The future has arrived
June 5, 2014

Back in 1999, the future belonged to Microsoft. It was so dominant in the computer/IT market — Windows, Office, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player — that a few years later the European Union would slap it with a hefty antitrust judgment and fine. Now, Microsoft is merely a tech giant competing against everyone from Apple and Google to Nintendo and Facebook. Those companies, it turns out, have helped make a reality out of much of this 1999 Microsoft concept video of the "smart home" of the future. The Jetsons, today, if you will. One quibble: Rosie is the Jetsons' robotic housekeeper — isn't Astro their dog? --Peter Weber

This just in
1:00 p.m. ET
Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Global hunger has declined in the last 25 years, despite the world's population growth, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.

In 1990, about one billion people worldwide were declared hungry, compared with 795 million — about one in every nine people — today. The U.N. also found that of the 129 nations it monitored, 72 countries had met the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) target of halving their percentages of hungry people.

East Asia, Southeast and Central Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean saw the most progress in hunger elimination, The New York Times reports. The U.N. credits the reduced numbers to economic growth and stable political conditions, according to the Times.

"The near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime," Food and Agriculture Organization director general Jose Graziano da Silva told the Times. Meghan DeMaria

Extreme weather
1:00 p.m. ET
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

El Niño may be wreaking havoc in Texas and Oklahoma with deadly floods, but the climate cycle, which brings warmer-than-average temperatures to the Pacific Ocean, will likely suppress the hurricanes that typically hit the coastal areas in the southern and eastern parts of the country. El Niño is already affecting wind and pressure patterns and is expected to last through the season that runs June 1 through November 30.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center calls it a "below-normal" hurricane season, which means there is only a 70 percent likelihood that six to 11 named storms will develop.

But that "doesn’t mean we’re off the hook," a NOAA administrator cautions. As many as six of those storms could become hurricanes and even tropical storms can cause serious destruction. Experts also point out that the "below-normal" 1992 season had only seven storms, but the first was Hurricane Andrew, which, as a Category 5 hurricane, devastated South Florida. Lauren Hansen

Faux Paws
12:10 p.m. ET

Have you ever woken up, looked at your pet husky and thought, "Man, you'd look even better with two gold Apple watches on those furry paws"?

Me neither.

But Wang Sicong, the son of China's richest man — Wang Jianlin, who is worth an estimated $34 billion — has a bit more money to blow than the rest of us. Husky Wang Keke, who has her own Weibo account (China's version of Twitter) posted a series of photos in which she's sporting not one but two gold Apple watches.


"I have new watches!" the caption, translated, reads. "I'm supposed to have four watches since I have four long legs. But that seems too tuhao [nouveau riche], so I kept it down to two, which totally fits my status."

The Daily Mail notes that the post prompted heavy backlash from other Weibo users: One gold Apple watch retails for $10,000 to $17,000. Time to step up your social media game, Wang Keke, and here's lesson one: Know your audience. Sarah Eberspacher

The Name Game
11:59 a.m. ET

If you know a Jennifer, she's probably in her late 20s or early 30s, while Aunts Linda and Carol are likely turning 65 this year. Thanks to this name/age calculator, it's easy to see when a given name peaked in popularity, a measure which is often a reliable indicator of someone's age.

But names also correlate with professions, states, pop culture events, and even your political leanings:

  • Jobs: Luigi and Bobby are disproportionately likely to drive race cars, while I (Bonnie) apparently missed my calling as an interior decorator.
  • States: Thanks to uneven immigration patterns, Arizona has a lot of Garcias and Montoyas, while my state of Minnesota is packed with Scandinavian surnames like Peterson and Hansen.
  • Culture: Shirley Temple on screen means more Shirleys; Game of Thrones on screen means more Khaleesis. (It's a title, guys! Come on!)
  • Politics: Malik and Natasha lean the furthest left, while Delbert and Brittney are most likely to vote GOP.

Click over to the Washington Post to figure out how well your name fits with your life. Bonnie Kristian

going postal
11:54 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In light of a recently released white paper that suggested the Post Office (USPS) get into the banking business, the banks are pushing back hard against the idea, which would involve USPS using its ubiquitous outposts to offer a limited selection of banking services.

While supporters of the idea, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), argue that USPS could provide low-income customers an alternative to payday loan and check-cashing businesses, critics have pointed out that the Post Office has no experience in banking and is perceived by many as being incompetent in the responsibilities it already has.

“It seems crazy," Francis Creighton, executive vice president of government relations, said at the Financial Services Roundtable. "These people are not that good at managing how to deliver the mail and they want to get into this business?"

Perhaps a more significant long-term consideration is that a USPS bank could well be classified as "too big to fail," meaning Post Office bailouts —which are regularly suggested given the organization's steady record of losses — could potentially balloon in scale. Bonnie Kristian

This just in
11:04 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and IRS criminal division head Richard Weber held a press conference in Brooklyn to discuss the indictment of nine FIFA officials on corruption charges. Lynch announced the unsealing of the 47 charges, which include money laundering, conspiracy, using bribes to influence hosting decisions, and soliciting bribes from sports marketers.

Lynch said that the FIFA officials, as well as five indicted sports-marketing executives, "corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests," and added that they will be brought to justice. The officials have agreed to return millions of dollars accepted in bribes.

The surprise arrests were carried out early Wednesday morning by plainclothes police officers as soccer's governing world body gathered in Zurich, Switzerland for FIFA's annual meeting. While FIFA's powerful longtime president, Sepp Blatter, isn't among those indicted, the arrests are a blow to his tenure, and could put his presumed election to a fifth term — set for Friday — in jeopardy. Meghan DeMaria

Yeah science!
10:35 a.m. ET

Don't worry — this is not the hideous, cold-sore causing herpes you know and hate, which can be extremely harmful for cancer patients. Rather, this version of herpes has been genetically engineered not to cause an active infection.

For several years, scientists have been experimenting with cancer treatment forms utilizing viruses, an approach called immunotherapy. This particular herpes virus, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, has proven highly effective in combating melanoma, an increasingly common form of skin cancer.

When injected directly into a melanoma, this specially designed herpes can attack the cancer in two ways: by killing the cells directly and "marshalling" the immune system against them. Further, because the virus specifically targets the cancerous cells, there tend to be fewer side effects than with other, more traditional forms of treatment, like chemotherapy.

Combined with additional immunotherapies, this version of herpes improves survival and life extension rates in patients with even advanced stages of cancer. Stephanie Talmadge

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