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Exercising your right to vote

Updated: Friday, November 8, 2013
Exercising your right to vote story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Although there has been a lot said and written about Tuesday's elections--about the issues, about the candidates, about who won, the sad fact is that these matters are being decided by fewer and fewer voters almost every year.

Tonight, in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says it should be a high priority to find a way to reconnect voters to the ballot box.

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It's a given that off-year elections don't have the sex appeal of a Presidential battle with Congressional seats at stake.

But this is getting a little scary.

In Kalamazoo: okay, the ballot was boring. But 13 percent? That's really all we care?

In Jackson, election officials were pretty excited because 18 percent turned out to elect a Mayor and decriminalize marijuana.

Six months from now when somebody who didn't vote starts complaining—and they will—you have the authority to turn your back or cover your ears. It's maddening.

And its not just here. After 43 years of really horrible criminal leadership, the city of Detroit elected a new Mayor. Someone to lead them out of the quagmire of bankruptcy into a new day. Only one in four registered voters took the time. Twenty-five percent!

And as dismal as that might seem, it's not that bad in comparison with other cities. New York City—22 percent. In 1950 it was 93 percent.

Atlanta, 17 percent. Pittsburgh, 20 percent. Miami, a measly 11 percent. How low do we go before we just cancel them for lack of interest?

In Virginia, where they actually elected a Governor, where the result was hailed as a victory over the tea party, only 37 percent bothered.

A recent study on voter attitudes said they think their votes don't count, and that anyway they're just too busy or they just don't care.

We are the United States of America. Millions of men have been wounded or killed in battle protecting our highly vaunted right to choose our own destiny. And we're too busy? We don't care? We're just too apathetic to take the time?

Granted, voting can be inconvenient. But it ought to be considered an honor. True, some candidates are insufferable.

But the only way to get them out is to vote them out. And to do that you have to get off your butt and cast your vote.

For the record, annual turnout for nationwide elections in Demark is 85 percent. In the Netherlands it's 75 to 80 percent. In the UK it's 66 percent. And here in the United States, the best we can muster in even the most frenetic national election is 65 percent.

So here's an idea.

Our choice of a Tuesday in early November as Election Day came about roughly 170 years ago when farmers had harvested their crops, could go to church on Sunday, and then make the often day-long trip into the cities to cast their votes.

It made sense then—but not anymore.

So, how about a two or three-day Election Day holiday? Turn it into an event; a time for last minute debate.

A time for celebrating what we do here; a time to allow no one an excuse for not getting down to the precinct and  marking a ballot.

We have to do something to reconnect with voters. Or we will become a government of, by, and for just a few of the people. We're on our way their now.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on September 30, 2014 17:13 GMT

HOME PRICES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices in July increased at the slowest pace in 20 months, reflecting sluggish sales and a greater supply of houses for sale.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 6.7 percent in July from 12 months earlier. That's down from an 8.1 percent gain in June and the smallest increase since November 2012.

Nineteen of the 20 cities in the index reported lower annual gains than in June. And a new national index of home prices compiled by S&P rose just 5.6 percent.

Lower price gains should make homes more affordable for would-be buyers. Sales of existing homes picked up over the summer but then dipped in August. Sales have fallen 5.3 percent in the past year.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. consumer confidence dropped in September after hitting the highest level in nearly seven years in August.

The Conference Board says its confidence index fell to 86.0, the first decline after four months of gains. It fell from a revised 93.4 in August, which had been the highest level since autumn 2007 before the Great Recession officially began in December 2007.

Conference Board economists say the decline reflected a less positive view of the current state of the job market.

OBAMA-ECONOMY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will deliver an economic address this week, hoping to promote the recovery as the campaign season heads into its final weeks before midterm congressional elections.

Obama plans to deliver a speech Thursday at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, drawing attention to economic advances since he took office. The White House says he will also press for additional steps that the government can undertake to create jobs and improve wages.

The speech comes amid polls that still show the economy is the top issue with voters and that a majority of voters disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy. The speech marks a shift from Obama's recent attention to international crises, particularly the start of a new bombing campaign against Islamic extremists.

EBAY-PAYPAL SPLIT

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- PayPal is splitting from EBay Inc. and will become a separate and publicly traded company next year.

The separation is expected to occur in the second half of 2015.

EBay says its board decided that the separation was the best path for growth and shareholder value creation for each business.

Dan Schulman, the president of the enterprise growth group at American Express, will be the new president at PayPal, effective immediately. The 56-year-old will become PayPal's CEO once the separation takes place.

EUROPE-ECONOMY

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Official figures show inflation across the 18 European Union countries that use the euro dipped further toward zero in September, a move that's likely to maintain pressure on the European Central Bank to back further stimulus measures.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, says consumer prices in the eurozone rose only 0.3 percent in the year to September against the previous month's 0.4 percent.

Inflation, which is at its lowest level since October 2009, is way below the ECB's target of just below 2 percent.

One reason behind the ECB's recent interest rate reductions has been to prevent a sustained bout of falling prices -- so-called deflation, which can make consumers delay purchases.

Eurostat also said unemployment in the eurozone was unchanged at 11.5 percent in August.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- The U.K. economy grew faster in the second quarter than previously estimated, with official figures revising up the quarter-on-quarter growth rate by 0.1 percentage points to 0.9 percent.

The Office for National Statistics revision came at the same time as officials put into place data and methodological changes meant to make Britain comply with international norms.

Joe Grice says that despite the changes the country's long-term average growth rate is little changed, though the economic downturn ended about nine months earlier than thought.

He notes that "the recent downturn continues to be the deepest since ONS records began." Chris Williamson, analyst at Markit.com, says the new statistics show the economy is now 2.7 percent larger than it pre-crisis peak.

BRITAIN-RBS

LONDON (AP) -- Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland says strong economic conditions are boosting its finances and that it expects to take a smaller hit from bad investments this year.

The bank, which was rescued by the British taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis, issued an unscheduled trading update today to report it would "significantly outperform" its previous guidance of 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in impairment charges. It says it now expects to put aside only half a billion pounds for bad loans.

Rising property prices in Ireland have helped its Ulster Bank unit. RBS Capital Resolution, which contains toxic investments, has improved with the economy. RBS says uncertainties remain, however.

The bank is undergoing a sweeping restructuring to focus on its core business in the U.K.

EUROPE-APPLE-TAX PROBE

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union's competition watchdog says tax rebates that Ireland granted iPhone maker Apple appear to amount to illegal state aid and may have to be recouped.

Apple Inc. funnels the bulk of its international sales through subsidiaries in Ireland, where it benefits from low, negotiated tax deals.

In a letter to the Irish government published Tuesday, the 28-nation bloc's executive Commission said the tax treatment granted to Apple raises "doubts about the compatibility" with EU law.

The Commission says tax deals struck with Apple in 1991 and then 2007 show "several inconsistencies" and may not comply with international taxation standards.

The EU first announced the probe in June. It's now requesting further documents from Ireland before making a decision, which is likely to take several months.

EARNS-WALGREEN

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Walgreen Co. (WAG) reports a loss of $239 million in its fiscal fourth quarter.

On a per-share basis, the Deerfield, Illinois-based company says it had a loss of 25 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and amortization costs, came to 74 cents per share.

The results met Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 74 cents per share.

The drugstore chain posted revenue of $19.06 billion in the period, exceeding Street forecasts. Analysts expected $19.02 billion, according to Zacks.

Walgreen shares have increased nearly 4 percent since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 has climbed 7 percent. The stock has climbed slightly more than 9 percent in the last 12 months.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON-ACQUISITION

Johnson & Johnson buying Alios for $1.75B

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson is buying the biopharmaceutical company Alios BioPharma Inc. for about $1.75 billion.

Alios is a privately held company that focuses on developing therapies for viral diseases.

The deal includes Alios' portfolio of potential therapeutics for viral infections including compound AL-8176, an orally administered antiviral therapy currently in Phase 2 studies for the treatment of infants with respiratory syncytial virus. RSV typically causes only mild, cold-like symptoms in most children. But it is also the most common cause of pneumonia in U.S. infants.

The acquisition is targeted to close in the fourth quarter.

Johnson & Johnson is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

NEWS CORP-ACQUISITION

NEW YORK (AP) -- News Corp. is spending about $950 million to buy the online real estate business Move Inc., in a deal that aims to speed up the media company's digital expansion.

News Corp. says it will pay $21 per share in cash for each outstanding share of Move. That represents a 37 percent premium over the stock's closing stock price of $15.29 on Monday.

Move operates the website realtor.com and News Corp. says it displays more than 98 percent of all for-sale properties listed in the United States. The media company says Move's network of websites reaches about 35 million people per month.

New York-based News Corp., which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, expects the deal to close at the end of the year. Move's board has unanimously approved the acquisition.

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