The partisan war over judicial nominees has accelerated in recent years. It took nearly a year to win Senate confirmation for Sri Srinivasan to the important federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, though he had no formal opposition.
Most people who seek out a fertility doctor are couples who’ve had trouble conceiving. But a growing number of women are going in alone, not to have a child now, but to freeze their eggs and maybe use them in a few years.
It’s a process that “didn’t really become available in the U.S. until about 2002, 2004,” says Sarah Elizabeth Richards. She chronicles her own experience and that of three other women in her new book, “Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It.”
The industry is growing rapidly, she says: “There’s a study showing that more than half of fertility clinics now offer egg freezing.”
Richards points to a cultural moment that suggest egg freezing has finally become mainstream -- Kim Kardashian talked about it on her reality TV show.
Richards spent $50,000 to freeze her eggs.
“It is a lot of money. I had to make tradeoffs obviously," she says. "I had to choose to spend that money on that rather than vacations or down payments or cars. I didn’t want to be in my mid-40s spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on IVF rounds that might not work.”
She profiles a handful of other women who also froze their eggs in her book. Not all of them were able to give birth using their frozen eggs and had to find other ways to conceive. Richards asked them if they regretted the decision to get the procedure done when it ultimately didn’t work. She says they didn’t, “and the years after you freeze...those are years without anxiety.”
Richards acknowledges the technology is still relatively new but says “success rates are much better now” than they were and are comparable to more traditional IVF treatments.
Richards depleted her savings in her efforts to freeze her eggs. One of the women she profiled used her credit card to finance it. She says she hopes in the future, “prices will go down and it will become available to a lot more women.”
The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America has voted to allow gay Scout members, but to continue a ban on openly gay adult Scout leaders. The policy change would take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Lois Lerner has been at the center of a scandal over the tax agency's targeting of conservative groups.
The congressman says he will step down in August to take a senior position at the University of Alabama.
A test of third-year medical students in North Carolina revealed biases against the obese. The author of the study says these thoughts, often subconscious, could affect how doctors treat their patients and whether those patients trust them.
Officials are forecasting that hurricane activity will be "above normal" this season, with 13 to 20 named storms. As many as six of those could be major hurricanes. Warm ocean waters and the lack of El Nino conditions are partly to blame.
There were hugs and tears, smiles and laughter: Parents and students from two schools destroyed in Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla., reunited Thursday with their teachers. The school district reopened all of its schools just for the day on what would have been the final day of classes before summer vacation.
Klout is known as the company that tracks online influence on a scale from 1 to 100, based on things like Twitter popularity. President Obama and Justin Bieber top the rankings. The five-year-old service sells lists of online influencers to companies like Nike, Disney and Starbucks.
But that business model goes only so far. Now Klout, backed by an investment from Microsoft, wants those influencers to become magnets for online ads. The new service, Klout Experts, is the latest bid to create a better search engine.
It works like this: Say you have a question, like how to roast a chicken or what catnip does. Klout tries to pair you with someone who can answer it.
"When you do these searches, you don’t always just want a bunch of articles," says Joe Fernandez, Klout's CEO. "Sometimes you want to connect with a person."
So if you’re planning your honeymoon and want to know which Hawaiian island to visit, you can just pull out your phone, type the question into Bing and get a personal answer from a travel expert. Fernandez thinks this format will be more attractive to advertisers than traditional search.
"Taking an answer from an expert, somebody who has built a reputation and is trusted about the subject, and sponsoring it, is a powerful brand tool," he says.
Targeted ads will appear around the Bing answer and, Fernandez says, Klout is working with brands to sponsor experts as another way to grow sales.
The advertising possibilities haven't been lost on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn. They all tried their hand at a Q&A search service but couldn’t make it work, says David Evans, a social media researcher at GfK Custom Research. Now Klout and other start-ups want to crack the code.
"The question and answer type service is getting to be one of the darling puzzles of social computing," Evans says.
He adds that Klout is in a unique position to make Q&A search work, because it’s spent five years identifying who people turn to for certain topics online.
Those experts are often regular people, like Yolanda Vanveen. Vanveen is a student, mother and Klout-annointed gardening expert in Washington state. Millions of people have watched her online videos (see one above). She answers about 10 Klout questions per week. She doesn't get paid for her expertise, but says the time investment is worth it.
"Maybe you’re not making $1,000 consulting fee, but, in the end, I’m getting that following," she says.
Klout rewards its experts with a higher Klout score. Vanveen says that's lead to book offers and speaking opportunities. "I’m a single mom and I can answer Klout questions from my cell phone at the river and the kids are so cute, because they’ll tell people sometimes, ‘My mom is famous on the Internet, but nobody knows about it.’"
Q&A search has big advertising potential, says James Fowler, a social media professor at U.C. San Diego. Still, he says, pairing advertisers with the answers is backwards.
"Targeting is the goal here," he says. "And targeting involves having an understanding, not of the person who’s being searched, but of the person doing the searching."
Fowler says Klout ads are built around the expert, so a question about frying pans might have an answer sponsored by Williams-Sonoma, when the person asking might have more of a Sears budget.
Fowler says the best answer for advertisers is knowing who is asking the question.
Ben Trapnell says, given the chance, “I absolutely believe that unmanned aircraft systems will have more money invested in them from a civil context than they ever did from a military context." Trapnell helped found and now teaches at the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems at the University of North Dakota. The program offers -- essentially -- a degree in drones.
Trapnell says there’s been little development of what unmanned aircraft systems can do outside of law enforcement and first responders “so a lot of the students are working with civil contractors that are providing services for the military.”
Some of the program’s students finds jobs that pay them well out of college -- starting at $60,000 or $70,000 a year. He says many of the stereotypes around drones and what they’re used for are incorrect. Of his students, “not a single one of them has flown an armed unmanned aircraft” though they do work with military contractors, using drones to gather intelligence for troops on the ground.
Trapnell also objects to the use of the “d-word”:
“I think the term “drone” creates a lot of hate and discontent in people’s minds. They get afraid of it.”
As for a future with drones he says, “if it’s done in the right way, I would say that in the next five to 10 years, it’ll be become an everyday thing.”
Rep. Marcia Fudge, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, says any immigration overhaul significantly boosting the numbers of highly skilled immigrants could negatively affect African-Americans with similar skills.