Monday, June 14, 2010

Lithium in Afghanistan - How will that change the world?

Is Lithium the Answer to Afghanistan’s Problems?

Time — Remote (and volatile) regions of the war-torn country may hold as much as $1 trillion in lithium and other minerals, according to a report in today’s New York Times.

The the deposits are so vast that a Pentagon memo says Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” the Times reports. Lithium is used frequently in battery production and in some medical applications. Read more:
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Why Afghanistan's Lithium Discovery Excites Silicon Valley

CBS News — After all that it's suffered through since the late 1970s, Afghanistan could use a break. That's why this surprisingly hopeful discovery of vast mineral deposits could be one of the most important events in that country's history. Among the potential riches - and the one likely to excite the technology industry's interest - lithium.

The New York Times quotes a Pentagon memo suggesting Afghanistan could one day become "the Saudi Arabia of lithium."
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Afghanistan to become “Saudi Arabia of Lithium”

PC Advisor UK — A massive $1 trillion deposit of untapped minerals discovered in Afghanistan includes huge amounts of lithium, which is used in batteries for laptops and mobile phones such as the iPhone and BlackBerry.

A report in the New York Times states that American geologists working with the Pentagon have conducted ground surveys on dry salt lakes, looking for large deposits of lithium.
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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Is Saudi Arabia working with Israel to attack Iran?

Ahmadinejad: Israel, U.S. trying to sabotage Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia

Haaretz — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday charged Israel and the United States of trying to sabotage relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a day after Riyadh denied a report in the Times claiming it had agreed to allow Israel to use its airspace to attack Iran.

"Undoubtedly, the U.S. and the Zionist regime are the enemies of Iran and Saudi Arabia, so they are trying to create a gap between Tehran and Riyadh," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during a meeting with Saudi Arabia's new ambassador to Tehran.
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Saudis test clearing skies for Israel to bomb Iran: report

Agence France Presse — Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to allow Israeli warplanes to use its airspace in any bombing raid on Iran's nuclear facilities, The Times newspaper reported Saturday.

"The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way," a US defence source in the region told the paper.
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Saudis Upgrading Fighter Jets to Face Iranian Threat

Mid East Media Line — As it denies cooperating with preparations for a potential Israeli attack on Iran, Saudi Arabia prepares for strike of its own.

Saudi Arabia’s air force has signed a deal to upgrade its fleet of 150 strike aircraft and procure advanced weaponry to respond to an Iranian military threat while simultaneously denying reports that the country is coordinating with Israel over a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear sites.
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Toxic Oil Spill. Mysteries of the Deep. Corruption. Why is the Church getting invovled?

Parish official to Obama: Stop moratorium on drilling

CNN — A Gulf Coast official is pleading with President Barack Obama to scrap the moratorium on new oil drilling and exploration as the investigation of the massive oil spill continues, saying the economic impact to her Louisiana parish would be too much to bear.

Charlotte Randolph, president of LaFourche Parish, said she spoke to Obama in person during his visit to the oil-stricken region Friday.
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Slimy doings weren't all at the oil well

Washington Post — Sounds as if it may be time for a top kill at the Interior Department.

A mile below sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, BP was trying on Wednesday to jam mud and concrete into its leaking oil well -- the so-called "top kill" -- to choke off the flow. At the same time, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were puzzling over how to contain the flow of corruption that has been oozing in recent years from the Interior Department -- specifically its Minerals Management Service, which is supposed to regulate oil drilling but instead seems to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil industry.
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In oil spill saga, mysteries of the deep persist

Associated Press — The impatient nation isn't getting answers fast enough in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

What exactly went wrong? Who messed up? How much oil is pouring into the Gulf? Can the oil get to Florida and even up the Atlantic coast? What will the environmental and economic consequences be? Will the chemicals used to disperse the oil leave their own destructive legacy?
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Does Britain Want The Euro To Fail?

The death of the euro? Britain's hubristic leaders have only themselves to blame, argues Britain's former ambassador in Bonn

Daily Mail — The European Union is enduring its worst crisis since its inception almost 60 years ago. The problem is the eurozone and whether it can continue in its present form - or at all.

Although only 16 out of 27 member-states of the EU have replaced their old currencies with the euro, monetary union lies at the heart of the European project. Only yesterday, Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told her parliament that 'if the euro fails, then Europe too will fail'.
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Don't expect Britain to back a new EU treaty, Cameron tells Merkel

The Independent — David Cameron flatly ruled out the idea of Britain agreeing to any changes to the European Union's Lisbon Treaty that might involve ceding powers from Westminster to Brussels yesterday, during his first visit to Germany as Prime Minister.

His two hours of talks in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel followed a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, and Mr Cameron was able afterwards to live up to his reputation in Germany as a staunch Eurosceptic by delivering a robust defence of Conservative Party policy on Europe.
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Britain Won't hand any more powers to Europe.

The Sun — DAVID Cameron yesterday insisted Britain will NOT hand any more powers to Brussels.

In a visit to Berlin, the PM said any transfer of sovereignty was "not likely to happen" in the foreseeable future.

He assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel the UK would play a constructive role in Europe. But he also threatened to use Britain's veto to block EU plans in the future.
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kagan' views

How Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court could affect baseball

USA Today — Baseball's 2003 drug-testing program was meant to be an anonymous survey to determine the prevalence of performance-enhancing drug use in the game. But we now know the results were far from anonymous -- federal agents seized the samples before the union destroyed them and in the past 15 months, superstars Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were outed as testing positive in the survey.

Now, the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court may impact the fate of those samples.
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Sessions: Kagan Won't Shift Court on Abortion

CBS News — The leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said this morning that it was important to examine whether, if confirmed, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan would say no to the Obama administration.

"I think the Congress and the Senate needs to examine her record carefully," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said on CBS' "The Early Show." "This is not a coronation. She'll be subjected to scrutiny. We need to know whether or not [if] she obtains that robe and sits on that bench, will she be an objective person? Will she say 'no' even to the Obama administration and some of their agenda items if they're unconstitutional? She's got to demonstrate that or she shouldn't be given a lifetime appointment."
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Kagan's Legal Record Portrays a Cautious Liberal

FOX News — Elena Kagan's legal record is thinner than most other U.S. Supreme Court nominees. She hasn't served as a judge or taken sharp positions on many constitutional and other legal issues that often trip up potential justices.

As senators pick through her scholarly writings, speeches and decisions as dean of Harvard Law School, some themes are likely to emerge. Ms. Kagan generally takes liberal stands when she delves into social issues, but does so cautiously and with nuances that leave some liberals less than thrilled with her nomination.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Apple; Antitrust, 1984, Flash?

Apple Facing Possible Antitrust Inquiry

Information Week — Last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs explained why his company does not allow applications created with Adobe's Flash technology on its iPhone, iPod and iPad devices. Flash, he said, is proprietary, insecure, energy inefficient, and ill-suited for touch devices.

Most significantly, he argued that third-party tools such as Flash lead to sub-standard applications and prevent developers from implementing new iPhone OS SDK technologies until tool makers support those features.
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Apple's Behavior a Throwback to 1984, Adobe CTO Says

PC World - BusinessCenter — Apple's refusal to allow Flash on the iPhone hurts innovation and is "like 1984 in a lot of ways," Adobe Systems' CTO said on Wednesday, implying that Apple has become the "Big Brother" it rebelled against in its iconic TV ad from that year.

"The story is bigger than HTML versus Flash. It's about freedom of choice on the Web," CTO Kevin Lynch said at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco Wednesday, when he was asked to comment on "the elephant in the room" during an on-stage interview
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Microsoft agrees with Apple on Adobe Flash

KNDO/KNDU — In what may either be a hint that Adobe's Flash is in real trouble, or sign that the apocalypse is indeed coming, Apple and Microsoft actually agree on something.

On April 29th, Steve Jobs posted an open letter outlining in no uncertain terms why he thinks Adobe's Flash sucks. Jobs listed several reasons why the technology is not going to be included as part of Apple's mobile OSs, and he went on to sing the virtues of HTML5 as the future.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Will China Strengthen The Yuan? How will that change the world?

Goldman Says China Trade Deficit Won’t Last, Yuan Gain Likely

Business Week — China’s March trade deficit is temporary and the pressure for the yuan to gain remains intact, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“The weak exports in March were likely due to the Lunar New Year effects as exporters suspend production for an extended period after the holiday,” wrote Hong Kong-based analysts Song Yu and Helen Qiao in a report on April 10. “Given the strong underlying exports growth and rising overheating pressures, we believe a modest yuan revaluation is still on the agenda.”
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Yuan Rise Would Boost Asian, Commodity-Backed Currencies

Wall Street Journal — Any appreciation of the Chinese yuan should lift other Asian currencies along with it, while helping to diffuse the recently stressed tenor of Sino-U.S. relations.

Speculation is increasing that China will allow the yuan to strengthen, but the country's leaders aren't likely to make a huge adjustment for fear of shocking markets and derailing a nascent economic recovery. Assuming the government releases the yuan from its current tight range versus the dollar, analysts expect the Chinese currency to appreciate 1% to 3% against the dollar over the following 12 months.
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Stronger yuan may deal another blow to euro

Reuters — A loosening in China's yuan policy that lets the currency rise while keeping it pegged to the dollar may deal another blow to the battered euro as such a move is seen slowing China's accumulation of foreign reserves.

The euro has weakened about 7 percent versus the dollar and the yen this year on concerns Greece may face problems servicing its debts, and demand for euro assets will shrink further if a possible yuan move results in less euro buying by China.
click to read complete article

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poland's Top Government Officials Wiped Out In Russian Plane Crash

For Poland, plane crash in Russia rips open old wounds

Los Angeles Times — The plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski on Saturday gutted a nation's leadership and silenced some of the most potent human symbols of its tragic and tumultuous history.

It was, literally, a nation colliding with its past: The aircraft ran aground on a patch of earth that has symbolized the Soviet-era repressions that shaped much of the 20th century, near the remote Russian forest glade called Katyn where thousands of Polish prisoners of war were killed and dumped in unmarked graves by Soviet secret police in 1940.
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Plane Crash ‘A Second Katyn’ Massacre, Says Priest

The Epoch Times — Among the victims of Saturday’s plane crash that killed the Polish president, were many prominent members of the Polish clergy. The entire entourage was on its way to the Katyn forest in Western Russia to observe the 70-year anniversary of the mass execution of 20,000 elite Polish officers during World War II.

Father Jan Kaczmarczyk, a retired deacon and parson of parish in Sochaczew, about 30 miles outside of Warsaw, shares his reaction to the death of his close friends and colleagues.
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Air traffic control told Polish president's plane not to land - paper

RIA Novosti — Russian air traffic controllers advised the pilot of a plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski not to attempt to land, the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza said on Saturday.

All 96 people on board a Soviet-made Tu-154 were killed earlier on Saturday when the plane hit trees as it approached Smolensk airport in thick fog.

The paper said the pilot and Kaczynski were advised to turn around and head for Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus, as the Smolensk military aerodrome lacks the necessary navigational equipment to receive planes in heavy fog.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nuclear Treaty

Rudy Giuliani Calls Obama Nuclear Policy "Left-Wing Dream"

CBS News — Conservatives are lashing out against President Obama's new nuclear policy, claiming the revised strategy is, at best, an empty gesture, and at worst a threat to U.S. safety.

The new strategy eliminates some of the ambiguity in the nation's previous nuclear policy by asserting -- with large caveats -- that the United States will not use nuclear weapons to respond to a chemical, biological or cyber attack. The White House's nuclear initiatives are intended to encourage other nations to reduce and stop development of their nuclear stockpiles.
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In Eastern Europe, Pact With Russians Raises Old Specters

New York Times — As President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia and President Barack Obama prepare to arrive in Prague on Thursday to sign a landmark arms control treaty, Marcela Balounova, like many Czechs, remains haunted by her memories of 1968, when nearly one million Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia, ushering in a period of political repression.

“The Russians invaded us before and they are invading us again,” Ms. Balounova, 50, said from her art gallery in this picturesque spa town, where Peter the Great first came for a treatment in 1711 and which has since become so popular with Russians that most signs offering luxury products and services — from million-euro villas to colonic irrigation — are in Russian. “I still remember crying when the Russians came here. And now here we are more than 40 years later and this place has become a Little Moscow.”
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New US Nuclear Policy Focuses on Terrorists, Rogue States

Voice of America News — The United States on Tuesday announced a new nuclear weapons policy that gives top priority to fighting terrorism and proliferation, rather than deterring or responding to a nuclear attack by a foreign country. The policy promises not to use atomic weapons against non-nuclear states, but issues a stern warning for countries that ignore global non-proliferation rules. Initial reaction among experts and members of Congress has been mixed.

The policy document called the Nuclear Posture Review specifically says the United States will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the nation's security strategy. It lays out a plan to expand conventional capabilities, to rely on existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons for deterrence against nuclear powers like Russia and China, and to focus on preventing terrorists and rogue states from acquiring such weapons.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pressure is Building Against Iran

Israel to focus on key Iran nuclear targets in any strike

Reuters — Should Israel attack Iranian nuclear facilities, it would probably carry out precision strikes while making every effort not to hit the oil sector or other civilian sites.

Past Israeli operations, such as the 1981 bombing of Iraq's Osirak atomic reactor and a similar sortie against Syria in 2007, suggest a strategy of one-off pinpoint raids, due both to military limitations and a desire to avoid wider war.
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Clinton: China to be 'involved' in Iran sanctions push

Agence France Presse — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said China will play a role in international efforts to pen sanctions against Iran at the United Nations, and that Beijing recognizes the threat of Iran's nuclear program.

"I think as the weeks go forward and we begin the hard work of trying to come up with a Security Council resolution, China will be involved," Clinton said Monday in an interview with Canadian television.
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Russia still support diplomatic means to resolve Iran's issue

UNN India — President Dmitry Medvedev said on Russia still supported diplomacy to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program but sanctions should not be ruled . We are convinced that the path of sanctions is not optimal,Medvedev said in a message to the Arab League conference in Sirte Libya.

At the same time, such a scenario cannot be excluded," he added, Russia which, together with China, had been reluctant to endorse broader sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program, has softened its stance on punitive measures against the Islamic Republic in recent months.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

U.S. and Russia agree on Nuclear Arms Treaty

Russia claims breakthrough in historic nuclear reduction agreement with US

Guardian UK — Barack Obama's ambitious goal of freeing the world of nuclear weapons won a significant boost tonight when Russia indicated that it had reached agreement with the United States on a historic nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Kremlin officials said that a document to replace the 1991 Start treaty had been agreed with Washington. A signing ceremony between Obama and Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, is likely to take place early next month in the Czech capital Prague, they said.
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U.S. Senate to discuss arms treaty with Russia in April-May

RIA Novosti — The U.S. Senate plans to hold hearings on ratifying a new signed arms reduction deal with Russia in April-May, a leading U.S. senator has said.

A signed Russian-U.S. treaty has to be ratified by the two states' parliaments to go into effect.

"We intend to begin hearings between Easter [April 4] and Memorial Day [May 31] on the historical record of strategic arms control," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said in a statement.
click to read complete article
A START towards Undermining Our Nuclear Security

The Heritage Foundry — Yesterday the Kremlin announced that the Obama administration and Russia had reached agreement on a new nuclear arms agreement intended to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The declaration appeared to surprise the White House, as Press Secretary Robert Gibbs could only confirm that the two sides were “close” to a treaty. But U.S. officials confirm that “all major obstacles” in negotiations with Moscow have been cleared.

Russian approval of a new START agreement has been the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s “long road toward eliminating nuclear weapons” policy. President Obama’s desire to appease Russia is why he began negotiations by unilaterally surrendering to Kremlin demands that the United States betray our Czech Republic and Polish allies by going back on our promise to build ballistic missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe. Russians took President Obama’s easy and early capitulation on missile defense as a sign of naivete and weakness and concluded that the Obama administration was far more desperate for a new nuclear treaty than they were and, as The Los Angeles Times reports, “used that fact in negotiations.”
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

People with Healthcare account for 45% of personal bankruptcies

New Study: Bankruptcy Tied To Medical Bills

Washington Post — Sixty-two percent of all bankruptcies filed in 2007 were linked to medical expenses, according to a nationwide study released today by the American Journal of Medicine. That's nearly 20 percentage points higher than that pool of respondents reported were connected to medical costs in 2001.

Of those who filed for bankruptcy in 2007, nearly 80 percent had health insurance. Respondents who reported having insurance indicated average expenses of just under $18,000. Respondents who filed and lacked insurance had average medical bills of nearly $27,000.
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Health Care Without Bankruptcy, Please

Huffington Post — What kind of an America would we suddenly create if the President were to sign into law a health care bill with a mandate to buy private insurance? An America where millions would be covered, but bankrupt, broke, financially kaput. And unhealthy, too.


You guessed it. All the fever-pitched, media-amplified ranting about "death" that has dominated the health care debate has likely done little more than obscure the ultimate sticking point for many Americans: a bill that would mandate--require by law--all Americans to buy private health insurance.
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Health care related bankruptcy is on the rise, study says

Consumer Reports — Americans are increasingly at risk of financial ruin due to illness and medical expenses, according to a new study released yesterday by the American Journal of Medicine. The researchers found that illness or medical bills contributed to nearly two thirds, or 62 percent, of all bankruptcies in 2007—before the major impact of the housing collapse and current economic downturn. That’s a 50 percent increase over a similar survey in 2001 by the same researchers.

Most of the debtors are middle aged, middle class and have a college level education, and each of them has their own story. Take Donna, from Chicago (right) who told us her bankruptcy story during our Cover America Tour. Donna’s husband had already been diagnosed with a heart condition, and when she found out she had uterine cancer, their out-of-pocket costs shot up to $9,000 a year. When they fell behind on their bills, one of her doctors sued to garnish her wages, which forced her and her husband into bankruptcy. They ended up losing their house, she gave up her job at a newspaper, and they moved into their daughter’s basement until they could afford a small apartment.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

Retired U.S. General links Gays in Military to Massacre in Bosnia.

Retired general links gays in Dutch military to massacre

CNN — A retired U.S. general said Thursday that the Dutch policy of allowing openly gay soldiers to serve in its military led, in part, to its failure to halt the massacre of Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

Immediately afterward, the Dutch ambassador to the United States issued a sharp denial.
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Dutch fuming at retired US general's gay comment

The Washington Post — The Dutch prime minister Friday denounced as "irresponsible" a claim by a retired U.S. general that gay Dutch soldiers were partly to blame for allowing Europe's worst massacre since World War II.

Dutch officials, from the Cabinet to the military, were outraged by retired Gen. John Sheehan's remarks at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
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Netherlands to Gen. John Sheehan: You're Stupid, Stop Talking

Queerty — It's not like U.S. military forces are necessarily "scared" of the Dutch military, but former NATO Commander Gen. John Sheehan's comments at yesterday's Don't Ask Don't Tell hearings, where he blamed the Netherlands' military's supposed failure in Bosnia in 1995 on their allowance of openly gay soldiers, is a thing of ridiculousness so grand, even the Pentagon should be furious over Sheehan's remarks.

For now, though, it's the Dutch administration responding: Stop talking, you fool.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Health Insurance - Losing Coverage

Utahns paying a lot more for much less health insurance

Deseret News — Utahns are losing their workplace-based insurance at a faster rate than most Americans, and those who manage to keep it are paying a lot more and getting markedly less, a new state-by-state report released Wednesday shows.

Looking at data between 2000 and 2008 and slicing it 10 different ways, the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Barely Hanging On: Middle-Class and Uninsured" statistically verifies what most working Americans already know: Health care insurance premiums are eating away household and employer incomes, and it's only going to get worse.
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Middle-class Texans slammed by loss of health insurance

Texas Star-Telegram — The number of middle-class Texans without health insurance increased 41 percent between 2000 and 2008, with nearly 500,000 middle-class workers no longer covered through their job or private insurance, according to a study released today by the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Texans made up about 1 in 5 middle-class Americans who lost health insurance during that period, according to the study.
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About 1 in 4 in California lack health insurance, a UCLA study finds

Los Angeles Times — Nearly 1 in 4 Californians under age 65 had no health insurance last year, according to a new report, as soaring unemployment propelled vast numbers of once-covered workers into the ranks of the uninsured.

The state's uninsured population jumped to 8.2 million in 2009, up from 6.4 million in 2007, marking the highest number over the last decade, investigators from UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research said.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Child Sex Scandals - Is Celibacy Over?

German Catholics fume at pope's 'silence'

Sydney Morning Herald — German Catholic groups have hit out at the pope's silence over a snowballing paedophilia priest scandal rocking his native country's Church.

The scandal "affects people, whether they are religious or not," said Dirk Taenzler, head of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), in the Berliner Zeitung daily.

"The Holy Father should make a statement about this."
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Churches acted 'decisively' in child sex scandals: Vatican

Taiwan News — Vatican officials moved to stem the rising tide of anger as details emerged of separate paedophilia scandals involving Catholic priests in several European countries.

Spokesman Federico Lombardi defended the response of churches to paedophile priest scandals emerging in Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and elsewhere, saying Roman Catholic leaders had reacted swiftly and decisively.
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German bishops call for end to celibacy mandate

Deutche Welle — Few if any Catholic priests or bishops are likely to say their church's vow of celibacy for priests is a direct cause of child sexual abuse. Yet the most recent wave of abuse allegations across Germany and Europe has reignited an ongoing debate in the Church over whether priests should be allowed to marry.

Hamburg Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke told the daily newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt on Saturday that coexistence between celibate and married priests should be possible. He added that while he saw no direct connection between the large number of abuse cases and priest celibacy, "the celibate lifestyle can attract people who have an abnormal sexuality."
click to read complete article

Friday, March 12, 2010

Seeds, Food Prices, Monsanto, Anti-Trust, Seed Banks

Rising food prices may start with seeds

Los Angeles Times — For 40 years, farmer Todd Leake and his family have battled bitter cold, hungry pests and a short growing season to coax soybeans out of their fields in eastern North Dakota.

The one thing they never had to fight for, though, was their seeds.
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Monsanto’s Seed Patents May Trump Antitrust Claims, Lawyers Say

Business Week — Monsanto Co., facing antitrust probes into its genetically modified seeds, may benefit from previous court rulings in which intellectual property rights trumped competition concerns, antitrust lawyers say.

The Department of Justice and seven state attorneys general are investigating whether the world’s largest seed company is using gene licenses to keep competing technologies off the market. At issue is how the St. Louis-based company sells and licenses its patented trait that allows farmers to kill weeds with Roundup herbicide while leaving crops unharmed. The company’s Roundup Ready gene was in 93 percent of U.S. soybeans last year.
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Arctic Seed Vault largest in the world

Norway Post — Just days after celebrating its second anniversary, the Svalbard “Doomsday” Global Seed Vault has this week received thousands of new seeds that will push its collection to more than half a million unique samples.

This makes the Svalbard Seed Vault the most diverse assemblage of crop diversity ever amassed anywhere in the world, according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
click to read complete article

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Does Israel Want Peace?

Mishaps galore as Israel tries to welcome U.S. Vice President

Haaretz — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Jerusalem Tuesday was not free of embarrassing moments.

The first occurred at the President's Residence, at the start of a meeting between Biden and President Shimon Peres. The plan called for brief remarks, which usually means a few minutes. But Peres spoke for no less than 25 minutes.
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Israeli minister apologizes for bad timing of East Jerusalem expansion plan

Xinhua — Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai Wednesday apologized for the raging storm generated by his ministry's approval for 1,600 new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem, saying that he had no intention to embarrass visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

In an interview with local Israel Radio, Yishai said he was not informed beforehand of the decision, announced Tuesday night by the ministry's district committee, and that the matter was only a routine and technical procedure of the building plan which has been in the works for over three years.
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Biden holds Palestinian talks after condemning Israel

ABC News — The US vice-president Joe Biden is holding talks with Palestinian leaders, a day after condemning Israel's announcement of 1,600 new homes for Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem.

Israel's announcement coincided with Mr Biden's arrival and came days after Palestinians agreed to re-enter indirect peace talks with Israel.
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Biden, Israel, Palestine = Peace?

US reassures Israel over security

Aljazeera — Joe Biden, the US vice-president, and Benyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, have held talks over the percieved threat posed by Iran and on reviving the Middle East peace process.

After the meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Biden reassured Israel that the US stood alongside them in terms of security.
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Biden: US to prevent nuclear Iran

Jerusalem Post — US Vice President Joe Biden expressed America's "absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel' security" at a press conference in Jerusalem following a meeting with Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu Monday morning.

As such, Biden said, Washington was "determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and we are working with many countries around the world to convince Iran to meet its international obligations to cease and desist."
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Joe Biden: Israel and Palestine peace talks at 'moment of opportunity'

UK Telegraph — Mr Biden was meeting top Israeli officials today and throwing his weight behind a renewal of Middle East peace talks more than a year after negotiations shuddered to a halt.

He said: "I hope the beginning of what is referred to as indirect or proximity talks, I hope it is a vehicle, a vehicle by which we can begin to allay that layer of mistrust that has built up in the last several years," Biden said as he went into a meeting with President Shimon Peres. "I think we are at a moment of real opportunity and I think that the interests of the Israeli and Palestinian people, if everybody stops and takes a deep breath, are actually more in line than they are opposites," he said.
click to read complete article

Monday, March 8, 2010

D Representative Eric Massa Ousted!

Eric Massa: Democrats ousted me over health care

Politico — Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) says the House ethics committee is investigating him for inappropriate comments he made to a male staffer on New Year's Eve — and that he's the victim of a power play by Democratic leaders who want him out of Congress because he's a "no" vote on health care reform.

"Mine is now the deciding vote on the health care bill," Massa, who on Friday announced his intention to resign, said during a long monologue on radio station WKPQ. "And this administration and this House leadership have said, quote-unquote, they will stop at nothing to pass this health care bill. And now they've gotten rid of me, and it will pass. You connect the dots."
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Massa Details 'Salty' Comment That Led to Resignation, Slams Dem Leaders

Fox News — A "salty" comment made in the company of drunken staff members at a wedding reception on New Year's Eve was all the Democratic "forces that be" needed to push him out of the House of Representatives and prevent him from possibly casting the vote that would kill health care reform, says outgoing New York Rep. Eric Massa.

Massa, while acknowledging he made an "inappropriate" remark, defended himself Sunday against the firestorm of criticism he's endured since it was revealed last week that he was the subject of a House ethics probe. Speaking on his local radio show on WKPQ-FM, he accused House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of lying and the Democratic Party of pushing him out of Congress over sexual harassment allegations in order to pass health care reform.
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Massa Details Sexual Harassment Complaint

The Advocate — Congressman Eric Massa of New York took to the airwaves Sunday to explain charges that he sexually harassed a male staffer, which prompted his resignation from the House effective Monday afternoon.

The first-term Democrat announced Wednesday that he would not seek reelection because of health considerations, but afterward, news of the sexual harassment complaint broke. According to City Hall News, during his final weekly radio show Sunday morning, Massa claimed the sequence of events represented a conspiracy on behalf of Democratic leadership, which wanted to remove him before reconciliation votes on health care reform because he voted against the bill in November.
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Same-Sex Marriage in D.C.

Businesses cash in on D.C.’s gay marriages

Washington Business Journal — Throngs of same-sex couples streamed into the District of Columbia’s marriage bureau on Wednesday, eager to be among the first to claim marriage licenses under D.C.’s new same-sex marriage law.

They were besieged by dozens of reporters, a small clump of vocal opponents and a handful of D.C. businesses offering their support and discounts.
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High Court Denies Request to Block D.C. Gay Marriage

The Christian Post — Chief Justice John Roberts on Tuesday denied a last-minute request by traditional marriage supporters to stop Washington, D.C.'s same-sex marriage law from taking effect.

As a "matter of judicial policy," Roberts said in an opinion that it has been the practice of the U.S. Supreme Court not to intervene in local matters.
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In DC, blacks were crucial to gay marriage debate

Associated Press — Gay and lesbian couples will soon be able to marry in Washington, but the debate over same-sex marriage has sounded different here, with references to interracial marriage and Martin Luther King.

Over the past year, both sides have courted the support of Washington's black community, a majority of the city's 600,000 residents and one traditionally perceived as opposed to same-sex marriage.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Health Insurance Rates and Executive Salaries Go Up.

Insurance company proposed 39% rate hike as executives got bonuses

Miami Herald — While Anthem Blue Cross proposed a 39 percent rate increase on thousands of its California customers, its parent company gave 39 of its executives more than $1 million each and spent more than $27 million on 103 lavish executive retreats, congressional investigators said Wednesday.

"One question we asked is where does all of this money go? ... Corporate executives at WellPoint are thriving, while its policyholders are paying the price," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said at a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing Wednesday.
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Despite outcry, Anthem Blue Cross to go ahead with big rate hike

Christian Science Monitor — Anthem Blue Cross, the health insurer that plans to boost rates by as much as 39 percent in California this year, has become a lightning rod in the national debate over healthcare reform.

In President Obama’s healthcare summit Thursday, both Republicans and Democrats held up the company as an example of why the federal government needs to take steps to keep rising insurance premiums in check.
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Lawmakers Lay Into Wellpoint Over Rates

Wall Street Journal — Insurers faced harsh criticism Wednesday during a congressional hearing on steep premium increases by a Wellpoint Inc. unit in California.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, pointed to internal company documents he said demonstrated that profit influenced the decision by WellPoint's Anthem Blue Cross unit to raise prices on individual insurance plans by as much as 39%.
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Repulican Strategy on the Health Plan

Karl Rove: What the GOP Should Say at the Health Summit

Wall Street Journal — The congressional Republicans at today's televised health-care "summit" at the White House naturally want to prevent the president from turning it into a PR stunt. This is no easy task. They'll not only have to point out problems with his plan and offer their own ideas, but correct the president when he makes statements that are not true.

The GOP participants appear ready for the first two tasks. In an unusual approach, House and Senate members prepped together the way a candidate preps for a presidential debates—by pulling together debate books and conducting mock sessions. But the third task is the most critical and the most difficult.
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Gingrich: Summit 'good practice run' for GOP at majority rule

USA Today — Former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich said this morning that the White House health-care summit could be a trial run for Republicans on how to act if they take control of Congress in the fall. Gingrich has urged Republicans to engage in "principled, responsible bipartisanship" on issues like education reform, and he has joined with former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle to propose bipartisan health-care solutions.

Gingrich said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that he learned from the showdown with President Bill Clinton in 1995 and 1996, which resulted in a government shutdown, that voters will reward bipartisanship. He pointed to deals that Republicans made with Clinton after the government shutdown to reform welfare and Medicare and balance the federal budget.
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GOP Headed to White House Hopeful But Hesitant

Fox News — Republicans are going to show up Thursday for a meeting on health care reform with President Obama and congressional Democrats, but they aren't going to accept whole cloth a bill outlining Democratic plans that is being posted on the White House Web site Monday.

"If they are going to lay out the plan they want four days in advance, what are we discussing?" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked on "Fox News Sunday."
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Support for War in Afghanistan Withers as Dutch Government Collapses.

Dutch cabinet collapses in dispute over Afghanistan

BBC — The Dutch government has collapsed over disagreements within the governing coalition on extending troop deployments in Afghanistan.

After marathon talks, Christian Democratic Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced that the Labour Party was quitting the government.

He offered his government's resignation to Queen Beatrix in a telephone call.
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Nato Afghanistan mission in doubt after Dutch withdrawal

Guardian UK — The Dutch government collapsed at the weekend, making it the first European and Nato administration to fall because of the war in Afghanistan.

The fourth fall of a government under the prime minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende, in eight years could end his career and is certain to usher in a period of political uncertainty that could bring big gains for the extreme anti-Muslim right.
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Dutch government collapse: Will other European troops now leave Afghanistan?

Christian Science Monitor — The collapse of the Dutch government this weekend, largely over keeping Dutch troops in Afghanistan, threatens to undermine the NATO mission in the central Asian nation. And, it may signal tougher political climes ahead for other European leaders supporting a troop presence in Afghanistan.

The Dutch pullout, scheduled for August, comes at a time when NATO is undertaking a key offensive in Marjah and implementing a “hearts and minds” plan coordinated by the US administration.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

A New Nuclear U.S.?

Obama unveils loan guarantees for 1st U.S. nuclear plant in 3 decades

Japan Today — U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced $8.33 billion loan guarantees for the construction of the first U.S. nuclear power plant in more than 30 years, a move that could create opportunities for Japanese companies involved in building such facilities.

‘‘We’re going to have to build a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in America,’’ Obama said in a speech at the Lanham, Maryland-based job-training center of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a labor union.
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Budget Wielded to Cut Greenhouse Gases

Wall Street Journal — President Barack Obama's 2011 budget calls for an array of regulations, subsidies and taxes aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, even as a sweeping climate bill sits on ice in the Senate.

Mr. Obama's budget calls for $39 billion in tax increases on fossil-fuel producers over 10 years. It also includes an estimated $1.4 billion to help developing countries address the impacts of climate change, reduce deforestation and shift to low-carbon energy sources. And it proposes tripling federal support for nuclear energy, by adding $36 billion in new loan authority for an Energy Department program aimed at speeding the construction of new reactors.
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Environmental Advocates Are Cooling on Obama

New York Times — There has been no more reliable cheerleader for President Obama’s energy and climate change policies than Daniel J. Weiss of the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

But Mr. Obama’s recent enthusiasm for nuclear power, including his budget proposal to triple federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors to $54 billion, was too much for Mr. Weiss.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is The Tea Party Too Far Right For The Right?

Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right

New York Times — Pam Stout has not always lived in fear of her government. She remembers her years working in federal housing programs, watching government lift struggling families with job training and education. She beams at the memory of helping a Vietnamese woman get into junior college.

But all that was before the Great Recession and the bank bailouts, before Barack Obama took the White House by promising sweeping change on multiple fronts, before her son lost his job and his house. Mrs. Stout said she awoke to see Washington as a threat, a place where crisis is manipulated — even manufactured — by both parties to grab power.
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Tea party to protest Republicans

The Herald Tribune — Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was still at a summit with tea party activists in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, when people connected to the movement hatched plans to protest his arrival in Charlotte County for meetings with top Republican fundraisers later this week.

Englewood resident Randy McLendon said he and other tea party groups are planning to line the Boca Grande Causeway and other locations on the island with signs on Friday to make sure Steele and other GOP leaders know how upset they are with the party.
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Tea Party Revolution Could Undermine Republican Jewish Outreach

The Jewish Week — An angry “Tea Party” movement that Republican leaders hope to harness to boost their party’s chances in the 2010 congressional midterm elections could also be a potential blow to GOP outreach to minorities — including Jewish voters.

But Republican leaders, too, are in the movement’s cross hairs, and some Jewish leaders worry that the movement could transcend traditional politics entirely and create an extremist surge that is threatening to all minorities.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Clinton Ramps Up Rhetoric Against Iran

Iran leaves world ‘little choice,’ says Clinton

Jewish Telegraphic Agency — The world has "little choice" but to impose "greater costs" on Iran for its refusal to cooperate on the nuclear issue, Hillary Rodham Clinton said.

The rebuff of a U.S.-led offer to enrich uranium for medical research in exchange for greater transparency and a refusal to deal with United Nations nuclear inspectors "have caused us to wonder: What does Iran have to hide?" the U.S. secretary of state said Sunday, addressing the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Qatar, an event organized by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank with close ties to the Obama administration.
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Clinton says U.S. fears Iran is becoming a military dictatorship

The Washington Post — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that the United States fears Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has gained enough power to potentially supplant the Tehran government.

Speaking to Arab students at Carnegie Mellon's Doha campus Monday, Clinton made comments about the Guard's increasing role in the country's economic and political life that went further than previous administration statements.
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Clinton warns Iran not to 'build their bomb'

BBC — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the US would welcome peaceful engagement with Iran but not "while they are building their bomb".

She spoke at the US-Islamic World forum in Qatar during a trip to rally Arab support for tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sellers vs. Publishers; the Amazon - Macmillan War

Amazon's Grip on E-book Pricing Slackens, But the War's Not Over

Bnet — The e-book pricing war between Macmillan and Amazon (AMZN) is still raging but Amazon’s lost two more battles, further loosening the online retailer’s choke hold on the $9.99 price point for digital books.

Publishing heavyweight Rupert Murdoch voiced his displeasure during a News Corp. (NWS) earnings call on Tuesday.
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Has Amazon Moved Your Buy Button?

New York Times — You may have read about the standoff between and the Macmillan publishing company. Macmillan had objected to Amazon’s pricing, particularly its loss-leader $9.99 e-book price for new books. In turn, temporarily halted the sale of all Macmillan books. This meant Amazon customers could only buy such books from third-party vendors; the regular Amazon “buy” button had been moved.

A few days later, Amazon began to sell Macmillan’s books again. But the Authors Guild wants to protect its members against such future actions. Here is the notice the Guild recently distributed; it plainly views Amazon as something less than a trusted partner:
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FAQ: Amazon vs. Macmillan -- The IPad Wins

PC World — When Apple Inc. introduced the iPad last week, it launched a lot more than a tablet device. The announcement included the Apple iBook store, which in subsequent days provoked an e-book pricing firestorm , leading to temporarily halt sales of Macmillan e-books and paper books over the weekend.

Reactions to Amazon's pulling the plug on Macmillan, and Amazon's subsequent capitulation, took off in all directions. Macmillan authors, notably science fiction writer John Scalzi, were outraged by Amazon's action. Meanwhile, some e-book buyers blasted Macmillan, vowing they won't pay more than $9.99 for a first-release e-book, and will take a pass on e-books that cost as much as $14.95, the price Macmillan is proposing.
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Monday, February 8, 2010

Israel - Syria --- War -Peace?

Israel, Syria talk up war, peace

China News — While most of recent headlines regarding Israel's relationship with Syria are echoes of war drums, there is also seemingly a push right now to resume peace talks between the old foes.

During the last few days, senior officials from the two countries have been talking of military confrontation. Yet, calls for peace talks also can be heard in Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday saying that his country is " open for the renewal of negotiations with Syria."
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Netanyahu: Israel open to peace talks with Syria

Washington Post — Israel's prime minister attempted to end a war of words with Syria on Sunday, saying his country is open to peace talks with its longtime enemy.

Israeli and Syrian officials have traded threats over the past week, raising concerns of an escalation between two countries that have officially been at war for more than 60 years.
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A devastating war between Israel & Hezbollah is on the horizon

International Market Analyst — While the war of words is escalating around the clock between Israel on the one side and Hezbollah and Syria on the other, analysts in the Middle East and Europe strongly believe that war is inevitable and will break out within a few months.

In this scary context, senior Lebanese sources told the Saudi daily Al-Okaz that Hezbollah has announced emergency readiness in all areas of the country where it operates. Senior figures of the organization were asked to exercise greater caution in their movements amid fears they would be targeted by Israel. Hezbollah’s leaders are bragging that they are capable of defeating, humiliating and destroying Israel’s war machine.
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Monday, February 1, 2010

Obama's Budget - Energy, Jobs, Deficit, War?

Jobs, spending cuts and war top 2011 Obama budget

Reuters — President Barack Obama on Monday sent a $3.8 trillion budget request to Congress that would narrow the federal deficit by curbing 120 federal programs but set aside $100 billion to tackle unemployment.

The budget plan, which would take effect when fiscal year 2011 begins on October 1, projects a record fiscal deficit of $1.56 trillion this year but predicts the red ink will subside to $1.27 trillion in 2011 and half that in 2012.
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US 2011 Budget Targets Oil And Coal, Boosts Nuclear

Wall Street Journal — The Obama administration's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget targets the fossil fuel industry, aiming to cut around $39 billion in tax benefits over the next decade, but plans to boost the nuclear and renewable sectors.

Unlike the previous budget, the Administration didn't include specific projected revenues under its plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It proposed adding $36 billion in loan guarantee authority for nuclear power plants and up to $5 billion loan guarantee authority for renewable energy.
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Obama Sends Congress $3.8 Trillion Budget, Soaring Deficits Projected

FOX News — President Obama sent Congress a $3.8 trillion budget Monday for fiscal year 2011, pushing a plan that includes new jobs-creation programs but is projected to add nearly $1.3 trillion in deficit spending on top of the current year's projected $1.6 trillion deficit.

According to the plan, the 2011 deficit of $1.267 trillion would fund nearly the entirety of the year's discretionary spending, which is $1.415 trillion or 37 percent of the government's total outlays. Mandatory spending on items such as entitlements and interest payments make up the rest.
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Obama maps route to lower deficits

CNN — In his $3.8 trillion budget for next year, President Obama on Monday laid out how Congress can lighten the country's debt load.

Specifically, he outlined a plan to reduce the nation's debt by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, and to get annual deficits as a percent of the economy down from 10.6% today, to 3% by 2015.
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Supreme Court - 1st ammendment rights for corporations

First Amendment Upheld

Wall Street Journal — Thursday's Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court struck down a blanket government prohibition on corporate political speech, is a wonderful decision that restores political speech to the primacy it was intended to have under the First Amendment.

To truly appreciate the stakes in Citizens United, one must remember the government's legal position in the case. Implicit in its briefs but laid bare at oral argument, the government maintained that the Constitution allows the government to ban distribution of books over Amazon's Kindle; to prohibit a union from hiring a writer to author a book titled, "Why Working Americans Should Support the Obama Agenda"; and to prohibit Simon & Schuster from publishing, or Barnes & Noble from selling, a book containing even one line of advocacy for or against a candidate for public office. As David Barry would say, "I am not making this up."
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Supreme Court OKs unlimited corporate spending on elections

Los Angeles Times — Reporting from Washington - Overturning a century-old restriction, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that corporations could spend as much as they wanted to sway voters in federal elections.

In a landmark 5-4 decision, the court's conservative bloc said that corporations had the same right to free speech as individuals, and for that reason the government could not stop corporations from spending to help their favored candidates.
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Justice Stevens bemoans changed court

USA Today — When liberal Justice John Paul Stevens dissented Thursday as the Supreme Court permitted new corporate spending in elections, he invoked the names of influential and long-gone justices.

He began with retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, with whom he had worked on a 2003 case the majority was partially overruling. He referred to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall's warning in a 1990 case, also overturned, about how corporate money can distort political debate. Stevens then cited the late Justice Byron White about the importance of deferring to Congress, which had passed the law the majority discarded Thursday.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Obama Bank Overhaul

A return to sanity in banking

WSJ Marketwatch — The sweeping reform President Barack Obama unveiled Thursday is short on detail, but in its broadest terms it aims to both preserve Wall Street's ability to take risk and strengthen the money system at the core of banking.

Finally, someone with the power to make it happen is talking about a response equal in scope to the system's failure.

Let's start with some of the problems of this vague plan. First, it's not Glass-Steagall, the 1933 legislative wall thrown up between commercial and investment banking. It's not a pure divide between investing and the credit system.
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Big Bank Shares Hammered After Obama Proposal

ABC — A new proposal from President Barack Obama to limit the size and trading capabilities of big banks is sending shares of major financial institutions plummeting.

At the White House Thursday, Obama vowed to fight big banks with tougher regulations that he believes would head off the cascading failures that required billions bailout funds for Wall Street.

He wants new rules that would restrict banks in the use of depositor money and also limit how big financial institutions can become.
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Obama's bank reform plans scare the markets

BBC — US and European stocks have fallen sharply after President Barack Obama proposed significant limits on how banks can operate.

The main US share index, the Dow Jones, fell more than 200 points or 2% as the president delivered his speech, with banking stocks most affected.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Senate-Elect Brown vs. Healthcare

Democrats scramble on health care after GOP win

CNN — Nervous Democrats debated Wednesday how to save a health care reform plan suddenly pushed to the brink of defeat by an upset GOP Senate win in Massachusetts.

Senator-elect Scott Brown's victory in one of the most progressive states in the nation raised already-high anxiety levels among Democrats looking ahead to midterm elections. It also stripped Democrats of their 60-seat Senate supermajority, giving Republicans enough votes to block any measure in the chamber.
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US Health Insurers Enter Earnings Season With Changed Climate

Wall Street Journal — UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) and its peers seem to face a more temperate political climate than anticipated as the health insurer opens the industry's earnings-reporting season Thursday.

Following Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in the Massachusetts special U.S. Senate election Tuesday, investors are likely to be at least as focused on UnitedHealth's thoughts on the health-care reform outlook and other trends for this and future years as on how the company performed in the fourth quarter of 2009. UnitedHealth is the largest U.S. managed-care company by revenue and is considered an industry bellwether.
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White House Reduces Expectation of Passing Health Care Reform This Year

Fox News — The Obama White House, shell-shocked by the victory of Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election, no longer predicts Congress will pass health care this year.

"I think it's always hard to tell how these things sort out in the first hours," President Obama's senior adviser David Axelrod told Fox News on Wednesday when asked if health care was now dead. "I think people are trying to figure this out. We'll know more soon. I don't believe we came all this way and are going to walk away from it. I think it would be a terrible mistake."
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Google vs. China

Google-China showdown may alter tech game

San Francisco Chronicle — Few expect Google Inc.'s stare-down with China to usher in a new era of openness across the Asian nation, but some believe - or hope - it could pressure the government to improve relations with foreign technology companies.

The Mountain View Web giant called out the country in a surprisingly forthright manner last week, publicly venting frustrations common among many U.S. businesses operating there. The company said it would stop censoring search results in China even if that means it's forced to leave, after disclosing a sophisticated cyberattack on the e-mail accounts of advocates of human rights in the nation.
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Google cyber-attack from China 'an inside job'

London Times — Google employees may have assisted hackers who launched a cyber-attack from China, prompting the company’s threat to leave the country, it has emerged.

The world’s most popular search engine is believed to be investigating whether one or more of its own workers bases in the Chinese offices helped those attempting to break into the e-mail accounts of human rights activists last month.
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Google says 'business as usual' in China

Sydney Morning Herald — Google says it is 'business as usual' in China, after reports that the US internet giant was stopping some local staff from working following its threat to pull out of the country.

Google says it is "business as usual" in China, after reports that the US internet giant was stopping some local staff from working following its threat to pull out of the country.
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Sea Shepherd vs. Japan's Whaling Industry

Whalers now claim Ady Gil was armed

The Australian — JAPANESE whalers have accused the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society of carrying weapons on the Ady Gil, rejecting claims by the protesters that their state-of-the-art speed-boat had sunk.

The Institute of Cetacean Research released photographs last night of four large arrows they claim were found floating near the Ady Gil, which collided on Wednesday with the Japanese vessel the Shonan Maru No 2.
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Sea Shepherd sues Japanese whaling ship crew

Kyodo News — The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on Friday filed a complaint of piracy with a Dutch court against the crew of the Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru No. 2, lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld for the anti-whaling group told Dutch press agency ANP.
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Australia presses Japan on whaling safety

Reuters India — The futuristic anti-whaling protest boat struck by a Japanese harpoon vessel near Antarctica finally sank on Friday, prompting Australia to voice official concern about safety in the remote Southern Ocean.

Senior diplomats in Tokyo made "high-level representations" about safety in Antarctica's frigid waters. They also raised concerns about "spy flights" organized by Japanese whalers from Australian airports to track and foil protesters, Australia's Environment Minister Peter Garrett said.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni faces arrest for war crimes if she visits UK.

UK Muslim body: Israeli officials should face arrest

Iran Press TV — A leading Muslim organization in Britain has voiced outrage at the UK government's promise to reverse the British legal system's jurisdiction over suspected Israeli war criminals.

The apologetic move by the British government came after a Westminster magistrates' court convicted former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni of links to Israel's atrocities in the Gaza Strip at the turn of the year. The tribunal, accordingly, issued Livni an arrest warrant.
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Apology For Livni’s Arrest: A Blow to Justice?

Islam Online — The recent warrant arrest of the former Israeli foreign minister and the head of the opposition Kadima party, Tzipi Livni caused a huge uproar within the Israeli community. Although the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized and promised to change the British law, the Israeli citizens threatened to boycott British products in a response to such a huge offense.

Should Livni be tried as a war crime for her role in Gaza massacre which happened around this time last year? Why is Britain so adamant on changing established laws to protect Israeli officials? What is the future unfolding for the Palestinians after this hard blow of bending and breaking laws of justice?
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Brown says Livni 'most welcome' in UK

YNetNews — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown telephoned Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni on Wednesday and told her he strongly opposes the arrest warrant issued against her by a British court earlier this week.

According to a statement issued by the Kadima leader, Brown said that Livni was "most welcome" in Britain at any time and that he planned to work to change the current legal situation.
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Should Public Healthcare Be Negotiated In Private?

The Democrats' Secret Plan to Pass Health Care Reform

Associated Content — Ordinarily when a bill such as health care reform passes the House and the Senate in different forms, a House-Senate Conference Committee is formed to reconcile the differences, with a single bill being drafted to be passed by the House and Senate.

But health care reform is not ordinary legislation nor are these ordinary times. The House and Senate Democratic leadership have concocted a scheme to create a new bill in secret, without either Republicans or dissident Democrats, and The Democrats' Secret Plan to Pass Health Care Reform then ram the new bill through the House and the Senate.
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Health care: Shutting out the GOP?

The Week — House and Senate Democrats are "almost certain" to sidestep a formal conference committee and negotiate informally to reconcile the health-care reform bills they have passed, two top congressional staffers told The New Republic. By "ping-ponging" the legislation back and forth, Democrats reportedly hope to avoid a series of procedural steps requiring votes and full debates that Republicans could use to delay negotiations. Would foregoing a conference committee shut out Republicans, or just save time before an inevitable showdown over the final vote?
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C-SPAN: Health Care Talks Should Be Televised

ABC News — The C-SPAN television network is calling on congressional leaders to open health care talks to cameras — something President Barack Obama promised as a candidate.

Instead the most critical negotiations on Obama's health plan have taken place behind closed doors, as Republicans repeatedly point out. In a Dec. 30 letter to House and Senate leaders released Tuesday, C-SPAN chief executive Brian Lamb asked for negotiations on a compromise bill to be opened up for public viewing, as Democrats work to reconcile differences between legislation passed by the two chambers.
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