Finance - January 11, 2013

PA State Police unveil new app

The Pennsylvania State Police have released a new smart phone application to allow Pennsylvanians to report possible terroristic activity.  The application is called “See Something, Send Something.”  Users can report suspicious activity by submitting written comments or photos via the application; the application also includes information on what type of activity to look for and when warrants reporting.  The reports are then sent to the Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center where they are analyzed and assigned for investigation if necessary.  The free application is available for the iPhone and for Android users.

Lottery decision gets one more day

The proposal from the British firm Camelot Global Services PA LLC, to privatize the Pennsylvania lottery system, was set to expire at midnight last night.  The company and Governor Corbett’s administration agreed to push the deadline to Friday night instead and there is discussion of a further extension. The bid has been contentious as some critics think the current system is working ok on its own and that there is a potential for job loss for the 230 state lottery employees.  On Monday, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposal.  Testifiers include Camelot officials and the union that represents the state lottery employees.  Camelot promised to boost profits and expand the types of games that that offered; though the union opposition states that the current proposal would actually decrease funding for senior programs.  The state is attempting to secure increased profits from the lottery in order to ensure the continued funding of the programs the lottery supports.

Flu epidemic continues to spread

The flu outbreak has become and epidemic and is continuing to affect people across more than 40 states who are reporting widespread activity.  The flu season started early than usual this year and symptoms are also more severe than in years past.  Boston has declared a public health emergency after more than ten times the reported cases from last year at this time, 18 deaths this season, and a higher rate of hospitalization than in years past.  The older populations are particularly hard hit and Pennsylvania has seen 22 flu deaths thus far; though most were older, two were otherwise healthy and under the age of 50; this Pennsylvania’s worst flu season in three years.  Public health officials are urging people to still get the flu shot and to be vigilant with hand washing and covering the mouth when coughing. Despite the widespread epidemic, experts say the vaccine is well matched for what’s going around, though the vaccine is not foolproof and you could still get sick even if you got the flu shot.  The symptoms and length of infection would likely be less severe though.