Girl power?

Updated: Thursday, October 24 2013, 08:32 PM EDT
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Our Congress avoided economic calamity on Wednesday by passing a last-minute, Senate-led bill to restore government funding.

The trouble is that it's only good for 90 days--through January 15th--and then we get round 2.

The same problems, the same acrimony, and the same people.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says he has a solution, and it's been right under our noses all the while.

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That's right. It's time to turns the reins of our government over to women. The men in suits have failed us.

In recent days, weeks and months, the only people in Washington who seem to understand what's going on are women.

Just two weeks ago, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine took the podium on the Senate floor and told her colleagues to "stop fighting and start legislating."

The suits didn't hear her. But two of her colleagues did. And suddenly there was a group of three: Collins, Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Democratic Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

"As just one person," Murkowski said, "you don't get anywhere. We cannot work individually and expect to accomplish the work that is needed. We've got to be working together."

Three women—two Republicans and a Democrat, standing firm in the face of obstructionists who were perfectly willing to let the world slide into economic chaos by allowing this nation go into default; perfectly willing to ignore their own  constitutional obligation to pay the nation's  bills. On time.

After a few days, the group of three became the group of six, then eight, now ten, and growing.

Compare the words of Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington with those of Congressman John C. Fleming of Louisiana, one of the 144 house members to vote "no" on yesterday's bill to end the government shutdown.

Here what Murray said:

"My hope is that in the weeks and months ahead, we can heal many of the partisan divides that keep us from addressing the big challenges we face, including returning our focus to creating jobs and improving our economy."

And from Fleming? "See," he said with a grin. "We're going to start this all over again."

It makes me cringe.

Are there problems in our government? Yes. All over the place. Are there problems with the Affordable Care Act?

Are you kidding?  For starters, they had 3 1/2 years to develop a multi-billion dollar computer system to help people make choices and sign up for healthcare.

And they did a terrible job of it.

Did anyone of them think of getting advice from the people at, say,  Facebook? But Obamacare is the law, so let's fix it!

But to shut down our country instead? The shutdown that ended last night cost our government an estimated $24 billion.

Imagine that. How many band-aids, runny noses, and broken arms would that have paid for?

But these sneering, idealistically-driven men in suits don't care.

But the women in Washington do.

Freshman Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren:

"In our democracy, government is just how we describe all of the things that 'we the people' have already decided to do together. We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is 'I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own.'”

Take a look around. The head of the International Monetary Fund is Christine Lagard, of France.

"I hope," she said yesterday, "that in a few weeks time we will look back and say 'what a waste of time that was.'"

I doubt the angry men in suits heard her.

The most successful country in Europe is run by a woman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She's admired and respected all over the continent.

Hourly pay in Germany has gone up 30 percent since 1985. In the United States, it's up only six percent.

Iceland collapsed in the wake of Lehman Brothers. Now it's a country whose banks, funds, and government are run largely by women and is doing quite nicely.

In this country there's a quiet but dramatically exciting movement afoot.

And it's a movement led by women who are weary of our political system being run by frightened men who seem to have no concept anymore of  what's right for their country.

As Elizabeth Warren put it: "We are not that nation. We have never been that nation. And we never will be that nation."

More power to her. More power to them. It's time.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.
Girl power?
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Business News

Last Update on April 24, 2014 17:31 GMT

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits surged 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 last week, though the gain likely reflected temporary layoffs in the week before Easter.

The Labor Department says the four-week average of applications, a less volatile number, rose 4,750 to 316,750. The four-week average fell two weeks ago to its lowest level since October 2007, two months before the recession began.

Applications can be volatile around Easter, because many school systems temporarily lay off bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees during spring break. Some of those workers file for unemployment benefits.

Despite the volatility, applications have generally been declining in recent months, a hopeful sign for the job market. Three weeks ago, applications fell to 301,000, the lowest level in nearly seven years.

DURABLE GOODS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods posted a solid gain for the second straight month in March. A key category that signals business investment plans increased at the fastest pace in four months.

The Commerce Department says that orders for durable goods increased 2.6 percent in March following a 2.1 percent rise in February. Those back-to-back gains followed two big declines in December and January which had raised concerns about possible weakness in manufacturing.

Demand for core capital goods, considered a good guide for business investment plans, rose 2.2 percent in March after a 1.1 percent drop in February. It was the best showing since a 3 percent rise in November.

Manufacturing seems to be recovering after a cold winter disrupted business activity.

JAPAN-US-TRADE

TOKYO (AP) -- Talks between the United States and Japan on a Pacific Rim trade pact have halted for now without any resolution in sight, spoiling plans for a showcase deal during President Barack Obama's visit to Tokyo.

Economy minister Akira Amari, Japan's top negotiator, said too many issues remained unresolved and further working-level talks will be needed to reach a market-opening pact as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Amari told reporters Thursday that no end was in sight. He described the negotiations as in a "tough situation."

The two sides had hoped to proclaim a broad agreement or at least significant progress during Obama's visit, which ends Friday.

A Japan-U.S. deal is seen as crucial for talks among the other 10 countries participating in the U.S.-led initiative to move ahead.

EARNS-GENERAL MOTORS

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors says first-quarter profit fell 86 percent as a series of recalls dragged down its earnings.

GM had a net profit of $125 million, the company's worst quarterly performance since it posted a net loss after leaving bankruptcy protection in 2009.

The Detroit automaker says it took a $1.3 billion charge for recalling about 7 million vehicles worldwide. The company also incurred $300 million in restructuring costs, mostly in Europe. And it took a $419 million charge due to a change in the way it values Venezuela's currency.

GM made 6 cents per share, down from 58 cents per share a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, GM made 29 cents per share, far above Wall Street estimates of 3 cents per share.

EARNS-CATERPILLAR

Caterpillar 1Q profit climbs 5 pct, forecast rises

Caterpillar's first-quarter earnings climbed 5 percent and the construction equipment maker raised its 2014 forecast. But the company also says a mining equipment sales slump is still hurting results.

The Peoria, Ill., company says it now expects 2014 earnings of $6.10 per share excluding restructuring costs. That's up from its previous forecast for $5.85 per share.

Analysts expect $5.72 per share, on average.

Caterpillar Inc. says it earned $922 million, or $1.44 per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. That compares to $880 million, or $1.31 per share, last year.

Earnings totaled $1.61 per share, excluding restructuring costs. Total revenue was nearly flat at $13.24 billion.

Analysts forecast earnings of $1.21 per share on $13.09 billion in revenue.

EARNS-UPS

DALLAS (AP) -- First-quarter revenue at UPS slumped 12 percent as winter storms increased costs for the shipping giant and cut into its revenue.

The Atlanta company says the rough start to the year means that full-year earnings will come in at the low end of earlier forecasts.

UPS posted earnings of $911 million, or 98 cents per share, well short of the $1.08 that Wall Street was looking for, and less than the $1.04 billion, or $1.08 per share, it reported a year earlier.

UPS says winter storms reduced operating profit by $200 million as costs rose.

Revenue rose 2.6 percent to $13.78 billion, but that's still shy of the $13.91 billion that analysts had forecast.

EARNS-AIRLINES

DALLAS (AP) -- Even with the turbulence of severe winter storms and stubbornly high fuel prices, many of the major airlines are cruising and their stock prices are soaring.

On Thursday, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported record profits for the first quarter, usually the weakest time of year for the airlines. That followed a rousing report from Delta Air Lines a day earlier.

Still stuck on the tarmac: United Airlines. While rivals were making money, United lost another $609 million during the first three months of the year.

The No. 2 airline company behind American, United Continental Holdings Inc. is struggling to make the 2010 merger of United and Continental work. As costs rise, United is taking in less per mile from passengers -- it's not charging fares high enough to cover expenses.

"This quarter's financial performance is well below what we can and should achieve," conceded United Chairman and CEO Jeff Smisek. He said the airline is taking steps to fix its operations and service to boost financial results.

VACATION FORECAST

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The frugality of the Great Recession may be history.

Orbitz senior editor Jeanenne Tornatore (jeh-NEEN' TOR'-nah-tor) says the travel website's survey finds 88 percent of Americans plan real vacations this year. She says "people don't talk staycation anymore," as was popular a few years ago. This year's survey finds "people really getting back out, taking these longer vacations and kind of trading up for some bigger destinations."

Tornatore says Orbitz bookings show the Mexican resort of Cancun as the top destination, but most of the other hot spots for fun-seekers are in the U.S. -- with Las Vegas, Orlando, Seattle and Los Angeles rounding out the top five, and Honolulu ranks tenth.

Average airfares are up about six percent from a year ago, according to Tornatore. She urges vacation travelers to shop around for deals, and use rewards points -- they can save big time.

Tornatore says mid-June through late July is the peak summer vacation period, and you should get airline tickets about 60 days in advance. She says if you're planning your vacation during that busy period, "you really want to book now."

MANDALAY BAY CONVENTION CENTER-EXPANSION

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas is planning a $66 million expansion that will boost its convention center from the seventh-largest to the fifth-largest in America.

Company officials said Thursday that the 350,000 square feet of new exhibit space will help it attract larger trade shows, and will allow events already there to expand.

The convention center will hit 2 million total square feet after the expansion, putting it behind only McCormick Place in Chicago, the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo that's also in Las Vegas.

Construction is scheduled to begin late this year and wrap up in January 2016.

Las Vegas hosted 53 of the nation's 250 largest trade shows last year, more than any other U.S. city.

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