If you demand democracy in China, you can quickly find yourself at odds with the government. So these days, reformers are trying to use the constitution to make the party accountable to the people. But that didn't keep a Shanghai professor from getting suspended.
Matthew Cordle, the 22-year-old Ohio man whose online video confession to having killed a man while driving drunk went viral, formally pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated vehicular homicide. He could be sent to prison for as long as 8 1/2 years.
Apple's newest operating system -- iOS 7 -- will be available today for iPhone and iPad users. It may not seem as dramatic as a new device, but reports say the updated operating system will come with big changes. Brian Barrett, managing editor at Gizmodo, says it may be the company's most important new product in years. And one design change may signal much more than just a cosmetic update.
"When iOS first came out they had to teach people how to their phone as a computer," says Barrett. At first, Apple designed things on the interface to look like their real life counterparts -- the calendar on the iPhone resembled a real life calendar.
"Now that's starting to feel stale," says Barrett "Now they need to move to a place where 'okay we know that smartphones are miniature computers in your pocket, so how can we make them efficient instead of educational?'"
The new operating system also has changes to functionality, like a new control center, but Barrett says the major change comes from the updated look and feel of the phone since it has the ability to change the way we interact with our devices.
Brian Barrett, managing editor at Gizmodo, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss.
The collision tore apart the front of the bus. No one aboard the passenger train was killed, authorities say, but there were fatalities on the bus.
The debate can be heard across borders. Foreign workers are now finding jobs in highly homogeneous countries such as South Korea. But in other rapidly aging countries such as Japan, policymakers are wary of allowing immigrant labor.
When Nina Davuluri won the Miss America pageant this past weekend, some people on Twitter said she wasn't "American enough." Host Michel Martin speaks to Davuluri about her title and the reaction to it.
Glen James, who has been homeless for about five years, says he never even thought about keeping the money he found. Inspired by his story, contributors have been giving to an online fundraising campaign that its creator hopes will change James' life.
If the text of his open letter is any indication, the last straw for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was "Starbucks Appreciation Day" in August. Gun rights activists across the country rallied at Starbucks stores to express their appreciation for the company's stance on gun carriage. Until now, Starbucks has fallen in line with state and local laws, allowing gun owners in "open carry" states, where it is legal to tote unconcealed weapons, to bring those weapons in to stores.
Schultz, in the letter, stopped short of issuing a ban on firearms in Starbucks stores and seating areas, saying instead that he is "respectfully requesting" customers leave their guns behind. His language struck some as equivocation.
"The way he billed it was, 'it doesn't fit in with the Starbucks experience,'" said Paul Argenti, a professor of communication at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business. "Which, you know, give me a break. Why don't you tell people not to bring guns in to the store?"
Rather than deterring gun rights activists, Argenti fears Schultz's apparent unwillingness to ban guns altogether may lead to further confrontation.
"If I were a gun owner, I'd say, okay, make me put that gun away."
Some analysts say they believe Schultz's decision resulted from his personal values and a desire to protect customers and staff.
"Howard Schultz is passionate about America and protecting employees in [Starbucks] stores," said Paul Williams of marketing firm Idea Sandbox. Williams, who has worked for Starbucks in the past, says the company has a history of courting controversy. He points to the time when Starbucks first emerged as a caffiene powerhouse.
"Most of the coffee in America was a lighter taste and Starbucks put their mark in the market by offering something that was roasted and darker than normal," Williams said. "And that polarized people."
This time, the stakes are higher, but most industry observers don't expect a mass exodus of Starbucks customers.
Wander into your local grocery store, and you’ll find food stamped with all kinds of dates. The sell-by date is for the store, for stock rotation. The use-by date is for us consumers, but it just tells us when a product is at its peak.
We don’t realize we can eat stuff after the use-by date, and not get sick.
"The vast majority of Americans are confused and throwing away food prematurely," says Dana Gunders, a food scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Gunders estimates that Americans throw out up to $450 of perfectly good food every year. She says manufacturers are a bit too conservative with their use-by dates. They want you to get just the right amount of crunch from that potato chip.
David Fikes is with the Food Marketing Institute, a trade group for stores and manufacturers. He says manufacturers are just protecting their brands, and it’s not like they want you to throw stuff away so you have to go out and buy more.
He says, "Who wants to produce something, only to have it pitched?"
Right now, there’s no federal standard on food labeling, just a patchwork of state and local rules.
"It’s always nice to have uniformity so you can distribute broadly without worrying about individual state and local regulations," says Michael Dunn, who teaches food science at Brigham Young University and says things might be easier for manufacturers if the feds stepped in.
But, there’s catch. Dunn says if manufacturers had to do a lot of retooling to comply with new federal rules, they’d pass the cost onto consumers.
Walgreens said today that it's just about done with managing its company-backed health care program. Following the lead of some other big companies, like Sears, IBM and Time Warner, Walgreens is moving employees and retirees to what are known as private exchanges. These bring together several insurers offering competing plans in a single online marketplace, where employees can shop for coverage. (Private exchanges are not the same as the public ones that are part of the new health care law. ) Walgreens will continue to pick up a portion of the premium. The employee will carry the rest.
Walgreens says it will contribute just as much to employees’ health insurance premiums in 2014 -- when the exchange kicks in -- as it did in 2013, when employees had only two company-sponsored plans to choose from. The company won't discuss how big its contribution will be, or what the typical cost to the employee.
On the Aon exchange, says Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin, “each carrier will offer five different levels of plans to choose from.”
The plan categories are bronze, bronze plus, silver, gold, platinum. Polzin says in some markets, the exchange may offer as many as five competing insurance carriers. That could give consumers “as many as 25 different options, ” he says. They range from low-deductible to high-deductible plans and have varying levels of premiums and co-pays.
“It’s the king of all nightmare decisions,” says consumer psychology expert Kit Yarrow at Golden Gate University. “It’s not necessarily rationally so, it’s emotionally so.”
Yarrow says that's because the stakes can feel like life and death, or at least, life and ill health. And, she says, “people have a really tough time anticipating their future needs.” Will they need routine check-ups, or cancer treatment, in the coming year? And if they have a serious health problems, will the cheapest, most-limited plans give them enough good doctors to choose from?
Psychologist Barry Schwartz at Swarthmore College says that multiple choices, especially in a complicated marketplace like health care, can leave consumers worse off in the long run. He studies the issue in his book “The Paradox of Choice.”
“What economists would say is that more options have to be better because if you’re not interested you can ignore them,” says Schwartz. “But what research shows is that when you do that, it paralyzes people and they don’t choose at all. And when you give them too many options they make worse decisions.”
Michael Polzin of Walgreens says Aon, its exchange administrator, will help employees sort through the different plans. And, he says, having more health insurance choices -- with higher deductibles and lower premiums -- may well save some employees money.
Robert Town, a health care economist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, agrees that having too many plans to choose from might confuse some employee-consumers.
But he says the public might as well get used to shopping for health insurance this way, because that's the future.
The Federal Reserve is expected to announce today that it will start reducing the amount of bonds its currently purchasing as part of Quantitative Easing. If the whole idea of Quantitative Easing is confusing to you, you are not alone. According to a recent survey by Reuters/Ipsos, most Americans don’t understand what QE is.
Of the 857 people surveyed 73 percent were unable to pick out the correct definition of Quantitative Easing.
Twelve percent thought it was a computer-assisted program used to manipulate the dollar and eleven percent thought it was part of Dodd-Frank -- the regulatory changes that were enacted after the financial crisis.
To understand QE it's important to understand that it essentially entails the Fed buying bonds to keep interest rates down, encourage lending and stimulate the economy.
If the Fed does reduce bond buying short-term interest rates will likely rise. But the Fed doesn’t want the public to think that the Fed is raising the official interest rate. This is really difficult for the Fed because the point of bond buying is to keep interest rates low. Therefore it's logical that by buying fewer bonds the interest rates would go up.
But the Fed doesn’t want the public to think that it is tinkering with the official interest rate, as opposed to market interest rates. Since tapering means that the Fed will buy fewer bonds, the indirect result of that is that market interest rates will probably go up.
"Bernanke will try and stress that even though the Fed will be buying fewer and fewer bonds, it's not going to be raising interest rates anytime soon," says Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics in London.
One analyst, Drew Matus at UBS Securities says that even people who do understand Quantitative Easing don’t necessarily agree on how it works.
“So we are even at a disagreement about on a very fundamental level about what exactly today means for the future of Fed policy as we move forward.”
The one thing that most economists agree on is that the Fed won’t reduce bond buying by more than $15 billion per month. The Fed currently spends $85 billion per month.
Click the audio player above to hear more. And to listen to David's conversation with Drew Matus of UBS Securities, click here.
The U.N. General Assembly started this week. Syria is top of mind for many leaders, but there's a related topic also getting attention this year: The looming specter of cyber war. Hackers from one nation attacking the missile defense systems, power grids and water supplies of another country is a popular topic at the U.S. Defense department, too.
But Thomas Rid, professor at King's College London, warns of the dangers of cyber war sensationalism.
"By constantly talking about cyber war, we are staring at the wrong end of the spectrum," he says. Rid says a greater focus should be placed on commercial espionage and fraud since those are happening on a much larger scale.
Thomas Rid, author of Cyber War Will Not Take Place and professor at King's College London, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss.
Skies have cleared and the worst may be over. But as the water goes down, the destroyed roads, homes and businesses are emerging. Piles of debris line canyons.
Say the words “immigrants” and Silicon Valley, and most people think of Indians or the Chinese. Entrepreneurs from those countries do account for about a third of the tech startups founded by immigrants. But the rest, of course, come from all over the world. One group that is starting to make inroads are Latinos.
"Latinos have long been the largest immigrant group in the U.S. But they weren’t much of a presence in the tech sector," says Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford Law School. But he says that’s changing.
"I’ve seen significant growth in the Latin American population in Silicon Valley."
Part of it is that there are more Latin American role models. Mike Krieger, a co-founder of Instagram, is from Brazil.
And there are other tech entrepreneurs, like Luis Arbulu. He’s from Peru. After working at Google, he founded Hattery, a venture investment firm in San Francisco.
"A lot of us have been featured in press in Peru, in Argentina and Brazil," says Arbulu. "So when people come to Silicon Valley, they already know who were are and they seek us out that way."
One person budding entrepreneurs hit up frequently is Wences Casares. He’s the CEO of Lemon Wallet. It produces an iPhone app that essentially allows you to digitize your wallet.
Casares is from Argentina. He sold his first tech company for $750 million, when he was just 27 years old. He says that’s inspired other Latin Americans.
Casares says, "In a way what they are thinking is, 'He’s just like me. He’s no better.' Or, 'He has no particular advantage. I can do this.'"
And all these ambitious newcomers in Silicon Valley help breed innovation.
"The magic of Silicon Valley," Vivek Wadhwa says, "is that you have people from all over the world mentoring each other, helping each other, challenging each other."
And potentially expanding the market reach of the U.S. tech sector. After all, economies in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru are growing.
"The people coming here from Latin America teach the natives about the opportunities in Latin America," says Wadhwa.
And that can help U.S. businesses capitalize on increased opportunities down south.
In a statement she read to the news media at midday Wednesday, Cathleen Alexis says she does not know why her son killed 12 people on Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. Meanwhile, more is coming out about Aaron Alexis's actions in the days leading up to the attack.
Today's laugh break: The face-to-butt collision Tuesday night when the Houston Astros' Jonathan Villar slid into second and collided with Reds infielder Brandon Phillips' backside. It's drawing comparisons to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's infamous "butt fumble."
This final note today, in which the Internet meme known as Grumpy Cat comes full circle.
Anyway, Grumpy Cat now has a major endorsement deal. It's going to be the 'spokescat' -- I am not making this up -- for Friskies.
It's just the latest in quite a run for a cat: A movie deal, a New York Times bestseller, merchandise.
We had the cat's manager on the show a couple of months ago. Listen to the interview here.
The coffee giant has been wrongly portrayed, it says, as being a champion of "open carry" laws. Now it's asking customers not to bring weapons to its shops.
Email service Gmail introduced a new in-box sorting system over the summer. Now, the default setting automatically filters your emails into separate folder tabs, each with different types of messages -- priority mail box, promotional emails, and social media can each be viewed in separate folders. For Google, it's another way to boost revenue, but for advertisers trying to reach consumers' eyes it's proving to be a tough obstacle to hurdle. Lauren Hockenson, reporter for GigaOm, joins Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson to discuss how they are adapting.
In just nine simple digits, social security numbers hold some of our most private information. The code governs so much of our official lives, but can be vulnerable to non-official hacking if proper precautions aren't taken. Paddy Hirsch, Marketplace's senior producer of personal finance, joins Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss steps we can take to protect our personal data.