Melania Trump Club

Melania Trump Club
Melania Trump Club

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Star for Every State

After toying with various flag designs and changing the number of stars and stripes, in 1818 Congress decided that the U.S. flag would stick with 13 stripes and 20 stars with a new star added for each new state. We've been at 50 stars for about 50 years now. And in a few months those stars & stripes will be front & center as we celebrate U.S. Independence Day. And even before that we'll have Memorial Day and Flag Day. It might be a way off for those of us who tend to plan things at the last minute, but it's not too early to start designing your 4th of July party invites and decorations or other 4th of July themed projects (including ads, sales fliers, or promotional mailings).

How to Cut a Perfect 5-Point Star
4th of July Project Ideas, Templates, Fonts
Free Transparent PNG Objects - Stars
In keeping with the star theme, here's a quick comment about star-shaped cropping of photos or even text: don't do it. OK, saying that it is never OK might be too harsh. In a scrapbook or a greeting card or maybe occasionally in a casual newsletter it might be alright. Or, maybe it's just me. But I think most of the time photos cropped into funky shapes like stars or starbursts just look cheesy. Circles or ovals, sometimes. Use non-rectangular crop shapes sparingly. That's my opinion.

Do you agree or disagree? A little or a lot?

States trail in census game

Attention, Carolinians: Wisconsin is kicking our behinds in the census. Iowa, too. (But at least we're not Texas.)

The 2010 Census continues its $326 million marketing push this month with a new tactic to get you to return your 10-question census form - an appeal to your sense of community and competition.

The census officially kicked off April 1, and officials are helpfully letting everyone keep score on the response rate with an interactive online map - at - that lets you peek at results from your state and city, right down to your neighborhood.

How are we doing? As of Sunday, North Carolinians had returned 59 percent of the forms mailed out last month, a statistic the census calls the "mail participation rate." That's behind Wisconsin's pace-setting rate of 69 percent, but it's ahead of the national average of 56 percent and well on the way to N.C.'s 2000 participation rate of 66 percent.

South Carolina also checks in at a healthy 57 percent. Alaska (42 percent) and Texas (48 percent) are among those looking up from the bottom.

"We're happy with the numbers so far," said census N.C. spokesman Tony Jones. "We're actually anticipating a big spike, because a lot of people were waiting until April 1 to fill out the forms."

As in previous decades, the 2010 Census results will be used to determine how much money states and cities receive from the federal government, as well as how many congressional seats states gain or lose. North and South Carolina each could pick up an additional congressional seat because of population gains in the past decade. North Carolina received an additional seat after the 2000 Census.

Zoom in on the map, and you'll find the Charlotte area at 56 percent and having the same successes and struggles as much of the country. More affluent neighborhoods and suburbs are among the highest participation rates - areas that include Carmel Country Club and parts of Matthews boasted participation rates in the mid 70s - while census response lags in low-income areas and those with a high percentage of Latinos.

A challenge for communities nationwide: college students. Charlotte's worst participation can be found in the area including UNC Charlotte, at just 37 percent. Students, said Jones, are typically poor performers because of issues such as residences changing and an assumption that their parents are including them on their census forms. (Students should fill out their own form, census officials say.)

People have until mid-April to return their forms; those who mail theirs in after April 15 increase their chances of a visit from a census taker.

As for the lagging communities, the census already has sent out a second round of forms to areas that had poor participation rates in 2000. Also, officials have the next marketing piece ready - an outreach effort to community leaders, including churches and civic groups, to help nudge people into filling out the forms.

If that doesn't work, there's always the celebrity appeal. Census officials have videos at the ready by NASCAR's Greg Biffle, a Mooresville resident, Miss America Caressa Cameron and Donny Osmond.

Kevin Rudd faces election struggle in key states

A FALL in Labor support in NSW and electoral volatility in Queensland during the first three months of Tony Abbott's Liberal leadership have ensured the home states of the Opposition Leader and Kevin Rudd will be vital battlegrounds in the coming election.

Since his election as leader in December, Mr Abbott has picked up support in every mainland state and every age group at a cost to Labor, leaving the Rudd government with a clear primary vote lead only in South Australia and Victoria, The Australian reported.

Three months ago, under the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition trailed well behind Labor in every mainland state, except Western Australia, where the two sides were level.

Mr Abbott's support has been significantly boosted among voters aged over 50, those in regional areas and in SA and WA. Labor support has dropped in Queensland, NSW and Victoria and among older voters.

Younger voters have largely held firm for Labor, but despite claims Mr Abbott "has a problem with women", female voters were more satisfied with him than his predecessor.

Satisfaction with Mr Abbott reached 43 per cent in the January quarter, compared with 32 per cent for Mr Turnbull last November.

Labor strategists believe the vote in Queensland is "fractured" and seats will be won and lost against national trends while, in NSW, anti-ALP sentiment is being fuelled by the unpopular and incompetent state government.

Liberal strategists believe Mr Abbott, who has to win seven or eight seats to form government, has recaptured the Liberal voting base, particularly among older voters and people living in regional areas.

The Liberals are also buoyed by huge improvements for Mr Abbott in WA, where the ALP had hoped to lift its performance after a poor 2007 result, and in SA.

Last week, Julia Gillard spent almost a week in WA reassuring mining companies the Rudd government would be tough on illegal strikes and promoting spending on the $16.2 billion school building program.

According to an analysis of Newspoll surveys taken between January and March this year, the first full three months of Mr Abbott's leadership, Labor's total primary vote fell five points to 40 per cent and the Coalition's rose four points to 40 per cent, the first time the Government and the opposition have been level since the 2007 election.

Based on surveys of more than 6000 voters since January, the analysis includes the latest Newspoll survey, published in The Australian last week, in which the Coalition and Mr Abbott both lost ground.

Mr Abbott has reclaimed the Coalition's traditional lead among voters over 50 with a five-point rise on primary vote to 47 per cent compared with a five-point drop for Labor to 37 per cent. That gives the Coalition the biggest lead in any state or demographic group.

Young voters gave more support to Mr Abbott personally than Mr Turnbull, up 11 points from 32 to 43 per cent, but Labor held its strong primary vote lead among the young of 13 points.

China quiet on U.S. currency report delay

BEIJING, April 5 (Reuters) - A Chinese central bank adviser said Beijing could ease pressure over the yuan by buying more from recession-hit U.S. states, but China had no official reaction on Monday to the Obama administration's delay of a contentious currency report.

Monday was a public holiday in China, with government offices closed and state newspapers issuing slimmed down editions.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Saturday postponed the report, originally due out on April 15, that could have called Beijing a "currency manipulator." [ID:nN03183056]

The decision follows Thursday's announcement that Chinese President Hu Jintao will attend a nuclear security summit meeting in Washington April 12-13 and seems to be a move to keep tensions over currency in check. [ID:nTOE63100K]

Geithner said he would use meetings of the Group of 20 and a U.S.-China "strategic dialogue" in Beijing in May to urge China to budge on the yuan, which President Barack Obama, many U.S. lawmakers and several economists say is kept artificially low, undercutting U.S. competitiveness.

Several Chinese economists quoted in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, maintained that the yuan was not to blame for the U.S. trade deficit. The economists appeared to have commented before Washington announced the postponement of the report.

"Trade deficits and surpluses are not created by exchange rates, and the renminbi is not undervalued," said the paper.

Li Daokui, a member of the central bank's monetary policy committee, said China could nonetheless buy more goods from U.S. states struggling with recession to ease pressure from the White House and Congress.

"On the one hand, China needs to maintain the initiative in issuing information (about the yuan), so that there is no misunderstanding of China by the United States," the paper cited Li as saying.

"On the other hand, China should take the initiative to communicate with the United States," added Li, a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

"China can increase purchases from (U.S.) states facing mass unemployment because of recession in the manufacturing sector," said Li, a Harvard-trained economist.

Beijing let the yuan CNY=CFXS rise 21 percent against the U.S. dollar between July 2005 and July 2008 before effectively repegging the currency, also called the renminbi, near 6.83 to the dollar to help the economy through the financial crisis.

The United States' deficit in trade with China fell to $227 billion in 2009 from a record $268 billion in 2008,. but the Obama administration is keen to lift exports and employment.

Wu Xiaoling, a Chinese lawmaker and former central bank vice governor quoted by the People's Daily international edition, said the root of the problem was not a cheap yuan, but the relatively low cost of labour and resources in China.

"That people feel the renminbi is undervalued is in fact because many price factors in China, including resources and labour, have not reached international levels," she said. (For analysts' views on the report delay, click on [ID:nSGE63400O]) (Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)