Girl power?

Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013
Girl power? story image
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.

Business News

Last Update on November 26, 2014 08:35 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The list of economic reports expected this morning is longer than usual with everything shutdown for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

The Commerce Department releases October figures on durable goods orders, personal income and spending as well as new home sales. The National Association of Realtors will release its pending home sales index for October, while Freddie Mac issues its weekly report on mortgage rates.

The Labor Department's weekly look at jobless claims also comes a day early.

From the corporate world, Deere & Co. reports its quarterly financial results before the market opens.

OBAMA-SMOG

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration will propose tightening the amount of a smog-forming pollutant in the air.

People familiar with the proposal tell the Associated Press that the EPA will recommend lowering the limit for ground-level ozone to 65 to 70 parts per billion, down from a 75 parts per billion standard set in the 2008.

The proposal will be announced today to meet a court-ordered Dec. 1 deadline.

The stricter standard makes good a campaign promise Obama made during his first run for the White House: to reverse President George W. Bush's decision to set a limit weaker than scientists advised.

In 2011, facing re-election, Obama scrapped an EPA plan to tighten the standard after Republicans and industries said it would hamper the economy.

HP STRUGGLE

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Venerable tech giant Hewlett-Packard has been struggling for three years to turn its business around. Its latest earnings show it still has more work ahead.

While CEO Meg Whitman has decided to split the company in two, she has said it will take a year to disengage the sluggish printer-and-PC division from faster-growing units that sell commercial tech hardware, software and services. Meanwhile, HP reported Tuesday that its sales fell 2 percent in the most recent three-month period, marking its 12th revenue decline in the last 13 quarters.

And there was little comfort in a new forecast issued Tuesday by market research firm IDC. It predicts the global PC market will shrink 2.7 percent this year, instead of the 3.7 percent drop forecast earlier.

TWITTER-OFFERS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Twitter is expanding its reach into commerce with a new tool called "Offers."

Advertisers can post promotions and discounts in users' Twitter feeds, whether or not Twitter users follow those merchants.

To redeem an offer, customers enter their credit or debit card information. They can use the same card to redeem the promotion in a store. It only works in the U.S. but may be available in other countries in the future.

San Francisco-based Twitter says it will encrypt and store the credit card information but users can remove it any time

The short messaging service has slowly been branching out into shopping. It launched a "Buy" button in September that lets users make purchases or donate money to charities without leaving Twitter.

THANKSGIVING AT WORK

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A lawmaker in Ohio wants retailers in the state to pay triple wages for employees who work on Thanksgiving -- an effort that comes as Macy's is allowing its workers to choose whether to work that day.

Both are attempts to counter frustration among workers and their families over holiday store hours that have expanded into the holiday.

State Rep. Mike Foley says his bill would allow employees to bow out of the holiday shift without sanctions. It comes after a federal complaint said Wal-Mart illegally fired workers protesting holiday working conditions last year.

Macy's, Wal-Mart and two dozen other major retailers open on Thanksgiving Day say consumers demand it. A spokesman says working the holiday is optional for Macy's employees this year. Those who work will be paid time-and-a-half.

HSBC-SEC

WASHINGTON (AP) -- HSBC will pay $12.5 million to settle regulators' charges that its private-banking business based in Switzerland violated U.S. securities laws.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Tuesday that the private-banking unit failed to register with the SEC before providing brokerage services and investment advice to U.S. clients. The SEC says HSBC Private Bank began doing so more than 10 years ago and collected fees totaling about $5.7 million.

A representative for HSBC, Europe's largest bank by market value, could not be reached for comment.

According to the SEC, HSBC Private Bank decided to exit the U.S. cross-border business in 2010.

EGGS-RECORD PRODUCTION

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The egg is on a roll. It has never been more popular as a fast-food restaurant breakfast staple and its appeal has broadened far beyond the day's first meal.

High demand has kept egg prices at record levels, even as production soars.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Iowa, the nation's leading egg supplier, produced a record 1.4 billion eggs in October, up 4 percent from a year ago. Egg prices have broken records for the past 10 days, with the Midwest price reaching $2.18 a dozen on Monday.

Restaurants have broadened their menu offerings including eggs, with quick-service restaurants adding more egg-white sandwiches and eggs showing up as toppings on pizza and hamburgers.

People also use more eggs around the holidays as families cook and bake at home.

COAL LEASE LAWSUIT

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Conservation groups are suing the government to force federal officials to undertake the first broad environmental review of the government's coal-leasing program in decades.

Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

It's being paid for by the philanthropic foundation of Microsoft founder Paul Allen.

Supporters of the lawsuit said there hasn't been a comprehensive review of the government's coal program since 1979. That's before climate-changing gases produced by burning coal emerged as a significant public concern.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has been reviewing its coal-leasing program since a government investigation last year revealed officials accepted below-market bids in some coal sales.

BLM spokesman Jeff Krauss declined to comment on Tuesday's lawsuit.

SHIP AGROUND-SETTLEMENT

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