National News

Holy Bible Could Become Louisiana's Official Book

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:27

Lawmakers have proposed a bill that would make the Bible the state's official book, but critics say it is unconstitutional and would open Louisiana up to legal challenges.

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Pass the pecans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:22

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up April 17:

  • Events continue at the National Cathedral in Washington in observance of Holy Week.
  • NASA is scheduled to make an announcement—a discovery by its Kepler Space Telescope.
  • Securities, salsa and soda. Goldman Sachs, Chipotle and Pepsi are slated to report quarterly earnings.
  • "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" has a birthday. Actress Rooney Mara will be 29.
  • And April is National Pecan Month. That's just nuts.

Judge Overturns North Dakota's Strict Abortion Law

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:12

U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland called the state's ban on abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy "invalid and unconstitutional."

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What happens when there are 9 billion mouths to feed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 10:00

As it stands right now, the world has a little over 7 billion people. 

Come 2050, however, that "7" will look more like a "9," and those 2 billion extra mouths could mean disaster for the planet's already-strained resources.

Jonathan Foley wrote the cover story for the May issue of National Geographic magazine, kicking off an eight-month series on food and sustainability. In his words: "We've got to get more value out of agriculture.We need to figure out how to feed a growing and more prosperous world, but we also have to figure out how to make it more sustainable."

Foley teamed up with National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz on this "big-picture approach" to landscapes of industrial food:

On the Vulgamore farm near Scott City, Kansas, each combine can harvest up to 25 acres of wheat an hour—as well as real-time data on crop yields. Most of the food Americans eat is now produced on such large-scale, mechanized farms, which grow row after row of a single crop, allowing farmers to cover more ground with less labor.

George Steinmetz/National Geographic

At Granja Mantiqueira in Brazil eight million hens lay 5.4 million eggs a day. Conveyor belts whisk the eggs to a packaging facility. Demand for meat has tripled in the developing world in four decades, while egg consumption has increased sevenfold, driving a huge expansion of large-scale animal operations.

George Steinmetz/National Geographic

Only the Brazil nut trees—protected by national law—were left standing after farmers cleared this parcel of Amazon rain forest to grow corn. Despite progress in slowing deforestation, this northern state of Pará saw a worrying 37 percent spike over the past year.

George Steinmetz/National Geographic

At the Nutribras pig farm in Mato Grosso, Brazil, sows are confined to sectioned crates that allow a mother to suckle her piglets without acci­dentally crushing them. Hog farms can be big polluters—the average 200-­pound pig produces 13 pounds of manure a day—but Nutribras recycles waste as fertilizer and methane power.

George Steinmetz/National Geographic

At Monsanto’s North Carolina lab, corn plants emerge from an automated photo booth that documents their growth. The company is trying to develop strains of corn and soybeans that need less water and fertilizer—a goal that’s eluded biotech thus far. Reducing the use of such resources is key to feeding the world in the coming decades. 

George Steinmetz/National Geographic

Check out the entire series on National Geographic's website.

Boston Bombing Defendant Can See Victims' Autopsy Photos, Judge Says

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 09:38

Prosecutors said it would disturb the families of those who died to know that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could view those images. The judge ruled Tsarnaev has the right to see such evidence.

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Washington State Mudslide Death Toll Rises To 39

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:31

The number of missing is still unclear, but at last count, authorities said seven people remained unaccounted for from the March 22 mudslide near the community of Oso.

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Medicare Kept Paying Indicted, Sanctioned Doctors

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 08:00

Among doctors who received payments from Medicare in 2012 are dozens who had been kicked out of Medicaid, or charged with fraud, or settled fraud cases out of court, a ProPublica investigation finds.

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Professional video gamers earn lots of real life dollars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 07:38

In recent years, competitive online gaming, known as eSports, has grown in popularity and scope. Professional video game players face off in matches broadcast to global audiences, sometimes for hundreds of thousands of dollars, in arenas filled with tens of thousands of fans.

At the recent Call of Duty World Championship in Los Angeles, two four-man teams of gamers -- their shirts covered in corporate logos -- faced off for the top title. The gamers  competed in front of a studio audience, which peered into a control room constructed on a gunmetal stage. On the side of that stage sat the play-by-play men, who called the action in suit and ties.

$1 million in prizes was on the line at the tournament, which was broadcast online for free by Major League Gaming. MLG is an eSports promoter that's been around since 2002, when most of America was on dial-up.

"Internally, we refer to ourselves as the e-ESPN," says MLG CEO and co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni. "I saw things like extreme sports taking off and realized that we were on the verge of this technological revolution that was going to allow us to have a global, connected, digital sport."

MLG has built its success by promoting live events for shooter genre-games like "Call of Duty" and "Halo." These are pumped-up versions of the gamer tradition of having friends over to play in front of the TV. The spread of broadband in the U.S. leveled the playing field, making it possible for even more gamers to compete as pros.

"Without broadband internet, you simply can't practice games at a professional level," says Jason Lake, who should know. He's the founder and CEO of CompLexity Gaming. Its "Call of Duty" team took home the $400,000 grand prize at the World Championship.

"Complexity in its simplest form is, I guess you could say, the LA Lakers of video games," says Lake. "Except we play multiple games instead of just basketball."

It has the look of a lot of new media companies: one part talent agency, one part marketing firm. Complexity lets the players keep any competition prize money they earn. Instead, the company makes its revenue from marketing deals.

"We're always keeping an eye on the next game because it's our business to do so, as we need to find the stars and get them under contract before our competition does," says Lake, who compares the current state of eSports to the Wild West.

Promoter MLG has locked up official "Call of Duty" matches and has even started its own streaming platform. Other promoters, like the Electronic Sports League, are using the game streaming juggernaut Twitch.tv as their platform of choice. A recent event in Katowice, Poland drew more than 643,000 simultaneous viewers at its peak -- double the previous record.

A new generation of gamers is discovering eSports, and what was once a subculture inside a subculture is on the verge of going mainstream.

This story was produced by TurnstyleNews.com, a project of Youth Radio

The Ultimate Animal Experience? Losing A Memory Quiz To A Chimp

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 07:34

You've swum with dolphins, ridden camels, stalked tigers. Now, try taking a memory test with a chimp — and losing. It's fun, humbling and mind-boggling.

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PODCAST: China's slowing growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 06:55

China’s first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 2014 was 7.4 percent, the slowest China’s economy has grown in a year and a half.  Markets in Asia rose because of China’s GDP news. Slower growth, however, could be an indication that China’s leadership is serious about making tough changes to its economic model.

If you're a shrimp lover, you may be wondering why you're paying more for your favorite shrimp cocktail or Pad Thai. It's a bacterial infection ravaging shrimp farms in Southeast Asia called "early mortality syndrome" or EMS. The disease doesn't affect people, but it kills baby shrimp. The resulting shortage is causing price spikes.

Santa Clara County in the Bay Area has the fifth largest homeless population in the US. The area is also home to some of the country's most expensive real estate. And that's got the area's homeless population turning to some unlikely places for shelter.

Dozens Of Girls Abducted In Nigeria

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 06:48

The Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected. It is also being blamed for Monday's bomb attack that killed more than 70 people in Nigeria's capital.

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Iraq's Infamous Abu Ghraib Prison Temporarily Closed

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 06:44

The country's Justice Ministry made the announcement that it was moving the prison's 2,400 inmates because of fears that Sunni insurgents might overrun the complex.

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Revisiting Pulitzer Nominees That Touch On Issues Of Race

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 05:30

The announcement of the winners and finalists for the Pulitzer Prizes gives us an opportunity to herald great journalism that illuminates matters relating to race, ethnicity and culture.

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43-Year-Old Cold Case Closed: South Dakota Girls Died In Accident

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 05:14

The two teens disappeared in 1971. Last year, their bodies were found in the Studebaker they were last seen in. Now, authorities say it appears they mistakenly drove into a creek.

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Tasting With Our Eyes: Why Bright Blue Chicken Looks So Strange

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 05:01

The color of food can affect how we perceive its taste, and food companies aren't afraid to use that to their advantage. An artist tests perceptions by dousing familiar foods with unorthodox colors.

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In Ukraine: Reports Of Soldiers Switching To Pro-Russia Side

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 03:55

As the government tries to assert control in the eastern part of the nation, there's word that some Ukrainian troops may now be on the side of locals who wish to join Russia.

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.buzz and .pics: Your site here

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 03:20

"After hearing all the .buzz and .reviews surrounding .london, we’ve finally settled on the .uk as our destination for our 2014 .vacations": these dot-words are possible future top-level domain names expected to be released in the upcoming months since the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began its rollout of new top-level domain names on January 24 of this year.

Since its inception, over 175 domain names have been created, and on Wednesday, you can start to register domain names ending in .holiday and .marketing. 

  • Marketplace reported on the new domain frontier earlier this year when things got underway, and here's an update on how to create your own .holiday: 
  • You can visit hockey.today, jamesforbes.photography, or vintageelectric.bike to see these new domain names in action. 
  • The most popular names thus far include .guru, .berlin, .photography, .email and .today.
  • Some companies are pushing for industries to cluster around specific names.

For example, luxury brands such as Chanel, Balenciaga, Ferragamo and Harry Winston, Isabel Mirant, and a few others have already registered with the domain name .luxury, according to Zoe Coady of Brandstyle Communications.

".Luxury is providing an innovative platform and competitive advantage for companies to position themselves within the luxury space. For the first time, luxury goods and services will now be found in one place online," said Monica Kirchner, CEO, .Luxury.

Here's a screenshot from the TSOHOST.com website displays domain names expected to launch April 2014: 

Hundreds Missing After Ferry Sinks Off South Korea's Coast

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-16 02:55

Most of the passengers, according to news reports, were high school students and teachers on a school trip. Of the nearly 500 people who were on board, nearly 300 were initially unaccounted for.

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Happy 50th birthday, Ford Mustang

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 02:36

If you're in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday and look way, way up, you might see a Mustang perched on the observation deck of the Empire State Building -- a triple yellow, 2015 model. It's Ford's way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic car. The Mustang's design was so innovative it had a huge impact on auto makers and car culture, and Ford is still making the cars today.

Mark Takahashi, an editor with automotive website Edmunds.com, says the first Mustangs sold for around $2,300. When the first Mustang came out, in 1964, it was a hit.

"People driving around the first Mustangs were being hunted down on boulevards, being asked to pull over, so they could take a look at the car," he says. "You pull into a parking lot and you're just swamped with people – it was just such a big deal back then."

The Mustang's sales, he said, blew away expectations. "They expected to sell 100,000 the first year, and they ended up selling 100,000 the first three months."

David Whiston, an equity analyst with Morningstar, says the Mustang was built on the platform of another car, the Falcon, which saved a lot on development, engineering and design costs.

"It was sporty, it was cool. It was something you wanted to drive, or take to the beach, but it was also -- and the key thing for why it was still around -- it was affordable."

A lot of automakers today, notes Whitson, are interested in building multiple models on the same platform. Luckily he says, they won't have to reinvent the wheel.

Attack of the shrimp (prices)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-16 02:34

If you're a shrimp lover, you may be wondering why you're paying more for your favorite shrimp cocktail or Pad Thai. It's a bacterial infection ravaging shrimp farms in Southeast Asia called "early mortality syndrome" or EMS. The disease doesn't affect people, but it kills baby shrimp.

Shrimp farms in China, Vietnam, Thailand and Mexico have all been affected, but production in Vietnam and Thailand has dropped by more than half. Now the U.S. is getting most of its shrimp from India, not Thailand, and the shortage has caused price spikes.

"I would say the import prices went up anywhere from 50 to 100 percent, depending on what the item was," says Marc Nussbaum, president and COO for shrimp and seafood importer International Marketing Specialists. "Due to this, retailers have moved their prices up."

And that, dear consumer, is why you may opt for the fettucine alfredo instead of shrimp scampi next time you eat Italian.

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