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Friday, Apr 3, 2009, 3:03 pm

Friday Afternoon Roundup: ‘Frustrated and Scared as Hell’

By Louis Mattei
As the G-20 nations agree to pour $500 billion into the International Monetary Fund as part of $1.1 trillion in global stimulus, Americans are bracing themselves for soup lines. Yet another employment report came along today to further dim the recession picture, leaving many “frustrated and scared as hell,” as one man expressed to the NY Times.

Read the nitty-gritty on the Labor Department numbers here, as reported by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Here are some low-lights:

-The number of people who want to work but are discouraged from looking, and the number of part-time workers unable to find full-time jobs has reached the highest level on record (the data reaches back to 1994).

-“Almost one-quarter (24.2 percent) of the 13.2 million unemployed have not been able to find a job, despite looking for 27 weeks or more. (Regular unemployment insurance benefits typically run out after 26 weeks.)”

Incessant reports on the grim ripple effect of accelerating job losses are enough to give anyone pause. But it’s in times of economic panic that Americans' uncanny tendency to lash out at immigrants and minorities looks particularly harrowing.

Take, for instance, the news today of a San Francisco couple’s family being split up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs agency because the federal Defense of Marriage Act refuses to recognize the validity of domestic partnerships and legal same-sex marriages in immigration cases.

Or, perhaps more saliently, how about today's murderous rampgage at the American Civic Association (ACA) in Binghamton, N.Y.? The ACA is an immigration services center that, according to its Web site, assists immigrants and refugees with various services and "fosters cross cultural understanding for the entire community."

According to the U.K.’s Times, local residents said that the ACA usually had less than 40 people within its walls but that citizenship classes were scheduled for today, ballooning turnout.

Said one guest on the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin’s live blog in reaction to the violence: “This is the exact reason I got my concealed weapons permit.”

Spooky, huh?

Perhaps this state of affairs was summed up best by Samuel Beckett, whose work was informed by a bleakness all its own (now resurfacing in a new collection of his letters): “Qua, qua, qua.”
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