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    • Why Would Iran Attack Tankers?
      Well, if it did. Let me tell a story, possibly apocryphal. Back in the 70s the Russian (USSR) ambassador supposedly had a talk with the Pakistaini leader of the day. This is what he is reputed to have said. ” I do not know who will be in charge in Moscow in ten, twenty or […]
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Your Halloween Afternoon Read

Happy Halloween

For the first time ever, my daughter will spend Halloween in a foreign country. I can fully sympathize with the author of this piece.
Trick or treat: Is Halloween another tacky American import or a bit of harmless fun that boosts the economy?

As urban legends go, the one about unsuspecting trick-or-treaters having their Halloween loot spiked with razor blades is pretty chilling. Spookier still is the “fact” that the only records of serious injury resulting from poisoned booty involved children booby-trapping the items themselves, or parents poisoning their own offspring. I suspect those rumours, like the one about hospitals offering to X-ray trick-or-treat sweets, are also the stuff of legend – but none the less it’s enough to put us paranoid parents off altogether. And yet my children have been at near coma-inducing levels of excitement about their plans for weeks.

Hallowe’en is the devil’s work, Catholic church warns parents

When Victoria Romero, 6, dressed up as a witch for a Hallowe’en party this week she could hardly have imagined that she was provoking the wrath of God by attending a celebration akin to a Black Mass — at least in the eyes of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church in Spain.

Wearing skeleton suits, dressing up as vampires, witches or goblins or slapping on fake blood is not far removed from communing with the Devil, according to the country’s bishops.

However, the bishops, with Vatican backing, have reserved their venom for the millions of parents who allowed their children to celebrate this “pagan” festival.


Health-insurance Reform

Dems change focus in health debate

For days, Republicans believed they were making headway by ripping Majority Leader Harry Reid for negotiating the health care bill in private.

But when Reid announced Monday that he planned to include a public insurance option in the bill, it instantly changed the complexion of the debate – even though the meat of the bill is still being negotiated, tweaked and drafted in private and in the powerful Democrat’s auspices.

Democrats challenged on cost of health bill

Republicans on Capitol Hill are challenging an assertion by House leaders that their new health-care package comes in under President Obama’s spending limit of $900 billion over the next decade. The true cost of the measure, the GOP argues, is more than $1 trillion.

Health care: Some agreement, then there’s the public option

Congress is poised to begin a historic debate on the future of the nation’s health care system, but while most Democrats agree a new public plan is needed, its fate is far from certain.


Economy Watch

    Evaluating the stimulus

Schools Are Where Stimulus Saved Jobs, New Data Show

The best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.
On Friday, the Obama administration released the most detailed information yet on the jobs created by the stimulus. Of the 640,239 jobs recipients claimed to have created or saved so far, officials said, more than half — 325,000 — were in education. Most were teachers’ jobs that states said were saved when stimulus money averted a need for layoffs.

Stimulus: The Good News, and the Bad

If this is the best a stimulus can do, we’re in real trouble, says BusinessWeek’s Peter Coy. Much more federal help may be needed to spark a real recovery



With big government boost, U.S. economy grew in 3rd quarter

 

The U.S. economy roared to life this summer, as an array of government actions led to the strongest quarter of growth in two years.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the nation’s gross domestic product rose at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-through-September quarter, the clearest evidence yet that the country has begun to emerge from the deepest downturn in decades.

    Financial (cough…cough) Reform

Financial bill under attack over loopholes

As Representative Barney Frank nears his goal of pushing a massive financial regulation package through the House Financial Services Committee, parts of the legislation are coming under blistering assault from consumer groups as well as key Democrats, who say it contains loopholes that could set the stage for another financial meltdown.

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat, is among those who said they have watched with dismay as Frank’s committee has passed provisions that they say would enable much of the controversial trading in derivatives to continue without adequate oversight.

Doubts greet Obama’s financial oversight plan

The Obama administration on Thursday ran into skepticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as a key regulator, as it pushed for broad new powers to monitor risks throughout the financial system and to wind down large, troubled financial firms whose failure could endanger the economy.

The criticisms included how the proposals would be funded, whether the Federal Reserve stood to gain too much influence and if the government would end up with the ability to continually bail out big financial firms without congressional approval.

An Object Lesson in Governmental Failure: Derivatives reform

If you want to understand why Congress seems completely incapable of checking the power of Wall Street, look back to a hearing on the Hill last October 7, and the subsequent events surrounding it. On that day, the House Financial Services Committee hosted a panel on reform of the market for derivatives, the financial instrument which played such a notable role in the country’s economic meltdown.


Around The Nation

White House Visitor Log Lists Stars and C.E.O.’s

Among the White House guests was a boldface-names list of chief executives, including Lloyd C. Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Vikram Pandit of Citigroup Inc., Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Rex W. Tillerson of the Exxon Mobil Corporation, David J. O’Reilly of the Chevron Corporation and Jeffrey R. Immelt of the General Electric Company The men, who met with Mr. Obama, his advisers or both, were among nearly 500 entries in logs from Jan. 20 to July 31.

Ethics inquiry looks into several House panel members

Seven lawmakers on the defense appropriations subcommittee got donations from PMA Group clients while sponsoring spending on beneficial projects. The investigation was revealed in a ‘data breach.’


Around The World

The Quiet Power of Europe

EU members have become some of the planet’s most adroit globalizers, opening themselves to the world while keeping in place their extensive social services—Germany alone exports as much as China. The continent has also fared better than expected in the downturn. Europe’s unemployment rate now bests America’s, and France and Germany managed to escape the recession faster than the United States.

Things look almost as good on the political front. In the years since communism ended, the EU has doubled in size, and its population will pass 500 million next year. The Union, often decried as dysfunctional, has reached another important milestone: the Lisbon Treaty, a quasi constitution that streamlines decision making, has just been approved by the last of the 27 members.

Iran’s Nuclear Response Creates a Quandary for Obama

If the Obama Administration had hoped to get the bulk of Iran’s current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country under a new agreement for reprocessing abroad, those hopes are fading fast. The counter-proposal offered by Iran on Thursday contained such substantive revisions that Western officials are interpreting it as a rejection — at least of the aspect of the deal most important to the Western powers. More worrisome, perhaps, for the future of President Obama’s engagement strategy may be the fact that although the deal contained some important concessions to Tehran, the possibility that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might embrace it sparked a storm of criticism from across the Iranian political spectrum.

Clinton makes personal bid to resume Mideast talks

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and aides in the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi on Saturday before flying to Israel, where she is expected to meet senior Israeli officials in a push to restart peace negotiations.

Jacques Chirac ordered to stand trial on corruption charges

Jacques Chirac, the former French president, has been ordered to stand trial on embezzlement charges over accusations he rewarded cronies with payments for non-existent jobs while mayor of Paris.

If the case goes ahead it will make Chirac the first holder of France’s highest office to face a corruption trial.


Odds & Ends

15 most explosive videos on the internet

From science experiments to building demolitions to nuclear tests, there are few things in life more visually impressive than explosions. Here are 15 of the most dramatic.

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happy halloween!!!

candycorn

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Gratuitious ratings scheme or just good information?

Over at Townhall.com they’ve sparked a debate over whether Dr. Nancy, from MSNBC, was looking for a ratings boost or reporting on important information.  It stems from an on-air depiction of a breast-self exam demonstrated on a local news station, WJLA in Washington DC.  Dr. Nancy led her segment off with a clip of the exam, setting off a controversy over how necessary the clip was to her specific story.  Ironically, the Dr. Nancy segment was focused on the question of whether the timing of the local news segment was in fact a critical news piece done in conjunction with the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or was it merely to capture higher ratings at the end of a ratings period?

One of the arguments made concerned the fact that the woman shown was in her twenties, not someone in a higher risk factor age group; but, is it just as important to encourage young women to do these self-exams?  Are we as a nation too prudish and need to be “desensitized” as Elizabeth Edwards has said, or was WJLA and/or MSNBC pushing the ratings envelope just a bit too far?

Here is the WJLA story

Here is the WJLA video.
What are your thoughts?

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