Monday, April 30, 2012
Why the presidential election could be over at 8:30 a.m., October 26.(American).This may be as good as it gets. Sputter-speed growth of around 2% and a moribund labor market. As the above chart suggests, the recovery is losing momentum. Here’s Goldman economist Jan Hatzius:
Goldman Sachs is turning increasingly bearish on the U.S. economy, expecting the nation to have added only 125,000 new jobs in April, as the effects of a warm winter, which buoyed employment late last year, wear off.And this from Goldman market strategist Abby Joseph Cohen is equally as gloomy:
The forecast is far lower than the Reuters estimate of 170,000, and the average 177,250 jobs created every month from December to March. According to a report by the bank’s Chief U.S. Economist Jan Hatzius, the jobs report will be a further sign of a weakening economy, where inventory accumulation has accelerated and final demand growth remains sluggish.
“Real income growth remains soft, partly because of higher energy prices, wealth effects are not yet particularly positive, consumer confidence remains modest, and again some of the recent strength in retail sales probably reflects weather effects,” Hatzius said.
She said she agrees with Goldman economist Jan Hatzius’s forecast of the second half being more “difficult” than the first. “We have seen some deceleration in economic activity” after a mild winter that might have “puffed up” seasonal growth in the first quarter, she said.Wait, the second half will be “more difficult” than the first? We might be lucky to have 2% growth in the first half. The econ team at Citigroup seems equally as sober: “The 1Q GDP data, a month of rising jobless claims, and likely back-to-back moderate gains in non-farm employment should dampen remaining optimism that 2013 would be the year of decisive growth acceleration in the U.S. Why should any other quarter in 2012 be markedly better than 1Q?”
And given the reluctance of big banks to make U.S. recession calls, I have to think that plenty of these folks are worrying we might get a negative quarter at some point this year. Imagine the political shock wave if, say, the third quarter dipped even a smidgen. To use President Obama’s favorite analogy, the U.S. economy would be back in the ditch. And that report would be released by the Commerce Department on Oct. 26, just 11 days before the election.Hmmmm.......Obama: "All the Choices We've Made Have Been the Right Ones".Read the full story here.
"CAIR" - Police Shut-down Event Promoting U.S. Constitution -- Thomas More Law Center Files Lawsuit Against CAIR-Michigan.; Allegan Officials
"CAIR" - Police Shut-down Event Promoting U.S. Constitution -- Thomas More Law Center Files Lawsuit Against CAIR-Michigan; Allegan Officials.(CNW).ANN ARBOR, Mich.-- In the middle of an event to extol the virtues of the U.S. Constitution and "American Laws For American Courts," the audience learned first-hand how easy it is to lose their freedom of Speech and Assembly. Amid shouts of "What about free speech?" from the audience, the Allegan Police Department ordered the event shut-down. School officials notified police that they had received a letter complaining about the event from Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI). The letter asked the school to disallow the event despite an existing contract. CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism funding trial in U. S. history, U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation. As a result, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, announced today that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR- MI), its Executive Director, the City of Allegan, the Allegan Police Department and the School District were named as defendants in a thirty-four page civil rights lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Michigan, this morning. The claims included constitutional and contract violations. Click here for copy of federal complaint.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center commented, "It's amazing how much clout CAIR has with the political establishment of both parties in Lansing and throughout Michigan and the nation. This, despite the fact that CAIR has its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, and the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, noted that CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." Continued Thompson, "Press accounts make it clear that an indictment naming CAIR as a defendant in the Holy Land Foundation trial was squelched by Attorney General Holder's office despite vehement objections by FBI agents and the federal prosecutors in Dallas."
TMLC's federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of State Representative David Agema; a chapter leader of ACT! for America, Elizabeth Griffin; Allegan County Commissioner, Willis Sage; and Mark Gurley, one of the event sponsors. The event in question, entitled, "Constituting Michigan – Founding Principles Act" took place on January 26, 2012 at an Allegan High School auditorium which had been rented by Willis Sage. The purpose of the event was to inform the public about the importance of honoring the United States Constitution, to recognize the internal threat to America posed by radical Muslims and the dangers to our free society caused by the imposition of Sharia law. At first the Allegan police chief police indicated he shut down the event because of threats to one of the speakers, Kamal Saleem; however, shortly thereafter, the chief admitted to a reporter that there was no specific threat to the event and no real danger at all. In fact, no specific threats of violence relating to the event were received by the City of Allegan, its police department, the Allegan Public School District or Allegan Public High School. Police gave as their reason, the appearance of one of the featured speakers, Kamal Saleem, a former Muslim terrorist who converted to Christianity. Saleem has spoken at numerous high schools and universities, Christian churches and Jewish temples across the nation. He has also spoken at the U. S. Air Force Academy, Michigan's State Capital, and Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. At no time before the Allegan event or afterwards has an event where he has spoken been shut down by law enforcement. Sage notified the Allegan police chief ten days before the event and invited him to check out the background of Saleem, which he never did. Erin Mersino is the TMLC attorney handling the case.Contact: Kathleen Lynch, Thomas More Law Center, 734-827-2001.Read the full story here.
Mitt Romney sends condolences to Netanyahu, no word yet from Obama.(IsraelMatzav).Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has sent condolences to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the death of his father, Ben Zion Netanyahu z"l (of blessed memory). [P]resumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney extended his condolences today to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the death of his father. Ben-Zion Netanyahu, a historian and Zionist activist, died today in Israel. He was 102. Romney called the Israeli prime minister his "friend" in his statement. The two men have been friends for years, and their relationship was forged in the 1970s when they were young up-and-comers sizing up companies for the Boston Consulting Group. "This is a loss for all of Israel and for all who care about Israel," Romney said about the elder Netanyahu's death. As of this writing, there is no word from President Obama. On the other hand Obama, others offered condolences to Erdogan over his mother's death in October.The state-run Anatolia agency said US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Syrian President Bashar Assad are among leaders to have expressed condolences. Maybe it's because Erdogan's mother was so much younger or something.Read the full story here.
Official London Olympics website remembers 40 years ago "1972 Munich Olympic Games terrorist attack" by making Jerusalem Palestine's Capital.
Official London Olympics website remembers 40 years ago "1972 Munich Olympic Games terrorist attack" by making Jerusalem Palestine's Capital.(IsraelMatzav).Here's a screen shot from the official London Olympics website as it was until Monday morning (Hat Tip: Tom Gross).
Tom Gross adds:
Unlike dozens of other disputed territories throughout the world, such as Tibet, Kurdistan or Baluchistan, Palestine is invited to participate in the Olympics as if it were already a nation state.Of course. None of those territories are connected to Jews.
Cheryl H points out that on the same London Olympics web site, Israel is part of Europe, while 'Palestine' (and Arab countries like Jordan and Syria) are part of Asia.
Maybe they're afraid we'll be offended if they place the Arab countries on the same continent as us?
Things haven't changed much in the last 40 years, have they?Hmmm.........WELCOME TO LONDONISTAN.Israel should refuse to participate in the games after such an insult.Read the full story here.
Clinton to unemployed: Obama's 'not Houdini', unemployed numbers disappearing Act not included.(WE).Former President Bill Clinton told a group of wealthy donors not to regard people suffering in today's economy as a reflection of President Obama's record. "We are beating the clock," Clinton said while arguing that economic recovery under Obama has moved faster than it would under a Republican. "Why do I tell you this? Because somebody will say to you, 'maybe, but I don't feel better.' And you say, 'look, the man's not Houdini; all he can do is beat the clock,'" he instructed the donors. Clinton made the comments during a joint fundraiser with President Obama, a high-dollar event. Tickets to the dinner cost $20,000 a piece. Economist Robert Shiller this morning equated the contemporary American economy with that of the "late Great Depression."Hmmmm........He sure made a lot of 'unemployed' dissapear and Foodstamp users appear .Read the full story here.
Nuclear Weapons are Haram - But Iranian scientists may attend N. Korea nuclear test.(JPost).North Korea will soon carry out a nuclear experiment, and Iranian scientists could be present at the explosion site, sources who are familiar with the issue told The Jerusalem Post Monday. Iranian officials from the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group observed a failed North Korean rocket launch on April 13, according to a report by the South Korean Yonhap news agency. Although Seoul has neither confirmed nor denied the report, it believes that a delegation of a dozen Iranian scientists may have been technically involved in North Korea's failed long-range rocket launch, which North Korea said was a satellite launch. Now, the Islamic Republic may be planning a presence at North Korea's upcoming third nuclear test as well. South Korea government sources said on Sunday that North Korea appears to have completed preparations for the test, and would need only to push a button to detonate an atomic bomb. The test could come as soon as early to middle May. North Korea has tested two atomic bombs in recent years, once in 2006 and again in 2009 - both times after it carried out failed missile tests. The North's nuclear weapons program is mainly based on plutonium, while Iran is mostly relying on uranium in its efforts to build a bomb. Yet some analysts believe that Tehran may be pursuing a parallel secret plutonium nuclear program.
Similarly, North Korea is also known to have enriched uranium through spinning centrifuges.Iran's own missile program is based on North Korean missile engines. The suspected Iranian presence and involvement comes as tensions between the totalitarian North Korea and Seoul have soared. Pyongyang has issued repeated threats this month to carry out "special action" against South Korea and "to annihilate reckless challenges from rebellious elements." The messages threatened to "raze all sources of provocation to the ground with unprecedented special means and our own methods" within three to four minutes. "Do they still not understand our determination to retaliate?" an official North Korean website said this week, adding, "revolutionary forces never utter empty words."Read the full story here.
Microsoft backs away from CISPA support, citing privacy.(CNet).Microsoft is no longer as enthusiastic about a controversial cybersecurity bill that would allow Internet and telecommunications companies to divulge confidential customer information to the National Security Agency.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved CISPA by a 248 to 168 margin yesterday in spite of a presidential veto threat and warnings from some House members that the measure represented "Big Brother writ large." (See CNET's CISPA FAQ.)
In response to queries from CNET, Microsoft, which has long been viewed as a supporter of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, said this evening that any law must allow "us to honor the privacy and security promises we make to our customers."" Microsoft added that it wants to "ensure the final legislation helps to tackle the real threat of cybercrime while protecting consumer privacy." That's a noticeable change -- albeit not a complete reversal -- from Microsoft's position when CISPA was introduced in November 2011. In a statement (PDF) at the time, Microsoft vice president for government affairs Fred Humphries didn't mention privacy. Instead, Humphries said he wanted to "commend" CISPA's sponsors and "Microsoft applauds their leadership." He added: "This bill is an important first step towards addressing significant problems in cyber security." That wasn't exactly an full-throated endorsement of CISPA, but it was enough for the bill's author, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), to list Microsoft as a "supporter" on the committee's Web site.
And it was also enough for news organizations, including the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, to list Microsoft as having an unqualified pro-CISPA stand.
To be sure, Microsoft's initial reaction to CISPA came before many of the privacy concerns had been raised. An anti-CISPA coalition letter (PDF) wasn't sent out until April 16, and a petition that garnered nearly 800,000 signatures wasn't set up until April 5.What makes CISPA so controversial is a section saying that, "notwithstanding any other provision of law," companies may share information with Homeland Security, the IRS, the NSA, or other agencies. By including the word "notwithstanding," CISPA's drafters intended to make their legislation trump all existing federal and state laws, including ones dealing with wiretaps, educational records, medical privacy, and more.CISPA would "waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity," Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat and onetime Web entrepreneur, said during yesterday's floor debate. Its sponsors, on the other hand, say it's necessary to allow the NSA and Homeland Security to share cybersecurity threat information with the private sector.
What Microsoft appears to favor is a Senate bill introduced in February called the Cybersecurity Act.
At a Senate hearing in February, Microsoft vice president Scott Charney was more effusive about the Cybersecurity Act than his colleague was about CISPA three months earlier. The Senate bill provides "an appropriate framework to improve the security of government and critical infrastructure systems," one which will be "flexible enough to permit future improvements to security" over time, Charney said (PDF).
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been active in an anti-CISPA coalition, welcomed Microsoft's new statement.
"We're excited to hear that Microsoft has acknowledged the serious privacy faults in CISPA," said Dan Auerbach, EFF staff technologist. "We hope that other companies will realize this is bad for users and also bad for companies who may be coerced into sharing information with the government." Read the full story here.
Russian Activists Predict Surge In Gay Asylum Claims Amid 'Propaganda' Ban.(RFE).By Richard Solash.In 2010, 26-year-old Artem Pavlov was followed by thugs as he left a cafe in his hometown of Ufa, Russia. The group had overheard him talking about being gay. He was thrown to the ground and beaten before his friends could call for help. When police arrived and learned that Pavlov was attacked because of his homosexuality, they told him that he was, in fact, lucky -- lucky that the policemen themselves had not been there to join in the beating. The details of the incident, pieced together through personal accounts in the absence of an official police report, were the foundation for Pavlov's request for asylum in the United States. The request was approved by a New York judge last year. "I was in danger physically and emotionally from other civilians and would be in danger from the government itself, which is the definition of persecution," Pavlov says.
"I would never be able to have a family. I would never be able to have kids. I would never be able to live openly. I want to live. I want to be happy." Russia has long been a dangerous place for gays and lesbians. However, rights advocates warn that conditions are quickly worsening with a newly approved law they say not only promotes, but institutionalizes, homophobia. While the coming months will tell how the law will be applied, activists and lawyers are already predicting that more LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) Russians will be pushed to seek asylum in the West. Those like Pavlov, who have already fled, foresee the same trend. "By the end of the year, probably, the number will surge. Now there is a law that can be interpreted by the powers that be to arrest you [and] to assault you -- just for living your life," Pavlov says. "Thanks to that, you can you apply for asylum like it was still Soviet Russia, when it was illegal to be gay. It's basically the same thing." In March, St. Petersburg instituted a ban on "homosexual propaganda." Individuals convicted of promoting homosexuality to minors could be fined up to 5,000 rubles ($172) and organizations could be fined up to 500,000 rubles ($17,200). The legislation also appears to equate homosexuality with pedophilia -- a long-standing stereotype -- by levying the same fines for pedophilic "propaganda."
The first arrests were made on April 5 of two gay-rights activists who were holding placards reading, "It's normal to be gay." Similar laws have been instituted in Russia's Arkhangelsk, Kostroma, and Ryazan regions.
Olga Lenkova of the St. Petersburg-based Coming Out, the largest grassroots LGBT organization in Russia, says community members are concerned that the initial arrests are "just the beginning." She says the prospect of fleeing Russia is "now in the minds of many." The topic, which Lenkova says is appearing on Russian gay blogs and social media, now features in discussion groups organized by Coming Out. Gay and lesbian families with children, she adds, appear to be most seriously considering asylum. "They do not know whether they will be considered as promoting homosexuality to their own children, or to the friends of their children, or to the schoolmates of their children -- or just [in] being open as a family," Lenkova says.
"This is of special concern to the families where the children are adopted -- that the authorities that are supervising such families might decide that they are not safe for the children to grow up [with] and might take the children away." In 2010, 548 Russians were granted asylum in the United States, accounting for less than 3 percent of the total. The United States has allowed sexual-orientation-based asylum claims since 1994 but doesn't report the type of claims in its public statistics. Olga Bychok, a Soviet-born lawyer living in New York, is well-known among gay Russian asylum seekers who make it to the city. She says that since last year, when the St. Petersburg measures were first introduced, she has been contacted by two to three gay or lesbian Russians every week, up from the usual single inquiry a week. Not all requests are granted, but Bychok says the vast majority are. She expects her client list to increase and says she is already referencing the legislation in arguing her cases.Read the full story here.
Berlin Worried About 'Muhammad Cartoon Contest'.(Spiegel).The German government has voiced concern that far-right activists in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia may incite violence with plans to hold a so-called "Muhammad cartoon contest" and to stage demonstrations outside mosques in the run-up to a regional election there on May 13. SPIEGEL has learned that Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned of a confrontation between Salafists and right-wing extremists which he said could have unforeseeable consequences for public safety. Pro-NRW, which has been categorized as an extremist right-wing group by the domestic intelligence agency, has said it plans to display the cartoons outside 25 mosques in the state. Friedrich told lawmakers that this deliberate provocation would inflame tensions and lead to violent clashes, and that German embassies and companies operating abroad may also be affected, similar to the protests in Muslim countries following the publication in 2005 of Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers. The state's interior minister, Ralf Jäger, said: "The so-called cartoon contest is deliberately aimed at provoking Muslims." He said he had instructed police to prevent demonstrators from protesting in the immediate proximity of mosques.Pro NRW showed cartoons of Muhammad on Saturday at demonstrations in the cities of Essen and Gelsenkirchen. Some 100 protestors attended the demonstrations, and they were outnumberd by hundreds of counter-demonstrators, reports said. There was no violence. The police had stopped the demonstrators from getting near mosques, and the Pro NRW demonstrators were also banned from displaying reprints of the original Danish cartoons that had led to worldwide protests. Pro NRW issued a statement on Sunday saying it would take legal action against the ban on showing Muhammad cartoons. "We won't accept this blatant breach of freedom of speech and artistic expression," Jörg Uckermann, the deputy Pro NRW chairman, said in a statement.Read the full story here.
"Did Mohammed Exist?"Robert Spencer and David Wood vs. Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri on ABN Tonight!
"Did Mohammed Exist?"Robert Spencer and David Wood vs. Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri on ABN Tonight!(AM).
The debate is set.If you don't get ABN via satellite, you can watch the debate live at 8:00 P.M. (EST) here.Also, if you haven't ordered Robert's new book, you can get it here.
The debate is set.If you don't get ABN via satellite, you can watch the debate live at 8:00 P.M. (EST) here.Also, if you haven't ordered Robert's new book, you can get it here.
Iranian Commander Says NATO Missile Shield Will 'Deform' Turkish Kids.(RFE).By Golnaz Esfandiari. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Aerospace Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, says Turkey should expect "deformed children and incurable diseases" as the result of NATO’s planned missile shield. Tehran has previously made clear its displeasure at Turkey's agreement to deploy an early warning system for missiles, part of the NATO shield structure, on its soil. Iranian officials have said the plan will be used as an "eye" for Israel by giving it greater surveillance over countries in the region. The shield is intended primarily to counter perceived threats from Iran and North Korea, although Turkish officials have said the system is not aimed at any specific country. The claim by the Hajizadeh, which he did not back with any scientific data, is the latest in a series of warnings Tehran has issued against the plan. Hajizadeh warned last year that his country could target the relevant installations in Turkey if faced with a military attack. "We have prepared ourselves if any threat is staged against Iran," he was quoted as saying last November. "We will target NATO's missile shield in Turkey and will then attack other targets." Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, however, dismissed the threats and reassured Turkey that they are not Iran's official policy, according to reports by Turkish media. Iran and Turkey have also been at odds over Tehran’s main regional ally, Syria. Ankara has been vocal in the international condemnation of the government crackdown in Syria, while Iran appears to be determined to continue supporting the Bashar al-Assad government. Earlier this month Iranian officials sharply criticized Turkey for hosting a conference on the Syrian crisis.Read the full story here.