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Dramatic Rise in Church Foreclosures Nationwide

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Last spring Calvary Baptist Church in Paterson, N.J., faced foreclosure after it was unable to pay its $30,000 per month mortgage.

The strain of possible financial ruin and even shutting the church after 125 years, tested the faith of its congregants and the senior minister, Rev. Dr. Albert Rowe.

"[The bank] filed the papers," Rowe said. "There was a date set for us to have a hearing but I did not think that we would lose the church ... I always had faith that, you want to call it a miracle, or something would happen. I always believed that."

Calvary isn't alone in its financial predicament.

Vader

New York Times: Democracy is Bad for US Foreign Policy

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© Latuff

Here's New York Times reporter Mark Landler on Washington's reaction to the popular uprising in Egypt against the anti-liberal democratic, human rights-abusing Hosni Mubarak, a "staunch ally."

Washington is "proceeding gingerly, balancing the democratic aspirations of young Arabs with cold-eyed strategic and commercial interests."

In other words, democracy and human rights are fine, but not when strategic and commercial interests are at stake.

Landler goes on to say that Washington's cold-eyed commitment to realpolitik and profits "sometimes involves supporting autocratic and unpopular governments - which has turned many of those young people against the United States."

Well, there's nothing amiss in Landler's observation except his downplaying of the frequency with which Washington supports autocratic and unpopular governments - often rather than sometimes.

Dollar

Hawaii bill would charge $100 for Obama birth info

obama,hawaii
© Unknown

Honolulu - Hawaii's government would charge $100 for a copy of President Barack Obama's birth records under a bill introduced in the state Legislature by five Democrats. The bill would change a privacy law barring the release of birth records unless the requester is someone with a tangible interest, such as a close family member or a court.

The measure hasn't been scheduled for a public hearing, a required step before it can move forward. A decision on considering the bill will be made by the House's Democratic leadership and committee chairmen.

The idea behind the measure is to end skepticism over Obama's birthplace while raising a little money for a government with a projected budget deficit exceeding $800 million over the next two years.

"If it passes, it will calm the birthers down," said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Rida Cabanilla. "All these people are still doubting it because they don't want the birth certificate from Obama. They want it from our state office."

So-called "birthers" claim there's no proof Obama was born in the United States, and he is therefore ineligible to be president. Many of the skeptics question whether he was actually born in Kenya, his father's home country.

The Obama campaign issued a certification of live birth in 2008, an official document from the state showing the president's Aug. 4, 1961, birth date, his birth city and name, and his parents' names and races.

Cell Phone

Stephen Glover: How Rupert Murdoch Lost Control of His Own Story

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© Richard Clement/Reuters
Rupert Murdoch has extended his stay in London to deal with the phone-hacking crisis.
He doesn't need to prove that Brooks knew about phone hacking to conclude that she's not the person to sort out the mess

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal is spinning out of control. The damage it will cause seems likely to spread far wider than News International, the newspaper's parent company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, though obviously it lies at the centre of the storm.

David Cameron's political reputation is at risk for having hired as his spin doctor Andy Coulson, the editor of the News of the World when phone hacking took place. If Mr Coulson should be implicated - seemingly an increasingly likely outcome now that its former news editor Ian Edmondson is helping police with their inquiries - the Prime Minister's judgement and good sense will be seriously questioned.

Sherlock

Sundance Film Shows Corporate Influence on Justice

Susan Saladoff
© unknown
Susan Saladoff
A former lawyer has thrown a spotlight on the cash-fueled influence which big business has on America's judicial system, in a revealing film unveiled at the Sundance film festival.

Hot Coffee is named after the infamous case where fast-food giant McDonalds was forced to pay 2.8 million dollars to a woman who burnt herself with one of its drinks.

In the documentary Susan Saladoff, a lawyer of 25 years' standing, explains how America's corporate giants got their act together after the 1994 McDonald's case, pushing for laws to restrict consumers' right to sue them.

On the pretext of limiting so-called "justice jackpot" or "legal lottery" payouts, corporate bosses want consumers "to give up their rights to the court system, voluntarily, so the corporations can make more money," said Saladoff.

With multi-million dollar campaigns, major business groups have managed to get ceilings fixed in several states on the level of damages if a company is convicted, taking away juries' traditional right to set compensation.

Light Saber

Middle East: the Undoing of America's Mendacious Foreign Policy

masses of people
© Unknown

There may be plumes of acrid smoke rising from burning tyres in cities across the Middle East, but there is the discernible whiff of something else - fear. And it is not so much fear among the tens of thousands of people who are taking to the streets facing down paramilitary police forces in Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere to protest against their governments. It is rather more the fear among the rulers of these unwieldy regimes - a fear, or at least grave concern, that must also be seeping into the corridors of power in Washington and other Western capitals.

Dozens of protesters have been killed or injured by police firing on civilians inspired by the popular uprising in Tunisia, which has seen the president of that country fleeing to neigbouring Saudi Arabia. Egypt - the most populous of the 22 League of Arab countries and a crucial pillar of US foreign policy architecture in the Middle East - is now the focal point for the wave of street demonstrations sweeping the region. At least four people have been killed in that country and over 700 arrested in the past few days as thousands of citizens pour on to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other major Egyptian cities in defiance of a government ban on such demonstrations. Like their counterparts in Tunisia and other Arab countries, the protesters in Egypt are demanding the overthrow of the government - and not just the figureheads like Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, but the entire ruling elite.

Despite the vicious repression of these regimes and the evident ease of deploying lethal force, the people are refusing to be intimidated off the streets. There is a palpable sense of momentum for long-overdue radical change in the region ­ - driven by decades of frustration and anger with the rulers of these countries over a raft of social and political issues. There could hardly be a more comprehensive checklist of causes for revolutionary upheaval: massive poverty, unemployment and lack of housing, education, health, free speech, labour rights, voting rights - a veritable tinderbox of grievances all compressed beneath an egregiously wealthy elite who continue to sit on this incendiary mass only by the use of brutal state security apparatus. Notably, most informed sources agree that it is not Islamic fundamentalism fuelling the widespread popular unrest, but rather it is simple economic and social injustice and desire for basic democratic rights.

House

National Average: 492 Days From Default to Foreclosure

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© Unknown

graph,loans
492 days in October 2010 versus an average of 382 days in October of last year.

"In other words, people who default on their mortgages can reasonably expect, on average, to stay in their homes rent-free more than 16 months. In some states such as New York and Florida, the number is closer to 20 months."

Eye 1

The Egyptian intifada and what it may mean for Israel/Palestine

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© Matthew Cassel
Immediately after the Friday prayers ended, tens of thousands of Egyptians in Cairo's Imbaba neihgborhood took to the streets calling for the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak who has ruled the country for 30 years. Police fired tear gas and fired rubber bullets while protestors responded throwing stones and other projectiles.

The Egyptian uprising against the Mubarak regime is historic and important in its own right. But it may also lead to significant changes in the region that could be positive for the Palestinian cause. Israel is worried about a reliable ally being toppled next door.

The Mubarak dictatorship is a core pillar of the U.S./Israeli order in the Middle East, an order that completely ignores the wishes and aspirations of people on the ground. The U.S. and Israel are scared of the new order that is to come.

As As'ad Abu Khalil notes at his blog, "the Israeli strategy in the Middle East has been firmly set on the continuity of the Sadat-Mubarak dictatorship." Israel's peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 removed a military threat to Israel and secured millions of U.S. dollars and military support for the Egyptian dictatorship. The Mubarak regime got carte blanche for its repressive rule.

Che Guevara

Ken O'Keefe: Rise People Rise - The Global Revolution is Upon Us!

".....once in a generation...we get a chance for freedom...this is our chance.."

I have for many years lived with the knowledge that we, the masses, the working class, the poor, the white, the black, the brown, the immigrants, the Christians, the Muslims, the atheists, the soldiers/ex-soldiers, the peaceniks, the communists, the anarchists, the students, the people, across the spectrum, we all have a common cause. And yet, we have so tragically allowed ourselves to be duped, to be pitted against each other, fighting each other, finding a million ways to divide ourselves, or simply to be indifferent to each other. In this the tyrant's smile, they laugh and they joke, about how complete their control over us is. They have been laughing for far too long.


Dollar

Ayn Rand Railed Against Government Benefits, But Grabbed Social Security and Medicare When She Needed Them

Ayn Rand
© AlterNet

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping "moral philosophy" that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Her books provided wide-ranging parables of "parasites," "looters" and "moochers" using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).

As Michael Ford of Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream wrote, "In the end, Miss Rand was a hypocrite but she could never be faulted for failing to act in her own self-interest."