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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Ally Financial Sees Full Tarp Repayment by '14 on Auto Lending Strength

Ally Financial, the second-largest remaining investment by the Treasury's bailout fund, will repay the government by 2014 on the strength of its auto-finance business, its chief executive officer said.

Ally can make a significant payment this year toward the $14.6 billion still outstanding from the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program, CEO Michael Carpenter said in a Feb. 9 interview. Ally in 2012 financed the most new- and used-vehicle sales in the U.S. for the second consecutive year.

"We are 100 percent confident that we can repay the American taxpayer completely," Carpenter, 65, said at the National Automobile Dealers Association's convention in Orlando, Florida. "Whether that's this year or next year, I don't know. But it's in that time frame."

Ally is selling assets outside the U.S. to narrow the company's focus to autos and its online retail bank while fending off claims tied to its Residential Capital unit, which went bankrupt because of losses on subprime home mortgages. Ally's auto unit has expanded its used, leasing and subprime financing offerings ahead of expirations this year of agreements that guarantee business from General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.



Flaws Discovered In U.S. Missile Defense System

WASHINGTON — Secret Defense Department studies cast doubt on whether a multibillion-dollar missile defense system planned for Europe can ever protect the U.S. from Iranian missiles as intended, congressional investigators say.

Military officials say they believe they can overcome the problems and are moving forward with plans. But proposed fixes could prove difficult. One possibility has been ruled out as technically unfeasible. A second, relocating missile interceptors planned for Poland and possibly Romania to ships on the North Sea, could be diplomatically troublesome.

The studies are the latest to highlight serious problems for a plan that has been criticized on several fronts.

Republicans claim it was developed hastily in an attempt to appease Russia, which had opposed an earlier system. But Russia is also critical of the plan, which it believes is really intended to counter its missiles. A series of governmental and scientific reports has raised questions about whether it would ever work as planned.

At a time that the military faces giant budget cuts, the studies could lead Congress to reconsider whether it is worthwhile to spend billions for a system that may not fulfill its original goals.



It's The Settlers - Not The Ultra-Orthodox - That Threaten Israel Most

By Gideon Levy | Feb.10, 2013

Israel hates. First of all it hates Arabs, in a deep and purifying way. A mixture of dehumanization, fear and nationalism are at work in Israel. It also hates Muslims, even if they come from Chechnya. Israel hates migrants and refugees − especially if they are black − only a little less, and refers to them, diabolically, as “infiltrators.” And Israel also hates − but less − those within society who are different: first and foremost, the ultra-Orthodox.

Like every kind of hatred, hatred of the ultra-Orthodox has its sources, motives and reasons, only some of which are justified. Everything about the ultra-Orthodox is different − their language, values, culture and, of course, faith. They remind us of the Diaspora of our ancestors, which we want to forget. They themselves contribute to hatred toward them with ugly manifestations of violence toward those different from them and by their arrogance, as if their values are the only ones and the absolute ones, by their intolerance toward the customs of secular people and by their aspiration to force their customs on everyone else.

They are perceived as “parasites,” who live off society and do not serve in the army, almost a crime in Israeli society − they do not “share the burden.” The fact that, nevertheless, they are one of the two poorest groups in the country does not arouse any compassion or sympathy.

To the secular majority, which considers itself liberal, the ultra-Orthodox have only themselves to blame for their poverty, as if the secular poor people are not to blame for their poverty, as if the state does not have to take care of all its poor.



Downton was absolutely exceptional tonight, indeed! I was a bit taken back that it was a 2

hour run but delighted just the same.

Putin Turns Black Gold Into Bullion as Russia Out-Buys World

By Scott Rose and Olga Tanas - Feb 10, 2013
When Vladimir Putin says the U.S. is endangering the global economy by abusing its dollar monopoly, he’s not just talking. He’s betting on it.

Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg. The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

“The more gold a country has, the more sovereignty it will have if there’s a cataclysm with the dollar, the euro, the pound or any other reserve currency,” Evgeny Fedorov, a lawmaker for Putin’s United Russia party in the lower house of parliament, said in a telephone interview in Moscow.

Gold, coveted by Russian rulers including Tsar Nicholas II and the Bolshevik leader whose forces assassinated him, Vladimir Lenin, has soared almost 400 percent in the period of Putin’s purchases. Central banks around the world have printed money to escape the global financial crisis, sapping investor appetite for dollars and euros and setting off a scramble for safety.



Putin: Orphans Should Find Families In Home Country

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russian orphans should be adopted by Russian parents.

Putin, speaking at a Congress of Parents of Russia in Moscow, said, "We must do all we can so that orphaned children find their families in their home country, in Russia."

Putin also promised public opinion to be taken into consideration in future legislation regarding relations between parents and children.



Security Tight As Grammys Stars Hit Red Carpet

AFP - Music stars hit the red carpet Sunday for the Grammys, with veterans like Elton John and Sting joining newcomers including indie pop band fun., hoping to win big in their breakout year.

Security was tight for the industry's biggest awards show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, as police watch out for a fugitive suspected cop killer, on the run for three days after threatening to murder more officers.

Organizers are hoping to avoid drama which the Grammys seem to attract -- last year with the death of Whitney Houston on the eve of the show; and a few years before with the infamous Chris Brown-Rihanna domestic assault.

The three-and-a-half-hour main event starting at 5:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday) was preceded by a pre-show for less mainstream categories, where winners included Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who took the prize for best historical album.



Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel Coalition Partner Rules Out Peace With Palestinians

By Reuters
Published February 09, 2013.

JERUSALEM — Israel has no chance of signing a permanent peace accord with the Palestinians and should instead seek a long-term interim deal, the most powerful political partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

The remarks by Avigdor Lieberman, an ultranationalist whose joint party list with Netanyahu narrowly won a Jan. 22 election while centrist challengers made surprise gains, seemed designed to dampen expectations at home and abroad of fresh peacemaking.

A spring visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by U.S. President Barack Obama, announced this week, has stirred speculation that foreign pressure for a diplomatic breakthrough could build - though Washington played down that possibility.

In a television interview, ex-foreign minister Lieberman linked the more than two-year-old impasse to pan-Arab political upheaval that has boosted Islamists hostile to the Jewish state.

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/170850/benjamin-netanyahus-israel-coalition-partner-rules/#ixzz2KXiVCOdI

'Fighting Joe' To Bring Troops Home

US General Joseph Dunford assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday, taking over from General John Allen as the coalition prepares to withdraw the bulk of its combat troops by next year.

General Dunford will likely be the last commander of the United States' longest war, tasked with bringing forces home after more than 11 years and overseeing the transfer of Afghan security duties to local forces.

Despite the persistence of the Taliban's bloody insurgency against President Hamid Karzai's government and NATO forces, General Allen, who leaves to become the alliance's supreme commander based in Europe, said: "We will be victorious."

General Dunford, a Marine like General Allen who earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" for his leadership in Iraq, took command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in a ceremony at the group's headquarters in Kabul amid tight security.



Israel Signs Off On 346 New West Bank Settler Homes


OCCUPIED JERUSALEM The Israeli defense ministry on Sunday confirmed it had given the green light for the construction of 346 new settler homes in two settlements in the southern West Bank, a statement said.

“The defence ministry has approved plans for 200 housing units in Tekoa and 146 housing units in Nokdim,” the ministry said.

Tekoa and Nokdim are two small isolated settlements deep in the southern West Bank which are located in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem that Israel wants to keep hold of in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Late last year, the defence ministry approved plans for another 523 settler homes in another part of Gush Etzion, in what was the first step towards a new settlement city in the area.


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