While the Obama administration trumpets the allegedly good news that the official US jobless rate has fallen to 8.3 percent, millions of unemployed workers are facing new attacks on their unemployment benefits, in the form of tightened eligibility standards and cuts in the duration of benefits.
In the past year, 11 out of the 50 states have implemented cutbacks in the form of eligibility or duration. Last week Georgia became the latest in this list, when its legislature adopted a bill that reduced state benefits from 26 weeks to a sliding scale of between 14 and 20 weeks, depending on the state unemployment rate.
Can you imagine that? No job. Benefits cut off.
What do you do?
A friend of mine is ticked off at Yahoo Mail. She lost her account and had to start all over, re-registering as a new user. (How did she lose her account? Identity theft.)
So she goes to register and they require you pick two security questions and answer them.
The first one wanted to know a favorite relative -- uncle, etc. -- or a question about your spouse.
She's not married.
And she was raised in an orphanage and never knew any family.
What the hell was Yahoo thinking?
But I read the WSWS article and I think about someone like her. What if she had lost her job and she was about to run out on benefits?
She could move in with us, she's a good friend. But she might not want to and if we disappeared, she might not have us as a fallback.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday:
The political crisis (Political Stalemate II) has been ongoing since at least December 2010. Political Stalemate I (eight months of inaction following the March 7, 2010 elections) ended only when all parties agreed to the US-brokered Erbil Agreement. This agreement found all blocs making concessions. Nouri wanted to remain prime minister, so he agreed to practically any demand/request on any other issue. Having been made prime minister-designate, he immediately began saying that the Erbil Agreement would have to wait on certain things -- for example, he said, it would take time to create the independent national security commission to be headed by Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi (Iraqiya won the most votes in the election). These things would be a matter of days. But as the weeks progressed, he made clear the promise to resolve the issue of Kirkuk wasn't going to be dealt with by calling off the planned census at the start of the December. As December was winding down, he was moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister and it was clear to many that the Erbil Agreement was being tossed.
Nouri went a few months claiming it would be implemented, give it time. Stalling is Nouri's tactic, after all. Then his lackeys -- in Iraq and the US -- began putting forward the argument that Nouri didn't have to abide by the Erbil Agreement it was illegal (many US lackeys were too ignorant of the law and used the term "unconstitutional" -- there is nothing in Iraq's Constitution that outlaws the Erbil Agreement or anything similar to it, the ignorant most likely would have used the term "extra-Constitutional" if they had any education in the law). The problem with the ignorant making legal arguments is that although they are highly amusing they fail to grasp that law is carried through. Meaning if I argue the Erbil Agreement is illegal, I'm not just giving Nouri permission to ignore it, I'm arguing that Nouri's second term as prime minister is illegal because that resulted from the Erbil Agreement. Logic is not a skill that the lackeys possess.
By last summer, the Kurds were tired of waiting for Nouri to implement the Erbil Agreement and began demanding that he do so. Iraqiya, Moqtada al-Sadr and others joined that call.
The national conference was supposed to address the Erbil Agreement. Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and President Jalal Talabani both began calling for a national conference on December 21st. Nouri was the stumbling block.
He said one wasn't needed. He also argued that it shouldn't be a called a national conference. Then he argued that all political blocs shouldn't be invited, just some. He tried to argue in February that any such conference should be confined solely to the three presidencies (Talabani, Nujaifi and Nouri). He argued about what should be on the agenda and what shouldn't. He argued so much that the conference that many once thought would take place in January kept getting kicked back and kicked back. As March loomed, Nouri began insisting that the Arab League Summit (March 29th) would have to be the focus and that any national conference would have to wait until after that.
In an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network aired late on Wednesday, Hashemi said the accusations against him of running a death squad "have a sectarian dimension," noting that he is the "fifth Sunni figure to be targeted" by Iraq's Shiite-led government.
"More than 90 percent of the detainees in Iraq are Sunnis," said Hashemi, who pledged to return to Iraq to carry out his vice presidential duties despite Maliki's demands for him to face trial.
Hashemi sharply criticised Maliki, saying that "corruption in the country is widespread" and warning that the prime minister's policies were threatening "the unity of Iraq."
There is no way to tell how many have died: estimates range from a few dozen to more than 100. Nor is it clear who is responsible. Many of the killings happened in east Baghdad, stronghold of Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (the League of the Righteous). Neither, though, has claimed responsibility. Iraq's brutal interior ministry issued two statements in February. The first announced official approval to "eliminate" the "satanists". The second, on 29 February, proclaimed a "campaign" to start with a crackdown on stores selling emo fashion. The loaded language suggests, at a minimum, that the ministry incited violence. It's highly possible that some police, in a force riddled with militia members, participated in the murders.
It's logical to compare this to the militia campaign against homosexual conduct in 2009, which I documented for Human Rights Watch. Hundreds of men lost their lives then. Gay-identified men have been caught up in these killings as well, and Baghdad's LGBT community is rife with fear. Yet there are differences. The current killings target women as well as men, and children are the preferred victims. It's not quite true to say, as some press reports have suggested, that "emo" is just a synonym for "gay" in Iraq. Rather, immorality, western influence, decadence and blasphemy have come together in a loosely defined, poorly aligned complex of associations: and emo fashion and "sexual perversion" are part of the mix.
At the liberal internationalist extreme, the Trilateral Commission -- the nongovernmental policy group from which the Carter Administration was largely drawn -- issued stern warnings in 1975 that there is too much democracy, in part due to the failures of the institutions responsible for "the indoctrination of the young." On the right, an important 1971 memorandum by Lewis Powell, directed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main business lobby, wailed that radicals were taking over everything -- universities, media, government, etc. -- and called on the business community to use its economic power to reverse the attack on our prized way of life -- which he knew well. As a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, he was quite familiar with the workings of the nanny state for the rich that he called "the free market."
Since then, many measures have been taken to restore discipline. One is the crusade for privatization -- placing control in reliable hands.