February 5, 2014

NYT Public Editor Scolds Paper For Not Disclosing Change to Christie Story on Firmness of ‘Evidence’

On Saturday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the New York Times had made a critical change to a story about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s possible knowledge of lane closures in the area of the George Washington Bridge. The initial story was that a Port Authority official “has evidence” in the matter. A short time later, that claim was watered down to a far more speculative “evidence exists.”

The erroneous “has evidence” version of the story quickly went viral on Friday afternoon, and is what many news readers likely still believe — especially because there is still no indication at Zernike’s story that any change from the original was made. Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan has a problem with that — as she should. There also appears to be an undercurrent of frustration at the Times that what comes off as a “gotcha” strategy didn’t stick to Christie (HT James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web; bolds are mine throughout this post):

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Bill Whittle: Judgment Day

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:07 pm

Watch:

What will be your defense?

NewsBusted (020514)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 1:52 pm

Here we go:

Topics:
– Seahawks Win Super Bowl
– Chick fil-A
– Obama Closing Gitmo?
– NBC’s Chuck Todd
– Duck Dynasty
– Rand Paul
– Bill Clinton
– Justin Bieber
– Pete Seeger
– Minimum Wage

Best Line ” at the age of 94. He would have had more friends at his funeral, but Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung are all dead.”

Proof regarding Seeger’s support of Hitler and Stalin:

As a Communist Party member in the 1940s he was a supporter of Adolf Hitler after the Nazi/Soviet Nonaggression Pact, even going so far as to pillory Franklin Roosevelt in song for opposing Nazi Germany up until the very day Hitler invaded Russia. Then he changed his tune, as it were, without missing a beat and became a supporter of war against Germany, obedient to the dictates of the Communist Party.

Proof regarding Seeger and Mao, with free bonus text indicating that he acted like a complete jerk at a pivotal moment in rock ‘n roll history (links are in original):

Seeger went to China in 1949, when Mao’s troops were butchering the populace. He was there to “collect songs of the Red Army,” at least one of which (“Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points of Attention” — above) he kept in his repertoire for decades, breezily relating its origin as if it were a traditional laborer’s chant rather than a war-time dictum of military indoctrination.

Again, just as with Stalin, the cynical Seeger didn’t only turn a blind eye to the greatest war crimes of the 20th century, he openly supported evil regimes. Even later in life, hecouldn’t really bring himself to make a heartfelt apology about Stalin.

Then there was the 1965 Newport Folk Festival controversy, where Bob Dylan was booed for playing an electric guitar. Seeger is said to have been upset, and to have tried to cut electric power cables to the amps. Much later, Seeger, “almost apologetic,” denied the incident ever occurred.

ISM Non-Manufacturing: 54.0%, Up from 53.0% in December

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 10:38 am

From the Institute for Supply Management:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in January for the 48th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

… The NMI® registered 54 percent in January, 1 percentage point higher than the seasonally adjusted reading of 53 percent registered in December. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased to 56.3 percent, which is 2 percentage points higher than the seasonally adjusted reading of 54.3 percent reported in December, reflecting growth for the 54th consecutive month and at a faster rate. The New Orders Index increased to 50.9 percent, 0.5 percentage point higher than the seasonally adjusted reading of 50.4 registered in December. The Employment Index increased 0.8 percentage point to 56.4 percent from the December seasonally adjusted reading of 55.6 percent and indicates growth in employment for the 25th consecutive month and at a faster rate. The Prices Index increased 2.4 percentage points from the December seasonally adjusted reading of 54.7 percent to 57.1 percent, indicating prices increased at a faster rate in January when compared to December. According to the NMI®, eleven non-manufacturing industries reported growth in January. The majority of respondents’ comments reflect an improvement in business conditions. Some of the respondents indicate that weather conditions have impacted their business. There remains a bit of uncertainty about the overall economy for some of the survey respondents; however, the majority feel positive about continued economic growth.”

This is a decent if not thrilling result which is a relief after Monday’s Manufacturing Index come-down.

Two of the three primary GDP drivers are in the excerpted paragraph above, and they both advanced, though New Orders are still barely above the expansion/contraction breakeven of 50%. The third driver, Orders Backlong, improved from 46.0% to 49.0%, but is still in slight contraction.

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge

Today we saw how bad weather is used to explain away the bad January numbers (ADP), but when the number is better than expected, the weather spin is ignored and it is a “reflection of the stronger economy” as was the case with the just released Services ISM number – and that is how you pick and choose the components that fit your narrative… and the tapering trend can continue.

Stocks aren’t particularly pleased with today’s ADP and ISM reports, especially the NASDAQ, which was down over 1% as of 10:35 a.m.

RIP, Barry Rubin

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:43 am

Tributes and thoughts from his PJ Media colleagues:

Rubin’s outstanding PJ Media archive is here.

UPDATE, Feb. 6: Claudia Rosett’s tribute.

ADP January Private-Sector Employment Report (020514): +175K Jobs Added, Dec. Revised Down, Nov. Revised Up; See Conference Call Notes

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:26 am

Business Insider’s email has a prediction of 185,000 private-sector jobs added.

I’ll be blogging the conference call which starts at 8:45.

Here’s the overview:

Private-sector employment increased by 175,000 from December to January, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Highlights:
- Small businesses (1-49 employees) +75,000
- Medium businesses (50-499 employees) +66,000
- Large businesses (500 or more employees) +34,000

December was revised down from 238K to 227K. November was revised up sharply to 289K from 229K.

Here are the money quotes from the press release:

“The U.S. private sector added 175,000 jobs in January, which is in line with the average monthly growth throughout 2013,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP.

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Cold and stormy winter weather continued to weigh on the job numbers. Underlying job growth, abstracting from the weather, remains sturdy. Gains are broad based across industries and company sizes, the biggest exception being manufacturing, which shed jobs, but that is not expected to continue.”

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CONFERENCE CALL NOTES:

(I intend to ask whether job shedding on the ground [see related government chart before seasonal adjustment here] was greater or less than last year.)

Mark Zandi:
- 175K is very consistent with underlying trend abstracting from weather and data vagaries.
- 175K-200K per month trend over 3 years continues.
- BLS’s 75K in Dec. was due to “tough winter weather.”
- ADP doesn’t pick up weather effects particulary well.
- BLS does the week of the 12th each month.
- ADP does “active employees” and still counts them, e.g., ADP would count some idled construction people while BLS doesn’t.
- So in his view is a better reflection of the underlying job market than BLS, and he expects a big BLS number when weather gets better.
- BLS Dec. number “I don’t think it’s reality.”
- “I don’t think anything fundamental has changed in the economy.”
- ADP Jan. details have “some softness,” particularly in manufacturing, may reflect some weakening due to inventory buildups in second half of 2013.
- Other than that, job gains are “pretty broad-based.”
- Across company sizes, all sizes are adding to payrolls, but large co. gains which have been the strongest have gotten weaker recently, may line up with mfg. weakness.
- Over the rest of the year, we should watch labor force participation rate, which has fallen over the past few years. He expects that rate to fall (!) when workers step out of the workforce when UI benefits run out. -0.3% reducation in unemployment rate. Continued retiring of Boomers will also impact. Wage growth isn’t happening and won’t draw discouraged workers back in. Through most of 2014 at current pace of job growth.

QUESTIONS:
- A guy from Accounting Today wonders about acctg. job losses (but it was seasonally adjusted!). Zandi doesn’t believe it’s real, and “can’t explain it.”
- MY Q — Doesn’t think let-gos in Jan. were out of line vs. previous years.
- Chris Rugaber from AP curious about positive construction adds. Zandi speculates that there was a possible bounceback in Jan. since Dec. weather was so awful (but so was Jan.!).
- Rugaber question 2, any chance of a breakout from 175-200K per month. Zandi expects a breakout to 225K average for all of 2014. So he expects things to pick up, with a lot of it housing-related and housing-driven industries. “Meaningfully better.”
- Steven Johnson Thomson Reuters — extrapolate to BLS. Zandi expects 170K for total NFP and 6.6% unemployment rate due to lower participation due to expired UI. Fed seems to have downgraded the importance of the 6.5% unemp. “threshold” b/c of the decline in participation.
- MY Q2 — on inventory growth and GDP, expects 2.0% GDP in Q114 and to inventory pullback to continue to weigh on Q2. Sees no evidence to argue that Q2 will be lower than 3.2%.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (020514)

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

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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Will Hollywood Ignore Woody Allen’s Daughter’s Sexual Abuse Allegation Again?” Yes. Next question.

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Union membership as a percentage of the workforce stayed at 11.3% in 2013.

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At Breitbart“WENDY DAVIS FACES ETHICS COMPLAINT IN TEXAS.” Desperate Dems are playing the “evil Koch Brothers” card.

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Imagine that“Confirmed: Obama Inaugural Donor In Charge of Dinesh D’Souza Prosecution”

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Politico“Court rejects secrecy for food stamp numbers.” It’s worth knowing — and a possible fraud indicator — if certain retailers are disproportionately benefiting from Food Stamp sales.

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The VW bug has been in the U.S. for 65 years.

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Apparently, a lot of people can’t get their arms around how a white Republican congressmen and his wife can have a family of adopted African-American kids.

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Gee, I hope so“PAUL RYAN: IMMIGRATION LEGISLATION UNLIKELY IN ’14″

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Verdict“The trouble with Obama’s myRA plan; Retirement plan helps those with no 401(k), but not much”

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Positivity: Chart-topping Benedictine nuns to release album for Lent

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Kansas City:

Feb 5, 2014 / 02:05 am

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles – an order of contemplative nuns who live in a cloister yet repeatedly climb music charts – are set to release an album for Lent later this month.

Of the 23 songs found on “Lent at Ephesus,” three are original compositions by sisters of the community, whose priory is in the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph.

“We feel like we are stepping out on a limb whenever we record any original pieces,” Mother Cecilia, prioress of the community, told CNA Feb. 3.

“In a way it is difficult, because the hymns we write come directly from our hearts, and lending them to a larger audience always costs something.”

“Lent at Ephesus” will be released Feb. 11 on the De Montfort Music label, which was founded last year by Kevin and Monica Fitzgibbons; it can be pre-ordered from the sisters at http://benedictinesofmary.org/.

It is the Benedictine’s third album with the label; 2012′s “Advent at Ephesus” was number one on Billboard’s Classical Traditional Music Chart for six weeks, and last year’s “Angels and Saints at Ephesus” spent 13 weeks in the same position.

All the music released by the Benedictines of Mary come from their life in community, of which singing is an integral part.

Their life is marked by obedience, stability, and “continually turning” towards God. They have Mass daily according to the extraordinary form, and chant the psalms eight times a day from the 1962 Monastic Office. They also support themselves by producing made-to-order vestments. …

Go here for the rest of the story.