"ThinkFast: December 21, 2009"
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On a 60-40 party-line procedural vote early Monday morning, Senate Democrats held ranks to pass a procedural motion that moves health reform legislation closer to an expected final passage on Christmas Eve at 7 pm. The vote took place shortly after 1 am ET, following 12 hours of “acrimonious debate.”
“The Fed’s failure to foresee the crisis or to require adequate safeguards happened in part because it did not understand the risks that banks were taking,” a Washington Post analysis found. The “central bank’s performance has sparked a great debate about” its future as regulator since it “failed to protect borrowers” and banks “from the consequences of subprime lending.”
Since 2000, “stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange have lost an average of 0.5% a year,” making the last ten tears the worst decade ever for the stock market. “Investors would have been better off investing in pretty much anything else, from bonds to gold or even just stuffing money under a mattress,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.
“The hiring of temporary workers has surged,” a sign that companies may be willing to “take the next step, bringing on permanent workers, if they can just convince themselves that the upturn in the economy will be sustained. … Last month 52,000 temps were added, greater than the number of new workers in any other category.”
Taxpayers are footing the bill for “more than $40,000 per month on office space, staff, cell phones and a leased SUV for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, even as he works as a lobbyist for private corporations and foreign governments.” The payments are “perfectly legal” as long as Hastert never uses these perks for his lobbying work, a separation that is “hard to maintain.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said that military force would have only limited effect in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. While Mullen told his staff that force remains an option, he also said he believes that regional security could be best achieved through political means.
“Tens of thousands” of mourners attended the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a leading Iranian dissident and reformist cleric, today. The funeral comes as there have been numerous reports of new crackdowns on dissident journalists and reform movement leaders.
And finally: A snowball fight in the nation’s capital is all fun and games…until a police officer pulls a gun.
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