June 6, 2013

Initial Unemployment Claims (060613): 346K SA, NSA Claims Down Almost 10% From Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:44 am

Bloomberg predicted 345,000 seasonally adjusted claims. So did Business Insider.

Here is the government’s report (permanent link):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending June 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 346,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 357,000. The 4-week moving average was 352,500, an increase of 4,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 348,000.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 293,021 in the week ending June 1, a decrease of 27,102 from the previous week. There were 324,385 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

The difference in seasonal adjustment factors between this year and the same week last year is small (85.9 last year, 84.8 this year; the impact of using last year’s factor on this year’s raw number would have been a reduction of 5,000, rounded).

So we’re basically stuck at 350K, which is about where this week will end up after next week’s virtually inevitable upward revision.

NSA collecting phone records of ALL Verizon customers daily, and more

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:53 am

Also at Drudge — “FBI wants backdoor to all software”; “DHS: Laptops, Phones can be searched on hunches”

UPDATE, 4:45 P.M.: To be clear, the NSA matter has been going on for a long time, is apparently nothing new, and has bipartisan support (except see the troubling news in Comment 1 from longtime reader dscott below). The other two items listed above — not so much.

UPDATE 2, 6:40 p.m.: The New York Times, at least for a few seconds — I’ll believe that it lasts if they’re saying the same things several months from now — has turned on Obama — “The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”

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Gosh, it’s really chilly this morning — and I’m not referring to the weather.

Just read (HT Hot Air; the referenced court order is here; bolds are mine):

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily
Exclusive: Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.

The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself.

If this wasn’t leaked on purpose (you never want to rule that out with this bunch; they may want us to believe that there’s some kind of “end of the world” terror threat out there, and I suppose there’s a tiny chance they’re right), the three biggest obsessions within the Obama administration are: finding the leaker, damage control, and finding the leaker.

More stories relating to Obama’s advancing surveillance state are at Drudge (this archived link is as of 6:50 a.m. ET, so it won’t change).

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UPDATE: From a 2006 USA Today report, Bush did it too (really), but …

She added that all national intelligence activities undertaken by the federal government “are lawful, necessary and required for the pursuit of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists.” All government-sponsored intelligence activities “are carefully reviewed and monitored,” (White House Press Secretary Dana) Perino said. She also noted that “all appropriate members of Congress have been briefed on the intelligence efforts of the United States.”

Is this bunch briefing Congress to the same extent, or at all?

More to the point: As seen at the Hot Air link, candidate Obama said he wouldn’t do any of this, and his administration (see IRS scandal in all its manifestations, press surveillance scandal) has proven its wanton disregard for Americans’ privacy rights and basic freedoms.

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Obama and the Press Pretend There’s ‘Clearly’ a Recovery’)

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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The column, which I finalized yesterday at about 11 a.m. ET, was submitted before I knew of the UCLA study which its author characterized thusly: “It’s not a recovery. It’s not even normal growth. It’s bad.”

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (060613)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Remembering D-Day

Civilization hung in the balance on June 6, 1944. Civilization won.

Go to the Army’s web site and watch the embedded video; the video’s transcript follows):
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