By Jake Grovum, Stateline
In this April 24, 2012, file photo, job seeker Alan Shull attends a job fair in Portland, Ore. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
The effects of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression are forcing changes on state governments and the U.S. economy that could linger for decades.
By one Federal Reserve estimate, the country lost almost an entire year's worth of economic activity - nearly $14 trillion - during the recession from 2007 to 2009.
The deep and persistent losses of the recession forced states to make broad cuts in spending and public workforces. For businesses, the recession led to changes in expansion plans and worker compensation. And for individual Americans, it has meant a future postponed, as fewer buy houses and start families.
Five years after the financial crash, the country is still struggling to recover.
"In the aftermath of [previous] recessions there were strong recoveries. That is not true this time around,' said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "This is more like the pace getting out of the Great Depression.'
A Lost Decade in Housing
For years, housing served as the backbone of economic growth and as an investment opportunity that propelled generations of Americans into the middle class. But the financial crisis burst the housing bubble and devastated the real estate market, leaving millions facing foreclosure, millions more underwater, and generally stripping Americans of years' worth of accumulated wealth.
Anthony B. Sanders, a professor of real estate finance at George Mason University, said even the nascent housing recovery can't escape the effects of the recession.
Home values may have rebounded, he said, but the factors driving that recovery are very different than those that drove the growth in the market in the 1990s and 2000s. Sanders said more than half of recent home purchases have been made in cash, which signals investors and hedge funds are taking advantage of cheap properties. That could freeze out average buyers and also means little real economic growth underpins those sales.
Those effects are clear in homeownership rates, which continue to decline. In the second quarter of this year, the U.S. homeownership rate was 65.1 percent, according to Census Bureau data, the lowest since 1995. In the mid-2000s, it topped 69 percent, capping a steady pace of growth that began after the early 1990s recession.show more
By Michael Graczyk, The Associated Press
A knife is collected for evidence outside Spring High School Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, in Spring, Texas. At least one person has been killed and others injured in an altercation at the high school in suburban Houston. The Harris County Sheriff's Office did not say whether the people involved in the fight about 7 a.m. Wednesday at Spring High School were all students. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
SPRING, Texas - A fight inside a Houston-area high school escalated into a series of stabbings Wednesday that left a 17-year-old student dead and three others wounded, sheriff's officials said.
The stabbings happened during a fight between several students in a school corridor. The Harris County Sheriff's Office said 17-year-old student Luis Alonzo Alfaro pulled a knife during the fight and fatally stabbed one student and wounded three others.
Alfaro admitted to the stabbing under questioning by sheriff's homicide detectives and was charged with murder, the Sheriff's Office said in a statement released Wednesday evening.
People look out a window inside Spring High School as students are loaded onto to buses Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, in Spring, Texas, after a 17-year-old student was stabbed to death and three others were injured in a fight at the Houston-area high school. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Sheriff's spokesman Alan Bernstein referred queries about whether Alfaro had an attorney to the district clerk's website, which had not been updated as of Wednesday night. Alfaro also was not yet listed in the jail's booking system.
Authorities provided few details on what may have led to the fight, and no other information was available on the teenager who was killed.
"We believe a confrontation of some sort occurred ... that ultimately led into a physical confrontation that produced weapons," Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. "There has been some information that this may have been gang related."
School district officials canceled classes at the high school for the rest of the week.
Some parents said the fight was the continuation of a disturbance that broke out Tuesday. Officials at the school, which has about 3,500 students, would not confirm their comments.show more
By Staff, Relaxnews
In July, Volvo demonstrated a host of autonomous and active features including Adaptive Cruise Control with steer assist technology. (Roger Lundsten/BLR/Volvo Cars)
A number of carmakers, with Nissan being the latest, claim that they are on track to deliver affordable, self-driving cars to their customers by 2020.
This week, ABI Research published its latest report on the future of autonomous cars and made some very bold statements. Chief among which was that truly self-driving cars would become a reality by 2020 and that by 2032, in the US at least, 10 million such new cars would be rolling out of the showrooms and on to the public highways every year.
Immediately after the report was published, Nissan head Carlos Ghosn announced that it is on track to make self-driving cars a reality by the same date -- 2020 -- and that it was even building its own artificial townscapes with junctions, crossing and other traffic infrastructure in order to accelerate the development process. "I am committing to be ready to introduce a new ground-breaking technology, Autonomous Drive, by 2020, and we are on track to realize it," he said.show more
By Staff, Relaxnews
Can't put it down? A new treatment center in the US is opening to help people cope with serious Internet addictions. (rangizzz/shutterstock.com)
Internet addiction is no joke -- and now the U.S. is opening the nation's first hospital-based Internet addiction program in Pennsylvania.
Opening Sept. 9, Bradford Regional Medical Center in Bradford, Pa., has been garnering plenty of media buzz for its voluntary 10-day program for people with serious Internet issues. While a slew of "digital detox" programs are offered in the country, this program can intervene with medication, if needed, to treat withdrawal symptoms and diagnose and treat the underlying issues that often accompany the problem.
Research has found that Internet addicts and drug addicts experience similar withdrawal symptoms, especially when going cold turkey. A 2006 study by Stanford University's School of Medicine found that nearly one in eight Americans suffers from at least one sign of "problematic Internet use" -- such as the inability to stop looking at their phones or computers for an extended period of time. A Harvard University study last year also found that posting views on Facebook and other social media sites triggers the release of dopamine, the same pleasure-inducing chemical emitted by the brain when a person ingests cocaine or methamphetamine.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government is introducing a novel solution to the country's half a million web-addicted teens: Internet "fasting camps," where kids can enjoy the great outdoors, no gadgets allowed. According to a report in The Japan Times,
Japan's Education Ministry plans to set up the camps next year, offering addicted students a chance to unplug from their computers and smartphones, enjoy some time in the real world, and face their addictions head-on with tablet-free counseling sessions and lectures.
By BOB AUDETTE / Reformer Staff
Frank Caraballo, 29, of Brattleboro
BRATTLEBORO -- Frank Caraballo murdered Melissa Barratt on July 28, 2011, because he suspected her of stealing a safe from him containing thousands of dollars worth of drugs, according to court documents.
In a text message sent by Joshua Makhanda Lopez shortly after the alleged murder of Barratt, he wrote: "Sumbody stole $50,000 worth of material frm me n my bro n only ppl round was me my bro n (Barratt) so we had to take care of (it)."
Makhanda Lopez has been accused of driving the vehicle in which Barratt was last seen before her body was found in the woods off of East West Road in Dummerston.
According to court documents, Makhanda Lopez, who witnessed the shooting of Barratt by Caraballo, has accepted a plea agreement in exchange for his testimony. Details of the plea agreement have been sealed by the court.
Between Aug. 30 and Sept. 3, attorneys for the prosecution and for the defense have filed a flurry of motions in anticipation of Caraballo's trial, which is scheduled to begin on Sept. 16 in Rutland.show more