The billable hour has long been the mainstay of law firms and their pay structure. But in recent years, firms have had to become more creative in how they get paid, as they compete for business with ever more cost-conscious companies.
Enter the “alternative fee arrangement.” Whether it’s a flat fee, a capped fee, a blended rate or some other variety, alternative fee arrangements are giving the billable hour a run for its money.
Federal agencies investigating food stamp fraud have begun bringing cases—and convictions—in a push that is likely to mean charges against more retailers that trade the federal benefit for cigarettes or cash.
According to the USDA, 47.6 million Americans get around $75 billion a year in food stamps, and an estimated $858 million is “trafficked” into improper uses.
That translates to around 1.3 percent of the program’s funds misspent annually. That’s down from estimated 4 percent loss rates in the 1990s, but up from historically low rates of 1 percent before 2009. The USDA attributes the uptick to an increase in the number of small- and mid-sized retailers who are accepting food stamps.
It is now known that generations of Americans were slowly poisoned by lead in the water, the air and in their houses, but at the time the effects were largely invisible. Although people knew that lead was poisonous, few people thought the small amount that leached into the water from the plumbing was enough to cause health problems.
In comparison, the average person today is exposed to a miniscule amount of lead. But as lead levels in the environment have plummeted over the past few decades, so too has the threshold that health authorities consider hazardous. In the 1960s, 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood was considered a dangerous reading for a child. In the 1970s, anything over 30 micrograms per deciliter was the official CDC definition for elevated childhood levels; in 1985 it dropped to 25, and in 1991 it dropped to 10. Last year, the CDC endorsed a recommendation to use a shifting definition that would be lowered every four years, stating it cannot pinpoint a particular level of lead that is “safe.”
Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) is offering college scholarships for the 2014-2015 school year. Four high school seniors will be awarded $1,500 each. Students are eligible to apply if they live with parents or guardians who are SMECO customers. Seniors must be enrolled or plan to enroll full-time in an accredited college, university, or trade school. The deadline for students to apply for college scholarships is Friday, March 7, 2014. For more information, or to obtain an application, go to www.smeco.coop.
To be eligible for SMECO scholarships, students must have maintained a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Four $1,500 scholarships will be awarded based on scholastic achievement, financial need, and community and school involvement. As part of the application process, students must submit an essay on “Why is a College Education Important to Completing My Lifetime Goals?” Scholarship finalists will be interviewed on Saturday, March 22, 2014.
Charles County Government offices will open two hours late today, Monday, Dec. 9, due to inclement weather. Charles County Government administrative offices will open at 10 a.m. County government employees scheduled to report to work at 10 a.m. or later should report to work at their scheduled time. Essential personnel and employees required to maintain operations during inclement weather are to report to work as scheduled.
The following facilities and services will open on a delayed schedule:
Black Ankle Vineyard in Mount Airy has become the latest example of a local wine-making business to employ alternative energy.
A 73.8-kilowatt roof-mounted solar system installed recently will offset 100 percent of Black Ankle’s energy usage. State and federal grants will cover 25 percent of the $180,000 project cost.
“What’s exciting is that the project will pay for itself in about four years,” said Ed Boyce, who owns the farm with his wife, Sarah O’Herron.
NASA and its 15 international partners are celebrating the station’s birth 15 years ago this month, and its growth into a research complex weighing more than a million pounds and stretching longer than an American football field.
Crews have lived there continuously for more than 13 years, with six-person expeditions now the norm.
Orbiting 260 miles above Earth, the station is now the centerpiece of the U.S. human spaceflight program, though it is just starting to tap its potential as a national laboratory and faces questions about its long-term future.
After years of success in Washington, the ethanol industry’s power may be slipping.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal last month to slash for the first time ever the amount of ethanol that must be mixed into the nation’s gasoline supply marked just the latest blow to an industry that until recently had seen consumption of the largely corn-based fuel soar. Experts say the growth helped mask underlying problems that now threaten to slow or even halt the industry’s expansion.
When the Air Force looked for ways to save money last year to deal with declining budgets, officials decided to halt work on a high-flying, long-endurance spy drone built in Palmdale, Calif., by defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp.
At a cost of $35,000 per flying hour, the Global Hawk Block 30 aircraft had “priced itself out of the niche, in terms of taking pictures in the air,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said at the time.
The Air Force planned to stop buying the Global Hawk and mothball 18 of those it already owned to save about $2.5 billion over five years. The high-tech drones, the military said, were not as capable as the battle-tested U-2 spy planes.
A Senate vote to renew an expiring ban on plastic firearms capable of evading metal detectors and X-ray machines is shaping up as a bittersweet moment for gun control supporters, days before the anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Monday’s vote to extend the prohibition on plastic guns for another decade responds to a growing threat from steadily improving 3-D printers that can produce such weapons. But gun control advocates seem sure to lose an effort to impose additional, tougher restrictions on plastic firearms - a harsh reminder of their failure to enact any new federal gun curbs in the year since 20 first-graders and six educators were murdered in Newtown, Conn.
College Park wants to become one of the nation’s 20 greatest college towns.
The vision: A community with the reputation of being safer than college neighborhoods in the District. A place where University of Maryland professors and other employees want to live and raise their children. A certified “green community” with a vibrant downtown that has more pedestrians, bicyclists and bus riders than cars. The sort of place that shows up on unscientific rankings of the best places to go to school.
Americans boosted their borrowing in October, led by another big increase in auto and student loans and the biggest rise in credit card debt in five months.
Consumers increased their borrowing by $18.2 billion in October to a seasonally adjusted $3.08 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. That is a record level and follows a September increase of $16.3 billion.
The increase was led by a $13.9 billion rise in borrowing for auto loans and student loans. But borrowing in the category that covers credit cards rose by $4.3 billion following a decline of $218 million in September. It was the biggest monthly credit-card gain since May and could be a sign that consumer spending will increase in coming months. Credit card borrowing has lagged other types of debt.
Violent dramas on the broadcast networks carry milder parental cautions than cable shows like “The Walking Dead” but can equal them in graphic gore, a failure of the TV ratings system, a new study found.
Scenes of stabbings, shootings, rape, decapitation and mutilation invariably received a TV-14 “parents strongly cautioned” rating on network TV, according to the Parents Television Council study released Monday.
But similar fare on cable typically was given the most stringent label, TV-MA for mature audiences only, researchers for the media watchdog group found.
Federal health officials, after encouraging alternate sign-up methods amid the fumbled rollout of their online insurance website, began quietly urging counselors around the country this week to stop using paper applications to enroll people in health insurance because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time.
Interviews with enrollment counselors, insurance brokers and a government official who works with navigators in Illinois reveal the latest change in direction by the Obama administration, which had been encouraging paper applications and other means because of all the problems with the federal website. Consumers must sign up for insurance under the federal health overhaul by Dec. 23 in order for coverage to start in January.
“We received guidance from the feds recommending that folks apply online as opposed to paper,” said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance.
Every time you stand up for an ideal, you send forth a tiny ripple of hope. Robert Kennedy