Do Americans Care About Big Brother?

By Massimo Calabresi
Pity America's poor civil libertarians. In recent weeks, the papers have been full of stories about the warehousing of information on Americans by the National Security Agency, the interception of financial information by the CIA, the stripping of authority from a civilian intelligence oversight board by the White House, and the compilation of suspicious activity reports from banks by the Treasury Department. On Thursday, Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine released a report documenting continuing misuse of Patriot Act powers by the FBI. And to judge from the reaction in the country, nobody cares.
A quick tally of the record of civil liberties erosion in the United States since 9/11 suggests that the majority of Americans are ready to trade diminished privacy, and protection from search and seizure, in exchange for the promise of increased protection of their physical security. Polling consistently supports that conclusion, and Congress has largely behaved accordingly, granting increased leeway to law enforcement and the intelligence community to spy and collect data on Americans. Even when the White House, the FBI or the intelligence agencies have acted outside of laws protecting those rights — such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — the …

High court likely to favor individual gun rights

Enlarge By Jacquelyn Martin
Seized guns line the walls of the firearms reference collection at the Washington Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in Washington in September 2007. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is slated to review the capital's gun ban. 
By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A Supreme Court majority appears ready to rule for the first time in the nation's history that the Second Amendment gives people an individual right to own guns. Yet that dramatic consensus, which emerged during arguments Tuesday over a Washington handgun ban, is only part of the important debate playing out at the high court.
A separate set of questions revolves around the legal standard the justices might invoke to determine what gun restrictions stand. The details of their ultimate ruling — not likely until June — could determine the fate of a range of regulations nationwide, from a federal prohibition on machine guns to licensing requirements in some cities.
ON DEADLINE: Details, reports on oral arguments
GUNS CASE: 'Hottest ticket in town'
It is difficult to predict the practical details of a decision, but it seemed clear that a majority is ready to buck the general trend of lower court judges and declare …

George Washington: Who Is That?

By Chuck Baldwin 
A recent USA Today report confirmed what most of us already knew: America has lost touch with its history. The story ran on February 26, 2008 and begins by saying, “Big Brother. McCarthyism. The patience of Job. 
“Don't count on your typical teenager to nod knowingly the next time you drop a reference to any of these. A study out today finds that about half of 17-year-olds can't identify the books or historical events associated with them. 
“Twenty-five years after the federal report A Nation At Risk challenged U.S. public schools to raise the quality of education, the study finds high schoolers still lack important historical and cultural underpinnings of 'a complete education.'” 
This report only touches the tip of the iceberg. The fact is, the current generation of Americans is more “historically challenged” than any previous generation. The public education system has all but eradicated a healthy knowledge and respect for American history. I believe the indifference of public education to our great history is deliberate and intentional. 
Not only is true American history not being taught, what is being taught is mostly a distortion of our history. For example, virtually every child in America can …

China surge looks beyond Taiwan?

UNITED NATIONS — A double-digit surge in Beijing’s military spending
has raised serious but discreet concerns in the international community
concerning the rise in China’s military might. And while the 18 percent
jump in the 2008 military budget to an officially understated $60
billion has largely been focused on force modernizations, there’s
little doubt that the People’s Republic of China has become a looming
threat to democratic Taiwan’s sovereignty and as well as that of other
regional states.
An incisive and thoughtful study by Washington’s respected American
Enterprise Institute conceded, “Current trends are unfavorable to
Taiwan. And consequently they pose challenges to U.S. interests.” The
Report Strengthening Freedom in Asia, stated, “China’s growing power
has provided Beijing with the resources to alter the balance of power
across the Taiwan Strait, upsetting the dynamic equilibrium that has
prevented the outbreak of major cross-Strait conflict for more than
fifty years.” Thus the report adds, “Taiwan remains a potential
international flash point for a great power war
Fresh fighting in reported in Sudan's oil region   
Indeed the PRC’s modernized and growing missile, naval, and air force
arsenal arrayed offshore against Taiwan, has already likely tipped the
balance of power towards Beijing. And …

Banks face "new world order," consolidation: report

By Walden Siew
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Financial firms face a “new world order” after a
weekend fire sale of Bear Stearns and the Federal Reserve's first
emergency weekend meeting since 1979, research firm CreditSights said
in a report on Monday.
More industry consolidation and acquisitions may follow after JPMorgan
Chase & Co (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Sunday said it was
buying Bear Stearns (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) for $236 million,
or $2 a share, a deep discount from the $30 price on Friday and record
share price of about $172 last year.
“Last evening the Bear Stearns situation reached a crescendo, as
JPMorgan agreed to acquire the wounded broker for a token amount of $2
per share,” CreditSights said. “The reality check is that there are
many challenged major banks, brokers, thrifts, finance/mortgage
companies, and only a handful of bona fide strong U.S. banks.”
CreditSights said it lowered its broker, bank and finance company
recommendations to “market weight” due to the credit crisis and
stresses in the market.
In the event of future consolidation, potential acquirers identified by
CreditSights include JPMorganChase, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, Goldman
Sachs and Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research), once it
works …

Delta to offer buyouts to some 30,000

Roughly 30,000 to be offered deals as part a strategy for fuel prices
ATLANTA – Delta Air Lines said Tuesday it will offer voluntary
severance payouts to roughly 30,000 employees — more than half its work
force — and cut domestic capacity by an extra 5 percent this year as
part of an overhaul of its business plan to deal with soaring fuel
Executives at Atlanta-based Delta said in a memo to employees that the
airline’s goal is to cut 2,000 frontline, administrative and management
jobs through the voluntary program, attrition and other initiatives.
A spokeswoman says that if more than that amount agree to take the
voluntary severance, that will be allowed. The severance program
primarily affects mainline Delta employees. It will not affect Delta
pilots, who have a union contract with the company, and employees at
Delta regional carrier Comair, which is based in Erlanger, Ky.
Delta had 55,044 total full-time employees as of the end of last year.
Oil prices recently cracked $111 a barrel, nearly twice what they were
a year ago.
The memo from Chief Executive Richard Anderson and President Ed Bastian
did not mention Delta’s talks with Northwest Airlines Corp. about a
combination …