Hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, have been killed in those nations in recent days in clashes between groups. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., is in the Central African Republic to try to convince the sides to put down their guns.
Target is saying this morning that about 40 million credit and debit cards were compromised in a giant data theft that occurred at nearly all of Target’s 1,800 locations during the Black Friday weekend. So far it seems like only people who shopped at a brick and mortar store—the data breach doesn’t seem to have affected online shoppers.
The crime may have involved hacking into the actual machines stores use to swipe cards. “If we look at previous breaches, it’s likely the bad guys got in via some kind of internal access to the store,” says online security expert Brian Krebs, who broke the story. “It could even be physical access to the store.” Krebs says a big TJ Maxx data breach back in 2007, where 45 million cards were compromised, started with two guys sitting in their car in a store’s parking lot with an antennae pointed at the store’s wireless network.
The data theft hit customers on Black Friday and seems to have lasted for a couple of weeks—until December 15th.
If you were a Target shopper during that time, Krebs says you probably shouldn’t worry. He says consumers are not liable for fraud on their card, though banks might reissue some cards proactively.
He says the real monetary hit will be to Target. “They’re going to face fines and they’re going to face lawsuits from card issuers like Visa and Mastercard,” says Krebs. “And Target’s going to pay a lot of money to banks because of this.”
Krebs said Target has actually been very proactive with security, but it’s really hard to stay ahead of these criminals.
The housing market is cooling because of higher mortgage rates and limited supply, economists say. Meanwhile, seasonal factors related to the holidays may have temporarily pushed up claims for jobless benefits.
The Federal Reserve handed a gift to investors yesterday by ending some of the uncertainty about interest rate and stimulus policy. The Fed's extra buying of bonds to stimulate the economy will be tapered back by about $10 billion dollars, or 12 percent, starting in January. And, the Fed announced it has no plans to raise interest rates any time soon.
The strong suggestion that interest rates will stay low means the Fed is not worried about inflation right now. But should it also worry about the opposite? Persistently falling prices, or deflation, can also wreck an economy, as the experience in Japan over the last 20 years has shown.
Chris Farrell, Marketplace's economics guy, says that just because inflation is not a problem doesn't mean we don't have a potential economic problem on our hands.
"Inflation is an increase in the overall price level. Deflation is a decrease," Farrell explains. "So, on one hand, you say, 'Hey, things are getting cheaper. What is the problem?' The problem with deflation is that it can set off a downward debt spiral -- think Great Depression."
Click on the audio player above to hear more about why deflation can be problematic when investors have been so accustomed to a culture of borrowing.
When consumers think about airline fees, they typically think about baggage fees or the cost of extra legroom. Most don't notice the taxes and fees tacked onto the base fare itself. At least one of them will likely double next year.
There are four main federal taxes on a domestic airline fare. The Federal Excise Tax, Passenger Facility charges, Federal Segment Fees, and a September 11th security fee.
Roughly translated, these are taxes and fees that support air traffic control, airport upkeep and improvements, and TSA screenings. The amount of taxes and fees on an individual ticket varies, depending on how many stops the flight makes, what airport is used and so on. But a typical $300 roundtrip domestic ticket is about 20 percent taxes.
Airport officials are urging Congress to let them raise the cap on the passenger facility charge. Mark Brewer, chair of the American Association of Airport Executives, recently told Congress the money was needed to pay for critical infrastructure projects, especially in light of federal funding cutbacks.
Jean Medina, spokeswoman for the trade group Airlines for America, says passengers are already overtaxed. "We've just seen an increase likely going to be approved this week on the TSA fee, which is more than doubling the TSA fee, so we're hopeful they will not raise this fee," Medina says.
Under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, TSA security fees would more than double the fee for a one-way flight to $5.60 starting next year. And if airports canpersuade Congress to let them raise the cap on airport fees, the cap on Passenger Facility Charges would go up from $4.50 (per flight leg) to $8.50.
Rick Seany, CEO of Farecompare.com, believes Congress won't approve the facility charge increase.
"I think airlines push back a lot on these things because it raises the ticket prices," says Seany. "That means they can't raise prices." Seany says airlines tried to raise ticket prices 12 times this year "with little success."
Mark Obama Ndesandjo will reportedly recall his father's abusive behavior. Also: A Turkish court suspends the trial of men accused of "corrupting public morals" for publishing a century-old novel; and a new e-book subscription service launches.
Nearly a year ago, the stream that runs through the mining town of Majiapo suddenly turned bright orange. Today it looks like a winding river of Gatorade, cutting through the terraced Chinese countryside.
But it tastes much worse.
“It’s got a strong taste, like ammonia, and it smells like sulfur," says villager Ma Huiming. "It stains your skin orange.”
Ma says he and the hundreds of other people who live here drink this water and bathe in it. He takes me to the village well beside the river. We peer inside at the orange water. “It’s completely toxic," Ma says, "But we’re too poor to afford to drink anything else. I worry about what it’ll do to my children, what kind of diseases they’ll get. People who can afford to leave for the city have moved.”
The orange water is caused by acid mine drainage -- discharged water from a coal mine -- it’s contaminated with sulfuric acid and a range of heavy metals. It’s a problem throughout Shanxi province, which provides a third of China’s coal. Ma says his employer, Yangmei Group, which runs a mine a few miles up the river, is responsible.
So I go there.
I arrive at lunch break -- coal miners are outside a canteen eating noodles. When they see a foreigner with a microphone, a yelling match breaks out between workers who begin complaining about the water and workers who warn me to leave. Miner Zhang Quanding shows me his bowl of noodles. “Look at this water!" Zhang yells. "Pigs wouldn’t even drink water like this! I’ve had diarrhea for weeks!”
Zhang says workers have complained to management, but the complaint was ignored. Upon hearing this, the boss emerges from the canteen and yells at Zhang. Another miner shouts: “A true Chinese person wouldn’t talk to a foreign journalist.”
Zhang shoots back: “A true Chinese person can’t drink this water.”
Downstream, villager Ma Huiming says it would be best if the Yangmei Group shut down the mine. Both the Yangmei Group and the local government denied requests for interviews. Ma says he’d like to return to farming, but between the toxic water and the coal dust in the air, it’s become too difficult to grow anything.
As a red truck packed with black rocks rumbles through the village, Ma says he’s left with only one choice: mining more coal.