U.S. middle-class incomes reached highest-ever level in 2016, Census Bureau says

The incomes of middle-class Americans rose last year to the highest level ever recorded by the Census Bureau, as poverty declined and the scars of the past decade’s Great Recession seemed to finally fade.

Median household income rose to $59,039 in 2016, a 3.2 percent increase from the previous year and the second consecutive year of healthy gains, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. The nation’s poverty rate fell to 12.7 percent, returning nearly to what it was in 2007 before a financial crisis and deep recession walloped workers in ways that were still felt years later.

The new data, along with another census report showing the rate of Americans lacking health insurance to be at its lowest ever last year, suggest that Americans were actually in a position of increasing financial strength as President Trump, who tapped into anger about the economy, took office this year.

Yet the census report also points to the sources of deeper anxieties among American workers and underscores threats to continued economic progress.

Middle-class households are only now seeing their income eclipse 1999 levels.

Inequality remains high, with the top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income, a record. And yawning racial disparities remain, with the median African American household earning only $39,490, compared with more than $65,000 for whites and over $81,000 for Asians.

Economists and policy experts wonder whether the gains will continue. The median income had surged since 2014 because millions more Americans found full-time jobs, but there is little evidence that employers are rushing to offer raises to those who already are employed. Without more wage gains, momentum could slow.

Meanwhile, the rate of people without health insurance declined only slightly last year, to 8.8 percent, the Census Bureau said.

The Trump administration is widely expected to cut back on programs that promote enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, meaning that the ranks of the 28.1 million uninsured Americans might grow.

“There’s a danger that this is as good as it gets,” said Peter Atwater, president of Financial Insyghts. “We are already at a 16-year low in unemployment. The likelihood of significant job growth from here is limited.”

Trump promised that a combination of tax cuts, infrastructure investment packages, renegotiated trade deals and the repeal of Obama administration regulations would deliver a burst of job creation and attendant economic growth.

So far, no such boom can be found.

In Trump’s first seven months, the U.S. economy has added about 25,000 fewer jobs per month than it did during the last seven months of Barack Obama’s presidency. In a more positive sign, the gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3 percent in the second quarter of 2017, according to a federal report issued in late August.

Much of Trump’s agenda remains pending, however, either awaiting action by his administration or bogged down in Congress. And while most economists think it is too early in Trump’s term for his administration to have a measurable effect on the economy, there are real doubts about whether he will be able to enact his agenda, particularly after his health-care effort died in the Senate. Both his tax reform and infrastructure efforts face significant hurdles in Congress.

“Where is the extra progress going to come from? You have growing uncertainty that Washington will be able to create any sort of tax relief or infrastructure plan,” Atwater said.

For now, though, the economy is returning to pre-recession levels, as indicated by several benchmarks. The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in August, just about the same as pre-recession levels. And in July, U.S. employers had generated enough jobs to restore national employment to where it stood before the recession started in 2007, even after accounting for population growth in the intervening decade.

The household earnings are welcome news for the middle class, which, after leaps forward in the 1990s, struggled amid the slow overall growth of the early 2000s and was devastated by the recession.

The income increase extended to almost every demographic group, Census Bureau officials said. The figure the agency reported Tuesday was the highest on record. The agency reports that in 1999, median household income, adjusted for inflation, was $58,655. Agency officials cautioned that the bureau changed its methodology in 2014, complicating an exact historical comparison.

Julian West, of Phoenix, is one of the many Americans whose lives improved dramatically last year.

For much of the recovery, he could find only “dead-end” minimum-wage jobs at carwashes and discount stores.

“I was really struggling,” said West, 44, who was forced to move back in with his parents.

In 2016, he went to a temp agency in Phoenix and landed a job that paid $18 an hour. It did not last, but the recruiter called again and moved him to the job he has now at BB&T Bank monitoring car-loan payments and repossessions. The job pays $16 an hour, with ample opportunity for overtime pay, he said.

“I’m slowly saving and paying off bills,” West told The Washington Post. He recently moved into a small studio apartment, now that he’s earning $35,000 a year. “I’ll be middle class again if I keep my spending to bare bones.”

West credits Obama with bringing the economy back. He did not vote for Trump, but he hopes someone with the business experience of the president can help the working poor.

Many Americans are optimistic, as West is, that their fortunes will continue to improve. A Gallup poll released Tuesday found that 64 percent of Americans think their “standard of living” is improving, the highest percentage since the financial crisis, while only 19 percent feel their standard of living is declining.

“Today’s census report is unambiguously good news: on income, on poverty and on health insurance,” said Bob Greenstein, the founder and president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. “The goal should be to continue this progress.”


Sanders Condemns Shooting… But Look What We Dug up From Vicious 2016 Campaign



Though much of the violence that erupted at some of President Donald Trump’s election campaign rallies last year was later traced to leftist activists, then-Democrat primary candidate Bernie Sanders nevertheless blamed the businessman candidate for all of it.

“Trump should tone down his rhetoric and condemn the violence of some of his supporters,” the Vermont senator tweeted in March of 2016 after one of the GOP candidate’s supporters lost his cool on a liberal activist protester and sucker-punched him in the face.

It was later learned from an undercover investigation by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas that several liberal Political Action Committees had purposefully planned to provoke Trump supporters to violence so as to make Republicans look bad.

Take a look at Sanders’ tweet from 2016 below:

View image on Twitter

Trump should tone down his rhetoric and condemn the violence of some of his supporters.

That’s a fine sentiment, but the fact is, no matter what pieties Sanders preached, he and the Democrat Party have done precious little to live up to it — either during the heated days of the presidential campaign or in the months since Trump’s surprise upset over Hillary Clinton in November. From the weeks leading up to Trump’s inauguration, to Inauguration Day itself, and in all the time since, leftists who call themselves “The Resistance” have wreaked havoc in American political and social life.

It is conservatives and Trump supporters who have been violently, physically attacked by liberals, without a word of condemnation from the Democrat Party’s leaders.

In light of all that, Sanders’ advice to Trump hasn’t aged well at all.

Now, fast-forward to Wednesday, when a deranged liberal activist opened fire on a group of Republican congressmen and staff practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, for an upcoming baseball game with their Democrat peers.

Even after indisputable evidence surfaced showing that shooter James T. Hodgkinson had been a rabid Sanders supporter who did volunteer work in Sanders’ election campaign, the Vermont senator was giving himself an outlet he would have denied Trump last year. He even tried to cast down on the gunman’s support.

“I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign,” he said. “I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms.”

Wrong, Mr. Sanders. Hodgkinson was not “apparently” a volunteer on your election campaign. He was a volunteer, period.

And while you deserve zero blame for his hideous actions, it would have been nice had you followed the advice you gave Trump last year and urged your own supporters to calm their rhetoric. I mean, this is the second time that one of your supporters has lost his cool. The last time this happened, two people wound up dead.

Correction: It would be nice if you and all your peers would start calling out the violent rhetoric and actions of your own base — just like you demanded Trump do in the heat of the 2016 campaign.

As noted by Red Alert Politics contributor Siraj Hashmi, “(t)he Left and groups like Antifa have … increasingly (been using) violent tactics against Republicans and conservatives, and call(ing) everyone who disagrees with them a ‘Nazi’ or ‘white supremacist’ to justify their violent behavior.”

Anyone who would dare blame Sanders personally for Hodgkinson’s actions is a fool, of course. But so is anyone who denies that it’s time for the left to take a close look in the mirror.

Germany Spent €20 Billion on Invasion in 2016

The German government in 2016 provided €9.3 billion euros ($10.4 billion) to its sixteen states for assisting nonwhite invaders pretending to be refugees and a further €11 billion euros on welfare handouts in Third World countries in failed efforts to halt the flow.

(New Observer Online)

The figures are from a federal government report approved and published by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.

A total of €5.5 billion was spent on invaders who were seeking asylum and were not yet recognized by the state. The funds spent within Germany also went towards an “integration package” that cost €2 billion, while €400 million was spent on shelter for “asylum seekers” and €350 million on “unaccompanied minors.”


The state of North Rhine-Westphalia received the most funding (€1.2 billion), followed by Bavaria (€860 million) and Baden-Württemberg (€728 million)

The Federal Ministry of Finance announced that €11 billion were spent directly on “additional measures to fight the causes of forced migration and displacement.”

These measures include welfare and handouts in African states, none of which has made the slightest impact on halting the sub-Saharan invasion of Europe.

In fact, if anything, it has speeded up the invasion, as the Africans see for themselves that the Europeans apparently have an endless flow of cash they can throw about—and white-provided cell phone technology allows them to tell their families back home how well they are living once in Europe.

Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada set record in 2016, audit finds

MONTREAL — The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada set a record in 2016, rising by 26 percent over the previous year, according to an annual audit.

In total, B’nai Brith Canada recorded 1,728 incidents nationwide last year, according to its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents released Tuesday, compared to 1,277 incidents in 2015. The previous record was 1,627 in 2014.

The increase did not appear to have been affected by the election of Donald Trump as US president, B’nai Brith Canada said.

Possible reasons for the increase, the audit reported, included Holocaust denial on social media, university campus anti-Zionism and anti-Israel sentiment found in some Arabic newspapers.

The year 2016 saw a dramatic rise in incidents involving Holocaust denial, to 20% from 5% in 2015. In addition, a new trend in Canadian anti-Semitism was found to be incitement against Jews in the mass media, especially in Arabic-language publications.

“The findings of this year’s audit – that anti-Semitism has reached a record high in Canada – demonstrate the need for real, immediate and strong action,” B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said. “It is time to stop hoping that this problem will go away or take care of itself. It is time to deal real consequences to the purveyors of anti-Semitism, and to fight back.”

Quebec was the only province where incidents fell – to 249 in 2016 from 265 the prior year.

According to the audit, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Canada for the past decade, with only two years logging lower figures than the year before.

West Bank settlement construction up in 2016 — report

There were 2,630 housing construction starts in West Bank settlements in 2016, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a report Wednesday, in what marks a nearly 40 percent increase over 2015.

The publication of the statistics came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been seeking to reach an agreement with the US on new settlement construction.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu said there has been “significant progress” in talks on the issue with the US.

“The talks have not been completed, but there is progress and we will hear about it when we reach Israel,” he told reporters in China, where he was on a state visit, shortly before his plane took off for Israel.

After US President Donald Trump told Netanyahu that “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit” during a February meeting of the two leaders at the White House, the prime minister said he was working with the US administration to “establish a mechanism” to coordinate new settlement construction.

Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, Monday, March 13, 2017. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv)

However, despite reportedly discussing the issue at length with Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt during his visit to Israel last week, an agreement has yet to be reached.

Netanyahu said on Tuesday that “there are different viewpoints,” dispatched his chief of staff Yoav Horowitz to the US on Sunday in order to continue discussions on the issue with Greenblatt alongside Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.

Netanyahu also said on Tuesday he would not “negotiate” on halting construction of new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem as part of a deal with the Trump administration.

The settlement watchdog group Peace Now said that, based on the Central Bureau of Statistics report, the number of West Bank housing starts in 2016 was the second highest in the last 15 years, which the group said shows Israel is not genuinely interested in reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians.

“The sharp increase in settlement construction sends a clear message to the Palestinians and to the international community that Israel is not interested in a two-state solution,” Peace Now said in a statement Wednesday

“By speeding up settlement construction, Netanyahu is leading Israel towards becoming an apartheid state,” the group added.

אל מול אזהרות ראש המוסד לשעבר, דו”ח הלמ”ס מוכיח שנתניהו ממשיך לרצות מיעוט קיצוני ולהוביל את ישראל לחיסול פתרון 2 המדינות והרס החזון הציוני

According to Peace Now, settlement housing starts have averaged 1,790 a year since 2001 and the only year with a higher number of building starts than 2016 was 2013, when work began on 2,874 homes.

The group also said that since Netanyahu became prime minister in 2009, construction begun on 14,017 new houses in the West Bank.

The CBS statistics do not include housing starts in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Since Trump’s inauguration, Israel has approved the construction of some 6,000 news homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which unlike during the Obama administration were met with little fanfare from the White House, although no new building plans have been announced since Trump’s comments in February.

2016 was worst year yet for Syria’s children, UN says

BEIRUT — At least 652 children were killed in Syria in 2016, making it the worst year yet for the country’s rising generation, the United Nations’ child relief agency said Monday.

There was no letup to attacks on schools, hospitals, playgrounds, parks and homes last year as the Syrian government, its opponents and the allies of both sides showed callous disregard for the laws of war.

UNICEF said at least 255 children were killed in or near schools last year and 1.7 million youngsters are out of school. One of every three schools in Syria is unusable, some because armed groups occupy them. An additional 2.3 million Syrian children are refugees elsewhere in the Middle East.

The figures come in a UNICEF report released two days before the sixth anniversary of the popular uprising that escalated into civil war.

In this February 22, 2015, file photo, the Turkish army's armored vehicles and tanks drive in Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, as they return from the Ottoman tomb in Syria. (AP Photo/Mursel Coban)

In this February 22, 2015, file photo, the Turkish army’s armored vehicles and tanks drive in Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab, also known as Kobani, as they return from the Ottoman tomb in Syria. (AP Photo/Mursel Coban)

Children were among the first victims of the government’s brutal crackdown. On March 15, 2011, residents in the southern city of Daraa marched to demand the release of teenage students arrested for writing anti-government slogans on their school’s walls. They were tortured in detention.

The report warns that coping mechanisms and medical care are eroding quickly in Syria, driving children into child labor, early marriage and combat. Dozens are dying from preventable diseases.

A report released a week ago by the international charity Save the Children said Syrian youngsters are showing signs of “toxic stress” that can lead to lifelong health problems, struggles with addiction and mental disorders lasting into adulthood.

The use of child soldiers is on the rise in Syria, UNICEF said. At least 851 children were recruited by armed factions last year, more than twice compared to the year before.

Children across the country are at risk of severe injury while playing around landmines and cluster munitions. Demining operations in opposition-held areas have been severely hampered by inaccessibility to outside experts.

Record $1.1 billion in Israel Bonds sold in US in 2016

(JTA) — A record $1.127 billion in State of Israel Bonds was sold in the United States in 2016.

The Development Corporation for Israel, also known as Israel Bonds, issues debt securities by the government of Israel. Israel Bonds also are sold to investors in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Belgium.

Israel Bonds also announced this week that it has sold more than $40 billion globally since the corporation was launched in 1951.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said in a statement that Israel Bonds are “a cornerstone of Israel’s economy.”

“Crossing the $40 billion mark exemplifies the organization’s dedication to Israel, and the way in which its message of economic support has resonated on a global scale,” Kahlon said.

Israel Bonds’ president and CEO, Israel Maimon, added: “Israel Bonds’ historic sales clearly show that throughout generations, the idea of demonstrating confidence in Israel through investing in Israel has touched a response chord with individuals from all walks of life.”


AN ISRAELI FLAG stained with fake blood at a pro-Palestinian rally in London.

AN ISRAELI FLAG stained with fake blood at a pro-Palestinian rally in London.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

More antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2016 than ever before, Britain’s antisemitism watchdog reported on Wednesday.

The Community Security Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting British Jews, has been recording antisemitic incidents since 1984.

In 2016, the group recorded 1,309 antisemitic incidents nationwide, a 36% increase from the 960 incidents in 2015. The previous record was the 1,182 incidents CST recorded in 2014.

Verbal abuse targeting visibly Jewish people in public was the single most common type of incident recorded in 2016, comprising 29% of the total. Twenty-two percent of the antisemitic incidents were perpetrated via social media, 8% through violent assaults and roughly 5% consisted of damage and desecration of Jewish property.

The CST said there was no obvious single cause for the record number of incidents in 2016, noting that in the past specific “trigger events” had led to spikes in anti-Jewish actions. “In contrast, there was no single, sudden trigger event in 2016, and the high number of incidents was spread uniformly through most of the year,” the group noted.

Looking at a longer time frame, CST recorded an average of 105 antisemitic incidents per month from July 2014 to 2016, compared to an average of 50 incidents per month between January 2012 and June 2014. Antisemitic incidents per month doubled in the last four years.

The organization concluded that the high levels of antisemitism were the result of an atmosphere resulting from a combination of factors and events, coupled with a higher likelihood that incidents would be reported to the police or the CST in recent years.

The CST highlighted the following factors: the conflict in Gaza and Israel in the summer of 2014; terrorist attacks on Jewish communities in France and Denmark in 2015, and other terrorism in Europe; and in 2016, high profile allegations of antisemitism in the British Labour Party; and a perceived increase in racism and xenophobia.

CST Chief Executive David Delew remarked that “while Jewish life in the country remains “overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of antisemitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse. Worst of all is that, for various reasons, some people clearly feel more confident to express their antisemitism publicly than they did in the past.” He said that CST would continue to support the victims of antisemitism and called on others to join the group in confronting the phenomenon.(Understanding UK anti-Semitism on Holocaust Remembrance Day)

John Mann, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism and a Labour MP, described the figures as “very worrying.”

“The APPG Against Antisemitism will ensure that British institutions are robust in confronting and resisting antisemitism. The rise of nationalist populism and a failure to boldly oppose antisemitism are both contributing factors to this increase that must be challenged by us all.”

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Amber Rudd called antisemitism “a deplorable form of hatred that has absolutely no place in a tolerant, open and diverse Britain that works for everyone.”

She noted that the government is providing £13.4 million to protect Jewish sites, has improved police recording of religious hate crime, and last year published the Hate Crime Action Plan to set out further action.

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US Holocaust survivors’ requests for help grew by 20 percent in ’16, aid group says

(JTA) — A group that provides assistance to Holocaust survivors in the United States said requests for assistance grew by 20 percent in 2016 over the previous year.

The Blue Card, making the announcement this week ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, said about one-third of the approximately 100,000 Holocaust survivors in the U.S. now are living at or below the poverty line. It is estimated that 61 percent of the survivors living at the poverty line live on less than $23,000 per year, making it difficult to afford proper medical care, mental health care, nutrition and other basic necessities, according to the organization.

In a recent survey of Holocaust survivors that The Blue Card works with, the group found the greatest needs for financial assistance were for home care (13 percent), food (12 percent) and utilities (12 percent), as well as assistance with supplies for Jewish holidays (11 percent), dental care (10 percent), medication (9 percent), housing expenses (9 percent), transportation (9 percent) and medical supplies (8 percent).

Founded in Germany in 1934, and re-established in the United States in 1939, The Blue Card has distributed nearly $30 million to Holocaust survivors.

2016 was deadliest year ever for suicide bombings worldwide (Thanks To Islam and Muslims)

The year 2016 was the deadliest in the history of suicide terrorism, an Israeli think tank said, with 469 suicide bombings carried out by 800 perpetrators in 28 countries, causing the deaths of about 5,650 people.

Islamic State was the leading perpetrator of suicide bombings worldwide, being directly or indirectly responsible for approximately 70 percent (322) of the attacks, according to statistics compiled by the Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict Research Program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

As the terror group loses territory, “it appears that suicide terrorism will be a key tool for the Islamic State in consolidating its image as invincible, creating deterrence against its enemies, and taking revenge for the international activity against it,” the think tank said Thursday.

“The Islamic State’s partners and other terrorist groups will also likely redouble their efforts to carry out mass casualty large-scale terrorist attacks.”

Yoram Schweitzer, the senior research fellow who headed the study, said the rise in suicide bombings underlined the growing intensity of terrorism worldwide. “They are the litmus test when it comes to assessing terrorism,” he told The Times of Israel, “because of their devastating effect and the sense of threat they create.”

Yoram Schweitzer, an expert on international terrorism, and researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Yoram Schweitzer, an expert on international terrorism and researcher, at the Institute for National Security Studies. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Suicide bombings have become a main weapon of deterrence and one of the most effective tools for promoting the political goals of terrorist organizations since its use began in the early 1980s, the report said. The use of such bombings in 2016 was unprecedented in several respects, the INSS study found.

The 469 attacks by 800 bombers worldwide marked a small rise on 2015, when 452 suicide bombings were carried out by 735 perpetrators.

In 2016, however, the number of fatalities rose sharply (approximately 5,650 in 2016, compared with 4,330 in 2015), as did the number of those injured (from 8,800 in 2015 to 9,480 in 2016), according to the report. In addition, the number of countries in which suicide bombings occurred reached a new height (28 in 2016, compared with 22 in 2015).

The study’s authors noted, furthermore, that Islamic State claimed to have carried out hundreds of suicide bombings in addition to those documented in the report, “but many of these bombings were neither reported in detail in the media nor supported by independent sources or evidence from the field, and were therefore not included.”

Still, the study found, “there was a slight decline in the frequency of suicide terrorist bombings in southern Asia, and a substantial drop in their frequency in Africa.” On the other hand, Islamic State and the various other groups inspired by or affiliated with it “stepped up their efforts to export suicide terrorism to Europe.”

In the Middle East, the number of suicide bombings rose 45% in 2016 over 2015 (to 298 bombings from 207), and the number of suicide bombers and victims also rose significantly (513 suicide terrorists and approximately 3,915 fatalities in 2016, compared with 353 suicide terrorists and 2,294 fatalities in 2015).

The vast majority of the suicide bombings in the region, about 90%, were carried out by the Islamic State and its affiliated organizations.

Lebanese soldiers patrol the Christian village of al-Qaa, near the country's border with war-ravaged Syria, the day after two waves of suicide bombings struck the village killing and wounding several people, June 28, 2016. (AFP/STRINGER)

Lebanese soldiers patrol the Christian village of al-Qaa, near the country’s border with war-ravaged Syria, the day after two waves of suicide bombings struck the village killing and wounding several people, June 28, 2016. (AFP)

In war-torn Syria, the number of suicide bombings rose by some 38% (55 bombings in 2016, compared with 40 in the preceding year). In Libya, the struggle between the army and the Islamic State caused a major increase in suicide bombings (28 bombings in 2016, compared with 13 in 2015).

The study found that a steep rise in the number of suicide bombings was also noted in Turkey (21 bombings in 2016, compared with five in 2015) and Yemen (34 in 2016, compared with 13 in 2015). Isolated suicide bombings also took place in Saudi Arabia (4), Egypt (4), Jordan (2), and Tunisia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Israel (1 each).

The involvement of women in the suicide bombings in 2016 was again significant, the report noted: 44 suicide bombings were carried out during the year with the involvement of 77 women in eight countries around the world, causing the death of approximately 400 people.

Although the number of suicide bombings carried out by women fell sharply, compared with the record number of 118 suicide bombings in 2015, it appears that the use of women as suicide terrorists expanded this year, primarily in theaters in which they had not previously operated: France, Austria, Morocco, Libya, Bangladesh and Indonesia — most of these operations were foiled by security forces.