National News

Silicon Tally: Twins in Space!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-30 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 NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, A.K.A. Mohawk Man .   var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-twins-in-space", placeholder: "pd_1401399764" } ); (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'));

Once Forbidden, Books Become A Lifeline For A Young Migrant Worker

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 23:04

Growing up moving from farm to farm, Storm Reyes had to pack lightly. That meant no books. She felt hopeless about the future, until one day, a bookmobile appeared in the fields and changed her life.

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Drone Wars: Who Owns The Air?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 23:03

There are lots of entrepreneurs who would love to build drone-based businesses. But right now, there's a battle over whether it's legal for drones to take to the sky.

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Anatomy Of A Dance Hit: Why We Love To Boogie With Pharrell

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 23:01

There are songs that just make people want to get up and shake their booty. Why? Scientists say the most enticing rhythms have something missing — beats that your body can't help but fill in.

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'Period Of Turmoil' Preceded Abramson Firing, Says Top Editor At 'Times'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 19:33

In an interview with NPR, The New York Times' new executive editor, Dean Baquet, said Jill Abramson was fired because of her failed relationship with the publisher and with senior editors.

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Curveball: Do kids still read actual books?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 19:10
<a href="http://marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/ebooks">View Survey</a>

The economic backdrop to Tian'anmen

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 19:04
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 16:51 Catherine Henriette/AFP/Getty Images

One of the many demonstrations at Tian'anmen Square in the spring of 1989, which ended with China's military firing on and killing demonstrators on June 4, 1989. Protesters weren't only asking for democracy. They were also frustrated with hyper-inflation, low wages, official corruption, and a lack of economic opportunity.

Politically, China may not have changed much from 25 years ago, but economically? It might as well be a different country.

University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies Director Mary Gallagher remembers what it was like for Chinese workers in 1989. "There’s this big population in the cities, still working for state-owned companies, not making high wages, still having an iron rice bowl, and it’s creating all of these problems in the economy and it’s also reducing China’s competitiveness."

And then, the economic equivalent of a hurricane for these poorly-paid urbanites: hyper inflation. "While prices were going up at an average of about 7 percent a year in the mid 80s, in ‘88 there was a spike where it was more like 17 percent. So that kind of inflation hit hard," says Jeffrey Wasserstrom, University of California-Irvine history professor and author of "China In the 21st Century".

In a TV news reel from 1988, thousands of desperate shoppers at a Shanghai department store reach over each other to buy food. Up until then, prices were set by the government. But in 1988, the government began to systematically lift these price controls, allowing goods to be sold on the open market for the first time. Nobody knew when prices were going to rise, prompting waves of panic buying. “I’ve taken out all my money from the bank and I bought a bed," said one shopper to a Shanghai television reporter. "I don’t need one, but everyone is scrambling to buy one before the price of beds begin to rise.”

(Navigate to 2:45 and 5:35 to watch the footage of shoppers).

In 1988 China, prices were rising, salaries weren’t. Suddenly, many Chinese couldn’t afford many simple household goods. A song by musician Cui Jian captured the feeling of helplessness of the times: "I have asked you endlessly," the song goes, "when will you go with me? But you always laugh at me, for I have nothing to my name."

The lyrics seem to describe a boy, down on his luck, begging his girlfriend to leave with him. But others interpreted the boy as China’s young generation asking the rest of China –including the government – to join it. The song "Nothing to my Name" became an anthem to the demonstrations that later developed at Tian’anmen Square in 1989.

"I think generally Americans and the American media and the western media focused on the political issues more than the economic issues," University of Michigan’s Mary Gallagher said about the media coverage of the 1989 protests. Gallagher says framing the Tian’anmen demonstrations simply as students fighting for democracy ignores the fact that the rest of China’s population – many of whom were blue-collar workers – were protesting for better economic opportunities, too. "I think the general support the students got from the population was much more related to economic issues like inflation, like corruption, like failure to take advantage of opportunities. And people associated those things with political change."

But political change was too much to ask from China’s leaders. In the early morning hours of June 4, 1989, China's military turned on its own civilians, shooting and killing hundreds of people.

In the year following the Tian’anmen massacre, GDP growth plummeted, so did foreign investment. But it didn’t last long. China’s government sped up economic reforms, while keeping a lid on political reforms. This is often referred to as the unspoken deal China’s government made with its people after Tian’anmen: We allow you to make more money, you don’t challenge our authority.

University of California’s Jeffrey Wasserstrom says 25 years later, with China’s economy now slowing down, there are signs the Chinese people want to renegotiate this deal – it’s no longer clear that making more money is an option. "Now I think there’s a sense that if you’ve been left behind, maybe you’ll be permanently left behind," says Wasserstrom. "And also, with the rising concern with issues like food safety, and heavy polluted air and water, I think it’s not so clear to people anymore that they can assume their children will live better lives than they did."

"People are angry, but people are worried that if something changes, would anything get better?" asks University of Michigan's Mary Gallagher. "I don’t think people in China have much confidence in democracy right now, and looking around them they may feel particularly people in the cities and people in the middle class may feel that democracy could end up even worse. It’s a much more segmented society, and people who are wealthy and who are middle class have much more to protect. And when they think about democracy, they think about majority rule. And I think majority rule is scary to them."

The song that defined China’s generation of ’89 ends with singer Cui Jian asking a question, interpreted by some to be posed to China’s government: “Why do I always have to chase you? Could it be that in front of you, I’ll forever have nothing to my name?”

This year, China’s government invited Cui Jian to sing at the New Year Gala on state television, a program watched by 700 million Chinese, six times the number of people who watch the Superbowl. Cui accepted, on the condition that he sing "Nothing to my Name".

The government wouldn’t let him.

Cui Jian's response to the government? We no longer have a deal.

 

Marketplace for Wednesday June 4, 2014 Image from China: Portrait of a Country, edited by Liu Heung Shing, published by Taschen

On June 5, 1989, a young couple waits beneath Jianguomenwai bridge on the fringe of Beijing's diplomatic area, as PLA tanks roll above them. The previous day, tanks moved on Tiananmen Square to quell student protests.

by Rob SchmitzPodcast Title The economic backdrop to Tian'anmenStory Type FeatureSyndication Flipboard BusinessSlackerSoundcloudStitcherBusiness InsiderSwellPMPApp Respond No

After Decades Of Silent Wandering, NASA Probe Phones Home

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 16:39

ISEE-3, launched in 1978 to study solar wind, was "borrowed" for a comet mission a few years later and virtually lost. A group of space enthusiasts say they've managed to reestablish contact.

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Clippers sold to former Microsoft CEO for $2 billion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 15:31

Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has reportedly won the bidding for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, with a $2 billion offer. As Marketplace has reported, less successful teams in smaller markets have sold for just a fraction of that figure.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this sale would be the biggest in NBA history:

Ballmer, who was chief executive of Microsoft for 14 years, was chosen over competitors that included Los Angeles-based investors Tony Ressler and Steve Karsh and a group that included David Geffen and executives from the Guggenheim Group, the Chicago-based owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations said the Geffen group bid $1.6 billion and Ressler at $1.2 billion.

Any sale would still need to be approved by league owners, who shot down Ballmer's earlier bid for the Sacramento Kings.

Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling has chosen to sell the team five days ahead of an NBA hearing to take the team out of her family's hands. Her husband and former co-owner, billionaire Donald Sterling, bought the team for $12 million 30 years ago.

Thus, the man banned, chastised and fined for racist comments -- could be looking at a pay day of billions of dollars.

Read Marketplace's past coverage of the Clippers' regime change:

Clippers reportedly sold to former Microsoft CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 15:31

Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has reportedly won the bidding for the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, with a $2 billion offer. As Marketplace has reported, less successful teams in smaller markets have sold for just a fraction of that figure.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this sale would be the biggest in NBA history:

Ballmer, who was chief executive of Microsoft for 14 years, was chosen over competitors that included Los Angeles-based investors Tony Ressler and Steve Karsh and a group that included David Geffen and executives from the Guggenheim Group, the Chicago-based owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations said the Geffen group bid $1.6 billion and Ressler at $1.2 billion.

Any sale would still need to be approved by league owners, who shot down Ballmer's earlier bid for the Sacramento Kings.

Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling has chosen to sell the team five days ahead of an NBA hearing to take the team out of her family's hands. Her husband and former co-owner, billionaire Donald Sterling, bought the team for $12 million 30 years ago.

Thus, the man banned, chastised and fined for racist comments -- could be looking at a pay day of billions of dollars.

Read Marketplace's past coverage of the Clippers' regime change

No Hunch Here: Richard III Suffered From Scoliosis Instead

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 15:20

Shakespeare described the 15th century British king as "deformed, unfinish'd," and a hunchback. A 3-D model of his spine reveals that Richard had developed severe curvature of the spine as a teen.

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'No Evidence' Snowden Raised Concerns While At NSA

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 15:04

The National Security Agency says it has only one email exchange between the former contractor and the NSA's legal branch — concerning a technical issue.

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