Friday, February 1, 2013

Troops From Niger and Chad Join French Forces in Mali

Nigerian troops
About two thousand troops from Niger and Chad are now in Mali.

They are joining French and Malian troops in clearing out Al Qaeda rebel forces, who had been taking over the country.

A French led offensive cleared every town and city, and saw Al Qaeda forces head for the hills.

France is already talking about pulling their thirty-five hundred troops, out of Mali, and letting African forces take over the fight.

It is unclear exactly when France will be able to pull out, but as more African troops join them, it'll make it easier for them to do so.

Suicide Bomber Kills 22 in Pakistan

A suicide bomber killed twenty-two people in Hangu, Pakistan.

Friday's blast injured another forty-eight, when it struck a market outside two mosques.

One of the mosques was Shiite and the other Sunni, making it difficult for investigators to decide who it was aimed at.

The anti-Taliban Sunni Supreme Council meets at the mosque there, so that could have been the target.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, likely trying to avoid backlash for killing their own people as well.

Protesters in Cairo Besiege Presidential Palace

Protests, in Cairo, centered around the Presidential Palace, on Friday.

The protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the walls around the building and torched trees outside it.

Security forces fired back with water cannons, tear gas, and shotgun pellets.

At least one protester died and dozens more were injured, in the clashes.

Dozens have been killed in the violence, over the last week, and at least a thousand have been injured.

President Morsi threatened the protesters with political repercussions, saying all the violence was their fault.

Explosion Kills 33 at Pemex at Headquarters

Late Thursday night an explosion tore through the headquarters of Mexico's state oil company.

Thirty-three were killed and another one hundred and twenty-one were injured in the blast and resulting partial collapse.

Officials believe more may be trapped under the rubble, and searchers are trying to rescue them.

The company is at a loss for what caused the explosion, as it occurred in the HR area, nowhere near any gas or combustible materials.

Some are leaning towards a terrorist attack, carried out by drug cartels.

A team from the ATF is on it's way to help with the investigation.

Suicide Bomber Strikes US Embassy in Ankara

A suicide bomber struck outside the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on Friday.

A Turkish security guard, was killed in the blast, and two more guards and a journalist were injured.

Washington was quick to describe it as a terrorist attack.

Turkish authorities believe that the bombing was the work of a "domestic leftist terrorist group", but stopped short of signaling out a specific group.

However, state run TV blamed it on the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party Front.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

State Department officials are crediting the embassy's security with keeping the bomber, outside of the building.

Remembering: The Columbia

NASA's first shuttle, the Columbia began trips to space on April 12, 1981. Columbia had been scheduled to take it's twenty-eighth flight on January 11, 2001, but it was delayed.

After twenty-eight delays, and two years, Columbia finally made it's take off on January 16, 2003. During take off a piece of thermal insulation foam broke off and struck the left wing of the shuttle.

On the ground, NASA was aware that damage may have occurred, but decided not to tell the astronauts for two reasons. They felt that any damage wouldn't actually be significant enough, and if it was why stress the astronauts with it as nothing could be done.

On February 1, 2003 Columbia began reentry. As people watched her come in from over the Pacific, they were horrified to see pieces start to come off. Within seven minutes Columbia had been ripped apart, leaving a debris field over Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.

What mission control, and the crew of the Columbia, hadn't known, was that the impact had a put a hole through the heat shield. As Columbia heated up, during reentry, the heat tore through the inside of the ship, breaking her into pieces.

On board the Columbia had been Commander Rick D. Husband, forty-five; Pilot William C. McCool, forty-one; Payload Commander Michael P. Anderson, forty-three; Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel's first astronaut, forty-eight; Mission Specialist Kalpana Chalwa, forty-one; Mission Specialist David M. Brown, forty-six; Mission Specialist Laurel Blair Salton Clark, forty-one.

Missing From Texas: Susan Steinkamp, 57

Fifty-seven year old Susan Steinkamp is missing from Waco, Texas.

She was last seen on January 24.

Concerns are high as she has medical issues.

Susan is described as five foot five, one hundred and fifty pounds, with grey hair, and blue eyes.

Anyone with information should call the Waco Police Department at 254-750-7500.

Body of Missing New Jersey Woman Found

The body of a missing New Jersey woman was found.

Thirty-nine year old Sara Majoras had been missing from Lambertville, since early on Saturday morning.

On Wednesday, a body was found in a Lambertville canal.

Thursday evening, the medical examiner confirmed that it was the body of Majoras.

Police believe that it was an accident, that she fell into the freezing canal, and didn't make it out.

January Numbers -- Stagnate Means No Growth

Kitty is getting sick of living off of handouts.
(Photo Copyright 2012 by P-G Matuszak)
No matter how they may try to spin it, the recent economic numbers are bad.

U3 Unemployment is listed at 7.9% for January. It has remain relatively unchanged for months.

U6 Unemployment is reported at 14.4%. It also has remained relatively unchanged for months.

The Workforce Participation Rate is steady at a paltry 63.6%, unchanged.

The numbers of reported marginally attached and discouraged workers have allegedly dropped. Since the WRP has remained constant, the only thing that makes sense is that the people who gave up looking haven't bothered to try in over twelve months. It also means that fewer people tried to find a job in the past four weeks.

If you look back at the previous reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and my layman's attempt to explain my understanding of them, the trend is one of stagnation.

Stagnation is not growth. It isn't even change, much less positive change (growth). It is the result of some of the worst economic policies in our nation's history.

Now for the worse news. For those who somehow missed the report that was issued earlier this week, our Gross Domestic Product for the last quarter of 2012 was a shrinkage. We didn't grow. We shrank by .1%. That means our GDP fell 3.2% from a +3.1% growth to a -0.1%.  That is not prosperity. For those who haven't bothered to study the meanings of terms in the US Constitution, prosperity is referred to as "general welfare". Given the policies that have kept employment low, profits low, and threatened to take more of what people do manage to eek out, this is the exact opposite of "the general welfare". It is failure.

Article originally published on P-G Matuszak's Mental Aikido. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

From the Mouth of Matuszak: Yes, It is Discretionary Spending

Hi. I'm a socialist. Rewarding laziness is "Mandatory Spending"
and national defense is "Discretionary Spending".
 (http://landrieu.senate.gov/about/bio.cfm)

Mary Landrieu, a US Senator from the socialist outpost of New Orleans, recently made an interesting statement. She stated that our federal government's spending problem is with mandatory spending, not discretionary. She further stated that she would fight to keep that mandatory spending to keep on its current track rather than to reform it.
"I am not going to keep cutting the discretionary budget, which by the way is not out of control, despite what you hear on Fox News. It's mandatory spending that is rising rapidly. Because the greatest generation that gave us the greatest nation the world has ever heard is dying and they need hospice care, they need Social Security, they need hospitals. And if they want to cut them go right ahead -- I'm going to be a little more gentle," (From Fox News )
According to the socialist definition of "mandatory spending", this is true. By their ideology, "mandatory spending" has increased six times faster than "discretionary spending".

Discretionary Spending, by their definition, is spending that requires an annual appropriations bill in order to spend it. They define mandatory spending as any spending that is automatic based  upon previous legislation.

This confuses things for many people. She is correct, within her definitions. But, like most things, you need to pin people down to define their terms.

For your average American, "mandatory spending", when done by the federal government, would be those things mandated by our contract with that government. That contract is called the US Constitution. So, "mandatory spending" would be spending that is specifically mentioned in that supreme law of the land.

By Landrieu's terminology, "mandatory spending" includes things such as food stamps, housing subsidies, green energy subsidies, and other so called "entitlement" programs. Just like the misnomer "entitlement", this is a false narrative. Food stamps are not an entitlement. They are a handout that makes people dependent upon the government instead of independent individuals.

Landrieu specifically mentions senior citizens entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. Yes, those individuals are entitled to those payments. The reason behind their entitlement, for the majority of recipients, is that they paid into those systems. Had they invested in series-I US Savings Bonds, they would be getting that loaned money back plus interest. In effect, that is what their payroll deductions into Social Security and Medicare were, loans to the US Government.

So, Ms. Landrieu, let's twist this one around its one point and look at the truth. Where did all of their money go? Well, it went into the general fund. While bouncing around the general fund during the forty plus years they worked, you and your predecessors used the money for government spending. Much of that was on discretionary spending. Now you owe those people their money plus interest. So, now it is mandatory, yes. However, had there been a balanced budget amendment forty years ago, much of this shortage would not exist today.

In addition, no legislation supersedes the authority of the US Constitution.

You see, by Ms. Landrieu's  slang term "discretionary spending", military spending is discretionary with the exceptions of VA Disability, DoD Civilian benefits and DoD pensions (including civilians). Those she would call "mandatory". By her definition, military appropriations must be budgeted at least every twenty-four months. By legislation, the current cycle is annual instead of biannual.

Using a more logical and reasonable (and correct) definition of "mandatory spending", we have to look only at the US Constitution to find those parameters.

Article 1 Section 8 grants (and limits through the enumerated powers) congress its authority. It specifically states that taxes, excises, and duties are to be levied to pay public debts, maintain national defense, and perform its enumerated powers and duties.

Food Stamps are not enumerated nor implied anywhere in the document. Even the term "general welfare" does not refer to food stamps, social security, or housing subsidies. It refers to insuring the opportunity for prosperity. However, corporate bailouts and other poor fiscal policies enacted by the Senate, the Executive Branch, and shoved down our throats through the PPACA have done nothing to increase prosperity. In fact, we never recovered from the last (double dip) recession. Now we have found that the last quarter of 2012 showed a GDP shrinkage. Instead of a positive GDP, we have a negative 0.1% GDP for the quarter. That is another recession. So, Ms. Landrieu and her fellow socialists have done the exact opposite of "provide for the general welfare".

Article 1 Section 8 also mandates that congress apportion funds for postal roads, post offices, naval forces, and ground forces. The military forces must be apportioned and budgeted at least every two years if not more often.

Those are "mandatory spending".

The debts to those who paid into Social Security and Medicare are "mandatory spending".

Food stamps are not. Housing subsidies are not. Congressional salaries are not. Grants to study shrimp on a treadmill are not.

Stop misleading people. We see through your false rhetoric.

Article and commentary originally published at P-G Matuszak's Mental Aikido. Reprinted with permission.