Cabinet Secretaries and Obama Give Back 5% of Salaries to Help Federal Workers

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreAlong with President Obama, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano have decided to forgo portions of their salaries in solidarity with federal workers.Like Obama, they volunteered to give their money to help reduce the deficit, or to foundations that benefit federal workers adversely affected by sequester legislation, which forced automatic government spending cuts. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also decided to give back a portion of his salary.(READ the story from House PhotoAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMorelast_img

Americans paid less for gasoline in first quarter 2013

first_imgWith gasoline prices generally down recently as the “winter mix” is sold off in anticipation of the higher cost “summer mix,” consumers in the US saw gasoline prices steam to a record average price in February, but the motor fuel market cooled considerably in March. Contrary to public perception, average first quarter 2013 gas prices averaged below 2012 numbers, GasBuddy reported Wednesday. Meanwhile, Vermont gasoline prices are down for the week, the month and for the year, just as they are on average nationally.In fact, Americans paid about 30cts gal less for gasoline in the most recent Easter Weekend than they paid over the same period in 2012. Gas prices averaged just over $3.64 gal on Good Friday and may dip further in coming days. Consumers paid just over $3.93 gal on Easter Weekend last year. GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan estimates that each penny per gallon translates into about $3.6 million per day in cost differences based on typical demand numbers. Hence, consumers are saving about $108 million each day when current costs are compared to last year.The average first quarter 2013 price, compiled by GasBuddy, was $3.548 gal, compared with a $3.584 gal price level in the first quarter of 2012. As recently as 2009, the first quarter gasoline price averaged under $1.90 gal, so these are still stiff numbers when compared with 21st century historical values. Ten years ago, U.S. gasoline prices averaged under $1.59 gal for the same period.GasBuddy ranked 363 distinct ‘ Metropolitan Statistical Areas’ or MSAs, and found two U.S. markets that actually averaged less than $3 gal during the entire first quarter. Fortunate motorists in Casper and Cheyenne, Wyoming found an average first quarter 2013 price of $2.87 gal and $2.955 gal, respectively, down about 16cts gal from last year. The Rocky Mountain region was the most attractively priced area of the country, thanks in part to relatively cheap North American crude availability for refiners.In all, 300 Metropolitan Statistical Areas saw cheaper first quarter prices for gasoline than in 2012, with two MSAs showing no statistically significant change. More expensive markets in 2013 included locations in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The most expensive market in the country was the Honolulu area, but the outright price of $4.157 gal this year was just 3cts gal above the 2012 number.Highest prices were generally witnessed along the New England coastline as well as Florida, California and the Pacific Northwest and the cheapest prices were in the Rockies and Great Plains.Diversity in gasoline pricing approached record levels. GasBuddy estimates that a discriminating shopper could save an average $1.13 per gallon in Washington, DC, for example. Other markets that saw huge differences between best prices and the top of the market included California, where motorists could slash costs between 50cts/gal to as much as $1.00/gal if they fueled based on the cheapest price available.Despite the recent downtrend, GasBuddy is reluctant to say that motorists have seen the peak pricing level for gasoline in 2013. Hot spots which could see local gasoline price spikes include Great Lakes’ states and Northeastern metropolitan areas, for example. Prices could swing dramatically in the heartland thanks to extensive spring maintenance for Midwestern refineries, and the East Coast could be impacted by sagging foreign imports of is external)last_img read more

Vistancia records highest new home sales since 2008

first_imgMirroring a national real estate trend, Vistancia has experienced the highest first two quarters in new home sales activity since 2008, achieving 271 net sales at mid-year among the master plan’s three actively selling communities – The Village at Vistancia, a family-friendly multi-generation community; Blackstone at Vistancia, a gated luxury golf course community featuring the only private golf course in the Northwest Valley – Blackstone Country Club; and Trilogy at Vistancia, an active adult resort community.According to RCLCO’s national survey at mid-year, Vistancia ranked number 11 among the top-selling master planned communities in the United States and achieved the highest growth rate, up 171 percent from the same period last year. National factors such as strong job growth, lower interest rates and rising rental costs continue to spur new home sales across the country reaching 2008 levels.Vistancia attributes its sales success to an increase in new home builder inventory totaling more than 75 floorplan options, the grand opening of Trilogy at Vistancia’s active adult community’s 360-acre expansion in January and the master plan’s diverse range of new home pricing  with options from the high $100s to $500s. In total, The Village at Vistancia accounts for 52 percent of new home sales, Trilogy at Vistancia at 37 percent, and Blackstone at Vistancia achieved 11 percent of the master plan’s recorded mid-year sales.Vistancia has also seen a 24 percent increase in new home buyer visitors to the Vistancia Information Center year over year.  “Vistancia has a diverse range of home styles available to homebuyers that offers nearly something for every type of family. That, along with Vistancia’s location set alongside the new Loop 303 and our rich selection of amenities immersed in the natural Sonoran Desert is driving an increase in demand for new homes at our community,” said Mark Hammons, vice president/general manager of Vistancia.The West Valley is also home to the region’s newest freeway, Loop 303, serving as a growth magnet and decreasing drive time for commuting and entertainment in other areas of Phoenix.Vistancia’s private golf course community, Blackstone at Vistancia, has also observed an increased interest in its selection of custom homesite inventory. Only 10 custom homesites remain of its 62 custom lot inventory, ranging from $160,000 to $350,000, with five sold during the past year. Three custom homes are currently under construction with another four homes in design review.Vistancia’s premier collection of new home builders include Ashton Woods, Gehan Homes, Mattamy Homes, Meritage Homes, Ryland Homes, Shea Homes, Toll Brothers, T.W. Lewis by David Weekley Homes and Woodside Homes, offering homes ranging from 1,473 to 4,762 square feet. Additional home plans coming soon include Ashton Woods with two new floorplans, Mattamy Homes offering a new loft plan, and Toll Brothers introducing two new single-story designs. In addition, T.W. Lewis by David Weekley Homes will break ground on a new Fairways luxury neighborhood in Blackstone at Vistancia.last_img read more

Probing Brain’s Depth, Trying to Aid Memory

first_imgThe New York Times:The man in the hospital bed was playing video games on a laptop, absorbed and relaxed despite the bustle of scientists on all sides and the electrodes threaded through his skull and deep into his brain.“O.K., that’s enough,” he told doctors after more than an hour. “All those memory tests, it’s exhausting.”The man, Ralph, a health care worker who asked that his last name be omitted for privacy, has severe epilepsy; and the operation to find the source of his seizures had provided researchers an exquisite opportunity to study the biology of memory.The Department of Defense on Tuesday announced a $40 million investment in what has become the fastest-moving branch of neuroscience: direct brain recording. Two centers, one at the University of Pennsylvania and the other at the University of California, Los Angeles, won contracts to develop brain implants for memory deficits.Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain.Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

I Talked to Strangers for a Week, and It Did Not Go Well

first_imgNew York Magazine:Recently, Matthew Hutson argued in a Science of Us piece that New Yorkers might be happier if we engaged in a little more small talk. That story cited a new study in which some Chicago commuters were told to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to them on the train; they later reported enjoying their commute more than the people who’d been told to sit in silence for the ride.It’s a nice idea, I thought while reading the post — a very nice idea. At the same time: Who would actually do that?…I’m not usually an overly shy person or anything, but this whole thing has me overthinking things a little. At work, I email Nicholas Epley, the University of Chicago psychologist who led the small-talk study I am meaning to emulate. I tell him about my project, and in desperation ask him if he provided his subjects with any go-to icebreakers.“We didn’t give anyone any instructions about this,” he wrote back. “I wouldn’t bother trying to plan an opening line. When you sit down next to someone, the mood will strike you and something worth commenting on will not be as hard to find, I predict, as you imagine. They’ll be reading a book. You can ask them if they like it. They’ll be on the train with you. You can ask them if they’ve been riding it for long. They’ll yawn, and you can make a little joke about having a rough night, too.“Above all, just be nice.”Well. I can do that.Read the whole story: New York Magazine More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

NEWS SCAN: Cell-based flu vaccine trial, Salmonella risk in sesame seeds

first_imgMar 15, 2010Baxter reports good results in phase 3 trial of cell-based flu vaccineBaxter International Inc. and Dynport Vaccine Co. recently reported good results in a large phase 3 trial of Preflucel, a cell-based influenza vaccine. The study showed a 78% protection rate against culture-confirmed infections with the flu strains in the vaccine and 71% protection from all circulating flu strains, the companies reported in a news release. The trial involved more than 7,000 young adults and was conducted during the 2008-09 flu season in the United States; data were presented at the International Congress on Infectious Disease in Miami on Mar 11. Investigators also assessed antibody responses and found that the results satisfied the immunogenicity criteria of the European Medicines Agency, the companies said. The vaccine’s safety profile was found to be similar to that of licensed egg-based flu vaccines. The vaccine is grown in Vero cell cultures and is formulated without preservatives or adjuvants. No cell-based flu vaccine has yet been licensed in the United States, though such vaccines have been approved in Europe. The trial was funded by the US government.Mar 11 Baxter news releaseSalmonella contamination prompts sesame seed recallConcern about possible Salmonella contamination prompted a California company on Mar 13 to recall sesame seeds that it had distributed in late 2009, though the firm said it had not received any illness reports, according to a notice from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The recall from Spice Industrial Group Inc. applies to 5-pound bags of Lian How brand white sesame seeds that were distributed to retail, restaurant, and wholesale customers in Southern California between Nov 5 and Dec 11. The company said its supplier of the sesame seeds, Specialty Commodities Corp., notified it about the possible contamination. The sesame seed recall adds to a growing list of Salmonella contamination events that have spurred food recalls so far this year. Contaminated red and black pepper has led to the recall of salami and sausage products from Daniele International Inc., as well as the pepper products themselves. This constellation of contaminated products is linked to an outbreak that has sickened 249 patients in 44 states. Earlier this month, Basic Food Flavors Inc., Las Vegas, recalled hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) because of Salmonella contamination, which has led to dozens of recalls of foods containing HVP. However, no illnesses have been reported in connection with the HVP recalls.Mar 13 FDA statementlast_img read more

Flu Scan for May 01, 2018

first_imgNew review finds flu infects 1 in 5 unvaccinated kids, 1 in 10 adultsAn updated analysis of the seasonal flu attack rate in unvaccinated people found that the virus infects 1 in 5 children each year and 1 in 10 adults, with symptomatic illness seen in about half of the infections. A team from Australia and New Zealand reported its findings yesterday in Vaccine.The investigators noted that there’s a lot of uncertainly and lack of data to guide estimates on the annual flu attack rate, which makes it difficult to plan vaccination programs and gauge the impact of future interventions. For their new analysis, they looked at 32 randomized, controlled vaccine trials containing 13,329 participants that reported on lab-confirmed flu in the placebo groups. Six were conducted before 2000, 3 covered the 2009 H1N1 pandemic period but only reported on rates for seasonal flu, and 8 reported on multiple flu seasons.Overall, rates of symptomatic infection were highest in children (12.7%), followed by the elderly (7.2%) and all adults (4.4%). For both symptomatic and asymptomatic flu combined, the attack rates were 22.5% for children and 10.7% for adults. Older people had similar rates of symptomatic and asymptomatic infection.The team found large variability among the studies, such as symptomatic attack rates in kids that varied from 5.3% to 29.8%. They also found differences in studies conducted before and after 2000, with attack rates for symptomatic flu lower in the more recent studies, which they said might reflect a real decline in attack rates, perhaps to changes in population immunity, improved prevention, or changes in testing.The authors concluded that the estimates will allow more accurate modeling of flu prevention tactics, and they added that future studies might someday include high-quality observational studies that allow researchers to assess attack rates for different vaccination levels.Apr 30 Vaccine abstract Study finds no evidence of asthma long-term after nasal spray flu vaccineKaiser Permanente researchers found no evidence of increased risk of subsequent asthma diagnosis years later among children younger than 3 years of age who received live attenuated influenza vaccines, according to a study today in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.The researchers write, “Live-attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs) are not licensed in children younger than 2 years of age because of a wheezing safety signal that has not been fully elucidated.” LAIV is administered as a nasal spray.In 2000, Kaiser Permanente scientists conducted a placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial of LAIV in children. Because many of these children were still enrolled in Kaiser Permanente in 2014, the researchers involved in today’s study could assess the long-term association between LAIV and asthma.The team identified 1,151 children who were 12 to 35 months old at the time of the first study and had received two LAIV doses or a placebo. Of these, 767 were still Kaiser Permanents patients and were enrolled in the new study, and the investigators found no evidence of an increase in asthma diagnosis among those who had received LAIV at an early age.May Pediatr Infect Dis J studylast_img read more

Bollinger Shipyards Delivers Eighth FRC to USCG

first_imgBollinger Shipyards, Inc. has delivered the CHARLES SEXTON, the eighth Fast Response Cutter (FRC) to the United States Coast Guard.The announcement was made by Bollinger President, Chris Bollinger, “We are very pleased to announce another successful on-time and on-budget FRC delivery to the U.S. Coast Guard. The CHARLES SEXTON was delivered to the 7th Coast Guard District in Key West, FL, and will be stationed at USCG Sector Key West. We are all looking forward to the vessel’s upcoming commissioning, as well as honoring and celebrating the heroic acts of Charles Sexton.”The 154 foot patrol craft CHARLES SEXTON is the eighth vessel in the Coast Guard’s Sentinel-class FRC program. To build the FRC, Bollinger Shipyards used a proven, in-service parent craft design based on the Damen Stan Patrol Boat 4708. It has a flank speed of 28 knots, state of the art command, control, communications and computer technology, and a stern launch system for the vessels 26 foot cutter boat. The FRC has been described as an operational “game changer,” by senior Coast Guard officials.The Coast Guard took delivery on December 10, 2013 in Key West, Florida and is scheduled to commission the vessel in Key West, Florida during March of 2014.Each FRC is named for an enlisted Coast Guard hero who distinguished him or herself in the line of duty. This vessel is named after Coast Guard Hero, Petty Officer Charles W. Sexton, who was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal for extraordinary heroism.Sexton exhibited courage and devotion to save others in the face of grave danger. Petty Officer Sexton was on duty at Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment, Washington on January 11, 1991 as the fishing vessel SEA KING, a 75’ trawler, was taking on water four miles NW of the Columbia River bar. Four fishermen were aboard and the decks were awash, the engine room was filling up with water. After stabilizing an injured crewmember on board, Sexton focused on dewatering the vessel. The SEA KING was so flooded that it required several pumps to remove the seawater from the engine room. After more than six exhaustive hours of Sexton manning the pumps, the SEA KING rolled over without warning and threw its passengers into the agitated seas. Sexton, along with two fishermen, was trapped in the enclosed pilothouse. He and the two fishermen went down with the vessel.[mappress]Bollinger Shipyards, December 11, 2013last_img read more

Norwegian gas gets new terminal in Germany

first_imgNorway’s Gassco has informed that a new facility in Germany for receiving gas exports from Norway was officially inaugurated in Emden, Germany on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. This facility replaces the existing Norsea Gas Terminal (NGT) which became operational in 1977 in connection with the development of ConocoPhillips-operated Ekofisk field located in the North Sea, offshore Norway.Gassco stated that, while the project has not increased export capacity for Norwegian gas, the new terminal’s functionality would be well tailored to meet future demand for processing gas from the Ekofisk area and other parts of the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).The inauguration ceremony was performed by Elisabeth Aspaker, Norway’s minister for EEA and EU affairs, with representatives of the German federal and Lower Saxony state governments.“This is an important milestone in a very good and long-term energy collaboration between Norway and Germany,” says Frode Leversund, CEO of Gassco.“The new terminal ensures gas supplies to Germany for many decades to come and strengthens Norway’s role as a key energy supplier to the European market.”It receives a substantial proportion of the Norwegian gas delivered to Germany through the Norpipe pipeline. “Construction of the new Emden terminal has been one of the most important assignments we at Gassco have ever undertaken as operator,” observes Leversund.The Gassled joint venture took the investment decision in the autumn of 2012. The new terminal has been constructed on an unused part of the existing terminal site. Physical work began in the autumn of 2013 after the contract to build the facility had been awarded to Linde Engineering Dresden GmbH.last_img read more