Forty-seven million Americans -- that's one in seven of us -- receive food stamps. Starting today, they'll be receiving less. A stimulus bill that had added federal money to what's called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, back 2009, has expired, and Congress has declined not to reauthorize the funding. For a family of five with no other income, this could cut food stamps by $43 a month. For low income people who are working, the cut would be less, but it will still bite.
Philadelphia resident Tianna Gaines-Turner and her husband have three children, ages 6 to 9. Aside from her job at a recreation center, she is an advocate for low-income people with the project Witnesses to Hunger. No long ago, her family received more than $700 a month in food stamps. These days, the Gains-Turner family gets less than $200 a month, and the cut today will drop it further. She hasn't received the new calculation for her family yet, but a 5 or 6 percent cut would be a decent guess.
"I will have to clip more coupons, do more manager's specials at the supermarket, make bigger pots of food so I can stretch it out a little longer than before," Gaines Turner says. "Basically just cut any corners that I can when it comes to buying food and things like that. I have to cut back on snacks and things like that for my children."
All three of Gaines-Turner's children have epilepsy and asthma, and have special dietary needs. "My two twins take life-sustaining seizure medication twice a day, and all three of them take asthma medication twice a day as well," she says. "So I have to be very careful on the type of foods that I buy for my children, because some of the things that's in the food -- such as aspartame and sodium nitrate that's in hot dogs -- can make them sick."
While Gaines-Turner and her husband both work, they don't make a lot of money. She worries about how her family will make up the loss of assistance.
"I think that it's very important for listeners to understand it might sound like a small number for someone who's not receiving SNAP, for me and our community, it's going to be a big chunk."
We're asking people to tell us what they'd take from their core grocery budget if they had to cut around 5 percent. Tweet us @MarketplaceAPM with what you would cut.
At long last, the Federal Aviation Authority announced this week that we can use personal electronic devices all the way through our plane trips -- even during takeoff and landing-- as long as we're not actually talking on the phone.
But first, airlines will have to prove to the FAA that their planes can stand up to the challenge of passengers reading e-books and playing “Angry Birds." Delta and JetBlue bragged yesterday that they’d already submitted plans to the FAA, and American hopes to get theirs in today.
We asked FAA administrator Michael Huerta how long till they get the green light. By year’s end was as specific as he’d get. ("Well," he said, "it depends on how complete the plan is.")
So, what happens when people show up today -- or tomorrow -- expecting to play “Words With Friends” from gate to gate? Are we going to be seeing a lot of Alec Baldwin situations?
Probably not. Andrew Thomas, who wrote the book on air rage, says most of us are ready to act like sheep.
"You’re just told to shut up and listen to orders," he says. "Whether you like it or not, you’ve got to sit there and take it."
The big exceptions: The mentally ill, the intoxicated, CEOs, and celebrities -- folks who think the rules don’t apply to them.
"When a flight attendant who’s not making much more than minimum wage tells them they’ve gotta do something, they’re not able to deal with it very well," says Thomas.
The rest of us will wait our turn. Or pretend to.
The Senate showdown over the first of three pending nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seems to be less about her ideology and more about President Obama's.
There's reason to get excited if you're a fan: The guitar that some experts say Bob Dylan played when he went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival is to be sold in December. It's one of the most famous instruments in rock 'n' roll history.
Using special eye-tracking cameras, researchers at the University of Rochester found that many people can perceive their own bodies moving, even in total darkness. Our minds instinctively fill in some images when there aren't any real ones to see.
Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador over allegations Australian diplomatic posts, including the one in Jakarta, were used as part of the U.S. surveillance networks. Also, Germany becomes the first European country to effectively offer a third sex option for newborns.
Obama administration officials try to calm congressional Democrats anxieties triggered by the flawed Obamacare website and insurance policy cancellations... Leaders of big tech firms want Congress to rein in the NSA... It just got harder to get an abortion in Texas.
Colonel Chris Hadfield is probably the most famous Canadian astronaut ever. And after playing and shooting a music video of David Bowie's song "Space Oddity" from the International Space Station, he might be the most famous astronaut of our era. But Hadfield's story is also about farm life in Canada, testing the limits of our aviation technology around the world, and the behind the scenes journey to travel outside our atmosphere. It's all in his new book, "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth."
Hadfield got his start during the Cold War as a test pilot in Canada. From those beginnings, he probably never imagined he would one day hitch a ride to space with Russian cosmonauts. Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson asked Hadfield about the differences between the way Russia approaches technology compared to the West.
"In Russian, almost philosophy of engineering, better is the enemy of good enough," Hadfield says. "The Russians came up with a really beautiful, elegant design -- their initial spaceship. And, they flew it, and then they flew it again and they flew it again. And then they went, 'Let's change this one thing.' It's almost like a sculpture, where you've had a master in who has looked at the sculpture and thought about it, and then chipped away just a tiny, little piece."
While the basic design of the Russian spaceship hasn't changed much through the years, other technology has. Hadfield's use of social media on his last journey to space catapulted him to global fame. But he says his desire to share his incredible experiences existed long before YouTube and Twitter came into existence.
"My first flight in space was a long time ago. On that flight, I was just as motivated to try and share the experience with everybody around the world -- but the technology had not been invented yet," he says. "Now, I can snap a picture, float down the space station, and within minutes, a million people could look at it if they want to."
Hadfield hopes that view from space can inspire others in the same way it inspired him, and given him a unique perspective.
"You just start to see the world as one big continuum. And, I started to see cities the same way, in that our patterns of settlement are the same worldwide. We find a place that is hospitable, and we live there, and that sense of connectiveness [sic] starts to become pervasive within yourself. And I found after a month or two up there, and I was sending a tweet -- here's a picture of Karachi, and this is where 7 million of us live. And I didn't even think about it... And you just start to see the whole world as 'us.' And for me, it was an immensely deepening experience and good experience to see the world that way."