In May, the web site theoatmeal.com published a cartoon reviewing the Tesla Model S. In the second half of the review, the cartoonist, Matthew Inman, pointed out that while Tesla Motors was perfectly free to use inventor Nikola Tesla’s name without any family connection, it might be nice to show the company’s respect for Tesla the man by donating to an effort to build a Tesla museum in Shoreham, N.Y., at the site of Nikola Tesla’s laboratory. At the time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk had already contributed $2500 to the successful Indiegogo campaign to buy the property. Inman asked for more—$8 million more—to build a museum on the property. Musk quickly tweeted, “I would be happy to help.”
Alex White could have predicted it. Actually, he did. White, 28, is the co-founder of a company called Next Big Sound (“Making data useful”), which, as its name and slogan imply, uses computer algorithms to determine which musical acts are about to take off.
“We are making these predictions and drawing a line in the sand…It is sort of a mix of art and science.”
Launched in 2009, and widely consulted by the mainstream music industry, the company crunches consumption data from social media and music-streaming sites, tracks buzz on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and YouTube, and collects private sales figures from clients and partners to inform its predictions. Its engineers and analysts—some of whom hail from data positions at Microsoft, the New York Yankees (think Moneyball), and the Department of Defense—compile everything into a ranking system.
The company’s Social 50 chart lists the internet’s most talked-about acts—the Beyoncé’s of the world—while its Next Big Sound chart lists the hottest up-and-comers. St. Paul and the Broken Bones, as it happens, showed up at the top of the latter chart about a week before its March SXSW showcase. “I learned that we were number one on something,” Janeway recalls with a full-bodied laugh. “And I thought, ‘Oh! We are number one on something!’”
Can you say “GOP Obstructionism?” Yes, we can all say that in truth.
As part of his proposal for dealing with the crisis of child migrants crossing the border, President Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in funding that would be used for, among other things, hiring more judges for the nation’s 59 immigration courts. Those courts have been overwhelmed by the influx of kids coming to the United States without parents or other relatives. But they were overwhelmed even before the children started showing up, in large part because of Republicans’ unwillingness to fund and staff them like other federal courts.
For years, since the second Bush administration radically stepped up, and Obama continued, deportation efforts targeted at undocumented immigrants, advocates have been begging Congress to beef up the funding for the courts that must process those new cases. As far back as 2006, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recognized that the immigration courts were woefully understaffed to process a backlog of cases that back then stood at 169,000. Gonzales called for more funding to increase resources for the courts, including adding more 40 judges.
But then his office proceeded to attempt to fill those jobs (and others at the Department of Justice) with political hacks who couldn’t make it through the Senate confirmation process to land on a regular federal court. (Immigration courts fall under the jurisdiction of the DOJ, and their judges don’t require Senate confirmation.) One example: Carey Holliday, a Louisiana delegate to the 2004 GOP convention who made headlines for trash-talking former Mother Jones editor Michael Moore, who was at the convention filing dispatches for USA Today.
The last time anyone saw Russel Rebello alive, he was near the stern of the Costa Concordia, helping passengers into rescue boats.
But the 33-year-old waiter from India never escaped the doomed cruise ship. And he’s the only victim of the 2012 shipwreck whose remains haven’t been found.
Investigators hope that could change soon. On Monday morning, salvage crews began the arduous task of trying to refloat the ship so they can move it to the Italian port of Genoa to be dismantled
Israel’s military said it downed a drone along its southern coastline on Monday, the first time it encountered such a weapon since its campaign against the Gaza Strip militants began last week.
The drone came from Gaza and was shot down near the southern city of Ashdod, the military said. It did not say what the drone was carrying and there was no immediate confirmation from Gaza on the use of unmanned aircraft.
Since the latest bout of fighting began last Tuesday, militants have fired nearly 1,000 rockets at Israel, causing some injuries and damage to property, but no fatalities among Israelis. By contrast, 172 Palestinians have died as a result of Israel’s air attacks.
The Chicago jail and many of its 3,300 counterparts across the country have become treatment centers of last resort for people with serious mental illnesses, most arrested for non-violent crimes. And like other jails, it is awash in a tide of booking and releases that make it particularly unsuited for the task.
U.S. jails, most of whose 731,000 inmates are trying to make bail or awaiting trial, hold roughly half the number in prisons. But last year, jails booked in 11.7 million people - 19 times the number of new prison inmates. The revolving door complicates the task of screening for mental illness, managing medications, providing care and ensuring inmate safety.
“Jails are churning people,” says Henry J. Steadman, a consultant to government agencies on how courts and correctional facilities deal with people with mental illnesses.
Deep in the forests of southern Guinea, the first victims fell ill with high fevers. People assumed it was the perennial killer malaria and had no reason to fear touching the bodies, as is the custom in traditional funerals.
Some desperate relatives brought their loved ones to the distant capital in search of better medical care, unknowingly spreading what ultimately was discovered to be Ebola, one of the world’s most deadly diseases.
Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever that can cause its victims to bleed from the ears and nose, had never before been seen in this part of West Africa where medical clinics are few and far between. The disease has turned up in at least two other countries — Liberia and Sierra Leone — and 539 deaths have been attributed to the outbreak that is now the largest on record.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is likely to face a barrage of questions Monday from lawmakers asking what can be done to reduce the value of the euro amid further signs the recovery in the 18-country eurozone is faltering.
The ECB is coming under increasing pressure to do more to stem the strength of the euro, which is hurting exporters and keeping a lid on the region’s recovery from recession.
At around $1.36, the euro is down from its 2014 high of just below the $1.40 mark in May but remains well above its historic average. Everyone from German carmakers to Greek yoghurt makers are finding it more difficult to sell their wares.
The Swiss maker of Lindt chocolate is closing in on a deal to acquire Kansas City-based Russell Stover Candies, the storied U.S. boxed-chocolate maker, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Russell Stover was expected to sell for about $1.5 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The closely held company has about 4,500 employees.
A spokesman for Russell Stover declined to comment to The Kansas City Star on Sunday.
Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli AG, the Swiss company, was among several confectioners that placed bids for the privately held Russell Stover in recent months.
American General Life Insurance urged dozens of small business owners to buy voluntary employee beneficiary association plans, or VEBA plans, that the Internal Revenue Service has ruled are “illegal tax avoidance schemes,” businesses claim in a federal class action.
Lead plaintiff Ulti-Mate Connectors sued American General Life Insurance (AIG) and nine other defendants on Wednesday, alleging RICO violations, fraud, unfair competition, false advertising, aiding and abetting and other counts.
According to Ulti-Mate, for more than a decade AIG has offered unlawful VEBA plans, which it calls “specialized whole life insurance policies.”
A high-level AIG executive allegedly told the plaintiffs’ financial planner that the plans allow small business owners to make tax-deductible payments, and that they could dip into the plans, tax-free. When the financial planner inquired about the legality of plans, the planner was assured the program was aboveboard, the complaint states.
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