Comcast Still Not Interested in Usage-Based Pricing

February 29, 2012

Responding to Time Warner Cable’s latest usage-based pricing experiment, Comcast executives say they still have no intention of experimenting with metered billing. “We have a very high customer satisfaction rating and we don’t really want to rock the boat on that product,” Comcast chief financial officer Michael Angelakis told attendees this week at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom conference in San Francisco. “I give them credit for trying different things,” Angelakis said of Time Warner Cable’s efforts. “We have real momentum in that business and the goal is to keep it.”

In other words, Comcast faces competition from uncapped Verizon FiOS in far more markets than Time Warner Cable does, and would prefer not to shoot themselves in the foot. While saying they have “very high” customer satisfaction rankings (they’ve traditionally fallen into the bottom half of rankings), the company doesn’t want to lose any of the ranking gains they’ve seen over the last few years by imposing confusing and/or punitive new pricing models that aren’t really necessary in the first place.

High customer satisfaction for Comcast?

Am I missing something here?

At least my high speed connection works, with minimum downtime.


Chu Blows It: Obama Energy Chief Bombshell Admission on Gas Prices

February 29, 2012

The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.

Instead, DOE is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles, Chu told House appropriators during a hearing on DOE’s budget.

But Americans need relief now, Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) said — not high gasoline prices that could eventually push them to alternatives.

“I can’t look at motivations. I have to look at results. And under this administration the price of gasoline has doubled,” Nunnelee told Chu.

“The people of north Mississippi can’t be here, so I have to be here and be their voice for them,” Nunnelee added. “I have to tell you that $8 a gallon gasoline makes them afraid. It’s a cruel tax on the people of north Mississippi as they try to go back and forth to work. It’s a cloud hanging over economic development and job creation.”

Chu expressed sympathy but said his department is working to lower energy prices in the long term.

“We agree there is great suffering when the price of gasoline increases in the United States, and so we are very concerned about this,” said Chu, speaking to the House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee. “As I have repeatedly said, in the Department of Energy, what we’re trying to do is diversify our energy supply for transportation so that we have cost-effective means.”

Chu specifically cited a reported breakthrough announced Monday by Envia Systems, which received funding from DOE’s ARPA-E, that could help slash the price of electric vehicle batteries.

He also touted natural gas as “great” and said DOE is researching how to reduce the cost of compressed natural gas tanks for vehicles.

High gasoline prices will make research into such alternatives more urgent, Chu said.

“But is the overall goal to get our price” of gasoline down, asked Nunnelee.

“No, the overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy,” Chu replied. “We think that if you consider all these energy policies, including energy efficiency, we think that we can go a long way to becoming less dependent on oil and [diversifying] our supply and we’ll help the American economy and the American consumers.”


US Treasury Department cuts Iran’s cash pipeline, sources say

February 29, 2012

The U.S. Treasury Department disrupted a Dubai-based banking operation that Washington believes had become Tehran’s primary conduit for evading international sanctions and processing its oil sales, according to people briefed on the operation.

The effort was particularly sensitive because the targeted institution in the United Arab Emarates is partly owned by the local government of Dubai, a close U.S. ally. The chairman of the bank, called the Noor Islamic Bank, is the son of Dubai’s ruler.

In mid-December, Noor agreed to close off what the people briefed on the operation characterized as Iran’s single-largest channel for repatriating foreign-currency oil receipts — facilitating as much as 60 percent of Iran’s foreign oil sales by late last year, they estimated.

Read more:


IPad 3 Launches March 7

February 29, 2012

Apple Inc is hosting a media event next Wednesday, where it is expected to unveil a faster, better-equipped version of its popular iPad tablet to thwart increasing competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon.com Inc.

The invitation-only event will be held at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) on March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where it also introduced the last two generations of iPads.

Apple, which sent the invitation to reporters by email on Tuesday, did not divulge details of the event beyond saying: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

The invitation featured a partial picture of the touchscreen of a device resembling an iPad.

Apple launches are some of the hottest events on the tech calendar, scrutinized by fans, investors, the media and industry insiders alike.


Rare American who can afford to buy Chevy Volt vows to buy one

February 29, 2012

On the day of the Michigan Republican primary, President Obama spoke to the United Auto Workers conference in Washington D.C. hailing the success of the auto bailout, reminding them that without government intervention GM and Chrysler would be dead.

Obama said that as president, he was proud to get into a Chevy Volt when he visited GM’s Hamtramck plant in Detroit.

“I got to get inside a brand-new Chevy Volt fresh off the line,” he said, “Secret Service wouldn’t let me drive it, but I liked sitting in it, it was nice, I bet it drives real good.”

“And five years from now, when I’m not president anymore, I will buy one and drive it myself,” he said to the cheering crowd who chanted, “Four more years!”

President Obama criticized his political rivals for suggesting that the auto industry was sold out to the unions.

“Even by the standards of this town that’s a load of you know what,” he said.


Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe to retire

February 28, 2012

Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe will not seek reelection in 2012, according to two source with knowledge of her plans.

Republicans did get some traction in the state in 2010, including electing Republican Paul LePage as governor.

Tea Party gets their RINO — Maine returns to it’s conservative roots.


Gas Prices Having An Effect On Obama Reelection

February 28, 2012

Now TransCanada has submitted another application for approval to theObama administration, and this time around Obama is hinting that it may just pass:

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney used the announcement to hammer Republicans, saying, “House Republicans forced a rejection of the company’s earlier application in January, by not allowing sufficient time for important review or even the identification of a complete pipeline route.”

“But as we made clear, the president’s decision in January in no way prejudged future applications. We will ensure any project receives the important assessment it deserves and will base a decision to provide a permit on the completion of that review,” Carney added.

Republicans remained cautious in their response, arguing the news that a new pipeline route is being considered raises fresh questions about the administration’s previous opposition.

“It’s good news that progress is continuing on a project that would create tens of thousands of American jobs and keep Canada from selling NorthAmerican energy to the Chinese, but it also makes the Obama administration’s refusal to approve it even more disturbing,” said MichaelSteel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (Ohio).

Setting all partisan politics aside, I really hope the Obama administration does sign off on the pipeline, if only for the sake of ending the ridiculous and unnecessary government sandbagging.


Home prices fell in December in most US cities

February 28, 2012

OK, the recovery is speeding right along, in the ditch.

Home prices fell in December for a fourth straight month in most major U.S. cities, as modest sales gains in the depressed housing market have yet to lift prices.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index shows prices dropped in December from November in 18 of the 20 cities tracked. The steepest declines were in Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit. Miami and Phoenix were the only cities to show an increase.

Still, prices fell in 19 of the 20 cities in December compared to the same month in 2010. Only Detroit posted a year-over-year increase. Prices in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa dropped to their lowest points since the housing crisis began.


Durable Goods Orders in U.S. Slump 4%, Most in Three Years

February 28, 2012

So what are all those “new hires” gonna do?

Orders for U.S. durable goods fell in January by the most in three years, led by a slowdown in demand for commercial aircraft and business equipment.

Bookings (DGNOCHNG) for goods meant to last at least three years slumped 4 percent, more than forecast, after a revised 3.2 percent gain the prior month, data from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. Economists projected a 1 percent decline, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.


PPP: Santorum up by 10 among election-day voters in MI

February 28, 2012

Hey won’t be long now … Michigan will be the battleground tonight, and Public Policy Polling says that Rick Santorum may have recaptured the momentum over the weekend — but with a twist:

It’s always good to be cautious with one night poll numbers, but momentum seems to be swinging in Santorum’s direction. Romney led with those interviewed on Sunday, but Santorum has a 39-34 advantage with folks polled on Monday. The best sign that things have gone back toward Santorum might be that with those polled today who hadn’t already voted, Santorum’s advantage was 41-31.

Much has been made of Democratic efforts to turn out the vote for Santorum and we see evidence that’s actually happening. Romney leads with actual Republican voters, 43-38. But Santorum’s up 47-10 with Democratic voters, and even though they’re only 8% of the likely electorate that’s enough to put him over the top. The big question now is whether those folks will actually bother to show up and vote tomorrow.

Romney may have booted Michigan over the weekend:

Romney hasn’t made a good last impression on Michigan voters. His favorability in Sunday interviews was 57/36, but in Monday interviews it was only 47/48. Santorum saw little difference in his reviews between the two days: 54/39 on Sunday and 56/36 on Monday. If Romney does indeed end up losing tomorrow there’s not much doubt he will have blown it in the final 48 hours.

It might also be that Santorum has been emphasizing economics the last few days in Michigan.

He took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to compare tax plans.  Santorum borrowed Newt Gingrich’s criticism that Romney only wants to tinker around the edges, and added a swipe at Romney’s “last-minute conversion” to tax reform as well as repeating the accusation of Romney being an “Occupy Wall Street” candidate:

Meanwhile, my opponent in the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney, had a last-minute conversion. Attempting to distract from his record of tax and fee increases as governor of Massachusetts, poor job creation, and aggressive pursuit of earmarks, he now says he wants to follow my lead and lower individual as well as corporate marginal tax rates.

It’s a good start. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough. He says his proposed tax cuts would be revenue neutral and, borrowing the language of Occupy Wall Street, promises the top 1% will pay for the cuts. No pro-growth tax policy there, just more Obama-style class warfare.

Will this be enough to carry Michigan


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