On Friday the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) closed and sold off four more banks, bringing the total shuttered this year to 84. The FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund paid out $358 million to enable the transactions to take place, with additional losses being borne by the failed banks’ new owners. Through 2010 the FDIC has paid out $76 billion and the total is likely to exceed $100 billion by the end of this year.
The losses resulted from the FDIC making good on the banks’ bad investments, mostly related to real estate, that went sour during the recession. Under current rules, depositors were made whole if their accounts were valued at $250,000 or less.
The banks just closed were Decatur First Bank in Decatur, Georgia; Community Capital Bank in Jonesboro, Georgia; Old Harbor Bank in Clearwater, Florida; and Community Banks of Greenwood, Colorado. The banks picking up the remains included State Bank and Fidelity Bank in Georgia, First United Bancorp in Florida, and Bank Midwest out of Kansas City, Missouri. Georgia now leads the country in failed banks during the recession with a total of 21, while Florida has had 12 banks closed so far. More than 400 banks have been closed by the FDIC since 2007, compared to an average of four bank closings per year prior to the start of the recession.
New York City's Comptroller, John Liu, long touted as a top-tier candidate to be the city's next mayor, has hit some stumbling blocks. Liu, the first Asian-American elected to citywide office, raised more than one million dollars in campaign donations in the first half of 2011, but the source of much of that political war chest is now being questioned. In an October 11 front-page story, the New York Times, which has in the past been a big booster of Liu, reports that its investigation of Liu's donors has uncovered troubling irregularities. The Times story by Raymond Hernandez and David W. Chen reports:
"Canvassing by The New York Times of nearly 100 homes and workplaces of donors listed on Mr. Liu's campaign finance reports raises questions about the source and legitimacy of some donations, as well as whether some of the donors even exist. Some two dozen irregularities were uncovered, including instances in which people listed as having given to Mr. Liu say they never gave, say a boss or other Liu supporter gave for them, or could not be found altogether." The story continues:
Two people who described attending banquets in which Mr. Liu appeared and posed for photos said that company executives who support him provided donations in the names of those in attendance.
"In addition," says the Times piece, "Mr. Liu is not complying with some basic campaign finance laws: To protect against so-called straw donors, the city requires that donor cards submitted with campaign contributions be filled out only by the person making the donation. In numerous instances in Mr. Liu's campaign, one person appears to have filled out cards for multiple donors."
California has enacted the nation’s first cap-and-trade program, designed to provide financial incentives to companies to help curb greenhouse-gas emissions. After an exhausting eight-hour meeting last Thursday with union leaders, industry representatives, and various supporters and opponents of the plan, the California Air Resources Board voted unanimously to implement the first state-administered system that would stick a price tag on carbon emissions and permit the state’s industries to trade carbon credits. The plan is an integral component of the state’s ambitious 2006 global-warming law, signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which looks to slash emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
The new air regulations will commence in 2013, and then only for the state’s largest carbon emission entities, typically electrical utility companies and large industrial plants; the program will expand in 2015 to include 85 percent of "pollution" emitters. The plan will first institute a cap on emissions, and then allow businesses that are under their carbon limit to sell their excesses to companies that have exceeded their carbon allowance. Businesses will have an initial requirement to pay 10 percent of their credits, and they will be able to purchase carbon offsets, which will comprise emission containment projects such as investments in forestry, to comply with eight percent of their annual emission obligations.
State officials expect other state and federal officials to observe the California model, hoping that similar programs — or, as they would prefer, a national program — will be employed throughout the country. "When Washington considers how to address climate change, as I think it will, California’s climate plan will serve as a role model for the national program," asserted Stanley Young, the board’s spokesman.
The White House announced that once again, the United States would be reevaluating its defense partnership with the Republic of China on Taiwan. The administration decided last month that the arms package it would be selling to Taipei would be sorely reduced; the Pentagon has chosen not to sell Taiwan 66 late-model F-16 aircraft, a deal potentially valued at over $8 billion, after years of debate over whether to supply the free Chinese island with advanced strike aircraft to upgrade its aging air force. Instead, administration and congressional officials said the new arms package will include weapons and equipment to upgrade its existing F-16 jets, worth about $4.2 billion.
The Obama administration turned down the request from both Taipei and congressional Republicans; supporters of the sale say that the new F-16s, produced by Lockheed Martin, are needed to bolster Taiwan’s defenses against communist China’s growing air power and to produce jobs for the U.S. aerospace industry (a blatant example of Military Keynesianism at play — the belief that government-manufactured and taxpayer-funded defense commodities are somehow a feasible, economically-sound, and constitutional means of creating and sustaining jobs).
Red China and the Obama Administration
Experts believe that the primary reason why the Obama administration refused to sell Taiwan the new F-16s is its desire to improve relations with communist China. Rather than viewing China’s growth as a threat to American interests, Obama stated on January 19, 2011 (at a White House press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao), “We welcome China’s rise. I absolutely believe that China's peaceful rise is good for the world, and it's good for America,” arguing that the country’s economic progress benefits the United States and opens the door to greater international stability and humanitarian progress.
A federal judge has ruled that individuals who signed a petition seeking the repeal of a 2009 Washington State law expanding homosexual partnerships have no right to keep their names private. The ruling prompted fears that radical homosexuals will follow through on promised retaliation against the individuals.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled October 17 that Protect Marriage Washington (PMW), the conservative, pro-family group that had organized the petition drive, had not demonstrated “serious and widespread threats, harassment, or reprisals against the signers of R-71, or even that such activity would be reasonably likely to occur upon the publication of their names and contact information.”
Referendum 71, which would have overturned the Washington law that gave domestic partners all the rights of married couples, was ultimately rejected by state voters by a 53 to 47 percent margin. “In the weeks after the referendum, several groups requested copies of the R-71 petition, which Protect Marriage used to place the referendum on the ballot,” reported Courthouse News. “The initiative’s conservative supporters sued Washington in 2009 to keep the names of 137,000 people who signed its petition secret, saying the release under the Washington’s Public Records Act violated their civil rights and there was a ‘reasonable probability’ that signees would be harassed.”
Even as the National Transitional Council (NTC) declared Libya “liberated” following the violent death of former strongman Col. Muammar Gadhafi, analysts were warning that civil war might continue to rage on as militia groups and armed factions struggle to seize power. And with real elections tentatively scheduled for 2013 at the earliest, the worst may be yet to come.
Western leaders have been demanding that all of the revolutionary groups unify behind the NTC. But widely divergent interests — including remaining pro-Gadhafi forces and victims of NATO bombings and rebel brutality — would seem to make that a difficult proposition, according to Libyans and outside analysts.
The Department of Homeland Security is authorizing illegal aliens to work in the United States, a Senate commitee learned October 19. According to CNSNews.com, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, got confirmation of this news in response to a question he asked Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano (photo at left).
In defending the policy, Napolitano also blurted out that it costs possibly three times as much as previously reported here and elsewhere to deport an illegal alien, and her answers to Grassley make clear that the Obama administration has unilaterally declared a major amnesty.
Questions and Answers
Grassley asked Napolitano point blank whether her agency is abetting illegals in their effort to build lives here, CNS reported.
The ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Grassley asked Napolitano: “According to the information from your department, some individuals who are given relief will obtain work authorizations. So people with no right to be in the country will be allowed to work here. Is that correct?” Napolitano said,
Though the drunk-driving illegal alien who allegedly mowed down a recent college graduate in Framingham, Mass., was indicted for murder on Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement permitted the illegal alien who witnessed the crime to escape custody.
Milford police and prosecutors are furious at ICE, the Milford Daily News reported, for permitting Luis Acosta to escape and perhaps flee to Ecuador, and the district’s Congressman has called for an investigation.
The Daily News revealed the ICE foul-up last week, which culminated with the indictment of Nicolas Guaman on three felonies in connection with the death of Matthew Denice. Guaman faces charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter while driving a motor vehicle, and motor vehicle homicide, the paper reported.
Why is Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, determined to prevent Jews from living in the new independent Palestinian state? After all, it would solve the settlement problem if Jews were permitted to become citizens of Palestine. But that would require the new state to be democratic. It would have to honor human rights and would have to permit the Jews to vote. It would have to become as secular and democratic as Turkey, where Jews have lived for centuries.
So, instead of integrating these highly productive Jewish settlements in the West Bank into a new Palestinian state, Abbas wants them all to be dismantled. But because there are over 250,000 Jews living in those settlements, Israel is not willing to dismantle them as they did the Jewish towns in Gaza.
Indeed, the Gaza experience has created intense opposition to any such further removal of Jews from anywhere in the Holy Land. The West Bank is the heartland of the biblical Jewish commonwealth, and Zionist Jews believe that they have every right to settle and live there as they did during the days of the British Mandate.
But this is the kind of impasse that Abbas probably welcomes, because it makes it impossible for him to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel, which is what Hamas and other Islamic extremists want. They want perpetual war against Israel. That is why Abbas is seeking UN sanctioned statehood before signing a peace treaty with Israel, so that the Palestinians can continue waging war against Israel while enjoying the benefits of statehood. Should the UN approve statehood for the Palestinians before there is peace with Israel, they would be making a mockery of everything the UN is supposed to stand for. They would be taking sides in a war against a member state.
Newt Gingrich emerged as the winner of the October 22 Iowa Faith and Freedom Forum, if measured by the level of audience applause. The Christian-right audience gave the thrice-married Gingrich several rounds of loud applause and an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of his address.
Gingrich — a former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives who began the presidential race with a devastating resignation by much of his campaign staff — had been judged not a viable candidate. He was even parodied several times on Saturday Night Live as a "curio from a bygone era." Yet Gingrich has gradually risen in the polls after performing well in recent debates, and has been scoring in the high single digits in national polls in recent weeks.
The national Faith and Freedom Coalition is run by former Pat Robertson functionary Ralph Reed, who served as head of Robertson's Christian Coalition. Both the Christian Coalition and the Faith and Freedom Coalition focus upon social issues such as the sanctity of marriage, abortion, and opposing the homosexual agenda.
The additional irony of the strong crowd enthusiasm for Gingrich (other than his personal life) is that the former House Speaker's record is far from the conservative crowd's well-known small government preferences. Gingrich's record has proven he's no friend of limited government, even though much of his rhetoric sounds good. As a Congressman, Gingrich voted with President Jimmy Carter to create the U.S.