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New Job Numbers Look Good, But Are They? Federal Budget DELAYED, Maduro Named To Suceed Chavez,

March 9th, 2013 - by:

•••Latest from AlJazeera: Kenyatta wins Kenya’s presidential election

Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta declared poll winner with 50.07 percent of vote, as rival Odinga says he will contest result.

FAIR: When The Truth Was Published and Ignored


Some News For This Saturday

•The Hill: President’s budget delayed until April 


The Obama administration will release its 2014 budget more than two months late on April 8, according to congressional sources.

Pentagon officials have informed the House Armed Services Committee that the budget is coming on April 8, said Claude Chafin, a committee spokesman.

The April release date means President Obama’s budget will be nine weeks late, as it was due by law on Feb. 4, the first Monday in February.

*Jobs Numbers Released Friday

•WP: U.S. economy adds 236,000 jobs in February; unemployment rate falls to 7.7 percent

U.S. employers ramped up hiring in February, adding 236,000 jobs and pushing the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent in January. Stronger hiring shows businesses are confident about the economy, despite higher taxes and government spending cuts.

Analysis

Economic Policy Institute: According to the jobs report released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor market added 236,000 jobs in February, marking three years of job growth since the low point following the Great Recession in February 2010. The strong showing in February is very welcome, but it is useful to put it in context. We have a jobs deficit of 8.9 million jobs (the 3 million we are still down from when the recession started, plus the 5.9 million we should have added over this period to keep up with growth in the potential labor force). Even at February’s growth rate, we wouldn’t get back to the prerecession unemployment rate until mid-2017. The jobs deficit is so large that to return to the prerecession unemployment rate by February 2016, another three years from now, we would have to add 320,000 jobs every single month between now and then.

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary

The stock market is basically back to where it was in 2000, while corporate earnings have doubled since then.

Yet the real median wage is now 8 percent below what it was in 2000, and unemployment remains sky-high.

Why is the stock market doing so well, while most Americans are doing so poorly? Four reasons:

First, productivity gains. Corporations have been investing in technology rather than their workers. They get tax credits and deductions for such investments; they get no such tax benefits for improving the skills of their employees. As a result, corporations can now do more with fewer people on their payrolls. That means higher profits.

Second, high unemployment itself. Joblessness all but eliminates the bargaining power of most workers – allowing corporations to keep wages low. Public policies that might otherwise reduce unemployment – a new WPA or CCC to hire the long-term unemployed, major investments in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure – have been rejected in favor of austerity economics. This also means higher profits, at least in the short run.

Third, globalization. Big American-based corporations have been expanding and hiring around the globe where markets are growing fastest – even while the U.S. market is lackluster. Tax policies and trade policies have encouraged them.

Finally, the Fed’s easy-money policies. They’ve pushed investors into the stock market because bond yields are so low. On Tuesday, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was just 1.9%.

All of this spells widening inequality in America, because the people who invest the most in the stock market have high incomes. Those who rely most on wages have lower incomes.

Following The Money

Public Citizen: We have almost no idea which brand-name companies dumped tens or hundreds of millions of dollars into the last election.

That’s because they are able to funnel their donations through trade associations and dark money groups.

But we do know about one: Chevron.

The oil giant contributed $2.5 million to a super PAC affiliated with GOP House Speaker John Boehner, which was devoted solely to running negative ads against Democratic candidates for Congress.

This sort of corporate meddling in elections is toxic to our democracy. Chevron must be held accountable.

Chevron’s spending was a business investment, made because GOP hard-liner positions — like denying climate change and subsidizing Big Oil — create the conditions for Chevron’s record profits (even as they threaten the conditions for life on Earth).

•Open Secrets.0rg: Tech Firms, Private Prisons at the Center of Lobbying Fray on Immigration

High tech firms like Microsoft are in the thick of the lobbying battle to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws — their big concern is getting more qualified workers in high-tech STEM jobs. But the private prison industry, the construction industry and many other interest groups are pouring money into the fight as well.

•Media Tenor: Europe’s Outlook Worsens

March 8, 2013. New York – Despite a slight improvement in the Economic Sentiment Index, the media’s optimism for a European recovery is waning, according to research from Media Tenor International.

“The ESI did have a slight improvement in February,” says Racheline Maltese, a researcher at Media Tenor. “This reflected a slight improvement in the media’s coverage tone on the economy during this time, but the trend lines have begun to flatten for media tone and the ESI, indicating that the already limited optimism may be running out. Nearly half the coverage on global TV news for European economies remains negative.”

In fact, no economies in Europe were portrayed favorably on global TV news, and several – Greece, Italy, and Spain – received almost no positive or neutral coverage at all. “While the rankings of the economies shifted in February compared to January, what was most notable was that almost every economy faced more negative coverage in February. Only the Eurozone when discussed as a whole avoided this fate, indicating a disconnect between coverage of the EU and its constituent parts,” says Maltese.

European bond sentiment further highlighted this disconnect as quoted analyst interest in Eurobonds waned and most European country bonds were ignored. U.K. gilts and French bonds both received more analyst attention in February compared to January and were the subject of more positive sentiment. Overall, however, European bonds were largely ignored in favor of U.S. issues and sentiment clustered in the neutral range.

•WP: Conclave to select new pope to begin Tuesday, Vatican says

The College of Cardinals will convene Tuesday to begin the formal process of selecting a new pope to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, the Vatican announced Friday.

Scary Headline

•UK Independent: The World Is The Hottest It’s Been Since The End Of The Ice Age

•Comment from Wanderings, with Walter Brasch: Universal Neglect: A Failure to Protect Americans’ Health

I received a letter from a friend this past week.

It was a letter he should never have had to write, yet did so out of desperation.

He is 80 years old, living off occasional writings and Social Security.

He has Medicare, but no dental insurance, and that’s the problem. He needs dental work. A lot of dental work. $10,000 worth of dental work.

Many dental insurance plans for individuals are so expensive, and give relatively few benefits, that many dentists suggest the premiums just aren’t worth it.

Without the dental work, my friend, like many people in the country, will suffer significant additional problems. Infection is one. Poor nutrition is another. There are even links to diabetes and thickening arteries.

So, my friend sent a letter to his friends asking for help. Not a lot of help. Maybe $100 from each of us.

Paul Krassner, my friend and colleague, is a giant in the world of social activism and journalism, praised by Groucho Marx and George Carlin, despised by the Nixonian establishment. He was a proud member of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters; with Abbie and Anita Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Nancy Kurshan, he was a co-founder of the Youth International Party, better known as the Yippies. For almost five decades, he has been one of the nation’s most influential editors, satirists, and columnists, his writings appearing in major newspapers and magazines.

Recently, two of those magazines that ran his column decided they could no longer run it. One editor said the column was spiked because the magazine was “shifting to a more business/retail-oriented editorial content.” The editor of the other magazine, which had published his column for decades, said he had “great admiration for you and your writing,” but decided another writer would now take over that column. That’s just the way it is in journalism.

And so my friend has found his income not just slipping but in free-fall.

If he—the great writer, reporter, and editor—was the only one with this kind of problem, it still might be a story. But he isn’t the only one. And that’s why this story is so important.

Millions of Americans—most who have worked hard their entire lives, and now live on not a lot of money—can’t afford dental bills. So, they don’t see the dentist.

More than 45 million American adults don’t have dental insurance, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control. Medicare doesn’t cover dental procedures; Medicaid, primarily for low-income individuals, only covers dental care for those under the age of 21. However, about one-fourth of all children have untreated tooth decay, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Our system of providing oral health care, particularly for children in this country, is ineffective, inefficient and it’s extremely expensive and it really deprives children of decent care,” says Dr. David Nash, professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Kentucky.

Among adults, according to the Foundation, lack of access to adequate dental care impacts low-income families, the elderly, and minorities more than the general population. Want to know why so many people in those categories don’t have teeth? It’s because the cost to extract a tooth is significantly less expensive than the cost to do a root canal to save it.

Many dentists allow payment plans, or will lower their fees for certain patients; many will not, and demand payment up front. Many dentists participate in an American Dental Association (ADA) program to provide low-cost or free dental care to children; but, dental and medical societies, unlike the American Bar Association, don’t require pro bono community service work to maintain membership.

A number of community non-profit health programs exist, but there are far too few, with far too few financial resources. Patients can go to dental schools and have students, supervised by licensed dentists, work on their teeth. But, there are only 64 dental schools in 36 states, and many patients with dental problems can’t afford the time or gas money to drive more than three or four hours to an appointment.

The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect next year, moved the United States closer to universal health care, already enjoyed by the citizens of 28 industrialized countries. But, it doesn’t cover dental care.

In a nation that doesn’t object to star athletes and Wall Street maggots making a few million dollars a year, or a strange pre-teen named Honey Boo Boo becoming a TV star, we neglect one of the most basic of all human needs. It is the need to assure that every American, no matter who, no matter what social class, has proper health and dental care.

•Related?: Infographic on Future of Health Care

•AJE This Morning: Maduro becomes Venezuela’s interim president

Inauguration of Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor comes just hours after late leader’s state funeral in Caracas.

*Foreign Policy: Maduro to be sworn in as leaders gather for Chavez funeral

Top news: More than 30 world leaders, including Raul Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have arrived in Venezuela for the funeral of Hugo Chavez. The government has announced that Chavez’s body will be embalmed for public view. The late president’s body is already lying in state and officials say more than 2 million people have viewed it since Wednesday.

Legislature chief Diasdado Cabello announced that Vice President and Chavez’s chosen successor Nicolas Maduro will be sworn in as acting president today. He will also be the ruling party’s candidate in upcoming elections, which the constitution says must be held within 30 days. The opposition has objected, saying the constitution specifies Cabello should be the acting president.

Maduro appears likely to face Henrique Capriles, the Miranda state governor who lost to Chavez in last year’s election.

•¥ahoo: North Korea rejects U.N. sanctions, China calls for calm

North Korea formally rejected a U.N. Security Council resolution on Saturday that demands an end to its nuclear arms program, signaling it would defy international sanctions and pursue its goal of becoming a full-fledged nuclear weapons state. The Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday, tightening financial restrictions and cracking down on its attempts to transport banned cargo. The North’s sole major ally China wants the sanctions fully implemented.

•DB: Bin Laden Son-in-Law Pleads Not Guilty

Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to kill Americans on Friday during a brief appearance in Manhattan federal court. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, who appeared in videos representing al Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is one of the highest-ranked al Qaeda officials to undergo a civilian trial in the U.S., a few blocks from the World Trade Center. Republican lawmakers have slammed the Justice Department for bringing the al Qaeda spokesman to New York, saying he belongs in military custody in Guantánamo Bay. Prosecutors said they expect the trial to last three weeks, and the date will be set in April.

•Prabhat Patnaik – Telegraph, Calcutta: A Question From India on THE CRISIS AND THE LEFT

Change will come as the third world’s economies are hit harder

In his new book, Power Systems, Noam Chomsky raises the question: why has the present economic crisis not evoked the sort of massive protest from the working class in the United States of America that the Great Depression of the 1930s did? True, the scale of unemployment today is not as large as it had been during the 1930s. Nonetheless it is substantial; and the crisis has already lasted five years with no end in sight. And yet, America remains a ‘desert’ in terms of any militant working-class mobilization against it.

The proximate answer he provides for this difference is the collapse of militant trade unionism in today’s US; but underlying this, according to him, is the collapse of the US Communist Party, which had played a major role in mobilizing the workers during the Depression. Since Chomsky, as an anarchist, is not known to be particularly well-disposed towards communist parties, his lauding the role of the US Communist Party during the 1930s, cannot be dismissed as a paean from the faithful.

Elsewhere too the communists had played a crucial role in mobilizing the workers during the Great Depression. In Germany, for instance, the party’s support among the young and unemployed workers had soared before Hitler’s coming to power. Large-scale unemployment provides the soil not only for the growth of fascist tendencies that pit one segment of the people against another (“outsiders are stealing your jobs”), or that invoke a mythical conspiracy by an almost non- existent minority as the cause of the people’s woes (half a million Jews in the 1930s are responsible for the woes of 70 million Germans), it also nourishes the growth of a militant Left that mobilizes workers’ resistance.

The question then arises: why has the Left not emerged as a powerful force mobilizing the people in the current crisis? Of course, the growth of Syriza in Greece, of Beppe Grillo’s “Five Star” movement in Italy (and possibly of Yair Lapid’s movement in Israel), can be seen as part of people’s resistance in the context of the crisis. But these movements are not just amorphous (which is not surprising); they lack, as yet, any clear-cut socio-economic programme.

•Greetings from South Africa where I will be for another few weeks working on a film project. Please check out the updated Mediachannel.org. Your comments and suggestions welcome to dissector@mediachannel.org