Today’s edition of quick hits:
* Mixed economic news: “A monthly survey released Tuesday shows consumers’ confidence in the economy in December surged to the highest level since April and was near a post-recession peak. But a separate private report said home prices in most major cities in the United States fell for the second straight month in October.”
* What changes when people are looking: “Residents of the Syrian city of Homs said the government pulled some of its tanks from the streets on Tuesday morning, shortly before Arab League observers arrived to monitor pledges by the government to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from residential areas.”
* President Obama has two new nominees for the Federal Reserve’s board of governors: “Jeremy C. Stein, a Harvard professor who worked briefly for the Obama administration in early 2009, has particular expertise in the workings of financial markets. Jerome H. Powell, currently a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, brings private sector experience in the same area. He worked for almost a decade as a partner at the Carlyle Group, a private equity fund. Mr. Powell also served as Treasury under secretary for finance in the administration of President George H. W. Bush.”
* An unflattering portrait: “Japan’s response to the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was flawed by poor communication and delays in releasing data on dangerous radiation leaks at the facility, which was struck by an earthquake-triggered tsunami on March 11, a government-appointed investigative panel has found.”
* A more specific kind of class gap: “[T]he financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened considerably…. Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home Âequity. Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly.”
* Conservatives are spreading a rumor that every Chevy Volt is costing U.S. taxpayers $250,000. The rumor is, of course, completely wrong, and a reminder that the right is too often bad at math. (thanks to R.H.)
* There was a real problem facing military veterans in American colleges, due to a proposed policy change from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Fortunately, the VA addressed the issue before vets were affected.
* And if you thought Herman Cain’s videos were ridiculous, check out this actual video released late last week by the Gingrich campaign. I not only cringed watching it, at times I really wanted to just look away.
Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.