National / International News
The U.S. government won’t confirm, but it’s widely expected to reaffirm a controversial Arctic oil lease sale by the end of March.
Shell Oil wants to drill for oil and gas in the Chukchi Sea, despite major equipment failures and accidents a few years ago. The Interior Department has proposed tighter rules for Arctic drilling, including a containment dome nearby, in case of a blowout.
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The internet of things is coming to your front lawn...literally. The market for devices that can connect your yard may be new, but it’s already rather interesting.
“ It all comes down to sensor technology,” says Lindsey Turrentine, editor-in-chief at CNET.com. “Sensors are getting small and cheap, and now they can be embedded in things like the ‘Eden.’”
The ‘Eden,” Turrentine says, is similar to a large stake that goes into the soil, and is powered by solar energy. Once it’s in the soil, it monitors soil and plants to keep track of nutrients, moisture, and whatever else you may need to know to maintain your yard.
“You can also partner it up with a smart valve,” says Turrentine. The valve connects to a hose or watering device, which helps ‘Eden’ turn on the water when it determines that the plants need water.
What else might be in store for smart yards in the future?
“These companies are just starting to figure out the answers to really tough problems,” says Turrentine. “How do you get your outdoor sensors to work over your home wifi? How do you keep water from damaging these devices?"
As they solve these problems, she says, more such devices will start to appear in the market.
“These things are going to be much more accessible in probably five years, maybe ten,” says Turrentine.
Food industry analysts say Americans increasingly prefer home-cooked meals with fresh, simple ingredients. It’s the food that you find in the refrigerated sections on the perimeter of grocery stores, rather than the processed foods stacked on shelves in the middle aisles.
“The center of the store represents items that have not performed as well as those on the perimeter,” says Darren Seifer, a food and beverage analyst at the NPD Group.
That's not great news for some big food companies. But analysts say the spice industry, on the other hand, is getting a boost. People use spices to accent their fresh veggies and meats.
“The overall spice industry is growing mid to single digit type rates — let's call it 3-5 percent — whereas the packaged food guys are barely growing volumes or are slightly negative,” says Brian Yarbrough, a research analyst with Edward Jones.
Yarbrough says the U.S. spice and seasonings industry is a roughly $5 billion market. And it's dominated by McCormick & Company. Yarbrough says while McCormick is benefitting from healthy eating trends, it's losing market share to smaller niche brands and to competitors like Walmart and Safeway, which offer store brands. They're often cheaper.
“It's private label and a lot of these smaller players combined that are definitely impacting the McCormick Business,” he says.
Jeanette Beger, 32, of St. Paul, Minn., is the kind of consumer that McCormick may want to woo. She’s one of the millennials food industry analysts say were driven into their kitchens when the Great Recession rendered dining out unaffordable.
“We use a lot of spices,” Beger says, as she and her toddler spoon turmeric and coriander into a frying pan for a curry dish.
But a glimpse inside Beger's spice cabinet shows how McCormick is losing ground. Only two of the couple dozen spice containers are labeled McCormick. Beger buys niche brands and bulk spices from the local co-op.
Erin Lash, an analyst with Morningstar, says McCormick is trying to get health-conscious consumers like Beger to notice its products in the fresh food sections of stores.
“Over the past year, the company has worked to reposition their products outside the center of the store and place those next to produce and proteins to get them in front of consumers and be that next purchase,” she says.
Brian Yarbrough at Edward Jones says McCormick has been successful acquiring smaller spice makers and may also lean on that strategy as “an avenue of growth.”
Back in 1994, the heads of the largest tobacco corporations were called before Congress to testify about the effects of tobacco. Each and every executive said they believed nicotine was not addictive. But today we know that the tobacco industry was aware of nicotine's addictiveness—and tobacco's harm—for decades.
So a recent push to put strong warning labels on e-cigarettes and to place them behind the counter, away from children's hands, may seem like big tobacco has had a change of heart. But experts say they believe large tobacco companies are trying to dominate the e-cigarette market by pushing smaller competitors out of business.
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This month, China's factory sector saw its lowest number in 11 months. As Reuters reports, it could be a sign that China's economy, the second largest in the world, is slowing.11
That's how many GOP presidential contenders count Ted Cruz as one of their Twitter followers. Cruz became the first major candidate to officially enter the race Monday, and he's keeping tabs on other hopefuls including Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Chris Christie. Jeb Bush and Bobby Jindal don't make the cut, and Christie doesn't follow back. Bloomberg has a fun interactive graphic of all the potential candidates' Twitter info, including the only GOP contender who follows Barack Obama.$5 billion
That's the worth of the U.S. spice industry, which is primarily dominated by McCormick & Company. It's a good time to be in the spice business - with more families choosing to cook at home instead of eating out, there's an increased interest in spicing up those home-cooked meals. But with the rise of smaller brands, as well as stores producing their own products, companies like McCormick & Company are trying to make their way out of the center of the grocery store and into the produce and protein sections where health-conscious consumers are shopping.12 hours
The maximum amount of time a cruise ship crew has to clear out all passengers, clean, restock and otherwise turn over what is essentially a small floating city before setting off again. It's a hectic process that runs on astounding efficiency and gets more complicated as the industry builds larger and larger vessels. The New York Times profiles "turnaround day" for one 6,000-passenger ship.3 years
That's how long you could potentially go to prison for sending an email that "causes annoyance." Section 66A, a law in India, outlines severe punishment for online activity such as commenting on social networks. As the BBC reports, the Supreme Court in India ruled to strike down the law on Tuesday, saying that it violated people's constitutional right to free speech.84 percent
The median cell phone ownership in 32 emerging and developing countries, according to a new Pew Research report. Internet access is not nearly as widespread, the survey found, still concentrated in the young and educated in richer countries.