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Accused Rapist Found Working As Contractor In Iraq

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 13-01-2011

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A Virginia man facing charges of raping an underage girl has been found, after five years, working as a contractor in Iraq.

Norfolk police tracked down Daniel Phillips, 46, this week, with the help of the U.S. Marshals, the State Department and NCIS, and brought him back to Virginia to face the charges stemming from an incident in 2004 or 2005.

Police wouldn’t reveal much about the actual crime, citing the protection of the alleged victim, although one news outlet reports that the victim is related to Phillips.

We do know, however, how they tracked him down. In December, the case was forwarded to the department’s fugitive division. Investigators talked to the victim’s family, Sgt. Boe Bostjancic tells TPM. They said Phillips worked for a government contractor.

So the police contacted NCIS, which investigates crimes for the Navy and Marine Corps, to search the many military bases in and around Norfolk. They didn’t find him — but they did find out the name of the company he worked for.

Bostjancic declined to share the name of the company, saying they had been helpful in the investigation, but did note that it appeared Phillips had been employed with them for a substantial amount of time. He was doing some sort of computer-related work.

The State Department then tracked Phillips to Iraq — Bostjancic didn’t know which base — and pulled his passport. Authorities took him to Kuwait, where they put him on a commercial flight to Dulles Airport, which is in Virginia. Police and U.S. Marshals met him there when he landed Saturday and took him into custody.

Police didn’t say when they think he took off to Iraq, but suggested it was soon after the crime, before a warrant was issued. The warrant, they said, would likely have prevented him from leaving the country.

He is scheduled to have a bond hearing today, and will be charged with rape, aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a child.

[H/T Mother Jones]


California’s Paid Family Leave Law Is Working, New Study Finds

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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California’s paid family leave law “has been remarkably successful” and received high marks from both employers and workers, according to a new study released yesterday by researchers from UCLA/City University of New York (CUNY) and the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

Study co-author Ruth Milkman, a professor of sociology at UCLA and the CUNY, says the law, one of just two paid family leave laws in the nation,

has helped hundreds of thousands of workers—especially in low-wage jobs—balance the costs and challenges of tending to family and work and it has begun to close the gap in access to paid leave benefits.

New Jersey is the only other state with a paid family leave law.

The business community vigorously fought against the now six-year-old law, claiming it would be costly and easily abused. But paid family leave has disproved opponents’ claims that the program would be a “job killer,” says Eileen Applebaum, the other co-author and senior economist at CEPR.

Almost all employers found the program had positive or neutral effects on areas such as productivity, turnover and morale.

The law allows private-sector workers to take up to six weeks a year off at 55 percent of a worker’s wages to care for a new child or a sick family member. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) law allows up to 12 weeks off, but it is unpaid.

According to state figures, 167,523 people took time off to take care of a new child and 23,220 took time off to care for ill family members and, on average, received $ 488 a week.

For workers, the study found:

  • Higher-paid workers ($ 20 an hour or more) with health insurance are more likely to take advantage of the program than lower-paid workers (less than $ 20 an hour) without benefits.
  • The program greatly increased the amount of wages replaced for lower-paid workers.
  • Workers who used the leave were more likely to return to their jobs.
  • More men took time off to be with their family after paid family leave took effect.

The employers surveyed overwhelmingly reported that paid family leave had either a “positive effect” or “no noticeable effect” on:

  • Productivity—89 percent;
  • Profitability/performance—91 percent;
  • Turnover—96 percent; and
  • Employee morale—99 percent.

As Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values at Work, says:

California’s experience shows that paid family leave is a win-win for employers and employees. Policymakers in other states and at the federal level should take note of this study and the great strides California is making to bring the workplace into sync with 21st century families.

Click here for the full report, “Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California.” Also click here for a look at the need for paid sick leave for the 44 million workers who have none.


The Elite, The Rich, And The Working Class

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 11-01-2011

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Kevin Drum has a question:

Suppose that you lead a comfortable middle-class life. Let's say that you're in your 30s, married, two children, and you make $ 100,000 per year. I offer you a fair coin flip with the following possible outcomes:

  • Heads: You will be stripped of most of your assets and will earn $ 30,000 per year for the rest of your life. That's all you get, and neither friends nor family can top it up for you.
  • Tails: You will earn $ 1 million per year for the rest of your life.

Would you take me up on my offer to flip the coin?

Ninety percent of his readers wouldn't take the bet. He explains what he's getting at here.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Civil Stupidity: Advice For Working Women

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 10-01-2011

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I was actually looking for something else when I stumbled across this article.  It gives advice for women who want to advance, and some interesting information about women at work.  For example, women account for 14.4% of executive positions.  You can read some interesting breakdowns by clicking here.

The first and foremost piece of advice?  Don’t think the workplace is fair.  Acknowledge that this block exists, and form it into your strategy.  Forget that whole “equal” junk that business tout and look at the real picture.  Also, take a realistic look at your company.  Do you see women advancing, or do you see token promotions to satisfy the minimum requirement?  I just left a company that did not pay equally, and did not promote fairly.  In the end, if your company isn’t cutting the requirements, take your ball and play somewhere else.  I moved from a shady LLC to a nationally known company, who clearly states their intent to reduce bias and discrimination in the workplace.

The article also advises to take a proactive role in your career development.  Women are more inclined to bury into work, produce great results, and drown in the resulting aftermath of more hard work. Take charge, and don’t be afraid to call out inequality when you see it.  Just go through the proper channels, and make sure your head does the talking, not your emotions.

It isn’t fair that women are held to a different standard.  For now, we can work around it, but in the future I hope that we won’t have to.  Business is business, and women have the ability to outshine their male counterparts.  That doesn’t mean every woman is smarter, or more talented.  It means the ones who are should be given fair opportunity and equal pay.  While the job market recovers, it would be a great time to let this guide hiring principles, and set the stage for real growth.

Zandar Versus The Stupid

Our (We) Working Class Pundits

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 08-01-2011

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Digby has a righteous rant about a discussion between Wolf Blitzer, Mary Matalin, and Paul Begala in which they revealed their utter divorce from the reality lived by most Americans as they discuss whether the $ 172,000 Robert Gibbs made as Press Secretary was a sacrifice. Here’s a taste:

According to these guys [Robert Gibbs’] job is right up there with curing cancer for sheer importance to the future of mankind.

Look, you can’t blame these two. They are both glugging from the same taxpayer trough half the time and have a big investment in believing that what they do is so special and so unique that they are just a little bit better than lesser people who toil at less exalted labor.

And evidently, they truly believe regular people don’t eat lunch at their desks and work long hours and have huge responsibilities. Or if they do, they are in very important jobs like media and investment banking where people are paid what they are “worth.”

You ought to read the whole thing.

I just wanted to add two things.

First, in the discussion, Matalin argues that, when you work at the White House “you really do work three shifts a day. You work 24 hours a day.” In response to which Begala elaborates,

The President’s trying to make a point here — he’s not trying to say that 172 thousand dollars a year is not a good paycheck. But compared to what the guy could be making… And, as Mary points out, if it’s a hourly wage, then Gibbs is probably making about fifty cents an hour. [my emphasis]

If Gibbs’ $ 172,000 annual salary were broken down into hourly salary, Begala says, with the assumption that he was working 24 hours a day 365 days a year,  then his hourly wage “is probably … about fifty cents an hour.”


There are 8,760 hours in a 24/7 year. Gibbs’ $ 172,000 salary for those 8,760 hours would work out to be $ 19.63 an hour. For someone working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, that works out to be a yearly salary of $ 39,260. Which for household salaries-not individuals-falls in the middle quintile of yearly income in this country, and less than $ 3,000 less than what Wolf says is the “mean” salary in this country (he actually means “median” and he may be using just full time workers).

Gibbs needs a break, Obama says, and Begala and Matalin agree, because even assuming he’s been working 24/7, he’s been working as hard for the same money as half the country. So we should feel sorry for him.

But here’s my second point: We online pundits are often no better at this.

Consider this question Kevin Drum asked the other day:

Suppose that you lead a comfortable middle-class life. Let’s say that you’re in your 30s, married, two children, and you make $ 100,000 per year. I offer you a fair coin flip with the following possible outcomes:

  • Heads: You will be stripped of most of your assets and will earn $ 30,000 per year for the rest of your life. That’s all you get, and neither friends nor family can top it up for you.
  • Tails: You will earn $ 1 million per year for the rest of your life.

Treat this as a serious question. Would you take me up on my offer to flip the coin? [my emphasis]

See the problem?

A household making $ 100,000 a year is not “living a comfortable middle-class life.” In fact, that family would fall in the highest quintile of household income in this country. His question should read, “suppose you live an upper class life, would you flip a coin to risk becoming solidly middle class for the possibility of becoming even richer?”

At first, I just attributed this to Drum living in CA, where $ 100,000 is still affluent but doesn’t go as far as it does here in flyover country. But it got worse, IMO, when he went on to explain why he was doing this.

I’m writing a piece about income inequality and other things for the next issue of the magazine, and in an email conversation with my editor she suggested that one point worth making is that in America today, “someone making $ 100K has a lot more in common with someone making $ 30K than someone making $ 100 million.” Now, there’s an obvious sense in which that’s true, but I suspect that there’s a more important sense in which it’s not. Yes, the zillionaire jets around the world and owns a bunch of mansions and has a staff of aides and servants to take care of things. That’s really, really nice. But our $ 100K wage slave also has a comfortable house, gets to fly around the world now and again, probably employs a gardener and cleaning service, has a pretty stable life, etc. etc. Also nice. On the other hand, a household earning $ 30,000 — which is well above the poverty line — lives a pretty precarious life on a variety of measures. So how to get at the difference? Well, I figured one possible way is this: if you really were a fairly ordinary upper middle class wage earner making $ 100K per year, and you had a 50-50 chance of either joining the ranks of the elite or falling down to the bottom of the working class, which seems further away to you? The answer from comments was loud and clear: the bottom of the working class. I didn’t count, but I’d say only about 10% of commenters were willing to take the coin flip. The other 90% would stick with their $ 100K lifestyle.

So what does this mean? Probably not much. But it’s suggestive that in terms of lifestyle, if not political goals, a $ 100K wage earner actually feels somewhat closer to the zillionaires than to someone barely scraping by. We intuit, correctly I think, that life at the bottom of the working class is pretty damn tough, while life at the tippy top is more exciting, but perhaps not fundamentally different from life in the upper middle class.

So Drum’s editor (who, working at a lefty magazine, might not make $ 100,000 herself, but certainly is a member of a kind of elite), tells him he should write about how upper class families have so much in common with the families struggling to stay in the quickly vanishing middle class. To test the theory before he writes about it, he asks his readers what they would choose if they were upper class (though he doesn’t call it that)-to stay there, or risk joining the “the bottom of the working class” for a chance to become “elite”? And based on the fact that his readers overwhelmingly say, “keep the $ 100,000,” he concludes they chose that decision because they at least imaginatively felt closer to the zillionaires than someone “barely scraping by.”

Now, to Drum’s credit, he at least calls this $ 100,000 earning household “upper middle class,” which is less inaccurate. But I wouldn’t even consider someone working minimum wage 40 hours a week 52 weeks a year the “bottom of the working class,” given that so many people are having trouble getting full time hours in this day and age, but that person would make just $ 15,080, just slightly more than half of what Drum considers the “bottom of the working class.”

But Drum doesn’t consider the possible motivations of his readers. He doesn’t consider the statistically likely possibility (even assuming MoJo online has a relatively affluent readership) that most of his readers would consider $ 100,000 an improvement off where they are. That is, it may have nothing to do with a perception of whether being affluent is closer to being rich or being middle class, and everything to do with where some of them are personally. He might as well have asked at least some of his readers, “want a big raise, or want to increase risk?”

Now, I’m beating up Drum for his details, but I think his position is right: the affluent are closer to the rich than the members of the vanishing middle class. Though I might even suggest there are probably 4 positions here, the people who aren’t making ends meet, the people who feel constant risk of failing to do so and sometimes don’t, the people who spend all their money, and the rich. That is, this is all about risk, and everyone but the super rich feel the prevalence of economic insecurity, but the more affluent of us have a hard time imagining how much more acutely the middle and working class experience that risk and so we tell myths about what most Americans experience financially and how normal we all are.

Frankly, I’ve been living with an engineer for the last decade (albeit one who wasn’t working for some time), making my household far better off than most of this country (and even when I was a single grad student I recognized I was in a very elite position for someone making the $ $ I was). So I can’t be sure I’m much better than all this (though it probably helps that I see how much some of my neighbors, both in W MI and in Ann Arbor, have been struggling).

But that really points to an underlying problem. Even in spite of the insecurity in the media, as inequality grows worse and worse, members of the media with the biggest soapboxes grow more and more distant (both geographically and cognitively) from the people really suffering as the middle class disappears. To most of those big-soapbox people (though not the equally disappearing local media), $ 30,000 or $ 39,260 may feel so distant that it can only be understood as “barely scraping by.” But if it is (and I do believe, for many families, it absolutely is), then those same big-soapboxes had better start screaming louder about it, because over a third of this country is in that plight.

Or maybe CNN can replace both Begala and Matalin with 4 members of the middle class each, so we can start hearing what’s really going on in America.

Related posts:

  1. David Axelrod’s Quaint Idea of Middle Class “Security”
  2. Robert Gibbs to Leave White House, Will Join “Professional Left”
  3. An Awfully Painful Way to Convince the President Our Economy Is Not Moving


Somalia: Misunderstanders of Islam ban handshakes between men and women, women working in public, music, movies, bras

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 08-01-2011

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Where are the Moderate Muslim voices speaking up to say these Somali Muslims are getting Islam all wrong, wrong, wrong?

Sharia Alert from Somalia: isn’t it great that Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange made Oklahoma safe for Sharia? “Somali Islamists ban men, women from shaking hands,” from AP, January 8 (thanks to all who sent this in):

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Al-Qaida-linked militants in war-torn southern Somalia have banned unrelated men and women from shaking hands, speaking or walking together in public, residents said Saturday. People who break the rules could be imprisoned, whipped or even executed.

The insurgents already have banned women from working in public, leaving many mothers with a terrible choice: risk execution by going to sell some tea or vegetables in the marketplace, or stay safely at home and watch the children slowly starve.

“It’s an awful rule. I feel like I’m under arrest. I’ve started to ignore the greetings of the women I know to avoid punishment,” Hussein Ali said by phone form [sic] the southern Somali town of Jowhar. The edict is also being enforced in the town of Elasha.

Gunmen are searching buses for improperly dressed women or women traveling alone, said student Hamdi Osman in Elasha. She said she was once beaten for wearing Somali traditional dress instead of the long, shapeless black robes favored by the fighters.

The Islamists’ insistence that women wear the long, heavy robes also forces many women to stay at home because they can’t afford the new clothing….

The insurgents even control parts of the capital, brazenly carrying out amputations, whippings and stonings in public places. The list of forbidden things differs from town to town and commander to commander.

In Jowhar, the insurgents are now also insisting that men grow their beards but shave their mustaches, said another resident, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

The Islamists have also banned the cinema, music, and bras because they say they are all un-Islamic. Such restrictions are influenced by foreign fighters practicing Wahhabi Islam, which is much stricter than Somalia’s traditional Sufi Islam that incorporates a long tradition of poetry and song.

“The last time I listened a song or music, was two years ago, before the insurgents managed the full control of my village,” said Bile Hassan. Now, he says, even the memory of music makes him feel afraid.


Jihad Watch

Dems Still Working Hard To Thwart The Will Of The People On Health Care Reform

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 08-01-2011

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As most of us know, the American People were dead set against the passage of the so-called “Affordable Care Act,” which started out with the notion of reducing health insurance costs and providing coverage to the 30-45 million Americans that had no health insurance, and escalated to a 2,000 page bill that none who voted “Yea” actually read nor understood, and did anything but reduce health insurance costs. We’ve all seen the fallout, that insurance costs would go up while coverage would go down. Company after company asked for, and received waivers from all the mandates. States are suing over the individual, and un-Constitutional, insurance mandate. It became too involved in health care, and, clearly, in poll after poll, the American People want it repealed and replaced with legislation that can actually reduce health insurance costs, while expanding coverage. Enter the Democrats

President Obama officially drew a line in the sand Thursday evening, threatening to veto House Republicans’ attempt to repeal Obama’s landmark healthcare law.

And Harry Reid has suggested that if passed in the House, it will never hit the Senate floor. So much for listening to the People, and the historic mid-term demolition of Congressional Democrats. Now, Republicans are missing a beat by not coupling repeal with replace, however, voting on a simple two page document makes it viable to stop the addition of any riders and add ons. Then they can work towards common sense legislation, which, they already have!

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) attacked the health care bill in March as a massive government overreach, weighted down with new taxes but short on real reforms.

But repeal it, the way House Republicans would? No way, says Shuler, one of his party’s most conservative members.

“There are some very good things in this bill that have already become law,” Shuler said this week, citing the ban on pre-existing conditions for children and steps to close the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole for seniors. “It is not just wrong but immoral to take those things away.”

When ObamaCare is replaced, whether it be during the session running through the 2012 election, or after, when Democrats have lost the Senate and White House, the legislation will need to include some of those provisions, which were placed in ObamaCare because they are popular among the American people. Also, because their inclusion was an attempt to overshadow the disturbing parts of ObamaCare, in order to make it more palatable. Like mixing Castor Oil with a bit of orange juice.

It’s January, and you know what that means for small businesses – health care insurance renewal time and time for our annual huge cost increases. That’s why I’m eagerly waiting for the new national health care law to kick in. And why I’ve got a loud message to new members of Congress: Hands off the health care law!

Leaders of the new Republican-led Congress have announced that one of their first votes will be to repeal the health care law. But no matter your political affiliation, if you run a small business, are self-employed, or are over 40 years of age, you should desperately want to keep it.

Why? Because small businesses and the self-employed have the hardest time getting health insurance and pay the most when they get it. If you’re over 40 and lose your job, without the new health care law, you’ll have a terrible time getting affordable health insurance if you become self-employed.

You’ll actually have a worse time getting affordable coverage with the law, but, Democrats wear rose colored blinders at all times, and the USA Today writer, Rhonda Abrams, supposedly an “expert” on small business, thinks that one of the best ideas, nationwide pooling, is a bad idea. But, she’s eagerly awaiting those super duper wonderful health care exchanges, which aren’t even close to being ready, so that Someone Else can pay most of her premiums. Typical liberal. They always want someone else to suffer, rather than acting like adults.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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Stop The ACLU

How much is working in finance worth?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 07-01-2011

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About 40 percent more than working in anything else:

Finance scholars Thomas Philippon and Ariel Resheff have actually tried to calculate how much financial-sector workers are overpaid relative to those with similar skills in other professions. About 40%, they say. That’s for the financial sector as a whole, not the fancier precincts of Wall Street. There the percentage would seem to be more along the lines of, say, 2,919% (the gap between Summers’ pay at D.E. Shaw and what he made at the White House).

Ezra Klein

PA GDP proportional to percentage working for Israelis

Posted by admin | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 04-01-2011

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From Ma’an:

Of every 100 Palestinian workers, 11 work in Israel and the settlements compared to 10 in 2009, a new survey from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found.

The increase helped push up the Palestinian GDP per capita, in what was counted as a year of growth across the region.

Palestine’s Gross Domestic Product increased by about 9 percent during the first three quarters of 2010 compared with the same period of 2009.

Released on Monday, the survey said growth was concentrated in economic activities with largest share in construction with a growth rate of 36 percent, followed by agriculture and fishing, wholesale and retail trade, transport, storage and communications, services, and public administration.

GDP per capita for Palestinian areas increased by 5 percent during the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter of 2009, spurred mostly by an increase of three percent in the number of workers in construction, industry and the service sector.

Which means that since the settlement freeze ended, with Arabs working to build houses in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Arab GDP for the fourth quarter should go even higher.

So once again the people who say they want “peace” also want to hurt ordinary Palestinian Arabs trying to raise their families in dignity.

It is also interesting to see that the GDP increase is almost directly proportional – 9-10% – to the increase of workers in Israel and the Israeli towns across the green line. Foreign aid might not be so much a factor – jobs and cooperation with Israel is.

By the way, these statistics include Gaza, where no one works for Israelis, so that means that the percentage of West Bank Arabs who work for Israelis is probably closer to 15%. Boycotting Israel would throw the Palestinian Arab economy into a tailspin, and it would raise the West Bank unemployment rate to about the same as Gaza’s is now – from around 17% to around 32%.

Elder of Ziyon

Boehner working behind-the-scenes for RNC candidate

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-01-2011

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Washington (CNN) – The next chairman of the Republican National Committee will be chosen by the 168 party activists who make up the party organization, and no one else.

But with with just 10 days left until next Friday’s election, the candidates are using every tool at their disposal to curry favor with the RNC membership – including leveraging their friendships with powerful allies on Capitol Hill.

According to two RNC members, incoming House Speaker John Boehner has made phone calls to committee members on behalf of Maria Cino, the former Bush administration official and longtime GOP operative.

Cino, regarded as a dark horse in the RNC race, is close to the House Republican Leader and his chief-of-staff Barry Jackson, but Boehner has not offered a public endorsement for Cino.

A spokesman for Boehner did not return a call seeking comment.

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, is also calling RNC members to lobby for his friend, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, sources told CNN. Priebus and Ryan have been personal friends and political allies for over a decade.

Scott Walker, the governor-elect of Wisconsin, is also lobbying RNC members to vote for Priebus

CNN Political Ticker

How’s This Recovery Working For Ya?

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 04-01-2011

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The economy is back. It’s rolling, baby. I know this because the experts on Wall Street and in Washington have all detected signals that a recovery is now well and truly underway. The stock market, a harbinger of economic news so infallible that it’s one of the 10 leading indicators used by the Fed to determine the direction of the economy, is also at record levels after that unfortunate downward turn it took in 2008.

So with all this glorious economic news I was wondering. How’s this recovery working for ya?

Got a lot of jobs to chose from? If you are still employed, is the pay better, the benefits more generous? That home of yours, is it worth more because real estate prices are rising? That non-existent inflation we’re hearing about, does it mean its costing you less to drive your car or buy your gorceries? And if you get your grits at a food bank, as one in seven Americans now do, has the menu options there improved?

Are your muncipal services better than they used to be? Is your kid’s college costs more affordable because tuition is down. Is the assistance that used to make it more afforable heftier? That new information packet you just got from your health insurer, does it tell of lower monthly premiums, more things fully covered, are the co-pays, your share of the costs, lower?

The reason I’m asking is because I think part of what is termed “the new normal” now includes a “new recovery” definition. Old recoveries saw most people’s economic lives improved. New recoveries, it seems, are mostly improvements in the life of the richest, and the ability of the rest of us to merely drag along at a lower level of existence.

But maybe I have it wrong. Maybe improvements in most people’s economic lives are just a lagging indicator. Though one that’s destined to lag along for a very long time while the really important indicators are trending upward..

Happy recovery in any case. Perhaps as we see the evil government phased out more and more, a less fettered marketplace will brings us all a Wall Street-led prosperity. You betcha!

More from this author at http://blog.wallstreetpoet.com/

The Moderate Voice

Lebanese Shi’ite leader on Egypt church bombing: “This terrorist act bears the fingerprints of Zionists who… are working to…sow discord between Muslims and Christians”

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 02-01-2011

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Are you starting to notice a pattern? “Pope leads condemnation of Egypt church attack,” from Agence France-Presse, January 1 (thanks to all who sent this in):

[…] The Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas also condemned the attack, saying it was “certain it was the work of elements acting against the interests of Egypt and looking to promote confrontation between Muslims and Christians”.

A top Shiite Muslim leader in Lebanon, Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, denounced the attack as a “terrorist act aimed at sowing chaos and fear in Egypt”.

“This terrorist act bears the fingerprints of Zionists who keep on targeting religious sights [sic] and are working to … sow discord between Muslims and Christians,” Kabalan said in a statement….

Jihad Watch

NYC sanitation workers caught boozing instead of working during blizzard

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 02-01-2011

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More evidence of the deficiencies of public sector workers protected by their unions.

NYC sanitation workers were caught drinking on the job instead of working, during the blizzard.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Working Over Veterans

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 30-12-2010

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Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are finding that transitioning back to the civilian workforce is pretty damned difficult when there’s no jobs.

While their nonmilitary contemporaries were launching careers during the nearly 10 years the nation has been at war, troops were repeatedly deployed to desolate war zones. And on their return to civilian life, these veterans are forced to find their way in a bleak economy where the skills they learned at war have little value.

Some experts say the grim employment landscape confronting veterans challenges the veracity of one of the central recruiting promises of the nation’s all-volunteer force: that serving in the military will make them more marketable in civilian life.

“That [promise] works great in peacetime,” said Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower under President Ronald Reagan who is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “But that does not work too well in war. . . . If you are in there four years and deployed twice, what kind of skills have you learned other than counterinsurgency?”

The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans was 10 percent in November, compared with 9.1 percent for non-veterans, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment rates for combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been higher than the overall rate since at least 2005, according to the bureau. 

And it’s pretty simple, really.  Employers these days can pick and choose the most qualified candidate for the job, and that usually means somebody with recent experience, not somebody who has spent the last several years out of the job market.

But note that it’s not the recession that caused this.  Iraq and Afghanistan vets have been unemployed at a higher rate since 2005, well before the bottom fell out of the job market.  Employers wonder about the mental health history of a returning vet who served three or four tours in the sandbox.

That means the job market, or lack of it, is driving a lot of vets back into active service.  The larger problem is after nine years of war, we’re discovering new and heartbreaking costs everywhere.

Zandar Versus The Stupid

Palestinian Ban Or No Ban: Arabs Are Working In Israeli Settlements

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 28-12-2010

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I wrote back in June 2009 that it was clear that among the ones who were the most eager to build the settlements were the Palestinian Arabs and that Arabs have been working on construction in the settlements since the very first day-to the extent that today there are over 12,000 Arabs being employed in the settlements, building new homes.

More importantly, the article noted that the Palestinian leaders themselves were aware that there were Arabs helping to build the settlements and did nothing to stop them:

He and most of the laborers interviewed by the Post over the past week said they had never come under pressure from fellow Palestinians to stay away from work in the settlements.

“If they want us to leave our work, they should offer us an alternative,” Abu Sharikheh said. “We don’t come to work in the settlements for ideological reasons or because we support the settlement movement. We come here because our Palestinian and Arab governments haven’t done anything to provide us with better jobs.”

Back in Ma’aleh Adumim, most of the Palestinian laborers said they had no problem revealing their identities.

The PA may not have liked the idea of Arabs working on the settlements, but with no real alternative, they did nothing to stop them-and that goes for Hamas as well:

He [Jawdat Uwaisat] added that even Palestinians known as supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are employed as construction workers in settlements.

“I know some people from Hamas who work as construction laborers in Ariel,” he said. “When people want to feed their children, they don’t think twice.”

The settlements pay 3x what the Palestinian construction companies pay: NIS 350 to NIS 450 a day vs. NIS 100 to NIS 150 a day.

Yet in March, the PA consider putting legislation in place to ban Palestinian Arabs from working in the settlements.

Seven months later, after the number of Arabs working on the settlements has ballooned from 12,000 to 35,000-and the Palestinian leadership is rethinking the ban on Arab workers in the settlements:

The Palestinian Authority has reconsidered a proposal that would have barred Palestinian laborers from working in West Bank Jewish settlements.

Although several PA officials, notably Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh and Prime Minister Salad Fayyad, came out in favor of such a move at the beginning of the year, it appears the PA has decided not to push for legislation on the issue because it is unable to offer the workers alternative employment.

It’s one thing for Arabs to unofficially be working in the settlements-it’s another for it to be reported in the press. Not surprisingly, now the PA has come out with a correction, claiming that they will be implementing a ban incrementally:

Speaking out to clarify Israeli media reports suggesting the Palestinian Authority had decided to reduce restrictions on West Bankers seeking work in settlements, government officials told Ma’an Tuesday that progress on the ban was being made, explaining that the policy of zero Palestinians working in settlements would take time to realize.

“The PA is progressing gradually with its plan to enforce a boycott on work in Israeli settlements by encouraging laborers to abstain from taking jobs there,” PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said Tuesday.

Good luck with that. The ban on using Israeli cellphones went into place over the summer, but has yet to be fully implemented-it turns out that the lack of Palestinian telecom company that can provide service to the West Bank and Jerusalem has made the ban on cellphones unsustainable.

Of course, there is one other small detail that the Palestinian leadership has overlooked: PA boycott of settlements violate the Gaza-Jericho Agreement.

But if the PA can ban Israeli cellphones when they don’t have a telecom company that can provide service to the West Bank, why should they stop to consider some agreement that they signed off on?

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Daled Amos