Initial claims for unemployment benefits came in at 350,000 for last week--a 12,000 drop from the week before. This indicates a strengthening labor market and represents the lowest weekly figure since 2008. The number is down 8.9 percent from one year ago. Nineteen states sent in estimated data because the holiday affected data collection, so the figure may be revised upward next week. The four-week moving average, which helps smooth out inconsistencies in data collection was 356,750, down from last week’s figure of 368,000.
Norman Schwarzkopf's Rule System: "Rule 13 says, okay, I've got it. When placed in command, I take charge. But what do I do? The answer is Rule 14: Do what's right. Because we all know, all of us know, basically, when placed in those circumstances, what the moral, what the ethical, what the correct thing to do is. We all know it. So, the true modern leader of today is the one that's, number one, willing to take charge, and willing to do what's right. That's the secret of leadership."
Retired U.S. general Norman Schwarzkopf died Thursday in Tampa at age 78. Known as “Stormin’ Norman,” Schwarzkopf was the commander in chief of the U.S. central command in the five-week Persian Gulf War in 1991 and was regaled for freeing Kuwait from its Iraqi occupiers. In the aftermath, Schwarzkopf was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush, and Queen Elizabeth II made him an honorary knight. He overcame prostate cancer almost 20 years ago, and he died Thursday from complications from pneumonia.
Old official photographs show a medaled military mannequin, a 6-foot-3-inch 240-pounder with grim determined eyes. But they miss the gentler man who listened to Pavarotti, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan; who loved hunting, fishing and ballet; and, like any soldier, called home twice a week from the war zone.
Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. was born on Aug. 22, 1934, in Trenton, one of three children of the man whose name he shared and the former Ruth Bowman. At 18, he dropped the Jr. and his first name but kept the initial. His father, New Jersey’s first state police superintendent, investigated the 1932 Lindbergh kidnapping; he was also a West Point graduate, fought in World Wars I and II, became a major general and trained Iran’s national police in the 1940s.
As a boy, General Schwarzkopf attended Bordentown Military Institute near Trenton. But from 1946 to 1950 he lived in Iran, Switzerland, Germany and Italy with his father. Fluent in French and German at 17, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa., played football and was a champion debater.
At West Point, he was on the football and wrestling teams and sang in the choir. He loved history and dreamed of leading men in battle. “He saw himself as Alexander the Great,” recalled Gen. Leroy Suddath, his old roommate, “and we didn’t laugh when he said it.” In 1956, he graduated 43rd in a class of 480.
On Jan. 17, 1991, a five-month buildup called Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm as allied aircraft attacked Iraqi bases and Baghdad government facilities. The six-week aerial campaign climaxed with a massive ground offensive, routing the Iraqis from Kuwait in 100 hours before U.S. officials called a halt.
While Schwarzkopf later avoided the public second-guessing by academics and think tank experts over the ambiguous outcome of the first Gulf War and its impact on the second Gulf War, he told The Washington Post in 2003, "You can't help but ... with 20/20 hindsight, go back and say, `Look, had we done something different, we probably wouldn't be facing what we are facing today.'"
Schwarzkopf is survived by his wife, Brenda, and their three children: Cynthia, Jessica and Christian.
Hundreds of homeowners and condo associations are foreclosing on banks that have failed to pay dues and other expenses on the properties they've repossessed.
When banks foreclose on a home they become responsible for paying fees to the homeowners association -- both any unpaid fees going back as far as 12 months and all expenses going forward.
In many cases, however, banks are failing to pay, leaving these associations short on cash, according to Miami-based attorney Ben Solomon.
But now, homeowners groups are putting liens on the properties until banks pay up and foreclosing on them if they don't.
View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.
A bastion of the contemporary Occupy movement is no more. A foreclosed house dubbed Fort Hernandez was cleared out by sheriff's deputies early this morning, observers report.
The eviction after a four-month sit-in at the Hernandez family home in Van Nuys was reported about 4:30 a.m. The eviction of 18 people, including four to six family members and 12 occupiers, and 5 dogs went smoothly, with no arrests or injuries.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department carried out the eviction with armored vehicles and nearly 100 police personnel.
Dump trucks were brought in to break down the encampment.
“They were living in tents and hadn’t paid the mortgage for about 4 years,” according to L.A. Co. Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Occupiers fed up with big-bank foreclosures, particularly in light of the federal bailout in 2008, upheld Fort Hernandez as a symbol since late August.
They say there are more empty homes in the same Van Nuys neighborhood than there are homeless.
A Bank of America spokesperson said, “We have made multiple attempts to offer Mr. Hernandez assistance since he stopped making payments in 2008. Prior to foreclosure, we requested financial documents over a 6-month period, but Mr. Hernandez never submitted the necessary documentation for us to complete our review.”
Hernandez said his only hope is to fight the bank in court.
A homeless woman in her 60s was set on fire as she slept on a street bench outside of a Walgreens Drug Store in Van Nuys, California early Thursday morning. Witnesses reported seeing a man pour something on the woman, then lighting a match before he fled the scene.
"It was like when you pour gasoline on something -- like an explosion," said witness Erickson Ipina, who added that he often saw the homeless woman in the neighborhood.
The man purchased the bottle containing alcohol in the Walgreens store, then poured the contents on the woman, Ipina told a Newsreel photographer. Ipina said he called 911 and followed the attacker, who brandished a knife.
"He told me, 'Stop following me, or I will cut you,'" Ipina said. "I kept following him and then the police came."
The homeless woman, whose identity is not known at this time, has been hospitalized in critical condition. Police have one person in custody at this time.
Attacks such as this on the homeless are not uncommon, sadly. In the past week alone, a 55-year-old man was also set on fire as he slept outside a donut shop in southern Los Angeles County.
2010 was the “deadliest in a decade,” according to the National Coalition for the Homeless in its latest report on hate crimes against homeless people.
Forty-three homeless people died from acts of violence committed against them by housed individuals who were biased against them and/or found them a conveniently vulnerable target for aggression.
After a New York newspaper, the Journal News, published an interactive database of all the gun-permit holders in the region, an angered blogger retaliated by posting the names and addresses of almost every employee of the publication. Christopher Fountain said he was offended by the paper’s “conflating legal gun owners with some crazed tormented devil up in Newtown,” and “wondered how they would like it if their addresses were published.” The spark that lit the powder keg: emails he said he received from “abused women who were under protective order and in hiding” who said they feared for their safety after their information was posted on the Journal News database.
Christopher Fountain has spent the last three days posting the names and addresses of nearly every Journal News employee from Publisher on down.
In fact, as Talk of the Sound's Robert Cox noted after plugging the staffers' contact info into an interactive map of his own that some of the people listed by Fountain may no longer be at the paper due to several years of downsizing.
Asked today on CNN to justify his retribution, Fountain said he was offended by the paper's "conflating legal gun owners with some crazed tormented devil up in Newtown," and "wondered how they would like it if their addresses were published."
My grandmother always told me that "Two wrongs never make a right," and that's all I can think of to add to this debacle.
Via Democracy Now!:
The last of the funerals have been held for the 27 victims of the Newtown massacre, the worst grade school shooting in U.S. history. On Friday, mourners held a moment of silence at the Newtown memorial site and across the country to mark the first week since the 20 children and seven adults were killed. On Christmas Day, visitors from neighboring areas flocked to Newtown’s memorial site to honor the dead.
Sandra Johnson: "Because it was Christmas and as a parent I just couldn’t move on celebrating unless we came and, you know, respect these kids and the adults. It touched everybody’s hearts. So I just couldn’t move forward. I came in this morning, early, you know, and just saying a prayer."
Jesus Carrion: "We wanted to contribute and bring some teddy bears for the families, you know, of these kids and the teachers who are not here today because of some tragic moment. And so we just wanted to come down and show support for the families — obviously that will be never be the same again, whose holidays will never be."
I know that the children, the teachers and families of Newton haven't been far from my own thoughts this holiday season. Did any of you feel moved to do something, say a prayer, send good thoughts, a moment of silence or anything else?
Harry Reid went on the offensive today against John Boehner:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this morning that it "looks like" Congress will fail to come to a deal to avert the year-end fiscal cliff, blaming the failure on House Speaker John Boehner's "dictatorship" running the lower chamber.
"It looks like that's where we're headed," Reid said. "I don't know, time-wise, how it can happen now."
It's not exactly a surprise — leaders left Washington last week without any imminent signs of a deal in the making. But it's a grim warning just days before tax hikes and automatic spending cuts begin to take effect.
Reid opened the Senate session by launching into a lengthy criticism of the House and Boehner, saying he "seems to care more about his Speakership" than making a deal on the cliff.
The House is being run "by a dictatorship of the Speaker," Reid said. He accused Boehner of waiting until the election of the Speaker on Jan. 3 to get involved with negotiations. And he urged the lower chamber to pass the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which the Senate narrowly passed in July. The bill made permanent all of the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes of less than $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals.
Reid also slammed the House for not being in session on Thursday. He said that instead of being in Washington, Republicans are "out watching movies."
Meanwhile, President Obama cut his vacation to Hawaii short and returned to Washington on Wednesday, in an effort to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff. Only five days remain before the automatic spending cuts and tax increases are scheduled to take effect. Obama left for Hawaii on Friday after weeks of unsuccessful negotiations, but said he would return to the Capitol this week in an effort to get Republicans to agree to a stopgap measure or obtain a broader deal. Congress returns to D.C. on Thursday, but no talks are scheduled and there was no virtually no communication between the White House and Republicans over the holiday weekend.
As it turns out, House Republicans don't have plans to return:
"According to House Republican leadership aides, House GOP leaders have not yet called their members back to Washington D.C., and WILL NOT be in session tomorrow for legislative business. According to one GOP aide, "It's up to Senate Democrats to act right now."
On November 30th last year around 300 protesters were arrested at the Los Angeles City Hall after being camped out in the vicinity for over two months. An estimated 1,400 police officers showed up and blazed through the encampment in what protesters are now calling a "shock and awe" attack on their rights. The movement activists have now filed a class action lawsuit for the arrests and the protesters' treatment while in custody. RT's Ramon Galindo brings the latest from Los Angeles.