15 people were killed in Kabul, Afghanistan as a suicide bomber destroyed a foreign convoy. It was apparently not the Taliban but a group with similar aims. And speaking of the Taliban, the article talks about the Taliban’s announcement for a “spring offensive” attacking “target foreign military bases and diplomatic areas.” I just don’t know what to make of it. It seems astounding that besides Afghanistan, the entire middle east is caught up in violence, hostility and warfare. And get this, despite all the killing and violence in Afghanistan, international troops plan to leave by2014 to allow the country to take up its own reigns in security. I don’t think that is such a hot idea. There needs to be stability there first.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the suspects in the Boston marathon bombing wrote a note that the police retrieved after capturing him on the inside of a boat. Apparently, he along with his older brother had bombed the marathon to retaliate against U.S. foreign policy in Muslim nations. In parts of the note he said:
“called the Boston victims collateral damage in the same way Muslims have been in the American-led wars. "When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims," Dzhokhar said he didn't mourn older brother Tamerlan, the other suspect in the bombings, writing that by that point, Tamerlan was a martyr in paradise -- and that he expected to join him there.”
I just don’t see how anyone could do such a thing. American citizens are not responsible for U.S. foreign policy in muslim nations first of all. Second, who is he to think he can take American lives while living in America and getting a college education here. And the incredible thing is that no one would have ever suspected this of him. He appeared to be a normal citizen. So I guess an important question is; who else in American colleges has this same mentality and is just waiting for the right opportunity to strike? We need to be on our guard at all times.
Ten foreigners were captured after their helicopter had to make a forced landing in Eastern Afghanistan. There is known to be a strong Taliban presence there and the Taliban have reported to BBC that they have the foreigners. The ten people consisted of 7 Turks, one Afghan and also two Russian pilots. Turkey is already trying to make negotiations. Apparently, Afghanistan has been a very problematic area as there is an American Sergeant who has been jailed there for four years. These are intolerable injustices that countries need to stand up against and make even bigger steps towards getting rid of. How long must these conflicts go on? Hopefully this situation gets resolved.
Really? We have let other countries own $13 trillion in American securities. Apparently China and Japan own more than $3.4 trillion. And to top that the total value of securities owned foreignly had risen 6.5% in 2012. And the last sentence in the article says that the holdings are getting close to $15 trillion which is the size of the American economy. I think we need to concentrate less with investing and more on producing and getting our own economy back on track. That doesn’t seem to be a priority however as we still have a very high unemployment rate. What is it going to take?
The black boxes that the UK plans to install on the Internet will also spy on Europe and America too!
Jon Smith's insight:
It has been announced that the UK plans to install "black boxes that will spy on the internet (including in America and Europe). They will be able to look at the details of almost everything searched online by citizens. All I can say is that the time is here. The governments are taking control of the internet more and more. It won't be too far in the future that they will know everything about us. Eventually our own government will be spying on us through our smartphones or even make it law. I say that the time is close but it could be 10 or possibly 50 years before this stuff starts really getting in to gear. I just hope I'm wrong and that the internet is left alone and not used as a spying tool. God forbid things as crazy as being charged for the type of things we write one day. What i mean is for eg.- say you might be free to write an article on clothing. But then if you wanted to write an article about the public education system, it would cost you $20 and if you wanted to write an article on how the government has failed economically then you might be restricted or charged hundreds of dollars. I hope things don't get that bad.
The recent spate of better data on initial jobless claims has caused bond yields to rise, stock prices to rally and gold shares to tumble in the last few days. For the 6th time since 2010, an oasis of improving economic data (that has proven to be ephemeral each time in the past) is once again giving investors the false signal of a robust and sustainable recovery. This has in turn caused investors to once again wonder when the Fed would finally stop buying assets from banks and raise interest rates, which have been at zero percent for over four years.
But the data on initial claims has been distorted by seasonal adjustments at the Labor Department. On an adjusted basis, initial jobless claims for the week ending January 19th dropped to 335k, which was the lowest level since January 2008. However, the raw data offers a different take on the labor condition. The unadjusted claims totaled 436,766 in the week ending January 19. That was 20k HIGHER than the 416k claims reported in the comparable week of 2012. The question is, how can initial claims be higher this year than the same week as last year; yet at the same time register the lowest level in 5 years?
Other data on the jobs front confirms the view that the labor market is not improving substantially whatsoever. From the January Empire State Manufacturing Report released last week: "Labor market conditions remained weak, with the indexes for both the number of employees and the average workweek remaining below zero for a fourth month in a row."
And then there is this from the Philly Fed's Manufacturing Survey: "Labor market conditions at reporting firms deteriorated this month. The employment index, at -5.2, fell from -0.2 in December. The percentage of firms reporting decreases in employment (16 percent) exceeded the percentage reporting increases (11 percent). Firms also indicated a decrease in the average workweek compared with last month."
Don't expect a NFP number that is much better than the 150k anticipated by the market. In fact, the odds are better for a significant miss to the downside. ...
There has been better data on initial jobless claims lately. This is not however neccesarily a good thing. The reason is that investors get the false sign from this that the economy is booming. Information has been distorted by the Labor Department. Things are not significantly improving as other data has shown. My opinion is that graphs, data and statistics can be extremely beneficial but should always be looked at with caution. Raw data does not show reasons why and is not a full representation of conditions. I would suggest things such as interviewing random people in the community and ask them how the jobless rate is based on the people they know and its effects on them.
Pope Francis came close to losing his position within the Catholic Church after he criticised his predecessor seven years ago.
In 2005, then Pope Benedict, while quoting from an obscure medieval text, declared that the Prophet Mohammed, founder of the Islamic faith, was "evil and inhuman", enraging the Muslim population and causing attacks on churches throughout the world before an apology was issued. Reacting within days to the statements, speaking through a spokesman to Newsweek Argentina, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio declared his "unhappiness" with the statements, made at the University of Regensburg in Germany, and encouraged many of his subordinates with the Church to do the same. "Pope Benedict's statement don't reflect my own opinions", the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires declared. "These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years". The Vatican reacted quickly, removing one subordinate, Joaquín Piña the Archbishop of Puerto Iguazú from his post within four days of his making similar statements to the Argentine national media, sending a clear statement to Cardinal Bergoglio that he would be next should he choose to persist. Reacting to the threats from Rome, Cardinal Bergoglio cancelled his plans to fly to Rome, choosing to boycott the second synod that Pope Benedict had called during his tenure as pontiff.
"The only thing that didn't happen to Bergoglio was being removed from his post", wrote investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky in his column in left-wing daily newspaper Página/24. "The Vatican was very quick to react,"
Cristina Kirchner, the Argentina president, stated at the time that such diatribes were "dangerous for everyone".
Jon Smith's insight:
The new pope has a very interesting background story. Apparently, pope Benedict had said in 2005, quoting from a medieval text, that Islam was evil and inhuman. The new pope Francis back then a cardinal had said that his views are not reflected in the pope's views. This was after attacks had been made by muslim's on Christian churches. Francis almost got kicked out of the church. I think this entire incident was silly and could've been avoided. Regardless of what anybody believes, the facts are that provoking the muslims in the past has always ended up in American deaths. Yes Jesus does not agree with Islam but wouldn't he concentrate more on trying to bring them to Christianity and be cautious when he does decide to point his finger at Islam? It is fine to speak out against Islam but it is the death sentence to Americans when we insult muslims. We should be kind and caring to them, showing them the light in that way and never in hate.
More than 1,100 former and current Green Berets have put their names to a letter condemning any efforts to restrict gun ownership.
Jon Smith's insight:
Over 1,000 Green Berets have signed a petition letter against restricting gun ownership. This was after the mass shooting in Sandy Hill Elementary School in Newtown, Conneticut. It gave reccomendations for restricting gun violence and said that restricting military style weapons was not one of them. I go by what I heard Shawn Hannity say on the radio yesterday; criminals who want a gun (including specific types and large clips) are going to get them regardless. Why take away people's defense against these criminals? There's just too much of the government trying to control us and fulfill their ideas, good or bad.
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu"s aides have accused Obama of interfering in the Israeli election. This was after a statement of Obama's was published where the president says that Israel "doesn't know what it's best interests are". Apparently Obama also thinks he's a political coward. In my opinion I think it is stupid of Obama to say the quoted statement above. Israel is a very controversial place and is going through a lot of turmoil. It does to a degree need to be left up to Israel itself to work through it's problems. It sounds like Obama just wants to have control. He is also being very hypocritical. Obama doesn't know what the best interests of America are. He thinks he does and will defend his "ideas" to the death regardless of their truth. He will do this so much so that he spews lies and insults people when he should be understanding and negotiatory. I'm not an expert but I'm sure Obama has no basis for his statements. Look at his debates with Romney. He was nasty and rude. I'm pretty sure I saw his pants on fire throughout the debate.
Around November 10, 2012 NYC Airsoft helped with the relief of Hurricane Sandy victims. They have helped many people and are glad they did so. The flooding was devastating in New York City. Even the subway tunnels were filled. The Air softers said that they were just glad to help their city out.
I think these guys are really inspiring. We are always so worried with starving children in Africa that we forget our own people sometimes. That’s how it is with Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans. No one will give them funding to help them get back on their feet. It is good to know with the NYC airsofters that we do have groups that want to help out the people in our own country. United we stand, divided we fall.
Residents of states that refuse to set up health insurance exchanges under Obamacare are set to be hit with higher premiums under new rules announced by the Health and Human Services Department.
Insurance companies will be charged 3.5 percent of any premiums they sell through the federal exchanges, the department announced Friday.
And insurers are likely to pass that surcharge on to clients, leaading to higher premiums.
The only states to be affected are those that refuse to set up their own exchanges because of opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They are almost certain to be those under Republican control. In those states, HHS will set up the exchanges
The regulations also show how the government plans to redistribute money to help insurers with expensive clients stay afloat, as Obamacare provides fees to help companies offset the costs of taking on numerous unhealthy patients. The Obama administration says the process is designed to make sure one insurance company doesn’t get stuck with an unhealthy risk pool.
A good chunk of the states have refused to comply with some of obamacare’s provisions. The count of these states is now at 17. One thing they have been refusing to do is set up health insurance exchanges under obamacare. Now, insurance companies will be charged “3.5 percent of any premiums they sell through the federal exchanges.”
It does not say in the Constitution that everyone has a right to conformed, mediocre healthcare (which is or what Obamacare will inevitably become). What if I have a million dollars and I want to pay for a special surgery that I need that will correct the alignment of my leg (if I actually did need it). Obamacare will say no, you must go to the doctor we tell you. But what if I don’t want to? Well, that sucks for me. It’s the same with the insurance companies. Medical attention should be left to the states with federal interventoion allowed only in the most extreme cases since the Constitution give them that power. It doesn’t matter though, Obama is just going to bully to get what he wants since he is too worried about popularity and doing whatever he pleases. Eventually, the government might even tell us what we should eat and drink. Oh yeah, it already does (that soft drink law in New York).
As most of us know there has been a war going on in Syria for a long time now. The people have rebelled against the corrupt government under Assad. The country is wartorn and you can’t even walk out anywhere without bullets flying past. Now it is said that the jihadists may use chemical warfare to carry out ethic cleansing.
I think this war is terrible and that we should be doing more to help. Ethnic cleansing is wrong. This war has gone on too long without us doing more. The main problem over there is ideology. There’s not enough Christians to spread the love of Jesus Christ.
Among the other messages in the group in which Cobarruvias' tweet appeared were those which "advocated for the murder of NRA president Keene and all NRA members." (RT @WiseUpLibs: always SICK..EN..ING liberals > Houston Dem Precinct Chair: Stop...
Jon Smith's insight:
Just recently on December 16, 2012, John Cobarruvias, the Houston Democrat Precinct Chair tweeted that the NRA and its supporters should be shot. He also likes to mock conservatives and scoff at GOP Tea Baggers. He terms his comments “hard-hitting political commentary”.
I think the children need to grow up and start acting like adults. All politics seems to be now is two brothers bickering. One doesn’t like what the other is doing and tries to take over and do what they want. The only difference is that now we’re dealing with a death threat and for some reason John is not getting his time out (prison). However, the majority blame for electing children to office rests on the shoulders of the ignorant masses. Another example. Why did Obama get in again? Because people want a welfare check and those with common sense have betrayed us by not coming out to vote like a good citizen should. What should America do now? Who knows. Hopefully someone good will be elected to office eventually.
Fueled by high demand and tight inventory, California home sales and prices both experienced strong increases in April, with the median price surpassing the $400,000-mark for the first time in five years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported.
Good news for California’s economy. Housing sales and prices increased dramatically for the month of April. It has been the first time since 2008 that “the median price has surpassed $400,000.” Interest rates for mortgages have dropped from March’s 3.57% to 3.45% for April. I would imply from all of this and other factors that our economy is starting to pick itself back up considering that California has a huge economy and is expensive to live in. We need the momentum that California has to help the nation recover as a whole. I would also imply that unemployment has dropped in California, though I could not say because it doesn’t say in the article.
MONTGOMERY, Alabama --- A bill to create an Alabama Space Authority to develop a spaceport cleared a House committee today after one of the proponents promised to address concerns that the state could go into debt with the project.
The bill's sponsor said the state would not incur debt.
Supporters said the bill is a key step for the state being able to obtain a federal study grant and license to eventually develop a port for commercial space flights.
The House Technology and Research Committee approved the bill, SB378, by Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville. That sends it to the House of Representatives, which could give it final passage.
A new bill to create a spaceport in Montgomery, Alabama just cleared a House Committee. There are conflicting views, saying that the state could go into debt and the other that the state wouldn’t. This would be a great boost to Alabama’s future economy because as the article says, the spaceport would eventually lead to develop a port for commercial space flights. I would say go ahead with the project with one reservation. This country has already been spending tons of money they don’t have. So if Alabama really doesn’t have the money and would risk going into debt, then they shouldn’t do it right now. It’s actually that simple. But apparently that’s not a widely accepted view.
Foreigners in Britain have garnered a fifth of the new jobs on a new rail project of 15 billion pounds. With a broken economy already, this is detrimental to Britain. Joblessness is almost at 2.5 million. I think this contradicts their situation. Priority should be given to the countrymen who need jobs. How can you expect to be successful in the world economically yet not in your own country? This is sure to only make the jobless British more discontented than they already are. Still there is a majority of British working on it currently so it should boost the economy significantly still. Any bit counts.
Okay, when I first saw the title it scared me. The possibility of China, one of the most powerful, advanced and populous nations having stealth drone to spy on us is alarming. It is not confirmed however as this picture is very blurred. Apparently, there was a fake image of a Chinese stealth jet on the internet in 2011 so it could be fake. Either way, the question is not if the Chinese have one, but when? And I think it won’t be too long. This would keep U.S. ships away from the shores of China and bring China closer to aerial supremacy. The U.S. needs to be attentive to China’s moves and look into this more. We need to know if they have drones and what their exact intentions for them would be.
The pope has officially stepped down. He has gone to Castel Gandolfo to rest and try and recuperate from his failing health. This is huge in the catholic church. A pope hasn't stepped down on his own since the medieval ages. Also, he is the first pope to use twitter to communicate to other catholics. I find it amazing all the historical events that have happened since the beginning of this century. Apple and Microsoft have been instrumental in using to computers to change the world so drastically in only a decade. Now the pope is retiring on his own for the first time in over 1,000 years. Even more intriguing is that the pope, part of the catholic church that changes at a very slow rate, actually used a very secular social media network to reach other catholics across the world in a thank you. The times really are changing.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., indicated that Senate Democrats would renege on their promise to pass the first budget in four years if Republicans did not agree to raise taxes in order to avert the automatic spending cuts mandated by sequestration.
Senate Democrats threaten to go back on their promise of passing the first budget in four years. This they plan to do if Republicans don't agree to raise taxes so they can avoid the effects of spending cuts by sequestration. Seriously? Their solution to the cuts that are supposed to make them get in gear is to procrastinate and put a greater burden on the American people? A great idea would be to work together to get this solved and consider the people of America when doing so.
So the White House is closing its doors to the public today. Budget cuts related to the sequester are the blame. The WH tours are closed after a decision by the Secret Service that it could not afford to maintain security.
The author of this article believes that the sequester cuts on Secret Service is a move by Obama to get the public hostile toward Republicans. Apparently the savings over the next seven months will be only $2 million. Truthfullly, the sequester is just due to the fact that our government can't work together cohesively enough. I would think by now that looking back on history and seeing that the fiscal cliff leading up to a sequester has failed to be a deterrent for deciding on a budget, that Congress would get rid of it. But it's still there and still not working. Honestly, we call ourselves the greatest nation in the world and we keep a law that causes us to skimp on the security of our government because they can't agree on a budget? You mine as well say "Look at us. We are so divided that we can't decide on a budget. Our temporary solution will be to make ourselves vulnerable and be self destructive". It makes for the perfect opportunity for attack. So the sequester was a hopeful idea but now that we know it doesn't work, why not get rid of it?
A HOMELESS heroine soldier has been told by a council the best they can offer her is a bed in a night shelter – and then only if temperatures plunge below freezing.
Private Lauren Dobbs, 23, who risked her life as a dog handler detecting explosives in Afghanistan, has been denied a council home despite a pledge by David Cameron.
New guidance issued in 2011 ordered local authorities to put former servicemen and women into the highest priority category for a council house.
A Department for Communities spokesman said: “Councils have a duty to put heroes who want a home in their area at the top of the local waiting list.”
But after Lauren left the Army last November, Bromley Council told her they could not give her a flat or house and that she would only be entitled to stay in a night shelter when temperatures fell below 0C (32F).
Furious Lauren said: “I think it is just ridiculous – I am very annoyed but there is nothing I can do.
“It is completely unfair. I have colleagues in the Army who have had to rejoin, or have not been able to leave, because they have not been homed and have nowhere else to go.”
Lauren was personally thanked by Princess Anne for her service to her country after returning from her tour in Afghanistan last year.
She had served for six years in the Vet Corps handling specially-trained dogs in the front line.
Lauren, who is now studying to be a personal trainer, said her low Army wages had made it impossible for her to save enough money to get onto the housing ladder.
She has been forced to move back in with her mother and step-father and has to share a room with her 15-year-old sister Jessica.
Michelle Lynn, 47, from Biggin Hill, Kent, said: “My daughter’s friends have had their limbs blown off, they have been killed and this is all the council can do.
“It is not good enough. My daughter was fighting for her country. It is disgraceful that they treat someone who fights for their country like this.
“You see extremists and terrorists who are being given houses so where is the fairness in that?
“When soldiers leave the Army they cannot afford a mortgage, their wages are atrocious – what are they supposed to do?”
Last night Bromley Council said it would not discuss individual cases.
But a spokesman added: “We can confirm our approach is to work with a person faced with homelessness and with their families to help prevent this happening.
“We work with a person to establish their circumstances and whether they are priority need under existing Annoyed housing legislation.”
Jon Smith's insight:
Private Lauren who has served six years in Afghanastan working with dogs to detect explosives, while risking her life, is homeless. She has been denied housing and has had to move back in with her family. The housing council said that they could only let her stay in a place if the temperature went below freezing. I am absolutely FURIOUS!!! but not surprised. It is not out of the ordinary for this to happen to someone who risked their life for this country. Is America stupid? How can we send our troops off to war to protect our freedom and then say, "Oh, I'm sorry but we don't have a place for you. The government is too busy wasting away the money on the every wish and desire of interest groups, so you'll have to stay outside right until the point where you're about to freeze." If we're not carefull and keep treating our soldiers worse and worse, then one day no one will want to join the military and we won't have the most powerful military in the world. We may even become in danger of invasion.
President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has devoted an unprecedented number of bureaucrats to finalizing new anti-coal regulations that are set to be released at the end of November, according to a source inside the EPA.
Jon Smith's insight:
The EPA has gone crazy in trying to implement new anti-coal regulations that should which it should have complete by the end of November. It is estimated that the regulations would cost the US economy $700 billion. They have a whole anti-fossil fuel agenda lined up for the next four years.
I agree that one day we should stop using fossil fuels and go to a more efficient energy source. However, it’s not invented or marketable enough yet. I think its crazy what the EPA wants to do. $700 Billion! That will destroy our economy the rest of the way. Now is the time to be worrying about getting the economy back on track, then finding alternate energy sources. The last thing we need is an even worse economy. What are they thinking? This is what was predicted would happen if Obama got in again. Now we just have to wait and see while the politicians play their games.
Pakistan and the United States have restored full military and intelligence ties after relations hit a low point last year, and Islamabad will take further steps to support a nascent Afghan peace process, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Wednesday.
The US and Pakistan, after going through strains on the relationship, have restored military intelligence between each other completely. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar stated that there has been difficult times but now were on a positive track. There had been many incidents including a NATO air raid that had soured the relations. Pakistan also plans on having a closer relation with India, its arch rival.
I think Pakistan is making the right choice in trying to have closer relations with India. It certainly is not the most popular decision but it is best for the country. The last thing we need in the world is more turmoil. We need as many allies as we can get. It is good to know that Pakistan is working with us.
The huge storm that hit Durban last night has left several communities reeling. People's homes have been flooded and some have been washed away.
As always shack dwellers we are more vulnerable to these disasters than most other people. For years we have been trying to engage the eThekwini Municipality around both their failure to take adequate measures to protect shack dwellers from disasters like fire and floods and to offer proper support to shack dwellers after disasters. But the municipality only gives its time for the people for political issues and not ever for issues of development.
December 2, 2012, a storm hit Durban. Proper measures have not been taken by the eThekwini Municipality to protect shack dwellers from floods (they had had a storm years ago). The people claim that they are too involved with politics to have time for them. The people can’t even sleep at night because they are afraid they are going to be washed away. The Municipality plans to step it up in the future on protection but for now they must clean up after the flood.
I’m not sure what America should do here. It would be the right thing to do to help them if we can. Right now however, we have a terrible economy. I don’t think people would be able to spare a dollar for aid or helping the people get back in houses. I do still think charity organizations should try to raise money. They might find it considerably difficult. Actually, if the whole country instead of spending so much on luxury, donated one dollar then there would be more than enough money for them. We need to get ourselves together but help other people at the same time.
In an ongoing dispute, editors have informed American Express that they are contesting charges from the campaign trail. (News outlets contest Romney bill...
Jon Smith's insight:
Apparently, reporters were overcharged for things such as food and hotels as they followed Romney on the campaign trail. Nine news outlets teamed up and sent a letter to former campaign officials disputing the expenses. The letter demands that they receive a price breakdown for every event that costs $200 or more. Even more, the letter states that the campaign staff consumed the food and drinks that were exclusively for the media.
If it turns out that these expenses were really overpriced then I believe that the news outlets are justified in their letter. No meal should cost “$461” even if the media is getting a front row seat to the Romney campaign. I have a feeling that a couple people thought they could get away with overcharging since prices are high already and the prices aren’t released to the news outlets. The reporters need to be reimbursed for any unnecessary cost.