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Posts tagged ‘Budget’

Ros-Lehtinen: Venezuelan Regime Continuing ‘Assault on Democracy’.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says she is concerned there is going to be more bloodshed in Venezuela after three people died in fresh protests.

“[President Nicolas] Maduro is taking advantage of this to continue his assault on democracy. In fact, today, the latest is this: he’s called the peaceful protesters a name that you know is going to justify him taking further criminal action, an armed terrorist insurgency. Now these are peaceful student activists. They’re not armed. I fear the worst is going to be happening in the coming days,” the Florida Republican told Newsmax TV’s John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on “America’s Forum” Friday.

Story continues below video.

Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Florida’s 27th congressional district, became the first Cuban American and Latina in Congress when she was elected in 1989. She was also the first Republican woman elected to the House from Florida, and is currently the most senior Republican woman in the House.

She is highly critical of President Barack Obama’s policy on Venezuela, saying, “[Maduro] wants to take over Venezuela in the same way that the Castro brothers have, and that’s why this administration looking the other way is just not an answer. We have no foreign policy to speak of, no real policy direction, especially in Latin America.

“I’ve written a letter to the president and it was signed in a bipartisan manner, calling on the president to take action similar to the action that he’s taken against Russian human rights violators in the Ukraine, but knowing that the president will probably not take action on Venezuela. I have filed a bill that does the same thing. It would deny visas so that they can’t come to the United States, we’d be blocking property, we would freeze the assets, and prohibit all sorts of financial transactions to members of the Maduro regime who are responsible for the commission of serious human rights abuses against the citizens of Venezuela.”

Ros-Lehtinen continued, “The assembly of citizens in Venezuela is getting greatly curtailed. They’re limiting the access to print and broadcast media and what we’ve seen is that one of the things that we should do is reduce imports of Venezuelan oil. This would prevent Maduro regime from using the profits from the sale of petroleum to further oppress and further violate the human rights of the people of Venezuela. ”

She also had harsh words for the Organization of American States, calling it dysfunctional. “Even more so than the United Nations and we fund them — we fund 40 percent of this terrible body. They get 40 percent of their budget from you, the American taxpayer, and our bill says that our permanent representative to the OAS has got to use the voice, the vote, the influence, to defend what has long been the factor that has entered into U.S. and Latin American relations, which is the inter-American democratic charter,” she said.

“We’re doing all we can to help the folks who have been detained, the peaceful protestors, and just like the Cuban regime Maduro likes to blame the U.S. for his own failure. But the reality is that Maduro’s the one who has been responsible for the trampling of human rights. Do you know the economic situation, the food shortages, high inflation? This is a country that had all the natural resources and all the money and yet people don’t even have toilet paper. ”

Ros-Lehtinen said she is also concerned about organized crime from Latin America spilling over into the U.S. “What we have seen is that when the U.S. is looking the other way, when we’re looking at what’s happing in Ukraine, we’re looking at Syria, we’re looking at Iran—as well we should because those are problem areas for us— but what happens is that the drug traffickers and the cartels and the thugs, including terrorists, will make their way into the United States,” she warned.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


By Lisa Barron

How To Help Your Kid Prepare For College.

Rachel Cruze

For a lot of parents, sending their kids off to college is a bittersweet experience. It’s a battle between being proud of their son or daughter for taking this next step and thinking back on how fast the time has gone—and how it seems like just yesterday that they were 2 years old.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was stepping onto a college campus for the first time, and I remember how thankful I was for the effort my parents put into preparing me for that experience. But I think a lot of teenagers head to college without any idea about how money works. Ten years from now, they’ll more than likely be loaded up with student loan bills. It’s a scary trend that keeps getting worse.

Don’t let that happen to your college kid. Help them understand these issues before they step into that first class.

Budget, Budget, Budget. If you haven’t been using a budget, it will be difficult to convince your kid to use one. So start by making sure you understand budgeting and have begun to use it as part of your financial plan. Then, just walk them through the process—spending all of their money on paper and on purpose before each month begins. Everything should be broken into categories—food, gas, clothing, etc.

Independence Means Responsibility. Stepping out on your own is a big deal, but it’s not all fun and games. Living away from home means you have to take care of yourself. Do your best to prepare your son or daughter for what that means. Food doesn’t just drop out of the sky, and gas doesn’t magically appear in their car. Independence means responsibility.

College Isn’t Cheap. Even if your kid is going to a small community college, they’ll still probably have a few thousand dollars of tuition to pay. If you break it down, one class can cost $1,000 at the very minimum! And that doesn’t even include books. That means skipping class or blowing off homework is a waste of money—and a big fat dent in the GPA.

Choose a Major Wisely. Help your teenager find his or her passion. This isn’t a must before they step on campus, but simply plant a seed that gets them started thinking about what they want to do with their life. You don’t want them graduating with a degree that leaves them unfulfilled or unable to find a job.

Friends Matter. New friends mean new opportunities and new social situations. Who you hang out with definitely influences how you spend money and the decisions you make. Without being overbearing, remind them how important it is to have positive friends who build them up instead of bringing them down.

If your soon-to-be college student doesn’t seem to care, it might just take them messing up a few times to understand how important it is to have a plan for their money. They’ll come around quicker than you think once they have that first-hand experience.

Remember, you can make all the right decisions and give all the right advice, and it’s still possible that they will mess up. As a parent, just be there for support and to reinforce these principles throughout their college experience.

Growing up as Dave Ramsey‘s kid, Rachel Cruze learned the basic principles of money at an early age. She travels across the country teaching those same principles, in a personal and passionate message of money and hope, to teens and young adults. Rachel’s also the host of Generation Change, a course that teaches teens about money and empowers them with the skills they need to become financially responsible adults. To find out more about Rachel, or follow her on Twitter at @RachelCruze.

Publication date: June 18, 2013

Army Warns of Steeper Reductions in Troop Numbers.

Senior Army officials are warning they may have to cut as many as 100,000 more soldiers over the next decade unless the automatic spending reductions forcing the military services to slash their budgets are stopped.

Army Secretary John McHugh tells a Senate committee Tuesday the losses would undermine the service’s ability to be prepared for wartime missions. He says the Army is already planning to trim its ranks by 80,000 active duty troops due to previously planned budget reductions approved by Congress in 2011.

But if the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, continue into future years, thousands more soldiers, including reservists, will have to be let go due to a lack of money, McHugh says.

The Army’s share of the automatic cuts over the next six month is $7.6 billion.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Budget: Extra £2.5bn Boost For Spending.


  • Budget: Extra £2.5bn Boost For SpendingView PhotoBudget: Extra £2.5bn Boost For Spending

George Osborne has ordered government departments to slash their budgets by another £2.5bn to fund extra capital spending.

The Chancellor and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told ministers that they can afford to trim another 1% a year until 2015.

Mr Osborne said at Cabinet that it was possible because departments have under-spent their budgets this year by more than the average.

The extra cuts will not hit the departments protected by ring-fences – the NHS, international aid and schools. HMRC is also protected, as is the police budget for the first year.

There is no detail yet on how the extra cash will be spent, but it will help Mr Osborne satisfy critics that he is not doing enough to boost growth.

The announcement comes on the eve of his Budget, in which he is under intense pressure to inject some life into an economy teetering on the brink of a triple-dip recession.

The Ministry of Defence will be allowed to roll over unspent money to compensate for the cuts being demanded from the department.

But others including environment, energy, transport and justice will have to find the 1% annual savings to day-to-day resource budgets in full.


Sky NewsSky News

Report: Megachurches Thriving in Tough Economic Times.


Why do megachurches keep thriving?

Despite the tough economy, many of the nation’s largest churches are thriving, with increased offerings and plans to hire more staff, a new survey shows.

Just 3 percent of churches with 2,000 or more attendance surveyed by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based church think tank, said they were affected “very negatively” by the economy in recent years. Close to half–47 percent–said they were affected “somewhat negatively,” but one-third said they were not affected at all.

The vast majority–83 percent–of large churches expected to meet their budgets in 2012 or their current fiscal year. A majority of large churches also reported that offerings during worship services were higher last year than in 2011.

Even though some churches have ministries that provide other income, such as schools or wedding chapel rentals, an average of 96 percent of their budget comes from members’ donations.

All of the large churches reported that they receive some of their donations electronically, including online, via bank transfer or through a lobby kiosk. One in five of them receive between 31 and 60 percent of their offerings electronically.

Most megachurches surveyed spend 10 percent or more of their budget beyond their congregation on causes ranging from local soup kitchens to world missions.

Another sign of economic well-being: Most large churches report that they expect to give staff at least a 1 percent raise in the next budget cycle. Most also expect to modestly increase staff, and hardly any–just 6 percent–expect to reduce the number of staffers.

The survey of 729 church leaders was released Tuesday (Feb. 19).


Portugal Socialists challenge 2013 budget in court.

LISBON (Reuters) – Lawmakers from Portugal‘s opposition Socialist party challenged the 2013 budget in the Constitutional Court on Friday, a move that could hamper government efforts to meet the terms of the country’s bailout.

The government already faces rising public anger at the largest tax hikes in memory, due to take effect this year, and legal challenges to the budget could raise uncertainty regarding the bailed-out country’s finances.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva sent a similar but unrelated query to the same court this week.

“There are fundamental principles at stake that are essential, such as confidence, equality over the distribution of public responsibilities and the principle of proportionality,” Socialist lawmaker Alberto Costa told journalists.

The Socialist Party was in government when Portugal first requested the 78-billion-euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in 2011 but opposes the current government’s strategy for meeting the aid deal’s demands.

Any decision by the court to overturn measures in the budget would be a setback to government efforts to ensure strict fiscal goals set out under the aid package are met.

Costa said the lawmakers had posed questions for the court related to social security and pension rights and taxation.

“We are certain the court will bring good news to the people who have been treated unjustly by this budget,” he said, adding he believed the court could deliver a quick decision.

Opponents of the austere 2013 budget say it undermines many basic rights for Portuguese workers because it cuts pension and civil servants’ salaries and chips away at welfare benefits.

The risks the legal challenges pose are difficult to quantify but the court ruled against the government last year over a measure to cut holiday bonus payments to civil servants, forcing it to find alternative belt-tightening measures.

Last year, the court’s decision came six months after the budget came into effect. It has said it has no timeframe for a decision regarding the 2013 budget.

Some 50 of the Socialists‘ 74 lawmakers signed the request sent to the court, including party leader Antonio Jose Seguro. Last year only 18 Socialist lawmakers signed the challenge to the court, breaking with the party’s leadership.

Costa said it would be up to the government to decide the political implications if measures are ruled inconstitutional.

More challenges to the budget are likely to be presented to the court by the leftist Left Bloc and Communist parties.

The budget measures challenged by the president and the Socialists amount to about 1.6 billion euros, or 1 percent of gross domestic product.

(Reporting By Daniel Alvarenga, Sergio Goncalves and Axel Bugge; Editing by Catherine Evans)



New Year resolutions and your finances.


Nimi AkinkugbeNimi Akinkugbe

A New Year brings with it a sense of renewal and the age-old tradition of New Year resolutions helps you to focus on making positive changes in various aspects of your life. Many people make New Year resolutions to exercise regularly and maintain a healthier lifestyle, to be more prayerful, to be a better mother, father, sister or friend and have already abandoned them before the end of January. One resolution that is often ignored is to focus on improving personal finances. Try to initiate a few of these financial New Year resolutions in 2013; limit yourself to say three or four that you think you can keep.

An annual review is necessary because finances are dynamic; needs and goals change, family situations change, jobs change, incomes increase, children are born, others are off to college. Do you have a clear picture of where you stand financially? Start by gathering and organising your paperwork: bank statements,investment certificates, insurance policies, title deeds, your will, and other financial documents.

To determine your net worth, list and add up all your assets, that is, what you own including cash, mutual fundssavings and investment accounts, valuable personal possessions and the value of your home and subtract your liabilities or what you owe, such as your mortgage, car loans and other debt.

If your debts exceed your assets, do not despair; that is the purpose of the exercise. You now need to see where you can make adjustments. Keeping track of your net worth is a good indicator of how effectively you are managing your money over time.

Have you set short, medium and long-term financial goals? Are they still appropriate for your current situation? Your short-term financial goals could include saving for a car, or a vacation whilst longer-term goals might be making a down payment on a new home in three years, or planning for retirement in 10 years. If you are planning a family or have very young children, you could start an education fund to cover school or university fees. Setting clear goals brings you closer to achieving them.

Getting out of debt is another key step to taking control of your finances. List all your debt, and prioritise by focusing on the most expensive debt with the highest interest rates first. Having your debt under control gives you more freedom to do other things. It will take some sacrifice, but it is worth the effort.

Create a budget. Once you know what you owe, a budget will help you deal with your debt systematically. Budgeting is one of the most important tools for financial security and to plan ahead could mean the difference between achieving financial freedom and experiencing financial failure. A good budget will help you to plan and monitor your expenses so you can identify where your money goes and where to cut back if necessary. If you don’t already have a budget, try to make one, and stick to it.

Improve your knowledge of money matters through books, magazines, newspapers, seminars, and by seeking professional advice. Whether your interest is in learning how to manage your money, how to get out of debt or how to plan for your children’s education, there is a plethora of information that will guide you and put you in control of your finances, bringing you closer to achieving your goals.

If you don’t already have an emergency fund, think seriously about building one. Try to have at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a safe, accessible, interest bearing money market account. If you are suddenly faced with unexpected job loss, major car repairs, or medical expenses, you will be better prepared to cope if you have this financial cushion to fall back on.

Saving is critical to financial success. Try to develop a strict habit of setting aside a minimum of 10 per cent of your income each month for savings or investment purposes. You will be surprised to discover that over time, even small amounts add up. Don’t wait until all your other commitments have been met; automate your savings by putting a direct debit in place so that you won’t be tempted to spend all your income.

Make it a priority in 2013 to invest for the future. Many stocks continue to sell at a discount to their true value. In spite of market volatility, continue to invest in the stock market if you have a long time frame, such as for your children’s education or for your retirement. However, do pay attention to your asset allocation and ensure that you are well diversified across the primary asset classes including cash, bonds, stocks and real estate.

Did you add to your retirement nest egg this past year? Every single year counts; Most of your retirement income will have to come from the money you set aside and invest today. If you haven’t done so already, open a retirement savings account and in addition, start to build an investment portfolio.

Have you made a will? I know it sounds like a morbid way to start the New Year, but do you have a will or a living trust? Putting your last wishes down in writing should be a top priority, particularly if you have dependants. Most parents have this on a ‘to do’ list but they often leave it on the back burner. Knowing your children will be cared and provided for should anything happen to you, will give you a huge sense of relief. If you already have a will, it is a good time to review and update it to make sure you have included any recently acquired assets or new beneficiaries.

Giving is a powerful and effective way to change people’s lives for the better whilst at the same time giving you financial freedom. Determine a cause or charity that you would like to be involved with and identify ways in which you can give back to the community.

Remember…it’s not all about money.

Just one last bit of advice: In all these money matters, do remember that the best and most fulfilling things in life have nothing to do with money. Remember to count your blessings, not just your money! May God grant you good health, happiness, wisdom, security and peace in abundance in the year 2013 and beyond. Happy NEW YEAR!



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