Postal Service: Legislation Needed to Change Fed Burden For Profit Sake

Without legislative action, the U.S. Postal Service will most likely default by the end of September, according to a press release issued Tuesday. The agency lacks the funding to meet a Congressionally mandated $5.5 billion payment to pre-fund Postal Service retiree health benefits.

“The Postal Service is in a crisis today because it operates within a restrictive business model and has limited flexibility to respond to a changing marketplace,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Tuesday. “We need the ability to operate more as a business does. This applies to the way we provide products and services, allocate resources, configure our retail, delivery and mail processing networks and manage our workforce.”

The Postal Service has blamed the current economic climate and the increased use of electronic communication for a significant drop in the amount of First Class and Standard mail that the agency handles, a trend that is predicted to continue indefinitely. Over the past four years, the agency has cut costs by about $12 billion and let go about 110,000 employees. In order to meet profitability in its current state, the Postal Service must make an additional $20 billion in cuts by 2015: This means large-scale lay-offs, post office closings and a major reduction in services.

 

USPS Mail Volume

“Without legislative change this year, the Postal Service faces default, as available liquidity at the end of this month will be insufficient to meet our financial obligations. Even our unavoidable default on the required $5.5 billion RHB pre-payment and the suspension of our employer contribution to the defined benefit portion of the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) will not stave off financial disaster,” Donahoe said. “After reimbursing the Department of Labor (DOL) $1.3 billion for workers’ compensation payments in October 2011, we will have liquidity equal to approximately one week’s operating expenses.  Foregoing the RHB pre-payment this year, without fundamental changes in the funding schedule, will likely only forestall insolvency until this time next year.”

The Postal Service says it is not looking for a bailout, but legislation that will ease its operational burdens. Among the legislative action on the failing agency’s wish list: an amendment that would change the way its $5.5 billion in annual retirement health benefits is handled; a return of $6.9 billion in Federal Employees Retirement System overpayments; the authority to change the agency’s healthcare system to make it independent of the Federal system; and the authority to set its own delivery schedule, product policy and new-hire practices.

The size of the Postal Service workforce must also be addressed to meet the 2015 goal. In order to return to profitability, the Postal Service will have to to reduce its career workforce by about another 220,000, but it is unable to do so under the terms of existing collective bargain agreements. To ease workforce reductions, the Postal Service is asking Congress to allow it to use Reduction-in-Force (RIF) provisions currently applicable to Federal competitive service employees for positions held by bargaining unit employees.

 

Paul Offers Obama Advice For Jobs Speech

Representative Ron Paul of Texas, speaking on Fox Business’ Freedom Watch on Monday, made some suggestions for President Barack Obama as he plans his speech set for tonight.

When asked by the show’s host, Judge Andrew Napolitano, how the 2012 GOP contender might approach the joint session of Congress if he were President, Paul said: “Economically speaking, we need to clean house. We need to change the whole system because we’ve been following the wrong ideas; we have been following Keynesian economics. We need to get rid of the mistakes made, that means we have to liquidate the debt.”

Paul laughed as he went through a list of the things that he believes the Federal government must change before it will be able to make real steps in the direction of economic recovery: regulation, taxation, monetary policy and foreign policy.

“We have to just quit spending, and allow the market to work,” Paul said.

The candidate also said the American people have become very disillusioned to the difference between a right and an entitlement: “Where do we get our rights, and what do rights mean? Whether it’s worker rights or minority rights or whatever; they’re talking about groups instead of the individual, and when they talk about this, they endorse the concept of entitlements. Entitlements are now rights, business people think they’re entitled to certain help, everybody’s entitled to a bailout, the poor have entitlements. So it’s this whole lost notion of what rights are and responsibility. We want our right to our life and our liberties and we ought to be able to keep the fruits of our labors, but we sort of have given up on that, and we have grown very soft.”

Paul said that Americans will either reject Obama’s plans for more government spending as a way to fix the economy, or face a future filled with governmental tyranny.

 

London Think Tank Describes ‘War Gone Badly Wrong’ In 9/11 Response Review

A report created by the U.K.-based Oxford Research Group (ORG) sums up the consequences of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade as “a war gone badly wrong.”

Paul Rogers, a professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire and Global Security Consultant to ORG, created the report which seeks to measure the intentions for U.S. and European involvement in the Mideast against the consequences of involvement 10 years later. The author says the horrific events of 9/11 were a sound reason for the U.S. to pursue al-Qaida in the Mideast, but that the War on Terror has essentially lost direction and represents unexplainable and indefensible practices of foreign policy as it enters its second decade.

The report concludes:

A brief war in Afghanistan is shortly to enter its second decade, seven years of war in Iraq have yet to bring a lasting peace, and Pakistan remains deeply unstable. Meanwhile, groups linked loosely with the al-Qaida movement make progress in Yemen, Nigeria, Algeria and the Horn of Africa.

At present, the outlook is somewhat bleak. The United States and its coalition allies have indeed started to learn from a decade’s failures; but the lessons they are drawing show them still to be rooted in a “control paradigm”: keeping the lid on conflicts (“liddism”) rather than preventing their emergence. The control paradigm still dominates, albeit in a slightly different form. Rather than a reliance on “boots on the ground” and troop “surges”, and the sustained use of air-power and precision-guided munitions, we are likely to witness a blurring of the roles between the military and agencies such as the CIA; an assumption of paramilitary roles by intelligence agencies; and a deployment of the military’s special forces in “taking out” threats whenever and wherever they arise.

In the context of an increasingly fragile and uncertain world, and of a situation where radical groups and individuals from marginalised communities are capable of probing the innate weaknesses of advanced industrial states, these measures are seriously misconceived in terms of finding solutions to the problems western states are facing. This new way of attempting to “control” global insecurity, exemplified in the reaction to Osama bin Laden’s death, may initially prove popular. But so, once, were the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is difficult to imagine that the newer type of “transnational” warfare will be any more successful than the failed policies of the last decade.

The report also calls upon U.S. and British officials to use the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 as an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes of the past decade via an in-depth, comprehensive assessment of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure, according to ORG, will allow the U.S. and its partners to learn from the evident failure of the War on Terror by paying more attention to the underlying causes of conflict, such as factors motivating young paramilitaries to take extreme action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical Islamic Ties In Libyan Transition Team

Attacks throughout the Middle East, as the U.S. and NATO forces continue to pursue key entities in the global terror network, have fettered al-Qaida’s ability to maintain strongholds in Pakistan, leading the organization to search for opportunities to expand throughout the Arabian peninsula, the Washington Examiner reports.

Many have raised concerns that the NATO-facilitated unrest in Libya will create a power vacuum in the country that the terrorist organization will silently fill.

“The idea of global jihad is alive and thriving as the Arab Spring turns violent," Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and senior adviser to three U.S. Presidents on the Middle East said in the article.

Unrest in Tripoli continues, with news of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi defeated one day and making military gains the next as a violent NATO-backed rebel insurrection continues, and there are now reports that former al-Qaida members have gained high level positions in the country.

Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) on Saturday announced that a Military Council would be formed in order to protect a fledgling rebel government. Heading up this council will be Abdel Hakim Belhadj, the former head of the al-Qaida-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which was banned internationally as a terrorist organization after the 9/11 attacks.

Asharq Al Awsat, an Arabic newspaper, produced an article about Belhadj in August entitled “From Holy Warrior to Hero of a Revolution.”

It is reported that Belhadj is just one of about 1,000 members of the radical Islamic group, which has been under CIA and British Intelligence scrutiny for the past two decades, and has been a major benefactor in the overthrow of Gadhafi and the destabilization of his country. In March, members of the LIFG apparently announced that they had placed themselves under the leadership of the NATO-affiliated NTC, and that the group had changed its name from the LIFG to the friendlier moniker, Libyan Islamic Movement.

In a recent interview that was reprinted by Time, Belhadj denied any “ideological” ties to al-Qaida, but admitted to fighting alongside the terror cell in Afghanistan.  In 2004 he was reportedly arrested by the CIA, detained as a terrorist and thrown into a Libyan prison after being tortured by U.S. officials. The Gadhafi regime liberated him from the prison in 2010.

It remains unclear whether the Libyan Islamist Movement favors the establishment of an Islamic State in Libya — which would allow al-Qaida opportunities to move freely, plan and headquarter in the country — or if they support Sharia law.

Ron Paul And Rick Perry Spar Over 1988 Election

Ron Paul is using a history in Texas politics to take a swing at Governor Rick Perry as they both vie for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination.

A new campaign ad released by Paul’s campaign committee reminds Americans that Perry backed climate-crusader Al Gore in the 1988 Presidential campaign against President Ronald Reagan.

"The establishment called him extreme and unelectable. They said he was the wrong man for the job. It’s why a young Texan named Ron Paul was one of only four congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan’s campaign for President, believing in Reagan’s message of smaller government and lower taxes,” says the announcer. "After Reagan, Senator Al Gore ran for President, pledging to raise taxes and increase spending, pushing his liberal values. And Al Gore found a cheerleader in Texas named Rick Perry. Rick Perry helped lead Al Gore’s campaign to undo the Reagan revolution, fighting to elect Al Gore President of the United States.
Now, American must decide who to trust — Al Gore’s Texas cheerleader, or the one who stood with Reagan.”

According to CBS, the ad prompted the Perry campaign to respond by noting a letter written by Paul announcing his 1987 resignation from the Republican Party, citing its move from small government principals.

Perry’s campaign, seeking to discredit Paul, called the letter a “…broadside attack on every element of President Reagan’s record and philosophy.” It noted that Paul so disapproved of Republican policies that he left the GOP; though, the Perry campaign failed to mention that Paul’s advertisement referred only to Reagan’s first term, during which he sought to shrink government.

Obama Gives Familiar Jobs Speech On Labor Day

Obama Gives Familiar Jobs Speech On Labor DayPresident Barack Obama spent part of Labor Day alongside Teamsters union members in Detroit giving a speech that many people believe has become too familiar to the American public.

“We’ve got roads and bridges across this country that need rebuilding. We’ve got private companies with the equipment and the manpower to do the building. We’ve got more than 1 million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now. There is work to be done and there are workers ready to do it. Labor is on board. Business is on board. We just need Congress to get on board. Let’s put America back to work,” the President said in his Monday speech.

Echoing policies that the Administration has been employing since its beginning, Obama advocated more stimulus spending, in a speech that is perhaps a precursor to his address to Congress set for Thursday. Promising that he will “propose ways to put America back to work that both parties can agree to” the President called out Congress for attempting to block spending measures over the past several months.

One thing the President did not mention was the last Friday’s Department of Labor jobs assessment that reported zero job growth and a major drop in consumer confidence that has rattled the nation’s economy over the past month.

At a time when the government has essentially run out of available funds and the President seeks more public spending to spur job growth to the dismay of many in Congress — Tea Party members in particular — reports are vague about what Obama’s plans are.
CNN reports that the President’s proposals for Thursday have been kept secret by the White House but will mostly involve more large-scale government spending.

Some of the terms expected to be heard:

Infrastructure Bank — A Government investment via a Federal loan program followed by smaller jolts of loaned funding throughout the life of a private-sector project under the assumption that interest will eventually repay the loan and provide profit.

New Hire Tax Credits — Similar to the HIRE Act which was in place during 2010, and has since expired, which provided $13 billion in Federal funding to offer business hiring incentives. A modified version of the same plan is expected in the near future from the Obama Administration.

More Unemployment — Though unemployment benefits have most recently been extended to an unprecedented 99-weeks at a cost of about $56.5 billion to taxpayers, analysts say the President may suggest another extension.

Free Trade — Agreements have already been drafted that would open up U.S. trade with countries traditionally embargoed like Columbia, South Korea and Panama. Many politicians believe that it is time to formally open trade.

Patent Reform — Before summer recess, Congress was in the process of making the patent process easier in an effort to spark the economy by making it easier for those with product ideas to realize their business goals.

Other ideas that the President may discuss include further payroll tax reductions, a tax holiday that would encourage corporations to bring money currently in overseas accounts back to the country, a program that would allow businesses to train workers drawing unemployment benefits and another round of Obama’s Build America municipal bonds.

Human Testing Details Revealed

Last October, the United States government revealed documents pertaining to medical experiments it conducted between 1946 and 1948 in which doctors infected soldiers, prisoners and mental patients in Guatemala with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Upon being briefed about the incidents, President Barack Obama launched a further investigation into the matter; details released on Aug. 29 showed that 1,300 Guatemalans were infected in a study scientists knew was unethical.

According to BBC News, the experiment was discovered by Professor Susan Reverby at Wellesley College as she researched links between the infamous Tuskegee syphilis doctor and Guatemalan studies with penicillin.

“At a time when so much medical research is global, it behooves us to take account of what has been done in the past by American researchers in other countries,” said Reverby in a Washington Post article last year.

There is significant evidence to conclude that there was collaboration between U.S. and Guatemalan authorities at the time of the tests. However, it is believed that authorities in Guatemala were unaware of the deadly nature of the injections U.S. doctors were providing, Carlos Mejia, a member of the commission established by the Guatemalan government to investigate the experiments, told BBC.

According to reports, concentrations of bacteria were injected into the eyes, the central nervous system and male genitals in some instances; and in other instances, sexual acts were encouraged between male prisoners and diseased prostitutes.

“It took place in the context in which they [the United States] were judging the German doctors who had been experimenting with typhus and malaria on prisoners of war. The Nazis used Poles, Russians and Jews, while the Americans made almost the same use of Guatemalans,” Mejia told BBC.

In recent years, there have been reports of several other instances of horrific government testing done on physically and mentally disabled hospital patients and prisoners in the United States. A story published by The Associated Press in February detailed such experiments, including giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.

In Tuskegee, Ala., in the 1930s a group of 399 black men with syphilis were studied by a team of doctors as the disease progressed. Despite the availability of treatment, the men — who thought they were being treated for “bad blood” — received no proper medical care as doctors simply documented the sickness over time. The study went on for about 40 years.

In another instance, preceding the consentless infection of many of the Guatemalans, the government preformed a similar test in an Indiana prison. Researchers exposed 241 inmates in Terre Haute Prison to gonorrhea in 1943 and 1944. The researchers explained the experiments in advance in detail and experimented only on prisoners who volunteered.

Other government projects included feeding unsuspecting citizens large doses of LSD or marijuana to test the effects of the substances and the ability to use them for mind-control. Projects known under guises such as Operation Midnight Climax and MK-ULTRA, very similar to practices in the history of the Soviet Union, took place over the course of several decades.

A 1977 Time article tells the story of taxpayer-funded, CIA-run inner-city brothels where patrons were drugged by prostitutes (who were on CIA payroll) and then observed from behind mirrored glass during Midnight Climax. The experiment known as Project MK-ULTRA, subjected unaware humans to experiments with drugs such as LSD and barbiturates, hypnosis and (some reports indicate) radiological and biological agents. In 1973, CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all documents from Project MK-ULTRA destroyed, although The New York Times revealed the cover-up the following year.

The CIA spent nearly $20 million, enlisting the services of researchers at more than 30 universities to conduct experiments on subjects without their knowledge. Some of the research was also performed in Canada. Some people believe the goal of the program was to create a mind-control system by which the CIA could program people to conduct assassinations and may have had severe unintended consequences.

The discoveries of the unethical testing brings forth questions about other similar instances and the possibility that government and pharmaceutical companies may be baiting citizens into unwittingly acting as guinea pigs in dangerous experiments today. Skepticism surrounding several vaccines — many of which are quickly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration despite often debilitating side effects — has led organizations such as the National Vaccine Information Center to fight against government-mandated inoculation.

 

Gas Prices Spike For Labor Day, More Price Increases Possible

According to AAA, gas prices have spiked to a national average $3.65 per regular unleaded gallon and $3.90 per diesel gallon as Labor Day weekend kicks off. The prices are about $1 per gallon higher than they were at this time last year.

A little over a week ago, due to continuing conflict in Libya and rising tensions in Syria as demonstrators lash out against President Bashar al-Assad, the Administration of Barack Obama declared an embargo on what little oil imports the U.S. receives from the country. The European Union, on Friday, followed the President’s example by stepping up sanctions against Syria as well. EU officials now report that no oil will be imported from the country, a move that accounts for about 95 percent of all Syrian oil exports, according to the BBC.

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron told the BBC: “We’ve been at the vanguard, arguing for a different approach to Syria. What [Assad] is doing is appalling. He’s had his chance to demonstrate he’s serious about reform and he’s blown it.”

The Financial Times reports that Syria is not nearly as important to the oil industry as Libya; though, the European Union embargo on its oil exports could still have a meaningful impact in supporting prices. Syria produces about 370,000 barrels a day and exports nearly 150,000 per day, according to the International Energy Agency.

As the EU looks to other sources for oil import, raising demand for producers upon which the U.S. depends could cause higher prices at the pump for many Americans.

 

 

ATF Fast And Furious Plot Thickens: Feds Attempted Cover-up

More details about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) “Fast and Furious” operation have been revealed, indicating that the White House had a heavier involvement than previously known and that a government attempt to cover up fatal consequences’ of ATF actions occurred.

Under the program, more than 2,000 assault rifles and illegal firearms were handed directly to Mexican drug cartels in an effort to “track illegal gun-trafficking operations.” The secretive operation was revealed when U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was slain by a gun provided to cartel operatives by the ATF. Per Department of Homeland Security policy to fire non-lethal rounds at criminals entering the country illegally or threatening Border Patrol, Terry was armed with a weapon that fired bean bags when he was murdered, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

According to Fox News, information revealed after the reassignment of former ATF employees shows that Federal officials on various levels tried to cover up details of Terry’s murder. The news agency reported that the examination ATF internal calls, emails and hand-written documents has provided damning evidence against Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emory Hurley and Michael Morrissey, along with Patrick Cunningham, chief of the office’s Criminal Division. In an email exchange the day after the murder between Hurley and then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, they decided not to disclose the connection between Terry’s slaying and the ATF’s gun sales to the Mexican cartels, because “… this way we do not divulge our current case (Fast and Furious) or the Border Patrol shooting case.”

Allegedly, after complications arose, some of the most basic law enforcement techniques typically used to take illegal weapons from criminals required the explicit approval of high-level ATF officials, as not to divulge the details of Fast and Furious or provide a link between it and Terry’s murder by retrieving ATF provided weapons.

The L.A. Times reports that senior White House officials were privy to at least some of the goings on under the Fast and Furious operation, naming three officials: Kevin M. O’Reilly, director of North American Affairs for the White House national security staff; Dan Restrepo, the President’s senior Latin American adviser; and Greg Gatjanis, a White House national security official.

The paper also said the Justice Department has changed its tune as to how many crimes were committed in the U.S. using ATF-sold firearms; it recently stated 11 incidents had occurred, but now says it is only aware of one violent crime linked to the guns. However, some investigators have said that the weapons were discovered at more than 20 violent crime sites in Mexico and several in the U.S.

 

 

 

Obama Green Energy Gem Tanks Two Years After Taxpayer Prop

In March 2009, the Administration of Barack Obama bypassed regular procedures designed to protect taxpayers to guarantee funding to a politically connected green energy company through a Department of Energy lending program. On Wednesday, the company announced that it must now suspend operations and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to green energy market conditions.

Solyndra LLC, an American manufacturer of cylindrical solar systems, was given a guarantee of $535 million in Department of Energy funding as a part of the Administration’s heavily publicized effort to create green jobs and alternative energy sources.

iWatch News reported questionable finances within the company in May after the Department of Energy disclosed it was being forced to restructure Solyndra’s loan package. Questions also arose about the company’s investor relationships with the President. One major investor was George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who acquired between $50,000 and $100,000 for Obama during the 2008 election.

A press release on the Department of Energy website posted the same day as Solyndra bankruptcy announcement read:

Solar panel manufacturing is a growing international market, with increasingly intense competition from Chinese manufacturers who are supported in many cases by interest free government financing that is much more generous than what the U.S. provides.  The price for solar cells has fallen 42 percent since the beginning of the year — even as European countries, currently the largest market for solar panels, are facing economic turmoil and have greatly reduced subsidies for solar power.  The changing economics have affected a number of solar manufacturers in recent months, including unfortunately, Solyndra, a once very promising company that has increased its sales revenue by 2000 percent in three years and sold more than 1000 installations in 20 countries.  As a result, Solyndra now plans to suspend its manufacturing operations and file for bankruptcy protection.

Next, a statement that seemingly sought to take the heat off the Obama Administration and the Department of Energy for their risky loan guarantees:

This loan guarantee was pursued by both the Bush and Obama Administrations.  Private sector investors – who put more than $1 billion of their own money on the line – also saw great potential in the company.

Solyndra placed the blame elsewhere in its announcement:

…global economic and solar industry market conditions have forced the Company to suspend its manufacturing operations.

And as for the green jobs:

As a result of the suspension of operations approximately 1,100 full-time and temporary employees are being laid off effective immediately.

The Government Accountability Office had been critical of the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program (even in instances unlike Solyndra where due process was carried out), alleging that some beneficiaries of guarantees had received preferential treatment because of political ties. A July report from the agency said that the Department of Energy had in relation to the loans, “…broadly indicated the program’s direction but has not developed all the tools necessary to assess progress.” A request was made that the Department improve its ability to evaluate the implementation of loan guarantees with regards to job creation, projected business success and profitability.

 

 

Justice Department Cracks Down On Free Speech Regarding Free Choice

Abortion advocates have championed President Barack Obama’s  Justice Department for using a 1994 law — the Freedom of Access to Clinics Law (FACE) — to ramp up civil lawsuits against protestors outside abortion clinics.

A report from NPR, said the department has filed eight civil cases against abortion protestors outside clinics during Obama’s Administration compared to one during Bush’s two-term Presidency. According to the news agency, the increase has led to less violence near abortion clinics.

“There’s been a substantial difference between this administration and the one immediately prior,” Ellen Gertzog, director of security for Planned Parenthood, told the news agency. “From where we sit, there’s currently much greater willingness to carefully assess incidents when they occur and to proceed with legal action when appropriate.”

Planned Parenthood is an organization that advocates the rights of women to choose to have an abortion. Its website states: “Abortions are very common. In fact, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old…” and, “If you are pregnant, you have three options to think about — abortion, adoption, and parenting.”

Providing options is just what Dick Retta, a Washington, D.C., resident interviewed by NPR, said he was trying to do when the Justice Department slapped him with a lawsuit in July. According to the Justice Department, the man violated FACE by blocking a clinic entrance as he asked a patron not to enter before weighing other options.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit are:

“…he stood directly in front of the patient and escorts with his back towards the Clinic entrance.”

“Defendant shouted at the escorts and yelled to the patient, ‘Don’t go in there. Don’t let them kill your baby.'”

“The patient’s ultimate access to the Clinic, and the escorts’ ability to facilitate the patient’s entrance into the Clinic, were rendered unreasonably difficult and hazardous as a result of the obstruction.”

The suit asks that Retta be fined $10,000 and pay three alleged victims that complained about his being at the clinic $5,000; the defendant will also be prohibited from being within 20 feet of the clinic if the ruling falls in favor of the government.

The defendant maintains his innocence, telling NPR: “We don’t block women from coming in. That’s not our policy,” he said. “I teach it. I teach what I’m doing … and I say one thing: Never block the women from going in. Never.”

 

 

Bachmann Ignores New Hampshire

Following Michele Bachmann’s Ames Straw Poll victory in Iowa last month, many of the candidate’s New Hampshire supporters are asking: Where is she?

Politico reported on Thursday that Bachmann’s campaign has put very little effort in campaigning in the Nation’s first Presidential primary state.

Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain and Ron Paul — the rest of the serious contenders for the White House — have all made stops in the State, but Bachmann has not returned since she kicked off her campaign two months ago. Reportedly, a scheduled stop in New Hampshire was cancelled after the candidate’s victory in the Ames Straw Poll.

“Iowa is our main focus right now, secondly is South Carolina,” Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said in an email to Politico. “We do plan to build on our efforts in New Hampshire in due time.”

Former New Hampshire GOP chairman Fergus Cullen wrote a column in the Union Leader last weekend addressing the candidate’s refusal to acknowledge the State as an important political stopover.

“Once New Hampshire voters perceive that a candidate isn’t competing to win the primary, it becomes that much harder to earn support. Local activists are reluctant to sign up with a campaign that seems half-committed. Just ask Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson,” he wrote. “Bachmann is already paying a price for her lack of presence here. Not one of the more than 300 Republican state legislators has publicly endorsed Bachmann. For comparison, Ron Paul has 10 state reps and a senator on board. Mitt Romney’s supporters include three state senators.”

Bachmann has campaigned heavily in Iowa since the Ames Straw Poll, and she has campaigned in Florida and South Carolina this week; meanwhile, New Hampshire residents wait.

“Candidates demonstrate what they think is important by how they use their time. Iowa and South Carolina are important to Bachmann. New Hampshire, not so much,” concluded Cullen in his column.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama Schedules Jobs Speech During GOP Debate

According to CBS News , President Barack Obama’s request to address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7, the same evening a Republican Presidential debate in California is scheduled to take place, has caused many people to speculate that the President did so in an attempt to overshadow the GOP.

“Our nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs,” Obama wrote in a formal letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid requesting to address both chambers, reports CBS News.

Boehner reportedly joked that Congress needs a plan, not more discussion about the economy. The President’s planned jobs speech during the session has been lampooned as the same ongoing rhetoric about unseen job growth that has been promised for more than a year; criticism was heightened after Obama embarked on his “rural economic bus tour” earlier in the month.

White House spokesman Jay Carney reportedly said the GOP debate, “one of many,” was not something the President should have to consider in scheduling a speech and suggested the debate be scheduled later to give candidates an opportunity to respond to Obama’s remarks.

According to The Washington Times, Boehner later responded to the President’s request in a letter suggesting that the address be scheduled for the following day:

…as the Majority Leader announced more than a month ago, the House will not be in session until Wednesday, September 7, with votes at 6:30 that evening. With the significant amount of time—typically more than three hours—that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can be sure that there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might retract from your remarks.

 

 

 

Teaching The Birds And The Bees Along With ABCs

According to Shanghai Daily, a sexual education textbook will be issued to Chinese students in the city following a similar move in Beijing. The textbook, which depicts the sexual organs on illustrated children and images of sexual intercourse between tadpoles, will be issued to first and second grade students.

“Kindergarten children have a vague idea about gender difference,” said Xu Dianfang, an official with the Shanghai Education Commission, in the article. “Local primary schools are required to launch gender education among grade one and grade two students.”

Chinese officials allegedly called for sex education at a very early age because educators in the country reported through studies that many parents did not truthfully answer questions about where babies come from.

Similar movements in the U.S. have been suggested by more liberal-minded educators citing studies such as a 2009 report in the Children and Youth Services Review , which provides evidence of sexual activities among children as young as 8. While most school districts in the country still have control over the method and nature of their sex education programs, with some general mandates in place, organizations such as the Sexuality Information and Education Council have pushed in recent years to add requirements and to ban some forms of sex education altogether (i.e. abstinence-only programs.)

“It is the right moment for our country to pass the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act,” said Monica Rodriguez, president and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States in a March press release. “The focus of government this year needs to be on increasing the health and well-being of our nation’s young people by smartly investing in health education programs that work and eliminating wasteful programs that don’t serve any purpose but to line the pockets of special interests. Eliminating the failed and ineffective Title V abstinence-only programs so we can concentrate on bringing real, comprehensive sexuality education to young people is a good step in achieving these goals.”

Many conservatives in the country argue that sex education should begin at home and be left out of the hands of schools altogether. In October 2010, Texas Governor and 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry turned down $4.4 million in Federal funding for pregnancy prevention programs opting to continue the State-funded abstinence program. Time published an article Wednesday calling Perry’s assertion that abstinence works “weird science” and also calling into question the Governor’s stance of an array of health issues from requiring HPV vaccines for school-aged girls to his support of stem cell research.

 

Obama’s Approval Rating Only 19 Percent

On Wednesday, the newest results from a Rasmussen telephone poll show President Barack Obama’s approval rating at only 19 percent and Congressional approval at only 6 percent, as the public, according to the organization, focuses heavily on the economy.

Related to the dismal economic outlook, another report by Rasmussen that focused on hiring trends found that only 17 percent of those polled — the lowest number this year — reported strong hiring trends in their areas and 24 percent predicted further layoffs from their employers.

The polls also suggest that 62 percent of citizens have little faith in the government to use funds correctly in undertaking government projects aimed at stimulating the economy through infrastructure improvement. Earlier this week Obama appointed Alan Krueger, a proponent of government intervention and project growth as a tool for job implementation, as the head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. According to Bloomberg, Krueger predicted a slow-moving economy over the long term and advocated growth in government spending on infrastructure last July.

“The recovery does just take time,” he said in the July 1 interview. “There are some things the government can do that would also help, like investing in infrastructure. That would help to reduce unemployment among construction workers and could lead to an increase in consumption and possible [sic] raise confidence and would raise productivity in the future.”

While the U.S. national debt hovers around $14.7 trillion, and could nearly double over the next four years if it continues to follow current trends, an article published in The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday, reports that most Americans have simply lost faith in the ability of government to reverse economic trends.

According to the Conference Board’s monthly Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence deteriorated “sharply” this month, bringing consumer confidence to its lowest point in two years.

 

Obama Appoints New Economic Adviser

As the U.S. economy continues to be burdened by high numbers of unemployed, a public debt that has surpassed gross domestic product and economic policy that is dangerously close to causing an inflation crisis, President Barrack Obama has appointed a new economic adviser. Alan B. Krueger, an Ivy League-educated economist, will lead Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) if he is confirmed by the Senate.

“I am pleased to nominate Alan Krueger to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. As one of this country’s leading economists, Alan has been a key voice on a vast array of economic issues for more than two decades,” said Obama in a press release. “Alan understands the difficult challenges our country faces, and I have confidence that he will help us meet those challenges as one of the leaders on my economic team.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Krueger has supported Keynesian policy like massive government spending projects to stimulate economic growth and economic gambles at taxpayer expense.

“What you’re likely to see is, he does believe the federal government can do more to help in this economy,” Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton University economist and former CEA member, said of Krueger. “He will be a voice for more investments.”

Krueger replaces Austan Goolsbee, who announced his resignation in June to return to teaching at the University of Chicago. He will be the third CEA chair of the Obama Administration, after Christina Romer, who returned to academia in 2010, and Goolsbee.

Krueger served as Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury during Obama’s first two years and as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under former President Bill Clinton.

According to reports, Krueger has been involved in many if the government’s ploys to reinvigorate the economy at the expense of already debt-ridden taxpayers. Some of the programs he helped to plan included: “cash for clunkers,” a program that reconciled mortgage loans for certain qualifying homeowners facing default and hiring incentives that have created little job growth.

 

 

 

Ron Paul Again Attacks Obama Foreign Policy

In a statement issued by 2012 GOP contender Representative Ron Paul of Texas earlier this week, Paul attacked the Administration of President Barack Obama for its seemingly expanding imperialistic foreign policy in the Middle East following the announcement of a victory in Libya.

“The Obama administration attacked Libya without a constitutional declaration of war, without congressional authorization, without meaningful consultation with Congress — and without a dollar being authorized from the House or Senate. It was a war started by a president who turned to the United Nations for its authority and ignored the authority of the US Congress,” Paul said in his weekly Texas Straight Talk address.

Paul contends that the ousting of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi — once referred to as the “mad dog” of the Middle East by former President Ronald Reagan — has done little more than offer the country up for grabs by al-Qaida and other militant Islamic groups. Paul referenced the U.S. “victory” in Iraq several years ago as an example of the unintended negative consequences of meddling in Mideast affairs.

“Disturbingly, we see a pattern of relatively secular leaders in the Arab world being targeted for regime change with the resulting power vacuum being filled by much more radical elements,” Paul said. “Iraq, post-Saddam, is certainly far closer to Iran than before the US invasion. Will Libya be any different?”

Iran is are determined to ascertain the rights to nuclear holdings, and Iranian officials say any U.S. and/or NATO intervention in the matter will result in bitter stalemates such as those witnessed in Afghanistan over the past decade.

“[The] nuclear issue is just an excuse for the West to put pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran and if it is resolved, the US and its allies would impose more sanctions against Iran under the pretext of human rights violations,” said Iranian Atomic Energy Director Fereydoun Abbasi in a report from The Islamic Republic News Agency on Monday.

As mainstream media and mainstream Presidential candidates call for tougher sanctions on Iran, the Iranian and Middle Eastern attitude toward Western intervention — as witnessed in the aforementioned quote from Islamic media — is very bitter. Currently, Iran is working with Russia to develop a “step by step” plan regarding the country’s nuclear issue. Though, Iranian officials continue to assert that any agreement must recognize Tehran’s nuclear rights.

As Middle Eastern leaders promise NATO aggressors bitter stalemates, faceless enemies, military occupations that can neither be won nor ended and “economic Jihad,” Paul calls for an end to American interventionism and a focus on national security and economic recovery at home.

“Neo-conservatives continue to dominate our foreign policy, regardless of the administration in power. They do not care that we are bankrupt, as they are too blinded by their desire for empire and their affection for the entangling alliances we have been rightly counseled to avoid,” said the candidate in his statement.

Paul considers Syria to be the next target of the Obama Administration, U.S. neoconservatives and their NATO counterparts:

“They have set their sights next on Syria, where the U.S. moves steadily toward intervention in another domestic conflict that has nothing to do with the U.S.  Already the U.S. president has called for ‘regime change’ in Syria, while adding new sanctions against the Syrian regime. Are U.S. bombers far behind?”

Some people see any military advancement by the U.S. in Syria as a step toward an inevitable military occupation of Iran under the current foreign policy norm, considering the close foreign relations between the countries since the beginnings of the Islamic Republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama Appoints New Economic Adviser

As the U.S. economy continues to be burdened by high numbers of unemployed, a public debt that has surpassed gross domestic product and economic policy that is dangerously close to causing an inflation crisis, President Barrack Obama has appointed a new economic adviser. Alan B. Krueger, an Ivy League-educated economist, will lead Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) if he is confirmed by the Senate.

“I am pleased to nominate Alan Krueger to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. As one of this country’s leading economists, Alan has been a key voice on a vast array of economic issues for more than two decades,” said Obama in a press release. “Alan understands the difficult challenges our country faces, and I have confidence that he will help us meet those challenges as one of the leaders on my economic team.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that Krueger has supported Keynesian policy like massive government spending projects to stimulate economic growth and economic gambles at taxpayer expense.

“What you’re likely to see is, he does believe the federal government can do more to help in this economy,” Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton University economist and former CEA member, said of Krueger. “He will be a voice for more investments.”

Krueger replaces Austan Goolsbee, who announced his resignation in June to return to teaching at the University of Chicago. He will be the third CEA chair of the Obama Administration, after Christina Romer, who returned to academia in 2010, and Goolsbee.

Krueger served as Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of the Treasury during Obama’s first two years and as Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor under former President Bill Clinton.

According to reports, Krueger has been involved in many if the government’s ploys to reinvigorate the economy at the expense of already debt-ridden taxpayers. Some of the programs he helped to plan included: “cash for clunkers,” a program that reconciled mortgage loans for certain qualifying homeowners facing default and hiring incentives that have created little job growth.

 

 

 

Rhetoric About Disaster Abounds

Following the weather and geological events that surprised residents along the East Coast last week and gave mainstream media a topic to inundate the public with for several days, ideas about links between natural phenomena and humanity are surfacing everywhere.

First, former Vice President, current millionaire, filmmaker and amateur climatologist Al Gore (who also claimed in 1999 that he invented the Internet while in Congress) spoke out on climate change last Friday.

While being interviewed by Climate Reality Project collaborator Alex Bogusky, Gore linked climate change denial to blatant racism and ignorance, according to Huffington Post. In discussing why environmentalists must win the conversation about global warming, the activist told a story:

I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me. My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, “Whoa! How gross and evil is that?” My generation asked old people, “Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?” And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.

There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, “Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.” That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.

The former Vice President went on to suggest that industrial agriculture and the consumption of meat is to blame for climate change and natural disaster, according to FOX News.

Then, over the weekend, GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann suggested to a group of about 1,000 people in Sarasota, Fla., that God was addressing politicians directly with Hurricane Irene and the earthquake, reported the St. Petersburg Times.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending,” said Bachmann.

Analysts at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University have also weighed in, claiming that climate change — whether man-made, created by God or just a naturally occurring global phenomenon — increases the likelihood of civil war conflicts in coastal countries, according to the International Business Times. The theory comes from a study recently published in the science journal Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhetoric About Disaster Abounds

Following the weather and geological events that surprised residents along the East Coast last week and gave mainstream media a topic to inundate the public with for several days, ideas about links between natural phenomena and humanity are surfacing everywhere.

First, former Vice President, current millionaire, filmmaker and amateur climatologist Al Gore (who also claimed in 1999 that he invented the Internet while in Congress) spoke out on climate change last Friday.

While being interviewed by Climate Reality Project collaborator Alex Bogusky, Gore linked climate change denial to blatant racism and ignorance, according to Huffington Post. In discussing why environmentalists must win the conversation about global warming, the activist told a story:

I remember, again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me. My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went, “Whoa! How gross and evil is that?” My generation asked old people, “Explain to me again why it is okay to discriminate against people because their skin color is different?” And when they couldn’t really answer that question with integrity, the change really started.

There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, “Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.” That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won.

The former Vice President went on to suggest that industrial agriculture and the consumption of meat is to blame for climate change and natural disaster, according to FOX News.

Then, over the weekend, GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann suggested to a group of about 1,000 people in Sarasota, Fla., that God was addressing politicians directly with Hurricane Irene and the earthquake, reported the St. Petersburg Times.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending,” said Bachmann.

Analysts at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University have also weighed in, claiming that climate change — whether man-made, created by God or just a naturally occurring global phenomenon — increases the likelihood of civil war conflicts in coastal countries, according to the International Business Times. The theory comes from a study recently published in the science journal Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pew: Hurricane Top Media Story, Economy Coverage Minimal

According to a report compiled by Journalism.org, a division of the Pew Research Center, last week’s biggest newsmaker on television was Hurricane Irene, amassing about 30 percent of all coverage. Only about 6 percent of coverage was devoted to the economy. Coverage measured for all media outlets combined put Mideast unrest at the top of the list with about 26 percent of coverage, followed by Hurricane Irene with 21 percent, East Coast earthquakes with 9 percent, the economy with 8 percent, and the 2012 Presidential election with 5 percent of the whole.

The report last week differs from preceding Pew reports that put the economic crises at the top of the list two weeks ago, followed by the 2012 Presidential election, Mideast unrest, the European economy and the immigration debate. Economic coverage, following the debt ceiling mess last month, was the top story at the beginning of the month with nearly half of all coverage being economy related.

ATF Director And Arizona U.S. Attorney Replaced Following Scandal Involving Arming Cartels

The acting director of the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was sacked Tuesday over the ill-fated “Operation Fast and Furious” scandal that led to illegal weapons crossing the United States-Mexican border and the murder of a Border Patrol agent.

Fox News reports that Director Kenneth Melson has been reassigned to a lesser post in the Justice Department and the U.S. attorney for Arizona — where much of the agency’s activity of providing Mexican drug cartels with weapons occurred — was also pushed out Tuesday.

The operation involved ATF agents allowing weapons purchased by straw purchasers to cross the border in order to track them to Mexican drug cartels, ostensibly to help facilitate a crackdown on the cartels. But many of the weapons were lost once they crossed the border and were later linked to crimes both in the U.S. and in Mexico, including the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on Dec. 14, 2010.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones stepped in as director of the ATF on Tuesday, per an announcement by the Department of Justice.

“As a seasoned prosecutor and former military judge advocate, U.S. Attorney Jones is a demonstrated leader who brings a wealth of experience to this position,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a press release.  “I have great confidence that he will be a strong and steady influence guiding ATF in fulfilling its mission of combating violent crime by enforcing federal criminal laws and regulations in the firearms and explosives industries.”

Many people believe the initial goal of Fast and Furious was to create a higher number of unregistered gun crimes in an attempt to require extensive paperwork for firearm related purchases made by law-abiding citizens, according to World Net Daily.

Despite the agency’s attempts to clean up its image in the eyes of the public, a Los Angeles Times story earlier this month reported that three key Fast and Furious supervisors were promoted — or, in the agency’s  language, “laterally transferred” — to positions in Washington.

Federal and Congressional investigations into the program are ongoing.

 

 

 

 

 

Government Intervention Causes Market Volatility

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that current volatility in the stock market is related to constant government manipulation and creation of a false sense of security among investors who are looking forward to more bailouts. A phenomenon, referred to as moral hazard, sparked sharp increases and then sharp drops in stock prices as investors awaited Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Jackson Hole speech on Friday.

Though no immediate third round of quantitative easing (QE3) — or money printing — was announced by Bernanke on Friday, his speech noted that many of the economic problems in the United States are beyond the control of central bank intervention. The chairman also noted subtly that the actions that the central bank has taken will have definite and irreversible effects on the economy in the long term.

“Normally, monetary or fiscal policies aimed primarily at promoting a faster pace of economic recovery in the near term would not be expected to significantly affect the longer-term performance of the economy. However, current circumstances may be an exception to that standard view…” said Bernanke during his speech. “Our economy is suffering today from an extraordinarily high level of long-term unemployment, with nearly half of the unemployed having been out of work for more than six months. Under these unusual circumstances, policies that promote a stronger recovery in the near term may serve longer-term objectives as well.”

Bernanke seemingly advocated political policy that would further grow the number of jobs in the public sector. More government jobs will require the government to take on more debt, and require more quantitative easing, eventually. The liberal view of exciting economic growth through government intervention, the same government intervention that creates market volatility on a daily basis, creates worries among many free-market economists.

The argument against what has been dubbed the broken-window fallacy (i.e. disaster, war, widespread panic, social unrest and things of the like create government jobs) is that this creates an incentive for government to create these problems in order to drive the market. The suggestion of liberal economist Paul Krugman’s Aug.14 suggestion that a fake alien invasion would bring the economy out of its slump is an example of this economic fallacy.

Following the Jackson Hole address last week, economists who have based their economic principles on the Keynesian model have cried for more quantitative easing and more government intervention to create jobs. Krugman is among their ranks.