An astonishing level of outrage has been ignited by our national and local political leaders over proposals to find housing among the states for some of the 57,000 children and teens now living in what amounts to a refugee camp on the border between Mexico and Texas.
Gang membership, predators and vastly inflated fears of disease carriers have all been staked out as reasons to say “not our problem.” Stories of communities refusing to shelter any of these children are as close as Carroll County.
According to a Department of Homeland Security report, unaccompanied border-crossing children from Honduras and El Salvador “come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the US preferable to remaining at home.”
Maryland’s top elected officials gave a key approval Wednesday to developing a natural gas export facility in Southern Maryland that some fear could threaten residents’ safety and the environment.
In their first and only vote on the controversy, Gov. Martin O’Malley and the other two members of the state Board of Public Works allowed the $3.4 billion project to proceed, following more than 21/2 hours of testimony.
For O’Malley, it was a test of where he stands in the national debate over the environmental impacts of the booming U.S. shale gas industry — especially the controversial “fracking” extraction process — as he eyes a run for the White House.
A financial analyst questioned the rating upgrades issued by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) to many local governments, saying he was “skeptical” of the agency’s scoring. He noted such practices could encourage ratings shopping by issuers.
Since last fall, when S&P released new scoring criteria, the agency has been reassessing ratings for thousands of local governments. Generally, and as predicted by S&P itself, the new criteria resulted in more upgrades of governments than downgrades. But a Janney Montgomery Scott analyst pointed out in his July note on the bond market that those changes have not put S&P’s ratings more in line with competitors Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.
Ratings shopping, where a government issuer chooses to publish just its highest credit agency rating, came under scrutiny in the aftermath of the financial crisis but the focus from regulators and investors was on the rosy ratings from all credit agencies assigned to mortgage-backed-securities. According to Kozlik, however, investors should bring similar skepticism to S&P’s ratings of local governments. “In other words,” he wrote, “we do not think that some of S&P’s ratings reflect the risk investors are taking.”
Pennsylvanians will save a few minutes on highways where the speed limit is raised to 70 mph but probably will pay a price in more crashes, injuries and fatalities, two safety advocates warned.
Pennsylvania is the 38th state to have a speed limit of at least 70 mph. Ohio raised the limit to 70 on sections of six interstate highways last year and on its turnpike in 2011. West Virginia adopted a 70-mph limit in 1997.
Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill, speaking in Washington on Wednesday, expressed concern about the way apps on smartphones and mobile devices are siphoning sensitive health data, and how some of that information may then be shared with third parties.
After a panel discussion hosted by U.S. political site The Hill, Brill told Reuters that many companies now prefer to focus on how data is used, because that is where “the rubber hits the road when it comes to patient harm.” Developers should give consumers more tools and “robust choice mechanisms” before any sensitive data is collected and stored.
“We don’t know where that information ultimately goes,” Brill told the panel. “It makes consumers uncomfortable.” She has put pressure on Congress to pass laws prohibiting the collection of personal information under false pretenses.
Worried that you are not getting the broadband speed that you Internet service provider promised? The FCC has an app for that.
The agency issued an advisory today reminding ISPs that they must disclose accurate information about connectivity speeds and services for home and mobile broadband. The Federal Communications Commission has received hundreds of complaints on the issue over the last several months.
The FCC adopted ISP transparency provisions in 2011 as part of the Open Internet rules. That Open Internet Transparency Rule remains active even though a federal court struck down some of the agency’s Open Internet rules as part of the ongoing legal battle over net neutrality.
Stop-start engines, which shut off when vehicle comes to a full stop, boost fuel efficiency and cut greenhouse emissions by 5%-7%, AAA says. The engines are likely to become more common in coming years.
Based on AAA’s research, which was conducted with the Auto Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, motorists could save up to $179 in annual fuel costs. That’s based on driving 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that averages 20 miles per gallon with fuel prices at $3.65 a gallon.
“It’s not too intrusive,” John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of engineering, says of the technology, which shuts the engine off when drivers come to a complete stop, such as at traffic lights or stop signs. While the engine is shut off, systems and gadgets run on battery power. The engine starts again when the driver releases the brake or clutch.
Undercover investigators using fake identities were able to secure taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.
The weak link seemed to be call centers that handled applications for frazzled consumers unable to get through online.
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office told a House committee that its investigators were able to get subsidized health care under fake names in 11 out of 18 attempts—even after HealthCare.gov’s much maligned online system flagged some applications as problematic.
After spending nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, the Social Security Administration still can’t get it to work. And officials can’t say when it will.
Six years ago, Social Security embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. But the project has been racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.
Today, the project is still in the testing phase, and the agency can’t say when it will be operational or how much it will cost.
Authorities say a flight operated by Air Algerie carrying 110 passengers and a crew of six has disappeared from the radar on a flight from Burkina Faso to Algiers.
The official Algerian news agency said air navigation services lost track of the Swiftair plane 50 minutes after takeoff—at 0155 GMT. Flight AH5017 had been missing for hours before news was made public.
Swiftair, the private Spanish airline, confirmed that 116 people were aboard.
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday proposed an overhaul of safety standards for transporting crude oil and ethanol by rail, after a number of explosive accidents over the past year.
The draft rules, which are subject to a 60-day public comment period, propose new tank-car braking systems, train-speed restrictions, more testing for volatile gases and liquids, and a two-year phase out of older tank cars that officials have said are prone to puncture and fire when derailments occur.
The rules follow an 18-month period which saw more than a dozen derailments of trains carrying crude oil, six of which led to major fires and one of which caused the death of 47 people in the Canadian town of Lac Megantic, in Quebec province.