Financial
Higher costs pressured businesses in first quarter PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by The Associated Press   
Monday, 21 April 2014 06:16

NEW YORK (AP) — Rising costs for materials and labor appear to be pressuring businesses, according to a quarterly survey from the National Association of Business Economics.

During the first quarter of the year, 31 percent of businesses surveyed reported higher material costs, more than double the 15 percent that saw costs rise in the previous survey. Additionally, 35 percent reported rising wages and salaries at their businesses in the past three months, up from 23 percent in January.

Yet those who said they raised the prices they charge in the past three months remained unchanged at 20 percent, according to the latest NABE survey of 72 members, which was conducted between March 18 and April 1.

"It appears that businesses were not able to pass on costs increases, resulting in increased pressure on margins," the survey findings said.

The quarterly survey by NABE is intended to gauge business conditions at members' firms or industries. The April survey reflects first quarter results, as well as the near-term outlook.

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Michigan moves digital archive records to cloud PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press   
Sunday, 20 April 2014 07:58

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Archives of Michigan is using a state-of-the-art and inexpensive option — the Internet — to store and preserve a growing collection of digital records that includes everything from 40 years' worth of election results to an index of thousands of proposed designs for the state's quarter released 10 years ago.

The move to the cloud is expected to bolster a plan to help the public easily access some historical records without having to trek to the Archives' facility in Lansing. A cloud-based service being used by Michigan saves money and, archivists say, makes sure that important electronic records — documents, audio and video files — don't go obsolete as formats change.

The company Michigan contracted with in 2012, England-based Tessella, plans to release its first version of a public access interface on April 30. Within the next year, people will be able to visit the state website to access historical records stored with the company's Preservica technology.

For state officials, finding a way to store electronic records was crucial because more government records are being produced electronically — emails, photos, video and the like.

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Africa land grabs endanger elephants PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press   
Sunday, 20 April 2014 08:00

WASHINGTON (AP) — Political and military elites are seizing protected areas in one of Africa's last bastions for elephants, putting broad swaths of Zimbabwe at risk of becoming fronts for ivory poaching, according to a nonprofit research group's report that examines government collusion in wildlife trafficking.

Zimbabwe has maintained robust elephant populations compared with other countries on the continent. But economic penalties imposed by the United States and Europe have led Zimbabweans with ties to President Robert Mugabe's ruling party to find new methods of making money. The report, set for release Monday, says they may be turning to elephants' highly valued ivory tusks.

Zimbabwe's embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Born Free USA, an animal advocacy group, commissioned the report from Washington-based C4ADS to better understand the role organized crime and corrupt government officials play in ivory trafficking across Africa, said Adam Roberts, Born Free USA's chief executive officer.

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National energy boom blurs political battle lines PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press   
Sunday, 20 April 2014 07:56

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. energy boom is blurring the traditional political battle lines across the country.

Democrats are split between environmentalists and business and labor groups, with the proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline a major wedge.

Some deeply conservative areas are allying with conservationists against fracking, the drilling technique that's largely responsible for the boom.

The divide is most visible among Democrats in the nation's capital, where 11 Democratic senators wrote President Barack Obama this month urging him to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which is opposed by many environmental groups and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. The State Department said Friday that it was extending indefinitely the amount of time that federal agencies have to review the project, likely delaying a pipeline decision until after the November elections.

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