Despite much international criticism, Israel has continued building its West Bank barrier. It's now nearing completion, while the Israelis and Palestinians continue to argue over whether it will help or hurt prospects for a Middle East peace agreement.
Ironically, there's one piece of Web history that can't be found online: the very first page. Now, a team at the lab where the World Wide Web was born is on a hunt for old hard drives and floppy disks that might hold copies of the missing files.
The trio of scandals that have engulfed the White House may not be big news by 2014, but now is the time when prospective candidates must decide if they want to be on the ballot. Is the news of the moment hurting the effort?
Capt. Francesco Schettino is accused of negligence that led to the grounding of the ship and of abandoning the stricken vessel while a rescue of its more than 4,200 passengers and crew was still underway.
The incident occurred Wednesday when the suspects attacked the man near a London military barracks.
The French government is trying to slay a sacred cow. The Ministry for Higher Education plans to remove some of the legal protection of the French language.
Under the so-called “Toubon Law” of 1994 , all academic subjects -- other than foreign languages -- must be taught in French; and public bodies are obliged to coin pure French alternatives to replace English imports like “le weekend “ and “le marketing.”
But the government wants to modify the law.
“The Minister is just trying to loosen the restrictions on the teaching of university classes in English,” says Douglas Yates of the American University in Paris. "This is because the business schools need to teach in English, and scientists need to deal with the scientific community in English.”
By lifting the ban on English as a medium of instruction, the government hopes to attract many more foreign students to French universities. The goal is to raise the level from 12 percent to 15 percent by 2020.
The left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation showed its support for the policy by printing its front page entirely in English with the headline: “Let’s Do It.” Editor-in-Chief Fabrice Rousselot says relaxing the ban on teaching in English would be good for France -- and the French language.
“If we teach in English, then we will have more foreigners coming here,” he said. "They will absorb French culture and language and take that back home with them when they leave.”
Rousselot argues that teaching in the world’s most popular foreign language will also help French students. It will equip them to go out and sell French products and services anywhere abroad.
“Our French youth is going to be able to go around the world instead of being afraid of the world," he said. “They’ll be able to conquer the world!”
But the plan to lower the protection of the French language is raising national hackles.
“Our public policy is to broaden French influence and the French language,” says conservative lawmaker Jacques Myard. “We should not spend French taxpayers’ money promoting American and British interests.”
Myard says focusing on English as the main international language is, anyway, a strategic error. “I’m sorry to say that English is declining. As is the United States of America. I’m sorry to say.”
But most opponents of the new measure are more worried about the perceived threat to the French language. George Gastaud is president of a French language defense group called Courriel. The name means “email" in French and was invented to replace the widely used Franglais term “le mail.” Gastaud deplores the plan to ease the restrictions on English teaching.
“I’m resisting the replacement of our own language by another,” he says. “What is France, without French? “
But even he -- the purist -- exemplifies the relentless encroachment of English. In our interview in French, he complained about “le French bashing” and spoke of “le business lobby."
Now that’s what I call Franglais.
Apple CEO Tim Cook's testimony on Capitol Hill shined a light on how American companies keep their foreign profits overseas -- beyond the reach of the IRS. Traditional tax havens are well-known: the Cayman Islands, Singapore and, more recently, Ireland. But there’s one offshore tax haven you might not have heard of: The island of...Manhattan.
Turns out many U.S. companies store some of their offshore profits in banks here at home.
"You don’t really have to keep money offshore to keep it offshore," says Larry Zelenak, professor of corporate tax law at Duke University. "All the big multinationals do it. It's kind of standard operating procedure."
It works like this: A U.S. company sets up a subsidiary in a country with a low tax rate and routes its overseas profits through that unit. Those profits technically belong to the foreign subsidiary, even if it deposits the money in a U.S. bank account.
"A company can invest its money wherever it likes, and the U.S. tax laws look at that as money not of the parent, but of the subsidiary and, thus, that money is not subject to U.S. taxes," explains Michael Knoll, co-director of the Center of Tax Law and Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.
The maneuver allows U.S. companies to avoid paying the 35 percent corporate tax rate, one of the highest in the world. Still, that money can be put to use in the U.S. economy.
"The fact that the money is sitting in U.S. banks presumably makes the money available to U.S. borrowers," says Howard Gleckman, a fellow at the Tax Policy Center. "But, as we know, U.S. banks have not been lending. That’s one of the reasons why the recovery from the recession has been so slow."
And the economic impact of lending that offshore-onshore money, Glickman says, doesn’t make up for the billions of dollars in taxes the government misses out on every year.
Companies keep finding new ways to collect our personal information and sell it to marketers and advertisers. Now wireless phone companies like Verizon make money off data about our physical location and the websites we visit. Of course, companies generally include a caveat: consumers are allowed to "opt out." But that’s not always easy.
On many websites, the option to "opt out" and limit the sharing of consumer data is not immediately obvious.
“Opting out of data brokers and advertising schemes is notoriously difficult,” says Adi Kamdar with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting digital rights.
He says some websites try to hide the opt-out option.
“Other sites make it so you have to provide more information about yourself in order to opt out. And sometimes people feel weird or creeped-out about doing that,” Kamdar says.
Companies have a financial incentive to discourage us from opting out.
“Today, your data is the new gold. It’s the currency that companies are trading back and forth and making tens of billions of dollars on. So of course companies like Verizon and Facebook don’t want you to opt out,” says Jeff Chester, executive director of a consumer privacy group called the Center for Digital Democracy.
Chester favors a national privacy law that would restrict the trading of personal information.
But until then, it’s up to us.
“There’s certain privacy-friendly browser extensions that will block third-parties from collecting your data, or limit the amount of data you can give to them,” Kamdar says.
“As soon as you clear your opt-out cookie too, you opt back in to this data broker’s scheme,” Kamdar says.
So if you clear the cookies from your computer, you’ll need to start over and opt out all over again.
Two tips on data privacy from the Electionic Frontier Foundation
1. Install an add-on to protect your privacy online. Facebook is using "blind cookie-matching" to match up users of online marketer BlueKai with specific Facebook accounts. We'll explain the mechanics of this more in another post, but for now it's good to know that blocking trackers is a good general practice for stopping this type of tracking. We recommend you use a tool such as Ghostery (now available on Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera and Internet Explorer) or Abine's DoNotTrackMe (available in Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer) or AdBlockPlus with EasyPrivacy Lists. See more comprehensive instructions in our 4 Simple Changes to Stop Online Tracking.
2. Avoid giving your phone number and email address to companies when possible.Facebook and these companies are primarily using hashed email addresses to match users between databases, though they may also use hashed phone numbers. If you’re filling out a survey or signing up to receive email updates from a website, consider creating and using a different email address than the one you associate with your Facebook account. Similarly, consider setting up an alternate phone number you can give to companies apart from the phone number you connect with your social media accounts.
A handful of polio infections in Kenya and Somalia could set back efforts to wipe out the virus worldwide, health workers warned Wednesday. The last time there was polio in this region, the virus spread throughout the Horn of Africa into the Middle East and eventually into Indonesia.
Officials in Moore, Okla., said today they're pretty sure they've recovered the bodies of all those who died in the tornado Monday. Which means the long road to putting objects, homes and lives back together can begin in earnest.
Homes and businesses were destroyed by the dozens. And if history's any guide, figuring out of how to get the aid money that's going to let people rebuild is going to be complicated.
Gaydawn Magee is one of those business owners. And her storefront? "Looks like it was put through a blender," she said.
She's lived through her share of tornadoes, but Magee's company, Ideal Hearing Solutions, is less than a year old. This will be her first time navigating a maze of insurance paperwork and federal forms.
"Luckily I did find my patient records and I have a CPA that's offsite," she said, making her claim more straightforward. "That was the saving grace."
The Moore High School alum plans to stay put, albeit in a new location.
"First day it happened I was, I won't say grumpy, but not having my best day," she said. "But if I had a choice, I'd rather lose my business than my friends or children."
Magee herself was out of harm's way, preparing to leave town to pursue her hobby: recreating historic battles for tourist audiences in Tombstone, Ariz., and elsewhere.
"I'm a gunfighter. We basically dress up in Victorian or period clothing," Magee said. But she doesn't have to roll over and play dead in the shows very often. "Most of the time I'm an outlaw."
Two Oregon counties have reportedly rejected property tax increases that would have funded law enforcement and public safety services. The counties once received federal timber subsidies, but those days are over — and now they're scrambling to pay for essential services.
A San Francisco dealer quadrupled his income by moving to New York after California legalized medical marijuana.
A San Francisco dealer quadrupled his income by moving to New York after California legalized medical marijuana.
Sweden has a global reputation as a smoothly run, harmonious nation. But following the death of an immigrant, three nights of rioting have prompted some soul-searching.
They don't get much attention, but the rules in sports matter. Think about the designated hitter in baseball -- more than 40 years later, people still grumble about the beefy sluggers. This week, golf's ruling bodies agreed to ban what's known as the belly putter, saying it helps keep the game pure.
And that's the trick for sports, how to tweak the game just enough to increase popularity without turning off hardcore fans. University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson says a good example is when the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson.
“It was chancy. It was the right thing to do. It was the moral thing to do and everything else, but there was some risk attached to that,” he says.
Sanderson says team owners were gambling white audiences would pay to see non-white athletes compete. Generally, sports owners are in business to make money. Rule changes tend to be more modest than breaking the color line, however.
Holy Cross economics professor Victor Matheson says usually sports focus on adding some razzle-dazzle. “We’ve seen lots of rule changes in the NBA and the NFL and hockey all designed to encourage more offense. More scoring,” he says.
But there’s a limit. Take baseball. Performance enhancing drugs helped drive the infamous homerun races between Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa.
But University of Chicago’s Allen Sanderson says customers balked.
“At some point fans just said enough is enough. It’s just too artificial,” he says.
Sports economists think professional football is the biggest sports rule riddle out there today. The NFL must figure out how to protect its players.
Right now, it’s not clear how to do that. Prof. Matheson at Holy Cross says to understand what’s at stake look at boxing.
“There was essentially no way to take the brutality out of boxing. And boxing went from being the most glorified sport in the country, down to a sport that essentially no one watches anymore,” says Matheson.
Matheson says if the NFL doesn’t figure out how to adjust its game, the nearly $10 billion in revenue it took in last year could be in jeopardy.
The sergeant has been accused of secretly videotaping at least a dozen female cadets, sometimes when they were showering. The New York Times report follows a series of accounts in recent weeks about alleged sexual assaults within the military.
In the lead-up to Memorial Day this year, Marketplace and ProPublica have been investigating predatory lending to soldiers and their families. Now, we’ll host a live online discussion of the issues facing indebted military members, and the military units they serve in.
The Military Lending Act (implemented in 2007) was supposed to protect military members from exorbitant interest on small-dollar loans. It set a 36 percent APR cap and banned payday and title loans -- short-term high-cost cash loans that often got soldiers and their families into a deepening cycle of debt. And consumer advocates, as well as the military itself, credit the MLA with significantly reducing the availability of these types of predatory loans.
But, we looked at military bases in Georgia and elsewhere in the country, where storefront lenders still cluster just outside the gates -- title-pawn, pawn shops, and installment, all lending ‘to the military.’ We found national chains of non-bank finance companies are either restructuring their lending products to exploit gaps in the Military Lending Act -- extending the term of the loan, for instance -- or flagrantly violating the law. The plight of severely indebted soldiers continues to impact the military -- threatening soldier’s security clearances, taking up officers’ time and threatening the readiness of the force.
Help us answer a few questions in our next live chat (revisit our previous discussion on installment lending here):
- Are you a military member, or do you know a military member, who has gotten into financial trouble from predatory lending?
- Are soldiers paid enough to cover their living expenses, as well as financial emergencies?
- Why don’t more military members use the zero-interest emergency loans available from the Army and other services, to avoid predatory lenders?
- Do you think the Military Lending Act has made a difference in predatory lending to military members?
- Why are military members so vulnerable to predatory lenders -- outside the gates of bases, or online?
- Should members of the military be given more consumer protections from predatory payday and title lenders than the rest of the civilian population?
- Should the Military Lending Act (or similar loan bans and APR caps) be extended to all Americans?
Join us back here for a live discussion this Friday, May 24, at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET, with Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman and ProPublica's Paul Kiel.
While studying microorganisms on humans is not new, tracking fungi is. In a census of sorts, scientists checked the skin of healthy volunteers. They found an expansive ecosystem of silent inhabitants.
In 2011, police detained Ai Weiwei for 81 days. Now, he's released a song that's turned the experience into a heavy metal protest song, along with a dystopian nightmare video. The lyrics are explicit and angry. Ai says his music is for the many political prisoners who remain jailed.
Arguments in a court challenge against New York's stop-and-frisk policy wrapped up earlier this week. Critics say the policy promotes racial profiling. But host Michel Martin speaks with Heidi Grossman, New York City's lead attorney in the trial, to hear the Police Department's side of the story.