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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 19,357

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Consumer Confidence in U.S. Rose More Than Forecast in April

By Jeanna Smialek - Apr 30, 2013
Confidence among U.S. consumers climbed more than forecast in April to a five-month high as Americans’ outlook for the economy and their incomes improved.

The Conference Board’s index rose to 68.1, exceeding the highest projection in a Bloomberg survey, from a revised 61.9 in March, data from the New York-based private research group showed today. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast an increase to 61.

Gains in the stock market, an increase in property values and cheaper prices at the gas pump are helping stabilize household wealth. A growing share of consumers expecting a pickup in incomes may help fuel the pace of spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, in the second half of 2013.

“The fact that they feel a little bit wealthier will give them a little more leeway,” said Brian Jones, senior U.S. economist in New York at Societe Generale. Still, “you’re going to have a spring lull, and growth will reaccelerate in the second half of the year. I do think the labor market is genuinely getting better.”

Forecasts (CONCCONF) of the 72 economists surveyed by Bloomberg ranged from 54.5 to 66.5 after a previously reported 59.7 in March. The measure averaged 53.7 in the recession that ended in June 2009.

more...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-30/consumer-confidence-in-u-s-rose-more-than-forecast-in-april.html

The High Human Price of Cheap T-Shirts

Jamil can't stop thinking about the voices that came from the building: a mixture of pleading, praying, screaming and whimpering that rose from the mountain of ruins. "We heard people calling for help. We heard them begging for water and reciting prayers," the fireman recalls. "But we couldn't do anything for them. So many of were simply beyond our reach." They helped those they could, bringing food and water to people trapped in accessible cavities within the giant mound of rubble that days before was still a functioning factory building.

The disaster, in which several thousand people were buried alive in the collapsed Rana Plaza building in Savar, a suburb of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, created sights and sounds that many will find hard to forget. Rezaul, for example, vividly remembers a woman with disheveled hair and a blood-encrusted face whose right leg was pinned down by a concrete pillar. "She begged me to saw off her leg and free her," he says. "I just happened to be there."
Rezaul works as a trash collector. When he heard about the disaster, he dropped his bicycle and trash bag, and ran to the site. "But I can't cut a person's leg off," he says. So he left the woman, and went in search of help -- in vain.

At least 3,000 people are believed to have been in the building on Rana Plaza at the time the building collapsed. More than 380 bodies had been recovered by Monday morning. Hundreds are still missing. And with every day that passes, the chances of finding survivors grows dimmer.

A Disaster of Historical Proportions

The deadly incident in Savar has already been called the worst industrial accident in the country's history. It serves as a reminder that nothing has changed when it comes to the inhumane conditions under which clothes are made in Bangladesh for European and American textile companies and clothing chains. And the same can be said about the culture of corruption that is rampant in Bangladesh, the abundance of illegally procured construction permits and the lax attitude factory owners take toward safety standards.

more...


http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/european-companies-linked-to-collapsed-bangladesh-factories-a-897149.html

What’s Best For The Jews: Agencies Split Over Assad Vs. Rebels Options

So far, everyone agrees that the ongoing civil war has been a bonanza for Israeli security concerns.

By: Yori Yanover

There appear to be sharp disputes among Israel’s intelligence agencies, over the best outcome of the two-year Syrian civil war. Against the background of a public debate about whether the Red Line has been crossed by the Syrian government, which likely attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, Israel’s government experts are differing in their assessments of whose victory would better serve the Jewish state’s security interests: the Assad regime in Damascus or the rebels.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembled, for the first time since the start of his current coalition government, the Security Cabinet, to discuss the situation in Syria and the Israeli response to recent developments, Maariv reported.

Israeli intelligence agencies are split on how to act regarding Syria. One organization believes that the focus should be kept on the Iranian nuclear issue, and, therefore, if the Assad regime collapses, the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis would absorb a mortal blow, thus improving Israel’s ability to handle the nuclear threat.

One of the factors delaying an Israeli raid on the Iranian nuclear facilities—certainly not the only one—is the probability that Iran’s clients, Syria and especially Hezbollah, would retaliate, peppering Israel’s civilian centers with the estimated 50 thousand short- and medium-range missiles Hezbollah has in its possession. With Syria turning anti-Iranian—the rebels are Sunni, Iran is Shiite—and with a consequently embattled—also Shiite— Hezbolla, The likelihood of a retaliation would diminish.

But another intelligence agency’s evaluation focuses on the border between Syria and Israel, and away from the Iranian strategic threat. It is estimated that removing Assad would create chaos and the disintegration of the central government, and as rebel groups then settle on the Syrian-Israeli they are highly likely to initiate attacks against Israel. Therefore, this agency recommends, the best course of action is to allow, and whenever possible even encourage the warring parties in Syria to continue to wear each other down over time.

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http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/whats-best-for-the-jews-agencies-split-over-assad-vs-rebels-options/2013/04/29/

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Signs Bill Banning Destruction Of Guns Surrendered At Buyback Events

Source: Associated Press

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill into law that bars cities and counties from destroying guns turned over to police at community buyback events and instead requiring that they be resold.

The bill signed Monday was supported by Republicans and the National Rifle Association and opposed by Democrats.

Backers in the GOP-controlled Legislature argued that destroying any property turned over to the government is a waste of taxpayer resources.

Democrats argued that destroying the guns keep weapons owners no longer want off the streets.

Read more: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/f09ec71c9441492896d4a1d609bac628/AZ-XGR--Gun-Buybacks

The Real Reason America Can't Make a Nuclear Deal with Iran

The outlines of a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran have long been obvious: Western recognition of Iran's nuclear rights in return for more intrusive monitoring and verification of Iranian nuclear facilities. With agreement so readily at hand, the Obama administration's refusal to take it is baffling to many international observers. But the reason for American obstinacy becomes clearer when one considers that that the Iranian nuclear issue has at least as much to do with the future of international order as it does with nonproliferation. Conflict over Iran's nuclear program is driven by two different approaches to interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). These approaches, in turn, are rooted in different conceptions of world order.

-CLIP
For those holding that the NPT's three bargains have equal standing -- including the non-Western world, virtually in its entirety -- Tehran's right to enrich is clear. It is clear from the NPT, from the treaty's negotiating history, and from at least a dozen states having developed safeguarded fuel cycle infrastructures potentially able to support weapons programs. On this basis, the diplomatic solution is also clear: recognition of Iran's nuclear rights in exchange for greater transparency.

Those holding that nonproliferation trumps other NPT goals -- America, Britain, France, and Israel -- claim that there is no treaty-based "right" to enrich, and that weapons states and others with nuclear industries should decide which non-weapons states can possess fuel cycle technologies. From these premises, in the early 2000s the George W. Bush administration sought a worldwide ban on transferring fuel cycle technologies to countries not already possessing them. Subsequently, the Obama administration pushed the Nuclear Suppliers' Group to make such transfers conditional on recipients' acceptance of the Additional Protocol to the NPT -- an instrument devised at U.S. instigation in the 1990s to enable more intrusive and proactive inspections in non-weapons states.

Under both Bush and Obama, America has pressed the UN Security Council to adopt resolutions telling Tehran to suspend enrichment, even though it is part of Iran's "inalienable right" to peaceful use of nuclear technology; such resolutions violate UN Charter terms that the Council act "in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations" and "with the present charter." Washington has also defined its preferred diplomatic outcome and, with Britain and France, imposed it on the P5+1: Iran must promptly stop enriching at the near-20 percent level to fuel its sole (and safeguarded) research reactor; it must then follow Security Council calls to cease all enrichment. U.S. officials say Iran might be "allowed" a circumscribed enrichment program, after suspending for a decade or more; London and Paris insist that "zero enrichment" is the only acceptable long-term outcome.

MORE...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/flynt-and-hillary-mann-leverett/the-real-reason-america-c_b_3178637.html

Egypt Walks Out Of Nuclear Talks In Geneva, Citing Slow Progress Toward Nuclear-Free Mideast

Source: Associated Press

ENEVA — Egypt walked out of a round of global nuclear talks in protest Monday, saying other nations are not acting quickly enough to establish the Middle East as a zone free of nuclear weapons.

A statement from Egypt’s foreign ministry said the nation ended its participation in two weeks of Geneva talks out of frustration that the zone has yet to be created. The talks run through this week.

--CLIP
The Geneva talks, which have included no negotiations on such a zone, are meant to prepare for the next major review of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2015. Such reviews are held once every five years.

The NPT, which has been signed by 190 nations, is the world’s single most important pact on nuclear arms, credited with preventing their spread to dozens of nations since it was adopted. Iran is a member, but four nations that are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons — Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — are not. Of the non-members, Israel, India and Pakistan never signed the treaty, but North Korea ratified it in 1985 then withdrew in 2003 after U.S. allegations it had started illegally enriching uranium.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/egypt-walks-out-of-nuclear-talks-in-geneva-citing-slow-progress-toward-nuclear-free-mideast/2013/04/29/cec35c3c-b13a-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

Holder To ADL: Protect Rights Of All, Including Muslims, After Boston

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- In a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged Americans to protect the rights of Muslims and other minorities in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.

"The battle for the safety and rights of all Americans -- all Americans -- must be our common endeavor," Holder told a conference in Washington on Monday marking the group's centennial.

--CLIP
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- In a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urged Americans to protect the rights of Muslims and other minorities in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.

"The battle for the safety and rights of all Americans -- all Americans -- must be our common endeavor," Holder told a conference in Washington on Monday marking the group's centennial.

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http://www.jta.org/news/article/2013/04/29/3125426/holder-to-adl-protect-rights-of-all-including-muslims-after-boston

Police: NM Church Stabbing Sparked By 'Mason' Fear

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Lawrence Capener was shaking hands with his fellow churchgoers at Sunday Mass, exchanging the traditional peace offerings when some people next to him noticed something strange - his hands were quite sweaty and clammy. Then, as the choir began singing a hymn to wrap up Mass, the man bolted from his pew, ran to the choir area and started stabbing the choir leader and others.

Parishioners screamed and ran for cover and others, including the church flutist, tried to subdue him. Police said the assailant thought the choir members were members of a secret society.

--CLIP

Jordan had told his mom, "Thank God. I'm in church and nothing bad is going to happen here."

--CLIP
Capener later told police that he was "99 percent sure Alvarez was a mason" and that he thought Alvarez was involved in a conspiracy.

He told the investigator that Masons are a group involved "in a conspiracy that is far more reaching than I could or would believe."

MORE...

http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/22103220/man-stabs-nm-churchgoers-sends-4-to-hospital

Dovish Israeli Lawmaker Says US Shouldn’t Push Peace Talks Because Netanyahu Not Serious

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, April 29, 1:10 PM

JERUSALEM — A dovish Israeli opposition lawmaker says the U.S. should not force new talks with the Palestinians because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not sincere about signing a peace deal.

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Labor Party, says President Barack Obama should “do nothing” to jumpstart peace negotiations, because they would be endless and would only deepen mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israelis need to want to reach an agreement,” Michaeli told the Foreign Press Association on Monday. “They need to do it on their own.”

--CLIP

Netanyahu has rejected Palestinian calls to accept concessions made by his predecessors and says talks should begin without any preconditions.

MORE...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/dovish-israeli-lawmaker-says-us-shouldnt-push-peace-talks-because-netanyahu-not-serious/2013/04/29/ae1948fc-b0ef-11e2-9fb1-62de9581c946_story.html

Beware Of People Who Know Exactly What To Do About Syria (And Be Glad You're Not Obama)

The acknowledgement that Syrian President Assad’s regime has apparently used chemical weapons has sparked renewed calls in Israel and in the United States for President Barack Obama to intervene in Syria’s ongoing civil war. The proposed modi operandi range from arming the Syrian rebels, declaring save havens and no-fly zones, bombing Syrian chemical weapons installations and even sending in US troops to secure sensitive installations on the ground.

One can only envy people who have such an unambiguous and clear-sighted view of what should or shouldn’t be done. But the envy should be tempered by wariness. Just as no one predicted the Arab Spring, the upheaval in Egypt or the uprising in Syria itself, no one can tell what kind of an effect an American military operation in Syria might have on Syria, on Iran, on Israel and on the Middle East in particular.

After all, it doesn’t take long to prove that in the Middle East, the Law of Unintended Consequences reins supreme, and usually for the worse. It was Israel, you will recall, who built up Hamas in the 1980’s so that it would serve as a counterweight to the PLO; Israel who viewed the Shiites as an ally in the Lebanon War; America which imposed its “freedom agenda” on Israel in Gaza; America that built up Iran by invading Iraq; and Israel, when it comes to it, that subjugated itself to 47 years of debilitating occupation in its miraculous victory in the Six Day War.

So before calling in the U.S. cavalry, perhaps one should take stock of the things one knows that one doesn’t know, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, ever mindful that there are countless other things - usually bad things - that one doesn’t know that one doesn’t know. Among these:

MORE...

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/beware-of-people-who-know-exactly-what-to-do-about-syria-and-be-glad-you-re-not-obama.premium-1.518268 (PAYWALL with 10 free articles a month with simple registration).
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