Scotties Toy Box

July 25, 2012

Should I say me also…..

Filed under: Cartoons — Scottie @ 17:26

The Born Loser

watching an old video

Filed under: My Life and Rants — Scottie @ 17:09

A prison says ” you wont consider what I did a crime”  to a by stander and the jailer says” but we do and that is enough”    This idea scares me more than I can tell.   Hugs

Struggle over what to wear in Iran – The Washington Post

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 16:45

I am not sure why this story interested me at the time, except it shows the difference in how people are treated ….and that annoys me greatly.  By the way, I wish these women well and the best of successes Hugs

Struggle over what to wear in Iran – The Washington Post.

Struggle over what to wear in Iran

ATTA KENARE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES - An Iranian woman adjusts headscarves on mannequins at the Islamic fashion exhibit in central Tehran on March 1, 2012. The government’s offensive this year has been marked by the stationing of mixed-gender teams of morality police in Tehran’s main squares.

An annual test of wills between Iran’s morality police and women who dress in ways that are deemed unacceptable has begun in cities across the Islamic republic.

But this year, the stakes are unusually high. As Iranian leaders attempt to deflect the public’s attention from economic woes spurred by crushing foreign sanctions, they risk alienating large segments of a society that is already deeply divided.

Mandatory female covering known as hijab has been a defining element of Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Although the laws regarding proper cover haven’t changed, some women have grown bolder in interpreting the limits of what they can wear, creating a conflict that inevitably flares each summer as temperatures climb.

The government’s offensive this year has been marked by the stationing of mixed-gender teams of morality police in Tehran’s main squares.

In recent weeks, 53 coffee shops and 87 restaurants have been closed in Tehran for serving customers with improper hijab or for other gender-related offenses, such as permitting women to smoke hookah pipes. Concerts have been abruptly canceled because of inappropriate dress and too much contact between male and female fans. Approximately 80 stands at an international food fair were closed last month because, officials said, the women working at them were either breaking hijab rules or wearing too much makeup.

Those arrested face up to two months in prison or even lashing, penalties that have been on the books for years but have rarely been imposed.

The aggressive enforcement and stiff penalties have spawned resentment.

“I felt disrespected and insulted,” said 30-year-old Sahar, who was arrested for wearing sleeves that went only to her forearms. “I’m a grown woman. I can decide what I can wear. I can make these decisions myself.”

But authorities have made the case this year that un-Islamic dress is a matter of national security and a symptom of longtime Western meddling in Iranian affairs. Officials routinely cite the improper wearing of hijab as the cause of a variety of social maladies, from women who marry later in life to those who go into prostitution. The root problem is often blamed on “foreign agents.”

Tehran’s police chief, Ahmad-Reza Radan, this month called support for improper hijab “part of the enemy’s soft war against us.”

In Iran and other Islamic countries, hijab, which means “cover” in Arabic, has come to define a type of dress code for women, the main priority of which is to obscure signs of femininity. In Iran, that has always meant covering women’s hair and much of the body. Traditionally, covering of the head, arms and legs has been strictly enforced. A long jacket, called a manteau, accompanied by a scarf, has been the accepted minimum.

Over the years, however, what passes as hijab has changed, and now a wide range of stylescan be seen in any Iranian city — from the black, all-encompassing chador to brightly colored head scarves that barely stay in place.

Manteau and head scarf shops are some of the most successful retailers in Tehran, where women strive to incorporate fashion trends. Skinny jeans with flat shoes are in this year, and on the streets of Tehran, they are hidden in part by the long, loose-fitting manteaus that are all the rage
.

AP News: Global economy in worst shape since 2009

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 16:06

As I mentioned I think the world is connected.  What happens to one of us, happens to all of us.  Hugs

AP News: Global economy in worst shape since 2009.

Global economy in worst shape since 2009

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PAUL WISEMAN
Published: Jul 23, 2012


Protesters shout slogans to demonstrate against the country’s near 25 percent unemployment rate and stinging austerity measures introduced by the government, in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, July 21, 2012. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Mounting fears about Spain’s financial health help illustrate why the global economy is in its worst shape since 2009.

Six of the 17 countries that use the euro currency are in recession. The U.S. economy is struggling again. And the economic superstars of the developing world – China, India and Brazil – are in no position to come to the rescue. They’re slowing, too.

The lengthening shadow over the world’s economy illustrates one of the consequences of globalization: There’s nowhere to hide.

Investors drove up Spain’s borrowing rates Monday over concern that the government’s debts might force it to seek a bailout. The interest rate on Spain’s 10-year bond reached 7.45 percent – the highest since the euro began in 1999. Stocks around the world tumbled in response.

Worries about Spain intensified after its central bank said the economy contracted 0.4 percent in the second quarter. The government predicts the economy will keep contracting next year as tax hikes and spending cuts hurt consumers and businesses.

Economies around the world have never been so tightly linked – which means that as one region weakens, others do, too. That’s why Europe’s slowdown is hurting factories in China. And why those Chinese factories are buying less iron ore from Brazil.

As a result of this global economic slowdown, the International Monetary Fund has reduced its forecast for world growth this year to 3.5 percent, the slowest since a 0.6 percent drop in 2009. Some economists predict the global economy will grow a full percentage point less.

For now, few foresee another global recession. Central banks in China, Britain, Brazil, South Korea and Europe have cut interest rates in the past month to try to jolt growth. European leaders have begun to focus more on promoting growth, not just shrinking debt and cutting budgets.

The Chinese government, in particular, is expected to do what it takes to protect its economy from deteriorating too quickly. And despite their slowdowns, China and India are still growing at rates America and Europe can only imagine.

But many economists say European policymakers aren’t moving fast enough to strengthen European banks and ease borrowing costs for Italy and Spain. They fear the global impact if Europe’s economy deteriorates further.

Stock prices in the United States and elsewhere are fluctuating almost daily depending on the outlook for a resolution of Europe’s debt crisis.

Around the world, sales at companies ranging from automakers to technology companies are falling. Advanced Micro Devices, a California-based maker of computer chips used in everything from slot machines to smart cameras, says revenue likely dropped 11 percent in the second quarter because of weaker-than-expected sales in China and Europe.

At Jagemann Stamping Co. in Manitowoc, Wis., sales to Europe have dropped more than 10 percent from a year ago. The company makes metal parts for auto companies and other customers. It’s still enjoying strong sales in the United States, so it hasn’t had to cut workers because of falling business in Germany and the Czech Republic.

“What it does is slow our new hiring,” says company president Ralph Hardt.

One growing concern about the global economy is there’s little margin for error: Unemployment is already at recession levels in Europe and the United States.

The United States, by far the world’s biggest economy, has long pulled the global economy out of slumps. Now it needs help. Three years after the Great Recession officially ended, the American economy can’t maintain momentum. For the third straight year, growth has stalled at mid-year after getting off to a promising start.

Unemployment stood at 8.2 percent in June – the 41st straight month it’s been above 8 percent.

Americans spent less at retail businesses for a third straight month in June, the longest losing streak since the recession. Economists are downgrading their estimates of economic growth in the April-June quarter. When the government releases its first estimate on Friday, many think it won’t even match the first quarter’s sluggish 1.9 percent annual pace.

The global slowdown is squeezing U.S. exports, which have accounted for an unusually large 43 percent share of U.S. growth since the recession officially ended in June 2009.

Consumer confidence has fallen four straight months in the face of scant hiring and weak economic growth. U.S. companies are nervous about the threat of tax increases and spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in at year’s end unless Congress breaks a deadlock. The IMF has warned of a spillover to the rest of the world if the U.S. economy falls off the so-called fiscal cliff.

Europe’s obstacles are even more severe. It’s faced with crushing government debts, struggling banks and scant economic growth. Unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro is 11 percent, the highest since the euro was adopted in 1999.

Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain are in recessions. Germany and France are faring better, but both are likely to grow more slowly this year than America.

French retail giant Carrefour SA – the Wal-Mart of Europe – says its sales fell in the second quarter amid a slowdown in its core markets in Europe.

Italy’s Fiat lost nearly $260 million in Europe the first three months of the year. French carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen plans to slash 8,000 jobs in France and close a major factory. Europe’s banks are stuck with bad real estate loans and shaky European government bonds.

The European Central Bank has made massive amounts of money available to Europe’s banks at cheap rates to try to revive lending. But borrowing by many businesses and consumers remains weak because they are uncertain about future income.

Many fear that Greece and perhaps other countries will default on their debts and have to abandon the euro currency, which could ignite financial chaos across Europe.

A summit of European leaders last month produced some agreements that helped calm markets for a few days. But optimism faded as investors recognized that governments are still saddled with big debts and banks with bad loans. And that Europe itself still faces the threat that growth will stall and the euro currency alliance will collapse.

The European Commission predicts the 17-country eurozone economy will shrink 0.3 percent this year. Many economists fear it could be worse. Capital Economics says a recent drop in eurozone business confidence is consistent with a 1 percent decline in economic output.

In the latest wallop to the global economy, China said last week that its economic growth fell to a three-year low. The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.6 percent in the April-June quarter compared with the same quarter last year. That was the slowest growth since early 2009.

Countries like China need fast growth to serve growing populations and millions of people leaving farms to seek work in cities.

Chinese growth has decelerated for eight straight quarters. That’s the longest slowdown in records dating to 1992, according to Yu Bin, a government researcher.

The slowdown is partly deliberate. In 2010 and 2011, Chinese officials raised interest rates and took other steps to tame inflation and cool an overheated real estate market.

“Mission accomplished,” says Cameron Peacock, a market analyst at Australia’s IG Markets. “China now has the room to re-stimulate its economy.”

But China is also feeling Europe’s economic squeeze. Chinese exports to Italy dropped 24 percent in June from a year earlier. Exports to France fell 5 percent, those to Germany nearly 4 percent. Europe buys about 17 percent of China’s exports.

The impact of weak European demand for Chinese-made furniture, shoes, toys and other goods has fallen hardest on export-oriented manufacturers along China’s southeastern coast. Some companies have closed. Others are cutting staff.

China is the biggest trading partner of Brazil, which has the world’s eighth-biggest economy. Brazil is likely to grow only 1.8 percent in 2012, according to Sao Paulo Federation of Industries. China’s slowdown has reduced demand for Brazilian soy and iron ore. Brazilian manufacturers, such as aircraft maker Embraer, are hurting as Europe reduces its demand for manufactured goods.

A relatively strong currency isn’t helping. It makes Brazilian products more expensive to foreign buyers.

Brazil also has a U.S.-style problem with consumer debt: Since 2003, about 40 million Brazilians have entered the middle class and brought a strong appetite for consumption. Brazilian leaders credited those consumers with invigorating the economy in recent years and helping protect it from external shocks.

But most of the buying has been on credit. And those bills are adding up. In a report last week, London-based Capital Economics estimated that debt payments now eat up 20 percent of household income in Brazil.

“The current pace of credit growth in Brazil remains unsustainable – and the longer it continues, the bigger the risk of a messy ending further down the line,” Capital Economics warned.

Similarly, the outlook has dimmed for India, the world’s fourth-biggest economy. Its growth slowed to a 5.3 percent annual rate in the first three months of 2012, the slowest rate in nine years.

Over the past two decades, India has emerged as a powerhouse in services – writing software, running call centers, making movies, drafting engineering plans.

In a report last month, Andrew Kenningham, senior global economist at Capital Economics, said India’s troubles are mostly self-inflicted.

“Weak governance, although not new, is the most plausible explanation for the slowdown,” he wrote.

The government has reneged on promises to make it easier for foreigners to invest in India. It has taxed Indian firms that acquire companies overseas. Indian factories have cut production. And the pay of many Indians has been diminished by inflation, which has averaged more than 9 percent a year for the past two years.

The slowdown in the developing world could make it harder for the economies of Europe and the United States to climb out of their ruts. And the weaker the rich countries get, the harder it will be for developing economies to regain their old fast pace.

“In today’s interconnected world, we can no longer afford to look only at what goes on within our national borders,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said earlier this month. “This crisis does not recognize borders. This crisis is knocking at all our doors.”

___

AP News: Lobstermen finding more odd colors in the catch

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 16:04

I am posting this because I simply like the idea of colored lobsters.  I can’t eat lobster or any shell fish.  In fact I have to avoid all fish to be safe.  But I do love the idea of Blue lobsters.   See, even lobsters come in colors, just like us humans.   Hugs

AP News: Lobstermen finding more odd colors in the catch.

Lobstermen finding more odd colors in the catch

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CLARKE CANFIELD
Published: Jul 22, 2012


FILE – This file photo made Tuesday, June 26, 2012, by Rebecca McAleney, shows a bright orange, left, a bright blue, right, and a calico lobster at New Meadows Lobster in Portland, Maine. Scientists are seeing a boom in the number of blue, orange, yellow and calico-colored lobsters in the past two years, leading them to ask why they’re getting more reports of rare-colored lobsters showing up in fishermen’s traps. (AP Photo/Rebecca McAleney, File)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – When a 100-pound shipment of lobsters arrived at Bill Sarro’s seafood shop and restaurant last month, it contained a surprise – six orange crustaceans that have been said to be a 1-in-10-million oddity.

“My butcher was unloading them and said, ‘Oh, my gosh, boss, they sent us cooked dead lobsters,'” said Sarro, owner of Fresh Catch Seafood in Mansfield, Mass. “He then picked one up and it crawled up his arm.”

Reports of odd-colored lobsters used to be rare in the lobster fishing grounds of New England and Atlantic Canada. Normal lobsters are a mottled greenish-brown.

But in recent years, accounts of bright blue, orange, yellow, calico, white and even split lobsters – one color on one side, another on the other – have jumped. It’s now common to hear several stories a month of a lobsterman bringing one of the quirky crustaceans to shore.

It’s anybody’s guess why more oddities are popping up in lobster traps, said Michael Tlusty, research director at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

It could be simply because advances in technology – cellphone cameras and social media – make it easier to spread the word about bizarre lobster sightings.

It’s also likely more weird lobsters are being caught because the overall harvest has soared. In Maine, the catch has grown fourfold in the past 20 years, to nearly 105 million pounds last year. If the yield has quadrupled, it would make sense to have four times as many unconventional lobsters being caught as well.

Although lobster is the No. 1 commercial fishery in the Northeast, there are a lot of unanswered questions about the bottom-dwelling creatures, he said.

“Are we seeing more because the Twitter sphere is active and people get excited about colorful lobsters?” Tlusty said. “Is it because we’re actually seeing an upswing in them? Is it just that we’re catching more lobsters so we have the opportunity to see more?

“Right now you can make a lot of explanations, but the actual data to find them out just isn’t there.”

Lobsters come in a variety of colors because of genetic variations.

It’s been written that the odds of catching a blue lobster are 1-in-2 million, while orange comes in at 1-in-10 million. Yellow and orange-and-black calico lobsters have been pegged at 1-in-30 million, split-colored varieties at 1-in-50 million, and white – the rarest of all – at 1-in-100 million.

But those are merely guesses, and nobody knows for sure.

What is known is that colored lobsters have shown up in greater frequency in certain areas over the years.

The waters off Cutler in eastern Maine were once a hotbed for blue ones, after 1,500 larvae-sized blue lobsters were released in 1990 to use as a tracking tool to determine their survival rates, said Bob Bayer, executive director of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute.

The waters off Montauk, N.Y., once had a lot of blue lobsters as well, he said, after researchers released large numbers of blue lobsters there. The bright-orange lobsters that were in Sarro’s shipment are believed to have come from the same waters in Canada.

Aside from their color, the lobsters are apparently normal in all other ways, Bayer said. They all turn red when they’re cooked, except for the white ones since they don’t have any pigment, and diners wouldn’t notice a difference.

“There’s no difference in taste,” he said.

Scientists say it’s possible the lobster population as a whole has a greater percentage of misfits than it did in years past.

The off-colored lobsters are more susceptible to predators because they stick out more on the ocean bottom, rather than blending in like normal ones, said Diane Cowan, executive director of The Lobster Conservancy in Friendship, Maine.

“But with the predator population down, notably cod, there might be greater survival rates among these color morphs that are visually easier to pick out,” she said.

Lobstermen have brought Cowan countless colorful lobsters over the years. The prettiest one, she said, was pink and purple.

AP News: US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 16:00

Scary.  Very.  The fact is that the “richest” country on earth has so much poverty is sadder than I can even imagine.  Look, why does it have to be this way.  Poverty and the USA should not be in the same sentence anyway.   I understand though, I work in a place were we see both the rich and the poor.  However the difference is how they treat people.  The poor are so grateful, the rich are so demanding.  I treat both the same.  Hugs

AP News: US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s.

US poverty on track to rise to highest since 1960s

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HOPE YEN
Published: Jul 22, 2012


In this July 16, 2012, photo, Laura Fritz, 27, left, with her daughter Adalade Goudeseune fills out a form at the Jefferson Action Center, an assistance center in the Denver suburb of Lakewood. Both Fritz grew up in the Denver suburbs a solidly middle class family, but she and her boyfriend, who has struggled to find work, and are now relying on government assistance to cover food and $650 rent for their family. The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net. Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections. (AP Photo/Kristen Wyatt)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The ranks of America’s poor are on track to climb to levels unseen in nearly half a century, erasing gains from the war on poverty in the 1960s amid a weak economy and fraying government safety net.

Census figures for 2011 will be released this fall in the critical weeks ahead of the November elections.

The Associated Press surveyed more than a dozen economists, think tanks and academics, both nonpartisan and those with known liberal or conservative leanings, and found a broad consensus: The official poverty rate will rise from 15.1 percent in 2010, climbing as high as 15.7 percent. Several predicted a more modest gain, but even a 0.1 percentage point increase would put poverty at the highest level since 1965.

Poverty is spreading at record levels across many groups, from underemployed workers and suburban families to the poorest poor. More discouraged workers are giving up on the job market, leaving them vulnerable as unemployment aid begins to run out. Suburbs are seeing increases in poverty, including in such political battlegrounds as Colorado, Florida and Nevada, where voters are coping with a new norm of living hand to mouth.

“I grew up going to Hawaii every summer. Now I’m here, applying for assistance because it’s hard to make ends meet. It’s very hard to adjust,” said Laura Fritz, 27, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., describing her slide from rich to poor as she filled out aid forms at a county center. Since 2000, large swaths of Jefferson County just outside Denver have seen poverty nearly double.

Fritz says she grew up wealthy in the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, but fortunes turned after her parents lost a significant amount of money in the housing bust. Stuck in a half-million dollar house, her parents began living off food stamps and Fritz’s college money evaporated. She tried joining the Army but was injured during basic training.

Now she’s living on disability, with an infant daughter and a boyfriend, Garrett Goudeseune, 25, who can’t find work as a landscaper. They are struggling to pay their $650 rent on his unemployment checks and don’t know how they would get by without the extra help as they hope for the job market to improve.

In an election year dominated by discussion of the middle class, Fritz’s case highlights a dim reality for the growing group in poverty. Millions could fall through the cracks as government aid from unemployment insurance, Medicaid, welfare and food stamps diminishes.

“The issues aren’t just with public benefits. We have some deep problems in the economy,” said Peter Edelman, director of the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality and Public Policy.

He pointed to the recent recession but also longer-term changes in the economy such as globalization, automation, outsourcing, immigration, and less unionization that have pushed median household income lower. Even after strong economic growth in the 1990s, poverty never fell below a 1973 low of 11.1 percent. That low point came after President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, launched in 1964, that created Medicaid, Medicare and other social welfare programs.

“I’m reluctant to say that we’ve gone back to where we were in the 1960s. The programs we enacted make a big difference. The problem is that the tidal wave of low-wage jobs is dragging us down and the wage problem is not going to go away anytime soon,” Edelman said.

Stacey Mazer of the National Association of State Budget Officers said states will be watching for poverty increases when figures are released in September as they make decisions about the Medicaid expansion. Most states generally assume poverty levels will hold mostly steady and they will hesitate if the findings show otherwise. “It’s a constant tension in the budget,” she said.

The predictions for 2011 are based on separate AP interviews, supplemented with research on suburban poverty from Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution and an analysis of federal spending by the Congressional Research Service and Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute.

The analysts’ estimates suggest that some 47 million people in the U.S., or 1 in 6, were poor last year. An increase of one-tenth of a percentage point to 15.2 percent would tie the 1983 rate, the highest since 1965. The highest level on record was 22.4 percent in 1959, when the government began calculating poverty figures.

Poverty is closely tied to joblessness. While the unemployment rate improved from 9.6 percent in 2010 to 8.9 percent in 2011, the employment-population ratio remained largely unchanged, meaning many discouraged workers simply stopped looking for work. Food stamp rolls, another indicator of poverty, also grew.

Demographers also say:

-Poverty will remain above the pre-recession level of 12.5 percent for many more years. Several predicted that peak poverty levels – 15 percent to 16 percent – will last at least until 2014, due to expiring unemployment benefits, a jobless rate persistently above 6 percent and weak wage growth.

-Suburban poverty, already at a record level of 11.8 percent, will increase again in 2011.

-Part-time or underemployed workers, who saw a record 15 percent poverty in 2010, will rise to a new high.

-Poverty among people 65 and older will remain at historically low levels, buoyed by Social Security cash payments.

-Child poverty will increase from its 22 percent level in 2010.

Analysts also believe that the poorest poor, defined as those at 50 percent or less of the poverty level, will remain near its peak level of 6.7 percent.

“I’ve always been the guy who could find a job. Now I’m not,” said Dale Szymanski, 56, a Teamsters Union forklift operator and convention hand who lives outside Las Vegas in Clark County. In a state where unemployment ranks highest in the nation, the Las Vegas suburbs have seen a particularly rapid increase in poverty from 9.7 percent in 2007 to 14.7 percent.

Szymanski, who moved from Wisconsin in 2000, said he used to make a decent living of more than $40,000 a year but now doesn’t work enough hours to qualify for union health care. He changed apartments several months ago and sold his aging 2001 Chrysler Sebring in April to pay expenses.

“You keep thinking it’s going to turn around. But I’m stuck,” he said.

The 2010 poverty level was $22,314 for a family of four, and $11,139 for an individual, based on an official government calculation that includes only cash income, before tax deductions. It excludes capital gains or accumulated wealth, such as home ownership, as well as noncash aid such as food stamps and tax credits, which were expanded substantially under President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.

An additional 9 million people in 2010 would have been counted above the poverty line if food stamps and tax credits were taken into account.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, believes the social safety net has worked and it is now time to cut back. He worries that advocates may use a rising poverty rate to justify additional spending on the poor, when in fact, he says, many live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

A new census measure accounts for noncash aid, but that supplemental poverty figure isn’t expected to be released until after the November election. Since that measure is relatively new, the official rate remains the best gauge of year-to-year changes in poverty dating back to 1959.

Few people advocate cuts in anti-poverty programs. Roughly 79 percent of Americans think the gap between rich and poor has grown in the past two decades, according to a Public Religion Research Institute/RNS Religion News survey from November 2011. The same poll found that about 67 percent oppose “cutting federal funding for social programs that help the poor” to help reduce the budget deficit.

Outside of Medicaid, federal spending on major low-income assistance programs such as food stamps, disability aid and tax credits have been mostly flat at roughly 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product from 1975 to the 1990s. Spending spiked higher to 2.3 percent of GDP after Obama’s stimulus program in 2009 temporarily expanded unemployment insurance and tax credits for the poor.

The U.S. safety net may soon offer little comfort to people such as Jose Gorrin, 52, who lives in the western Miami suburb of Hialeah Gardens. Arriving from Cuba in 1980, he was able to earn a decent living as a plumber for years, providing for his children and ex-wife. But things turned sour in 2007 and in the past two years he has barely worked, surviving on the occasional odd job.

His unemployment aid has run out, and he’s too young to draw Social Security.

Holding a paper bag of still-warm bread he’d just bought for lunch, Gorrin said he hasn’t decided whom he’ll vote for in November, expressing little confidence the presidential candidates can solve the nation’s economic problems. “They all promise to help when they’re candidates,” Gorrin said, adding, “I hope things turn around. I already left Cuba. I don’t know where else I can go.”

AP News: White House: Families’ taxes could go up $1,600

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 15:32

Not because the president wants it so , but because the republicans are holding up relief for the lowest income people just to give the crumbs up to the wealthiest.   Does it make sense.  Hugs

AP News: White House: Families’ taxes could go up $1,600.

White House: Families’ taxes could go up $1,600


ALAN FRAM
Published: Yesterday

WASHINGTON (AP) – A standoff with Congress that results in the January expiration of wide-ranging tax cuts would mean 114 million families would see average tax increases of $1,600 next year, the White House says.

In a report Tuesday on the tax standoff with Republicans, the White House tried putting a human face on the showdown and shifting the blame to the GOP.

“So far, the only reason the middle-class tax cuts have not been extended is that Republicans in Congress continue to insist on cutting taxes once again for the wealthiest few,” the report said.

Republicans want to renew all the tax cuts for one year to give the two sides time to negotiate permanent tax changes. President Barack Obama and Democrats also want a yearlong extension, but insist they will only extend the reductions for households earning below $250,000.

Last week Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of her party’s leadership, said if there was no deal by January, her party would be willing to let all the tax cuts expire to pressure Republicans to give ground. Republicans immediately accused Democrats of being willing to raise taxes on everyone as the price for prevailing.

“They’re ready and willing to go right off the fiscal cliff if they don’t get their way,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. He cited the frequently used term “fiscal cliff” to describe the economy-rattling tax increases and spending cuts that will automatically take effect when 2013 begins unless lawmakers reach a compromise for avoiding them.

The $1,600 average tax increase is for all families earning under $250,000, White House officials said. The numbers of families from this group would range from 13.2 million in California to 200,000 in Wyoming, the report said.

The exact size of a family’s tax cut would depend on its size, income and other characteristics.

A married couple earning $50,000 to $80,000 with two children would see a tax increase of $2,200, the paper said. A childless couple making $200,000, including $20,000 of capital gains income, would see their tax bill grow by $5,540.

The report did not include a figure showing the average tax increases that wealthier earners would face, but they would be substantially higher.

It included one example for a couple making $2 million in salaries and bonuses plus $500,000 from capital gains. They would get $7,080 in tax cuts under Obama’s plan, which allows a tax cut to all families for the first $250,000, and $124,000 under GOP proposals, the report said.

The partisan conflict will intensify this week when the Senate votes on a Democratic plan that denies tax cuts to higher earners, and perhaps on a GOP proposal extending tax cuts for all. Both are certain to fail.

Obama: GOP playing politics with call to halt defense cuts – First Read

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 14:47

Why do some groups want to take from those who have the least to give to those who have the most.  Our country is strong.  We will continue to be strong.  Now the republicans made a deal they thought they would never need to live with…Now they want to take from the poorest to give to something that already has enough.   Hugs

Obama: GOP playing politics with call to halt defense cuts – First Read.

Obama: GOP playing politics with call to halt defense cuts

RENO, NEVADA — President Barack Obama accused Republicans of playing politics with the military as he addressed the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), whose members represent what could be a key voting bloc for both Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Susan Walsh / AP

President Barack Obama greets VFW National Commander Richard L. DeNoyer after speaking at the 113th National Convention of the VFW July 23 in Reno, Nev.

Obama, who last addressed the VFW convention as a candidate in 2008, criticized Republicans who are crying foul over scheduled automatic cuts to defense spending, part of a debt-reduction compromise reached last year. 

Related: Romney calls for halt to defense cuts

He pointed out that the debt deal had bipartisan support when it passed in August 2011. 

“There are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that they voted for these cuts. Now, they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to do,” he said.

“Let’s stop playing politics with our military,” he added, even as he took a political turn himself, claiming Republicans would risk defense cuts in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. 

While he did not mention his opponent by name, Obama did criticize some of the positions Romney, who addresses the VFW members Tuesday, has taken, suggesting they indicate the former Massachusetts governor’s lack of foreign policy experience. 

As he described what he sees as his foreign policy accomplishments, including killing Osama bin Laden and ending the war in Iraq, Obama noted that “some,” including Romney, “said that bringing our troops home last year was a mistake.”

“Well, when you’re commander in chief, you owe the troops a plan. You owe the country a plan,” he continued. 

The president also announced several new programs to help veterans, including one intended to reduce instances of falsifying military honors – an issue that recently came before the Supreme Court, which ruled that lying about military awards is not a crime.

“It may no longer be a crime for con artists to pass themselves off as heroes, but one thing is certain, it is contemptible. So this week, we will launch a new website, a living memorial, so the American people can see who’s been awarded our nation’s highest honors,” he said.

While both Obama and Romney resumed trading campaign jabs Monday after pausing in light of the shooting in Aurora, Colo., the president honored the victims of the tragedy at the beginning of his remarks, calling out by name those who were members of the military. 

“Yesterday I was in Aurora with families whose loss is hard to imagine, with the wounded, who are fighting to recover, with a community and a military base in the midst of their grief,” he said, adding that in the members of the VFW, “I see the same shining values, the virtues that make America great.” 

NYT: GOP senators face risks over proposal on tax cuts – politics – The New York Times – NBCNews.com

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 14:24

I am sorry but maybe I am getting thickheaded in my old age.  First yes we all would like more money, but at some point some get more than they could spend.  It simply becomes simply status.   Second Government must be paid for.  We need government and the services it provides.  Simply saying “cut taxes” doesn’t pay for all the services we do need from the government.   So we all must pay for those services, and we ALL use them, no matter how much wealth you have, we all use the governmental services, from the federal government and the army’s to the local school tax to educate our next generation of workers and fellow citizens.    So tell me why one guy promises to help us all and gets flack, yet the other guy promises to help just the wealthy, and that group loves him.  What ever happened to we all work for the common good.  Hugs

NYT: GOP senators face risks over proposal on tax cuts – politics – The New York Times – NBCNews.com.

By JONATHAN WEISMAN

updated 7/24/2012 12:46:10 AM ET

Senate Republicans will press this week to extend tax cuts for affluent families scheduled to expire Jan. 1, but the same Republican tax plan would allow a series of tax cuts for the working poor and the middle class to end next year.

Republicans say the tax breaks for lower-income families — passed with little notice in the extensive 2009 economic stimulus law — were always supposed to be temporary. But President Obama had made them a priority in 2009 and demanded their extension in 2010 as a price for extending the Bush-era tax cuts for two years, and both the White House and Senate Democrats are determined to extend them again.

That sets up a potentially tricky issue for Republicans. They have said they do not want taxes to go up on anyone while the economy struggles to gain altitude, but under their plan, written by Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, about 13 million families would see their tax refunds reduced, and some would see their taxes increase.

“Senator Hatch’s amendment would extend tax breaks for the top 2 percent of Americans,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who leads the Senate’s Democratic majority, said this month. “But it fails to extend a number of tax cuts that help middle-class families get by in a tough economy.”

Obama: GOP playing politics with call to halt defense cuts

The tax showdown is set for Wednesday, when the Senate will vote on whether to take up Democratic legislation to extend Bush-era middle-class tax cuts through 2013. The motion will need 60 votes to pass, and only if it gets those votes will Republicans be given a chance to vote on their alternative tax plan. The House will vote next week on a similar Republican plan that also allows the 2009 stimulus cuts to lapse.

“The president said if you pass the stimulus, unemployment would never go above 8 percent,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the No. 3 House Republican. “We’ve had a 41-month experience that that is not true and hasn’t been effective. One thing Republicans have always said is that they want a form of accountability.”

Under the Democratic plan, tax rates on earnings over $250,000 would snap back to 36 percent and 39.6 percent, the rates paid during the Clinton presidency, from 33 percent and 35 percent. It would also allow theestate tax rate to jump to 55 percent on the value of inheritances over $1 million per individual, $2 million per couple. The current rate is 35 percent on estates over $5 million, $10 million a couple.

The Senate Democratic plan for the estate tax actually takes a bigger piece of qualifying estates than the proposal by President Obama, who wanted a 45 percent rate on inheritances of about $3.5 million, or $7 million per couple. It could cause as many political headaches for some moderate Democrats as the income tax expirations.

Between the income tax expirations, the estate tax provision and a business investment provision that Democrats would limit to small businesses, the Democratic plan would raise almost $82 billion more in taxes in 2013 than the Republican version. But the Democrats’ claim to fiscal prudence may be undermined by their decision to maintain the stimulus law’s tax breaks, which would cut those savings down to $55 billion.

Romney vows specifics, demands halt in automatic defense cuts

Republican tax aides say the vast majority of the benefits Democrats are seeking to preserve are not tax cuts but checks written by the Internal Revenue Service and sent to the working poor. Given the huge increase in government aid, like food stamps and unemployment benefits, letting some assistance lapse makes sense, they say.

N. Gregory Mankiw, a former Bush White House economic aide and an adviser to Mitt Romney, said that a typical family in the lowest 20 percent of the income scale now receives $3 in government benefits for every $1 earned. Even the middle 20 percent receives slightly more in government largess than it pays in taxes, he said.

“What happened to the failed stimulus being ‘targeted, timely and temporary?’ ” asked Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Senate Finance Committee Republicans. “With our economy as weak as it is, stopping the president’s massive tax increase on nearly a million small businesses and then overhauling our burdensome tax code is how we’ll get America moving again. The same can’t be said for keeping the expanded stimulus spending through the tax code.”

At issue are four measures from the stimulus law. One reduced the eligibility threshold to $3,000 in earned income for the child tax credit. Without it, the threshold will jump to $13,300 next year, costing nearly nine million families about $7.6 billion, an average of $854 a family, according to the liberal group Citizens for Tax Justice. But the hit could be considerably larger. Currently, a family with one full-time minimum wage earner and two children receives a total child tax credit of $1,812, almost equal to the full $2,000 credit middle-income families with two children receive, said David Harris, president of the Children’s Research and Education Institute. If the stimulus provision lapses, that family’s credit would drop to $267, a $1,545 loss.

The stimulus also enlarged the earned income credit for families with three or more children, reduced the “marriage penalty” on working poor couples by starting the earned income credit phaseout at a higher level for married earners, and expanded the middle-class tax deduction for higher-education tuition. The 2009 American Opportunity Tax Credit expanded the tax break for tuition, fees and educational expenses to $2,500 from about $1,800, and doubled the length of eligibility to four years of school from two. It also made the first $1,000 of the tuition credit refundable, meaning that a family without enough federal income tax liability could get a check from the I.R.S. to offset higher education costs.

In all, the Republican plan would extend tax cuts for 2.7 million affluent families while allowing tax breaks to expire for 13 million on the bottom of the income spectrum, tax analysts say. An impact analysis released Monday by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation said a permanent extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts would cut taxes on households with more than $1 million of annual income by $74,505 next year. The Democratic proposal would cut taxes for those same households by $7,055.

European slowdown hitting some states hard – Economy Watch

Filed under: News — Scottie @ 14:09

We are a connected world.   We are really one human race and the fate of one of us, is the fate of all of us.   If one country suffers, we all will feel the effects.  Hugs

European slowdown hitting some states hard – Economy Watch.

European slowdown hitting some states hard

The European meltdown is weighing heavily on the U.S. economy, with states that rely heavily on exports most at risk from the deepening crisis overseas.

An analysis by Wells Fargo estimates that Utah and West Virginia economies face the biggest risk from the problems in the eurozone, while many Western states including Wyoming and Colorado are unlikely to see much impact.

“The impact of the eurozone recession on each state varies considerably with the mix of goods and services produced and exported,” Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said in the analysis.

The European and U.S. economies are linked through numerous ties. The most direct — and most easily tracked — impact centers on a trade relationship that is “the largest and most complex in the world,” according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Those ties generate trade flows of about $3.6 billion a day and account for more than 7 million jobs.

But that money flows unevenly within the U.S., leaving some state economies more vulnerable than others. States with the highest risk of slowing exports are those heavily concentrated in transportation equipment, commodities and chemicals, according to Vitner’s analysis.

Those include South Carolina, where more than 250 transportation-related companies employ more than 32,000 workers. Vitner estimates the slowdown in exports over the last year has shaved roughly 1.4 percent off the state’s GDP.

The drop in exports has been partly offset by continued investment in new plants, including a new Boeing aircraft factory. In Alabama, the fourth-biggest vehicle exporting state, weaker demand for cars and trucks is being offset by plans for expanded production by Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai.

The drop in transportation exports has also been offset by orders from the rest of the world, which has helped blunt the impact on states that rely heavily on aircraft manufacturing. But Washington state, where the aircraft industry makes up 71 percent of exports, remains vulnerable to a further slowdown. With nearly two-thirds of its exports coming from sales of aircraft and related equipment, Connecticut is also vulnerable.

States that rely heavily on exports of commodities face the greatest risk, according to Vitner. Those include Utah and Nevada, with large exports of gold and silver, and West Virginia, a major coal exporter. Slowing chemical exports have hit Louisiana hard. Louisiana’s exports to the eurozone fell 31 percent in the first five months of the year.

The European recession also hurts states that rely heavily on industries such as financial services and tourism.

“European visitors account for around 40 percent of all international visitors to the United States, and the volume of visitors has slowed noticeably over the past few months,” according to Vitner.

Top U.S. destinations include New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C. The eurozone slowdown is hitting East Coast destinations the hardest, Vitner said.

The crisis also hurts the financial centers of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston. As of June 30, the six largest U.S. financial firms by assets had cut more than 18,000 jobs in the past year, or 1.6 percent of the total, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Eurozone woes add to existing troubles
The slowdown comes as states are already struggling with weaker economic growth and persistent pressure on state budgets. Last year, six states — Wyoming, Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, Maine and Hawaii — saw their economies shrink.

States with positive growth are still feeling the hangover from the 2007-09 recession, which cut deeply into revenues just as newly unemployed people turned to their services for help in large numbers. Other costs, including for healthcare and public employee pensions, are rising rapidly, forcing cuts in basic services such as law enforcement, schools and transportation.

The budget crunch shows no signs of easing, and states’ current spending, taxation and budget practices cannot be sustained, according to an independent bipartisan committee.

As aging populations drive health care and pension costs higher, revenue from sales and gas taxes is shrinking, the group said in a report last week. Meanwhile, grants from the federal government, which provide about a third of state revenue, are likely to shrink, the report said.

The State Budget Crisis Task Force, headed by Volcker and former New York Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch, studied six key states.

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