National News

X Games Show The Olympics What The Kids Want

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 16:11

The X Games have changed the lineup and atmosphere of the Winter Olympics with the introduction of snowboarding, half-pipe and now slopestyle. But when a youth-lifestyle, punk-rock sport makes it to the Olympics, some things inevitably change.

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'Crazy' And 'Surreal': Figure Skater Jason Brown's Road To Sochi

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 15:10

Weeks after he turned 19, Jason Brown placed second at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships with an electrifying performance that became a YouTube sensation. "I'm so blown away and so shocked — beyond shocked. It's so surreal to me," he says.

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U.S. Agencies, Tech Firms Agree To Rules On Surveillance Info

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 14:31

While the agreement gives tech companies more options in publishing data about government requests for information, it also includes several limitations. It's part of President Obama's plan to change how U.S. intelligence agencies handle personal data.

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Key Senate Republicans Offer Their Plan To Replace Obamacare

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 14:25

"Obamacare just isn't working," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon. So he and two of his more influential Republican colleagues have proposed yet another plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act.

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Worries About Bird Flu Curtail Chinese New Year Feasts

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 14:00

Serving chicken, pigeon or duck for the holiday may be harder this year for some families in China and Hong Kong. As the deadly H7N9 virus continues to spread, officials in China have closed many live poultry markets, while agricultural workers in Hong Kong plan to cull thousands of chickens this week.

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A high-tech shopping spree: Is Google trying to take over the world?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:55

Jan. 26, 2014: Google purchases artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies for (the rumored price of) $625 million. There’s not much information on what DeepMind is making, but according to The Guardian: "[their] technology would be built into Google's search systems, rather than becoming part of its fast-expanding robotics division. Google has bought eight robotics companies, including Bot & Dolly which made the computer-controlled cameras used in the film 'Gravity.'"

Jan. 13, 2014: Google buys Nest Labs, creators of internet-enabled thermostats and smoke alarms, for $3.2 billion. Though the two companies will remain separate, VentureBeat thinks Google wants to get involved in the "connected home, the notion that all of our appliances and gadgets will soon communicate with one another."

Dec. 10, 2013: Google buys robotics company Boston Dynamics to protect humankind from the inevitable robot uprising, or to help ship packages. You be the judge:

June 11, 2013: Google acquires Waze, a crowdsourced navigation app for smartphones, for $966 million. If you’ve noticed Google Maps better equipped to find a new route because the 405 freeway (or I-95, or the Beltway, or ...) is closed, again, you can thank Waze’s accident and construction reports.

June 4, 2012: Google buys Meebo, an instant messenger service, for $100 million. The service is now closed, and Meebo employees now focus on Google+.

Sep. 8, 2011: Google buys restaurant review company Zagat, for $125 million. The restaurant’s reviews and ratings are now embedded into Google’s search results, Google Maps and Google+ for free.

Aug. 15, 2011: Google purchases cell company Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The purchase includes Motorola’s portfolio of patents and phone manufacturing, but Motorola remains an independent company from Google and even pits their own Android smartphone against Google’s phones.

Unrest overseas ripples into U.S. economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:49

The bottom fell out of the emerging currency market – relatively speaking. Argentina made headlines, and other countries also had problems including Ukraine and Turkey.

“A lot of economies around the world, countries that were doing pretty good…have been running into some troubles in the last six months to a year,” says Tim Fernholz, a business reporter at Quartz. He says those problems all came to a head late last week.  

In some ways we--or rather, the Federal Reserve-- are to blame. As interest rates here rise, some expect that more and more money will come back to the United States, and to other developed economies. 

“People are worried.. that we're leaving these emerging economies outside without a coat,” Fernholz says.

Fernholz says we’re feeling a ripple effect because some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. – including those on the S&P 500 Stock Index – make half of their revenue from outside U.S. borders: “And if economic problems are happening overseas, their bottom line isn’t’ going to look so good. Their stock numbers are not going to look so good.”

Which is what we saw on Friday.  That tumbling stock market in turn means that things tied to the stock market, like your retirement account, probably also took a fall. 

You've Got Mail, And It Smells Like 18th Century Paris

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:36

The oPhone device (the "o" is for olfactory) will be able to send and receive whiffs of preprogrammed aromas remotely. Created by a Harvard professor, it's intended to add the sense of smell to the way we communicate.

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State Of The Union Invitation List: Who Makes The Cut

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:29

Guests who get an invitation to the annual State of the Union address tend to reflect the personal and political aims of the president. Some have won notice during important news events that define the times — like the Boston Marathon bombing.

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For Taiwanese News Animators, Funny Videos Are Serious Work

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:15

The studio responsible for bizarre viral videos featuring 3-D animations of the news is more serious than you'd think. Go behind the scenes at the Taipei-based Next Media Animation to find out why this fast-moving — and controversial — company says it's charting the future of news.

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California Bar Rejects Stephen Glass, Ex-Writer Who Fabricated Stories

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:12

The court was unconvinced that Glass had changed his ways. Glass, the court said, failed to prove that he was of good moral character as the law requires.

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Is grad school "professional suicide"?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:10

One of the things people do when economies slowdown: Go back to school. The hope is, they'll pick up training for new skills along with their law degree or doctorate.

But PhD's don't come cheap, and in fact, consultant Karen Kelsky says getting a doctorate can cost you more than its worth. 

She runs a business that is in part about finding jobs for students with doctorates, and she's an anthropology professor herself.

Kelsky says when it comes to fields like engineering or medicine, funding remains strong and pay in the workforce is high. But for "soft sciences," like political science or anthropology, schools are investing less and less to support advanced degrees:

"It starts with the massive defunding of higher education in the United States. Basically, it has become a revenue-driven institution, and so departments and programs that don't generate revenue in the way that the sciences or engineering or business do, find themselves defunded. So, consequently, in the humanities and social sciences, a typical stipend will be about $15,000. Which - almost anywhere - is not enough to get by."

Kelsky says on top of that, many graduates finish school saddled with debt they can never pay off:

"In the humanities and the soft social sciences, debt can go anywhere from $0 to $250,000, and that's for fields like religious studies, sociology, women's studies and things like that."

Is grad school "professional suicide"?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:10

One of the things people do when economies slowdown: Go back to school. The hope is, they'll pick up training for new skills along with their law degree or doctorate.

But PhD's don't come cheap, and in fact, consultant Karen Kelsky says getting a doctorate can cost you more than its worth. 

She runs a business that is in part about finding jobs for students with doctorates, and she's an anthropology professor herself.

Kelsky says when it comes to fields like engineering or medicine, funding remains strong and pay in the workforce is high. But for "soft sciences," like political science or anthropology, schools are investing less and less to support advanced degrees:

"It starts with the massive defunding of higher education in the United States. Basically, it has become a revenue-driven institution, and so departments and programs that don't generate revenue in the way that the sciences or engineering or business do, find themselves defunded. So, consequently, in the humanities and social sciences, a typical stipend will be about $15,000. Which - almost anywhere - is not enough to get by."

Kelsky says on top of that, many graduates finish school saddled with debt they can never pay off:

"In the humanities and the soft social sciences, debt can go anywhere from $0 to $250,000, and that's for fields like religious studies, sociology, women's studies and things like that."

The Doctor At The Heart Of The U.S.-Pakistan Rift

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

Prickly relations between the U.S. and Islamabad are becoming even thornier because of one issue: the case of Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden in 2011. Afridi is seen as a hero by many Americans, but that didn't deter Pakistan from jailing him for alleged militant ties. The U.S. Congress is withholding $33 million in aid to Pakistan until the doctor is freed. But Afridi's lawyer fears this tactic will antagonize Islamabad. He urgently wants Afridi freed, warning that the doctor is at severe risk of being killed by fellow prisoners.

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No Surprises: Egyptian Military Endorses Its Chief For President

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

Out of Cairo on Monday came new indications that Egypt's military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will run for president in an election expected within the next three months. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt's highest military body, disseminated a message praising Sisi and endorsing him for a presidential bid.

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In Ukraine, Protesters Declare Corruption The Problem

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

Attempts by Ukraine's president to quell anti-government protests — including an offer to install opposition leaders in a reshuffled cabinet — seem to have failed. The protests grew over the weekend and spread beyond the capital, Kiev. The protestors say they are determined to force the president's resignation and end what they call a corrupt and dictatorial regime.

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On Different Frequencies, Two Sides Of Syrian Media Clash

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

For the first time, the Syrian peace conference brought the rival sides together, while Syria's competing media delegations faced off at even closer range. Pro-government and pro-rebel journalists reported on the same events for the first time, side by side. They sparred, traded insults and even threw some punches in a media war that is as hot as the fighting on the ground.

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At Syria Talks, Sides Meet In Person — But Don't See Eye To Eye

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

At the Syrian peace talks, government and opposition representatives held their first face-to-face discussion about a political transition — but by the end of the day, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi had no progress to report. He urged both sides to focus on the desperate humanitarian situation facing Syrians in several besieged cities.

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Alleged Gang Rape In India Draws Spotlight On Village Justice

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

Allegations that a young woman in India was gang-raped on the orders of an informal "Village Council" have sparked outrage across India. The woman was apparently punished for having relations with a man from outside her community. Critics have called for a crackdown on village councils, saying that they are based in a traditional and outdated concept of morality and that they undermine India's established law.

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The President Hopes For State Of The Union To Be A Big Reset Button

NPR News - Mon, 2014-01-27 13:00

The political world is gearing up for President Obama's State of the Union on Tuesday night, an address in which the president gets to outline his priorities for the coming year. With tens of millions of people watching on TV and — the administration hopes — on their cell phones and tablets, the speech offers the chance to reframe the terms of many of the difficult issues that have so far dogged the president's second term.

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