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The Right of the People to be Secure in their Persons, Houses, Papers, and Effects,
Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures,
Shall Not Be Violated


Friday, January 20, 2012

Little Walter

(w/ Hound Dog Taylor)
Wild About You Baby

Boom Boom Out Goes The Lights

My Babe

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France Considers Breaking Out The White Flag. Again.


Sarkozy Weighs Afghan Withdrawal After Soldier Kills 4 French Troops

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France suspended military operations as part of the American-led coalition in Afghanistan on Friday and said he was considering an early pullout of his nation’s forces after an Afghan soldier shot and killed four French soldiers on a base in eastern Afghanistan.

A Western official said Mr. Sarkozy’s threat could lay bare “real cracks in the coalition” at a time when the alliance is seeking a cohesive position to assure the Afghan government of its long-term commitment and to push the Taliban insurgents to negotiate a peace deal rather than continue fighting.

It was the second fatal attack in a month involving an Afghan soldier opening fire on French troops and came at a time when American forces are deeply concerned about increasing numbers of killings of American and other allied forces by the Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train. It also comes as many European countries with troops here are facing unprecedented economic pressures at home and adds to public questioning of the value of continued involvement in Afghanistan.

If France, the fourth-largest troop-contributing country after the United States, Britain and Germany, were to reduce its numbers more than planned it could spur other countries to follow suit, leaving the Afghans feeling less secure, said Western and Afghan officials.

President Hamid Karzai quickly expressed his condolences in a strong statement that reminded the French of their long involvement with Afghanistan and conveyed the Afghan people’s gratitude.

“Throughout history, the two countries have enjoyed a sincere relationship, which Afghan people will always cherish,” Mr. Karzai said.

The four French service members were killed and a number more wounded on Friday when a gunman wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon on them, according to an Afghan police official in Kapisa Province in eastern Afghanistan where the episode occurred and a Western official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The Afghan police official, Asadullah Hamidi, said the shooting happened in the southern part of Tagab District, an area that is viewed as dangerous and dominated by insurgent forces.

The gunman is in custody, a NATO official said.

The attack prompted Mr. Sarkozy to tell French diplomats at an annual meeting in Paris on Friday that he had ordered the suspension of training and combat operations by French forces in Afghanistan.

“If security conditions are not established clearly, then the question of an early return of the French Army will be asked,” he said. He added: “It is a difficult decision that we will have to take in the coming days.”

But, he went on, the decision was one he felt he had to make “for the French people and our soldiers.” Much of Mr. Sarkozy’s public behavior at present is perceived by analysts through the prism of presidential elections beginning in April, and he can ill afford to be depicted as anything less than robust and decisive in defending French interests.

While he has not yet announced his candidacy, the French leader is facing a tough re-election battle against a challenge from the opposition Socialists, who have already promised an early withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan by the spring of 2013.

Western officials in Kabul said they were not altogether surprised by Mr. Sarkozy’s mention of an early withdrawal. President Karzai is set to visit Paris next to meet Mr. Sarkozy and, in military circles here it was expected that the French leader would use the encounter to announce a larger troop withdrawal than many other contributor nations in the NATO alliance wanted.

The French contingent of some 3,600 soldiers is vastly outnumbered by the dominant American military presence, but its withdrawal would present a damaging psychological blow to the alliance and would be presented by the Taliban insurgents as a significant victory.

NATO is struggling to persuade major contributor nations not only to hew to their promise to remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, but also to commit to helping the country militarily after that date.

“It’s not very good in terms of alliance cohesion,” said a Western official in Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. “If your fourth largest troop contributing country decides to pack up and go home, well that shows there are real cracks in the coalition.”

The bulk of the French contingent is based in troubled eastern Afghanistan, primarily in Kapisa Province and neighboring Sarobi, a district of Kabul Province. Although the area is close to Kabul it is heavily infiltrated by insurgents, and French soldiers have faced a number of lethal attacks, including an ambush in 2008 that killed 10 members of a parachute regiment as they moved through a narrow mountain pass and another in July 2011 when five members of a parachute regiment who had just met with local village elders were attacked by a suicide bomber.

Of non-American forces contributing to the alliance, only the British and the Germans have more troops on the ground.

Like other allied forces, French troops had been scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Mr. Sarkozy said he would send his defense minister, Gérard Longuet, and the head of the armed forces, Adm. Edouard Guillaud, to Afghanistan and “until then all training operations and combat help from the French forces are suspended.”

“The French Army is at the side of its allies, but we cannot accept that a single one of our soldiers be killed or wounded by our allies,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “It is unacceptable. I will not accept it.”

The killing of the French soldiers raised the tally for a particularly bloody 24 hours for allied forces after a helicopter crashed late on Thursday, killing six more members of the international force.

The French have lost 82 soldiers including Friday’s casualties, according to icasualties.org, a Web site that tracks coalition deaths.


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Killing Jobs and Energy Independence In One Swift Blow


Obama’s Keystone Denial Prompts Canada to Look to China Sales

President Barack Obama’s decision yesterday to reject a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline may prompt Canada to turn to China for oil exports.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a telephone call yesterday, told Obama “Canada will continue to work to diversify its energy exports,” according to details provided by Harper’s office. Canadian Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver said relying less on the U.S. would help strengthen the country’s “financial security.”

The “decision by the Obama administration underlines the importance of diversifying and expanding our markets, including the growing Asian market,” Oliver told reporters in Ottawa.

Currently, 99 percent of Canada’s crude exports go to the U.S., a figure that Harper wants to reduce in his bid to make Canada a “superpower” in global energy markets.

Canada accounts for more than 90 percent of all proven reserves outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to data compiled in the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Most of Canada’s crude is produced from oil-sands deposits in the landlocked province of Alberta, where output is expected to double over the next eight years, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

“I am sure that if the oil sands production is not used in the United States, they will be used in other countries,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said in an interview before a speech at Imperial College in London today.

‘Profound Disappointment’

Harper “expressed his profound disappointment with the news,” according to the statement, which added that Obama told Harper the rejection was not based on the project’s merit and that the company is free to re-apply.

Canada this month began hearings on a proposed pipeline by Enbridge Inc. to move crude from Alberta’s oil sands to British Columbia’s coast, where it could be shipped to Asian markets.

Environmentalists and Canadian opposition lawmakers welcomed the Obama administration’s decision. Megan Leslie, a lawmaker for the opposition New Democratic Party, said the Keystone pipeline project was harmful to Canada’s energy security.

“What I’m opposed to is continuing the unchecked expansion of the oil sands,” Leslie said by telephone.

New Flashpoint

Enbridge’s pipeline may now become the new flashpoint between Harper and the opposition. Harper has said building the capacity to sell the country’s oil to Asian markets is in the national interest, and the government will review regulatory- approval rules for new energy projects so they can be done more quickly. Harper has also said he will look more closely into complaints that “foreign money” is being used to overload the regulatory process.

“We have to have processes in Canada that come to a decision in a reasonable amount of time, and processes that cannot be hijacked,” Harper said at a press conference Jan. 6 in Edmonton.

The Keystone decision is the latest of several U.S. moves that have irked Canadian policy makers. Canada objected to “Buy American” provisions in the Obama administration’s $447 billion jobs bill that was blocked by Republicans in Congress, as well as the restoration of a $5.50 fee on Canadian travelers arriving in the U.S. by plane or ship.

Approval of Keystone is a “no-brainer,” Harper said in a Sept. 21 interview with Bloomberg.

Cornerstone of Development

Yesterday’s rejection “certainly introduces new uncertainties into the economic relationship,” said David Pumphrey, deputy director of the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “This is a cornerstone of economic development for the country.”

The denial came before a Feb. 21 deadline set by Congress after Obama postponed a decision in November. TransCanada said the 1,661-mile (2,673-kilometer) project would carry 700,000 barrels of crude a day from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf coast, crossing six U.S. states and creating 20,000 jobs.

“I’m disappointed that Republicans in Congress forced this decision, but it does not change my administration’s commitment to American-made energy,” Obama said today in a statement. “We will continue to look for new ways to partner with the oil and gas industry to increase our energy security.”

Canadian policy makers said they remain optimistic TransCanada will eventually be able to proceed.

Still Supporting

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said in a press conference in Edmonton that it is still “entirely possible” the pipeline will be built and said it was good news that TransCanada planned to apply again.

Canada will continue to support TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said, adding that it is in the best interests of both Canada and the United States.

“We strongly believe that Keystone’s in the best interests of both countries,” he said. “We’ll continue to be an active supporter of the project.”


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Agency: Iran shuts down shops selling Barbie dolls
Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Police have closed down dozens of toy shops for selling Barbie dolls in Iran, part of a decades-long crackdown against "manifestations of Western culture," the semiofficial Mehr news agency reported Friday.

Barbie dolls are sold wearing swimsuits and miniskirts in a society where women must wear headscarves in public, and men and women are not allowed to swim together.

A ban on the sale of the Barbies, designed to look like young Western women, was imposed in the mid-1990s. In its latest report, Mehr quoted an unidentified police official as saying authorities confiscated the dolls from Tehran stores in a "new phase" of the campaign.

In 1996, a government-backed children's agency called Barbie a "Trojan horse," sneaking in Western influences such as makeup and revealing clothes.

Authorities started confiscating the dolls from stores in 2002, denouncing what they called the toys' un-Islamic characteristics. The campaign was eventually dropped.

Iran that year also introduced its own dolls - twins Dara and Sara, designed to promote traditional values with modest clothing and pro-family values - but those proved unable to stem the Barbie tide.

Despite bans on many Western books, movies, satellite TV channels, music, haircuts and fashion, young people maintain their interest in that culture.

Iran's state TV channels broadcast several Western and Hollywood films every week. Islamists have repeatedly tried to fight what they see as a cultural "invasion" since 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted a pro-Western monarchy.

Since then, importing Western toys has been discouraged by the regime.

In 2008, the Iranian judiciary warned against the "destructive" cultural and social consequences and "danger" of importing Barbie dolls and other Western toys. Even so, Iranian markets have been full of them. One-third of Iran's population of 75 million is under 15.


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Long War Journal:

AQAP commander says 'the Islamic Caliphate is coming'

By Bill Roggio

The al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula commander who took control of a town in central Yemen late last week has released a short videotape urging Muslims "to unite and be patient" as "the Islamic Caliphate is coming."

Tariq al Dhahab, the leader of the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula forces that seized the town of Rada'a in Baydah province last weekend, made the statement in a 54-second-long video on YouTube that was released on Jan. 18. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

"So, be patient, perseverant, and stationed," Dhahab told the "Muslim Ummah," or community. "The Islamic Caliphate is coming, with permission from Allah, and it will be established, even if we sacrifice our own skulls, money, children and homes."

Dhabab's forces seized control of Rada'a last weekend after more than 200 of his fighters stormed the city, took over government buildings and a historic fort, and freed more than 250 prisoners, including many al Qaeda fighters, from a jail. Dhahab's fighters raised the black banner of jihad over the fort and swore allegiance to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri.

Two policemen were killed during the brief assault. Some residents of Rada'a said the government put up little resistance. Others, including Dhabab's own brother, Sheikh Khalid al Dhahab, accused the Yemeni government of supporting AQAP's takeover of the town.

Baydah province is the home of Nasir al Wuhayshi, who was Osama bin Laden's personal secretary and was instrumental in founding al Qaeda's branch in the Arabian Peninsula.

On Jan. 18, tribal leaders in Rada'a and Baydah province gave AQAP 24 hours to leave the town and threatened to use force if their demands were not met. But Dhahab ignored their demands and instead said his forces would quit the town if the government frees more than 400 al Qaeda prisoners currently being held in Sanaa and imposes sharia law in Rada'a.

Tariq al Dhahab is a brother-in-law of Anwar al Awlaki, the American citizen who served as a senior cleric and operational commander for AQAP before he was killed in a US drone strike in August 2011. Dahab was recently transferred to Yemen from Syria, which had captured him while he was attempting to enter Iraq, according to Reuters. It is unclear if Yemeni authorities released him or if he escaped from a Yemeni prison.

For more information on AQAP's expansion in Yemen, see LWJ report, AQAP fighters seize control of Yemeni town, swear allegiance to Zawahiri.


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Rest In Peace

I have a week of Chess Records artists ready to post for the nightly music piece.

This is not how I planned to start it.


One of the greatest Blues/R&B artists EVER.

She was first discovered by Johnny Otis (who died yesterday) and followed him to Los Angeles to record and toured with him until she joined Chess Records.

With Chess Records she broke through and crossed over at a time when it was nearly unheard of for a Black artist, let alone a Black woman, to do so.

Her influence cannot be overstated.

Without Etta there is no Diana Ross, no Bonnie Raitt, no Janis or Janiva Magness or Beyonce or Christina or Amy Winehouse or Adele.

And they ALL know it.

Her first hit. The one that brought Johnny Otis' attention.

Roll With Me Henry

Something's Got A Hold On Me

Her great crossover hit. A staple at proms and wedding receptions. Still.

At Last

All I Could Do Was Cry

I Just Want To Make Love To You

One of her greatest hits. It has become a Blues/R&B standard.

It was originally released as a B Side.

w/ Dr John
I'd Rather Go Blind

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The Sad Irony

(Hat tip to Reliapundit for the graphic in this post)

The facts about jobs related to tourism:
Obama touts low-wage tourism jobs, nixes high-wage energy jobs

A day after President Barack Obama nixed up to 20,000 high-wage Keystone XL pipeline construction jobs, he flew down to Florida to tout his support for low-wage tourism jobs.


The 1.7 million workers in the “traveler accommodation” category earned an average wage of $27,210 in 2009, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

That’s barely half the wages earned by the estimated 98,210 workers in the “heavy and civil engineering construction” category. In 2009, they earned a mean wage of $50,730, according to the BLS.


In contrast, tourism jobs are mostly low-skill service jobs — serving dinners, cleaning bedrooms, guiding visitors....They can also be accomplished by immigrants who will accept lower wages than U.S.-born Americans....
Whoever the GOP candidate is should be sure to point out the facts about jobs related to tourism. Such jobs will not drive our economy!

We need a higher GDP to bring this economy out of its doldrums, not what Obama is lamely touting as the solution as he zooms all over the country for photo ops to promote the illusion that he's doing something for our ailing economy.

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The Supremes
Baby Love

You Can't Hurry Love

You Keep me Hanging On

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weekly Standard lumps Uighurs in same boat as Christians

The Weekly Standard's Ellen Bork wrote about Ron Paul's terrible record on China, and how he opposed resolutions in Congress protesting China's use of forced labor camps, for example. But while the article does have much to consider about just how little respect Paul has for the decent crowd in China, and much respect he seems to have for the country's commie-run government, there's a little something at the end that damages the full impact of the op-ed:
Members of Congress should consider asking President Obama to make the ongoing crackdown as well as the despairing self-immolations by Tibetans, the persecution of Uyghurs, Christians, and land rights and other activists, a central feature of First Secretary Xi’s visit. But they don’t need to bother asking Congressman Paul to join them.
Now they're right that Christians have been persecuted there to some extent, and humans rights activists even more. But the Uighurs? Doesn't Bork know that they're an Islamist group that's conducted its own jihad against China? The al Qaeda even encouraged them to commit jihad against China a few years ago. And Bork not only has to stupidly put them alongside Christians as a persecuted group in China, she even gives them first billing?

There's a very valid argument to be made about Paul's loathsome record in focusing on China's communism, but putting the Uighurs in the same boat as the Christians is making almost the same mistakes as Paul himself, and undermines the full impact of the article.
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Rest In Peace

Harlem Nocturne

The Midnight Creeper

Willie and the Hand Jive

Sittin' Here Drinkin'

Barrelhouse Blues


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Mehr News:

Details of Obama’s letter to Iran released

TEHRAN, Jan. 18 (MNA) -- A number of Iranian officials have released the details of the letter that U.S. President Barack Obama recently sent to Tehran.

The New York Times, citing U.S. government officials, wrote on January 12 that the Obama administration had sent a message to Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warning that closing the Strait of Hormuz is a “red line” that would provoke a response by the United States.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast said on January 15 that U.S. officials had sent a message on the Strait of Hormuz to the Islamic Republic through three officials, noting, “Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered a letter to Mohammad Khazaii, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassador (to the UN). The Swiss ambassador to Tehran (Livia Leu Agosti) also conveyed the message, and Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president, conveyed the message to officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well.”

Obama has called for negotiations

MP Ali Motahhari said on Wednesday, “In the letter, it has been stated that ‘closing the Strait of Hormuz is our red line’ and they have requested direct negotiations.”

“In the letter, Obama has announced readiness for negotiation and the resolution of mutual disagreements,” he added.

He went on to say that Obama uttered threats in the first part of the letter and talked about friendship and negotiation in the second part.

Obama says U.S. will not take hostile action against Iran

MP Hojjatoleslam Hossein Ebrahimi said on Wednesday, “Obama’s letter has several parts. Part of it is about this, (namely) that using international waterways is the right of all countries and all should benefit from them. And in this letter, he has described it as the United States’ red line.”

“In the letter, Obama has mentioned cooperation and negotiation based on the interests of the two countries,” Ebrahimi, who is the deputy chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told the Nasimonline news website.

“He has stated in the letter that they will not take any hostile action against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added.

Ebrahimi also said, “This is not the first time that Obama has sent a message and letter to the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has repeatedly spoken in a soft tone about the Islamic Republic of Iran, but, in practice, he has not acted accordingly.”

“Obama’s letter indicates that the United States has become afraid of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s might and has realized the point that an arrogant spirit is of no use, and therefore, he has softened his tone when speaking about the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he stated.

He added, “The important issue is that without the Islamic Republic of Iran’s permission, no country can benefit from the Persian Gulf.”

Iran responsible for maintaining security of Persian Gulf

Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaii also commented on the letter on Wednesday, saying, “Mr. Obama has written a cunning letter and intended to claim that the U.S. is responsible for maintaining the security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, while Iran itself is responsible for maintaining the security of this region.”

“We maintain the security of the region with the help of regional countries,” he said, adding, “There is no need for the presence of extra-regional forces to maintain the security of this region, and we believe that the presence of the United States and Britain mostly creates insecurity.”

If they “feel compassion” for regional countries and want to help them enhance security in the region, “I advise them to leave the region,” Rezaii stated.


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This Week On The Gathering Storm: Midnight Rider!

Listen to The Gathering Storm Radio Show, hosted by WC and Always On Watch. The show broadcasts live every Friday beginning at noon, Pacific Time, for 30 minutes.

The call-in number is 646-915-9870.

Our scheduled guest this week is Midnight Rider.

Listen to the January 20, 2012 edition of The Gathering Storm Radio Show, live or later, by CLICKING HERE.

Read more »

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Humpday Blues

B.B. King
The Thrill Is Gone

Ain't Nobody Home

Don't Answer The Door

Nobody Loves Me But My Mother

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

King Abdullah International Gardens Design in Saudi Arabia Mirrors Flight 93 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, PA

Flight 93
Can you imagine the heroes of flight 93 seeing this? The victims of jihad on flight 93 who died to the wails of allahu akbar.
King Abdullah International Gardens in Saudi Arabia Design Bears Uncanny Resemblance to the Flight 93 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, PA

Here is the Flight 93 Memorial, "Crescent of Embrace."
Go here (scroll) for more on the flight 93 memorial here.

Click on the title to read the whole thing at Atlas Shrugs.

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Smokey Robinson
The Tracks Of My tears


The Tears of a Clown

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hey, I burned through my retirement and severance and unemployment and ran the credit cards up to try and survive these last 3-1/2 years of Wreckovery. I understand the pain of the people in this story.

But not the idea things may be turning around.


Americans raid savings, putting recovery at risk

Workers pare back contributions to college funds, more borrow from retirement accounts

updated 1/17/2012 11:10:44 AM ET2012-01-17T16:10:44

More than four years after the United States fell into recession, many Americans have resorted to raiding their savings to get them through the stop-start economic recovery.

In an ominous sign for America's economic growth prospects, workers are paring back contributions to college funds and growing numbers are borrowing from their retirement accounts.

Some policymakers worry that a recent spike in credit card usage could mean that people, many of whom are struggling on incomes that have lagged inflation, are taking out new debt just to meet the costs of day-to-day living.

American households "have been spending recently in a way that did not seem in line with income growth. So somehow they've been doing that through perhaps additional credit card usage," Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said on Friday.

"If they saw future income and employment increasing strongly then that would be reasonable. But I don't see that. So I've been puzzled by this," he said.

After a few years of relative frugality, the amount of money that Americans are saving has fallen back to its lowest level since December 2007 when the recession began. The personal saving rate dipped in November to 3.5 percent, down from 5.1 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Jeff Fielkow, an executive vice president at a recycling company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, contributed less to retirement savings and significantly cut back on dining in restaurants and taking vacations in order to keep college savings on track for his two children. "We would love to save more," he said, "but we're doing the best we can."

There have been some signs of a quickening in U.S. economic growth recently after it emerged from recession in mid-2009.

Hiring was stronger than forecast in December and confidence among consumers rose to its highest level in eight months in January.

But many see a long, hard slog ahead and economic growth this year is not expected to be much more than 2.0 percent, barely up from 2011's growth pace.

The big risks include Europe's debt crisis as well as the shaky finances of many Americans, hit by a five-year decline in house prices and still high unemployment. U.S. consumers account for about two thirds of the country's economic output measured by total spending.

Retail sales rose at the weakest pace in seven months in December, according to data published last week.

Sales in 2012 are expected to grow at slower rate than last year, an industry group said on Monday. The National Retail Federation projected sales would rise 3.4 percent this year, compared with than 4.7 percent in 2011.

"When the stock market and the housing market were booming, we saw that a lot of people would take on more debt and save less. They felt the saving was being done for them," said Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Today, the saving rate is falling out of necessity. Food and energy prices have risen and folks don't have as much money to spend on the things that they would like."

Just as Americans used to borrow against the value of their homes before the property crash, now many are taking out loans from their 401(k) retirement savings plans.

Almost a third of plan participants currently have a loan outstanding, according to an upcoming survey of 150,000 holders of 401(k)s by consulting firm Aon Hewitt.

"People are at a loss, and they are struggling," said Pam Hess, director of retirement research at consulting firm Aon Hewitt.

Loans taken from retirement savings accounts jumped 20 percent last year across all demographics, according to a survey to be published in March. Among lower earners they leapt by as much as 60 percent, said Aon Hewitt's Hess. The vast majority of borrowers, she said, need the money for essential expenses like bills, car repairs and college tuition.

The non-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute's (EBRI) annual retirement confidence survey hit a new low in 2011 with 27 percent of workers saying they're "not at all confident" they'll have enough for a comfortable retirement. Almost 15 percent expect to work until at least the age of 70, up from 11 percent in 2006.

New York real estate broker Leila Yusuf had been very conscientious about saving for retirement, typically socking away $5,000 to $10,000 a year. But her income slid by 30 percent in the last two years as the housing market hit the doldrums and she stopped making contributions.

"I couldn't afford to do it after four deals didn't go through," said Yusuf, 37. "I need money to live on."

In another sign of Americans struggling to make ends meet, EBRI found that more than 20 percent of those aged 50 or older changed their medical prescriptions to save money and almost as many had skipped or postponed doctor appointments for the same reason. Almost 28 percent reported having difficulty paying their monthly bills.

College savings hit
The amount of money Americans put aside for their children's college fees is taking a hit too. Assets in the popular state-managed college savings funds known as 529s dipped more than 10 percent in the third quarter of 2011. Estimated outflows were $354 million between July and September contrasted with inflows of $927 million in the same period of 2010, according to Financial Research Corp.

Indicative of the trend, contributions to the 529 plans managed by investment management firm Vanguard dropped 1.0 percent in 2011 after climbing 17 percent from 2009 to 2010. Parents of younger children are continuing to save, according to Vanguard, "but they may be concerned about the economy and market conditions and have cut back a little."

At the same time, college students are borrowing twice as much as they did a decade ago when adjusted for inflation, according to the College Board, and Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards.

Household borrowing on cards, car loans, student loans and other installment debt jumped almost 10 percent from October to November, according to the Federal Reserve, its biggest jump in a decade.

Welcomed by some as a sign of confidence in the economic recovery, others worried it was really a reflection of desperation.

"Apparent stronger consumption at year-end was associated with falling savings rates, compensating for stagnating income growth," Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said on Jan. 11.

"I question whether this consumer spending momentum will be sustained without a pickup in income growth."

In a sign of concern among policymakers about the weak finances of many Americans, the Federal Reserve this month suggested an array of ways the U.S. government could help shore up the housing market.

House prices have fallen 33 percent from their 2006 peak, resulting in an estimated $7 trillion in household wealth losses and about 12 million homeowners are saddled with mortgages worth more than their properties.

Americans are steadily working off their overall debt levels, including their mortgages. Credit card balances, while little changed compared to a year ago, are down 18 percent from a peak in September 2008.

"It's not like it was a year or two ago when it really felt like a recession, and there was no job growth," said Scott Hoyt, a senior director of consumer economics at Moody's Analytics. "It's better than that and you can see that in the spending. But there's still no reason to go back to the free-spending


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Wreckovery Rant

I don't watch the debates because they infuriate me. Not just the moderators, but the candidates themselves.

A pet gripe is their stance on unemployment of course. You hear the idiots say that they don't think people should be paid for sitting around doing nothing, that unemployment should be tied to training.

Sure, go ahead, train me. I have no problem with that. But with 1 job for every 5 unemployed, what do you plan on doing after that?

As for sitting around doing nothing, do they think we're not looking for jobs? That's nothing? That's full time work in itself. We're not sitting here watching Oprah or The View, fools.

As for blaming it on the 99ers, that's just stupid. The 99ers are no longer collecting unemployment, so I guess they don't have to worry about them now, do they?

If these five bozos are the best the GOP can field we are in deep trouble.

They have little understanding on the unemployment situation -- which is separate from the jobs situation -- and no understanding of the unemployed.

And none of them have ever had to suffer through the degrading humiliation of living on the dole.

If they had they wouldn't be singing this tune.

And before you blame the 25-30 million un(der)employed for the debt woes of this once great nation, fix your spending problems in D.C. Fix the issues that are causing companies to not hire and take their business elsewhere.

If you fix the jobs problem, then the unemployment problem will go away of it's own.

But don't throw them under the bus and hope that problem will go away.


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Sam Cooke
What A Wonderful World This Would Be

You Send Me


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Monday, January 16, 2012

Ahem. . .


Egypt's next parliament to be led by Islamist

By Leila Fadel and Ingy Hassieb, Updated: Monday, January 16, 11:55 AM

CAIRO — Liberals and Islamists in Egypt announced a temporary agreement Monday on a power-sharing plan that would install a Muslim Brotherhood leader as speaker of the country’s newly elected parliament.

The agreement among six political parties all but guarantees that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will lead Egypt’s first elected parliament since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February, with the Islamist party expected to control as many as half the seats.

Under the power-sharing agreement, the ultraconservative Salafist Nour party and the liberal al-Wafd party would also claim top positions, with their representatives serving as deputy speakers, the parties announced during a news conference Monday at the Freedom and Justice Party’s headquarters.

With a week left until the lower house of the parliament meets, the Freedom and Justice Party said its nominee for speaker would be Mohamed Saad Katatny, the party’s secretary general.

During the announcement, the party heads said the agreement would be a temporary alliance to put their voting weight behind agreed-upon candidates for the parliament’s leadership positions.

“This is a one-day agreement for the day the parliament opens,” Mohamed Abou el-Ghar, the head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party said in an interview. “We have to cooperate so the main posts in the parliament are distributed fairly to all parties, including the people who won the elections.”

Abou el-Ghar said it was possible that his own party could still be allotted one of the deputy positions if the Wafd party chose not to go along with the accord. The Social Democratic Party is part of an alliance of liberals and leftists that is expected to take the fourth most seats after the Freedom and Justice Party, the Nour party and al-Wafd.

This week the agreed parties will begin discussions to divvy up the chairmanships of political committees in the lower house of the parliament, known as the People’s Assembly. On Monday, the body will convene for the first time.

Final results of the elections are expected this week, but party projections and early returns show that Islamists are expected to take about two-thirds of the seats, most of which will go to the political wing of the historic Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The powers of the People’s Assembly are unclear and will be laid out in a still-unwritten constitution. The People’s Assembly is supposed to choose members of a constituent assembly that will write the country’s constitution.

But Egypt’s military rulers have made clear that they would like to oversee the constitution-writing process and possibly influence the selection of the constituent assembly. Political party leaders said the ruling generals would have no influence over the selection of parliament leaders.

The head of the Freedom and Justice Party, Mohammed Morsi, said during the news conference that the short-term agreement was to guarantee a “parliament that expresses national unity.”


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Iran warns Gulf Arabs on oil


CAIRO (AP) - Iran warned Gulf Arab oil producers against boosting production to offset any potential drop in Tehran's crude exports in the event of an embargo affecting its oil sales, the latest salvo in the dispute between the West and the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.

The comments by Iran's OPEC governor, published Sunday, came as Saudi Arabia's oil minister was quoted the same day denying that his country's earlier pledges to boost output as needed to meet global demand was linked to a potential siphoning of Iranian crude from the market because of sanctions.

World oil markets have been jolted over concerns that Iran may choke off the vital Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for sanctions hampering its ability to sell its oil. Saudi Arabia and other key Gulf Arab producers have recently said they are ready to provide stable and secure supplies of oil.

Iran's official news agency IRNA said Sunday that the U.S. has relayed a message to Iran about security in the Strait of Hormuz. It gave no details, and there was no immediate comment from Washington.

The U.S. recently imposed sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and, by extension, refiners' ability to buy and pay for crude. The European Union is also weighing an embargo on Iranian oil, while Japan, one of Iran's top Asian customers, has pledged to buy less crude from the country.

Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran's OPEC governor, was quoted Sunday by the pro-reform Shargh newspaper as saying that attempts by Gulf nations to replace Iran's output with their own would make them an "accomplice in further events."

"These acts will not be considered friendly," Khatibi said, adding that if the Arab producers "apply prudence and announce that they will not participate in replacing oil, then adventurist countries will not show interest," in the embargo.

The embargo concerns are linked to Iran's nuclear program. The West maintains Iran is enriching uranium for weapons purposes while Tehran says its program is for purely peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and a close U.S. ally, had said that it was ready to raise its output to accommodate global market needs. The country is the only member of the 12-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that has significant spare capacity, currently estimated at roughly more than 2 million barrels per day.

With concerns building amid the standoff between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear program, a string of Asian and Western officials have visited Saudi Arabia over the past week. While offering assurances that it could meet a shortfall in supply through its spare capacity, Saudi officials have also been careful to say that it was an internal matter if nations chose to abide by any sanctions.

Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi appeared to try to further clarify the country's position in comments published Sunday in the daily Al-Ektisadiyah newspaper.

"We never said that Saudi Arabia is trying to compensate for Iranian oil in the case that sanctions (are enacted)," Al-Naimi was quoted as saying. "We said that we are prepared to meet the increase in global demand as a result of any circumstances."

The kingdom has a production capacity of 12.5 million barrels and is believed to be producing slightly over 9 million to 9.5 million barrels per day.

Iran's warning introduces a new layer of complication to an issue that has the potential for broad regional and global fallout.

"If the regional countries ... say no to what is harmful to the security of the region, then nothing will definitely happen," he said. But if the security of oil traffic in the Strait of Hormuz is violated, "all will be lost," he said.

"If these countries make a mistake and give the green light, this will be a historic green light," Khatibi said.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, is widely seen as the main counterweight to Iran in the region. Any attempt by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a sixth of the world's oil flows, would also affect the export abilities of the major Gulf producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.

While momentum appears to be building for the sanctions by the West, China, another major buyer of Iranian oil, has come out against the measures.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for meeting with officials in which the two countries "pledged to work together to further expand all-around exchanges and cooperation," according to China's Xinhua news agency

Wen said the two sides "should expand trade of crude oil and natural gas and energy-related cooperation as to deepen their energy partnership," Xinhua reported.

During the visit, Saudi state-owned oil giant Aramco and Chinese refiner Sinopec finalized an agreement to develop a 400,000 barrel per day joint venture refinery in the Red Sea city of Yanbu. The deal is just one between China and Gulf producers as the Asian powerhouse reaches out across the world to secure energy supplies for its booming economy.


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Pro-Sharia Textbooks In American Schools

Please read THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION at Creeping Sharia.

As expected by those of us who follow the Islamification of our education system and the ongoing whitewash of Islam, Susan Douglass, American convert to Islam and married to a Wahhabist, figures prominently in the lies being spread.

Once young minds are imprinted by such taqiyya, it is inordinately difficult to undo the damage.

Also as expected, Susan Douglass has a past association with the Islamic Saudi Academy.

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The Crystals
Then He Kissed Me

Da Doo Ron Ron

He's A Rebel

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Sunday, January 15, 2012


Iran Warns Arabs Not to Replace Embargoed Oil

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — An Iranian pro-reform newspaper says the country's OPEC governor has warned the country's Arab neighbors that Tehran will view any increase in crude production to counterbalance a potential embargo on Iranian oil as an unfriendly act.

A Sunday report by Shargh daily quotes Mohammad Ali Khatibi as saying that Arab nations will be an "accomplice in the consequences," if they raise output to offset any potential loss of Iranian crude exports due to an embargo.

New U.S. sanctions against Iran approved last month target the country's central bank and, by extension, its ability to sell petroleum abroad. The U.S. has delayed implementing the sanctions for at least six months. The EU is also contemplating an embargo.


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U.S. Warns Israel on Strike

Officials Lobby Against Attack on Iran as Military Leaders Bolster Defenses

WASHINGTON—U.S. defense leaders are increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing to take military action against Iran, over U.S. objections, and have stepped up contingency planning to safeguard U.S. facilities in the region in case of a conflict.

President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other top officials have delivered a string of private messages to Israeli leaders warning about the dire consequences of a strike. The U.S. wants Israel to give more time for the effects of sanctions and other measures intended to force Iran to abandon its perceived efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Stepping up the pressure, Mr. Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will meet with Israeli military officials in Tel Aviv next week.

The high-stakes planning and diplomacy comes as U.S. officials warn Tehran, including through what administration officials described Friday as direct messages to Iran's leaders, against provocative actions.

Tehran has warned that it could retaliate to tightened sanctions by blocking oil trade through the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to punish the perpetrators of the assassination—blamed by Iran on the U.S. and Israel—of an Iranian scientist involved in the nuclear program.

The U.S. denied the charge and condemned the attack. Israel hasn't commented.

The U.S. and Iran, however, have taken steps in recent days apparently designed to ease tensions. Iran has agreed to host a delegation of United Nations nuclear inspectors this month. The U.S., meanwhile, has twice this month rescued Iranian sailors in the region's seas.

Covert efforts by Israel's intelligence service to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons have been credited with slowing the program without the high risk of military conflict that could be sparked by an airstrike. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful uses.

But Israel has declined to rule out a strike, as has the U.S.

"It is the policy of the Israeli government, and the Obama administration, that all options remain on the table. And it is crucial that the ayatollahs in Tehran take this policy seriously," said Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S.

Mr. Netanyahu said in a recent interview that Iran has begun to "wobble," a signal some U.S. officials believe suggests he is willing to follow the current U.S. strategy, which seeks to avoid a military confrontation with Iran.

"Recent comments by the Israelis show they understand how tough the sanctions we've put in place are and are giving them time to work," said a senior Obama administration official.

The U.S. military is preparing for a number of possible responses to an Israeli strike, including assaults by pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. believes its embassy and other diplomatic outposts in Iraq are more vulnerable following the withdrawal of U.S. forces last month. Up to 15,000 U.S. diplomats, federal employees and contractors are expected to remain in Iraq.

In large measure to deter Iran, the U.S. has 15,000 troops in Kuwait, and has moved a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf area.

It has also been pre-positioning aircraft and other military equipment, officials say. Arms transfers to key allies in the Gulf, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have been fast-tracked as a further deterrent, officials say.

Israeli officials said Mr. Netanyahu's government continues to closely coordinate with the U.S. in responding to the Iranian threat. "Israel believes that heightened sanctions combined with a credible military threat may dissuade the Iranian regime from developing nuclear capabilities," Mr. Oren said.

Mr. Panetta and other top officials have privately sought assurances from Israeli leaders in recent weeks that they won't take military action against Iran. But the Israeli response has been noncommittal, U.S. officials said.

U.S. officials briefed on the military's planning said concern has mounted over the past two years that Israel may strike Iran. But rising tensions with Iran and recent changes at Iranian nuclear sites have ratcheted up the level of U.S. alarm.

"Our concern is heightened," a senior U.S. military official said of the probability of an Israeli strike over U.S. objections.

Tehran crossed at least one of Israel's "red lines" earlier this month when it announced it had begun enriching uranium at the Fordow underground nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom.

The planned closing of Israel's nuclear plant near Dimona this month, which was reported in Israeli media, sounded alarms in Washington, where officials feared it meant Israel was repositioning its own nuclear assets to safeguard them against a potential Iranian counterstrike.

Despite the close relationship between the U.S. and Israel, U.S. officials have consistently puzzled over Israeli intentions. "It's hard to know what's bluster and what's not with the Israelis," said a former U.S. official.

Inside the Israeli security establishment, a sort of good cop, bad cop routine, in which Israeli officials rattle sabers amid a U.S. scramble to restrain them, has assumed its own name: "Hold Me Back."

Some American intelligence officials complain that Israel represents a blind spot in U.S. intelligence, which devotes little resources to Israel. Some officials have long argued that, given the potential for Israel to drag the U.S. into potentially explosive situations, the U.S. should devote more resources to divining Israel's true intentions.

—Charles Levinson and Siobhan Gorman contributed to this article.


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The West Throws Israel Under The Bus, Again

Sure, it may or may not be true. It probably is. But do they really need to add fuel to the fire?

Jerusalem Post:

'Western intelligence: Israel behind Iran bombs'


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I Report, You Decide

with thanks to the lecherous old guy who tipped me off to this

Mr. Conservative:

The 10 Hottest Conservative Women of 2012

Whether they would prefer to be recognized as beautiful Republican women or hot Conservative women is a mystery to us. We are simply reporting on their attractiveness.

Honorable Mention: Sarah Palin

Honorable Mention: Kimberly Guilfoyle - Fox News Host

Honorable Mention: Margaret Hoover

10. Michelle Malkin - Blogger, Hot Air, Pajamas Media

9. Ann Coulter - Blogger, Author, and Columnist

  • 8. Laura Ingraham - Radio Host, Author, and Fox News Contributor,

    7. Dana Perino - Bush Administration Press Secretary

6. Andrea Tantaros - Fox News Contributor

5. Dana Loesch - Tea Party Activist & Blogger

4. Tina Korbe - Hot Air Blogger

3. S.E. Cupp - Townhall Magazine Columnist

2. Megyn Kelly - Fox News T.V. Show Host

1. Carrie Prejean - Miss California 2009, Miss USA 2009 Runner-Up


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The Temptations
Just My Imagination

My Girl

Ain't Too Proud To Beg

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