With the Fed on the verge of a full relent and admission of policy error, the Fed’s “data (in)dependent” monetary policy once again takes on secondary relevance as we progress into 2016. However, even with the overall job picture far less important, one aspect of the US jobs market is certain to take on an unprecedented importance.
We first laid out what that is last September when we said that “the one chart that matters more than ever, has little to nothing to do with the Fed’s monetary policy, but everything to do with the November 2016 presidential elections in which the topic of immigration, both legal and illegal, is shaping up to be the most rancorous, contentious and divisive.”
We were talking about the chart showing the cumulative addition of foreign-born and native-born workers added to US payrolls according to the BLS since December 2007, i.e., since the start of the recession/Second Great Depression.
As usually happens, it is precisely this data that gets no mention following any job report. However, with Trump and his anti-immigration campaign continuing to plow on despite the Iowa disappointment, we are confident that the chart shown below will soon be recognizable to economic and political pundits everywhere.
And here is why we are confident this particular data should have been prominently noted by all experts when dissecting today’s job report: according to the BLS’ Establishment Survey, while 151,000 total workers were added in January, a number which rises to 615,000 if looking at the Household survey, also according to the same Household survey, a whopping 567,000 native-born Americans lost their jobs, far less than the 98,000 foreign-born job losses.
Here is a chart showing native-born non-job gains since the start of the depression:
Alternatively, here are foreign-born worker additions since December 2007:
Putting the two side by side:
And the bottom line: starting with the infamous month when it all started falling apart, December 2007, the US has added just 186,000 native-born workers, offset by 13.5x times more, or 2,518,000, foreign born workers.
If Trump wins New Hampshire and South Carolina, and storms back to the top of the GOP primary polls, expect this chart to become the most important one over the next 10 months.
It’s news that seems ripped from the pages of The Onion. Or perhaps Atlas Shrugged.
But incredibly enough it’s actually true: earlier this week, Congress proposed a new law authorizing the US Postal Service to provide banking and financial services.
It’s called the “Providing Opportunities for Savings, Transactions, and Lending” Act, abbreviated as… wait for it… the POSTAL Act.
And it provides explicit authorization for them to provide banking services including checking and savings accounts, money transfers, and “other basic financial services as the Postal Service deems appropriate in the public interest.”
Bank of the Post Office. It’s incredible when you think about it.
The US Postal Service hasn’t turned a profit in a decade.
As a matter of fact, its total accumulated losses now exceed $51 billion, easily ranking it among the least successful companies in history.
And the only way USPS can continue to maintain its operations is with regular bailouts from the American taxpayer.
The statistics are just horrendous. Mail volume is down dramatically, which means that revenue continues to fall.
Yet the Postal Service’s expenses and pension costs keep growing, along with its debt.
Just like the US government, the US Postal Service has its own debt ceiling that’s set by Congress.
USPS reached this debt ceiling back in 2012 and has remained at that level for years.
The only way they survive is by moving liabilities off-balance sheet and regularly going back to Congress with hat in hand.
Wow, talk about a responsible financial partner – this sounds like EXACTLY the place we should want to deposit our hard-earned savings!
Seriously, why would these people even consider an idea so absurd as to let an organization with a history of failed operations take over people’s savings?
Simple. It’s a cheap source of capital.
The Postal Service desperately needs cash. So what better way to raise capital than to sucker unsuspecting Americans into opening up Postal bank accounts?
When you deposit money in a bank, you are effectively loaning the bank your money.
In exchange, they pay you a whopping 0.01% interest.
This is what almost all banks do – they borrow money from depositors and (hopefully) make credible investments and loans with other people’s money.
Except in this case, the Postal Service needs to ‘borrow’ depositors’ savings to cover losses from its other operations.
There’s a term for this. It’s called a Ponzi Scheme.
Government oversight officials informed Congress on Wednesday that the Transportation Security Administration continues to operate in disarray, failing to record basic security details for thousands of employees and not tracking official IDs and badges that allow access to the most sensitive areas of an airport.
Lawmakers described the security agency as operating “in chaos” and expressed frustration with Obama administration officials as they informed the House Oversight Committee about a range of security shortfalls that continue to endanger the nation’s 450 commercial airports.
TSA’s inability to properly screen and track employees has been well documented for years. However, the administration has failed to enact multiple reforms aimed at tightening security and making it more efficient, lawmakers said.
TSA still cannot verify their employees’ criminal histories and immigration statuses, according to disclosures made by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
“Even 15 years” since the 9/11 terror attacks, “we still see a system that has not complied with the laws we have passed multiple times… and we see failures,” said Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.), chair of the House Transportation Subcommittee.
Following the discovery last year of 73 aviation employees who also were listed on the nation’s terror watch list, TSA has struggled to implement reforms aimed to remedy these security gaps, Mica said.
“TSA employees are not properly vetted,” he said. “We’ve found that tens of thousands of incomplete records are even lacking full names. They [TSA] had 14,000 immigrants listed in the database that did not have alien registration numbers and 75,000 of these records lacked passport numbers. This is not acceptable.”
Officials additionally could not account for “hundreds and thousands of IDs” that had gone missing, including TSA security badges, airport identity badges, and officer identification.
“Everything you can imagine stolen, or missing, or unaccounted for,” Mica said. “Here we are in 2016, 15 years after 9/11, and we don’t know who’s going in and who’s going out. There’s no way to ensure it.”
John Roth, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general, provided a list of security flaws and inefficiencies in the TSA’s employee screening process.
In addition to still not having full access to the U.S. terror watch list, TSA is incapable of verifying employees’ criminal records.
“TSA is considerably challenged when it comes to verifying workers’ criminal histories and immigration status,” Roth said. “TSA does not recurrently vet airport workers’ criminal histories after they are initially cleared to work, but rely on individuals to self-report disqualifying crimes.”
Most employees do not follow this policy, he said.
“TSA cannot systematically determine whether individuals have been convicted of disqualifying crimes,” Roth said, noting that commercial airports also do not hold onto these records. “Due to the large workload involved, this inspection process looked at as few as one percent of all aviation workers applications.”
Additionally, the records TSA uses for vetting individuals is “not reliable, as it contains incomplete or inaccurate data,” Roth said.
At least 87,000 active aviation workers, or 10 percent of the total workforce, do not have social security numbers listed in their records, according to Roth.
An additional 75,000 active employee credentials listed the worker as a non-U.S. citizen but did not include passport numbers. Of that number, 14,000 workers also did not list an alien registration number, meaning they could potentially be undocumented.
“TSA did not have appropriate checks in place to reject records from such vetting,” Roth said. “Without complete and accurate info TSA risked credentialing and providing unescorted access to secure airport areas for a worker who could potentially harm the nation’s air transportation system.”
Highly classified Hillary Clinton emails that the intelligence community and State Department recently deemed too damaging to national security to release contain “operational intelligence” – and their presence on the unsecure, personal email system jeopardized “sources, methods and lives,” a U.S. government official who has reviewed the documents told Fox News.
The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record and was limited in discussing the contents because of their highly classified nature, was referring to the 22 “TOP SECRET” emails that the State Department announced Friday it could not release in any form, even with entire sections redacted.
The announcement fueled criticism of Clinton’s handling of highly sensitive information while secretary of state, even as the Clinton campaign continued to downplay the matter as the product of an interagency dispute over classification. But the U.S. government official’s description provides confirmation that the emails contained closely held government secrets. “Operational intelligence” can be real-time information about intelligence collection, sources and the movement of assets.
The official emphasized that the “TOP SECRET” documents were sent over an extended period of time – from shortly after the server’s 2009 installation until early 2013 when Clinton stepped down as secretary of state.
Separately, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who sits on the House intelligence committee, said the former secretary of state, senator, and Yale-trained lawyer had to know what she was dealing with.
“There is no way that someone, a senior government official who has been handling classified information for a good chunk of their adult life, could not have known that this information ought to be classified, whether it was marked or not,” he said. “Anyone with the capacity to read and an understanding of American national security, an 8th grade reading level or above, would understand that the release of this information or the potential breach of a non-secure system presented risk to American national security.”
Pompeo also suggested the military and intelligence communities have had to change operations, because the Clinton server could have been compromised by a third party.
“Anytime our national security team determines that there’s a potential breach, that is information that might potentially have fallen into the hands of the Iranians, or the Russians, or the Chinese, or just hackers, that they begin to operate in a manner that assumes that information has in fact gotten out,” Pompeo said.
On ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, one day before the Iowa caucuses, Clinton claimed ignorance on the sensitivity of the materials and stressed that they weren’t marked.
“There is no classified marked information on those emails sent or received by me,” she said, adding that “Republicans are going to continue to use it [to] beat up on me.”
Clinton was pressed in the same ABC interview on her signed 2009 non-disclosure agreement which acknowledged that markings are irrelevant, undercutting her central explanation. The agreement states “classified information is marked or unmarked… including oral communications.”
Clinton pointed to her aides, saying: “When you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain had thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”
But according to national security legal experts, security clearance holders are required to speak up when classified information is not in secure channels.
“Everybody who has a security clearance has an individual obligation to protect the information,” said national security attorney Edward MacMahon Jr., who represented former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in the high-profile leak investigation regarding a New York Times reporter. “Just because somebody sends it to you… you can’t just turn a blind eye and pretend it never happened and pretend it’s unclassified information.”
These rules, known as the Code of Federal Regulations, apply to U.S. government employees with security clearances and state there is an obligation to report any possible breach by both the sender and the receiver of the information. The rules state: “Any person who has knowledge that classified information has been or may have been lost, possibly compromised or disclosed to an unauthorized person shall immediately report the circumstances to an official designated for this purpose.”
The Clinton campaign is now calling for the 22 “TOP SECRET” emails to be released, but this is not entirely the State Department’s call since the intelligence came from other agencies, which have final say on classification and handling.
“The State Department has no authority to release those emails and I do think that Secretary Clinton most assuredly knows that,” Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, the release of other emails has revealed more about the high-level exchange of classified information on personal accounts. Among the latest batch of emails released by the State Department is an exchange between Clinton and then-Sen. John Kerry, now secretary of state. Sections are fully redacted, citing classified information – and both Kerry and Clinton were using unsecured, personal accounts.
Further, a 2009 email released to Judicial Watch after a federal lawsuit – and first reported by Fox News – suggests the State Department ‘s senior manager Patrick Kennedy was trying to make it easier for Clinton to check her personal email at work, writing to Clinton aide Cheryl Mills a “stand-alone separate network PC is… [one] great idea.”
“The emails show that the top administrator at the State Department, Patrick Kennedy, who is still there overseeing the response to all the inquiries about Hillary Clinton, was in on Hillary Clinton’s separate email network and system from the get-go,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
Kennedy is expected to testify this month before the Republican-led Benghazi Select Committee.
Hillary Clinton was finally asked on Sunday about a non-disclosure agreement she signed in Jan. 2009 which completely undermines the defense she uses to downplay the existence of classified information on her private email server. But as is often the case with the Democratic presidential candidate, she dodged the question and gave an inconsistent answer.
“You know, you’ve said many times that the emails were not marked classified,” said ABC News “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos.
“But the non-disclosure agreement you signed as secretary of state said that that really is not that relevant,” he continued.
He was referring to the “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” – or Standard Form 312 – that Clinton signed on Jan. 22, 2009, a day after taking over as secretary of state.
“It says classified information is marked or unmarked classified and that all of your training to treat all of that sensitively and should know the difference,” said Stephanopoulos, describing the document.
Clinton responded to Stephanopoulos but did not address the meat of his question. In fact, she appeared to reject the language of the SF-312, saying that “there has to be some markings” on classified information.
“I take classified information very seriously,” Clinton said. “You know, you can’t get information off the classified system in the State Department to put onto an unclassified system, no matter what that system is.”
“We were very specific about that and you – when you receive information, of course, there has to be some markings, some indication that someone down the chain had thought that this was classified and that was not the case.”
However, as the SF-312 makes clear, classified information does not have to be marked as such in order to require being handled as classified information. The document applies not just to physical documents and emails but also to oral communications.
Clinton revised her defense of the classified information on several occasions, as federal agencies release more damaging information about her home-brew email system.
“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified materials,” she said in March, when news of her personal email account and server first broke.
In July, after the State Department began retroactively classifying many of Clinton’s emails, she revised her claim saying that she was “confident” that she “never sent nor received any information that was classified at the time it was sent or received.”
Days later, she changed her tune again, adopting the now-familiar claim that she did not send or receive information that was “marked” as such. That was after it was reported that the Intelligence Community’s inspector general had found highly classified emails which were classified when originated.
Clinton’s statement to Stephanopoulos about the inability to transfer “information off the classified system in the State Department to put onto an unclassified system” also fails to hold water.
Earlier this week, Fox News reported on a 2013 video showing Wendy Sherman, who served as Clinton’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, discussing how State Department officials often used Blackberries during overseas negotiations to send and receive information that “would never be on an unclassified system.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush praised former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, calling him a “good man” and a “patriot.”
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper this morning, Bush was asked what he thought of the news that Bloomberg was considering entering the 2016 presidential race.
“Mike Bloomberg is a good man,” Bush said. “We disagree on a whole lot of things, but he’s a good person and he’s a patriot and wants the best for the country.”
When asked if he would consider supporting Bloomberg if Trump was the nominee, Bush said it was “not going to happen.”
The controversial liberal mayor has spent millions of dollars promoting gun control, and has proposed many nanny state provisions in New York City, such as banning sodas over 16 ounces, reducing sodium levels in food, banning trans-fats, and even to ban loud headphones.
Bush served as a Bloomberg Family Foundation director from March 2010 to 2014, an organization that worked with liberal groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club.
In 2015, Bloomberg praised Bush as one of the candidates he thought would best lead the country as president.
“Hillary and Jeb are the only two who know how to make the trains run,” Bloomberg said, after receiving honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
Leading members of Congress are ripping IRS officials for erasing a computer hard drive after a federal judge ordered it to be preserved.
“The destruction of evidence subject to preservation orders and subpoenas has been an ongoing problem under your leadership at the IRS,” Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Rep. Jim Jordan , wrote in a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen late Thursday.
“It is stunning to see that the IRS does not take reasonable care to preserve documents that it is legally required to protect,” Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and Jordan, an Ohio Republican, said in the letter to Koskinen.
The IRS recently admitted in court to erasing the hard drive even though a federal judge had issued a preservation related to a Microsoft Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal tax agency last year, according to court documents. Microsoft accuses the IRS of inappropriately hiring an outside law firm to audit it and of failing to hand over related documents requested under the FOIA.
Chaffetz and other members of the oversight panel began calling for Koskinen’s impeachment in October. Chaffetz and Jordan in their letter point out that the IRS in March 2014 also destroyed 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails sent or received by Lois Lerner, former director of IRS’ Exempt Organizations Division.
Lerner was the central figure in the scandal sparked by the tax agency’s illegal targeting and harassment of conservative and Tea Party non-profit applicants during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.
Samuel Maruca, owner of the hard drive in question and a former senior IRS executive, participated in the IRS hiring of the outside law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP allegedly to investigate Microsoft. Maruca left the IRS in August 2014, according to court documents.
Chaffetz and Jordan told Koskinen to hand over all documents on IRS preservation policies and all documents related to the destruction of Lerner and Maruca’s hard drives.
UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, is reconsidering its participation in the Obamacare exchanges after reporting near billion losses.
According to figures published at Fortune, UnitedHealth will lose $100 million dollars more than it projected in its financial forecasts for the 2016 Affordable Care Act enrollment numbers. Previous estimates were in the $400 million range, now rising past $500 million.
What’s worse, last year, the company reported $720 million in losses thanks to Obamacare and that number is expected to soar past $745 million in the next year.
“By mid-2016 we will determine to what extent, if any, we will continue to offer products in the exchange market in 2017,” said UnitedHealth President Dave Wichmann.
Wichmann said his company is slowing marketing efforts, withdrawing certain products, and also increasing prices in hopes to offset some of the lost revenue. But as is noted in Fortune’s report, enrollment continues to rise despite these efforts,
Fortune also points out that UnitedHealth can boast $180 billion in total revenue currently, meaning the losses are just “a small fraction of UnitedHealth’s total business.” And currently, the company’s stock prices are up, perhaps indicating that investors aren’t too worried.
While this might not have as big an impact on a giant corporation, it is yet another example highlighting Obama’s “like your doctor, keep your doctor” lie as health care providers continue to pass on losses to their customers.
What a vile woman.
“We come in and we take this land and we always take it for less than it is worth.” (Park Service Employee at Mary Martin’s retirement from the Mojave Preserve.) The dinner was a public event . In this clip, the woman brags about how they wrestled a $40 million mine located in the park for $2.5 million dollars from two “little guys that had been in the 2nd World War” (their words, not mine). She continues, “which I stole the money from Washington to acquire it. ” FYI – The 111,000+ acres referred to on the white board do not include the land that was taken away from the ranchers.
The Obama administration on Thursday eased visa rules for certain European travelers who have visited terror hotspots in the Middle East and Africa, a move certain to rile congressional lawmakers who sought the restrictions.
The revised requirements announced Thursday pertain to changes in the Visa Waiver Program passed by Congress. Lawmakers had sought new restrictions to tighten up the program – which allows visa-free travel for residents of eligible countries – in order to prevent Europeans who have joined ISIS from entering the U.S.
The administration implemented the changes Thursday – but with some changes of its own.
As called for by The Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, the administration is mostly excluding nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan as well as travelers who have visited the countries since Mar. 1, 2011 from the program. Instead, they’ll have to apply for a visa in order to travel to the United States.
But under the revised requirements, some Europeans who have traveled to those four countries in the last five years may still be allowed to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa if they meet certain criteria.
The administration announced Thursday that it will use its waiver authority – granted to it in the legislation – to give waivers to travelers who traveled to the terror hotspots as journalists, for work with humanitarian agencies or on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations and sub-national governments on official duty.
Likely to cause ire among congressional Republicans is an additional waiver for people who have traveled to Iran “for legitimate business-related purposes” since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal in July. The administration also offers waivers for individuals who have traveled to Iraq for business as well.
Citizens of 38 countries, mostly in Europe, are generally allowed to travel to the United States without applying for a visa. But they still have to submit biographical information to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA.
The Homeland Security Department said waivers for some ESTA applicants will be granted on a “case-by-case” basis. Those travelers who are denied visa-free travel can still apply for visa through a U.S. embassy in their home country.
Republicans reacted angrily to the waivers, saying the Obama administration had exploited the limited authority and has compromised national security.
“President Obama and his administration’s decision to abuse their limited waiver authority and allow scores of people who have traveled to or are dual nationals of countries like Iraq and Syria flies in the face of reason and congressional intent,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement.
“The Obama Administration is essentially rewriting the law by blowing wide open a small window of discretion that Congress gave it for law enforcement and national security reasons,” Goodlatte said.
The new restrictions had previously been criticized by the Iranian government that the U.S. is violating the nuclear deal by penalizing legitimate business travel to the country.
From the UK Guardian:
Donald Trump has been roundly denounced by MPs from all parties in a debate in the British parliament. But most of those MPs who spoke were critical of the call in a petition signed by 575,000 people for Trump to be banned from the UK because of his proposal for Muslims to be prevented from entering the US and the debate, which took place in an annex outside the main Commons chamber, ended without a vote. One of the functions of a parliament is to allow a nation to let off steam and effectively that is what happened this afternoon.
And with that little snippet, please allow me – an American – to spout off to this miserable pack of limey ASSHOLES for a moment.
Look here, it’s one thing for a U.S. citizen to criticize, mock and even damn one of his own, but when a bunch of pasty-faced, neo-socialist politicians from another country decide to spend the afternoon repeatedly labeling the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination every variety of bigot known to humanity, that’s where I draw the line!
To put it in terms that everyone on both sides of the pond can understand, FUCK YOU!
In the first place, The Donald ISN’T a bigot. He may be a loud, obnoxious prick at times, but he’s always been an equal opportunity prick in my estimation, so every time somebody in the Jurassic media accuses him of trashing women or Hispanic illegals, understand that they are intentionally leaving out the fact that he has trashed far more men and Caucasian citizens over the years.
As for his position on banning Muslim migrants from our shores, keep in mind that he is only talking about what he intends to do in the short-term, and his main concern is with people who hail from a country in the Middle East that is currently embroiled in a civil war and whose various factions are ALL hostile to the west. In fact, he probably wouldn’t have even brought up the subject if our lunatic president hadn’t promised to force thousands of these unvettable people upon our society despite opposition from the vast majority of Americans.
Sure, Trump says dopey, unrealistic shit every once in a while. So what? The smoothest politicians say dopey, unrealistic shit too, only they’re more practiced at sounding reasonable when they do it, and in the final analysis, they’ve generally been far less successful at getting things done over the years than The Donald has.
But whatever your opinion on the matter, that’s an argument for we, the people of the United States of America to have, isn’t it? What it definitely is NOT is a subject for the men and women of Parliament to discuss in their capacity as representatives of the BRITISH people!
In case you self-loathing, dhimmi bastards hadn’t noticed, Donald Trump isn’t a citizen of your rapidly declining nation. He’s a citizen of OUR rapidly declining nation, so mind your own business, you incessant whiners, and try expending your energies on saving YOUR country from the growing threat of Islam instead of pissing on everyone in the world who happens to recognize just how completely buggered your leftist opinions are!
By the way, I’m an American of both Irish and English lineage, but today I consider myself completely Irish. I, hereby, disassociate myself from my English heritage, because if England is a country where its leaders don’t have the balls to stand up for the fundamental right of all people to speak their minds plainly and openly without fear of reprisal, then England is a fascist, pussy nation.
In fact, I ban MYSELF from Great Britain!
Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, more than half of them in the U.S. and another big chunk in its challenging Brazilian market.
The stores being shuttered account for a fraction of the company’s 11,000 stores worldwide and less than 1 percent of its global revenue.
More than 95 percent of the stores set to be closed in the U.S. are within 10 miles of another Wal-Mart. The Bentonville, Arkansas, company said it is working to ensure that workers are placed in nearby locations.
The store closures will start at the end of the month.
The announcement comes three months after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Doug McMillon told investors that the world’s largest retailer would review its fleet of stores with the goal of becoming more nimble in the face of increased competition from all fronts, including from online rival Amazon.com.
“Actively managing our portfolio of assets is essential to maintaining a healthy business,” McMillon said in a statement. “Closing stores is never an easy decision. But it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future.”
Wal-Mart operates 4,500 in the U.S. Its global workforce is 2.2 million, 1.4 million in the U.S. alone.
Wal-Mart has warned that its earnings for the fiscal year starting next month will be down as much as 12 percent as it invests further in online operations and pours money into improving customers’ experience.
Of the closures announced Friday, 154 locations will be in the U.S., including the company’s 102 smallest-format stores called Wal-Mart Express, which were opened as a test in 2011.
Wal-Mart Express marked the retailer’s first entry into the convenience store arena. The stores are about 12,000 square feet and sell essentials like toothpaste. But the concept never caught on as the stores served the same purpose as Wal-Mart’s larger Neighborhood Markets: fill-in trips and prescription pickups.
Also covered in the closures are 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount stores and four Sam’s Clubs.
Wal-Mart will now focus in the U.S. on supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, the e-commerce business and pickup services for shoppers.
The retailer is closing 60 loss-making locations in Brazil, which account for 5 percent of sales in that market. Wal-Mart, which operated 558 stores in Brazil before the closures, has struggled as the economy there has soured. Its Every Day Low price strategy has also not been able to break against heavy promotions from key rivals.
The remaining 55 stores are spread elsewhere in Latin America.
Wal-Mart said that it’s still sticking to its plan announced last year to open 50 to 60 supercenters, 85 to 95 Neighborhood Markets and 7 to 10 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. during the fiscal year that begins Feb. 1. Outside the U.S., Wal-Mart plans to open 200 to 240 stores.
The financial impact of the closures is expected to be 20 cents to 22 cents per diluted earnings per share from continuing operations with about 19 cents to 20 cents expected to affect the current fourth quarter. The company is expected to release fourth quarter and full year results on Feb. 18.
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell $1.12, or 1.7 percent, to 61.94 in morning trading.
Energy: There’s no shortage of points to pick apart in the president’s final State of the Union, as we’ve done above. But one deserves close scrutiny: Obama’s claim that he “reinvented our energy sector.”
In the middle of a lengthy section of a speech spent patting himself on the back, Obama talked about how successful his energy policies have been.
“Listen,” he said, “seven years ago we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history.” Then he went on to list “the results”:
Wind power is cheaper, solar panels are a fixture on more rooftops, oil imports dropped by almost 60% and “we cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.” And then he added, to self-satisfied chuckles on the Democratic side of the aisle: “Gas under 2 bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.”
But up until very recently, Obama was telling the country that low gas prices were an impossibility. “We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices,” was his mantra for years. He was emphatic about it.
“Anyone who says we can drill our way out of this problem does not know what they are talking about, or does not know the truth,” he said at a 2012 event in New Hampshire.
The reason, he said, was that we use 25% of the world’s energy but have just 3% of the oil reserves. So the only solution was mandatory conservation and spending billions on the “energy of the future.”
Turns out it was Obama who didn’t know what he was talking about. We did, in fact, “drill our way” to lower gas prices. Thanks to fracking, oil companies are now able to produce vast amounts of previously unrecoverable oil.
In the past seven years, domestic oil production shot up a stunning 77%, according to the Energy Information Administration, making the U.S. the biggest oil producer in the world.
That’s why gas prices are low today. And why oil imports have dropped so sharply. And none of it had anything to do with Obama, who tried to hamper oil production whenever he could – blocking Keystone, restrictions on federal lands, EPA attempts to hinder fracking.
Indeed, moments after bragging about low energy prices, Obama said he’d push to raise them, “to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
Fracking is also why we’ve cut carbon emissions, because it sharply lowered the price of natural gas, which in turn let power plants switch from carbon-heavy coal to low-carbon gas.
Yes, Obama did pour billions of dollars into wind and solar subsidies, and various state governments added still more to sweeten the pot. And what did the country get for all that money?
Solar and wind still account for just 24% of renewable energy supplies and a tiny 2% of total energy production, government data show.
And, incredibly, more than half of the gains in solar and wind under Obama were offset by declines in hydroelectric power — a clean, renewable energy source that environmentalists happen to detest.
So after spending billions subsidizing solar and wind, the share of our energy that comes from renewables is the same as it was when Obama took office.
Exactly the same.
The U.S. has a bright energy future despite Obama, not because of him.
REPUBLICAN PARTY BUSTED –
The Grand Old Party promised amnesty in their Spanish version of the State of the Union response.
And they thought they’d get away with it.
Conservative Treehouse reported:
There is a bigger controversy about to break wide-open that’s potentially far more significant than Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell approving Nikki Haley’s non-subtle attack on GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. That bigger controversy is the Spanish version of the GOP State of the Union rebuttal containing an “amnesty pledge“.
Governor Haley gave the English version, Miami Representative and party-insider Mario Diaz-Barlat delivered it in Spanish. Here’s a (paragraph by paragraph) comparison as translated by the Miami Herald (emphasis mine):
English (Via Haley): No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
Spanish (Via Diaz-Barlat): No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love the United States should ever feel unwelcome in this country. It’s not who we are.
English: At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.
Spanish: At the same time, it’s obvious that our immigration system needs to be reformed. The current system puts our national security at risk and is an obstacle for our economy.
English: We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
Spanish: It’s essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and human solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.
We wrote here, here and elsewhere about the mass sexual assaults that occurred across Germany, often in conjunction with robberies of young women, on New Year’s eve. All or substantially all of the assaults were committed by Islamic immigrants, in many instances just-admitted “refugees.” It is hard to say which is more appalling, the mass sexual assaults or the efforts by Germany’s officials at all levels to cover them up.
The same thing has happened across much of Europe. This report, from the Associated Press, relates to Sweden:
Swedish police faced allegations of a cover-up Monday for failing to inform the public of widespread sexual assaults against teenage girls at a music festival last summer.
Police hadn’t mentioned the August incidents at the “We are Sthlm” festival until newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported on them this weekend following a string of sexual assaults and robberies on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany.
Stockholm police spokesman Varg Gyllander confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday there was “a large number” of sexual assaults during the five-day festival and that scores of suspects were detained.
He said police should have reported on the incidents at the time “given the nature of the crime.”
It is really extraordinary: there were “widespread sexual assaults against teenage girls” last summer, but the Swedish press made a conscious decision to kill the story.
Gyllander couldn’t confirm the ethnicity of the alleged attackers in Stockholm but said “this involves young men who are not from Sweden.”
Roger Ticoalu, who heads the city government’s events department, told the AP that a “large part” of those detained were from Afghanistan, many carrying temporary ID-cards issued to asylum-seekers.
He said about 20 teenage girls filed complaints of sexual assault and that about 200 suspects were detained and ejected from the festival for sexual assault and other offenses. It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of them were arrested and charged.
In Sweden as in Germany, these assaults were planned and coordinated by a considerable number of young Muslim men. Why did Sweden’s news media keep the assaults secret until now?
Dagens Nyheter cited police officials saying Swedish police are reluctant to speak publicly about crimes linked to migrants for fear of playing into the hands of the far-right Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party whose support has surged to about 20 percent in opinion polls.
Sure: it’s better that Sweden’s young women be sexually assaulted than to allow “far-right” parties to be proven correct. (In Europe, “far right” means “not crazy about mass immigration from non-Western countries.”) This is the same mentality that led to the cover-up in Germany.
What I find inexplicable is the European liberals’ lack of concern for the young women who have been violated. In their political calculations, the women do not appear to figure at all. It’s almost like they were all Kennedys or Clintons.
Earlier today, Glenn Reynolds reported on an awful story from the United States that is quite different from the incidents in Germany, Sweden, etc., but raises some of the same issues. An 18-year-old girl was in a Brooklyn park with her father. They were approached by five African-American men who drove off the father by pointing a gun at him. By the time he could summon help, all five had raped his daughter. One could respond to this story in a number of ways, but one possibility is: the father should have been armed. Glenn comments:
Too bad he didn’t have a gun – but the New York authorities would have treated him worse than they’ll probably treat these rapists. Because they don’t really care what happens to citizens, but violating gun laws is a threat to their authority.
Interesting point: as in Europe, New York’s political class doesn’t really care what happens to citizens. It’s all about their power. In Europe, that power is threatened by “far right” parties that speak for the people on the issue of immigration. The “far right” parties’ concerns are obviously valid, which is why the authorities, in conjunction with Europe’s captive press, deliberately suppress news that conflicts with the official left-wing narrative. Things are better here, but only a little.
Bernie Sanders and his wife have on numerous occasions steered money from organizations under their control to friends and family members, public records show.
The payments benefitted the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate, his stepdaughter, and the son of a former colleague in city government whom Sanders has described as a close friend.
Sanders, a self-described socialist, is now running for the presidency on an anti-corruption platform, decrying public officials’ attempts to use their positions for personal financial gain.
Following 16 years as a member of the House, Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006. His political campaigns were an early vehicle for payments to his family members.
According to Jane O’Meara Sanders, the senator’s wife, Sanders’ House campaigns paid her more than $90,000 for consulting and ad placement services from 2002 to 2004. She pocketed about $30,000 of that money.
Her daughter Carina Driscoll, Sanders’ stepdaughter, also drew a salary from the campaign. She was paid more than $65,000 between 2000 and 2004, according to her mother.
After working for the campaign, the senator’s wife would come under scrutiny for expenditures at Burlington College, where she was hired as president in 2004. While she led the school, it paid six-figure sums to her daughter and the son of a family friend.
Burlington College offered its students a study abroad program in the Caribbean, according to tax filings. It reported spending about $47,000 on that program in the tax year beginning in mid-2008.
Around that time, the son of Jonathan Leopold, a Burlington College board member, purchased a small resort in the Bahamas called Andro’s Beach Club and an accompanying hotel, Nathan’s Lodge.
Leopold served with Sanders in the Burlington city government – as mayor, Sanders appointed Leopold city treasurer – before becoming embroiled in scandal involving millions of dollars in payments to a Burlington telecommunications company.
Sen. Sanders has described Leopold as so close a friend as to be considered “family.” He reportedly discouraged Sanders’ socialist impulses early in their careers. Efforts to reach Leopold were unsuccessful.
Shortly after Leopold’s son, also named Jonathan, purchased the resort, Burlington College began writing it large checks for all-inclusive stays for its study abroad students.
The younger Leopold later said during a deposition related to a lawsuit filed by a student who was injured at the rest that he conducted boat tours and snorkeling trips “on behalf of Burlington College.”
From 2009 through 2011, when O’Meara Sanders stepped down as president of the school, it paid the resort about $68,000, according to annual tax filings. The payments stopped the year after she left the position.
Her departure was a source of controversy. She reportedly overstated pledged contributions to the school in order to secure a loan from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The diocese lost between $1.5 million and $2 million on the deal, according to local reports.
By that time, the school had paid huge sums to the Vermont Woodworking School, which is run by Driscoll. The college eventually paid the school more than $500,000 for classes at its Fairfax, Vt., campus, about 30 miles from Burlington.
Burlington College even established a Master of Fine Arts program in woodworking with leased space at the school as its major facility.
Tax filings show that the college continued paying the woodworking school in the year after O’Meara Sanders left, but stopped doing so the year after that.
The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The builder of the Keystone XL oil pipeline company is suing the Obama administration in federal court over its refusal to approve the project.
TransCanada, which proposed the pipeline project to connect Canada’s oil sands in Alberta with U.S. refiners on the Gulf Coast, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court in Houston, “asserting that the president’s decision to deny construction of Keystone XL exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution,” according to the company.
The administration squashed the project after a record seven years of review, saying the project would increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen climate change.
“TransCanada’s legal actions challenge the foundation of the U.S. administration’s decision to deny a presidential border crossing permit for the project,” the company says. “In its decision, the U.S. State Department acknowledged the denial was not based on the merits of the project. Rather, it was a symbolic gesture based on speculation about the perceptions of the international community regarding the administration’s leadership on climate change and the president’s assertion of unprecedented, independent powers.”
The company says as a result of the U.S. permit denial, it is reviewing the total sunk cost in the project at $3.1 billion. It is also making a separate claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement to recoup $15 billion in “costs and damages that it has suffered as a result of the U.S. administration’s breach of its… obligations” under the agreement.