How did you hear the news the Pope is quitting? Whether on a TV screen in the back seat of a taxi cab or on a gossip website, chances are technology was involved.
But what was the technology the last time a Pope resigned -- Gregory XII in 1415 at the end of the Great Schism?
With the Gutenberg press, invented in 1453, still decades off, widespread dissemination of printed information was mere technological fantasy.
According to Michael Sizer, who has a background in medieval studies and teaches history at MICA in Baltimore, a church body called the Counsel of Constance would have been the central news source.
"Institutions had agents there who were eager to spin information and to report back to their superiors to strategize," says Sizer. "And the way that they did that was they either went in person and they would send letters with messengers, and messengers would go on horseback."
From there, news of Gregory XII's resignation might have been read aloud in far off counsel meetings across Europe and then copied by hand. Sizer says by that time, the West had the technology of inexpensive paper which made the task of copying news and spreading it much easier.
"In the early Middle Ages, most of the writing was done on expensive manuscript paper made from animal hide. When access to Asia was opened up after the Mongol invasions of the 13th and 14th centuries, the west got the technology of paper -- cheap paper. Because paper was cheap people didnt feel any financial restraint about copying things down," says Sizer.
Apple is due to respond today to a lawsuit by a hedge fund that alleges the company is hoarding cash -- which it should be distributing to shareholders. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the legal squabble a "silly sideshow," but pressure is mounting on Apple to share its $137 billion cash pile.
You'd think rewarding shareholders would be an easy call. But Brian Colello, an equity analyst with Morningstar, notes that Apple has a reputation for being conservative with its cash.
“I think that goes back to its days struggling in the PC space, 10 or 15 years ago,” he says.
Because Apple’s stock price has declined, Colello says investors want to be rewarded in other ways. David Einhorn, who runs the Greenlight Capital hedge fund, even sued the company. He wants Apple to issue preferred shares -- a kind of stock that pays regular dividends.
"The shareholders, particularly Einhorn, are saying, 'We would like more of that back, because you don't need it and your businesses is going to keep generating cash,'" says Steve Kaplan, who teaches finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “I think Apple’s response is -- we’re starting to give you the cash back.”
Apple has opened its purse to some degree. In the past year, the company has returned $10 billion to shareholders through dividends and stock buybacks. Apple has pledged to give back another $35 billion in the next two years.
When Apple's CEO Tim Cook called the shareholder suit a quote "silly sideshow," he was speaking at a big Technology and Internet conference in New York full of institutional investors, venture capitalists, and the media. With the bloom off of the Apple in recent months, Cook needed to do some fancy talking. The Apple CEO doesn't think his company has lost its "innovation mojo," taken by some as a hint Apple's working on something big, but who knows what.
"Tim Cook, who's known for having a pretty flat affect, was speaking in these lyrical terms about how when he goes to an Apple store and he's depressed, all of the sudden it's like Prozac," says Heidi Moore, the Guardian's U.S. Finance and Economics Editor. "It was pretty funny, but it was also pretty interesting because he has to make a really strong case for his company right now. A lot of the guys in that audience are investors -- they think in terms of money, in terms of profit -- and here he's making an argument about how much people should have a spiritual element of their engagement with Apple."
In the ashes of a Boston-area pizza chain that wronged them, some former pizzeria workers are trying to get their just desserts. They’re opening their own restaurant, hoping to show up the previous owners with even bigger success.
The restaurant sits on a busy shopping street just off Harvard’s campus. Carpenters have been busy renovating the space before the scheduled opening next month.
“We’re trying to have the business continue,” says architect Alex van Praagh of the redesign, “but give it -- give it a new life.”
The restaurant’s old life was part of a once fast-growing Massachusetts chain Upper Crust Pizzeria. But its owners may have been taking the “upper crust” name too literally. They may have been trying to get rich on the backs of workers. In 2009, the federal government investigated and ordered Upper Crust to pay its employees $341,000 in back wages for uncompensated overtime. After that, workers accused ownership of taking that money right back out of their paychecks. Boston worker rights attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of workers. But before the case was settled, the pizzeria chain went bankrupt last year.
“And it was when that happened that the wheels started spinning in my head," Liss-Riordan says, “that something should be done here, somewhat dramatic.”
In the bankruptcy auction last month, Liss-Riordan partnered with a local businessman to plunk down more than $220,000 to buy the remaining lease of one of the chain’s locations, the one at Harvard Square. That’s close to where Liss-Riordan went to Harvard Law School. It’s not a coincidence that it’s also close to the campus where students once boycotted Upper Crust.
“The goals are to set up a restaurant where the workers are paid correctly,” Liss-Riordan says. “And do something even further. So that it really is a place for the workers, and the workers could have a feeling of ownership.”
Liss-Riordan and her investor partner are hiring around a dozen former Upper Crust workers to run the pizza shop. One of them is Mehmet Ali. He started out at the old pizza parlor as the deliveryman.
“I’m gonna be the manager,” Ali says, smiling.
Ali’s not just because getting his job back. He’s not just getting a promotion. He’s also getting an equity stake in the business. All of the workers will.
The details of this shared ownership with workers have yet to be worked out. But offering workers equity makes sense to the local businessman who partnered with lawyer Liss-Riordan to buy the shop. Haluk Özek runs a clothing boutique down the street, and he shares the profits there, too. After all, that store is a family business.
“You know my son and my nephew and my wife are working for me,” Özek says laughing. “So if I don’t share the money with them, I’m in deep trouble!”
The pizzeria is set to open next month, only a few months after the Upper Crust location closed. That’s when former worker Mehmet Ali had to tell his pregnant wife that the chain had declared bankruptcy and that he lost his job. He’s hoping to be back to work before the baby is born.
“My wife’s so excited,” Ali says. “I’m really excited. This is new career for me.”
Ali hopes he and the other workers make the joint so successful that it expands and grows bigger than the old Upper Crust chain ever was. He wants to show the former owners how far a business can go when you work with the employees rather than stealing from them. How far a business can go when you focus on growing the pie, instead of fighting over how to slice it.
This new pizzeria has a new name: The Just Crust.
The following is a complete written transcript of President Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address annotated with facts and background related to his speech compiled by Marketplace editors and reporters. Watch the archive video stream.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, fellow citizens. Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.” Did You Know? Presidents make their annual State of the Union address because of the following line in the Constitution: "He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before.
Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.
But we gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs – but too many people still can’t find full-time employment. Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs – but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.On job growth Over the the last four years, the U.S. lost 4 million jobs, then created more than 5 million. Net gain: 1.2 million jobs. The education and healthcare fields created many of those.
It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class.
It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.
It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.
The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together; and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.
Our work must begin by making some basic decisions about our budget – decisions that will have a huge impact on the strength of our recovery.
Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.
Now we need to finish the job. And the question is, how?Famous moments in SOTU history: President Lyndon Johnson proposed his “War on Poverty” during his State of the Union Address in 1964.
In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as “the sequester,” are a really bad idea.
Now, some in this Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training; Medicare and Social Security benefits.
That idea is even worse. Yes, the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population. And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms – otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.
But we can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful. We won’t grow the middle class simply by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or by forcing communities to lay off more teachers, cops, and firefighters. Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share. And that’s the approach I offer tonight.
On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs. The reforms I’m proposing go even further. We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.
To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected. After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? How does that promote growth?According to the White House In a fact sheet, President Obama and White House says it wants Congress to approve $1 billion to create 15 advanced manufacturing hubs.
Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can’t pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America. That’s what tax reform can deliver. That’s what we can do together.
I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform won’t be easy. The politics will be hard for both sides. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, and visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans. So let’s set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let’s do it without the brinksmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors. The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.
Now, most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda. But let’s be clear: deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan. A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?Famous moments in SOTU history: President James Monroe unveiled the “Monroe Doctrine” in 1823. It designated North and South America as a U.S. sphere of influence and declared any further European colonization or interference as an act of aggression. The Monroe Doctrine influenced U.S. policy through the Cold War.
A year and a half ago, I put forward an American Jobs Act that independent economists said would create more than one million new jobs. I thank the last Congress for passing some of that agenda, and I urge this Congress to pass the rest. Tonight, I’ll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago. Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.
Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.
After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.A related note read on 3D printing Young entrepreneurs also see a future in 3D printing technology. We profile one small startup in Los Angeles banking on that idea. Read the story.
There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns. So tonight, I’m announcing the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs, where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs. And I ask this Congress to help create a network of fifteen of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is Made in America.
If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas. Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s; developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs; devising new material to make batteries ten times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.
After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.
But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.
The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.Famous moments in SOTU history: In 1848, James Polk is said to have “officially” kicked off the California gold rush by mentioning accounts of gold finds in the territory.
Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.
In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.More on foreign oil U.S. crude imports peaked at 10.8 million barrels/day in 2005. Today: 8.1 million. (According to EIA.)
Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.
Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away.In context President Obama’s plans on infrastructure spending may sound a bit like déjà vu. He’s proposed similar plans in almost every one of his addresses. Even though improved roads and bridges might seem easy to agree on, infrastructure spending has been a sticking point for the two major political parties since 2009. Read more for context.
Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector. Today, our housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. Home prices are rising at the fastest pace in six years, home purchases are up nearly 50 percent, and construction is expanding again.
But even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected. Too many families who have never missed a payment and want to refinance are being told no. That’s holding our entire economy back, and we need to fix it. Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill. Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.Marketplace Maps: View the Data Did you know 57 percent of the mortgages in Nevada are "underwater?" Despite some bright spots in the housing market, many Americans are still struggling with depressed home values, underwater mortgages, and foreclosures. View our interactive map where we explore the housing situation state by state.
These initiatives in manufacturing, energy, infrastructure, and housing will help entrepreneurs and small business owners expand and create new jobs. But none of it will matter unless we also equip our citizens with the skills and training to fill those jobs. And that has to start at the earliest possible age.
Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.
Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.
Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so that they’re ready for a job. At schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York Public Schools, the City University of New York, and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.
We need to give every American student opportunities like this. Four years ago, we started Race to the Top – a competition that convinced almost every state to develop smarter curricula and higher standards, for about 1 percent of what we spend on education each year. Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.
Now, even with better high schools, most young people will need some higher education. It’s a simple fact: the more education you have, the more likely you are to have a job and work your way into the middle class. But today, skyrocketing costs price way too many young people out of a higher education, or saddle them with unsustainable debt.
Through tax credits, grants, and better loans, we have made college more affordable for millions of students and families over the last few years. But taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the soaring cost of higher education. Colleges must do their part to keep costs down, and it’s our job to make sure they do. Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.
To grow our middle class, our citizens must have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require. But we also have to make sure that America remains a place where everyone who’s willing to work hard has the chance to get ahead.
Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my Administration has already made – putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years.
Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship – a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.
And real reform means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow our economy.
In other words, we know what needs to be done. As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.
But we can’t stop there. We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.On Federal Minimum Wage President Obama proposed an increase of the federal minimum wage to $9/hour in the speech. But there isn’t universal agreement about the effectiveness of the minimum wage. Many conservative economists think minimum wage laws hurt job growth.
We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.
Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn’t have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here’s an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let’s tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.Did you know? Of all the states, Washington state is the only one with a higher minimum wage than Obama is proposing - $9.19/hour.
Tonight, let’s also recognize that there are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it’s virtually impossible to get ahead. Factory towns decimated from years of plants packing up. Inescapable pockets of poverty, urban and rural, where young adults are still fighting for their first job. America is not a place where chance of birth or circumstance should decide our destiny. And that is why we need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.
Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but have been out of work so long that no one will give them a chance. Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in run-down neighborhoods. And this year, my Administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet. We’ll work with local leaders to target resources at public safety, education, and housing. We’ll give new tax credits to businesses that hire and invest. And we’ll work to strengthen families by removing the financial deterrents to marriage for low-income couples, and doing more to encourage fatherhood – because what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.On the Middle Class: According to research from the Pew Research Center, since 2000, the middle class "shrunk in size, fell backward in income and wealth, and shed some — but not all — of its characteristic faith in the future."
Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America. It is this kind of prosperity – broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class – that has always been the source of our progress at home. It is also the foundation of our power and influence throughout the world.
Tonight, we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us. Because of them, we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan, and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda. Already, we have brought home 33,000 of our brave servicemen and women. This spring, our forces will move into a support role, while Afghan security forces take the lead. Tonight, I can announce that over the next year, another 34,000 American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue. And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.Famous moments in SOTU history: In his first State of the Union address, President George W. Bush famously branded Iran, Iraq, and North Korea an “axis of evil.”
Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.
Today, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self. Different al Qaeda affiliates and extremist groups have emerged – from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa. The threat these groups pose is evolving. But to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations. Instead, we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali. And, where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.
As we do, we must enlist our values in the fight. That is why my Administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations. Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts. I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way. So, in the months ahead, I will continue to engage with Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world.
Of course, our challenges don’t end with al Qaeda. America will continue to lead the effort to prevent the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. The regime in North Korea must know that they will only achieve security and prosperity by meeting their international obligations. Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats.
Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands – because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead.
America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.
That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.
Even as we protect our people, we should remember that today’s world presents not only dangers, but opportunities. To boost American exports, support American jobs, and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership. And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.
We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades: by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve and helping communities to feed, power, and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.
Above all, America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change. I saw the power of hope last year in Rangoon – when Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed an American President into the home where she had been imprisoned for years; when thousands of Burmese lined the streets, waving American flags, including a man who said, “There is justice and law in the United States. I want our country to be like that.”Famous moments in SOTU history: President James Monroe unveiled the “Monroe Doctrine” in 1823. It designated North and South America as a U.S. sphere of influence and declared any further European colonization or interference as an act of aggression. The Monroe Doctrine influenced U.S. policy through the Cold War.
In defense of freedom, we will remain the anchor of strong alliances from the Americas to Africa; from Europe to Asia. In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy. The process will be messy, and we cannot presume to dictate the course of change in countries like Egypt; but we can – and will – insist on respect for the fundamental rights of all people. We will keep the pressure on a Syrian regime that has murdered its own people, and support opposition leaders that respect the rights of every Syrian. And we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace. These are the messages I will deliver when I travel to the Middle East next month.
All this work depends on the courage and sacrifice of those who serve in dangerous places at great personal risk – our diplomats, our intelligence officers, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. As long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will do whatever we must to protect those who serve their country abroad, and we will maintain the best military in the world. We will invest in new capabilities, even as we reduce waste and wartime spending. We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families – gay and straight. We will draw upon the courage and skills of our sisters and daughters, because women have proven under fire that they are ready for combat. We will keep faith with our veterans – investing in world-class care, including mental health care, for our wounded warriors; supporting our military families; and giving our veterans the benefits, education, and job opportunities they have earned. And I want to thank my wife Michelle and Dr. Jill Biden for their continued dedication to serving our military families as well as they serve us.
But defending our freedom is not the job of our military alone. We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote. When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. That’s why, tonight, I’m announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And I’m asking two long-time experts in the field, who’ve recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney’s campaign, to lead it. We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy.
Of course, what I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource – our children.Marketplace Maps: Gun Crime in America Gun control issues have taken center stage around the country following the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. But who is gun violence actually affecting the most? Explore our interactive map to find out which states have the highest, and lowest, number of firearm murders and other crimes.
It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.
Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.
One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.
Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.
Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. Indeed, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.
We were sent here to look out for our fellow Americans the same way they look out for one another, every single day, usually without fanfare, all across this country. We should follow their example.
We should follow the example of a New York City nurse named Menchu Sanchez. When Hurricane Sandy plunged her hospital into darkness, her thoughts were not with how her own home was faring – they were with the twenty precious newborns in her care and the rescue plan she devised that kept them all safe.
We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline Victor. When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours. And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say. Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her. Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read “I Voted.”
We should follow the example of a police officer named Brian Murphy. When a gunman opened fire on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Brian was the first to arrive, he did not consider his own safety. He fought back until help arrived, and ordered his fellow officers to protect the safety of the Americans worshiping inside – even as he lay bleeding from twelve bullet wounds.
When asked how he did that, Brian said, “That’s just the way we’re made.”
That’s just the way we’re made.
We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title:
We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
Olympic wrestling’s history goes all the way back to the original games in ancient Greece. But it will end at the 2016 games in Brazil. On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee moved to drop the sport, a decision that shocked Olympic observers and has drawn heavy criticism. Barring an unexpected shift in the I.O.C.’s position, a storied sport will lose its highest-profile event.
Olympic sports come and go. Baseball’s last medal ceremony was in 2008, but it’s doing fine because of its popular professional leagues. Less-visible sports like wrestling rely on the quadrennial Olympic boost to stay financially healthy. Wrestlers, coaches and fans of the sport are now gravely worried about its future.
This is the worst blow to wrestling, but not the only one. Many American colleges have cut their wrestling programs because of scarce budgets and Title IX requirements to equally support women’s athletics.
“Wrestling unfortunately has become an endangered sport in the last 20 years,” says Mike Finn, editor of Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine.
To compete internationally, wrestlers need sponsors to pay for training and travel. That money will be harder to come by without the power of the Olympics’ global stage.
“If you do not have the Olympics and all you have is the world championships, a lot of those people that have helped support wrestling, those corporations, may not be there.” Finn adds. “That is the biggest concern.”
Wrestling is relatively healthy at the high school level. The National Federation of State High School Associations counts nearly 300,000 American wrestlers in its latest data. That makes it about as popular as swimming and diving. But those numbers could drop if there’s no hope of Olympic glory.
“Every kid who’s ever been an athlete always imagines himself playing in the big game,” says College of the Holy Cross sports economist Victor Matheson. “If you don’t see the great wrestlers standing on the podium, getting that gold medal draped over their necks, it’s hard to imagine yourself being the great star and the great athlete.”
And wrestling fans find it hard to imagine an Olympics without one of its original sports.
Kai Ryssdal: Wrestling is, perhaps, the original sporting event. It goes all the way back to the Olympics in ancient Greece. But it's likely to be down for the count when the flame goes out after the 2016 games in Brazil.
Today, the International Olympic Committee recommended getting rid of wrestling. The criticism has been fast and furious. Truth is, Olympic events come and go. Baseball's last medal ceremony was in 2008, but it's doing fine because of popular professional leagues. Less-visible sports like wrestling rely on the quadrennial boost to stay financially healthy. Marketplace's Mark Garrison reports on what will happen to wrestling after the Olympic mat is pulled out from under it.
Mark Garrison: For Mike Finn, editor of Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine, this is just the latest and greatest blow.
Mike Finn: Wrestling unfortunately has become an endangered sport in the last 20 years.
Many college programs have gotten the ax as schools deal with scarce budgets and legal requirements to equally support women’s athletics.
To compete internationally, wrestlers need sponsors. Finn worries money will dry up without the Olympics’ global stage.
Finn: A lot of those people that have helped support wrestling, those corporations, may not be there.
Nearly 300,000 American high schoolers wrestled last year, making it about as popular as swimming and diving. But that number could drop if there’s no hope of Olympic glory. Victor Matheson is a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross.
Victor Matheson: Every kid who’s ever been an athlete always imagines himself playing in the big game. If you don’t see the great wrestlers standing on the podium, getting that gold medal draped over their necks, it’s hard to imagine yourself being the great star and the great athlete.
And wrestling fans find it hard to imagine the Olympics without one of its original sports. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
When first reported last night, news was that there'd been an earthquake near the Korean peninsula. Then the political scientists took over from the seismologists and the tremor became North Korea's third nuclear test. But given the impoverished state of the country and the fact that building weapons is pretty expensive, how can North Korea afford it?
"The economy is certainly a decrepit economy but it is in the range of $1 billion in terms of annual production," says Georgetown Asian studies professor Victor Cha. "In addition, they devote about 30 percent of the entire nation's resources to the military and to the development of weapons systems."
"So," he adds, "their people are starving, but they are able to do this."
North Korea gets its money by selling minerals to the Chinese but, says Cha, a lot of its financing comes from "front businesses" run by the military that are both legal and illegal, including the sales of black market pharmaceuticals and cigarettes.
More economic sanctions are expected from the United Nations.
Survivalist used to be just another way of saying right-wing extremist who either hated the government, thought the world would end...or both.
But then Hurricane Katrina hit, the economy collapsed, and Superstorm Sandy devastated New York City and New Jersey.
“People are feeling anxiety about the economy, the threat of pandemics, you name it," says Jim Rawles who runs the website SurvivalBlog. “Preparedness has become big business.”
Sales have only continued to grow at the Ready Store, an online firm that sells emergency preparedness supplies.
“The most expensive thing we sell is a year supply of food. It’s about $3,500,” says marketing director Jonathan Dick.
Dick estimates consumers spend half a billion dollars a year on things like water storage tanks, shelters, battery-powered radios and of course food rations.
And then there are all the trade shows, like the Self Reliance Expo, run by Ron Douglas, an entrepreneur in Colorado. Douglas says visitors can attend a broad array of classes.
“Soap-making, candle-making, I think we have bread-baking...full-on gardening classes. Raising rabbits,” he says.
Douglas -- who charges $10 for a two-day pass to the Expo -- says he’s seen his crowds swell from several thousand a few years ago, to more than 10,000 these days. You don’t have to tell him that this self-reliance industry is becoming more mainstream, he sees it.
“You’ll see a guy sitting three in dreadlocks and flip-flops and two seats down is a camoed-out guy, and two seats down from him is a mother with a stroller,” he says.
When it comes to marketing though, Jonathan Dick at the Ready Store says the industry still has some work to do.
“If you start shopping around, you’ll notice there is a lot of doom and gloom out there. And frankly, I think it’s a lot of people trying to get people to buy stuff by making them afraid,” he says.
Dick says in a way, loading up on solar panels, extra food and equipment isn’t much different than an insurance policy that customers -- hopefully -- won’t ever need.
But if they do...
Thank goodness I got married in olden times -- when the big decision was not whether to make your wedding website password-protected. When the words "page view" and "unique visitors" were not wedding lingo. When you didn't have to brand your own love story.
Have you clicked on one of these sites? Forgive me, but some are more entertaining than the wedding itself. There are polls asking guests to vote on the first dance; pop-up tabs making it easy to pin photos on Pinterest; credits naming the bride's hairstylist; links to PayPal for "honeyfund" contributions; and breaking news tidbits from the couple's trip to register at Target, perhaps, or a dress update.
And pity the couple who didn't "meet cute," as they say in Hollywood. Because the centerpiece is almost always the blow-by-blow account -- or in some cases, the blow-by-blow video -- detailing the proposal or the "how we met" story.
The sites are so popular that a new form of wedding entertainment has emerged: mocking others' websites. As one 30-something on the wedding circuit told me, "if I don't already know how you met, why am I going to your wedding?"
Here's another issue not faced by the mother-of-the-bride generation: what to name the website. With more than two million weddings a year, not every Michael and Jessica (the most popular names of the 1980s) can get their top choice.
But if you choose a URL that celebrates your special love and doesn't include your names, forgetful guests may end up at the site of some other Mike and Jessica, reading their adorable story -- or even worse, clicking the link for their Bed, Bath & Beyond registry.
Sure, some sites are tacky. But they do cut down on calls. As one bride confessed, before she got her site running, her aunts called endlessly with questions. Now? She simply directs them to her FAQ page.
Netflix is teaming up with DreamWorks to create its first original cartoon series. The new Netflix cartoon will be based on the DreamWorks movie, Turbo, about a snail who becomes super fast through a freak accident, and dreams of becoming a race car driver.
Netflix spokesman Joris Evers says, with the Turbo series, Netflix is shifting more of its focus to kids.
“Last year alone our members streamed more than two billion hours of kids content," says Evers.
Why is kids programming so attractive? It might have something to do with monster hits like Sponge Bob, which generates billions -- making money on and off the screen.
Stuart Levine, TV and features editor at Variety, says a popular show can spawn its own product line.
“You know, the DVD's and the toys and the pillows," he explains, "and that’s what makes it such a huge hit for both the network and the studio.”
Plus, Levine says, children's shows don’t cost much to make, and a hit like Sponge Bob, can run forever.
There's a certain magic that comes with reading a good story. Even one that's not about a magical time. Which is to say, the last five years in this economy.
Novelist Jess Walter has a new collection of short stories out about people and the lives they've lived the past five years. "We Live in Water," it's called.
"We are in the midst of a recovery but when I look around my neighborhood I see what I think are yard sales, and then I look closely and I see it's everyone's funiture on the lawn because they have been evicted," says Walter. "So I do think we have left a lot of people underwater as we come out of this -- more than we even realize."
His collection is full of tragic characters -- the homeless, the drug-addicted and those who have lost everything to gambling debts. But it is not without humor. "I look in those lives for moments of redemption and light and humor," he says. "That's the thing that always draws me to a story is humor and, thankfully, you don't need to make $80,000 a year to have a sense of humor."
President Obama called for stronger gun control laws last night in his State of the Union address -- and one of the big ideas being talked about is closing what's called the "gun show loophole."
In many states, it's completely legal for a private seller -- you or me -- to sell a gun to someone without running a background check. Garen Wintemute, who heads the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis, explains:
"No identification. No waiting period. No record. Cash on the table, and you're gone with the gun."
That kind of transaction does happen at gun shows, but it also happens outside them. It is easy to find buyers and sellers online, for instance.
Daniel Webster, who directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy Research, says, for that reason, he avoids the term "gun show loophole."
"'Loophole makes it sound like it is a tiny, little exception," he says. "The reality is it is a huge gap in the law."
Last weekend, I attended a big gun show in Chantilly, Virginia. An ad read, "Get Your Guns While You Still Can!"
Jerry Cochran, a federally licensed firearms dealer who owns two gun shops, had a big booth there. Cochran said he avoids the term "gun show loophole," but for a different reason: It doesn't exist.
"People listen to the television and the radio, and they think that there's not a background check here, at the gun show. But there is. We've never sold a gun in the 34 years I've been in business without a background check," said Cochran.
Licensed dealers have to do that. But I spotted someone wandering the aisles with a handwritten "for sale" sign -- they were selling their own guns. What bothered Cochran was that many of them weren't licensed.
"If you're going to set up here on a weekly basis, and you're going to sell guns, you ought to have a license and do it the proper way," he said.
But the thing is, under current law, you can't get a federal firearms license if you only do business at gun shows. And if you don't have a license, you can't access the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
President Obama gives his State of the Union address tonight, and you're likely to hear one of my favorite words a few times: infrastructure. No, really. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, follows infrastructure as part of the Metropolitan Policy Program. He says President Obama's State of the Union speeches have been unique in their focus on the topic.
"I mean, infrastructure doesn't usually come up in the State of the Union. Until this president it wasn't really part of the speech," he says.
Investment in infrastructure was a big part of the stimulus package. Remember all those shovel-ready projects?
Puentes says last year's speech was less about getting people jobs with shovels, and signaled more of a shift to big-picture planning.
"Not just spreading money like peanut butter all around the country so everybody gets something," he says, "but focusing on those investments that matter because they're going to result in long-term economic goals."
That's happening, though slowly. Puentes says the Obama administration has been looking hard at systems. One example? How streamlining shipping and freight can expedite an increase in U.S. exports. Last year's speech suggested the end of the war in Iraq meant more money for that kind of thing. The president said he wanted to take money that was being used for the war in Iraq to pay down debt and "do some nation building right here at home."
That's not easy, since war funds cannot simply be shifted over to domestic projects. As for the likelihood that infrastructure projects mentioned in last year's State of the Union -- or this year's -- will get going?
"The reality is that none of those are going to get passed by the Congress," says Chris Krueger, a policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities.
He says even though improved roads might seem easy to agree on, infrastructure spending has been a sticking point for the two major political parties since 2009. Krueger says Democrats see it as more investment, while Republicans call it more failed stimulus.
Until lawmakers build more bridges between each other, no actual bridges are likely to get started.
Most people agree that high-rise housing projects like Cabrini Green needed to be demolished in Chicago. But the neighborhoods where many of the former project residents ended up often weren’t much better than the projects themselves. Moving project residents into new neighborhoods created tensions with established residents and that sometimes led to violence. In fact, some say public housing policy is one of the causes of violence in some poor Chicago neighborhoods.
Jamika Smith lives in a Chicago-style bungalow with her husband and baby daughter on the South Side of the city. But she grew up in a housing project on the city's West Side. As she recalls, it was not such a bad life.
“You could leave your doors open,” Smith says. “Everyone knew each other, and it was just this close-knit community.”
Jamika Smith's daughter, Mariah
But it didn't stay idyllic for long. Soon drugs moved in. Upstanding residents moved out. And life got tougher. “We were just like, oh, they’re hanging out on the corners now,” says Smith. “All of a sudden, you just see the rise of violence in the community. And people just could not walk up and down the streets because they’d get shot.”
Smith moved out of the projects, went to college in Tennessee and eventually ended up in Marquette Park on the Southwest Side -- just in time to greet an influx of residents relocated from demolished housing projects all over the city, many with competing gang affiliations.
“For example, you may have been Cabrini Green, that’s one gang,” says Smith. “And then you have the Horners, who are another. And you put them all in one community area. Then you have war.”
Such violence has now found its way to Smith’s current neighborhood. Yellow police tape near a blood spot on the pavement marks the area where a 17-year-old boy was shot five times -- just blocks away from Jamika Smith's house.
Blood stains the pavement where a 17-year-old was shot
Chicago is in fact something of a war zone today. More people were killed in the city last year than U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. But did tearing down the projects cause the recent explosion in violence?
“I think the good news is that after we tore the high rises down, we moved thousands of families into other areas of the city,” says Charles Woodyard, CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority, “and that crime was reduced I think as much as 60 percent at transformation sites.”
By transformation sites, Woodyard means places where the high-rises once stood. And he says that crime didn’t go up in most of the neighborhoods where former project residents moved. “There were a handful of exceptions, though,” Woodyard says, “and it’s all about concentration. What I mean by that is the number of these relocated households compared to the number of households in the neighborhood that they live in.”
Put another way: If too many people from the projects ended up in one neighborhood, there was trouble. But Susan Popkin of the Urban Institute warns against oversimplifying the violence problem in neighborhoods where former project residents now use rent vouchers. “The Section 8 [voucher] holders tend to move to places where rents are low already and crime is already high,” Popkin says.
They went from poor, violent high-rises to poor, violent neighborhoods that already had problems. That did have some effect on the crime rate, she says. Violence was down in 2010, but it would have been down even more in certain neighborhoods if not for the arrival of former project residents. “So I’m not saying there was no effect at all. What I’m saying is that it’s not nearly as big as people think it is.”
A row of houses in Englewood on the Southside
Popkin says that factors like concentrated poverty and the foreclosure crisis shoulder a far larger share of the blame for violence in Chicago. “You have a situation where you have extremely poor people who have a lot of problems all living in one place, and you get a situation that’s not healthy,” she says.
Wentworth Gardens is a low-rise housing project on the South Side. Many residents are people relocated from other projects across the city.
Reggie Lee Ricks is one of them. On the third floor of one of the buildings, Ricks is doing word puzzles at his mother's kitchen table. His family was the last to leave the infamous Cabrini Green housing project. They were not happy about the move.
“The neighborhood we moved out of, at least we knew everybody,” says Ricks. “You couldn’t get touched. Over here, you can get touched.”
Moving to Wentworth was supposed to be better for Ricks and his family. But he and his brothers were hassled by gangs that didn't know them, and his mother Annie constantly worries about their safety. “It’s pretty much the same,” says Ricks, 22. “Wherever, you go, it’s going to be the same. People still out here killing each other.”
In fact, for people like Ricks, poverty and violence go hand-in-hand in Chicago. “If everybody had a mansion, don’t you think everybody’d be more happy?” he asks. “But they say money don’t make you happy.”
He says step one is fixing how people live. Maybe then, it wouldn't matter where you ended up.
President Barack Obama is delivering the first State of the Union Address of his new term on Tuesday evening. The address is the president's chance to lay out his agenda for the year ahead. In his address, he is expected to return to his progressive themes heard during the election -- and he is expected to urge Congress to approve more tax revenue increases.
One word we can expect Obama to utter is, of course, 'jobs.' How many have been created under his watch -- remember, over the course of the past four years, the U.S. lost 4 million jobs, then created more than 5 million. Net gain: 1.2 million. The education and health care fields created many of those jobs.
Why? We're getting older and trying to get wiser. But it also may be hard to replace workers in those fields with technology.
"Education and health care are two sectors where location really matters," says economist Ronnie Chatterji at Duke University. "The bedside manner of a physician, for example. Or a teacher being in the same classroom as a student."
Other sectors seeing net job gains included retail, leisure, and energy. Though there are signs of economic improvement, millions of Americans are still struggling to find work. The U.S. created 157,000 jobs in January, but the jobless rate remains stubbornly high at 7.9 percent.
Obama is also expected to address immigration reform in his State of the Union.
Many in tech sector will be watching to see how he address high-skilled immigration. But how high a priority does the administration place on innovation and technology?
"We have a president who is incredibly passionate about the power of technology and innovation to improve government," says White House chief technology officer Todd Park. Park says the government is already working to attract tech entrepreneurs.
"We've actually found a lot of people in government who are very entrepreneurial, who are extremely mission-oriented, brass-knuckled, and want to get things done. We've actually also found that it is incredibly beneficial to bring people from outside government to complement the people that we've got to deliver even better results," says Park.
What topics do you expect Obama to address? Immigration? Afghanistan? Gun control?
What phrases do you think he will say?
"We the people?" Obama used that phrase during his second inaugural address. How about, "great nation?"
It's safe to say that words like "Congress" and "jobs" are givens.
Print out our handy Bingo cards and play along while the president addresses the nation. Click on the links in the sidebar to see larger versions of our cards for you to print.
During the bubble, many snapped up properties in neighborhoods they thought were going to become more affluent. But instead of moving up, Chicago's Englewood neighborhood has been spiraling down.
Perhaps every successful politician promises employment. But looking back at the president's first term, where have the jobs actually come from?
Today marks four years to the day since the last fatal crash of a commercial airliner in the U.S. In addition, the New York Times points out that last year was the safest for global air travel since 1945.
And finally, And finally, back by popular demand, a Valentines Day invitation from New York City's Environmental Protection Department: Come tour the sewage treatment plant in Brooklyn. Last year's lovers got to take in a foul odor from the plant's digester egg which breaks down waste into sludge and gas.
One big piece of today's economic news will come from Washington tonight when President Obama delivers his state of the union address. Juli Niemann, an analyst with Smith Moore & Company, shares her thoughts on what Obama will highlight and the state of jobs and the economy.
Much of the excitement over social networks has been based around the idea that they can sell targeted ads and maybe eventually things. Well, “social commerce” is becoming a bit more real. Starting Wednesday, American Express customers who link their cards to their Twitter accounts will be able to make purchases with a tweet.
Here’s how it works: American Express will release a list of things you can buy as favorites on their Twitter page -- think a Kindle Fire or an X-box. Each product will have a special hashtag. You tweet that hashtag, along with a second confirmation tweet from American Express, then the product gets mailed to your billing address.
“Everything happens within the Twitter eco-system,” says Doug Pierce, the head of research at Digital Due Diligence. “So there’s no going to the merchant site, no fumbling to find your card. It’s really simple, seamless.”
Pierce says it’s seamless because a lot of marketing already happens on Twitter and so that’s where you may first find a product you want. But the new payment system may be more about social media cred, than just about making money.
“It’s something to help spread the word about what can be done and how to do it, ” says Ingrid Lunden, a staff writer for TechCrunch. “And how cool and hip American Express is, rather than something that really will generate massive returns.”
Lunden says at least for now, what you buy with this system will likely be limited, as will the number of people who choose to participate.
The Wall Street Journal and other media are reporting that the people who brought you the iPhone are working on an iWristwatch. While wearable electronics seem to be the next must-have gadget, it's not clear whether Apple wants to jump into a market that is in its infancy.
"The expectation is that if Apple is going to do it, they are going to go above and beyond, they are going to make it amazing in some way that it was previously not amazing," says Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET. "Honestly, the biggest step they could take in that direction would be to make a smart watch that is, in fact, attractive."
Though Wood is skeptical that Apple will put out a new product in this area any time soon, she says that smart watch makers, such as Pebble and Martian, are likely nervous about what an Apple iWatch would mean for the market.
So what would a smart watch do? Developers are working on devices that alert the wearer of incoming phone calls, make outgoing calls, and sync up with smartphones.
"I think wearables have a lot of potential, but I think the watch is actually still limited because of the screen size, and you don't want it to light up in the movies. People buy watches for style, not necessarily all these functions" says Wood.
Anywhere you look, the trend seems clear. One forecast shows smartphone use will double to two billion around the world in the next two years. Another shows 700 million phone/computers will be sold this year. No doubt many businesses look at those numbers and think: 'We need a mobile app, ASAP'.
That's where Alex Moazed comes in. He and his team at Applico are app-makers, catering to the likes of AT&T and NBC. His first big hit was an app for the New York City transit system. Since then, he's realized that companies need to think beyond just a mobile app:
"A lot of people rushed to the market, and said, 'Well, we have this web product, let's just extend it to mobile'," says Moazed. "But then if you really take a step back and think about what mobile allows you to do, that's where you can embrace innovation, you can really start to rethink your entire business model."
Moazed says successful businesses are already starting to create mobile innovation groups to enhance their business models and prepare for the future.
Today marks four years to the day since the last fatal crash of a commercial airliner in the U.S. In addition, the New York Times points out that last year was the safest for global air travel since 1945.
According to Keith Mackey, an aviation safety consultant in Ocala, Florida, there have been several key technological advancements in airline safety, including better weather radar, new plane tracking systems, and better equipped planes.
In addition, Mackey says the airline industry and regulators are learning from mistakes.
"One of the things that we learned from our last accident, in Buffalo four years ago, is some of the airlines were hiring very inexperienced pilots, and the FAA is taking steps now to change that," says Mackey.