People who use Airbnb, the web company that pairs travelers with residents who rent out their homes on a short-term basis, are breaking New York City's laws, according to an administrative law judge. The vacation rental business was found to run afoul of the city's occupancy code; it also doesn't conform with a state law.
As CNET reports, New Yorkers who break those rules are likely to face legal proceedings only if a complaint is filed against them. Airbnb, based in California, was part of the recent proceedings only as an involved observer.
The ruling issued Monday afternoon is a defeat for Airbnb "host" Nigel Warren, who in February was accused of violating the city's residency code for renting out his East Village apartment for less than a week, as WNYC has reported. Warren now reportedly faces $2,400 in fines.
Questions over Airbnb's legality have risen along with the web service's impact on New York's tourism industry. According to Crain's, some 30,000 New York City residents are Airbnb hosts, accounting for hundreds of thousands of visits each year.
"That kind of demand is expected to generate around $1 billion in local economic activity in 2013," Crain's New York Business reports, "outstripping the impact of the city's booming cruise-ship industry five times over, according to figures cited by tech-industry leaders with knowledge of the site."
Complicating matters further, the economic impact of those visits largely skips the hotels in central Manhattan. A more detailed view of how Airbnb works comes from Chris Dannen of Fast Company, who describes how he made nearly $20,000 in nine months of using the site to rent out space in his apartment in Brooklyn, a popular destination for Airbnb visitors.
For its part, Airbnb has been asking legislators in Albany to modify a state law that bans apartment rentals of fewer than 29 days. The law was approved in 2010 and enacted in 2011.
"It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes," Airbnb said in a statementtells CNET. "Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in — they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law."
April showers bring May flowers. But in this case, the blossoms are too small for even a bumblebee to see.
Engineers at Harvard University have figured out a way to make microscopic sculptures of roses, tulips and violets, each smaller than a strand of hair.
To get a sense of just how small these flower sculptures are, grab a penny and flip it on its back. Right in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial, you'll see a faint impression of Abraham Lincoln. These roses would make a perfect corsage for the president's jacket lapel.
Growing the gardens is similar to making crystals with a Magic Rock kit.
The flowers sprout up spontaneously when a glass plate is dipped into a beaker filled with silicon and minerals (specifically, barium chloride). Then Wim Noorduin at Harvard University coaxes the salts to spiral and swirl into smooth, curvaceous shapes, like vases, leaves and petals.
He sculpts the stems and blossoms by slightly tweaking the environment in which the crystals grow. Lowering the temperature makes the petals thicker. Bursts of carbon dioxide send ripples through the leaves and blossoms.
The result is thousands of nanoviolets carpeting the surface of the glass plate.
"Every flower has a unique shape," Noorduin says. "It is very sensitive. If I just walk by the beaker in the lab, it changes the growth of these structures."
Noorduin has even seeded the crystals on the back of a penny, creating a garden of nanotulips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
"It's a completely new world that you can make," he says. "And, these flowers last - they don't go bad. Even after years, you can still see them."
Noorduin can add color to the flowers by mixing dyes into the solutions. But he still has to colorize the images with Photoshop because the electron microscope only takes photos in black and white — although, he tries to match the colors in Photoshop with those in the actual flowers. "Like the rose structure with the green stem," he says, "these are the real colors of the sculpture."
He and his colleagues describe the microgardening technique in the current issue of the journal Science.
So far, they've focused only on making aesthetically pleasing structures, but Noorduin says the technique could be used to make any complex shape or architecture you want - at an incredibly small size.
"It's a little bit similar to 3-D printing," he says. "Right now there are more options and varieties of shapes available in 3-D printing because it's 30 years old. We're just starting."
Eventually, he and the team at Harvard hope to use to the method to create microelectronics, medical sensors and new materials for optics. "At this [size] scale, really interesting things happen with light," he says.
"When you look around you, nature can make very complex structures almost effortlessly," he adds. "Now we've demonstrated that we can make similar shapes by really doing very little, too."
We don't need to say much. Just watch this video from The Oklahoman of Trenda Purcell's reunion Monday with her 8-year-old son Kamden, who she found safe and sound after the tornado that swept through Moore, Okla.
"I'm amazed that he walked out of that building alive," Purcell told CBS This Morning about Briarwood Elementary School, where Kamden was a pupil.
We posted earlier about another emotional video: "After Tornado, A Dog Rescue Raises Spirits, And Gains Fans."
JPMorgan Chase shareholders voted on Tuesday to allow Jamie Dimon to continue being their chairman and CEO.
"At the bank's annual meeting, 32 percent of shareholders voted for a measure that would have required the bank to split the roles. Had the measure succeeded, Dimon would have had to relinquish the role of chairman.
"Shareholder groups lobbying for the split gained momentum from last year's surprise $6 billion trading loss, which tarnished the reputation of both JPMorgan Chase & Co. and CEO Dimon. The bank and Dimon had argued that letting Dimon keep both jobs was the most effective form of leadership."
The Wall Street Journal, which is live blogging the meeting, reports that several other board members were facing ousters. But all of them survived.
Forbes reports that some shareholders argued that splitting the roles would lead to better governance. Ultimately, reports Forbes, a decision likely came down to money and fear that Dimon may have left the company if he was stripped of his chairmanship.
"JPM has seen record profits for the last three years and not one quarterly loss during Dimon's tenure," Forbes reports. "The bank's board and management has been quick to point out that performance. Bank analyst Mike Mayo has said the bank's stock would drop 10% if Dimon left."