U2 rocker and international aid activist Bono got some praise and some laughs this week when he mimicked the former president (they're friends). Clinton got a chance to respond in kind on CNN. Check out their performances.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says, come October 17, he’ll only have about $30 billion in cash on hand. It may sounds like a lot, but the government writes 80 million checks a month, and it can pay out $60 billion in just one day. If Congress doesn't raise the nation's cap on debt before then, the government won't be able to borrow money to pay bills.
Analysts say the government has a couple of options if that happens.
Pay the bills as they come, but pay them late. Say the government owes $40 billion on a Monday but doesn’t have the money until Tuesday, says Steve Bell of the Bipartisan Policy Center. What happens? “They will then pay all of Monday’s debts," Bell says. "And then they’ll start accumulating more cash, so at some point that week they can pay Tuesday’s debts.” Of course, you can only do that so long before you get really behind on your bills.
The U.S. could prioritize its payments. Maybe the government would make Social Security and defense payments first. But Treasury isn’t sure it has the authority to do that, because the constitution gives Congress the power of the purse. “Congress decides what programs are funded and what benefits are funded and at what levels," says Nancy Vanden Houten, an analyst at Stone McCarthy Research Associates.
There’s another idea out there, and the Treasury Department might find it quite appealing. Ignore Congress. Ignore the debt ceiling. Borrow anyway. Economist Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls it a "very real possibility," because the constitution also says the government has to pay its debts.
Twitter will partner with the NFL in an advertising partnership, the social media site announced on Wednesday. It's the latest in a series of agreements that Twitter has struck with television networks and big league sports. Analysts say it's evidence of Twitter trying to cash in on the "second screen" effect -- or people tweeting, and hanging out on Twitter, while they watch TV.
In recent months, as part of its Amplify service, which runs video clips with ads in them, Twitter has partnered with CBS, Viacom, amd ESPN, to name a few. During this year's NBA playoffs, the NBA tweeted short videos of game highlights that included ads from companies like Taco Bell and Sony.
"Sports -- and particularly football -- [are] always a high-quality, high-demand advertising opportunity, said Jim Nail, an analyst with Forrester Research.
Nail said that while the deal wasn't hatched overnight, the timing -- coming on the heels of Twitter's announcement that it plans to go public -- won't hurt the company.
"Having a big partnership announced like this as they move into that pre-IPO period has got to help their offering," Nail said.
Brian Weiser, an analyst with Pivotal Research stressed that Twitter is still a relatively small company.
"Let's keep our sense of scale in check," Weiser said. "Google can generate $50 billion in [advertising] revenue, Facebook can do $5 billion. Twitter is closer to $500 million."
This final note today, in which Bill Gates finally comes clean about something his company has forced millions of people to do countless times a day.
He did a talk last week at Harvard in which he was asked this question: "Why, when I want to turn on my software and computer, do I need to have three fingers -- CTRL-ALT-DEL? Where is that from? Whose idea was that?"
Gates got technical for a minute, something about accessing the base level of the software, and then he 'fessed up.
"We could have had a single button, but the guy who did the IBM keyboard design didn't wanna give us our single button. It was a mistake."
This week is Banned Books Week -- an annual event sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the PEN Center and several other groups -- to draw attention to literature that has been banned.
"There's no such thing as bad publicity," says R. Wolf Baldassaro, who writes the Banned Books Awareness blog. "As soon as you say 'you can't do something,' it makes people want to do it more."
Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, says there's a flip side. Finan says challenges to books are often confined to a school district or local library. Those challenges can cause intense pressure for authors, without translating into a notable uptick in book sales.
"A challenge is an awful lot of trouble to an author," Finan said. "They've got to fight. They've got to organize. They've got to try and overturn the decision if a book has been banned."
And Finan said whether or not there is a benefit often hinges on how high-profile an author is at the time of the challenge.
"A lot of these authors who are challenged are not famous," Finan said. "Wealthy authors who sell a lot of books can hire publicists and attorneys to defend them, but your average mid-list author can't. They've got to take these battles on personally."
Here is a list of books that have faced challenges in recent years:
- "And Tango Makes Three (2005)," a children's picture book about Roy and Silo, two male penguins raising an orphaned chick in New York's Central Park Zoo, was number 5 on the American Library Association's list: "Top Ten Challenged Books of 2012." Tango has appeared on the list of challenged books almost every year since its release. In 2009, the book shot up Amazon's bestseller charts, after repeated attempts to ban it raised the book's profile. The top complaints against the book, according to the ALA are, "homosexuality" and "unsuited for age group."
- John Green's young adult novel "Looking for Alaska," (2012) about a teenage boy who experiences profound life changes after starting boarding school, is number 7 on the ALA's list of Top Ten Challenged books of 2012. Challenges include that the book uses "offensive language," has "sexually explicit" scenes, and is "unsuited for age group." The controversy doesn't seem to have hurt Green's sales at all. Three of his books, including "Looking for Alaska", are currently among the top ten on the New York Times' Young Adult bestseller list.
- Last week, the Randolph County Board of Education in North Carolina, voted 5-2 to ban Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" (1952) after the mother of an 11th-grader complained the novel was "too much for teenagers." Kimiyutta Parson's full complaint can be found here. Then, on Tuesday, the school board announced it would reconsider the ban at a meeting later this week. The controversy doesn't seem to have resulted in a spike to the book's sales, but the novel's publisher, Vintage Books, has agreed to donate free copies of "Invisible Man" to Randolph County students. The book is ranked 9,612 on Amazon's seller list.
- Perhaps most notable is the number of blockbuster novels that have faced challenges in the past few years, including "Fifty Shades of Grey," by E.L. James, Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner," The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight."
- Finally, because this is Marketplace, we were interested to see that a book about money -- or the lack of it -- recently joined the challenged books club. Barbara Ehrenreich's bestseller "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America," (2001) was challenged (but retained) on the AP English reading list at Easton Area High School in Pennsylvania. Books Challenged or Banned 2012 - 2013, reports that residents called the book "faddish," "obscene," and of "no moral value."
Both reports add to evidence that the U.S. economy continues to chug along. It's estimated that gross domestic product rose at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter. Meanwhile, claims for unemployment insurance remain near a six-year low.