FAA Plans to Lift In-Flight Electronics Ban

Jun 25, 2013, 10:56 am EST
FAA Plans to Lift In-Flight Electronics Ban

Tired of having to switch off that smartphone off while waiting for your plane to takeoff and land? Well, you may not have to do that too much longer.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Friday that it is extending the deadline for an advisory committee to issue recommendations on changing current rules regarding in-flight use of electronic devices. The FAA is facing pressure from both the public and lawmakers to relax the prohibition on mobile device use during plane landings and takeoffs, the Associated Press notes.

The advisory committee was originally scheduled to propose its recommendations next month, but it will now have until September. Under current rules, airlines must show that all potential mobile devices would not affect aircraft functions under 10,000 feet in altitude — an effective rather than explicit ban, since airlines simply forbid all mobile device use during takeoffs and landings in order to comply with the rule. Read 

Detroit: In Debt and In Shambles

Jun 25, 2013, 8:29 am EST
Detroit: In Debt and In Shambles

Detroit has fallen into a pit from which it might not be able to emerge.

City emergency manager Kevyn Orr recently announced his plan for restructuring the ailing city’s finances and debt. The news wasn’t good for city bondholders, employees or anyone else who has an interest in getting paid by the city, and in full.

Orr’s plan involves cuts to pensions and healthcare benefits and proposes paying less than 10 cents on the dollar to some creditors, and defaulting on $2.5 billion in unsecured debt. It also would regionalize the city’s water and sewer system. Not surprisingly, Fitch and Moody’s downgraded Detroit’s debt soon after the plan’s announcement, putting it well below investment grade. Read 

Surprise! House Rejects Farm Bill

Jun 21, 2013, 10:23 am EST
Surprise! House Rejects Farm Bill

On Thursday, an increasingly divided U.S. House of Representatives shot down a $940 billion farm bill.

The bill had been widely expected to receive bipartisan support. However, an unlikely coalition of conservatives Republicans and liberal Democrats emerged to block its passage. In the end, only 24 Democrats voted for the bill, which failed in a 234-195 vote, the Wall Street Journal noted.

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Democrat House Leader, said the bill’s defeat was a sign that the chamber’s Republican majority has lost the ability to govern. GOP House leaders fired back, accusing Democrats of backtracking on prior promises and putting politics above policy. Read 

IRS to Pay $70M in Bonuses … Despite Directive Not To

Jun 19, 2013, 12:15 pm EST

While most government departments are reeling from budget cuts mandated by the sequester, the Internal Revenue Service is preparing to hand out bonuses.

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says that the IRS has made a deal with its union to distribute $70 million in discretionary bonuses to agency employees. The deal would appear to defy an order issued by the White House Budget office in April forbidding government departments from paying discretionary monetary awards unless legally required to do so, the Associated Press notes.

According to Grassley, the IRS told its union that it planned to reclaim $75 million employee bonus funds back in March, but then concluded a new deal to pay the bonuses. Read 

Obama Hints Bernanke’s Time as Fed Head Nears End

Jun 18, 2013, 10:20 am EST
Obama Hints Bernanke’s Time as Fed Head Nears End

In an interview with Charlie Rose that aired on Monday, President Barack Obama signaled that he may soon appoint a new Federal Reserve chairman.

The term of current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke expires next year. Obama praised Bernanke for “outstanding” performance during his time at the Fed, but note that the chairman has been on the job “longer than he wanted,” Bloomberg noted.

Bernanke became Fed Chairman under former President George W. Bush. He steered the nation’s financial policy through the mortgage crisis and massive federal bailouts that rescued struggling banks, insurers and General Motors (GM). Read 

Vladimir Putin Denies Stealing NFL Ring

Jun 17, 2013, 11:58 am EST

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin is dismissing reports that the former-KGB-operative-turned-nationalist-politician swiped an expensive ring almost a decade ago.

According to Robert Kraft, who owns the New England Patriots, the Russian leader made off one of the team’s Super Bowl rings during a 2005 meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia. After Putin expressed interest in the ring, Kraft says he allowed him to put it on his finger. Putin then pocketed the ring — and accompanied by security — left the meeting, the Washington Post notes.

The ring featured 124 diamonds and is valued at $25,000. Read 

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