August 11, 2011

AP: Unemployment Claims Dip to Pre-Revised 395K Is ‘Good News,’ Alone Moved Markets

If we’re to believe Associated Press reporter Daniel Wagner, this morning’s report from the Department of Labor on unemployment claims revealing that initial claims during the week ended August 6 fell to 395,000, was “good news.” Why, according to Wagner, that drop, all by itself, it was “enough to catapult stocks,” pushing the Dow up by 423 points in Thursday’s trading.

Uh, not exactly, Daniel. First, though the decline in initial claims was in the right direction, it was only 5,000, or 1.25%, less than last week’s original number of 400,000 (naturally revised up to 402,000 this week), and an even tinier 3,000 fewer than the initial number two weeks ago. If (more like when, given the track record of previous weeks) it’s revised up by 3,000 or so, it will be even less impressive. Huge advances in the Dow do not arise from such tiny improvements.

At The, Chao Deng had a more measured take on today’s market results, but his attempted explanation didn’t make a lot of sense either:

Stocks soared Thursday, extending this week’s dizzying up-and-down action, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average retraced much of its recent decline with help from modest improvement in employment data and a strong quarterly report from Cisco.

Though AP’s Wagner didn’t identify Cisco in his report, that’s actually okay, because the markets had plenty of time to digest Cisco’s strong earnings result as well as the unemployment claims report before the opening bells rang. At 8:45 a.m., 15 minutes after the unemployment claims report’s release, Dow futures were down 48.

CNBC’s Bob Pisani identified three items influencing the markets’ good day which at least had some potential to make sense:

The stock market moved because there are some data points surfacing that things might be changing.

1) announcement of a Sarkozy-Merkel meeting next week reversed the downward trend prior to the open. The perception: they’re going to address the possibility of an EFSF bailout of every country.

“If Merkel comes out to support the EFSF, or a eurobond, then that’s all you need,” one trader told me. “She likely has enough to jam it thru Parliament.”

2) Rumors of European short selling ban surfaced, particularly in Italy. Hopefully this will turn out not to be true.

3) Insider buying, corporate buybacks jump. This was widely discussed on trading desks today. How do you know when you’re at a bottom? It’s hard to tell, but when insiders and corporations show signs of buying, that’s at least a good starting point.

Sorry, Daniel Wagner, I’m not buying what you’re selling on today’s marginal improvement in DOL’s unemployment claims report moving today’s markets — nor should any of your wire service’s readers, listeners, or viewers. Unfortunately, many will, because they don’t follow the news that closely, and subscribing outlets will mostly not have the time to determine that the info you provided is pap and not fact.

This shows once again how poorly we are served by the self-described Essential Global News Network.

Cross-posted at

AP Headline: Anyone Who Questions Perry’s Soft Immigration Record Is ‘Far Right’

First, to be fair to Associated Press reporter Christopher Sherman, because there is no such reference in the 3:34 p.m. version of his report on Rick Perry’s immigration positions, the headline which follows does not appear to be of his doing.

But whoever at the wire service decided on the headline to use at Sherman’s piece definitely has a problem with anyone who questions the need for illegal-immgrant amnesty, is against the granting of in-state tuition for college students who are illegal immigrants, or supports robust border enforcement:


One supposes that cooler heads might prevail at the AP in due course. But in the meantime, a Google News search on the exact headline in quotes done shortly after 4 PM ET indicates that it has already appeared in 102 places.

Here are several paragraphs from Sherman’s report:

For all of his rock-solid conservative credentials, Texas Gov. Rick Perry may have an Achilles’ heel: immigration.

If Perry runs for president, as is widely expected, he will undoubtedly focus on Texas’ relatively healthy economy and its low taxes and his record in creating jobs in the 11 years he’s been governor. What he may have to explain on the stump is how illegal immigrants have contributed to that success, adding as much as $17.7 billion a year to the state gross product and enjoying such benefits as in-state tuition at public universities.

… “Gov. Perry is very eager to appear tough on illegal immigration, but upon closer inspection he’s part of the problem,” complained William Gheen, who runs the North Carolina-based political action committee Americans for Legal Immigration. The group intends to educate conservative groups about candidates’ positions on that issue.

… Texas remains welcoming to immigrants in ways some other states are not.

Illegal immigrants can get in-state tuition at Texas universities. Neither employers nor state agencies are required to run job applicants through a federal database to determine their legal status. Illegal immigrants have access to services for drug treatment, mental health and children with special health care needs.

The fact is, despite the pronouncements from Democrats in Washington, illegal immigration is deeply opposed by at least a significant pluralities of Democrats and moderates as well as a majority of conservatives. One small example which shows majorities across the board comes from from May of last year:

A strong majority of Americans support Arizona’s controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found.

Sixty-one percent of Americans — and 64 percent of registered voters — said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9.

Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats like the law, under which local law enforcement officers are tasked with verifying people’s immigration status if they suspect them of being in the country illegally. While the Democratic Party generally is regarded as more sympathetic to illegal immigrants’ plights, 46 percent of Democrats said they favored the law for Arizona and 49 percent said they’d favor the law’s passage in their own states.

More than 8 in 10 Republicans and 54 percent of independents favor the law.

Given that so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” aka amnesty was rejected by the Senate in 2007 after a wave of public pressure, maybe the AP’s headline writer delusionally believes that the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body is also dominated by the far right. Zheesh.

I wonder how many times the term “far left” has ever appeared in an Associated Press headline, at least in the past decade?

Cross-posted at

Name That Party: Pa. ‘Kids for Cash’ Dem Judge Sentenced, No Party ID; Keeps 2-1/2 Year Streak Alive

About the only “good” thing you can say about the Associated Press’s coverage of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella is that they have been consistent. That is, the wire service, led by reporter Michael Rubinkam, up to and including today, has consistently and disgracefully failed to tag the infamous “Kids for Cash” jurist and his judicial colleague in crime Michael Conahan as a Democrat.

The consistent failure is all the more unforgivable because, as shown here, one the earliest AP reports on the topic clearly stated that “Both are Democrats.” Shortly thereafter, the sentence disappeared. Since then, to my knowledge (shown here and here), in the 2-1/2 years since the story first broke, no AP report on what the it has described as “one of the most shocking cases of courtroom graft on record” has tagged either judge as a Democrat.

What follows are excerpts from Rubinkam’s report on Ciavarella’s sentencing. Those who are unfamiliar with the case should brace themselves for the scope of the cruelty inflicted on juvenile first-time and light offenders:

Pa. judge gets 28 years in ‘kids for cash’ case

A longtime northeastern Pennsylvania judge was ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state’s high court to toss thousands of convictions.

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as “kids for cash.”

… In the wake of the scandal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea.

Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. His attorneys had asked for a “reasonable” sentence in court papers, saying, in effect, that he’d already been punished enough.

“The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the ‘Kids for Cash’ judge,” their sentencing memo said.

… Ciavarella, speaking before the sentence was handed down, apologized to the community and to those juveniles that appeared before him in his court.

“I blame no one but myself for what happened,” he said, and then denied he had ever incarcerated any juveniles in exchange for money.

… Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner.

Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.

Short of doing things to him that would themselves be illegal and therefore out of bounds, I don’t see how this man or his colleague can ever be “punished enough.”

That the AP has been “successful” in its party-ID coverup is pretty clear. An August 10-11 Google News search done at 12:40 PM ET today on Ciavarella’s last name (sorted by date with duplicates) returned 590 items (the first page says it’s 615, but it’s really 590. The number will likely grow throughout the next couple days, as the sentence story is only about 2 hours old. An identically designed search done at the same time on “Ciavarella Democrat” (not in quotes) came back empty.

Don’t try to tell me the judicial pair’s party affiliation is irrelevant. There’s little doubt that a pair of Republican judges engaged in such a pervasive, corrupt, and cruel conspiracy would have been properly tagged as GOP members all along. And besides, as noted earlier, AP did the right thing in its earliest report(s), and then stopped. The burden of proof is on AP, especially in light of its clear policy on party identification which would dictate that it should have been happening all along, as to why it didn’t. “Because we could” is not an answer.

Cross-posted at

Initial Unemployment Claims: 395K SA, Down From Last Week’s Upwardly Revised (of Course) 402K; NSA Claims Down 16% From Year Ago

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:50 am

From the Department of Labor:

In the week ending August 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 395,000, a decrease of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 402,000. The 4-week moving average was 405,000, a decrease of 3,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 408,250.

… The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 351,370 in the week ending August 6, an increase of 10,267 from the previous week. There were 425,471 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

If it holds after revisions (based on the track record, it probably will), this will be the first week to come in under 400,000 since the week ended April 2:


Not impressive, but at least a tiny improvement.


UPDATE: My Business Insider email predicted 405K.

Positivity: ‘Truly a Miracle’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Long Beach, Washington:

12-year-old boy alive and recovering after drowning in ocean

Posted: Tuesday, August 9, 2011 4:24 pm | Updated: 10:50 am, Wed Aug 10, 2011.

In what some describe as a flat-out miracle, a 12-year-old boy who drowned in the surf off Cranberry beach approach Friday began speaking in a Portland hospital Monday, amazing his doctors.

Dale Ostrander was at the beach enjoying a picturesque day trip with the Bethel Baptist Church group from Spanaway. The surf was violently agitated and chaos was about to erupt as Dale and another boy got into deadly danger. They are alive today thanks to instantaneous heroism by a visiting girl, her dad and surf-rescue volunteers.

“They just went for a day and were just getting in ankle- and knee-deep … it wasn’t a swimming activity — but he got sucked in,” said Denise Minge, daughter-in-law of Bethel Baptist Pastor Terry Minge.

Less than an hour later, as nearly two dozen other church members prayed, cried and hugged one another on the beach, Dale was in a speeding ambulance being rushed to Ocean Beach Hospital. He wasn’t breathing, had no pulse and was unresponsive for as much as 20 to 30 minutes. He was, by many definitions, dead.

Kissels to the rescue