Nate Silver’s article in the New York Times on President Obama’s reelection chances looked carefully at three major influences that could determine the outcome in November of 2012 and concluded that the President is a slight underdog: “It is early, and almost no matter what, the election will be a losable one for the Republicans. But Obama’s position is tenuous enough that it might not be a winnable one for him.” A skilled forecaster, Silver looked at three major factors that he thinks will influence the election: approval ratings, the economy, and the President’s opponent’s ideology. At the moment the President’s negative approval ratings across the spectrum of pollsters doesn’t concern him, and he thinks that even if the economy dips further as many are increasingly predicting, the electorate is suffering from bad news “fatigue,” and more bad news won’t really count for much. When it gets to ideology, however, it is clear that if the President’s opponent can make a strong case against him, then the election is over and the President will lose. 
The inherent political and economic instability of our present time has been the subject of many books, some of which are marketed as fiction, while others are presented as nonfiction. As is often the case in times of civilizational crisis, the authors of fiction may actually have a more realistic understanding of the actual "facts on the ground" — and the substantial causes of a civilization’s woes — than is presented by the self-described political elite in their purportedly factual writings. Thus, for example, historians may wear themselves out debating the historical accuracy of speeches recorded by Herodotus or Thucydides — what actually matters the most, to the modern reader, is that such speeches present him with an opportunity to reflect upon the Permanent Things.  
A bipartisan coalition in Congress is going after a European Union scheme to impose carbon taxes on Americans flying to and from Europe, overwhelmingly approving a bill to stop the “illegal” tax. The EU’s CO2 regime is so unpopular that governments around the world and even the United Nations have also asked the bloc to back down. The European carbon plan would force all airlines flying to or from Europe — regardless of where they took off or their destination — to participate in the EU’s “Emissions Trading System.” Due to begin in January of next year, the scheme means each flight would have to acquire so-called “carbon credits” to offset the CO2 released during flight.  
Economist Gary Shilling’s claim that the U.S. economy is on the edge of deflation defies the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recent announcement that inflation is high and increasing. The one form of deflation that the Federal Reserve is most concerned about, according to Shilling, is that the general price level will experience sharp declines which will turn into a self-perpetuating downward spiral as buyers delay making purchases in the hopes of paying even lower prices in the future. But there are six other forms of deflation, and five of them “are already in place in the United States,” say Shilling.  
On Monday, a number of media outlets predicted that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s next quarterly report on Iran's nuclear potential (set to come out this week) would set the stage for a preemptive attack on that country. Experts indicated that the document would reveal the so-called “smoking gun” that would justify a war against Iran. Leaked portions of the report, however, reveal no such information, instead focusing on seemingly idle observations and speculation.  
Days  after news broke of Herman Cain’s alleged cases of sexual harassment, new updates continue to flood news outlets. The story began by revealing that during Cain’s tenure as president of the National Restaurant Association, he was accused of sexual harassment by two women. Following that story, however, other women came forward to make similar accusations against the GOP presidential contender. The latest woman to make such an accusation is Sharon Bialek, who is the first to voice her allegations publicly.  
In what is becoming a crucial battle in the war being waged by an ever-expanding federal authority against the sovereignty of the states, Alabama has been instructed to heed the voice of the power on the Potomac. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the Attorney General of Alabama, Luther Strange, instructing him that despite the position taken in his earlier correspondence to the department, the DOJ has authority to conduct investigations into possible violations of the civil rights of immigrants. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, the author of the DOJ missive, was responding to a letter from Strange penned earlier in the week. In that letter, Strange demanded that the federal department inform him as to the authority granted to it to require schools in Alabama to report demographic enrollment data to the DOJ.    
An elementary school field trip to the Wisconsin State Capitol got out hand when the teacher allowed his fourth-grade students to participate in a protest against embattled Governor Scott Walker, the current target of the state’s public school teachers’ unions. A video of the incident, obtained by a Milwaukee Fox News affiliate, shows students clapping along while protesters sing a modified version of the Woody Guthrie folk song, “This Land Is Your Land,” with a verse that includes the incendiary line, “Scott Walker will never push us out, this house was made for you and me.”
After being slapped with a $2.4-million bill by the Beijing tax bureau, Chinese artist and political dissident Ai Weiwei could be charged with illegal fundraising. Ai disclosed to the public his hefty tax bill only last week, and since then nearly 20,000 people have donated more than 5.3 million yuan ($840,000) to help the artist pay an enormous sum of back taxes and fines. The Global Times, a state-run Chinese newspaper, castigated Ai’s funding measures and suggested that using the contributions to pay back the government "could be an example of illegal fundraising." The newspaper also attempted to downplay Ai’s support from the Chinese people. "It is absolutely normal for a certain number of people to show their support for him with donations. But these people are an extremely small number when compared with China's total population," the newspaper’s commentary read. "Ai's political preference along with his supporters' cannot stand for the mainstream public, which is opposed to radical and confrontational political stances."
Communist China has long been seeking to increase its influence over the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, whether through economic, industrial, diplomatic, or militaristic means, as part of its gambit for geopolitical dominance. Part of this overall mission has been the establishment of formal ties with various African nations, most of them impoverished and home to petty dictators, such as the beleaguered nation of Zambia, where concerns have been raised that China is engaged in widespread human rights abuses against Zambian copper mine workers, according to a report released last week from Human Rights Watch. In a 122-page report, " 'You'll Be Fired If You Refuse': Labor Abuses in Zambia's Chinese State-owned Copper Mines," the international rights watchdog said that despite improvements in recent years, safety and labor conditions at Chinese-owned mines are worse than at other foreign-owned mines, and Chinese mine managers often violate government regulations in their treatment of Zambian workers. These violations include poor health and safety conditions, regular 12-hour and even 18-hour shifts involving arduous labor, and anti-union activities, all in violation of Zambia’s national laws or international labor standards. The four Chinese-run copper mining companies in Zambia are subsidiaries of China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation, a state-owned enterprise under the authority of China’s highest executive body. Copper mining is the lifeblood of the Zambian economy, contributing nearly 75 percent of the country’s exports and two-thirds of the central government revenue.
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