It’s taken a while for the US economy’s recovery to gather pace, but finally it seems to have developed enough momentum to bring a degree of confidence back to the stock and currency markets; the Dow Jones is rising steadily and the US dollar is pulling out of the mire it’s been stuck in for months. The best news of all is the employment figures; in June 288,000 new jobs were created, and in 2014 so far the total is pushing towards 1.5 million. Those figures have been seized on as evidence that the economy’s not just recovering; it’s booming. But is that the case?
If anybody needed any evidence of why Iraq needed to be sorted out in 2003 the last couple of weeks should have provided more than enough. The ISIS insurgency that’s rolled over the north of the country with such stunning speed isn’t anything new – it’s the result of sectarian tensions brewed up by the despotic regime of Saddam Hussein and left unresolved in the time since he was removed by Operation Iraqi Freedom eleven years ago.
Islam is dominated by the Sunni sect, but there are two countries where the smaller Shia strain is in the majority. The best known is Iran. The other is Iraq. Nearly two-thirds of Iraqis are Shia muslims, and most of the rest are Sunni (about three percent are other religions, mostly Christian). However from 1958 to 2003 the country was dominated by Sunni dictators, most infamously Saddam. The Shia were second class citizens and not surprisingly that caused huge resentment. The Sunni also suffered under Saddam’s regime though; the only people who benefited were his own al-Tikriti tribe. Sunni Iraqis had grievances of their own and ISIS is their latest way of venting them.
The global economy has been struggling to recover since the banking crisis exploded in late 2008 and the USA has had its share of problems. Although the recession officially ended five years ago the economy hasn’t returned to where it was before the credit collapse and growth has been disappointing. Many analysts have been predicting that the end of the rough stretch is finally in sight but recent indications are that this might not be the case quite yet.
With the celebration of its 100th birthday, the Federal Reserve has received a share of criticism from many quarters. In particular, the Conservative or Tea Party republicans are attacking the Fed for a unique reason; they believe it is time to bring back the old gold standard to help the economy thrive in hard money. The Tea Party wants to borrow a leaf from the 19th Century where; all power and wealth was reserved for the top corporate elites like the Wall Street financiers. The age of hard money was often referred to as the age of savage inequality.
Our interview with Richard Stelfox, the CEO of Golden Eagle Coins , a well known gold & silver dealer proved to be quite interesting. “A very high percentage of the customers I talk to on a daily basis claim to be conservative but after a few questions it seems many would lean toward being Libertarian”. The online gold dealer also has a retail location in the Washington DC area where you can browse rare gold coins, buy silver bars & invest in silver bullion while getting an education on the bullion market from their staff.
The last bond with the precious metal was before 1913 when the Federal Reserve subsequently cut the cord. The last ties with gold were cut in the era of President Nixon in 1971. Despite flexible money being accepted across the board, the conservatives have remained firm in the conviction that gold is the sure way to run an economy. Many personalities have jumped into the bandwagon to advocate for the return of the gold standard. Among others; TV personality Glenn Beck, financial giant Steve Forbes and Tea Party pundit William Kristol have not been shy to air their love for gold publicly.
The USA has one of the largest and most pervasive media industries in the world. It’s also extremely diverse, from local newspapers with a circulation of a few hundred to national news networks and internet aggregators. Americans have more choice of news outlets than the citizens of any other nation – but, at the same time, it’s often alleged that the news they are presented with is some of the most biased to be found in any advanced society.
Newspapers are the oldest media in the country; the first US newspapers were published in the 18th century. Unlike most other countries there are few national newspapers, with USA Today being the main exception. Instead papers are usually produced for a city or county although some, such as the New York Times, are available in most cities nationwide. Every large city has at least one paper; many have two or more. These are usually issued daily. Papers in smaller towns may be daily or weekly. There is also a wide range of free newspapers, supported by advertising, that appear weekly. New York’s Village Voice is one of the best known examples.
Fox News Channel is one of the most widely available sources of news in the USA; more than 97 million American households can receive it and it’s been the number 1 rated cable news channel for more than twelve years. Of the ten most watched cable news shows, eight are produced by Fox. It’s among the most influential media outlets in the country. So what should we think about the fact it’s frequently accused of being biased?
Fox claims to report the news in an even-handed way, but then they wouldn’t be expected to say anything different. On the other hand there’s a widespread public perception that Fox has a right wing, conservative bias in the way it presents what’s happening. One 2009 poll by the Pew Research organization found that Fox is viewed as the most biased news channel, with 47 per cent of Americans believing it has a conservative slant. Among journalists that figure goes up to 69 per cent.