Who Are The Real Job Creators?

So just who are the real job creators? The answer to that might surprise you, but first things first.

Contemporary usage has twisted the meaning of the term “job creator” into a full-fledged misnomer; there really is no such thing. You see, in a literal sense, jobs are not created. Unlike productive people who actually create things, it’s absurd to think of a so-called “job creator” sitting down at his desk somewhere, scheming how to best create jobs by hiring people. Besides putting the proverbial cart before the horse, it just doesn’t happen that way in the real world.

For a few years now, the mainstream media have been bloviating non-stop about unemployment and “job creation,” and I’ve wanted to illustrate how nonsensical and overused this grade-school bromide has become. Because of the general public’s preference for simple-minded language and easy-to-understand answers to complicated economic issues, the term is just one of many that have been reshaped into Orwellian doubletalk, especially by politicians. Naturally, most con artists prefer to use these “tools of the trade” to help keep their constituents confused, bewildered and dumbed down. But it’s even worse than that. I often hear many free-market advocates using these same mind-numbing clichés when arguing their case.

Lately, politicians and media pundits have been fostering a storybook fantasy about how some very smart people (George Soros/Warren Buffett types come to mind) are feverishly working around the clock, stamping out newly created job schemes designed to help out the needy, downtrodden masses. And amazingly, many of the economically naïve seem to buy into this notion. Obviously, it’s pure crap.

Most people understand that government doesn’t “create jobs” in the private sector… and that goes for businesses, too. What’s that? You heard me: Private enterprises don’t “create jobs” either. In a free country the “market” creates jobs. Therefore, and contrary to modern-day Keynesian claptrap, the act of hiring someone does not qualify you as “job creator.” Employing people, whether briefly or for the long term, is simply a means to an end and a way of satisfying your desire and the market’s demand for more labor. Jobs readily come into existence if there is demand for them by those who need them. So we finally have the answer to just who the “real job-creator” is. It’s Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.”

Now, if you still feel the need to bestow the title of “job creator” on somebody, then it should go to those who seldom get recognized or even care: customers. Do you ever wonder why you hear businesspeople say things like “the customer is always right,” “our customers come first” or “the customer is king”? “Customers” (aka “consumers” — another co-opted and overused cliché) are the real driving force behind the demand and need for additional workers. Hence, it’s more appropriate to give them credit. And if you concede that point, then you have to admit that everyone’s a job creator: you, me and the kid next door, for that matter (he likes stuff, too). But don’t look for a headline in next month’s issue of TIME or Newsweek announcing “We’re all Job Creators Now!” (though that’s not a terrible idea).

One of the many false and idiotic portrayals put forth by liberals is that businesses’ main concern should be some societal obligation and responsibility to hire employees — the more, the better — for the good of all. Business owners certainly provide an atmosphere that allows the employment process to occur; so, yes, they deserve some credit. But they never hire anyone based on benevolent ideals or a fiduciary duty to do so. Unfortunately, many businesspeople help perpetuate this lunacy by saying things like, “Look, I have a business; I’m a job creator.” Nonsense! You might as well call your local news reporter next time you need your lawn mowed: “Quick, come to my house and watch me create a job; I’m hiring my neighbor’s kid.” Statements like these show economic ignorance and a shameful penchant for public pandering. Like most human endeavors, employers hire people for one prominent reason: They benefit from it.

Some may now be asking the inevitable question, “Can’t government help the employment situation by passing new laws?” The answer to that is an emphatic “no.” Despite its supposed good intentions, government should not try to artificially force the unemployment rate down because every action it takes only interferes and disrupts the economy, thereby increasing unemployment. The right thing for government to do is simply get the heck out of the way. Repealing all of its job-killing legislation enacted over the years is the only real positive action it can take, and for me that starts with the repeal of the Wagner Act of 1935.

Finally, please do yourself a favor and quit using those phony convoluted terms created by liberals, statists and lowlifes in the MSM. It only gives them the home-field advantage.

Stephan Foli

Agenda 21 And Executive Orders

As of July 26, President Barack Obama has issued 133 executive orders. The definition of the executive order (EO) is: “noun. (often initial capital letters) an order having the force of law issued by the President of the U.S. to the army, navy, or other part of the executive branch of the government.” Some of the 133 EOs relate to, or aim at, the implementation of Agenda 21.

Per Wikipedia: “Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regards to sustainable development. It is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels. The ‘21’ in Agenda 21 refers to the 21st century. It has been affirmed and modified at subsequent UN conferences.”

President George H.W. Bush signed the agreement in 1992; the total number of signers was 178. In 1995, Presi­dent Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12858 to create the President’s Council on Sustainable Develop­ment in order to harmonize U.S. environmental policy with U.N. directives as outlined in Agenda 21.

According to its authors, the objective of sustainable development is to integrate economic, social and environmental policies in order to achieve reduced consumption, social equity and the preservation and restoration of biodiversity. Sustainability advocates insist that every societal decision be based on environmental impact, focusing on three components: global land use, global education, and global population control and reduction. Social equity (social justice) is described as the right and opportunity of all people “to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment.”

The objectives are lofty. At the first reading, the titles of the different chapters and subsections are appealing. But there is a Constitutional problem. According to eco-logic, “Agenda 21 has never been debated or adopted by the Congress of the United States. Nevertheless, it is being vigorously implemented by the administrative agencies of the federal government, and by other nations around the world. More than 150 nations, including the United States of America, are participants in the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). America’s participation is not the result of an international treaty, ratified by Congress. America’s participation is the result of George Bush [41] signing Agenda 21 at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio [de Janeiro].”  

JR Nyquist quotes Wikipedia as stating: “Within the executive branch of the U.S. government, President H.W. Bush, President Clinton, and President Obama have all signed executive orders that broadly support the tenets of Agenda 21 but do not make reference to Agenda 21 by name.”

Some of the objectives of the Agenda 21 are against American traditions and even laws. Redistribution of wealth, if it is forced from above, violates the principle of protection of private property. Another tenet is the need to substantially reduce the world population; one overzealous estimate mentions by 85 percent. Those two requirements aim at “enhancing” the sustainability and equitable sharing the global wealth among all nations.

The obvious questions are:

  • Who will decide what is an equitable share for a resident in the United States versus one in Bangladesh or Sweden?
  • Who is going to decide how many people each country must abort or exterminate to reach their allotment of the world population quota?
  • How will progress toward these goals be assured?

The experiences of my childhood and youth spent in Nazi and Communist dictatorships have taught me that Agenda 21 is not achievable, short of a harsh dictatorship. For example, even repeating the Holocaust by killing another 6 million people would reduce the present global population by less than 0.1 percent. Redistribution of wealth is equal to make all equally poor.

The paths leading to Agenda 21 are the economy, the environment and education. The pursuit of each has produced some recent detrimental results, like turning down the Keystone pipeline project, refusing to implement the economic recommendations of the bipartisan “supercommittee” and the continuous dumbing down of the educational requirements.

The objectives of Agenda 21 appear to first promote local (national) dictatorships, culminating in a global dictatorship.

In human history many rulers have tried the latter, from the Chinese emperors and the pharaohs to the various 20th century dictators. Not one was able to establish a lasting legacy. Agenda 21, just like the Com­munist nirvana, is totally incompatible with human nature.

–Tom Pattantyus

The Age Of GAVEAD

In my new book, The Entrepreneur: The Way Back for the U.S. Economy, I pose the question: When the lessons of history so clearly demonstrate that redistribution of wealth always ends badly for a nation, what could possibly motivate so many people to ignore such evidence?

I believe the answer is to be found in an acronym I like to refer to as GAVEAD (guilt, arrogance, victimization, envy, anger, demonization). These negative character flaws are powerful human failings that cause people to place their desire for wealth without work above moral considerations.

At its worst, GAVEAD manifests itself in bloody revolutions, such as the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 and Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the Batista regime in Cuba in 1959. I know of no place or time in history when GAVEAD-inspired revolutions achieved a better, freer life for anyone who was not part of the ruling elite.

Although all GAVEAD is harmful, the GAVEAD trait that most annoys me is guilt. Guilt is a mental condition often found in wealthy people (particularly on the East and West Coasts of the United States), most — but not all — of whom did not acquire their fortunes through their own efforts.

The Kennedys and Rockefellers are good examples of guilt-ridden heirs to fortunes. Even today, the descendants of Joseph P. Kennedy and John D. Rockefeller are among the biggest advocates of wealth redistribution. And the most visible guilt-ridden Rockefeller of all is Jay Rockefeller, long-time progressive Senator from West Virginia.

From a psychological standpoint, it’s not hard to understand why someone who has been able to live in luxury all his life without ever having to do any real work would be inclined toward feelings of guilt. The problem is that the guilt feelings of those who have inherited great wealth often produce a desire in them to redistribute your wealth to those whom they deem to be in need.

From Bobby Kennedy to Teddy Kennedy, and now in some of their most vile progeny, we see this phenomenon play out again and again. Because these people have no idea what it’s like to start and run a business, meet a payroll and fight to keep afloat despite excessive government taxation and regulation, it is understandable that they cannot relate to the entrepreneur.

But it’s not just those who inherited their wealth who are afflicted with guilt. Guilt is also prevalent in those who have come into a lot of money quickly, again without having to do any real work. If you’re thinking Hollywood, you’re on the right track.

The main reason so many actors talk as though they have tapioca between their ears is that they have acquired enormous wealth by doing nothing more than excelling at pretending to be someone else while in front of a movie camera.

What is not as easy to understand is how some people who have actually built great fortunes through entrepreneurship — through creativity and hard work — end up feeling guilty about their wealth. In this category, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner and Bill Gates come to mind.

I think we can safely give much of the credit for making the super rich feel guilty to the far-left media that no longer report the news, but instead work, using subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) ploys, to champion anticapitalist causes.

In his book White Guilt, Shelby Steele takes the guilt issue one step further by explaining that Americans are hopelessly trapped by the need to feel guilty for the sins of their fathers. Any person of color — not just black, but Arab, Latino, Asian or other — must be coddled and handed the keys to the country (or, at the very least, to the university of his or her choice). If you don’t agree, you are likely to be scorned by your friends and acquaintances and accused of lacking compassion.

A “Kinder, Gentler Nation”

If you have any doubts about how powerful media-induced guilt can be, think back on what happened as soon as Ronald Reagan left office. His successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, immediately started blathering about change, thereby beating Barack Obama to the punch by some 20 years.

When I say immediately, I’m talking about President Bush’s inauguration address. That was when he first made an appeal for Americans to join in an effort to create a “kinder, gentler nation” — a catchphrase that the media gleefully jumped on.

Never mind the fact that nations can be neither kind nor gentle. Only people can be kind or gentle — as well as nasty or harsh. But by implying that Americans were not kind and gentle, Bush also implied that they needed politicians to help them be so.

The biggest problem in this regard is that for decades Republicans have allowed their Democratic pals to make up the rules of the game. Their mantra has long been: “We must show Democrats we are reasonable, civil people who are willing to ‘reach across the aisle’ and ‘compromise.’” In other words, their desire for popularity trumps morality.

Finally, in 2001, with the country still reeling from Father George’s kinder, gentler nation talk, along came Son George, who, immediately after taking office, started blathering about a weird abstraction he called “compassionate conservatism.” RINOs seem to have an uncontrollable propensity toward guilt — and financial suicide.

Of course, there’s some pragmatism involved here as well. Most conservative politicians believe that the only way they can get elected to office, and re-elected, is to prove they are compassionate. But the term compassionate conservatism wrongly implies that true conservatism is not compassionate.

On the contrary, the term compassionate conservatism is a redundancy, because true conservatism (which, as Ronald Reagan pointed out, has libertarian principles at its heart) is compassionate.

America doesn’t need another Democratic Party. The one it has is already bankrupting and enslaving us. What it needs is a party that will stand up for freedom, and that would be possible only if its members would refuse to give in to the “G” word in GAVEAD.

The Entrepreneur

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–Robert Ringer

An Open Appeal To Occupy Wall Street

I can certainly empathize with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. While ex-Goldman guy/U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, fellow ex-Goldman guy/New York Fed President Tim Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke worked diligently to use taxpayer money to bail out Goldman Sachs and some other 1 percenters, the rest of us were dealing with layoffs, foreclosures and bankruptcies — with no bailouts in sight, just more circular rhetoric and broken promises.

In the midst of all this has emerged a war cry directed against capitalism itself. It is here that I feel some of my fellow 99 percenters may have been misled and have thus misdirected their fiery and very justified frustration.

It is not free-market capitalism itself that has betrayed us, but rather the cronyism and mercantilism that pervades Washington, D.C. In a private letter to Col. Mandell House written in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt admitted: “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson—and I am not wholly excepting the Administration of W[oodrow] W[ilson].”

In a truly capitalist country, where the government neither favors nor disfavors particular business interests, highly leveraged risk-takers like Goldman Sachs would have failed in 2008 along with Lehman Brothers, to be replaced by more scrupulous and prudent firms. Unfortunately, however, as FDR noted in 1933, the powers in Washington are beholden to the influence of certain special business interests — special in the sense that they are wealthy, entrenched and organized. And they have a system: the two-party system.

From the very first day in office, the typical politician is thinking about re-election. This costs money — a lot of money. As we have repeatedly witnessed, the politician who spends the most money almost always wins. Where do politicians go to get money? To those who have the money, of course: the top 1 percent, through their corporations, trusts, foundations and Super PACs.

For these individuals, capitalism works perfectly. Politicians have power but need money to get elected and stay elected, and the top 1 percent have money but need the (use of) politicians’ power to further their own (usually corporate) interests.

The obvious problem here is this: You and I aren’t getting any of the money or any of the power. In fact, they’re taking our money through taxation and stealing our purchasing power through inflation.

This is not capitalism; this is mercantilism.

We often hold the naïve assumption that capitalism and other forms of government are mutually exclusive, but this is not so. Indeed, modern-day China has taught us that this is incontrovertibly false. China, as the world’s second-largest economy with bustling capitalism at almost every level of society, is run by a group of communist families who themselves profit immensely from this false ideology, thus the need for constant censorship.

At the risk of sounding “un-American,” is it not also true that our own socio-economic system is a hybrid somewhat similar to this? But instead of communism at the top, our uniquely American model of economics is a hybrid of capitalism at most levels with mercantilism reigning among the very top echelons.

The cycle of money from these elitists — through their lobbyists, corporations, foundations, and Super-Pacs to politicians on both sides of the aisle, back to these elitists through the state mechanism — is mercantilism, and anathema to free-market capitalism.

What’s worse, attacks on capitalism itself play right into their hands. A disposal of capitalism means a transition to something else, something worse. A sharing, loving world where everyone plays by the rules sounds great on campus; but the outside world just doesn’t play by the rules. Is more government regulation — more favoritism — going to help our plight?

What is needed is to sever the cycle of money from the elitists to the politicians, and thus regain ownership over our representatives’ power. That’s easier said than done.

So, again, I implore my fellow 99 percenters to stop the attacks against capitalism and redirect that energy where it belongs: toward cronyism and mercantilism. You can start by moving your tents from Wall Street in New York to K Street in Washington. That’s where they keep the “paid” lobbyists, your true representatives in Washington.

It’s not capitalism that has failed us, but we who have failed capitalism.

–J. Kevin Meaders

Shakespeare And History

A few months ago, a public library rejected my free talk about William Shakespeare. The talk was based on my newly published book, Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth About Shakespeare and His Works (2011). It is a history book, filled with contemporary facts about Shakespeare with more than 600 footnotes.

Was my talk rejected because people are no longer interested in a man who wrote plays more than 400 years ago? No, that can’t be the case because people continue to attend Shakespeare festivals all over the United States. And new Shakespeare biographies are published every year and people are buying them. And Stratford-upon-Avon, the supposed birthplace of Shakespeare, is still the second or third most popular town visited by tourists in England. No, Shakespeare is as popular as he ever was.

So why would this public library reject my free historical talk, complete with slides? A library representative told me over the phone that my talk would offend a staff member at the nearby Shakespeare theater. I wasn’t allowed to know this person’s name. I was also denied the simple courtesy of getting this in writing, after making several requests.

How odd that a theater company’s staff member could block a public library event! Why should his or her opinion about a Shakespeare history book matter?

But, alas, this is not an unusual reaction. Theater personnel and English professors often get testy whenever the Shakespeare authorship question is brought up, which is the theme of my book. They routinely ridicule those who justly declare that there is no evidence that the Stratford Man was a writer during his lifetime.

Apparently, it doesn’t bother them that only scant posthumous evidence connects the Stratford Man with the great author. They also don’t seem to care that the Stratford Man never claimed he was the great author, and that his family and descendants didn’t either. And when he died in 1616, no one noted it, even though the Shakespeare plays and poems were highly regarded and extremely popular.

What are the facts about Shakespeare’s literary career? Two hundred years of scholarship has turned up nothing. Did Shakespeare leave behind one letter or anything in his handwriting? No, yet letters from many now obscure Elizabethan writers do survive.

My simple explanation for these blanks is that “William Shakespeare” was someone’s pen name. I say this because many contemporaries implied, in print, that the name was an alias and that the great author was a nobleman. These are the documented facts that I lay out in my book. And the great author openly described himself as a highly ranked courtier in his sonnets and in his little-known poem “A Lover’s Complaint.”

Furthermore, the Shakespeare plays reveal someone who was super-educated in rhetoric, classical languages, history, medicine, music, plants, the aristocracy and more. He knew warfare and sea fare, and he certainly traveled throughout Italy. But there is no accounting of how he acquired any of this knowledge or experience.

Mark Twain found the Stratford Man’s case for authorship impossible. What convinced him was Shakespeare’s in-depth knowledge of the law. How could someone who supposedly never attended law school know obscure legal terms? Several former and current Supreme Court justices also doubt the Stratford Man was the great author.

Despite this, the public is mostly unaware that there is an authorship controversy, thanks to biased gatekeepers in universities and theaters. They also don’t know that most Shakespeare biographies are comprised of 95 percent fiction due to this lack of relevant documentary information. Evidently, the so-called Shakespeare experts prefer to maintain the status quo rather than be bothered by the truth.

–Katherine Chiljan

Virginia, We Love You!

Virginia has been my home for 55 years: the mountains of the Southwest, the beaches of the Southeast and Northern Virginia where I raised the family.

Driving along the highways and enjoying the beauty always brings a rush of joy and thankfulness!

The family has lived on land once owned by George Washington and near land owned by George Mason’s family. Mount Vernon was just “down the parkway” from the family home of 36 years. But my sense of pride in Virginia has never been greater than today, because the Virginia Legislature and Governor Bob McDonnell have worked together to protect the State from the juggernaut of tyranny unleashed on America with the National Defense Authorization Act (sections 1021 and 1022.)

The new law, to take effect on July 1, states:

“Prevents any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a United States citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”

Delegate Bob Marshall from Manassas wrote HB 1160 and shepherded it through the process. Bless him!

It took much prayer and work, and there’s no doubt that jigs are being danced in heaven.

The 10th Amendment Center has been educating and encouraging Americans to be active in Constitutional advocacy. This author (soon to be 80 years old) spent much time in prayer, phone calls and email communication with legislators and with the Governor’s office. Many others have done the same. Let’s celebrate now and encourage all other American States to follow our example.

“We’ve only just begun” can be a motto for us.

There’s a long way yet to go, but we’ve got momentum now and, after all, we believe along with Winston Churchill: “Never give in–never, never, never, never!”

–Raylyn Terrell

The GOP Is Committing Suicide

The GOP is committing suicide and setting the stage for a third party run.

The Republicans are in the process of committing suicide, and we very well may witness their funeral this coming November.

The GOP has only one contender that could beat Barack Obama this fall, but it would rather throw the match and allow Obama the second term — which he needs to finish off the Constitution once and for all — than to allow a real patriot a shot at the White House, because they know that if Ron Paul gets elected it could spell big trouble for all those who are corrupted and committing treasonous and or criminal acts. These are very dangerous times.

Few people are willing to vote for “out of touch” Mitt Romney, “the overly religious” Rick “the Pope” Santorum or “the perfected and polished politician” Newt Gingrich. Why? Because all of these GOP candidates have failed to listen to, let alone heed, the wishes of the people and are not seen as being as much different or better from the Democrats. And that means that the masses will stay at home out of apathy or helplessness, glued to the sports channel, and the savvier folks will start preparing themselves for the inevitable end of America.

Paul, on the other hand, would inspire the masses to get out and vote. And he would receive votes from all of the parties, including the GOP folks that can’t stand the so called front-runners, the dissatisfied with Obama Democrats, the libertarians, the independents and a good share of the Tea Party. Namely, all those who prefer freedom to tyranny.

I am beginning to expect Paul will be running as either the libertarian or an independent if he doesn’t secure a brokered deal with the GOP and, given the political climate of the day, this could now be the very ripe time for a third party candidate to win. The GOP had better wake up, or else it will be all over for the party and our country.

Paul would now be the nominee if the media had done its job. Let’s hope that somehow something good happens, or else it is all over but the crying.

–Lyle Brunckhorst

Afghan Lawmakers Demand That Civilian Shooting Suspect Be Tried In Country

Afghan lawmakers expressed anger Thursday over the move by the U.S. to fly an American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians out of the country to nearby Kuwait, noting that Kabul should not sign a strategic partnership agreement with Washington unless the alleged perpetrator faces justice in Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, negotiations over the agreement, which would govern the presence of the U.S. military in Afghanistan after most combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014, were tense, even prior to the shootings.

The U.S. military said that the soldier’s transfer out of the country did not preclude the possibility of trying the case in Afghanistan, but this did not appease many Afghan leaders.

“It was the demand of the families of the martyrs of this incident, the people of Kandahar and the people of Afghanistan to try him publicly in Afghanistan,” Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, a Kandahar lawmaker who is part of a parliamentary commission investigating the shootings, said in a statement.

CNN reported that Afghans took to the streets of one city Thursday to demand the prosecution of the U.S. soldier in the country, and one lawmaker accused the Americans of showing “a fake video…to convince the Afghan people that it was the act of only one soldier.”

U.S. Unemployment Claims Drop

The number of Americans claiming new jobless benefits fell back to a four-year low last week, Reuters reported. The total number of individuals filing for unemployment dropped to a seasonally adjusted 351,000.

According to the news outlet, initial claims for State unemployment benefits dropped by 14,000 last week.

The four-week moving average for new claims, considered by some experts to be a better indicator of labor market trends, was unchanged at 355,750.

The Associated Press reported applications have leveled off in the past few weeks after falling for a period of six months. The average for the number of filings has dropped 14 percent since October 2011.

According to the news outlet, the steady decline has coincided with the top three months of hiring in the past two years. From December through February, employers have created an average of 245,000 jobs per month.

The AP reported that when the number of benefit applications drop below 375,000 for consecutive weeks, it usually is a signal that hiring is strong enough to lower the overall unemployment rate.

Cameron, Obama Meet To Discuss State Of World Affairs

President Barack Obama is welcoming British Prime Minister David Cameron to the White House with all of the pomp of a State visit as the allies stress their unity in dealing with conflicts around the globe, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the two leaders met to discuss the strategy that the U.S. will employ in East Asia, as Obama sought to reassure Cameron that a joint approach would be used at a formal White House dinner.

The AP reported that the serious talks follow a more relaxed day in which Obama and Cameron flew to Dayton, Ohio, to watch an NCAA tournament college basketball game – a new experience for the Prime Minister.

The two leaders will discuss the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits on Wednesday, along with the situation in Afghanistan, the Middle East and China.

USA Today reported that the two leaders joked about the relationship between the two countries, as this year represents the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. After a ceremonial playing of both nations’ national anthems, Cameron and Obama went in to the White House to discuss the issues facing the countries.

Panetta Arrives In Afghanistan After Shooting Rampage

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on an unannounced 28-hour visit to speak with American troops and officials from the country regarding the state of operations following the alleged shooting of 16 civilians by a U.S. soldier, Fox News reported.

According to the news outlet, Panetta is the first high ranking official from the U.S. to visit the country since the incident, which drew shock, dismay and outrage from the Afghan people and the American and Afghan government.

Fox News reported that the soldier, whose name is being withheld until charges are filed, reportedly walked off the U.S. base in the Kandahar province, where he was stationed for just six weeks. He then allegedly entered homes in a nearby village, shooting people while they slept.

“I gave (Afghan) President (Hamid) Karzai my assurances that we will bring those responsible to justice,” Panetta said in a statement Sunday, as he called Karzai prior to making the trip. “We will spare no effort in getting the facts as quickly as possible, and we will hold any perpetrator who is responsible for this violence fully accountable under the law.”

The New York Times reported that Panetta arrived and told the troops that the rampage that occurred on Sunday would not change the President Barack Obama Administration’s plans to withdraw 23,000 American troops from the country by the end of the summer and the remaining 68,000 by the end of 2014.

One Dead Following Militant Response To Alleged U.S. Soldier Killing Spree

Taliban militants opened fire on an Afghan government delegation visiting one of the two villages in the southern part of the country, a response to the alleged killings of 16 civilians in Afghanistan by a U.S. soldier, Fox News reported.

The gunfire killed an Afghan soldier who was part of the security detail for the delegation, said General Abdul Razaq, the police chief for the province where the visit occurred. Another soldier from Afghanistan and a military prosecutor were injured in the attack.

According to Fox News, the attack in the Balandi village came as the Taliban vowed to kill and behead the responsible parties for the 16 Afghan civilians who were killed only days before.

One of President Hamid Karzai’s brothers was nearby holding a funeral service for the victims when the shooting started.

“We were giving them our condolences, then we heard two very, very light shots,” said Karzai. “Then we assumed that it was the national army that started to fire in the air.”

Reuters reported that the most recent events led to calls to accelerate a 2014 goal for the exit of the majority of foreign combat troops in the war-torn country.

Justice Department Halts Voter ID Requirement Push In Texas

The Justice Department blocked Texas’ new voter-identification law on March 12, arguing that it targets the State’s Hispanic population, igniting another battle between President Barack Obama’s Administration and a Republican-led State, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Texas is the second State to have its voter-ID law rejected by the Department of Justice, which has prevented the local governments from enacting legislation to combat both illegal immigration and voter fraud.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said he was using the Federal government’s power under the Voting Rights Act to block the Texas law. He outlined how Hispanics may be twice as other constituents to lack the right kind of identification to vote.

“Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card issued by [the state’s Department of Public Safety], and that disparity is statistically significant,” he said in a six-page letter to Texas officials.

Bloomberg reported that Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke to the move by the Obama Administration as another instance of its “continuing and pervasive overreach.”

Taliban Vows Revenge Against U.S. After Alleged Civilian Killings

The Taliban are vowing revenge against the U.S. after an American soldier allegedly fired on and killed 16 Afghan civilians on March 11, Fox News reported. In a statement on their website, the militant group said they would “take revenge from the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr.”

According to the news outlet, the Taliban also claimed that “American savages” committed the alleged crime.

“If the perpetrators of this massacre were in fact mentally ill then this testifies to yet another moral transgression by the American military because they are arming lunatics in Afghanistan who turn their weapons against the defenseless Afghans without giving a second thought,” the statement said.

Fox News reported that Afghan officials noted that nine of the 16 bodies that were found were children and three were women. Some of the corpses were said to have been charred.

The Associated Press reported that senior U.S. officials were scrambling to determine what caused the American soldier to leave his base in the southern section of the country and allegedly commit the horrific crime. One source noted that the combatant was believed to have acted alone and returned to the base to turn himself in.

Source Notes Obama Planning Trip To Korean DMZ

U.S. President Barack Obama is likely to visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea later this month, said the Yonhap News Agency, citing a diplomatic source in Seoul.

NewsCore reported that the President will visit South Korea for the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, and is expected to tour the DMZ prior to leaving. This would mark the first visit to the infamous region by Obama.

According to the news outlet, Obama’s expected trip to the DMZ comes just weeks after the U.S. and North Korea both announced that the Asian country had “agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and nuclear activities at [the North’s major nuclear facility] Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities.”

NewsCore reported that the North Korean government also agreed to inspections by members of the International Atomic Energy Agency to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities.

The Agence France-Presse reported that the White House proposed the DMZ visit to showcase the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance and to address a message to the regime of North Korea.

Oldest Animal With A Skeleton Found

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (UPI) — Paleontologists say they’ve discovered fossils of the oldest animal with a skeleton, between 560 million and 550 years old, in South Australia.

The age of Coronacollina acula places it in a time known as the Ediacaran Period, named after the Ediacara Hills of South Australia, ranging from 630-542 million years ago, before the explosion of life and diversification of organisms that took place on Earth in the following Cambrian period from 542 million to 488 million years ago, they said.

“Up until the Cambrian, it was understood that animals were soft bodied and had no hard parts,” Mary Droser, a geology professor at the University of California, Riverside, who led the team making the discovery, said.

“But we now have an organism with individual skeletal body parts that appears before the Cambrian. It is therefore the oldest animal with hard parts, and it has a number of them — they would have been structural supports — essentially holding it up. This is a major innovation for animals.”

Apart from its hard parts, it is constructed in the same way that Cambrian sponges were constructed, she said in a university release Friday.

“It therefore provides a link between the two time intervals,” Droser said. “We’re calling it the ‘harbinger of Cambrian constructional morphology,’ which is to say it’s a precursor of organisms seen in the Cambrian. This is tremendously exciting because it is the first appearance of one of the major novelties of animal evolution.”

The finding suggest the initiation of skeletons was not as sudden in the Cambrian as was thought, and that older Ediacaran animals are part of the evolutionary lineage of animals as we know them today, she said.

Senate Backs Obama In Rejection Of Keystone Pipeline

Democratic Senators voted to ratify President Barack Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipelines, leaving the oil project in limbo and ensuring that it will remain a political issue in the near future, The Washington Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Obama personally lobbied Democrats to support his decision, and reaped the rewards when 42 of these Senators sided with him in opposition of the pipeline – enough lawmakers to sustain a filibuster against a GOP-led effort to undo the President’s rejection.

“The Democrat-controlled Senate just turned its back on job creation and energy independence,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a response to the move. “President Obama’s personal pleas to wavering senators may have tipped the balance against this legislation. When it comes to delays over Keystone, anyone looking for a culprit should now look no further than the Oval Office.”

The Chicago Tribune reported that Republicans are eager to showcase Obama’s decision to withhold approval of the Canada-to-Gulf-Coast pipeline as proof that the Administration is not doing enough to increase the Nation’s energy supplies and generate jobs.

Oil Industry, GOP Call For More Domestic Gas Production To Curb Prices

Congressional Republicans and oil industry executives called for more U.S. gas production to counter rising prices that have been recorded across the country, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, Democrats have focused on conservation and the role of Wall Street speculators in driving up prices. Jack N. Gerard, chief executive officer of the American Petroleum Institute, told a House energy panel that the U.S. has a significant amount of resources that are not being tapped to their full potential.

The AP reported that Gerard noted President Barack Obama, who called for an “all-of-the-above” energy approach, has threatened the oil and gas industry with billions of dollars in tax increases.

“Mr. Chairman, this is sending the wrong message to the global markets. This needs to change,” Gerard told the panel.

The New York Times reported that the current average price for regular-grade gasoline is $3.74 in the U.S., and recent forecasts have outlined how this could rise to $4.50 in places like California. Some analysts have speculated that the price may hit $5 a gallon.

Justice Department Threatens Tech Giant Over Alleged E-Book Price Increases

The Justice Department has warned Apple Inc. and five of the biggest U.S. publishers that it plans to sue them for allegedly working together to raise the price of electronic books, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

According to the news outlet, several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case and head off a court battle that could be potentially damaging for the companies. If the Justice Department is successful, such a settlement could have wide-ranging repercussions for the industry.

The Journal reported that this may eventually lead to cheaper e-books for consumers. The five publishers facing a potential suit are CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc.; Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group; Pearson PLC’s Penguin Group; Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers Inc., a unit of News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal and NewsCore.

BBC News reported that the issue has flared up because electronic books are sold according to a different formula than the one that is used to govern the sale of physical books.

Senate Comes To Agreement On Transportation Overhaul

Democratic and Republican leaders reached a deal that clears the way for a Senate vote on passage of a $109 billion bill to overhaul Federal transit and highway programs, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the agreement limits the number of amendments to be voted upon to 30, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) noted that after a day of deliberations, the vote could occur in the coming days.

The AP reported that Reid plans to immediately send the bill over to the House, where leaders from the GOP have been struggling to corral enough votes to pass their own five-year bill.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned rank-and-file Republicans that if they do not act quickly to pass their own bill, he will bring the Senate bill to the House floor for a vote.

The Hill reported that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that she was thrilled to hear Boehner could put the chamber’s version of the legislation up for a vote in the House.

“I love it,” Boxer said of Boehner’s statement. “The fact is this is a proven bipartisan bill.”