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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Michael Moore is apparently Iran’s favorite source for propaganda

Why have a PR budget when your enemy is willing to fund the material themselves?

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Michael Moore is the most famous filmmaker in Iran, according to one of that nation’s most acclaimed directors.

At a screening of Asghar Farhadi’s critically lauded “A Separation” at Sony’s screening room in New York, the Iranian director spotted the “Fahrenheit 9/11” filmmaker in the audience.

Farhadi quipped, “Michael Moore is the most famous director in Iran,” and said everyone knows his movies because they are shown on national TV there.

“[Farhadi] then joked how difficult it was for his own films to be seen in Iran,” a source said.

Farhadi has been the toast of New York this week, winning Best Foreign Film awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review.

Moore did not respond to a request for comment.

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Do brands survive bankruptcy?

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Neither bankruptcy nor a liquidation can kill iconic brands.

Before the ink was even dry on Hostess Brands’ bankruptcy filing Wednesday morning, interested buyers were already digging into the potential value of the Hostess name and how Twinkie, Ding Dong or Wonder Bread could be repurposed into other consumer products.

For now, Hostess will continue to churn out Twinkies, but many in the bankruptcy world are questioning whether the maker of snack foods can survive.

This is Hostess Brands’ second trip in bankruptcy court. It emerged in 2009 after a four and a half year restructuring.

Should Hostess Brands choose to liquidate rather than reorganize, the brand names – Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread – will very likely live on.

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Myanmar brokers cease-fire with rebels

(CNN) — The Myanmar government signed a cease-fire deal with a rebel group Thursday, the same day Aung San Suu Kyi’s party said it will join the upcoming elections.

Information Minister Soe Win said the government has signed a peace deal with the Karen National Liberation Army.

The Karen National Liberation Army, which has long sought autonomy for the Karen ethnic minority, is now permitted to travel throughout the country without weapons, a separate government official said.

The move is an apparent bid to resolve a conflict that has brewed for more than six decades.

The group operates in the border area of the country.

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Foreclosure rates fall, backlog partially responsible

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Foreclosure filings and repossessions fell to their lowest level since 2007 last year.

Total filings, including default notices and bank repossessions were down 33% for the year to 2.7 million, according to RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed properties.

One in every 69 homes had at least one foreclosure filing during the year, while 804,000 homes were repossessed. That’s a significant improvement from the peaks reached in 2010 — when 1.05 million homes were repossessed — and the lowest levels seen since 2007.

More than 4 million homes have been lost to foreclosure over the past five years.

While the declines seem like good news for the housing market, where a flood of foreclosed homes has depressed home prices, much of it is due to processing delays caused by fall-out from the “robo-signing” scandal that broke in late 2010.

During the year, banks spent more time making sure paperwork was legal and proper, creating a backlog in the foreclosure pipeline. As a result, the average time it took to process a foreclosure climbed to 348 days during the fourth quarter, up from 305 days a year earlier.

“Foreclosures were in full delay mode in 2011, resulting in a dramatic drop in foreclosure activity for the year,” said Brandon Moore, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac.

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Money Flows, Heat Map, and the S&P A/D Line

Monet flows

                                                          (in millions)
iShs Brclys Intrm Crdt Bd      CIU     ARCA      107.04       +37.9      34.78
Citigroup                      C       NYSE       30.95       +37.1       1.28
Vanguard Shrt-Trm Crp Bnd      VCSH    NASD       78.09       +36.0      21.98
Vangrd Intermed-Trm Cp Bd      VCIT    NASD       82.65       +26.4      34.13
Williams-Sonoma                WSM     NYSE       34.02       +19.2       1.48
Express Scripts                ESRX    NASD       48.33       +17.8       1.94
Apple                          AAPL    NASD      419.91       +17.1       1.04
SPDR DJ Intl Real Estate       RWX     ARCA       32.73       +16.8      23.19
PepsiCo                        PEP     NYSE       64.59       +13.7       2.05
Ford Motor                     F       NYSE       11.97       +13.5       1.53
Encana                         ECA     NYSE       17.80       +12.9       3.67
Hess Corp                      HES     NYSE       57.77       +12.6       1.83
Comcast                        CMCSA   NASD       25.43       +12.5       3.17
Allergan                       AGN     NYSE       88.72       +12.1       2.65
Johnson & Johnson              JNJ     NYSE       65.04       +11.7       1.64
Caterpillar                    CAT     NYSE       99.95       +11.3       1.19
SeagateTech                    STX     NASD       19.16       +11.2       1.67
Baidu                          BIDU    NASD      128.01       +11.0       1.13
ProShs Crdt Suisse 130/30      CSM     ARCA       58.10       +10.9      45.80
Intel                          INTC    NASD       25.72       +10.8       1.28 

                                                          (in millions)
Microsoft                      MSFT    NASD       27.77      -108.6       0.36
Petoleo Brasil A               PBR/A   NYSE       26.03       -59.8       0.11
iShs Brclys 13 Yr Crdt Bd      CSJ     ARCA      104.39       -34.3       0.13
IBM                            IBM     NYSE      179.36       -32.5       0.79
Chevron                        CVX     NYSE      105.26       -31.9       0.77
iBoxx InvesTp Inv Grde Bd      LQD     ARCA      114.23       -30.1       0.22
AT&T                           T       NYSE       30.20       -15.3       0.59
SPDR Gold Tr                   GLD     ARCA      160.73       -13.9       0.89
Potash Corp                    POT     NYSE       42.18       -13.4       0.72
Vanguard Total Bond Mkt        BND     ARCA       83.43       -13.3       0.20
McDonald's                     MCD     NYSE      100.26       -12.8       0.70
El Paso Corp                   EP      NYSE       26.66       -12.1       0.40
Cisco Systems                  CSCO    NASD       19.02       -11.5       0.59
SPDR S&P 500                   SPY     ARCA      128.77       -11.5       0.98
SW Energy                      SWN     NYSE       29.19       -11.3       0.60
Altria Group Inc               MO      NYSE       28.80       -10.0       0.48
Abbott Labs                    ABT     NYSE       55.40        -9.4       0.65
Coca-Cola                      KO      NYSE       67.48        -9.2       0.73
MetLife                        MET     NYSE       35.79        -8.2       0.72
SPDR S&P Dividend              SDY     ARCA       54.10        -8.0       0.33

Heat map

A/D Line 

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52 Week Highs and Lows


New Highs 58 

COMPANY                       SYMBOL      HIGH                VOLUME 
-------                       ------      ----                ------ 
Aircastle Ltd                 AYR         13.84               55,840 
Airgas Inc                    ARG         80.99               94,017 
Alliance Data Sys             ADS         108.38             184,405 
American Tower REIT           AMT         62.46              644,516 
Amer Vanguard                 AVD         14.83               28,074 
BlackRock  Muni Bnd           BIE         15.75                1,175 
BlkRk MuniHldgs II            MUH         15.82                8,661 
BlkRk MuniYld CA Fd           MYC         15.52               17,883 
BlkRk MuniYld CA Quality      MCA         14.72               24,052 
CVS Caremark                  CVS         42.22            2,536,505 
Cantel Med                    CMN         30.55               10,413 
Clarcor Inc                   CLC         51.70               42,270 
ConAgra Foods                 CAG         27.04            1,068,364 
Crown Castle Intl             CCI         46.47              366,427 
Delphi Automotive             DLPH        24.22              228,894 
Donaldson Co                  DCI         71.08              138,195 
DTF Tax-Free                  DTF         16.50                5,887 
Dycom Indus                   DY          22.39              101,261 
Ecolab Inc                    ECL         59.80              308,597 
Flaherty & Crumrine Pfd       PFO         11.73                7,806 
FortuneBrandsHome&Sec         FBHS        18.35              446,068 
Generac Holdings              GNRC        30.01               50,360 
Goodrich Corp                 GR          124.49             132,724 
WW Grainger                   GWW         195.00              67,351 
Guggenh Bond Mneg Dur Tr      GBAB        21.69               19,100 
Health Care REIT              HCN         55.78              265,394 
Home Depot                    HD          43.66            2,526,839 
DR Horton                     DHI         14.20            2,118,729 
IHS Inc                       IHS         92.00               30,876 
Inv CA Ins Tr                 IIC         15.64               16,834 
Invesco CA Qty Tr             IQC         14.25               12,483 
Invesco NY Qty                IQN         15.90                3,662 
Invesco VnKmCAInc             VCV         13.28               21,939 
Invesco VnKmNY                VTN         15.60               10,389 
James Hardie Indus ADS        JHX         37.68                  535 
Kraft Foods                   KFT         38.17            1,578,494 
LTC Properties                LTC         32.15               48,276 
MFS Hi Inc Muni               CXE         5.38                43,976 
Macy's Inc                    M           35.13            1,458,357 
Manning & Napier              MN          13.25               28,048 
Maximus                       MMS         44.61               53,639 
McCormick & Co Vtg            MKC/V       51.15                  100 
McCormick & Co                MKC         51.42               56,113 
NewMarket Corp                NEU         210.27               9,547 
Nuveen AZ Premium Income      NAZ         14.43                  639 
Nuveen CA Div Fnd             NAC         14.45               16,479 
Nuveen CA Investment          NQC         14.93               11,812 
Nuveen CA Performance         NCP         15.06               27,507 
NuveenPremIncmMuni            NNF         15.98                3,973 
Oneok Inc                     OKE         88.91              127,125 
PIMCO NY Fd                   PNF         11.78               13,018 
ProAssurance                  PRA         81.99              100,437 
Roper Indus                   ROP         92.55               85,878 
Sunoco Inc. Wi                SUNw        36.12                  100 
Ultrapar Participaco          UGP         19.12              112,539 
Valspar Corp                  VAL         41.43              212,813 
Western Asset Mun Tr Fund     MTT         22.41               16,749 
Wyndham Worldwide             WYN         39.05              407,189 

New Lows 9 

COMPANY                       SYMBOL      LOW                 VOLUME 
-------                       ------      ----                ------ 
Advantest Corp ADS            ATE         8.93                   480 
Alon Hldgs Blue Square        BSI         3.90                 7,710 
Bill Barrett                  BBG         31.20              287,440 
Chesapeake Energy             CHK         21.87            6,864,431 
ChinaTele                     CHA         53.73              109,171 
DelhaizeGrp                   DEG         53.50               46,882 
ECA Marcellus Trust I         ECT         21.06               56,787 
Ferrellgas                    FGP         17.34              205,715 
SW Energy                     SWN         28.81            4,415,384


New Highs 38 

COMPANY                       SYMBOL      HIGH                VOLUME 
-------                       ------      ----                ------ 
ATMI                          ATMI        22.64               45,220 
America's Car-Mart            CRMT        41.22                5,609 
Amgen                         AMGN        66.66            1,643,268 
Broadvision Inc               BVSN        17.79              168,359 
Equinix                       EQIX        112.50             116,551 
FEI Co                        FEIC        44.22               61,216 
FARO Techs                    FARO        53.96               62,834 
First Capital                 FCAP        20.50                  200 
Halozyme Therapeutics         HALO        10.20              279,997 
Inhibitex                     INHX        24.51            2,137,367 
iShrNasdaqBiotch              IBB         111.73             296,331 
Jacksonville Bancorp          JXSB        14.27                  300 
Lincoln Electric Hldgs        LECO        41.25               40,365 
magicJack VocalTec            CALL        14.93               77,454 
Material Sciences             MASC        9.06                82,015 
Medivation                    MDVN        56.28              116,363 
Mercantile Bank               MBWM        10.50                8,777 
Micromet                      MITI        8.75               270,881 
NewsCorp A                    NWSA        18.96            3,289,535 
NewsCorp B                    NWS         19.22              616,921 
PETsMART                      PETM        52.72              145,502 
Pharmacyclics                 PCYC        16.86              122,619 
Pharmasset                    VRUS        136.97             579,188 
Pool                          POOL        32.88               82,755 
Ross Stores                   ROST        51.21              673,308 
Russ Small-Cap Contrarian     SCTR        63.78                  140 
Russ Small-Cap Low P/E        SCLP        63.47                  100 
SBA Comm                      SBAC        44.65              336,762 
Santarus                      SNTS        4.45               533,391 
SeagateTech                   STX         19.49            9,107,034 
Silicon Motion Tech (ADS)     SIMO        23.70              118,289 
Starbucks                     SBUX        47.48            1,493,026 
Synageva BioPharma            GEVA        36.52               21,565 
Tower Bancorp Inc             TOBC        30.90               10,218 
Tractor Supply Co             TSCO        80.11            1,549,694 
Vangrd Intrmd -Trm Gvt Bd     VGIT        68.95               41,110 
VIVUS                         VVUS        12.84            1,836,352 
Xyratex                       XRTX        15.40               43,374 

New Lows 15 

COMPANY                       SYMBOL      LOW                 VOLUME 
-------                       ------      ----                ------ 
BSD Medical                   BSDM        2.02                12,051 
Bionovo                       BNVI        0.17               407,388 
Cherokee                      CHKE        10.94               17,901 
FreeSeas                      FREE        0.36                26,162 
Heelys                        HLYS        1.73                 7,347 
Horizon Pharma                HZNP        3.47                   500 
Ikanos Comm                   IKAN        0.67               128,150 
NxStage Medical               NXTM        16.03              165,567 
Overstockcom                  OSTK        6.85                28,453 
Perceptron                    PRCP        4.27                48,917 
PwrShrs MENA Frnt Cntries     PMNA        10.02                2,125 
Richardson Electronics        RELL        11.54               62,704 
SkyPeople Fruit Juice         SPU         1.58                 8,455 
Synutra Intl                  SYUT        3.90               104,689 
VSB Banc                      VSBN        9.84                   951

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U.S. plans Taliban peace talks

WASHINGTON – The US plans a major push next week to jump-start peace talks with the Taliban, senior Obama administration officials said, amid the first concrete signs of progress toward a negotiated end to the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan.

The press comes amid the potentially embarrassing emergence of a video Wednesday that appears to show US troops urinating on Afghan insurgents’ corpses. Its authenticity hasn’t been confirmed.

The US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, will meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to seek his approval to resume US negotiations with Taliban representatives over confidence-building measures aimed at laying the ground for direct Afghan-Taliban talks.

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Obama raised $68 million from October-December

Read here:

President Barack Obama raked in more than $68 million combined for his re-election campaign and the Democratic Party during the final three months of 2011, gearing up for a formidable challenge against his Republican opponent later this year.

The large fundraising quarter helped Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee surpass $220 million in 2011, bankrolling the president’s re-election campaign as Republicans settle on a nominee. Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney raised $56 million for the primary through Dec. 31, his campaign announced Wednesday, far outpacing his GOP opponents.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said Thursday in a video to supporters that the campaign collected more than $42 million for the quarter, with the DNC bringing in more than $24 million, along with $1 million for a joint fund to help state parties in key states. The amount helped the president’s team beat an internal goal of $60 million combined for the quarter.

Obama’s campaign collected $750 million in 2008, prompting speculation that it could top $1 billion this time. Messina said the lofty figures have created “a challenge that keeps coming up. Too many Obama supporters think we don’t need their money or they don’t need to give now.”

However, Messina said, “The billion-dollar number is completely untrue.”

Obama, facing no primary opponent, has stockpiled a large campaign bank account, but Democrats expect parity with Republicans once the party chooses a nominee. Romney has been a formidable fundraiser and most party leaders expect a large amount of money to flow into his campaign if he sews up the nomination. Republican-leaning Super PACs have also fared better than Democratic-backed outside groups, further offsetting the president’s fundraising.

Obama’s campaign has emphasized a large number of donors and small donations generated from online giving. Messina said the campaign and DNC had generated 1.3 million donors, with 583,000 people giving during the most recent quarter. More than 98 percent were for donations of $250 or less and the average donation was $55, Messina said.

The money will help build Obama’s organization and let his advisers prepare for the upcoming campaign, a point the president emphasized at a large Chicago fundraiser on Wednesday night.

“If you’re willing to work even harder in this election than you did in that last election, I promise you change will come,” Obama said. “If you stick with me, we’re going to finish what we started in 2008.”

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Iran to construct “Islamic Internet”, block Western influence

Read here:

New cyber regulations announced by Iran last week, including requiring Internet cafes to install surveillance cameras, could be just a precursor to the Islamic Republic’s “halal” network, many observers are saying.

That network, an “Islamically permissible” intranet that the nation’s telecommunications ministry publicized in early 2011, would disconnect Iran from the rest of the world and run a parallel internal service that would automatically censor material and block popular global sites and search engines, such as Facebook, Google and Wikipedia.

“I don’t think it’s a question of if, but a question of when,” said Austin Heap, executive director of the Censorship Research Center, who also works on developing technologies for increasing Internet freedom.

At the time of the announcement, Iranian authorities said the new infrastructure would be revealed soon, but did not give a specific time frame.

“They are taking the lessons of the 2009 uprisings and figuring out how to prevent that,” Heap said. “A halal network would be only what the regime would want you to see.”

Iran’s network could mirror what Burma, another nation with draconian cyber crackdowns, has done to isolate its people from the Web, limiting users to a national intranet at a high price that deters most potential users.

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U.S. Navy bolsters air craft carrier presence in Persian Gulf

I believe that brings total aircraft carriers near Iran to 3, and any subsequent fleet ships that go with them.

Read here:

A new aircraft carrier strike group has entered the Arabian Sea and another is on its way, a Pentagon official said in a news briefing Wednesday — a shuffling of the U.S. fleet amid rising tensions with Iran.

Officials said there is no connection between the fleet movements and threats from Iran, however, the arrival of the USS Carl Vinson comes on the heels of Iranian military exercises in the Persian Gulf and threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil transit route.

And the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran on Wednesday further escalated tensions, as the Obama administration denied any role in the death.

The U.S. Navy announced Monday that the USS Vinson had arrived in the region to conduct missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

“We will work closely with our regional partners to demonstrate our commitment to security and stability in the region,” Rear Admiral Thomas Shannon said in a written statement.

Captain John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Media Operations, on Wednesday denied U.S. involvement in the killing of the Iranian scientist and said the incident has not changed the U.S. position in the Gulf region.

And the number of carriers in the region “does go up and down, but it’s based on overall broad requirements in the region that the Central Command commander sets and establishes, [it’s] not necessarily … driven by a specific incident,” Capt. Kirby said.

The shift in naval assets in the region, Kirby said, is not linked to Iran’s recent threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a threat made in response to the West’s sanctions on Iranian oil exports over the country’s contested nuclear program

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Bullish Sentiment Up in Latest Poll

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Bullish sentiment among investors was up during the week ended this Wednesday, according to the most recent weekly online survey of members of the American Association of Individual Investors.
Bullish sentiment rose to 49.14% from 48.88%, but bearish sentiment rose to 17.18% from 17.16% during the previous week.
The percentage of investors who described themselves as neutral on the stock market fell to 33.68% from 33.96%, according to the poll.

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