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Sep 27, 2010

MarketWatch : Personal Finance Daily.- Mortgage-rate party is for an exclusive club. Sept. 27th., 2010


MarketWatch

Personal Finance Daily
SEPTEMBER 27, 2010

Monday's Personal Finance stories

Don't miss these top stories:


By MarketWatch



How low can mortgage rates go? This summer, they broke through a number of record lows, and the average rate on a 30-year-fixed loan has dropped a full percentage point since the official end of the recession in June 2009. Right now, the average rate on those loans is 4.37%, and experts say rates are likely to fall even further, given that the economy seems to be on pause.

As MarketWatch's Amy Hoak notes in her Home Economics column, rates won't go to zero, but they could get mighty close.

Plus, read our TaxWatch column to find out what the new Small Business Jobs and Credit Act means for business owners nationwide. (From a tax perspective, it's good and bad.)

If the 30-year fixed rate gets down into the 3% range, you'd think that would push quite a few more people into the refinancing market, if they have the equity and credit score to swing it. But I guess that's a big "if" these days. The sad fact is that not enough people can afford admittance to the low-mortgage-rate party.
.

Andrea Coombes , Personal Finance editor

Don't miss these reports from MarketWatch:

If mortgage rates plunged to 0%

What Southwest-AirTran deal means for travelers

New tax breaks for small businesses

Lessons from Morningstar's ETF conference

 Don't make these investing mistakes


If mortgage rates plunged to 0%

Imagine financing a home purchase with a no-interest mortgage. You'd probably never want to move again.

Read more on if mortgage rates plunged to 0%.

TRAVEL

What Southwest-AirTran deal means for travelers

Airline customers can breathe a sigh of relief — for now — that the so-called Southwest Effect is about to get stronger once the discount carrier closes its $1.4 billion purchase of AirTran Airways.

Read more on what the Southwest-AirTran deal means for travelers.

TAXES

New tax breaks for small businesses

The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act is about to be signed into law. New high-level, expensive government posts have been created. There's money for Small Business Administration loans and state governments and a few new tax provisions — including the good, the bad and the downright sneaky.

Read more on new tax breaks for small businesses.

Congress delays tax plans, but you shouldn't

U.S. senators said they will delay until after the November elections voting on what to do about the Bush-era tax cuts. But some tax experts say the uncertainty about 2011 tax law shouldn't lull you into delaying your own tax planning.

Read about how Congress delays tax plans, but you shouldn't, in this month's Taxing Times free e-newsletter.

Lawmakers spar on tax policy, vote timing

Democrats shouldn't postpone a vote on extending tax cuts for high-income Americans, U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner said Sunday. One Democratic congressional leader contends the issue may be resolved before voters go to the polls in November.

Read more on lawmakers' spar about tax-policy vote timing

CARS

2010 Porsche Panamera: Driving big

Let's clear something up right from the start: It may have four doors, but the Panamera is all Porsche when it comes to power and handling.

Read more about the 2010 Porsche Panamera: Driving big.

INVESTING

Commentary: Lessons from the Morningstar ETF conference

If an investment expert says something important, funny or clever in a forum where no one reports it, does it make a sound?

Read more on lessons from the Morningstar ETF conference.

Don't make these investing mistakes

Are you confusing diversification for asset allocation? Forgetting to rebalance? MarketWatch's Andrea Coombes shares some common investing mistakes people make.

 Watch video on common investing mistakes.

Commentary: This bank stock deserves no credit

BB&T Corp. (BBT) , a North Carolina-based regional banking firm, has consistently paid its dividend for more than a century, sports a projected yield of more than 2.5% and has takeover prospects that might help the stock bounce off the lows of its recent trading range.

Read more on this bank stock.

Commentary: Investors should beware the bolt-on deal

It's another strong merger Monday, and that may be good for investors speculating on targets, but if your company is the one doing the buying, beware.

Read MarketWatch First Take about the risks of Southwest's move

Commentary: In erratic market, boring works

Boring works in this erratic market — and sometimes it's exciting.

Read more about how, in erratic market, boring works

U.S. market looks to best September in decades

The U.S. stock market is likely to notch its best September in more than half a century in the days ahead, provided its recent surge is not derailed by lingering doubts about the recovery.

Read more on U.S. market looks to best September in decades.

CONSUMERS

Commentary: Wal-Mart's next step in world domination

The retail giant has offered to buy South Africa-based Massmart, marking Wal-Mart's (WMT)  next step toward world domination.

Read more on Wal-Mart's reach into international markets.

ECONOMY & POLITICS

A double dip may be ahead, Kaufman says

When the world's top bankers, economists and analysts are talked about, one name that quickly rises to the top is that of Dr. Henry Kaufman, an economist and veteran Wall Streeter who has spent decades analyzing global economies for governments, banks and corporate offices. He also has one of the best records around for forecasting the future state of the economies of nations.

Read more on a possible double dip ahead.

After soft patch, economy still stuck in rut

The U.S. recession evidently ended two summers ago, but the millions of Americans still out of work don't want to hear it.

Read more on the economy's ongoing troubles.

Commentary: The biggest losers of the financial crisis

The financial crisis that reached its most critical phase two years ago with the fall of Lehman Brothers had some big winners — in Asia, Latin America and Scandinavia.

Read more on the biggest losers of the financial crisis.

Two more banks fail; U.S. tally at 127

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced two bank closures on Friday, brining the U.S. tally this year to 127.


China raises antidumping duties on U.S. chicken

China's Commerce Ministry has decided to increase an antidumping duty on U.S. chicken products, months after the punitive measures were first introduced, in a sign of continuing trade frictions between the two economic superpowers.


China tightens rules on land

China unveiled new rules to prevent land hoarding and to bolster supplies of public housing, according to reports Monday.

Read more on China's tighter rules on land.

Obama infrastructure plan draws Europe interest

President Barack Obama's $50 billion infrastructure plan has drawn interest from European companies hoping to export their expertise, the top European Commission transport official said Monday.

Read more on European interest in Obama's infrastructure plan.

HEALTH CARE

Commentary: Our genetically modified dinner table

A genetically modified fish is creating a big debate about how much we should or shouldn't alter nature. It's too late; nature is man-made.

Read more on our genetically modified dinner table

Maria Bartiromo's Investor Brief - This Week on the Street. Sept. 27th., 2010

Maria Bartiromo's Investor Brief

This Week On The Street

September 27, 2010
You’ve probably heard the old Wall Street saying that the market is “climbing a wall of worry” when stocks go up in the face of concerns. That seems to be an accurate description of the third quarter we wrap up this week.
As of today’s close, the S&P 500 is 11% higher than where it ended the second quarter. A good chunk of that has come this month, which, so far, has been by some measures the best September for stocks since 1939.
Right now the wall of worry is steep and firm: an anemic recovery, persistently high unemployment, threats of deflation and/or a double-dip recession, Europe’s debt crisis (which we’ll talk more about below), not to mention U.S. mid-term elections in just six weeks that could alter the balance of power in Washington.
You may want to fasten your seat belts on Friday morning as the fourth quarter kicks off. I think it's going to be a fascinating and busy finish to the year, and I look forward to following it with you and helping you make sense out of the various developments.
Maria's signature



BartiromoNewsLetter092410

CNBC EVENING BRIEF : RIM Unveils 'PlayBook' Device In Challenge to Apple's iPad. Sept. 27th., 2010



LATEST STORIES


»click here to see the latest top stories from CNBC.com
CNBC Originals
CNBC 360 Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage
One man’s trash has become another man’s multibillion-dollar treasure. Join Carl Quintanilla as he sifts through the garbage industry to discover where the money is made, who’s making it, and how trash amounts to a $52-billion industry. Go inside for an in-depth look at where our garbage goes once we throw it away. Premieres Wednesday at 9:00 PM ET/PT
»Web Extra: See what happens to a water bottle once you throw it away


LATEST VIDEO

»click here to see the latest top video from CNBC.com

RTTNews : Evening Market Wrap.- Stocks Close Lower Following Late-Day Weakness - U.S. Commentary. Sept. 27th., 2010

Evening Market WrapMon Sep 27 17:01 2010   

Commentary

Sep 27, 2010 Stocks Close Lower Following Late-Day Weakness - U.S. Commentary Stocks saw moderate weakness to open the week on Monday, as the lack of significant economic reports led to some profit taking following last week's strong gains. Nonetheless, movement was subdued ahead of a number of key economic reports due out later this week. Full Article

Corporate News

Sep 27, 2010 Unilever To Buy Alberto-Culver For $3.7 Bln Cash - Update Anglo-Dutch consumer products maker Unilever plc (UL, ULVR.L) Monday announced a definitive deal to acquire US-based Alberto-Culver Co. (ACV) for US$3.7 billion in cash. Unilever expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings per share in the first full year, excluding restructuring costs, and to deliver significant synergies. Full Article

Forex Commentary

Sep 27, 2010 Dollar Takes Breather After Recent Pounding The dollar failed to mount a challenge versus other currencies on Monday, amid growing speculation that the Federal Reserve is about to further ease monetary policy. The central bank may take up arms against a possible double-dip recession with one of the few quivers left in its bag -- another round of asset purchases. Full Article

Forex Top Story

Sep 27, 2010 HgCapital To Sell 63.5% Stake In Visma To KKR For $1.9 Bln - Update Investment trust HgCapital Trust plc (HGT.L) said its private equity investment arm HgCapital is selling 63.5% of its stake in Noway-based software services provider Visma Holding to buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) for an enterprise value of GBP 1.2 billion or about $1.9 billion. Full Article

Mergers

Sep 27, 2010 Southwest Airlines To Acquire AirTran For $1.37 Bln - Update Low cost carrier Southwest Airlines (LUV) announced Monday a definitive agreement to buy AirTran Holdings, Inc. (AAI), the parent of AirTran Airways, in a cash and stock deal for $7.69 per share, totaling about $1.37 billion, including AirTran's outstanding convertible notes. Including the existing AirTran net indebtedness and capitalized aircraft operating leases, the deal value is about $3.4 billion. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 TransDigm To Acquire McKechnie Aerospace For $1.27 Bln In Cash - Update Aircraft components producer TransDigm Group Inc. (TDG) Monday revealed a definitive agreement to purchase McKechnie Aerospace Holdings Inc., a privately-owned supplier of aerospace products, for about $1.27 billion in cash on a cash free, debt free basis. Full Article

Political News

Sep 27, 2010 Russia, China Sign Strategic Deals As Major Oil Pipeline Set To Pump Oil Russia and China have signed several key agreements on the strengthening of partnership with focus on enhanced cooperation in the energy sector. The deals and announcements made during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's tour of China reflected a significant development that the two countries are getting closer on political and economic fronts. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Poll Shows Just 38% Think Obama Deserves Re-ElectionWhile the next presidential election is more than two years away, the results of a Politico/George Washington University Battleground poll released on Monday may raise some concerns about President Barack Obama's ability to get re-elected in 2012. The poll showed that just 38 percent of likely voters think Obama has performed his job as President well enough to deserve re-election. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Poll Shows Republican Ranks Becoming Increasingly ConservativeAs reflected by the conservative Tear Party's success in recent Republican primaries, the results of a Gallup poll released on Monday showed that conservatives dominate the GOP, with seven in ten Republicans describing themselves as either "conservative" or "very conservative." Full Article

NYT : Afternoon Business News: Critics Say India's Spy Plan Deters Businesses. Sept. 27th., 2010







BUSINESS:


Critics Say India's Spy Plan Deters Businesses

By VIKAS BAJAJ and IAN AUSTEN
India's effort to gain access to services like BlackBerry and Skype may hurt its goal of attracting foreign companies.

Wal-Mart Plans to Enter African Market

By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
The discount retail giant has offered $4.25 billion for Massmart in a deal would give it an opening to expand in Africa.

Claims by Pom Juice Called Deceptive

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Federal Trade Commission said it found no science to support claims that the products treat or prevent diseases.
Itineraries

Cornered: Therapists on Airplanes

By LIZ GALST
Should they give advice? Should they lie about what they do? There's no way for them to say, "Our time's up."

Unilever to Buy U.S. Beauty Products Company

By CHRIS V. NICHOLSON
Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company, said Monday that it had agreed to buy Alberto Culver for $3.7 billion.

F & F I N : Reuters Daily Investor Update: Wall Street slips as investors pause after 4-week rally. Sept.27th., 2010







Wall Street slips as investors pause after 4-week rally
U.S. bank regulators delay 'too big to fail' reform
Judge refuses to dismiss AIG lawsuit
Obama signs small business bill into law
Southwest eyes AirTran to attack East Coast markets
NBC Universal launches $5.1 billion debt in 4-part sale
Stock "flash crash" sparked by heavy orders, sales: Nanex
Potash Corp suit vs BHP allowed to proceed
U.S. approves Coca-Cola's buy of big bottler
Unilever aims for big hair day with Alberto buy

The Washington Post Afternoon Edition: Today's 10 Most read Articles. Sept. 27th., 2010




Most Viewed Articles on washingtonpost.com

1) Woodward excerpts: Military thwarted president seeking choice in Afghanistan

The first of three articles adapted from "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward.

2) Obama blasts 'irresponsible' GOP policies

With the midterm elections approaching, President Obama lashed out Monday at what he called the "irresponsible policies" of Republican leaders and said he welcomes a national debate over their proposals.

3) For the NFL's worst, it always gets better when they play the Redskins

ST. LOUIS If Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb had any doubts about what they were getting into, now they know.

4) Obama: D.C. schools don't measure up to his daughters' private school

President Obama tells NBC interviewer that schools must improve for the nation to compete in the global economy.

5) D.C. police try to unravel mystery of man found dead in car trunk

The "unidentified decedent," reposing in the D.C. morgue since mid-summer, is stored one floor down from street level. The remains, a skeleton and not much else, are zipped in a body bag on a sliding metal shelf in a room chilled to 36 degrees, behind a door like the kind on a meat locker.

6) Jets beat Dolphins Chiefs and Steelers go to 3-0

-- Braylon Edwards bounced back from his benching by helping the New York Jets knock the Miami Dolphins from the ranks of the unbeaten.

7) The GOP's Achilles region

It will be hard for Republicans to take the House if they don't break the Democrats' power in the Northeast.

8) Be a fearless leader

Question of the day: Why do presidents give the White House keys to Bob Woodward?

9) Walking away with less

A new wave of distressed home sales is rippling, more quietly this time, through American cities and suburbs.

10) Colleges' newest dorm dwellers: professors

A growing number of colleges are placing professors and their families in residence halls. It's a practice borrowed from the early days of academia that has grown in popularity in recent years, especially at large urban universities looking to create a more personal, small-campus feel.

F & F I N : Deals Fail to Wake Bulls Deals Fails to Wake Bulls - Fox Business . Sept. 27., 2010






Southwest Planes 276
Southwest Buys AirTran The $1.4 billion deal values the Orlando-based company at $7.69 a share, a 69% premium from Friday's closing price.| WATCH



FOX Business: THE POWER TO PROSPER

Watch: FOXBusiness.com LIVE

LIVE Recession Victims: We take a look at how the economy has changed various industries.

Deals Fail to Wake Bulls

Wall Street gave back a slice of its September surge as stocks failed to rally on merger news.

AIG, U.S. Working on Bailout Exit

The bailed-out insurer is working on a deal on how Treasury would exit its investments.

Unilever Buys Alberto Culver for $3.7B

The all-cash deal makes Unilever the world's number one seller of hair conditioning products.

JPMorgan: Top Bank for Underwriting

Thanks to nervous investors, global stock underwriting proceeds dropped 9% so far this year.

RTTNews : Morning Market Briefing: Stocks Poised To Start Week With Modest Gains- U.S. Commentary . Sept. 27th., 2010

Morning Market Briefing Mon Sep 27 09:01 2010 

Commentary

Sep 27, 2010 Stocks Poised To Start Week With Modest Gains- U.S. Commentary Stocks are on pace to open the week modestly higher on Monday, as the markets are focusing on yet another pickup in merger and acquisition activity on a day with no first-tier economic data. The major index futures are all in positive territory, with the Dow futures up by 13 points. Full Article

Economic News

Sep 27, 2010 U.K. House Prices Continue To Fall House prices in England and Wales dropped for the third straight month in September, the results of a survey showed on Monday. The fall was due to supply continuing to outstrip demand. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Bank Of Japan 'To Pay Close Attention' To Currency Markets Bank of Japan Governor Maasaki Shirakawa on Monday said the central bank "will pay close attention" to developments in currency markets and their impact on exporting firms. The comments came on a day in which official figures showed that exports slowed for the sixth straight month. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Fed's Deflation Worries Leave Scope For Quantitative EasingThe surge in gold prices is reflecting expectations that we may not be far away from another round of quantitative easing. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Eurozone Private Sector Credit, Money Supply Growth AccelerateLoans to Eurozone firms and households increased in August at the fastest pace since June 2009 and the growth in broad money supply improved more than expected. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Japan August Visible Trade Surplus At JPY103.2 BlnJapan had a merchandise trade surplus of 103.221 billion yen in August, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday - down 37.5 percent on year from 165.218 billion yen in August 2009. Full Article

Corporate News

Sep 27, 2010 Southwest Airlines to buy AirTran for $1.37 blnMonday, Southwest Airlines (LUV) said it agreed to buy AirTran Holdings, Inc. (AAI), the parent of AirTran Airways, in a $1.37 billion cash and stock deal. Including the existing AirTran net indebtedness and capitalized aircraft operating leases, the deal value is about $3.4 billion. The company expects the $7.69-per-share transaction to close by the first half of 2011. Full Article
Sep 27, 2010 Unilever to buy Alberto-Culver for $3.7 bln cashMonday, Unilever plc (UL) said it agreed to acquire Alberto-Culver Co. (ACV) for US$3.7 billion in cash. The company expects the purchase to be accretive to its adjusted earnings in the first full year. Full Article

Broker Ratings Changes

Sep 27, 2010 FBR Capital Markets Ups Franklin Resources Inc. (BEN) To Outperform From Market Perform With $127 Up From $105 Price Target

Todays WS Events

Sep 27, 2010 Procter & Gamble's A New Vision For Sustainability; Webcast At 11:00 AM ET Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) will host a conference for its New Vision for Sustainability. The event is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM ET, September 27, 2010. For webcast, log on to www.pginvestor.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=104574&p=irol-EventDetails&EventId=3362168
Sep 27, 2010 FedEx Shareowners Meeting At 11:00 AM ET FedEx Corporation (FDX) will host its Shareowners meeting at 3670 Hacks Cross Road, Building G, Memphis, TN. The event is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM ET, September 27, 2010. To access the webcast, log on at http://ir.fedex.com/events.cfm
Sep 27, 2010 General Mills Annual Shareholders Meeting At 12:00 PM ET General Mills Inc. (GIS) will host a 2010 Annual Shareholders Meeting. The event is scheduled to begin at 12:00 PM ET on September 27, 2010. To access the live webcast, log on at http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=74271&p=irol-EventDetails&EventId=3073681
Sep 27, 2010 Symantec's Educational Overview Of Its Business And User Authentication Businesses; Webcast At 2:00 Symantec Corporation (SYMC) will host a conference to provide an Educational Overview of its Business and User Authentication Businesses. The event is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM ET, September 27, 2010. For an audio webcast, log on at http://investor.symantec.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=89422&p=irol-EventDetails&EventId=3377675
Sep 27, 2010 Southwest Airlines Investor Conference Call At 8:30 AM ET Southwest Airlines Inc (LUV) will host an Investor conference call at 8:30 AM ET, September 27, 2010 to discuss the strategic acquisition of AirTran with the analyst and investor community. To access the live webcast, log on at www.southwest.com/investor_relations

U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces More NTSB Recommendations Completed in 2010... Sept.. 27th., 2010

DOT 179-10
Monday, September 27, 2010
Contact:  Olivia Alair                                     
Tel:  202-366-4570
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces More NTSB Recommendations Completed in 2010 Than in Last Five Years
Secretary LaHood affirms safety will remain the DOT’s top priority

Washington, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that, in keeping with his commitment to make safety the top priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. DOT has already completed more NTSB safety recommendations in 2010 than in any of the last five years. Over the last eighteen months, the Department has set an aggressive safety agenda, proactively taking on a number of critical safety issues, including distracted driving, pilot fatigue, and transit safety, as well as holding automakers accountable for vehicle defects.

When investigating transportation incidents, the NTSB often issues safety recommendations to the Department of Transportation. In the first nine months of 2010, the Department of Transportation completed 92 recommendations, compared with 60 in 2009, 60 in 2008, 40 in 2007, 50 in 2006, and 70 in 2005. Of the recommendations that remain open, more than 80 percent are either currently being considered by the NTSB or have been deemed acceptable pending final action.

“It's no accident that our roads, rails, and skies are safer than ever for travelers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “From the outset, safety has been my number one priority at the Department of Transportation. And every day, tens of thousands of dedicated safety professionals at DOT are working to make transportation even safer.”

Since President Obama appointed Secretary LaHood to lead the Transportation Department last year, Secretary LaHood has made safety the agency’s top priority across all modes of transportation. Secretary LaHood reorganized the Department so that safety issues would be more effectively addressed across the Department's 10 operating administrations by forming the U.S. Department of Transportation Safety Council, chaired by Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari. [Read more: Newly Formed Safety Council to Take Safety Commitment to Next Level].

In the eighteen months since Secretary LaHood took office, the DOT has undertaken a multitude of new safety initiatives to improve safety issues in all areas of transportation.

Road Safety


The DOT recently announced that 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded. Last year, traffic fatalities fell to 33,808 for the year, the lowest number since 1950.  The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels. [Read more: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces 2009 Distracted Driving Fatality and Injury Numbers Prior to National Distracted Driving Summit].

Secretary LaHood has also launched a high-visibility campaign to end the deadly epidemic of distracted driving, which killed nearly 5,500 people in 2009 and injured almost half a million more. In the last year and a half, Secretary LaHood has convened two national Distracted Driving Summits, enacted new regulations banning commercial truck and bus drivers and rail operators from texting behind the wheel, promoted state anti-distracted driving laws, launched two pilot law enforcement campaigns and participated in numerous public awareness efforts. Thirty states to date have banned texting while driving, including eight with complete handheld bans. President Obama has also issued an Executive Order banning four million federal employees from texting behind the wheel, and the U.S. DOT recently announced that more than 2,000 companies employing 12 million people across America are instituting anti-distracted driving policies in the workplace. [Read more: www.distraction.gov]

Auto Safety


Secretary LaHood has taken swift and significant action to ensure that automakers are held accountable for safety defects in their vehicles. At the urging of DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota Motor Corp recently conducted safety recalls involving more than seven million vehicles due to two vehicle defects that could lead to incidents of unintended acceleration: pedal entrapment and sticking accelerator pedals.  NHTSA also fined Toyota the maximum allowable amount under the law for failing to report the ‘sticky pedal’ defect in a timely manner. NHTSA is continuing to work with NASA and the prestigious National Academy of Sciences to get to the bottom of unintended acceleration in Toyotas and other vehicles.

Aviation


Air travel is safer today than it has ever been, but Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt have worked hard to make it even safer.

After two decades of inaction on pilot fatigue, Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt recently announced a landmark proposal to fight fatigue among commercial pilots by setting new flight time, duty and rest requirements based on fatigue science. Last year, Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt cited pilot fatigue as a top priority during the Airline Safety Call to Action following the crash of Colgan Air 3407 in February 2009. Administrator Babbitt launched an aggressive effort to take advantage of the latest research on fatigue to create a new pilot flight, duty and rest proposal. [Read more: FAA Proposes Sweeping New Rule to Fight Pilot Fatigue]

Operator Fatigue


Last year, the DOT Safety Council identified operator fatigue as one of the Department’s top safety concerns across all modes of transportation.  In addition to the historic pilot fatigue rule announced by Secretary LaHood and FAA Administrator Babbitt earlier this month, other DOT agencies have taken action to fight operator fatigue.

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) has begun to tackle operator fatigue through research, enforcement and new technology. FMCSA has also adopted a specific performance measure in its 2010 Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) to target carriers whose drivers demonstrate high-risk behavior. Earlier this year, FMCSA also issued a final remedial rule, known as EOBR 1, which requires motor carriers found to have an hours-of-service violation rate of 10 percent or more during a compliance review to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) on the carrier’s entire fleet.  EOBRs automatically record the number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle. The rule took effect in April 2010 with a 2-year implementation date.  [Read more: DOT Issues Rule Requiring Electronic On-Board Recorders for Truck and Bus Companies with Serious Hours-of-Service Violations]

The Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) has also taken efforts to make the road safer from fatigued drivers, specifically through Safety Edge technology. The Safety Edge shapes the edge of the pavement to 30 degrees to allow drivers who have strayed from the road—such as fatigued drivers—to re-enter the roadway safely. FHWA is working with States to develop specifications and accelerate the adoption this pavement edge treatment as a standard practice on all new and resurfacing pavement projects.

Transit Safety Oversight Legislation


Following the Washington, DC metro crash that claimed 9 lives and injured scores of other commuters, Secretary LaHood proposed legislation to give the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) at the Department of Transportation safety oversight of transit districts across the country. The Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2009 would give FTA the same safety oversight that other federal agencies have and ensure a high and standard level of safety across all rail transit systems. Secretary LaHood has been urging Congress to pass the proposed legislation to ensure that 14 million passengers who use transit to get to work, school and home every day can do so safely. [Read more:U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Proposes Legislation to Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight]

###



A Message from Ray LaHood - Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road – even for just a few seconds – they put their lives and the lives of others in danger. Distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible and in a split second, its consequences can be devastating.
Visit Distraction.gov

Ezra Klein's Wonbook ( Corrected) : Sept 27th., 2010


 
 Monday, September 27, 2010
 
Wonkbook: Dems to lose votes in lame duck; Senate looks at outsourcing; Carol Browner out [corrected] The original version of Wonkbook included a lede paragraph I thought I'd deleted. This will make more sense. Apologies, it's early.
You probably know that Senate Democrats are delaying a vote on the Bush tax cuts until after the election. In its place, they'll be voting on a mostly symbolic bill to discourage companies from outsourcing jobs. What you may not know, however, is that this means Senate Democrats will have fewer votes when they actually do vote on the Bush tax cuts. Three Democrats -- Roland Burris from Illinois, Ted Kaufman from Delaware, and Carte Goodwin from West Virginia -- are filling vacancies on a temporary basis. Their terms end on November 2nd, and their replacements, who must be seated immediately, may well be Republicans.
So when the Senate returns for its lame duck session, Democrats will be, well, that much lamer, and that much less able to hold the line against a full extension of the Bush tax cuts. Add in that they won't have the political pressure of an election behind them, and the decision to delay the vote may, in the end, be the reason the Democrats lose it.
Last night's Mad Men seemed a bit crowded, no? Comparatively, today's Wonkbook is easy and straightforward. Welcome.
Top Stories

The Senate is considering a bill to discourage companies from outsourcing jobs, reports Michael Phillips: "Democrats admit they don't have enough votes to defeat a possible attempt by Republicans to block the bill. But they hope that bringing the issue to the Senate floor will underscore their concern about unemployment, now at 9.6%. 'This is another in a series of bills designed to try and provide jobs here at home for the American people,' a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday. 'Just because the Republicans say 'No,' doesn't mean we shouldn't try.'"
Democrats could lose votes during the lame duck session, reports Danny Yadron: "Lawmakers are typically seated in January. But deaths, a resignation and a series of Democrats taking jobs in the Obama administration forced six states to fill Senate vacancies through appointment since 2008, including those created by the president and vice president. Terms for three of those appointed senators--from Illinois, West Virginia and Delaware--expire after elections Nov. 2. State laws require replacements to be seated immediately, and Republicans are seen as having a shot at winning in Illinois and West Virginia."
Much of the opposition to the health-care law comes from Americans who wish it went further: "A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1...Those numbers are no endorsement for President Obama's plan, but the survey also found a deep-seated desire for change that could pose a problem for Republicans. Only 25 percent in the poll said minimal tinkering would suffice for the health care system."
The House may hold a vote on the Bush tax cuts even if the Senate delays, reports David Herszenhorn: "Democrats who are lobbying for a vote say it could draw a stark contrast between the two parties by highlighting the potential willingness of Republicans to block tax relief for most Americans while insisting tax breaks for the rich. 'We will retain the right to proceed as we choose and would take it one day at a time,' Ms. Pelosi said at a news conference at the Capitol. 'But let me be very clear, as we have all been clear in the House Democratic leadership. America’s middle class will have a tax cut. It will be done in this Congress. There is no question about that.'"
Carol Browner might leave the White House, report Glenn Thrush and Darren Samuelsohn: "The collapse of the administration’s comprehensive climate change effort -- a career-long goal for Browner -- has stoked rumors that she’ll head for the exit rather than settle for an incremental, vastly scaled-back energy agenda. And some environmental advocates, deeply disappointed that Browner didn’t have enough clout to push climate change to the top of Obama’s agenda, blame her for the debacle. 'The real challenge at the top is, Carol Browner is not a strategic thinker,' griped one environmental advocate with close ties to the administration."
College rock interlude: Michelle Shocked performs "Anchorage".
Still to come: Why liberals need to fight harder for the health-care law; how a change in corporate taxes could bring in hundreds of billions in revenue; the economic benefits of increased immigration; a new study indicts lax gun laws; Howard Kurtz profiles Paul Krugman; and the world's best competitive eater challenges a bear.
Economy/FinReg

Reducing corporate taxes could boost revenue and fund stimulus spending, report Michael Fletcher and Jia Lynn Yang: "Congress enacted a tax holiday for corporate profits held overseas in 2004, lowering the rate for returned money to 5.25 percent. The measure raised the amount of repatriated foreign profits five-fold to nearly $300 billion. But rather than supporting job creation, a study found, much of the money went directly to shareholders - through increased dividends or expanded share buybacks."
Congress is investigating Fannie Mae's involvement with faulty foreclosure documents: http://bit.ly/cU9VvJ
The Postal Service's budget woes may come from an over-reliance on contractors: http://bit.ly/9Xg5rm
"Short sales" on homes are increasing, report Dina ElBoghdady and Dan Keating: "That kind of deal is called a short sale, and it's sweeping the country. In these deals, a lender allows a troubled borrower to sell a home for less than what's owed on the mortgage. Completed short sales have more than tripled since 2008, and 400,000 of these deals are projected to close this year, according to mortgage research firm CoreLogic. The giant mortgage financier Fannie Mae approved short sales on 36,534 home loans it owned in the first half of the year, nearly triple the number in 2007 and 2008 combined. Freddie Mac, its sister company, approved 22,117 in the first half of 2010, up from a mere 94 in the first half of 2007."
Howard Kurtz profiles Paul Krugman: http://bit.ly/dmgjyh
"Structural unemployment" is a fake problem, writes Paul Krugman: "Job openings have plunged in every major sector, while the number of workers forced into part-time employment in almost all industries has soared. Unemployment has surged in every major occupational category...Oh, and where are these firms that 'can’t find appropriate workers'? The National Federation of Independent Business has been surveying small businesses for many years, asking them to name their most important problem; the percentage citing problems with labor quality is now at an all-time low, reflecting the reality that these days even highly skilled workers are desperate for employment."
Obama shouldn't try to satisfy business, write Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson: http://bit.ly/cubefX
We can grow our way out of the deficit, writes Edward Lazear: "Congress should begin limiting future spending according to an inflation-minus-one rule. That rule would hold that in any year when the ratio of government expenditures to GDP exceeds 18% (the 30-year average of tax revenues), Congress could increase spending only by the last three years' inflation rate, minus one percentage point. This would reduce the ratio of spending to GDP, because GDP growth would almost always exceed budget growth. There would be wrangling over what gets funded, but the amount of budget growth would be constrained."
Animated talk interlude: Steven Johnson explains where good ideas come from.
Domestic Policy

Liberals should go to war to defend health care reform, writes Matt Yglesias: "There's no country on earth that's moved to national health insurance and then moved back. And the U.S.A. will be no exception. But only if the move actually happens. And for that to happen, progressives need to recognize the stakes. It's completely true that the Obama administration hasn't given the left's activist base the care and feeding it needs and deserves. But at the end of the day, it has in fact given health care to sick kids. Its opponents want to take that away. A little less whining and a little more cheerleading from the left would make that less likely. Under the circumstances, more enthusiasm and a less self-pity and self-indulgence would be very welcome, not least by families hoping to be able to pay the bills next time someone falls ill."
Immigration helps American-born workers, writes Ezra Klein: "The mistake we make when thinking about the effect immigrants have on our wages, says Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California at Davis who has studied the issue extensively, is that we imagine an economy where the number of jobs is fixed. Then, if one immigrant comes in, he takes one of those jobs or forces a worker to accept a lower wage. But that's not how our economy works."
"With more labor - particularly more labor of different kinds - the economy grows larger. It produces more stuff. There are more workers buying things, creating demand. That increases the total number of jobs. We understand perfectly well that Europe is in trouble because its low birth rates mean fewer workers - and that means less economic growth. We ourselves worry that we're not graduating enough scientists and engineers. But the economy doesn't care if it gets workers through birth rates or green cards. In fact, there's a sense in which green cards are superior."
Lax gun control in some states spurs crime in others, reports Eric Lichtblau: "The study also seeks to draw a link between gun trafficking and gun control laws by analyzing gun restrictions in all 50 states in areas like background checks for gun purchases, policies on concealed weapons permits and state inspections of gun dealers. It finds that, across the board, those states with less restrictive gun laws exported guns used in crimes at significantly higher rates than states with more stringent laws."
The American Bar Association is becoming more openly left-leaning: http://politi.co/9YcWuy
The Department of Health and Human Services is targeting insurers discontinuing kids-only plan, reports Jennifer Haberkorn: "HHS also issued new regulatory guidance that could make it easier for insurers to sell the policies. The agency said insurers could raise rates based on health condition -- though doing so will be illegal beginning in 2014; issue different rates for child-only policies and dependent children; impose a surcharge for dropping coverage and subsequently reapplying; and instituting rules to preventing 'dumping' the policies. The moves are likely to drive premiums up, if insurers choose to start selling the policies again."
Volunteers providing water to illegal immigrants are legally vulnerable: http://nyti.ms/dhTzo5
A new book from Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer fears for the Court's legitimacy, writes Lincoln Caplan: "The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin points to the judicial activism of Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative majority as a major source of apprehension for Justice Breyer. In a profile this week, Mr. Toobin describes Justice Breyer as 'unskilled in the art of the poker face' and says that he used last January’s Citizens United decision 'to take a shot at Roberts' in the book. In that ruling, the conservatives gave corporations an unlimited right to spend money in politics. Justice Breyer said they disregarded 'a traditional legal view that stretched back as far as 1907,' and had recently been affirmed."
Uwe Reinhardt outlines steps for reducing health care costs: http://nyti.ms/cOOdl4
Man versus nature interlude: Takeru Kobayashi challenges an Alaskan kodiak bear to a hot dog eating contest.
Energy

Engineering experts are skeptical of BP's report on the oil spill: http://nyti.ms/bK5V4r
Alabama businesses resent the BP oil spill payment process, reports Mike Esterl: "Despite a sharp acceleration in payments in recent days, many tourism-dependent businesses said the oil-spill claims process hasn't improved and some said it has worsened since independent administrator Kenneth Feinberg took the reins of a $20 billion BP-financed fund. Before that, the oil giant directly handled private-sector claims for lost income. Boat-repair companies, beach-umbrella rental outfits and retailers along Alabama's 30-mile coast said they have been short-changed or not paid at all since filing claims after the April 20 spill sent revenue plunging."
The nation's gas pipelines suffer from a lack of oversight: http://nyti.ms/djMLZe
Investigators have a new theory of how the BP cap blew, reports Siobhan Hughes: "'I'd like to just maintain the possibility that one reason that the cement job may have failed was because of fracking at the time of cementing,' said Mark Zoback, a Stanford University geophysicist who serves on the National Academy of Engineering panel investigating the causes of the April 20 disaster. The remarks, at a meeting convened at the National Academy of Engineering, undercut BP's effort to assign blame for the April 20 Deepwater Horizon explosion to its contractors instead of its own well design."
A new book indicts polluters for evading regulators: http://bit.ly/9g28r0
Solar power is spreading in Asia, writes Bettina Wassener: "May, the Asian Development Bank started a major drive to promote solar power across the region. Last year, the Indian government approved an ambitious National Solar Mission, which seeks a huge increase in the country’s solar-energy capabilities. Bangladesh, with the support of the World Bank, is aiming to have one million remote rural homes supplied with solar panels by the end of 2012. And in India, where nearly 40 percent of households have no access to electricity, companies like Selco Solar and Orb Energy have helped tens of thousands of families and small entrepreneurs purchase solar panels."
Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with help from Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard.