Tag: finance

Last Tax Season Was a Mess. Now’s Time to Prepare for This One.

If you didn’t change the tax withholding in your paycheck, you still have time to avoid another unpleasant surprise — or even a fine.

The first tax season under the Republican-sponsored overhaul brought an odd combination of pleasant and unpleasant surprises: lower tax burdens, but also lower refunds — and, for some, an unexpected bill.

Anyone who didn’t take a proactive approach after getting a big tax bill last time around could end up in that situation again, only worse: That filer is more likely to have to pay a penalty.

For 2019, taxpayers who didn’t generally withhold at least 90 percent of their liability from their paychecks may be required to pay a fine. That threshold is back up from 80 percent, where it was set last year as everyone adjusted to the new rules.

If you didn’t change your withholding by filling out a new W-4 form with your employer, there are still steps you can take to try to avoid the extra charge.

If a withholding calculator — like the one on the Internal Revenue Service’s website — shows you’re significantly short, you have options. There may be time to have an extra amount withheld from your final paycheck to get you over the threshold, although that will require filling out a W-4 now and another later to reverse that change. Or you can make what’s called an estimated tax payment directly to the I.R.S.

You’ll also want to think about how to handle the rest of the tax balance.

“You can start planning for that now by setting aside money in savings accounts or planning ahead for an installment agreement with the I.R.S. so you can pay over a period of time,” said Nathan Rigney, lead tax research analyst at H&R Block’s Tax Institute.

Most households did pay a bit less because of the overhaul: Individuals’ total tax liability dropped nearly 5.8 percent, or $70 billion, according to I.R.S. data on tax returns filed through July.

But it didn’t feel that way for some taxpayers. The number of refunds issued hardly budged — they were down 0.3 percent — but refunds for many were smaller. Refunds for those who earned between $100,000 and $250,000, for example, dropped by about 11 percent, according to the I.R.S.

Many people were surprised to learn that they owed the government money even if their situation hadn’t changed.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/06/your-money/taxes/income-tax-2019-tip.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

Social Security impostor scam: It’s growing, and this is how it works

To scammers, your Social Security number is a gold-plated and diamond-encrusted asset, and now they have a new way to try to steal yours and get paid.

Consumer advocates are raising an alert about a twist to an old impostor phone scam. It’s called the “Social Security impostor scam.” A blog at the Federal Trade Commission recently wrote: “In the shady world of government, the SSA scam may be the new IRS scam.”

Here’s how it works:

You get a call with a warning that your Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity or because it’s been used in a crime. You are asked to confirm you number or told you need to withdraw money from the bank and buy gift cards.

The phone call may be a robocaller with a message to “press 1” to speak with a “support representative” from the government to reactivate your Social Security number. The scammers use technology to spoof your Caller ID to make it look like the Social Security Administration is really calling.

More: New scam aims to trick you into giving up your cell phone account information

More: These robocalls don’t want to talk to you, they just want you to call back, FCC says

In the last 12 months, people filed more than 76,000 complaints about Social Security impostors, reporting $19 million in losses. The median reported loss last year was $1,500, the FTC said.

People are asked to give up the personal identification numbers (PINs) on the back of gift cards or use virtual currencies like Bitcoin to pay. (According to the FTC’s consumer alert, people withdrew money and fed cash into Bitcoin automatic teller machines.)

After handing over the gift card numbers to the “Social Security office,” one consumer interviewed by Fraud.org was told he would receive a refund equal to the amount he paid to unfreeze his account from the Federal Reserve. Of course, the refund never came and the man lost nearly $20,000. 

“One scammer will try a new twist on an old scam or try one new wrinkle that gets them more money,” said John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud with the National Consumers League. “Scammers like to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to using the latest techniques to defraud consumers.”

The scammers can be clever. With numerous data breaches that have hit corporate America, fraudsters may already have accurate personal information about you, including your real Social Security number, Breyault said. The information is used to build trust and make the call seem more legitimate, he added.

According to Fraud.org and the FTC, here are some important things to remember:

  • Don’t trust your phone’s caller ID. Scammers can make it look as if the Social Security Administration is calling and even use the agency’s real number.
  • Don’t give your Social Security number, other personal information, to a caller on the phone.
  • Social Security will never suspend your number, according to Fraud.org. If anyone tells you something different, you’re being scammed.
  • Social Security will never call you and demand money. No government agency will demand you pay something using gift cards or Bitcoin either.
  • If you have a question, check with the real Social Security Administration. The administration will never contact you out of the blue. The agency’s number is 1-800-772-1213.
  • Talk about the scam with friends, family and neighbors. Report government impostor scams to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Hidden From View: The Astonishingly High Administrative Costs of U.S. Health Care

It takes only a glance at a hospital bill or at the myriad choices you may have for health care coverage to get a sense of the bewildering complexity of health care financing in the United States. That complexity doesn’t just exact a cognitive cost. It also comes with administrative costs that are largely hidden from view but that we all pay.

Because they’re not directly related to patient care, we rarely think about administrative costs. They’re high.

A widely cited study published in The New England Journal of Medicine used data from 1999 to estimate that about 30 percent of American health care expenditures were the result of administration, about twice what it is in Canada. If the figures hold today, they mean that out of the average of about $19,000 that U.S. workers and their employers pay for family coverage each year, $5,700 goes toward administrative costs.

Such costs aren’t all bad. Some are tied up in things we may want, such as creating a quality improvement program. Others are for things we may dislike — for example, figuring out which of our claims to accept or reject or sending us bills. Others are just necessary, like processing payments; hiring and managing doctors and other employees; or maintaining information systems.

That New England Journal of Medicine study is still the only one on administrative costs that encompasses the entire health system. Many other more recent studies examine important portions of it, however. The story remains the same: Like the overall cost of the U.S. health system, its administrative cost alone is No. 1 in the world.


Using data from 2010 and 2011, one study, published in Health Affairs, compared hospital administrative costs in the United States with those in seven other places: Canada, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

At just over 25 percent of total spending on hospital care (or 1.4 percent of total United States economic output), American hospital administrative costs exceed those of all the other places. The Netherlands was second in hospital administrative costs: almost 20 percent of hospital spending and 0.8 percent of that country’s G.D.P.

At the low end were Canada and Scotland, which both spend about 12 percent of hospital expenditures on administration, or about half a percent of G.D.P.

Hospitals are not the only source of high administrative spending in the United States. Physician practices also devote a large proportion of revenue to administration. By one estimate, for every 10 physicians providing care, almost seven additional people are engaged in billing-related activities.

It is no surprise then that a majority of American doctors say that generating bills and collecting payments is a major problem. Canadian practices spend only 27 percent of what U.S. ones do on dealing with payers like Medicare or private insurers.

Another study in Health Affairs surveyed physicians and physician practice administrators about billing tasks. It found that doctors spend about three hours per week dealing with billing-related matters. For each doctor, a further 19 hours per week are spent by medical support workers. And 36 hours per week of administrators’ time is consumed in this way. Added together, this time costs an additional $68,000 per year per physician (in 2006). Because these are administrative costs, that’s above and beyond the cost associated with direct provision of medical care.

In JAMA, scholars from Harvard and Duke examined the billing-related costs in an academic medical center. Their study essentially followed bills through the system to see how much time different types of medical workers spent in generating and processing them.

At the low end, such activities accounted for only 3 percent of revenue for surgical procedures, perhaps because surgery is itself so expensive. At the high end, 25 percent of emergency department visit revenue went toward billing costs. Primary care visits were in the middle, with billing functions accounting for 15 percent of revenue, or about $100,000 per year per primary care provider.

“The extraordinary costs we see are not because of administrative slack or because health care leaders don’t try to economize,” said Kevin Schulman, a co-author of the study and a professor of medicine at Duke. “The high administrative costs are functions of the system’s complexity.”

Costs related to billing appear to be growing. A literature review by Elsa Pearson, a policy analyst with the Boston University School of Public Health, found that in 2009 they accounted for about 14 percent of total health expenditures. By 2012, the figure was closer to 17 percent.

One obvious source of complexity of the American health system is its multiplicity of payers. A typical hospital has to contend not just with several public health programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, but also with many private insurers, each with its own set of procedures and forms (whether electronic or paper) for billing and collecting payment. By one estimate, 80 percent of the billing-related costs in the United States are because of contending with this added complexity.

Read More:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/upshot/costs-health-care-us.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

A PR firestorm around Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s $5.5 billion Detroit project shows that money isn’t the biggest challenge he faces in revitalizing the city

Dan Gilbert, the billionaire owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has been transforming downtown Detroit for almost a decade. Since moving his mortgage company Quicken Loans to the neighborhood in 2010, he’s invested $3.5 billion (with $2.1 billion in development) through his real estate firm Bedrock.

With a roster of around 100 properties in or around the downtown area, it’s the most ambitious private project in Detroit, a city that recently survived bankruptcy and had developed a reputation around the world as a ghost town, a post-apocalyptic shell of a once great American city.

But even though Detroit’s downtown is now filled with bright new storefronts, renovated office buildings, and fast-moving construction sites, it’s still a city of around 670,000 people who have dealt with years of strife, corruption, neglect, and poverty. Many Detroiters are rightfully skeptical of change. And that came to a head last year, when a Bedrock ad sparked a major controversy in July.

If you don’t live in Detroit or aren’t aware of its history, the ad, which primarily features a crowd of young adults with the words, “See Detroit Like We Do,” may seem benign. But the lack of context that went into it is exactly why it became such a problem, and why it shows that community relations, not access to capital, is the biggest challenge in Gilbert’s massive undertaking.


In a city that is 80% black and largely working class, the poster seemed to communicate that Bedrock stood for a new Detroit for and by white people working for their companies, where a white downtown could thrive while minority neighborhoods would continue to languish. Local Detroit media ran with the story and it blew up on social media in the worst way possible.

Business Insider spoke with Gilbert in May, for an episode of our podcast “Success! How I Did It,” and he explained why he publicly apologized for and denounced the poster.

As he wrote in a Facebook post last year, “Although not intended to create the kind of feelings it did, the slogan/statement we used on these graphics was tone deaf, in poor taste and does not reflect a single value or philosophy that we stand for at Bedrock Development or in our entire Family of companies.”

Gilbert told us that Bedrock had developed a variety of ads featuring a diverse group of people around the city (he posted the full ad series on Facebook). A contractor they hired put up the first ad downtown and planned on finishing the rest on Monday. But Gilbert acknowledged that regardless of the images used, he found the slogan itself condescending and had not personally approved  it.

“Who cares how ‘we see Detroit’?!” he wrote on Facebook. “What is important is that Detroit comes together as a city that is open, diverse, inclusive and is being redeveloped in a way that offers opportunities for all of its people and the expected numerous new residents that will flock to our energized, growing, job-producing town where grit, hard-work and brains meld together to raise the standard of living of all of its people.”

But even after the poster was taken down and the slogan abandoned, Gilbert needs to convince remaining skeptics in the city that Bedrock and the rest of the Rock Ventures companies. He told us his companies employ 4,000 people in Detroit, and that they have been instrumental in blight removal (destroying abandoned or ruined properties) and the rejuvenation of homes outside of downtown. He also acknowledged that Rock Ventures could have a better line of communication with the neighborhoods outside of the downtown area, and that his Detroit project is indeed holistic.

“There’s no way businesses can be successful by having really bad neighborhoods and a successful downtown,” he told us. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

The Cities Where African-Americans Are Doing The Best Economically 2018

26goldbergWeb-master768The 2007 housing crisis was particularly tough on African-Americans, as well as Hispanics, extinguishing much of their already miniscule wealth. Industrial layoffs, particularly in the Midwest, made things worse. However the rising economic tide of the past few years has started to lift more boats. The African-American unemployment rate fell to 6.8% in December, the lowest level since the government started keeping tabs in 1972. Although that’s 3.1 percentage points worse than whites, the gap is the slimmest on record. A tightening labor market since 2015 has also driven up wages of black workers, many of whom are employed in manufacturing and other historically middle and lower-wage service industries.

There’s still much room for economic improvement for the nation’s black community — the income gap with whites remains considerably higher than it was in 2000, with the median black household earning 35.5% less — but as we pay homage to Martin Luther King this week, the record low unemployment rate is a cause for celebration. President Trump has predictably taken credit for the good news, but kudos more likely should go to those states and metropolitan areas that have created the conditions for black progress.

The gains have not been evenly spread. To determine where African-Americans are faring the best economically, we evaluated America’s 53 largest metropolitan statistical areas based on three critical factors that we believe are indicators of middle-class success: the home ownership rate as of 2016; entrepreneurship, as measured by the self-employment rate in 2017; and 2016 median household income. In addition, we added a fourth category, demographic trends, measuring the change in the African-American population from 2010 to 2016 in these metro areas, to judge how the community is “voting with its feet.” Each factor was given equal weight.

The South Also Rises

One of the great ironies of our time is that the best opportunities for African-Americans now lie in the South, from which so many fled throughout much of the 20th century. In the past few decades, many good jobs have moved South and blacks, like many whites and Hispanics, have followed.

The South dominated the previous version of this ranking, developed through the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, three years ago, and still does. All of the top 10 metro areas are in the South, led in a tie for the No. 1 spot by Washington, DC-VA-MD-WV and Atlanta, which was our previous leader.

Washington, with its ample supply of well-paid federal jobs, is the metro area where blacks have the highest median household income in the nation: $69,246. Amid rising home prices, the black home ownership rate has dipped to 48.3% from 49.2%, but that’s still fourth highest among the largest metro areas.

Atlanta, with its historically black universities and strong middle class, has long been described as the black capital of America, and its thriving entertainment scene has given rise to claims that it’s become a cultural capital as well. Entrepreneurship is strong, with some 20% of the metro area’s black working population self-employed, the highest proportion in the nation, and though median black household income is quite a bit lower than in the D.C. area at $48,161, costs are lower too. In-migration has slowed since the financial crisis, but the black population is still up 14.7% since 2010.

Atlanta and Washington are followed in our ranking by Austin, Texas, Baltimore and Raleigh, N.C., with the rest of the top 20 rounded out exclusively by Southern cities, except for Boston in 19th place.

Two key determinants seem to be driving these rankings: homeownership and self-employment, traditional benchmarks of entering the middle class. All of the top 10 boast homeownership rates that match or well exceed the black national average of 41 percent. (It should be noted that the national average is a full third lower than the national average for all ethnicities.)

These patterns hold up as well for income. Black incomes have been rising most rapidly since 2010 in largely fast-growing Sun Belt locales, as analyst and Forbes contributor Pete Saunders has found, such as Nashville, Raleigh and Austin. It appears as if the fastest income gains are generally being made in the places where other ethnic groups are advancing as well. After Washington, the metro areas where blacks have the highest annual household incomes are San Jose ($65,400), the capital of Silicon Valley, and No. 4 Baltimore ($53,200), which like Washington has a huge federal employment base.

Gallery: Where African-Americans Are Doing The Best Economically

The New Great Migration

Perhaps the most persuasive indicator of African-American trends lies in population growth. During the period of the Great Migration out of the south in the early 20th century, an estimated 6 million blacks headed north and west to cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis. But now the tide is reversing, with the African-American population dropping in the latter three over the past six years, as well as in San Francisco and cities with fading industrial cores like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee.

In contrast the metro areas whose African-American populations have expanded the most since 2010 are the South and Sun Belt: Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Phoenix.

In some cases it’s clear that blacks are leaving for better economic opportunities. In others, high housing prices may play a role: In Los Angeles and San Francisco the black homeownership rate is about 9 percentage points lower than the major metro average.

In San Francisco the black community seems headed toward irrelevance and extinction as tech workers have driven up home prices to unprecedented levels; the metropolitan area’s African-American population has dropped 6.3% from 2010.

The situation is particularly dire in California where strict land-use and housing regulations have been associated with increases in home prices relative to income of 3.5 times the rest of the nation since 1995. In coastal California, African-Americans face prices from more than two to nine times their annual incomes than non-Hispanic whites. African-American homeownership rates in California are down 17% in the Golden State compared to a decline of 11% for Hispanics and 6% for non-Hispanic whites. Asian homeownership rates have stayed the same.

Blacks, like many other Americans, are likely to continue to move, as Pete Saunders notes, to cities that are both high growth and relatively low cost. In these cities, housing and land use policies generally allow the market to function, resulting in lower home prices and greater housing choice. Business investment and job creation are also strongly backed. Blacks, like others, are moving to these places for opportunity.

 In many cases this means a reversal of the Great Migration and a return trip to parts of the country now far more accommodating to black aspirations than those places which once provided the greatest opportunities.

The Trump Administration to Restaurants: Take the Tips!

Most Americans assume that when they leave a tip for waiters and bcapital-one-credit-cardartenders, those workers pocket the money. That could become wishful thinking under a Trump administration proposal that would give restaurants and other businesses complete control over the tips earned by their employees.

The Department of Labor recently proposed allowing employers to pool tips and use them as they see fit as long as all of their workers are paid at least the minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour nationally and higher in some states and cities. Officials argue that this will free restaurants to use some of the tip money to reward lowly dishwashers, line cooks and other workers who toil in the less glamorous quarters and presumably make less than servers who get tips. Using tips to compensate all employees sounds like a worthy cause, but a simple reading of the government’s proposal makes clear that business owners would have no obligation to use the money in this way. They would be free to pocket some or all of that cash, spend it to spiff up the dining room or use it to underwrite $2 margaritas at happy hour. And that’s what makes this proposal so disturbing.

The 3.2 million Americans who work as waiters, waitresses and bartenders include some of the lowest-compensated working people in the country. The median hourly wage for waiters and waitresses was $9.61 an hour last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, there is a sordid history of restaurant owners who steal tips, and of settlements in which they have agreed to repay workers millions of dollars.

News Headlines 02.28.13

Health law’s rules help hospitals cut patient readmission rate 
The law includes both penalties and incentives for better coordinating care for patients after they head home. 
( by N.C. Aizenman , The Washington Post) 

ICE release of illegal immigrants sparks political firestorm in Arizona 
Politicized controversy surrounds release of illegal immigrants from federal custody. 
( by Pamela Constable , The Washington Post) 
Limits on government travel could backfire 
House hearing looks at limits on government travel. Spending drops, but so could needed collaboration. 
(, The Washington Post) 
Millionaire’s Mars mission: To inspire the children (and to beat China there) 
Tito’s proposed high-risk, budget-class journey would (if achieved) smash the barrier to deep space. ( by Brian Vastag , The Washington Post) 

Prudence Bushnell on being a diplomat 
“If nobody’s in charge or cares, then you get policy disasters like Rwanda.” 
( by Tom Fox , The Washington Post) 
More National: Breaking National News & Headlines – Washington Post 

Montgomery police canvass for information on fatal crash 
Police are looking for witnesses to a hit-and-run Tuesday that killed a woman on Connecticut Avenue. 
( by St. John Barned-Smith , The Washington Post) 
Large families crowd D.C. shelters 
As homelessness in the District rises, large families linger in the city’s crowded main shelter. 
( by Annie Gowen , The Washington Post) 
6 teens indicted on murder charges in Woodley Park Metro stabbing 
Initially, only one teen had been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of Olijawon Griffin. 
( by Keith L. Alexander , The Washington Post) 
Alexandria police officer shot and wounded in Old Town 
Police said the officer is in serious condition. 
( by Allison Klein and Michael Alison Chandler , The Washington Post)
Metro’s deputy GM leaving 
In coming weeks, David Kubicek, who oversees rail operations, will be one of two high-level departures. 
( by Dana Hedgpeth , The Washington Post) 
More Post Local: Washington, DC Area News, Traffic, Weather, Sports & More – The Washington Post 

House to vote on Violence Against Women Act measures 
Republican leaders are prepared to allow a vote on a version favored by Democrats, pointing to GOP division. 
( by Rosalind S. Helderman , The Washington Post) 

In the Loop: A multilingual secretary 

Secretary of State John Kerry speaks French to the French, German to the Germans, and on it goes… 
(, The Washington Post) 

Michael A. Brown tries to rebound from loss of D.C. Council seat 
Michael A. Brown says he has been cleared by a federal investigation into missing campaign funds. 
( by Tim Craig , The Washington Post) 
Sequester spin gets ahead of reality 
How bad will the cuts really be? No one really knows. The dire warnings the reflect a lot of guesswork. 
( by Karen Tumulty and Lyndsey Layton , The Washington Post) 
Authorities say U-Md. shooter admitted self for treatment 
Governor’s gun-control bill would not have stopped subsequent gun purchases. 
( by Aaron C. Davis and Matt Zapotosky , The Washington Post) 
More Post Politics: Breaking Politics News, Political Analysis & More – The Washington Post 

Jimmy Kimmel and Morrissey feud over ‘Duck Dynasty’ 
The singer canceled an appearance on the late-night show. 
(, The Washington Post) 
On gun ownership, a right to privacy or a right to know? 
Newspapers face death threats over requests for public records on gun owners. 
( by Paul Farhi , The Washington Post) 
100 years later, activists will march in tradition of Inez Milholland 
Milholland sitting astride a white horse is the most iconic image of that 1913 march for women’s rights. 
( by Lonnae O’Neal Parker , The Washington Post) 
Hot-bar leftovers: To trash or not to trash? 
Supermarket chains take different approaches to the food the remains on their hot bars. 
( by Tim Carman , The Washington Post) 
Carolyn Hax: Husband is walking the line between caring and badgering 
He says that he cares about her health, but she says that he makes her feel like crud. 
(, The Washington Post) 

More Style: Culture, Arts, Ideas & More – The Washington Post 

Survey finds gap in Internet access between rich, poor students 
Vast majority of teachers rely on social media and other digital resources, Pew study says. 
( by Cecilia Kang , The Washington Post) 
Supreme Court defines SEC time limits for pursuing civil cases 
Court says the clock starts ticking when the violation takes place, not when it’s discovered. 
( by Dina ElBoghdady , The Washington Post) 
Senate confirms Lew as Treasury secretary 
Jack Lew gets Senate green light in a 71-26 vote just as economy faces potentially severe budget cuts. 
( by Jia Lynn Yang , The Washington Post) 
JPMorgan layoffs reflect some hope 
Many of the employees the nation’s largest bank is letting go were hired to deal with mortgages in default. 
( by Danielle Douglas , The Washington Post) 
conomic crisis ‘balkanized’ global finance 
Study documents continued collapse in global finance, pushing world system back by decades. 
( by Howard Schneider , The Washington Post) 

More Business News, Financial News, Business Headlines & Analysis – The Washington Post 

Terrapins suffer a damaging loss 
U-Md. falls to 1-6 on the road in the ACC and may need a deep run in the conference tournament to impress the NCAA selection committee. 
( by Alex Prewitt , The Washington Post) 
Vikings advance to 4A West final 
Whitman tops Walter Johnson, 49-42, to set up a region final matchup with Gaithersburg on Friday night. 
( by Roman Stubbs , The Washington Post) 
Capitals bullied, trounced by Flyers 
Starting goaltender Braden Holtby is chased in the second period after allowing four goals on 18 shots and Washington provides hardly any punch in a loss to Philadelphia. 
( by Katie Carrera , The Washington Post) 
Porter’s better half vaults Hoyas 
Otto Porter Jr. scores 21 of his 22 points after halftime, including the game-winner with 9.5 seconds to go in double overtime, as 7th-ranked Georgetown secures a 10th straight victory. 
( by Liz Clarke , The Washington Post) 
Jaguars dump Bowie to advance to region final 
De’Janae Boykin finishes with 18 points and 14 rebounds as No. 18 C.H. Flowers drops No. 17 Bowie to reach the Maryland 4A South final. 
( by Eric Detweiler , The Washington Post) 

More Sports: Sports News, Scores, Analysis, Schedules & More – The Washington Post 

Survey finds gap in Internet access between rich, poor students 
Vast majority of teachers rely on social media and other digital resources, Pew study says. 
( by Cecilia Kang , The Washington Post) 
Set up network security standards for the BYOD era now 
Tips for protecting your business in a bring-your-own-device world. 
( by Steve King | VentureBeat.com , VentureBeat.com) 

Samsung launches its own wallet app 
Like Apple’s Passbook, this mobile payment service gives users a digital place for their coupons and tickets. 
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post) 
What to expect from the Apple shareholders meeting 
Apple likely won’t be discussing a controversial proposal that landed the company in court. 
( by Hayley Tsukayama , The Washington Post) 
Why First Solar’s new world record for solar cell efficiency is important 
First Solar announced on Tuesday that it’s managed to create a record 18.7 percent solar cell, up from the 17.3 percent cell it touted in July 2011. Here’s why this is a big deal. 
( by Ucilia Wang | GigaOM.com , gigaom.com

More Technology News – The Washington Post 

After pope’s farewell message, the main event begins: The conclave 
Attention quickly shifts to conclave — and the important matter of timing. 
( by Jason Horowitz , The Washington Post) 
Envoys agree to hold more nuclear talks amid positive signals from Iran 
Iran hails possible “turning point” as negotiations with bloc of six world powers yield modest progress. 
( by Joby Warrick and Jason Rezaian , The Washington Post) 
Kerry: U.S. must help counter aid to Syria opposition from extremists 
The U.S. is preparing a package of broader financial and practical support for the Syrian rebels. 
( by Anne Gearan , The Washington Post) 
Japanese warn against Chinese smog 
Residents will be urged to stay indoors if the level of toxic smog from China gets too high. 
( by Michiyo Nakamoto | Financial Times , The Washington Post) 
Hagel pledges straight talk, loyalty to troops on first day at Pentagon 
The new defense secretary praises the military and says the agency will cope with the looming budget cuts. 
( by Craig Whitlock , The Washington Post) 
More World: World News, International News, Foreign Reporting – The Washington Post 

Ending dysfunction central 
Republicans need to act responsibly and replace the sequester. 
(, The Washington Post) 
Golden goose eggs 
After 100 years, the Federal Reserve’s record on preventing recessions is stuck on zero. 
(, The Washington Post) 
The China challenge 
The U.S. has no choice but to work with China and all its insecurities. 
(, The Washington Post) 
How much time are we really losing in traffic? 
(, The Washington Post) 

The only way to cut the budget? 
(, The Washington Post) 

More Opinions: Washington Post Opinion, Editorial, Op Ed, Politics Editorials – The Washington Post 

Web Hostess Live: The latest from the Web 
Web Hostess Monica Hesse sifts the Internet so you don’t have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme. 
(, vForum) 
Gluten-free kids with nutritionist Kelly Dorfman 
Nutritionist Kelly Dorfman talks about putting children on a gluten-free diet. 
(, vForum) 
The Reliable Source Live 
Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts discuss your favorite gossip, celebrity sightings and their recent columns. 
(, vForum) 
Free Range on Food 
Have cooking questions? We have answers. Ask us now. 
(, vForum) 
Free Range on Food: Grocery store hot bars, cooking on a budget and more 
Have cooking questions? We have answers. Ask us now. 
(, vForum)