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Al Jazeera America To Reach 15 Million More Homes Thanks To Cable Deal

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, October 24, 2013 11:34 EDT

Al-Jazeera America and Time Warner Cable announced Thursday they have struck a deal that allows the new US cable news channel to reach some 15 million more homes.

The channel will be launched on digital basic in Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, over the next six months, a joint statement said.

“We said in January that we would consider Al-Jazeera America. Now that the channel is live, we think that it would be of value to our customers and are pleased to make it available,” said Melinda Witmer, executive vice president at Time Warner Cable.

Ehab Al Shihabi, Al-Jazeera America’s interim chief executive, welcomed the news.

“It has been a pleasure working with TWC over the past few months as their executives evaluated our programming and commitment to fact-based, in depth reporting,” he said in the statement.



I haven't found a Al Jazeera America channel on Roku yet but Al Jazeera English is available.

N.Y. Campaign Donation Cap Barred, Win for Lhota Backers

Source: Bloomberg

By Bob Van Voris and Henry Goldman - Oct 24, 2013

An independent political action committee backing Republican Joe Lhota for New York City mayor isn’t subject to a state law that bars individuals from giving it more than $150,000 in a year, a federal appeals court ruled.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York today reversed a lower-court judge’s decision and gave a potential boost to Lhota, who is trailing Democrat Bill de Blasio in the polls less than two weeks before the Nov. 5 election.

The appeals panel applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, preliminarily blocking enforcement of the cap against New York Progress and Protection PAC. Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon had told the court he wanted to contribute $200,000 to the group in support of Lhota.

“Every sum that a donor is forbidden to contribute to NYPPP because of this statute reduces constitutionally protected speech,” the three-judge panel said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-24/new-york-election-law-blocked-by-u-s-appeals-court.html

U.S. Jobless Claims Stay Elevated, Manufacturing Slows


WASHINGTON | Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:44am EDT

(Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell less than expected last week, but a lingering backlog of applications in California makes it difficult to get a good read of labor market conditions.

While other data on Thursday showed manufacturing growing at its slowest pace in a year in early October, economists said fundamentals for the factory sector remained fairly healthy.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 350,000, the Labor Department said.

"Underlying labor market conditions probably are not as bad as the recent claims data suggest," said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/24/us-jobless-claims-idUSBRE99N0L520131024

Used Cowboy Boots for Christmas as Jobs Recovery Slows

Katie Smith plans to spend $200 less on holiday gifts this year because of concerns that weak U.S. job growth will hurt her husband’s home-remodeling business.

“We’ve scaled back,” said the 51-year-old project manager for Wake Forest University’s medical school as she perused cowboy boots for her 12-year-old daughter at a Salvation Army thrift store in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her family plans to spend about $1,000 on gifts, down from $1,200 last year.

With U.S. economic growth trailing the Federal Reserve’s projections, shoppers have plenty of reasons to hoard their dollars this holiday season. This week the government said employers added 45,000 fewer jobs in September than August. The news came with consumers already absorbing the implications of stagnant wages, a cooling housing market and the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate.

Retailers from Macy’s Inc. (M) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) missed second-quarter sales estimates and cut their forecasts. To lure shoppers who have been shifting their dollars away from apparel and other general merchandise to cars and home-related products, chains are planning to introduce discounts early in the season.



Surging Bloodshed Undercut Iraq’s Oil-Fueled Economy

By Nicole Gaouette and Caroline Alexander - Oct 24, 2013

Surging sectarian bloodshed in Iraq and an escalating regional war are undercutting one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and undermining U.S. aspirations for making Iraq a model for Middle East democracy.

Two years after U.S. forces withdrew, almost-daily bombings and suicide attacks scar weddings, funerals and cafes, as al-Qaeda-linked groups attack Shiite targets. The assaults have killed more than 5,000 people this year, levels that haven’t been seen since 2008 and almost double 2010’s toll, according to the United Nations.

“It’s striking how different the outlook for Iraq is today than what it was as late as June, when the question was who would make room for growing Iraqi production in the marketplace,” said Daniel Yergin, author of “The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World.” “Everyone is bringing down their forecast in light of what’s actually happening on the ground.”

“It’s hard for companies to operate in Iraq,” Yergin, vice chairman of Englewood, Colorado-based research company IHS Inc. (IHS), said in a phone interview. “The cost of operating there is higher because the cost of assuring security adds significantly to the overall costs.”

Syria Spillover

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who leads a Shiite-dominated government, blames Sunnis for the violence. Larger forces are at work, with spillover from neighboring Syria, where the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad is a magnet for Sunni extremists funded by Gulf nations intent on reversing Shiite Iran’s influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.



US Gasoline Prices On Pace To Hit 3-Year Low By End Of 2013

By Barbara Powell, Bloomberg
Posted Oct. 23, 2013, at 5:04 p.m.

HOUSTON — Gasoline pump prices are poised to drop to the lowest since February 2011 by New Year’s Eve as supplies increase more than demand, providing a lift for consumers in an economy struggling to recover from the deepest recession since the 1930s.

Retail prices will probably sink to an average $3.15 a gallon by Dec. 31 from $3.344, said Michael Green, a spokesman in Washington for AAA, the nation’s largest motoring organization.

The highest seasonal inventories in three years are set to rise as plants return from scheduled maintenance. Refining capacity in the fourth quarter will be 410,000 barrels a day higher than last year while demand climbs 10,000 barrels, the Energy Information Administration estimated Oct. 8.

U.S. refiners are making the most gasoline ever for this time of year, having expanded to take advantage of ample domestic and Canadian crude. U.S. oil production grew in September to the highest level since May 1989 as advances in drilling techniques boosted output from shale formations. The U.S. met 87 percent of its own energy needs in the first six months of 2013, on pace to be the highest annual rate since 1986.

“We’re in a longer-term downtrend with retail gasoline prices because of reduced demand, increasing U.S. production of oil as well as increased refining capacity for gasoline,” Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.



BofA Said to Cut 1,300 More Mortgage Unit Jobs Amid Slowdown

By Hugh Son - Oct 24, 2013

Bank of America Corp., the second-largest U.S. lender, is cutting about 1,300 more jobs in its mortgage division as the firm adjusts to lower demand, said two people with direct knowledge of the plans.

Affected employees were told yesterday about the cuts, which mostly involve the Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm’s home-loan fulfillment workers, said the people, who asked for anonymity because the changes are private. Those losing jobs will receive pay through Dec. 22 and are eligible for severance packages after that, said the people.

The latest round of reductions means Bank of America will dismiss about 3,000 people involved in making home loans in the fourth quarter. In August, the company had notified its staff of about 2,100 eliminations by the end of this month, mostly in areas processing new home loans. Mortgage lenders are paring headcount as higher interest rates discourage the refinancings they relied on to fuel profits.

Demand Drops

During an earnings conference call last week, Bank of America executives warned that the job eliminations would continue. Pending mortgages at the end of the third quarter dropped 60 percent from the second quarter, indicating a steep drop in demand, Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson told analysts on Oct. 16.



Goes to figure you don't need mortgages when wall street speculators are laying down cash money...

RELATED: Families Blocked by Investors From Buying U.S. Homes
Source: Bloomberg

Home purchases by institutional buyers reached a record high in September and all-cash buyers accounted for almost half of sales as investors responded to rising demand from renters.


Boston Scientific Will Cut 1,100-1,500 Jobs Through 2015

By Michelle Fay Cortez - Oct 24, 2013

Boston Scientific Corp. (BSX), the second-biggest maker of heart-rhythm aids, plans to eliminate as many as 1,500 more positions as the medical-device industry struggles with shrinking markets and development costs.

The job cuts, slated to take place through 2015, should reduce operating expenses before taxes by $150 million to $200 million, Natick, Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific said in a statement today. The move is part of the company’s plan to boost operating income margins to 25 percent from 19 percent now, Chief Executive Officer Mike Mahoney said.

Boston Scientific’s cutbacks build on a 2011 program, which was expanded in January. The move is in line with efforts by competitors including industry leader Medtronic Inc. (MDT) in response to years of weakened demand and pressure to lower prices for some of their biggest products.

“It’s indicative of an industry in transition,” Boston Scientific Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Capello on a conference call. “There is so much change going on, and organizations have to adapt.”

The cuts in the device industry mirror those occurring among drugmakers including Merck & Co. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, said earlier this month it would fire 8,500 workers, bringing its total job cuts to about 16,000, while Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva this month announced plans to trim about 5,000 positions.



Flood Insurance Jumping Sevenfold Depresses U.S. Home Values

By Toluse Olorunnipa - Oct 24, 2013

Rangel Dockery and her husband bought a waterfront house in Florida four months ago, assuming their $2,000-a-year flood-insurance premium would remain about the same. After reading recently about a change in the federal flood program, they checked on next year’s rates and were stunned: Their bill will grow to $14,000 annually.

Now the elementary school teacher and her husband, Clint, an information technology specialist, are considering selling their two-bedroom St. Pete Beach home, probably at a loss, because she said they can’t afford the bill, and their mortgage requires flood coverage.

“It was very frustrating to finally have what we’ve worked hard for all of our life,” Rangel Dockery, 52, said. “I feel like the rules were changed in the middle of the game. And unfortunately, we can’t play by the new rules.”

Monthly premiums for more than 1 million homeowners are set to increase due to a rewrite by the U.S. Congress last year of the federal flood insurance program. As a result, home prices in flood zones around the country are declining as potential buyers balk at the premiums, said Moe Veissi, a Miami real estate agent who led the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors last year.

Federal flood insurance covers $1.3 trillion of property in all 50 states, with Florida, Texas, Louisiana, California and New Jersey making up two-thirds of all policies, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the program.



Merkel Berates Obama On Spying, Joins Parade Of 'Shocked' World Leaders

Germany’s Angela Merkel demanded an explanation from President Obama Wednesday over allegations that the United States has been monitoring not just German government communications, but her personal cellphone.

Chancellor Merkel, take a number.

Merkel is only the latest in a parade of world leaders lining up to blast the US – and in a few cases, berate Mr. Obama himself – for the reported widespread eavesdropping by the National Security Agency (NSA) on friendly governments’ communications and those of their citizens.

In some cases, the NSA spying extended right to the offices and personal phones of some of the US’s closest allies, reports based on information leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden suggest. After Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto, France’s François Hollande, and – also today – Italy’s Enrico Letta, Merkel acted after press reports claimed that the NSA spying was much broader and reached higher up than previously known.

Merkel placed her “Are you spying on me Barack?” phone call to the White House after the German news magazine Der Spiegel queried Merkel’s office about the allegations in its investigative report.


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