National News

After Government's Greenlight, Commercial Drones Set To Take Off

NPR News - Tue, 2015-09-01 01:00

The FAA has granted 1,300 permits that allow commercial firms to operate drones for everything from selling real estate to inspecting utility lines. But there's concern over some recent close calls.

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Aim For At Least 7 Hours Of Sleep Nightly To Fend Off A Cold

NPR News - Tue, 2015-09-01 00:48

Just a couple extra hours can make a real difference, a study shows. Adults who slept only five or six hours were four times more likely to get sick when exposed to a common cold virus.

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Fishing, Cooking And A Yup'ik Upbringing Made Alaska's Health Commissioner

NPR News - Tue, 2015-09-01 00:47

Alaska's health commissioner spends her summers working on policy issues by day and fishing for salmon for the winter on nights and weekends with her family who belong to the Yup'ik people.

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Fight To Save The Sage Grouse Finds Friends In All Corners Of The West

NPR News - Tue, 2015-09-01 00:43

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether to list the greater sage grouse as endangered. Many groups, including some oil and gas firms and a conservation group don't want that to happen.

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Back To School? Back To The Piggy Bank

NPR News - Tue, 2015-09-01 00:42

So your kid is off to college. You've spent months navigating the financial aid process and meticulously budgeted for all sorts of out-of-pocket expenses ... or so you thought.

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Boosting Family Leave Is Often About Getting Workers To Stay

NPR News - Tue, 2015-09-01 00:41

Nestle, Netflix and Microsoft are among several major employers that have announced big increases in family leave benefits this year. The moves are seen as essential as companies compete for talent.

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10 Highlights From The 7,000 Released Clinton Emails

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 19:08

The State Department released the latest — and largest — batch of Hillary Clinton's emails Monday from her time as secretary of state.

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Kentucky Clerk's Request For A Stay Is Denied By U.S. Supreme Court

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 15:55

Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk who has repeatedly refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, lost her bid for a stay when the U.S. Supreme Court denied her application.

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Man In 2014 Anti-Semitic Shooting Found Guilty Of Capital Murder

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 15:35

Frazier Glenn Cross, was 73 years old when he opened fire on people in two locations near Kansas City last spring.

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Europe is still reeling from the migrant crisis

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-08-31 14:45

 The BBC's Nick Thorpe speaks to migrants hoping to be granted asylum as they wait on the Hungarian-Serbian border.  

 

Click the media player above to hear the full story.

Wichita Man Sentenced To 20 Years In Airport Bomb Plot

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 14:11

Terry Loewen, who pleaded guilty to attempting to drive an explosive-laden vehicle and detonate it at an airport in Wichita, Kan., has been sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison.

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150 Classified Messages In Latest Batch Of Clinton Emails

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 14:11

Hillary Clinton has said she neither sent nor received emails marked classified on her personal server. But 150 of the emails to be released Monday night have now been labeled "confidential."

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5-Hour Line Turns Barbecue Pilgrims Into Cash Cow For Locals

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:50

At Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Tex., people start lining up at 5 a.m. to get a taste of world-famous brisket. The line has become such a fixture that it's become a business opportunity for locals.

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Uber Faces $300,000 Fine, Court Case From Philadelphia Regulators

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:36

The ride-hailing service Uber has served more than 1 million customers in Philadelphia, despite operating under disputed terms for nearly a year.

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Are Women Better Tasters Than Men?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:32

Many in the wine and beer industry claim women have a keener sense of smell, and thus taste, than do men. Sensory scientists who've tackled this question say there's something to this.

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Are Women Better Tasters Than Men?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:32

Many in the wine and beer industry claim women have a keener sense of smell, and thus taste, than do men. Sensory scientists who've tackled this question say there's something to this.

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Big Fun Toys plays the niche card

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:03

 Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun Toys in Cleveland, says business isn’t great, but he's doing his best. One of the biggest obstacles he faces is online shopping.

That trend has become not just a trend, it’s become a fact of the matter. I’ve watched people do what they call show-rooming, where they come in with an application on their smart phone. They take a photo of my product and they check prices instantaneously. So we’ve seen quite a move toward that, and as a brick-and-mortar, it’s very frustrating.”

Presser tries to keep customers in the store and offline.

As my mother would say, "Kill 'em with kindness." We’ve always been a niche business, and so a lot of product you just can’t readily find online. But you just want to hope that people understand that the local mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar store has been here for years, has supported the community. They’re your friends, they’re family members, their kids play soccer with your kids. And so we hope that has some sort of equitable value when it comes to buying an item.”

In addition to online competition, the ups and downs in China haven't made things any easier.

When people hear that China is shutting down, they’re not sending out as much product … or the stock market is dropping precipitously, that has a psychological effect on our customers.... The China effect for someone like me … who sells you know toys, novelties, collectibles … we don’t feel that immediately. But there is the story you know, "the slow boat from China," and so when we’re waiting for product and it just doesn’t come in, you know, it’s frustrating for our customers.

With the holiday season slowly creeping up, Presser says he'll stay optimistic for the next few months. “Hopefully they’ll be good,” he says.

 

 

Why we don't buy cable TV set-top boxes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:00

The Federal Communications Commission has released a report from an advisory committee on how to encourage competition in the market for set-top boxes. 

Right now, if you don’t want to rent a cable set-top box from your cable company, you don’t have a lot of options. And it’s kind of a pain. You still need to rent a card from your cable company to run the box. It’s almost like the days when you had to rent your phone from the phone company. 

But when that changed, "a market developed overnight," says Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org  "You could go to the store, buy a telephone.  How come that hasn’t developed the same way with cable companies?”

The report comes up with two options for solving this problem. One would let you buy a cable box that could search for, say, your favorite movie.

“You search for the name of a movie, and if it’s airing on TV, it’ll show you those results. But if it’s on Netflix, it’ll show you the movie result there,” says  John Bergmayer, an attorney at the consumer group Public Knowledge.

Public Knowledge was on the advisory committee, along with experts from the cable and tech industries.

Bergmayer says cable companies don’t want cable boxes sending you to Netflix. They prefer a second option, that could eventually replace cable boxes with an app. The cable companies emphasize that there are already lots of ways to get your cable.

“There’s never been more choice and competition for consumers and how they receive their content,” says Brian Dietz, a spokesman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Still, some consumer advocates wonder why, if you do want a set-top box,  you can’t just buy one as easily as you’d buy a cell phone or TV for that matter. This is something the FCC is still wrestling with. It’s now in the information gathering phase, accepting comments on the advisory committee's report.

 

 

Wes Craven's legacy: Hollywood loves horror

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-08-31 13:00

Hollywood is remembering horror-movie mastermind Wes Craven, who died Sunday at age 76. The writer and director of 1984’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” helped define the teen slasher genre that he later mocked in the "Scream" films.

That first Freddy Krueger movie broke ground by offering a surreal twist on slasher films, all while establishing Craven as an innovator whose movies made big money on small budgets. With little need for pricey stars or locations, the horror genre’s cost-effectiveness has long made it appealing to Hollywood execs.

“There’s literally no relationship between the cost of a horror movie and how successful it can be at the box office,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, which measures audiences. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and that’s why horror films are among the most profitable films of all time.”

Horror films grossed $403 million in 2014 domestic box office, according to Rentrak data. They were led by “Annabelle,” which cost a mere $6.5 million to make and raked in $84 million domestically.

That’s a fabulous profit, but some horror movies do even better. Famously made for around $15,000, “Paranormal Activity” grossed nearly $200 million worldwide and spawned popular sequels.

In a digital age where studios and theaters fret about losing young audiences to bootleg downloads, horror movies may have an advantage.

“One of the things you’ll hear theater owner tell you is that horror itself is one of those pirate-proof genres,” says Tatiana Siegel, senior film writer at the Hollywood Reporter. “People don’t want to sit in their home and watch a movie like Paranormal Activity. It’s too scary.”

Most classic horror movies, particularly slasher flicks, are filled with unknown actors. They’re anonymous, good-looking cannon (or ax, or chainsaw, or machete) fodder for the movie’s real stars — your Michael Meyerses, your Freddie Krugers, your Jason Voorheeses and so on. The low-budget horror movie is something of a rite of passage in Hollywood, and a select few go on to become superstars. Here are Craven’s unknowns-done-good. Fair warning: Some of these clips are pretty bloody.

Johnny Depp

Three years before “21 Jump Street” and six years before “Edward Scissorhands,” Johnny Depp’s first movie was “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” He was a supporting player but had the movie’s most notable death: after dozing off, Freddy sucks him into a hole into the bed before gushing an absurd amount of blood all over the ceiling.

Patricia Arquette

Today she is winning Oscars and starring in police procedurals, but Patricia Arquette’s first role was also in a “Nightmare on Elm Street” movie — the third installment, “Dream Warriors.” Unlike Depp, Arquette’s character lived through the movie, only to be recast (and killed) in “A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.”

Gerard Butler

Gerard Butler’s first big movie role wasn’t a victim but a monster — he played the titular role in “Dracula 2000,” produced by Craven. In a twist, the vampire was also Judas Iscariot — like, from the Bible. The movie couldn't be resurrected.

Sharon Stone

Technically, Sharon Stone’s first film was a small part in “Stardust Memories,” but her first starring role was in a lesser Craven work, “Deadly Blessing.” The New York Times called the movie, about the horrors two friends from California find when visiting a religious community, “better than average.”

Jesse Eisenberg

A few years before his breakout role in “Zombieland,” Jesse Eisenberg starred in Wes Craven’s werewolf movie “Cursed.” It was a box office bomb, and many critical pans focused on the poor special effects. Critic A.O. Scott wrote the werewolves looked “rendered by computer-generated imagery and a few trips to post-Halloween party-store sales.”

Mark Garrison: The first Freddy Krueger movie broke ground by offering a surreal twist on slasher films. Craven was innovative, but he also followed a decades-old Hollywood horror business plan: big scares, low prices.

Paul Dergarabedian: There’s literally no relationship between the cost of a horror movie and how successful it can be at the box office.

Paul Dergarabedian is senior analyst at Rentrak, which measures audiences. Scary movies generally don’t need pricey stars or locations.

Paul Dergarabedian: You don’t have to spend a lot of money and that’s why horror films are among the most profitable films of all time.

Famously made for around 15 grand, Paranormal Activity grossed nearly $200 million worldwide and spawned popular sequels. And horror movies have advantages in the digital era, says Tatiana Siegel at The Hollywood Reporter.

Tatiana Siegel: One of the things you’ll hear theater owner tell you is that horror itself is one of those pirate-proof genres because people don’t want to sit in their home and watch a movie like Paranormal Activity. It’s too scary.

Horror also speaks to fundamental human needs, says Paul Patterson, who teaches an unusual graduate class at Saint Joseph’s.

Paul Patterson: The name of the course is Drag Me to Hell: Horror Films and Literature.

He says people across the ages flock to scary stories because they help us face our fears without being in real danger. Hollywood loves horror because we do and because they can scare us dirt cheap. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Prosecutor Says Texas Gunman "Unloaded The Entire Pistol Into Deputy"

NPR News - Mon, 2015-08-31 12:50

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson says Miles ran up behind Sheriff Deputy Darren Goforth and shot him 15 times.

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