National / International News
Elon Musk of Tesla Motors Inc. has been jockeying to get his Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX for short) some work helping NASA build new launch systems. Now he's been one-upped by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who has his own spaceship enterprise: Blue Origin.
NASA’s existing supplier has announced that it will use Blue Origin’s technology in its next generation of launchers.
All of which raises a question: Is there money to be made here? Or is this just billionaires with unlimited funds for new toys?
First, there are a couple of big reasons to take on these kinds of projects. To start with, the launch technology we use now is 40 years old, says Jim Bell, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State. It’s like the Atari 2600 of rockets.
"The existing generation of traditional engines are the Ataris of their time," he says, "and there’s a whole bunch of start-ups out there — Blue Origin being one and SpaceX being another — that are building our modern XBoxes."
Also, the rocket engines we’ve been using since the 1990s is Russian. Ever since tensions flared over Ukraine, that dependency on Russia has been making policy-makers pretty nervous.
There is money in space, but it's mostly in selling satellite services like TV and GPS, less so in the launch technology that Bezos and Musk are competing over.
"If you were looking for the very best money-making machine, I would probably not advise you to invest in starting your own launch company," says Carissa Christensen managing partner at the Tauri Group, a consultancy that specializes in space technology.
"Space is a little like the movie business. Nobody is in it by accident," she says. "Everyone desperately wants to be doing it. There are three people behind everybody who is making money at it, who would like to be involved the industry— and part of it is the allure of it. It’s fascinating."
As for startups looking to do next-generation space tech, Christensen says she’s seen generations of them. This one, which also includes Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, is different.
"The people who are starting these companies are not simply doing it to build the coolest rocket that they can," she says. "They are doing it to prove that you can make money in space. They are doing it with very deep pockets, they are doing it with business expertise from outside the space industry, and they are actually succeeding."
Both companies are private, but the SpaceX website describes the company as "profitable and cash-flow positive."
Blue Origin's "about" page does not mention profits, but refers to the company's mission as "a long-term effort, which we're pursuing incrementally, step-by-step."
If you're in the business of higher education, the issue of sexual assault is on your radar.
The White House is expected to unveil a nationwide plan to address the issue Friday at the same time some 70 colleges and universities are under investigation for how they've handled sexual assault cases.
High-profile lawsuits are grabbing headlines and threatening reputations. As you may expect, all of this is getting the attention of college and university presidents and administrators.
You don't have to look any farther than the University of California at Berkeley — one of the schools being investigated — to see that sexual violence is becoming a top concern.
This fall, the school made its sexual violence training mandatory and all but several hundred students showed up. Spokesperson Claire Holmes says the clock is ticking for the no-shows.
"If they do not complete the training by Oct. 1, we will put a hold on their registration for the spring semester," she says.
Schools around the nation have gotten the memo, says Terry Hartle, with the American Council on Education. It's certainly in university and colleges' long-term financial interest to toughen up their response to sexual assault, and Hartle says he's seen a dramatic rise in student, faculty and security training.
"That is clearly the most obvious, immediate action," he says. "It is also in many ways the easiest."
Finding ways to investigate and resolve these cases is a more complicated and difficult matter, Hartle says. There's pressure on colleges and universities to act because schools out of compliance with federal Title IX rules could lose funding for student aid.
Attorney Cari Simon, who represents victims of sexual assault, says there are businesses out there ready to offer quick fixes.
"We are seeing folks who call themselves trainers or experts who maybe haven't been around all that long saying 'Pay me this, and I'll get you in compliance.' But it's really about checking the box and not getting at the heart of the issue and changing rape culture," she says.
So, how will prospective students and their parents will know if a school is safe or not?
Diane Rosenfeld, who runs the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, says people must be smart consumers and do some digging.
"See if there are dedicated resources to preventing campus sexual assault, look at statements the president has made [look at] whether the school has been sued or not," she says.
Campus sexual assault by the numbersOne in five
The big statistic here, touted by the White House task force on campus sexual assault and many lawmakers: one in five women will be sexually assaulted during her college years. That figure becomes even more concerning the portion of victims who report their attacks to police — 12 percent — and the way those numbers were found.5,446
That's the number of respondents to the government's Campus Sexual Assault Study, where the "one in five" figure comes from. The Justice Department distributed web surveys to two major public universities and based their results on the 5,446 respondents, according to a PolitiFact analysis. That very small sample size doesn't invalidate the study's findings — which were consistent with other, wider-reaching studies — but shows just how hidden and difficult to track these crimes are.480
In July, the Washington Post analyzed sexual assault reports at four-year colleges and universities nationwide from 2010 to 2012. According to their data, 480 schools reported no forcible sex offenses in those three years. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill told the Post those schools are more concerning than schools with many reported assaults, and she questions if or how they are encouraging victims to come forward.
The TV Guide Network is breaking away from the magazine of the same name and rebranding itself as "POP."
The new network is set to launch early next year. Their new demographic?
An 18 to 54 year old age range who are, "socially engaged and connected and who have a thirst for pop culture," according to the Hollywood Reporter.
With rising seas, cities like Satellite Beach, Fla., are debating options: defend the shoreline to avoid destruction, or retreat, withdrawing homes and businesses from the water's edge.
Open wide: Alaska collects data on students’ oral health, including how many teeth they have.
Stop picking on me: Many states collect data on students who are disciplined for bullying, but Florida also tracks students who have been victims of bullying and the reasons why (ie., sexual orientation, religion)
Destined to drop out: In Texas, kids can be tagged as “at-risk” of dropping out of school as early as the pre-kindergarten level, based on their performance on a school readiness test.
Don’t ask: School districts in South Dakota, Idaho, West Virginia and Louisiana are forbidden from collecting data on whether a family owns a gun, under new data laws passed this year.
No window to the soul: In many states, school districts are also now barred from collecting biometric data like eye scans and palm prints.
Jail time for bureaucrats: In Louisiana, anyone who knowingly allows a data breach can be imprisoned for up to three years.
Fat chance: In New Hampshire, the state can no longer track the body mass index (BMI) of students under a new law passed this year. Nor can it use surveillance software on school laptops to track activity.
At issue is a Navy investigation that snagged a civilian trading in child porn. The appeals court said the actions violated the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from enforcing state laws.
Safra Catz and Mark Hurd will be co-CEOs. Ellison, who co-founded Oracle in 1977, was named executive chairman of the board and Oracle's chief technology officer.
If you turned a Federal Reserve meeting into a theatrical production, the marquee might read “Waiting for Inflation.” That’s the economic bogeyman that keeps Fed members awake at night, even though there are zero signs the inflation monster is stirring.
Why all the angst over inflation? In this country it’s mostly painful memories of “The Great Inflation,” in the 1970s, and the severe recession that followed it.
Baby boomer Bob Donohue remembers how inflation affected his father. When his dad retired in 1972, he started collecting a pension of $120 a month.
“My father’s pension check, which was fixed in its amount, covered his rent for two months when he retired,” says Donohue. “Less than seven years later, that same pension check only covered two weeks worth of rent on the same apartment.”
During the 1970s, oil prices more than quadrupled. Mortgage rates hit double digits. The inflation rate shot up from 5.7 percent to 13.5 percent in just four years. Wages and prices spiraled out of control.
The U.S. put an end to runaway inflation in the early '80s by tightening the money supply under Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. But it came at an enormous cost. The recession that followed threw millions of Americans out of work.
The polls have closed and the counting has begun on a referendum that could have historic implications for the United Kingdom.
Two major doughnut chains have bowed to consumer pressure to better police their palm oil purchases. Environmentalists say it's a win for consumers, trees and animals.
Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, is giving $20 million to GOP-oriented "social welfare" groups for use in midterm campaigns.