Apps and gadgets aren't just for teens and tech heads. Their reach and usefulness extends all the way into the American heartland, where farmers are finding more use for new technologies than ever before.
Marketplace's Stacey Vanek Smith recently went to Iowa to report on the farming industry, and found some surprising amenities when taken for a ride in a combine. The CD player was just the beginning – farmer Ben Albright's combine had autopilot, touch screens, air conditioning, and a multitude of settings that wouldn't be out of place in a car. New combines retail for around $500,000.
Apps are also gaining popularity among farmers. Among the most popular are goCrop, which keeps track of irrigation systems, FieldView, which tells farmers what they've planted and where, as well as apps that do things like keep track of humidity, crops, and farm records.
While the changes seem small, the overall result can be quite significant. New technologies allow farmers to be more efficient and productive. And that can mean big money at the end of the harvest.
Speaking of farming and tech, check out these videos of Russian tractors racing, doing acrobatics on front-wheels only, and, of course, crashing into buildings.
We also have stories from Venezuela about rising prices and from China about the travails of Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang.
New data from Europe show growth has likely slowed in the second half of the year, and that unemployment will likely stay high. The same numbers from the European Commission also indicate that recovery will continue in the euro zone, and that growth next year may come in at 1.1 percent.
"The commission's forecasts do confirm the general picture we've been reporting for some time now that the euro zone's economic situation does seem to be stabilizing, and we can expect some sort of resumption of growth for next year," says the BBC's Andrew Walker. "But it has to be said, it is still pretty feeble looking growth, and actually slightly weaker than the previous forecast that we had from the commission.”
The 2009 mutiny by border guards seeking better pay and working conditions left 74 people dead in the capital, Dhaka. The judge in the case called the incidents committed "heinous."
The advocacy group pushing for high-speed rail in the United States begins its annual meeting today in Los Angeles. California is something of a poster child for the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, thanks to a $68 billion plan for a bullet train to connect L.A. and San Francisco.
But many hurdles remain for advocates pushing for greater high-speed rail nationwide. To get there, the U.S. would need to prioritize rail over highway spending, said Stan Feinsod, of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State.
“You can’t buy more lanes,” he said. “Passenger rail is a hell of a lot less expensive than building out your highway network, and trying to add lanes and lanes and lanes. It just doesn’t work.”
Rail will also have to overcome the threat posed by driverless cars and more efficient air travel, said Cato Institute senior fellow Randal O’Toole.
“Rail makes a lot of sense for freight,” he said. “It really doesn’t make much sense for passengers anymore.”