Saturday, September 29, 2012

Billionaires made from scratch? Hardly (The American Dream Myth)

Forbes touts its annual list of the 400 richest U.S. billionaires as evidence “that the American dream is still very much alive,” claiming that 70 percent of them “made their fortunes entirely from scratch.” I noted that in a post the other day, and questioned whether it was true.

Its not. The liberal group United for a Fair Economy has done the heavy lifting on Forbes’s bootstrappers, and its report, “Born on Third Base,” shows that the vast majority of the country’s plutocrats either inherited their money or had significant help from family members. What’s surprising is that this is surprising to Forbes.

Just 35 percent of the Forbes 400 last year were raised poor or middle class, compared to 95 percent of the broader public, as (reasonably) defined by UFE. Twenty one percent inherited enough money to join the 400 without lifting a finger, what UFE calls being “born on home plate.” Another 7 percent inherited at least $50 million or a “large and prosperous company,” 12 percent inherited at least a million bucks or a decent-sized business or startup capital from a relative, and 22 percent were “born on first base,” into an upper class family or got a modest inheritance or startup capital (UFE says it was conservative in assigning people to bases, so its report understates their advantages somewhat). So, at least 62 percent did not, in fact, make their fortunes “entirely from scratch.” more

How The American University was Killed, in Five Easy Steps

A few years back, Paul E. Lingenfelter began his report on the defunding of public education by saying, “In 1920 H.G. Wells wrote, ‘History is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe.’ I think he got it right. Nothing is more important to the future of the United States and the world than the breadth and effectiveness of education, especially of higher education. I say especially higher education, but not because pre- school, elementary, and secondary education are less important. Success at every level of education obviously depends on what has gone before. But for better or worse, the quality of postsecondary education and research affects the quality and effectiveness of education at every level.”

In the last few years, conversations have been growing like gathering storm clouds about the ways in which our universities are failing. There is talk about the poor educational outcomes apparent in our graduates, the out-of-control tuitions and crippling student loan debt. Attention is finally being paid to the enormous salaries for presidents and sports coaches, and the migrant worker status of the low-wage majority faculty. There are now movements to control tuition, to forgive student debt, to create more powerful “assessment” tools, to offer “free” university materials online, to combat adjunct faculty exploitation. But each of these movements focuses on a narrow aspect of a much wider problem, and no amount of “fix” for these aspects individually will address the real reason that universities in America are dying. more

Turtles in trouble

Secession! Lakota Sioux Nation Leaves The Union! (Again)


President Barack Obama has an unexpected foreign policy problem – in the Western United States. The Lakota Sioux nation has seceded from the United States, according to a story on the anti-American website La Voz de Aztlan.

“We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,” long-time Native American radical leader Russell Means said. The move potentially impacts the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Means has been a well-known Native American radical and actor since 1973 when he and others were involved in a siege in Wounded Knew, S.D. and Means proclaimed: “sometimes there has to be violence.” “In 1973, Mr. Means led a siege of Wounded Knee by Indians who alleged that the tribal leadership was corrupt. Two Indians were killed and one Federal marshal seriously wounded by resulting gunfire, and the episode divided many residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation,” The New York Times reported Dec. 30, 1990.

That siege took place only three years after the publication of the book, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” a saga about supposed injustices against the American Indians in the old West. Wounded Knee itself was the site of the last fight between Indians and the U.S. Army during the Indian Wars. Means described the 1973 takeover as having “captured national attention when he led the 71-day armed takeover on the sacred grounds of Wounded Knee.”

He has continued his push for Sioux independence in the decades since. The Lakota declared independence in 2007, as well, with Means proclaiming: “United States colonial rule is at its end!” more

Scorched history in Aleppo

Sept. 29 - Hundreds of shops burn in the ancient covered market of the Old City of Aleppo, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

WHO says only severely ill should be tested for new SARS virus

(Reuters) - Doctors should only test people for a new virus if they are very ill in hospital with a respiratory infection, have been in Qatar or Saudi Arabia and test negative for common forms of pneumonia and infections, the World Health Organisation said on Saturday.

The newly discovered virus from the same family as SARS has so far been confirmed in only two cases worldwide, one in a 60-year-old Saudi man who died from his infections, and another in a man from Qatar who is critically ill in a London hospital.

In updated guidance issued six days after it put out a global alert about the new virus, the WHO said suspected cases should be strictly defined to limit the need to test people with milder symptoms.

But it added anyone who has been in direct contact with a confirmed case and who has any fever or respiratory symptoms should also be tested. Read More

5.4 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTHERN PERU - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake has struck SOUTHERN PERU at a depth of 126 km (78.3 miles), the quake hit at 17:48:57 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 39 km (24 miles) East of Tarata, Peru
No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck NEAR THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 57.2 km (35.5 miles), the quake hit at 17:37:40 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 77 km (489 miles) SSE from TOKYO, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Guantanamo's last Western detainee returned to Canada

(Reuters) - The youngest prisoner and last Westerner held in the Guantanamo military base, Omar Khadr, was sent to finish his sentence in his native Canada on Saturday, the Canadian government said.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that Khadr, who was a 15-year-old fighting in Afghanistan when captured in 2002, had been flown from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to a military base in Trenton, Ontario and transferred to the province's Millhaven maximum-security prison.

Khadr's case has been controversial both in Canada and abroad given his age when he was captured, the nature of his detention and hearing, and the reluctance of Canadian officials to accept his return.

"I am satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr's sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration," Toews said in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

A U.S. war crimes tribunal in 2010 sentenced Khadr, now 26, to 40 years in prison, although he was expected to serve just a few more years under a deal that included his admission he was an al Qaeda conspirator who murdered a U.S. soldier. Read More

Spain Flash Floods: Death Toll Rises To Ten

At least ten people have been killed and hundreds evacuated from their homes after flash floods swept through southern Spain.

After months of drought, torrential rain has flooded streets and homes, brought down a motorway bridge, and swept cars down roads that have been turned into rivers.

The hardest hit areas are the Mediterranean provinces of Malaga in the south and Murcia and Almeria in the southeast.

Regional officials said nine people have died and at least 600 people have been moved from their homes.

Among the dead are a young boy and a girl who were found drowned in a car in the southeastern town of Puerto Lumbreras, according to Spanish National radio.

The body of a woman in the town of Lorca, which was badly damaged by an earthquake last year, has also been discovered.

A 52-year-old British woman is reportedly among those feared missing in Almeria. Read More

Gareth Dane Cashmore Sentenced To Death In Indonesia

A British man has been sentenced to death for smuggling crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia, according to the Jakarta Post.

Banten High Court, in Java, increased a lower court sentence of life in jail for 33-year-old Gareth Dane Cashmore, saying it did not represent a strong enough deterrent.

The Bangkok Post quoted presiding judge J. Nababan as saying: "Narcotics are very dangerous substances that harm the people and the nation.

"They destroy the human resources that are one of the integral elements to our national development."

Cashmore was arrested in September last year at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.

He had arrived on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul.

The drugs, worth an estimated £800,000, were concealed inside his modified luggage.

Authorities alleged Cashmore was a member of an international narcotics syndicate. Source

4.8 Magnitude Earthquake BANDA SEA - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.8 earthquake has struck BANDA SEA at a depth of 587.3 km (364.9 miles), the quake hit at 16:25:41 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 224 km (139 miles) Northeast of Palue, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS REGION at a depth of 82.3 km (51.1 miles), the quake hit at 16:13:30 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 59 km (36 miles) NNE of Visokoi Island
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Greek police send crime victims to neo-Nazi 'protectors'


Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party is increasingly assuming the role of law enforcement officers on the streets of the bankrupt country, with mounting evidence that Athenians are being openly directed by police to seek help from the neo-Nazi group, analysts, activists and lawyers say.

In return, a growing number of Greek crime victims have come to see the party, whose symbol bears an uncanny resemblance to the swastika, as a "protector".

One victim of crime, an eloquent US-trained civil servant, told the Guardian of her family's shock at being referred to the party when her mother recently called the police following an incident involving Albanian immigrants in their downtown apartment block.

"They immediately said if it's an issue with immigrants go to Golden Dawn," said the 38-year-old, who fearing for her job and safety, spoke only on condition of anonymity. "We don't condone Golden Dawn but there is an acute social problem that has come with the breakdown of feeling of security among lower and middle class people in the urban centre," she said. "If the police and official mechanism can't deliver and there is no recourse to justice, then you have to turn to other maverick solutions."

Other Greeks with similar experiences said the far-rightists, catapulted into parliament on a ticket of tackling "immigrant scum" were simply doing the job of a defunct state that had left a growing number feeling overwhelmed by a "sense of powerlessness". "Nature hates vacuums and Golden Dawn is just filling a vacuum that no other party is addressing," one woman lamented. "It gives 'little people' a sense that they can survive, that they are safe in their own homes." more

The last two Jews in Kabul fight like cat and dog

AFGHANISTAN has suffered more than its fair share of feuding, but few of its vendettas have seemed quite so pointless to outsiders as that being fought by the last two Jews in Kabul.

Yitzhak Levy, 60, and Zebolan Simanto, 41, live in the same courtyard on the same city street. Each looks after his own synagogue, from which the other is banned.

Apart from being Jewish, all that they have in common is their explosive hatred for one another. Even living as Jews together under the Taliban did not reconcile them. If anything, it only offered them new opportunities to denounce, inform on, terrorise and generally do each other down.

"He is an old fool whose brains do not work properly," Mr Simanto said of his enemy yesterday. "He is a donkey who thinks only of himself. I wouldn't go into his flat if I were you: it stinks."

Mr Levy was equally vituperative about his rival and nemesis. "He is arrogant and ruthless," he said. "He is making my life a misery." Nothing is sacred in the campaign of spite and loathing the men have waged against each other for the past three years. On at least one occasion they came to blows in one of the synagogues.

"Yes, I knocked him down, with my fist, right here," Mr Simanto smirked during a tour of his synagogue. "He had sneaked in and was eavesdropping on my conversations." more

Thoughts: Surely we can find some way to blame Muslims for this, can't we?


5.0 Magnitude Earthquake MINDORO, PHILIPPINES - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake has struck MINDORO, PHILIPPINES at a depth of 186.1 km (115.6 miles), the quake hit at 14:12:04 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 4 km (2.4 miles) Northeast of Hukay, Philippines
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Iranian troops now possibly in Lebanon and Syria, armed with Syrian chemical weapons



The sabotage of the Fordo uranium enrichment facility’s power lines on Aug. 17 gave Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu extra leeway to move his original red line for Iran from late September 2012 – now – to the spring or early summer of 2013. The disruption of the underground enrichment plant's power supply caused several of the advanced IR-1 and IR-4 centrifuges producing the 20-percent grade uranium to burst into flames. Work was temporarily halted and the accumulation of 240 kilos for Iran’s first nuclear bomb slowed down by at least six months, debkafile’s intelligence sources report.

Hence Netanyahu’s new red line timeline of “late spring, early summer” - before which preventive action is imperative - in his speech to the UN General Assembly Thursday, Sept. 27.

Our military sources report that the advantage gained is already proving short-lived. Iran has pounced back fast with two aggressive counter-moves on Israel’s doorstep:

1. Thousands of elite Al Qods Brigades officers and men are being airlifted into Lebanon and Syria and deployed opposite Israeli borders (as debkafile has reported);

2. Shortly before the Israeli Prime Minister rose to speak in New York, Syrian President Bashar Assad again removed chemical weapons out of storage. Some were almost certainly passed to the incoming Iranian units. The weapons’ movements were accounted for as a precaution for “greater security,” but in practice they will be ready for use against Israel when the order is handed down from Tehran. more

Baekdusan: Volcano in N. Korea showing signs of activity, may have "catastrophic effects"

A volcano on the border of China and North Korea is showing signs of increasing activity and could erupt in the next few decades, Chinese researchers say.

A massive eruption of Baekdusan around 1,100 years ago spread ash and volcanic gases for 30 miles and left a 3-mile-wide crater atop the volcano, scientists said.

Three smaller eruptions have occurred since then, the most recent in 1903, they said.

Seismic activity, ground deformation and gas emissions recorded in a period of heightened activity from 2002 to 2006 suggests the magma chamber beneath the volcano is growing.

This activity suggests an explosion could occur in the next couple of decades, researchers said.

“We need to upgrade our current monitoring system in order to be able to meet the need for the early warning system for Baekdusan,” Jiandong Xu, a vulcanologist at the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, told OurAmazingPlanet.

Of the dozen or so volcanoes located in mainland China Baekdusan is the most likely to experience an eruption with potential catastrophic effects, Xu said. source

David Cameron hints at EU referendum after election.....He also Promised this during Last election

David Cameron has given his clearest hint yet that he will back a referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU if the Tories win the next election.

He said there will be opportunities for the British people to give "fresh consent" to the UK's EU membership.

Closer economic ties between eurozone countries "will give us opportunities for changing our relationship with Europe", he said.

However, he added he thought it was not in Britain's interest to leave the EU.

The prime minister has faced calls to back an in/out referendum from his own MPs, 81 of whom rebelled against the party line last year to vote for a referendum. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck OAXACA, MEXICO at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 11:53:59 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 22 km (13 miles) ESE of Cuajinicuilapa, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

5.3 Magnitude Earthquake NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck the NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION at a depth of 28.2 km (17.5 miles), the quake hit at 11:24:33 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 216 km (134 miles) SSW from Misha, Nicobar Islands, India
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.5 Magnitude Earthquake RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.5 earthquake has struck the RAT ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS, ALASKA at a depth of 35.2 km (21.9 miles), the quake hit at 11:00:18 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 105 km (65 miles) SSW of Semisopochnoi Island, Alaska
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Mystery virus sickens THOUSANDS of German school children

An outbreak of an unknown virus in eastern Germany has made 4,000 school children ill. It is believed contaminated school lunches are to blame, causing excessive vomiting and diarrhoea among young sufferers.

Anke Protze who works for the Chemnitz Health Bureau, explains the nature of the illness.

“There are serious and not so serious cases - some children had to be hospitalised. With this sickness you have an enormous loss of fluids and minerals. That means the first thing to do is not give antibiotics but replace the fluids,” she said.

Several schools have closed their doors as a precautionary measure. All eyes are now on catering company Sodexo, which supplies all the schools hit by the bug. Read More

Bankrupt Cities, Municipalities List and Map

Many local governments across the U.S. face steep budget deficits as they struggle to pay off debts accumulated over years. As a last resort, some have filed for bankruptcy.


Governing is tracking the issue, and will update this page as more municipalities seek bankruptcy protection.

The majority of Chapter 9 bankruptcy filings have been submitted by utility authorities, special districts and other taxing entities. In Omaha, Neb., nine Sanitary and Improvement Districts have filed for bankruptcy since 2010.

It's also important to note that only about half of states allow municipalities to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, while laws prohibit filings in other states.

List of Bankruptcy Filings Since 2010
All Municipal Bankruptcy Filings: 28
City and Locality Bankruptcy Filings: 7

Municipal Bankruptcies Map
The map below shows all municipalities filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection since 2010, along with local governments voting to approve a bankruptcy filing.

Cities, towns and counties are shown in red. Utility authorities and other municipalities are displayed in gray. Read More

Economic collapse is inevitable, here’s why…

America is quickly approaching a catastrophic economic collapse. Before you dismiss this as hype or paranoia, take a few minutes to review the facts outlined on this page. The numbers don’t lie. At this point, the dollar crash is unavoidable… far from an exaggeration this is a mathematical certainty. As repelling as that sounds, it’s in your own best interest to learn just how bad the situation is.

According to the talking heads of mainstream press the economy is slowly recovering and the financial crisis is all but behind us, but we need a reality check. It’s time to stop being naive and start being more discerning. Instead of more false hope, we need the truth as bitter as it might sound… and the truth is, from our local municipalities, to our states to our federal government, we are broke… the truth is we can’t payback our debt without getting into even more debt… the truth is the housing crash of 2008 was just a small preview of what’s to come.

America is drowning in debt. The government’s liabilities are now growing at an exponential rate. Our national debt is on a vicious downward spiral.

To our detriment our government continues to pretend that we can borrow our way out of debt and only handful of our politicians are willing to admit that our nation is now bankrupt.

Contrary to rhetoric coming out of Washington, no tax hike or budget cut will get us out of this mess. The kind of measures that would actually bring about meaningful change to curb the financial collapse are deemed too severe to be even considered.

Examine the evidence outlined below, connect the dots and think for yourself. Read More

“All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer

''We've Reached the Point of NO RETURN'': Andy Hoffman



IS CENTRAL ASIA ON THE VERGE OF A WATER WAR?

Whether it’s Israel maybe pre-emptively striking Iran, Afghanistan spiralling into sectarian violence, Libya becoming home base for Al-Qaeda, or Syria continuing to be the site of a government-led genocide, there’s no shortage of potential dirty wars and ominous harbingers in the Middle East and Central Asia. While everyone is focusing on the recent turmoil in Benghazi, a new kind of conflict is rising in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that could eventually lead to the first water war of the 21st century.

It’s fair to say that when Louise Arbour, the hard-ass former UN prosecutor of war criminal Slobodan Milošević, lists her bets on future wars, the rest of us should take her seriously. In December 2011, writing for Foreign Policy, Arbour predicted Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two obscure Central Asian countries to most westerners, as potential combatants in a war over quickly depleting water resources. Judging by current tensionsbetween the two, she might be right.

Basically the Tajiks, who are already plagued by an Islamic insurgency, plan to build the Rogun dam on the Vakhsh River. The river is a major tributary to the Amudarya—the main water vein for downstream Uzbekistan. While the hydroelectric power from the proposed dam would make the Tajiks rich, it’ll make the Uzbeks thirsty. This has been a problem for Uzbekistan since Stalin’s failed plan for the Transformation of Nature during the 1940s drained the Aral Sea (Uzbekistan’s main water reserve) to irrigate cotton fields.

Pissing off the Uzbeks, however, may not be what the Tajiks want to do. Besides being geopolitical wildcards, Uzbek President Islam Karimov is widely considered a tyrant, ruling over his country’s oil reserves and national wealth since a questionable 1991 election. He’s also a cheap imitation Saddam. And like any delusional dictator, he’s known for his outlandish behavior: like rewriting history books to make himself the spiritual descendant of the warlord Tamerlane, owning a soccer team in the national league (who are conveniently champions nearly every year), and allegedly ordering the assassination of a political dissident hiding in Sweden. Human Rights Watch even accused his regime of systematic torture, including boiling rebels alive. Read More

Afghan schools and clinics built by British military forced to close

Schools and health centres built by the British in Afghanistan as part of the military's counter-insurgency strategy are being forced to close down because President Karzai's government cannot afford to pay for them, the Guardian has learned.

Britain has spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the province over the last six years building and restoring services decimated by conflict and the years of Taliban rule.

But the Guardian has been told that a confidential report compiled this year warned that some of the buildings in Helmand were constructed without enough consultation with the Afghan government and without thinking through how they would be maintained.

Senior British officials in Helmand are working with Afghan ministers to identify the schools and clinics that are deemed "critical" and should remain open, while most of the rest could be phased out between now and the end of 2014.

The report made clear the British "had built too much" in the province, and that this was a consequence of the UK military trying to win "hearts and minds" among the populace. Read More

Cops Track Your Face through Phones | Big Brother Watch

Matina Stevis on Human and Capital Flight into and out of Europe

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck OFF THE EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN at a depth of 22.6 km (14 miles), the quake hit at 10:11:15 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 243 km (151 miles) ESE from Hachinohe, Honshu, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

In 2012, more soldiers have died from suicide than combat

The US army has instigated a service-wide "stand down" today, Thursday 27 September, so that soldiers can focus on suicide prevention training. In 2012, more soldiers have died from suicide than combat. The army isn't ignoring the problem and trying to be proactive. The same can be said for how the US deals with its veterans, which gives me pause for thought.

When I left the British army, in 2010, I became a veteran – though that is barely recognised or relevant in the UK. You become a straightforward civilian, severed from your military past. But when I went to study in the US, I discovered my veteran status was enthusiastically acknowledged and lauded.

During two years of graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, I couldn't but notice the stark differences between the US and UK veteran systems and what that might indicate about each society. I met an ex-US army sergeant medic at university who'd served in Iraq. The government-sponsored GI bill paid all his tuition and for living expenses.

Though amounts vary across states, on average it's worth $89,000 (£60,000) for a four-year undergraduate degree. British veterans have access to the Enhanced Learning Credits Administration Service that offers from $4,500 to $9,000 (£3,000 to £6,000) to pursue higher education, but only for particular courses at limited UK universities. Read More

4.7 Magnitude Earthquake BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake has struck the BONIN ISLANDS, JAPAN REGION at a depth of 10.1 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 09:52:49 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 157 km (98 miles) East from Chichi-shima, Bonin Islands, Japan
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

Top Five Worst Obamacare Taxes Coming in 2013

Of the twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare, below are the five worst that will be foisted upon Americans for the first time on January 1, 2013.

The Obamacare Medical Device Tax – a $20 billion tax increase: Medical device manufacturers employ 409,000 people in 12,000 plants across the country. Obamacare imposes a new 2.3 percent excise tax on gross sales – even if the company does not earn a profit in a given year. In addition to killing small business jobs and impacting research and development budgets, this will increase the cost of your health care – making everything from pacemakers to prosthetics more expensive.

The Obamacare “Special Needs Kids Tax” – a $13 billion tax increase: The 30-35 million Americans who use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to pay for their family’s basic medical needs will face a new government cap of $2,500 (currently the accounts are unlimited under federal law, though employers are allowed to set a cap).

There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children. There are several million families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education. Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. This Obamacare tax provision will limit the options available to these families.

The Obamacare Surtax on Investment Income – a $123 billion tax increase: This is a new, 3.8 percentage point surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single). This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income: Read More

Peter King calls for Susan Rice’s resignation

Rep. Peter King called for the resignation Friday of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for initially saying that the deadly Sept. 11 assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was spontaneous.

“I believe that this was such a failure of foreign policy messag[ing] and leadership, such a misstatement of facts as was known at the time … for her to go on all of those shows and in effect be our spokesman for the world and be misinforming the American people and our allies and countries around the world, to me, somebody has to pay the price for this,” the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee told CNN.

In a Friday statement, Director of Public Affairs for National Intelligence Shawn Turner sought to explain the change that eventually lead President Barack Obama to say the attacks were terrorism and “not a mob action.”

“In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo. We provided that initial assessment to executive branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly and provide updates as they became available.

Throughout our investigation we continued to emphasize that information gathered was preliminary and evolving,” Turner said. Read More

Dead one, dozens injured in Explosions at Chemical plant in Hyogo Pref., Japan

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- A firefighter died and dozens of other people were injured in explosions at a chemical factory in Hyogo Prefecture on Saturday, local fire department and police officials said.

The explosions occurred as firefighters were trying to control a fire that broke out at Nippon Shokubai Co.'s plant in Himeji, western Japan, and also caused a nearby fire engine to catch fire, according to the officials.

Firefighter Nagahiro Yamamoto, 28, died of burns all over his body, they said. At least 17 others, including police officers and plant workers, sustained serious or slight injuries, while the total number of injured, including those who were not taken to hospital by ambulance, is likely to total more than 30, they said.

A male employee of Nippon Shokubai's Himeji plant called the fire department at around 2:05 p.m. Saturday, saying an abnormal reaction occurred and was producing smoke, according to the officials.

The plant's officials said the explosion occurred at a tank for manufacturing acrylic acid. Read More

Iraq jailbreak: 15 Killed

(CNN) -- At least 15 people died and dozens more were injured in a dramatic jailbreak in northern Iraq, an Interior Ministry official said Friday.

Armed men detonated two car bombs Thursday at the gates of a jail in Tikrit. The explosions triggered clashes with security forces and led to the escape of 80 prisoners.

Ten security forces and five prisoners died. Twenty security forces and 20 prisoners were wounded.

The assailants wore police uniforms and used cars similar to those driven by police, a police source told the National Iraqi News Agency.

The attackers took over the Tasfirat jail after setting off the car bombs and clashing with authorities, the official said. Afterward, security forces surrounded the jail and engaged in a battle to regain control from the armed men inside, he said.

The official told CNN that 80 prisoners managed to escape and Tikrit remains under a curfew. Read More

State media: China launches 2nd satellite for Venezuela

(CNN) -- China launched a second satellite for the Venezuelan government Saturday, state media reported, days before President Hugo Chavez runs for re-election.

The observation satellite named Miranda launched from the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu.

It is Venezuela's second satellite in orbit, according to the Venezuela State News Agency, AVN.
The first one -- a telecommunications satellite -- was launched by China in 2008. It is named after Venezuelan independence hero, Simon Bolivar, the news agency said.

President Hugo Chavez, along with cabinet members and the Chinese ambassador to Venezuela, watched the latest launch from his palace in Caracas. Read More

Typhoon Jelawat roars over Japan's island of Okinawa

(CNN) -- Typhoon Jelawat roared over the Japanese island of Okinawa on Saturday, weather agencies said, the latest to hit the region in recent weeks.

The typhoon is expected to rake the east coast of the mainland before making there Sunday.

Jelawat is a "very strong" storm with maximum sustained winds near the center of just over 100 mph (165 km/h), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. A NASA advisory said the cyclone was comparable to a category 3 hurricane.

If it maintains its current path straight up the Ryukyu island chain, the center should roll ashore the mainland south of Osaka City in a day, the meteorological agency said.

But the cyclone has lost some of its might, and should continue weakening while moving into colder waters, said CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis. Wind troughs out of China could divert Jelawat away from land and into the open Pacific Ocean.

This has not kept Okinawa from feeling the might of Jelawat's gusts, although there have been no reports of major damage. Read More

Syrian rebels claim knowledge of chemical weapons sites...Would you trust these Rebels with chemical weapons?

(CNN) -- A series of videos uploaded to YouTube by Syrian activists suggests rebels are beginning to focus on where Bashar al-Assad's regime stores its chemical weapons.

At the same time, a former senior officer in the Syrian Army who says he was chief of staff of chemical warfare has told CNN that Iranian technicians are helping with the regime's research into chemical weapons. He also said they could be easily transferred by the regime to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia organization that fought a border conflict with Israel in 2006.

The videos were first uploaded in July. Narrators using Google Earth satellite imagery describe in detail several sites where they allege that chemical weapons and missiles are stored or manufactured.

There is no way for CNN to independently verify what the videos purport to show.

Adnan Sillu, a former major general in the Syrian Army, told CNN Friday that moving the weapons would be easy for the regime should they be at risk of falling into the rebels' hands. Read More

US to Iran: Stop shipping arms to Syria

(CNN) -- The United States warned Iran to stop providing arms to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even as it announced millions of dollars in non-lethal support for the opposition attempting to oust the government.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on neighboring countries of Syria to take steps to prevent their land and airspace from being used by Iran to transport weapons to al-Assad's forces.

"The regime's most important lifeline is Iran," Clinton told reporters Friday at a gathering of the Friends of Syria, an ad hoc group meeting in the shadow of the U.N. General Assembly.

Clinton's warning followed an admission, according to Iranian state-run media reports, by the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that its elite Qud Force was operating inside Syria but not involved directly in military action.

"There is no longer any doubt that Tehran will do whatever it takes to protect its proxy and crony in Damascus," she said. Read More

FRENCH AUSTERITY: Could tough budget spark financial war?

(CNN) -- The announcement was carefully staged and the tone decidedly solemn. When French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault faced the cameras on Friday morning in Paris, at the Elysee Palace, to divulge President Francois Hollande's first budget, he appropriately talked of a "combat" budget.

The French daily newspaper Libération even commented that "a state of (financial) war had been declared." Having had to find an extra 30 billion euros, notably from the wealthiest taxpayers' pockets, the 2013 French budget has been heralded as the tightest since the Second World War.

France is not used to tightening its belt and this is perhaps precisely why the country is to face a national debt of 91.3% of GDP next year, and why it feels like war today.

Since his election in May, Hollande has repeatedly said that he would break the spiral of debt while safeguarding benefits for those who need it most. A delicate balance, to say the least. Read More

Canada aware of two cyber attacks, won't say if China involved

(Reuters) - Canada said on Friday it was aware of an attempt by hackers to target a domestic energy company, the second time in 24 hours Ottawa had acknowledged a cyber security attack against a Canadian firm.

In both cases the Canadian government declined to comment on reports which suggested a Chinese connection.

The news comes at an awkward time for Canada's Conservative government, which is deciding whether to approve a landmark $15.1 billion bid by China's CNOOC Ltd to take over Canadian oil producer Nexen Inc.

Some Conservative legislators are wary of the proposed CNOOC takeover, in part because of what they say are China's unfair business practices. Read More

Four members of former Yemen president's party killed in ambush

(Reuters) - Armed men killed four members of the political party of Yemen's ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh in an ambush outside Sanaa on Friday night, the party said.

General People's Congress officials were travelling on the road to Maareb province when attacked, the party's website said. Eight were wounded.

It was not clear if the group was targeted because of its party affiliation and a tribal source in al-Jawf where some of the men worked said it could have been a tribal vendetta.

Saleh was forced to step down as president in February after a year-long uprising. Restoring stability in Yemen has become an international priority for fear that Islamist militants will further entrench themselves in a country neighboring top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and lying on major world shipping lanes.

Saleh was succeeded by his deputy Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has U.S. backing for a transition process that aims to balance the interests of groups including a Shi'ite Islamist movement in north Yemen, southern secessionists and tribal and Sunni Islamist groups which benefitted under Saleh's rule. Read More

Czech Republic president attacked with an air gun

Sept. 29 - The president of the Czech Republic is attacked with an air gun at a public event, but suffers no injuries. Sarah Charlton reports.

U.S. plan for emergency Egypt aid hits roadblock

(Reuters) - The Obama administration notified Congress on Friday that it planned to transfer $450 million to Egypt to help the country's new government, but the move was quickly blocked by a skeptical lawmaker who said she saw no immediate need for the cash infusion.

Representative Kay Granger, the Texas Republican who chairs the House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee for foreign operations, said the administration's $450 bailout proposal for Egypt was premature.

"This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the U.S. - Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so," Granger said.

"I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance, and I cannot support it at this time," she said, adding that she had put a hold on the funds.

Granger's action reflects unease among some U.S. lawmakers over the new Islamist government that has taken the reins in Egypt after a pro-democracy uprising overthrew longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak last year.

The Obama administration has nevertheless vowed to push forward with a $1 billion aid package for Cairo,...Read More

U.S., Gulf countries seek to advance missile defense plan

(Reuters) - The United States and its Gulf partners are looking to deepen cooperation on missile defense as tensions rise with Iran, and announcements could come soon on new purchases, U.S. officials said on Friday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) officials in New York as Washington seeks to boost regional defenses against perceived Iranian threats.

"Our aim is to help our Gulf partners with their defense needs ... there is a missile threat that they face, we want to help them face that threat as best they can," one senior U.S. official said, previewing the meeting for reporters.

"We've had expressions of interest from our partners in the Gulf in additional missile defense capabilities," the official said. "We hope that we will be having announcements in the near future regarding those expressions of interest." Read More

Obama blocks Chinese wind farm in Oregon

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama blocked on Friday a privately owned Chinese company from building wind turbines close to a Navy military site in Oregon due to national security concerns, and the company said it would challenge the action in court.

The rare presidential order to divest interests in the wind farms comes as Obama campaigns for a second term against Republican Mitt Romney, who has accused him of being soft on China.

Ralls Corp, which had been installing wind turbine generators made in China by Sany Group, has four wind farm projects that are within or in the vicinity of restricted air space at a naval weapons systems training facility, according to the Obama administration.

"There is credible evidence that leads me to believe" that Ralls Corp, Sany Group and the two Sany Group executives who own Ralls "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," Obama said in issuing his decision. Read More

CVR Wynnewood, Oklahoma refinery boiler blast kills worker

(Reuters) - One worker was killed in a boiler explosion on Friday at CVR Energy Inc.'s 70,000 barrel per day (bpd) Wynnewood, Oklahoma, refinery, a company spokeswoman said in a statement.

Another refinery employee was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital, according to Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

There was no fire following the blast, which occurred at about 6:20 p.m. local time (1120 GMT) because the refinery was shut down for a 40-day overhaul, Rhodes said.

"There was no threat to Wynnewood or the surrounding communities," Rhodes said.

Neither the company nor Rhodes gave details about the injuries employees sustained in the blast.

Boilers are required at a refinery to generate steam for electrical power production, and for use in the crude oil refining process.

"All other employees are accounted for at this time," said CVR spokeswoman Angie Dasbach. "Company officials are assessing the situation and will provide updates as information becomes available." Read More

Somalia's al Shabaab rebels pull out of Kismayu bastion

(Reuters) - Somalia's al Shabaab rebels withdrew from their last major bastion of Kismayu overnight, the group and residents said, a day after Kenyan and Somali government forces attacked the southern port.

The loss of Kismayu will deal a major blow to the al Qaeda-linked movement, weakening morale and depriving it of revenue, but is unlikely to mark the end of its five-year rebellion.

The insurgents, who once controlled large swathes of the lawless Horn of Africa country, have been turning to guerrilla-style tactics, harrying the country's weak government with suicide bombings and assassinations.

"We moved out our fighters ... from Kismayu at midnight," al Shabaab spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, told Reuters on Saturday.

Rage threatened to strike back. "The enemies have not yet entered the town. Let them enter Kismayu which will soon turn into a battlefield," he said.

Locals confirmed the militants had pulled out under the cover of darkness but said the Kenyan troops, fighting under an African Union peacekeeping force's banner, and Somali soldiers were still camped on the city's outskirts.

"NOW WE ARE TERRIFIED"

There were reports of looting in some areas of the city.

"Al Shabaab has not perished, so the worry is what next," said local elder Ali Hussein.

One man who was loudly celebrating the departure of al Shabaab fighters from the city was shot dead by two masked men, residents said. Read More

China seeks to discredit Bo, supporters cry foul

(Reuters) - The Chinese government pressed ahead on Saturday with an effort to discredit fallen politician Bo Xilai, drawing an outcry from leftist supporters of the former leadership contender in a sign of the rifts that his prosecution could inflame.

Once a charismatic yet divisive star who stood out on China's stolid political stage, Bo is almost sure to face trial and jail after the ruling Communist Party announced his expulsion on Friday and issued a list of allegations: bending the law to hush up a murder, taking huge bribes and engaging in "improper sexual relations with multiple women".

The party buried Bo under the damning accusations at the same time that it announced a November 8 date for a congress that will anoint a new generation of top leaders - a lineup that Bo held barely disguised ambitions to join.

On Saturday, China's party-run parliament confirmed that Bo had been removed as a delegate, following his expulsion from the party and its governing councils, Xinhua news agency reported. Read More

U.S. intelligence now says Benghazi attack "deliberate and organized"

(Reuters) - The top U.S. intelligence authority issued an unusual public statement on Friday declaring it now believed the September 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, was a "deliberate and organized terrorist attack."

The statement by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that it represented a change in the U.S. intelligence assessment of how and why the attack happened. During the attack on two U.S. government compounds in the eastern Libyan city, four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.

Shawn Turner, spokesman for Clapper's office, said that in the immediate aftermath of the attack, U.S. agencies came to the view that the Benghazi attack had begun spontaneously after protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo against a short film made in California lampooning the Prophet Mohammad.

Turner said that as U.S. intelligence subsequently learned more about the attack, "we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists." Read More

Pilot Error 'Likely Cause' Of Nepal Jet Crash

A plane crash in Nepal that killed all 19 people on board, including seven Britons, was probably caused by pilot error, officials have said.

The aircraft, which was taking trekkers from the capital Kathmandu to the town of Lukla before they went on an expedition to Mount Everest, came down shortly after take-off.

It had been claimed the pilot of the twin-propeller Sita Air plane had reported hitting a bird, thought to be a vulture or kite, moments before the crash and this may have caused the crash.

But aviation ministry official Suresh Acharya said the pilot turned too sharply to try to get back to the airport without gaining enough altitude following the bird strike.

He said: "The pilot's failure to maintain the required radius is a likely cause of the accident."

He added: "A plane crash does not occur simply just because its engine was hit by a bird." Read More

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake OAXACA, MEXICO - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck OAXACA, MEXICO at a depth of 10.2 km (6.3 miles), the quake hit at 07:11:13 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 7 km (4.3 miles) Southeast of Cuajinicuilapa, Mexico
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake OFF THE COAST OF OREGON - 29th September 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck OFF THE COAST OF OREGON at a depth of 9.9 km (6.2 miles), the quake hit at 06:17:07 UTC Saturday 29th September 2012
The epicenter was 290 km (180 miles) WNW of Barview, Oregon
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time