The wildfire burst into Yosemite National Park on Friday after growing to more than 105,620 acres, the U.S. Forestry Service says. More than 2,000 firefighting personnel are working on the blaze known as the Rim wildfire, which is only 2 percent contained.
Further fallout from the National Security Agency leaks dominated the news as the partner of a Guardian reporter was detained in the U.K. and word emerged that hard drives at the newspaper had been destroyed. And Steve Ballmer's departure announcement raised speculation about who will succeed him as Microsoft's CEO.
Syrian children account for 1 million of the 1.75 million Syrians who have fled their country since the beginning of the upheaval in 2011, the United Nations says.
You've made it. You are settled in life. You are on the path for financial security. Homeownership means more than just a picket fence or a two-car garage. It's emotional and personal. Even with the clouds that hung over the housing market the last few years, it was hard to get away from this idea -- that buying a place is part of the American Dream. It's certainly a part of the economic recovery. We still pay close attention to home sales, prices, inventory.
The National Association of Realtors says existing home sales topped an almost four-year high in July. So what do you need to ask yourself before you enter the market? We're getting some advice from Alison Rogers, a real estate agent and a columnist for Time.com.
What is the right moment to get in?
"Sometimes people have a desire to own a house. You have to remember that purchase of your single-family home isn't an investment, it's a consumption. I would certainly recommend that people have saved up a 10 percent down payment and feel that they're going to stay in the house for at least five years," says Rogers.
Rogers says first-time home buyers are always surprised to find out how expensive it is to own a piece of property.
"When you're considering purchasing, ask the current homeowner for his or her utility bills, his or her property tax bills, and also factor in the idea that you'll probably be making one major repair a year. I would just add in maybe 2-3 percent of the house's purchase price in my head as annual maintenance," says Rogers. "For maintenance, for example, if you're buying a $400,000 house, I would think of wanting to have $8,000 in annual maintenance costs. That sounds like a lot, but if you're replacing a roof or have boiler problems, it starts to add up."
Nowadays, people are looking at mortgage rates, which have been low for the past few years, but are now starting to creep up. Rogers says the rates are still historically very low.
"We've seen a bounce from 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent, which is very scary if you're thinking of buying. But historically anything below 6 percent is still a very low mortgage rate. I wouldn't use the rising rates as a reason to be too hasty in my decision [to buy]," says Rogers. "I wouldn't panic and I wouldn't make a decision you're going to regret based on just seeing those numbers move around."
Rogers says people shouldn't think of a home as a way of building wealth. She says building wealth is a wonderful extra of buying a home and is a worthy purchase you should save up to make, but you shouldn't expect price appreciation.
"The price appreciation that we got in this country in the '90s and the '00s really was whipped cream on top of the sundae. It wasn't something you should have expected and you shouldn't necessarily expect it to repeat," says Rogers.
Could it possibly be true that watching videos on my smartphone uses as much electricity as two refrigerators?
“This is an example of a claim that sounds interesting, but really has no basis in fact,” says Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University.
Koomey has devoted years of his professional career to fighting this refrigerator analogy. It first came up more than a decade ago, by the same author, then making the claim that a Palm Pilot used the same electricity as a fridge.
Koomey says fighting it again now is pretty frustrating, “I’d rather not have to spend time rehashing this stuff.” But, the claim is back. So Koomey is back; figuring out just how much electricity goes into making and using my smartphone.
By his calculation, it’s about 60 kilowatt-hours.
Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and the author of the phone-equals-refrigerator claim, estimates it’s closer to 700 kilowatt-hours.
Mills is author of a report called The Cloud Begins with Coal, sponsored by the mining and coal industries. He says he wants to get people thinking about how much electricity these devices use. And he doesn’t think the controversy around the refrigerator analogy distracts people from his bigger point.
“The debate makes it an interesting conversation, like we’re having,” says Mills.
He stands by his calculations and his main assertion: “It is accurate: it uses a lot of electricity. Now if someone were to say, it’s not equal to a refrigerator or equals half a refrigerator or a tenth of a refrigerator, that’s still a big number.”
Why use this analogy again? Why compare a phone to a fridge, when Mills got so blasted the first time?
“If I came up to you and remarked to you that there is a one-headed cat around the corner from your house you would be totally uninterested,” says Bruce Nordman, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory*, “but if I said there was a three-headed cat you’d be amazed that it exists and want to go see it; so these fantastical assertions naturally attract people’s attention, whether or not they are real.”
Nordham says the idea that our phones use as much energy as a fridge is basically that three-headed cat; it’s not real. And still, these things get picked up, and passed around.
Which raises another question -- why?
“Thinking about a smartphone, a tiny small device, that sits in our pocket using the same amount of energy as a huge refrigerator, seems so amazing that we just have to share us with someone else,” says Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton school and author of "Contagious: Why Things Catch On." “It’s a neat little factoid that makes us look smart, even if in this case, it’s not actually true.”
He says the controversy around it helps makes it sticky and it taps into a broader conversation about the environment. “If everyone is talking about the environment, they are looking for something to add to that conversation,” Berger says. “We all know that gas prices are up, what's there to say that’s new? But if I can plug in a new fact to that conversation, it’s going to get talked about a lot.”
Even if that fact isn’t factual.
Robin Thicke may have the hit song of the summer, but Marvin Gaye's family says it sounds too familiar — like the melody in Gaye's "Got to Give It Up." Both sides are lawyering up, and the Barbershop guys weigh in on the dustup.