February 19, 2017 – Most-Viewed Bills | Congress.gov

February 19, 2017

1. H.R.861 [115th] To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
2. H.R.610 [115th] To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.
3. H.J.Res.69 [115th] Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to “Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska”.
4. H.R.899 [115th] To terminate the Department of Education.
5. H.J.Res.41 [115th] Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to “Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers”.
6. H.J.Res.38 [115th] Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule.
7. H.R.392 [115th] Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017
8. H.R.367 [115th] Hearing Protection Act of 2017
9. H.J.Res.40 [115th] Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.
10. H.R.424 [115th] Gray Wolf State Management Act of 2017

Source: Most-Viewed Bills – Congress.gov Resources –

Let the Food-Deal Frenzy Begin | Bloomberg Gadfly


The buyout firm’s typical playbook has been to target companies with weak margins and then slash costs like crazy to boost profitability. But even a cost-cutter extraordinaire like 3G needs to eventually find revenue growth.

Sale gains at Unilever’s personal-care business slowed in the most recent quarter, but that industry is certainly growing faster than the staid cereal and sandwich-spreads markets.

These companies might be better off trying to mimic the 3G model: merge with other packaged goods companies in order to cut costs even further.

Should their own growth efforts fail, don’t be surprised if more activists start showing up, seeking to shake up management teams or lean on packaged-goods companies to change their strategies.

Source: Let the Food-Deal Frenzy Begin – Bloomberg Gadfly

How one Chinese region shows risks of relying on heavy borrowing | Reuters


Liaoning highlights the risks of relying on repeated borrowing to invest in infrastructure and fuel economic activity – a regular fall-back policy China has used when GDP risks missing annual targets, including in 2016.

Traditionally, state-raised investment funds have been channeled through state-owned enterprises (SOEs) because they are big tax payers and employers. This has provided a life support mechanism for many dying state industries while crowding out the private sector on which China is staking its future.

Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin were once powerful industrial bases responsible for much of the coal, steel and heavy industry that underpinned China’s economy in the 1960s and 1970s.

Source: How one Chinese region shows risks of relying on heavy borrowing | Reuters

Airbus seeks new talks with European nations over A400M costs | Reuters


Hailed at the time as an innovative, fixed-price deal, the contract foundered over problems with the West’s largest turboprop engines and an over-ambitious schedule for ground-hugging navigation and other military capabilities.

Tom Enders, who is said to privately regret not canceling the project before the bailout in 2010, declined to say if Airbus would threaten to stop building the plane. He described the new penalties as “inappropriate” given that the A400M was already deployed in Africa and elsewhere.

Source: Airbus seeks new talks with European nations over A400M costs | Reuters

Switzerland’s ABB hit by $100 million South Korean fraud | Reuters


The Swiss company said the alleged theft was limited to South Korea, where it employs around 800 people and generated sales of $525 million in 2015.

“The treasurer of the South Korean unit is suspected of forging documentation and colluding with third parties to steal from the company,” ABB said.

The treasurer, named by a source in Korea as Oh Myeong-se, disappeared on Feb. 7 and ABB subsequently discovered significant financial irregularities.

Source: Switzerland’s ABB hit by $100 million South Korean fraud | Reuters

Fresh from fending off Kraft, Unilever to review strategy | Reuters


Kraft, which is backed by Warren Buffett and the private equity firm 3G, had wanted to buy Unilever as part of its strategy of buying competitors and cutting costs to drive profits.

Unilever, the ice cream-to-shampoo producer, flatly rejected the approach on Friday (Feb 17), saying it saw no financial or strategic merit in a deal.

But investors have called on the firm to review its costs and structures to see if it could do more to deliver the profit that Kraft had seen. Unilever’s operating profit margin falls well short of Kraft Heinz and other rivals.

Source: Fresh from fending off Kraft, Unilever to review strategy | Reuters

SpaceX’s Launch This Weekend Is a Monument to Space Capitalism—Just Ask NASA | Nextgov.com


Emphasizing the freedom NASA’s commercial partners have to work in their own KSC (Kennedy Space Center) areas, Robert Cabana says that during the Space Shuttle era, launch sites were governed by some 2,200 safety requirements.

He asked his team to strip down the rules, eliminating best practices, and came up with just 500 core safety requirements for NASA launches. But at commercial launch sites, there are only 55 safety requirements. “Requirements are costly,” Cabana says.

This underscores perhaps the single biggest difference between NASA and its commercial partners: risk tolerance. NASA likes to have next to none, and pays for it, while the companies tend to embrace calculated risk as a way to iterate and learn while still developing their products.

Sometimes that’s all too apparent: Pad 40 is still undergoing reconstruction after a Falcon 9 caught fire during fueling in Sept. 2015.

This clash of philosophies is playing out as Boeing and SpaceX work to have their rocket and spacecraft designs certified for human flight by NASA.

Source: SpaceX’s Launch This Weekend Is a Monument to Space Capitalism—Just Ask NASA – Nextgov.com

I’ll Never Bring My Phone on an International Flight Again—Neither Should You | Nextgov.com


A few months ago, I wrote about how you can encrypt your entire life in less than an hour.

Well, all the security in the world can’t save you if someone has physical possession of your phone or laptop, and can intimidate you into giving up your password.

.. On his way through through the airport, Customs and Protection Patrol agents pulled him aside. They searched him, then detained him in a room with a bunch of other people sleeping in cots. They eventually returned and said they’d release him if he told them the password to unlock his phone.

Source: I’ll Never Bring My Phone on an International Flight Again—Neither Should You – Nextgov.com

New York DA to Trump: Have Our Backs Against Cop-proof Encryption | Nextgov.com


New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that Congress was essentially abandoning its responsibility to balance privacy and national security and delegating that authority to tech firms like Apple and Google.

Vance expects fights over such end-to-end encryption systems to return during the Trump administration and he’s hoping the Trump team will have his back in the fight.

Source: New York DA to Trump: Have Our Backs Against Cop-proof Encryption – Nextgov.com

There’s no significant connection between your personality as a teenager and a septuagenarian | Quartz


The findings were a surprise to researchers because previous personality studies, over shorter periods of time, seemed to show consistency.

Studies over several decades, focusing on participants from childhood to middle age, or from middle age to older age showed stable personality traits.

But the most recent study, covering the longest period, suggests that personality stability is disrupted over time.

Source: There’s no significant connection between your personality as a teenager and a septuagenarian — Quartz