WEEK ONE HUNDRED & THIRTY-SIX

August 22, 2011

1.     Moammar Gadhafi's grip on power dissolved with astonishing speed as rebels marched into the capitol and arrested at least one of his sons, while residents raucously celebrated the prospective end of his four-decade-old rule:

  • Officials loyal to Gadhafi insisted that the fight was not over, and there were clashes between rebels and government troops early this morning--but NATO and U.S. officials made clear that Gadhafi's control of Tripoli, which had been his final stronghold, was not in doubt.

2.     Another recession is not likely over the next 12 months, but neither is any meaningful improvement:

  • That's the picture emerging from an Associated Press survey of leading economists who have grown more pessimistic in recent weeks--they say that high unemployment and weak consumer spending will hold back the U.S. economy into 2012.

3.     A new survey says salaried U.S. workers can expect another year of modest raises in 2012:

  • Benefits and human resources consultancy Towers Watson reported that after increasing salaries by 2.6% this year and last year, companies are planning a 2.8% bump in 2012--that's some of the smallest raises in the last decade since from 2000 to 2006, the year before the recession began, salaries rose an average 3.9% for workers who were not executives.

August 23, 2011     The White House released final plans to streamline the federal bureaucracy by eliminating 500 regulatory requirements across two dozen federal agencies, an overhaul that could make it easier for travelers to obtain visas and military contractors to get paid:

  • Officials said that the reforms, which came in response to President Obama's order in January for agencies to reduce red tape, could save up to $10 billion over five years--House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) called the new plans "underwhelming" and said that Obama "seems reluctant to do everything in his power" to help business owners.

Aust 24, 2011

1.     The federal budget deficit hit $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2011, continuing its historically high levels, congressional budget analysts said, but it will ebb substantially over the next decade--if the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire as scheduled:

  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that revenue, coupled with the debt reduction deal signed into law this month by President Obama, would cut projected deficits by $3.3 trillion, or nearly half, over the next decade--but that reduction will be realized only if lawmakers allow a series of tax cuts and other temporary revenue measures to expire, and the prospect of that happening is considered dicey by many analysts, given the divisive political environment in Washington.

2.     A surge in demand for autos and aircraft drove orders for long-lasting manufactured goods higher in July, easing fears that the economy might be on the verge of another recession:

  • The rebound in the auto industry helped offset a decline in orders for most other factory goods--stocks rose after the better-than-expected report showed the biggest increase in durable goods orders since March, when the Japan earthquake disrupted supply chains and slowed auto production.

August 26, 2011

1.     Two grants totaling more than $3 million have advanced plans by two Douglas County nonprofit organizations to build apartments for homeless veterans on the Roseburg Veterans' Affairs Medical Center campus, part of a nationwide campaign to end veteran homelessness:

  • A $2.1 million grant from Oregon Housing and Community Services and a separate $1 million contribution from the VA are the first major steps toward securing funding for Eagle Landing, a $10 million, 55-unit complex--Jody Ahlstedt, who oversees housing projects for UCAN, said that United Community Action Network and NeighborWorks Umpqua are pursuing leads to secure the rest of the funding from private organizations and foundations, and she said that the groups also anticipate receiving low-income housing tax credits for Eagle Landing.

2.     A new Associated Press-GfK poll suggests that Americans are plenty angry at Congress in the aftermath of the debt crisis and Republicans could pay the greatest price:

  • The poll finds the tea party has lost support, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is increasingly unpopular, and people are warming to the idea of not just cutting spending but also raising taxes, an anathema to the GOP, just as both parties prepare for another struggle with deficit reduction--the survey, conducted August 18-22, found that approval of Congress has dropped to its lowest level in AP-GfK poll history, 12 percent, down from 21 percent in June, before the debt deal reached fever pitch.

3.     Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the U.S. economy is likely to keep growing, albeit at a subpar pace because of continuing headwinds, but he failed to spell out what steps he is considering next to boost the economy:

  • Bernanke said that U.S. policy makers face two major challenges: helping the economy "further recover" from the recession and doing so in ways that promote longer-term growth, and while the deficit is a problem, the Fed chief said, it should be addressed over a long period of time, and lawmakers should not cut government programs immediately, which could create even more drag against the economic recovery--financial markets swooned after the Bernanke speech, and the Dow Jones industrial average fell by as much as 220 points, but sentiment swung as the speech sunk in, and the Dow roared back into positive territory and closed with an advance of 134.72 points.

August 27, 2011     American officials said that al-Qaida's second in command, Atiyah Abdal-Rahman, has been killed in Pakistan, delivering another blow to a terrorist group that the U.S. believes to be on the verge of defeat:

  • A Libyan national, al-Rahman never had the worldwide name recognition of Osama bin Laden or bin Laden's successor, Ayman al-Zawarhiri, but al-Rahman was regarded as an instrumental figure in the terrorist organization, trusted by bin Laden to oversee daily operations--senior al-Qaida figures have been killed before, only to be replaced, but the Obama administration's tenor reflects a cautious optimism that victory in the decade-long fight against al-Qaida could be at hand.
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