National / International News
Education thinkers at SXSW gave us the details on the teachers who inspired them.
House Republicans unveiled a draft budget Tuesday, aimed at balancing spending with revenues over the next decade without raising taxes.
The company brought the hammer down at its locations in the Netherlands after more than 32,000 people signed up via Facebook to play at a store in Eindhoven.
For years, Massachusetts has sat at the front lines of health reform. Before we had the Affordable Care Act, there was "Romneycare."
Now, as the Obama Administration looks to better control healthcare spending, the nation once again turns to the Bay State.
How do you spend less on healthcare? One way is to get doctors to stop doing stuff that they get paid to do right now, like order tests, and send patients to the hospital. In Massachusetts, they’re stopping thanks to an agreement between Blue Cross Blue Shield and medical providers, says Harvard’s Michael Chernew.
“It looks like a meaningful reduction in spending, roughly upwards 10 percent of spending,” he says.
The state’s largest insurer effectively gives doctors a budget and a choice: go under and share some of the savings, or go over and face a penalty. Chernew’s work suggest this could be a national model.
The challenge is making sure those incentives don’t make docs stint on care, says primary care Dr. Tim Ferris.
“That could work to undermine the trust between a patient and a doctor. Is the doctor doing everything they can to help the patient,” he says.
Still Ferris, a payment reform cheerleader, says not only can change lower spending, it can also make care more convenient for patients.
The Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development report on residential construction for February is out Tuesday.
Economists expect a moderate decline in housing starts from January, and a slight uptick in housing permits. In January, housing starts were up 18.7 percent from the previous year; permits were up 8.1 percent year-over-year.
Economist Patrick Newport at IHS Global Insight says the housing sector – both homebuilding and existing-home sales – is growing by approximately 5 percent on an annual basis at this point. To contribute meaningfully to the economic recovery, he says the sector would have to grow by at least 20 percent annually.
Instead, he says, “the market for single-family construction has hardly improved at all in the last 18 months.” Multifamily housing is doing much better, with many young people moving to hip urban centers on the coasts — like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. — and choosing to rent or buy small apartments. Luxury home-building is also doing better than the market for single-family starter- and move-up homes; people in upper wealth brackets have experienced more recovery in their assets since the recession ended than lower- and middle-income Americans.
These developments mirror the struggle of many mid-market homebuilders, and their construction workforce. Construction payrolls peaked in March 2007 at 7.7 million; the crash left only 5.4 million construction workers employed by January 2011, a 30 percent decline. Now, construction employment in the U.S. has recovered to 6.3 million—still nearly 20 percent below the peak.
Employment, hours, and earnings in the construction sector, from the national Current Employment Statistics survey.Courtesy:Bureau of Labor Statistics
“The housing market started crashing about ten years ago, and we’re just barely a third of the way back, so we’re just improving at a snail’s pace,” says Newport.
The biggest challenge is demographic, says Daren Blomquist at RealtyTrac. “With the homeownership rate at historic lows, especially among the younger crowd, the first-time homebuyer is largely absent in this market,” he says.
The buying power and influence of women is fueling interest in Pinterest, the online photo-sharing site that's something of a digital scrapbook.
The company says it has raised $367 million in its latest round of funding, valuing Pinterest at $11 billion — more than double its previous valuation less than one year ago.
"Women still are some of the biggest spenders. They control a lot of the... family budget. In categories where they are not the buyer, they are also an influencer," says Carol Phillips, president of the marketing consultancy Brand Amplitude and professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame.
Pinterest has some important user stats. Women make up about 70 percent of its users. And, one-third of its users are in $100,000+ households, which is also important, says Don Stanley, who teaches digital marketing at the University of Wisconsin and is founder of 3Rhino Media.
"Pinterest is a mature network," Stanley says, "It has the deepest penetration in demographics that tend to have the higher socioeconomic statuses."
Last month, the Washington Post published a piece about a Republican congressman.
Aaron Schock, who's 33, had outfitted his Capitol Hill office with "a gold-colored wall sconce," a "crystal chandelier," and "massive arrangements of pheasant feathers."
All that was inspired by one of the congressman's favorite shows, "Downton Abbey."
That article raised some questions — namely, about how he paid for that redecoration, and Schock ultimately spent $40,000 to re-pay the government.
Well this morning, Politico reported Schock "billed the federal government and his campaign for logging roughly 170,000 miles on his personal car," but when he sold that car, it "had ... roughly 80,000 miles on the odometer."
This afternoon, Congressman Schock resigned.
And so, he'll have to give up something that was so important to Lord Grantham: His title.
ICANN, the organization that governs internet domain names, recently rolled out hundreds of new domain extensions. We still have ".com" and ".net," but they're joined by ".app" and ".baby," as well as foreign language extensions.
The domains that had multiple bids went to auction or arbitration, and Google broke records by paying $25 million for ".app". Johnson & Johnson paid $3 million for ".baby" and a Chinese corporation paid $600,000 for ".信息" which is Chinese for "information."
The most controversial new domain may be ".sucks" which will be administered by a company called Vox Populi. They won the rights to administer the extension in an auction — the exact price they paid is confidential.
Vox Populi says ".sucks" will serve as a place for consumers to publicly air grievances against companies, but the pricing scheme raised eyebrows by allowing trademarked corporations to purchase their ".sucks" domain names early for $2,500.
Answering pointed questions about new claims of misconduct by his agents, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy says he had a "good stern talk" with his staff about why he wasn't told about it sooner.
Like the famously curt broth ladler on Seinfeld, Addis Ababa's Chef Chane is known for serving up both delectable cuisine and insults. He says he learned his vaunted culinary skills in royal kitchens.