Issue 477, October 6, 2006
Strong job numbers continue for 37th consecutive month
The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that 51,000 jobs were created during the month of September. That marks the 37th consecutive month of U.S. job growth, for a total of more than 5.8 million new jobs since August 2003. Unemployment fell to 4.6 percent, a low mark by historical standards, and wages rose slightly during September. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at record highs this week as well. This is all positive news for our economy, but perhaps most encouraging is that the average price for a gallon of gas has fallen by 74 cents since early August.
President signs homeland security bill
On Wednesday, President Bush signed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act into law, providing much needed funding to protect our country, including increased funding for border security. The bill provides a total of $21.3 billion for border protection and immigration enforcement. This includes $2.27 billion for the border patrol. That will help add an additional 1,500 new Border Patrol agents, for a total of 14,800 agents. $1.2 billion is included in the bill for border fencing, vehicle barriers, technology and infrastructure. In addition, the legislation enacts criminal penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment for individuals who knowingly construct or finance the construction of an unauthorized tunnel across a U.S. international border.
Secretary Rice visits Iraq
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Thursday to meet with Iraqi officials. Rice expressed her support for the democratically elected government of Iraq, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but urged leaders to quickly settle political differences that are slowing the process of moving Iraq forward toward peace and stability. Acknowledging the ongoing violence in Iraq, Rice said, "The security situation is not one that can be tolerated and is not one that is helped by political inaction."
Washington Post violates airspace restriction during Amish funerals
This has been a very hard week for the Amish Community of Lancaster County. Monday's shooting at an Amish school in Nickel Mines left five little girls dead, and five more hospitalized. On Thursday and Friday, the community held funeral services for the victims. To honor the Amish families' request for privacy, I worked with state and federal officials to block local roads to outside traffic and to institute an airspace restriction around the site of the funerals so that news helicopters couldn't interrupt the solemn ceremonies. Most media outlets were very considerate of the privacy concerns; however, a helicopter used by a Washington Post photographer did violate the airspace restriction at one point, flying in close to the funerals to take photos. Reports suggest that the helicopter may have accidentally been given clearance by air traffic controllers. Regardless of whether they were cleared or not, I find it highly disrespectful that the Post would so brazenly disrupt these very private ceremonies. These families are already suffering enough, and the least we can do is respect their much-valued privacy during this time.
Quote of the Week
"The main thing they want to say to the world is not how awful this event is, but that their faith in God is strong and they have forgiven the shooter."
-Rita Rhoads, a Mennonite nurse-midwife, who visited with the families of the girls killed in Monday's Amish school tragedy.