Mortgage Applications Collapse To Lowest In 19 Months

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Once again it seems cash is king if the housing recovery is to continue. Despite the surge in prices that we saw yesterday that reflected the long-forgotten days before mortgage rates exploded, the housing recovery meme remains loud and proud. But, mortgage applications are now down for 7 of the last 8 weeks and have collapsed a stunning 29% over that time. - the biggest plunge in 30 months. It appears that the 'rational' buyer has decided that higher rates are not the factor that drives them to snap up that surging priced home? Is it any wonder, as we noted here, in spite of being told every day how 'affordable' housing is with rates this low, their real purchasing power (given a limited budget as opposed to free money-based finance) has plunged by 16% (for now).

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Whistleblower Snowden Rails Against ‘Litany of Lies’ from US Leaders

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden said a “continuing litany of lies” from senior U.S. leaders prompted his public uncovering of widespread surveillance of Americans’ phone calls and alleged data sharing between large technology companies and the government.
In a two-hour online question-and-answer session on the Guardian website, Snowden was asked about a variety of topics that have surfaced since a June 6 article by the UK newspaper that revealed the extent of data collection against Americans. Snowden, a former NSA contractor in Hawaii working for Booz Allen, re-asserted a number of claims including that NSA analysts have the authority and access to wiretap anyone, that he has had no contact with the Chinese government regardless of his self-imposed exile in Hong Kong, and accused the U.S. government of eroding any chance he had a getting a fair trial by labeling him a traitor.

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Lee: Immigration Bill Problems Go Far Beyond Border Security

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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Unnecessary Tragedy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

by Walter E. Williams

Last week a federal judge ordered Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to allow 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, to be moved to the adult lung transplant list. That gives her a better chance of receiving a potentially lifesaving transplant. Sarah Murnaghan's fate should force us to examine our organ transplant policy.

There are more than 88,000 Americans on the organ transplant waiting list. Roughly 10 percent of them will die before receiving an organ. These lost lives are not so much an act of God as they are an act of Congress because of its 1984 National Organ Transplant Act, as amended, which prohibits payment to organ donors.

Reliance on voluntary donations has been an abject policy failure. The mindless rhetoric used to support this policy is: "Organ transplantation is built upon altruism and public trust." It's noteworthy that everyone involved in the organ transplant business is compensated – that includes hospitals, surgeons, nurses and organ procurement workers. Depending on the organ transplanted, the charges range from a low of $260,000 for a kidney to about a million dollars for a heart or intestines

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Owner of dog killed in drug raid says police targeted wrong apartment

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A West Side resident and Iraq War veteran with no criminal record is mourning the loss of his rescue dog who was fatally shot during a Buffalo police narcotics raid that apparently targeted the wrong apartment Monday night.
Cindy, a chocolate-brown 2½-year-old pit bull, was shot multiple times while chained up in the kitchen of Adam Arroyo’s apartment on Breckenridge Street near Grant Street, he said in a phone interview.
The search warrant that police left for Arroyo, who was not at home at the time of the raid, lists the upper apartment at the Breckenridge Street address, but there are two upstairs apartments at that address, and Arroyo insists that police targeted the wrong apartment.

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Pentagon has no idea what 108,000 private contractors are doing or spending in Afghanistan

David Francis
The Fiscal Times
Mon, 03 Jun 2013 00:00 CDT
© AP Photo/Gervasio Sanchez 
 
The number of contractors working in Afghanistan now vastly outnumbers American troops stationed there, according to a Congressional Research Service report. CRS, along with the Government Accountability Office, also determined that the Pentagon is unable to properly document the work these contractors are doing. And the information DOD is receiving is often unreliable and inaccurate.

According to CRS, there are now 108,000 private workers in Afghanistan, a workforce that dwarfs the 65,700 American troops still stationed there. That means there are 1.6 contractors for every American soldier in Afghanistan. This is an increase from last month, when The Fiscal Times reported that there were 1.4 contractors per American soldier.

Given the size of the private forces, it's not surprising that CRS found that in recent years, the Defense Department spent more than any other agency to support contractor work.

"Over the last six fiscal years, DOD obligations for contracts performed in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $160 billion and exceeded total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency," CRS found.

The CRS report comes in the wake of a recent GAO report that the United States spent $195 billion for contractor services in 2010, or twice what it spent on contractors in 2001, before the start of the war in Afghanistan.

The increase in the contractors to troop ration is yet another indication that although the vast majority of troops are leaving Afghanistan, a private army will remain in the country for years.
Link: here

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