Impatient gardeners don't have to wait for summer to harvest salad fixings. A surprising variety of crops will bring homegrown produce to your table in as little as three weeks.
General Motors is signaling its plans to ask a bankruptcy judge for protection from lawsuits related to a defective switch recall. This could further complicate its current public relations crisis.
The Russian economy is beginning to suffer fallout from the crisis in Ukraine.
Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told parliament in Moscow today that growth slowed sharply to just 0.8 percent in the first quarter -- far short of the earlier prediction of 2.5 percent. The minister said that the Ukrainian turmoil had spooked investors, and capital is fleeing the country at a record rate. Earlier in the week, the Russian finance minister forecast that if the capital flight continues the economy could see zero growth this year. Independent observers are equally gloomy.
"Everything seems to be going in the wrong direction for Russia at the moment,” says Raoul Ruparel of the Open Europe think tank in London. "It’s really due to increasing uncertainty around the situation in Ukraine and potential sanctions.”
So far, the U.S. and the Europeans have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on certain Russian and Ukrainian officials. The European Union has threatened to escalate the sanctions if peace talks due to begin in Switzerland on Thursday fail to make progress, and if Russia persists with what the EU calls its “provocation.”
But Russian President Vladimir Putin seems unfazed by all the threats.
"Regaining Russian lands is taking precedence over practical , economic considerations," says Daragh McDowel of the Maplecroft research house.
Other analysts argue that Putin has no reason to feel seriously threatened -- yet.
"The Russians have the third largest hard currency reserves in the world – a half a trillion dollars' worth - and that could cushion the capital flight," says Sam Charap of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "So I don’t see a dramatic, huge, short-term economic impact from this."
A European embargo on imports of Russian oil and gas or a ban on Russian banks to stop them dealing in western financial markets could be a different matter. That could bring Russia to its knees. But such drastic action – which could also inflict real economic damage on Europe - seems highly unlikely... unless Russia invades eastern Ukraine.
Hundreds are missing after a ferry sank Wednesday off South Korea's southern coast. Reporter Jason Strother in Seoul offers details on the latest developments.
Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet Thursday with officials from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union. They will discuss the crisis in Ukraine. While the Obama administration has said it has overwhelming evidence that Moscow is stirring up the unrest in eastern Ukraine, it says it wants to wait before expanding sanctions. Analysts say Washington has few other options.
The College Board outlined changes today for its SAT, pairing the news with a few sample questions. NPR's Cory Turner details the makeover students can expect to find in spring of 2016.
Ukrainian tanks arrived in the city of Kramatorsk Wednesday morning. By the time they rolled out of the city, they were flying Russian flags. People in Kramatorsk tell the story of what happened.
The new version of the standardized test for college admissions, set to go into effect in 2016, will do away with obscure vocabulary words and cut multiple choice answer options from five to four.
A plan to replace imported oil with domestic natural gas has led to fuel shortages and long lines in Pakistan. A businessman has spent $500,000 of his own money to develop an affordable solar car.
Robert Rizzo, who paid himself an $800,000 salary for running the small town of Bell, Calif., took advantage of the fact that there were "no checks and balances" in city government, the judge said.
Jen Beeman is a pattern maker based in Chicago. She runs the patternshop Grainline Studio.
Here's how she describes her job:
"Nobody ever realizes that people are involved in the making of your clothes anymore. People just assume that it’s a machine that makes our clothes. We’re so removed from how our garments or products in general are made that they never assume that there’s a person who does that.
With pattern making, if you can imagine something you want to make, then you can make it because you have the tools to make the pattern to make that a reality. And that’s really exciting to me – the creativity.
What it involves is a large work table, brown paper, 90lb craft paper, rulers, and a pencil. That’s pretty much it."
The Archer Button Up shirt is one of Grainline's most popular patterns.Courtesy of Jen Beeman/ http://shop.grainlinestudio.com/product/archer-button-up-shirt
"[My job]’s going away because computers are making things more efficient. And you need less patternmakers to do the same amount of work and also things are getting outsourced overseas where the things are being made. But for me, it means that you need to be more creative and think outside the box to make it a viable career.
In 2009, I randomly started a blog and published my first pattern in, I think, 2010. And from there, it’s taken off. There are people in high school who buy them, and I’ve had people email me who are in their eighties. I’m just kind of flabbergasted that that many people are using my patterns and it is world-wide too which blows my mind.
I’ve thought a lot about what I would do if I couldn’t do patternmaking, and I honestly can’t come up with an answer. And I know that’s super lame. But I just really love what I’m doing. And I just know I’m really, really lucky to be able to do what I do."
Hear more stories in our Disappearing Jobs series:
When Syreeta McFadden was young, she dreaded being photographed. Cameras made her skin look darkened and distorted. Now a photographer herself, she's learned to capture various hues of brown skin.
Wearables like smartwatches have been the techie dream since forever. Now it seems as though the dreamm may come true. The mobile revolution has allowed hardware makers to create devices that can fit on your wrist - devices that have the same computing power as devices that used to sit on your desktop.
But while the electronics have shrunk, the batteries haven't, says Marc van den Berg. He's a venture capitalist at Technology Partners in Palo Alto, Calif. On an iPhone, for example, the battery takes up nearly half the real estate of the device.
"If my watch is going to become my new smart phone I don’t want the watch to be a nice piece of jewelry and for me to have to wear a big arm band battery next to it," van den Berg says.
In the past, the battery business wasn't as sexy as the software or mobile hardware biz. But the challenge of powering mobile and wearable devices has sparked a renewed excitement in battery technology among tech companies and investors in Silicon Valley. And it's not just small batteries people are excited about.
"The investment community sees the need -- certainly in consumer electronics - but we also have the automobile marketplace and we have utility scale storage devices," van den Berg says. "All three of those things are the demand that the investment community has woken up to."
Just down the road from van den Berg, Yi Cui is working in his lab ast Stanford, where he's a professor. He’s also the CEO of a venture backed start-up called Amprius, which tests the boundaries of battery technology. The company counts former Google CEO Eric Schmidt as one of its big name investors.
"My group invented paper batteries and textile battery," he says. And in this lab, Cui also developed a battery that uses silicon, which he sells through Amprius.
Cui says batteries are hard to develop because they live in the world of material science or very simply put, it all depends on finding the right material. Sometimes, materials like paper don’t hold enough charge. Or others like metals, can be too expensive. And often they can be dangerous.
"The safety concern is there. Make sure the packaging is good. You don’t leak out anything bad for your body," he says. Sorting through those issues takes a lot of research, time and testing.
He shows me his battery testing machine. It’s around 4 feet high and has about a 100 little slots. In them, flat silver button batteries, like the ones in a watch. The chip uses silicon, and Cui says it allows the battery to lasts 25 percent longer than other batteries. And Amprius is selling a small number of them to Asian smartphone manufacturers.
Jim Kim is a venture capitalist at Formation 8 and he’s rooting for Amprius.
But, he says, "There’s a valley of death that exists between the research lab and commercialization."
He says while venture capitalists might be funding the research, nobody is paying to manufacture the batteries on a mass scale, at least not in the U.S.
"If you think about what needs to be done, you have to build a plant and that’s very expensive," he says. "And this is a process that takes a long time to tune. You have to be safe with it. If you make a mistake, it’s catastrophic."
Kim says a battery factory can cost up to hundreds of millions of dollars. While the luxury carmaker Tesla wants to build a factory, Kim says it’s mainly Korean conglomerates like LG that are investing, not companies in the U.S.
"And then you’ve had Panasonic, Samsung BYD and Lishen in China, who have built their factories on the back of government subsidies," he says. "Those are the players who are now dominating the market and that’s a shame."
What motivated the former NSA contractor to divulge carefully guarded NSA secrets? A new Vanity Fair article takes a look back at the "kid from the Maryland suburbs."