Thursday, December 2, 2010

United States to Bailout the European Union

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse than it already was, the United States government under the command of President Barack Obama throws another pitch right in the dirt to screw the American taxpayer.

Apparently it is a good thing to bailout a foreign government entity.

From NBC News:

The United States would be ready to support the extension of the European Financial Stability Facility via an extra commitment of money from the International Monetary Fund, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday.

"There are a lot of people talking about that. I think the European Commission has talked about that," said the U.S. official, commenting on enlarging the 750 billion euro ($980 billion) EU/IMF European stability fund. "It is up to the Europeans. We will certainly support using the IMF in these circumstances."

How much money are we going to throw off the cliff until we realize the fallacy behind this nonsense? When are we going to get a President that will stand up to the global elite and the federal reserve and demand that the American way of life be protected and the not the actions of the EU, UN, or some other world governing body?


Weather outlook on Super-Earth: steamy

Scientists have come up with their first weather report for a super-Earth -- a type of planet two to 10 times bigger than Earth that doesn't exist in our solar system, but which holds much promise in the search for extraterrestrial life.

GJ 1214b, located about 40 light-years from Earth, could be a water world, with an atmosphere of dense steam. It may also be a mini-Neptune with an atmosphere of hydrogen topped by thick clouds.

Full story at Discovery News.

ECB Decision No Surprise to Market

By Barbara Zigah
The European Central Bank met earlier today to discuss what steps they will need to take to prevent a Eurozone economic meltdown, with Portugal and Spain perhaps the next to fall.  The decision to leave interest rates unchanged was expected.  At a press conference in Frankfurt, the ECB President, Jean-Claude Trichet commented that the stance of the current monetary policy remains accommodative, and will be adjusted as deemed appropriate, given that the non-standard measures are temporary in nature, by construction.   He reiterated that the Council would continue to monitor the Eurozone situation very closely.

The majority of analysts cautioned, however, that the ECB’s options were somewhat limited, and they expect markets to be largely disappointed.  What markets would like to have seen is the implementation of a quantitative easing scheme, specifically a massive bond buying program, similar to the recently implemented QE set in motion last month by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank.  Unfortunately, the consensus was that it wouldn’t happen, and even if it did, it wouldn’t be in the scale desired or required, according to some economists, who say the Eurozone might need as much as €1 trillion.

What worries many is that the ECB would simply continue the existing LTRO (long term refinancing operation) approach, considered by many to be wholly inadequate to stem the contagion.  Certainly, the repercussion of maintaining the status quo will in the long run wreak havoc on the common currency, today EUR/USD trading at $1.3140.  Last month alone, the Euro declined nearly 7% last month against the U.S. Dollar, but likewise weakened against other majors.

Not that a weakened Euro is a bad thing, as theoretically it makes European goods all the more attractive and exports should rise accordingly.  Third quarter exports rose 1.9% in the Eurozone, lower than the 4.3% increase in the 2nd quarter, but the Euro had gained strength early in the 3rd quarter and only started weakening at the half-way point.

Of course, there was the little matter of the recent “pledge” among the G20 participants that no country would intentionally intervene in their country’s currency and rekindle the currency wars.  Certainly, taking advantage of a decline in the Euro as a by-product of ECB policy shouldn’t be considered a violation of that pledge.  The fact is the ECB needs to do what it needs to do to encourage growth and ensure the survival of the Eurozone… one way or another.

Copyright 2010 eToro Blog

Trichet 'Held Hostage' as Markets Pressure ECB to Intensify Crisis Fight

The last time Jean-Claude Trichet refused to bow to market pressure, he was forced into a U-turn. This time the stakes may be even higher.

With the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis now threatening to engulf Spain, its fourth-largest economy, investors are again looking for the President of the European Central Bank to do something to stop it, such as delaying the withdrawal of unlimited liquidity support for banks and significantly ramping up its bond purchases. The risk is that the ECB becomes a bail- out tool for politicians -- damaging its independence -- the very scenario Trichet wanted to avoid when he was pressed into the unprecedented step of buying government debt in May.

“To some extent the ECB is being held hostage by financial markets,” said Juergen Michels, chief euro-region economist at Citigroup Inc. in London. “As the existing measures are unlikely to be sufficient to solve the problems in the periphery, the ECB probably will be forced to increase its programs substantially.”

On May 6, as Greece’s budget crisis was fueling investor concerns about the fiscal health of other euro-area nations, Trichet resisted pressure to employ new measures, saying it was up to governments to lead the way. That lack of action triggered a bond-market selloff, forcing the ECB to tear up its rule book and provoking a split on its Governing Council.


Trichet finds himself in a similar position today after the European Union-led rescue package for Ireland failed to convince investors that policy makers have the tools required, or the resolve needed, to contain the crisis, prompting them to dump Irish, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Belgian assets.

Did a U.S. ambassador accuse Sri Lanka's president of war crimes?

Are we surprised to learn, via WikiLeaks, that American diplomats in Colombo blame Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his top officials for the massacre of tens of thousands (by most estimates) of Tamil civilians during the final months of Sri Lanka's bloody civil war? The goods are in a Jan. 15 cable sent by U.S. Amb. Patricia A. Butenis on the eve of Sri Lanka's presidential elections (which Rajapaksa won handily). Butenis was assessing the country's ability to come to terms with the atrocities committed in the protracted conflict between the government and the Tamil Tigers rebel group, which was defeated in May 2009 after nearly three decades of fighting.

In May, the Sri Lankan government announced plans to launch a "truth and reconciliation commission," modeled on South Africa's post-Apartheid investigation, to look into the brutal last phase of the war, in which large numbers of Tamil civilians were trapped between the government and rebel troops. Human rights groups aren't exactly holding their breath for the results of the ongoing inquiry, led as it is by the same government that was allegedly responsible for most of the carnage. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and International Crisis Group -- which released a sweeping and damning report on the war crimes in May -- all turned down invitations to participate. Butenis, it turns out, was similarly nonplussed, writing:
There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power. In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country's senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General [Sarath] Fonseka.
This last observation gets headline treatment from the Guardian, and it is notable for Butenis's willingness to name names. But the State Department has been fairly clear, albeit more diplomatic, about what it thinks happened in the spring of 2009, in a report released in March:
The government's respect for human rights declined as armed conflict reached its conclusion. Outside of the conflict zone, the overwhelming majority of victims of human rights violations, such as extrajudicial killings and disappearances, were young male Tamils, while Tamils were estimated to be only 16 percent of the overall population. Credible reports cited unlawful killings by paramilitaries and others believed to be working with the awareness and assistance of the government, assassinations by unknown perpetrators, politically motivated killings, and disappearances.
An August report from State also (cautiously) expressed concern about the integrity of the government's commission. In short, Butenis's assessment is generally consistent with what humanitarian workers on the ground in Sri Lanka at the time of the conflict thought State's position was -- one that may not have been shared by American defense and intelligence personnel, who were believed to be less squeamish about the military campaign against the Tigers.

I asked Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka project director for ICG, about the cable. He says it contains few surprises:
It's certainly consistent with how the embassy and the State Department are looking at the situation. They knew bad things happened -- they're calling them "alleged" war crimes, but I think in a quiet moment they would say they were war crimes. They recognize that that happened. But they don't think there's the space internally for it to be addressed. So I don't think we're learning a whole lot new. What would tell us more, and what will be more interesting, and where the issues are a bit more gray, is what happened during the war -- what did the U.S. government know, and what did it do, or not do, to prevent the worst abuses and suffering?

Aretha Franklin To Undergo Mystery Medical Procedure Thursday

Aretha Franklin -- the legendary Queen of Soul -- is set to undergo a medical procedure Thursday, but no one will say what the procedure is, can report.

Franklin, who Rolling Stone ranked atop its' list of of The Greatest Singers of All Time, said "all prayers are good" in a statement to her fans, who held a vigil Wednesday in downtown Detriot in her honor.

Franklin, 68, on doctor's orders, last month cancelled all of her future concert dates through May 2011. Her spokesperson Tracey Jordan declined to comment on the Respect singer's current condition, or what type of procedure she'll be undergoing.

Franklin last year was the only singer invited to perform at President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony.

WikiLeaks founder ‘wanted’ by Interpol over rape claims

Julian Assange
Julian Assange
WikiLeaks founder ‘wanted’ by Interpol over rape claims

12/01/2010 03:27
Julian Assange placed on most-wanted list after Sweden issues arrest warrant against him; US State Department disconnects access to its files.

WASHINGTON — Interpol on Wednesday placed WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape probe — involving allegations Assange has denied. The Interpol alert is likely to make international travel more difficult for Assange, whose whereabouts are publicly unknown.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the US State Department severed its computer files from the government’s classified network, officials said, as US and world leaders tried to clean up from the leak that sent America’s sensitive documents onto computer screens around the globe.

WikiLeaks: Assad – Iran not pursuing nuclear weapons
‘US planned Wikileaks to pressure Iran’
By temporarily pulling the plug, the US significantly reduced the number of government employees who can read important diplomatic messages. It was an extraordinary hunkering down, prompted by the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of those messages this week by WikiLeaks, the self-styled whistleblower organization.

The documents revealed that the US is still confounded about North Korea’s nuclear military ambitions, that Iran is believed to have received advanced missiles capable of targeting Western Europe and — perhaps most damaging to the US — that the State Department asked its diplomats to collect DNA samples and other personal information about foreign leaders.

While Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, taunted the US from afar on Tuesday, lawyers from across the government were investigating whether it could prosecute him for espionage, a senior defense official said. The official, not authorized to comment publicly, spoke only on condition of anonymity.

There have been suggestions that Assange or others involved in the leaks could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, but the question could be complicated. Who and what is he and his website? He has portrayed himself as a crusading journalist, and the Justice Department has steered clear of prosecuting journalists for publishing leaked secrets.

Earlier on Tuesday US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley sought to reassure the world that US diplomats were not spies, even as he sidestepped questions about why they were asked to provide DNA samples, iris scans, credit card numbers, fingerprints and other deeply personal information about leaders at the United Nations and in foreign capitals.

Diplomats in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion, for instance, were asked in a secret March 2008 cable to provide “biometric data, to include fingerprints, facial images, iris scans, and DNA” for numerous prominent politicians. They were also asked to send “identities information” on terrorist suspects, including “fingerprints, arrest photos, DNA and iris scans.”

Posted by Lynda

Lady Antebellum Gets Grammy Glory

  BY  Tom Roland

Lady Antebellum photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

Hello, world: Just in case anyone was left on the planet that hadn’t figured out how significant Lady Antebellum was this year, the Recording Academy slipped the band into three of the big-four, multi-genre categories on the prestigious Grammy Awards ballot. Finalists in the general-interest categories were unveiled Wednesday during a one-hour nominations special on CBS.

“Need You Now” and the album of the same name were tabbed as finalists for Record, Song and Album of the Year, pitting Lady A against such pop, rock and rap acts as Eminem, Katy Perry and Arcade Fire.
Miranda Lambert sang her snarky “Only Prettier” on the special, which also saw “The House That Built Me” gain a Song of the Year nomination for composers Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin. As a result, two country titles — “Need You Now” and “House” — are among the five Song of the Year finalists, something that’s only happened seven times in the Grammys’ previous 52 years.

“Country music right now, we have a great name for ourselves,” Miranda told the Associated Press prior to the announcement. “We’ve all worked real hard to get it out there and make it cool, and I think it’s working, so I’m glad to be part of it.”

Lady A and Lady Gaga were tied with six nominations, the same number as Jay-Z. The only acts to surpass them were Eminem, who amassed 10; and Bruno Mars, who picked up seven. Zac Brown Band racked up four, while Miranda, Dierks Bentley and Jamey Johnson nabbed three apiece.

Among the other names in the country categories were Keith Urban, Chris Young, Gretchen Wilson, Alan Jackson, LeAnn Rimes, Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, Jewel and Toby Keith.

Country acts also made their way into a number of non-country categories. Ricky Skaggs, Diamond Rio and Ty Herndon have gospel nominations. Rosanne Cash, Patty Loveless, Willie Nelson and Mary Chapin Carpenter are also up for a variety of folk and bluegrass awards.

Also worth a mention: Lady A’s “Need You Now” co-writer, Josh Kear, is up for Song of the Year for the second time in his career. He was also nominated for that trophy three years ago for co-authoring the Carrie Underwood hit “Before He Cheats.”

Go here for a complete list of nominees. The awards will be presented Feb. 13 from Los Angeles.

World Cup Host Annoucement

US World Cup Hosts?
Is the US a World Cup host?

The long-awaited announcement about who will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 is finally here.
Countries lobbied for the honor, sending in their celebrities and reassuring the committee that their countries would make the Fifa World Cup be an event to remember.

The US was feeling confident in their bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals. Were they right? Will the games be in the US?

The 2018 host announcement came first, of course. England was the favorite. But, it seems that they got knocked out due to rumors of corruption. Or so the gossips say, anyway.

So, the host of the World Cup 2018, as decided by the committee is…. Russia.
The winner to host the 2022 games is Qatar! What an upset for the US!!!! Quata is the tiniest nation to ever submit a bid, so this is definitely a surprise.

What do you think about the World Cup hosts?

Source: ESPN

Photo: PRPhotos