Women are getting their jobs back, erasing some of the erasures in the last several decades' gains. Got it? Good.
The monthly jobs report is out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showing the country adding 559,000 jobs in May and the unemployment rate dropping to 5.8 — the lowest unemployment has been since the pandemic crushed employment last year. Also good news: Unlike some previous reductions in the unemployment rate that were distorted because people had given up on looking for work, the "labor force participation rate" for May wasn't changed much from April, which means that the reduction in the unemployment rate went down because people really were finding jobs.
President Joe Biden called the May job numbers "great news for our economy and the recovery," and pointed out that over two million new jobs have been created since he took office. Here, have yourselves some video!
Biden also pointed out that when the monthly survey was taken in early May, only about 35 percent of working-aged adults were fully vaccinated. Since then, some 21 million more Americans have been vaccinated, and the employment news is expected to keep improving as more and more people feel safe to go back to work. He also noted that some 20,000 new jobs have been created in child care, which should help people seek work, too.
And you'd better believe he reminded people that the new child tax credit from the American Rescue Plan will start getting money to parents next month.
To keep the employment picture improving, Biden called again for Congress to pass his two big economic packages, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan, because while adding half a million jobs in a month is good, the economy is still down about 7.6 million jobs from pre-pandemic levels.
The May report did fall short of projections by economists surveyed by Dow Jones; the economists had predicted 671,000 new jobs in May. But the gap between the projection and the BLS report was much smaller than in April, when economists expected over a million new jobs, compared to April's actual number of 278,000 (as revised upward in the new report).
CNBC reports that the slightly lower than expected jobs numbers don't seem to have made the markets jittery, and perhaps even the opposite. Also, the mandatory economist weighs in:
Stock market futures actually rose, with investors betting that the measured pace of job gains would keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates and tightening monetary policy.
"Economists have been a little overly optimistic about the pace of which we're moving here. It takes a while for people to get jobs," said Kathy Jones, head of fixed income at Charles Schwab. "For the stock market, there's no reason for the Fed to move too quickly, and therefore that's also good news for the bond market."
The biggest sectors for job growth were in the services industry, which makes sense since it also took the biggest hit in the crash.
Leisure and hospitality added 292,000 positions, with the bulk of 186,000 coming in restaurants and bars.
Public and private education also saw the benefits of reopening, adding 144,000 across the board.
And here's a relief: As you might recall, in April, there were significant job losses among women, with 34,000 women losing work. Good news: May was far, far better!
Women accounted for most of the added jobs, with the number of female workers over the age of 20 growing by 381,000. Teenagers, who accounted for most of the gains in April, added another 70,000 jobs.
That certainly suggests April was a dip, not a trend, and let's keep pressuring the Senate to get those jobs bills passed, shall we?
Oh, yes, and smash capitalism.
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One Of Our Dildocraft Is Missing.
The big political news in New Mexico this week was Tuesday's landslide-isn't-adequate-to-describe-it win by Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury in the special election to fill Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's congressional seat. But while the 60 percent to 36 percent stomping Stansbury delivered to Republican state Sen. Mark Moores will have important long-term implications for New Mexico politics, it was a plain vanilla "plane lands safely" story compared to Tuesday's other, far weirder political news in the Land of Enchantment.
That story, being, of course, the attack of the DONGCOPTER at a rally for Albuquerque mayoral candidate Manuel "Manny" Gonzales III, who currently serves as Bernalillo County Sheriff. As the Albuquerque Journal notes, the rally had started out well enough, with one of the biggest crowds Gonzales has had yet in his campaign to oust "fellow Democrat and incumbent Mayor Tim Keller." (The mayor's race is officially nonpartisan, so party affiliation won't be listed on the ballot. They are indeed Dems, although Gonzales is apparently some kind of law-n-order Trumper. Damned if any of it makes sense.)
Things got weird, in the form of a new kind of SKYPENIS, only this one at a far lower altitude than the others. While Gonzales was answering a question, a quadcopter drone dangling a dildo beneath it flew into the open-air venue, buzzing near the stage. As the audience giggled, an incredulous woman in the audience exclaimed, "Is that a dong on a drone?"
Here's a link to the video, which sadly cannot be embedded. Gonzales, clearly distracted — and who wouldn't be? — commented, "We have a gentleman over here who I guess is trying to be cute."
We pause here to compliment Journal reporter Elise Kaplan for this detailed description of the drone's being disarmed, or disdonged, by the venue's owner. It's the sort of keen-eyed journalism of which Pulitzer Prizes are made.
The owner of Revel Entertainment Center yanked the flying object – [sex] toy first – to the ground.
Things then got weirder, as you might expect in a Wonkette story about a DONGCOPTER.
As soon as the aeropeener was snatched out of the sky, a dude suddenly ran in and tried to wrest it from the owner of Revel Entertainment Center, then all these other dudes piled on him, and what the absolute fuck?
The dude who attempted the DONGCOPTER repatriation was arrested and identified as Kaelan Ashby Dreyer, 20. Dreyer was booked on charges of "misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor resisting, evading or obstructing an officer," and later released on his own recognizance. A complaint written by a sheriff's deputy said that Dreyer had shouted "He's a tyrant!" and was "swinging his balled up fist" at Gonzales.
Gonzales told the Journal he'd noticed Dreyer in the crowd while the DONGCOPTER was flying around, and while he didn't see Dreyer actually using a controller, he was pretty sure Dreyer was flying the remotely piloted tonker.
During the ensuing fracas, Gonzales said, "He tried to take a swing at me and he glanced across my arm [...] He struck me and I just took a step back. It wasn't anything I was very concerned about. I've been in a lot worse situations."
The complaint notes that Dreyer said he hadn't intended to hit Gonzales, but was very angry that Gonzales was "answering a question, from the crowd, in a disrespectful way," so there's your mandatory Rashomon: DONGCOPTER remix.
OK, there's also another bit of weirdness, why not? In a presser on Wednesday, Gonzales suggested the Mission Indongable incident was the work of "political operatives" who he suspected might be working for Mayor Keller. He said the aerial endongening was "a coordinated effort, very intentional, and these people were trained."
"Those people were planted there," Gonzales said. "They went there. They didn't go over there to have a civil discourse, they were there to disrupt. And they did act out that violence. So to me, it's very intentional." [...]
"It became so distracting from the sound and everything I couldn't really get my point across," Gonzales said. "I was trying to answer one of the lady's questions that was with this group of four that were political operatives for somebody, I believe possibly the other campaign. So for me, I was surprised. And it was distracting."
Not surprisingly, Keller's campaign says nah, not us, don't be a flying dick about this. Keller's campaign manager, Neri Holguin, condemned the incident as "disruptive, rude and immature," adding, "We denounce demeaning antics and urge residents to participate in the political process in a respectful manner."
As for the assertion that the Keller campaign was responsible for the winged wang, Holguin said, "To suggest we were behind it is pathetic and the kind of desperation that has marked Manny's troubled campaign," which may be a reference to the fact that Gonzales is still collecting petition signatures to make it onto the ballot. The deadline is June 19.
Dreyer also denied being an operative for Keller.
"Manny Gonzales is trying to associate me with Tim Keller or radical leftist behavior," Dreyer told the Journal. "I'm not a fan of Tim Keller either and identify as libertarian."
Hmm, maybe, but wouldn't a libertarian have used a flying copy of Atlas Shrugged? Eh, anyone who loves that is already a dick.
Regardless, I think we can all agree that the attempt to recreate the most iconic scene of Acockalypse Now would have been more impressive if the copter had been an actual dong, like when a 2008 press conference by Gary Kasparov was interrupted by a far more literal DONGCOPTER. Vladimir Putin's people are evil, but they don't go off half-cocked.
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'Jello Shots' not an option yet.
With summer coming on, Joe Biden yesterday reminded America that there is in fact still a pandemic out there, and while we're making really good progress on getting people vaccinated (60 percent of Americans over 12 have gotten at least one shot), we still have a lot of work to do to meet the goal of getting at least one shot into 70 percent of American arms by Independence day. Biden announced a "month of action" aimed at increasing vaccination rates, especially in the Midwest and the South, which lag behind the rest of the country.
"The more people we get vaccinated, the more success we're going to have in the fight against this virus," Biden said from the White House. He predicted that with more vaccinations, America will soon experience "a summer of freedom, a summer of joy, a summer of get togethers and celebrations. An All-American summer."
Here's the excellent news: The White House announced yesterday that 12 states have already vaccinated 70 percent of their adult residents — with at least one shot, although to be fully effective, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two injections. Politico points out that all 12 of those states voted for Biden, but you did not hear Joe Biden calling attention to that detail. The most completely vaccinated states are in New England, and if you want to brag about bipartisanship, the most-vaccinated state right now is Vermont, whose governor, Phil Scott, is a Republican. Nearly 80 percent of folks 12 and up there have had at least one shot, Scott tweeted yesterday. Just three people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the whole state.
Biden announced several initiatives yesterday aimed at getting the rest of the country moving in that direction, some which will make it even easier to get the free vaccinations, and others that will reward people who get their vaccination cards filled out.
For folks who haven't found time to go get vaccinated, the administration announced that many pharmacies participating in the vaccine effort will be extending their hours, including some 24-hour stores. "If you're too busy at work or school, you can get vaccinated around the clock," Biden said in his speech.
Beyond that, the White House has partnered with a bunch of child care outfits to make it easier for parents with young children to get vaxxed. The coolest part of this is at the end of the paragraph:
KinderCare, Learning Care Group, Bright Horizons and more than 500 YMCAs [will] provide free childcare coverage for Americans looking for shots or needing assistance while recovering from side effects.
Maybe I'm a sap, but that almost made me cry. It's how things should work all the time: Everybody should have childcare when they aren't feeling up to chasing after the kids.
This strikes us as incredibly smart, too:
The administration is also launching a new partnership to bring vaccine education and even doses to more than a thousand Black-owned barbershops and beauty salons, building on a successful pilot program in Maryland.
In addition, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden (happy birthday, Dr. Biden!), second gentleman Doug Emhoff, and other officials from the Cabinet will go on a "We Can Do This" vaccination tour, mostly concentrating on the South, where vaccination rates are well behind the rest of the country.
And before y'all Terrible Ones start yammering on in the comments about how states that voted for Trump can just get sick and die, keep in mind that the virus doesn't care about politics, and there are tens of millions of people who aren't wingnuts in all those states, but who may need information and persuasion to get vaccinated. (Also, remember that people travel, so the more parts of the country bring up their vaccination rates, the safer we all are.)
And then there are the goofy lotteries and rewards, like Minnesota's program offering all vaccinated folks a choice of rewards, like free admission to aquariums, parks, zoos, and minor league ballparks, or a free fishing license. Biden called attention to several other programs sponsored by companies, like Anheuser-Busch's offer — if we get to the national 70 percent vax rate — of a free beer to anyone over 21 on July 4.
"Get a shot and have a beer," Biden said, advertising the promotion even though he himself refrains from drinking alcohol.
There will also be Major League Baseball ticket giveaways, and a very nice offer by Microsoft to give XBoxes to Boys and Girls Clubs as part of vaccine outreach and education. Whatever gets people moving, although the AP does also note that people signing up for the free shitty beer will have their data collected, according to the fine print on the offer website, because America.
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Pretty good news for life on Earth, though!
Yesterday was a pretty hopeful day for the prospects of getting global carbon emissions under control, thanks to three events that New Yorker climate columnist Bill McKibben is calling possibly the "most cataclysmic day so far for the traditional fossil-fuel industry." These are all big developments that are likely to bring about big changes in three of the world's biggest oil companies.
- A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to sharply cut its emissions, by 45 percent over the next 10 years, a mandate McKibben says the company can "likely meet only by dramatically changing its business model."
- Chevron shareholders voted to require steep cuts in emissions caused by the company's products, which in effect would make the company responsible for emissions from oil and gasoline being used exactly as designed.
- At an Exxon Mobil shareholder meeting, members of a climate action investor group won two seats on the company's board of directors, in yet another sign that shareholders of fossil fuel companies want them to take more aggressive action on the climate emergency.
We'd also note that the three actions, though unrelated aside from happening on the same day, came a week after the UN's International Energy Agency warned that construction of new fossil-fuel power generation plants must stop immediately, among other steps needed to prevent the worst effects of planetary warming.
Clean Up Your Shell Game
Since 2015, Royal Dutch Shell has committed to reducing emissions, but not enough for a Dutch district court in the Hague, where Judge Larisa Alwin ordered the company to cut its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. Reuters points out that
Earlier this year, Shell set out one of the sector's most ambitious climate strategies. It has a target to cut the carbon intensity of its products by at least 6% by 2023, by 20% by 2030, by 45% by 2035 and by 100% by 2050 from 2016 levels.
But the court said that Shell's climate policy was "not concrete and is full of conditions...that's not enough."
The ruling is partly based in European human rights law, which certainly makes us wish Mitt Romney had been right back in 2012 when he called Barack Obama a scary European-style socialist type. If only! The ruling also ordered Shell to make absolute cuts in carbon emissions, as compared to the company's planned targets, which had enough wiggle room to allow, in theory, for actual expansions of emissions. Shell's CEO, Ben van Beurden, said at the company's annual meeting earlier this month that an absolute reduction in emissions would only be possible "by shrinking the business."
Sounds like Shell will have to do that, then, at least if its planned appeal is unsuccessful. McKibben notes that the amount of reductions the court ordered
is very close to what, in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.) said would be required to keep us on a pathway that might limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The court also didn't care for Shell's argument that people would be able to adapt to a warming climate, because get out of here with that stuff. The judges acknowledged that Shell believes humans could adopt strategies like using more efficient air conditioning, or managing land and water use to deal with sea level rise. Yes, we can do stuff to deal with some of the effects of the fossil fuels we keep burning, they wrote. But "these strategies do not alter the fact that climate change due to CO2 emissions has serious and irreversible consequences."
The Shareholders Are Revolting! Part One: Chevron
Shareholders at Chevron's annual meeting voted yesterday, by 61 percent, in favor of a proposal to cut back on so-called "Scope 3" emissions, which include emissions in the supply chain, like business travel, transportation of products, investments, and the like. That also includes carbon emissions resulting from the use of a company's products, which for an oil company is a hell of a lot of emissions. (Wonkette's Scope 3 emissions, on the other hand, would include those times that you laugh so hard that you poot.)
Reuters notes that while the proposal
does not require Chevron to set a target of how much it needs to cut emissions or by when, the overwhelming support for it shows growing investor frustration with companies, which, they believe, are not doing enough to tackle climate change. [...]
Oil and gas companies have long argued that they have little control over how their products are used, but with rising investor pressure they are forced to find new ways to cut emissions and fall in line with global climate change pledges.
Damn right they are! While Chevron has pledged to cut carbon emissions, it hasn't set any actual targets to move toward net zero emissions, which it damn well needs to. Such plans are fairly standard in Europe, although some judge may come along and tell a company it needs to be more aggressive.
The Shareholders Are Revolting! Part Two: Exxon Mobil
Meanwhile over at Exxon Mobil, shareholders at the annual meeting rebelled against management's wishes as well, electing two new board members from an activist investment fund called "Engine No. 1," which owns only a small portion (.02 percent) of the giant company's stock, but which nevertheless rallied enough shareholder support to put two of its four nominees on the board. Engine No. 1 has argued that the company must commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which conveniently is also President Joe Biden's target for the USA to get there as well. It has also argued that for the company to survive, it needs to diversify its holdings, invest heavily in clean energy, and get the hell out of fossil fuels.
The vote was delayed by a one-hour recess, during which Exxon execs no doubt tried to change some shareholders' minds, but nothin' doing.
With the green barbarians now no longer at the gate but actually on the board, the Wall Street Journal reports, Exxon CEO Darren Woods may find his days numbered, despite being reelected yesterday.
Andrew Logan, senior director for oil and gas at Ceres, a nonprofit focused on sustainability that supported Engine No. 1's campaign, said it would be difficult for Mr. Woods to retain his position as CEO after the vote.
"That certainly calls his leadership into question," Mr. Logan said. "There is no going back to the Exxon of old nor should there be."
Let's hope so, given that the Exxon of old — specifically during the 1970s — had been advised by its own scientists that burning fossil fuels would lead to heat being trapped in the atmosphere by CO2. The Exxon of old funded junk science to obfuscate that fact and to delay any action that might result in lower profits. The Exxon of old can't be done away with quickly enough.
This is all very good news, as McKibben points out:
It's clear that the arguments that many have been making for a decade have sunk in at the highest levels: there is no actual way to evade the inexorable mathematics of climate change. If you want to keep the temperature low enough that civilization will survive, you have to keep coal and oil and gas in the ground. That sounded radical a decade ago. Now it sounds like the law.
Here's hoping that this really does mark a turning point. I might just go out and buy some oil stocks myself, just to be a pain in the ass.
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