Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Today's Links

1--Worst president since WWII? New poll says it's Obama, RT

Poor polling results keep rolling in for President Barack Obama, with a new survey showing that a plurality of American voters think he is the worst chief executive in the modern era.
According to a new Quinnipiac University poll conducted between June 24 – 30, roughly 33 percent of Americans believe Obama is the worst president since World War II. These numbers are even worse than his predecessor, George W. Bush, who 28 percent of voters pegged as the worst.

"Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of Quinnipiac University's polling unit. ...

 Although the president’s rating went up two points to 40 percent, his performance in specific areas was largely underwater. Fifty-three percent disapproved of his performance, while 54 percent believe his administration is not competent when it comes to running the government. ...

A new Gallup poll, meanwhile, found that among all living US president's, Obama's favorability has dipped below that of George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

2--Why You Feel Poorer, zero hedge

You feel poorer because you are poorer.

In the last fourteen years, has your income increased over 50%? If you think it has, has it done so after taxes? Even if it has, you likely have not kept up in terms of inflation.

If you are a retiree, living on fixed income, a pension or bonds, you certainly have become poorer. If you had bought the Dow-Jones on 12/31/1999 you would have entered at about 11,500. It closed last week at less than 17,100. That would have been an appreciation of 6,600, better than 50%. But, of course, that was before taxes.

3---US-backed regime retakes Slavyansk, threatens bloodbath in eastern Ukraine, wsws

The war being waged against the people of southeastern Ukraine by the Kiev regime is an indictment of the politically criminal policy of Washington, Berlin and their European allies, who encouraged a far-right putsch to topple a pro-Russian government and install a pro-Western government. Now, in a major European country with a population of nearly 50 million, the government is employing heavy weaponry to destroy cities in an attempt to annihilate popular opposition.

4--Public Faith in Congress Falls Again, Hits Historic Low, Gallup

Of major U.S. institutions, Americans most confident in the military

Americans' confidence in Congress has sunk to a new low. Seven percent of Americans say they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress as an American institution, down from the previous low of 10% in 2013. This confidence is starkly different from the 42% in 1973, the first year Gallup began asking the question.
Confidence in Congress since 1973

5--The 17,000 Dow: Surging towards a disaster, wsws

The rise of Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average to an all-time high above 17,000 last week is another sign of the explosive contradictions building up within the American and global financial system.
Since hitting its low point of 6,547 on March 9, 2009 following the financial crash of September 2008, the Dow has climbed by more than 10,000 points, and is now over 250 percent what it was barely five years ago.

At the same time, following the official recession of December 2007 to June 2009, US gross domestic product has experienced its worst “recovery” of any comparable period since World War II, with output falling by almost 3 percent in the first quarter of this year. Investment in the real economy remains stagnant as corporations pile up cash rather than expand productive activity, and use the money to fund share buy-back operations, mergers and acquisitions and other, essentially parasitic, financial operations.

Internationally, the situation is no better or, in some cases, worse. Large segments of the economies of the advanced countries are either experiencing stagnation or outright recession. Output in the euro zone has yet to return to the levels of 2007.
According to calculations by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), a consortium of the world’s central banks, the output of the major economies is around 8 percent below where it would have been had pre-2008 trends continued.

6--McFaul 2.0: Ukraine "color" revolution architect Tefft coming to Russia, ria, ru

The choice by US President Barack Obama and the neo-conservative Cold War hawks running the US foreign policy establishment of John F. Tefft as the new US Ambassador to Russia should be setting off warning bells all over the Kremlin and in fact in all of the countries currently undergoing or targeted for US regime change/destabilization operations including Venezuela, Brazil, Syria and all other countries pursuing an independent foreign policy. With the current humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine and the rise of violent fascist forces, the fact that the chief architect of Operation Ukraine is now being sent to Russia is at once chilling and at the same time predictable.

After the spectacular failure of US Ambassador Michael McFaul to pull off a color revolution in Russia leading to his demise as the US top color revolution/destabilization specialist, the US as usual, rather than admitting it is wrong and pursuing a path of peace and promoting mutual cooperation, has decided to stubbornly snub its nose at the Kremlin and continue down a road of confrontation.

7--Price tag for the American dream: $130K a year, USA Today

...three-quarters of Americans polled by the Brookings Institution in 2008 said the dream was harder to attain.

They're right to worry. An analysis by USA TODAY shows that living the American dream would cost the average family of four about $130,000 a year. Only 16 million U.S. households — around 1 in 8 — earned that much in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In an interview, co-author Thomas Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University, stressed that for the dozens of people they surveyed and interviewed, the American dream was not about becoming one of the 1%.

"It's not about getting rich and making a lot of money. It's about security," he said. It's also as much about hope for the next generation as it is about the success of this one. "They want to feel that their children are going to have a better life than they do," said Hirschl.
In their book, the authors write that besides economic security, the American dream includes "finding and pursuing a rewarding career, leading a healthy and personally fulfilling life, and being able to retire in comfort

8---Americans are down on America, yahoo

We’re No. 33!
That’s the bottom line in a new Gallup poll measuring the extent of freedom in 135 countries. Only 79% of Americans say they’re satisfied with their freedom to choose what to do with their lives, down from 87% in 2008. The top five nations where people feel most satisfied with their freedoms are New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. At No. 33, the United States is sandwiched between Bahrain and Cameroon.

Gallup doesn’t define “freedom” in this poll, so citizens of different countries are likely to interpret the word differently. That’s why Cambodians — enjoying peaceful elections as they recover from years of war  — rank among the top five. Still, changes over time show whether people in a given nation feel their freedoms are improving or deteriorating.

The United States is one of the few places where freedoms appear to be on the wane. Of the 100 countries where Gallup measured changes in freedom during the past five years, 75 of them registered an improvement, while 21 registered a decline. Four stayed the same. Of the decliners, only five nations report sharper drops than the United States. Two of them — Syria and Afghanistan — are dominated by armed uprisings. Two others — Tajikistan and Thailand — are racked with political turmoil. Luxembourg, the most prosperous of the decliners, has become a target of U.S. and European authorities going after tax evaders with foreign accounts.

9---Jobs return, but low pay remains a problem, yahoo

10---A Potential Foreclosure Crisis Looms Over America, alternet

Local governments, however, could resort to tactics such as eminent domain if the federal government won't do anything

4 Reasons Why Homebuyers Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief

by Nela Richardson | June 27, 2014
There’s been a dramatic change in the housing market lately, and it’s almost all good news for homebuyers. As we head into summer, here are a few thoughts to consider:
  • There are more homes for sale in 2014, with inventory up 9 percent. Sellers are working harder to get their homes fixed up, so some of these places look pretty good.
  • And you have a better chance of being able to buy one, with bidding wars down by double digits.
  • More good news, prices have stopped going up so quickly.  We predict prices to increase by just 6 percent in 2014, making it much easier for you to find a good deal on a home than when prices surged by 13 percent last year.
  • And mortgage rates are at 4.1 percent, less than half the 30-year historical average of 8.7 percent; for a $500,000 house, this is worth more than $500 a month in mortgage payments.
What Redfin Agents are seeing is homebuyers who have become more disciplined than before, still pouncing on the A+ homes in the best school districts, but being more careful with the up-and-comers

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