US economic growth slows to 2.9% in fourth quarter

Consumer spending in the US saw the biggest gain in three years
US economic growth slowed less than previously estimated in the fourth quarter as the biggest gain in consumer spending in three years partially offset the drag from a jump in imports.
Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.9 per cent annual rate in the final three months of 2017, instead of the previously reported 2.5 per cent, the Commerce Department said in its third GDP estimate for the period on Wednesday. That was a slight moderation from the third quarter’s brisk 3.2 per cent pace.
The upward revision to the fourth-quarter growth estimate also reflected less inventory reduction than previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had expected that fourth-quarter GDP growth would be revised up to a 2.7 per cent rate.
Read more Northern Ireland’s economy to fall behind the rest of the UK next year There are signs that economic activity slowed further in the first quarter, with retail sales falling in February..

A Find at Gap: Steady Hours Can Help Workers, and Profits

A Find at Gap: Steady Hours Can Help Workers, and Profits Photo Credit Ryan Peltier In recent years, studies have shown that erratic work schedules can take a major toll on the well-being of service workers.
But many employers in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries continue to behave as though stable scheduling is an unaffordable luxury.
“I don’t count on the hours in my schedule,” said Sam Stephenson, an employee at a Gap store in Huntersville, N.C. “I don’t count on the money I’m supposed to be getting.”
Now a study involving Ms. Stephenson’s colleagues at more than two dozen Gap retail stores in the Chicago and San Francisco areas, undertaken by a team of researchers with the company’s cooperation, aims to rebut the presumption that stable schedules are too costly. The study shows that more predictable and consistent hours aren’t just compatible with profitability, they can significantly improve a store’s bottom line.
Advertisement
Continue reading the main story The..

A Chat Room of Their Own

A Chat Room of Their Own Photo Nina Collins, a former literary agent who founded a Facebook group two years ago for women over 40, What Would Virginia Woolf Do. Credit Amy Lombard for The New York Times In the fall of 2015, Nina Lorez Collins, a former literary agent, writer and mother of four young adults, including a pair of twins, was experiencing a fairly typical middle-aged malaise. She had a complicated second marriage, and her body was betraying her — textbook perimenopausal stuff, awaking most nights at 3 a.m., heart pounding, soaked in sweat. When she Googled “perimenopause,” it amused her to read that one of the symptoms was “impending sense of doom,” and she noted her discovery in an uncomplicated (until recently) manner: a Facebook post.
Friends wrote back, half-seriously, suggesting she start a group for their cohort, but what to call it? Black Cohosh (for the herbal remedy)? How about What Would Virginia Woolf Do? one friend joked darkly, because of course what Woolf did,..

Executive Who Sold Self-Driving Truck Start-Up to Uber Departs

Executive Who Sold Self-Driving Truck Start-Up to Uber Departs Photo Lior Ron, who founded Otto with Anthony Levandowski, was in charge of Uber Freight, a truck shipment booking service. Credit Andreas Gebert/Associated Press SAN FRANCISCO — One of the founders of Otto, a self-driving truck company founded by former Google employees and acquired by Uber, has left the ride-hailing service.
Lior Ron — who along with Anthony Levandowski sold Otto to Uber in 2016, six months after leaving Google — was in charge of Uber Freight, a truck shipment booking service. Most of Uber Freight’s business does not involve the company’s autonomous trucks.
The departure followed a fatal crash involving an Uber self-driving car in Tempe, Ariz. The police said the car, driving in autonomous mode, had failed to slow down before it struck and killed a woman who was walking her bicycle across a street.
Uber has stopped testing of its autonomous vehicles in Arizona, California, Pittsburgh and Toronto while inv..

By Degrees: A Parable From Down Under for U.S. Climate Scientists

A Parable From Down Under for U.S. Climate Scientists Photo John Church in Hobart in September 2010. He is known internationally for helping to bring statistical and analytical rigor to longstanding questions about sea level rise. Credit Peter Boyer HOBART, TASMANIA — John A. Church, a climate scientist, did not look or sound like a man who had recently been shoved out of a job.
Speaking softly and downing coffee at an outdoor cafe in this old port city, he sounded more like a fellow fresh off a jousting match. “I think we had a win — a bigger win than I ever anticipated,” Dr. Church said in an interview last month.
Australian climate science went through an upheaval last year, one that engaged the press and the public in defending the importance of basic research. In the end, Dr. Church did indeed lose his job, but scores of his colleagues who had been marked for layoffs did not. Some of them view him as having sacrificed his career to save theirs.
What happened in Australia shows the..

E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board

E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board Photo Scott Pruitt, left, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, with President Trump and a group of coal miners in March as the president signed an executive order that rolled back many climate-change policies. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.
A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, as part of the wide net it plans to cast. “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community,” said the spok..

After Years of Unrest, Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader

After Years of Unrest, Ethiopia Seeks Calm With a New Leader ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s governing coalition named a new leader late Tuesday night, paving the way for a peaceful transition of power in a country rocked in recent years by violent protests.
Abiy Ahmed, who is expected to become the country’s next prime minister, would be the first member of the Oromo ethnic group, which makes up a third of Ethiopia’s population, to lead the government. The group, which has suffered political and economic repression, has been at the center of protests demanding more economic opportunities and greater freedom of expression.
The country has been in a state of emergency since the former prime minister’s resignation in February.
The choice of Mr. Abiy was widely seen as a move to maintain stability in Ethiopia, which has East Africa’s largest economy and is a critical player in the regional fight against terrorism.
Advertisement
Continue reading the main story “The short term signific..

American Drone Strike in Libya Kills Top Qaeda Recruiter

American Drone Strike in Libya Kills Top Qaeda Recruiter Photo The aftermath of an American airstrike in 2016 on an Islamic State militant training camp in rural Libya. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north. Credit Mohamed Ben Khalifa/Associated Press An American military drone strike over the weekend in southern Libya killed a top recruiter and logistics specialist for Al Qaeda’s branch in northwest Africa, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, and a senior military official warned of more attacks on extremists there.
The military’s Africa Command said in a statement that the attack killed two militants, one of whom was identified as Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking official in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM.
Mr. Dawud trained Qaeda recruits in Libya for strike operations in the region, and provided logistics, money and weapons that enabled the group to threaten and at..

Trilobites: Arctic Foxes on a Swedish Mountain Turned ‘Blue.’ It Was a Good Thing.

Arctic Foxes on a Swedish Mountain Turned ‘Blue.’ It Was a Good Thing. Arctic foxes are endangered in Sweden, Norway and Finland, scattered in isolated populations that can fall victim to severe inbreeding, further threatening their survival.
That’s what happened to a group descended from six white foxes that settled in the early 2000s on Helagsfjället, the highest mountain in southern Sweden.
But in 2010, a local ranger noticed something different: slate-colored or “blue” Arctic foxes, which had to be newcomers. The immigrants presented a rare opportunity for scientists to study what happens when new genetic material flows into a small, isolated population threatened with extinction.
In a study published Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists from Sweden and Norway reported that just three new males dramatically reduced inbreeding and produced a generation of more robust offspring in the Helagsfjället arctic fox population.
Continue reading the main story Adverti..