Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fwd: Taper


'Fed Pares Bond Buying by $10 Billion per month

 

After months of intense discussion at the Fed and in financial markets, the Fed's policy-making committee said in a statement Wednesday that, beginning in January, it would trim its purchases of long-term Treasury bonds to $40 billion per month from $45 billion, and cut its purchases of mortgage-backed securities to $35 billion per month from $40 billion. However, the pace of bond purchases is "not on a preset course," the Fed's statement said.'

 

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304866904579266432764849504

 


FW: Marriage

From: Daniel

 

Hay,

 

Rush Limbaugh just said what I have been saying for a few years.

 

“Sooner or later someone will want to marry their pet”.

 

Can I be first, please….

 

Regards,

 

Dan H.

 

 

 

There is a type of argument called reductio ad absurdum, which tries to argue that something is false by taking it to the absurd level.  In my view this does not invalidate the original argument, but only serves to show that going to the extreme might be a bad thing.

 

People by their nature have desires.  What people desire varies from person to person.   It is in the nature of human beings to be different and want different things.   Wanting different things does not define a person or make them good or bad.   

 

Now we know that some people wish to marry people of the same sex.  Provided that this does not harm anyone else, for the government to tell people that they can’t do this is a form of oppression.  You could argue that this would somehow have a negative impact on society, but the only way that this might possibly be true is if you consider homosexuality to be immoral, which I do not.  Gambling, drinking and smoking have a negative impact on society, but we tolerate these things and regulate them because people are going to do them anyway and they are not bad in every situation. 

Best wishes,

John Coffey

 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Three Stooges Theory of Fiscal Policy - NYTimes.com

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/krugman/2013/12/06/the-three-stooges-theory-of-fiscal-policy/?_r=0

Fwd: Iran


'Not too many years ago, hardly anyone disagreed with John McCain when he first said that "the only thing worse than bombing Iran is letting Iran get the bomb." Today hardly anyone disagrees with those who say that the only thing worse than letting Iran get the bomb is bombing Iran. And in this reversal hangs a tale.

 

The old consensus was shaped by three considerations, all of which seemed indisputable at the time…'

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303560204579246142096554348?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

 

Fwd: Russia


'Russia's largest government-owned news agency has warned defiantly of "a tightening of state control" over the country's media after Vladimir Putin announced plans to close it down and replace it with a new organisation headed by a controversial anti-Western television talk show host.

 

In a surprise decree published on the Kremlin's website on Monday, Mr Putin "liquidated" the RIA Novosti news agency and created a new organization called Rossia Segodnya , or Russia Today — in what many commentators see as a decision to eliminate one of the most balanced news outlets in the Kremlin's sprawling portfolio of news agencies, newspapers and television stations…

 

RIA Novosti began life under Josef Stalin in 1941 and has struggled to shake off a Soviet legacy of managerial inertia since the fall of the USSR, but has acquired a reputation as a relatively trustworthy and balanced source of news under Svetlana Mironyuk, the chief editor since 2004.

 

In contrast to state-owned Federal television channels, which are tightly controlled by the Kremlin and have a reputation for screening hatchet jobs on opposition figures, RIA Novosti appeared to have a licence to operate relatively freely under Ms Mironyuk's leadership, reporting controversial stories including the 2012 anti-Putin protests in Moscow, and more recently the pro-Europe protests in Ukraine, with little if any bias.'

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10505386/Vladimir-Putin-dissolves-Russias-RIA-Novosti.html

 

"I'm sure achieving Eurasian integration will only increase interest (in it) from our other neighbours, including from our Ukrainian partners," Mr Putin said. "I hope that all political sides can successfully reach an agreement in the interests of the Ukrainian people."

 

"Our integration project is based on equal rights and real economic interests," referring to a customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan which Mr Putin plans to develop into a political and trading bloc to be known as the Eurasian Union…

 

Without naming the United States, Mr Putin warned that the development of anti-missile shields and powerful long-range non-nuclear weapons could "reduce to nothing" existing nuclear arms control pacts and upset the post-Cold War strategic balance.

 

"Nobody should have any illusion about the possibility of gaining military superiority over Russia," he said. "We will never allow this to happen. Russia will respond to all these challenges, political and military."

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10513330/Vladimir-Putin-claims-Russia-is-moral-compass-of-the-world.html

Fwd: Budget

'Patty Murray and Paul Ryan have reached a budget deal that would add about $63 billion to discretionary spending, partially reversing the deficit-reduction scheme known as the "sequester." While the plan is a small step in the right direction, it does almost nothing to mitigate a decades-long decline in public investment and discretionary spending.'

 

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/12/12/the_murray-ryan_budget_deal_and_the_slow_death_of_public_investment_100790.html

 

 

'For most of this year, the brutal cuts to federal spending known as the sequester have wreaked havoc on important programs, cutting off hundreds of thousands from Head Start and low-income housing assistance, setting back scientific research and environmental protection, and costing more than a million jobs. Getting rid of the sequester for domestic programs was a high priority for Congressional Democrats, and they achieved much of what they wanted in a budget deal reached on Tuesday that in other important respects was disappointing.

 

The deal will cancel 61 percent of the sequester cuts for nondefense discretionary domestic programs this fiscal year, adding back $31.5 billion over the next two years to be divided among departments like transportation, education, and health and human services. That's a significant achievement, considering that many Republicans want those cuts to continue in perpetuity.

 

Paul Ryan, the House negotiator, ignored the Tea Party's insistence that the sequester was untouchable, agreeing to raise discretionary spending in 2014 by $77 billion above his own budget proposal. Patty Murray, the Senate negotiator, resisted Republican demands for new cuts to safety-net programs. As a result, money will soon start flowing to programs that have been starved all year.'

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/12/opinion/the-minimalist-budget-deal.html?hp&rref=opinion

 

 

'With the clock quickly winding down on the legislative year, Congress has cobbled together a budget deal, something they have failed to do since April 2009. The details have yet to be finalized, but many are praising it as a return to regular order, ending the budget brinksmanship that has dominated Washington for most of Harry Reid's tenure as Senate Majority Leader. Unfortunately, the budget deal breaches the spending caps created under sequestration-the only measure of fiscal discipline that has made it through Congress in recent years-in exchange for promises of budget cuts down the road…

 

Many in Congress claim the boost in discretionary spending is more effective fiscal policy than the arbitrary and damaging across-the-board reductions in spending mandated by sequestration. In reality, the budget deal abandons the only mechanism that has limited federal spending in the 113th Congress. In fact, sequestration provided an opportunity to address politically charged fiscal decisions on defense spending, giving cover to members of Congress who could point to sequestration as the reason for the cuts. Instead, the budget deal appears to be creating another round of short-term spending increases for some promise of spending cuts at some point in the future.

 

At the same time, it is difficult to identify economic harms created by sequestration. The latest jobs report was better than expected, with unemployment dropping to a five-year low of 7 percent. Growth in gross domestic product accelerated by 3.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013, and, according to the Federal Reserve, household net worth increased to $77.3 trillion in the third quarter-$1.9 trillion higher than at the end of the second quarter. While the economy clearly continues to struggle, things are moving in the right direction. Sequestration has little effect on the underlying economic fundamentals one way or the other, but it does have political implications for a Congress seeking to spend more money.'

 

http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2013/12/12/paul_ryan_gave_away_the_sequester_along_with_fiscal_discipline_100793.html

 

Fwd: Iran/Russia

'Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in a meeting in Tehran voiced the two countries' readiness to increase consultations and meetings to confer on international and regional issues…

 

Focusing on the roles played by Iran and Russia in the region and the world and Tehran-Moscow consultations and cooperation in regional and international scenes, he said that they include shared work in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, the Middle East, the Caspian Sea, and the nuclear field, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which are of great significance.'

 

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920921000697

 

Fwd: Spain


'Catalan leaders set date for vote on independence'

 

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/00f9a3a6-6341-11e3-a87d-00144feabdc0.html

 

 

Scottish independence vote

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-25155234

 

 

Fwd: budget

This coming from a man who believes that government spending is the path to prosperity ...

Fwd: Budget

'Today, the Democratic House leader's message for rank-and-file members grumbling that jobless benefits weren't included in the Paul Ryan-Patty Murray budget deal was blunt: "Embrace the suck."'

 

http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/12/21879716-pelosi-to-dems-on-budget-deal-embrace-the-suck

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Arab Spring: Three Years On

In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vendor in Tunisia, set himself ablaze in protest of his government. In the three years since that event much of the Arab world has experienced upheaval ranging from mass protests to toppled governments. Though the western media has portrayed this uprising as a grass roots democratic response to the various totalitarian regimes, the facts do not, nor have they ever, supported that analysis. In many ways, there have been few real changes in governance, and in some cases the uprisings led to armed conflict with the involvement of different regional and extra-regional powers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

China

'The New York Times and Bloomberg irritated the Communist Party leadership by publishing, respectively, an in-depth reporting series on the alleged vast, $2.7 billion family wealth of the avuncular, "man of the people" ex-premier Wen Jiabao, and the alleged $376 million family fortune of the current chairman of the Communist Party — and self-declared foe of official corruption, Xi Jinping. 

 

The New York Times won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for its "striking exposure of corruption at high levels of the Chinese government, including billions in secret wealth owned by relatives of the prime minister, well documented work published in the face of heavy pressure from the Chinese officials."

 

Reporters at Bloomberg and the Times have been "mysteriously" stymied in their attempts to get visas to operate since these blockbuster reports were published. At least 24 journalists now face unceremonious expulsion from China, according to the New York Times, due to the recalcitrance and anger of Beijing over these reports.'

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/131205/china-expel-new-york-times-bloomberg-journalist

 

Israel


'But on Thursday, as the General Assembly convened to adopt no less than nine resolutions condemning Israel, it wasn't the Israeli envoy who voiced outrage – but an interpreter translating from Spanish to English.

 

At one point during the meeting the woman stopped her simultaneous translation of a representative's remarks to express indignation over the course the meeting had taken.

 

"I mean, I think when you have five statements, not five, like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there's gotta be something, c'est un peu trop, non? [It's a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There's other really bad shit happening [around the world], but no one says anything, about the other stuff," she said.

 

The resolutions, which were passed by a large margin, dealt with Israel's occupation of the West Bank, the Palestinian refugees , the Golan Heights and other issues. No resolutions concerning other global issues were adopted during the meeting.

 

A few seconds into her rant the interpreter realized that her remarks, evidently directed at a colleague, were heard by the diplomats in attendance'

 

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/.premium-1.558302

 

Romain Hatchuel: The Coming Global Wealth Tax - WSJ.com

http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304355104579232480552517224

Steven Levitt: The freakonomics of McDonalds vs. drugs

Check out this video on YouTube:

http://youtu.be/5UGC2nLnaes

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Burke, Paine, and the Politics of This Era

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/12/03/burke-paine-and-the-politics-of-this-era/

Health Insurance

'Bob Shlora of Alpharetta, Ga., was supposed to be a belated Obamacare success story. After weeks of trying, the 61-year-old told ABC News he fully enrolled in a new health insurance plan through the federal marketplace over the weekend, and received a Humana policy ID number to prove it.

 

But two days later, his insurer has no record of the transaction, Shlora said, even though his account on the government website indicates that he has a plan.

 

"I feel like this: My application was taken … by a bureaucrat, it was put on a conveyor belt and it's still going around, and it's never going to leave the building," he said. "I've lost hope. If it happens, great."

 

Obama administration officials acknowledged today that some of the roughly 126,000 Americans who completed the torturous online enrollment process in October and November might not be officially signed up with their selected issuer, even if the website has told them they are.

 

Technical problems surrounding the transfer of an applicant's personal information from the federal marketplace to the selected insurance company have plagued the system since its launch, making it difficult for insurers to finalize some enrollments. The 834 forms that issuers receive from the system have been riddled with errors, including often duplicate or incomplete information.

 

While the front-end of the website has been vastly improved, the back-end glitches remain a serious concern, IT experts and industry officials say.

 

"Until the enrollment process is working from end-to-end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage," said Karen Ignani, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans. "In addition to fixing the technical problems with healthcare.gov, the significant 'backend' issues must also be resolved to ensure that coverage can begin on Jan. 1, 2014."

 

Meanwhile for consumers, it's all turning out to be a giant headache. Shlora, who currently pays $2,800 a month for health care, told ABC News the "false braggadocio" coming from the White House is making it worse.

 

"The White House announced that they have met their goal," he said of the much-touted improvements to the website. "They are taking applications but they aren't going anywhere. What kind of goal is that?"'

 

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/12/new-obamacare-headache-is-your-enrollment-real/

 

 

 

Fwd: Budget


'U.S. budget negotiators are near a deal to ease automatic spending cuts that congressional aides say could boost user fees rather than end corporate tax breaks.

 

Negotiators are "down to the last few items," said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of a 29-member committee aiming to reach an agreement by Dec. 13 that sets federal spending levels for this year and next. Both parties are "careful to say they don't have a deal," Cole said.

 

"It's not the grand bargain but it's a workable deal," Cole said today after a meeting of Republicans who control the House. "In this environment, that's something to be proud of."

 

Cole said the deal would probably cap spending at about $1 trillion, instead of $967 billion, through mandatory spending cuts known as sequestration and endorsed by House Republicans. Democrats set a $1.058 trillion cap in their plan.

 

Lawmakers from both parties doubt the possible budget deal would have the votes to pass Congress. Democrats have insisted that Republicans agree to end at least some corporate tax breaks to reach a deal while Republicans probably will balk at a spending levels than exceeds a 2011 budget compromise.'

 

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-03/budget-negotiators-seen-near-to-deal-to-ease-u-s-cuts.html

 

We need to keep the sequester at its planned levels. If we open it to negotiation, the planned cuts will end.

We need to be asking for more cuts, to increase the debt ceiling.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Boobs for Obama

Fwd: Ukraine/Thailand/Lebanon



'Protests continued into the night Monday in Kiev as opposition leaders urged the swelling crowds to stand together and call for the resignation of President Victor Yanukovich.

 

Angry about the government's U-turn away from integration with Europe, Ukraine is seeing its biggest demonstrations since the Orange Revolution nine years ago.

 

On Monday protesters took over some government offices and -- braving cold weather while waving flags and chanting against the government -- converged on Kiev's Independence Square and surrounding streets, setting up tents and blocking traffic, in response to an opposition call for a nationwide strike over Yanukovich's switch toward Russia.'

 

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/02/world/europe/ukraine-protests/

 

 

'A Thai government supporter was shot and killed early on Sunday at protests in Bangkok, raising the death toll to two as protesters invaded a police compound and forced the evacuation of the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, to a secret location.

 

Some reports said anti-government demonstrators had seized control of the broadcaster Thai PBS.

 

Police backed up by the military were attempting to protect government buildings amid the deadly street clashes between supporters and opponents of Yingluck and her billionaire brother, the ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

 

Anti-government protesters on Sunday broke into the compound of a police sports club where the prime minister had been during the morning but she was able to leave the premises and went to an undisclosed location, an aide said.

 

In another area of the city police fired teargas at protesters near Government House, where Yingluck's office is located, a Reuters witness said.'

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/01/thailand-protest-yingluck-shinawatra-violence

 

 

'Lebanon decided Monday to put the northern city of Tripoli under the command of the military for a period of six months in a bid to end repeated clashes there linked to the war raging in Syria.

 

The measure, last employed during Lebanon's 1975-90 Civil War period, came as security forces deployed in the restive city where 12 people have been killed and more than 100 people wounded in three days of clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

 

"We decided to commission the Lebanese Army to take all necessary measures to maintain security in Tripoli for six months and place the military forces as well as police under its command," caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati told reporters after a high-level security meeting at Baabda Palace, adding that the decision was in line with Article 4 of the Defense Law.

 

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2013/Dec-02/239657-lebanon-pm-declares-tripoli-military-zone-for-6-month-period.ashx#axzz2mMLD9XBb

 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fwd: Unthinkable


'President Obama's signature domestic policy may have accomplished something previously unthinkable: taking an issue where one party had a dominant hold on public opinion, and reversing it in favor of the opposing party.

 

If the latest poll numbers and enrollment figures are to be believed, we could be witnessing a political achievement unequaled in modern political history: the complete demolition of one party's long-term dominance on an issue area – the Democrats' ownership of the health care issue – in the space of a few months. Quinnipiac finds that young people trust Republicans in Congress more on health policy than the president; that a plurality of Hispanics, long the most pro-Obamacare faction, are now opposed to the law; and that overwhelming majorities (70+ percent) of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are in favor of delaying the law.'

 

http://thefederalist.com/2013/11/13/obamacare-accomplishes-unthinkable/

 

Fwd: Nuclear option

'"The nuclear option abandons America's sense of fair play . . . tilting the playing field on the side of those who control and own the field. I say to my friends on the Republican side: You may own the field right now, but you won't own it forever. I pray God when the Democrats take back control, we don't make the kind of naked power grab you are doing."' Senator Biden, 2005.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-poised-to-limit-filibusters-in-party-line-vote-that-would-alter-centuries-of-precedent/2013/11/21/d065cfe8-52b6-11e3-9fe0-fd2ca728e67c_story.html

 

Fwd: Afghanistan


'Rice arrived in Afghanistan under a cloak of secrecy Saturday, and the White House did not confirm she was here until after she was meeting with Karzai on Monday evening, along with other top officials from both Washington and Kabul, and Karzai's senior aides.

 

The meeting lasted several hours, and it continued into what Aimal Faizi, Karzai's spokesman, who was there, described as a working dinner. And while the tone was said to be generally diplomatic and polite, the president at one point became angry at U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham.

 

Cunningham voiced objection to an extra demand by the loya jirga: the release of all Guantánamo inmates. He insisted that U.S. law governs the release of the prisoners and that the issue had no bearing on the bilateral security agreement, or BSA.

 

"That made the president very angry; his reaction was very strong and intense," Faizi said..

 

 

For her part, Rice warned Karzai that his refusal to sign the agreement would jeopardize Western aid to Afghanistan, including an annual $4-billion to support its military, which is entirely dependent on U.S. aid.

 

"The lack of a signed BSA would jeopardize NATO and other nations' pledges of assistance," she told Karzai.

 

She added that the United States would "continue to work with Afghanistan to support a smooth security transition and to help ensure free and fair elections."

 

Karzai's strongest language was again said to be over the issue of U.S. counterterrorism raids on private Afghan homes. Despite having approved in principle a security agreement that allowed for such missions, with limits, in his address to the loya jirga Sunday, he insisted the raids should be banned immediately and completely or he would cancel the security agreement.

 

Such raids are the main combat activity remaining to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and have been identified by U.S. commanders as a crucial, continuing mission.

 

"The president insisted on the stance: a total ban on home raids since yesterday," Faizi said. "He assured Madame Rice they will get the BSA signed – you will get a BSA signed, but give the Afghan people time to see that the U.S. has changed its behavior, that home raids are banned in practical terms."

 

He said Rice deferred that issue to the U.S. military commander, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who assured that he had given instructions to his forces to "take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties and that the commanders will be acting in accordance to the recommendations of the loya jirga and what is said in the BSA,"'

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/afghan-president-handed-ultimatum-after-making-last-minute-demands-on-us-security-agreement/article15600584/

 

President Signs HOPE Act, Clearing the Way for HIV Positive Organ Donation Read more: President Obama Signs HOPE Act into Law, Lifting HIV Organ Ban