Oil Prices

10 things you need to know today: December 3, 2014

The man who would be Sec Def. 

The man who would be Sec Def. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The Week

Obama picks Ash Carter as Defense secretary, Russia heads into a recession, and more

1. Obama to nominate former Pentagon official Ashton Carter to replace Hagel
President Barack Obama has picked Ashton Carter, a former high-ranking Pentagon official, to replace Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary, Obama administration officials said Tuesday. Hagel got the job over Carter in 2013, and later in the year Carter left due to a rift between the two. This time he was the last top prospect not to drop out of the running. A formal announcement is expected in days, after Carter is vetted. Carter is respected by Republican hawks, which is expected to help in confirmation hearings. [Politico, The New York Times]

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2. Russia enters recession as oil prices fall
Plummeting oil prices are pushing the Russian economy into a recession, officials in Moscow announced Tuesday. Russian leaders had been expecting their economy to grow in 2015 — but that was when they were assuming oil would remain at $100 a barrel. Revised estimates show that the country’s economy will contract by 0.8 percent if prices hover around $80 per barrel. With the ruble losing value and oil now around $71 per barrel, Moscow says under a more “pessimistic” scenario, with $60-per-barrel oil, its economy could drop by up to 4 percent. [CNN]

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3. Boehner argues against government shutdown over immigration
House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday urged fellow Republicans to avoid a government shutdown by approving a long-term government spending bill next week. Many conservatives want to use the bill to deny money the Homeland Security Department needs to carry out President Obama’s executive order shielding as many as 4.7 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Boehner reportedly argued for funding most federal programs through September, and revisiting Homeland Security’s budget in 2015, when the GOP will control the Senate. [Reuters]

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4. Police investigate Michael Brown’s stepfather for remarks during riot
St. Louis County police said Tuesday they were investigating Louis Head, the stepfather of Michael Brown, to see whether angry remarks he made incited rioting on the night a grand jury decided not to indict the white police officer who shot and killed the unarmed black teenager in August. A video reportedly surfaced in which Head tells an angry mob, “burn this bitch down,” shortly before protesters began burning cars. Police said the inquiry was part of a broader investigation of the violence. [The New York Times]

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5. Detroit public buildings lose power
A power outage caused by a “major cable failure” cut off electricity to Detroit’s fire stations, schools, and other public buildings on Tuesday. Traffic signals and the city’s People Mover shut off downtown, and firefighters spent much of the day rescuing people from elevators stuck in public buildings. The outage affected more than 900 sites, with some going without lights all day after the grid shut down around 10:30 a.m. [Detroit Free Press]

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6. Netanyahu fires two ministers and calls for early elections
Israel’s coalition government collapsed on Tuesday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his finance and justice ministers, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, saying they had “harshly attacked” him and his government. Netanyahu called for dissolving the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, andholding elections two years early so that he can get “a clear mandate to lead Israel.” The parties of Lapid and Livni had clashed with Netanyahu over a host of issues, most recently a proposed law declaring Israel a Jewish state. [BBC News]

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7. Hong Kong protest founders announce their “surrender”
Three founders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement announced that they would “surrender” to police on Wednesday. The trio — Occupy Central leader Benny Tai, and co-founders Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming — tearfully urged protesters to retreat from three major intersections they have been blocking since late September. While some protesters called the move a “betrayal,” teenage protest leader Joshua Wong, who began a hunger strike on Monday, praised Tai for his role starting the movement, and said the fight for free elections in the Chinese-run city would continue. [Agence France Presse]

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8. CDC considers call for stressing circumcision health benefits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is proposing federal recommendations that would state that all males, including teenage boys, should be counseled on the health benefits of circumcision. Studies in Africa over the last 15 years indicate that circumcision lowers men’s risk of HIV infection from heterosexual intercourse by 50 to 60 percent. The procedure also reduces the risk of herpes and human papillomavirus. The American Academy of Pediatrics said in 2012 that circumcision’s benefits outweigh its risks. [NPR]

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9. Woman sues Cosby, accusing him of sexual assault at the Playboy Mansion
A 55-year-old California woman, Judy Huth, filed a lawsuit against Bill Cosby on Tuesday, accusing the embattled comedian of sexually assaulting her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15. In the lawsuit, Huth says she and a friend met Cosby at a park, and that the assault occurred after Cosby gave her alcohol. The suit was the latest in a flurry of rape accusations against Cosby. Lawyers for Cosby, who has resisted commenting on the allegations, were not immediately available for comment. [Los Angeles Times]

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10. Rolling Stones sax player Bobby Keys dies
Bobby Keys, who played on-and-off with the Rolling Stones for decades, died on Tuesday at his Tennessee home after a long illness. He was 70. Keys played memorable sax solos on such Stones hits as Brown Sugar, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and Sweet Virginia. He also contributed to John Lennon’s Whatever Gets You Through the Night. “I have lost the largest pal in the world,” the Stones’ Keith Richards wrote in a statement, “and I can’t express the sense of sadness I feel, although Bobby would tell me to cheer up.” [The Associated Press]

10 things you need to know today: November 28, 2014

A boy waits outside a Toys R Us in New York City.

A boy waits outside a Toys R Us in New York City. (Getty/Andrew Burton)

The Week

Oil prices dive, millions shop for deals on Thanksgiving to beat Black Friday crowds, and more

1. OPEC rejects pressure to reduce production, sending oil prices plummeting
Oil prices dropped by 7 percent to $69 per barrel on Thursday, the lowest level since May 2010. The dive came after OPEC announced that it was leaving production levels unchanged, dashing expectations that the group of leading oil exporters would slash production to boost prices. Saudi Arabia pushed to keep production levels steady despite pressure from Russia, Nigeria, and Venezuela, which need higher prices to bolster their economies. [CNN]

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2. More than 25 million hit stores before Black Friday
Millions of Americans hit the stores before Thanksgiving was over, not waiting until Black Friday to hunt for deals as the holiday shopping season began. Retailers offered deep discounts on TVs, mobile devices, computers, and other items. Online sales were up 14 percent on Thanksgiving, and 96 million people are expected to go shopping on Black Friday. Roughly 140 million are expected to shop in stores or online at some point over the Black Friday weekend. [The Chicago Tribune]

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3. Ferguson tensions ease on Thanksgiving
Protests calmed in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on Thursday, with no signs of the sporadic violence and looting that have prevailed in the three nights since a grand jury announced it would not charge white police officer Darren Wilson for the August shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. In New York City, at least seven protesters were arrested for incidents during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In Los Angeles, authorities released 90 protesters arrested Tuesday and Wednesday so they could go home for Thanksgiving dinner. [Reuters]

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4. Storm leaves 344,000 New England customers without power
The first major winter storm of the year left 344,000 customers in northern New England without power on Thanksgiving, after disrupting holiday travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year. Record snowfall piled up across the region, snapping tree branches and downing power lines. Officials said it could take several days to restore all power. “This is not something you should try to wait out in your house,” said Michael Todd, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety. [The Associated Press]

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5. 40 killed in Nigeria bus station bombing
A bomb blast demolished a bus station in northeast Nigeria on Thursday, killing 40 people. A witness said the explosion beside a busy crossroads set several buses on fire. “There were bodies everywhere on the ground,” the witness, mechanic Abubakar Adamu, said. The bombing took place about 20 miles west of a town called Mubi, near the Cameroon border, that was seized by members of the Islamist group Boko Haram last month. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. [Reuters]

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6. Gunmen targets public buildings in Austin
Police in Austin, Texas, shot and killed a man suspected of opening fire on three downtown public buildings — the Mexican consulate, the federal courthouse, and police headquarters — early Friday. Police said that the suspected attacker was killed near his car, and that a bomb squad was investigating suspicions that the vehicle had an improvised explosive device inside. Officers also are checking the man’s residence for explosives. [USA Today]

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7. Mexican president, under pressure, proposes sweeping policing reforms
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto proposed broad policing reforms on Thursday after two months of criticism over the kidnapping and presumed murder of 43 student-teachers. Witnesses blamed local police for the abductions, and the mayor of Iguala, in Guerrero state, and his wife have been accused of masterminding the crime along with gang members. Pena Nieto proposed putting the 1,800 municipal police forces under state control, giving the federal government power to dissolve corrupt local governments, and establishing a national 911 system. [The New York Times]

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8. Boys rescued two hours after being buried by snowplow
Two boys were rescued Thursday two hours after they were buried in a snow bank by a snowplow operator who did not see them as he cleared a parking lot in Newburgh, New York. The boys had been building a snow fort when the plow operator pushed snow over them. The boys, one 11 years old and the other 9, were taken to a hospital. Searchers, alerted by the boys’ parents after they failed to go home, found the boys around 2 a.m. after seeing a half-buried shovel. [The Associated Press]

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9. Bloodhound named Nathan wins Best in Show at National Dog Show
Nathan the bloodhound won Best in Show at the 2014 National Dog Show on Thursday. The playful, 4-year-old crowd favorite won the hound category, then outdid the winners of the other groups, including Freda the French bulldog and Bogey the samoyed, to take the top honor. “He just came out and shined today,” owner-handler Heather Helmer said. “Kissing the judge, stretching and scratching — he always pulls those antics and he knows I think it’s funny, that’s why he does it.” [NBC Sports]

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10. Author P.D. James dies at 94
British crime novelist P.D. James died Thursday at her home in Oxford, England. She was 94. James began her literary career at 42, and became known for her cerebral murder mysteries featuring memorable characters such as Scotland Yard detective Adam Dalgliesh and private investigator Cordelia Gray. Her stories often included gruesome details. “Let those who want pleasant murders read Agatha Christie,” James once said. “Murder isn’t pleasant. It’s an ugly thing and a cruel thing.” [The Washington Post]

Mary Landrieu, Mark Begich Defend Oil Companies Against Democrats

This is why the Dems are so screwed.  The GOPers walk in lockstep (with an exception here or there) while the Dems have three factions, Blue Dogs, Progressives and Liberals.  The GOP messaging is consistent.  The Dems are all over the place!

“A house divided…”

Huffington Post

The Democratic attempt to take on the major oil companies is being challenged from within, with representatives of producing states rushing to the defense of the dirty-energy industry, complicating the plan to present a stark contrast between the two parties.

Democratic Sens. Mark Begich and Mary Landrieu, who represent Alaska and Louisiana, respectively, each took to the Senate floor Wednesday to decry their party’s attempt to strip tax breaks from the top oil companies.

Landrieu bemoaned the “inherent unfairness” of closing the tax loophole, insisting that doing so “will not reduce gasoline prices by one penny.”

Begich chided the party for putting message over substance. “It is a gimmick, a gimmick to get the next week of activity, and get some press out there,” he said. “Picking on one industry because it sounds good, rates good in the polls, gets you a couple of headlines is not what the American people want us to do here. If anything, they’re getting fed up with that. … Let’s stop the headline-grabbing and get serious about the energy security.”

The infighting couldn’t come at a worse time for Democratic leaders. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), is reportedly “leaning towards” voting to strip the tax breaks, citing “record profits” that come from the companies’ “tax advantage,” according to a tweet from CNN’s Ted Barrett.

Continued here…

Did You Know…?

All topics come from The Huffington Post:

Facebook Credits Program Pays You To Watch Video Ads

Facebook introduced a new program on Thursday that attempts to incentivize users to watch ads… by paying them in Facebook Credits, the company’s virtual currency. Just last month, Facebook finally announced Credits could be cashed in on its Groupon competitor, Facebook Deals.     More…

 

Facebook Deals Tips: 11 Things You Need To Know

The daily and social deals space is getting hotter everyday — Google launched Offers just last week — and Facebook showed up early this morning with a serious offering that could shift the tech world’s intense focus away from industry darling Groupon.

Facebook Deals is noticeably different from competitors like Gilt, Groupon and LivingSocial, so click on to see what sets it apart, how to find deals, adjust your notifications, and why the News Feed is so important.   See slide show of FaceBook Deals here…

 

Google Business Photos Brings Street View Inside

TechCrunch reports that Marissa Mayer, Google VP of Location and Local Services, told a crowd at the Social Loco social networking conference that Google Business Photos will soon be bringing Street View indoors. With the new service, users will be able to explore restaurants, stores and other businesses in a panorama interface that’s very similar to Google’s Street View. While sites like Yelp let businesses and users upload photos, Google Business Photos is relying on its own photographers to populate the pages, and Google requires businesses to opt in before letting photographers visit businesses. Think of the photographers like flesh and blood Googlemobiles.     More here…

 

Marijuana Crop Found Near Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan Compound

Details are continuing to emerge regarding Osama bin Laden’s top-secret Abbottabad compound, but the discovery of some high-strength marijuana plants just yards from the home has set the blogosphere aflame with speculation.

Said to be worth $1 million (though that estimate is now hotly debated), the home of the world’s most feared terrorist has attracted crowds of Pakistanis and media to its now sealed-off gates. But a stroll around the 20-foot-tall, barbed wire-ringed walls led CNN’s Nic Robertson to the cannibis crop, barely hidden alongside a garden of cabbages and potatoes.   More here…

 

Oil Prices Plunge In Record Sell-Off

Oil prices took a nosedive Thursday in a historic selloff, erasing weeks of gains and indicating that the months-long climb in energy prices may have hit a ceiling.

Crude oil plunged 10 percent as startled investors unloaded their positions and a weeklong decline accelerated into an outright freefall. The price of U.S. crude went from triple digits to double digits, falling below $100 after opening at close to $110. Brent crude, a European benchmark, lost $12 at one point in a sell-off that exceeded the one following Lehman Brothers’ collapse, Reuters reported.        More…