'A battered town, abandoned by 20 percent of its residents' -

As Kassam rockets continued to hit the western Negev on Saturday, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter paid a visit to the beleaguered town of Sderot.
“I found a battered town where some 20 percent of residents have simply upped and left,” Army Radio quoted Dichter as saying.
The public security minister said that Sderot residents described to him how they were living from one miracle to the next and that on Saturday morning, there was a higher attendance in synagogues than usual.
“When I traveled in the direction of Sderot,” continued Dichter, “I saw crowds arriving for the 'Red South' festival, but when I got to Sderot, I saw desolate streets, emptied of people – people closed up inside their homes.”
On Sunday, the public security minister is due to brief the cabinet on his visit to the town.
After a turbulent Friday on which some 40 Kassams and mortar shells slammed into the western Negev, the attacks continued Saturday morning as two rockets fired from Gaza hit the Sha'ar Hanegev region.
One of the rockets landed next to a kibbutz, while the other fell near a junction. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.
The IAF hit …

Sderot residents block entrance to Jerusalem

Residents of southern city have had enough of government's helplessness in face of rockets fired at their town and its surroundings. Dozens of them protest outside Prime Minister's Office, are pushed away by police officers as they try to break into building. 'This is no joke, the Qassam kills,' one of demonstrators says
Neta Sela
VIDEO – Dozens of Sderot's residents were pushed away by police officers as they tried to break into the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier the residents blocked the entrance to the capital in protest of the Qassam rockets fired at their city from the Gaza Strip, following the serious injury of an eight-year-old boy Saturday. Dozens of Jerusalem's residents joined the protestors in solidarity.
Prime minister addresses rocket attack on southern town during weekly cabinet meeting, says residents' anger is 'understandable and natural, but what is needed is systematic and organized action over time.' Minister Dichter cites sections of Winograd report, says 'we mustn't conduct a strategy of luck.' Minister Yishai: Failure to make a significant decision on situation may lead to a catastrophe 
Several minutes later, after sitting on the road at the entrance to the city, the demonstrators got …

Republicans had their chance – and blew it!

The Republicans had their chance – and blew it. Republicans could hardly contain themselves when the Supreme Court issued its ruling that kept Al Gore out of the White House. Yes, they celebrated Al's defeat much more than George W. Bush's victory. Across the country, conservatives were especially grateful that Al was unemployed, but only cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a genuine return to constitutional government.
Conservatives, but not all Republicans, cheered when President Bush rejected the U.N.'s International Criminal Court, which outgoing President Clinton signed during the last hours of his reign. Conservatives, but not all Republicans, cheered when President Bush rejected the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol. Then, of all things, the president decided to rejoin UNESCO, a U.N. agency Ronald Reagan had dumped because of its gross corruption and anti-American attitude.
Rumblings began to stir in the State Department about reintroducing the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and even the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. Both of these treaties had been presented to the Senate during the Clinton era. Exceptionally hard work by conservative Republicans forced the treaties to be withdrawn from consideration. Conservatives, but not all Republicans, were mystified by the Bush administration's desire …

Families are running for their lives

By Olivia St. John
In a Feb. 7 press release, a broad coalition of Christian grass-roots organizations boldly banded together urging parents to either homeschool their children or place them in Christian schools. Prominent pro-family crusaders like Phyllis Schlafly, once a proponent of public school reform, are saying it's time to exit public schools.
Indeed, the situation is so serious that in states around the country, sexual material is being taught to children as young as kindergarten age. Barb Anderson, research and policy analyst with the Minnesota Family Council, details lewd content being taught in public schools in a policy paper titled “The Birds & Bees Project: Gay Sex Ed for Kids.” According to Anderson, a presenter at the annual Minnesota School Health Education Conference stated, “When speaking to teens you must tell them there is no right or wrong and no good or bad choices.”
Anderson goes on to say that on page 152 (A Day at the Clinic) of a 187-page guide distributed by the Birds & Bees Project, health educators encourage pregnant teens “to practice making an appointment to have an abortion … [and] that they can seek a judicial bypass to circumvent the Parental Notification law.”…

The tax break China gets but you don't

By Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman
The United States tax system has a tax break that encourages giving to charity, a tax break that encourages people to buy their own homes – and a tax break that encourages foreign governments to take over U.S. corporations. Most people know about the first two, but few, outside of the IRS, are aware of the third. It exempts foreign governments from paying any U.S. taxes on dividends, interest or any other income earned from their U.S. investments. Other governments have the same policy. It's a sort of gentleman's agreement among governments: We won't tax you if you won't tax us.
The problem with this “gentleman's agreement” is that it is one-sided. The U.S. government has virtually no investments abroad, while other governments are putting together huge bankrolls to invest in the United States. Morgan Stanley estimates that Sovereign Wealth Funds, the funds set up by foreign governments to invest in foreign equities, currently have $2.5 trillion in assets and will have $12 trillion by 2015. As a result of the giant U.S. trade deficits ($713 billion in 2007), foreign governments have huge surpluses of dollars with which to buy American businesses …

Religious minorities face Real ID crackdown

By Anne Broache
Editor's note: A May deadline looms as just one flash point in a political showdown between Homeland Security and states that oppose Real ID demands. This is the third in a four-part series examining the confrontation.
No television, no wedding or family photographs, and definitely no image of herself on her driver's license: That was the evout Christian life that Nebraska resident Frances Quaring was trying to lead.
Which is why, after the state of Nebraska rejected her request for a license-without-a-photograph in the mid-1980s, Quaring sued the state in a landmark case that ended up at the U.S. Supreme Court. She won, with the justices agreeing that preserving her freedom of religion outweighed the state's interest in requiring an ID photograph.
More than two decades after the Quaring case, approximately a dozen states now offer religious exceptions when issuing driver's licenses. But because of a federal law called the Real ID Act that takes effect on May 11, residents of those states who have pictureless licenses could expect problems flying on commercial airliners and entering federal buildings, including some Social Security and Veterans Affairs offices.
The new rules could affect thousands of Americans in states including …