February 8, 2016

Positivity: Crippling disease brought this priest to the confessional – and then sainthood

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Rome:

February 6, 2016

Rome is abuzz this week with the arrival of Padre Pio’s body for the Jubilee of Mercy. But many are likely scratching their heads at the arrival of a second, lesser-known saint: Leopold Mandic.

Although St. Leopold is less recognizable than his Capuchin brother St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Leopold’s life is a moving testament to perseverance and faith despite lifelong physical ailments.

St. Leopold was born Bogdan in 1866 in Dalmatia, Croatia and he was the youngest of 12 children. From an early age, Bogdan suffered from a severe stutter and strong adnominal pains. Chronic arthritis gave him a stooped frame and gnarled hands. But, what the future saint lacked in physical health, he made up for with spiritual strength.

At 16, Bogdan left Croatia for Italy, where he studied at the Capuchin Seraphic School at Udine. He entered the Capuchin order as a novice in 1884 at Bassano del Grappa and took the religious name Brother Leopold. He made his Profession of Vows one year later and was ordained a priest in Venice in 1890.

After his ordination, St. Leopold yearned to become a missionary in Eastern Europe. At the time, Eastern Europe was ravaged by religious conflict. But, St. Leopold’s superiors denied his request to become a missionary because of his poor health.

Instead, he was stationed at various friaries in the Venetian province and eventually taught about the early Church Fathers at a school in Padua, where he became well known for his devotion to his students and his hours spent in prayer each night.

After a brief exile to southern Italy during World War I, St. Leopold returned to Padua and would remain in the city for the rest of his life.

Bent and increasingly weak with age, St. Leopold spent much of the next three decades hearing confessions and providing spiritual direction from inside his small cell in Padua. The friar would spend up to 15 hours a day hearing confessions from people from every walk of life. He also adopted special sacrifices, prayers and fasts.

Word of the friar’s mercy spread quickly and soon St. Leopold faced accusations of ignorance or excessive leniency in the confessional. To which the holy friar responded, “Should the Crucified blame me for being lenient, I would answer Him: Lord, you gave me this bad example. I have not yet reached the folly of your having died for souls.”

In 1942, St. Leopold fainted while preparing for Mass. He was reportedly weak from spending the previous day hearing nonstop confessions and the entire night in prayer. He died while singing the final words of the Salve Regina. The saint had suffered from esophagus cancer, which is believed to be the cause of his death. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

February 7, 2016

NY Times: Albright, Steinem Telling Young Women Backing Sanders to ‘Grow Up’

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in a place it doesn’t want to be, and the New York Times really, really wants to help. Yesterday, Madeleine Albright told a New Hampshire audience at a Clinton rally that “there’s a special place in Hell” for women who don’t support Hillary. Her outrageous attempt to shame women into voting for Mrs. Clinton followed Gloria Steinem’s Friday appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show, during which the 81 year-old feminist dismissed young women who support Bernie Sanders as only doing so because “That’s where the boys are.”

The blowback from these statements brought an emergency late Sunday morning Times dispatch. Reporter Alan Rappeport’s ability to conduct damage control was limited, given that Albright and Steinem are on videotape saying what they said. In the process of trying, it appears that Rappeport and the Times may have done additional damage by uniting Albright’s and Steinem’s separate assertions in a common theme.



Gloria Steinem: Young Women Only Support Bernie Because ‘That’s Where the Boys Are’

The past week has been tough on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The 2016 primaries and caucuses were supposed to be a coronation, not a a contest. They’ve seen that some of Joe Biden’s donors, dissatisfied with the prospect of Mrs. Clinton or Bernie Sanders at the top of the Democratic ticket, want the Vice President to seriously consider jumping in. The sight of supporters at the Iowa headquarters of Bernie Sanders shouting “She’s a Liar” as Mrs. Clinton appeared on TV on the night of that state’s caucuses had to be unnerving.

What’s really getting to Team Clinton more than anything else is how poorly she is faring among young people, particularly young women. It’s so bad that “feminist” icon Gloria Steinem hauled out a decades-old tired line so offensive that if a male candidate on the left or right were to use it, his political career would be over the instant the words left his mouth.



Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (020716)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: The astonishing secret history of the Pope who fought Hitler

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Washington:

Feb 5, 2016 / 03:06 am

Pope Pius XII’s secret support for the attempted overthrow of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is the subject of a new book that draws on wartime documents and interviews with the American intelligence agent who wrote them.

“This book is the truth – as best I could establish it in a number of years of research – about the Pope’s secret operations in World War II,” historian Mark Riebling told CNA Feb. 2.

“Its main premise is that Pius opted to resist Hitler with covert action instead of overt protest. As a result, he became involved in three separate plots by German dissidents to remove Hitler.”

“I thought this idea – that the Church engaged in secret operations during the bloodiest years in history, in the most controversial part of its recent history – was not just a footnote; it was something worth pursuing,” he said.

Riebling tells this story in his book “Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler,” published by Basic Books in September 2015. A Spanish-language version will be published by publisher Stella Maris in February 2016.

In the late 1990s, debate over whether Pius XII did enough to counter the Nazis reached a high point with the publication of the deeply controversial book, “Hitler’s Pope,” by British journalist John Cornwell. The book was highly critical of Pius XII, charging that he was culpably silent – if not an accomplice – in the rise of Nazism.

“If you read the fiercest critics of the Nazi-era Church, the major ones all concede that Pius XII hated Hitler and worked secretly to overthrow him,” Riebling said. “Yet they say this in their books in just a clause, a sentence, or a paragraph. To me, this episode merited more curiosity.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

February 6, 2016

Madeleine Albright: ‘Special Place in Hell’ For Women Who Don’t Vote For Hillary

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin referred to Madeleine Albright’s somewhat well-known saying, found on a Starbucks coffee cup, that “There’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women.” At the time, Albright, who served as Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, huffed: “Though I am flattered that Governor Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics.” She naturally followed that statement with an intense political attack on Palin and GOP presidential nominee John McCain.

Now that Democrat Hillary Clinton is running for president and is in danger of losing the New Hampshire primary by a substantial margin, Albright has decided that her statement has everything to do with politics, and that women who don’t support Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy and vote for her deserve that “special place in Hell.” Full context is in the following report by John McCormack at the Weekly Standard (bolds are mine throughout this post:



Positivity: Padre Pio was a true ‘servant of mercy,’ Pope Francis says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:50 pm

From Vatican City:

Feb 6, 2016 / 04:57 am

On Saturday Pope Francis said St. Padre Pio is a key example of someone who has given their entire life in the service of God’s mercy, but cautioned that there is only one reason he was able to do so: prayer.

“We can say that Padre Pio was a servant of mercy. He did so full-time, practicing, at times in exhaustion, the apostolate of listening,” the Pope said Feb. 6.

Through his ministry in the confessional, where he would at times spend 10-15 hours a day, the saint was able to become “a caress of the living Father, who heals the wounds of sin and refreshes the heart with peace.”

Francis said Padre Pio never tired of welcoming and listening to the people who came to him. He said the saint spent his time and strength spreading “the perfume of the forgiveness of the Lord.”

The only reason Padre Pio was able to do this, he said, is because “he was always attached to the source: he was continuously quenched by Jesus Crucified, and so became a channel of mercy.”

“In this way his small drop became a great river of mercy, which irrigated many dry hearts and created an oasis of life in many parts of the world.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.


Biden Donors Want VP to Enter 2016 Race; AP, NY Times Ignore

Folks who get their news from a wide variety of sources likely know by now that there is enough concern about the electability of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders that a prominent Democratic Party donor has “emailed dozens of fans of Vice President Joe Biden on Friday, urging them to remain prepared to donate if Biden jumps into the (presidential) race.” Two outlets which have become de facto palace guards for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy have either ignored or downplayed it.

The Reuters story went out shortly after 8 p.m. Friday. The Associated Press has not posted a related story at its national site. Though the New York Times is carrying Reuters story at its web site, the paper did not include the story in Saturday’s print edition, and Biden’s last name isn’t even present on its home page.



Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (020616)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

February 5, 2016

Barely News: Sanders’ Supporters Yelled ‘She’s a Liar’ at Hillary on Caucus Night

Five items found at the Politico filed late Monday or early Tuesday reported that supporters of Bernie Sanders at the Iowa caucuses, while watching a live feed of Hillary Clinton’s speech late Monday evening, began chanting “She’s a liar!” The chants grew until they “took over the room,” and didn’t stop until Sanders campaign officials cut off the live feed being shown.

This is barely news in the establishment press, which has obsessed over the Ben Carson-Ted Cruz-CNN controversy, devoting an obviously inordinate amount of time to it and, as Cruz himself has shown, getting it wrong in the process.



January Employment Situation Summary (020516); +151K SA Payroll Jobs, 4.9 Pct. Unemployment Rate; TRULY A DISASTER — Worst January Raw Job Losses Since ’09, Worse Than All Years on Record Except ’08 and ’09

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:17 am

TOPSIDE NOTE: As seen below, this month’s Establishment Survey seasonal conversions wildly overstate the underlying data by about 75,00 – 100,000 jobs.

January’s raw total nonfarm and private-sector job losses are the worst in January since 2009, and represent the worst January on record except for 2008 and 2009.


Predictions, per Yahoo’s Economic Calendar: Briefing.com — 195,000 jobs added, 5% unemployment rate; “Markets expect” 188,000 and 5%.

The AP has been touting 200K job additions.

What I hope ends up being a gag post at Zero Hedge (turns out, not so much — Ed.), which has another post with a range of predictions from 175K-225K, speculates that a goose egg is a possibility.

The report will be here at 8:30.

Benchmarking: January is a month for huge actula (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) job losses every year as seasonal employees are let go. I’ll post tables later, but the benchmarks for this report to be a good one for payroll jobs, regardless of how the results seasonally convert, are as follows:

  • Total nonfarm — 2.7 million or fewer jobs lost.
  • Private sector — 2.15 or fewer jobs lost.

HERE IT IS (permanent link): It’s far from perfect, that’s for sure. More will be known after digging in —

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 151,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in several industries, led by retail trade, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing. Employment declined in private educational services, transportation and warehousing, and mining.

Household Survey Data

Both the number of unemployed persons, at 7.8 million, and the unemployment rate, at 4.9 percent, changed little in January. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.1 million and 0.8 percentage point, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.5 percent) and Whites (4.3 percent) declined in January. The jobless rates for adult women (4.5 percent), teenagers (16.0 percent), Blacks (8.8 percent), Asians (3.7 percent), and Hispanics (5.9 percent) showed little change over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged in January, at 2.1 million, and has shown little movement since June. These individuals accounted for 26.9 percent of the unemployed.

After accounting for the annual adjustments to the population controls, the civilian labor force and total employment, as measured by the household survey, were little changed in January. The labor force participation rate, at 62.7 percent, was little changed. The employment-population ratio (59.6 percent) changed little over the month but was up by 0.3 percentage point since October.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 6.0 million in January but was down by 796,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs.

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 151,000 in January. Employment rose in several industries, led by retail trade, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing. Private educational services and transportation and warehousing lost jobs. Mining employment continued to decline.

Retail trade added 58,000 jobs in January, following essentially no change in December. Employment rose in general merchandise stores (+15,000), electronics and appliance stores (+9,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+8,000), and furniture and home furnishing stores (+7,000). Employment in retail trade has increased by 301,000 over the past 12 months, with motor vehicle and parts dealers and general merchandise stores accounting for nearly half of the gain.

Employment in food services and drinking places rose in January (+47,000). Over the year, the industry has added 384,000 jobs.

Health care continued to add jobs in January (+37,000), with most of the increase occurring in hospitals (+24,000). Health care has added 470,000 jobs over the past 12 months, with about two-fifths of the growth occurring in hospitals.

Manufacturing added 29,000 jobs in January, following little employment change in 2015. Over the month, job gains occurred in food manufacturing (+11,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), and furniture and related products (+3,000).

Employment in financial activities rose in January (+18,000). Job gains occurred in credit intermediation and related activities (+7,000).

Private educational services lost 39,000 jobs in January due to larger than normal seasonal layoffs.

Employment in transportation and warehousing decreased by 20,000 in January. Most of the loss occurred among couriers and messengers (-14,000), reflecting larger than usual layoffs following strong seasonal hiring in the prior 2 months.

Employment in mining continued to decline in January (-7,000). Since reaching a peak in September 2014, employment in the industry has fallen by 146,000, or 17 percent.

Employment in professional and business services changed little in January (+9,000), after increasing by 60,000 in December. Within the industry, professional and technical services added 25,000 jobs over the month, in line with average monthly gains over the prior 12 months. Employment in temporary help services edged down in January (-25,000), after edging up by the same amount in December.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours in January. The manufacturing workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.8 hours.

In January, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 12 cents to $25.39. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.5 percent. In January, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 6 cents to $21.33.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +252,000 to +280,000, and the change for December was revised from +292,000 to +262,000. With these revisions, employment gains in November and December combined were 2,000 lower than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged 231,000 per month. …

Benchmarking results:

  • Total nonfarm — 2.989 million jobs lost vs. -2.7 million or fewer jobs lost benchmark
  • Private sector — 2.475 jobs lost vs. -2.15 million or fewer jobs lost benchmark

These are HUGE misses. Each figure represents the highest January job loss since 2009. Each figure is also the highest job January loss on record except for 2008 and 2009.

The seasonal conversions don’t reflect this horrid underlying reality — at all.

I’ll insert the adjusted tables later, but for now just know that this year’s total nonfarm loss is 173,000 greater than last January, while the seasonally adjusted figure of 151,000 is only 70,000 below last January.  Comparisons to previous Januarys are mostly similar or even worse. One would have expected a seasonal conversion to only about 50,000 based on these comparisons.

In the private sector, this year’s job loss is 143K greater than last year’s, but the seasonally adjusted result of +158K is only 56K below last year’s  214K. Again, comparisons to previous Januarys are mostly similar or even worse. One would have expected a seasonal conversion to only about 75,000 based on these comparisons.

Here is the BLS data as of after the release:


(Noted at 10:15 a.m. — Ed.) I should also note that raw data not as bad as today’s in 2010 and 2011 led to seasonally adjusted results of 50,000 or below in both total nonfarm and the private sector. Even though they are technically outside of the five-year seasonal adjustment calculation window, they would support an argument that today’s seasonally adjusted results should have come in at zero or below.

More after a review.


UPDATE (references are to seasonally adjusted data unlessotherwise indicated):

  • The Household Survey data shows an additional 1.1 million Americans employed in the past two months, compared to 413,000 in the Establishment Survey. I didn’t realize that self-employment had all of sudden become so appealing. (That’s sarcasm.)
  • The participation rates are edging up, but I suspect that phenomenon will come to a halt or go the other way in future months.
  • Full-time employment went up by over 500K, while part-time employment increased by only 5K.
  • “Not in labor force” is still over 94 million.
  • The raw data says that a net of 258,000 employees at temp agencies were let go in January. I suspect that this is far more than a Christmas season effect, and has a lot to do with companies getting rid of anything resembling excess cost in advance of a potential slowdown.

UPDATE 2: Zero Hedge notes that retail jobs added of 58K plus food service and drinking places (+47K) account for 70 percent of the seasonally adjusted jobs added in January.


Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (020516)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: This LGBT advocate changed his mind about Christian bakers

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From London, England:

London, England, Feb 3, 2016 / 03:47 pm

Peter Tatchell is a passionate human rights campaigner who outwardly voices his support of same-sex marriage and LGBT issues.

In 2014, he proclaimed his condemnation against Ashers Bakery in Belfast, Ireland, which was found guilty of “discrimination” because a pair of Christian bakers refused to ice a cake that would read “Support Gay Marriage.”

But now, two years later, Tatchell has halted his previous claims against Ashers Bakery, saying his change of heart has been motivated by the defense of freedom.

“Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion,” Tatchell wrote in The Guardian Feb. 1, saying “the court was wrong to penalize Ashers and I was wrong to endorse its decision.”

The court found Ashers Bakery guilty of discrimination in 2014 when the bakers denied Gareth Lee’s order for a pro-gay marriage cake. This verdict was backed in light of the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland, which sets laws against discrimination.

Although Tatchell continues to endorse same-sex marriage and believes the lawsuit against Ashers to be a well-intentioned blow against homophobia, he ultimately found that the legal action against the bakery went “a step too far.”

After further consideration, Tatchell believes Ashers was simply acting in light of its right to religious freedom – not out of political bigotry, as the court’s ruling suggested.

The “cake request was refused not because he was gay, but because of the message he asked for. There is no evidence that his sexuality was the reason Ashers declined his order,” Tatchell said.

“This finding of political discrimination against Lee sets a worrying precedent,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

February 4, 2016

RIP, Maurice White

Filed under: General,Lucid Links,Marvels — Tom @ 11:35 pm

Mauric White (bottom row, center), the leader of Earth, Wind & Fire, who orchestrated some of the best music ever made, has died:


Listen (more here).


That’s the Way of the World:

Can’t Hide Love:

Shining Star:

Maurice White’s music will shine on forever.


But There Is No Serious Slowdown …

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 1:56 pm

… it’s actually looking more like a shutdown.

The Baltic Dry Index is at an all-time low (HT longtime reader/commenter dscott):


Longer context, i.e., almost 31 years:


Zero Hedge’s concern almost a year ago to the day was that the index had hit 559. The 1986 record low was 554.

The latest value of 303 is 46 percent and 45 percent lower than those two values.

We have never been in such negative territory for this index, which “measures the demand for shipping capacity versus the supply of dry bulk carriers.” Excuse the semi-pun, but it’s totally in the tank.


UPDATE, 1105 p.m.: The Index has dropped below 300 for the first time ever.