Expressions of joy were muted on Wall Street at Friday's release of the latest report from the Conference Board (CB) showing its Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumping 0.9 percent in October, following just a 0.1 percent gain in September. Economic analysts had a field day trying to read the CB’s tea leaves heading into the Christmas holidays and the new year.
Economists at the Conference Board were guardedly optimistic. Ataman Oxyildirim said, “The October rebound of the LEI largely due to the sharp pickup in housing permits suggests that the risk of an economic downturn has receded.” Added Ken Goldstein, “The LEI is pointing to continued growth this winter, possibly even gaining a little momentum by spring. The lack of confidence has been the biggest obstacle in generating forward momentum, domestically or globally. As long as it lasts, there is a glimmer of hope.”
Presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said they'd wage war against Iran if it didn't prove it had given up any hope of obtaining nuclear weapons, while Rep. Ron Paul deferred, saying he'd follow Christian just war principles. The comments were made at a November 19 forum in Des Moines, Iowa.
"Nothing takes life more than the declaration of war," moderator and pollster Frank Luntz asked the six GOP presidential candidates who participated in the "Thanksgiving Family Forum," sponsored by a division of Focus on the Family. "Can you define the moral justification for war?"
Texas Congressman Ron Paul answered first, explaining: "Early on, the Church struggled with this and St. Augustine came up with the principles of the just war. I believe in them. I think we should follow them from a religious viewpoint. But we have a Constitution that is very clear to guide us to try to prevent these wars. And that is that we don't go to war without a declaration." Traditional Christian just war principles stress that wars must be declared by the lawful authority; under the U.S. Constitution wars require the declaration of war by Congress. But Paul noted that recent U.S. wars have not been declared by Congress. "It was tragic because we did it by failing the rule of law," Paul added.
After decades of helping to place children in foster homes, Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, announced on November 14 that it would be transferring all of its current cases to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Across the state, Catholic Charities and the Evangelical Child and Family Agency in Wheaton found that they would no longer be able to continue playing a role in placing children in foster care because the state government was going to require them to place children in the homes of same-sex couples — a practice that both Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe to be contrary to their faith.
Roland Emmerich’s long-awaited big-screen production of a movie based on the Shakespeare authorship controversy has turned out to be a great disappointment. While technically brilliant, Anonymous turns the Elizabethan era into a heathen, barbaric époque with none of the strong religious values characteristic of the time. Queen Elizabeth is not depicted as the Virgin Queen, but as a lascivious victim of double incest: with her son, Henry de Vere, and grandson, Henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southamption, who, as the story goes, should have become Henry the Ninth. In short, the story is so historically grotesque as to make of the authorship controversy a gaseous bubble of ridiculous and obscene fantasy.
Nashville-based mixed martial artist Ed Clay underwent waterboarding after last week's GOP presidential debate where Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain announced they favored waterboarding terror suspects. He emerged a critic of waterboarding and said that if the the pro-family values Bachmann agreed to be waterboarded "I bet you would get Bachmann to admit that she supports gay marriage." Bachmann told the press November 16 that submitting to waterboarding would be "absurd."
"Until I'd been waterboarded," Clay said in a YouTube video where he underwent the procedure. "I really didn't have an opinion whether it was torture or not. So I wanted to find out for myself." He emerged with a clear verdict: It is torture.
Waterboarding is the forcing of water down the nose and throat of prone prisoners involving the pouring of water, usually with a wet cloth over the nose or mouth of the immobile prisoner. The procedure is generally described as creating the sensation of drowning, but it is more than that since water seeps into the breathing passages and lungs. The gag reflex is induced immediately.
In a move that has already been dubbed a “game changer,” Internet behemoth Google has launched a digital music service, a frontline challenge to the market dominance of Apple’s ubiquitous iTunes store.
Google’s catalog of music will be available on the Android Market, the storefront it maintains for users of Android smartphones to download apps, books, and movies. The service is being rolled out this week to consumers in the United States with plans to offer the product to the estimated 200 million Android users worldwide.
The long-awaited announcement was made at an event in Los Angeles on November 16. The California-based company’s senior product manager, Michael Siliski, hyped the new music store with a demonstration worthy of the company whose name has become a verb.
There are similarities to the iTunes distribution scheme. There is a segment of the catalog being offered for free download, while most of the tracks available carry a by now-familiar price tag of around $1.00 (69 cents to $1.29, to be exact). The initial cache of songs includes work by chart toppers Adele, Jay-Z, and Pearl Jam.
Thursday’s article in The New York Times by writers Jack Ewing and Nicholas Kulish about the “rift” between factions over the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) was a distraction and misdirected attention from what is really happening there. The piece makes it sound as though the ECB is standing firm against pressures to have it buy up the debt from Greece and Italy in order to keep the debt “contagion” from spreading elsewhere.
For instance, the article quotes Spain’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as saying that he expected the ECB to do whatever was necessary, for “this is what we transferred power for … [to] defend the common policy and its countries.” Of course Zapatero would have to say that or he would be gone, just as unelected bankers replaced elected leaders in Greece and Italy. Just a reminder as to who is in charge was reflected by the recent rise in Spain’s borrowing costs, the highest since 1997, and exceeding the “default” level of 7 percent on its 10-year bond. But nothing was said in the article that Zapatero’s comments reflected a desire to save his skin.
In fact the ECB has been taking an active role economically and politically by buying up the debt of those countries in massive amounts, already in excess of $250 billion, and manipulating interest rates to favor the newly installed rulers Mario Monti in Italy and Lucas Papademos in Greece. But authors Ewing and Kulish prefer to present the ECB as being run by “fiercely conservative stewards” who have “steadfastly resisted letting it take up the mantle of lender of last resort.” And to support that falsehood the authors enlisted the help of experts closely tied to the creation of the ECB and to its ultimate purpose as a tool to install a European dictatorship.
GOP presidential contender Herman Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview that he had requested that Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State, serve once again as Secretary of State in a hypothetical Cain administration. Though Kissinger apparently rejected Cain’s offer, the maneuver raises a number of questions regarding Cain’s conservatism.
“Dr. Kissinger turned down my offer to be secretary of state,” Cain told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an interview. “He said he’s perfectly happy doing what he’s doing.”
Once the Cain camp realized that the voters were not happy with the notion of requesting Kissinger’s services, Cain’s campaign spokesman J.D. Gordon said that Cain had not actually asked Kissinger to be his Secretary of State, and chalked the entire incident up to Cain being sleep deprived during his interview with the Milwaukee newspaper.
Likewise, Cain attempted to avoid questions in Iowa on Tuesday when he was asked about Kissinger, “until he was told that his campaign had said he was joking about the offer of the plum cabinet job to the former secretary of state,” reports the Washington Post.
However, when watching a video clip of the interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there is no indication that Cain was making a joke when he referred to Henry Kissinger.
Activists are fuming after GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed an emergency rule to implement ObamaCare in the state and refused to return federal grant money provided under the scheme.
Critics are calling the actions a “betrayal” of his supporters and the Tea Party, though some defenders are saying he has merely been acting on bad advice. Democrats, meanwhile, are demanding that Walker keep the funds and continue to implement Obama’s controversial healthcare plan.
Some Republican legislators fought hard to kill AB 210, a bill that would have brought Wisconsin into compliance with ObamaCare even as it remains under assault in court for being unconstitutional. And GOP state Sen. Frank Lasee ensured that the legislation died in the Senate Committee on Insurance and Housing he chairs.
“My office reached out to Gov. Walker approximately two weeks ago in a sincere effort to discuss the many reasons for killing AB 210,” Sen. Lasee said in a statement released on November 14. “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.”
After nominating Donald Berwick as head of Medicare and Medicaid, President Obama has now nominated Henry Aaron as head of the Social Security Advisory Board, and they are both proponents of healthcare rationing. Berwick, who Obama appointed through executive measures, circumventing the conventional Senate confirmation, has stated, "The decision is not whether or now we will ration care…. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly."
Henry Aaron, a senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, harbors sentiments on the issue that are arguably even more extreme, which is evident in his comments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a U.S. government agency established in 2010 by sections of Obama’s healthcare overhaul, has the explicit task of curtailing the rate of growth in Medicare expenditures. Section 4303 of the Affordable Care Act grants the IPAB an unbounded authority to develop proposals to cut Medicare costs, which become law unless Congress acts to produce alternative cost-saving proposals that would save at least as much as the IPAB proposes.