In response to depleted revenues and high labor costs, the head of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) asserted Tuesday that the cash-strapped mail agency has become a little like Greece, and that congressional lawmakers must approve a restructuring plan if it has any chance of returning to profitability. “If we don’t do something about the costs of this organization, we are going to look … like Greece,” U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe charged. “People laugh when I say that, but it’s true.”
In efforts to intimidate and suppress the speech of prominent conservative bloggers, opponents are implementing a decade-old technique called “SWAT-ing,” which involves prank callers phoning law-enforcement authorities and reporting a violent crime at someone’s home. The pranksters generally camouflage their actual phone numbers — by making them appear to originate from the victim’s home — leading SWAT teams to be dispatched to a person’s residence.
President Obama’s assertion last Friday that “the private sector is doing fine” has drawn heated criticism from his opponents, as media outlets and the Romney campaign have pounced at the opportunity to exploit the President’s “out-of-touch” view toward the U.S. economy.
Adding to its revolutionary navigation service, Google is planning to release a new version of the Google Maps program, offering users a 3D aerial-mapping technology that provides details capable of showing objects just four inches wide. But as U.S. technology companies race to produce aerial maps with greater detail and visibility, critics are posing privacy concerns and warning that America is quickly becoming a surveillance society.
In terminating the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS) project, an X-ray telescope mission that was launched to study black holes and various space-time theories, NASA has left taxpayers with a bill worth $43.5 million. The program’s overall price tag was initially marked at $119 million (not including the rocket that was to be launched into orbit), but the space agency has already doled out tens of millions of dollars, and the project was 20 to 30 percent over budget, according to briefing charts received by SpaceNews.com.
The “Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2012,” announced Wednesday by three Democratic lawmakers — Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) — would spike the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 while mandating that future increases be tied to inflation.
But leaders in the business community say increases in the minimum wage only exacerbate unemployment, as companies must cut their payroll, especially when dealing with a stagnant economy.
After enduring a series of financial and logistical hiccups, California’s landmark high-speed rail project has become increasingly unpopular among voters, as the project’s enormous price tag continues to inflate and as the state’s budgetary woes grow more severe.
House Republicans passed two amendments on a spending bill Tuesday that would bar the federal government from imposing light bulb standards that critics say are too meddlesome. Passed through a voice vote, the provision would amend the Energy and Water spending bill for 2013 by preventing the Energy Department from spending money to enforce bulb efficiency regulations that were established in a law passed during the Bush administration.
Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the phase-out was slated to commence in January 2012, which banned the sale of all 100-watt bulbs, as well as the sale of all 75-watt bulbs by July 2013. But a spending bill passed last December stalled the mandate until this October.
The tobacco industry has spent $47 million to defeat California’s Proposition 29, which would enact a new $1-a-pack cigarette tax, and its ad campaign is having a significant impact.
The Obama administration has come under fire after the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) hired a public relations firm to help restore the muddied reputation of the President’s controversial Affordable Care Act. The $20-million, taxpayer-funded contract was awarded to a PR firm called Porter Novelli, which helped launch the Agriculture Department’s renowned healthy food pyramid.