February 28, 2013 (San Diego’s East County)--ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:
- Supreme Court Makes It Harder To Challenge Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (NPR)
- Cap Cod community considers taking down wind turbines after illness, noise (Fox)
- Needy families can apply for pet food stamps through donation-based program(ABC News 5)
- Threat of sequestration looms as deadline approaches (CBS)
- Justices asked to void marriage law provision (U-T San Diego)
- Cash-Strapped Postal Service To Launch A New Clothing Line (NPR)
- The true size of the National Debt (Washington Post)
- Mom takes on smart meters over privacy, security and health (Jewish World Health)
- Those terrible first few minutes: Revisiting active shooter protocols for schools (FBI Bulletin)
- iDoctor: Could a smart phone be the future of medicine? (NBC)
- Mexico's 'Crisis Of Disappearance': Families Seek Answers (NPR)
- UK convicts 3 Islamists for plotting another 9/11 (Jerusalem Post)
- Heritage sites of national significance under threat from wind farms (British Telegraph)
- For Taliban victims, Pakistani peace talks feel like betrayal (Christian Science Monitor)
- Bulgarian government resigns amid growing protests (Reuters)
- Sunspots: Huge and growing fast, says NASA (Christian Science Monitor)
- 'Gazans seek elections as Hamas support declines' (Jerusalem Post)
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.
February 26, 2013--A sharply divided Supreme Court has made it practically impossible for American citizens to challenge the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
FISA is the federal law that authorizes large-scale electronic surveillance of phone calls and emails to and from targets abroad and individuals in the United States. By a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the court said that human-rights advocates, journalists and lawyers for detainees could not show with near certainty that they had been or will be harmed by the program and, therefore, they could not challenge the statute in court.
February 26, 2013--Two wind turbines towering above the Cape Cod community of Falmouth, Mass., were intended to produce green energy and savings -- but they've created angst and division, and may now be removed at a high cost as neighbors complain of noise and illness.
"It gets to be jet-engine loud," said Falmouth resident Neil Andersen. He and his wife Betsy live just a quarter mile from one of the turbines. They say the impact on their health has been devastating. They're suffering headaches, dizziness and sleep deprivation and often seek to escape the property where they've lived for more than 20 years.
February 26, 2013--Families facing hard times don't have to let their pets go hungry.
A new donation-based program called Pet Food Stamps can help people buy pet food and supplies.
The organization says the food stamps could help families avoid giving up their dog or cat because they can't afford food.
"There are over 50 million Americans who currently receive Food Stamps, many with dogs or cats, who simply cannot afford to feed their animals, and these cherished companions are dropped off at animal shelters where they will most likely be put to sleep," the program's website said.
February 23, 2013--We are now six days from the deadline for Congress and the White House to reach a deal to avoid across-the-board cuts that would total $85 billion and be divided equally between defense and domestic programs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cuts would put 750,000 people out of work. Both Democrats and Republicans dug in and showing little sign of movement.
In one of the most detailed warnings on sequestration, the Federal Aviation Administration says that starting in April; air travelers should get ready for delays.
Justices asked to void marriage law provision (U-T San Diego)
February 23, 2013--The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a section of federal law that only recognizes male-female marriages.
In a filing with the court, the administration says Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act denies legally married same-sex couples many federal benefits that are available only to legally married heterosexual couples. Federal tax and Social Security survivor's benefits are among them.
In its brief, the administration said the provision "violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection."
February 20, 2013--The U.S. Postal Service is getting creative in its search for new revenue after last year's $15.9 billion budget shortfall. The agency says it will debut a new clothing and accessories line called Rain Heat & Snow, inspired by its unofficial motto: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
The line will not feature the navy blue shorts, safari hats and other uniform staples of your mail carrier. Sportswear and outerwear under the Rain Heat & Snow label will "have electronic wiring and capabilities that will allow people to plug in iPods and hear music while they're walking, jogging," said agency spokesman Roy Betts.
The true size of the National Debt (Washington Post)
February 24, 2013--How big is the national debt?
You’d think this would be an easy question. Surely we know how much the government owes. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The true national debt could be triple the conventional estimate, anywhere from $11 trillion to $31 trillion by my reckoning. The differences mostly reflect explicit and implicit “off-budget” federal loan guarantees. In another economic downturn, these could result in large losses that would be brought “on budget” and worsen already huge deficits. That’s the danger.
Mom takes on smart meters over privacy, security and health (Jewish World Health)
February 27, 2013--A mother of three who buys organic food and worries about the dangers of "dirty electricity" has become the face of resistance in Naperville, Ill.
Led away in handcuffs after trying to prevent the installation of a "smart meter" on her home, Jennifer Stahl vows to continue the protest movement that has made this suburban community ground zero in a battle over privacy rights versus modern technology.
"This is unreasonable search and seizure," said Stahl, 40, who believes the devices designed to monitor power usage are intrusive and pose a health risk. "It definitely is not OK for my utility … to know when I'm home and not home."
Those terrible first few minutes: Revisiting active shooter protocols for schools (FBI Bulletin)
September 2010--The term active shooter entered the national lexicon in the wake of the fatal shootings at Columbine High School, a tragic capstone to similar devastation in other locales. The dynamics of Columbine redefined police response practices and spawned a constellation of in-school prevention initiatives. The educational community has placed considerable focus on having a plan in place against a dire eventuality. The industry standard protocol is geared to targeted school violence by an aggrieved student, which has been the modal category of school shootings in recent years.1 However, incidents meeting this definition represent only one of the potential active-shooter threats.
February 21, 2013--Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years.
But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town's mayor.
In May 2007, on his way to work, two men wearing police uniforms stopped Dionicio on a busy street, pulled him from his car and drove him away. That same day, the mayor's other two bodyguards were also abducted. Witnesses say the kidnappers wore uniforms of an elite anti-drug police unit. The three men haven't been seen since.
UK convicts 3 Islamists for plotting another 9/11 (Jerusalem Post)
February 21, 2013-- Three British Islamists were found guilty on Thursday of plotting a campaign of bombings in crowded areas in an attempt to create what one of them called "another 9/11."According to the London-based Jewish Chronicle they were planning to target a synagogue.During the trial the court heard a taped conversation in which one of the convicted men told a fourth man, who was not on trial: “Even if we can’t make a bomb... get guns yeah from the black geezers, Africans and charge into some like synagogue [sic] or charge into different places."
Heritage sites of national significance under threat from wind farms (British Telegraph)
February 20, 2013--The country’s leading conservation bodies have teamed up with East Northamptonshire District Council to fight plans for a wind farm near the Elizabethan ruin of Lyveden New Bield.
West Coast Energy wants to build four 300ft turbines at Barnwell Manor, owned by the Queen’s cousin The Duke of Gloucester – although he is not a party to the case.
The Planning Inspectorate gave the go ahead for the wind farm in April last year, arguing that any harm done by the wind farm was outweighed by the benefits of green energy.
For Taliban victims, Pakistani peace talks feel like betrayal (Christian Science Monitor)
February 23, 2013--Hazratullah Khan, who lost his right leg below the knee in a car bombing, answers immediately when asked whether the Pakistani government should hold peace talks with Taliban leaders responsible for attacks like the one that maimed him.
"Hang them alive," said the 14-year-old, who survived the explosion on his way home from school. "Slice the flesh off their bodies and cut them into pieces. That's what they have been doing to us."
Khan, who is from the Khyber tribal region, pondered his future recently at a physical rehabilitation center inPeshawar.
February 20, 2013--Bulgaria's government resigned on Wednesday after mass protests against high power prices and falling living standards, joining a long list of European administrations felled by austerity during four years of debt crisis.
Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, an ex-bodyguard who took power in 2009 on pledges to root out graft and raise incomes in the European Union's poorest member, faces a tough task of propping up eroding support ahead of an expected early election.
Wage and pension freezes and tax hikes have bitten deep in a country where earnings are less than half the EU average and tens of thousands of Bulgarians have rallied in protests that have turned violent, chanting "Mafia" and "Resign".
Sunspots: Huge and growing fast, says NASA (Christian Science Monitor)
February 21, 2013--A colossal sunspot on the surface of the sun is large enough to swallow six Earths whole, and could trigger solar flares this week, NASA scientists say.
The giant sunspot was captured on camera by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory as it swelled to enormous proportions over the 48 hours spanning Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 19 and 20). SDO is one of several spacecraft that constantly monitor the sun's space weather environment.
"It has grown to over six Earth diameters across, but its full extent is hard to judge since the spot lies on a sphere, not a flat disk," wrote NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox, of the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in an image description.
'Gazans seek elections as Hamas support declines' (Jerusalem Post)
February 21, 2013--Support for Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza has declined by four percentage points to 18 percent since December, according to a poll published Thursday.
The poll, conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), said that while support for Hamas was down, support for Fatah was back to its July 2012 level (42%), an increase from 37% in December.