Chairman Julius Genachowski said he is unsure if his agency has the authority to review laws passed, but he said he was concerned that the ban might be harmful to competition.
Richard Turere, 13, put his father's cows in a pen at night. That's when the trouble would start. Lions would jump in the shed and kill the farm animals. One night he was walking around with a flashlight and discovered the lions were scared of a moving light. A light went on inside him and an idea was born.
He can't do a "Jedi mind meld" with Republicans, Obama said. To which fans of Star Trek and Star Wars immediately said he was mixing metaphors.
Friday's deadline for President Obama to issue a sequestration order is neither the beginning nor the end of this year's budget battles in Washington. Here are five key moments over the next seven months, and what's at stake in each.
The much-discussed sequestration went into effect today, which means dramatic across-the-board cuts for a number of industries in the country -- including defense, health care and education. How much will this affect our economy?
"We will see in the coming months that everything will have this layer of uncertainty around it," said The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy. "We have other problems from the last fight -- from the fiscal cliff -- with payroll taxes having gone up, it's going to really muddy all of our understanding of the economy. But the sequester will hurt the economy -- there's really no way of getting around that."
"It's hard to tell where our economy is. We've had some good data, we've had some bad data. So it's not as if we have perfect knowledge of where we are in terms of coming out of this recession, so that we can tell where we're going to go," said The Guardian's Heidi Moore. "So this could go on for months. Where this would put us -- we're not on such a good path already. We're probably going to be stagnating for the next few months whether or not the sequester happens."
Listen to the full audio for more analysis of the sequester. And here are Reddy's and Moore's longreads picks for the weekend:
Sudeep Reddy suggests:
- Ninety-nine percent of the species to inhabit Earth have gone extinct. Ross Andersen looks at what could happen to humans.
- As sequestration arrives, the Hamilton Project offers 15 smarter budget-cutting ideas from across the political spectrum.
- ProPublica's Charles Ornstein on end-of-life care.
Heidi Moore writes: "In honor of the sequester and my recent obsession with "House of Cards," the great political drama on Netflix, my best reads this week are all about the culture of Washington. The more you read (and see) about the way political operatives work, the more clear the reasons become for these manufactured crises: in Washington, it is better to be talked about than not talked about."
- Marin Cogan has a brilliant piece -- full of not-safe-for-work language -- in The New Republic about the sexual politics of reporting in Washington. It's titled, winningly, "House of Cads." The story is direct, full of horror stories of awkward come-ons -- comparing professional women to porn stars, for instance -- but it also illuminates the byways of power and how it's exercised in the nation's capital, bringing to mind stories like the ones behind Claude Chabrol's "A Girl Cut in Two." The best quote in the story comes from Atlantic editor Garance Franke-Rutka: “I think journalism schools should have workshops for young female reporters on managing old men who have no game and think, because you’re listening to them intently and probing what they think and feel, that you’re romantically interested, rather than conducting an interview.”
- My second favorite read this week has to do with the fascinating dustup between veteran millionaire journalist Bob Woodward and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. They sparred over the sequester, and Woodward soon made the rounds of TV talk shows saying that a private email exchange with Sperling left him threatened. This struck many reporters, including me, as very dubious -- nasty fights are the coin of the realm when it comes to political communications directors, who take great joy in comparing notes on the abuse they heap on reporters, and vice versa. Moreover, Woodward is as powerful, if not more so, than Sperling: the Watergate scandal and the book and movie of All the President's Men mean that Woodward's name will live in the top pages of history, where Sperling's name will be best known to political operators. What makes the whole thing really fascinating, however, is the actual email exchange that was released by the White House. Sperling comes off as conciliatory, and even a bit timid. That led to a hilarious tweet from Huffington Post political writer Paul Blumenthal: "I'm old enough to remember when the White House would out your CIA agent wife in retaliation instead sending obsequious e-mails."
- And finally, the last read of the week is this life-affirming story in the New York Times about a man who found a baby in the subway. It's the most beautiful thing you'll read this week, and maybe this year.
The zip code you live in can have a big impact on your economic destiny. That notion is at the heart of a number of local and federal anti-poverty initiatives -- called "residential mobility" programs. They help low-income families move from neighborhoods with concentrated poverty, struggling schools, and few economic opportunities to middle class places where schools are often better -- and, at least in theory, the opportunities are better too. But while there may be an economic pay off in an "opportunity area" down the road, in the short term a move to a very different kind of neighborhood involves a lot of adjustments, and many are not easy.
Some adjustments are welcome, of course. Take squirrels. If you have lived in a middle class neighborhood for most of your life, you might take them, and their scampering, for granted. But when Valerie Love and her 12-year-old daughter, Jada, recently moved to Albany Park on the north side of Chicago, squirrels were the first things they noticed.
Jada remembers how her mom began throwing jelly beans to the squirrels.
"They was coming out from every direction," Love laughs.
Their old neighborhood, says Jada, had a different kind of wildlife.
"It had bugs," she says.
While working on some home improvements -- like putting up a closet door-- they tell me about some of the other differences between their old neighborhood and their new one. In the old neighborhood, shooting deaths were not uncommon, and many buildings had been abandoned. Love says it "looked like somebody took a grenade and blew up half the blocks."
Their new neighborhood is, Jada says, "peaceful and clean." Her mom adds, "there's no gangs hanging on the corner."
Squirrels, peacefulness ... these new experiences are welcome for Jada and her mother. Love is also proud of her shiny, new kitchen, which she says the landlord used as a big selling point. "He said it's a European-style kitchen, microwave over the stove and a stainless steel refrigerator," says Love.
But there are other adjustments involved in their recent move that have been hard and uncomfortable. Love shows me her bedroom, where she's taped plastic over the windows for extra insulation in the cold winter. When her landlord visited, she says, "He said he don't like the plastic over the windows."
He didn't like the blanket either, with the face of a tiger, that she's hung over the doorway to the guest room.
"He came here complaining about that. 'You got a rug over the door.' I said 'a blanket, sir, a blanket,'" she says.
It's an unspoken thing, but even after seven months in their new world, it's easy to feel judged by a landlord over decorating choices and by new neighbors.
"In the back yard, everybody has grills on the porch," says Love. "I don't socialize too much with the neighbors in the building."
She feels like an outsider.
Changing neighborhoods can change your life Helping poor families relocate to safer neighborhoods with better schools shown to improve mobility for children.
Jacqueline Williams also recently moved through a residential mobility program -- to a middle class neighborhood in Chicago's north side. It's called Edgewater, and like the area where Valerie and Jada Love live, Williams says it doesn't have a lot of other black residents.
"The first tendency is to say, you know, I'm just going to keep to myself. But that's not going to feel good for you and you might have a lot that that community can benefit from," says Williams.
Williams says in some cases, she's faced outright discrimination. She says two landlords told her they wouldn't rent to tenants who had federal rent vouchers, and she's filed legal complaints against them. Williams says even though she feels like she sticks out -- for having subsidized rent, for being black- - she says she's trying to make connections in her new community.
"I patronize the boutiques and the restaurant. I think the alderman or something put on this annual Halloween type of thing. And there wasn't that many African-Americans there. Now I can't say that I developed friends there, but we got to meet people," says Williams.
Tracey Robinson is a "mobility counselor" with a group called Housing Choice Partners in Chicago. She's helped Jackie Williams -- and people like her -- to move, and adjust to their new neighborhoods. Robinson goes down a mental list of some of the common challenges clients run in to. One woman couldn't get used to how quiet her new neighborhood was. Another was worried about leaving behind the friends and family from her old neighborhood, who helped out with babysitting. Though once she moved, she realized the trade-off was that in a safer neighborhood, her kids could do more stuff on their own.
"Her grandchildren can actually ride the bus on their own now, and she's glad she made the move," says Robinson. "She don't have to worry."
Robinson has first-hand experience with moving from a poor neighborhood to a middle class one. Her family went through a mobility program a few years ago and she still remembers the rocky beginnings.
"It was almost a month, we were getting the cold shoulder," says Robinson.
She decided to tackle the problem head on.
"Finally, I went up to one of my neighbors and I introduced myself, and I just let her know if we had offended her in any way, accept our apology. And that's when she went to tell me about how the parking went," says Robinson.
I turns out there was an unspoken rule on her new block that everybody got one parking spot in front of their own house. The Robinsons had been parking in front of other people's homes.
"If somebody had said 'You know what, welcome to the neighborhood, we kind of let everyone park in front of our house, blah blah blah', we would have ran with that. But, we -- we didn't know," she says.
Now, because they asked, the Robinsons do know. Tracey Robinson says it was a little thing, but it made it so much easier to feel comfortable. She's been friends with her neighbors ever since.
Robert Lustig, a physician and anti-sugar crusader, found in a new study that countries where people have easy access to sugar are more likely to see a rise in diabetes. But skeptics say that sugar's not the only culprit.
Urooj Khan died last July, just one day after his $425,000 check from the Illinois lottery was cut. It wasn't until much later that it was determined there had been a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood. His remains, though, are too decomposed to detect any remaining poison.
If we didn't have a pope and we didn't have a Super Bowl, we might never use these fancy numbers at all. Then again, maybe we would.
If we didn't have a pope and we didn't have a Super Bowl, we might never use these fancy numbers at all. Then again, maybe we would.
The unrest came after a court handed down a death sentence to an Islamist leader for his role in the 1971 war that led to Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan. Dozens are reported dead.
Rick Snyder said the city could soon have a new overseer, expected to bring the city's dire financial situation to order. Snyder said while it was a sad day, it was "also a day of optimism and promise."
On the occasion of the first day of the sequester -- the across the board cuts to the federal budget that kick in today -- we thought it'd be useful to ask the question: What might the economy look like March 1, 2014, if Congress didn't do anything to change them.
Let’s do a little time travel.
Imagine it’s March 1, 2014 and you’re at the airport. Cuts to the Homeland Security Budget would likely result in fewer TSA workers, meaning it will likely take longer to get through security lines. Meanwhile more than a hundred air traffic control towers at airports across the country are set to operate under limited hours, or close entirely. The combination could result “longer lines at the airport, flight delays -- that makes workers less productive, it makes businesses less willing to have their employees travel, so that could be a drag on growth,” says economist Gus Faucher, at PNC financial.
Bottlenecks at shipping ports could be another ripple effect. Customs and Border Patrol are preparing to furlough approximately 10 percent of its daily work force, meaning there could be fewer people to do things like inspecting imported cargo containers for radioactive material -- a practice put in place after the 911 terrorist attacks.
“If the shipping lines start seeing a huge bottleneck here, they're going to start planning around it and planning to move more cargo to other ports” in Canada and Mexico,” says Daniel Yi, spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, which supports 300,000 jobs and $155 billion worth of trade.
But before we get too doom and gloom, some economists see potential upsides to the sequester. A reduction in federal debt could rev up confidence on Wall Street. If the government is spending less, and borrowing less, that might free up tight credit, prompting businesses and banks that are currently investing in treasury bonds to look elsewhere. Private capital would have to “go out and lend to other institutions—businesses and households,” says Faucher.
A happy chain reaction could ensue, that stimulates the economy. “Businesses go out and invest in equipment and software and buildings to make their firms more productive and increase profits, so that would be a positive to the economy,” he says. “And households would be borrowing to purchase a new home, or cars or appliances.”
Mark Zandi, economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicts the housing market, which is slowly recovering right now, will “help provide enough juice to keep us out of recession despite the fiscal headwinds.”
And in a sequester best-case-scenario, the housing market could even get a boost, says housing economist Nic Retsinas, at the Harvard Business School. “If the result is a signal to the market and investors that we are on a road to a more balanced budget, that we are on the road to a more efficient and more effective government, then that could lead to more private capital coming in to the housing market,” he says.
But Retsinas cautions, those gains could be dampened by sequester cuts that would create a backlog in mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration. In the last few years, he says, FHA loans have made up almost 35 percent of home sales.
Retsinas, housing for low-income families would likely by hurt by the sequester. So, by March 1, 2014, “if you were very poor, and you were a beneficiary of federal housing programs, you might have lost your subsidy,” he says. “If you were in a shelter, you might find that the doors were closed.”
The Supreme Court heard arguments this week on the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. It's been called the most effective civil rights law in U.S. history, but plaintiffs say it's time to throw out some key provisions. Host Michel Martin speaks with law professor Spencer Overton and the Heritage Foundation's Hans Von Spakovsky.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Several states are scrambling to decide what information about quality would be useful to the millions of people and small businesses expected to shop for insurance coverage in new marketplaces beginning in October.
The president met with Congressional leaders at the White House. But as before, Democratic and Republican leaders could not agree on a way forward. So at the end of the day, $85 billion worth of automatic spending cuts start kicking in.
An appeals court overruled decisions that the U.S. government had to provide broad access to its evidence against Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, in order to satisfy the requirements of an extradition hearing.
A couple of years ago, Brent Goldberg's two young sons downloaded "Dolphin Play," a free game onto their iPod Touch. In the game, you raise dolphins and other fish in a tank. There are also spending opportunities. You would get coins and exchange them for virtual fish. In the case of Goldberg's seven-year-old son, $50 worth of virtual fish.
"I found out two hours later when the credit card company called and said I had some weird charges coming through," he says. "I'm like, 'Oh, where's it from?' They're like, 'Oh, it's from Apple.' I'm like, 'Boys, what are you doing?'"
That cry has echoed through homes across the country -- roughly 23 million homes. That's how many families Apple will compensate under the terms of a proposed legal settlement. Two years ago, peeved moms and dads filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Apple didn't have proper parental controls on free mobile-device games. That allowed children to rack up big iTunes charges on so-called "in-app purchases." Depending on the game, these purchases could give players a bigger sword, better house or bonus points.
Parents like Mike Bertrand got stuck with stuck paying for his children's iTunes spree.
"The kids were very surprised to learn that they were spending real money and really confused about it," he says.
Bertrand's three young kids started playing a free iPad game called "Tap Fish."
"It's a little virtual aquarium, but if you want to buy different tanks or you want to buy little castles or little fish for your virtual fish tank or different species of fish, you have to use what appears to be play money," he says.
It's not play money. Bertrand realized what was going on when he noticed an email receipt from the iTunes store for $150.
"I started going through some other ones that were trapped in my spam folder and found that over the course of about a week, my kids tallied about $1,500 on the game," he says.
Apple reimbursed both Betrand and Goldberg. The two fathers didn't join the class-action suit. In agreeing to settle that case, Apple will give many parents a $5 iTunes gift card. Those parents whose kids' fishy charges topped $30 will get cash refunds. The settlement adds up to at least $100 million.
The question is whether the supposedly free games represent a deceptive business practice, says Colby Zintl with the advocacy group Common Sense Media. She applauds the settlement and points out Apple has added some barriers to stop unauthorized iTunes purchases. There's now a setting on iPhones, iPads and other devices that requires a password before any real money can be spent in a game or app. Still, Zintl takes issue with some free games aimed at children.
"The ability to press a button and move to a next level and you're charging your parents's credit card, you have to question what the business practices are," she says.
Those business practices grew out of the app marketplace, says Rene Ritchie of tech news site iMore.
"When the app store originally launched in 2008, there were apps like 'Super Monkey Ball' and they were $10," he says. adding that no one wanted to pay that much.
"And this model emerged called freemium," Ritchie says.
"Freemium" means the game itself is free, but things inside the game costs money.
"Instead of having to earn something in a game, you just buy it," Ritchie says.
Betting on impatience paid off. Ritchie says all of the top-grossing games right now are free...ish.
Mike Bertrand has found a way to keep his children's games genuinely free. "My kids don't know my iTunes password anymore," he laughs.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the resupply mission to the space station experienced a thruster problem, which appears to have been at least partially solved.