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It's not all bad
April 22, 2013

Neil Diamond's soft rock favorite "Sweet Caroline" has been playing during the eighth inning at Boston Red Sox home games since 2002 for no other reason than to "send sweetness over the Fenway speakers." After the horrid Boston Marathon bombings last week, the city has never needed positivity more. Which is why Diamond took a redeye flight from Los Angeles to Boston on Saturday for an impromptu Fenway performance to thank first responders and members of law enforcement. As a plus, the Red Sox won. Lauren Hansen

Sharing Economy
12:58 a.m. ET
EDUARDO MUNOZ/Reuters/Corbis

On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Francisco granted class action status to a lawsuit by three Uber drivers who argue that they are more employees than independent contractors, as Uber contends. The class includes up to 160,000 Uber drivers in California, as long as they have not waived their right to class-action arbitration. Uber says that leaves a small number of potential plaintiffs, while the lawyer representing the drivers says it will include many thousands, and many more if the class action is widened to include all U.S. Uber drivers.

Class action suits generally give plaintiffs more leverage, and if the case ultimately goes against Uber, the car-service startup could be forced to pay for its drivers' Social Security, workers comp, unemployment and health insurance, and automotive maintenance costs. That would upend Uber's entire business model and possibly affect other companies based on the "sharing economy." Uber says it will appeal Judge Edward Chen's ruling, while plaintiff lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan tells The Wall Street Journal that she and her clients "will seek reimbursement for expenses, as well as tips that were not distributed to Uber drivers, around the country." Peter Weber

last night on late night
12:37 a.m. ET

Anthony Sadler, one of the three Americans awarded France's top civilian honor for stopping a heavily armed man from shooting up a train from Amsterdam, was on The Tonight Show on Tuesday to tell what happened. It's a pretty amazing story, and Sadler told Jimmy Fallon he could recount it all day. One of the details really struck Fallon, however: "We were having so much fun in Amsterdam, we almost stayed," Sadler said, explaining why he and his two friends were very nearly not on the train.

Get it? They had been in Amsterdam? They were asleep on the train? If not Fallon sort of beat the inference to death, singing reggae in case the ganja vibe wasn't clear enough. He went on with the innuendo for so long that Sadler's laughter started to get a little polite. You can watch Sadler's heroic tale, and Fallon's attempts to... lighten the mood? below. Peter Weber

Iran nuclear deal
September 1, 2015
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said they will support the Iran nuclear deal, putting the White House just one vote short of the 34 senators needed to sustain his veto of the Senate's probable disapproval resolution. Coons had expressed strong reservations about the deal as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but said in a speech early Tuesday that while it "is not the agreement I had hoped for," it is the best realistic option to constrain Iran.

The deal also got the endorsement of two prominent House Democrats on Tuesday, Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), who has close ties to pro-Israel advocacy groups. Congress will open debate on the binding disapproval resolution next week, but if another senator goes on record as being in favor of the deal, the next hurdle for the White House will be getting 41 senators to support a filibuster, sparing President Obama a veto entirely. Peter Weber

China Slumping
September 1, 2015

American politics still tends to think of China in terms of cheap and plentiful exports, and as the hoarder of the globe's manufacturing jobs. But that industrial boom required enormous raw materials, and it came with a rising middle class that wants stuff.

As Joseph P. Quinlan, a chief market strategist at Bank of America, demonstrated in a recent note to clients, that's made China a key source of global consumption as well — a title our politics tends to bestow on America itself. In fact, China recently overtook the U.S. in terms of how many countries rely on it to buy their exports:

(Graph courtesy of Business Insider)

If the recent slowdown in China does spread, this is the route by which it will happen: By depriving the world of the aggregate demand it needs to keep providing enough jobs and rising income to everyone around the globe.

This also clarifies what should worry us about China. Yes, its authoritarianism is wrong. And yes, it would probably be wise to liberalize its markets. But in many ways China faces the same problem as the already-democratic and already-liberalized U.S. and Europe: Whether its socioeconomic order can keep enough purchasing power in the hands of enough ordinary people to maintain aggregate demand. Jeff Spross

This just in
September 1, 2015
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If all you've ever wanted was an Egg McMuffin for dinner, you're finally in luck. McDonald's announced Tuesday that, following months of deliberation and testing, it will begin serving breakfast all day long on Oct. 6 in all 14,300 of its U.S. restaurants.

Under the current rules, McDonald's breakfast fans have to sacrifice precious beauty sleep to snag a hash brown before the cutoff at 10:30 a.m., when the chain switches from heating up eggs to heating up Big Macs.

After years of customer complaints, McDonald's USA President Mike Andres said the company had finally decided to give the people what they wanted. "This is the consumers' idea," Andres told The Wall Street Journal. Since the fast-food chain's sales have been in a slump, Andres and McDonald's franchisees are hopeful that all-day breakfast sales could offer the boost they've been looking for, even if preparing two kinds of meals at once does introduce some additional costs and complexities.

Mark your calendars. Becca Stanek

marijuana vs. tobacco
September 1, 2015
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Today's college students prefer lighting up a joint to sparking up a cigarette, a new study released Tuesday revealed. The number of U.S. university students using pot a on near-daily basis has reached a 35-year high, supplanting cigarettes as the most popular smokeable substance.

Nearly six percent of college students smoke pot "either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days," A 2014 University of Michigan survey of full-time college students found.

But, parents, your kids still aren't as big potheads as you were back in the day. While the latest pot-smoking stats are dramatically up from just four years ago in 2007, when just 3.5 percent of students reported using pot on a near-daily basis, kids today still haven't reached the 7.2 percent high of 1980.

Meanwhile, cigarette smoking's popularity has seen a drop that's more dramatic than marijuana's rise. While 19 percent of college students identified as "heavy cigarette smokers" back in 1999, only 5 percent of students do now. Becca Stanek

too good to be true
September 1, 2015
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google's self-driving cars are really, really good at following traffic safety rules. But they still get into crashes — because human drivers are so bad at following the rules.

Since 2009, Google's driverless cars have been in 16 car crashes, with every single case being the fault of a human driver. The company was responsible for a crash only once — when a human employee, and not the computer, was controlling the self-driving car. Indeed, when Google's driverless cars follow the rules to the T, they actually get into trouble:

One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn't get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google's robot. [The New York Times]

"The real problem is that the car is too safe," one expert explained. "They have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture."

Consider:

[Google's car] leaves what is considered the safe distance between itself and the car ahead. This also happens to be enough space for a car in an adjoining lane to squeeze into, and, [Nationwide Insurance safety expert Bill] Windsor said, they often tried. [The New York Times]

Dmitri Dolgov, the head of Google's Self-Driving Car Project, was blunt about the solution: For driverless cars to work the way they're supposed to, human drivers simply need to be "less idiotic." Jeva Lange

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