Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cain: Family Comes First

Herman Cain is talking with his family about his campaign and whether or not he should stay in the race.

Ginger White, the latest woman to come out, was on ABC's "Good Morning, America" to tell her story again. She said that she was disappointed by Cain's characterization of her. She went on to say that her relationship with Cain was "a very casual affair". Cain would take her on trips and give her gifts and money. She claimed that the money was not for sex.

Cain said that he should have an final answer regarding his campaign in one week.

Enough is Enough: LA and Philly Police Evict Protesters

Both LA and Philadelphia Police departments moved against the Occupy protesters in their cities.

LA had given notice to the protesters to vacate their area after being there for a little over 2 months. Around midnight, police in riot gear armed with batons and guns with rubber bullets moved in to the area in order to dismantle the protesters' camp site two days past the deadline outlined in a notice to vacate had been given.

In Philadelphia, the same scene was repeated. Police went into the area and evicted the protesters. Several of the protesters had to be removed by cherry pickers from trees.

For the most part, there were no reports of significant violent confrontations from either LA or Philadelphia.

Over 200 people were arrested in LA and 50 in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cain Reassessing His Presidential Campaign

A day after Ginger White came forward to tell her story regarding a 13-year affair with Herman Cain, Cain announced to his staff that he will be reassessing his campaign according to one of his aides.

Cain announced, in a Tuesday morning conference call with his staff, that he will be making a decision on whether or not he will continue his run for the Republican nomination in the next couple of days.

Considering that there is five weeks until the Iowa caucuses, Cain acknowledged that the latest accusation will be more difficult to overcome.

Atlanta Business Woman Claims She had a 13-year Affair with Herman Cain

Ginger White, an Atlanta businesswoman, decided to break her silence and come forward to tell her story of a 13-year affair with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

In an interview between her and Fox 5 senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell, White said that she had met Cain in the late 90s in Louisville, Kentucky, when she was president of the National Restaurant Association. According to White, she was impressed with him after he had given a presentation. They went out for drinks and ultimately ended up back at his hotel room.

White said that Cain wanted to continue the friendship and invited her to meet with him in Palm Springs and that is where the affair started.

During the course of the interview, White showed copies of her phone bill and indicated that Cain had called or texted her 61 times from his private number during a period of 4 different months with the latest being in September of this year. White and Russell texted the number and Cain called back.

When asked about the affair, Cain responded that this is just another false accusation.

In the past, White had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against an employer in 2001, declared bankruptcy 23 years ago in Kentucky and has a string of eviction notices over the past 6 years including one that happened this month. She is currently unemployed.

For the full interview with Dale Russell, click here.

Washington Post Blogger Asks Twitter Followers for Dirt on Gingrich

Washington Post blogger Aaron Fix put out a twit to his followers asking them to send him ideas about Gingrich. Here is the twit.

Fix writes a political blog for the Washington Post called "The Fix".

Monday, November 28, 2011

Utah Professor Arrested for Allegedly Watching Child Porn on Flight

Grant D. Smith, a 47-year-old University of Utah professor in material sciences and engineering department, was arrested Saturday afternoon for allegedly watching child pornography on a Delta Airlines flight from Salt Lake City, UT to Boston, MA.

According to a passenger, Smith, who was seated in First Class, was looking at pornographic pictures of children engaged in sexual activities on his laptop. The passenger took a picture of Smith while he was looking at the pictures and notified a flight attendant as well as emailed a friend. The passenger told the friend to contact police which he did.

Smith tried to erase the pictures after the flight attendant told him to turn off his computer. He was arrested at the airport gate by state police and charged with possession of child pornography after Smith had voluntarily allowed the officers to view the contents of his laptop. Smith is being held on $75,000 bond and has plead not guilty to the charge.

In addition to the bond, the judge has ordered that Smith have no unsupervised contact with children under 16 years old and that his passport be surrendered. Smith cannot use the Internet except for business provided that he is able to make bail. The university has placed Smith on administrative leave pending the outcome of the case.

Longtime Democratic Liberal Representative Barney Frank Calling It Quits

Longtime liberal democrat, Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass), is calling it quits after serving 16 terms in the US House of Representatives. He cites that the 2012 campaign will be too strenuous for him due to redistricting.

Frank also said that he wants to devote his time to teaching, writing and lecturing. He said that he would not become a lobbyist.

Frank is now the 17th House Democrat to flat-out retire or step aside to seek other office. Republicans have announced seven retirements this cycle.

If Attacked by Israel, Iran Threatens to Launch Missiles in Response

The Iranian Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi, speaking before 50,000 army volunteers in Bushehr, threatened to launch 150,000 missiles at Israel if it takes any military action against the Islamic Republic according to Iran Independent News Service on Sunday.

The minister went on to say, "Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan, if the Americans make the mistake and attack Iran, we will show them how to fight,” adding “Israel has to be punished for what it has done to the Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Sales Way Up!

For those keeping score, consumers’ voracious appetites for great deals on Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year helped secure this weekend’s place in the record books. According to a National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGresearch over the weekend, traffic and spending were up both online and in stores, reaching historic highs.

According to the survey, a record 226 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 212 million last year. Digging deep into their holiday budgets, the average holiday shopper spent $398.62 this weekend, up from $365.34 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $52.4 billion. Additionally, shoppers also checked out retailers’ deals online, spending an average of $150.53 on the web – 37.8 percent of their total weekend spending.

“Stuffed to the brim from their holiday meals and eager to shop, more consumers than ever turned out for retailers’ Black Friday promotions, a promising sign for the economic recovery,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “After an historic holiday weekend, retailers know the holiday season is far from over and will continue to look for ways to excite holiday shoppers and build on the momentum we’ve seen thus far.”

The survey found 28.7 million people shopped online and at stores on Thanksgiving Day – up from 22.2 million last year. More people than ever before also shopped online and in stores on Black Friday, as 86.3 million shoppers braved the crowds that day alone.

For the first time, NRF asked how shoppers would use their smartphones and tablets over the weekend as well. More than one-quarter (25.7%) of Americans with tablet devices said they did or will purchase items with their devices, and 37.4 percent will or have researched products and compared prices with their tablets. Overall, more than half (57.1%) said they have or will use their tablet devices to shop for gifts this weekend.

Further Discussions regarding the Break Up for the Euro Zone

Germany and France have made a stability pact in order to get the European Central Bank to take a more forceful position and more aggressive stance in combating the euro zone debt crisis.

However, British ministers are not so sure about the stability of the euro zone. Once thought unthinkable, the break up of euro zone has turned more from idle academic conjecture to something that is more plausible.

British diplomats are being instructed on how to help Britons who are abroad during a possible banking collapse. There is a fear that event rioting may be the result if the debt crisis continues to engulf Europe.

A senior British minister has said that Britain is now preparing for the collapse of the euro on the basis that is just a matter of time.

Diplomats have been told that they need to prepare for social unrest and riots and deal with thousands of British citizens who may not be able to access their bank accounts or withdraw funds.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

President Obama Fails to Mention God in His Thanksgiving Address

Republicans and conservatives are upset by President Obama's failure to give thanks to God or even mentioning God in his Thanksgiving Address.

A conservative columnist, Ben Shapiro, tweeted that Obama is a "militant atheist" and added, "Unreal that Obama doesn't mention God in Thanksgiving whom does he think we are giving thanks?"

Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary for George W. Bush, argued that if you review the last three presidencies, God is usually mentioned. However, it does happen from time to time that God is left to of the the address. God was not included in President Bush's last Thanksgiving address. It depends on the speech writer.


Break Up of the Euro Zone?

Banks including Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital and Nomura issued a cascade of reports this week examining the likelihood of a breakup of the euro zone. “The euro zone financial crisis has entered a far more dangerous phase,” analysts at Nomura wrote on Friday. Unless the European Central Bank steps in to help where politicians have failed, “a euro breakup now appears probable rather than possible,” the bank said.

Given these dire predictions, euro zone leaders are still hopeful and not swayed. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said that the break up of the euro zone will not happen.

With the downgrading of Belgium by S&P from AA+ to AA, there is a lot of pressure to make changes quickly. There are discussions that France could lose its AAA rating if their financial situation continues. Portugal and Hungary were downgraded to "Junk" status.

Banks are preparing for the worst and formulating their own plans to handle the euro zone debt crisis.

Black Friday: Spending Flat

Some retailers reported that the season started off with a bang while others report that it is fizzling out. The number of individuals who hit the stores was up, but spending may have remained flat.

It will be interesting to see the final numbers for the weekend. With the increase in mobile shopping and more deals online, brick and mortar businesses may still end up a little short.

Obama Out on the Links...Again

With the warm weather in the Washington area, President Obama went out golfing. This is the 30th time this year and 88th time during his Presidency.

Friday, November 25, 2011

'Occupiers' Target Black Friday

Occupy Wall Street-inspired protesters are eyeing a new target -- Target. And dozens of other companies. A campaign under the name "Occupy Black Friday" is trying to enlist supporters to boycott just about every major retailer, and quite a few mid-sized ones, the day after Thanksgiving. The protesters are casting a wide net, urging people to demonstrate against the top retail stores -- a list that includes everything from Wal-Mart to Target to Dick's Sporting Goods to Dollar Tree. "The idea is simple, hit the corporations that corrupt and control American politics where it hurts, their profits," the group's Facebook page reads, describing Black Friday as the "one day where the mega-corporations blatantly dictate our actions." But retailers, who are monitoring the mini-movement, warn that a blanket boycott could end up hurting local communities. "Retailers, regardless of their size, are an important part of the community, and they employ friends and neighbors of that community across the country," said Joseph LaRocca, a senior adviser to the National Retail Federation specializing in loss prevention. He said retailers have security plans in place and will "work through" any protests and disruptions that occur this weekend. (Fox News)

Occupy Protests Cost Nation's Cities at Least $13M

During the first two months of the nationwide Occupy protests, the movement that is demanding more out of the wealthiest Americans cost local taxpayers at least $13 million in police overtime and other municipal services, according to a survey by The Associated Press. The heaviest financial burden has fallen upon law enforcement agencies tasked with monitoring marches and evicting protesters from outdoor camps. And the steepest costs by far piled up in New York City and Oakland, Calif., where police clashed with protesters on several occasions. The AP gathered figures from government agencies in 18 cities with active protests and focused on costs through Nov. 15, the day protesters were evicted from New York City's Zuccotti Park, where the protests began Sept. 17 before spreading nationwide. (AP)

Company Declares: 'We Are Not Hiring Until Obama is Gone''

A west Georgia business owner is stirring up controversy with signs he posted on his company's trucks, for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates: "New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone." "Can't afford it," explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. "I've got people that I want to hire now, but I just can't afford it. And I don't foresee that I'll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C." (NBC-Atlanta)

Black Friday, 2011: One of the Best in Recent Years

With the afternoon not even over, some retailers are already saying that this Black Friday is one of the best ones in recent years. An estimated 152 million shoppers went out early to snatch up bargains.

Online retailers are expecting the same thing this year. Mobile traffic via smartphones was also up. Mobile shopping was up to 11.09% which is almost triple last year's number.

Given the preliminary data, Black Friday, 2011 could easily surpass expectations.

Shots Fired Near a Mall in Fayetteville, N.C.

Police officers were called to the Cross Creek Mall early Friday morning after receiving a report that shots were fired.

According to authorities, a fight broke out near the entrance of the food court at around 2AM which resulted in the shooting. From indication, the intended target of the shooting ran into the mall near Macy's. The shooter ran in after the individual and continued firing shots.

People had gathered outside the mall for Black Friday specials when the fight and subsequent shooting occurred.

Police are still looking for the people involved.

20 People Injured After Woman Uses Pepper Spray

In an incident shortly after 10:20 at a Wal-Mart located near Los Angeles, California, a female shopper used pepper spray during a confrontation and injures 20 people while trying to gain the upper hand on electronic items she wanted.

Police are looking for the woman. No arrests have been made. According to Shawn Lenske, a Los Angeles fire spokesperson, the 10 of the injuries resulted from "rapid crowd movement."

This incident occurred during the Wal-Mart's Black Friday sale.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Occupy Wall Street" Protest Movement Urging Supporters to Stay out of Stores

The "Occupy Wall Street" protesters are asking their supporters to boycott retail stores on Black Friday as a show of support and to hurt companies that they have identified as those that are "corrupt and control American politics."

According to the group's Facebook page, the protesters describe Black Friday as the "one day where the mega-corporations blatantly dictate our actions."

Targets of their ire include the following retailers.
  • Target
  • Dick's Sporting Goods
  • Dollar Tree
  • Wal-Mart
  • Best Buy
  • Macy's
  • Abercrombie & Fitch
  • AT&T Wireless
  • Burlington Coat Factory
  • Home Depot
  • Neiman Marcus
  • OfficeMax
  • Toys R'Us
  • Verizon Wireless
This is only a few of the retailers that have been blacklisted by the "Occupy Black Friday" protesters.

Iran Claims to Have Arrested 12 CIA Agents

According to an Iranian official on Thursday, the Iranian government has exposed an US spy ring in the Islamic Republic and arrested 12 CIA agents.

Parliamentarian Parviz Sorouri, a member of the foreign policy and national security committee, claimed that the agents were planning a strike against Iranian targets with the aid of Israel. Sorouri further said that the spy ring had the goal of damaging security, military and nuclear targets inside of Iran.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stock Markets Slide on Anxiety

With a dismal German bond auction, a less than stellar manufacturing data from China and a slight uptick in first time unemployment claims, US stock markets are in the red.

With the continuing debt crisis in Europe that is affecting the global economic climate, Wall Street has been on a roller coaster ride. US banks have been hit the heaviest with the problems.

Reports on China's manufacturing are showing that the second largest economy in the world is contracting. Additionally, reports on European countries are showing that they are contracting as well.

Russian President Threatens Targeting US Missile Defense Sites in Europe

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia will target US missile defense sites in Europe with its missiles if a deal is not reached regarding US missile defense plans.

Medvedev said that Russia will deploy missiles in its westernmost Kaliningrad region and other areas if the Russia and NATO fail to reach a deal on US-led missile defense plans. He further stated that Russia may not participate in further arms reduction negotiations if the US proceeds with its plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Europe.

Medvedev considers the missile defense shield as a threat to Russia's nuclear force.

Neo-Nazis Adopt a Section of Highway

The Cedar Grove Road is located in a rural eastern Delaware and it has become the center for a First Amendment battle. State officials approved a neo-Nazi splinter group's application to adopt a 2-mile portion of the road as part of the state's litter-control programs.

Residents near that stretch of road are upset by the fact that this organization is picking up litter and will have its name on a state road sign. After discussions, the group will not be referred to as the "Nazi Party" but rather the "Freedom Party" on the roadsign. Residents are still upset even with the change.

Edward McBride, III, 24, filed the application with the Delaware Department of Transportation and listed the group's name as the "National Socialist Freedom Movement Nazi Party". The original application was denied stating that the Nazi Party name could be thought as an endorsement by the state of a hate group. McBride offered to change the name to "NSFM88 Nazi Party".

According to DELDOT, they did not deny an individual's request to pick up litter along the roadside. However, since the sign placed at the location belongs to the state, they denied the request to display "Nazi Party" on the it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

German Gynecologist Caught with Pictures of Female Patients

A 56-year-old German gynecologist is being investigated by German authorities after secretly taking pictures of his patients. Almost 700 female patients have filed criminally charges. He is being charged with taking 35,000 pictures of his female patients while they were naked inside his office.

It is estimated that as many 3,000 women were unknowingly photographed by the doctor while undergoing clinical examinations. The doctor, who was practicing in the small town of Schifferstadt, is no longer practicing and could face up to one year in prison.

"Occupy Wall Street" Protesters Target Black Friday

In order to protest against retailers who are in the pockets of Wall Street, "Occupy Wall Street" protesters plan on demonstrating in front of retailers this Friday.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, is the traditional start of the Christmas shopping holiday and is the day when merchants make a majority of their sales. The term comes from an accounting phrase of being "back in the black" or profitable.

Protesters have put up a website and are organizing their protests. They have also identified publicly-traded retailers on their blacklist. The goal of the "Occupy Black Friday" is to disrupt shopping in order to "rattle Wall Street".

Anti-Obama Clothing Outselling Pro-Obama

CafePress, an online custom merchandising company, launched its "Election Meter" at the beginning of November to monitor sales of merchandise for the 2012 Presidential Elections.

Early indications show that 79% of qualifying items for the "Election Meter" were anti-Obama while only 21% were pro-Obama.

According to CafePress, its "Election Meter" successfully predicted Obama's 2008 victory.

Real Clear Politics polling averages show Obama with a very slight edge of 43.8% over an unnamed Republican with 43%.

CafePress' "Election Meter" also shows trends. It shows that Herman Cain merchandise has a plurality of 39%.

TSA Agent Arrested for Sexual Assault

Harold Rodman, a 52-year-old Transportation Security Administration employee, is accused of sexually assaulting a 37-year-old woman in Manassas, Virginia.

According to the police, the woman and a friend were approached by Rodman near the 10500 block of Winfield Loop. He came up to them and flashed his badge and then sexually assaulted the victim.

Rodman was arrested on November 20th and charged with aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration, forcible sodomy and abduction with intent to defile.

A TSA spokesperson has confirmed that Rodman works for the the agency, but declined to comment about what his job was and where he worked.

Those in Rodman's neighborhood were shocked by the charges. According to one, he seemed "like a normal guy."

Flash Mob Shoplifts at 7-Eleven in Maryland

Shoplifting flash mobs have become more and more prevalent. The size and frequencies of these types of flash mobs are growing larger and happening more often.

Approximately 50 people came into a Silver Spring, Maryland, 7-11 Saturday night and began to simultaneously shoplift. The shoplifters were described as teens and young adults. According to the police report, they primarily took snacks and drinks.

When police arrived, they saw individuals milling around the parking lot and side streets. After seeing the police, the group immediately dispersed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Budget-Cutting Super Committee has Failed to Come to an Agreement

The "Super Committee" has failed to reach an agreement to reduce deficit spending.

In as statement released by the committee's co-chairs, the committee was unable to to come to an agreement and that "after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline."

The stock market reacted to the failure of the super committee as well as the European debt crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 300 points and then staged a small recovery to end still in the red with a 248-point drop.

The President's Press Secretary, Jay Carney had this to say, "Congress assigned itself a job; assigned 12 of its own members a task -- a task that wasn't really that difficult to achieve if there was a willingness to compromise."

In a press conference this afternoon, President Obama, in response to the GOP's action to "defuse the automatic spending cuts in defense spending, said, "I'll veto any effort to get rid of automatic spending cuts if Congress fails to reach a deficit deal."

Defusing the Automatic Budget Cuts for Defense

As the clock ticks towards the deadline for the budget-cutting super committee and nothing has been done by either party, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are now working on legislation to stop the automatic trigger that would cut the defense budget.

The bill would only stop the cuts from occurring in defense while allowing the other budget cuts to take effect. The house is also considering the same thing. Democrats in both houses refuse to allow social programs to be the only items have their budgets cut.

In the face of this new legislation, President Obama has stated that he "will not accept any measure that attempts to turn off the automatic cut trigger."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Occupy Oakland" Protesters Plan on Shutting Down ALL West Coast Ports

As if vandalism and violence were not enough, the general assembly of the "Occupy Oakland" protesters unanimously voted on Friday to launch "a coordinated shutdown of ports on the entire West Coast on December 12."

According to a statement from Occupy Oakland, this move is in “response to coordinated attacks on the occupations and attacks on workers across the nation.”

They went on further to say, “We call on each West Coast occupation to organize a mass mobilization to shut down its local port.”

The Occupy Oakland statement also complained about “continued union-busting and attacks on organized labor, in particular the rupture of Longshoremen jurisdiction in Longview, Washington.”

During a protest by 500 longshoremen in Longview, Washington, they stormed the new $200 million terminal with baseball bats and damaged offices and rail cars, smashed windows and dumped tons of grain from rail cars.

In the statement released by the Occupy Oakland, they said, “Should there be any retaliation against any workers as a result of their honoring pickets or supporting our port actions, additional solidarity actions should be prepared.”

They further stated, “In the event of police repression of any of the mobilizations, shutdown actions may be extended to multiple days.”

"Occupy Wall Street" Leader Enjoying While 5-Star Hotel

Peter Dutro, one of the leaders of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters, and Brad Spitzer, a California-based analyst, spent their time in a 5-Star hotel while their fellow protesters lived in tents.

Spitzer, a 24-year-old analyst for Deloitte, participated in the protests while he spent a week in New York. Deloitte netted $29 billion in revenue last year.

Dutro, 35, one of only a handful of OWS leaders in charge of the movement’s $500,000 in donations, checked in on Wednesday, the night after police emptied Zuccotti Park.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Supercommittee Failure Could Cause Downgrade to US Credit Rating

The bi-partisan congressional committee is responsible for finding $1.2 trillion is budget cuts by November 23rd. However, most economists believe that if the supercommittee fails to come up with a plan, the US credit rating could be downgraded.

Although the deadline is November 23rd, the supercommittee has until Monday to let the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the impact of the cuts to the government.

If the supercommittee fails to come to an agreement and submit their plan, a series of automatic budget cuts will be triggered. The cuts will not occur until 2013 which is after the 2012 elections.

"Occupy San Francisco" Camp Declared a Public Health Nuisance

The San Francisco Public Health Department has declared the "Occupy San Francisco" site in Justin Herman Plaza a public health nuisance on Thursday. Protesters have been asked to leave the plaza; however, they have not budged.

Barbara Garcia, head of the public health department, said that the grassy area is being used by the protesters as a toilet. The areas contains human waste. Conditions for the spreading of respiratory illnesses as well as canine illnesses are present.

The protesters feared that the San Francisco Police Department would forcible evict them. So far, nothing has happened.

Foreign Computer Hackers Attacked Water Plant

In a recently released state report, a water plant in Illinois was attacked by foreign computer hackers last week. The plant was caused to fail. If the report's findings are confirmed, this would be the first known instance that a system that supplies water, power or other essentials.

In blog entry from November 6th, it was reported that there is an increase in the number of cyber-attacks on ICS (Industrial Control Systems). These systems are responsible for controlling valves, doors and routing systems.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are investigating this situation to determine if this attack was perpetrated by hackers. According to the preliminary findings, the cyber-attack may have originated in Russia. The attack caused minor problems that ultimately caused the pump motor to fail.

Industrial Control Systems are thought to be vulnerable to cyber-attack and need to be protected even more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

12-year-Old Boy Pleads Guilty to Dropping Shopping Cart on Woman

One of the two 12-year-old boys accused of dropping a shopping cart four stories on a 47-year-old mother who was buying Halloween candy for underprivileged children pleaded guilty to a charge of felony assault.

The boy admitted to the judge that he held the cart over the edge and knew that people were down there and could be injured.

The boy faces a punishment ranging from probation to 18 months in a state juvenile facility.

Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment Fails in House

After months of campaigning by congressional conservatives for a Constitutional amendment that would require a balanced budget, the bill came to the floor of the House today for a vote and failed.

The vote was 261 in support of the bill to 165 against. Since this bill is proposing an amendment to the US Constitution, a two-thirds majority is requirement which is 284 votes.

Although a few Republicans voted against the bill, the GOP blamed Democrats for defeating the bill.

President Obama and Bush Having Problems with Doors

President Obama, while in Bali for a conference with East-Asian nations, suffered from a problem that President George W. Bush had when he visited.

If you remember, President Bush, after a press conference, used the wrong door to exit. He became fodder for all of the comedy shows and a source of one-liners.

President Obama and his party had difficulty opening a door to enter the official signing of a massive aircraft deal between  Boeing and Indonesia's Lion Air. A secret service agent had to open the door for them. The problem lasted for less than a minute.

Since the event occurred outside of the room, there was no video capturing the moment.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Energy Secretary Chu: Taxpayers Probably Won't See the Money

In his testimony to the House committee, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that taxpayers will probably not see most of the $528 million provided to Solyndra as a government loan. He further stated that the situation was "extremely unfortunate".

Although he did not offer an apology, Chu expressed disappointment and said that the decisions on Solyndra's loan stop with him. He went on to say that he was looking after the taxpayers all along the way.

Chu pointed out that Solyndra went bankrupt due to the sudden drop in price for solar panels partly because of China.

When asked about the restructuring of the loan which placed two private investors ahead of taxpayers, Chu responded by saying that he was responsible for that decision as well.

NYPD Officers Injured During "National Day of Direct Action"

Two New York Police Department officers were injured as the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters marched through lower Manhattan as part of their "National Day of Direct Action".

This protest march was organized to shut down Wall Street by taking their message to the people.

In clashes with police, two officers were injured. One officer's thumb was cut when a sharp object was thrown at him. Another officer had some sort of irritant thrown in his eyes. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital to have his eyes flushed.

Roughly one hundred people were arrested.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on the Hot Seat for Solyndra

Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be on the Congressional hot seat today to answer questions about the Solyndra loan which may need up costing the taxpayer $528 million.

The House committee will also be asking Chu about the restructuring of the loan so that the taxpayers will be last line for repayment while two private investment companies move to the head of the line in the case of default.

There are many unanswered questions about the loan and its restructuring and the events that led the company to declaring bankruptcy and laying off 1,100 employees.

Congress Upset with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

After spending almost $170 billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress is upset after finding out the 12 executives have received over $35 million in salary, compensation and bonuses in two years.

While oil executives are crucified in committee hearings and CEOs scolded for using private jets, executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while losing billions quarter after quarter, are allowed to receive bonus for work that is mediocre at best.

To top that off, both organizations are now asking for an additional $13 billion in government handouts.

When AIG was paying large bonuses to its executives, President Obama, in a 60 Minutes interview, said, "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street."

Greece, Italy and now Spain

Spain will be paying its highest cost of borrowing since the creation of the euro. It will be selling its 10-year debt starting on Thursday as the the European sovereign debt crisis deepens and intensifies.

Spain's Treasury will be selling between 3 billion euros ($4.1 billion) and 4 billion euros of a new 10-year benchmark bond that will take its 2011 borrowing to almost 90% of the targeted amount.

Fears of US banks and their exposure, sent the US stock markets down. The Dow Jones Industrial Averages dropped almost 191 points while the NASDAQ shed almost 47 points. The fear that the European debt crisis is not contained and may seep its way into other global economies is mounting.

Although the financial sector of the markets took the worst hit, all sectors suffered as well. All of the thirty blue chip stocks ended the day in the red except of 3M, which was unchanged.

The Bank of England, fearing the failure of policymakers to reach an effective solution to the European debt crisis, slashed its near-term growth outlook and inflation expectations.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

School Counselor in San Antonio, TX Arrested for "Sexting" Nude Pictures of Herself to a 15-Year-Old Boy

Cynthia Stewart, a 43-year-old Olympia Elementary School counselor, has been arrested and accused of texting a 15-year-old boy and sending him nude pictures of herself. She is charged with receipt of child pornography and solicitation of a minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Stewart was arrested after the boy's parents found correspondence between her and the boy. The correspondence included more than 20 nude photographs of her.

According to Stewart's professional profile on the school website, Stewart is married with an 8-year-old child.

Who is the Largest Holder of US Government Debt?

If you guessed that China is the largest holder of US Government debt, you would be wrong. The largest holder is the Federal Reserve.

In its latest monthly report, the Federal Reserve said that it owned $1.665 trillion in US Treasury securities as of September 28, 2011. That is more than double what it owned a year ago.

China owns $1.1483 trillion in US Treasury securities according to the data published today by the US Treasury Department. Last year, China owned about $339.9 billion more in US Treasury securities than the Federal Reserve at that time. Now, the Federal Reserve owns about $516.7 billion more than China.

US National Debt Hits $15 Trillion

Although few will be celebrating this new staggering figure, the US national debt hits $15 trillion as of the close of business Tuesday.

The national debt has risen $4.41 trillion since President Obama took office and is nearly triple the size of the debt when President George W. Bush took office in 2001.

After the reaching a debt deal during the summer, the federal government can only sustain a total of $15.194 trillion of debt. Given that, President Obama will need to ask Congress to borrow more money.

China's largest credit ratings company, Dagong Global Credit Rating, has already stated that it might downgrade the US credit rating again due to its debt and "addiction" to credit.

The debt now is nearly equal to the project US gross domestic product for 2011.

"Occupy Wall Street" Protesters Planning a "National Day of Direct Action" for Thursday

"Occupy Wall Street" protesters, after losing their camp in Zuccotti Park in New York City, are planning to shut down Wall Street by staging a mass demonstration. This mass demonstration is being called a "national day of direct action" and the protesters are planning on Thursday, November 17th.

They will start at 7AM in Liberty Square to "put an end to Wall Street's reign of terror".

After that, the protesters will fan out into all five New York city boroughs in what is being called "Occupy the Subways". The plan is for the protesters to occupy 16 subway stations in order to take the message to the trains.

Finally, they will go to Foley Square and then march to the Brooklyn Bridge to mark the second month of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.

According to their website, other days of direct action are being planned in other cities around the US and the world.

Other protesters have different ideas about Thursday. In one YouTube video, a protester said, "On the 17th, we’re going to burn New York City to the ground.”

Later in the video, the protest said, "No more talking. They’ve got guns, we’ve got bottles. They’ve got bricks, we’ve got rocks…in a few days you’re going to see what a Molotov cocktail can do to Macy’s."

Postal Service Ends Fiscal Year 2011 with $5.1 Billion Loss

The U.S. Postal Service ended its 2011 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2010 – Sept. 30, 2011) with a net loss of $5.1 billion. The year-end loss would have been approximately $10.6 billion had it not been for passage of legislation that postponed a congressionally mandated payment of $5.5 billion to pre-fund retiree health benefits.

Total 2011 mail volume declined by 3 billion pieces, or 1.7 percent, from 2010. The Postal Service’s largest and most profitable product, First-Class Mail, continued its year-over-year decline, from $34.2 billion in 2010 to $32.2 billion in 2011 (5.8 percent), which dwarfed continued growth in its more competitive products, packages and Standard Mail.

USPS Shipping Services revenue, which includes Priority Mail and Express Mail, increased $530 million in 2011 (6.3 percent). The increase in Shipping Services revenue was driven by strong growth in the Parcel Select and Parcel Return Services, due to increased mailings of packages, as customers continued to use the Internet more often to purchase products. Revenue from Standard Mail increased by $495 million (2.9 percent) on a volume increase of 2 billion pieces (2.6 percent).

“The Postal Service can become profitable again if Congress passes comprehensive legislation to provide us with a more flexible business model so we can respond better to a changing marketplace,” said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe. “To return to profitability we must reduce our annual costs by $20 billion by the end of 2015. We continue to take aggressive cost-cutting actions in areas under our control and urgently need Congress to do its part to get us the rest of the way there.”

Donahoe warned that losses will only accelerate in the coming year. He asked Congress to take swift action to stabilize the troubled agency by paying the $5.5 billion dollars into the U.S. Treasury for future retiree health benefits. The deadline for that payment is Friday.

Other 2011 financial results include:
  • Operating revenue of $65.7 billion compared to $67.1 billion the year before
  • Operating expenses of $70.6 billion compared to $75.4 in 2010
  • The retiree health benefit pre-funding payment postponed by Congress and the President is now due by Nov. 18. Unless additional legislation is enacted, the Postal Service will be forced to default on this payment.
The Postal Service continued to increase operating efficiency in 2011, including a reduction in work hours by 34 million despite an increase of 636,500 delivery points. Its productivity gains were the result of effective workforce management, efficient use of materials and transportation, and continued advancements in the use of technology. Since 2001, the Postal Service has reduced work hours by 28 percent, while delivering to almost 14 million additional addresses.

“The continuing and inevitable electronic migration of First-Class Mail, which provides approximately 49 percent of our revenue, underscores the need to streamline our infrastructure and make changes to our business model,” said Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett. “Since peaking at 213 billion pieces in 2006, our volume has continued to decline each year.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pelosi Aide Calls "60 Minutes" Segment a "Right-Wing Smear"

In a recent "60 Minutes" segment based on a new book, Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Jail, by Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution, several individuals including Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner and Spencer Bachus may have benefitted from privileged information.

Nancy Pelosi's aide, Drew Hammill, called the report a "right-wing smear".

Schweizer contends that members of Congress, through various means, gain information that allow them to invest in companies and profit. Currently, there is no law that stops members of Congress from making investments using information that they have.

If private individuals were to do similar things, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would be investigating those individuals. Should the investigation determine that the individual gained an unfair advantage through the information, that individual would be charged with Insider Trading and face punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment.

According to Donna Nagy, an Indiana University law professor, members of Congress could be prosecuted under current Securities and Exchange Commission rules if they commit fraud involving violation of a fiduciary trust or silence about relevant non-public information.

Facebook Flooded with Porn and Violent Images

Facebook is investigating an unusually high number of incidences of links, images and videos that are either violent or pornographic in nature.

These items, which are in violation of Facebook's Terms of Service, started appearing on Monday. Users of Facebook are upset and have been using Twitter to make their feelings known. Some users have stated that they will quit using Facebook once and for all.

Images of animals being beaten or dead animals have been showing up on pages as well as pornographic images of Justin Bieber in compromising situations. Images and videos of self-mutilation and bestiality have also appeared.

Why is this occurring? At this point, it is not clear why this is happening. Some experts believe that a malicious computer virus may be at the heart of this. Other theorize that "clickjacking" may be to blame.

For user, it does not matter what is causing it. Facebook users are reacting and some will quit Facebook altogether.

"Occupy Wall Street" Protesters Told to Leave Zuccotti Park

At least 70 people were arrested by NYPD after being told to leave the park so that sanitation crews could clean up the park early this morning

Police officers arrived a little after midnight and began handing out eviction notices stating that the protesters need to temporarily leave the park so that sanitation crews could go in and clean up.

The eviction notice stated, "The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard."

It further stated, "We also require that you immediately leave the park on a temporary basis so it can be cleared and restored for its intended use. You will be allowed to return to the park in several hours, when this work is complete. If you decide to return, you will not be permitted to bring tents, sleeping bags, tarps and similar materials with you."
At least 400 police officers stood on all sides of the park. At a little after 2AM, police began to clear the park.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Victim and Suspect in "Occupy Oakland" Connected to Protest According to Police

According to Oakland Police on Sunday, both the victim and suspect involved in last week's shooting were staying at the protest site.

Relatives of Kayode Ola Foster, 25, confirmed to police that he had been camping at the City Hall plaza before he was shot to death last Thursday afternoon.

The suspect was also described as a "frequent resident" of the camp near the protest site.

For more details, click here.

Ex-Boyfriend of Cain Accuser, Sharon Bialek, Speaks Out

In a hastily called news conference in Shreveport, LA, Victor Zuckerman, a pediatrician who dated Sharon Bialek during the time when she was allegedly groped by Herman Cain, spoke out in support of Bialek's allegations.

While standing next to celebrity attorney, Gloria Allred, he stated that he was the one who suggested that Bialek contact Cain for helping in finding a job and go to Washington, D. C to meet him.

Zuckerman and Bialek had met Cain during the association’s annual convention in Chicago. According to their story, Cain invited them to an exclusive party after the group's annual gala dinner.

According to Zuckerman, Bialek, after losing her job at the Education Foundation of the National Restaurant Association, went to visit with Cain. When she returned from her trip, she was upset. When asked about her visit, Bialek told Zuckerman that she had been groped by Cain.

The couple broke up a few months after that.

Cain's wife, Gloria, will appear with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News to answer the allegations.

Famed Graphic Novelist, Frank Miller, Criticizes "Occupy Wall Street" Protesters

Famed graphic novelist, Frank Miller, who created 300, Sin City and the Dark Knight, criticized the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters in a posting on his blog site.

In his post, Miller said that the media has been too soft on the protesters and they need to tell the truth.

Here is part of the blog post by Miller.

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.

Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.

Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.

And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently – must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh – out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.

For the entire posting, click here.

Supreme Court Announced that it Will Hear Challenge to New Health Care Law

The United States Supreme Court has announced that it will hear a challenge to President Obama's health care law. 26 states have challenged it on the grounds of its provision regarding the mandate for individuals to purchase health care plans.

The Supreme Court will not only hear the challenge regarding the mandate but it will also determine the severability of the law.  The question of severability would determine whether or not the law could remain if the mandate is determined to unconstitutional and should be removed.

In addition to these areas, the court will also be reviewing the tax implications regarding the implementation of the health care law.

The case could be heard as early as March which may put the ruling of the court in June, 2012. That would fall in the middle of the 2012 election cycle.

China's Largest Credit Ratings Agency Threatens to Downgrade US Credit Rating

The head of China's largest credit ratings agency, Dagong Global Credit Rating, has threatened to downgrade the US credit rating due to Washington's failure to address its federal budget deficit.

In an interview with al-Jazeera, Dagong's chairman, Guan Jianzhong, said that the agency would lower the US rating yet again due to Washington's inaction in cutting its federal budget deficit. According to Guan, Dagong will continue to monitor the overall projections for 2012. If the sources of payment and liabilities are bad and do not change or change for the worse, Dagong will downgrade the US credit rating.

China is the largest foreigner buyer of US government debt and accounts for one-third of all foreign-held US securities. Since the summer, China has become more vocal about the US "addiction" to debt.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy Protests Clashing with Police, Report of Another Sexual Assault

In Portland, the "Occupy Portland" protesters clashed with police as they defied evictions orders. As many as 3000 protesters and their supporters flooded two city parks starting at midnight as police began to enforce the eviction order and ordered the protesters to disperse.

However, after two hours, the protesters still remained there and continued to stream in to the area. The protests spilled out into the streets and tied up traffic.

In Philadelphia, a woman protester, according to police, at the "Occupy Philadelphia" demonstration was raped in a tent, allegedly by a man who had traveled from out of state to join the protest. The alleged rapist is also wanted for a string of robberies in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In San Francisco, two police officers were injured Saturday afternoon during a march by protesters. One officer was slashed by an unknown female attacker armed with a razor blade. She ran back into the crowd before the officer even knew he had been cut.

A second officer was injured after he had his radio stolen from him. While trying to retrieve it from the unknown individual, another person, a male, blocked the officer and tore his uniform and cut his cheek with an unknown weapon. Both men ran back into the crowd.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Key Findings from the IAEA's Report on Iran's Nuclear Program

The UN's nuclear watchdog organization, IAEA, released its report on Iran's nuclear program. The report shows that Iran is secretly conducting experiments that can only be used to develop a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA reports outlines the following points that have world leaders concerned that Iran is:
  • Secretly procuring design information and equipment needed to develop and build nuclear weapons;
  • Conducting high explosives test and detonator development used in nuclear weapons;
  • Doing computer modeling for the core of a nuclear warhead;
  • Preparing for nuclear weapons testing, and
  • Developing and mounting nuclear warheads on to one of its missile delivery systems, the Shahab 3 intermediate range missile. That missile system has the capability to reach Israel.

Israel has already suspected Iran of these activities and may take action against Iranian nuclear facilities. A senior Foreign Office representative in the British Government revealed that members of its government have been told to expect some sort of military action as early as mid-December or very early in 2012. Sources inside the British Ministry of Defense have confirmed that plans have been completed to support military action should Israel act.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Michigan Medicaid Recipients Pay SEIU Union Dues

In 2006, the Democratic governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, has classified in-home health care providers as public employees of the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) and must, therefore, be considered as union members.

As union members, $30 per month is taken from their Medicaid check as union dues and given to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Although the health care providers are considered union members and must pay their union dues, they do not receive any benefits from SEIU. Additionally, these individuals do not have the ability to opt out of this program.

So far, this program has provided to SEIU with more than $6 million in dues.

Although Michigan's state house has already passed a bill to prevent this sort of rent-seeking by public-sector unions, it has stalled in the state senate. The Republican governor, Rick Snyder, has already ended a similar scheme to provide unions with new "public employees" in the area of child care.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Military Cuts Could Invite Aggression

With the deadline for the congressional deficit committee looming and the possibility that their inaction will trigger the automatic cuts to defense and entitlement increasing, Secretary of Defense Panetta warned Thursday that these automatic cuts could "invite aggression" against the United States.

Panetta is asking the committee to "sacrifice just a little" in order to avoid the cuts to defense that would double the planned $450 billion in cuts planned for the next decade. These cuts would impact personnel, equipment and training that may be needed to address threats from abroad.

Bachmann Speech Disrupted by Protesters

While giving a speech on foreign policy on the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier, in South Carolina, GOP presidential candidate and congresswoman Michele Bachmann was disrupted by 30 protesters who jumped up in unison to shout out scripted messages.

Protesters shouted out, "You cater to the 1 percent!"

After being escorted out by law enforcement officers, one of the protesters who wanted to remain anonymous said, "We're Americans criticizing her. We're just getting our voices heard. She's getting her voice heard. Why can't I have my voice heard?"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cain Accuser, Karen Kraushaar, Rethinks Joint New Conference

Karen Kraushaar, according to Joel Bennett, her attorney, is will not appear publicly unless the other 2 unnamed women who are also accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment agree to come forward as well.

Bennett said that his client did not want to be the focus of all the attention with only Sharon Bialek by her side. Kraushaar would only participate if the other women would join her.

Tuberculosis Shows Up at "Occupy Atlanta" Protest

Fulton County Health Department confirmed on Wednesday that the residents of a homeless shelter where protesters are staying are testing positive for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. Since TB can be transmitted through the air, homeless people and protesters alike may contract this infection.

Over the past three months, there have been to confirmed cases of TB at the shelter with one of the cases having a drug-resistant strain.

Iranian Supreme Leader Warns Israel and US Against Military Strike

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday warned Israel and the United States that Iran's response will be tough should either or both decide to strike Iran militarily over the country's controversial nuclear program.

This threat came 2 days after the International Atomic Energy Agency released its report stating that Iran is suspected of conducting secret experiments for the sole purpose of developing nuclear weapons.

Cain Gets Applause at Debate After Dismissing Sexual Harassment Claims

The audience responded to Cain's response to Maria Bartiromo's question regarding accusations of sexual harassment with cheers and enthusiasm as he once again dismissed the claims made by the four women as untrue and called them "unfounded accusations".

Ms. Bartiromo, while asking a question on health care legislation, began to question Cain's leadership and judgement. The audience responded with booing.

Cain had this to say, "Over the last nine days, the voters have voted with their dollars, and they are saying they don't care about the character assassination. They care about leadership and getting this economy growing and all of the other problems we face."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dow Drops Almost 400 Points on Italy's Debt Crisis

The stock markets took a major beating today with fears of Italy's debt crisis on the minds of investors. The Dow Jones Industrial dropped 394 points while the NASDAQ shed 105 points.

With the sovereign debt crisis sweeping the euro zone like a plague, Italy is its latest victim. The risk to the global financial system has increased. As one of the biggest economies in Europe, Italy's debt problems threatens to push the region into a recession.

Italy's debt is an estimated $2.6 trillion or roughly 120% of its GDP.

White House Holds Off on Christmas Tree Fee

After being ridiculed by critics as a tax on Christmas, the White House has decided to hold off on the 15-cent Christmas Tree Fee announced Tuesday in the Federal Register.

The Christmas industry had lobbied for a fee in order to fund the new Christmas Tree Promotion Board in the Department of Agriculture to improve the image and marketing of real Christmas trees.

The fee of 15-cents would only be paid by vendors who sell more than 500 trees per year. The law would have allowed the vendors to pass the fee on to the customers.

Sex Attacks and Violent Crimes at "Occupy" Protests

Over a half-dozen assaults have been reported across the nation at "Occupy" protest camps. Sexual assaults have also been reported. Authorities fear that many other crimes are going unreported or being covered up by organizers.

Reports for petty thefts, assaults and general violence are on the rise as more and more protesters are becoming increasingly violent. At the site for the "Occupy San Diego" protest, protesters, angered when free food was no longer available or being handed out, began ransacking and vandalizing food carts and attacking street vendors.

Last night in Portland, Oregon, police responded to a call about a Molotov cocktail being set off near the city's World Trade Center.

In Boston, homeless protesters were removed from Dewey Square when stashes of illegal drugs and knives were discovered.

Cain Accuser, Karen Kraushaar, Has History of Filing Workplace Complaints

In an AP Exclusive article, more light is being shed on Karen Kraushaar's past history of filing workplace complaints.

Three years after settling her complaint with Cain at the National Restaurant Association, Kraushaar, now a spokeswoman at the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Justice Department, filed a complaint, with the assistance of her attorney, Joel Bennett, against her manager for circulating a sexually charged emailed in late 2002 or early 2003.

In order to settle the complaint, Kraushaar demanded thousands of dollars in compensation, a promotion on the federal pay scale as well as other items including a one-year fellowship to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Later, she dropped the complaint, because it was "relatively minor".

Bennett has said that Kraushaar will appear in a joint news conference provided that the other women come forward. Neither Bennett nor Kraushaar have disclosed the exact nature and reason for the complaint against Cain.

A Christmas Tree Tax!

President Obama's Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that it will impose a 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas tree sold.

This charge will used to fund a new federal program that is responsible for improving the image and marketing of Christmas trees.

In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).

This mandatory charge is imposed on organizations which sell more than 500 Christmas trees per year. Also, the new law allows the sellers to pass the cost on to the consumer.

The administration cites the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996 as the law that allows for this mandatory fee.

Cain Accusers May Band Together in a Joint News Conference

The attorneys for the "Cain Accusers" said that the women accusing Herman Cain of alleged sexual harassment may band together and hold their own news conference in response to his.

Cain held a news conference to address the allegations and answered questions. In his statement, he said that the incident with Bialek "simply didn't happen."

According to Joel P. Bennett, the Washington attorney for Karen Kraushaar, there will be a joint news conference with his client and as many women who wish to participate.

Bennett stated that there will be advanced notice about the news conference and that he has already been in touch with Sharon Bialek's celebrity attorney, Gloria Allred.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ohio Voters Reject Republican-Back State's Collective Bargaining Law

Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected the state's new collective bargaining law. This law limited the collective bargaining capability of the 350,000 unionized public workers.

Unions and other interest groups spent over $30 million dollars to defeat this law and worked to turn out voters. The largely union-funded coalition, We Are Ohio, depicted the law as a threat to public safety and middle-class workers rather than a fiscal issue. Millions of dollars were spent on television ads with images of police officers, fire fighters, nurses and teachers.

Supporters of the law said that it would control costs and save jobs. The "Building a Better Ohio" committee that supported the law raised $8 million.

The defeat of this law is anticipated to energize the labor movement in preparation for 2012.

Another Woman Comes Forward and Accuses Cain of Sexual Harassment

Karen Kraushaar, a 55-year-old former journalist who currently works for the Obama administration, came forward after being outed by her brother-in-law, Ned Kraushaar.

Kraushaar now serves as a communication director at the Inspector General's office of the Treasury Department. She has held this position since 2010.

According to her brother-in-law, the alleged incident between Cain and Kraushaar happened about 10 years ago.

Sharon Bialek and Celebrity Attorney, Gloria Allred, Make Rounds on Morning Talk Shows

Sharon Bialek, one of the four women who were alleged sexually harassed by GOP presidential front runner, Herman Cain, and her celebrity attorney, Gloria Allred, made their rounds on the talk and news programs.

Last night, Bialek was on with Piers Morgan. This morning she was on with Ann Curry on NBC's Today and on ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopolous. Bialek, with Gloria Allred present by her side, has been on most every program with still more appearances to come.

Bialek wants Cain to come clean and tell the truth for the sake of his wife. She wanted to come forward for the women who could not or would not come forward. When asked about her finances, Bialek pointed out that she was in financial trouble due to medical bills after her mother's death and a custody battle for her 13-year-old son.

How can Bialek afford a high-priced celebrity attorney like Gloria Allred when she has financial problems? Allred told Bialek, "I would be proud to take your case pro bono."

IAEA Report About Iran's Nuclear Program Comes Out

The UN organization which monitors nuclear programs, International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to release its detailed report on Iran's nuclear program this week. It is feared that Iran is still pursuing the development of nuclear weapons which is contrary to its public statements that its programs are for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

With tensions already high in this area, this report will, in all likelihood, escalate tensions even further. Israel's response to Iran's nuclear weapons programs are being discussed. According to sources, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been secretly seeking approval in his government for military action against Iran.

As before, Iran rejects the allegations and once again, states its position for the peaceful use of nuclear power to produce electricity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gallup Poll: Cain and Romney Tied

In a recent Gallup poll, Cain and Romney are tied with each receiving 21% support from Republican supporters nationwide. Newt Gingrich received 12% followed by Rick Perry with 11%.

"Occupy Wall Street" Protesters Erecting Larger Tents in Zuccotti Park

In order to house more people, the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have decided to erect larger tents in place of the small tents to provide shelter for more people.

The smaller tents were set up in violation of park rules. The owners of this privately-run park have not responded to the possibility of larger tents.

Additionally, protesters have marched from Washington Heights to Zuccotti Park in order to drum up more support and people for the movement. This evening they are planning an "Occupy Harlem" event.

A 4th Accuser Comes Out Against Herman Cain

A woman who claims to have been groped by Herman Cain fourteen years ago has come out and is being represented by celebrity attorney, Gloria Allred.

Sharon Bialek, a Chicago resident who worked for the NRA from 1996 to 1997, said that Cain grabbed her after drinks and dinner in Washington, D. C. in the summer of 1997.

According to Bialek, she went to Washington, D. C. to visit with Cain in order to find a new job. It was, she alleges, that during this meeting that Cain tried to force her into a sexual favor in exchange for a job.

Bialek states that Cain offered to show her the National Restaurant Association headquarters. While they were driving to the headquarters, Cain pulled the car over to park. It was during this moment that Cain grabbed her.

“He reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals,” Bialek said.

Occupy Boston: 3 Charged with Dealing Crack Cocaine

Three people were arrested last Thursday night for dealing in crack cocaine inside the Occupy Boston camp.

According to an article by WBZ CBS Boston, there is a growing concern that prisoners who have been recently released are traveling to the Occupy protests for free food and shelter.

Has the peaceful demonstration changed? According to Mayor Menino of Boston, it has.

The mayor had this to say about the people protesting in Dewey Square.

“I just wish that the group that’s demonstrating, not just here in Boston but nationally, will look to where the problems really are,” he said. “The problems are down in Washington. And nobody’s even addressing those issues of what Washington has done to our economy, to job training, to housing, to education. They’re directing their anger at the wrong location.”

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Greece's Prime Minister Stepping Down

Greece's prime minister, George Papandreou, has announced that he would resign as prime minister provided that the 130 billion euro bailout package is approved.

This announcement came after a meeting with Papandreou and Antonio Samaras, the leader of the New Democracy Party. They agreed to form a new government.

The two will meet again on Monday to discuss who will be the next prime minister.

Feds Concerned about Prisons Being Hacked

After researching the possibility, federal authorities discover that the computer systems in US prisons are vulnerable to computer hackers. The hackers could remotely access systems that would open cell doors and release prisoners.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons is taking this research very seriously according Chris Burke, a spokesperson for the bureau.

Prisons as well as most industrial buildings use systems called "Industrial Control Systems" or ICS for short. These systems are used to control most functions inside of a plant or building. Hackers are increasingly targeting these types of systems. In most cases, these systems have very little protection from hackers and can cause major problems.

In 2009, an Iranian nuclear facility was successfully sabotaged by hackers accessing its ICS.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

White House Rejects House's Solyndra Subpoena

The White House responded to a subpoena issued by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce  and the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation by sending a scathing letter back to the Congressional investigators on Friday. The letter stated that the White House will not cooperate with a subpoena requesting documents regarding the $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar panel company Solyndra.

Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich, blasted the White House response:

“We have been reasonable every step of the way in this investigation, and it is a shame that the Obama Administration and House Democrats continue to put up partisan roadblocks to hide the truth from taxpayers. Solyndra was a jobs program gone bad, and we must learn the lessons of Solyndra as we work to turn our economy around and put folks back to work. Our judicious and methodical work over the last eight months has garnered tens of thousands of pages of documents from DOE and OMB that have proven we are on the right track. Now, we need to know the White House’s role in the Solyndra debacle in order to learn the full truth about why taxpayers now find themselves a half billion dollars in the hole. The White House could have avoided the need for subpoena authorizations if they had simply chosen to cooperate. That would have been the route we preferred, and frankly, it would have been better for the White House to get the information out now, rather than continue to drag this out. Our request for documents is reasonable - we are not demanding the President’s blackberry messages as we are respectful of Executive Privilege. What is the West Wing trying to hide? We owe it to American taxpayers to find out.”

For the White House response written by Obama's counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, click here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pelosi: Without $825 Billion Stimulus Package, Unemployment would be 15%

At a press briefing only a month ago, Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader, said that if the stimulus had not been enacted unemployment would have reached 14.5 percent by the time of the November 2010 elections.

Since President Barack Obama signed his $825 billion economic stimulus plan into law in February 2009, the national unemployment rate has risen from 8.2 percent to 9.0 percent. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said at her press briefing Thursday that if the stimulus had not been enacted the unemployment rate would now be 15 percent.

In the report, "Estimated Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Employment and Economic Output from April 2011 Through June 2011", issued by the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus signed by President Obama in 2009 would have the impact of reducing the national unemployment rate between 0.3 points to 1.1 points from what it otherwise would have been.

The report also said that although CBO initially estimated that the stimulus would cost $787 billion, CBO had subsequently increased its estimated cost to $825 billion.

According to the CBO report, 600,000 to 2 million people have jobs as of now that were "created or retained" because of the $825 billion stimulus. If the maximum number of 2 million is accepted, that works out to a cost of $412,500 per job. If the minimum number of 600,000 is accepted, that works out to a cost of $1,375,000 per job.

House Subpoenas White House for Solyndra Documents

Frustrated with the White House's sandbagging and stalling on Solyndra, the House Republicans decided to issues a subpoena to the White House for documents regarding Solyndra yesterday.

In a 14-9 party-line vote, a subpoena was issued yesterday for documents that the White House possesses regarding the now-bankrupt solar panel company, Solyndra.

The company received a $535 million loan guarantee from the government and borrowed $528 million before going bankrupt.

For more information, click here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cain's Campaign Chief of Staff Accused Perry Campaign of Sexual Harassment Claims

Mark Block, Cain's Campaign Chief of Staff, accused Rick Perry's campaign of leaking the story of the 12-year-old sexual harassment claims made while Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association.

Block made this assertion during an interview on Fox News' "Special Report". He called the action taken by Perry's campaign "despicable". He further stated that Perry and his campaign owes Cain and his family an apology.

The Cain campaign suggests the source for that story was longtime GOP consultant Curt Anderson, who worked for Cain's failed 2004 U.S. Senate bid and had been debriefed on the harassment allegations by Cain himself. Anderson now works for Perry.

And Chris Wilson, a former pollster for the restaurant association, said Wednesday he witnessed Cain's alleged inappropriate behavior. He's now involved with a pro-Perry super political action committee.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Germany to Greece: Stick to the Plan

Germany's Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, and other senior officials are urging Greece to stick with the agreed upon plan by the IMF and Euro zone in order to stabilize the economy.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stunned his euro zone partners and shook financial markets by calling a referendum on the planned 130 billion euro bailout package.

This announcement sent the global stock markets into a tailspin on Tuesday.

For more information, click here.

NYC Medically Induced Coma Clings to Life After Being Hit on Head with Shopping Cart

Marion Salmon Hedges, 47 year-old mother of 2, clings to life after being placed in a medically induced coma after being hit by a falling shopping cart. The cart fell 4 stories after being pushed by 2 twelve-year-old boys who were "just doing it for fun" according to one law enforcement source.

Hedges was shopping for Halloween candy for unprivileged children on Sunday with her thirteen-year-old son when the incident happened.

According to sources, the boys, while being taken into custody, were "smiling, laughing and joking" during the process.

For the full story, click here.

New York Cafe Shop Lays Off 21 Workers due to "Occupy Wall Street" Protests

Mark Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe at 40 Wall Street, just let 21 employees go.

Due to the police barricades and the protesters "scaring away" business, Mr. Epstein was forced to lay off 21 people due to the drop in business.

According to Mr. Epstein, “Everything was going in the right direction. Sales continued to grow. We started to build our catering business. Costs were going down. I felt that by October or November we would break even.”

Then, the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters came and his business dropped at this new location on Wall Street.

“I came one Monday morning and I found the exit by the 2 or 3 subway station closed. I saw all these barriers – barricades – all up and down my street,” Epstein said. “At first I thought nothing of it, but after a week… it’s been six or seven weeks now.”

First the first time in the business' 30 years of operation, Mr. Epstein had to lay people off.

For the full article, click here.

"Occupy Wall Street" Protesters Worried About STD, HIV

In an article in the New York Post, the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have been doing more than just protesting. They have not only screaming for "free money and education" but they have been also practicing "free love".

Yes, many of the protesters are engaging in unsafe sex in the tents. In Austin, TX, for example, the City of Austin reported that they needed to clean up the areas by using pressure washers. While cleaning up the mess, they have found used condoms.

Now, the protesters are flocking to local free clinics to get STD and HIV tests on the taxpayers' dime.

For the entire New York Post article, click here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Occupy Dallas" Protester Arrested for Allegedly Sexually Assaulting Teen

Richard Wayne Armstrong, 24, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old runaway in his tent. Armstrong is also a convicted sex offender and failed to register as a sex offender.

He is currently being held at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center.

For more details, click here.

2 Youths Drop Shopping Cart on a Woman from 4 Stories

2 twelve-year-old boys were taken into custody by New York Police after dropping a shopping cart from 4 stories on Marion Salmon Hedges.

Ms. Hedges was out with her thirteen-year-old son buying Halloween candy for unprivileged children East Harlem mall. Her son watched in horror as his mother fell to the ground after being hit on the head by the falling cart.

According to the police, the 2 boys were smiling, laughing and telling jokes while be arrested for the crime.

Ms. Hedges is in a medically induced coma.

For more details, click here.

Bank of America Drops $5 Monthly Debit Card Fee

After having to deal with Senator Durbin's remarks and the fallout from angry customers, Bank of America has decided to drop plans on charging a $5 monthly debit card charge according to a source familiar with the matter.

Starting last week, Bank of America had started working on plans to soften their policy for those who have direct deposit, minimum balances or use their Bank of America credit card.

For more information, click here.

Stocks Markets Tumble with Greek's Vote

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called a referendum and a parliamentary confidence vote, raising the prospect of derailing Europe’s bailout effort and pushing Greece into default. Stocks and the euro tumbled.

Papandreou has been losing popularity with this country with the austerity measures being taken to prevent Greece from going bankrupt.

With these news and the possibility that Greek voters will vote down the European bailout plan, the markets around the world have tumbled.

Dow futures are down by 164 points as of this morning. NASDAQ futures are down a little over 44 points. S&P 500 futures down by almost 26 points.

For details on this vote, click here.