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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 29,549

Journal Archives

Guest Lineups For The Sunday News Shows

“Meet the Press” on NBC

• Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman, Senate Intelligence Committee
• Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman, House Intelligence Committee
• New Jersey state Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D)
• Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R)
• Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates
• Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
• Former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.)

“Face the Nation” on CBS

• Rogers
• Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)
• Former National Security Adviser Tom Donilon
• Former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell

“This Week” on ABC

• Russian President Vladimir Putin
• Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chairman, House Homeland Security Committee

“Fox News Sunday” on Fox

• Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
• Retired Gen. Michael Hayden, former director, NSA and CIA

“State of the Union” on CNN

• Sen. Angus King (R-Maine)
• Rogers

After NSA Speech, Privacy Advocates Left Wanting More

By ALEX BYERS | 1/17/14 2:58 PM EST

Civil liberties groups said President Barack Obama hit some of the right notes in his NSA reform speech Friday — but they want more.

The president admitted the need for a widespread adjustment of the nation’s intelligence practices. But the question of whether it amounts to significant change won’t be answered for months.

“I would characterize today’s speech as baby steps when bold leaps are necessary,” said Kevin Bankston, policy director for the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. “Much of what the president said is pointing in a good direction, but there are still a lot of key unanswered questions.”

The groups have followed closely the administration’s evolution on intelligence matters since Edward Snowden first shattered the secrecy surrounding surveillance programs in June.

A new and immediate requirement that the government obtain judicial approval before querying its massive database of Americans’ phone records is a positive, if unfinished, sign for privacy advocates. But the centerpiece of Obama’s proposal — a reworking of the phone records program that could have telecommunications providers or a third-party hold those records rather than the government — furthers a suggestion that privacy groups and their industry counterparts have repeatedly dismissed.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/barack-obama-nsa-speech-privacy-advocates-102328.html#ixzz2qgtRQIJ1

Gallup: U.S. Recession Never Ended

On Thursday, 16 January 2016, Gallup headlined "Americans' Satisfaction With Economy Sours Most Since 2001," and reported that the percentage of Americans who say that they are "satisfied" with "the state of the nation's economy" is now (as of 5-8 January 2014) 28%, as compared with 68% during Gallup's previous survey, taken 10-14 January 2001. That 40% drop is almost twice the 21% drop in satisfaction shown on the second-most-steeply-falling of their 20 survey-questions, which was just a 21% drop in satisfaction with "the role the U.S. plays in world affairs." By contrast, the steepest rise in satisfaction registered on their 20 questions was on "the quality of the environment," which rose 23%, from 46%, to 69% satisfied with it now. The only really stunning outlier in their findings on all 20 questions was the 40% plunge in economic satisfaction, shown during that 15-year period.

Although economists claim that the post-2008 "recession" ended in June 2009, economists ignore who owns what, or the distribution of wealth, and so they don't care whether one person owns everything or whether the wealth is equally distributed (that's something that is measured by something called "Gini," and they don't include that when defining either "recession" or "boom", and so they don't care about the fact that 95% of the income gains since the "recovery" started in June 2009 have gone to the richest 1% of the U.S. population.

Republicans especially don't care about the poor. For example, there was Romney's famous statement about the poorer 47%, whom he didn't concern himself about; but that's really just standard Republican thinking, not Romney individually; no surprise there; and, like economists' belief in the "invisible hand" of God, the view is based on admiration for the rich, and similarly contempt for the poor, attributing poverty to laziness, etc., and wealth to such virtues as wisdom.

However, remarkably, more Republicans than Democrats are currently dissatisfied with the economy: Gallup's new report shows that whereas 56% of Democrats are satisfied with it, only 31% of Republicans are. Democrats are more satisfied with it because they are prejudiced to like the present President, since he's a "Democrat." Similarly, Republicans are less satisfied with it because they are prejudiced to dislike him, since he's both a "Democrat" and a "Black" -- a combination that holds little appeal to the conservative, White, Republican, electorate.

When Gallup reported in 2001 their earlier findings, they provided no breakdown by Party, but did show that 68% of the public were satisfied, and only 27% were dissatisfied then, with the economy. Since this survey was taken at the end of the Bill Clinton boom and more than two months after a Republican (George W. Bush) had been elected to become the new President, and Clinton was both White and a Southerner, both of which attributes held appeal to Republicans, the optimism then was evidently shared by both Democrats and Republicans. What we have now is instead optimism only by Democrats, as if they constituted the richest 1% -- the people who are benefiting. Other than Democrats, and the richest 1% (who are overwhelmingly, by about 70%, Republicans), Americans evidently think that the U.S. recession is still continuing, even six years after Barack Obama became President.

more with links to Gallup data...


Did Obama's Talk on Reforming NSA Satisfy You

Obama gave a speech today on reforming NSA.

Were you satisfied with what he said and proposed?
please comment on how you vote in this poll.

Obama Surveillance Pledge Will Change Little: Assange

(AFP) – 24 minutes ago

Washington — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday dismissed President Barack Obama's proposals to curb the reach of the National Security Agency (NSA), saying they would change very little.

In a speech intended to quell the furor over surveillance programs leaked by Edward Snowden, Obama said spy taps on friendly world leaders would be halted while foreigners caught in US data mining would be given new protections.

Obama however argued that bulk data collection must be allowed to continue in order to protect America from terrorists.

Assange described Obama's speech as "embarrassing", telling CNN in an interview from London that the proposals would have little effect.

Obama had been "dragged, kicking and screaming" into making Friday's comments, only because of revelations from Snowden and other intelligence leakers before him, Assange said.



Job Openings in U.S. Rise to Highest in More Than Five Years

Source: Bloomberg

By Shobhana Chandra - Jan 17, 2014

Job openings in the U.S. climbed in November to the highest level in more than five years, a sign the labor market was picking up before the pause in the final month of 2013.

The number of positions waiting to be filled increased by 70,000 to 4 million, the most since March 2008, from a revised 3.93 million in October, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The pace of hiring was little changed, and more Americans quit their jobs.

A faster pace of hiring lays the ground for the income gains needed to spur consumer spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy. Data last week showed payrolls in December grew at the slowest pace since January 2011, indicating a temporary cooling in the job market that partly reflected bad weather.

“Employment is going to remain fairly strong going forward,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York, said before the report. “Employers will at least maintain the pace of hiring, and probably step it up a bit.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-17/job-openings-in-the-u-s-rise-to-highest-in-more-than-five-years.html

Housing Starts Come Back Down to Earth in December, But Still Suggest Recent Progress

The Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that housing starts come back down to Earth in December after soaring in November. The annualized pace of new housing starts dropped from a revised 1,107,000 in November to 999,000 in December. (The November figure was originally estimated to be 1,091,000.) Still, the trend over the past few months has been a positive one, with housing starts up from 873,000 at the annual rate in September.

In addition to severe winter storms, which might have contributed to the deceleration in activity in December, higher mortgage rates might have had an impact, too. Freddie Mac reported that the average 30-year mortgage rose from 4.29 percent in the week of November 27 to 4.48 percent in the week of December 26.

In many ways, the November data were a bit of an outlier, and if we were to remove it from the analysis, housing starts have generally moved generally higher, particularly for single-family units. For instance, while new single-family housing starts dropped from 717,000 in November to 667,000 in December, this was still higher than the 600,000 observed in November. In fact, single-family housing starts have risen 7.6 percent over the course of the past 12 months, which is good news.

New multi-family residential construction has been more volatile, and while the longer-term movement has been upward, the data in 2013 was quite choppy. For the month, new multi-family housing starts were off from 390,000 to 332,000. This was still better than the 299,000 recorded in October, but that is not the whole story. This data has been up and down all year. As evidence of this, new multi-family housing starts were 363,000 in December 2012, suggesting a decrease of 8.5 percent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, housing permits declined from a revised 1,017,000 in November to 986,000 in December. The upward trend for permits has been somewhat volatile, as well, with December’s figure more or less equivalent to where it was in May, for instance. The decrease in December stemmed entirely from single-family permits, which fell from 641,000 to 610,000. Multi-family permitting was unchanged at 376,000.



Industrial Production in U.S. Rises for a Fifth Month

Source: Bloomberg

By Michelle Jamrisko - Jan 17, 2014

Industrial production in the U.S. rose for a fifth month in December, capping the strongest quarter since 2010 and indicating manufacturing (IPMGCHNG) is helping propel the economy.

Output at factories, mines and utilities climbed 0.3 percent after a revised 1 percent increase in November, figures from the Federal Reserve showed today in Washington. The gain matched the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey. Manufacturing production rose more than projected.

Industrial output rose at a 6.8 percent annual rate in the final three months of last year, the most since the second quarter of 2010. Manufacturing will be a source of strength for the economy as factory floors stay busy filling orders for home-construction materials, appliances and automobiles, while overseas markets expand.

“Pretty clearly there’s been a pickup in manufacturing in the last couple months,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economy in Valhalla, New York, the top-ranked forecaster of production in the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “Certainly you have to start with the consumer in the last couple of months and there’s been a pretty strong pace in goods consumption.”

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-17/industrial-production-in-u-s-rose-for-fifth-month-in-december.html

Canada Urging U.S. Keystone Decision as Obama Seen Punting

By Theophilos Argitis and Andrew Mayeda - Jan 17, 2014

Canada is urging President Barack Obama’s administration to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline amid signs of further delays in a final ruling on the $5.4-billion project.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview yesterday the U.S. move to seek more public comment suggests Obama’s government may postpone a decision further, while Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird called on the U.S. to end the “state of limbo” over the project.

“How much consultation do you need to do?” Harper said in an interview in his Ottawa office. “It’s clearly another punt.”

The U.S. State Department will give the public a second opportunity to comment on the pipeline after an environmental impact review is complete, according to an agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity this week. The agency hasn’t said how long it would accept public comments, though adding that step could delay a decision on the project that has been under U.S. review for more than five years.

“The challenges for Keystone are challenges of timing,” Harper said. “The current administration continues to delay the decision.”



Chechen Militant Who Targeted Olympics Is Dead, Kadyrov Says

Source: Bloomberg

By Ilya Arkhipov - Jan 17, 2014

Doku Umarov, a militant who claimed responsibility for attacks in Russia and threatened to target the Winter Olympics in Sochi, was “eliminated” during an anti-terror operation, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said.

“We are 99.9 percent sure,” said Kadyrov, a former Chechen rebel who switched sides and was picked by President Vladimir Putin to run the region in 2007, according to comments posted on his website today. “That’s why all the talk about a threat to the Sochi Olympics is groundless.”

Umarov, who proclaimed himself emir of an Islamic state in the North Caucasus, told supporters in July to attack next month’s Olympics. He’s also said he was behind attacks including bombings in Moscow’s Domodedovo airport and subway. Chechnya, which fought two wars for independence from Russia in the 1990s, is about 440 kilometers (270 miles) to the east of Sochi.

Officials obtained a recorded conversation among insurgent leaders where they exchanged condolences over Umarov’s death and discussed candidates to replace him, Kadyrov said. Russian law-enforcement agencies weren’t able to confirm the claim, the Interfax news service reported.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-17/chechen-terrorist-who-threatened-olympics-is-dead-kadyrov-says.html
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