National News

Chicken of the sea is nothing to squawk at

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00
34 percent

That's how much profits fell for BlackBerry Ltd., as shown in their third-quarter revenue report. As reported by Bloomberg, the $793 million in revenue is well below analysts' expectations. 

58 percent

That's how much value Bitcoin lost in 2014. The online currency has somehow tanked even harder than the ruble, Quartz reported, which is down 47 percent this year.

1 in 5

1 in 5 Europeans ages 16 to 74 has never used the internet. But you already knew that, didn't you? So test your knowledge of tech news over at Silicon Tally, Marketplace Tech's Friday round-up quiz.

2

That's how many minutes of film "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" gets from each page of its slim source material. That's very high when compared to other blockbuster adaptations, FiveThirtyEight reported, and it's even more mind-boggling to consider its just one of three movies adapted from a 293-page book.

300 men

That's how many men have signed up as test subjects for a childbirth simulator since the trial began in November. The Jinan Aima Maternity Hospital in Jinan, China, offers expectant fathers the chance to sympathize — and we mean really sympathize — with their spouses in what it calls the "Pain Experience Camp." Four electrodes are attached to the subject's stomach, sending electric shocks that simulate labor contractions. Head over to the WSJ to read more.

$1.5 billion

That's how much Thai Union Frozen Products PCL will pay for Bumble Bee Seafoods (think Tuna). They are effectively purchasing the big tuna of seafood in the U.S., as Bumble Bee is the number one producer of canned tuna and sardines in North America, as reported by Reuters

Silicon Tally: Our romance is off the Hinges

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 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 digital dating consultant Laurie Davis. She's the founder of eFlirt, a service that helps clients polish their online dating profiles, decode text messages from dates, and improve their online chatting.

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An oilman bets prices will rise, and loses big

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 02:00

The oil price bust has left lots of people licking their financial wounds. Perhaps the biggest one-way bet in the wrong direction came from the oilpatch itself, by a company and its founder at the center of the U.S. oil revolution. Harold Hamm is the $8 billion dollar oilman; the man behind the biggest drilling company in North Dakota, Continental Resources.

In an earnings call five weeks ago, he said, "We're at the bottom rung here on prices and we'll see them recover pretty drastically pretty quick. Given our belief the recent pullback in oil prices will be short-lived, we made changes to our existing hedge book by monetizing practically all of our oil contracts."

That's oilspeak for: we're betting on prices to rise. Continental had locked in nice, high-selling prices by what's called hedging. Until it stopped doing that. The company has lost half its value in four months.

To Gregory Zuckerman, author of "The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of The New Billionaire Wildcatters," this bet goes hand-in-hand with Hamm's astonishing success story. The son of Oklahoma sharecroppers, Hamm started with nothing and made an early, crazy bet on North Dakota oil. He was stubborn.

"You need that self-confidence," Zuckerman says. "But it can bite you on the way down by making you a little too sure of yourself. And I would argue that when he took off those hedges, he showed signs of that."

In a recent interview, Hamm says he still thinks oil prices could rise. He may well be right. But his timing was off.

When A Hospital Bill Becomes A Decade-Long Pay Cut

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 01:02

Nonprofit hospitals provide assistance to poor patients in exchange for tax breaks. But some still seize wages of poor patients with unpaid bills — even those who qualify for free or reduced care.

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For An Island Trapped In The '50s, An Instant Digital Revolution

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 00:03

Cuba is one of the least connected countries on Earth, with 5 percent of residents online. But it could become the Caribbean's largest market if the Castros open the nation up to the Internet.

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7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 00:02

Marine scientists plumbing the deepest part of the ocean sent microphones and collection probes baited with chicken to the bottom of a trench near Guam. Now they watch, wait ... and listen.

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The Eye-Opening Saga Of Walter And Margaret Keane, Now On Screen

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 00:01

Walter Keane made his name with wistful paintings of big-eyed children — paintings actually done by his wife. Tim Burton directs and Amy Adams stars in Big Eyes, a new movie about the Keanes.

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The Administration's College Ratings: How It Looks On Campus

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 23:59

The Education Department's unveiling today of a controversial ratings system has fueled a debate over what this kind of system can — or should — measure.

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Two Of Colorado's Neighbors Sue State Over Marijuana Law

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 17:23

Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed a lawsuit against Colorado with the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that its law legalizing marijuana isn't constitutional.

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Once Written Off, Kepler Telescope Finds New Planet

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 16:05

The Kepler space telescope, which cost some $600 million, was feared to be at the end of its useful life in 2013. But NASA says it just found another exoplanet.

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'Team America' Is Benched: Won't Return To Theaters, Reports Say

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 14:47

One day after some U.S. theaters vowed to screen Team America: World Police in the place of The Interview, whose release was canceled, word has emerged that Team America has also been pulled.

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How an oil rush made LA the city it is today

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 14:25

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talks to oil historian Char Miller about Los Angeles' role in greasing America's economy with oil.

In 1892, the first oil well in Los Angeles was drilled and started an oil rush that first launched the city.

“I think the oil industry has really faded in Los Angeles in terms of its presence. You look up at old photos of Huntington and Seal Beach, up Santa Monica beaches until the '50s… they were littered with oil derricks," Miller says. "It was the symbol of the city and that’s all disappeared.”

Oil drilling is still going on though. About 3,000 densely placed pumps are still working underground, but the landscape of the city makes the oil industry invisible.

“The culture of the United States is driven by oil. The built landscape is created because of petroleum," Miller says. "And so Los Angeles, at once in its sprawl and its density is the perfect example of the petrol economy.”  

How an oil rush made LA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 14:25

Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talks to oil historian Char Miller about Los Angeles' role in greasing America's economy with oil.

In 1892, the first oil well in Los Angeles was drilled and started an oil rush which launched the beginnings of the city.

“I think the oil industry has really faded in Los Angeles in terms of its presence. You look up at old photos of Huntington and Seal Beach, up Santa Monica beaches until the 50s… they were littered with oil derricks," Miller says. "It was the symbol of the city and that’s all disappeared.”

Oil drilling is still going on though. There are 3,000 densely placed pumps still working underground, but the landscape of the city makes the oil industry invisible.

“The culture of the United States is driven by oil. The built landscape is created because of petroleum," Miller says. "And so Los Angeles, at once in its sprawl and its density is the perfect example of the petrol economy.”  

Opportunity, Caution Seen For U.S. Banks As Cuba Rules Ease

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 14:08

President Obama eased restrictions on Cuba this week, including a relaxation of rules barring U.S. banks from doing business there. But banks are awaiting details and are likely to proceed cautiously.

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No Fracking In New York? That's OK With Pennsylvania

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 13:43

Environmental groups cheered New York's decision to ban the practice, and some in the industry say when it comes to good-paying jobs, New York's loss is Pennsylvania's gain.

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What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 13:06

The decision to normalize relations is driving all kinds of speculation about American food companies opening up shop in Cuba. But analysts say: Don't expect to see McDonald's there anytime soon.

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In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:56

In independent review panel calls for changes ranging from a better fence at the White House to a new approach to training and leadership within the Secret Service.

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U.S. Announces Protections For Transgender Workers

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:55

The Justice Department's move is a reversal from how the Bush administration interpreted Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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New Popularity Of L.L. Bean Boots Sparks Scramble To Fill Orders

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:50

L.L. Bean's iconic rubber and leather boots have swung back into fashion with young people and are more popular than ever. The backlog stands at nearly 100,000 pairs; it will take months to catch up.

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Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:45

Serial, the hugely popular (and sometimes controversial) podcast spun off from This American Life, wraps up its first season today. Audie Cornish speaks with Serial creator Sarah Koenig.

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