The National Governors Association Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 15-17, was a smashing success — at least from the viewpoint of China's Communist Party officials and its state-controlled mega-corporations. A major component of this year's annual NGA confab was the first-ever U.S.-China Governors Forum, which brought the U.S. governors together with four of their Chinese counterparts, the governors of Zhejiang, Anhui, Yunnan, and Qinghai  provinces. Leading the official Chinese delegation was Zhao Hongzhu, Communist Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province. Secretary Hongzhu told China Daily that the summit exchange was "direct, practical and effective." According to China Daily, billions of dollars in trade deals were signed:
When Standard and Poor’s moved up their timeframe for a downgrade on U.S. sovereign debt from three to five years to just 90 days, Dave Beers, Director of the Sovereign Debt Division explained that the rating of U.S. debt is not on the verge of falling because the debt ceiling debate in Congress hasn't been resolved: The debt ceiling is not the central preoccupation that we have. We put the United States on credit watch because we’re growing less certain that this political debate can be resolved. This was not merely about the debt ceiling. The problem with the U.S. is that there is no strategy. There is a debate about what the strategy would be. But there’s nothing close to a consensus.
With the landing last week of America’s last space shuttle, the nation stands at a critical point in the history of space exploration. For some, the last flight of Atlantis — a mission officially designated as STS-135, was “bittersweet,” as one writer termed it. The landing of Atlantis may presage a difficult era in the “Space Age,” or it may herald the beginning of the end of the government’s virtual monopoly on mankind’s exploration of the heavens. As reported previously for The New American, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has been marked by significant controversy regarding both the future of his agency, and the future of manned space flight. The Obama administration quickly killed George Bush’s “Constellation” program, which had set a return to the Moon and an eventual mission to Mars as part of U.S. space policy. However, NASA’s new, Obama-era goals quickly put the Moon and Mars back on the timetable — but pushed them farther away. Meanwhile, NASA’s budget remains fundamentally stable, despite the end of a shuttle program which had previously consumed a substantial portion of the budget. As Mike Wall recently wrote in an article for Space.com:
In an effort to save taxpayer dollars, South Carolina lawmakers are considering the possibility of eliminating the position of Lieutenant Governor. The proposal comes as the state's Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard is in the midst of an ethics investigation for misuse of campaign funds. According to two South Carolina legislators, eliminating the position could save taxpayers $1 million a year. Democratic Senate Minority Leader John Land noted that the position had political power at one time, as the Lieutenant Governor once was responsible for appointing Senate members of conference committees. But since the Senate took that power from the Lieutenant Governor, Land asserted, “That alone is proof that we don’t think it’s a necessary office, and the man does not have enough to do.  
Willow Creek Community Church, a Chicago-area mega-church that gained fame 20 years ago for its “seeker-sensitive” approach to evangelizing non-Christians, has announced that it will no longer partner with Exodus International, a national ministry that reaches out to individuals wishing to leave the homosexual lifestyle. Willow Creek officials said the move has more to do with the church’s overall ministry approach than to a change in its view on homosexuality, which has been traditionally viewed by Christians as sinful. Susan DeLay, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek, told Christianity Today that the congregation has an open-door policy toward individuals struggling with same-sex attraction. “Willow Creek has a whole host of ministries for people dealing with these issues, and we would never intend for them to feel sidelined,” DeLay said. “All we’ve changed is how we’ve gone about inviting them into the church, which is the primary issue here.”
According to Borderland Beat (BB) of July 21, a “puzzling web of events” has resulted in the death of yet another American in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, across the international border from El Paso, Texas. BB reported that three suspects were arrested Wednesday in connection with a man’s kidnapping on July 5, and a fourth suspect is sought. The American was found murdered the day after the kidnapping. Mexican officials wouldn’t release the victim’s name, but University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) officials confirmed that Jorge Luis Dieppa, 57, a court interpreter and part-time lecturer at UTEP, was killed in Juarez. Dieppa was also a member of the El Paso Interpreters and Translators Association and had worked as an interpreter for the Texas Workforce Commission. Federal officials would not disclose further information. Fox News reported that a UTEP spokeswoman said that Dieppa, a Spanish interpreter since 2004, worked in the languages and linguistics department at the university.
As if the list of GOP presidential candidates were not long enough, two new names were tossed around this weekend as possible contenders: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Likewise, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, though not running for President, has indicated that he will be leaving an imprint on the 2012 Republican campaign and will be traveling to Iowa. In an appearance Friday on Sean Hannity's Fox New program, Jeb Bush announced that he should not indefinitely be counted out in 2012. On the special edition of the Sean Hannity show, a member of the audience asked Governor Bush if he would consider running for President, to which Bush replied, “You never say never.” He added, jokingly, “but I’m never ruling out being on 'Dancing with the Stars' either. The 8-ball that I have on my desk — that I used to make the big decisions when I was governor — says ‘outlook not so good.’”
It’s a fact that Americans have serious health problems caused by their diets. Excessive consumption of fat, sugar, and processed foods is a leading cause of obesity, diabetes, and related illnesses. The question is what to do about it. The answer, for New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, is obvious: Put the government in charge of what people eat. And not just any government: Our diet dictator, he writes, “should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix.” Constitutionalists point out man’s unalienable rights as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, and the powers delegated to the federal government under the Constitution, which do not include acting as food führer. Something must be done, and to progressives such as Bittman, only Washington can do it.
Another political sex scandal has surfaced, as U.S. Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), has been exposed for indulging in elicit relations with an unidentified 18-year-old woman, only a few weeks after Rep. Anthony Weiner was caught sending lewd photos to young women on Twitter — and only a week before the U.S. default deadline. According to The Oregonian, the incident occurred last November, and the woman is the daughter of one of Wu’s longtime friends. Wu’s victim was reported to be "distraught" and "breathing heavily" when she called his Portland office this spring, accusing him of an aggressive and "unwanted sexual encounter." Wu acknowledged the incident, but insisted that the encounter was consensual. "This is very serious, and I have absolutely no desire to bring unwanted publicity, attention or stress to a young woman and her family," the Congressman said. Wu claims his behavior was a culmination of mental health problems in 2008, stemming from marital issues and an eventual separation from his wife. But troubling behavior is nothing new for the Congressman, as his actions have reportedly been so bizarre at times that aides have had to cancel meetings and public appearances.
After 102 years, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, America’s historic military hospital that treated Presidents, foreign leaders, and generations of wounded soldiers returning from combat and service around the world, is set to close its doors in September. “Hundreds of thousands of the nation’s war wounded from World War I to today have received treatment at Walter Reed, including 18,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” reported the Associated Press. “President Dwight Eisenhower died there. So did Gens. John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur. It’s where countless celebrities, from Bob Hope to quarterback Tom Brady, have stopped to show their respect to the wounded.”
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