There is an old saying that something that belongs to everyone belongs to no one. The National Mall in Washington belongs to all of us, and it shows.
The Mall is one of the world's great urban spaces: Two miles of greensward stretching along one axis from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and from the White House to the Jefferson Memorial on the short axis.
The Mall is lined with museums and dotted with monuments, including the achingly sad Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From a distance, it is still a world-class park for a world-class capital.
More than 50 million Americans gamble with their futures by not having health insurance, an option they won't have under all proposed health care "reform plans" coming out of the Democratic Congress.
The uninsured face the possibility of financial disaster if a catastrophic illness or accident puts them in the hospital but they also pay less for routing health care than most Americans with health insurance.
But they face a fine from the federal government if any of the proposed health care reform plans become law.
Opponents of the federal mandates say it is an infringement of individual rights and just another example of big government from the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama wants kids to spend more time in schools.
School students aren't happy about the idea. Neither or school administrators who say the President's ideas would add costs to financially-strapped educational systems.
Which could mean increased local taxes and a financial burden to struggling taxpayers.
Add another unpopular idea from a President who is facing increasing unpopularity from a skeptical public.
Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that's happened since the 1980s.
The deficits — $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 — won't affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit.
Applications for retirement benefits are 23 percent higher than last year, while disability claims have risen by about 20 percent. Social Security officials had expected applications to increase from the growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement, but they didn't expect the increase to be so large.
The Obama administration may claim the recession is over and offer glowing reports of growth in the housing and financial markets but those messages ring hollow to the millions of Americans out of work and facing a future with little chance for employment.
There are six people seeking jobs for every one that is open. That's 14.5 million unemployed Americans trying to get hired for 2.4 million jobs.
And companies aren't ready to start hiring again. With unemployment benefits running out, an increasing number of Americans will lose their homes, their savings and their future.
Unemployment stands at 9.7 percent natiowide. It's expected to top 10 percent by the end of the year.
For these Americans, the recession is far from over.
Considering the turmoil about how to proceed in Afghanistan, perhaps it is time for the United States to cut its losses and leave this political and military swamp to its own fate. It certainly doesn't take any genius to understand that current policy is in such disarray that hopes for achieving political stability and long-term defeat of the Taliban are greatly diminished.
The military's advice to President Barack Obama seems clear enough: Deploy more troops to get the job done in Afghanistan.
Vice President Joe Biden has this to say: Enough is enough. Reduce the number of soldiers fighting the Taliban and go after al-Qaeda.
Inside the White House, there's a different opinion for nearly every senior staffer.
Obama, who must decide what to do, is reviewing his options. They are poor. He already sent 21,000 more Americans to Afghanistan just six months ago.
We, the public, don't want to "lose" another war; nor do we want more Americans dying for no purpose. We can be certain the British and Russians, who spent many futile years in that harsh land trying to pacify marauding tribes, do not wish they had stayed longer.
A family's visit to a rural Kentucky cemetery led to the shocking discovery of a part-time census worker's naked body hanging from a tree with the word "fed" written on his chest.
Jerry Weaver of Fairfield, Ohio, told The Associated Press the man had been gagged and his hands and feet were bound with duct tape.
Weaver said Friday he was certain from the gruesome scene that 51-year-old Bill Sparkman was killed deliberately.
"He was murdered," Weaver said. "There's no doubt."
Weaver said he was in rural Clay County, Ky., for a family reunion and was visiting some family graves at the cemetery on Sept. 12 along with his wife and daughter when they saw the body.
An Afghan immigrant wanted to carry out a New York City terror attack involving hydrogen peroxide bombs on commuter trains to possibly coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary before federal authorities foiled the plan, a U.S. prosecutor said Friday.
U.S. prosecutor Tim Neff told a federal judge that Najibullah Zazi "was in the throes of making a bomb and attempting to perfect his formulation."
"The evidence suggests a chilling, disturbing sequence of events showing the defendant was intent on making a bomb and being in New York on 9/11, for purposes of perhaps using such items," Neff declared.
The American general sent to Afghanistan to turn the war around says the situation he found was worse than expected and he doesn't think the war can be won by simply throwing more firepower at the enemy.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal tells 60 Minutes this Sunday that civilian casualties are higher than he wanted is a key issue in whether or not the United States wins or loses the war.
On the violence, McChrystal said the situation is Iraq is worse now than when he arrived in country several months ago.
"They're probably a little worse. I think that in some areas that the breadth of the violence, the geographic spread of violence, is a little more than I would have gathered."
The interview with McChrystal will be broadcast Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT.