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Palestinians Clash With Israeli Soldiers In Nakba Day Protests

JERUSALEM -- Dozens of Palestinians were injured Tuesday in clashes with Israeli soldiers during the annual Nakba Day demonstrations held in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip to mark the 1948 displacement of 800,000 Arabs during Israel’s founding.

Thousands of Palestinians turned out to protest in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza City and other cities to mark the nakba -- Arabic for catastrophe. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but clashes erupted between rock-throwing youths and Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint in East Jerusalem, in Hebron, and outside the Ofer prison facility near Ramallah.

Palestinian officials said more than 80 people were treated for mostly minor injuries caused by rubber bullets and tear-gas inhalation.

Despite the pockets of violence, the day passed far more calmly than last year, when 12 protesters were shot to death by Israeli and Lebanese security guards when they tried to storm across Israel’s tightly controlled northern border from Lebanon and Syria.



Cut Gaza Power Supply To Boost Israel Grid: Minister

AFP – Sun, May 13, 2012

Israel should consider cutting its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip this summer if it experiences power shortages, Israeli Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said.

Erdan, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, outlined the proposal in a letter to ministers, who were scheduled to discuss the issue in their Sunday cabinet meeting.

"If there are power shortages in Israel this summer, the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip should be halted... It represents 4.5 percent of Israeli production," the letter said.

"Electricity production will be less than demand this summer," Erdan added, in an interview with Israeli military radio on Sunday.



EU Castigates Israel Over Settlements, Palestinians

AFP – 20 hrs ago

EU foreign ministers on Monday issued a harsh critique of Israel, saying the gathering pace of settlement-building, settler extremism and ill-treatment of Palestinians threatens a two-state solution.

"The EU expresses deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," the bloc's 27 ministers said in a statement issued during talks in Brussels.

"The viability of a two-state solution must be maintained," the three-page European Union statement added.

Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said on Monday that Israel was moving ahead with plans to build around 2,000 new homes in the settlement of Gilo, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.



Common Cause Seeks End to Republicans’ Use of Filibuster

By Jonathan D. Salant - Tue May 15 04:00:01 GMT 2012

Common Cause, a Washington-based watchdog organization, is asking a federal court to overturn the Senate filibuster, which Republicans have used more since Democrats captured the chamber in 2007.

The group, in a lawsuit filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Washington, cited the Senate’s inability to muster 60 votes to clear legislation allowing children of undocumented immigrants to become legal U.S. residents if they go to college or join the U.S. armed forces, and to pass legislation requiring nonprofit groups that run political ads to disclose their donors. Both bills passed the House and received a majority of votes in the Senate.

“While the Senate can set its own rules, they can’t be unconstitutional,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar, a former Democratic U.S. representative from Pennsylvania. “This is an unconstitutional provision. A minority of senators representing a minority of the population of the nation can in fact rule with the current system.”

Requiring a supermajority of 60 votes on legislation rather than 51 votes has become more commonplace.



Homebuilder Confidence in U.S. Climbs to Five-Year High

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders jumped more than forecast in May, reaching a five-year high that signals an improving outlook for construction.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence rose to 29, the highest since May 2007, a report from the Washington-based group showed today. The gauge exceeded the highest projection in a Bloomberg News survey in which the median estimate was 26. Readings below 50 mean more respondents said conditions were poor.

“We have resumed the gradual upward trend in confidence that started at the beginning of this year,” Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders and a builder from Gainesville, Florida, said in a statement. This comes “as stabilizing prices and excellent affordability encourage more people to pursue a new-home purchase.”

Companies such as building products maker Ply Gem Holdings Inc. are benefiting as cheaper homes and mortgage rates at a record low combine to boost demand. While foreclosures remain a hurdle for the industry three years after the end of the last recession, Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke said today that there are indications the “tepid” real estate market is on the mend.



Carolina Convention Plans Going Awry for Democrats

By John McCormick and Hans Nichols - Tue May 15 04:00:04 GMT 2012

President Barack Obama’s decision in February 2011 to hold the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina looked like a bold move to reclaim a state he’d won in 2008. Today, it’s more like an awkward fit.

The state’s Democratic Party is mired in a sexual harassment scandal. Voters just approved a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, which conflicts with Obama’s view on the issue. Convention fundraising has been slow, and labor unions tapped to fill the financial gap are angry the convention will be in a city -- Charlotte -- with no unionized hotels and in a state where compulsory union membership or the payment of dues is prohibited as an employment condition.

North Carolina’s 9.7 percent unemployment rate is above the national average and one of the host city’s top employers --Bank of America (BAC) -- has announced job reductions. Obama is scheduled to accept his party’s nomination at Bank of America Stadium in September.

“It’s inconceivable that they would move the convention,” said Don Kettl, dean of the school of public policy at the University of Maryland. “But they may wish that they had placed their chips on another swing state.”



Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Signs Bill To Help Debt Collectors

Phoenix Business Journal by Mike Sunnucks, Senior Reporter
Date: Monday, May 14, 2012, 4:32pm MST

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has approved legislation making it easier for debt collectors to go after defaulting consumers and small businesses.

Brewer signed House Bill 2664 into law today. The measure allows collection agencies to use final billing statements as a basis to show amounts owed and interest rates as they seek court judgments and wage garnishments.

The bill was favored by debt collectors, which buy delinquent accounts from banks and credit card companies for pennies on the dollar, but receive only minimal information from those sources. It can be difficult and expensive for the collection companies to get additional information on the defaulting consumers and business owners.



Russia Warns Against Training Syrian Rebels in Kosovo

MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti)

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday urged international bodies operating in Kosovo to prevent the region from turning into a training ground for Syrian rebels.

A delegation from the Syrian opposition visited Kosovo in April to allegedly make a deal on exchanging experience in guerilla warfare against ruling authorities.

So far, the fractured Syrian opposition has been unable to form a steady front against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian ministry said in a statement that the talks covered not only the ways of organizing armed resistance against authorities but also the training of Syrian militants in Kosovo.



Report Says 230,000 Unemployed Losing Benefits Over Weekend

By Vicki Needham - 05/13/12 06:24 PM ET

More than 230,000 unemployed workers will lose their jobless benefits this weekend as portions of federal programs expire across several states.

All told, 409,300 long-term unemployed Americans in 27 states will have lost upward of 20 weeks of federal unemployment benefits by this past Saturday, even as the many state jobless rates remain high, according to a new analysis by the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

The latest batch of cuts affects 236,300 unemployed people in eight states — California (11%), Texas (7%) Pennsylvania (7.5%), Florida (9%), Illinois (8.8%) North Carolina (9.7%) Colorado (7.8%) and Connecticut (7.7%) — half of which have jobless rates above the 8.1 percent national average posted in April.

"A growing number of long-term unemployed workers are being left behind," said Christine Owens, executive director of the NELP.



Coalition Talks Stall, Greece Faces "Moment Of Truth"

ATHENS | Sun May 13, 2012 11:46am EDT

(Reuters) - Greek political leaders on Sunday ignored a final plea from the president to form a coalition government to avert a repeat election, pushing the debt-stricken nation closer to bankruptcy and a possible exit from the euro zone.

Leaders of the three biggest parties met at the presidential mansion for a final attempt to bridge their differences, but the talks quickly hit an impasse as they traded accusations on a deeply unpopular bailout package tied to harsh spending cuts.

Conservative leader Antonis Samaras, who finished first in last week's election, pinned the blame on the far-left SYRIZA party, which flatly rules out backing a pro-bailout coalition with Samaras's New Democracy and Socialist PASOK parties.

"They are not asking for agreement, they are asking us to be their partners in crime and we will not be their accomplices," said Alexis Tsipras, who has become an overnight sensation since leading SYRIZA to a surprise second place in the vote.


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