Saturday, November 29, 2008
|Mexican President Felipe Calderon, fighting a war with violent drug cartels, has said that half of the police recently tested are unqualified to do their jobs.|
Calderon, in a written response to questions from legislators, said 49 per cent of 56,000 local, state and federal police evaluated this year scored 'not recommendable'.
Mexico's poorly trained and underpaid police are widely viewed as incompetent, and rampant corruption has hampered Calderon's campaign against wealthy drug smuggling gangs.
The former head of Mexico's special organised crime unit was arrested last week for selling secrets to the Sinaloa drug cartel for $450,000.
Other senior officers have also been caught up in a recent sweep aimed at cleansing Mexico's security forces of informants working for organised crime.
Calderon's war on drugs had fanned an escalation of violence that has killed more than 4,300 people this year as cartels lash back at the army and each other.
In a human rights report to the United Nations the Mexican army said it will eventually leave the fight against drug trafficking.
But officials did not set a firm date for the start of the withdrawal.
The country's leaders have argued they must use soldiers in a nationwide crackdown on the drug trade because police are still too corrupt to take over the battle.
Many have criticized President Felipe Calderon for deploying more than 20,000 soldiers across Mexico.
The National Human Rights Commission says some of them have tortured, raped and even killed civilians.
|Shootings, grenade attacks and even beheadings have plagued other Mexican border cities such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez for years but they have only recently arrived full-force in Nogales, Mexico, and the state of Sonora.|
Gunmen from drug-trafficking organizations have primarily targeted rival groups, but police and soldiers also have been caught in the violence. The Sonora state police director was ambushed at a central Nogales hotel in early November.
The Mexican city's tourism-dependent economy has been paralyzed by gun battles occurring even in daylight on public streets, near stores and in restaurants within a few miles of the border.
In mid-October, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert warning Americans to be wary of going to Nogales, Mexico, because of the increasing violence.
|The five billiards players gunned down there were the some of the latest victims in a brutal drug turf war that has unleashed an orgy of killing along America's southern frontier.|
The attack was one of dozens of recent incidents in the sprawling Mexican border city, where nearly 300 people have been killed since late-September – many mutilated, tortured and beheaded in gruesome terror tactics copied from Iraq's brutal conflict.
In the past week alone, there has been an attack in a nightclub popular with students that left five young people dead or dying; a hit squad stormed a private hospital and killed a patient who was being treated for gunshot wounds; and armed men opened fire on a car parked outside a popular US-owned discount warehouse, killing a woman and seriously injuring a man.
Mexico's drug war death tally of more than 4,000 this year – 685 in Tijuana – makes it one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and the extreme violence has intensified since the federal government launched a crackdown against the cartels.
On streets in the centre of Tijuana, where throngs of American visitors once stocked up on cheap goods and prescription drugs by day and revelled in the brash nightlife after dark, stores and bars now stand empty.
|A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers' licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights.|
Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new licence with a photograph of him wearing a turban.
Under French regulations, motorists must appear 'bareheaded and facing forward' in their licence photographs but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.
Mr Singh, 52, took his case to the ECHR but the Strasbourg-based court dismissed the case.
It ruled that 'identity photographs for use on driving licences which showed the subject bareheaded were needed by the authorities in charge of public safety.'
In a statement, it recognised that the rule on photographs 'amounted to interference with the exercise of the right to freedom of religion', but judged that this was justified.
Freedom of religion 'did not always guarantee the right to behave in a manner governed by a religious belief and did not confer on people who did so the right to disregard rules that had proved to be justified,' the court said.
Mr Singh had complained to the court that the French regulations made no provision for separate treatment for members of the Sikh community. The court noted that Muslim women had to remove their headscarves for some identification purposes.
No special accommodation for anyone in this regard is a good thing.
Friday, November 28, 2008
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incredibly lax, be prepared.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
|The Carleton University Students' Association has voted to drop cystic fibrosis as the beneficiary of its annual shinearama fund-raiser, arguing the illness is not "inclusive" enough.|
Cystic fibrosis "has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men" said the motion read to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.
The source of the claim was not revealed
Their defense is they wanted to allow students to give to other charities, fine. But the motion was voted and read with the reason to drop cystic fibrosis for the fund-raiser based on the" fact" it was a white man's disease which surprisingly medical experts say that is bullshit.
|Under pressure from students and administration, the Carleton University Students' Association is moving to reverse a controversial decision to scrap its annual Shinerama fundraiser.|
The motion suggests "all orientees and volunteers should feel like their fundraising efforts will serve the their (sic) diverse communities."
Cathleen Morrison, CEO of the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CCFF), said that decision was based on false information.
According to Morrison, the disease affects both men and women equally, and while more common among Caucasians, the disease affects all races.
....CUSA president Brittany Smyth called an emergency council meeting for Monday, where the original motion is expected to be overturned.
Smyth defended the spirit of the motion, saying it was the association's intention to simply explore other worthy charities on a yearly basis.
According to Smyth, some language in the motion caused the confusion.
"The whereas clauses are only the opinions and the ideas of the person who writes them and they can't be edited," said Smyth. "What students really discussed was just the idea of switching charities on a yearly basis, which was a fair discussion."
Nick Bergamini, one of the student council members to voted against the proposal, called the decision "political correctness gone horribly wrong."
Yes, this is what college is now churning out as future leaders and productive members of society on both sides of the border. Student associations by default at all colleges are useless and filled with members of the Me generation who think they are special and should be listened too as something important. But time after time you realize they are egoistical morons unworthy of being in charge of office supplies much less a leadership position that is supposed to speak for all students.
Any justice, the entire association would be forced to disband.
Edit: Erk.. as in comments its "Enter Sandman" I had an ECW moment.
|Teenage thieves, vandals, muggers and burglars will escape any punishment if they agree to say sorry 'on the spot' under a proposed scheme. |
First-time offenders given a Youth Restorative Disposal will receive no formal record provided they do not break the law again.
The architects of the YRD, to be tested in eight counties, say it will give 10 to 17-year-olds who commit 'low-level crimes' a chance to 'take responsibility' for their actions.
|Young Somali men in Minneapolis have gone missing in recent months, and some members of the Somali community fear the youths are being recruited to return to their homeland to fight with terrorist groups.|
One of the men who disappeared from Minneapolis is believed to have killed himself in an Oct. 29 suicide bombing in northern Somalia, according to a U.S. law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. That official confirmed that the FBI and Justice Department were investigating.
Another U.S. law enforcement official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said authorities are calling it one of the first instances in which a U.S. citizen has acted as a suicide bomber.
|Some members of the Somali community in Minneapolis are concerned that the young men are being recruited to go to Somalia and fight. The impoverished nation on the Horn of Africa is caught up in an Islamic insurgency and has not had a functioning government since 1991.|
"It has to come to an end right now," said Jamal. "It has to stop. ... We have so many families grieving. We don't want any more kids to get brainwashed and programmed."
Jamal and Ahmed said it is suspicious because someone is providing money and transportation for the men to fly from Minnesota to Africa.
"My nephew, he doesn't have money for a ticket," said Ahmed. "None of these kids do."
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
|That is not the current European view at all, and they had hoped it was not Obama's view either. They have also been disappointed by strong hints from the Obama team that he is none too keen either on multi-lateral regulatory reforms.|
The biggest fear for Europeans now scrabbling for clues on his economic intentions is that he will give way to growing pressures in Democratic circles for a more protectionist America.
European governments had duly noted that in his acceptance speech to the Democratic convention, a speech designed to reach out to those in blue collar America who had originally seen a stronger appeal in Hillary Clinton, Senator Obama declared: "Unlike John McCain I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America".
The Europeans would like a little more clarity on trade questions. During the primaries Obama frequently sounded cool on the idea of free trade, perhaps because President George W.Bush has been a keen advocate.
.....Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, potentially a strong Obama ally specifically linked the proposed bail-out to wider trade questions when in a speech in advance of the Washington economic summit he declared that it was important that the world leaders sent out the signal that "protectionism would be the road to ruin."
Brown, seen as the author of major international efforts to stabilize banks and introduce international regulatory frameworks, raised the specter of the 1930s when he went on to add: "If we get into a situation where countries made decisions irrespective of what happened anywhere else then we will see the same problems of other times. The dividing line here is between an open society capable of trading around the world against a protectionist response that happened in the 1930s and is totally unacceptable."
Congress agreed an aid package for the US car industry , which employs three million people, of up to $25 billion back in September but EU authorities have said that if they judge the aid for the US motor manufacturers to be illegal under international trading rules then they are ready to take action at the World Trade Organization.
|In rewriting the nation's industrial relations laws from scratch, Ms Gillard's legislation goes much further than Labor promised at the election by allowing union entry to worksites provided people perform work on the premises and are entitled to be represented by the union concerned. |
The package, which demolishes John Howard's Work Choices laws, introduced in 2006, also relaxes rules on outlawing strike pay, allows employer lockouts only in response to strike action and gives the Workplace Minister considerable powers to terminate industrial action or give directions in bargaining disputes.
Secret ballots before legally protected strike action will also require only 26 per cent support to gain approval because only half of eligible employees at a worksite will be required to take part in the ballot.
Basically this is what Unions in America will be when Obama is in office next year.
The only one I feel bad for is Ronnie because while he delivered a great performance freaking out at Vic, he deserved a better out perhaps actually getting away to Mexico.
As for Vic, you put the wild animal in the cage where he goes crazy or finds a way to get out. The last scene where Vic seems to come to terms with his new situation lets me believe he would find a way out. CCH Pounder is also worthy of an Emmy nod.
The series as a whole was great from beginning to end and unlike the Sopranos the viewer was not cheated out of an ending. Here are two Q&As with Shawn Ryan on the finale.
Ausiello Files: SPOILER ALERT: 'Shield' Boss Answers Burning Finale Qs
THR: 'Shield' creator explains Vic Mackey’s fate
|Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said today the city is eliminating 1,200 positions next fiscal year, part of its effort to slash the budget by $250 million because of the ailing economy and a drop off in tax collections.|
It was the first time the mayor had acknowledged how many jobs would be axed from the $1.2 billion budget. Most of those staffing cuts will be through attrition.
The mayor also said he and staffers in his office will be voluntarily working one day each month without pay - and he will be asking every city employee to do the same.
It might be cheaper just to have the employees stay home one day a month without pay because working without pay is not exactly a morale booster.
|Christmas is just 30 days away, but Santa Claus won't be stopping by Florida Gulf Coast University this holiday.|
He's not allowed on campus.
FGCU administration has banned all holiday decorations from common spaces on campus and canceled a popular greeting card design contest, which is being replaced by an ugly sweater competition. In Griffin Hall, the university's giving tree for needy preschoolers has been transformed into a "giving garden."
The moves boil down to political correctness.
"Public institutions, including FGCU, often struggle with how best to observe the season in ways that honor and respect all traditions," President Wilson Bradshaw wrote in a memo to faculty and staff Thursday. "This is a challenging issue each year at FGCU, and 2008 is no exception. While it may appear at times that a vocal majority of opinion is the only view that is held, this is not always the case."
Bradshaw's directive struck a chord with FGCU employees. The Staff Advisory Council received 44 anonymous comments on the issue; all were against the ban on holiday decorations.
"It says people are very passionate about this," said council president Ruth Rodrigues, who also is director of auxiliary services. "The holidays are a joyous time, and they want to express themselves."
The council voted Monday to send administration a letter outlining employees' comments.
In Bradshaw's memo, he said the decision was not an "attempt to suppress expression of the holiday spirit." Staffers will be permitted to display holiday decorations on their desks, but not on their office doors or in common spaces. Traditional workplace Christmas parties are not an issue at FGCU.
"We don't generally have Christmas parties here," said Audrea Anderson, associate vice president for community relations and marketing. "There are end-of-the-semester parties or end-of-the-calendar-year parties. They are certainly not related to anyone's beliefs."
Sounds like a fun school.
|Connecticut officials don't want to see Journal Register papers close|
Register CitizenConnecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal say they'd be interested in taking part in a bipartisan effort to save the New Britain Herald, Bristol Press and 11 Journal Register-owned weeklies. "That's something that we'd be more than willing to explore," says Rell, a Republican. "I'd be happy to take part," says Blumenthal, a Democrat.
Posted at 11:15 AM
|Labour secretly drew up plans to increase VAT to 18.5 per cent after the next election, official documents revealed last night. |
A Treasury paper suggested that the flagship cut in sales tax to 15 per cent - announced in Monday's Pre-Budget Report - would not only be reversed in 2010, but hiked above its current rate of 17.5 per cent.
The disclosure came as experts warned that middle-income families would be hit by other sweeping tax changes, despite the Treasury's claims.
|The Fairness Doctrine, which forced broadcasters to offer equal time to both sides of controversial issues, was abolished in 1987, paving the way for talk radio to take the opinionated -- and popular -- form it has today.|
Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and such influential Democratic senators as Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer are pushing for its return, or something like it. Could the equal-time provisions pull a Don Imus and make a radio comeback?
It could, industry insiders say. And the government-mandated programing restrictions that come with it could hobble an already struggling industry. Talk-radio hosts are unlikely to accept a new Fairness Doctrine without a fight, though. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are among those already railing against it daily.
|Obama has called on Henry Rivera, who was a commissioner in the 1980s when the Fairness Doctrine existed, to oversee the FCC transition process. Rivera is a supporter of bringing back the provisions. And heading Obama's overall transition team is John Podesta, head of liberal think tank the Center for American Progress. Last year, the CAP issued a report called "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio."|
While the CAP stopped short of advocating a return of the Fairness Doctrine, it did support more stringent adherence to so-called localism, which critics consider a back door to requiring that stations ditch some of their conservative hosts.
Podesta suggests that fines would go to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which operates National Public Radio. He figures that the fees could amount to a $250 million annual transfer of wealth from radio companies to the CPB.
Podesta presented his ideas to a group of Democratic senators, including California's Dianne Feinstein. The group tossed around ideas like the Fairness Doctrine, localism and reducing the size of radio conglomerates, all in the name of making talk radio more "progressive," said Stephanie Miller, an attendee of the meeting.
..But localism is actually a bigger threat because the FCC could introduce it without being accused of trampling on free speech, radio host Michael Medved said. "The Fairness Doctrine is outrageous, but our chances of stopping it are excellent," he said.
Obama, for one, has said he opposes the Fairness Doctrine but supports localism.
Liberal radio cannot stand on its own so just like tax money supports the liberal NPR, the Dems now want to force stations to carry liberal radio which is a failure overall.
Localism is a backdoor tactic but I wonder if it would apply to all national radio hosts? If stations had to dump a Tom Joyner for a local host would that be done without protest to Obama? I doubt it. This is all about busting up the success of conservative talk radio and silencing critics of Black Jesus in the long run.
Sometimes progress just sucks.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
| Four teenagers of Moroccan origin were arrested Saturday evening for setting fire to the Vaste Burcht Reformed church in Gouda. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the door of the church, according to the police. The bottom part of the door and the doormat were damaged.|
The four Gouda residents, three aged 14 and one aged 15, are suspected of arson. The fire was reported at 5:45pm and the directions given by the reporter led to the residence of one of them, where three youth were arrested. The 15 year old suspect was arrested later that evening.
Three of the suspects spent the night in jail. They will appear in court Tuesday. A 14 year old was released after interrogation since there was no evidence of his involvement. The police is continuing with the investigation.
| From the hardened slums of this city to some of Venezuela’s most populous and economically important states, many of President Hugo Chávez’s supporters deserted him in regional elections, showing it is possible to challenge him in areas where he was once thought invincible.|
The outcome of Sunday’s vote was the second blow dealt to the president in a year, after voters rejected last December his plan to alter the Constitution to give himself more power. Although it was unclear whether the results would slow his Socialist-inspired revolution or check his power, they could complicate his ambitions to amend the Constitution to allow him to run again.
Mr. Chávez, who has been in power for 10 years, has focused on raising political consciousness across disenfranchised parts of society. Now, voters in a sizable part of Venezuela sent him a message that they wanted not a monopoly on power, but solutions to economic and social ills that are glaringly apparent on their streets.
Though Mr. Chávez’s allies won 17 of the 22 states in Sunday’s vote, his opponents did well in some poor urban areas, and in states like Zulia, where much of Venezuela’s oil is produced; Carabobo, the home of auto manufacturers and petrochemical plants; and Táchira, rich in agriculture and cattle. Mr. Chávez framed the elections as a plebiscite on his evolving revolutionary ideology, but voters appeared to focus on more mundane concerns like inflation, which at more than 30 percent is the highest rate in Latin America, and fears that an economic boom might be sputtering to an end as oil prices plunge, forcing Mr. Chávez to reconsider his spending plans.
Violent crime, an Achilles’ heel for Mr. Chávez, also weighed heavily on voters. While his government no longer releases detailed homicide statistics, private organizations here put the murder rate in Caracas at about 130 per 100,000, about four times the rate in Medellín, Colombia.
|When Detroit's Big Three automakers return to Capitol Hill next week to re-plead their case for a $25 billion emergency loan, they may be flanked by a posse of supporters.|
A plan is taking shape for auto suppliers, dealers and factory workers to caravan from Detroit to Washington in American-made, fuel-efficient vehicles. The National Automobile Dealers Association is considering flying in dealers from around the country to deliver the "message of Main Street," underscoring the urgency of the industry's crisis.
Discussions on the lobbying efforts began last week immediately after the top executives from Ford, General Motors and Chrysler appeared before a skeptical Congress, setting off a wave of anger and frustration within the auto industry.
Efforts to mobilize a caravan or other demonstration are still in the formative stages and may not come to pass. The United Auto Workers labor union, for instance, has not formally decided if it will participate.
But the talk comes as U.S. automakers race to craft revitalization plans that they hope will prove to Congress that they are worthy of a $25 billion emergency loan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) expect the plans by Dec. 2, and Congress might vote on the loan package Dec. 8.
GM plans on submitting a 10- to 12-page public summary and a more detailed report that would include proprietary information for lawmakers' eyes only, said people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the documents are still being drafted.
| RICHMOND -- Virginia, known for some of the nation's toughest policies on illegal immigration, appears to be abandoning its hard-line approach as state officials consider proposals to help foreign-born residents assimilate, including increasing the number of English classes.|
In the coming weeks, the Virginia Commission on Immigration will send Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) two dozen recommendations, most of which would help immigrants instead of penalizing them.
Those on both sides of the issue say interest in immigration has waned because of the growing economic crisis, a clearer understanding of the state's limitations on a largely federal issue and backlash at the voting booth.
"I think some reality set in," said state Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Chesterfield), the group's chairman.
Recommendations include shortening the Medicaid residency requirements for certain qualified immigrants, offering in-state tuition to immigrants who meet specific criteria and creating an immigration assistance office.
The commission considered but did not adopt proposals to force immigrants to carry special identification cards, allow hospitals to fingerprint patients who do not pay their bills and require proof of legal residence to be eligible for public assistance.
| The second Detroit mayor in a row is facing questions about possible perjury.|
An attorney for Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. acknowledged Monday that his client met last week with state attorneys to discuss a document stating he didn't owe campaign fines in two previous city elections.
Cockrel has since paid $42,000 in fines. Lawyer Michael Hodge says Cockrel believed he didn't have to pay the fines because he was told they would be waived.
Hodge says he expects the state to dismiss the complaint, which was filed by a political consultant.
Cockrel replaced former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is in jail as part of a plea deal in two criminal cases. Kilpatrick was accused of lying under oath about an affair with an aide.
|It is also easy to see why the New Deal struck such a chord. When FDR became president in March 1933, the American economy was facing collapse. Banks had been shut in 32 states, and some 17million people had been thrown out of work — almost a third of the adult workforce.|
There is no doubt that his public works and ‘workfare’ schemes provided desperately needed relief for millions. At a time when welfare was no more than rudimentary, these schemes meant the difference between starvation and survival.
Yet the New Deal was meant to bring not just relief, but economic recovery. In that respect, it failed.
Even after FDR had won three elections, he had still not managed to restore economic confidence or get millions back to work.
And it was not until the gigantic mobilisation of the Second World War that the economy began to inch towards recovery. ‘Mostly Wrapping Paper,’ read the title on
a newspaper cartoon from 1942, showing an ordinary American sitting despondently amid reams of Roosevelt’s broken promises.
Here is the article from a couple of weeks ago that went around the net pointing out the bad results of the New Deal.
FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate.
Monday, November 24, 2008
|There's a move in Arlington to add the names of four historical leaders from different cultures to four different streets.|
Earlier this week, the city decided to move forward on a proposal that would add names to four major roads for the city's minority groups.
A final vote on the measures is still months away.
"I think it is important, because in Arlington we've taken the position — like some of our neighboring cities — of celebrating our diversity," said Teresa Meza, president of the Arlington League of United Latin American Citizens. "We have four major ethnic groups in Arlington: African-Americans, Hispanic, Muslims and the Vietnamese community."
If approved, New York Avenue would have a supplemental name to honor Cesar Chavez; Center Street would add a tribute to Martin Luther King; Arkansas Lane would also be known as "Saigon Lane"; and another street would be designated Al-Salam, meaning "peace" in Arabic.
Tax dollars will not be required for this project. Community organizations will raise money for the changes, if they are approved.
| The Wyoming Department of Corrections says it will allow Muslim inmates at the state penitentiary in Rawlins to time their meals to accommodate their daily prayers.|
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of two Muslim inmates. The lawsuit challenged a prison rule requiring inmates to eat their meals within 20 minutes after delivery, saying the policy forced them to choose between eating meals and praying.
U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer approved an agreement on Wednesday that allows prisoners receiving religious meals to keep their meals in their cells until the next meal is served. It also requires the prison to install a new microwave for inmates that won't be used for pork, which is forbidden to Muslims and members of some other religions.
Stephen Pevar, a lawyer with the ACLU in Connecticut, said Thursday that he credits prison officials for their willingness to make changes to accommodate the inmates.
Congress passed a law in 2000 that was intended to make certain that prisoners could practice their religions in prison unless doing so clearly threatened prison security, Pevar said.
....In the current lawsuit, the ACLU represented Muslim inmates Joseph Miller and Hurie Purdiman Jr. against the corrections department. Pevar said other inmates, including both Muslims and Jews, will take advantage of the prison's agreement to install a new microwave oven that won't be used for pork.
"It's a quick fix to a problem that caused a number of Muslim prisoners to not be able to eat," Pevar said.
On the issue of timing meals to allow Muslim inmates to perform their prayers, the agreement calls for prison staff to alert inmates before meals are served in the dining hall and also to allow inmates receiving religious meals to go to the front of the serving line to get their meals. It also establishes a procedure for inmates who must fast until after sundown to get their meals when their fasts are over.
I am sure the other inmates happy about this and it won't cause any strife or resentment.
| For a more instructional tale of how to farm out programming blocks the proper way, it's already happened to a one once-vibrant daypart: Saturday morning. As youngsters fled to such cablers as Nickelodeon and Disney, and the kids TV marketplace collapsed, the nets wound up selling the time to production companies like 4Kids (Fox and CW) or programmers like Discovery Kids (NBC).|
Now, get ready for an even more radical change on Saturday mornings: As Fox parts ways with 4Kids (the deal expires at the end of the year), the network is adopting an unprecedented model for the daypart: Infomercials.
In a network first, Fox has given two of its four Saturday morning hours back to affiliates. But the other two, cleared on 95% of its stations, will now be sold to advertisers -- who will use the time to sell products.
Fox's Saturday morning "Weekend Marketplace" will kick off in January with the usual infomercial fare seen latenight on cable or local TV stations. Fox hopes to eventually attract big-name advertisers to produce more network-worthy "long-form informational programming."
Whatever it's called, the Fox block reps the first time a broadcast network has devoted a regular block of programming for infomercials.
|As if they haven't done enough damage. Thousands of subprime mortgage lenders and brokers — many of them the very sorts of firms that helped create the current financial crisis — are going strong. Their new strategy: taking advantage of a long-standing federal program designed to encourage homeownership by insuring mortgages for buyers of modest means.|
You read that correctly. Some of the same people who propelled us toward the housing market calamity are now seeking to profit by exploiting billions in federally insured mortgages. Washington, meanwhile, has vastly expanded the availability of such taxpayer-backed loans as part of the emergency campaign to rescue the country's swooning economy.
For generations, these loans, backed by the Federal Housing Administration, have offered working-class families a legitimate means to purchase their own homes. But now there's a severe danger that aggressive lenders and brokers schooled in the rash ways of the subprime industry will overwhelm the FHA with loans for people unlikely to make their payments. Exacerbating matters, FHA officials seem oblivious to what's happening — or incapable of stopping it. They're giving mortgage firms licenses to dole out 100 percent-insured loans despite lender records blotted by state sanctions, bankruptcy filings, civil lawsuits, and even criminal convictions.
|Founded during the New Deal, the FHA is supposed to promote first-time home purchases. Open to all applicants, it allows small down payments — as little as 3% — and lenient standards on borrower income, as long as mortgage and related expenses don't exceed 31 percent of household earnings. In exchange for taxpayer-backed insurance on attractively priced fixed-rate loans, buyers pay a modest fee. Lenders and brokers can get a license to participate in FHA programs if they demonstrate industry experience and knowledge of agency rules.|
During the subprime boom, the FHA atrophied as borrowers migrated to the too-good-to-be-true deals that featured terms such as extremely low introductory interest rates that later jumped skyward. But since the subprime market vaporized in 2007, FHA-backed loans have become all that's available for many borrowers. By fall 2008, FHA loans accounted for 26 percent of all new mortgages being issued nationwide, up from only 4 percent a year earlier. As of Sept. 30, the most recent date for which data are publicly available, the FHA had 4.4 million single-family mortgages under guarantee, worth a total of $475 billion.
A swelling ‘tsunami’
Congress and the Bush Administration are strongly encouraging lenders to apply for FHA approval and tap into the government's loan-guarantee reservoir. In September, the agency guaranteed 140,000 new loans, up from 60,000 in January. In October, as Congress and the White House scrambled to respond to the spreading financial disaster, the FHA began to extend $300 billion in additional loan guarantees under the banner of a new program called HOPE for Homeowners. The limit on the amount buyers may borrow will rise in January to $625,000 from $362,790 in 2007.
Some current and former federal housing officials say the agency isn't anywhere close to being equipped to deal with the onslaught of lenders seeking to cash in. Thirty-six thousand lenders now have FHA licenses, up from 16,000 in mid-2007. FHA "faces a tsunami" in the form of ex-subprime lenders who favor aggressive sales tactics and sometimes engage in outright fraud, says Kenneth M. Donohue Sr., the inspector general for HUD. "I am very concerned that the same players who brought us problems in the subprime area are now reconstituting themselves and bringing loans into the FHA portfolio," he adds.
Now with unemployment going up, a huge illegal immigrant population that drains taxpayer's money, what is the best solution to shore up your budget deficit? Just raise taxes even higher in a bad economy.
| Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday he believed US president-elect Barack Obama could change Washington's position over a hotly contested plan for a US missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.|
Asked if he saw a chance of a shift on the issue under Obama, Medvedev told reporters: "I think there are chances, because if the position of the current administration on this question looks extremely inflexible, the position of the president-elect looks more careful."
Striking a positive note about relations with the next US administration, Medvedev referred to the Obama team's refusal so far to establish its position on missile defense, after Poland claimed the matter was already decided and the project would go ahead.
"It shows at least our future American partners are thinking about this.
"They don't have a once-and-for-always prepared template for solving this problem.
"It means dialogue is possible.... A change of position is possible," Medvedev said.
| In future years we may look back at the Great Mexican Tortilla Crisis of 2006 as the time when ethanol lost its vroom.|
Right or wrong, that was when blame firmly settled on biofuels for the surge in food prices. The diversion of American corn from flour to fuel put the flat corn bread out of reach for Mexico's poorest.
Two years later, the search is on for ways to keep corn on the table rather than in the gas tank. Moving away from food crops, the biofuel of the future may come from the tall grass growing wild by the roadside, from grain stalks left behind by the harvest, and from garbage dumps and dinner table scraps.
....Governments encouraged the switch to alternative fuels in recent years to lessen dependence on imported oil. But producers are taking a hard look at the food crops used as raw material for these so-called first-generation biofuels. After all, they too had to pay more as prices spiked.
"They got burned. They don't want to go through that problem again," said Vicky Sharpe, director of Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which administers a US$1 billion Canadian government fund to invest in clean technologies.
| Although the tanking economy, not war, dominated the presidential election campaign, holding Barack Obama to his pledge to promptly withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq remains a priority for a broad cross-section of South Floridians.|
As the president-elect prepares to take office, local political leaders, anti-war activists and military veterans of Iraq insist Obama must stick to his campaign promise to have most U.S. troops out of Iraq within 16 months.
"I hope for an even more expedited timeline," said Lake Worth City Commissioner Cara Jennings. "We don't want war without end."
At the same time, the economy is sure to be the chief focus of the Obama administration, even before the new president is inaugurated Jan. 20.
"Of the issues that affect everyone across South Florida, in the last six or seven months, it is the economy, the economy, the economy," said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D- Weston, a consistent opponent of the war, which began with an invasion led by the United States in March 2003.
As she campaigned in her 20th Congressional District and around the United States for Democratic candidates, Wasserman Schultz said the war was rarely brought up by voters.
"It is troubling that it is not a top issue," she said.
....Fellow Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner is impatient with talk of delays. An Army Reservist who spent 11 months in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, Prysner, 25, favors an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops.
"Every single day that the war goes on is a tragedy," said Prysner, a Delray Beach resident and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Prysner mounted a write-in campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D- Boca Raton.
Anything less than a rapid end to the U.S. involvement is a nod to "economic interests," Prysner said.
"We need to build a movement, and be in the streets on day one, putting pressure on Obama," said Prysner, a student at Florida Atlantic University.
This is South Florida at its finest, no logical thinking just a now now now now attitude damn the consequences. This is the kind of thinking in the anti-war movement that in reality does nothing for them in getting results.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I hope its some funky regional deal or private vs corp owned McDonalds. But still damn it, I want my cheap fast food.
Now if Wendy's kills off the 99 cent double stack, there will be problems.
|To make matters worse, Citigroup’s risk models never accounted for the possibility of a national housing downturn, this person said, and the prospect that millions of homeowners could default on their mortgages.|
Such a downturn did come, of course, with disastrous consequences for Citigroup and its rivals on Wall Street.
Even as the first shock waves of the subprime mortgage crisis hit Bear Stearns in June 2007, Citigroup’s top executives expressed few concerns about their bank’s exposure to mortgage-linked securities.
In fact, when examiners from the Securities and Exchange Commission began scrutinizing Citigroup’s subprime mortgage holdings after Bear Stearns’s problems surfaced, the bank told them that the probability of those mortgages defaulting was so tiny that they excluded them from their risk analysis, according to a person briefed on the discussion who would speak only without being named.