Archives for FUBAR

Unemployment rate drops to 9.7 percent, but…

The unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly in January to 9.7 percent, while employers shed 20,000 jobs, according to a report that offered hope the economy will add jobs soon.

The unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent because a survey of households found the number of employed Americans rose by 541,000, the Labor Department said Friday. The job losses are calculated from a separate survey of employers.
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Palin failed to report new cabins, pay taxes

Former Alaska Gov. and defeated GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin did not report construction of two new cabins built on property she partially owns and has failed to pay taxes on the new construction.

Local tax officials haven't issued tax assessments for the two-story, house-sized cabins, a workshop and a sauna spotted Thursday in an aerial survey. Palin did pay $156.13 in property taxes in 2009 -- but did not notify the local about the new construction nearly 100 miles north of Anchorage.

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Bankers look to repair their image

Sen. Chris DoddChief executives at some of the biggest financial institutions are on a mission to repair their image with Congress and the public, part of a strategy to gain more influence over legislation that would overhaul financial regulations and intrude further into their business.

Top bankers fanned out across Capitol Hill on Thursday, meeting with House and Senate members involved in banking policies. They were led by Richard Davis, the chairman and CEO of U.S. Bancorp, and Robert Kelly, chairman and CEO of Bank of New York Mellon.

"The No. 1 goal we have is to be relevant to this fix," said Davis, who is also chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable, an industry group.
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Recession report: More job losses

Job losses during the Great Recession have been huge and they're about to get bigger.

When the Labor Department releases the January unemployment report Friday, it will also update its estimate of jobs lost in the year that ended in March 2009. The number is expected to rise by roughly 800,000, raising the number of jobs shed during the recession to around 8 million.

The new data will help illustrate the scope of the jobs crisis. Analysts think the economy might generate 1 million to 2 million jobs this year. And they say it will take at least three to four years for the job market to return to anything like normal.

"It's going to take a long time to dig out of this hole," said Julia Coronado, senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas.

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Colin Powell urges end to ban on gays in military

Colin PowellFormer Secretary of State and retired Army general Colin Powell joined the chorus of officials urging an end to the military's ban on gays serving openly.

Powell previously opposed allowing gays to serve in the military, opposing former President Bill Clinton's efforts to end the ban in 1993.

"In the past 17 years since the 'Don't ask, don't tell' legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed," Powell said Wednesday.

"I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week," Powell said.
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Can health care reform save the American economy?

Columnist David Broder argues that -- in effect -- what is good for health care is good for America.

Writing in The Washington Post, Broder argues that we need health care reform to save the American economy.

"A chart in the budget shows that the three big entitlements, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, now consume 41 percent of the federal spending, aside from interest payments," Broder says. "On current trends, this will rise to 60 percent by 2030, when all surviving baby boomers will be 65 or older -- crowding out almost everything else the country needs from government."

So what's the answer?


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NSA teams with Google to fight cybercrime

cybercrimeThe world's largest Internet search company and the world's most powerful electronic surveillance organization are teaming up in the name of cybersecurity.

Under an agreement that is still being finalized, the National Security Agency would help Google analyze a major corporate espionage attack that the firm said originated in China and targeted its computer networks, according to cybersecurity experts familiar with the matter. The objective is to better defend Google -- and its users -- from future attack.

Google and the NSA declined to comment on the partnership. But sources with knowledge of the arrangement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the alliance is being designed to allow the two organizations to share critical information without violating Google's policies or laws that protect the privacy of Americans' online communications. The sources said the deal does not mean the NSA will be viewing users' searches or e-mail accounts or that Google will be sharing proprietary data.
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State Farm bails on Florida homeowners

The largest homeowners insurer in Florida is canceling the policies of 125,000 of its most vulnerable customers beginning Aug. 1, halfway through the 2010 hurricane season.

The company, State Farm Florida, began sending out cancellation notices this week to nearly a fifth of its 714,000 customers, most of them in the state’s hurricane-prone coastal regions.

A spokesman for State Farm said the decision was the direct result of its failure to win a 47.1 percent rate increase from state regulators.

State Farm stopped writing new policies and sought the increase a year ago, saying severe losses from a series of devastating hurricanes in recent years had rendered its business model unworkable. It said that without the large increase, it would be insolvent by the end of 2011.
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Big banks launder dirty money

Among Bank of America’s 50 million customers, Pierre Falcone was far from ordinary. An infamous global arms dealer who unlawfully sold weapons to Angola for its civil war and an international fugitive, Falcone was convicted of tax fraud and illegal arms dealing in 2007 and 2009 and is currently serving six years behind bars. Yet for nearly two decades, Falcone and his relatives freely used 29 different bank accounts to funnel at least $60 million into the US from secretive havens like the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Singapore, and from shell corporations and secret clients. Despite his criminal record and worldwide notoriety, Bank of America essentially treated him like any other depositor.

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Both right and left want Rahm Emanuel’s head

Rahm Emanuel: The wolves are circling (Reuters)President Barack Obama's sharp-tongued, often profane, chief of staff is under fire -- not only from Republicans but by increasingly uneasy Democrats.

Rahm Emanuel has long had a reputation for diarhearra of the mouth and published reports that he called the efforts by fellow Democrats who questioned compromises on the health care plan "fucking retarded" has brought rebukes and questions over whether or not the former political consultant and Illinois Congressman is an asset or liability to the President.

After Emanuel's outburst, an angry Obama ordered his Chief of Staff to immediately call the executive director of the Special Olympics and apologize for using the word "retarded."
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