Fearing abductions and identity theft, US hospitals abandon tradition of announcing first baby of the year (or limit that info).Second man arrested in shooting of LAPD patrol car, in joint FBI operation; facing maximum sentence of life in prison.131 NYC pedestrians died in 2014 traffic accidents, lowest in 100 years, since mayor adopts Swedish-inspired "Vision Zero Plan" to eliminate all traffic deaths (lower driving speeds, stronger enforcement...)Insight: siblings raised the same way and in the same home illustrate the US wealth gap; growing trend creates deep issues; accepting the idea of a rich stranger is much easier than that of a successful sibling (click for cases).NYT spills ink in editorials defending mayor de Blasio against NYPD, closing like this: "
1. Don't violate the Constitution. 2. Don't kill unarmed people. 3. Do your jobs. The police are sworn public servants, and refusing to work violates their oath to serve and protect".NYC to name streets after the 2 NYPD officers executed by Mike Brown protester.With GOP majority, Senate will get a chance to force audit of the Fed, previously blocked by Harry Reid (former Senate Maj. Leader).Mike Brown supporters storm St. Louis PD headquarters to "reclaim" it for the people.A funny and/or enraging look at abuses of emotional support animal laws, like dragging along a smelly pig on a plane.A look at NYPD arrests drop since mayor de Blasio support for Mike Brown protesters, one of whom then killed two officers.Maryland, most recent state to abolish the death penalty, to commute sentences of last 4 death-row inmates to life imprisonment.US cancer deaths have fallen 21% since 1991, due to lower smoking rates and better cancer prevention / detection / treatment.Arizona Supreme Court allows lawsuit challenging state's medicaid expansion to proceed, setback for Gov. Jan Brewer.
California's high living costs, especially real estate, push low- and middle-income workers to move to other states, many to Texas.UK, 2014: music downloads (like iTunes) fell for first time as online music streaming services like Spotify grow 65%.2015 as year-of-the-dollar bad news for (parts of) the world; US Treasuries (doubled yield since October) steer currency markets; BRICS and other emerging markets hold debts in dollars; Eurozone will be in deflation by February, with debts rising faster than GDP, quickly leading to a compound-interest trap; half of big US companies' earnings come from abroad (stronger dollar means more expensive imports from the US). The S&P 500 has seen double-digit growth, helped by big companies buying back their own stock, often with borrowed money.Increase of dollar value concern for borrowers of dollar-denominated debt - top of the list: China, Brazil, Russian Fed.Detroit might regain some of the midsize pickups market, mostly dominated by Toyota and Nissan, by re-introducing the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon (discontinued in 2012).Associated Press' breakdown of market moves in 2014, from energy to finance.Tip for identity-theft victims: even if offered new one, keep old social security number.West Virginia increases min. wage to $8/hr (+$0.75) and ditches business franchise tax.France's ineffective, as it turns out, 75% super-tax for incomes above ~$1.2 million is retired; outcry that socialist pres is anti-business; high-profile celebs and business leaders have since left the country, switching nationality in some cases. Official rate is now 50% of taxable income.
Snapchat gets other funding round for just under half a billion dollars; company still working on its business model.Mt Gox, Japanese Bitcoin exchange went bankrupt in Feb. 2014; 1% stolen by hackers, remainder taken over by unknown party.Apple's iPod Classic, discontinued in October, fetches up to 4 times its retail price - twice storage capacity of current models.Twitter unveils "while you were away" feature, a recap by pinning best tweets you missed since your last login session.Demise of the bookstores; more bookshops closed doors in past 2 years as people switch to eBooks; library still seen as necessary.Prediction: fitness bands, one of the hottest accessories in 2014, may fade into obsolescence as smartwatches take over.Lawsuit against Apple and advertised storage capacity - as much as 23% of a device's flash drive can be used by the operating system (iOS), and the company profits by selling additional cloud (online) storage.Facebook takes down page of China dissident, living in Berlin, officially for nudity (picture of artist friend in nude protest), denies any ulterior motive.Idling your car over 30 seconds to warm it in cold weather does nothing but waste gas; how the myth started (with old cars).Emerging new techs to recharge devices, using body heat and movement; Apple got patent for similar system using magnets.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos loses $7.4bn stock value in company's worst year since 2008.Closing 2014, the year of the #hashtag; worldwide recap by The Age.Popular Science's survey of the best / most challenging special effects of 2014 (each slideshow image links to an article).Glasgow (Scotland) to host world's first festival dedicated to cat videos.Rough start of 2015 for Uber, which temporarily halts its Spain operations; court order says drivers don't have official authorization, unfairly compete with compliant taxi drivers.
Sweden: third mosque bombing in a week, this time in 4th largest city Uppsala.Germany poll: 1 in 8 (12.5%) would join anti-Islamization marches, growing trend.India scraps its Planning Commission, relic of communist era, relegating some decision making to individual regions w/ new body.Kashmir: four Pakistani troops killed in India/Pakistan clashes at disputed region's border; official 2003 ceasefire still in place.Guam: descendant of Spanish Jesuit missionary, killed there in 1684, brings his ancestor's possessions back for conference.Nigeria: suicide bomber blows himself up at church; stopped by guards at entrance, only manages to injure 8; no dead.Afghans now in charge of security; foreign troops left the country, amid violence, to respect self-imposed withdrawal deadline.Egypt's high court grants retrial to three Al Jazeera journalists, convicted of supporting Muslim Brotherhood (7/10-year sentences).China: stampede kills over 35 people trying to grab (fake) money thrown from building.Philippines: firecracker-started fire destroys hundreds of homes in Manila slums.Canada: so far, 176 turned away amid new travel ban from Ebola-affected countries.Israel: current PM Benjamin Netanyahu wins Likud party primary from ~75% electorate.North Korea proposes high-level talks with South Korea, with conditions; good news, since latest exchange was 10 months ago.Italy: bad weather halts search operations for victims of ferry fire in Adriatic; 11 killed, 98 people still unaccounted for.Vatican City - Pope Francis' homily stresses life's fleetingness: "
How we like to be surrounded by so many fireworks, seemingly beautiful, but which in reality last only a few minutes". As humans, there is a time to be born and a time to die and the new year is a time to reflect on our mortality.Italy: 89-year-old president Giorgio Napolitano announces upcoming retirement, citing old age; reluctantly accepted 2nd term to break electorate deadlock, said he wouldn't serve full 7 years.