Thursday, September 30, 2010
U.S. Department of Defense Announces Latest Contract Awards
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The top-earning 20 percent of Americans — those making more than $100,000 each year — received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.
At the top, the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans, who earn more than $180,000, added slightly to their annual incomes last year, census data show. Families at the $50,000 median level slipped lower.
The Associated Press: Census finds record gap between rich and poor: "income gap between the richest and poorest"
At 12:15 p.m., the weather station at USC hit the 113-degree mark, breaking the old all-time high of 112 set on June 26, 1990."
Monday, September 27, 2010
H.R. 5297: Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (GovTrack.us): "An act to create the Small Business Lending Fund Program to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make capital investments in eligible institutions in order to increase the availability of credit for small businesses, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for small business job creation, and for other purposes"
Healthcare: Health Costs of US Employers at 5-Year High: Study - Healthcare * US * News * Story - CNBC.com
And employees will have to pay more than 12 percent more out of their pockets, according to the report from consulting group Hewitt Associates.
The Hewitt report blames higher medical claim costs, an aging population and U.S. healthcare reform."
Bonus depreciation was extended to Dec. 31, 2010. It was set to expire on Dec. 31 last year, but it got a reprieve. New business assets you bought since Jan. 1 of 2010 are apt to qualify for a 50% special depreciation deduction. The assets must have a recovery period of 7 years or less.
Because bonus depreciation is back, you may deduct up to $8,000 on the purchase of your new car. That, along with regular depreciation, allows you up to $11,060 worth of depreciation for the first year, according the experts at CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business."
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Kropf, a 63-year-old El Paso resident, entered the crowded shoppette at 1333 Cassidy Road, went to offices at the rear of the store and shot Bettina Maria Goins, 44, of El Paso, and another woman, in the head, officials said. After the shooting, Kropf walked to the parking lot and sat in his car, where he was shot dead by Army civilian police, said officials of the FBI, which is handling the case."
Friday, September 24, 2010
One of the funniest things you will ever see.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Postcards From the Pledge|
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
The US exited the recession in June 2009
Political Economy - It's official: The Great Recession ended last summer: "The panel of economists that is the widely accepted arbiter of business cycles has called an end to what is now officially the longest U.S. economic downturn of the post-World War II era. The recession ended in June 2009, 18 months after it began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research's business cycle dating committee."
Sunday, September 19, 2010
A permanent cement plug sealed BP's well nearly 2.5 miles below the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico, five agonizing months after an explosion sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point man on the disaster, said Sunday BP's well ``is effectively dead.'' Allen said a pressure test to ensure the cement plug would hold was completed at 5:54 a.m. CDT.
BP Well Plugged Permanently : NPR
"This was a situation that we were put into,” he says via a live video feed from Italy, where he is now stationed. “I was just one brush stroke in that picture, and everyone else was one brush stroke in that picture. And what I wasn’t the first brush stroke of that picture, and it wasn’t the last brush stroke in that picture, and it wasn’t the best, it was just another brush stroke that helped, you know, complete this picture.”
Here, in his own words, is his tale.
As Mediaite noted, GOP strategist Jack Burkman said that the United States Postal Service employs unskilled Nigerians, and at one point said that "most of these guys working in the post office should be driving cabs." Former U.S. Senator Al D'Amato (R-NY) rebuked Burkman by stating, "You are a nasty racist. ... That's a bunch of bullshit. And you should be ashamed of yourself and have your mouth washed out. What the hell are you talking about?"
After Burkman tried to interrupt D'Amato to defend his remarks, the former senator said, "Shut up, I've listened to your racist bullshit."
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Anyone listening to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Tuesday could be forgiven for thinking that Judge Roger Vinson has the federal government dead in his sights.
Mr. Limbaugh spent some time profiling Judge Vinson, a senior judge on the Federal District Court in Pensacola, who had just announced he would allow a legal challenge to the new health care law to advance to a full hearing. The conservative radio host informed his listeners that the judge was an avid hunter and amateur taxidermist who once killed three brown bears and mounted their heads over his courtroom door to “instill the fear of God into the accused.”
“This,” Mr. Limbaugh said, “would not be good news” for liberal supporters of the health law.
But, in fact, Judge Vinson has never shot anything other than a water moccasin (last Saturday, at his weekend cabin), is not a taxidermist and, as president of the American Camellia Society, is far more familiar with Camellia reticulata than with Ursus arctos.
Apparently, Mr. Limbaugh had fallen prey to an Internet hoax.
Rush Limbaugh Falls For Wikipedia Hoax About Judge Roger Vinson: "Limbaugh spent some time discussing Roger Vinson, a District Court judge for the Northern District of Florida. Vinson had recently announced that he was likely to allow a full hearing for a challenge to the federal health care bill. Limbaugh told his listeners that the judge was a longtime hunter and amateur taxidermist, and that he had once killed three brown bears and mounted their heads above the entrance to his courtroom--in order, Limbaugh said, to 'instill the fear of God into the accused.'"
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Durbin Proposes Senate Vote on Both Parties' Tax-Cut Proposals - Bloomberg: "The U.S. Senate’s second-ranking Democrat proposed allowing the chamber to vote on both parties’ proposals for extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters in Washington today that Republicans are “deserving of a vote” on their plan to extend the tax cuts for wealthier Americans in addition to families earning $250,000 a year or less. President Barack Obama and most Democrats favor extending the tax cuts only for those earning up to $250,000, about 98 percent of all taxpayers."
Former Fla. GOP chair apologizes to Obama for school speech flap, calls Republicans ‘racist’ — Who’s News 9-14-10 | Politerati
Citing senior Obama administration officials, the Washington Post said in an article posted on its website the smaller deficit was due to higher tax revenue and lower than projected spending to bail out the financial system.
The newspaper said if the trend continued for the rest of the year it would mean the annual deficit would be $1.3 trillion -- about $300 billion less than the administration's projection two months ago for 2010."
Monday, September 13, 2010
“I am a huge bull on this country,” Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive officer, said today in remarks to the Montana Economic Development Summit. “We will not have a double-dip recession at all. I see our businesses coming back almost across the board.”"
Rich Americans Save Tax Cuts Instead of Spending, Moody's Says - Bloomberg: "Hand the wealthiest Americans a tax cut and history suggests they will save the money rather than spend it.
Tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush were followed by increases in the saving rate among the rich, according to data from Moody’s Analytics Inc. When taxes were raised under Bill Clinton, the saving rate fell."
The findings may weaken arguments by Republicans and some Democrats in Congress who say allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to lapse will prompt them to reduce their spending, harming the economy. President Barack Obama wants to extend the cuts for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000 while ending them for those who earn more.
This is th time for the US to move in to invest in Cuba.
BBC News - Cuba to cut one million public sector jobs: "Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country's struggling economy.
The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers would lose their jobs - half of them by March next year.
Those laid off will be encouraged to become self-employed or join new private enterprises, on which some of the current restrictions will be eased.
It is biggest shift to the private sector since the revolution in 1959.
Cuba's communist government currently controls almost all aspects of the country's economy and employs about 85% of the workforce."
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Defense Spending is Federal spending.
After surging in size and profits during the post-9/11 era, the defense industry in metropolitan Washington is bracing for a major contraction and significant layoffs that economists said could produce a drag on the regional economy for years.
Already, there have been signs that announced cuts in national defense programs are having an impact: Six hundred executives at Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin are accepting the company's offer of a buyout. ITT Defense and Information Systems, based in McLean, this year combined seven business units into three and cut 1,000 workers. Hundreds were let go this year from Northrop Grumman operations in Maryland.
General Dynamics, which has its headquarters in Falls Church and bases much of its information technology business in Fairfax, had just over 1,100 local employees at the end of 2000; there were nearly 6,000 by 2005. Between 2002 and last year, its revenue grew from $13.7 billion to $32 billion.
Much of the company's local work is related to information technology - areas such as collecting and processing intelligence data and managing cybersecurity. The firm also has a program office for a Marine Corps vehicle in Woodbridge and an office near the Navy Yard.
Likewise, Arlington-based contractor CACI International, which works in the defense and intelligence worlds, grew dramatically as the United States ramped up its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The company has a broad range of service-related businesses, including evaluating the military's security systems and helping it bring together multiple systems such as sensors and intelligence programs.
At the start of 2001, CACI had about 2,600 area employees; it now has close to 6,200.
Its revenue also grew virtually every year, from $490 million in 2000 to $2.7 billion in 2009. Profits ballooned from $38.4 million in 2000 to $107 million last year.
Neither of those options, though, would do as much to stimulate the economy as offering direct payments to the unemployed and Social Security recipients or reducing the payroll taxes of workers, the study found. But those proposals — as well as aid to states and municipalities — are considered politically untenable with many elected officials reluctant to even utter the word “stimulus” after the $787 billion stimulus.
So while the decision on whether to extend the tax cuts will have a lasting impact on the deficit and on how the nation’s tax burden is distributed, economists and tax experts say it is unlikely to offer much immediate relief for high unemployment and sluggish growth.
“It may have some small impact along the margins, but firms don’t hire based on tax breaks; they hire based on demand,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. “So a lot of the tax breaks are likely to be rewarding people and companies for what they were going to do anyway.”
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Medal of Honor for living soldier: first time since Vietnam - CSMonitor.com
The first living soldier to receive a Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan got a phone call from the president Thursday thanking him for his service and his “extraordinary bravery” in battle, according to the White House.
Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta from Hiawatha, Iowa, was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment as a rifle team leader on October 25, 2007 when he rescued a fellow soldier who had been wounded and taken prisoner by insurgents during an ambush on US troops.
It was in the deeply violent Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan that his squad was split into two groups and Giunta first “exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover,” according to a White House release.
Later, in the midst of fighting and while he was trying to link up with the rest of his unit, Giunta saw two insurgents carrying off a fellow soldier who had been grievously injured in the fighting.
Giunta threw a hand grenade and rushed toward the insurgents, killing one and injuring the other before rescuing the US soldier and tending to his wounds. The soldier later died of his injuries.
Born in 1985, Giunta enlisted in the Army in November, 2003. He had also been deployed to Afghanistan one year previously, from March, 2005 to March 2006, before heading back to the country for 15 months from May 2007 to July 2008.
He will become the eighth service member to receive the Medal of Honor for US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, “for acts of gallantry at the risk of his life that went above and beyond the call of duty.” All of the previous medals for both wars have been awarded posthumously.
The nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor – also known as the Congressional Medal of Honor – has been awarded posthumously to six troops fighting in the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq so far, with another to be conferred Oct. 6. Vietnam War troops earned the honor 246 times, and 464 were awarded for service in World War II.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Pastor Cancels Koran Burning and Plans to Meet Imam - NYTimes.com: "The pastor planning a burning of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks said Thursday he would not go forward with the event, adding he would meet with the imam planning to build an Islamic center near ground zero."
Global Economies: Fidel Castro Says Cuban Economic Model No Longer Works - CNBC: "Castro also criticized his own actions during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when he urged the Soviet Union to launch nuclear weapons against the United States, telling Goldberg 'it wasn't worth it at all.'"
Working Tractor Beam Can Move Objects 5 Feet With Just Light | Popular Science: "Have you ever lazily wished you could just use a tractor beam to grab that out-of-reach object? Apparently, you can.
Using only light, Australian researchers say they are able to move small particles almost five feet through the air. It’s more than 100 times the distance achieved by existing optical “tweezers,” the researchers say.
Not quite a simple grabby tractor beam, the new system works by shining a hollow laser beam at an object and taking advantage of air-temperature differences to move it around."
Former Terry Jones church in Germany denounces Koran-burning plan | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 08.09.2010
Former Terry Jones church in Germany denounces Koran-burning plan | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 08.09.2010: "A German church founded and formerly led by Terry Jones, the American pastor who international attracted attention with controversial plans to stage a Koran-burning ceremony, expressly denounced those plans on Wednesday.
Jones' former church is 'deeply disturbed' by their former leader
Stephan Baar, deputy chairman of the Christliche Gemeinde Koeln (CGD), the Christian Community of Cologne, told Deutsche Welle that Jones preached a strict, even fundamental understanding of the Bible, but that no direct comparisons could be drawn between his sermons there and the radical views he is currently espousing at his new church."
The Vatican's 'Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue' said in a statement it viewed with 'great concern' the news of the proposed 'International Burn-a-Quran Day,'' scheduled for Saturday.
'Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection,' the council, responsible for dialogue with other religions, said."
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Planned Quran-burning could endanger troops, Petraeus warns - CNN.com: "he U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Monday criticized a Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Quran on September 11, warning the demonstration 'could cause significant problems' for American troops overseas.
'It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan,' Gen. David Petraeus said in a statement issued Monday."
When George W. Bush was sworn into office as president in January 2001, he inherited a record budget surplus. Five weeks later, he addressed a joint session of Congress, urging lawmakers to act swiftly on his signature campaign promise: $1.6 trillion in tax cuts.
"I hope you'll join me in standing firmly on the side of the people," the president said. "See, the growing surplus exists because taxes are too high and government is charging more than it needs. The people of America have been overcharged, and on their behalf, I'm here asking for a refund."
Republicans cheered. But Democrats were deeply skeptical of a tax cut based on projections of a $5.6 trillion surplus over 10 years that, in fact, never came about. At the time, North Dakota's Kent Conrad was the ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
“We have cut the budget, we have balanced the budget and we are moving forward. We have done everything that we could possibly do,” Brewer said before an extended pause.
She then added: “We have ... did what was right for Arizona. I will tell you that we have really did the best that anyone could do.”
Brewer later walked out of the post-debate press conference when pressed on her refusal to retract an earlier claim — proven false — that decapitated bodies were showing up in Arizona’s deserts.
2. The law creates a new "private army" for President Obama.
3. The law requires the hiring of 16,500 new, armed Internal Revenue Service Agents.
4. The law requires you to begin to paying taxes on your health insurance next year.
5. The law dictates what you can and can't eat.
6. The law requires hospitals to fire obese employees.
Blackwater Won Contracts via Web of Companies - NYTimes.com: "Blackwater Worldwide created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, according to Congressional investigators and former Blackwater officials.
While it is not clear how many of those businesses won contracts, at least three had deals with the United States military or the Central Intelligence Agency, according to former government and company officials. Since 2001, the intelligence agency has awarded up to $600 million in classified contracts to Blackwater and its affiliates, according to a United States government official."
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
Workers Absorbed Increases in Health Insurance Costs - NYTimes.com: "As health care costs continue their relentless climb, companies are increasingly passing on higher premium costs to workers.
The shift is occurring, policy analysts and others say, as employers feel more pressure from the weak economy and the threat of even more expensive coverage under the new health care law.
In contrast to past practices of absorbing higher prices, some companies chose this year to keep their costs the same by passing the entire increase in premiums for family coverage onto their workers, according to a new survey released on Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit research group."
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Officials Assess Damage From Blast in Gulf of Mexico - NYTimes.com: "An oil platform exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning, forcing 13 workers overboard from the rig. Officials were scrambling to see if any oil had seeped into the Gulf.
Coast Guard officials said there was no sign of an oil leak near the damaged platform late Thursday afternoon, despite earlier reports that a sheen had been sighted.
“The boats and aircraft on scene cannot see a sheen,” said Capt. Peter Troedsson, the chief of staff for the Coast Guard’s Eighth District. He could not explain an earlier report of a visible layer of oil — which he said came from one of the response vessels belonging to the platform’s operator, Mariner Energy — but simply said that Coast Guard responders could not spot any signs of oil.
A Mariner official spoke more definitively, rejecting the characterization of “explosion” used by the Coast Guard and others."
Companies ranging from Chevron to Apache bussed in up to 5,000 employees to the Houston convention centre to underline to Washington the industry’s contribution to the country."
The productivity of American businesses fell a revised 1.8% in the second quarter, twice as much as the government initially reported. Last month, the Labor Department originally estimated that productivity fell 0.9% to mark the first decline in five quarters. Yet worker output grew at a slower pace based on newly revised data. Real output grew just 1.6% in the second quarter, compared to the prior estimate of 2.6%. Hours worked rose at a 3.5% annualized rate - the fastest in four years.
Productivity declines 1.8% in second quarter - MarketWatch
U.S. Department of Defense Announces Latest Contract Awards
Trident Systems, Inc.*, Fairfax, Va., is being awarded a $48,512,191 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the procurement of technology solutions for persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance on Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle platforms.
The Boeing Co., Oklahoma City, Okla., is being awarded a $19,121,714 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide contractor engineering technical services including on-site proficiency training, providing technical guidance and advice to resolve unusually complex technical problems, and providing technical expertise related to AV-8B, C-17, C-32, C-40, F/A-18, F-15, F-22 and KC-135 aircraft. The estimated level of effort for this contract is 183,323 man-hours.
T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded $15,407,072 for firm-fixed price task order #0003 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N62473-10-D-5412) for design and construction of a bachelor quarters at San Clemente Island, Calif. Three two-story buildings will be constructed that will provide 53 two-person units for accommodations totaling 106 personnel. Work will be performed on San Clemente Island, Calif., and is expected to be completed by February 2012.
Raytheon Technical Services Co., LLC, Indianapolis, Ind., is being awarded a $14,831,456 firm-fixed-price contract for the Phase II production of 188 AN/ALE-47 forward firing dual dispenser pods for rapid installation on CH-53D/E helicopters.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
CEO pay has been blasted for increasing risk to the economy, being out of proportion to ordinary wages and being unrelated to actual company performance. And, according to a new study, a high salary may actually make your company's CEO meaner. (Hat tip to Harvard Business Review)
In the study's white paper, "When Executives Rake in Millions: Meanness in Organizations,"professors from Harvard, Rice and the University of Utah argue that rising income inequality between executives and ordinary workers results in "power asymmetries in the workplace such that top executives come to view lower level workers as dispensable objects not worthy of human dignity."
Econ Times: CEO layoff leaders also led in pay in '09
The heads of firms that laid off the most workers during the recession earned nearly $12 million a year on average, 42 percent more than other chief executives at S&P 500 firms in 2009, according to a report released Wednesday.
CEO's of the 50 firms that laid off the most workers earned a combined $598 million in 2009, according to the 17th annual executive compensation survey produced by the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington think tank.
Manufacturing is great under President Obama.
Manufacturing reports that showed growth in the United States and China helped propel stocks on Wednesday, providing an upbeat start to a new month.
Investors on Wall Street took notice, and the market charged ahead more than 200 points shortly after the open. It never looked back after the Institute for Supply Management manufacturing survey of hundreds of companies showed surprising growth in its index after previous regional surveys appeared weak.
Investors, he added, “saw the two largest economies in the world reporting better P.M.I. surveys,” referring to purchasing manager indexes. “They were able to breathe a lot easier after they saw those two reports. There was widespread relief.”
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 254.75 points, or 2.54 percent, to 10,269.47. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 30.96 points, or 2.95 percent, to 1,080.29, while the Nasdaq composite index gained 62.81 points, or 2.97 percent, to 2,176.84.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority appeared together Wednesday with President Obama, who urged the leaders to produce "lasting change" during their peace talks in Washington.
In remarks that followed, Mr. Netanyahu said that he "came here today to make peace," and "didn't come here to find excuses or make them." And he addressed Mr. Abbas directly, saying that they could not correct the failures of the past, but could work to improve the future.
Mr. Abbas then struck similar themes, calling on Israelis and Palestinians "to live as neighbors, partners" while calling for an independent Palestinian state. He said he thought it would be possible to achieve a settlement “within a year” despite a troubled history between the Israelis and the Palestinians, including what he described as “the historical injustices of 1948” and “the occupation that started in 1967.”
Mr. Obama’s one-on-one meetings earlier with Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas in the White House Oval Office began under the cloud of the violent attack Tuesday on the West Bank, claimed by Hamas militants, which left four Israeli settlers dead.