Major League Baseball has gone on a "witch hunt" to destroy Rodriguez's reputation and career, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit is especially critical of baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, accusing him of trying to make an example of Rodriguez.
Charles of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania met his 5-month-old daughter when she was three days old.
The adoptive dad said that he and his wife have always been "committed to the idea of adoption" and five months ago, their opportunity to become parents happened suddenly.
"When we got the call, we spent a lot of money buying clothes and food and different supplies because we didn't know ahead of time. We found out the day she was born that we were going to be parents," Charles says.
The sudden news and scramble to prepare for a baby girl in their home was just the beginning of a long adoption process that still hasn't been finalized. All in all, it's cost about $30,000.
"It was a number that shocked us initially, but thankfully our adoption agency gave us a fee schedule and told us what to expect so we've been saving for a number of years," he says.
That's a typical number for a domestic adoption, according to licensed clinical social worker Emily Rosen, who specializes in adoptions.
"The least expensive way to adopt is through the foster care system but that varies by state and county. And then the most expensive is generally international and that's due to having to travel as well as stay for long periods of time overseas in hotels and you have to take into account food and things like that," Rosen says. "Domestically, I would say on average it could be between $25,000-$30,000 and internationally it could be up to $50,000. It's a lot of money."
VETTING AN ADOPTION AGENCY
Rosen offers these tips on how to determine which adoption agency to use:
- Be sure the agency is licensed and accredited
- Visit an agency and see if you have a connection with the staff
- Attend a free, informational meeting hosted by the agency
- Ask other adoptive parents which agency they used and how their experience was
- Browse the Web site of Joint Council on International Children's Services, a watchdog organization for international adoptions
Rosen cautions families to be sure they have extra savings when making the decision to adopt because unexpected expenses can pop up along the way -- like the birth mother changing her mind or a country deciding to close its borders to international adoption.
In Charle's case, it wasn't so dramatic, but just a small change to their adoption application proved costly.
"I was put in a great position about three months ago, I was given a promotion at work. It meant that I had to move locations, had to move out of state. So, when I told the adoption agency to update the address, I didn't realize it but we actually had to pay another $1,500 to update a lot of paperwork," Charles says. They had to do another home visit and reinspection. "That was definitely a big unknown that I didn't know about that we would have to pay extra money if we had moved so it was a little surprise."
Rosen says parents who are adopting abroad may also be surprised by the cultural differences of doing business in another country.
"There are certain countries where it's not unheard of or thought of as strange to kind of keep cash in your pocket to pay off somebody to get a Diet Coke or file a piece of paper and in this country, it's looked down upon. So, you have to be culturally sensitive," Rosen says.
As challenging and costly as the adoption process can be, Rosen encourages parents to exercise patience.
"What I always tell people is that no matter what, the child that was meant for you will come into your life," she says. "Every single person I've ever worked with has said to me, 'You know, when you told me this a year ago when I started this process, I just thought you were a cornball. I didn't know what you were talking about, and now that I've met my child, I absolutely know that I had to go through all of those problems to know that this was the child for me.'"
A senior U.S. government official says some intelligence agencies are able to focus only on the biggest threats: counterterrorism and nuclear nonproliferation. So other issues are falling by the wayside.
Where can you find a decent meritocracy these days? A favorite answer in Silicon Valley is: Silicon Valley.
Meritocracy has become part of Silicon Valley's unofficial brand. People wear hoodies and sneakers, not stuffy suits. Office decor is meticulously unpretentious -- like that garage where Steves Jobs and Wozniak did all their tinkering, only shinier.
The casual dress code, the open warehouse spaces and the bean-bag-chair-dotted meeting rooms all seem to be trying to remind you that you are in a place of Irreverence and Opposition to Hierarchy. And those values have made Silicon Valley one of the most meritocratic industries on Earth, says Sarah Lacy, founder of PandoDaily, a media start-up that covers the tech sector.
“I would challenge anyone to find an economic ecosystem that's more of a meritocracy than Silicon Valley,” Lacy told me from her office in a downtown San Francisco start-up incubator, a space fully tricked out in meritocracy-chic. (Communal Razor scooters in the hallway and a conference room in the shape of an igloo.)
“Let’s go down the list,” she said, and then rattled one off. “PayPal, Intel, eBay, YouTube. I know so many entrepreneurs who've come over to this country with nothing and have built huge companies.”
This conviction about Silicon Valley's meritocracy credentials is practically gospel by now.
Peter Bell, a prominent venture capitalist, has said “what's really special about the Valley is the optimism -- that no matter where you come from you can start a company, you can join a start up, you can change the world.”
Michael Arrington, angel investor and founder of the website Tech Crunch told CNN a few years ago that in Silicon Valley “generally speaking, it doesn't matter what your education is. It doesn't matter who your parents are here. You can become very successful based purely on your brain size and how you use it.”
A favorite example of the anyone-can-make-it-here narrative is the story of Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal. Lacy knows his origin story by heart.
“Moved from the Soviet Union when he was 16,” she’ll tell you. “His family had $300 in their pocket and he had to learn English by watching an old television set that he pulled out of a dumpster and repaired. Ten years later or so, he sold a company for $1.5 billion. Ask someone like Max Levchin ‘do you consider this place a meritocracy?’”
So I did.
But first, I wanted to make sure the story that gets told about him was right.
“Yeah, that's remarkably accurate,” Levchin said after I repeated the biography Lacy had told me. “The only thing I'm not sure is precise is the amount of dollars we had in our pocket. It might have been $200 or $400, I can't quite remember,” he laughed. “But everything else is pretty much correct, including the TV story.”
Then I cut to the chase. Does he think Silicon Valley is a meritocracy?
First, he cautioned that it was hard for him to compare it to anything else, since it’s the only place he’s ever really worked. That said, “on the absolute scale, it seems quite meritocratic,” he told me. “I've met lots of people that have succeeded independent of their humble or otherwise origins.”
But Levchin also cautioned there are certain details of his story that often get left out. “I was very lucky,” he said.
Luck came in many forms. Even though his parents couldn't afford a TV, they did scrape up enough money to buy him a computer.
“My family was very supportive of the idea that having access to a personal computer would do something good for me, and within a few weeks of landing in the U.S., they gave me a PC to work on, to play with and to explore,” he told me.
And the importance Levchin’s family gave to computer access was no accident. His mother had been a computer programmer in the Ukraine. His father, grandfather and grandmother were physicists -- prominent ones.
In fact, if you go down the often-cited list of big tech companies with immigrant founder success stories -- PayPal, Intel, eBay, YouTube -- you'll find many of those immigrant founders had a parent who was a scientist or academic.
“I actually ponder this a lot,” Max Levchin told me of the relationship between entrepreneurship and his family’s history in pursuing higher education. “Especially in the context of interviewing people to come work for companies that I help start.”
Levchin explained that in his mind a big part of entrepreneurial success involves confidence and knowing how to work hard for a faraway goal. “The academic background that my family had I think had a big influence on that in my case,” he reflected. “They basically told me ‘Look, you need to spend a lot of time chiseling skills that will pay off in a big way.’ When I try to interview young people, I look for that family ethic of extraordinarily hard work without immediate payoff.”
And though it may sound strange to hear one of the heroes of Silicon Valley meritocracy explain that when he interviews someone for a job, he thinks about their family background, it also makes some sense, says Eric Ries*, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author of "The Lean Start-Up." (He happens to come from a long line of doctors.)
“In the venture world, in the investing world, they call it the ability to have good pattern recognition,” Ries said. “To see things that have worked in the past and to try to find those same combination of factors in the future.”
Ries told me pattern recognition can be useful, but it has risks. As an example, he pointed to that saying in Silicon Valley that everyone is looking for the “next” Mark Zuckerberg.
“Sometimes you end up looking for a guy who looks like Mark Zuckerberg, physically,” Ries lamented. “And talks like him, and wears the same clothes he wears. One of our famous investors recently told a story about investing in someone who turned out to be not very good, and then thinking to themselves ‘How could I have been fooled by this guy? Oh, because he looked like Mark Zuckerberg.’”
That’s not merit-based selection, said Ries. Instead, he argues, it is the kind of unconscious bias that could help explain why just a tiny fraction of the start-ups that get major funding in Silicon Valley are founded by women or African-Americans.
Ries said there’s also what he calls a “pipeline issue.” That PC that Max Levchin's parents scraped up money to buy him when he was a teenager is the kind of story you hear all the time from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Reis told me.
“All the nerds that made right in Silicon Valley -- bullied, not popular kids in school or whatever -- what we all had in common, or almost all of us, we had a computer at home. We could kind of go home, on our own, tinker with it, fall in love with it, learn how to program it. I think about this all the time. What would have happened if I didn’t have that access? If I didn't have that outlet? Would I have been as successful as I am today? I don't know.”
Ries said it’s important to remember that today many American teenagers do not have their own computers. (According to a 2012 Pew Research study, 20 percent of teens age 12-17 do not.) And though creating a perfect meritocracy in any industry is complicated, Reis says “making sure every nerd kid in America has a computer at home? Not that hard.”
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The insects are the size of an adult's thumb and can sting multiple times, delivering a large dose of venom.
NPR's Steve Inskeep says that in his interview with Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, the Israeli prime minister seemed bent on exposing the other side of Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani.
With more Germans going vegan and vegetarian, the Munich festival wants to accommodate them. Restaurants say their vegan options at this year's festival are selling well.
The first Friday of every month is when the monthly jobs report gets released -- but not this Friday. That's because among those told to stay home with this partial government shutdown are the labor statisticians who normally crunch the numbers.
But that doesn't mean the entire economy has stopped, or that all those who are unemployed have disappeared.
"Well we know at least 800,000 government employees are temporarily unemployed, that's for sure," says Bloomberg Government's Nela Richardson. But as for the real jobs report, "I don't think we'd see a big sea change and a big boost in employment this month. However, I think that we have bigger fish to fry in the economy right now: the shutdown, the impending debt ceiling debates are much more problematic to the world economy, to the U.S. economy right now than this tepid jobs report that could have been put out today."
Meanwhile, the markets are remaining quite calm despite all this happening in Washington, D.C. "Traders I speak to are very calm," says CNBC's John Carney. "They're confident that we will not have some sort of default on the Treasuries. They think when it comes down to it, one side or the other -- probably the Obama administration -- will either pull some rabbit out of the hat trick that allows us to, 'Surprise -- we don't have to default on our debt'' or they will compromise, perhaps not on Obamacare, but something like 'We're going to allow the Keystone pipeline,' give Republicans a win...So there's a possible deal people have talked about."
We also have #longreads picks from the Wrappers -- what you should be reading this weekend.
Nela Richardson says: "As a D.C.-based economist, I've been submerged in budget battle analysis this week. Here are some longreads for those, like me, who'd like to take a break from Washington dysfunction this weekend."
- Eileen Pollack examines why there are still so few women in the sciences and finds the culture of academia may be the culprit.
- Gregg Easterbrook shows how private-public partnerships in the NFL are one-sided due to the huge amount of subsidies and tax breaks that city governments pay to private professional sports teams just to keep them in town.
- I can't imagine losing billions of dollars but I think I'd have more fun doing it than Eike Batista, the eighth-wealthiest man on earth. Bloomberg Businessweek breaks down how Batista lost $34.5 billion in 18 months.
Meanwhile, John Carney says: "All debt ceiling, all the time."
- Here's some good news. The first time we came close to a debt ceiling driven default, everyone was new to the situation. This time around, we've got a bunch of people who have spent a lot of time crafting and honing ideas about what to do to avoid a default. Many of these ideas are very clever. There's the famous Platinum Coin, made popular by Joe Weisenthal and Josh Barro. There's my idea of Obama Bonds. Matt Levine (now of Bloomberg) has proposed Premium Bonds.
- But the most elegant and easiest way to get around the problem is what I proposed in the summer of 2011: the Treasury should just pay all of its bills and the Fed should just credit all of the accounts of those paid with federal government checks. No need to borrow, tax, mint, or issue anything.
- You're likely to hear a lot about the credit default market in U.S. government bonds as we get closer to the default deadline. In some ways, this seems nuts. If the U.S. defaults won't the world just go to Hell and we'll all be fighting bears for salmon and running from zombies? Who cares whether you can collect on your CDS? Who would you collect from? Well, you absolutely must read Matt Levine's explanation for how this market really works and why people are trading this stuff. Felix Salmon offers a clearer, if less technical and precise, explanation for why people trade in this. Mainly, it's traders speculating.