Across the country, state budgets are back in the black after years of belt-tightening and spending cuts. From California to Florida, in nearly every state, the economic recovery has produced a surge in tax revenue.
For governors and state legislators, that's produced a new question: how to spend the money.
The past three years have not been easy ones for elected officials. Nearly every state requires them to produce a balanced budget. And with declining revenue from sales, property and income taxes, that has meant big spending cuts.
Roughly one in four cellphone towers in the path of Hurricane Sandy went out of service. It was a frustrating and potentially dangerous experience for customers without a landline to fall back on. Now, local officials and communications experts are pushing providers to improve their performance during natural disasters.
Lori McCaskill lives in Brooklyn, and when Sandy hit last October, her Verizon cell service went out. She couldn't work. She couldn't check in with family and friends. Her sister was due to have a baby any day.
When he was a teenager, journalist Rod Dreher couldn't wait to escape Louisiana. Now he has found his way home again in grief — after his sister's death from lung cancer. It was "in light" of that tragedy, Dreher says, that he discovered the value of community. It's the subject of his new book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life.
All parents are bound to disagree, argue or even raise their voices with each other.
But psychologists say parents can minimize the negative impact of their arguments on their children. It's just a matter of using a few simple techniques to turn down the heat and repair the damage after it's over.
Psychologist Suzanne Phillips at Long Island University says one of the most important things for parents to remember when they're on the verge of a big argument is not to involve the child.
For years now, psychologists have been telling couples who yell at one another to stop for the sake of the kids. Such conflict in the home — even when no violence is involved — is associated with a host of negative behavioral and life outcomes for children.
Sarah Allen has been the only woman on a team of computer programmers a few times in the more than two decades she has worked in the field. Most notably, she led the team — as the lone female programmer — that created Flash video, the dominant technology for streaming video on the Web.
Colorado responded to the mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., by passing new gun control measures last month. That's not sitting well with several gun-related businesses in the Centennial State, where four companies have announced plans to relocate all or some of their operations.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 8:24 am
Cellist Janos Starker has died at 88, ending a life and career that saw him renowned for his skills as a soloist, his prodigious work with orchestras, and his commitment to teaching. Starker was born in Budapest in 1924; his path to becoming an international star included surviving life in a Nazi labor camp.
Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:06 am
Japan marked for the first time Sunday the end of the allied occupation of the country following its defeat in World War II.
"We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a ceremony in Tokyo that was attended by dignitaries, including Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Iraqi officials have suspended the right of 10 satellite TV channels to operate in the country, as media regulators say the stations' coverage of sectarian conflicts incites more violence.
"Most of the channels, including local stations such as 'Baghdad' and 'al-Sharqiya,' are pro-Sunni and often critical of the Shi'ite-led government," Reuters reports. "Al Jazeera is based in Qatar, a Sunni-ruled kingdom."
Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast six months ago, and, as with other natural disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was there from day one, finding people temporary shelter and later supporting rebuilding efforts.
FEMA also has a lesser-known role. It oversees the creation of flood maps, which model the risk of flooding in different areas during storms. These maps are also used to set building codes and flood insurance rates. In New York and New Jersey, FEMA is updating those maps, and so far many homeowners don't like what they are seeing.
It seems almost trivial at first: the latest Human Rights Watch report on Afghanistan says female police officers need their own toilets. Sure, who's going to argue with that. But why is it a big deal?
Here's how it unfolds.
Female police officers are experiencing high levels of harassment, sexual assault and rape — often at the hands of their male colleagues. Where is most of this activity taking place? In police station bathrooms and changing rooms.
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev "vaguely discussed" jihad during a 2011 phone conversation with his mother, according to a U.S. official who described the recording to the Associated Press. The call, taped by a Russian government agency, reportedly did not include any mention of a plot inside the U.S.
Sokeel Park sees the effects of North Korea's repressive government every day. He lives in South Korea, but works for an NGO named Liberty in North Korea. His job is to debrief those who've managed to leave the North and help them start new lives in the South.
Park says that with so much focus on the country's nuclear weapons and leadership, it's easy to forget about the 24 million people going about their everyday lives. Those lives are heavily controlled by the North Korean government, citizens are told where to work, where to live, and are not allowed to leave.
The House was set to vote this week on a bill modifying the president's health care law. The Republican bill was supported by the leadership, but ran into trouble and was pulled from the floor before the scheduled vote.
It's an example of the kind of obstacles Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, faces in getting legislation through the House. In many recent cases, his problem hasn't been the Democrats as much as members of his own party, backed by proudly conservative outside groups.
Kansan journalist Jason Probst says the Kansas he knows has disappeared.
"The great state of Kansas passed away on March 31, 2013 after a long and difficult battle with extremism," he wrote in an editorial for The Hutchinson News.
His faux obituary, lamenting Kansas' embrace of conservatism, went viral. Tens of thousands of people read it. Many were fellow Kansans who wrote to Probst to say they, too, were disturbed by their state's dramatic swing to the right.