U.S. Passes Biggest Trade Agreement Since ’94

This week, Congress passed free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama in the largest sweeping trade move since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994.

The agreement with South Korea removes duties on about two-thirds of American farm exports, and it phases out tariffs on more than 95 percent of industrial and consumer exports over the next five years, according to Bloomberg.

The agreement broadens long-dead trade relationships just after Congress voted on measures to punish the Chinese for currency devaluation. Some people say the new measures will also open more trans-Pacific trade possibilities.

The U.S. International Trade Commission says the South Korea deal could boost American exports by as much as $10.9 billion during the first full year it is in effect. The deal with Colombia could lead to about $1.1 billion in export revenues.

Some opponents to the free-trade agreements have noted soaring trade deficits in the U.S. as a result of past trade agreements, and they contend that the new trade deal will have similar effects. Fearing that unions and wage workers in the U.S. will lose out to cheap foreign labor, many Democrats took to the House floor to speak in opposition to the deals, according to The New York Times.

“What I am seeing firsthand is devastation that these free trade agreements can do to our communities,” Representative Mike Michaud, (D-Maine), told the newspaper.

Issa Seeks Answers In Investigation, Subpoenas AG

Attorney General Eric Holder was subpoenaed on Wednesday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for documents related to Operation Fast and Furious.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the oversight committee, believes that Holder has withheld knowledge about the gun running operation in Congressional hearings. The subpoenas are directed at the Attorney General as well as other high-ranking officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“Top Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Holder, know more about Operation Fast and Furious than they have publicly acknowledged,” Issa said in a statement. “The documents this subpoena demands will provide answers to questions that Justice officials have tried to avoid since this investigation began eight months ago. It’s time we know the whole truth.”

The subpoenas seek information about communications between the DOJ and the executive branch, any organized crime task force in Phoenix or to a number of law enforcement officials related to the task forces and a slew of interdepartmental documents.

The pursuit of thousands of pages of documents never before sought represents Issa’s determination to understand exactly what happened during the Fast and Furious operation. Issa has already made headway. Recently released internal DOJ memos show Holder was notified about Operation Fast and Furious as early as last year. The DOJ and the White House previously said Holder had no knowledge of Fast and Furious gun walking tactics until earlier this year.

‘Underdog’ Obama’s Campaign Coffers At $70 Million For Third Quarter

The incessant campaigning that President Barack Obama has been accused of in past months has apparently paid off; he raked $70.1 million in third quarter contributions for his 2012 campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

While the number is lower than the $88 million raked in during the preceding funding quarter, POLITICO reports that the President’s campaign is doing much better at raising funds than it is at achieving high approval numbers in polls.

GOP Presidential contenders are reportedly expected to have raised cumulatively about half as much as Obama. The Republican National Committee raised $9.3 million over the same period, but reportedly has millions of dollars in debt.

Despite having raised massive amounts of campaign money, the President’s campaign officials are still attempting to depict Obama as an underdog who faces GOP special interest power.

“We’re up against a Republican Party and special interest-funded groups that will spend hundreds of millions of dollars spreading any message that they believe will defeat the president and roll back our efforts to build a fairer economy that rewards hard work and responsibility, not large corporations,” wrote Obama campaign organizer Jim Messina in an email to supporters.

Messina said the new cash is being used to establish the campaign’s infrastructure in battleground States.

Underwear Bomber Pleads Guilty

The accused underwear bomber pleaded guilty Wednesday to eight criminal charges, including conspiring to commit an act of terrorism, in his second day of trial.

According to USA Today, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab read from a statement saying he was guilty under U.S. law, but not under Islamic law, of the charges. He said that his actions were in retaliation against the United States for the murder of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Somalia, Israel and elsewhere.

The would-be suicide bomber said in his statement to a U.S. District Court in Detroit that he was not sorry because committing jihad against the United States is one of “the most virtuous acts” a Muslim can perform, according to reports. He also reportedly warned his audience that if the U.S. continues its Mideast occupation, a calamity will befall the country.

INFOWARS.COM published a story discrediting Abdulmutallab’s plea, saying he was originally scheduled to plead innocent and call to the stand Kurt Haskell, who was also a passenger on Delta Flight 253. Haskell was prepared to testify that he had seen a suited man ask ticket agents whether Abdulmutallab could board the plane without a passport, according to a report on MLive.com.

The INFOWARS.COM article reads: “Abdulmutallab’s reversal now means that Detroit Attorney Kurt Haskell’s contention that the plot was, as in almost every other terror case made public, a product of government entrapment, and that the US intelligence establishment was involved in the aborted attack, will now remain buried, at least for the time being.”

Cain, Romney Lead In Recent Polls

Two recent polls show former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney ahead of other candidates but neck and neck with one another when it comes to preference among likely 2012 GOP primary voters.

In Virginia, the Quinnipiac University Poll that was released Tuesday shows Cain and Romney sharing first choice among voters with 21 percent favorability each. They are followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry who only 11 percent of those polled said they would vote for, less than half than in the same poll a month ago.

“Herman Cain is moving up the ladder at breakneck speed. His 21 percent share of the GOP primary vote is more than three times the 6 percent he received when Quinnipiac University surveyed Virginians September 15,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute in a press release.

Of the other candidates Representative Ron Paul got 9 percent, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 7 percent each, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania had 2 percent and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman had 1 percent of the total votes cast.

In a poll released Monday by the American Research Group, Inc., on the 2012 primary outlook in South Carolina, Cain led Romney’s 25 percent by just 1 percentage point. In third place, Perry received 25 percent of votes cast followed by 12 percent for undecided voters, 8 percent for Gingrich, 7 percent for Paul and 1 or no percentage points for the other candidates.

 

 

Obama Vows To Pass Jobs Bill In Pieces

Despite President Barack Obama’s repeated recommendations that Congress “pass this bill,” Senate Republicans united against the President to ensure that what they have called a rehashing of his previous stimulus attempts died on the Senate floor.

A 50-49 tally that garnered support from a majority of the 100-member Senate but fell well short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill alive ended the President’s measure. As a result of the vote, Obama criticized Republicans for failing to support measures that they have in the past and vowed to pass the bill in pieces.

“Tonight’s vote is by no means the end of this fight. Independent economists have said that the American Jobs Act would grow the economy and lead to nearly 2 million jobs, which is why the majority of the American people support these bipartisan, commonsense proposals,” Obama said in a Tuesday night statement. “And we will now work with Senator Reid to make sure that the individual proposals in this jobs bill get a vote as soon as possible.”

Obama and his fellow Democrats’ new plan, it seems, is to break the bill apart and force Republicans to vote on some of the measures that Obama pulled from GOP playbooks in creating the jobs bill. Reports also indicate that some marriages of Republican and Democratic ideas may come to vote as smaller proposals.

“With each vote, members of Congress can either explain to their constituents why they’re against commonsense, bipartisan proposals to create jobs, or they can listen to the overwhelming majority of American people who are crying out for action,” Obama said.

 

 

Debate At Dartmouth Docile, Romney Shines In Media Eyes

In a roundtable-style debate Tuesday night at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, the 2012 GOP Presidential primary candidates were given a chance to highlight their economic ideas and opinions.

Some recurring themes among the candidates were evident over the course of the debate:

  • Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan came under scrutiny from other candidates.
  • Mitt Romney and Rick Perry continued their focus on one another.
  • Michele Bachmann spoke several times but failed to say anything very specific except that she disagreed strongly with Obamacare.
  • Jon Huntsman joked throughout the debate, as he has in past debates.
  • Rick Santorum fell back on his familiar message that the economy rests on the working man.
  • Newt Gingrich attacked protestors, politicians and the media.
  • Ron Paul was largely ignored.

The economic focus of the debate gave Cain an ideal forum for again contending that his reworking of the U.S. tax plan via his 9-9-9 plan — 9 percent business flat tax, 9 percent personal income tax, 9 percent national sales tax — could provide economic recovery. Huntsman poked fun at the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO, saying that when he first heard of the plan, he thought it was a deal at a pizza joint.

The roundtable style of the debate gave the candidates the opportunity to interact and to question one another more than other debate formats, but the answers often appeared less informative than the questions.

Bachmann took a swing at Perry midway through the debate: “Well, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan produced an economic miracle, and while all of us were wishing and yearning for a third term for Ronald Reagan, Governor Perry, you were campaigning and co-chairing Al Gore’s election campaign for president of the United States,” she said. “You went on to increase spending in Texas by over 50 percent… How can we trust you to not go down the Obama way and overspend and pay for that spending with indebtedness on the backs of the next generations?”

Romney also endured several comments comparing him to Barack Obama, as the other candidates focused on Romneycare and his past history as a corporate businessman.

Santorum focused on candidates that supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that provided what he called “the single biggest government intrusion into the private sector,” the Wall Street banker bailouts.

“The interesting thing here is, is the four people on this panel that actually supported TARP at the time of its passage are the people who say that they are the anti-Washington candidates, that they are the business candidates.,” he said. “… [T]he four people were Governor Huntsman, Governor Perry, Herman Cain, and Governor Romney.”

Mainstream media reports mostly declared the Dartmouth College debate to be a Romney victory, using terms like “unshakeable frontrunner,” but in the place of Perry they have placed Cain as the No. 2 favorite despite skepticism about his 9-9-9 plan.

Ron Paul Supporters Decry Media Bias

The mainstream political establishment and the media are terrified of Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s popularity among Americans who are frustrated about “business-as-usual” politics, the candidates’ supporters point out.

On ronpaulforums.com, posters put on display the mainstream media’s collective effort to discredit every victory that Paul enjoys. A series of screenshots from various news media sources reporting on last weekend’s Values Voter Straw Poll are posted on the forum, each of the stories indicate that Paul won by accident or trickery.

The Washington Post, FOX, CBS, POLITICO, The Atlantic, Business Insider, The Daily Beast, New York Magazine, Hot Air, MSNBC, The Associated Press, The Boston Globe, Forbes  and several more well-established news media outlets all implicate Paul as a kook, fringe candidate and poll cheat.

Jack Hunter, who writes the PAULITICAL TICKER, took note of the media’s penchant for ignoring Paul:

“I’ve often joked that when Ron Paul gets to the White House, the media will declare the presidency irrelevant and focus on how Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and other establishment candidates represent the future of the Republican Party.”

Big Brother Can Access Email Without Warrant

Government officials investigating the WikiLeaks controversy have made one thing evident with the investigation: They do not believe it violates the 4th Amendment to search information on cellphones and in emails without a warrant or even notification of the person being searched.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the government has obtained a secret court order to force Google Inc. and small Internet provider Sonic.net Inc. to turn over information from the email accounts of WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum. The smaller company fought the order but lost, and both were required to release partial emails and addresses of those with whom Appelbaum had corresponded with over the past two years.

The article said the order vindicates suspicions many people have about the government’s ability to peek into individuals’ email accounts and observe online tendencies without their ever knowing they were investigated. The law that is supposed to protect Internet users from Big Brother’s spying eyes, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, was passed in 1986, before the World Wide Web existed.

The government has also considered using cellphone GPS to pinpoint the location of individuals without their knowledge, a process that a Federal court called “Orwellian” when it overruled a government request to obtain cellphone location records without a warrant.

Rare Earth Minerals For Green Tech Put U.S. In Foreign Hands

As the “green energy” movement continues, there is some indication that rare earth minerals necessary for the production of green technologies are going the route of controversy in the geopolitical sphere.

At a meeting of the U.S. Geological Society (USGS) attended by politicians and political policymakers of all sorts, Professor Roderick Eggert of the Colorado School of Mines sought to explain the extreme rarity of minerals needed for green technology. The consequence of pushing green technology is that the U.S. is subject to the exportation policies of countries such as China which have rich stores of rare earth metals.

The USGS uses the example of China’s exhibition of a stranglehold on neodymium, a substance used in wind generators, when it restricted export of the substance last year. The result was a much lower neodymium price in China that allowed the country to both export the rare earth mineral at a high price and produce more wind technology than other countries.

“Among the basics that need to be grasped to understand the current state of affairs is how rare these minerals and elements really are. Some are plentiful, but only found in rare places or are difficult to extract. Indium, for instance, is a byproduct of zinc mining and extraction. It is not economically viable to extract unless zinc is being sought in the same ore,” Eggert explained in a press release. “Others are just plain scarce, like rhenium and tellurium, which only exist in very small amounts in the Earth’s crust.”

The USGS contends that the U.S. must either find ways to use less of these rare earth minerals or seek them in countries with fair trading policies.

Perry Practicing, Polishing For Debates

After three debate performances that portrayed Texas Governor Rick Perry as bumbling and unprepared, he is reportedly using at least a portion of his massive $17 million in campaign funds to polish his image for future rhetorical showdowns.

According to a recent New York Times report, the Governor is practicing for the debates to come by “re-examining” his statements of position on immigration issues and getting ready for attacks from other GOP contenders who have rallied against him in past debates. Reportedly, a Perry aide even acts as a stand-in for Mitt Romney — the candidate’s media-proclaimed adversary — in practice debates.

Most reports indicate that Perry’s strategy for winning the GOP primary is focused on highlighting the Texas economy, vilifying Romney as a wealthy, Mormon elitist and painting himself as the honest, straightforward “everyman.”

Perry’s latest campaign ad, a selection of clips from Romney speeches, proclaims of the former Massachusetts Governor: “Even the richest man cannot buy back his past.” Some people contend that this is a bold statement for a candidate who has been criticized for an executive order in Texas requiring teenage girls to get vaccinations, questionable relationships to Texas lobbyists who largely contributed to his gubernatorial campaigns and an immigration policy that provides tuition assistance for illegal aliens in Texas.

Perry refuses to acknowledge his critics; he recently said in an interview with PARADE magazine when asked what he thought of those who question his electability: “Well, I disregard that. Americans are looking for somebody to stand up and tell them the truth, and I have a record to back it up. Ultimately, if I can explain my heart, my jobs record, and my philosophy to Americans, I’m pretty confident that I’ll win.”

Iran Backed Terrorist Plot Foiled, Holder Says

According to the Department of Justice, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials have foiled an Iranian-backed terror plot on the United States.

A plot including the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, with a bomb and more bomb attacks on the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington, D.C., was stopped by investigators, according to reports. Bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were also discussed, officials say.

Manssor Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen who holds an Iranian passport, was arrested last month in New York and is accused of working with members of an arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to devise an international murder-for-hire scheme targeting the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, according to the Department of Justice. He is alleged to have orchestrated a $1.5 million assassination plot with Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian-based co-conspirator.

Because of ties to Iranian militant groups, Attorney General Eric Holder said that this is a violation of international law.

“In addition to holding these individual conspirators accountable for their alleged role in this plot, the United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions,” he said.

The two men are charged with conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism. Arbabsiar has been in law enforcement custody since Sept. 29; Shakuri remains in Iran.

Value Voters Choose Paul; Romney, Perry Get Personal

The Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., over the weekend gave Mitt Romney and Rick Perry further opportunity to continue their headline sparring match, shifting focus from jobs and the economy to Romney’s Mormonism.

Headlines since the Values Straw Poll have heavily focused on a single moment when megachurch preacher Robert Jeffress introduced Perry by criticizing Romney’s faith.

“Mormonism is not Christianity,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “It’s not politically correct to say, but Mormonism is a cult.”

Though most headlines are focusing on Perry and Romney, the actual results of the poll tell a different tale, one that says voters — even evangelical Christian voters — are more worried about real issues than about where their candidate chooses to worship.

Ron Paul won the Value Voters Straw Poll by a comfortable 37 percent. He was followed by Herman Cain with 23 percent and Rick Santorum with 16 percent. The other candidates earned only single-digit percentages. Romney garnered only 4 percent of attendees’ votes, and Perry won only 9 percent of the vote.

 

Alex Jones: Cops Prove Federal Reserve Does Not Belong To The People

Texas-based radio host Alex Jones has posted a video on his website INFOWARS.COM that he is asking individuals to “spread like wildfire.” The video shows San Antonio police advising Jones and a handful of protesters to leave the private property of the Federal Reserve Bank.

“Doesn’t this look like a Post Office? It’s got Federal seals on it,” Jones chided the officers. “It says Federal Reserve; it’s like counterfeiting or something.”

As the officers assured Jones that the building was indeed private property and that he and his supporters needed to cross to a public street to continue their demonstration, the radio host seized the opportunity to make his point.

“You’ve been super nice, you’re right,” Jones told the officer who asked him to leave. “Some people thought it was like a park because it looks like a Post Office.”

Jones went on to tell the crowd that until there was an audit on the Fed, it would indeed remain private property: private property owned by a “mafia, a criminal cartel.” At a similar protest two days earlier, Jones asked the police officers who were present to investigate why a bank called “Federal” was considered private.

“Does that sound like crime to you? Private property, Federal Reserve. Investigate it, there’s the criminals right there.” Jones said. “You’re here guarding the private, offshore Rothschild bank from evil Americans, evil, evil Americans… I’ve read the Homeland Security reports and they tell cops that the Federal Reserve is Federal and that we’re raving lunatics. Really their charter is private.”

 

 

California: Open Carry Makes People Nervous

In California, a law that allowed for the open-carry of unloaded handguns was overturned on Monday by Governor Jerry Brown.

According to a POLITICO report, the decision stems from complaints from police chiefs and sheriffs in the State who say that open carry makes too many citizens nervous.

“They are tied up dealing with calls from the public about gun-toting men and women in the coffee shop,” California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who introduced the bill, said according to the news outlet. “As law enforcement officials tell me, it’s not safe and someone is going to get hurt.”

In the weeks leading up to the new rule, gun rights activists have gathered in large groups throughout the State brandishing their holstered firearms, which the article concedes “made many members of the public nervous.”

According to POLITICO, the Governor also signed other bills into effect in the past few days, including a State version of the DREAM Act; a bill banning the sale and possession of shark fins; a farm workers’ rights bill; a bill limiting the use of tanning beds for those under 18 years old; and a union-backed bill prohibiting grocery stores from selling beer, wine or liquor using self-checkout lanes.

 

Romney Campaign Promise: Grow Military, Look To Bush Years For Guidance

Republican GOP primary candidate Mitt Romney said on Friday that he would like to see the U.S. expand its military power and continue to be involved in conflicts overseas.

“This is America’s moment. We should embrace the challenge, not shrink from it, not crawl into an isolationist shell, not wave the white flag of surrender, nor give in to those who assert America’s moment has passed. That is utter nonsense,” Romney told cadets and others at The Citadel, South Carolina’s military college, according to the Associated Press.

The candidate reportedly promised to completely review the nation’s military policy but offered no specifics about how he would handle the decade-long conflicts in the Middle East.

 “This century must be an American century. In an American century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world,” Romney said. “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.”

There has been some speculation that the former Massachusetts governor is attempting to emulate George W. Bush’s foreign policy ideals to draw hawkish voters. Last week, Romney said that he had formed a team of foreign policy and national security advisors to help shape his campaign proposals. According to The Washington Post, the list is a who’s who of former Bush White House advisers.

Students In Iran Support Occupy Wall Street Protests

As the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement grows, it has gained support from some university students in Iran, according to an Iranian state-run media outlet.

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported that a group of Iranian university students began gathering outside the Swiss Embassy in Tehran last Thursday to offer their opinion of the events taking place in the U.S.

The Iranians were protesting the violent actions of New York City police officers against Occupy Wall Street protestors, saying that their actions were contradictory of the “statement of the U.S. officials in support of human rights.” The article also said that the Iranian students described the American protest as recognition by the American people that their government acts on behalf of a “Zionist lobby.”

According to the IRNA, the Iranian demonstrators shouted slogans such as:  “There is no more use for artillery, tank and Liberals” (sic), “Down with the U.S., Down with Israel”, “Liberal Democracy is finished” and “Confronting Islam is the last nail in the U.S. Coffin”. The gathering reportedly ended with the burning of an American flag and the “chanting of anti-U.S. and anti-Zionist regime mottos.”

President Barack Obama also weighed in on the OWS movement last week, saying that it “expresses the frustrations the American people feel.” The President said that protestors are justified in their anger at Wall Street bankers, and used rhetoric familiar to his Administration to denounce wealthy Americans. Some people speculate that the recent involvement of political activism groups like MoveOn.org in OWS demonstrations will lead to Obama’s use of the frustrated youths as an election vehicle as the 2012 election draws near.

Zogby: Cain Favorite Among Voters

A new Zogby poll shows Herman Cain leading the pack of GOP contenders by 20 percent and also besting President Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup.

The poll, which was conducted from Oct. 3-5, found that 38 percent of Republicans would vote for Cain if the primary had been held at the time of the poll. Favor with the candidate has nearly doubled since the same question was asked of potential voters back in June when only 15 percent said they would vote for Cain.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO is followed in the poll by Mitt Romney’s 18 percent and a tie for for third between Rick Perry and Ron Paul at 12 percent. All other candidates only garnered single digits among those polled.

When asked who they would vote for given the choice between Obama and a specific GOP candidate, Cain was the only one to beat the President. Of those polled, more than half believe that Obama is doing a poor job and nearly three-quarters said the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The poll gave Congress an overall approval rating of 12 percent.

The poll surveyed 1,581 voters online, with a margin for error of about 2.5 percentage points.

Insider Threat Task Force To Supplement Federal Cyber Security

President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Friday to strengthen the government’s cyber security protections to avoid classified document leaks by Federal insiders.

The order creates agencies that will train government employees to safeguard sensitive documents stored on computers and also to identify threats to classified information.

An Insider Threat Task Force, co-chaired by the attorney general and the director of National Intelligence and comprised of “the heads of, the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Information Security Oversight Office, as well as such additional agencies as the co-chairs of the Task Force may designate.”

The task force is to be a government-wide operation designed to identify threats to security within Federal agencies before documents can be leaked.

According to The Hill, the actions are in response to the leak of thousands of classified State Department cables by WikiLeaks last year. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, allegedly leaked the documents to the website after downloading them to a flash drive.

 The White House said that the move to create a new task force to monitor cyber security will also encourage interagency information sharing that will improve domestic security.

PACs May Become More Secret In 2012 Race, Experts Say

Because Florida and other early-voting states have moved their primaries into January, some campaign finance experts believe that the 2012 Presidential race may have loopholes for the first time allowing large, undisclosed corporate donations to be made through political action committees (PAC).

According to The Washington Post, the new schedule increases the possibility of outside spending groups running millions of dollars in ads in the final days of the races. No disclosure will be required until the contests are over.

Super PACs, the new type of political group that is unrestrained by spending and contribution limits, have the power and funding to run advertisements and promote the candidate of their choice with hundreds of millions in corporate and private funds. Depending on how the PACs decide to navigate Federal Election Commission (FEC) deadlines, all transparency in the 2012 race may be lost, according to some experts.

“There are more and more ways to keep things secret if you want to,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Post. “This is just another example of a way to make secret expenditures until after the election.”

The next disclosure deadline for super PACs is Jan. 31, when FEC reports covering the last six months of 2011 are due. Last week, Florida Republicans changed the State’s primary to Jan. 31, forcing Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to bump their dates into early January. This means that reports won’t be filed before votes in those States are cast.

Now by either confining spending to 19 days before the primary or switching to a monthly reporting schedule, PACs can leave voters in the dark as to which special interest groups are pushing their candidates.

Unemployment Insurance Claims Slow

Claims for unemployment insurance benefits grew more slowly than expected last week, giving a glimmer of hope that U.S. labor market conditions are improving.

The four-week moving average of claims fell by 4,000 last week to 414,000 and the number of people still receiving benefits under regular State programs after an initial week of aid dropped 52,000 to 3.7 million in the week that ended Sept. 24, according to CNBC .  

Initial claims for State unemployment benefits climbed 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 401,000, according to the Labor Department, from a revised 395,000 the prior week — the numbers are lower than the expected 410,000 that economists predicted in a recent Reuters poll.

Reuters also reported that after a stalemate in August, non-farm payrolls may have increased by about 60,000 last week; the gain is most likely reflected in the return of about 45,000 Verizon Communications employees who have been on strike.

The total number of Americans on unemployment dropped by 123,009 in the past month, down to 6.86 million, according to the article.

Despite the marginal gains in employment markets, CNBC reports that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday that the U.S. economy is “close to faltering” and that the central bank will take more steps to try to create growth.