March 4th, 2011
By: Rick Santelli
I remember all too well my refrain in the fall of 2008: "It’s all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!"
We created 192,000 headline jobs in the February employment report. It’s not enough, but it certainly is welcome news and it is heading in the right direction — although too slowly.
We also learned from the February report that the unemployment rate finally trended below the psychologically important 9 percent mark. This is a very big development, considering the rate was pushing the 10 percent level several months ago.
Upon closer scrutiny though, there is another factor contributing to the drop that is not necessarily good news: The official size of the U.S. labor force is shrinking.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the “Labor Force Participation Rate” each month, along with a litany of other metrics that are used to give us the headline jobs number and the unemployment rate.
The government's definition of the labor force is all individuals 16 years of age and older, who are employed or seeking employment. It does not include students; retirees; anyone with unreported income, or "discouraged" workers.
The participation rate is the comparison of the "labor force," those looking for work or employed, and everyone else. That ratio is currently 64.2 percent seasonally adjusted, and 63.9 percent non-seasonally adjusted, the same level as last month. Both of those percentages are currently running at 27-year lows, meaning the percentage of Americans not working or even trying to join the work force is at a near three-decade high.
The last time the participation rate was above 66 percent — the 10-year average — was in August 2008.
It is imperative that we continue to monitor this relationship in order to determine if an improving unemployment rate means that American workers are finding jobs, or have just given up looking.
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March 4th, 2011
By Sari Horwitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 4, 2011; 4:28 PM
A federal grand jury in Arizona has indicted accused Tucson gunman Jared Lee Loughner on 49 counts in the January rampage that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others and left six dead, including a chief federal district judge.
Employing a novel legal argument, the superseding indictment adds 46 additional federal charges to the case against Loughner on the theory that the crime at the Safeway where Giffords was meeting with constituents occurred on protected federal ground, as if it happened inside Congress.
Loughner was initially indicted in Phoenix on three federal counts of attempted murder against the Democratic congresswoman and two of her aides, all of whom were considered federal officials who were performing federal duties when they were shot.
The new indictment adds charges for the killing and wounding of victims who are not federal employees.
The new charges accuse Loughner of murdering two government officials, causing the deaths of four others who were attending Giffords's event, attempting to murder Giffords and two of her aides, injuring 10 other people who were attending the event. He also faces numerous firearms charges.
You have a right to meet with your member of Congress openly and freely and peacefully," said U.S Attorney Dennis K. Burke, at a press conference in Phoenix.
The additional charges were made under a provision in federal civil rights law that is usually applied to hate crimes but can be extended to crimes against any person "participating in or enjoying any benefit, service, privilege, program, facility or activity provided or administered by the United States." In this case, that would be Giffords's "Congress on Your Corner" meet-and-greet with her Tucson constituents.
The federal law forbids anyone from injuring, intimidating or interfering with any such person, or attempting to do so.
Loughner, 22, faces the death penalty if convicted. He will be arraigned on the new charges on Wednesday inside the same federal district courthouse in Tucson where the deceased judge, John Roll, presided.
Some legal experts called the strategy risky, saying it could raise appellate issues.
"I am unfamiliar with that legal theory," said Aitan D. Goelman, a former federal prosecutor who helped prosecute Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. "In Oklahoma, we charged McVeigh and Nichols with eight counts for the federal agents who were killed. We did not charge 168 murder counts for the other 160 people who were inside the federal building."
Stephen Salzberg, a law professor at George Washington University, called the legal strategy overkill.
"They clearly have the congresswoman, her staff and a federal judge covered by federal law, and for everyone else they could prosecute him in state court," said Salzberg, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the criminal division of the Justice Department. "You don't need to stretch it and try to argue that everyone was in a federally protected area. That is a really sweeping view of the federal law."
Loughner's attorney, Judy Clarke of San Diego, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. All of the state's public defenders recused themselves in the case, leading to Clarke's appointment
A prominent federal public defender and opponent of capital punishment, Clarke has helped defendants in other high-profile cases avoid death sentences, including Eric Robert Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber; Theodore J. Kaczynski, the Unabomer; and Susan Smith, a South Carolina mother who drowned her two sons.
Bystanders at the Safeway event on Jan. 8 tackled Loughner, who was arraigned on the initial indictment 16 days later. Inside the courtroom, he smiled and stared but remained silent. The court entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf.
During Loughner's January arraignment, the judge asked Clarke if she was prepared to discuss her client's mental competency. "Not at this time," she replied. Legal experts say her team may try to mount an insanity defense.
Loughner is accused of opening fire during the first "Congress on Your Corner" event that Giffords had staged since her fall re-election to Congress. Witnesses say he ran up to the congresswoman, shot her at close range and then turned his Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun on her staff and the crowd. Among those killed were three people in their 70s and a 9-year-old girl, Christina Tayor Green.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wallace Kleindienst, 59, will prosecute the case. His father, Richard, was chosen to be U.S. attorney general by President Richard Nixon after John Mitchell stepped down to run Nixon's reelection campaign in 1972. Five days later, burglars were caught at the Watergate.
Kleindienst was not implicated in the break-in and cover-up, and resigned less than a year later. (He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of not "accurately and fully" testifying during his Senate confirmation hearing about Nixon administration pressure to drop an antitrust case.)
Wallace Kleindienst, a Phoenix native who now lives in Tucson, is an Episcopal lay minister and the father of two teenage boys. Before becoming a prosecutor in Arizona, Kleindienst worked in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, prosecuting street crimes.
"Wally is one of the best trial attorneys in the United States Attorney's system," said Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke, in an interview. "He was my first choice. He's a remarkable prosecutor who has an abundance of experience, knows how to analyze a case, knows how to present it and works very well with victims."
Defense attorney Clarke has not asked for a change of venue for the trial, which at this point is expected to be in Tucson.
U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns of San Diego was appointed to preside over the trial after Chief Judge Roll's colleagues on the Arizona federal bench recused themselves. Last week, Burns said he anticipates the trial will begin no later than Sept. 20.
Judge Burns denied a motion last month by Arizona news organizations to unseal inventories of search warrants served in the case, but he said that he would revisit the issue once the superseding indictment was issued. Last month, Burns declined to block the release of mug shots of Loughner that were taken soon after the shooting.
Loughner will not face state murder charges in the shooting until after the federal government finishes its trial against him, authorities said last month.
Giffords is undergoing rehabilitative therapy for her brain injury at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. One injured aide returned to work last month and her Tucson office director is still recuperating at home.
March 4th, 2011
By Barry Secrest
So, Hillary Clinton thinks Al Jazeera is the only "real" news network? Well, we took a look at the top stories at Al Jazeera on 3/4/11, and here is what we found:
- Till September: The PA’s meaningless deadlines
- Israeli army will cash in on Egyptian revolution
- Game over brother Muammar
- From the gulf to the ocean’: The ME is changing
So far, in this "top news" section, the game appears to be stacked against...wait for it..Israel! Who would have guessed?
In the following section, we looked at what was even slightly more fair and balanced?
- Bring it on is changed to bring it down
- 'Our silence is a green light for Israel'
- 'U.S. policy on nuclear Iran underscores bias towards Israel'
- 'Contain and secure Israeli nuclear programme first'
So, here in the above section, we have only two negative references to either the US or Israel--or is that three? Ok, let's try the third sidebar section, what with all of the countries in the Mideast, surely they will not be preoccupied with a peaceful yet "avowed mortal enemy."
- Jordanian PM wins vote of confidence
- Israeli bombs spread cancer in Gaza
- 'Delusional' Gathafi insists Libya loves him
- Israel rearrests Hamas lawmaker
Oh my! In a world that rages, Hillary Clinton appears to believe that real news must apparently comprise a rather odd preoccupation with one tiny country --that being Israel--or one big country far away--that being the US.
We are certainly not surprised. The thing does tend to speak for itself and must cause one to wonder "what" exactly is up with the Bureacrats over in the State Department. We would also do well to remember which network the Administration appears to view as "unreal news," being inaccurate and unfairly biased.
In fact, Fox News is the antithesis to Al Jazeera, according to the Administration--but in a bad way, according to them.
To all of this we can but point out that Foxnews is , indeed, the antithesis to Al Jazeera. But, remember which network has an anti-west, anti-US and anti-Israel bias and which one does not. Taking that thought one step further, now think about the one network that is currently being praised as opposed to the one that is being intermittently vilified by the Administration.
March 4th, 2011
by Meteorologists Chris Dolce and Jonathan Erdman
A storm system will enter the West Sunday into Monday and scoot through the Rockies before tracking from the Plains to the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest Tuesday into Wednesday.
See: Western ski conditions
For those of you in the Upper Midwest, this will be winter's reminder that we are not done yet and we will have to wait a little longer before moving on to more pleasant days ahead. Then again, perhaps no reminder is needed as March is the second snowiest month on average in both Minneapolis, Minn. (10.4") and Fargo, N.D. (8.7"). March is typically the snowiest month on average in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The other bad news is this storm will dump more snow on river basins across the Upper Midwest which will then melt once a warm up arrives and contribute to an already worrisome flood season ahead.
Although some lighter snow may fall as early as Monday in the Plains, the main core of this snowstorm will get going by Tuesday and shift northeastward through Wednesday. Snow is indicated by the white shading on the Tuesday and Wednesday forecast maps below.
How much snow are we talking about here? Accumulations of at least 6 to 12 inches (locally higher) are possible in the storm's sweet spot which will all depend on the exact path of the area of low pressure. Right now, this appears to run from the Front Range of Wyoming and northeast Colorado to portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. This includes the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.
Another aspect of this storm will be the intensifying area of low pressure, which in combination with high pressure to its north and west, will crank up the wind machine over the region. This will lead to blowing snow and possible near-blizzard or blizzard conditions in some locations.
How much wind there is and whether blizzard conditions materialize will be dependent on how strong the low-pressure system becomes.
Read story: What qualifies as a blizzard?
This storm will pass right through a portion of the country which could be tabbed as "blizzard alley" based on a recent study. Next, we will take a look at this U.S. blizzard magnet in depth.
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March 4th, 2011
By Stephen Clark
It's been nearly 80 years since the U.S. stopped using gold coins as legal currency, and nearly 40 since the world abandoned the gold standard, but the precious metal could be making a comeback in the United States -- beginning in Utah.
The Utah House was to vote as early as Thursday on legislation that would recognize issued by the federal government as legal currency in the state. The coins would not replace the current paper currency but would be used and accepted voluntarily as an alternative.
The legislation, which has 12 co-sponsors, would let Utahans pay their taxes with gold and also calls for a committee to study alternative currencies for the state. It would also exempt the sale of gold from the state capital gains tax.
The bill cleared a state legislative committee on Wednesday, the first of 11 similar bills in statehouses across the country to do so. If the bill clears the House, it would have to pass the Senate before the governor could sign it into law.
Attorney and Tea Party activist Larry Hilton, author of the original bill, said he doesn't foresee any roadblocks.
"There's enough uneasiness going on in the economy to trigger people to feel that, hey, having a little Plan B, kind of a backup system, is not a bad idea," he told FoxNews.com.
The U.S. used some version of the gold standard from 1873 until 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlawed the private ownership of gold amid the Great Depression. An international monetary system based on a gold-exchange standard continued until 1971 when President Richard Nixon stopped the U.S. from redeeming dollars for gold altogether.
Critics of the gold standard say it limits countries' control over its monetary policy and leaves them vulnerable to financial shocks, such as the Great Depression. But supporters argue that the current financial system's dependence on the Federal Reserve exposes the value of U.S. money to the threat of inflation.
Rep. Ron Paul, a longtime critic of the Federal Reserve who has called on a return to the gold standard, has praised Hilton's efforts.
"Efforts such as yours in states around the country highlight the importantance of returning to sound money," Paul wrote in a letter to Hilton. "Even if such efforts fail to achieve legislative success on their first try, their importance lies in bringing to the public's attention the problem of the ever-weakening dollar and the necessity of returning to a sound monetary system."
Hilton said the bill before the House doesn't go as far as his original draft, which was more sweeping, including recognizing more than just U.S. minted coins and more details on specific tax treatment. But he said he's willing to take it step-by step.
He also said he's not pushing to restore the gold standard in the U.S.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week dismissed the notion of the gold standard returning to the U.S.
"It did deliver price stability over long periods of time, but over shorter periods of time it caused wide swings in prices related to changes in demand or supply of gold," he told the Senate Banking Committee. "So I don't think it's a panacea."
Bernanke also said that gold couldn't return as the world standard because there's not enough gold in the world to effectively support the U.S. money supply.
Hilton said he's taking a positive approach to the issue.
"This is not an anti-dollar issue at all," he said. "We want to strengthen the dollar. We think by introducing gold and silver of our nation's history, by injecting that into the debate is very healthy for our policymakers."
Jeff Bell, a policy director for the Washington-based American Principles in Action (APPIA), which helped shape the Utah bill, told FoxNews.com that passage of the bill would send a message to Washington and other states.
"People sense that in the era of quantitative easing and zero interest rates, something has gone haywire with our monetary policy. But people are afraid to say it," said Bell, who was an adviser to Ronald Reagan's 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns. "If one state recognizes gold as a valid currency, I think it would embolden people not just in other states but in Washington."
Bell credited Tea Party activists for advancing the legislation this far. Rep. Brad Galvez, who introduced the legislation, is a freshman legislator backed by the Tea Party.
"Saying we now recognize gold as money is a big step forward," he said.
Twelve other states have offered similar proposals: Georgia, Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Vermont and Oklahoma.
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