The White House and NASA want the public's help in hunting for asteroids that could potentially smash into Earth. They're also looking for a perfect space rock to capture so that astronauts could go there and study it.
The Federal Reserve will continue its program of purchasing $85 billion in securities and will leave the target interest rate for federal funds untouched to support the U.S. economy, the U.S. central bank said in a policy update issued Wednesday afternoon.
The Supreme Court is set to announce high-profile rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 that explicitly states that a legal marriage can only be between a man and a woman. DOMA, under a case known as United States v. Windsor, currently denies federal benefits to legally married gays and lesbians in the 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriage. Prop 8 was brought to the Court under the case Hollingsworth v. Perry.
The rulings could come as early as Thursday, and in preparation, here's some background reading about the business and economics surrounding the case:
- Business owners in some states are worried about bans on same-sex marriage being bad for business.
- Despite what you may think, these rulings may not immediately make tax filings any more simple for same-sex couples.
- The woman at the heart of United States v. Windsor, Edith Windsor, had to pay some $360,000 in estate tax after her wife died because the Defense of Marriage Act wouldn't let the I.R.S. recognize their marriage. That's just one of the many lesser-known benefits of gay marriage.
- Just asking the Supreme Court to consider your case can cost you anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 in D.C. hourly lawyer rates alone.
- Back in February, major tech companies -- including Apple, Facebook and eBay -- stood out among 200 employers who signed a "friend of the court" brief, stating their support of same-sex marriage.
- Meanwhile, the shift of public opinion towards supporting same-sex marriage means political action committees (PACs) are also deciding to set their sights -- and funds -- on politicians who have already voiced their support. On Wednesday, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski became the third Republican senator to back gay marriage.
Stay tuned to Marketplace as the rulings come forth.
At lunch time at Local Projects, a media design firm, it's every person for themselves when it comes to silverware. About 40 workers share the office kitchen. Donna Meredith works here, and she's desperate for a spoon.
“Here I am making some tea,” she says, “and I need to stir it up. So I end up using a knife. Silverware has always been an issue at every office I've worked in.”
Her coworker Miriam Lakes deals with the missing spoon problem another way.
“I tend to hoard one at my desk,” she tells me. “We have this specific kind that are nicer, like heavier weight spoons, that I like to just keep around me.”
And don't even get her started on the missing mugs.
“It's definitely like every two weeks or so,” she laments, “there will be an email. 'Have you seen my mug?' And there will sometimes be a photo of it, or just a detailed description, asking for it back.”
It's not that the design firm's employees are petty. But having to worry about your kitchen objects, at work, it really bothers people. I talked to Alison Green about it. She's a management consultant, and she runs the blog Ask A Manager. She says she hears a lot of grumbling about kitchenware.
“I think,” she says, “it speaks to a larger trend of people feeling like, a sort of care that used to be toward them from their workplaces is increasingly going away.”
That kind of care used to have a face. People like receptionists, and office managers.
“In terms of the percentage of the labor force that works in office administrative support,” says Mike Konczal, an economic research fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, “it's been a decline over the last several decades.”
He says that since the recession hit, U.S. companies have cut about a million office support positions.
“Part of it is technology,” he explains. “It's much easier to you know run your calendar than it was maybe 30 years ago, or simple things like getting a flight or booking a car can be done over your phone.”
But collecting stray silverware? So far that's beyond the realm of current technology.
“There isn't that Rumba yet.” Konczal jokes. “So, once that robot comes maybe things will be different. But for now, you're going to have a lot of people who are just kind of angry in the workplace.”
Back at the design firm, Jenny Kutnow and Miriam Lakes say missing silverware can be annoying, but it's not that big of a deal.
“I think if it came down to whether we could buy a new typeface or buy new silverware,” Kutnow says, “I would vote for the typeface.”
“We'd all just be eating with our hands,” laughs Lakes.
Whitman was at one point known as "America's Favorite Folksinger," but he was far more popular overseas. His music saved the Earth from aliens in the comedy Mars Attacks!
The United Nations says more than 45 million people worldwide are refugees — the most since 1994 — and that nearly half are children. Fleeing Syrians are a growing concern.
Yeah, this is a story where analysts have plenty to say. But a story full of analysts can be kind of boring.
So instead, I called up the perfect, potential, H&M online shopper, 24-year-old Sonya Laws, in Asheville, N.C. “I’m not excited enough to squeal, but I am excited,” she says. Michael Pardot, outside an H&M in Pasadena, Calif., was also amped, “it’s about time; I was waiting for it since they opened up the store.”
Why did it take H&M so long? This is where the analysts come in handy.
“You’ve got complexities in the U.S. in terms of different sales taxes, where you put your distribution centers, how you manage even more sales than you had been planning on with just your individual stores,” says Patty Edwards with Trutina Financial.
She says H&M can’t afford to get it wrong; when you come this late to the party, you’ve got to look good. “They’ve got to be able to offer a turn-key experience that is an excellent experience right off the bat,” says Edwards.
If H&M is able to get it right, Morningstar analyst Jamie Katz says other fast-fashion is going to need to watch out. “H&M is very price cognizant,” Katz says, “they do not like to raise prices and so that means it keeps other retailers on their toes regarding pricing.”
Which could mean cheaper summer dresses for all of us.
If you're a basketball fan, you'll be in front of the tube Game 7 of the NBA Finals Thursday night.
Marketing-wise, pro basketball players have sold a lot of things: Cars. Credit cards. Beer -- duh.
Well, how about Obamacare?
That's right, there's talk of a partnership with the NBA to get the word out to the uninsured.
Athletes hawking insurance, it's been done. Massachusetts paid the Boston Red Sox to promote its health exchanges a few years back. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield threw this pitch, on TV.
Tim Wakefield: "The state's health connector has affordable plans, lots to choose from, and easy sign-up."
Last week at a state health meeting, officials indicated the Feds will follow suit, citing a "national campaign sponsored by the NBA."
Josh Archambeau of the Massachusetts think tank Pioneer Institute attended. He says the target group is young, single males.
"And the demographics of the NBA certainly match that," Archambeau says. "And probably most important, their season also coincides with open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act."
The NBA didn't call us back to confirm. Federal health officials would only say they're "speaking with a wide range of potential partners."
What is clear is the president loves basketball. He hooped it up with NBA stars in D.C. three years ago. Former White House economist Jared Bernstein was there with the pros.
"They were probably playing at around 5 percent," says Bernstein. "And he was playing at around 100 percent, but that said, he scored a few baskets as I recall."
An NBA assist would be great for the White House.
But what about the league? It has to be careful not to appear political.
"If they're out there saying 'hey there's this new thing out there you need to check it out, find out if it's for you,' that's one deal," says says brand consultant Jamie Rice at Carton Donofrio Partners. "If they are out there saying 'the president has done X, Y and Z and we need to support him' that's a completely different deal."
Whatever the outreach, it'll be hard persuading young, healthy men without families to buy insurance.
But the health care law needs them paying into the system to succeed.
The gravestone incorrectly listed his birth year as 1942, instead of 1924. The engraver has corrected the error.
Robert Mueller told the Senate the FBI used drones rarely and for surveillance proposes. The DEA and the ATF had both revealed they possessed drones.
The National Potato Council wants potatoes to be allowed in a supplemental food program for low-income women and children at nutritional risk. But advocates for the program say the industry just wants to circumvent the scientific process that sets policy on nutrition.
Some small communities hit 96 degrees, punctuating the strongest heat wave since 1969.
The White House says the United States will arm Syrian rebels, but a new poll shows most Americans don't like the idea. Guest host Celeste Headlee speaks with Shadi Hamid of The Brookings Institution, about America's current and future involvement in Syria.
The National Archives' upcoming exhibit, 'The Record of Rights,' is about the human rights struggles faced by women, African-Americans, and immigrants in the U.S. Guest host Celeste Headlee talks with one of the exhibit's curators about some of the more unique items on display.
The martini has been called "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet." But is this cocktail perfectly American? Maybe not entirely. In honor of National Martini Day, we decided to dig into the drink's muddled past.
As of 2011, about 34 million Americans worked from their home in some capacity, and that number is increasing. The rise in more people working from home means more time they're able to spend with family, right?
In actual fact, it means remote workers are getting creative about how to avoid the folks they share space with.
It's a Friday afternoon in Los Angeles. Author and screenwriter Jessica Koosed Etting is sitting in her home office, emailing with her publishing company about a new young adult novel. It's an unusually quiet moment. Etting has two sons, ages 3 and 1. Right now they're on a walk with the babysitter.
"I kind of know they're about to walk in and I'm trying to do things that are less concentration-heavy, because I know I'm going to be jolted in a few minutes," she says.
Etting's office is in a nook in her bedroom. She has a bathroom in here, and she stocks a full supply of water, coffee and snacks.
"Because if I am thirsty and I have to leave my office for a glass of water in the kitchen, that could inevitably mean I run into the kids and the nanny, and then it's 'Mommy, sit with me for lunch,'" she says.
But all this hiding and dealing with interruptions can take its toll. Etting has plans to build a more detached office. She says it could cost upwards of $25,000. It's enough to make you doubt the joys of spending the day in pajamas.
"Working from home can be wonderful," says Stew Friedman, who directs the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School's WorkLife Integration project. "It often isn't because people don't think through well enough what they need to do to make it work."
Friedman says people switch back-and-forth frequently between a work role and family role when they have a home office. That can be confusing for younger kids or even a spouse. Friedman's tip is to come up with a signal, something as simple as putting signs on the door.
"Red means 'Do not enter, Mommy is doing something that cannot be disturbed.' Yellow means you can knock, and green means you can come on in," he suggests.
More and more people are dealing with the challenges of living and working at home. Friedman thinks that houses of the future may be built to suit both uses. For now, there's a niche industry altering the houses of yesterday.
John Granahan's construction company specializes in high-end soundproofing. Companies like his have seen an increase in demand for soundproofing home offices -- 50 percent between last year and the year before.
After the housing crash, companies accused of shady financial dealings would be investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Punishment usually consisted of a fine and did not include any admission of wrongdoing. It's known as a "no admit, no deny" settlement.
Many lawmakers and other political figures have complained about the practice, and now the new head of the SEC, Mary Jo White, is responding. Yesterday, White said the SEC will seek guilty confessions in some cases. But beyond moral satisfaction, just what does a mea culpa really get you?
Donald Langevoort, a professor of law at Georgetown University, says the reason it matters is something called Collateral Estoppel. "Once you’ve been found liable in one case, you cannot deny it in the next," he explains.
Langevoort says it means that admitting guilt comes with the promise of more lawsuits. "Anybody who considers themselves a victim, whether it be a shareholder, a competitor, a state regulator, can say, it’s not a question of whether you did anything wrong anymore. It’s, ‘What do you owe us?’"
That means it is cheaper for most companies to go to court says Joe Grundfest, professor of law and business at Stanford University. That’s bad news for the SEC, which has limited resources, hundreds of cases to try and simply can't afford to fight huge companies in court.
"If the SEC wants to settle these matters quickly and get money back to investors quickly, it often has to agree to settle on a neither admit nor deny basis," says Grundfest.
Still, the threat of having to admit guilt is important says John Coffee, director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia University Law School. Coffee says companies should not be able to count on a slap-on-the wrist fine when they break the law. Coffee says the SEC may simply have to reshuffle resources.
"We may have less SEC actions, but the settlements will be more meaningful, and I think that’s the right direction to move in," he says.
Coffee expects we will still see a lot of “no admit, no deny” settlements from the SEC.
The American Medical Association still has a considerable bully pulpit. And the group's vote Tuesday could give more oomph to efforts to have obesity interventions paid for by insurers and to get the public focused on the problem.
Many times when companies settle with the Securities and Exchange Commission, they don't have to admit they did anything wrong. That practice may be changing.
Recently, we've seen stock prices shoot up, with home prices following right along. As they've risen higher and higher, some market watchers have tossed around a word that connotes something very light, but in this context, carries heavy meaning: bubble.
Today on Wall Street, all eyes are on the Federal Reserve. The Fed is expected to announce what it plans to do with interest rates and whether it will continue its massive bond buying program known as quantitative easing.
More interview transcripts from the IRS investigation are released, but there's still no evidence of a direct connection to the White House.