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.

Get brief daily alerts on your PC or phone at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: