Sunday, July 31, 2011

Labrador: "I Think the Votes Are There."

Posted By on Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 11:13 AM

Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador told a national television audience this morning that 2011's financial mess cannot be blamed on congressional freshmen such as himself. Rather, Labrador said, it is the the responsibility of "the establishment of Washington for the last 30 years. The recent we have $15 trillion in debt is not because I was in Congress for the last 30 years but because of the people who have been here."

Labrador said the so-called Boehner bill that was passed through the U.S. House on Friday but rejected by the Senate was the same bill as proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid save for "the triggers," referring to new conditions tacked on by negotiators this morning.

"This would have passed on Monday and we wouldn't be in the crisis that we're in right now," said Labrador.

The Idaho Republican said he hears "every single day" from constituents who ask him to cut programs or entitlements except for their own.

When pressed, Labrador would not say whether he would support the compromise plan currently being worked out by both parties.

"I have to look at it," he said, reiterating that he wanted a balanced budget amendement tacked on to the measure. "I think the votes are there. I think it will get out of the House of Representatives."

Veteran NBC newsman Tom Brokaw quizzed Labrador about Idaho's better than average return on federal investment.

"The last time I checked, you get $1.28 for every $1 you send to Washington," said Brokaw. "How much of that 28-cents would you be willing to give up?

"Everytime you use $1 of federal money for schools or roads, it actually costs you 30-cents more," responded Labrador.

Meanwhile at the White House, negotiators said they were "very close" to an agreement on framework for a new plan which could see the debt ceiling raised past 2012. But the increase would be attached to immediate spending cuts totalling $1 trillion with an additional $1.8 trillion in cuts to be crafted by a so-called "super committee" of lawmakers.

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Keeping an Eye on the Fear Index

Posted By on Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 10:20 AM

You're already familiar with financial yardsticks like the GDP, NYSE, AMEX and S&P. You may now want to keep an eye on something called the '"fear index."

The Chicago Board Options Exchange publishes a volatility index, or VIX. Introduced in 1993 by a Duke University professor, the fear index forecasts the market's volatility over the next 30 days. Additionally, CBOE has begun publishing a new tail-risk benchmark. "Tail risk" is the term investors sometimes use for the possibility that markets could experience a sudden and steep drop, not unlike the financial crisis in 2008.

Last week, the CBOE Market Volatility Index jumped as much as 9 percent to its highest level since mid-March, when the nuclear catastrophe in Japan became front page news. The VIX hit 25 on Friday. A reading of 30 is typically considered a fear tipping point.

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New Limits for Extra Strength Tylenol

Posted By on Sun, Jul 31, 2011 at 10:18 AM

For years, the listed maximum daily dose of Extra Strength Tylenol was eight pills a day. But now, Johnson & Johnson has announced it is reducing the maximum daily dose to six pills, or a total of 3,000 mg. Labels on Extra Strength Tylenol are expected to change sometime this fall. Additionally, maximum daily doses for Regular Strength Tylenol and other adult pain relievers are expected to be reduced next year.

Two years ago, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration called for tighter restrictions on acetaminophen. This past January, the FDA began capping the amount of acetaminophen, the most widely used pain killer in the U.S., in Vicodin, Percocet and other pain killers. Besides Tylenol, acetaminophen is an active ingredient in NyQuil and some Sudafed products.

Scientists have concluded that excessive use of acetaminophen can cause liver damage. According to the FDA, acetaminophen is blamed for about 200 fatal overdoses and sends 56,000 people to the emergency room each year.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

City Again Selling Compost Bins

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 3:26 PM

Due to increased demand, Boise Public Works and Allied Waste are again selling compost bins.

"We sold more than 1,000 compost bins (last spring)," said Solid Waste Programs manager Catherine Chertudi. "Our free composting classes were full, and we continue to get calls asking if we are selling composting bins."

Public Works is taking pre-orders for a limited amount (150) of the so-called "earth machines" at a price of $42.05.

The city will also launch a series of evening composting classes on Aug. 1 at the Main Library, Aug. 9 at the Cole and Ustick Library, and Sept. 7 at the Collister Library.

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Federal, State Officials Probe Lucky Friday Mine Fires

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 3:24 PM

The Spokesman Review reports that federal officials have joined Idaho fire investigators to probe a pair of fires at the Lucky Friday Mine in Idaho's panhandle.

The most recent fire, reported on July 26, led to an evacuation after an employee said he smelled smoke. The cause of the fire, which was extinguished on July 27, is still unknown. A previous fire broke out at the mine on July 5.

The Lucky Friday Mine was the scene of an accident in April, where a miner was killed following a roof collapse more than a mile beneath the surface. Hecla mining, which operates the Lucky Friday operations, employs about 275 men and women.

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Another Day, Another Vote; Still No Debt Deal

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Idaho's U.S. House Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson joined 233 Republicans and 11 Democrats to reject Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's attempt to craft yet another debt-ceiling proposal. Saturday's vote was the latest example of partisanship that has gripped the nation's capitol. The House vote came even before the U.S. Senate had an opportunity to consider the measure.

Meanwhile, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner said they were in touch with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and were still confident that they could reach a debt deal before Tuesday's deadline.

"There is very little time," Obama told a national radio audience this morning, calling for an end to political gamemanship. "The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now."

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Forest Service Abruptly Cancels Contract for Firefighting Planes

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 3:21 PM

The Los Angeles Times reports today that the U.S. Forest Service is canceling a contract with a manufacturer or air tankers, citing safety concerns. The agency decided to drop the contract with months left in the Western U.S. fire season.

"We can't in good conscience maintain an aviation contract where we feel lives may be ut at risk due to inadequate safety practices," said Tom Harbour, USFS' fire and aviation director.

The contract for the exclusive use of six P-3 tankers was yanked from Aero Union Corp. of Chico, Calif.

The contract cancellation came in the wake of an announcement from Boise's National Interagency
Fire Center that the current fire season is exected to begin tapering off.

"We just don't see anything out of normal; in fact, we see a little bit below normal" for the rest of the year, said Karen Wood, Forest service director of operations at NIFC.

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Plan to Clean Yellowstone River Finally Approved

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Nearly a full month after first spilling tens of thousands of gallons into Montana's Yellowstone River, ExxonMobil has finally received preliminary aproval for its plan to clean up the mess. The oil began pouring into the river on July 1 after a pipeline broken beneath the river.

Exxon's plan includes 900 people to clean up the miles of fouled-up river. Montana officials estimated that up to 50,400 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone. Exxon officials said it was more like 42,000 gallons.

New readings of possible contamination in soil and residential wells is expected to be complete by next Wednesday.

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Procreation Explosion: 10 Billion People by 2100

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Researchers unveiled staggering new population preductions on Friday. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the global population is expected to top 9 billion by 2050. Sometime this year, the world's population should hit 7 billion. Researchers said by 2100, there could be 10 billion people on the planet.

But scientists said that the population increase will be quite lopsided. In developed countries such as Germany and Japan, populations are expected to stay flat or even decline. As a result, those societies could face major economic crises because there will be fewer young adults to care for the elderly.

Conversely, growth in developing countries is expected to boil over. According to the figures, in Africa, the population could grow 1.1 billion, representing nearly 49 percent of the projected growth by 2050.

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Facebook: If You Can't Hack 'Em, Join 'Em

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Facebook wants to keep some of its enemies closer; or at least some of its former enemies. The social-networking giant unveiled a program Friday, July 29, that will pay people to find holes in its security system. Ideally, Facebook officials said, that would include individuals who have previously tried to hack Facebook's systems. Compensation starts at $500, with no limits on how much someone can make. The rule is simple: Be the first one to point out an obvious bug and you get the bounty. Particiants will need to legally agree to Facebook's Responsible Disclosure Policy.

Facebook isn't blazing new trails. Google, Mozilla and Hewlett-Packard have all previous tried bug bounty programs.

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