National / International News

Baseball, Vietnam And Coming Of Age At The 1969 World Series

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:44

On Oct. 15, 1969, hundreds of thousands marched in Washington to protest the Vietnam War. But it was also Game 4 of the World Series, and NPR's Brian Naylor, then 14, knew where he had to be.

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Brazil prison hostage drama resolved

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:30
A two-day standoff at a jail in the southern Brazilian state of Parana ends after a group of prisoners free 10 guards they had taken hostage.

Texas College Rejects Nigerian Applicants, Citing Ebola

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:25

Navarro College in Corsiana, Texas, later apologized for the letter, saying it had sent "incorrect information" to some international applicants.

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You can buy ebola.com for $150,000

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:09

Yes, there's a market for everything, even ebola.com.

First of all: that domain name exists. But secondly: the guy who owns it, Jon Schultz, bought it six years ago for $13,500. The asking price today? $150,000, according to the Washington Post.

If that's too dour, Schultz also owns terror.com, fukushima.com, potassiumiodide.com and H1N1.com.

Yes, all of them are for sale, too.

 

 

 

IS 'retreating' in key Syria town

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:09
Islamic State militants are retreating in parts of the strategic Syrian town of Kobane, a Kurdish official there says, as air strikes intensify.

Immigrant Advocates Challenge The Way Mothers Are Detained

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:07

Ten plaintiffs are suing the government over policies and practices at a residential center in New Mexico, where 648 women and children are being held while awaiting the outcome of their asylum cases.

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Alonso is leaving - Di Montezemolo

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:06
Fernando Alonso is leaving Ferrari at the end of this season, the company's outgoing president Luca Di Montezemolo confirms.

City in last 16 after extra-time win

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 13:01
Glasgow City overturn a 2-0 deficit against Medyk Konin to reach the the Uefa Women's Champions League last 16.

Czech Ebola error sparks Ghana row

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:43
Czech medical workers spark a diplomatic row after covering a Ghanaian student in black plastic and isolating him over unfounded fears he had Ebola.

VIDEO: Boris Johnson tackles young footballer

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:31
Mayor of London Boris Johnson takes on some players considerably smaller than himself at a football match near City Hall.

Ebola Evacuees: Who Are They, Where'd They Go, How'd They Fare?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:29

They caught the virus. Or had contact with a patient that put them at high risk. And they were flown out of West Africa for treatment — at a cost as high as $200,000 per person.

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VIDEO: How Ebola samples are processed

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:23
Government scientists from Wiltshire are calling for micro-biologists to volunteer in the fight against the growing threat of the deadly Ebola virus.

Turmoil Continues In Financial Markets As Dow Plunges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:22

Stocks took a beating on Wednesday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 falling more than 2 percent before bouncing back slightly. Money flowed into safe haven investments such as U.S. Treasuries.

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HBO is cutting the cord. Will cable survive?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:08

HBO has announced that starting next year it will offer its online streaming service HBO Go to anyone willing to pay, whether they have cable or not.

Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson says the move is an important about-face for entertainment giant Time Warner.

“The CEO [Richard Plepler] has promised that HBO wasn’t going to do this and now they’ve changed,” Johnson says. “I think that’s probably because there’s been a discussion behind the scenes about just what the lay of the land looks like.”

Access to HBO Go is widely shared, something Plepler has said he doesn’t mind. But last year HBO’s paid customer count was surpassed by Netflix, and Game of Thrones recently set a world record for piracy.

Johnson guesses HBO has been pressuring its parent company Time Warner toward this move for a while now.

“I think it’s kind of bad news for cable companies,” Johnson says. “By some estimates only like 3 percent of people are going to cut the cord next year, but those numbers are really growing fast for certain demographics and people’s behavior is really changing.”

VIDEO: Ban smoking in London landmarks?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 12:06
Londoners, Mayor Boris Johnson and Lord Darzi give their thoughts on a proposal to ban smoking in the capital's main squares and parks.

Retail's new normal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-15 11:54

Retail sales numbers released Wednesday from the Commerce Department suggest consumers spent slightly less in September than the month before.

There were some bright spots in the electronics category, and overall gains from the same period last year. Still, the headline numbers might give retailers some anxiety heading into the holiday season, says Georgetown University professor Marlene Morris Towns.

“I think that retailers are really, really, kind of struggling to get people in, to get people shopping,” she says. “I think they’re pushing to holidays on us faster and faster.”

But Towns is optimistic about consumer spending going forward.

It’s just that we have to take into account the economy’s new normal, says Susan Viamari, who tracks consumers and retail trends for IRI. “The new normal is going to be much more conservative mindset than what we saw before that proverbial bubble burst.”

Viamari says many consumers who cut back during the recession are keeping a tight grip on their spending.

Compare that with a decade ago, RBS Securities economist Omair Sharif says, when homeowners were pulling equity out of their homes or using credit cards to fuel shopping sprees.

“So it’s just a very different environment in terms of your ability to finance your expenditures,” he says. “It’s just night and day versus 2004.”

Consumers are largely limited to spending what they have, says Sharif, and he doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

Plant-based hamburger leaves 'blood' on the plate

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-15 11:49

You know how techies are all into disrupting businesses? Well, right now, there’s a lot of interest in the food industry. In Impossible Foods' case, its mission is to disrupt the $74 billion dollar beef industry.

It’s egregiously inefficient,” says Patrick Brown, the CEO of Impossible Foods.

Brown is talking specifically about the big business of raising animals for food. He says, worldwide, animal farming is one the biggest consumers of water.

“It’s using 30 percent of the entire land surface of earth,” he continues.

And that land is being cleared to make room for cattle to graze and to grow feed crops, which brings us to Brown’s next point.

It’s the biggest driver of biodiversity losses in the world,” Brown says. “Just to raise animals, to make cheeseburgers, it’s ridiculous.”

We've been using animals to make food for about 10,000 years, Brown says, and that technology is outdated. Take off the cultural veneer and you’ll see “livestock is a technology. We use it to take cheap plant biomass” and turn it into meat.

Or in layman’s terms: We grow and harvest tons of corn, grass and other plants and turn it into meat by feeding it to animals, which we then kill and package into chops and steaks.

Brown says we don't need to do that any more. We now know how to extract nutrients and proteins from plants, and use those ingredients to make meat without animals. Enter Impossible Foods, one of a handful of tech start-ups that wants to make animal products, from cheese to eggs and beef, from plants.

To show me what he’s talking about, Brown asks Beth Fryksdale, the food scientist in charge of making the plant-based meat.

So I’m going to put the patty on the griddle here,” she says, plopping down two of Impossible Foods’ most recent burger prototypes. When the "meat" it hits the fry pan, it sizzles.

You’ll notice we’ve got this nice transition in color from red to brown,” Fryksdale says, just like a real burger.

I glance over at the plate the patty was on and I see ... blood?

“Yup, it looks like blood although this is not blood from an animal, this is blood from plant,” Fryksdale says triumphantly.

That’s the color of the 'heme' that I was talking about,” Brown interjects.

Heme is a substance found on the roots of bean plants. It gives meat its unique flavor. It’s naturally red, and when you taste the heme raw, like I did, it tastes like blood.

When the burger was done, I ate it. And If I’d tasted it at a fast-food joint, I probably wouldn’t have noticed a difference. At the same time, it’s not as good as the grass-fed burger that I get at my favorite restaurant, and that’s what Impossible Foods is going for.  

Google Ventures invested in the start-up, and partner Andy Wheeler said while he’d like to go after that gourmet market, “it really is the mass-market opportunity that’s interesting.”

To get into there, Wheeler says, Impossible Foods needs to make its ground beef cheaper than the real stuff. And that’s a challenge. Right now, one Impossible Foods burger costs about $20 to make. Despite that, Wheeler says a bunch of events have made investors more bullish on food.

We all see that obesity is a huge problem and people are getting more concerned with health,” Wheeler says.

And more people are concerned about sustainability. Traditional food companies have been slow to address these concerns, Wheeler says. Investors see an opportunity, and they think advances in science have made food more of a tech play.

So the company may be starting with a ground beef product, but the core technology they’re developing around food science is really applicable to a really wide range of potential foods,” Wheeler says.

The idea of synthesizing real food is an age-old dream, says Michael Pollan, a food journalist and activist.

Think: Tang, non-dairy creamers and Cool Whip. But he says what’s new this go-around is that techies are on a mission.

“Which I think is distinct, and I think it’s political,” Pollan said. “These companies aim to shrink animal agriculture because of their environmental footprint.”

Pollan applauds that effort, but “I think you run into some of the limitations of Silicon Valley thinking when it comes to culture, which is the pleasure of eating meat is not simply a sensory pleasure,” he says. “Meat connotes prestige all over the world. Will fake meat offer that pleasure?”

And while this new crop food techies are using plant-based nutrients, instead of, say, artificial chemicals like they did decades ago. Pollan says there are reasons to be skeptical.

Foods that we’ve been eating for tens of thousands of years have kind of proven themselves out and we are talking about introducing some novel foods and so we need to be careful,” he says.

But he says, that's not so say we shouldn’t do it.

Pollan says, we make processed foods for all kinds of reasons. We make it for convenience, taste and to make money. And so why not make it to save the environment?

VIDEO: Michelle Obama dances with turnip

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-15 11:48
A video of Michelle Obama dancing with a turnip has gone viral on the internet as the First Lady promotes healthy eating.

In 2014, U.S. Budget Deficit Falls To Pre-Recession Level

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-15 11:37

As tax revenues increased and spending cuts took effect, the deficit dropped to 2.8 percent of GDP — in dollar terms, the lowest level since 2008.

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The NBA's experiment: offering fans a shorter game

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-15 11:34

The National Basketball Association will run an experiment this week to test the premise "Less is more." A preseason game pairing the Brooklyn Nets with the Boston Celtics will have just 44 minutes of play, instead of the usual 48. 

NBA officials mentioned “our schedule” as one motivation behind the experiment. That is: Lots of games often means lots of injuries. Maybe shorter games could mean less wear and tear on players’ bodies.

Then again, maybe not, says Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College. "If for instance, it’s the case that LeBron James, out of a 48 minute game plays 37 minutes, we don’t know if he’ll play proportionately fewer minutes" in a shorter game.    

In other words, the coach is already asking himself:  "How many minutes can I play LeBron without worrying too much about injury?"

"If that number's 37," says Zimbalist, "it could still be 37 in a 44-minute game."

There is the possibility that fans — and TV networks — would prefer shorter games, says Glenn Wong, who teaches sports management for the University of Massachusetts business school.

"Two hours is something that fits well in terms of fans — and in terms of TV slots," Wong says. Typical NBA games last significantly longer.  "I think there’s a certain trend toward reducing the length of the game."

In particular, the final minutes of an NBA game can drag. The 44-minute game would also cut one of three mandatory ad breaks in the fourth quarter. But what slows down those last minutes, really, is part of how the game gets played. The NBA's own website lays out how teams use intentional fouls to stop the clock.

"You can just keep fouling people, and fouling people, and fouling people and extending this," says David Berri, a sports economist at Southern Utah University, "and hope something’s going to happen."

A 44-minute game doesn't address that problem.

"I think you could say that the game in terms of actual chronological time is too long, and you could take steps to address what’s actually making it go longer," Berri says. "But just giving people less product — that just doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense."

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