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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Michigan Is Officially A Right-To-Work (for less) State, But Critics Vow To Continue Fight

LANSING, MI -- Michigan is officially a right-to-work state.

The controversial new law takes effect today, making the traditional labor stronghold the 24th state to prohibit new contracts that require workers to pay union dues or agency fees as a condition of employment.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who signed the legislation late last year, has said the law is already making Michigan more attractive to job creators.

"Michigan has had contact from multiple companies that have taken an interest in locating here as a result of (right to work)," spokesman Kurt Weiss confirmed, "but those are discussions best kept private as we continue to work with those companies. I think it's important to keep in mind that it's one tool that is part of our entire tool box designed to improve our business climate and encourage job growth."

Economists who have studied right-to-work laws in other states say it is hard to divorce the policy from other other factors that may impact job growth and prosperity. And while anecdotal success stories are common, the overall body of evidence isn't entirely conclusive.



Business Activity in U.S. Expanded at a Slower Pace in March

By Shobhana Chandra - Mar 28, 2013
Business activity in the U.S. expanded in March at a slower pace than forecast, a sign the rebound in manufacturing will cool.

The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer fell to 52.4 this month, the lowest level of the year, from 56.8 in February. A reading greater than 50 signals expansion. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 56.5.

Manufacturing, which makes up about 12 percent of the economy, may stabilize as some businesses wait for more evidence that sales will hold up in the face of across-the-board cuts in government spending. At the same time, rising consumer purchases led by automobile and home sales will help prevent a decline in investment and inventory rebuilding.

“We could get some short-term weakness,” Josh Dennerlein, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York, said before the report. “Some sectors like defense are really going to get beat up” due to the sequestration. Still, “the longer term outlook is much more positive.”



Jobless Claims in U.S. Increase More Than Forecast

By Lorraine Woellert - Mar 28, 2013
More Americans than projected filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, bringing a halt to the recent progress in the labor market.

First-time jobless claims rose by 16,000 to 357,000 in the week ended March 23, the highest level in more than a month, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 48 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 340,000. The four-week average climbed from the lowest level in five years.

Consumer spending has continued to climb even after lawmakers agreed to let the payroll tax rise by 2 percentage points in January, giving employers reason to retain staff. At the same time, stronger economic growth is needed to further reduce the pace of firings, add to payrolls and boost wages.

“We’re not making progress the way we’d like to,” said Robert Brusca, president of Fact & Opinion Economics in New York, who projected claims would climb to 350,000. “It’s still a very disappointing picture for jobs.”



NEW: Limits Now In Place For Re-Opening Of Cyprus Banks - text of decree included

AFTER ALMOST two weeks with no banking system and limited ATM withdrawals, banks across the country will once again open their doors to the public today, introducing temporary capital controls for the first time in the eurozone.

Finance Minister Michalis Sarris last night signed into law a temporary decree capping cash withdrawals per person per bank per day at €300, effectively banning cheques and controlling cash outflows from the country, allowing only €1,000 per person per journey abroad.

According to sources, the decree will apply across the banking system but allows a significant amount of discretion in its application.

The thinking behind this is to allow healthy banks to get on with business while ensuring the newly restructured Bank of Cyprus will enjoy adequate protection during the first moments of its operation, as well as to prevent outflows of cash abroad.

MORE with text of decree...


Pro-Palestinian Group Unveils New Metro-North Ads Calling For End To ‘Israeli Apartheid’

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New ads to soon run at Metro-North stations call on the U.S. to stop aid to Israel.

The American Muslims for Palestine kicked off its national advertising campaign Tuesday by unveiling some of the ads it plans to run at Metro-North stations in the coming weeks.

The group, which bills itself as a grassroots organization created to educate the public about Palestine and its history, presented some of the ads at a news conference at Metro-North’s Harlem station on 125th Street.

The unveiling of the ads, timed to coincide with President Barack Obama’s Middle East visit, call for an end to “Israeli apartheid” and America’s financial support for Israel, according to the group’s chairman, Hatem Bazian.



U.S. Asks Liechtenstein For Data In Tax Evasion Probe

(Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors have asked Liechtenstein to hand over data on foundations and other financial vehicles as part of their investigation into tax evasion by wealthy Americans.

Roughly 20 Liechtenstein-based fiduciary firms have been given a Friday deadline to tell U.S. officials how many Americans maintained financial ties in the principality, Katja Gey, head of Liechtenstein's office for international tax matters, said on Wednesday.

Liechtenstein, with similar secrecy laws to larger neighbor Switzerland, has long prospered by offering secretive foundations and trusts through firms known as fiduciaries.

It was removed from a global blacklist of uncooperative tax havens in 2009, having agreed to help to hunt down tax dodgers after leaked data in 2008 showed hundreds of wealthy Germans had hidden assets in the tiny country.



U.S. Rules Out Deploying Patriot Missiles In Syria

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government on Tuesday ruled out deploying Patriot missiles in Syria to protect the opposition there despite such request from Syria's resigned opposition head Moaz al-Khatib.

"Well, we are aware of the request and, at this time, NATO does not intend to intervene militarily in Syria," said White House spokesman Jay Carney at a briefing.

"I think that a Patriot missile battery would fall within the definition of military assistance," he told reporters, stressing that the Patriot missile batteries currently deployed in Turkey are only to defend "its territory and people."

However, Carney also said that the Obama administration is constantly reviewing its policies in Syria.



Economy Remains Top Concern For Americans: Poll

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The state of U.S. economy remains the top concern for Americans in 2013, as a Gallup poll released on Tuesday shows that 68 percent of them worry about the economy "a great deal."

In fact, economy has ranked as the top public concern for Americans in this annual Gallup poll each year since 2008. Prior to that, healthcare was the top-ranking concern.

Economy is followed by federal spending/the deficit (61 percent), healthcare (59 percent), and gas prices (55 percent) as other top concerns for Americans in 2013, the poll finds.

Unemployment has slid for the third year in a row in the list of top concerns for Americans, including a 5-point drop this year to 50 percent. Equally 50 percent of Americans worry a great deal about Social Security, according to the poll conducted March 7-10 on 1,022 Americans.



Russia Slams Arab League’s Decision to Arm Syrian Rebels

MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the Arab League’s decision to allow its members to supply Syrian opposition forces with weapons broke international laws.

“As far as international law is concerned, the league’s decisions on Syria are illegal and baseless, because the government of the Syrian Arab Republic remains a legitimate representative of this UN member state,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

The decision also contradicts the “general principles” of the Geneva Communiqué, proposing to establish a transitional Syrian government that would comprise both the Syrian authorities and opposition forces. It was adopted by foreign ministers from the UN Security Council permanent member states and countries neighboring Syria on June 30, 2012.



Russia Offers S. Africa Help With Nuclear Power

DURBAN, March 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is ready to assist South Africa with construction of nuclear power plants (NPP) in the country, providing a line of credit if the project is implemented by Russian specialists, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Putin arrived in Durban on a two-day visit to attend the fifth BRICS summit with the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

“Russia is offering South Africa not only to help with construction of nuclear power reactors, but also with the creation of the advanced nuclear power industry, including the extraction of raw materials, construction of NPPs and research reactors, design and domestic production of nuclear power equipment with Russian credit support,” Putin said after talks with South African President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa has two nuclear reactors generating 5 percent of its electricity.


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