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27 Dec 2011 23:54


World: “Horrible things were happening before my eyes”

  • Police brutality that’s not “Occupy”-related: It’s been ignored by most Western media, but a police crackdown on a labor strike in Kazakhstan earlier this month resulted in 16 deaths (officially reported; protesters say the number is much higher), one truly disturbing video of protesters getting shot and beaten as they run away, and now, charges of a torture basement beneath a Kazakh police station. Here’s what’s being reported.
  • DETAINED FOR NO REASON Asem Kenzhebaeva says that on the day of the protests, police detained her, for no reason, while she was searching the streets of Zhanaozen for her father, who had gone missing earlier that day. “That day, police were arresting anyone they saw in the street,” Kenzhebaeva said.
  • TORTURE BASEMENTPolice brought her to a dark, dirty basement under the station, filled with other detainees. According to Kenzhebaeva, women were being stripped naked, dragged by the hair, and beaten by “people in masks.” Kenzhabaeva was beaten and strangled–but ultimately released by the police.
  • WHAT TORTURE? When she returned to the scene with government officials later that week, the basement had been completely cleaned up, and looked “white like a hospital.” Her father, meanwhile, turned up two days later, having been severely beaten by police. He died of his wounds the day before Christmas (Photo: AFP)source

20 Dec 2011 22:16


U.S.: Unemployment fell in majority of states last month

  • 43 states have seen a decrease in unemployment since October source
  • » As goes the country, so go the states: Or maybe it’s the other way around? Well, either way, figures released today by the Department of Labor show that unemployment, in addition to falling to its lowest level in two and a half years at the national level, also decreased on a state-by-state basis in all but seven states. This is promising, as it suggests that the uptick in employment is a nationwide trend, and not the result of, say, five or ten states doing abnormally well for one reason or another. Note: The usual disclaimers about the problems with how unemployment is calculated apply.

15 Dec 2011 11:16


Biz: Christmas miracle? New unemployment claims hit 3.5-year low

  • 366,000 the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits last week — a number that’s been on the decline for months
  • 365,000 the number of people who filed during a week in May 2008, the last time that the jobless benefits numbers were quite this low source
  • » However: Don’t get too excited, guys. While the heavily-fluctuating number is certainly better than it’s been in a long time (and the unemployment number is at its lowest level in a long time), the comeback is far from here. Example: During the financial crisis, the U.S. lost roughly 8.8 million jobs; less than a third of those jobs have returned. On top of this, many are still unemployed, and their benefits could run out soon if Congress does not act on the extension for unemployment benefits. Yeah, sorry we have to be such downers, but let’s look in perspective here.

02 Dec 2011 12:39


Biz: Rosy, but not too rosy: Today’s jobs numbers show modest upswing

  • 8.6% jobless rate in November, the lowest since early ’09
  • positive The economy added many more private-sector jobs in November than in prior months — 120,000 new non-farm payrolls, to be exact. A sign of recovery?
  • positive On top of this, the revised jobs numbers from September and October show that things were rosier than first estimated, meaning it’s a more substantial upswing.
  • negative However, the drop in unemployment partly came from an overall shrinking of the labor force. In other words, fewer people are seeking jobs. Bummer. source
  • » Political ramifications: The jobs numbers aren’t at a point where people have reason to be dancing in the streets, but cautious optimism is the name of the game. The GOP’s election platform could waver if the numbers get any better. Hence this response from House speaker John Boehner: “Any job creation is welcome news, but the jobless rate in this country is still unacceptable.” What do you all think?

29 Aug 2011 17:42


Politics: House Republicans plot major deregulatory push

  • Deregulation = jobs: A memo obtained by ShortFormBlog contains details of an upcoming Republican effort to push massive deregulatory legislation through the House of Representatives, in hopes of unshackling “costly bureaucratic handcuffs” faced by businesses. The letter, sent today by Eric Cantor to the House Republican caucus, details the “Top 10 Job-Destroying Regulations,” and how Republicans plan to address them. “By pursuing a steady repeal of job-destroying regulations,” Cantor wrote, “we can help lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over small and large employers alike, empowering them to hire more workers.” Some key proposals:
  • Weakened emission limits  The TRAIN (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation) Act, along with the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, would delay implementation of EPA standards intended to limit air pollution.
  • Limiting union power The Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act would limit the National Labor Relations Board’s power, rescinding its ability to influence relocation of manufacturing plants.
  • Farm dust for all The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act would, as expected, restrict the federal government’s ability to regulate farm dust, allowing it to do so only within state and local regulations. source
  • » In keeping with Republican orthodoxy, Cantor also proposes to two tax cuts (one for government contractors, another for small businesses), and the repeal of unspecified provisions of the Affordable Care Act. What do you all think of Cantor’s plan? Read the whole thing at the link. (AP Photo)

25 Aug 2011 10:44


Biz: Unemployment claims rise based on a single company’s labor issues

  • what Even though investors were expecting a drop in first-time jobless claims last week to roughly 400,000, they actually went up to 417,000 — up 5,000 from the prior week. Wait a second …
  • why Simple — Verizon workers went on strike, and 8,500 of them filed unemployment benefits (12,500 filed the week before). They’ve since gone back to work, so expect this to change next week. source

05 Aug 2011 13:46


Biz, U.S.: Jobs report: More silver lining than cloud, but it’s still cloudy out

  • positive After a couple of fairly mediocre months, the latest jobs report from the federal government was fairly positive, showing a dip in unemployment to 9.1 percent and an increase in jobs.
  • negative Problem is, the report happened to come the day after a massive stock selloff that followed a week of non-positive economic data. And a debt ceiling crisis. And a weakened worldwide economy. source

18 Jul 2011 23:02


Politics: A quick-ish update on the Wisconsin situation

  • plan Democrats in Wisconsin are pushing hard to recall Governor Scott Walker for the draconian anti-union bill he pushed through the legislature this past Spring.
  • problem The recall election could fall on the same day as the GOP presidential primary, ensuring a large Republican turnout and possibly carrying Walker to safety. source
  • The Details: Stick with us here. In order to recall Walker, Democrats need to gather around 540,000 signatures (that number being 25% of the total votes cast for Governor last year); once this process starts, they’ll have sixty days to hit that target. If and when they do, state election officials will likely schedule the recall on the same day as the next major statewide election. The question is: When should Democratic operatives start gathering signatures?
  • on the one hand…This fall, recall elections against several state senators (of both parties) will have wrapped up. Some Democrats want to ride that momentum directly into the signature-gathering process, ensuring that they’re able to collect enough. The thing is, if they do it within that timeframe, the recall will most likely fall on the same day as the GOP presidential primary.
  • on the other hand…Democrats could also wait longer to gather signatures, timing it so that the recall falls the same day Obama faces re-election. This would result in a much higher voter turnout for Democrats. However, Walker’s anti-union antics may have faded from the public consciousness by then, jeopardizing the Democrats’ ability to get enough signatures.
  • » The kicker: State Republicans, who would prefer the first scenario, are said to be considering launching a fake “Recall Walker” signature-gathering campaign in the fall, in order to force an early recall. Seriously, guys—who ever said politics was boring?

06 Jul 2011 22:04


Politics: Connecticut mandates sick leave for employees, first in nation to do so

  • YES every worker in CT will receive paid sick time source
  • » Bucking the trend: 2011 hasn’t been a great year for worker’s rights; for further information on this, Google “Scott Walker.” However, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy reversed the tide this week, signing a bill that grants all employees, public and private, one hour of mandatory paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. This is the first real political victory workers have enjoyed all year, at least at the state level; in addition, Connecticut is the first state in the nation to pass such a law. The only thing proponents of the law didn’t get? A signing ceremony for the bill. (Note: the law only applies to companies with more than 50 employees).

03 Jun 2011 12:18


U.S.: Unemployment creeps upward for second month in a row

  • 9.1% unemployment in May, up from 9% in April  source
  • » That’s a .2% increase since March, when unemployment was looking “good” at 8.9%. A total of 83,000 jobs were added in the (nonfarm) private sector; however, 29,000 governmental employees got the axe last month, bringing the total number of jobs added down to 54,000. Here’s to a better month.