A flawless launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 26 has NASA’s latest mission to Mars safely on its nearly nine-month journey to the red planet. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, a rover that has also been given the name Curiosity, is the American space agency’s most advanced rover to date, and its mission is nothing less than to continue the search for life on Mars and prepare for future human exploration. Although the speed and maneuverability of the two-ton Curiosity rover may not offer much when it comes to travel on Earth, its capacities in both those regards could transform the study of Mars. According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website, Curiosity promises to move across the surface of Mars at a speed vastly beyond the capacity of earlier probes:
Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the controversial administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) appointed by President Barack Obama during a congressional recess, announced that he will be resigning from his post on December 2, about a month before his appointment would have expired. Obama originally nominated Berwick to the position in April 2010. Despite being controlled by Democrats, the Senate failed to schedule a confirmation hearing for Berwick. Obama then performed an end run around that chamber and appointed Berwick during a July congressional recess, leaving him with a term that would expire at the end of 2011 unless the Senate later confirmed him. Obama nominated him again in January 2011; but after meeting with fierce resistance from Republicans, 42 of whom wrote him a letter requesting that he withdraw the nomination, he did little to advance Berwick’s cause. “Once it became clear that the President wasn’t willing to stick his neck out, Berwick left,” commented Forbes’ David Whelan. “You can’t blame him.” Obama undoubtedly calculated that if he did indeed stick his neck out, he was likely to meet the same fate, politically speaking, as the famed specter of Sleepy Hollow. Berwick had, after all, been quite open about his fondness for socialized medicine — which, as Whelan points out, is “not surprising, given that he was the President’s nominee.” For instance, wrote William P. Hoar in The New American:
The European Court of Justice issued an important decision on November 24, ruling that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating on the continent cannot be legally compelled to monitor the online activity of their customers. The complainant, SABAM (a Brussels-based consortium of artists, authors, composers, and publishers), was asking the court to force ISPs to aid its mission to fight file sharing of material copyrighted by its members. The ruling is a significant victory for ISPs who rely on the ability to promise anonymity to their subscribers. According to the text of the European court’s decision, copyright holders can still request that service providers take down websites that provide links to copyrighted content, but ISPs are not required to proactively search out and block pirated material offered by any of the various sites they host. The case came to the ECJ on appeal from a lower court ruling that an Internet service provider, Scarlet, prevent its users from trading files on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. The files at issue were songs and videos owned by SABAM members.
In its attempt to quell rising uneasiness in the wake of the failed German bond sale last week, the establishment magazine The Economist rushed in over the weekend with a series of four separate articles promoting its globalist and internationalist perspective on the matter. The first article noted that the risk to the euro within the next few weeks is “alarmingly high” unless measures are taken. The article blamed lack of leadership — “denial, misdiagnosis and procrastination” — for the unfolding and accelerating crisis. First, a recession appears to be imminent as the austerity measures are taking hold across the euro zone and slowing already shaky economies. Second, there is evidence of a run on banks holding large positions in the sovereign debt of the weaker countries. As the banks are facing a June 2012 deadline to improve their capital positions they are now seizing this opportunity to unload as much of that debt as they can, thus explaining the significant rise in interest rates all across the zone. This reflects the simple fact that the banks have loaned money to each other — loans that exceed their deposits, according to The Economist — and now are unwilling to continue to make those loans. This is putting the various spendthrift — “feckless” is their word for it — governments at risk of default when they can’t borrow the money to pay their bills. Especially at risk is Italy, which has to roll over $42 billion of debt the last week in January and another $62 billion at the end of February.
They call it Dearbornistan, Michigan, for more than one reason. Yet another surfaced last week week when The Detroit News and the Associated Press reported that a male nurse, fired for treating women Muslim patients at a taxpayer-subsidized health clinic, has filed a lawsuit against Dearborn. That’s right. According to the lawsuit, John Benitez, Jr. was terminated for doing his job because “conservative” Muslims complained about him treating women wearing the hijab, although he did so under the orders of a doctor. Some 30 percent of Dearborn residents are Arabs, although it is unclear what percentage of those are Muslims. One indication is that Dearborn boasts the largest mosque in North America. Another is the mounting evidence of bias against Christians in such places as Fordson High School, where the student body is 80 percent Arab. No Male Nurses for Women Muslims A nursing as well as Army veteran, Benitez, 63, began working at the clinic in September 2010, AP reported, citing the complaint filed by his lawyer, Deborah L. Gordon.
Outraged over a weekend U.S. and NATO attack that killed 25 Pakistani soldiers and wounded more than a dozen others, the government of Pakistan has taken prompt retaliatory action. Supply lines through the nation for the American-led coalition occupying Afghanistan were shut down immediately and, according to the Interior Minister, permanently. Pakistani officials are also demanding that U.S. air bases in the country be vacated within two weeks. "Pakistan's sovereignty was attacked early this morning," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani the day of the incident. "This is our Pakistan and we have to defend it." Other Pakistani officials also vented their fury over the attack and demanded swift retaliation. Citizens were outraged, too. Headlines in national newspapers spoke of “murders” and an act of war. According to news reports, thousands of Pakistanis protested the attack as well, shouting “down with America” at U.S. diplomatic posts across the country. "America is attacking our borders. The government should immediately break ties with it," a Pakistani housewife at an anti-American demonstration in Karachi was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency. "America wants to occupy our country but we will not let it do that."
The Republican Small Business Committee reported on November 8 that small-business optimism “remains extremely low,” and that business owners “simply are not hiring because they are pessimistic about consumer sales, the nation’s economic climate, and the amount of regulations to comply with.” Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) added, "The overall mood of the nation’s job creators is still at historic lows. The [Optimism Index of the National Federation of Independent Business] shows that over the next three months, only 9 percent of small business owners plan to increase employment [while] 12 percent plan to lay off workers. These numbers are … worse than the previous two months." NFIB's Optimism Index has shown precious little change going back to January of 2009 and is matched by the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index, which noted that “more households reported that their finances had worsened rather than improved for the 48th consecutive month [and that] just 22% of consumers expected their finances to improve” in the coming year. Further, in each of the past four months, “the majority of consumers unfavorably rated the policies of the Obama administration.” The Consumer Confidence Index issued by the Conference Board also showed consumer expectations at 51.8, down 10 full percentage points just since April.
The new Libyan regime has promised to pursue political and economic integration with Sudan’s genocidal “President” Omar al-Bashir, designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government since 1993 and wanted internationally for war crimes. Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdul Jalil arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on November 25 for talks with the socialist, Islamist despot ruling Sudan. According to news reports, he was received with open arms. The two neighboring rulers lavished praises on each other's regimes and promised to pursue close cooperation on everything from “security” to transportation. Al Bashir also emphasized his disdain for late Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who supported various rebel groups in Darfur and South Sudan. "The Libyan people have presented the greatest gift for the Sudanese people, that is, liberating Libya from Gadhafi and his regime," al-Bashir told Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) during a conference held while Jalil was visiting. "The biggest harm inflicted on Sudan was by Gadhafi's regime. It was bigger than any harm caused by any of the colonialist countries hostile to Sudan."
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney says his administration deleted all its emails near the end of his term specifically to frustrate political opponents. Though the move appears unorthodox, if not downright illegal, the Republican presidential candidate claims everything was above board and dismisses the recent flap about the emails as pure politics. On November 17 the Boston Globe reported that at the end of 2006, just as Romney was leaving office and gearing up for his first presidential run, “11 of his top aides purchased their state-issued computer hard drives, and the Romney administration’s emails were all wiped from a server.” In addition, the remaining computers in the Governor’s office were replaced. “As a result,” explains the paper, “[Gov. Deval] Patrick’s office, which has been bombarded with inquires for records from the Romney era, has no electronic record of any Romney administration emails.” Mark Nielsen, Romney’s chief legal counsel as Governor, told the Globe that the administration “fully complied with the law and complied with longstanding executive branch practice,” a refrain repeated by the Romney campaign. The campaign points out that in 1997 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the Governor is not explicitly included in the state Public Records Law, which requires the preservation of electronic communications.
Here’s some news that could turn the entire election upside down. Leading Democrats are urging Barack Hussein Obama to withdraw as a candidate for re-election in 2012, as Lyndon Baines Johnson did almost 50 years ago. The campaign to get Obama to quit the race kicked into high gear on November 21, when influential Democratic leaders Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen wrote a lengthy piece for the Wall Street Journal on why Obama should withdraw. Here’s part of what they said: “[Obama] should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president’s accomplishments.” Who would they have run instead? Get ready for their totally predictable pitch: “He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”