AP News


Median CEO pay crosses $10 million in 2013 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 07:11
NEW YORK — They’re the $10 million dollar men and women.
Propelled by a soaring stock market, the median pay package for a CEO rose above eight figures for the first time last year. The head of a typical large public company earned a record $10.5 million, an increase of 8.8 percent from $9.6 million in 2012, according to an Associated Press/Equilar pay study.
Last year was the fourth straight that CEO compensation rose following a decline during the Great Recession. The median CEO pay package climbed more than 50 percent over that stretch.  A chief executive now makes about 257 times the average worker’s salary, up sharply from 181 times in 2009.
The best paid CEO last year led an oilfield-services company. The highest paid female CEO was Carol Meyrowitz of discount retail giant TJX, owner of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. And the head of Monster Beverage got a monster of a raise.
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Iran judge summons Facebook CEO to court PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 07:08
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A judge in southern Iran has ordered Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear court to answer complaints by individuals who say Facebook-owned applications Instagram and Whatsapp violate their privacy, semiofficial news agency ISNA reported Tuesday.
It quoted Ruhollah Momen Nasab, an official with the paramilitary Basij force, as saying that the judge also ordered the two apps blocked.
Another Iranian court last week had ordered Instagram blocked over privacy concerns. However, users in the capital, Tehran, still could access both applications around noon Tuesday. In Iran, websites and Internet applications have sometimes been reported blocked but remained operational.
Facebook is already banned in the country, along with other social websites like Twitter and YouTube. However some senior leaders like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are active on Twitter.
While top officials have unfettered access to social media, Iran’s youth and technological-savvy citizens use proxy servers or other workarounds to bypass the controls.
The administration of moderate President Hassan Rouhani is opposed to blocking such websites before authorities create local alternatives. Social media has offered a new way for him and his administration to reach out to the West as it negotiates with world powers over the country’s contested nuclear program.
“We should see the cyber world as an opportunity,” Rouhani said last week, according to the official IRNA news agency. “Why are we so shaky? Why don’t we trust our youth?”
Hard-liners, meanwhile, accuse Rouhani of failing to stop the spread of what they deem as “decadent” Western culture in Iran.
 
Malaysia releases satellite data on missing jet PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 07:05
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Malaysian government on Tuesday released 45 pages of raw satellite data it used to determine that the missing jetliner crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, responding to demands for greater transparency by relatives of some of the 239 people on board.
But at least one independent expert said his initial impression was that the communication logs didn’t include key assumptions, algorithms and metadata needed to validate the investigation team’s conclusion that the plane flew south after dropping off radar screens 90 minutes into the flight.
“It’s a whole lot of stuff that is not very important to know,” said Michael Exner, a satellite engineer who has been intensively researching the calculations based on information released so far. “There are probably two or three pages of important stuff, the rest is just noise. It doesn’t add any value to our understanding.”
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U.S. suspends $3.5M in military aid to Thailand PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 23 May 2014 22:59
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is suspending $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand, its first punitive step against the Asian country following a military coup, the State Department announced Friday.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the department is still reviewing a further $7 million in direct U.S. assistance to Thailand, and an undetermined amount of aid from other global and regional programs.
The department on Friday also recommended Americans reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to political and social unrest and restrictions on movement, including a nighttime curfew.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced the review hours after Thursday’s military takeover in Thailand, a U.S. treaty ally and close military partner. Kerry said Thursday there was no justification for the coup and urged the immediate restoration of civilian government and a return to democracy.
Harf said the suspended programs pay for weapons sales and training for military officers.
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. Raymond Odierno spoke with his Thai counterpart, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the coup leader, by phone late Thursday and held a “constructive conversation,” said Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby.
“The general made it clear that we certainly expect a return to democratic principles in Thailand just as soon as possible,” Kirby said.
But the declaration of the coup has underscored the limited leverage the U.S. has with Thailand, despite their longstanding ties.
After the military declared martial law on Tuesday, Washington had urged an early return to democracy and free and fair elections, only for Prayuth to abruptly seize power.
The new junta consolidated its control Friday.
Ousted members of the former government surrendered and soldiers forcefully dispersed hundreds of anti-coup activists who defied a ban on large-scale gatherings to protest the army’s action.
After Thailand’s last military coup in 2006, the U.S. suspended programs for a year-and-a-half, totaling more than $29 million, according to the Congressional Research Service. Some programs deemed to be in the U.S. interest continued.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is suspending $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand, its first punitive step against the Asian country following a military coup, the State Department announced Friday.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the department is still reviewing a further $7 million in direct U.S. assistance to Thailand, and an undetermined amount of aid from other global and regional programs.
The department on Friday also recommended Americans reconsider any non-essential travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to political and social unrest and restrictions on movement, including a nighttime curfew.
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Poll: Sign-ups rise but little love for health law PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Friday, 23 May 2014 21:18
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama celebrated when sign-ups for his health care law topped 8 million, far exceeding expectations after a slipshod launch. Most Americans, however, remain unimpressed.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that public opinion continues to run deeply negative on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to cover the uninsured. Forty-three percent oppose the law, compared with just 28 percent in support.
The pattern illustrates why the health care law remains a favored target for Republicans seeking a Senate majority in the midterm elections.
The poll does have a bright spot for the administration: Those who signed up for coverage aren’t reeling from sticker shock. Most said they found premiums in line with what they expected, or even lower.
But even that was diminished by another finding: More than one-third of those who said they or someone in their household tried to enroll, were ultimately unable to do so. For the White House, it’s an uncomfortable reminder of the technical problems that paralyzed the HealthCare.gov website for weeks after it went live last fall.
The example of business owner Henry Kulik shows some of the cross-currents of public opinion.
Kulik is disabled as a result of Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition that destroys the brain’s ability to control muscle movement. His family runs several stores that sell ice cream and other summer refreshments in the Philadelphia area.
Kulik says he doesn’t believe the federal government should require people to carry health insurance, as the law does. And he can understand worries about the cost to taxpayers. On the other hand, he’s been able to slash what his family pays for health insurance by purchasing coverage through the law’s new insurance markets and by taking advantage of tax credits to lower the premiums.
Before the law, his family was paying $2,400 a month. Now it’s several hundred dollars. And Kulik says the insurance for himself, his wife, and three children is comparable to what they had before.
“I think there is a lot of misinformation,” he says.
Obama’s health care law offers subsidized private coverage to middle-class people who have no health plan on the job, and it expands Medicaid to pick up low-income uninsured adults. But last fall’s launch of new health insurance markets was paralyzed technical problems. The debacle contributed to the departure of health secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
After Congress approved the law in 2010, a political backlash over its Medicare cuts, tax increases and new regulations helped Republicans win the House. This fall the GOP is following a similar strategy with the Senate at stake.
“Republicans hold an advantage on this issue among people who feel strongly about it,” said Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health, who follows opinion trends on health care.
Still, just 17 percent of poll respondents said the law will be completely repealed.  While that represents an increase of 5 percentage points from March, the poll found that 67 percent believe the health law will be implemented with changes, whether major or superficial.
In Walhalla, South Carolina, digital publisher Greg Freeman says he’s no big fan of the president. But now into his late 30s, Freeman thought it would be a good idea to get health insurance through the new law. It took several tries to navigate the federal enrollment website, but Freeman says he’s generally satisfied. His main complaint is that his new doctor is about an hour away, in a bigger town to the east.
“I can see if some of the kinks can be worked out this could be a very positive thing in the long run,” Freeman said. “We should be in a position to be healthiest country in the world.”
The poll found that sign-up success translated into higher approval for the health care law. Among those who succeeded in purchasing coverage, 51 percent back the law, compared with 30 percent among those who tried to sign up and weren’t successful.
In the tiny coastal Oregon town of Reedsport, locksmith Marvin Plunkett says he’s disappointed that public opinion about the law remains so negative. He was able to gain coverage through the state’s expanded Medicaid program.
Plunkett recalled former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s discredited charge that the law would set up “death panels” to judge whether seniors should receive medical care. “The truth about it is pretty mundane,” he said. “But the lies are really exciting and emotional.”
The AP-GfK Poll was conducted May 16-19, 2014 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population.  It involved online interviews with 1,354 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points for all respondents.
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated when sign-ups for his health care law topped 8 million, far exceeding expectations after a slipshod launch. Most Americans, however, remain unimpressed.
A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that public opinion continues to run deeply negative on the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature effort to cover the uninsured. Forty-three percent oppose the law, compared with just 28 percent in support.
The pattern illustrates why the health care law remains a favored target for Republicans seeking a Senate majority in the midterm elections.
The poll does have a bright spot for the administration: Those who signed up for coverage aren’t reeling from sticker shock. Most said they found premiums in line with what they expected, or even lower.
But even that was diminished by another finding: More than one-third of those who said they or someone in their household tried to enroll, were ultimately unable to do so. For the White House, it’s an uncomfortable reminder of the technical problems that paralyzed the HealthCare.gov website for weeks after it went live last fall.
Read more...
 
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