Monday, July 5, 2010

50 Statistics About The U.S. Economy That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe

Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is in bad shape, but what most Americans don't know is how truly desperate the financial situation of the United States really is. The truth is that what we are experiencing is not simply a "downturn" or a "recession". What we are witnessing is the beginning of the end for the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen. Our greed and our debt are literally eating our economy alive. Total government, corporate and personal debt has now reached 360 percent of GDP, which is far higher than it ever reached during the Great Depression era. We have nearly totally dismantled our once colossal manufacturing base, we have shipped millions upon millions of middle class jobs overseas, we have lived far beyond our means for decades and we have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world. A great day of financial reckoning is fast approaching, and the vast majority of Americans are totally oblivious.

But the truth is that you cannot defy the financial laws of the universe forever. What goes up must come down. The borrower is the servant of the lender. Cutting corners always catches up with you in the end.

Sometimes it takes cold, hard numbers for many of us to fully realize the situation that we are facing.

So, the following are 50 very revealing statistics about the U.S. economy that are almost too crazy to believe....

#50) In 2010 the U.S. government is projected to issue almost as much new debt as the rest of the governments of the world combined.

#49) It is being projected that the U.S. government will have a budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars in 2010.

#48) If you went out and spent one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend a trillion dollars.

#47) In fact, if you spent one million dollars every single day since the birth of Christ, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#46) Total U.S. government debt is now up to 90 percent of gross domestic product.

#45) Total credit market debt in the United States, including government, corporate and personal debt, has reached 360 percent of GDP.

#44) U.S. corporate income tax receipts were down 55% (to $138 billion) for the year ending September 30th, 2009.

#43) There are now 8 counties in the state of California that have unemployment rates of over 20 percent.

#42) In the area around Sacramento, California there is one closed business for every six that are still open.

#41) In February, there were 5.5 unemployed Americans for every job opening.

#40) According to a Pew Research Center study, approximately 37% of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have either been unemployed or underemployed at some point during the recession.

#39) More than 40% of those employed in the United States are now working in low-wage service jobs.

#38) According to one new survey, 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

#37) Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008. Not only that, more Americans filed for bankruptcy in March 2010 than during any month since U.S. bankruptcy law was tightened in October 2005.

#36) Mortgage purchase applications in the United States are down nearly 40 percent from a month ago to their lowest level since April of 1997.

#35) RealtyTrac has announced that foreclosure filings in the U.S. established an all time record for the second consecutive year in 2009.

#34) According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings were reported on 367,056 properties in March 2010, an increase of nearly 19 percent from February, an increase of nearly 8 percent from March 2009 and the highest monthly total since RealtyTrac began issuing its report in January 2005.

#33) In Pinellas and Pasco counties, which include St. Petersburg, Florida and the suburbs to the north, there are 34,000 open foreclosure cases. Ten years ago, there were only about 4,000.

#32) In California's Central Valley, 1 out of every 16 homes is in some phase of foreclosure.

#31) The Mortgage Bankers Association recently announced that more than 10 percent of all U.S. homeowners with a mortgage had missed at least one payment during the January to March time period. That was a record high and up from 9.1 percent a year ago.

#30) U.S. banks repossessed nearly 258,000 homes nationwide in the first quarter of 2010, a 35 percent jump from the first quarter of 2009.

#29) For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

#28) More than 24% of all homes with mortgages in the United States were underwater as of the end of 2009.

#27) U.S. commercial property values are down approximately 40 percent since 2007 and currently 18 percent of all office space in the United States is sitting vacant.

#26) Defaults on apartment building mortgages held by U.S. banks climbed to a record 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010. That was almost twice the level of a year earlier.

#25) In 2009, U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in private lending since 1942.

#24) New York state has delayed paying bills totalling $2.5 billion as a short-term way of staying solvent but officials are warning that its cash crunch could soon get even worse.

#23) To make up for a projected 2010 budget shortfall of $280 million, Detroit issued $250 million of 20-year municipal notes in March. The bond issuance followed on the heels of a warning from Detroit officials that if its financial state didn't improve, it could be forced to declare bankruptcy.

#22) The National League of Cities says that municipal governments will probably come up between $56 billion and $83 billion short between now and 2012.

#21) Half a dozen cash-poor U.S. states have announced that they are delaying their tax refund checks.

#20) Two university professors recently calculated that the combined unfunded pension liability for all 50 U.S. states is 3.2 trillion dollars.

#19) According to, 32 U.S. states have already run out of funds to make unemployment benefit payments and so the federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can make their payments to the unemployed.

#18) This most recession has erased 8 million private sector jobs in the United States.

#17) Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of 2010.

#16) U.S. government-provided benefits (including Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs) rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

#15) 39.68 million Americans are now on food stamps, which represents a new all-time record. But things look like they are going to get even worse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that enrollment in the food stamp program will exceed 43 million Americans in 2011.

#14) Phoenix, Arizona features an astounding annual car theft rate of 57,000 vehicles and has become the new "Car Theft Capital of the World".

#13) U.S. law enforcement authorities claim that there are now over 1 million members of criminal gangs inside the country. These 1 million gang members are responsible for up to 80% of the crimes committed in the United States each year.

#12) The U.S. health care system was already facing a shortage of approximately 150,000 doctors in the next decade or so, but thanks to the health care "reform" bill passed by Congress, that number could swell by several hundred thousand more.

#11) According to an analysis by the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation the health care "reform" bill will generate $409.2 billion in additional taxes on the American people by 2019.

#10) The Dow Jones Industrial Average just experienced the worst May it has seen since 1940.

#9) In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.

#8) Approximately 40% of all retail spending currently comes from the 20% of American households that have the highest incomes.

#7) According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two-thirds of income increases in the U.S. between 2002 and 2007 went to the wealthiest 1% of all Americans.

#6) The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.

#5) If you only make the minimum payment each and every time, a $6,000 credit card bill can end up costing you over $30,000 (depending on the interest rate).

#4) According to a new report based on U.S. Census Bureau data, only 26 percent of American teens between the ages of 16 and 19 had jobs in late 2009 which represents a record low since statistics began to be kept back in 1948.

#3) According to a National Foundation for Credit Counseling survey, only 58% of those in "Generation Y" pay their monthly bills on time.

#2) During the first quarter of 2010, the total number of loans that are at least three months past due in the United States increased for the 16th consecutive quarter.

#1) According to the Tax Foundation’s Microsimulation Model, to erase the 2010 U.S. budget deficit, the U.S. Congress would have to multiply each tax rate by 2.4. Thus, the 10 percent rate would be 24 percent, the 15 percent rate would be 36 percent, and the 35 percent rate would have to be 85 percent.

Emergency room visits grow in Mass.

The number of people visiting hospital emergency rooms has climbed in Massachusetts, despite the enactment of nearly universal health insurance that some hoped would reduce expensive emergency department use.

According to state data released last week, emergency room visits rose by 9 percent from 2004 to 2008, to about 3 million visits a year.

When the Legislature passed the insurance law in 2006, officials hoped it would increase access to primary care doctors for the uninsured, which would improve their health and lessen their reliance on emergency rooms for the flu, sprains, and other urgent care. Residents began enrolling in state-subsidized insurance plans in October 2006; everyone was required to have coverage by July 1, 2007.

But, according to a report from the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, expanded coverage may have contributed to the rise in emergency room visits, as newly insured residents entered the health care system and could not find a primary care doctor or get a last-minute appointment with their physician.

David Morales, commissioner of the division, said several national and statewide studies have shown that expanding insurance coverage does not reduce emergency room visits. This is because the uninsured “are not really responsible for significant ER use’’ he said.

The growth in emergency room use predates the health insurance law and mirrors national trends, according to Nancy Turnbull, a senior lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“I don’t think the increase has anything to do with health care reform,’’ she said. “It’s much more reflective of [primary care] access problems.’’

Sarah Iselin, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and a former commissioner of the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, said that even before the state enacted universal health insurance, the uninsured made up only about 10 percent of the state’s population. As a result, she said, “you’d have to see an enormous decrease in their ER use’’ to affect the overall trend. “ER use has been going up every single year for time eternal,’’ she said.

The state report found that the number of emergency room visits climbed at about the same rate in community hospitals and teaching hospitals.

But, the report found, the growth in emergency room use varied widely across the state, for reasons unknown. Emergency room visits at hospitals in Western Massachusetts soared 20 percent over the four-year period, but grew by just 3 percent at hospitals in the northeastern part of the state.

The state said the growing use of emergency rooms has significant cost implications, because private insurers and government programs pay substantially more for a visit to the emergency room than for a doctor’s appointment. Morales said the state needs “to change our payment system to encourage the use of primary care.’’ Better payment for primary care physicians would encourage more doctors to enter the field, he said.

Andrew Dreyfus, executive vice president for health care services at Blue Cross, said changing how doctors are paid could create incentives for them to expand office hours and keep patients out of emergency rooms. Global payments, for example, in which doctors are paid a fixed annual fee intended to cover all of a patient’s care, discourage use of unnecessarily expensive care, he said.

Blue Cross, the state’s largest insurer, has seen a slight decrease in emergency room use among its members over the past year, Dreyfus said. He said that trend could be related to growing use of limited-service clinics, such as CVS MinuteClinics.

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at

Old technology stymies Calif. gov's pay-cut order

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the technology of the future, feared by humans. As governor, he's being foiled by the technology of the past.

For the second time in two years, Schwarzenegger has ordered most state workers' pay cut to the federal minimum wage because lawmakers missed their deadline to fix the state's $19 billion budget deficit. The Legislature's failure to act has left the state without a spending plan as the new fiscal year begins.

A state appellate court ruled in Schwarzenegger's favor Friday, but the state controller, who issues state paychecks, says he can't comply. One reason given by Controller John Chiang, a Democrat elected in 2006: The state's computer system can't handle the technological challenge of restating paychecks to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

Chiang cited Friday's ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeals, which said "unfeasibility" would excuse him from complying with Schwarzenegger's minimum wage order. He said a fix to the state's computerized payroll system won't be ready until October 2012.

Meanwhile, more than 200,000 state workers remain in limbo about the size of their July paychecks while Chiang asks the court for guidance on how to proceed. If wages are indeed cut to $7.25 an hour, employees will be reimbursed once a budget is signed.

At least one expert said the outdated nature of the payroll system should not be an excuse for failing to comply with the governor's directive.

John Harrigan, who served as a division chief for the state's payroll services from 1980 to 2006, said upgrading the system would be complicated, time-consuming and expensive, but it could be done.

Sheep For Slaughter: Is the Elite really trying to KILL us?

There has been much in the mainstream news recently about population control. In fact, there seems to be a concerted effort by the Elite to introduce the idea as a legitimate debate about dealing with the “problem” of over-population. It appears the elite are trying to legitimize these claims using the global warming argument that CO2, which humans exhale, must be minimized at all costs.

Understandably, the notion that a small group of powerful people is consciously and methodically trying to kill off the majority of the population is a tough pill to swallow. Incidentally, people who refuse to question the events of September 11th usually do so for one reason: they don’t want to believe that the conspirators would kill over 3000 innocent people to advance their agenda. However, what has taken place in the aftermath of 9/11 seems to prove the true nature of the Elite in regards to how little they value human life.

For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knowingly lied about the air quality at ground zero, which has caused countless more illnesses and deaths among brave first responders, much like the EPA is now lying about the air quality surrounding the Gulf oil spill. Additionally, the attack on 9/11 spurred America’s preemptive, unprovoked, unsubstantiated wars for profit and resources in Iraq and Afghanistan where an estimated 1.5 million innocent people have been killed.

Concerned researchers have tried to warn the public for decades that depopulation plans were indeed happening in stealth, quoting members of the ruling class like Rockefeller and others who clearly had motivation to implement them.

"If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels." -- Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, leader of the World Wildlife Fund, quoted in "Are You Ready For Our New Age Future?" Insiders Report, American Policy Center, December, 1995.

Or, more recently, Ted Turner, CNN founder and UN supporter told PBS’s Charlie Rose in April, 2008, “We’re too many people; that’s why we have global warming . . . too many people are using too much stuff.” Couple this with his June, 1996 statement well before the general public was aware of “global warming” in the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, “A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal."

In the third world, Turner has contributed billions to population reduction, through United Nations programs, paving the way for others like of Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett. These same figures have also donated vast sums of money to Planned Parenthood and vaccination programs that many have identified as methods of population control.

Now that the public is becoming more aware of the malevolent nature of the Elite, it is becoming easier to believe the evidence of their sinister “population control” plans. These ingenious techniques include poisoning the food, water, air, and drugs as identified in Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb, “One plan often mentioned involves the addition of temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food. Doses of the antidote would be carefully rationed by the government to produce the desired population size (p.130-131).” The Elite’s previously secret “soft kill” methods have been in place for decades and are now verifiable by the general public.

1. Food: GMO (genetically modified organisms) foods that represent around 75% of the American diet, especially non-reproductive “terminator seeds," have proven to cause mass sterilization within only three generations.
2. Water: For decades privately-owned “public” water systems have been chlorinated and fluoridated along with other dangerous chemicals used to dumb us down and sterilize our children.
3. Air: In addition to industry-based air pollution that has caused increased cases of asthma, the air is being strategically poisoned through Chemtrail disbursements of dangerous elements like Aluminum. (Coincidentally, Monsanto has designed aluminum-resistant seeds)
4. Drugs: The Elite are drug pushers, using Big Pharma (and illegal drugs) to pacify the mind and spirit of the public, while inducing diseases through tainted vaccinations, etc.

After years of using humans as cannon fodder abroad and domestic soft kill methods mainly through sterilization programs, it now seems obvious that humans are nothing more than sheep for slaughter to feed the Elite. Behind each one of these methods, we find the same Elite multinational companies working in concert with elements of the government that are supposed to look out for the public’s best interests like the EPA, FDA, and the DHS. Furthermore, we can expect the Elite to ramp up the mainstream population debate under the auspices of Climate Change as the Gulf oil disaster brings Cap and Trade legislation back to the forefront.

A New Declaration of Independence for a New Revolution

America is fast coming to a crossroads from which there will be no return if we take the wrong path. Do we take the road that leads away from America and toward a Euro-esque way of governing? Do we cast aside our American character and bury our great nation in a grave of socialist-styled authority? Do we damn our progeny to a failed superstate that violate every tenet of our original ideals?

I say we do not. I say we reject the democrat’s Euro-esque ideas and refocus ourselves on American exceptionalism. Our federal system has strayed far from our founding ideals and we may soon find that its time for a new Declaration of Independence from a tyrannical government that has usurped power from proper authority.

Since it is Independence Day this weekend, I offer this new Declaration as a rallying cry to all those willing to return to our true American character…

A New Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events it again becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with a failed authority and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God as well as our original, properly constituted laws entitle us, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of we the people; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to repair to their former Systems of Government. The history of the present President, his Congress, and our recalcitrant federal government is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

It has abused its role over the law and instituted fiat rules that are detrimental to the common good — welfare, cap and trade, oppressive taxes, onerous regulation on business are recent examples.

It has forbidden governors of states to pass laws useful to local needs and has interfered in state business.

It has refused the right of local government to govern at home and has as a matter of course caused local legislators to carelessly assume they have no power.

It has defacto dissolved the authority of state governments so that the representatives of the people constantly defer to rule from Washington.

It has refused to secure the borders so that all manner of foreigners of the lowest station might flood these shores without hesitation while refusing to allow those foreigners with useful skills and education to enter and apply for citizenship.

It has allowed capricious courts to usurp proper legislative duties and to rule from the bench.

It has seated judges with no opposition or investigation and has not required judicial candidates to express an interest in the true meaning of the law of the land.

It has erected a multitude of new regulatory offices few of which have any basis in the Constitution and has as a form of graft filled them with friends, lobbyists, and placemen.

It has refused to properly fund our armies in times of peace without including graft and monies unconnected to the needs of our armed forces.

It has therefore interfered with the military stopping it from operating at peak efficiency.

It has conspired with powers outside our duly constituted authority to take away our constitutional rights, to subvert our national laws, and has given assent to forces such as the UN to rule us from afar without accountability. These outside forces are hateful of our system and desire it’s end. Therefore we accuse our government of attacking us from inside.

For positing that UN forces are superior in authority to our own:

For signing treaties inimical to our national interests:

For cutting off free trade with worthy countries such as Colombia, yet opening trade with evil countries such as China:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us of our constitutional rights of property, life, and self-protection at every opportunity:

For creating rules that encroach on freedom of religion:

For increasing the size of government to never before seen size and power in a manner against our founding principles and for purposefully creating chaos in business, banking, and every other area of the private sector with never ending regulations that strangle, confuse, and stifle American growth:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

And for corrupting our legislatures with federal largess and assuming unto the federal government all powers to rule from Washington D.C.

It has abdicated its Constitutional role and essentially come to see the people as an enemy and waged philosophical war against us.

It has plundered our businesses with overweening regulations, capriciously outlawed entire fields of business, and burdened the lives of the people with oppressive taxes.

It has created an army of police, taxmen and regulators to fan out across the land to assault and imprison our citizens, to confiscate lands to federal ownership and to lay waste the economy and bring our people into a form of dependency akin to slavery.

It has often sent our armed forces to foreign nations without a proper mission, held back necessary funding, and burdened it with untenable “rules of engagement” which has limited our troop’s ability to fight to win, and has allowed barbarous enemies to gain the upper hand on the battle field.

It has attempted to separate the citizenry into warring factions yet has allowed our enemy to easily enter the country and perpetrate a merciless Muslim warfare which is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, religions and American institutions and intends enslavement of us all.

In every stage of these violations millions of citizens have gathered in the streets to protest these government outrages yet no heed has been paid to the agony of the people in its hallowed halls.

Nor have we been heard by our Democrat brethren. We have warned them of the destruction of the American rule of law, yet they are uninterested in this plight. We have appealed to their love of country and we have reminded them of the glorious history of our great nation to no avail. They have turned a deaf ear to Constitutionality, a cold shoulder to our American character, and our law and we find their sympathies lie with Europeans instead of their fellow Americans. We must, therefore, consider them enemies of our national interests, safety, health, and welfare.

We, therefore, the representatives of the American tradition and character assemble as citizens proud of our history and institutions, and in the tradition of our national power being held in the hands of the people, assert our loyalty to our true American system. We hold this government to be illegitimate by its usurpation of power and its obviation of our laws. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence that has been rejected by our enemies, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

…Now, let the new revolution begin!

Eco-Terrorism Suspected At Papaya Farm

8,500 Trees Destroyed On Big Island Farm

Laureto Julian said in his 30 years of papaya farming he's never had something like this happen to him before. About 8,500 young papaya trees were chopped in half sometime Wednesday, the fruit left on the ground. It's a loss of about $100,000 for Julian."I cry when I seen that place," said Julian. "I don't understand why they do that to me."One nonprofit bio-tech organization speculated eco-terrorists are behind the destruction -- those who are against genetically-modified crops.The vandalism is eerily similar to the destruction at a papaya farm in Mililani back in May. The bio-tech companies said the damage was too calculated to be simply malicious youth.Julian doesn't know who would do this to him, but he believes it's an act of a jealous farmer, not eco-terrorism.The president of the Papaya Industry Association agrees, especially since Julian's farm is in a very isolated area of Kapoho."Why would anyone go through that much work just to cut someone's papaya trees down and not have the publicity> I don't understand that," said Kamiya.Kamiya said nearly all papaya farmers in Hawaii are growing genetically modified Rainbow papayas, developed in 1998 to resist the devastating ring spot virus."Since 1998, we've been selling papayas in the marketplace, millions and millions of pounds, and not one bad thing, no complaint about it," said Kamiya. "It's completely safe and it's delicious."Jerry Punzal thinks two young men are behind the vandalism on his Mililani farm, but police have not yet made an arrest in the case.Julian said he hopes someone will come forward with information at his farm that will put whoever did this behind bars.Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 808-961-8300 in Hilo and 808-329-8181 in Kona.

Church Office Failed to Act on Abuse Scandal

Diether Endicher/Associated Press

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1982. The office he led, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had been given authority over abuse cases in 1922, documents show and canon lawyers confirm.

In its long struggle to grapple with sexual abuse, the Vatican often cites as a major turning point the decision in 2001 to give the office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the authority to cut through a morass of bureaucracy and handle abuse cases directly.

The decision, in an apostolic letter from Pope John Paul II, earned Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, a reputation as the Vatican insider who most clearly recognized the threat the spreading sexual abuse scandals posed to the Roman Catholic Church.

But church documents and interviews with canon lawyers and bishops cast that 2001 decision and the future pope’s track record in a new and less flattering light.

The Vatican took action only after bishops from English-speaking nations became so concerned about resistance from top church officials that the Vatican convened a secret meeting to hear their complaints — an extraordinary example of prelates from across the globe collectively pressing their superiors for reform, and one that had not previously been revealed.

And the policy that resulted from that meeting, in contrast to the way it has been described by the Vatican, was not a sharp break with past practices. It was mainly a belated reaffirmation of longstanding church procedures that at least one bishop attending the meeting argued had been ignored for too long, according to church documents and interviews.

The office led by Cardinal Ratzinger, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had actually been given authority over sexual abuse cases nearly 80 years earlier, in 1922, documents show and canon lawyers confirm. But for the two decades he was in charge of that office, the future pope never asserted that authority, failing to act even as the cases undermined the church’s credibility in the United States, Australia, Ireland and elsewhere.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, an outspoken auxiliary bishop emeritus from Sydney, Australia, who attended the secret meeting in 2000, said that despite numerous warnings, top Vatican officials, including Benedict, took far longer to wake up to the abuse problems than many local bishops did.

“Why did the Vatican end up so far behind the bishops out on the front line, who with all their faults, did change — they did develop,” he said. “Why was the Vatican so many years behind?”

Cardinal Ratzinger, of course, had not yet become pope, a divinely ordained office not accustomed to direction from below. John Paul, his longtime superior, often dismissed allegations of pedophilia by priests as an attack on the church by its enemies. Supporters say that Cardinal Ratzinger would have preferred to take steps earlier to stanch the damage in certain cases.

But the future pope, it is now clear, was also part of a culture of nonresponsibility, denial, legalistic foot-dragging and outright obstruction. More than any top Vatican official other than John Paul, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who might have taken decisive action in the 1990s to prevent the scandal from metastasizing in country after country, growing to such proportions that it now threatens to consume his own papacy.

As pope, Benedict has met with victims of sexual abuse three times. He belatedly reopened an investigation into the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful religious order — and a protégé of John Paul’s — and ultimately removed him from ministry. He gave American bishops greater leeway to take a tough line on abuse in the United States, and recently accepted the resignations of several bishops elsewhere. And on June 11, at an event in St. Peter’s Square meant to celebrate priests, he begged “forgiveness from God and from the persons involved” and promised to do “everything possible” to prevent future abuse.

But today the abuse crisis is still raging in the Catholic heartland of Europe: civil investigators in Belgium last week took the rare step of raiding church headquarters and the home of a former archbishop. The Vatican under Benedict is still responding to abuse by priests at its own pace, and it is being besieged by an outside world that wants it to move faster and more decisively.

Vatican officials, who declined to answer detailed questions related to Benedict’s history, say that the church will announce another round of changes to its canon laws, as it did in 2001, so that the church can improve its response to the abuse problem.

But the suggestion that more reforms are ahead is a nod to the fact that there is still widespread confusion among many bishops about how to handle allegations of abuse, and that their approaches are remarkably uneven from country to country.

National bishops’ conferences in some countries have adopted their own norms and standards. But several decades after sexual abuse by priests became a problem, Benedict has not yet instituted a universal set of rules.

Scandal and Confusion

The sexual abuse scandal first caught much of the world’s attention in 2002, with reports that the Boston archdiocese had been covering up for molesters for years. But the alarm bells had already been sounding for nearly two decades in many countries. In Lafayette, La., in 1984, the Rev. Gilbert Gauthé admitted to molesting 37 youngsters. In 1989, a sensational case erupted at an orphanage in the Canadian province of Newfoundland. By the mid-1990s, about 40 priests and brothers in Australia faced abuse allegations. In 1994, the Irish government was brought down when it botched the extradition of a notorious pedophile priest.

Small business sidelined in slow recovery from recession

Mom-and-pop firms, usually the first to resume hiring, are stymied by slow demand, the real estate slump and uncertainty about the future.

In every recession over the last three decades, it has been America's small businesses — those Lilliputian companies with fewer than 100 employees — that stepped forward, began hiring and pulled the country out of the mire.

Not this time.

Small firms are on the sidelines, and it's not just because of tight credit from the financial meltdown, as the Obama administration and others have been saying.

Rather, a host of factors — some well-recognized and others seemingly unnoticed in the national debate over economic policy — are converging to restrain small-business owners from hiring.

Among them:

Near-stagnant demand for goods and services as a result of consumers' reluctance to return to their free-spending ways.

A disturbing falloff in the creation of new small businesses.

The devastation of the real estate market.

Uncertainty about the economic outlook at home and abroad.

"Small businesses are not hiring, and until then, we will not have a strong, sufficient recovery," said Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), a member of the House Committee on Small Business. "I think this is why the economic recovery is moving very slowly."

It's a historical change of major proportions. In each of the previous three economic recoveries, small employers accounted for the vast majority of new jobs — the bulk of them coming from firms with fewer than 20 workers, according to Census Bureau data.

Between 1990 and 1993, employers with 1,000 or more workers added 258,000 jobs. Those with 500 to 999 workers shed 102,000 jobs during that period. But the smallest mom-and-pop operations added 860,000 jobs, census figures show.

The contrast was even more dramatic after the deep recession in the early 1980s.

This time around, unemployment levels are worse than in previous downturns, seemingly stuck near 10%, with more dismal news coming in Friday's jobless report for June. That and other recent evidence of economic weakness have increased fears of a double-dip recession.

The fact that many small firms are seeing little increase in demand for their services and products is decisive for Scott George, owner of Mid-America Dental & Hearing Center, which employs 55 people in the southwestern Missouri town of Mount Vernon.

"I'm not having any trouble getting money," said George, who recently got a $250,000 loan to renovate one of his buildings. But he's not hiring more workers because of little or no growth in sales.

"If I got more people coming through the front door, then I'd need more people to take care of them," George said.

Then there is the problem of fewer small companies starting up.

The rate of business creation fell sharply in the last two years but had been dropping since 2005, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a research consortium. Separate government data from states such as California and Florida confirm the trend.

An aging population may explain part of the decline. Typically, it's been people under 30 who have launched firms, but that burden has shifted to older entrepreneurs, said Julio De Castro, lead author of the monitor's U.S. report.

"I look at the long-term trend, and it's not a positive one," he said.

And President Obama's pledges to spur small-business activity and hiring — including boosting government-backed lending and reducing taxes for start-ups — have been slow to be adopted as lawmakers fret about the federal deficit.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank in Chicago, fears the recently passed financial regulatory overhaul could further impede new business formation. " Washington is tightening standards," he said.

In the meantime, the depressed real estate market, which many fear is headed downward again as home sales and construction falter, is exerting indirect but heavy pressure on many small firms.

The connection between real estate values and the health of small businesses has received relatively little attention from most policymakers, but real estate has long been the financial lifeblood of such companies, nurturing profits and expansion.

Nearly all small-business operators own their homes, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, and about half of them own all or part their companies' buildings or land. What's more, the lobbying group found, 4 in 10 small employers also own investment real estate.

These real estate holdings often have generated profits and provided collateral for companies to borrow against for new machinery or other expansion. That's been especially important in entrepreneurial hubs such as Los Angeles and Chicago.

Now, just as many consumers can no longer use their homes as cash machines, many small businesses can't draw on their properties to invest and hire. In a 2008 survey, 22% of small employers told the federation that they had taken out at least one mortgage to support their business operations.

"In olden days, many of the start-ups got financing by refinancing their homes. That's gone," said Sung Won Sohn, a California State University economist.

Sohn recalled a small auto dealer in Los Angeles who made most of his money not by selling cars but by frequently refinancing the mortgage on his lot, which until recently kept rising in value.

It's the same story for many immigrant entrepreneurs who bought hole-in-the-wall restaurants soon after arriving in America, he said. "Because of real estate, they bought homes and went out to eat," pumping up sales and jobs at other mom-and-pop businesses, Sohn said.

Even for small firms that are doing well in this economy, the bleak real estate market is an obstacle to increasing sales and adding staff.

Bob McCutcheon is trying to expand McCutcheon's Apple Products Inc. by building a new retail-office center on his 1.2-acre parcel in Frederick, Md.

McCutcheon has sketches of the three-story center, with a water wheel at the base, a fort-style tower rising high above the roof and an apple design on top. He figures it would cost $7 million to construct and would allow him to add 10 workers to his 30-employee firm.

The problem is he can't find enough other businesses to sign up as tenants inside the 35,000-square-foot building. So the project is on hold. And without tenants, McCutcheon has no plans to bulk up his payroll.

"I'll try to avoid hiring more people," said McCutcheon, whose family has been running the business since 1938. "I'll upgrade my machinery rather than add more people. It's a lot easier to manage machines."

That sort of thinking, of course, isn't unique to McCutcheon or to small businesses. Squeezing more output from existing workers — that is, increasing productivity — has been a central strategy for most businesses for years, including the corporate giants.

Adding to the uncertainties for businesses of all sizes are the shaky global economy and the prospects of higher taxes to deal with the federal deficit and higher costs to deal with healthcare and the recent government overhaul of financial regulations.

The upshot is that the typical small-business owner sees a lot of reasons to sit tight.

Joy Staveley of Flagstaff, Ariz., said it was clear to her why people are more scared to take a risk on a new business: There are more regulations, taxes and government-mandated costs — and fears of more to come — with President George W. Bush's tax cuts expiring soon, new healthcare rules and pending legislation on energy.

"I've seen poor economies in the past, and I can deal with it," said Staveley, who with her husband has been running Canyoneers, a Grand Canyon river-rafting business, for 30 years. "But what I can't get through is a runaway government."

Such sentiments are not uncommon among many small-business operators, the bulk of them conservatives who believe Washington does not understand or respond to their needs.

"I really feel small businesses have been put on the back burner," said Mike Bailey, owner of Car Doctor, an auto-repair shop in downtown Oklahoma City.

Business has picked up this year, Bailey said, and he's prepared to add workers if he can expand into a bigger place. But he admits to being gun-shy.

"To be frank, I'm a little timid," he said. "We experienced fast growth in the '90s, and then we experienced the worst of the worst. It really keeps me from investing."

Illinois Stops Paying Its Bills, but Can’t Stop Digging Hole

CHICAGO — Even by the standards of this deficit-ridden state, Illinois’s comptroller, Daniel W. Hynes, faces an ugly balance sheet. Precisely how ugly becomes clear when he beckons you into his office to examine his daily briefing memo.

He picks the papers off his desk and points to a figure in red: $5.01 billion.

“This is what the state owes right now to schools, rehabilitation centers, child care, the state university — and it’s getting worse every single day,” he says in his downtown office.

Mr. Hynes shakes his head. “This is not some esoteric budget issue; we are not paying bills for absolutely essential services,” he says. “That is obscene.”

For the last few years, California stood more or less unchallenged as a symbol of the fiscal collapse of states during the recession. Now Illinois has shouldered to the fore, as its dysfunctional political class refuses to pay the state’s bills and refuses to take the painful steps — cuts and tax increases — to close a deficit of at least $12 billion, equal to nearly half the state’s budget.

Then there is the spectacularly mismanaged pension system, which is at least 50 percent underfunded and, analysts warn, could push Illinois into insolvency if the economy fails to pick up.

States cannot go bankrupt, technically, but signs of fiscal crackup are easy to see. Legislators left the capital this month without deciding how to pay 26 percent of the state budget. The governor proposes to borrow $3.5 billion to cover a year’s worth of pension payments, a step that would cost about $1 billion in interest. And every major rating agency has downgraded the state; Illinois now pays millions of dollars more to insure its debt than any other state in the nation.

“Their pension is the most underfunded in the nation,” said Karen S. Krop, a senior director at Fitch Ratings. “They have not made significant cuts or raised revenues. There’s no state out there like this. They can’t grow their way out of this.”

As the recession has swept over states and cities, it has laid bare economic weakness and shoddy fiscal practices. Only an infusion of federal stimulus money allowed many states to avert deep layoffs last year.

Cuts in Work Forces

The federal dollars are nearly spent. Last month, local governments nationwide shed more than 20,000 jobs. Should the largest struggling states — like California, New York or Illinois — lay off tens of thousands more in coming months, or default on payments, the reverberations could badly damage a weakened economy and push housing prices down still further.

“You’re not seeing these states bounce back, and that could be a big drag on the national economy,” said Susan K. Urahn of the Pew Center on the States. “It could be a very tough decade.”

In Illinois, the fiscal pain is radiating downward.

From suburban Elgin to Chicago to Rockford to Peoria, school districts have fired thousands of teachers, curtailed kindergarten and electives, drained pools and cut after-school clubs. Drug, family and mental health counseling centers have slashed their work forces and borrowed money to stave off insolvency.

In Beardstown, a small city deep in the western marshes, Ann Johnson plans to shut her century-old pharmacy. Because of late state payments, she could not afford to keep a 10-day supply of drugs. In Chicago, a funeral home owner wonders whether he can afford to bury the impoverished, as the state has fallen six months behind on its charity payments, $1,103 a funeral.

In Peoria — where the city faced a $14.5 million gap this year and could face an additional $10 million budget hole next year — Virginia Holwell, a trainer of child welfare caseworkers, lost her job when the state cut payments to her agency. She sits in her living room high above the Illinois River and calculates the months of savings left before the bank forecloses on her house.

“I’ve got enough to last until the end of August,” she says, matter-of-factly. “I’m 58 and I’m pretty good at what I do, and I got to tell you, I’m pretty devastated.”

Youtube video captures undercover 'agent provocateurs' assaulting man at Montreal protest

Police "agents provocateurs" attempt to infiltrate family-friendly march in Montreal; MPP Amir Khadir denounces police tricks

Montreal, 3 July 2010 -- A man arrested at Thursday's march against police repression around the G20 Summit has come forward to reveal that he was assaulted by undercover "agents provocateurs" when he attempted to film them.

While 1,000 Montrealers, including many parents with young children, marched to denounce the abusive police treatment of G20 protestors, Montreal police apparently attempted to introduce agent provocateurs into the march. The provocateurs were spotted trying to enter the march on Sherbrooke Street, but were forced out by attentive march organizers. Two videos of the group of provocateurs were posted on youtube on Friday:

"They were big guys, looking like thugs. In fact, they looked very much like the police provocateurs who were caught on video carrying rocks at the protest against the Security and Prosperity Partnership in Montebello, Quebec in August 2007," stated Scott Weinstein, who decided to bicycle over to film the group when informed of their presence.

When he caught up to them, the provocateurs were walking one block east of the march, on St-Dominique, parallel to most of the children and babies who tended to be near the end of the march.

"The police had no business playing these games and threatening violence, especially when so many children were present," explained Weinstein, a health care worker and photographer. "Their strategy is totally unacceptable."

The group quickly surrounded Weinstein, grabbed him and attempted to take his camera from him. He refused to let go. They dragged Weinstein to the sidewalk and kneed him until he could no longer hold onto the camera. "I knew they wanted to erase the evidence, especially since I didn't hide I was filming them. I made sure not to touch them, instead I tried to protect myself in a fetal position and screamed for help."

Janet Cleveland, a psychologist, was leaving the march and returning home when she heard screams. "I saw 5 or 6 burly young guys dressed in black forming a tight circle around someone, holding his hands behind his back and pushing his face to the pavement while he screamed for help. It was scary - my first thought was that they might be skinheads beating somebody up. There was no way to tell the difference. But they told me that they were police and that I should stay away."

Cleveland stayed to watch as Weinstein was forced into a police car and then alerted Quebec Solidaire MPP Amir Khadir, who also attended the march. Khadir intervened with the police immediately after the arrest to denounce the arbitrary, abusive and illegal character of Weinstein’s arrest.

“Quebec citizens expect the police to respect the democratic rights of people who demonstrate”, stated Khadir. “Dissent and opposition are not only permitted in this country, but must also be protected and celebrated. I am particularly proud of people like Scott who protest peacefully to denounce the abuse and violence of police repression in Toronto. It is unacceptable that Montreal police use the same tricks that led to the excesses of the security agencies in Toronto,” he stated.

Three police ethics commission reports in April 2010 found that filming the police is legal.

Weinstein was released the same evening but faces bogus charges of assault with a weapon. According to a police spokesperson, his bicycle was the weapon. However, as events revealed, Weinstein's real "weapon" was his camera: when police returned it to him, all video and photo material had been erased.

Luckily for Weinstein, a bystander caught the incident on camera and posted it to youtube. Weinstein is trying to get in touch with this person.

Breaking: Obama shuts down 33% of the country’s oil refining capacity

Whereas Obama is trying to crush Arizona by suing it into the ground to prevent it from defending itself from illegal immigration, and it is preventing any clean up efforts in Louisiana after 71 days, it has just been learned from one of our conatcts in Texas that Obama by way of the EPA has just shut down today 33% of the country’s refining capacity.

While Obama was unsuccessful at putting a moratorium on oil drilling, he was able to accomplish the same thing by putting a stranglehold on oil refining which accomplishes the same thing. With 1/3rd of the country’s oil refining gone what do you think this will do to the economy? This was the inherent threat that Obama had presented for months. Either give him Cap and Trade or we will shut everything down through the EPA.

What do you think this will do to the economy of Texas.

Let’s recap what has happened in the last 90 days.

Obama is going after Arizona and trying to cut off all border security aide while suing the state even though the state of Missouri has had the identical Arizona immigration law for the last five years.

He is making no attempt to stop the oil leak in Louisiana. This is now affecting the economies of Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Florida.

He is going after Texas and with this double whammy of shutting down the refineries and the oil spill the state that was doing the best in the country is now being taken down.

So far Obama has completely trashed five states and is in the process of destroying their economies. What chance do you think there is of a recovery

Hope and change! Totalitarianism is here!

Nixon and Kissinger joked over Chile assassination

President Richard M. Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, joked that an “incompetent” CIA had struggled to successfully carry out an assassination in Chile, newly available Oval Office tapes reveal.

At the time, in 1971, Nixon and Kissinger were working to undermine the socialist administration of Chilean President Salvador Allende, who would die during a U.S.-backed military coup two years later.

One of the key figures to stand in the way of Chilean generals plotting to overthrow Allende was the Chilean army commander-in-chief, Rene Schneider, who was killed during a botched kidnapping attempt by military right-wingers in 1970.

The question of the CIA’s role in Schneider’s death has been hotly debated for decades.

The new tapes won’t end the argument, but they add persuasive evidence that the CIA was at least trying to eliminate Schneider, and perhaps with the connivance of Nixon and Kissinger.

The key exchange between the president and his national security adviser occurred on June 11, 1971.

They were discussing another assassination in Chile, this time of one of Allende’s political adversaries, former Christian Democratic party interior minister Edmundo Pérez Zujovic, who was murdered on June 8, 1971, by an extreme leftist group.

On learning that some in the Chilean press had blamed the CIA for the Zujovic killing, Nixon reacted with disbelief. Kissinger joked that the CIA was “too incompetent.”

Kissinger: They’re blaming the CIA.
Nixon: Why the hell would we assassinate him?
Kissinger: Well, a) we couldn’t. We’re—
Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: CIA’s too incompetent to do it. You remember—
Nixon: Sure, but that’s the best thing. [Unclear].
Kissinger: —when they did try to assassinate somebody, it took three attempts—
Nixon: Yeah.
Kissinger: —and he lived for three weeks afterwards.

“The comments seem to fit the facts of what we know from congressional investigations of CIA covert actions at the time about the Schneider assassination [and] contradict official denials of a CIA role,” says John Dinges, author of two books on Chile, including “The Condor Years.”

“Two Chilean groups, both with ties to the CIA, carried out three attempts to kidnap the general, and on the third attempt shot him. He languished for three days (not three weeks) before dying on October 22, 1970,” Dinges added.

"Kissinger’s denial, in his book and in statements to Congress, alleges that the CIA had broken off contact with the group before it carried out the third and successful attempt against the general. The clear language of Kissinger’s remarks to Nixon, and Nixon’s affirmation of his comments, is that the assassination-kidnapping was a CIA operation," Dinges said.

"That is a perfectly reasonable inference by an expert on Chile and Latin America,” said Richard Moss, one of the scholars who uncovered this and several other Nixon White House tapes for But he added, “We think the tape itself is suggestive but not conclusive."

For its part, the CIA said there was nothing new in the tape, one of 3,700 hours worth of recordings between mid-February 1971 and July 1973, mostly in the Oval Office. During most of that time, Allende was Chile’s elected president.

Agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano disputed the interpretation offered by Dinges, a former NPR managing editor and now the Godfrey Lowell Cabot Professor of Journalism at Columbia University.

“This incident from October 1970 -- almost 40 years ago -- has been, as I understand it, thoroughly dissected, examined, and investigated,” Gimigilano said in response to a query. “And now, based on someone’s interpretation of part of a conversation, it’s time for a completely different conclusion? Give me a break.”

Kissnger could not be reached for comment late Friday.

7.9 million jobs lost, many forever

The recession killed off 7.9 million jobs. It's increasingly likely that many will never come back.

The government jobs report issued Friday shows that businesses have slowed their pace of hiring to a relative trickle.

"The job losses during the Great Recession were so off the chart, that even though we've gained about 600,000 private sector jobs back, we've got nearly 8 million jobs to go," said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of Economic Cycle Research Institute.

Excluding temporary Census workers, the economy has added fewer than 100,000 jobs a month this year -- a much faster and stronger jobs recovery than occurred following the last two recessions in 2001 and 1991.

But even if that pace of hiring were to double immediately, it would take until 2013 to recapture the lost jobs. And the labor market very likely doesn't have years before it gets hit with the shock of the inevitable next economic downturn.

"It's virtually certain that the next recession will come before the job market has healed from the last recession," said Achuthan. (Read 'Stimulus: The big bang is over')

More frequent recessions: Despite signs of slowing economic growth, Achuthan is not predicting that the U.S. economy is about to fall into another downturn later this year.

But a combination of a slower growth and greater volatility is a prescription for as many as three recessions over the upcoming decade, he said.

"We've entered a era where the United States will see more frequent recessions than anyone is used to," Achuthan said.

One of the big problems is that many of workers who have lost jobs were in industries that are not likely to recover their former strength.

"We've got the wrong people in the wrong place with the wrong skills," said John Silvia, chief economist with Wells Fargo Securities. He said construction workers in California or Florida and auto workers in Michigan will have to relocate and retrain to find new jobs.

"As many as half the people who lost their jobs will have to find something else to do," said Silvia.

Home building lost nearly 1 million jobs since the start of 2008, while the auto industry shed 300,000 manufacturing jobs due to plant closings. The finance and real estate sectors lost more than 500,000 jobs.

"Those are the areas with the biggest bubbles, and so it's not a surprise that those are the areas with some of the biggest job losses," said Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings, a provider of specialized career web sites. "Many of the jobs we lost are never coming back."

More new workers: And recapturing the lost jobs fixes only part of the problem.

The nation's working-age population grows by about 150,000 people a month. So the hole is deeper than it looks.

It would take the creation of 10.6 million jobs immediately for the same percentage of the population to be working as was the case three years ago.

Of course, it will take time to create jobs. If it takes three years, more than 3.5 million additional jobs will be needed because of continued population growth.

The unemployment rate is currently 9.5%. A return to the 4.4% rate it was the summer before the recession started in 2007 is out of reach.

In fact, the Federal Reserve, in its latest forecast, predicts that unemployment will stay around 7% or above through 2012, and in the 5% to 5.3% range in the long-run.

Homeless in Waimanalo see more people in the area

WAIMANALO, Oahu (HawaiiNewsNow) - The homeless at Waimanalo Beach Park say more people are moving in and now, they say they're the target of a homeless sweep.

Some regulars there say the number of people living there has grown from 20 to about 80.

They blame either the recent homeless sweeps across the island or just the unwelcoming economy.

Camping for Fourth of July weekend is a tradition shared by many throughout the state.

Campers at Waimanalo Beach Park are not here for that tradition. Instead, it's a homeless camp that they fear may be cleared soon, after seeing some growth spurts.

"The cost of living goes up, pay wages stay down, people got to work 2-3 jobs just to pay the bills, that's rough," Waimanalo Beach Park resident Dennis Alfafara said.

Alfafara has lived here for a little more than a year. He fell on some rough times, after quitting his job at Sea Life Park.

But he tries to stay afloat by umpiring youth baseball games and playing in a band.

"Do you like being homeless?" Hawaii News Now asked.

"Not really, eh but it's temporary, what can we do, our people back then lived on the beach, just gotta survive," he said.

State lawmakers say the sweeps must continue, but there needs to be an alternative place to put them.

"You take them out of Waimanalo Beach, you'll see them in Makaha, in Maili, Ala Moana Park, underneath freeways," State Representative Rida Cabanilla said.

State Representative John Mizuno says there needs to be a place that's designated for the homeless.

"I think it would be a win-win situation for all of us, mainly a place built next to human services or public assistance," Mizuno said.

Alfafara says police have done a few sweeps in Waimanalo already, mostly looking for permits or drugs.

"They're not hostile, they're doing their job, they come in and we know them, their faces and names and they know us," he said.

Crackdowns on the homeless in Ala Moana Beach Park and in Kapiolani Park have forced some to move elsewhere.

That elsewhere, according to some homeless in Waimanalo, is at their campground.

"We don't starve, churches come, bring us hot food, Salvation Army, every Wednesday, there's hot lunch, we have food banks up the ying yang, we cannot starve," Alfafara said.

Honolulu City and County officials have not confirmed when or if there'll be a homeless sweep in Waimanalo.

But there is one scheduled for an area known as "Guardrails" in Maili on July 19th.

"Homelessness sometimes is a lifestyle, some people feel sorry for them, but those people are homeless, a lot of them don't feel sorry for themselves, they feel it's they way to go, it's destiny," Cabanilla said.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Fears over Lebanon confrontations

A spate of clashes between the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon and local residents has sparked fears that Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia political party, is unhappy with military exercises being carried out in the area.

The past two weeks have seen a series of confrontations between villagers and Unifil peacekeepers in the south of the country, where Israel fought a devastating month-long war against the Hezbollah in 2006.

On Saturday, a Unifil patrol was pelted with rocks by villagers, who seized the peacekeepers' weapons and injured their patrol leader.

The clash came two days after Michael Williams, the UN special co-ordinator for Lebanon, said he was "very concerned" by a recent pattern of similar incidents.

"Some of these may have been something spontaneous in the street, but some were clearly organised," Williams said on Thursday, as Lebanese newspapers described an "explosion of protest" over the past fortnight.

Hezbollah is well-supported in southern Lebanon and analysts believe that the confrontations could indicate that the group is unhappy with recent military exercises carried out by the UN force, which is mandated by security council resolution 1701 to stop the flow of weapons into southern Lebanon.

In an assessment of how the mission was going, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said on Friday that claims from Israel that Hezbollah has obtained scud missiles had "increased tension" in the region.

Pressure building

Elias Hanna, a retired general in the Lebanese army, told Al Jazeera that Hezbollah is feeling both international and local pressure.

"Hezbollah feel that there is a lot of pressure on them. Israel is really spying on them at the micro-level following the 2006 war," he said, adding that the UN force in the Hezbollah's heartland is seen as an "unwelcome guest" by the group.

"The situation in 2006 obliged Hezbollah to accept Unifil, but Unifil is helping to achieve what the Israelis want," he said.

"If you implement 1701 word for word, it means you are denying Hezbollah the ability to act. It means you are choking Hezbollah. They will not allow it."

The Shia group, which is credited with ending Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon and claimed a 'divine victory' over their arch-foe in the 2006 war, enjoys huge support in the area.

Hezbollah officials could have given the nod for residents to challenge the authority of peacekeepers, Timur Goksel, a former Unifil staffer with more than two decades of experience in south Lebanon, said.

"If for any reason Hezbollah have a gripe against the UN, they can easily mention it and local people will take action. It gives Hezbollah plausible deniability," he told Al Jazeera.

But he said it was unclear what exactly was behind the recent incidents.

"It's difficult to read. Maybe they feel a threat from exercises in that area," he said.

"Unifil's actions could have been misinterpreted by Hezbollah and its very easy for them to motivate the local people to react like this."

'Regular activity'

Unifil have said that the exercises are "regular activity" with no special operations and that the Lebanese army had been fully informed.

But the government in Beirut said in a statement that the peacekeepers
should co-ordinate with the Lebanese military and "execute all exercises in collaboration with the army."

Hezbollah has denied being behind the unrest, but in an interview with the As-Safir newspaper on Friday, Naim Qassem, the group's deputy leader, described Unifil's recent exercises as "suspicious".

He said that the peacekeeping force should "pay attention to what they do, and be aware that excesses cause concern," to the local population.

"What they have done lately has worried the people," he said.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Raad, a Hezbollah MP, insisted that people in southern Lebanon "do not have a negative attitude" towards the peacekeepers, and have proven "they can live with those forces" in the area.

The Political Whores Of Washington

Last week, 338 members of the US House of Representatives signed a petition calling on President Obama to veto any resolution by the United Nations denouncing the murderous Israeli raid on the Gaza freedom Flotilla on 31 May, in which 9 Turkish peace activists were brutally but needlessly killed.

“We urge you to continue to use US influence and, if necessary veto power, to prevent any biased or one-sided resolutions from passing.” The petition, sponsored by Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gary Peters (D-M) viewed the naked Israeli assault, which occurred in international waters, as an act of self-defense. “We believe that it is in the national security interests of the United States to unequivocally reiterate that the US stands behind its longtime fried and ally.”

A similar letter signed by 87 US senators was also sent to President Obama, urging him to uphold Israeli interests irrespective of any other consideration.

In fact, the two letters stopped short of demanding that the US back Israel right or wrong, even if that proves detrimental to American national interests, including national security.

In the final analysis, we are talking about a breed of unprincipled politicians who would have us believe that Israel makes no mistakes, does no wrongs, and commits no crimes.

This is an optimal embodiment of political whoredom in America. Nothing else can sufficiently describe the moral blindness plaguing the US government as a result of this rampant manipulation of American politics.

Congress is undoubtedly the citadel of Zionist power in the United States. After all, we are talking about a vicious, secretive clique that has succeeded in utilizing the most powerful country on earth in order to expedite the Nazi-like goals of Zionism, namely to annihilate the national existence of the Palestinian people by completing the process of swallowing up their ancestral homeland.

Congress does represent the core of political corruption in America where a few Jewish tycoons have thoroughly corrupted the American political discourse, by transforming most of America’s politicians into willing political whores without any modicum of moral conscience, readily bowing before Jewish money and Jewish pressure.

Congress is more than just blind and misguided when it comes to Israel. It is actually malicious and dishonest.

Having unhesitatingly backed every Israeli crime (Israel itself can be described as a huge crime against humanity) so consistently, so totally and so enthusiastically caricatures a body that is decidedly immoral, mendacious and nefarious.

Congress may occasionally come up with arguments justifying its total embrace of Israeli Nazism. However, most serious pundits know too well that these arguments are too superficial, bereft of truth, and void of substance.

I am quite sure that most of these senators and congressmen know deep in their hearts that Israel is a criminal state that murders innocent children and lies about the murder.

They know that Israel practices racism and apartheid in the most pornographic manner. They know that Israel deliberately and constantly breaks the rule of international law. They know that the modus operandi of Israeli policies is nearly totally incompatible with declared American ideals, such as the First Amendment freedoms and equality before the law. They should also know much more about the brutal ugliness of Zionism.

However, because of cheapness of character, moral cowardice and fear of standing up to the Zionist ghoul enslaving America, the American lawmakers just content themselves with being “yes-men and yes-women” in the service of the lobby. After all, when money appears, heads bow, as Saadi Shirazi said.

This clarion moral failure in upholding moral responsibility has already corroded and is corroding America’s moral standing throughout the world. True, America is still being viewed as an economic and military giant. But America is also increasingly being viewed as moral midget.

The robber barons of Israel have already succeeded in brining about the moral downfall of America. It is only a matter of time before they succeed in bringing about America’s final downfall.

Well, I know that many would think that I am indulging in hyperboles. None the less, it is amply clear that a country that either fervently supports or just keeps silent in the face of Nazi-like atrocities in Gaza has lost its moral compass.

And when a country does lose its moral compass, it is finished no matter how many years its demise is postponed. It doesn’t matter if the ultimate downfall occurs today or tomorrow or even the day after. The important thing is that it places itself on a sure track leading to self-destruction. Remember, the Soviet Union went down not for a dearth of missiles and tanks, but rather for the loss of a moral fabric.

I have no doubt that Israel and its tribal supporters in Washington are taking America to the moral abyss. In fact, the US is already languishing in an abyss of moral confusion as a result of the Zionist stranglehold on the American government.

Thanks to Zionist bullying and manipulation, the US was made to invade and occupy two sovereign countries, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people, including many American young men and women.

Now, Israel’s firsters would like to see America declare war on a third Muslim country in order to enable Israel to retain nuclear supremacy in the Middle East.

In short, Israel and its tribal supporters are hell-bent on transforming the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims into avowed enemies of the United States, all in order to enable Israel to arrogate more Palestinian land and liquidate the enduring and just Palestinian cause.

America can inflict a lot of damage on Muslims. However, a prolonged confrontation with the Muslims of the world would dissipate American power and squander American resources. This is how great empires meet their ultimate demise.

And America’s is looming.

4th of July: From Celebration of Independence to Acceptance of Slavery?

Fireworks remain the symbol of neverending war while we sing the anthem of death and destruction.

It can be argued that the American war of independence against the British was the last just war in our history. You could add the War of 1812 when the English and European bankers took a stab at regaining central control but that's it. We as a country were never threatened by external forces beyond that point. The threats were always internal. Bankers, corporations, corrupt politicians and their willing allies who hoped to gain favor and profit rigged the system.

Some will continue to say that the Civil War, WWI and the 'good war' WWII had to be fought to preserve our freedom. The only freedom won in these conflicts was for the few to be able to count their money unhindered and to impose taxes and fear on the 'small people.'

The winds of war today are pushed along by media propaganda and an extensive network of social engineering psychopaths deeply funded by ultimately the bankers.

The pawns are the soldiers and the working classes who are forced to pay for it all through the system of what could be called indentured servitude. We are conditioned to think that we don't have a choice. Pay the taxes of death or go to prison ... or worse.

In reality this cannot continue. The debt of war and extorted payments to the banks and the corrupt traitors that enforce their rules are too great for our country to survive. Maybe that's the plan? The American people are the biggest threat to a global order. Destroying us leaves what is perceived by the planners as an open road to world wide central control.

What we are facing today is not all that different from July 4, 1776. The enemy is essentially the same, only the technology and some of the techniques of propaganda have changed. Slavery of the population is still the end game. Depopulation of the 'useless eaters' also comes into play.

What we can do on this 4th of July is to reinforce the idea of independence. Many of our friends and neighbors need a little help. They are having a hard time seeing the enemy within for the distractions of the failing economy and the threat of 'events' such as the Gulf disaster and the brain numbing repetitive rhetoric of 'terrorism' and the false celebrity culture.

Perhaps over that burger and beer and the figurative 'bombs bursting in air' you can plant a seed of dissent towards the powers that be or as some call them the powers that think they be. Isn't it our duty to do so?

Just say it. No war with Iran, bring our troops home, end the Federal Reserve and their enforcement arm the IRS, clean up our environment messes and work to decentralize our energy monopolies, keep our communications and internet free from totalitarian repression, kick out the traitors in government, imprison the criminals at the top, America first with no foreign influence (insert Israel here). You can ad lib with a few more independent concepts that you are concerned with.

If we don't do something soon, the potential for another independence day dims.

We can have the numbers. All we lack is the will and strategies to take our country back.

Have a safe 4th and don't be afraid to speak your mind. I think our lives depend on it.