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Archive for December 14, 2010

Edwin Curley – From Augustine to Spinoza and Locke: Answering the Christian Case against Religious Liberty

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Keith Olbermann – Tax Cut Woes Increase

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Mosaic News 12/14/10: World News From The Middle East

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Tim Duy’s Fed Watch – Will the Fed Scale Up QE2?

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From Tim Duy’s Fed Watch:

Will the Fed Scale Up QE2?

I often feel caught between two complementary yet seemingly contradictory narratives regarding the US economy, one that sounds very optimistic while the other, in my opinion, pessimistic.  Nevertheless, I think both narratives can be embraced, at least to a certain extent.  And which narrative the Federal Reserve embraces will determine the dominate monetary policy question:  Will the Fed scale up quantitative easing, or scale down?

It is reasonable to conclude that the US economy possess the basis for sustained growth in the quarters ahead.  Indeed, the signs of a cyclical upturn are all over the data – manufacturing, investment, retail sales, inventories, take your pick, they are generally moving in the right direction.  And my take on the recent spate of data is that economic conditions firmed somewhat as we entered the fourth quarter.  The ISM reports, both manufacturing and service sectors, were looking much more solid than the previous months.  Initial unemployment claims have drifted downward, possibly even poised to make a sustained break below the 450k mark.  And the all important employment report did surprise on the upside.

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Peter Dale Scott – Afghanistan: Opium, the CIA and the Karzai Administration

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From Voltairenet:

Afghanistan: Opium, the CIA and the Karzai Administration

Is US Triumph in Drug-Addicted War possible?
Afghanistan: Opium, the CIA and the Karzai Administration

by Peter Dale Scott | Focus | According to Peter Dale Scott, there is no point in deploring the expansion of drug production in Afghanistan and the heroin epidemic gripping great parts of the world. Conclusions must be drawn from the established facts: the Taliban eradicated poppy cultivation; NATO promoted it; drug money corrupted the Karzai government but it is especially inside U.S. institutions that drug corruption is rife. Therefore, the solution does not lie with Kabul but with Washington.

Pat Garofalo – Coburn: Medicaid Recipients Should Pay More For Health Care To Help Lower The Deficit

December 14, 2010 1 comment

From the Wonk Room:

Coburn: Medicaid Recipients Should Pay More For Health Care To Help Lower The Deficit

Right Panics As START To Start Tomorrow – Get Ready For Process Whining

Reid Pledges To Hold Senate In Session Until January 4th To Finish DADT, Other Priorities

Daily Caller’s Amanda Carey Argues Coal Pollution Keeps Poor People Warm

White House Refuses To Condemn Marine Commandant’s Comments On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Marine Commandant Suggests Presence Of Gays Would Endanger The Lives Of Straight Marines

Kyl Says Tax Cut Benefiting The Country’s Richest 6,400 Estates Is ‘Not About Giveaways To The Wealthy’

Should The Administration Expedite The Health Care Lawsuit To The Supreme Court?

Is The Individual Mandate Penalty A Tax?

Deficit Fraud Romney: Jobless Benefits Are Too Expensive, But The Bush Tax Cuts Increase Revenue

Hoyer And Murphy Introduce DADT Measure In The House

Incoming Education Chairman On Regulating Higher Education Profiteers: ‘I Don’t Think So’

Socialist Evo Morales Finds Common Cause With Right Wing To Bury Cancun Accords

Congressional GOP Seeks To Kill Successful Stimulus Program, As GOP Governors Take Majority Of Its Funds

HAMP’s Flop Continues As 21 Percent Of ‘Permanent’ Mortgage Modifications Fail

By Pat Garofalo

When last we visited the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) — which is the Obama administration’s signature foreclosure prevention program — it was badly sputtering, spending little of the money allocated to it. More borrowers were being booted from the program mid-stream than were receiving permanent mortgage modifications.

The Congressional Oversight Panel released a report today that doesn’t make the picture any prettier. To date, HAMP has processed about 500,000 permanent loan modifications, out of 1.4 million trial modifications that have been initiated. And the redefault rate (meaning the number of borrowers who again fall behind on their mortgages, post-modification) is an ugly 21 percent:

Figure 19 shows that although only around 1 percent of permanent modifications are 90+ days delinquent within their first three months, the number jumps to 5.5 percent by month six and 11 percent by month nine; within a year, 21 percent of HAMP permanent modifications are 90 or more days delinquent, at which point they are disqualified from the program.

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Two Teabaggers Reject High-Speed Rail Opportunity

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The Yes Men Fix The World – Full Movie

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GRITtv: Personal Democracy Forum: Is the Internet Free?

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James Parks – New Tools Bring State Corporate Tax Breaks to Light

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From the AFL-CIO Now Blog:

New Tools Bring State Corporate Tax Breaks to Light

by James Parks, Dec 13, 2010

Each year, state and local governments give out billions in tax breaks and subsidies to corporations in return for a promise that the company will create new jobs. While most states disclose the names of companies receiving state and local tax breaks, cash grants and other subsidies for job creation, the quality of the reporting varies widely. In fact, about a dozen states are still keeping taxpayers in the dark, according to a new report.

The report, “Show Us the Subsidies,” by Good Jobs First, a nonprofit, non-partisan research center, shows that Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Ohio were found to have the best economic development disclosure.

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Columbia Journalism Review

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From the Columbia Journalism Review:

Director’s Cut: Last Thursday, Judith Miller penned a column for The Wall Street Journal in which she accused the new film Fair Game of pushing “untruths” in its telling of the outing of former CIA agent Valerie Plame.  CJR approached Fair Game director Doug Liman (Swingers, Mr and Mrs Smith, The Bourne Identity) for comment. He wrote back with this response to Miller’s piece. It starts this way: “Judith Miller demonstrated in her recent WSJ story about my film, Fair Game, the same cavalier attitude towards the facts that led to her departure from The New York Times in….”

Cancun Confidential: Joydeep Gupta wants to know where the money is. He is reporting for the Indo-Asian News Service, Gupta is in Cancún on the sixteenth annual Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP 16. At last year’s conference in Copenhagen, developed countries promised to spend $30 billion over the course of three years in developing countries where the impacts of climate change are already occurring. Gupta is trying to track that money down, and is profiled for CJR by Laura Paskus, from Cancun.

In the Air: In the latest of CJR’s Launch Pad series, in which founders of news startups discuss the challenges of their particular launch, Michael Andersen, founder of Portland Afoot, and Barry Johnson, who is at work on an arts journalism project, wrap up their series of conversations with a discussion about community building.

Digital Deja Vu: Google has a near-monopoly on search in the U.S. It uses that dominant position to boost its other businesses at the expense of competitors. As The Audit’s Deputy Chief, Ryan Chittum, notes: We’ve got a problem here. The Wall Street Journal took a look, pointing out how the search giant is able to dominate—or at least gain a significant position in—other aspects of the Web by using search results to point to its own services. But the obvious analogy, which the Journal doesn’t make, is to the emblematic tech company of the 1990s: Microsoft.

NYT v. the Derivatives Cartel: Back in September, the Chicago Fed hosted a symposium on OTC derivatives clearing (bear with us; don’t fall asleep just yet). The luncheon keynote was given by Ken Griffin, and summarized by the professor/blogger Craig Pirrong, who was there. CJR’s Peterson Fellow, Felix Salmon, notes that recently, the New York Times‘s Louise Story took Griffin’s complaint and elevated it to the status of the main front-page story of the Sunday paper. It’s a long and powerful piece, Felix says, but also quite one-sided.

A Stunning Poll: Chittum says Bloomberg News got some stunning numbers polling Americans on whether big bonuses should be banned at Wall Street?s bailout recipients, which essentially means all of the Wall Street banks. Wait until you see them.

A Rehash from BusinessWeek: Felix says he was eager to read the new Bloomberg Businessweek profile of Larry Fink to learn something new, especially about the famously tense relationship between Fink and Goldman Sachs. But weirdly, the authors seem to go out of their way not to delve. Says Felix: If you only read one profile of Fink, the best one remains last April’s piece by Suzanna Andrews in Vanity Fair.

Herald-Trib BlockBuster: Down in Florida, State Farm noisily said it was exiting its coastal hurricane-insurance business, asserting that it couldn’t afford it anymore. But, Chittum points out in Audit Notes, thanks to an investigation by Paige St. John and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, we now know that State Farm is still actually in the hurricane-insurance business in Florida and its machinations are making it lots of money:

Short-Arming a Goldman Story: Chittum notes that when Senator Carl Levin released e-mails yesterday showing a Goldman Sachs executive exhorting his traders to engineer a short-squeeze, The Wall Street Journal buried it on C3 and gave it a  loopy headline: “Goldman Trader Used Rough Language.” Heavens! The Financial Times was quite a bit better.
http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/goldman_execs_emails_raise.php

NYT Shines on Mortgages: Felix says the paper’s David Bornstein had a great post about ESOP, an Ohio non-profit which acts as a middleman between homeowners and lenders, and which does a much better job of getting modifications done than banks and borrowers are if left to their own devices.

Mark Thoma – Why We Need an Individual Mandate for Health Insurance

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Keiser Report №103: Markets, Finance FUBAR!

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The Real News – Lowering Workers’ Wages is the Objective

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Countdown Keith Olbermann Wall Street protects profits with secret committee

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