Online Family Budget Calculator

53 minutes ago

A new online budget calculator shows many Virginia working families aren’t making enough to get by.

The Economic Policy Institute’s budget cruncher takes local data on a variety of costs, including, food, housing, and health care, and then calculates the numbers for the household size.

Laura Goren with the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis says the calculator shows many families are fighting a big gap between what they make and what they need.

The calculator is available here.

Illustration by Steven Davy

When our Middle East reporter, Daniel Estrin, heard that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, aka Ben & Jerry, had come out in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, his mind went into overdrive.

“I issued my own statement of support,” Estrin told us.

 Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S69279 / CC-BY-SA/ Wikipedia

The dire refugee situation in Syria was brought home in even starker terms Wednesday when an image of a little boy lying dead on the beach in Turkey began circulating.

That 3-year-old boy, who his aunt identifies as Alan Kurdi, died along with his mother and brother, while trying to make passage into Greece.

He wasn't even born when the Syrian Civil War began.

REUTERS/Dimitris Michalakis

As the Syrian refugee crisis intensifies, many have started to question why wealthy Arab countries are not taking a substantial role in helping out.

In the past week the Arabic hashtag #Welcoming_Syria’s_refugees_is_a_Gulf_duty has been used on Twitter more than 30,000 times.

Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees but it seems like countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar have been watching from the sidelines.

Courtesy of Dave Hilton 

When Dave Hilton wrote a letter to baseball clubs in Japan asking for a tryout, he didn't know it'd eventually help launch the career of a world-famous writer.

Hilton was a professional baseball player.

He had a few seasons under his belt with the San Diego Padres.

But he wanted adventure.

That’s why the letter went to Japan.

There's good baseball there, too.

Still, he knew it was a long shot.

Back to School: Chaos and Umbrellas

12 hours ago

It’s back-to-school time once again. Students everywhere are returning to campus excited to see each other and catch up – but Roanoke College Professor Brent Adkins wants to know something. He wants to know why students are in school in the first place – and encourages them to look beyond the degree.

Why are you here? This is a question that I ask all of my classes in one form or another. Let me tell you how the conversation usually goes.

Me: Why are you here?

Sandy Hausman

Wind farms are now common in some western and Midwestern states, and that form of energy is actually cheaper than power produced with coal. Virginia could see its first wind farm on a ridge near Roanoke, but area residents and environmentalists are raising red flags over plans to install 25 turbines.

Since entering the enticing world of professional journalism in the mid-2000s, Jason Rosenbaum dove head first into the world of politics, policy and even rock and roll music. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Rosenbaum spent more than four years in the Missouri State Capitol writing for the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri Lawyers Media and the St. Louis Beacon. Since moving to St. Louis in 2010, Rosenbaum's work appeared in Missouri Lawyers Media, the St. Louis Business Journal and in the Riverfront Times' music section. He also served on staff at the St. Louis Beacon as a politics reporter. Rosenbaum lives in St. Louis City with with his wife Lauren Todd, an engineering librarian at Washington University.

Photo by Dimitris Michalakis/Reuters.

The fate of refugees in Europe has gripped the world’s attention following the publication of the image of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach.

When confronted with this latest “viral” image to come out of the Syrian conflict, many people have expressed shock, horror, grief and anger. And many have also tried to help.

How puffins made it back to Maine's Egg Rock

16 hours ago

In our new book “Project Puffin: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock,” National Audubon Seabird Restoration director Steve Kress and I wrote that puffins are a modern sentinel of the ocean and messenger of climate change. Such metaphors, like canaries in coal mines, tend to be used in negatively for deadly dangers unseen or very hard to see.