National / International News
NK-33 engines, originally destined for a Soviet-era moon shot that never got off the ground and later used in the Antares, are suspect, some scientists say.
The Fed has been buying up bonds by the trillions since the financial crisis started in 2008. Today, it affirmed that it was going ahead with plans to end its third round of stimulus.
If you live in a swing state, chances are you’ve seen a political ad or two in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections. And there’s also a pretty good chance that ad talked about the economy.
Which brings us to this question: if those ads were your only source of information, what would you think about the state of the economy? What kind of picture are the ads painting? It’s not always what you’d expect.
Check out these two ads, for gubernatorial races.
In his ad, the Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, says we’re on the road to recovery.
And the Democratic candidate for governor of Wisconsin, Mary Burke, talks about bleak job prospects and layoffs.
“We would expect Democratic candidates to trumpet the success of the economy and for Republicans to be on the attack," says Vincent Hutchings, political science professor at the University of Michigan. "But at the state level, especially if we’re talking about gubernatorial contests, that logic gets turned on its head.”
Hutchings says incumbents, whatever their political stripe, have to defend their handling of the local economy.
Challengers blame economic problems on the incumbent.
But in national, congressional races, political ads focusing on the economy are more predictable.
“It’s all doom and gloom,” says Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project.
Listen to ads from Republican congressional candidates, she says, and you think the economy will never pick up.
“So, a lot of ads will make references to the squeeze on the middle class in particular," she explains. "I’ve seen ads on recent college graduates and frustration over spending a lot of money on a college education and not being able to find a job.”
Franklin Fowler says, for congressional Democrats, it’s morning in America.
Or it would be if it weren’t for the Republicans.
“Democrats will often go after Republican incumbents and/or wealthy challengers who own businesses for shipping jobs overseas or for job losses,” she says.
In fact, Franklin Fowler says, about 20 percent of ads for all Senate candidates mention jobs, with very different takes on the jobs picture.
I wondered – who’s right?
I turned to Richard DeKaser. A corporate economist at Wells Fargo.
“I’d give the economy a B-minus,” he says.
DeKaser says we’re creating about 250,000 jobs a month, and GDP is growing at about three percent. That’s pretty good.
But it’s an uneven recovery. Not everyone is benefiting.
So politicians can cherry pick economic data, to make a point.
“You can pick and choose from the data and tell pretty much any story you’d like," DeKaser says. "And more often than not, that’s the case. It’s just a matter of biased presentation rather than dishonest presentation. Though there is some dishonesty as well.”
And when the economic picture is a bit ambiguous like it is now, it’s that much easier to manipulate.
The Red Cross claimed to deliver 17 million meals and stacks, 74,000 shelter stays and 7 million blankets and flashlights to victims of Hurricane Sandy. But a joint investigation from ProPublica and NPR not only casts doubt on the organization's own tracking, but shows a pattern of prioritizing public relations over aid after hurricanes Sandy and Issac.
The investigation found the Red Cross was unprepared for the disasters and botched the delivery of meals, supplies and other aid. Response was slow and meals were wasted, and in one case an official reportedly ordered volunteers to drive around empty trucks to give the appearance of relief.
In other news: More earnings are on the way today and there will be an official announcement from the Fed on quantitative easing. For now, here's what we're reading - and the numbers we're watching - Wednesday.$1.7 trillion
That's what the Fed has spent on bonds in just the third round of quantitative easing, or QE3. That's according to the New York Time's Upshot, which has seven charts laying out the program's history and future.74,829
As of Wednesday morning, that's how many people follow SugarString on Twitter. The site posits itself as a slick tech/lifestyle news site "presented" by Verizon, but the Daily Dot reported that corporate "presenters" have handed down a big restriction: no writing about domestic surveillance or net neutrality, two topics Verizon is very involved in.4
The number of meals in a day, according to Taco Bell. The restaurant is the first fast-food joint to offer nationwide mobile ordering via a new app launched today. Taco Bell made the announcement through a bit of social media jujitsu, the Verge reported, seemingly erasing its popular Twitter account to push users toward the app. In reality, the restaurant's tweets and 1.4 million followers are hiding the protected account @totallynothere.