Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend Links

1. Space Needle celebrates 50 years. A lot had to happen to make the Seattle icon come together and the article linked tells all about how it all came together. If you have never been to the Space Needle, you probably still recognize it.

We’ve been up to the top and the view is great. My wife and boys went there for dinner one night a few years ago while I was deployed. Cheeseburgers were $12 a pop.  The area around the base is also quite interesting so I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

2. Gregoire signs anti-piracy bill. Microsoft finally gets what they wanted to protect their company’s products from piracy.

The new law will allow a company to sue businesses that use stolen or misappropriated information technology to manufacture products sold in Washington State. The state also may pursue legal actions in such cases.

Lots are software pirated in Asia and Central America finds its way to the USA. To avoid the high cost of software made by Microsoft, there are some companies willing to use the pirated software.

3. Local non-profits feeling the budget pinch. Because of budget cuts to state programs many people are turning to non-profits to make up the difference.  This is increasing the load experienced by these non-profits and is stretching them to the limits.

4. Good news for Vets. Gov Gregoire has signed a bill that gives preference to US Vets

The legislation, HB 1432, allows private employers to voluntarily give a preference to hiring veterans and widows or widowers of veterans without violating federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. Private companies also could give employment preference to spouses of certain honorable discharged veterans who became permanently disabled during their service.

Kind of good-news, bad-news situation. As a 27.5 year retired vet, this does give me a leg up, but it might put someone else who also deserves a shop at the job further down the list.

5. New fees for state parks. The state legislature has passed a bill that will require users of state parks to pay for use. The fees charged will be $10 per use or $30 for an annual pass. This bill is going to be used to further reduce the multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. Under the bill, state park monies would be eliminated from the budget and the use fees would be used to maintain the parks.

1. Economists see improving economy. Despite events in the Middle East and the on-going disaster in Japan, a very large percentage of economists see the economy improving over the rest of the year.

A survey from the National Association for Business Economics finds that economists are hopeful that the broader economy is substantially improving, with rising employment reported for the fifth quarter in a row.  The survey found the “companies appear to be positioning themselves for a firming economic environment,” said Shawn DuBravac, an economist with the Consumer Electronics Association, who analyzed the findings.

The outlook for employment rose slightly, reaching a 12-year high. No firms reported significant layoffs, with the reduction coming from already planned cuts.

Sales increase for third consecutive quarter, profits margins continue to improve and the number of economists whose firms increased spending over the previous quarter held steady. Nearly all of the 72 economists surveyed, about 94 percent, now expect the economy to grow at least 2 percent in 2011.

I would be curious to see if there was any thought to the continued rise in gas prices. There is no way this won’t have an impact on the non-recovery recovery.  Plus, until banks start lending money to business for expansion the growth is going to stagnate at the current level of capacity, which is more the likely already maxed out.

2. Why the downgrade from S&P. If you are curious beyond the hype as to why the S&P downgraded the US from “stable” to “negative” this article gives you the nuts and bolts without needing a degree in high finance.

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