Twenty-five years ago, Chinese soldiers backed by tanks cracked down on protesters, shooting hundreds and possibly thousands of unarmed civilians in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The Chinese mourned victims in private Wednesday, as Tiananmen Square evinced a heavy security presence.
Mike Fleck, who was re-elected three times before he came out as gay in 2012, lost the Republican state house primary to a write-in candidate. So he won as a write-in on the Democratic ballot instead.
The Obama administration has proposed rules for limiting greenhouse gases, but many of the details must still be set by states, leaving utilities unsure about specifics they'll be expected to achieve.
President Obama is delivering the keynote address of his current trip to Europe in Poland. Earlier in the day, Obama is meeting with the president-elect of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.
Everything the Obama administration touches seems to set off a political firestorm. The latest involves Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the prisoner exchange that led to his release by the Taliban.
Problems at the VA are not new; the system has struggled for years to deliver health care in a timely manner. Most of those enduring long waits are older vets from Vietnam, Korea and World War II.
A medical procedure uses material from three people to target problems in mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles that have their own DNA.
There were dueling Congressional hearings on student loans today.
Our colleague, Sally Herships reported on legislation proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; it would allow students to refinance their federal student loans.
We thought we’d compare the debt load for students who graduated from exclusively online program, to the debt load for students whose programs were not entirely online. Financial-aid expert Mark Kantrowitz ran the numbers for us, based on data from the 2011-2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).  Average debt at graduation, by program type | Create Infographics
Percentage of students graduating with debt, by program type | Create Infographics
Chester Nez, one of 29 Navajo men who used their native language to secure U.S. military communications during World War II, died of kidney failure on Wednesday.
There's a new book out today, but it's not exactly the hottest of summer reads.
It's commonly called "The Beige Book", but its formal name is "Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions." Sound exciting?
The Beige Book is a Federal Reserve report that compiles information from local banks and businesses in different districts of the country.
But New York Times Washington Correspondent Binyamin Applebaum says its contents are so dull, they spawned the very idea of the book in the first place back in 1970:
“The head of The Fed was bored of listening to the regional reserve presidents show up at meetings and read long, prepared speeches about how things were going in California and Kansas City and Chicago, and he basically said, ‘Enough! I don’t want to listen to this stuff anymore. I want you all to submit it before the meeting and we’ll make a nice fancy book and distribute it. And anyone who is interested can read it.”
The book’s original cover was actually red, and it was only distributed within The Fed. Until Paul Volker took over the reigns as Fed Chair and came up with an idea:
“Volker had a problem,” Applebaum says. “He was engaged in this big war on inflation and he was trying to drive inflation down. It was making people unhappy, unemployment was high, the economy was not doing that well, Congress was breathing down his neck and they wanted more information about what he was doing. They wanted him to explain what’s going on inside the Fed, and he didn’t want to do that. So he came up with an idea. He said, ‘Hey, we’ll give you this book we’ve been publishing for 13 years at that point. You can have it. Maybe you’ll like to read it. No one around here reads it, but it’s all yours.”
How can you make a book you don’t want people to read even more boring?
“The Fed actually gave it a beige cover to make the point that it was pretty boring,” Applebaum says. “It’s no accident.”
Applebaum says it worked so well that Congress considered changing the cover colors of some of its other reports from green and blue to beige as well.
I’m at work, taking a little web surfing break. I check out vacation rentals on Airbnb, I update my Netflix queue, I glance over a New York Times article. Then I go to Marketplace’s website. That five-minute break was a lucrative one for data brokers: 53 companies are now tracking me, from just those four sites, most using cookies (the top cookie host, by far, was Marketplace itself, 25! trackers hitchhiking on our URL).
But the cookie wasn’t always the sinister character it is today.
"The cookie was invented shortly after HTML itself was invented, in the early to mid 1990s," says Aram Sinnreich, a professor of media at Rutgers University and author of "The Piracy Crusade." Sinnreich says the cookie was created because websites needed to tell advertisers how many visitors they got, and they needed a way to tell the difference between 10 different people visiting their site and one person visiting their site 10 times.
"The easiest way to accomplish this without getting internet users themselves to install a bunch of clunky software," he says, "was to just drop a little piece of code without their knowledge or consent onto their computers, so that the next time they visited, you’d be able to read that code and recognize that they were the same person."
Then websites started using cookies to interact more seamlessly with consumers.
"It was about consumer convenience," says Ryan Calo, a professor of internet and privacy law at the University of Washington. "The idea is that you drop a little file on a person’s computer and then you know them again when you see them."
You have cookies to thank for being auto-logged onto your email, having Amazon remember what you put in your virtual shopping cart last week and having Google remember that you like the mountain landscape background.
Cookies made the internet faster, more convenient and more personal. Consumers and cookies had a sweet, uncomplicated relationship.
"I think the turning point in all this is when ad networks really started to take off," says Gabriel Weinberg, the founder of non-tracking search engine DuckDuckGo. "What the ad network realized is they could drop a cookie and then track you across many different sites and, in essence, build a profile about your browsing habits."
The once-sweet and humble cookie became the linchpin of the $16 billion data mining industry. Those little, innocent files that were making the internet easier to use were spying on us.
But… maybe not for long. For the most part, cookies don’t work on mobile devices. And now companies like Facebook and Google have found a way to replace the cookie.
"If you’ve ever been to a website, and it’s said, 'Log in with your username and password or log in with Facebook,' you’ve seen that technology in action," Sinnreich says.
If you log in the regular way, you’re in cookie-land, but if you log in with Facebook, Google or Twitter, those companies get all of your web surfing information.
"That puts Facebook in a really, really powerful position to really pick up where the cookie left off," Sinnreich says. He says that technology will likely put a handful of companies in control of most of our data.
So…the cookie’s life as the internet’s tracker of choice is crumbling, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away. "We will see tracking move to other fields," Ryan Calo says. "And basically what will be left will be the kinds of uses of cookies for which they were originally developed."
Like remembering what was in your Amazon shopping cart; logging you into your email and remembering the mountain landscape theme you like Google to have.
And consumers’ relationship with the cookie can become uncomplicated once again…. More or less.
"Back to the original cookie… like your grandmother used to make," Calo says.