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Troop increases in Afghanistan; soldiers doubt sense of mission: “Politicians need to clarify it more clearly”

soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission in Afghanistan

(quote)

German military troops are suffer from a lack of support from their countrymen, the new Protestant bishop for the Bundeswehr said on Tuesday, and soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission there, Dutzmann said. “In Afghanistan the soldiers notice how painstaking the civil reconstruction is. Politicians need to clarify the sense of the mission more clearly,” he said. Chaplains serving the soldiers there are answering more questions about the sense of life from these troops who face life-threatening situations each day, he said.

US Army deserter seeks asylum in Germany

US Army deserter André Lawrence Shepherd has applied for asylum in Germany, his lawyer told reporters on Thursday. Shepherd said he did not want to participate in a war that violates international law. He said he had submitted his asylum request on Wednesday, although the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees told the DPA news agency it did not have a record of such a document.

Shepherd, 31, has previously served in Iraq where he repaired and maintained Apache helicopters. "I believe that the helicopters are responsible for a substantial number of civilian deaths," he told reporters in Frankfurt. "I am ashamed that I was a part of these horrible acts." Shepherd has appealed to both the Geneva Refugee Convention and EU guidelines that provide protection from persecution for deserters if the military services in question are seen as having violated international law.  read more »

US national debt: $10+ tril, increasing $3.99 bil daily. US population: 305 mil; each citizen’s share: $35k

US National Debt has continued to increase an average of $3.99 billion per day since September 28, 2007

Shocking figures about the US National Debt:

(quote)

1.
7 Oct 08 - National Debt passes $10 trillion (Huffington Post)
Bush Administration adds $4 trillion to National Debt (CBS News)

2.
The estimated population of the United States is around 305 million.
So each citizen's share of this debt is close to $35k.

3.
The (National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$3.99 billion per day since Sept. 28, 2007!

(unquote)

Original Source: brillig.com

US national debt clock in Times Square runs out of digits for the first time as debt exceeds $10 trillion

National Debt Clock in Times Square in New York has run out of digits

(quote)

The US government's debts have ballooned so badly the National Debt Clock in New York has run out of digits to record the spiraling figure. The digital counter marks the national debt level, but when that passed the $10 trillion point last month, the sign ran out of digits for the first time.

The clock, located in Times Square, shows the amount of money owed by the US government. It was created by the late Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst, who put the sign up in 1989 to call attention to what was then a $2.7 trillion debt. The clock's owners say two more zeros will be added, allowing the clock to record a quadrillion dollars of debt.

as a temporary fix, the dollar sign has been switched to a figure - the 1 in $10 trillion

For the time being, the Times Square counter's electronic dollar sign has been replaced with the extra digit required. For its part, the digital dollar symbol has been supplanted by a cheaper version - perhaps a sign of the times for the American economy.

Some economists believe the $700bn bail-out plan for ailing US financial institutions could send the national debt level to $11 trillion.

(unquote)  read more »

Unforeseen consequences - 2002 vote for Iraq War dug $635bil hole in 6 yrs, now another vote $700bil to fill it?

cost of Iraq War

(quote)

Like the momentous 2002 decision authorizing the invasion of Iraq, Congress' vote on a $700 billion financial industry bailout figures to reverberate unpredictably, both for the economy and for the politicians vowing to protect it.

The White House and congressional leaders already have made up their minds. Confronted with the defeat of an earlier measure in the House this week and increasingly urgent warnings of economic hardship, they've begun rounding up votes the old-fashioned way.

They're buying them.

the War in Iraq costs $11 million per hour

A revised bailout bill includes tens of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the middle class, for homeowners who don't itemize their deductions, and for property owners in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Add on the $3 billion funding dollop for rural school programs over the next five years. And another $8 billion over the same period in disaster aid, much of it for Midwestern states. And toss in unrelated legislation, far-reaching in its own right, requiring insurance plans to provide better benefits for mental health.

None of these has any direct bearing on the problem afflicting Wall Street and the entire economy. Yet in the currency of Congress, each is rapidly becoming part of the solution.

Yet if the vote on Iraq is any indication, the consequences will be more profound than even the lawmakers understood at the time.  read more »

Tony Blair begins Faith and Globalization lecture series at Yale, says religion has potential to harm or heal

Tony Blair goes back to school - as Yale religion professor

(quote)

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair went back to school Friday, launching his new role as a lecturer on religion at top US university Yale. During the first seminar, he said that religious faith inspired some people to do harm but it also had the potential to do great things in the modern world. The "faith and globalization" course is intended to explore religious faith's power to bring the world's people together instead of driving them apart.

"I genuinely believe that the issue to do with faith and globalization is the single-most determining issue of the 21st century", said Mr Blair During the first seminar, "Faith is important because it motivates people...to do harm. But it also has the potential to do good." The course he is co-teaching as Yale's Howland Distinguished Fellow is linked to the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which seeks to work for peace between religions in an age of globalization. Blair is also a special envoy of the Mideast Quartet, the group of big powers attempting to coordinate a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

former British prime minister Tony Blair with student Lita Tandon  read more »

New Poll: Obama regains lead over McCain; voters show major concern with economic crisis, confidence in Biden

Barack Obama (L) with Joe Biden as they campaign together in Toledo, Ohio

(quote)

Despite an intense effort to distance himself from the way his party has done business in Washington, Senator John McCain is seen by voters as far less likely to bring change to Washington than Senator Barack Obama. He is widely viewed as a “typical Republican” who would continue or expand President Bush’s policies, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Polls taken after the Republican convention suggested that Mr. McCain had enjoyed a surge of support — particularly among white women after his selection of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate — but the latest poll indicates “the Palin effect” was, at least so far, a limited burst of interest. The contest appeared to be roughly where it was before the two conventions and before the vice-presidential selections: Mr. Obama had the support of 48 percent of registered voters, compared with 43 percent for Mr. McCain.

John McCain (R) with Sarah Palin

The poll was taken during a period of extraordinary turmoil on Wall Street. By overwhelming numbers, Americans said the economy was the top issue affecting their vote decision, and they continued to express deep pessimism about the nation’s economic future. They continued to express greater confidence in Mr. Obama’s ability to manage the economy, even as Mr. McCain has aggressively sought to raise doubts about it.  read more »

Lehman bankrupt, Merrill sold; worst day on Wall Street since 9/11 shakes major markets worldwide, shares tumble

Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy early Monday morning, which contributed to a dark day on Wall Street and in many major markets

(quote)

In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street’s history, Lehman Brothers, the 158-year-old, fourth-largest U.S. investment bank that predates the Civil War and weathered the Great Depression, filed the largest bankruptcy in American history; while Merrill Lynch, the third largest investment firm, has agreed to sell itself to Bank of America, the nation's largest bank.

tote board tracking the level of the TSX in Toronto's financial district on Monday

Investors suffered their worst losses since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Amid worries that the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the sale of Merrill Lynch might not be enough to stop the downward spiral, stocks fell sharply in the last half hour of trading. By the end of the day, the Dow Jones industrial average had dropped 504.48 points, or 4.4 percent, as a record volume of more than 8 billion shares traded hands on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the biggest decline since Sept. 17, 2001 - the day the index reopened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks - when it fell 7 percent, or 684.81 points.  read more »

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