National / International News

Carver expects clear-out at Newcastle

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 14:39
Newcastle manager John Carver says he expects a significant number of players to leave Newcastle United in the summer.

Growing your own in a small city home

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 14:02
Save money by growing your own food in limited space

Two convicted of Canada train plot

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 14:01
Two Canadian men accused of plotting to attack passenger train travelling from New York to Toronto have been found guilty on multiple terror charges.

Record Number Of Stranded Sea Lion Pups Strains California Resources

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-20 14:01

An uptick in malnourished pups on the coast has rescue centers struggling to keep up. Changing weather patterns and warmer ocean waters could be to blame, but it's still too early to tell.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Derby County

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:55
Wolves move into the Championship play-off picture with two second-half goals to beat promotion rivals Derby County.

VIDEO: 'I was shot in Tunis attack'

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:46
Tunisia's president has urged Tunisians to unite to fight terrorism, two days after an attack on the Bardo museum in the capital Tunis killed 25 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Falcao 'cried over form' - ex-agent

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:45
Radamel Falcao's former agent and mentor Silvano Espindola claims the Manchester United forward has cried over his poor form.

Comic Mel Brooks gets BFI honour

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:30
Comedy legend Mel Brooks says he is "deeply honoured" to receive an outstanding achievement award from the British Film Institute.

Toy gun robber jailed for store raid

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:23
A man who robbed a convenience store brandishing a toy gun is jailed.

Ali welcomes prince with letter

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:19
Former boxer Muhammad Ali welcomes Prince Charles to his home city of Louisville with a letter describing the royal as "the greatest".

Cuban officials jailed over egg scam

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:16
A court in Cuba jails 18 government officials for stealing more than eight million eggs and selling them on the black market.

AIG shareholders win $1bn settlement

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:15
Investors who bought shares in American insurance firm AIG in the lead up to the financial crisis are to receive a total of $970.5m (£649m) after reaching a landmark settlement.

John Urschel, Ravens Offensive Lineman, Publishes Math Paper

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:15

"A Cascadic Multigrid Algorithm for Computing the Fiedler Vector of Graph Laplacians" was published in the Journal of Computational Mathematics. It's not Urschel's first paper.

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Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-20 13:12

Researchers who helped develop powerful techniques warn that tweaking the genome is now easy. More public debate's needed, they say, before making changes in genes passed from parent to child.

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The comic book battles behind the big screen

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-20 12:56

Time to get geeky.

A new X-Men TV show  is on the way — maybe. That’s if Marvel, which created the X-Men, agrees.

Like the plot of any good comic book, this story is a complicated one. In the '80s and '90s Marvel was struggling financially and was on the verge of bankruptcy. To raise much-needed funds, the company made what seemed at the time like a super heroic move: It sold the movie rights to some of its characters like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. Back then, on the heels of comic book adaptations like "Batman and Robin" and "Mystery Men," no one imagined a movie about comic book characters could make truly big money, says comic book historian and geek consultant Alan Kistler.

“You didn't know what was going to happen with the X-Men. Was Magneto going to look stupid? How were you going to get someone who could really pull off Wolverine’s hair? No one knew," he says.

But Fox figured it out in 2000 with its "X-Men" movie.  Hugh Jackman's Wolverine got high marks for his hair, and the movie grossed almost $300 million worldwide.

"Doing that first X-Men movie was proof that you could do decent superhero movies," Kistler says.

Then Marvel decided it wanted a piece of the action, and the company came up with a plan to buy back its characters and to make its own movies. But there was a wrinkle. While Marvel got Iron Man back from Paramount and Sony gave up Ghost Rider, Twentieth Century Fox refused to sell back the rights to the Fantastic Four or the X-Men.

That’s when the arguing, and ultimately the lawsuits, began. Marvel created a TV show, “Mutant X”, and Fox sued accusing the company of trademark infringement, claiming the show was nothing more than a thinly veiled copy of the X-Men. The relationship between the two companies deteriorated from there.

A few months after news broke in late 2013  that Fox was making their eighth "X-Men" movie, Marvel announced it was killing off Wolverine. He's one of the most popular X-Men, and comic book fans quickly grew suspicious.

"I get it from a business standpoint," says Patrick Hellen, a tech company employee by day and super-Wolverine fan by night, "But at the same time you have fans that have been collecting 'Fantastic Four' [comics] since the '60s that don't understand why these people they identify with and they enjoy to read are going to go away because of a business deal."

Fans like Hellen believe that Marvel is willing to sacrifice its comics for the future of its films. That in an effort to thwart Fox's success on the back of characters it created, the company will change its plots and even kill off its characters — in short, it wants Fox to fail.

Check the message boards and fan forums and this is the buzz you'll hear Other rumors are circulating too: that Marvel has also told writers to stop creating new X-Men characters and that one of its classic comics "Fantastic Four" is being cancelled to derail Fox's new movie.

Translated from the world of comic book to popular culture as a whole: Marvel's doing away with the Fantastic Four would be like the record label EMI taking a hit out on the Beatles.

But it's fans like Hellen, who are avidly following all of these corporate ins-and-outs,  that are one of the biggest reasons Fox doesn’t want to sell its movie rights back to Marvel.

“There's a built-in audience, a proven audience," says Jonathan Handel, an entertainment and tech lawyer with the law firm of TroyGould in Los Angeles.

When it comes to making movies, says Handel, knowing you've got ticket buyers takes a lot of the risk out. Think about movie series that have done well recently: The "X-Men" series, "The Hunger Games," "Harry Potter" and all the interconnected films under the "Avengers" umbrella.

“What all of those have in common is that before there was a movie, there was something else. A comic book, a book, a character," Handel says.

And it's those characters, the Wolverines, the Fantastic Fours and so on, that are the root of the problem. There’s a lot of money at stake. For Fox, for Marvel and more recently another player.

"Disney is now much more powerful than these other studios,” says Sean Howe, author of "Marvel Comics: the Untold Story."

Disney bought Marvel in 2009, and Howe says the Mouse House can afford to play tough. He acknowledges that if Marvel manages to win the film licenses for its characters back, the company stands to make a lot of money, but he says the whole scenario is surprising.

"It just seems implausible that Marvel would stomp on the graves of its beloved 50 year old characters," he says.

But he doesn't have another explanation for why the company would want to off Wolverine. And if Marvel or Fox have any other motive, no one knows, because the companies aren't talking. How says that's not surprising. 

"That's another big part of the way Marvel works in the 21st century: silence and hardball," he says.

Is that superheroic?

"Sometimes it seems like super villainy," he says.

But if you're worried about Wolverine or any other character, know that in the world of comics — of parallel universes and crime-solving talking ducks — anything is possible. Dying in a comic book doesn't mean you're dead.

“Captain America died for a while, but then he got better. So it happens,” Hellen says.

And just this once let’s let fans write the end of a story. If customers are willing to buy comic books or movie tickets, companies should  give them what they want.

“If a customer wants to see a sketchy dude with claws going up against a guy dressed in red, white and blue and carrying a shield, then figure it out guys," Hellen says. "Find a way to make it work."

It's All About The Benjamins And Jacksons — But What About The Women?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-20 12:51

The bills in your wallet have one thing in common: they all feature photos of men. Now, a campaign hopes to replace Andrew Jackson's face on the 20 with someone like Susan B. Anthony or Rosa Parks.

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Mexico's High Court Overturns Conviction Of Man Jailed For 23 Years

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-20 12:50

The country's Supreme Court ruled that Alfonso Martin del Campo Dodd, who holds both U.S. and Mexican citizenship, was convicted based entirely on a confession derived by torture.

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Kurds targeted in Syria bombings

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 12:33
More than 20 people have been killed in a twin bomb attack targeting Kurds marking Persian New Year, or Norouz, in north-eastern Syria, activists say.

Mass grave found in Boko Haram town

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 12:23
A mass grave has been discovered in a town in north-eastern Nigeria retaken from Boko Haram, soldiers from Niger and Chad say.

VIDEO: Picasso electrician told to return art

BBC - Fri, 2015-03-20 12:07
An elderly electrician has been ordered to return more than 200 Pablo Picasso works after a court found him guilty of possessing stolen goods.