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Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 162,000 in March, and the unemploymentrate held at 9.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.Temporary help services and health care continued to add jobs over the month.Employment in federal government also rose, reflecting the hiring of temporaryworkers for Census 2010. Employment continued to decline in financial activi-ties and in information.Household Survey DataIn March, the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 15.0 million,and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent. (See table A-1.)Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.0 per-cent), adult women (8.0 percent), teenagers (26.1 percent), whites (8.8 per-cent), blacks (16.5 percent), and Hispanics (12.6 percent) showed little or nochange in March. The jobless rate for Asians was 7.5 percent, not seasonallyadjusted. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) in-creased by 414,000 over the month to 6.5 million. In March, 44.1 percent ofunemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more. (See table A-12.)The civilian labor force participation rate (64.9 percent) and the employment-population ratio (58.6 percent) continued to edge up in March. (See table A-1.)The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes re-ferred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased to 9.1 million in March.These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut backor because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in March,compared with 2.1 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available forwork, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were notcounted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks pre-ceding the survey. (See table A-16.)Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers inMarch, up by 309,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they be-lieve no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3 million persons margin-ally attached to the labor force had not searched for work in the 4 weeks pre-ceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibili-ties. (See table A-16.)Establishment Survey DataIn March, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 162,000. Job growth continued in tem-porary help services and in health care. Federal government employment increaseddue to the hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010. Job losses continued infinancial activities and in information. (See table B-1.)Temporary help services added 40,000 jobs in March. Since September 2009, tempor-ary help services employment has risen by 313,000.Employment in health care continued to increase in March (27,000), with the larg-est gains occurring in ambulatory health care services (16,000) and in nursing andresidential care facilities (9,000).In March, employment in mining increased by 8,000. Monthly job gains in mininghave averaged 6,000 over the past 5 months.Employment in federal government was up over the month, reflecting the hiring of48,000 temporary workers for the decennial census.Manufacturing employment continued to trend up in March (17,000); the industry hasadded 45,000 jobs in the first 3 months of 2010. Over the month, job gains wereconcentrated in fabricated metal products (9,000) and in machinery (6,000).Employment in construction held steady (15,000) in March. The industry had lost anaverage of 72,000 jobs per month in the prior 12 months.Over the month, employment changed little in transportation and warehousing,leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and wholesale trade.In March, financial activities shed 21,000 jobs, with the largest losses occur-ring in insurance carriers and related activities (-9,000). Employment in theinformation industry decreased by 12,000.The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was up by0.1 hour to 34.0 hours in March. The manufacturing workweek for all employeesincreased by 0.2 hour to 39.9 hours, and factory overtime was up by 0.1 hourover the month. In March, the average workweek for production and nonsuper-visory employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.2 hour to 33.3hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)In March, average hourly earnings of all employees on private nonfarm payrollsfell by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $22.47, following a 4-cent gain in February.Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 1.8 percent. InMarch, average hourly earnings of private production and nonsupervisory employ-ees fell by 2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $18.90. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from-26,000 to +14,000, and the change for February was revised from -36,000 to-14,000.Source: US Dept of Labor. 4.2.2010
ASBURY PARK – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties is hosting an open house and book signing Saturday, Nov. 3 at the agency’s new location at 305 Bond St.The festivities begin at 4 p.m. and kick off with a ribbon-tying ceremony to articulate the message that the organization is about strengthening bonds and not breaking ties. Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson and other community leaders and members will be in attendance.“We are hosting this event to welcome families, the community, and our Bigs and Littles to our new home in Asbury Park,” said Executive Director William Salcedo. “We are also very excited to launch the newly published book written by a group of our Littles titled No Rules…Just Writing.”The organization partnered with Story Tellers and words! bookstore, both of Asbury Park, to offer a summer creative writing program. The program offered participating Littles the opportunity to write their own stories that were compiled into a published anthology. The Little authors will be on hand to sign the books, which will be available for a suggested donation of $10.Light refreshments will be served and attendees will have a chance to win a Monmouth Mall Gift Card if they RSVP and attend the event. To RSVP or for more information call 732-544-2224, Ext. 0 or email [email protected] Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties is a donor and volunteer supported non-profit organization that has been matching children facing adversity with volunteer positive role models for one-to-one mentoring since 1976.
By Jay Cook |MIDDLETOWN – Citing outdated infrastructure, shoddy HVAC service and a dearth of parking, township officials took the next step earlier this week toward the development of a new town hall.After reviewing the 50-plus page report compiled by Middletown planners during their examination of the property, the Township Committee signed off on designating the greater 1 Kings Highway plot as “an area in need of redevelopment” at the June 19 committee meeting.“This goes to show that if you do the planning right, you can really take the sting out” of a big project, said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger by phone Tuesday afternoon.Scharfenberger echoed earlier statements from township officials at a June 7 planning board meeting when the study was introduced.When presenting the report to the planning board, township administrator Anthony Mercantante said Middletown has “come to the conclusion that there’s no viable way to rehabilitate this building or the other buildings on site to be a functional municipal building.”In early April, the governing body asked the Middletown Planning Board to investigate whether or not the existing town hall, planning department and non-profit EMS service buildings meet the criteria for an area in need of redevelopment.Through that study, the planning department describes in detail how the 1 Kings Highway, 3 Penelope Lane, and 1 Penelope Lane locations meet state-mandated criteria for areas in need of redevelopment, said Sanyogita Chavan, director of planning.Built in 1961, the existing main town hall complex spans approximately 15,700 square feet of space at its 1 Kings Highway location. That location alone met a bevy of different redevelopment guidelines.A blue tarp currently sits atop the building covering a leaky section of the roofing. According to the report, there were also instances of flooding and sewage backup in the basement of the facility, along with windows being boarded up to provide extra insulation.A walk along a pathway connecting the township’s two main properties leads to the planning department building at 3 Penelope Lane. The building itself is weathered, according to the report, and the mixture of a gravelly driveway and limited parking spaces makes for a difficult maneuvering situation.The EMS building next door, which was converted from a residential unit to an office building, is showing signs of deterioration around the foundation in the basement. Lack of parking is a concern here as well, considering the space needed for ambulances and staff parking.In February, Scharfenberger told The Two River Times that the overall price for a new municipal center would cost upwards of around $20 million. That figure was based on architectural renderings by Arcari + Iovino, Middletown’s architect of record in 2017.Mercantante confirmed last week that Middletown has retained Arcari + Iovino as the architect for the project and is using their provided plans as the guidelines for the project.According to documents provided by Middletown, that proposal calls for a multi-story building with a footprint of approximately 23,000 square feet. The all-in-one design is aimed to house all municipal functions except for the departments of Public Works and Recreation, respectively found at Kanes Lane and Poricy Park.Including all three floors, the new complex would encompass nearly 61,000-square-feet of floor space. The ground floor level is designed to host a 2,715-square-foot courtroom, a 2,640-square-foot gallery, and all the planning and zoning department offices.The middle level, the largest of the three stories at 23,500 square feet, is designed to have the mayor’s office and additional administrative offices. On the opposite end would be the beginning of the police department’s space, including offices for higher-ranked officers and both male and female locker rooms.“The concept of female police officers was rather unusual (in 1961), but is not so today,” Mercantante said. “We don’t have facilities to deal with the number of female officers we have here.”Scharfenberger did say that design features aren’t set in stone until Middletown brings in a redeveloper, which he anticipates will happen in the coming months.Referencing the façade and building design proposed by Arcari + Iovino, Scharfenberger added he wasn’t “crazy about it.”“With such a historic town like Middletown, we really need something that is going to reflect the character of the town,” he said. “I don’t want a non-descript building that doesn’t do it justice.”Scharfenberger and Mercantante both said Middletown would soon begin searching for requests for proposals (RFPs) for a developer to work on the site. The added advantage, through a possible public-private partnership, is that a fixed price would be set, and raising taxes would not be an issue through that system, Mercantante said.“We’re going to do it the way that results in the best project and has the least cost,” he said.This article was first published in the June 22-29, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonNonetheless, Sacramento approved a $145.5 billion budget that increased spending 11 percent – mostly to make interest payments on the various bond measures the state has passed in recent years. All in all, spending has climbed 40 percent since Schwarzenegger came into office. But Sacramento didn’t want to make any of the hard decisions – cut spending or raise taxes – at budget time. So it will have to make them early next year instead. Under Proposition 58, a budget-reform ballot measure that Schwarzenegger campaigned for shortly after taking office, if the state’s budget numbers are too far out of whack, the governor can declare a fiscal emergency. At that point, he must offer up a plan to balance the books, and the Legislature then has 45 days to act on it. “Special session,” though, seems to be something of a misnomer. These sessions aren’t so special any more. Last year the Legislature also needed to go into overtime to work (with limited success) on water and health care – that is, to do the work it neglected to do while in regular session. And among that work left undone was getting serious about the budget. At the start of 2007, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed to make this the “year of health-care reform.” And as 2008 approaches, the governor has already declared it a year of “fiscal emergency.” Although Schwarzenegger and Legislative Democrats produced a budget that, on paper anyway, included a $4.1 billion reserve last August, that surplus has rapidly evaporated. Just a month ago, state economists were predicting a $10 billion deficit. Now that figure has jumped to $14billion. All of which has left the governor with little choice but to declare a fiscal state of emergency, calling for a Jan. 10 special legislative session to address the budget crisis. This crisis has been a long time coming. Last summer, it was already painfully clear that the housing market was in the tank, and that property-tax revenues would plummet. Yet there’s reason to hope that the state of fiscal emergency could force state leaders to start dealing with the problem squarely. Because under Proposition 58, if the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill within 45 days, lawmakers are barred from acting on any other legislation or even adjourning until they reach agreement. And while politicians might not like living within their means, that might just be a price they’re willing to pay to return to their usual work of pushing pet issues and servicing their special interests. So while 2008 will be the year of fiscal emergency, it could also be a year of some overdue belt tightening in Sacramento. If so, Proposition 54 could prove invaluable – a sign that the initiative can be the best cure for inattentive government.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.We tend to overestimate how much work we can do in a short period of time. We believe we can cram more work into a short period by writing it down on a daily to-do list of some kind, only to be disappointed by how few of these outcomes we actually obtain.If we greatly overestimate what we can do in a short period of time, we greatly underestimate what we can do in a longer period of time. While we are too ambitious when it comes to what we can do in a day, we aren’t ambitious enough to what we can do in a quarter (Or a year. Or a decade. Or a lifetime.)There is some magic in the number three. It’s not few when it comes to goals, and it’s not too many.Major OutcomesStart by choosing the three biggest outcomes (goals) you need to achieve in a calendar year. Choosing more outcomes doesn’t make you more effective, it only makes you more distracted and unfocused. We’ll call these your major outcomes (or goals).What are the three major outcomes (goals) you need to achieve right now?Quarterly MilestonesNext, make a list of the three outcomes you need for each of your major outcomes for each quarter of the year. You can’t achieve your major outcomes without reaching these quarterly milestones along the way.Because your major outcomes are so far away, you may be tempted to put off working on them. These quarterly milestones giving you a shorter-term target on which to focus.Major OutcomeA). Quarterly Milestone 1B). Quarterly Milestone 2C). Quarterly Milestone 3You don’t need to plan all four quarters. In fact, if you are worried about the perfect plan, your probably really just avoiding the real work you need to do (in which case, you may want to go read Steven Pressfield before you go any further). These three quarterly milestones are enough to plan an effective week around.Weekly OutcomesYou can’t do everything you want to in a single day. But you can do good quality work on enough of your outcomes to be super-productive.Completing three tasks that move you closer towards your major goals each day is serious progress. By choosing three tasks that move you closer to your goals each day, you aren’t overwhelmed or distracted. You’ve also left some margin for the stuff that life throws at you.If you get nothing done in the day but the three most important tasks, you’ve still made major progress on your most important goals.Don’t worry about not having enough goals. As you complete each of your three major outcomes, you can replace them with new goals.QuestionsWhat’s on your big three list? What should be there?How much time do you really devote to the biggest outcomes you want out of life?Does your calendar contain the appointments you’ve made with yourself so you have the appropriate time blocked to wok on your big three?How much is too much? Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now
D’Angelo Russell #1 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles around Los Angeles Lakers defense during the third quarter of the game at Barclays Center on December 18, 2018 in New York City. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFPNEW YORK — LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were rallying, trying to send themselves home on a winning note.The hottest team in the NBA wouldn’t allow it.ADVERTISEMENT TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Rajon Rondo (right hand surgery) and Brandon Ingram (sprained left ankle) were recalled from the South Bay Lakers, where they were on rehab assignments. Walton said Ingram was still limited at practice Tuesday but Rondo wasn’t, adding the hope was that both could go full speed when they rejoin the Lakers in practice on Thursday.Rondo has missed 17 games and Ingram has sat out seven.SINGING STRUGGLESBritish singer and actress Cynthia Erivo struggled through her performance of the national anthem. She appeared to forget the words at one point and stopped singing. After pausing to refocus, she began again from the start of the song, got the same word wrong she did the first time and then skipped a couple of lines. But the crowd was supportive of her strong finish and gave her a nice ovation afterward.UP NEXTLakers: Host New Orleans on Friday.Nets: Visit Chicago on Wednesday.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LATEST STORIES The Brooklyn Nets ran their longest winning streak in nearly four years to six games with a 115-110 victory Tuesday night, emphatically stopping James on his first shot and then holding him off down the stretch.D’Angelo Russell had 22 points and a career high-tying 13 assists against his former team as Brooklyn continued its recovery from an eight-game skid by hanging on in front of a loud, large sellout crowd of 17,732 that alternated cheering when the Lakers seized the momentum and when the Nets regained it.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine football chief“It’s a great feeling,” Russell said. “I personally have never been in that position at this level to win six in a row. Definitely not satisfied.”James bounced back from his lowest-scoring game of the season with 36 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, but the Lakers finished 1-3 on their road trip. Kyle Kuzma had 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Lonzo Ball scored 23. PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion View comments The Nets had scored 70 points in the first halves of their last two games, and were almost on pace in this one after taking a 33-32 lead after one quarter. They led 62-57 at halftime.“That’s why this team has won six games in a row. They have a lot of different guys that can hurt you,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.Brooklyn then used a 12-0 run to take its largest lead at 79-65 on Hollis-Jefferson’s three-point play with 7:27 remaining in the third quarter. The Nets led 90-83 going to the fourth.James was limited to 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting in a loss to Washington on Sunday and things started rough for him in this one, as Jarrett Allen denied his attempt at a dunk with a sensational block.“He’s in his 20s, I’m in my 30s,” James said. “Takes me a little longer to get warmed up.”James was called for traveling the next time he had the ball before finding his groove.TIP-INSLakers: JaVale McGee missed his second straight game with flu-like symptoms. … The Lakers were 5 of 6 from 3-point range in the first quarter, with Ball going 3 of 3. Then they went 1 for 10 in the second.Nets: G Allen Crabbe missed his third straight game because of a sore right knee. … The Nets snapped an eight-game skid against West teams with their first win since Nov. 9 at Denver.HELP ON THE WAY Ex-NBA star Lamar Odom to suit up for Philippines’ Mighty Sports in Dubai tilt MOST READ “We could’ve had a pretty good road trip but 1-3 is definitely not the way we would like to have it,” James said.Joe Harris added 19 points and Spencer Dinwiddie scored 18 for the Nets, who last won six in a row from March 25 to April 3, 2015. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 17 points and Jared Dudley made some big baskets down the stretch to score 13.“It’s amazing, man,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “Just to see the hard work we put in, all the resiliency we had, it’s amazing to be able to say we put together some wins.”Brooklyn led 100-87 with 7½ minutes to play before back-to-back 3-pointers by Kuzma and Ball. James then scored inside, blocked a shot on the other end and scored again to make it 100-97.Dudley and Dinwiddie answered with drives, and Dudley hit two more baskets to settle the Nets before Russell’s 3-pointer made it 113-107 with 22 seconds remaining.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: 2019 budget delay due to P75-B House ‘insertion’ LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño
FREDERICTON – New Brunswick party leaders clashed over language in their second televised debate Friday night, debating whether the premier of Canada’s only officially bilingual province needs to speak both French and English.“I agree (bilingualism) is a very important skill. It’s not the only skill you need to bring to the premier’s office,” said Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs, who isn’t fluent in French.“We’ve seen that we need more than that in order to fix our province.”Higgs, Liberal Premier Brian Gallant and the other party leaders squared off on a community centre stage in Fredericton in a 90-minute debate carried on Rogers TV.Gerald Bourque, the folksy, cowboy-hatted leader of the KISS party — or Keep It Simple Solutions — said with modern translation it’s not necessary for the premier to speak both English and French.He joked that if you want a bilingual premier, you should vote for Gallant.“He’s putting this province into debt in both official languages,” Bourque quipped, drawing laughter from the audience of staff and supporters for all the parties.Gallant later acknowledged the joke was “pretty funny,” but stressed it’s important for the premier and cabinet ministers to demonstrate to both communities that they take their language seriously.“I’m proud of the fact New Brunswick is bilingual,” he said.Asked if the premier needs to be bilingual, Higgs said he supports bilingualism and is working to learn French.“Yes, it’s an important asset to be bilingual. But it’s not the only thing,” he said, adding there are other big problems that need solutions.The People’s Alliance party finds itself at the centre of the language debate. It advocates ending some forms of service duality, such as merging French and English health authorities into a single administration and shared school busing. Leader Kris Austin said the money saved could be better spent to improve services.He said being bilingual is an asset, but quoted Louis Robichaud, the premier who brought in official bilingualism, that unilingualism should not be a hindrance for government employees.“We should not allow language to trump experience, qualifications and the ability to get things done. We’ve done this for too long in New Brunswick, allowing language to divide us, and allowing language to trump qualifications and skills,” Austin said.Aside from Gallant, Green Leader David Coon has the strongest French skills among the other leaders. He endorsed bilingualism, saying “How are you going to understand what people’s concerns are?”He accused Austin of dividing people.“Give me a break,” Austin responded.“The reality is we did nothing to divide this province … We’re not the ones that continue to put in overreaching policies on language to divide our people. We didn’t do it, we’re trying to stop it.”The New Democrats’ Jennifer McKenzie said she’s trying to learn French and said it’s important.“To re-open the language debate at this point is really counter-productive and irresponsible and I don’t believe that that’s what we should be doing, and we’ve seen being done by some of the other parties,” she said.Simultaneous translation was provided later in the evening as the leaders took part in a French language debate on the same stage.Throughout much of the English debate, Higgs and Gallant were targeted by the other leaders, who blamed the two frontrunners for the failure to fix the province’s problems during their time in government.“Both of these parties are the same,” Austin said as the leaders exchanged views on the issue of government transparency.The leaders also faced questions on New Brunswick’s aging population, low literacy rates and job creation.During the first debate on Wednesday, Higgs captured headlines by producing an affidavit in which he alleged the Liberals had offered him the job of finance minister or deputy minister after the Liberals’ election win in 2014.Gallant immediately refuted the claim, but later said he and his staff had meetings with Higgs to discuss the province’s finances, but he never offered to put Higgs in cabinet.Advance polls are open Saturday and again on Monday.At dissolution, the seat count in the legislature was 24 Liberals, 22 Progressive Conservatives, one Green, one independent and one vacancy.The election is Sept. 24.Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version wrongly reported that the People’s Alliance party advocates ending separate health and education systems for each official language. In fact, it has advocated ending some forms of service duality.
The Canadian Press A Canadian man has reportedly been detained in China on allegations of fraud.The South China Morning Post, citing local media, says the 61-year-old Canadian is accused of trying to defraud an unnamed entertainment company out of C$375 million.The newspaper says the man, whose full name is not given, allegedly tried to use fake papers to transfer the money from the company’s account to an account in Hong Kong.Global Affairs Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter, but the latest arrest comes in the midst of testy diplomatic relations between the two countries.Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, have been detained in China since December for allegedly endangering national security.Their arrests came shortly after Canadian authorities in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies, who is wanted by the U.S. on fraud charges.On Saturday, it was announced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had fired John McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China after he twice weighed in on the high-stakes extradition case. Another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, received a death sentence for a previous drug-smuggling conviction, a harsher penalty than the 15 years of imprisonment he’d already been given.
WASHINGTON – House Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday grilled Equifax’s former chief executive over the massive data hack of the personal information of 145 million Americans, calling the company’s response inadequate as consumers struggle to deal with the breach.Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith apologized for the compromise of such information as names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Smith was the lone witness at the first of several Capitol Hill hearings this week. No current Equifax official testified.“The criminal hack happened on my watch, and as CEO, I am ultimately responsible, and I take full responsibility,” Smith said. “I am here today to say to each and every person affected by this breach, I am truly and deeply sorry for what happened.”Democrats favour legislation that they say would establish strong data security standards and prompt notification and relief for consumers when their information is hacked. But Republicans tamped down expectations for any congressional action as this year the GOP-led Congress has rolled back several Obama-era rules affecting businesses and the financial sector.“Equifax deserves to be shamed in this hearing, but we should also ask what Congress has done, or failed to do, to stop data breaches from occurring,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, the chairman of the subcommittee examining the breach, said there are already laws on the books that require companies to secure sensitive consumer data. He said hearings before four House and Senate panels this week should run their course before lawmakers make a decision about what to do next.“The big thing we heard today is it was a very human error on their part” Latta said.Separately, Equifax signed a $7.25 million contract last month with the Internal Revenue Service to verify taxpayer identities. The no-bid contract, first reported by Politico, is for Equifax to provide the IRS taxpayer and personal identity verification services.The contract stated that Equifax was the only company capable of providing these services to the IRS, and it was deemed a “critical” service that couldn’t lapse.Smith offered a timeline of what went wrong, saying the Department of Homeland Security warned the company on March 8 about the need to patch a particular vulnerability in software used by Equifax and other businesses. The company disseminated that warning by email the next day and requested that applicable personnel install the upgrade. The company’s policy requires the upgrade to occur within 48 hours, but that did not occur. The company’s information security department also ran scans on March 15 that did not pick up the vulnerability.In late July, data security officials noticed suspicious activity on a website, which Smith said “happens routinely around our business.” He said an internal investigation ensued and he was alerted the next day, but he had no knowledge at that time that consumers’ personal information had been accessed.Lawmakers pressed Smith about company executives selling stock in the company after the suspicious activity had been detected. On Aug. 1 and 2, Equifax Chief Financial Officer John Gamble and two other executives, Rodolfo Ploder and Joseph Loughran, sold a combined $1.8 million in stock.Smith described the executives as “honourable men, men of integrity.” He said at that point in time the company was unaware that consumer data had been accessed.Schakowsky said “for a lot of Americans, that just doesn’t pass the smell test.”Smith said the full extent of what occurred emerged during a meeting he had with cybersecurity experts and outside counsel on Aug. 17. The board was alerted the following week and the public on Sept. 7, after the company had made plans for how it would try to help consumers respond.The timeline laid out by Smith didn’t satisfy many lawmakers, who accused the company of being too slow.“I worry that your job today is about damage control. You put a happy face on your firm’s disgraceful actions, and then depart with a golden parachute,” said Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. “Unfortunately, if fraudsters destroy my constituents’ savings and financial futures, there’s no golden parachute awaiting them.”Lawmakers said that at one point Equifax tweeted the wrong link for consumers to check to learn if they were part of the breach.“Talk about ham-handed responses, this is simply unacceptable,” said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.Smith said he was disappointed in the rollout of call centres and a website designed to help the people affected by the breach. He said the company has increased its number of customer service representatives and the website has been improved. He said more than 400 million consumers contacted the company in the weeks following the announcement of the breach. He said the company wasn’t prepared for that kind of volume.Lawmakers said they’re getting scores of calls from constituents concerned that their information was stolen and the potential ramifications in the years ahead. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., said hundreds of constituents have contacted his office about the company’s response.“The slow rollout and how poorly it was done. To me, it was just inexcusable,” Costello said.___Associated Press writer Ken Sweet in New York contributed.___Follow Kevin Freking on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APkfreking
MONTREAL — Stingray Group Inc. says it has entered into an agreement to acquire a music radio station in Drumheller, Alta., for an undisclosed price.The Montreal-based company, which provides advertising-free music service through major Canadian distributors, says it is buying the assets of CHOO-FM from Golden West Broadcasting Ltd.Stingray’s head of radio operations, Ian Lurie, says the acquisition complements its country-based CKDQ-AM by focusing limited resources in a small-market environment.The transaction is subject to approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and is expected to close mid-year. Companies in this story: (TSX: RAY.A)The Canadian Press