One of the really big challenges facing our world is how to grow more food without using up the globe's land and water. One company in Ohio says we've been ignoring one solution: insects. It's using larvae of the black soldier fly to convert waste into feed for fish or pigs.
In a paper released in the journal Science, researchers explain that if the Red Planet is harboring life, the instruments on the rover have been unable to sniff it out.
Imagine never missing a bill payment. Imagine only having to remember one online password. That’s the pitch from a new online service called Manilla. It's free, and automatically organizes all of your bills.
Sounds pretty good, right? But a lot of people aren’t even close to using a bill paying app. Many still use paper checks.
It’s been 13 years since online bill pay allowed folks to go paperless and automatic. But today, only 50 percent of U.S. consumers pay bills online. Why?
"The decision a person makes to adopt a new technology is based on two key factors," says Fred Davis, a professor of Information Systems at the University of Arkansas. "Number one, their perception of whether the technology is useful. And secondly, it should be it should also be easy to use."
Davis studies the ways consumers adopt new technology habits. He says personal finance habits take longer to change than the way you might switch from one smartphone to another. That’s because money is so important to us.
As Davis puts it, "Sometimes holding onto the old way of doing things is quite rational."
He says it’s not just stubbornness and emotion that keeps people from changing.
"For them to use the electronic statement, maybe it's going to be more of a hassle and more effort because now I have to log in and remember my password. So there is a convenience factor," he says.
Now banks and other services would love to see consumers automate and ditch paper altogether. In fact, that’s one way free financial apps make a profit. Every time someone signs up and goes paperless, Manilla gets money from your cell phone company, your bank, or cable service. In the U.S., banks spend a combined $1.5 billion supporting paper check payments every year.
Paul McAdam, at Fidelity Information Services, says a few years back, the British government tried to set a deadline for elimination of paper checks.
But, McAdam notes, "They had to back off and completely scrap those plans due to public outcry, and they said that the U.K. naming system would keep checks as long as customers needed them. I think if a similar thing we're tempted in the U.S., we'd see the same reaction."
Folks here in the U.S. probably don’t need prodding. We’re writing fewer and fewer checks every year, and at that rate, they could naturally disappear by the year 2026. Rest assured, we the consumers will set the timeline.
Three men are out campaigning in the center of Berlin and they are causing a bit of a stir. All three are clad from head to toe in bright blue leotards.
They run around handing out leaflets and, with their features flattened and obscured by the blue Spandex, the men urge the slightly alarmed passersby to: “Vote for Alternative for Germany!”
“I look a bit like a blue Spiderman,” concedes one of the campaigners, Freidrich Hilse. “But we see ourselves as superheroes. We are trying to show the voters that we are different!”
Germany’s newest political party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), formed barely six months ago. The party represents a kind of rebellion by the economics profession. Among its members it counts almost 300 university professors of economics. And it is breaking a taboo of German politics by calling for an end to the euro in its current form.
“We would like to have most of the southern countries leave the eurozone,” says another blue body-stockinged crusader, Christian Schmidt. He’s a founding member of the AfD and -- of course -- an economist. “We would like to see Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Portugal and possibly even France quit the euro.”
“It is better to face up to what doesn’t really work in economic terms today,” says Schmidt. “Because the final bill will be much higher, the longer you wait.”
The AfD believes that the euro is unsustainable in its present form because there is too big a divergence between the economies of northern member states -- like Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland and their southern partners. And the North will constantly be required to bail out the South.
However, the AfD has had trouble getting this message across and opinion surveys suggest that it may not enough votes to win any seats in the German parliament. Here’s the problem for the anti-euro party: So far, Germany has done very nicely out of the single currency.
The euro is weaker than the old German currency -- the deutsche mark -- and that has made German exports cheaper on the world market.
And that has helped keep unemployment relatively low.
"No one is actually feeling the crisis here. They see it on the news. They read in the newspapers: something is going on," says Nora Hesse of the Open Europe think tank. "But they just don’t feel it in their everyday life. They have their jobs. Life is good in Germany."
And another thing: The cost of the eurozone crisis hasn’t hit home. Germany has lent hundreds of billions to southern Europe but so far, it hasn’t lost a single cent of that money. Yet.
Christian Schmidt claims that after this election, it’ll be a different story.
Greece will need another bailout and will have to write off some of the billions it has borrowed. That will not go down well with German taxpayers.
“Seventy-seven percent of the German public no longer wishes to send one more euro to Greece,” says Schmidt. “And once the haircut will be done -- and it’s inevitable -- then definitely taxes will have to go up and the German public feels it in their pocketbook.”
That will be the moment, he says, when the AfD won’t need Spiderman suits anymore to grab the public’s attention.
In his first remarks to reporters since taking office this month, FBI Director Jim Comey addressed security concerns following the Navy Yard shootings that left 13 people dead. He also talked about sequestration and leaks on government surveillance programs.
U.S. Circuit Judge William Traxler compared liking something on Facebook to displaying a political sign on your front yard, which the Supreme Court has found to be "substantive speech."
Francis' comments came in a wide-ranging interview with 16 Jesuit publications. He said when the church does speak about issues like gays, abortion and contraception, it should do so in context. "It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time," he said.
For those in places like Aurora, Tucson and Newtown, each new mass tragedy brings back terrible memories of their own traumas. Many say the shootings offer a reminder of the need to combat violence, but none pretend to offer any easy solution.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras lashes out at the right-wing Golden Dawn party after an extremist admits to killing a prominent Greek hip-hop artist.
The region has an alarmingly high incidence of rotted teeth, and heavy soda consumption is a big reason why, dentists and health advocates say. So they're beginning to target the food stamp program to ban recipients from buying soda with their vouchers.
Child labor is not a minor social blight in the country, it's a pillar of the economy — and it looks a lot like child labor in the U.S. circa the Industrial Revolution. As Myanmar opens to the world, its child labor practices are likely to face greater scrutiny.
For many economists, yesterday's news from the Federal Reserve came out of left field. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said the economy still isn't strong enough to taper off bond buying stimulus. The news has left some of the economic forecasters feeling led down the garden path -- a lot of money will have been lost taking financial positions based on the big prediction that didn't materialize.
Drew Matus, senior US economist at UBS Securities, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss.
Click the audio player above to hear more. And to listen to David's conversation with Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, click here.
You may want to think twice before bragging about all of those Twitter followers you've racked up. Apps and websites help figure out which followers are real, fake and "inactive" users.
When Massachusetts was trying to promote its health care reform law in 2007, it partnered with the Boston Red Sox. Pitcher Tim Wakefield appeared in ads promoting the exchange where Massachusetts residents could buy health insurance. There was a special “cover your bases” night at Fenway Park. And there were information booths at all home games so fans could find out about health insurance plans and even enroll.
But now that health care reform has gone national, things are different. No major league baseball teams are helping promote it. Football teams have shied away, too, except for the Baltimore Ravens, which will run an ad for the Maryland exchange before and after game broadcasts.
Advertising during games was a “no brainer,” said Becca Pearce, the executive director of the Maryland exchange, because many of Maryland’s uninsured are young men who like the Ravens.
“We know in our research that 71 percent of the uninsured either watched, listened to or attended a Ravens game in the past year,” she said.
Pearce said the exchange has a partnership with the Ravens, but it’s not as if players will be touting the benefits of health insurance. The team says the deal is nothing special, comparing it to advertising arrangements with the Maryland Lottery and Verizon. And the team turned down a request to talk about the ads.
Sports marketers say there’s a reason the Ravens are downplaying their deal with the Maryland Exchange.
“The team might actually anger the fans," said Chris Anderson of the firm Marketing Arm. "And they might be so upset in fact that the fans say you know what I’m not going to come back to the game next week.”
Anderson said President Obama’s health care reform law is much more political and controversial than the Massachusetts plan was. Indeed, a couple months ago, Republican congressional leaders sent a letter to six professional sports leagues, including the NFL, warning that a team would "risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand" by helping promote health care reform.
But the letter writers left soccer off the list. DC United, Washington’s soccer team, will help promote the District of Columbia’s exchange, said its chief, Mila Kofman. She said they’re sponsoring three DC United games next month, running public announcements, and setting up information booths in the parking lot and stadium
“We know that fans are Republicans and Democrats and some don’t care about politics at all," she said. "And this is all about the facts, getting the facts to the fans so they can make more informed decisions.”
You might think DC United would be eager to get out the facts about the partnership. But it seemed they were following the Ravens' lead -- even a team that has signed on to promote the health care reform law turned down our request for an interview.
Today is the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, a popular Chinese holiday where families typically gather to light lanterns and eat mooncakes. We take a look at some of the myths around the pastry's origins.
Outrage in the U.S. over a French photo spread featuring a seductively arrayed 10-year-old model helped spur proposed legislation to ban child beauty pageants in France. That's ironic considering how popular, prevalent and lucrative the American child, or "glitz," beauty pageant industry is.
People who show up wounded at a hospital often don't tell police. When a hospital in Cardiff, Wales, shared that information without naming names, the toll of violence dropped, and the city saved $11 million a year on health care and policing. Other British cities are adopting the program.
Google has announced it will be starting Calico, a new biotech company that aims to study the biology behind the process of aging with the hopes of finding a way to help humans live longer.
It has been almost 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson declared a "War on Poverty." But more than 15 percent of Americans still lived in poverty last year, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau. Host Michel Martin discusses how the country is tackling poverty today with researcher Isabel Sawhill and economics professor Martha Bailey.
The former House majority leader, a Republican, was convicted in 2010 for his part in what at the time was judged to be an illegal scheme to funnel money to candidates. But a Texas appeals court has ruled that the state failed to prove its case.