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Purveyor

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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 20,247

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Student Homelessness Hits Record High

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The number of homeless students in U.S. public schools is at an all-time high, according to new data.

There were 1.2 million homeless students during the 2011-12 academic year, from preschool all the way through high school. That's up 10% from last year and 72% from the start of the recession, according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Homeless Education, which is funded by the Department of Education.

Advocacy groups say continuing economic struggles are causing more students to end up homeless, meaning that they live in shelters, motels, or are staying temporarily with someone else because they have nowhere to live.

"The recession isn't over for America's poorest families," said Barbara Duffield, Policy Director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. "There's a gap between what jobs are available, what those jobs pay and what affordable housing is available."

She said school employees -- from teachers to bus drivers to cafeteria workers -- have been getting better at identifying homelessness, a factor that may also be contributing to the greater number of homeless students.

MORE...

http://money.cnn.com/2013/10/24/pf/homeless-students/index.html

Most Americans Accumulating Debt Faster Than They’re Saving For Retirement

A majority of Americans with 401(k)-type savings accounts are accumulating debt faster than they are setting aside money for retirement, further undermining the nation’s troubled system for old-age saving, a new report has found.

Three in five workers with defined contribution accounts are “debt savers,” according to the report released Thursday, meaning their increasing mortgages, credit card balances and installment loans are outpacing the amount of money they are able to save for retirement.

The imbalance is expanding even as policymakers are encouraging people to set aside more by offering generous tax breaks and automatically enrolling workers in retirement accounts that in some cases automatically escalate the amount of money over time.

Currently, workers with retirement savings accounts put aside more than 11 percent of their pay for retirement — 5 percent in their own accounts, and 6.2 percent in Social Security.

Despite that — and despite the $2.5 trillion the report says employers have poured into defined contribution accounts from 1992 to 2012 — the retirement readiness of most Americans has been slipping, according to the report by HelloWallet, a D.C. firm that offers technology-based financial advice to workers and conducts research of economic behavior.

MORE...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/many-americans-accumulating-debt-faster-than-theyre-saving-for-retirement/2013/10/23/b7a9c85e-3b3e-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_print.html

Koch Brothers’ Arizona Allies Fined $1 Million Over Hiding California Campaign Funding

Two dark money groups linked to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have paid a record $1 million in fines to California to settle allegations that the combined $15 million they spent on two ballot proposals in the state was not properly disclosed.

The civil settlement, announced Thursday afternoon in Sacramento, caps a year of investigation into the activities of the two Arizona groups, Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Center to Protect Patient Rights.

The settlement disclosed new details in the case, including how the money was raised and how the Center to Protect Patient Rights disguised its two contributions to two California political committees. As part of the settlement, the Center to Protect Patient Rights conceded it was responsible for funneling $11 million through Americans for Responsible Leadership to a political committee spending money to fight a tax-hike measure and to support a proposition restricting unions’ political power.


The Center to Protect Patient Rights also gave an additional $4 million to another dark money group, the American Future Fund, which gave the money to another political committee spending on the anti-union measure.

“What is the takeaway from this trail of dark money?” asked Ann Ravel, the outgoing head of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which investigated the groups along with the state attorney general’s office. “This is a nationwide issue. These groups exploit loopholes in the law to undermine the clear purpose of the law, to give essential information to the public.”

MORE...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/24/koch-brothers-arizona-allies-fined-1-million-over-hiding-california-campaign-funding/

Oil’s $5 Trillion Permian Boom Threatened by $70 Crude

By Joe Carroll and Edward Klump - Oct 25, 2013

Bryan Sheffield, a third-generation oil wildcatter in Texas’s Permian Basin, knows what he’ll do if crude drops to $80 a barrel: shut down half his drilling rigs and go on a takeover hunt for weaker rivals.

Sheffield is among producers who’ve together invested $150 billion in the Permian since 2010 seeking their piece of an oil trove estimated to be worth as much as $5 trillion. As the money pours in, risks are mounting of a bust as analysts including Marshall Adkins of Raymond James & Associates Inc. forecast crude is heading down to $70 a barrel next year, a price that would slow drilling in the most expensive U.S. shale formation.

While traditional wells have been drilled in the Permian since the 1920s, shale producers have become giddy over the potential of the region’s vast overlapping layers of oil-soaked shale rock. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD) estimated the remaining yield at the equivalent of 50 billion barrels, more than any field on Earth except Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar. The varied geology, though, makes it more costly to explore and develop.

“That’s the double-edged sword,” said Benjamin Shattuck, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in Houston. Multiple oil zones layered one atop another provide ample potential for riches, “but you also have to be a knowledgeable and good operator in order to drill economic wells out there.”

If oil drops another 18 percent to $80 a barrel, wells in some parts of the Permian that sprawls beneath Texas and New Mexico will become money-losers, said Tim Rezvan, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. in New York.

more...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/oil-s-5-trillion-permian-boom-threatened-by-70-crude.html

Obama Joins Putin War as Syria Jihadists Stalk Olympics

President Vladimir Putin is turning to Barack Obama for help protecting the costliest Winter Games ever from attacks by Islamic extremists, including hundreds of battle-hardened jihadists now fighting in Syria.

About 400 Russian nationals, mainly from the North Caucasus, are currently battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria and their return poses a “big threat,” according to Sergei Smirnov, deputy director of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the main successor to the Soviet KGB.

“Many of our compatriots are fighting on the side of al-Qaeda in Syria,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who’s in charge of preparations for the Feb. 7-23 event, said in an interview in Moscow on Oct. 21. “We understand this is a global threat and we can only prevent it through joint efforts.”

As Russia prepares to seal off Sochi, a Black Sea resort of 345,000 people, it’s reaching out to the U.S. and about 80 other nations for help identifying potential threats from abroad, Alexei Lavrishchev, a senior FSB official, said Oct. 2.

At the top of the list are the Russian militants in Syria, whose numbers may be triple what the FSB is saying publicly, according to the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies in Moscow, which expects a third of those fighters to return home.

more...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/obama-joins-putin-war-as-syria-jihadists-stalk-olympics.html

If New York Freezes in January Blame Siberian Snow Now

By Brian K. Sullivan - Oct 25, 2013

Snow falling over Siberia is raising the prospect for frigid temperatures in New York come January.

The weather half a world from Central Park can set off atmospheric events that result in icy air descending from the North Pole in December and January, driving U.S. temperatures down and natural gas and heating oil use up, according to Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmosphere & Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts.

“It’s the best winter predictor that we have,” Cohen said in a telephone interview. “We haven’t made a forecast yet, but we’re watching it closely and the snow cover has definitely been above normal so far.”

The more ground covered by snow across northern Europe and Asia at the end of October, the greater the chances of triggering a phenomenon known as the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. That would flood North America, Europe and East Asia with polar air and possibly erect a blocking effect in the North Atlantic that would bottle up the cold in the U.S.

In September, 2.36 million square kilometers (911,000 square miles) of northern Europe and Asia were covered by snow, according to the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab. That compared with the 1981-2010 mean of 1.5 million.

more...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/if-new-york-freezes-in-january-blame-siberian-snow-now.html

Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Fell to 10-Month Low in October

Source: Bloomberg

By Ben Schenkel - Oct 25, 2013

Consumer confidence in the U.S. dropped in October to a 10-month low, showing the reopening of the federal government failed to reassure households.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final consumer sentiment index decreased to 73.2, the weakest this year, from 77.5 in September. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a decline to 75 compared with a preliminary reading of 75.2.

The government’s partial closing prompted Americans to turn more pessimistic about the economy, whose recovery continues to be uneven. Disappointing gains in employment and the prospect of a protracted budget battle into 2014 raises the risk that consumer spending will cool as the holiday-shopping season approaches.

“This political uncertainty is going to slow any momentum we’ve had in the past few months,” said Millan Mulraine, director of U.S. rates research at TD Securities USA LLC in New York, who projected the sentiment index would drop to 73. “If we come into December without any progress on a funding bill, consumers will start sitting on their hands and that will mean a slower rebound in spending.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-25/consumer-sentiment-in-u-s-dropped-to-10-month-low-in-october.html



Pretty much sums up the mood I've detected on the streets the last few weeks. We will start to see warnings about the upcoming holiday shopping season soon.

The Handyüberwachung Disaster

By ROGER COHEN
Published: October 24, 2013

BERLIN — Germany, of course, has already concocted a compound word for it: Handyüberwachung. That would be spying on cellphone calls.

The U.S. surveillance in question targeted the phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel. Or at least she was convinced enough of this to call President Obama, express outrage at a “serious breach of trust” and declare such conduct between allies “completely unacceptable.”

The White House’s assurance to her that the United States “is not” and “will not” monitor her communications was tantamount to confirmation through omission that in the past it has.

Merkel is measured. For her to lift the phone and go public with her criticism leaves no doubt she is livid. As she said last July, “Not everything which is technically doable should be done.” This, on the now ample evidence provided by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is not the view of the N.S.A., whose dragnet eavesdropping has prompted fury from Paris to Brasília.

Obama, in his cool detachment, is not big on diplomacy through personal relations, but Merkel is as close to a trusted friend as he has in Europe. To infuriate her, and touch the most sensitive nerve of Stasi-marked Germans, amounts to sloppy bungling that hurts American soft power in lasting ways. Pivot to Asia was not supposed to mean leave all Europe peeved.

MORE...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/opinion/international/the-handyuberwachung-disaster.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&ref=opinion&adxnnlx=1382714850-tkDe+DYQoePjVNNCsfv+tw

Exclusive: Germany, Brazil Turn to U.N. to Restrain American Spies

Brazil and Germany today joined forces to press for the adoption of a U.N. General Resolution that promotes the right of privacy on the internet, marking the first major international effort to restrain the National Security Agency's intrusions into the online communications of foreigners, according to diplomatic sources familiar with the push.

The effort follows a German claim that the American spy agency may have tapped the private telephone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other world leaders. It also comes about one month after Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA espionage against her country as "a breach of international law" in a General Assembly speech and proposed that the U.N. establish legal guidelines to prevent "cyberspace from being used as a weapon of war."

Brazilian and German diplomats met in New York today with a small group of Latin American and European governments to consider a draft resolution that calls for expanding privacy rights contained in the International Covenant Civil and Political Rights to the online world. The draft does not refer to a flurry of American spying revelations that have caused a political uproar around the world, particularly in Brazil and Germany. But it was clear that the revelation provided the political momentum to trigger today's move to the United Nations. The blowback from the NSA leaks continues to agonize U.S. diplomats and military officials concerned about America's image abroad.

"This is an example of the very worst aspects of the Snowden disclosures," a former defense official with deep experience in NATO, told The Cable, referring to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. "It will be very difficult for the US to dig out of this, although we will over time. The short term costs in credibility and trust are enormous."

MORE...

http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/10/24/exclusive_germany_brazil_turn_to_un_to_restrain_american_spies

Edward Snowden Endorses D.C. Protest Against NSA in Rare Public Statement

Surveillance whistle-blower: 'Join us in sending the message: Stop Watching Us'

By STEVEN NELSON

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden urged Americans to protest against the massive phone and Internet surveillance programs he exposed in a rare public statement Thursday.

Snowden is living in exile in Russia, where he was granted temporary asylum on Aug. 1 after a dramatic month-long stay in Moscow's international airport. He's wanted by U.S. authorities for alleged theft of government property and alleged violations of the Espionage Act of 1917.

Since being granted asylum, the whistle-blower has largely shunned media attention. But in his Thursday statement, he recommends participation in the Saturday protest organizers hope will be the largest anti-surveillance demonstration in U.S. history.

Members of the Stop Watching Us coalition, which is hosting the protest, include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mozilla Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, social news website Reddit, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Demand Progress and Students for Liberty.

"In the last four months, we've learned a lot about our government," Snowden says in the statement. "We've learned that the U.S. intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA's hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They're wrong.

more...

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/10/24/edward-snowden-endorses-dc-protest-against-nsa-in-rare-public-statement
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