Obama’s Big Fat Greek Bailout

“It was built against the will of the immortal gods, and so it did not last for long.” Homer, The Iliad

The youngsters that run Wall Street know a lot more about Homer Simpson than they do the Greek poet. But in the wake of riots in Greece and stock market gyrations at home, we may all soon be in for a full fledged tragedy of epic proportions.

The $1 trillion bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Europe to stave off a Greek debt default is just the latest attempt by Big Government to defeat deflation. But the soaring price of gold shows that this latest rescue is mired with problems.

Consider the fact that even the strongest of the rescuers are bleeding debt. Germany, once the hero of fiscal policy in Europe, has seen government debt rise to a whopping 80 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Germany is far stronger than the other weak sisters that make up the euro—Spain, Portugal and Italy.

It looks as if the $1 trillion bailout to Greece may not have stabilized global stock markets and it certainly has not arrested the decline of the euro. Last week The New York Times reported that, “Fear in the financial markets is building again, this time over worries that the Continent’s biggest banks face strains that will hobble European economies.”

Greece is the latest domino in a continuing debt crisis that began with the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Greece is just another link in a very weak chain. In fact, the IMF warns that “high levels of public indebtedness could weigh on economic growth for years.”

Borrowing Against All Of Our Tomorrows
The world’s budget deficit as a percentage of GDP now stands at 6 percent, up from less than 1 percent before the financial crisis. If public debt is not lowered back to pre-crisis levels, says the IMF, economic growth could decline by half a percentage point annually. That is bad for the world and bad for the United States which is just barely clinging to an economic recovery; a recovery built on cheap money. But how long money will stay cheap is anyone’s guess.

In the not too distant future the U.S. dollar, once the Zeus of all currencies, may topple from the mountain top. Greece has a budget deficit of 13.6 percent of its GDP. Meanwhile the U.S. has a budget deficit of 9.3 percent, and that’s only for this year. In the coming years America’s deficit could easily exceed Greece’s number.

Furthermore, Greece’s national debt now totals 115 percent of its GDP. U.S. national debt totals “only” 85 percent of GDP, but it is expected to reach 140 percent of GDP in the next two decades.

But what the Mexican debt crisis taught us in the 1980s and what Greece is teaching us now is that the bond markets will never allow the U.S. to reach its debt targets.

According to Dr. Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research, "There’s a tremendous clash between the bond vigilantes on one side and reckless governments on the other. The bond vigilantes are trying to establish some fiscal and monetary law and order."

You might recall Yardeni from the 1980s when he correctly predicted the Latin debt bomb, the explosion which helped trigger the 1987 stock market crash. Three decades ago Yardeni pointed out that, "If the fiscal and monetary authorities won’t regulate the economy, the bond investor will." Like Homer’s Cassandra, Yardeni has a talent for correctly predicting tragedies but is cursed because no one will believe him.

Just how bad is this crisis which was spawned in Greece, the cradle of learning and democracy? According to Citigroup’s top economist, Willem Buiter, with the exception of wartime, “the public finances in the majority of advanced industrial countries are in a worse state today than at any time since the industrial revolution. Restoring fiscal balance will be a drag on growth for years to come.”

Still, the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve continue to believe they can engineer yet another bailout. In fact, the Fed has opened up new lines of credit to the European Central Bank as part of the European rescue package.

“We didn’t do so out of any special love for Europe,” said Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “We’re American policy makers, and we make decisions to keep the American economy strong.” Yet the Fed president admits that the liquidity problems abroad could soon haunt U.S. financial markets and the recovery itself.

The Federal Reserve and Federal government have already borrowed trillions of dollars to derail the wave of deflation that began in early 2008. To do that and to spark a recovery the Fed pushed short-term interest rates towards zero, the lowest levels America has seen since the 1930s. In other words the U.S. government has shot its bolt. The U.S. simply can’t hit the “re-flate” button again without a major outcry from the bond market.

Gold On Record Run
The knee-jerk reaction from the euro crisis has been for money to go into U.S. Treasuries. But the chart below shows the monumental increase in 10-year Treasury bond yields since the beginning of 2009. Investors have demanded a higher return from Uncle Sam as the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve have been hell-bent on bailing out the U.S. economy with trillions of new dollars.

10-Year Treasury Yield

U.S. loans to buoy European central banks will only accelerate the bond markets woes, and with rising interest rates on the horizon, we can anticipate a bear market. The computer-glitch stock market meltdown that happened earlier this month portends to an American tragedy.

With the euro at four-year lows one might be expecting the greenback to soar. Instead there has been only modest strength in the dollar and record highs for gold. At this writing London gold is trading just under $1,200 per ounce. In November 2008, London gold was $713.50, so the Midas metal has had quite a run since then. In fact gold was $810 when I first recommended it to you last August. Still I believe gold is headed much higher.

Action To Take
Expect short-term strength in the U.S. Treasury market as we go into summer. If you own bonds, use this rally to liquidate them. Higher interest rates are looming and so is a bond market meltdown. Meanwhile, continue to accumulate physical gold. I think $1,500 gold is a realistic target by the end of this year.

Yours for real wealth and good health,

John Myers
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report

P.S.—I thought the quote at the top by Homer is applicable to the U.S. dollar. I am interested to see if you agree.
—JM

President Obama’s Job Approval Ratings Continue To Be Low, Poll Shows

President Obama's job approval ratings continue to be low, poll showsDespite the passage of the healthcare reform and the financial regulation bills, a newly released poll has shown that more than half of all United States citizens give President Barack Obama negative job ratings.

While two in five Americans (42 percent) give Obama positive ratings on the overall job he is doing, The Harris Poll found that 58 percent evaluate his performance negatively.

The pollster suggests that among the likely culprits for these lackluster figures is the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has forced the president’s attention from the issues that the public cares about most, namely jobs and getting the economy back on track.

In terms of partisan breakdown, 92 percent of Republicans are disappointed with Obama’s job, as are one-quarter of Democrats (25 percent). However, he also scores poorly with Independents, among whom 68 percent give him negative marks.

The survey also asked whether the country was going in the right direction. It found that while in April 39 percent of Americans believed that to be true, the measure has dropped to 36 percent this month. Meanwhile, 64 percent have said the nation is currently on the wrong track.

According to Harris Interactive, which produced the poll, the president’s numbers are unlikely to increase unless he accomplishes something that will positively impact the economy and calm the volatility of the stock market. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19796560-ADNFCR

Will Rand Paul Spell Trouble For The Right?

Will Rand Paul spell trouble for the right?Although he has been called "the darling of the Tea Party," Rand Paul’s select comments since his win in the Kentucky Republican primary last week have some GOP members scratching their heads.

Just hours after Paul declared his victory, he gave an interview in which he implied that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 limited businesses’ rights to set their own policies and decide which customers or clients to serve.

Although he later tried to qualify his statement by saying that he supported the act and would not press to repeal it, the damage appeared to be done.

Criticism came not only from Democrats but also many Republicans, with Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, saying Paul’s philosophy "is misplaced in these times."

"I don’t think it’s where the country is right now. The country litigated the issue of separate but equal," Steele told the Fox News Sunday show. "I think in this case Rand Paul’s philosophy got in the way of reality."

However, the controversy has not stopped there, as Paul stirred more controversy by saying that President Obama’s criticism of British Petroleum for the Gulf oil spill was "un-American."

Prior to the primaries, the Senate Republican leadership failed to endorse Paul, instead throwing its support behind his opponent Trey Grayson. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19796561-ADNFCR

Study: Excess Abdominal Fat Linked To Dementia

Study: Excess abdominal fat linked to dementiaLong-term obesity is a well-known cause of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. However, a new Boston University School of Medicine study suggests that excess abdominal fat may also be linked to a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

For the study, a research team led by Sudha Seshadri recruited nearly 800 adults over the age of 60 and analyzed their body mass index, waist circumference, waist to hip ratio and percentage of abdominal fat. The investigators also performed an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on each participant to examine their total brain volume and their number of brain infarcts.

As expected, the researchers identified a strong inverse association between increasing body mass and smaller brain volume—a known risk factor for dementia.

"More importantly our data suggests a stronger connection between central obesity, particularly the visceral fat component of abdominal obesity, and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease," said Seshadri.

While further studies need to be conducted to analyze how obesity prevention can affect dementia risk, the researchers speculate that consuming a low-fat, nutrient-rich diet can significantly improve brain health.
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Organization Protests Plans For NYC Mosque

Organization protests plans for NYC mosqueEarly next month a self-described human rights organization will conduct a rally at Ground Zero in New York City to protest the construction of a mosque at the site where terrorists brought down the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) plans the rally for June 6 and has invited anyone interested to join, especially those who lost family or friends, or who were injured on Sept. 11.

"What could be more insulting and humiliating than a mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Center buildings that were brought down by an Islamic jihad attack?" asked SIOA executive director Pamela Geller.

She added that "any decent American, Muslim or otherwise, wouldn’t dream of such an insult. It’s a stab in eye of America."

SIOA says it works to defend human rights, religious liberty and the freedom of speech against "Islamic supremacist intimidation" and to block any attempts to bring elements of Sharia law to the United States.

According to the organization, groups supporting the June 6 event include ACT! for America (ACT! Manhattan chapter), Z Street, Freedom Defense Initiative, Faith Freedom International and the Center for Security Policy.
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Congress Pushes To Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy Before November

Congress pushes to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' policy before NovemberSeveral media outlets are reporting that Congress may schedule a vote this week to repeal the highly controversial "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, which bans openly gay individuals from serving in the military.

The proposed vote comes as a surprise to many conservatives, as the Pentagon has yet to complete its year-long evaluation of how to best implement a new policy.

Many political pundits believe that the Democrats are pushing for an early vote because the review is not expected to be completed until December 2010, a month after the upcoming congressional elections.

While Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Congress "in the strongest possible terms" two weeks ago to hold off a vote on the measure until the Pentagon’s evaluation has been completed, it seems as if he is now willing to step aside, according to ABC News.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that Gates "continues to believe that ideally a review should be completed before there is any legislation to repeal the "don’t ask, don’t tell" law. With Congress having indicated that is not possible, the secretary can accept the language in the proposed amendment."

Representative Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) is expected to propose the repeal later this week in an amendment to the annual defense spending bill.
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Senate Passes Historic Financial Overhaul Reform Bill

Senate passes historic financial overhaul reform billAfter barely clearing the 60-vote threshold to end debate, Senate Democrats passed a financial reform bill last week that will revolutionize the way that large banks operate.

The legislation, which now needs to be reconciled with the House version that was passed in December, will increase the role of federal regulators, establish new procedures to prevent bailouts and limit the use of derivatives, according to CNN.

"To Wall Street, it says: No longer can you recklessly gamble away other people’s money," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "It says the days of too big to fail are behind us. It says to those who game the system: The game is over."

While the majority of Republicans agree that reform was necessary, most feel that the measure will negatively impact the marketplace.

"This bill doesn’t listen to the American people—it promises massive government overreach in ordinary business transactions," said Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). "The decisions we’ve made will have an impact on the lives of Americans for decades to come."

Republicans leaders also heavily criticized the fact that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s two largest mortgage companies, will be virtually unaffected by the new measures. Due to last year’s Federal bailout, both corporations are now government-affiliated.
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Gentlemen: Is Your Sex Life Killing You?

Sex feels good, and the proper amount of sex can help maintain physical and emotional health. But balance is the key. Both having too little or too much sex can lead to unhealthy conditions. Let us look at the effects of too much sex, too little sex, and what the proper amounts should be based on your age and condition.

How Much Sex Is Too Much?
The theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) warn that a man who engages in too much sex can become what is known as “kidney jing deficient.” Jing is a term that refers to the body’s essential fluids, distilled by the kidneys from what we eat and drink. The kidneys are thought of as the body’s “batteries” and the place where jing is stored. Chinese health theory suggests we are actually equipped with enough jing (life essence) to live 120 years. The problem is we exhaust this essence through poor diet, lack of rest, lack of exercise, the effects of stress, disease and… an unhealthy amount of sex.

Signs and symptoms of kidney jing deficiency include a weakening of the bones, hair loss, a graying of facial color, loosening or loss of teeth, soreness in the lower back, weakness of the legs (particularly behind the knees), poor memory, loss of libido, impotence and a general lack of sexual desire. If you are suffering from any of these signs and symptoms, perhaps you should consider if too much sex is killing you… or at least weakening you.

With too frequent ejaculation, jing (semen, the essence of pure fluids and life energy) is depleted from the body. Moreover, as a man passes middle age, the excessive loss of jing can cause the disastrous effects described above. Like contact sports, sex is a young man’s game. Middle aged and older men need to retain their jing (semen essence) and ejaculate less frequently. (There is an entire art in Yogic and Taoist traditions of men learning to come to orgasm while not releasing a single drop of semen. (More on this in another article)

Two-thousand years ago Su Nu Jing, the classic text on TCM, was published. It advised how much sex/ejaculations are safe for a man to have. For example, a healthy 20-year-old can ejaculate twice per day with no adverse effects. Also, to maintain proper health, the 20-year-old should have a minimum of one ejaculation every four days.

The following chart suggests the sex guidelines from that classic text:

Age
Minimum
Average Health
Good Health
20+Every 4 days1X Day2x Day
30+Every 8 daysEvery other day1x Day
40+Every 16 daysEvery 4 daysEvery 3 days
50+Every 21 daysEvery 10 daysEvery 5 days
60+Every 30 daysEvery 20 daysEvery 10 days

 

Of course, these are rough guidelines set forth within the theories of TCM. This gives you an idea of the frequency a man should have sex in order to maintain good health and balanced emotions.

The average 20-year-old male who is engaging in masturbation three times a day is probably overdoing it. This could possibly affect his grades (poor memory) or affect his tennis match (with weak knees and sore low back).

If you are a 40-year-old executive thinking of having that affair with the 24-year old-intern, you might want to consider if you are in good enough health to survive an extramarital affair. You could wind up suffering from hair loss, aging of the face, low back soreness, weak legs, poor memory, loss of libido, impotence and lack of sexual desire that could cost you your career and your health… not to mention your marriage (if applicable).

How Much Sex Is Too Little?
Keep in mind that no sex at all is unhealthy. Psychologically, it can cause resentment, depression and anxiety. Sex is important for relationships, not just emotionally, but for the organ systems as well. Ladies, when men tell you they feel like they are dying from lack of sex, it’s partially true. In reality, the choked up emotions and lack of connection can cause him to suffer what is known in TCM as liver qi stagnation.

According to TCM theory, the liver functions to move the qi (life energy) freely in the body. So, liver qi stagnation is a pathogenic flow of qi manifesting in some of the following signs and symptoms: feeling of distension in the chest and hypochondrium, sighing, hiccup, melancholy, depression, moodiness, unhappiness and feeling of a lump in the throat. Often the etiology of this syndrome includes emotional problems, a state of anger, frustration and/or resentment.

If this condition persists it can grow into what is called liver fire. The signs and symptoms associated with live fire include irritability, anger, shouting, ringing in the ears, temporal headache, bitter taste in the mouth, dream disturbed sleep, a red face and red eyes. This is the result of long-standing emotional states of anger, resentment or frustration. This can cause problems like high blood pressure, tinnitus, insomnia, migraine headache and the like.

Good sexual relations are a part of good health. Overdoing it can be detrimental to health, and so can too little of it.

My advice: Be happy and be wise in the ways of lovemaking.

—Dr. Mark Wiley

FRC Criticizes New York Cross-Dressing Ruling Case

FRC criticizes New York cross-dressing ruling case While some advocates claim that a ban on cross-dressing amounts to the violation of transgender people’s rights, a family organization has presented the opposite argument while commenting on a recent American Eagle Outfitters case.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo successfully challenged the clothing retail chain to change its policies to be more transgender-friendly. According to The New York Daily News, the company will abandon the rule about employee "personal appearance" that banned men from wearing women’s clothing and vice versa.

"If more places would follow behind American Eagle’s experience, a lot of us would be able to work more," said Joi-elle White, a transgender member of Make the Road New York, adding that "there would be less of us on the street or on the internet risking our [lives] just to survive."

However, Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has expressed his disappointment with the outcome, and linked the case to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), currently under consideration in Congress.

"Every American who believes in the right of employers to set dress and grooming standards for their employees should be alarmed by how this attorney general has used bullying tactics and litigation to impose cross-dressing policies on American Eagle Outfitters," Perkins warned. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19793362-ADNFCR

In A Letter To Pentagon, Civil Rights Groups Defend Press Freedom

In a letter to Pentagon, civil rights groups defend press freedom Several human and civil rights organizations sent a letter to top officials at the Pentagon demanding the reversal of the ban on several reporters covering military commission hearings of foreign terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay.

The letter was prompted by the ban imposed on four journalists from the United States and Canada for publishing the name of an interrogator in one of the cases.

The four, who include reporters from The Miami Herald, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Canwest News Service, allege the ban is "illegal and unconstitutional," because the name of the interrogator was already in the public domain, and publishing it did not constitute a violation of the Pentagon’s rules, according to media reports.

In their intervention, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the National Institute of Military Justice said that "this [decision] not only runs counter to the U.S. administration’s stated commitment to transparency in government, but will also bring the military commissions into further disrepute, internationally and within the U.S."

The Pentagon has said the newspapers in question can continue to cover the story, which involves detainee Omar Khadr, but they must send other journalist to do so. ADNFCR-1961-ID-19793301-ADNFCR

Adding Spices To Ground Beef Can Help Eliminate Cancer-Causing Compounds

Adding spices to ground beef can help eliminate cancer-causing compoundsResults of a new Kansas State University study suggest that adding certain spices to ground beef may help lower the accumulation of dangerous compounds that are known to cause cancer.

For the study, lead author Scott Smith and his colleagues sought to identify natural ways to reduce the carcinogenic compounds that are commonly produced when ground beef is grilled, fried or boiled. Known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), these compounds have been proven to increase the risk of developing colorectal, stomach, pancreatic and prostate cancers.

"Cooked beef tends to develop more HCAs than other kinds of cooked meats such as pork and chicken," Smith said. "Cooked beef patties appear to be the cooked meat with the highest mutagenic activity and may be the most important source of HCAs in the human diet."

Working off of the theory that antioxidants can help combat dangerous carcinogens, the researchers tested the effectiveness of several spices in inhibiting the formation of HCAs. They found that fingerroot, rosemary and turmeric were the most successful.

In fact, rosemary extract was able to reduce HCA formation by 61 to 79 percent.
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Financial Reform Legislation Puts Natural Supplements At Risk

Keep your eyes focused on the rogue corporatist Congress over the next couple of weeks as the reconciliation process takes place to merge the House and Senate versions of the financial reform legislation in a conference committee.

While the provisions in the two bills which further centralize control over the financial system in the hands of power-grabbing chief executive are bad enough, a provision in the House version that has nothing at all to do with finance has really caught our attention and must be defeated.

It’s an amendment that would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to require supplement companies perform at least two human studies before making any claims for their products, according to the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH). Currently, supplements are regulated under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

The amendment to HR 4173 was introduced by Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and has nothing to do with the financial services industry. But it will limit your ability to acquire and use natural health supplements.

The trials the amendment requires are time-consuming and beyond the financial means of most supplement companies, according to the ANH. And even if the companies could find the money, the FTC could require more and more costly versions of these studies, or more of those studies. At each stage, fewer supplements would be available, and those available would cost more and more, until they became as costly as drugs.

The decisions about supplements would then be placed in the hands of five unelected FTC commissioners who could issue binding regulations in a wide range of areas. And companies that didn’t comply with the new rules could be put out of business.

It’s not an unusual tactic as the FTC has done this before with other companies who didn’t toe their line.

“According to renowned constitutional attorney Jonathan Emord, ‘The provision removing the ban on FTC rulemaking without Congressional preapproval contained in H.R. 4173 invites the very same irresponsible over-regulation of the commercial marketplace that led Congress to enact the ban in the 1980s. FTC has no shortage of power to regulate deceptive advertising; this bill gives it far more discretionary power than it needs, inviting greater abuse and mischief from an agency that suffers virtually no check on its discretion.’” (www.anh-usa.org)

Waxman is an enemy to freedom, choice in medical decisions and to the supplement industry. On his website, Waxman writes: “I am troubled that the FDA lacks the basic information necessary to protect consumers from unsafe dietary supplements. The FDA clearly needs to have more resources to give consumers real protection. I intend to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that FDA has the tools it needs to address this and other important public health missions.”

What he means is that big pharma doesn’t profit from natural supplements so Big Brother needs to quash them. By the way, the top four industries contributing to Waxman’s campaign in the 2009-2010 cycle are: hospitals/nursing homes; health services/health maintenance organizations (HMOs); lawyers/law firms and health professionals.

While it’s bad enough that Congress’ elected elitists are more interested in protecting their sugar daddies (large financial firms that slip large amounts of cash into their pockets) than Average Joe; what’s worse is their desire to limit your freedom to make choices about which natural health supplements you can take.

We urge you to call your Senators and member of Congress this week and tell him or her to make sure no provisions restricting the use of supplements get included in the final version of the financial reform bill. You can find your member of Congress here.

And finally, I’m often struck (or saddened) by the comments from some who post on this site who fail to see how their government moves past socialism toward fascism on a daily basis. They often ask—sometimes by logging in under several different names and carrying on a conversation with themselves in an effort to disrupt a discussion—exactly what freedoms are being taken away by an overreaching corporatist government.

Well, here’s one: the ability to make your own decisions about your health and how you choose to remain healthy.

There are many others: like freedom of speech, freedom of association, gun ownership, the ability to own property (if you are required to pay a tax in order to keep it, is it truly yours?), freedom to operate a business as you see fit, freedom to pass along your earnings to your children and the freedom to decide whether your children are given potentially harmful vaccinations (enforced through rules requiring vaccinations to enroll in public schools).

If you are too blind to see that these things are happening daily, then may God help you, because you are incapable of helping yourself.

Wall Street Reform Bill Fails To Advance In The Senate

Wall Street reform bill fails to advance in the Senate Following nearly a year of contentious debate, the Democrats’ Wall Street reform bill stalled in the Senate last week, as all but two Republicans voted against the measure designed to overhaul the financial regulatory system.

Joining the GOP in preventing the advancement of the bill were two Democrats—Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.)—who oppose the legislation because they do not feel that it goes far enough.

Soon after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) criticized Republicans for blocking a piece of legislation that would prevent bailouts and strengthen consumer protections, according to CNN.com.

"Wall Street and, obviously, 39 out of 41 Republicans… think that things going on, on Wall Street, are just fine," Reid said. "I think that’s a real stretch to think the American people think that they want this to go on as in years past."

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the bill is just another example of the increasingly intrusive nature of big government.

"Not only does the bill still contain a massive new government agency with broad new powers over consumer spending and Main Street businesses, it does nothing to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the main protagonists in the financial meltdown," said McConnell.

Reid indicated that the Democrats plan to hold another vote on the bill in the coming days.
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Obama The Hitman: First A Cleric, Who’s Next?

The administration of President Barack Obama has itself tied up in quite a knot.

The administration that opposes enhanced interrogations, that wants to treat terrorists caught both on the battlefield and in country as common criminals, that wants to try suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed in a New York City courtroom, that read Miranda rights to the foreign-born underwear bomber right away but delayed it for hours for the naturalized citizen Times Square bomber, has targeted an American citizen living in Yemen for assassination.

Of course, since the United States government has a policy against assassination that’s not what it’s being called. But what else do you call the order designating American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a target for a strike by a drone missile?

Awlaki is suspected by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of actively plotting violence. He is described in The New York Times as “a charismatic preacher who has said it is a religious duty to attack the United States.” The CIA says it believes Awlaki’s rhetoric inspired Times Square attempted-bomber Faisal Shahzad.

Of course Shahzad’s visit to Pakistan where he met with a member of an intelligence group with ties to the CIA surely had nothing to do with the bomb attack, but that is a topic for another day.

Whether Awlaki gets blown to bits by a Hellfire missile or shot in the head by a sniper, he’s dead and the U.S. government has become judge, jury and executioner.

To eavesdrop on Awlaki’s telephone calls the CIA—because of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—would first be required to obtain a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But to target him for death the CIA only needed approval from the National Security Council (NSC).

As former CIA lawyer Vicki Divoll told The Times, “Congress has protected Awlaki’s cell phone calls. But it has not provided any protections for his life. That makes no sense.”

I wonder if Awlaki will be read his Miranda rights before the missile explodes, or will Attorney General Eric Holder wait until afterwards and read them over Awlaki’s bits and pieces.

But wait. That might not be a problem because some in Congress want to take away Americans’ guaranteed citizenship rights if they target fellow citizens with terrorist violence.

Senator Joe Leiberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said recently, “If you’re attacking your fellow Americans in an act of war you lose the rights that come with citizenship.”

And this is where it gets really sticky. The Obama administration has yet to call the Times Square bomb plot an act of terrorism. On the White House website it is referred to as the “Times Square incident.” Or, to paraphrase Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, it was a potential man-caused disaster.

We are no longer sliding down a slippery slope. Now we are cascading down a steep mountainside.

It began soon after 9/11 with the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in the weeks following the attack. That act is already being used to strip U.S. citizens of their rights. Just ask Jose Padilla and Ashton Lundeby how that act is working out for them.

Now we have an administration that has shown a proclivity to use missile attacks from Predator drones to kill what it is calling insurgents or terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan—and killing innocents in the process—saying that it’s time to use them in a country we’re not currently at war with to kill an American citizen who hasn’t harmed anyone himself.

That same bunch doesn’t call planting a bomb in Times Square terrorism. But it warns that those who oppose its policies—and show their opposition by demonstrating and holding up signs outside the Capitol building and in cities and towns across the country—are potentially inciting attacks similar to Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

If they think the rhetoric of Tea partiers—or Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or whoever—is somehow inciting violence, how long is it before the administration starts authorizing drone missile attacks on them?

Apparently, all it takes to get on the CIA’s short list for a missile strike is for someone in the administration to decide you are inciting violence. That doesn’t bode well for a group that has drawn the ire of Obama, his administration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid, who are on record as considering Tea partiers, former military members and anti-healthcare reform protestors as Nazis and terrorists.

American citizens… beware… this administration thinks you’re more dangerous and deserve fewer rights than foreigners planting bombs on U.S. soil. And if you hear the far-off hum of an airplane or the whoosh of a missile being fired, run like Satan himself is on your heels.

But if you’re al-Qaida don’t worry. Holder will read you your rights and have a court appointed attorney standing by.

How Can I Prepare For The Future When I Struggle To Get By?

Dear Bob

What about people who don’t have large sums of money to “invest” in your precious metals. What about the poor or the ones who struggle every day to get by. What do they do?

ALC

Dear ALC,

I understand that many are struggling to get by, especially those who are out of work or are on fixed incomes. However, you can still take steps to prepare for an uncertain future. Without knowing your specific situation I can’t give more than general advice. However, you should work to extricate yourself from debt. You should set aside a little non-perishable food (as much as you can afford) every time you go shopping. To invest in precious metals, I would recommend silver. Its price is around $17-$18 per ounce and you can buy it one ounce at a time, if that better fits your budget.

Best Wishes,
Bob

Mayor Bloomberg Moves To Relax Gun Rules, But Advocates Still Unhappy

Mayor Bloomberg moves to relax gun rules, but advocates still unhappyNew York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said his administration will simplify the process whereby New Yorkers can obtain gun permits, reversing what gun rights advocates have long criticized as arcane and restrictive rules. However, his move appears to have failed to satisfy gun proponents.

The decision—which the administration explains is meant to increase efficiency by allowing for better investigation of applicants who might not qualify for a gun, while processing those fit to have them more swiftly—has been described as a reversal for Bloomberg who has been known for his anti-gun policies, according to The New York Times.

However, representatives of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) have said that on reviewing the new regulations they see the announcement as "a lot of flash and very little substance."

The program, which Bloomberg said will streamline licensing requirements, reduce renewal fees and speed up the application process, "sounds good on the surface," said SAF executive vice president Alan Gottlieb.

He noted, however, that there is only one handgun licensing office in Manhattan and only one office for registering and licensing rifles and shotguns in Queens.

"The handgun application fee is $340, and there is a $94.25 fingerprinting fee on top of that. This fee structure screams ‘for elites only’ because those fees are outrageously expensive for average citizens," Gottlieb concluded.
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Gingrich Nazi Comparison Stirs Firestorm Of Criticism

Gingrich Nazi comparison stirs firestorm of criticism Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has found himself in a hot seat for the controversial comments he made in his latest book, where he compared President Barack Obama’s administration to the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

In To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine, Gingrich wrote that Obama and his closest Democratic collaborators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are implementing a socialist agenda, especially in areas such as the healthcare reform and economic stimulus, according to media reports.

In Gingrich’s view, these types of policies pose "a great threat" to America, and are comparable to those that characterized Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

His comments have provoked a strong reaction from many groups, including the American Jewish Council (AJC). David Harris, executive director of the AJC, said the analogy was "foolish and dangerous."

"It is vital that the Republican leadership say clearly that such analogies are unacceptable," Harris said. "Unfortunately, as the recent controversy over the new immigration law in Arizona also demonstrates, demonizing political opponents as Nazis is becoming all too common in American political debate."

Criticism has also come from Gingrich’s own political allies. Former GOP Congresswoman Susan Molinari told talk show host Joy Behar that she wanted to "distance myself from that remark. To compare anything that is going on in this country to the atrocities of Nazi Germany in any way, shape or form is just crazy," quoted by CNN.
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FAIR: Obama’s Aunt’s Case Illustrates ‘Abuse Of U.S. Political Asylum Policy’

FAIR: Obama's aunt's case illustrates 'abuse of U.S. political asylum policy'President Barack Obama’s paternal aunt Zeituni Onyango, who is a citizen of Kenya and was living in the United States illegally, has been granted political asylum by a court in Boston.

The court accepted Onyango’s argument that she feared violence—she and Obama’s father, who was her half-brother, were members of the Luo tribe, a minority in Kenya—if she returned to that country. The ruling opens the way for her to apply for legal permanent residency in a year, according to The Boston Globe.

However, the court’s decision has angered immigration reform proponents, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The organization called it "a case study in how those seeking to evade U.S. immigration laws can manipulate the system," and demanded that the entire record of the case be made public.

FAIR representatives were particularly angered at the fact that Onyango was granted the asylum despite having her 2004 petition denied by a Federal immigration court, a ruling she ignored.

"[The] case is an all-too-typical example of how our asylum laws are used to thwart the enforcement [of] U.S. immigration laws," said Dan Stein, president of FAIR, adding that "the system allows people who defy our laws repeated opportunities to [come up with] new reasons to be granted legal permission to remain."ADNFCR-1961-ID-19785087-ADNFCR

Study: Vitamin E May Help Prevent Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Study: Vitamin E may help prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary diseaseAccording to a new Cornell University study, older women may be able to significantly decrease their risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by regularly taking vitamin E supplements.

For the study, researchers analyzed the medical data of more than 40,000 women over the age of 45 who were randomly assigned to take either 600 mg of vitamin E or a placebo every other day for several years.

At the conclusion of the research, the investigators found that participants who regularly took nutritional supplements had an approximately 10 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with COPD compared to those in the control group. However, vitamin E had no statistically significant effect on preventing the development of asthma.

"If results of this study are borne out by further research, clinicians may recommend that women take vitamin E supplements to prevent COPD," said lead author Anne Hermetet Agler.

She also noted that the benefits of vitamin E supplementation were apparent in smokers and non-smokers alike.

The findings will be presented at the ATS 2010 International Conference in New Orleans later this week.
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Obama Asks National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair To Resign

Obama asks National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair to resign In the wake of several attempted terrorist attacks and recent quarrels with the White House, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said May 20 that he will resign at the end of May. Several media outlets are reporting that the move was not voluntary, and that President Obama had asked Blair to step down.

During his 16-month tenure, Blair continually clashed with CIA Director Leon Panetta, who tried to limit the size and power of the director’s staff, according to The New York Times. Blair was also highly critical of the expansion of the CIA’s covert activities program, which he felt contributed to the nation’s tarnished global image.

Meanwhile, several Republican lawmakers said that Blair is being used as a scapegoat to cover up the failures of other members of Obama’s staff, Fox News reports.

"Blair’s resignation is the result of the Obama administration’s rampant politicization of national security and outright disregard for congressional intelligence oversight," said Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.).

"Dennis Blair was the one person you could count on for rationality among Holder, Napolitano and Brennan—and he’s the one the president let go."

Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence James Clapper is said to be the leading candidate to replace Blair.
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