Monday, April 30, 2012

Money Man Obama: Fundraises More Than Past Five Presidents...Combined

If you feel like President Obama is always campaigning, there's a reason why. According to a new book, President Obama has held more re-election fundraisers than all five previous presidents....combined.
The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in the 1980 campaign, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.
The worst part? Obama is doing most of it on the taxpayer dime.

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Delta to buy oil refinery

Delta Air Lines announced plans Monday to purchase an oil refinery outside of Philadelphia, a novel approach to reducing its fuel costs.
A Delta spokesman said the company believes the purchase is the first of its kind by a major U.S. airline.
Delta (DAL, Fortune 500) will buy the Trainer refinery for $150 million from Phillips 66 (PSXWI), a company that is set to be spun off from energy firm ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500) on Tuesday. The purchase is expected to be finalized by the end of June.
"Acquiring the Trainer refinery is an innovative approach to managing our largest expense," Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement. "This modest investment, the equivalent of the list price of a new widebody aircraft, will allow Delta to reduce its fuel expense by $300 million annually and ensure jet fuel availability in the Northeast."
Delta said it intends to spend $100 million to convert the refinery's existing infrastructure in order to maximize jet fuel production. The site, it noted, offers easy access to New York airports and Delta hubs LaGuardia and JFK.
ConocoPhillips shuttered the Trainer refinery in the fall. Refineries throughout the Northeast have been suffering because they are old and cannot process the cheaper, heavier types of oil that are increasingly in supply from Canada's oil sands, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and elsewhere.

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Wisconsin Unemployment Falls

Despite Wisconsin's unemployment rate being well below the national rate and steadily falling, on Saturday's NBC Nightly News correspondent Ron Allen selectively hyped job losses: "With the protesters serenading Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker and urging voters to recall him from office June 5th, the state's job losses add to the list of grievances. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics says Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs between March 2011 and March 2012."

That same Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed that Wisconsin's unemployment rate fell from 7.6% to 6.8% in that same time period. Ignoring that reality, Allen featured a sound bite from an unidentified woman who ranted: "No other state has lost jobs like this. Wisconsin alone moved sort of off the rails of the national recovery."
Allen then proclaimed: "Many here blame Governor Walker for the job losses. He took office in January 2011, made deep cuts to balance the budget, and virtually eliminated collective bargaining for most public workers....Policies that brought tens of thousands of protesters to the capital and launched the effort to recall Walker from office."

Allen noted how Walker was "telling a very different story about jobs" – in other words, the truth – and played a campaign ad of Walker explaining: "Today, Wisconsin's unemployment rate, it's the lowest it's been since 2008."

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Two Banks Return $101.1 million in TARP Funds

The slow-motion unwinding of the government crisis-era rescue programs continues. Every week, the Treasury reports on the dwindling core of banks who have yet to return the capital they took from the government in 2008 and 2009. Last week, two banks returned about $101 million in cash to Treasury.
Park National Bank, based in Newark, Ohio, in December 2008, took $100 million as part of the Capital Purchase Program. On April 20, Park National raised $30 million by selling bonds to investors.  It used that money, combined with $70 million in cash generated from operations, to repay Treasury. Treasury still owns warrants in the bank, which will likely generate another $5 million when they are sold.
Moscow Bancshares, parent company of Bank of Fayette County, based in Moscow, Tennessee, in January 2009 received $6.22 million in Capital Purchase Program funds. On April 25, it paid back $1.1 million of the total. It still owes about $5.1 million.
Together, the two transactions brought about $101 million into the government's coffers.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte campaigns with Mitt Romney—a tryout for VP?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to campaign Monday in New Hampshire with Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whose name has been tossed around as a possible running mate. Like past appearances with other possible VP contenders such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, today's event could be viewed as a tryout for the young senator.
Ayotte, a New Hampshire native who endorsed Romney months before the primary there, has been coy about the prospects that she could be on the list to serve as Romney's number two this fall. She was an active surrogate for the former Massachusetts governor throughout the primary season.
"We know that with his experience, he will make sure that we get our fiscal house in order in Washington, that we stop crushing all of us and our children with mountains of debt, and that we get Americans back to work," Ayotte said of Romney when she endorsed him in November.
Events like these act as trial runs for hypothetical tickets, giving the staff of each camp the opportunity to gauge the chemistry between the candidates and test the public perception of the duo in public.
In an interview with Fox News in November, Romney said he was considering her for the slot.

Home ownership: Biggest drop since Great Depression

The percentage of Americans who owned their homes has seen its biggest decline since the Great Depression, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rate of home ownership fell to 65.1% in April 2010, 1.1 percentage points lower than it was in 2000. The decline was the biggest drop since the 1930s, when home ownership plunged 4.2%.
The most recent decade-over-decade drop, however, only tells half the story.
Home ownership during the 2000s "was really high in the middle of the decade, up to almost 70% at one point around 2004," said Ellen Wilson, a survey statistician with the bureau.
The crash from that peak was more than 4 percentage points in just about five years -- a far more dramatic decline than the 1.1% drop over the 10-year period.

A rough 10 years for the middle class

Certain regions have been hit harder than others. The West had the lowest home ownership rate at 60.5%, while the Midwest had the highest rate at 69.2%.The South came in at 66.7% and the Northeast at 62.2%.
Among the states, New York had the lowest home ownership rate of 53.3%, but the District of Columbia's home ownership rate was below that at 42%.

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Update from Senator Bob Corker April 30, 2012

You Can't Trust the Senate to Live Within Its Means

In advance of the Senate's vote on the Postal Service bill, S. 1789, on the Senate floor last Wednesday, Senator Corker said the bill is further proof that "you absolutely cannot trust the United States Senate to live within its means."

Senator Corker said the postal service bill commits "generational theft" by violating budgetary limits for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 and adding $11 billion to the federal deficit. He voted against the bill, which passed by a vote of 62 to 37.

"A vote for this bill is a vote to add $11 billion to the deficit and a vote to break trust with the American people over the recently-passed Budget Control Act. Unfortunately, the Senate has shown in a bipartisan way that the American people cannot trust their elected leaders to stop the generational theft that is occuring. Hopefully, the House will be more principled in its approach," Senator Corker said.

The U.S. Postal Service lost $5.1 billion in this last fiscal year, $3.3 billion in the first quarter of this current year and is facing insolvency by as early as this October. First class mail volume has declined 20 percent over the last five years and is expected to fall another 20 percent by 2020.

"Rather than removing the handcuffs and enabling real reform so the Postal Service can compete in the marketplace and serve communities that depend on it, this bill punts the tough choices to a future Congress and further hamstrings the Postal Service with more mandates that will put it in even worse financial shape. It even requires the USPS to provide certain services at a loss. By not allowing the Postal Service the freedom it needs to operate like any other business in America, Congress is merely hastening its demise and demonstrating how little leadership there is in Washington." said Senator Corker.

Senator Corker offered an amendment (#2083) to the bill designed to provide broad flexibility so the USPS has the power to make appropriate business decisions to reduce excessive costs and compete in the marketplace without excessive congressional interference. Called a "genuine legislative solution" by the Washington Post, Corker's amendment would have saved the Postal Service $21 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 29 to 70.

"My amendment offered a balanced approach that would have saved the Postal Service $21 billion and provided it with needed flexibility as it works toward financial stability," Corker said. "The American people are losing faith in their elected leaders to actually solve problems that will help create jobs and grow the economy. It is time to unshackle this failing enterprise from government control over its business decisions before it's too late."

Appearing on CNBC's The Kudlow Report last Thursday, Senator Corker reiterated his disappointment in the bill. "[T]his is one of those things Congress does to keep itself popular at the expense of the taxpayer. I just hope the House will be more principled in what they do," said Senator Corker.

Trustees' Reports on Social Security and Medicare Demonstrate Urgency for Reform

Last week, Senator Corker said the annual reports from the Trustees for Social Security and Medicare demonstrate the urgency for reform of both Social Security and Medicare. The reports indicate the Social Security Trust Fund will run out of money in 2033, three years earlier than projected last year, and the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will run out of money in 2024.
"Today’s reports confirm what we all know but Washington has been ignoring for years: Congress must act to reform and restore solvency to Social Security and Medicare and put our country on a path to fiscal sanity.  Bold entitlement reform combined with long-term deficit reduction and pro-growth tax reform that lowers rates across the board will cause the economy take off.  I will continue working with my colleagues in both parties toward that end," said Senator Corker.

Government Should Not Encourage Homeowners to Default

In an interview with CNBC’s Rick Santelli last Wednesday, Senator Corker warned against a Treasury Department plan to encourage principal reductions on underwater home loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because it could incentivize responsible homeowners to stop paying their mortgages. Fannie and Freddie were taken over by the government in 2008 and are overseen by the Federal Housing Finance Agency whose mission is to protect taxpayers from losses.


Student Loan Subsidies Benefit Elites at Taxpayers’ Expense

Does it make sense for the government to take taxes from the big majority of Americans who never managed to win college degrees in order to subsidize the pricey education of the fortunate few who get to attend top universities?
Why is it fair to increase burdens on stressed-out working families so the feds can reduce future interest payments on student loans for members of the elite?
Isn’t President Obama’s current push to spend a $6 billion on college-loan relief precisely the sort of rob-from-the-poor-to-give-to-the-rich outrage that any conscientious progressive ought to oppose?
These are questions that even Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans refuse to pose, as they retreat or temporize concerning the president’s shameless student-loan scam. The big duel in Congress concerns the best way to pay for continuing the subsidized loans, with no real debate about the wisdom of the subsidy itself.
Republicans and Democrats alike feel so intimidated by the brute political power of college students and their families that no one will point out it’s the beneficiaries themselves who ought to cough up the extra money. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that they do so when interest rates revert to their normal, pre-2007 level on July 1st—especially since those students aren’t obligated to begin making those interest payments or retiring their principal until they’ve completed their education or dropped out of school. In effect, our leaders suggest that future millionaire attorneys who graduate from Harvard Law School (as both Obama and Romney did) ought to get reduced payments on their student loans at the ultimate expense of all taxpayers—including janitors who toil away at the very Ivy League campus where the two presidential candidates once matriculated.

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The Scourge of Collectivism in the Nation State of America

The mind of the collectivist is empty and pitiful, and has not the ability to think on its own. It has no uniqueness; it has no individual personality. It does not create, nor does it possess any sense of self. The collectivist mind can’t possess these virtues because it is only a very small cog in a wheel of the group. It is but a speck in the midst of a mob. This is the story of America today, as collectivism runs rampant and individualism is shunned.
This is a rather harsh truth about the dramatic decline of individualism, of individual thought, critical thinking, and self-responsibility. It is an admission that once sane minds have all but disappeared from view, and philosophical degradation has been the result. Because of this mass escape from personal responsibility, moral, physical, political, and economic corruption has become the norm, and now this corruption is all encompassing.
When collectivism takes hold, individual rights naturally disappear, and mob rule policies take root. This policy transformation of course, is affected by the state. The progression from a system that is based on individual self rule and individual sovereignty to one of community or nation is not in the interest of freedom and liberty. When any political system is in place, this negative progression is easily achieved nonetheless. Only peaceful anarchy allows for the individual to be truly sovereign. Only when the state is absent can freedom flourish.
Ruling "elites" crave this merging of individuals into a societal tumor, because this cancer destroys the power of individual thought. The result of this diseased system can lead only to consensus and compromise. It can lead only to corruption. Consensus leads to no real decision at all, and the following compromise is nothing more than a mass combining of ignorance. When political policy is decided in this manner, it serves only to limit the individual’s ability to achieve. 

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Obama’s deficit attention disorder

President Barack Obama seems to be governing in some parallel universe — where the United States exists without mortal dangers threatening its economy and the nation’s most pressing exigency is the reelection of its president.
But when Obama swore to defend the Constitution, and therefore the nation, he did it in the dimension where the rest of us exist, where the economy appears to be headed toward its annual spring stall and an endless series of massive budget deficits threatens to unleash a financial crisis at any time.
While big issues simmer untended, our leader is focused like a laser beam on trivia that benefit him politically but do the country little or no good.
Obama devoted a full week this month to smacking the rich around with the “Buffett rule” — which his own advisers acknowledged was more a crusade for “fairness” than a way to fill the budget gap. This is approximately like complaining to a bank robber that he is cutting in line.
The president then launched a crusade to hire a new crew of federal enforcers to nab crafty oil speculators who might be driving up the price of gasoline — assuming these speculators exist.
This ploy was a model of PR efficiency. It not only portrayed Obama as riding to the rescue of motorists besieged by $4 a gallon gas, it showed him ready to slay a few more Wall Street types he’s set up as the boogeymen of his administration.

Obama has held more re-election fundraisers than previous five Presidents combined as he visits key swing states on 'permanent campaign'

Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.
Obama is also the only president in the past 35 years to visit every electoral battleground state in his first year of office.
The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.
Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.
Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in the 1980 campaign, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.

Sitting Out Obama

We recently saw lots of sit-down strikes and demonstrations — the various efforts in Wisconsin, the Occupy movements, and student efforts to oppose tuition hikes. None of them mattered much or changed anything. There is a sit-down strike, however, that has paralyzed the country and has been largely ignored by the media.
Most economists since 2009 have been completely wrong in their forecasts, reminding us that their supposedly data-driven discipline is more an art than a science. After all, a great deal of money is invested and spent — or not — based largely on perceptions, hunches, and emotions rather than a 100 percent certainty of profit or loss.  And the message Americans are getting is that the Obama administration is hostile to investment and business, and thus should be waited out.
Barack Obama’s original economic team — Austan Goolsbee, Christina Romer, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag — have long fled the administration, and have proved mostly wrong in all their therapies and prognostications of 2009. Despite the stimulus of borrowing over $5 trillion in less than four years, near-zero interest rates, and chronic deficits, the U.S. economy is in the weakest recovery since the Great Depression and mired in the longest streak of continuous unemployment of 8 percent or higher — 38 months — since the 1930s. The Mexican economy is growing more rapidly than is ours. Why did not massive annual $1 trillion–plus deficits spark a recovery, as government claimed an ever larger percentage of GDP, and new public-works projects were heralded by the administration?

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In almost total secrecy, the Obama Justice Department has charged a U.S. Border Patrol agent, Luis Fonseca, for depriving the rights of a yet to be identified illegal alien at the Border Patrol station located on Imperial Beach, California, last July. Fonseca, however, was not indicted until a week ago.
Agent Fonseca, 32, allegedly kneed and choked an unidentified alien during his tour near the Mexican border last summer. During his arraignment on Monday April 16, he entered a not guilty plea.
A grand jury had handed down the indictment on April 12, but details were withheld and the DOJ neglected to promulgate why the legal action was taken against the Border Patrol agent, according to an "Inside-the-Beltway" public-interest group that investigates and exposes government corruption and misconduct.
"Border Patrol Agent Fonseca kneed and choked an unidentified alien, depriving him of the right under the Constitution and the laws of the United States to be free from use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. "The indictment also alleges as a result of the use of unreasonable force the individual sustained bodily injury." 

$38,976,000 can't buy a budget from Senate Dems

Senate Democrats have avoided passing a budget for three straight years as of today. What's more, Democratic senators are surprisingly open in admitting they won't pass one this year, either, in order to avoid an embarrassing vote before this fall's election.
"This is the wrong time to vote in committee; this is the wrong time to vote on the floor," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D. said on April 18th. "I don’t think we will be prepared to vote before the election." In a sense, it was indeed the wrong time. Senate Democrats had already missed the legal deadline for submitting a budget resolution (April 15th) as they had in the two previous years.
"For three years, in the midst of fiscal crisis, the party running the Senate refused to even attempt to produce their financial plan in willful and knowing defiance of the law," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said in a statement on this three-year anniversary of the last Senate budget.
He added that "neither [Obama] nor his Senate majority has any business asking the American people to send one more dime in new taxes to this dysfunctional government."
Democrats have offered a variety of excuses for the lack of the budget. White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, for instance, blamed Republicans for the lack of a Senate budget.
"You can't pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes, and you can't get 60 votes without bipartisan support," he said on CNN in February.  "So unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed."

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The Economy and the Presidency

America’s presidential election is now just six months away. If history is a reliable guide, the outcome will depend significantly on the economy’s performance between now and November 6, and on Americans’ perception of their economic future under the two candidates.
CommentsAt the moment, America’s economy is limping along with slow growth and high unemployment. Output grew by just 1.5% last year, and real GDP per capita is lower now than before the economic downturn began at the end of 2007. Although annual GDP growth was 3% in the fourth quarter of 2011, more than half of that reflected inventory accumulation. Final sales to households, businesses, and foreign buyers rose at only a 1.1% annual rate, even slower than earlier in the year. And the preliminary estimate for annual GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012 was a disappointing 2.2%, with only a 1.6% rise in final sales.
CommentsThe labor market has been similarly disappointing. The March unemployment rate of 8.2% was nearly three percentage points above what most economists would consider a desirable and sustainable long-run level rate. Although the rate was down from 9% a year ago, about half of the change reflected a rise in the number of people who have stopped looking for work, rather than an increase in job creation and the employment rate.
CommentsIndeed, the official unemployment rate understates the weakness of the labor market. An estimated 6% of all employees are working fewer hours per week than they would like, and about 2% of potential employees are not counted as unemployed because they have not looked for work in the past few weeks, even though they would like to work. Adding these individuals to those officially classified as unemployed implies that about 15% of potential labor-force participants are working less than they want.

Coal industry wants activists muted in courts over mine permits

Coal industry lawyers are hoping to combine the results of several recent court cases to significantly narrow the ability of citizen groups to block new mountaintop-removal mining permits in federal court.
Lawyers for Alpha Natural Resources outlined their strategy last week during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers, who is considering citizen group challenges to at least two permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Shane Harvey, a former Massey Energy Co. general counsel now representing Alpha, argued that a trio of federal court cases leaves Chambers with very little ability to overrule a permit approval from the corps.
The rulings -- a district court ruling, an appeals court decision and a U.S. Supreme Court opinion -- show federal judges should "defer to the corps' review" of applications for Clean Water Act "dredge-and-fill" permits, Harvey said in a legal brief.
Chambers did not immediately agree, and questioned Harvey in detail about parts of the industry's analysis. Obama administration lawyers, representing the corps at the hearing, also argued a similarly narrow view, saying Chambers should not hear detailed evidence from academic experts working with citizen groups in the case.

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Member of Afghan elite forces blamed in attack on NATO

For the first time, a member of Afghanistan's elite special forces has carried out a deadly attack against an American military mentor, a senior Afghan army official said Friday, an ominous escalation in the "green-on-blue" shootings that have threatened Western troops' partnership with the Afghan police and army.
Until now, rank-and-file members of the Afghan security forces had been responsible for most of the dozens of "insider" shootings targeting members of the NATO force in recent years. But Afghanistan's special forces are supposed to be selectively recruited, carefully vetted and better disciplined than ordinary soldiers and police officers.
Efforts to train the Afghan police and army are at the heart of the Western exit strategy, which is to be weighed at a NATO gathering in Chicago less than a month from now. After more than a decade of war, the United States and its allies are attempting to begin extracting themselves militarily while also affirming long-term support for Afghanistan.
The NATO force, made up predominantly of Americans, has already begun handing over security responsibilities to Afghans in wide swaths of the country. But with the Western combat role set to wrap up by the end of 2014, U.S. and allied troops face a tight deadline for preparing Afghan forces to take the lead in confronting the Taliban and other insurgents.
In conducting the training, Western troops work and fight alongside their Afghan counterparts, often at small, remote bases, a relationship that is meant to foster trust and understanding but which sometimes flares into lethal altercations.

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Mad cow: Latest episode raises questions about cattle feed

There appears to be no risk to humans from the dairy cow discovered in California this week to have “mad cow” disease. That’s according to the US Department of Agriculture and the beef industry.
“It is important to reiterate that this animal was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, did not enter food supply channels, and at no time presented any risk to human health,” the USDA said in a statement this week.
But the case involving a 10 year-old Holstein raises questions about how such cattle themselves are fed, which critics say could be part of a dangerous cycle.
RECOMMENDED: Six major food recalls
Mad cow, known scientifically as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is believed to be carried by animal feed made from cattle brains or spinal cord. Such feed is now banned in the US and other countries, but cases of BSE have continued to appear around the world.
The World Health Organization has called for the exclusion of the riskiest tissues (eyes and intestines as well as brains and spinal cord) from all animal feed to protect against the spread of mad cow disease.

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U.S. military faces scrutiny over its prostitution policies

No one talks tougher against prostitution than the U.S. military.
Even in countries where prostitution is legal, military personnel violating a seven-year-old Department of Defense policy against paying for sex face up to a year in jail and dishonorable discharge if caught.
Officers and troops are taught about the links between human trafficking and prostitution. They also face country-specific instructions at bases like the U.S. installation in South Korea, where the policy describes prostitution as "cruel and demeaning."
But the involvement of U.S. military personnel and Secret Service agents in a raucous April outing with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, has underscored the gaps between the written policies and real-life experiences at military assignments around the world.
While the Secret Service has acted promptly and openly, even announcing Friday new ethics training and policies for traveling agents, the military has stayed mostly mum about how it is addressing possible violations of its prostitution rules.
After the Colombia scandal broke, initial attention focused on the dozen agents from the Secret Service, a civilian agency, for fear safety of the president or other officials might have been compromised. Eight agents have since left the service, one had his security clearance revoked and three were cleared.

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Drilling oil takes water and makes water

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is the second of a two-part series. You can read part one here.
Drilling and hydraulic fracturing a well is only half the story when it comes to the water used in oil and gas exploration.
After the well is drilled, after the target formation is fractured and as the oil and gas begins flowing up the well, wastewater comes along with it.
As Colorado Springs and El Paso County wrestle with the sudden interest in drilling in the area, what to do with that wastewater is a big concern.
As much as half of the fluid used to fracture the rock gradually returns to the surface as flowback water, emerging from the well along with the oil and gas over a period of weeks.
Many rock formations, including the Niobrara, also contain water, often briny and laden with minerals, that comes out of the well as what is called produced water, over several years.
“Produced water can be nasty, nasty stuff; other places you can drink it,” said Thom Kerr, acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which oversees oil and gas drilling in the state.
Getting rid of flowback and produced water is a challenge for drilling companies, since it’s generally too toxic to simply be poured out on the ground — although the state allows drillers to spread produced water on roads if it meets a purity standard. Some of the flowback fluid can be put through filters and reused at the next well.

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Why I refused to return to fight in Afghanistan's brutal occupation

Recent attacks in Kabul confirm the occupation is falling to pieces. Claims about "decisive years" and "turned corners" are little more than cant. Instead for all their lack of air power, drones and high-tech equipment, the Taliban are gaining ascendancy.
The ability to attack up to seven different locations, to hold one for 20 hours, and to attack the fortified compounds of the occupiers and local supporters cannot sensibly be read as a sign that the insurgency is losing ground. Fighting in Afghanistan is seasonal and the Kabul attacks were the season's opening game.
No insurgency can survive without broad support from the local population. The insurgent relies upon the people for intelligence, support, safety and more. The fact that insurgents now control great swaths of the country virtually unchallenged tells us the people have been lost, partially due to the occupiers' bumbling efforts. The argument that Afghans are rejecting the Taliban falls flat.
Let's not forget there is no mandate in law for aggression nor any mention of – or authority for – brutally occupying Afghanistan in the UN resolutions regarding it. Which is why I refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan. I was sentenced to five months in military prison for it but other soldiers too have refused and are refusing to serve in Afghanistan – as is their right.
The Daily Mail published an excellent article about an anonymous British major's despair at being deployed into what he – and many soldiers I know – consider a lost cause. They are increasingly unwilling, as the officer said, to die for "a war of choice already lost halfway across the world" For all the clarity of the article, it ends in jingoism: dutifully, he will fight on, the writer asserts.

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No end in sight to global jobs crisis, ILO says

Fiscal austerity and tough labor reforms have failed to create jobs, leading to an "alarming" situation in the global employment market that shows no sign of recovering, the International Labour Organization said on Sunday.
In advanced countries, especially in Europe, employment is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels of 2008 until the end of 2016 -- two years later than it previously predicted -- in line with a slowdown in production.
An estimated 196 million people were unemployed worldwide at the end of last year, forecast to rise to 202 million in 2012 for a rate of 6.1 percent, according to the United Nations agency's annual flagship report, "World of Work Report 2012".
"Austerity has not produced more economic growth," Raymond Torres, director of the ILO Institute for International Labour Studies, told a news briefing.
"The ill-conceived labor market reforms in the short-term cannot work either. These reforms in situations of crisis tend to lead to more job destruction and very little job creation at least in the short-term," said Torres, the report's lead author.

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UK aid helps to fund forced sterilisation of India's poor

Tens of millions of pounds of UK aid money have been spent on a programme that has forcibly sterilised Indian women and men, the Observer has learned. Many have died as a result of botched operations, while others have been left bleeding and in agony. A number of pregnant women selected for sterilisation suffered miscarriages and lost their babies.
The UK agreed to give India £166m to fund the programme, despite allegations that the money would be used to sterilise the poor in an attempt to curb the country's burgeoning population of 1.2 billion people.
Sterilisation has been mired in controversy for years. With officials and doctors paid a bonus for every operation, poor and little-educated men and women in rural areas are routinely rounded up and sterilised without having a chance to object. Activists say some are told they are going to health camps for operations that will improve their general wellbeing and only discover the truth after going under the knife.
Court documents filed in India earlier this month claim that many victims have been left in pain, with little or no aftercare. Across the country, there have been numerous reports of deaths and of pregnant women suffering miscarriages after being selected for sterilisation without being warned that they would lose their unborn babies.
Yet a working paper published by the UK's Department for International Development in 2010 cited the need to fight climate change as one of the key reasons for pressing ahead with such programmes. The document argued that reducing population numbers would cut greenhouse gases, although it warned that there were "complex human rights and ethical issues" involved in forced population control.

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Senate Revives Lawmaking

Don’t call it a comeback, or even a detente, but a strange thing is happening in the Senate: Democrats and Republicans are working together to pass legislation.
While President Barack Obama has railed on the trail against a “do-nothing” Congress and House Republicans have struggled to unite around major legislation, the Senate has recently passed sweeping bills on a bipartisan basis. From a two-year transportation bill to U.S. Postal Service reform to the Violence Against Women Act, the Senate has flipped convention on its head by becoming the chamber that works.
And it’s not going without notice.
“Don’t act so surprised!” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) teased when asked about the recent legislative momentum in his chamber. “How about that?”
The Congressional humor from the No. 2 Senate Democrat, however, only underscored his more serious point: that after more than a year of gridlock, taking the government to the brink of shutdown and the nation close to default, lawmakers are finding their groove and enjoying doing what they were elected to do.
“These bills have been massive, bipartisan bills,” Durbin said. “I have to tell you: There is a growing appetite on both sides of the aisle to get things done. It has been so frustrating to watch things just grind to a halt, with threats of government shutdown, shutting down the economy over the debt ceiling. A lot of us are just fed up with it and looking for ways to pursue some legislative goals we can reach.”

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A Game of Drones

America’s recent foreign policy has been enabled by a central idea: the United States does things differently. It wages wars differently. It suspends habeas corpus sparingly and with great restraint. It encroaches on liberties more gingerly. And it puts military men and women at risk with a respectful selectivity. To advance this mythology, the federal government has, time and again, insisted that it acts with painstaking precision when it resorts to military intervention or security-state measures at home. This, officials have consistently suggested, is the American distinction.
Precision is what still seems to separate the United States from the Third World, as U.S. actions become increasingly similar to those often employed by underdeveloped countries. The myth justifies a surviving claim to global distinction, despite the errors, violations, and setbacks of the post-9/11 era. The U.S. may torture detainees like a Latin American dictatorship. It may subject its own people to surveillance of the sort once identified with the Eastern Bloc. And it may resort to violence as swiftly as any inner-city gang. But America’s government does these things with surgical exactitude, carefully distinguishing guilty from innocent. Confidence in this precision provides a buffer; it separates us from them. But the precision defense rests on an unstable pretense, as America’s escalating drone war shows.
President Obama has declared that the extensive drone campaign in Pakistan is a “targeted, focused effort” that “has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.” But the evidence shows that drones are not precise instruments of war: the idea that the bad guys can be zeroed in on robotically from the air was always improbable in theory and has proved to be untenable in practice.
An in-depth, field-based investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (on behalf of the UK’s Sunday Times) found in February that “since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children.” The bureau notes that the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004 and have stepped up significantly under Obama. There had been 260 strikes by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan under Obama’s administration—averaging one every four days.

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Obama falls short of meteoric expectations abroad

It was not just U.S. Democratic voters who were looking forward to "hope and change" when Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. president.
Around the world, many anticipated the United States would behave very differently under the new leader. They wanted to hear less about Americans swaggering and throwing their weight around. Some, perhaps, wanted more talk of U.S.-style freedom and democracy, but not if it meant Washington imposing its will.
Few dispute that Obama's election brought with it a noticeable change in tone. But 3-1/2 years later, there are growing complaints that when it comes to substance, relatively little has changed.
A scandal over the hiring of prostitutes by the U.S. Secret Service in Colombia, killings and Koran burnings in Afghanistan and drone strikes in Pakistan have helped fuel an impression of a United States that globally does what it wants regardless of others.
Even the "Arab Spring," some complain, showcased U.S. hypocrisy: Washington withdrew support from autocratic allies like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak only when it became clear they were on the way out while still supporting authoritarian partners in states such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

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Declassified 1947 CIA Palestine Warning

In the report “The Consequences of the Partition of Palestine” the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) warned against the adverse fallout that would occur if the proposal to separate Palestine into two territories, one primarily Jewish and the other Arab.  The first sentence in the summary is very specific and prophetic:
Armed hostilities between Jews and Arabs will break out if the UN General Assembly accepts the plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab States as recommended by the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP).

Follow up:
The final paragraph of the full report basically described the next 40 plus years of history for the Cold War and the ongoing history that continues to this day:
The UN, having recommended partition, would have to consider the serious threat to the peace resulting from the recommendation.  It would, in effect, be compelled to take steps to enforce partition, with the major powers acting as the instruments of enforcement.  The dangerous potentialities of such a development to US – Arab and US – USSR relations need no emphasis.

Who Is 'Racist'? Part II

Around this time of year, I sometimes hear from parents who have been appalled to learn that the child they sent away to college to become educated has instead been indoctrinated with the creed of the left. They often ask if I can suggest something to have their offspring read over the summer, in order to counteract this indoctrination.
This year the answer is a no-brainer. It is a book with the unwieldy title, No Matter What ...They'll Call This Book Racist by Harry Stein, a writer for what is arguably America's best magazine, City Journal. In a little over 200 very readable pages, the author deftly devastates with facts the nonsense about race that dominates much of what is said in the media and in academia.
There is no subject on which lies and half-truths have become so much the norm on ivy-covered campuses than is the subject of race. Moreover, anyone who even questions these lies and half-truths is almost certain to be called a "racist," especially in academic institutions which loudly proclaim a "diversity" that is confined to demographics, and all but forbidden when it comes to a diversity of ideas.
The ultimate irony is that many of those who publicly promote or accept the prevailing party line on race do not themselves accept it privately. A few years ago, when a faculty vote on affirmative action was proposed at the University of California at Berkeley, there was a fierce disagreement as to whether that vote should be taken by secret ballot or at an open faculty meeting.

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Of Waterboarding...and Gun Control

If you conservatives out there in AT country are anything like me, you spend a good deal of time scratching your heads in perplexity when leftists speak.  "How can they possibly believe that?"
Give the top of your head a break and don't let your fingernails draw any blood when you watch Leslie Stahl's 60 Minutes interview -- set to air in full  tonight, April 29 -- of former CIA Clandestine Services head Jose Rodriguez.  Rodriguez was in charge of, among other things, the interrogation of 911 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) using "enhanced interrogation" techniques, which of course we all know is a euphemism for waterboarding.
In a nation that says it's OK to deploy armed drones that inevitably kill and maim non-combatant bystanders right along with enemy terrorists, we find Ms. Stahl deeply concerned about Ensure being fed to interrogation subjects:
Stahl: So what happens [when KSM is waterboarded], does he break down? Does he weep? Does he fall apart?
Rodriguez: No, he gets a good night's sleep. He gets his Ensure, by the way he was very heavy and when he came to us he lost 50 pounds.
Stahl: What, his Ensure? You mean like people in the hospital who will eat that stuff?
Rodriguez: Yes. Dietary manipulation is was part of these dark techniques.
Stahl: So sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation. I mean, this is Orwellian stuff. The United States doesn't do that.
Rodriguez: Well we do.

French will resist reform till things get worse

"How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?" General Charles de Gaulle famously asked.
His distant successor as president of France, who will be elected on Sunday for five years, faces the same puzzle of how to reform a perennially rebellious nation to meet the economic challenges of the 21st century.
Conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy set out with great energy in 2007 to shake things up but ran out of steam after loosening the 35-hour work week and raising the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 in the face of massive resistance.
His most recent move has been to reduce labor costs by cutting social insurance charges on payrolls and raising value-added tax on goods and services instead.
Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, hot favorite to sweep Sarkozy from office in Sunday's decisive runoff, says he will reverse that switch and sounds disinclined to even try the structural economic reforms advocated by many economists and the European Union.
"Does anyone really believe that liberalism, privatization, deregulation which led us to where we are today in the financial crisis will help us get out of this crisis?" Hollande said last week when asked whether he would emulate measures being taken in Spain and Italy.

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Obama’s rescue of Chrysler and General Motors unpopular with voters, creditors, and GM management

President Barack Obama has made the auto bailout a centerpiece of his reelection campaign, using it to bash Republican nominee Mitt Romney. But the tactic may backfire as the general election heats up, public opinion surveys suggest.
Recent polling from Rasmussen indicates that 59 percent view the bailouts as a “failure” and only 44 percent think the bailouts were “good for America.”
The administration has already written off $7 billion in taxpayer losses in the American takeover of Chrysler and General Motors; those losses are expected to climb as high as $23 billion—27 percent of the $85 billion spent on the bailout.
While the bailout is widely credited with saving the two companies, increasing taxpayer losses have made it nearly as unpopular in 2012 as it was when Obama was elected. More than half of Americans still disapprove of the auto bailout compared with 61 percent in 2008.
That has not stopped Obama from using the bailout as a bludgeon against Romney, who backed bankruptcy measures, in a number of campaign speeches.
“We could have just kicked the problem down the road. The other option was to do absolutely nothing and let these companies fail,” Obama told the United Automobile Workers union in February. “And you will recall there were some politicians who said we should do that. Some even said we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’”

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Lessons from the Fall of Saigon

The 37th anniversary of the fall of Saigon today is a good time to review the utility of American security promises -- including those purchased with American blood -- to countries fighting ideologically based insurgencies.
There were 540,000 Americans in Vietnam at the peak of the U.S. part of the war in January 1969.  Precisely four years later, in January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords were signed, and the U.S. promised continuing support to South Vietnam, where nearly 2.6 million Americans had served and more than 58,000 had died.  Eight months later, Congress voted to halt all combat operations, and by December, only 50 American military personnel were left in the South.  President Nixon resigned in July 1974, and two weeks later Congress reduced aid to South Vietnam by one third.  In late December, the North attacked positions in the South.  In January 1975, the cross-border invasion began.  The North Vietnamese military expected the war to take two years.  On 21 January, President Ford told a press conference the U.S. was unwilling to re-enter the war.  Three months and nine days later, Saigon fell.
Phuoc Long in January; An Loc, Ban Me Thuot, Quang Tri, Tam Ky, Hue, Chu Lai, and Danang in March; Qui Nhon, Tuy Hoa and Nha Trang on April 1; Xuan Loc held out almost two weeks; Saigon was encircled on the 27th, and three days later, the war was over.  For the South Vietnamese, there was much more horror to come as they fell into the clutches of people who despised their beliefs and their way of life -- into the clutches of violent ideological communists.  An estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges, 165,000 died in "re-education camps," and 2 million impoverished and miserable people fled the country.

Spain in recession as austerity bites

Spain's economy slipped into recession in the first quarter as domestic demand shrank, data showed on Monday, with deep government spending cuts in an uphill battle to trim the public deficit likely to delay any return to growth.
Gross domestic product shrank 0.3 percent in January-March from the previous quarter according to preliminary National Statistics Institute data, unchanged from October-December and compared to a Reuters poll expecting a 0.4 percent contraction.
Madrid is under intense pressure from its European peers to streamline the euro zone's fourth largest economy, reduce a massive public deficit and fix a banking system battered by a four-year economic slump and a burst property bubble.
On an annual basis the economy contracted by 0.4 percent compared with growth of 0.3 percent in the previous quarter, the data showed. Economists polled by Reuters, as well as the Bank of Spain, had forecast a slippage of 0.5 percent.
"Spain's still very much recession and we think that this isn't going to improve soon. It's likely they'll have to create more fiscal tightening in order to catch up if they wish to avoid going in to plan, and that's going to be counterproductive," economist at Citi Guillaume Menuet said.
The Spanish government's updated economic stability plan, published on Friday before sending it to the European Commission, saw an estimated contraction of 1.7 percent in 2012 turning to 0.2 percent growth by next year.

About Getting What You Want In Life

Benjamin Franklin was a man of action. Over his lifetime, his curiosity and passion fueled a diverse range of interests. He was a writer (often using a pseudonym), publisher, diplomat, inventor and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

His inventions included the lightning rod, bifocals and the Franklin stove. Franklin was responsible for establishing the first public library, organizing fire fighters in Philadelphia, was one of the early supporters of mutual insurance and crossed the Atlantic eight times. Self-development was a constant endeavor throughout his incredible life.

Benjamin Franklin was clearly a man who knew how to get things done.

Here are 14 action-inducing lessons from him: 
    • Less Talk, More Action

      “Well done is better than well said.”
      Talk is cheap. Talking about a project won't get it completed. We all know people who constantly talk about the things they are going to do but rarely ever take that first step. Eventually people begin to question their credibility. Taking action and seeing the task through to completion is the only way to get the job done.
    • Don’t Procrastinate

      “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.”
      This is probably one of the first quotes I remember hearing as a teenager. With an impressive list of achievements to his credit, Benjamin Franklin was not a man hung up on procrastination. He was a man with clear measurable goals who worked hard to turn his vision into reality. What are you putting off till tomorrow that could make a difference in your life today?
    • Be Prepared

      “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
      You need a plan to accomplish your goals. Charging in without giving any thought to the end result and how to achieve it, is a sure way to fall flat on your face. Think like a boy scout. Have a realistic plan of attack and a systematic approach for getting where you need to be.

Solyndra Was Not The Only Failure

As we get into the campaign season (has Obama ever left it?) some recollections of what President Barack Hussein Obama said and has done (courtesy of Peter Schweizer and Ashe Schow) are both humorous and instructive. Humorous because you have to laugh at what Obama has said and done to keep from crying.  Instructive because this is what we can expect from Obama (and more) if he gets reelected.
Peter Schweizer, in his book Throw Them All Out, told us that Obama said that taxpayer money would not be doled out to political friends.  "Decisions about how Recovery Act dollars are spent will be based on the merit," Obama said, referring to the 2009 stimulus.  "Let me repeat that: decisions about how recovery money will be spent will be based on the merits.  They will not be made as a way of doing favors for lobbyists." 
I guess the word "lobbyists" provides him with an "out" since none of the CEOs of the green energy companies he backed are registered as lobbyists.  Just like the last Democrat president this country had, every word uttered must carefully be parsed.  But then, I don't know the meaning of the word "is."
Anyway, Obama was emphatic about how recovery money was to be spent.  But... as Schweizer says, the 1705 Loan Guarantee Program and the 1603 Grant Program funneled billions of dollars to alternative-fuel and green-power companies.  The loan guarantees and grants were earmarked for green energy projects, so it is not surprising to learn that these companies were run by liberals.  And guess what!  Eighty percent of the Department of Energy's (DOE) green loans, loan guarantees, and grants went to Obama backers. As Gomer Pyle used to say, "Surprise, surprise, surprise."

Ron Paul claims victory in Louisiana

Texas Rep. Ron Paul claimed another come-from-behind caucus victory this weekend, announcing that approximately 74 percent of the delegates to Louisiana’s state GOP convention will be Paul supporters.
Louisiana has a unique system of selecting delegates to the Republican National Convention. Twenty delegates are selected based on the results of the state’s March 24 primary and another 26 delegates are based on the outcome of the state’s caucus process.
“Preliminary results from the Louisiana Republican Party indicate that Ron Paul supporters won majorities in Congressional Districts 1, 2, 5, and 6, with a narrow decision having occurred in District 4,” said a Sunday press release from the Paul campaign. “This means Ron Paul supporters won about four and a half of the six Congressional District caucus conventions held yesterday.
“Taken together, victories across four and half CDs mean that Ron Paul supporters are likely to control the outcome of the state convention in June,” said the Paul campaign. “To be sure, a win on this scale gives Ron Paul supporters a majority of yesterday’s elected delegates and the ability to choose most of the at-large delegates, as well as the three National Delegates from CDs 1, 2, 5, and 6.”
Rick Santorum dominated the Louisiana primary with 49 percent of the vote to runner-up Mitt Romney’s 27 percent. Paul fared poorly — receiving six percent of the primary vote, behind Newt Gingrich’s 16 percent.
The Paul campaign has long touted its ability to garner delegates via caucuses. Supporters of the libertarian candidate are renowned for their enthusiasm and dedication, qualities that are essential in low-turnout caucuses. (RELATED: More on Ron Paul)

Unbelievable Headline From 1935 Confirms That Nothing Ever Changes In The World

"Skilled Workmen In Demand Despite Vast Unemployment"
That was the headline of a Washington Post article (March 13, 1935, p 22). The subhead was, "technological progress has been so rapid during the depression that welders and other experts, idle since 1929, are outmoded." The first paragraph told readers:
"unemployment may run into the millions, but as the iron, steel, and metal-working industries improve, a scarcity of skilled workmen is developing, states the magazine Steel this week."
This shows that technology might change rapidly, but economic reporting at the Washington Post doesn't. Many of the stories it has written in the last two years about shortages of skilled workers in the midst of mass unemployment could have been plagiarized from this 1935 piece.
It is also striking that this piece, like much current economic reporting, relies exclusive on business sources. The article does not make any reference to any independent experts and of course, no one from a union or any workers' organization.

'Victims' of Nutella chocolate spread (and their lawyers) win $3 million class-action suit

Americans with fat behinds, low IQs, and a hankering for Nutella chocolate spread have won a great moral and legal victory courtesy of the beneficent nanny state and vigilant law firms.
A $3 million class-action lawsuit has been
settled against Italian maker of Nutella -- all for having "implied" in its advertising that the chocolate spread is healthier than it really is.
One of Nutella's allegedly duplicitous television commercials, below, shows a pretty soccer mom serving her kids Nutella for breakfast. What must TV viewers of a certain ideological percussion have thought of this commercial? Probably something like: Isn't it disgusting how capitalistic pigs like Nutella sell their unhealthy products to America's unsuspecting moms and their kids?
The main issue in the suit, according to the class-action claim's website, is that "Defendant Ferrero made representations through its marketing and advertising of Nutella brand hazelnut spread, improperly suggesting that Nutella is healthier than it actually is. Ferrero denies the allegations and stands by its products and  advertising."
The origins of the suit (one for California, the other the rest of the country) started with an epiphany that plaintiff Athena Hohenberg of San Diego experienced last year. The mother of a 4-year-old said she was "shocked" to learn Nutella chocolate spread was in fact loaded with calories and sugar, even though its advertising noted that it contained some wholesome products -- hazelnuts, skim milk and such. It's unclear how this epiphany occurred. Could it be that Hohenberg finally bothered to look on the ingredients that Nutella always had on the back of its labels?

FCC votes to make broadcasters’ political ad info available online

The Federal Communications Commission voted Friday to require broadcasters to make information about political ad buying available online to the public.
The 2-1 vote is a change to a 2007 opinion of the commission, which exempted the political information in the broadcasters’ public files from being disclosed online. In 2002, Congress first mandated that the FCC make the political files of broadcasters available for public inspection, which made the information available to the public in file cabinets.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski contended that the rule change to make broadcasters post the information online —- initiated by a petition from Media Access Project, the now-defunct progressive media advocacy organization and long-time player in the world of Washington media and tech policy — was a “common sense” move in the direction of transparency.
“The question in front of us is whether, in the 21st Century, ‘available for public inspection’ means stuck in office filing cabinets, or available online,” said Genachowski in his written statement on the vote.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn — who voted with the majority  — maintained that “the ability to use” the data was sufficient reason to make the files available online.
“The point isn’t so much what the use of the information from an online public file will be, but simply the ability to use it,” said Clyburn in her written statement on the ruling.
“The relevant governing statute uses the words ‘convenience’ and ‘necessity’ in discussing the public interest aspects of renewals of broadcast licenses, and our actions via this rulemaking speak to such principles,” she said. (RELATED: More on the FCC)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Government Can't Really Stimulate the Economy

The money sluices are about to open wide on Capitol Hill. With a new Congress convened and a new president about to take office, we are likely to see record-shattering government expenditures. All inhibitions about deficit spending, as weak as they have been in recent years, are now dissolved. The motto among those in control is: Spend now!
Why? To “stimulate the economy.” Well, that’s a lousy reason. The economy doesn’t need stimulation. It needs freedom. More precisely, we need freedom — to pursue our ends through production and trade unmolested by know-nothing politicians in Washington and the 50 state capitals. Bureaucratic spending on infrastructure, food stamps, unemployment benefits, R&D, or whatever else the political (parasitic) class has in mind is precisely the opposite of what is needed.
Any statement about the economy that contains a mechanical metaphor is more than likely wrong. We’re told government must “jump start” the economy. How can it? Think about what happens when a car is jump started. Cables connected to a charged battery convey juice to a dead battery. Energy is injected into the broken-down car from outside.
Politicians and court economists want us think this is analogous to government’s jump starting the economy. But it cannot be. Since the government has no money lying around waiting to be spent, it will have to borrow close to a trillion dollars to carry out the program President-elect Obama and the congressional leadership are planning. But borrowing money for their pet projects injects nothing into the economy. It merely moves money from where it currently is in the economy to where politicians want it to be. How is that a stimulus?

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Debt crisis: as it happened, April 26, 2012

A majority of politicians in the Netherlands came to an agreement on a new budget proposal for 2013 which adheres to the strict limits of the eurozone treaty, following the collapse of the government this week.
• Dutch politicians agree 2013 budget after govt collapse • Ireland (Xetra: A0Q8L3 - news) to return to bond market this summer, says finmin • UK was right to pledge extra £10bn to IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE - news) , says TSC chairman • UK double-dip recession to drag on into summer • Brussels to relax 3pc fiscal targets as revolt spreads
= Latest =
21.10 That's it from us for tonight, we'll be back in the morning with more live coverage of the debt crisis.
21.05 US markets have closed the day higher:
The Dow Jones rose 0.9pc to 13,204.62 points, while the S&P 500 (SNP: ^GSPC - news) closed up 0.7pc at 1,399.98.
20.50 Proving that time is a great healer, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Frankfurt: A0DKRK - news) has successfully sold on some of the toxic mortgage securities it assumed from AIG when the insurance giant had to be bailed out by US taxpayers at the height of the financial crisis back in 2008.

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Free Speech at America's colleges and universities

 Freedom of speech is a fundamental American freedom, and nowhere should it be more valued and protected than at America's colleges and universities. The "marketplace of ideas" upon which a university depends for its intellectual vitality cannot flourish when students or faculty members must fear punishment for expressing views that might be unpopular with the public at large or disfavored by university administrators. Yet this freedom is under continuous assault at many of America's campuses. Speech codes dictating what may or may not be said, "free speech zones" confining free speech to certain areas of campus, and administrative attempts to punish or repress speech on a case-by-case basis are common today in academia. FIRE's public cases dealing with freedom of speech, listed below, demonstrate our commitment to restoring and preserving this basic freedom on our nation's campuses. The future of a generation of students—and of liberal education itself—depends on our success.


Top Cases

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Global U.S. Troop Deployment, 1950-2003

The proposed global redeployment of U.S. troops coupled with the open question of how long U.S. forces will stay in Iraq highlight the need for objective data on force deployments, objectives, and results. Surprisingly, no comprehensive time series data on U.S. troop deployments by year and country seem to exist in a single dataset. This report remedies that need by introducing a comprehensive troop deployment dataset for 1950–2003.[1] The Troops dataset is available here:
  • On average, 22 percent of all U.S. servicemen were stationed on foreign soil during 1950–2000.In 2003, 27 percent were deployed, which is roughly the average of the 1950s. The low point in percentage terms was 13.7 percent in 1995, while the high points were 31 percent in 1951 (approximated) and 1968.
  • There were a total of 118.8 million billets during 1950–2000.There have been an average of 2.33 million military personnel on active duty per year from 1950–2000. That is, during those 51 years, there were 118.82 million billets (with "billet" defined as one serviceman for one year). Of that total, 27.3 million billets were overseas assignments.
  • In 2003, 387,920 troops were stationed on foreign soil.This figure is out of a total of 1,434,377 personnel. Deployments have ranged from a high of 1,082,777 troops in 1968 to a low of 206,002 in 1999.
  • Since 1950, 54 countries have hosted at least 1,000 American troops.Troop deployments are widespread every year. During the past 50 years, 54 different countries have hosted 1,000 or more U.S. troops at one point. During the typical year, 20 countries hosted 1,000 (or more) U.S. soldiers. An additional 11.8 countries hosted 100 to 999 American troops. During the 1990s, troops were concentrated in fewer countries. In 2003, 14 countries hosted 1,000 or more American troops, the same number of countries as in 2000.
  • Foreign deployments have been concentrated in Europe and Asia.The number of U.S. troops in Europe and Asia dwarfs the scant troops stationed in the other three regions: Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas (excluding the United States). During the second half of the 20th century, 52 percent of deployed troops were in Europe and 41 percent in Asia. More than one-third of troop deployments during 1950–2000 were to Germany alone, which hosted over 10,000,000 U.S. military personnel.
    Read more:

    US Troops Abroad:

    Afghanistan           102,000
    Germany                  53,526
    Japan                        36,708
    South Korea             31,839
    Data from DOD