Daily Archives: September 29, 2007

6 die from brain-eating amoeba in lakes

Associated Press | Sep 29, 2007

By CHRIS KAHN

PHOENIX – It sounds like science fiction but it’s true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.

Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it’s killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.

“This is definitely something we need to track,” said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better,” Beach said. “In future decades, as temperatures rise, we’d expect to see more cases.”

According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL’-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

In Arizona, David Evans said nobody knew his son, Aaron, was infected with the amoeba until after the 14-year-old died on Sept. 17. At first, the teen seemed to be suffering from nothing more than a headache.

“We didn’t know,” Evans said. “And here I am: I come home and I’m burying him.”

After doing more tests, doctors said Aaron probably picked up the amoeba a week before while swimming in the balmy shallows of Lake Havasu, a popular man-made lake on the Colorado River between Arizona and California.

Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria lives almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even dirty swimming pools, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment.

Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, “basically feeding on the brain cells,” Beach said.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they’ll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes, he said.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival. Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

“Usually, from initial exposure it’s fatal within two weeks,” he said.

Researchers still have much to learn about Naegleria. They don’t know why, for example, children are more likely to be infected, and boys are more often victims than girls.

“Boys tend to have more boisterous activities (in water), but we’re not clear,” Beach said.

In central Florida, authorities started an amoeba phone hot line advising people to avoid warm, standing water and areas with algae blooms. Texas health officials also have issued warnings.

People “seem to think that everything can be made safe, including any river, any creek, but that’s just not the case,” said Doug McBride, a spokesman for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Officials in the town of Lake Havasu City are discussing whether to take action. “Some folks think we should be putting up signs. Some people think we should close the lake,” city spokesman Charlie Cassens said.

Beach cautioned that people shouldn’t panic about the dangers of the brain-eating bug. Cases are still extremely rare considering the number of people swimming in lakes. The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to use nose clips when swimming or diving in fresh water.

“You’d have to have water going way up in your nose to begin with” to be infected, he said.

David Evans has tried to learn as much as possible about the amoeba over the past month. But it still doesn’t make much sense to him. His family had gone to Lake Havasu countless times. Have people always been in danger? Did city officials know about the amoeba? Can they do anything to kill them off?

Evans lives within eyesight of the lake. Temperatures hover in the triple digits all summer, and like almost everyone else in this desert region, the Evanses look to the lake to cool off.

It was on David Evans’ birthday Sept. 8 that he brought Aaron, his other two children, and his parents to Lake Havasu. They ate sandwiches and spent a few hours splashing around.

“For a week, everything was fine,” Evans said.

Then Aaron got the headache that wouldn’t go away. At the hospital, doctors first suspected meningitis. Aaron was rushed to another hospital in Las Vegas.

“He asked me at one time, ‘Can I die from this?'” David Evans said. “We said, ‘No, no.'”

On Sept. 17, Aaron stopped breathing as his father held him in his arms.

“He was brain dead,” Evans said. Only later did doctors and the CDC determine that the boy had been infected with Naegleria.

“My kids won’t ever swim on Lake Havasu again,” he said.

Wounded vets also suffer financial woes

coming_home_wounded_the_price

Physical therapist Don Akeju uses a light to help patient, Evan Mettie, a brain-injured Iraq war veteran, move his eyes as Denise Mettie, Evan’s mother, watches during a therapy session at the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in West Orange, N.J., Friday, Sept. 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)

Associated Press | Sep 29, 2007

By JEFF DONN and KIMBERLY HEFLING

TEMECULA, Calif. – He was one of America’s first defenders on Sept. 11, 2001, a Marine who pulled burned bodies from the ruins of the Pentagon. He saw more horrors in Kuwait and Iraq.

Today, he can’t keep a job, pay his bills, or chase thoughts of suicide from his tortured brain. In a few weeks, he may lose his house, too.

Gamal Awad, the American son of a Sudanese immigrant, exemplifies an emerging group of war veterans: the economic casualties.

More than in past wars, many wounded troops are coming home alive from the Middle East. That’s a triumph for military medicine. But they often return hobbled by prolonged physical and mental injuries from homemade bombs and the unremitting anxiety of fighting a hidden enemy along blurred battle lines. Treatment, recovery and retraining often can’t be assured quickly or cheaply.

These troops are just starting to seek help in large numbers, more than 185,000 so far. But the cost of their benefits is already testing resources set aside by government and threatening the future of these wounded veterans for decades to come, say economists and veterans’ groups.

“The wounded and their families no longer trust that the government will take care of them the way they thought they’d be taken care of,” says veterans advocate Mary Ellen Salzano.

How does a war veteran expect to be treated? “As a hero,” she says.

___

Every morning, Awad needs to think of a reason not to kill himself.

He can’t even look at the framed photograph that shows him accepting a Marine heroism medal for his recovery work at the Pentagon after the terrorist attack.

It might remind him of a burned woman whose skin peeled off in his hands when he tried to comfort her.

He tries not to hear the shrieking rockets of Iraq either, smell the burning fuel, or relive the blast that blew him right out of bed.

The memories come steamrolling back anyway.

“Nothing can turn off those things,” he says, voice choked and eyes glistening.

He stews alternately over suicide and finances, his $43,000 in credit card debt, his $4,330 in federal checks each month — the government’s compensation for his total disability from post-traumatic stress disorder. His flashbacks, thoughts of suicide, and anxiety over imagined threats — all documented for six years in his military record — keep him from working.

The disability payments don’t cover the $5,700-a-month cost of his adjustable home mortgage and equity loans. He owes more on his house than its market value, so he can’t sell it — but he may soon lose it to the bank.

“I love this house. It makes me feel safe,” he says.

Awad could once afford it. He used to earn $100,000 a year as a 16-year veteran major with a master’s degree in management who excelled at logistics. Now, at age 38, he can’t even manage his own life.

There’s another twist. This dedicated Marine was given a “general” discharge 15 months ago for an extramarital affair with a woman, also a Marine. That’s even though his military therapists blamed this impulsive conduct on post-traumatic stress aggravated by his Middle East tours.

Luckily, his discharge, though not unqualifiedly honorable, left intact his rights to medical care and disability payments — or he’d be in sadder shape.

Divorced since developing PTSD, Awad has two daughters who live elsewhere. He spends much of his days hoisting weights and thwacking a punching bag in the dimness of his garage. He passes nights largely sleepless, a zombie shuffling through the bare rooms of his home in sunny California wine country.

___

Few anticipated the high price of caring for Awad and other veterans with deep, slow-healing wounds.

Afghanistan seemed quiet and Saddam Hussein still ruled Iraq one year after the Sept. 11 attacks. That’s when the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs guaranteed two years of free care to returning combat veterans for virtually any medical condition with a possible service link.

Later, few predicted such a protracted war in Iraq. “A lot of people based their planning on low numbers of casualties in a very short war,” says Paul Rieckhoff, an Army combat veteran who founded Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Also, Iraqi insurgents have relied on disfiguring bombs and bombardment as chief tactics. At the same time, better armor and field medicine have kept U.S. soldiers alive at the highest rate ever, leaving 16 wounded for every fatality, according to one study based on government data. The ratio was fewer than 3-to-1 for Korea and Vietnam.

On the flip side, many are returning with multiple amputations or other disabling injuries not completely fixed even by fancy prosthetics, methodical rehabilitation, and job retraining. The Pentagon counts more than 29,000 combat wounded in the Middle East since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Tens of thousands more were hurt outside of combat or in ways that show up later.

There was no mistaking the wounds of Cambodian-American Sgt. Pisey Tan. Eight months into his second tour in Iraq, a makeshift bomb blasted his armored vehicle and took both his legs.

coming_home_wounded_the_price2

Pisey Tan climbs into a chair beside his prosthetic legs at Prosthetic Innovations in Eddystone, Pa., Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. Tan lost his legs in a makeshift bomb blast in Iraq. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Still, Tan has needed to rely on private donations and family, as well as the government. The government treated him and paid for his artificial legs.

But his brother, Dada, left college to live with him at a military hospital for almost a year. Later, his brother carried him piggyback up and down the stairs at home as Tan got used to his prosthetics.

“That’s how our family is,” says the Woodlyn, Pa., veteran. “We always take care of our own.”

The government says it does too, and with some truth. Of 1.4 million U.S. forces deployed for Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 185,000 have sought care from the VA — a number that could easily top 700,000 eventually, predicts one academic analysis. The VA has already treated more than 52,000 for PTSD symptoms alone, a presidential commission finds.

Veteran John Waltz, of Hebron, Ky., blames his post-traumatic stress disorder on his rescue work at a plane crash aboard a carrier bound for an Iraqi tour. While his condition and disability claim were evaluated, he ran up about $12,000 worth of medical bills, he says. Despite Social Security and his wife’s work, the couple’s yearly income was cut in half to $30,000.

“We have to be really frugal, as far as what groceries we buy,” Waltz says. “I think we’re down to just a couple dollars now, until the next time we get paid.”

On a national scale, the costs of caring for the wounded certainly won’t crush the $13 trillion annual American economy. It probably won’t bankrupt the VA, which already treats more than 5.5 million patients each year. But the price tag will challenge budgets of governments and service agencies, adding another hungry mouth within their nests.

Economic forecasts vary widely for the federal costs of caring for injured veterans returning from the Middle East, but they range as high as $700 billion for the VA. That would rival the cost of fighting the Iraq war. In recent years, the VA has repeatedly run out of money to care for sick veterans and has had to ask for billions more before the next budget.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if these costs per person are higher than any war previously,” says Scott Wallsten, of the conservative think tank Progress and Freedom Foundation.

The costs often fall on veterans and their families. Ted Wade, of Chapel Hill, N.C., can’t drive or keep his memories straight since a bomb tore off an arm, hurt his foot, and wracked his brain in an attack on his Humvee in Iraq. He and his wife have had to lower their living standard and accept house payments from parents.

“I can’t work because he can’t be up here by himself,” says his wife, Sarah. “It’s my volunteer work, is what it really comes down to.”

Yet federal officials say the cost of this wounded influx isn’t hurting the quality of care promised to veterans.

At a recent ribbon cutting, the Army’s vice chief of staff, Gen. Richard Cody, trumpeted a new rehab center for amputees as “proof that when it comes to making good on such an important promise, there is no bottom line.”

Since President Bush took office, medical spending for veterans has risen by 83 percent, says White House budget spokesman Sean Kevelighan. However, that includes the increased numbers of all veterans treated — not just the wave returning from the Middle East.

“The president has made his dedication very clear to troops in the field and after,” the spokesman said.

The VA didn’t respond to several requests for comment. Recently, though, outgoing chief Jim Nicholson acknowledged trouble keeping up with the pace of disability claims.

But earlier this year, he also insisted that veterans “will invariably tell you they are really getting good care from the VA.”

___

Not invariably.

The VA takes the lead in treating wounds and paying for disabilities of veterans. And it usually does a good job of handling major, known wounds, especially in the early months, by many accounts. The military, Social Security Administration, Labor Department and other agencies add important federal benefits.

However, many veterans and families say the VA often restricts rehabilitation or cuts it off too quickly.

Former Army Ranger Jeremy Feldbusch, of Blairsville, Pa., was blinded and brain-injured by artillery shrapnel in Iraq, but he and his mother decided to get some care outside the VA. His mother, Charlene, says some specialists, especially brain experts, are better in the private sector.

Insurance for major injuries is available at low cost to service members. It pays out up to $100,000 to help cover costs of rehabilitation. But many think it isn’t enough.

In Odessa, Fla., the family of John Barnes decided to save most of his $100,000 payout.

They could easily have spent more of it. His mother, Valerie Wallace, estimates her expenses at more than $35,000 to help care for him while he deals with a brain injury and paralysis from a mortar attack on a base outside Baghdad. She took time off from her nursing job, paid $17 an hour for a home health aide, and transported her son to countless rounds of therapy.

Still, she wanted to preserve his insurance money. “John’s going to need that money down the road,” she says. Instead, she stopped saving, closed out investments, and borrowed against her own insurance.

Disability payments supply monthly income to the wounded, but the VA focuses on replacing lost earnings. A presidential commission has recommended broader compensation for lost quality of life — a concept in line with civilian law. Co-chair Donna Shalala, a former U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, estimates that the committee’s package of recommendations would cost at least several hundred million dollars.

In Oceanside, Calif., Joshua Elmore, says his $1,200-a-month disability payments aren’t “even coming close” to replacing what he’s lost. A rocket attack on a Marine base in Iraq shattered his arm bones and left other injuries.

He can still do yard work, odd jobs, and go to culinary school. But Elmore, who has two little girls, complains that he can’t run and sometimes limps when he walks.

Some wounded veterans turn to private health insurance and other programs outside the federal government, swelling costs for states and towns. Sean Lunde, an Iraq veteran at the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services, says his agency rushes emergency funds to some wounded veterans.

Service nonprofits also pay for emergency shelter, housing, job training, food, clothing and transportation for wounded veterans who risk slipping into coverage gaps.

T.J. Cantwell, of Rebuilding Together, says his group puts an average of $20,000 — plus donated supplies and labor — into houses it modifies for injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Rosedale, Md., the group added handrails, new light switches and door knobs, a garage door opener, and other improvements to the home of Army Sgt. 1st Class Juanita Wilson. The 33-year-old mother of two lost part of her arm in a homemade bomb blast in Iraq, but she remains on active duty to preserve her retirement.

Meanwhile, she says of the remodeling job, “If I had to pay for it, probably very little would be done.”

Despite all this help, many families drop tens of thousands of dollars on travel to hospitals, stays in hotel rooms, extra therapies, and on making their homes and vehicles accessible to the disabled. Intent on the best care, parents sometimes quit jobs and lose their own health insurance.

Denise Mettie, of Selah, Wash., and her husband have been living “paycheck to paycheck” while she helps in the recovery of her son, Evan. A car bomb in Iraq propelled shrapnel into his brain, and he can no longer walk or talk. His mother gave up her $30,000-a-year bank job and had to buy health insurance for herself and her two daughters, just to watch over her son’s hospital treatment, she says.

“What the VA has to offer is insufficient economically to take care of the impact of what happens,” says psychologist Michael Wagner, founder of the nonprofit U.S. Welcome Home Foundation and a retired Army medical officer.

Veterans groups finally sued the VA a few months ago, seeking quicker medical care and disability payments for those with PTSD. They claim that the crush of shattered troops has sent the agency into a “virtual meltdown.”

Last week, the VA challenged the lawsuit on technical grounds. Its lawyers also argued that even though VA rules commit to two years of free care, that depends upon Congress setting aside enough money.

___

Upset by his visits with wounded veterans, defense hawk Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., who chairs a defense spending subcommittee, dropped his support for the Iraq war in 2005.

Speaking of the wounded, he now says federal officials are “not taking care of the things they should and … we’re trying to change the direction.”

Many recommendations have come from veterans, federal advisers and others. Some involve quicker and heftier disability benefits. And nearly everyone begs for more VA money and staff for medical treatment, though few specify where they’d find extra resources.

Rep. Chris Carney, D-Pa., a military reservist, is promoting a bill to set mandatory annual spending levels for veterans’ health care. Prospects are unclear.

Either way, it may be too late for veterans like Awad, who nervously awaits the approach of imagined enemies around what was once his castle.

U.S. soldier planted wire to fake victim was insurgent

 artiraqchildap

A boy lies injured Saturday in a Baghdad hospital after a U.S. airstrike Friday in the Dora area of Baghdad.

CNN | Sep 29, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — An Army sniper was sentenced Saturday for tampering with evidence in the death of an Iraqi civilian, but was acquitted of his murder.

A military panel gave Spc. Jorge G. Sandoval, 22, five months in prison, a reduction in rank and a loss of pay for placing detonation wire on the body of a man killed April 27 to make the victim look like an insurgent, according to The Associated Press.

Sandoval had been charged with murder in that death and another on May 11, but the panel acquitted him Friday of those charges. Sandoval also was acquitted of planting an AK-47 rifle on the body of the second man and of failing to ensure humane treatment of a detainee.

During the court-martial, fellow soldiers testified that they and Sandoval, of Laredo, Texas, were following orders when they shot the unidentified Iraqi men near Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of Baghdad, according to AP.

Meanwhile, violence on Saturday took the lives of at least nine people in Iraq, six of them civilians, according to reports.

A suicide truck bombing killed three Iraqi soldiers and three civilians near Mosul, northwest of Baghdad, AP reported. Soldiers were pursuing the vehicle when it exploded, according to AP.

Also in Mosul on Saturday, a Sunni sheik was killed in a drive-by shooting and an Iraqi journalist died in a mortar attack on his home, according to Mosul police.

In central Baghdad, police said, a civilian was killed when gunmen opened fire at an Iraqi checkpoint, according to AP.

Also Saturday, a senior U.S. military official said the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq has been cut in half through improved border security.

Brig. Gen. Joseph Anderson, chief of staff for the Multi-National Corps in Iraq, said that from 60 to 80 foreign fighters had been entering Iraq each month, but the numbers have been reduced on all of Iraq’s porous borders.

“The effectiveness — between the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement and our border transition teams — they’ve had great success at the standard border-crossing points, enforcing standards and monitoring what’s going on there,” Anderson said.

He said foreign militants are responsible for about 80 percent of suicide bombings in Iraq.

The topic came up as Anderson announced the death earlier this week of a senior al Qaeda in Iraq leader, a Tunisian who was considered the “emir of foreign terrorists in Iraq,” and close associate of the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

Coalition forces killed the militant Tuesday in Mussayib, south of Baghdad, said Anderson, who emphasized the death is “a significant blow” to al Qaeda in Iraq — a Sunni-dominated militant group that takes its inspiration from Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Military commanders have said the leadership in the Iraqi group includes many foreigners while the rank and file is Iraqi.

Iran brands U.S. army, CIA “terrorists”

Reuters | Sep 29, 2007

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian lawmakers branded the U.S. armed forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as “terrorist” in a statement read out in parliament on Saturday, Iranian media said.

Signed by 215 members of the 290-seat legislature, the statement was an apparent response to reports that Washington is considering labelling a unit of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization.

The legislators criticized the U.S. military and the CIA for what they called terrorist actions, the official IRNA news agency said, citing the World War Two atomic bombing of Japan, the Vietnam war and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples.

“Iranian lawmakers in a statement labeled the American army and the country’s intelligence services (CIA) as terrorist,” IRNA said.

Their statement condemned “the violations by the American army and the creation of insecurity in the region,” IRNA said.

It also listed the United States’ “unlimited support for the racist and aggressive Zionist regime (Israel) and involvement in the terrorist operations of the government of that regime against the oppressed nations of Palestine and Lebanon”.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week Washington was considering sanctions against the Qods force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards which it accuses of inciting violence in Iraq.

The Qods force is considered the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards.

The two nations, who have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, are embroiled in a deepening rift over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. They also blame each other for the bloodshed in Iraq.

Iran has said any U.S. move to brand the Guards unit a terrorist organization would be illegal and amount to a confrontation with the entire Islamic Republic.

A month ago, there were plans within the U.S. administration to label the entire Guards Corps a foreign terrorist group — the first time the United States would place the armed forces of any sovereign government on such a list.

U.S. officials said the thinking was that the Qods unit was easier to target. Washington accuses the force of training and equipping insurgents who have attacked U.S. troops.

Iran denies this, as well as Western allegations its nuclear program is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

Congress Grants Fifth Increase In Public-Debt Ceiling Under Bush

lindberghsr2“This Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When the President signs this Act the invisible government by the Money Power, proven to exist by the Money Trust Investigation, will be legalized. The new law will create inflation whenever the trusts want inflation. From now on depressions will be scientifically created.”

– Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., 1913, on the Federal Reserve Act

. . .

Congress Grants Fifth Increase In Public-Debt Ceiling Under Bush

bush_hillary

Fifth Increase Under Bush, To $9.815 Trillion, Reflects Rising Costs of War in Iraq

WSJ | Sep 28, 2007

By DAVID ROGERS

WASHINGTON — The Senate gave final congressional approval to an $850 billion increase in the public debt, the fifth such adjustment under President Bush and one reflecting the rising costs of the war in Iraq.
[Max Baucus]

Adopted 53-42, the revised $9.815 trillion ceiling is intended to give the Treasury enough borrowing authority to manage through the end of Mr. Bush’s presidency and into 2009.

It represents an almost $4 trillion increase from the statutory debt limit when Mr. Bush took office in 2001, and Democrats used the occasion to decry the administration’s fiscal policies even as their leaders felt compelled to back passage.

“What we’re doing with our very high debt is essentially blowing out living standards,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.).

With a new fiscal year beginning Monday, senators also approved and sent the White House a stopgap spending bill to keep the government operating through Nov. 16. Agreement also was reached to expedite passage of a major defense-authorization bill Monday.

The debt-ceiling debate underscored the mounting budget tensions between the Democratic majority and Mr. Bush over domestic priorities. None of the annual spending bills for government agencies has been completed, and the backdrop last night was an impending veto fight over health insurance for the children of low-income families.

That measure, approved 67-29, would add $35 billion in spending over five years and cover costs by raising federal tobacco taxes equivalent to an added 61 cents per pack of cigarettes. Eighteen Republicans joined in support, and Democrats said their “pay-as-you-go” budget approach was required to slow the buildup in public debt.

When Mr. Bush took office in 2001, the debt limit stood at $5.95 trillion, a statutory ceiling that had remained since August 1997. By June 2002, a $450 billion increase was needed, and in 2003, 2004 and 2006, three increases added an average of about $855 billion each to finance government costs and wars overseas.

The administration argues that its tax cuts have proved vital to sustaining the economy, and the U.S. has lived through periods when the government’s debt was far higher as a percentage of gross domestic product. But in 2001, debt was 57% of GDP compared with about 65% today.

Overseas wars are clearly a factor, and just this week the Defense Department asked for about $190 billion to sustain military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008, a $25 billion, or 15%, increase over this year.

. . .

Related

The Inflation Tax
All government spending represents a tax. The inflation tax, while largely ignored, hurts middle-class and low-income Americans the most. Simply put, printing money to pay for federal spending dilutes the value of the dollar, which causes higher prices for goods and services. Inflation may be an indirect tax, but it is very real- the individuals who suffer most from cost of living increases certainly pay a “tax.”

The Triumph of Structured Finance
Failing banks, toxic bonds and mortgage laundering
Consider this: In 2000, when Bush took office, gold was $273 per ounce, oil was $22 per barrel and the euro was worth $.87 per dollar. Currently, gold is over $700 per ounce, oil is over $80 per barrel, and the euro is nearly $1.40 per dollar. If Bernanke cuts rates, we’re likely to see oil at $125 per barrel by next spring.

American Economy: R.I.P.
The careers and financial prospects of many Americans were destroyed to achieve these lofty earnings for the few. Hubris prevents realization that Americans are losing their economic future along with their civil liberties and are on the verge of enserfment.

U.S. Congress agrees to raise U.S. national debt for fifth time since Bush took office

lindberghsr2“This Act establishes the most gigantic trust on earth. When the President signs this Act the invisible government by the Money Power, proven to exist by the Money Trust Investigation, will be legalized. The new law will create inflation whenever the trusts want inflation. From now on depressions will be scientifically created.”

– Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr., 1913, on the Federal Reserve Act
. . .

U.S. Congress agrees to raise U.S. credit limit

bush_moron

Reuters | Sep 27, 2007

By Donna Smith

WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) – With the U.S. government fast approaching its current $8.965 trillion credit limit, the Senate on Thursday gave final congressional approval of an $850 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority.

The Senate voted 53-42 to raise the debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion, the fifth increase in the U.S. credit limit since President George W. Bush took office in January 2001. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the higher debt limit earlier this year as part of the overall budget resolution and the legislation now goes to Bush for his signature.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson commended Congress for quickly passing legislation he said “ensures the U.S. government can deliver on promises already made.”

“The Senate’s swift action on the debt limit today helps to protect the full faith and credit of the United States and avoids creating unnecessary uncertainty in the U.S. Treasuries market,” Paulson said in a statement.

The Treasury Department had been pressing Congress to pass the debt increase quickly. Last week Paulson said the government would hit its current $8.965 trillion debt limit on Oct. 1.

But Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, urged lawmakers to reject the debt increase and concentrate on spending cuts instead.

“Families across America don’t have the luxury of loaning themselves any money when they’ve maxed out their credit. But that’s what we’re going to do,” Coburn said.

Lawmakers said the $850 billion increase in borrowing authority, the second largest since Bush took office, should be enough to last the government through next year’s congressional and presidential elections.

U.S. debt stood at about $5.6 trillion at the start of Bush’s presidency.

“Increasing the debt limit is necessary to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” said Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the Finance panel. (Additional reporting by Richard Cowan)

. . .

Related

The Inflation Tax
All government spending represents a tax. The inflation tax, while largely ignored, hurts middle-class and low-income Americans the most. Simply put, printing money to pay for federal spending dilutes the value of the dollar, which causes higher prices for goods and services. Inflation may be an indirect tax, but it is very real- the individuals who suffer most from cost of living increases certainly pay a “tax.”

The Triumph of Structured Finance
Failing banks, toxic bonds and mortgage laundering   

Consider this: In 2000, when Bush took office, gold was $273 per ounce, oil was $22 per barrel and the euro was worth $.87 per dollar. Currently, gold is over $700 per ounce, oil is over $80 per barrel, and the euro is nearly $1.40 per dollar. If Bernanke cuts rates, we’re likely to see oil at $125 per barrel by next spring.

American Economy: R.I.P.
The careers and financial prospects of many Americans were destroyed to achieve these lofty earnings for the few. Hubris prevents realization that Americans are losing their economic future along with their civil liberties and are on the verge of enserfment.

Giuliani most gay-friendly candidate

 giuliani_drag

Drag Queen Rudy Giuliani

World Net Daily | Sep 27, 2007

A ‘gay’ guide to GOP candidates

Salon magazine recently performed a public service for homosexuals – publishing a thorough “gay” guide to the GOP presidential candidates.

But it’s not just a public service for homosexuals. It’s also a public service for those of us who see the homosexual political agenda as extremely dangerous to the very survival of our nation.

I thought I would perform a public service myself by making it unnecessary for you to read through a voluminous report in a publication littered with soft-core porn, obscenity, vulgarity and profanity by summarizing it right here.

Who is the most homosexual-friendly of the Republicans seeking the presidency?

It’s Rudy Giuliani, hands down, according to the report.

It mentions his comfort in dressing in drag and squealing “with girlish delight when real estate mogul Donald Trump nuzzled his fake breasts.” It mentions how, after his divorce, he moved in with his close friends – a homosexual couple he agreed to marry “if they ever legalize gay marriage.” It mentions how Giuliani marched in “gay pride” parades and, as late as 2002, wrote a letter commemorating the “triumph” of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the Lexington and Concord of the homosexual activist movement. It mentions that he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage – even in his bid to remake his image as the second coming of Ronald Reagan.

I agree with Salon. Giuliani is, far and away, the most homosexual-friendly person seeking the Republican nomination. It’s one reason I wouldn’t vote for him. On so many cultural issues, he’s part of the problem, not part of the solution for America.

Who’s next?

According to Salon, it’s John McCain.

“With rare exception, he has avoided engaging in the politics of sexuality through much of his political career, evidently because he doesn’t really see much of a role for government in these matters,” explains Salon.

The report also reminds us that during his 2000 run for president, he launched blistering attacks on Jerry Falwell and other evangelical leaders, calling them “agents of intolerance.”

He, too, opposes a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage – the only way to prevent it, as far as I can see.

I have other reasons for having decided not to vote for McCain, no matter what. But for those who see him as a viable alternative, consider this virtual endorsement by an advocate for the homosexual activists.

Who is the third most homosexual-friendly GOP candidate?

This might surprise some people. According to Salon, it’s Ron Paul. And that makes sense given his view of the institution of marriage. Paul said, at the debate I moderated last week, “Marriage only came about, and getting license only came about, in recent history for health reasons.”

Actually, those of us who read and believe the Bible see it a little differently. The first marriage was between Adam and Eve. It was God-ordained. It’s an institution created in heaven, not on earth.

Ron Paul is not on my list of possibilities for other reasons. But I’m finding new reasons to oppose him all the time.

The fourth most homosexual friendly Republican in the running is, according to Salon, Fred Thompson.

Thompson famously declared his opposition to a constitutional amendment to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman by explaining it was unnecessary. On Sept. 7, he declared, “There have been no state legislatures that have affirmatively allowed gay marriages in the United States.” That same day, California legislators did just that.

While initially somewhat excited about Thompson as a possible electable alternative to the other front-runners, responses like this and his avoidance altogether of the Values Voters Debate has rendered me extremely skeptical about voting for him under any circumstances.

In fifth place is Mitt Romney, dubbed by Salon, “the switch-hitter.” The report notes that his position on the issue today is 180 degrees opposite from the way he governed in Massachusetts.

“The Romney record on these issues is such a muddle that his performance in the White House is difficult to predict,” concludes Salon.

I agree. Anyone willing to take a chance on that crapshoot? Not me.

In sixth place is Mike Huckabee.

“He has told reporters that he is open to state-sponsored civil unions that would bestow the legal rights of marriage on gay and lesbian couples,” says the report.

It strikes me that Huckabee is trying to be everything to everyone. Didn’t we have enough of that with the election of another Arkansas governor by the name of Bill Clinton?

The other candidates vying for the GOP nomination could all be safely described as open, unadulterated opponents of the homosexual agenda, according to both Salon and my own research. They are: Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback and Alan Keyes.

It seems to me homosexual activists have more choices among the Republican candidates than do traditional Republicans.