Solar energy enjoys a glowing outlook

May 4, 2015

Solar energy’s time in the sun may be at hand. Prices have fallen so low that, in some countries, electricity from the sun can be far cheaper than that generated by fossil fuels.

Not that kind of libertarian: Poll shows fondness for government programs

April 30, 2015

Is libertarianism a growing trend or a red herring?

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As this Reuters graphic shows, a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month found that one in five Americans self-identify as libertarian, with percentages skewing higher the younger the cohort. One in three respondents aged 18-29 consider themselves libertarian, but just 12 percent of those 60 or older similarly self-identify. Additionally, 25 percent of independents consider themselves libertarian, a rate considerably higher than that of either major party.

More cops per person in Baltimore than most U.S. cities

April 28, 2015

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As this Reuters graphic shows, in 2013 Baltimore had 2,829 police officers serving a community of 622,671 residents, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. That equals one police officer for every 220 people, a significantly higher ratio than the national average for cities of that size. Despite this, Baltimore saw 233 murders in 2013, and the rate of 37 murders per 100,000 residents was fifth-worst in the nation. Overall, crime in the city fell, mimicking the national trend.

Bird flu can now be found all over the U.S. (Map)

April 28, 2015

Two new and particularly virulent forms of the avian flu virus are threatening to upset the domestic poultry industry’s egg cart.

How ‘find and replace’ for human DNA works

April 27, 2015

As this Reuters graphic shows, editing DNA using the CRISPR/Cas9 technique works similarly to the “find and replace” function in a word-processing program. First CRISPR — short for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” — searches for a unique string within the DNA sequence. Once found, the Cas9 enzyme cuts the DNA at the prescribed location, and replaces it with healthy DNA.

No big deal: Top 20 abandoned corporate takeovers

April 24, 2015

When people hear that one company is buying another for however-many billions of dollars, most assume it’s a done deal. The truth is that regulators and shareholders have been know to ax mergers and acquisitions both large and small. Despite the fame of the names involved, Comcast’s $45 billion deal for TimeWarner Cable doesn’t even make it into the top 10 of failed mergers.GLB_ABANDONEDMA0415_SC

As Russia’s Gazprom faces antitrust action, the Baltics bully back

April 22, 2015

Until now, Russia’s control of the gas pipeline that warms much of Europe has given Moscow, at minimum, an implied choke point to lord over Ukraine and its neighbors. That situation escalated this week, when the European Union used antitrust laws to charge the state-controlled Gazprom with price gouging, a move that inspired Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite to declare, “The era of Kremlin-backed political and economic blackmail draws to a close.” But if the Baltic States have their way, a bid for power independence could flip the script and leave a strategic Russian enclave out in the cold.

Drowned migrants and ‘a failure of compassion’

April 21, 2015

Already, this week’s migrant deaths in the Mediterranean are hard to tally.

As many as 900 refugees died in a shipwreck off of Libya on Sunday, the day before two other boats carrying 400 people faced distress off of Libya and three migrants died when yet another boat ran aground in Greece. As this Reuters graphic shows, the vast majority of illegal border crossings over the Mediterranean happen via central and eastern sea routes, a fact reflected in this week’s disasters. According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the Mediterranean was by far the world’s deadliest migrant sea crossing in 2014, swallowing 3,419 of the 4,272 refugee fatalities reported globally.

The combustible case for e-cigarettes

April 20, 2015

In what Bizarro world could an explosion in teen e-cigarette use be construed as a good thing?

Catching tax cheats with big data, digitizing WWII, Watson’s cookbook and more

April 17, 2015

With taxes (hopefully) in the rear-view mirror, kick back with some light reading suggestions compiled from the week that was.