Sunday, January 03, 2010
Tougher cases await justices in second half
Michael Doyle ― Philadelphia Inquirer

Political funding, gun bans, and NFL gear are on the docket for a term that resumes next week.

The Supreme Court entered its holiday intermission with the starkest drama put off until the second act.

When the justices return Jan. 11 for their next oral arguments, they will barely have scratched the surface of their 2009-10 term. They have issued only four decisions so far, none dealing with the cases for which the term is likely to be remembered.

Sammy 04:44 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Virginia promotes state payday loans
Hank Silverberg ― WTOP

Virginia is one state that’s actually encouraging payday loans, specifically those offered by the government. It’s a program the state’s now promoting as a model for the whole country.

Normally with paydays loans you get $100 to $500 with a promise to pay it back on payday at a very high interest, sometimes as much as 400 percent.

Virginia says their program offers state employees the chance to take payday loans at a lower, 24 percent, interest rate. Governor Tim Kaine says it’s been very successful.

Sammy 04:39 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Freight trains make big comeback in nation’s transportation network
Alana Semuels ― Los Angeles Times

Warren Buffett’s recent purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe shows the renewed importance of railroads in the global supply chain.

More than 4,000 miles of train tracks stretch through California, winding up the blustery Cajon Pass and snaking through the desert surrounding Barstow.

Those tracks could be seeing a lot more traffic in the next few years as trains loaded with Chinese-made toys, electronics and clothing roll eastward, connecting West Coast ports with cities across the U.S.

Sammy 04:28 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Montana’s big sky views become bigger tax burdens
Kim Murphy ― Los Angeles Times

One region in the northwest fears it’s the next Vail, Colo., as celebrities and new money move in, forcing property values up and longtime residents out.

Charles Abell grew up here in the Flathead Valley in a rustic log cabin his parents built during their honeymoon out on Whitefish Lake. When he married, Abell bought a small house on another part of the lake, leaving the old family cabin for his brother.

He paid $35,000 for the house in 1967, raised his two boys there, and until lately figured he’d probably die in the same tidy house with the metal awning over the porch, the collection of souvenir spoons and beer steins hanging like sweet memories in the small kitchen.

That was until the tax bill came this fall.

Sammy 04:26 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Government insurance for long-term care likely to slip into final healthcare bill
James Oliphant ― Los Angeles Times

The plan would let any employee pay into the program and later receive benefits for in-home assistance to the elderly and disabled. The proposal has drawn majority opposition but little attention.

Reporting from Washington - A government insurance plan to provide in-home assistance to the elderly and disabled is poised to become law despite a majority of senators voting against including the proposal in the healthcare overhaul bill.

The so-called CLASS plan would allow workers to sign up for a payroll deduction program similar to Social Security. Participation would be voluntary, with fees and benefits to be determined by the age of the participant.

Sammy 04:16 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Fed officials defend policies, see slow recovery
Mark Felsenthal and Pedro da Costa ― Reuters

Top U.S. Federal Reserve officials defended policies leading up to the recent financial crisis, arguing that exotic mortgages and overconfidence in home price gains, not low interest rates, fueled a catastrophic housing bubble.

Addressing an economists’ conference in Atlanta on Sunday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the U.S. economy is only now recovering from recession, and Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn warned the pace of recovery will be slow.

Bernanke said that vigorous financial regulation would have been the best way to restrain the housing boom that helped cause the deep recession but said policy makers can no longer rule out monetary policy to curb the buildup of risk.

Sammy 04:01 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Unemployment sets a grim record in 2009
MSNBC

A record 20 million-plus Americans collected unemployment benefits at some point in 2009, a year that ended with the jobless rate at 10 percent.

As the pace of layoffs slows, the number of new applicants visiting unemployment offices has been on the decline in recent months. But limited hiring means the ranks of the long-term unemployed continues to grow, with more than 5.8 million people out of work for more than six months.
[...]
More than 10.1 million people collected jobless benefits in the week of Dec. 12, the latest data available. That’s up by about 200,000 compared with the previous week.

That figure includes 5.3 million people receiving the 26 weeks of aid customarily provided by the states, and 4.8 million people that have shifted to the extended benefit programs enacted by Congress over the past two years and paid for by the federal government. Unemployment insurance averages about $300 per week.

Sammy 11:48 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Maryland Association of Counties: Schedule - Winter Conference

Of The People, By The People, For the People

Annual Winter Conference - January 6-8, 2010

Hyatt Regency Hotel, Cambridge

Related thread: Charles County Commissioners’ Meeting

Sammy 11:05 AM | (8) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
US official: Extremists seek new ways to attack US
MY WAY

A top counterterrorism official is warning that al-Qaida and other extremists are working to test U.S. defenses and launch an attack on American soil.

National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter says the failed Christmas Day attempt to bring down a U.S. airliner is the starkest reminder of that threat.

Leiter said in a statement Saturday that officials “know with absolute certainty” that al-Qaida and others are trying to refine their methods.

Sammy 09:12 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Will latest jobs bill really produce jobs?
JIM ABRAMS ― MY WAY

When the Senate takes up a jobs bill later this month or early in February, the debate will center on whether it really will create jobs and be worth plunging the government tens of billions of dollars further into debt.

Republicans scoff at the “Jobs for Main Street Act” title that House Democrats put on their $174 billion package last month. They refer to it as “son of the stimulus,” the $787 billion economic recovery plan of nearly a year ago that they say was ineffective at producing jobs.

In its last vote of 2009, the House narrowly passed the bill, 217-212, without a single Republican supporter.

Sammy 09:09 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS - AGENDA SUMMARY

Meeting Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sammy 09:06 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
GOP cash woes threaten House bids
BEN SMITH & JOSH KRAUSHAAR ― Politico

With the Republican Party on the cusp of major gains in the House next year — and with the dream of retaking the House appearing to be a real, if improbable, possibility — one major obstacle remains: tightfisted Republican incumbents.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, the key cog in helping to finance GOP campaigns, has banked less than a third as much money as its Democratic counterpart and is ending the year with barely enough money to fully finance a single House race — no less the dozens that will be in play come 2010.

Sammy 09:01 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Report: UK drinking culture strains health system
MEERA SELVA ― WTOP

Just as Britons brew black coffee to cope with holiday hangovers, they are also digesting a new report that warns the country’s notorious drinking culture is putting an unacceptable strain on hospitals and medical staff.

The cash-strapped National Health Service _ the U.K.‘s taxpayer-funded medical system _ now spends 2.7 billion pounds ($4.4 billion) a year treating patients for drink-related problems, double the amount five years ago, the report said. Total funding for the health care system is currently around 100 billion pounds ($162 billion) a year.

Sammy 08:59 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
U.S.-China relations to face strains, experts say
John Pomfret ― Washington Post

The United States and China are headed for a rough patch in the early months of the new year as the White House appears set to sell a package of weapons to Taiwan and as President Obama plans to meet the Dalai Lama, U.S. officials and analysts said.

The Obama administration is expected to approve the sale of several billion dollars in Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan early this year, possibly accompanied by a plan gauging design and manufacturing capacity for diesel-powered submarines for the island, which China claims as its territory. The president is also preparing to meet the spiritual leader of Tibet, who is considered a separatist by Beijing. Obama made headlines last year when the White House, in an effort to generate goodwill from China, declined to meet the Dalai Lama, marking the first time in more than a decade that a U.S. president did not meet the religious leader during his occasional visits to Washington.

Sammy 08:32 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Census counts on partnerships to find hard-to-reach groups
Carol Morello ― Washington Post

George Duangmanee is a financial adviser in the District, an immigrant and an officer in a scholarship program for Asian tennis players. It is the latter role that has made him a catch for the Census Bureau.

Although he did not bother to mail back his questionnaire for the 2000 Census, he has been sending e-mails touting the 2010 count to 15,000 people involved in the Thai Tennis Organization. He has enlisted other Thai organizations to help translate census posters into the Thai language and promote the tally at thaicensus.org. He is also passing out water bottles labeled with the 2010 Census logo at Asian festivals in the Washington region.

Sammy 08:28 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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