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    Daily Digest 2/23 – States Seek Ways To Solve Budget Woes, Debt Relief In Egypt?, The Rising Cost Of Everything

    by saxplayer00o1

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 3:48 PM

  • California Fees Boost Traffic Fines To Aid Budget
  • Detroit Ordered to Close Half Its Public Schools Amid Budget Crisis
  • States Ignored Warnings On Unemployment Insurance
  • Wisconsin Governor Warns Of Layoffs
  • Portugal’s Debt D-Day Nears
  • Russia May Extend Grain Export Ban: Minister
  • Wisconsin Labor Fight Spreads to Ohio, Oklahoma and Indiana
  • Gaddafi orders oil sabotage, source tells Time columnist
  • Treasury Tools Less Effective as Debt Limit Nears
  • Egypt Seeking Debt Relief From European Union
  • “I Won’t Pay” Movement Grips Debt-Ridden Greece
  • Uninsured’s Numbers Surge During Recession
  • NWS Could Be Cut
  • VF Corp To Raise Prices
  • Big Airlines Try To Raise Fares Again
  • Hormel Raising Prices
  • Cost Of … Everything … About To Go Up
  • Parking Prices Going Up With New Meters
  • Beachgoers burning mad over looming parking fees
  • Major Fee Increase Proposed For DMV Business
  • Brazil Central Bank Sold $848.2M In Reverse Swap Contracts
  • Adams ‘Dismisses’ Irish IMF Obligations
  • Seafood Sellers Say Prices Are on the Rise

Crash Course DVDThe Special Edition DVD, in a unique 3-disc format with presenter’s pack to guide live showings. (NTSC or PAL)


California Fees Boost Traffic Fines To Aid Budget

“We’re the ones taking the brunt for everything,” said Jachens, 21, a student at California State University, Sacramento. “It’s outrageous.”

Jachens was nabbed by a red-light camera for not making a complete stop at the intersection of Watt Avenue and Fair Oaks Boulevard. Three years ago, the offense would have cost Jachens $371. Now it’s $470.

Detroit Ordered to Close Half Its Public Schools Amid Budget Crisis

The Detroit public school system has been ordered to close half its schools to make up for a $327 million deficit. The schools will be shuttered over the next four years, causing class sizes to bulge to 60.

The plan, mandated by state education officials, will reduce the number of schools in the district from 142 to 72. Robert Bobb, the district’s emergency financial manager, said he was preparing a list of recommended school closures and that layoffs would be announced closer to April, according to The Detroit News.

States Ignored Warnings On Unemployment Insurance

In the short term, states must find the money to pay interest on the loans. Generally, that involves a special tax on businesses until the loan is repaid. Some states could tap general revenues, making it harder to pay for schools, roads and other services. In the long term, states will have to replenish unemployment insurance programs. That typically leads to higher payroll taxes, leaving companies with less money to invest.

Wisconsin Governor Warns Of Layoffs

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warned Tuesday that state employees could start receiving layoff notices as early as next week if a bill eliminating most collective bargaining rights isn’t passed soon.

Walker said in a statement to The Associated Press that the layoffs wouldn’t take effect immediately. He didn’t say which workers would be targeted but he has repeatedly warned that up to 1,500 workers could lose their jobs by July if his proposal isn’t passed…..The proposal, designed to help Wisconsin plug a projected $3.6 billion budget hole, has led to eight straight days of massive protests that grew as large as 68,000 people on Saturday.

Portugal’s Debt D-Day Nears

Financial pressure on the country’s treasury is increasing, a topic that is likely to come up at the March 11 and March 24 meetings of European Union leaders, according to people familiar with the discussions.

“The feeling is that it can’t go without a bailout beyond March or April at the latest and is already under pressure by countries like Germany to ask for help, to get it so the situation in the euro zone becomes more clear,” a senior euro-zone government official said. Some Portuguese officials are privately considering the possibility, this official said.

Russia May Extend Grain Export Ban: Minister

Russia on Tuesday said it may extend a ban on grain exports that has been blamed for triggering global food price rises beyond its provisional expiry date of July 1. The Russian government’s pointman on agriculture emerged from a closed-door cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to announce that such an option had been discussed.

The wheat export ban went into effect in mid-August and has been cited as one of the many factors behind the social unrest and revolutions that have recently swept much of the Arab world. The world’s third-largest wheat exporter’s clients include nations such as Egypt — the world’s biggest importer that buys half of its wheat abroad.

Wisconsin Labor Fight Spreads to Ohio, Oklahoma and Indiana (Tech Ticker video)

With states like Wisconsin facing multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls, it is easy to see that something has got to give. It is even clear to public employees in Wisconsin who agreed to work with Gov. Walker in closing that state’s $3.6 billion budget gap by paying more for pension and healthcare benefits.

But, the labor fight in Wisconsin is far from over and it’s spreading to states like Ohio, Oklahoma and Indiana where protests protecting public — and private — sector employee unions have erupted. The labor disputes have become less about money, and more about the rights of employees to unionize.

Gaddafi orders oil sabotage, source tells Time columnist

In a column posted on Time’s website, Robert Baer said the sabotage would begin by blowing up pipelines to the Mediterranean. However he added that the same source had also told him two weeks ago that unrest in neighboring countries would never spread to Libya — an assertion that has turned out to be wrong.

“Among other things, Gaddafi has ordered security services to start sabotaging oil facilities,” Baer wrote. “The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya’s rebellious tribes: It’s either me or chaos.”

Treasury Tools Less Effective as Debt Limit Nears

The Treasury Department’s ability to take “extraordinary measures” to avoid tripping up against the federal debt limit may not be as effective as in the past because of ballooning federal debt levels, a congressional watchdog warned Tuesday. As a result, Congress will have much less time to debate increasing the debt limit to prevent the federal government from hitting the fast-approaching $14.294 trillion debt cap, the Government Accountability Office said.

“Treasury’s past success at managing cash and debt when near or at the debt limit is no guarantee that it can continue to manage successfully in the future and may be misleading,” GAO said in a 55-page report.

    Crash Course DVDThe Special Edition DVD, in a unique 3-disc format with presenter’s pack to guide live showings. (NTSC or PAL)

Egypt Seeking Debt Relief From European Union

Egypt has asked Britain for its support in seeking debt forgiveness from Europe, the Finance Ministry said Tuesday, in the latest push to boost an economy bruised by weeks of protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak…Egypt owes the EU member states about $9 billion, according to EU officials in Egypt. The country’s total foreign debt stood at about $34.7 billion as of the end of September 2011, according to central bank figures.

“I Won’t Pay” Movement Grips Debt-Ridden Greece

They blockade highway toll booths to give drivers free passage. They cover subway ticket machines with plastic bags so commuters can’t pay. Even doctors are joining in, preventing patients from paying fees at state hospitals.

Some call it civil disobedience. Others a freeloading spirit. Either way, Greece’s “I Won’t Pay” movement has sparked heated debate in a nation reeling from a debt crisis that’s forced the government to take drastic austerity measures – including higher taxes, wage and pension cuts, and price spikes in public services.

Uninsured’s numbers surge during recession (California)

The deep recession has pushed the ranks of the uninsured here to unprecedented levels. At the same time, a dire state budget deficit has forced lawmakers to drastically scale back or eliminate key health care programs for the state’s poorest residents. At the nexus of these two trends lies a troubling new reality: Across class lines, people are struggling to access care — or simply are going without.

NWS Could Be Cut

Meteorology professor, Dr. Mike Brown of Mississippi State University’s Geoscience Department, told Newscenter 11 what that means for the future of severe weather warnings. “Literally, the weather service meteorologists that issue these warnings would be blind. If they do black out these offices, and if they turn off the radars during these blackouts, we are in real trouble,” Brown said. The proposed cuts have already passed in the House and the measure is going to the Senate.

VF Corp To Raise Prices

VF Corp, which makes brands like North Face, Vans, Lee jeans and 7 For All Mankind, said 2011 would see the highest rate of organic revenue growth since 2007.

Shearer said overall product costs would increase by around 7 percent this year, mainly driven by higher cotton prices, which have prompted clothes manufacturers worldwide to raise prices and safeguard their margins. Last month, Hanesbrands Inc said it would increase prices sharply, while Swedish fashion chain Hennes & Mauritz AB posted a surprise fall in quarterly profit, hit by higher raw materials costs.

Big Airlines Try To Raise Fares Again

Fare watchers say American, United and Continental raised prices Monday by $20 to $60 per round trip on some tickets favored by business travelers. The increases are half the size of some that were briefly imposed last week, then rolled back after US Airways decided not to raise prices.

The airlines are dealing with roughly a 50 percent increase in spot prices for jet fuel in the past year.

Hormel Raising Prices

The maker of products such as Spam and Dinty Moore stew reported Tuesday that it earned $148.8 million, or 55 cents per share. Hormel, like many food makers, has raised prices to offset higher costs for ingredients such as grain and raw materials such as aluminum for cans.

The company said last quarter that it planned to raise prices 3 to 4 percent on an array of products during the year.

Cost Of … Everything … About To Go Up

You paid more last month for practically everything you bought. From food to gas to airfare tickets – even clothing. And now the price of everything is about to go up again.

A new report from The Labor Department indicates its concern about inflation, and businesses are claiming they can’t absorb the rising cost of commodities alone. Many say they’ll have no choice but to raise prices and shrink packages. Frustrating stuff for an economy that’s supposed to be recovering.

“Things are just not going well,” says Charlotte resident Lisa Bettinghouse. “You have to eat, but you can only have what you can afford, and now it’s getting scary.”

Parking Prices Going Up With New Meters (Indianapolis)

The first phase will be finished on March 28, when the price will increase from 75 cents to $1 an hour. Metering times will change, too. “Currently, meters operate Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. They will now (as of March 28) operate Monday through Saturday 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. ,” said Matt Darst, of ParkIndy.

Beachgoers burning mad over looming parking fees (Florida)

With County revenues declining (15% – 20% next budget year), we must place limited resources in public safety priorities such as the Fire Department and road maintenance. The “user fees” for Futch Park and Lori Wilson Park are pilot programs to study feasibility.

Major Fee Increase Proposed For DMV Business (West Virginia)

State lawmakers have struggled for several years in trying to come up with ways of boosting the Road Fund with the main revenue for the fund, gasoline sales, leveling off, while the cost of road repairs increase. Highway needs have been totaled at $700 million. The bill approved by the committee Tuesday also calls for a $20 increase in the cost of a driver’s license from the current $13 to $33. If approved, fees would also go up for title transfers, copies of driver’s records and similar routine work done by the DMV on a daily basis.

Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, says acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has already indicated he would “entertain” such a bill.

Brazil Central Bank Sold $848.2M In Reverse Swap Contracts

Typically, a reverse swap auction supports the dollar against the Brazilian real by removing future dollar deliveries from the market. The government revived reverse swap auctions earlier this year in an effort to arrest the continued appreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar.

The real has gained more than 30% against the dollar since the beginning of 2009. The strong real is hurting Brazilian exports.

Adams ‘Dismisses’ Irish IMF Obligations

The Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has dismissed the idea that the Republic of Ireland had ‘obligations’ to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Adams said Sinn Fein, if in government in the Republic, would stand up for Irish interests against the international banking community. He accepted that the European Central Bank (ECB) invested vast sums of money, but insisted this was ECB’s “problem”.

Mr Adams (pictured) said: “Sinn Fein didn’t create the economic crisis. Sinn Fein didn’t give away what remains of our sovereignty.

Seafood Sellers Say Prices Are on the Rise

Charles Smith, owner of Bayside Seafood in Laurel, says the prices for items like crab legs and shrimp have risen significantly within the past year because of factors like increased gas surcharges for delivery. He says the price of the scallops he sells has spiked about 25 percent from a year ago.

Smith said, because of that, fewer people are buying seafood. “When the economy is good, people spend money on it,” Smith said. “When the economy is bad, they eat hot dogs and bologna. The people that are working for $7 or $8 an hour–the extra little money they had to spend on a luxury like seafood–is gone. They don’t have it.”

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