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Record Debt Looms Over All Aspects of the American Economy
Jun 1st, 2016
Commentary
PNW
Categories: Contemporary Issues

American debt in various forms has reached levels that some economists consider alarming, and the figures point to a potentially rocky path ahead for the U.S. economy.
A mending financial situation and a sturdy U.S. dollar relative to those of other countries have spurred furious growth of debt in general, at a pace not seen in decades. Yet the United States lacks the underlying economic framework to make such balances viable.

"The long-term outlook for the federal budget has worsened dramatically over the past several years, in the wake of the 2007-2009 recession and slow recovery," reads a recent outlook from the Congressional Budget Office. 

"Between 2008 and 2012, financial turmoil and a severe drop in economic activity, combined with various policies implemented in response to those conditions, sharply reduced federal revenues and increased spending."

The United States' national debt, the highest-profile of the forms in question and the one underlying the woeful economic prognosis, has nearly doubled to $19.4 trillion since the 2008 crisis. It was that same global crash which pushed the federal government to increase spending, with a stimulatory effect intended.

As part of the U.S. government's recovery plan, the Federal Reserve Bank also dropped interest rates to just above zero, where they have remained for the past eight years.

Credit card companies and other lenders leapt upon the opportunity as soon as it presented itself, ramping up their marketing efforts aimed at American consumers and implementing more aggressive interest rates of their own.

As a result, American credit card debt is on track to break the $1 trillion barrier in 2016. For comparison, that figure has only been higher once in the nation's history, at $1.02 trillion immediately before crisis struck in 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We'll continue to take this opportunity as far as it will take us," said Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank during a recent investors' conference call.

As it stands, however, that may not be too much farther. And that is because outstanding credit card debt is not the only thing 2016 has in common with 2008.

Enticed by the Fed's soft money policy, loan providers have been opening their services to people they otherwise would not have, especially at a time when many economists are arguing that lenders should really be tightening their belts

The trend is most apparent in the student loan space, where total outstanding debt has surpassed $870 billion. That figure is up 2.1 percent from $852 billion at the end of 2011 and according to the Wall Street Journal, 2016 college graduates are leaving college today with an average debt of $37,172.

It's no wonder that for the first time on record, living with parents is now the most common arrangement for people ages 18 to 34, an analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center has found.

And the proportion of older millennials -- those ages 25 to 34 -- who are living at home has reached its highest point (19 percent) on record, Pew analysts said.

This all leads to Millennials also putting off other important life choices that stimulate economic growth such as buying cars, houses, getting married, having kids and other activities that used to be the norm for the majority of Americans.

Along with that goes a later and later average age for marrying and having kids, further stalling the birth rate which has already fallen sharply below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple.  If it were not for the high immigration rate, we would already have a population in decline similar to much of Europe.

Auto loan providers, mortgage companies and other lenders have also fallen into the trend.

The bottom line? General-purpose lenders have approved applications from more than 10.6 million subprime borrowers, also the highest number since the financial crisis, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That alone has many experts worried, but another issue is the fact that the cycle is self-perpetuating. Lenders have little incentive to implement increased, customer-frightening interest rates while the Fed maintains its policy of quantitative easing.

But with the government's own spending also at an all-time high, the Fed cannot realistically lift its rock-bottom rates and hope to continue promoting U.S. economic recovery at the same time.

And so it falls to the general public to fix the situation through smart spending of their own. But while the proletariat are notoriously bad at budgeting, one company's innovative product looks to change the norm.

Intelligent Environments' Pavlok is a wristwatch which doubles as a budget tracker. The catch? The device is linked to wearers' bank accounts and charged to give the user an electric shock when it detects unwise spending.

Far too many are accustomed to ignoring their conscience to the point of becoming desensitized, so even such a novel idea may not be enough to quell the troubled waters, economists say. Only time will tellno pun intended.

Let the Headlines Speak
Jun 1st, 2016
Daily News
From the Internet - R.R.N.
Categories: Today's Headlines

Putin Creates New ‘Young Army’ That Draws Comparison To Nazi Germany’s Hitler Youth
The first 104 schoolchildren joined the revived Soviet military-patriotic movement ‘Yunarmiya’ – or Young Army – in the city of Yaroslavl, the first cadets on a scheme that will be rolled out across the country in September.  

Taking defense post, Liberman says Israeli unity trumps holding land
Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday declared that Israeli national unity is more important than territory, as he vowed to prevent unnecessary future conflicts and end ongoing “wars of attrition.”  

6-6-16: Satanists In Los Angeles Will Construct A Giant Pentagram To ‘Raise Awareness’ For Satanism
On June 6th, a group from the Satanic Temple in Los Angeles will use GPS technology to construct a giant pentagram around the city of Lancaster, which is located in northern Los Angeles County. The goal is to “raise awareness” for Satanism, and it looks like this event has already accomplished that goal. Of course this particular date was chosen because it corresponds closely to “666” and the Mark of the Beast....  

Russia: Temporary ceasefire introduced for 48 hours in Damascus suburb of Daraya
The Russian defense ministry said on Wednesday that a temporary ceasefire, which it called a regime of calm, had been introduced from June 1 for 48 hours in Syria's Damascus suburb of Daraya.  

US ‘provocations’ may force China to declare air defense zone in S. China Sea – report
Beijing is reportedly planning to launch an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea, the timing of which will depend on US “provocations.” Billions of dollars of trade passes annually through the area, which is subject to rival claims.  

Mysterious Hemorrhagic Fever Outbreak Stumps Disease Detectives
...So far, there have been 51 cases — including 10 deaths — from an unknown disease in the northern part of South Sudan. The main symptoms of the disease are similar to those seen with Ebola: unexplained bleeding, fever, fatigue, headache and vomiting. But the culprit definitely isn't Ebola. First, the symptoms "rapidly resolve following supportive treatment," WHO said.  

Moderate earthquake rocks Alaska Peninsula
The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 and was at a depth of 23 miles. The epicenter was 81 miles east of Sand Point.  

4.9 magnitude earthquake shakes Surigao del Sur
A magnitude 4.9 earthquake struck Surigao del Sur province on May 31, 2016, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. The quake was tectonic in origin and had a depth of 30 kilometers, Phivolcs said.  

Earthquake measuring 6.1 shakes parts of Taiwan, including capital
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 shook parts of Taiwan on Tuesday and was felt in the capital, Taipei, residents and officials said, but there were no immediate reports of damage.  

Amid deadly floods, Texas' Brazos River crests at record 54 feet
Residents of some rural southeastern Texas counties were bracing for more flooding Tuesday along a river that had reached a record-high crest just two years after it had run dry in places because of drought. The National Weather Service said the Brazos River crested at nearly 54 feet Tuesday in Fort Bend County, which is just southwest of Houston and home to many suburbs.  

India hospital transfusions infect thousands with HIV
At least 2,234 Indians have contracted HIV while receiving blood transfusions in hospitals in the past 17 months alone, say officials. The information was revealed by the country's National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) in response to a petition filed by information activist Chetan Kothari. Mr Khothari told the BBC that he was "shocked" by the revelation.  

Syria conflict: US-backed fighters 'advance on IS-held Manbij'
US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters have opened up a new front against so-called Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria, close to the Turkish border. The offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is reported to be directed at Manbij, a town under IS control. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said US-led pre-dawn air strikes on Manbij killed 15 civilians.  

Venezuela: OAS head calls emergency meeting over crisis
Venezuela's government came under renewed pressure on Tuesday when regional body Organization of American States called for an emergency meeting. OAS head Luis Almagro wants members to evaluate whether Venezuela has suffered an "unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order". Venezuelan opposition politicians had urged the OAS to call the meeting.  

Abbas: PA open to talks with Liberman, if he 'truly supports' 2-state solution
The PA issued first remarks on Netanyahu's Wednesday affirmation that he is ready to hold peace talks based on a revised version of the 2002 Arab peace initiative. Israel must recognize a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders for any negotiations to move forward, the Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday.  

Report: Israeli decree calls on Wakf to end 'damaging' Temple Mount construction
An Israeli government order issued Tuesday called on the Wakf trust that oversees Islamic holy sites to halt construction work on the Temple Mount that is damaging valuable ancient artifacts found in the area... According to the report, the decree cites Israel Antiquities Authority warnings that the Wakf's building structures and activities along the perimeter wall of the contested holy compound are destructive.  

State Department Issues New Travel Alert for Europe
The State Department on Tuesday warned Americans traveling to Europe about risk of terror attacks over the summer. "The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events," the State Department said in a travel advisory.  

Death toll from Russian air strikes in Idlib climbs to 23: monitor
At least 23 people were killed in Russian air strikes overnight in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib, the heaviest bombardment there since a cessation of hostilities was agreed in February, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.  

First baby born with Zika-linked microcephaly in New York tri-state area
Doctors at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey confirmed Tuesday the birth of a child suffering from Zika-linked microcephaly, a condition wherein the child's brain and head are partially developed.  

Is Obama's Iran Deal a 'Dhimmi' Contract?
IRGC Commander Ali Fadavi’s recent threat to “drown American vessels” in the Persian Gulf is only the latest indication that America’s relationship with Iran resembles a dhimma contract more than a traditional foreign policy.  

Appeals Court Delivers Devastating Blow To Cellphone-Privacy Advocates
Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment? By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.  

Don't count on this oil 'wild card' coming back anytime soon
Libya has been the big supply "wild card" this year. Over one million barrels a day have been shut-in amid political and security challenges over the last 12 months, keeping production stagnated around 400,000 barrels a day. 

Trinity Broadcasting’s Jan Crouch Dies Days After Stroke
Jan Crouch, the cotton candy-haired televangelist known to viewers as “Momma Jan,” passed away Tuesday after a massive stroke. “Laurie and I have just watched the transition of our precious mother from this world to the next; watched her step into the presence of Jesus and into her heavenly reward,” wrote Crouch’s son Matt. “[She] loved many things, but most of all she loved Jesus, and now has seen him face to face and has experienced his grace in fullness.”  

Mysterious huge crack developing in Wyoming
A crack that started developing in late September on a Wyoming ranch is now about the length of six football fields. The crack, which is about 50 yards wide, is located 40 miles south of Ten Sleep. And it doesn't make any sense, where it happened it's just like the ground opened up, and the size of it is just huge."  

Trump: The Principled Choice
...we find ourselves staring across a divide at fellow conservatives with whom we’ve previously stood side by side and who – claiming principle – have declared themselves NeverTrumps. Not only do we find their arguments unavailing, we wonder what principle they think they’re upholding.  

Jesus, Marx & Darwin would be banned from UK universities today – Oxford academic
Figures like Jesus, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx would all be banned from British universities today due to the rise of counter-extremism legislation and US-style ‘safe spaces,’ an Oxford professor has claimed. Oxford Professor of European Studies Timothy Garton Ash told an audience at the Hay literary festival on Monday that pressure groups and the state are carrying out a double-pronged attack on free speech.  

June 7: FEMA Will Hold a Drill to Prepare for a 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake and Tsunami
Starting on June 7, FEMA will be conducting a large scale drill that has been named "Cascadia Rising" that will simulate the effects of a magnitude-9.0 earthquake... In addition U.S. Northern Command will be holding five other exercises simultaneously...those five exercises are entitled "Ardent Sentry 2016,″ "Vigilant Guard," "Special Focus Exercise," "Turbo Challenge" and "Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore." Do they know something that the rest of us do not?  

Russia demands Turkey withdraw troops from Iraq
Russia demands that Turkey withdraw its troops from Iraq, the RIA news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Tuesday. "This (keeping troops in Iraq) is an absolutely unacceptable position," it cited Lavrov as saying. "In principle, I believe that what the Turks are doing deserves far greater public attention on the part of our Western partners."  

'Guardians of Democracy' Call For Revolt in Israel
Peddling this idea are Nahum Barnea from the daily Yediot Aharonot and Zvi Bar'el from the daily Haaretz. Not surprisingly, those toying with this dangerous notion are leftists who cry endlessly about the dangers Israeli democracy faces from some vague "chilling processes" emanating from the Right. 

Is Obama's Iran Deal a Dhimmi Contract?
Jun 1st, 2016
Commentary
PJMedia
Categories: Contemporary Issues

IRGC Commander Ali Fadavi’s recent threat to “drown American vessels” in the Persian Gulf is only the latest indication that America’s relationship with Iran resembles a dhimma contract more than a traditional foreign policy.

Since the seventh century, anyone defeated by Islamic conquest was given three choices: conversion, death, or a dhimma contract, which Bat Ye’or calls the “treaty of submission for people conquered by jihad.” By accepting the third choice, they became dhimmis: members of a “protected” class whose failure to submit to Allah was replaced by a compulsory submission to Muslims.

Isolated, disarmed, insulted at every turn, and coerced into acknowledging their inferiority with regular self-abasement, dhimmis are expected to show humility and gratitude to their conquerors.

President Obama’s approach to the Muslim world in general has been replete with gratitude, flattery, and apologies – even, and especially, for violence perpetrated by Christians one thousand years ago. Obama refuses to utter the words “Islamist terrorism.” He wildly exaggerates Islam’s role in “saving” Western culture. At the United Nations, Obama demanded that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” He even put one filmmaker in jail for doing so.

Above all, throughout his presidency Obama has reached out to Iran both publicly and via private letters.

Obama’s overtures may not be consciously designed to follow a dhimmi’s accommodation of his master. However, Ali Khamenei certainly treats Obama as if a dhimmi contract is in effect, offering only contempt in return for the president’s obsequious deference.

Khamenei leads cheers of “Death to America”? Obama makes excuses for it.

Obama insists that Iran’s path forward lies at the UN with the P5+1 partners. Khamenei answers:

[T]hose who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are … ignorant.

Within Iran and elsewhere, each Iranian provocation that goes unanswered by Obama reinforces the appearance of his dhimmi status: Obama pays his tribute and endures his proscribed submission with gestures of obeisance.

Under Obama’s administration, Iran has attempted an assassination in Washington, D.C., shipped arms to Palestinian terrorists in Gaza and Houthi rebels in Yemen, and attempted to hack a dam in New York and the electrical grid in California.

Obama’s administration has responded with self-effacing conciliation.

Even video of captured American sailors being humiliated by the IRGC didn’t rouse the president from his supine repose. John Kerry actually thanked “the Iranian authorities for their cooperation.”

Abbas: PA Open to Talks With Liberman, If He 'truly Supports 2 - State Solution
Jun 1st, 2016
Daily News
Jpost
Categories: The Nation Of Israel

Israel must recognize a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders for any negotiations to move forward, the Palestinian Authority said on Wednesday.

The PA issued its first remarks on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's affirmation late Monday that he is ready to hold peace talks based on a revised version of the 2002 Arab peace initiative.

"The Israeli statements regarding the two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative must be accompanied by actions on the ground and recognition in an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 lines whose capital is east Jerusalem," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"The Arab Peace Initiative is a part of a UN Security Council resolution and the road map for peace and it cannot be rejected when it is backed by the consensus of all the Arab and Islamic countries," he added.

On Monday, shortly after new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took the oath, Netanyahu surprisingly declared that Israel is prepared to hold peace talks based on the Arab Peace Initiative.

“I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors,” Netanyahu said in a press conference following the swearing-in ceremony. “The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians.

“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”

On Tuesday, Abbas himself lauded the Arab Peace Initiative, saying that: "We need to take advantage of the Arab Peace Initiative to reach an agreement that will enable 57 Arab and Islamic states to normalize their relations with Israel."

Hosting a delegation of Arab and Jewish community leaders in his presidential compound in Ramallah, Abbas related to Liberman's placated statements in which he underscored his support for the two-state solution.

"I do not judge people according to their political affiliation, but according to their stance regarding peace," Abbas said. "If Liberman truly supports the two-state solution, nothing will prevent us from negotiating with him."

"We want every Israeli, whether he affiliates with the left-wing or the right-wing, to believe in peace with Palestinians," he added.

"For more than 20 years we have been working to spread a culture of peace. Our doors are open to all Israelis, because we want to live in peace and freedom like the rest of the people in the world," Abbas concluded.


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