Archives for News

Budget cuts: Will anyone really notice?

It’s touted as the biggest one-time rollback of domestic spending ever, but most folks will be hard-pressed to notice. After all, it’s just 1 percent of what the government will lay out this year. The number of security officers at airports won’t be reduced. National park campgrounds won’t close. There will still be enough meat inspectors to prevent temporary plant closures. Disadvantaged schools won’t see cuts in federal aid. And stiff cuts to grants for community action agencies serving the poor were averted. Basically, the things most people expect from the government won’t change very much if Congress approves the
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A year later, BP spill damage lingers

The worst maritime oil spill in history began nearly a year ago with a drop in pressure in a poorly drilled well deep in the Gulf of Mexico. It hasn’t really ended even though BP’s runaway well was eventually capped 87 days later. As crews in Japan struggle to contain a nuclear meltdown at a poorly maintained plant in Fukushima, the April 20 anniversary of the BP spill is a stark reminder of the high costs of our energy needs and the far-reaching consequences of cutting corners on safety. The massive explosion killed 11 workers and sank the Deepwater Horizon
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Drop in defaults helps JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase & Co is expected to post an increase in first-quarter profit of more than 50 percent on Wednesday, as the bank weathers a slowdown in trading and fewer borrowers default on credit card loans. Analysts on average expect the second-largest U.S. bank earned $1.16 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. That compares with a year-earlier profit of 74 cents a share. JPMorgan is the first of the major U.S. banks to report earnings and is expected to set an upbeat tone for the sector, showing an improvement in credit quality and only moderate trading losses. The bank
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Wal-Mart cuts back on space for electronics

Wal-Mart Stores is cutting the size of its electronics department as popular gadgets shrink and making room to add back dropped items like fishing poles, fabric and full-figure fashions. “It’s still a vibrant category but much smaller items are being sold,” Rosalind Brewer, president of Walmart East, said while speaking at the ISI Retail Summit on Tuesday. Company officials said Wal-Mart will be selling the same number of products despite the reduction in the physical size of its electronics departments. They added that the size of the electronics departments will vary store by store. Over the last couple of years,
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Who fired first shots of the Civil War?

A raid 150 years ago by Confederate sympathizers on a Union fort at what is now Pensacola Naval Air Station was likely little more than an ill-planned and drunken misadventure, perhaps ended by one soldier’s warning shot — and a blank one, at that. But don’t tell Pensacola residents that the Jan. 8, 1861, skirmish meant nothing — the event is the stuff of legend in this military town. Some even claim the clash was the Civil War’s first, three months before the battle on April 12, 1861, at South Carolina‘s Fort Sumter, which is widely recognized as the start
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Microsoft targets business market

Microsoft Corp is making its strongest push yet into the steadily growing business software market in the hope that it can create another multibillion-dollar business. The world’s biggest software company, which still gets the majority of its sales from its Windows and Office franchises, is hoping it can wrestle market share from heavyweights SAP AG and Oracle Corp, and upstart online vendor Salesforce.com Inc. “The opportunities to make a good business economically are wonderful,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer in a telephone interview on Monday. “We’re pretty pumped up.” Research firm IDC predicts that companies will spend $118 billion
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Docs don’t always follow their own advice

When doctors step into their patients’ shoes, their treatment decisions don’t always line up with the advice they give in their clinics, a U.S. survey says. Faced with hypothetical treatment scenarios, when they imagined themselves as the sick person, doctors more often chose therapies that carried a higher risk of death but fewer severe side effects, said the survey, in the Archives of Internal Medicine. “I don’t think any patient would expect that. If they found out, they would raise a lot of questions,” said Peter Ubel, at Duke University, who led the research. “It has nothing to do with
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At 63, James Taylor ‘still hungry’

James Taylor has filled huge arenas, won five Grammys, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and influenced generations of musicians. His 2010 Troubadour Reunion Tour with Carole King was a major commercial success. Yet every single time he gives a concert, he worries people won’t come. “That’s always the question,” says the 63-year-old singer, songwriter and folk rock icon. “Are people gonna show up? Will they buy tickets?” But there’s a silver lining to the worry: “It’s kept me hungry,” he says. “It’s kept me grateful.” Now in his fifth decade of performing, Taylor, whose appearance
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Obama saved favorite programs from budget cuts

A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway. Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs — Pell grants for poor college students, health research and “Race to the Top” aid for public schools, among others — from Republican knives. And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous
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Obama claims ‘everything’ is on the table for cuts

President Barack Obama, plunging into the rancorous struggle over America’s mountainous debt, will draw sharp differences with Republicans Wednesday over how to conquer trillions of dollars in spending while somehow working out a compromise to raise some taxes and trim a cherished program like Medicare. Obama’s speech will set a new long-term deficit-reduction goal and establish a dramatically different vision from a major Republican proposal that aims to cut more than $5 trillion over the next decade, officials said Monday. Details of Obama’s plan are being closely held so far, but the deficit-cutting target probably will fall between the $1.1
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