Playground Politics: Blitzer Bullies Paul While Others Sprint Backward On Issues

CNN’s Tea Party Debate on Monday was less focused on the ideals of limiting government, protecting civil liberties and strengthening State’s rights, and more on giving headliner candidates a forum to highlight neoconservative values. Issues regarding the Federal Reserve, Social Security reform, the economy, immigration, taxes and the role of government came to the table, but the answers were not always clear.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a mainstream media-declared front-runner, took flak from the other 2012 GOP candidates throughout the debate. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, with whom Perry clashed at the debate on Sept. 7, continued to assert that although Texas’ economy remains comfortable under Perry, it can be attributed to good legislation and luck in the past.

“Well, look, I think Governor Perry would agree with me that if you’re dealt four aces that doesn’t make you necessarily a great poker player. And four aces — and the four aces that are terrific aces are the ones the nation should learn from, the ones I described, zero income tax, low regulation, right to work state, oil in the ground and a Republican legislature. Those things are terrific,” said Romney when asked how much credit the Texas Governor deserves for his State’s success.

The Federal Reserve was mentioned several times throughout the debate, and each of the candidates said that something must be done about the institution, but most offered no specifics. Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said he believes the Federal Reserve should be audited and changed to a single charter, meaning it would no longer have the ability to meddle in issues such as job creation, shifting its focus to sound money. Herman Cain, who formerly worked for the Federal Reserve, agreed with Santorum, saying the central bank needed to be audited and “narrowed.” The story remained the same from Representative Michele Bachman of Minnesota. Perry and Romney echoed similar sentiments: Audit and shrink the Federal Reserve. Representative Ron Paul of Texas, who has long been outspoken about his position on the Federal Reserve — he wrote the 2008 book End The Fed — was not asked for a response on the issue.

The debate also offered ample opportunity for the candidates to backtrack on things they supported in the past and to spin the issues to suit their Presidential ambition. A question about when a President should use executive orders brought to light Perry’s mandatory inoculation of a drug provided by a company with which he was affiliated, per executive order as top dog in Texas. He was quick to say that it was a mistake.

“What I’m saying is that it’s wrong for a drug company, because the governor’s former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor, and this is just flat-out wrong. The question is, is it about life, or was it about millions of dollars and potentially billions for a drug company?” said Bachmann, calling Perry out on the issue.

And Santorum asked the audience to consider why, in Texas, it was even necessary for young girls to receive a drug that guards against a sexually transmitted disease unless “Texas has a very progressive way of communicating diseases in their school by way of their curriculum.”

Romney began his own backward sprint when the issue of Obamacare was brought up to debate. President Barack Obama famously modeled the plan after one that Romney himself created for his own State.

“[W]ith regards to Massachusetts care, I’m not running for governor. I’m running for president. And if I’m president, on day one I’ll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. It’s a problem that’s bad law, it’s not constitutional. I’ll get rid of it,” Romney said.

When moderator Wolf Blitzer set his sights on Paul with regard to the candidate’s idea that government has no business in healthcare to begin with, the candidate noted that communities can pick up the slack more effectively than big government ever will.

“Let me ask you this hypothetical question,” Blitzer said. “A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.”

Paul responded that not having health insurance should be his right, though it was an unwise decision, but that the government certainly could not take care of him. Blitzer asked if the candidate was suggesting that “society should just let him die.”

Paul answered using his experience as a young physician in the 1960s when he worked for a hospital alongside church members and charity workers to care for those in need.

“[W]e’ve given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves. Our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it,” Paul said. “The cost [of healthcare] is so high because they dump it on the government, it becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests. It kowtows to the insurance companies and the drug companies, and then on top of that, you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar, we have lack of competition. There’s no competition in medicine. Everybody is protected by licensing. And we should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to practice what they want.”

Bachmann also fielded the question, but steered the issue back to Obamacare; however, she never actually said what might happen to Blitzer’s hypothetical sickly man.

“[T]his is why I’m running for the presidency of the United States, because 2012 is it. This is the election that’s going to decide if we have socialized medicine in this country or not. This is it,” she said.

The debate next took a dive into the immigration debate, although the answers sounded familiar with terms like “strategic fences,” “boots on the ground,” “fewer incentives” and very little else that the public has not heard from so-called conservative candidates in the past. Perry offered a tough stance, saying that he has the most experience dealing with illegal aliens in his home State, although some candidates were less impressed than Perry with his policy.

“Well, I mean, what Governor Perry’s done is he provided in-state tuition for — for illegal immigrants. Maybe that was an attempt to attract the illegal vote — I mean, the Latino voters,” said Santorum. “But you attract Latino voters by talking about the importance of immigration in this country. You talk about the importance of — as — as Newt has talked about for many years, having English as the — as the official language of this country… We’re a melting pot, not a salad bowl. And we need to continue that tradition.”

Perry said that he opposes Obama’s DREAM Act — a program that provides education and “paths to citizenship” for illegal aliens — although his plan is similar.

“In the state of Texas, if you’ve been in the state of Texas for three years, if you’re working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship in the state of Texas, you pay in-state tuition there,” he said in defense of his own immigrant-friendly legislation.

In discussing foreign policy, Paul was booed by the audience when he said that al-Qaida attacked the U.S. on 9/11 because of interventionism on the part of the government.

“As long as this country follows that idea, we’re going to be under a lot of danger. This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this, and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true,” he said. “Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda (sic) have been explicit — they have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment, and you have been bombing…”

Paul was also quick to note that while defense spending is necessary to protect the country, outright interventionist military spending is irresponsible.

“…I would say there’s a lot of room to cut on the military, but not on the defense. You can slash the military spending. We don’t need to be building airplanes that were used in World War II — we’re always fighting the last war,” he said. “But we’re under great threat, because we occupy so many countries. We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke.”

Perhaps the most revealing moment of the debate came at the end, when the candidates were allowed to offer anecdotally what they would bring into the White House if elected. Some candidates focused on the issues; some candidates’ focus was more personal. An abbreviated list of what each of the eight candidates would bring follows:

  • Santorum: an extra bedroom for his seven children
  • Gingrich: an end to White House czars
  • Paul: a bushel of common sense and a course on Austrian economics
  • Perry: his wife, Anita
  • Romney: a bust of Winston Churchill
  • Bachman: copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights
  • Cain: a sense of humor
  • Huntsman: his Harley and his motocross bike

A complete transcript of the debate can be found at

College Degree, Boost Or Bust?

A report recently released by the Institute For Financial Literacy on 2010 consumer bankruptcy demographics found that over the past five years, bankruptcy rates for individuals with college degrees are on the rise.

The study says that while the vast majority of those who file — 70 percent — did not finish college, the number of debtors with college degrees increased by 20 percent over the past half-decade due to a slow-moving economy. The Great Recession has taken a toll on young people across the board; those under the age of 34 are 30 percent more likely to file for bankruptcy protection than they were five years ago. The study also notes that the number of individuals earning more than $60,000 a year who file is up by about 66 percent.

Using a sample of 52,851 individuals seeking bankruptcy as an option for debt reconciliation, the Institute surveyed the following: gender, age, ethnicity, education, personal income, employment, marital status and cause of financial distress.

The Census Bureau released an American Community Survey this month that says “…there is a clear and well-defined relationship between education and earnings” but was careful to mention that there are an indeterminable number of factors that could impact an individual’s earnings. The study considered statistics from the past four decades.

But institutions that once touted college degrees as safety nets for financial success have been, over the past several years, met with dissidence — even from within in many cases — as government aid allows more and more students to attain degrees.

A study done earlier this year by Rutgers University said that only a little more than half of 2006 to 2010 college graduates interviewed were employed full time. Because the number of college graduates able to find work seems to be in step with falling numbers of employment on the wide spectrum many graduates have opted to work on post-graduate studies as they await a better employment outlook.

In December, Richard Vedder, writing for The Chronicle of Higher Education, penned an article entitled “The Great College-Degree Scam.” In his work, Vedder, the director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, essentially concedes that the government push for higher education has saturated the job market and forced more graduate and post graduate degree holders to take jobs for which they are overqualified and/or underpaid.

“…[T]he push to increase the number of college graduates seems horribly misguided from a strict economic/vocational perspective. It is precisely that perspective that is emphasized by those, starting with President Obama, who insist that we need to have more college graduates,” Vedder writes.

The professor also writes that he believes that the degree, having lost its value as a true measure of an individual‘s willingness to struggle in pursuit of knowledge, has become little more than a cheap pre-employment screening device for business, though one that actually costs private sector businesses more than they know.

“…[C]redential inflation arises from a perceived need by individuals to demonstrate potential employment competence through a piece of paper, i.e. a college diploma. Employers are using education as a screening and signaling device, at a low cost directly to them (although not costless because of the taxes they pay to sustain much of this), but at a high cost to the prospective employees and to society as a whole.”

Vedder concludes that, while many institutions and government officials are aware of changing trends and some are simply ignorant of them, they continue to push dated ideas that protect special interests.

“Many of those advocating more access are well meaning and have pure motives, but they are ignorant of the evidence. But higher education is all about facts, knowledge—learning how the world works and disseminating that information to others,” he writes. “Some in higher education KNOW about all of this and are keeping quiet about it because of their own self-interest. We are deceiving our young population to mindlessly pursue college degrees when very often that is advice that is increasingly questionable.”

Vedder’s arguments were based on data collected representative of years between 1992 and 2008.

Evidence from the aforementioned studies demonstrates that data collected in more recent years shows a decline in the value of a college degree as educated job seekers face more competitive markets and are increasingly unable to fend off economic hardship. The Census study, however, focusing on long term trends dating back to the 1970s, determines that while there are unknown factors, college is still the best route to higher earnings.












No Jail Time For Canadian Mother Who Killed Her Newborn Son

A Canadian woman, who in 2005 strangled her newborn child and threw his body over a fence, was not sentenced to jail time by a Canadian Court because there are no laws in the country protecting children in the womb and newborns, according to LifeSiteNews.          

Katrina Effert was found guilty of second-degree murder by two juries, although both times the judgment was thrown out by the appeals court. Last May, the Court of Appeal of Alberta overturned her 2009 murder conviction and replaced it with the lesser charge of infanticide, according to LifeSite.

Canadian Criminal Code says a woman who has not “fully recovered” from the effects of birth can be found guilty of the lesser charge of infanticide if the infant is murdered by the mother while her “mind is disturbed.”

Effert delivered her child secretly in her parents’ home at the age of 19, and strangled the infant to hide the birth. Defense attorneys argued that the young woman was mentally disturbed because she was overwhelmed by the hidden pregnancy, the Alberta Court of Appeals agreed.

Last Friday, Effert got a three-year suspended sentence from Justice Joanne Veit of the Edmonton Court of Queen’s Bench. She was able to walk out of court, although she will have to abide by certain conditions. According to the article, Veit believed Canadians feel compassion for Effert.

“Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant’s death, especially at the hands of the infant’s mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother,” she said.

The judge attributed the country’s lack of abortion legislation as a reason that mothers like Effert take matters into their own hands.

European Economic Crises Compound

The European economic crises continued to compound on Monday with threats of a Greek default coming closer to reality, and European banks holding masses of country debt came under fresh threat.

Markets across Europe are collapsing, fueled by the situation in Greece and rumors that France’s three largest banks — which hold tens of billions of euros worth of Greek debt — may see their ratings cut by a top credit agency this week.

According to The Washington Post, some European banks are trading at bottoms not seen since the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.

The New York Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ fell sharply after the markets opened on Monday with European shares at two-year lows. The biggest issue facing Europeans is the alarming speed at which the economic crisis is unfolding.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 82 points late Monday morning, in a volatile session and the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500-stock index fell six points. By the end of the day Monday, S&P closed at 8 points up and DJIA was up 65 points.

Some experts say that despite European turmoil, markets in the U.S. should remain steady as American investors focus more on problems with their own failing economy. The problems associated with the European crises have been blamed heavily on the inability of the euro to act as a unifying force among the many diverse economies that it represents.

“The euro was conceived to bring a lot of unity to the European markets,” said Randy Bateman, chief investment officer of Huntington Funds to The Wall Street Journal. “[But] they never really built in a fail-safe mechanism. The economies that constitute the European community are just too diverse.”







Pawlenty Endorses Romney Campaign

Prior to the Tea Party Debate Monday night, former GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty, during an appearance on Fox News, endorsed former rival Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination.

“Alone among the contenders, [Romney] possesses the unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament. His abiding faith in our country’s exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom will make him the most important leader in a world that depends upon a strong America to stay at peace,” Pawlenty said.

According to Deseret News, the endorsement comes only months after Pawlenty criticized Romney for passing a health bill in Massachusetts which President Barack Obama said was a model for his own healthcare legislation. Pawlenty called Obama’s plan “Obamneycare” after both Obama and Romney.

After being asked about his sudden change of opinion, Pawlenty said he now believes Romney is dedicated to repealing Obamacare.

Pawlenty also said he believes Romney has better plans for Social Security reform than Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is considered Romney’s biggest rival at this point in the race.

“Gov. Romney wants to fix Social Security. He doesn’t want to abolish it or end it,” Pawlenty said. “Gov. Perry has said in the past that he thought it was ‘failed.'”

Pawlenty is joining the Romney campaign as a national co-chairman but said he would not consider any other positions in the Romney camp.

“I’m not going to consider being VP. I was down that path once before with John McCain,” he said. “That won’t be part of the future for me.”



Major Blackouts In Southwest

A major power outage in the Southwest on Thursday left nearly 6 million people in Arizona and California in the dark, causing travel delays and offering an example of what major metropolitan blackouts look like in the U.S.

Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), Arizona’s largest power producer, blamed the blackout on the error of a single employee which led to the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. A press release from the company explained, however, that other problems developed causing the widespread outage.

“The outage appears to be related to a procedure an APS employee was carrying out in the North Gila substation, which is located northeast of Yuma. Operating and protection protocols typically would have isolated the resulting outage to the Yuma area. The reason that did not occur in this case will be the focal point of the investigation into the event, which already is under way.”

According to a Daily Mail story, FBI officials ruled out terrorism while power plant authorities struggled to find the cause of the outage that started around 4 p.m. local time. Mike Niggli, chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., said a transmitter line between Arizona and California was severed, causing the larger outage. Extreme heat in some areas also may have caused some problems with power lines.

The power outage also caused problems along the U.S./Mexican border as lights went out as far as Tijuana, Mexico. The largest similar example of a large scale blackout took place in the Northeast in 2003, when 50 million people were left without power in areas like New York City. The event led to 11 deaths.

Large scale blackouts in major metropolitan centers should be considered disasters, because they can lead to panic and mass confusion. Dealing with them is aided by survival preparation.

To prepare for these situations, individuals should consider things like having non-perishable food stores because refrigeration units will shut off as will most retail payment systems.

It is also necessary to have ample amounts of water stored in the event that water works grids are rendered unusable. It is also prudent to have extra required medication.

The best defense against outages is a backup generator, but flashlights and radios are also very important. In large blackouts, communication networks may collapse along with the grid. Landline and cellular networks may fail, but short text messages should still get through.

Blackouts may lead to a major spike in criminal activities like looting and robbery, so staying in the home and having weapons for protection is also important.



Obama: Not Class Warfare, Simple Math (In The Billions And Trillions)

In his much-anticipated address to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama plead for another $447 billion in government spending and tax incentives to spark economic recovery for the stalled U.S. economy.

The President, blaming Congress’ quarreling over previous efforts to stimulate the economy for the current state of affairs, prodded Congress to pass his jobs bill “right away.”

“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything,” Obama said.

The Presidential plan is centered on essential “renovation” of infrastructure in the U.S., including roads, bridges, urban recreation centers and at least 35,000 schools, he said. He promised that the jobs bill would not only employ people seeking construction and infrastructure jobs but also teachers. He also said the bill provides tax incentives for companies to hire veterans and individuals who have been out of work for more than six months.

“This is the American Jobs Act. It will lead to new jobs for construction workers, for teachers, for veterans, for first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed. It will provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief to small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle class,” the President said.

To sweeten the deal for Republicans, the President promised to extend tax cuts and to ensure that taxes are not raised; he also promised that the jobs bill will not add to the country’s soaring deficit.

“The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan — a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run,” Obama said.

In his speech, the President continued his “corporate jet owner” ideology as a way to help pay for the jobs act.

“I’m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don’t believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it,” said Obama. “But here is what every American knows: While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets.”

The President proclaimed that his plan was not political grandstanding or class warfare, but simple math — simple math that he is certain produces the right equation for America’s future.

Many Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, found common ground with the President, with little skepticism.

“The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration. We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well. It’s my hope that we can work together to end the uncertainty facing families and small businesses, and create a better environment for long-term economic growth and private-sector job creation,” he said.

Some Republicans, including 2012 GOP candidate Representative Ron Paul of Texas, skipped the speech altogether, opting instead to read the text of the plan.

Satellite Falling: Odds Of Getting Hit Better Than Lightening Strike

A falling NASA satellite has a chance of about 1/3,200 of hitting a person between Alaska and South America over the next month.

NASA said the 35 foot long, 15 foot wide Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere sometime in late September or early October. The 6 1/2 ton satellite will fall over a 500-mile stretch of land someplace between northern Canada and southern South America. Officials say that they will not know for sure where the satellite will land until about two hours before it strikes Earth’s surface, even then, officials say there will be a 6,000 mile margin for error.

“The risk to public safety or property is extremely small, and safety is NASA’s top priority. Since the beginning of the Space Age in the late-1950s, there have been no confirmed reports of an injury resulting from re-entering space objects. Nor is there a record of significant property damage resulting from a satellite re-entry,” NASA said in a press release.

According to a NASA risk assessment, on average, a spacecraft as large as UARS falls back to Earth about once a year. In 2010, a total of 400 pieces of satellites or spent rockets fell to Earth. Most pieces either burned up during re-entry, fell into the ocean or fell over unpopulated areas. UARS is expected to behave similarly as it plummets; though, researchers say, about 1,170 pounds of material from the satellite is expected to reach Earth, the largest of which could weigh nearly 300 pounds. About 26 large objects are expected to survive the fall.

NASA launched the $750 million UARS satellite in 1991 aboard the space shuttle Discovery on a mission to study Earth’s upper atmosphere. It was decommissioned in 2005 and ran out of fuel, beginning its deviation from orbit.

NASA will provide updates weekly until four days before re-entry, then daily until about 24 hours before re-entry, and then at about 12 hours, six hours and two hours before re-entry. The updates will come from the Joint Space Operations Center of U.S. Strategic Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., which works around the clock detecting, identifying and tracking all man-made objects in Earth orbit, including space junk, according to the space agency.




Court Of Appeals Shoots Down Virginia, Liberty University Healthcare Argument

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday in favor of President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul, saying that Virginia has no right to challenge the law’s mandate that requires most Americans to purchase health insurance. The court also shot down Liberty University’s preemptive argument against having to make additional payments for not complying with the healthcare law, according to POLITICO.

Of the Liberty University challenge, the court ruled that the legal challenge had come too soon.

“Because this suit constitutes a pre-enforcement action seeking to restrain the assessment of a tax, the Anti-Injunction Act strips us of jurisdiction. Accordingly, we must vacate the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.”

POLITICO noted that this is the first time that the penalties levied against non-compliers were referred to as a tax. The Anti-Injunction Act requires Americans who want to challenge taxes to first pay the tax and then ask for a refund. The court said Liberty can’t challenge the mandate until 2014. Obama repeatedly claimed the healthcare mandate would not equate to a tax on the middle class, although his lawyers have used the fact that it is to win their argument.

The court ruling in the case of Virginia absolved the Federal government of any wrongdoing in its push to require individual mandates for health insurance.

“When a state brings a suit seeking to protect individuals from a federal statute, it usurps this sovereign prerogative of the federal government and threatens the ‘general supremacy of federal law.’ A state has no interest in the rights of its individual citizens sufficient to justify such an invasion of federal sovereignty.”

Since the rulings focused not on the merits of the law but on the claims against it, Obamacare supporters have gained little in the ruling. And opponents are expected to play down the impact of the rulings, mainly because the judges were all appointed by Democratic Presidents — two by Obama himself.





More Concerns In Libya

As Libyan rebels continue to meet fierce resistance from Moammar Gadhafi’s last remaining stronghold in Tripoli, they suspect they might be close to capturing the former leader and his sons; but the Gadhafi regime continues to fight.

According to The Washington Post, a Gadhafi spokesman contacted The Associated Press this week to announce that the former leader remains safe and “in control” of his country. As the battles continue, news continues to surface around the country’s rebel insurrection, such as reports that the dead bodies of Gadhafi sympathizers and rebels alike piling up due to random acts as the violence continues.

Democracy Now reported on Wednesday that documents recently uncovered by Human Rights Watch reveal that Gadhafi had strong ties to the U.S. Government — most notably the CIA — and was instrumental in helping operatives in the 2004 capture and torture of Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, who is now being backed by the U.S. as military commander of Libyan rebels. These ties may have allowed the former leader to stockpile large quantities of dangerous weapons.   

New concerns about weapon stockpiles that Gadhafi may still control have come to light. The Pentagon said in August that all Libyan weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were secure, but now The Washington Post reports that about 11 tons of mustard gas shipped into the country remain unaccounted for, and rebels believe the gas may be used by the former regime in an effort to end the insurrection.

“It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s not beyond Gadhafi,” said Mohammed Benrasali, a senior member of Libya’s civilian stabilization team.

Gadhafi has used chemical weapons in the past. But in 2003, he agreed to dismantle WMD stockpiles, asking for more favorable Western relations in return; both sides failed to deliver on their promises. The weapons that remain in Gadhafi’s control are a major concern, as are stockpiles that have been taken over by rebels.


Increased Security Expected On 9/11 Anniversary

According to POLITICO , the Pentagon announced earlier this week that it would raise security levels at military installments throughout the country as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches.

The White House said there have been no specific threats of a terrorist attack tied to the anniversary but the Administration of Barack Obama will remain vigilant through the anniversary and beyond. Concerns about the possibility of an attack on the anniversary stem from documents recovered from the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed that mentioned the anniversary of 9/11.

Increased police patrols throughout urban centers in the United States are expected. In addition, more intense scrutiny is planned at airports, train stations, seaports and any areas where large groups may be gathered.

Plans to tamper with an unspecified U.S. rail track so that a train would fall off in a valley or from a bridge were found on handwritten notes pulled from bin Laden’s hideout. Al-Qaida planners noted that if they attacked a train by tilting the track, the plan would succeed only once because the tilting would be spotted the next time. U.S. officials believe that the idea never left the planning stage.

According to The Associated Press, the Obama Administration is more worried about single acts of terrorism in the country.

“The risk that we’re especially concerned over right now is the lone-wolf terrorist, somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide-scale massacres of the sort that we saw in Norway recently,” Obama said in a recent briefing.

In July, a Norwegian man dressed as a police officer and armed with rifles and pistols carried out an hour-long massacre, indiscriminately killing members of a youth camp on Utoya, an island 25 miles from Oslo, Norway’s capital. When he finished, 69 were dead. Nearly half of the victims were under the age of 18. The extremist had earlier set off the bomb in central Oslo, killing eight.


Candidate Showdown Continues In GOP Debate

Center stage at the latest GOP Presidential debate were Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, and playing the “Devil’s Advocate” — as put by MSNBC’s Brian Williams — was Ron Paul.

Most headlines about the event highlighted mainstream media favorites, many focusing on a bitter quarrel that ensued between Romney and Perry during the debate as each attacked the other’s experience and record.

“Actually, what Americans are looking for is someone who can get this country working again. And we put the model in place in the state of Texas. When you look at what we have done over the last decade, we created 1 million jobs in the state of Texas. At the same time, America lost 2.5 million,” said Perry, when asked about how Americans expect jobs to be created.

After the Texas Governor attacked Romney’s job creation record as Massachusetts’ Governor, Romney replied: “States are different. Texas is a great state. Texas has zero income tax. Texas has a right to work state, a Republican legislature, a Republican Supreme Court. Texas has a lot of oil and gas in the ground. Those are wonderful things, but Governor Perry doesn’t believe that he created those things. If he tried to say that, well, it would be like Al Gore saying he invented the Internet.”

Taking a break from swinging at Romney, Perry aimed at Paul in light of a recent political ad calling the Texas Governor a “cheerleader for Al Gore” when the now-outspoken global warming theorist ran in the 1988 Presidential primary. Perry brought into question a letter that Paul wrote announcing his resignation from the Republican Party in 1987 due to Federal excess. In the letter Paul cites Ronald Reagan’s drug policy, the growth of the Internal Revenue Service, foreign interventionism and a growing national debt during that president’s second term as affirmations to suspicions the Texas Congressman had about the Republican Party stepping away from its ideals.

All of the candidates spoke about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, criticizing the previous two Presidents for not outlining a clear exit strategy (although Paul continued to push his familiar “get out now” ideals). However, all of the candidates — except Paul — also said the U.S. must continue to pressure Iran to relinquish any nuclear aspirations.

“The president has not done what he needs to do to keep the United States safe. If you look at the biggest issue in the Middle East, it’s a nuclear Iran, and the president has taken his eyes off that prize,” said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who appears hell-bent on ending Iran’s nuclear program.

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania also condemned any notion of an American isolationist stance: “Well, we’re in the Reagan Library, and I’m hearing from at least a couple of people on this panel a very isolationist view of where the Republican Party should be headed about pulling troops out with Governor [Jon] Huntsman and with Ron Paul. The bottom line is, Ronald Reagan was committed to America being a force for good around the world. We were a society that believed in ourselves and believed that we can spread our vision to the rest of the world and make this country a safer country as a result of it. We didn’t have missions where we put exit strategies saying this date is when we’re going to leave. We didn’t say that we are the problem and the cause of the problems that confront us around the world. We were — we are a source for good. We could have been a source for good from the very get-go in Libya, but this president was indecisive and confused from the very beginning. He only went along with the Libyan mission because the United Nations told him to, which is something that… Ronald Reagan would have melted like the old Wicked Witch of the West before he would have allowed that to happen.”

When it came to taxes, Herman Cain offered his 9-9-9 deal. Cain’s proposal essentially represents a “flat tax” situation that would impose an income tax of 9 percent on both individuals and businesses and do away with payroll tax altogether; the plan also calls for a national 9 percent sales tax.

“The government needs to get out of the business of trying to figure out who gets a tax break here, who gets a tax break there. When you go to 9-9-9, it levels the playing field for all businesses. What a novel idea. And the government won’t be in the business of trying to determine who’s going to be able to make more money and pay no taxes and vice versa,” Cain said. “Secondly, this recession is the worst recession since the Great Depression. If the recovery that this administration claims would just tie for last place, we would have another 6 million jobs. If it would tie for the recovery that took place in the ’80s under President Reagan, we’d have 12 million more jobs out there, which would be music to the ears of the 14 million people looking for jobs. The president simply does not understand that the business sector is the engine for economic growth.”

Williams, the MSNBC moderator, seemed very determined to bring to light Paul’s distrust of the Federal government to handle America’s problems (as if the candidate has not already been very vocal), from suggesting that the candidate advocates plane crashes because of his insistence that the airline industry could be completely privatized to noting Paul’s dislike of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the moderator seemed to mock the Congressman. To end the debate, Williams asked Paul if he was in favor of doing away with government programs that provide free lunches to needy schoolchildren. Paul rebutted that if States were interested in providing such lunches, they would always be in a better position — in unison with charitable organizations — than the Federal government to do so.

“[D]on’t always try to turn around and say that we who believe in liberty, we lack compassion, because we who believe in liberty and understand the market, we’re the only ones that really understand how people are taken care of, how they are fed, and how people have jobs. It’s the market. It’s never the government that does it,” said the candidate.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich took offense with the tactics of questioning earlier in the debate, and described what the entire 2012 GOP election really appears to represent at its very core.

“I, for one, and I hope all of my friends up here, are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama, who deserves to be defeated. And all of us are committed as a team.  Whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama,” he said.



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.”