Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s news conference on November 2 included the admission that the Fed is depending on hope and patience to see if its continuing strategies of Operation Twist and zero interest rates will grow the economy out of recession. In his session with reporters, Bernanke defended Fed actions in the face of increasing criticism from both the left and the right.
Three years after the Federal Reserve's massive and continuing interventions in the financial markets, Bernanke was forced to admit that “recent indicators point to continuing weakness in overall labor market conditions and the unemployment rate remains elevated ... and consequently [the Fed] anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually.... Moreover, there are significant downside risks to the economic outlook.” He added that “we did underestimate the pace of recovery for some fundamental reasons,” including the continuing declines in the real estate markets and “a certain amount of bad luck.”
Bernanke was forced to reduce further his estimates about the rate of economic growth, now predicting that the U.S. economy will grow at only 1.6 percent to 1.7 percent in 2011, and that 2012 growth will range between 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent, nearly a full percentage point below his previous estimates. He also sees unemployment remaining sticky at between 8.5 percent and 8.7 percent, higher than the 7.8 percent predicted in June. What little growth he has seen in the last month amounts to nothing more than consumers' reaction to the decrease in gasoline prices and Japan’s recovery from the earthquake and tsunami last spring.
The European Commission has requested information on patents from smartphone powerhouses Apple (makers of the immensely popular iPhone) and Samsung. While Apple is not itself a target of the EC’s patent protectors, it has been asked to voluntarily submit critical information regarding its use of 3G technology. Samsung, on the other hand, is being investigated.
"The Commission has sent requests for information to Apple and Samsung concerning the enforcement of standards-essential patents in the mobile telephony sector," read the statement released by the EC, the agency of the European Union tasked with monitoring potential violations of Europe’s antitrust laws. "Such requests for information are standard procedure in antitrust investigations to allow the Commission to establish the relevant facts in a case."
According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal:
Standards-essential patents are patents which cover an area that is crucial to compliance with an industry standard, such as 3G or WiFi. Unlike regular patents, they must be licensed on a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis a standard known as Frand. This means infringement can't lead to injunctions on use, or extraordinarily high royalty payments.
Colombian government officials claim that the leader of that nation’s most prominent rebel group was killed Friday in an operation carried out by the Colombian military.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army) leader Alfonso Cano was killed in a raid on a town in the Cauca department of Colombia, having been chased months ago out of a FARC stronghold in the mountains in the southwest area of the country.
Pinzón declared that Cano had been pursued relentlessly by armed forces in the southwestern Colombian state and was killed just hours after several of his lieutenants were killed in a bombing raid in Suarez, a rural town in Cauca.
The Colombian army may have been aided in its efforts to locate Cano (real name: Guillermo Saenz) by locals motivated to cooperate with the government by the offer of a reward of $3.7 million for information that led to his capture.
Cano, for decades the ideological polestar of the leftist movement, was known to be an intellectual and a hardliner with his eyes firmly fixed on a final triumph over the forces of the government of Colombia. He took command of FARC in March 2008 upon the death of Manuel Marulanda Velez (A.K.A. “Tiro Fijo”).
Using “financial stability” as justification, the European Union is quietly plotting to foist a massive, perpetual bailout machine on euro-zone members that critics say represents a “dictatorship” and a “treaty of debt.” But opposition to the scheme is growing quickly.
The initial “authorized capital stock” for the so-called European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will be close to $1 trillion. But it can be expanded at any time by the regime in charge of the institution, which will operate completely above national governments and laws.
“ESM Members hereby irrevocably and unconditionally undertake to provide their contribution to the authorized capital stock,” notes the draft treaty posted on EU Council’s website. “They shall meet all capital calls on a timely basis in accordance with the terms set out in this Treaty.”
If the initial trillion proves to be insufficient — and considering the debt-laden governments ruling Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, and other nations, it almost certainly will not be enough — the ESM’s Board of Governors can simply demand more. And national governments must hand over the money, no questions asked, within seven days.
On Wednesday, November 2, Viktor Bout, the former Soviet military intelligence officer and international arms dealer on trial for attempting to sell weapons to communist FARC terrorists, was found guilty in the Federal District Court in lower Manhattan.
The verdict and possible life sentence, expected to be announced in February 2012, brings an end to the three-week-long trial that may perhaps go down as the of the most important case in years, highlighting the link between Moscow and international terrorism under the covert guise of spreading communism.
“Viktor Bout is key in all this,” says "Jimmy from Brooklyn," frequent radio caller in the New York area and renowned expert on communism and the USSR. “Bout connects Russia to Marxist and Muslim terrorism,” Jimmy said.
“How does a Soviet military officer go from being a military intelligence officer to becoming in charge of an international air freight company selling arms over night, unless he was working for the Russian government?” Jimmy asked rhetorically when interviewed by The New American magazine.
The police in New York will have a hard time complaining about being overworked given the terrible story of 21-year-old Samantha Zucker. The Carnegie Mellon College senior was in Riverside Park in the early hours of October 22 with her boyfriend Alex Fischer. Fischer related his version of what happened: “We’re there five minutes when a police car came up and told us we had to leave because the park was closed. We said, ‘O.K., we didn’t know,’ and turned around to leave. Almost immediately, a second police car pulls up.”
Police stopped the couple, and the two were given tickets for trespassing. Fischer was able to produce this driver’s license as identification, but Samantha had left her driver’s license in her hotel room a couple of blocks away. She asked if a friend could retrieve the driver’s licenses from her room, but, Ms. Zucker relates: “He said it was too late for that, I should have thought of it earlier.”
The officer then arrested Zucker, handcuffed the young woman, and took her to the 26th Precinct Station House. She was then transported to central booking in Manhattan, and because one of the officers was ending his shift before Zucker could be photographed, the young woman was moved back to the 26th Precinct Station House. Then Samantha Zucker was taken by two officers who had just started their shifts back to central booking where she spent a second night in jail.
Egypt’s ruling military junta is positioning itself to keep the reins of power even after elections take place, prompting outrage and criticism among Egyptians of all political persuasions. Critics, meanwhile, are being silenced by the regime. And talk of a “second revolution” is becoming more widespread.
Among the most contentious issues is a proposal by the Egyptian cabinet — hand picked by the military — to ensure that civilian government cannot meddle in the affairs of the armed forces. Because the military regime would be recognized as the guarantor of “constitutional legitimacy,” analysts said the junta would in effect continue to rule without any limits to its power. Even its budget would be secret.
The scheme would also give the military the ability to virtually exclude elected representatives from the process of drafting a new constitution, with 80 percent of the delegates being selected by the generals. And all it takes for the proposal to become binding is approval from the two dozen generals on the “Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.”
When it comes to private property, wrote economist Ludwig von Mises, it is a simple “either-or” proposition: “either private ownership of the means of production, or hunger and misery for everyone.” In 1959, Fidel Castro essentially abolished private property in Cuba, and the result has been exactly as Mises predicted: a declining standard of living and shortages of basic necessities such as food, building materials, and housing.
Faced with this reality, Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and successor, has begun scaling back government and liberalizing property laws. He has pledged to trim nearly one-quarter of the government workforce, which accounts for over 80 percent of all jobs in Cuba. Last year he began allowing private enterprise in some limited circumstances, and now “the number of private business operators has hit more than 333,000, above the expectations of the authorities, from 148,000 in 2010,” according to Agence France-Presse. In October he lifted some restrictions on the buying and selling of automobiles. Now, in what the Associated Press terms “the most important reform yet,” Castro’s government has announced that individuals will, for the first time in half a century, be able to buy and sell real estate.
There was precious little good news in the latest employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for October. Employment rose by 80,000, less than economists expected, and much less than the 250,000 needed to begin to bring down the unemployment rate significantly.
But inside the numbers there was a little good news: The unemployment rate dropped slightly to 9.0 percent, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 365,000 and private-sector employment increased by 104,000. At the same time government payrolls have been decreasing, reducing slightly but inevitably the drag on the private sector that ultimately pays for that government overhead. In fact, according to the BLS, “employment in both state and local government has been trending down since the second half of 2008,” having shrunk by nearly 500,000 jobs. The August and September private-sector employment numbers were revised upwards as well, showing that sector struggling but making some progress in putting people back to work in real jobs.
In the meantime President Obama’s “jobs bill” continues to be excoriated as being nothing more than show and tell for his political purposes. His flawed infrastructure plan couldn’t even get past the Democrat-controlled Senate as more are recognizing that dumping more money into the economy by taking it from the productive sector is counterproductive, to be kind about it. And his “executive proclamation” establishing the Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia, was touted to generate as many as 3,000 jobs in the area.
After spending the entire weekend trying to sell his company, MF Global, Chairman Jon Corzine finally capitulated, and his board declared bankruptcy on Monday morning, October 31. It was during negotiations with a potential suitor for the business, Interactive Brokers (IB), that word leaked out that customers’ monies were missing, and IB left Corzine to fend for himself. A board meeting was hastily called and ended Corzine’s dream of building another Goldman Sachs with other peoples’ money.