Young Americans Leaving The Country In Record Numbers

A new study shows that more U.S. citizens than ever before are living outside of the United States.

Statistics from the State Department indicate that about 6.4 million Americans are either working or studying overseas, the largest number in history.

Surveys conducted by Gallup of 135 nations outside the United States found that numbers of Americans leaving the country have skyrocketed only in recent years. In the two years before polling began, the number of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 living abroad surged from about 1 percent to more than 5.1 percent.

Among 18 to 24-year-olds, nearly 40 percent say that they would leave the United States if they had the opportunity to find work elsewhere.

Many experts say that the growing trend is the result of college-educated Americans being able to find higher-paying jobs in foreign countries.

Columnist and researcher Bob Adams wrote in a recent piece entitled The Great Escape:

This is a dangerous time for the United States, and not just because of the lingering Great Recession. Young adult Americans are packing their bags and heading out of the country in astonishing numbers. Many more are turning their minds in that direction.

Adams contends that a feeling of hopelessness over the massive debt being left for future generations in America is driving the trend.

Shooter At Large At Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech was locked down Thursday after a police officer was fatally shot during a routine traffic stop on the Blacksburg, Va., campus and a second person was found dead in a nearby parking lot after the gunman fled.

Jermaine Holmes, director of academic support services for student athletes, said the shooting was likely resultant of a traffic stop gone wrong, according to The Washington Post.

“It’s right across from our building in the parking lot,” he said. “It didn’t appear to be just a kind of random shooting.

Officials described a suspect as “white male, gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack” and said he was “on foot towards McComas,” a facility housing health and counseling services. At the time of this article, he was reportedly still at large.

Virginia Tech is home to about 30,000 students, and has one of the most advanced security alert systems of any college in the Nation. The system was installed after the campus shooting in 2007, when student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before committing suicide.

More Americans Than Ever On Food Stamps

More Americans than ever before have applied for Federal food aid over the course of the year.

About 46.3 million people received a total of $75.3 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or what was formerly known as the food stamp program, in fiscal 2011, according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics released earlier in the week. Officials said participation spiked after residents in a dozen States hit by Hurricane Irene applied for assistance in late August and September, according to The Washington Post.

Food stamp use is up about 8 percent, and about $7 billion more in food stamps was distributed this year than in fiscal 2010, according to the report. The USDA said that more than half of food-stamp recipients are children.

In response to the growing use of food stamps, the Federal government said it is developing new procedures to cut down on food-stamp abuse and fraud.

The USDA and its State partners are developing new penalties to punish food-stamp “traffickers” who either steal benefits or misuse them to earn cash payments. Trafficking can account for as much as $753 million of food-stamp payments each year, according to The Washington Post.

According to the article, in fiscal 2010, State governments conducted more than 847,000 investigations that led to the disqualification of 44,483 food-stamp recipients, and Federal investigators with the Food and Nutrition Service conducted nearly 5,000 undercover investigations.

Obama Administration Cuts Off Aid To Countries Unfriendly To Gays

The Administration of President Barack Obama warned the world against gay and lesbian discrimination Tuesday, saying the United States will use foreign assistance as well as diplomacy to back the Administration’s belief that it is a basic human right to be a homosexual.

At the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared the struggle for gay equality to difficult passages toward women’s rights and racial equality, and she said a country’s cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she said. “It should never be a crime to be gay.”

According to The Associated Press, Clinton’s audience included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations where homosexuality is criminalized and where discrimination against homosexuals is tolerated or encouraged.

The announcement that the United States will no longer send foreign aid to countries that do not support gay rights reportedly did not sit well with many of the U.N. leaders, as many of the ambassadors in the audience rushed out of the room as soon as Clinton finished speaking.

Republican Presidential primary candidate Rick Perry has spoken out against Clinton’s announcement, saying in a statement: “Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.”

Florida Lawmakers Allow Guns In Capitol, Install Panic Buttons

Since the Republican-dominated Legislature in Florida made it easier to carry guns in the State’s Capitol, Democrats are noting that every Senator and staffer has now had a panic button installed on his or her phone.

The new law says that local governments may not regulate guns, except in those places specified by Florida law. Although the State bans guns in legislative chambers and committee rooms, they can now be carried in other parts of the Capitol complex located in Tallahassee. Previously, entrants to the complex had been asked to leave their firearms at the door or be followed around the building by a guard.

Mike Haridopolos, the Republican Senate president, said the panic buttons were not a response to the new gun law, but a long-planned feature that was supposedly “just finally getting instituted.” But Democratic legislators in the State say that it is an odd coincidence, according to St. Petersburg Times.

A safety course recently offered to State employees by Capitol Police included an update on the law’s “impact on the Capitol” and “how to respond to an active shooter situation.”

“Instead of reversing what we did, we’re resorting to panic buttons,” said Florida Senate Democratic leader Nan Rich of Weston, who opposed the new gun law. “It’s unnerving. My staff is very nervous.”

Fewer Illegal Border Crossers Reported

Arrests of illegal immigrants along the U.S. border with Mexico are at the lowest level since the 1970s, indicating that fewer people are attempting to cross the border to live or work in the United States.

During the 2011 fiscal year, Border Patrol arrested 327,577 people trying to cross the Southern U.S. border. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials deported a record 396,906 people in the same period. This is the first time in decades that more people were deported than entered the country, according to The Associated Press

The number of arrests of people trying to sneak across the border has been steadily declining since 2006, after an all-time high of more than 1.6 million apprehensions in 2000. Reports indicate that more immigrants now seek citizenship.

“This is all part of a larger picture that we’re not seeing very many new undocumented immigrants coming in, so the share of new undocumented immigrants is smaller,” said Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center. “A lot of people are staying. They’ve put down roots. There clearly hasn’t been a large-scale departure of people who have been here awhile.”

Some officials believe that the lower number of individuals attempting to illegally enter the United States is related to the slow economy and that, if conditions improve, illegal immigration will spike.

Blagojevich Gets 14 Years

Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor who fought for three years against criminal Federal corruption charges, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday.

Among his 18 convictions is the charge that he tried to use his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in exchange for favors.

According to The Associated Press, Blagojevich has received the harshest sentence among the four Illinois governors sent to prison in the past four decades.

While the defense argued that Blagojevich’s schemes had not cost the state a penny, Judge James B. Zagel said the real cost was “the erosion in trust for the government.”

Blagojevich is expected to appeal his conviction, but is ordered to begin serving his sentence on Feb. 16.

“I’m here convicted of crimes. The jury decided that I was guilty and I am accepting of it. I acknowledge it and, of course, am unbelievably sorry for it,” Blagojevich said before his sentence was handed down.

The judge, however, was not moved to be lenient on the former Illinois governor.

“Whatever good things you did for people as governor, and you did some, I am more concerned with the occasions when you wanted to use your powers to do things that were only good for yourself,” said Zagel.

Saudi Religious Leaders: Female Drivers Would Result In Lack Of Virgins

The results of a so-called “scientific” report written by scholars of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, in collaboration with a former King Fahd University professor, said allowing Saudi women to drive would lead to a scarcity of virgins.

The religious scholars, in their report, evaluated the possible impact of repealing the ban in Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world where women are not allowed behind the wheel, reported the FARS News Agency.

The “research” contends that allowing women to drive leads to “moral decline,” saying that in other Muslim countries where women are allowed to drive the decline is already visible. The report also says that the resultant blight of virgins would lead to the proliferation of homosexuality, pornography, prostitution and divorce in the country.

The report was presented to the Shura Council, Saudi Arabia’s legislative body, soon after Shaima Jastaina, a 34-year-old woman was sentenced to 10 lashes after being caught driving.

Paul Says No Way To Trump Debate

Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul says that he will not attend the GOP debate in Iowa to be hosted by Donald Trump on Dec. 27 because he says the reality star’s presence undermines the Nation’s highest office.

“The selection of a reality television personality to host a presidential debate that voters nationwide will be watching is beneath the office of the Presidency and flies in the face of that office’s history and dignity,” read a statement from the campaign. “Mr. Trump’s participation as moderator will distract from questions and answers concerning important issues such as the national economy, crushing federal government debt, the role of the federal government, foreign policy, and the like. To be sure, Mr. Trump’s participation will contribute to an unwanted circus-like atmosphere.”

The statement goes on to say that Trump made a mockery of the Presidency at a time when the Nation needs a strong leader more than ever, by “toying with the serious decision of whether to compete for our Nation’s highest office, a decision he appeared to make frivolous.”

Jon Huntsman has also declined publicly to participate in what his campaign called “Presidential Apprentice.”

Trump responded on TODAY Monday by calling the two “junk candidates” and vowing to run as an independent if he does not like the GOP selection.

Coburn: Gingrich Lacks Leadership Skills

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said on Sunday that he cannot support GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich because the former House speaker lacks leadership skills.

“I am not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s having served under him for four years and experienced his leadership. Because I found it lacking often times [sic],” Coburn said on Fox News. “There’s all kind of leaders, leaders that instill confidence and leaders that are somewhat abrupt, leaders that have one standard for the people that they are leading and a different standard for themselves. I will have difficulty supporting him for president of the United States.”

Coburn, who served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001, said in March that he was looking for a President that would unite the country and raised questions about Gingrich’s confrontational style, according to The Hill.

With less than a month before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Gingrich is drawing 25 percent support from likely Republican caucus-goers, a new Des Moines Register poll reports. He has enjoyed an 18 percentage point jump since the same poll in October.