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December 5, 2008

533,000 Jobs Cut Across Nation in November

The recession deepened in November as U.S. employers cut 533,000 more jobs across several sectors of the economy, according to the Washington Post and Reuters.

Dipping to the worst rate in 34 years, job losses were far worse than anticipated, according to Reuters.

“’You can’t get much uglier than this. The economy has just collapsed, and has gone into a free fall,’? Richard Yamarone, Argus Research chief economist in New York, told Reuters.

Job losses were reported in industries ranging from construction, computers, auto dealers, clothing stores, banks and insurance companies the Washington Post reported.

“Each of those lost jobs represents a personal crisis for a family somewhere in America,? President-elect Barack Obama said in a statement reported on by the Washington Post.

Obama’s team is devising a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over two years, according to the Washington Post.

The current unemployment rate which rose from 6.5 percent to 6.7 percent does not fully reflect the 422,000 who left the job market and are not actively seeking work. It also does not take into account the 7.3 million reported employees who are working part-time in lieu of full time work, according to the Washington Post.

November 23, 2008

Minn. Senate Recount

The battle between Al Franken and incumbent Norm Coleman remains tense and close during a meticulous recount process, according to the Associated Press and the Star Tribune.

“Attorneys on both sides have already armored up for the next pitched battle; over whether to reexamine thousands of rejected absentee ballots,? the Star Tribune reported Sunday.

The last time such a protracted recount occurred was in 1962, that race “wasn’t resolved until the following March, when the candidate who initially appeared to win found his lead reversed and decided not to pursue further legal action,? according to the Associated Press.

Politics as usual back then as today, “There were lots of ugly accusations,? Tom Swain, now 87 told the Associated Press. “Accusations, acrimony – it was all flying, some of it was well-intentioned, and some of it was over the top.?

As of Saturday evening, Coleman’s lead over Franken had dwindled to 180 votes, according to the Star Tribune.

“If the Canvassing Board decides to review rejected absentee ballots, many still unexamined votes could get thrown into the mix, adding far more uncertainty,? the Star Tribune reported.

November 14, 2008

Secretary of State Speculations

President – elect Barack Obama’s cabinet may include either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Bill Richardson as secretary of state, according to the New York Times and the Associated Press.

Obama met with Clinton on Thursday to “discuss what role she might play in his administration,? the New York Times reported.

Other possibilities include John Kerry, and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, the New York Times reported.

Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico who also served as an ambassador to the United Nations, may also be a candidate for the secretary of state position according to the Associated Press.

Obama appears to be seeking a “Team of Rivals,? a book depicting the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in which he appointed rival campaigners to political posts, the Associated Press reported.

November 8, 2008

Unemployment Rate Hits 14-Year High

Continuing job losses, indicated by a 14-year high of unemployment reporting ending in October, signaled the increasing financial difficulties within the U.S., according to the L.A. Times and the New York Times.

The U.S. lost an additional 240,000 jobs in October, the “10th consecutive month of retrenchment,? according to the New York Times.

The job loss trend has been worse than originally projected. “September was far worse than previously reported – 284,000 up from an initial reading of 159,000,? the L.A. Times reported.

This level of unemployment was last seen in the first quarter of 1994, according to the L.A. Times.

All told 1.2 million jobs have been lost in 2008 across the U.S, and “more than half in the last three months alone,? according to the New York Times.

The unemployment rate only takes into account those people who have lost their jobs and are actively looking for work; “it does not include those who have stopped trying to find work or are working part time because they can’t find a full time job,? the L.A. Times reported.

November 1, 2008

Hoax Anthrax Packages Sent to Media

A suspicious package containing a CD labeled with a photograph of Colin Powell titled “Anthrax Shock and Awe Terror? and a small packet of a white sugary substance labeled both “anthrax? and “biohazard? arrived at the Pioneer Press Saturday, according to the Pioneer Press.

A similar package had arrived Thursday at the Star Tribune. Additional newspaper and television agencies around the U.S. reported receiving similar packages, according to the Star Tribune.

Authorities arrested a California man Wednesday on “suspicion of sending hoax letters labeled ‘anthrax’ to scores of media outlets,? the FBI told the Pioneer Press.

Marc M. Keyser, 66, of Sacramento allegedly mailed at least 120 packages. Keyser was apprehended in his home, at the return address listed on several of the envelopes, the Star Tribune reported.

A federal judge in Calif. set the bail bond at $25,000 on Friday despite objections made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner who said Keyser was a flight risk, and would likely return to mailing the packages, the Star Tribune reported.

“He appears to think he has a right to go on a mission to call attention to this issue,? Wagner said, “I think his motivation is to generate traffic to his Web site and sell his book," the Star Tribune reported.


October 25, 2008

Californians Considering Chicken Coops

A decision regarding the quality of life afforded to animals in California is on the ballot next month. Voters are being asked to consider “whether the state’s farms must afford more living space to veal calves, egg-laying hens and pregnant sows,? the Washington Post reported.

Veal and pork are not primary industries in California, but it is a large producer of eggs, according to the New York Times. “California is the nation’s fifth-largest supplier – and the No. 1 consumer of eggs,? the New York Times reported.

“This is a well-intended initiative for animals with some very negative unintended consequences for people,? Julie Buckner, a spokeswoman for Californians for Safe Food, said, “it’s going to wipe out the California egg farmers,? the New York Times reported.

“If animals are going to be killed for food the least we can do is treat them with decency and give them a semblance of life,? Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the Human Society of the United States told the New York Times.

If approved, California will be the first state to outlaw the small cages used in egg production, according to the Washington Post.


October 18, 2008

Obama Biden Endorsements

Senator Barack Obama and his running mate Senator Joe Biden won many endorsements from national papers in the past few days, some from unlikely states.

Two unlikely endorsements, the Chicago Tribune, which “hasn’t backed a Democrat in its 161-year history? and the Los Angeles Times which “hasn’t endorsed a presidential candidate since 1972, when it backed President Richard M. Nixon’s re-election,? the Miami Herald reported Friday.

The Miami Herald also published its own endorsement Friday for Senators Obama and Biden.

The Denver Post made its pick for the presidency on Saturday reporting that Barack Obama was “the right man to lead America back to prosperity.?

The Washington Post similarly endorsed Obama. Stating “it gives us no pleasure to oppose Mr. McCain,? but outlining that the “stress of the campaign can reveal some essential truths, and the picture of Mr. McCain that emerged this year is far from reassuring. And we find no way to square his professional passion for America’s national security with his choice for a running mate.?

In favor of Obama however they compare his temperament as “unlike anything we’ve seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive, eloquent but a master of substance and detail, preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment,? the Washington Post wrote.

October 11, 2008

Connecticut Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriages

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples were entitled to legalized marriage, according to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The ruling came as a 4-3 decision in which “civil unions relegate them to a ‘separate’ and ‘inferior status’ that falls short of full equality,? the Los Angeles Times reported.

Gay couples in Connecticut can get married starting Oct. 28, 2008 when the ruling is implemented, according to the New York Times.

The ruling referenced other discriminatory exclusions throughout the United States history, such as banning interracial marriages, excluding women from the workplace, and separate public facilities for black patrons, the New York Times reported.

“Like these once prevalent views, our conventional understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection,? Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote in his majority statement, as reported in the New York Times.

October 3, 2008

Mother of Missing Child Named as Suspect

Police elevated Casey Anthony from a “person of interest? to a “suspect? regarding the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter, CNN reported Thursday.

Caylee Marie Anthony was reported missing on July 15 - her mother said she hadn’t seen her since mid-June, when she reportedly left the child with a baby sitter, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Police can't find the babysitter and now question whether the baby sitter exists.

“Deceptive responses, lies, uncooperativeness? contributed to her suspicion Sherriff’s spokesman Capt. Angelo Nieves told the Orlando Sentinel in an explanatory email.

September 26, 2008

Marine Denied Medal of Honor

A marine, who saved fellow troops by pulling a live grenade underneath his body thereby shielding his comrades from the blast, will not be receiving the Medal of Honor.

Instead, he has been posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, because there is no Medal of Honor for those struck by “friendly fire.?

Sgt. Rafael Peralta died Nov. 15, 2004 in the fighting of the Battle of Fallujah. He was 25 years old.

The troops entered a home with a rifle squad. Insurgents began firing upon them, and Peralta was caught in the crossfire. He was shot in the chest and head, and fell to the floor.

A fragmentation grenade was thrown into the fray and landed near Peralta’s head and “without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety, Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing then brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away,? officials said in an announcement reported by the Marine Corps Times.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates decided to downgrade the award to the Navy Cross, the second highest award for valor, rather than the Medal of Honor he was recommended for by the Marines.

Conflicting forensic information apparently called the award into question, because there was doubt as to whether this deliberate act was possible given the nature of his wounds, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Peralta’s mother however is refusing to accept the award, saying that the Navy Cross itself is a slight against her son, “who was born in Mexico in 1979 and enlisted in the Marine Corps the same day he received his green card,? the Christian Science Monitor reported.

September 20, 2008

Cheney Must Divulge Records

A federal judge’s decision mandates that Vice-President Dick Cheney must preserve and surrender his office’s paperwork at the close of his term in office, CNN reported Saturday.

“The Bush administration’s legal position ‘heightens the courts concern’ that some records may not be preserved’? CNN reported regarding U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly’s decision.

Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington argued that the office of the vice president was not part of the executive or legislative branches but was instead “attached by the Constitution to Congress.?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the case forward because the lawsuit “alleges that the Bush administration’s actions over the past 7 ½ years raise questions over whether the White House will turn over records created by Cheney and his staff to the National Archives," CNN reported.

“The goal, proponents say, is to protect a treasure trove of information about national security, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, domestic wiretapping, energy policy, and other major issues that could be hidden from the public,? the Washinngon Post had reported Sept. 8th.

“I’m concerned that they may not be preserved. Whether they’ve been zapped already, we don’t know,? Stanley Kutler, a University of Wisconsin Law School professor and constitutional scholar, told the Washington Post.

September 8, 2008

Cyber Attacks

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the Pentagon is considering shifting from purely defensive cyber systems to more aggressive offensive stances.

Science fiction warfare became reality on Aug. 12 the New York Times reported that a data stream, discovered by Jose Nazario of Lexington, Mass., containing the phrase “win+love+in+Rusia? bombarded Georgia's networks. The attack defaced web sites and denied service. These virtual attacks preceded the ground attack by several weeks. Authorities do not yet know who was behind the attack.

With far more dependence upon online transactions and information, the U.S. is more vulnerable to attack than Georgia.

The Los Angeles Times quoted Michael W. Wynne, a former Air Force secretary, who said "It is about having a soldier with an invasive tool he can fire at an antenna, and put some information into it, and from there do some damage."

The New York Times interviewed research director Bill Woodcock, of the Packet Clearing House, who said “You could fund an entire cyber warfare campaign for the cost of replacing a tank tread, so you would be foolish not to.?