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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Oil Extends Drop After U.S. Supplies Increase to 22-Year High

Source: Bloomberg

By Mark Shenk on May 23, 2012

Crude oil futures extended declines after the U.S. Energy Department said stockpiles rose to a 22- year high.

Supplies climbed 883,000 barrels to 382.5 million barrels. Inventories were forecast to gain 1.65 million barrels, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Gasoline inventories fell 3.3 million barrels to 201 million last week, the Energy Department said today. Stockpiles were forecast to slip 650,000 barrels, according to the median of 12 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Distillate supplies, which include heating oil and diesel, fell 309,000 barrels to 119.5 million. Stockpiles were estimated to decrease 500,000 barrels.

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-23/oil-extends-drop-after-u-dot-s-dot-supplies-increase-to-22-year-high

Israel Inches Closer To Compromise On Iran Uranium Enrichment, Officials Say

With the second round of nuclear talks between Iran and the six major powers due to begin in Tehran on Wednesday, senior Israeli sources say Jerusalem may be more flexible about Iranian low-level uranium enrichment than it is currently willing to let on.

Though Israel has been expressing zero flexibility regarding a possible deal with Iran, Defense Minister Ehud Barak a few weeks ago issued a written statement that Israel would consent to Iran's continuing enrichment of uranium to a low level of 3.5 percent, as well as to allowing a few hundred kilograms of 3.5-percent enriched uranium to remain in that country.

"Enrichment percentage" refers to the degree to which natural uranium has been enriched with the U-235 isotope - an isotope which can sustain a chain reaction of nuclear fission. Reactor-grade uranium is enriched to about 3 to 4 percent, while weapons-grade uranium is 90 percent enriched. However, crude nuclear weapons can be built with uranium enriched to as low as 20 percent.

A senior Israeli source said that Barak's remarks, which were shared in private conversations with U.S. officials, contradict the tough line being presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has demanded that Iran stop all uranium enrichment and give up any enriched uranium it has in its possession.



For Second Straight Year, Marchers Chant Anti-Arab Slogans During Jerusalem Day

Hundreds of Jewish youths participating in the Jerusalem Day flag procession shouted anti-Muslim slogans like "Mohammed is dead" at Palestinians holding a rally in the capital's Old City to protest the march.

The marchers yesterday also attacked three left-wing protesters trying to document the flag procession, the activists said. One said dozens of marchers surrounded them, shouting "Death to the leftists," and that a marcher broke the handle of an Israeli flag on her head. The left-wing activists also said the marchers spit at them and threw things at them.

Border Police protected the activists and escorted them away after 10 minutes.

Police also clashed with hundreds of the Palestinian protesters near Damascus Gate. They arrested 10 marchers suspected of shouting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab slogans, and five Palestinians suspected of throwing objects at the marchers.



Fears That More Countries Will Join Settlement Boycott

20 May 12 19:08, Yuval Azulai and Lilach Weissman

The Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor are afraid that the discrimination against Israeli goods produced in West Bank settlements will spread. Over the weekend, South African Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Rob Davies announced that goods produced in Israeli settlements would carry special labels. Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal also announced Israeli goods originating in the West Bank imported by Denmark will from now on carry a special label.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon told "Globes" today, "Exports of goods produced by Israeli enterprises beyond the Green Line are a negligible proportion of total Israeli exports. However, I am deeply concerned of a chain reaction that will cause other countries to follow the South African initiative. At the moment, I believe that this is a single initiative."

Leading manufacturers told "Globes" that the value of goods exported from enterprises in Judea and Samaria total tens of millions of dollars annually, a negligible proportion of Israel's $46 billion in annual export of goods.

However, the manufacturers said that the initiative by the South African government raises deep concerns that it will inspire other countries to follow suit.



NATO Decides To Activate Missile Shield Despite Russian Threats

NATO leaders launched Sunday the first phase of a US-led missile shield for Europe, risking the wrath of Russia which has threatened to deploy rockets to EU borders in response.

A NATO official told AFP that US President Barack Obama and his allies “just decided” at a Chicago summit to put a US warship armed with interceptors in the Mediterranean and a Turkey-based radar system under NATO command in a German base.

The alliance insists the shield is not aimed at Russia and aims to knock out missiles that could be launched by enemies such as Iran, but Moscow fears that the system will also serve to neutralize its nuclear deterrent.

“Missile defense is indispensable. We are faced with real missile threats,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on the eve of the summit, adding that 30 states either have or seek ballistic missile technology.



Report: Limbaugh Ratings Down Big After ‘Slut’ Remarks

By David Edwards
Monday, May 21, 2012 11:24 EDT

A lot less people are interested in what conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has to say after he called Georgetown University law student a “slut” and a “prostitute,” according to one industry ratings source.

Politico reported on Monday that Abritron’s key demographic ratings between March 29 and April 25 showed Limbaugh’s show had fallen 27 percent in New York City, 31 percent in Houston, 35 percent in Jacksonville and 40 percent in the Seattle-Tacoma market.

“Clearly Sandra Fluke isn’t the only one who didn’t like Rush calling her a ‘slut’ given how many viewers that comment incinerated,” a listener told Politico‘s Dylan Byers.

In late March, Limbaugh had claimed that he ratings were up by between 10 percent and 60 percent after he called Fluke a “slut” because she advocated that health insurance cover contraception for women.



End of Extended Benefits May Lower U.S. Jobless Rate

By Shobhana Chandra on May 21, 2012

The declining U.S. jobless rate may soon get another push downward as Americans lose extended unemployment benefits.

From April 7 through May 12, about 370,000 Americans in 23 states stopped getting the benefits, which provide payments for as long as 99 weeks, according to estimates from the National Employment Law Project. People in the remaining six states and the District of Columbia who still qualify may lose eligibility by September, bringing the program to an end, the report showed.

Some recipients who lose their benefits may decide to accept jobs they view as less than ideal. Others may give up looking for work and drop out of the labor force, eliminating them from the ranks of the jobless. Those outcomes may trim the unemployment rate by 0.1 percentage point to 0.2 point in the next few months, according to economists Dean Maki at Barclays and Michael Feroli at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“The unemployment rate would be the place where the effect is likely to show up most,” said Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays in New York and a former economist at the Federal Reserve. “It may put some modest downward pressure” on the jobless rate.



Worst Market Since Reagan Greets Obama Before Election

By Whitney Kisling and Inyoung Hwang

With only six months before the election, the stock market is giving President Barack Obama the worst returns since Ronald Reagan was seeking a second term.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) is up 1.3 percent since Mitt Romney’s campaign began 12 months ago, compared with average gains of 12 percent for incumbents who won re-election starting with Harry S. Truman, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Stocks are also advancing less than the 7 percent minimum enjoyed by George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, who lost their bids for a second term. The only one with a worse equity performance heading into the vote was Reagan.

Weakening equity markets after a three-year rally underscore the challenge faced by Obama, who took office during the worst recession in seven decades and has presided over 11 quarters of growth. While share returns do little to foretell presidential contests, the 8.7 percent decline in the S&P 500 since April 2 may be a sign investors are losing confidence in an accelerating recovery even as they anticipate more central bank spending to stimulate the economy.

“Fiscal policy is maxed out,” Wayne Lin, a money manager at Baltimore-based Legg Mason Inc., said in a telephone interview on May 16. His firm oversees $643.3 billion. “In past years, we actually had the budget to be able to do it. We had the economic growth that generated tax revenues to be able to support any kind of fiscal policy. There was a lot more flexibility in enacting fiscal policy in prior years.”



‘NATO 3’ Had Targeted Obama Campaign HQ, Rahm’s House, Police Stations, Prosecutors Say

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

The NATO Summit protesters charged with plotting terrorist acts in Chicago planned to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home — and firebomb police stations and squad cars to divert attention, according to sources and prosecutors.

One defendant allegedly said “the city doesn’t know what it’s in for” and “after NATO, the city will never be the same,” prosecutors alleged in court documents.

But undercover Chicago Police officers infiltrated the group of NATO Summit protesters, watching them as they allegedly made Molotov cocktails — bottles filled with flammable liquid that are used as firebombs, sources said.

“We have people watching them do it,” said one law enforcement source. The undercover operation had been underway for weeks.

Read more: http://www.suntimes.com/news/12635179-761/nato-3-had-targeted-obama-campaign-hq-rahms-house-police-stations-prosecutors-say.html

Appropriators Vote to Block Pentagon Sports Sponsorships

The U.S. military would be blocked from spending money on sports teams and sponsorships under an amendment the House Appropriations Committee added today by voice vote to the draft fiscal 2013 Defense appropriations bill.

The Defense Department will spend $80 million this year to sponsor NASCAR teams, Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat, and Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican, said in a joint statement.

That includes the U.S. Army-branded #39 car driven by Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Chevrolet, of which the National Guard is a leading sponsor. The military spent $1 billion over the last 10 years on sports sponsorship deals, according to McCollum and Kingston, including with NASCAR, professional bass fishing and ultimate fighting.

“The government borrows forty cents for every dollar it spends and this is where we’re spending it?” Kingston said in the statement. “In the face of deep cuts and troop force reductions, the military should not be spending nearly $100 million sponsoring professional sports.”


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