In one of the most shamefully disingenuous reports we’ve seen in years, the US Labor Department released the latest employment figures on Friday showing that the headline US unemployment rate had fallen to 8.3%.
Champagne and sound bites were pre-positioned in Washington as the self-congratulatory praise flowed like the bubbly. President Obama, beaming like he’d just caught the winning touchdown pass, told the American people on Sunday that he ‘deserved’ a second term.
They call it the headline unemployment rate for a reason… it’s the only number that the papers tend to run. All weekend long, mainstream press ran headlines like:
“Unemployment rate falls to 8.3%; fifth straight monthly decline” (LA Times)
“Jobless rate drops to lowest level in almost three years” (MSNBC.com)
“Unemployment rate drops to 8.3 percent” (Christian Science Monitor)
“Hiring surges in January; jobless rate at 8.3 pct.” (Atlanta Journal Constitution)
“Jobless Rate Falls to 8.3%, Altering Face of Campaign” (New York Times)
“Unemployment report: January job gains have economists rethinking outlooks” (Washington Post)
Needless to say, few outlets with any meaningful reach covered the real story behind the employment figures– the Labor Department simply took 1.2 million Americans out of the labor force. In other words, the unemployment rate fell because the Labor Department deliberately did not count 1.2 million unemployed people.
[Note: I highly recommend that you read ZeroHedge.com, one of the only sources of undistorted economic reality on the Internet.]
It’s the same Orwellian style logic (WAR IS PEACE. DEBT IS WEALTH.) that prevailed during the Soviet Union– outright lies and deceitful reports painting a rosy picture of the economy and its glorious leaders, masking a dismal reality. It’s nothing but propaganda in the worst form.
This has been going on for years in the United States, as evidenced by the chart below:
More than 100 people were reported to have been killed yesterday in the Syrian city of Homs as security forces continued their efforts to take back opposition-held areas on the eve of a vote by the UN security council on a much-disputed resolution on the country.
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”—
Lately, oil markets have been jittery over fears that Europe’s new embargo on Iran could spark tensions in the Persian Gulf. So how would the world cope with an Iranian oil crisis, if it came to that? A new paper explores our options — and none of them are pleasant.
In theory, the E.U.’s embargo on Iranian oil imports, set for July, is supposed to cut into Iran’s finances without cranking up the price of crude too high. “The idea here,” says Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan group, “is that if Iran’s other customers, like China and India, see that Iran is prohibited from selling 20 percent of its crude to Europe, those countries now have leverage to bargain down the price” of the leftover oil. So the sanctions depend on China and India flouting the embargo, but forcing Iran to take a loss. Europe and the United States hope this will all go smoothly. One big worry, though, is that Iran responds by lashing out — say, by trying to block the Strait of Hormuz, where 35 percent of the world’s seaborne oil passes through. That’s a big “if.” But it would make life excruciating for everyone.
As McNally details in a new report (pdf) for the Council on Foreign Relations, a serious and prolonged disruption of the Strait of Hormuz would dwarf the oil crises of the 1970s — there’s just so much more oil at stake here:
In the truly apocalyptic scenario, McNally estimates, a complete cut-off of the 17 million barrels of oil that pass through the straits each day could cause the price of oil to rise as high as 320 percent — which would “likely tip the global economy into recession.” Now, it’s unlikely the U.S. would allow that to happen. But even lesser disruptions (if, say, Iran started harassing ships or decided to cut off some of its exports) could push the oil price up $20 or $40 or more — the sort of spike that could really put the brakes on economic growth.
So how would the world handle an Iran-related oil shock? McNally considers a couple of options, none of them perfect:
The world economy is in the tank, and the Federal Reserve’s decision to extend its zero interest rate policy to, at least, the end of 2014 proves it. What will happen if the fragile world economy also has to deal with a war with Iran? That should have been the big headline coming out of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but what was reported was concern over slow or no growth in the world. All the signs are that the West is careening towards war with Iran, and there is not a peep about it from world leaders. Are they in a state of denial in a coming war catastrophe? I say yes.
One of the first shots fired by the EU was in the form of increased sanctions to boycott Iranian oil in about five months. The second shot looks like it will be fired by the Iranians who won’t wait for sanctions to kick in and will move to cut off oil exports of around 600,000 barrels a day to the Eurozone. (Click here for more on this story.) The Iranians have not yet cut off the oil. MSNBC reported yesterday, “The Islamic Republic declared itself optimistic about a visit by U.N. nuclear experts that began on Sunday but also warned the inspectors to be “professional” or see Tehran reducing cooperation with the world body on atomic matters. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection delegation will seek to advance efforts to resolve a row about nuclear work which Iran says is for making electricity but the West suspects is aimed at seeking a nuclear weapon.” (Click here to read the latest CNBC story.)
The immediate cut off of oil to the EU would be a disaster, and the Iranians do not have to close the Strait of Hormuz to do it. This would cause major pain to a European economy teetering on the brink of collapse. How well do you think the Eurozone would perform with a spike in energy prices? Talk about no growth, how about a giant contraction and an implosion of some of the biggest banks on both sides of the Atlantic. This is not all out war, mind you, just an immediate cut of Iranian oil to Europe.
"A direct assault on Internet users" is what the ACLU is calling it. A U.S. House committee has already approved HR 1981, a broad new Internet snooping bill.
And get this — it’s also authored by SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith.
They want to force Internet service providers to keep track of and retain their customers’ information — including your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses.
Let’s do to the snooping bill what we did to SOPA: More than 60,000 people have written emails to their lawmakers urging them to oppose Lamar Smith’s HR 1981.
The legislation would force Internet service providers to track and retain all sorts of information about you for at least 18 months.
If you’re like almost every single Internet user on the planet, you probably use Google for something. Maybe Gmail, maybe Google search, maybe Google Docs, maybe Google Voice… or maybe all of the above.
Anytime you perform a Google search, for example, it’s logged. Your computer’s IP address and cookie (unique identifiers that can essentially pinpoint you and your location) are also included, so your computer’s entire search history is archived.
When you receive an email through Gmail, or a voicemail on the Google Voice service, it’s archived on their servers. Even if you delete the messages, there’s still a copy on Google’s servers. The marginal cost of digital storage is so ridiculously cheap that they have little reason to delete this data.
Then, of course, there are all the government requests for user data. In the first half of 2011, the US government requested information on over 11,000 Google accounts. Google complied with a full 93% of those requests. Your account might have been one of them, and you would never know.
It’s not just Google either. Between Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL, the four companies power the email accounts of over 1 billion people. And all of them are in bed with the US government.
In a way, they have to be. They’re all US companies– headquartered in the US and subject to US law. When the government comes looking for information, or some judge decrees that a user’s emails be confiscated as evidence, they have to comply.
L: Doug-Sama, I’ve heard you say you think the US is setting Iran up to be the next fall guy in the wag-the-dog show – do you think it could really come to open warfare?
Doug: Yes, I do. It could just be saber rattling during an election year, but Western powers have been provoking Iran for years now – two decades, really. I just saw another report proclaiming that Iran is likely to attack the US, which is about as absurd as the allegations Bush made about Iraq bombing the US, when he fomented that invasion. It’s starting to look rather serious at this point, so I do think the odds favor actual fighting in the not-too-distant future.
L: Could they really be so stupid?
Doug: You know the answer to that one. We’re dealing with criminal personalities on both sides, and criminals are basically very stupid – meaning they have an unwitting tendency to self-destruction. One thing to remember is that most of those in power in the West still believe the old economic fallacy that war is good for the economy.
Doug: People like those in power still suffer the delusion that it was World War II that ended the Great Depression for the US. Actually, it was only after the end of the war that the depression ended, in 1946. In his book World Economic Development: 1979 and Beyond, Herman Kahn documented long-term growth throughout the 20th century. Between 1914 to 1946 – a very tough time, with WW I, the Great Depression, and WW II – the world economy still grew at something like 1.8%. I believe real growth would have been several times as great, were it not for the state and its products. But people still believe that spending money on things that explode and kill and destroy is somehow good for the economy.
L: I suppose they think it’s okay if it creates jobs here and destroys lives and livelihoods “over there.” But aside from the fact that it’s not safe to assume today’s enemies are not capable of bringing the battle onto US soil, it still ignores the fact that you’re spending money on stuff that gets destroyed – like broken windows – and that impoverishes us all. Worse, the cost is not just economic.
Doug: That’s right. This coming war with Iran has the potential to turn into something resembling WW III, with enormous consequences.
Now, it’s hard to speak with any certainty on such matters, because most of what we have to go on are press reports. Governments keep most really critical facts on their doings to themselves, and what you read in the press is as likely as not just a warmed-over government press release – in other words, propaganda. Meaningless, if not actively deceptive. It is correctly said that in war, truth is the first casualty.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”—
An American Visionary
In 1930, Lewis won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first writer from the United States to receive the award. In his Nobel Lecture, Lewis lamented that “in America most of us — not readers alone, but even writers — are still afraid of any literature which is not a glorification of everything American, a glorification of our faults as well as our virtues.”
After winning the Nobel Prize, Lewis wrote eleven more novels, ten of which appeared in his lifetime. The best remembered is It Can’t Happen Here, a novel about the election of a fascist to the American presidency.
$2billion of DoD’s Iraq War spending unaccounted for (oops) source
» Audit time! With the Iraq War’s chapter effectively closed, now’s apparently a good time to look back at all the money we spent there. There’s a problem, however: Of the $3 billion the Iraqi government set aside for the Department of Defense to use for reconstruction between 2004 and 2007, approximately two-thirds of that is unaccounted for. Worse, auditors can’t even find most of the documents: ”From July 2004 through December 2007, DoD should have provided 42 monthly reports,” an audit says. “However, it can locate only the first four reports.” Ever lose track of like $2 billion bucks? It’s fun, right?
as the story of a hermit living in a hut who survived on twigs and berries in the Concord, Massachusetts woods. Its author, Henry David Thoreau, was no hermit, but a survivalist and philosopher who personified the best of American values of self-reliance, simplicity, love of the land, individualism and defense of personal liberty against governmental overreaching. He lived simply on Walden Pond from 1845-1847 without a GPS, iPod, iPhone, laptop or wi-fi.. Long before we developed a dependence on electronic devices, Thoreau defined some first principles for personal autonomy and survival. We find them in Walden, his gift of essential life strategies that we ought to re-learn before stuffing our G.O.O.D. bags and thinking that we have prepared ourselves to meet the Black Swans ahead. He would warn us today that we must not bet our lives on electronic survival devices because others control them and can jam them by the flick of a switch. Thoreau’s EDC bag This article lifts up seven of Thoreau’s survival principles that we can rely upon; that each of us can own at no cost, and which no government or terrorist can destruct. Think of these principles as the fabric of an indestructible carry bag large enough to stuff with all our plans and tools for personal survival. Many surprises await us in the 2000s. This we know, but none of us knows the timing. Thus, we create short-term and long-term survival strategies. Thoreau’s principles are an overarching everyday strategy, holding that a life worth living depends upon remaining free and independent, living as autonomous men and women alert and able to confront, ignore, or go around obstacles in our way. The best survival strategy is to be always ready, but live well always.
So what is the pattern? A horse race. I suspect this is going to be a horse race through Super Tuesday, at which time the horses will count up the delegates. I also suspect that Gingrich will stay in this race as long as it is mathematically possible even if it would require a bolt of lighting to possibly win.
I no longer think Santorum is a factor. Did I mention that Ron Paul is irrelevant?
Greg Laden is described in his blog as an anthropologist and science communicator. As he is not a political analyst perhaps he can be excused if his conclusions are at least partly off base. What he misses in his analysis (which may be true from a superficial perspective) is this:
Election of Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum will result in little if any change in the political landscape. Big intrusive government will remain the status quo and individual liberties will continue to erode. On the other hand, a defeat for Ron Paul in the GOP campaign matters little, if at all, to his place in history. Congressman Paul is changing history in this campaign because he is turning the hearts and minds of the youth of America in new directions. The future belongs to the young, not to the winner of the GOP campaign or the 2012 election. Ron Paul’s prime directive was always the reawakening and reeducation of an America which had lost its way. Ron Paul is accomplishing what he set out to do. Ron Paul is winning the only truly important contest here.
I just got word from a friend of a friend about the conditions that arrestees from the actions. It isn’t pretty, in fact it’s disgusting.
“Just got out of Santa Rita Jail last night the prisoners from the Oakland Commune were being denied medications (some had seizures) while the guards said they didnt care if they died. Some people were brutally beaten. The put tear gas in the vents of my cell twice. They were keeping people without restrooms forcing them to shit and piss themselves or puke all over and stay in the same area….”
There’s at least one Kossack who was arrested, allie123 is her nick here I believe, and she had spoken about being denied medicine the last time she was sent to Santa Rita Jail. Just to be clear, the Jail is run by the Alameda County Sheriffs Department, not the OPD, so this is yet another law enforcement agency abusing protesters and it is absolutely disgusting.
Sorry for the short diary, but I don’t have much more info right now. I’ll update as I hear more.
The State of the Union is treated with utmost seriousness by the dominant news media. All four major TV networks and the cable news channels carry the event. My local newspaper devoted most of the front page and big chunks of the inside pages to its coverage: photos, accounts, sidebars, response, and analysis.
But it’s actually a spectacle that crowds out the real news. News about the impact American diplomacy is having on our future standard of living. News about the U.S. dollar’s reserve status winding down.
On the day of the State of the Union address, news flashed around the world – but not on your favorite network or in your morning paper – that India and Iran have agreed to end-run the U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran.
They will use gold to do so.
Those sanctions, which have now been agreed to by the European Union as well, will ratchet up in July. Their enforcement means that banks and financial institutions involved in oil transactions with Iran will be barred from doing any business with financial institutions in the United States and Europe.
According DEBKAfile, a news source based in Israel, Iran has taken steps to bypass American and European banks and their currency desks altogether, agreeing instead to sell its oil to India for gold. China is expected to soon agree to use gold in buying oil from Iran as well. It’s a move that would leave the long-standing global dollar pricing of petroleum in tatters.
The gold-for-oil agreement means three things:
It hastens the unwinding of the U.S. dollar’s global reserve currency status.
It accelerates the global monetization of gold.
It reveals the growing global impotence of the U.S.
Long able to enforce reluctant countries to adhere in its missions and embargoes around the world, the U.S. is finding its will frustrated. Nations that once had to weigh the favor of the U.S. against their own commercial and domestic political interests are increasingly ignoring the global dictates of the U.S. State Department. In 2003, Turkey, where the prospect of a U.S. invasion of Iraq was wildly unpopular, refused even bribes to allow the U.S. to stage the invasion from its soil. Today, the threat of a U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran is meeting with growing disapproval, especially from countries like China and India rely heavily on Iranian oil.
Reich says that even if Gingrich has a 10% chance of beating President Obama, if Gingrich gets the nomination, it’s too much of a risk for Democrats to want a Gingrich nomination. He sees Gingrich as that much of a nutjob. Reich writes:
…no responsible Democrat should be pleased at the prospect that Gingrich could get the GOP nomination. The future of America is too important to accept even a small risk of a Gingrich presidency…
“Weird” is the word I hear most from Republicans who have worked with him. Scott Klug, a former Republican House member from Wisconsin, who hasn’t endorsed anyone yet, says “Newt has ten ideas a day – two of them are good, six are weird and two are very weird.”
Newt’s latest idea, for example – to colonize the moon – is typically whacky.
The Republican establishment also points to polls showing Gingrich’s supporters to be enthusiastic but his detractors even more fired up. In the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, 29 percent view Gingrich favorably while 51 percent have an unfavorable view of him…
Independents, who will be key to the general election, are especially alarmed by Gingrich.
As they should be. It’s not just Newt’s weirdness. It’s also the stunning hypocrisy. His personal life makes a mockery of his moralistic bromides. He condemns Washington insiders but had a forty-year Washington career that ended with ethic violations. He fulminates against finance yet drew fat checks from Freddie Mac. He poses as a populist but has had a $500,000 revolving charge at Tiffany’s.
And it’s the flagrant irresponsibility of many of his propositions – for example, that presidents are not bound by Supreme Court rulings, that the liberal Ninth Circuit court of appeals should be abolished….that the First Amendment guarantees freedom “of” religion but not “from” religion…
Yet Democratic pundits, political advisers, officials and former officials are salivating over the possibility of a Gingrich candidacy. They agree with key Republicans that Newt would dramatically increase the odds of Obama’s reelection and would also improve the chances of Democrats taking control over the House and retaining control over the Senate.
While the Internet may aid the spread of democracy, democracy doesn’t necessarily mean a free and open Internet. In her new book Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom, Rebecca MacKinnon, senior fellow at the New America Foundation and co-founder of Global Voices, a citizen media network, investigates the corrosion of civil liberties by the governments and corporations that control the digital world.
"The critical question is: How do we ensure that the Internet develops in a way that is compatible with democracy?" MacKinnon tells Morning Edition's Renee Montagne.
Many of the files stored by the millions of users of the cloud service Megaupload could begin losing their files on Thursday. The AP reports that federal prosecutors said Megaupload paid third parties to store data and now that authorities have freezed Megaupload’s accounts, it can no longer pay those providers. The providers said they would begin deleting files as early as Thursday.
And we’re talking legally uploaded files here as well as users worldwide. Now wouldn’t you think that would qualify as ‘injustice’ rather than ‘justice’? With friends like the feds, who needs enemies? This is likely a major blow to data storage via cloud computing in general. Who will want to risk losing their legally owned data due to the whims of an over-reaching government.
For the internet, here’s a first-hand account of Occupy Oakland on 1/28/2012, because the news never tells the full story. I’ll tell you about the street battle, the 300+ arrests, the vandalism, the flag burning, all in the context of my experience today. This is deeper than the headlines. No major news source can do that for you, but Reddit can.