Finite rental stock and the latest tech boom are combining to squeeze a lot of San Franciscans out of their homes. One Bay Area writer explains how it's not the same as the last time around.
The spacewalks are to repair a bad valve in a pump that has caused problems with the station's cooling system.
Colorado and Washington state are setting up legalized marijuana markets, and advocates are celebrating. But there are signs of discontent. Even a founder of a marijuana legalization group says there's a possibility of a popular backlash.
Despite the fact that Merkel will be governing along with her rivals, not much is expected to change in regards to Germany's policy on the eurozone.
Two decades ago, labor unions warned that the North American Free Trade Agreement would drive away U.S. jobs and push wages down. Today, unions feel as strongly as ever that NAFTA was a mistake for U.S. workers, but quantifying the factors behind the decline in the middle class is no simple matter.
Moscow has agreed to a massive bailout package for Ukraine, a deal that could keep the country from bankruptcy next year.
Some of the most heated protests in San Francisco have been over big, sleek buses — private shuttles that Silicon Valley tech companies like Google and Facebook use to get their city-living employees to work. They've become a symbol of the city's changing socioeconomic landscape.
Ten years ago Congress approved a $15 billion plan to combat HIV in developing countries. Since then, the global health initiative has funded HIV treatment for nearly 7 million people and prevented hundreds of thousands of babies from getting infected during childbirth.
Free-diving is a risky sport, involving swimming deep into the ocean without the aid of air tanks. But after a diver's death in November, some free-divers worry that the sport's governing body is still not doing enough to prevent common injuries and reel in overambitious competitors.
This final note today, in which we learned skinny jeans almost doomed the American dollar.
From the pages of the Washington Post, this historical tidbit:
Cranes -- the company that for more than a century has supplied the cotton fiber from which greenback are made -- used to use discarded denim for its cotton.
Until back in the 1990's the fashion world discovered spandex and how it helped jeans fit just right. And, sadly, spoiled denim as a currency-source forever more.
Now, Cranes just goes straight to plant.
Tech companies like Google and Facebook don’t just want to dominate the web, they also want to takeover the pipes that bring you the Internet. For example, Google has been laying cables in the oceans around Asia and Facebook has secured fiber cables to move traffic back-and-forth from its data centers.
Right now, access to the Internet is still largely controlled by telecom companies, said Allan Hammond, the director of the Broadband Institute at Santa Clara University. To explain why the tech companies might want a biger part of that pie, Hammond launches into a a fairy tale of the “Three Billy Goats Gruff”...
"There were three billy goats gruff, who wanted to cross the bridge to eat the grass on the other side," Hammond says.
The first goat tries to cross but the troll living under the bridge, tells him to get off.
"In this case, the troll under the bridge are the telecom companies," he says.
The bridge is the Internet pipeline that they control. And the goats are tech companies like Google, Netflix and Amazon who need the bridge to deliver their content. In the fairy tale, the goats get rid of the troll. But in real life Hammond says, the tech companies have decided to build their own bridge.
He adds that companies like Verizon have made it clear that they want to start charging tech giants for distributing data heavy content like video. But Dan Bieler, a telecom analyst at Forrester, says it's not just video that the tech giants are worried about. As our lives move onto the cloud tech companies will need an ever-bigger bigger pipeline.
"If you upload a document on Dropbox, if you use Google apps" you're using the cloud, Beiler said. And more-and-more companies are ditching their servers and renting space on Amazon, Google and Microsoft’s cloud.
'Detail men' are sales reps who sell doctors on new drugs. They became a fixture in the mid-20th century, when federal laws first started requiring prescriptions for some drugs.
“You have the creation of the prescription-only drug at exactly the time the pharmaceutical industry is transforming into innovative patent-protected medicines,” says Jeremy Greene, a medical historian at Johns Hopkins University.
Pharmaceutical companies realized doctor’s prescription pads were the funnels to drug sales.
"And all of this,'' Greene says, "puts an increased emphasis on not just having salesman, but having a trained detail man -- and they were almost all men in the mid-20th century -- have a trained detail man that you could put into the doctor’s office."
Greene says initially these detail men were nervous about teaching doctors how to do their job.
Drug reps, men and women, became fixtures at doctors’ offices. You know, the often attractive folks, waiting purposefully in a room of sick people.
These days, the job is changing again. Doctors aren’t the funnels to drug sales they once were.
"Physician autonomy over prescribing has been decreasing over time," says Ernst Berndt, a health economics professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Benefit managers make more of the calls about what drugs you’ll get. Now, pharmceutical companies have to make their case to health plans, not just doctors.
Wednesday afternoon, the Fed will make an announcement, and investors will be watching to see if it tells the world when it will taper the large-scale bond purchases known as quantitative easing. The main worry about QE is that throwing all that money around would lead to inflation. So far, that hasn’t happened. But there are some lesser-known risks of QE.
If the Fed’s plan lifts the economy the way it hopes, interest rates will rise eventually. Higher interest rates drive down bond prices, including the Fed’s holdings.
“It means the Fed to a certain extent, bought high,” explains University of Wisconsin economist Ken West. “They’re buying high and selling low.”
That’s the exact opposite of what a good investor does. Odd as it sounds, the Fed stands to lose money selling bonds that it doesn’t hold to maturity.
Then there’s the impact on the market of the Fed’s deep dive into bonds. A program that gobbles up $85 billion in bonds every month will inevitably make waves in the securities market.
“Fed purchases have been substantial,” says Matt Slaughter, associate dean at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. “One of the big open questions is from where inside the United States or abroad will creditors appear to buy that kind of debt in the future from the U.S. Treasury.”
There’s also the political risk of QE.
“Certainly if you’re at the Federal Reserve, you would like to implement your monetary policy without taking a lot of criticism from Congress,” says Hamilton College professor Ann Owen, a former Fed economist.
Even when less aggressive, the Fed has its critics. The most extreme don’t even think the central bank should exist. QE really riles up lawmakers who share that view. And they can make life complicated for the Fed.
Supporters of QE concede its risks, but say the benefits outweigh them.
“Caution always makes sense,” says Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of Michigan economics professor Justin Wolfers. “But this is not a reason not to do it, because not doing quantitative easing also means leaving millions of people unemployed.”
We’ll find out the Fed’s take soon enough.
Mark Garrison: If the Fed’s plan lifts the economy the way it hopes, interest rates will rise eventually. University of Wisconsin economist Ken West reminds us what that does to bond prices.
Ken West: The price of the securities goes down. It means the Fed to a certain extent, bought high. They’re buying high and selling low.
Yup, it’s the exact opposite of what a good investor does. Odd as it sounds, the Fed stands to lose money selling those bonds in the future. Then there’s the impact on the market of the Fed’s deep dive into bonds.
Matt Slaughter: Fed purchases have been substantial.
Dartmouth business school associate dean Matt Slaughter says you can’t stop gobbling up $85 billion in bonds every month without making waves.
Slaughter: One of the big open questions is from where inside the United States or abroad will creditors appear to buy that kind of debt in the future from the U.S. Treasury.
Then there’s the political risk of QE. Hamilton College professor Ann Owen is a former Fed economist.
Ann Owen: Certainly if you’re at the Federal Reserve, you would like to implement your monetary policy without taking a lot of criticism from Congress.
Even when less aggressive, the Fed has its critics. The most extreme don’t even think the central bank should exist. QE really riles up lawmakers with that view. And they can make life complicated for the Fed. Brookings Institution senior fellow Justin Wolfers concedes QE’s risks, but says the benefits outweigh them.
Justin Wolfers: Caution always makes sense. But this is not a reason not to do it, because not doing quantitative easing also means leaving millions of people unemployed.
We’ll find out the Fed’s take tomorrow. In New York, I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.
Did petty politics lead to traffic-snarling lane closures on the nation's busiest bridge? That question, which has dogged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for weeks, could end up tarnishing his prospective 2016 presidential bid.
KAI RYSSDAL: Angela Merkel was sworn in as the Chancellor of Germany again today. It's her third term running Europe's biggest economy. Germany's doing pretty well compared to its neighbors. Take, as just one measure, youth unemployment. It sits at almost 24 percent across the European Union. Less than 8 percent in Germany. This week our man in Europe Stephen Beard is surveying the state of young people without jobs across the continent for a series called Jobless Generation.
STEPHEN BEARD: At a gym in Dusseldorf , in northern Germany a trainer puts an exercise class through its paces. Among the exercisers a young , jobless Spaniard letting off steam...
JOSE MANUEL MORRENO: ( breathless) It helps with the stress of course. A good way to let it out.
BEARD: It helps with stress?
MORRENO: Of course, of course (panting) I'm breathless …I'm sorry
BEARD: Jose Manuel Morreno is a 29-year-old doctor from northern Spain. The intense hour-long exercise routine is one of his ways of coping with unemployment. Among his other strategies: emigrating and learning German. Four and a half hours a day for eight months -- here at the Goethe Institute in Dusseldorf -- Jose has been getting to grips with one of Europe's most difficult languages -- and handling the hardships of emigration.
MORRENO: It's not easy. It's not a piece of cake because you're leaving a lot of things behind , especially like family and friends . But I don't regret it. Once you take the step there's no turning back.
BEARD: At least in Germany -- after he's learned the language -- he has the certainty of a job. German hospitals urgently need at least 7,000 doctors. Back home in Spain half of Jose's age group faces a workless future
MORRENO: If you want to make a living, if you want to progress, be happy -- bottom line, it's sadly it's going abroad.
BEARD: Increasingly for young unemployed southern Europeans going aboard means coming here to Germany. With its low birth rate, ageing population and relatively buoyant economy, Germany needs young skilled workers.
LENOR VILLA LOBOS: It's easier to find a job in Germany. It's probably the best place to find a job in engineering in Europe.
BEARD: 26-year-old Lenor Villa Lobos from Portugal. She graduated as a Geomatics Engineer, spent a year out of work -- back home and now she's also here at the Goethe Institute learning German
LOBOS: I thought maybe I'll start searching for a job here. Of course, I prefer Portugal but now it's almost impossible to find a job there or at least a good job where I can be well paid.
(Phone rings. Stefan Brunner answers)
BEARD: In his office at the Dusseldorf branch of Goethe Institute, the affable director Stefan Brunner can see an upside to youth unemployment in southern Europe. The Institute is teaching more German language courses than ever. And -- he says -- emigration is helping European unity.
STEFAN BRUNNER: It's very tragic what's going on in southern Europe but at the same time I think this might be a good chance for the future. If you're trying to get people in Europe from different countries closer together.
BEARD: But the young southern Europeans making the move and trying to mingle with their northern counterparts have mixed feelings. Jose Manuel Morreno is grateful to Germany but how does he feel about his native Spain.
MORRENO: I feel betrayed. I feel there are no opportunities. There's nothing for us back in Spain. So yes, I feel betrayed. So do my friends. So do my generation.
BEARD: And 24-year-old Stamatia Konstanta, a qualified dietician from Greece misses the warmth of home, while determined to find work in this cooler northern climate
BEARD: Do you see yourself living all your life here?
STAMATIA KONSTANTA: No I don't think so ( laughs) I don't want to live all my life here. They're not happy.
BEARD: They're not happy? You think they're miserable?
KONSTANTA: Maybe it's the weather ( laughs)
BEARD: Tomorrow I'm heading south…to sunny Spain….where in spite of horrendous levels of unemployment many young people cannot bear to tear themselves away from home. In Dusseldorf, Germany I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
The pope removed a conservative American cardinal, who was a leading critic of abortion and gay marriage and replaced him with a more moderate voice.
Alongside the tales of the newly, minted, young male billionaire tech entrepreneurs, another narrative is bubbling: The absence of women.
The data speaks for itself. 80 percent of people graduating with computer science degrees are men. By some estimates, up to 90 percent of the engineering teams at start-ups are men and 97 percent of the companies in Silicon Valley are started-up by men.
To break in, women are starting to learn the tech industry's rules of engagement, and that's on display at the Hackbright Academy, a coding school for women.
I visited the school on 'Recruitment Day,' where tech companies conduct speed interviews. 24 year old Jee Kang, who just finished the Academy’s 10-week crash course, was showing off a photo app she built to recruiter Paul Sri, who works with online-textbook company Chegg.
Kang explained that her app is modeled on Japanese photo booths. "Have you seen Google Hangouts, where you can try on a scuba masks and like a hat? Well, that’s actually my next thing," Kang says.
Kang didn’t study computer science in college, she was a middle school teacher. A lot of women you find at these academies sprouting up all over Silicon Valley work in tech, but mostly as product managers, marketers and researchers. Instead of playing what some of them describe as “support roles,” these women want to make stuff too.
In the past, women felt they needed to take the traditional route and get an engineering degree. This sort of self-training can be a new concept for women, but Sri says men have been doing it this way since the beginning.
"Most people who I know who do programming did not study computer science, and really no exposure to programming at all," Sri says.
Silicon Valley is infamously male dominated, but Cindy Padnos says that doesn’t mean women have to behave like one to get ahead. Padnos founded Illuminate Ventures, a high-tech venture capital firm. She’s part of a growing number of women, who lead funds that are trying to identify women founders and advisors.
"I really don’t want to go out there and encourage women to be like men, I don’t think that’s a good answer either," says Padnos. She says women have a lot to offer when it comes to running a company. They’re often more collaborative, and generally more open to ideas.
"When I see a pitch from a male entrepreneur, it’s typically much more aggressive in terms of their revenue plan, so I’m busily discounting, well they’ll do half of that," she said. Whereas, more often than not, Padnos says women are more realistic.
For now, Padnos says that blind spot is turning into a competitive edge. 20 percent of start-ups Illuminate Ventures backs are founded by women, significantly higher than the industry average.
Independent radio producer Todd Melby has been working on a series, "Black Gold Boom," about the people taking part in -- or getting swept up in -- the oil boom in western North Dakota. The boom has brought tens of thousands of new workers to the state.
For a lot of them, it's a chance to start over. In this segment, Todd talks to Elsie Ejismekwu, who drives a truck by day and a taxi by night.
"I went through a divorce and we had a five bedroom house that we had to sell and the market was so low on it and I just wanted a fresh start."
Todd Melby's series, "Black Gold Boom," is an initiative of Prairie Public and the Association for Independents in Radio.
President Obama frustrated and angered many of his supporters this year, from his policies on drones and spying to his muddled message on whether to authorize airstrikes in war-torn Syria. He will end the year with sagging approval ratings.
A chronic brain disease afflicts former pro football players, boxers and others who suffer repeated brain injuries. Doctors now can only diagnose it with certainty after someone dies. But researchers are working on tests that could work while people are alive.