National / International News

Kerry urges Snowden to return to US

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:09
US Secretary of State John Kerry says intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is a fugitive who should return to the US to face justice.

Jordan ready for Test team - Swann

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:06
Former England spinner Graeme Swann says "confident, buoyant and vibrant" Chris Jordan should be in the England Test team.

Transcript And Audio: President Obama's Full NPR Interview

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:02

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy, including his approaches to Syria, Ukraine and China, as well as his effort to close Guantanamo Bay prison.

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More Diplomacy, Fewer Military Missions: 5 Obama Statements Explained

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

In a wide-ranging interview with NPR, the president says U.S. foreign policy in the 21st century should focus on diplomacy and counterterrorism rather than large-scale military operations.

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Law & Order: tech edition

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:00

For those who have spent an entire day on the couch letting Netflix dominate the tv or laptop screen, binge watching is not such a new phenomenon. Artist Jeff Thompson is certainly no stranger to the concept: he has watched all 456 episodes of the original Law & Order franchise. But unlike the rest of us, he was getting paid to do it.

That's because Thompson received a grant from Rhizome to track the use of technology throughout the show's 20 year history. The fact that the show thrived on being "ripped from the headlines" (i.e. as current as possible), produced a weekly episode, and ran for such a long time make it a particularly useful series for such a project. 

Aside from maintaining a blog of screenshots of every computer that makes an appearance on the show, Thompson used the opportunity to track other technology-related data. For example, he maintained a list of every URL used throughout the series, as well as a chart that tracked the parallels between the drop off of computer useage on the show in tandem with the burst of the dot-com bubble. The chart below shows the number of computers used per season, while the following chart tracks the closing price of the Nasdaq (in light grey) over the same years.

A chart of the computer count in every episode of Law & Order

The light grey portion charts the closing price of the Nasdaq

Thompson also saw an opportunity to track the evolution of our attitude towards technology as well. In the beginning of the series, computers generally sat in a corner, eventually making their way onto individual's desks as their use became more ubiquitous. It's these minute details that really interested Thompson. He points out that while a lot of people document and write about the history of technology, the seemingly boring details are not as thoroughly documented. In fact, when asked about his favorite bit of technology in the series, he points to a pretty mundane piece of furniture: the computer desk. 

How marriage contributes to inequality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 01:00

Prior to the 1960s, it wasn't unusual for a college-educated man to marry a woman with earnings that were significantly less than his -- or a woman who earned nothing at all.

Over time, as more women entered college, a pattern of "assortative mating" began to emerge. Research shows that, beginning in the 1960s, college-educated men became more likely to marry women who were also college-educated. Income is highly correlated to education, leading to the growth of double-income households that earn more then their less-well-educated peers. Some researchers though, warn that structural factors like taxation and the shrinkage of labor unions are far more pertinent when discussing the rise of inequality in 21st century America. 

Uber taxi row referred to High Court

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:58
London's transport authority says it believes Uber's car service fee calculation app is legal, but is referring the matter to the High Court.

Brad Pitt 'attacked' at premiere

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:52
A man is arrested on suspicion of battery after allegedly punching Brad Pitt in the face at the premiere of Maleficent in Los Angeles.

AUDIO: Tobacco industry 'must be progressive'

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:48
Kingsley Wheaton and Dr John Britton discuss the UK tobacco industry and attempts to rebrand itself.

Call to 'resist e-cigarette controls'

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:34
Public health specialists are pressing the World Health Organization to "resist the urge to control and suppress e-cigarettes".

Hosting the Olympics and coming away with a profit? Imagine that. Three cities that bucked the trend

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:30

With such high costs, it's seemingly miraculous that any chosen location manages to turn a profit. Yet, some manage to do so. Here are three cities that managed to come out of their hosting stint on top:

Getty Images

1. Los Angeles - Surplus: $232.5 Million

The west coast city managed to end the games with a $232.5 million surpluss due to smart planning -- like revamping old facilities as opposed to building new ones -- and budgeting. The design teams also used cheaper materials typically associated with temporary tents. You can read more about how L.A. pulled it off here.

Michael Smith/Newsmakers

2. Salt Lake City - Surplus: $56 Million

Salt Lake City donated about $30 million of their profits to the Utah Athletic Foundation.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

3.  Atlanta - Surplus: $10 Million

Aside from finishing in the black, Atlanta also benefitted from converting one of its Olympic stadiums into a facility for baseball.

British Gas boss leaves for Aggreko

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:23
The boss of British Gas, Chris Weston is to leave his role after only 15 months to join temporary power supplier Aggreko.

Ukraine rebels 'to free' observers

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-29 00:13
Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine tell a Russian news agency they seized four missing international monitors and may free them soon.

VIDEO: Footage shows wasp's zinc drill

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:58
Researchers capture detailed footage of a parasitic wasp that has evolved a zinc-tipped drill bit to bore into fruit and lay its eggs.

Police quiz kids over online abuse

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:45
Almost 2,000 children have been investigated over social media abuse, offensive Twitter messages and online bullying since 2011.

Public radio's teachable moment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:32

If public radio sometimes feels a little like a classroom—and we all know it does – there’s a reason.

Or, at least, a convenient excuse.

Public radio got its start in schools. “Broadcasting began in the U.S., largely on university campuses in engineering departments,’’ said Michele Hilmes, a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of Wisconsin- Madison.  “People were experimenting with radio and building radio sets.” 

By the mid-1920s, those engineering experiments were becoming stations, and broadcasting educational programs. 

The earliest programs were aimed mainly at homemakers and farmers.  Later, said Hilmes, the stations “got into schoolroom broadcasts, where kids in schools could actually listen to things that related to their lessons.” 

Dozens of state universities, departments of education and school boards created shows for kids. 

In Cleveland, for instance,  WBOE was licensed to the local board of education in 1938 (hence the BOE).  The station broadcast instructional programming for nearly 40 years, beginning in the morning—like the school day— and ending in mid-afternoon. 

John Basalla,  an archivist with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, says schools had radios made specially to pick up only WBOE’s frequency.

WHA now a part of Wisconsin Public Radio — had one of the most active “schools of the air.” There were music classes.  Drama classes.  Nature classes. (Check out their 1943 programming schedule. )

The idea was simple.  Broadcasting would transform education by making it possible for students to learn from great teachers wherever they were—so long as there was a radio in the classroom.

There was hype. Hope.

And a lot of money.

Check out these photos and captions from the 1952 book Teaching Through Radio and Television.

Levenson and Stasheff, Teaching through Radio and Television, 1952

But, the revolution never came. Lots of schools didn’t have radios. Those that did, often had trouble coordinating regular lessons with those on the radio.  And many of the shows just weren’t that good. “If you talk to old practitioners in public broadcasting,  they actually use ‘educational radio’ as a pejorative,” said Josh Shepperd, a media studies professor at Catholic University, in Washington, DC.

Commercial broadcasters also took a crack at the classroom.  CBS had the American School of the Air;  NBC broadcast the Music Appreciation Hour.  “The best and most effective educational broadcasts did come out of the networks,” Sheppard said.  But there wasn’t enough money in it, to keep them interested.  Broadcasting education shows to school kids just wasn’t sustainable for commercial radio.

Gradually, public stations that stayed on the air started making better shows.  They started making radio less -geared to students sitting, listening, in circles. 

And more for learners like us.

We’ve got more on the history of radio in the classroom here

Fabianski leaves Arsenal for Swansea

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:23
Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski signs a four-year deal to join Swansea City when his contract with Arsenal expires at the end of June.

Seven more fun facts about the history of public radio

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:22

We’ve got the audio piece and the 1951 map of instructional radio stations across the country. But there’s only so much ground they can cover. Here are more cool things to know about the history of radio as an education technology.

The hype was huge. In his 1932 book, Radio: The Assistant Teacher, Benjamin Darrow (who founded the Ohio School of the Air) wrote: "The central and dominant aim of education by radio is to bring the world to the classroom, to make universally available the services of the finest teachers, the inspiration of the greatest leaders... and unfolding events which through the radio may come as a vibrant and challenging textbook of the air."

Stations named themselves after their educational missions. At WABE in Atlanta, the ABE stands for Atlanta Board of Education. The BE in WBEZ (Chicago) stands for Board of Education. Bonus points to anyone who knows what the Z stands for.  Do we need to tell you what Cleveland’s WBOE stood for?  And you might think that the “ED” in KQED stands for “education”?  Turns out KQED comes from the Latin quod erat demonstrandum, “which was to be demonstrated.”

Some classroom-broadcasts were… live. Check out this archival broadcast from WBOE.  Around 0:40, there’s an example of why there’s nothing like live radio.  The clip comes courtesy of John Basalla, archivist at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

It wasn’t all about listening.  Worksheets came with many of the lessons. Here’s one that went  with the radio show “Good Health to You”,  from WBOE in Cleveland.  We found it in Teaching through Radio and Television,  published in 1952,  by William Levenson and Edward Stasheff. Teaching Through Radio and Television, Levenson, 1952

Educational broadcasting was college material.  Ohio State University offered a college class in “Education by Radio” in 1930.  Bonus points for anyone that can dig up a syllabus for us.

Public radio almost got left behind.  The Public Broadcasting Act of 196, which created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was originally the Public Television Act of 1967.  Jack Mitchell wrote a great history of how radio finagled it’s way into the legislation over on  The story includes Scotch-taping the word “radio” into the law at the last minute.

We want to know what else we should add to this list.  We know you’ll write. From 1930 to 1940 radio listeners sent approximately 225,000,000 fan letters to radio stations. 

Putting public radio on the map

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:14

Where did your public-radio station come from? If it acquired a license in the 1940s or 1950s, there's a good chance it was started for instructional purposes. Many stations created educational programming that was used by students in the classroom. 

As reporter Adriene Hill chronicles in her story on the roots of public radio, over-the-air education fizzled out after television came along.

The map above shows nearly 100 radio stations that had been granted a broadcasting license as of 1951. They include universities, school boards, trade schools and even a public library. The stations were required to have an educational purpose. It could be anything from teaching broadcasting,  to creating programs to be used in the classroom (some stations broadcast only during school hours), to simply playing classical music (apparently it had more to teach us than other types of music).

The red markers show stations that are now defunct; the green ones  are still broadcasting; and yellow is for stations broadcasting under different call letters.

By clicking on a marker, you can read a little more about the station's history

 In general, most stations that were run by school boards are gone. Many of the stations that were licensed to universities have become NPR member stations, and are only nominally affiliated with the institution that was granted the license.

At the college level,  there are still some student-run stations and some are still creating instructional material.  There are even a few high-school radio stations that have survived.

We know there's a lot more public-radio history that we've missed, so please fill us in.  We'd also love to hear from you if your station is not on the map, but was founded for over-the-air instruction.


E-cigs 'undermine smoking ban' fear

BBC - Wed, 2014-05-28 23:08
The use of electronic cigarettes in public places may undermine the smoking ban in Wales by "re-normalising" the idea of smoking, ministers fear.

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