February 22, 2013

Bits Bucket for February 22, 2013

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:08:02

Feb. 21, 2013, 3:04 p.m. EST
Fed’s Bullard eyes tightening next year
Fed could adjust asset purchases based on data
By Greg Robb, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The U.S. economy is on the mend, and the jobless rate could fall to the level where the Federal Reserve may consider raising interest rates by June 2014, a voting member of the central bank said Thursday.

James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, said in a speech at New York University’s School of Business that his bank forecasts the unemployment rate will fall below 6.5% in June 2014.

Fed officials have said that it will not raise short term rates as long as the unemployment rate his higher than 6.5%.

Bullard admitted that his forecast is more optimistic than many of his colleagues on the Fed.

Turning to the status of the Fed’s $85 billion per month asset purchase plan, Bullard repeated his position that the Fed should consider adjusting the pace of purchases each meeting based on the data.

Raising or lowering the amount of asset purchases by about $10 or $15 billion would be equivalent to a move in the Fed’s target federal funds rate, he said.

“It would help get rid of this [idea] that there is some foggy period in the future where you are just going to cut things off completely,” Bullard said.

Bullard said that the asset purchases could now continue now “for awhile.”

He said the Fed had room to maneuver given low inflation and the size of the balance sheet.

“Inflation is pretty low right now and inflation expectations seem to be contained,” Bullard said to reporters after a speech at New York University.

Several officials said the Fed might have to slow or stop asset purchases before reaching the goal of a substantial improvement in the labor market.

But other officials warned about the risk of cutting the purchases off too early.

In a separate speech, John Williams, the president of the San Francisco Fed, said quantitative easing, is providing a “much needed boost” to the economy and will be required well into the second half of the year.

“We need powerful and continuing monetary accommodation,” Williams said. “Unemployment is far too high and inflation is too low,” he said.

The latest money news from Adrienne Mitchell including comments by Dallas Fed chief on eventual end of quantitative easing.

And Richard Fisher of the Dallas Fed said in an interview that the central bank would not go “cold turkey” in halting purchases.

Vince Reinhart, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, said in an interview with MarketWatch that the Fed is divided into two camps on quantitative easing.

“There are those who think it can make a difference and those who think it is a pact with the devil,” Reinhart said.

Comment by ecofeco
2013-02-22 09:12:06

The FED will never solve the employment problem, which, along with wholesale financial fraud, is at the heart of this country’s problems.

Solve the fraud and employment may take care of itself.

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 10:15:17

The FED will never solve the employment problem, which, along with wholesale financial fraud, is at the heart of this country’s

Nah it’s more like, get to work, Mr. Chairman.

Comment by mmrtnt
2013-02-22 12:57:57

Why in god’s name would Fred Bullard be tightening his eyes, and why should we care?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:15:06

What dark force stops asset price corrections in their tracks?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:16:47

Feb. 21, 2013, 11:08 a.m. EST
Gold’s dive is done, now it’s equities’ turn
By L.A. Little

Before addressing the current equity-market situation, let’s first wrap up the gold market dive call. from last week. The dive happened, the extension occurred and profits should be taken. Could it go farther? Sure, it always can, but the ABCD projections are realized and the setup did exactly what it should have done.

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2013-02-22 20:10:26

Of course, for me, I certainly won’t take profits in physical precious metals, but buy more.

These are hide-able and movable assets. I suppose good quality wine, investment diamonds, antiques, and fine art are also movable and hide-able, but I would not know how to appraise the value of that stuff.

The time to sell if you wanted to sell was when it was near $1900 per ounce, or last Fall when it was close to $1800 per ounce on its upward leg.

Nouriel Rubio is predicting a huge asset bubble ahead that will dwarf the 2003-2006 bubble. 2003-2006 was notoriously the housing bubble, even though gold went from $300 per ounce to $1900 per ounce from 2003 to 2011. IIRC, house prices doubled. But gold went up to six times the 2003 price.

I guess we are headed to a big housing bubble. House prices will go up triple, while gold goes up 10 times! LOL. But it won’t be considered a gold bubble, only a housing bubble!

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:19:54

Feb. 21, 2013, 11:50 a.m. EST
The 5 biggest lies on Wall Street
Commentary: These market myths are doing the rounds — again
By Brett Arends

The Dow popped back above 14,000 this week. The market’s been booming all year. Small cap stocks just hit a new all-time high, and Mom and Pop have been jumping back into the market.

Don’t mind me. I’m sitting in the back of the theater, throwing popcorn at the screen and shouting, “Boring! We’ve seen this already!” Maybe I’ve just been to too many movies.

Like this one.

Maybe the Dow will double from here. Maybe the good times will roll.

But don’t spin me. Here are five myths about the stock market that are doing the rounds, yet again. They just don’t seem to die.

Stocks will do well because U.S. corporations are in great shape.

Well, some of them have a lot of cash in the bank. So what? They have a lot of debt, too. According to the Federal Reserve, the total liabilities of U.S. nonfinancial companies just hit a new, all-time high of $13.9 trillion. That’s up 40% from a decade ago.

In other words, they owe about the same amount as the federal government. They’ve borrowed more than a trillion in the past three years alone.

What? You hadn’t heard that? Surprise.

Comment by oxide
2013-02-22 07:22:39

The interesting word there is “nonfinancials.” So which companies owe all this money? Are they the same companies who are sitting on all the cash? And how much would those total liabilities rise if it included financials? :shock:

Comment by michael
Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 07:57:27

Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust - And How You Can Profit from It: How to Build Wealth in Today’s Expanding Real Estate Market [Paperback]
David Lereah (Author)
2.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.

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Paperback – $14.10 $0.01

Comment by azdude
2013-02-22 16:50:47

good fire starter.

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Comment by HBB_Rocks
2013-02-22 08:50:49

If I were a corporation listed on the Russell 1000 and essentially existed into perpetuity, and had a staff of accounts and lawyers and could declare bankruptcy pretty easy, I’d be loading up on the debt right now at 2-3% for 30 years and longer while also loading up on cash because the demand for our products is steady but not rising. I’d be taking full advantage of bad fed policy.

Comment by michael
2013-02-22 09:07:14

CFO of my old company:

“if a bank is willing to lend you money at favorable terms…you take it”.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2013-02-22 09:52:09

Isn’t that kinda like buying “2 shirts for $20″ when you probably don’t even need 1?

And what’s the point of using financing if what you’re buying is insanely priced (caused by the low-rate financing in the first place)?

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Comment by HBB_Rocks
2013-02-22 10:58:11

I wouldn’t actually consider making any addtional capital improvements with the money, beyond what I was already considering. I’d dump it in a bank and wait for times to change.

Comment by Dale
2013-02-22 12:26:11

“I’d be loading up on the debt right now at 2-3% for 30 years”

How many business loans are for 30 years (I really don’t know) or are you surreptitiously implying that this is also a good time to buy a house of which a 30 year mortgage is fairly standard?

Comment by HBB_Rocks
2013-02-22 15:27:46

Business bonds (not exactly loans, but really the same thing) are for 30 years and longer; no I’m not suggesting that any individual do this because people retire and die and have worse outcomes in bankruptcy.

If people could work forever forever; then yeah, I’d suggest they do this too.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:21:24

Can money stay easy forever if the Fed wills it?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:24:05

Feb. 21, 2013, 5:23 p.m. EST
Fear index off lows as volatility spikes
By Wallace Witkowski, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — With volatility rushing back into the stock market, does that mean a correction is nigh?

Recent economic data and a possible scaling back of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing measures have investors rethinking their investments and giving new life to measures of volatility.

After stumbling along at multiyear lows for several weeks, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX +3.68%), the so-called “fear index,” is toying with its biggest weekly spike of the year. Earlier in the session, the VIX was up nearly 30% for the week; if the week ended then, it would have been the biggest weekly gain in 17 months.

The bounce-back in volatility follows a period of several weeks of multiyear stock highs, talk of the “great rotation” from bonds into stocks, and anticipation that a correction was looming for what some perceived to be an overbought market.

By the close Thursday, the index had pared gains and closed up 3.7% at 15.22, for a week-to-date gain of about 22%.

On Wednesday, the VIX jumped more than 19% its largest one-day percentage surge since Nov. 9, 2011, when it jumped nearly 32% in one day.

The VIX touched a multiyear low of 12.08 on Tuesday, its lowest reading since April 2007.

While some investors are beginning to worry about March sequestration, or the $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts set to take effect unless Washington leaders act, most of that anticipation is already priced into the market, said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergEx.

The real concern is the future of the Fed’s QE measures. On Wednesday, minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting showed that many Fed officials are worried about the costs and risks of its $85-billion-a-month in asset purchases.

The revelations knocked stocks into a tailspin.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:45:03

The Fed is Now the Fifth Largest Country in the World
Phoenix Capital Research’s picture
Submitted by Phoenix Capital Research on 02/21/2013 16:07 -0500

With QE 3 and QE 4 firmly in place and the Fed’s balance sheet over $3 trillion, Idecided to go back and count the recap the Fed/Feds’ interventions since the Great Crisis began in 2007.

Here’s a recap of some of the larger moves made during the Crisis:

Cutting interest rates from 5.25-0.25% (Sept ’07-today).
The Bear Stearns deal/ taking on $30 billion in junk mortgages (Mar ’08).
Opening various lending windows to investment banks (Mar ’08).
Hank Paulson spends $400 billion on Fannie/ Freddie (Sept ’08).
The Fed takes over insurance company AIG for $85 billion (Sept ’08).
The Fed doles out $25 billion for the automakers (Sept ’08)
The Feds kick off the $700 billion TARP program (Oct ’08)
The Fed buys commercial paper from non-financial firms (Oct ’08)
The Fed offers $540 billion to backstop money market funds (Oct ’08)
The Fed agrees to back up to $280 billion of Citigroup’s liabilities (Oct ’08).
$40 billion more to AIG (Nov ’08)
The Fed backstops $140 billion of Bank of America’s liabilities (Jan ’09)
Obama’s $787 Billion Stimulus (Jan ’09)
QE 1 buys $1.25 trillion in Treasuries and mortgage debt (March ’09)
QE lite buys $200-300 billion of Treasuries and mortgage debt (Aug ’10)
QE 2 buys $600 billion in Treasuries (Nov ’10)
Operation Twist 2 (Nov ’11)
QE 3 buys $40 billion in Mortgage Backed Securities every month from now on (Sept. ’12)

That’s one heck of a list. And the worst part is I know I’ve left something out somewhere.

And yet, despite all of this…

* Median income today is lower than it was during at the end of 2009 (when the recession supposedly ended)

* The percentage of Americans on food stamps has increased from 11% to nearly 15%

* The average unemployment duration has increased from 30 weeks to nearly 40 weeks

* The civilian employment to population ratio hasn’t budged

My question to everyone, especially the political class: at what point do we start calling BS on the Fed’s claims that it has a clue how to improve the economy?

Seriously, how many trillions of Dollars are we going to let the Fed spend? The Fed balance sheet is now over $3 trillion… making it larger than the GDP of France, the UK, or Brazil. Indeed, if the Fed’s balance sheet were a country, it’d be the FIFTH LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

While the Fed has failed miserably to improve the economy in the US, it’s done a bang up job of letting the inflation genie out of the bottle. As Zerohedge recently noted, commodity prices have never been this high at this point in the year before.

So, the Fed has failed to improve the economy… but it has unleashed inflation. This is called STAGFLATION folks. And the fact the Fed thinks the answer to it is printing more money tells us point blank: things are going to be getting a lot worse in the coming months.

Indeed, it is now clear, via QE 3, that the Fed has gone “all in” in its commitment to money printing. QE 2 put food prices to record highs… what to you think QE 3 (which is unlimited) will do to the cost of living?

The time to start preparing is now. The printers are running. The Great Currency Debasement has begun. Some folks will walk out of this mess winners. Most will walk out as losers.

Comment by michael
2013-02-22 07:35:51

that list reminds me of a frog being boiled in water.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 07:49:32

Most will walk out as losers

And the 0.1% will be wealthier than ever.


Comment by rms
2013-02-22 08:13:23

“So, the Fed has failed to improve the economy… but it has unleashed inflation. This is called STAGFLATION folks. And the fact the Fed thinks the answer to it is printing more money tells us point blank: things are going to be getting a lot worse in the coming months.”

Stagflation, we ain’t [sic] friends.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 08:31:47

The incomes of the 1% are increasing at a rate well above inflation.

And the rest of you can just go f*ck yourselves.

The future belongs to Lucky Ducky :)

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Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-22 09:14:11

Indeed, if the Fed’s balance sheet were a country, it’d be the FIFTH LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

With those kind of assets you’d think they’d need their own army to protect them.

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 09:36:02

Indeed, if the Fed’s balance sheet were a country, it’d be the FIFTH LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

Give it a time, it will be the largest country soon. It will devour the host and the new country will be named “The Federal Reserve Socialism for Rich, States of America.”

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Comment by Neuromance
2013-02-22 11:46:53

The problem is that the Austrians made testable claims. Which, in the timeframe they suggested, failed.

The brilliance of the borrow/printers is that they are not so foolish as to make falsifiable claims. They take their actions and their only claim is that, “If we didn’t do this, things would be much worse.”

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:26:53

Feb. 21, 2013, 12:01 p.m. EST
Sequester, QE debates show U.S. systems are broken
Commentary: Both the policy and the process are failing us
By Darrell Delamaide

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — And we thought brinksmanship was bad. As Congress enjoys an ill-timed recess and lets the nation rush into the sequester spending cuts, a little late-night crisis compromise starts to look pretty good.

It may still come to that in the game of chicken between the White House and congressional Republicans, but prudent investors are counting on the automatic cuts kicking in as of March 1.

With Congress in a permanent stalemate, we learn too that the Federal Reserve will discuss next month whether its program of bond purchases — also known as quantitative easing or QE — can continue to provide any effective support for our sluggish economy.

Increasing the amount of central bank money, it seems, can reach its limits if the credit creation mechanism in our banking system remains severely impaired with the legacy of toxic assets that brought on the virtual financial collapse in 2008.

It is becoming increasingly clear, in short, that both our political and financial systems are close to being broken. The government’s policy levers, fiscal and monetary, have more or less ceased to function, at least in any constructive manner.

In Washington, meanwhile, the rats are leaving the sinking ship. Whereas in the past, senators would cling to office as long as they could totter to the floor, a growing number are heading for the exits. It’s just not much fun to be a lawmaker in a dysfunctional Congress.

Comment by Combotechie
2013-02-22 06:39:11

Hey, we just had an election. Give it time, give it a year or so when the next election begins to stir up interest among those who wish to become re-elected.

There is a cycle at hand in case nobody has been noticing. Right after an election comes the much-needed induced dose of pain. As the next election nears the pain subsides a bit (as does the memory of the pain).

Play the cycle and prosper. Or ignore the cycle and get played by the PTB.

Your choice.

Comment by palmetto
2013-02-22 06:42:21

Combo, you are awesome. Just. Awesome. Always quietly pointing out the truth of things.

Comment by Combotechie
2013-02-22 06:56:54

Well thank you, Palmy.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 06:52:55

Play the cycle and prosper

How does ‘play the cycle’ square with ‘cash is king’?

Comment by Combotechie
2013-02-22 07:06:34

It squares quite well.

One example: The payroll cut allowed more earned money to escape the tax man. One could either choose to spend the extra money or he could choose to stockpile it.

If he chose to spend the money then the money would be gone. If he chose to stockpile the money the he would still have it.

Stockpiling money is hard because earned money has to first get past the tax man before it can be stockpiled. Once it is past the tax man the stockpiling gets easy. And after it is stockpiled the taxes on the stockpiled money - is there are any taxes at all - are few.

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Comment by Combotechie
2013-02-22 07:13:08

One can choose to expand and contract his standard of living as his net income expands and contracts or he can choose to have a stablized standard of living and take advantage of the swings in his net income.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 07:44:25

Oh, I gotcha. I thought you were suddenly saying we should be playing the stock cycles between elections, or something.

Good, I can still relax.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 08:00:39

“If he chose to spend the money then the money would be gone. If he chose to stockpile the money the he would still have it.”

How would one go about this stockpiling of money, given the ongoing need to spend every dime one earns at Wal-mart?

Comment by Blue Skye
2013-02-22 07:25:09

It squares in that perhaps one has a little more time to get their affairs in order; get out of debt and take steps to reduce their requirements for income.

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Comment by michael
2013-02-22 07:39:59

excellent point which…was so eloquently articulated to congress by a senior official in this administration.

“What difference, at this point, does it make?” - Hillary Clinton

…at this point.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:29:58

Ending long break, White House and Republicans renew budget talks

U.S. President Barack Obama discusses the automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week, while in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington February 19, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON | Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:04pm EST

(Reuters) - After weeks without talks on the U.S. budget crisis, President Barack Obama called Republican leaders on Thursday to discuss the harsh “sequestration” cuts to government spending due to begin in just over a week.

In what might be just the start of long negotiations to prevent the $85 billion in cuts, Obama spoke to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The conversations were “good,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, but he declined to provide details.

A McConnell spokesman said it was the first outreach from Obama since the New Year’s Eve “fiscal cliff” deal.

Unlike that impasse, which produced drama in Congress and stormy meetings at the White House, both sides have so far not engaged in high-profile negotiations on how to avoid the government cuts, which few in Washington favor.

The reductions are due to begin on March 1, but their immediate effects are unlikely to be severe because they will be phased in gradually over seven months.

That lag could give politicians at least a few weeks to reach a solution before another budget trigger date - a deadline for funding the government - comes up at the end of March.

Republicans want to replace the across-the-board sequester cuts by finding other more-targeted spending reductions.

But congressional Democrats have put forward a $110 billion plan that includes not only spending cuts but also tax increases, which are opposed by Republicans.

Obama has expressed doubt a deal can be struck by March 1.

“At this point, we continue to reach out to Republicans and say this is not going to be good for the economy, it’s not going to be good for ordinary people,” the president told radio talk show host Al Sharpton.

“But I don’t know if they’re going to move and that’s what we’re going to have to keep pushing over the next seven, eight days,” he told Sharpton.

Comment by Bigguy
2013-02-22 07:13:21

Predictions? Will the Sequester happen on March 1?

I say yes.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 08:03:43

And in contrast to those who assert the sequester is “priced in” to the stock market, I expect a market break based on the outcome of the next seven days’ last-ditch negotiations. If they succeed, happy days will be here again. If they fail, look out below.

Comment by rms
2013-02-22 08:15:15

Print, baby, print!

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:32:02

No winners in this game
By Eugene Robinson, Published: February 21

The standoff over the package of budget cuts known as “the sequester” is the dumbest, most self-defeating fight between President Obama and Republicans in Congress since . . . let’s see, since the last dumb, self-defeating fight less than two months ago.

Obama is winning this showdown but only in a relative sense. The truth is that everybody loses — Republicans a little more, Democrats a little less. And the American people, who have a right to expect adult behavior from their elected officials, will inevitably be the biggest losers of all.

It’s hard to believe, but this is the way the richest and most powerful nation on Earth runs its affairs these days, lurching from artificial crisis to artificial crisis amid threats of self-inflicted harm. The enemy, truly, is us.

On Jan. 1, you will recall, the nation was about to leap from a fiscal precipice of dizzying height. Taxes were going to soar, and federal spending was going to plunge; the impact, surely, would have been to send the economy back into recession. Disaster was averted only by a last-second deal that guaranteed two brief months of fiscal sanity.

Now we face $85 billion in across-the-board sequester budget cuts, scheduled for March 1, that both Obama and the GOP leadership say would be disastrous. I’m guessing that two questions occur to you: Why, then, did the president and Congress agree to impose these cuts in the first place, if they’re such a terrible idea? And why don’t they just call them off? Sorry, but there are no answers that make sense.

Even more absurd is the fact that there are unnecessary crises yet to come. In another month, the federal government faces a shutdown unless Congress keeps it running by passing a continuing resolution. And not far down the road, there will be another fight over preventing default by raising the debt ceiling.

Comment by Combotechie
2013-02-22 06:51:11

Give this a close read:

“Even more absurd is the fact that there are unnecessary crises yet to come. In another month, the federal government faces a shutdown unless Congress keeps it running by passing a continuing resolution.”

This “continuing resolution” that is supposed to save us is a resolution that will allow the U.S. to continue to spend more money than it has. These “unnecessary crisis yet to come” will somehow be averted as long as the U.S. can continue to spend more money than it has.

IMO this is truly nuts but nevertheless there it is.

Comment by Bigguy
2013-02-22 07:16:09

It’s a coalition of teat suckers from all parties and persuasions who want to see the pun bowl spiking to continue forever!

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 08:05:24

“IMO this is truly nuts but nevertheless there it is.”

You probably noticed this sort of thing going on with the California budget process year-in, year-out long before it moved up to the federal level.

The Californication of the U.S.A. is here!

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 08:43:30

I wonder, do the Japanese go through this same nonsense? Their budget deficit, as a percentage of GDP, is in the same league as ours.

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Comment by ecofeco
2013-02-22 10:13:35

Worse. Over there it’s the Yakuza vs the Triads!

(just kidding. I have no idea)

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 10:18:46

Over there it’s the Yakuza vs the Triads!

We have them beat with our MS13.
We are #1, again.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 11:15:05


A truly heartwarming tale for the multiculti diversitard COEXIST koolaid drinkers about Latino gang violence against blacks in Compton (b-b-b-but I thought only evil anglo whitey could be racist?)


Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:34:35

Spain and Italy: The Euro Crisis Gnaws at Europe’s Underbelly

The euro crisis may have dropped out of the headlines recently, but Spain and Italy would seem to be doing their best to bring it back. Real estate giant Reyal Urbis’ bankrupcy has raised fresh concerns about Spanish banks and many fear that a Berlusconi election victory could drive Rome to seek emergency aid.

It had become a trend among top European politicians to forecast that the worst of the euro crisis had passed. A pledge by the European Central Bank to buy up unlimited quantities of sovereign bonds as needed, promising numbers from Greece indicating that the country was finally getting its budget deficit under control and a reform-minded government in Rome — 2012 seemed set to go down in history as the year the crisis lost its bite.

This week, the outlook is looking less rosy. And much of the pessimism is focused on the two countries long seen as potentially the most dangerous should the euro crisis grow: Spain and Italy.

The situation looks especially bleak in Madrid, with real estate giant Reyal Urbis filing for insolvency on Tuesday. With debts of €3.6 billion, the bankruptcy would be the second largest in Spain’s history after real-estate company Martinsa-Fadesa filed in July 2008 with debts of €7.2 billion. Reyal Urbis has until Saturday to ward off insolvency by reaching a deal with its creditors.

The demise of Reyal Urbis isn’t just a problem for Spain. Several German banks are also among the company’s creditors. Furthermore, the firm’s list of Spanish debt holders reads like a who’s who of the country’s already wobbly financial industry, including Santander (which holds €550 million in Reyal Urbis debt), Banco Popular (€220 million) and BBVA (€120 million).

Tops on the list, however, is Bankia which is owed at least €460 million by the real estate firm, with Reuters reporting that number could be as high as €785 million. Bankia was placed under government control in 2012 and received bailout aid from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Furthermore, Spain’s “bad bank” SAREB — set up last year to help absorb a raft of bad real-estate debt from the books of Spanish financial institutions — is also involved.

Extremely Shaky

Still, the insolvency has not come as a surprise. The Spanish real estate market has shown no signs of improvement in recent months and prices continue to fall — with property in the country having lost 40 percent of its value since 2007. It is a development which has hit construction giants like Reyal Urbis hard and is largely responsible for the troubled state of Spain’s banks. Even worse, experts do not expect things to improve any time soon.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:36:49

February 20, 2013, 11:20 AM
Housing-Market Cooldown Continues
By David George-Cosh

Canadian house prices are still coming down.

The Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index fell 0.3% in January from December—its fifth straight monthly decline. On a year-over-year basis, the index–a weighted composite of house prices in 11 major Canadian markets–was up 2.7%, but that gain was the smallest year-over-year since November 2009.

Canada’s housing market has seen steady declines since last summer when the Canadian government tightened mortgage rules for the fourth time in as many years to put the brakes on what it believed was an overheating sector.

Since the implementation of those rules, Canadian home sales have fallen by 5.8% before rising somewhat in January, said Marc Pinsonneault, senior economist at National Bank of Canada, which along with land-registration firm Teranet puts out the index.

Canadian home prices fell 1.6% over the last five months of 2012, Mr. Pinsonneault said in a report. The economist believes home prices are on track to decline by another 5% this year.

Prices in most Canadian markets saw declines in January, including Canada’s three biggest cities—Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal—and in the two biggest cities in the oil-rich province of Alberta. Quebec City, Halifax and Ottawa were among the markets which had modest gains.

A Canadian home-price correction could be more pronounced when the Bank of Canada decides to tighten monetary policy, said Mazen Issa, Canada macro strategist at TD Securities, in a research note. Most economists expect to see the central bank start hiking interest rates in early 2014.

“In the interim, the housing market is expected to stabilize as the backdrop of very low interest rates will help to buffer some of the recent weakness,” Mr. Issa said.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:40:31

China Housing Slaves Helping Property Rebound: Mortgages
By Bloomberg News - Feb 19, 2013 6:41 PM PT

Sherry Sheng, a 29-year-old Shanghai policewoman, bought herself a 4,000 yuan ($642) black fur jacket, splurging for the last time before she starts paying off the mortgage on her first home.

Sheng is part of a generation of middle class that Chinese media has dubbed “fang nu,” or housing slaves, a reference to the lifetime of work needed to pay off their debts. They’re taking on mortgages even as the government maintains property curbs to damp prices that have almost tripled since China embarked in 1998 on a drive to increase private home ownership.

“It’s a treat for myself because I could never afford such a luxury after I start repaying my housing loans next month,” said Sheng, who paid 1.1 million yuan for the one-bedroom apartment on the city’s western outskirts and will be using about 70 percent of her salary to service her mortgage.

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 13:44:32

I’ll bet this “middle class” police woman doesn’t make more then $1000 USD a month, yet she is buying a $170K USD apartment (no wonder they think our real estate is a bargain)

Comment by ahansen
2013-02-22 23:42:33

Try 800-1200 RMB/month. That’s about $200-$300 USD.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 02:48:53

Wal-Mart Outlook Gives Glimpse Of Economy
by The Associated Press
February 21, 2013 6:29 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — As the fortunes of many Americans go, so goes Wal-Mart, so goes the economy.

Even as the world’s largest retailer on Thursday reported an 8.6 percent rise in fourth quarter profit during the busy holiday shopping season, it offered a weaker forecast for the coming months. The problem? The poor and middle-class Americans Wal-Mart caters to — and who are big drivers of spending in the U.S. — are struggling with rising gas prices, delayed income tax refunds and higher payroll taxes.

Melanie M. Burkhardt, a mother of two teenagers who shops at Wal-Mart, is one of those people. Burkhardt, a Waycross, Ga., resident, said she’s been hit with a double whammy: the payroll tax hike, which has cut her household monthly income by $260, and higher gas prices.

“We had to do a flip on our budget,” said Burkhardt, a legal assistant who plans to cut back on her trips to Wal-Mart. “This is money we used for things like going to a movie or splurging at Olive Garden. Not anymore.”

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 07:42:18

“We had to do a flip on our budget,” said Burkhardt, a legal assistant who plans to cut back on her trips to Wal-Mart. “This is money we used for things like going to a movie or splurging at Olive Garden. Not anymore.”

Look for more business closings in the coming months. Especially in the consumer discretionary spending sector.

Comment by Montana
2013-02-22 09:33:33

Pirate shops - ?

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 13:47:38
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Comment by Blue Skye
2013-02-22 07:51:40

“the payroll tax hike, which has cut her household monthly income by $260…”

LOL. So she and her partner make $13,000 per month? No more going to a movie for these poor folks.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 08:10:51

You can borrow DVDs from your local library.

Comment by oxide
2013-02-22 12:21:57

No more going to a movie for these poor folks.

Why not? Doesn’t HBB — daily — advocate “living within your means” and “cutting the iPhone” and other budget cuts? Maybe, even for a household of $150K+ income, they DO see the Olive Garden as a luxury. HBB should be praising that attitude, not mocking it.

[or, maybe they just have a big azz mortgage and 529s for the kids' college and they really did need that $260..]

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Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 15:28:28

I doubt they make that kind of money, not in a podunk town like that one.

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 08:51:38

Methinks that $260 a month includes extra gasoline expenses too. Those all American pickup trucks are thirsty boys.

I wonder if anyone in her hometown of Waycross, Ga makes $13K per month. From wikipedia:

“The median income for a household in the city was $23,399, and the median income for a family was $28,712. Males had a median income of $24,865 versus $18,750 for females.”

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 08:56:33

Those median incomes sound about right for a “right to work” state :)

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Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 10:02:45

Where 50%+ of households get SNAP cards.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 08:01:37

Related story from the Wall Street Journal - Payroll Tax Whacks Spending:


Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 10:04:18

The payroll tax holiday reminds me of a loan with a balloon payment. It sounds good at first, until the day of reckoning arrives.

Comment by ecofeco
2013-02-22 10:47:55

So really, it’s not affecting the customers so much as the retailers.

Yep, when the going gets tough, the Galts start whining.

Comment by Housing Analyst
2013-02-22 05:14:16

What’s really going on in California

California imposed a new law on banks innocuously called “Homeowners Bill of Rights” which forces banks to switch over to a judicial foreclosure process, which they can opt to do on their own, but takes a year or more to renegotiate contracts and compensation structures for the foreclosure law firms who do all the leg work for the banks. And while those changes are being made… it makes it appear that foreclosures have slowed down dramatically in the state.

The reality?

Defaults (undeclared) are spiraling upward that yet have to pass through the foreclosure pipeline.

The truth?

California is still the highest foreclosure state in sheer volume and percentage.

The low-down?

Resale housing is still massively overpriced as a result of unprecedented interference by individual states and the federal government. The market distortions will be removed and the down draft will continue allowing the market to correct.

If you play with fire, you will get burned.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 07:25:45

“What’s really going on in California”

Albert Hammond - It never rains in southern California + … - YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqMEEvmfyQU - 236k

Seems they don`t foreclose in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
They don`t foreclose in California
But girl don’t they warn ya
You have the ability to responsibly navigate the loan modification and foreclosure process

Out of work, I’m out of my head
Out of self respect, I’m out of bread
I’m underloved, I’m underfed, I wanna free home
They don`t foreclose in California
But girl don’t they warn ya
Families who are losing their homes through no fault of their own have reforms which give them the ability to responsibly navigate the loan modification and foreclosure process

[Instrumental Interlude]

Will you tell Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) I nearly made it
Had offers but didn’t know which one to take
Please don’t tell him how you found me
Don’t tell him how you found me
Gimme a break, give me a break

Seems they don`t foreclose in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
They don`t foreclose in California
But girl don’t they warn ya
You have the ability to responsibly navigate the loan modification and foreclosure process

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 08:36:28

Love this song.

For some reason I thought it was the Mamas and Papas.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 08:52:38

ISTR that the Mammas and the Papas had broken up before the above song was released. But feel free to correct me on this point.

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Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 09:18:03

I think the Mamas and Papas did….

California squatin on such a winters day.

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Comment by oxide
2013-02-22 06:23:28

Word is, there’s a 99% chance of sequester. The bosses in our little section of government have been conducting budget exercises to figure out how to deal with it, and yes, it involves cutting contracting.

Also, there’s a possibility of a government shutdown because the continuing resolution hasn’t been renewed, and a budget hasn’t been passed.

It’s a little surprising that both the media and congress have been relatively quiet, compared to the coverage of the fiscal cliff. I guess pay cuts and job losses aren’t as important as taxes on the rich.

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-02-22 07:41:55

Check this out:

‘My alternative plan cancels the haphazard cuts scheduled to begin next month and reduces spending in a smarter and safer way by more than $500 billion during the next decade.’

Look at number 14:

‘14. $1.8 billion. Spend less on military bands.’

Not the bands! First it was the Blue Angels, and now the bands?

And this:

‘the defense budget contains hundreds of billions of dollars for new generations of aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, tanks that even the Army says it doesn’t need and combat vehicles too heavy to maneuver in desert sands or cross most bridges in Asia, Africa or the Middle East.’

Comment by Blue Skye
2013-02-22 07:54:05

An army without music is like a day without sunshine.

Comment by Neuromance
2013-02-22 11:57:49

You’re not kidding.

ANY reasonable observer might have thought Bill Millin was unarmed as he jumped off the landing ramp at Sword Beach, in Normandy, on June 6th 1944. Unlike his colleagues, the pale 21-year-old held no rifle in his hands.

But Mr Millin was not unarmed; far from it. He held his pipes, high over his head at first to keep them from the wet (for while whisky was said to be good for the bag, salt water wasn’t), then cradled in his arms to play.

His playing had been planned as part of the operation. On commando training near Fort William he had struck up a friendship with Lord Lovat, the officer in charge of the 1st Special Service Brigade … In this “greatest invasion in history”, Lovat wanted pipes to lead the way.

He was ordering now, as they waded up Sword Beach, in that drawly voice of his: “Give us a tune, piper.” Mr Millin thought him a mad bastard. The man beside him, on the point of jumping off, had taken a bullet in the face and gone under. But there was Lovat, strolling through fire quite calmly in his aristocratic way, allegedly wearing a monogrammed white pullover under his jacket and carrying an ancient Winchester rifle, so if he was mad Mr Millin thought he might as well be ridiculous too, and struck up “Hielan’ Laddie”. Lovat approved it with a thumbs-up, and asked for “The Road to the Isles”. Mr Millin inquired, half-joking, whether he should walk up and down in the traditional way of pipers. “Oh, yes. That would be lovely.”

Three times therefore he walked up and down at the edge of the sea. He remembered the sand shaking under his feet from mortar fire and the dead bodies rolling in the surf, against his legs. For the rest of the day, whenever required, he played. He piped the advancing troops along the raised road by the Caen canal, seeing the flashes from the rifle of a sniper about 100 yards ahead, noticing only after a minute or so that everyone behind him had hit the deck in the dust. When Lovat had dispatched the sniper, he struck up again. He led the company down the main street of Bénouville playing “Blue Bonnets over the Border”, refusing to run when the commander of 6 Commando urged him to; pipers walked as they played.


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Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 12:07:51

Was he the only piper playing on D-Day? Or the only one who lived to tell the tale?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 08:09:40

‘14. $1.8 billion. Spend less on military bands.’

I was wondering about that last night as we attended a Navy Band concert in SoCal.

Comment by HBB_Rocks
2013-02-22 09:00:29

They are going to have to march into battle lead by a cassette tape boombox of “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, since that is the only cassette they could find that hadn’t melted.


Blam blam bang!!!!

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2013-02-22 11:08:48

That pesky debt clock on his page is moving WAY too fast for his $50B per year cuts.

Comment by oxide
2013-02-22 14:38:00

The best budget cut would be single-payer health care. All that money that healthy workers pay to private insurance companies would be diverted to the Treasury to boost Medicare. Private health insurance is a huge middleman.

Of course, there would be some jobs lost because of the increased efficiency in the paperwork.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 15:49:46

I second this suggestion.

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Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-22 15:53:57

And some 0.01%ers would lose a LOT of money.

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Comment by ahansen
2013-02-22 23:54:18

Thanks for this link. $180 MILLION a year on John Phillip Sousa bands?! Unfreakingbelievable.

That could fund all the major symphony orchestras in America. And a couple of ballet companies to boot.

Comment by Montana
2013-02-22 09:36:19

I see sequestration fear-mongering stories all the time, especially locally. All the horrible things that will happen! I’m too numb to worry about it. I’m just glad my 401k is out of market and on its way to my IRA right now.

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-02-22 09:59:02

‘All the horrible things that will happen!’

Here’s what I don’t get; remember before the election, when we were told the debt wasn’t a problem because we owe it to ourselves? That all we needed to do was concoct a phoney war with space aliens and we’d solve all these money problems?

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 06:26:32

Vets Receiving Letters Telling Them to Disarm

Veterans Receive Letters from Dept. of Vet. Affairs Prohibiting Possession of Firearms or Ammunition.

February 21, 2013

http://planet.infowars.com/guns/vets-receiving-letters-telling-them-to-disarm -

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 07:04:14

I know an Iraq vet who took the bait last year. He had talked to a buddy he served with and was told what to say to get the cheese. He is a gun enthusiast so I asked him about the possibility that they could make him give up his collection. He said no I checked that first, if they did I wouldn`t have done it.

It`s starting to look like he and many of his buddies sold their 2nd amendment rights for about $1,200-$1,400 a month. Now I am starting to think after the confiscation their benes will be cut, I mean $5 billion will only go so far when you are writing 400,000 checks a month.

V.A. Is Easing Rules to Cover Stress Disorder

Published: July 7, 2010

The government is preparing to issue new rules that will make it substantially easier for veterans who have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder to receive disability benefits, a change that could affect hundreds of thousands of veterans from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

The regulations from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will take effect as early as Monday and cost as much as $5 billion over several years according to Congressional analysts, will essentially eliminate a requirement that veterans document specific events like bomb blasts, firefights or mortar attacks that might have caused P.T.S.D., an illness characterized by emotional numbness, irritability and flashbacks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/us/08vets.html - -

Almost half of new vets seek disability - Health - Health care | NBC …
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/47583746/ns/health-health_care/ - 76k - Cached - Similar pages
May 27, 2012 … America’s newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be … Rise may be due to more surviving than in past, growing awareness of PTSD …. 400,000 new vets treated for mental health issues …

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 07:44:56

A nearby neighbor is a PTSD veteran. Trust me, he is NOT the sort of person you want to see armed. Believe me, you would be in peril if he was.

I’ve heard him talking about getting his ability to carry back and this process has something to do with his ongoing mental health care at the local VA. Every time I hear him mention this topic, I silently hope that the VA will continue to keep things as they have been. As in, no guns for my neighbor.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 08:04:57

No doubt there are vets like this, there is also little doubt that the “new rules” introduced in 2010 drew many in for the cheese to the point that they told each other what to say to get it (bad dreams etc.).

“The government is preparing to issue new rules that will make it substantially easier for veterans who have been found to have post-traumatic stress disorder to receive disability benefits,”

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Comment by Montana
2013-02-22 09:39:41

Trouble is, I’ve noticed that people aspiring for disability wind up meeting the specs, probably to justify themselves. Either that or the meds they take to go along with the diagnosis perturb their brain chemistry and start to whack them out. Or both.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 11:42:36

Trust me, he is NOT the sort of person you want to see armed. Believe me, you would be in peril if he was.
I know a great many people I wouldn’t want to see armed, not just PTSD-afflicted veterans either. I know quite a few I don’t even want to see driving a car or pushing shopping carts around.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 07:58:38

It’s an interesting question. Should people with PTSD have guns? After the last mass shooting, we were told (by the pro-gun lobby, amongst others) that we needed to do more to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Isn’t this doing just that?

Comment by Ben Jones
2013-02-22 08:06:26

‘Should people with PTSD have guns?’

In recent years, if someone applying for the military had known mental problems or drug addiction, they got in 80% of the time. We never minded giving these people guns and sending them into Iraq or Afghanistan. Have you not heard of the thrill killers? The trophy collectors with finger necklaces? Heck they took pictures of it and emailed them around. Oh yeah, those stories only make it into German newspapers.

Anybody remember Abu Ghraib? Like this is news?

When I was leaving high school, the guys I knew who went into the military were violent losers who were probably going to end up in prison.

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Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 08:12:22

Anybody remember 2002?

The then memes du jour:

We have to fight “them” over there so we don’t have to fight them here

Let’s roll

Power of pride

They attacked us because they hate our freedoms

Et cetera…

Never underestimate the stoopidity of the American sheeple. NEVER.

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 08:52:33

We have to fight “them” over there so we don’t have to fight them here

They attacked us because they hate our freedoms

I never understood these two.

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 08:55:29

You forgot: “These colors don’t run”

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 09:00:30

“America Attacked”, “A Nation United” (ABC)
“Attack on America” (NBC)
“A Nation Challenged”, “Day of Terror”, “Portraits of Grief” (The New York Times)
“America’s New War”, “War Against Terror”, “America under Attack” (CNN)
“War on Terror” (Fox News)
“America on Alert”, “America under Attack” (MSNBC)
“The Second Pearl Harbor” (Honolulu Advertiser)
“War On America” (The Daily Telegraph)

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 09:02:33

Honk if you support military.

And I honked. I am ashamed to say it now.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 09:03:45

And it’s not about GWB. The sheeple would have been whipped into a warmongering frenzy just as easily had Al Gore been president.

“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter” — Winston Churchill

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 09:05:01

The worst had to be the term “Osama Bin Laden”.

They just picked a scary looking (mostly innocent IMO) guy and spent all these resources/lives for nothing. I mean the sheer stupidity of this country’s leaders…….

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 09:08:43

“The Second Pearl Harbor”

The same language as appeared in a 1996 Project For The New American Century policy paper.

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 09:09:27

And it’s not about GWB. The sheeple would have been whipped into a warmongering frenzy just as easily had Al Gore been president.

You are being kind goon. It’s about GW and the neocons’ hidden agenda. I think war is the only reason GW got barely reelected second time. Of course it ruined the R party and finds itself in such a poor shape.

Actions have consequences, MOFOs!

Comment by eight pieces of chicken
2013-02-22 09:14:34

Another gem.

He kept America safe.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 09:34:26

Another gem is “security moms” which emerged during the 2004 election.


We lived in Cincinnati in 2004, in Rep. Jean “Marines don’t cut and run” Schmidt’s district. The strength of the warmongering koolaid consumed there was apparent in the almost cult worship of this local who went missing in Iraq in 2004:


Comment by Northeastener
2013-02-22 09:02:25

It’s not as simple as that. PTSD is a complicated disorder that can impact different people in different ways.

My daughter and I watched “Glory Hounds” last night. For those who don’t know, it is a documentary-style show following K-9 teams in Afghanistan. Those K-9 teams are primarily used to sniff out IED’s and Explosives caches. Seems trained dogs are well-equipped to find IED’s so the Taliban does everything it can to target the dogs and their handlers in attacks.

One scene in particular was disturbing and brought tears to my daughters eyes: during a patrol, a marine and his dog were targeted by Taliban insurgents, a hand grenade was thrown and it landed between the dog and his handler. The K-9 team tried to get to cover, but the grenade exploded and the dog was killed. The footage from the camera attached to the dog’s harness showed the dog trying to get back to his handler, the explosion, the dog crying out and then lying down and dying.

The young marine handler was devastated. I guarantee he has some form of PTSD, as his closest companion was killed right in front of him. Now the question becomes, should that marine, who was given an M4 carbine to use in Afghanistan, be allowed to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights and own firearms here in the US, given he experienced hell in combat and probably suffers some form of mental illness associated with the experience? Again, I say there is no simple answer.

He is a veteran and deserves to be honored for his service, not feared because he may be mentally unstable. But at what cost to society at large? I say you cannot group them together and if a decision is made to limit their constitutional rights, then it should be done on a case-by-case basis.

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Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-22 10:07:56

All of this “What are we going to do with trained killers?” talk is nothing new.

In William Manchester’s book “Goodbye, Darkness” he talks about the debate polite society was having about what to do with the WWII Marines returning from the Pacific.

Some suggested sending them to the Panama Canal Zone for detox/deprogramming. Others suggested that returning combat vets be branded, with something like the USMC “Raider Patch”.

Of course, most WWII servicemen were not looking to become a lifer in the military, had started careers or college, and had something to come back to.

I’ve seen the same thing with guys who were going through some kind of personal crisis at work. Their job gave them something else to think about besides their problems. And their buddies at work acted as unpaid support groups and counselors.

Of course, we are failing miserably at that. No jobs, except Lucky Duck jobs. No college, without going into hock. And no jobs, even if you do graduate.

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-22 11:13:11

That’s true. Just give them a purpose and a way to support a family and 99% of them will be fine. But we’ve screwed up our ability to do that AND we’re scared to death of the other 1%…or at least somebody wants us to be scared to death.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 11:39:33

Just give them a purpose and a way to support a family and 99% of them will be fine
That wisdom applies to more than just PTSD-afflicted veterans. The USA is engaged in a great experiment to teach ourselves what happens when an economy is hollowed-out and future generations lose their purpose and their way to have & support a family. The Oligarchy need not worry about this.

Comment by m2p
2013-02-22 18:24:38

but the grenade exploded and the dog was killed

I watched “Glory Hounds” today. After that scene I had to stop the DVR and give my GSD a huge hug. For the record GSD’s are not big on hugging because they are always looking out for you. That just made me squeeze him more.

Comment by Salinasron
2013-02-22 08:04:19

Interesting on the gun control issue. I’m a Vietnam vet. I was an avid hunter before the conflict; when I returned home I got rid of all my guns. Do I have PTSD? I’ve been told that I do, but that’s not why I got rid of my guns. I got rid of them because I don’t need a gun to defend myself in this country at this time. I will however do all I can to protect the rights of others to arm themselves.

Comment by Spook
2013-02-22 10:20:46

You went to Nam?

Do you know how many, if any; people you killed?

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Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-22 11:05:41

“Can’t remember who I killed first……

But I know whose going to be last.”

Comment by ahansen
2013-02-23 00:13:50

Until we stop “honoring” people for their “service”, the idiocy will continue.

How interesting that we’re more concerned about some poor dumb dog than we are about the quarter million kids in other people’s countries we’ve killed over the last decade. For money.

Comment by jane
2013-02-23 06:42:14

ahansen, respectfully, IMHO there is a need for an entity such as the military to absorb hundreds of thousands of disaffected yout’. I don’t see our current crop of ‘policymakers’ ever having the capability to think long term enough to resurrect a large organization, such as the Civ Conservation Corps, to serve the same purpose.

If by some miracle one were to be proposed and moved forward, the entity would have to contend with the ‘entitlement interests’, loudly protesting the conditions the neo-CCC workers would endure (they lived in dorms), and the similarity to incarceration (the workers work hard for very little pay; no alcohol; no drugs; no guns; evening study groups for HS diplomas).

That will be the flag before the bull, bringing out the ACLU, NAACP and Aztlan lobby. A way forward will be used as a grandstanding platform, and will be doomed - closing off a channel for the collective energies of said yout’.

There’s just too many people and not enough productive stuff to do.

I would agree if your position wer that overall, the govt needs slimming down. Despite the “public service” hype, many agencies do little other than to service their own bureaucracies - and there is this imperial drive for expansion. A series of periodic reductions would go a long way to address the insularity, IMO. Consider your own situation, where, despite having fed the beast your entire life, there was no ROI for you in your hour of need. You were tooled over by the private sector, with which the policy-makers are in bed. As for the rest of the million or so public servants in the health care/insurance regulatory sectors - well, the bureaucracies service themselves, mainly, with sinecures.

AT LEAST the military promotes retention of some core engineering and STEM capability in the land. You can’t build a system of any kind with a dismal national reading comprehension and math proficiency level.

We will all be affected, of course, in one way or another. and not in a good way (paycheck-wise). There’s a backlash against government workers and contractors, who have in fact been insulated from the devastation wrought upon the middle class over the past generation, and emphatically over the past five years. Said demographic has not done itself any favors by having been seen to live high on the hog on the backs of of joe and jane sixpack. Not talking about DC alone, here.

Onr ray of hope: the real-t-whores wouldn’t skip a beat, they’ll still be shilling up prices in the DC area even after a Siberian event. 20% salary reductions/UE rates will translate into shrill entreaties to “buy now or be priced out forever!” We may hope that the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust.

Comment by ahansen
2013-02-24 16:09:55

Jane, As always, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Too bad we must post them “after hours”.

My contention is that our military system should be gradually repurposed towards domestic infrastructure needs instead of the exigencies of empire. No need to eliminate it — or even to cut back recruitment all that drastically, as it does everything you say in providing employment to the otherwise unemployable– we just need to redirect its purpose.

Yes, we need a national guard to protect our borders, and yes, we need special forces for international police actions. There will still be a need for trained people to operate and maintain defensive systems, but the vast preponderance of the Pentagon’s budget goes to civilian support and weapons procurement — and to maintain foreign bases and “allies”.

Why not retrain all those “youts” in an apprentice-style enlistments geared toward non-aggressive enterprise? (See the forest service and State Fire Suppression programs as templates. They “employ” juvenile offenders and the “at risk” in voluntary military-style training programs that eventually lead to outside employment.) Instead of teaching kids to drive ammunition trucks, teach them to drive big rigs and school buses. Spread sheets are spread sheets, whether they’re inventorying DE mortar shells or Douglas Fir seedlings. Replace AR16’s with nail guns, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles with motor-graders.

There is plenty of work to do, but we’re doing it in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya instead of here at home. KBR, Blackwater, and the lot could be a lot more efficiently employed building the same roads, hospitals, schools, grids, supply networks etc. here in the US than building and supplying them everywhere else on the planet at ten times the cost. Instead of training foreign bureaucrats and functionaries to rebuild in our image, why not spend that time and money training them here at home?

But then, that’s rather their intention, isn’t it? Better for their shareholders and the bottom lines of their cronies to supply gasoline at $17/gallon to vehicles that get <1km/gal, than to supply that same fuel here at home for $3.49/gallon to vehicles that get 35mpg. Better to create discord and civic contention to suppress than keep one’s nose out of other people’s business (and natural resources) in the first place.

So what to do with “them”:

Thirty+ years of domination by chain franchises, and corporate supply streams from 12,000 miles away have ravaged our civic infrastructures and local economic systems. The one-size-fits-all model has been shown to be a miserable failure — not in all systems certainly, but in a great number of those with localized needs and cultural preferences.

Rather than employing our military as armed aggressors, why not utilize the bulk of that labor rebuilding our main streets, schools, parks, highways, public buildings, electrical, water and irrigation, agricultural, public safety, forestry, ports, etc.? I’m not just talking about the grunts, I’m talking about the vast contractor network that supports them.

Same organization, same hierarchy, same systemic models, same enlistees and pay scales; just with a different mission and vastly different beneficiaries; the American public rather than private empire.

If you’d like to continue any conversation off-site, I’m at dvsntt at bnis dot network. Hate to miss your comments because I’ve not checked the previous day’s BB.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 09:14:46

December 5, 2012
By: Patricia Campion

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, wants veterans who have been deemed “mentally incompetent” to have their cases adjudicated by a judge — rather than the Department of Veterans Affairs, as happens currently — and argued that veterans who simply cannot support themselves financially are needlessly given the label and, as such, cannot buy or possess firearms.

“We’re not asking for anything big,” Coburn explained on the Senate floor Thursday. “We’re just saying that if you’re going to take away the Second Amendment rights — they ought to have it adjudicated, rather than mandated by someone who’s unqualified to state that they should lose their rights.”

However, as soon as New York Democrat Sen. Charles E. Schumer discovered that Coburn’s pitch was part of a bundle of amendments tucked into the NDAA, he quickly objected.

“I love our veterans,” Schumer prefaced his opinion. “I vote for them all the time, they defend us.”

“But if you are mentally ill, whether you’re a veteran or not, just like if you’re a felon, if you’re a veteran or not, and you have been judged to be mentally infirm, you should not have a gun.

http://www.examiner.com/article/senate-democrats-protect-administration-s-right-to-strip-ptsd-vets-of-guns - 75k -

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 11:45:01

Anyone who votes for an incumbent is, IMNSHO, mentally incompetent & should lose their right to vote in any future election.

Comment by oxide
2013-02-22 12:37:49

someone who’s unqualified to state that they should lose their rights.

So how are court judges more qualified to make this determination than someone at the VA? That’s a real question, not snark.

Does the VA have some rating system for PTSD? Is there a process for a vet to appeal — perhaps to an adjudication court equivalent already in the VA? And what qualifications do the judges have? What if the judge is a gun nut political appointee, overrides the VA, allows a vet to have a gun, and the vet goes on a spree? Can the judge be charged with accessory?

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 15:17:59

I guess my point was that these new 2010 rules that made it substantially easier to be found to have post-traumatic stress disorder and receive disability benefits were brought to you by the same people who gave us the “Fast and Furious” scandal which documents have been sealed by executive order. All done IMHO with the end game of gun confiscation in mind.

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Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 15:36:04

Just can`t figure out why this story can not be found on any national media outlets.

Decorated Combat Veteran Arrested: Charged With 5 Felonies For Possession of AR Magazines

Robert Richardson
Feb 1, 2013

In the latest attack on the American people, a decorated War Hero has been arrested and charged with five counts of third degree criminal possession of a weapon, for having empty 30 round AR-15 Magazines in his vehicle.

On Sunday January 6th Staff Sgt. Nathan Haddad, a decorated combat veteran, was driving through Jefferson County New York when he was randomly pulled over for a vehicle check. Haddad, who had five 30 round empty magazines in his possession, was arrested by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and charged with five felony counts.

According to Haddad’s brother, Michael Haddad, Nathan thought these magazines were legally made before the New York Assault Weapons Ban. When Nathan Haddad was arrested the new ban had not even been fully enacted yet.

This is not a criminal, this is not some thug looking to hurt people; this is a decorated combat veteran who was recently honored by the Philadelphia chapter of Blue Star Mothers and the Union League’s Armed Services Council for helping disabled vets get back on their feet. What’s happening to Army veteran Nate Haddad is an absolute attack on liberty. Here we have a man who honorably served his country, who was trusted with weaponry that far exceeded anything he was carrying, that now finds himself facing the possibility of spending years in prison.

Still think these gun control laws are meant to stop criminals?

Nathan Haddad’s brother has set up a legal defense fund for his brother who cannot afford to fight these charges on his own. We ask that you share this story with everyone you know so that this attack on Hassad is seen for what it is, an attack on every law abiding citizen in America.

This article was posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 at 5:55 am

http://www.infowars.com/decorated-combat-veteran-arrested-in-new-york-charged-with-5-felonies-for-possession-of-ar-magazines/ - 93k

Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 16:45:07

brought to you by the same people who gave us the “Fast and Furious” scandal which documents have been sealed by executive order. All done IMHO with the end game of gun confiscation in mind.

The GWBush administration?

redirect from Fast and Furious

The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran a series of “gunwalking” sting operations[2][3] between 2006 [4]and 2011.[2][5]

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 17:45:42

President Obama Falsely Claims Fast and Furious Program “Begun Under the Previous Administration”

Sep 21, 2012 11:39am

Asked about the Fast and Furious program at the Univision forum on Thursday, President Obama falsely claimed that the program began under President George W. Bush.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program begun under the previous administration,” the president said. “When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it. We assigned a inspector general to do a thorough report that was just issued, confirming that in fact Eric Holder did not know about this, that he took prompt action and the people who did initiate this were held accountable.”

In actuality, the Fast and Furious program was started in October 2009, nine months into the Obama presidency.

Previous programs involving ATF agents allowing guns to “walk” across the border so as to trace them were run during the Bush presidency, but not this particular “field-initiated program.”

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/09/president-obama-falsely-claims-fast-and-furious-program-begun-under-the-previous-administration/ - -

Is Fast and Furious the Next Watergate? Katie Pavlich has written an extraordinary expose, “Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and its Shameless Cover-Up” (Regnery Publishing). Pavlich, a reporter with extensive contacts within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), has meticulously documented a story that should result in contempt of Congress action against Attorney General Eric Holder and possibly Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano as well. It is an appalling story of arrogance, stupidity, and the intimidation of ATF agents who dared to question and expose the operation. It is a story of deception at the highest levels of our government.

http://www.akdart.com/obama93.html - 422k

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 18:39:14

More ‘Fast and Furious’ Guns Linked to Mexican Crimes

By ABC News
By Jake Tapper, Devin Dwyer and Jason Ryan
Oct 1, 2012 1:00pm

A new report by our partners at Univision has found additional links between violent crimes in Mexico and guns involved in the Obama administration’s flawed “Fast and Furious” operation.

Fifty-seven previously unidentified weapons tied to the operation — allowed to “walk” across the U.S. border into Mexico so ATF agents could trace them – were later found at the sites of murders, kidnappings and at “two gruesome massacres,” Univision’s Gerardo Reyes and Santiago Wills report.

The reporters made the discovery by cross-referencing a list of guns registered with “Fast and Furious” and a Mexican government list of the roughly 60,000 guns recovered at crime scenes in 2009 and 2010.

In July, a congressional investigation into the program reported 122 weapons had been traced to Mexican crime scenes. The Univision report adds 57 weapons to that list.

Asked for comment on the report, a Justice Department official noted to ABC News that the Attorney General “testified several times about the tragic consequences of this flawed investigation” and that he “put a stop to these flawed field tactics that began many years ago (2006) and instituted new leadership at ATF as well as key reforms that require stronger oversight of investigations.”

Holder has testified that about 800 weapons – mostly AK-47s and high-powered handguns – had been recovered from “Fast and Furious.” An estimated 1,200 guns from the program are still unaccounted for.

Last month the Justice Department Inspector General released a 450-page report documenting shortcomings of the gun-walking program and administration oversight of it since its initiation in October 2009. The program has since been discontinued.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/10/more-fast-and-furious-guns-linked-to-mexican-crimes/ -

Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 18:40:14

Previous programs involving ATF agents allowing guns to “walk” across the border so as to trace them were run during the Bush presidency, but not this particular “field-initiated program.”

The same thing was done but it had a different name, and wasn’t “field-initiated”- which of course means it was thought up by field agents, not top officials conspiring to take your guns away.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 18:51:29

Obama asserts executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents

10:00 AM 06/20/2012

President Barack Obama has asserted executive privilege over documents pertaining to Operation Fast and Furious. The move followed Attorney General Eric Holder’s last-second request for him to do so, ahead of a scheduled House oversight committee vote to begin contempt of Congress proceedings against Holder.

Obama granted the 11th-hour request after negotiations between Holder and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, fell apart again on Tuesday evening after a 20-minute meeting. Holder had agreed beforehand that he would provide internal DOJ documents to Issa ahead of the meeting. He did not bring the documents. On Tuesday evening, Issa gave him one final chance to provide the documents before the 10 a.m. scheduled vote to hold Holder in contempt.

Holder again did not provide the documents to Congress. Then, on Wednesday morning, minutes before the meeting, it was announced Obama had agreed to assert executive privilege over those documents.

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz said “it’s sad” and “it’s disappointing” that this scandal has “come to this.”

“This isn’t about Holder, this is about the Department of Justice and justice in the United States of America,” Chaffetz said. “I hope we have the guts and the perseverance to get to the bottom of this. We have 2,000 weapons purposely given to drug cartels. We have a moral obligation to get to the bottom of this.”

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy said the “assertion of executive privilege is legally compromised and calculated solely to delay Congress from exercising its constitutional responsibility to provide oversight.”

“An American Border Patrol Agent and hundreds of Mexican citizens have lost their lives because of Operation Fast and Furious,”

“The President claims he knew nothing about Fast and Furious prior to Agent Brian Terry’s murder and no one at the Department of Justice has suggested the President was part of the drafting of a demonstrably false letter dated February 4, 2011, to a committee of congress,” Gowdy said before laying out a serious of questions to Obama himself:

“So, my question to the President is: What are you asserting privilege over? Did you know about Fast and Furious before Brian Terry’s murder? Did you approve the operation? Did you participate in the drafting of a false letter to congress? Unless the answer to all of those questions is yes, there is no matter over which the President can assert privilege. It is merely the latest ploy to delay the investigation.”

http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/20/holder-asks-obama-to-assert-executive-privilege-over-fast-and-furious-documents/ - 96k -

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 19:05:20

“Previous programs involving ATF agents allowing guns to “walk” across the border so as to trace them were run during the Bush presidency, but not this particular “field-initiated program.”

“In actuality, the Fast and Furious program was started in October 2009, nine months into the Obama presidency.”

One has to wonder why a president would assert executive privilege over a “field-initiated program”.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 19:10:28

Are guns illegal under sharia law?

Comment by ahansen
2013-02-23 00:19:11

“…this is not some thug looking to hurt people; this is a decorated combat veteran….”

My jaw is still agape.

Comment by ahansen
2013-02-23 00:02:31

Sorry, if you’re so disturbed you have to be treated for PTSD and expect to receive lifetime “disability” benefits because of it, you’re too screwed up to be playing with firearms.

You don’t get it both ways, soldier.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-23 07:59:08

“You don’t get it both ways, soldier.”

That is where I leave the soldier`s side. Very much like someone who refied their $150k house and took out $400k in “equity” while still wanting to be a victim that was taken advantage of by an evil banker and robo signed.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 07:38:21

Zombie foreclosures: Borrowers hit with debts that won’t die

By Les Christie @CNNMoney February 20, 2013: 2:22 PM ET

Even though Christopher Warner’s mortgage debt was extinguished upon his foreclosure, debt collectors are still seeking $120,000.

http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/20/real_estate/zombie-foreclosures/index.html - 69k -

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 08:04:30

Once again, debt collectors trying to get blood from the proverbial turnip. Wait ’til Strike Debt starts gaining momentum.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 08:06:52


“Vestas Wind Systems — which operates four factories in Colorado employing 1,100 people — is cutting about 110 jobs from its blade factories in Windsor and Brighton.

The move comes in response to a drop in orders as the federal production-tax credit, or PTC, extension, would result in a significant reduction in 2013 installations, the company said.”


Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 10:34:03

Those Vestas jobs don’t even pay that well, about $15/hr IIRC. And they are semi-skilled to skilled positions. No wonder everyone jumped onto the housing bandwagon when the bubble was in full swing. Why work for $15/hr at a job that requires some math and computer literacy when you could make 3x that laying tile or doing trim carpentry? (I know more than a few tradesmen with big houses and the requisite boat and F-350 in the driveway)

Comment by Brett
2013-02-22 08:12:33

Nothing is stopping this recover!


Inventory is extremely low, experts and agents say, and buyers who don’t act quickly will lose out.

The local market featured 2.5 months of supply in January 2013, the lowest inventory figure seen in the Austin area in the past decade.

“I’m busier than I’ve been in four years,” Bills said. “It’s become a seller’s market because the inventory just isn’t there.” She said it has become common for three-bedroom homes in Central Austin that are priced below $500,000 to receive multiple offers and sell quickly, she said.

Bills said the demand is being driven by families relocating to Austin from California, New York and Chicago, among other cities. “They’re in the health care industry, gaming and high-tech, and it’s frustrating because they have a decent amount of money and they can’t find anything,” she said.

In a part of South Austin that includes the Westgate and Cherry Creek areas, only 28 homes are for sale in the $200,000 to $400,000 price range; in Travis Heights, 23 homes are on the market ranging in price from $315,000 to $950,000, “the lowest number of actives that I’ve seen since 2007,” Dillard said. In Hyde Park, north of UT, there are 34 listings ranging from $199,000 to $869,000.

Comment by Brett
2013-02-22 08:17:43

This makes me laugh… I am in the high tech industry with a good job job, have zero debts, my only bills are rent, cellphone, Internet and car insurance, and I am single!

And yet, these people moving into town to work in the same industry are able to afford $500k+ homes?? The rich folks from the east and west coast must be moving here then!

They mustn’t have been told we have a 2.38% property tax rate in Travis county…

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 08:59:09

I just don’t get paying that kind of dough for a house in hot, humid, central Texas.

Comment by Brett
2013-02-22 09:02:58

Or rainy Seattle. Or humid Florida. Or polluted LA. Or dirty, crowded NYC. Or cold Boston.

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Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 10:12:15

FWIW Florida is cheaper, and the places that aren’t are on the coast. Still wouldn’t live there.

Seattle? I don’t dig the rain and passed on a chance to move there. But I would take Seattle in a heartbeat over central Texas.

LA? The weather only goes so far. Which is why we left SoCal. Would still take it over central Texas.

NYC or Boston? I guess if you’re into “urban living” those places make sense.

But I’ve lived in central Texas. Never again.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 11:47:09

But I’ve lived in central Texas. Never again.
I lived a couple of years in Austin, back in the 1960’s, on E. Woodward Ave. between Congress & I-35. Loved it. Things must have changed a lot since then.

Comment by Northeastener
2013-02-22 09:06:08

They mustn’t have been told we have a 2.38% property tax rate in Travis county…

Wouldn’t this be offset by a lack of income tax?

Comment by Brett
2013-02-22 09:10:38

And we have a 8.25% sales tax!
And salaries are also adjusted; they’re lower than Cali, NYC, etc.

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Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 10:15:08

And salaries are also adjusted; they’re lower than Cali, NYC, etc

That’s low tax flyover’s little secret. Other than housing, everything costs the same here as in high income locations. And we are paid less … quite a bit less in some cases. And that’s in “vibrant” places like Austin or Denver.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-22 11:16:08

Out here in the Great American Desert, it’s easy to find a habitable house for the same price as a new Suburban/Tahoe.

And most of the Ducks can afford neither.

8-10% Sales taxes on everything, including food. Property taxes on homes and vehicles (a 12 year old car can still cost a couple of hundred bucks, plus the $35-50 tag fee. Income taxes. $4/gallon gas. Social Security’s cut. Federal taxes, if you aren’t “Head of Household”. Taxes/user fees are 12% of my cellphone bill.

Welcome to the “Nation of 1000 taxes”. And no pay raises…….in fact you are lucky of you don’t get a 30% cut.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 11:48:58

Welcome to the “Nation of 1000 taxes”. And no pay raises…….in fact you are lucky of you don’t get a 30% cut.
I thought you were going to write, “you are lucky you have any job at all.”

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 12:10:03

Quoted on Slashdot:

‘It sure beats washing cars,’ says Georgia State University graduate Landon Crider, 24, an in-house courier who, for $10 an hour, ferries documents back and forth between the courthouse and his company’s office.”

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 13:25:21

Unlucky duck in ABQ gets in the news:

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Kevin O’Leary, the server who recently went public about how his boss was stiffing employees on the recent minimum wage increase says the boss’s son showed up at his house with a bat and a machete.

About an hour after that whistleblower went to the media about his boss’ decision to not pay the new minimum wage; he says the boss’ son showed up at his door, ready to take batting practice.

When the owner’s son Andrew Szeman, who’s a manager at the restaurant, showed up at O’Leary’s home, O’Leary says he took things too far.
“Now, it’s not just an employment matter now it’s a matter of assault,” O’Leary said.

That’s because of what O’Leary says Szeman brought with him, a baseball bat and machete.

“I said to him, ‘what did you bring that for to bash my head in?’ His response was, “Well, I was going to at first but then I just wanted to talk to you,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary didn’t press charges against Andrew Szeman at first, but says he’s now in the process of doing so, and he’s trying to get a restraining order against him. He’s also planning on suing the malt shop over the wage issue and retaliation he claims he faced.

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-22 13:41:44

There are situations for which having a gun makes perfect sense. That sounds like one.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2013-02-22 13:48:26

Not an uncommon story with “local independent businessmen”.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 13:51:34

Not an uncommon story with “local independent businessmen”.
Over the decades I’ve met a fair number of NM independent businesspeople who seem to enjoy screwing their employees and customers more than they might enjoy making an honest profit.
I finally got my sister moved out of that state.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 14:43:38

Do you think the owner’s son considers the cost of that baseball bat & machete deductible?

Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 14:54:11

“I said to him, ‘what did you bring that for to bash my head in?’ His response was, “Well, I was going to at first but then I just wanted to talk to you,” O’Leary said.

Why on earth would you answer the door to someone carrying a bat and a machete? ‘Hi, how are you? Did you bring that to bash my head in?’

I can only assume he had no peephole.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 17:29:01

I never open my front door to anyone who is carrying a freshly severed human head.

Comment by rms
2013-02-22 08:24:32

On the road today servicing a client 150-miles away. Windshield time!

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 08:56:54

Well, lucky you! What music are you playing for the journey?

Comment by rms
2013-02-22 19:26:03

Well, lucky you! What music are you playing for the journey?

Crosby, Stills and Nash; Queen; Led Zeppelin; The Police; The Cars; The Beatles; Little River Band. I still use an aged but super clean titanium HP-2790C IPAQ with a 4-Gb CF card for MP3 storage.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 08:29:03

Let them eat i-pads:

“Four-year-old children in low-income families who receive free milk, fruit and vegetables through a U.S. government nutrition program might be turned away within weeks if federal spending cuts take effect March 1.

Administrators with the Women, Infants and Children program say they would have to trim their caseloads by 600,000 applicants or participants across the country because of the spending cuts. Four and five year olds would probably be affected before infants and toddlers, said Douglas Greenaway, president of the National WIC Association, a Washington nonprofit group.

Programs serving low-income women and children will be squeezed if President Barack Obama and Congress don’t reach agreement soon to avert the automatic spending cuts. Early childhood education, home heating assistance, housing vouchers, domestic violence prevention, nutrition and child-care programs would all be affected.”


Comment by palmetto
2013-02-22 09:56:42

Y’know, I hate to see kids go without. But the answer to this is two fold or more:

1) Decent paying jobs

2) If you can’t feed ‘em, don’t breed ‘em. I’m not talking about those who get laid off and fall on hard times, or have some other unforseen disaster, there should always be something in place to assist them. I’m talking about those who breed irresponsibly and then expect the gobmin to take care of them.

As to Head Start, eliminate it. That is one huge, expensive failure. The money spent on that could be better spent elsewhere.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 10:18:08

those who breed irresponsibly

There can be very little rational discussion on this topic without it devolving into “Republicans want to starve kids and kill grandma” versus “Obama wants to create a permanent underclass dependant on government”, both of those go nowhere.

Consider the following facts:

The economy is not and will not be recovering. Higher prices and lower living standards for the majority in USA is the new normal.

Lucky Duckies will not stop f*cking and breeding. The rightwing fundies support unlimited breeding, and the libtards would declare any restrictions on breeding as Racist®.

The option is to feed and skool these dumb kidz now, or pay $60,000/year to incarcerate them later (plus the “externality” costs of their criminal behavior.

Commie/Marxist joe smith has commented eloquently on this subject before here.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 11:50:20

The economy is not and will not be recovering.
You can say that again.

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Comment by measton
2013-02-22 11:15:30

I’m not talking about those who get laid off and fall on hard times, or have some other unforseen disaster,

Disaster as in
Rising health insurance premiums
Rising Gas prices
Rising Food prices.

When the kids were born the math may have worked out but it may not work out now even if you still have a job.

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 11:19:07

Those kidz should all just get jobs working as janitors at their preschools if they can’t afford food.

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Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 13:36:35

They’ll be competing with college grads for those minimum wage jobs

Comment by 2banana
2013-02-22 15:41:49

Bigger and bigger government


higher and higher taxes

will solve the problem.

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Comment by measton
2013-02-22 17:18:22

Yes we know the third world elites control everything model works wonders????

Comment by polly
2013-02-22 13:30:24

There are ways to cut WIC that won’t result in any kids starving.

Kids in foster care are automatically eligible for WIC. It is part of the compensation/defrayal of costs that foster parents get. However, if those kids are adopted, they remain eligible for WIC until they age out on their 6th birthday. My uncle and his husband adopted all their kids from foster care well before they turned 6, but continued to get WIC for all of them. They asked about stopping the deliveries, but were asked to keep them by Vermont social services because if they stopped it and the state didn’t use up its whole allocation, then the allocation would go down and the next year (when they might need all of it) it wouldn’t be there.

Figuring out a way to fix this incredibly dumb quirk of government funding of social programs is going to be hard, though. The only way I can figure to do it is to actually fully fund all the eligible participants so states don’t have to keep people who are eligible, but don’t really want it on the roles to preserver their chunk of the funding.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 16:44:48

“Programs serving low-income women and children will be squeezed if President Barack Obama and Congress don’t reach agreement soon to avert the automatic spending cuts.”

How can all this horrible sh#t happen when the spending cuts amount to a spending increase of $15 billion over last year. Who was that guy that was mentioned about using the press to herd the sheep in the U.S.?

By Chris Stirewalt
Published February 22, 2013

The effect of the dreaded “sequester” is a budgetary fleabite to the ever-expanding national debt.

Spending will actually increase this year even with the automatic reductions – about $15 billion more than 2012 according to CBO estimates.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/22/on-sequester-worse-better-for-obama/ - -

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 08:51:18

Jimmy Carter: President Obama thanked my grandson for ‘47 percent’ tape
By KEVIN CIRILLI | 2/21/13 7:29 PM EST

Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that President Barack Obama thanked his grandson James Carter IV last week for being involved in the public release of the video tape of Mitt Romney making his infamous comments about “47 percent” of Americans.

“When James went to meet President Obama, President Obama ran across the room, embraced him and thanked him profusely for his time, by the way,” Carter told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview.

Carter added: “I don’t think he said ‘winning the election’ but thank you for helping me with the election. I don’t know exactly what the words were.”

The former president told Morgan that Romney was not able to distance himself from the comments, in which he said at private Florida fundraiser last May that “47 percent” of Americans were “dependent” on the government and would vote for Obama no matter what.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2013-02-22 09:00:15

How this got into the hands of James the Forth is a story in itself. Details, details, por favor…

Be that as it may, you have to be pretty careful when you’re speaking in public. Because at least one audience member is going to have that video phone out.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 09:34:26

“…you have to be pretty careful when you’re speaking in public…”

You would think a national political figure with competent handlers would be aware of this risk and act accordingly.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2013-02-22 09:38:59

The best moments in the Romney campaign were either “off the record” or else passing remarks which he later disowned.

Cases in point:

1) LV remark about letting foreclosures bottom out

2) Suggestion to rein in the mortgage interest deduction

You didn’t hear much about these in the waning days of the presidential campaign, did you?

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Comment by Montana
2013-02-22 09:49:50

Yep. He should have owned it FTW. 53%, bay-bee!

Comment by 2banana
2013-02-22 15:23:02

I am personally enjoying the obama housing bubble v2.0.

Especially watching the kool-aid drinking progressives/liberals defend our Nobel peace prize winning president.

Whether he drone attacks and kills kids
or adds another American citizen to the kill list
or re-inflates the housing bubble

Comment by goon squad
2013-02-22 09:17:38

Another one for the COEXIST koolaid drinkers, because “our differences only make us stronger™.”

6 Sought in Anti-Gay Subway Attack:


Comment by Spook
2013-02-22 10:32:35

“The ensuing argument escalated into an alleged physical assault on the victim by the woman who had started the altercation,”

there is nothing worse than a woman who thinks you won’t punch her.

Comment by ecofeco
2013-02-22 11:46:06

Yes there is: one who thinks she can’t go to jail.

Comment by 2banana
2013-02-22 15:18:17

Dating crazy chicks has its disadvantages…

Comment by Carl Morris
2013-02-22 15:56:15

Dating crazy chicks has its disadvantages…

That comes later. The advantages are obvious right away.

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Comment by SUGuy
2013-02-22 10:50:22

This house is the whopper of the year in my opinion. Look at the taxes alone $28,455. The liar kept on saying the bank wants to get rid of if it and will take a very low offer. (Hinted 200K) Then you can take the town to a SMALL CLAIMS COURT and get your taxes lowered as he had seen it happen before.

I think at some point the local tax officials should be ashamed of themselves. Lake front properties are fairly common around here and land in Tully NY is no more than $1000 an acre. Trust me when I say this there are no jobs in Tully NY and is 30 miles from Syracuse NY


In our town they demolished the Carrier building, now they are demolishing Bristol Myers building and my wifey left McQuay as an HR director 2 years ago. The closing was announced back then that if the production numbers were not improving the plant would shut down. The people working in this company are country bumpkins who did not take the warnings seriously. Some of the top managers in the company were high school graduates with online BS degrees and they had also hired their high school friends.


Comment by joe smith
2013-02-22 13:51:24

Two quick thoughts: 1) The amount of wood paneling in that house is ridiculous. I could live with some, but that amount is an affront to most people’s sensibilities.
2) Forget the property taxes, the heating bills up there must be insane. Do people have multi-zone systems where they can heat the bedrooms at night but let the other parts of the house dip a little? It’s not just that it’s cold in upstate NY, but that it snows a ton in the Syracuse area…

Comment by SUGuy
2013-02-22 14:47:09

Heating bill for the property would be around $450 to $500 on a budget plan. The bad thing about upstate utility company which is national grid is the delivery charge which is approximately 50 percent to 70 percent of the bill. If you use less energy the delivery charge goes up. If you use more energy well then the usage charge goes up. There is no way around except to be frustrated and pay it.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 15:00:06

1) The amount of wood paneling in that house is ridiculous.

Is it ‘paneling’ if it’s a log house?

At least it’s easy to paint over paneling. I guess you could paint logs, but I bet it would look strange

Comment by 2banana
2013-02-22 15:16:07

$28,455/year of property taxes on a $200,000 house?

Welcome to the people’s republic of NYS.

Of the public unions, by the public unions and for the public unions.

There are no private sector jobs. They have all been driven away.

Lord help you if you own property.

The entire state (with the exception of NYC and the suburbs) is going to look and feel like Detroit in the not to distant future.

I am sure glad the 47% vote and win elections.

Now pay up.

Hey, maybe small claims court will feel sorry for you and lower the property taxes by 10%.

Comment by SUGuy
2013-02-22 15:39:23

LOL Its a good one

You are not so banana after all. Some days you do make sense.

Comment by Bluestar
2013-02-22 11:40:00

Kevin Kelly on the Red Couch.

One of the most brilliant thinkers alive. Author of What Technology Wants. This short interview will really make you think.


Bio: co-founder of Wired Magazine, publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, TED speaker and Long Now Foundation.

Things that worry Kevin;
The internet is the most powerful thing we have ever invented, can be and will be abused to great harm.

Watch out for replication. Technology is just getting started with cloning and self-replicating devices.

This is cool.

Comment by Spook
2013-02-22 16:43:10


The problem is, are there enough quality people to employ technology constructively?

How many people do you know that you can really trust?

Already, I must deploy technology to counter other technology intent on harming me. Spiritual, emotional and political problems may eat all the gains these new technologies are supposed to produce; not to mention our debt based monetary system and all the waste and fraud it produces.

I hope this guy is right.

Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 13:16:12

County tax assessor succeeds in fleecing property owners

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Before she left office in December, former Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya bungled hundreds of tax assessments and illegally fleeced property owners out of what could top a million dollars.

Now, the vast majority of those property owners have no recourse to get their money back and are stuck with the exorbitant tax bills for good, according to a four-month investigation by News 13’s Larry Barker. Just two of the 1,400 taxpayers hit with illegal property tax bills protested them in court. In both cases, the judges ruled that Montoya had failed to follow the law and ordered her to roll back the taxes to the three percent limit on the two properties in question.

And while Montoya obeyed the judges’ orders, she ignored the rest of the properties she illegally raised taxes on, and left those owners with massively higher tax assessments.

“She should have rolled everybody back,” said Demesia Padilla, secretary of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. “That would have treated everybody equitably. That would have said, ‘I am agreeing with the courts that what I did was wrong. So let me roll everybody back.’ When she just picked and chose who she rolled back – that’s wrong.”

And those property owners who didn’t protest the new property assessments are now stuck with those tax bills for good. Moreover, the law doesn’t allow for refunds.

“Our statutes have a process for someone to protest their property values,” Padilla said. “And if they don’t do that, they are going to get hurt. Do I like that? I don’t like that that happens. But we have rules that have to be followed.”

The writer suggests that these owners will be forced to pay their assessments indefinitely into the future, but I doubt that’s the case.

Comment by 2banana
2013-02-22 15:06:06

Isn’t America great?

Even if you pay off your house in full - you still rent from the state. No matter how corrupt it may be…

Comment by In Colorado
2013-02-22 15:33:55


We do, and I never worry about rising or exorbitant property taxes. My house is assessed at twice what my brother’s house is in North Carolina, and I pay less property tax than he does.

Comment by 2banana
2013-02-22 15:38:46

Looks like the people in the article has some sort of TABOR too.

Doesn’t help when you have corrupt government…

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Comment by tresho
2013-02-22 17:34:24

Even TABOR, IIUC, requires some basic administrative competence to properly administer. Obviously this former county tax assessor had neither the competence nor the integrity to carry out the local laws properly. Slightly less obviously, the local electorate lacks the sense to kick her out of public office and make sure she never holds another one.

A sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2013-02-22 15:09:41

If the WWE has turned on the GOP, it’s all over.

WWE Invents Odious Tea Party Character As Part of Publicity Stunt, Suckers Glenn Beck

Over the weekend, the WWE introduced a new wrestler/manager character, “Zeb Coulter,” who used his time at the mic to commemorate President’s Day and attack illegal immigrants. This enranged the Internet, as obvious attempts to enrage the Internet seem to do. Alex Jones lept on it first. Then Glenn Beck…

Beck’s… attack warrants an invitation “to appear live this Monday on Raw,” and a patronizing explanation.

Similar to other television shows and feature films, WWE is in the entertainment business, creating fictional characters that serve as protagonists or antagonists. To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines. WWE is creating a rivalry centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view. This storyline was developed to build the Mexican American character Del Rio into a hero given WWE’s large Latino base, which represents 20% of our audience.


Comment by ecofeco
2013-02-22 16:17:31

Sweet. :lol:

Comment by Spook
2013-02-22 19:35:41

“This enranged the Internet”

thats a low ass bar.


Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 16:15:56

Posted: 3:38 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, 2013

Palm Beach County foreclosure cases put on fast forward
By Kimberly Miller
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Palm Beach County’s idling foreclosure cases are about to get a kick-start as judges begin setting trial dates for dawdling banks and stalling homeowners.

An administrative order issued Thursday by Palm Beach County Chief Judge Peter Blanc requires bank attorneys to identify all of their foreclosures filed before July 1, 2010, and outline the status of each case. For foreclosures pending 36 months or more, the court will schedule blocks of trial time, pushing both sides to present their case in what some fear is a return of the “rocket docket.”

About 9,500 _ 30 percent _ of Palm Beach County’s foreclosure cases are three years old or older, Blanc said.

“For cases to be sitting there that long, I think neither side is making an effort to move them,” Blanc said. “We had to do something to get these back before the court.”

A swifter trial could push banks that don’t want more foreclosures on their books to settle with homeowners, negotiating a loan modification, short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure, some defense attorneys said.

But a speedy judiciary can also be a clumsy one, and they worry homeowners with legitimate defenses will be harmed if corners are cut.

“If the cases are undefended, they should go to trial and be disposed of quickly,” said Royal Palm Beach-based attorney Tom Ice. “But if you set 70 cases for trial in one morning, it’s prejudicial to homeowners defending their case because in five minutes you’re either not going to get a fair trial or it’s not going to happen that day.”

Despite a $4 million stipend awarded last year to Florida’s circuit courts to help clear a stubborn foreclosures backlog, there remain 371,119 cases pending statewide, just 6,588 fewer than when the money became available in July.

That’s because nearly as quickly as a case is cleared, new foreclosures are being filed. There were 105,020 cases disposed between July and December. In the same six-month period, 98,432 new cases hit the system.

Palm Beach County has 31,678 pending foreclosure cases, 1,300 fewer than in July.

Blanc said in December he was disappointed in the lack of progress being made processing cases and was looking at ways to move them more quickly.

Miami-Dade County judges began setting trial dates for lagging foreclosure cases in the fall. Attorneys complain the trials are cattle calls and could result in voided judgments if homeowners challenge that the cases were tried without proper orders. If a trial is forced when there are still unanswered pleadings it could be rolled back.

“There are legitimate hardships that should be considered, but I do think this will cause them to clean things up,” said suburban West Palm Beach homeowner Cathy Hogan, who is a member of the Somerset Homeowners Association.

She said neighborhoods suffering with blighted and abandoned homes that the banks have been slow to repossess could benefit from a faster foreclosure system.

“I would say this is more good than bad if the courts and judges are understanding,” she said.

There is a safeguard in Blanc’s order for homeowners. Requests for more time, to reschedule the trial, or to strike a trial date, will be heard by the chief judge or his designate “in an effort to promote consistence and improve the administration of justice.”

Malcolm Harrison, a Wellington-based foreclosure defense attorney, said a Palm Beach County judge told him that the court is hoping to eliminate about 6,000 cases filed before 2009 by the end of summer.

“The banks are actively filing new cases all the time so when you have these aging cases in the system, you are facing a situation where the courts are going to break down,” Harrison said.

Harrison’s office is handling about 150 cases filed before July 2010. He said Thursday’s order puts homeowners on notice that they should redouble efforts to reach an agreement with their banks.

“Because if you don’t, the courts are going to push these cases to trial and, honestly, the typical outcome of a trial is that a sale date is set and the home is sold,” Harrison said.

State estimates show 220,000 new foreclosures are expected to be filed during the fiscal year that began July 1. An additional 239,000 are estimated for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Florida’s courts will get a $5 million boost to help process foreclosures from the state’s share of the National Mortgage Settlement.

Comment by ecofeco
2013-02-22 16:24:09

“Despite a $4 million stipend awarded last year to Florida’s circuit courts to help clear a stubborn foreclosures backlog, there remain 371,119 cases pending statewide, just 6,588 fewer than when the money became available in July.”

I wonder how many “consultants” they got for that money?

My guess is 2.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 16:23:35

“In 2008, a Palm Beach County single-family home was on the market for a median of 140 days.”

“In January, it was down to 85.”

In the article above by the same writer it states….

“For foreclosures pending 36 months or more, the court will schedule blocks of trial time,”

“About 9,500 _ 30 percent _ of Palm Beach County’s foreclosure cases are three years old or older,”

Posted: 5:43 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

January Palm Beach County home sales gain in price and volume

By Kimberly Miller

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

It was a quick trip from list date to sale date for the troubled Key West-style house in West Palm Beach’s south end.

Just 99 days from start to finish, paid for in cash, and the once mangy foreclosure with broken windows and dead grass off El Prado and South Dixie Highway has new owners, a green lawn and, on Thursday, was cocooned in a pest control tent — a telltale sign of a deal.

In 2008, a Palm Beach County single-family home was on the market for a median of 140 days.

In January, it was down to 85.

The El Prado sale, which closed for $6,200 more than the foreclosure auction price, is indicative of Palm Beach County’s real estate market in recent months as traditional homebuyers and investors clamor for scant properties.

Last month, Palm Beach County single-family home sales jumped 19 percent from the same time in 2012, while sale prices increased 21 percent to a median of $218,000, according to a report released Thursday by the Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches.

Inventory stood at a 5.9 months’ supply, down 47 percent from January 2012.

“It looks like real stabilization,” said Kevin Kent, a broker-associate with Platinum Properties in Palm Beach County. “Nationwide, there is confidence building in the economy and people feel more free to go out and make the purchases they’ve wanted to make.”

Statewide, sales of single-family homes totaled 13,679 in January, up 11.7 percent from the previous year, while median sales prices jumped 12.4 percent to $145,000. The Florida Realtors group, which issued a statewide sales report Thursday, said January marked the 13th consecutive month for price gains for single-family homes and condominiums.

The median condo price was $112,000, an 18 percent increase.

The number of homes sold nationally jumped 9 percent in January from the previous year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million. The median sales price was $173,600, up 12 percent.

The national report spurred declarations from some economists that the real estate market has tipped to favor the seller. Even Wells Fargo analysts sounded giddy, declaring that the spring home-buying season could “surprise on the upside,” as long as there’s no federal fiscal crisis.

“Buyer traffic is continuing to pick up, while seller traffic is holding steady,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, which issued a nationwide sales report Thursday. “In fact, buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly.”

Higher sale prices also buoyed home values. About 70,484 South Florida homeowners regained equity in their homes during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a new report from Zillow. That still left 39.6 percent of homes with mortgages in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties underwater, meaning the homeowner owes more on the loan than the home is worth. But that’s down from 41 percent during the third quarter of last year.

Thursday’s rosy home sales news is balanced by darker forces in the market, such as the 371,119 pending foreclosures in Florida’s court system as of December. Many of those homes will go up for sale at distressed prices after bank repossession.

Part of Palm Beach County’s rising prices are a result of fewer distressed sales. In January, foreclosure sales were down 37 percent from the previous year. Short sales were down 8 percent.

Also not revealed in the reports is the stress felt by some traditional buyers searching for the perfect home in a market full of investors, complex deals and tightened lending standards.

“Why does it take so long for a bank to do a short sale?” asked Ray Luisi, who closed on his Delray Beach home in December after wrangling with the bank for three months. “It just seems like the banks don’t want to communicate.”

Luisi put 20 percent down and easily earned financing.

Kent said more brokers are telling him about traditional loans that require just 5 percent down, but “you have to have sparkling credit.”

As for the Key West-style home, its ride was swift, but not without bumps. Repossessed by the bank in May, it was initially under contract within a month of going on the market in November. That fell through, the price dropped a little, it went under contract again, and the price dropped a little more. It closed earlier this month for $83,000, $11,000 less than its original list price.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 17:08:08

Do the state workers have to click their heels together and salute Andrew Cuomo with a straight right arm?

NYS worker forced to retire after talking to media

February 20, 2013

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — A 30-year state Department of Transportation employee said he was forced to retire rather than possibly be fired for speaking to a newspaper reporter without approval from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

Mike Fayette said he was threatened with termination for talking to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise for a story in which he praised the DOT’s handling of the remnants of Hurricane Irene.

Cuomo’s administration has earned a reputation for tightly controlling information and access to departmental public information officers.

Fayette was ordered to Albany on Sept. 12 for “a disciplinary interrogation” at which, he said, he was shown an Aug. 28 email from Breen instructing him not to speak so that DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald could talk to the paper. The email came the day after Fayette talked to the paper.

DOT’s News Media Contact policy says approval of the agency’s public affairs office in Albany is required before talking to the press.

Fayette could have contested the charges at a disciplinary hearing, but on Dec. 3, the state said he could accept a demotion and transfer to Albany. He turned it down and retired effective Feb. 8.

Fayette told the AP that he had always planned on retiring at 62, after 37-plus years with the department and at 75 percent of his salary. Instead, he’s out at 55 and will earn 60 percent of his salary, a difference of about $15,000 a year.

“I’m a civil engineer. I don’t do this other (political) stuff,” Fayette said Wednesday. “I love working for the DOT; 99.9 percent of the people I’ve met in the DOT are fine men and women, truly dedicated.”

Now, Fayette is seeking reinstatement.

“I also want my vacation time back that they forced me to burn up for something I didn’t do,” he said. “It certainly would be nice to have a letter of apology for putting me through this. I’m just looking for things wrong to me to be made right.”

The state said it will not consider reinstatement.

Fayette doesn’t know what steps will come next. He may take legal action, though he acknowledged that his options would be limited.

“Hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Bring everybody into the room to talk about it,” he said. “I don’t want to have to hire a lawyer over something that shouldn’t have happened.”

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/NYS-worker-forced-to-retire-after-talking-to-media-4293612.php - 75k -

Comment by AnnGogh
2013-02-22 17:30:47

The Feds Want Your Retirement Accounts
By John White

Quietly, behind the scenes, the groundwork is being laid for federal government confiscation of tax-deferred retirement accounts such as IRAs. Slowly, the cat is being let out of the bag.
Last January 18th, in a little noticed interview of Richard Cordray, acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Bloomberg reported “[t]he U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] is weighing whether it should take on a role in helping Americans manage the $19.4 trillion they have put into retirement savings, a move that would be the agency’s first foray into consumer investments.” That thought generates some skepticism, as aptly expressed by the Richard Terrell cartoon published by American Thinker.
Days later On January 24th President Obama renominated Cordray as CFPB director even though his recess appointment was not due to expire until the end of 2013.
One day later, in the first significant resistance to President Obama’s concentration of presidential power, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington DC unanimously said that Obama’s Recess Appointments to the National Labor Relations Board are unconstitutional. Similar litigation testing the Cordray appointment to the CFPB is in the pipeline.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) created by the 2,319 page Dodd-Frank legislation is a new and little known bureau with wide-ranging powers. Placed within the Federal Reserve, a corporation privately owned by member banks, the CFPB is insulated from oversight by either the President or Congress, its budget not subject to legislative control. It is not even clear that a new President can replace the CFPB director on taking office.
Unusual legal and political environments have a significant impact on the CFPB. With Cordray’s recess appointment in doubt several questions remain unanswered.
1) What will become of the CFPB when Cordray’s appointment is found invalid? An indicator comes from the NRLB, which operated unconstitutionally for years without a quorum. In 2007 the Senate threatened no NLRB nominations reported out of committee.
The NLRB continued operating with two members. Then a Supreme Court ruling in June of 2010 invalidated the NLRB decisions for lack of a quorum. Fisher & Phillips give the details about what was done next.
But recovery from the Supreme Court’s sting was quick, with Liebman and Schaumber still on the Board and with two new Members confirmed, … the suddenly full-strength Board simply added a new Member to the “rump panel” of the original decisions and managed to rubber-stamp many of the disputed Orders - at a record-setting pace - with the same result…
This may explain why President Obama renominated Cordray a year early. Once confirmed Cordray can rubber-stamp decisions made while he was unconstitutionally appointed. Otherwise those decisions will be invalidated.
2) What will the CFPB do with your money? The CFPB incursion into individual personal savings, in order to control how you invest your money, isn’t a new idea. Current proposals grew from a policy analysis as disclosed by Roger Hedgecock.
On Nov. 20, 2007, Theresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, presented a paper proposing that the feds eliminate the tax deferral for private retirement accounts, confiscate the balance of those accounts, give each worker a $600 annual “contribution,” assess a mandatory savings tax on every worker and guarantee a 3 percent rate of return on the newly titled “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts,” or GRAs.
How would that be accomplished? The Carolina Journal reported Ghilarducci’s 2008 testimony to Nancy Pelosi’s House.
Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate workers’ personal retirement accounts “including 401(k)s and IRAs” and convert them to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration.
Your Government universal GRA investment savings account is an annuity managed by Social Security. Hedgecock noted ‘[m]ake no mistake here: Obama is after your retirement money. The “annuities” will “invest” not in the familiar packages of bond and stock mutual funds but in the Treasury debt!’
By 2010 Bloomberg published an article titled “US Government Takes Two More Steps Toward Nationalization of Private Retirement Account Assets.” In that article Patrick Heller observed that, with Democrat control of Congress and the Presidency:
[I]n mid-September 2010 the Departments of Labor and Treasury held hearings on the next step toward achieving Ghilarducci’s goals. The stated purpose was to require all private plans to offer retirees an option to elect an annuity. The “behind-the-scenes” purpose for this step was to get people used to the idea that the retirement assets they had accumulated would no longer be part of their estate when they died.
So the Government would get the money, not the estate or family of the people who saved the money during a lifetime of work. That’s a one hundred percent death tax on savings. Worse, the most responsible and poorest families will be penalized.
Democrats had a blueprint for diverting people’s savings from private investment to government debt. Then in 2010 the Tea Party won the house…
3) Why should the Government intervene in people’s savings decisions? The justifications for Government intervention in private financial decisions are varied. Panic over the economy, Wall Street, mandating savings equity, eliminating investment risk, financial crisis losses, retirement security, much-needed oversight, your 401K becomes a 201K, shoddy financial products, and predatory investment bankers are just a few.
If the financial industry is so predatory, how is it possible that savers keep any money? More importantly, we have all those government agencies, FDIC, FINRA, SEC, Labor Department, Treasury Department, NCUA, Office of Thrift Supervision, FHFA, NCUSIF, Comptroller of the Currency, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, hundreds of criminal penalties, and state level regulators. Are we admitting the Government is incapable of policing criminal and predatory behavior? Do we have invincible predators plundering the people, or do politicians Cry Wolf?
And about that crisis in the economy. Former Congressman Barney Frank, one of the authors of Dodd-Frank, admitted to Larry Kudlow that Government was to blame for the housing crisis.
Professor Ghilarducci said “humans often lack the foresight, discipline, and investing skills required to sustain a savings plan.” Professor Ghilarducci tells us that people are flawed, no argument there.
Her solution, substitute Government decisions for the judgment of the millions of people who actually earned and saved the money. She fails to mention the government bureaucrats wielding the power to compel you to comply are themselves imperfect. Which is preferable, one faulty Government solution or millions of individual free choices?
4) Are there other forces pushing Government to confiscate people’s savings? With $16 trillion in debt the short answer is yes. When governments embark on a path of spending money they don’t have, they resort to financial repression. According to Wikipedia:
Financial repression is any of the measures that governments employ to channel funds to themselves, that, in a deregulated market, would go elsewhere. Financial repression can be particularly effective at liquidating debt.
Do we have any evidence that the US Government is pursuing financial repression? Yes we do. Jeff Cox at CNBC. “US and European regulators are essentially forcing banks to buy up their own government’s debt-a move that could end up making the debt crisis even worse, a Citigroup analysis says.”
An Investors Business Daily article, Banks Pressured to Buy Government Debts, notes that “[b]anks can’t say no. They fear the political fallout. So they meekly submit to the government’s dictates.”
Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that “[i]n 2011, the Fed purchased a stunning 61% of Treasury issuance.” Then a CNS News article revealed that “[s]o far this calendar year [2013], the Federal Reserve has bought up more U.S. government debt than the U.S. Treasury has issued.”
5) Is the health of Social Security (SS) a factor? There are several potential measures of when Social Security retirement goes broke. One measure is when FICA tax income doesn’t cover the cost of retirement checks. We have passed that point already. Others say that SS is fine until the lock box runs out of special issue bonds (IOUs).
Even though the SS bonds in the lock box cannot be sold on the open market, the Treasury Department remains under political pressure to honor that obligation by borrowing real cash to redeem the IOUs. At least until the IOUs in the lock box are gone. How long is that? Based on a credible source, Bruce Krasting at Zerohedge suggests not long.
SS consists of two different pieces. The Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI). Both entities have their own Trust Funds (TF). OASI has a big TF that will, in theory, allow for SS retirement benefits to be paid for another 15+ years. On the other hand, the DI fund will run completely dry during the 1stQ of 2016.
So Krasting expects the President and Congress will soon be forced to choose between 4 solutions:
1 Increase Income Taxes
2 Increase Payroll Taxes
3 Cut disability benefits by 30%
4 Kick the can down the road and raid the retirement fund to pay for disability shortfalls.
Krasting predicts Congress and Obama will be behind door number four. His credible source is the Congressional Budget Office report Social Security Trust Fund–February 2013 Baseline. In the footnotes it projects a $1 Trillion drain on the retirement fund which currently holds $2.8 Trillion. That’s a loss of approximately one third of the retirement IOUs.
Krasting however omits another possible solution, politicians can raid private retirement savings to put more IOUs in the lock boxes and more real money in the Treasury. Other people’s money is a temptation and $19.4 Trillion is a very large temptation.
Social Security is the largest entitlement program with a trust fund of $2.8 Trillion IOUs, soon to be reduced by another $1 Trillion. Can any politician, addicted to spending, resist that temptation of $19.4 Trillion? That’s real people’s real money that will be spent by Government in exchange for IOUs given to the SS lock box.
Meanwhile newly minted Senator Elizabeth Warren has entered the debate. Conservatives and Republicans have challenged the CFPB in the wake of the unconstitutional recess appointment. Bloomberg speculates that Warren might agree to trim the CFPB powers in a compromise. Bloomberg reported:
“A strong independent consumer agency is good for families and lenders that follow the rules and good for the economy as a whole,” Warren said yesterday in an interview. “I will keep fighting for that.” [snip]
Some observers have suggested that Warren’s original support for a commission-led bureau might mean she would be amenable to compromise on that issue. Warren spokesman Dan Geldon said such speculation is mistaken.
“Senator Warren thinks the single director structure makes sense and that CFPB should continue to be able to operate, like every other banking regulator, without relying on appropriations for its funding,” Geldon said.
Bloomberg also notes that soon “the Senate will have to decide whether to vote to confirm director Richard Cordray in his post, which would make a legal challenge pointless.”
Conservatives and Republicans challenge the surrender of legislative power to the bureau, the concentrated power of a single director, the unconstitutional recess appointments, and the violation of constitutional separation of powers. The Republican position is the constitutional questions and litigation presently underway should be resolved prior to approving a director of CFPB.
The constitutional issues surrounding Dodd — Frank and the CFPB are beyond the space for this article. For those interested in the legal issues, a good synopsis can be found at the Mark Levin Radio Show podcast for February 18th. Mark is an attorney and his Landmark Legal Foundation has argued many cases before the Supreme Court. He can explain complex legal issues in straightforward language.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/02/the_feds_want_your_retirement_accounts.html#ixzz2Lg4VxsqO
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Comment by AnnGogh
2013-02-22 17:51:01

But it’s the government’s money! That would be a very generous gift and I hope we can all contribute! Who’s going first?

Comment by cactus
2013-02-22 19:21:10

Home sales are slowly climbing back, thanks to investor demand, improving consumer confidence in housing, and the surprising return of former homeowners who once walked away from their commitments.

These so-called, “strategic defaulters,” some of them investors and some owner-occupants, are coming back to the market, despite damaged credit, and apparently the market is welcoming them back.

A new survey of past clients by YouWalkAway.com, a website that assists borrowers in the legal pitfalls of strategic default, found that nearly 80 percent expressed a desire to buy a home again within the next twelve months. It also cites data by Moody’s analytics, showing that the number of eligible home buyers who have had a previous foreclosure will be 1.5 million by the first quarter of 2014.

Crashing home prices and sketchy mortgage products caused millions of Americans to default on their loans and eventually lose their homes. For some, it was a tragic fight to the end to keep their single largest investment; for others it was a conscious decision to walk away from their mortgage commitments, given the real fact that they would likely not see home equity again for many years to come.

Some saw this as morally reprehensible, others as a sensible business decision.

Comment by AnnGogh
2013-02-22 20:19:08

Why Your boss is dumping your wife:

By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 “per life” covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees’ dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional. “The question about whether it’s obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. See: When your boss doesn’t trust your doctor

While surcharges for spousal coverage are more common, last year, 6% of large employers excluded spouses, up from 5% in 2010, as did 4% of huge companies with at least 20,000 employees, twice as many as in 2010, according to human resources firm Mercer. These “spousal carve-outs,” or “working spouse provisions,” generally prohibit only people who could get coverage through their own job from enrolling in their spouse’s plan.

Such exclusions barely existed three years ago, but experts expect an increasing number of employers to adopt them: “That’s the next step,” Darling says. HMS, a company that audits plans for employers, estimates that nearly a third of companies might have such policies now. Holdouts say they feel under pressure to follow suit. “We’re the last domino,” says Duke Bennett, mayor of Terre Haute, Ind., which is instituting a spousal carve-out for the city’s health plan, effective July 2013, after nearly all major employers in the area dropped spouses.

But when employers drop spouses, they often lose more than just the one individual, when couples choose instead to seek coverage together under the other partner’s employer. Terre Haute, which pays $6 million annually to insure nearly 1,200 people including employees and their family members, received more than 20 new plan members when a local university, bank and county government stopped insuring spouses, according to Bennett. “We have a great plan, so they want to be on ours. All we’re trying to do is level the playing field here,” he says.

While couples generally prefer to be on the same health plan, companies often find that spouses are more expensive to insure than their own employees. That’s because, say benefits experts, covered spouses tend to be women, who as a group not only spend more on health care, but also have more free time to go to the doctor if they don’t work. Indeed, JetBlue’s covered spouses cost 50% more than crewmembers themselves, according to the airline’s online Q&A about its health plan, which this year extended wellness incentives to spouses for the first time. See: Selling health insurance by the pound

Click to Play
Obama health law contraception opt-out proposed
Any change would be aimed at alleviating concerns of the Catholic church. WSJ’s Louise Radnofsky reports. Photo: AP

About a fifth of companies had policies to discourage spouses from joining their health plan in 2012, according to Mercer, though most just charged extra—$100 a month, on average—to cover spouses who could get insurance elsewhere, rather than deny coverage entirely. Indeed, large firms including generics maker Teva and supply chain manager Intermec have spousal surcharges costing $100 a month, or $1,200 annually, while Xerox charges $1,000 for the year. See: 10 things your office won’t say

But experts say more firms are likely to drop spouses altogether, whether they work or not—especially when the new federal health-care exchanges open in 2014, providing an alternative for spouses left out in the cold. “When there’s a place for people to go, employers won’t feel as beholden or compelled to cover the spouse,” says Joan Smyth, an employee benefits consultant with Mercer.

Firms that recently decided to drop spouses from their plans range from private insurance agencies to school systems and universities like Ball State, as well as large companies like pump and valve manufacturer Flowserve. Wisconsin-based furniture company KI carved out spouses this year when couples flocked to its plan for the first time during open enrollment. “Now, each employer is responsible for its own employee,” says Timothy Van Severen, corporate risk manager for KI, which insures about 1,700 employees in its health plan. “We were going to see a higher claim cost if we didn’t do that, because of the migration coming back to us.”

Some companies drive spouses away using other tactics, such as making spousal coverage prohibitively expensive through higher surcharges or by making reimbursement rates so low that spouses can’t afford the plans. The share of employers who allow spouses in their plan but don’t pay for any part of it rose from zero to 3% this year, according to human resources consulting firm Towers Watson. Northrop Grumman, the large security firm, will cover spouses who can get insurance through their own employers, but only if they first enroll in their own plan, and use Northrop’s as secondary coverage. (Some companies actually pay spouses an incentive if they enroll in their own plan, though insurance experts say the incentive is a waste of money—and that employers would do better by just cutting spouses off.) “You’re making it kind of a no-brainer for the other adult dependent to get on his or her own plan,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health. “No one wants to be just a dependent magnet.”

But like any breakup, the separation of spouses into different health plans can be traumatic for families. Greg Fischer, a vice president in the employer solutions division at HMS, says demand has increased for the company’s dependent audits, which have revealed that 3% of spouses are ineligible for the health plans, either because of plan rules or divorce and legal marriage issues. The news can be upsetting to couples when one partner is forced to pay more for coverage or accept lesser benefits: One spouse may even have to stop seeing the family doctor if his or her new plan stipulates a different set of providers. “I think that’s where the pain point comes in for the employee—that their spouse may have to be covered under a different plan, or their benefits might be reduced,” Fischer says.

Couples then have to decide whether to stick together, even if it means losing benefits, or to split up so at least one spouse maintains coverage. If they separate, they may also have to choose which plan to insure the kids under, or whether to use different plans for each. “It certainly makes the family unit have to do some real soul-searching and figure out what works best for them,” says Karen McLeese, vice president of employee regulatory affairs for CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services. The decision, she adds, will likely come down to dollars and cents.

For their part, employers say they try to educate employees on their options well in advance of the change, and health plans or insurance brokers sometimes step in to guide people through the transition and help them find doctors in their new network. In announcing its spousal carve-out, Ball State University, for one, warned employees to prepare “since this is a potentially life-changing event.” The university employee benefits staff worked with spouses and their employers to guide them through the transition onto their own plan, and have even allowed some spouses with “uncooperative” companies to stay on “until the conflict is resolved,” says Joan Todd, a spokeswoman for the university. “We wanted to be very careful that no spouse would lose coverage before they could be placed on their own employer’s plan.”

Comment by hazard
2013-02-22 21:05:24

What Is The Truth ? All The News- Is a Lie? NDAA 2013 / H.R.5736 — The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 Legalizes US Govt Domestic Propaganda

H.R.5736 (05/10/2012)

Smith–Mundt ActFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The US Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (Public Law 80-402), popularly referred to as the Smith–Mundt Act, specifies the terms in which the United States government can engage global audiences, also known as public diplomacy.

The act was first introduced as the Bloom Bill in December 1945 in the 79th Congress and subsequently passed by the 80th Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on January 27, 1948.

ProvisionsThere are three key restrictions on the U.S. State Department in the Smith–Mundt Act.

The first and most well-known restriction was originally a prohibition on domestic dissemination of materials intended for foreign audiences by the State Department. The original intent was the Congress, the media and academia would be the filter to bring inside what the State Department said overseas. In 1967, the Advisory Commission on Information (later renamed the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy) recommended the de facto prohibition on domestic distribution be removed noting that there is “nothing in the statues specifically forbidding making USIA materials available to American audiences. Rather, what began as caution has hardened into policy.”[5] This changed in 1972 when Senator J. William Fulbright (D-AR) argued that America’s international broadcasting should take its “rightful place in the graveyard of Cold War relics” as he successfully amended the Act to read that any program material “shall not be disseminated” within the U.S. and that material shall be available “for examination only” to the media, academia, and Congress (P.L. 95-352 Sec. 204). In 1985, Senator Edward Zorinsky (D-NE) declared USIA would be no different than an organ of Soviet propaganda if its products were to be available domestically.[6] The Act was amended to read: “no program material prepared by the United States Information Agency shall be distributed within the United States” (P.L. 99-93). At least one court interpreted this language to mean USIA products were to be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests. In response, the Act was amended again in 1990 to permit domestic distribution of program material “12 years after the initial dissemination” abroad (P.L. 101-246 Sec 202).

The second and third provisions were of greater interest to the Congress as they answered critical concerns about a deep-pocket government engaging domestic audiences. Added to the Bloom Bill, the predecessor to the Smith-Mundt Bill in June 1946 by Representative John M. Vorys (R-OH) “to remove the stigma of propaganda” and address the principal objections to the information activities the Congress intended to authorize. These provisions remain unamended and were the real prophylactic to address concerns the U.S. Government would create Nazi-style propaganda or resurrect President Wilson’s CPI-style activities. The amendment said the information activities should only be conducted if needed to supplement international information dissemination of private agencies; that the State Department was not to acquire a monopoly of broadcasting or any other information medium; and that private sector leaders should be invited to review and advise the State Department in this work.

Section 1437 of the Act requires the State Department to maximize its use of “private agencies.” Section 1462 requires “reducing Government information activities whenever corresponding private information dissemination is found to be adequate” and prohibits the State Department from having monopoly in any “medium of information” (a prescient phrase). Combined, these provide not only protection against government’s domination of domestic discourse, but interestingly a “sunset clause” for governmental activities that Rep. Karl Mundt (R-SD) and Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs William Benton stated clearly: as private media stood up, government media would stand

Summary: H.R.5736 [112th]

There is one summary of the bill.

Introduced in House (05/10/2012)

Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 - Amends the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to authorize the Secretary of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to provide for the preparation and dissemination of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, including about its people, its history, and the federal government’s policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers and instructors. (Under current law such authority is restricted to information disseminated abroad, with a limited domestic exception.)

Authorizes the Secretary and the Board to make available in the United States motion pictures, films, video, audio, and other materials prepared for dissemination abroad or disseminated abroad pursuant to such Act, the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, or the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act.

Amends the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1986 and 1987 to prohibit funds for the Department of State or the Board from being used to influence public opinion or propagandizing in the United States. (Under current law such provision applies to the United States Information Agency [USIA].)

Applies such prohibition only to programs carried out pursuant to the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994, the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act, and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act.

States that such provision shall: (1) not prohibit the Department or the Board from providing information about its operations, policies, programs, or program material, or making such information available to members of the media, public, or Congress; (2) not be construed to prohibit the Department from engaging in any medium of information on a presumption that a U.S. domestic audience may be exposed to program material; and (3) apply only to the Department and the Board and to no other federal department or agency.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-23 09:38:12

H.R. 4310 (112th): National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Dec 28, 2012 (Passed Congress/Enrolled Bill).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO


‘(a) In General- No funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States. This section shall apply only to programs carried out pursuant to the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.), the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465 et seq.), and the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act (22 U.S.C. 1465aa et seq.). This section shall not prohibit or delay the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from providing information about its operations, policies, programs, or program material, or making such available, to the media, public, or Congress, in accordance with other applicable law.

‘(b) Rule of Construction- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors from engaging in any medium or form of communication, either directly or indirectly, because a United States domestic audience is or may be thereby exposed to program material, or based on a presumption of such exposure. Such material may be made available within the United States and disseminated, when appropriate, pursuant to sections 502 and 1005 of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. 1462 and 1437), except that nothing in this section may be construed to authorize the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors to disseminate within the United States any program material prepared for dissemination abroad on or before the effective date of section 1078 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

‘(c) Application- The provisions of this section shall apply only to the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors and to no other department or agency of the Federal Government.’.

Comment by hazard
2013-02-23 12:08:06


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