WSJ: Americans Worked Less, Watched More TV in 2012
With the economy struggling to find its footing, Americans spent less time at work last year and found more time for leisure activities such as watching television, a new government survey finds. The average American aged 15 or older spent three hours, 32 minutes a day doing work-related activities last year, according to the American Time Use Survey released by the Labor Department on Thursday. That is down from 2011, when time spent on work jumped from three hours and 30 minutes to three hours and 34 minutes. While such changes may not seem big, average yearly changes in time spent on different activities tend to be small, and even minor changes are significant. The survey, which has been conducted annually since 2003 and includes both employed and unemployed persons, suggests America's sluggish recovery continues to hamper workers. While the U.S. unemployment rate fell last year from 8.3% to 7.8%—it is now at 7.6%—other trends are likely holding down average hours spent at work. The number of part-time workers was higher in 2012 than the year before, for example.
CNN: Colorado's devastating Black Forest Fire 100% contained
One of the most destructive fires in Colorado history was 100% contained Thursday after burning 16,000 acres in nine days, a spokesman for the county said. Officials made the declaration after extinguishing small areas of smoke that kept popping up in one small corner of the Black Forest Fire, El Paso County spokesman Dave Rose said. Sheriff Terry Maketa allowed residents back in Thursday night. The 16,000-acre Black Forest Fire killed two people and destroyed more than 500 structures, and it prompted thousands of people to flee. "This is the worst fire in Colorado history in terms of damage," Rose told CNN. Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the fire. Investigators scouring a 24-square-foot area where the fire is thought to have begun on June 11 have "all but ruled out natural causes," Maketa said.
ALSO SEE: Denver Post: Colorado wildfires burning at multiple sites, some at zero containment
CNN: California to challenge court order to release 10,000 inmates by year's end
California Gov. Jerry Brown will seek an immediate stay of what he called an "unprecedented" federal court order to release almost 10,000 inmates to relieve prison overcrowding by the end of the year, he said Thursday. A three-judge federal court panel ordered the state to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity by December 31 and threatened to find the state in contempt if California does not report on its progress every two weeks, Thursday's ruling said. California has the nation's largest prison system and says it has been reducing overcrowding.
Reuters Exclusive: Spyware claims emerge in row over Chinese dissident at NYU
When Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in the United States in May last year he was given a fellowship at New York University, use of a Greenwich Village apartment, and a pile of gifts from supporters, including smartphones and an iPad. But at least two of the gadgets presented to Chen as gifts may not have been quite what they seemed: They included software intended to spy on the blind dissident, according to Jerome Cohen, an NYU professor who has been Chen's mentor, and another source familiar with the episode. Like nearly everything surrounding Chen these days, the existence of the spyware is in dispute, and only adds to the public recriminations there have been between NYU and Chen's supporters over events surrounding the end of his fellowship.
CNN: 4 bodies found in Arizona desert
Authorities found four human bodies abandoned in the Arizona desert Thursday. Initial indications point to exposure as the probable cause of death, said Victor Brabble, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "It is probable that they are immigrants attempting to cross into the U.S.," he said. "However, we don't have enough to draw a conclusion on it now." The bodies were found near Gila Bend, Arizona, about 70 miles north of the border. They have not been identified, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said. Immigrants often try to cross the Sonoran Desert's harsh terrain, and there are many heat-related deaths, Brabble said Thursday.
CNN: Obama to nominate former top Bush official to head FBI
President Barack Obama will formally nominate James Comey, a top Justice Department official during the Bush administration, to head the FBI, a White House official said on Thursday. The announcement is expected at a White House ceremony on Friday. If confirmed by the Senate, Comey would replace Robert Mueller, who is leaving in September after leading the bureau for 12 years. Comey is a former prosecutor who worked in New York and Virginia, where his caseload included terrorism, organized crime and fraud.
ALSO SEE: BuzzFeed: Obama’s FBI Nominee Is More Supportive Of Marriage Equality Than His New Bosses
NYT: White House Offers Stealth Campaign to Support Immigration Bill
The hide-out has no sign on the door, but inside Dirksen 201 is a spare suite of offices the White House has transformed into its covert immigration war room on Capitol Hill. Strategically located down the hall from the Senate Judiciary Committee in one of the city’s massive Congressional office buildings, the work space normally reserved for the vice president is now the hub of a stealthy legislative operation run by President Obama’s staff. Their goal is to quietly secure passage of the first immigration overhaul in a quarter century. “We are trying hard not to be heavy handed about what we are doing,” said Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and the president’s point person on immigration.
CNN: Embarrassing setback for House GOP leaders with Farm Bill defeat
In a surprising and embarrassing setback for House Republican leaders, legislation to overhaul the nation's farm programs failed in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives Thursday. The bill was defeated by a coalition of House conservatives who said the bill spent too much on food stamps and nutrition programs and House Democrats who opposed both the cuts to those food stamp programs and a GOP-backed amendment that added new work requirements for those applying for assistance. The measure failed 195 – 234, with 62 Republicans joining 172 Democrats to oppose the bill, and just 24 Democrats voting with 171 Republicans to approve it.
CNN: Senate immigration deal includes tougher border security
A border agent every 1,000 feet, every hour of every day, supported by 700 miles of fencing along the Mexican frontier. No green cards for the 11 million immigrants living illegally in America until those steps and others to enhance border controls are taken. And none of it increases the federal deficit or debt. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a compromise on Thursday intended to ensure Senate passage of a major immigration reform bill with enough Republican support to persuade the GOP-controlled House to also take up the measure that is a priority of President Barack Obama. The bipartisan amendment would require 20,000 more border agents, completing 700 miles of fence along the boundary with Mexico, and deploying $3.2 billion in technology upgrades similar to equipment used by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
ALSO SEE: Politico: Inside the border deal that almost failed
Fox: Coburn asks USDA to explain spending thousands on alcohol and free lunches
There is such a thing as a free lunch – just ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Whether it’s fair or not is another question. The department is facing criticism from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn for shelling out massive amounts of money on subsidies for island homes for the wealthy, vodka and celebrity chef junkets. Also getting funded are free lunches for people who don’t seem to be in need. Coburn, the resident congressional waste watcher, outlined four programs in a letter dated June 19 to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack that he believes squanders taxpayer dollars. Coburn says since the sequester, the Agriculture Department has blown $45,000 on a West Virginia Bloody Mary mix company and spent thousands more to help vineyards across the country.
Politico: Senators close to student loan deal
A bipartisan group of senators is close to reaching an agreement to stop student loan rates from doubling on July 1, aides said Thursday afternoon. The legislation would represent a compromise between the plan pitched by President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans. It would link the rate of new loans to Treasury bonds and lock the rate in for the life of the loan — a key priority for the White House that was missing from a House Republican bill. Senate Democratic leadership has not signed off yet on the deal and it’s unclear when the proposal could get a vote with immigration legislation still waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.
Time: Has Jeb's Time Come?
It's one of the more interesting what-ifs of the past few decades. What would have happened if both George W. and Jeb Bush had won their gubernatorial bids in 1994? Which brother would have run for President in 2000 against Al Gore? Late in George W. Bush's second presidential term, I asked his father this question. The senior Bush shrugged, waving off the hypothetical. "Who knows?" he replied. "Didn't happen." Then, after the briefest of pauses, the 41st President added, "If Jeb wants his shot, he should have it. He's done the work, been a governor–a very fine governor, I might add–and if he wants to go for it, I hope he does." That hope, it is safe to say, endures. No one who knows George H.W. Bush seriously doubts that the former President would like to see Jeb mount a campaign for the White House. Barbara Bush has expressed skepticism. "There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we've had enough Bushes," she told NBC's Today show last April. Asked about 2016 on ABC's This Week last Sunday, Jeb said, "I think we've got a split ballot amongst the Bush senior family. Pretty sure that's the case."
National Journal: Aaron Schock Launches Fundraising Campaign for Young Lawmakers
GOP Rep. Aaron Schock is launching a new fundraising effort aimed at helping younger Republican lawmakers, and boosting his profile as a rainmaker. Schock's “30 for 30” campaign is working to raise $30,000 for most GOP lawmakers in their 30s. In the 2014 election cycle, Schock wants to raise money mostly for the roughly 20 GOP members under 40 and then expand the list in 2014 to include candidates. The effort is also an acknowledgment that Republicans have to do better among younger voters, and Schock thinks electing younger members will help.
Politico: 'Battleground Texas' plans D.C. fundraiser
The Democratic group aiming to transform Texas into a swing state will hold its first Washington, D.C. fundraiser early next month, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO. Battleground Texas, the organization launched by former Obama campaign officials with the goal of helping Democrats compete in the nation’s largest GOP stronghold, is inviting supporters to a reception at The Hamilton on July 11. Battleground Texas executive director Jenn Brown and senior adviser Jeremy Bird, the Obama campaign’s former national field director, are scheduled to appear at the event.
The Hill: Gomez leans on Scott Brown for help at close of Massachusetts Senate race
Republican Gabriel Gomez is turning to former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) for help in the closing days of the Massachusetts Senate campaign, hoping the former lawmaker will propel him to an upset over Democratic front-runner Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) in Tuesday's election. Brown will appear at a campaign rally with Gabriel Gomez on Monday night, a Gomez campaign aide tells The Hill. Brown's appearance could offer Gomez a much-needed boost of enthusiasm as the campaign closes.
The Guardian: Revealed: the top secret rules that allow NSA to use US data without a warrant
Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant. The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009. They detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target "non-US persons" under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance. The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.
WaPo: In Syrian chemical weapons claim, criticism about lack of transparency
Despite months of laboratory testing and scrutiny by top U.S. scientists, the Obama administration’s case for arming Syria’s rebels rests on unverifiable claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, according to diplomats and experts. The United States, Britain and France have supplied the United Nations with a trove of evidence, including multiple blood, tissue and soil samples, that U.S. officials say proves that Syrian troops used the nerve agent sarin on the battlefield. But the nature of the physical evidence — as well as the secrecy over how it was collected and analyzed — has opened the administration to criticism by independent experts, who say there is no reliable way to assess its authenticity. The technical data presented by the three Western powers is of limited value to U.N. inspectors trying to determine whether Syria’s combatants used chemical weapons during the country’s 25-month-old conflict. Under the United Nations’ terms of reference, only evidence personally collected by its inspectors can be used to fashion a final judgment.
ALSO SEE: Reuters: Four U.S. senators seek to bar military aid to Syrian rebels
CNN: Taliban talks offer hope for family of only American POW in Afghanistan
Bowe Bergdahl, the only American POW in Afghanistan, has doubtless been at the forefront of his parents' minds, if not atop the national conscience. It's not that the American people don't care; it's more that updates about the 27-year-old soldier have been sparse, as his family has remained reticent for fear of jeopardizing his safety. With news that the U.S. will engage in peace talks with the Taliban and encouraging signs that Bergdahl will be included in a prisoner swap, we'll likely be hearing more about the man whom friends and family describe as an adventurer and a gentleman. The U.S. expects prisoner exchange to be a topic of the talks, which are slated to take place "in the coming days," in Doha, Qatar, said State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki during a Thursday briefing.
ALSO SEE: CNN: At their office in Doha, Taliban make changes
ALSO SEE: Foreign Policy: Why Is China Talking to the Taliban?
NPR: At A Texas Base, Battling Army's Top Threat: Suicide
Suicide killed more American troops last year than combat in Afghanistan, and that is likely to be the case again this year. According to the Pentagon, there were at least 349 confirmed suicides in 2012, compared with 310 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan in the same period. Historically, the suicide rate in the military has hovered around half the civilian rate. But in 2004, that changed: The rate doubled, and now it's on track to overtake the civilian rate. The causes and remedies of the suicide epidemic are complicated, but one Army base in Texas has bucked the trend: At Fort Bliss, the suicide rate actually went down last year. In fact, it's declined consistently over the past three years: down to five suicides in 2012 from 12 in 2010. "It was kind of a no-brainer," says Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard, who last month finished three years as the top commander at Fort Bliss. "Our focus was getting our soldiers to [get] help."
TRANSPORTATION, REGULATION and JUSTICE:
WNBC: Scare in the Air: 2 Planes in Near-Miss Above NYC
Two planes came dangerously close to each other in the air over New York City, NBC 4 New York has learned. The near-miss at 3:45 p.m. on June 13 is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration. A Delta Airlines Boeing 747 arriving at Kennedy Airport missed an approach, and ended up in the same direction as a Shuttle America Embraer 170 regional jet leaving LaGuardia's Runway 13, according to the FAA. "The two aircraft were turning away from each other at the point where they lost the required amount of separation," the FAA said in a statement. One source estimated the planes came as close as 100 feet within each other, though the FAA would not confirm that.
WSJ: FAA to Relax Rules for Gadgets in Flight
Airline passengers irritated at having to turn off their devices could soon see some reprieve, with regulators set to allow wider use of gadgets in flight. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to relax the ban on using some types of personal-electronic devices at low altitudes, allowing passengers leeway during taxiing and even takeoffs and landings, according to industry officials and draft recommendations prepared by a high-level advisory panel to the agency. For fliers, the new rules would likely mean an end to familiar admonitions to turn off and stow all electronic devices. Cellphone calls are expected to remain off limits, however. The draft doesn't make any recommendations regarding phone use because the FAA didn't authorize the panel to delve into that particularly controversial area. Details are still being debated by the group and inside the FAA and could change. Still, the draft report reflects a consensus that the existing rules, essentially unchanged since the 1960s, have been overtaken by dramatic changes in technology and passenger expectations.
ALSO SEE: CNN: FAA reconsiders limits on consumer electronics in the sky
Fox: American who allegedly fought with Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria indicted
Ex-U.S. soldier Eric Harroun, who allegedly fought alongside an Al Qaeda affiliate against the forces of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the nation’s ongoing civil war, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on two charges related to his activities in Syria. Harroun, a Phoenix native, was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to use destructive devices overseas, according to a U.S. Department of Justice Press release. The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Harroun, 30, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted of the second charge. The charge of providing material support carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
CBS: FDA approves over-the-counter sales of Plan B One-Step for all ages
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Plan B One-Step without a prescription for all women. The FDA announced on Thursday that it would allow all women with child-bearing potential to purchase the emergency contraceptive over-the-counter without any age or point-of-sale barriers. Plan B-One Step (levonorgestrel) is a form of the "morning-after pill," a type of emergency contraception that drastically reduces the chance of pregnancy after a woman has engaged in unprotected sex. There are currently three types of morning-after pills for sale in the U.S.: Plan B One-Step, Plan B, and ella. Plan B is currently available for women 17 and older over the counter, and requires a prescription for those under the age limit. Ella requires a prescription regardless of age.
NYT: Weiner Wants City to Test Single-Payer Health Care
Vowing to “make New York City the single-payer laboratory in the country” if he is elected mayor, Anthony D. Weiner on Thursday presented an ambitious plan to create a Medicare-like system for the coverage of municipal workers, retirees and uninsured immigrant residents left out of the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Weiner, a Democrat who championed a Medicare-for-all style of health care as a congressman, said his plan could curb the rise of $15.5 billion in city spending on health care and save money for raises for teachers and other workers, mainly by using the city’s muscle to reduce the profits or the role of private insurance companies.
Boston Globe: Hillary Clinton has dinner with Mayor Thomas Menino in Boston
Hillary Clinton-the subject of incessant speculation about a potential presidential run in 2016 – made a quick, low-profile visit to Boston on Wednesday. The former secretary of state was in town for a speaking engagement, and had a discreet dinner with Mayor Thomas M. Menino at Hamersley’s Bistro in the South End. The two have some shared history: Menino endorsed Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. Both are also in transitory phases of their careers. Clinton is out of government for the first time in years, while Menino is preparing to end his two-decade reign in City Hall.
Des Moines Register: Two Iowa leaders on ’12 Ron Paul campaign might compete for U.S. Senate
Both the chairman and the vice chairman of Ron Paul’s Iowa presidential campaign are now seriously considering running for U.S. Senate. Conservative activists Drew Ivers, who was Paul’s 2012 Iowa chairman, and David Fischer, who was vice chairman, are making moves toward a possible bid for the seat U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin will leave open in 2014. Four Republicans are already declared candidates and at least six others are contemplating it.
San Jose Mercury News: Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown back down on attempt to weaken open records law
In a resounding victory for open government advocates and the California media, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature on Thursday backed away from plans to make the state's open-records law essentially optional for cities and other local agencies. State lawmakers were hit with a torrent of criticism from newspapers around the state, as well opposition from everyone from liberal environmentalists to conservatives, who feared the change approved by the Legislature last week would have severely limited the public's right to know what their government is up to. After deciding last week to pull about $20 million for local agencies to respond to requests made under the California Public Records Act - signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1968 - Brown and Senate leaders reversed course Thursday, a day after the Assembly did the same.
The Detroit News: Snyder blasts Senate for shelving Medicaid bill
Republican senators dealt Gov. Rick Snyder’s agenda a major setback Thursday when the Senate declined to vote on a massive expansion of the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor in the face of conservative opposition. With a narrow timetable for Michigan to decide whether it will add more than 400,000 low-income residents to its Medicaid rolls, Snyder offered an unusual criticism of fellow Republicans on Thursday for adjourning for a two-month summer recess. “Take a vote, not a vacation,” Snyder said about Senate Republicans. “I call on Michiganders to stand with me, (and) I ask you to sustain that effort until we get that ‘yes’ vote.”
CNN: Calgary flooding could force up to 100,000 from homes
As many as 100,000 residents of Calgary, Alberta, could face evacuation because of flooding, the director of emergency management said early Friday. Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for 20 communities, Bruce Burrell said. Parts of of southern Alberta face rising floodwaters and the possibility of more rain. The levels of the Bow and Elbow rivers are expected to peak overnight, but not drop until late Saturday at the earliest, he said. "I have never experienced any flooding of this magnitude," he added. There have been no initial reports of deaths or injuries.
CNN: Brazilian protests surge again after bus fare victory
A massive crowd of demonstrators swelled around an iconic church in the heart of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, shouting "down with corruption" and "I can live without the World Cup." CNN affiliate Band News reported that police used tear gas in some areas of the city as clashes erupted. Police initially reported tens of thousands of protesters in Rio de Janeiro but later said the crowds had grown to more than 300,000 people. One death was reported in Sao Paulo state, where a young man was run over by an SUV at an intersection during a demonstration, state police said. Outside the Candelaria Church, organizers called for protesters to march peacefully as they listed a wide variety of demands directed at the South American country's government.
Reuters: Greek coalition in disarray, small party considers quitting
Greece's small Democratic Left party could pull out of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's ruling coalition after talks to resume state television broadcasts collapsed, party officials said on Thursday, plunging the nation into fresh turmoil. Lawmakers from the leftist party – which was angered by the abrupt shutdown of broadcaster ERT last week – will meet at 0730 GMT (0330 ET) on Friday to decide whether to continue backing Samaras, who in turn warned he was ready to press ahead without them.
CNN: Spain arrests eight suspects linked to al Qaeda
Security forces arrested eight members of a group linked to al Qaeda on Friday in a Spanish enclave in North Africa, authorities said. "We have broken up a network responsible for sending combatants to al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups operating in Syria," the Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement. The suspects were captured in Ceuta, a Spanish enclave that borders Morocco. Authorities said the network was based in Ceuta and the nearby Moroccan city of Fnideq. It recruited, trained and paid for terrorists to fight in other countries.
WSJ: Germany Said to Block EU-Turkey Accession Talks
An attempt to break the three-year stalemate in Turkey's accession talks with the European Union appears to be in danger because of Ankara's recent crackdown on antigovernment protesters. The EU was expected to open negotiations on regional issues with Turkey on June 26. That would have been the first time in three years that the two sides had opened one of the 35 policy "chapters" that Ankara must satisfy to join the EU. But at a meeting Thursday of officials from the 27 EU member states, Germany refused to agree to give the go-ahead, according to three officials. The decision has to be unanimous. The diplomats said Germany raised technical concerns about regional issues specifically, but added that Berlin's real concern was advancing the accession process in the aftermath of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on protesters in Turkey.
Jerusalem Post: Palestinian Authority PM Hamdallah resigns
Less than a month after he was sworn in, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Thursday abruptly submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas. PA officials in Ramallah said Abbas would decide in the coming hours whether to accept the resignation. Hamdallah, who until recently was president of An- Najah University in Nablus, offered his resignation even though Palestinians were still publishing advertisements in the media congratulating him and his new ministers. A source close to Hamdallah said he submitted his letter of resignation to Hussein al- A’raj, director of the PA president’s bureau. The source attributed the move to a power struggle between Hamdallah and his two deputies – Muhammad Mustafa and Ziad Abu Amr – who were appointed by Abbas.
HuffPo: Violence Against Women Is A 'Global Health Problem Of Epidemic Proportions,' Says WHO
About one in three women worldwide experience sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives, according to a World Health Organization report released Thursday. Put together by the WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, the report says 35 percent of women around the world are victims of sexual or physical violence, and that assault at the hands of an intimate partner is by far the most common form of such violence. In fact, a whopping 30 percent of women globally were found to be domestic violence victims. “These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO, in a statement. “We also see that the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.”
CNNMoney: Dow plunges on Fed fears
Wall Street suffered its worst day of the year Thursday, one day after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke raised fears the central bank may be preparing to wind down its stimulus policies this year. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled 353 points, or 2.3%. That marked the biggest one-day point drop since November 2011. Including Wednesday's losses, the Dow has erased more than 550 points in two days. Despite the punishing losses, the Dow has seen much darker days. It fell 778 points on Sept. 29, 2008, after Congress rejected a $700 billion plan to rescue the banking industry. (Track the Dow 30) The S&P 500 sank 2.5% Thursday, logging its biggest percentage drop since November 2011. The Nasdaq sank more than 2.3%.
WSJ: Distress Signs Test Beijing's Resolve
Beijing's determination to ride out increasing economic headwinds without resorting to its usual interventions is heightening anxiety in markets around the world. Concern that leaders are offering neither stimulus nor other ways to address mounting evidence of economic weakness grew after a preliminary gauge suggested that China's crucial manufacturing sector contracted faster in June than in May. At the same time, a shortage of cash has intensified this week, with sudden heavy selling in the bond market and companies turning to Hong Kong for funds. Early Friday, rates in China's money markets fell sharply on rumors that Beijing had ordered its big banks to loosen up cash. Still, they remain more than double than average for the year, and the turbulence suggests continued uncertainty in the market for cash in coming days.
CNNMoney: Surging home sales raise new housing bubble fears
Home sales and prices continued to climb in May, raising the prospect of a new housing bubble unless there is a significant increase in home building. "The home price growth is too fast, and only additional supply from new homebuilding can moderate future price growth," said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. He said there needs to be a 50% increase in home building. The median home price jumped 8% from the previous month to $208,000, according to NAR. While month-to-month price swings are not unusual, the year-over-year rise is now 15%, and prices are at levels last seen in the summer of 2008, just before the bursting of the housing bubble.
Financial Times: Eurozone bailout fund given power to ‘directly recapitalise’ banks
Eurozone finance ministers agreed to give their €500bn bailout fund the power to pump cash directly into teetering banks on Thursday night, but only after national governments share the burden by first making their own capital investment. The power to “directly recapitalise” banks through the fund, the European Stability Mechanism, was hailed by leaders as a key achievement to help eurozone countries avoid the fate of Ireland, Spain and Cyprus, where national governments were put at risk of a cut-off from financial markets when they were unable to deal with massive bank bailouts on their own.