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.
Spending on national parks should be increased by at least $700 million over the next seven years, an independent panel urged Congress on Thursday .
The additional spending should bring increased tourism, promote enjoyment of the outdoors and help preserve national treasures for future generations, the panel said.
The bipartisan National Parks Second Century Commission also urged President Barack Obama to appoint a panel charged with promoting the parks and raising private money in time for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. It also called for an expansion of the National Park Service's mission, making education an explicit part of the agency for the first time.
As America's latest wartime president reviews the grim but realistic assessment of his top war zone general--- and reshapes the military strategy that will become his legacy -- this much is certain:
The Vietnamization of the war in Afghanistan cannot, and will not, be an option.
And this much is far from certain: Whether the Iraqization of Afghanistan (which is a semi-accurate shorthand for what the general is proposing) really can be an option that can succeed in this latest war that is close to Iraq only in proximity -- but in no other way.
A recent article on salon.com attempted to sweep away legitimate criticisms of the downside of high-tech on human intelligence:
"By now the arguments are familiar: Facebook is ruining our social relationships; Google is making us dumber; texting is destroying the English language as we know it. We're facing a crisis, one that could very well corrode the way humans have communicated since we first evolved from apes. What we need, so say these proud Luddites, is to turn our backs on technology and embrace not the keyboard, but the pencil."