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I already knew this

Nice that they’re catching up with the rest of us!

It’s time for the latest Piggie of the Week. Today: AP has a psychedelic awakening and lays down the law. Biblical law.

Poe at the billionaires’ bash

A story about a recent party in NYC was reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death,” but without the satisfying ending. More here.

There’s really no good reason why the Capitol Hill police have to act as the political attack team for the Republicans, is there?

WASHINGTON — In a stunning break with First Amendment policy, House Republicans directed Capitol Hill police to detain a highly regarded documentary crew that was attempting to film a Wednesday hearing on a controversial natural gas procurement practice. Republicans also denied the entrance of a credentialed ABC News news team that was attempting to film the event.

Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Gasland” was taken into custody by Capitol Hill police this morning, along with his crew, after Republicans objected to their presence, according to Democratic sources present at the hearing. The meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment had been taking place in room 2318 of the Rayburn building.
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$300 million

Of course, a lot of money went into Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign to help make that tax go away:

Since 2009, Pennsylvania has lost more than $300 million in revenue by not passing a tax on gas production from Marcellus Shale wells, according to The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

The Harrisburg-based tax and budget policy research nonprofit said its drilling tax ticker breached the benchmark on Monday, representing lost revenue Pennsylvania could be using to reduce cuts to state funding in education, health care and social services.

The money also could be used to fund environmental protection and conservation, and to mitigate impacts of drilling on local communities, the center said.

R.I.P.

Don Cornelius, 75, of Soul Train.

Same crap

Different decade. Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran!

Unprecedented

Hopefully, nothing will go wrong:

After drilling for two decades through more than two miles of antarctic ice, Russian scientists are on the verge of entering a vast, dark lake that hasn’t been touched by light for more than 20 million years.

Scientists are enormously excited about what life-forms might be found there but are equally worried about contaminating the lake with drilling fluids and bacteria, and the potentially explosive “de-gassing” of a body of water that has especially high concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen.

Speaking of birth control

Of course, all those women should just make lemonade out of lemons and give birth – because obviously, God wants them to do it:

Around one million packets of birth control tablets are being recalled in the US, as they might not prevent pregnancy.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer said a “packaging error” meant the doses were not correct.

It said the tablets did not pose any health dangers, but there was a risk of “unintended pregnancy”.

Pfizer is advising women affected to use non-hormonal forms of contraception immediately.

Fourteen lots of Lo/Ovral-28 tablets and 14 lots of Norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol tablets have been recalled. The lot numbers have been published on the company’s website.

Stacking the deck

You don’t suppose that placing these big bets against homeowner re-fis might lead to some problems down the road, do you? I mean, it’s not as if banks have ever done anything like this before:

Freddie Mac agreed last month to stop making new bets against American homeowners after its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, raised concerns, according to a statement the agency issued late Monday. Freddie, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, still retains $5 billion worth of such bets.

The agency, responding to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, said it had “identified concerns regarding the controls, including risk management, surrounding the inverse floaters,” as the investments at issue are known. The agency did not specify what it had found, but said Freddie agreed in December that “these transactions would not resume pending completion of [FHFA’s] examination work.”

The statement also said that Freddie had ceased making the deals earlier in 2011 but did not explain why.

Separately, the White House said the Department of the Treasury is “looking into” Freddie’s investments, and at least three senators called on Freddie not to bet against struggling homeowners.The mortgage-insurance company bought billions worth of complex mortgage-backed securities that profit if borrowers stay trapped in high interest rate home loans. The $5 billion figure released Monday afternoon is more than had been reported in the ProPublica-NPR investigation.

In late 2010 and early 2011, Freddie began dramatically increasing these multibillion-dollar deals. At the same time, Freddie also made it harder for homeowners to get out of their high-interest mortgages and into more affordable loans that could save them thousands of dollars a year. No evidence has emerged that these decisions were coordinated at the company, and Freddie has denied that they were.

But the deals highlight a conflict of interest: While Freddie’s charter calls for the company to make home loans more accessible, the company also has giant investment portfolios that could lose large amounts of money, at least in the short run, if too many borrowers refinance into more affordable loans.

At a press briefing today, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether Freddie Mac’s investment strategy contradicted President Barack Obama’s stated commitment to make homeowner refinancing more affordable. In his response, Carney stressed that the president does not directly control FHFA.”This is an independent institution with independent governance, so we don’t make those kinds of decisions,” Carney said.

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