Monday, May 31, 2010
At least 22 people were wounded in separate shootings around the city roughly between noon Saturday and noon Sunday, including a man who died this morning after he was shot in the head, Chicago police said.
At a news conference this morning, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said that nearly half of the shootings appear to be gang-related, including the fatal incident. Weis added that at least two of the other victims have refused to cooperate with police, "which makes the job of our detectives ... far more difficult."
One of the shootings was particularly disturbing because one of the female victims was eight months pregnant, the superintendent said. No one in custody for any of the incidents.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
NOGALES, ARIZ. -- Along a rugged stretch of the Mexican border here in southern Arizona, U.S. authorities captured 687 illegal immigrants in a 24-hour period last week, three times the number captured near San Diego. During the past eight months, agents have apprehended 168,000 migrants along this sector of the border.Link
"If the National Guard helps toward a common purpose of having a safer border and if they can do this without detaining Mexican migrants, I think this (planned deployment) could bring about positive results," said Calderon, speaking through an interpreter.
Last month, critics blasted the project as a “boondoggle,” saying the $92 million would have been better spent fixing roads, bridges and dams. Supporters said renovating the site would be an incentive for bringing permanent jobs there.
Officials from the U.S. General Services Administration, the federal agency that channeled stimulus money to the IRS, said in a statement the Andover site was chosen to “put people back to work quickly” and transform “federal buildings into high-performance green buildings.”
The uproar in Flushing Township started after the township board decided days after a failed police millage increase in May 2008 to put it back on the ballot in November. That peeved residents such as Ken Bueche.
“It was like my vote didn’t count,” said Bueche, 63, who supported Tea candidates. “It made me mad and I said it’s time to make a change.”
Subsequently, a majority of the board was ousted in August 2008 giving seats to Gardner, who teamed up with Tea-minded Mark Purkey, Bill Noecker and Don Schwieman.
They gained a fifth with incumbent Democrat Scott Minaudo, joined their voting block after the election.
Schwieman started moving away from the Tea ideals in 2009 and was recalled earlier this year after residents complained about his new policies and a drunk driving arrest.
He was replaced with Peck, a vocal proponent of cutting government spending.
The Flushing Township board has cut vastly, from the township park to the police department.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Link HT: Steve Bartin
That decision led to the founding of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, a 100-band jamboree that has been the top-grossing music festival in North America for eight years running. This year, from June 10-13, 75,000 fans will make the pilgrimage to a 700-acre farm an hour southeast of Nashville for what observers ranging from Rolling Stone to the concert chronicler Pollstar have called the best music festival in the country.
As live concerts have supplanted album sales as the music industry's chief moneymaker, Bonnaroo (which means "good times" in Creole) has flourished. Ticket prices range from $250 for a general-admission pass to $18,500 for a luxury package that includes an air-conditioned bus, on-stage VIP viewing platforms, and a chauffeured golf cart to shuttle between the two. Meanwhile, the promoters have 16 other profit centers on-site, including concessions, merchandise and, yes, paid showers. Last year the festival grossed around $30 million, approximately $18 million of which came from ticket sales. And since, according to Goodstone, Bonnaroo "funds itself on ticket sales," the other $12 million was profit.
Friday, May 28, 2010
The study neatly illuminates the sad positive feedback loop of lotteries. The games naturally appeal to poor people, which causes them to spend disproportionate amounts of their income on lotteries, which helps keep them poor, which keeps them buying tickets.
Part1 and Part2
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The group calls itself the "Committee Against Gallery Furniture."
It sent us a bilingual "Boycott Gallery Furniture" bumper sticker.
The group said the bumper sticker is just the beginning of a pushback against McIngvale and the Tea Party.
"Mattress Mac" said he’s frustrated by the anonymous campaign.
"I think that’s very sad that, you know, speaking out like that, trying to punish me and punish the people that who are speaking their Constitutional rights," McIngvale said. "If somebody wants to say they’re for higher taxation, so be it. You know, I have nothing against them. And I don’t think they should have anything against us who want lower taxes."
No one with the group was willing to reveal their identity or talk publicly.
Investigators from the federal Department of Energy audited about three dozen weatherization projects in the Delaware program and found problems with all of them, said Henry Smith, deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services.
State and federal officials said they are now redesigning administrative controls in the program and re-inspecting about 1,100 homes that got $3 million worth of insulation, doors, windows, caulking and other weatherization measures since April 2009.
No matter: Chavez appears powerless to stop the unraveling of Venezuela’s economy -- and with it, his “revolution.” He will be left with a choice: surrender to his country’s mounting discontent, or rule entirely by force.
Question: How much lower than the current 9.9% would the jobless rate in the U.S. be today without the 99-weeks of unemployment benefits that can be as generous as $31,000 per year in some states? There is at least some evidence of "worker shortages" in Washington and Michigan, despite the "worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
WASHINGTON -- Five years into the recently passed health care reform law Tennessee could have nearly a half million more residents on Medicaid, according to a report released Wednesday.
And the state could be paying an extra $1.5 billion for those services over five years, the Kaiser Family Foundation report estimates.
Both numbers are somewhat higher than an estimate of 200,000 new participants and $1 billion over five years put out by TennCare officials in March.
Americans are frustrated with nearly everyone in Washington - including President Obama, Congress, and the Democratic and Republican parties - and have become increasingly pessimistic about what the future holds, according to a new CBS News poll.
Seven in ten Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in Washington, including 22 percent who say they are "angry" about the situation. Just 15 percent overall approve of the job being done by Congress.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Nancy Kjellberg's allergies were insufferable again, with sharp sinus pain and her nose so stuffed up it was hard to breathe.
She didn't want to go to the doctor. This time, she didn't have to.
Kjellberg, 59, simply charged $25 to her credit card and spent a few minutes answering an online survey at Zipnosis.com. Hours later, she received a diagnosis electronically and picked up antibiotics at her pharmacy, without ever talking to the clinician in person or on the phone.
"I would rather be doing other things than going to the doctor's office," said Kjellberg, a retired production planner who lives in Big Lake, Minn. "If you have ever had any of these things, you pretty much know what's wrong with you."
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.
At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.
Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.
Yet take a close look at the people sitting around the table at the Senate Republican leadership meetings. There are nine senators at that table -- and all but three are members of the powerful and exclusive club that decides how American tax dollars are doled out: the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Outside the halls of Congress, Republican politicians are divided into moderates and conservatives. But in the culture of the Senate, the real distinction is not between left and right but between appropriators and the rest. Appropriators hold the purse strings and dispense government largesse. They cut the backroom deals and decide who does and does not get an earmark. They are courted by lobbyists and feted by industries eager to get a piece of the government pie. They are the ones who gave us the "bridge to nowhere" and other infamous special deals. In other words, they represent everything that the grass-roots movement for fiscal discipline sweeping our country detests.
Chattanooga business owner Brandon Lewis goes global with his fight against the proposed property tax increase. He said, "We're asking for a no cents tax increase because this makes no sense whatsoever."
Lewis launched www.StoptheTaxIncrease.com and it's Facebook counterpart to organize Chattanoogans to get no votes from their city councilmen.
Mayor Ron Littlefield responded Monday. He said, "We'd all love to stop the tax increase if we could provide the additional services, the additional police officers and all that is required by that tax increase."
Littlefield's proposed tax increase would make Chattanooga's mill rate the third highest in the state for comparable cities and counties. That means homeowners in Knoxville would pay less per $1,000 of home value than these homeowners here on Jefferson Street in Chattanooga.
Monday, May 24, 2010
According to the latest IRS figures for 2008, a record 52 million filers—36 percent of the 143 million who filed a tax return—had no tax liability because their credits and deductions reduced their liability to zero. Indeed, tax credits such as the child tax credit and earned income tax credit have become so generous that a family of four earning up to about $52,000 can expect to have their income tax liability erased entirely.
CARACAS – Venezuela’s National Guard seized roughly 120 tons of merchandise Thursday from the country’s largest food company, the guard’s commander said.
The “preventive confiscation” came after authorities say they detected inconsistencies in reports from the Empresas Polar conglomerate about the content of several warehouses in the western city of Barquisimeto, Gen. Luis Bohorquez Soto told state television.
He said the guard seized more than 91 tons of wheat flower, 12 tons of butter, five tons of rice and more than 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) of cooking oil, among other products.
For example, 40% of all U.S. households have one of Kroger’s loyalty cards.
Mining the data for Kroger is dunnhumbyUSA, a downtown Cincinnati firm in which the nation’s largest grocery chain owns a 50 percent stake.
Stuart Aitken, dunnhumbyUSA’s chief operating officer, refers to data mining as consumer insights.
"We’re looking for the motivations and the understanding behind what consumers do and buy," he said. "Essentially what you’re looking to do is reward the behavior you seek."
Over 330 dunnhumby employees crunch numbers on a daily basis trying to identify the people Kroger wants in its stores as much as possible.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
The J. Craig Venter Institute just concluded a press conference where they announced the results of a 15 year project to make what could be called the ultimate medical gadget, a living, replicating cell.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
One typical respondent, President Barack Obama, said he found it hard to trust the judgment of U.S. citizens after recent events, including their decision to elect a president who promised health care reform and then come out against health care reform.
"How can I have hope for a nation that regularly protests tax cuts that directly benefit them?" Obama said. "Look, I'm not always perfect at my job, either, but I think I could make a halfway coherent comment on a YouTube video if I had to. Isn't that basically all they do?
Added Obama, "At this point, the only positive thing I can say about the American people is that I'm pretty sure they've never rigged an election in their favor."
Undercover investigators trying to enroll a handful of fictitious children in federally funded Head Start child care centers found that in about half of the cases, workers fraudulently misrepresented parents' incomes, addresses and other information to allow kids to qualify for a slot.
In one instance, according to the investigators' report, a Head Start worker in New Jersey handed back one of two pay stubs and told an investigator posing as a parent, "Now you see it, now you don't."
Prompted by anonymous tips to a fraud hotline, investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at centers in six states — California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin — and the District of Columbia. In 13 of 15 cases, they tried to enroll children whose family incomes made them ineligible. In two more, families qualified, but the GAO wanted to find out whether Head Start would count children as enrolled even if they never attended the program. In all, investigators found fraud in eight cases.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Mayor Ron Littlefield’s proposed tax increase would raise property taxes by 64-cents, funding a $198.6 million budget, records show.
The mayor is asking for expanding the Chattanooga Police Department, hiring additional firefighters for the new fire hall at Enterprise South, an expanded contract with Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department to handle recently annexed areas and restoration of hours at recreation center hours, records show.
The last property tax increase was Sept. 11, 2001 when the council approved about a 50-cent tax hike. The average property tax rate for a $131,000 home would go up from $635 a year to $844 a year, if the tax rate is proposed, records show.
The current tax rate is $1.939 per $100 of assessed value and the proposed rate would go to $2.578 per $100 of assessed value, or a 33 percent tax increase, city records show.
Simply click the link below, type in your address and city, then contact your representative and senator to speak out against using your tax dollars on the fish hatchery boondoggle during these tough economic times!
Here's a sample letter you can use:
I am writing to strongly oppose the proposed fish hatchery in Governor Bredesen's 2010-2011 budget. At a time when people are losing their jobs and retirement, it's entirely inappropriate to spend nearly $17 million to hatch fish--something that happens quite well in the natural world without government intervention.
As a shepherd of Tennesseans' hard-earned tax dollars, please take a stand against this wasteful boondoggle. Thank you for your service to the people of Tennessee.
Monday, May 17, 2010
The feds assume a relationship between the economy and tax revenue that is divorced from reality. Six decades of history have established one far-reaching fact that needs to be built into fiscal calculations: Increases in federal tax rates, particularly if targeted at the higher brackets, produce no additional revenue. For politicians this is truly an inconvenient truth.
The nearby chart shows how tax revenue has grown over the past eight decades along with the size of the economy. It illustrates the empirical relationship first introduced on this page 20 years ago by the Hoover Institution's W. Kurt Hauser—a close proportionality between revenue and GDP since World War II, despite big changes in marginal tax rates in both directions. "Hauser's Law," as I call this formula, reveals a kind of capacity ceiling for federal tax receipts at about 19% of GDP.
What's the origin of this limit beyond which it is impossible to extract any more revenue from tax payers? The tax base is not something that the government can kick around at will. It represents a living economic system that makes its own collective choices. In a tax code of 70,000 pages there are innumerable ways for high-income earners to seek out and use ambiguities and loopholes. The more they are incentivized to make an effort to game the system, the less the federal government will get to collect. That would explain why, as Mr. Hauser has shown, conventional methods of forecasting tax receipts from increases in future tax rates are prone to over-predict revenue.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Venezuela's socialist president said in a televised that his government was going to take over Matesi because "we couldn't reach an amicable and reasonable settlement with the owners."
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
The Lessons of History
One point that stands out is that the years of dramatic reductions in the ratio of debt to GDP were years in which the United States ran primary surpluses. The only other chapter in history where the debt to GDP was reduced was the Inflation Shock. Even then, it was not reduced by much, and this chapter was followed by the Bond Market Vigilantes chapter, in which investors punished the government for its prior inflationary transgressions.
In short, there is no precedent for reducing the ratio of debt to GDP by simply growing our way out of it. Instead, policy choices must be made in order to restore a primary surplus.
In fact, looking at the deficit as a percent of GDP may understate the difficulty of the policy choices. Americans pay more in taxes to state and local authorities than do the residents of many other nations. As a result, the share of GDP available to be taxed by the federal government is not as high as elsewhere.
In any event, in a non-recessionary economy, the federal government's ratio of revenue to GDP is generally around 20 percent. While a $1 trillion primary deficit represents less than 7 percent of GDP, it represents about 30 percent of full-employment revenues. Eliminating a primary deficit of that magnitude will not be easy, particularly when the major expenditure components are entitlements, which are under pressure to expand rather than contract.
I do not think it is overstating things to describe our current budget situation as a crisis.
Venezuela's economy is in trouble despite the country's huge oil reserves. Blackouts plague major cities. Its inflation rate is among the world's highest. Private enterprise has been so hammered, the World Bank says, that Venezuela is forced to import almost everything it needs.
The situation is creating a serious challenge to President Hugo Chavez's efforts to transform his country into a socialist state.
Take, for instance, the Three M metal works, tucked into an industrial zone in San Cristobal, the capital of Tachira state in western Venezuela.
One of those affected was desperate to receive a $900 check in December 2007. The letter just arrived on Thursday.
"I got mail today from 2007. Paychecks, things like that that I needed. Stuff from the Social Security Administration, I.R.S.," resident Kevin Carpenter said.
Carpenter asked the worker he knew as "Dave the mailman" to be on the lookout for the check.
"I asked Dave and Dave said he hadn't seen it, but as soon as he got it, he would call me," Carpenter explained.
Some of mail found in the postal carrier's home dated back to 1997.