National News

A 'threat' to broadcast TV heads to D.C.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-18 02:52

A case going before the Supreme Court next Tuesday pits traditional television broadcasters against Aereo, which lets customers record broadcast TV in their local markets and then watch programs via television, computer, tablet or smartphone. The technology that makes it possible is a farm of thousands of tiny antennas, each smaller than a nickel.

"It is just racks and racks of storage equipment and transcoding equipment for rendering the signal, storing the signal, and providing recording functionality for the consumers," says Aereo's chief executive, Chet Kanojia, at one such data center, a 10,000-square-foot facility in Brooklyn.

The antennas pick up signals coming from the nearby Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower. Customers are assigned an antenna and a DVR, they choose what to record and when, for a few dollars a month.

"The important thing is it is a one-to-one relationship," Kanojia says. "So, one antenna, one file, one stream, all under a consumer's control at all times."

The case – in which some say billions of dollars are potentially at stake – hinges on what constitutes a public broadcast versus a private one, under copyright law.

Tom Nachbar, a professor at the University of Virginia Law School, frames the question this way: "By performing that service for thousands of people at the same time, although totally individually, are they doing what is essentially a transmission to the public?"

When it comes to copyright, there's a difference between a private performance – watching or recording something in your home, for example – and a public one – taking a copyrighted work and distributing it widely.

Aereo's opponents say the company is doing the latter: "They're grabbing signals out of the air without paying for them, and then trying to make a profit off of that," says attorney Neal Katyal, who is advising the broadcasters suing Aereo. "That's not the American way."

Every year, broadcasters invest billions of dollars in creating content, Katyal says, and they recoup those costs with ads. On top of that, Nachbar adds cable providers pay for the right to distribute local channels. Aereo, which serves 13 markets, doesn't, and that's why the case could be so monumental.

If the court rules in Aereo's favor, those cable providers could argue they shouldn't have to pay the broadcasters either.

"It really is a threat to the current structure of the way broadcast television works," *Nachbar notes.

*CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed the final quotation. The text has been corrected. 

Obama Wants To Sell Exports To Asia, But Critics Aren't Buying

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-18 02:40

As the president prepares to travel to Asia, the White House says a trade deal would boost U.S. exports. But opponents say the Trans-Pacific Partnership would hurt the environment and U.S. jobs.

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Why Mumps And Measles Can Spread Even When We're Vaccinated

NPR News - Fri, 2014-04-18 02:33

A mumps outbreak in Ohio has ballooned to 234 cases, even though the community is well-protected against the virus. One scientist explains why this "vaccine failure" occurs.

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Will the future economy be driven by purpose or money?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-18 02:05

From Good Friday services to the Passover seder and beyond, it's a time of year that is full of reminders that there's more to life than material things. And some business thinkers are catching on. 

Aaron Hurst, author of The Purpose Economy, argues we've entered a new era of people demanding their work add up to something. He joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss. 

Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

 

New trade talks spark beef over tariffs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-18 01:38

Japan and the U.S. are having beef over the price of meat.

The U.S. is pressuring Japan to remove import tariffs on pork and beef as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a proposed new free trade agreement being discussed by twelve countries on the Pacific Rim. Next week when President Obama goes to Tokyo this issue will be high on the agenda.

Japan is the world's top importer of pork — Japanese eat expensive tenderloins and cutlets deep fried into crispy katsu.

"Over 25 percent of the U.S. pork is exported, and Japan is our most consistent trading partner," says Bob Ivey, general manager of Maxwell Foods, a major U.S. pork producer that sells to Japan. "So we are very excited about the new trade agreement."

But that agreement won't be easy. Japan has traditionally protected its agricultural commodities. Japanese Wagyu beef is renowned, and their pork industry is one of the world's largest. Still, the U.S. is pushing for much lower import tariffs on its meat.

"That's the U.S. demand. You could say roughly free trade in a little less than a generation," says Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, and international economics think tank. "This will be one of those down to the wire deals."

If they can't work this out, Hufbauer says Japan could drop out of the agreement altogether.

In which we DO NOT spoil GoT: Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-18 01:00

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week we're joined by corporate reporter for Quartz, John McDuling.

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Home Depot turns to the Internet for growth

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-04-18 00:16

Home Depot as an online retailer? The Wall Street Journal reports that the big box retailer wants to grow by getting you to purchase building and home improvement supplies online

Part of the shift is due to overbuilding. For example, when I lived in Los Angeles, there were three Home Depots within a few miles of my house. And for a while, it seemed like it was building a store on every corner.

"That’s probably accurate," says Seth Basham, an analyst at WedBush, adding that the excess of stores isn't just a problem for Home Depot. "Between them and Lowe's and Menard's, the number of households per store continued to decline throughout the decade of the 1990s and 2000s," Basham said. 

And so Home Depot is now turning to the Internet for growth. 

"The biggest unique challenge to Home Depot is figuring out what the customer actually wants to buy online," says Maggie Taylor, an analyst at Moody’s. "So I think, carpeting for example, you’re always going probably into the store and take a look at."

And heavy items like Jacuzzi tubs might not be worth buying online because of shipping costs. Getting purchases to people - on time and on budget - will be another challenge. But Taylor says with tech giants like Amazon nipping at Home Depot's business, the big box retailer has no choice but to forge ahead.

Born With HIV, Building A Future

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 23:34

In high school, Cristina Peña was afraid to tell her boyfriend, Chris Ondaatje, that she was HIV-positive. She needn't have worried. More than a decade later, they're still together.

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Sunni Discontent Fuels Growing Violence In Iraq's Anbar Province

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 23:33

Fed up with what they say is years of discrimination by the Shiite-led government, ordinary Sunnis have joined Islamist fighters. There are echoes of past conflicts, with a few important distinctions.

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Six Words: 'Segregation Should Not Determine Our Future'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 23:31

Central High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was once considered a model of desegregation. Today, the school's population is 99 percent black. One family's story underscores three generations of change.

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Suspect Arrested In Kansas City Highway Shootings

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 23:23

Police in Grandview, Mo., arrested a suspect Thursday in a string of random vehicle shootings on Kansas City-area highways over the past few weeks. Three motorists have been wounded.

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6 Killed, 9 Missing In Avalanche On Everest

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 23:17

An avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest on Friday along a route used to climb the world's highest peak. As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers and fellow climbers rushed to help.

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Transcript Shows Ferry Captain Delayed Evacuation

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 22:50

Fresh questions arose about whether quicker action by the captain of a doomed ferry could have saved lives. Rescuers scrambled to find hundreds of passengers still missing Friday and feared dead.

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'Completely Unique': Cave-Dwelling Female Insects Have Penises

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 16:34

A team of international scientists have found four species of insects with reversed sex organs. The females' anatomy may have to do with their need for nutrients that only males produce.

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Even Chimps Know That A Firm Bed Makes For Quality Sleep

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 14:31

A new study looking at the nests made by chimpanzees in Uganda found that they prefer a type of tree that gives them a firm and secure sleeping platform.

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Tabasco And Beer-Flavored: Not Your Easter Bunny's Jelly Beans

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 14:21

On the eve of Easter and National Jelly Bean Day, let us probe the mysterious origins and unexpected ascendency of the humble candy. And to celebrate, we've sampled Jelly Belly's newest flavors.

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Obama's Favorite County — At Least When It Comes To Giving Speeches

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 14:02

The president has visited Prince George's County, Md., four times this year. It is the most affluent county with an African-American majority. It also happens to be very close to the White House.

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Digging into the 8 million ACA signups

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 13:44

Eight million Americans have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama said at a White House briefing Thursday, a figure that surpassed the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's initial projection of 7 million.

Over the past six weeks some 3.7 million people signed up for insurance, according to the White House, and 28 percent of those who got insurance via the federal exchange were in the 18-34 age range, a figure of great interest to the insurance industry. Conventional wisdom is that younger people tend to be healthier (and cheaper to insurer) than older adults. The corollary is the healthier the risk pool in 2014, the less premium prices rise in 2015.

Obama said "we have a strong, good story to tell" and then went on the offensive , adding that 5.7 million Americans have been locked out of the run on insurance through Medicaid expansion because 24 states have declined to expand their Medicaid programs.

A more complete report on enrollment numbers is expected next week. It's important to note that not all of consumers who sign up for insurance will actually purchase insurance, so it's likely the 8 million number will drop. What was interesting – and perhaps surprising – was that millions of Americans flocked to the federal and state exchanges at the 11th hour. It suggests that there is a healthy interest in having health insurance. That interest is only expected to grow.

In fast food burgers, geography is key

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-17 13:14

Sonic is America’s fourth biggest burger chain, a fact that might surprise you if you live outside of the South. Sonic’s are located mostly around Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Mississippi.

There are about 3,500 Sonic locations. But the company plans on opening 1,000 more locations over the next decade. “With this move, we see Sonic entering that arena of largest national players and leaving behind those regional players,” says Patrick Lenow, a spokesperson for Sonic, which is known for reviving the classic American drive-in. Food is ordered through an intercom and delivered to your car, often by servers on roller skates.

A graphic created by Stephen Von Worley of Data Pointed shows the concentration of fast-food burger chains around the country. (Courtesy of Stephen Von Worley/Data Pointed)

“The main difference that sets drive-ins and drive-thrus apart is that the demand for drive-ins is more heavily dependent on the weather,” says Hester Jeon, an analyst with IBIS World. “Sonic’s business dips pretty dramatically during the colder months.”

That may explain why it’s focusing much of its expansion in California. “When I think of one of the most successful burger chains in America, I think of In-N-Out Burger, which originated in California as a drive-in,” says Darren Tristano, a foodservice concept & menu expert with Technomic.

Another way Sonic differentiates itself from its competitors is by emphasizing its non-burger menu items, like the more than a million different soda flavors it offers. “They also sell hot dogs that are very regionalized in terms of flavor and have items like tater-tots on the menu,” Tristano says.

So, if you don’t live in the South, and you get a late night craving for chocolate-pineapple soda and tater tots delivered on roller skates, you may soon be able to satisfy it.

By Shea Huffman and Gina Martinez /Marketplace

The data for the graphic above was provided by a Marketforce Information survey on American's favorite burger chain by region:

Courtesy of Marketforce Information

Chelsea Clinton Says She's Pregnant

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-17 13:07

The 34-year-old daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she and husband Marc Mezvinsky are "very excited."

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