"Whether renting is better than buying depends on many factors, particularly how fast prices and rents rise and how long you stay in your home. Compare the costs of buying and renting a home in the calculator below. Click the ADVANCED SETTINGS button to change inputs such as your rate of return on investments, condo/common fees and your tax bracket."
"With blood oozing from deep lacerations, the two patients arrived at California Pacific Medical Center’s tidy emergency room. Deepika Singh, 26, had gashed her knee at a backyard barbecue. Orla Roche, a rambunctious toddler on vacation with her family, had tumbled from a couch, splitting open her forehead on a table.
On a quiet Saturday in May, nurses in blue scrubs quickly ushered the two patients into treatment rooms. The wounds were cleaned, numbed and mended in under an hour. “It was great — they had good DVDs, the staff couldn’t have been nicer,” said Emer Duffy, Orla’s mother.
Then the bills arrived. Ms. Singh’s three stitches cost $2,229.11. Orla’s forehead was sealed with a dab of skin glue for $1,696. “When I first saw the charge, I said, ‘What could possibly have cost that much?’ ” recalled Ms. Singh. “They billed for everything, every pill.”"
Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny" and beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church.
"'Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,' Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday."
"'How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses 2 points?'"
"'I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,'" he wrote.
"'I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor.'"
"Stressing cooperation among religions, Francis quoted the late Pope John Paul II's idea that the papacy might be reshaped to promote closer ties with other Christian churches ...."
"In nearly all of the 32 states that permit capital punishment, a jury makes the final decision on whether a defendant will live or die. Not so in Alabama, where elected judges may override a jury verdict of life in prison and unilaterally impose a death sentence.
# Since 1982, Alabama judges have overridden 95 such verdicts, sentencing defendants to death even though the jury voted for life — many times by a vote of 12 to 0.
# This bizarre arrangement is the result of a state law requiring that capital punishment be imposed when a crime’s aggravating factors, like an especially heinous murder or one committed for hire, outweigh the mitigating factors, like a defendant’s age or mental capacity. But regardless of how a jury weighs those factors, its verdict is advisory only. A judge may then weigh them differently and override the verdict without explanation. In more than 90 percent of overrides, judges chose death after a jury chose life.
# On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to this law, which appears to violate a 2002 ruling that capital defendants “are entitled to a jury determination of any fact” necessary to sentence them to death."
"When school is in, inequality is out." • "And then there are the record levels of student debt. For people under 35, student loans are the second largest source of debt behind mortgages. College tuition has increased faster than inflation every single year since 1981. • So what can we do? Anya Kamenetz, the author of 'Generation Debt,' has put together some excellent ideas for Third Way, the centrist policy organization where we both work. Let’s start by reducing the number of college administrators per 100 students, which jumped by 40 percent between 1993 and 2007. We should demand a cease-fire to the perk wars in which colleges build ever-more-luxurious living, dining and recreational facilities. Blended learning, which uses online teaching tools together with professors and teaching assistants, could also help students master coursework at less cost."
"Each day the shutdown continues, the lack of services grows more acute. Republicans know that they are hurting those most dependent on government assistance (who tend to be Democratic constituents). To cite just one example, many states are about to run out of federal nutrition aid to the poor. Michigan, along with other states, is close to shutting down its Women, Infant and Children feeding program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, school lunches, and food stamps.
House leaders are still working on the details of their debt-ceiling proposal. But evenSenate Republicans have grown weary of the House’s confrontational tactics, and plan to include an end to the shutdown as part of any debt-ceiling bill that emerges from the House.
Asked whether any negotiations over the budget will take place if the government remains closed, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, on Thursday gave an answer that was firm and correct: 'Not gonna happen.'"
The tale of the IV bag shows how secrecy helps keep health care prices high: at every step from manufacturer to patient, there are confidential deals that obscure prices and profits.
Dennis Richards's insight:
What is just in this system? When you wonder why we need government regulation, think of this travesty. But your next thought should be two questions: how have we become a nation where this injustice is rampant? And why is there never any follow up action to legislate it out of existence? The story will simply fade from our collective memory and another similar story will appear in a year or two. Impotence?
Consumers hate price increases. Is there another way to increase profits significantly? One answer: Professor John Gourville says think smaller. Here is how to increase your profit margin up to 20 percent without consumers complaining. There will barely be a whimper!
"Our 50 states seem to be united in name only. That has led to disturbing concentrations of power." "While Republicans may claim that voter ID laws are about the sanctity of the vote, Republican power brokers know they’re about much more: suppressing the votes of people likely to vote Democratic. - Last week Rob Gleason, the Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman, discussed the effects of his state’s voter ID laws on last year’s presidential election, acknowledging to the Pennsylvania Cable Network: 'We probably had a better election. Think about this: we cut Obama by 5 percent, which was big. A lot of people lost sight of that. He won — he beat McCain by 10 percent; he only beat Romney by 5 percent. I think that probably voter ID helped a bit in that.'" "A substantial majority of the new restrictive measures — which include bans on abortion outside incredibly restrictive time frames (at six weeks after the woman’s last period in North Dakota), burdensome regulations on abortion clinics and providers, and forced ultrasounds — were enacted in states with Republican-controlled legislatures. -These are just two issues among many in which the cleaving of this country is becoming an incontrovertible fact, as we drift back toward bifurcation."
"Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what most people think it is or should be to be fair or at least acceptable."
Conservative critics, joined by their Republican allies on Capitol Hill, are trying to make the case that President Obama has overstepped his authority.
"More than a year after the Supreme Court upheld the central provision of President Obama’s health care overhaul, a fresh wave of legal challenges to the law is playing out in courtrooms as conservative critics — joined by their Republican allies on Capitol Hill — make the case that Mr. Obama has overstepped his authority in applying it.
A federal judge in the District of Columbia will hear oral arguments on Tuesday in one of several cases brought by states including Indiana and Oklahoma, along with business owners and individual consumers, who say that the law does not grant theInternal Revenue Service authority to provide tax credits or subsidies to people who buy insurance through the federal exchange.
At the same time, the House Judiciary Committee will convene a hearing to examine whether Mr. Obama is “rewriting his own law” by using his executive powers to alter it or delay certain provisions. The panel also will examine the legal theory behind the subsidy cases: that the I.R.S., and by extension, Mr. Obama, ignored the will of Congress, which explicitly allowed tax credits and subsidies only for those buying coverage through state exchanges.
'We have agencies under this administration having an attitude that they can fix a statute, that they can improve upon a statute, that they can look at a statute’s clear language and disregard it,' Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who is bringing one of the cases, said in an interview Monday. 'The president himself has said on more than one occasion, ‘I can’t wait on Congress.’ In our system of government, he has to.”
"(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued his first Apostolic Exhortation on Tuesday, Evangelii Gaudium, translated into English as The Joy of the Gospel. The 224-page document outlines the Pope’s vision for a missionary Church, whose “doors should always be open”. The Pope speaks on numerous themes, including evangelization, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and the role of women and of the laity in the Church.
The Joy of the Gospel is the title Pope Francis has chosen for this first major document of his pontificate, putting down in print the joyous spirit of encounter with Christ that characterizes every public appearance he has made so far. The man who has constantly kept the media’s attention with his desire to embrace and share his faith with everyone he meets, now urges us to do exactly the same. To 'recover the original freshness of the Gospel', as he puts it, through a thorough renewal of the Church’s structures and vision. Including what he calls 'a conversion of the papacy' to make it better able to serve the mission of evangelization in the modern world. The Church, he says, should not be afraid to re-examine 'customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel” even if they may have deep historical roots.'"
"If this were happening in any other country, Americans would be aghast. A sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for trying to sell $10 of marijuana to an undercover officer? For sharing LSD at a Grateful Dead concert? For siphoning gas from a truck? The punishment is so extreme, so irrational, so wildly disproportionate to the crime that it defies explanation.
# And yet this is happening every day in federal and state courts across the United States. Judges, bound by mandatory sentencing laws that they openly denounce, are sending people away for the rest of their lives for committing nonviolent drug and property crimes. In nearly 20 percent of cases, it was the person’s first offense.
# As of 2012, there were 3,278 prisoners serving sentences of life without parole for such crimes, according to an extensive and astonishing report issued Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. And that number is conservative. It doesn’t include inmates serving sentences of, say, 350 years for a series of nonviolent drug sales. Nor does it include those in prison for crimes legally classified as “violent” even though they did not involve actual violence, like failing to report to a halfway house or trying to steal an unoccupied car."
In this hour, TED speakers share some big ideas about new ways we might achieve prosperity for all.
"Income inequality is at an all-time high between the haves and the have-nots. But does the poverty gap have to be so wide, and can it potentially be eliminated altogether? In this hour, TED speakers share some big ideas about inequality and new ways we might achieve prosperity for all."
"For Obama, finding common ground gives way to holding firm." • "The great irony of Barack Obama’s political rise is that it depended on what turned out to be his single biggest political miscalculation. From the moment he appeared on a national stage — in his 2004 'there is not a liberal America and a conservative America' speech — he held himself out as the leader who could transcend the partisan divide and win over Republicans. His policy plans did not set him apart from the other Democrats running. Even on the Iraq war, which he had opposed from the start, he and other Democrats mostly agreed by 2007. Mr. Obama won the nomination largely because of what he called hope and change and Hillary Clinton mocked as a vision of the skies opening up to reveal celestial choirs singing. All of that seems very long ago, doesn’t it? • Mr. Obama trounced the Republicans last week with a Hillaryesque strategy of holding firm and winning an argument, not by finding common ground. He, his advisers and Congressional Democrats decided from the start that trading changes to the health care law for the reopening of the government and the lifting of the debt ceiling would merely encourage Republicans to create future showdowns."
"The most detailed disclosure of intelligence spending in history shows a surprisingly big role for the C.I.A. and a new emphasis on cyberoperations." • "The top secret budget request for the current fiscal year was obtained by The Washington Post from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden and published in part on its Web site on Thursday. The newspaper said it was withholding most of the 178-page document at the request of government officials because “sensitive details are so pervasive” in its description of spying programs. • The document shows that the agencies’ budget request for the year ending Sept. 30 was $52.6 billion, a small decrease from the 2011 peak of $54.6 billion, which came after a decade of rapid spending growth. Of that, the biggest share was taken by the C.I.A., which carries out traditional human spying and intelligence analysis but also now conducts drone strikes against terrorism suspects in Pakistan and Yemen."