The Trump Investigations Report: “Abedin” – Google News: UBC Okanagan students host vigil for New Zealand massacre victims – Global News

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UBC Okanagan students host vigil for New Zealand massacre victims  Global News

Students from all backgrounds came together for a vigil at UBC Okanagan on Monday night to remember the victims of the New Zealand massacre.

“Abedin” – Google News

The Trump Investigations Report


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The Trump Investigations Report: “putin won US 2016 election” – Google News: Russia’s meddling strategy in Europe | Michael Falzon – MaltaToday

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Russia’s meddling strategy in Europe | Michael Falzon  MaltaToday

In its annual threat assessment published on March 12, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence *Service* (Efis) warned that France, Germany, and Italy are Russia’s main …

“putin won US 2016 election” – Google News

The Trump Investigations Report


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The Trump Investigations Report: “Russian Intelligence, organized crime and political interference” – Google News: Russia’s meddling strategy in Europe | Michael Falzon – MaltaToday

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Russia’s meddling strategy in Europe | Michael Falzon  MaltaToday

In its annual threat assessment published on March 12, Estonia’s Foreign Intelligence *Service* (Efis) warned that France, Germany, and Italy are Russia’s main …

“Russian Intelligence, organized crime and political interference” – Google News

The Trump Investigations Report


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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: ‘Charshanbe Soori’: Iran’s Fire Festival – OpEd

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Iranians hold and celebrate many different events and festivals all year round.

“Charshanbe Soori,” is an ancient Persian “Festival of Fire” and one of the most beloved celebrations among the Iranian people. This festival has historic and ceremonial roots.

Iranians will hold the fire festival on March 19, 2019. It always begins at the sunset of the last Wednesday of the Persian year, which will happen this year, too.

In this ancient custom, they sing: “Sorkhie to az man, zardie man az to,” which means: “I give my ill to the fire and receive the redness and warmth from the fire.”

In this fire festival, ordinary Iranians pile tinder from bushes and pieces of wood in public places such as streets, alleys, and squares, and then set them alight. People gather around the bonfires and jump over them, with shouting. The intention is to hope for enlightenment and happiness throughout the coming year.

But it’s not only that.

The other reason is problematic for Iran’s detested rulers, because, with the help of fire, the people also recall tribulations. These include the long battle against dictatorship and the ignorance of reactionary forces throughout their history.

For Iranians today, this especially includes the 39-year dark era of the ruling mullahs in Iran, from 1979 until now. By the light of the fire, Iranians think about the true facts of their situation, and for many, the need to end this regime.

The fire is conducive to meditative thinking. So with the fire festival, it is not uncommon for Iranians to think of ending the repression, torture, executions and human rights abuses that have taken over their country, and contemplate how the arrival of spring, as the New Year begins, (on the 20th of March 2019) brings hopes for ending this regime forever.

The fire festival also has other customs. Spring housecleaning is carried out to welcome the new year. This year, many people hope the whole country will wipe out the regime for complete cleaning.

So with the fire festival, it is not uncommon for Iranians to think of ending the repression, torture, executions, and human rights abuses that have taken over their country and contemplate how the arrival of spring, as the New Year begins (on March 20, 2019) and brings hope for ending this regime forever.

In response to the festival this year, the mullahs and their security forces have put bans in place on fireworks, letting businesses know they can lose their licenses to do business.

These economic threats are meant to discourage people from buying fireworks to celebrate the festival. Additionally, checkpoints are being put in place, and the security forces are making it uncomfortable for individuals to gather to celebrate.

The MEK (the Farsi initials for the democracy-promoting People’s Mojahedin of Iran) inside Iran have called for mobilization by the Iranian people together with the “resistance units” during the celebration, marking the festival as an annual anti-regime event. They have made this fire festivity a platform for the uprising and to welcome the new year.

Statements issued by the prosecutors general and revolutionary prosecutors of various provinces and cities throughout Iran indicate that they are preparing for an influx of arrests. It’s so extreme that in many instances, they have declared the creation of a separate branch to deal with violations and possible crimes related to the fire festival.

I am not projecting as I describe the Iranian festival this way: during the past decades, the fire festival in cities across Iran became the scene of protests and expressions of outrage against the regime. Last year, the sound of exploding grenades and firecrackers was heard constantly in many cities, following the explosion of firecrackers by angry young Iranians. In this case, the regime’s agents blacked out a whole town where it happened, and the attack of security forces on people turned to confrontation. Then clashes broke out between the youths and regime’s mercenaries, who tried to disperse them.

But this year, the fire festival will be very different from that of last year, especially after protests that rocked Iran during the past 16 months. The regime is even more fearful of the fire festival this year and has issued harassing directives in the public media to deter the people from holding the customary annual celebration.

The mullahs not only fear more of the ongoing protests by Iranians throughout the country but fear new calls for a nationwide uprising to mark this particular celebration by the resistance units. Senior Iranian officials have also acknowledged the resistance units as the organizer of the recent flare-up of protests across the country. The upcoming fire festival and the calls for protest make the situation more crucial for the regime and its suppression forces.

With the coming heated fire festival, the people in Iran have this message to the regime now: “Fire is the symbol of our long battle against dictatorship, we are all altogether, and repression will not affect us.”

Any wonder the mullahs are afraid?

*Hassan Mahmoudi is a  human rights advocate and Social Media journalist seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region.

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: The Protests In Algeria – Analysis

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In the past few weeks, Algeria has been shaken by large-scale protests against the decision by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a fifth term. But apart from the immediate political reasons, the manifestations look like the symptom of deeper social strain caused by the country’s economic problems. Considering the challenges that Algeria is already facing in the form of terrorism and illicit traffic and that neighbouring Libya is still in chaos, a destabilization of Algeria would seriously impact the region and Europe alike.

The protests

The recent wave of popular unrest has started in late February, when incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would seek re-election for the fifth time. He has been uninterruptedly in power since 1999, when he managed to put an end to the bloody civil war that had ravaged Algeria during the so-called “Black Decade” of the 90s. Bouteflika systematically won all the subsequent elections, including the last one held in 2014; even though he did not campaign personally since he had suffered a stroke one year before.

As a matter of fact, he has rarely appeared in public since then. Now aged 82, Bouteflika remains officially in power and has decided to run again for the Presidency. Of course, many are sceptic about his ability to continue leading the country; and some suspect that he is actually just a façade President that the de facto rulers of Algeria exploit to dominate the country.

In this sense, the dynamic of the recent electoral bid is notable. Bouteflika did not submit is candidature in person, since he is currently in Switzerland for medical treatment; and following the protests he explained in a letter read on the national TV that he is going to run again, but just to preside an “inclusive national conference” before calling for anticipated elections to choose a new President. So, Bouteflika never appeared personally during the whole issue, letting his spokesmen to act on his behalf and raising doubts about who actually took these decisions.

Several important figures of the opposition did not submit their bid and various key political forces announced that they will boycott the election. In this context, Bouteflika was expected to win another term, and many are protesting against what they consider an unfair and not transparent election. In the wake of popular unrest, he decided to step down and withdrew his candidature. Yet, protests have continued going on. The fact is that the issueis more complex than it might seem at first sight, and go beyond purely political issues. The wave on social unrest looks like the result of the strained conditions of Algeria’s economy, itself a direct result of Bouteflika’s policies over the years.

Algeria’s social contract

When Bouteflika took power in 1999, Algeria was just coming out of years of civil war that had caused more than 100,000 casualties and had left the country socially divided. It was therefore imperative to bring better economic conditions to the Algerian people in order to restore social cohesion.

To achieve this goal, Bouteflika exploited the country’s main resources: oil and gas. Under this particular kind of “social contract”, he collected the revenues from the state-owned energy firm and redistributed them to the population in the form of generous subsidies. From a social point of view, this policy was successful in improving the people’s life conditions and in tackling the economic problems that had fomented the civil war; but from an economic perspective it has resulted into a typical state-dominated, hydrocarbon-centred and export-dependent economy marked by inefficiency, lack of competitiveness, corruption, inequality and high-public expenditures to sustain the subsidy system.

But like in similar cases like Venezuela this socio-economic model is very vulnerable to the fluctuations of oil & gas prices and is not sustainable in the long term. As of today, hydrocarbons continue to play a fundamental role in Algeria’s economy. At the end of 2010, the country hosted 12.2 thousand million barrels of oil, meaning the 16th largest proven reserves in the world.

But Algeria’s real strength is gas. In the same year, its stock amounted to 159.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which translates in the world’s 10th largest. Most notably, Algeria ranks third in the globe in terms of shale gas reserves; which is significant considering how US shale gas have deeply changed the global energy market – even though the American shale miracle is unlikely to repeat elsewhere due to various factors. Looking at Algeria’s macroeconomic outlook, hydrocarbons revenues account for more than 90% of exports, 30% of the GDP and 60% of the government’s budget.

This economic model functioned as long as the price of oil and gas was high: the state could collect revenues from energy exports and redistribute them to the population in the form of subsidies on basic goods and services. But following the fall of global hydrocarbon prices in 2014, Algeria was put under significant stress.

Once positive, its trade balance turned to a 9.5 billion dollars deficit in 2017. Algeria’s GDP grew of 3.7% in 2015, but two years later the figure shrunk to 1.4%. Public debt increased from 20.4% of the economy’s size in 2016 to 27.5% one year later, and external debt rose as well. But the most notable figure is probably the one about the government’s budget, whose deficit amounted to almost 10% of the GDP in 2017. These figures reflect the executive’s reaction to the declining hydrocarbon prices.

Since the income was no longer sufficient to cover the country’s high public expenditures, the government was forced to take emergency measures. In the immediate, it countered the problem by borrowing money and by using the considerable foreign currency reserves accumulated when the price of oil and gas was high.

However, this approach can only work in the short term, as the foreign currency stock will erode with time and debt will risk becoming too high; and the country’s economic fundamentals – especially in this difficult moment of low energy prices – do not allow to easily repay debts.

As such, the Algerian authorities have also recurred to other measures to stabilize the public finances, notably by gradually increasing taxes to bring more money in the state’s coffers and compensate the losses deriving from declining hydrocarbon revenues. However, this move was obviously unpopular, even more because it breaks Algeria’s longstanding social contract. Before, it was the state who paid for the subsidies; now, it is the citizens who pay for them. But this means that what Algerians receive from the state is largely given back to the government, thus diminishing the people’s purchasing power in real terms.

The other possible solution, namely reducing the subsidies, would also have negative effects on the standard of living of Algerians and would be even more unpopular since it is immediately felt in everyday life; so, the government has unsurprisingly refrained from lowering them.

The recent social unrest in Algeria is to be interpreted in the context of these complicated economic conditions, which include an unemployment rate of almost 12% in 2017. The people’s anger is not only driven by merely political reasons linked with Bouteflika’s bid for re-election and to the opposition to the de facto leaders of the country, but is also the result of economic problems.

Solving them demands careful yet resolute reforms to diversify the economy, attract investments and develop the private sector; but all this takes time, notably in a country like Algeria where decisions are slowly taken by consensus between the various stakeholders like the Presidency, the Armed Forces, the public energy company and the local oligarchs. This raises the risk of political instability in the country in the immediate future, which would have consequences for the whole region and for neighbouring Europe.

Conclusion: Algeria and stability

In geopolitical terms, Algeria is a vast country with a population of 42 million people that connects the Sahara-Sahel region with the Mediterranean. This has important implications. If social unrest became common and especially if the situation degenerated into another civil war, then a new hotbed of instability would appear in North Africa just next to Libya. Apart from the possible flow of refugees from its crowded coastal cities where most of the population is concentrated, having two intertwined conflict zones would be the ideal terrain for illicit activities.

It should not be forgotten that North African states like Algeria and especially war-torn Libya are the crossroad for the illegal flow of goods to Europe as well as for the migration routes originating from Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, several terrorist groups operate in the Sahara-Sahel region and in Algeria, but the country is also an important partner for Americans and Europeans in fighting Islamist groups. As such, stability in the country is essential to avoid it becoming a safe haven for terrorist organizations.

For all these reasons, the evolution of the situation in Algeria is to be monitored in the coming weeks but also in the longer-term future. Even if the current wave of protests produces no negative effect, the economic problems at their base will not be solved anytime soon, meaning that the potential for instability will persist in the country for the years to come.

This article was originally used as a script for a video published by the YouTube channel KJ Vids.

*Alessandro Gagaridis is an independent International Relations analyst and owner of the website www.strategikos.it

Eurasia Review

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. Podcasts from Michael_Novakhov (19 sites): NPR News Now: NPR News: 03-19-2019 1AM ET

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NPR News: 03-19-2019 1AM ET

Download audio: https://play.podtrac.com/npr-500005/npr-news.streaming.adswizz.com/2019/03/19/newscast010802.mp3?awCollectionId=500005&awEpisodeId=704683846&orgId=1&d=300&p=500005&story=704683846&t=podcast&e=704683846&ft=pod&f=500005

NPR News Now

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): World: A new political party in Thailand, led by an athletic billionaire, rattles ruling junta

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Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit commands a youthful urban following that lends his party credibility in a long-awaited election this month.

World

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): World: The world is watching New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern

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The New Zealand leader has become the face of both her nation’s grief and its resolve.

World

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: Pastukhov Floats Idea Of Joint Ukrainian-Russian Administration Of Crimea – OpEd

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Vladimir Pastukhov, one of the most insightful analysts of Russian affairs, says that neither Russia nor Ukraine can retreat from their current positions about Crimea. No conceivable Russian government will ever give Crimea back to Ukraine, and no Ukrainian government will ever drop its insistence that Crimea belongs to Kyiv.

Because that is so, the London-based Russian analyst says, it is time to think outside the box and consider the possibility of a joint Ukrainian-Russian administration of Crimea, an arrangement that would allow each side to claim that it was not backing down and prevent the Crimean situation from further poisoning life in Russia, Ukraine and the West.

In an essay on the Republic portal today, Portnikov says that “the most important thing that we have lost in this war and that makes peace today impossible is the ability to like those with whom one does not agree” and thus be in a position to examine problems on which there are deep divisions in an open and potentially fruitful way (republic.ru/posts/93300).

“The problem,” he continues, is not that with regard to Crimea it is impossible to agree because of diametrically opposed approaches to the problem. The problem is that not one of the proposed approaches for various reasons is acceptable.” Both sides have a basis for claims to the peninsula, and neither is prepared to recognize any merit in the claims of the other side.

However much one objects to what has happened, it is not possible to simply go back to the status quo ante; but it is also not likely that the world will tolerate an eternal war given that as long as the Crimean problem is not resolved in some way, the war, “at least a cold one,” will continue.

According to Pastukhov, “there are no simple solutions. And those who say ‘Crimea is ours’ are lying. And those who say that it is possible to go back to the past are foolish. And those who hope that all will wind down and be forgotten are deceiving themselves. This is an unusual situation.” Everywhere “there is a dead end.”

Consequently, the Russian analyst argues, “it requires unusual moves at that moment when conditions for its resolution arise.”

The pro-war party in Moscow has made two serious miscalculations. On the one hand, it assumed that after the annexation of Crimea, the rest of Ukraine would quickly disintegrate and fall into Moscow’s hands either fully or partially. And on the other, it believed that the West would complain for awhile but gradually come to terms with the new de facto situation.

But Ukraine has succeeded in surviving – that is its greatest achievement, Pastukhov says – and the West, fearful that changing the border in the case of Crimea could spark a series of similar changes and completely undermine the existing international order, has proven unexpectedly steadfast to principle.

As a result, “’the price of Crimea’ has turned out to be much higher” that many in Moscow thought five years ago, Pastukhov suggests.  It has turned out to be “one of the most significant geopolitical catastrophes in the history of Russia since the time of the formation of the Empire.” 

It has involved Russia in a war with the West that will go on forever and a war that because of its smaller resources, it cannot possibly win and may lose in ways that will cost it the territorial integrity of Russia itself.  “This is,” the analyst says, “worse than Afghanistan, albeit still less obvious and therefore still more dangerous.”

Nonetheless, neither Putin nor any future Russian government, except one installed by those who might defeat it militarily, will agree to give Crimea back to Ukraine; and Ukraine will not have the military strength to take it back from Russia. That means if disaster is to be avoided, some kind of compromise is necessary.

One possibility would be to transform Crimea into “an independent subject of international law operating under a mutual protectorate of Russia and Ukraine and with guarantees from the EU and the US.” That would save the face of both Moscow and Kyiv and avoid a humanitarian disaster in Crimea.

Arranging this would be difficult but perhaps not impossible. There would need to be an agreement on Crimea’s demilitarization and on Crimea’s functioning as a free zone, under joint administration. Of course, there would be enormous problems in getting to this point and sustaining it; but the possibility it could prevent a bigger disaster means it should be explored.

Eurasia Review

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: Ron Paul: Is Trump Really About To Attack Venezuela? – OpEd

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Last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered the last of the US
diplomats out of Venezuela, saying their presence was a “constraint” on
US policy toward the country. The wording seemed intended to convey the
idea that the US is about to launch military action to place a
Washington-backed, self-appointed politician to the presidency. Was it
just bluster, designed to intimidate? Or is the Trump Administration
really about to invade another country that has neither attacked nor
threatened the United States?

While US Administrations engaged
in “regime change” have generally tried to mask their real intentions,
this US-backed coup is remarkable for how honest its backers are being.
Not long ago the National Security Advisor to the president, John
Bolton, openly admitted that getting US companies in control of
Venezuelan oil was the Administration’s intent. Trump Administration
officials have gone so far as mocking the suffering of Venezuelans when a
suspiciously-timed nationwide power failure heightened citizens’
misery.

According to media reports, Vice President Mike Pence
is angry with the Venezuela coup leader, Juan Guaido, because he
promised the whole operation would be a cake walk – just like the
neocons promised us about Iraq. Guaido said hundreds of thousands of
protesters would follow him to the Colombian border to “liberate” US aid
trucks just over the border, but no one showed up. So Pompeo and the
neocons made up a lie that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s thugs
burned the aid trucks to prevent the people from getting relief from
their suffering. Even the pro-war New York Times finally admitted that
the Administration was lying: it was opposition protesters who burned
the trucks.

Was the US behind the take-down of Venezuela’s
power grid? It would not be the first time the CIA pulled such a move,
and US officials are open about the US goal of making life as miserable
as possible for average Venezuelans in hopes that they overthrow their
government.

Congress has to this point been strongly in favor
of President Trump’s “regime change” policy for Venezuela. Sadly, even
though our neocon foreign policy of interventionism has proven
disastrous – from Iraq to Libya to Syria and elsewhere – both parties in
Congress continue to act as if somehow this time they will get it
right. I have news for them, they won’t.

Even weak
Congressional efforts to remind the president that Congress must approve
military action overseas sound like war cries. In Rep. David N.
Cicilline’s (D-RI) statement introducing his “Prohibiting Unauthorized
Military Action in Venezuela Act” last week, he sounded more hawkish
than John Bolton or Elliott Abrams! The statement makes all the
arguments in favor of a US military attack on Venezuela and then – wink
wink – reminds the president he needs authorization beforehand. As if
that’s going to be a hard sell!

So is President Trump about to
attack Venezuela? At a recent US House hearing, one of the expert
witnesses testified that such an invasion would require between 100,000
and 150,000 US troops, going up against maybe three times that number of
Venezuelan troops in a country twice the size of Iraq. With a lot of
jungle. All for a “prize” that has nothing to do with US security. If
the president makes such a foolish move he might find the current war
cheerleaders in the Democrat Party changing their tune rather quickly.
Let’s hope Trump changes his tune and returns to his promises of no more
regime change wars.


This article was published by RonPaul Institute.

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: Community, True And False – OpEd

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Leftists affect to love the community. When they make or support a
political proposal, they are likely to say that it is for the community,
that it is what the community wants.

In discussions with such people, I find that they think I’m crazy for
challenging their conception of community and what promotes the
society’s peace, prosperity, and good order. They take me to be some
sort of rugged individualist, the sort of character Ayn Rand might
relish.

They’re wrong about me. I place a high value on community, and I feel sorry for people who have no membership in one.

But I distinguish true community and false community. The line that
separates them is the locus of points at which people bring government
compulsion to bear to compel those who disagree with them to fall into
line or suffer punishment. This is the line that separates those who
recognize and respect everyone’s natural rights and those who do not.

True communities form spontaneously and function voluntarily. False
communities represent groups of people who use political means to
victimize those outside the group and violate their natural rights. True
communities have no need for cops; false communities cannot get by
without them. False communities are more accurately described as
political factions.

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: Robert Reich: Why Unions Matter To You – OpEd

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As I travel around the country, I tell people: if you have a job, join a union. And if you don’t have a union, start one.

You see, it all comes down to the balance of power between business and workers. 

You strengthen the middle class by strengthening unions.

In
the mid-1950s, unions were strong, and wages grew in tandem with the
economy. Nearly one third of all workers in the United States were
unionized.

This gave workers across America – even those who
weren’t unionized – significant power to demand and get better wages,
hours, benefits, and working conditions. 

Yet starting in the 1980s and with increasing ferocity since then, private-sector employers have fought against unions.

Corporate raiders demanded that companies boost share prices by busting unions or moving to non-union states.

Ronald Reagan’s administration fired the nation’s unionized air traffic
controllers and launched an all-out assault on workers’ rights,
concentrating even more power in the hands of corporate executives.

In short, anti-worker corporations and politicians joined together to stop workers from joining together. 

We now know that as union membership declined, middle class incomes shrank.

The two trends are the exact mirror images of each other.

The
wealthy and big corporations continued to take home a larger share of
the nation’s wealth, while workers were left behind.  Unions balance the
power of workers with corporations, by allowing workers to join forces
to get a fair share.

As an individual your voice is limited,
but there is power in numbers.  Today, unions are more important than
ever to the survival of the middle class.

Corporations have tremendous power over our lives.

They dictate everything from bathroom breaks to health care for millions of Americans.

In
the halls of Washington and state legislatures, their political power
has allowed them to block increases in the minimum wage, roll back
workplace protections, and deny workers their benefits.

Unless
workers balance the power of big corporations, the middle class will
continue to get a smaller piece of the pie as more and more wealth goes
to those at the top. 

Unions are also essential to the workplace of the future.

Workers
must contend with the forces of globalization and technological change.
With the stroke of a keyboard, executives can send jobs overseas.

Automated
technologies threaten to replace workers in every sector of the
economy, making jobs less and less secure. Without unions, workers will
be completely at the mercy of these trends. 

But this isn’t just a theoretical argument.

The tangible, real-world examples of how unions make workers’ lives better are everywhere you look. 

Hospitality
workers were able to secure raises and job protections from Marriott,
the world’s largest hotel chain, because of the power of their union.

Disney employees secured a $15 an hour base-pay after years of opposition from management.

JetBlue’s flight crew have unionized to negotiate better wages and more flexible schedules.  

We must continue to expand unions to restore balance to our economy.

In
2017, more than 250,000 additional American workers joined unions, and
research shows almost 60 million more workers would like to join–if they
had the opportunity.

Public approval of labor unions is at 62 percent, a 15-year high.

That’s
why powerful corporations and their enablers in government are trying
to squash workers by pushing so-called “right to work” laws and
undermining health care, workplace safety, and retirement protections. 

We have the power to overcome these attacks. If you want a better life for you and your children, join a union. And if you want a better America, support unions.

Eurasia Review

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Counterintelligence from Michael_Novakhov (50 sites): Eurasia Review: The Fed And The 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate – OpEd

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Last week’s job report, in spite of the slow job growth for February,
was actually pretty good news. As many of us pointed out, the most
likely reason that the Labor Department reported only 20,000 new jobs in
February, is that the economy reportedly added 311,000 jobs in January.

There is always a substantial element of error in these numbers. If
we envision that there is some underlying rate of job growth of say,
180,000 a month, if we get a number like January’s strong figure, it is
reasonable to expect that job growth in subsequent months will be
slower. Either the rapid growth in January was due to error in the
survey, or alternatively many businesses may have decided that January
was a good time to hire. In both cases, it is reasonable to expect
slower growth in future months.

If this just sounds like hand waving to cover up a bad story,
consider that the non-seasonally adjusted change in employment in
February was a plus 827,000 jobs. In other words, if we just looked at
the raw data, the economy actually added a ton of jobs in February. Of
course, the economy always adds lots of jobs in February. In 2018 it
added 1,236,000 and in 2017 it added 1,030,000. This is why we have
seasonal adjustments. But the adjustment is never perfect, and it is one
of the factors that leads to error in the headline numbers that get so
much attention.

So we should not be too troubled by the weak job growth reported for
February. However, as I noted in my jobs report, there was a drop in
average weekly hours, which could presage lower hiring in future months.
Also, several sectors, notably construction (both residential and
non-residential) and manufacturing seem to be weakening, so there are
some grounds for concern about slowing growth, apart from the 20,000
jobs reported for February.

But I actually wanted to focus on the good news in the report,
specifically the edging down of the unemployment rate to 3.8 percent and
the modest acceleration in the rate of growth in the average hourly
wage to 3.4 percent over the last year. These items are very good news,
especially when we consider that they were the result of policy,
specifically the Federal Reserve Board’s decision to allow the
unemployment rate to fall below the 5.5 percent unemployment rate that
most economists had considered a floor.

The conventional view was that inflation would begin to spiral upward
if the unemployment rate fell below 5.5 percent (many economists put
the floor at 6.0 percent or even higher), therefore the Fed should begin
to raise interest rates to slow the economy and job creation and to
keep the unemployment rate from falling below this level. The group of
economists arguing this position included some of the Fed’s governors
and bank presidents, with at least one of the latter arguing for rate
hikes as early as 2011.

Fortunately, the inflation hawks did not carry the day. The Fed,
under the leadership of then-chair, Janet Yellen, allowed the
unemployment rate to continue to fall. As I have pointed out elsewhere (here, here, and here),
lower unemployment not only means that more people have jobs, it
disproportionately benefits the most disadvantaged in the labor market.
The job gainers are disproportionately black, Hispanic, people with less
education, people with disabilities, and people with criminal records.

This fact should make Federal Reserve Board policy a major issue on
progressives’ agenda. I am proud to say that CEPR has worked with the
grassroots coalition Fed Up to
pressure the Fed to comply with the full employment portion of its
mandate. Our allies in making the economic argument included the
Economic Policy Institute, my friend from EPI days Jared Bernstein who
is now at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and Bill Spriggs,
another old friend from EPI (see a pattern here?) who, as its chief
economist, helped bring along the AFL-CIO. The work of this group helped
to counteract pressure from inflation hawks who would have the Fed only
worry about inflation and not concern itself with maintaining high
levels of employment.

While we can be pleased with our success in pressing the Fed (of
course we had some great allies on the inside, including Fed Governor
Lael Brainard, Minneapolis Bank President Narayana Kocherlakota, and his
successor Neel Kashkari), it is still striking how little attention Fed
policy gets from the larger progressive community. Although the Fed Up
campaign did have the support of one generous funder, for the most part,
our work was spare-time activity.

Imagine that someone came up with a job training program that gave
another 3 million people jobs with a disproportionate share of the job
gainers being the most disadvantaged people in society. I suspect the
major liberal foundations would be falling over themselves to fund this
program, anxious to take part of the credit for the success.

Of course, the benefits from low unemployment go beyond just getting
more jobs. The tighter labor market gives workers at the middle and
bottom of the labor force the bargaining power to get real wage gains.
We saw this in the late 1990s boom, when the period from 1996 to 2001
gave us the first period of sustained real wage growth for the middle
and bottom of the labor force since the early 1970s. Real wages have
been rising since 2014, with low- and middle-wage earners seeing real
wage gains of between 4.0 percent and 6.0 percent.

That’s not great, but it is going in the right direction and is
hardly trivial. For a full-time worker getting $15 an hour, this implies
wage gains of between $1,200 and $1,800 a year. For a worker earning
$25 an hour, this implies wage gains of between $2,000 and $3,000 a
year. We can be pretty certain that if the inflation hawks had kept
unemployment from falling below 5.5 percent the path of wage growth
would have looked very different the last four and a half years.

One other source of frustration in this effort is the folks on the
left who feel the need to remind us that almost 40 million people are
still below the poverty line and that more than 40 percent of black
children live in poverty. These statistics are, of course, horrible and
unacceptable, but it is a bit bizarre they continually get brought up in
the context of efforts to lower the unemployment rate and increase wage
growth at the middle and the bottom.

If we had successfully pushed for an increase in the Earned Income
Tax Credit or an increase in the availability of high-quality child
care, would people feel the need to remind us that there are still
plenty of people who are suffering? It’s pretty much of a non sequitur.
None of us thought that we could right all the wrongs in the economy
and society by getting the Fed to allow the unemployment rate to fall
further.

We did feel that we could improve the lives of tens of millions of
people, and in that respect, we have succeeded. I don’t care about
getting credit, but we could use allies since this is an ongoing battle.
While we can think of long-term policies, that are both politically and
practically difficult, which could offer huge benefits (Medicare for
All is one obvious example), pushing the Fed on pursuing a
high-employment policy is a politically and practically feasible policy
that offers immediate and certain gains.

I remember a few years back the Republican Congress was pushing a
budget that called for a 5 percent cut in the food stamp budget. This
cut would have been roughly equal to $4 billion a year or 0.1 percent of
the federal budget. The liberal punditry and many inside the Beltway
groups rallied to beat back the proposed cut.

While I’m glad they stopped a cut which would have hurt a lot of
low-income people who depend on this benefit, the difference between 3.8
percent unemployment and 5.5 percent unemployment probably means close
to a hundred times as much in terms of wage income for low- and
moderate-income households. It would be nice if it got almost as much
attention.

This article originally appeared on Dean Baker’s blog.

Eurasia Review

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The FBI News Review: Alerta de Google: fbi counterintelligence: ‘Very concerning’: Top Democrats write letter urging the FBI to investigate spa owner offering …

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March 18, 2019
Alerta de Google: fbi counterintelligence: ‘Very concerning’: Top Democrats write letter urging the FBI to investigate spa owner offering …
Judge: Feds can post info on FBI raid of Trump’s ex-lawyer – The Associated Press
“fbi surveillance” – Google News: Column: NSA’s domestic spying program should end – Valley News
Trump gloats as poll shows HALF of Americans agree Russia probe is a ‘witch hunt’ – Daily Mail
“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Mark Meadows: US ambassadors conspired with DOJ to take down Trump – Washington Examiner

Alerta de Google: fbi counterintelligence: ‘Very concerning’: Top Democrats write letter urging the FBI to investigate spa owner offering …

FBI from Michael_Novakhov (25 sites)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Democrats are urging the FBI to investigate a Trump campaign donor who is the founder and onetime owner of a spa that has been implicated in a human-trafficking ring.
Read More

Judge: Feds can post info on FBI raid of Trump’s ex-lawyer – The Associated Press

The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge directed prosecutors Monday to publicly release documents related to the search warrant for last year’s FBI raids on the home and office of President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
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“fbi surveillance” – Google News: Column: NSA’s domestic spying program should end – Valley News

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The U.S. National Security Agency has reportedly mothballed a large domestic spying program that the NSA and its allies in Congress fought vigorously to retain just a few years ago.
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Trump gloats as poll shows HALF of Americans agree Russia probe is a ‘witch hunt’ – Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Trump gloats as poll shows HALF of Americans agree Russia probe is a ‘witch hunt’ and barely 1 in 4 trust Mueller to be ‘fair and accurate’Half of Americans who are registered to vote now agree with Trump that the special counsel Russia probe is a ‘witch hunt’Just 28 per cent say they trust Robert Mueller to be ‘fair and accurate’ President said Friday in a three-tweet outburst that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe is ‘illegal’ and should never have begunAlso insisted Mueller shouldn’t deliver a report to the attorney generalFour federal judges, including one Trump appointee, have already rejected arguments along those linesBy David Martosko, U.s.
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“house judiciary committee” – Google News: Mark Meadows: US ambassadors conspired with DOJ to take down Trump – Washington Examiner

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Mark Meadows: US ambassadors conspired with DOJ to take down Trump Washington ExaminerRep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., hinted Monday the coming release of documents that will “show” U.S.
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The Global Security News: Top stories – Google News: Elizabeth Warren CNN town hall: Live updates – CNN

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Top stories – Google News: Elizabeth Warren CNN town hall: Live updates – CNN

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): Cambridge Analytica from Michael_Novakhov (4 sites): “cambridge analytica” – Google News: Christchurch mosque shootings: Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees pen open letter to Facebook, Twitter, Google – New Zealand Herald

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Christchurch mosque shootings: Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees pen open letter to Facebook, Twitter, Google  New Zealand Herald

The CEOs of the nation’s telcos have penned an open letter to the major social media providers. This comes after reports this week on major Kiwi corporations …

“cambridge analytica” – Google News

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (87 sites): Stars and Stripes: Eglin Air Force Base community rallies around airman after her son’s murder

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The 3-year-old son of Airman 1st Class Darrelly Franken, who was recently assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, was killed by Franken’s husband during a botched murder-suicide attempt.

Stars and Stripes

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: New York mom gives birth to 15-pound baby girl: ‘It was pretty violent’

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A New York mother set a record at a hospital upstate after she gave birth to a baby almost the weight of a bowling ball.

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The Global Security News: 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: New York mom gives birth to 15-pound baby girl: ‘It was pretty violent’

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A New York mother set a record at a hospital upstate after she gave birth to a baby almost the weight of a bowling ball.

FOX News

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The Global Security News: 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: Palestinian agency urges donors: Match 2018 funds in 2019

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The head of the U.N. agency that helps 5.3 million Palestinian refugees is urging donors who filled a $446 million hole in its budget last year after the Trump administration drastically cut the U.S. contribution to be equally generous this year.

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: Palestinian agency urges donors: Match 2018 funds in 2019

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The head of the U.N. agency that helps 5.3 million Palestinian refugees is urging donors who filled a $446 million hole in its budget last year after the Trump administration drastically cut the U.S. contribution to be equally generous this year.

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Global Security News from Michael_Novakhov (27 sites): 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (22 sites): FOX News: Fox News Digital beats CNN to finish No. 1 in multi-platform views, total minutes in February

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Fox News Digital finished picked up 1.5 billion multi-platform views during the month if February to finish No. 1, topping CNN.com for the first time since August 2018, according to comScore.

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