Friday, February 04, 2011

Ronald Reagan Myth Doesn't Square with Reality

About 10,000 people will gather this weekend at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California to honor what would have been the 100th birthday of former President Ronald Reagan -- among them Dick Cheney, the Beach Boys and Sarah Palin.

Reagan, who served as president from 1981 -1989 and died in 2004 at the age of 93, is widely considered the patron saint of conservatives; ask a prominent conservative their hero, and odds are they'll point to the Gipper. (The adulation is so widespread that candidates at a debate last month among the candidates to be RNC chairman were asked their hero - "aside from President Reagan.")

Reagan is perhaps most often invoked by those who cast him as having held the line against tax increases. Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, for example, often points to Reagan when calling for lower taxes and spending cuts; he says, by contrast, "tax hikes are what politicians do when they don't have the determination or the competence to govern." Conservatives also hail Reagan as a budget cutter willing to make hard choices to keep spending in line.

It's certainly true that Reagan entered office in 1980 as a full-throated conservative vowing to cut both spending and taxes. And he quickly followed through on part of that promise, passing a major reduction in marginal tax rates. (According to author Lou Cannon, the top marginal rate fell from 70 percent when he came into office to 28 percent when he left.)

But following his party's losses in the 1982 election, Reagan largely backed off his efforts at spending cuts even as he continued to offer the small-government rhetoric that helped get him elected. In fact, he went in the opposite direction: His creation of the department of veterans affairs contributed to an increase in the federal workforce of more than 60,000 people during his presidency.

And while Reagan somewhat slowed the marginal rate of growth in the budget, it continued to increase during his time in office. So did the debt, skyrocketing from $700 billion to $3 trillion. Then there's the fact that after first pushing to cut Social Security benefits - and being stymied by Congress - Reagan in 1983 agreed to a $165 billion bailout of the program. He also massively expanded the Pentagon budget.

Meanwhile, following that initial tax cut, Reagan actually ended up raising taxes - eleven times. That's according to former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, a longtime Reagan friend who co-chaired President Obama's fiscal commission that last year offered a deficit reduction proposal.

"Ronald Reagan was never afraid to raise taxes," historian Douglas Brinkley, who edited Reagan's diaries, told NPR. "He knew that it was necessary at times. And so there's a false mythology out there about Reagan as this conservative president who came in and just cut taxes and trimmed federal spending in a dramatic way. It didn't happen that way. It's false."

It's important to note that Reagan's tax increases did not wipe out the effects of that initial tax cut. But they did eat up about half of it. And as Peter Beinart points out, the 1983 payroll tax hike went to pay for Social Security and Medicare. ("Reagan raised taxes to pay for government-run health care," Beinart writes.) Reagan also raised the gas tax and signed the largest corporate tax increase in history, an act Joshua Green writes would be "utterly unimaginable for any conservative to support today."

Reagan was not happy about raising taxes or expanding government, and we certainly shouldn't forget that he had to work within the constraints placed upon him by a non-compliant Congress. But that doesn't change the fact that Reagan both increased spending and, after the initial cut, showed a willingness to raise taxes - exactly the sort of policy prescriptions so widely condemned by today's Reagan-reverent conservatives.

These facts have largely been lost as the right has enshrined Reagan as its patron saint, and they may fade further amid the speeches at this weekend's centennial celebration. But the reality is that Reagan was a president who held firm beliefs but was also willing to work with his ideological opponents. And that's the sort of thing that doesn't much lend itself to mythmaking.

Brian Montopoli CBS News

Mets Owners Ignored Warnings on Madoff

A lawsuit brought by the trustee for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme accuses the owners of the Mets of being so enamored of the enormous profits they earned while investing over decades with Mr. Madoff that they ignored repeated and specific warnings that he might have been operating a fraud.

The lawsuit, unsealed in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan on Friday morning, contends that the team’s owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, used the profits from their investments in Madoff to establish personal fortunes, create dozens of family trusts and financially fuel their array of businesses, from the Mets to real estate to the creation of a cable sports network.

At various times over the years, as their investments only widened and deepened, they were blind to what the lawsuit calls a litany of alarms sounded by those close to them, by fellow investors and by financial institutions.

Among the warnings, which the lawsuit says the two owners “consciously disregarded,” are these:

¶The chief investment officer at Sterling Stamos, a hedge fund independent of Madoff in which Wilpon and Katz invested, said he repeatedly warned the men and their families that Madoff’s returns were “too good to be true.” However, the suit says, the warnings were ignored. Other personnel at the Stamos fund expressed similar concerns about Madoff.

¶Merrill Lynch, the investment bank that acquired 50 percent of Sterling Stamos in 2007, had a prohibition on investing with Madoff and told Katz that Madoff’s operations would not pass its standards.

¶Ivy Asset Management, which was approached in 2002 to back Sterling Stamos, told Katz and two of his partners of its suspicions about Madoff’s investment business.

¶A consultant to Sterling Stamos told Katz in 2003, “He couldn’t make Bernie’s math work.”

But throughout, according to the trustee, Irving H. Picard, Wilpon and Katz kept investing with Madoff, in what the lawsuit calls a “cycle of dependency.”

The lawsuit says that across the decades of investing, and in the face of the warnings, Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz, and their partners at Sterling Entities, the corporate parent of their businesses, never had basic due diligence done on Mr. Madoff and his investment firm.

“There are thousands of victims of Madoff’s massive fraud,” states the lawsuit. “But Saul Katz is not one of them. Neither is Fred Wilpon.”

The lawsuit says that the two men, their families and their businesses “made so much easy money from Madoff for so long” that despite the many warnings they “chose to simply look the other way.”

Mr. Wilpon, since Mr. Madoff’s arrest in 2008, has portrayed himself as a victim of the fraud, one he conceded was carried off by a man who had been his friend for many years.

“The trustee’s lawsuit is an outrageous strong-arm effort to try to force a settlement by threatening to ruin our reputations and businesses, which we have built for over 50 years,” Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz said in a statement Friday.

This week lawyers for Mr. Wilpon said the trustee’s lawsuit was without merit.

The suit is seeking the return of what it calls $300 million in “fictitious profits,” a net gain from some 200 accounts held by Mr. Wilpon, Mr. Katz, their real estate business and the Mets organization that over the years Wilpon and Katz used to build and sustain their multimillion-dollar empire.

The trustee is also seeking hundreds of millions beyond those “profits,” in part because of what he alleges was the willful negligence by the team’s owners and their officers with the Mets and their real estate businesses. That total could reach beyond $1 billion, according to a lawyer working for the trustee.

Steady returns from Madoff “flowed through every aspect of Sterling’s business,” the lawsuit says: through the Mets and SNY, their regional sports, its commercial real estate ventures and its investment funds. Among nearly 500 internal accounts invested with Madoff, 16 were for the benefit of the Mets, through which Sterling withdrew $90 million in fictitious profits, the suit says.

Picard called the Mets’ owners sophisticated investors who should have known better but were “simply in too deep” to act on any warnings.

“They are a team of sophisticated professionals who built a business empire spanning four major industries, including real estate, professional baseball and sports media, private equity and hedge funds,” the lawsuit says. “Notably, very early on in their almost quarter-century-long business relationship with Madoff, the Sterling Partners discovered Madoff’s anomalous and implausibly high and consistent returns, and then found endless ways to exploit those returns.”

The lawsuit, and the hundreds of millions it seeks, clearly imperils the owners’ possession of the Mets, and perhaps the rest of their holdings. Last week Mr. Wilpon announced that he was seeking a partner to buy a 25 percent stake in the team. Mr. Wilpon, Mr. Katz and Mr. Wilpon’s son, Jeff, met with baseball’s commissioner, Bud Selig, in New York this week to discuss the suit and their financial situation.


Poll reveals striking divide on Obama

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings during his second year in office were the most partisan and polarized they’ve ever been at two years into a presidency, with a nearly 70 percentage point gap between how Republicans and Democrats evaluated his performance.

Obama’s approval among Republicans averaged just 13 percent, while Democrats’ approval of Obama’s second year averaged 81 percent.

The 68-point differential is the fourth-largest on record, behind years four, five and six of George W. Bush’s presidency, when the partisan gap was between 70 and 76 points. Gallup’s data reaches back to 1954-1955, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second year in office.

Before Obama, only Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton saw gaps of more than 50 percentage points between Republicans’ and Democrats’ approval during their second years in office. Between January 1982 and January 1983, Reagan’s approval averaged 79 percent among Republicans and 23 percent among Democrats – a 56 percentage point difference. Clinton’s approval averaged 19 percent among Republicans and 73 percent among Democrats between January 1994 and January 1995, a 54-point margin.

Just as a large partisan divide didn’t stop Reagan and Clinton from winning second terms, small gaps between Democrats’ and Republicans’ approval of a president haven’t guaranteed reelection.

The smallest partisan gap during a president’s second year came for Jimmy Carter, when his approval was 28 percent among Republicans and 57 percent among Democrats – a 29-point difference.

Gallup’s analysis of Obama’s second year is based on its daily tracking polls conducted between Jan. 20, 2010, and Jan. 19, 2011. It’s based on a random sample of 178,864 adults, and the error margin is plus or minus 1 percentage point.

© 2011 Capitol News

Las Vegas Bellagio suspect was a talker

Anthony Carleo's gambling losses were almost as big as his mouth.

Both drew the attention of authorities and eventually cost him his freedom 50 days after the Bellagio casino was robbed of $1.5 million in gambling chips in one of the largest heists in recent Southern Nevada history.

Las Vegas police arrested the 29-year-old son of a city judge Wednesday night in the Bellagio's casino -- literally the scene of the crime. In recent weeks he stayed there, a comped high roller who lost more than $100,000 gambling away chips the police say were stolen in the gutsy Dec. 14 robbery.

All the while, Las Vegas police and Bellagio security were watching him. In fact, police had his name and were on his trail about eight days after the brazen robbery that made headlines worldwide.

They knew he was a suspect because Carleo -- aka Anthony Assad, aka a "made man" from Denver, aka the son of Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad -- told lots of people he was the robber, according to a police report released Thursday.

Carleo even detailed his plan to a Bellagio poker dealer three days before the robbery, police said.

"All you need is a black mask and a motorcycle, and I have a motorcycle," Carleo reportedly told the dealer, who later recounted it to police.

The dealer told Carleo that a real-life heist wouldn't be as easy as it was in the movie "Ocean's Eleven."

But the real-life Bellagio robbery played out exactly as Carleo said it could be done.

At 3:50 a.m. on a sleepy Tuesday, Dec. 14, a man parked a late-model black motorcycle at the casino's north valet entrance. Leaving it running, he walked into the casino wearing a white, full-face motorcycle helmet and a leather jacket. Walking past slot machines, he stopped at the table games closest to the door. He pulled a pistol and demanded money from the craps dealer, and ran out with an estimated $1.5 million in Bellagio chips in denominations from $100 to $25,000.

No one was hurt, and no shots were fired, police said. Security officers did not try to stop the man out of concern that a shootout might injure casino patrons. In and out of the casino in a matter of minutes, the robber was last seen riding the motorcycle west on Flamingo Road, police said.

Because of the large denominations of the chips, police and gaming industry insiders speculated the robber would never be able to cash them without giving himself away.

Eight days later, the Bellagio dealer went to police. Others would do the same as Carleo threw caution to the wind.

Before it was scrubbed early Thursday, Carleo's Facebook page indicated that he was enjoying life on the Strip.

His favorite quote: "Money isn't everything, but it's right up there next to oxygen."

On the Web page, he wrote about moving to Las Vegas from Colorado last summer, his dream of being a high-stakes poker player and his fondness for the charms of the Bellagio.

"Never have I seen as many beautiful women in one place on a Sunday evening as I am humbly observing at Bellagio in Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada," he posted on Nov. 28. "My neck is getting a great stretch and my zippers elasticity is being challenged! Viva Vegas!!"

Carleo had dreamed of medical school after college, according to his page.

"I am a Junior at UNLV and cannot wait to get to Med School to start a profession that I can be proud of," he wrote.

He was officially a student, but most of his Facebook posts dealt with his gambling exploits rather than his classes.

On Nov. 22, Carleo detailed his play in a poker tournament with a cash prize of $127,000.

"Today will be a life changing day if all goes well and God answers my prayers," he wrote before losing big.

Carleo's last Facebook entry was on Dec. 3.

On Dec. 8, a motorcyclist wearing a helmet entered the poker cage at the Suncoast casino on the northwest side of Las Vegas, pulled a gun and walked away with $20,000 in cash. Carleo has not been charged in connection with that holdup, and police have declined comment when asked whether he might be.

On Dec. 14, the Bellagio was hit.

Soon, Carleo was making casino transactions of tens of thousands of dollars at a time. One of the largest was on Dec. 19, when he cashed out nearly $26,000 in Bellagio chips.

The next day, another poker player told Bellagio Vice President of Security Raymond Brown that he had played with an Italian buddy who knew a "Tony" who was looking to sell "cranberry chips,'' slang for the $25,000 denominations. Brown alerted the police.

Soon others told police Carleo was getting desperate because he was running out of small-denomination chips that could be cashed in without attracting attention. Several players also said the man with the chips bragged of ties to organized crime.

"Tony was trying to unload some $25,000 chips,'' the report reads. "He said the guy is supposed to be a made guy in Denver and connected to the mob."

Carleo kept playing. He also kept losing. On New Year's Eve alone, he dropped $72,000 at his favorite casino. By Jan. 22, Carleo's losses at the Bellagio topped $107,000, as documented by the Nevada Gaming Control Commission.

All the while he, like any high roller, was a pampered guest of the world-class hotel and resort.

"He is receiving full complementary rooms, meals and beverages," the report said. He was at the casino every day from Jan. 19 through Jan. 26, and left it only eight to 10 times for short periods.

On Jan. 25, an undercover officer and an informant went to the Bellagio to identify associates of Carleo. They found one man who had bought a $25,000 chip from Carleo, paying $10,000.

On Jan. 30, Carleo sold an undercover detective a cranberry. Two days later, four more cranberries changed hands.

The undercover cop told Carleo he wanted to partner up and start a robbery crew that could even take the Bellagio.

Carleo's response: "He already robbed this place."

While watching Carleo, detectives looked into his background. Although he is the son of a longtime Las Vegas lawyer and judge, he went to high school and lived much of his life in Pueblo, Colo., with his mother and stepfather, Gino Carleo. The elder Carleo owns a tavern, and with his brother, Louie, develops real estate.

Colorado DMV confirmed he owned a 2007 Suzuki GSX-R motorcycle, the same make and model ridden by the Bellagio Bandit.

Carleo had no criminal record or a gun registered in his name, though he had access to five pistols in Las Vegas.

Police also determined he was addicted to and was selling oxycontin. He was prescribed the pills from August to December, they found, but the number and frequency of the pills are described in the report as "an excess."

The report doesn't elaborate on rumored mob ties. It notes that in Pueblo, he was a real estate broker and owned two businesses ---- a mobile disc jockey service and a limousine service co-owned with his stepfather. It also noted that Carleo filed bankruptcy in Colorado in September 2009.

Bankruptcy papers in Denver list a .40-caliber pistol among Carleo's possessions. The records also show that he lost four properties, including his $330,000 home in the 800 block of Kalispell Avenue in Pueblo.

Contractor Bob Steinmetz told The Denver Post he bought the attractive, 3,000-square-foot home from a bank and never met Carleo. The house, he said, was battered with a hatchet and a hammer, and the appliances were long gone.

It's unclear when Carleo moved to Las Vegas or exactly where he lived, but his Nevada driver's license bears the address of his biological father's home in Summerlin.

At 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday, officers arrested Carleo without incident in the Bellagio casino. Sources said he thought he was there to pass more cranberries. According to the police report, he admitted his involvement in the Bellagio robbery. He was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on Thursday morning on robbery and burglary charges and remains there without bail.

Detectives searched Carleo's room at the Bellagio, his father's home, the home of a woman found to have seven cranberries and that of his girlfriend, Layla Loeung, where another 16 cranberries were found in a bedroom closet.

Loeung told police that the chips were Carleo's and that he had given her $5,000 in cash. Police left with all of it.

The report doesn't mention anything seized at the home of the judge.

Assad wasn't at work Thursday. In a statement distributed Thursday by consulting group Rogich Communications, he said he was "devastated and heartbroken to see my son arrested under these circumstances, as is the rest of his family."

He said he cannot discuss the matter because of judicial ethics.

"I can say that as a prosecutor and a judge, I have always felt people who break the law need to be held accountable," Assad said.

At a news conference Thursday, Robbery Lt. Ray Steiber said a total of $1.2 million in chips and cash had been recovered. Carleo also might face drug trafficking charges, but Steiber would say little about the investigation.

But Steiber said anyone thinking they can take down a Las Vegas casino is "sadly mistaken."

"You will be caught,'' he said.

Antonio Planas and Mike Blasky

Study: Global Obesity Rates Double Since 1980

Three New Studies Find While Global Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels have Dropped, Obesity Rates Have Doubled

Obesity rates worldwide have doubled in the last three decades even as blood pressure and cholesterol levels have dropped, according to three new studies.

People in Pacific Island nations like American Samoa are the heaviest, one of the studies shows. Among developed countries, Americans are the fattest and the Japanese are the slimmest.

"Being obese is no longer just a Western problem," said Majid Ezzati, a professor of public health at Imperial College London, one of the study's authors.

In 1980, about 5 percent of men and 8 percent of women worldwide were obese. By 2008, the rates were nearly 10 percent for men and 14 percent for women.

That means 205 million men and 297 million women weighed in as obese. Another 1.5 billion adults were overweight, according to the obesity study.

Though richer countries did a better job of keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control, researchers said people nearly everywhere are piling on the pounds, except in a few places including central Africa and South Asia. The studies were published Friday in the medical journal, Lancet.

The research confirms earlier trends about mounting obesity and the three papers provide the most comprehensive, recent global look at body mass index, cholesterol and blood pressure. Body mass index is a measurement based on weight and height.

Experts warned the increasing numbers of obese people could lead to a "global tsunami of cardiovascular disease." Obesity is also linked to higher rates of cancer, diabetes and is estimated to cause about 3 million deaths worldwide every year.

In an accompanying commentary, Sonia Anand and Salim Yusuf of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said the global forecast for heart disease was "dismal and comprises a population emergency that will cost tens of millions of preventable deaths" unless countries take quick action.

Even without the encroaching empire of Western fast food, Ezzati said waistlines are already expanding in parts of Latin America, the Middle East, and Western and Southern Africa.

Among rich countries, the U.S. had the highest average body mass Index, at 28. Rates were the lowest in Japan, ranging between 22 for women and 24 for men. Women in Belgium, France, Finland, Italy and Switzerland also stayed trim, with virtually no change in their BMI.

People with a BMI of 18-24 are considered to have a healthy weight. Those with a BMI of 25 or above are overweight and people with a BMI of 30 or more are classified as obese.

Two other studies also published in the Lancet on Friday surveyed blood pressure rates and cholesterol levels. Western countries including Canada, South Korea and the U.S. had some of the lowest blood pressure rates thanks to medication, while rates are highest in Portugal, Finland and Norway.

Cholesterol levels were highest in countries like Iceland and Germany and lowest in Africa.

Ezzati said national measures like reducing salt content in prepared foods or banning transfats could make a big dent in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol rates.

He added that it was uncertain if the world's obesity rates had peaked and predicted other health complications would soon follow. "We don't know how much worse the obesity problem will get," he said. "While we can manage blood pressure and cholesterol with medication, diabetes will be a lot harder."

JPMorgan Complicit in Madoff's Fraud

E-mails and other internal documents show that executives at JPMorgan Chase were complicit in Bernard Madoff's massive fraud, lawyers seeking to recover funds for his victims said Thursday.

The lawyers work for a court-appointed trustee who filed a $6.4 billion complaint under seal late last year against JPMorgan, the disgraced financier's primary bank for two decades. The parties agreed to make portions of it public on Thursday.

Among the e-mails cited is one in 2007 in which an unidentified JPMorgan Chase employee recounts being told "there is a well-known cloud over the head of Madoff and that his returns are speculated to be part of a (P)onzi scheme."

The material supports allegations that "the bank's top executives were warned in blunt terms about speculation that Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme," attorney Deborah Renner said in a statement. "Yet the bank appears to have been more concerned only with protecting its own investments in (the Madoff firm's) feeder funds."

In a statement on Thursday, JPMorgan said the complaint "is meritless and is based on distortions of both the relevant facts and the governing law."

It added that the bank "intends to defend itself vigorously against the unfounded claims brought by the trustee."

The bank has denied having any suspicions about Madoff, saying it followed all commercial banking regulations in its dealings with him.

Trustee Irving Picard is in the midst of a two-year campaign to recover funds for Madoff's burned clients with a flurry of lawsuits against financial institutions and brokers. Last year, he filed multibillion-dollar suits against HSBC and UBS AG over similar allegations the banks deny.

Madoff, 72, is serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina after admitting that he ran his scheme for at least two decades, using his investment advisory service to cheat thousands of individuals, charities, celebrities and institutional investors.

Losses are estimated at around $20 billion, making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.

Picard's lawyers have accused JPMorgan and its affiliates of being "willfully blind" to "numerous red flags surrounding Madoff," including the unwavering double-digit returns he reported to wealthy investors on fictitious account statements.

According to the lawsuit, JPMorgan initiated a thorough investigation of Madoff in 2008 after the nation's financial crisis had begun - and that the inquiry was frustrated at every turn.

Madoff feeder funds "repeatedly found creative ways to dodge questions" about their knowledge of his investment schemes, the suit says. Bank Medici, one of Madoff's biggest partners, promised to provide various risk reports, but then balked.

By October, a member of the bank's due diligence team was questioning claims by a big feeder fund, Fairfield Greenwich, that it had access to the secretive office suite where Madoff did business.

"Judging from the lack of thoroughness of some of their other due diligence I am not entirely convinced that Madoff allowed them to actually enter the trading area," the employee wrote.

Another bank official expressed amazement that the bank and hedge fund executives who were funneling money to Madoff had asked so few questions about his strategy, and observed that some seemed afraid to confront him.

"It's almost a cult (Madoff) seems to have fostered," the official wrote.

The complaint also cites a suspicious activity report JPMorgan sent to the Serious Organised Crime Agency in London on Oct. 28, 2008, less than two months before Madoff revealed himself to be a fraud.

The suit says the report concluded Madoff's balance sheet appears "too good to be true - meaning it probably is."

The report was triggered in part by a strange conversation that a bank employee had with one of its Madoff investment partners, Aurelia Finance. During that conversation, according to the suit, "Aurelia Finance representatives made threats ... referring to 'Colombian friends' who could 'cause havoc' if the bank went ahead with a plan to redeem some of its Madoff investments."

The JPMorgan employee, the suit says, took that to mean that Colombian drug dealers were somehow involved in the investment deal, and would be angered if the bank dropped out.

JPMorgan began trying to pull more Madoff investments in October, including $167 million placed through Fairfield, according to the suit.

By the time Madoff was arrested in December, it had managed to sell off all but $35 million of its stakes in his feeder funds.

Kelly will command final shuttle flight

Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will fly the space shuttle Endeavour's final mission in April, according to a source familiar with the decision.

Kelly and NASA are expected to make an announcement at a press conference Friday.

Giffords was the target of a failed assassination attempt last month in Tucson, Ariz., in which she was shot in the head and six other people were killed six. She was moved last week from Arizona to a rehabilitation clinic in Houston, where Kelly lives.

The severe injuries Giffords sustained in the Tucson shootings had left in doubt whether Kelly would be able to command the space shuttle, but the source made clear all systems are go for him to lead the mission, scheduled to lift off on April 19.

The flight is Kelly's fourth. His twin brother, Scott, is also an astronaut and is currently commanding the six-person team orbiting Earth in the International Space Station.

© 2011 Capitol News

Weather Hurt U.S. Job Growth in January

The United States labor market slowed to a crawl in January, adding just 36,000 jobs last month, far below consensus market forecasts.

With 13.9 million people still out of work, the unemployment rate actually fell to 9 percent.

The disappointing jobs number, restrained by the January snowstorms and government layoffs, was far below what economists generally say is needed to merely keep pace with normal growth.

“We’re not creating jobs as fast as you’d like to see to sustain an economic virtual circle,” the chief economist at OppenheimerFunds, Jerry Webman, said.

Private companies added 50,000 jobs, while federal, state and local governments actually shed 14,000 jobs.

The job figures came in a week when several other indicators pointed toward an accelerating recovery. A closely watched survey of purchasing managers rose to its highest level since May 2004, and chain store sales increased at a faster pace than expected in January.

For the unemployed, the slow addition of jobs is growing increasingly frustrating. “If you want to get there and you’re sitting in an airplane, the fact that the airplane is moving 20 miles faster down the runway doesn’t matter to you,” said Cliff Waldman, economist at the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, a trade group. “You want it to take off.”

The Labor Department’s monthly snapshot of the job market also included its annual “benchmark revisions,” which suggested that job growth during 2010 was actually lower than originally reported.

Economists noted that job growth would not truly hit the kinds of levels needed to seriously dent the unemployment rate until employers beyond a handful of industries started hiring in earnest. Construction, which was among the hardest hit during the recession, has also not revived.

“It’s very brutal in our industry,” said Brantley Barrow, chairman of Hardin Construction, a builder of office buildings, malls and hotels based in Atlanta. “Even though the general economy is getting better, it’s going to be another year or two before things start to improve in our industry.”

The numbers underscored the assessment of the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, who said on Thursday that “until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established.”

Crackdown in Egypt Widens but Officials Offer Concessions

CAIRO — The Egyptian government on Thursday broadened its crackdown on a 10-day uprising that has shaken its rule, arresting journalists and human rights advocates across an edgy city, while offering more concessions in a bid to win support from a population growing frustrated with a devastated economy and scenes of chaos in the streets.

The campaign was a startling blend of the oldest tactics of an authoritarian government — stoking fears of foreigners — with the air of sincerity of a repentant order. Trying to seize the initiative from a revolt that has marked one of the most decisive moments in modern Egyptian history, the government promised that neither President Hosni Mubarak nor his son Gamal, long seen as a contender for power, would run for president and offered dialogue with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, gestures almost unthinkable weeks ago.

As protesters battled crowds rallied by the government for a second day, organizers sought to rally even bigger demonstrations for Friday — dubbed the “Friday of departure” — in hopes of keeping the momentum behind a popular uprising that has demanded that Mr. Mubarak step down after three decades in power.

Voiced often in the tumultuous scenes of defiance and determination in Tahrir Square was a fear that if they lost, the protesters and their organizers would bear the brunt of a withering crackdown.

“If we can’t bring this to an end, we’re going to all be in the slammer by June,” said Murad Mohsen, a doctor treating the wounded at a makeshift clinic near barricades, where thousands fought off droves of government supporters with rocks and firebombs.

Dr. Mohsen’s comments illustrated the changing dynamic of an uprising that has captivated the Arab world, reverberating through Jordan, Sudan and Yemen, where there were peaceful protests on Thursday. New calls for protests went out in Algeria, Bahrain and Libya.

From festive scenes of just days ago, the revolt has become more martial, as exhausted men defend what they describe as the perimeter of a free Egypt around Tahrir Square. Their demands have grown more forceful and the uprising more radical. After pitched clashes of two days that left at least seven dead and hundreds wounded, banners in Tahrir Square declared Mr. Mubarak “a war criminal,” and several in the crowd said that the president should be executed. Major television networks were largely unable to broadcast from the square on Thursday.

The United States joined a chorus of criticism, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton saying, “We condemn in the strongest terms attacks on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners and diplomats.”

The government’s strategy seems motivated at turning broader opinion in the country against the protests and perhaps wearing down the demonstrators themselves, some of whom seemed exhausted by the clashes. Vice President Omar Suleiman, appointed Saturday to a position that Mr. Mubarak had until then refused to fill, appealed to Egypt’s sense of decency in allowing Mr. Mubarak to serve out his term, and he chronicled the mounting losses that, he said, the uprising had inflicted on a crippled Egyptian economy.

“End your sit-in,” he said. “Your demands have been answered.”

Mr. Mubarak said in an interview with ABC that he was eager to step down but if he did, “Egypt would sink into chaos.”

In interviews and statements, the government has increasingly spread an image that foreigners were inciting the uprising, a refrain echoed in the streets. The suggestions are part of a days-long Egyptian media campaign that has portrayed the protesters as troublemakers and ignored the scope of an uprising with diffuse goals and leadership.

“Millions turn out to support Mubarak,” read the banner headline on Thursday on the front page of Al Ahram, the leading government newspaper.

The propaganda has been so pronounced that an announcer on Nile Television, Shahira Amin, quit. “I cleared my conscience and walked out,” she said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said it had 100 reports of attacks on journalists. Al Jazeera, the influential Arabic channel, said government supporters stormed the Hilton Hotel in Cairo, searching for journalists, and two of its reporters were attacked. A Greek journalist was stabbed with a screwdriver and others were beaten and harassed.

Police also raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a headquarters for many of the international human rights organizations working in Egypt. The human rights workers were told to lie on the floor and the chips were removed from the telephones, someone present in the building said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

As the day wore on, tension descended across parts of the city, which is still guarded by popular committees that banded together after the police withdrew Saturday. Government supporters roamed parts of the downtown, itching for a fight, and looters set fire to a shopping mall along the Nile that was already looted and burned Friday.

The menace was a counterpoint to Tahrir Square, where the literati and well-off demonstrators mixed with the poorest of rough-and-tumble neighborhoods in scenes of camaraderie and determination that have made the square an emblem of the revolt. Protesters flashed V-for-victory signs at dawn, celebrating their success in holding the square and even pushing the barricades forward in clashes that dragged through the night.

Protesters accused government supporters of trying to block them from delivering supplies to the square, but boxes of water, bananas, yogurt and medicine still made it in. The Internet was working. Volunteers swept the streets, pushing piles of rocks to the curb that looked like bluffs of snow. Doctors staffed first-aid clinics, near graffiti that read, “We are writing the history of a free Egypt,” and men frisked people entering for weapons.

“Don’t incite them!” shouted Mahmoud Haqiqi, holding aloft a sign that read, “No to shedding of blood.” But even those who lamented the turn to violence blamed Mr. Mubarak’s supporters for provoking them and vowed not to relinquish the square. “Right now, it’s all here, protecting Tahrir Square,” said Hisham Kassem, a veteran activist and publisher, who kept a wary eye on barricades built with corrugated tin, wrecked cars and trucks, barrels, buckets filed with sand and metal railing torn from the curb. “We keep it tonight, and tomorrow the whole country is going to come out.”

He surveyed the crowd and shook his head. “I can’t face the idea of this failing.”

For days, the government seemed to stagger at the scale of an uprising that overwhelmed Egypt’s once ubiquitous security forces on Friday. The concessions on Thursday marked its most concerted attempt to address at least some of the longstanding demands in a country that many believe has stagnated under Mr. Mubarak’s rule. The newly appointed prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, apologized for the violence and vowed to investigate who instigated it. Mr. Suleiman followed with a lengthy television interview in which he recognized what he described as “the revolution of the youth.”

Mr. Suleiman sought to project an image of good will, offering dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, which remains banned, even though it is the country’s most influential opposition group. In a sign of the new landscape, Mr. Suleiman referred to it by name rather than the government’s usual coded language, though he and Mr. Mubarak have both suggested it was behind the revolt. Its followers have played a forceful role in the protests, but its leaders have, so far, tried to remain in the background.

“We have contacted the Muslim Brotherhood and invited them, but they are still hesitant about the dialogue,” he said. “I think that their interest is to attend the dialogue.”

Other concessions came from Egypt’s public prosecutor, who issued a travel ban on former government ministers and an official of the ruling National Democratic Party on suspicion of theft of public money, profiteering and fraud, state television reported. Among the four was the hated former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, who commanded a police force that was widely despised for its corruption and routine use of torture.

So far, the government’s concessions have done little to diminish the protests, but the relentless message of officials that Egypt faced chaos seemed, at least anecdotally, to be finding an audience.

“This is enough,” said Ahmed Mohamed, a 22-year-old broker at the National Bank of Kuwait, hanging out at a rarity in Cairo, a coffee shop doing business. “I want life to go back to normal. We want to go back to work. And what we have done in 72 hours we couldn’t achieve in 30 years. It’s only a few months until Mubarak leaves.”