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The Bad Jobs Report Is Just A Very Small Taste Of The Economic Nightmare That Is Coming

Another month, another bad jobs report. For the month of May, the U.S. economy only added 69,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%.

Many are calling this a total "disaster" and are worried that the U.S. economy could be headed back into another recession. Economists had been expecting 150,000 payroll jobs would be added, so the 69,000 number really shocked a lot of people.

The truth is that the economy needs to add approximately 125,000 new jobs every single month just to keep the unemployment rate steady. So yes, this bad jobs report is not welcome news at all - especially for the Obama administration. When Barack Obama first took office the unemployment rate was sitting at 7.6 percent and now it is sitting at 8.2 percent. Some "recovery", eh?

But the reality is that this jobs report was really not that "devastating" even though the stock market had its worst day of the year. Unemployment in America is still about at the same level as it was back at the beginning of 2012. The tough stretch that we are going through right now is only a very small taste of the economic nightmare that is on the horizon. If you think that things are a "disaster" right now, just wait until you see what is coming.

Bad Guys

Best of the Web: Why Is the Government Withholding Documents About JFK's Assassination?

classified graphic
© n/a

Next year will be a half-century since the death of JFK. And the Obama Administration thinks we need to keep secret the records on the matter....a little longer yet.

Believe it or not, more than 50,000 pages of JFK assassination-related documents are being withheld in full. And an untold number of documents have been partially withheld, or released with everything interesting blacked out. But why?

Since the government and the big media keep telling us there was no conspiracy, and that it was all Lee Harvey Oswald acting on his own, why continue to keep the wraps on?

We don't have an answer, but in understanding this and any number of other mysteries, we can begin looking for patterns in the way the administration handles information policy.

We Want to Hear From You (But That's It - We Just Want to Hear From You)

Earlier this year, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asked, on its online Open Government Forum, for suggestions from the public about what it could do to create greater transparency. The #1 most popular idea? Get those Kennedy records out - before Nov. 22, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the Dallas tragedy.

But instead of dealing honestly with this matter, the feds have resorted to disinformation. In an interview with the Boston Globe, the Archivist of the United States claimed that at two public forums held on open records, the most public comments came from people interested either in the JFK assassination or....in UFOs.

Except for one thing: James Lesar, an attorney and co-founder of the Assassination Archives and Research Center (AARC), a DC-based nonprofit that has fought a long and valiant fight on behalf of the public interest in disclosure, attended both of those forums and says that as he recalls there were no people there asking about UFOs, or that at most it was of negligible interest. In fact, a look at NARA's online idea forum (now closed)showed no UFO proposals or comments.


False Reporting on the Health of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez

Still working away: Hugo Chavez in his office yesterday
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was diagnosed with cancer and a malignant tumor was removed from his pelvic region last June, all kinds of rumors, lies and speculations have circulated about his health. Most of the hype has come from known anti-Chavez media, such as the Miami Herald and several online blogs run by right-wing extremists like Bush's former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, who's been obsessed with Chavez for years. All cite unnamed sources who claim they have "insider information" about the Venezuelan head of state's health.

It's been unsurprising that those media outlets, known for their decade-long distortions of Venezuela's reality, would publish such falsities and morbid tales about President Chavez. But that a serious, veteran, investigative journalist, such as Dan Rather, would indulge in the necrophiliac story-telling about the Venezuelan President is truly disappointing.

Rather, who now runs his own show on HDNet, Dan Rather Reports, posted a report on Wednesday, May 30, claiming President Chavez's health is "dire" and has "entered the end stage". Rather also claims his unnamed "high-level" source, who he alleges is close to the Venezuelan President, told him Chavez won't live "more than a couple of months at most".

In his brief report, which he calls an "exclusive", Rather also bids in with his own biased language, calling the democratically-elected Venezuelan President a "dictator".

What prompted Dan Rather to write such diatribe? Why would he join the ranks of Roger Noriega, the wretched Miami Herald and a slew of pseudo-journalists drooling over their morbid wet dreams of President Chavez's failing health?


Crisis in the Euro Zone: Alexis Tsipras Is the Greek Who Makes Europe Tremble

Just weeks ago, Alexis Tsipras, 37, was an obscure opposition politician. Now, he's unnerving the powers that be in the European Union because he and his leftist party Syriza - a group whose membership ranges from hardline Communists to moderate socialists - have the potential of forming a government after the June 17 elections. A teenage member of the Communist Youth of Greece, Tsipras has executed a dramatic and canny political metamorphosis, transforming himself fromthe leader of a radical leftist coalition to a left-of-center standard bearer for anti-bailout and anti-austerity populism. And in so doing, he has confounded the ossified poltiical class of Greece, which acceded to the strictures imposed by the E.U. in order for Athens to receive the funds it needs to satisfy its creditors. Now, Tsipras may hold the future of the euro and the E.U. in his hands. All he needs to do is win enough seats to govern.
Tsipras spoke to TIME's Joanna Kakissis at the Syriza office on Koumoundourou Square in Athens. Following is the transcript of the interview:

TIME: Are you willing to make the necessary structural reforms in Greece to revive the economy?

© Eirini Vourloumis FOR TIMEGreek Politician Alexis Tsipras, on the rooftop of Syriza Party Headquarters.

Alexis Tsipras:
It is obvious that Greece - and the Greek economy - has its own particularities that played a role in making this economic crisis deeper and longer. Indeed, we must make structural reforms which will the public sector more reliable, create an effective and fair taxation system, and fight the black economy which has been like a kind of gangrene on the Greek economy. As far as I know, the underground economy represents 30% of the GDP.

At the same time, we will try to restore faith in the law and convince people that the state is equitable and effective. We will destroy corruption and the interconnection of political and economic power from its roots. Without the contribution of the citizens, these reforms cannot take place. But in order to contribute, the citizens want to know that these reforms will not be implemented only to those who have low incomes but those who have high incomes and come from the upper class. There is a Greek saying: "The fish always stinks from its head," (which means, roughly, corruption starts at the top). So if we don't fight the problem at its roots, then we won't be able to establish positive morale that can encourage all Greeks to also fight against it.


Banks Skim Millions in Fees From Student Aid Using Debit-Card-Linked Student IDs

Over 9 million students are at risk for increased educational debt, due to bank-affiliated campus debit cards that come with high fees, insufficient consumer protections, and few options. Financial institutions now have affinity partnerships with almost 900 campuses nationwide, grafting bank products onto student IDs and other campus cards to become the primary recipient of billions in federal financial aid to distribute to students.

"Campus debit cards are wolves in sheep's clothing," observed Rich Williams, U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate and report co-author. "Students think they can access their dollars freely, but instead their aid is being eaten up in fees."

The Campus Debit Card Trap, a new report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, finds that banks and financial firms now control or influence federal financial aid disbursement to over 9 million students by linking checking accounts and prepaid debit cards to student IDs. For decades, students would receive their aid by check, without being charged any fees to access their student aid. Now, students end up paying big fees on their student aid, including per-swipe fees of $0.50, inactivity fees of $10 or more after 6 months, overdraft fees of up to $38 and plenty more. Financial institutions aggressively market or default students into their bank accounts to maximize these fees.


'US-downed' Russian jet's Flight Data Recorder found

Indonesian officials display the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) from the crashed Russian passenger plane Sukhoi Superjet 100, during a press conference at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on May 31, 2012.
Indonesian villagers have found the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) from a Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 passenger plane that Moscow claims was downed in southwestern Indonesia earlier in May by US "industrial sabotage," killing all 45 people on board.

The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency chief, Vice Marshal Daryatmo said on Thursday that the FDR, which logged data such as the jet's altitude, speed, and route, was found in good condition by nine villagers in a deep ravine near the crash site on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

The black box of the jet was found on May 15, six days after it slammed into the side of Mount Salak -- a dormant volcano in West Java.

Tatang Kurniadi, the head of Indonesia's National Commission on Safety Transportation, said that Indonesian and Russian investigators are analyzing both the black box and the FDR to establish the cause of the incident.

War Whore

10 Israeli warplanes violate Lebanese airspace

Israeli warplanes (file photo)
Ten Israeli warplanes have violated Lebanon's airspace and flown over the country in flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, Press TV reports.

According to a statement issued by the Lebanese army on Friday, 10 Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace at different stages, beginning at 9:38 a.m. local time, a Press TV correspondent in Beirut reported.

The statement said that the Israeli aircraft entered Lebanon above the southern border and flew over several Lebanese territories before leaving at 11:20 a.m. local time.

Israel violates Lebanon's airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.


US sanctions on Iran banking sector breach international laws: Russian official

© Press TVChairman of Russian Vneshtorgbank (VTB) Andreil Kostin
The chairman of a leading Russian bank has lashed out at the United States for imposing sanction on Iran, stressing that the US sanctions against the Iranian banking sector violate international laws.

The US financial and economic sanctions against Iran violate the charter of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which demands free trade between all member states, Chairman of Russian Vneshtorgbank (VTB) Andreil Kostin said in an interview with the Russian TV channel RBK on Friday.

On December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions against Tehran, seeking to penalize countries importing Iran's oil or doing transaction with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI).

During their meeting in Brussels on January 23, the EU foreign ministers also followed suit, reaching an agreement to ban oil imports from Iran, freeze the CBI assets within the bloc and ban the sales of diamonds, gold and other precious metals to the Islamic Republic.

Bizarro Earth

Israel's War Against Truth: A Danger to Democracy

Uri Blau
© Yossi Zeliger/Flash90Uri Blau
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's decision to charge Haaretz reporter Uri Blau with "serious espionage" for being in possession of classified Israel Defense Forces documents poses a palpable threat to the free press in Israel, particularly to the ability to criticize government actions and expose them to the public.

As we wrote here a year ago, "trying a journalist for fulfilling his professional mission would constitute a stain on Israeli democracy and do critical harm to freedom of expression."

Issues of war and peace, foreign relations and military operations are at the heart of Israeli public life and take a central place in the country's political and media discourse. For that discourse to take place, there must be reliable media reports from the inner sanctums of senior diplomatic and military officials.

Such media reporting must of necessity rely on "possessing secret reports," in the words of the Penal Code. There's no way to cover the Prime Minister's Office, the defense and foreign ministries, the IDF and the intelligence community without obtaining documents and information that is classified at some level. The Israeli media already operates under military censorship, which doesn't exist in other democracies.

Star of David

Israeli Journalist Faces Trial Over Leaked Army Documents

Uri Blau
© HaaretzUri Blau
Israel's attorney general has announced his intention to put investigative reporter Uri Blau on trial for receiving hundreds of classified Israeli Defences Forces documents from a former soldier now in jail.

Israel's justice ministry said in a statement Wednesday that charges would soon be filed against Blau, a journalist for Haaretz newspaper, "for the offence of possession of secret information by an unauthorized person," according to the Agence France Presse.

Blau drew upon some of the documents whilst researching a 2008 article in which he claimed that Israeli soldiers had been commanded to carry out targeted killings of Palestinian militants, violating an order by the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem, according to The Guardian.