- - Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Big moves hit new low

The share of Americans who made a long-distance move dropped to a record low last year as many young adults, struggling without jobs, opted to stay put rather than relocate to other parts of the U.S.

New census figures show about 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, or more than 38 million people, made some kind of move to a new home. Only in 2008 was the overall mobility rate lower, at 11.9 percent.

The share of moves across states fell to 1.4 percent, or roughly 4.3 million people. It was the lowest level since the government began tracking movers in 1948.

Census data released Tuesday show large metropolitan areas in Sun Belt states continued to attract some new residents, but at a slower pace.


Obama honors quake victims

President Obama is honoring the memory of those who died in the Haiti earthquake as the first anniversary of the disaster approaches.

In a statement released ahead of Wednesday’s anniversary, Mr. Obama says he continues to be inspired by the Haitian people, who he says faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary faith and courage. The earthquake devastated Haiti’s capital and is estimated to have killed more than 230,000 people.

Mr. Obama says there has not been enough progress made to help Haiti recover from the earthquake, and there are still too many people living in tents and too much rubble on the streets.

The president says that while the people of Haiti must lead the way forward as they rebuild their country, they will have an “enduring partner” in the United States.


State lawmakers weigh big tax increase

SPRINGFIELD | A major Illinois tax increase has jumped its first legislative hurdle, setting the stage for a vote by the entire Illinois House.

The tax plan was approved 7-5 Tuesday by the House Revenue Committee.

It would temporarily bump the state’s personal income-tax rate to 5 percent, up from 3 percent now. That’s a slightly smaller increase than Democratic leaders originally proposed.

Legislative leaders agreed to impose strict caps on spending. If spending grows more than 2 percent a year, the income-tax increase would immediately be canceled, officials said.

The tax package could generate about $7 billion a year, enough to balance the annual budget and begin chipping away at a backlog of unpaid bills.


Air bags for planes possible

Air bags and shoulder-lap seat belts have been saving lives in automobile crashes for decades. Now federal safety officials are asking whether it’s time aviation caught up.

The National Transportation Safety Board is considering whether some planes should be equipped with air bags and shoulder belts.

The board was set to release a study Tuesday of 138 accidents involving general-aviation planes equipped with air bags. It is expected to highlight several cases in which air bags were critical to the survival of the pilot or passengers.

General-aviation aircraft range from single-engine propeller planes to multiengine business jets to helicopters. The category includes all aircraft except scheduled airline service and military aircraft.

AmSafe Inc. of Phoenix, the only U.S. maker of air bags for planes, has documented 20 cases over the past several years in which its air bags were important to the survival of general-aviation pilots and passengers, Joseph Smith, an AmSafe manager, said in an interview.

There were 474 people killed in 1,474 general-aviation accidents in 2009, the latest year for which NTSB figures are available.

Air bags have been required in cars since the mid-1990s, and shoulder-harness seat belts even longer - but not in small planes.


Bias complaints hit record after law change

Federal job-bias complaints climbed to record levels last year, led by a surge in workers claiming discrimination based on disability.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says charges of disability discrimination rose by about 17 percent.

Overall, the agency received nearly 100,000 claims during the 2010 fiscal year. That’s a 7 percent increase and the highest number in its 45-year history.

The spike in disability claims began in the months after Congress approved changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2009. The changes made it easier for people with treatable conditions like epilepsy, cancer or mental illness to claim they are disabled.

Discrimination claims increased in other categories, too. Race discrimination claims rose 7 percent, while retaliation claims jumped 8 percent.


Lawmakers hail auto recovery

DETROIT | House Democrats are praising U.S. automakers for rebounding after the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.

Lawmakers have had close views of new cars and trucks built by GM, Ford and Chrysler at the Detroit auto show. The House members say the gleaming electric cars, fuel-efficient sedans and hot-selling trucks vindicate their decision to rescue the car companies.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, says the investment of taxpayers is “paying off.” He was joined by members of Michigan’s congressional delegation for the second straight year at the auto show.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, had planned to join Mr. Hoyer, but canceled after Saturday’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona Democrat.

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