National / International News

Yahoo gives 'Community' an online home

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:15

NBC’s TV show 'Community' was a cult favorite, but largely a ratings loser for the network, meaning it often seemed to be on the brink of being canceled.

That struggle was mirrored in its final episode, as the show's namesake community college faced an uncertain future.

Its main characters are told: “Your school is still bankrupt, it is still unmarketable and it is still on the permanent chopping block of anyone who has any say in its future.”
  Now, despite being canceled by NBC in May, "Community" is getting a second shot at life.   Its sixth season will air – or rather stream – on Yahoo, which will use the show to beef up its original video content.  

“Literally, last year we produced 86 series, none of whom you’ve ever heard about because it was sort of a failed branding exercise,” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer admitted at TechCrunch’s Disrupt New York event in May.

Mayer hopes that original content, along with the company’s more established search and email services, will help make the site part of consumers’ daily online routines, which would then boost advertising.

In order to draw people to the site, Yahoo needs strong, unique content – different from what Netflix or Hulu is offering, says Sam Craig, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

“It’s a crowded marketplace out there and unless you have something with an identity, people aren’t going to come to it,” he explains.

"Community" offers a dedicated audience, which – while small by broadcast standards – is passionate about the show and loyal to it, says Max Dawson with the media consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates.

Another plus – the wealth of the show's existing viewers. 'Community' has very strong support among households making over $150,000.

“It beats out things like The Voice. It beats out mega-ratings success stories, [like] Big Bang Theory, in attracting those rich viewers,” says Dawson. “Thpse are viewers who are the most difficult to attract and the most appealing for sponsors.”

One network’s trash could be a tech company’s treasure.

Would you eat computer food? Because Watson's cooking

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:12

We put a lot of trust in computers. We use them to find dates online, to give us music recommendations, and, of course, the list goes on. But would you trust a computer to make you food? 

Well, not literally. The people at IBM have programmed Watson, the supercomputer that made its debut on Jeopardy, to come up with the most unique and creative food recipes using trillions of ingredients. From Indonesian Rice Chili Con Carne to Austrian Chocolate Burritos, the computer takes a base ingredient, a style of food and some additional suggested flavors and complements to come up with recipes. This process is named "cognitive cooking". 

Florian Pinel is the head engineer at the Cognitive Cooking project. He says most people cook in their comfort zone:

"They always cook the same things... and the computer doesn't have that bias. So it comes up with combinations that do work, because we use a number of theories that tell us that they are likely to work together. But that you wouldn't think of." 

One of those recipes Watson came up with? Bengali Butternut Barbecue Sauce. Yeah...

The team debuted this recipe for SXSW on the IBM Food Truck. While it may not have gone over well at the Marketplace offices, Pinel says the system is there to help people be more creative when it comes to cooking. 

As Recess Settles In, A Reflection On Supreme Court's Big Rulings

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

Melissa Block talks to NPR's Nina Totenberg and Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog about the state of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts.

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Iraqi Parliament, And Maliki's Fate, Float In Limbo

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

Iraq's new parliament met for the first time Tuesday to start the process of forming a new government, which might no longer include Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as its leader.

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Marchers Take To Streets Of Hong Kong To Protest Eroding Autonomy

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

Over 100,000 residents of Hong Kong marched to demand greater freedom in choosing their leaders. The protest comes on the 17th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

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Lawmakers Pitch A Gas Tax Hike To Replenish Dwindling Highway Funds

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

Sens. Chris Murphy and Bob Corker have drawn up a bipartisan proposal to help resolve the Highway Trust Fund's impending financial problems. Their plan would pay for most federal transportation programs with a gasoline tax.

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Addressing Killed Teens, Israeli Ambassador Decries 'Culture Of Terrorism'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, speaks to Robert Siegel about the Israeli government's response to the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.

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In Long-Roiled Ukraine, War Mentality Turns Outward

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

The crisis in Ukraine is starting to take a psychological toll on citizens, including those who aren't near the fighting in the country's eastern provinces. Many Ukrainians say they now feel their country is at war with Russia and that they're prepared to make sacrifices for Ukraine's independence. Recent polling data shows that even in the east of the country, most people support keeping the country unified.

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On The Waterfront, Obama Contends Bridge Repair Coffers Beg Refilling

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

Speaking on the Potomac River waterfront, President Obama advocated for renovating aging American infrastructure with the historic Francis Scott Key Bridge poised behind him. NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

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As Teens Are Buried In Ceremony, Israelis React To Unearthed Recordings

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:10

After finding three Israeli teens dead in the West Bank, the Israeli government has released a recording of an emergency phone call placed during their kidnapping. It has also begun a campaign of air strikes aimed at Hamas.

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Swimming despite the sewage and corpses

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 12:09
The swimming lessons blighted by sewage and corpses

Emin's My Bed artwork sold for £2.2m

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:56
Tracey Emin's controversial My Bed modern artwork sells for £2.2m at auction at Christie's in London.

From Baby Federer to Bulgarian Beckham

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:40
With swarthy good looks and a silky backhand, Andy Murray's opponent Grigor Dimitrov is finally living up to his nicknames.

VIDEO: ENO funding cut in arts shake-up

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:37
The English National Opera is facing a 29% cut to its funding as part of an arts funding shake-up.

Argentina 1-0 Switzerland (aet)

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:23
Angel Di Maria's extra-time winner carries Argentina into the World Cup quarter-finals after an unconvincing display.

Lawyer seeks shorter Coulson sentence

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:21
Andy Coulson did not know the phone hacking going while he was News of the World editor was illegal and this should mitigate the sentence he faces, his lawyer has told the Old Bailey.

U.S. Bounced Out Of World Cup By Belgium, Ending Team's Run

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:15

Belgium beat the United States by scoring two goals in extra time. The U.S. made a late run, but the clock ran out and the U.S. is coming home.

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As banks prepare for end of draw, consumers should too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:09

It’s not every day that five government agencies, including the Federal Reserve and the FDIC, all come out with the same warning on the same day. That’s what happened this morning, and it amounted to a collective "watch out" to banks over homeowners ability to pay back lines of credit in the next few years. 

Back in the early 2000s, right up to 2008, a lot of people took out lines of credit on their homes – this is where you can borrow money and use your house as collateral. They’re known as HELOCs (Home Equity Lines of Credit).

“Anybody who had a breath, any house still standing, seemed to be eligible for these kinds of loans,” recalls Nicolas Retsinas, senior lecturer in real estate at Harvard Business School.

HELOCs can typically last 10 years in what’s called a “draw period,” where people can continue to draw on the line of credit. After 10 years, they can’t draw any longer and they have to start paying back the principal. Starting about now, 10 years have gone by. Now it’s time to pay up.

“This is another bill coming due from the lending binge of the early 21st century,” says Retsinas. A bill that, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, now totals around $218 billion, of which $199 billion will be due by 2018.

If homeowners haven’t been paying down the principal, the change in bills may be substantial when they have to start doing so.

“We’re seeing that payments can go up 100 percent or even 200 percent or higher,” says Bob Piepergerdes, director of retail credit risk at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Given median incomes are lower than they were in 2007 and unemployment is higher, some borrowers may experience problems paying up. 

“There is some risk of repayment so we’re asking institutions to evaluate where their borrowers are,” says Piepergerdes. And then he needs them to prepare accordingly

“The good news,” he says, “is that institutions have taken action.” The guidance put out by different agencies “is really to set forth the expectations of what we would like to see institutions do from a risk management stand point, but the institutions have been preparing for this for as long as we’ve been talking about it.”

JPMorgan Chase, for example, says it’s stocked up on reserves and is reaching out to customers. 

“We are looking for ways to limit payment shock for our customers by being hyper-focused on communicating options to them,” the bank, which holds $49 billion in HELOCs, of which $29 billion will require higher payments through 2017, said in a statement. “We want to make sure customers are making enough of a payment so when they go into the repayment period of the principal it’s a step up not a leap up.” The bank estimates that more than half of the $29 billion will refinance or pay off before payments jump higher.

Overall, the largest lenders have reduced exposure by 20 percent through refinancing. 

Homeowners would be advised to dig out their old loan agreements and look at the fine print, says Bob Davis, Executive Vice President at the American Bankers Association. “That’s one thing consumers ought to do right now, they ought to look at the payments they may have to make,” Davis says, “and if they want to change the loan arrangement and pay off their home equity line of credit by refinancing, they ought to be aware of their access to credit and whether their credit rating will allow them to.”

What do you do with millions of extra graduates?

BBC - Tue, 2014-07-01 11:00
What will China and India do with millions more graduates?

FTC Alleges T-Mobile Charged Customers Millions In Bogus Charges

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-01 10:57

The Federal Trade Commission alleges the company profited from scams against its customers. Its long phone bills, the FTC says, made it nearly impossible for customers to understand the charge.

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