What Mother Jones proved by exposing Mitt Romney’s now-infamous 47 percent comment in 2012, and Huffington Post proved by revealing Barack Obama’s “cling to guns or religion” line in 2008, is that politicians offer their benefactors a candor they would never offer the public at large. This gap between the private and public campaigns must be closed. Every time a mega-donor hosts a fundraiser for a politician, journalists should do everything they legally and ethically can to find out what transpired. When television stations and op-ed pages give Beltway pseudo-scholars a platform, they should identify the mega-donors who pay their salaries.
“The Crimea is a game-changer,” said Kunihiko Miyake, a former adviser to Mr. Abe who is now research director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies in Tokyo. “This is not fire on a distant shore for us. What is happening is another attempt by a rising power to change the status quo.” He pointed as an example to China’s challenge to Japanese control of the Senkaku Islands, the uninhabited rocks in the East China Sea that Beijing claims under the name Diaoyu Islands.
About 36% of all unemployed Americans, or 3.7 million people, fall into the category of the long-term unemployed who have been unable to find a job for 27 weeks or more, even though they are still actively looking. The US Senate has been wrangling over a bipartisan bill to extend those workers’ unemployment benefits, which ran out in December, but the outlook is not promising, according to political analysts. Even if the bill makes it through the Senate, it’s expected to flop in the House.
Sign of Spring on Pay: Real Wage Growth (jdargis)
“I do think there are signs wage growth is picking up,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. Earlier this year, Mr. Zandi was pessimistic about any acceleration in wage gains before 2016, but now he predicts that last year’s after-inflation growth of 0.8 percent will rise to 1 percent this year and 1.1 percent in 2015. “I think we can say definitely the slowing in wage growth is over.”
The federal government is offering less and less help to the long-term jobless. In January, an emergency program that pushed the maximum duration of jobless benefits up to as many as 73 weeks expired. Now, in most states, the maximum duration of payments is 26 weeks. Once those payments run out – along with the government requirement that a worker be looking for a job while receiving them – many among the long-term jobless accept a crummy job or simply give up.
There was a glimmer of good news though. More people are looking for, and finding, jobs. Specifically, the household survey showed 503,000 more people in the labor force, and 476,000 more employed in March. So the unemployment rate didn’t fall for the good reason that people aren’t giving up, and are coming back now that things look a little better. As FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman points out, you can see this slight increase among “prime-age” workers (25 to 54-year olds) the past few months. Now, this might just be another blip, but it might not. It might be the “shadow unemployed”—particularly younger folks—getting off the sidelines of the labor market.
Fracking Is Like Fishing (jdargis)
Indeed, when U.S. accounting rulemakers back in the early 1980s first wrote the standards for disclosing companies’ proved oil-and-gas reserves, they decided that the figures should be reported as “supplementary” information outside the companies’ official financial statements. The reason they cited at the time: the numbers weren’t reliable enough to justify the cost of having them audited independently.
This brings me to the real purpose for this column: To share some old jokes with you.
A Big Find on a Tiny Saturn Moon (jdargis)
The Cassini spacecraft has detected an ocean hiding under 25 miles of ice on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Italian researchers say that a gravity anomaly around the moon’s south pole revealed denser water was present beneath the icy surface.
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