Civil War In Iraq: al-Qaeda Splinter Group Takes Control Of Iraq’s 2nd Largest City

Car Bomb In Iraq - Public Domain

Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul fell to an al-Qaeda splinter group Tuesday, a major blow to the government’s battle against a widening insurgency.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked parliament to declare a national state of emergency, and he proposed arming civilians in the restive northern areas after the militants seized parts of Mosul.

“We won’t allow Mosul to surrender to terrorism,” al-Maliki vowed at a nationally televised news conference. “We will arm those who wish to defend our homeland and defeat terrorists.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

15 Quotes From Our Founding Fathers About Economics, Capitalism And Banking

George Washington At The Constitutional Convention 1787 - Public Domain

Why have we turned our backs on the principles that this nation was founded upon?  Many of those that founded this nation bled and died so that we could experience “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  And yet we have tossed their ideals aside as if they were so much rubbish.  Our founders had experienced the tyranny of big government (the monarchy) and the tyranny of the big banks and feudal lords, and they wanted something very different for the citizens of the new republic that they were forming.  They wanted a country where private property was respected and hard work was rewarded.  They wanted a country where the individual was empowered, and where everyone could own land and start businesses.  They wanted a country where there were severe restrictions on all large collections of power (government, banks and corporations all included).  They wanted a country where freedom and liberty were maximized and where ordinary people had the power to pursue their dreams and build better lives for their families.  And you know what?  While no system is ever perfect, the experiment that our founders originally set up worked beyond their wildest dreams.  But now we are killing it.  Why in the world would we want to do that?

Most people are under the illusion that the United States has a “capitalist economy” today, but that simply is not accurate.  At best, we have a “mixed economy” that is becoming a little bit more socialist with each passing day.  We pay dozens of different types of taxes each year, and some Americans actually end up giving more of their earnings to the government than they keep themselves.  But that is still not enough, and so our state governments have accumulated astounding amounts of debt, and our federal government has amassed the largest single debt that the world has ever seen.  If future generations of Americans get the chance, they will curse us for the chains of debt that we have placed upon their shoulders.

So what do our government officials do with all of this money?

Well, today approximately 70 percent of all federal government activity involves taking money from some Americans and giving it to other Americans.

Despite this unprecedented wealth-redistribution program, poverty is absolutely exploding in this country and 49 million Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

Meanwhile, the bankers have been getting fabulously wealthy from all of this debt.  The Federal Reserve system was designed to trap the U.S. government in an endless spiral of debt from which it could never possibly escape, and that mission has been accomplished.  In fact, the U.S. national debt is now more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created a little more than 100 years ago.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Brazil’s child sex workers forced to cash in on World Cup

World Cup - Photo by Tsutomu Takasu

Brazilian kids as young as 10 are being forced to sell themselves for sex on the streets to cash in on the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans heading to the World Cup, a shocking investigation has revealed.

As soccer fans descend on Brazil for the tournament this week, evil pimps are exploiting young children who are hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine and living on the streets, a report by British tabloid the Sunday People has revealed.

Young girls and boys high after sniffing glue openly sell themselves for sex on street corners in the city of Recife — which will host five matches — for as little as $4, the investigative report claims.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Joel Osteen Meets with Pope Francis at Vatican: ‘He’s Made the Church More Inclusive’

Joel Osteen

Megachurch speaker and author Joel Osteen was among a group of political and religious leaders who met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday.

According to reports, Osteen was part of a delegation organized by the International Foundation in an effort to encourage interfaith relations and ecumenicism. Utah Senator Mike Lee (R), a Mormon, Gayle Beebe, the president of the interdenominational Westmont College in California, and Pastor Tim Timmons, founder of South Coast Community Church also in California, were among those who who greeted the pope, along with Osteen.

“I just felt very honored and very humbled,” Osteen told local television station Click 2 Houston. “It was amazing. And even to go back into that part of the Vatican—there’s so much history there, the place that they took us through. You feel that deep respect and reverence for God.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Condoms to be given to sixth-graders in Oregon

Public Schools

A school district in Marion County will allow some teachers to make condoms available to students as young as sixth-graders next fall.

Superintendent Rick Hensel of the Gervais School District told the Salem Statesman Journal the board is concerned about teen pregnancy. Nine girls got pregnant this year, about 5% of the girls in grades six through 12.

Gervais School Board Member Molly McCargar, who is the mother of four girls who attend schools in the district, said she supports the idea of making condoms available to students who must ask a teacher for one.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

North Korea Sentences Baptist Missionary to Hard Labor for Life

North Korea - Photo by calflier001

North Korean officials have sentenced a Baptist missionary from South Korea to hard labor for life for allegedly attempting to establish underground churches in the nation.

Kim Jong-uk was convicted of spying and other “anti-state” violatons on Friday during his trial. According to reports, he admitted to the court that he had founded a church in the country. The Associated Press also reports that the missionary also helped some North Korean residents escape to South Korea.

Prosecution had sought the death penalty for Jong-uk, but his defense attorney asked for mercy, noting that the missionary “sincerely repented of his crimes and apologized for them.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Of Course Obama’s Amnesty Was Going To Cause A Massive Spike In Illegal Immigration

Illegal Immigration Billboard

Some of us tried to warn that this would happen.  When you create incentives for people to come to the United States illegally, of course that is exactly what they are going to do.  In recent months, many political observers have breathlessly been watching to see if “amnesty” for illegal immigrants will get through Congress.  But as you will see below, the truth is that Barack Obama has already created a de facto policy of amnesty for most illegal immigrants, and word about it has spread quickly throughout Mexico, central America and South America.  If you are an illegal immigrant living in America and you haven’t been convicted of a crime, you are probably going to get to stay.  And if you would like to illegally immigrate to the United States, if you get blocked from entering a few times it is not that big of a deal.  You just keep trying until you finally get in.  And once you are successful, there are a whole host of “goodies” that you can sign up for – especially if you go to one of the “sanctuary cities” that Obama steadfastly refuses to crack down on.  In fact, the federal government actually has a website that instructs immigrants how to sign up for welfare programs once they arrive in the United States, and the Obama administration has actually distributed flyers that inform illegal immigrants that their immigration status will not be checked when they apply for food stamps.  So we shouldn’t be surprised at the massive influx of illegal immigrants that we are experiencing right now.  This is a problem of our own creation.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure all of this out.

All you have to do is talk to the people that are coming here illegally…

Central Americans say news reports in their countries are encouraging them to make the journey north to the United States.

A mother and child told CHANNEL 5 NEWS that the message being disseminated in their country is, “go to America with your child, you won’t be turned away.

The people that are coming here illegally know what the score is.

They know that the Obama administration has basically no interest in enforcing the immigration laws.

As I mentioned above, Obama has already implemented a de facto policy of amnesty.  He has instructed officials to prioritize deportation cases that involve convicted criminals and to throw most of the rest out.  It is a form of “backdoor amnesty” that never received the approval of Congress.  This is something that I discussed in a previous article

Government officials have now been given a list of 19 factors to use when deciding whether to use “prosecutorial discretion” in deportation cases.

Essentially, what is going to happen now is that illegal immigrants are going to get to stay in the United States if any of the following apply….

-arrival in the U.S. as a young child

-actively “pursuing an education”

-serving or served in the U.S. military

-spouse of someone in the U.S. military

-18 years old or younger

-”elderly”

-pregnant or nursing

-victim of a “serious crime”

-serious disability or health problem

-caring for a family member with a serious disability or health problem

As you can see, these categories are so broad that almost all illegal immigrants will be able to fit into at least one of them.

And another Obama administration policy that allows minors that came to the U.S. as illegal immigrants to avoid deportation for two years has caused a massive influx of unaccompanied minors to illegally cross our borders

Obama instituted an immigration policy that the GOP says enticed tens of thousands of Central American children to cross America’s southern border illegally without any parents to guide them.

More than 33,000 have been picked up in Texas alone since October. The U.S. border patrol says its forces are overwhelmed, and the courts are bracing for a flood of immigration cases from children held in temporary detention facilities designed to handle a fraction of the numbers. Sanitation problems are beginning to rear their ugly heads.

Obama rolled out a controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, allowing many illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to escape deportation for two years. The White House gave them another two-year window last week.

In fact, it is being reported that twelve times as many kids are now crossing our borders illegally compared to the time period before Obama implemented this policy.

When border patrol agents round these kids up, they are shipped off to massively overcrowded holding centers where they often sleep on plastic cots without any blankets or pillows…

Mattresses, portable toilets and showers were brought in Saturday for 700 unaccompanied minors who spent the night sleeping on plastic cots inside an Arizona warehouse, a federal official said.

A Homeland Security official told The Associated Press that about 2,000 mattresses have been ordered to the makeshift holding center — a warehouse that has not been used to house people in years.

And the influx of illegal immigrants has been so great in Texas that federal officials are now often just putting them on buses and planes and “dumping” them in other states.  When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer found out about this, she was absolutely outraged

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday she is “disturbed and outraged” after she was informed by federal officials that not only has the government been shipping illegal immigrants out of Texas and “dumping” them in her state, it has no plans to stop.

Federal officials told Brewer Friday that the practice will continue for the foreseeable future, and this weekend more than 1,000 illegal immigrant children will be “dumped” in Arizona. Adults and family units will also arrive, though Brewer was not told how many, her office said.

And this is happening in California too

The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) revealed to Breitbart Texas that the San Diego Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol is making plans to receive, process, and then release 500 illegal aliens into the U.S. per week who were shipped in from Texas, specifically from the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector.

The specifics of how the illegal aliens are transported in unclear at this time, however, recently some have been flown at the tax-payers expense and some have been transported on buses.

So what do you think is going to happen to those illegal immigrants?

Do you think that they will dutifully report to immigration officials?

Perhaps a few will, but most of them will end up “disappearing” into their new communities.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to castrate the border patrol.

While other federal agencies are being armed with machine guns and cutting edge weaponry, our border patrol agents are being given pepper spray and pellet guns.

And under one new policy, border patrol agents are instructed to run away and hide when illegal immigrants throw rocks at them…

The 21,000 Border Patrol agents that we now have are now being forced to retreat if illegals are throwing rocks at them and are no longer allowed to block drug smugglers paths as they try to make it into America with their shipment under the new directions from top administration officials.

From now on the agents must keep their weapons holstered as the vehicles drive by since the instructions state that they can’t use their weapons against “a moving vehicle merely fleeing from agents.”

The new rules that were signed by Michael Fisher, Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, force agents to flee when in harms way rather than defend themselves, saying “Agents shall not discharge firearms in response to thrown or hurled projectiles… agents should obtain a tactical advantage in these situations, such as seeking cover or distancing themselves.”

At this point why do we even have a border patrol at all?

(Read the rest of the story here…)

How the NSA Could Bug Your Powered-Off iPhone, and How to Stop Them

iPhone 5c - Photo by Xoxogirl123

Edward Snowden’s latest revelation about the NSA’s snooping inspired an extra dose of shock and disbelief when he said the agency’s hackers can use a mobile phone as a bug even after it’s been turned off. The whistleblower made that eye-opening claim when Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, holding his iPhone aloft during last Wednesday’s interview, asked, “What can the NSA do with this device if they want to get into my life? Can anyone turn it on remotely if it’s off? Can they turn on apps?

“They can absolutely turn them on with the power turned off to the device,” Snowden replied.

Snowden didn’t offer any details on this seemingly magical feat. But a group of particularly cunning iPhone hackers say it’s possible. They also say you can totally and completely turn off your iPhone so no one—not even the NSA—can use it to spy on you.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Gazprom signs agreements to switch from dollars to euros

Euros - Photo by Julien Jorge

Gazprom Neft had signed additional agreements with consumers on a possible switch from dollars to euros for payments under contracts, the oil company’s head Alexander Dyukov told a press conference.

“Additional agreements of Gazprom Neft on the possibility to switch contracts from dollars to euros are signed. With Belarus, payments in roubles are agreed on,” he said.

Dyukov said nine of ten consumers had agreed to switch to euros.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Meet the NASA scientist devising a starship warp drive

Antennae Galaxies - Public Domain

Even if travelling at warp speed is theoretically possible, don’t the huge energy requirements make it unlikely?

When the idea was first proposed mathematically in 1994 it required a vast amount of negative vacuum energy which made the idea seem impossible. I did some work in 2011 and 2012 as part of the 100 Year Starship symposium and discovered ways to reduce the energy requirements by many orders of magnitude, so for a 10-metre diameter spacecraft with a velocity of 10 times light speed, I can reduce the negative energy needed.

How close are you to making this a reality?

We are very much in the science rather than the technology phase. We have got some very specific and controlled steps to take to create a proof of concept, to show we have properly understood and applied the math and physics. To that end we will try to generate a microscopic instance of a warp bubble in the lab and measure it.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Newsweek Says That ‘Conspiracy Theories Are A Clear And Present Danger’

Newsweek Cover 2014

George W. Bush murdered thousands by orchestrating 9/11. Barack Obama is a Kenyan national and holds the presidency illegally. Education standards developed by state governors are part of an anti-Christian communist plot that will turn children gay. Unemployment rates and the reported numbers for Obamacare sign-ups are lies engineered by the White House. Water fluoridation doesn’t prevent cavities in children and has been adopted for a range of nefarious purposes. And on and on they go.

Conspiracy theories have been woven into the fabric of American society since before the signing of the Constitution. But what was once dismissed as the amusing ravings of the tin-foil-hat crowd has in recent years crossed a threshold, experts say, with delusions, fictions and lunacy now strangling government policies and creating national health risks. “These kinds of theories have the effect of completely distorting any rational discussion we can have in this country,’’ says Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center who recently wrote a report on the impact of what is known as the Agenda 21 conspiracy. “They are having a real impact now.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

China military cyber war threat: Pentagon highlights Beijing’s secret plans to target U.S. military networks

Chinese Flag

Chinese military cyber warfare efforts remain couched in secrecy as one of Beijing’s most closely held unacknowledged programs. And the secrecy surrounding the program is compounded by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) denial and deception operations. The Chinese government, true to its communist roots, uses lies and disinformation to confuse western governments and publics about one of Beijing’s most significant asymmetric warfare tools.

A Pentagon report to Congress made public Thursday provides few details about Chinese cyber warfare efforts. But it is significant for identifying the military aspects of Chinese military cyber warfare capabilities. The report identifies three types of activities related to Chinese cyberwarfare, based on two military academic reports – one of the few tools for U.S. intelligence to understand Chinese military programs.

“First, it will enable data collection for intelligence and computer network attack,” the report says. “Second, it constrains an adversary’s actions or slows their response. Third, it is as a force multiplier when coupled with kinetic attacks.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

She’s udderly confused! Half-ton California cow thinks it’s a DOG

Cow - Photo by William Warby

‘She follows me around all day long, just like my dogs – she comes and watches me tend to all the other animals,’ said DiCaprio. ‘She’s even followed me into the bathroom before, although she was a little scared of her own reflection.’

Milkshake also eats like a dog.

‘I think she thinks it’s pointless finding her own food when she can wait on us bringing it to her in a bowl, like her dog friends,’ DiCaprio said.

Now eight years old, Milkshake is like a real-life bull in a china shop – especially when there is food to be found.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Medical Marijuana For Children- Is This Ok?

Stoned KidsVICE went to the small town of Pendleton, Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal.  While there, they visited Mykayla Comstock, an eight-year-old leukemia patient who takes massive amounts of weed to treat her illness.

Her family believes in the palliative aspects of the drug, but also in marijuana’s curative effect—that pot can literally shrink tumors.

Mykayla takes 1/3 of an ounce of the highest grade of medical marijuana, which is roughly 10 bong hits.  She does this twice a day.

Do you think medical marijuana is ok for children?  How do you view this subject?  This video might change your mind….  (Youtube)

An Inside Look at the Exotic Animal Trade

Exotic Animal TradeWildlife trafficking is estimated to be a $19 billion per year global business, surpassed only by black-market sales and trafficking of drugs, humans, and firearms.

In the United States, regulation of private ownership of exotic animals is determined by each state, allowing for loopholes and oversight. Animals are bought and traded through auctions, backyard breeders, illicit online sales and more. The industry is growing right in our backyards.

VICE travels to Ohio to rescue a cougar, then to Texas for an exotic livestock auction and undercover visit to a gaming ranch where the animals are sold and hunted for up to $15,000 a piece. (Youtube)

Flush with gold: China comes in second behind South Africa

Gold

China’s gold reserves have increased significantly over the past three years and it has second-largest gold resources in the world, reports the official Xinhua News Agency, citing Chen Yanhai, director of the Bureau of Raw Material under China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Chen made the remarks during a China Gold Association conference held on May 15, saying that for several years the quantity of gold mined through geographical prospecting in the country has been larger than that consumed in production. China reported 8,200 tonnes in gold reserves at the end of 2012, coming behind South Africa with 31,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, China was also the largest producer of gold for the seventh year running, with 430 tonnes, in 2013.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Concentration Camps That Exist TODAY That Should Not Be Ignored

North Korea's Christians Need PrayerNorth Korea is one of the most insanely evil countries on the face of the earth. Today thousands of people are tortured, and starved to death, and this has been going on for years. We look back on the Holocaust, and say “never again” yet, there are concentration camps that have been active since the 1960’s, and nothing has been done about it.

The camps’ brutal conditions suggest that they are comparable to those in the Nazi camps at Mauthausen and Buchenwald, which largely killed people through a combination of exhaustion, disease and starvation.
Today there are six political prison camps in North Korea, with the size determined from satellite images.
(Picture Credits – June 2014 Report From The Voice of the Martyrs)

Kwan-li-so No. 22. is just one of those camps. This camp is completely isolated where prisoners and their families are held in lifelong detention. This camp is located in the northeast part of North Korea, near the border with China and Russia, and was founded in 1965 and expanded in the 1980s and 1990s.

Camp 22 is huge! It covers 225 km2 (87 miles) and is surrounded by a 3300 volt electric fence and an outer barbed wire fence. In addition, there are hidden nails and traps between the two fences, contains over 1,000 guards and trained dogs, also secure the perimeter.

In the 1990s, the calculated that there were around 50,000 prisoners in the camp.

What was their crime?

These people mostly criticized the government. Would you qualify for this camp? Have you spoke badly about Obama, or any part of the government in our country for that matter?

North Korea also punishes 3 generations of family members who are also likely to disapprove of the gvt. Meaning, if your grandfather tried to escape, your father, and your family would be sentenced to prison.

South Korean prisoners of war are also kept in this camp along with Christians. North Korea DOES not allow Christianity or freedom of religion. Even if someone SUSPECTS you are a Christian, you can be turned in and presumed guilty. Guilt by association sentences WHOLE families to life in prison.

A former guard Ahn Myong-chol was shocked when he described the camp was harsh, and life-threatening.

  • Prisoners Starve– Prisoners get 6.3 oz of corn per meal (two times a day). The only meat in their diets is from rats, snakes or frogs that they catch, that they find in the field, or in their cells. The former guard estimated that around 1,500–2,000 people died of starvation every year in these camps. Most people are so malnourished, their bodies looked like skeletons. I am sure we all remember the photographs seen from the Holocaust. This is happening this very moment.
  • Prisoners Are In Bad Shape Physically – Many have deformities, such as torn off ears, smashed eyes, crooked noses, and faces covered with cuts and scars resulting from beatings and other mistreatment. This security guard says that around 2,000 prisoners he says have missing limbs, but this doesn’t affect their daily work schedule. Even prisoners who need crutches still work.Seriously ill prisoners are abandoned, and left to die.
  • Horrible Living Conditions-Just like the Holocaust, prisoners live in bunkhouses with 100 people in a single room. These houses are made from mud, and the people have to use dirty and crowded communal toilets.

Read the rest of this article here

Today’s Concentration Camps That The World Ignores

Pope Francis unites Israeli and Palestinian presidents in prayer as they plant an olive tree together in the Vatican gardens

Pope Francis - Photo by Tania Rego

The Pope waded into the Middle East peace process last night, uniting the leaders of Israel and Palestine through the power of prayer during a tranquil sunset summit in the gardens of the Vatican.

Political and religious differences were put to one side last night as Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas joked and hugged at Francis’ Vatican residence before attending an al fresco invocation of Jewish, Christian and Muslim worship.

In a meeting that better resembled an outdoor summer wedding than a diplomatic parley, the three men passed along a receiving line as guests mingled on the lawn to the serene harmonies of a string ensemble.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Cops Strip, Parade, Pepper Spray Woman And Lock Her In Cell For 7 Hours

Police In America

An Indiana woman is suing the Floyd County Jail in New Albany after video emerged of police officers forcibly stripping her and locking her up, completely naked, in a cell full of pepper spray for seven hours.

Worse still, the woman’s attorney believes that this is routine procedure at the facility and has evidence that other women are consistently given the same treatment.

Local news station WDRB obtained the footage and reports how Tabitha Gentry was arrested by a state police officer for disorderly conduct and resisting law enforcement, both misdemeanor charges.

Gentry, a mother of four, was booked into the Floyd County Jail in the early hours of March 30th. Her attorney Laura Landenwich says that the events that unfolded from there need to be reviewed by a court of law.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

New Market Ahead for Flu Vaccines: Mandatory Flu Shots for Employment to Expand Outside of Healthcare

Vaccines

The 2013-2014 flu season has seen multiple lawsuits started for violating the rights of healthcare workers in refusing employment based on mandatory flu vaccinations. Now, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the stage may be setting for mandatory flu vaccines as a condition for employment in other job sectors outside of healthcare facilities, such as food service, education, community and social services, personal care, cleaning and maintenance, and even real estate.

The increase in mandatory flu vaccines for healthcare workers began in 2012, with the implementation of Obamacare, which links federal reimbursement of Medicare and Medicaid funding to the percentage of healthcare workers vaccinated for the seasonal flu.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Hundreds Of Illegal Immigrant Minors Sleeping On Plastic Boards, Rotating Through 4 Showers At Shelter

Prison

About 700 unaccompanied minors mostly from Central America were sleeping on plastic boards at a Border Patrol warehouse in Nogales, Arizona, this weekend, the vast majority flown from South Texas. It is the latest illustration of how a wave of immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala has overwhelmed U.S. border authorities. President Barack Obama called the surge a crisis last week and appointed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to lead the government’s response. Here are some questions and answers.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Retirement Savings Fears Grip Americans: ‘I Don’t Have Enough’

Retirement

Americans are freaking out about their personal savings—and for good reason. A recent Gallup poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed were very or moderately worried they won’t have enough money for retirement—by far their biggest concern.

Many people once counted on a triad of support for retirement—Social Security, personal savings, and employer-sponsored pensions. Yet in the wake of the Great Recession and a long stretch of high unemployment and stagnant wages, the once-dependable foundation has been crumbling.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Average Age Of Vehicles On U.S. Roads An All-Time High 11.4 Years

Auto Junkyard

The average age of a light vehicle on the road in the United States remained flat at 11.4 years at the end of 2013, and the total light vehicles in operation reached a record 252.7 million, up 2 percent from 2012, IHS Automotive said today.

The average age of vehicles on the road reached an all-time high at the beginning of 2013, but IHS predicts the average age will remain at 11.4 years through 2015, and then rise to 11.7 years by 2019, the company said in a statement today.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

VA says more than 57,000 patients are waiting for first visit

Injured Vet

The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday that more than 57,000 former troops have waited at least 90 days for their first VA medical appointments and another 64,000 who enrolled in the department’s health system during the past decade have never visited a doctor in the network.

Additionally, about 13 percent of VA schedulers have said they were told to falsify appointment-request dates to give the impression that wait times were shorter than they really were, according to the department.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

And check out this video news report about the crisis…

McDonald’s Replaces Cashiers With Touch-Screens

McDonald's

McDonald’s is trying to make fast food even faster. The Financial Times reports that the worlds’ largest fast food chain plans to replace many of the cashiers at its 7,000 European restaurants with touch screen terminals that allow customers to order and pay electronically.

The move at McDonald’s is similar to what many consumers experience in supermarkets, retailers and gasoline stations that have opted for self-checkout to save on labor costs. McDonald’s says the move is about making its restaurants there more convenient and efficient — it’s also clearly about keeping down costs. If the move proves successful, you can bet competitors like Wendy’s/Arby’s (NYSE:WEN) and Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) restaurants KFC and Taco Bell will be taking notice.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

More Russian Companies Set To Drop Dollar, Switch To Chinese Yuan

Vladimir Putin

As we have been reporting (and forecasting for the past several years), the Eurasian anti-US Dollar axis is rapidly taking shape, with recent events catalyzed and certainly accelerated by US foreign policy in Ukraine, which has merely succeeded in pushing Russia that much closer, and faster, to China. The latest proof of this came overnight when the FT reported that Russian companies are preparing to switch contracts to renminbi and other Asian currencies amid fears that western sanctions may freeze them out of the US dollar market, according to two top bankers.

According to Pavel Teplukhin, head of Deutsche Bank in Russia, cited by the Financial Times, “Over the last few weeks there has been a significant interest in the market from large Russian corporations to start using various products in renminbi and other Asian currencies and to set up accounts in Asian locations.”

Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said that expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. “Given the extent of our bilateral trade with China, developing the use of settlements in roubles and yuan [renminbi] is a priority on the agenda, and so we are working on it now,” he told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a briefing. “Since May, we have been carrying out this work.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

U.S. Sends Stealth Bombers To Europe

U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber - Public Domain

The Air Force has further beefed up its bomber presence in Europe, deploying two B-2 stealth bombers for military exercises in the region.

The B-2 deployment is another show of Washington’s effort to reassure allies in the region amid Russia’s recent bluster. The aircraft are assigned to the 509th Bomb Wing out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. On Sunday, they joined three B-52 Stratofortress aircraft already deployed to RAF Fairford, a British air base west of London.

All five of the aircraft are capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Women are having fewer kids, and demographers don’t know why

Baby 2014

U.S. fertility is not recovering from the financial crisis — and demographers aren’t sure why.

The fertility rate fell to a record low 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The total number of births, at 3.96 million, inched up by a mere 4,000 from 2012, the first increase since the financial crisis. But the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86, the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

13 Ways To Beat Big Brother

Privacy - Photo By Tom Murphy

We all have the right to privacy. But we also have limited ability to ensure privacy, at least outside our homes. Authorities insist they respect our privacy while they vacuum up bulk communication data — for our protection. Advertisers insist they respect our privacy while they track online activities and commercial transactions — for our benefit.

As the songwriter Elvis Costello put it in 2008, “You’ll find these days that there’s no hiding place.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

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