For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try the newest addition to the Burger King menu: a burger topped with french fries. It's the latest stage in the march toward Total Menu Integration.
The Boston Beer Co., which brews Sam Adams, has seen its stock soar. The brewer reported net revenue of $181.3 million in the second quarter of 2013.
Mehta conducted the Bavarian State Orchestra in Srinagar over the weekend. But the audience of mostly VIPs rankled many Kashmiris — and the heavy police presence served as a reminder of the security situation in the restive Indian state.
In southern Louisiana, the coast is moving. The sea is overtaking the land...pretty fast, too. Stronger hurricanes and tropical storms predicted for coming decades will wash away more of it. And while you often hear people invoke the rich cultural heritage as a reason to save the region, there’s a lot of rich oil and gas companies that would like protection, too.
Terrebonne Parish is the setting for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," last year’s Oscar-nominated film about a magical little girl and her swamp community, the Bathtub. The fictional Bathtub people live outside levee protection. As sea levels rise they fight to survive -- and they look it. A ragtag crew of revelers.
Businessman Oneil Marlborough’s family goes back generations here. He couldn’t look more opposite, all resilient good cheer in khakis and a button-down. He’s fighting for his community, in real life. “We see in our lifetime that the water is higher today, under normal conditions, than it was 30 years ago,” he says. Tidal gauges prove it, he says.
Marlborough owns an engineering firm that’s designed much of the flood protection for Terrebonne Parish. The system can open and close, a consideration made specifically for the oil industry. The huge boats that service offshore rigs need to get in and out.
“We got to keep them open, for navigation, because navigation is our jobs," Marlborough says.
He drives me down the spine of road along the Houma Navigation Canal. It’s lined with mom-and-pop boat yards and pipefitters, along with big corporate names like Halliburton. At the end is open water, with a miles-long wall, 12-feet tall, and a wide gate in the middle of it. Wide enough to bring in oil drilling machinery for safe harbor, in the event of a hurricane.
“There’s a 200-foot opening, and there’s a barge that’s on a hinge. It’s 200 feet, by 20 feet deep, by 40 feet wide, so it’s a big heavy piece of metal, but floating in the water it’s easy to move,” he says.
This idea for a floating door to the huge flood gate came from the oil industry, he says. For decades, oil and gas drillers have learned to build things out on the water. Local firms like Marlborough’s have specialized to meet their needs, and met government needs in the process.
"We’ve developed expertise in working in the marsh and the soils we have to deal with," Marlborough says.
That’s exactly the kind of expertise Allison Plyer sees as a new economic driver for Louisiana. She heads the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.
“We have the opportunity to become the leaders in coastal restoration. And we know there will be market opportunities for that, because the whole coastline of the U.S. is at risk.”
Louisiana experts are already in New York and New Jersey, helping out in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Plyer says now’s the time to develop those skills into an industry, with higher-education programs.
At Delgado Community College in New Orleans, Bettie Abbate directs the horticulture program. She teaches her students to grow all kinds of things…including native marsh plants.
"This doesn’t look like much, looks like a weed you’d have growing in your back yard," she says. "This is a grass. It’s easy to propogate. I could get eight plants from this one one-gallon plant."
She’s taken students from around the country down to Grand Isle, a barrier island off the coast of Louisiana. They brought little plugs of grass to replace what’s washed away in hurricanes.
"We had a trailer full that we brought down there, and we totally replanted that berm. Those berms on the beach in Grand Isle are the first line of defense."
The students were taken by the beauty of the landscape, she says. And they saw what those little grasses that hold the sand together help defend. The cranes of Port Fourchon, where hundreds of supply boats come and go to serve offshore rigs. Eighteen of the nation’s oil supply relies on this port.
"And then they realize the economic importance to the rest of the country. And they’re like 'we get it,' 'we get why we have to do this.'”
On the way home, she said, water lapped at the one road from the island. The oil industry, and government, don’t seem to be counting much on Grand Isle for protection. They’ve spent hundreds of millions to build a highrise bridge to Port Fourchon, high above the old road, and high above the marsh.
We are borrowing more.
In July we borrowed 4.4 percent more than we borrowed in the same month last year. How much money did Americans borrow in July? A whopping $2.853 trillion -- $10.4 billion more than we borrowed in June.
Conventional wisdom says this is a good thing: the more we borrow, the more we spend. And the more we spend, the more money companies make, which means they can make more stuff, and employ more people and grow. And as companies grow, so does the nation.
Unfortunately, that's not the kind of borrowing that we're seeing. People who borrow in order to spend, do so by hammering their credit cards. But the latest numbers from the Federal Reserve show that credit card borrowing (called revolving credit in the financial world) is falling: down 2.6 percent compared to last year. And this is the second month in a row that revolving credit is down.
Instead, so-called non-revolving credit, which means loans taken out to finance cars, boats, vacations and education, rose 7.4 percent compared to last year.
Wow! 7.4 percent! That's $12.3 billion more than last month! So where did all that money go? Not into cars: auto sales were down one percent in July. Maybe into vacations; we certainly traveled a lot in July. And maybe into boats: powerboat sales jumped 18 percent that month. But not that many people are buying boats these days. It seems likely that the real gains were seen in student borrowing. And that's bad news.
Why? Because money spent on education doesn't filter into the economy in the same way. It doesn't provide retailers and producers with the same kind of shot in the arm that breaking out the credit card can.
Of course, some people might consider it a good thing that people aren't maxing out their credit cards at the mall -- shouldn't we be deleveraging right now, as opposed to loading up on debt? The problem is, of course, that we're not deleveraging. Borrowing is still up, but the money's not being spent on things that will help us recover. Instead, much of it is loading students down with debt that could hinder their progress through school and through life, and possibly create an even greater drag on the economy.
While making the case for striking Syria, the secretary of state also tried to reassure Americans and U.S. allies that the effort won't draw the nation into another war. His choice of words is getting attention.
To “encrypt” is the act of concealing data by converting it into code. And as we learned last week, much of the “encryption” technology companies use to make our information safe online might not be that safe after all.
According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency has used supercomputers to crack the codes or worked with tech companies to find a way around them to decode encrypted data. Well today, Google announced it’s fighting back and beefing up its encryption.
Most of the data we give Google -- in emails and searches -- that’s encrypted. But eventually, all that information ends up on Google’s servers. And when they pass the data back and forth, it’s not encrypted.
Google’s said it’s going to start encrypting that data, said Matt Blaze, a cyber-security professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
“And essentially what that does is makes it more difficult for the NSA to make any sense of communications that it intercepts without Google’s cooperation,” said Blaze.
And Blaze says that it’s not just the National Security Agency. We’ve known for a that countries like China and Russia are trying to get a hold of our data too. He thinks companies like Microsoft and Amazon are making similar updates too.
Looked at one way, today’s announcement is a PR offensive, said Matthew Green is a cyber-security professor at Johns Hopkins University.
“They’re announcing this today to make sure that people know that this is important to them,” Green said.
By “people,” Green’s talking about companies that store their data and do their computing on Google’s servers. By one account, cloud services rang up about $18 billion in worldwide sales last year.
But cybersecurity experts say, the effectiveness of Google’s new safeguards will probably be short lived, said Dan Kaminsky, a cybersecurity expert.
“You know the honest truth is it is an arms race, the other side has all the cards,” Kaminsky said.
Still, Kaminsky says if Google wants to compete for business abroad, it’s got to show the world that it’s doing everything it can to keep its data private
President Obama is doing his best to be must-see TV. Tonight, he’ll make his case for an attack on Syria in interviews with six different news anchors. And tomorrow, the president will address the nation during primetime.
For a White House steeped in new-media outlets online, that’s certainly a lot of old-media time. But it's time well spent, says Bill Carroll, vice president of Katz Television Group.
"The best way to reach the largest number of people is by going on television," he says.
Nightly news viewership is smaller than it once was, but ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox still get a combined five million viewers a night.
And that time doesn’t come cheap. As a candidate, Obama would have had to pay as much as $100,000 a minute for an ad during those shows. That means tonight’s six interviews could be worth millions of dollars.
Carroll expects more people will tune in to the news to see the president, something that will please advertisers as much as the White House.
"It’s a very direct way of making your point in as intimate a setting as you can and still reach everyone that you’re trying to reach," Carroll says.
A one-on-one interview is a clever tactic, says political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
"The advantage of going on these news programs before giving a speech is to soften up the battlefield," he says.
Tonight, Obama can be relaxed and down to earth. In his White House speech tomorrow, he is likely to appear forceful and presidential.
Obama’s reach will be broader than viewers who watch him live, predicts Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of public policy and economics at Harvard. He says the broadcasts will reach older viewers, while younger Americans will go online to watch highlights.
"Young people today look at YouTube videos way ahead of New York Times articles, I’m afraid, so it’s the medium where you get the most impact, especially with the younger audience," he says.
Obama’s not the only leader turning to TV to gain public support. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will also appear tonight on CBS and PBS.
It's getting harder and harder to find a company that'll give you health insurance once you're retired. Both IBM and Time Warner have just announced they're going to end health coverage for retirees under their plans. Instead, they will give retirees an annual check to shop for their own insurance on a private health-insurance exchange.
The key word there is "private." This is not Obamacare. These are private health insurance exchanges for retirees -- kind of like giant insurance brokers.
If you're a retiree from one of these companies, says Paul Fronstin with the Employment Benefit Research Institute, there are upsides. You'll have a bigger choice of plans. You can pick the plan that's right for you. Of course, just how much choice you'll have depends on how generous your company's contribution is.
IBM and Time Warner aren't the first to dump in-house health care, in favor of private exchanges. Fronstin says, "I would expect more employers doing this with retiree health benefits."
"Many firms are looking for ways to disentangle themselves from retiree health benefits and costs," says Tricia Neuman, with the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Most large companies don't offer any retiree coverage. Twenty years ago, about two-thirds did.
Moving retiree health insurance to private exchanges, is also one less thing for a company to worry about. "It could be that they are just trying to distance themselves from managing their health benefits," says Neuman.
After all, that's not the business they're in.
The Oneida Nation wants the Washington Redskins to change their name and mascot - and they're hoping sports fans will help sway team owners. Host Michel Martin talks with Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter.
Many people saw the Arab Spring as a sign of hope for youth in the area. But unemployment numbers there reflect the opposite. Host Michel Martin speaks with The Wall Street Journal economics reporter Sudeep Reddy and Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, about the economic realities of the post-Arab Spring world.
The one thing Apple has going for it in China is cachet. And that’s why Tom Doctoroff, Asia Pacific CEO of ad agency JWT thinks offering an inexpensive iPhone to the Chinese is a very bad idea.
"One of the golden rules of marketing in China is that anything displayed in public can command a huge price premium," says Doctoroff. "And the reason for that is status is a primary driver here, much, much more so than in the West. So when you offer an inexpensive iPhone, it immediately signals that this isn’t so elite anymore."
Buzz for the iPhone has been wearing off here. A report from global analyst Canalys shows that in the last quarter, the iPhone fell from fifth to seventh most popular smartphone in China. It was overtaken by the Chinese firm Xiaomi, which just released a new affordable phone that’s generating a lot of hype.
Charlie Custer, who edits the blog Tech in Asia says Apple won’t be able to compete with a new slew of Chinese phone makers like Xiaomi on price.
"Even the cheap iPhone is going to come in above what the Xiaomi costs," says Custer. "So then it’s not a luxury phone, but it’s not as inexpensive as this really nice inexpensive phone. So who exactly is going to buy it? I’m not sure."
The answer may come this week. Apple’s been in talks with China Mobile to help sell the iPhone. It's the world's largest telecom company, with 745 million subscribers. If that deal comes through, then iPhones -- inexpensive or not -- will suddenly have a market more than twice the size of the one at home in the U.S.
Researchers argue that through social media and on-the-ground research, a detailed portrait of the Syrian rebels has emerged. This goes against the conventional wisdom, which holds that little is known about the rebel factions.
Two large investors — Ares Management LLC and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board — have reached a deal to purchase Neiman Marcus, Inc., for $6 billion, the companies said Monday. The two buyers will hold equal shares of Neiman, which is based in Dallas.
Russia's foreign minister says he has told his Syrian counterpart that one way to head off a U.S. strike could be to hand over control of those weapons to international watchdogs. The Assad regime has reportedly welcomed the suggestion. The White House says any turnover has to be verifiable.
Crew members set the fire to get rid of their cargo, according to officials in Italy and Malta. Authorities had approached the Gold Star, a Tanzania-registered ship, for an inspection Friday afternoon.
Retirees from IBM and Time Warner will have to go shopping for health coverage.
Negotiators are back at the table, after a federal judge vacated new regulations for career training programs last summer.
And Apple wants owners to sell their old iPhones back to the company for a discount on a new phone.
With the start of a new football season comes the renewal of the debate over the Redskins' controversial name. Writer Lakshmi Gandhi takes us through the convoluted history of the word "redskin."
Two big companies are making major moves on health insurance and won’t be the last to do so, meaning more changes in how Americans get coverage. IBM and Time Warner are both shifting the health care of their retirees into private health care exchanges.
At IBM alone, about 110 thousand employees will be affected. Instead of getting health insurance through the company, they’ll choose among several plans through a private exchange. And many more American retirees will get their coverage the same way as other companies follow suit.
“I think it’s a tsunami. We’re gonna find virtually all early retirees going into the exchanges,” says J.B. Silvers, a healthcare finance professor at Case Western Reserve University. “A big question, how will the plans on these private exchanges be priced?”
Some retirees could find better deals, especially if they’re relatively healthy. But those who have chronic illnesses or use expensive prescription drugs could wind up paying more over time.
This expansion of private health insurance exchanges comes as public exchanges created by President Obama’s health care overhaul come online. Together, it means Americans will face complicated and important new choices when it comes to their coverage.
The prime minister took a train from London to York on Saturday, and a passenger says Cameron left his "red box" unattended for a time. It's one of the traditional briefcases that British officials use to carry papers. Cameron's office, though, says security personnel were always near.