"Morning Briefing: November 30, 2011"
British public sector workers are taking part in the largest strike in a generation to protest austerity measures. Government officials “across Britain said thousands of schools had closed because teachers were on strike and many parents had taken a day off from their own jobs to look after children.”
A Pew Research poll finds that more Americans now disagree with the Tea Party, including voters in districts represented by one of the 60 Tea Party Caucus members in Congress. Twenty-seven percent disagree with the Tea Party now, an opinion that “has flipped since a year ago” when 27 percent agreed with the movement and only 22 percent disagreed.
So far, the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has only helped 900,000 homeowners refinance their mortgages, instead of the expected four to five million. But starting in early December, banks will begin using new criteria that could double the number of homeowners helped.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Burma today, becoming the first U.S. top diplomat to visit the country in more than 50 years. She is expected to press Burmese leaders on suspected weapons trades with North Korea and bring potential incentives for the country’s leaders to continue political reforms. “We and many other nations are quite hopeful that these flickers of progress…will be ignited into a movement for change,” Clinton said.
The U.K. will remove diplomats from its embassy in Tehran a day after Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy there, officials announced today. Iranian protesters, angry over aggressive new sanctions by Britain, tore down the British flag, chanted “Death to England,” and briefly detained six staff members yesterday.
Budgets are strained as the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches rose 17 percent from 2006 to 2011 as unemployment and home losses pushed millions of children into the program for the first time. The number of students in the program is now 21 million, up from 18 million four years ago, and 11 states saw enrollment increase by 25 percent or more.
Smarting from a judge’s rejection of its settlement with Citigroup, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Congress to enact legislation that will allow the SEC “to impose fines up to nine times greater than the maximum currently allowed by U.S. law” on firms and people that commit fraud. If these powers had been used in the Citigroup case, the maximum penalty would have been $1.44 billion rather than $160 million.
And finally: Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the man who already has lots of gold bullion stashed in his basement? Look no further than the The Ron Paul Family Cookbook, which will have you cooking up anti-Fed conspiracy theories between 28 pages of “tasty” meals. The book also comes “packed full of photos of the entire Paul family.”