While the debate over the raising, lowering, or demolishing the debt ceiling is new(ish), the fact that the federal government’s financial house is in disorder is a situation that has existed for over a century. The last few Presidents (of both parties), in collusion with an all too compliant Congress (regardless of which party was in the majority), have spent money on a scheme of government expansion that would drive any nation into the abyss of fiscal desolation in which America now finds itself. For example, Democrats, whether in the White House or on Capitol Hill, zealously protect their core bloc of voters by throwing themselves in front of any legislative attack on any of the myriad entitlement programs that assure their electoral success and support.   Republicans, on the other hand, are equally vigilant in their watch over the corporate welfare that lines the pockets of their big oil, big bank, military industrial complex-connected cronies. Some of this money, they rightly assume, will find its way into their own campaign coffer, thus perpetuating the cycle of deceit and destruction.  
Wall Street professionals' expectations are modest over Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s highly anticipated remarks at the Jackson Hole symposium this Friday. Unlike last year when the chairman announced the start of his program to purchase government securities in order to keep the economy from slipping into a recession and possibly deflation, known as Quantitative Easing II (QE2), his options now are much more limited. The anticipated bounce in the economy has fizzled, inflation is increasing, the banks are stuffed full of reserves but few are borrowing, and interest rates are already at zero and are expected to remain there well into 2013. What can he say and, more importantly, what can he do? Jim O’Sullivan with MF Global suggested: “We are not forecasting more easing,” while Tom Porcelli of RBC Capital Markets confirmed, “We expect news out of Jackson Hole will be more about getting a feel for the Fed’s opinion on its easing options.” Analysts at Barclays Capital are expecting Bernanke to “reiterate that the Fed predicts growth to accelerate,” while Capital Economics thinks that he “will probably emphasize that the Fed has the tools to boost the economy if deemed appropriate.” In other words, there will be a lot of words, but little expected in the way of change. Which is probably very smart in light of the hole the Fed has dug itself in trying to stimulate the economy. As noted in Barrons magazine, Alan Abelson wrote,
The "Ron Paul Revolution" is political kryptonite for the liberal mainstream media, despite Rep. Paul’s noteworthy gains in public opinion polls and polished performances during the GOP presidential debates. In the early parts of the 2012 presidential race, the freedom-touting constitutionalist has fallen victim to an American media that picks its political winners and losers. But for how long? Following the Ames straw poll, where GOP Texas Congressman Paul procured a virtual first-place tie with Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the media barely yawned at his unexpected second-place showing. Indeed, Tim Pawlenty’s post-Ames departure stirred more media coverage than Paul’s near-victory. Politico.com published an article with the following headline: "Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll, Tim Pawlenty gets third." Many observers noted that such a laughable headline breeds the inevitable question: Who placed second? As reported by The New American last week, Paul’s second-place trophy in the Ames straw poll drew sparse media attention:
For all its posturing about cutting spending, the Obama administration seems to have little difficulty finding cash to reward its friends in the environmental movement. Solar energy, despite its limited usefulness, has been subsidized with hundreds of millions of dollars of federal grants and loans, including some to companies in India. Similarly, reports CNSNews.com, the administration has handed out $112 million over the past two years to protect the Sage Grouse, yet the bird itself exists in such numbers that the Department of the Interior has refused to list it as either threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the USDA would dedicate $21.8 million to pay eligible ranchers and farmers in the state of Wyoming to encourage conservation practices that preserve the numbers of Sage Grouse,” CNSNews.com writes. “That will bring to $112 million the total amount that the USDA has distributed over the last two years to eligible farmers and ranchers in 11 states as part of its Sage Grouse Initiative.”  
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sketching out a regulatory blueprint designed to control pollution levels from coal-fired power plants, and lying under the torrent of new regulations will be mercury, smog, water intake, coal ash, and greenhouse gases. Over the next 18 months, the EPA will put forth efforts to curb mercury emissions, place limits on smog-forming compounds like sulfur-dioxide, enact new rules for coal-ash waste, and implement new standards to contain greenhouse-gas emissions from oil refineries and power plants. "This year is going to be critical for paving a pathway for reducing carbon-dioxide pollution because of those EPA rules," suggested Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress. "Assuming, that is, they’re not stopped." Industry leaders and congressional members note that the EPA’s new regulations will mount a heavy toll on the coal industry, because they will force coal-fired power plants to install costly new renovations — or, in many cases, shut down altogether.
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:
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