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Dec 28, 2010

Hot Trade in Private shares of FacebookFinancial &B Forex Info News ( F & F I N ) | The Australian IT

Financial & Forex Info News (F & F I N )

Hot trade in private shares of Facebook
TRADING in shares of still-private Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn has surged in recent months.
IT teacher let off for lewd remarks
AN IT teacher who made sexual comments to a female student has been allowed to remain in the classroom.
Alcatel-Lucent settles US bribery charges
FRENCH telecommunications firm Alcatel-Lucent will pay more than $US137 million to settle charges it bribed governments in Latin America and Asia.
Intel, AMD to unveil combination chips
CHIPMAKERS soon will deliver one of biggest advances in years in the technology that powers laptop and desktop computers.
Apple world's most valuable tech company
APPLE dethroned Microsoft as the world's most valuable technology company in 2010 as its co-founder Steve Jobs soared to new heights.
Click here for all headlines

Financial And Forex Info News ( F & F I N ) | KITCO New York Metal Market Close Report

New York Market Close Dec 28/10 05:20 PM EST
Metals Bid Ask Change Low High

Dai-ichi in $1.2bn bid for Tower. | Financial & Forex Info News | The Australian Business Briefing

Financial & Forex Info New ( F & F I N )

Dai-ichi in $1.2bn bid for Tower
Dai-ichi Tracy Lee TOWER Australia shareholders are set for a windfall after Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance made a takeover offer of Y99.6 billion ($1.19bn).
Wall St edges up to new 2010 peak
Wall Street Kristina Peterson US blue-chip stocks edged up to hit a fresh 2010 closing high in thin trading today, led by gains in Chevron and Hewlett-Packard.
Flat returns from a two-speed economy
flat returns Tim Boreham AUSTRALIAN shares are facing a flat to negative year of returns for only the third time in a decade.
Good year ahead, depending on China
CHINA-STOCKS-IPO-COMPANY Katherine Jimenez THE past year was another challenging one for investors, as debt ructions in Europe and a moribund US economy put a dampener on sentiment.
China cuts rare earth export quotas
Rare earths Yajun Zhang CHINA cut first-half 2011 quotas on exports of rare-earth metals about 35 per cent, a move likely to exacerbate concerns among global buyers.
Tata not averse to Rio coal takeover
Riversdale Mining Sarah-Jane Tasker RIVERSDALE Mining's largest shareholder is not averse to the mining giant's $3.9 billion bid for the coalminer.
Senate urged to back off on Metcash ruling
Metcash Blair Speedy THE Law Council and consumer advocate Choice have urged the Senate to drop an inquiry into the ACCC's blocking of Metcash's bid for Franklins.
Comeback king Formica paves way to profit
Jonathan Ling Tracy Lee FORMICA, one of the world's largest suppliers of high-pressure laminate, almost spelt the end for Fletcher Building just two years ago.
Financial Markets
Wall St edges up to new 2010 peak
Wall Street Kristina Peterson US blue-chip stocks edged up to hit a fresh 2010 closing high in thin trading today, led by gains in Chevron and Hewlett-Packard.
Oil rises despite weak US data
Gold moves back above $US1400 level
Financial Markets Coverage
Mining & Energy
Oil rises despite weak US data
oil Dan Strumpf OIL climbed today, as traders brushed off reports on falling US home prices and consumer confidence.
Gold moves back above $US1400 level
China cuts rare earth export quotas
More Mining & Energy Coverage

Stocks Inch To Another Mixed Close On Tuesday - U.S. Commentary . RTTNews Evening Market Wrap

Evening Market Wrap Tue Dec 28  2010


Dec 28, 2010 Stocks Inch To Another Mixed Close On Tuesday - U.S. Commentary Stocks crawled to another mixed close on Tuesday, extending their recent streak of lackluster sessions. Disappointing news on consumer confidence and housing prices failed to jolt the markets into any meaningful movement, as Wall Street remained in holiday mode with 2010 winding down. Full Article

Economic News

Dec 28, 2010 U.S. Home Prices Fell 0.8% Annually In October U.S. home prices fell by a much steeper than expected annual rate in the month of October, according to a report released by Standard & Poor's on Tuesday, with the data contributing to renewed concerns about the outlook for the housing market. The report showed that the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index fell at an annual rate of 0.8 percent in October after increasing at a revised annual rate of 0.4 percent in September. Full Article
Dec 28, 2010 U.S. Consumer Confidence Shows Unexpected Drop In December Consumer confidence in the U.S. unexpectedly deteriorated in the month of December, the Conference Board revealed in a report on Tuesday, with the consumer confidence index pulling back off the five-month high it set in November. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index fell to 52.5 in December from an upwardly revised 54.3 in November. The decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the index to climb to 56.1. Full Article

Corporate News

Dec 28, 2010 CES 2011: Internet TV, Tablet Computers To Take Center StageThe holiday season is heaven for techies. The latest consumer electronic devices were under the tree on Christmas morning, and with the annual Consumer Electronics show taking place less than a week into the new year, early adopters will get a peek at what Santa might bring next year. On January 6, Las Vegas will once again play host to the world's largest gathering of consumer electronics makers. Salivating techies and throngs of journalists will flock to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to see the what's in store for 2011. Full Article
Dec 28, 2010 What's Driving Rare Earth Element Stocks?Rare earth elements, also known as green elements, are a group of seventeen metals, whose unique properties have made them indispensable for clean energy technologies, advanced water filtration systems and national defense. The emerging green energy technologies like hybrid and electric vehicles and wind power turbines; high-tech applications like fiber optics, lasers and hard disk drives and numerous defense systems are dependent on rare earth materials for functionality. Full Article

Political News

Dec 28, 2010 Tea Party Organizer Files To Run In Virginia Senate RaceTea Party organizer Jamie Radtke is throwing her hat in the ring in the race for the Republican nomination for the Virginia Senate seat currently held by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virg. Radtke, the chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots, has filed federal papers to run in the Republican primary in 2012. Full Article

Investor doubts linger over holiday sales upside | Financial And Forex Info News ( F & F I N ) | Reuters - Daily Investor Update

Financial & Forex Info News ( F & F I N )


 Reuters - Daily Investor Update

Consumer confidence slips as home prices decline
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consumer confidence unexpectedly deteriorated in December, while prices of single-family homes fell almost double the expected pace in October, tempering growing optimism on the economy's recovery. | Full Article

S&P, Dow rise on energy, keeping rally alive
December 28, 2010 04:37 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 rose in light trading on Tuesday, extending December's rally, as cold weather in the Northeast lifted oil prices and energy shares. | Full Article
Investor doubts linger over holiday sales upside
December 28, 2010 03:02 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New sales data confirm that retailers are poised to show their best holiday season in three years, but investors seemed unimpressed as concerns mount that shoppers will pull back in the new year. | Full Article
Ex-HP CEO Hurd fights to keep letter confidential
December 28, 2010 03:47 PM ET
WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard Co's former chief executive, Mark Hurd, asked to intervene in a Delaware shareholder lawsuit as he tries to keep private a letter tied to his abrupt departure. | Full Article
China cuts rare earth export quotas, U.S. concerned
December 28, 2010 02:56 PM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - China announced on Tuesday it will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals by more than 11 percent in the first half of 2011, further shrinking supplies of metals needed to make a range of high-tech products after Beijing slashed quotas for 2010. | Full Article

Tax law means 2% pay hike in 2011: MarketWatch: Personal Finance Daily

Personal Finance Daily
DECEMBER 28, 2010

Tuesday's Personal Finance stories

By MarketWatch

Don't miss these top stories:
The New Year is almost here, but it's not too late to take some steps this week to get your personal finances in better shape for 2011. Read Jennifer Openshaw's column today for 10 money moves to make now.

Another personal-finance task to consider this week: planning for the windfall coming to your paycheck starting in January, thanks to the Tax Relief Act passed on Dec. 17, which included a provision to reduce employees' share of the Social Security portion of payroll taxes to 4.2% in 2011, from 6.2% currently.

For workers who pay into Social Security (that excludes most federal government workers), the new tax break essentially means a 2% pay hike for 2011, on your income up to $106,800 — though that 2% applies solely to the wages on which you currently pay the Social Security tax known as OASDI (for Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance).

Keep in mind that the higher payout may not show up in your first paycheck in January. The IRS has published new withholding tables for employers to use, but employers have until Jan. 31 to make the change, according to CCH Inc., a Riverwoods, Ill.-based tax publisher and unit of Wolters Kluwer.

Also remember this: This partial and temporary payroll tax holiday comes at the same time that the Making Work Pay credit ends. That tax credit, if you were eligible, added up to $400 to your paycheck annually in 2009 and 2010, so that tax break's sunset will decrease your paycheck slightly.

What can you do with the money? There's that ever-popular personal-finance tip: pay down credit-card debt. Another idea: start an automated savings plan.

Setting up a savings plan is an easy New Year's resolution to keep — it only takes an hour or two to set up an online account (online-only banks usually offer higher interest rates on savings) and to start automated transfers from your regular bank account — and it can go a long way to improving how you feel about your personal finances throughout 2011.

If you already have an automated savings plan, consider either ramping up the amount you're saving or hiking your 401(k) contribution. But don't tell Congress I said so, because encouraging savings is not what this tax break is supposed to be about.

Andrea Coombes , Personal Finance editor
Ten money moves to make now

New Year's Eve is almost here, but don't let that stop you from making some important money moves now, before Dec. 31, so you can reap the benefits in 2011.
Read more: Ten money moves to make now.


Minimum wage set to rise in seven states

This New Year hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers have good reason to pop open some bubbly, or at least sip some tasty winter brew.
Read more: Minimum wage set to rise in seven states.


The economy is great if you have money

U.S. consumers seem to have a split personality. They are spending money at the malls, making this holiday shopping season the best in four or five years, according to various reports from MasterCard and the chain stores themselves.
Read more: The economy is great if you have money.

Retailers cash in, but recovery still hazy

Ka-ching. Retailers rang up a banner holiday-shopping season, according to data released Tuesday, helped in part by discounts that weren't too deep and momentum that started early.
Read more: Retailers cash in, but recovery still hazy.

Consumer confidence dips on job worries

An index of U.S. consumer confidence declined in December on concerns about jobs in the present and future, the Conference Board reported Tuesday.
Read more: Consumer confidence dips on job worries.


U.S. house prices tumble in October

Home prices tumbled in October, according to data released Tuesday, with six cities setting new lows as the housing market remains divorced from the upturn seen in other parts of the U.S. economy.
Read more: U.S. house prices tumble in October.


Commentary: Twelve tips for profiting on commodity demand

Biotech genius Michael Murphy is preparing for the next global crash, thanks to overpopulation, a shortage of food, a shortage of water, and other intractable problems.
Read more: Twelve tips for profiting on commodity demand.

Out of Lehman's ashes Wall Street gets most of what it wants. The Washington Post Afternoon Edition - Polituics


1) How Wall Street got nearly everything it wanted
Wall Street's biggest banks, whose missteps caused a global financial crisis and economic slowdown two years ago, were more agile when it came to countering the political and regulatory response.
» Read full article
2) THE FIX: Michael Steele to face off against rivals
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has confirmed that he will attend an early January debate, putting the embattled chairman on track for his first public face-off with his rivals as he pursues a second term at the helm of the committee.
» Read full article

3) EZRA KLEIN: Why Obama weighed in on behalf of Michael Vick
Patting Lurie on the back for playing Vick might give the White House communications shop some headaches, but it's also worth doing.
» Read full article
4) Governor: Palin e-mails to be released in May
The Alaska governor's office says it needs until May 31 to release potentially thousands of e-mails sent and received by former Gov. Sarah Palin.
» Read full article

5) VA POLITICS: Is Eric Cantor 'friends' with birther Orly Taitz?
Cantor and Taitz are Facebook friends, but the truth is more complicated.

Obama administration steps up monitoring of banks that miss TARP payments | The Washington Post Afternoon Edition - Today's Most Read Articles

Washington Post

1) U.S. home prices drop 1.3% from September to October

Home prices fell in the nation's major metropolitan areas from September to October, with six regions hitting new lows, and they're not expected to rebound anytime soon.

2) Obama weighs in on Michael Vick, and other cultural issues

HONOLULU - President Obama doesn't seem to shy away from the divisive social and cultural topics that Americans are debating in their living rooms, gyms and workplaces.

3) On Vick, Obama again steps outside the lines

HONOLULU - President Obama doesn't seem to shy away from the divisive social and cultural topics that Americans are debating in their living rooms, gyms and workplaces.

4) Tests of 'Roe' more frequent since justices upheld late-term abortion ban in '07

LINCOLN, NEB. - Mike Flood, the 35-year-old speaker of Nebraska's legislature, had a problem: He wanted to stop the state's well-known abortion provider from offering late-term abortions.

5) Danger ahead for the GOP

Republicans begin the new Congress lacking power to execute big ideas.

6) Obama administration steps up monitoring of banks that miss TARP payments

The Obama administration has begun monitoring the high-level board meetings of nearly 20 banks that received emergency taxpayer assistance but repeatedly failed to pay the required dividends, according to Treasury Department officials and documents. And it may soon install new directors on some o...

7) Man accused of attacking dad with samurai sword

SAN DIEGO -- A man is accused of attacking his 69-year-old father with a samurai sword while the elder man slept in his home in Southern California.

8) 400 spend frigid night on A train in NYC nightmare

NEW YORK -- It took hours for Christopher Mullen to get off a plane from sunny Cancun and on to a half-empty subway car, his only way home. It would be another eight hours and more - a night spent huddled under a thin blanket on the frigid, grungy car - before he could get off the A train.

9) Portugal's drug policy pays off US eyes lessons

LISBON, Portugal -- These days, Casal Ventoso is an ordinary blue-collar community - mothers push baby strollers, men smoke outside cafes, buses chug up and down the cobbled main street.

10) Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems - and the nation's

Liberals oppose Social Security reform, but it's in Obama's best interest to pursue it.

Class action against Morgan, HSBC specifies silver manipulation mechanism: GATA: THE GATA DISPATCH

Class action against Morgan, HSBC specifies silver manipulation mechanism

1:30a Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold (and Silver):
A Chicago law firm yesterday announced another class-action lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings PLC complaining of silver market manipulation. Interestingly, the lawsuit cites GATA's silver market manipulation whistleblower Andrew Maguire and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission member Bart Chilton, and specifies mechanisms by which Morgan and HSBC could manipulate the silver market through the use of silver exchange-traded funds.
The lawsuit complains:
"Before the Class Period began, JPMorgan had become the custodian and an authorized participant of the largest known concentration of silver bars, the iShares Silver ETF, which holds in excess of 340 million troy ounces of silver, a sum that equals an estimated 1/3 of the total present global supply of silver bullion. As a result, it had actual knowledge of the precise whereabouts of much of the world's known silver bar supply.

"In approximately March 2008, JP Morgan acquired Bear Stearns, which held a very large short position in silver. With more of the total short position in silver concentrated in the hands of JP Morgan, it had a further motive to suppress prices.
"Upon information and belief, JP Morgan works together with HSBC, the other dominant player in the silver and precious metals markets. In July 2009, HSBC became the custodian of the SIVR ETF, which meant that it had physical access to and knowledge of the silver held by that trust. Notably, it named JP Morgan as one of the sub-custodians of the SIVR ETF.
"As a result of their participation in the silver ETFs, JP Morgan and HSBC had a direct opportunity to confer and discuss with each other the prices of silver held by each of them.
"In addition, Defendants had a strong incentive to suppress downward the price of silver as measured by the NYSE-Arca and CME/COMEX instruments. For example, Defendants could pledge their silver to the ETFs in exchange for ETF shares, sell their shares to other market participants, drive down the prices of silver through trades on NYSE-Arca and CME/COMEX, buy back their ETF shares from investors at lower prices, and return their (now lower-priced) silver ETF shares in exchange for the silver bars initially pledged against those shares, the real value of which remained the same, and only notionally appears lower because of Defendants' suppression.
"With respect to Defendants' conduct on the CME/COMEX platforms, JPMorgan and HSBC's scheme has been corroborated by Andrew Maguire, a 40-year precious metals trading veteran. Mr. Maguire reported his findings to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which commenced an investigation in 2008.
"On October 26, 2010, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton stated that there had been 'violations of the Commodity Exchange Act in the silver market' and 'fraudulent efforts to persuade and deviously control' silver prices, and that these efforts 'should be prosecuted.'"
The full complaint of the lawsuit has been posted at GATA's Internet site here:
The law firm's press release is appended.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
* * *
Cafferty Faucher LLP Files Class Action Lawsuit
Against JPMorgan and HSBC Alleging Manipulation
of Silver Bar Financial Products
Law Firm Press Release
via Business Wire
Monday, December 27, 2010
CHICAGO -- Cafferty Faucher LLP ( filed a lawsuit on behalf of a class that includes purchasers and sellers of the iShares Silver Trust (NYSE-Arca SLV) and the ETF Securities Ltd. Silver Trust (NYSE-Arca SIVR) during the period March 1, 2008, through the present.
The lawsuit alleges that JPMorgan, the custodian of silver backing SLV securities and the sub-custodian of silver backing SIVR securities, and HSBC, the custodian of silver backing the SIVR securities, manipulated and suppressed the price of silver bar financial products, including SLV and SIVR, in violation of Section 9 of the Securities Exchange Act.
If you purchased or sold the iShares Silver Trust ETF or the ETF Securities Silver Trust securities during the period March 1, 2008, through the present, you may move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff within 60 days. The lawsuit, Case No. 1:10-cv-07768, was filed in the Northern District of Illinois on December 7, 2010 and is assigned to the Honorable Charles R. Norgle Sr.
The case is also brought on behalf of investors who purchased or sold CME Group Inc.'s Comex silver futures or options contracts, which are traded electronically through the Chicago-based Globex platform and through Comex. On behalf of these investors, the lawsuit alleges violations of the anti-manipulation provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act.
In addition to the claims under the anti-manipulation provisions of the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act, the lawsuit also alleges that defendants violated federal antitrust law.
Cafferty Faucher LLP, with offices in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a national litigation firm that represents investors, businesses, and consumers who have been injured by illegal marketplace practices. Firm contact information is available at the above website. The firm has recovered tens of billions of dollars for its clients in cases targeting illegal acts and practices in a variety of industries including securities, commodities, insurance, pharmaceuticals, banking services, medical, high-tech, food and beverage, construction materials, and many others. Combined, the firm's attorneys have hundreds of years of experience working to recover losses on behalf of clients.
Contacts for Cafferty Faucher LLP:
Anthony Fata (Chicago), 312-782-4880, or Bryan Clobes (Philadelphia), 215-864-2800.

* * *

Join GATA here:
Yukon Mining Investment e-Conference
Wednesday-Thursday, January 19-20, 2011

Stock Futures Little Changed Ahead Of Data - U.S. Commentary : RTTNews: Morning Market briefing

Morning Market Briefing Tue Dec 28  2010


Dec 28, 2010 Stock Futures Little Changed Ahead Of Data - U.S. Commentary Stock futures are lingering near the flat line in morning trading on Tuesday, as the markets are awaiting data on home prices ahead of the opening bell. The major index futures are little changed, with the Dow futures up by 14 points. Along with the home price data, traders will also look to a report on consumer confidence due out after the opening bell. Full Article

Economic News

Dec 28, 2010 Japan Industrial Output Rises 1.0% On MonthIndustrial production in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent in November compared to the previous month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Tuesday in a preliminary report - rising for the first time in six months. Full Article
Dec 28, 2010 China To End Small Car Tax Incentives From Jan 1China's Finance Ministry on Tuesday announced that it will end tax incentives for small cars in 2011. Full Article
Dec 28, 2010 French Q3 GDP Grows Less Than Initially Estimated The French economy expanded less than initially estimated in the third quarter, a detailed report from statistical office Insee showed Tuesday. Full Article

Corporate News

Dec 28, 2010 PetroChina sells Equity Interest in Beijing Gas to Subsidiary KunlunPetroChina Co. Ltd (PTR) said Wednesday that its subsidiary Kunlun Energy Co. Ltd acquired the relevant equity interest in PetroChina Beijing Gas Pipeline Co. Ltd. for RMB18.87 billion or HK$21.97 billion. Full Article

Stock index futures signal small gains | Fianncial And Forex Info News ( F & F I N ) | Reuters Before The Bell

Financial & Forex Info News ( F & F I N )



Stock index futures signal small gains
PARIS (Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Tuesday, with futures for the S&P 500 up 0.2 percent, Dow Jones futures up 0.08 percent and Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.02 percent at 1000 GMT (5 a.m. ET). | Full Article

Dai-ichi to take over Australia's Tower for $1.2 billion
December 28, 2010 05:04 AM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co will take full control of Tower Australia Group Ltd for $1.2 billion in cash, the latest in overseas acquisitions by Japanese insurers keen to move away from a stagnant home market. | Full Article
Euro zone reform does not go far enough: ECB's Mersch
December 28, 2010 07:28 AM ET
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Recent reforms of euro zone governance have not gone far enough, European Central Bank Governing Council member Yves Mersch said on Tuesday. | Full Article
MannKind's inhaled insulin verdict delayed
December 28, 2010 07:28 AM ET
(Reuters) - Inhaled-insulin developer MannKind Corp said the U.S. health regulator would not be able to complete the review of Afrezza by December 29 and would require about four more weeks. | Full Article
Nasdaq looking at new foray into Japan: reports
December 27, 2010 11:00 PM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S.-based Nasdaq OMX Group is looking at having a second stab at setting up a market in Japan with the Osaka Securities Exchange , hoping to attract investors from emerging Asian economies, domestic media reported. | Full Article
Northeast digs out after storm snarls travel
December 28, 2010 05:44 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers faced the task of clearing huge snowdrifts and thousands of stranded travelers looked forward to boarding flights on Tuesday after a blizzard slammed the U.S. Northeast the day after Christmas. | Full Article
Obama to delay 2012 budget by about a week: official
December 28, 2010 07:01 AM ET
HONOLULU (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, who has pledged to tackle long-term U.S. debt and deficit challenges, will delay the delivery of his fiscal year 2012 budget by about a week until after February 14. | Full Article
Russia accuses West of meddling in tycoon Khodorkovsky's trial
December 28, 2010 07:13 AM ET
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia accused the United States and European nations on Tuesday of trying to influence the trial of jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, calling such efforts unacceptable and warning the West to mind its own business. | Full Article
U.S. embassy in London was a target of UK suspects
December 28, 2010 03:09 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. embassy in London was a target of a group of men arrested last week in Britain and charged with conspiracy to cause explosions and preparing acts of terrorism, the U.S. State Department said on Monday. | Full Article
Japan output up on Asia demand
December 28, 2010 07:23 AM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese factory output rose for the first time in six months in November and manufacturers expect to boost production in coming months, suggesting that firm demand in Asia will help the economy resume a recovery early next year. | Full Article
Regeneron pain drug put on clinical hold by FDA
Swine flu kills 56 in Egypt since October
Exercise may help limit pregnancy weight gain
More girls developing a form of hearing loss
Inappropriate drugs still given for sinus woes

California Federal Court Orders Paul Abad and His Companies to Pay More than $860,000 in Restitution and a Civil Monetary

The CFTC obtained more than $860,000 in restitution and civil monetary penalties in a federal judgment against defendants Paul Abad of Orange County Calif., and his companies, Thirteen Thirty-Two, Inc. and Thirteen Thirty-Two, Inc. dba MRTS Asset Management.

Obama's 2011 Budget (slightly) delayed; earmarkers become lettermarkers; corporations are buying each other rather : Ezra Klein's Wonkbook | The Washington Post

Top Stories

Obama's budget has been delayed a week, reports Jonathan Weisman: "President Barack Obama's budget proposal for fiscal 2012 will be released in mid-February, a little more than a week after its planned release date. The administration is scrambling to assemble what could be a pivotal document following a six-week delay in the confirmation of the White House's new budget director, a senior administration official said Monday. The budget's release date will be pushed back from Monday, Feb. 7, to some time the following week, the official said. The White House's new budget director, Jacob Lew, saw his confirmation put on hold by Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was protesting the administration's moratorium on offshore oil drilling. Mr. Lew was confirmed Nov. 19."
Members of Congress are finding ways besides earmarks to fund pork projects, reports Ron Nixon: "Lettermarking, which takes place outside the Congressional appropriations process, is one of the many ways that legislators who support a ban on earmarks try to direct money back home. In phonemarking, a lawmaker calls an agency to request financing for a project. More indirectly, members of Congress make use of what are known as soft earmarks, which involve making suggestions about where money should be directed, instead of explicitly instructing agencies to finance a project. Members also push for increases in financing of certain accounts in a federal agency’s budget and then forcefully request that the agency spend the money on the members’ pet project. Because all these methods sidestep the regular legislative process, the number of times they are used and the money involved are even harder to track than with regular earmarks.
Real talk: The move from earmarking to lettermarking, phonemarking, hearingmarking, etc, wasn't just predictable. It was inevitable. And make no mistake: Within three-to-five years, we're likely to be back to earmarking as well.
Corporations are using their cash supplies to fuel mergers, not job growth, reports Jia Lynn Yang: "The volume of global mergers this year rose 19 percent, according to Dealogic, ticking up for the first time since 2007 as firms looked for ways to deploy the record amount of cash sitting on their balance sheets...Conditions are ripe for a comeback in mergers and acquisitions because U.S. companies are holding a record nearly $2 trillion in cash. They have been hesitant to use these massive piles of funds to hire as they wait to see whether the economic recovery picks up more speed. Instead, this year they've been making safer bets: buying back stocks to help boost their share prices and spending money on modestly sized mergers."
Fuzz-pop interlude: Wavves plays "King of the Beach".
Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.
Still to come: Foreign banks benefited from a Federal Reserve program; being unemployed is bad for your health; Obama's federal pay freeze is being extended to more civil service workers; the incoming House Energy and Commerce chair outlines his plan to derail the EPA's climate regulations; and a genetically engineered singing mouse.

The Obama administration is cracking down on banks that are delinquent on their TARP payments, reports Zachary Goldfarb: "The Obama administration has begun monitoring the high-level board meetings of nearly 20 banks that received emergency taxpayer assistance but repeatedly failed to pay the required dividends, according to Treasury Department officials and documents. And it may soon install new directors on some of their boards. The moves come as the number of banks that failed to make at least one dividend payment to the government rose to 132 in the last quarter. These 'deadbeats,' as they are sometimes called, are virtually all community lenders and collectively received billions of dollars in taxpayer assistance. In addition to those firms, seven others have failed, resulting in the total loss of the government's investment."
Looking for a rigorous overview of the various methodological difficulties involved in assessing stimulus proposals? Alan Auerbach, William Gale, and Benjamin Harris have you covered (pdf).
Non-US banks have benefited from Federal Reserve credit, report Robin Harding, Bernard Simon, and Christian Oliver: "Some of the world’s strongest banks have profited from an emergency credit facility set up by the US Federal Reserve to shore up confidence in the global financial system, according to a Financial Times analysis of data released by the Fed. More than half of lending under the Fed’s term auction facility - the largest of its crisis programmes - went to foreign banks. Details of the varied uses to which they put it may add to political criticism of the Fed. The Taf was set up in December 2007 to provide one-month loans to creditworthy banks as markets dried up for lending longer than overnight. In August 2008, it began offering three-month loans as well."
A new study suggests startups are central to job growth:
There's much Obama could do for the economy that wouldn't require congressional approval, write Paul Krugman and Robin Wells: "Democrats could pressure the administration to fix the inexcusable mess at the HAMP (mortgage modification) program--a program whose Kafkaesque complexity has in many cases made matters so bad for home owners that it has triggered the foreclosures it was supposed to avoid. In addition, mortgage relief would benefit the wider economy. Furthermore, the scope of mortgage relief could be made much wider if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were used to guarantee mortgage refinancing. Other proposals go even further: for example, that Fannie and Freddie engineer reductions in mortgage principals. All of this could be done, conceivably, by executive order."
Prizes for spurring innovation work, writes Annie Lowrey:
A survey of jobless workers shows the extent of their suffering, writes Bob Herbert: "More than 15 million Americans are officially classified as jobless. The professors, at the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, have been following their representative sample of workers since the summer of 2009. The report on their latest survey, just out this month, is titled: 'The Shattered American Dream: Unemployed Workers Lose Ground, Hope, and Faith in Their Futures.' Over the 15 months that the surveys have been conducted, just one-quarter of the workers have found full-time jobs, nearly all of them for less pay and with fewer or no benefits. 'For those who remain unemployed,' the report says, 'the cupboard has long been bare.'
The American political system is corrupted in favor of the upper classes, writes Jeffrey Sachs:
Extreme sports interlude: Russian-style bungee jumping.
Health Care

Enrollment is lower and costs higher than expected in health care reform's high-risk pools, reports Amy Goldstein: "An early feature of the new health-care law that allows people who are already sick to get insurance to cover their medical costs isn't attracting as many customers as expected. In the meantime, in at least a few states, claims for medical care covered by the 'high-risk pools' are proving very costly, and it is an open question whether the $5 billion allotted by Congress to start up the plans will be sufficient... According to some health-policy researchers, the success or failure of the pools also could foreshadow the complexities of making broader changes in health insurance by 2014, when states are to open new marketplaces - or exchanges - for Americans to buy coverage individually or in small groups."
Real talk: High-risk health-care pools never work very well. The Democrats knew that when they rejected Republican plans that would've put them at the center of the health-care system for sick individuals. Then, of course, they turned around and made them one of health-care reform's early deliverables. I'm skeptical of arguments that say they "foreshadow" larger market reforms, which work very differently than segregating a tiny fraction of sick patients in state-run insurance programs.
Unemployment could cause serious health damage, reports David Wessel: "A new National Bureau of Economic Research paper suggests that increases in unemployment lead to a decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption, with potentially long-lived effects on workers’ health. 'Among those who are predicted to be at the highest risk of unemployment, a one percentage point increase in the resident’s state unemployment rate is associated with a 2% to 4% reduction in the frequency of fruits and vegetable consumption, and an 8% reduction in the consumption of salad,' economists Dhaval Dave of Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., and Inas Rashad Kelly of Queens College in Flushing, N.Y, said...Research by Daniel Sullivan and Till von Wachter finds that mortality rates in the year following a layoff among high-seniority male workers increases sharply."
The White House denies its new regulation on end-of-life care represents a policy change:
Domestic Policy

The federal pay freeze is being extended to more civil servants, reports Lisa Rein: "The two-year pay freeze that is now law for federal employees on the pay scale known as the General Schedule will also apply to hundreds of thousands of civil servants whose wages are set under a separate salary system, according to an executive order signed last week by President Obama. Employees covered by the so-called Administratively Determined pay scale - not legislated by Congress but set by federal agencies - make up about 30 percent of the workforce of 2 million. They include public health doctors and nurses, medical personnel in the Veterans Affairs system, administrative law judges and attorneys, auditors and other staff at financial agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission."
Nobelist James Heckman is urging early childhood education as a path toward economic growth, reports James Warren: " James J. Heckman, who has won the Nobel in economic science, offered a provocative idea for reducing spiraling budget deficits and strengthening the economy: investing in early childhood development. Mr. Heckman marshals ample data to suggest that better teaching, higher standards, smaller classrooms and more Internet access 'have less impact than we think,' as he put it at the Spertus Institute. To focus as intently as we do on the kindergarten to high school years misses how 'the accident of birth is the greatest source of inequality,' he said. He urges more effectively educating children before they step into a classroom where, as Chicago teachers tell me, they often are clueless about letters, numbers and colors -- and lack the attentiveness and persistence to ever catch up."
Public universities are getting creative about tuition fees:
Obama should push for Social Security reform, writes Michael Gerson: "Obama's liberal base contends that the Social Security trust fund is not in immediate trouble. But this argument depends on an elaborate accounting trick. The trust fund is not filled with assets - gold bullion and Apple stock. It is filled with debt issued by the government to itself. The surpluses of the trust fund are in fact liabilities for the government as a whole. And these illusory surpluses are regularly used to subsidize the rest of the budget. The scheme begins to collapse in 2037, when promised benefits for Social Security recipients will suddenly drop by about 25 percent - unless the system is reformed...Obama's urgent political need is to polish his image among Independents on spending and debt."
Fun with genetic alterations interlude: Scientists create a singing mouse.

Congress should stop the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, write House Energy and Commerce chair Fred Upton and Todd Phillips: "The best solution is for Congress to overturn the EPA's proposed greenhouse gas regulations outright. If Democrats refuse to join Republicans in doing so, then they should at least join a sensible bipartisan compromise to mandate that the EPA delay its regulations until the courts complete their examination of the agency's endangerment finding and proposed rules. Like the plaintiffs, we have significant doubt that EPA regulations can survive judicial scrutiny. And the worst of all possible outcomes would be the EPA initiating a regulatory regime that is then struck down by the courts."
The EPA is well within its rights to regulate carbon emissions, writes Brad Plumer: "Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf thinks the EPA is 'disregarding [the] separation of powers.' But why? How? The Clean Air Act is a law that was passed by Congress and amended several times. The law originally focused on specific toxins like lead and sulfur-dioxide, but it was intended to be updated periodically, as new science on pollution and human health came in. The Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases fit within this framework--and, so, the Obama administration has begun enforcing the relevant laws. Set aside whether you agree with the policy outcome. What about this is constitutionally troubling?"
The Department of Energy is circulating a "list of accomplishments" from the past year:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller is challenging the administration on mine safety, reports Andrew Restuccia: "Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is raising questions about whether the federal agency charged with mining safety is adequately funded. In a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Rockefeller said he is concerned that the Senate’s inability to pass an omnibus spending bill that would have increased funding for mine safety could 'undermine the progress that is being made and further limit MSHA's [Mine Safety and Health Administration] ability to fulfill its mission.' Instead of the broad omnibus spending bill, the Senate passed a narrow continuing resolution that largely funds the government at current levels until March."
John Tierney makes the case for optimism about the world's energy supply: