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Steam Heat

Solar Power on a Grand Scale

Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images for Bechtel

There’s a new type of solar plant coming online. It's huge, cool looking, and might be able to provide power at night. Does it have a future?

The massive solar plant nearing completion in the California’s Mojave desert doesn’t look like the solar plants you might be used to seeing. It has no solar panels, for one thing. Instead, it has mirrors—300,000 of them—all arrayed in rings around three giant towers. The mirrors reflect sunlight onto vats of water sitting on top of the towers, heating them to 500 degrees and powering a steam turbine, providing enough energy for 140,000 homes.

Fiscalmageddon

Now Wall Street’s Worried

Richard Drew/AP

Fairly blasé until now about the prospect of a shutdown and default on U.S. debt, Wall Street is waking up, with stocks down and bond buying up. It’s just going to get worse, says Daniel Gross.

It’s starting to get real. In four days, the U.S. government is poised to shut down. In three weeks, the U.S. Treasury is poised to run out of its legal authority to issue debt. Fiscalmageddon may soon be upon us. And Wall Street, having been remarkably complacent about the doings in Washington—or lack thereof—is starting to get concerned.The prospect of a government shutdown next week, and the unprecedented default on U.S. debt in 20 days, should have crystallized the minds of traders.

Oh Snap!

Business Ignores Food Stamp Cuts

Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post, via Getty Images

Supermarkets and food manufacturers depend on food stamps for a significant chunk of their sales each year. Yet as Republicans push for huge, punitive cuts in funding for the program, the big corporations that benefit are keeping silent.

Republicans have made it clear that they want massive cuts to the federal budget, and food stamp assistance is on the chopping block. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a measure that would slash nearly $40 billion in spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next several years.Because the deep cuts would impose serious hardship on recipients of food stamps, advocates for the program have been speaking out loudly.

HOLY GRAIL

First Cargo Ship Uses Northwest Passage

Carrying coal on route created by global warming.

Oh the irony. The Northwest Passage, the ever elusive connection between the riches of East Asia and colonial powers in Europe, finally exists. Thanks to melting in the Arctic region (ahem, climate change), countries like Russia and Canada are racing to take advantage of the time-saving shipping routes being created. And the first ship to cross through the Northwest Passage created by environmental recklessness is carrying coal.

Read it at the Wall Street Journal

It’s Not Obama’s Debt

Pool photo by Andrew Burton

House Republicans seem to hold the president responsible for the entire national debt—forgetting it was racked up by Republicans and Democrats alike. Daniel Gross explains with a chart.

The debt-limit drama is heating up. By mid-October, the U.S. government will run out of the legal authority to issue new debt. That means it won’t really be able to operate. On cue, the House Republicans have now released their enormous, exorbitant, foolish list of demands in exchange for lifting the debt limit. Obama has refused to negotiate on the topic. House Republicans, by contrast, are begging for him to enter talks. Their theory seems to be that in exchange for giving President Obama something that he wants (but that they don’t want to give), he should give them a bunch of things they want (but that he doesn’t want to give).

NETWORKING

Apple, China Mobile Deal May Be Coming Soon

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Investors may be getting an early holiday present, as Apple and China's largest mobile carrier appear close to announcing a deal.

By Cadie ThompsonApple may be about to finally announce a deal with China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier.Posters leaked on Thursday show China Mobile may be getting ready for an advertising campaign to promote Apple's iPhone finally coming to its customers.The posters, which were picked up by the website Unwiredview.com, show that China Mobile, which has about 700 million subscribers, is going to carry Apple's iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.

NI HAO

Yahoo!’s China Surge

Chance Chan/Reuters

CEO Marissa Mayer is getting a lot of buzz. But Yahoo!’s stock is on a roll largely because of its stake in Chinese e-retailer Alibaba—which is about to go public.

Things have been heating up recently at Yahoo! (Don’t believe me? Google it).Over the past year, as the chart above shows, Yahoo!’s stock has been on a steady rise, rising from well below $20 to now just over $32 a share – the highest level in nearly seven years. The company is now worth about $33 billion.So what’s behind the newfound love affair? Yahoo is still basically a bit player in search, with only 11.4 percent of the market. And, according to Ad Age, changes in the ad market and a shift of users to mobile devices has led to an 11 percent decline in Yahoo!’s core business of selling big display ads.

PLEASE, SIR

Mr. Dimon Goes to Washington

To meet with attorney general.

For the last several years, JPMorgan Chase has been fending off, fighting, and settling a slew of expensive legal and regulatory investigations. And that has left CEO Jamie Dimon eager to get the crisis-era woes behind him. To that end, Dimon has trekked to Washington to get personally involved in the latest potential deal—this one to settle investigations relating to mortgage practices in the credit-boom years. Amid reports that the government may be seeking as much as $11 billion to settle, Dimon is meeting directly with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Read it at CNBC

TROUBLE

Cybercrime Ring Hacks Lexis-Nexis

And two other large U.S. data companies.

If you thought hacking season was over, think again. A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed Wednesday night that an investigation has been launched into potentially massive security breaches of three U.S. data companies, one of them, Lexis-Nexis. News of the hacks was broken earlier in the week by security blogger Brian Krebs on his website, krebsonsecurity. The multi-faceted attack was allegedly carried out by a cybercrime drug ring that stole Social Security numbers, birthdays, and other private information to later sell for profit. According to Krebs, the attackers may have had access to servers at Lexis-Nexis and elsewhere for up to six months.

Read it at The New York Times

HIRING

Part-Time Nation

Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor, via Getty

Today’s economy gives companies the ability to get by without adding many full-time workers. But companies should also take pains to ensure that part-time work isn’t inferior work.

A large portion of the U.S. workforce is now permanently working part-time. The expectation that an improving economy would ease millions of unhappy part-time workers back into full time jobs hasn't come to fruition. And with the agonizing slow rise in retail sales, it's unlikely to change anytime soon. How these part-time workers are recruited, trained, and motivated will have a decisive impact on the direction of our economy.

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Shame on You, Walmart!

With an Ohio Walmart hosting a holiday food drive for its own workers, The Daily Beast's Michael Tomasky criticizes the notoriously stingy company for not paying them more.

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Business

Daniel Gross

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