Eighteen years ago, Dean Karlan was a fresh, bright-eyed graduate student in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He wanted to answer what seemed like a simple question:
"Does global aid work?" Karlan says.
He was reading a bunch of studies on the topic. But none of them actually answered the question. "We were tearing our hair out reading these papers because it was frustrating," he says. "[We] never really felt like the papers were really satisfactory."
Just a few months ago McDonald's was showing no love for kale.
In a TV ad promoting the beefiness of the Big Mac, the chain poked fun at the leafy green and other vegetarian fare: "You can't get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa," a low voice quips as the camera focuses on a juicy burger. "Nor will it ever be kale."
But the chain is now showing it some affection. McDonald's has announced that it's testing a new breakfast bowl that blends kale and spinach with turkey sausage and egg whites. McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb says the bowls are "freshly prepared."
For an estimated 50 to 60 percent of Detroit drivers, it's actually a very good deal: "They're paying nothing, because they don't buy insurance," says Wayne Miller, an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit.
He studies insurance and says Detroiters, who pay some of the highest insurance rates in the nation, have found other ways to game the system.
The latest robot sensation in Japan is so lifelike that when she was on the floor of a Tokyo department store recently, she was confused for a human being. The new humanoid's name is Aiko Chihira, and she was working in customer service, clad in a traditional silk kimono.
Senate leaders were all smiles Wednesday after they broke a 24-hour impasse and announced they had reached a deal on how to move forward on a fast-track trade negotiating bill. That legislation would give the president expedited authority to enter into a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries, otherwise known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.
But how senators will vote on this bill depends largely on how they feel about TPP. And there's one problem.
Santa Monica, Calif., is cracking down on Airbnb and the rest of the short-term rental industry. Tuesday night, the Santa Monica City Council adopted its home-sharing ordinance, which bans the rental of an entire unit for less than 30 days and requires those who take part in allowable home-sharing to obtain a business license from the city and pay a 14% hotel tax. The law takes effect June 15.
Amtrak was formed in the 1970s out of the ashes of several bankrupt rail lines, including the Penn Central. Its has been criticized for poor service, and shaky finances, but its safety record has been good.
More than 31 million passengers rode Amtrak in fiscal year 2013, the last for which figures are available. In the Northeast Corridor, more than 2,000 trains operate daily on Amtrak's rails, between commuter lines and Amtrak trains. And far more passengers ride Amtrak between Washington, New York and Boston than fly.
In recent years, Twitter has become the go-to destination for news junkies. Now, Facebook is entering a deal with nine news organizations, including The New York Times, NBC News and Buzzfeed, to run some of their in-depth articles, photos and videos inside Facebook. No need to leave the app!
One day after Senate Democrats blocked the "fast-track" trade authority bill that has been championed by both President Obama and Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says an agreement has been reached to move forward.
The solution calls for separate votes on bills that Democrats had wanted to move as a single package on the floor, according to NPR's Ailsa Chang. Ailsa says the Senate will vote on a customs enforcement bill that includes Sen. Charles Schumer's safeguards aimed at reducing currency manipulation.
Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross he has said all he wants to say about Brian Williams, the man who succeeded him in the anchor's chair and who is serving a six-month suspension for exaggerating his experiences in the Iraq War.
Here's the exchange:
Gross: I just want to start by saying my understanding is you've said all you care to say about Brian Williams, true?
The Women on 20s campaign, which seeks to put a female face on the $20 bill, has announced a winner: Harriet Tubman, the escaped slave whose ingenuity and courage led other captives to freedom.
Tubman narrowly edged Eleanor Roosevelt, finishing with 118,328 votes to Roosevelt's 111,227, according to Women on 20s. More than 600,000 votes were cast over 10 weeks, including more than 350,000 in the final round that began on April 5.
Early on, Roosevelt had led Tubman by nearly 15,000 votes, but the final round brought a reversal.
In the late 1990s you could have taken what hospitals charged to administer inpatient chemotherapy and bought a Ford Escort econobox. Today, average charges for chemo, not even counting the price of the anti-cancer drugs, are enough to pay for a Lexus GX sport-utility vehicle.
Hospital prices have risen nearly three times as much as overall inflation since Ronald Reagan was president. Health payers have tried HMOs, accountable care organizations and other innovations in efforts to control them, with little effect.
Smartphone sales in China contracted by about 4 percent year-on-year from January through March, according to International Data Corp., the American market analysis firm. Sales for the first quarter were just under 100 million. IDC says this is the first time in six years that the smartphone market in China declined year-on-year.
Is Sir Topham Hatt a robber baron or a paternalistic CEO? Are Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends part of a union? How does anyone make money on the Island of Sodor?
Turns out, these are some of the serious issues that have perplexed more than one grown-up forced to read or watch Thomas & Friends for the umpteenth time with their kids. On the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series, the books by Reverend Wilbert Awdry that spawned the shiny engines, we explore this elaborate train of thought.