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Archive for August, 2009
It turns out the man accused of smashing windows at the Dem headquarters in Denver is a former Democrat. Earlier in the week a Democratic Party chairwoman said the vandals were people opposed to Obamacare.
“An act of vandalism at Colorado Democratic headquarters that shattered windows next to signs about health care reform took a strange turn Wednesday when it was revealed that one of the suspects was a Democratic activist,” the Associated Press reported. “Democratic leaders initially said that the window shattering was an act of political vandalism, possibly by opponents of health care reform. But the political leanings of suspect Maurice Schwenkler raised the prospect that one of the party’s own might have vandalized its building to make a statement.”
On Thursday, the crime took a turn for the weird. “In what a Republican lawmaker has touted as a bid to win sympathy for Democrats, an anarchist transperson allegedly shattered windows at the Democratic headquarters in Denver, Colorado,” Edge Boston writes today. It is said the accused vandal, Maurice Schwenkler, a.k.a. Ariel Attack, is a writer connected to “Queers Against Obama,” a fact established by Colorado Indymedia.
The Queers Against Obama blog is open to invited readers only.
Anarchist groups have a notorious history of turning out to be police operatives and agents provocateurs. In 2007, for instance, cops disguised as anarchist protesters tried to provoke fights between riot police and demonstrators at a globalist confab in Montebello, Quebec, Canada. Police eventually admitted they used uncover cops during the summit.
As documented by Alex Jones in his documentary Police State 2, police allowed black bloc anarchists to riot in downtown Seattle during anti-globalist protests in 1999 while they worked to prevent the movement of peaceful protestors. “The film presents evidence that the left-wing anarchist groups are actually controlled by the state and used to demonize peaceful protesters,” writes Steve Watson
During the G20 in London earlier this year, an MP accused the government of dispatching agents provocateurs to stir up demonstrators. “The use of plain-clothes officers in crowd situations is considered a vital tactic for gathering evidence. It has been used effectively to combat football hooliganism in the UK and was employed during the May Day protests in 2001,” an apologist writing for the Guardian said.
In June of 2008, British MP George Galloway accused London Metropolitan Police of engaging in “a deliberate conspiracy to bring about scenes of violent disorder” during President George W. Bush’s visit to the UK.
The FBI’s COINTELPRO routinely used agents provocateurs in the late 1960s and early 1970s to discredit and frame antiwar activists and others (see COINTELPRO: The Untold American Story). The CIA and NATO’s Operation Gladio in Europe relied on agents provocateurs to commit violent acts that were it turn blamed on the left and communists and used to implement repressive police states in Italy and elsewhere.
In Denver, State Rep. Balmer publicly speculated that Schwenkler had committed the crime to cast Republicans in a bad light and garner sympathy for Democrats. “This sounds like the type of Democratic tactic from the left fringe trying to make Republicans look mean-spirited,” the Denver Post quoted Balmer as saying.
Balmer is only partially correct. In fact, both sides of the political establishment — both representing the same coterie of ruling elite criminals — have a long and sordid history of using agents provocateurs and dirty tricks to gain political mileage at the expensive of their supposed opponents.
Mr. Balmer need look no further than the unethical, duplicitous, slanderous or illegal tactics employed to destroy or diminish the effectiveness of the Democrats by Republicans during the Nixon era. Republican operative Donald Segretti specialized in dirty tricks. His understudy was none other than Karl Rove.
Dirty tricks and destructive behavior pays. Rove is now the darling of Fox News and numerous talk radio programs.
Source: Prison Planet
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The Federal Reserve asked a judge yesterday to delay enforcement of her decision requiring the central bank to identify companies in its emergency lending programs.
Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preskain Manhattan said on Aug. 24 that the Fed had until Aug. 31 to disclose daily reports on borrowing by banks and other financial institutions. The central bank wants Preska to stay her order, made in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, until the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York can act on an appeal that the Fed said it intends to file.
The Fed and U.S. banks would suffer irreparable harm if details of the loan programs were made public, according to the central bank’s senior counsel,Yvonne Mizusawa.
The Clearing House Association LLC, an industry-owned group in New York that processes payments between banks, filed a declaration that accompanied the request for a stay.
“There are numerous examples of financially sound institutions collapsing or suffering further financial deterioration from the loss of public confidence,” Norman Nelson, vice president and general counsel for the group, said in the document.
Preska’s Aug. 24 ruling against the central bank rejected the Fed’s argument that the records shouldn’t be disclosed because they are trade secrets and would scare customers into pulling their deposits and exacerbating a run on the banks.
The Fed has refused to name the financial firms it lent to or disclose the amounts or the assets put up as collateral under 11 programs, saying that doing so might set off a run by depositors and unsettle shareholders.
Bloomberg LP, the New York-based company that’s majority- owned by MayorMichael Bloomberg, sued on Nov. 7 on behalf of its Bloomberg News unit. Bloomberg News opposes the Fed’s request for a stay.
The case is Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 08-CV-9595, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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An investigation is underway into the death of a man who was repeatedly tasered by an L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy.
The man died after he was shocked three times by a deputy with an electric stun gun Wednesday night at the North Hollywood Red Line Subway.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore says the man, who was not immediately identified, was stopped by deputies and asked repeatedly if he had a ticket.
When the man didn’t answer, a deputy grabbed the man’s hands to stop and question him. A struggle ensued and the man broke free, Whitmore said. He then reportedly raised clenched fists and charged the deputy several times. He was tasered, then shocked two more times when he got up and charged at the deputy again.
Whitmore says deputies recovered a glass crack pipe that fell out of the man’s pocket during the scuffle.
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In an interview released today by Digg and the Wall Street Journal, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was pressured about the growing popular movement to Audit the Fed spearheaded by Texas Congressman Ron Paul. A visibly uncomfortable Geithner attempts to dismiss the question by stating “I’m sure people understand that you want to keep politics out of monetary policy.” When Geithner is again pressed on the issue, he makes the stunning assertion that conducting an audit of the Federal Reserve—something never before done in its 96 year history—is a “line that we don’t want to cross,” proclaiming that such a move would be “problematic for the country.” Watch the interview in the player below:
Geithner’s response that auditing the Fed would give politicians dangerous control over American monetary policy is mistaken at best and a deliberate lie at worst. Allowing the public to know what happened to their $24 trillion in bailout money does not give undue control of monetary policy to the people’s elected representatives. Instead, such an audit would finally allow the public to see how their money has been spent in the midst of the largest spending binge in the history of the world’s economy, hardly an unreasonable demand given the well-documented revolving door between the Treasury and Goldman Sachs, the main recipient of bailout funds. Ultimately, the Treasury Secretary is left spewing the absurdity that “I think even the sponsor of that bill recognizes how important it is to us to have the Fed independent of politics,” which can only be said to be true insofar as Ron Paul—the sponsor of House Resolution (HR) 1207— wants to abolish the Federal Reserve system altogether.
That the Wall Street Journal would even pressure the Treasury Secretary on serious issues like the Audit the Fed movement may be surprising, given that the Wall Street Journal is a mouthpiece of the financial oligarchy and that editor Paul Gigot, like Geithner himself, is a Bilderberg attendee. Needless to say, this was not a typical inside-the-beltway interview. Instead, questions were submitted and voted on by the Digg community, with the top 10 questions being posed to Mr. Geithner.
As a result, the Secretary was bombarded by pointed questions about his documented tax evasion from 2001-2004, the wisdom of spending trillions of dollars in the light of long-term dollar devaluation and even, in the words of one particularly irate questioner, “Why are you running the Treasury Department?” Despite presumably having had time to prepare responses to each question well in advance, Geithner is still visibly discomfited by the entire exchange, picking at his shirt cuff and coughing nervously throughout the interview.
In one particularly telling moment, Geithner even admits “We have been forced to do just extraordinary things and, frankly, offensive things to help save the economy.”
That these questions are only being asked now, almost a year into the bailout and several months after the new administration has taken office, further highlights how the controlled corporate media is doing everything in its power to keep to well-trodden and uncontroversial areas in their interviewing of key administration officials. This interview is testimony to the power of the citizen journalism movement that is attempting to hold those in power accountable for their actions. We can only hope that the Obama Administration lives up to their promise to be the “cyber” administration by allowing more such question-and-answer sessions in the future.
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Unemployment is disastrous on both the individual and societal level.
Individuals who look for work but can’t find it are miserable.
On the national level, high unemployment is both cause and effect concerning other problems with the economy. As we’ll see below, high unemployment results from a weak economy and – in turn – weakens the economy.
Until the causes of, and solutions to, high levels of unemployment are understood, we will not be able to solve the problem.
How High is Unemployment?
Before we can even start looking at causes or solutions, we have to understand what the current level of unemployment really is, and what the trends portend for the future.
Let’s use America as an example. With the largest economy in the world, it has often been said that “when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold”. And much of the rest of the world has adopted the “Washington Consensus” – America’s neoliberal view of economics. Moreover, the rest of the world has been infected by many types of “toxic assets” invented in America, such as credit default swap derivatives, as well as Wall Street style banking strategies. So I will use the United States has a case example, but will also touch on global trends.
Official figures put unemployment in the United States somewhere between 9 and 10 percent. But the official figures use a very different measure for unemployment than was used during the Great Depression and for many decades afterwards.
Specifically, the official unemployment reports of the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provide conventional “U-3″ figures and various alternative measures including “U-6″. 
For example, as of December 2008, U-3 unemployment was 7.2 percent, while U-6 was 13.5 percent. 
U-6 is actually more accurate, because it includes those who would like full-time work, but can only find part-time work, or have given up looking for work altogether.
As can be seen by the December 2008 figures, U-6 unemployment rate can almost double the more commonly-cited U-3 figures.
But those in the know argue that the real rate is actually even higher than the U-6 figures.
For example, PhD economist John Williams  and Paul Craig Roberts  – former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and former editor of the Wall Street Journal – both said in December 2008 that – if the unemployment rate was calculated as it was during the Great Depression – the December 2008 unemployment figure would actually have been 17.5%.
Williams says  that unemployment figures for July 2009 rose to 20.6% .
According to an article  summarizing the projections of former International Monetary Fund Chief Economist and Harvard University Economics Professor Kenneth Rogoff and University of Maryland Economics Professor Carmen Reinhart, U-6 unemployment could rise to 22% within the next 4 years or so.
As the New York Times pointed out in July :
Include [those who have given up looking for a job and those part-time workers who want to be working full time] — as the Labor Department does when calculating its broadest measure of the job market — and the rate reached 23.5 percent in Oregon this spring, according to a New York Times analysis of state-by-state data. It was 21.5 percent in both Michigan and Rhode Island and 20.3 percent in California. In Tennessee, Nevada and several other states that have relied heavily on manufacturing or housing, the rate was just under 20 percent this spring and may have since surpassed it.
Indeed, the chief of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank -Dennis Lockhart – said in August 2009:
If one considers the people who would like a job but have stopped looking — so-called discouraged workers — and those who are working fewer hours than they want, the unemployment rate would move from the official 9.4 percent to 16 percent. 
Many people – including economists and financial reporters – say that unemployment is much lower than it was during the Great Depression. What they mean when they say that is that current U-3 figures in America are under 10%, while unemployment hit 25% during the Great Depression.
But most people forget that the worst unemployment numbers during the Great Depression did not occur until years after the initial 1929 crash . Specifically, unemployment did not hit 25% until at least 3 years after the start of the Depression.
As of this writing (2009), we are only a year into the current economic crisis. Therefore, we have at least 2 more years to go until we hit the same period that unemployment peaked during the Great Depression.
Indeed, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich wrote in April that the unemployment figures show that we are already in a depression.
And Chris Tilly – director of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA – points out that some populations, such as African-Americans and high school dropouts, have been hit much harder than other populations, and that these groups are already experiencing depression-level unemployment.
Assuming that Williams and Roberts’ calculations of unemployment are correct (using the same methods of measuring unemployment as were used during the Great Depression), then – as shown by the following charts – unemployment percentages may actually be worse than they were during a comparable period in the Great Depression:
We also know that, in terms of total numbers of unemployment people (as opposed to percentages), more people will be unemployed than during the Great Depression.
What Are the Unemployment Trends?
If unemployment is anywhere near as bad as during a comparable period during the Great Depression, the obvious question is where the trends are heading.
It is well known among economists that unemployment is a “lagging” indicator. In other words, there is a lag time. When the economy hits a rough patch, the economic weakness will not show up in the unemployment numbers until several months or years later.
For example, as Europe’s largest bank – RBS – warns:
Even if the economy starts to turn up the headwinds will be formidable,” [the company's CEO] warned. “The green shoots are short in duration and you need to be cautious about interpreting them. Even if growth returns, unemployment will rise for some time afterwards …
Because of the lag time between conditions in the economy and unemployment, we have to ask the following two questions in order to forecast future unemployment trends:
1) How bad were conditions in 2008 and early 2009?
2) What will economic conditions be like in the future?
How Bad Did It Get?
Unfortunately, many experts – including the following people – have said that the economic crisis which started in 2008 could be worse than the Great Depression:
- Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said on July 26, 2009:
A lot of things happened, a lot came together, [and] created probably the worst financial crisis, certainly since the Great Depression and possibly even including the Great Depression. 
- Economics professors Barry Eichengreen and and Kevin H. O’Rourke said that world-wide conditions are worse than during a comparable period during the Great Depression  (updated in June 2009 )
- Investment advisor, risk expert and bestselling author Nassim Nicholas Taleb said that the current crisis could be “vastly worse” than the Great Depression
- Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker believes the current crisis may be even worse than the Depression 
- Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said “this is worse than the Great Depression” 
- Economics scholar and former Federal Reserve Governor Frederick Mishkin said that conditions were worse than during the Depression 
- Well-known PhD economist PhD Economist Marc Faber believes this could be far worse than the Great Depression
- Former Goldman Sachs chairman John Whitehead thinks that the current slump is worse than the Depression 
- Morgan Stanley’s UK equity strategist Graham Secker predicts economic collapse worse than the Great Depression 
- Former chief credit officer at Fannie Mae Edward J. Pinto said in January 2009 that the current housing crisis was worse than the Depression, and that current efforts to rescue the mortgage industry are less successful than those used during the 1930s. 
- Billionaire investor George Soros said in February 2009 that the current economic turbulence is actually more severe than during the Great Depression, comparing the current situation to the demise of the Soviet Union. 
What Will Economic Conditions Be Like In the Future?
As of this writing, the fact that unemployment will substantially increase is quite controversial. Most people still assume that the benefits of the government’s policies will soon kick in, the economy will recover, and then jobs will recover soon afterwards.
In order to accurately determine how bad general economic conditions – and thus unemployment – might be in the future, it is necessary to look at a variety of trends, including residential real estate, commercial real estate, toxic assets held by banks, loan loss rates, consumer spending, age demographics, the decline in manufacturing, and destruction of credit.
Residential Real Estate
Citigroup is projecting that unemployment in Spain will rise from its current 17.9% to 22% next year. 
Spain’s unemployment is largely driven by the bursting of its housing bubble. 
Unfortunately, while the peak in subprime mortgages is behind us, many analysts say that Alt-A mortgage defaults have not yet occurred (as of this writing), but will not peak until 2010.
Indeed, the crash in real estate and rising unemployment together form a negative feedback loop. As McClatchy notes, foreclosures rise as jobs and income drop. 
Former chief IMF economist Simon Johnson notes that a vicious cycle also exists between unemployment and property foreclosures:
Unemployment is always a lagging indicator, and given the record low number of average hours worked, it will turn around especially slowly this time. Until then, people will continue to lose their jobs and wages will remain flat, and any small rebound in housing prices is unlikely to help more than a few people refinance their way out of unaffordable mortgages. So unless the other part of the equation – monthly payments – changes, the number of foreclosures should just continue to rise.
Indeed, the Washington Post notes:
The country’s growing unemployment is overtaking subprime mortgages as the main driver of foreclosures, according to bankers and economists, threatening to send even higher the number of borrowers who will lose their homes and making the foreclosure crisis far more complicated to unwind.
Commercial Real EstateMoreover, a crash in commercial real estate is now picking up speed. Unlike the subprime mortgage meltdown – which affected mainly the biggest banks – the commercial meltdown will apparently affect a huge number of small to medium-sized banks. 
On August 11, 2009, the Congressional Oversight Panel on the bailouts issued a report saying that small and medium sized banks are especially vulnerable, the report will say, in part they hold greater numbers of commercial real estate loans, “which pose a potential threat of high defaults.” 
That could spell real trouble for employment by small businesses since (1) smaller institutions are disproportionately responsible for providing credit to small businesses , (2) credit is essential for many small businesses, (3) commercial real estate is crashing even faster than residential , and (4) industry experts forecast that the commercial real estate market won’t bottom out for three more years.
Indeed, largely because of the commercial real estate crash, the FDIC expects 500 banks to fail in the coming months. 
Unfortuantely, the crash in commercial real estate is occurring world-wide. 
The Congressional Oversight Panel report also says that banks remain threatened by billions of dollars of bad loans on their balance sheets, more could fail if the economy worsens, and that – if unemployment rises sharply or the commercial real estate market collapses – the banking system could again crash:
The financial system [still remains] vulnerable to the crisis conditions that [the bailout] was meant to fix…
Financial stability remains at risk if the underlying problem of toxic assets remains unresolved.
As Reuters notes:
The chairman of the congressional oversight panel, Elizabeth Warren, said no one even knows the value of the toxic assets still on banks’ books…”No one has a good handle how much is out there,” Warren said. “Here we are 10 months into this crisis…and we can’t tell you what the dollar value is.”
Loan Loss Rates
Loan loss rates in could also be worse than the Great Depression, at least in the United States. Specifically, during the depths of the Great Depression, the loss rate which banks suffered on their loans climbed as high as 3.4% (it is normally well under 2.0%).
Last month, banking analyst Mike Mayo predicted that loan loss rates could go as high as 5.5%, which is substantially higher than during the 1930s.
But the Federal Reserve’s more adverse scenario for the stress tests – which everyone knows is too rosy concerning most of its assumptions – predicts a loan loss rate of 9.1%, nearly three times higher than during the 1930s.
As US News and World Report wrote in May 2009:
For most of the past 50 years, the loss rate on all bank loans has stayed well under 2 percent. The Fed estimates that over the next two years the loss rate could reach 9.1 percent. You know all those historical comparisons that end with “the worst since the Great Depression”? Well, 9.1 percent would be EVEN WORSE than during the 1930s. Still looking forward to a soft landing or a quick recovery?
Consumer spending accounts for the vast majority of the economy in the United States. The figure commonly cited is that consumer spending accounts for 70% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product. . (Consumer spending has been a lower percentage of GDP in most other countries. )
But the economic crisis is driving consumer spending downward. Economist David Rosenberg  says that consumers have undergone a generational shift in spending habits, and will be frugal for a long time to come.
Consumer spending as a percentage of GDP has moved down, will probably continue to move down through the end of year, and then normalize as we get into somewhere in early-to-mid next year, from our point of view.
The chief economist of IHS Global Insight, Nariman Behravesh, says consumer spending will decline to 65 percent of GDP:
With individuals more focused on saving than spending, Behravesh said retail consumer spending as a percentage of GDP is likely to fall from 70 percent to 65 percent. “It will take a while, maybe 10 years,” he said. “Correspondingly other countries are going to have to shift in the opposite direction to rely more on their own consumers rather than the U.S. consumers.”
Jason DeSena Trennert, Chief Investment Strategist for Strategas Research Partners, says:
Consumer spending as a percentage of GDP is going to go in one direction for a long time — lower.
Time points out :
Economist Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, says that “there is good reason to believe the capitulation of the American consumer has only just begun.” U.S. consumer spending as a percentage of GDP reached 72% in 2007, well above the pre-bubble norm of 67%. Using that as a gauge, Roach says that only 20% of the potential retrenchment of spending has taken place, even after the dramatic decline at the end of 2008. “The imbalance that contributed to the crisis — overconsumption and excessive savings — cannot continue,” says Ajay Chhibber, director of the Asia bureau at the United Nations Development Program in New York City. “The model where you stimulate and [then] go back to the old days is gone.”
The Wall Street Journal notes:
“Economists also see an upturn in U.S. household saving as the beginning of a prolonged period of thrift…..”
Financial analysts who have studied U.S. demographics – like Harry Dent and Claus Vogt – point out that the U.S. population is aging:
United States Population Pyramid for 2010
United States Population Pyramid for 2020
United States Population Pyramid for 2050
Vogt argues that an aging population within a given nation is correlated with a decline in that country’s economy. . Certainly, a population with less working-age people and more dependent elderly people will experience a drag on its economy.
Dent argues that one of the main drivers of a country’s economic growth is the number of people in the country who are in their peak spending years.
For example, Dent says that in the U.S., 45-54 year olds are the biggest spenders, because that is when – on average – they are paying for their kids’ college, paying mortgage on the biggest house they will own during their life, etc. Dent argues that the American economy will tend to grow when the number of 45-54 year olds grows, and to shrink when it shrinks.
As the charts above show, the number of 45-54 year olds in the U.S. will shrink considerably in the year ahead.
Decline in Manufacturing
As everyone knows, the manufacturing has shrunk in the United States and the service sector has grown. Even in a manufacturing center such as Detroit, manufacturing jobs have been declining for decades:
Indeed, according to professor of economics Dr. Mark J. Perry, manufacturing jobs have dropped to their lowest level since 1941, and are now below 9% of the workforce for the first time. 
Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies argues:
For each job lost in the manufacturing industry, more spinoff jobs are lost than would be in other sectors. Each manufacturing job helps support a larger number of other jobs than do most other sectors. 
That means that the ongoing reduction in manufacturing jobs will adversely affect unemployment for the foreseeable future.
Destruction of Credit
The amount of credit outstanding has been reduced by trillions of dollars in the past year.
For example, the amount of consumer credit outstanding has plummeted:
Banks have become tight-fisted about lending, and this will probably not change any time soon. As the New York Times wrote in an article from October 2008 entitled “Banks Are Likely to Hold Tight to Bailout Money”:
“Will lenders deploy their new-found capital quickly, as the Treasury hopes, and unlock the flow of credit through the economy? Or will they hoard the money to protect themselves?
John A. Thain, the chief executive of Merrill Lynch, said on Thursday that banks were unlikely to act swiftly. Executives at other banks privately expressed a similar view.
‘We will have the opportunity to redeploy that,’ Mr. Thain said of the new capital on a telephone call with analysts. ‘But at least for the next quarter, it’s just going to be a cushion.’
Lenders have been pulling back on credit lines for businesses, mortgages, home equity loans and credit card offers, and analysts said that trend was unlikely to be reversed by the government’s money.
Roger Freeman, an analyst at Barclays Capital, which acquired parts of the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers last month [said] ‘My expectation is it’s quarters off, not months off, before you see that capital being put to work.’ ”
“It doesn’t matter how much Hank Paulson gives us,” said an influential senior official at a big bank that received money from the government, “no one is going to lend a nickel until the economy turns.” The official added: “Who are we going to lend money to?” before repeating an old saw about banking: “Only people who don’t need it.”
Reading between the lines, the bank officials are saying that they will not lend freely until the economic crisis is over.
In addition, the securitization market has largely collapsed, which in turn has destroyed a large proportion of the world’s credit. As noted in an article in the Washington Times:
“Before last fall’s financial crisis, banks provided only $8 trillion of the roughly $25 trillion in loans outstanding in the United States, while traditional bond markets provided another $7 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. The largest share of the borrowed funds – $10 trillion – came from securitized loan markets that barely existed two decades ago. . . .
Mr. Regalia [chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce] said … 70 percent of the system isn’t there anymore,’ he said.”
The reason that seventy percent of the system “isn’t there anymore” is because the traditional bond markets and securitized loan markets (part of the “shadow banking system”) have dried up. As the Washington Times article notes:
“Congress’ demand that banks fill in for collapsed securities markets poses a dilemma for the banks, not only because most do not have the capacity to ramp up to such large-scale lending quickly. The securitized loan markets provided an essential part of the machinery that enabled banks to lend in the first place. By selling most of their portfolios of mortgages, business and consumer loans to investors, banks in the past freed up money to make new loans. . . .
“The market for pooled subprime loans, known as collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), collapsed at the end of 2007 and, by most accounts, will never come back. Because of the surging defaults on subprime and other exotic mortgages, investors have shied away from buying the loans, forcing banks and Wall Street firms to hold them on their books and take the losses.”
Senior economic adviser for UBS Investment Bank, George Magnus, confirms:
The restoration of normal credit creation should not be expected, until the economy has adjusted to the disappearance of shadow bank credit, and until banks have created the capacity to resume lending to creditworthy borrowers. This is still about capital adequacy, where better signs of organic capital creation are welcome. More importantly now though, it is about poor asset quality, especially as defaults and loan losses rise into 2010 from already elevated levels.
Not only has the supply of credit been destroyed, but the demand for many types of loans – such as commercial real estate loans – is also drying up.
So there is simply much less credit flowing through the economic system than there was prior to 2007.
This recession has been so destructive that “we may not go back to the old growth path … potential output may be lower than it was before the crisis.”
All of the above trends force many economists to conclude that economic activity as a whole will be lower for many, many years. In other words, they say that “The New Normal” will be a much lower level for the economy.
Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian says elevated unemployment and record wealth destruction will keep growth at 2 percent or less for years. 
As Bloomberg writes:
The New Normal theory predicts that the recession will leave unemployment, forecast to reach 10 percent for the first time since 1983 early next year, higher for years. 
Indeed, the “overhang” of inventory - that is, the inventory of unsold goods – in everything from housing [82 and 83] to cars  to consumer electronics  means that the newly reduced consumer demand is meeting up with very high levels of supply. This is a recipe for unemployment.
Another disturbing development was that the number of people out of work for 27 weeks or longer reached a record 5 million, accounting for a third of the unemployed. That suggests to some economists that those job losses were caused by structural changes in the economy and that many of those people won’t be called back to work once the economy picks up. The longer people are out of work, the harder it becomes for them to find jobs and the more likely they are to exhaust savings or lose their homes to foreclosure.
[87: for graphical updates on the state of the economy, see charts from the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank posted athttp://www.clevelandfed.org/research/data/updates/index.cfm?DCS.nav=Local]
Another Trend: Increased Productivity Means Less Jobs
All of the aforementioned economic trends point to lower levels of job creation, and thus higher unemployment.
In addition, the chief economist for MarketWatch, Distinguished Scholar of Economics at Dowling College (Irwin Kellner) points out that worker productivity is rising, and that increased worker productivity means less new people will be hired.
Other Theories Regarding the Causes of Unemployment
The main cause of unemployment today is the economic crisis. For example, a report from the the National Industrial Conference Board pointed out in 1922 stated the obvious: depressions increase unemployment. 
The report also points out that seasonal variations, “immigration and tariff policies and international relationship” can affect unemployment figures. 
In fact, economists from different schools of thought ascribe different causes to unemployment. For example:
Keynesian economics emphasizes unemployment resulting from insufficient effective demand for goods and services in the economy (cyclical unemployment). Others point to structural problems, inefficiencies, inherent in labour markets (structural unemployment). Classical or neoclassical economics tends to reject these explanations, and focuses more on rigidities imposed on the labor market from the outside, such as minimum wage laws, taxes, and other regulations that may discourage the hiring of workers (classical unemployment). Yet others see unemployment as largely due to voluntary choices by the unemployed (frictional unemployment). Alternatively, some blame unemployment on disruptive technologies or Globalisation.
For example, many Americans believe that globalization has increased unemployment because “American jobs” have moved abroad. Certainly, the American government has encouraged multinational corporations based in the U.S. to move jobs overseas. But quick fixes may lead to new problems. For example, a new American protectionism could stifle trade, further weakening the American economy.
Similarly, some economists believe that inflation decreases unemployment. However, that is only true where the workers drastically underestimate the extent to which higher prices are decreasing the real value of their wages. Indeed, as the Cato Institute notes:
This reduction in unemployment cannot occur unless workers systematically underestimate the inflation rate. When workers are aware of the inflation rate and, for example, have their pay adjusted according to the cost of living, they will interpret wages properly and not be misled into thinking that a normal wage offer is a relatively high wage offer.
Rather than merely failing to decrease unemployment, inflation may actually increase the unemployment rate. Frequent concomitants of inflation, such as high interest rates and volatility and uncertainty in the financial and product markets, increase the risks inherent in business operations and thereby discourage the expansion of firms and the creation of jobs. 
Therefore, many “quick fixes” for unemployment may actually do more harm than good.
Isn’t the Government Helping to Reduce Unemployment?
The government has committed to give trillions to the financial industry. President Obama’s stimulus bill was $787 billion, which is less than a tenth of the money pledged to the banks and the financial system. 
Of the $787 billion, little more than perhaps 10% has been spent as of this writing. 
The Government Accountability Office says that the $787 billion stimulus package is not being used for stimulus.  Instead, the states are in such dire financial straights that the stimulus money is instead being used to “cushion” state budgets, prevent teacher layoffs, make more Medicaid payments and head off other fiscal problems. So even the money which is actually earmarked to help the states stimulate their economies is not being used for that purpose.
Mark Zandi – chief economist for Moody’s – has calculated which stimulus programs give the most bang for the buck in terms of the economy:
But very little of the stimulus funds are actually going to high-value stimulus projects.
Indeed, as the Los Angeles Times points out:
Critics say the [stimulus money reaching California] is being used for projects that would have been built anyway, instead of on ways to change how Californians live. Case in point: Army latrines, not high-speed rail.
Critics say those aren’t the types of projects with lasting effects on the economy.
“Whether it’s talking about building a new [military] hospital or bachelor’s quarters, there isn’t that return on investment that you’d find on something that increases efficiency like a road or transit project,” said Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Job creation is another question. A recent survey by the Associated General Contractors of America found that slightly more than one-third of the companies awarded stimulus projects planned to hire new employees. But about one-third of the companies that weren’t awarded stimulus projects also planned to hire new employees.
“While the construction portion of the stimulus is having an impact, it is far from delivering its full promise and potential,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive of the contractors group.
It’s unclear how many jobs will be created through the Defense Department projects. Most of the construction jobs are awarded through multiple award contracts, in which the department guarantees a minimum amount of business to certain contractors, and lets only those contractors bid on projects.
That means many of the contractors working on stimulus projects already have been busy at work on government projects.even the stimulus money which is being spent 
Donald W. Riegle Jr. – former chair of the Senate Banking Committee from 1989 to 1994 – wrote (along with the former CEO of AT&T Broadband and the international president of the United Steelworkers union):
It’s almost as if the administration is opting for a rose-colored-glasses PR strategy rather than taking a hard-nose look at actual consumer and employment figures and their trends, and modifying its economic policies accordingly.
How Much Unemployment Do We Want?
On the one end of the spectrum, Article 23 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares:
Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
In other words, the U.N. says that there should be essentially no unemployment for those who wish to work.
On the other end of the spectrum, some people – who make a lot of money during periods where the condition lead to high levels of unemployment – are comfortable with unemployment percentages reaching those in the Great Depression.
Societies should decide for themselves what level of unemployment they consider acceptable, and then demand policies which will accomplish that goal to the greatest extent possible. As discussed above, there are many factors which affect employment levels, and so solutions are complicated.
However, without an open and visible public policy debate about the issue, unemployment levels will either remain second order affects of policy choices concerning other elements of the economy, or will be decided behind closed doors by decision-makers who may or may not have the best public interest in mind.
As the above facts show, unemployment is a very serious problem in the United states, and world-wide. The policy responses of the U.S. and other Western governments has not been working. As discussed above, there is no simple solution.
Senator Riegle recommends a 4-part prescription, including:
Ensure that loans and credit facilities are readily available to the nation’s small and medium size businesses and manufacturers.
Many of the top economists argue that we need to break up the giant banks which are insolvent in order to save the economy. Fortune, BusinessWeek and Federal Reserve governor Daniel K. Tarullo have pointed out that breaking up the largest, insolvent banks would allow more competition from small to mid-size banks, and that such banks may actually make more loans to small businesses. More loans to small businesses would lead to more employment by those many small businesses.
In addition, the U.S. has largely been financing job creation for ten years. Specifically, as the chief economist for BusinessWeek, Michael Mandel, points out, public spending has accounted for virtually all new job creation in the past 1o years:
Private sector job growth was almost non-existent over the past ten years. Take a look at this horrifying chart:
Between May 1999 and May 2009, employment in the private sector sector only rose by 1.1%, by far the lowest 10-year increase in the post-depression period.
It’s impossible to overstate how bad this is. Basically speaking, the private sector job machine has almost completely stalled over the past ten years. Take a look at this chart:
Over the past 10 years, the private sector has generated roughly 1.1 million additional jobs, or about 100K per year. The public sector created about 2.4 million jobs.
But even that gives the private sector too much credit. Remember that the private sector includes health care, social assistance, and education, all areas which receive a lot of government support.***
Most of the industries which had positive job growth over the past ten years were in the HealthEdGov sector. In fact, financial job growth was nearly nonexistent once we take out the health insurers.
Let me finish with a final chart.
Without a decade of growing government support from rising health and education spending and soaring budget deficits, the labor market would have been flat on its back. 
Raw Story argues that the U.S. is building a largely military economy:
The use of the military-industrial complex as a quick, if dubious, way of jump-starting the economy is nothing new, but what is amazing is the divergence between the military economy and the civilian economy, as shown by thisNew York Times chart.
In the past nine years, non-industrial production in the US has declined by some 19 percent. It took about four years for manufacturing to return to levels seen before the 2001 recession — and all those gains were wiped out in the current recession.
By contrast, military manufacturing is now 123 percent greater than it was in 2000 — it has more than doubled while the rest of the manufacturing sector has been shrinking…
It’s important to note the trajectory — the military economy is nearly three times as large, proportionally to the rest of the economy, as it was at the beginning of the Bush administration. And it is the only manufacturing sector showing any growth. Extrapolate that trend, and what do you get?
The change in leadership in Washington does not appear to be abating that trend…
So most of the job creation has been by the public sector. But because the job creation has been financed with loans from China and private banks, trillions in unnecessary interest charges have been incurred by the U.S.
Former Washington Post editor and author of one of the leading books on the Federal Reserve, William Greider, points out that governments actually have the power to create money and credit themselves, instead of borrowing it at interest from private banks:
If Congress chooses to take charge of its constitutional duty, it could similarly use greenback currency created by the Federal Reserve as a legitimate channel for financing important public projects–like sorely needed improvements to the nation’s infrastructure. Obviously, this has to be done carefully and responsibly, limited to normal expansion of the money supply and used only for projects that truly benefit the entire nation (lest it lead to inflation)…
This approach speaks to the contradiction House Speaker Pelosi pointed out when she asked why the Fed has limitless money to spend however it sees fit. Instead of borrowing the money to pay for the new rail system, the government financing would draw on the public’s money-creation process–just as Lincoln did and Bernanke is now doing.
By creating the credit itself – instead of borrowing from private banks and foreign nations – the American government could finance the creation of new jobs without incurring huge interest charges owed to the private banks and foreign countries which lent America the money. In other words, the U.S. government would itself create the new credit, just as Lincoln did to finance the civil war.
By financing new projects with credit created by the government itself, America might be able to pick itself up by its bootstraps and put its people back to work.
The same may be true for other countries as well.
Source: Washington’s Blog
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Despite What Advocates of Illegal Immigration Say, There are No Jobs ‘Americans Won’t Do,’ Says Study
A state police officer called Tasers an “excellent” tool that help save lives.
But a Raton woman took an entirely different position. Monica Saenz lost her brother, Jesse Saenz, in 2007 after he was shot 23 times with a Taser by Raton officers while he was reportedly shackled.
“Tasers pose a threat to society. They shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many lives at stake,” Saenz told a forum at Luna Community College on Thursday.
More than 50 people attended the meeting, which was sponsored by the San Miguel County Commission, which is pondering whether to allow county jailers and sheriff’s deputies to use the electroshock weapons.
Two commissioners, David Salazar June Garcia, both of whom have questioned the use of Tasers, were in the audience. So was the pro-Taser sheriff, Benjie Vigil, who has tangled with county management over the issue.
State police Sgt. Robert Thornton told the audience that he was certified to use Tasers three years ago and has used the device four times and witnessed its use in two other instances.
He said Tasers increase the safety of officers and others. Rather than using a gun, officers can get control of a situation with Tasers, he said.
For instance, he said he has never had to use his baton, which can cause many more injuries than a Taser.
“This baton will break bones and cause serious damage,” he said, pointing to the weapon. “I’ve never used it in eight years with the state police, and I haven’t seen anyone else use it.”
Thornton said the state police have procedures for the use of Tasers and only deploy them when absolutely needed. He noted that a computer chip records every time they’re used, information that can’t be manipulated by officers.
Saenz said she was against the weapons.
“Tasers are taking more lives than they’re saving,” said Saenz, who, along with other family members, wore black shirts in memory of Jesse Saenz. “We’ll never be able to hold Jesse again. All we have are photographs.”
The photos of Jesse Saenz’s body speak for themselves, she said.
“When you see them, all you see are torture,” she said.
She said her unarmed brother didn’t resist arrest, noting that the case is in litigation.
Bruce Swingle, the loss prevention manager for the New Mexico Association of Counties, touted the benefits of Tasers, saying they help reduce the large number of assaults against officers in New Mexico.
“Officers need an intermediate type of weapon (like Tasers),” he said.
He said assaults against officers result in millions of dollars in costs for the state’s counties. He suggested that many people who have died after Taser incidents may have had complicating factors such as drug and alcohol use.
At the same time, Swingle suggested that counties have policies in place for the use of Tasers and that officers have certifications to deploy them.
“Are there abuses with Tasers? Yes, there will be abuses. How an agency deals with it is important,” he said.
Pat Leahan of the Las Vegas Peace and Justice Center talked about the many deaths as the result of Tasers, with a reported two-thirds of victims unarmed. She referred to the concept of “Taser creep,” in which officers begin to use the weapons in more and more situations.
She said a big problem is when law enforcement agencies have policies that allow Tasers to be used at the wrong point in a situation.
“I’m a strong advocate for officer safety,” she said.
Source: Las Vegas Optic News
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Despite What Advocates of Illegal Immigration Say, There are No Jobs ‘Americans Won’t Do,’ Says StudyWednesday, August 26th, 2009
A study released by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) shows that native-born Americans fill the majority of jobs in almost every field. According to the CIS, this debunks the idea that immigrants are required to do jobs that Americans would refuse.
The study — titled “Jobs Americans Don’t Do?” — found that only four occupations in the United States employ a majority immigrant workforce. The findings also showed that a vast majority of occupations, including many low-skill jobs, are filled mostly by native-born Americans.
“It looks like pretty much every job, including the worst paying, the toughest jobs you can think of, are done, typically overwhelmingly, by Americans — even jobs that you might think are overwhelmingly done by foreign-born people,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the organization.
“The only occupational categories which were found to have majority-immigrant workforces were “plasterers and stucco masons” (56 percent immigrant), “graders and sorters, agricultural products” (54 percent), “misc. personal appearance workers” (53 percent), and “tailors, dressmakers and sewers” (51 percent).
In addition, two occupational categories were found to have workforces that were exactly 50 percent immigrant: “miscellaneous agricultural workers, including animal breeders,” and “sewing machine operators.”
In addition to this study, CIS simultaneously released another study, titled “Worse Than It Seems,” which analyzed unemployment and underemployment rates among both immigrants and native-born Americans.
“America appears to have an over-supply, and over-abundance of less educated workers,” Camarota told CNSNews.com.
“Not only are so many ‘not working,’ but the share ‘not working’ has been going up for 30 years, and wages for such workers have either stagnated in real terms or actually declined very significantly,” he added.
The study found that immigrants, native-born Americans, and the total population all have a 9.7 rate of unemployment. However, native born Hispanic Americans have a 13.3. percent rate of unemployment, and African-Americans suffer 15.8 percent unemployment. By comparison, Hispanic immigrants have only an 11.1 percent unemployment rate – higher than the national average but less than native born Hispanics.
“The overall trend is clear,” he added, “less educated Americans work less and less, and they generally make less and less than they used to.”
Other findings from the studies:
– There are 93 occupations in which 20 percent or more of workers are immigrants. These high-immigrant occupations are primarily, but not exclusively, lower-wage jobs that require relatively little formal education.
– More than 23.5 million native-born Americans work in high-immigrant occupations (occupations 20 percent or more immigrant.) These occupations include 19 percent of all native workers.
– Most native-born Americas do not face significant job competition from immigrants, the report noted, however, those who do “tend to be less-educated and poorer than those who face relatively little competition from immigrants.”
– In high-immigrant occupations, 57 percent of native-born workers have no more than a high school education. In occupations that are less than 20 percent immigrant, 35 percent of natives have no more than a high school education. And in occupations made up of less than 10 percent immigrant, only 26 percent of native-born workers have no more than a high school education.
– The average wage or salary for native-born Americans in high-immigrant occupations is one-quarter lower than in occupations that are less than 20 percent immigrant.
The study also found that 44 percent of medical scientists are immigrants, as are 34 percent of software engineers, 27 percent of physicians, and 25 percent of chemists.
The report also noted that only 10 percent of reporters are immigrants, as are 6 percent of lawyers and judges and 3 percent of farmers and ranchers.
Calls for comment from several immigrant-rights groups were not returned.
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While Swine Flu Vaccine Has Been Declared “Safe”, Novel Adjuvants Will Be Used Before Any Meaningful Testing has been ConductedWednesday, August 26th, 2009
Dr. Meryl Nass is an expert on vaccines.
Over the years, I have found Dr. Nass to be reasonable, balanced and well grounded in science in her discussions about the anthrax attacks and the criminal investigations into Dr. Hatfield and Dr. Ivins. So I wanted to see what she thought about the safety of the swine flu vaccine.
On July 3rd, Dr. Nass discussed the use of the adjuvant called “squalene” in swine flu vaccines (an adjuvant is a chemical which increases the body’s reaction to a vaccine, and thus stretches the number of doses which a given quantity of vaccinecan produce):
The US government has contracted with at least 5 pharmaceutical manufacturers to develop and produce H1N1 vaccines, using a variety of platforms and manufacturing methods…
A novel feature of the two H1N1 vaccines being developed by companies Novartis and Glaxo-Smith Kline is the addition of squalene-containing adjuvants to boost immunogenicity and dramatically reduce the amount of viral antigen needed. This translates to much faster production of desired vaccine quantities.
Each company has its own proprietary adjuvant, acquired in each case at high cost and intended for the high-stakes business of rapidly producing vaccines for novel pandemics or biological warfare threats.
Novartis’ adjuvant is named MF59, and Glaxo’s is ASO3. We know they work beautifully to strengthen vaccine efficacy. But how safe are they?
That is a very difficult question to answer. Novartis claims MF-59 has been used safely by over 40 million people. However, FDA has not seen fit to approve even a single US vaccine that contains these novel adjuvants.
One error in the article is this statement: “No link has ever been proven between vaccine and Guillain Barre” Syndrome (GBS). Actually, about ten separate studies of the 1976 swine flu vaccine confirmed that the rate of GBS increased 6 to 10 fold in the 6-8 weeks after vaccination. The link has been absolutely confirmed in all the medical literature. I discussed it as an expert witness in a legal case and the opposing attorney didn’t challenge the link…
Fauci continued, “There’s not a lot of data on adjuvants in young kids–even from the Europeans.” [Not to mention lack of data in pregnant women, the potential to cause cancers, etc.--Nass]
Here’s a key point: novel adjuvants stretch the supply, so from the perspective of getting enough vaccine for the country or the world in a hurry, they would be indispensable. But from the point of view of the individual, the risk-benefit calculation is problematic.
The June 19, 2009 Science magazine discussed use of novel, antigen-sparing adjuvants for the swine flu pandemic. It quoted Norman Baylor, director of FDA’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review, who pointed out that antigen-sparing strategies benefit populations, not individuals. “You have to think about those trade-offs,” Baylor said.
If Baylor doesn’t understand the issue of novel adjuvant safety, then nobody does.
On August 15th, Dr. Nass noted that British doctors are weary of the vaccine, as it contains squalene:
The Daily Mail reported on letters sent to 600 neurologists in the UK by its Health Protection Agency, asking them to be observant for, and immediately report, cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome [GBS].
The letter is a tacit acknowledgment of the risk of using an untested vaccine with novel ingredients. But it also indicates that the UK’s health services are cognizant of the risks and are taking them seriously, setting up improved surveillance so that if the vaccine does cause Guillain-Barre, vaccinations can be stopped promptly. Bravo.
However, the risk does not begin and end with Guillain Barre Syndrome, as Dr. Tom Jefferson, head of the Cochrane Collaboration vaccine group pointed out in the article. Cochrane performs meta-analyses of the entire world literature on medical therapies. Unfortunately, Cochrane has not found anyliterature on the squalene-containing adjuvants set to be used in some (most?) swine flu vaccines:
‘New vaccines never behave in the way you expect them to. It may be that there is a link to GBS, which is certainly not something I would wish on anybody.
‘But it could end up being anything because one of the additives in one of the vaccines is a substance called squalene, and none of the studies we’ve extracted have any research on it at all.’
That is the bigger problem: the potential variety of adverse reactions to the vaccine is very large, and it will be very difficult to sort out quickly (before tens or hundreds of millions have been vaccinated) which might be vaccine-related.
On August 23rd, Dr. Nass wrote:
The Washington Post’s Rob Stein updates us …:
Another wild card will be whether the vaccine will be delivered with an “adjuvant” to boost its effectiveness or stretch limited supplies into more doses. Adjuvants have been used in Europe, but the Food and Drug Administration has not authorized their use in the United States.
Officials stress that they are proceeding cautiously. A final decision to move forward will not be made until they get the results of clinical trials — testing to determine safety and dosing — and assess the virus’s threat. But officials are confident the vaccine will pass muster and expect a campaign will be launched as soon as manufacturers deliver the first vials.
Authorities are adamant that vaccination will be voluntary, and they say there is no reason to think the vaccine will be any less safe than the usual flu vaccine. An adjuvant will be used only if necessary and proven safe, they say…
[So tests of swine vaccines using novel adjuvants won't start until mid to late September, but vaccine is expected to be available for use in mid-October. If I understand this correctly, the adjuvants will have been tested for less than 4 weeks when they start being used. Yet autoimmune side effects take months to appear, in general. GBS took 4-8 weeks. Why aren't they already in US clinical trials?!--Nass]
And on August 24th, Nass pointed out:
A US News article of Aug 21 claimed,
“Early results for this first trial among adults have found the vaccine to be safe with no serious side effects,” said Tony Fauci.
Yet the reportage is misleading. Since none of the US trials have so far used novel adjuvants, they fail to provide any information about the safety of MF59 or ASO3-adjuvanted vaccines.
Dr. Nass – an expert on Gulf War Syndrome – has also pointed out that the official, Congressionally-chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses found evidence of a link between squalene and Gulf War Syndrome which warranted further study.
I asked Nass if the rumors that the swine flu vaccine contains much higher amounts of squalene than the Gulf War vaccine is true. She responded by email:
No one knows how much, if any, squalene was in which vaccines used in the Gulf War vaccine, as the government has denied using it and there was no vaccine tested independently.However, compared to the parts per billion squalene measured in 5 lots of anthrax vaccine by FDA around 2000, use of current squalene-containing adjuvants is likely to provide many orders of magnitude more squalene per vaccine dose than found by FDA.No one knows what this means: i.e., how much it takes to cause adverse effects and what kind, in which populations.
Update: Someone in the medical field sent me the following comment by email:
For what it’s worth, my understanding from a drug/vaccine rep from
one of the vaccine companies is that there will be a live weakened
intranasal vaccine for H1N1 available (similar to Flumist). It
shouldn’t have or need an adjuvant (adjuvants are used in injectable
vaccines to cause the body to notice and react to the antigen you are
trying to produce immunity to – Aluminum is the most commonly used
So, for anyone who wishes to be vaccinated for H1N1 but not via a
shot (which will no doubt contain some sort of adjuvant) there will
be an alternative (it would probably only be recommended for the
populations who qualify for Flumist, but that hasn’t been clarified
for us – Flumist the intranasal live weakened vaccine for the regular
flu is approved for patients over 2 who don’t have a condition such
as asthma that’s contraindicated with it).
Currently the H1N1 doesn’t seem any worse than the regular flu, but
there have been some deaths (the regular flu causes deaths every year
too). The H1N1 like the regular flu is more dangerous and more likely
to cause serious illness and death in certain groups such as pregnant
women, so it might be more important for some groups to be immunized
If H1N1 transformed into a nastier bug and became drug resistant the
flu vaccine could become very important for everyone who doesn’t have
At this point it looks like distribution of vaccine will be through
the government (probably at schools, libraries and other public
venues that are felt to be easy places to vaccinate large numbers of
people who want/need vaccine) rather than private offices. My
understanding is that high risk populations such as pregnant women
and children and health care workers will be prioritized.
Anyway, I hope this info is helpful.
Source: Washington’s Blog
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The Obama White House is behind a cynical, coldly calculated political effort to erase the meaning of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks from the American psyche and convert Sept. 11 into a day of leftist celebration and statist idolatry.
This effort to reshape the American psyche has nothing to do with healing the nation and everything to do with easing the nation along in the ongoing radical transformation of America that President Obama promised during last year’s election campaign. The president signed into law a measure in April that designated Sept. 11 as a National Day of Service, but it’s not likely many lawmakers thought this meant that day was going to be turned into a celebration of ethanol, carbon emission controls, and radical community organizing.
The administration’s plans were outlined in an Aug. 11 White House-sponsored teleconference call run by Obama ally Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Liv Havstad, the group’s senior vice president of strategic partnerships and programs.
Yearwood, who uses the honorific “Reverend” before his name, has been in the news in recent years, usually for getting arrested. After Democrats took back Congress, the rowdy activist was handcuffed outside a congressional hearing in September 2007 when Gen. David Petraeus was to testify. Yearwood told the “Democracy Now” radio program that he wanted to attend the hearing to hear Petraeus give his report. “I knew that when officers lie, soldiers die,” he said.
On the Aug. 11 call, Yearwood and other leaders kept saying repeatedly that they wanted 9/11 to be used for something “positive,” “forward-leaning,” and “productive,” said a source with knowledge of the teleconference.
The plan is to turn a “day of fear” that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.
“They think it needs to be taken back from the right,” said the source. “They’re taking that day and they’re breaking it because it gives Republicans an advantage. To them, that day is a fearful day.”
A coalition including the unsavory left-wing pressure group Color of Change and about 60 far-left, environmentalist, labor, and corporate shakedown groups participated in the call. Groups on the call included: ACORN, AFL-CIO, Apollo Alliance, Community Action Partnership, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, 80 Million Strong for Young American Jobs, Friends of the Earth, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, Mobilize.org, National Black Police Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Council of Negro Women, National Wildlife Federation, RainbowPUSH Coalition, Urban League, and Young Democrats of America.
Color of Change is the extremist racial grievance group that isn’t happy that TV’s Glenn Beck did several news packages on Van Jones, the self-described “communist” and “rowdy black nationalist” who became the president’s green jobs czar after jumping on the environmentalist bandwagon. The White House may be behind a push to destroy Beck by convincing advertisers to stop buying time on his show. Jones was also on the board of the Apollo Alliance, a hard-left environmentalist group that is now running large chunks of the Obama administration. The group has acknowledged that it dictated parts of the February stimulus bill to Congress.
With the help of the Obama administration, the coalition is launching a public relations campaign under the radar of the mainstream media — which remains almost uniformly terrified of criticizing the nation’s first black president — to try to change 9/11 from a day of reflection and remembrance to a day of activism, food banks, and community gardens.
“The organizing term is to ‘go dark.’ You don’t tell the press, don’t tell people you think will tell the press,” said the source.
Of course, the annual commemoration of the 2001 terrorist attacks belongs to the entire nation, but President Obama and the activist left don’t see it that way. They view the nationwide remembrance of the murder of 3,000 Americans by Islamic totalitarians as an obstacle to winning over the hearts and minds of the American people.
“When you criticize them, they are prepared to say, ‘Did you want 9/11 to be another day of selling mattresses, like Presidents Day?” the source said. “They are truly trying to change the American mindset.”
They view Sept. 11 as a “Republican” day because it focuses the public on supposedly “Republican” issues like patriotism, national security, and terrorism. According to liberals, 9/11 was long ago hijacked by Republicans and their enablers and unfairly used to bludgeon helpless Democrats at election time.
MSNBC’s foremost left-wing bloviator, Keith Olbermann, summed up this ugly perspective the week after the Republican Party convention last year:
But 9/11 has become a brand name. A Republican campaign slogan. Propaganda of the lowest form. 9/11 has become 9/11 with a trademark logo. “9/11 TM” has sustained a president who long ago should have been dismissed, or impeached. It has kept him and his gang of financial and constitutional crooks in office without — literally — any visible means of support. “9/11 TM” has made possible the greatest sleight-of-hand in our nation’s history.
On Aug. 4, the White House offered a glimpse into its plans to desecrate 9/11 for political advantage. Jones appeared in a largely ignored 33-minute video posted on the official blog of the White House to discuss the administration’s plan to flush 9/11 down the memory hole just as it has tried to do by rechristening the Global War on Terror the “Overseas Contingency Operations.”
Of this National Day of Service, Jones says little except that it will be a great opportunity “for people to connect, to find other people in your peer group who are also passionate about repowering America but also greening up America and cleaning up America.”
On the same day, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Department of Energy Under Secretary Kristina Johnson and activists held a low-key press conference. At it, Yearwood said the National Day of Service will be “the first milestone” of a larger effort called Green the Block that is attempting to convince Americans that the utopian fantasy of a so-called green economy is possible without turning the U.S. into a Third World country.
“From policy creation to community implementation, the Green the Block campaign wants to see access and opportunity created for all Americans, to build prosperity and a healthier planet for future generations,” Yearwood said.
At no time does anyone explain why this National Day of Service has to be held — of all the 365 days in a year — on Sept. 11.
Source: The American Spectator
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