Proposals for chemical plants to use "inherently safer" design practices have been blocked by industry executives and their allies in Congress, despite deadly accidents and the risk of a potential terrorist attack that could harm an entire community or city.
The political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation wants GOP leaders to set aside legislation like the farm bill that might turn attention away from questions about the IRS and Benghazi.
Today, Bloomberg -- the financial-information company, not the New York mayor who founded it -- appointed former IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano to oversee an independent review of privacy and data practices.
Bloomberg has been scrambling since it acknowledged last week that its reporters snooped on bankers through Bloomberg Terminals, which feed financial data and are used for trading. Turns out, Bloomberg reporters could see what see what clients were doing on those terminals.
Bloomberg may be known publically for its news service, but the terminals keep the company in business. Banks and companies lease more than 300,000 Bloomberg terminals, each of which costs about $20,000 a year. Goldman Sachs alone has some 5,000 of them.
"When you go to a big trading floor, you’re looking at half an acre of Bloomberg terminals," says Max Wolff, a senior analyst at Greencrest Capital.
Wolff says it's not just the terminals. Between its news service, magazines, data service and other branches of its business, Bloomberg is woven in to the fabric of the finance industry.
"Bloomberg is omnipresent on Wall Street," he says. "Almost everyone in the financial business has some interaction with some part of Bloomberg on a regular basis."
That omnipresence is part of why this breach of trust is so serious, says Ken Doctor, media analyst for Outsell. Bloomberg terminals account for around 85 percent of Bloomberg's revenue.
"It's the center of the business," he says. "It raises that question of: ‘Is that terminal as secure as we thought?’”
Big banks are asking that very question. Bloomberg has been doing damage control with dozens of clients. J.P. Morgan Chase has asked Bloomberg to see logs of its reporters' activities on the terminals, and Citigroup reportedly banned some of its traders from using Bloomberg’s chat service.
"This could just be a blip,” says Doctor, “but it will be a blip that’s going to be remembered for a long time."
For big banks and smaller firms alike.
"I'm a nerdy guy. Sometimes I have four different Bloomberg Terminals on at once," says Stephen Leeb, president of Leeb Group, a money management firm, and author of several books.
Leeb says he loves the Bloomberg terminal and doesn’t plan to drop it but, but this incident is upsetting.
"I’m just uncomfortable with people knowing I’m interested in how the Chinese currency is behaving. Why should anyone else have the right to know that?” he says. “I might go to other internet sites than Bloomberg for information."
Bloomberg has restricted reporters’ access in the terminals. In a statement today, the company said nothing is more important than its clients' trust and that it's doing everything it can to make sure the issue is addressed.
Controversy has dogged the new DSM-5, what people like to call "the psychiatrist's bible," and it won’t even be officially released until this weekend.
Really, the book is a manual clinicians use to diagnose and classify people with mental illness.
While it sounds pretty dry, there’s a whole lotta drama around this book.
Before I say anything more about the DSM-5, here are a couple of facts about the DSM IV.
It's 19 years old and it still brings in about$4-5 million a year.
“It appears to meet a need for many, many people,” says Dr. James Scully who is CEO and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association – which publishes the manual.
And he says with 150,000 pre-orders the DSM-5 is a hot seller.
“We may do a second printing more quickly than we originally thought,” says Scully.
At $199 dollars for the hardcover, $149 for paperback — that’s more than $20 million in sales right there.
It cost the APA $25 million to produce the book. The DSM is so popular because it’s widely considered the book for doctors to define and diagnose mental illness in the United States.
“The DSM franchise has become enormously profitable publishing enterprise,” says Dr. Allen Frances who chaired the team that created the DSM-IV.
Frances is now a DSM critic with a book of his own, ‘Saving Normal.’
He’s concerned the latest manual includes new diagnosis that will drive up healthcare costs.
Frances also charges that financial pressures – like dwindling membership - are forcing the APA to treat the DSM like a cash cow, not a public trust.
“I don’t think they are doing it for their own personal gain. But I think the association placed a lot of pressure working on DSM 5 to get it out before its time,” he says.
Scully says the APA stands by its book.
“If we were doing this just to make money, we would do it more often than every 19 years,” says Scully.
Some doctors are boycotting the book. Others just don’t see a need to buy it.
Sandra Steingard is the medical director at a community mental health center in Burlington, Vermont.
“My advice to the agency is I don’t think that’s where our resources are best served,” says Steingard.
The APA doesn’t have much reason to worry right now.
The DSM-5 has been on Amazon’s Top 100 best seller list for more than a month. Today, it’s number 8.
On Saturday, it’ll be a year ago since Facebook had its IPO.
When it came out the gate, it was valued at about $100 billion dollars making it one of the most highly valued IPOs of all time. The only problem was, it wasn’t making much money. And that had a lot of investors concerned.
So how’s it doing now?
Before the IPO, he told Bloomberg that, “Mark and his signature hoodie, I mean he’s actually showing investors he doesn’t care that much... and I think that’s a mark of immaturity.”
What does he think today?
“I’m pretty confident that getting married changed him, as it does all of us. The guy just grew up overnight,” Pachter said.
Zuckerberg got married soon after the IPO.
“Since that day, every single time he’s spoken in public he’s talked about monetization. And he talks about better monetizing mobile,” Pachter said.
That bring us to Wall Street’s changing attitude toward Facebook. At the IPO Facebook didn’t really have a mobile money-making plan, said Clark Fredricksen, a researcher at e-Marketer.
“Last year Facebook went from zero mobile-ad revenues to leading the mobile display ad market by the end of 2012,” he said. Fredrickson expects that by the end of this year, the social network will have about 30 percent of the mobile display-ad market, ahead of Google.
But not everything has worked. In the past year, Facebook introduced lots of products that haven’t really taken off. There’s “gifts,” which allows you to buy stuff for you friends and Home, an app that turns an Android into a Facebook phone Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst at Forrester, said Facebook’s success in mobile has bought it some time.
“They clearly want to maintain their status as a nimble company willing to try new things and experiment,” Reiss-Davis said.
So what do the users think? There’s still a lot of talk about how Facebook has to be careful not to be too salesy or it might lose users.
Erica Terry-Derrick has been on Facebook for about five years now. She knows Facebook is using her data to sell ads but she’s used to it.
“I just think it’s part and parcel of the world we live in right now,” she said. She adds that it’s just like TV only not as loud.
This week, Green Mountain College in Vermont became the fifth campus around the country to announce it will pull its endowment money from fossil fuel companies. Students on hundreds of campuses are calling on their colleges to take a stand on climate change by divesting from the oil and gas industry.
Now one college has come up with a price tag. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania estimates fossil fuel divestment could cost its $1.5 billion endowment as much as $200 million in lost returns.
Students at Swarthmore have been stepping up the pressure to divest. A few weeks ago, a group called Swarthmore Mountain Justice stood before the Board of Managers and demanded the college take steps by fall to stop investing its endowment in fossil fuel companies.
“If the Board of Managers does not agree to this timeline, then we will intervene in business as usual,” freshman Nathan Graf told the Board, in a video students posted of the meeting.
Much of Swarthmore’s endowment is pooled with other clients’ money, says Maurice Eldridge, vice president for college and community relations. He says moving it could mean higher fees or lower returns, which could squeeze programs.
“Since our budget is dependent largely on tuition income and endowment income, this could be programmatically quite difficult,” he says.
Dan Apfel is with the Responsible Endowments Coalition. He says Swarthmore is making some false assumptions about divesting.
“There are active managers out there that are willing to screen out fossil fuels from their portfolio,” he says. “Those managers can perform as well as the managers that Swarthmore has in their portfolio now.”
Swarthmore says it cost the college around $2 million to divest from companies doing business in South Africa -- over apartheid -- more than 20 years ago.
Eldridge says the endowment is larger and more complicated today. Students say the costs of not dealing with climate change could be much higher than lost investment returns.
Designer Katie Shelly's upcoming cookbook offers 50 illustrated recipe "blueprints" for basic meals — from simple snacks to more hefty dishes like eggplant Parmesan. She hopes they'll inspire any level of cook to improvise in the kitchen.
Designer Katie Shelly's upcoming cookbook offers 50 illustrated recipe "blueprints" for basic meals — from simple snacks to more hefty dishes like Eggplant Parmesan. She hopes they'll inspire any level of cook to improvise in the kitchen.
Even cancer patients with health insurance can face steep copayments for drugs, a sizable share of hospital bills and significant incidental expenses. So wouldn't it make sense for doctors and patients to talk about financial issues up front?
It may be the world's second biggest economy, but China can be a tough place to live. There's a new strain of bird flu, toxic food scandals galore and the worst air pollution on record.
Smoggy skies are part of the growing pains of a developing country and China is no exception. But for the ex-pats living and working in China what is it really like to have to breathe polluted air?
Marketplace's Shanghai correspondent Rob Schmitz says he definitely has to make adjustments to his daily life.
"Each day when I wake up I check my phone. Not for email, but to check the air quality. I have an app that gives me hourly readings from the air monitoring station at the U.S. consulate here in Shanghai. I use it to plan my day. For example, whether I'll do my morning run or whether I'll need to turn up the very expensive air filters we bought for the kids' rooms," said Schmitz.
"This year my wife bought the family a bunch of industrial grade filtration masks that we'll sometimes wear outside when the air quality is really bad."
Having to wear sci fi-level filtration masks is pretty extreme, but the pollution levels in Shanghai aren't even as bad as other cities like Beijing. Schmitz said that businesses, both foreign and Chinese, are starting to do something about it.
"I think the changes we're going to see in the business environment are more people leaving Beijing and coming to places like Shanghai or Hong Kong and businesses moving parts of their operations to these cities where pollution isn't as terrible as it is in Beijing."
"Not as terrible" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for Shanghai, but Schmitz says he doesn't have any plans to leave China just yet.
"We've taken a lot of precautions to protect ourselves and our children but it does weigh on you and it's getting worse. It's something we monitor on a day-by-day basis."
RELATED: Want to see what other major cities around the globe might look like with Beijing quality air? Try out our Smog Simulator.
Following her brief testimony, she broke down and pleaded with the court, "Please bring justice for my daughter." Meanwhile, lawyers for the accused say their clients have been "tortured" since the beginning of the trial.
Jorge Rafael Videla ruled Argentina from 1976-1983 and orchestrated a "Dirty War" against opponents that killed as many as 30,000 people.
Debt has a new face -- it's very young and very worried. One report out just this week estimates that the college class of 2013 will graduate owing an average of more than $35,000 in federal, state and private loans.
And a recent study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says student debt could have a big impact on the broader economy -- by limiting borrowers' willingness to take on new financial obligations like buying a car or a house, or starting a small business.
Those are the numbers -- now let's get down to emotions. Having to pay back tens of thousands of dollars after graduation can be downright scary. That's why the nonprofit organization American Student Assistance has launched a campaign challenging young people to "Face The Red," and empowering them to take control of their debt on a practical, day-to-day level. According to ASA, student debt affects nearly 15 million Americans under the age of 30. As part of their campaign, ASA has released a new mock horror short film that acknowledges how frightening debt can be (watch the video in the sidebar link above).
Betsy Mayotte is director of regulatory compliance at ASA and joined us to offer advice to young people needing help with their student loan debt.
"It's always the same story -- it's that I want to pay, but here's my situation and how do I handle it?" says Mayotte. "I always go back to just always pick up the phone and call and find out what options are available to you. And don't just think about the next couple months. Try to come up with a plan -- such as income-based repayment or public-service loan forgiveness, or graduated repayment -- that will actually work with you over the next 10 years and grow with your lifestyle."
Mayotte says there are too many variables to determine how much debt a student should carry when paying for their education, but a lot of people say you should look at the average starting salary for the career you're studying for and try not to borrow more than what that amount is.
We received a ton of letters with student debt questions and Mayotte offered advice on these questions:
- Sasha, a senior at Emerson College and intern at ASA, wants to start making extra payments to her student loans. She has federal and private loans of varying interest rates and wants to know how to decide which loans to make extra payments on.
- Dylan, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, has been receiving help from family members to pay his bills while he finishes up school. He wants to know how to start budgeting for expenses he isn't currently paying for and what bills he should start paying off once he gets a full-time job.
- Nicole, a paralegal who's the first person in her family to graduate from college, is in a difficult spot financially. She has $250,000 in student debt and a medical issue that doesn't allow her to really save. She wants advice on how to save when she has no money -- and how she can manage her debt.
Click play on the audio player above to listen to Mayotte's advice for these listeners.
Across the country, an average 16.2 percent of consumers owe some amount of student debt. But if you look at the state level, the country is split along the Mason–Dixon line, with a higher percentage of the population owing money in northern states than southern states.
Overall, Hawaii claims the lowest share of consumers with student debt, just 12 percent. While a whopping 25 percent of the population in Washington, D.C. owes student loan money. Take a look at the map below and find out more data on student debt by clicking here.
Stamford seems to have become the center for TV shows where fights break out. Maury Povich and Jerry Springer film are here. WWE Wrestling is based in Stamford. The soaps "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" are shooting here. NBC Sports, which includes boxing, is in Stamford now. There's the National Hockey League Network. And, the legal forum for TV squabbles - the People's Court.
Kevin Segalla shows off the People's Court set.
"This is the same People's Court set that they've used for years and years and years. And they moved it from New York here into Connecticut," Segalla says. "And it looks just like a regular courtroom, right?"
It does, except for the ceiling full of lights and the cameras. Segalla is the CEO of the Connecticut Film Center, which owns the building this studio is in. Connecticut Film Center is a for-profit company with a business model of luring TV shows with the promise of state tax incentives, and then providing them with facilities and production services.
"One Life to Live" and "All My Children" shoot next door.
Segalla says his initial plan was to start the business in Massachusetts. But then he ran into the Connecticut Speaker of the House at the time, who asked him why he was doing that.
"I said 'Well, they have an excellent tax incentive there.' And he says, 'Well, we'll pass a tax incentive here.' And I said 'Well, they got a 25 percent tax incentive there.' And he said, 'I'll pass a 30 percent tax incentive.'"
And that's exactly what Connecticut did.
"When somebody comes in," says Segalla, "if they spend money in the state on local businesses and local crew, then they get a tax credit of 30 percent of that expenditure."
Rich Frank is the former president of Disney and now head of the production company that just brought the soap operas to Connecticut. He says the tax credits create jobs.
"We have about 200 people working here because they reduced taxes, it's pretty simple," says Frank. "They weren't doing it, California's pretty sticky, New York even outlaws tax breaks for soap operas."
New York also limits tax credits for live sports, which helped attract NBC Sports to Connecticut. NBC consolidated its sports operation and the NHL Network at a Stamford facility owned by the Connecticut Film Center. But the state did more than just give NBC a tax credit. Connecticut loaned the company $20 million at one percent interest, and will forgive the entire loan if it creates 450 jobs in five years.
NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus announced the move in 2011.
"The experience we've had here and some of the inducements made it make more sense," he said. He called it a strategic decision driven by where they think they can create the best product.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy says these kinds of deals pay off for the state.
"We don't do deals that don't pay back relatively quickly." Malloy says. The high paying jobs lead to income tax revenue for the state, and there are property taxes for the city.
"We rolled out the carpet for some folks in Stamford just a few years ago, that led to other folks saying 'hey, if they can do it for them, they can probably do it for us,'" says Malloy.
For the TV shows, the attraction to the Nutmeg state is more than just the tax breaks. It's close to New York, but can be a lot cheaper. And for NBC Sports there may be another draw — a little over an hour away in Bristol, Conn. is ESPN. And poaching some of that talent is probably a lot easier when you're nearby.
Kevin Segalla of the Connecticut Film Center says overall, Connecticut may have added as many as ten thousand jobs in the TV industry.
"The TV business is a large and growing business, and taking a nice sliver of that is significant to the economy in Connecticut, and we've got a good sliver here," says Segalla.
And he's fighting to make that sliver into a real slice.
On one side of the glass: A little girl running in circles. On the other side: A sea lion swimming in circles. When the little miss tripped, the sea lion came to a quick stop. It's a feel-good moment.
It's been a big week for talk about farming and food on Capitol Hill. Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have passed separate versions of the farm bill, which is long overdue for renewal. The stickiest wicket has been around the size of the food stamp program, technically known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. At last count, about one in five Americans received food stamps, many of them elderly or working-poor families with children.
President of the San Francisco Federal Reserve John Williams made headlines yesterday when he speculated that the Fed may reduce its stimulus efforts in the coming months. Does this mean that the economy is moving in the right direction?
While the Senate debates comprehensive immigration reform, hordes of lobbyists are vying for attention. The Sunlight Foundation estimates as many as 3,000 lobbyists have worked on immigration issues in the past few years. There are the usual suspects -- restaurant owners, farmers, and construction groups -- and then there are the not-so-usual suspects.
Today, Texas lawmakers could give the state's craft breweries a Texas-sized boost. They'll consider a set of bills to loosen the rules for beer makers. Texas is no pioneer in the craft beer movement. In fact, it ranks 45th in the nation in breweries per capita. But that number doesn't tell the whole story.
Comedian Bill Hader’s exit from "Saturday Night Live" after its season finale Saturday means the end of the line for his character Stefon. The club kid “correspondent” for Weekend Update usually drops in to share cultural recommendations.
Host Seth Meyers always prods him for traditional, family-friendly picks, but Stefon’s taste leans toward outré nightclubs with features like “pile after pile of expired Lunchables;” “Gizblow, the coked-up Gremlin;” and security provided by “an army of hobocops” – homeless robocops, Stefon helpfully explains.
Stefon’s clubs are fake, but how would they stack up as nightlife business plans? Longtime New York nightlife and gossip columnist Michael Musto gives us his take on a couple of Stefon’s favorite haunts.
From Stefon: New York’s hottest club is Wesh. Nine-year-old Tokyo pimp Ichiaku Guro is back with an all-new hot spot that answers the question, WHAT?! This place has everything: trance, stilts, throw-up music, an albino that looks like Susan Powter, Teddy Graham people. (It’s that thing of like when a guy has the stumpy arms, but with the belly).
Would it work?
Wesh could never exist, for various reasons, Musto says. Only the throw-up music is something you'll routinely find in clubs, especially those in the Meatpacking District.
From Stefon: New York’s hottest club is Crease. Club promoter Tranny Oakley has gone all out, and inside it’s just everything: lights, psychos, Furbies, screaming babies in Mozart wigs, sun-burnt drifters with soap-sud beards. (It’s that thing when a hobo becomes a rich man, so they take the big bubble bath).
Would it work?Crease could never happen in NYC. Screaming babies in Mozart wigs? I'm in my 50s and even I've been refused admission because I'm not carrying the right ID.
Try your luck with our quiz!
Some of New York’s real clubs are almost outlandish enough to make Stefon’s report. Take our quiz to see if you can tell which clubs come from Stefon’s fertile imagination and which are real current or former New York nightlife destinations.
(By the way, we’re not saying the real ones are “New York’s hottest nightclubs.” We just chose them for their Stefonesque names.)
When you're in debt, your phone becomes the enemy. Every time it rings, your stomach lurches. Is it yet another bill collector? Will they get nasty? Happily, the Federal Trade Commission has done a lot in recent years to try and protect consumers from humiliation or harassment at the hands of debt collectors. But still, you never know what to expect when one calls. So, we decided to turn to someone in the industry to find out. Jack Brown is president of Gulf Coast Collection Bureau in Sarasota, Fla.
"The perception of debt collectors is that there's a bunch of pit bulls out there who will beat up consumers, talk to them rudely, yell at them, lie to them -- do whatever they can to get a dollar out of them today," says Brown. "In any industry there are bad apples, bad actors, and there's 99 percent of the folks out there doing the right thing. They are out there complying with the laws and they are working. But there is that 1 percent out there that may cause some issues. If you ever deal with that type of agency go to AskDoctorDebt.com, get some information on what you rights are, what you can expect during a collection call, how you can get the calls to stop if they're not treating you in the right away. ACAInternational.org, that's our international trade association for debt collectors and you can also submit a complaint against an agency through that site if you have an issue."
Brown says the first step consumers should take when contacted by a debt collector is to make sure you call them back because they will continue to call and try to reach the consumer.
"If you don't address the account, it's not going to get resolved," he says.
Here are 7 easy tips on what to do if you are being illegally harassed by a debt collector
1. You are Not Alone. According to the CFPB, 30 million consumers are contacted by a debt collector.
2. Know Your Rights. Consumers have important rights under federal and state law, and deserve to be treated respectfully. By law, consumers cannot be harassed, threatened or be subjected to profanity and vulgar language.
3. Communicate. Avoiding a letter or call won't make the debt disappear. The reason for the contact cannot be resolved without the ability to communicate; whether it's to pay an owed debt, verify an alleged debt or confirm that the debt collector has reached the wrong person.
4. Identify. Debt collectors cannot call anonymously nor present themselves as being a representative of a government entity. When contacted, collectors must identify themselves and the name of the collection agency they represent.
5. Notify the Collection Agency if you Dispute the Validity of the Debt. By law, the collector must inform you of your right to dispute the debt and provide written verification if you dispute it in writing.
6. Seek to Work Out Complaints with the Collection Agency. Third-party debt collectors sincerely want to work with consumers to resolve complaints. According to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, in 2012 collection agencies resolved 86 percent of the consumer complaints received.
7. Protect Your Identity. Do not provide sensitive personal information (e.g., Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank accounts) until certain of the authenticity of the debt and the person seeking to collect. Check out whether the collector is a legitimate agency by using the Internet to search the company. Monitor accounts and immediately report any suspicious purchases to your bank or credit card provider. Consumers should also monitor their credit report. If you believe your identity has been stolen, contact your local police department and visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft for information on what you should do.
After years of research, an animal scientist looking for ways to keep inflammation down in cattle came up with a novel approach: feed them flax. The flax in their food helps keep animals healthy and has an added benefit for people who later eat their meat: omega-3 enriched beef.
A study of mine blast victims finds further evidence that there's a resurgence of black lung among coal miners. The relatively young ages of some of the miners and their limited tenure underground suggests significant exposure to coal dust.