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Stocks tumble as market sees worst day in three weeks

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© Brendan Mcdermid/ReutersTraders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET: Stocks fell sharply mid-session Thursday after some downbeat economic reports worried investors. It was the market's worst daily performance in three weeks.

The Dow Jones industrial average was lately down over 200 points.

The Philadelphia division of the Federal Reserve reported that manufacturing in the Northeastern U.S. region fell sharply this month, recording its worst reading since last August.

Also, Labor Department data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell just a little last week to 387,000, while a monthly indicator of China's manufacturing activity fell to a seven-month low of 48.1.

A separate report showed home resales fell in May and the median sales price rose only because of a drop in sale of lower priced homes, casting a shadow on the country's nascent housing market recovery.

Comment: Been paying attention to the signs:
Outlook darkens as Europe sinks, China struggles
‎Bailing Out Greece is like Feeding an Insatiable Beast
Prepare for Lehmans re-run, Bank official warns
Why Doesn't The Stock Market Reflect The Imminent Global Depression?


Star of David

Israel Declared an Apartheid State

jewish settler, Hebron
© n/a
Colonialism and apartheid breach international law.

The 1973 International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) called it state-sanctioned discriminatory "inhuman" racism "committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them."

Apartheid is an international crime. The above definition builds on the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime under the Court's jurisdiction. For 45 years, Israel flagrantly breached the law.

ICERD's Article 3 calls apartheid a particularly egregious form of discrimination. The Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute criminalized its practice.

Last March, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) held its 80th session. It evaluated Israel's compliance under ICERD provisions. In 1979, Israel became a signatory. Policy reform didn't follow. Crimes against humanity continue.

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Outlook darkens as Europe sinks, China struggles

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© Reuters/Carlos BarriaAn employee works on a car engine along a Geely Automobile Corporation assembly line in Cixi, Zhejiang province June 21, 2012.
The downturn in the euro zone's private sector is becoming entrenched and Chinese factories are finding the going increasingly tough, business surveys showed on Thursday, painting a darker outlook for the world economy.

June was the fifth consecutive month that activity across the euro zone has declined, dragging down heavyweights Germany and France and putting pressure on the European Central Bank to take further action to support the economy.

"We are at the point where the economy is increasingly losing traction and it's hard at this stage to see what will give us a lift. The ECB will do more, that will probably involve a rate cut - which is symbolic - but is action," said Peter Dixon at Commerzbank.

With economic recovery showing increased fragility in the United States, the Federal Reserve delivered another round of monetary stimulus on Wednesday and said it was ready to do even more to help if the situation in Europe deteriorated.

Comment: Do the words "fiscal and banking union" mean corporate and bank controlled countries? It is the case in many countries today. The IMF, World Bank etc.. all appear to be playing a heavy hand on people, countries and politics these days.

As psychopathic (genetic: Psychopath, learned: Sociopath) behavior becomes the norm, more sickness and turmoil will ensue. In an (economic) environment, intentionally molded to increase stress, hypertension and poverty, sociopathic behavior increases as people become more desperate. However, there is help which can increase objectivity, self control, and reduce stress.


Health

Mubarak Health Drama Adds to Egypt Uncertainty

Hosni Mubarak
© Reuters/StringerMembers of the special forces stand guard while former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak lies on a bed while being taken to the courtroom at the police academy in Cairo in this September 7, 2011

Cairo - Hosni Mubarak's move from jail to a Cairo military hospital where officials said he was slipping in and out of a coma on Wednesday created fresh uncertainty for Egyptians as officials delayed the announcement of a presidential election result.

Claims of fraud from both camps fuelled unease in a nation where rigged ballots were the norm under Mubarak and where his fellow generals have moved to curb the power of the new head of state. Now that results will not be announced on Thursday, clarity may not emerge until a full week after polling ended.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidate Mohamed Morsy claimed victory on Monday, threatened to take to the streets if Ahmed Shafik, a former general and Mubarak ally, was declared the winner. However, a leading Islamist told Reuters there would be no violence of the sort that devastated Algeria in the 1990s.

And the Shafik camp, while insisting its data meant it was also confident of victory, called for unity, saying its candidate would offer senior posts to the Brotherhood and, if he lost, would accept defeat and be willing to serve under Morsy.

Megaphone

WikiLeaks' Assange Faces Arrest if He Leaves Ecuador Embassy


Julian Assange has spent years on the move, trying to keep ahead of authorities who want to stop his secret-spilling mission.

Now the WikiLeaks founder finds himself confined in the surprising setting of Ecuador's London embassy, where he was holed up Wednesday while diplomats discussed his fate and British police waited outside to arrest him if he leaves.

Assange is seeking political asylum in the South American nation, in a dramatic bid to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning about alleged sex crimes. His supporters say he fears charges in the United States for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. documents. But some legal experts say it is a desperate and likely futile move.

"He knows he's reached the end of the road in the U.K. He knows he's going to be extradited to Sweden," said Alex Carlile, a senior British lawyer with expertise in extradition matters. "Basically, he has nowhere to go."

The 40-year-old Australian landed himself in legal limbo Tuesday when he took refuge in the embassy a few doors down from the Harrods department store.

British police say Assange has violated the terms of his bail, which include an overnight curfew, and is subject to arrest. But British officials concede he is beyond their grasp as long as he remains in the embassy, which under legal convention is treated as Ecuadorean territory.

Evil Rays

TSA's New Scanner Technology Questioned

TSA
© Transportation Security Administration
In case you haven't heard, Congress wants the TSA to reduce staff and siphon costs. But members took issue Tuesday with a system that's supposed to do just that.

The TSA wants to purchase technology that automatically validates boarding passes and identifies fake documents. Administrators say the system, known in longhand as Credential Authentication Technology - Boarding Pass Scanning Systems, would add extra padding to the agency's risk-based security focus.

But it's not clear whether it would actually work.

Vader

Hypocrite: Barack Obama once a harsh critic of executive privilege

obama, bush
© Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty ImagesAs a Senator, Obama criticised Bush's repeated use of executive privilege.
While an Illinois Senator, Obama condemned George W Bush's repeated use of privilege power. Now he has used it himself

Barack Obama has asserted his power of executive privilege for the first time in his presidency. But before taking up residence in the White House, Obama, along with his fellow Democrats, was a vocal critic of George W Bush's use of the same tool.

In March 2007, Obama - then an Illinois senator - appeared on CNN's Larry King Show. "You know," he said, "There's been a tendency on the part of this administration to try to hide behind executive privilege every time there's something a little shaky that's taking place ... I think the American people deserve to know what was going on there."

Obama was criticizing Bush's repeated use of executive privilege throughout to prevent senior White House executives from testifying before Congress on the firing of senior federal attorneys. Democrats alleged the firings took place on political grounds.

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Best of the Web: Beyond the Politics of the Big Lie: The Education Deficit and the New Authoritarianism

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. -Martin Luther King Jr.

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© Plutor
The American public is suffering from an education deficit. By this I mean it exhibits a growing inability to think critically, question authority, be reflective, weigh evidence, discriminate between reasoned arguments and opinions, listen across differences and engage the mutually informing relationship between private problems and broader public issues. This growing political and cultural illiteracy is not merely a problem of the individual, one that points to simple ignorance. It is a collective and social problem that goes to the heart of the increasing attack on democratic public spheres and supportive public institutions that promote analytical capacities, thoughtful exchange and a willingness to view knowledge as a resource for informed modes of individual and social agency. One of the major consequences of the current education deficit and the pervasive culture of illiteracy that sustains it is what I call the ideology of the big lie - which propagates the myth that the free-market system is the only mechanism to ensure human freedom and safeguard democracy.

The education deficit, along with declining levels of civic literacy, is also part of the American public's collective refusal to know - a focused resistance on the part of many members of society to deal with knowledge that challenges common sense, or to think reflectively about facts and truths that are unsettling in terms of how they disturb some of our most cherished beliefs, especially those that denounce the sins of big government, legitimize existing levels of economic insecurity, social inequality and reduced or minimal government intervention in the field of welfare legislation."(1) The decline of civility and civic literacy in American society is a political dilemma, the social production of which is traceable to a broader constellation of forces deeply rooted in the shifting nature of education and the varied cultural apparatuses that produce it, extending from the new digital technologies and online journals to the mainstream media of newspapers, magazines and television. Politics is now held hostage to what the late Raymond Williams called the "force of permanent education," a kind of public pedagogy spread through a plethora of teaching machines that are shaping how our most powerful ideas are formed.(2) For Williams, the concept of "permanent education" was a central political insight:
What it valuably stresses is the educational force of our whole social and cultural experience. It is therefore concerned, not only with continuing education, of a formal or informal kind, but with what the whole environment, its institutions and relationships, actively and profoundly teaches.... [Permanent education also refers to] the field in which our ideas of the world, of ourselves and of our possibilities, are most widely and often most powerfully formed and disseminated. To work for the recovery of control in this field is then, under any pressures, a priority. For who can doubt, looking at television or newspapers, or reading the women's magazines, that here, centrally, is teaching and teaching financed and distributed in a much larger way than is formal education.(3)

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Bernanke: Federal Reserve Expects 'Slow Progress' On Unemployment

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© Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFederal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks during a news conference on Wednesday in Washington, DC.
The Federal Reserve is ready to take further action - including the purchase of Treasury bonds - "to provide support for the economy," the Chairman of the Fed Ben Bernanke said during a press conference.

Bernanke also said that the members of the Federal Open Market Committee had "marked down" their outlooks on the economy.

Most expect there to be little change in the unemployment rate through the end of the year. The consensus, said Bernanke, is that the Fed expects "slow progress" on unemployment and most opinions are "weighted toward slower growth" on the GDP.

With that outlook - which didn't expect the unemployment rate to dip below 8 percent this year - the chairman was peppered with questions about whether the Federal Reserve's actions have been too timid.

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House Committee Cites Attorney General Holder For Contempt in "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking operation

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© Jim Watson/AFP/Getty ImagesAttorney General Eric Holder during congressional testimony in 2011.
Acting along partisan lines, with a vote of 23 to 17, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted this afternoon to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Republicans, who control the committee, say Holder's Justice Department has not turned over all the documents that the committee needs to see as it probes the so-called Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation.

And they want to know more about why the Justice Department initially told a senator that it had not pursued such an operation.

Now, The Associated Press writes, the contempt citation will go to the full House for a vote - "although House leaders are not required to call it up for a vote. They could instead use the threat of that to pressure for renewed negotiations. Historically, at some point Congress and president negotiate agreements, because both sides want to avoid a court battle that could narrow either the reach of executive privilege or Congress' subpoena power."

Update at 4:35 p.m. ET.: House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, said the House will schedule a vote on the matter next week.