The Lookout
  • Parking lot in Virginia Tech (Roanoke Times reporter Lerone Graham, @LeroneNRV)

    We have updated this story as details emerge

    A police officer was shot and killed early this afternoon on Virginia Tech's campus during a routine traffic stop, putting the campus on lockdown for several hours. The suspect fled the scene, and police later found another body, along with a gun, on campus grounds.

    NBC reported that the second body is believed to be the shooter and that the recovered weapon was his own, but police would not confirm that identification at a press conference Thursday evening, saying the investigation is still pending.

    "Today tragedy again struck Virginia Tech in a wanton act of violence," said Charles Steger, president of Virginia Tech at the press conference. "Our hearts are broken again for the family of our police officer and we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences." He said counseling will be available for university students and staff.

    Robert Carpentieri, of the Virginia state police, said at the presser the slain police officer stopped a driver for a traffic violation when a third party approached the officer and shot him. Virginia Tech deputy chief of police Gene Deisinger said the officer was a four-year veteran on the campus force. The officer's identity is being held pending notification of his extended family. It is believed to be the first time a Virginia Tech university police officer has been killed in the line of duty.

    Read More »from Virginia Tech shooting: police officer shot, gunman is reported dead
  • If Congress doesn’t act soon, economy could take another hit

    On the long list of risks the economy faces in 2012, the prospect of congressional inaction would seem to rank quite low. But that's not actually the case--thanks to legislative tripwires on issues such as the payroll tax, unemployment benefits, and Medicare reimbursement rates, gridlock over the next few weeks may have a significant impact on growth next year.

    The economy grew at a 2.0 percent annual rate in the third quarter, and the economic consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers pegs fourth quarter growth at 3 percent. The White House had hoped to address the status of payroll tax cuts, Medicare reimbursements and jobless benefits as part of a grand bargain on deficit reduction. But the failure of Congress's fiscal "supercommittee" to hammer out a big deal nixed that plan. Economists suggest the cumulative cost of inaction on all three measures could result in a reduction of several hundred billion dollars of demand—not enough to tip the economy into a new recession on its own, but enough to slow it down and boost the unemployment rate.

    Continued inaction on these fronts "increases the headwinds for this economic expansion," Gary Burtless, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, told Yahoo. "It makes it much much harder for a weak economy to expand at all."

    You can watch Zachary Roth and Daniel Gross discussing the coming economic tripwires in the video below:

    Here's a breakdown of the issues in play:

    Payroll tax cut. Late last year as part of a White House-GOP deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for high-earners, Congress and the White House agreed to a temporary, one-year reduction in the payroll tax that funds Social Security. Instead of paying 6.2 percent on the first $106,800 of income, individuals would only pay 4.2 percent. Come January 1, 2012, the rate reverts to 6.2 percent—unless Congress and President Obama agree on an extension.

    That would amount to a significant tax increase on wages—about $180 billion—and a reduction of spending and demand in the economy at large.

    Michael Pond of Barclays Plc told Bloomberg TV last week that a failure to extend the payroll tax cut would likely cause his bank to reduce its estimate for first quarter growth next year by 1.5 percent. "It's that big," Pond said.

    Read More »from If Congress doesn’t act soon, economy could take another hit
  • Shanties in Tijuana overlooking the U.S.-Mexico border fence (AP)

    Only 327,577 people were caught crossing illegally from the Mexican border last year--a number that hasn't been so low since the days of Richard Nixon's presidency, according to the Washington Post.

    The Department of Homeland Security says total border apprehensions for fiscal year 2011, which ended last September 30, are down 53.5 percent from 2008.

    In 2000, when far fewer Border Patrol officers were stationed on the Southern border than today, a record-breaking 1.6 million illegal immigrants were caught trying to cross. Experts say three major factors are slowing illegal border-crossing: the stagnant American economy; a border that is manned with more officers and better technology; and the new hazards associated with crossing illegally since drug gangs have seized control of human smuggling routes.

    Read More »from Illegal immigration statistics show border arrests down to 1970′s levels


(3,631 Stories)
  • Pacquiao down to work for 'fight of my life'
    Pacquiao down to work for 'fight of my life'

    Manny Pacquiao called his boxing showdown with Floyd Mayweather "the fight of my life" as he got down to work pounding the streets and gym in Los Angeles. On Monday, Pacquiao ran two miles (3.2 km) and shadow-boxed for two rounds, followed by abdominal work and breakfast of steamed rice, scrambled egg, fish and chicken broth. Then he napped until noon and had lunch before heading to trainer Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym, which is strictly off-limits to fans and media during Pacquiao's sessions. "I will prepare hard for this fight to give the boxing fans the kind of entertainment they want.

  • Twist in Obamacare Supreme Court case: Weak plaintiffs
    Twist in Obamacare Supreme Court case: Weak plaintiffs

    New revelations about the four plaintiffs fighting the Affordable Care Act may put their case on shaky ground and dramatically shift the course of the case Wednesday, when the Supreme Court will hear both sides present their arguments for the first time.

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