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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Israel's FM Lieberman Calls On Britain To Stop Anti-Israel Activities In Universities

LONDON (EJP)---Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Britain to stop anti-Israel activities on British universities, during a meeting this week in London with his British counterpart William Hague.

“A clear message must be conveyed to British universities, that there is no room for appeasing and pacifying small, vocal groups that threaten violence at the expense of the rights of Israelis to freely express their opinions on the campuses,” Lieberman told the British minister.

At the meeting the two ministers discussed bilateral issues, including increasing Israel-UK cooperation, the situation in the Middle East and the negotiations concerning Iran’s nuclear program held in Baghdad between Tehran and the so-called P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany).

“The Iranians are trying to project a more pleasant and calm atmosphere at the talks, but their goal is still the same: to obtain military nuclear capability,” Lieberman said.



Russian Arms Shipment En Route To Syria: Report

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS | Fri May 25, 2012 6:14pm EDT

(Reuters) - A Russian cargo ship loaded with weapons is en route to Syria and due to arrive at a Syrian port this weekend, Al Arabiya television said in a report that Western diplomats in New York described on Friday as credible.

Syria is one of Russia's top weapons customers. The United States and European Union have suggested the U.N. Security Council should impose an arms embargo and other U.N. sanctions on Syria for its 14-month assault on a pro-democracy opposition determined to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But Russia, with the support of fellow veto power China, has prevented the council from imposing any U.N. sanctions on Syria and has refused to halt arms sales to Damascus.

"Al Arabiya have learned that a Russian cargo ship carrying a large amount of weapons plans to unload its cargo in the Syrian port of Tartus," the broadcaster said on its website on Thursday.



Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Climbs to Highest Since 2007

Source: Bloomberg

By Alex Kowalski - 2012-05-25T14:10:14Z

Consumer confidence rose in May to the highest level since October 2007 as prices at the gas pump became less of a drag on household budgets.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 79.3 from 76.4 the prior month. The gauge was projected to hold at the preliminary reading of 77.8, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Cheaper gasoline and an improving housing market may help sustain consumers’ spirits in the face of slower job growth and slumping stock prices. The gain in confidence may signal Americans are more inclined to step up their purchases, which increased in the first quarter at the fastest pace in more than a year.

“Gas prices have fallen, and that’s outweighing the fact that the labor market has been of some concern,” Erik Johnson, a U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts, said before the report. “We see consumer spending holding up.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-25/consumer-sentiment-in-u-s-climbs-to-highest-since-2007.html

Iran, P5+1 Agree To Hold Next Talks In Moscow In Mid-June

BAGHDAD, May 24 (Xinhua) -- Iran and six world powers known as P5+1 agreed Thursday to meet in mid June in Moscow for a new round of talks to resolve the nuclear dispute after two days of discussions in Baghdad.

"We will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts to prepare a further meeting in Moscow with talks on June 18 and 19," European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told a news conference at the end of meeting here.

She said both Iran and P5+1 wanted to make a progress in their two-day discussions in Baghdad, but substantial differences still remain.

"It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground. However, significant differences remain," Ashton said.



West Rebuffs Iran’s Concessions

So far, the West is taking a hard line in talks with Iran, responding to its concessions on its nuclear program with only modest rewards and, indeed, with new threats of sanctions. U.S. politicians, in particular, are bending to Israeli demands for either Iranian capitulation or war, a worry to ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

In looking at the state of play after a day of talks in Baghdad between Iran and the P5+1, one has to ask how much of what is impeding progress is the work of those having a stake in the negotiations failing and how much results from misunderstanding how international negotiations work.

The public picture of what transpired across the table on Wednesday is incomplete, but evidently the principal sticking point is Western refusal so far to consider any relaxation of any of the sanctions already imposed on Iran. This refusal is being maintained despite Iran having made it clear it is willing to give up enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level, a move that would get to the heart of what ostensibly is the main Western concern about how close Iran is to a nuclear-weapons capability.

In return for this concession, the negotiators, led by the European Union’s Lady Ashton, reportedly are dangling such tidbits as spare airplane parts and fuel rods for the Iranian reactor that produces medical isotopes. While those are not quite trivial throwaways, they pale in comparison with the sanctions, the lifting of which is the main reason Iran has to negotiate.



Russia Tests New Missile, In Warning Over U.S. Shield


By Steve Gutterman

MOSCOW | Wed May 23, 2012 4:39pm EDT

(Reuters) - Russia tested a new long-range missile on Wednesday that should improve its ability to penetrate missile defense systems, the military said, in Moscow's latest warning to Washington over deployment of a missile shield in Europe.

The Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) was successfully launched from the Plesetsk facility in northwestern Russia and its dummy warhead landed on target on the Kamchatka peninsula on the Pacific coast, the Defense Ministry said.

The new missile is expected to improve Russia's offensive arsenal, "including by increasing the capability to overcome missile defense systems that are being created", the ministry said in a statement.

Russia opposes a missile shield the United States and NATO are deploying in Europe, saying it will be able to intercept Russian warheads by about 2018, weakening Moscow's nuclear arsenal and upsetting the post-Cold War balance of power.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/23/us-russia-usa-missiles-idUSBRE84M1EU20120523

Patrick Fitzgerald Steps Down As US Attorney In Chicago

(05-23) 10:04 PDT Chicago (AP) --

Patrick Fitzgerald, one of the most feared U.S. attorneys in the nation and the architect of corruption convictions against two Illinois governors and a former vice presidential aide, announced through his office Wednesday that he is stepping down at the end of next month.

As the U.S. attorney in Chicago, Fitzgerald has overseen thousands of criminal prosecutions and high-profile cases against Illinois governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, former Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and media mogul Conrad Black. He took on public corruption, international terrorism, corporate fraud and organized crime.

Fitzgerald has held the post for the Northern District of Illinois for more than a decade. His office announced Wednesday that he's stepping down effective June 30.

A statement from his office gave no reason for his decision to leave the presidentially appointed post he has held since Sept. 1, 2001. It said he did not immediately have any future employment plans and would take the summer off before considering other job possibilities.



Ford Gets Its Blue Oval Back: Six Years Later, Stock Upgrade Caps Automaker's Turnaround Plan

Ford Motor Co. is getting its blue oval logo back.

Moody's Investors Service raised Ford's debt ratings to investment-grade Tuesday for the first time in seven years. The upgrade means that all of Ford's U.S. assets, including factories, the blue oval and the trademarks for the F-150 pickup and Mustang sports car, are back in the company's hands and will no longer be used to secure the company's debt.

Ford never stopped using its logo or factories, but posted them as collateral in 2006 in order to get a $23.5 billion loan and avoid bankruptcy. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, the great grandson of company founder Henry Ford, said Tuesday that giving up the rights to the oval was "enormously emotional for me personally and for my family."

"This is one of the best days that I can remember," Bill Ford said in a conference call with reporters.

Ford needed investment-grade ratings from two of the three ratings agencies to get its assets back from a group of banks that held them. Fitch Ratings upgraded the company last month. Standard and Poor's has not yet upgraded Ford, and said in March that it didn't expect to change Ford's ratings within the next year.



Obama Prospects Improve as Swing State Economies Improve

From extra shifts at auto and steel plants in Ohio to office buildings rising in Northern Virginia, the geography of the U.S. economic rebound is providing an edge to President Barack Obama’s re-election.

The unemployment rates in a majority of the 2012 battleground states are lower than the national average as those economies improve. Coupled with the growth of adult minority populations in those states, the trends create a higher bar for presumed Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney in his quest to unseat Obama.

“There are jobs out there,” said Chris McGiffen, 47, of Zanesville, Ohio, who moved to the state in 2010 from St. Louis to look for work. He found a job as a welder at Columbus Castings, a steel foundry that makes products such as undercarriages for railroad cars, he said.

Nine states switched from supporting Republican President George W. Bush in 2004 to Democrat Obama in 2008. Leaving out Indiana, which both sides say is leaning Republican after supporting Obama four years ago, the remaining eight are again shaping up as the central election battleground.



U.S. Home Prices Increase 2.7% in March, FHFA Says

Source: Bloomberg

By Prashant Gopal on May 23, 2012

U.S. home prices jumped 2.7 percent in the 12 months through March as values increased in every region, a sign that a housing recovery is gaining traction.

Prices advanced 1.8 percent from February on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said today in a statement. The average estimate of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 0.3 percent monthly gain. For the first quarter, prices rose 0.5 percent from a year earlier, the first annual increase since 2007.

Record-low mortgage rates, job gains and a dwindling inventory of properties available for sale have combined to strengthen demand for homes. Purchases of previously owned U.S. houses climbed 3.4 percent in April to a 4.62 million annual rate, the first increase in three months, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.

“Increased affordability and a somewhat smaller inventory of homes for sale are positively impacting house prices,” Andrew Leventis, principal economist with the FHFA in Washington, said in the statement.

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-23/u-dot-s-dot-home-prices-rise-2-dot-7-percent-in-march-from-prior-year-fhfa-says
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