Remarkable stories from the web in a new, easier format.

More than 400 Nepalese migrant workers have died on Qatar’s building sites as the Gulf state prepares to host the World Cup in 2022, a report will reveal this week… It also raises the question of how many migrant workers in total have died on construction sites since Qatar won the bid in 2010. Nepalese workers comprise 20% of Qatar’s migrant workforce, and many others are drafted in from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Qatar World Cup: 400 Nepalese die on nation’s building sites since bid won | Football | The Observer

Meet “Ira.” Ira isn’t an actual human being—he’s just a computer model—but you’d be forgiven for not being able to tell the difference. “Not only does Ira look real, but this is all generated in real time,” Nvidia, the graphics chip company, suggested in a recent video demonstration. “His skin has bumps and blemishes that move and stretch as Ira blinks and grimaces. Those imperfections make Ira far more real than the fake, rubbery faces generated by previous generations of graphics technology.”

Game Developers Crossing the Uncanny Valley

But as physicist Doyne Farmer once wrote, “If one were to go through any standard introductory economics textbook, and color every statement pink with weak empirical confirmation, most of the book would be pink.”

Making the Economic Case for More Than the Minimum Wage – Businessweek

Travelers often bemoan the gambling in airline ticket-shopping: Do I buy now or wait to see if the fare decreases? One reason for that casino feel is the computerized alchemy of what’s known as revenue management, the airlines’ 24/7 effort to improve their financial performance by meticulously allocating the number of seats at various price levels and overbooking flights.

The Best Way to Find a Cheap Airplane Ticket, According to Two Guys Who Set Fares – Businessweek

A new kind of battery stores energy in what researchers are calling “rechargeable fuel”—electrodes in liquid form. The result can be either recharged like a conventional battery or replaced by pumping in new fuel like gasoline. The materials could theoretically allow an electric car to travel 500 miles on a charge, five times farther than most electric vehicles can now, say the researchers developing the technology

Liquid Battery Electrodes Will Mean Long-Range, Fast-Charging Electric Cars | MIT Technology Review

Some of the mice squeaked in agony when researchers aimed a blue light at their paws. Other mice felt nothing at all when zapped with a laser.

Optogenetics Makes Mice Resistant to Pain | MIT Technology Review

They stepped onto the podium, one after another, teammates and friends, all decked out in the same uniform. And if there had been room for one more, she would’ve been wearing orange, too. The Dutch, you see, are just racing against themselves at the Olympic speedskating oval.

Dutch speedskaters whippin’ the world in Sochi – The Washington Post

The U.S. is at risk of becoming a “Downton Abbey” economy, as the gap between the top 1 percent and the poor widens, former US treasury secretary Larry Summers has warned.

Summers: US faces a ‘Downton Abbey’ economy

The device is so low-impact that it can run for up to nine months on a regular watch battery. It’s not yet for sale and may never be, but it’s an impressive demonstration of what can be done with ink, paper, and circuits.

Novalia Bluetooth Keyboard – Business Insider

A widening probe of the foreign-exchange market is roiling an industry already under pressure to reduce costs as computer platforms displace human traders.

FX Traders Facing Extinction as Computers Replace Humans – Bloomberg

Asian stocks rose, with the regional benchmark index poised for a three-week high, after the Bank of Japan maintained unprecedented asset purchases and boosted lending programs.

Asian Stocks Climb to Three-Week High After BOJ Statement – Bloomberg

Say you were Thomas Jefferson’s chief economist and you’d just somehow seen a report from the year 2013 showing that 1.5 percent of the workforce was in agriculture, as opposed to the 90 percent in your day. You ran to the president with news of this crisis, telling him we’ve got to start preparing for mass unemployment.

Before Blaming the Robots, Let’s Get the Policy Right –

Driving a car is safer than ever for the simple reason that cars are safer than ever—thanks to features like seat belts, air bags, and electronic stability control. That’s one reason why deaths per miles driven have plummeted around the developed world in the five decades since Ralph Nader published Unsafe at Any Speed. In fact, the U.S. used to be the safest country for drivers among all OECD countries in the early 1970s. By the middle of the last decade, the rest of the world had caught up.

A Map of the World’s Most Dangerous Countries for Drivers – Derek Thompson – The Atlantic

Let’s rewind the clock. Before humans existed, before Earth formed, before the sun ignited, before galaxies arose, before light could even shine, there was the Big Bang. This happened 13.8 billion years ago. But what about before that?

Are We Living in a Black Hole?

The sex tech industry at large is slowly gaining steam; teledildonics, which allows long-distance sex interactions, is making tentative steps towards gaining market share.

The Robot That Makes Virtual Sex Feel Real | Motherboard

If stock market gyrations seem more frequent this year, it could be due to the fact that the bull market, which turns 5 on March 9, is getting up in age.

As age of bull increases, so does volatility

The legal fight has put U.S. courts in the unusual position of shaping another country’s financial future. Argentina says the dispute threatens to force a new default, and lower court rulings have led Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s to lower the country’s bond ratings.

Argentina Seeks U.S. Supreme Court Review in Debt Case – Bloomberg

Vienna was followed by Zurich, Switzerland, and Auckland, New Zealand. In fourth place was Germany’s Munich while Vancouver, Canada, was in fifth — the highest-ranked city in North America. Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, also in Germany, take sixth and seventh place.

And the best city to move to is…

China’s shadow-banking problems may have grabbed headlines, but its long-bubbling property sector continues to pose risks to the economy, analysts said.

The China risk you may have forgotten about

China’s banks will have to increase their liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) to 100 percent by 2018 under new rules to take effect from March 1, the banking regulator said on Wednesday, reiterating a plan to phase in changes in capital adequacy.

China aims for 100% bank liquidity coverage ratio by 2018

The GDP report came before the BoJ announced that it would leave its current QQE (quantitative and quantitative easing) policy unchanged while bolstering a loan program for banks that economists consider to be mainly symbolic. Given the forthcoming rise in the sales tax, the unexpectedly large hit to domestic demand has been especially worrying.

More on Abenomics and the wage-employment tradeoff | FT Alphaville

[T]he price of solar panels has declined 80% since 2008…


SunPower CEO Tom Werner reported “strong” Q4 2013 results for his vertically integrated solar power company. SunPower had Q4 2013 revenue of $638 million and Q4 earnings per share of $0.15 with $22.3 million in income. The company recognized total 2013 production of 1,134 megawatts for a total revenue of $2.507 billion and net income of $95.6 million.

Earnings Season: SunPower Shows Profitable 2013, Strong 2014 Guidance : Greentech Media

China will be the number-one solar market again in 2014 if it meets its recently announced goals.

China Confirms 14 Gigawatts of Solar Incentives for 2014 : Greentech Media

From an energy perspective, Hawaii is unique. Located in the middle of the Pacific, the Aloha State runs on imported oil. But its island environment — from sunny days to active volcanoes — also holds the keys to a future powered by renewable energy.

Postcard From the Grid’s Future: Hawaii as a Solar Laboratory : Greentech Media