The debt crises of European Union member-states have reached critical mass. Three of the "PIIGS" nations — Portugal, Ireland, and Greece — and likely the other two — Italy and Spain — are simply too deeply in debt to pay off the principal and interest on national government bonds without massive help from other European nations, specifically Germany. And Germans are increasingly upset at how their government and that of France are attempting to solve the catastrophe. According to Spiegel Online, A poll released Friday indicates Germans know little about the current euro crisis — but are overwhelmingly opposed to the way it is being handled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the two leaders spearheading efforts to solve the crisis. The survey of 1,001 Germans conducted for the public broadcaster ARD by pollster Infratest Dimap found that three-quarters of Germans were either not very confident or not at all confident in Merkel's leadership during the euro crisis. Only 22 percent said they had strong faith in her leadership.
As protests and unrest continue to spread across Syria, Western pressure including sanctions and even open talk of military intervention is mounting against the regime of “President” Bashar Al-Assad. Numerous sources report that NATO is already plotting an invasion as foreign powers covertly arm Syrian rebels. And some analysts believe military intervention against Damascus would merely serve as a prelude to an attack on Iran. Mass demonstrations in Syria, sometimes violent, began in mid-March. Since then, human rights groups and various governments claim thousands of civilians have been killed by security forces trying to put down the unrest. The European Union and the U.S. government already imposed economic sanctions on the Assad dictatorship. More might be on the way as EU officials consider joining the American embargo on Syrian oil imports.  
Officials in China have reportedly been cracking down on the latest trademarked merchandise rip-off in that country: phony Apple stores selling iPads, iPods, iPhones, and other popular “Mac” electronic gadgetry. The Associated Press reported that an American living with her husband in the city of Kunming, in the southern Yunnan province, “stumbled on three shops masquerading as bona fide Apple stores in the city” in July. “She took photos and posted them on her BirdAbroad blog.” A subsequent blog posting includes a YouTube video walk-through of one of the stores to show the effort that was put into making the counterfeit store seem like the real thing. The 27-year-old blogger said the phony stores were so convincing that even the employees appeared to think they were working for the real company. “It looked like an Apple store,” she wrote. “It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue T-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks.” But, she added, “some things were just not right: the stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn’t been painted properly. Apple never writes ‘Apple Store’ on its signs — it just puts up the glowing, iconic fruit.”
Although the Obama administration has made much of the fact that U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it clearly has no intention of leaving that war-ravaged country to its own devices. In fact, plans are afoot to keep as many as 25,000 American troops in Afghanistan for at least a decade longer than the official deadline, according to the Daily Telegraph. “America and Afghanistan are close to signing a strategic pact which would allow thousands of United States troops to remain in the country until at least 2024,” the London newspaper reports. “The agreement would allow not only military trainers to stay to build up the Afghan army and police, but also American special forces soldiers and air power to remain.” Both sides hope to seal the deal by December. Some observers have commented that, in short, the American empire is not about to relinquish control over one of its satrapies. As former Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar observed, “The ‘hidden agenda’ of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan can no longer be disowned. Quite obviously, the U.S. intends to plunge into the ‘great game’ in Central Asia.”
School officials in Lake County, Florida, have reassigned a teacher for posting his religious beliefs on Facebook. Jerry Buell, last year’s teacher of the year at Mount Dora High School, landed in hot water with school authorities because he wrote that “same-sex marriage” is a sin. Buell quoted the Bible to support his words; however, the school system is suggesting he is not entitled to express certain opinions, even on his own time at his own Facebook page. What Happened On July 25, news accounts say, Buell saw a story on television about New York’s approval of homosexual “marriage,” which the Governor, with the help of Republicans, pushed into law. Homosexuals everywhere celebrated with abandon. But not Jerry Buell. According to Todd Starnes, writing at the Fox News radio website, Buell posted the following comments:
A federal appeals court has ruled that the founders of an Idaho charter school may not sue state officials who banned the school from using the Bible and other Christian texts in the classroom. The Associated Press reported that a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling of a lower court against the Nampa Classical Academy (NCA, emblem at left), which the Idaho Public Charter School Commission closed last year, citing financial concerns. According to the Idaho Reporter, the school’s charter “was yanked by the commission because panel members weren’t confident in the financial soundness of the school. NCA parents and officials say that the commission unfairly singled out their school because of its desire to use religious texts, like the Bible, in the classroom.” As reported by the AP: The founders of the charter school tangled with Idaho officials over the use of the Bible and other religious texts shortly after opening in August 2009 with more than 500 students in southwestern Idaho. The academy filed a federal lawsuit against Idaho officials in September 2009.
The Air Force appears to be on an intense crusade to sanitize religious content from its training courses. As reported by The New American, in late July the Air Force suspended a course entitled “Christian Just War Theory” after a group of missile launch officers complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the ethics course included the Bible and other Christian-themed material. Barely three weeks after the original incident, another Air Force instructor forwarded Power Point slides from a second class to the secularist watchdog group, complaining about that course’s Christian content. CNN reported that in a lesson “designed to teach the Air Force’s core values to ROTC cadets, Christian beliefs such as the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Golden Rule are used as examples of ethical values....” According to CNN, an ROTC instructor brought his complaint to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation after seeing a report on the original complaint brought by the missile officers. “I felt extremely uncomfortable briefing some of these slides, deleted them, and added what I felt were more relevant examples,” the anonymous ROTC instructor wrote in an e-mail to the secularist group.
Starting this year, all children in Detroit’s public schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, will receive free breakfast, lunch, and snacks, the school system has announced. Nearly 100,000 schoolchildren will receive the free meals regardless of income, thanks to a program administered by the federal Department of Agriculture. Detroit schools are participating, they say, to eliminate the stigma associated with coming from a low-income household that requires such assistance. Program Details The city school system says “the effort is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Option Program, which will be piloted starting with the 2011-2012 school year.” It adds, "Michigan was one of three states selected to participate in the pilot program. Schools and Districts in Michigan may participate if at least 40 percent of their students are entitled to public assistance."
In today’s extremely unsettled financial climate, one can hardly blame Venezuela or its erratic leader, Hugo Chavez, for deciding to bring home the gold. Oil-rich Venezuela also has the world’s 15th largest gold reserves, most of them squirreled away in Bank of England vaults. Now, Chavez has authorized the return of Venezuela’s gold to Venezuelan soil, fearing that, at some juncture, any overseas assets could be frozen and seized by foreign authorities, as has been done with those of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The clownishly villainous Hugo Chavez has long worn the mantle, once borne by Cuba’s Castro, of America’s official enemy south of the border. His country and regime are now embroiled in a series of international litigations for Venezuela’s nationalizing of certain foreign assets — a Canadian gold mine at Las Cristinas and an American mining operation at Las Brisas, for example. Chavez is obviously worried that Venezuelan gold and liquid assets abroad could be seized and held as collateral. Like the clichéd stopped clock that twice a day reads the correct time, Chavez’ militantly socialist regime appears to be doing a prudent thing, albeit for the wrong motives.
Three years after the release of the remake The Day the Earth Stood Still, a team of American researchers has made the film’s theme a scientific theory: They are suggesting that an alien race might destroy man to stop our release of greenhouse-gas emissions and global warming. Writes Fox News: The thought-provoking scenario is one of many envisaged in a joint study by Penn State and the NASA Planetary Science Division, entitled "Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis." It divides projected close encounters into "neutral," those that cause mankind "unintentional harm" and, more worryingly, those in which aliens do us "intentional harm." While the idea of meeting our end at the green hands of anti-CO2 aliens may be more laugh-provoking than thought-provoking, another scenario in the harmful category is only slightly less amusing.
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