Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

  • FIRST LOOK: Beware of falling birds in Arkansas

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • Thousands of dead birds are falling from the sky in Arkansas, stumping wildlife officials. (Reuters)

    • A new investment values Facebook at $50 billion. (NYT)

    • President Obama is expected to name a new top economic adviser this week. (Washington Post)

    • The Navy is investigating a "lewd" video shown on a ship to troops. (AP)

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  • Polar bears destroy BBC documentary cameras

    BBC documentary cameras are no match, it turns out, for the destructive curiosity of your average polar bear. Producers of the BBC show "Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice" thought they could outwit their documentary subjects on the Arctic islands of Svalbard by concealing weather-resistant high-tech cameras inside casings that mimicked the look of ice floes and other snow formations. The idea, apparently, was to capture the unguarded rounds of polar bear life in the species' natural habitat, in the general style of the successful Animal Planet franchise "Meerkat Manor."

    [Photos: More polar bear images]

    But the inquisitive bears weren't taken in by the ruse. The cameras were designed to survive in temperatures as low as -40 degree Celsius, but once they came in the sights--and more important, the grip--of wandering polar bears, they were soon clawed, gnawed and crushed into state of total dysfunction. The heroic cameras in some instances caught the moment of their own demise.

    [Video: Surfer records great white sharks circling beneath his board]

    You can watch the bear-camera smackdown after the jump. (Hat tip: Gizmodo.)

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  • Report: Goldman Sachs bonuses could hit record low

    AP070228010966Goldman Sachs bankers may take home their slimmest bonus checks in years, according to a new Credit Suisse report.

    "We expect full year comp expense to be accrued at 40.4% of revenues, the second lowest level since Goldman has been a public firm, reflective of both [management] discipline and the impact of new hires over the past year," the Credit Suisse report says. The report also says that rival investment bank Morgan Stanley will also see its compensation rate go down to 51 percent of revenues, the Wall Street Journal points out.

    Another analyst has targeted both investment banks in a new report, lowering his earnings estimates for the firms in the fourth quarter of 2010 and in 2011.

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  • The top 5 feuds of 2010

    AP100930056484What's a year without a few good feuds? Here at The Lookout, we try to stay firmly grounded in the substance of debates, but sometimes it's fun to get down in the mud a bit. Here's a look at five important, silly, and/or ugly fights we covered this past year.

    1. Angry homeowners vs. Bank of America

    Zachary Roth describes the plight of one Arizona family who entered a purgatory of confusion, delays, and stonewalling when they tried to modify their home loan with Countrywide, now Bank of America. The attorneys general for Nevada and Arizona are speaking up on behalf of the states' families, accusing the bank of "widespread fraud" and deliberately misleading borrowers about the terms of their loans. In a new twist, more homeowners are suing Bank of America and JP Morgan for illegal breaking and entering, alleging that the banks wrongly foreclosed on their homes and then entered and had the locks changed and electricity shut off.

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  • Employers turn away Iraq, Afghanistan veterans

    AP081015052426Soldiers are returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq only to receive the cold shoulder from potential employers, reports The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher.

    Ten percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were unemployed in November, compared to the 9.1 percent of non-veterans who did not have jobs. Veterans' employment rate has trailed that of non-vets since at least 2005.

    Employers' apparent disregard for the veteran talent pool is undermining "the central recruiting promises of the nation's all-volunteer force: that serving in the military will make them more marketable in civilian life," experts told the Post.

    "Everybody says, 'We support the troops,'" 22-year-old Marine vet Calvin Artis told The Post. "But a lot of people turn away when it is time to return the favor."

    Artis finally landed a $7.50/hour part-time job working at Quick Chek, a convenience store in Manchester, New Jersey, in September. Artis says the skills he learned as a Marine aren't appreciated in the job market. One hiring manager pointed at him and said to a colleague: "Guess what he used to do? He used to shoot people."

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  • The year’s 5 most moving ‘It Gets Better’ videos

    One powerful story of the new viral uses of media was the YouTube campaign sending messages of hope to gay and lesbian teens who are being bullied or contemplating suicide. Sex columnist Dan Savage told The Lookout he started the "It Gets Better" campaign after reading about a spate of suicides this fall of young gay teens whose families said they were being bullied at school.

    Savage and his partner posted a video where they shared their stories of being bullied and then eventually finding happiness. It soon went viral, and even President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined in.

    It's hard to choose, but here are our nominees for the five most powerful "It Gets Better" statements:

    1. Dan Savage

    Savage and his partner Terry Miller spoke about being bullied growing up. "High school was bad," Savage says in the beginning of the video, adding that he was "obviously gay, and some kids didn't like that." Miller says he was "picked on mercilessly" in school, while administrators told his parents there was nothing they could do if he "acted that way." Miller says things got better "the day I left high school," while Savage said: "However bad it is now, it gets better. And it can get great."

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  • Only 8,000 people have signed up for new high-risk pools

    A key part of the new health care law that provides special insurance pools for high-risk customers is not attracting enough clients due to high premiums and other problems, The Washington Post reports.

    State directors of the high-risk pools say they may just be experiencing growing pains as Americans are only now learning the insurance is available. But expensive premiums and fears the health-care law may be reversed are also scaring customers away.

    The stakes of the program's success or failure are high, as the Post's Amy Goldstein explains:

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  • 5 things to watch in immigration debate next year

    AP101218128623Next year poses a key test for President Obama's immigration strategy. Facing very different legislative priorities from a GOP-run House, the White House won't be able to continue toeing the fine line between ramping up deportations to an all-time high and pushing for comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship.

    On Dec. 18, Republican senators joined by five Democrats filibustered the DREAM Act, arguably the least controversial piece of Obama's proposed immigration reform. The bill would have let young immigrants who were brought into the country when they were children become legal residents if they joined college or the military. The DREAM Act would also have lowered the deficit in its first ten years (though its long-term cost was unclear)--and even its fiercest opponents admitted the young activists advocating for its passage had done nothing wrong and seemed hard working and sincere.

    But the "no amnesty" argument won out, and it appears likely to be the dominant refrain in the new Congress, which means Obama must be looking for a new plan. With all this uncertainty, it was hard to narrow down the top five trends to look out for in the immigration debate next year. But we persevered, and you can see the results after the jump.

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  • Retailers enjoy biggest holiday shopping boom since 2005

    AP101126040258Americans are shopping like it's 2005! Retail sales between early November and Dec. 24 jumped 5.5 percent, The Wall Street Journal reports, using data from MasterCard retail analysts.

    That's the biggest holiday spike since 2005, before the recession convinced many Americans to hold onto their cash, even in the season of giving.

    One potential snag in the spending spree, however, is the massive holiday storm that blanketed much of the Northeast after Christmas Eve, which retailers feared kept shoppers home for big annual day-after-Christmas sales. One analyst says East Coast shoppers should expect big New Year's sales, instead, since retailers "are scared to death" of having leftover winter inventory after January.

    The Journal also points out that rising gas prices--with average national gas prices topping $3 a gallon for the first time since 2008--could mean an end to the country's recent retail binge.

    (Shoppers Nov. 26 in an Arlington, VA mall: AP.)

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  • FINAL LOOK: U.N. investigates accused WikiLeaker Manning’s prison conditions

    NOTE: We'll be off tomorrow for the holidays, but we'll be back next week covering breaking news and wrapping up some of our favorite stories of the year. First and Final Look link roundups will be back next year.

    Here is our roster of stories that managed to avoid the full-on blog treatment today:

    • The U.N. is investigating whether the alleged WikiLeaks leaker is being treated humanely. (Al-Jazeera)

    • Defense Secretary Gates warns troops "Don't ask, don't tell" law is still in effect. (CNN)

    • Sewage has spilled into the beach where the Obamas are vacationing. (Hawaii Reporter)

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