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NASA's new satellite attracts data hungry businesses

Thu, 2015-01-29 03:00

SMAP stands for Soil Moisture Active Passive – a reference to the sensors on board. The satellite will scan the Earth’s soil for moisture down to about 5cm of depth ... once it gets aloft. Thursday's launch was scrubbed because of poor wind conditions; NASA will try again on Friday.

Bradley Doorn, program manager of NASA’s Water Resources Applied Research Program, says the mission has several primary purposes: “One largely is drought, and understanding drought better but also things like flood forecasting and weather forecasting. The information is unprecedented.”

The $916 million, three year mission has attracted the interest of hundreds of government agencies, private sector companies, environmental groups, and universities — 45 so-called “early adopters” have already started working with NASA to prepare to use the satellite’s data. 

The City University of New York and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection want the data for management of the city’s drinking water supply. The World Food Program plans on using the data for flood forecasting. Doorn says John Deere, Environment Canada, and Willis Re, a reinsurance company, are also preparing to use the soil moisture data.

Doorn says it isn’t unusual for NASA to partner with other groups, but NASA has been trying to get organizations involved earlier on in the process. “Soil moisture is such a critical measurement that many users readily see as needed, so they immediately are drawn to it. There are a lot of people hungry for data, and hungry for this type of information,” he says.

SMAP scans the Earth’s surface with microwaves, which can slightly penetrate soil, and interprets the reflected waves for signs of moisture. The observatory also scans the Earth’s natural microwave emissions. 

And if you're curious about what SMAP will hear while it's out in the atmosphere, NASA's soundcloud account has you covered:

Post-bankruptcy Detroit's a bargain for corporations

Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

2014 was a big year for Detroit. It was the year the city emerged from bankruptcy, shed a crippling load of debt and saw a renewal of interest from outside investors.

Despite the positive buzz, 2015 will be another year of challenges for the motor city, as it seeks to continue creating jobs, while also slowly starting the process of rebuilding neighborhoods.

But, if you’re looking for proof that the “Detroit brand” still sells, take a look at Shinola. The epitome of hipster chic, the company makes thousand-dollar watches and high end leather goods.

Shinola moved to Detroit in 2013 with the idea of tapping into a kind of collective pining for America’s blue collar manufacturing past. Its big idea was that “Made in Detroit” would sell better than “Made in America,” and it was right.

"Often it is positioned that Shinola has done something wonderful for Detroit,” says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. “The reality of the situation is that Detroit has done a wonderful job of helping Shinola get off the ground; we are very, very happy with our decision to come here."

Shinola employs 350 people, with 260 actually based in Detroit. The company has plans to add 5 to 6 new stores in 2015. Following the resolution of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, many investors and corporations now see Detroit as a bargain.

Despite all the positive trends, Detroit’s unemployment rate still is still hovering around 14 percent—roughly twice the state average.

"There's no magic jobs fairy and so someone's got to be able to create jobs and to create jobs you need capital,” says Crain’s Detroit Business Editor Amy Haimerl. Unlike previous “Come to Jesus” moments for the city, this time she says Detroit can’t ignore the need for investment in small and medium-sized businesses.

"In the past, it was always about tax breaks and get the big company to come in from somewhere else,” she says. “That's wonderful, but we're also focusing on the other end of jobs creation which are neighborhood businesses, small businesses which may only hire 3 or 4 people at a time."

Job growth is one thing, but for many Detroiters the first step forward is as simple as streetlights — close to half of which haven’t worked in years. This has been a particular problem for restaurants and shops.

“So a lot of businesses had to cut down their hours, because after a certain time there was no business,” says Esteban Perez. Perez is manager of La Terezza Mexican restaurant in Southwest Detroit.

Detroit is now turning on some 500 new LED streetlights per week. And Perez says other, small but big things are happening, too. Trash is getting picked up, police response times are decreasing, and things he says, just seem better.

“You know we're all coming together as a city,” he says. “So right now, Detroit is the place to be, whether you want to open up a business, whether you want to buy a house."

In terms of housing, blight remains a huge challenge for Detroit. As many as 40,000 properties are slated for demolition. The city’s land bank is auctioning the few that remain salvageable, and it just announced a new program to sell vacant homes to city employees and retirees at half price.

How health insurance will factor into your tax return

Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

U.S. officials now say as many as six million households in America may have to pay a fine for failing to have health care coverage. Whether you do or don't is reported on your next tax return, and those who don't meet the rules for exceptions will have to pay $95 a person, or 1 percent of family income as a penalty.

Under the Obama Administration's Affordable Care Act, the principle is known as "shared responsibility." But how well has this insurance mandate worked?

Click the media player above to hear more.

Post bankruptcy, corporations see Detroit as a bargain

Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

2014 was a big year for Detroit. It was the year the city emerged from bankruptcy, shed a crippling load of debt and saw a renewal of interest from outside investors.

Despite the positive buzz, 2015 will be another year of challenges for the motor city, as it seeks to continue creating jobs, while also slowly starting the process of rebuilding neighborhoods.

But, if you’re looking for proof that the “Detroit brand” still sells, take a look at Shinola. The epitome of hipster chic, the company makes thousand-dollar watches and high end leather goods.

Shinola moved to Detroit in 2013 with the idea of tapping into a kind of collective pining for America’s blue collar manufacturing past. Its big idea was that “Made in Detroit” would sell better than “Made in America,” and it was right.

"Often it is positioned that Shinola has done something wonderful for Detroit,” says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. “The reality of the situation is that Detroit has done a wonderful job of helping Shinola get off the ground; we are very, very happy with our decision to come here."

Shinola employs 350 people, with 260 actually based in Detroit. The company has plans to add 5 to 6 new stores in 2015. Following the resolution of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, many investors and corporations now see Detroit as a bargain.

Despite all the positive trends, Detroit’s unemployment rate still is still hovering around 14 percent—roughly twice the state average.

"There's no magic jobs fairy and so someone's got to be able to create jobs and to create jobs you need capital,” says Crain’s Detroit Business Editor Amy Haimerl. Unlike previous “Come to Jesus” moments for the city, this time she says Detroit can’t ignore the need for investment in small and medium-sized businesses.

"In the past, it was always about tax breaks and get the big company to come in from somewhere else,” she says. “That's wonderful, but we're also focusing on the other end of jobs creation which are neighborhood businesses, small businesses which may only hire 3 or 4 people at a time."

Job growth is one thing, but for many Detroiters the first step forward is as simple as streetlights — close to half of which haven’t worked in years. This has been a particular problem for restaurants and shops.

“So a lot of businesses had to cut down their hours, because after a certain time there was no business,” says Esteban Perez. Perez is manager of La Terezza Mexican restaurant in Southwest Detroit.

Detroit is now turning on some 500 new LED streetlights per week. And Perez says other, small but big things are happening, too. Trash is getting picked up, police response times are decreasing, and things he says, just seem better.

“You know we're all coming together as a city,” he says. “So right now, Detroit is the place to be, whether you want to open up a business, whether you want to buy a house."

In terms of housing, blight remains a huge challenge for Detroit. As many as 40,000 properties are slated for demolition. The city’s land bank is auctioning the few that remain salvageable, and it just announced a new program to sell vacant homes to city employees and retirees at half price.

Why the internet is a luxury in Cuba

Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

After 50 years, the United States and Cuba announced in December that they plan to normalize relations. It’s too early to tell what this will mean exactly, but U.S. companies are eager to start doing business with Cuba—Especially telecom companies that see opportunities to build infrastructure in one of the least connected countries in the world.

Ted Henken, Chair of Baruch College’s Sociology and Anthropology Departments and co-author of Entrepreneurial Cuba: The Changing Policy Landscape, says expense is a huge factor in preventing Cubans from using the internet. One hour of internet service typically costs $5. That might not seem like much, but average monthly earnings in Cuba are just $20. Cuba also bans certain websites.

But none of this has stopped people from accessing the internet, says Henken. “There’s a saying in Cuba,” he adds. “Everything is prohibited but anything goes.”

The most common way people use the internet is through flash drives loaded with news and apps, which they buy every week to stay up to date. Henken says this method has “penetrated all parts of the island.”

The other options is “mesh networks," where people hook up a bunch of computers together in various neighborhoods. This allows people in the network to share information and play games

Henken sees a “broad based demand” for open access to the internet among Cubans. He says there is “a rising level of frustration, because Cubans ... they are connected to modern ideas but they can't share them easily with one another or get new ideas easily from outside the country.”

Amazon reports earnings amid frustrated investors

Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

Late Thursday, Amazon will report its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2014. The internet giant’s stock has taken a beating from investors frustrated with the company’s heavy spending and not-so-heavy profits.

This despite a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners that estimates Amazon's Prime service now has 40 million U.S. subscribers, many of them added during the holiday shopping season. 

Is it possible the company finished up the year on an upswing?

Click the media player above to hear more.

Detroit looking to build momentum in 2015

Thu, 2015-01-29 02:00

2014 was a big year for Detroit. It was the year the city emerged from bankruptcy, shed a crippling load of debt and saw a renewal of interest from outside investors.

Despite the positive buzz, 2015 will be another year of challenges for the motor city, as it seeks to continue creating jobs, while also slowly starting the process of rebuilding neighborhoods.

But, if you’re looking for proof that the “Detroit brand” still sells, take a look at Shinola. The epitome of hipster chic, the company makes thousand-dollar watches and high end leather goods.

Shinola moved to Detroit in 2013 with the idea of tapping into a kind of collective pining for America’s blue collar manufacturing past. Its big idea was that “Made in Detroit” would sell better than “Made in America,” and it was right.

"Often it is positioned that Shinola has done something wonderful for Detroit,” says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. “The reality of the situation is that Detroit has done a wonderful job of helping Shinola get off the ground; we are very, very happy with our decision to come here."

Shinola employs 350 people, with 260 actually based in Detroit. The company has plans to add 5 to 6 new stores in 2015. Following the resolution of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy, many investors and corporations now see Detroit as a bargain.

Despite all the positive trends, Detroit’s unemployment rate still is still hovering around 14 percent—roughly twice the state average.

"There's no magic jobs fairy and so someone's got to be able to create jobs and to create jobs you need capital,” says Crain’s Detroit Business Editor Amy Haimerl. Unlike previous “Come to Jesus” moments for the city, this time she says Detroit can’t ignore the need for investment in small and medium-sized businesses.

"In the past, it was always about tax breaks and get the big company to come in from somewhere else,” she says. “That's wonderful, but we're also focusing on the other end of jobs creation which are neighborhood businesses, small businesses which may only hire 3 or 4 people at a time."

Job growth is one thing, but for many Detroiters the first step forward is as simple as streetlights — close to half of which haven’t worked in years. This has been a particular problem for restaurants and shops.

“So a lot of businesses had to cut down their hours, because after a certain time there was no business,” says Esteban Perez. Perez is manager of La Terezza Mexican restaurant in Southwest Detroit.

Detroit is now turning on some 500 new LED streetlights per week. And Perez says other, small but big things are happening, too. Trash is getting picked up, police response times are decreasing, and things he says, just seem better.

“You know we're all coming together as a city,” he says. “So right now, Detroit is the place to be, whether you want to open up a business, whether you want to buy a house."

In terms of housing, blight remains a huge challenge for Detroit. As many as 40,000 properties are slated for demolition. The city’s land bank is auctioning the few that remain salvageable, and it just announced a new program to sell vacant homes to city employees and retirees at half price.

Flights of fancy: There's big money in drones

Thu, 2015-01-29 01:30
12 percent

How much Royal Dutch Shell reported its earnings rose in the fourth quarter, as reported by the New York Times. But as oil prices continue to plunge, some have questioned if big oil companies would pull back on exploration projects planned in the next year or so — a suspicion confirmed by chief executive Ben van Beurden, who said the company would defer some projects and cancel others. 

$9

How much ad revenue Facebook made per user in the U.S. and Canada last quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported. Revenue is up 49 percent, thanks to the company's incredible growth in mobile advertising. More than a third of users now experience Facebook solely on mobile. But it's not all good news for investors: Facebook's expenses have grown 87 percent, cutting deeply into profits.

260 workers

How many workers hipster-chic company Shinola — maker of thousand-dollar watches and leather goods — employs in Detroit. The company moved to the city in 2013 as part of a bet that "Made in Detroit" would sell better than "Made in America." So far, so good, says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. And now that Detroit's bankruptcy is settled, other businesses are seeing the Motor City as a bargain.

$16.6 million

How much eBay made selling drones over the past 10 months, Forbes reported. Sales spiked over the holidays, with the retailer moving an average of 7,600 recreational drones per week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, five times the average sales over the summer.

$80

The most start-up Plowz and Mowz will charge to clear a driveway this winter. The company expected to process 2,000 plowing jobs in Boston following this week's blizzard. Bloomberg profiled so-called "Uber for snowplows" companies, which are capitalizing on the nor'easter and trying to modernize the lucrative private plowing business.

487 bytes

The size of the world's smallest chess computer program. As reported by the BBC, the program takes up about as much space as a couple imageless tweets.

You get a drone! You get a drone! Everyone gets drones!

Thu, 2015-01-29 01:30
12 percent

That's how much Royal Dutch Shell reported its earnings rose in the fourth quarter, as reported by the New York Times. But as oil prices continue to plunge, some have questioned if big oil companies would pull back on exploration projects planned in the next year or so — a suspicion confirmed by chief executive Ben van Beurden, who said the company would defer some projects and cancel others. 

$9

That's how much ad revenue Facebook made per user in the U.S. and Canada last quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported. Revenue is up 49 percent, thanks to the company's incredible growth in mobile advertising. These days more than a third of users experience Facebook solely on mobile. But it's not all good news for investors: Facebook's expenses have grown 87 percent, cutting deeply into profits.

260 workers

That's how many workers hipster-chic company Shinola—maker of thousand-dollar watches and leather goods—employs in Detroit. The company moved to the city in 2013 as part of a bet that "Made in Detroit" would sell better than "Made in America." So far, so good, says Shinola CEO Steve Bock. And now that Detroit's bankruptcy is settled, other businesses are seeing the Motor City as a bargain.

$16.6 million

That's how much eBay made selling drones in the past ten months, Forbes reported. Sales spiked over the holidays, with the retailer moving an average of 7,600 recreational drones per week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, five times average sales over the summer.

$80

The most start-up Plowz and Mowz will charge to clear a driveway this winter. The company expected to process 2,000 plowing jobs in Boston following this week's blizzard. Bloomberg profiled so-called "Uber for snowplows" companies, which are capitalizing on the nor'easter and trying to modernize the lucrative private plowing business.

487 bytes

That's the size of the world's smallest chess computer program. As reported by the BBC, the program takes up about as much space as a couple image-less tweets.

Big Oil's first cut: exploration

Thu, 2015-01-29 01:30

Shell reports earnings on Thursday, the first of the Big Oil financial snapshots. And like the other companies, a big question is how plunging oil prices will affect exploration.

Projects a year or two off are the ones companies are likely to dial back in response to low oil prices. Dominic Haywood, an analyst at Energy Aspects in London, says that could mean postponing or canceling pricier oil discovery projects, like the Arctic, which holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, according to Shell. Drilling there is also controversial, says Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service.

“One of the casualties of the lower price environment will be some of those projects that are in places that are gonna be provoking some sort of public outrage,” he says. Kloza also says until prices go up, Big Oil will probably stick to what’s safer and cheaper.

A move to simplify the FAFSA

Wed, 2015-01-28 13:42

A huge chart outside of Terri Williams’ office at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy tracks where all 90 seniors at the Baltimore high school are in the college application process. “Have they gone on any college tours, how many applications have they done, have they completed their FAFSA?” says Williams, a college access specialist with the CollegeBound Foundation.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used by the federal government, states and colleges to figure out who gets aid, and how much. Most of Williams’ students don’t have a shot at affording college without help, so she sends out letters and text messages – even intercepts students on their way to the bathroom – to make sure they complete the form on time.

The FAFSA goes live each year on Jan.1 and is due March 1 in most states. “I don’t care where they are,” she says. “I’m going to stop you so we can get it taken care of.”

Taking care of it means answering up to 108 questions. Questions like: Have you had a drug conviction? How much do your parents make? Is either a “dislocated worker?”

For many students, just tracking down some of that information can be a challenge. “They feel like ‘This is too much, I can't do it, and I’m not going to get anything anyway,’” Williams says. In reality, most of her students would be eligible for the maximum Pell grant, which is $5,730 this year. Because more than 1 million high school seniors don't bother to fill out the FAFSA each year, they fail to claim millions of dollars in financial aid.

The government is trying to make things easier. The Obama Administration proposed eliminating 27 questions. A bipartisan bill in Congress would replace the FAFSA with a postcard asking just two questions about household size and income. For most families, those two questions tell the government everything it needs to know, says Carrie Warick of the National College Access Network. “Most of those additional questions are really targeted at families with much more complicated financial situations,” Warick says, like wealthier families with assets and investments.

 The FAFSA does have some defenders. The vast majority of students now fill it out online, says Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “Skip logic” technology lets them bypass questions that don’t apply. “The average student today can complete the entire FAFSA, start to finish, in 20 minutes,” Draeger says.

But that doesn’t count the time it may take to dig up and sort through tax files and bank records. Draeger is all for getting rid of questions that don’t have anything to do with a student’s financial need, like the one about drug convictions.

Still, Draeger says, colleges rank students according to their relative need when they distribute their own grants and scholarships, and they need a lot of details to do that fairly. “If we make the application too simple, that ultimately means that more colleges will introduce their own applications,” Draeger says. “The net result for students is nothing. Nothing’s changed.”

There is one change pretty much everyone agrees on: The current FAFSA asks for data from the most recent tax year, but if you’re applying for aid right now, that would be 2014. Most people haven’t filed their taxes yet. 

If families could use their returns from one year earlier, they could import their tax information directly from the IRS, says Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. They could also apply for aid earlier. “If you can file the FAFSA more easily and earlier, you’re much more likely to benefit from all the available aid that can help you pay for college and get to graduation,” she says.

In many states, grant money is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis — until it’s gone. A recent report from Edvisors, a publisher of student aid information, says students who file their FAFSA in the first three months of the year get more than twice as much grant aid, on average, as those who wait longer.

A move to simplify the dreaded FAFSA

Wed, 2015-01-28 13:42

A huge chart outside of Terri Williams’ office at Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy tracks where all 90 seniors at the Baltimore high school are in the college application process. “Have they gone on any college tours, how many applications have they done, have they completed their FAFSA?” says Williams, a college access specialist with the CollegeBound Foundation.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is used by the federal government, states and colleges to figure out who gets aid, and how much. Most of Williams’ students don’t have a shot at affording college without help, so she sends out letters and text messages – even intercepts students on their way to the bathroom – to make sure they complete the form on time.

The FAFSA goes live each year on Jan.1 and is due March 1 in most states. “I don’t care where they are,” she says. “I’m going to stop you so we can get it taken care of.”

Taking care of it means answering up to 108 questions. Questions like: Have you had a drug conviction? How much do your parents make? Is either a “dislocated worker?”

For many students, just tracking down some of that information can be a challenge. “They feel like ‘This is too much, I can't do it, and I’m not going to get anything anyway,’” Williams says. In reality, most of her students would be eligible for the maximum Pell grant, which is $5,730 this year. Because more than 1 million high school seniors don't bother to fill out the FAFSA each year, they fail to claim millions of dollars in financial aid.

The government is trying to make things easier. The Obama Administration proposed eliminating 27 questions. A bipartisan bill in Congress would replace the FAFSA with a postcard asking just two questions about household size and income. For most families, those two questions tell the government everything it needs to know, says Carrie Warick of the National College Access Network. “Most of those additional questions are really targeted at families with much more complicated financial situations,” Warick says, like wealthier families with assets and investments.

 The FAFSA does have some defenders. The vast majority of students now fill it out online, says Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “Skip logic” technology lets them bypass questions that don’t apply. “The average student today can complete the entire FAFSA, start to finish, in 20 minutes,” Draeger says.

But that doesn’t count the time it may take to dig up and sort through tax files and bank records. Draeger is all for getting rid of questions that don’t have anything to do with a student’s financial need, like the one about drug convictions.

Still, Draeger says, colleges rank students according to their relative need when they distribute their own grants and scholarships, and they need a lot of details to do that fairly. “If we make the application too simple, that ultimately means that more colleges will introduce their own applications,” Draeger says. “The net result for students is nothing. Nothing’s changed.”

There is one change pretty much everyone agrees on: The current FAFSA asks for data from the most recent tax year, but if you’re applying for aid right now, that would be 2014. Most people haven’t filed their taxes yet. 

If families could use their returns from one year earlier, they could import their tax information directly from the IRS, says Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. They could also apply for aid earlier. “If you can file the FAFSA more easily and earlier, you’re much more likely to benefit from all the available aid that can help you pay for college and get to graduation,” she says.

In many states, grant money is handed out on a first-come, first-served basis — until it’s gone. A recent report from Edvisors, a publisher of student aid information, says students who file their FAFSA in the first three months of the year get more than twice as much grant aid, on average, as those who wait longer.

Taylor Swift, trademark diva

Wed, 2015-01-28 13:32

Taylor Swift is the very model of a shrewd entrepreneur.

She has secured trademarks for a whole mess of lyrics from her most recent zillion-selling album, "1989," including "Party Like It's 1989," "This Sick Beat," and "Nice to Meet You. Where You Been?"

She owns them for "public appearances," "clothing" and "ornaments" among other goods and services, according to the trademark.

As the website Vox points out, singers make an increasing slice of their income not from actual singing, but from all of the related stuff. 

 

When oil prices fall, Big Oil has an advantage

Wed, 2015-01-28 11:11

It's not that big oil companies love low oil prices, but a part of them doesn't mind. Companies like Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Chevron — which report earnings over the next few days — aren't just producers selling crude oil. They're also refiners, buying crude and selling gasoline. When crude prices drop, that's good for the refinery side of the business. 

The big producers have another big advantage: long-term planning. "They're always looking at least 10 to 20 years down the road, so they're not a quarter-to-quarter type company," says James Sweeney, a Stanford University professor who studies energy policy.

On the other hand, thousands of smaller producers borrowed money to finance their drilling. Low oil prices are likely putting some of them "in bankruptcy mode," says David Bellman of All Energy Consulting.

How to shop for a hospital

Wed, 2015-01-28 10:12

More than 70 percent of hospitals will pay fines this year for such infractions as having too many hospital-acquired infections, too many patient re-admissions – or high mortality rates.

While many companies are jumping into the hospital ratings business, consumers are still looking for a reliable way to shop for hospitals. Here are several sources consumers can consider.

To check out hospital safety:

Hospitalsafetyscore.org

Hospital compare

Health Grades

Leapfrog

To make price comparisons (more sources should be available through your health plan):

Fair Health

Health Care Blue Book

'We Are the World' turns 30

Wed, 2015-01-28 09:19

Jan. 28, 2015, marks the 30th anniversary of the recording of "We Are the World," a fundraising single that raised tens of millions for African relief and helped usher in an era of all-star recordings and concerts that benefit charity.

The musicians performed as USA for Africa, recording a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Famous names in the studio session included Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, Tina Turner, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. The project was promoted by producer Quincy Jones, singer Harry Belafonte and fundraiser Ken Kragen.

"We Are the World" was inspired by "Do They Know It's Christmas?" – a 1984 recording to benefit charity by another supergroup, Band Aid. That project was driven by Bob Geldof, the Irish singer-songwriter and activist. The "We are the World" single, released March 7, 1985, and related Live Aid concerts that followed in July of the same year helped spur other releases and concerts over the next several decades that benefited charity.

Many consider the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, headlined by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to be the first modern benefit concert.

"We Are the World" was a hit – both as a single and as a fundraising device. It is reportedly one of fewer than 30 singles that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. The song, and associated merchandise, eventually raised more than $60 million for African aid, initially aimed at victims of a devastating famine on the continent in the mid-1980s.

Other music-based charity fundraisers that followed this early effort include Farm Aid (1985), "America: A Tribute to Heroes" (2001), Live 8 (2005), Live Earth (2007), "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" (2010) and the Concert for Sandy Relief (2012).

How long can Apple depend on iPhone sales?

Wed, 2015-01-28 09:07

Apple had a very good quarter — make that a great quarter. The company announced it made $18 billion in profit for the first quarter of its fiscal year, ending in December. Much of that profit was thanks to the popularity of the iPhone, especially in China, where iPhone sales doubled year over year.

But does that strength belie a potential weakness?

“The iPhone 6 was a great success, but how long can it last and what’s going to be the follow up?” asks Michael Obuchowski, an Apple shareholder and the portfolio manager of Concert Wealth Management. Even though earnings this quarter were strong, Obuchowski says it worries him that 70 percent of revenues were driven by a single product line: iPhones.

Companies that generate most of their sales from one product can be risky, says J.P. Eggers, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business. But he thinks Apple’s narrow focus is a source of strength for the company, as it can improve innovation and result in better, higher quality products.

Ramon Llamas, research manager for  IDC’s wearable and mobile phones programs, cautions betting against Apple, noting the company's long history of success in product development. 

Inside the migration of the Maytag factory

Wed, 2015-01-28 08:20

In 2002, people in the town of Galesburg, Illinois, found out they would lose their massive Maytag factory. Employees who had worked at the plant for decades were suddenly jobless. When the plant closed, it was such a shock to the town that, in 2004, then-senatorial candidate Barack Obama mentioned it in an address at the Democratic National Convention.  

Author Chad Broughton's new book "Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities" takes a personal look at what happened when Maytag left Galesburg and reopened in Reynosa, Mexico.

"I played basketball with the manager at the Maytag factory ... everybody in town it seemed was connected to that factory," Broughton says.

Plant workers who had worked in the factory for decades were out of a job, left to find work outside of the only industry they knew. Many Galesburg residents were angered by Maytag's decision to leave town.

"They were very nationalistic, very patriotic," Broughton says. "They thought that this was a profoundly unpatriotic thing to do ... by this very American company, by this quintessentially American company, Maytag."

When Maytag relocated to Reynosa, Mexico, the company went from paying American workers $15.14 an hour, to paying Mexican workers $1.10 an hour - workers like Laura Flora, who found herself with few employment options.

"She ended up kind of stuck there," Broughton says. "So she had to do what she had to do, which was work in these abundant low-skilled jobs, in the maquiladoras," the assembly plants in Mexico.

But the factory Flora worked in wouldn't last either. When Whirlpool bought Maytag, they moved the factory yet again, farther south, Broughton says.

In doing his research, Broughton says he's taken several walks through the now-decaying Maytag factory in Galesburg.

"It's so big still, even though only one third of it still stands," Broughton says. "When it was still entirely there, it took more than a mile to walk from one end to the other...."

The dilapidated plant, Broughton say, "feels hollow now."

Read an excerpt from the book here:

Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities

Inside the migration of the Maytag factory

Wed, 2015-01-28 08:20
In 2002, the town of Galesburg, Illinois, lost its massive Maytag factory. Employees who had worked at the plant for decades were suddenly jobless. When the plant closed, it was such a shock to the town that, in 2004, then-senatorial candidate Barack Obama mentioned it in an address at the Democratic National Convention.  

Author Chad Broughton's new book "Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities" takes a personal look at what happened when Maytag left Galesburg and reopened in Reynosa, Mexico.

"I played basketball with the manager at the Maytag factory ... everybody in town it seemed was connected to that factory," Broughton says.

Plant workers who had worked in the factory for decades were out of a job, left to find work outside of the only industry they knew. Many Galesburg residents were angered by Maytag's decision to leave town.

"They were very nationalistic, very patriotic," Broughton says. "They thought that this was a profoundly unpatriotic thing to do ... by this very American company, by this quintessentially American company, Maytag."

When Maytag relocated to Reynosa, Mexico, the company went from paying American workers $15.14 an hour, to paying Mexican workers $1.10 an hour - workers like Laura Flora, who found herself stranded in Mexico. 

"She ended up kind of stuck there," Broughton says. "So she had to do what she had to do, which was work in these abundant low-skilled jobs, in the maquiladoras," the assembly plants in Mexico.

But the factory Flora worked in wouldn't last either. When Whirlpool bought Maytag, they moved the factory yet again, farther south, Broughton says.

In doing his research, Broughton says he's taken several walks through the now-decaying Maytag factory in Galesburg.

"It's so big still, even though only one third of it still stands," Broughton says. "When it was still entirely there, it took more than a mile to walk from one end to the other...."

The dilapidated plant, Broughton say, "feels hollow now."

Read an excerpt from the book here:

Boom, Bust, Exodus: The Rust Belt, the Maquilas, and a Tale of Two Cities

Quiz: Universities take a pass on sexual-assault survey

Wed, 2015-01-28 07:30

More than half the members in The Association of American Universities will not participate in its national survey on campus sexual assault.

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