Last December, Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.) sent a letter to President Barack Obama correcting the President’s assertion that “E pluribus unum” — the Latin phrase meaning “from many, one” — was the national motto of the United States in a speech at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A portion of the letter reads:
“E pluribus unum is not our national motto. In 1956, Congress passed and President Eisenhower approved the law establishing ‘In God We Trust’ as the official national motto of the United States. This motto is also referenced in our national anthem and is engraved on our currency.”
The conflict encouraged Forbes to introduce a House bill that would reaffirm that “In God We Trust” is, indeed, the national motto. On Tuesday, the bill was approved 396-9, with two abstentions, according to The Associated Press.
Representative Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the bill a “distraction from the nation’s real problems,” but Forbes said the reaffirmation is a fight against a “growing and disturbing pattern of inaccuracy and omissions regarding the motto” and a protection to the country’s history. He said that the Capitol Visitor Center opened in 2008 was “sanitized of any reference to our nation’s motto” in a government effort to remove any mention of God from public domain.
According to The Hill, Obama ripped lawmakers later in the day for their decision to vote on the measure.
“That’s not putting people back to work,” Obama said during a speech about infrastructure. “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people to work.”
Twelve nurses represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) have sued a hospital operated by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) for requiring them to participate in abortions.
“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist in abortions against their beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “No less than 12 nurses have encountered threats to their jobs at this hospital ever since a policy change required them to participate in the abortions regardless of their religious objections. That is flatly illegal.”
Laws exist at both the Federal and State levels that give medical professionals the right to opt out of participation in abortions. The Federal law prohibits medical facilities that receive Federal funding from requiring employees to participate in the procedures—UMDNJ receives about $60 million in said funding each year, money the nurses are asking the court to revoke.
A September policy change at the hospital that requires same-day surgery nurses to participate in surgical abortions has resulted in threats to the jobs of nurses who have protested on grounds of religious belief. Hospital officials reportedly say UMDNJ has “no regard for religious beliefs.” In October, the hospital began training sessions that actually require assistance in surgical abortion for its nursing staff.
ADF attorneys are asking the court to issue an order that stops abortion training sessions while the lawsuit moves forward. If the order is not granted, the nurses will continue to be scheduled one by one to undergo the training and then to assist abortions on a regular basis.
ADF is involved in a similar lawsuit in New York against the Mount Sinai Medical Center, where a Catholic nurse protested required involvement in abortion procedures last year.
A growing trend in New York City has some parents outsourcing the task of teaching their children social skills.
According to The Wall Street Journal, companies like SocialSklz:-) — a company founded in 2009 to address deteriorating social skills in the age of iPhones, Twitter and Facebook friends — are being used to teach children how to communicate in ways that are not tech-oriented.
Among the skills that children may be taught by the firms are such basics as speaking naturally to other human beings, making phone calls to arrange dates and shaking hands. Another company called Little Givers, the article says, teaches children not only how to share but the principles of philanthropy.
According to the article, the necessity of teaching children how to be social in the real world and not just the tech world is in the numbers. A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year found that children ages 8 to 18 devoted an average of seven hours and 38 minutes to entertainment media each day, and 66 percent owned cellphones that they seldom used to make actual calls but instead for gaming and social networking.
A French satirical publication called Charlie Hebdo was attacked by extremists with a firebomb pre-dawn Wednesday after publishing a cartoon depicting Muhammad saying “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.”
The attackers also hacked the publication’s website to post images of a mosque and the message “no god but Allah,” according to Reuters.
The publication which has published unholy illustrations of the Pope, Jesus Christ and various world religious and political figures has come under attack in the past. In 2006, the magazine published Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad with a bomb in his turban and one of him standing on a cloud, turning suicide bombers away from paradise saying, “Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins.” Islamic groups sued the publication in French court then, but lost.
The French Muslim Council (CFCM) condemned the Wednesday attack, but said the paper needs to cool its tone toward Muslims.
“The CFCM deplores the deeply mocking tone of the newspaper toward Islam and its prophet, but reaffirms with force its total opposition to any act or form of violence,” said a statement issued by the group.
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said that the country will do everything it can to bring those responsible of the “incursion against press freedom” to justice.
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee predicts the economy will grow just 1.6 to 1.7 percent in 2011 and estimates growth to be between 2.5 and 2.9 percent in 2012. Both estimates are lower than expected growth numbers released by the Fed over the summer.
The central bank expects unemployment of between 8.5 and 8.7 percent next year, not the drop in unemployment it had previously expected.
“Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee continues to expect a moderate pace of economic growth over coming quarters and consequently anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate.” The Fed said in a release.
While the most recent information indicates that no immediate action will take place on the part of the Fed to stimulate markets, the option remains on the table in the form of stimulus and lowering interest rates.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that he is dissatisfied with the slow economic growth and that criticism from Republicans, charging that further Fed action will send inflation soaring, was unsubstantiated, according to The Associated Press.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) released its “World of Work Report 2011” in which the organization predicts a growing global jobs recession and more social unrest.
According to information in the report, slow economic recovery has had a dramatic impact on labor markets, and current trends indicate that it will take at least five years to bring global employment levels to where they were before the financial crisis.
Of the 80 million jobs that the report says would need to be created in two years to bring global employment back to pre-crises levels, only half will become a reality.
The report blames the stifled global job growth on three issues: companies weakened by the recession, lack of international policy coordination to facilitate economic recovery and the unwillingness of many companies to take risky expansion measures in the current economy.
One result of the extremely slow economic recovery, the study says, will be increases in instances of worldwide social unrest because of the lack of jobs and anger over perceptions that the burden of the crisis is not being shared fairly.
At a cost of $20 million to the American taxpayer, U.S. officials have decided to create a version of Sesame Street for Pakistan in order to combat growing radicalization in the country.
The television show, which will feature a cast of Pakistani characters, is part of a broader commitment to provide the country $7.5 billion in foreign aid over five years, according to the Associated Press.
The show will feature a female character named Rani, who loves traditional Pakistani music, who is reportedly supposed to teach Pakistani children about sexual equality and the importance of female education in the male-dominated country.
Seventy-eight episodes will be aired in Pakistan’s national language, Urdu, over a three-year span, as well as 13 in each of the four main regional languages, Baluchi, Pashtu, Punjabi and Sindhi. The shows will appear on Pakistan state television.
The show will reportedly appear much like the American Sesame Street, though without Big Bird and other iconic cast members. Each episode will follow a similar format to its Western counterpart, but the Pakistani Sesame Street will reportedly focus much more on Mideastern themes.
The Administration of Barack Obama has added South Carolina to the list of States being sued by the Justice Department for immigration reform laws.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision to target the State in a Monday press release.
“Today’s lawsuit makes clear once again that the Justice Department will not hesitate to challenge a state’s immigration law, as we have in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina, if we find that the law interferes with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration,” read a statement from Holder.
South Carolina officials said that if the Federal government were doing more to handle issues regarding illegal immigration, tough State-level legislation would not be necessary.
According to the release, the Justice Department is still reviewing immigration-related laws that were passed in Utah, Indiana and Georgia. Courts have blocked parts of the Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and Indiana State laws and temporarily restrained enforcement of Utah’s law.
The South Carolina reform required police officers to summon Federal immigration authorities if they suspect an arrested person is an illegal alien. The law also makes it a felony for people to use false identification documents for illegal immigrants, and for people to transport illegal immigrants.
Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Perry gave a speech in New Hampshire last Friday that pundits have described as being at times incoherent, over-the-top and bizarre; and the video is currently making its rounds on YouTube.
A giddy Perry spoke to an influential conservative group called Cornerstone in a flamboyant tone and acted as if he was privy to a secret that the rest of the audience was missing out on. At one point, soliciting campaign contributions, the candidate suggested that donations be made in gold.
“Write your checks. Gold is good, if you’ve got any in the back yard, cause, you know, if they print any more money over there in Washington the gold’s gonna be good,” he said.
Some, like the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, have speculated whether Perry was drunk or drugged during his speech, or if he is unwittingly tiptoeing into Howard Dean “yeahwwwaaa” territory.
Perry also said that he loved the New Hampshire “live free or die” State slogan likening it to the Alamo war cry “victory or death.”
“You know we’re kind of into those slogans, man. It’s like, live free or die victory or death. Bring it!” The candidate shouted.
A Perry spokesman responded to inquiries about the candidate’s performance from the Huffington Post saying, “The Governor is passionate about the issues he talks about.”
The Senate has approved a spending bill to the tune of $182 billion that lays out spending for some government agencies until September of next year.
The bill, which met Senate approval in a vote of 69-30, could also gain momentum in the House and avert a spending battle between lawmakers later this month, according to The Washington Post.
The bill is the compilation of three of the 12 separate appropriations bills that Congress was supposed to have adopted before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, though lawmakers had bought time until Nov. 18 to pass spending measures.
Lawmakers have outlined a plan to ensure that an agreement on spending is reached by the deadline. They hope to reach a quick agreement on the most important spending measures and keep other areas of the government operating under last year’s budget. This will reportedly give lawmakers more time to work out budget details.
Many House Republicans say despite what approach is taken to getting spending bills passed, they will oppose any measures that don’t further cut government. With some of the most expensive areas of government to be discussed, partisan fights are expected.