Indonesia summoned the Australian ambassador over allegations Australian diplomatic posts, including the one in Jakarta, were used as part of the U.S. surveillance networks. Also, Germany becomes the first European country to effectively offer a third sex option for newborns.
Obama administration officials try to calm congressional Democrats anxieties triggered by the flawed Obamacare website and insurance policy cancellations... Leaders of big tech firms want Congress to rein in the NSA... It just got harder to get an abortion in Texas.
Colonel Chris Hadfield is probably the most famous Canadian astronaut ever. And after playing and shooting a music video of David Bowie's song "Space Oddity" from the International Space Station, he might be the most famous astronaut of our era. But Hadfield's story is also about farm life in Canada, testing the limits of our aviation technology around the world, and the behind the scenes journey to travel outside our atmosphere. It's all in his new book, "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth."
Hadfield got his start during the Cold War as a test pilot in Canada. From those beginnings, he probably never imagined he would one day hitch a ride to space with Russian cosmonauts. Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson asked Hadfield about the differences between the way Russia approaches technology compared to the West.
"In Russian, almost philosophy of engineering, better is the enemy of good enough," Hadfield says. "The Russians came up with a really beautiful, elegant design -- their initial spaceship. And, they flew it, and then they flew it again and they flew it again. And then they went, 'Let's change this one thing.' It's almost like a sculpture, where you've had a master in who has looked at the sculpture and thought about it, and then chipped away just a tiny, little piece."
While the basic design of the Russian spaceship hasn't changed much through the years, other technology has. Hadfield's use of social media on his last journey to space catapulted him to global fame. But he says his desire to share his incredible experiences existed long before YouTube and Twitter came into existence.
"My first flight in space was a long time ago. On that flight, I was just as motivated to try and share the experience with everybody around the world -- but the technology had not been invented yet," he says. "Now, I can snap a picture, float down the space station, and within minutes, a million people could look at it if they want to."
Hadfield hopes that view from space can inspire others in the same way it inspired him, and given him a unique perspective.
"You just start to see the world as one big continuum. And, I started to see cities the same way, in that our patterns of settlement are the same worldwide. We find a place that is hospitable, and we live there, and that sense of connectiveness [sic] starts to become pervasive within yourself. And I found after a month or two up there, and I was sending a tweet -- here's a picture of Karachi, and this is where 7 million of us live. And I didn't even think about it... And you just start to see the whole world as 'us.' And for me, it was an immensely deepening experience and good experience to see the world that way."
Ben Bernanke led the Federal Reserve through the tumult of the financial crisis, trying unprecedented bailouts of financial institutions and liquidity efforts like bond-buyback programs. But those policies only scratch the surface of the legacy being left behind by Bernanke, who’s second term ends next year.
“They were starting policies that had never been tried before,” says Mitch Abolafia, a sociology professor at the University at Albany who has studied how the Fed communicates.
He says the thinking at the time went, the measures to save the economy are so unusual and so hard for the public to understand that “unless we get ahead of it and explain it in more detail than we normally would, they are bound to misinterpret what it is we are trying to do.”
And that led to what some say is the biggest change at the Fed under Bernanke’s leadership.
“The impact Bernanke has on increasing transparency, being clearer about long-term goals, is going to be part of his lasting legacy,” says Carl Walsh, a professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The Fed, for most of its existence, was exceedingly secretive. That started to change in the early 1990s, but it really changed during the financial crisis. Politicians and the public began to question the Fed’s legitimacy, so Bernanke defended it. He broke tradition and spoke with a journalist, Scott Pelley on CBS News’s “60 Minutes.” Bernanke decided to hold regular news conferences, and he returned to the classroom, giving a series of lectures at George Washington University.
But what may be more important is the kind of guidance Bernanke and the Fed have given economists and investors. It’s more concrete, long-term guidance. Abolafia says this move toward greater transparency at the Fed comes out of an economic theory called “Rational Expectations.”
“It said that markets will work better if the people in the markets know what to expect,” he explains.
But Abolafia predicts it’ll get tougher for the Fed to be transparent when it stops buying bonds and it faces political resistance to raising rates.
The secretary of state's comments are the sharpest to date from a top Obama aide. He also said, though, that "innocent people are not being abused" and that the intelligence gathered by the National Security Agency has prevented terrorist attacks.
It’s red cup season at Starbucks, starting today. That means eggnog and peppermint lattes are back for the holidays.
Specialty drinks are big moneymakers for the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, and its growing number of competitors.
Starbucks employee Dave Olsen made the company’s first eggnog latte in his home kitchen in 1986. Today the company has more than 100 people doing flavor R&D.
“Even right now we’re working on next year’s holiday beverages, so it’s always something we’re experimenting with,” says Starbucks Spokeswoman Linda Mills.
No wonder. Starbucks first quarter profit jumped 10 percent on the sale of specialty drinks last holiday season. Some competitors have caught on. Dunkin Donuts sells gingerbread lattes now, too.
“There are some magic words in retailing -- limited item,” explains Purdue retail management professor Richard Feinberg.
He says department stores can promote huge holiday inventories, but coffee shops just have coffee. “What they need to do is come up with special items to break the habit consumers have of getting the same thing in the same way every single day.”
Even if it’s just putting plain coffee in a pretty red cup.