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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 25,629

Journal Archives

Home Building Permits Near Four-And-Half Year High

Source: Reuters

Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:19am EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Permits for future home construction touched their highest level in nearly 4-1/2 years in November, pointing to underlying strength in the housing market, even though starts dropped after three straight months of strong gains.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday building permits increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 899,000 units, the highest since July 2008.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected permits, which lead starts by at least a month to rise to an 875,000-unit pace last month from 868,000 units in October.

Though groundbreaking fell 3.0 percent to an 861,000-unit pace, that followed three consecutive months of solid gains. The three-month moving average of starts, which irons out month-to-month volatility, showed the firmer trend remained in place.

Read more: http://news.co.cr/home-building-permits-near-four-and-half-year-high/21503/

U.S. Rebukes Israeli Plans For New Settlements In East Jerusalem

Source: Washington Post

The Obama administration admonished Israel on Tuesday for approving 1,500 new Jewish homes in Arab East Jerusalem, saying continued building calls into question Israel’s commitment to peace talks and a separate, independent Palestinian state.

“We are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The unusually harsh rebuke to the closest U.S. ally in the Middle East reveals profound skepticism about whether the leadership of both Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank has the will to return to substantive talks.

“These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace,” Nuland said. “Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path toward a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-rebukes-israeli-plans-for-new-settlements-in-east-jerusalem/2012/12/18/277f577a-494b-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html

Israel Poised To Build Thousands Of New Settler Homes

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, December 18, 2012 17:23 EST

Israeli authorities on Tuesday rejected a plan to build around 800 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem, but were expected to approve more constructions elsewhere, triggering the ire of Washington.

Settlement watchdog Peace Now told AFP that authorities were due to endorse a far larger project on Wednesday and issue tenders for hundreds more buildings next week.

The Jerusalem regional planning committee turned down proposals for 813 housing units to be built under a plan known as “Givat HaMatos B” but approved a separate project for construction of homes for residents of the east Jerusalem Arab neighbourhood of Beit Safafa, the interior ministry said.

“Only one of the two plans discussed was approved, for 700 housing units for the Arabs of Beit Safafa,” spokeswoman Efrat Orbach said in an SMS message to AFP. She did not elaborate.



Bushmaster's Shockingly Awful "Man Card" Campaign

Scott Lamb explains a "shockingly awful" campaign from Bushmaster:

The company that produces the semiautomatic rifle used in the Newtown, CT, shootings is currently running an online campaign based around virtual cards that "prove" the bearer's manliness. One specifically talks about how unmanly it is to be afraid of elementary-school kids.



Kerry and Hagel: Hardly Israel’s Preferred Choices

If, as widely expected, US President Barack Obama later this week nominates Sen. John Kerry as secretary of state and former senator Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, then those already worrying about US-Israeli ties under a second Obama term will have even more to worry about.

Less because of Kerry, even though he is considered a man of independent ideas on the Middle East who feels – thanks to his many years in the Senate working on foreign policy – that he knows perhaps better than Israelis themselves what is good for them, and more because of Hagel.

Hagel, a former Nebraska senator, is a Republican. But he is what some described as a Brent Scowcroft Republican, a so-called “country club” Republican not endowed with the pro-Israel reflexes that so many officeholders in the Republican party have come to possess since the days of Ronald Reagan.

Rather, Hagel is a Republican with a problematic voting record on Israel.

One sign that worries about Hagel may be well-founded is that one of those backing his appointment is Stephen Walt, co-author with John Mearsheimer of a book bashing both Israel and AIPAC, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy.



NRA Fades To Black On Social Media After Conn. Shooting

The National Rifle Association took down its Facebook page the day of the bloody shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School -- one day after the NRA promoted a milestone of 1.7 million "likes."

The NRA's last Twitter update about "10 Days of NRA Giveaways" was posted Friday morning. The first 911 calls went out from Connecticut school at around 9:30 a.m. Friday.


Removing a Facebook page is an unusual step for an organization, though the NRA can bring the page back within 30 days without losing any data, archived posts or page "likes."

Josh Constine, a writer for Techcrunch, theorizes that the NRA took down its Facebook page because "pro- and anti-gun citizens likely would have gone to war on its wall," adding that "discussions could have taken an ugly turn, with those on either side leaving inappropriate posts and comments."



Michigan: Gov. Snyder Pledges To Reconsider Gun Legislation, Recalls U-M Shooting

LANSING - Gov. Rick Snyder pledged Monday to take a close look at legislation that could allow concealed weapons in schools and churches following the Connecticut school shooting that evoked painful memories of a fatal shooting at his college dormitory more than three decades ago.

Snyder told The Associated Press during an interview that his public safety concerns have been heightened and "deserve extra consideration" following a mass shooting that left 26 people — including 20 children — dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"We're looking at the whole situation due to Connecticut, not just the fact that there's a bill out there," the Republican governor said. "One of the things I've asked our team to look at is what's going with school policies, with mental-health-related issues, because in many respects it appears this was a mentally ill person. ... What that legislation says will be looked at through the lens of all that's happened."

Snyder said the Good Friday 1981 shooting at the University of Michigan also plays into his decision-making regarding the legislation. He was a law school student and resident adviser when a student set fires by throwing Molotov cocktails onto the floor and fired a shotgun, killing another resident adviser and a student who was trying to help get people off the floor.



New Zealand Government Fund Divests From Israeli Firms Over Settlement Construction

A New Zealand government fund divested from three Israeli companies because of their involvement in the construction of West Bank settlements.

Elbit, Lev Leviev's Africa Israel and its construction subsidiary Danya Cebus, and Shikun & Binui were excluded from the 23.5 billion dollars New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the New Zealand Herald reported last week.


In a statement, Anne-Maree O'Connor, the fund's manager for responsible investment, said, "Findings by the United Nations that the separation barrier and settlement activities were illegal under international law were central to the fund's decision to exclude the companies. The fund also factored in votes by New Zealand for U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding the cessation and dismantling of the separation barrier, and the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."



Israel Pushes On With East Jerusalem Building Plan That Angered Americans In 2010

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, December 17, 11:20 AM

JERUSALEM — Israel says it is pushing forward with plans to build hundreds of homes in a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem.

An Interior Ministry committee on Monday gave intermediate approval to the construction of 1,500 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, a part of the city Palestinians claim for a future capital.

The ministry says the project still must go through additional planning stages, and it could be years before construction begins.

The announcement is nonetheless expected to anger the Palestinians and even Israeli allies who oppose settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.



Both Parties in Congress May Have Reason for January Deal

Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress are starting to talk about the benefits of waiting until January to reach a budget deal, even as House Speaker John Boehner signals openness to allowing tax rates to rise for millionaires.

President Barack Obama rejected a Dec. 14 offer by Boehner to raise rates on household income above $1 million a year and lift the federal debt ceiling in exchange for containing entitlement program costs. While Obama wants higher rates for income above $250,000, Boehner’s offer marked movement because he has opposed increased rates for any income level.


Still, making a deal in early January that extends income tax cuts for all except top earners could be easier for Boehner to sell to House Republicans because all rates will have risen as of Jan. 1. At that point, Obama will have made good on his campaign pledge to raise rates for top earners, giving him political cover to accept cuts to entitlement programs that Republicans are seeking.

Republican ‘Incentive’

“One could make the argument that Republicans would have incentive to do it so they don’t have to vote for tax increases” and can vote for a tax cut in 2013, said Representative Joseph Crowley, a New York Democrat.


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