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.

Syria

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.

Libya

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.

Pakistan

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.

Afghanistan

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.

Somalia

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.

Wildfires

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.

Weather

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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