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How effective all that will be is an unanswered question. No plan can change the fundamental economics of a bubble deflating or an economy stalling — of overpriced homes returning to more-reasonable prices and out-of-work homeowners not having the income to make mortgage payments. What this plan does offer, though, is a series of targeted interventions designed to help specific groups of borrowers, and by doing that to hopefully limit the knock-on damage caused by foreclosures, both to neighborhoods and the overall economy. "This will help some people who deserve to be helped," says Joe Gyrouko, a professor of real estate and finance at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "But will this stop the decline in housing prices? No."
Energy efficiency is surely the lowest hanging fruit in the quest to satisfy our national energy hunger (and to cure our addiction to oil)—household energy use totals about 22 percent of our nation’s total energy consumption, much of which is senselessly wasted through poor design and construction. And of the easy to reach fruits of efficiency, the very easiest to pluck might well be the weatherization of homes, which Amory Lovins, efficiency guru and founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, once called the “oil field in our attics.”
One of the biggest concerns is the shrinkage of the capital markets subsector, which contributed much of the profits the big banks reported during the last boom. Capital markets, which New York dominated, includes the selling and trading of stocks and debt, like the subprime mortgages that fueled the housing bubble.
Industry makes pitch that smartphones belong in classroom - International Herald Tribune: "Some critics already are denouncing the effort as a blatantly self-serving maneuver to break into the big educational market. But proponents of selling cellphones to schools counter that they are simply making the same kind of pitch that the computer industry has been profitably making to educators since the 1980s.
The only difference now between smartphones and laptops, they say, is that cellphones are smaller, cheaper and more coveted by students."
How Maine's GOP Senators Are Key to Obama's Agenda - TIME: "But what makes Snowe and Collins more powerful now is that they, along with Specter, are nearly the last survivors of a once common species of moderate Northeastern Republican. As the GOP's center of gravity moves to the right, the Democratic majority has fewer and fewer potential crossovers to choose from. That gives each woman enormous leverage in a Senate Republican caucus whose leaders cannot afford any defections if they are to sustain a filibuster. Both sides know that the math on any close vote is likely to come down to Snowe and Collins."
Jury acquits Portland bicyclist of resisting arrest - OregonLive.com: "A Multnomah County jury has thrown out charges that a 31-year-old cyclist resisted arrest after he rode by a Portland police officer without stopping, despite the officer's orders. The cyclist claimed it was dark, and the officer was dressed entirely in black.
The jury took two hours today to determine that the 'Rev.' Phil Sano, a well-known member of Portland's bicycle community, was not guilty of the misdemeanor."
Obama and the Huffington Post Question Spark More Questions - TIME: "Change in Washington comes in increments, and a door was cracked open on Feb. 9 when, in the first official press conference of the Obama Administration, the President took a question from a reporter who writes only for a Web outlet. Admittedly, said outlet was the Huffington Post (or, as it is called for short, the HuffPo), so the reporter was unlikely to throw a curveball. Nevertheless, the President, and with him the whole White House media shop, has crossed a Rubicon of sorts, acknowledging the equivalent legitimacy of an unapologetically unobjective media outlet, which lives nowhere but the Internet and which didn't even exist four years ago. (President Bush took questions from a 'Jeff Gannon,' but he was later found not to be a real Web journalist, nor a real Jeff Gannon, so he doesn't count.)"
We Are All Socialists Now | Newsweek Business | Newsweek.com: "The Obama administration is caught in a paradox. It must borrow and spend to fix a crisis created by too much borrowing and spending. Having pumped the economy up with a stimulus, the president will have to cut the growth of entitlement spending by holding down health care and retirement costs and still invest in ways that will produce long-term growth. Obama talks of the need for smart government. To get the balance between America and France right, the new president will need all the smarts he can summon."
Governor not rattled by blind-man humor - International Herald Tribune: "More nuanced is the case of the health care attack commercials that began this week, paid for by the state health workers' union and the association of hospitals. It goes after Paterson personally, and conspicuously includes a plaintive appeal from a blind man wearing sunglasses and sitting in a wheelchair. 'Why,' he asks the governor, 'are you doing this to me?'
The inclusion of this man, Juan Pietri of the Bronx, led to acid suggestions in some newspaper articles that the governor's critics were exploiting his blindness. Definitely not so, said representatives of the union and the hospital association.
Through them, Pietri issued a statement of his own asserting that 'nothing could be further from the truth' than to say he was put in the commercial to highlight the governor's disability.
To the relief of those groups, Paterson himself said he had 'absolutely no problem with their ads' and rejected any notion that they had hit 'below the belt.'"