National / International News
NBC Chief Anchor Brian Williams has been bombarded by criticism this week over his shifting accounts of a 2003 helicopter landing in the Iraqi desert.
Once depleted by decades of overfishing, rockfish have rebounded. But it's hard to tell this conservation and fishery management success story if purveyors continue to misidentify the tasty fish.
Inquiring minds want to know: What's with the Gedde Watanabe shade in Thursday's post about Asian-Americans in TV and movies?
The leaders of Germany and France held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday in a new attempt to stop the fighting in Ukraine.
Twice in 10 days, President Obama referenced India and the need to safeguard against religious intolerance. That left Indian television blistering with debate.
The Labor Department provided more evidence Friday that the U.S. job picture is finally getting back to normal — nearly six years after the great recession ended. The monthly jobs report showed an increase more than a million jobs over the past three months. The unemployment rate did tick up to a notch, but even that is a positive signal.
E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times discuss President Obama's prayer breakfast, politicians weighing in on arming Ukraine and measles immunizations.
This Sunday, AMC debuts Better Call Saul, the backstory behind Breaking Bad drug kingpin lawyer Saul Goodman. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the show's so good, TV lightning just might strike twice.
Jordan and the other Arab countries are still doing little, even though Jordan says it ramped up attacks. As of this week, the U.S. mounted 946 strikes in Syria, while Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi and UAE completed 79 total. The United Arab Emirates stopped flying in December, concerned the U.S. is not providing sufficient combat air rescue.
Kayla Mueller, the 26-year-old American hostage ISIS claims was killed in an airstrike in Syria, grew up in Arizona. She was taken hostage in 2013 while leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo.
Robert Siegel speaks with UNCF (formerly the United Negro College Fund) CEO Dr. Michael Lomax about President Obama's recent announcement to make community college free for all Americans.
In 1998, Al Gore proposed using a satellite and the Internet to let us all see the awe-inspiring view of Earth that wows space travelers. That satellite may finally launch later this year.
Iggy Ignatius bet that immigrants from India would long to live with other Indians in his Florida condos. He was right. Psychologists say intimations of mortality make us want to be with our own kind.
As the economy picks up strength, more people are heading back to work and some are even seeing their wages tick upward. That means the lucky among us might find ourselves with extra cash and wondering what to do with it – after building up savings for emergency expenses and contributing to 401ks, of course.
An increasingly popular option for many want-to-be investors, especially millennials, are robo-advisers – online services that help people through a variety of financial decisions, such as how to invest a lump sum of money or provide feedback on the current mix of assets in their portfolios. Interfaces range from completely online and automated to those that may offer occasional video chats with human advisers. Many begin with a questionnaire for customers.
The questionnaires "remind me of a little bit of those Facebook, you know, 'What '90s song is your rock anthem?' or 'Which movie star is your soulmate?'” says Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America. “Ten questions, and they know supposedly everything about you.”
For example, an automated investment service called Wealthfront will create personalized portfolio recommendations for customers based on answers to these questions:
- What are you looking for in a financial adviser?
- What is your current age?
- What is your annual after-tax income?
- What is the total value of your cash and liquid investments?
- What would you do if your portfolio lost 10 percent of its value in a month?
Roper says these questions are meant to help the site determine an investors’ risk threshold – a difficult, complicated task, even for human advisers and especially tricky for robo-advisers. In general, robo-advisers can be a good option for investors, especially if they take a “set it and forget it” approach, she says.
“You set up some parameters, you automate the process, you keep expenses as low as possible, you diversify through ETFs,” says Roper. “Those are good principles.”
People considering robo-advisers may be attracted by their relatively low fees and the fact that – unlike some human advisers – they tend to have low minimum-investment requirements.
“Broadly speaking, these services are catering to less-affluent individuals,” says Grant Easterbrook, a former analyst specializing in financial technology. “Most human financial-advisers have account minimums. They don’t want to work with someone below a certain threshold. They don’t think it’s worth their time.”
By Easterbook’s calculations, the top 11 startups in this space, most of which have only been live for a year or two, have $19 billion dollars invested with them – and they’re growing fast. That’s drawn some bigger banks into the space as well.
But how does working with a robo-adviser compare to consulting a good old-fashioned human being, and how does the financial advice differ?
Sheryl Garrett, an independent certified financial planner who runs the Garrett Planning Network, says her first question for new clients is often: What’s going on in your life?
She inquires about a client’s income, debt, career plans, retirement accounts, what the money that may be invested will eventually be used for, if there are expenses on the horizon or a few years down the road, or family obligations they might have to take on. These types of questions can reveal deeper issues in our financial lives that the client may not even be aware of, she says.
Garrett’s not opposed to people using robo-advisers, although she cautions that automated advice can miss the bigger picture – that the extra money we think we have might not be truly extra. Her advice: planning first, and maybe, if it still makes sense, Internet second.
The ratings for the two most recent presidents had the biggest split between Republicans and Democrats.
The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The report also included revisions to job-creation figures for November and December 2014, adding 147,000 more jobs. That brings job-creation in the past three months to over 1 million – the strongest since 1997, according to Capital Economics research.
The unemployment rate increased marginally (by 0.1 percent) to 5.7 percent in January, as 703,000 additional adults were counted in the labor force.
The report does not provide detailed information about those entering or returning to the labor force. Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute says that by age distribution they appear to mirror the active workforce as a whole: 72 percent are prime-age working adults, age 25 to 54. “The uptick [in the labor force] may be disproportionately more Hispanic workers and white workers, and fewer black workers,” Gould says.
Job creation in the past several months has been broad-based, according to Gary Burtless, a labor economist at the Brookings Institution. New workers hold lower-paid retail and restaurant jobs as well as higher-paid positions in finance, professional services and IT. Traditional middle-income-tier jobs are also filling out a bit, he says.
“The construction industry has picked up employment gains,” says Burtless, “and manufacturing has been adding steadily to payrolls for quite a while.” But he points out that neither of these goods-producing employment sectors is as robust as before the recession.