Following a worldwide trend, the new smartphone goes on sale in the U.S. and within hours is no longer available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that was fast.

Just minutes after going on sale in the United States, the new Nexus 4 smartphone from Google and LG was already sold out. Visitors to the Google Play store are greeted with a “coming soon” notice for both the 8GB and 16GB versions of the device.

The phones previously sold out in the United Kingdom in less than an hour. Some customers reported having trouble accessing the store or checking out successfully. Meanwhile, Dutch blog AndroidWorld reported that a planned Netherlands launch was scrapped amid high demand elsewhere.

It’s unclear how many units Google was able to produce by launch time. The Nexus 4 won praise for its low $299 starting price, the fact that it arrived without a contract, and for subtle improvements in the Android 4.2 operating system, which it is the first phone to run. But itLG Nexus 4 drew criticism for failing to run on 4G LTE networks.

The expanded Nexus 7 lineup and the new Nexus 10 tablet, which also went on sale in the United States today, were still available for purchase in all their configurations.

 

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Congratulations, President Barack Obama. Now you have just 49 days to resolve a $600 billion fiscal crisis that could push the economy back into recession.

The slow, steady improvement in the economy that helped Obama defeat Republican nominee Mitt Romney Tuesday is in peril if he can’t quickly forge agreement with a still-divided Congress on a new budget that delays steep tax increases and deep spending cuts.

The so-called “fiscal cliff” – set to take effect Jan.1 – is a doomsday budget package Congress enacted in 2011 to try to force compromise on a series of bitterly divisive policy choices. The budget package is a witch’s brew of harsh measures designed to inflict political pain as widely as possible, the better to prompt all sides to reach the compromise that would prevent it from taking effect.

The law slashes Obama’s popular payroll tax cut, cancels extended jobless benefits, imposes deep cuts in Medicare reimbursements to doctors, exposes millions of Americans to the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminates tax deductions for state and local sales taxes and child care tax credits (among others), takes a meat ax to defense spending and slashes “discretionary” spending – on everything from education to homeland security – by as much as 10 percent.

Economists and politicians, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, have warned it would almost certainly wipe out any progress the White House has made in reviving the economy and creating jobs.

Concern about the fiscal cliff was among the factors driving down stock prices sharply in a post-election slump. The Dow Jones industrial average was down nearly 300 points in its biggest one-day slump in nearly a year, pushing the benchmark index below the 13,000 level before it recovered slightly.

Recent reports have shown the economy picking up strength. Growth in U.S. gross domestic product, though still sluggish, picked up to a 2.0 percent annual pace in the third quarter from a 1.3 percent rate in the second. After a pause this spring, the pace of hiring picked up this summer, with employers now adding some 175,000 new jobs a month to payrolls. Consumers are spending more on big-ticket items, like cars and appliances.

A prolonged budget impasse would reverse those gains. The hit to consumer spending from higher taxes, along with the loss of government spending, would knock 3 to 4 percent from GDP, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Related: Stocks plunge on worries about fiscal cliff, Europe

“If we go back into recession, we will likely pull the global economy with us,” said Ameriprise Financial   economist Russell Price. “The longer a (budget) deal takes, the longer the economy suffers. It’s just that simple.”

In their election night speeches, both Obama and Romney hinted that members of the newly elected Congress, who have been gridlocked over the issue for months, need to cross party lines to tackle the problem when they resume business next week.

“In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties, to meet the challenges we can only solve together,” Obama said.  “We are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe.”

“At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing,” Romney said. “Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.”

There are some broad signs that a congressional compromise is possible before year-end. An influential group of business economists recently indicated support for some new tax increases to balance the budget. Obama and some Senate Democrats have indicated further cuts are needed in large entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, by far the biggest contributors to budget deficits.

A major flash point remains over the White House’s insistence on raising tax rates for the wealthiest Americans – those earning $250,000 or more. The White House recently renewed its threat to veto any budget deal that preserves Bush tax cuts for those high-income earners.

As both sides begin to look for a compromise, that contentious issue remains. Despite campaign spending of some $6 billion, voters re-elected a government with virtually the same political make-up as the one that has been deadlocked for years over tax policy.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Wednesday that House Republicans “want the president to succeed” and urged broad reform of the tax code. But he renewed his party’s opposition to raising tax rates on the upper end of the income ladder.

“We’re willing to accept new revenues under the right conditions,” he said. “(But) feeding the growth of government with higher tax rates won’t solve the problem.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he was willing to negotiate with Republicans any time on any issue.

“We have to sit down and go to work on it now, not wait. This was really the message the American people sent,” Reid said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

If the House remains dug in over the issue of tax increases, compromise with Senate Democrats and the White House will be difficult to reach – even if it means reversing recent progress in mending the economy.

“With neither party gaining much political capital during the elections, both have little choice but to strive for a compromise that prevents the hikes in taxes and cuts in government spending that are due to start sucking $600 billion, or 4 percent of GDP, out of the economy early next year,” economists Paul Dales and Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics wrote to clients Wednesday.

Last minute deal?
Ashworth and Dales believe that the impasse will likely be broken at the last minute as Democrats agree to extend the tax cuts for high-income earners and Republicans agree to delay spending cuts.

“So although another recession will probably be avoided, postponing the cliff without tackling the underlying long-term fiscal problems will undoubtedly lead to more credit ratings downgrades early next year,” they said.

The U.S. government’s failure to get its fiscal house in order after political gridlock set in during the summer of 2011 prompted Standard & Poor’s to take the historic step of downgrading the U.S. credit rating from AAA+, its highest, to AAA. Ratings agency Fitch said Wednesday it might follow suit if a pact is not reached quickly.

Some aren’t so sure a compromise will be reached in the lame-duck session.

“The House Republicans are not going to vote for an increase in marginal tax rates,” Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman in the George W. Bush administration, told CNBC. “They’re not going to do it. This is what they believe in. This is their economic policy. They don’t want to see higher tax rates. And they believe it’s bad for the economy.”

Given that resistance, some political observers suggest that the White House may let the budget impasse extend through the first of the year, allowing spending cuts and tax increases kick in.

At that point, with rates at much higher, pre-Bush levels, Obama and Senate Democrats could propose large “tax cuts” – for everyone except the wealthiest – that would still leave revenues higher than they are under current law. That strategy would, in effect, amount to a game of chicken, with the economy the biggest potential loser.

The impact could take time to unfold. While clearly dire in the long run, the economic damage from combined tax increases and spending cuts would be felt gradually in the early months of 2013, according to Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former economic adviser to the Obama administration.

“The way to think about the fiscal cliff is more of a slope,” he said. “Just going over the fiscal cliff and reversing yourself pretty quickly – the fiscal bungee jump – I don’t think it’s a good thing, but that’s not recessionary.”

Even is a deal if reached, the budget process faces yet another monkey wrench early next year: the looming expiration of the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling. The once-routine process of raising the government’s legal borrowing created the political fracas that produced the fiscal cliff in the first place.

 

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A barrage of negative ads, more than $2 billion in spending and endless campaign stops all come down to this: Americans likely will elect a Congress as divided as the one they’ve been ranting about for two years.

In Tuesday’s voting, Republicans are poised to hold the 435-seat House, with Democrats expected to gain a small handful of seats at best from roughly 60 competitive races but fall well short of the net 25 needed for the majority. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is poised to wield the gavel again.

Senate Democrats are likely to maintain their narrow advantage as two Republican candidates’ clumsy comments about rape and abortion could cost the GOP Indiana and dampens its prospects of winning Missouri – two major roadblocks in the Republican path to the majority.

Republicans hoped the math would work in their favor – Democrats are defending 23 seats, the GOP 10 – but solid Democratic recruits and the close presidential race, added to the GOP candidate stumbles may ensure that Nevada Sen. Harry Reid remains majority leader.

“That’s extremely frustrating for what everyone thought was a Republican advantage,” Ron Bonjean, a Republican consultant and former top Capitol Hill aide, said of the developments in Indiana and Missouri.

No matter who wins the presidency – President Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney – the nation’s chief executive will be dealing with a Congress no closer to bridging the ideological chasm and showing no inclination to end the months of dysfunction. Tea party numbers are certain to tick up in the Senate with Republican Ted Cruz heavily favored in Texas and Deb Fischer looking to grab the Nebraska seat.

In the House, the movement that propelled the GOP to the majority in 2010 will be even more emboldened even if a few of the big-name tea partiers lose.

Sal Russo, head of the Tea Party Express, likened the group to the anti-Vietnam War movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s that he said remade the Democratic Party. He envisions the same with the GOP.

“In the sense that the anti-war movement brought out millions of people that had not been involved in politics and they became engaged in a material way,” Russo said in an interview as he headed to what he expects will be a victory party for Cruz in Texas.

The Democratic Party, he insists, has never been the same and neither will the GOP after the influx of tea partiers.

When the Senate votes are counted, moderate Republicans and Democrats from Massachusetts and Montana could be gone, leaving the chamber with just a handful of the lawmakers inclined to reach across the aisle. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine decided to retire earlier this year, frustrated with the partisan gridlock in Congress.

New England’s three other GOP senators are New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, Maine’s Susan Collins and Massachusetts’ Scott Brown, now an underdog against Democrat Elizabeth Warren in a race for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat.

“The few Republicans who are in office in New England are an endangered species,” said veteran Democratic strategist Dan Payne, who is working for independent Angus King. “Their party has shifted so far to the right.”

King is favored to win the three-way race for Snowe’s seat.

A Bloomberg poll in September found that 55 percent of Americans said Congress will continue to be an impediment no matter who is elected president. Just 32 percent said Congress would get the message and work together.

Democratic strategist Steve McMahon said he worries that with a divided Congress “we can probably expect hyper partisanship and gridlock everywhere. It seems like Americans can expect more of the same.”

The other certainty is neither Obama nor Romney will have much of a mandate based on the razor-thin presidential race and the likelihood that the majority party in the Senate will be nowhere near a filibuster-proof majority.

“Neither candidate will be able to claim that voters endorsed a clear and specific plan for balancing the budget because neither of them offered such a plan,” said John J. Pitney, a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College.

Republican strategist Terry Holt said a newly elected president who has the will could put their mark on policy and make some significant changes.

“But there is so much ideological division that you will have to risk your political life to get something done in the next Congress,” Holt said. “It is an all-or-nothing proposition by virtue of the divided nature of the country. You have to stick your neck out if you’re to get anything done.”

Weeks before the January inauguration, Congress will have to decide what to do about a $607 billion so-called fiscal cliff: the combination of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic, across-the-board spending reductions to domestic and defense programs. Economists warn that no action will plunge the country into another recession.

“At the end of the day, you have so many ticking time bombs,” said GOP strategist John Feehery. “Having just a complete gridlock is not an acceptable solution.”

Congress may decide in the lame-duck session to delay the major decisions to early next year, especially if Romney wins the presidency. But they can’t put off economic decisions for too long.

“The road to fiscal perdition is a cul-de-sac,” Pitney said.

 

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – On the eve of the 2012 elections, The Associated Press interviewed dozens of Americans to try to gauge the economic mood of the nation. People were asked about jobs, housing, gas prices, retirement and other issues. Among them were Amanda Folk and her husband, Chris, both 33, of Billings, Mont. The Folks have endured financial blows since the housing bubble burst five years ago. She’s back in school. He’s earning less money. They worry that their ability to regain financial security is blocked by corporations and their allies in Washington.

A home in foreclosure. Damaged credit. Vanished savings.

This isn’t exactly how the Folks envisioned life would be like in 2012.

Until about five years ago, the Folks were living comfortably with their two children, now 6 and 9, outside Boise, Idaho. They owned a home. Chris made a good living as a self-employed flooring installer. Weekend trips out of town were a pleasurable routine.

Once Boise-area home prices collapsed, though, the Folks’ lifestyle did, too. Work dried up for Chris. Amanda quit college. And they moved to Montana to be closer to her family.

An oil boom was boosting the eastern Montana economy, and Chris slowly rebuilt his flooring business. Amanda took a job as a nurse’s assistant.

But during the transition, the family’s income sank. They could no longer keep up with mortgage payments on their Idaho home. So for the past three years, the house has languished in foreclosure.

The family’s credit is shot. They blew through nearly $30,000 in savings, mainly on mortgage payments. Attorneys tell them their only way out is bankruptcy protection.

“Everything I worked so hard for is just slipping away,” Chris Folk says. “It just feels so far away to get back to where we were.”

The Folks can’t afford to save for retirement. They struggle to cover $1,280 in monthly rent. Gasoline expenses sometimes hit $600 a month to fuel Chris’ van, so he can reach out-of-town flooring jobs.

They say the economy seems tilted: Big banks wield power. Legislators bow to corporate interests. The rich get richer while the working class fall further behind.

They’re voting for President Barack Obama with no enthusiasm. Yet they say their discontent with his handling of the economy is outweighed by Mitt Romney’s corporate ties.

Amanda Folk is pursuing a communications degree at Montana State University, Billings. She’s “scared to death” she won’t find a job in public relations or a related field after graduation to repay $25,000 in student loans.

She hasn’t returned to their Idaho house in two years; she can’t bear it. Vandals have broken in. A former neighbor has taken to mowing the lawn. The couple is reluctant to rent the house for fear that their lender would end up with whatever money they collected.

They’ve cancelled their home phone and Internet service. Amanda Folk no longer shops at an organic food co-op.

They’re seeking a smaller place to rent. But they don’t want to move far. Their daughter has cycled through four elementary schools in the past few years.

“The hardest part is the psychological part of it,” Amanda Folk says. “Our kids don’t have any sense of security. My daughter still asks, ‘Are we going to be here next year?’”

 

There is hope. Take control of your own future so that the next recession has no bearing on your life. If you would like to know how to beat any future recessions, click on the links below.

 

 

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EGBOK

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“Everything’s Going to Be OK”

 

In the 1980’s my father was a news broadcaster on KABC radio in Los Angeles, as one half of the popular “Ken and Bob Company” morning time program.

During his tenure, my dad helped coin the phrase; “Egbok” (pronounced “Egg-Bawk”) for their radio program. Soon the saying caught on and it became a regional confession in dark times.

While a bit of an awkward anagram, it stands for “Everything’s Going to Be OK” and they used it often, especially when L.A. was hit with earthquakes, mudslides, fires, etc… generally when things looked dangerous or bleak throughout the city, and throughout the Nation & the world we lived in at that time.

My dad’s been gone for quite some time now, but I know if he was still with us he would be the first to offer this point of hope when it comes to the tragedies that are unfolding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.

While it is a mess along the seaboard, with the shortage of gas, lack of power, debris strewn neighborhoods, and flooded subways, we must always remember that we can get through anything if we pull together as a nation, and as citizens of the greatest country on earth.

Things are always going to happen to us, and sometimes it is promised to be quite negative. There will be tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, mudslides, and such, but with all the amazing people sacrificing their time and energies to see to it that we pull through this, and all other difficulties that present themselves, we know that in the end…EGBOK!

It will take time, but always remember that in time…“Everything’s going to be OK!”

Let’s pull together and help those on the East Coast get through this very difficult time.

To contribute to the effort to help and support those hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, please visit this website: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Weather/Hurricane/sandy.shtml

 

 

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