U.S. credit ratings giant Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowered its rating on the credit-worthiness of nine European nations January 13. "It's not the cut in the rating that is historic," BNP Paribas economist Dominique Barbet told the Wall Street Journal. "It's the depth of the euro crisis that is historic."  
Human rights activist Kerry Kennedy, ex-wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, stands to rake in millions from her seemingly selfless defense of the oil-drilled rain forest in Ecuador. An Ecuadorean appeals court recently upheld a ruling that Chevron Corporation, the U.S. oil giant, should pay $18 billion in damages (which the company is now appealing) to plaintiffs who accused the company of inflicting environmental damage on the Amazon jungle — in what Kennedy called "the biggest corporate environmental disaster on the face of the Earth."  
The latest international Index of Economic Freedom revealed that the economy of the United States lost even more liberty for a fourth consecutive year, dropping from ninth to tenth place under the Obama administration and solidifying its designation as “mostly free” — earned in 2009, down from “free” the year before that.  
On January 13 U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney ruled against Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Santorum in a lawsuit seeking to have their names appear on the 2012 Republican primary ballot in Virginia. The candidates argued that they had been unfairly excluded from the ballot because the state’s ballot access law, which requires candidates to collect 10,000 signatures of registered voters using only Virginia residents as petition circulators, was too onerous.  
Activists are expressing serious concerns that Mitt Romney’s private equity firm Bain Capital owns one of America’s largest media conglomerates, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., which broadcasts numerous popular talk-show hosts with incalculable influence in the 2012 GOP primary. Among the radio personalities syndicated by Clear Channel or aired on hundreds of stations it owns nationwide are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and many others.  
What should America’s children and adolescents know about sex, homosexuality, “gender identity,” and contraception? As much as possible, according to a coalition of liberal educators, health professionals, and sex-ed “experts,” who have released a set of explicit recommendations they hope the nation’s schools will adopt as the new standards for sex education.  
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce targeted the Obama administration Thursday with a call to authorize the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to southern parts of the United States. TransCanada’s 1,700-mile pipeline has been battling an ongoing review by the State Department, and while a final stamp of approval was expected last fall, the Obama administration folded to Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups in November, deciding to suspend its verdict until 2013. The Chamber’s plea arrived a day after Obama held a White House meeting with U.S. business leaders to announce a new plan designed to boost job "insourcing." "In the next few weeks, I will put forward new tax proposals that reward companies that choose to bring jobs home and invest in America — and eliminate tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas," the President declared. "Because there is opportunity to be had, right here."   At a press conference Thursday, Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, referenced Obama’s job-creation rally cry. However, Josten affirmed, "The president missed the biggest in-sourcing opportunity yesterday and it’s called the Keystone Pipeline."  
Crime victims, judges, and Mississippi residents in general are up in arms over the more than 200 pardons and clemencies issued by the state’s former Republican Governor, Haley Barbour, during the final days of his second term, which ended January 10. Altogether, reported the New York Times, Barbour “granted 203 full pardons over his two terms, including 17 to convicted murderers. He also granted 19 other criminals lesser degrees of clemency, like conditional suspensions of their sentences.” The bulk of the pardons were issued as Barbour prepared to leave office.
Central banks are often justified on the basis that a complex, modern economy requires top-down management by experts. These people, it is said, can study the markets and then “fine-tune” the economy to keep it humming along.  As if the last few years haven’t provided evidence enough that such notions are pure folly, newly released transcripts of 2006 Federal Reserve meetings offer further proof. The transcripts show that the “experts” — members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) — were so clueless that even as late as December, when the housing market was displaying serious signs of decline, most showed little concern that the bursting bubble could take down the entire economy.
Guess what? Barack Obama has found an opponent whose approval ratings are even lower than his own. So to kick off his re-election campaign, he’s decided to run against Congress.  The campaign against the obstructionist, do-nothing Congress started during the recent congressional "recess," when Obama decided to ignore the U.S. Constitution, recent Presidential tradition, and even his own vote when he was a U.S. Senator by making four “recess” appointments.    
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