The new pope is known for his appeal to the common man, but appears to hold many of the same conservative views as his predecessor.
White smoke emerged from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel signaling the selection of a new pope.
Decades after its eradication, the "breakbone fever" has become endemic again in the Florida Keys. Scientists say that Floridians infected during a recent outbreak didn't catch the virus abroad but rather got a dengue strain that's unique to Key West.
The Federal Reserve's bond and mortgage purchases have kept long-term interest rates low, but they haven't done what the Fed intended -- which was to help would-be home buyers get affordable mortgages.
Instead, they've fueled a new round of speculation by investors and real estate developers. And that's meant a new generation of Americans has become renters rather than owners.
Yes, home sales and prices have been rising, which in turn has created lot of construction jobs and made some home-owners feel a bit wealthier. All good for the economy, at least for now.
But the housing market hasn't turned around because banks are issuing lots of new mortgages. Lending standards are still tight, and banks are reluctant to lend -- especially to younger. Unemployment remains high among millennials -- more than 8 percent even for recent college graduates. And their student debts keep mounting. As a result, the number of first-time home buyers is still shrinking, and young buyers now make up their smallest share of the housing market in more than a decade.
The rise in home prices and construction is being fueled instead by big investors -- many of whom are paying cash and have no intention of living in the homes they buy or build. They're getting a high return on investment by borrowing at rock-bottom rates and then turning the properties into rental units, which young individuals and families are moving into in record numbers.
Last month, a Pew Research Center survey found that the share of millennials who own their homes has fallen from 40 percent to 34 percent since the start of the recession, with a similar decline in residential debt.
Overall, the percent of Americans owning their homes continues to drop, while the percent renting is growing.
The housing market may be bouncing back, but not homeownership. And that's a big change for an economy and society once based on the ideal of owning your own place.
The survey doesn't just pose a simple yes or no question on whether the Scouts should lift its ban on gay members and leaders. Instead it seeks answers using detailed hypotheticals.
On the second day of their conclave, 115 Roman Catholic cardinals settled on their selection. Now, the new pontiff faces the challenge of leading a church that is confronting many challenges. His chosen name honors a saint known for works of mercy and a simple lifestyle.
The prince's dream of reintroducing European bison, or wisent, into Germany's most densely populated state will soon be reality. It will be the first time in nearly 300 years that these creatures will roam Western Europe. But not everyone is as excited as the prince.
Three decades after giving the world The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden is poised to release its latest work — and it's a beer. "As a fan of traditional English cask beer, I thought this could actually be something really exciting," singer Bruce Dickinson says.
The share of the American public that identifies simply as Catholic, however, has risen slightly to 18 percent in 2012 from 14 percent in 1974.
The smartphone wars are fought on a lot of fronts. It starts with creating a great product. And Samsung’s Galaxy is getting real credit for being innovative, said Andrew Lih, an iPhone user and a professor of journalism at University of Southern California.
He’s considering making a switch to the Galaxy.
“So even the Retina display that they’re touting with Apple is going to look a little bit low-res with what Samsung is announcing this week,” Lih said.
Along with a sharper screen, some analysts say that the new Galaxy will have “eye tracking” technology. A camera on the phone tracks your eyes when you’re reading and when you get to the bottom of the page, it scrolls down automatically.
To be sure, in terms of popularity, Samsung still has a lot of catching up to do in the U.S. where Apple’s got about 40 percent of the smartphone market to Samsung’s 20 percent. But the Galaxy is generating a lot of buzz. For the first time since Apple launched the iPhone, the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant might have a real competitor in the smartphone space.
But with so many smartphones out there, you need an identity.
“Branding has become an absolute must in this market,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner.
Milanesi added that Samsung has positioned Galaxy as a real alternative to the iPhone -- something no other cell phone maker has been able to do. And Samsung is spending plenty on advertising to do it.
“In 2012, Apple’s budget increased to $333 million, but in contrast, Samsung’s budget skyrocketed to $401 million,” said Prashant Malaviya, a marketing professor at Georgetown’s Business School.
Samsung has launched a series of clever ads, gently poking fun of the iPhone as a has-been. So the real question now, is whether it can deliver the “next new thing.”
Celixia Rodriguez used to spend more than 60 percent of her income on rent. She makes about $10 an hour cleaning houses in Boston and picks up any side work she can.
“Even if I had five part time jobs, at $10 an hour it’s hard to come up with $1,500 a month and still support your children and fill your gas tank,” she says.
For three years, Rodriguez and her two kids doubled up, sharing a three-bedroom apartment in Boston with her sister and her two kids. Now she’s moved to the suburbs and her rent is subsidized by the local nonprofit, Neighborhood Housing Services of the South Shore. Her rent is now a much more manageable 30 percent of her income.
Over a quarter of renter households paid over half their income to rent in 2010, says Eric Belsky, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. That’s up from 20 percent in 2000.
“And we know that that’s a risk for homelessness, because you just have so little left over for basic necessitie,s and you are unable to save for emergencies,” says Megan Bolton, the research director at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which released a report looking on rents and wages this week.
The study estimates that workers would need to make $18.79 an hour in order to keep rent from eating up more than 30 pecent of their income. Yet the average renter actually only makes an hourly wage of $14.32.
That often means sacrificing on money for food, health care, travel, and other expenses.
It also means the economic impact can spread from the renter to the communities they live in, says Harvard’s Belsky.
“They’re spending less on things in the local economy,” he says. “There’s no question, from nothing comes nothing.”
Moreover, some renters are forced out of pricey cities because they can’t afford the rents at all.
“Families are deliberately, and in many cases systematically, moving outside of some of the high-cost cities across the country,” says Brett Theodos, a senior research associate in the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center. “What we’re losing there is some of the fabric of social life in cities.”
President Obama isn't just sitting at conference tables with Republicans in Congress these days, he's sitting down at the dinner table. In fact, this week he dined with a group of senators for a business dinner to discuss the budget.
Now, a business dinner is an opportunity to get to know each other, to talk business in a social setting, to make an impression. But as anyone who's sat down for one of these meals knows, there's all that food on the table. How do you avoid botching lunch? Marketplace’s Adriene Hill met up with Jules Hirst of Etiquette Consulting, Inc. for a one-on-one lesson.
Listen to the story above, and check out some of the tidbits she picked up:
- Always follow your host’s lead. Put your napkin in your lap after they put their napkin in their lap. Order food in the same price range as the food that they order.
- The fold of your napkin should go toward you.
- Order a food that is easy to eat. Ribs are a bad choice.
- Eat before you go out to lunch. You don’t want to scarf your food during the interview or meeting. You want the focus to be on the conversation, not the food.
- If your host orders alcohol, you may order alcohol. But know yourself well enough to know whether or not it’s a good idea to drink it.
- Wait until your host starts to eat before you start to eat.
- If your host asks a question just as you take a bite of food, politely indicate with your fingers that you will talk as soon as you have swallowed.
- Don’t correct someone else’s manners at the table.
- If you have called the meeting, you should pay. Instead of waiting for the bill to come to the table, step away to the restroom, hand your credit card to the waitstaff and ask them to add a 20 percent tip.
- Write a thank you note.
Jennifer Carroll was questioned in connection with the federal investigation of a company that owns Internet cafes, which local law enforcement officials view with suspicion as a front for online gambling.
Members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee are holding a hearing today on sexual assault in the military. Host Michel Martin discusses how the military handles sexual assault cases with Anu Bhagwati, the executive director of the Service Women's Action Network, and with Jennifer Hlad, a reporter for Stars and Stripes.
Among fast-fashion chains, "made in the USA" labels are hard to find. Forever 21 has reaped billions ordering clothes from around the world. American Apparel, however, boasts that its garments are made domestically. The key to its profitability may lie in the limited types of garments it sells.
Telemedicine sounds like a good idea, but state laws limit it, and insurers usually won't pay for that. Parkinson's specialist Ray Dorsey is determined to prove that it can work, one patient at a time. The latest lure: free 30-minute consults.
American corporations are on hight alert on the hacking front after a series of attacks coming from China.
President Obama sat down with a group of CEOs at the White House today to talk about strategies to protect their companies' confidential business information from the threat of cyber attacks.
"You can be self-defensive, you can protect yourself against an attack. You can't go back after the hacker or the computer that appears to be attacking you because that's basically doing what the attacker is doing," said Zetter.
President Obama signed an executive order last month designed to make it easier for the government to warn private companies of cyber threats and to set up a system of voluntary cybersecurity standards. The government is in a better position than corporations to fight back after a company has been hacked.
"The government can take certain legal measure," Zetter said. "They can go after the servers and get them taken down. They can't hack the servers, but they can go after the authorities who host the servers and get those taken down."
A television ad from Fujian’s tourism bureau shows off the province’s lush, green mountains, and sandy beaches. Crystal clear views abound. "Take a deep breath," says the voiceover, "you’re in Fujian."
"We launched the clean air tourism campaign in January, when Beijing’s pollution levels were very bad," says Zheng Weirong, deputy director of the bureau. "We’re promoting 20 tourism sites around the province where people can breathe clean air."
Boasting about clean air may seem to set the bar pretty low. But in a country where just one percent of half a billion urban residents breathe air judged safe by European Union standards, Fujian’s strategy is paying off.
A guide holding a neon pink flag in one hand and a megaphone in the other corrals a group of tourists along an island pathway overlooking the sea in the city of Xiamen. On this particular day, Xiamen’s level of what’s known as PM2.5 -- particulate matter in the air small enough to enter your blood stream -- hovers around 45. That’s dirtier than the most-polluted day on record in Los Angeles over a 24-hour period. But these folks are from Beijing, where on this day the level is 10 times as bad.
What would your city look like with Beijing's smog? Use our Smog Simulator to see. Tourist Yun Ya is thrilled. "The air is so fresh here!" she says, adjusting her sunglasses. "Whenever I go to work in Beijing, I have to wear a mask or else I’ll start coughing uncontrollably. It’s just been terrible lately."
Yun is part of a 38 percent spike in tourists to Fujian this year -- twice the national average. Like most tourists interviewed for this story, she came here to escape the smog. "China has always followed the path of ‘pollute first, clean up later,'" says Yun, who works for an environmental consulting company in Beijing, "But if China doesn’t start cleaning up its environment, I’m afraid of what’s going to happen. An environment like this one in China has become rare."
Fujian hugs China’s Southeastern coast. It’s position along the Taiwain Strait helps diffuse pollutants in the air. Deng Junjun, a researcher at the China Academy of Science’s Institute of Urban Environment, says Fujian’s air is cleaner than other parts of China thanks to policy decisions, too. "For 35 years, Fujian’s government has ensured that it’s had the highest forestry coverage rate throughout China," says Deng.
Still, Deng says an increase in car ownership means that Xiamen’s air, despite its national fame of a clean air city is getting slightly dirtier each year. There are no cars here on a quiet tree-lined alley on the island of Gulangyu in Xiamen; just birds.
And two young lovers on their honeymoon, holding hands, going for a morning stroll. Ai Jintao and Zhang Nana came here from Beijing."It’s nice to be here. On our way here, we drove through Shandong," recalls Ai. "The smog was so thick that police had to close the highway. You couldn’t even see the cars in front of you! There’s no traffic at all here. There’s a little fog in the morning here, but it smells like the ocean."
Ai says he’ll be sure to take a deep breath before he heads back home to smoggy Beijing.
The Los Angeles Times looks at the blog posts written over a 4-year period by "Rocy Bird," who told tales of what it's like inside a People's Liberation Army hacking unit.
A bill proposed in California today could open the door a bit wider to massive open online courses, or MOOCs. (By the way, if anyone’s got a better name for these things, send it our way). The bill would require public colleges and universities in the state to grant credit for MOOCs and other online courses when students can’t get into those classes on campus
Budget cuts have taken such a big bite out of California’s community colleges and universities that thousands of students are turned away from required classes.
“No college student should be denied the right to complete their education because they could not get a seat [in] the course that they needed in order to graduate,” said Darrell Steinberg, president pro tem of the California senate, in a press conference announcing the bill today.
If it passes, the bill could be good news for companies like StraighterLine, based in Baltimore, Md. The company sells low-cost intro courses like the ones students are having trouble getting into.
“What it also does is open a much larger marketplace,” says Burck Smith, StraighterLine’s CEO.“A larger marketplace will ultimately drive prices down, will raise quality up, and that’s a good thing.”
Others looking for a bigger slice of that market are providers of those massive open courses -- companies like Udacity and Coursera. Classes on artificial intelligence and gamification have been wildly popular, but few colleges accept them for actual credit.
F. King Alexander, president of California State University, Long Beach, is concerned that too few students who sign up for MOOCs actually finish them. Of course, that might change when the stakes are higher.
“At the moment, we’re very neutral but very optimistic about taking advantage of these technologies,” says Alexander.
Faculty also have good reason to be nervous about online alternatives, says Kevin Carey, director of education policy at the New America Foundation.
“It may mean that people who right now are employed as adjunct professors teaching these basic classes will not have those jobs in the future,” Carey says.
The bill has to pass first. With Democrats controlling the legislature, it’s got a good shot. Sen. Steinberg said today, “if it wasn’t at least a little bit controversial, it wouldn’t be worth doing.”