National News

Wildfires Force Evacuation Of Towns, Hospital In Washington State

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-18 04:37

Pateros, a town of about 650 residents in north central Washington, emptied out Thursday night as wildfires continued to grow. One resident described it as looking like "the caldron of hell."

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Berlusconi Underage Sex Conviction Overturned By Italian Court

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-18 04:15

The former Italian prime minister, who was sentenced to seven years last year for sex with a minor and an attempted cover-up, has been acquitted by an appeals court.

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PODCAST: Pop up ads that work

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-18 03:00

In light of the airline tragedy in Ukraine, a look why there isn't a simple list of no-fly zones over world hot spots. Plus, what cap and trade has to do with acid rain. And finally, most people tend to ignore pop up ads, but a new study looks at what kind of ads perform better than others

Rules of thumb for staying informed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-18 03:00

I used to live with two packed suitcases: One at home, one at the office. Whatever I needed for a week on the road if a big story broke. When I left for the BP oil spill, I didn’t come home for four months.

Breaking news can exhibit a mysterious pull over those of us who do this for a living: the need to see things up close, ask questions, witness scraps of history.

In that life before Marketplace, one of the things I covered was aviation. And so I am sadly riveted to the story of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. Exchanging emails with old sources, looking at debris, and imagining the cruel depths 298 families now find themselves in.

Layered on top of the Israeli military invasion of Gaza, so much tragedy and death can be overwhelming. As a prolific social media consumer, I have to say that this post from the satirical @thetweetofgod felt achingly poignant:

I have lost control of the situation.

— God (@TheTweetOfGod) July 17, 2014

Sometimes, at moments like these, we turn away for our own self-preservation.

I’d like to advocate against that.

We live in a remarkable time for storytelling. News outlets are experimenting with all sorts of ways to do journalism. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so many other services let us experience what other people see, think and hear. There is vitriol out there, sure. But there are opportunities for human connection and empathy.

So here are my rules of thumb for a moment like this:

1)     Trust the pros. Breaking stories move fast, and even the best news coverage is never perfect. But professional journalists will do their best to verify, distill, and double check.

2)     Never forget the watching witness. Abraham Zapruder captured perhaps the very first iconic piece of “crowd-sourced” video. A bystander or someone with a cell phone may witness history (I trust services like storyful.com to verify social content).

3)     Remember to be human. Take a moment to learn about those passengers. Each one was loved by someone – probably many someones. Every person on board changed lives, and indeed, at least one altered history.

Silicon Tally: The coolest cooler

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-18 02:00

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news? This week we're joined by Julia Turner, recently named editor-in-chief of Slate.com. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-coolest-cooler", placeholder: "pd_1405680647" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

Keeping teachers in the classroom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-18 02:00

Each year, nearly half a million teachers switch schools or leave the profession altogether. Eric Soule, who landed his first full-time job at a charter school in Riverside, California, in 2013, spent years as a substitute teacher in public schools.

"It really seemed like the school districts were stringing me along," Soule said. "[They said] 'Oh, at the end of the year we can hire you on.' And that happened year after year."

Ellen Moir, CEO of the New Teacher Center, says young teachers, in particular, frequently leave fast.

"Mostly they're getting placed in urban districts or rural America, in some of the toughest schools and some of the most under-served communities," Moir said. "And they are given a sink or swim method."

Many of them swim in the same direction.

"Typically the path is toward higher-wealth, whiter districts, where students can predicatably perform better," said Susan Moore Johnson a Research Professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.

Moore says her research shows that a school's culture plays a huge role. It also indicates that teachers will stay in schools where they have good leadership and feel supported.

Pop up ads lack impact

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-07-18 02:00

Most of the mobile display ads that pop-up on our phones don’t mean a thing -- We ignore them and keep on tapping and swiping. But a study out of Columbia Business School sheds light on what consumers pay attention to in this booming mobile advertising industry.

Miklos Sarvary, the report's co-author, directs the Media Program at Columbia Business School. He says if advertisers want mobile users to think twice about their ads, they should offer up useful items.

“These would be products like cars, or refrigerators, or lawn mowers, so pretty high ticket items, generally,” says Sarvary.   

He says important purchases get more attention than pop ups for pleasure items like movie tickets and jewelry.  

“What happens is that when a little ad like that pops up, it kind of makes you think about the decision again,” he says. “So, it reminds you of the information you already store in your mind.”

Jim Davidson is Director of Research at Bronto Software, which connects retailers with customers on mobile devices.

“Mobile really encompasses a lot of different technologies in a lot of ways that folks shop, and it’s really up to marketers to find the best way to have that conversation,” Davidson says.

Sarvary’s report shows nearly $17 billion was spent on mobile advertising last year, a figure that is expected to quadruple by 2017.

 

Obama: Evidence MH17 Hit By Missile From Rebel-Held Area Of Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-18 01:46

The president says at least one U.S. citizen is among the nearly 300 people killed when the plane crashed in the eastern Donetsk region.

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Israeli Ground Operation In Gaza Continues

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-18 01:40

At least one Israeli soldier and more than two dozen Palestinians have died since tanks rolled in late Thursday. It's the first time in five years that Israel has sent ground troops into a conflict.

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Border Agency Chief Opens Up About Deadly Force Cases

NPR News - Fri, 2014-07-18 01:02

Gil Kerlikowske, head of Customs and Border Protection, tells NPR that he is reviewing scores of incidents. "We need to be better at admitting when we're wrong or where we've made a mistake," he says.

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Better Culture Could Have Prevented Viral Comcast Call

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-17 23:37

A Comcast service call making the rounds this week sounded really familiar to millions of Americans. But some companies have figured out how to make the universally unpleasant experience a lot better.

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Head Scientist At CDC Weighs Costs Of Recent Lab Safety Breaches

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-17 23:36

The mishaps mean federal scientists need to "take a hard look" at all federal research on deadly pathogens and make sure, in each case, that the benefits justify risks, says Dr. Tom Frieden.

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Acid rain: What made Cap and Trade work

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-17 23:12

Our series "We Used to Be China," continues with stories about our country confronting the environmental challenges that now bedevil China. Problems like… acid rain. It was the environmental crisis of the '80s, but a new Clean Air Act in 1990 greatly reduced the pollutants causing acid rain. It did so with something we now call Cap and Trade…setting a maximum level of pollutants and then letting industry decide how to get there.

Listen above for more.

In gaming, a famous face can cost you

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-17 16:11

(Warning: some of the clips below contain strong violence and language.)

Panama's former military dictator Manuel Noriega filed suit against the makers of "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" Tuesday.

Noriega says the blockbuster game uses his likeness without permission and then portrays him as "a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state." In the game, Noriega at first helps, but then eventually betrays the player. In real life, Noriega was an American ally before he was ousted by the U.S. invasion of Panama and landed in prison.

This isn't the first time the Call of Duty series has given a fictionalized take on historical figures. An earlier title let players battle zombies as Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara.

Noriega is seeking damages and lost profits, but does he have a case? Game developers have been sued for using the likenesses of public figures before, here's a look back:

Lindsay Lohan and Grand Theft Auto

Another notable person who has seen better days sued a video game company this month. Lindsay Lohan is claiming a minor character in Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto V" is based on her. The character, Lacey Jonas, is a young, blonde starlet whom the player must help escape from paparazzi.

 The suit claims Rockstar used Lohan's likeness, even in regards to the clothes Jonas wears. The Grand Theft Auto series is known for its biting satire of real-life people, brands and locations (the entire game takes place in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles), and Jonas is certainly spoofing a certain kind of actress.

But it's not clear why Lohan would assume a character this vapid and self-absorbed was a represention of her. Forbes consulted an expert, who was split on the suit's chances.

Athletes and EA Sports

In a landmark settlement, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company officially agreed in May to pay $40 million dollars to a consortium of former college athletes, leaving the NCAA alone in a class action lawsuit over their likenesses dating back to 2009.

EA's annual NCAA football and basketball video games are hugely profitable for the publisher and the NCAA, while individual players are strictly forbidden from making money from their student athletic pursuits. The in-game athletes aren't named, but the plaintiffs argued — and settlement documents showed — that EA modeled the player avatars after real athletes in virtually every way, including age, number, hometown, position, abilities, appearance and so on. The New York Times posted a detailed comparison when the suit was filed.

Everyone and Guitar Hero
“Guitar Hero,” with its miniature instrument controller and inflated price tag, was a surprisingly durable fad through the late 2000s. It spawned sequels, spin-offs and a rival series, “Rock Band” (which added a tiny plastic drum kit).

Both series were in an arms race for the rights to legendary bands’ catalogs and likenesses. Guitar Hero got Van Halen, Aerosmith, Metallica and Jimi Hendrix. Rock Band nabbed Green Day, AC/DC and — in a major coup — the Beatles.

But not every artist was happy with the way they ended up on screen. Courtney Love granted the rights to the late Kurt Cobain’s likeness, but as it turned out players could have the digital Kurt sing more than just Nirvana songs. The result is pretty uncomfortable to watch.

The surviving members of Nirvana expressed disappointment and a furious Love vowed to sue Guitar Hero publisher Activision. No Doubt and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine had a similar gripe over the way their likenesses were used in series spin-off “Band Hero,” and sued Activision for damages.

Axl Rose joined legal dogpile too, over “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.” Rose licensed Guns N' Roses' “Welcome to the Jungle,” but objected to the very prominent inclusion of his former bandmate/worst enemy Slash. Claiming breach of contract, Rose sued for $20 million

Guitar Hero was cash cow, pulling in billions for Activision, but it was outlived by these lawsuits. No Doubt settled for an undisclosed amount in 2012 and Rose’s case was dismissed last year.

Gate Five and Beyonce

This case flipped the script, with a video game developer suing a celebrity to try and use her likeness. Gate Five sued Beyoncé for $100 million, claiming she backed out of a deal to create a dance game called "Starpower: Beyoncé" when her demands for compensation weren't met, which they said cost 70 jobs and massive potential profits.

Beyoncé's people requested the case to be dismissed, but they were denied twice. Gate Five then alleged Bey was courting a better deal from a different developer, and requested more documents. The two parties eventually settled out of court.

In gaming, a famous face can cost you

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-17 16:11

(Warning: some of the clips below contain strong violence and language.)

Panama's former military dictator Manuel Noriega filed suit against the makers of "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" Tuesday.

Noriega says the blockbuster game uses his likeness without permission and then portrays him as "a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state." In the game, Noriega at first helps, but then eventually betrays the player. In real life, Noriega was an American ally before he was ousted by the U.S. invasion of Panama and landed in prison.

This isn't the first time the Call of Duty series has given a fictionalized take on historical figures. The first game let players battle zombies as Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Robert McNamara.

Noriega is seeking damages and lost profits, but does he have a case? Game developers have been sued for using the likenesses of public figures before, here's a look back:

Lindsay Lohan and Grand Theft Auto

Another notable person who has seen better days sued a video game company this month. Lindsay Lohan is claiming a minor character in Rockstar Games' "Grand Theft Auto V" is based on her. The character, Lacey Jonas, is a young, blonde starlet whom the player must help escape from paparazzi.

 The suit claims Rockstar used Lohan's likeness, even in regards to the clothes Jonas wears. The Grand Theft Auto series is known for its biting satire of real-life people, brands and locations (the entire game takes place in a fictionalized version of Los Angeles), and Jonas is certainly spoofing a certain kind of actress.

But it's not clear why Lohan would assume a character this vapid and self-absorbed was a represention of her. Forbes consulted an expert, who was split on the suit's chances.

Athletes and EA Sports

In a landmark settlement, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company officially agreed in May to pay $40 million dollars to a consortium of former college athletes, leaving the NCAA alone in a class action lawsuit over their likenesses dating back to 2009.

EA's annual NCAA football and basketball video games are hugely profitable for the publisher and the NCAA, while individual players are strictly forbidden from making money from their student athletic pursuits. The in-game athletes aren't named, but the plaintiffs argued — and settlement documents showed — that EA modeled the player avatars after real athletes in virtually every way, including age, number, hometown, position, abilities, appearance and so on. The New York Times posted a detailed comparison when the suit was filed.

Everyone and Guitar Hero
“Guitar Hero,” with its miniature instrument controller and inflated price tag, was a surprisingly durable fad through the late 2000s. It spawned sequels, spin-offs and a rival series, “Rock Band” (which added a tiny plastic drum kit).

Both series were in an arms race for the rights to legendary bands’ catalogs and likenesses. Guitar Hero got Van Halen, Aerosmith, Metallica and Jimi Hendrix. Rock Band nabbed Green Day, AC/DC and — in a major coup — the Beatles.

But not every artist was happy with the way they ended up on screen. Courtney Love granted the rights to the late Kurt Cobain’s likeness, but as it turned out players could have the digital Kurt sing more than just Nirvana songs. The result is pretty uncomfortable to watch.

The surviving members of Nirvana expressed disappointment and a furious Love vowed to sue Guitar Hero publisher Activision. No Doubt and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine had a similar gripe over the way their likenesses were used in series spin-off “Band Hero,” and sued Activision for damages.

Axl Rose joined legal dogpile too, over “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.” Rose licensed Guns N' Roses' “Welcome to the Jungle,” but objected to the very prominent inclusion of his former bandmate/worst enemy Slash. Claiming breach of contract, Rose sued for $20 million

Guitar Hero was cash cow, pulling in billions for Activision, but it was outlived by these lawsuits. No Doubt settled for an undisclosed amount in 2012 and Rose’s case was dismissed last year.

Gate Five and Beyonce

This case flipped the script, with a video game developer suing a celebrity to try and use her likeness. Gate Five sued Beyoncé for $100 million, claiming she backed out of a deal to create a dance game called "Starpower: Beyoncé" when her demands for compensation weren't met, which they said cost 70 jobs and massive potential profits.

Beyoncé's people requested the case to be dismissed, but they were denied twice. Gate Five then alleged Bey was courting a better deal from a different developer, and requested more documents. The two parties eventually settled out of court.

FedEx Charged With Shipping Drugs For Illegal Online Pharmacies

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-17 16:03

Prosecutors say the company knowingly distributed controlled substances to customers who had never met with doctors. FedEx says it is innocent and that it will plead not guilty.

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At The Scene Of The Crash: An Attempt To Make Sense Of The Wreckage

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-17 15:45

Audie Cornish talks with reporter Noah Sneider, who's at the crash site of the Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region.

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Libya Asks U.N. For Assistance In Protecting Oil And Airports

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-17 14:42

Fighting worsened at the Tripoli airport and around the country. Libya's central government admitted it is too weak to protect infrastructure or control warring militia groups.

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Sizing Down Food Waste: What's The Worst Thing To Toss?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-17 14:41

Americans throw out a lot of food. And a lot of meat. That means our waste has a bigger impact on the global food supply than vegetarian discards. Why? Blame it on hidden calories.

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