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Monthly Archives: January 2012

NFL: Kim Kardashian Wants Some “Tebow Time” & Gets Rejected!

In a development lending sudden credence to theories that our world will end in 2012, Tim Tebow is being hunted by a Kardashian sister.

“Kim (Kardashian) has a big crush on Tim,” a friend told The National Enquirer. “She says he’s not only very handsome but seems like a guy with really strong values.”

“Tim’s been made aware of Kim’s crush, and although flattered, he’s not interested,” a source told The Enquirer. “He’s an avowed virgin who’s saving himself for marriage and is looking for a woman with similar values, not someone with two failed marriages and a sex tape in her past.”

So, with one swift hammer drop, the TimKim era is in the books.


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Will Facebook deliver an IPO surprise?

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg turns up at business conventions in a hoodie. “Cocky” is the word used to describe him most often, after “billionaire.” He was Time’s person of the year at 26.

So when he takes Facebook public, why would he follow the Wall Street rules?

The company is expected to file as early as Wednesday to sell stock on the open market in what will be the most talked-about initial public offering since Google in 2004, maybe since the go-go 1990s. Read More…

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Consumer Confidence Unexpectedly Declines

By Kathleen Madigan

U.S. consumer confidence in January gave back some of the huge gains posted in the previous two months, according to a report released Tuesday. Views on labor markets darkened.

The Conference Board, a private research group, said its index of consumer confidence retreated to 61.1 this month from a revised 64.8 in December, first reported as 64.5. The January index was far less than the 68.0 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

The fallback was concentrated in consumers’ view of the current economy. The present situation index, a gauge of consumers’ assessment of current economic conditions, dropped to 38.4 in January from a revised 46.5, originally reported as 46.7.

Consumer expectations for economic activity over the next six months slipped only slightly, to 76.2 in January from a revised 77.0, first reported as 76.4.

“Regarding the short-term outlook, consumers are more upbeat about employment, but less optimistic about business conditions and their income prospects. Recent increases in gasoline prices may have consumers feeling a little less confident this month,” said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

Perceptions about the job markets worsened this month. The survey showed 43.5% think jobs are “hard to get” up from 41.6% saying that in December, while only 6.1% think jobs are “plentiful” down from 6.6% in December.

Read the rest here.

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Will The iPhone 5 Replace Your Credit Cards?

“We’re rapidly moving to a world beyond plastic,” says Ed McLaughlin. “In many ways, plastic is just convenient packaging.”

McLaughlin heads up emerging payments at MasterCard, and he’s tasked with thinking big on the future of transaction technology. His group has dreamed up loads of creative ways to accept payments, from hacking an Xbox Kinect to pay-by-hand motion, to implanting NFC tech in ultrabooks, to scanning irises to prevent credit card fraud. But while many may find the wild future of post-plastic payments interesting, most consumers have just one question which they desperately want answered: When, oh when, can I start to pay via smartphone? Read More..

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Take Your Talents to South Beach! Miami Heat Hiring

H/T @darrenrovell


New Media Coordinator

Miami HEAT (Miami, Florida)

January 31, 2012
Miami, FL 33132
The Miami HEAT is seeking to hire a New Media Coordinator who has worked on highly successful social media campaigns in the past. This is a full time position dedicated to the promotion of The Miami HEAT via Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the social media universe. The ideal candidate will have experience representing a brands social media presence, have great writing skills, and a vast knowledge of basketball.

Post content on Miami HEAT and AmericanAirlines Arena social networks
Generate new and different content specific to our social media followers
Develop targeted social media campaigns and execute using various marketing platforms
Cover select Miami HEAT and AmericanAirlines Arena events
Monitor and protect brand across all social platforms
Monitor marketing and new media trends
Test new and alternative ways to leverage social media
Innovate new ways to present The HEAT Brand to a worldwide audience
Required Skills/Experience:
Bachelors Degree preferred
Two to five years of experience working with social media, social marketing, advertising and/or new media brands
Passion and knowledge of social media communication fundamentals
Demonstrated experience working with Facebook and Twitter
Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to move projects and communicate ideas in a busy organization
Desire to work in a fast-paced environment, with the ability to work non-traditional hours when needed
Ability to think strategically in a fast-paced environment while prioritizing to meet deadlines
Self starter with strong organization skills; ability to seek out, identify and take advantage of opportunities with minimal supervision
Explicit attention to detail; creativity and resourcefulness
Extensive knowledge on the sport of basketball, including terminology and rules
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and CSS skills preferred

Apply by

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Survivor Bias and Too-Big-To-Fail Tyranny

Author: London Banker

It’s time to write again about insolvency, as the MF Global failure and the Greek debacle raise new troubling concerns.

As I wrote in Ring Fences and Rustlers before Lehman failed in 2008:

The key to having a happy insolvency, if such a thing exists, lies in ensuring that when a globalised bank goes bust, all the best assets are inside your borders and subject to seizure by [your banks or] your liquidators on behalf of your creditors.

If one were cynical, and one believed that Lehman was going to be allowed to fail pour encouragement les autres one might wonder if Lehman was quietly bidden – or even explicitly ordered – to sell off its foreign holdings and repatriate the proceeds to asset classes within the US ring fence. This would ensure that US creditors of Lehman received a satisfactory recovery at the expense of foreign creditors. It would also contribute to a nice pre-election illusion of a “flight to quality” as US dollar and assets strengthened on the direction of flow.

If one were really cynical, one might even think that a wily bank supervisor might arrange to ensure 100 percent recovery for its creditors with a bit of creative misappropriation thrown in the mix. Broker dealers normally hold securities and other assets in nominee name on behalf of their investor clients. Under modern market regulation, these nominee assets are supposed to be held separately from a firm’s own assets so that they can be protected in an insolvency and restored to the clients with minimal loss and inconvenience. Liberalisations and financial innovations have undermined the segregation principle by promoting much more intensive use of client assets for leverage (prime brokerage and margin lending) and alternative income streams (securities lending). As a result, it is often very difficult to discern in a failed broker who has the better claim to assets which were held to a client account but reused for finance and/or trading purposes. The main source of evidence is the books of the failed broker.

On the wholesale side, margin and collateralisation in connection with derivatives and securities finance arrangements mean that creditors under these arrangements should have good delivery and secure legal claims to assets provided under market standard agreements. As a result, preferred wholesale creditors could have been streamed the choicest assets under arrangements that will look above suspicion on review as being consistent with market best practice.

The official report of the court appointed examiner confirmed my worst suspicions. We now know that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the SEC co-located staff inside Lehman from March 2008 to oversee the global repatriation of assets and cash in the run up to the insolvency in September. The Fed kept Lehman on life support during this period with more than $20 billion of liquidity which it paid back to itself from Lehman cash on the day Lehman filed for liquidation. In the meanwhile, from March 2008, Lehman looted its affiliates and client accounts worldwide by using prime broker and securities lending mandates to lend assets to the US affiliate which were sold (hence the sharp fall in Eastern Europe and Asian markets and growing volatility eleswhere from March 2008) and the proceeds streamed to US creditors as margin payments on derivatives and other obligations. The official receiver elected not to challenge the cash transfer to the Federal Reserve or any of the transfers of cash or securities made to major Lehman counterparties and creditors.

Those following the MF Global failure have noted a strikingly similar pattern of conduct by JP Morgan in advance of failure as occurred with Lehman, although without obvious official mandate. Yves at Naked Capital has been covering the parallels admirably. Carrick Mollenkamp, Lauren Tara LaCapra and Matthew Goldstein at Reuters have provided a very substantive story of how JP Morgan used its superior knowledge of MF Global’s trading and credit position to enrich itself at the expense of MF Global and its clients before precipitating the MF Global failure.

I am concerned that MF Global demonstrates that the too-big-to-bail banks have found a new and almost riskless way to make outsize profits. Because derivatives, repo and liquidity are so very highly concentrated now, and leverage is at pre-crisis levels again, these few players can rig the markets and liquidity to choose when and how their clients fail. Their top down view of clients’ trading and custody portfolios and cash positions and flows puts them in a position to exercise tyranny. They can game their clients, taking advantage of superior information, credit and liquidity to ramp or crash targeted markets as needed to precipitate a crisis. They can demand the choicest assets as collateral, setting very high over-collateralisation thresholds, and then exercise during post-failure turmoil to retain everything they hold at rock-bottom prices.

In today’s low volume markets, a crash or squeeze is even cheaper and less risky than ever before. Instead of working for their clients’ success, an unscrupulous clearing bank – or several operating in collusion – can profit on engineering market instability or turmoil.

If one were a conspiracy theorist, one might suspect that such games were being played now in global markets. Perhaps gold is being used as collateral for margin and cash liquidity, sold by counterparties to bring the price lower, leading to margin calls for even more. A crisis arising from a major default (Greece, Portugal, a huge bank) would force the price lower still, when the collateral would be exercised on default. Following on, the price might rocket again to enable the conspirators to seize outsize profits. Just a scenario, mind you! (Although, I note that Lehman’s counterparties reported record profits through much of 2009.)

What is left of the global markets becomes a game of engineered survivor bias. Only those operating outside the law and with unlimited regulatory forbearance can win while the rest of us lose. As I noted in 2008, after Lehman failed, in Financial Eugenics, “It’s not your survival they’re engineering.”

I don’t say absolutely that what I describe is actually happening. But it may be. Certainly market conditions are ripe for it, and MF Global reinforces the pattern.

Read the rest here.

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With Indiana ‘Right to Work’ Vote, a GOP Thumb in the Eye to Unions

The Indiana House approved a ‘right to work’ bill late Tuesday, taking the state a giant step closer to ruling out mandatory dues for workers at union workplaces. Indiana would be the first ‘right to work’ state in the upper Midwest.

By Mark Guarino, Staff writer

Indiana is poised to become the first state in the upper Midwest to follow the lead of Southern “right to work” states, taking a big step Tuesday to bar unions from requiring nonunion workers to pay membership dues for representation in bargaining.

The Republican-led Indiana House approved the controversial measure, 55 to 44, late Tuesday, after almost a year of dramatic standoffs between the political parties. The state Senate has already passed an identical bill, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) is expected to sign it.

State GOP leaders say the so-called right-to-work legislation is essential to turn around Indiana’s struggling economy and to make the state a more desirable destination for businesses. “We are one stop closer to bringing more jobs to Hoosiers,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, in a statement.

Democrats framed the bill’s passage as a political maneuver by Republicans to weaken union strength in the state.

“The only places where today’s events will be cheered is in the boardrooms of big businesses and corporations across this state,” said the top House Democrat, Patrick Bauer, in a statement Tuesday. “The House Republicans just helped increase the profit margins for these companies at the expense of their workers.”

Union dues have long been a target of Republican lawmakers, who say those dues are often used to further a Democratic agenda and to elect Democrats to office. The right-to-work legislation hits unions right in their pocketbooks, reducing their ability to wield clout in elections and during negotiations over labor contracts.

Once the bill becomes law, Indiana will be the 23rd right-to-work state – and the first in 10 years to take this path. Right-to-work laws are in effect mostly in the South and the West, where unions are least active and where “anti-union ideology is predominant,” says law professor Ann Hodges at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Attacking union coffers traditionally benefits Republicans, Ms. Hodges says, because of the ongoing political ties between unions and the Democratic Party.

“Reducing unions’ resources reduces their ability to provide political support and influence public policy” introduced by Democrats, she says.

Unions already have precarious standing in Indiana. Union membership there has dwindled during the past 20 years, dropping 42 percent between 1990 and 2010. It fell below 300,000 in 2010, resulting in a state workforce that is 10.9 percent union, lower than the national average of 11.9 percent.

With union membership already in free-fall, the GOP victory Tuesday is largely “symbolic,” says Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “It just shows unions have declining political power.”

Unions might have been wiser to spend less energy in Indiana and to have redirected their efforts and resources to states such as Wisconsin or Michigan, where unions are stronger and have more political clout, he says.

It’s unlikely that right-to-work laws will now cascade through the rest of the Midwest, says Mr. Chaison. But events in Indiana may result in “right to work” becoming a theme in the 2012 presidential race, endorsed by GOP hopefuls Newt Gringrich, a former US House speaker, and Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor.

Read the rest here.

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DEA Inquiries into Medical Marijuana Industry Include Legislators

by MICHAEL MOORE of the Missoulian

Diane Sands is used to having her name taken in vain.

That’s just part of being a liberal from Missoula in the Montana Legislature.

But her name surfaced recently in a way that offended and troubled her at a profound level.

A possible witness in a federal drug investigation was asked whether Sands might be part of a conspiracy to sell medical marijuana. The questions came from Drug Enforcement Administration agents from Billings who were investigating medical marijuana businesses, and Sands learned about the inquiry from the witness’ attorney.

“So now, if you’re a state legislator who has been working on medical marijuana laws, you are somehow part of a conspiracy,” said Sands, who represents House District 95 in Missoula and works as development director for the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. “It’s ridiculous, of course, but it’s also threatening to think that the federal government is willing to use its influence and try to chill discussion about this subject.”

Sands isn’t the only one with concerns. At least one other legislator declined comment regarding DEA questions about the legislator’s duties out of concern over “additional harassment.”

And the American Civil Liberties Union in Montana, which is itself full of attorneys, spoke with an outside attorney in regards to its advocacy work regarding marijuana.

“When you hear this sort of thing, there’s a part of you that just gets irritated, but there’s a part of you that knows you have to, as an organization, make sure you’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s,” said the ACLU’s executive director, Scott Crichton.

Sands and the ACLU aren’t actually worried about criminal charges. They’ve done nothing wrong other than advocate a point of view counter to the opinion held by federal law enforcement.

But both have played high-profile roles in the discussion over medical marijuana in Montana, and the ACLU has been vocal for years in its support for the legalization of marijuana. And they find abhorrent the idea that mere advocacy might be questioned.

“It’s chilling, and it dredges up darker days from the ’50s and ’60s,” said Crichton.

Sands is more blunt: “Can you say McCarthy? This sounds like stuff from the House Un-American Activities Committee and Joe McCarthy. So once you talk about medical marijuana in reasonable terms, you’re on some sort of list of possible conspirators.”

Read the rest here.

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Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (November 2011)

Via Ritholtz

Through November 2011, the S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices declined 1.3`% for both the 10- and 20-City Composites in November over October. For a second consecutive month, 19 of the 20 cities covered by the indices also saw home prices decrease.

Read the rest here.

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By Ted Rall

Tax Fairness Won’t Reduce Inequality

Reacting to and attempting to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street movement, President Obama used his 2012 State of the Union address to discuss what he now calls “the defining issue of our time”–the growing gap between rich and poor.

“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by,” Obama said. “Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

No doubt, the long-term trend toward income inequality is a major flaw of the capitalist system. From 1980 to 2005 more than 80 percent in the gain in Americans’ incomes went to the top one percent. This staggering disparity between the haves and have-nots has created a permanent underclass of underemployed, undereducated and alienated people who often turn to crime for survival and social status. Aggregation of wealth into fewer hands has shrunk the size of the U.S. market for consumer goods, prolonging and deepening the depression.

How can we make the system fairer?

Liberals are calling for a more progressive income tax: i.e., raise taxes on the rich. Obama says he’d like to slap a minimum federal income tax of 30 percent on individuals earning more than $1 million a year.

Soaking the rich would obviously be fair. GOP frontrunner/corporate layoff sleazebag Mitt Romney earned $59,500 a day in 2010–and paid half the effective tax rate (13.9 percent) than of a family of four earning $59,500 a year.

Fair, sure. But would it work? Would increasing taxes on the wealthy do much to close the gap between rich and poor–to level the economic playing field?

Probably not.

From FDR through Jimmy Carter it was an article of faith among liberals that higher taxes on the rich would result in lower taxes on the poor and working class. This was because the Republican Party consistently pushed for a balanced budget. Tax income was tied to expenditures, which were more or less fixed–and thus a zero-sum game.

That period from 1933 to 1980 was also the era of the New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society social and anti-poverty programs, such as Social Security, the G.I. Bill, college grants and welfare. These government handouts helped mitigate hard times, gave life-changing educational opportunities that allowed class mobility, closing the gap between despair and hope for tens of millions of Americans. As the list of social programs grew, so did the tax rate–mostly on the rich. The practical effect was to redistribute income from top to bottom.

Democrats think it still works that way. It doesn’t.

The political landscape has shifted dramatically under Reagan, Clinton and the two Bushes. Budget cuts slashed spending on student financial aid, food stamps, Medicaid, school lunch programs, veterans hospitals, aid to single mothers. The social safety net is shredded. Most federal tax dollars flow directly into the Pentagon and defense contractors such as Halliburton.

As the economy continues to tank, there’s only category to cut: social programs. “Eugene Steuerle worked on tax and budget issues in the Reagan Treasury Department and is now with the Urban Institute,” NPR reported a year ago. “He says one reason no one talks about preserving the social safety net today is that lawmakers have given themselves little choice but to cut it. They’ve taken taxes and entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare, off the budget-cutting table, so there’s not much left.”

Meanwhile, effective tax rates on the wealthy have been greatly reduced. Which isn’t fair–but not in the way you might think.

Taxes on middle-class families are at their lowest level in 50 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal thinktank.

What’s going on?

On the revenue side of the budget equation, the poor and middle-class have received tiny tax cuts. The rich and super rich have gotten huge tax cuts. Everyone is paying less.

On the expense side, social programs have been pretty much destroyed. If you grow up poor there’s no way to attend college without going into debt. If you lose your job you’ll get 99 weeks of tiny, taxable (thanks to Reagan) unemployment checks before burning through your savings and winding up on the street.

Military spending, on the other hand, has soared, accounting for 54 percent of federal spending.

In short, we’re running up massive deficits in order to finance wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and so on, and so rich job-killers can pay the lowest tax rates in the developed world.

I’m all for higher taxes on the rich. I’m for abolishing the right to be wealthy.

But liberals who think progressive taxation will mitigate or reverse income inequality are trapped in the 1960s, fighting the last (budget) war in a reality that no longer exists. The U.S. government’s top priority is invading Muslim countries and bombing their citizens. Without big social programs, invading Muslim countries and bombing their citizens is exactly where every extra taxdollar collected from the likes of Mitt Romney would go.

The only way progressive taxation can address income inequality is if higher taxes on the rich are coupled with an array of new anti-poverty and other social programs designed to put money and new job skills directly into the pockets of the 99 percent of Americans who have seen no improvement in their lives since 1980.

You have to rebuild the safety net. Otherwise higher taxes will swirl down the Pentagon’s $800 toilets.

If you’re serious about inequality, income redistribution through the tax system is only a start. Whether through stronger unions or worker advocacy through federal agencies, government must require higher minimum wages. Maximum wages, too. A nation that allows its richest citizen to earn ten times more than its poorest would still be horribly unfair–yet it would be a big improvement over today. Shipping jobs overseas must be banned. Most free trade agreements should be torn up. Companies must no longer be allowed to layoff employees before eliminating salaries and benefits for their top-paid managers–CEOs, etc.

And a layoff should mean just that–a layoff. First fired should be first rehired–at equal or greater pay–if and when business improves.

Once a battery of spending programs targeted to the 99 percent is in place–permanent unemployment benefits, subsidized public housing, full college grants, etc.–the tax code ought to be radically revamped. For example, nothing gives the lie to the myth of America as a land of equal opportunity than inheritance. Aristocratic societies pass wealth and status from generation to generation. In a democracy, no one has the right to be born into wealth.

Because everyone deserves an equal chance, the national inheritance tax should be 100 percent. While we’re at it, why should people who inherited wealth but have low incomes get off scot-free? Slap the bastards with a European-style tax on wealth as well as the appearance of wealth.

Now you’re probably laughing. Even Obama’s lame call for taxing the rich–so the U.S. can buy more drone planes–stands no chance of passing the Republican Congress. They’re empty words meant for election-year consumption. Taking income inequality seriously? That’s so off the table it isn’t even funny.

Which is why we shouldn’t be looking to corporate machine politicians like Obama for answers.


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Biggest Gains in 15 Years, Now What? (history lesson)

+4.7% on the S&P.

The last time the market went up this much in January was in 1997, when it soared 6.18%. It’s worth noting, the market followed through with strength in February of 1997, gaining 0.96%. But, in March of ’97, the market plunged by 4.38%.

The last time we had similar gains was in 2001, when the market moved ahead by 4.45%. In February of 2001, the market crashed by 9.54% and fell some more in March by 5.6%.

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Experts say Gingrich Moon Base Dreams Not Lunacy

By SETH BORENSTEIN | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich wants to create a lunar colony that he says could become a U.S. state. There’s his grand research plan to figure out what makes the human brain tick. And he’s warned about electromagnetic pulse attacks leaving America without electricity.

To some people, these ideas sound like science fiction. But mostly they are not.

Several science policy experts say the former House speaker’s ideas are based in mainstream science. But somehow, Gingrich manages to make them sound way out there, taking them first a small step and then a giant leap further than where other politicians have gone.

Gingrich’s promise that “by the end of my second term we will have the first permanent base on the moon” got amped up in a recent debate in Florida, which lost thousands of jobs with the end of the space shuttle program. By then, the lunar base had become a colony and even a potential state, and his moon ideas were ridiculed by rival Mitt Romney.

Returning to the moon and building an outpost there is not new. Until three years ago, it was U.S. policy and billions of dollars were spent on that idea.

Staying on the moon dates at least to 1969, when a government committee recommended that NASA first build a winged, reusable space shuttle followed by a space station and then a moon outpost. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush proposed going to the moon and staying there.

Sixteen years later, in 2005, his son, President George W. Bush, proposed a similar lunar outpost, phased out the space shuttle program and spent more than $9 billion designing a return to the moon program.

George Washington University space policy director Scott Pace, who was NASA’s associate administrator in the second Bush administration and is a Romney supporter, said the 2020 lunar base date Gingrich mentioned was feasible when it was proposed in 2005.

But it is no longer, felled by funding cuts and President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the program. Pace said it would be hard to figure out when NASA could get back to the moon, but that such a return is doable.

What kept killing return-to-the moon plans were the costs, starting in 1969. The proposal died 20 years later when the price tag was released: more than $700 billion in current dollars. The second President Bush’s plans started running into problems due to insufficient funding. After a special commission said those plans were not sustainable, Obama cancelled the return-to-the-moon program. Instead, he ordered NASA to aim astronauts toward an asteroid and eventually Mars, something many space experts say is even more ambitious.

“Some of you may like it and you may dislike it, but I gave the boldest explanation of going into space since John F. Kennedy in 1961,” Gingrich said this week in Florida. “I believe in an America of big ideas and big solutions. I believe if we unleash the American people we will rebuild the American dream.”

In Florida, nearly all the Republican presidential candidates promoted private companies sending astronauts into space. Several companies are building private spaceships. Commercial space companies taking over the job of getting Americans into low Earth orbit is a cornerstone of the Obama space plan. But, again, money has been an issue.

For example, NASA received $406 million in its current budget for private space programs. Obama had asked Congress for $805 million.

Neal Lane, former head of the National Science Foundation and White House science adviser during the Clinton administration, said Gingrich’s proposals aren’t crazy, although he may disagree with some of them. Gingrich’s ideas and actions are “very pro-science,” said Lane, who credited Gingrich with protecting federal science research from budget cuts in the 1990s.

“He’s on the edge of mainstream thinking about big science. Except for the idea of establishing a colony on the moon, it’s not over the edge,” added Syracuse University science policy professor Henry Lambright.

Read the rest here.

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Neil Young: Steve Jobs Listened to Vinyl

By RYAN NAKASHIMA | Associated Press

DANA POINT, Calif. (AP) — Legendary rocker Neil Young took his campaign for higher-fidelity digital sound to the stage of a technology conference Tuesday, saying a giant of the industry was on his side: the late Steve Jobs.

Young said the Apple co-founder was such a fan of music that he didn’t use his iPod and its digitally compressed files at home. Instead, he used a physical format well-known to have better sound.

“Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music. His legacy is tremendous,” Young said. “But when he went home, he listened to vinyl (albums).”

Young told the “D: Dive Into Media” conference Tuesday that he spoke with Jobs about creating a format that has 20 times the fidelity of files in the most current digital formats, including MP3.

Such a format, he said, would contain 100 percent of the data of music as it is created in a studio, as opposed to 5 percent in compressed formats including Apple’s AAC. Each song would be huge, and a new storage and playback device might only hold 30 albums. Each song would take about 30 minutes to download, which is fine if you leave your device on overnight, he said.

“Sleep well. Wake up in the morning. Play some real music and listen to the joy of 100 percent of the sound of music,” he said.

Although Young didn’t have a practical plan for developing such a format — saying it’s for “rich people” to decide — he said Jobs was on board with the idea before he died from cancer at age 56 in October.

“I talked to Steve about it. We were working on it,” Young said. “You’ve got to believe if he lived long enough he would eventually try to do what I’m trying to do.”

Read the rest here.

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Senate Clears Way for Vote on Insider-trading Ban

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some members of Congress want to include executive branch employees in a bill that would ban lawmakers from using nonpublic information to made stock trades. The bill also would require public reporting of new securities transactions within 30 days, all part of an effort by Congress to boost its dismal approval ratings that are now in the teens.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters Tuesday that if the bill now before the Senate isn’t expanded to include the executive branch, he would add that provision to a bill expected to receive a House vote sometime in February.

A Senate amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would include the executive branch.

“Why would this rule not apply to executive employees in the administration?” Coburn asked.

Actually, parts of the bill already apply, but not the 30-day reporting requirement.

Standards of conduct for the executive branch prohibit government workers from “engaging in financial transactions using nonpublic information, or allowing the improper use of nonpublic information to further private interests.” Senior executive branch officials must publicly file annual financial disclosure reports – the same as members of Congress and their senior staff.

It was unclear when the Senate would be ready to vote on the legislation.

Read the rest here.

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