THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times: An analysis by credit reporting agency TransUnion found that more than 8 million people stopped using credit cards over the past year, reports The Associated Press:
About 62 million people now have an active card, compared with 70 million a year ago. …
[C]onsumers in the subprime category, or those with low credit ratings, were believed to be without cards mostly because they were shut down by banks after payments fell behind or balances were written off.
"One can quite reasonably infer that's not voluntary," said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting in TransUnion's financial services business unit. Banks have written off record amounts of credit card balances in recent years.
But a significant portion of the decrease in card usage reflects decisions by cardholders to stop using credit, Becker said. "They're simply either not purchasing as much or paying down balances."
Many of these individuals may have shifted to using debit cards. In the past several years the use of debit cards has grown steadily and now surpasses credit card use in both the number of transactions and dollar volume. Interest rate increases by credit card companies and reduced credit lines have contributed to that trend.
† Has Obama Been Humbled?: With commentators on the left and the right openly discussing President Barack Hussein Obama's raging narcissism and how it has contributed to his spectacular failures in domestic and international affairs, it’s interesting that the American Psychiatric Association has dropped five personality disorders, including Narcissistic personality disorder, from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which will be published in 2013.
† What It's Like To Be Sheriff Joe: Over the years, inmates filed six unsuccessful lawsuits to stop Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio (AKA the "toughest sheriff" in America) from playing Christmas music, and he’s planning to crank up the holiday hit parade again this year. But Arpaio’s playlist is surprisingly multi-cultural. In addition to such hoary standards as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (or "Rodolpho El Reno de la Nariz Rojita"), “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (or "Llego a La Ciudad”) and "Feliz Navidad," the 8,000 inmates in his jails will also hear "A Christmas Kwanzaa Solstice" and "Ramadan," reports The Washington Times:
"Maybe the holiday music can help lift the spirits of the men and women who are away from friends and family during the holidays, not just the inmates, but the dedicated men and women who work in the Maricopa County Jails," the sheriff said in an announcement Sunday.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, to which Sheriff Arpaio was first elected in 1992 after a 25-year career at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), has played the holiday songs all day, every day, during previous seasons. The latest inmate lawsuit was dismissed in federal court in December 2009. …
Sheriff Arpaio has noted that his music selections have been multiethnic and culturally diverse, from all religions and ethnicities. He told The Washington Times that in addition to tunes by Alvin and the Chipmunks, the music included the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Bing Crosby and Doctor Demento.
"All people everywhere deserve a little Christmas cheer," he said.
For his part, Sheriff Arpaio has a particular fondness for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, Multiculturalism: Jihad By Other Means): After issuing a preliminary injunction against State Question 755, voted into law by 70 percent of voters banning OK courts from citing to, or using, Shariah law, federal judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange has now made the injunction permanent, reports The Wall Street Journal, to “give her more time to consider the constitutional challenge, filed shortly after Election Day by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, The Swiss Are Not Neutral About Minarets (second item): A year after approving a ban on minarets, 52.9 percent of Swiss voters supported an initiative by the Swiss People's Party (SVP) to automatically deport foreign residents convicted of murder, rape drug trafficking and other serious crimes to their country of origin, instead of on a case-by-case basis, reports Deutsche Welle:
A counter-proposal put forth by the Swiss government, which would make expulsion dependent on the length of a prison term rather on an arbitrary list of offenses, appears to have been rejected by most voters, according to preliminary results. …
Foreigners make up more than a fifth of Switzerland's population of 7.7 million, and according to official figures are disproportionately charged with crimes.
The working with the cantons, federal government will also find ways “to ensure the effective integration” of foreign nationals in Switzerland.
† Updates To Previous Posts (Can We Be Adult About Stem Cell Research?): Researchers increasingly believe that one day it will be possible to harvest cells from an organ – say, the heart - transform them into another type of cell in that organ – say, heart muscle, to repair post heart-attack damage, reports The Associated Press:
It's still experimental. But at its root, it's really just harnessing and speeding up what happens in nature: a versatile but immature cell matures into a more specialized one. …
The new direct-conversion approach avoids embryonic stem cells and the whole notion of returning to an early state. Why not just go directly from one specialized cell to another? It's like flying direct rather than scheduling a stopover. …
Using embryonic stem cells is proving to be inefficient and more difficult than expected, scientists say. …
So direct conversion might offer a more efficient and faster way of getting the kinds of cells scientists want. …
The secret to these transformations is the fact that all cells of a person's body carry the same DNA code. But not all the genes are active at any one time. In fact, a cell's identity depends on its lineup of active genes. So, to convert a cell, scientists alter that combination by inserting chemical signals to activate particular genes. …
Even when the experiments work, there are plenty of questions to answer. Can this technique reliably produce transformed cells? Are these new cells normal? Or do they retain some hidden vestiges of their original identity that might cause trouble later on?
Scientists pursuing non-embryonic stem cell research complain that federal funding of their work has been diverted to research using embryonic cells. If President Barack Hussein Obama means to keep his campaign promise to pursue science-based policies, he will take the necessary steps to ensure that scientists can continue to pursue vital research using cells that are not derived by creating and killing embryos – reducing or cutting off funds for embryonic stem cell research, if necessary.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Is Obama’s Birth Certificate Fake?): For the second time, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to President Barack Obama's claims of being a natural born U.S. citizen, this time from Pennsylvanian Charles Kerchner Jr., reports CNN:
Kerchner's attorney, Mario Apuzzo, had argued in a petition with the Supreme Court that Obama did not fit the definition of a "natural-born citizen" required for the nation's highest office, as defined by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. …
Kerchner, a retired military officer who describes himself on his website as a "genetic genealogy pioneer," argues the framers of the 1789 document intended a "natural-born" citizen to mean someone born in the U.S. to parents who were both American citizens.
The high court and other courts had dismissed earlier, unrelated lawsuits from individuals questioning Obama's citizenship. ...
Other legal claims on the citizenship question whether Obama was in fact born in the United States, and whether his birth documents are authentic.
Among the issues the high court has refused to fully address in these appeals involves "standing," whether individual Americans can bring such a lawsuit, by first establishing personal, direct "harm" or "injury" from having Obama occupy the White House. Overcoming that legal hurdle would allow such suits to proceed on the merits in courts.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on five-year-old Joshua Shaffer, who donated his life savings - $45.85 – to help rebuild the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department’s main station after an October 1st electrical fire destroyed the facility, three trucks and nearly all of its equipment, reports The Charleston (WV) Gazette:
J.T. Shaffer, Joshua's father, said Saturday his son decided to donate his savings after watching a YouTube video of the fire that destroyed the main station.
"They can't do it all by themselves," Joshua Shaffer said Saturday, after presenting the jar of coins to members of the fire department at Sissonville High School.
In honor of the donation, members of the VFD presented Joshua with a certificate, naming him an honorary junior firefighter.
He also shook each firefighter's hand before getting the chance to climb into the unit's fire truck and push a few buttons.
Joshua said Saturday he's already planning to begin saving money for "Big Josh," a fire truck the department plans to purchase and name after him.