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MORE DROUGHT: U.S. Government Forecasts Hotter, Drier-Than-Average August $CORN $DBA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hotter-than-average temperatures are expected over the vast majority of the contiguous 48 U.S. states in August, with below-average precipitation for Midwest areas already hit by the worst drought in a half century, the government said on Thursday.

After the hottest half-year on record in the United States, hotter, drier conditions from the Southwest, through the Midwest and across the East Coast from Florida to Maine are forecast to continue through October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Drought hit 29 U.S. states, with Texas feeling the heaviest impact, followed by Colorado, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, Arkansas, Indiana and Hawaii.

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The word is going out quietly to Republican activists across New Jersey: If you’re going to the GOP convention in Tampa next month, be sure to be there by Tuesday night, Aug. 28, because Gov. Chris Christie is going to be giving the keynote speech that night.
“We’ve been told that’s the night to be there, that’s when the governor is going to speak. They’re saying he’s the keynoter,” one top party activist told The Post yesterday.


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FLASH: Barton Biggs Reported Dead

Barton Biggs is reported dead. He was one of the first hedge fund managers and worked with $MS for the majority of his career.

It had been reported he had benn ill for some time.



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Shares Jump on Relief after China GDP, Caution Stays

Manipulated to perfection?

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares and the Australian dollar jumped on Friday after China’s second-quarter gross domestic product data landed in line with forecasts.

But market relief could be short-lived as Moody’s downgrade of Italy’s credit rating to near-junk status just ahead of a bond auction threatens to reinforce fears over Europe’s debt crisis.

Read the rest here.

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Italy’s Bond Rating Cut By Moody’s On Contagion, Funding Risks

via Bloomberg

Italy’s bond rating was cut and its negative outlook reiterated by Moody’s Investors Service as the euro area’s third-biggest economy faces higher funding costs and contagion risk from Greece and Spain.

The ratings company lowered Italy’s government bond rating by two steps to Baa2 from A3, citing a greater risk of a Greek exit from the euro and the Spanish banking system experiencing greater credit losses, according to a statement released in Frankfurt today. That makes Italy’s rating the same as those of Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Brazil, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Italy’s near-term economic outlook has deteriorated, as manifest in both weaker growth and higher unemployment, which creates risk of failure to meet fiscal consolidation targets,” Moody’s said. “Failure to meet fiscal targets in turn could weaken market confidence further, raising the risk of a sudden stop in market funding.”

The euro fell toward a two-year low after the downgrade. The 17-nation currency bought $1.2189 as of 9:06 a.m. in Tokyo, from $1.2203 yesterday in New York, when it touched $1.2167, the least since June 2010.



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DRUDGE EXCLUSIVE: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Top GOP VP Candidate

Thu Jul 12 2012 19:30:01 ET


Late Thursday evening, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign launched a new fundraising drive, 'Meet The VP' -- just as Romney himself has narrowed the field of candidates to a handful, sources reveal.

And a surprise name is now near the top of the list: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice!

The timing of the announcement is now set for 'coming weeks'.


It was Condi who received two standing ovations at Romney's Utah retreat a few weeks ago, and everyone left with her name on their lips.

Rice made an extended argument for American leadership in the world.

In recent days, she emailed supporters:

"2012 is perhaps a turning point for the United States."

"The upcoming elections loom as one of the most important in my lifetime," she warned. "I'm very often asked to speak about our current foreign policy and the challenges that lie before us. However, we, as a country, are not going to be able to address any of those international challenges unless we first get our domestic house in order."


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Asia Pushes Slightly Higher Ahead of China GDP Data

Asian shares edged up in cautious trade on Friday, as the market braces for Chinese GDP data that is likely to show a slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy.

Economists polled by Reuters expect China’s April-June economic growth, due around 0200 GMT, to have slowed to 7.6 percent from 8.1 percent in the previous quarter.

Worries are increasing that slower growth in top economies such as China will lead to more profit warnings, overshadowing hopes of any boost from additional policy measures around the world.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 Index [.FTFCNBCA  5824.04    0.18  (+0%)], which measures markets across Asia, was flat.


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PFG Pulls An MFGlobal

Rumors indicate that PFG’s CEO tried to commit suicide after $225 million of private deposits were vaporized.

PFG and PAM are on lockdown.


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Norway Production Fears Unwarranted As Government Crushes Strike

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL) plans the immediate restart all of its production on the Norwegian continental shelf, including output at its Oseberg field, after the government stopped a strike of offshore workers, the company said on Tuesday.

“It may take from 1 to 2 days to get production started and Statoil expects to have the fields back in full production within a week,” the company said in a statement.

Read more here:

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BREAKING: Vilifying Rich People Makes Them Upset, Want To Leave

A new report says wealthy Maryland residents may be moving out due to recent tax hikes – a finding that is sure to escalate the battle over taxing the American rich.

The study, by the anti-tax group Change Maryland, says that a net 31,000 residents left the state between 2007 and 2010, the tenure of a “millionaire’s tax” pushed through by Gov. Martin O’Malley. The tax, which expired in 2010, in imposed a rate of 6.25 percent on incomes of more than $1 million a year.

The Change Maryland study found that the tax cost Maryland $1.7 billion in lost tax revenues. A county-by-county analysis by Change Maryland also found that the state’s wealthiest counties also had some of the largest population outflows.

In total, Maryland has added 24 new taxes or fees in recent years, Change Maryland says. Florida, which has no income-tax, has been a large recipient of Maryland’s exiled wealthy.

“Maryland has reached the point of diminishing returns. We’re taxing people too much and people are voting with their feet,” said Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. “Until we change our focus from tax increases to increasing the tax base, more people are simply going to leave, leading to a downward spiral of raising revenues on fewer citizens.”

The finding adds to the renewed debate over raising taxes on the wealthy. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie recently vetoed a millionaire’s tax passed by his legislature, while California and other state governments are also considering higher taxes on high earners to fix budget problems. President Obama on Monday asked Congress to extend tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less – effectively increasing taxes for the higher earners.

Many contend that higher taxes drive out the highly mobile rich, who can simply move to a lower-tax state or even lower-tax country. Recent data shows that a record 1,800 Americans renounces their citizenship last year.

Read more here:

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via BusinessWeek.com

Patriot Coal Corp. (PCX) (PCX), the U.S. fuel producer that has lost more than $7 billion in value, has lined up financing ahead of a bankruptcy filing that may come as soon as today, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The so-called debtor-in-possession financing is being provided by Citigroup Inc., Barclays Plc and Bank of America Corp., said the people, who asked not to be identified as the process is private.

Patriot is the biggest casualty so far of the slump in the U.S. coal industry, which has seen tens of millions of tons of production cutbacks this year. Coal miners are struggling because of a combination of a warm winter, utilities switching some generating capacity to cheaper natural gas and regulatory moves to curb emissions from coal-burning power plants. U.S. coal use in the first quarter was the lowest for that period since 1988, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Patriot was spun off five years ago by Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU) (BTU) The shares had tumbled 74 percent this year through July 6 after the company idled some of its mines. The company’s market value peaked at $7.5 billion in 2008.

Patriot, Citigroup, Barclays and Bank of America didn’t immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

The St. Louis-based company said in May it hired Blackstone Group LP as it worked with lenders to refinance $625 million of loans and credit facilities.


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H/T @thestalwart


The FBI Bank Robbery Task Force needs your help identifying a bank robber dubbed the “Abe Lincoln Bandit.” The man, sporting a long, Abraham Lincoln-like beard, robbed the Wells Fargo Bank located at 11102 Scarsdale in Houston, Texas, earlier today (June 30, 2012). Surveillance photos are below.

Bank Robbery Suspect

Bank Robbery Suspect

Bank Robbery Suspect

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Spain Asks for a Bailout of its Banks…Officially Speaking

Despite recent aid being given to Spain..or at least being committed to be given, Spain has officially asked for a bailout of its banking system. This has gotten the markets on edge. No official amount has been announced, but rumors suggest $100 billion or more.

Full article

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Ole’ Sandusky will be in a world of butt-hurt tonight. Let’s hope it goes on for weeks. Perhaps some broom handles and stolen cafeteria silverware will be involved.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBS/AP) —The jury in Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse trial has found him “guilty” on 45 counts and “not guilty” on three counts. His bail has been revoked and he was handcuffed and sent to the Center County Correctional Facility

Read the article here.

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