The Republicans will control both chambers of Congress next year. And in Virginia, a race between Democratic incumbent Mark Warner and Republican Ed Gillespie is coming down to the wire.
We track all the incumbent candidates who lost the midterm election
Here's a guide to keeping up to date on the night's events, on NPR and its member stations.
The Unicode Consortium had previously backed only one skin color, a yellow-orange tone it considered generic. But the group threw away that approach after a wide call for more variety.
Today's injunction takes effect in one week, depending on whether the state appeals. The judge in the case said the state's ban on marriage between people of the same sex violates the 14th Amendment.
The U.S. is now the world's largest oil producer, and some worry that falling prices could mean an industry slowdown. But with production costs also falling, drillers are unlikely to cut back soon.
Kenyan distance runners won both the men's and women's divisions of Sunday's New York City Marathon. A Harvard evolutionary biologist suggests some possible reasons why.
A Sunni Muslim tribe in central Iraq braves nightly shelling and threats from the Islamic State, refusing the group's orders to join its movement. But they say they need help.
Republicans needed to pick up just six seats in Tuesday's midterm elections to wrest control of the Senate. In the House, the key question was how big the GOP majority would be next year.
Farmers will haul in a record-breaking harvest of soybeans and corn this year, but they could be victims of their own success: Prices for these crops, falling for months, are at five-year lows.
With the help of online data, doctors and public health officials are tracking the spread of illnesses and predicting where they might strike next. The analyses also provide clues for prevention.
Massachusetts law now says that if you throw out more than a ton of food waste a month, it can't go to a landfill. But many institutions had already begun composting waste or turning it into energy.
Oil prices are down a whopping 28 percent since mid-June. That’s great if you’re a consumer, not so much if you’re a driller.
During the boom, drillers that fracked for what’s called shale oil spent more money than they brought in. And they made up the gap by borrowing. Which was fine when oil sold for a high price.
Now, crude is down. Earnings are down. And lenders are fidgety.
“Many of the bankers, they’re very, very concerned about their loans to companies that are exclusively into shale formations,” says Ed Hirs of oil and gas firm Hillhouse Resources. He also teaches economics at the University of Houston. “These companies may not have the management expertise or the technical expertise to continue production and pay off these loans.”
And oil companies can be credit risks. Standard & Poor’s rates three out of four energy firms below investment grade.
The big question for lenders and investors is: how long will low prices persist?
“If oil were $80 for the next year or go even lower, cash flow is lower,” says James Burkhard, head of oil market research at IHS CERA. “And external finance would be probably lower as well, or more expensive.”
Of course, all oil companies are not the same. Those mostly in fracking in the more expensive formations are most at risk. More diversified companies and those invested in lower-cost conventional wells are less exposed. And if prices surprise analysts and rise quickly, the debt issue becomes less crucial.
For now, though, analysts and credit analysts are revising their expectations in a hurry, and fortunes are changing quickly in the oil patch. It’s nothing new.
“Look, having grown up here and seen what’s happened in this Oklahoma, Texas area, I’ve seen the booms and busts,” says Jake Dollarhide, co-founder and CEO of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa. “I’ve seen companies go underneath overnight. Most of the time it was a two-headed monster: lower commodity prices, high debt. That’s a dangerous and scary scenario. And oftentimes it’s a recipe for insolvency."
Falling gas prices have given American consumers some extra pocket money. So, how are we celebrating? According to one economist, we tend to blow some of it at Starbucks— which - bonus! - means more jobs for baristas.
And it appears that some of us run out and buy trucks and SUVs. New automobile sales reports are out, and Chrysler’s Jeep line and Ram pickup trucks had a great month.
We wondered: Doesn't that seem like kind of a big spend for an impulse buy? Do people really just decide to go for it when gas prices drop?
"Yeah, that's definitely the case," says Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with the car-shopping site Edmunds.com. She thinks some of today's SUV buyers may be people who ditched their gas guzzlers in 2008, when the economy tanked and gas prices spiked.
"They traded into something smaller, they didn’t like it, and they want to go back," she says. "And now that gas prices are low, it gives them that push — or even that excuse — to say, ‘I’m going to have something bigger.’"
So, yes: Car buyers are sensitive to gas prices, and they've got a hair trigger.
And: People often do not do the math on fuel economy. Tom Turrentine, from the University of California at Davis Energy Efficiency Center, interviewed people from 60 households about this very question. He and his colleagues picked bankers, college professors — people he thought would be good at math.
"Nobody knew how much they spent on fuel in a year," he says. "People don't keep track of it." When he asked, they looked confused.
There was one exception: A guy who built a spreadsheet to figure out the best car for him. The spreadsheet told him to buy a used Honda Civic.
But he wanted a new Ford Escape, and that's what he bought. "Despite making all the rational calculations, he went with his heart," says Turrentine.
So — whether we never look at the data, or maybe just ignore it — are we making dumb financial decisions?
Remember, this could work in either direction. When gas prices go up, people don’t just buy more fuel-efficient cars, they pay more for them. MIT energy economist Christopher Knittel wondered: Are they overpaying?
Answer: Nope. "What we find is that consumers more or less get it right," he says.
Even without a spreadsheet, the average consumer didn’t pay so much for a Prius that the price increase was more than they could expect to save on gas.
So: Yes, we’re a little impulsive. But we’re not dumb.
The Internet browsing history of more than 100 million Verizon and AT&T smartphone customers has been made trackable.
That's the upshot of the recent revelation that both companies have been running advertising programs that use "supercookies" that can't be evaded by any of the means available for ordinary cookies.
But to understand these "supercookies," it's helpful to start with the old-fashioned kind.
"For nearly twenty years now, the cookie has become the standard way to track people online, for better or worse" says Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, the senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who first brought attention to the Verizon program.
"The metaphor I use when I teach is I say a cookie is like a name tag," he says.
Browsing a website is like entering a room and being handed a name tag. It might have a fake name or a series of digits written on it, but it's an identifying label that everyone in the room--each of the many entities that serve content on a given webpage--can see. If you leave it on, anyone watching--and there are many companies watching--can see where you go.
"But you also have the option to take off that name tag," says Hoffman-Andrews. "When you clear cookies in your browser that's like ripping off all your name tags."
"On mobile we don’t have the cookie," says Jenny Wise, mobile marketing analyst at Forrester. "And so the industry is sort of cobbling together all these different solutions."
Advertisers want to track users and target ads on the mobile Internet, and across multiple devices.
"That’s sort of the holy grail for advertisers," says Wise. "And ad tech is on the case."
Those solutions range from GPS data to Facebook log-ins to device ID numbers--but it's much more fragmented than following a single cookie. And Wise says most of them are opt-out. "That's one of the key things that Verizon and AT&T are running into," says Wise.
"Supercookie" is a generic term, which can refer to any of a number of ways of getting around the limitations of cookies. But Verizon and AT&T's version aren't easily evaded--in fact it's very difficult to tell that the tracking code is being applied in the first place.
Referring to Verizon's program, Hoffman-Andrews says: "The [supercookie] is inserted after it leaves your phone, so there’s nothing you could do on the phone to detect that it’s going on."
In Verizon's case, while users can opt out of the advertising program that makes use of the data Verizon collects, the company has said that there is no opting out of the supercookie itself, which security researchers say can be easily used by third parties.
"One possible analogy that comes to mind here is a license plate," says security researcher Jonathan Mayer. "It's a lot like throwing a license plate on your web browser. And Verizon's position is 'Hey we're the DMV, if anyone wants information about someone with that website they have to come to us.'"
"But that doesn't mean you can't follow a license plate around," he says.
"That’s a very good metaphor, but so much of our intellectual and political life takes place on the Internet now, it would amount to a license plate for your brain," says the EFF's Hoffman-Andrews. "Every question you have, every news article you read would be attached to this one identity."
Verizon says those "license plates" are changed "frequently," and that that their supercookies don't "provide any information beyond what [ad tech entities that have a presence on many websites] have by virtue of [other permanent and longer-term identifiers... already widely available] and other already existing IDs."
"What Verizon and AT&T are doing--and why they might have the leg up here, if there's no backlash from privacy concerns-- is that their network goes across devices," says Forrester's Wise. "So not only do you know what I'm doing when I use my mobile phone, I'm also using that same network when I'm on my tablet, or when I'm on my TV."
"That opens up the door."
For more "targeting" or more "tracking," depending on your perspective.
Let's take a moment to put the midterm elections in context:$3.67 billion
That's how much we spent on the House and Senate midterm elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.$59.9 billion
That's how much we spent on beer last year according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
At least we know where our priorities stand. Now would someone pass me a beer?
Polls show Americans are still worried about the economy, but it hasn't really been present in this year's midterm campaigns. As with any time economic matters comes up in a race, there's the economic reason and the political one.
"Democrats have been reluctant to tie themselves to President Obama and his policies," says David Gura, Marketplace reporter based in Washington, D.C.
But the real, that is, economic reason? The U.S. economy is doing better, with lower unemployment, steady growth, lower gas prices, and other metrics that show overall improvement. Voters for whom the economy trumped all last election, can now focus on foreign policy or social issues, and candidates who excel in those areas are playing to their strengths.
And yet, as we've been reporting through our series, Your Economy, many Americans don't feel overall economic improvement in their daily lives.
"While unemployment has gone down, real income hasn't gone up," Gura says.
That's why for many voters, it feels like the economy is stuck in place.
It's Election Day in the U.S., and the biggest influence on midterm elections might not be the last-minute surge of super PAC money or robo-calls, but how voters think the economy is doing.
In tight, state-level races, we've seen candidates on both sides trying to steer the narrative of economic recovery. The New York Times' Upshot took a deep dive, showing that while there's decent evidence to suggest that the state of the economy influences presidential elections, midterms are all about perspective. And that perspective is historically very, very partisan.
FiveThirtyEight gives the Republicans a 76 percent chance of winning the senate Tuesday.
Here's a Google Maps-powered tool for finding your polling place. And as we wait for final results, here are some other numbers we're watching:$40-50 billion
Xiaomi's valuation in an upcoming round of fundraising, according to Bloomberg. The world's third-largest smartphone maker was valued at $10 billion in its last round of financing in August 2013. Xiaomi has seen huge growth in the past year, and just announced it will invest $1 billion in developing online video for its smart TVs.$9.2 billion
That's last year's estimated market for cloud computing. It's expected to grow to $42 billion by 2018. This huge emerging market is the latest battleground in the growing rivalry between Amazon and Google. The former leads in the space, the Wall Street Journal reported, but Google is expected to re-up its cloud offerings soon to try and slow Amazon's rapid growth.50,000
The number of new drivers Uber claims to hire every month, and the number of veterans the car service seeks to hire under its UberMILITARY initiative. The plan has support from the Department of Defense and former military officials, but an investigation by the Verge found that the initiative might be a raw deal for veterans.
Several UberMILITARY "partners" have said they don't make nearly as much as they were promised thanks to expenses and inconsistent pricing structures. Others have noted Uber's propensity to fire low-rated drivers at the drop of a hat: One Navy vet and single mother of seven said she's put up with sexual harassment from passengers in order to keep her driver rating high.
The price of crude oil, which had been sinking this fall, took another downward turn today.
Oil producers can choose to pump more or less oil, of course. They can also adjust prices. That’s what the world’s largest oil exporter did yesterday when Saudi Arabia cut prices for crude sold to U.S. customers.
Saudi Arabia is facing heavy competition from producers in the U.S. and nearby Latin America, according to oil strategist Julian Lee with Bloomberg First Word.
“I think the Saudis have cut crude prices to the U.S. in order to keep their oil competitive,” he says.
Lee says Saudi Arabia wants to retain a stable market share in the U.S.
Energy market analyst Sarah Emerson with ESAI warns against reading too much into yesterday’s price adjustment. Still, she thinks Saudi Arabia is trying to settle on a price per barrel that other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries can support when OPEC meets later this month.
“Saudi Arabia does not necessarily want to defend the price at $100 or $110,” she says. “But defending a price at $85 or $80 makes much more sense.”
Julian Lee says OPEC countries will review their production policy at the forthcoming meeting. There, he says, they could decide whether to cut production to shore up prices, or let prices fall further to choke off growth in North American production.
The share of Americans with bachelor’s degrees is on the rise, according to the Census Bureau.How many American adults have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher?