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What Congress did and didn’t do so far this year Published: July 15, 2016 7:27 AM EDT Updated: July 15, 2016 7:44 AM EDT Author: The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawmakers exited Washington for a seven-week recess with several major accomplishments to highlight for voters – the first overhaul of rules for asbestos and other dangerous chemicals in 40 years, a rescue package for cash-strapped Puerto Rico – and plenty of unfinished business.Partisanship and election-year politics prevented Congress from fulfilling President Barack Obama’s $1.9 billion emergency request to combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus, a plea made in February. Politics scuttled any legislation to tighten gun controls in the aftermath of the massacre in Orlando, Florida.The regular order that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pursued for the 12 annual spending bills was undermined by congressional dysfunction and the power of House conservatives to hamstring the leadership. In a failure for the two leaders, Congress likely will be forced to pass a massive spending bill in September just to keep the government operating weeks before the election.The House never did a budget, a major embarrassment for Ryan, who had served as chairman of the Budget committee.What lawmakers did and didn’t do:___DONE AND SIGNED INTO LAWToxic Substance: Republicans and Democrats agreed on the first overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act since it was approved in 1976. The law updates rules for tens of thousands of everyday chemicals, and sets safety standards for dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde, asbestos and styrene. The law also aims to standardize on the national level what is currently a jumble of state rules governing the $800 billion-per-year industry. Congress spent more than three years working on the legislation.Puerto Rico: The U.S. territory and its 3.5 million Americans struggling through a decade-long recession and facing $70 billion in debt. After months of negotiations, lawmakers backed a rescue package that creates a control board to oversee the U.S. territory’s finances and supervise some debt restructuring. The legislation would not provide any direct financial aid to the territory.BISON: The bison is the official mammal of the United States. Lawmakers called the bison – North America’s largest land animal – the embodiment of American strength and resilience and said it reflects the nation’s pioneer spirit. There had not been an official mammal of the United States.___DONE AND ALMOST LAWAVIATION: Days before a deadline, Congress wrapped up an aviation bill that attempts to close gaps in airport security and shorten screening lines. The bill also extends the Federal Aviation Administration’s programs for 14 months at current funding levels.DRUG ABUSE: Congress overwhelmingly backed a compromise bill aimed at curbing abuse of heroin and other drugs, a nationwide epidemic that kills more than 100 Americans every day. The legislation creates grants and other programs aimed at addressing drug abuse, especially heroin and opioids, a crippling problem that claims victims across racial, economic and geographic lines. Democrats had pressed for authorizing significant money in the legislation, but the measure does not.GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS: Congress on Thursday sent legislation to President Barack Obama that would require most food packages to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphone that indicates whether the food contains genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The Agriculture Department would have two years to write the rules.___ENTANGLED IN ELECTION-YEAR POLITICSZIKA: Abortion politics stalled a $1.1 billion bill to combat the Zika virus. Republicans angered Democrats by adding a provision that would block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from receiving money to fight the virus.SPENDING BILLS: Completing the spending bills is Congress’ basic responsibility. The House has done just five of the 12 spending measures. An effort by majority Republicans to revive the process in the Senate – which had languished under Democratic control – sputtered. The gridlock ensures that in September, Congress will have to pass a massive spending bill to keep the government open weeks before the election.GUN CONTROL: The massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, revived the call for gun control legislation. The Senate blocked a handful of bills to impose restrictions on those on the terror watch list. Republican leaders in the House couldn’t win over conservatives to move any legislation.SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Republicans refused to give Garland a hearing, let alone a vote, and insisted that the next president should make the court pick. Do you see a typo or an error? Let us know. SHARE
The much-predicted exodus of solicitors and firms from the legal profession has yet to materialise, new Solicitors Regulation Authority figures have revealed.The SRA’s regulated population update showed 3,189 fewer solicitors in March this year compared with the previous month.But the drop, caused largely by solicitors not renewing their practising certificates for 2014, is only marginally greater than the 2,977 decrease in solicitor numbers at the same stage last year.There are 127,423 practising solicitors in total – 2,231 more than in the aftermath of the 2013 renewal deadline.Earlier this month the SRA wrote to around 4,000 solicitors who had not renewed their PC before the designated deadline, with those who did eventually renew likely to face a rebuke from the regulator later this year.The number of firms has also shown a slight decrease – but not perhaps to the extent that some analysts predicted. By the end of February, 10,554 firms were practising in England and Wales – a reduction of 35 on the previous month.Over a longer term, the trend is for a gradual decline in firm numbers. There are now 273 fewer firms than this time a year ago and 677 fewer than in March 2012.In the three months up to November 2013 – the most recent date figures are available – 361 closed. But this is still less than the 381 that closed over the same period in 2012.A gradual increase in firms closing has largely been offset by an increase in new practices starting up.In the past year almost 1,000 firms have opened, compared with 831 in the previous 12 months. Of those firms that have closed in the past 12 months, 39% have ceased practising and 38.4% have merged or amalgamated.
The Ministry of Justice is under-reporting the problem of probate delays and over-estimating how satisfied people are with the application process, the Gazette has been told.Ian Bond, chair of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee, said that figures posted on Parliament’s website about the average wait for grants of probate were ‘disingenuous to say the least’. Bond: figures ‘disingenuous to say the least’ Edward Argar, parliamentary under secretary of state at the MoJ, referred to figures in a written answer showing the average wait time for grants in April, May and June to be two, six and nine weeks respectively.He wrote: ‘Some grants are experiencing delays of between four and six weeks outside of our targets as a result of significant increases in work during March and April and some technology issues which have now been resolved.’However, as stated on the webpage, the figures Argar uses do not include cases in which a grant is yet to be issued.The figures also do not account for the entire waiting process, according to Bond. He said: ‘The figures given are for the period from banking the payment to the legal manager approving the application. It doesn’t include the wait for the registrar to come to that registry to sign (or the application to be sent to another registry where the registrar will be). Nor does it include the time taken to print and send.’Due to a hologram that now appears on grants, documents often have to be sent to different registries to be printed, increasing solicitors’ wait time.Argar also said in his written answer that at the end of June 93% of users indicated they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the online application services for grants of probate. However, Argar does not mention paper applications, which significantly outnumber those made via computer.Bond said: ‘Online applications make up between 5-10% of applications – the responses from paper applicants are conspicuous by their absence.’He added: ‘With a backlog of an estimated 40,000 it is going to take a long time to get back to normal.’The MoJ notes on the webpage that the figures were ‘not subject to the rigorous quality assurance processes of official statistics’.
THIS MONTH may be decisive for the future of the three JR companies on Honshu. Following a government decision on December 7, the Diet is being asked to approve a bill authorising sale of the remaining government-held shares in the three companies – just 12·5% of East Japan Railway’s shares are state-owned, whereas in the case of Central Japan Railway the figure is 39·7% and of West Japan Railway 31·5%.Assuming that the bill is passed, the government will relinquish management control to the railways, although it is not clear how willing it is to accept that the companies could set their own fares and levels of service. Both are politically sensitive areas, and some form of regulation is almost certain to remain in place. No doubt line closures too would be subject to political approval.Yoshiyuki Kasai, President of JR Central, has in the past voiced much concern about the government moving to full privatisation. Among the problems to which he has drawn attention are the effective subsidy granted to the troubled JR Freight business, which struggles to compete against road and coastal shipping but pays very low access charges to the JR passenger companies for use of their tracks. Kasai also criticises the arrangements for the ’management stabilisation fund’ set up so as to keep the JR companies on the islands of Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushu in business, suggesting that this distorts the logic of the market. He has also addressed strong criticism at the way that the profitable Tokaido shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka effectively subsidises the shinkansen routes operated by JR West and JR East. Speaking to Railway Gazette International in Nagoya at the end of November, he suggested that if JR East and JR West agreed willingly to a full sell-off (without the problems being resolved), they would be either ’ignorant or irresponsible’.Kasai has suggested that JR Central would be better placed for full privatisation if its liabilities were reduced to a more manageable level, and there are indications that the government will address some, if not all, of his concerns. ’The problems will be solved before privatisation’, suggested one commentator at JR Central. n
CHILEAN state railway EFE was due to select last month a preferred bidder for a US$103m contract to upgrade and maintain signalling, electrification and telecommunications equipment under its 2003-05 investment programme (RG 10.04 p660). Work is to begin soon after contract signature in February 2005, and should take three years to complete.Bids have been submitted by Siemens and two consortia, one comprising Sice-Enyse and Cam and the second Abengoa and Telvet. Described by EFE General Manager Eduardo Castillo as ’one of the most important initiatives for the future of the company’, the first phase of the project includes the installation of optic fibre cabling, automatic signalling and automatic road signals at 30 level crossings on the Santiago – Chill
NEPAL: The Department of Railways expects to appoint consultants this month to undertake detailed studies for an electrified east-west railway in the central valley and a Kathmandu metro.Chungsuk Engineering, Scott Wilson and Systra have reportedly been shortlisted to prepare a detailed project report for the first phase of the east-west rail corridor, and 16 companies have expressed interest in designing the 136 km Bardibas – Simra – Birgunj section of the proposed Mechi – Mahakali line. The first stage would start from the Indian Railways broad-gauge railhead at Birgunj near Raxaul and head southeast towards Bardibas, just north of Janakpur which is currently served by Nepal’s only railway, a 760 mm gauge cross-border line from Jaynagar. An initial feasibility study for the complete 1 300 km east-west route was undertaken by Rites last year. This put the cost, including a branch from Pokhara to Kathmandu, at between Rs700bn and Rs800bn. Similarly, 16 companies have expressed interest in feasibility study for a 75 km metro network including a 27 km orbital line. After reducing the shortlist to six, DoR received tenders from four bidders: Chungsuk Engineering, Rites, Systra and Team Consulting Engineering & Management of Thailand. Bids were due to be opened on October 16, and DoR Director General Ram Kumar Lamsal told the Republica newspaper that he hoped to announce preferred bidders for both projects within two weeks.
Share 18 Views one comment Tweet Share Share General Secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union, Thomas Letang (file photo)General secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union, Thomas Letang wants the issue of unemployment to be dealt with at a national level. Mr Letang told an interview with Dominica Vibes that the recent trend in redundancies in Dominica is worrying. “I believe the time has come when this whole issue needs to become a national issue with all stakeholders being involved as to how we can move forward, I don’t think that the answer to the problems that we are experiencing as far as the economy is concerned are being addressed”. He indicated that the answers to people losing jobs, services being outsourced and employees being subject to less favorable working conditions, in some instances being denied benefits that would have been won on their behalf over those years, needs to be taken “more seriously”. He expressed disappointment that not enough is being done by the authorities to stabilize the economy with the creation of jobs for the youth. Mr Letang believes that the loss of jobs is having a negative impact on the country’s economy. “With all these things that are going on, I am a little concerned and somewhat worried that there is not any move on the part of the authorities to bring all stakeholders who may be able to contribute to some plan, some way forward to deal with the economy,” he noted. He further explained that if the issue is not addressed urgently, imposing new taxes on the population could be considered and this would be another major concern. “If something is not done sooner than later it’s going to worsen our situation and our economy will get to the point where the kind of sacrifice that we were asked to make about 12 years ago that may not be possible, we may have a repetition of that unless something is done to seriously address the situation,” he said. Recently 243 Clear Harbor employees were made redundant, 12 LIME employees were made redundant in March and another 30 are scheduled to be made redundant in November.Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced last month that negotiations are ongoing with another US call center which could employ about 500 Dominicans. The AID Bank also said that it is creating avenues for the employment of over three thousand (3000) citizens with the development of an Information Communication Technology (ICT) park in Canefield which entails the construction of suitable working office space to attract ICT based industries.Dominica Vibes News Sharing is caring! LocalNews Redundancies and unemployment worries Union by: – October 4, 2013
WorldSBK is about to get more interesting this year as HRC unveils the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP for their factory squad. Enveloped in HRC’s iconic tri-colour scheme, the race bikes were presented in Japan together with their star riders, Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam. HRC and their riders are up against quite a few high-profile riders, but they seemed to be very confident in what the 2020 Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP can do when placed into the hands of Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam. After ‘escaping’ the clutches of Ducati and Kawasaki, both riders are looking into redeeming themselves this season.According to Alvaro Bautista, “I’m very pleased to be part of what is such an important project for Honda and HRC. I see all the work that is going into it and feel very positive energy from everyone at the company and on the team. It’s a very important year for me too. We know that we face a big challenge and that we have a lot of work to do; we’re a new group that is growing together to reach the top as soon as possible. Our goal is to be strong and fast with the Honda, a very competitive bike that can undoubtedly achieve great results. I hope to have fun and entertain all our fans this season.”As for Leon Haslam, “It all feels so real now we’re here in Tokyo. We’re at the Honda HQ and the first races are just around the corner; it’s a dream come true. I am extremely excited and also a little nervous, because I really want to do well, and know we have the potential to do that. We’re ready to work hard and do our very best to achieve strong results. As for the first race, we’re at one of my favourite tracks, Phillip Island, where I’ve been successful in the past. We’ll have to see with regards to the competition of course, but I admit I’m really looking forward to the opening round.”They will also have to face the defending WorldSBK world champion, Jonathan Rea and his seemingly unstoppable Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR. Kawasaki is so confident with their rider-machine combo, they even approach Dorna to see if they can enter a MotoGP race as a wildcard entry. Yup, that happened.Then there’s also the British Superbike champion, Scott Redding, who seems to have an ultra-awesome chemistry with the Ducati Panigale V4 R. His dominance in BSB bumped him into WorldSBK where he looks not only into bringing some positive results for his team but also to challenge the current ‘King of WorldSBK’, Jonathan Rea.The first round of the WorldSBK 2020 season will begin at the end of the month (28 Feb – 1 Mar 2020) at Phillip Island for the Yamaha Finance Australian Round. The season opener will definitely be an epic occasion as we gauge who has the upper hand for the upcoming and long season ahead.MotoGP: Marc Marquez extends Honda contract until 2024!–Ads–
Related TopicsFiesta BowlNotre DameOhio State The Buckeyes will take on Notre Dame in the Battlefrog Fiesta Bowl on January 1st it was announced today. Ohio State wrapped up the year 11-1, and were the co-champs of the Big Ten East.Notre Dame was 10-2 in the Independent. The matchup was determined by the 13-member College Football Playoff Selection Committee, and will be played in Phoenix, AZ.Tickets to the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl and the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl Fan Fest Pregame Party are available for purchase by calling 480-350-0900 or visiting FiestaBowl.org. Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE. Matt Loede