The United Russia party of former President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suffered a setback at the hands of the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation), which won about 20 percent of the vote in Sunday's elections to the state Duma, the lower house of parliament. The BBC noted that "United Russia won the election, but with a sharp drop in its support ahead of Mr. Putin's bid to return to the presidency next March." Putin served as President from 2000 to 2008, but the Russian constitution prohibited him from running for a third consecutive term.
Following the Pakistani government’s recent decision to shut down NATO supply lines into Afghanistan indefinitely, Russian officials upped the ante by subtly threatening to close off northern routes for the occupation if the U.S.-led military alliance refuses to back down on a proposed missile defense system in Europe. According to analysts, such a move by Russia at this point would either spark a new war or force a rapid withdrawal of supply-starved Western forces from the region.
Russian Ambassador to NATO Dmitri Rogozin was widely quoted last week as saying that if the military alliance refuses to offer a serious response to the Kremlin’s demands, "we have to address matters in relations in other areas." And the Russian government’s cooperation in the NATO occupation of Afghanistan could be one of those areas, he warned.
Supply routes through Pakistan for the Afghan war effort — which delivered about half of the alliance’s supplies — were completely sealed off late last month. The border closures came after NATO forces killed more than two dozen Pakistani military officers and soldiers in an attack inside Pakistan’s borders.
Last month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker angered his supporters by signing an emergency rule to implement ObamaCare in the state. After the harsh public outcry, however, Walker has now withdrawn the emergency rule.
Originally, the Governor sought to implement ObamaCare in his state by way of Assembly Bill 210, which was sponsored by a Republican and which was easily passed on October 18 by 57-39 in the Republican-controlled Assembly. Next, Senator Frank Lasee made the dramatic announcement on November 1 that he, as Chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, was killing AB 210 by letting it die in his committee. In response, Walker then approved an emergency rule that bypassed the state legislature, accomplished the same purpose as AB 210, and thereby brought Wisconsin statutes into compliance with ObamaCare law.
Complicating this controversy over Walker's initial approval of an emergency rule is a second controversy over whether the governor should return $49 million in federal "Early Innovator" funds that were given to Wisconsin for the purpose of establishing a state healthcare exchange in accordance with ObamaCare law.
The New American’s Alex Newman observed that Scott Walker was the first Republican Governor in the United States to have “kept the ObamaCarefunds.”
In a statement released on November 14, Senator Frank Lasee asserted,
My office reached out to Gov. Walker approximately two weeks ago in a sincere effort to discuss the many reasons for killing AB 210. We also hoped to broach the hazard of the $49 million in federal "Early Innovator Grant" funds that the governor accepted in February of this year. Regrettably, we were rebuffed.
In its 93-7 approval December 1 of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867), the U.S. Senate took yet another step in the campaign to give practicing homosexuals full and open access to the U.S. military. The bill, which earlier received unanimous approval by the Democrat-led Senate Armed Services Committee, includes a provision that repeals Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) — a measure that bans soldiers from engaging in either sodomy or bestiality.
Specifically, Article 125 states: “(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense. (b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told CNSNews.com that the vote to repeal this common sense law re-enforcing moral law in the military is a natural progression of the successful efforts by President Obama and congressional Democrats to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban of homosexuals in military service.
Confronting elements of President Obama’s healthcare legislation that are so fundamentally restrictive of religious freedom that Jesus “would not qualify as ‘religious,’” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been engaged in a protracted struggle to defend the integrity of Roman Catholic doctors in the face of a federal government seemingly bent on requiring them to act against their consciences. As a reward for their labors, House Minority Leader — and self-proclaimed “devout Catholic” — Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has belittled the bishops as nothing more than “lobbyists in Washington, D.C.”
As reported in late September for The New American, the USCCB objected to the law passed in March 2010 intended to socialize healthcare (legislation that is popularly known as “ObamaCare”) because it would require healthcare providers — including Roman Catholic hospitals and doctors — to provide birth control, abortifacient drugs, and abortions, even though providing birth control and performing abortions runs counter to Roman Catholic teaching. As noted in September, when the legislation was passed into law, it purportedly contained language specifically intended to serve as an exemption from requiring religious institutions to provide services that were fundamentally at odds with their principles.
Last week’s announcement that the auto industry could add as many as 167,000 jobs by 2015 merely confirmed what some economists were saying: that lower wages allow car manufacturers to hire more people more profitably. As part of the agreement between the federal government and the unions in 2007, a lower tier of wages was created in order to halt the hemorrhaging of cash the carmakers were experiencing that led to the bailouts. The unions reluctantly agreed to accept the two-tier system, concluding that a lower-paying job was better than none at all.
Before the agreement, auto workers were making about $29 an hour, plus benefits (health insurance and a pension plan), which brought the total to $50 an hour or more. The onset of the recession pricked that “high wage bubble” which had been hidden prior to the recession. Under the 2007 agreement, entry-level workers were paid $14 to $16 an hour, plus benefits, bringing their total compensation to about $25 an hour. Although those wages affect only about one in every six workers, it was enough to allow Chrysler to turn a profit last quarter of $212 million, potentially setting the stage for its first profitable year since 2005.
At present it takes between 20 and 30 man-hours to produce a new vehicle. Chrysler’s costs are the lowest of the big three automakers, averaging about $1,250 per vehicle. And so the new wage pact agreed to early this fall will add only a few dollars to the overall price of a new car.
If you’ve seen “Little Blue Dynamos” ads urging you to consume blueberries, you probably assumed they were simply the result of blueberry producers getting together to promote their product. In fact, they are the result of certain blueberry producers’ collusion with the federal government to force all blueberry growers and importers to fund such promotions under the threat of hefty fines for noncompliance.
Blueberry producers aren’t alone in using the federal government to wrest marketing dollars from each other. Producers and importers of a variety of other commodities, from avocados to watermelons, are subject to similar treatment. And Christmas tree growers and their customers nearly got socked with a tax of 15 cents per tree this holiday season under the same program — a fate averted only because of a public outcry.
The joys of Christmas do not include coping with crowds at shopping malls or wracking your brains trying to figure out what to get as a gift for someone who already seems to have everything.
Books are a way out of both situations. You don't even have to go to a bookstore, with books so readily available on-line. As for the person who seems to have everything, newly published books are among the things they probably don't always have.
One of the most enjoyable new books I read this year was a biography titled Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey. Musial was one of the great hitters in the history of baseball, with a lifetime batting average of .331.
This biography, however, is more about Musial the man, and the era in American life in which he lived, which makes it more three-dimensional. It is a good read, and may be especially appreciated by people old enough to remember that era and the values that prevailed in that era, which Musial exemplified.
It's not like the old days in China when the top guys in the Communist Party at least pretended to be pro-equality. Back then, "poor peasants" were encouraged to denounce and kill "rich peasants" for the crime of being too productive, too individualistic, or insufficiently enthusiastic about self-sacrifice.
Today in Australia there's a mansion, overlooking Sydney Harbor, that recently sold for $32.4 million. Its new owner is Zeng Wei, 43, the son of Zeng Qinghong, once one of the most powerful men in the Chinese Communist Party.
As the year 2011 has witnessed an inordinate number of protests, particularly in the state of Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has proposed a number of steps to restrict certain displays of opposition in his state. Walker has indicated that he wants to introduce a fee to protestors who wish to demonstrate.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week, “Gov. Scott Walker’s administration could hold demonstrators at the Capitol liable for the cost of extra police or cleanup and repairs after protests, under a new policy unveiled Thursday.”
According to the policy, groups of four or more people must first obtain permits before conducting any activity or display in state buildings, and must obtain those permits at least 72 hours in advance of any event. The rules regulating displays outside of the Capitol indicate that a permit is required for 100 or more people. There is some wiggle room for spontaneous gatherings in the wake of unforeseen events.