The legal wrangling over who should be allowed to buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end this year. A federal judge ruled that the emergency contraceptive couldn't be withheld from girls 16 and younger. Despite the legal ruling, many Americans support age minimums and parental consent.
KAI RYSSDAL: All this week Stephen Beard has been making a grand tour of Europe of sorts. He's workin' -- reporting on the young and out of work on the continent. We're calling the series Jobless Generation, Because many of Europe's biggest economies have youth unemployment rates that you could fairly call astronomical. Italy is out of recession now, but business leaders there say the recovery will be slow and tough. Toughest of all perhaps for young Italians, whose unemployment rate is around 35 percent. From Rome, here's Stephen.
(sound of church bells)
STEPHEN BEARD: The churches and the classical architecture are among of the glories of Italy. And so is the foundation stone of its society -- the strength and warmth of the family. But cracks are beginning to appear in that critical institution. Even the most loving families are under pressure from ever rising youth unemployment
CHRISTINA LUPO: When I talk with my father, with my mother they can't understand our situation. They think that: find a job…it's really simple
BEARD: 24-year-old Christina Lupo has been unemployed or in unpaid work since graduating more than a year ago. Her parents support her, but now a little grudgingly now
LUPO: They say to me: you don't know how to find a job! You are a negative person.
BEARD: Firing off five job applications a day, Christina finds the criticism hard to take -- from a generation that she says had an easier start in life
LUPA: My mother, after graduation -- after two weeks -- she found a job. For me it's impossible after two weeks of graduation. It's a dream. For our generation it's a dream.
BEARD: Other young Italians complain about older people hogging the jobs. They claim there's a fetish about seniority, that the nation is so much in love with antiquity, so intent on preserving its ancient ruins, that one of them is even running the country
LUIGI MAIORANO: We have a President that I personally like but he's 90, basically.
BEARD: University researcher Luigi Maiorano.
MAIORANI: Can't we find somebody who is 60 or so to be the President of the country? Don't we have anyone like that?
BEARD: Maiorano -- who's in his 30's -- has to hop from one short term contract to another. A permanent university job only comes with middle age. He says this emphasis on age rather than merit leads to higher youth unemployment and economic stagnation
BEARD: This not a meritocratic society in your view?
MAIORANO: No, Not the university and not the society.
BEARD: The older generation is fighting back. 80 year old Rosario Nicoletti retired as a Professor at Rome University at the age of 76. He agrees that Italy is turning into a gerontocracy..But he says the young are partly to blame
ROSARIO NICOLETTI: The fault is also in the younger generation which are not able to replace the old people. The young are less and less skilled.
BEARD: He claims the country's record high youth unemployment is largely due to the callowness of many young Italians
NICOLETTI: The young generation live in an environment protected by their parents.
BEARD: You're saying the young have had it too easy?
NICOLETTI : Yeah, they have a too easy life.
BEARD: More than half of all 18-34 year olds here are still living at home. "Bambioccini,"a government minister once called them. It means "Big Babies" or mollycoddled youth. Another minister accused the young unemployed of being too choosy in looking for their first job -- unprepared to get their hands dirty.
32-year-old unemployed graduate Claudia Bernardi
CLAUDIA BERNARDI: I'm not choosy!
BEARD: Would you wait at tables, would you work in a café, would you sweep floors?
BERNARDI: I already did it. And I don't understand that after 13 years of study I have to do it again.
BEARD: So why does she think she's too good for menial work?
BERNARDI: I'm too much qualified and maybe even too much smart to sweep the floor after having one degree, and one PhD. So maybe I am qualified for other work.
BEARD: Thousands of young unemployed but highly qualified Italians HAVE flown the nest and gone to look for work abroad, in a more vibrant, flexible economy, in a city where youth is an advantage. Tomorrow we'll find out how some of them are faring -- in London. In Rome, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual year-end press conference was hours long, but the real news came after it was over.
Putin told a reporter he plans to pardon a high-profile political opponent, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once an oil tycoon, Khodorkovsky has spent 10 years behind bars on charges of fraud and tax evasion.
"His [Khodorkovsky's] mother is ill now and that is why he is asking for a pardon. His lawyer and his representatives say they were unaware of any such request," says the BBC's Rafael Saarkov, who was at the press conference. "So it's still mysterious and it was really a big surprise for everybody."
Suspicions are that Putin's showing his softer side leading up to the Olympics in Sochi in February.
This final note today, one last taper-related item.
You've heard the phrase 'the Fed's balance sheet' a lot since the worst of the financial crisis.
In other words, a measure of exactly how much cash the Fed's been trying to add to the economy by buying bonds and other securities.
As of the close of business yesterday, the Fed held on its books $4.04 trillion in assets.
Back in 2008 -- before the apocalypse -- about $800 million.
Amid widespread speculation that he would retire, the third-longest-serving member of Congress said he will seek a 23rd term next year.
The visit is the ex-NBA star's third to the country this year. He says he'll visit strongman Kim Jong Un, a man he's described as his "friend for life."
Riders who used the popular car ride company, Uber, saw a spike in the prices last weekend.
But, this wasn't just a few extra bucks per block. In some areas, the cost was up to seven times the regular price. Uber and other companies say this surge in pricing was because of inclimate weather, specifically on the East Coast, leading to a higher demand for the service.
"I think it makes very good, presitine, economic, logical sense," says Harvard Business Professor Nancy Koehn, "but a minimum ride costs $175 in New York last weekend."
Koehn says consumers have seen prices flucuate when something is in high-demand, but generally the public has more power in determining that price.
"Here, Uber has all the power," says Koehn, "...I think that's where the insult to fairness and where the upset about flucuation comes."
Right in the middle of holiday shopping season, some 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a major breach of Target customer data. The thefts occurred in stores, not online. Target says it's working with a forensics company to investigate and prevent similar data thefts from occurring in the future. Security experts say one way to limit them is to switch from magnetic stripes on cards to embedded chips.
On the first day of 2013, Obama expressed a hope that the new year would bring "a little less drama" and "a little less brinkmanship." In fact, the year saw high drama, a government shutdown, and massive problems with the website at the core of the president's new health care law.
The Joint Strike Fighter -- a new, high-tech jet known as the F-35 -- is way over budget and years behind schedule. Yet Congress has not moved to clip its wings.
To find out why, talk to someone like Eddie Lynch. He’s one of thousands of Lockheed Martin workers who make the plane in Fort Worth, Tex. He assembles the plane’s cockpit, and he’s proud of the work.
"It's a great aircraft," he says. "It's new technology. The best in the world right now is being put together here."
Lockheed says the F-35 is the "most flexible, technologically sophisticated….fighter ever." There are three versions of the plane -- one each for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. The idea, to save money by creating a single plane for three military branches, is easier said than done. And the F-35 is at least 50 percent over budget.
So why hasn't it been pared back? One reason is that production has already started, even though the plane is still in the testing phase.
Critics of the F-35 call that "front loading." Among them is Chuck Spinney, a retired Pentagon weapons development expert.
"Basically the front-loading operation is aimed at getting the program started, and get the money flowing before the consequences of that program are fully understood," he says.
Spinney says that money pays for lots of jobs. Lockheed says the F-35 is responsible for about 125,000 jobs in 46 states. Spinney says the jobs are spread around congressional districts.
F-35 state-by-state: Lockheed Martin's map of the F-35's footprint across the country.
"The whole idea here is to carpet bomb the congressional districts with jobs, dollars, and profits," Spinney says.
Spinney says the strategy has worked. There have been little tweaks to the F-35 program, but Congress hasn't voted for major reductions. People hoping to pare the program thought they had an answer in sequestration, the automatic spending cuts that Congress agreed to a few years ago.
They presented a less painful way for cuts to the F-35 program, says Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. He says politicians could have reasoned, “Sequester did the cutting. It's not my fault. I was against the sequester."
But now sequestration will be pared back, at least for a couple of years. And the F-35 will likely be spared any cuts, at least for now.
Authorities say nearly 90 are injured, several of them seriously, after the collapse in the city's West End.
When you think about the really big names in online retailing just a couple of companies probably come to mind: Amazon, eBay, maybe Apple. But there's another name that can arguably be added to that list. Just 8 years after it started, Etsy does almost a billion dollars a year in annual transactions. Chad Dickerson is the guy who's been running Etsy for the past five years, and we popped into the company's corporate headquarters in Brooklyn to pay him a visit. Etsy's business has doubled under Dickerson's lead, and he says as Etsy grows, so goes its sellers.
"One of our sellers who was doing Etsy as an escape from nursing school, she started to achieve success and some exposure. Fast-forwarding she was noticed buy Nordstrom and did a deal with Nordstrom and now not only has she quit her job but her husband quit his finance job to help her. In this particular case this is literally a mom and pop. Etsy is really about making a life not just a living so we're just giving them the ability to grow and really change their lives."
Dickerson says the growth is just the start of the mark Etsy strives to make. He says the company hopes it won't just give other online retailers a run for the money, they'll change the whole marketplace.
"What I see Etsy doing is changing the way things are made. I think the ethos of Etsy, this idea that buying and selling should be all about people will start extending into areas like manufacturing and distribution and all of these things. When I think about what Etsy can do over the next 10 or 20 years it's really humanizing the whole supply chain."
Conversations from the Corner Office:
Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal goes one-on-one with leaders from some of the world's great companies to talk about what drives them, what their passions are, how they look at the world and how they put it all together in a way that adds up to success. Download the app
A majority of Latinos and a plurality of Asian-Americans think that reducing the threat of deportation is more important than creating avenues to full citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, according to a new report.