foreign affairs
July 10, 2014
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The German government on Thursday ordered the top U.S. intel official in the country to leave in the wake of two alleged instances of American spying. The extreme move came after Germany arrested one man and began investigating another for allegedly passing along secret information to the U.S.

"The government takes the matter very seriously," an official in Berlin said, with Chancellor Angela Merkel adding that the U.S. and Germany had "very different approaches" to intelligence gathering.

The expulsion is a low point for diplomatic relations between the two countries, which began to sour when leaked documents from Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency had bugged Merkel's phone. Jon Terbush

campaign 2016
7:02 a.m. ET
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Retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson effectively announced his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on a local TV show on Sunday. He won't be the new candidate on the block for long: On Monday, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina will announce her candidacy, followed a day later by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. This will be Huckabee's third run for the GOP nomination, and the first bid by Carson and Fiorina.

Neither Carson nor Fiorina have ever held elected office, though Fiorina ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in California in 2010. Fiorina is expected to stake her campaign on her stint at HP — a notion many in Silicon Valley find odd, The Guardian notes — and on her gender being an asset in an expected contest with Democrat Hillary Clinton. Peter Weber

numbers might lie
6:36 a.m. ET

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding where to raise your children, assuming you have a choice. According to new research from Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren, your location has a sizable, measurable impact on how much your child will earn as an adult — and if they're right, that's great news for children in the western suburbs of Chicago and northern suburbs of Seattle, but bad news for kids in Baltimore and Charlotte, N.C.

Chetty and Hendren lay out their methodology, data, and rankings at their Equality of Opportunity site, but The New York Times has compiled it into a very handy interactive map. If you visit the story, and don't use a private-browsing page, The Times will take you directly to your county and show you an article based on where you live (you can change location by clicking on a map or searching for a different city.) You can control for income bracket and gender.

Because of the criteria they used, the upper middle part of the country, from Utah to Minnesota, looks pretty good, while the South (minus Texas and Oklahoma) looks pretty bad:

Check out your county at The New York Times. Peter Weber

That's Rich
4:33 a.m. ET

SkyMall may have had a near-death experience, but in-flight magazines are having something of a moment — and one, Rhapsody, is really turning heads. If you haven't heard of Rhapsody, it's probably because you don't fly first class or business class on United Airlines — but you've probably heard of some of the authors publishing original work in the magazine: Joyce Carol Oates, Anthony Doerr, Amy Bloom, Karen Russell, Rick Moody, Emma Straub, and about 25 other well-regarded literary fiction writers.

The New York Times noticed, and they profiled Rhapsody on Sunday, putting the newest A-list literary journal in context:

As airlines try to distinguish their high-end service with luxuries like private sleeping chambers, showers, butler service, and meals from five-star chefs, United Airlines is offering a loftier, more cerebral amenity to its first-class and business-class passengers: elegant prose by prominent novelists. There are no airport maps or disheartening lists of in-flight meal and entertainment options in Rhapsody. Instead, the magazine has published ruminative first-person travel accounts, cultural dispatches and probing essays about flight. [New York Times]

To hit the point home, The Times quotes United's Mark Krolick on what the airline gets out of hiring A-list writers: “The high-end leisure or business-class traveler has higher expectations, even in the entertainment we provide.” As for what the writers get out of it, it's a combination of a solid paycheck, free luxury travel, relatively free reign on what to write (no air disasters), and access to a well-heeled captive audience who might like to buy their books.

And while at least one writer laments to The Times that she wishes the magazine had a broader circulation than just wealthy fliers, it seems you can peruse Rhapsody's back issues online, for free. You're welcome, English majors. Peter Weber

the environment
4:01 a.m. ET

A ship carrying almost 200 tons of ammonium nitrate sank off the coast of Puntarenas, Costa Rica, on Saturday, causing the government to set up a 60-mile-long safety zone.

After the incident, people were told not to go swimming or fishing, but eventually a government spokesman said only small amounts of the chemical, used in the manufacturing of fertilizers and explosives, had been found in the water. Costa Rica's Emergency Commission said it was safe to bathe because the ammonium nitrate dissolved and was taken to sea on the tide, the BBC reports, but no one should fish for the next three days. Officials said they would launch an investigation into the sinking and chemical spill. Catherine Garcia

nepal earthquake
3:40 a.m. ET
David Ramos/Getty Images

Nepal is asking foreign rescuers who came to the country to assist with disaster relief to either help in rural areas or go back home.

The announcement was made after Nepal's emergency relief committee met late Sunday, The Associated Press reports. Information Minister Minendra Rijal said that there is no need for international rescuers in Kathmandu and surrounding urban areas, as any work that still needs to be completed can be done by local workers. More than 4,050 rescue workers from 34 countries came to Nepal after the devastating earthquake that killed at least 7,276 people and injured 14,267 hit on April 25. Catherine Garcia

Johnsplaining
3:16 a.m. ET

The United States has been increasing its battery of standardized tests since the 1990s, and the number has only increased since President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind in 2001. Now, kids take 10 to 20 standardized tests a year, depending on grade, for a total average of 113 by the time they graduate, said John Oliver on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. This isn't sitting well with many children, some of whom don't test well, others who get so nervous they throw up.

"Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of kids will vomit," Oliver said. "Tests are supposed to be assessments of skills, not a rap battle on 8 Mile Road." President Obama campaigned against standardized testing, but only added his own — and both he and Bush (and countless governors) use the same appealing argument: Some schools are failing, and we need accountability. "Unfortunately," Oliver said, "accountability is one of those concepts that everybody's in favor of but nobody knows how to make work — like synergy or maxi-dresses."

This is about where standardized testing proponents should be getting nervous. "Look, at this point, you have to ask yourself if standardized tests are bad for teachers and bad for kids, who exactly are they good for?" Oliver asked. And if you're not familiar with Pearson, the testing giant, prepare to be displeased. Watch below: —Peter Weber

hollywood 411
2:58 a.m. ET
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Avengers: Age of Ultron brought in $187.7 million over the weekend, the second-biggest domestic opening in history.

The movie has earned an estimated $627 million worldwide over the last 12 days, Variety reports, and is on track to pass $1 billion after it opens in China on May 12. Despite competition from the Kentucky Derby, NBA playoffs, and the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight, moviegoers flocked to the film — about 59 percent of the audience was male, 41 percent were over the age of 25, 12 percent were teenagers, and 22 percent were families. Coming in a distant second place this weekend was Age of Adaline with $6.3 million. Catherine Garcia

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