Special Interests Solicit Supercommittee

As the 12-member budget supercommittee considers where the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction cuts will be made before its looming Thanksgiving deadline, the members are being bombarded by concerned special interest and lobbying groups.

According to POLITICO, about 200 lobbyists representing businesses and groups have reported that they are talking to supercommittee members in an effort to protect funding ranging from healthcare to money allocated to Native American tribes.

According to the report, organizations related to the healthcare industry are currently leading the efforts with representatives from insurance companies and big pharmaceutical seeking to influence deficit reduction panel members. Representatives from the defense, education, telecommunications and transportation industries have also been attempting to reach the committee to talk taxes and benefits.

Many government insiders say that the deficit reduction team is offering very little information about what is being discussed in their talks, calling it “one of the most tightly lipped” special committees in decades. What information is known, POLITICO says, is not very reassuring. Both Republicans and Democrats understand the problems, but cannot reach many agreements as another U.S. credit downgrade looks evermore unavoidable.

Reports indicate that the supercommittee will likely focus heavily on taxes this week with discussions of an international tax bill. Some details of the proposal include a mandatory repatriation of corporate money overseas, and a separate provision that lowers corporate tax rates to 25 percent. Lobbying is expected to become more intense with the discussion of taxes.

MSM Continues To Muddy Paul Message

GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul appeared on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday to explain to David Gregory, the show’s host, his definition of true conservatism. By Monday, mainstream media headlines called the candidate everything but an anarchist.

POLITICO, following Paul’s assertion that the Federal government has taken advantage of students seeking education loans, claimed that the candidate wanted no available loan programs for those seeking an education.

“Just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education,” said Paul during his television appearance. “I went to school when we had none of those. I could work my way through college and medical school because it wasn’t so expensive.”

On Monday, Paul released a statement on his website saying that media has once again misconstrued his message claiming that he wants people to pay cash for school. In reality, the candidate said, if the Federal government gets out of the student-loan business, other lenders will fill the gap and will do so more competitively.

A piece in The Wall Street Journal draws on “Meet the Press” statements made by the candidate calling his views on foreign interventionism “skeptical.”

During his Sunday interview, Paul expressed disbelief that President Barack Obama’s announcement that troops were to be completely withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year was true. The candidate said that because the military and private sector defense companies have been intermingled on U.S. dime, it is really impossible to say how many armed American interveners will actually remain at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. He also raised questions as to whether Iran is a real threat to the United States or even to Israel.

“Israel has 300 nuclear weapons and missiles… Iran can’t even make enough gasoline for themselves, they have to import gasoline,” Paul said. “So, they don’t have intercontinental ballistic missiles, they don’t have a nuclear weapon, there’s a big discussion going on on how far along they are. I was in the service, and lived through the 60s, the Soviets had 30,000 of them and they were going to bury us. And we survived that, so for us to plan to go to war against Iran under these conditions scares a lot of Americans. It certainly scares the young people… because they’re going to bear this burden financially and also they may be required to fight these wars that are unnecessary and un-Constitutional.”

Paul’s “Restore America” plan, offering a comprehensive view of his plans if elected President, can be viewed in full on his website.

Judicial Watch: Documents Prove Gardasil Casualties

Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced last week that documents it obtained from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request detail 26 new deaths resulting from Gardasil vaccinations.

The deaths were recorded in adverse reaction reports made between Sept. 10, 2010 and Sept. 15, 2011. Other adverse reactions to the drug detailed in the reports included seizures, paralysis, blindness, pancreatitis, speech problems, short-term memory loss and Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

The adverse-reaction reports include the case of a healthy 14-year old girl first injected with the drug in 2007, who developed symptoms including numbness and tingling in her fingers and toes, fatigue, a hard time falling asleep, urinary tract infections, ovarian cyst, irritability, trouble getting out of bed and seizures. At the time of her final injection in 2008, she was said to have suffered more than 150 seizures. The child reportedly ultimately died from complications related to ovarian cysts.

Another victim, an 18-year old girl, died five months after receiving the inoculation from complications related to meningitis. The young woman had reportedly also received a meningitis vaccine during her Gardasil treatments, but health officials contend the strain that killed her was “likely the type not prevented by the vaccination.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still recommends the vaccine: “Based on all of the information we have today, CDC recommends HPV vaccination for the prevention of most types of cervical cancer. As with all approved vaccines, CDC and FDA will continue to closely monitor the safety of HPV vaccines.”

The Gardasil controversy has recently resurged in headlines amid reports of GOP Presidential candidate Texas Governor Rick Perry’s signing of an executive order in 2007 requiring the vaccine for young girls in his State.

Nasty Primary: Good Or Bad For GOP?

Consensus is split among analysts trying to decide whether the nastiness of recent GOP Presidential primary debates is creating problems for the Republican Party or forging a battle-tested, formidable opponent to emerge in the contest against Barack Obama in 2012.

Following each debate, headlines about the ongoing feud between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have been abundant; and recently, rhetorical transfers between the two candidates have become more and more personal. According to The Hill, many Republicans think the “friendly fire” is doing little more than ensuring Obama a victory in the 2012 election.

“What happened last night was horrific. If you applaud what happened last night, then don’t come asking me in December of 2012 what happened,” GOP strategist Frank Luntz told activists last Wednesday at the Western Republican Leadership Conference following the Las Vegas debate.

Many Republicans agree with Luntz, using words like “childish,” “unprofessional” and “desperate” to describe Republican on Republican attacks that may resurface as Democratic ammunition in the general election.

Others say the attacks are simply a means by which Republicans will be better able to identify the best man or woman for the job, according to NPR. Many people believe that last Tuesday’s debate was the first moment that candidate Romney has abandoned his cool, collected demeanor to defend against attacks. In one of the debate’s most heated moments, an exchange occurred between Perry and Romney in which the Texas Governor brought up mud slung in 2008 regarding Romney’s employing a lawn care company found to have used illegal alien labor.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy believes arguments and attacks are good moments for Republican primaries, if they end well before the general election: “Having a spirited primary that ends at a reasonable time — like mid-March — is the best outcome, because you get battle-tested, you get better, but you can unify the party quicker, and the grinding and the clawing stops in enough time for the candidate to pivot to the general election and be competitive there.”

Complete Iraq Troop Withdrawal By Dec. 31

On Friday, President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cemented an agreement for a planned end-of-the-year U.S. troop withdrawal from the country.

The Washington Post reports that, as a result of the withdrawal, only about 150 soldiers will remain in the country to protect the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad and the thousands of American diplomats who work there.

“The rest of our troops in Iraq will come home at the end of the year,” Obama said at the White House. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

Originally planned was an agreement between the two leaders to create special teams of American troops that would continue to train Iraqi police and military personnel. However, Obama and al-Maliki were unable to come to an agreement about how the special operations and training were to take place and scrapped the idea.

The announcement represents a more definitive end to a war that has lasted nearly a decade at a cost of about $1 trillion dollars to the United States. Some people believe that the looming withdrawal will catapult Iraq into a state of sectarian violence and open doors for Islamic militants in the country.

About 39,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq today, and roughly 100,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan. If the Obama Administration successfully withdrawals troops from Iraq, analysts say the feat will become valuable campaign fodder for the incumbent President in 2012.

 

 

Louisiana: No Cash For Secondhand Goods

If you’re in Louisiana and you plan to buy secondhand goods, cash may be useless.

By order of new legislation in the State, House Bill 195, those who buy or sell secondhand goods are no longer allowed to use cash to complete the transactions more than once a month, according to The Consumerist.

Lawmakers in the State claim that the new legislation will cut down on theft of metal and other goods by creating a paper trail of money orders, checks and electronic transactions for police to use as investigative leads.

The law puts requirements on any individual who has a yard sale more than one time in a month and will also affect trading posts and flea markets. They will now all be required to keep detailed records of transactions by logging customer IDs and accepting only checks, money orders or electronic transfers. Many individuals who operate trading posts and flea markets reportedly are unaware of the new law, but backlash is expected as knowledge of the cumbersome fiscal regulation spreads.   

“The government is placing a significant restriction on individuals transacting in their own private property,” Thad Ackel Jr., a lawyer in the State told KLFY.

Pawn shops, which were already required to record transactions in detail, and nonprofit organizations are exempt from the law.

Debate Follows Familiar Trend, Paul Speaks Up

The two-hour CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday followed the same plot that the four GOP debates since Labor Day have: contention between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, Herman Cain and 9-9-9, Michele Bachmann’s love of Israel, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum not saying too much, and Ron Paul’s cry for liberty.

About midway through the first hour of the debate, the moment which most mainstream media chose to use as a headline occurred. Perry, in an attempt to alleviate scrutiny of hypocrisy that he has been accused of, accused Romney of hiring illegal aliens as landscapers, referencing a news story from the 2008 election cycle. The two continued to quarrel throughout the rest of the night, mostly over personal issues.

Cain, who has enjoyed favorable poll numbers in recent weeks, again came under scrutiny by other candidates over his 9-9-9 plan. When he called the attacks “mixing apples and oranges,” the candidate was attacked by Romney, who noted that some States don’t want the burden of a national sales tax.

“I’m going to be getting a big bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it, because I’m going to be paying both taxes. And the people of Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes,” Romney said in one of the debate’s early lines that drew applause.

Most news reports don’t make mention of Paul’s performance in the Tuesday debate, but on the heels of the release of his “Restore America” plan that announces $1 trillion in proposed budget cuts the candidate had much to say. Many times after Paul answered a question, candidates responding would preface their statements with, “Congressman Paul is right.”

Paul took a hard stance against military spending, but said he believes the cuts he has proposed will actually make the country safer.

“This debt bubble is the thing you better really worry about because it’s imploding on us right now; it’s worldwide,” Paul said. “To cut military spending is a wise thing to do.”

He also said that foreign aid should be the easiest cut to the Federal budget that Americans make, saying that it not only bankrupts this country but makes others dependent and unstable. To his assertion that Israel would be included in the cuts, Bachmann said there is no way the cuts should be made because, “Israel is our greatest ally.”

 

Gay Play Peeves High School Kids

A handful of students at a Connecticut high school reportedly walked out of a school play after witnessing a man-on-man kiss.

During the “Zanna Don’t” musical at Hartford Public High, a group of students walked out after the homosexual act, in what school officials referred to as “kind of a symbolic thing,” according to CBS Connecticut.

Reportedly, many students expressed a desire to skip the show beforehand because of the subject matter of the musical, which depicts life at a fictitious high school, where students with academically charged interests sit atop the popularity echelon while football players are the outcasts and heterosexuals must conceal their sexual preference to avoid public scrutiny.

School officials said they were given the opportunity to have the male kissing scene removed from the play, but opted not to because of “the importance of accepting homosexual intimacy as society accepts heterosexual intimacy.”

“Our specific task force voted for this project because we believe in it, especially in light of national and local stories about LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer] issues and bullying,” said Louise Provenzano, who worked with the leadership group that brought the production to the school. “It’s not a comfortable topic for many folks… but our group is very passionate about bringing the message of inclusiveness and… compassion to the community.”

Despite outrage among some students and parents, the school will host two more productions of the musical.

 

 

U.K. Military And Medical Officials: Climate Change Will Cripple Planet

Climate change proponents in the United Kingdom believe that global warming poses “an immediate, growing and grave threat” to health and security around the world.

In anticipation of the U.N.’s annual climate conference in six weeks, the British Medical Journal and a handful of military experts partnered on Monday to discuss what they believe will be the effects of global warming on societies around the world.

Among the environmental consequences the group said would be resultant of lacking action on the part of developed countries are extreme weather events, loss of habitat for humans, water and food shortages and threats to livelihood.

A statement issued by the group and signed by a number of European medical and military officials says that climate change will lead to mass migrations of human beings, causing worldwide security threats.

The group urges “modest lifestyle changes” like reducing dependence on automobiles as personal ways to reduce the chance that their dismal predictions will materialize. For U.N. member governments, however, the suggestions are a little more ambitious.

The group asks the following of world governments:

  • The European Union to unconditionally agree a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions domestically by 30 percent by 2020.
  • Developed countries to adopt more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, to increase their support for low carbon development and to invest in further research into the impact of climate change on health and security.
  • All governments to enact legislative and regulatory change to stop the building of new unabated coal-fired power stations and phase out the continuing operation of existing plants.
  • A mechanism ensuring that all people can share equitably the benefits of a safe atmosphere without penalizing those with the least historical responsibility for climate change must be established.
  • All governments to incorporate the U.N. Security Council Presidential statement from July 20 on the potential consequences of climate change on security.
  • All governments to strive to adopt climate change mitigation targets and policies that are more ambitious than their international commitments.

Half Of Americans Support Legal Marijuana

A Gallup poll released on Monday says that half of Americans support the legalization of recreational marijuana use, about four times as many as in the 1970s.

The poll found that 62 percent of people aged 18 to 29 support legalization of the drug.  In other age groups, 56 percent of those ages 30 to 49 support legalization, and 31 percent of those 65 and older support it. Women were less likely than men to support marijuana legalization, with 46 percent support among women and 55 percent among men.

Politically, favor for legalized marijuana use was at 69 percent among liberals and 57 percent among those who described themselves as moderates, independents and Democrats. People who said they were conservatives supported legalization 34 percent of the time and Republicans 35 percent.

In the Western United States, where States like California have already seen the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes and a subsequent Federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries that propagated following the new policy, 55 percent believe full legalization should take place. Those in the Midwest felt similarly with 54 percent support, while only 44 percent of Southerners were willing to lend support for legal marijuana.

The poll results come just about two weeks after a Federal crackdown targeting medical marijuana dispensaries licensed and regulated by State and local governments in California.

Massachusetts Principal Maligns Christopher Columbus

The principal of a Massachusetts elementary school has warned teachers about the dangers of celebrating fall holidays in class.

Anne Foley, principal of Kennedy Elementary school in Somerville, Mass., sent a faculty email implicating Christopher Columbus for “atrocities” and also advising teachers that they needed to be careful in their handling of Thanksgiving lessons, according to The Boston Herald.

“When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples,” said the email. “We can no longer do so. For many of us and our students celebrating this particular person is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well.”

Foley said that she simply wanted to open dialogue among teachers about how they could better address the very European perspectives offered to children in history classes. According to the article, when asked about specific atrocities committed by Columbus, the principal failed to cite any, saying instead that “she wasn’t going to dwell on that.”

Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) disagreed with the school principal’s political correctness assault on fall holidays: “Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims may have had shortcomings, but they also represent the adventurous, inquisitive side of our heritage and we should recognize that they played key roles in the foundation of our great nation.”

Foley also reportedly opted to ban Halloween celebrations at the school because of possible associations with witchcraft and the presence of students that come from cultures that do not celebrate the holiday.

Clinton Visits Libya, Pledges Support, Money

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton traveled to Libya on Tuesday to offer words of encouragement and millions of dollars in U.S. aid to the country’s fledgling transitional government.

Clinton, the first cabinet member of the Administration of Barack Obama to visit Libya, reportedly made a five-hour visit to the country, hosting a town hall-style meeting with top officials of the newly placed Libyan government, according to The Washington Post. She focused on assuring new Libyan leaders of the United States’ vehement dedication to aiding the country as it tries to re-establish basic infrastructure and social order, both of which were decimated in the battle to oust Moammar Gadhafi. The Secretary of State also vowed to ensure that the thousands of shoulder-fired rockets looted from the Gadhafi compound would be retrieved with U.S. help.

One State Department official said the purpose of the meeting was to focus on “setting the table for a long-term, completely different relationship between the United States and Libya that is deep and broad.”

Americans have provided more than $130 million in aid for Libyan rebels since the beginning of the uprising earlier this year, with more promised. Reportedly, the State Department has boosted funds and staffing in recent months for the sole purpose of returning Libya to a state of order. Clinton has also announced State Department intentions of providing long-term funding for medical facilities for those wounded in the country’s civil war.

Reports indicate pro-Gadhafi forces are still holding out in cities such as Sirte, Gadhafi’s birthplace. The whereabouts of the former leader, whom State Department officials call a “lethal nuisance,” are unknown.

Republicans Put The Heat On Healthcare Reform

Feeling optimistic about the possibility of taking control of the White House and Senate in the 2012 elections, Republican activists are setting the stage for a multi-step process to chip away at Obamacare in 2013.

Many conservatives are pressuring GOP candidates to commit to using every available option to fully repeal the law before pledging to support the candidates, according to the Los Angeles Times.  Conservative healthcare experts reportedly are also discussing draft versions of an alternative to the law, a tactic seen by many people as a way to shield the GOP from past criticisms that they were willing to leave some Americans with no health coverage.

According to The Hill, Republican lawmakers called on Monday for an immediate repeal to measures of Obamacare that the President’s Administration has said are unworkable. A long-term care provision of President Barack Obama’s plan called the CLASS Act was supposed to pay for itself, but last Friday officials announced that it simply could not.

White House officials’ announcement that the CLASS Act was unsustainable prompted swift response from Republicans, many of whom say it is too late to rework the plan. The White House has issued statements saying it is against repealing provisions of the healthcare law, and some experts believe Obama may veto any attempt to repeal any part of the law.

Obama Bus Tour Outlines Election Strategy

President Barack Obama began a three-day bus tour on Monday to target potential voters in North Carolina and Virginia, where experts say he is looking to woo large numbers of minority and “white, professional” voters.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Obama is also expected to travel to the Mountain West next week, where he enjoys heavy support from Hispanics in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Experts say that the President seems to be focusing on an election strategy for 2012 that will give him “multiple routes of victory” to reduce his dependence on Ohio and Florida, traditional electoral gems. The strategy contrasts 2000 and 2004 Democratic strategy when the party focused heavily on those States and won neither.

Campaign officials say that if Obama is able to win majorities in States that traditionally favor Democrats, plus North Carolina and Virginia or one of those and Colorado and Nevada, he will have an electoral college victory. Democrats won majorities in none of those States in 2000 and 2004, but Obama won all four in 2008.

The President’s re-election strategy most recently shows him shying away from working-class, white voters who have become bitter toward his Administration, the newspaper reports.

According to Business Insider, Obama has also further embraced the Occupy Wall Street crowd as a part of his White House re-election strategy. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a preview to the bus tour that Obama will make it clear that he is fighting to make sure that the “interests of 99 percent of Americans are well represented.” This is reportedly the first time the White House has used the term to differentiate between classes of Americans.

Being Multilingual May Reduce Alzheimer Symptoms

Health researchers at St. Michaels Hospital in Canada have determined that being multilingual can ward off symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

A team of researchers studied CT scans of patients who had been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s disease and who had similar levels of education and cognitive skills, such as attention, memory, planning and organization. Half were fluently bilingual; the other half spoke only one language.

The study published in Cortex determined that though both groups performed similarly in regard to cognitive performance, the bilingual patients were doing so with higher levels of dementia-related brain damage.

Previous observational studies have found that bilingualism delays the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by up to five years, but Dr. Tom Schweizer, a neuroscientist who headed the research, said that this is the first time that doctors have physical proof through CT scans that the brains of multilingual people combat Alzheimer’s more effectively.

“This is unheard of – no medicine comes close to delaying the onset of symptoms and now we have the evidence to prove this at the neuroanatomical level,” he said.

Schweizer said that researchers must now reproduce the results, using a larger base of patients and more sophisticated MRI equipment to better understand how to approach dementia prevention.

Paul Will Eliminate $1 Trillion, Cut Presidential Salary By $360,664

GOP Presidential candidate Ron Paul in a recent email to supporters said that he has been given only 18 minutes, 47 seconds to speak during the past three debates; mainstream ignorance of the candidate may end with his Monday release of a budget plan announcing about $1 trillion in specific Federal budget cuts.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Paul’s plan calls for the massive cuts to be made during his first year in office along with the elimination of five cabinet-level  agencies and the lowering of corporate tax rates from 35 to 15 percent.

The candidate’s “Restore America” plan is focused on drastically reducing government reach to spur American business growth. This will be accomplished in part by repealing Obamacare, last year’s Wall Street regulations law and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Paul also calls for a 10 percent reduction in the Federal workforce which may be achieved by eliminating the Departments of Education, Commerce, Energy, Interior and Housing and Urban Development.  He also calls for a 30 percent budget cut to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 40 percent cut to the Food and Drug Administration, slashed Pentagon funding for foreign wars and completely eliminating spending on foreign aid, according to POLITICO.

The Congressman from Texas also wants to see programs like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, family support programs and the children’s nutrition program block-granted to the States and removed from mandatory Federal expenditures. In regard to Social Security, his campaign says that the plan “honors our promise to our seniors and veterans, while allowing young workers to opt out.”

In his plan, Paul also ensures voters that he is not going to make massive Federal budget cuts while living like a fat cat politician. He plans to reduce the Presidential salary from $400,000 yearly to $39,336 a year, which the plan says is “approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.”

Khamenei: Iran Will Fight Against Any U.S. Action

Amid speculation that the U.S. will launch military attacks on Iran, the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warns that any “inappropriate action” will be met with decisive response.

According to Daily Times, a Pakistani news outlet, Iranians deny any involvement whatsoever in the alleged attempted assassination plot against the Saudi foreign minister in Washington, D.C., that was announced by the Department of Justice last week. Many Iranian lawmakers and analysts have come forward and said that Iran would not benefit in any way by assassinating the diplomat in the United States.

“If American officials are entertaining any illusions, they should know that any inappropriate action — whether political or security-related — will meet with the Iranian people’s decisive response,” said Khamenei in a speech in western Iran, according to his official website. “The Islamic republic of Iran will face off any plot, or destructive or obstructive measures, with all its might.”

The Iranian official also said in his speech that the announcement of the plot — which many American analysts have called dubious or likened to a “bad Hollywood script” — was an attempt by Justice Department officials to draw attention away from other issues going on in the U.S., including protests and government scandals. He said that the U.S. is coming unraveled because of government officials’ “undignified accommodation of Zionists” and that “the flames of their [the American people’s] rage would indeed set the system of Hegemony afire and burn it into ashes.”

“You have turned your back to your people. You are hated by most of them. The Islamic Republic is otherwise where the large national participation points to the nation’s firm resolve and perseverance against any conspiracy,” Khamenei said.

INFOWARS.COM reports that the U.S. military has already mobilized a large-scale exercise over the Mideast to pressure Iran by deploying 41 giant transports of the 22nds Airlift Squadron on Monday and putting ground troops on “full alert.” Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi armies are also reportedly standing by for active military conflict.

Pakistan Seeking Understanding With Islamic Militants

Pakistani officials appear less willing than ever to confront Islamic extremist groups, and recently they are instead opting for a diplomatic approach to the handling of terrorist organizations within their country.

According to The Washington Post, recent statements issued by Pakistani officials reject any notion of widespread military action against insurgents in tribal areas of the country and instead call for truces. Reports are not clear as to which militant groups the country will make peace with, or if the insurgents will be willing to cooperate.

According to reports, most Pakistanis have become very disgruntled by the Mideast occupation of the U.S. military and believe that the foreign forces have driven up the number of terror attacks on Pakistanis. Many in the country view the militant groups as disgruntled countrymen more than terrorist organizations and feel that the end of foreign military actions in the region will suppress terror attempts on Pakistani targets.

Though U.S. officials are still calling on Pakistanis to take a hard stance against Islamic militants, leaders in Pakistan say that the idea is hypocritical given how the U.S. is now approaching the Taliban. The U.S. military has recently sought to facilitate talks between Afghan officials and the fractured militant group, according to Andhra News. Many Pakistanis see the United States’ new approach, negotiating with militant groups like the Haqqani network, as a way to save face in the Mideast before the anticipated 2014 troop withdrawal.

U.S. Spends $30 Million Looking For Gadhafi Missiles

After the U.S. helped Libyans oust Moammar Gadhafi, hundreds of surface-to-air missiles and other dangerous weapons fell into the hands of Libyan rebels and terror groups. Americans are now footing the bill for a $30 million program to track down the weapons.

Under the program, the U.S. government has sent 14 civilian military contractors to help the Libyan transitional government search for the weapons, according to an article in The Washington Post.

President Barack Obama refused to send U.S. soldiers to Libya for the missile retrieval mission to avoid raising ire in the region and from members of Congress at home. Despite the lack of military involvement, the contractor mission represents the biggest weapons-retrieval initiative since those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the rebel raids on the Gadhafi compound last month, Libyan rebels — many of whom are linked to al-Qaida — were said to be seen looting hundreds of weapons, including assault rifles, grenades and shoulder-fired missiles. The U.S. urgency in recovering the surface-to-air missiles stems from the ability of those weapons to shoot down commercial aircraft; in fact, 40 commercial planes have been shot down in such manner since the 1970s.

Last week, security forces apprehended several Libyan missiles en route to Egypt, where they are often sold on the black market. Reportedly, in regions with a high number of surface-to-air missile black market sales, the number available is so high that the price of a missile has dropped from $10,000 to about $4,000.

 

Phosphorous May Be Endangered Element

Some researchers believe that phosphorous — a staple of life present in the DNA of all plants and animals — is becoming endangered, and its gradual depletion is being largely ignored.

Phosphorus is used worldwide by farmers and in a number of key industries, but 85 percent of rich phosphate deposits for mining are limited to just three countries: China, the United States and Morocco.  James Elser, a professor at Arizona State University, and Elizabeth Bennett, a researcher at McGill University in Canada, published an article last month that calls for an examination of phosphate use and a contingency plan for the disappearance of phosphorus. In their article “Phosphorus cycle: a broken biogeochemical cycle” which was published in Nature, the two argue that while mineable phosphorus is disappearing, that which is used in industry and farming is poisoning the environment. The two say that there is an urgent need for recycling programs that target the element.

Officials in the United States have reportedly just begun considering ways to approach limited phosphorus supplies. Morocco, the country with the world’s largest mineable phosphorus reserve, has been planning for years to benefit from phosphorus shortfalls. Despite having more of the element available than China and the United States, Morocco mines less – although it still accounts for 30 percent of global export, according to Reuters. Some researchers believe the North African country is waiting for its two competitors to deplete reserves, giving the country a monopoly on the element, before increasing production.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) indicates that phosphorus that can be mined with modern technology, could be completely gone in as little as 90 years.

 

Herman Cain Tax Plan: Dubious Or Dream For Conservatives?

One analysis of the Herman Cain tax proposal finds that implementation of the 2012 GOP presidential contender’s 9-9-9 plan may be difficult, but conservatives say it is a welcome idea in the tax discussion.

The Washington Post administered a fact check on claims Cain has made about his plan and found at least some aspects of it to be “highly dubious.”

The article says that while Cain’s claim that he will throw out the current tax plan may be true, his ability to replace it with 9-9-9 would take a long time, and the result would be only temporary. The research indicates such because 9-9-9 is the second of three parts involved in the Cain tax goal. The first step would cut individual and corporate tax rates to a top 25 percent rate, and the last step is actually the replacement of any current tax structure — even 9-9-9 — with a national sales tax or Fair Tax.

The article expresses doubt in the plan:

“As denizens of Washington, we find this three-step process to be highly dubious. It takes years, even decades, to fundamentally overhaul the tax code. Herman Cain is going to do this three times in his presidency?”

The Wall Street Journal says the Cain tax proposal “clearly has roots in the Reagan-era antitax movement.” The newspaper reports that Cain even met extensively with conservative economist Arthur Laffer in considering the basis of his proposal. Laffer has said that 9-9-9 will be a “vast improvement to the current tax system and a boon to the U.S. economy.”

Conservative supporters believe that even though Cain’s proposal may take a long time to implement completely, beginning the discussion is the first step.

Federal Judge Blocks Two Parts Of Tough Immigration Law

The Atlanta-based Federal appeals court has delayed two of the controversial measures put into place under what has been called one of the strictest pieces of immigration legislation in the United States.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday temporarily blocked provisions in Alabama immigration legislation, which the State’s legislature passed over the summer, that would require individuals living in the State illegally to obtain an alien registration card and another that required school officials to check the immigration status of students.

The new orders represent a partial victory for those against the immigration law. The court opted to uphold provisions in the law requiring police to attempt to determine immigration status during traffic stops, making it illegal for aliens to enter business transactions — including applying for driver licenses and business licenses — and barring State courts from enforcing contracts involving anyone who is in the State illegally, according to CNN.

The Administration of Barack Obama says the Constitution does not permit States to deter illegal immigration, saying an issue with foreign policy implications is the exclusive mandate of the Federal government. The Department of Justice has joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center in lawsuits against the Alabama immigration law.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley has said that the legislation would not have been necessary “if the Federal government would have done its job and enforced the laws dealing with this problem.”

Tea Party, Taxpayers: Buzz Off, Whiners

As the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement drags on, it has prompted criticism from its more established and goal-oriented political cousin, the Tea Party, and another group that says it is “the 53 percent.”

A Tea Party-related website published an article entitled “Occupy Wall Street? They’re No Tea Partiers” earlier this week to ensure that its opinion of the movement is known. The piece proclaims that the Tea Party has nothing against Wall Street corporations; instead, it is dissatisfied with the government that props up corporations when they fail. Tea Partiers say the Occupiers have missed the point about why Wall Street is corrupt: Government is too involved in financial markets.

“…[T]hose occupying Wall Street and other cities, when they are intelligible, want less of what made America great and more of what is damaging to America: a bigger, more powerful government to come in and take care of them so they don’t have to work like the rest of us who pay our bills.”

The OWS movement was also the catalyst behind a website that mocks the message of the so-called 99 percent, who believe they are abused by the 1 percent of Americans who are allegedly super wealthy. The new group has launched a website to counter the OWS message. We Are The 53% says it represents: “Those of us who pay for those of you who whine about all of that… or that… or whatever.”

The website is said to represent the 53 percent of Americans who pay Federal income taxes. It assumes that the Wall Street protesters — who are camped out during regular working hours — are part of the 47 percent of the country who do not. While the 53 percent may not be attracting as much mainstream media attention as the OWS crowd, the messages posted by its supporters are strong and clear: “Shut up,” “get a job,” “the taxes I pay support you,” etc.