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.

Britain

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.

Israel

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.

Syria

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.

Libya

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.

Egypt

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.

Yemen

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.

Iraq

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.

Afghanistan

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.

Somalia

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

Nigeria

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.

Mexico

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.

Earthquakes

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.

Wildfires

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.

Weather

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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