VA Backs Down: No More Religious Discrimination

Several veterans groups who had sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over claims of religious discrimination by Houston VA officials have agreed to settle their lawsuit, according to attorneys at Liberty Institute representing the groups. The settlement agreement lists 50 provisions that VA officials agree to adhere to. Some of these actions include no banning or interfering with prayers or recitations at committal services; agreeing to not edit or control the content of private religious speech and expression by speakers at special ceremonies or events; and agreeing not to ban religious words such as “God” or “Jesus” in condolence cards or similar documents given by some of the groups that filed the suit.

Survey Finds U.S. Overwhelmingly Christian

The Pew Forum on Religion has published statistics showing the USA to be overwhelmingly (75%) Christian, with Mormons (2%), Jews (2%), and Muslims (1%) trailing far behind (unaffiliated survey respondents made up 16% of the survey sample).

  • Why then does the media give us the impression that that these other faiths have attained equal footing in our once democratic Republic?

America Becoming Bewitched

A recent press release announced that Wicca is America’s fastest-growing religion, and some religious experts believe it will soon be the third largest religion in the U.S. – ranking only behind Christianity and Islam. Tom Horn, editor of the new book “God’s Ghostbusters” says that “in the United States alone, there are now more than two hundred thousand registered witches and as many as 8 million unregistered practitioners of ‘the craft’.” A representative from the Witch School stated: “There is such a rapid spiritual reorientation in America occurring, that the need for thousands of Wiccan teachers over the course of the next decade will be required to meet the demand for basic teachings.” Horn notes that dabbling in the occult is no longer limited to secular settings. “We’re seeing so many denominations that were considered at one time mainstream evangelical Christian, and now these people are practicing Eastern mystical beliefs, and trying to make contact with the dead.”

  • Unfortunately, many so-called Christians are just dabblers and not true born-again believers. They are easily swayed by Satanic allures.

Cohabitation and Divorce — There is a Correlation

More than 60 percent of marriages today are preceded by some form of cohabitation. And 75 percent of current cohabiters enter these relationships with some plans toward marriage, even seeing this live-in relationship as a smart move toward marriage. Sociologists investigating this issue tell us clearly that the “expectation of a positive relationship between cohabitation and marital stability … has been shattered in recent years by studies conducted in several Western countries, including Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and the United States.” Their data indicates that people with cohabiting experience who marry have a 50 to 80 percent higher likelihood of divorcing than married couples who never cohabited.

Record 50% in U.S. Back Legalizing Marijuana

A record 50% of Americans say marijuana use should be legalized, an increase of 4 percentage points since last year, according to a new Gallup Poll. Most support comes from liberals and 18- to 29-year-olds, with those 65 and older the most opposed. In 1969, Gallup’s first time asking about legalizing marijuana, 84% of Americans were opposed and just 12% in favor.

Most Illegal Immigrants Deported in 2011 Were Criminals

The U.S. deported nearly 400,000 illegal immigrants last year, and an increasing number of them were convicted criminals, according to figures released Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security. Deportations have been on the rise for the past decade, and the 396,906 illegal immigrants deported in fiscal year 2011 is the highest number yet. Under the Obama administration, Homeland Security issued new priorities to focus deportations on convicted criminals, people who pose threats to national security and repeated border-crossers. Last year, 55% of those deported were convicted criminals, the highest percentage in nearly a decade. Critics say the numbers illustrate that the administration is intent on finding ways for illegal immigrants to stay in the country.

Anti-Semitism at Wall Street Protests Condemned

The Emergency Committee for Israel has launched a highly critical video condemning anti-Semitic sentiment during the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests and calling for Democratic leaders to stop supporting the movement. Israel Today recently reported that there were anti-Semitic comments made by OWS protesters around the nation, such as: “I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, which is not run by the federal government . . . they need to be run out of this country.” On the American Nazi Party website, leader Rocky Suhayda voiced support for ‘Occupy Wall St.’ and asked, “Who hold the wealth and power in this country? The Judeo-Capitalists.” One of [the] people reportedly responsible for organizing the ‘Occupy Wall St.’ protests, Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn, has a history of perpetuating conspiracy theories that say the Jews control America’s foreign policies.

  • Satan continues to foment resentment against our Judeo-Christian heritage through willing cohorts in the liberal left and extreme left-wing organizations

Obama Likens Wall Street Protests to Tea Party

President Obama today likened the anti-Wall Street protests to the Tea Party protests that helped Republicans in last year’s congressional elections. Obama sympathized with the goals of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests. “Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government,” Obama said. “They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them.” Obama said the most important thing he can do as president is express solidarity with the protesters and redouble his commitment to achieving what he described as a more egalitarian society.

  • Egalitarian = socialism, Obama’s primary goal and that of the New World Order folks who are promoting these protests

Economic News

Homes were built in September at the fastest pace in 17 months, a hopeful sign for the struggling housing market. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that privately owned homes were started at a 658,000 annual rate last month. That’s a 15% increase from August and the best pace since April 2010. Still, the level is roughly half the 1.2 million economists say is consistent with healthy housing markets.

A surge in energy costs drove wholesale prices up in September by the most in five months. The Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.8% in September. Energy prices jumped 2.3%, the biggest increase since March. Food prices also rose sharply. Excluding food and energy costs, which tend to fluctuate sharply from month to month, the so-called core prices increased 0.2%.Wholesale gas prices surged 4.2%, the department said. That was the biggest jump since March. The cost of diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas also rose. Natural gas prices dipped.

Some 55 million Social Security recipients will get a 3.6% increase in benefits next year, first raise since 2009, the government announced Wednesday. The increase, which starts in January, is tied to a measure of inflation released Wednesday morning. About 8 million people who receive Supplemental Security Income will also receive the 3.6% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, meaning the announcement will affect about one in five U.S. residents. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.

The amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes will also go up next year. This year, the first $106,800 in wages is subject to Social Security payroll taxes. Next year, the limit will increase to $110,100. Workers pay a 6.2 percent Social Security tax on wages, which is matched by employers. For 2011, the tax rate for workers was reduced to 4.2 percent. The tax cut is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

Students and workers seeking retraining are borrowing extraordinary amounts of money through federal loan programs, potentially putting a huge burden on the backs of young people looking for jobs and trying to start careers. The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year. Americans now owe more on student loans than on the total debt for credit cards.

Local governments, once a steady source of employment in tough economic times, are shedding jobs in unprecedented numbers, and heavy payroll losses are expected to persist into next year. The job cuts by city and county governments are offsetting modest private-sector employment gains, restraining broader job growth. Localities have chopped 535,000 positions since September 2008 to close massive budget deficits resulting largely from sharp declines in property tax receipts.

A two-day general strike that unions vow will be the largest in years grounded flights, disrupted public transport and shut down everything from shops to schools in Greece on Wednesday, as at least 50,000 protesters converged in central Athens. All sectors, from dentists, state hospital doctors and lawyers to shop owners, tax office workers, pharmacists, teachers and dock workers walked off the job ahead of a Parliamentary vote Thursday on new austerity measures, which protesters oppose.

The eyes of investors will be on European Union leaders on Sunday when they convene for a summit that investors hope results in the announcement of a grand plan to ensure that Greece’s debt crisis doesn’t cause financial contagion. Wall Street is hoping that Europe’s leaders come up with a three-step plan that will put Greece’s finances on a more sustainable path so that its problems don’t spread to other debt-weakened countries, such as Italy and Spain.

Middle East

Looking thin, weary and dazed, an Israeli soldier returned home Tuesday from more than five years of captivity in the Gaza Strip in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners whose joyful families greeted them with massive celebrations. Hamas agreed to release Schalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of them serving life sentences for deadly attacks on Israelis. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he understood the pain of Israeli families who lost relatives in Palestinian violence, but that Israel’s ethos of doing everything possible to bring its soldiers home safely forced him to act. Those concerns were underscored with comments by one of the freed prisoners, Hamas militant leader Yehia Sinwar, who called on the movement to kidnap more Israeli soldiers.

A terrifying announcement came at the end of last week that a large number of the 20,000 advanced missiles lost during the uprising in Libya are turning up in Gaza. These shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles are extremely accurate, with a range up to two miles. They pose a danger both to Israeli military aircraft and helicopters operating near the Gaza border and are small enough (less than six feet long and only 55 pounds) to be easily smuggled into Israel where they could be used against civilian aircraft as well. The Egyptian authorities claimed to have seized a number of these missiles, but no one knows how many may have reached Hamas. One senior US Congressional leader told reporters the situation was “the worst nightmare.”

Iran

One of the men indicted for planning to attack the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies in Washington and kill the Saudi ambassador is a cousin of one of the top leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds Force. (Quds is the Farsi word for Jerusalem; the ultimate goal of this elite military terror unit is to capture control of the Holy City.) The news of this close relationship highlighted the involvement of Iran’s government in the plot. Manssor Arbabsiar has lived in the United States since the 1970’s. The plot involved recruiting a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the attacks and the assassination. Wire transfers to provide money for the plot came from accounts controlled by the Quds Force and provide further evidence of the seriousness of the plan.

Iran’s authoritarian regime has secretly executed hundreds of prisoners, according to a new UN report detailing growing rights abuses in the Islamic republic. The mysterious executions at Vakilabad prison in Mashhad in eastern Iran were highlighted in a report  which is to be presented to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. It details a raft of abuses from the denial of women’s rights to torture, but the most shocking data was the skyrocketing rate of executions… Authorities reportedly conducted more than 300 secret executions at Vakilabad prison in 2010,’ the report said. Vakilabad officials, in violation of Iranian law, allegedly carried out the executions without the knowledge or presence of the inmates’ lawyers or families and without prior notification to those executed.

Iraq/Turkey

Turkish soldiers, air force bombers and helicopter gunships launched an incursion into Iraq on Wednesday, hours after Kurdish rebels killed 26 soldiers and wounded 22 others in multiple attacks along the border. NTV television said Turkish troops penetrated as deep as 2.5 miles and helicopters were ferrying commandos across the border in what appeared to be a cross-border offensive limited in scope for now. Turkey last staged a major ground offensive against Iraq in early 2008. Kurdish rebel group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, said clashes were taking place in two separate areas close to the mountainous Iraqi-Turkish border. The incursion came hours after the rebels, who are fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s southeast, staged simultaneous attacks on military outposts and police stations near the border towns of Cukurca and Yuksekova early Wednesday.

Libya

The Obama administration on Tuesday increased U.S. support for Libya’s new leaders as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made an unannounced visit to Tripoli and pledged millions of dollars in new aid, including medical care for wounded fighters and additional assistance to secure weaponry that many fear could fall into the hands of terrorists. U.S. officials said the fresh aid Clinton is bringing totals about $11 million and will boost Washington’s contribution to Libya since the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi began in February to roughly $135 million.

Yemen

Yemeni government forces opened fire Tuesday on protesters in Sanaa, killing seven, a day after the capital witnessed its worst fighting in weeks. Dozens more were injured in the Tuesday protests demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Sanaa. Similar demonstrations were held in other parts of Yemen. The protesters called for Saleh to be put on trial for killing demonstrators and urged the international community and the U.N. Security Council to help topple him.

Sudan

Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir announced last week that Sudan plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution and strengthen Islamic law now that its former civil war enemy South Sudan has seceded, Reuters reports. South Sudan became independent in July after decades of war between the mainly Muslim north and the mostly Christian, traditional south. Sudan has given all southerners still living in the north until the spring to either leave or obtain the legal right to stay, but many say they feel unwelcome and are uncertain what the future will hold in the now-Muslim state.

Somalia

A suicide car bomb exploded near Somalia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, killing at least four people even as Somali and Kenyan leaders met and agreed to cooperate on military action against Islamist insurgents. The blast rattled central Mogadishu and killed at least three passers-by and the suicide bomber. African Union and Somali troops battling al-Shabab militants have mostly pushed the insurgents out of Mogadishu, but al-Shabab has vowed to carry out attacks in the capital. Earlier this month al-Shabab unleashed a suicide blast that killed more than 100 people, many of them students.

Weather

The billion-dollar weather disasters keep piling up, with the USA now at a record-shattering 12 for the year. Most recently, economic losses from Tropical Storm Lee — which drenched the East Coast in September but was never a hurricane — reached $1 billion, with most of the damage due to flooding along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. So far, damage from Hurricane Irene has reached at least $7 billion. The previous single-year record for billion-dollar disasters was nine, set in 2008.

In a year when severe drought scorched the Southwest, a hurricane drowned crops in the East, and river flooding swamped farms in the Midwest, one of the worst places to be a farmer may be just west of the Mississippi River. Not only have Arkansas and Louisiana experienced both drought and flooding, but in some cases, so have individual farmers in those states. The cost of the bad weather could reach $1 billion. Drought dried up pastures where cattle graze, then flooding submerged areas where crops had been planted. The damage is significant given that the two states typically produce more than 60 percent of the nation’s rice. Flooding alone caused more than $500 million in losses in Arkansas and in Louisiana, flooding and drought have resulted in an estimated $440 million in losses.

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