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October 13, 2011 5:30 PM Thursday’s Mini-Report

By Steve Benen

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Iran: “President Obama on Thursday vowed to push for what he called the ‘toughest sanctions’ to punish Iranian officials whom he accused of complicity in a suspected plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. At the same time, State Department officials said United States officials had been in direct contact with the government of Iran over the accusations.”

* Slovakia’s back on track: “One day after a vote rejecting a beefed-up bailout fund to help contain Europe’s deepening debt crisis brought down the government in Slovakia, the country’s main political parties appeared to reach a compromise to approve the controversial measure later this week.”

* Trade bills pass Congress: “Congress passed three long-awaited free trade agreements on Wednesday, ending a political standoff that has stretched across two presidencies…. The approval of the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama is a victory for President Obama and proponents of the view that foreign trade can drive America’s economic growth in the face of rising protectionist sentiment in both political parties.”

* Better, but still too high: “New claims for unemployment benefits edged down last week, according to a government report on Thursday that pointed to a modest improvement in the labor market at the start of the fourth quarter. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 404,000, the Labor Department said, from an upwardly revised 405,000 the prior week.”

* What are Occupy Wall Street protesters so angry about? Henry Blodget answers the question in an epic post, filled with illustrative charts. It’s one of those items to bookmark for future reference.

* In an interesting move, Yahoo has split from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

* As if News Corp needed another headache, a new scandal has brought down a top executive at the European branch of the Wall Street Journal.

* A clear majority of Americans still favor the death penalty, but support has dropped to its lowest level in nearly four decades.

* OWS protests continue to include concerns over higher-ed costs: “According to a recent piece at CNBC, many of the protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement are demanding a redress of student loans. Unmanageable student loan debt is a fairly common feature of the people involved in protests.”

* And finally a friend of mine told me a joke last night I thought I’d pass along: “A public union employee, a Tea Party guy, and a bank CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the Tea Partier and says, “Watch out for that union guy; he wants your cookie.”

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • Danp on October 13, 2011 5:43 PM:

    The CEO takes all twelve cookies, turns to the Tea Partier and says, "this guy tried to take the last one. Thank God you were here."

  • meady on October 13, 2011 5:57 PM:

    The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the Tea Partier and says "I got mine, you got yours, why is he trying to take what we earned."

  • AndThenThere'sThat on October 13, 2011 5:58 PM:

    The approval of the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama is a victory for President Obama and proponents of the view that foreign trade can drive America's economic growth in the face of rising protectionist sentiment in both political parties.

    Wink, wink, nod, nod.

  • DougN on October 13, 2011 6:07 PM:

    'Better, but still too high: “New claims for unemployment benefits edged down last week'

    Steve,

    I love your blog, but I have to point out that saying the new unemployment claims is "better" is misleading.
    After a period of time, say, six months or 1 year from the "end" of a recession, it should be clear that small changes either way are absolutely not "better", conditions are "stuck." Large jumps of decreases in unemployment and large decreases in unemployment claims together can be viewed as better.

  • Trollop on October 13, 2011 6:26 PM:

    Gee, is it time to sing "Bomb-Iran" yet Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama? Do we really want to trumpet a new "war" dog and pony show?!! This administration is really trying to resemble that last one..

  • flubber on October 13, 2011 7:02 PM:

    Obama walked back claims of direct evidence of ties from the "assassination plot" to top officials in the Iranian government, as did Holder, if I am not mistaken.

    We can expect the hawkish press - NYT, WashPo, TNR, NPR, and all the usual-suspect liberal blogs which supported past wars on Muslims (Mr. Benen's, for instance) - to continue to catapult the propaganda.

    But would Obama bomb Iran? I'd guess no...

  • DAY on October 13, 2011 7:04 PM:

    concerning Iran:
    If I wanted to cause mischief, without leaving footprints, I might use a used car salesman and Mexican drug cartels.

    Something along the lines of the CIA using organized crime figures to assassinate Fidel Castro.

    Then again, if I REALLY wanted to kill the Saudi ambassador and embarrass the United States, I would not employ amateurs.

    I believe I have the makings of a screen play. Paging George Clooney. . .

  • Cha on October 13, 2011 7:22 PM:

    @ Trollop

    You need to open your eyes and ears if you think this admin is anything like bush and cheney. That's just lazyass talk.

  • Joe Friday on October 13, 2011 8:08 PM:

    "Iran: 'President Obama on Thursday vowed to push for what he called the 'toughest sanctions' to punish Iranian officials whom he accused of complicity in a suspected plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States'."

    As the Church Lady would say, "Now isn't that conveeeeeenient !".

  • Crissa on October 13, 2011 8:46 PM:

    You forgot the part where the union guy brought the cookies, but, old joke ^-^

  • JayinOregon on October 13, 2011 10:11 PM:

    "The average 2011 college graduate had $27,204 in student debt."
    -
    Assuming a full time job at $10/Hr x 2080 Hrs = 20,800 gross. Figure 80% net = $16K. Figure 10 years to pay off student debt. $2,720 per year. Is it reasonable to assume that a new grad can pay $2720/$16K ~ nearly 20% of 1st year net wages?

    Conclusion: Universities are a BUSINESS. Loaning money to students is a PROFITABLE BUSINESS.

  • Marc on October 14, 2011 7:00 AM:

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