On Tuesday, after months of denying it was interested in participating in formal talks to end the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban indicated it would consider opening a political office in Qatar. A political office would give mediators from the U.S. a legitimate contact for Taliban members. No details have been given about when these negotiations would begin, or what would be bargained for. This step also implies that there will continue to be some kind of Taliban presence inside Afghanistan.
A 2011 University of Michigan study of more than a thousand middle school students found that those who regularly ate school lunches were 29 percent more likely to be obese than those who brought lunch from home. Of course, what a child eats for lunch is just one of many factors that determines whether he or she becomes overweight or obese. But many schools' dependence upon revenue from vending machines and brand-name fast-food over the past decade may be a tipping point.
As evidenced by the Congressional debt panel's failure, MF Global's $600 million missing investor funds, and lagging employment numbers, the U.S. has a long way to go in terms of solving the economic problems that created the 2008 financial crisis. And there are plenty of potential pitfalls abroad — China's inflation rate is at 10 percent, and the euro zone's ongoing debt crisis. Yet, there are bright spots with many manufacturing, energy, and tech sector jobs growing.
There are over 300 registered superheroes in the United States. Coming from all walks of life, they patrol the streets, stop crimes, and do community outreach in homemade costumes. While each real life superhero has a different reason for taking up the cause, the one thing that's certain about this eccentric bunch of concerned citizens is that their ranks are growing: The New York Initiative, a New York City-based collective of superheroes, has gone from four members to 12 in 2011.
What do Sony Pictures, A&W Restaurants, Saab, American Apparel, Sears, Kellogg's Corn Pops, MySpace, Soap Opera Digest, and Nokia have in common? They’re ten brands that 24/7 Wall St, a Delaware-based financial news group, says won’t survive through 2012. And it looks like some of those predictions might already be coming true — on Tuesday, Sears announced it will close more than 100 stores after lackluster holiday sales.
Stephen Glass is now a 39-year-old law clerk at a firm in Beverly Hills, California. But more than decade ago, he was a young reporter on the rise. Glass's career in journalism came to an abrupt halt after it was discovered that over 40 of his articles — written for The New Republic, Harpers, Rolling Stone and other well-regarded magazines — were largely fabricated. Glass made up quotes, invented sources, and backed up his work with elaborate fake notes, fake websites, phony email addresses, phone numbers, and voicemail messages.
Local governments across the country are only now starting to feel the worst effects of the now five-year-old housing crisis. As property assessments finally start to reflect falling home values, local tax revenues will take a hit. However, many experts agree that this is only the beginning for these burgeoning deficits, as home values will continue to decline into 2012 and 2013. Where local governments can make up this difference remains unclear.
This week North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il died, a Pentagon investigation into airstrikes that killed 26 Pakistani soldiers heightened tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan, Countrywide was ordered to pay $355 million for discriminating against black and Latino borrowers, and a terrorism scandal in Iraq's second-highest office broke.
Sitting on Santa Claus's lap can be be an especially daunting proposition for children who are among the 1.5 million Americans with autism spectrum disorders. However, for many parents, there may be hope this Christmas. The Ohio-based Glimcher Realty Trust — which owns 2 dozen malls nationwide — has recently started working with autism groups to offer "sensitive Santa" sessions at its malls.
Out of the dust and debris of Herman Cain's campaign and Newt Gingrich's string of media gaffes, a new contender for the Republican presidential nomination is emerging. Polls show libertarian-leaning Texas congressman Ron Paul taking the lead in the Iowa caucus. He's also expected to have a strong finish in New Hampshire.
Here's some uplifting news for the holiday season. A new study finds that in 2011 Americans were the most generous people in the world. The U.S. rose from fifth place on the "World Giving Index" in 2010 to number one this year. Ireland placed second, followed by Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. What tipped the scale in the U.S.'s favor this year was not just monetary donations, but volunteer work and kindness to strangers.
A series of recent filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission bring new charges against executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The SEC claims executives misled investors about Fannie and Freddie's exposure to subprime mortgages in the two years leading up to the housing market collapse. It is unusual to hear a defense of the mortgage giants — conventional wisdom holds that their risky loans were at the heart of the financial crisis from the beginning. But writing in his New York Times op-ed column, Joe Nocera argues that the SEC's latest complaint shows "how desperate the SEC has become to bring a crowd-pleasing case."
A day after the announcement of the death of dictator Kim Jong-il, around the world, all eyes are on North Korea. More specifically, the world is closely watching the deceased leader's heir apparent, his youngest son Kim Jong-un. Last year, Kim Jong-un was named a 4-star general and vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. After a period of mourning, he's expected to take full power of North Korea.
In Fort Meade, Maryland, a pre-trial investigation to determine whether or not to court-martial Private Bradley Manning is underway. Manning is accused of passing confidential U.S. military documents onto WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In theory, the Article 32 hearing could give Manning's lawyers the chance to bring up a broad host of issues connected to the case — about military secrecy, for example, and about the personal difficulties Manning, who is gay, struggled with in the Army. However, over the weekend, Army investigators put strict limits on what witnesses Manning can call in his own defense.
The death of Kim Jong-il and the future of both North and South Korea will dominate the headlines this week. Also, Republicans and Democrats are about to have another showdown over a deal to extend payroll tax cuts. Charlie Herman, business and economics editor for The Takeaway and WNYC, and Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich discuss the major stories for the week ahead.
A $16 million house on London's "Millionaire Row" could be the first Gadhafi family asset in the UK to be returned to the Libyan government. The luxury property with more than a half-dozen bedrooms and an indoor swimming pool is currently occupied by a group of squatters from an organization called Topple the Tyrants, but attorneys have discovered that it is actually belongs to Saadi Gadhafi, a son of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
According to recent Census data, the Latino community has seen huge growth in the U.S. They're becoming a group that politicians are increasingly trying to win over. A large part of that process is just about getting Latino voters to polls. But once they're at the ballot box, what are Latino voters looking for in a candidate?
Some new numbers about the No Child Left Behind Act paint a bleak portrait of the country's education system. According to a report from the Center on Education Policy, 48 percent of the nation’s public schools did not meet No Child Left Behind's requirements for "adequate yearly progress," a percentage-based criteria for improvement set by individual states. However, students's performance on the national standardized test are not considered in AYP.
The Takeaway has been talking this week about the controversy that has erupted around the TLC reality show "All-American Muslim" after the home improvement store Lowe's pulled its ads from the broadcast. The move came after a group called the Florida Family Association launched a campaign against the show, urging companies to pull their ads. Reaction to the Florida Family Association and Lowe's has raised the profile of the cable show, as well as the community of Dearborn, Michigan where it is filmed.