Friday, October 29

The Truth about the Unemployment Rate in America

Changes in the unemployment rate are driven by interaction of job destruction, which consists of job losses through voluntary and involuntary job termination and job creation resulting in the hiring of employees. This interplay of job destruction and job creation drives the changes and direction of the unemployment rate. James Sherk at the Heritage Institute points out in his latest article that job losses in the current recession are not as severe as they were during the recession in 2001. The reason the unemployment rate is so much higher in the current recession is due to the lack of job creation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics JOLT (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) data, not only are private sector job losses now at a level lower than in the 2001, but job creation is 20% lower since the recession trough of 2001. Job creation is reflected in the JOLT statistics as hires. Job destruction is shown as job losses due to job separations, both voluntary and involuntary. For example, if a person voluntarily quits a job to take a new job, this shows in the statistics as one job destroyed and one job created. Figure 1 below shows the jobs created versus jobs destroyed from 2001 until April 2010. The thick horizontal line in the table shows the level of jobs created at the low point of the 2001 recession. As of the latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the level of jobs created stands about 20% below the level in 2002. Furthermore, the jobs being destroyed are at the same level

 as has existed over the average of the last ten years, with the exception of the period beginning at the latest recession in December 2007. Figure 2 shows that the stimulus bill has a positive effect on the jobs at the government level; it also shows the level of government job creation and destruction for all levels of

government, including federal, state, and local from 2001 to April 2010. During the current recession, job creation and destruction are correlated as one would expect from government, where reductions in force do not generally occur. Government jobs do not disappear except in the case of temporary workers, such as the 411,000 census workers hired as outlined in the May jobs report. Job destruction in the private sector is now at a level consistent with the level from 2002 to 2008.

President Obama claimed in February 2009 when the $787B stimulus bill was passed that three and a half million jobs would be created or saved. Aside from the obvious obfuscation and inability to measure "jobs saved," he has accomplished this objective -- in the government sector, but the cost to private-sector job creation can be readily seen from the charts above.

None of the initiatives that this current administration has pursued has improved job creation.

  • $1.4B in deficits
  • Passage of ObamaCare
  • Takeover of GM and Chrysler
  • Bailout of financial institutions that are too big to fail
  • And now, a moratorium on off-shore oil drilling off the Gulf coast.
  • And lets not forget that an energy tax is still possible, which could enable a further reduction in the manufacturing base in the U.S.

Of course, since neither the president nor his key advisors have any private-sector experience, they cannot be expected to know how jobs are created in the private sector. President Obama is now pushing Congress to pass an additional $50B spending bill to extend unemployment benefits and bail out state governments. Americans want jobs and the ability to participate in an economy whereby through an individual's efforts, a brighter future can become reality. Unemployment benefits are no substitute for a job.

 Courtesy: Alan Aronoff

Wednesday, October 27

History of the Taliban: Who They Are, What They Want

The Taliban: An Introduction

The Taliban are back

The Taliban—from the Arabic word for student, “taleb”—are fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, mostly from Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes. The Taliban dominates large swaths of Afghanistan and a large part of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The Taliban seek to establish a puritanical caliphate that neither recognizes nor tolerates forms of Islam divergent from their own. They scorn democracy or any secular or pluralistic political process as an offense against Islam. The Taliban’s Islam, however, a close kin of Saudi Arabian Wahhabism, is far more perversion than interpretation. The Taliban’s version of Islamic law, or Sharia, is historically inaccurate, contradictory, self-serving and fundamentally deviant from prevailing interpretations of Islamic law and practice.

The Taliban's Origins

A young boy carries a heavy bag in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan in June 2008. The upsurge of fighting in southern Afghanistan during 2006 has compelled tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

There was no such thing as a Taliban until the Afghanistan’s civil war in the wake of Soviet troops’ withdrawal in 1989, after a decade-long occupation. But by the time their last troops withdrew in February 1989, they’d left a nation in social and economic shards, 1.5 million dead, millions of refugees and orphans in Iran and Pakistan, and gaping political vacuum that warlords attempted to fill. Afghan mujahideen warlords replaced their war with the Soviets with a civil war.
Thousands of Afghan orphans grew up never knowing Afghanistan or their parents, especially their mothers. They were schooled in Pakistan’s madrassas, religious schools which, in this case, were encouraged and financed by Pakistani and Saudi authorities to develop militantly inclined Islamists. Pakistan nurtured that corps of militants as proxy fighters in Pakistan’s ongoing conflict with over Muslim-dominated (and disputed) Kashmir. But Pakistan consciously intended to use the madrassas’ militants as leverage in its attempt to control Afghanistan as well.
As Jeri Laber of Human Rights Watch wrote in the New York Review of Books of the origins of the Taliban in refugee camps (recalling an article he’d written in 1986),
Hundreds of thousands of youths, who knew nothing of life but the bombings that destroyed their homes and drove them to seek refuge over the border, were being raised to hate and to fight, “in the spirit of Jihad,” a “holy war” that would restore Afghanistan to its people. “New kinds of Afghans are being born in the struggle,” I reported. “Caught in the midst of a grownups’ war, the young Afghans are under intense political pressure from one side or another, almost from birth." [...] The children that I interviewed and wrote about in 1986 are now young adults. Many are now with the Taliban.

Mullah Omar and the Taliban's Rise in Afghanistan

An undated photograph believed to be of the Taliban's Mullah Muhammad Omar, who is said never to allow himself to be photographed.
As civil war was ravaging Afghanistan, Afghans were desperate for a stabilizing counter-force that would put an end to the violence.
The Taliban’s most original aims were, as Ahmed Rashid, the Pakistani journalist and author of Taliban (2000), wrote, to “restore peace, disarm the population, enforce Sharia law and defend the integrity and Islamic character of Afghanistan.
As most of them were part-time or full-time students at madrassas, the name they chose for themselves was natural. A talib is an Islamic student, one who seeks knowledge compared to the mullah who is one who gives knowledge. By choosing such a name the Taliban (plural of Talib) distanced themselves from the party politics of the mujahideen and signaled that they were a movement for cleansing society rather than a party trying to grab power.”
For their leader in Afghanistan, the Taliban turned to Mohammed Omar, an itinerant preacher likely born in 1959 in Nodeh village near Kandahar, in southeastern Afghanistan. He had neither tribe nor religious pedigree. He had fought the Soviets and been wounded four times, including once in the eye. His reputation was that of a pious ascetic.
Omar's reputation grew when he ordered a group of Taliban militants to arrest a warlord who had captured two teenage girls and raped them. The 30 Talibs, with just 16 rifles between them—or so goes the story, one of many near-mythical accounts that have grown around Omar’s history—attacked the commander’s based, freed the girls, and hanged the commander by their favorite means: from the barrel of a tank, in full view, as an example of Taliban justice.
The Taliban’s reputation grew through similar feats.

Benazir Bhutto

Pakistan's Intelligence Services and the Taliban

Religious indoctrination in Pakistan’s madrassas and Omar’s campaigns against rapists alone were not the light that lit the Taliban fuse. The Pakistani intelligence services known as the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, the Pakistani military and Benazir Bhutto, who was prime minister of Pakistan during the Taliban’s most politically and militarily formative years (1993-96), all saw in the Taliban a proxy army they could manipulate to Pakistan’s ends.
In 1994, Bhutto’s government appointed the Taliban as protector of Pakistani convoys through Afghanistan. Controlling trade routs and the lucrative windfalls those routes provide in Afghanistan is a major source of lucre and power. The Taliban proved uniquely effective, swiftly defeating other warlords and conquering major Afghan cities.
Beginning in 1994, The Taliban rose to power and established their brutal, totalitarian rule over 90 percent of the country, in part by leading a genocidal campaign against Afghanistan’s Shiite, or Hazara.

The Taliban and the Clinton Administration

Following Pakistan’s lead, the Clinton administration initially supported the Taliban’s rise. Clinton’s judgment was clouded by the question that has often led American policy astray in the region: Who can best check Iran’s influence? In the 1980s, the Reagan administration armed and financed Saddam Hussein under the assumption that a totalitarian Iraq was more acceptable than an unbridled, Islamic Iran. The policy backfired in the form of two wars, one of which has yet to end. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration also funded the mujahideen in Afghanistan as well as their Islamist supporters in Pakistan. That blowback took the form of al-Qaeda. As the Soviets withdrew and the cold war ended, American support for Afghan mujahideen stopped abruptly, but military and diplomatic support for Afghanistan did not. Under the influence of Benazir Bhutto, the Clinton administration voiced itself willing to open a dialogue with the Taliban in the mid-1990s, especially as the Taliban was the only force in Afghanistan capable of guaranteeing another American interest in the region — potential oil pipelines.
On Sept. 27, 1996, Glyn Davies, a State Department spokesman, expressed hope that the Taliban “will move quickly to restore order and security and to form a representative interim government that can begin the process of reconciliation nationwide.” Davies called the Taliban’s execution of former Afghan President Najibullah merely “regrettable,” and said the United States would send diplomats to Afghanistan to meet with the Taliban, potentially to re-establishing full diplomatic ties. The Clinton’s administration’s flirtation with the Taliban did not last, however, as Madeleine Albright, incensed by the Taliban’s treatment of women, among other regressive measures, halted it when she became secretary of state in January 1997.

The Taliban's Repressions and Regressions: A War on Women

Where the Buddhist colossus once stood, withstanding the barbarism of Genegis Khan and that of invaders before and since--until the Taliban demolished it in February-March 2001.

The Taliban's long lists of edicts and decrees took an especially misogynistic view of women. Schools for girls were closed. Women were forbidden to work or leave their homes without verifiable permission. Wearing non-Islamic dress was forbidden. Wearing make-up, sporting western products like purses or shoes, was forbidden. Music, dancing, cinemas, any form of non-religious broadcasting and entertainment were banned. Lawbreakers were beaten, flogged, shot or beheaded.
In 1994, Osama bin Laden moved to Kandahar as a guest of Mullah Omar. On Aug. 23, 1996, bin Laden declared war on the United States and exerted increasing influence on Omar, helping to fund the Taliban’s offensives against other warlords in the north of the country. That lavish financial support made it impossible for Mullah Omar not to protect bin Laden when Saudi Arabia, then the United States, pressured the Taliban to extradite bin Laden. The fates and ideology of al-Qaeda and the Taliban became intertwined.
At the height of their power, in March 2001, the Taliban demolished the two enormous, centuries-old Buddha statues of Bamiyan, an act that showed to the world in ways that the Taliban’s wanton massacres and oppression should have much earlier the ruthless, distorted Puritanism of the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam.

The Taliban's 2001 Downfall

A Taliban militant sporting the beard required by Taliban edict contributes money at a table for 'mujahideen' in the village of Koza Bandi in the Swat Valley, Pakistan, a tribal area controlled by the Taliban.

The Taliban were overthrown in the 2001 American-backed invasion of Afghanistan. The Taliban were never defeated, however. They retreated, regrouped, especially in Pakistan, and by 2006 were again controlling vast swaths of southern and western Afghanistan while inflicting heavy casualties on NATO and American forces. The Pakistani Taliban is just as powerful. It now controls Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, virtually immune from Pakistani law and authority. Mullah Omar and bin laden are believed to be hiding in those tribal areas—and planning strategy against the NATO-American presence in Afghanistan, against Pakistan’s secular rulers, as well as tactically directing al-Qaeda attacks elsewhere in the world. In 2007, al-Qaeda was responsible for close to 30 attacks, the most, for a single year, in its history.

Sunday, October 24

The 10 Poorest Countries Of The World

The level of economy in countries around the globe is not even. It is somewhere very high and somewhere very low. GDP, literacy rate and employment rate are several parameters of a country to determine the level of its economy. According to a report of the United Nations, hunger causes the death of about 25,000 people everyday. Unfortunately, the number of children is greater than that of adults. Consider several facts of income disparity between rich and poor nations to measure the cleavage between the haves and the haves not. The combined income of the world’s richest individuals leaves far behind that of the poorest 416 million. 982 million out of 4.8 billion people in the developing world live on $1 a day. Another 2.5 billion live on below $2 a day. 40% of the poorest population made up 5% of world income while 20% of the richest population made up 75% of global income in 2005.
A country with a GDP per capita of $765 dollars or less is defined as a low-income or poor country. You may wonder why poor countries remain poor. Some interrelated factors like geography, industrialization, colonialism, education, resources, infrastructure, overpopulation, investment, government and debt make poor countries remain the heavy foot of poverty.
Look into the fragile features of the ten poorest countries of the world.

10. Ethiopia (GDP – per capita: $700)

Seen Better Days - Ethiopia
“The Sadomo region of the Ethiopia is known for producing the best coffee second to Harar….Make Trade Fair!” mcandrea

Ethiopia ranks 170 out of 177 the poorest countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP HDI 2006). Half of its GDP depends on agricultural activity. The agricultural sector suffers lowdown because of poor cultivation techniques and frequent drought. 50% of its population 74.7 million bears the burden of poverty and 80% lives on bread line. 47% of males and 31% of females are literate. Some parts of Ethiopia run a high risk of hepatitis A, hepatitis E, typhoid fever, malaria, rabies, meningococcal meningitis and schistosomiasis.
Child Poverty

09. Niger (GDP – per capita: $700)

Niger with a population of 12.5 million is one of the ten poorest countries in the world. Drought is a common natural calamity in Niger. It often undergoes a phase of severe food crisis. 63% of its total population lives on below $1 a day. Adult literacy rate is as low as 15%. Life expectancy spans up to 46 years. A number of people die of hepatitis A, diarrhea, malaria, meningococcal meningitis and typhoid fever.
“Escaping from poverty”

08. Central African Republic (GDP – per capita: $700)

Rebel in northern Central African Republic
“Rebel in northern Central African Republic” 

The Central African Republic ranks 171 as a poor country. Agriculture is the backbone of its unstable economy. Life expectancy of its meager population 4.3 ranges from 43.46 to 43.62 years. 13.5% of its population is at risk of AIDS.
Destruction in the north-west
“Boy in front of destroyed homes in Ngaoundaye, Central African Republic. Since early 2007, the troubled region has been caught up in fighting between APRD rebels and government troops.” hdptcar

07. Guinea-Bissau (GDP – per capita: $600)

“Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Bijene, January 2005. Mbemba Djaló, 13 years young, earns some extra cash after school, running his little shop at the veranda of an abandoned colonial house. Photography by Ernst Schade” ernst schade

The rank of Guinea Bissau as a poor country is 172. Farming and fishing are the only pillars of its economy. The level of income is not even in all parts of the country. About 10% of its adult population is at risk of HIV.

06. Union of the Comoros (GDP – per capita: $600)

Itsandra at sunset
Population growth and unemployment at a high rate are responsible for the poor economy of Union of the Comoros. Population density at a rate of 1000 per square km in agriculture zones may result in an environmental crisis. Agricultural contribution to its GDP is 40%. The low level of education has raised the level of labor force. Economy mainly depends on foreign grants.

05. Republic of Somalia (GDP – per capita: $600)

“Sixteen million people in eastern Africa are in need of emergency food aid and the threat of starvation is severe, according to FAO’s latest report on the Food Supply Situation and Crop Prospects in sub-Saharan Africa.” ☠ ● qυєєη σƒ яσ¢к ● ☠

Agriculture is the base of the economy of Republic of Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Nomads and semi-nomads comprise a major part of the population. Rearing livestock is the primary source of livelihood for them. The small agricultural industry contributes 10% to its GDP.
“Mogadishu. October 2004. View of Mogadishu north. Mogadishu is the place where effects of the conflict are more striking. There are arround 400.000 internally displaced persons. Access to health structures is quite impossible for the danger to circulate in the streets where combats are on-going and all type infrastructures have disapeared: water, sanitation, schools… The absence of state during more than 13 years has made impossible any investment in public structures. It is estimated that around 72% of Somalia’s population lacks access to basic healthcare services and the healthcare system is in ruins.” abdisalla

04. The Solomon Islands (GDP – per capita: $600)

Solomon Islands Tsunami -- Minister whose church was washed away
“Solomon Islands Tsunami — Minister whose church was washed away” 

The Solomon Islands is a country in Melanesia. Fishing holds its domestic economy. Above 75% of the labor class, is involved in fishing. Timber was the main product for export until 1998. Palm oil and copra are important cash crops for export. The Solomon Islands are rich in mineral resources like zinc, lead, gold and nickel.

03. Republic of Zimbabwe (GDP – per capita: $500)

“The expression on these guys faces says a million things, weak from hunger and too poor to own shoes or have a shirt to wear. This is all because of the tyrant they call a president.
A beautiful country ruined because of one mans greed. ”
Mr Sean
Republic of Zimbabwe is located between the Limpopo and Zambezi rivers in the south of Africa. Its economy suffers a slowdown due to supply shortage, soaring inflation and foreign exchange shortage. Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo left its economy fragile. The worst consequence of the knelt-down economy is unemployment that is as high as 80%.
“March, 5, 2008. The Zimbabwean currency tumbled to a record 25 million dollars for a single US dollar”

02. Republic of Liberia (GDP – per capita: $500)

Young boy looks through hole in garbage dump
“MONROVIA, LIBERIA – NOVEMBER 12, 2006 : Young Liberian boy standing on Randal street in Monrovia looks through a hole in a garbage filled car that has been turned on its side and salvaged fro spare parts. ( Photo by: Christopher Herwig )”

Republic of Liberia on the west coast of Africa is one of the ten poorest economies across the globe. A decline in the export of commodities, the flight of many investors from the country, the unjust exploitation of the country’s diamond resource, looting and war profiteering during the civil war in 1990 brought the economy of the country to its knees. External debt of the country is more than its GDP.
Government child soldiers
“Liberia: Government child soldiers,Ganta; on the back of their truck is an anti-aircraft gun. © Teun Voeten, 2003.
Liberia’s decade-long civil war was fuelled by weapons imported in to the country in violation of a UN arms embargo. Shipments over three months in 2002 from a Serbian security company, for example, brought in enough bullets to kill the entire population of Liberia.”

01. Republic of the Congo (GDP – per capita: $300)

Street of Kinshasa
“This picture shows what Kinshasa is: full of contradictions. The beauty of the sunlight, nature, happy people contrasts with the filth on the streets, disorganisation, poverty… These two persons seem to stand there, in the middle of all that. Can they push the country forward… Are they part of a generation that will one day live in a modern Democratic Republic of Congo, freed of all suffering and pain?” fredogaza

Republic of the Congo in Central Africa is the last at the bottom of the economic heaps. Depreciation of Franc Zone currencies, incredibly high levels of inflation in 1994, eruption of the civil war, and continuation of armed conflict and slumping oil price in 1998 broke down the economy of the country.
Former child soldiers
“A group of ‘kotelengana’, or former child soldiers, in DRC” War Child UK

GDP – per capita (PPP) 2008 Country Ranks
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2008