Shake-up at Apple: Mobile software and retail chiefs out in sweeping overhaul after rough patch

News of the high-profile departures follows embarrassing problems with the company’s new mobile mapping software and disappointing quarterly results

How Would The Paul Ryan Budget Handle Disaster Relief?

WASHINGTON — If it had been up to Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, disaster response agencies would likely face lower funding to handle the huge costs of dealing with storms such as Hurricane Sandy, a review of his much-touted budget shows.

The budget plan put forward by Ryan as chairman of the House Budget Committee requires massive cuts to discretionary spending, which includes everything but entitlements. Those cuts would almost certainly extend to the Department of Homeland Security and its disaster relief programs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The ounce of doubt remains because Ryan’s budget proposal doesn’t include any specifics on FEMA itself. But it also doesn’t exempt FEMA or Homeland Security from the standard cuts that it broadly applies to government services. The budget does exempt the military from many cuts. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote in August that Ryan’s budget would likely dump the cost of dealing with disasters on state and local governments.

That’s in line with a policy prescription advocated by Mitt Romney at a GOP candidates’ debate last year, in which he said it was “immoral” for the federal government to play a significant role in disaster relief at a time of high budget deficits. Pressed by CNN moderator John King on whether he’d really send disaster relief to the states, he replied, “It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”

While the opacity of Ryan’s budget makes a definitive statement impossible, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that cuts to FEMA would be in line with his general budgetary approach. “This form of discretionary federal aid would be subject to cuts under the Ryan budget,” the center wrote. “If it were scaled back substantially, states and localities would need to bear a larger share of the costs of disaster response and recovery, or attempt to make do with less during difficult times.”

Third Way, a moderate think tank, wrote in March that the Ryan budget would cut funding by 62 percent for community and regional development, including disaster aid and insurance.

“This would mean less accurate predictions and planning for disasters, less preparation that can reduce the severity of their impact, and less timely responses,” according to the Third Way memo. “It would set the clock back on disaster preparation to the days before Hurricane Katrina.”

Although Ryan’s plan never became law, it provides some insight into the still fuzzy budget priorities of his running mate, who has said he would adopt a separate but similar plan to the one introduced by Ryan. Romney has directly advocated cuts to FEMA and, like Ryan, supports broader funding cuts that would likely apply to the agency.

Romney’s budget plan would lead to across-the-board cuts that would likely reduce FEMA’s budget between 34 percent and 53 percent, FireDogLake wrote.

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the Romney campaign, pointed out that the Ryan budget does not mention FEMA cuts and said that whether the agency would be exempt from cuts would be up to the appropriations committee.

“A Romney-Ryan administration will always ensure that disaster funding is there for those in need. Period,” Buck said.

Disaster relief funding had traditionally been relatively noncontroversial, but more recently has become politicized as lawmakers seek to drastically reduce federal spending. FEMA nearly ran out of money last year when Republicans refused to pass an increase in the agency’s funding unless it was offset by cuts elsewhere — despite pleas from storm victims at the time.

In June, the House approved an appropriations bill to reduce FEMA’s 2013 budget by $183 million from 2012 spending levels, but Ryan voted in opposition. He voted for the continuing resolution for fiscal year 2013, which maintained funding levels for FEMA.

The agency could face major cuts under the looming sequester, which Ryan voted for and President Barack Obama signed into law, although both have been critical of the deal and said they did not want it to go into effect. The sequester would reduce funding for FEMA by nearly $900 million, The Washington Post reported Monday.

California ballot measures draw free-spending billionaires

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A handful of individual super-donors, business groups and unions have poured more than $350 million into California ballot initiatives ahead of the November 6 election, underscoring the extent to which the state’s system of “direct democracy” has morphed into a big-money battleground.

Massachusetts Senate debate canceled due to Hurricane Sandy

BOSTON (Reuters) – Hurricane Sandy prompted Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to scrap plans for their fourth and final debate scheduled for Tuesday night.

Legal fears muffle warnings on cybersecurity threats

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The agenda at a secretive conference on protecting critical infrastructure from computer attack was curtailed at the last minute last week, underscoring the legal challenges of sharing such information, much less getting companies to respond to it.

Advanced Micro adopts smartphone technology for servers

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Advanced Micro Devices Inc plans to use technology from Britain’s ARM Holdings Plc to make energy-efficient processors for servers, a growing business that the troubled chipmaker hopes will help offset weakness in the struggling PC industry.

‘They’re not shy about giving us an earful’: CRTC boss seeks to rebuild trust amid consumer skepticism

Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais says the CRTC will put Canadians front and centre in its work. “I will be listening myself to find out what they think about the job we’re doing,” he said Monday

Apple Announces Management Changes: Scott Forstall and John Browett Out, Ive and Others Add Responsibilities

Apple today published a press release announcing a major management restructuring for its executive team. Among the biggest changes are the immediate departure of retail chief John Browett and a 2013 exit for iOS chief Scott Forstall.

John Browett (left) and Scott Forstall (right) are leaving Apple.

As part of the restructuring, Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi are all taking on increased responsibilities.

Jony Ive will take over leadership of Human Interface teams in addition to his role as head on Industrial Design.

Eddy Cue will take over responsibility for Siri and Maps, consolidating online services under one unit. Cue was promoted just over a year ago to Senior Vice President for Internet Software and Services. He played a prominent role in the educational announcement earlier this year, and now has control of two of Apple’s most prominent new iOS features.

Craig Federighi will lead both the iOS and OS X teams. Earlier this year, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Mac Software Engineering. Now, he gains the iOS team that was formerly under Scott Forstall.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new “Technologies” group focused on innovation in wireless technology and semiconductors. Earlier this year, Apple announced that Mansfield would be retiring, but several months later announced he would instead be staying at the company. Later, it leaked that Tim Cook had faced an “insurrection” after Mansfield announced his retirement, and Cook gave him an extremely generous benefits package to stay at the company. It seems that Mansfield will be staying at the company or the foreseeable future.

Scott Forstall, the current SVP of iOS Software, is leaving the company next year. In the meantime, he will serve as an advisor to Tim Cook. Forstall was once considered a possible candidate to replace Steve Jobs as CEO, but more recently has come under fire for missteps regarding Apple’s new mapping software and the continued impression that Siri is not ready for prime time. Also, Forstall was considered responsible for the skeuomorphic direction that Apple’s iOS software had been taking recently. With Jony Ive taking over Human Interface teams, there could be more consistency coming to Apple’s user interfaces across the company.

On the retail side, Senior Vice President of Retail John Browett is stepping down effective immediately, with the retail team reporting directly to Tim Cook on an interim basis. A search for a successor is underway.

John Browett raised some eyebrows when he was hired earlier this year. It is assumed that Browett was behind some staff cutbacks at the retail level and an increased focus on profitability at the expense, some say, of Apple’s excellent customer service.