Sunday, July 31, 2011

US Commanders Concerned About Ramadan Fighting

KABUL, Afghanistan — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has until mid-October to submit a plan for the initial withdrawal of American troops. His decisions may hinge in part on whether the latest surge in attacks continues through the holy month of Ramadan.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says commanders are hearing that Taliban leaders may try to regain lost ground during the Islamic holy period, which begins Monday.

Mullen says Marine Gen. John Allen, who has just taken over as top U.S. commander here, needs time to evaluate security needs and put together a detailed withdrawal plan.

Mullen's comments for the first time laid out a deadline for Allen to submit plans for withdrawing 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of the year.

Increasing muscle mass may lower type 2 diabetes risk

The more your muscle mass, the lesser is your risk of developing diabetes, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has shown .

Previous studies have shown that very low muscle mass is a risk factor for insulin resistance, the major precursor of type 2 diabetes, but new research has suggested otherwise.

Previous studies have shown that very low muscle mass is a risk factor for insulin resistance, the major precursor of type 2 diabetes, but new research has suggested otherwise.

For the study, published online Thursday and in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers analyzed data from 13,644 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III) to determine whether there was a correlation between higher levels of muscle mass and lower levels of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
After controlling for age, race and other factors, the scientists found that for each 10% increase in the skeletal muscle index — the ratio of muscle mass to total body weight — there was a corresponding 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% decrease in pre-diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 79 million people in the USA have pre-diabetes, which means their blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not in the diabetes range yet.
The finding that more muscle mass is beneficial is consistent with what's already known about muscle and fat — that they do affect metabolism, says Daniel Rubin, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of Endocrinology at Temple University School of Medicine.
"Extra fat has bad effects, but more muscle has good effects. These data are also consistent with data we see on exercise, that it helps decrease diabetes risk, and that a lack of exercise and weight gain increase risk," Rubin says.
Srikanthan points out that the study was not an intervention, it was observational. In other words, the authors did not look at the effect of different kinds of muscle-building activities on diabetes.
It's difficult to know when looking at a correlational study like this one whether it's just a correlation or an effect, says Duke endocrinologist Susan Spratt.
"Are there other healthy behaviors that tag along with high muscle mass that reduce the risk of diabetes? We don't know from this study that if you increase muscle mass you will decrease insulin resistance, but we can infer that might be the case," Spratt says.
It's a welcome message for patients who have trouble shedding extra pounds, Srikanthan says: "We should consider monitoring improvements in muscle mass in addition to changes in fat.

White House, GOP discuss potential debt limit

WASHINGTON — White House officials and congressional Republicans are reaching toward a potential end to their bitter debt limit showdown, raising hopes that a deal could be in place by Tuesday to avert a possible federal default.
After weeks of strident partisan conflict, the two sides were discussing an accord that would raise the government's borrowing authority in two steps by about $2.4 trillion and cut federal spending by slightly more, according to knowledgeable officials.
Congress would also have to vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, a top-flight GOP goal. Unlike a bill approved Friday by the Republican-run House, none of the debt limit increase would be tied to congressional approval of that amendment.
Details of a possible accord began emerging Saturday night after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., said on the Senate floor that the two sides were trying to nail down loose ends and complete an agreement.
"I'm glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise, and hope it bears fruit," he said.
A Democratic official said that while bargainers were not on the cusp of a deal, one could gel quickly. A Republican said there was consensus on general concepts but cautioned there were no guarantees of a final handshake. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of confidential talks.
Any pact would have to quickly pass both chambers of Congress after a rancorous period that has seen the two parties repeatedly belittle each other's efforts to end the standoff.
Even so, the deal under discussion offers wins for both sides. Republicans and their tea party supporters would get spending cuts at least as large as the amount the debt ceiling would grow and avoid any tax increases. For President Barack Obama and Democrats, there would be no renewed battle over extending the borrowing limit until after next year's elections.
Under the possible compromise, the debt limit would rise by an initial $1 trillion.
A second, $1.4 trillion increase would be tied to a specially created congressional committee that would have to suggest deficit cuts of a slightly larger amount. If that panel did not act — or if Congress rejected their recommendations — automatic spending cuts would be triggered that could affect Medicare and defense spending, two of the most politically sacrosanct programs.
Obama and Democrats have been insisting on a one-shot debt ceiling increase of around $2.4 trillion, enough to last until 2013. Bowing to GOP pressure, they eventually agreed to include an equal amount of spending cuts and dropped their earlier bid for tax increases.

Details of a possible accord began emerging Saturday night after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., said on the Senate floor that the two sides were trying to nail down loose ends and complete an agreement.

"I'm glad to see this move toward cooperation and compromise, and hope it bears fruit," he said.

A Democratic official said that while bargainers were not on the cusp of a deal, one could gel quickly. A Republican said there was consensus on general concepts but cautioned there were no guarantees of a final handshake. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details of confidential talks.

Any pact would have to quickly pass both chambers of Congress after a rancorous period that has seen the two parties repeatedly belittle each other's efforts to end the standoff.

Even so, the deal under discussion offers wins for both sides. Republicans and their tea party supporters would get spending cuts at least as large as the amount the debt ceiling would grow and avoid any tax increases. For President Barack Obama and Democrats, there would be no renewed battle over extending the borrowing limit until after next year's elections.

Under the possible compromise, the debt limit would rise by an initial $1 trillion.

A second, $1.4 trillion increase would be tied to a specially created congressional committee that would have to suggest deficit cuts of a slightly larger amount. If that panel did not act — or if Congress rejected their recommendations — automatic spending cuts would be triggered that could affect Medicare and defense spending, two of the most politically sacrosanct programs.

Obama and Democrats have been insisting on a one-shot debt ceiling increase of around $2.4 trillion, enough to last until 2013. Bowing to GOP pressure, they eventually agreed to include an equal amount of spending cuts and dropped their earlier bid for tax increases.

In a bill the House approved Friday — and the Senate rejected — Republicans would initially extend federal borrowing authority by $900 billion, accompanied by $917 billion in spending cuts. They would tie a second $1.6 trillion debt limit boost to spending cuts of up to $1.8 trillion and approval of the balanced budget amendment.

The government has exhausted its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit and has paid its bills since May with money freed up by accounting maneuvers.

The Treasury Department has said it will run out of available cash on Tuesday. The administration has warned that an economy-shaking default would follow that could balloon interest rates and wound the world economy.

U.S. regulators close three small banks

Colorado bank failures this year could cost the nation's deposit insurance fund slightly more than $1 billion.
That represents a fifth of the $5 billion in overall losses to the fund from bank failures through July 22, said Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. spokesman Greg Hernandez.
Only Georgia, with 16 failures costing $1.5 billion, has taken a bigger bite. Colorado and Georgia combined account for half of the hit to the FDIC fund this year.
That $1 billion exceeds the $970.6 million that three Colorado bank failures in 2009, led by Greeley's New Frontier Bank, cost the fund.
Deposit insurance protects individual bank accounts for up to $250,000 and is a key reason why the country doesn't see bank runs during a financial crisis.
But when banks fail, surviving banks pick up the tab, through higher premiums to replenish the fund. Those costs eventually pass down to customers and investors.
And if things ever got bad enough, taxpayers could be asked to ante up.
"There is a bit of moral hazard involved in deposit insurance," said Matt Anderson, a managing director at Trepp, an Oakland firm that does analysis on commercial real estate and banking.
The moral hazard exists because bankers and investors, knowing they won't be fully liable if a bank collapses, may take bigger risks.
Although bank failures almost always wipe out the money investors put into banks, they also leave behind much bigger messes for everyone else to clean up.
"It is frustrating, but we built a business model that can absorb it," said Mariner Kemper, chief executive of UMB Financial Corp. "I try not to think about it too much."
The loss a failed bank passes on to the deposit insurance fund is one measure of its failure to properly price risk, said Denver banking consultant Larry Martin.
The losses at the five Colorado banks represent about 22 percent of their assets, which are made up mostly of loans.
"That is probably pretty much ballpark with what has been going on so far nationally," Anderson said.
His measures show that the bank failures in June nationwide passed on losses of 25 percent of assets, up from a 19 percent rate in April.

The FDIC said Xenith Bank of Richmond agreed to take over Virginia Business Bank's $85 million in deposits and purchase all of its assets, which total about $95.8 million.

In South Carolina, the FDIC said the three BankMeridian branches would reopen as branches of SCBT NA. Orangeburg, South Carolina-based SCBT would take over $215.5 million in BankMeridian deposits and purchase its assets of $239.8 million.

The three closures were expected to cost the FDIC's deposit insurance fund a combined $253.4 million.

On July 26, acting FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg told the Senate Banking Committee the balance of the insurance fund the agency uses to cover the cost of failed banks became positive in June after being negative during the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

The overall outlook for the banking industry, however, has been improving as the effects of the crisis and the recession it caused recede.

Bank failures are down so far this year and the FDIC expects the year-end tally to be below last year's total. In 2010, 157 banks failed, following 140 failures in 2009.

Apple holding more cash than USA

Apple Inc. may not have more money than God. But it's got more cash than Uncle Sam.

As the government struggled to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, the U.S. Treasury's cash balance fell to $74 billion this week. That's less than the $76 billion that Apple now has in cash.

It's not terribly likely that the government will ask Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs for help. But it wouldn't be the first time the government has asked for a bailout from an industry mogul.

In the mid-1890s, with the U.S. economy still recovering from the financial panic of 1893, the U.S. Treasury was in danger of going bankrupt as worried investors clamored to collect what they were owed from U.S. gold reserves. With few options left, President Cleveland met with New York financier J.P. Morgan, who pledged a whopping $60 million in gold. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $1.5 billion today.

The United States is currently spending around $200bn more than it collects in revenue every month.

Apple, on the other hand, is making money hand over fist, according to its financial results.

In the three months ending 25 June, net income was 125% higher than a year earlier at $7.31bn.

With more than $75bn either sitting in the bank or in easily accessible assets, there has been enormous speculation about what the company will do with the money.

"Apple keeps its cards close to its chest," said Daniel Ashdown, an analyst at Juniper Research.

Industry watchers believe that it is building up a war chest to be used for strategic acquisitions of other businesses, and to secure technology patents.

Bookstore Barnes and Noble and the online movie site Netflix have both been tipped as possible targets, said Mr Ashdown.

The company may also have its eye on smaller firms that develop systems Apple might want to add to its devices, such as voice recognition.

Apple dipped into some of its reserves recently when it teamed-up with Microsoft to buy a batch of patents from defunct Canadian firm Nortel.

The bidding consortium shelled out $4.5bn for more than 6,000 patents.

Mosaic church

Mosaic is a multi-site church based in Los Angeles, California, currently led by Erwin McManus. Mosaic was listed as one of the 50 most influential churches in the United States.
Thirty-five charter members of Bethel Baptist Church began meeting on January 3, 1943 in a rented store front in Los Angeles, California. In its humble beginnings, members brought their own chairs to the first service. By 1958, two more "missions" or services were established in Baldwin Park and Monterey Park, and weekly attendance in worship was averaging 250.

Growth Years
In 1969, at age 24, Thomas A. Wolf "Bro Thom" became senior pastor of the then-named First Southern Baptist Church of East Los Angeles. The '60s brought many changes to East Los Angeles with many groups resettling into new area in the county. The handful of people still attending were predominantly Caucasian/Anglo and elderly in an area that was becoming more and more mixed with Hispanic, Armenian and Asian families (and others from the lower and middle classes) moving in as Caucasian/Anglo families moved to the suburbs. The churches new make-up was approximately 50% Hispanic, 40% Caucasian/Anglo and 10% Asian.
Wolf brought enthusiasm, hope, drive and vision. He created a leadership team that reflected this new cultural make-up with Hispanics filling well over 50% of elder and leadership roles and Asian serving approximately 20% of these roles.
Located on Brady Ave, church members began to refer to the congregation as The Church on Brady. Although never officially changed this was how it became recognized. Wolf gracefully weathered the fall-out from traditionalists who worried over the term "Baptist" missing from church signs and communications.
Bro Thom, as he was called, developed and led the church in a common mission to "become a spiritual reference point east of downtown Los Angeles and a sending base to the ends of the earth."
Wolf pioneered "Oikos Evangelism": reaching out to one’s circle of influence; home church groups or "Share Groups". He fostered a new church, an American apostolic church, rather a church based solely on tradition. After examining American apostolic churches (including Willow Creek and Saddleback Church) George Hunter III , Reaching the Unreached (1997) found The Church on Brady to be "...the most apostolic congregation in America."
In the early 1990s The Church on Brady was responsible for more missionaries than any other church in the International Mission Board, regardless of size. Dr. Lyle Schaller states, The Church on Brady tenaciously and persistently pursued the perennial apostolic paradigm of church ... multiplication rather than church maintenance." The Church on Brady started many new churches both locally in or near Los Angeles and internationally.
By 1983 the original building on Brady was far outgrown and in need of repair. Wolf lead the church through a building phase that was completed in 1987. Even though many were sent out, Brady faced a constant issue of overcrowding due to perennial growth.
Initializing the Spare Not Conference on World Evangelism Wolf saw it become internationally recognized encouraging worldwide evangelism and influencing the thoughts and actions of hundreds of congregations and thousands of students, leaders and missionaries across the United States as well as like-minded individuals and organizations across the globe. Brady became the destination of those wanting to get closer to God and to learn to share with others. Brady was not a suburban church of professionals, but was composed of ordinary people.
In 25 years as Senior Pastor, Tom Wolf saw the rebirth and great growth of a vibrant, world impacting, multi-national community.

Transitional Years
In October 1991, Erwin McManus was first introduced to The Church on Brady as the keynote speaker at Brady’s Spare Not Conference on World Evangelism. He was then invited to move to The Church on Brady and Los Angeles to transition into the role of Senior Pastor.
Early in 1994, McManus officially became Senior Pastor. Wolf then moved into the role of "Teaching Pastor" and simultaneously accepted a teaching position at Golden Gate Seminary in San Francisco.
Born in El Salvador, McManus had moved at an early age to the United States with his family. He brought 15 years experience as urban church planter, evangelist, and speaker.
McManus built on the foundation set at Brady. Multi-media was the new tool in churches at the time. McManus encouraged use of these new tools making greater use of art and dance as weekly components of worship. Regular night-time services became part of the landscape.
A new name was sought with "Mosaic" being the accepted choice. It was at this time that the Sunday night service was moved to the Mayan Theatre, a nightclub in downtown L.A. Mosaic became a single church with multiple sites. In 2003 the property on Brady street was sold making Mosaic independent of land ownership.

Mosaic Today
Mosaic has been mentioned as one the "top 50 most influential churches in the nation" and has approximately 60 nationalities in attendance. Mosaic currently operates in seven locations: Pasadena; Beverly Hills; Downtown L.A.; Pomona; South Bay; Whittier; San Diego;. Associated Press called Mosaic a "hipster megachurch", describing it as a "congregation full of hip twenty-somethings who mostly work in the film industry and make short films for a hobby.

Church of Satan

Church of Satan is an organization dedicated to the acceptance of the carnal self, as articulated in The Satanic Bible, written in 1969 by Anton Szandor LaVey.

The Church of Satan has two types of members: Registered Members and Active Members. Registered Members are simply people who have been inducted as members of the Church, and there are no requirements to achieve this position. To be deemed an Active Member, a person has to be involved with the Church and local members. Active Membership is divided into five Degrees:
Active Members begin at the First Degree. One must apply and be approved for an Active Membership, and this is subject to one's answers to a lengthy series of questions. One cannot apply for higher Degrees, and the requirements for each degree are not open to the public. Promotion to a higher degree is by invitation only. Members of the Third through Fifth degrees constitute the Priesthood and may be addressed as "Reverend" (although the titles of "Magister/Magistra" and "Magus/Maga" are more often used when referring to members of the Fourth and Fifth degrees, respectively). Members of the Fifth degree may also be known as "Doctor", although "The Doctor" usually refers to LaVey.
Individuals seeking membership must be legally defined as adults in their nation of residence. The only exception made is for children of members who demonstrate an understanding of the Church philosophy and practices who wish to join. Their participation is limited until they reach legal adulthood.
The Church of Satan does not solicit membership. Those who wish to affiliate can become a Registered Member for a one-time registration fee of two hundred dollars ($200) in United States currency. Affiliates receive a red card declaring them as a member of the Church of Satan to other members.
Memberships may be terminated at the discretion of the ruling body of the Church of Satan consisting of the High Priest, the High Priestess and the Council of Nine. Upon termination, the issuing of a refund is ultimately left up to the High Priest's ruling, though generally 50% is returned to the cast-out member (the other 50% used to cover ruling expenditures).

The Church of Satan authorizes some Active Members as Agents, qualified to represent the Church of Satan and to explain the philosophy of Satanism to the media and other interested parties.

Members of the Priesthood act as spokespersons for the philosophy of the Church of Satan, which include the titles of "Priest"/"Priestess", "Magister"/"Magistra", "Magus"/"Maga". Members of the Priesthood make up the Council of Nine, which is the ruling body of the Church of Satan. The Order of the Trapezoid consists of the individuals who assist in the administration of the Church of Satan. The High Priest and Priestess act as administrative chiefs and primary public representatives; each position (High Priest and High Priestess) is held by a single individual at a time. The current High Priest is Peter H. Gilmore, the current High Priestess Peggy Nadramia.
The Church of Satan evaluates active members for the Priesthood by their accomplishment in society—mastered skills and peer recognition within a profession—rather than by mastery of irrelevant occult trivia. While expected to be experts in communicating the Satanic philosophy, members of the Priesthood are not required to speak on behalf of the Church of Satan, and may even choose to keep their affiliation and rank secret in order to better serve their personal goals, as well as those of the organization. Membership in the Priesthood is by invitation only.

Past & present Church of Satan High Priesthood
Anton LaVey — Founder & High Priest 1966–1997
Diane Hegarty — Co-Founder & High Priestess 1966–1984
Blanche Barton — Anton's Assistant, High Priestess 1997–2002, now Magistra Templi Rex
Peter H. Gilmore — High Priest 2001 – Present (5th Degree, Magus)
Peggy Nadramia — High Priestess 2002 – Present

The Church of Satan does not worship or support a belief in the Devil or other supernatural entities. "My real feeling is that anybody who believes in supernatural entities on some level is insane. Whether they believe in The Devil or God, they are abdicating reason," said Peter Gilmore. Gilmore defines the word Satan: "Satan is a model or a mode of behavior. Satan in Hebrew means 'adversary' or 'opposer'; one who questions.
Satanists within the Church of Satan adhere to these as guidelines on how to live. However, it is important to remember that Satanists generally do not view the Satanic sins, statements, and rules of the earth as things that one must go out of their way to do. The Satanist ideally sees these things as truisms and how they naturally live their lives, as opposed to a Christian or Jew, who would strive to follow the words of Christ or the mitzvot, respectively.

The Nine Satanic Statements
The Nine Satanic Statements outline what "Satan" represents in the Church of Satan:
Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence.
Satan represents vital existence instead of spiritual pipe dreams.
Satan represents undefiled wisdom instead of hypocritical self-deceit.
Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates.
Satan represents vengeance instead of turning the other cheek.
Satan represents responsibility to the responsible instead of concern for psychic vampires.
Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his "divine spiritual and intellectual development", has become the most vicious animal of all.
Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.
Satan has been the best friend the Church has ever had, as He has kept it in business all these years.

The Nine Satanic Sins
Herd Conformity
Lack of Perspective
Forgetfulness of Past Orthodoxies
Counterproductive Pride
Lack of Aesthetics

The Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth
Do not give opinions or advice unless you are asked.
Do not tell your troubles to others unless you are sure they want to hear them.
When in another's lair, show them respect or else do not go there.
If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat them cruelly and without mercy.
Do not make sexual advances unless you are given the mating signal.
Do not take that which does not belong to you unless it is a burden to the other person and they cry out to be relieved.
Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.
Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself.
Do not harm little children.
Do not kill non-human animals unless you are attacked or for your food.
When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask them to stop. If they don’t stop, destroy them.

Wikinews has related news: Satanism: An interview with Church of Satan High Priest Peter Gilmore
In the 1960s Anton LaVey formed a group called the Order of the Trapezoid, which later became the governing body of the Church of Satan. The group included: "The Baroness" Carin de Plessen, Dr. Cecil Nixon, Kenneth Anger, City Assessor Russell Wolden, Donald Werby, and Michael Harner. According to the Church of Satan historiography, other LaVey associates from this time include noted Science Fiction and Horror writers Anthony Boucher, August Derleth, Robert Barbour Johnson, Reginald Bretnor, Emil Petaja, Stuart Palmer, Clark Ashton Smith, Forrest J. Ackerman, and Fritz Leiber Jr. The Church of Satan was established at the Black House in San Francisco, California, on Walpurgisnacht, April 30, 1966, by Anton Szandor LaVey, who was the Church's High Priest until his death in 1997.
In the first year of its foundation, Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan publicly performed a Satanic marriage of Judith Case and journalist John Raymond. The ceremony was attended by Joe Rosenthal. The church also performed a public funeral for Church of Satan member Edward Olson, at the request of his wife.
The Church of Satan has been the subject of books, magazine and newspaper articles during the 1960s and 1970s. It is also the subject of a documentary, Satanis (1970). LaVey appeared in Kenneth Anger's film Invocation of my Demon Brother, acted as technical adviser on The Devil's Rain, which starred Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, and introduced John Travolta. The Church of Satan was also featured in a segment of Luigi Scattini's film Angeli Bianchi, Angeli Neri, released in the United States as "Witchcraft '70". According to Peter H. Gilmore, "Satanism begins with atheism. We begin with the universe and say, 'It’s indifferent. There’s no God, there’s no Devil. No one cares!
In 1975 LaVey phased out the Church's "Grotto" system and eliminated people he thought were using the Church as a substitute for accomplishment in the outside world. Thereafter, conventional achievement in society would be the criterion for advancement within the Church of Satan. At the same time, LaVey became more selective in granting interviews. This shift to "closed door" activities resulted in some rumors of the Church’s demise, and even rumors of LaVey’s death.
In the 1980s the media reported concerns of criminal conspiracies within the Church of Satan. Members of the Church of Satan, such as Peter H. Gilmore, Peggy Nadramia, Boyd Rice, Adam Parfrey, Diabolos Rex,and musician King Diamond, were active in media appearances to refute allegations of criminal activity. The FBI would later issue an official report refuting the criminal conspiracy theories of this time. This phenomenon became known as "The Satanic Panic". During this period, Nikolas Schreck (not a member of the COS) and Zeena Lavey (the younger daughter of Anton Lavey) appeared on interview with televangelist Bob Larson, during which they both refuted any Satanic criminal ties, and pressed Bob Larson on his own ideals, stating that it was hypocritical of him to endorse such claims by christians, pointing out the christian background of many criminals, and violent acts within christian history, such as the crusades.  The Satanic Panic culminated with a documentary conducted by Geraldo Rivera, on which Michael Aquino of the Temple of Set, and Zeena Lavey (Still a part of the Church of Satan at this point) both renounced claims that Satanists were ritualistically murdering and abusing children and animals as part of their religion.  Geraldo also indicated Ozzy Osbourne (who was also interviewed remotely) was Satanic, a claim he denied.
As the Church of Satan does not publicly release membership information, it is not known how many members belong to the Church. However, according to an interview with the Church of Satan, "interest in the Church of Satan and Satanism is growing all the time if our mailboxes, answering and fax machines, and e-mail is any indication.
In October 2004 the Royal Navy officially recognised its first registered Satanist, 24-year-old Chris Cranmer, as a technician on the HMS Cumberland.
On June 6, 2006 The Church of Satan held the first public ritual Satanic Mass in 40 years at the Steve Allen Theater in the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles. The ritual, based on the rites outlined in The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, was conducted by Reverend Bryan Moore and Priestess Heather Saenz.
In December 2007 the Associated Press reported on a story concerning the Church of Satan, in which a teenager had sent an e-mail to High Priest Gilmore stating he wanted to "kill in the name of our unholy lord Satan". Gilmore then reported the message to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who informed local police who arrested the teenager.

Suspect Killed After Stabbing L.A. Officer in Church

Four Los Angeles police officers were injured on Saturday, one of them critically, when a 64 year-old woman who may have been asleep at the wheel struck their cruisers, police said.

The 2:20 a.m. crash in the city's Woodland Hills suburb occurred as the officers responded to a fight at a loud party, said police spokeswoman Officer Norma Eisenman.

A 64 year-old driver at the wheel of a Jaguar struck two parked police cruisers, in a chain reaction crash that injured the four officers, who were standing outside their vehicles and were struck by them, Eisenman said.

The woman driver and all four officers were hospitalized. One officer remains in critical condition with broken ribs and other injuries, Eisenman said.

Police spokeswoman Norma Eisenman says the man was freed Saturday afternoon and attacked medics taking him to a hospital in a private ambulance.
Commander Andrew Smith tells the Los Angeles Times the man jumped out of the ambulance and ran into a church in Boyle Heights.
Smith says as officers searched the church with a dog, the man stabbed one of them through the bicep with an 8-inch knife. He says at least one officer then fired and killed the man.
Eisenman says the officer is in a hospital and is expected to survive.

Hope fading for missing N.H. girl

Tips continued to pour in Saturday in the disappearance of an 11-year-old New Hampshire girl, but so far none have led to the child, Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said.
"We are looking at those tips. We are honing the investigation based on those tips," she said.
The FBI offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the disappearance of Celina Cass, who vanished between 9 p.m. Monday night and the time her parents went to wake her Tuesday morning. Officials said a private citizen is also offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to Celina Cass' return.
Dive teams will be brought in Sunday to search area ponds, Young said.
About 100 investigators -- including FBI agents, New Hampshire and Vermont state police, local authorities and employees of the state's Fish and Game Department -- have been searching for Celina door-to-door in the small, tight-knit town of West Stewartstown.
"We are still aggressively, aggressively searching and hoping to bring Celina Cass home," FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kieran Ramsay said Saturday.

Residents said police canvassing hundreds of homes had collected household garbage and were going through it, looking for clues. Police also spent time at Back Pond.

Jane Young of the state attorney general’s office said dive teams would be brought in today, but she would not specify where they would search for the girl.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Kieran Ramsey, announcing the $25,000 reward, said, “This reward should not be read into that we are transitioning in any way in this investigation.”

“We are still aggressively — aggressively — searching and hoping to bring Celina Cass home,” Ramsey said.

Residents said they believed the rewards could be effective.

“That’ll get some gums flapping,” said Robby Kimball, 53, owner of Wayne’s Lanes and Jo’s Bar in neighboring Canaan. “Ain’t no doubt about it, whether it’s right or wrong, that’ll get some gums flapping.”

Investigators from multiple federal and state agencies, including the Massachusetts state police who arrived with all-terrain vehicles, again trekked through the rugged, wooded north country landscape.

“We have some very extreme terrain here, even the mountain goats don’t like,” said local emergency management director Bill Allen, adding there are plenty of places that could conceal a body indefinitely in the area on the Canadian border.

Nearly a week into the search, people here began to voice concerns Cass may never be found.

Domcrete debt dispute

President Obama will speak on the debt-limit impasse at 10:20 a.m. ET. We'll have more soon.

Our original post is here:

President Obama planned to make some kind of statement last night -- after the Republican House passed Speaker John Boehner's debt ceiling plan.

Instead, as he has for most of the week, Obama sat and waited as Boehner scrambled to find enough Republicans to get his plan through the House -- and eventually put off a final vote.

Largely sidelined since Boehner decided last week to break off direct White House talks, Obama and his team are constantly trying to plan the next moves in the debt ceiling dispute, hoping to avoid the prospect of a government default next week.

Administration officials expect the Boehner bill to pass today. They also expect the Democratic Senate to kill it, setting up even more talks on a potential compromise.

Officials said there are enough similarities between the Boehner plan and the proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to get a deal and avoid a government default next week.

"What a compromise looks like is pretty clear," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "Significant deficit reduction; a mechanism by which Congress would take on the tough issues of tax reform and entitlement reform; and a lifting of the debt ceiling into 2013 so that we do not have the cloud of uncertainty that is hanging over our economy right now."

Obama has not spoken publicly on the debt impasse since his prime time speech Monday.

After a tense day of congressional floor fights and angry exchanges, Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, called off a planned showdown vote set for after midnight, but said he would convene the Senate at noon Sunday for a vote an hour later. He said he wanted to give the new negotiations a chance to produce a plan to raise the federal debt limit in exchange for spending cuts and the creation of a new congressional committee that would try to assemble a long-range deficit-cutting proposal.
"There are many elements to be finalized and there is still a distance to go before an arrangement can be completed," said Reid, who just a few hours earlier had played down talk of any agreement. "But I believe we should give everyone as much room as possible to do their work."
Reid's announcement set off an almost audible sigh of relief on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers and their aides had been bracing for an overnight clash over the debt following a day that had seen a heated House vote and lawmakers trudging from office to office in search of an answer to the impasse.
The first indication of a softening of the hard lines that have marked weeks of partisan wrangling over the debt limit came in the afternoon when the two leading congressional Republicans announced that they had reopened fiscal talks with the White House and expected their last-ditch drive to produce a compromise.
Following the House's sharp rejection of a proposal by Reid to raise the debt limit and cut spending, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader and a linchpin in efforts to reach a deal, said he and Speaker John Boehner were "now fully engaged" in efforts with the White House to find a resolution that would tie an increase in the debt limit to spending cuts and other conditions.
"I'm confident and optimistic that we're going to get an agreement in the very near future and resolve this crisis in the best interests of the American people," said McConnell, who noted he was personally talking to both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, a favorite partner in past negotiations.
Boehner, who would have to steer a compromise through the House, said he based his confidence on the prospect of an agreement on the sense that "we're dealing with reasonable, responsible people who want this crisis to end as quickly as possible."
A Democratic official with knowledge of the talks said that McConnell called Biden early Saturday afternoon, the first conversation between the two men since Wednesday. The official said they talked at least four more times on Saturday as they tried to work out an agreement.
The deal they were discussing, this person said, resembled the bill that Boehner won approval for in the House on Friday more than it did the one Reid had proposed.

After McConnell sounded a hopeful note, Reid called members of the Senate to the floor to hear him dispute the claims by his Republican counterpart and accuse Republicans of failing to enter into serious negotiations even as the Treasury risked running out of money to pay all its bills after Tuesday.
"The speaker and Republican leader should know that merely saying you have an agreement in front of television cameras doesn't make it so," Reid said after returning from a visit to the White House with Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader in the House.
Trying to build momentum for his own proposal, Reid and fellow Democrats were working to win over Republican senators to support his plan to raise the debt ceiling through 2012 and circumvent McConnell.
"Americans are watching us and demanding a result that is balanced," Reid said.
The Senate Democrats' efforts were set back Saturday when 43 of the 47 Republican senators signed a letter to Reid saying they would not back his proposal, which would allow a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling in two stages while establishing a new congressional committee to explore deeper spending cuts. The numbers signaled that without changes in the plan, Reid would not be able to overcome a Republican filibuster, which requires 60 votes.
House Republicans signaled their disapproval of the Reid plan by holding a symbolic vote on Saturday, rejecting it by a 246 to 173 vote, in a move intended to show it had no chance of passing in that chamber. About a dozen Democrats joined Republicans in rejecting the Reid plan.
The pre-emptive vote could strengthen McConnell's hand as he seeks to shape any final compromise.
At the White House and in talks in congressional offices and corridors, most of the attention was focused on finding a way to define the precise conditions under which the President could get a second increase in the debt limit that would be needed early in 2012 under both Republican and Democratic proposals. Officials in both parties said another idea that had surfaced was to require a change in Social Security policy if the new committee deadlocked, providing an incentive for the new committee to act on its own.

Midair plane collision kills 4 in Alaska

TRAPPER CREEK, Alaska — Authorities say four people are dead after two small planes collided over Alaska.
Alaska State trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters says four bodies have been recovered from the wreckage of Saturday's crash.
One of the aircraft landed safely after the accident near Trapper Creek, while the other crashed in flames.
Authorities initially said at least two people were killed, but later announced that there were four confirmed deaths.

The two Cessna float planes collided at 2:14 p.m. near Amber Lake in the Trapper Creek area, about 90 miles northeast of Anchorage, the Alaska Department of Public Safety said.
One plane, a Cessna 180, crashed into the ground and became engulfed in flames after impact. Four bodies were recovered from the aircraft, Alaska State Troopers said. The names of the deceased were not immediately released.
The other plane, a Cessna 206, maintained flight and returned to Anchorage where the pilot, Kevin Earp, 56, of Eagle River, made an emergency landing at Ted Stevens International Airport. Earp was alone and not injured, officials said. However, the plane sustained significant damage as it landed on its floats.
The cause and circumstances surrounding the crash are under investigation. Troopers, the State Medical Examiner's Office, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were investigating the crash.

Federal Judge Rules Florida Drug Law

A federal judge in Orlando on Wednesday declared the state’s controlled-substances laws unconstitutional. A 2002 Florida law eliminated the requirement of a “guilty mind,” or “mens rea,” as part of a drug offense. Briefs attacking the Florida law, in which a defendant need not know that a substance is illegal to be convicted of possessing or selling it, had been filed by groups including the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union and dozens of law professors. Judge Mary S. Scriven of Federal District Court threw out the drug delivery charges against Mackle Vincent Shelton, and ordered a new sentencing hearing on other charges. Florida’s unique law expressly eliminating mens rea for drug offenses, the judge wrote, is “atavistic and repugnant to the common law.

Obviously, we are immediately drafting motions and pursuing this line on behalf of our own clients' (cases) that are pending, but we can't do much retroactively since those cases are closed," said Bob Wesley, public defender for Orange and Osceola counties. "I think it will be a robust line of litigation for all of us who appear in Florida criminal courts."
Tampa attorney James Felman, who won the landmark case, says the Florida legislature went too far.
"What the legislature attempted to do was essentially presume guilt and then let you come in and prove your innocence if you wish to avoid being imprisoned," Felman told
When the law was passed in 2002, Florida became the only state not to require that a suspect have knowledge that a controlled substance is illegal to be convicted. The law shifted the burden from prosecutors having to prove that a suspect knew to the defendant having to assert ignorance about the illegality of the controlled substance.
Attorney General Pam Bondi's office says they are currently reviewing the case. Many thing the state will appeal the decision.

California could make Mexican drug cartels

Authorities said they had seized 1,500 pounds (680kg) of processed marijuana, 27 guns and 11 vehicles over two weeks in Mendocino National Forest.

The 900,000-acre site is part of an area known as the Emerald Triangle for its high number of marijuana plots.

The raids are part of a wider campaign to remove marijuana from public land.

Marijuana for medicinal use is legal in California if you have a permit to grow it or a doctor's note to buy it.

But Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said there was no sign that any of the gardens raided were being used to grow medical marijuana.

In the past, Mexican drug cartels have been blamed for the cultivation large quantities of marijuana in California, though no details were given about those arrested over the past two weeks.

But US Attorney Melinda Haag told the Associated Press that 25 people were already facing federal charges.
Does anyone think that the drug cartels are going to go quietly into the night? They will not concede a multi-billion dollar cash cow to Mom and Pops or some Walmart-style corporate pot growing operation without a fight.

Just look at meth production and distribution in the San Joaquin Valley. A large chunk of the “jobs” it created have been lost to Mexico. The loss of American meth, manufacturing, if you will, means the distribution is more and more under the control of the Mexican drug cartels that make the Hells Angels look like Boy Scouts in comparison.

The reason why the cartels are as far north as the Mendocino National Forest is fairly clear. And it has a lot more than the fact it is a relatively isolated area given the forest is the size of Rhode Island. Marijuana grown in California’s North Coast forest tends to be of higher quality and fetches more money per ounce.

It would be Pollyanna to think that legalizing marijuana would do the same thing that legalizing alcohol did to illegal moonshine operations. Most moonshiners disappeared as big business moved to cash in.

Moonshiners didn’t execute police, kill innocent people, and terrify entire towns as the drug cartels do in Mexico.

Even so, how could the cartels hold onto their control of a large chunk of the marijuana market or event expand it if California legalizes recreation use of pot? The answer is rather obvious. If California legalizes pot for recreational purposes, there are 49 other states where it still would not be legal.

States rights are an important - and sacred - part of the constitution.

But in this case Californians may want to think twice about trying to thumb their noses up at Uncle Sam at the ballot box.

The drug cartels are getting more brazen with each passing day in Mexico. Should the door open a bit more in California, not much will stop the cartels from kicking it wide open.