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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 25,628

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Greenspan Says Painless Solution to U.S. Debt is Fantasy

By Joshua Zumbrun & Tom Keene - Dec 6, 2012 9:22 AM ET

Reducing U.S. long-term deficits will inevitably cause economic pain, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said.

“The presumption that we’re going to have a painless solution to this, I think, is fantasy,” Greenspan said today during a “Bloomberg Surveillance” television interview with Tom Keene and Sara Eisen. “There are a lot of risks out there but the one thing I can be reasonably certain of is we won’t get through this whole issue without some pain.”

The U.S. faces twin fiscal challenges with more than $600 billion of spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to hit at the beginning of next year, threatening to send the economy into an austerity-induced recession, even as rising long-run deficits may prove unsustainable.

Greenspan, 86, who preceded Ben S. Bernanke as chairman of the central bank, blamed U.S. deficits on growth in spending and blamed both political parties, saying “strangely enough, and ironically, the spending surge which is creating the problem here is fundamentally both Republicans and Democrats.”



Netanyahu Says Settlements to Be Israeli in Merkel Clash

Source: Bloomberg

By Patrick Donahue - Dec 6, 2012 9:17 AM ET

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said expanded West Bank settlements near Jerusalem will eventually become part of Israel as he clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the prospective housing plan.
The West Bank land where Netanyahu gave preliminary approval for building 3,000 new homes last week, sparking a wave of international criticism, is a “small corridor” between Jerusalem and a major settlement bloc, Netanyahu said today after meeting with the German leader in Berlin.
“The curious thing is that most governments” that have looked at the settlement activity, “including the Palestinians themselves, as revealed in leaked documents, understand that these blocs, these arrangements, are going to be part of Israel in a final political settlement of peace,” Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader signaled he wouldn’t back away from the expansion plans, which threaten to split a future Palestine and cut off Palestinians from their desired capital of east Jerusalem. Merkel, who said that Israel’s security is part of Germany’s “reason of state” seven decades after the Holocaust, said the two disagreed over the settlement issue.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-06/netanyahu-says-settlements-to-be-israeli-in-merkel-clash-1-.html

Clinton Wins Majority Support For 2016 Presidential Bid

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- A majority of Americans now back U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a presidential bid in 2016, a latest nationwide poll showed on Wednesday.

The ABC News and Washington Post poll found that 57 percent of Americans say they will support Clinton to run for the president candidacy to succeed Barack Obama four years later while 37 percent oppose it.

A broad gender gap was shown in the poll when Clinton enjoys a stronger support among women. A total of 66 percent of women and 49 percent of men say yes to a Clinton presidential candidacy.

Clinton, who is expected to retire before Obama's second term, also closes out her diplomatic career with considerable approval and popularity.

The poll showed that 68 percent of Americans approve her work as Secretary of State, second only to Collin Powell among the last five on the position. Sixty-six percent of Americans hold a favorable view of her overall, a new high in her public career as the First Lady, U.S. Senator and the top U.S. diplomat in the Obama administration.



Israel Accuses US Of Backing European Settlement Backlash

Tthe newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, quoted unnamed Israeli diplomats as saying the outcry could not have occurred without the complicity of the Obama administration, which has profound differences with Mr Netanyahu over settlements.

“We would not be mistaken to say that Europe was acting with Washington’s encouragement,” the paper’s commentator, Shimon Shiffer wrote. “The White House authorised Europe to pounce on the Netanyahu government and to punish it.”

One Israeli official told the Daily Telegraph that while the US was unlikely to have ordered such a move, it may have signalled approval.

“It’s more likely that they have been informed and have not raised any objection, but also showed some understanding and maybe even more,” he said. “There’s probably an understanding between the US and the Europeans that this is the right thing to do at this point.”



J Street Wins as Senate Omits Statehood Slap; Punishment for U.N. Palestine Push Left Out Of Defense

Punishment for U.N. Palestine Push Left Out of Defense Bill

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Senate amendment that would have penalized Palestinians for seeking non-member state status at the United Nations was not attached to its intended law.
The National Defense Authorization Act, passed late Tuesday, did not include among its amendments one that would cut funding to the Palestinians should they use their status, gained last week, to seek charges against Israel in international courts.

The amendment also would have shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington until the Palestinians returned to peace talks with Israel.

The amendment had been introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on Nov. 29, the same day as the vote in the U.N. General Assembly enhancing the Palestinian’s statehood status.

Street, the liberal pro-Israel group, rallied against the amendment, with followers sending close to 15,000 letters to senators and making close to one thousand calls.

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/167251/j-street-wins-as-senate-omits-statehood-slap/#ixzz2ECUg0If8

Israeli-German Relations Strained after Abstention

It was one of the most unpleasant conversations that Christoph Heusgen had ever been required to have with Jaakov Amidror. On Wednesday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's foreign policy adviser told his Israeli counterpart that Germany would abstain in the following day's vote at the United Nations General Assembly on whether to grant the Palestinians the status of a "non-member observer state." Merkel's government had just decided, he said.

Amidror made it clear what he thought about the Germans' decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government had been expecting Berlin to show its customary support for Israel by voting "no." The Israelis viewed Heusgen's announcement as an affront.

Germany's stance on this issue shows just how deeply frustrated its government is with the Netanyahu government's policies. The UN vote was a defeat for Israel. In the end, 138 of the 193 UN member states supported the Palestinians' petition, including France and 13 other European Union member states. Germany's abstention weighed particularly heavy because it meant that Canada and the United States were the only major Western nations to vote on Israeli's side.

This Thursday, Netanyahu and several of his ministers will travel to Berlin to discuss a range of matters, including regional security issues and economic and trade ties, with their German counterparts. But relations between Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Netanyahu have rarely been as bad as they are now. Merkel is upset because she believes that Netanyahu isn't doing anything to move forward the peace process with the Palestinians. Netanyahu, in turn, thinks that Merkel doesn't sufficiently understand the complicated situation his government is in.



Growth of US Service Firms Accelerated Last Month

U.S. service companies grew at a slightly faster pace in November because sales and new orders rose, a good sign for the economy.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 54.7 from 54.2 in October. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. That's above the 12-month average of 54.4.

The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health care and financial services firms. The industries covered employ about 90 percent of the work force.



US Factory Orders up 0.8 Percent in October

Orders to U.S. factories rose modestly in October, helped by a big gain in demand for equipment that reflects business investment plans.

Factory orders edged up 0.8 percent in October, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That compared to September when orders had jumped 4.5 percent.

Orders for core capital goods, a category viewed as a good proxy for business investment plans, increased 2.9 percent in October, the biggest increase in eight months. That represented an upward revision from an initial estimate of 1.7 percent. The increase came after big declines in the investment category this summer.

Orders for durable goods rose 0.5 percent in October, up from a preliminary estimate of no gain, while orders for nondurable goods, items such as chemicals and paper, were up 1.1 percent.



Israel PM Heads To Berlin As Settlement Dispute Grows

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 8:25 EST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due in Berlin on Wednesday for talks likely to focus on the growing crisis over settlement plans that could torpedo the viability of a Palestinian state.

Ahead of his departure on a trip that will take him briefly to Prague and then on to Berlin, Netanyahu brushed off the diplomatic pressure.

He insisted that Israel’s settlement building was not the central issue in the decades-long conflict between the Jewish state and the Palestinians.

“The root of the conflict is not the settlements; it is the very existence of the state of Israel and the desire to wipe it off the face of the earth,” he said late on Tuesday.



Senate Passes $631 Billion U.S. Defense Legislation

Source: Bloomberg

By Laura Litvan - Dec 5, 2012 12:01 AM ET

The Senate passed unanimously a measure authorizing $631.4 billion for U.S. defense programs this fiscal year that sticks to President Barack Obama’s proposed spending total while drawing a veto threat with its policy provisions.

The 98-0 vote yesterday in the Democratic-controlled Senate advances legislation allowing about $543 billion for the basic defense budget in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, and an additional $88 billion to fund wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The legislation next must be reconciled with a House- passed version that would spend $4 billion more than Obama wants.

“This bill provides our men and women in uniform the funding and support that they need as they engage in continued combat in Afghanistan, work to track down al-Qaeda and associated forces in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, and perform other military missions around the world,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said during debate.

Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Boeing Co. (BA) and General Dynamics Corp. (GD) are among defense contractors that would benefit because the legislation increases funding over this year’s levels for fighter jets, missiles, submarines and other programs.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-04/senate-passes-631-billion-u-s-defense-legislation.html
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