Category - Newswire

Jobs Report Disappoints, Participation Rate Falls to Lowest Since 1977

Bloomberg Business, By Sho Chandra, July 2

The U.S. labor market took one step forward and one back in June as job creation advanced while wages stagnated and the size of the labor force receded.

The addition of 223,000 jobs followed a 254,000 increase in the prior month that was less than previously estimated, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The jobless rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent as more people left the workforce.

The figures indicate corporate managers are confident they can temper hiring and meet demand against a backdrop of stronger consumer spending and feeble overseas markets. At the same time, more moderate job gains may still be enough to reduce the unemployment rate, consistent with the Federal Reserve’s perceived timetable to raise borrowing costs by year-end.

“One month’s low number wouldn’t shake our optimism,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “The job market still has a ways to go but we’re making progress.”

Defiant Varoufakis Says He’ll Quit If Greeks Endorse Austerity

Bloomberg Business, By Matthew Campbell & Guy Johnson, July 2

Yanis Varoufakis said Greece won’t “extend and pretend” that it can pay its debts, vowing to quit as finance minister if voters don’t support him in Sunday’s referendum.

With banks shuttered and Greece’s economy hobbled by capital controls, Varoufakis said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Athens that he would “rather cut my arm off” than sign a deal that fails to restructure Greece’s debt. The 54-year-old economics professor said he “will not” continue in his post if Greece endorses austerity in the plebiscite.

The minister’s comments illustrate the gulf between Greece’s government, which swept into office on a wave of discontent about budget cuts, and the creditors who are threatening to push it out of the euro. European governments led by Germany have condemned last weekend’s decision by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to pull out of talks and call a snap referendum on the conditions for financial aid. Polls suggest it’s too close to call.

“Maybe we’ll change the configuration of the government”

“We desperately want to stay in the euro,” Varoufakis said. “We are going to win on Sunday.”

Short video interview with Varoufakis at the link.

Via Zero Hedge: Varoufakis Will Resign If Referendum Passes, Says Would Rather “Cut Off Arm” Than Sign

Record 137,000 migrants crossed Mediterranean

Reuters, July 1

More than 135,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea in the first half of 2015, with most of the burden being borne by countries in southern Europe, according to a new report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“Desperate people resort to desperate measures and unfortunately … the numbers are expected to continue to soar,” said Brian Hansford, a spokesperson for UNHCR.

The number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe in the first six months of 2015 increased more than 80 percent increase from the same time period in 2014, the UNHCR report said.

US, Cuba to announce embassy openings after 50-year stalemate

RT, July 1

US President Barack Obama will announce on Wednesday that the United States has reached an agreement with Cuba to reopen embassies in their respective capitals of Washington and Havana, according to American officials.

The United States severed political ties with Cuba in 1961 after imposing an embargo on the island nation just 90 miles south of Florida a year before. Tourism to Cuba for Americans has been banned since that time. Though Cuba is still under communist rule, the Cold War mentality that has defined the relationship between the two countries over the last 50 years at last seems to be thawing.

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, chief of the US interests section in Cuba, will meet Cuba’s Interim Foreign Minister Marcelino Medina in Havana on Wednesday to deliver a letter from President Obama to Cuban President Raul Castro regarding the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations, Cuba said in a statement on Tuesday.

Puerto Rico’s Governor Says Island’s Debts Are ‘Not Payable’

New York Times, By Michael Corkery & Mary Williams Walsh, June 28

Puerto Rico’s governor, saying he needs to pull the island out of a “death spiral,” has concluded that the commonwealth cannot pay its roughly $72 billion in debts, an admission that will probably have wide-reaching financial repercussions.

The governor, Alejandro García Padilla, and senior members of his staff said in an interview last week that they would probably seek significant concessions from as many as all of the island’s creditors, which could include deferring some debt payments for as long as five years or extending the timetable for repayment.

“The debt is not payable,” Mr. García Padilla said. “There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics, this is math.”

It is a startling admission from the governor of an island of 3.6 million people, which has piled on more municipal bond debt per capita than any American state.

Greece debt crisis: ECB ‘to end’ bank emergency lending

The European Central Bank is expected to end emergency lending to Greece’s banks on Sunday, the BBC understands.

BBC, June 28

Well-placed sources told BBC economics editor Robert Peston a decision to end the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) would be made by the ECB’s governing council later on Sunday.

Greek banks depend on ELA funds daily.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his government would consider overnight what measures to take “to minimise the burden on our people”.

Cutting the ECB lifeline could push Greece out of the euro.

Such an ECB cut would mean “Europe has failed”, Mr Varoufakis told the BBC’s World this Weekend.

Via Naked Capitalism: BBC: ECB to Stop Emergency Support of Greek Banks on Monday; Bank Holiday Likely

The Guardian: Greek crisis: Banks shut for a week as capital controls imposed – live updates

Greek banks will not open until July 7 in an attempt to avoid financial panic, after ECB capped the emergency funds keeping them running



The world is defenceless against the next financial crisis, warns BIS

Monetary policymakers have run out of room to fight the next crisis with interest rates unable to go lower, the BIS warns.

The world will be unable to fight the next global financial crash as central banks have used up their ammunition trying to tackle the last crises, the Bank of International Settlements has warned.

The so-called central bank of central banks launched a scathing critique of global monetary policy in its annual report. The BIS claimed that central banks have backed themselves into a corner after repeatedly cutting interest rates to shore up their economies.

These low interest rates have in turn fuelled economic booms, encouraging excessive risk taking. Booms have then turned to busts, which policymakers have responded to with even lower rates.

Claudio Borio, head of the organisation’s monetary and economic department, said: “Persistent exceptionally low rates reflect the central banks’ and market participants’ response to the unusually weak post-crisis recovery as they fumble in the dark in search of new certainties.”

Black Churches Are Burning Again in America

This week, there were fires in at least six predominantly African American churches. Arson at religious institutions has decreased significantly over the past two decades, but the symbolism remains haunting.

The Atlantic, By Emma Green, June 25

“What’s the church doing on fire?”

Jeanette Dudley, the associate pastor of God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia, got a call a little after 5 a.m. on Wednesday, she told a local TV news station. Her tiny church of about a dozen members had been burned, probably beyond repair. The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco got called in, which has been the standard procedure for church fires since the late 1960s. Investigators say they’ve ruled out possible causes like an electrical malfunction; most likely, this was arson.

The very same night, many miles away in North Carolina, another church burned: Briar Creek Road Baptist Church, which was set on fire some time around 1 a.m. Investigators have ruled it an act of arson, the AP reports; according to The Charlotte Observer, they haven’t yet determined whether it might be a hate crime.

Two other predominantly black churches have been the target of possible arson this week: Glover Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina, which caught fire on Friday, and College Hill Seventh Day Adventist, which burned on Monday in Knoxville, Tennessee. Investigators in Knoxville told a local news station they believed it was an act of vandalism, although they aren’t investigating the incident as a hate crime. (There have also been at least three other cases of fires at churches this week. At Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee, and the Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Officials suspect the blazes were caused by lightning and electrical wires, respectively, but investigations are still ongoing. A church that is not predominantly black—College Heights Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio—was burned on Saturday morning. The fire appears to have been started in the sanctuary, and WKYC reports that the cause is still under investigation. The town’s fire and police departments did not immediately return calls for confirmation on Sunday.*)

SPLC: String of Nighttime Fires Hit Predominately Black Churches in Four Southern States
Buzzfeed: Arsonists Strike Black Churches Across The South

Gawker: Racist Idiots Hold Pro-Confederate Flag Rallies Across the South
Raw Story: League of South leader: John Wilkes Booth ‘took too long’ to assassinate ‘treasonous’ Lincoln

Poppy yields the final secret to making morphine

Determining the last unknown step in the opiate chemical pathway came down to a single gene.

Science News, By Bethany Brookshire, June 25

The final puzzle piece in the chemical pathway that makes morphine has been identified, scientists report June 25 in Science. The work fills in the center piece in the path — the protein converting the compound (S)-reticuline to (R)-reticuline.

By analyzing poppy DNA and confirming its function in yeast, the researchers showed that a single gene produces an enzyme made of two parts, each of which controls a step of the conversion of reticuline.

This protein links the previously known beginning and end steps in the morphine-making pathway. Both the beginning and end steps have already been engineered in separate yeast strains. Putting the three parts of the pathway together will eventually result in yeast that produce morphine.

And maybe, just maybe, some really incredible poppy rolls.

Supreme Court rules [5-4] gay couples nationwide have a right to marry

Washington Post, By Robert Barnes, June 26

BREAKING NEWS: In a landmark victory for gay rights, a divided Supreme Court ruled that state prohibitions on same-sex marriage violate the Constitution.

The Supreme Court will be back at work Friday putting the finishing touches on a historic term, with one major decision completed and a landmark ruling on same-sex marriage to be announced.

The court on Thursday delivered a pair of decisions that delighted civil rights groups and the Obama administration. In one, it said that the protections of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 extend beyond policies that are intentionally discriminatory and forbid actions that appear neutral but have the effect of harming minorities.

More prominently, the justices upheld a major part of the Affordable Care Act that said subsidies intended to help low- and moderate-income Americans buy health insurance are available to all who qualify, not just to those who live in states that have set up insurance marketplaces.

Scotus Blog Live Blog

Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex.

Each of the four dissenters has written a dissent.

The Guardian’s Live Blog: Supreme court: gay marriage legal across the US – live updates

Decision: OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. [PDF]

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