasters have already racked the nation this year, federal, state and private forecasters reported Wednesday. Following on the heels of the 60-mph wind gusts that collapsed a stage and killed five at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, the National Weather Service estimates that weather disasters have cost more than $35 billion this year, based on insurance estimates. Recent flooding in the Midwest along the Missouri and Souris rivers topped the $2 billion damage mark. The year has been marked by floods, drought and tornadoes, such as the May twister that killed 160 people in Joplin, Mo. Meanwhile, a Texas heat wave has cost $5.2 billion in crop and livestock losses so far. Nationwide, the number of natural disasters has tripled in the last two decades.

Some U.S. cities are preparing to cope with continued climate change. In Chula Vista, Calif., new waterfront buildings will be required to have higher foundations because of an expected rise in sea levels. In Chicago, where flooding is predicted to worsen, residents can get rebates for putting rain barrels, compost bins and native plants in their yards. And in New York City, where rising tides are also projected, wastewater treatment plants will elevate their pumps. An increasing number of cities have begun vulnerability assessments. The “Thirsty for Answers” report by the Natural Resources Defense Council report says coastal cities such as New York and San Francisco anticipate “serious challenges” from sea-level rise, while Southwestern cities such as Phoenix will face water shortages and Midwestern cities, including Chicago and St. Louis, can expect more intense storms and flooding.

Residents of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington took delight in the unusual sight of snow in what forecasters are describing as a once-in-a-lifetime event Tuesday. Some areas got up to 2 inches and roads needed to be plowed in the first snowfall in over fifty years.

  • End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme, not just heat and flooding but drought and wind as well.

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August 15, 2011

Prime Minister: U.K. Must Reverse ‘Moral Collapse’

Britain must confront its “slow-motion moral collapse” Prime Minister David Cameron declared Monday, following four days of riots that left five people dead, thousands facing criminal charges and at least 200 million pounds ($350 million) in property losses. Cameron said his coalition government would spend the next few weeks examining policies designed to tackle a culture of laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness. He also pledged to toughen rhetoric from ministers and officials, whom he claimed had too often had shied away from promoting strong moral standards. “This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face,” Cameron said.

  • At last a major political leader owns up to the real problem plaguing the world – godlessness, unholiness and resultant lawlessness

Victory for Pro-Life Advocates in Arizona

The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the Abortion Consent Act last Friday. This law, signed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2009, was enjoined by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Daughton following a Planned Parenthood lawsuit. The 3-0 opinion vacates the injunction in its entirety. The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) drafted the Abortion Consent Act and is a part of the legal team defending the constitutionality of the law. The team is led by the Arizona Attorney General, Arizona House Speaker, and Alliance Defense Fund and also includes Bioethics Defense Fund and Life Legal Defense Foundation.

Key provisions that will be enacted include: The state will require a notarized parental signature before an abortion can be performed on a minor child; Women will be provided with full and accurate information by a doctor in person at least 24 hours before an abortion; Medical professionals cannot be forced to perform abortions if it contradicts their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs; Non-doctors will not be permitted by law to perform surgical abortions.

Court Strikes Down Obama Health Insurance Mandate

A federal appeals court panel struck down the centerpiece of President Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul Friday, moving the argument over whether Americans can be required to buy health insurance a step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court. The divided three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Congress overstepped its authority when lawmakers passed the so-called individual mandate. It’s a stinging blow to Obama’s signature legislative achievement, as most experts agree the requirement that Americans carry health insurance — or face tax penalties — is the foundation for other parts of the law. The 11th Circuit’s ruling, which sided with 26 states that had sued to stop the law from taking effect.

Voters Not Optimistic about U.S. Direction

According to a Fox News poll released Thursday, nearly two-thirds of voters (64 percent) don’t feel hopeful about the direction of the country. Just 33 percent do. Most Republicans (81 percent) and independents (74 percent) are not hopeful. Democrats are alone in feeling more hopeful than not — but just barely: 49-46 percent. Behind the public’s gloomy attitude: 71 percent think the economy is getting worse. That’s up 13 percentage points from 58 percent just three weeks ago, before the debt agreement, and a whopping 19 points from 52 percent in July 2010. The sentiment about a worsening economy is widespread, as those in both higher and lower-income households as well as younger and older voters alike feel that way. Voters are also downbeat about the new debt deal. Half (50 percent) see it as a “weak” agreement that won’t do much good and another 28 percent say it’s a “terrible” deal that will actually damage the country. Only 14 percent describe it as a “good” agreement that is in the “best interest of Americans.”

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s approval numbers have hit an all-time low, falling below 40 percent for the first time in Gallup’s daily tracking poll. However, his approval rating remains high among Muslims. Eighty percent of Muslim Americans approve of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president, according to a newly released survey conducted by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, a partnership between Gallup and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

Arizona Recall Election Could Spark National Repercussions for Immigration Reform

The dust has barely settled around the state recall election in Wisconsin where Democrats were only able to claim two of the six seats, but already national attention is turning to another heated recall in Arizona. While Wisconsin instigated states across the country to try to change the way public employees could engage in collective bargaining, Arizona’s recall could put comprehensive immigration reform back in the political spotlight ahead of the 2012 election. The author of the controversial immigration law Arizona SB 1070, Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, will face the first recall election of a state legislator there in history this November. It’s a first for Arizona, but Pearce will be the ninth state legislator nationally to face a recall this year. So far at least three people have decided to challenge the senator. And this week a Maricopa Co. judge is expected to rule on a petition to throw the entire recall out based on what supporters say was a flawed process.

Hackers Attack San Fran Transit System

San Francisco’s mass transit system prepared for renewed protests Monday, a day after hackers angry over blocked cell phone service at some transit stations broke into a website and posted company contact information for more than 2,000 customers. The action by a hacker group known as Anonymous was the latest showdown between anarchists angry at perceived attempts to limit free speech and officials trying to control protests that grow out of social networking and have the potential to become violent. Officials said Sunday that they were working a strategy to try to block any efforts by protesters to try to disrupt the service.

Gov’t Pays for Empty Flights at Rural Airports

On some days, the pilots with Great Lakes Airlines fire up a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900 at the Ely, Nev., airport and depart for Las Vegas without a single passenger on board. And the federal government pays them to do it. Federal statistics reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 2010, just 227 passengers flew out of Ely while the airline got $1.8 million in subsidies. The travelers paid $70 to $90 for a one-way ticket. The cost to taxpayers for each ticket: $4,107. Ely is one of 153 rural communities where airlines get subsidies through the $200 million Essential Air Service program, and one of 13 that critics say should be eliminated from it. Some call the spending a boondoggle, but others see it as a critical financial lifeline to ensure economic stability in rural areas. The fight over the subsidies was a key sticking point that led to the recent political standoff in Washington that temporarily shut down the Federal Aviation Administration, putting thousands out of work for nearly two weeks.

Economic News

What’s the trigger for the next economic crisis in the U.S.? For more than 850 days the US has gone without a budget. The House passed one not long ago; the Senate tabled it. The Administration has not offered up one either. The absence of an approved budget means that the only way the country can continue to operate is through a series of temporary extensions which expire the end of September. The last time we went through a vote on a continuing resolution was just four months ago. That fight went down to the wire.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, says if the economy double dips, Recession 2.0 would be worse than the last and very difficult to escape. “It won’t feel like a new recession. It would likely feel like a depression,” Zandi warns.

The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is considering cutting as many as 120,000 jobs. The post office has cut 110,000 jobs over the last four years and is currently engaged in eliminating 7,500 administrative staff. Congressional approval would be needed and would face severe opposition from postal unions which have contracts that ban layoffs.

Falling mortgage rates are sparking a miniboom in refinancings among homeowners eager to save money — but that won’t be enough to cure the ailing economy. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.5% this week, a record low, while 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.32%, the lowest in nine months and near a record low. While interest rates have been going down for three years, home sales have remained weak because of the dour economy. But refinance applications were up 30% for the week ended Aug. 5, putting them at their highest level of the year.

Consumers spent more on autos, furniture and gasoline in July, pushing up retail sales by the largest amount in four months. The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales rose 0.5% last month, best showing since a 0.8% advance in March. The gain could signal that Americans are a little more confident and help dispel fears that the country is in danger of toppling into another recession. Consumer spending is always closely watched because it accounts for 70% of economic growth.

The Arab states of the Gulf region have agreed to launch a single currency modeled on the euro. They believe the U.S. dollar has failed; and that a “new” Arab currency will give their club of oil exporters a way to displace the U.S. dollar as the pricing currency for oil contracts.


Police in London said Friday they have charged almost 700 people with violence, disorder and looting over deadly riots in Britain’s capital, as the city’s mayor said Londoners wanted to see “significant sentences” handed out to the guilty. Across the country, more than 1,700 people have been arrested. Courts in London, Birmingham and Manchester stayed open through a second night to deal with hundreds of alleged offenders. Hundreds of stores were looted, buildings were set ablaze and several people died amid the mayhem that broke out Saturday in London and spread over four nights across England. Victims include three men in Birmingham run down by a car as they defended their neighborhood.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia is getting bolder in its strategy for dealing with the Middle East’s uprisings. No longer waiting for Washington’s cue, the kingdom is aggressively trying to influence the regional turmoil and boost its two goals — protect fellow royal houses and isolate its rival, Iran. The more decisive policies by King Abdullah were on full display this past week as he took the lead among Arab nations by yanking his ambassador from Syria and demanding an “end to the killing machine” of President Bashar Assad’s regime in a startlingly strong condemnation of Damascus’ bloody suppression of protesters. It was the first time the predominantly Sunni kingdom has weighed in publicly on Syria’s upheaval. For the Saudis, the revolt in Syria is a chance to strike at one of the pillars of Iran’s influence. Assad’s ruling clique is dominated by his Alawite sect, a Shiite offshoot that comprises about 11 percent of the country and maintains close ties with Shiite power Iran.


Mike Evans, founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, says, “For the past few weeks, I have been hearing from high-level sources in Jerusalem that the nation of Israel is preparing for war. The belief is that once the UN vote takes place on a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital city, war will break out. Israel is preparing to be attacked by its neighbors—not only the Palestinian terrorists of Hamas and Fatah, but Hezbollah, armed and funded by Syria and Lebanon, and perhaps even troops from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iran as well. The enemies of Israel are encouraged by the lack of support from America and the Obama Administration for the Jewish state, and they believe this is their moment to accomplish their long-held goal to destroy Israel.”

Brushing off recent proclamations of “deep concern” about Israeli building in eastern Jerusalem by the US and EU, Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced approval of 1,600 additional housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood on Thursday. An additional 700 in Pisgat Ze’ev and another 2,000 in Givat Hamatos are expected to be approved in the next few days. Anti-settlement activists claimed that Yishai was taking advantage of protests against housing shortages to push an agenda that most of those protesting are opposed to.


Syrian troops besieged residential areas of two key cities Monday, firing on residents as they fled for safety and killing at least five people during broad military assaults to root out dissent against President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime. Assad has dramatically escalated the crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Earlier, tens of thousands of Syrian protesters shouted for President Bashar Assad’s death Friday in a dramatic escalation of their rage and frustration, defying bullets and rooftop snipers after more than a week of intensified military assaults on rebellious cities. Security forces killed at least 14 protesters, according to human rights groups. The protests have grown dramatically over the five months that followed, driven in part by anger over the government’s bloody crackdown in which rights groups say at least 1,700 civilians have been killed.


As rebels close in on Tripoli, Libya’s interior minister has surfaced in Cairo with nine members of his family in a new blow to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The BBC says the visit has led to speculation of a possible defection from Gadhafi’s inner circle. Al Jazeera also reports that rebels are within 30 miles of the Libyan capital and have taken the key supply route town of Az-Zawiyah. The rebels battling Moammar Gadhafi’s troops along the country’s Mediterranean coast said they captured a key oil terminal Thursday that has repeatedly changed hands in the 6-month-old civil war. Brega’s capture would be an important boost for the rebels because whoever controls the strategic oil terminal, which is also Libya’s second-largest hydrocarbon complex, is in charge of the country’s main oil fields.


The presiding judge in the trial of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has decided to stop live TV broadcasts of the upcoming proceedings which he postponed till Sept. 5th. He decided Monday to stop the broadcasts before the next hearing when he plans to summon witnesses. The trial of Mubarak, who ruled with unquestioned power for 29 years, was one of the main demands of the protesters who forced him out of office on Feb. 11. It came after weeks of protests and street pressure on the country’s military rulers, who took charge after Mubarak stepped down. The start of the trial was a relief for many protesters. But many are still wary that it may come at the expense of other changes the protest movement is pushing for.


A new wave of fighting erupted in Yemen in a southern provincial capital that has been overrun by extremist militants, killing at least 17 al-Qaeda-linked fighters and three soldiers, a military official said Sunday. The official said the clashes took place in and around Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province. The city, along with several southern towns, has been overrun by al-Qaeda-linked militants in the last two months of ongoing political turmoil in Yemen. The United States and neighboring Saudi Arabia are particularly concerned about al-Qaeda in Yemen, which is the terror group’s most active branch.


Bomb blasts ripped through more than a dozen Iraqi cities Monday morning, killing 56 people — most of them in the southern city of Kut — in a wave of violence that shattered what had been a relatively peaceful holy month of Ramadan. The violence struck from the northern city of Kirkuk to the capital of Baghdad to the southern Shiite cities of Najaf, Kut and Karbala, and emphasized the persistent ability of insurgents to wreak havoc at a time when Iraqi officials are weighing whether they are able to protect the country without the assistance of American troops.


Afghan police say 22 people have been killed in an attack by six suicide bombers on a governor’s compound in eastern Afghanistan. A suicide car bomber attacked the southern gate of the Parwan provincial governor’s compound in the city of Charikar, 30 miles outside Kabul, on Sunday. Five insurgents wearing bomb vests then burst into the compound. The police say they killed three suicide bombers and two others died when they detonated their explosives. Fourteen of the dead were civilian Afghan government employees and five were policemen. The attack in one of Afghanistan’s most secure provinces drove home the point that the Taliban is able to strike at will virtually anywhere in the country. Insurgent attacks also killed nine NATO service members in two days in Afghanistan. Eight of the nine NATO service members who died on Thursday and Friday were killed by roadside bombs, the insurgents’ weapon of choice.


The starvation of tens of thousands of people in Somalia — including 29,000 children — is being worsened by Islamist jihadists who are creating a catastrophe by blocking aid groups from getting food and and water to the suffering. The worst drought in decades is affecting several countries in the Horn of Africa, but the famine is worst in southern Somalia, where al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda, is preventing aid groups from helping nearly 3 million people living under its control, according to the State Department and aid groups. Many Somalis in the south live off livestock that are dying because of the drought. Al-Shabaab has accused aid workers of being spies and threatened to kill them; it is also looting food meant for the starving.

  • It’s nice to see how the peaceful religion of Islam is also so compassionate. Oddly, the aid groups include many Christian organizations


Concerns about the “silent killing” of Christians in Nigeria are being overlooked by the media and the Nigerian government, says a spokesman of an anti-persecution organization. International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that Boko Haram has reportedly killed at least ten Christians in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Church leaders in the area say the radical Islamic group wants to implement sharia law and see Christianity destroyed. “Christians have been killed in a way which doesn’t attract too much attention,” he explains. “So, because of that, the media or the government is not giving enough attention to the situation,” says Jonathan Racho, regional manager of Africa for ICC.


Nearly a dozen people were slain in violent attacks over the weekend in the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco, police said Sunday. Earlier, Mexican police arrested the suspected leader of a brutal drug gang called “The Hand with Eyes” and he has confessed to helping carry out or ordering more than 600 murders. Oscar Osvaldo Garcia Montoya, 36, was arrested in an overnight raid on a presumed safe house on the outskirts of Mexico City. The organization is known for extreme violence, including decapitations. Many of its victims have been drug dealers and rivals killed as the group fought for control of drug sales in Mexico state, an area that includes many of the poor suburbs ringing the capital.


Earlier last week scientists reported that the tsunami unleashed by the March earthquake off Japan calved off icebergs from Antarctica 8,000 miles away. Today comes the news that the disaster also shook up Earth’s upper atmosphere. Using about 1,000 global positioning receivers in Japan and Taiwan, researchers detected waves in the electrically charged particles of the ionosphere, more than 200 miles high, LiveScience reported. It was the largest such disturbances ever seen.LiveScience says the finding could lead to new warning systems for tsunamis and earthquakes.


Oklahoma officials say a wildfire destroyed nearly 40 homes, causing up to $20 million in damage. One person has been found dead. State insurance commissioner John Doak said many homeowners didn’t have coverage because they thought it was too expensive. The wildfires during this drought-stricken summer may cause insurance premiums to go up even more.


Four people were killed and 40 were injured severely enough that they needed to be taken to local hospitals at the Indiana State Fair when a fierce wind blew caused a massive rigging to collapse in a tent above the stage just before a concert was to begin. More than 150 were treated at a makeshift triage unit at the fairgrounds itself.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area’s streak of 100-degree days is over — just two shy of the record set in 1980. The 100-degree streak ended at 40 days, just missing the 1980 record of 42 days consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures. After the region watched temperatures soar going all the way back to July 2, clouds moved in Thursday afternoon and some parts even got a little rain.

Another year, another “flood of the century” on the Mississippi River. But while the lower Mississippi has a plan for major flooding, the upper part of the nation’s largest waterway is more subject to nature’s whims. Some river interests want to change that through “Plan H,” an Army Corps of Engineers proposal to raise and upgrade most levees north of St. Louis. But many in Missouri are concerned because the plan would create something of a spillway in three northern Missouri counties — Pike, Lincoln and St. Charles. Politicians and residents there say they don’t want to become a “dumping ground” for floodwaters. Plan H was borne out of years of study into the best way to tame the upper Mississippi, from where it begins as a trickle in Minnesota through its midway point near St. Louis. The upper river includes roughly 140 levees. Under Plan H, all but about 20 would be raised to protect against a 500-year flood.

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August 11, 2011

Census Reveals 20 Years of Sweeping Change

Data from the 2010 census show that the USA is bigger, older, more Hispanic and Asian and less wedded to marriage and traditional families than it was in 1990. It also is less enamored of kids, more embracing of several generations living under one roof, more inclusive of same-sex couples, more cognizant of multiracial identities, more suburban, less rural and leaning more to the South and West. The end of the first decade of the 21st century marks a turning point in the nation’s social, cultural, geographic, racial and ethnic fabric. It’s a shift so profound that it reveals an America that seemed unlikely a mere 20 years ago — one that will influence the nation for years to come in everything from who is elected to run the country, states and cities to what type of houses will be built and where.

The metamorphosis over just two decades stuns even demographers and social observers. The black-white racial dynamics that have dominated much of the nation’s history have been scrambled by the explosive growth of Hispanics. In most southern states where the black-white legacy has deep roots, Hispanics have accounted for most of the population gains during the past decade. The starkest evidence of the cultural revolution the nation has undergone in two decades lies in the first government reporting of same-sex households. The traditional nuclear family — one or two adults and their young children — continues to ebb. In its place, a grab bag of alternatives has appeared.

  • The demolition of the so-called “nuclear” family – God’s ordained social order – not only is “sweeping” in scope but is also a key indicator that the period Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows” is well underway and accelerating toward the Great Tribulation

Ten Commandments Monument Triggers Court Fight

The folks who live in the sparsely populated rural region along Florida’s upper west coast don’t like outsiders butting in, especially when it comes to their religious beliefs. They’re appealing a federal judge’s order to remove a five-foot high granite monument that prominently displays the Ten Commandments in front of the Dixie County courthouse by Sunday. It’s the latest skirmish in a years-long conflict across the United States between state and local officials who have wanted to honor the laws that help define their faith and those who argue such displays should stay out of any public forum. It has been almost eight years since former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from office and gained nationwide notoriety for refusing to move another huge granite monument to the commandments from the court’s lobby. But similar disputes continue to trickle through the courts in towns and counties nationwide. Dixie County officials and residents say support for their monument is unanimous and they accuse outsiders of trampling on their way of life.

Army OKs Atheist-Themed Concert at Fort Bragg

The U.S. Army at Fort Bragg has cleared plans for an atheist-themed concert that was organized in response to an evangelical Christian concert last fall. Organizers of Rock Beyond Belief had planned to hold their concert this year, but charged that Fort Bragg leadership was not providing the same support as Rock the Fort, which had been organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The festival will be held next March at the main parade field where the Christian-themed concert was held.

Study: Education Doesn’t Breed Atheism

A Baptist report says that contrary to popular belief, atheism is not the norm for people with higher education, nor does education push people away from God. What it may do is make them more likely to accept a liberal attitude toward religion. Philip Schwadel, associate professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that for each year of education beyond seventh grade people are actually 15 percent more likely to attend some sort of religious service. However, people are also 15 percent more likely to believe that truth can be found in more than one religion. Schwadel said.another example of liberal-leaning attitudes toward religion that often come with education is the 13 percent decrease in people who say the Bible is the “actual word” of God. Schwadel found more people tend to say the Bible is God’s “inspired word.”

Abortions Down in Nebraska

Nebraska has seen a drop in its abortion rate — and a pro-life organization believes it has to do with the passing of a recent measure. Nebraska has seen a 10-percent decrease in abortions done in the first six months of 2011 as compared to the first six months of 2010. The new law bans abortion after 20- weeks’ gestation, which sent Omaha late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart packing to a new facility in Georgetown, Maryland. Other states have followed Nebraska’s example in passing similar laws. Oklahoma, Alabama, Idaho and Kansas have also passed “unborn baby pain ban” measures in 2011.

Terror ‘Co-Conspirators’ Vet U.S. Military Chaplains

An Islamic group that was named by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas and is closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood is the official endorsing agency for the U.S. Armed Forces Muslim chaplain program. The Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, also runs regular events for the military’s Muslim chaplains. Since the Muslim chaplain program’s inception in 1993, ISNA has been the official endorsing agency of the new chaplains.  In addition, WorldNetDaily reports that the Muslim chaplain program was founded by a terror-supporting convict while the Army’s first Islamic chaplain, who is still serving, has been associated with a charity widely accused of serving as an al-Qaida front. Discover the Networks also notes that ISNA –through its Saudi-government-backed affiliate the North American Islamic Trust – reportedly holds the mortgages on 50 percent to 80 percent of all mosques in the U.S. and Canada.

  • The fox is now in the henhouse.

Republicans Keep Slim Majority in Wisconsin Senate

Wisconsin Republicans retained four of six state Senate seats at stake Tuesday, narrowly holding onto a majority in recall elections seen as a referendum on GOP moves to strip public workers of most collective bargaining rights. Democrats ousted two Republican senators but fell short of the three victories they needed to capture a majority and with it the power to thwart Republican legislation. Beyond control of Wisconsin’s state Senate, both political parties were watching the state’s voters for a signal with broad implications nationally on GOP efforts to reduce the size of government and the services it delivers, and the unions’ role in politics. Democrats had hoped a clear victory would deliver a powerful counterpunch to Republican Tea Party backers in Congress who have pushed for big spending cuts that could roll back health and retirement benefits for seniors. In light of Republicans’ successful stand during Wisconsin’s recent recall election, advocates for educational freedom thinks other states embroiled in fights over collective bargaining for unions should be cautiously encouraged.

Arizona Governor Appeals Immigration Law to Supreme Court

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer filed an appeal Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that put on hold key parts of the state’s immigration enforcement law. Brewer lost her first appeal in April when a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her request to overturn the decision. The nation’s highest court has discretion on whether to hear her subsequent appeal. Her lawyers ask the court to hear the appeal and argued that Arizona bears the brunt of America’s border problems and that the 9th Circuit’s decision conflicts with Supreme Court precedents. The appeal contests a district court’s decision that barred police from enforcing a requirement that police question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.

Philly Announces Youth Curfew to Combat Violent ‘Flash Mobs’

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced a 9:00 p.m. weekend curfew for minors Monday, as the city continued its fight against “flash mobs” of violent youths that have plagued the city for the past two years. The curfew will apply to anyone under 18 in the Center City and University City areas of Philadelphia. As recently as July 29, a mob of youths as young as 11 gathered and attacked strangers at Center City.

Cutbacks Force Retreat in War on Methamphetamine

Police and sheriff’s departments in states that produce much of the nation’s methamphetamine have made a sudden retreat in the war on meth, at times virtually abandoning pursuit of the drug because they can no longer afford to clean up the toxic waste generated by labs. Despite abundant evidence that the meth trade is flourishing, many law enforcement agencies have called off tactics that have been used for years to confront drug makers: sending agents undercover, conducting door-to-door investigations and setting up stakeouts at pharmacies to catch people buying large amounts of cold medicine. The steep cutbacks began after the federal government in February canceled a program that provided millions of dollars to help local agencies dispose of seized labs. Since then, an Associated Press analysis shows, the number of labs seized has plummeted.

Makeup of Deficit-Reduction ‘Supercommittee’ Nearly Set

Sen. Pat Toomey voted against the debt-limit compromise last week, partly because he didn’t think the budget-balancing recommendations of the bipartisan committee it created would stick. A week later, Toomey finds himself serving on the committee he voted against. The Pennsylvanian was one of six Republican members appointed Wednesday to Congress’ new 12-member “supercommittee.” All the Republican appointees are “taxpayer friendly,” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. They’ve all signed his pledge not to raise taxes — which was a key obstacle in the various failed plans to raise the debt ceiling. Under the debt-limit-increase law, the committee has until Nov. 23 to recommend ways to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. If they fail — or if Congress doesn’t approve those measures by Dec. 23 — the law triggers spending cuts of $1.5 trillion, divided equally between domestic and defense spending. The choices from both parties include some “land mines,” increasing the likelihood of deadlock say some political observers.

  • As the economic climate moves into crisis mode, it remains to be seen whether the supercommittee will have the courage to take drastic action to reduce federal debt and avoid default. It may already be too late.

Federal Reserve to Keep Interest Rates Near Zero

The Federal Reserve made a rare promise on Tuesday to hold short-term interest rates near zero through at least the middle of 2013, in a sign that it has all but written off the chances of an expansion strong enough to drive up wages and prices. By its action, the Fed is declaring that it, too, sees little prospect of rapid growth and little risk of inflation. Its hope is that the showman’s gesture will spur investment and risk-taking by convincing markets that the cost of borrowing will not rise for at least two years. The Fed’s statement contributed to wild market oscillations as investors struggled to make sense of the economy and the path ahead. It is now conventional wisdom among forecasters that the economy will plod along through the end of President Obama’s first term in office. Millions of Americans will not find work. Wages will not rise substantially.

Economic News

Standard & Poor’s lowered the AAA ratings of thousands of municipal bonds tied to the federal government, including housing securities and debt backed by leases, following its Aug. 5 downgrade of the U.S. S&P also cut ratings on securities backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Top-rated state and local governments wouldn’t automatically lose their top scores, the company said. The country’s “decentralized governmental structure” calls for an independent review of state and local government credits.

Plunge! Rebound! Crash! Rally! Plunge again! That’s been the depressing story line of the stock market the past five trading days, a gut-wrenching, confidence-testing, wealth-destroying bout of volatility that has put investors on edge. The Dow plunged 520 points Wednesday to 10,720 — its ninth-worst point loss ever. A day earlier, it had soared 430 points, following a super-scary swoon of 635 points on Monday. The mayhem started last Thursday, when the blue chip index tumbled 513 points.

The United States’ budget deficit has topped $1 trillion for a third straight year, adding pressure on Congress and the White House to make more progress on a long-term plan to shrink the growing imbalance. The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit through July totaled $1.1 trillion. Three years ago, that would have been a record high for a full year.

American producers sold fewer industrial engines, electric generators and farm products to the rest of the world in June, pushing the trade deficit to the highest level since 2008 and dealing another blow to an already struggling economy. The deficit rose 4.4 percent to $53.1 billion in June, the largest imbalance since October 2008, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week below 400,000 for the first time in four months, a sign that the job market is improving slowly after a recent slump. Applications for unemployment aid dropped by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 395,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Applications had been above 400,000 for the previous 17 weeks. Applications fell in February to 375,000, a level that reflects healthy job growth.

The economy added 117,000 net jobs in July, the government said last week. That was an improvement from the previous two months. But it’s far below the average of 215,000 jobs per month that companies created from February through April.

U.S. workers were less productive in the spring for the second quarter in a row, a trend that may not bode well for future hiring. Productivity dropped 0.3% in the April-June quarter, following a decline of 0.6% in the first three months of the year, the Labor Department said Tuesday. It was the first back-to-back decline in productivity since the second half of 2008.

With oil prices falling to the lowest prices in almost a year, a drop in gasoline prices is sure to follow. Oil for September delivery was trading at about $78 a barrel yesterday, down from a recent peak of over $100 a barrel and at the lowest prices since September 2010. The government said yesterday in its weekly survey that the average price of a gallon of regular was $3.674 nationally last week, down almost a nickel from the week before. Arizona continues to have the lowest gas prices in the nation.

China called upon the world to dump its U.S. dollars and buy Yuan.  In comments emailed to CNBC, Guan Jianzhong, chairman of Dagong Global Credit Rating, said the U.S. dollar will be “gradually discarded by the world,” and the “process will be irreversible.”

Pew Forum Report Analyzes Global Religious Restrictions

According to a Religion News Service release, more than 2.2 billion people, nearly a third (32%) of the world’s total population of 6.9 billion, live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially between mid-2006 and mid-2009. The data is from a new study on global restrictions on religion released by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Only about 1% of the world’s population lives in countries where government restrictions or social hostilities declined. In general, most of the countries that experienced substantial increases in government restrictions or social hostilities involving religion already had high or very high levels of restrictions or hostilities. By contrast, nearly half of the countries that had substantial decreases in restrictions or hostilities already scored low. This suggests that there may be a gradual polarization taking place in which countries that are relatively high in religious restrictions are becoming more restrictive, while those that are relatively low are becoming less restrictive.

Arab States to Lead UN in September

YNet News reported on Tuesday that next month, when the Palestinian Authority is scheduled to go to the UN General Assembly to seek recognition for a Palestinian State, the Security Council and the GA will both be chaired by representatives from Arab countries. Lebanon  will serve as president of the Security Council in September and Qatar will head the General Assembly for one year as of next month. Lebanon’s Ambassador to the UN, Nawaf Salam, will preside over Security Council meetings next month, with the authority to set one special topic for discussion, as well as other prerogatives including inviting speakers. “This is the daily reality we face in the UN,” lamented Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor. “It requires double the effort in an arena which has an automatic majority against us.”

Great Britain

A wave of violence and looting raged across London and spread to three other major British cities, as authorities struggled to contain the country’s worst unrest since race riots set the capital ablaze in the 1980s. In London, groups of young people rampaged for a third straight night, setting buildings, vehicles and garbage dumps alight, looting stores and pelting police officers with bottles and fireworks into early Tuesday. The spreading disorder was an unwelcome warning of the possibility of violence during London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, less than a year away. Police called in hundreds of reinforcements and volunteer police officers — and made a rare decision to deploy armored vehicles in some of the worst-hit districts — but still struggled to keep pace with the unfolding chaos.

The riots appeared to have little unifying cause — though some involved claimed to oppose sharp government spending cuts, which will slash welfare payments and cut tens of thousands of public sector jobs. British Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer recess Tuesday and nearly tripled the number of police on the streets of London to deal with the crisis touched off by three days of rioting.


Despite five months of blistering attacks on dissent, the Syrian regime has yet to score a decisive victory against a pro-democracy uprising determined to bring down the country’s brutal dictatorship. President Bashar Assad still has the military muscle to level pockets of resistance, but the conflict has robbed him of almost all international support. Even Saudi Arabia this week called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, the first of several Arab nations to join the growing chorus against Assad. There is little to stop Assad from calling upon the scorched-earth tactics that have kept his family in power for more than 40 years. A longtime pariah, Syria grew accustomed to shrugging off the world’s reproach long before the regime started shooting unarmed protesters five months ago. The Obama administration is preparing to explicitly demand the departure of Syrian President Bashar Assad and hit his regime with tough new sanctions, U.S. officials said Tuesday.


NATO and Libyan officials both refuted damaging claims Wednesday in the 6-month old civil war, with NATO insisting its airstrike killed soldiers and mercenaries, not 85 civilians, and the state-run TV apparently showing Moammar Gadhafi’s youngest son alive to counter rebel allegations of his death. Rebels had claimed Friday that Khamis Gadhafi was killed in another airstrike in Zlitan. NATO aircraft hit a staging base and military accommodation 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of Zlitan. Four buildings and nine vehicles within the compound were struck with precision-guided munitions.


A burqa-clad female suicide bomber attacked police at the scene of an earlier explosion in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, twin strikes that killed five people and broke a relative lull in militant violence in the country. Islamist extremists with links to al-Qaeda have waged a bloody campaign against Pakistan’s pro-Western rulers since 2007, targeting police, government and Western targets. Up to 35,000 people have been killed, raising fears abroad over the stability of the nuclear-armed nation.


Coalition forces will maintain the intense pace of night raids that are aimed at killing or capturing insurgent leaders despite the Taliban attack on a helicopter that killed 30 U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan, the top coalition commander said Wednesday. Marine Gen. John Allen said a coalition airstrike killed the insurgents responsible for shooting down the helicopter, which was the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in the 10-year-old war. Allied and Afghan forces have launched thousands of raids against insurgent leadership. The raids have proved effective at decimating insurgent cells.


Hundreds of thousands of Somali children could die in East Africa’s famine unless more help arrives, a top U.S. official warned Monday in the starkest death toll prediction yet. To highlight the crisis, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden visited a refugee camp filed with hungry Somalis. A drought has turned into famine because little aid can reach militant-controlled south-central Somalia, forcing tens of thousands of Somalis who have exhausted all the region’s food to walk to camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and the Somali capital of Mogadishu. Washington announced roughly $100 million in new famine aid. The number of people fleeing famine-hit areas of Somalia is likely to rise dramatically and could overwhelm international aid efforts in the Horn of Africa, a U.N. aid official said Tuesday.


Arizona set a dubious record Wednesday when a blaze near the Grand Canyon pushed total acreage blackened by wildfires this year to an all-time high of 981,748, surpassing the previous mark of 975,178 acres in 2005. The 2011 fire season stands unrivaled in its destruction of wildlands due to an early-summer combination of extremely dry weather and windy conditions that fed several monster fires that tore through hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and grasslands. Since then, mostly monsoon-storm-sparked fires have added to the tally, though they have been less destructive because of humidity and moisture from the storms. The Rodeo-Chediski Fire of 2002 destroyed nearly 500 structures, among them 465 homes. By comparison, this year’s blazes – chiefly the huge Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona and the Monument Fire near Sierra Vista – destroyed far fewer: 181 structures, including 98 residences.


Even the temperatures are bigger in Texas this summer, as heat records tumble across the bone-dry Lone Star State. Dallas, is poised to break its all-time record of 42 consecutive days of 100-plus-degree weather. Oklahoma’s 88.9-degree average temperature in July not only set the record as the state’s hottest month ever, but also was the warmest for any state during any month on record. The heat wave that initially spanned most of the country east of the Rockies and that is still gripping big portions of the nation’s south central region helped make July the fourth-hottest July on record in the USA, NOAA researchers reported. The hottest were in 2003, 1936 and 1934.

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August 8, 2011

Texas Prayer Event Broadcast Nationwide

Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted what he called a national day of prayer, an event at Reliant Stadium that drew roughly 50,000 people and that was broadcast on cable Christian channels and the Internet nationwide, including in at least 1,000 churches. Eight other Governors participated. “Father, our heart breaks for America,” Perry said in 12 minutes of remarks that included prayer and Bible passages. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government and, as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us.” He asked Christians to turn to God for answers to the nation’s troubles, and asked the audience to pray for President Barack Obama. The event was Perry’s idea and was financed by the American Family Association.

Thousands of American Churches Prepare for National Back To Church Sunday

ASSIST News reports that with six weeks left before the nationwide event, already more than 6,000 churches have extended a half million invitations to National Back to Church Sunday (NBTCS), set for Sept. 18. American Churches are utilizing tools, such as the “reDiscover Church” booklet and the assistance of more than a hundred communitywide coordinators, to draw their friends and neighbors to attend. “It is the privilege of every Christian to invite someone to church,” said Philip Nation, LifeWay Research’s director of ministry development. “By taking part in National Back To Church Sunday, believers can introduce the hope of the gospel to their communities by welcoming people into their local congregations.”

Church Pension Funds Invested in Abortion, Pornography & Gay Agenda

Apple Computer and Home Depot are known for their open support of homosexual activism; Johnson & Johnson is a leading provider of abortifacients (substances that induce abortion); and Google’s support of probably the most abortion-loving White House administration ever is well-known So why is a Christian church denomination using its pension fund to invest in those companies? That’s the question raised by a Wesleyan pastor who says his church is sponsoring immorality by its choice of stocks that comprise the church’s pension fund. Rev. Dale Walker pastors a Wesleyan church in Tennessee and also operates a financial management firm. He said he became concerned when he discovered that companies that promote pornography and operate casinos were among those in which the church denomination’s pension fund had investments. Walker also said he believes other pastors are in denominations whose retirement funds are also in companies he believes are questionable.

  • Unfortunately, the “business” of church often supersedes ministry. Unconscionably, some liberal denominations openly support such immoral and unbiblical causes.

S&P Downgrades U.S. Credit Rating from AAA

The U.S. lost its esteemed AAA credit rating after being downgraded by Standard & Poor’s Friday, eroding the elite standing it has held in global markets for more than 70 years. The nation’s credit rating was cut to AA+ after S&P said the compromise made by Congress and President Obama this week to cut spending and boost the debt ceiling “falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.” Since April, S&P has repeatedly warned the U.S. rating was at risk if Washington did not agree to reduce deficit spending by $4 trillion over 10 years. This week’s agreement would cut spending by about $900 billion and create a joint congressional committee to find $1.5 trillion more by Thanksgiving. David Beers, global head of sovereign and international public finance ratings at S&P, told “Fox News Sunday” that governments and Congresses come and go, but spending on entitlements persistently drags U.S. debt further into the red.

16 Countries, Including Mexico, File Briefs Against New Alabama Immigration Law

In an effort to ensure their citizens are treated fairly in Alabama, 16 nations, including Mexico, filed briefs against the state’s controversial new immigration law that has already drawn fire from the U.S. Department of Justice.The nations say they “want to have one immigration law and not 50.” “Mexico has an interest in protecting its citizens and ensuring that their ethnicity is not used as basis for state-sanctioned acts of bias and discrimination,” the brief said, according to the paper. Criticism for the law, which is said to be the strictest state-level immigration law in the country, has been fierce and swift. Besides the DOJ’s lawsuit, the Roman Catholic Church, three dozen plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center have all filed lawsuits.

  • If these nations don’t like our immigration laws, they should improve their own countries so that its citizens don’t want to flock to our shores.

U.S. Customs: 500,000 Troops Needed to Seal Border reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin has essentially thrown in the towel on efforts to completely seal the U.S.-Mexican border, saying that it would require up to half a million troops. Speaking at an event sponsored by the Center for American Progress (CAP), Bersin said: “We would need on the order of about 400,000 or 500,000 border patrol agents to seal the border.” Those agents would have to be stationed “25 yards” apart along the entire length of the border, he said, adding that Americans would not want to pay “the costs that would be involved.” Bersin said he favored “satisfactory” control of the border.

  • What’s “satisfactory” to the Obama administration is definitely not satisfactory to the safety and welfare of our country. That the head of border security has “thrown in the towel” is very disconcerting.

Senate Passes Bill Ending FAA Slowdown

The Senate passed legislation Friday temporarily restoring full funding to the Federal Aviation Administration, breaking a political impasse and allowing roughly 4,000 furloughed federal employees to return to work. Passage of the bill also promises to restore tens of thousands of jobs in the construction industry and elsewhere tied to airport improvement projects put on hold as a result of the funding shortfall. The bill took less than one minute to pass a nearly empty Senate chamber by a legislative maneuver known as “unanimous consent,” which allows as few as two senators to approve a bill as long as no objections are filed. Most members of Congress are currently away from Washington on their summer recess.

Obama Administration Modified Bush Education Law

The Obama administration says it’s tired of waiting for Congress to pass a new education bill, so it will move on its own. Officials announced Monday a new waiver system for states that protest the testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind law passed during the George W. Bush presidency; states can get the waivers if they pledge to pursue other education reforms. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the No Child Law is forcing school districts into “one-size-fits-all solutions that just don’t work.” White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said the new waive system is “not a pass on accountability” and “there will be a high bar for states seeking flexibility within the law.”

Communist Party Officially Endorses Obama

It may be early in the campaign season, but the Communist Party USA already has seen fit to endorse Barack Obama for the 2012 election. While noting he is disappointed with “some aspects” of the Obama administration’s domestic and foreign policy, Sam Webb, chairman of the Communist Party USA, threw his support behind Obama’s re-election bid. Webb said that for communists there are major differences between Democrats and Republicans. He urged his supported to continue to back the Democrats.

  • Obama’s socialist agenda is clearly recognized and supported by the Communist Party

Contaminated Ground Turkey May Still Be in U.S. Homes, Stores

Federal officials warned Thursday that ground turkey tainted with an especially dangerous type of salmonella may still be in home freezers as they worked to prevent further illnesses from the nation’s third largest meat recall. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encouraged consumers to check their refrigerators for meat that is part of the 36 million-pound recall this week by Cargill, Inc., one of the largest meatpackers in the U.S. The contaminated meat is blamed for 78 illnesses, including one death in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has not pinpointed the source of contamination at Cargill’s Springdale, Ark., plant, where the meat originated. Federal inspectors last tested turkey at the plant in 2010 and had three positive findings for Salmonella Heidelberg there. A USDA spokesman said the agency brought the findings “to the attention of the facility,” but would not comment on whether corrective actions were ordered.

Hackers Strike at 70 U.S. Law Enforcement Websites

The group known as Anonymous said Saturday it hacked into some 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the United States, a data breach that at least one local police chief said leaked sensitive information about an ongoing investigation. he loose-knit international hacking collective posted a cache of data to the Internet early Saturday, including emails stolen from officers, tips which appeared to come from members of the public, credit card numbers and other information. Anonymous said it had stolen 10 gigabytes worth of data in retaliation for arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Britain.

Hackers Also Attacking Smartphones

Last week,, security researchers uncovered yet another strain of malicious software aimed at smartphones that run Google’s popular Android operating system. The application not only logs details about incoming and outgoing phone calls, it also records those calls. That came a month after researchers discovered a security hole in Apple’s iPhones, which prompted the German government to warn Apple about the urgency of the threat. Security experts say attacks on smartphones are growing fast. Some 38 percent of American adults now own an iPhone, BlackBerry or other mobile phone that runs the Android, Windows or WebOS operating systems, according to data from Nielsen. That’s up from just 6 percent who owned a smartphone in 2007. Google has removed about 100 malicious applications from its Android Market app store. One particularly harmful app was downloaded more than 260,000 times before it was removed. Android is the world’s most popular smartphone operating software with more than 135 million users worldwide.

Postal Service Posts $3B Loss, Warns of Default

Reporting a $3.1 billion loss for its third quarter, the U.S. Postal Service today warned that without congressional changes it would default next month on a $5.5 billion payment to the federal government. The payment is for projected health care costs for future retirees. In 2006, Congress ordered the USPS to pre-fund projected health care benefits for future retirees for 10 years, at a cost of about $5 billion a year. No other business faces such a mandate. For the nine months that ended June 30, the Postal Service lost a total of $5.7 billion. Mail volume continued to decline, led by first-class services, as more consumers relied on e-mail and electronic bill-paying. Total volume fell to 39.8 billion pieces, a drop of 2.6% from the same period a year ago. Though regulated by Congress, the USPS does not receive taxpayer funding. The default threat has raised the specter of a bailout.

US Treasury: Dollar Could Lose Reserve Status

The committee of bond dealers and investors that advises the U.S. Treasury said the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency “appears to be slipping” in quarterly feedback presented to the government. The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from firms ranging from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Pacific Investment Management Co., said the outperformance of safe-haven currencies and those from emerging nations has aided in the debasement of the dollar’s reserve status. “The idea of a reserve currency is that it is built on strength, not typically that it is ‘best among poor choices’,” page 35 of presentation made by one committee member said. “The fact that there are not currently viable alternatives to the U.S. dollar is a hollow victory and perhaps portends a deteriorating fate.”

Economic News

U.S. stocks dropped at the opening of trading Monday, following global stock markets lower. Worries about the downgrade of U.S. debt and a possible recession in the USA outweighed relief at a European Central Bank pledge to buy up Italian and Spanish bonds to help those countries avoid defaults. A key concern is how much the U.S. debt downgrade will contribute to global uncertainty, causing investors to sell stocks and hang onto their cash, hobbling the global economic recovery. The USA’s first-ever downgrade could raise borrowing costs for government, business and consumers.

Hiring picked up slightly in July and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1%, an optimistic sign after the worst day on Wall Street in nearly three years. Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday. That’s better than the past two months. Businesses added 154,000 jobs across many industries. Governments cut 37,000 jobs last month. The mild improvement may ease investors’ concerns after the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points over concerns that the U.S. may be entering another recession.

  • The unemployment rate fell partly because some unemployed workers stopped looking for work. That means they are no longer counted as unemployed. Some experts say the real rate is around 17%.

Government-controlled mortgage company Fannie Mae said Friday that its second-quarter loss widened as it continues to seek loan modifications to help reduce defaults amid the ongoing difficulties in the housing and mortgage markets. Fannie Mae said that it will ask for $5.1 billion in funds from the Treasury. It has received nearly $100 billion so far from the Treasury to stay afloat.

Consumer borrowing in June jumped the most in four years, rising $15.5 billion, nearly three times what economists had forecast. The latest figures showed Americans relying more on credit cards and non-housing loans than at any time since August 2007.

Middle East

Palestinian Authority President Abbas told the PLO Central council that the United States has not told them no regarding Palestinian statehood. Though the US could use our Security Council veto to halt the plan to divide Jerusalem and take the Bible lands of Judea and Samaria from Jewish control, leaving more than half a million Jews homeless in the process, the Obama Administration strongly supports a Palestinian state, and it is still not certain that they will stop this plan. Abbas said, “We have 122 countries that recognize the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders.” The lack of a clear rejection from the United States is of great concern to supporters of Israel. Though the US has long stood with the Jewish state, dating back to the vote in 1947 that created the modern nation of Israel, relations between the Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government are strained at best. The US continues to place unacceptable demands on Israel, while not asking any serious concessions of the Palestinians, according to the Jerusalem Prayer Team.

JPT also reports that Huma Abedin, best known as the wife of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, is also a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton…and a woman with intense family ties to the radical terrorist organization, The Muslim Brotherhood. Though born in Michigan, she was raised in Saudi Arabia, where she met the Clintons in 1996. Abedin’s mother helped found the Dar El-Hekma women’s college, closely tied to the Muslim Sisterhood (the female counterpart to the Muslim Brotherhood). In addition, Abedin’s brother Hassan is business partner with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members and works at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies to promote the study of Islam in England. Oxford is home to some of the most radical versions of Islam being spread today. “It is troubling indeed to have someone with such intimate ties to a known terrorist group that hates both America and Israel so close to so much sensitive information without a proper security vetting.”


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has appointed the radical head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Rostam Ghasemi, as the country’s oil minister, which means he will also be the head of OPEC. This year is Iran’s turn to take the rotating presidential office of the oil exporting group. The rising price of gasoline and oil has played a critical role in the struggling economies of the West, and having a leader who hates the entire Western world in charge of OPEC is a bad sign for the future. Ghasemi is under international sanctions because of his and the Revolutionary Guard’s connections to the sponsorship of terrorist groups around the world. All of his assets in Western banks have been frozen, and he is not permitted to travel to the United States or most of the countries of Europe. His appointment is seen by many analysts as an indication that Iran intends to wage economic warfare on Israel and the West.


Insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite Navy SEALs unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as seven Afghan commandos, U.S. officials said. It was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war. None of the 22 SEAL personnel killed in the crash were part of the team that killed bin Laden in a May raid in Pakistan, but they belonged to the same unit. The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. The strike is also likely to boost the morale of the Taliban in a key province that controls a strategic approach to the capital Kabul.


A Pakistani official says security forces have killed more than 200 militants over the past month in a tribal area near Afghanistan where the military is waging an anti-Taliban offensive. The United Nations says tens of thousands of civilians have fled the area to avoid the summer-long conflict. Pakistan’s army has been fighting militants in the tribal belt for years, with limited success.


Libya’s rebels said Friday they have reports that Moammar Gadhafi’s youngest son, who commands one of the regime’s strongest military brigades, was killed in a NATO airstrike in the western town of Zlitan. NATO said alliance strikes on Thursday night hit an ammunition depot and military police facility in Zlitan, which is the main front of fighting between rebels and Gadhafi’s troops, 90 miles southeast of Tripoli. Khamis was among 32 troops killed when NATO hit a government operations center early Friday..


A besieged Syrian city came under fresh artillery fire early Monday as a deadly military assault left President Bashar Assad’s regime increasingly isolated, with Arab nations forcefully joining the international chorus of condemnation for the first time. The renewed violence in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour comes a day after at least 42 people were killed there in an intensifying government crackdown on protesters. Pro-democracy Syrians ridiculed the international community for doing little to rescue Syrians from a massacre at the hands of President Bashar Assad, whose diplomatic relations with the United States have not been cut and whose military has not been subjected to a weapons embargo by the United Nations Security Council. The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to condemn the violence but did not threaten any action to stop it. Families in the Syrian city of Hama have resorted to burying their dead in their home gardens as gunmen in uniform and plainclothes randomly shoot people in the streets, killing more than 100 last week.


Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left a hospital in Saudi Arabia more than two months after being severely wounded in an attack on his palace compound in Sanaa. The ailing president moved from the hospital to a Saudi government residence in the city to further recuperate. The ailing president will remain in Riyadh for the time being because he is still under medical supervision. Saleh’s more than two-month absence from Yemen has only added to the uncertainty and instability in the country, the Arab world’s poorest. There are fears his return could throw an already unstable Yemen into further chaos. The anti-government protest show no signs of abating, and the economy lies in tatters. Islamist militants — some believed to have links to al-Qaida — have also seized upon the growing chaos to take over entire towns in the south.


Somali refugees at the largest refugee camp in Mogadishu say seven people were shot dead when government soldiers opened fire after a looting rampage broke out during a food distribution. Tens of thousands of Somalis fleeing famine have crowded into refugee camps in Mogadishu. But delivering food aid in the near lawless environment is proving to be a major challenge.


British police have arrested over 160 people after a weekend of rioting and looting across London. Around 35 police officers were injured.during riots in the deprived Tottenham area of London after a demonstration against the death of a local man turned violent and cars and shops were set ablaze. Two patrol cars, a building and a double-decker bus were torched as rioters clashed with officers in front of Tottenham Police Station, where people had gathered to demand “justice” for Mark Duggan. Shop windows were smashed as residents looted stores, pushing shopping carts full of stolen goods down the street.


An Indonesian volcano that has been spewing lava and clouds of searing gas high into the air let out a new, powerful burst Monday, sending panicked villagers streaming down the sides of the mountain. One person was injured,. Mount Karangetang on Siau — part of the Sulawesi island chain — started spitting clouds of gas and lava up to 1,900 feet on Friday. Early on Monday, hot ash tumbled down its slopes triggering fresh panic. Nearly 600 people living along Karangetang’s slopes have been evacuated. The 5,853-foot mountain is one of about 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia.


The worst year-long drought in Texas history will have a lasting impact on entire ecosystems inside and outside the state, according to wildlife biologists. The hot, dry conditions have harmed everything from plants to the predators at the top of the food chain. weeks of triple-digit temperatures have dried up reservoirs, leaving crops to wither and animals and fish to die.Birds migrating south this winter will find slim pickings in Texas and will have to fly farther south for food and water. The drought that has turned Texas and parts of the Plains into a parched moonscape of cracked earth could persist into next year, prolonging the misery of farmers and ranchers. Texas saw less than an inch of rain statewide in July, and more than 90 percent of the state is already in the two most extreme stages of drought.

Tropical Storm Emily drenched parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic despite weakening in the mountains Thursday, forcing evacuations for flooding, cancellation of flights and closure of government offices. The system dropped large amounts of rain that caused flooding that damaged hundreds of homes in Haiti. Emily dropped more than 5 inches around the southwestern Dominican city of Barahona. The tropical storm killed one person in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic, but spared the Caribbean nations the severe damage many feared

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August 4, 2011

Tea Party Condemns Debt Compromise

What do Tea Party leaders think of the new debt deal? “Political suicide,” according to Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips. Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said the deal was “destroying America’s future.” Sen. Rand Paul, a freshman Republican from Kentucky who co-founded the Senate Tea Party Caucus, argued that the deal never balances the budget and lamented that it did not contain a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Rep. Paul Broun, a Republican from Georgia who has been embraced by the Tea Party, even proposed lowering the debt ceiling to rein in federal spending. Tea Party activists and legislators say the GOP leadership squandered an opportunity to cut even more, and are warning legislators who voted for the deal Monday night that they would be targeted in the 2012 primaries. “We put them in power and now we’re asking ourselves, ‘Why did we do that?'” Phillips said.

Just hours after President Barack Obama signed the controversial debt-limit bill into law, which was supposed to settle market jitters about a potential U.S. government default, shaky investors sent the Dow into a 265.87-point dive. Wall Street appeared stonily unimpressed with the debt accord’s becoming law, sending the markets into a drop amid a flurry of other dismal economic reports. By Wednesday morning, world markets were on no better footing. European shares fell sharply,  tracking steep price falls on Wall Street and Asia, on escalating worries about the global economy after a raft of weak data and fears over the euro zone debt crisis spreading to Italy. The hard-won, last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit gets low ratings from Americans, who by more than 2-1 predict it will make the nation’s fragile economy worse rather than better.

Deficit Deal’s Savings Shaky

To get the lion’s share of their proposed $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the coming decade, President Obama and congressional leaders are relying on a process that has failed twice in the past. Under the compromise plan, a bipartisan congressional panel would seek $1.5 trillion in spending cuts or tax increases later this year. If it failed, or if Congress or the president nixed its recommendations, $1.2 trillion in spending cuts would be implemented automatically. It’s called a “trigger,” and it has been used in the past, but with mixed results at best. In the 1980s and ’90s, triggers passed by Congress under Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton eventually were evaded. Veterans of past budget deals say the same thing could happen this time. Most of the automatic cuts triggered by congressional inaction would be in defense and other domestic programs. That may prove too much for future members of Congress to bear.

  • By shuffling off the tough decisions to a future committee, politicians got the proverbial monkey off their back only to drive another nail into the economic coffin

U.S. Debt Reaches 100 Percent of Country’s GDP

The U.S. debt surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product after the government’s debt ceiling was lifted, Treasury figures showed Wednesday. The debt, which had been in somewhat of a holding pattern over the past several weeks, rose $238 billion after President Obama signed the debt-ceiling deal into law Tuesday to avoid the country’s first-ever default. The public debt has now climbed to $14.58 trillion, putting it just over the $14.53 trillion size of the country’s economy in 2010. The last time the debt topped the size of its annual economy was in 1947 during World War II. But the deficit at the time was driven by war spending — a degree of spending that ebbed once the war ended.

  • There will be no ebb in spending as our debt load climbs inexorably to unprecedented and unsustainable levels. The so-called “super committee” is not likely to make substantial cuts as the politicized exercise yields mostly cosmetic reductions. The politicians will only get truly serious after it’s too late.

Medicare, Medicaid Tab Keeps Growing

The costs of the government’s big health care programs are soaring again, expenses not tackled in the agreement President Obama signed into law Tuesday to raise the nation’s debt limit and cut federal spending. Medicare and Medicaid spending rose 10% in the second quarter from a year earlier to a combined annual rate of almost $992 billion, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The two programs are on track to rise $90 billion in 2011. The jump in health care spending is the biggest since the Medicare prescription drug benefit was added five years ago and ends a brief lull in the spending increases that occurred during the economic downturn. The rapidly escalating costs of the health care programs will challenge lawmakers seeking to rein in federal spending in the future, especially in 2014, when coverage expands to people who are uninsured now.

FAA Shutdown to Continue as Congress Leaves

The government is likely to lose more than $1 billion in airline ticket taxes because lawmakers have left town for a month without resolving a partisan standoff over a bill to end the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration. The government already has lost more than $200 million since airlines are unable to collect taxes on ticket sales because the FAA’s operating authority has expired. The Senate recessed on Tuesday until September, erasing any possibility for quickly resolving the issue. The House left Monday night. Caught up in the partisan acrimony are nearly 4,000 FAA employees who have been furloughed. The FAA also has issued stop work orders on more than 200 construction projects, threatening the jobs of thousands of other workers. Air traffic controllers, however, remain on the job.Ticket taxes, which typically average about $30 on a $300 round-trip fare, are suspended during the shutdown. But airlines decided to pocket the windfall. Within hours of the shutdown on July 23, most airlines raised their fares by amounts equivalent to the taxes that disappeared. The partial shutdown of the FAA has also halted more than 250 aviation development projects and caused thousands of construction workers to lose their jobs.

The FDA Schemes to Reclassify Nutrients as Drugs

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Senator Durbin’s latest attack against the dietary supplement industry should leave consumers for natural health options at affordable prices up in arms. This attack will target some of the most popular and effective dietary supplements, removing them from the free market and placing them under control of large pharmaceutical companies. This move will drastically drive up the price of dietary supplements while severely limiting access to extremely safe and effective nutrients. For example, the GlaxoSmithKline prescription drug version of DHA fish oil (at a therapeutic dose) sells for $189 a month, whereas the equivalent, therapeutic amount of molecularly-distilled DHA sells for $35 a month in the dietary supplement marketplace. Proven to lower triglyceride levels at therapeutic amounts, it is not surprising that DHA is one of the first nutrients the FDA plans to go after. Other powerful nutrients, such as curcumin and resveratrol, are soon to follow.

Massive Global Cyber Attack Targeting U.S., U.N. Discovered; Experts Blame China

The world’s most extensive case of cyber-espionage, including attacks on U.S. government and U.N. computers, was revealed Wednesday by online security firm McAfee, and analysts are speculating that China is behind the attacks. Analysts told The Washington Post that the finger of blame for the infiltration of the 72 networks — 49 of them in the U.S. — points firmly in the direction of China. “What is happening to all this data – by now reaching petabytes as a whole – is still largely an open question,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, McAfee’s vice president of threat research ” However, if even a fraction of it is used to build better competing products or beat a competitor at a key negotiation (due to having stolen the other team’s playbook), the loss represents a massive economic threat.” Dell SecureWork isolated 18 servers actively being used to relay information to and from infiltrated PCs inside company networks to command servers in two regions of China.

Justice Dept & Churches Sue Ala. to Block Immigration Law

The Justice Department and major church groups today went to court to block Alabama’s pending illegal-immigration law from taking effect next month. The law, signed June 9 by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley and set to take effect Sept. 1, mimics a similar law in Arizona but goes further. It requires police to verify the immigration status of anyone they stop and suspect of being in the country illegally, mandates that employers use a federal database to confirm work eligibility of all applicants, and forbids landlords from renting to illegal immigrants. A federal judge temporarily blocked Arizona’s anti-immigration law after the Justice Department joined the lawsuit. Civil rights groups have filed lawsuits against five states that passed copycat laws this year.

Law on Explosive Fertilizer Yet to be Implemented

Three years after Congress passed legislation requiring tighter controls on ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a common ingredient in improvised explosives used by terrorists and suspected in the deadly Norway attacks, the law has yet to be implemented in the United States. Department of Homeland Security officials, charged with enforcing the law, said the agency still is formulating rules that will govern the reporting process for more than 100,000 industry users, ranging from agriculture to construction to mining. Under the 2008 law, which Congress wanted ready for enforcement by 2009, dealers and purchasers of the fertilizer would be required to register with the government and be checked against the U.S. terrorist database. The law also calls for ammonium nitrate dealers to record sales and for dealers and purchasers to report theft or loss of the material to federal authorities. Mixed with fuel, the fertilizer concoction can be a powerful explosive. The fertilizer was the main component in the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bomb.

Feds Charge 72 in International Online Child Sex Ring

Federal authorities announced charges against 72 people on five continents Wednesday in connection with a private online bulletin board operation that offered horrific images of adults engaged in violent sex with children, including some infants. Attorney General Eric Holder said the prosecution represented the largest of its kind in the USA, where 43 of the suspects were arrested for their alleged participation in the members-only portal known as “Dreamboard.” All of the suspects were charged with conspiracy to advertise and distribute child pornography and 50 were also charged with engaging in a child pornography enterprise. The maximum punishments are 30 years for the conspiracy count and life in prison on the enterprise charge.

Gov. Rick Perry Sued for Endorsing Prayer

Texas governor Rick Perry has promoted Aug. 6, 2011 as a day of prayer. He was sued by The Freedom from Religion Foundation, on behalf of a group of atheists and agnostics. The complaint, reports WORLD News Service, said Perry violated the First Amendment, which bans government from endorsing a preferred religion.  The day of prayer, called The Response, will take place at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Although The Response is privately sponsored by The American Family Association, it is open to anyone. Thousands of people have already registered.   The Freedom from Religion Foundation, however, argues that the prayer rally is “intended for evangelical Christians.” Those who disagree with the event “are excluded from intended attendance.”  The founder of the American Family Association, Don Wildmon, refutes these claims. “Anyone who wants to pray to Jesus for a nation in crisis is welcome to attend,” he said. He also dismissed claims that the event was political. “The Response is a prayer event. No political candidates will be speaking.”

Court Bans Praying in Jesus’ Name in 5 States

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals banned private citizens from praying “in Jesus name” at or before city council meetings in 5 states Friday, including Virginia and West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Maryland.  The 2-1 court ruling helped the anti-Christian ACLU and hurt the Christian Alliance Defense Fund in Forsyth County, NC, where atheist complainers said they were easily offended by free speech of the “illegal” word Jesus. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners will decide this month whether to appeal to the Supreme Court a bad 2-1 ruling.

Central Falls, R.I. Files for Bankruptcy

The state-appointed receiver overseeing the cash-strapped Rhode Island town of Central Falls has filed for bankruptcy on the city’s behalf in an effort to help it get back on its feet. Receiver Robert Flanders had earlier indicated that seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in federal court might be the only option unless municipal retirees and city workers made major voluntary concessions. Retirees, for instance, were asked to take cuts of up to 50% to their pensions, a move they did not accept ahead of last Thursday’s deadline, set by Flanders. With the city now seeking bankruptcy protection, Flanders said he plans to reduce pension benefits beginning in late August. He has asked the federal court to immediately reject collective bargaining agreements.

Economic News

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped last week, a sign the job market may be improving slowly. The Labor Department says that applications for unemployment benefits edged down 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 400,000. That’s the lowest level in four months. They fell in February to 375,000, a level that signals healthy job growth.

Americans cut back on their spending in June for the first time in nearly two years and their incomes grew by the smallest amount in nine months, a troubling sign for an economy that is barely growing. Consumer spending dropped 0.2% in June, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Incomes rose 0.1%. It was the weakest growth in income since September. High gas prices and unemployment have squeezed household budgets this year.

U.S. businesses cut back on orders for airplanes, autos and heavy machinery in June, lowering demand for factory goods for the second time in three months. The Commerce Department says orders to U.S. factories fell 0.8% in June. Overall demand for factory goods fell to $440.7 billion in June. That’s 31.2% higher than the low point during the recession reached in March 2009. Manufacturing had been one of the strongest areas of the economy since the recession ended. But activity slowed this spring.

Italy’s borrowing rates touched a new euro-era high on Wednesday as a global market sell-off reignited fears that the debt crisis will engulf the eurozone’s third-largest economy. The revival of the debt crisis is mainly due to a global sell-off by traders of any investments that appear risky — such as the bonds of Italy and Spain. The fear is that the global market turmoil will push the two countries closer toward needing a bailout.

The dollar, weakened by a dim U.S. economic outlook, sank to a near record low earlier this week. That set off alarm bells in Tokyo which intervened in foreign currency markets Thursday to knock the yen down from levels that threaten the country’s post-disaster recovery.


An ailing, 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak, lying ashen-faced on a hospital bed inside a metal defendants cage with his two sons standing protectively beside him in white prison uniforms, pleaded innocent to charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters at the start of his historic trial on Wednesday. The spectacle, aired live on state television, was a stunning moment for Egyptians, many of whom savored the humiliation of the man who ruled with unquestionable power for 29 years. In the courtroom, a prosecutor read the charges against Mubarak — that he was an accomplice along with this then-interior minister in the “intentional and premeditated murder of peaceful protesters.”

Egyptian forces swinging electrified batons and shouting the battle cry “God is great” swiftly chased off dozens of activists Monday who had refused to end four weeks of renewed protests at Tahrir Square. Hundreds of riot police backed by armored vehicles and soldiers moved in to tear down the camp of dozens of tents after a group of holdout activists — some of them relatives of people killed in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February — refused pleas over loudspeakers to go home. With Mubarak’s trial on charges he ordered the killing of protesters due to start Wednesday, the ruling military council appeared to run out of patience with the protesters, whose key demand is to see the former president and other members of his regime face justice.


The Syrian military dispatched tanks into the heart of the protest flash point of Hama on Wednesday, defying mounting international condemnation in an effort to definitively crush the 4-month-old nationwide uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad. After killing nearly 100 people in two days, Syrian troops tightened their siege on the city of Hama by taking up positions near homes and sending residents fleeing for their lives. The escalated crackdown on anti-government protests has already brought an international outcry and new European Union sanctions on members of President Bashar Assad’s regime. On Tuesday, Italy recalled its ambassador to Damascus, citing “horrible repression” of citizens. Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Washington wants to pressure the Syrian regime. But he added there was no immediate prospect of a Libya-style military intervention.


France said Monday it was handing over $259 million in frozen Libyan funds to the country’s opposition and allowing the rebels’ new ambassador to use the country’s mothballed embassy in Paris. The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the money — currently frozen in French banks — must be used for humanitarian purchases, in accordance with European law. Mansour Seyf al-Nasr, the Libyan opposition’s new ambassador to Paris, aid he would urge the NATO-led coalition to continue its air campaign against embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that began Monday.


Iraq’s political leaders gave the government the green light Tuesday to begin negotiating a deal with the U.S. to keep American troops in the country past the end of the year to train Iraqi security forces. But Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said a final agreement is still far from settled, and cautioned that Baghdad could still insist the U.S. military leave by the end of 2011 as required under a 2008 security agreement. No details were settled — like how many U.S. troops would stay, or for how long, or whether they would be given legal immunity from prosecution. Two roadside bombs targeting police exploded in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on Wednesday, killing nine people and wounding 13.


A suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle outside a small hotel frequented by foreigners just after dawn Tuesday, killing at least three guards in the latest of a rising number of violent attacks in northern Afghanistan. After the attacker detonated his cache of explosives, two other militants stormed inside the hotel in Kunduz city and engaged police in a two-hour gun battle.


Al-Qaida-linked militants are among the suspects in a powerful bomb blast that killed one person and wounded 12 others in the southern Philippines. The bomb, made of four 81 mm mortar rounds and detonated by cellphone, went off on a parked motorcycle in front of a gun store in Cotabato City on Tuesday. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but army ordnance experts reported that the bomb design closely resembled those used by suspected Muslim guerrillas and militants belonging to the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah in at least three recent attacks.


The Obama administration sought to assure aid groups Tuesday that they can deliver desperately needed food to famine-stricken parts of Somalia without fear of prosecution, even if some assistance is diverted to al-Qaida linked extremists blamed for helping deliver hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of starvation. Administration officials said the U.S. has issued new guidelines on laws prohibiting material assistance to al-Shabab, which have been criticized by humanitarian organizations as a contributing factor the crisis. Charities now must only pledge their best efforts to combat attempts by al-Shabab to hoard aid or collect taxes on supplies.


Thousands of earthquake homeless and other poor Haitians waited nervously in flimsy shanties and tents as Tropical Storm Emily swirled offshore early Thursday, threatening to bring dangerous rains. Strong winds whipped through palm trees and some rain was already falling on southern Haiti. Forecasters predicted the storm would make landfall on Haiti’s southern peninsula after dawn and dump torrential rains across a country where more than 600,000 people still live without shelter after last year’s earthquake.

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August 1, 2011

Tentative Debt Limit Deal Reached

President Obama and congressional leaders said Sunday they have reached a tentative, two-step deal to increase the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, cut future government spending and avert an unprecedented default. “We’re not done yet,” Obama said in an 8:40 p.m. announcement to reporters at the White House. The deal reached by Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, Obama said, would first cut nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years while raising the debt ceiling by the same amount. The debt ceiling would not need to be raised again until 2013. Congress must approve the deal and Obama must sign it by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to stop the U.S. government from defaulting on its debts. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told House Republicans about the deal and his support for it in a conference call. “Now listen, this isn’t the greatest deal in the world,” Boehner said. “But it shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town.”

Other elements include: the creation by Congress of a committee to develop other debt reductions, including tax reform as well as changes to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. The committee would be required to report back by Nov. 23. The panel would be charged with reducing the debt by another $1.4 trillion over 10 years; a second debt ceiling increase of up to $1.4 trillion. Congress reserves the right to disapprove of the second debt-ceiling increase, but the president can veto such an action; votes in the House and Senate on a balanced-budget amendment if the committee can’t reach an agreement, or if Congress rejects its recommendations. If the committee fails to reach an agreement, automatic spending cuts split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending will kick in starting in 2013. Automatic cuts would fall on programs important to both Republicans (defense cuts) and Democrats (health spending). Any potential Medicare cutbacks would affect providers, not beneficaries.

  • A minor victory on the road to economic disaster – too little, too late

Double-Dip Recession Risk Increasing

The economy is at risk of slipping into another recession. It nearly stalled in the first six months of the year, the government reported Friday. Economic growth was feeble in the second quarter and practically non-existent in the first. The new picture of an economy far weaker than most analysts had expected suddenly made a second recession a more serious threat — and the threat will rise if Congress can’t reach a deal to raise the government’s debt limit. The dismal second-quarter report led economists to reduce their estimates for growth in the second half of the year to 2%. The economy must grow at a 2.5 percent annual rate to keep the unemployment rate from rising and at a 5 percent rate to bring unemployment down significantly.

Global Islamic Upheaval Takes Toll on Christians

With new global Islamic upheaval taking place, Christians are paying the price – often with their lives. But because the murder and mayhem takes place in closed societies, the world remains, for the most part, clueless. “First Comes Saturday, Then Comes Sunday” is the award-winning documentary by Pierre Rehov, a French filmmaker known for going where the action is – especially in the dangerous Middle East. The documentary reports that some 2 million Christians have fled or been forced out of the region in the past 20 years. This Christian exodus is a result of many factors, including the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, the related decline of the economy, but perhaps most significantly, the religious persecution these Christians encounter from their Muslim neighbors. “First Comes Saturday, Then Comes Sunday” is a well known sentence in the Middle East meaning : “First we take care of the Jews (who pray on Saturday) then we will take care of Christians,” the “Sunday people.”

30 Days of Prayer for the Persecuted During Ramadan

Open Doors USA is offering a prayer calendar to use with Christians in Muslim countries during the month-long Islamic fast called Ramadan that begins Aug. 1. Open Doors urges Christians in the West to pray, and the calendar has multiple prayer points designed to guide their prayers. “Ramadan is a time when Christians are especially isolated in some Muslim-dominated countries,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. “This is why it is so important for us to unite in prayer with persecuted Christians throughout the world. I urge you to use the Open Doors resources to pray with our brothers and sisters.”

Homeland Security Surveils Christian Website

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has begun watching a blog posted by a Christian who was forced to flee Brazil because of the conflict between that nation’s pro-homosexual “hate crimes” agenda and his advocacy for traditional marriage. Exactly why the U.S. government, which several times has linked Christians and conservatives with terrorism, is watching Julio Severo’s unabashedly Christian Last Days Watchman blog isn’t clear. WorldNetDaily reports that several prominent Christian leaders warn that similar crackdowns could be coming in the U.S. because of the federal “hate crimes” bill signed by Obama shortly after he took office.

Crimes Against LGBT Victims is Up

Violent crimes, including murder, increased last year against people identifying themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), and people of color among those groups were most likely to be targeted. A report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, a group that supports victims of anti-LGBT harassment, found: Hate incidents against LGBT people and HIV-affected persons increased 13% from 2009 to 2010; Murders of LGBT people numbered 27, the second-highest total recorded; Half of victims did not report the crimes to police, and 61% of victims who did said they experienced indifferent or abusive police attitudes; Offenders were mostly strangers, white and non-transgender men.

  • As the LGBT agenda becomes more aggressive, extreme reactions are provoked. While we oppose their political justification of sinful behavior, we must love them not hate them or commit violence. The Bible teaches that “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13)

NASA’S Environmental Cleanup Could Take Decades

NASA spent decades to send men to the moon, launch the space shuttles and build a laboratory in space, and now it will take a century to clean up the chemical messes left behind. Plumes of carcinogenic chemicals used in the launching of the space shuttles, Apollo moon shots and other rockets seeped deep into sandy soils beneath launch pads and other structures at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. They form viscous toxic goo that will take $1 billion in cleanup costs over many decades, and could bog down funding for next-generation spacecraft.

Economic News

The economy expanded at meager rate of 1.3% annual rate in the spring after scarcely growing at all in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday. The combined growth for the first six months of the year was the weakest since the recession ended. The government revised the January-March figures to show just 0.4% growth.

The Institute for Supply Management, in a widely watched report, said its manufacturing index fell 4.4 percentage points, to 50.9 in July. A reading above 50 indicates the manufacturing sector is expanding. Monday’s number showed expansion slowing to almost neutral. In a second report, the government reported Monday that construction spending posted a third monthly gain in June but remains at depressed levels.

July proved to be a blockbuster month for used sales, CNW Research reports. They rose 13.5%, making it the best July since 2005. Detroit brands represented 62.3.% of used vehicles sold in July with Asian brands’ share at 26.3%. European models came in at 11.4%, CNW says.


Frequent bombings, assassinations and a resurgence in violence by Shiite militias have made Iraq more dangerous now than it was just a year ago, a U.S. government watchdog concludes in a report released Saturday. The findings come during what U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen Jr. called “a summer of uncertainty” in Baghdad over whether American forces will stay past a year-end withdrawal deadline and continue military aid for the unstable nation. The report cited the deaths of 15 U.S. soldiers in June, the bloodiest month for the U.S. military in Iraq in two years. Nearly all of them were killed in attacks by Shiite militias bent on forcing out American troops on schedule. It also noted an increase in rockets launched against the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, where government offices and foreign embassies are located, as well as constant assassination attempts against Iraqi political leaders, security forces and judges.


The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has until mid-October to submit a plan for the initial withdrawal of American troops, decisions that may hinge in part on whether the latest surge in attacks continues through the holy month of Ramadan. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says commanders are hearing that Taliban leaders may leave their fighters in the country to try to regain lost ground during the Islamic holy period which begins Monday. A suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday at the gate of the police headquarters in Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 11 people in a city where Afghans have recently taken control of security.


Gunmen opened fire on a minibus carrying minority Shiite Muslims in southwestern Pakistan on Saturday, killing 11 of them in a sectarian attack. Pakistan has a history of sectarian violence. Although most majority Sunnis and Shiites live peacefully together, small extremist groups on both sides often target each other’s leaders and activists.


The Obama administration accused Iran on Thursday of entering into a “secret deal” with an al-Qaida offshoot that provides money and recruits for attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Treasury Department designated six members of the unit as terrorists subject to U.S. sanctions. Treasury said its exposure of the clandestine agreement would disrupt al-Qaida operations by shedding light on Iran’s role as a “critical transit point” for money and extremists reaching Pakistan and Afghanistan. Treasury said a branch headed by Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil was operating in Iran with the Tehran government’s blessing, funneling funds collected from across the Arab world to al-Qaida’s senior leaders in Pakistan.


Tens of thousands of Egyptians filled Cairo’s central Tahrir Square for a rally Friday that turned into a show of force for ultraconservative Salafi Muslims and other Islamists in their growing rift with liberal activists. In one of the largest crowds to fill the square since the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February, Salafis chanted for the implementation of strict Islamic law — spurring accusations that they violated an agreement to keep the rally free from divisive issues. The decision by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organized political force, and other Islamist groups to participate significantly boosted the turnout. But the Islamists’ participation also highlighted the growing rift between them and liberal activists.


Libya’s rebels overran the base of a rogue faction suspected of breaking pro-Gadhafi fighters out of an opposition prison, escalating concerns of cracks in the rebel movement following the death of their chief military commander. NATO warplanes bombed Libyan state TV satellite transmitters in Tripoli because they were being used to incite violence and threaten civilians, the military alliance said Saturday, but state TV was still on the air in Tripoli on Saturday morning. NATO said the airstrikes aimed to degrade Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s “use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them.”


Almost 140 people have died in Syria over the weekend after the army stormed the city of Hama, a center of protest, to smash dissent on the eve of the holy observance of Ramadan, Al-Jazeera reports. The Syrian army raided cities across the country before dawn Sunday. The government is escalating its crackdown on protests calling for President Bashar Assad’s ouster ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts Monday. Activists expect anti-government demonstrations to escalate during Ramadan. Syrian troops fired live ammunition and tear gas on tens of thousands of protesters calling for the regime’s ouster in several cities around the country Friday. The protests, which have become a weekly ritual following Friday prayers, came hours after a bomb blast struck a major oil pipeline in western Syria, causing oil to spill into a nearby lake.


Clashes between Yemeni soldiers and armed tribesmen in a mountainous region north of the capital killed at least 40 people. The fighting in the Arhab region is one example of the wider security collapse across Yemen since the outbreak of a massive uprising seeking to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh six months ago. Armed tribesmen are battling security forces in Arhab, the southern city of Taiz and elsewhere, while militants believed to be linked to al-Qaida have overrun entire towns in the impoverished country’s restive south.


African Union and Somali militants traded barrages of fire at a new front line in Mogadishu on Friday, as AU forces gained new territory. The country’s president appealed for more international aid, saying the government can’t feed all the overwhelming number of Somalis suffering from famine. The African Union military force fears that Islamist al-Shabab militants may try to attack the camps that now house tens of thousands of famine refugees in the Somali capital, disrupting the distribution of food aid.


Police shot dead four people Sunday in China’s far northwest, bringing to 11 the death toll in weekend violence in one of the country’s most troubled ethnic regions. Xinijang region has been on edge since nearly 200 people were killed in fighting between Uighurs and Han Chinese in 2009 in Urumqi, the regional capital. Xinjiang has been beset by ethnic conflict and a sometimes-violent separatist movement by Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group that sees Xinjiang as its homeland.


Hundreds gathered in India’s capital on Sunday to protest sexual violence against women. The event condemned the notion widely held in this traditional society that a woman’s appearance can explain or excuse rape and sexual harassment. In India, public sexual taunting or even groping of women — locally known as “Eve teasing” — is common. Despite rapid modernization in its big cities, India’s attitudes toward women are still largely patriarchal. The incidence of rapes and sexual attacks on women are high. The marchers carried placards that said, “Change your thinking not your clothes” and “Our life, our body, our rights.”


Mount Etna volcano on the island of Sicily in southern Italy is putting on a dazzling display with its fourth and biggest eruption Sunday. The latest fireworks come after six months of calm. No casualties or damage to property have been reported.


Thousands of farmers are counting their losses amid record heat and drought this year. The drought has spread over much of the southern U.S., leaving Oklahoma the driest it has been since the 1930s and setting records from Louisiana to New Mexico. But the situation is especially severe in Kansas and Texas, which trails only California in agricultural productivity. Ranchers in parts of Kansas are hauling their spring cattle to auction barns because a drought and the brutal heat have made it difficult to provide the water and hay needed to keep the animals healthy. The hot, dry weather has dried up ponds and pastures. Some areas of southwest Kansas haven’t received a good rain for more than a year.

About 70% of Texas rangeland and pastures are classified as in very poor condition, which means there has been complete or near complete crop failure or there’s no food for grazing livestock. Thousands of acres of crops have failed in areas where farmers rely on rain, while those grown with irrigation continue to struggle. Already, more than 2 million acres of cotton that’s not irrigated has been lost.

July was a scorcher. High temperatures in communities across the USA broke or tied records 2,676 times, almost double the number (1,444) of a year ago, the National Weather Service reports. Temperatures in Newark, N.J., set an all-time record of 108. Highs in Atlantic City, N.J., topped 105 for two straight days. Washington endured its hottest July since 1871. In Oklahoma City, temps topped 100 for 27 of the last 30 days of July. Dallas/Fort Worth is enduring its second longest stretch of consecutive 100-plus days at 30, closing in on the record of 42 in 1980. August is unlikely to offer much relief, forecasters say. The heat wave anchored over the Central and Southern Plains states, including drought-stricken Texas, is capped by a colossal vault of high pressure that has locked out cooler air currents from Canada.

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