Saturday, May 25
Holiday spending surged, defying fears of a decline
Business

Holiday spending surged, defying fears of a decline

Despite persistent inflation, Americans increased spending during the holiday season, early data shows. This comes as a big relief to retailers who had spent much of the year fearing that the economy would soon weaken and consumer spending would collapse.Retail sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 rose 3.1% from a year earlier, according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. The numbers, released Tuesday, are not adjusted for inflation.Spending increased across many categories, with restaurants seeing one of the largest increases of 7.8%. Clothing rose 2.4% and groceries also posted gains.Holiday sales data, driven by a healthy job market and wage gains, suggests the economy remains strong. The Federal Reserve's camp...
Your top health questions of 2023, answered
International

Your top health questions of 2023, answered

One thing I love about editing the Ask Well column is the camaraderie that comes with it. Every week we answer a health question: Why am I always so congested? (I've wondered that too!) Why does my sleep get worse as I age? (I'm right there with you.) Does my coffee habit need an intervention? (Pour me another while we find a solution.)When I scan our inbox, I'm amazed by what comes in: questions that cover the joys, agonies, confusions, and vulnerabilities of being a person. And fortunately for all of us, we can search for the answers.Here are 10 of the most popular health questions of 2023.1. Is it bad to wash your hair every day?The answer depends on the texture of your hair, how oily it is, whether it is dyed, and more.“While it may seem like cleaning your scalp squeaky clean and o...
He raises a little finger.  It’s tea time.
Business

He raises a little finger. It’s tea time.

Phoebe Cheong and Jude Andam, friends who live on opposite coasts, recently started a tradition every time they see each other.They have tea.On a recent afternoon, Ms. Andam, a makeup artist from Los Angeles, joined Ms. Cheong, a commercial photographer, at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon, which occupies the living room of a Georgian house in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood.The two friends may have met for coffee or lunch, but they prefer the more formal experience of tea.“Coffee shops are casual,” said Ms. Andam, 42. “Go there on your free time or whatever. This is more of a special occasion.”Ms. Cheong, 31, noted the maximalist decor of Lady Mendl's, which includes Victorian lampshades with fringe and gold leaf on the molding. She also appreciated how the waiter announced that the toppi...
How to create a black hole from nothing
International

How to create a black hole from nothing

How many ways are there to leave this universe?Perhaps the best-known exit involves the death of a star. In 1939, physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his student Harlan Snyder, of the University of California, Berkeley, predicted that when a sufficiently massive star runs out of thermonuclear fuel, it collapses inward and continues to collapse forever, shrinking space , time and the Earth. light around itself in what we now call a black hole.But it turns out that a dead star may not be necessary to create a black hole. Instead, at least in the early universe, giant clouds of primordial gas could have collapsed directly into black holes, avoiding millions of years spent in stardom.This is the provisional conclusion recently reached by a group of astronomers studying UHZ-1, a speck of lig...
Under Argentina’s new president, fuel has increased by 60% and diaper prices have doubled
Business

Under Argentina’s new president, fuel has increased by 60% and diaper prices have doubled

Over the past two weeks, the owner of a trendy wine bar in Buenos Aires has seen the price of beef rise 73%, while the courgettes he puts in salads have increased 140%. An Uber driver paid 60% more to fill up the tank. And one father said he spent double on nappies for his baby compared to last month.In Argentina, a country synonymous with runaway inflation, people are used to paying more for practically everything. But under the country's new president, life is quickly becoming even more painful.When Javier Milei was elected president on November 19, the country was already suffering from the third-highest inflation rate in the world, with prices rising 160 percent from the year before.But since Milei took office on Dec. 10 and rapidly devalued Argentina's currency, prices have risen a...
Substack says it will not ban Nazi or extremist speech
International

Substack says it will not ban Nazi or extremist speech

Under pressure from critics who say Substack profits from newsletters that promote hate speech and racism, the company's founders said Thursday they would not ban Nazi symbols and extremist rhetoric from the platform.“I just want to make it clear that we don't like Nazis either – we would like no one to have those views,” Hamish McKenzie, co-founder of Substack, said in a statement. “But some people hold these and other extreme views. Having said that, we don't think that censorship (including through the demonetization of publications) solves the problem, on the contrary, it makes it worse."The response came weeks after The Atlantic found that at least 16 Substack newsletters had “overt Nazi symbols” in their logos or graphics and that white supremacists had been allowed to post on the ...
Merry Christmas.  I got you a little cow.
Business

Merry Christmas. I got you a little cow.

Dear Santa, I have been very good this year. Could you bring me a miniature cow, please? I promise I will take great care of it. Please, please, please!While it may seem ridiculous, miniature cows have become a popular Christmas gift in recent years.“I just picked one up this morning,” Allie Sine, a rancher from Wright City, Missouri, said Thursday.The animal, a brown micro heifer, cost $10,000 and was headed elsewhere in Missouri to be a surprise Christmas gift for a 3-year-old girl. It was one of more than 15 miniature cows that Ms. Sine, 27, said she sold during the holiday season.“At Christmas things really get better,” he said. “Usually, the wife wants one and the husband comes to meet us.”The popularity of mini cows can be attributed, at least in part, to TikTok, where videos of...
Americans are signing up for Obamacare in record numbers
International

Americans are signing up for Obamacare in record numbers

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act is expanding its reach.Despite a recent warning from former President Donald J. Trump, the front-runner in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, that he was “seriously examining alternatives” to the Affordable Care Act, the latest surge in market enrollment is a testimony to the enduring power of the law.Legislation passed earlier during the Covid-19 pandemic increased federal subsidies for people purchasing plans, reducing costs for many Americans. The Biden administration has also lengthened the enrollment period and increased advertising for the program and funding for so-called navigators who help people sign up.“More and more people are realizing they can enter the market,” said Cynthia Cox, director of the Program on the Af...
Choice Hotel franchise owners reject merger with Wyndham
Business

Choice Hotel franchise owners reject merger with Wyndham

When Patrick Pacious, CEO of a large portfolio of hotel brands, promoted a successful attempt to acquire a competitor in October, he said the proposed merger would reduce costs and attract more customers for families and small businesses that own most of the company's activities. positions.“Our franchisees immediately saw the strategic advantage this would bring to their hotels,” Mr. Pacious, who leads Choice Hotels, told CNBC.As the weeks went by, however, the reaction was not positive. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, the target of the proposed deal, rejected Choice's offer, which is now pursuing a hostile takeover. And at the beginning of December an association representing the majority of hoteliers who own Choice and Wyndham branded properties spoke out strongly against it.“We all don't...
NASA broadcasts videos of cats from deep space
International

NASA broadcasts videos of cats from deep space

On December 11, NASA engineers anxiously gathered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to watch a video of a cat, wondering whether it would be in the pristine high definition they had hoped for.To their relief, it was. For the first time, a high-definition video – this one of a lab employee's cat named Taters – was streamed from 18.6 million miles away, or about 80 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon , the farthest ever seen.The demonstration was part of NASA's Deep Space Optical Communications experiment, aimed at improving communications infrastructure beyond Earth orbit. For example, if humans were to go to Mars, there is a need to transmit larger amounts of data over a greater distance. This demonstration marked another step towards that possibili...