Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected health insurance mandates that represent the cornerstone of “ObamaCare,” with two thirds of the electorate voting in favor of a state constitutional amendment prohibiting mandatory participation in any health-care schemes. The ballot initiative was driven forward by a broad coalition including Tea Party groups, conservative activists, and others.
More than 100,000 Britons have eagerly signed an e-petition on the government’s website that says immigration to the sceptr’d isle must stop before the population reaches 70 million. And those 100,000, London's Daily Mail reported, signed the petition in less than a week.
With yields on Italy’s 10-year government debt rising sharply higher and beyond the seven-percent ceiling deemed unsustainable, Italy is running out of options in finding buyers for its debt. It is also running out of options as a sovereign nation. Jan Randolph, head of sovereign debt risk at IHS Global Insight, said, “Italy will not be out of the heat of bond markets until a solid and stable government actually implements austerity and undertakes reforms with strong credible leadership.” That may be asking the impossible.
As with the constitutional struggle that was stirred up by the passage of ObamaCare, the President’s latest pet proposal is brightening the battle lines between friends of federal power and those who advocate the protection of the sovereignty of states. The American Jobs Act contains several key provisions that apparently push the boundary between state and federal power back, expanding Washington’s sphere of authority.
The November 9 Republican presidential debate in Detroit highlighted the utter economic cluelessness of the overwhelming majority of CNBC hosts and another Rick Perry debate mental lapse. CNBC host Maria Bartiromo began the debate by claiming, "We will be joined by an all-star lineup of the smartest people on CNBC." But the debate only proved again why CNBC is the most economically ignorant "financial network." The bad predictions by CNBC hosts during the housing and financial bubble led comedian Jon Stewart to quip on Comedy Central's The Daily Show in 2009, "If I'd only followed CNBC's advice, I'd have a million dollars today... provided I started with 100 million dollars." CNBC hosts and guests routinely mocked and laughed at sober analysts of the housing bubble, such as EuroPacific Capital's Peter Schiff. Schiff's fans famously put together YouTube videos of analysts mocking Schiff entitled "Peter Schiff was Right," and were able to put together a CNBC-only edition of bad economic advice being given against Schiff's sober analysis during the economic bubble.
Only days after Freddie Mac sought a $6-billion cash lifeline from the Treasury Department, Fannie Mae is now chasing a $7.8-billion check in federal aid. Attributing its steep $5.1-billion third-quarter deficit to losses on derivatives and the persistent failings of the housing market, the government-controlled firm is furthering its heedless course to fiscal Armageddon — while draining the bank accounts of American taxpayers all along the way. Fannie Mae and its cohort Freddie Mac were seized by the federal government during the financial crisis as company executives pleaded that severe losses on subprime mortgages were foreboding their insolvency. Considering their vast presence in housing finance, owning or guaranteeing roughly half of all outstanding mortgages (including other federal agencies, they have backed about 90 percent of new mortgages over the past year), the government has pledged an endless stream of funds to the two government-sponsored enterprises through the end of 2012, which has left taxpayers on the hook for a combined total of $169 billion. The general functions of Fannie and Freddie are to purchase home loans from banks and lenders, package the loans with bonds — while guaranteeing them against default — and sell them to investors inside and outside of the United States. But between 2005 and 2008, Fannie and Freddie carelessly purchased a heap of bad mortgages, which nearly buried the two companies into foreclosure themselves.
While the global powers are speculating over the possibility of an Israeli military strike against Iran, many analysts are saying that such an endeavor would steeply raise the price of oil. As a preemptive attack by Israel — on its own — seems increasingly more likely, oil has already increased $1.17 a barrel to $115.73, the highest price in the last two months. An attack on Iran would likely increase the cost of oil even more dramatically, however. In 2006, when Israel and the United States began to take issue with Iran’s nuclear program, Iran responded by dispatching its Revolutionary Guards to deploy mines in the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-third of the world’s oil passes.
As speculation continues over possibilities of a unilateral attack by Israel on Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration is sending a clear signal that it is prepared to work with the victorious factions arising through the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring — including self-avowed “Islamists.” In the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “what parties call themselves is less important to us than what they actually do.” According to a story from the Associated Press, the Obama administration is now openly embracing the Islamist shift which is taking place as a result of the past year’s series of revolutions that have swept through a series of Islam-dominated countries. Speaking to the National Democratic Institute, Clinton made it clear that a profound shift is taking place in American foreign policy. In the words of the AP story: Clinton offered a forthright embrace of the democratic changes enveloping North Africa and the Middle East at a time when the euphoria of the successful revolutions from Egypt to Libya is giving way to the hard and unprecedented work of creating stable democracies. After decades of partnering dictators throughout the region, her message was that the U.S. would approach the new political landscape with an open mind and the understanding that long-term support for democracy trumps any short-term advantages through alliances with authoritarian regimes.
The downward spiral of the Greek economy — and now likely that of Italy — has led to calls for the European Union to step in and prevent a total collapse. Portugal, Ireland, and Spain — the other three of the so-called PIIGS EU member-states — are enduring their own woes, such as downgrades of sovereign debt and corresponding jumps in the interest rates on government bonds. The cumulative effect — particularly if Italy does suffer a crisis serious enough to reduce its national credit rating to junk-bond status — will ripple throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. Analysts have noted that continental Europeans would do well to copy the example of tiny Iceland, in how it weathered a financial crisis three years ago which stunned the placid island nation. In October 2008, its binge of bank speculation had reached a point at which the assets of the three largest Icelandic banks — Kaupthing Bank, Landsbanki, and Glitnir Bank — were 11 times greater than the entire $14 billion GDP of the nation. All three big banks defaulted on $62 billion of foreign debt, and then went belly up, not bailed out by Icelanders. Today the country's economists view that bankruptcy as a blessing in disguise. Icelandic bank analyst Jon Bjarki Bentsson put it this way: The lesson that could be learned from Iceland's way of handling its crisis is that it is important to shield taxpayers and government finances from bearing the cost of a financial crisis to the extent possible. Even if our way of dealing with the crisis was not by choice but due to the inability of the government to support the banks back in 2008 due to their size relative to the economy, this has turned out relatively well for us.
Mississippi voters have rejected a proposed amendment to their state constitution that would have defined life as beginning at conception. While one major survey of voters taken just days before the vote found Initiative Measure 26 leading by a razor-thin 45-44 percent, LifeNews.com, a pro-life news site, reported late on November 8th that with 1,559 of the state’s 1,876 precincts counted, the amendment had failed by a lopsided 58 to 42 percentage. The personhood amendment, which is being heavily promoted in several states by a national group called Personhood USA, would define unborn children as persons under the law beginning at conception, a qualification that the amendment’s champions argue would effectively ban all abortions. But LifeNews pointed out that top pro-life attorneys and organizations predicted that the amendment would be shot down in court, and even if the amendment survived a legal challenge, it would most likely fail to put a stop to abortions. LifeNews noted that opposition from such groups as National Right to Life was based on the argument that the amendment “would not ban abortions and would perhaps give a pro-abortion dominated Supreme Court or lower courts a chance to reaffirm the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions in 1973.”