The Congressional Black Caucus is meeting with Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett Wednesday to discuss the administration’s judicial nominees, saying they want President Obama to fight for a more diverse federal bench.
CBC members contend that Obama has given in too easily to Republican senators primarily in Southern states because they get to sign off on the nominees in the “blue-slip” system, in which home-state senators approve the pick before the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing, The Hill is reporting.
“Win or lose, we’d feel better if there’s a fight,” said Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who is part of the CBC’s judicial nominations working group. “We have a Herculean task, of course, because of the senators whose conservatism is antithetical to the judicial philosophy of probably anyone who [Obama would prefer].”
“But at the same time, the president ought to be able to appoint anyone he wants,” Cleaver added. “And, you know, we want the president to fight for it.”
Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina had similar thoughts — that at the very least they want to see Obama put up a fight.
“There needs to be more defiance,” Butterfield told The Hill. “The fight is worth it. We learned that from the Civil Rights era. We were defying the traditions … We were defying the law … What we want the president to do is push back harder against [Republican] obstructionism.”
The concern has grown out of several situations. One example they cite is that Obama nominated only one black judge out of six in Georgia where the population is a third African American, and that one judge is supposedly a Republican.
There is also frustration over the fact that GOP Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina refused to approve the nomination of Jennifer May-Parker through the “blue-slip” process, after he had recommended her to the president. If she had been approved, she would have been the first African-American federal judge to sit on North Carolina’s Eastern District bench, The Huffington Post reported.
However, the Obama administration points to the fact that the president has nominated more black judges than either Bush or Clinton. According to the NNPA News Service,Obama has nominated and successfully confirmed more black judges than any president in history.
Butterfield plans to tell Jarrett that they want Obama to push for an “up-or-down vote” on the president’s nominees and he wants Democratic leaders in the Senate to consider not sticking to the “blue-slip” system.
The conventional wisdom is that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has extricated himself from mortal political danger by his long, frank, apologetic press conference Thursday in Trenton.
There, he essentially blamed the bridge scandal on two aides and fired them both. Were he faced with cancer, this would be adequate treatment. Cut out the offending cells and it’s gone. But politics is more nuanced.
By declaring that he had no knowledge and nothing to do with the traffic gridlock, he has hunkered down into a position that might be increasingly difficult to defend. The Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature — they’re in control of both chambers — are likely to probe deeply into his denials and there may even be a federal investigation by a Senate committee.
It is just too facile to take at face value his claim to absolute innocence.
Who came up with the idea of a traffic jam in Fort Lee? Who knew enough about the traffic flow onto the George Washington Bridge to understand what to do? How did Bridget Anne Kelly come to send a cryptic email to Port Authority board member David Wildstein saying it was time for more traffic in Fort Lee? How did Wildstein know what she meant? How did he persuade the Port Authority to act on the idea?
When and how did Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich make the Christie enemies list in the first place? Why was he singled out among the various Jersey Democratic mayors who refused to cross over and endorse Christie?
When Port Authority executive Wildstein replied to Kelly’s email: “got it,” what was the background? Had they discussed the lane closure strategy before? The reply “got it” begs these questions.
Had Wildstein replied: “What the hell are you talking about? What do I have to do with Fort Lee traffic and why should we be interested?” it would have made more sense and lent more credibility to the claim that Kelly came up with the idea on her own.
The story is endlessly interesting and, before it is over, the inner workings of the Christie administration will be revealed for all to see. We will learn the background of the controversy in great detail, and it is unlikely that the governor will escape blame.
After all, the ironclad nature of Christie’s denial — his assertion that he knew nothing about it — will likely not stand up. A plot like this is not hatched among subordinates with the chief left in total ignorance. At the bottom of the pile of emails that will emerge may be one in which Christie emulates the famous request of King Henry II of England, who asked his aides about Thomas Becket: “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”
Gov. Christie is stuck. He can’t maneuver. His denial is too tight. His reputation too much at stake. It will not do for him to say, subsequently, that “it depends on what the definition of is, is.” If his hand is anywhere in evidence after his denials, he is both stuck and sunk.
If he is to be sunk, the so-called moderate wing of the GOP will not only lack a rider, it will lack a horse. Without Christie’s record in handling Superstorm Sandy, his re-election margin, and his outsized personality, his brand of would-be Rockefeller Republicanism has demonstrated its political impotence time and again.
Without Christie, there will be no moderate in the 2016 race.
The economy created only 74,000 jobs in December, well below the 2013 average of 188,000. The Labor Department report indicates the stronger growth for the coming year predicted by many economists might not materialize.
In 2013, growth slipped to 1.9 percent, thanks to the $200 billion January tax increase and sequestration spending cuts, and this is simply not enough to bring unemployment down to an acceptable level, support strong wage gains and reduce income inequality.
This report indicates that neither the economy nor the job market have shifted into high gear as the White House preaches and private economists who flack for the administration have claimed.
Unemployment dropped to 6.7 percent, because 525,000 additional unemployed adults were discouraged and did not seek a job. Also, many prime working-age adults remain stuck in low-wage, part-time jobs with few or no benefits.
Factoring in those frustrated adults, the jobless rate rises to 13.1 percent. The economy needs to add approximately 365,000 jobs each month to push unemployment down to about 6 percent and provide those folks with decent-paying, full-time employment. That would require GDP growth in the range of 4 to 5 percent.
Over the last four years, the pace has been a paltry 2.3 percent, but much stronger growth is possible. During the Reagan recession of the early 1980s, unemployment peaked at a much higher level than during the recession Obama inherited, and GDP advanced at a 4.9 percent over the comparable period of recovery.
Slow growth and weak demand for labor are among the primary causes of wage stagnation, inequality and worsening conditions for families at the lower end of the income ladder.
Retailers catering to those families, such as Family Dollar Stores, Sears and K-Mart, had weak holiday sales. In the year ahead, price cuts and even thinner margins will be necessary to sustain their sales as the outlook for their customers remains poor.
The defining difference between the recent recovery and the strong record of the 1980s has been the Obama administration’s reliance on policies that simply address the symptoms of economic stagnation, such as the expansion of Medicare, longer unemployment benefits and support for a higher minimum wage.
Washington has failed to confront structural issues that cause subpar growth, chronic unemployment, income inequality and poverty. Important among those are inefficient and dysfunctional government regulation of business, prohibitions on domestic petroleum development off the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf Coasts and protectionist policies in China and elsewhere in Asia that limit market opportunities for competitive U.S. products.
U.S. automakers are essentially blocked from selling American-made vehicles in China’s huge market, even though Chinese manufacturers are terribly uncompetitive. Instead, U.S. carmakers are compelled to form joint ventures and share knowhow with Chinese partners to produce and sell in the world’s second-largest economy. These and similar restrictions steal millions of American jobs in autos and supporting industries like electronics, metals and plastics and computer software.
Eliminating the resulting $450 billion trade deficit on oil and manufactured products would create more than 4 million new jobs directly and at least another 2.5 million as those additional workers’ spending spreads through the economy.
This would raise living standards and reduce income inequality much more pervasively than would expanding Medicare, raising the minimum wage and other politically popular, but largely ineffective, policies.
U.S. employers hired the fewest workers in almost three years in December, but the setback was likely to be temporary amid signs that cold weather conditions might have had an impact.
Nonfarm payrolls rose only 74,000 last month, the smallest increase since January 2011, and the unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate was the lowest since October 2008 and mostly reflected people leaving the labor force.
The step back in hiring is at odds with other employment indicators that have painted an upbeat picture of the jobs market. The data showed that 38,000 more jobs were added in November than previously reported.
“It looks like it’s a weather issue – a big drop in construction and a 1,000 drop in transportation. People will focus on the unemployment rate drop and the upward revision to the prior month,” said John Canally, an economist for LPL Financial in Boston
Construction employment fell for the first time since May and leisure and hospitality payrolls rose marginally, suggesting that extremely cold weather in some parts of the country had held back hiring. In addition, transportation payrolls recorded their first decline in five month.
There was also a decline in the average workweek.
The smaller survey of households showed 273,000 people stayed at home because of the bad weather, the most since 1977.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected job gains of 196,000 jobs last month. But many pushed up their forecasts in the wake of upbeat labor market data during the week.
U.S. stock index futures trimmed gains on the report, while prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose.
A string of data – from consumer spending and trade to industrial production – has suggested the economy ended 2013 on strong footing and is positioned to gain even more strength this year.
MORE PEOPLE LEAVE THE LABOR FORCE
The change in the economy’s fortunes, which gave the Federal Reserve confidence last month to start dialing back its massive monetary stimulus, reflects waning fiscal uncertainty after lawmakers in Washington agreed on a two-year budget.
The labor force participation rate, or the proportion of working-age Americans who have a job or are looking for one fell 0.2 percentage point to 62.8 percent, the same as in October when the rate fell to its lowest since 1978.
That accounted for two thirds of the drop in the unemployment rate last month, but there was also an increase in household employment.
The U.S. central bank announced in December that it would trim its monthly purchases to $75 billion from $85 billion, and many economists expect it to decide on a similar-sized cut at its next meeting on January 28-29.
Growth this year is expected to top 3 percent, a sharp acceleration from the 1.7 percent forecast for 2013.
Last month, the private sector accounted for all the gains in employment, with government payrolls falling 13,000 after rising 15,000 in November.
Manufacturing employment rose 9,000. While it was fifth straight month of gains, it was a slowdown from November’s hefty 31,000 count. The number of construction jobs fell 16,000, snapping six consecutive months of gains.
Employment in the retail sector accelerated after slowing in November. There were also payroll gains in professional and business services.
Average hourly earnings rose two cents. The length of the workweek fell to 34.4 hours from 34.5 hours.
Continuing to use Hitler’s rise to power in pre-war Germany as his template, Obama today issued the order to begin creating ‘promise zones’ with the dangling carrot of free government entitlements to take control. History can be a wonderful teaching tool for those who wide awake and taking notes.
How’s your notebook doing?
USA Today: President Obama will designate troubled neighborhoods in five cities and areas as “Promise Zones,” eligible for tax breaks and other forms of assistance designed to create jobs and improve education, housing and public safety.
The first five Promise Zones will be located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, said a White House statement. Obama plans to make a formal announcement Thursday.
Under the proposed Promise Zones, the federal government plans to partner with local governments and businesses to provide tax incentives and grants to help combat poverty. The project is part of Obama’s effort to address income inequality.
In his State of the Union Address a year ago, Obama said his administration plans “to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet. We’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety, and education, and housing.”
One prominent Republican — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — praised the proposed Promise Zone for Eastern Kentucky, but also said Obama policies have contributed to the region’s problems.
“I wrote a letter last year supporting this designation because this region has suffered enormous economic hardship over the last several years,” McConnell said in a statement. “Thousands of jobs have been lost and economic opportunity is extremely limited, particularly because of this administration’s hostile policies toward the coal industry.” source – USA Today
“They just found my daughter dead!” This unexpected and startling revelation jolted my morning.
At the mall where I exercise, a middle-aged mother darted from the Starbucks and stammered the above words just a few days ago.
“Larry, remember when I asked you to pray for my 27-year-old daughter a couple months ago?” she said. “A guy came into her life. … This was her first real boyfriend. … He made her feel special. … He also introduced her to getting high. She’d never done drugs! It wasn’t hard stuff—just recreational. Now she’s dead! This wasn’t supposed to happen!”
I took her hand and we prayed together. Reassuring her as best as I could, I then slipped away, saddened by the tragic news of this mother’s only child now gone.
I have a daughter too. She works long hours in a youth venue where more than a thousand young people come weekly. She regularly shares with us how many are trying pot, leading them down a path to inevitable consequences that break her heart and bring devastation to them and their families.
Most of us by now have read the news that marijuana was officially declared legal for recreational use in Colorado, as it now is in Washington state. Portland, Maine, and Lansing, Mich., have jumped on the bandwagon too. Initiatives to legalize and legitimize toking up for innocent fun are being pushed nationwide.
A Pendulum Is Swinging
In 1969, Americans opposed the legalization of marijuana by an overwhelming 7 to 1 majority. Now more than half of Americans support it—and two-thirds of those are ages 18 to 34!
Is this a good thing?
An ancient proverb gives us a heads up: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Prov. 22:3, ESV). My best friend of more than 20 years growing up ignored this advice and was dead before 30. Like a Cheech and Chong character, he naïvely thought casual drug use was harmless, following the anthem, “All I wanna do is have some fun.”
How about you? Consider the following before you are misled by blind leaders of whom Jesus forewarned: “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:14, KJV).
A line from the classic Eagles song “Hotel California” serves as ample warning as we proceed: “You can check out any time you please but you can never leave.”
1. Don’t be duped.
Our Founding Father, George Washington, told us, “An uninformed populace is easily enslaved.” Addressing arguments for legalizing marijuana demands discernment and the ability to recognize a pig with lipstick on.
The “Yes We Cannabis!” movement is out in full force. Advocates and lobbyists are aggressive and persuasive but misguided and dishonest to the core. Like same-sex marriage proponents, they tell us it’s time to be “enlightened,” “progressive,” “cool,” to shake off the “old-school mentality” and reject everything discriminatory and restrictive in our culture. After all, Amsterdam has joints available alongside coffee in shops throughout its country—we need to get with the program!
“It’ll balance the budget, save the economy and create scores of jobs!” In reality, this represents no more than a drop in the bucket while conveniently ignoring other economic realities.
“It eliminates the need for law enforcement plus provides needed tax revenue.” A whole new set of rules and regulations have to be established and enforced. Most people don’t voluntarily pay taxes out of sheer civic duty.
“This won’t affect youth. It’s only for ages 21 and up and private use only. Since you can grow it at home, it won’t go out. It’s not sold on the streets.” Who are we kidding? Look at all the scrambling going on in Colorado as people get around all the so-called rules and authorities turn a blind eye to what’s really going on. Clever operators use limos with “free” pot. Drug dealers buy the weed and sell it to support habits. Are signs in airports saying don’t take any home really effective? Within 24 hours of legalizing marijuana, a 2-year-old girl ended up in the hospital after eating a marijuana cookie.
“It’s for cancer patients.” So-called “medical marijuana” for the most part goes out for trumped-up stress and pain relief excuses. Scores simply want it legalized so they can get stoned, avoid jail, party and make some fast cash. L.A. has already closed 200 “marijuana clinics” because of this travesty while Holland, Portugal and Zürich, Switzerland, are changing drug policies because of exploding social problems.
“Marijuana is not addictive. It’s like a beer—harmless. It’s not as bad as cocaine or heroin.”We’ll address these, but here’s the deal best conveyed by an expert: Dr. Ed Gogek, a Democrat and addiction psychiatrist, wrote in the New York Times, “I’ve spent 25 years as a doctor treating drug abusers … They’re excellent con artists. … Marijuana activists use phony science. … For years they claimed pot was good for glaucoma and never apologized when research found it could actually make glaucoma worse. They still insist weed isn’t addictive, despite every addiction medicine society saying it is. They’ve even produced their own flawed scientific studies supposedly proving that medical marijuana laws don’t increase use among teenagers, when almost all the evidence says just the opposite. … It sends the message that weed is harmless, even though research shows that teenagers who use it regularly do worse in school, are twice as likely to drop out and earn less as adults. Teenage use has been shown to permanently lower I.Q.”
The New York Times published an editorial on Aug. 5, 2012, telling us, “Some hard-core drug dealers are victims and shouldn’t be imprisoned.” In December, our president commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates convicted of crack cocaine. It’s obvious the liberal trends in our culture are in the direction of liberalizing and legalizing drugs unless there arises an “informed populace.”
2. Your Health Matters
Our Declaration of Independence refers to God as our Creator. He designed us in His image, directing us to care for our bodies and avoid destructive influences. Why? So we glorify Him in what He calls a “temple,” which we have “received from God. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:19-20, NIV).
Just as you would not put gunky, contaminated oil into an expensive Lexus, so too are we to steer clear of polluting our bodies with toxic elements that bring about a premature demise.
If they were able to have a second chance, do you think celebrities like Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and multitudes of others who met their tragic end from drugs would encourage you to get started by lighting up a joint? We only pray that in their final moments they repented and got their lives right with a merciful and just God.
In Revelation 22:15, God tells us that “drug users and spell-casters” (CEB) and “sorcerers” (KJV) are under the wrath of God and associated with “dogs”—an idiom for despicable persons. Their severe punishment is separation from God for all eternity. The Greek word used here is pharmakeus, from which we get our word pharmaceuticals. Thayer’s Dictionary defines this as “one who prepares or uses magical remedies.”
In Jesus’ weakest moment on the cross, He deliberately refused any mind-altering intoxicant that was offered to Him (Matt. 27:34). He serves as our example—not singers, movie stars or politicians who persuade the multitudes into drug usage.
THC, the active component in marijuana plants (the cause of people getting “high”), is eight times as potent as the “weed” of decades ago. Just like inhaling toxic cigarette smoke, it adversely affects the lungs. In fact, one joint is the equivalent of 20 cigarettes, plus consider how long people hold it inside.
Smoking cigarettes kills 400,000 Americans every year. Fifty thousand die from secondhand smoke. Another 8.6 million citizens have illnesses caused directly by smoking. Cigarette smoking cuts lives short by an average of 13 years. Daily misleading and deceptive ads lure multitudes down this path. Guess what unseen entity is trying to do something similar by promoting marijuana?
There are more than 30 scientific studies that show higher risk of schizophrenia and paranoia among marijuana users. It increases one’s heart rate, producing a fivefold increase in heart attacks and panic attacks.
Some people scoff at statements like these and say they’re merely scare tactics. Do you want to risk your future by relying on potheads, pop stars and politicians? These pied pipers will one day be accountable to God for their reckless and irresponsible ways.
Joseph Califano, head of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, pulls no punches when he says that marijuana is a “dangerous drug that is addictive and adversely affects the motor skills of users as well as produces serious damage to a person’s brain over the long-term.”
To whom are you going to listen?
3. Avoid Deception
TV and movies abound with stories about demons, the paranormal, vampires, zombies and the unseen evil realm. It’s real, and Jesus Christ told us that our spiritual adversary comes as a thief to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). The Bible clearly warns us not to be “ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).
As America drifts from its Judeo-Christian roots and standards, people’s perceptions of marijuana have changed drastically—especially among easily impressionable youth.
Scores of teenagers have been deceived to view the drug as harmless. Therefore, more are indulging. In 2013, 1 in 15 high school seniors reported using marijuana daily. Ten years ago, it was 1 in 50! This most recent national survey also revealed that only 40 percent of high school seniors now believe smoking marijuana is risky, compared to 75 percent 20 years ago.
The delusion is not only in their perception of the drug but in their penchant to partake of it as a means of escape. Why not? “It’s legal—or soon will be,” they say. “It’s increasingly available. Pop stars I admire use it, sing and joke about it ,and even promote it. Gimme a joint!”
Young people struggling through their teen years, instead of turning to God or their parents or godly counselors, find it easier to escape problems and depression by medicating with drugs like marijuana since it’s becoming such an easy solution. The snare is that when the buzz wears off and a habit pattern develops of grabbing another joint or experimenting with harder drugs, soon one is addicted—and then it’s either more drugs or maybe yield to those persistent suicidal thoughts to simply end it all.
Like in the classic film Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy pulled back the curtain and exposed the deceiving mastermind behind the facade, will multitudes take heed to the facts being presented and rise up to resist the pull into destruction? More importantly, will you?
Stay tuned for four more reasons to reject legalizing marijuana in my next column.
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Larry Tomczakis a best-selling author and cultural commentator with over 40 years of trusted ministry experience. His passion is to bring perspective, analysis and insight from a biblical worldview. He loves people and loves awakening them to today’s cultural realities and the responses needed for the bride of Christ—His church—to become influential in all spheres of life once again.
Al Gore Made A Fortune Spreading Global Warming Hysteria
Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy as Mr. Gore and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes. Former Vice President Al Gore thought he had spotted a winner last year when a small California firm sought financing for an energy-saving technology from the venture capital firm where Mr. Gore is a partner.
The company, Silver Spring Networks, produces hardware and software to make the electricity grid more efficient. It came to Mr. Gore’s firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital providers, looking for $75 million to expand its partnerships with utilities seeking to install millions of so-called smart meters in homes and businesses.
Mr. Gore and his partners decided to back the company, and in gratitude Silver Spring retained him and John Doerr, another Kleiner Perkins partner, as unpaid corporate advisers.
The deal appeared to pay off in a big way, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts. Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr. Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming years. source – News Busters
Daily Mail UK: Brutal, life-threatening cold descended over the East and the South, sending the mercury plummeting on Tuesday into the single digits and teens from New York and Washington to Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham – where many people have little experience in dealing with freezing weather.
A view from a plane window shows Chicago encased in ice. More than 3,700 flights were canceled today
After pounding the Midwest and Great Lakes over the weekend, snow from winter storm Ion started to move into the East on Tuesday. The morning weather map for the eastern half of the U.S. was dotted with lots of small, negative numbers with the Midwest and the East were colder than much of Antarctica.
The historic freeze shuttered schools, businesses and made road conditions treacherous. More than 3,700 flights – around one out of every 10 domestic departures – were canceled on Monday with delays continuing today. The majority of cancellations were in Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Boston.
Ice forms on rocks on the Brooklyn waterfront across from lower Manhattan in New York on Tuesday
A sign on a bank near the bus stop flashed 19 degrees at around 8am. Patches of ice sparkled in parking lots where puddles froze overnight.
In the East, a blizzard smothered western New York with up to 18 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 50 mph. As much as 3 feet of snow could fall there by the time the storm eases on Wednesday.
In New York City, Central Park was 5F on Tuesday, the coldest January 7 since 1896, according to NBC New York. Airports LaGuardia, Newark and JFK were also hit with record lows. Newark airport fell to 4 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures in parts of West Virginia hit lows not seen for 25 years, while the extreme cold in Virginia broke records that had stood since the late 1950s. The National Weather Service said the mercury bottomed out at 3 degrees before sunrise at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshal International Airport, with a wind chill of minus 16.
Forecasters said some 187 million people in all could feel the effects of the ‘polar vortex’ by the time it spread across the country.
The Chicago skyline is seen behind a large chunk of ice near North Avenue Beach as cold temperatures remain with wind chills nearing minus 30F on Tuesday
PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid supplying energy to more than 61 million people in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and South, asked users to conserve electricity because of the cold, especially in the morning and late afternoon.
Meanwhile, recovery was the focus in several Midwestern states. The subzero cold followed inches of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous and was blamed for numerous deaths in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
On Monday, the temperatures reached such extreme lows across the Midwest that Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago was forced to keep their polar bear Anana indoors in a ‘climate-controlled’ area.
A zoo spokesman explained polar bears in the Arctic would normally develop a fat blubber layer to deal with sub-zero temperatures but that Anana hasn’t done so in the generally warmer environment of the windy city.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued disaster declarations, a first step toward seeking federal aid.
At least 15,000 customers in Indiana were without power early on Tuesday. Utility crews worked to restore service as temperatures plunged into the negative teens, but officials warned that some customers could be in the cold and dark for days.
More than 500 Amtrak passengers spent the night on three trains headed for Chicago that were stranded because of blowing and drifting snow in Illinois. Spokesman Marc Magliari said all the passengers, traveling from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Quincy, Ill., would reach Chicago by train or bus later Tuesday.
Warmer weather – at least, near or above freezing – is in the forecast for much of the eastern half of the U.S. Indianapolis should reach 27 degrees on Wednesday, and other cities in the Midwest and in the East could climb above freezing later in the week.
By Wednesday, subzero high temperatures will be virtually gone from the Lower 48 States. On Thursday, highs in the 20s or 30s in much of the Great Lakes and Northeast will seem downright balmy compared to earlier in the week.
The deep freeze is to blame for at least 13 deaths so far – almost all of them from traffic accidents. A man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia, while an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s was found dead in the snow about 100 yards away from her home in New York state after wandering out.
Monday’s subzero temperatures broke records in Chicago, which set a record for the date at minus 16, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the mercury fell to 13 below.
Records also fell in Oklahoma and Texas, and wind chills across the region were 40 below and colder. Officials in states like Indiana already struggling with high winds and more than a foot of snow urged residents to stay home if they could.
‘The cold is the real killer here,’ Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said on Monday as he asked schools and businesses to remain closed another day. ‘In 10 minutes you could be dead without the proper clothes.’
In Minnesota, officials took the rare step of closing all of the state’s public schools on Monday – the first time in 17 years. Schools across Chicago, Milwaukee and St Louis were also closed, while officials in Washington D.C. and as far south as Atlanta have announced school closures today. source – Daily Mail UK
A letter written by 11 state attorneys general warning President Barack Obama that his numerous tweaks to the Affordable Care Act are illegal is just the beginning of a long legal battle to restore the backbone of the Constitution, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says.
“We are escalating our fight,” Abbott told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
“You’re going to see more people really for this cause because Americans . . . are incredibly frustrated by how the president keeps changing and altering the goal post and the Obamacare law.
“What we have seen time and time again is the president incapable of living within the confines of the heavy-handed law imposed on its fellow Americans and efforts to try to extricate itself from a political bad situation,” Abbott said Monday.
Story continues below video.
The Dec. 26 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is signed by the attorneys general of Texas, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
It criticizes Obama’s executive order that allowed insurance companies one more year to offer health plans that had been canceled for not meeting the standards of the Affordable Care Act.
“We support allowing citizens to keep their health insurance coverage, but the only way to fix this problem-ridden law is to enact changes lawfully: through Congressional action,” the letter says.
“[Obama] is a president who is unconstrained by the law and is acting more like a king than he is president, because it is only the Congress of the United States of America that can make laws,” Abbott told Malzberg.
“So, here it’s the president who’s making up the laws as he goes along . . . The rule of law in the United States of America is becoming as wishy-washy as it is in some of these Third World countries.
“I don’t know of any other president in the history of the United States of America who has disregarded the constitutional structure more than this president. And, as a result, that is why these state attorneys general, including myself, are now pushing back.”
A young Afghan girl was caught wearing a suicide vest by border police in southern Helmand province on Sunday.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi told the BBC she was detained as she tried to carry out an attack on the police when one of them spotted her wearing the vest.
She either did not know how to detonate the device or she was arrested before she could carry out the attack, according to the BBC.
The girl told officers that her brother Zahir, a Taliban commander, had given her the vest and sent her towards a police checkpoint in the Khan Nasheen district of Helmand, reports NBC News.
“She was crying and told border police that she was obliged by her brother to do [a] suicide attack on them,” Hamidullah Siddiqi, an Afghan border police official, told the network, adding that the girl is believed to be nine or 10 years old.
The girl has now reportedly been transferred to the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah while officials investigate the case and search for her brother.
Frigid, dense air swirled across much of the U.S. on Monday, forcing some cities and their residents into hibernation while others layered up and carried on despite a dangerous cold that broke decades-old records.
Wind chill warnings stretched from Montana to Alabama. For a big chunk of the Midwest, the subzero temperatures moved in behind another winter wallop: more than a foot of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous. Officials closed schools in cities including Chicago, St. Louis and Milwaukee and warned residents to stay indoors and avoid the frigid cold altogether.
The forecast is extreme: Wind chills were expected to drop as low as negative 55 Monday night in International Falls, Minn., and rebound to minus 25 to minus 35 on Tuesday. Farther south, the wind chill is expected to hit negative 50 in Chicago and minus 35 in Detroit.
School systems and day cares shut down as a precaution from the Dakotas to Maryland. But whether residents chose to stay home or head outside appeared to have less to do with the mercury and more with conditioning.
Emeric Dwyer of St. Paul wore only a London Fog trenchcoat and light scarf to protect himself from morning temperatures that got down to minus 20 in the Twin Cities. The 30-year-old was just glad his car started.
“It made a grinding noise I never heard before. But it started and got us here. Not too much to complain about,” said Dwyer, who is originally from Duluth in the northern part of the state.
“In Duluth it’s always cold,” he said.
But it hasn’t been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country. The National Weather Service said the temperature sank to 16 degrees below zero at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, two degrees lower than the record for Jan. 6. Weekend snowfall at the airport totaled more than 11 inches — the most since a February 2011 storm that shut down the city’s famed Lake Shore Drive.
In Indiana, where many roads were rendered impassable because of snow and wind, authorities had a simple message: stay home.
“I know the roads look clear, the sun’s out and it all looks nice,” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday. “But it’s still minus 40 in wind chill — deadly temperatures. So we want to be very, very careful.”
Ballard issued a travel ban for the city, making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergencies or to seek shelter, until noon Monday. But he wants schools and businesses to remain closed another day until the worst of the severe cold passes.
Much of Indiana was blanketed in about a foot of snow Sunday, and many of the state’s schools, businesses and municipal offices were closed Monday. Wind chills through Tuesday could reach 45 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service.
The Legislature postponed the opening day of its 2014 session, and the state appellate courts, including the Indiana Supreme Court, said they would be closed.
Many other cities came to a virtual standstill. In St. Louis, where more than 10 inches of snow fell, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo were part of the seemingly endless list of closed facilities. Shopping malls and movie theaters closed, too. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, the region’s only ski area, shut down.
Further north, those more accustomed to extreme winter weather kept moving, even if just a bit slower than usual.
Between a heater that barely works and the drafty windows that invite the cold air into his home, Jeffery Davis decided he’d be better off sitting in a downtown Chicago doughnut shop for three hours Monday until it was time to go to work. He threw on two pairs of pants, two t-shirts, “at least three jackets,” two hats, a pair of gloves, the “thickest socks you’d probably ever find” and boots, and trudged to the train stop in his South Side neighborhood that took him to within a few blocks of the library where he works.
“I never remember it ever being this cold,” said Davis, 51. “I’m flabbergasted.”
Elnur Toktombetov, a Chicago taxi driver, awoke at 2:30 a.m. Monday anticipating a busy day. By 3:25 a.m. he was on the road, armed with hot tea and doughnuts. An hour into his shift, his Toyota’s windows were still coated with ice on the inside.
“People are really not comfortable with this weather,” Toktombetov said. “They’re really happy to catch the cab. And I notice they really tip well.”
In downtown Chicago, a commuter train hit a “bumping post” as it pulled into a station, the second such accident of the day. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said six passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries Monday after the train hit the post at the end of a platform. A less serious incident occurred at the same station around 6:15 a.m., but no passengers were injured.
Continuing a decades-old practice, Chicago Transit Authority was handing out fare cards to social service agencies to be distributed to the homeless so they could ride buses and trains to stay out of the cold.
More than 40,000 homes and businesses in Indiana, 16,000 in Illinois and 2,000 in Missouri were without power early Monday. Indianapolis spokesman Marc Lotter said emergency crews accompanied about 350 people to shelters around the city.
Southern states were bracing for possible record temperatures too, with single-digit highs expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama.
Temperatures plunged into the 20s early Monday in north Georgia, the frigid start of dangerously cold temperatures for the first part of the week. The Georgia Department of Transportation said its crews were prepared to respond to reports of black ice in north Georgia.