CommunityThe Bullpen

The Roundup for November 14, 2012

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Good evening, all.

International Developments

? Israel’s IDF struck “over 20 underground rocket launchers in Gaza”. Update: “Israeli air strike kills Hamas military chief Jabari“.

International Finance

? General Strike in the eurozone! As the European Trade Confederation says, “Austerity is a total dead end, and must be abandoned.” Millions of Europeans struck and marched, but “there was also a violent, even desperate edge to the demonstrations, particularly in Madrid and several Italian cities.”

? Lower growth and higher inflation for the eurozone–that’s the prediction of Sir Mervyn King, Bank of England Governor. 1% growth for the next year, possibly three. 3% inflation near-term, maybe falling back in the second half of 2013.

Money Matters USA

? It’s been stalled since September, but the Senate yesterday finally passed a cost-of-living adjustment for the 3.9+million veterans and survivors yesterday. It’s a 1.7% increase which Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) says will result in an additional $500/year.

? Yves Smith points out that the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast of an “89.7% federal debt to GDP ratio by 2022” (precluding any policy changes) excludes one very significant component–“the federal government’s financial assets”, which brings the ratio down to under 82% by 2020. There are some other issues with the CBO analysis as well.

? Take a walk with Matt Levine down Bank of America Path through Mortgage Fraud Land. Fannie Mae thinks BofA should buy back some old mortgages, so BofA is suing them. They’re also suing MBIA over mortgage fraud, which is also suing BofA for same. MBIA has done some rapid shuffling lately–and BofA some fast responding. It’s a real head-spinner.

? Speaking of which, the Federal Housing Administration has just about exhausted its reserves “because of rising mortgage delinquencies”, and will probably have to ask for taxpayer funds “for the first time in its 78-year history.”

? “A drop in auto sales drove US retail sales lower in October after a strong gain in September”, according to the US Commerce Dept. In addition, “Rental car agencies ‘sold out‘ due to Sandy”.

? Consolidation seems to be overtaking competition: Four huge meatpacking companies control 72% of the poultry market; two multinational corporations control 80% of the beer sold in the US; and consolidation in publications is rapidly occurring right now.

Politics USA

? “Sen John Cornyn (R-TX), the newly elected Minority Whip, invoked the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission Wednesday as a ‘roadmap’ for upcoming deficit-reduction negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff.” The prospect of Cornyn as Minority Whip elicited this response on Morning Joe: “Cornyn getting promoted is an unbelievable thing given what happened [all those GOP losses while Cornyn was National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair]. . . . his losses in the senate races speaks for itself.”

? Speculation that Elizabeth Warren is not a shoo-in for the Senate Banking Committee.

? Michael Morell, CIA Deputy Director, currently standing in for the departed David Petraeus, is expected by some to be made permanent CIA Director. His experience with the agency–including the August 2001 Bush briefing about 9/11–is quite interesting.

? Paula Broadwell had taken classified military documents home and federal agents were at her home Monday night to retrieve them, apparently.

? David Petraeus “will voluntarily testify before congressional panels investigating the September terrorist attack in Beghazi, Libya, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday.” DiFi didn’t say exactly when he will appear, though it come be as early as Friday.

? Luke Russert asked Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) if her continuing as House Minority Leader might not prevent “younger Democrats from moving into leadership positions.” Pelosi’s response? “Let’s, for a moment, honor it as a legitimate question, although it’s quite offensive, but you don’t realize that, I guess.” Video.

? Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted made a last-minute effort to throw out legitimate provisional ballots at 7:00 pm on Friday, Nov 2nd. US District Judge Algenon Marbley was infuriated, exclaiming that “democracy dies in the dark”. Thanks to Judge Marbley, none of the ballots will be thrown out on the basis of Husted’s Friday night effort. The transcript of that night in court is a great read.

? KKKKarl, still being peppered with questions about the Big Fail of November 6: “I hate to say it, but we need to copy what Howard Dean did. And that is make our ground game in all 50 states.”

? In AZ’s 2nd Congressional District, Republican Martha McSally is running a very close race against incumbent Democrat Ron Barber. McSally called in “two high-powered lawyers” to halt counting of 130 provisional ballots which arrived unsealed at the Cochise County Elections Department. The ballots were from a predominantly Latino area. The voting is continuing, but “the votes may be challenged in the future.”

? At a gathering of Obama supporters, a reporter asked US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about a sale of 1700 wild horses to a Colorado businessman who allegedly sent them to Mexican slaughterhouses. Afterwards, Salazar told the reporter, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out.” This was witnessed; Interior says Salazar “regrets the exchange.”

? TX Gov Perry and Lt Gov Dewhurst support drug testing for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families applicants through Senate Bill 11. Democrat State Rep Joe Deshotel has challenged Perry and Dewhurst “to support adding a drug test requirements to the application to run for state office in Texas.” Or, “Lead by Example – Give Us A Sample”.

Health, Homelessness & Hunger

? Almost 35 million US adults were living in others’ homes during 2012. Most (17.2 million) were adult children of the householder, and their number has been steadily increasing since around 2004. The number of unemployed adult children living with their parents has almost doubled since 2007–from 1.3 to 2.5 million.

Women & Children

? Another woman died because she could not obtain an abortion in Ireland. She succumbed to septicemia, after repeatedly asking for termination of the pregnancy while she was in the process of miscarrying.

? In its annual report, and for the first time, the UN Population Fund “explicitly describes family planning as a human right.”

Working for A Living

?’s petition called for the federal government to provide all Hurricane Sandy first responders with health benefits. “Today, the Office of Personnel Management [announced] it will immediately begin providing permanent health benefits to more than 8,000 disaster assistance employees who work on intermittent or temporary schedules.”

Heads Up!

? “TransCanada Bulldozes Texas Farmer’s Renewable Biofuels Business”. “Feeling he had no other legal recourse to stop them, . . . he decided to settle with the industry in a pre-court hearing on Friday.”

Planet Earth News

? The next report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “is going to scare the wits out of everyone [and] will create new political momentum.”

? “Al Gore calls on Barack Obama to ‘act boldly‘ on climate change: Former vice-president and climate champion urges re-elected president to immediately begin pushing for a carbon tax.”

Latin America

? “Colombia’s Liberal Party . . . wants the country’s judicial authorities to investigate allegations made by Israeli mercenary Yair Klein who had testified that a Colombian ex-president took part in the creation and training of paramilitary groups in the 1980s.” The father of one member of the Liberal Party was murdered by death squad in 1989.

Mixed Bag

? DDay’s highly recommended restaurant review.

Break Time

? The genius of Ansel Adams.

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