National / International News

Free Bieber dot com? This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:27

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, Tekzilla host Veronica Belmont takes on the tech gauntlet in our weekly Silicon Tally quiz. Play along at home, below.

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Lapdancers cleared of kidnapping

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:25
Three lapdancers and their manager are cleared by a jury of kidnapping a club boss who owed them money.

VIDEO: Sparks fly in New Year celebration

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:25
A traditional folk event involving molten iron dazzles spectators ushering in the Lunar New Year in China's Hebei province.

We're in a valuation bubble. It's cool!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:24

When people talk about Silicon Valley or venture capitalism a question that gets raised a lot is, "Are we in a bubble?" Traditionally, that means investors pay a lot more for a company than it's intrinsically worth -- sometimes by as much as a billion dollars. But venture capitalist Jalak Jobanputra is making a novel argument. Yes, we're in a bubble, she says. But maybe those crazy price tags are accurate. To find out why, click the audio player above to hear Jobanputra's interview with Lizzie O'Leary.

In an earlier version of this story, we misspelled the first name of Jalak Jobanputra. The text has been corrected.

Super Bowl point spreads: Seahawks, Broncos, and Gatorade

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:19

When it comes to Super Bowl action, you may think that it all happens out on the field.  Twenty-two men on the gridiron at any given time slogging it out, sometimes in freezing conditions, for the ultimate prize: the elusive Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

But stakes are not only high for the players, coaches, and the National Football League. Las Vegas stands to profit largely from the Super Bowl as well.  In fact, the Super Bowl is the biggest one-day betting event in Nevada and this year will not be different.  

R.J. Bell, sports betting expert and founder of Pregame.com, says when it comes to the big game we can expect to see a record number of wagers.  

"Last year actually was a record in Nevada. $99 million dollars was bet. This year, consensus opinion is that record is going to be broken. $100 million-plus is the expectation," Bell says.

According to Bell, Nevada’s bets only make up a sliver of all wagers on the Super Bowl.

"Only one percent is legal and regulated here in Nevada. $10 billion will be bet on this game worldwide."

You could look to social psychology to examine why the Super Bowl brings out the inner gambler in so many.

"It’s social, it's an office pool, it is a party where there's squares…," Bell says. "In fact, for a lot of people, if you're not involved with a little something on the game, you feel left out."

But gambling over what happens on the field is only part of it.  For those of us who either don't know about or don’t care about football, there is still action to be had. This is where proposition bets come in. 

Will any member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless during their performance? 

Chances are… of course one or all of the Chili Peppers will be team skins. The oddsmakers agree.

Have an inkling about the color of the Gatorade that will be poured on the winning coach?  Yep, you can bet on that too.

Bell says that these prop bets allow "the casual fan, who is maybe only watching this one game" to get involved.

So whether you're rooting for the Seahawks or the Broncos, or red or blue Gatorade, odds are there will be winners and there will be losers.

Canada Used Airport Wi-Fi To Track Travelers, Snowden Leak Alleges

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:19

The latest secret revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden shows how Canada's spy agency experimented with using free Wi-Fi signals to follow travelers. Officials tell CBC News that they were only collecting "metadata," not the contents of communications.

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Unrest imperils Thailand's economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:09

Police presence ramped up Friday before Sunday’s disputed elections in Thailand. The government wants the public to go to the polls, despite huge anti-government protests that have been going on since November.

The unrest is rippling through Thailand's economy, especially tourism -- a big moneymaker for the country. Marketplace's Mark Garrison – currently on vacation in Thailand -- spoke with Lizzie O'Leary about the economic impact the protests are having. Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

My wife and I booked our trip before this all started and we decided to go ahead with it,” Garrison says. “But the problem for Thailand is that many people are doing the opposite. There have been waves of cancelations and you can see it walking around Bangkok. There are thinner crowds at the major tourist attractions, empty seats at restaurants and vacancies at the hotels.”

To put this in perspective, tourism in America is just over two percent of GDP. In Thailand it's more than seven percent -- far more important. And it has been one of the few bright spots in Thailand's economy recently. Both sides of this political debate know that, and that economic reality is shaping the protests in some interesting ways.

“What you don't see in most of the Western news coverage is that the anti-government groups demonstrating in Bangkok are staging rallies in places that are totally off the tourist map, far out of the way of foreign visitors,” Garrison says. “Right now at the most famous temples or the weekend market, it looks pretty normal and that's what both sides want. There's little common ground between them, but they agree that the tourism industry is vital and they don't want to damage it.”

The unrest comes at a difficult time for emerging markets, which have suffered significant losses in financial markets this week as investors retreat.

Global investors are already nervous in general, so the unrest in Thailand is giving them another reason to put their money elsewhere”  Garrison says. “Japanese automakers manufacture cars here and some execs have said they're rethinking plans for future investment. Investors who are thinking about putting money into Southeast Asia look at Thailand and see a place where this kind of unrest bubbles up every few years. Many of them are going to move that money.”

Blood-soaked papal relic found

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 07:04
Italian police recover most of a piece of cloth stained with the blood of Pope John Paul ll after it was stolen from a church in the Abruzzo region.

Marijuana advocates use Super Bowl as advocacy tool

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:59

This weekend's Super Bowl has all sorts of drug inspired nicknames — the Stoner Bowl, the Bud Bowl, the Weed Bowl, the Bowl Bowl. On Facebook, Cheech and Chong have suggested the tagline: "Lots of Hits. No Penalties."

The Denver Broncos will play the Seattle Seahawks, pitting the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana use against each other, making the game the perfect opportunity to talk marijuana — and marijuana laws.

"You are dealing with two likable and very visible teams from the legalized states," says Greg Wagner, a marketing professor at the University of Denver. For groups that want more legal pot, it's a chance they can't pass up. "Let's jump in there and be a part of the party."

A group called the Marijuana Policy Project spent $5,000 on pro-pot billboards near the stadium.

"Most people are just interested in the Super Doobie Bowl or whatever" says Kevin Oliver, with the Washington state affiliate of NORML. But he hopes that humor will turn into a bigger discussion about legalization and employee rights.

It's not a discussion that the NFL is in the mood for. The league declined comment.

VIDEO: A camera you can throw in the air

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:57
Spencer Kelly reports on the Panono camera ball, which takes 360 degree panoramic images when it is thrown in the air.

CAR clashes 'kill 43' in Bangui

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:53
Fighting in the capital of Central African Republic over the last four days has left 43 people dead, the Red Cross says.

Animals found dead at SA airport

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:50
Hundreds of endangered amphibians and reptiles are found dead in South Africa's main airport, en route from Madagascar to the US.

Panama To Free Crewmembers Of Seized North Korean Ship

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:48

The Chong Chon Gang and its crew of 35 have been held since July, when Panamanian authorities found Cuban weapons aboard in violation of U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang.

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British film-making sees decline

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:46
The number of British films being made has shown a drop in the past few years, according to new figures.

Ukraine activist 'was tortured'

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:33
A leading Ukrainian opposition activist who vanished for eight days says he was abducted and tortured before being left to die in the cold.

V&A museum gets £9.4m lottery boost

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:27
The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced it is to award a £9.4m grant to Dundee's V&A museum.

Video fails to kill the radio star

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:07
Why neither video nor the net ever killed the radio star

Where is Microsoft going next?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-31 06:06

There’s a lot of chatter out there about who will be named as Microsoft’s next CEO. And there’s questions swirling about whether Bill Gates will step down as board chair. The company isn’t talking. 

But one thing seems clear: the tech giant wants to do more than be king of software.

Forrester analyst George Lawrie says the time has come for Microsoft to expand beyond its core software business. 

“In a way its traditional business is quite saturated. So from their perspective they’ve got to look for different sources of revenue,” he says. With nearly $80 billion in revenue last year, Microsoft is well positioned to pivot.

“Microsoft certainly needs to expand its horizons, but the question of in which direction,” says Roger Kay, president of runs Endpoint Technologies Associates. Kay says the company has had some hardware success, Xbox for example.

But there’s something a little cannibalistic about the move.

“Microsoft’s traditional customers, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Lenovo are all in the hardware business. And so basically Microsoft starts competing with its own customers when it moves into hardware,” he says.

The smart money, says Kay, may be internet services, something like Amazon. Whoever becomes Microsoft’s CEO, Kay says the test is to pull the company’s different businesses together and thrive.

VIDEO: Teacher admits toilet voyeurism

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 05:58
The deputy head teacher of a Cardiff secondary school has admitted hiding a camera to film five children using a toilet.

VIDEO: Cameron policies 'will lead to deaths'

BBC - Fri, 2014-01-31 05:57
David Cameron is "presiding over a system which will lead to deaths", said a candidate standing in May's European elections.

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