The week that was for 6/17/12
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We've got an on-time state budget and gas prices are down, but the roiling European economy has given markets a bad case of indigestion. We should find out in a few days if that ailment is among those covered under national health care reform.
The long-awaited Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act health reform law, including the controversial individual mandate, should finally arrive this week. Media outlets have speculated for weeks about which day a ruling would come down, with the Huffington Post website displaying the giant, bold-faced headline "LOOMING" over a portrait of the justices Thursday morning, replaced by "WAIT ANOTHER WEEK" a few hours later when it became clear Thursday was not the day.
Europe's Whac-A-Mole economy reared its ugly head again last week. Just as Greece voted pro-austerity to (very) briefly calm the markets, Spain's noggin popped up with news that its borrowing rate had exceeded an unsustainable 7 percent, despite a massive bailout of Spanish banks the week before. Now it appears that Cyprus may need a bailout as well.
Microsoft made a hard move into the computer hardware market as it unveiled a tablet computer named Surface, which it hopes will challenge Apple's popular iPad. It features a 10.6-inch screen, either 32 or 64 gigs of storage, and a detachable cover that also is a keyboard.
Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher is one of the investors in Duolingo, a language translation website developed by Carnegie Mellon University's Luis von Ahn, who was a MacArthur genius grant recipient in 2006, and doctoral student Severin Hacker. The program uses a combination of computer exercises and real-world texts to help people learn new languages.
Germany apparel maker Adidas revealed plans to roll out a new sneaker that came with rubber shackles attached. The accompanying odd-enough-on-its-own slogan, "Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?" was quickly drowned out by criticism from people with at least a basic awareness of America's slavery history. "Wow," wrote one commenter, "obviously there was no one of color in the room when the marketing/product team OK'd this." Adidas canceled plans to market the sneaker.
Next year's state budget includes a funding restoration for Pennsylvania's publicly funded universities, which had faced a 30 percent cut ... home sales revenue was up 23.3 percent from a year ago in May as 30-year fixed rate mortgages fell to a record low of 3.66 percent ... and local gas prices dropped 2.8 cents to just under $3.50 a gallon.
First Published June 24, 2012 12:00 am