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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
May 18, 2012

Increasing Israel Aid, Cutting Everything Else

It's no longer news that the one item exempt from cuts in every budget slashing proposal (including Rep. Paul Ryan's "gut Medicare" offering) is aid to Israel.

Actually it is hard to use the word aid about an annual multi-billion dollar gift that goes directly to the Israeli military. That word suggests that the recipient is needy, which the Israeli military most certainly isn't. (Virtually all our aid to Israel is military).

U.S. "aid to Israel is, by far, the largest chunk of our foreign aid budget. That portion of the budget is increased (an extra billion in this year's budget) while real aid programs to the sick, hungry and impoverished in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is always on the budget cutters' chopping block. (Mitt Romney says China should provide non-military foreign aid, not us -- the wealthiest nation on earth).

It's no secret why Israel's gifts from the U.S. are immune. The Israel lobby uses its power to direct campaign contributions to ensure that no Member of Congress, or president for that matter, ever dares suggests that Israel take a hit as Americans do.



May 17, 2012

Turkey Says Israeli Plane Violates N.Cyprus Airspace

ISTANBUL | Thu May 17, 2012 10:29am EDT

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey said on Thursday it had scrambled military jets to intercept an Israeli plane that violated northern Cypriot airspace this week, and demanded an explanation for the incursion.

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the accusation. But the incident marked a fresh source of tension between the former allies.

Relations between Turkey and Israel fell apart after Israeli commandos raided the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in May 2010 to enforce a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with pro-Palestinian activists.

Monday's reported air incursion coincided with tensions on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus over oil and gas exploration plans there, which could hinder U.N.-backed efforts to reunite the island.



May 17, 2012

Fighter Jets In Skies Over Chicago On Friday Morning Before NATO Summit

CHICAGO (CBS) – U.S. fighter jets will be actively flying over Chicago on Friday as part of a security drill in the days before the NATO Summit.

The U.S. North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command Region fighters–including Air Force KC-135 tankers, Air Force F-16s, and a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopters–will be visible on Friday morning, beginning around 9 a.m..

Residents in the Chicago area can expect flights to continue for approximately two hours.

“Providing the air defense for special security events like this year’s NATO Summit is a part of our day-to-day mission,” said Lt. Gen. Sid Clarke, Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander said in a statement. “Our interagency partnerships are a key component to the air defense shield for events like this.”



May 17, 2012

Iran Attack Decision Nears, Israeli Elite Locks Down


By Michael Stott

JERUSALEM | Thu May 17, 2012 12:39pm EDT

(Reuters) -

This inner sanctum at the end of a corridor between Netanyahu's private room and the office of his top military adviser, is where one of the decade's most momentous military decisions could soon be taken: to launch an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear program.

Time for that decision is fast running out and the mood in Jerusalem is hardening.

As the deadline for a decision draws nearer, the public pronouncements of Israel's top officials and military have changed. After hawkish warnings about a possible strike earlier this year, their language of late has been more guarded and clues to their intentions more difficult to discern.

"The top of the government has gone into lockdown," one official said. "Nobody is saying anything publicly. That in itself tells you a lot about where things stand."

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/17/us-israel-iran-idUSBRE84G0UC20120517

May 17, 2012

McCain, Romney Camps Decry Super-PAC Proposal to Attack Obama on Rev. Wright

Republicans revulsed from the news Thursday that a GOP Super PAC was contemplating a major ad campaign against President Obama focused on his past connections to the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg reported that a group of Republican strategists, including Fred Davis who worked for McCain in 2008, to “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do” — run TV ads linking President Obama to provocative comments made by Wright, whom then-Sen. Obama disowned in 2008 after decades of friendship. The Super PAC is funded by Joe Ricketts, founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.” “Our plan is to do exactly what John McCain would not let us do: Show the world how Barack Obama’s opinions of America and the world were formed. And why the influence of that misguided mentor and our president’s formative years among left-wing intellectuals has brought our country to its knees.”

The Romney and McCain campaigns made it immediately clear that they thought this proposal not a good one.



May 17, 2012

Senators to Unveil the ‘Ex-Patriot Act’ to Respond to Facebook’s Saverin’s Tax ‘Scheme’

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again.

In September 2011, Saverin relinquished his U.S. citizenship before the company announced its planned initial public offering of stock, which will debut this week. The move was likely a financial one, as he owns an estimated 4 percent of Facebook and stands to make $4 billion when the company goes public. Saverin would reap the benefit of tax savings by becoming a permanent resident of Singapore, which levies no capital gains taxes.

At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

The senators will call Saverin’s move an “outrage” and will outline their plan to re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country. Their proposal would also impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on the capital gains of anybody who renounces their U.S. citizenship.



May 17, 2012

Poll: 74 Percent Want End To Medical Marijuana Raids

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 18:51 EDT

Nearly three out of four Americans believe that the federal government should respect state laws regarding medical marijuana and halt raids on dispensaries, according to a poll released Wednesday.

“These results are consistent with the clear and growing body of evidence that documents substantial voter support for the legalization of medical marijuana,” said Larry Harris, a principal with Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

The polling agency found that 74 percent of Americans believed the federal government should respect states’ medical marijuana laws. Support for medical marijuana laws was highest among Independents, at 79 percent, and lowest among Republicans, at 67 percent. Younger age groups were more likely to think the federal government should respect medical marijuana laws than older age groups.

“The results of this survey demonstrate that there is virtually no support in the country for the Obama administration’s crackdown on state medical marijuana laws,” said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project.



May 17, 2012

Index of U.S. Leading Economic Indicators Falls 0.1%

By Alex Kowalski - May 17, 2012 10:28 AM ET

The index (SPX) of U.S. leading indicators unexpectedly fell in April, indicating the pace of economic expansion may cool.

The Conference Board’s gauge of the outlook for the next three to six months decreased 0.1 percent after a 0.3 percent gain in March, the New York-based group said today. Economists projected the gauge would rise by 0.1 percent, according to the median of 49 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

American employers added jobs at the slowest pace in six months in April, restraining the consumer spending that accounts for 70 percent of the world’s largest economy. Higher claims for unemployment benefits, a decline in building permits and weaker consumer confidence contributed to the decline.

“The economy is in a midst of a soft patch, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything worse than that,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “Economic growth this quarter will come right around where it came in last quarter.”



May 17, 2012

Biden Touts Auto Recovery to Rally Democrats to Re-Elect

By Mark Niquette - May 17, 2012 12:00 AM ET

Vice President Joe Biden kicked off a visit to Ohio’s Democrat-rich Youngstown area aimed at bolstering support among party activists by saying the region and nation would be better off with “Obama economics” compared with “Romney economics.”

The Obama administration “values the role of workers,” Biden said in a speech yesterday at M-7 Technologies, a closely- held manufacturing company with 30 employees. The approach of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, he said, is “as long as the government helps the guys at the top to do well, workers and small businesses and communities, they can fend for themselves.”

Biden made his case in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, a region in Eastern Ohio that gave Obama 58.5 percent of the vote in 2008 and where “Black Monday” refers not to a stock market crash but the day in 1977 when Youngstown Sheet & Tube announced shutdowns marking the end of the area’s steel era.

“You’ve been through hell and back,” Biden said in his speech. “Outsourcing. Padlocked plant gates. Closed businesses in your communities.”



May 17, 2012

Foreclosures Tumble to Five-Year Low as U.S. Housing Recovering

By Dan Levy - May 17, 2012

Foreclosure filings in the U.S. fell to a five-year low last month as lenders sought to avoid seizing property and a housing recovery showed signs of taking hold.

The number of default, auction and seizure notices sent to homeowners in April totaled 188,780, down 14 percent from a year earlier and 5 percent from the previous month, according to RealtyTrac Inc. It was the lowest tally since July 2007, before the onset of the biggest housing crash in seven decades, the Irvine, California-based data seller said today in a report.

The “gradually rising foreclosure tide” forecast by RealtyTrac after a February settlement by the nation’s biggest mortgage servicers over faulty practices has yet to materialize, limiting the number of properties on the market and propping up prices. Banks are finding alternatives to home seizures, selling distressed property for less than the amount owed on the mortgage, known as a short sale, or modifying loans for borrowers struggling to keep up payments while an improving economy is helping to ease defaults.

“Things are getting better and the number of vulnerable households is going down,” Paul Willen, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said in a telephone interview. “The pool of borrowers is much more stable than it was two or three years ago.”



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