National News

Could Finland Teach The U.S. A Lesson On Guns?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:57

Host Michel Martin looks at gun culture in the America and abroad, and asks two experts what the U.S. can learn from how other countries handle firearms.

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Sweeping the World Cup office pool

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:52

No one won the $1 billion offered by Warren Buffett and mortgage company Quicken Loans during this year’s March Madness, but that’s not going to stop hopeful American workers from throwing a few bucks into their World Cup office pool.

The tournament is underway and the fate of your bracket is likely sealed, but what are the odds that you actually chose that elusive perfect pick?

It turns out that choosing brackets for the World Cup is a lot more complicated than most other matches.

Josh Levin, the executive editor of Slate and host of their sports podcast Hang Up And Listen, says building a perfect bracket for the World Cup is more challenging than the NCAA for one big reason.

“The bracket transmogrifies based on who wins in the group stage,” he says. “In the NCAA bracket, you know that if Duke wins in the first round, then they're going to play a certain team in the second round. In the World Cup, if Brazil wins first in its group then it’s on the left side of the bracket. If they finish second in the group they'll be on the right side of the bracket.”

Yes, he just used the word transmogrifies in a sentence. “So you kind of need to predict how teams are going to do in space and in time,” Levin says.

The hands down favorite to win the competition, with backing from FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, is the home team of Brazil. Silver’s Soccer Power Index developed for ESPN puts Brazil at a 45 percent chance of winning.

“There is an algorithm based on past performance, he looks at how teams have done in the World Cup on home soil,” says Levin.

“It considers the fact that Brazil has not lost a competitive game at home since 1975, which is something you'd probably want to factor in. And also Brazil just has a really, really strong team.”

So if you, Josh Levin, and the rest of your office pick the Brazilians to sweep the World Cup then your decisions in the earlier rounds are really going to matter.

“It could come down to the person who picked Columbia to get out of Group C as opposed to Ivory Coast or the prescient prognosticator who had Uruguay making it to the semifinals,” says Levin.

“So you've got to pay close attention to those early round picks.”

In One Map, The Dramatic Rise Of ISIS In Iraq And Syria

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:41

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, was created just last year, but it has seized many towns and cities in both countries. Here's an animated map showing its gains since the start of 2013.

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Don't have cable and want to watch the World Cup?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:34

While only about 3 percent of Americans claim men’s soccer as their favorite sport, the 2014 World Cup seems to have compelled some non-fans to pay attention.

For the next month, as 32 soccer teams face off in Brazil, people from around the globe will be glued to their TV screens. Most of them will be able to watch the games for free. But if you're part of an ever growing contingency of Americans known as "cord cutters," those who have boldly cancelled their cable subscriptions in favor of streaming content on the internet, you’re going to have to get a little more creative.

Four years ago, over 24 million Americans tuned in to watch the World Cup. (No small potatoes, but still a paltry figure when compared to the 111.5 million people who tuned in to watch this year's Super Bowl.) Since then, cord-cutting has increased by 44 percent, from 5.1 million to 7.6 million households.

If you live in one of those homes, the bad news is ABC is only broadcasting a handful of the matches for free on broadcast TV, and won't be putting any of them online. Most of the games will be shown on ESPN, meaning you'll need a cable subscription if you want to watch. (If you do have cable, you can use the WatchESPN digital video service to stream games.)

That is -- if you want to watch in English.

Spanish language broadcast network Univision may be your saving grace. Univision is streaming the first 56 matches at its website (Google's Chrome browser can translate the site if you can't read Spanish) and Univision will broadcast games after the quarterfinals on TV. Univision pulled in two times the number of viewers as ESPN during the 2010 Cup.

For the more savvy internet users among you, the thing all the cool kids are doing to watch this World Cup is to use a VPN, or virtual private network. VPNs essentially fool a streaming service that is restricted to a certain country into thinking you live there. Tunnelbear, VyprVPN, and Unotelly are all popular and easy to use VPNs.

And, of course, there’s always the old fashioned way: Knock off work early, head to your local bar, plop down on a stool, order a drink, look up at the TV and enjoy. This might not be the most healthy or economical way, but it could be the most fun. But as they say in the commercials, please drink responsibly.

Still not satisfied? Deadspin has put together an exhaustive list, game-by-game, or where you can watch each match online.

Can A Female Politician Be Insulted Without It Being Sexist?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:28

Debate is raging online about whether profane chants directed at President Dilma Rousseff during Brazil's World Cup match against Croatia were sexist.

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6 Questions About Contraception Coverage And The Supreme Court

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:19

The court is expected to render a decision that will determine the implementation of the Affordable Care Act's guarantee that no-cost prescription contraception be part of most health insurance plans.

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Obama Rules Out Troops In Iraq But Says U.S. Is Weighing Other Options

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:18

The president said any action in Iraq will be "targeted and precise" but must be accompanied by political action by Iraqis. The comments come as extremists seized control of parts of Iraq.

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Things your dad likes: Tools, electronics, crackers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:06

Father's Day is coming up, and while your dad probably said that all he wants is a pair of socks or a new tie for a gift, he's really got his eye on that awesome chainsaw or that shiny new smartphone, that is, if you go off of the findings from research organization YouGov, which has a survey of the best perceived brands by fathers. Power-tool maker Craftsman took the top spot, among other home improvement and technology brands.

According to YouGov's BrandIndex survey, household brand Clorox made the biggest leap in positive perception, taking the sixth place on the list, which is possibly indicative of the more active role fathers are taking in household responsibilites. Also moving up into the top 10 was cracker brand Ritz, reminding us of or dads' continued snacking needs as it joins on the list tech companies like Samsung, Sony and Amazon, and the media brands YouTube and the History Channel.

Moving out of the list compared to last year were Cheerios, Johnson & Johnson and M & Ms.

YouGov on their survey methods:

YouGov BrandIndex filtered their entire 1,100+ brand universe for respondents who identified themselves as men age 18 and over with children under 18 years old. The firm then ranked them using their flagship Index score, which measures brand health by averaging sub-scores on quality, satisfaction, impression, value, reputation and willingness to recommend. The scores reflect surveying over the past 30 days.

See the full list in the graphic below.

 

Critics Renew Calls For More Diverse Video Game Characters

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 08:03

Women make up a significant proportion of dedicated gamers, but they were hardly represented on stage and in games previewed at a big game industry trade event in Los Angeles.

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Pakistani Juice Drink Packs A Sweet And Spicy Punch

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 07:58

Sometimes NPR's foreign correspondents take a break from war and other serious business to enjoy daily life in their adopted cities. Here our Pakistan correspondent tries a 'miracle' drink.

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In A First, Afghanistan Is Set To Change Leaders At The Ballot Box

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 06:04

In a country shaped by warlords, Saturday's presidential election features two urbane men with doctorates vying to replace Hamid Karzai. Both want close U.S. relations, including a security deal.

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Crazy Bad Luck: It's Friday The 13th With A Full Moon

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 05:24

The next time this phenomenon will happen is Aug. 13, 2049.

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Exercise And Protein May Help Good Gut Bacteria Get Their Groove On

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 04:38

A new study of athletes suggests exercise may help support a rich, diverse mix of bacteria in the gut. But scientists say the athletes' high-protein diet may also be supporting the community.

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Dancing On A Lark: Gov. Christie Struts His Stuff On 'Tonight Show'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 04:22

The New Jersey governor showed the Evolution of Dad Dancing with Jimmy Fallon, the show's host.

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iPads In Special Ed: What Does The Research Say?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 04:03

There are 8 million iPads in the classroom, but only a few thousand studies of their effectiveness.

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Bergdahl Back In The U.S. To Continue Recovery

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 03:55

The Army sergeant spent five years as a captive of the Taliban. He arrived at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio early this morning after spending nearly two weeks recuperating in Germany.

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Shiite Leaders Urge Iraqis To Rise Up Against Sunni Extremists

NPR News - Fri, 2014-06-13 03:25

The militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria already controls the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and has now taken towns in Diyalah province.

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PODCAST: Open sourced electric cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-13 03:00

Elon Musk announced that Tesla would be opening up its patents for other companies to use. This open source policy could be a shrewd move for the company -- the more there is a culture around electric cars, the better chance they have of actually selling electric vehicles. Plus, President Obama makes his first visit to a Native American reservation as president. Also, with the U.S. market for fish being made up of 90 percent imports, its problematic that one third of that fish is caught illegally. More on the issues involved in combating illegal fishing.

Tesla's move to open source may be good for business

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-13 03:00

Tesla Motors is going open source. Its CEO, Elon Musk, says the electric car company will no longer enforce its patents, in effect allowing competitors not only to peek at the technology Tesla has pioneered, but to copy it.

“Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters,” Musk said in a statement. “That is no longer the case. They have been removed in the spirit of the open source movement for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”

“It is important to understand that, in many ways, patents are a tradeoff,” says R. Polk Wagner, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania. “Just because you have patents doesn’t mean you get anything out of them, necessarily.”

Sure, they can be valuable, but getting them and enforcing them is expensive.

According to Andrea James, an analyst with Dougherty & Co., the reason Tesla is doing this is “to accelerate electric vehicle adoption and innovation.”

“Tesla is really far ahead, and I think they just want to grow the overall market,” she says.

To succeed, Tesla needs more Americans to feel comfortable driving and buying electric cars. If more companies were to make them, that would help.

“It’s not a charity move,” says Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with AutoTrader.com. “It’s a very smart business move.”

Competitors could use the network of charging stations Tesla is installing, or they could buy Tesla batteries.

Other car companies have charted a similar course in the past.  Volvo decided not to enforce its patent for the three-point safety belt. GM shared the technology behind its catalytic converter.

Tesla says the move is in good faith. The company will still apply for patents, and if necessary, Musk says the carmaker won’t be afraid to fight back.

 

Obama will see problems on reservations first hand

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-06-13 02:47

President Barack Obama's visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota Friday will let him get a first-hand look at the challenges facing Native Americans. And there are many.

The Census Bureau says 27 percent of Native Americans are poor. Helen Oliff of National Relief Charities says on the reservations her organization serves, the poverty rate is actually higher, which exacerbates another problem: many Native Americans have little access to fresh, healthy food.

“You have a lot of convenience stores on the reservations," Oliff explains. "Many people are 30 to 60 miles away from the nearest regular grocery store.”

That leads many people to eat the pre-packed foods the convenience stores sell. 

Unemployment is also problematic, partly because it's hard to reach jobs from remote reservations.

“When our reservation area was created, back in the day, it really put us in a box, literally," says Scott Davis, a Lakota Sioux and head of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission.

Davis says the Obama administration has given tribes more autonomy, and President Obama has included the Choctaw Nation in his Promise Zone program, which helps impoverished communities access federal resources. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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