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US: Political Posturing - The Very Angry First Lady Michelle Obama

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© SodaHead
Michelle's back, and she's madder than ever. She was already pretty angry, seemingly unhappy with just about everything. As her husband wrapped up the Democratic nomination in 2008, she let fly her real feelings: "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I'm really proud of my country." A few months into her job as first lady, her French counterpart asked how she liked the gig: "Don't ask!" she reportedly spat. "It's hell. I can't stand it!"

She even seems to be mad at her silver-tongued husband. When the two were to set off on a luxurious 10-day vacation to Martha's Vineyard, she left early - four hours early - and flew up alone. And those private vacations. She's traveled to some of the world's most plush resorts, taking 42 days off in the past year - that'd be eight weeks of vacay time if she held down a normal job.

Black Cat

US: On Freedom of Information Act, Obama Wants a License to Lie

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© seetell.jp
It's not often that the liberal American Civil Liberties Union and conservative Judicial Watch agree on anything, but the Obama administration's lack of transparency has brought the two together. Obama's Justice Department has proposed a regulatory change that would weaken the Freedom of Information Act. Under the new rules, the government could falsely respond to those who file FOIA requests that a document does not exist if it pertains to an ongoing criminal investigation, concerns a terrorist organization, or a counterintelligence operation involving a foreign nation.

There are two problems with the Obama proposal to allow federal officials to affirmatively assert that a requested document doesn't exist when it does. First, by not citing a specific exemption allowed under the FOIA as grounds for denying a request, the proposal would cut off a requestor from appealing to the courts. By thus creating an area of federal activity that is completely exempt from judicial review, the proposal undercuts due process and other constitutional protections. Second, by creating a justification for government lying to FOIA requestors in one area, a legal precedent is created that sooner or later will be asserted by the government in other areas as well.

Smoking

US: Firms to Charge Smokers, Obese More for Healthcare

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© Reuters/Lucas Jackson
A pair of smokers stand outside of an office building in the Times Square region of New York April 1, 2009.
Like a lot of companies, Veridian Credit Union wants its employees to be healthier. In January, the Waterloo, Iowa-company rolled out a wellness program and voluntary screenings.

It also gave workers a mandate - quit smoking, curb obesity, or you'll be paying higher healthcare costs in 2013. It doesn't yet know by how much, but one thing's for certain - the unhealthy will pay more.

The credit union, which has more than 500 employees, is not alone.

In recent years, a growing number of companies have been encouraging workers to voluntarily improve their health to control escalating insurance costs. And while workers mostly like to see an employer offer smoking cessation classes and weight loss programs, too few are signing up or showing signs of improvement.

So now more employers are trying a different strategy - they're replacing the carrot with a stick and raising costs for workers who can't seem to lower their cholesterol or tackle obesity. They're also coming down hard on smokers. For example, discount store giant Wal-Mart says that starting in 2012 it will charge tobacco users higher premiums but also offer free smoking cessation programs.

Tobacco users consume about 25 percent more healthcare services than non-tobacco users, says Greg Rossiter, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, which insures more than 1 million people, including family members. "The decisions aren't easy, but we need to balance costs and provide quality coverage."

Comment: It should be clear by now that the US has become a fascist state than ever before. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with concern for the health of others - if that was the case, they wouldn't be paying people slave wages and selling poisonous food. With the economic crisis worsening, the fat cats at Wal-Mart and elsewhere want more for themselves and less for everybody else. They won't stop at raising healthcare costs for obese people and smokers. We're all in their sights.

Consider the fact that the US currently has the highest level of obese populace in the world. And the fact that most people who smoke aren't smoking organic tobacco (which has proven to be beneficial for some). The underlying health problems of people who happen to smoke commercial cigarattes are caused by off-the-charts stress levels from living in a world dominated and controlled by psychopaths.

This is another sign of a totalitarian takeover by rich psychopaths who only care about filling their pockets. And a sure sign that the US's reign as a so called "first world country" is coming to an end.


Attention

Spain's town hall meltdown

Madrid protest
© AFP/Getty
Plans to reform the pension system has led to protests in Madrid
Cuts are now biting deep into civic life. One council has even bet its budget on the lottery

If Carmen Martinez Gomez, a nurse, wants to see the effects of the dramatic spending cuts Spain is currently enduring, all she has to do is glance down from her seventh-floor balcony at the building work below on the Metro, Granada's first underground line.

It is less than 10 miles long, but the Metro has already been five years in the making. And with its workers unpaid since January, its inauguration has just been put back again, reports said last week, until 2013. "It feels as if it's never going to be finished," Ms Martinez says. "The whole of Camino de Ronda" - three miles long and one of Granada's main arterial streets - "looks as if a bomb hit it. Shops are going out of business because there's virtually no through traffic, and for the elderly and disabled it's very difficult to cross the road. The project has split the city in two."

The reason for the interminable delays in Granada's Metro is simple: no money - and it's a grimly familiar story. As early as this summer, Pedro Arahuete, mayor of Segovia and president of the country's federation of municipalities, said that 40 per cent of Spain's town halls or ayuntamientos were in severe economic difficulties, or, as he graphically put it, being "financially strangled". And all across Spain, ayuntamientos and regional councils such as Andalusia's Junta, which is financing the Granada Metro's construction, are in the process of making massive cuts, with about €5bn due to be pruned from budgets across Spain in 2012's last quarter alone.

But with a total town hall debt government figures show to be nearly eight times that amount - €37bn - the cuts are far from being the last notch set to be tightened on Spain's collective belt. They are largely designed to bring a public deficit into line with EU ceilings of 3 per cent of GDP in 2013 at a painfully fast pace. The most dramatic steps to try to balance the books are being taken in the village of Cacabelos in Castile. With his village facing debts of €1m, the mayor's brainwave was to bet the annual budget on the national lottery. Their number did not come up.

Play

CNN: "OH MY GOD! Ron Paul Is Making Sense!"


Chess

UK: St Paul's Cathedral dean resigns over Occupy London protest row

Occupy London Jesus
© Elizabeth Dalziel/AP
Graeme Knowles, the dean of St Paul's, stands down citing fierce criticism of the cathedral's response to the Occupy London protest group

The dean of St Paul's Cathedral, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has resigned, saying fierce criticism of the cathedral's response to the Occupy London protest group, which has spent more than a fortnight camped against its walls, made his position untenable.

The departure of such a senior figure - his replacement must be approved by the Queen - is a significant blow to the cathedral and the wider Anglican church. Both have visibly struggled to offer a coherent reaction to the camp, in particular whether it should be forcibly evicted. Knowles's departure comes four days after another senior St Paul's figure, Giles Fraser, the canon chancellor, quit.

Graeme Knowles
© John Stillwell/PA
The dean of St Paul's Cathedral, Graeme Knowles, has resigned with immediate effect.
While Fraser stepped down over a specific objection to force being used to evict protesters from the 200 or so tents that have been set up close to the cathedral, Knowles resigned amid a general sense that the St Paul's hierarchy had dithered. This was particularly the case over the week-long closure of the cathedral, the first since the second world war, because of apparent health and safety issues which were never fully explained.

Yoda

One-Time Priest Crusades for Abuse Victims Suing Catholic Church

ex-priest defends abused kids
© Unknown
Patrick Wall as a seminarian and junior monk at Saint John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota in the late 1980s.
As a young man studying for the priesthood, Patrick Wall imagined life as a professor and football coach at a Catholic university.

It didn't work out that way. Two decades later, Wall has not only left the Catholic Church, he has become one of its most tireless opponents.

He's an ex-priest, driven from ministry by the feeling that his superiors used him to help cover up sex abuse by other clergymen.

And he's using the training he gained as a priest to work with victims of abuse who want to take the church to court.

Since 1991, Wall says he has consulted on more than 1,000 abuse cases, helping lawyers pick apart defenses mounted by dioceses from Alaska to Australia.

Now a senior consultant at the law firm of Manly and Stewart in Southern California, Wall spoke to CNN on the sidelines of a recent conference for legal and religion scholars at Cardiff Law School in Wales.

Light Saber

UNESCO Gives Palestinians Full Membership

UNESCO palestine membership
© Unknown
The United Nations' cultural agency decides to give Palestinians full membership of the body, a vote that will boost their bid for recognition as a state at the United Nations. UNESCO is the first U.N. agency the Palestinians have sought to join as a full member since President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23. The United States, Canada and Germany voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain abstained. Washington is likely to cut funding to UNESCO over the vote.

View video here

Newspaper

Perry Tales : Perry's economic plan is Oil Industry wishlist to Santa.


Heart - Black

US, New York: Fiend Attacks 'Occupy' Protester in Her Tent

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© Warzer Jaff
A pedal-powered generator lies idle yesterday in a wet and snowy Zuccotti Park.
Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park battened down the hatches yesterday as the early October snow turned their tents into igloos, but the close quarters also made easy pickings for one predator.

A sex fiend barged into a woman's tent and sexually assaulted her at around 6 a.m., said protesters, who chased him from the park.

"Pervert! Pervert! Get the f--k out!" said vigilante Occupiers, who never bothered to call the cops.

"They were shining flashlights in his face and yelling at him to leave," said a woman who called herself Leslie, but refused to give her real name.

She said that weeks earlier another woman was raped.

"We don't tell anyone," she said. "We handle it internally. I said too much already."

With temperatures in the low 30s and their gas-powered generators confiscated by the FDNY, protesters defiantly braved the cold as the occupation hit the 30-day mark.