On October 1 at the Greater Freedom Rally in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Sen. Jim DeMint stated that homosexuals and unmarried women who sleep with their boyfriends should not be allowed to teach. DeMint first addressed his concern during a televised debate in South Carolina in 2004, when he said teachers need to represent values and morals. DeMint believes hiring decisions at local schools are a local school board issue, not a federal issue.
Source: Huffington Post; The State
In recent months, deaths of contractors employed by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan have exceeded those of active soldiers. More than 250 United States civilians working as private contractors in war zones died between January and June 2010; during the same period, 235 soldiers died. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon has become overly dependent on private workers to carry out jobs once done by soldiers. Last year, the Department of Defense announced a plan to reduce the number of 207,600 contractors by 15 percent before 2015. Those positions would be in-sourced with full-time government employees.
In Afghanistan, some families decide to disguise their daughters as boys because of economic needs and social pressures. In a society that strictly segregates men and women, dressing girls like boys allows for greater freedoms, such as access to education, working outside the home, and escorting their sisters in public. A made-up son, called a bacha posh (literal translation: “dressed up as a boy”), increases the family’s standing in the community. The practice has been ongoing for generations though there are no statistics to show the number of Afghan girls who masquerade as boys. Parents cut their daughters' hair short and dress them in boys’ clothing. Once the daughter enters puberty and approaches a marrying age, she begins dressing like a girl.
Source: New York Times
An Indiana University survey sponsored by Trojan condoms drew data from nearly 6,000 participants between the ages of 14 and 94, covering a wide range of sexual behaviors, health practices, and perceptions. According to the center, it was the largest nationally representative survey on sexual health ever performed. The survey found that 85 percent of men reported their partners climaxed the last time they had sex, while 64 percent of women said they actually did.
Source: ABC News
Some of the nation’s largest lenders—Ally Financial, GMAC Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America—have conceded that their foreclosure procedures may not have been properly handled. In some cases, documents were signed by employees who did not verify amounts owed by borrowers or not signed in the presence of a notary, which is required by law. Jeffrey Stephan, head of Ally’s foreclosure documents processing team, testified in a sworn deposition in Florida that he did not review cases to make sure proceedings were legally justified or signed them in the presence of a notary. Companies that are uncertain whether they correctly followed the foreclosure process are suspending foreclosures to review their legal procedures. On September 28, JPMorgan Chase halted 56,000 foreclosures in 23 states. GMAC Mortgage suspended an undisclosed number of foreclosures. On October 8, Bank of America extended its suspension of foreclosures to all 50 states.
Source: New York Times; Washington Post
The military is pushing to develop, test, and deploy renewable energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The renewable technology includes portable solar panels, energy-conserving lights, solar tent shields providing shade and electricity, and solar chargers for computers and communications equipment. By 2011, the Air Force plans to have its entire fleet certified to fly on biofuels. The Navy has already taken deliveries of fuel made from algae.
Source: New York Times
Some states with Republican candidates running for governor could prevent or delay President Obama’s plan to expand the passenger rail system and to develop the nation’s first bullet-train service. Wisconsin received more than $810 million in federal stimulus money to build a train line between Milwaukee and Madison, but Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive and Republican candidate for governor, made his opposition to the project central in his campaign. Walker said he worries the state could be required to spend $7 million to $10 million a year to operate the trains once the line is built. In Ohio, John Kasich, the Republican candidate for governor, is against the $400 million federal stimulus project that would link Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati by rail. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor in Florida, is opposed to the planned rail line from Orlando to Tampa. Some candidates said they wanted to spend the stimulus rail money on roads and bridges, but the law required $8 billion of the $28 billion for roads and bridges to be allocated to rail projects.
Source: New York Times
On September 29, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt. The House also passed similar legislation. The Federal Communications Commission has been getting complaints about loud commercials since the 1950s. To address the issue, an industry organization produced guidelines on how to process, measure, and transmit audio in a uniform way. Before it can become law, minor differences between the Senate and House versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the November 2 elections.
Source: Associated Press
The Treasury Department estimates a $29 billion loss on the federal bailouts from the financial crisis. According to Treasury officials, much of the program’s money was returned and the losses are far below the $350 billion estimate made by the Congressional Budget Office. The Treasury arrived at its figure by adding in an expected profit of $22 billion it will receive on shares of AIG stock given by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Without those shares, the Treasury would have reported a $51 billion loss rather than a $29 billion loss, according to a report released by the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Source: New York Times
- Steve Marcus
- Col. Dave Belote, commander of Nellis Air Force Base, stands on a viewing platform in front of an array of solar photovoltaic panels at the base in Las Vegas, Nevada in this picture taken August 1, 2008. The 15 megawatt plant, consisting of 70,000 panels on 140 acres, provides 30 percent of the base's electricity needs. The U.S. military has a history of fostering change, from racial integration to the development of the Internet. Now, Pentagon officials say their green energy efforts will help America fight global warming.