January 3, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:00 PM


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Posted by orrinj at 6:31 PM


Two-year yield dips below key Fed rate for first time since 2008 (Kate Duguid, 1/03/19, Reuters)

The fed funds effective rate, which was 2.4 percent on Thursday, moves within the Federal Reserve's key policy range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent. The market move suggests investors believe the U.S. central bank will not be able to continue to tighten monetary policy as its forecast suggests, after having lifted benchmark interest rates four times in 2018.

"This is a big deal," said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

"The market is effectively saying that at some point in the next 24 months, the Fed is going to have to not only stop hiking, but actively start easing."

New Fed chairmen feel compelled to demonstrate their inflation bona fides, despite our being in a 30-year deflationary epoch.

Posted by orrinj at 6:06 PM


Shutdown worsens strain on U.S. immigration system (Nick Miroff, January 2, 2018, Washington Post)

Tens of thousands of U.S. immigration officers and agents are showing up for work each day to guard the Mexico border, where President Trump insists on putting a wall. But the government is shut down, so no one is getting paid.

The paralysis in bank accounts extends to overburdened U.S. immigration courts. New filings are piling up on dockets already backlogged by nearly 1 million cases, but many of the judges and clerks who process them have been sent home.

And when U.S. companies and employers want to check the immigration status of potential hires, they are greeted by a red banner across the top of the government's E-Verify website. Those services are "currently unavailable due to a lapse in government appropriations," it says.

Twelve days into the standoff over Trump's $5 billion border-wall demand, major components of the U.S. immigration system are offline, out of order or under worsening strain.

"So much winning...."

Posted by orrinj at 1:30 PM


Undocumented Worker Says Trump Resort Shielded Her From Secret Service (Miriam Jordan, Jan. 3, 2019, NY Times)

A former employee of the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey said that her name was removed from a list of workers to be vetted by the Secret Service after she reminded management that she was unlawfully in the United States, the latest worker to assert that supervisors at the elite resort were aware that some members of their work force were undocumented.

Posted by orrinj at 3:54 AM


Who gets to vote in Israel's 'democracy' in 2019 (Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man,  January 3, 2019, +972)

At the end of 2018, the population of Israel was approximately 8,972,000 people. That includes more than 330,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who do not have Israeli citizenship and thus do not have the right to vote in national elections. It also includes more than 214,000 Jewish Israeli citizens who live in occupied East Jerusalem and more than 435,000 Jewish Israelis who live in the occupied West Bank.

Then there is the West Bank, which has been governed undemocratically by the Israeli military since it occupied the territory in 1967. Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed again and again, the Israel will not give up military control over the West Bank -- ever.

In that territory, over which Israel plans to rule in perpetuity, live more than 2,623,000 (2,953,000 including East Jerusalem Palestinians) Palestinians who do not have the right to vote in Israeli elections. In the West Bank, Israel and its army are responsible for everything from road infrastructure, deciding who may live where, who may build where and what, who is allowed to move between different parts of the territory and when, who is allowed in and out of the West Bank, who is allowed to hold a political protest (only Jews), what the laws are and how they are enforced, and whether they will ever be granted independence.

The 435,000 Jewish Israelis who live in the West Bank have the right to vote in elections that can determine every one of those policies. They have elected representatives who can work to rectify any grievances they might have regarding how those policies affect their lives. The 2,623,000 Palestinians living in the same territory do not have the right to vote in elections that determine any of those policies. When their lives are negatively affected by the democratic country that rules over so many aspects of their lives, they have zero recourse within that democratic system to address their grievances.

Then there is the Gaza Strip. Despite having withdrawn its troops from inside the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel and its military still control a great number of significant aspects of life in the strip and the way it is governed. Israel determines what may be imported and exported; who can come in and out of the territory; and who can travel between the West Bank and Gaza. It has unilaterally claimed a buffer zone of farmland inside Gazan territory and enforces who may enter it; it determines and enforces limits to where Palestinian fishermen can fish; it controls the flow of electricity; and even had to give its permission for cash from a third country to be brought into Gaza to pay civil servants' salaries.

None of the 1,961,000 people living in Gaza get to vote in the democratic elections that could affect those policies, including how much violence Israel uses against them.

Posted by orrinj at 12:15 AM


2019 Government Shutdown Report: Most & Least Affected States (https://wallethub.com/edu/government-shutdown-report/1111/John S Kiernan, 1/03/19, WalletHub)

Some states are hit harder by a government shutdown than others. To determine the places most affected by the 2019 partial shutdown, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across five key metrics. They range from each state's share of federal jobs to federal contract dollars per capita to the share of families receiving food stamps. You can check out the findings below, followed by a complete description of our methodology.
Source: WalletHub

Posted by orrinj at 12:07 AM


Backing Trump on Syria, America's So-called 'Progressives' Are Enabling a Kurdish Genocide (Anna-Sara Malmgren  and Robert Hockett  Jan 02, 2019, Ha'aretz)

As best as we can tell from the news accounts, Mr. Trump simply "gave" northern Syria, as if he owned it, to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a whim, as the two discussed Syria and other matters by telephone Thursday. He did this against the explicit advice of his Defense Secretary James Mattis, who then resigned, and in full knowledge of Erdogan's plans to launch a large-scale military operation against SDF's Kurdish contingent (the YPG and YPJ) east of the Euphrates. 

It is a reckless and irresponsible move, that is almost certain to reinvigorate what remains of ISIS, enable Erdogan to take his brutal persecution of the Kurds further into Syria, and lead to chaos and destruction in what has for years been the most stable part of the country and a safe haven for refugees: the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, better known as Rojava.

To our astonishment, many self-styled "progressives" in the U.S. have applauded Mr. Trump's move.

Through their post-9/11 filter, it apparently represents a long-awaited rollback of American imperial involvements that grew especially pronounced during the Obama, Bush and late Clinton years (and that our less recent history is full of). 

There's nothing more Progressive than Isolationism.

Posted by orrinj at 12:02 AM


Trump Defends Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan for Some Reason (Jonathan Chait, 01/02/19, New York)

In 1979, the Soviet Union invaded neighboring Afghanistan. The American interpretation of this invasion, shared by both parties, is that the Soviets were propping up a faltering communist client state, following the "Brezhnev Doctrine," which held that any country that had gone socialist could not be allowed to revert. President Trump bizarrely interjected a different interpretation of this episode.

"The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia," he told reporters today. "They were right to be there."

The most favorable interpretation is that he's so compromised he has to do whatever Vlad tells him to do.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


Graham: Trump giving up on border wall fight would be the 'end of his presidency' (MICHAEL BURKE, 01/02/19, The Hill)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Wednesday cautioned President Trump against giving in on his demand for funding for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, claiming that doing so would likely be "the end of his presidency."

A bad hand, played poorly.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM