Summertime Blues For Teen Job Seekers

If your teenager has neglected to find a summer job since the end of the school year this year, don’t be too disappointed: It may have more to do with the economy than motivation.

For the third year in a row, teens seeking summer employment face a hiring slump. In the summers of 2010 and 2011, economists say, teen hiring was at its lowest levels since World War II. This summer, the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 24.9 percent nationally; in some major metropolitan areas it’s much higher.

Federal stimulus money was given to some cities in 2009 and 2010 to create summer job opportunities for teens. But, in many cases, the funding dried up and has proved an unsustainable means of creating teenage jobs, according to reports.

According to Reuters:

Los Angeles – with the help of federal stimulus money – created around 15,000 summer jobs for teenagers in 2009 and 2010. But as the federal program ended, that was slashed to about 6,000 in 2011. It will not rise this year…

New York City had 52,000 summer jobs for teens in 2009. Now the program is half that size. It has five applicants for every job…

Washington, D.C.’s teenage unemployment rate was 51.7 percent, an analysis by research fellow Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policies Institute showed.

Even if summer jobs in retail establishments and parks are drying up due to a weak economy, there is some good news for teens looking for extra cash this summer. Less economy-dependent positions like baby-sitting, dog-sitting, housekeeping, lawn-mowing and collecting scrap metal can all fit well into the wide-open summertime schedule of teen job seekers with an entrepreneurial spirit who may have more flexibility than their job-seeking adult counterparts.

Border Patrol Union: Holder Must Resign

The union that represents Border Patrol agents, the National Border Patrol Council, wants its members protected: from Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder’s involvement and alleged dishonesty about Operation Fast and Furious — the fatally flawed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives-led “gunwalking” scheme that resulted in the death of one of their own, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, in 2010 — has led the union to call for Holder’s resignation.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that the National Border Patrol Council made the decision to call for the Attorney General’s resignation after a year of frustration stemming from how the Justice Department chose to handle the operation and neglected to take responsibility for its failures.

Shawn Moran, a vice president of the union who is based in the San Diego area, explained the decision to the newspaper.

“This is something that all of our guys are concerned about, because they know it could be any one of them,” Moran said.

“We take the risks that are out there naturally just being in law enforcement working across from Mexico in the condition it’s in right now,” he said. “But what you can’t accept is when your own government is allowing weapons into the hands of the people you’re confronting.”

The union reportedly represents 3,700 agents in Southern Arizona, where Terry was killed, and 17,000 nationwide.

The union is joined by a number of Republican legislators who have called for Holder to be removed from his position.

The announcement was made two days before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is scheduled to vote on whether to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding information related to the operation.

Holder was scheduled to meet with Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Tuesday evening in a bid to stave off the contempt vote. Issa said that Holder’s best-case scenario during the meeting would be for Congress to postpone the vote pending further disclosure of information regarding Fast and Furious.

World Governments Increasingly Demand Internet Censorship

Governments throughout the world are requesting that Internet companies censor large amounts of online content, and the usual suspects aren’t the only countries involved.

This from a new semi-annual transparency report put together by the search engine giant Google.

Much of the content that governments asked to have removed from the Internet was political in nature, and many of the requests were made by Western democracies that that are not typically considered proponents of censorship.

According to Google, Spain asked the company to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles critical of public figures. Poland asked for the removal of an article and eight links that directed users to the article that criticized a government agency. In both cases Google says it declined to comply.

Canadian officials asked the company to remove a video of a YouTube user who urinated on his passport and flushed it down the toilet, a request that was also disregarded.

In the United Kingdom, government officials said YouTube was hosting at least six videos that promoted terrorism. The company removed all of the videos. And in the United States, authorities asked Google to remove 187 Internet posts that they deemed to be harassing in content. Google reportedly complied with 42 percent of the requests.

Dorothy Chou, Google’s senior policy analyst, wrote in a blog post about the report:

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.

This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. Just like every other time, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – western democracies not typically associated with censorship.

Other countries that requested content removal include Pakistan, which unsuccessfully requested the removal of six YouTube videos that satirized its army and senior politicians, and Thailand, which asked for the removal of 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy — a violation of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. The company complied with 70 percent of the Thai requests.

Overall, Google complied with an average of 65 percent of court orders, as opposed to 47 percent of more informal requests in the six-month period covered by the report.

Ron Paul Supporters Will Fight Forever

Ron Paul spoke to his supporters last week and urged them not to give up demanding that the ideals of the Revolution he has helped to spark become main staples of the Republican platform when the party meets in Tampa, Fla., in August. But for many of Paul’s supporters, giving up has never been an option anyway.

In a video address last Friday, Paul sought to get his delegates ready for what will be the climax of his entire campaign when the Republican National Convention begins on Aug. 27. In the days following the convention’s kickoff, Paul’s delegates will have the chance to change the GOP in ways that suit their mission regardless of the Party’s pick.

Paul is urging delegates and supporters who will be in Tampa to gather on Aug. 26, the day before the convention starts, for a rally to organize in anticipation of the events taking place the following week.

“[The rally] will celebrate what we have done and to urge on and encourage all the delegates who will do their job at the convention, fight for our values, influence the platform and do whatever we can to promote the cause of liberty,” Paul said.

The candidate also expressed the importance of his supporters showing up in large numbers for this event to let the Republican establishment know that his contingent refuses to be ignored.

 

 

Paul’s supporters, who have seen several ups and downs during the campaign season, continue to work feverishly throughout the Nation to further their cause. Often, their enthusiasm in getting involved in GOP politics gives the impression that the establishment is getting annoyed.

Though the national media spent little time covering the events that unfolded at the GOP state convention in Louisiana, Paul supporters who attended the event say old guard Republicans in that State blatantly tried to silence them. According to a report from The Times-Picayune, GOP officials, worried that Paul’s supporters would hijack the event, changed party rules in the days preceding the convention and arranged for nine off-duty police officers and several plainclothes state troopers to attend the event for security.

According to the news report, the additional security was provided because the State’s GOP had received a tip that Paul’s supporters had “retained a militia.” But Paul supporter Nick Soniat tells the story a little differently.

“What they called a militia was actually two guys that we asked to attend to stand around our chairperson, because we knew that they [the GOP] were arranging private security, and we feared that they would simply remove our people,” Soniat told Personal Liberty. “But they were asked not to enter the room. So we spoke to the state troopers to ensure that no one would attempt to remove speakers as long as they acted within the rules. We were assured that they would not.”

The convention reportedly then denigrated into chaos. The result and the cause are explained in two different ways: one from the perspective of Paul supporters and one from GOP loyalists.

Ellen Davis, a Paul delegate, writes in a letter to the Louisiana GOP:

“You claim that the violence committed against representatives of the majority of convention delegates was justified because you were simply enforcing the convention rules. Those supplemental convention rules were adopted in a PRIVATE meeting held two days before the state convention in Shreveport. They entirely changed the scope of the agreed upon rules submitted to the Republican National Committee in October of last year.”

Paul’s supporters in the State claim — with convincing video evidence to back them — that the GOP’s hired officers assaulted the first Paul delegate to the convention, putting him to the ground and breaking his fingers in the process. Davis says the man, Henry Herford, was then arrested without ever being told he was violating the law. Herford was charged with the misdemeanor crime of entering and remaining after being forbidden.

Following Herford’s arrest, the delegates proceeded to elect a new chair and continued with the business of the convention. They reportedly elected a slate of 27 Paul supporters to fill 12 of the 18 district delegate slots and 15 of 20 at-large delegate slots, before certifying the results with the RNC. At the same time, State party leaders held their own convention in one corner of the room with about 30 delegates in attendance that had either been certified by the Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum campaigns. Local media are reporting that the minority convention also elected a slate of delegates. Paul supporters and the Louisiana State GOP will likely not know whose delegates will represent the State until the national Republican Party’s contest committee determines the legitimate delegation.

The Republican Party’s “antics,” as they were described in Louisiana, have become a common gripe among Paul supporters. So much so that a large number of delegates represented by the law firm of Gilbert & Marlowe in Santa Ana, Calif., filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California asking the court to decide:

[W]hether Plaintiffs are free to vote their conscience on the first and all ballots at the Federal Election known as the Republican National Convention or whether Plaintiffs are bound to vote for a particular candidate as instructed by Defendants’ State Party Bylaws, or State Laws, or the preference of political operatives.

The chairmen of every State’s Republican Party, as well as the State parties, are named as defendants in the case.

The plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Richard Gilbert, explained his clients’ motivation to Courthouse News: “When nominating someone for a federal office, all delegates must be free to vote their conscience. They don’t want to be bound to any candidate, or even be forced to vote for the nominee. To have a real convention, the delegates must have free will so that when they meet, they can persuade each other and then decide who to vote for.”

Gilbert said that GOP chairmen and organizers have changed the rules immediately before a convention — like in Louisiana — “and sometimes in the middle of one” to block the existence of a quorum or to “rig an outcome.”

Before a judge could rule a hearing or an injunction in the case, however, it must be determined whether a State nominating convention qualifies as a “Federal” election for purposes of applying Federal election and voting laws and that all of the named plaintiffs are indeed delegates to the national convention.

 

 

 

Despite the controversy that continues around the Paul campaign as the RNC draws near, it continues to realize delegate victories throughout the Nation. His supporters have taken over State Republican conventions in Nevada and Maine, and had a strong showing this weekend in Iowa.

With 100,000 supporters and a strong number of delegates expected to arrive in Tampa in August, Paul is certain his backers have a major chance to reshape aspects of the Republican Party. His success in doing so could mean that even if shaping the Party platform at the RNC is one of his last political undertakings, GOP officials will be in the company of people who appreciate the political philosophy he popularized for years to come.

Drones: Big Brother’s Eye In The Sky

Be they targeted assassinations with unavoidable collateral damage or crashes, U.S. drone missions have been responsible for a number of deaths that remains largely unknown by speculators and top U.S. officials alike.

A recent report from The Atlantic explains:

Estimates from anonymous Obama administration officials about many civilian casualties provide little clarity. In April 2009, a U.S. official claimed that “more than 400″ enemy fighters in Pakistan had been killed by drone strikes: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.” In addition, in May 2010 a U.S. counterterrorism official stated: “We believe the number of noncombatant casualties is under  30, those being people who were near terrorist targets, while the total for militants taken off the battlefield exceeds 500.” In August 2011, ABC News reported, “[A senior U.S. official] said that while the U.S. agrees around 2,000 suspected militants have been killed, the total civilian casualties are closer to 50.”

And now, local and Federal agencies are doing everything in their power to make drones commonplace here at home. A report Monday in The Washington Times explains that the Department of Homeland Security currently has more drones than it knows what to do with.

The Department’s inspector general released a report this week detailing how Customs and Border Patrol officials currently have acquired nine unmanned aerial vehicles and are awaiting a tenth, but have no real plan of how to use the potentially deadly machines. The agency uses the drones in part to patrol the country’s borders and reportedly also routinely conducts missions for the Texas Rangers, the U.S. Forest Service, the FBI and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But as Americans become ever more likely to see military-style drones flying over domestic airspace, concerns about privacy and safety abound.

The Associated Press reported Monday that a 44-foot unmanned Naval drone on a “routine maintenance flight” crashed near Bloodsworth Island, Md., in the Chesapeake Bay around 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C.

Is Mitt The Sh*t With Young Voters?

Urban Outfitters is a clothing store popular with young Americans who may fit into the young urban professional (yuppie), hipster or college crowd who in 2008 may have been labeled as synonymous with Barack Obama supporters.

Broken promises, adopting many of the war tactics of his predecessor and a dismal economic outlook for the future has seen Obama’s popularity with American youths fall sharply of late. A recent survey from the nonprofit, non-partisan Generation Opportunity shows that only 31 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of youth unemployment. Among the age group, 57 percent say they will learn more about the policy positions of the Presidential candidates in the 2012 election than they did in 2008.

That is why, perhaps, Urban Outfitters has released a lighthearted T-shirt that may help the GOP appear less stuffy to young voters who shun some of the social aspects of modern conservatism while embracing the fiscal and small government ideals of the right.

One shirt, sold in a stylish cut well fitted for young people, is emblazoned with the GOP’s elephant and reads “Mitt Is The Sh*t.”

Another pictures an oven mitt over the candidate’s last name.

The store also carries Obama merchandise.

Of note, however, is the Obama campaign offers about 18 Web pages of merchandise — ranging from merchandise specialized for women, youths, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, African-Americans, Latinos, nurses, environmentalists, Jews, golfers, outdoor furniture, kitchen goods and fashion accessories designed by big-name fashion designers among other things — on its website. The Romney campaign website offers only one page of merchandise that includes bumper stickers, sweatshirts, T-shirts, ball caps and other traditional campaign fodder.

Obama Is Falling Apart, Losing Friends

Things have not been going as well as the Administration of President Barack Obama likely wishes they were in recent weeks, and the President seems to be taking heat from people across the political spectrum.

Last Friday, Obama held a press conference about the economy. Later, Washington Post opinion writer Ed Rogers lambasted the President for giving a speech in which nothing was said. Rogers suggested Obama’s advisers give him some honest advice about his terrible performance.

Rogers writes:

If you are president of the United States and you don’t have anything to say, don’t have a press conference to say it.  If you’re the president of the United States and by Thursday it’s widely believed you’ve had one of the worst weeks of your presidency, take Friday off, and specifically avoid having a press conference.

Anytime you are president and you’re speaking in public at an ill-timed press conference after a bad week, try to have something to say, and do a good job in saying it.  I watched the whole thing, but it’s not easy to think of one useful thing that he had to say.  And what he said, he said very poorly.  Was it just me, or did the president seem a little dazed and confused?  He should have had a cup of coffee before the press conference.

Over at the left-leaning blog Crooks and Liars, pundits focused more on what the President did say as opposed to what he did not.

The blog states:

[W]hat bothered me about the entire briefing…is that Obama seemed out of it. There was no sense of urgency in his voice or demeanor that millions of people are hurting, are underwater on their mortgage payments—and are one paycheck away from ruin. And worst of all, in an election year, there was no discernible trace of anger that Republicans in the House are a big part of the reason.

And there was this comment from the President, which raised eyebrows among even from the writers at Huffington Post: “The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”

Huffington Post’s Luke Johnson points out:

As a political matter, the remark had all of the makings of a gaffe. The economy is Obama’s biggest weakness in his campaign for re-election, and the comment almost certainly did not help the president’s standing.

Obama released a statement later in the day seeking to “clarify” his remarks and make it “absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine.” The rest of the Nation knew this a week prior with the release of a dismal economic report followed by a drop in consumer confidence.

For many who want to see a new President take office in January, the Friday’s press conference sits perfectly atop a month-long accumulation of bad press for the current Administration.

In May, the Obama campaign asked Mayor Corey Booker of Newark, N.J., to appear on “Meet the Press” to act as a campaign mouthpiece. During the interview, Booker told a national TV audience the President’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at private-equity firm Bain Capital were “nauseating” and made him “very uncomfortable.”

Later, former Representative Artur Davis (D-Ala.), a close ally of President Barack Obama, switched parties and became a Republican — but only after criticizing the direction that the Democratic Party is headed.

Meanwhile, Republicans have recently began increasing pressure for investigation into suspected leaks of classified security information said to have been carried out to bolster Obama’s public image with regard to foreign policy. Among the information contained in the leaks are reports on U.S. cyber warfare against Iran, procedures for targeting militants for drone attacks and the existence of a double agent who penetrated a militant group in Yemen. Some lawmakers have called for an investigation to be carried out by a special counsel, independent of the Justice Department.

The Justice Department is dealing with some troubles of its own in connection with the highly publicized “gunwalking” scandal Operation Fast and Furious and whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress. A House committee looking into the ordeal has scheduled a contempt vote for June 20.

If it weren’t enough that he seems to be losing his luster with media and liberal bloggers while simultaneously being embroiled in controversy, Obama also seems to have lost some favor with his former number one fan: “Obama Girl” Amber Lee Ettinger.

Ettinger, the young model and actress who became an Internet sensation during the 2008 Presidential election after making a love song for Obama, says she is “not as excited as I was the last time, that’s for sure.” She subsequently declined to tell The Daily Caller that she supported Obama for re-election.

Greens Want Lead Out Of Ammo

Environmentalists have taken to Federal court to demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overstep its authority and regulate lead ammunition.

The Trumpeter Swan Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and five other groups seek judicial review of the EPA’s denial of their petition in which the agency stated that regulating ammunition is beyond it authority.

The environmental groups want the EPA to go after lead ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act. The groups say that lead poisoning from ammunition frequently kills not only condors but eagles, swans, loons and other birds that feed on dead animals in the wild.

California prohibited the use of lead ammunition in the 15 counties considered condor territory in 2008, and Arizona wildlife officials offer hunters there free nontoxic copper bullets with hunting permits. Several other States have mandated nontoxic shotgun shot for upland game bird hunting and other partial bans on lead ammo.

But the groups want broader Federal regulation, saying the EPA for years has regulated lead as a toxic substance, so it is unclear why it refuses to do so for lead ammunition.

Ron Paul Republicans, A Party Anew

Last week, thousands of Ron Paul supporters likely cried “Judas” when the Presidential candidate’s son Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered his support for Mitt Romney.

But some within the Ron Paul Revolution don’t seem all that worried. The elder Paul himself recognized prior to the announcement that he didn’t have enough delegates to secure the Republican Party nomination; though, he has undoubtedly secured enough to have a place at the party convention (Paul predicts 500).

“My first choice had always been my father,” Paul told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last Thursday. “I campaigned for him when I was 11 years old. He’s still my first pick. But now that the nominating process is over, tonight I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be supporting Gov. Mitt Romney.”

While some members of the Ron Paul camp have expressed disdain at the turn of events, other Paul supporters are urging them to consider the bigger picture: Paul’s victory in the battle for the White House would pale in comparison to the chance his supporters have to redefine the Republican Party in coming years.

Reason’s Brian Doherty turns to Republican Party history to explain the movement that is under way, writing:

The Goldwater movement in 1960 was seen as too young, too radical and too outside the mainstream by the GOP establishment of its day.

The religious right during the 1988 Pat Robertson campaign was seen as an overly loud and pushy minority.

But just as those minorities grew and dominated the GOP, the libertarian-leaning energy of the Ron Paul movement is primed to shape the future of the Republican Party.

With their unique seriousness about reining in a government drowning in debt, neither the Republican Party nor the country can afford to ignore the concerns of Paul’s devotees.

Paulitical Ticker blogger Jack Hunter explains more here:

Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who wants his 267 delegates to get piece of the convention action, has noted that a fight within the GOP is already under way.

“I want to make sure that our delegates have an opportunity to come, many of these folks were great volunteers and workers for us and I want to make sure they have the opportunity to experience that convention, and we have other candidates who have delegates coming who, let’s put it this way, may have a different approach, particularly to the platform,” Santorum said speaking to a conservative group last Friday.

Santorum will likely get his fight. In a campaign email last week, Paul urged his delegates to prepare to head to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this August.

“I hope every one of you continues the fight we have advanced so well this year.  I hope you will finish your local and state conventions, and, if you were selected as a national delegate, that you will head to Tampa in August to force the Republican Party to listen to the voice of liberty,” said the correspondence. “We have never had this kind of opportunity.  There will be hundreds of your fellow supporters in Tampa who will be ready and willing to push the Republican Party back to its limited government, liberty roots.”

The Republican National Committee is already bracing itself to deal with Paul supporters who want to reshape its policies. A three-day festival directly preceding the convention in honor of Paul was put on hold last week because the RNC — which controls most of the free space in Tampa the week of the convention, including the fairgrounds where the festival was scheduled to be held — has for now blocked approval for the event.

If the RNC blocks the event, there is a possibility that it will have 20,000 angry Paul supporters who were expected to attend spread throughout Tampa and a swarm of unhappy delegates attending the convention. It could mean serious bad press surrounding the weeklong Romney love-fest.

Obama, Kim Jong Un: Cool, Youthful Leaders

What do President Barack Obama and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have in common?

Many ultra-conservatives may say a great deal. But last week, the two illustrated at least one distinct likeness that all people, regardless of political views, would likely agree on: They both understand the importance of focusing on their respective Nation’s younger generations to garner and build support.

According to Young America’s Foundation, Obama has spent one out of every 11 days of late visiting college campuses. The President has attempted in his visits to institutions of higher learning to convince students that he has endured similar struggles to those they may be exposed to right now as they take on student debt and worry about the jobless economy they will face when they graduate. Reports indicate that his claims about his own struggles, however, are vastly inflated.

Knowing that many young people opt to spend their time consuming the latest entertainment news rather than trolling political blogs, Obama has also leaned heavily on Hollywood to garner youth support. It is no secret that the President enjoys rubbing elbows with members of Tinseltown’s old guard like George Clooney and Jon Bon Jovi, but an event last Thursday shows that he wants young Hollywood on his side as well. A story in The Hollywood Reporter last week said that Obama met privately at the Beverly Hilton with two dozen of Hollywood’s popular young stars to urge them to get involved in his re-election campaign.

Some of the names on the list included “The Avengers” star Jeremy Renner, “Glee” actress Dianna Agron, “Star Trek’s” Zachary Quinto, “Southland’s” Ben McKenzie, Jessica Alba, Bryan Greenberg, Adam Rodriguez, Zach Braff, Brandon Routh, Ian Somerhalder, Jared Leto, Kal Penn and Sophia Bush. All are stars that many people in the coveted 18-24 voter bloc know by name. The publication reports that the meeting was part of the Obama re-election campaign’s “Young America Effort,” organized to build support and turnout among the younger voters who were key to the President’s election four years ago.

Across the world in North Korea, the country’s new young leader, Kim Jong Un, has in the past several months focused on the youths of his own Nation. Kim has reportedly visited schools, the zoo and a Pyongyang funfair. And last week, he spent time singing the praises of the country’s Children’s Union, which youngsters join at age 7 until moving at 13 to the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League.

One of the most often used political memes for several decades has been “children are our future.” Both Obama and Kim – and, undoubtedly, political leaders all over the world — know that there is truth to the expression. Whether the goal is to garner support for winning elections in the short term or cementing a political ideology in the long term, youth support is invaluable.