The Philadelphia Police Department is building a new crime-fighting weapon: a map of privately owned security cameras across the city. Police are encouraging residents and businesses to register their own cameras through a program called SafeCam. It could be the early stages of Big Brother, but it's also a cost-effective way for police to have more eyes on the streets.
A large white camera stands out against the brick front of a row house near Temple University in Philadelphia. Humberto Fernandini works for the company that owns the building with the camera.
Waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan has cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $60 billion and the tally could grow, according to a government study released Wednesday.
In its final report to Congress, the nonpartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting said lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption resulted in losses of "at least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion" out of some $206 billion in total payments to contractors by the end of the current fiscal year.
Did you have a sugary soda today? How about a full-calorie sports drink?
Chance are pretty good that you consumed something sugary (or high fructose corn syrupy) in the last 24 hours, according to findings just out from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On any particular day, half the people in the U.S. drink a soda, fruit or sports drink, or similar calorie-rich beverage.
For the past 10 years, farmers in tobacco-growing states have been slowly saying goodbye to that old leaf in favor of other crops.
Of course, there's lots of corn and soy replacing tobacco, but some farms are testing out specialty crops that appeal to recent immigrants.
George Bowling's farm in southern Maryland is one such place. He started growing African vegetables about a year ago, but he has worked on farms growing corn and tobacco for much of his 70-something years.
Much of the nation may have moved on from last week's hurricane, but about two million people are still without electricity in the northeast. And now that flood waters from Hurricane Irene have mostly receded, residents are shoveling muck from their houses.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimates damage in his state at about $1 billion.
"Over 600 homes destroyed. Six towns inundated. One hundred fifty major highways have been damaged. Twenty-two state bridges closed," reported Cuomo at a press conference.
Ten years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the United States is "undoubtedly safer and more secure," but gaps in coordination among the government agencies responsible for security remain a problem.
That's the conclusion reached by two highly influential analysts of American security, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton.
Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 1:40 pm
The casino arson last week in Monterrey in which 52 people were killed really put a face on just how serious the drug violence in Mexico has become. Police believe that arson was likely the result of extortion.
With the U.S. economy stuck in neutral, analysts are busy adjusting their forecasts to include the possibility of another recession. Most aren't predicting another downturn, they're just saying that the odds have increased.
Meanwhile, policymakers at the Federal Reserve are divided about what to do next. Some are arguing for more aggressive action while others think that would be a mistake, according to minutes from their last meeting released on Tuesday.
Both the Fed and Congress are running out of ideas that they haven't already tried.
"At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America's contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," the independent and bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported this morning.
That's out of the $206 billion that's expected to have been spent on contracts and grants in those two countries by the end of September, the commission says.
U.S. factory orders rose strongly in July on the biggest jump in demand for autos in more than eight years and a surge in commercial airplane orders. The increase suggests supply chain disruptions created by the Japan crisis are easing.
Factory orders climbed 2.4 percent, the largest increase since March, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 9.8 percent, the largest one-month gain since January 2003.
Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 7:13 am
While they believe "our country is undoubtedly safer and more secure than it was a decade ago," the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission warn today that some of their panel's most important recommendations remain unfilled.
States from North Carolina north to New England continue to cope with the aftereffects of Hurricane Irene, as we reported earlier. The Associated Press says 2.5 million customers still don't have power and that the death toll now stands at 44 people in 13 states. Flood waters continue to be huge problems in New Jersey and states to the north.
Meanwhile, other stories making headlines include:
Originally published on Wed August 31, 2011 6:40 am
While Hurricane Irene may, according to The New York Times, "prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation's history," the recovery efforts as work gets going to repair the estimated $7 billion to $10 billion in damages are not going to give the overall U.S. economy a much-needed lift, our Planet Money colleague Adam Davidson says.
Many of the places in Hurricane Irene's path were big tourist destinations: North Carolina's Outer Banks; Cape Cod; Ocean City, Md. Some businesses in those areas escaped relatively unscathed, allowing managers to breathe a sigh of relief and hope for a big turnout on Labor Day weekend.
Others weren't so lucky — places like Sallee Tee's Grille, blocks from the ocean in Monmouth Beach, N.J. It's a big operation that serves everything from jumbo sea scallops, to deli fare, to sushi.
When Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked about Social Security during a campaign stop in Ottumwa, Iowa, last weekend, he didn't mince words. He suggested that younger workers who are required to pay into the retirement system are the victims of a government swindle.
"We need to have a conversation with America, just like we're having right here today, and admit that is a Ponzi scheme for these young people," Perry said. "The idea that they're working and paying into Social Security today, the current program, that it's going to be there for them, is a lie."
For more than a century, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center was known as the hospital that catered to presidents and generals. Eisenhower was treated and died there. So too did Generals "Black Jack" Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George Marshall.
But in recent years, Walter Reed was shorthand for scandal.
A 2007 series that dominated the front page of The Washington Posttold of decrepit housing and wounded soldiers left to fend for themselves.
You've likely seen the commercials for vehicle service contracts on TV promising to save customers thousands of dollars in repairs to their older cars and trucks.
And St. Louis is like the Silicon Valley of those vehicle service contract companies. But while the industry continues to thrive, Missouri's Better Business Bureau logged almost 1,000 complaints about it last year alone.
The year 2010 was a very bad one for Haiti. It started with an earthquake that killed over 300,000 people, mostly in the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince. After that, cholera originating in a U.N. camp broke out in a northern province and eventually spread to the city.