Obama shifts funding for space exploration toward small business. Perhaps it has been the success of programs like the X Prize and Elon Musk's aerospace start-up SpaceX, but President Obama is making a push to shift funding for space exploration away from big contractors like Boeing and Northrop to smaller, privately-held start-ups. As the Los Angeles Times reports, if the president's plan makes it through Congress, it could drastically divert funding for spacecraft development to privately-funded space start-ups. Already this week, NASA awarded $50 million in research funds to five private companies to design a prototype for a vehicle that could carry crew members to the International Space Station. Up, up, and away.

TechCrunch on other side of a scandal. Since its launch almost five years ago, TechCrunch has made a name for itself as the go-to blog for news about tech start-ups, tech products, and well-established tech companies doing innovating things. Many times, TechCrunch's scoops are accompanied by a scandal or two. But this is one of the few times that the influential blog has had to turn the microscope on itself. Founder Michael Arrington revealed last night that one of TechCrunch's interns has on at least one occasion asked for a Macbook Air from a company in exchange for a post on the blog. And that "on at least one other occasion this intern was almost certainly given a computer in exchange for a post." Initially, TechCrunch didn't reveal the intern's name, citing his young age. But the intern, Daniel Brusilovsky, decided to out himself on his own blog. "At this time, I do not want to go into details," he wrote, "but I will publicly say that I am truly sorry to my family, friends, TechCrunch, and especially the tech community."

FriendFinder to stay privately-held for now. Friend Finder Networks, which ranked 210 on the this past year's Inc. 500 | 5000 has been mulling an IPO for some time now. The company, which operates a number of sexually-oriented social networks, as well as publishing Penthouse, was saddled with an unmanageable amount of debt, which they hoped that going public would ameliorate, writes . See how Markus Frind makes $10 million a year from his online dating site Plenty of Fish, plus check out our guide to planning your own IPO.

The trouble with unemployment insurance. Writing in the New York Times's Your the Boss blog, Jay Goltz complains about the eligibility rules for unemployment insurance. Namely, Goltz thinks it's unfair that in Illinois employees are eligible after only 30 days. "As Congress, the Obama administration and the states consider ways to encourage hiring, they should look at incentives, but they should also consider the disincentives," he writes. "In today's economy, I have to consider the cost of a potentially expensive unemployment tax increase if I hire someone and it doesn't work out. If I knew I could get a chance to try out the person for, say, three months without 'buying the farm,' it would be a lot more tempting to make the hire."

Silicon Alley's innovation explosion. Last October, we told you about how New York City's tech scene was emerging from the wreckage of the financial sector. This week investor and Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon shares his insights into why the scene is suddenly white hot on the Silicon Alley Insider and a lot of it has to do with the presence of investors. There are the big VCs (like Bessemer and Venrock) and mid-sized funds like Union Square Ventures, along with newly-minted seed funds like IA Capital. Even West Coast angel investors like Ron Conway, are taking note of the pace innovation. All that capital is encouraging diversification within the tech sector away from media and toward more Valley-style ventures like Foursquare and Boxee. Now all New York needs, says Dixon, is a couple of runaway successes.

The coming decade's fastest-growing markets for small business. Market research company IBISWorld analyzed 708 industries to predict which six represent the fastest-growing markets for small business over the next decade, reports TheStreet. Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) providers will likely be the fastest-growing market, with nearly 150% growth predicted over the next ten years. Retirement and pension plans, biotechnology, e-commerce and online auctions, environmental consulting, and video games were also highlighted as top industries for small business growth.

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