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Spin Doctor - Greenspan Says Government Activism Hampering U.S. Recovery

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© Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said a surge in U.S. government "activism," including fiscal stimulus, housing subsidies and new regulations, is holding back the economic recovery.

Increased bond issuance by the Treasury Department crowds out borrowers with the weakest credit ratings, Greenspan said in an article in International Finance, published on the Web today. At least half of the shortfall in companies' capital spending "can be explained by the shock of vastly greater government- created uncertainties embedded in the competitive, regulatory and financial environments" since the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ) in 2008, Greenspan said.

Greenspan's conclusions fit with his long-held free-market ideology and may aid Republican lawmakers who argue that cutting federal spending now will help spur job growth. Critics including members of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission have said Greenspan's failure to regulate the mortgage market last decade helped fuel the housing bubble whose bursting precipitated the financial crisis.

Light Sabers

ATF Let Hundreds of U.S. Weapons Fall into Hands of Suspected Mexican Gunrunners

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© Eduardo Verdugo/Associated PressGen. Antonio Erasto Monsivais holds up a seized .50 caliber Barrett model 99 single-shot rifle in the seized weapons warehouse at the headquarters of the Secretary of Defense in Mexico City.
Hoping to score a major prosecution of Mexican drug lords, federal prosecutors and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives permitted hundreds of guns to be purchased and retained by suspected straw buyers with the expectation they might cross the border and even be used in crimes while the case was being built, according to documents and interviews.

The decision - part of a Phoenix-based operation code named "Fast and Furious" - was met by strong objections from some front-line agents who feared they were allowing weapons like AK-47s to "walk" into the hands of drug lords and gun runners, internal agency memos show. Indeed, scores of the weapons came back quickly traced to criminal activity.

One of those front-line agents who objected, John Dodson, 39, told the Center for Public Integrity that these guns "are going to be turning up in crimes on both sides of the border for decades." Dodson said in an interview that "with the number of guns we let walk, we'll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed ... there is nothing we can do to round up those guns. They are gone."

Dodson has taken his misgivings to the Senate Judiciary Committee as a whistleblower after his concerns were dismissed by his supervisors and initially ignored by the Justice Department's inspector general.

Black Cat

U.S. Judge Orders Protesters Out of Wisconsin Capitol

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© Unknown
Madison - A Wisconsin judge has ordered pro-union protesters to be removed from the state Capitol.

Dane County Circuit Judge John Albert ruled Thursday night that protesters remaining in the building should be immediately removed - along with any unauthorized materials such as sleeping bags and signs taped to the Capitol walls.

The judge also ruled that the state violated constitutional protections for free speech and assembly by restricting access to the building. He ordered the administration to re-open the building to the general public by 8 a.m. Monday, allowing for a permitting process limiting the times and places where rallies can be held.

The demonstrators have been rallying against a proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to eliminate nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions.

X

Panic on Borders as Chaos Engulfs Libya

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© ReutersUp to 20,000 migrant workers try to push their way through the Tunisian border crossing at Ras Jedir yesterday
The Libyans watched from an open window of the immigration post, leaning out to see the 20,000 fleeing Egyptian, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Iranian workers heaped up against the border wall. They seemed quite unconcerned, shirt-sleeves rolled up, moving to a window closer to this crowd. Already up to 75,000 have struggled into Tunisia, but yesterday the crossing system collapsed as thousands of men, almost all Arabs desperate to escape Muammar Gaddafi's state, fought with local Tunisians who - under the eyes of the army - attacked them with stakes and iron bars.

Many of the soldiers hurled plastic water bottles and biscuits into the masses of refugees who began to jump the border wall in their desperation, heaving family members and baggage through breaks in the cement. Clichés run out when faced with such chaos and unnecessary suffering. "Insupportable" was the word that came to mind yesterday. Most of these 20,000 had gone without food, water or sleep for four days. How is it possible that people should suffer so greatly at a mere border post?

Officials turned up with anodyne words of fearful irrelevance. Josette Sheeran, who rejoices in the title of executive director of the World Food Programme, stared at this ocean of humanity and announced: "We are doing all we can - we are working through this situation. And it's never too late." But it was. Ms Sheeran arrived with 80 tonnes of food, most of it high-energy biscuits, which were thrown over the wall at the crowds once she had left.

More to the point, Firas Kayal, of the UNHCR, took one look at the young Tunisians beating the Egyptian refugees, said that a crisis had been reached at the border and that 14,000 refugees had crossed in the past 12 hours alone. "The Tunisians' capacity to help has reached its limit," he said. "We are bringing in two UN flights today filled with tents for these people inside Tunisia. We are helping the local authorities and the local people to cope."

War Whore

Egyptian Special Forces Secretly Storm Libya

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Libyan people take part in a protest in the seaport city of Tobruk
The elite troops moved in as the defiant tyrant vowed to "fight to the last man and woman" - and warned that "thousands will die" if the West intervenes.

But the Mirror can reveal his Tripoli stronghold is now under threat from a growing army of special forces preparing to quell civil war.

Intelligence sources have told us that post-Mubarak Egyptian troops have been allowed into Libya by Tunisian soldiers - showing increasing Arab-backing for the anti-Gaddafi revolt.

The move came as a ferocious battle raged yesterday for control of the key oil port town of Brega after loyalists launched their first counter-offensive in the eastern desert in an attempt to reclaim "Free Libya".

Megaphone

US Losing World Information War? Clinton Asks for $47 Billion Propaganda Budget

The U.S. is losing an information war to alternative media outlets, including RT. That's the message from Hillary Clinton to Congress members, who are questioning the State Department's US $47 billion budget request for next year. And as RT's Gayane Chichakyan reports, the U.S. Secretary of State says Washington needs to step up its propaganda efforts.

Megaphone

Hillary Clinton: "Viewership Of Al Jazeera Is Going Up In The United States Because It's Real News"

Clinton: "Al Jazeera has been the leader in literally changing people's minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective.

In fact viewership of al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners."


Bug

London School of Economics director quits over deal to train Libya's elite

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© Eamonn Mccabe/The GuardianIt takes one to know: Howard Davies has resigned as director of the London School of Economics.
LSE director Howard Davies resigns after fresh allegations over links to Libyan regime as PR firm admits errors over lobbying

A deepening row over the London School of Economics and its dealings with the Gaddafi regime has claimed the career of the university's director.

Sir Howard Davies resigned after fresh revelations that the institution had been involved in a deal worth £2.2m to train hundreds of young Libyans to become part of the country's future elite.

An independent inquiry headed by Lord Woolf, a former lord chief justice, will examine the LSE's relationship with Libya and with Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam. It will also establish guidelines for international donations to the university.

Davies said: "I have concluded that it would be right for me to step down even though I know that this will cause difficulty for the institution I have come to love. The short point is that I am responsible for the school's reputation, and that has suffered."

Newspaper

Chavez: U.S. Distorting Situation in Libya 'To Justify an Invasion'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claims U.S. criticism of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has a clear aim: military invasion.


"Let's not get carried away by the drums of war, because the United States, I am sure that they are exaggerating and distorting things to justify an invasion," Chavez said Monday, according to Venezuelan state media.

At a Monday meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States was exploring "all possible options," and that "nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyan citizens."

Asked at a news conference Monday whether the United States planned an imminent military response in Libya, Clinton said, "No."

Speaking Monday in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, Chavez proposed sending an international committee to Libya to mediate and help develop a peaceful solution to unrest in the North African country.

Dollar

How the Rich Soaked the Rest of Us: The Astonishing Story of the Last Few Decades is a Massive Redistribution of Wealth, as the Rich have Shifted the Tax Burden

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© unknownWhen the Cadillac Eldorado made its debut in the 1950s, wealthy Americans were paying a top rate of tax of 90%; today, the top rate of tax is 35%

Over the last half century, the richest Americans have shifted the burden of the federal individual income tax off themselves and onto everybody else. The three convenient and accurate Wikipedia graphs below show the details. The first graph compares the official tax rates paid by the top and bottom income earners. Note especially that from the end of the second world war into the early 1960s, the highest income earners paid a tax rate over 90% for many years. Today, the top earners pay a rate of only 35%. Note also how the gap between the rates paid by the richest and the poorest has narrowed. If we take into account the many loopholes the rich can and do use far more than the poor, the gap narrows even more.

One conclusion is clear and obvious: the richest Americans have dramatically lowered their income tax burden since 1945, both absolutely and relative to the tax burdens of the middle income groups and the poor.
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© unknownHistorical tax rates for the highest and lowest income earners