Posts Tagged ‘United States



29
Jul
10

Clinton wedding extravaganza special!

NEWS
Clinton wedding extravaganza special!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

••• Wedding bells aren’t ringing yet, but the cash tills are, as the countdown begins in tiny Rhinebeck to Chelsea Clinton’s celebrity wedding on Saturday.

‘It’s like having the Olympics in your town,’ exclaimed Alex Batkin, manager of the up-market Wing and Clover arts-and-craft boutique.

Like the rest of the world, locals can only guess at details of the secrecy-shrouded marriage between Chelsea, daughter of former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her investment banker beau Marc Mezvinsky.

The guest list remains under wraps, with names as varied as Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey thrown around on gossip websites, but President Barack Obama apparently is not showing.

The location is assumed to be the posh Astor Courts estate just outside Rhinebeck, almost a three hours drive from New York City, though even this has never been confirmed.

In any case, Rhinebeck, population less than 8000, is laying out the welcome mat.

‘Congratulations to Marc and Chelsea!’ a poster in the window of Pete’s Famous Restaurant, an old style diner, says.

‘Mazel tov,’ reads a sign in Samuel’s sweets shop, using the Hebrew for ‘good luck’ in a nod to the Jewish Mezvinsky.
Mixed with goodwill is hunger for good business in a sleepy town shifting from rural roots to the glitzier role of retreat for New York’s wealthy.

Echoing the Clinton family news blackout, no one here will openly discuss their share in the bonanza brought by the expected 400 guests at a no-expenses-spared party. But, clearly, no one wants to be left out.

One of the big winners is believed to be the picturesque Beekman Arms inn, which claims to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the United States.

Workers were adding a lick of white paint under the roof on Tuesday as staff lugged in suitcases to fully booked rooms.

Asked who was staying, the normally polite front desk clerks became stony faced.

‘No comment,’ one told a reporter. Another conveyed the same message by raising her hands to make an X with two fingers.

Batkin’s store revealed at least one success: a painting bought as a gift for the betrothed.

The picture is emblazoned ‘Chelsea and Marc’ over a naive-style depiction of a wedding cake surrounded by trees, squirrels and a fish-filled river.
Of course, Batkin wouldn’t say how much the painting went for – or to whom.

‘I just can’t,’ he said apologetically.

Across the road at Liquors and Wines, Mike Haley said the supplier for white wine at the party would be Clinton Vineyards from the happily named nearby town of Clinton.

‘It’s light and dry. It goes good with fish or chicken,’ he said.

Haley looked wistfully at his huge selection of bottles. ‘I’d love to supply. I haven’t had a call from them yet, though,’ he said.

Hoping to get at least a few financial crumbs from the wedding table, he did put some bottles of Clinton Vineyards Tribute 2009 in his storefront window.’

Another entrepreneur seeking wedding joy is Rhinebeck Deli, where the menu features the Hillary Clinton-themed ‘Secretary of Steak’.’

Even the Hudson Valley Renegades, a minor league baseball team, wants to get in on the act.’
Their mascot, a man dressed as a raccoon, stood at Rhinebeck’s main crossroads on Tuesday with a sign reading: ‘Chelsea Will U Marry Me?’ Locals and bemused tourists grinned at the sight.’

‘We’re trying to get a little buzz going for the team, so people come down to the park and check us out,’ explained teammate A.J. Tomeny.’

All the excitement would implode spectacularly if it turned out Rhinebeck was not the real wedding location, but an elaborate diversion in the Clinton information war – as a few conspiracy minded locals suspect.’

The Hudson Valley News, a local weekly that has become a must-read for the growing international press corps in the town, says not to worry.’

Without citing sources, the latest edition reports that the wedding will indeed take place at Astor Courts, starting at 6 pm on Saturday and that police will shut down roads in the vicinity.’

‘Congratulations Chelsea and Marc’ the slightly premature front page banner headline reads.’

Drinking coffee in Pete’s Famous Restaurant, 79-year-old Ed Hammond called the hoopla ‘insane’.’

‘I think they’ve lost track of the two people at the centre, the ones actually getting married,’ he said.’

‘Myself, I’ll get the hell out. I’m not much of one for crowds.’
» Related: It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!
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24
Jul
10

Weekly Address: Moving Forward on the Economy vs. Moving Backward

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Weekly Address: Moving Forward on the Economy vs. Moving Backward
President Obama Praises New Wall Street Reform Law; Says GOP Plan Will Take Us Backward

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In this week’s address, President Obama praised the Wall Street reform bill that he signed into law on Wednesday and explained how it fits into the greater strategy to bring the country out of recession and build an economy for the long run. The president’s plan is aimed at strengthening the middle class and gives tax breaks to small businesses that creates jobs here, invests in homegrown, clean energy, and cuts taxes for working families. Unfortunately, when the Republican leader in the House offered his plan to create jobs this week, he presented the same policy ideas that led to this recession – ideas that will kill jobs instead of create them, and will add $1 trillion to the deficit, not reduce it.

This week, I signed into law a Wall Street reform bill that will protect consumers and our entire economy from the recklessness and irresponsibility that led to the worst recession of our lifetime. It’s reform that will help put a stop to the abusive practices of mortgage lenders and credit card companies. It will end taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street firms. And it will finally bring the shadowy deals that caused the financial crisis into the light of day.

Wall Street reform is a key pillar of an overall economic plan we’ve put in place to dig ourselves out of this recession and build an economy for the long run – an economy that makes America more competitive and our middle-class more secure. It’s a plan based on the Main Street values of hard work and responsibility – and one that demands new accountability from Wall Street to Washington.

Instead of giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, we want to give tax breaks to small business owners who are creating jobs right here in America. Already, we’ve given small businesses eight new tax cuts, and have expanded lending to more than 60,000 small business owners.

We’re also investing in a homegrown, clean energy industry – because I don’t want to see new solar panels and wind turbines and electric cars manufactured in some other country. I want to see them made in America, by American workers. So far, we’ve provided new tax credits, loan guarantees, and investments that will lead to more than 800,000 clean energy jobs by 2012. And throughout America, communities are being rebuilt by people working in hundreds of thousands of new private sector jobs repairing our roads, bridges, and railways.

Our economic plan is also aimed at strengthening the middle-class. That’s why we’ve cut taxes for 95% of working families. That’s why we’ve offered tax credits that have made college more affordable for millions of students, and why we’re making a new commitment to our community colleges. And that’s why we passed health insurance reform that will stop insurance companies from dropping or denying coverage based on an illness or pre-existing condition.

This is our economic plan – smart investments in America’s small businesses, America’s clean energy industry, and America’s middle-class. Now, I can’t tell you that this plan will bring back all the jobs we lost and restore our economy to full strength overnight. The truth is, it took nearly a decade of failed economic policies to create this mess, and it will take years to fully repair the damage. But I am confident that we are finally headed in the right direction. We are moving forward. And what we can’t afford right now is to go back to the same ideas that created this mess in the first place.

Unfortunately, those are the ideas we keep hearing from our friends in the other party. This week, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives offered his plan to create jobs. It’s a plan that’s surprisingly short, and sadly familiar.

First, he would repeal health insurance reform, which would take away tax credits from millions of small business owners, and take us back to the days when insurance companies had free rein to drop coverage and jack up premiums. Second, he would say no to new investments in clean energy, after his party already voted against the clean energy tax credits and loans that are creating thousands of new jobs and hundreds of new businesses. And third, even though his party voted against tax cuts for middle-class families, he would permanently keep in place the tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans – the same tax cuts that have added hundreds of billions to our debt.

These are not new ideas. They are the same policies that led us into this recession. They will not create jobs, they will kill them. They will not reduce our deficit, they will add $1 trillion to our deficit. They will take us backward at a time when we need to keep America moving forward.

I know times are tough. I know that the progress we’ve made isn’t good enough for the millions of Americans who are still out of work or struggling to pay the bills. But I also know the character of this nation. I know that in times of great challenge and difficulty, we don’t fear the future – we shape the future. We harness the skills and ingenuity of the most dynamic country on Earth to reach a better day. We do it with optimism, and we do it with confidence. That’s the spirit we need right now, and that’s the future I know we can build together.
Thank you.

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• Source(s): The White House
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23
Jul
10

Tablet War Hots Up With Microsoft iPad Rival

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Tablet War Hots Up With Microsoft iPad Rival

Friday, July 23, 2010

••• Microsoft is taking on the iPad in the battle of the tablets as it announced plans to launch it own version later this year.

It is working in partnership with Hewlett-Packard whose executive vice president Todd Bradley said: ‘Slates are going to be an enormous category.

‘Our focus is working with still our largest software partner, Microsoft, to create a tablet, a slate, for the enterprise business.’

‘This is just in its infancy.’

Apple has sold more than three million iPads since it went on sale in April and Microsoft has been seeking to develop products that will tap into the lucrative market.

When the Microsoft tablet arrives on the shelves it may benefit from one key advantage over its Apple rival.

The HP tablet computer will be able to run Flash, the popular video software from Adobe which Apple has barred from the iPad.
The news comes as Microsoft revealed a record $4.52 billion profit with a fourth quarter revenue of more than $16 billion dollars.

The American tech company credited the strong sales figures to the successful launch of its latest-generation Office 2010 software and to continued strong demand for its new Windows 7 operating system.

The popularity of its Xbox 360 videogame consoles and Bing’s improving share of the Internet search market also contributed to the successful final quarter of its fiscal year.

Microsoft chief operating officer Kevin Turner said: ‘We look forward to continuing our product momentum this fall with the upcoming launches of Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Kinect.’
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21
Jul
10

Obama signs historic finance reform bill

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Obama signs historic finance reform bill
Historic financial overhaul signed to law by Obama

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed into law the most sweeping reform of the U.S. finance industry since the 1930s, promising U.S. taxpayers would no longer get the bill for Wall Street excess.

The legislation, which some Republicans have pledged to repeal, introduces new consumer protections, checks the power of big banks and cracks down on deceptive practices by credit card firms.

“Because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more tax-funded bailouts,” Obama promised.

Seeking to restore public confidence in his economic leadership as unemployment flirts with double digits, Obama said the bill would repair the fractures and abuses of which the financial meltdown was born.

“It was a crisis born of a failure of responsibility from certain corners of Wall Street to the halls of power in Washington,” said Obama, before adding the legacy-boosting law to his huge health care reform passed earlier this year.

“These reforms represent the strongest consumer financial protections in history,” Obama said, before signing the new law, passed by Congress last week.

“These protections will be enforced by a new consumer watchdog with just one job: looking out for people – not big banks, not lenders, not investment houses.”

The financial reform bill finally squeezed through Congress with just a handful of Republican votes, as the opposition party continued with its policy of trying to block Obama’s ambitious reform program at all costs.

Republican leaders on Wednesday condemned the new law, saying it would crimp growth, and handcuff the might of America’s financial titans.

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele accused Obama of trying to convince “sceptical Americans that he is doing everything he can to lower unemployment.”

“President Obama has signed into law a 2300 page behemoth that will saddle the business community with innumerable unintended consequences, tighter credit, and countless job-killing regulations,” Steele said.

Obama, facing record low approval ratings in some polls, hopes the financial reforms will eventually become popular, but much of the bill, like the health care bill, is so complicated that it will not come into force for months.

For instance, it will be up to a year before a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is set up to protect American consumers from hidden fees and deceptive lending practices when they get a new mortgage or credit card.

It could be 18 months before new regulations emerge to stop banks from engaging in impermissible proprietary trading and investment in hedge funds – under the Volcker rule, named after former Federal Reserve chief Paul Volcker.

In a bid to highlight the help the bill will grant to the middle classes, Obama was joined at the signing ceremony by several Americans who suffered unfair treatment at the hands of credit card firms and banks.

The legislation closes loopholes in regulations and requires greater transparency and accountability for hedge funds, mortgage brokers and payday lenders, as well as arcane financial instruments called derivatives.

The measure has drawn praise but also skepticism from economists and analysts.

The bill “addresses a number of key weaknesses in the U.S. financial regulatory structure that led to the financial meltdown in 2008 and early 2009,” said Brian Bethune at IHS Global Insight.

But Diane Swonk at Mesirow Financial warned that much of the impact is not known.

“We will have more regulators overseeing – but not necessarily averting – risk, and with a bill so large and undefined, we are likely to get more, in terms of unintended than intended consequences, going forward,” she said.

The law is likely to generate heated debate ahead of congressional elections in November as Republicans call for its reversal.

House Republican leader John Boehner said recently the law “ought to be repealed” and replaced with “common-sense things that we should do to plug the holes in the regulatory system.”
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• Source(s): The White House
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20
Jul
10

“Microneedle” Skin Patch May Replace Flu Shot

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“Microneedle” Skin Patch May Replace Flu Shot

Disappearing Needles: Vaccine-Delivery Patch with Dissolving Microneedles Eliminates “Sharps” Waste and Improves Protection

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

••• Traditional flu jabs may be rendered obsolete by a hi-tech skin patch which delivers vaccine painlessly through scores of tiny needles.

The patch could revolutionize pandemic control by allowing vaccines to be self-administered, scientists in the U.S. say.

The patch can be easily used at home by someone with no medical training.

When the patch is applied to the skin, its hundred ‘microneedles’ – each measuring just over half a millimetre – deliver the vaccine and simply dissolve away.

The needle arrays are made from a plastic-like polymer that is known to be safe for use in the body. What remains is a water-soluble backing that can safely be discarded.

The head of the research team, professor Mark Prausnitz, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta said: ‘We have shown that a dissolving microneedle patch can vaccinate against influenza at least as well, and probably better than, a traditional hypodermic needle.’

Tests on mice showed that vaccination with the microneedles caused a stronger immune response than an injection by syringe.

The patch could aid mass-immunization in poor parts of the world. It could help to avoid infections such as HIV and hepatitis B that are often spread by re-use of dirty hypodermic needles.

‘We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self-administering it at home,’ said Dr Sean Sullivan, another member of the Georgia team.

‘Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away into the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over.’

Other vaccines could be applied with the same technique, the scientists believe.

The cost of mass-produced patches are estimated to be about the same as conventional jabs. But the reduced need for personnel may bring the overall cost of immunization programmes down.

The patch will still have to undergo patient trials to assure its safety and effectiveness before being made generally available.
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• Source(s): Georgia Institute of Technology
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20
Jul
10

Goldman Sachs’s Fabrice Tourre Disputes SEC’s Fraud Allegations in Filing

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Goldman Sachs’s Fabrice Tourre Disputes SEC’s Fraud Allegations in Filing

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive and co-defendant in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s charges that the bank defrauded investors, on Monday asked the court to dismiss the case filed against him by the U.S. Regulators.

Tourre, whose emails about a collateralized debt obligation were at the heart of the Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC’s complaint, denied that he made any materially misleading statements or omissions, or behaved wrongly in connection to complex mortgage-linked securities called collateralized debt obligations or CDO.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York Tourre “specifically denies he made any materially misleading statements or omissions or otherwise engaged in any actionable or wrongful conduct” stemming from the CDO known as Abacus.
Tourre also argued that neither he nor his employer had a “duty to disclose any allegedly omitted information” in the marketing and sale of the CDO.

In April, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the investment bank that it did not reveal that one of its clients, Paulson & Co, played a significant role in the selection of securities contained in the Abacus mortgage portfolio and which was later sold to investors.

Following the collapse of the housing market, the securities in that mortgage portfolio – Abacus – lost more than $1 billion.
Goldman said it was a “mistake” to state that the loans contained in the CDO had been selected by a third party without mentioning the role of Paulson & Co, a hedge fund that bet against the security.

Last week, in a settlement, Goldman agreed to pay $550 million to settle civil fraud charges brought in by the SEC. This is reportedly the largest ever for a financial institution and is less than the $1 billion fraud that the Commission alleged.

Tourre, who is the only Goldman Sachs executive named as a defendant in the SEC’s fraud lawsuit, has yet to settle with the regulator. Goldman also agreed to co-operate with the SEC in its case against Tourre.

Goldman Sachs declined $0.49 or 0.34 percent and closed Monday’s regular trading at $145.68. After hours, Goldman Sachs declined further $1.68 or 1.15 percent and traded at $144.00
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19
Jul
10

Obama to GOP: Restore unemployment benefits now

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Obama to GOP: Restore unemployment benefits now
President Obama Pushes for Up-or-Down Vote on Help for Our Laid Off Friends & Neighbors

Monday, July 19, 2010

President Barack Obama tore into congressional Republicans on Monday for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits, arguing that a “partisan minority” had allowed short-term political calculations to trump genuine economic need.

The Senate is set to consider a bill Tuesday that would extend the deadline to file for unemployment benefits through the end of November. The bill would cost $33 billion in additional deficit spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“It’s time to stop blocking emergency relief for Americans who are out of work and extend unemployment insurance,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

He accused Senate Republicans for “holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics.”

The bill, formally known as Emergency Unemployment Compensation, is a U.S. federal government program which assists states in providing additional weeks of unemployment benefits to workers who have been laid off due to no fault of their own.

The legislation, which has already cleared the House of Representatives on July 1, would retroactively restore benefits to recipients who as early as the end of May may have started losing their benefits. The Senate is scheduled to take up the measure on Tuesday.

Republicans have successfully blocked the bill from clearing the Senate for three times, quoting the additional budgetary burden as their main concern.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stressed Sunday that Republicans are “all for extending unemployment insurance” but not in favor of deficit spending.

“They’ve taken the deficit as a percentage of GDP from 3.2 percent to almost 10 percent in a year and a half,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Somewhere in the course of spending a trillion dollars, we ought to be able to find enough to pay for a program for the unemployed.”

Obama also urged the Senate to act this week on a package of tax cuts and expanded lending for small businesses, the two other legislative priorities Obama and Democrats agreed to last week following the passage of the financial regulation bill.

Good morning, everybody. Right now, across this country, many Americans are sitting at the kitchen table, they’re scanning the classifieds, they’re updating their resumes or sending out another job application, hoping that this time they’ll hear back from a potential employer. And they’re filled with a sense of uncertainty about where their next paycheck will come from. And I know the only thing that will entirely free them of those worries – the only thing that will fully lift that sense of uncertainty – is the security of a new job.

To that end, we all have to continue our efforts to do everything in our power to spur growth and hiring. And I hope the Senate acts this week on a package of tax cuts and expanded lending for small businesses, where most of America’s jobs are created.

So we’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure that we are digging ourselves out of this tough economic hole that we’ve been in. But even as we work to jumpstart job growth in the private sector, even as we work to get businesses hiring again, we also have another responsibility: to offer emergency assistance to people who desperately need it – to Americans who’ve been laid off in this recession. We’ve got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they’re looking for another job.

That’s why it’s so essential to pass the unemployment insurance extension that comes up for a vote tomorrow. We need to pass it for men like Jim Chukalas, who’s with me here today. Jim worked as a parts manager at a Honda dealership until about two years ago. He’s posted resumes everywhere. He’s gone door-to-door looking for jobs. But he hasn’t gotten a single interview. He’s trying to be strong for his two young kids, but now that he’s exhausted his unemployment benefits, that’s getting harder to do.

We need to pass it for women like Leslie Macko, who lost her job at a fitness center last year and has been looking for work ever since. Because she’s eligible for only a few more weeks of unemployment, she’s doing what she never thought she’d have to do – not at this point, anyway. She’s turning to her father for financial support.

And we need to pass it for Americans like Denise Gibson, who was laid off from a real estate agency earlier this year. Denise has been interviewing for jobs – but so far nothing has turned up. Meanwhile, she’s fallen further and further behind on her rent. And with her unemployment benefits set to expire, she’s worried about what the future holds.

We need to pass it for all the Americans who haven’t been able to find work in an economy where there are five applicants for every opening; who need emergency relief to help them pay the rent and cover their utilities and put food on the table while they’re looking for another job.

And for a long time, there’s been a tradition – under both Democratic and Republican Presidents – to offer relief to the unemployed. That was certainly the case under my predecessor, when Republican senators voted several times to extend emergency unemployment benefits. But right now, these benefits – benefits that are often the person’s sole source of income while they’re looking for work – are in jeopardy.

And I have to say, after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, the same people who didn’t have any problem spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are now saying we shouldn’t offer relief to middle-class Americans like Jim or Leslie or Denise, who really need help.

Over the past few weeks, a majority of senators have tried – not once, not twice, but three times – to extend emergency relief on a temporary basis. Each time, a partisan minority in the Senate has used parliamentary maneuvers to block a vote, denying millions of people who are out of work much-needed relief. These leaders in the Senate who are advancing a misguided notion that emergency relief somehow discourages people from looking for a job should talk to these folks.

That attitude I think reflects a lack of faith in the American people, because the Americans I hear from in letters and meet in town hall meetings – Americans like Leslie and Jim and Denise – they’re not looking for a handout. They desperately want to work. Just right now they can’t find a job. These are honest, decent, hardworking folks who’ve fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, and who have nowhere else to turn except unemployment benefits and who need emergency relief to help them weather this economic storm.

Now, tomorrow we will have another chance to offer them that relief, to do right by not just Jim and Leslie and Denise, but all the Americans who need a helping hand right now – and I hope we seize it. It’s time to stop holding workers laid off in this recession hostage to Washington politics. It’s time to do what’s right – not for the next election but for the middle class. We’ve got to stop blocking emergency relief for Americans who are out of work. We’ve got to extend unemployment insurance. We need to pass those tax cuts for small businesses and the lending for small businesses.

Times are hard right now. We are moving in the right direction. I know it’s getting close to an election, but there are times where you put elections aside. This is one of those times. And that’s what I hope members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will do tomorrow.

Thanks very much.

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• Source(s): The White House
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17
Jul
10

Weekly Address: Filibustering Recovery & Obstructing Progress

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Weekly Address: Filibustering Recovery & Obstructing Progress
President Obama Says GOP Senate Leadership Choosing to “Filibuster Our Recovery and Obstruct Our Progress”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In this week’s address, the President criticized the Republican leadership in the Senate for opposing initiatives which that would create jobs and strengthen the economy like cutting taxes for small businesses and extending unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost their jobs during the recession. Aiding small businesses and renewing unemployment insurance are not just the right things to do for those hit hardest by the recession, they are steps that will help strengthen the recovery. When crises strike Main Street, the President believes it’s important to put aside politics and act in the best interests of American families and small businesses.

This week, many of our largest corporations reported robust earnings – a positive sign of growth.

But too many of our small business owners and those who aspire to start their own small businesses continue to struggle, in part because they can’t get the credit they need to start up, grow, and hire. And too many Americans whose livelihoods have fallen prey to the worst recession in our lifetimes – a recession that cost our economy eight million jobs – still wonder how they’ll make ends meet.

That’s why we need to take new, commonsense steps to help small businesses, grow our economy, and create jobs – and we need to take them now.

For months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. But too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences.

Consider what that obstruction means for our small businesses – the growth engines that create two of every three new jobs in this country. A lot of small businesses still have trouble getting the loans and capital they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. So we proposed steps to get them that help: Eliminating capital gains taxes on investments. Establishing a fund for small lenders to help small businesses. Enhancing successful SBA programs that help them access the capital they need.

But again and again, a partisan minority in the Senate said “no,” and used procedural tactics to block a simple, up-or-down vote.

Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire. For many, it was the only way to make ends meet while searching for work – the only way to cover rent, utilities, even food.

Three times, the Senate has tried to temporarily extend that emergency assistance. And three times, a minority of Senators – basically the same crowd who said “no” to small businesses – said “no” to folks looking for work, and blocked a straight up-or-down vote.

Some Republican leaders actually treat this unemployment insurance as if it’s a form of welfare. They say it discourages folks from looking for work. Well, I’ve met a lot of folks looking for work these past few years, and I can tell you, I haven’t met any Americans who would rather have an unemployment check than a meaningful job that lets you provide for your family. And we all have friends, neighbors, or family members who already knows how hard it is to land a job when five workers are competing for every opening.

Now in the past, Presidents and Congresses of both parties have treated unemployment insurance for what it is – an emergency expenditure. That’s because an economic disaster can devastate families and communities just as surely as a flood or tornado.

Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed. They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline.

Well, I think these Senators are wrong. We can’t afford to go back to the same misguided policies that led us into this mess. We need to move forward with the policies that are leading us out of this mess.

The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.

Increasing loans to small business. Renewing unemployment insurance. These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession – they’re the right thing to do for all of us. And I’m calling on Congress once more to take these steps on behalf of America’s workers, and families, and small business owners – the people we were sent here to serve.

Because when storms strike Main Street, we don’t play politics with emergency aid. We don’t desert our fellow Americans when they fall on hard times. We come together. We do what we can to help. We rebuild stronger, and we move forward. That’s what we’re doing today. And I’m absolutely convinced that’s how we’re going to come through this storm to better days ahead.

Thanks.

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• Source(s): The White House
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17
Jul
10

Apple in panic at iPhone 4 ‘antenna-gate’?

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Apple in panic at iPhone 4 ‘antenna-gate’?
Apple offers free iPhone 4 cases to appease users

Saturday, July 17, 2010

••• Apple Inc will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone to alleviate the so-called death grip problem.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs announced the giveaway on Friday during a news conference at its headquarters, even as the company denied the iPhone 4 has an antenna problem that needs fixing. The more than 3 million people who have bought the iPhone 4 and new buyers through September 30 will all be eligible.

People who purchased the $29 ‘Bumper’ cases will be refunded.

Jobs began the event by saying, ‘We’re not perfect,’ but was quick to point out no mobile phone is perfect. He played a video showing competing smartphones, including a BlackBerry from Research in Motion, losing signal strength when held in certain ways.

Phones usually have an antenna inside the body. In designing the iPhone 4, Apple took a gamble on a new design, using parts of the phone’s outer casing as the antenna. That saved space inside the tightly packed body, but means covering a spot on the lower left edge of the case blocks wireless signal.
Consumer Reports magazine said covering the spot with a case or even a piece of duct tape alleviates the problem. It refused to give the iPhone 4 its ‘recommended’ stamp of approval for this reason, and it had called on Apple on Monday to compensate buyers.

On Friday, in the company’s first remarks following the magazine’s report, Jobs said Apple was ‘stunned and upset and embarrassed’.

Jobs said the iPhone 4’s antenna issue isn’t widespread. He said just over five out of every thousand users have complained to Apple’s warranty service, and less than 2 percent have returned the device.

‘We’re not feeling right now that we have a giant problem we need to fix,’ Jobs said. ‘This has been blown so out of proportion that it’s incredible. I know it’s fun to have a story, but it’s less fun when you’re on the other end of it.’

Analysts have criticised Apple’s first responses to reports of reception problems as dismissive.

Jobs apologised to buyers who had less than perfect experiences. ‘We’re going to do whatever it takes to make them happy and if we can’t make them happy we’re going to give them a full refund and say we’re really sorry we inconvenienced you, and we’re going to do better next time.’

The refund applies even for those who have long-term contracts with AT&T Inc., the iPhone’s exclusive US wireless carrier.

Jobs, a cancer survivor, also addressed a question about his health on Friday.

‘I’m doing fine. I was even better earlier in the week (when) I was having a vacation in Hawaii, but I decided this was important enough to come back for,’ he said. ‘I’m doing great.’
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• Source(s): Apple Inc.
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12
Jul
10

Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

NEWS
Facebook Installs Panic Button For Children

Monday, July 12, 2010

••• Young Facebook users will be able to report suspicious online behavior with the launch of a new ‘panic button’ targeting sex offenders.

Children can use the button to report abuse to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook.

The application will automatically appear on the homepage of every user aged between 13 and 18.

The launch follows months of negotiation between Facebook and CEOP, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders.

CEOP called for the panic button to be installed in November but Facebook has resisted the idea.

Bebo became the first network to add the button, followed by MySpace while Facebook maintained that its own reporting systems were adequate.

However pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of Ashleigh Hall, 17.

Ashleigh was killed by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, whom she met on Facebook.

Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing CEOP’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.

Users will be able to bookmark the Click CEOP service or add it as an application to find information about online safety.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre said: ‘Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the Click CEOP button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

‘We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online.’

Facebook’s Joanna Shields added: ‘There is no single silver bullet to making the internet safer but by joining forces with CEOP we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP’s expertise in online safety.’

James Brokenshire, U.K. Minister for Crime Prevention said: ‘It’s a sad fact that we are now seeing more cases where sex offenders are using social networking sites to conceal their identities in order to contact children.’
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10
Jul
10

Weekly Address: Help for Vets with PTSD

NEWS
Weekly Address: Help for Vets with PTSD
President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In this week’s address, President Barack Obama announced that on Monday the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Shinseki, will begin to make it easier for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to receive the benefits they need. For many years, veterans with PTSD have been stymied in receiving benefits by requirements they produce evidence proving a specific event caused the PTSD. Streamlining this process will help not just the veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of veterans who have served and sacrificed for the country.

Last weekend, on the Fourth of July, Michelle and I welcomed some of our extraordinary military men and women and their families to the White House.

They were just like the thousands of active duty personnel and veterans I’ve met across this country and around the globe. Proud. Strong. Determined. Men and women with the courage to answer their country’s call, and the character to serve the United States of America.

Because of that service; because of the honor and heroism of our troops around the world; our people are safer, our nation is more secure, and we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq by the end of August, completing a drawdown of more than 90,000 troops since last January.

Still, we are a nation at war. For the better part of a decade, our men and women in uniform have endured tour after tour in distant and dangerous places. Many have risked their lives. Many have given their lives. And as a grateful nation, humbled by their service, we can never honor these American heroes or their families enough.

Just as we have a solemn responsibility to train and equip our troops before we send them into harm’s way, we have a solemn responsibility to provide our veterans and wounded warriors with the care and benefits they’ve earned when they come home.

That is our sacred trust with all who serve – and it doesn’t end when their tour of duty does.

To keep that trust, we’re building a 21st century VA, increasing its budget, and ensuring the steady stream of funding it needs to support medical care for our veterans.

To help our veterans and their families pursue a college education, we’re funding and implementing the post-9/11 GI Bill.

To deliver better care in more places, we’re expanding and increasing VA health care, building new wounded warrior facilities, and adapting care to better meet the needs of female veterans.

To stand with those who sacrifice, we’ve dedicated new support for wounded warriors and the caregivers who put their lives on hold for a loved one’s long recovery.

And to do right by our vets, we’re working to prevent and end veteran homelessness – because in the United States of America, no one who served in our uniform should sleep on our streets.

We also know that for many of today’s troops and their families, the war doesn’t end when they come home.

Too many suffer from the signature injuries of today’s wars: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. And too few receive the screening and treatment they need.

Now, in past wars, this wasn’t something America always talked about. And as a result, our troops and their families often felt stigmatized or embarrassed when it came to seeking help.

Today, we’ve made it clear up and down the chain of command that folks should seek help if they need it. In fact, we’ve expanded mental health counseling and services for our vets.

But for years, many veterans with PTSD who have tried to seek benefits – veterans of today’s wars and earlier wars – have often found themselves stymied. They’ve been required to produce evidence proving that a specific event caused their PTSD. And that practice has kept the vast majority of those with PTSD who served in non-combat roles, but who still waged war, from getting the care they need.

Well, I don’t think our troops on the battlefield should have to take notes to keep for a claims application. And I’ve met enough veterans to know that you don’t have to engage in a firefight to endure the trauma of war.

So we’re changing the way things are done.

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Ric Shinseki, will begin making it easier for a veteran with PTSD to get the benefits he or she needs.

This is a long-overdue step that will help veterans not just of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, but generations of their brave predecessors who proudly served and sacrificed in all our wars.

It’s a step that proves America will always be here for our veterans, just as they’ve been there for us. We won’t let them down. We take care of our own. And as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, that’s what we’re going to keep doing. Thank you.

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• Source(s): The White House
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08
Jul
10

Toyota Recalling 138,874 Lexus Vehicles

NEWS
Toyota Recalling 138,874 Lexus Vehicles

Thursday, July 8, 2010

••• Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday filed a recall of 138,874 luxury Lexus vehicles sold in the United States to fix faulty engines in the latest quality problem to afflict the world’s No. 1 automaker. The move follows a recall of over 90,000 Lexus and other vehicles in Japan over the same problem, which was filed with the Japanese transport ministry on Monday.

The Japanese automaker said flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while in motion. Toyota confirmed in a statement it plans to file paperwork with the government on the recall next week.

The recall affects certain GS, IS and LS vehicles from the 2006-2008 model years powered by 4.6 and 5.0 liter V8 engines and 3.5 liter V6 engines. No accidents or injuries have been reported. Vehicles from the 2009 and 2010 model years are not affected.

Toyota had announced in Japan that it would recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles around the world to address the engine stalling problems. The global recall affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown sedan, sold primarily in Japan. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the United States, and 90,000 in Japan.

The company has received about 200 complaints in Japan but no accidents were reported there or abroad, said Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma. Some drivers told Toyota that engines made a strange noise.

The automaker was already scrambling to repair its reputation after 8.5 million vehicles were recalled beginning in October because of problems with sticking accelerator pedals and other issues. Toyota was slapped with a record $16.4 million fine in the United States for acting too slowly to recall vehicles with defects.

Japan’s major daily Asahi said Friday the latest recall of 270,000 vehicles could cost Toyota around $227 million. Toyota could not confirm the report, which gave no sources.

Subject to the recall in the United States, filed with the Department of Transportation, are 2006-2008 Lexus models, including the top-of-the-line LS460 sedan, IS350, GS460, GS450h and the LS600hL models. Toyota plans to recall 270,000 vehicles worldwide due to the defective engine valve springs.

Toyota said owners will be notified of the recall by mail and dealers will repair the engine’s valve springs at no charge. The company said owners can continue to drive their vehicles. If they notice vibration, unusual engine sounds or rough idling, they should bring the car to a dealer for service.

Lexus general manager Mark Templin told dealers in an e-mail that “we understand the frustration and embarrassment these recalls cause and appreciate your reassuring Lexus owners that there is nothing more important to us than their safety, satisfaction with our products and confidence in you and the brand.”

Toyota dealers have repaired millions of vehicles following the massive global recalls, but the automaker still faces more than 200 lawsuits tied to accidents, the lower resale value of Toyota vehicles, and the drop in the company’s stock.

Toyota said last week it will recall 17,000 Lexus luxury hybrids after testing showed that fuel can spill during a rear-end crash.

U.S. regulators were working with scientists from NASA to investigate what caused some of Toyota’s vehicles to suddenly accelerate. That review is expected to be completed by late August.

Officials were also investigating whether Toyota waited nearly a year in 2005 to recall trucks and SUVs in the U.S. with defective steering rods, a case that could lead to additional fines.

Customers who have any questions or concerns should contact their local Lexus dealer or Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-25LEXUS or 1-800-255-3987 or at www.lexus.com/recall.
• Customers who have any further questions are asked to visit www.lexus.ca or contact Lexus Canada at 1-800-265-3987.
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• Source(s): Toyota Motor Corporation
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08
Jul
10

Introducing the New YouTube Mobile Website

NEWS
Introducing the New YouTube Mobile Website

Thursday, July 8, 2010

••• YouTube has upgraded its mobile website to make it more convenient and appealing to watch videos on touch-screen devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Motorola Inc.’s Droid X.

The improvements unveiled Wednesday are designed to make it easier for smart phone users to navigate YouTube’s vast video library. The fine-tuning also enables YouTube’s mobile website to stream videos in higher resolution than clips served up through YouTube applications installed on smart phones.

There is still at least one significant problem to be worked out: YouTube says the mobile website encounters some bugs on the hot-selling iPhone 4 phone. Those issues are expected to be resolved within the next few weeks. Apple sells the iPhone 4 with a YouTube application already installed on it.
The new YouTube for mobile provides an updated navigation and UI for easier browsing. The home screen is similar to what you find in the Facebook iPhone app – there are rows of icons for different options such as Browse, Favorites, Playlists, Settings and Home. YouTube Mobile Product Manager Andrey Doronichev told us that the product is designed for touchscreen devices especially, which make up the vast majority of YouTube mobile video views.

The biggest and most important change comes in the form of HQ streams. If you’ve ever watched YouTube videos on the iPhone app, you know that the quality isn’t that great. That’s because it utilizes an old stream format for second generation networks. The new YouTube mobile site is designed for today’s networks though, including the HQ streaming option that’s currently available in the Android version of the YouTube app. There’s a huge quality difference when you watch videos in both formats.

YouTube, owned by Google Inc., is sprucing up its mobile website as part of its effort to create a “video operating system” that works on any gadget with a screen. Mobile phones are a particularly important target for YouTube. In five years, the site expects more people to be surfing the Web on mobile phones than on desktop computers.

As it stands now, YouTube says it’s showing more than 100 million videos per day on mobile devices. That’s roughly the same number of YouTube clips that were being watched on office and home computers when Google bought the site for $1.76 billion in late 2006. YouTube says people now watch more than 2 billion daily videos through all its distribution channels.
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• Source(s): YouTube, LLC
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07
Jul
10

Mozilla stokes Firefox 4 with first beta build

NEWS
Mozilla stokes Firefox 4 with first beta build

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

••• Mozilla released its web explorer Firefox 4‘s beta version Wednesday, PC World reported.

Firefox explorer, considered to be the largest rival of Microsoft Windows’ Internet Explorer, has upgraded to its newest version with multiple technologies in line with future Internet developing trend.

The beta version imitated Google chrome and a few other browsers by putting the tabs on top and providing webpage crash protection features.

Mozilla provides its Firefox users with versions used in operation system including Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac and the Linux OS.

The newly released beta version of Firefox is expected to widely compete with IE as the most popular Internet browser in the scientific arena.
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• Source(s): Mozilla Corporation
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07
Jul
10

Google’s China webpage licence under review

NEWS
Google’s China webpage licence under review

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

••• Google Inc’s application to renew its Chinese Website license (Internet Content Provider license) is currently under review, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday.

But the ministry didn’t give a deadline for the license review.

It was the Chinese regulator’s latest response regarding the fate of Google China, which recently stopped redirecting automatically web searchers on China’s mainland to its Hong Kong site and applied to renew its license in the world’s largest Internet market last month.

“Google’s annual check-in is under way but there’s no detailed deadline for the result because its submission is relatively late,” said ministry spokesperson Wang Lijian.

The ministry is the body responsible for renewing and reviewing Internet content provider licenses.

Google shut down its mainland-based search engine on March 22 and rerouted users to its Hong Kong site.

It stopped the automatic redirect because regulators told the company its Internet license would not be renewed if it kept it going.

“We re-applied for the license at the end of last month and we are waiting for the results now,” said Marsha Wang, Google China’s spokesperson.

At present, only “music,” “translate” and “shopping” links, in Chinese, appear on the Google China webpage.

Visitors to google.cn will also see a tab that says, in English, “We have moved to google.com.hk.”

Clicking on that takes users to the Chinese-language site in Hong Kong.

Google clearly doesn’t want to give up the Chinese market, with more than 300 million netizens on the mainland. On the other hand, it has said it does not want to subject its Web searches to what it considers censorship under Chinese law.
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06
Jul
10

Europe’s ‘Big Bang’ probe sends back first image of cosmos

NEWS
Europe’s ‘Big Bang’ probe sends back first image of cosmos

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Science

••• A space telescope designed to peer into the enigma of the ‘Big Bang’ has served up its first overall image of the cosmos, the European Space Agency says.

The picture ‘is an extraordinary treasure chest of new data for astronomers,’ ESA declared on Monday.

The image was painstakingly built up, slice by slice, by a $875 million (700 million euros) telescope, Planck, which ESA put in orbit in May last year.

Planck is designed to look at radiation in the microwave part of the energy spectrum.

Microwave signatures point to the birth and death of stars and galaxies, as well as the embers of the ‘Big Bang’ which, according to theory, brought the Universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago.

This primeval energy, known as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR), washes across the sky.

But in order to spot it in Planck’s first ‘all-sky’ image, scientists will have to filter out background noise from our own galaxy, the Milky Way, ESA said.
‘We are opening the door to an Eldorado where scientists can seek the nuggets that will lead to deeper understanding of how our Universe came to be and how it works now,’ said David Southwood, ESA’s director of science and robotic exploration.

‘The image itself and its remarkable quality is a tribute to the engineers who built and have operated Planck. Now the scientific harvest must begin.’

Named after the 20th century German physicist Max Planck who founded quantum theory, the mission is equipped with a 4.8 feet telescope that focuses radiation onto two arrays of microwave detectors, each cooled to almost absolute zero.

By the end of its mission in 2012, Planck should have completed four all-sky scans, ESA said. The data release of the CMBR – in essence a map of the Big Bang – is also scheduled for 2012.
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• Source(s): European Space Agency (ESA)
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05
Jul
10

2010 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

NEWS
2010 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks in New York City

Monday, July 5, 2010

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks 2010 turned out to be a spectacular and star studded event. On Sunday night as the whole of the United States joined hands to celebrate the Independence Day,Macy’s Fireworks only made the occasion all the more special. The community took care to bring some of the most well known singers on board as the fireworks lit up the sky above the Hudson River. Live on the deck of the Norwegian Epic cruise liner were teen singing sensation Justin Bieber who headlined this year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks spectacle. Along with him were other singing sensations like Enrique Iglesias and LeAnn Rimes. Some of the star-casts of the “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” also made it to the deck.
If people jived to the singing of Justin Bieber and Enrique Iglesias along the Manhattan West Side then, there were millions more who enjoyed the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 2010 on television as it was aired live by the NBC Networks on Sunday night. Although there were many who celebrated the occasion at home with family members and friends many came out witness the spectacle with their own eyes with hope that it would be “even better” to see it live.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 2010 lived up to the expectation of the thousands who came up all the way to the bank of the Hudson river to mark the occasion. The red, blue yellow and white fireworks with each different from the other and gigantic in size made it a thing of beauty.
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04
Jul
10

July 4, Independence Day

NEWS
July 4, Independence Day

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Americans across the United States are attending barbecues, parades, fireworks displays and other events as the nation marks its birth 234 years ago.

The July 4 Independence Day holiday marks the occasion in 1776 when the 13 original U.S. colonies declared independence from Britain during a revolutionary war.

In Washington, DC, thousands of people are expected to converge on the National Mall for an annual festival featuring displays and events celebrating American heritage, and an Independence Day parade. Other activities in the nation’s capital include re-enactments of the signing of the Declaration of Independence by actors portraying the nation’s founders.
A few miles away at Mount Vernon, the home of the nation’s first president, George Washington, organizers are hosting a wreath-laying at Washington’s tomb and a naturalization ceremony for about 100 new U.S. citizens.

Later Sunday, there will be a televised concert and fireworks display over the National Mall. Similar events are planned in cities across the country.
President Barack Obama issued an Independence Day statement saying the tenacity, resolve and courage of the nation’s founders, in the face of seemingly impossible odds, became the bedrock of the country.

The president also paid tribute to the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are serving around the world or have given their lives in the line of duty.
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• Source(s): The White House
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03
Jul
10

Schwarzenegger’s minimum wage plan foiled by old technology

NEWS
Schwarzenegger’s minimum wage plan foiled by old technology

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempt to impose the federal minimum wage on state workers is being foiled by California’s out-of-date technology.

This week, a state appellate court sided with the Republican governor in his attempt to force 200,000 state workers to be paid $7.25 an hour while California’s budget impasse drags on.

But state Controller John Chiang says he can’t comply because the changeover is too complex for the state’s computerised payroll system. The system was designed more than 60 years ago and was last revamped in 1970.

Technology experts say the system could be updated to accommodate Schwarzenegger’s order, but it would take months to do so.

The controller’s office says it would take another six months to reprogram the system again once a state budget is eventually signed.
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