National / International News

NOAA Team Finds Shipwreck From The 'Titanic of the Golden Gate'

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-12 10:36

In 1901, the SS City of Rio de Janeiro went down in thick fog at the entrance to San Francisco Bay, killing 128 people — most immigrants from China and Japan.

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Your questions to BBC correspondent Frank Gardner

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 10:27
In a Twitter Q&A, the BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardener answered questions about the redacted CIA report.

Growing Styrofoam out of mushrooms

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:55

In a college dorm room, under a twin XL bed, a company was born. Ecovative, a biodesign company based in Albany, NY, began as a science project for Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer -- they grew oyster mushrooms under their beds, in the hopes of using them to recycle farm waste, and eventually, create an alternative to soft plastics, like Styrofoam. 

The experiment worked. Using the roots of mushrooms, Ecovative turns agricultural waste into packing materials, insulation, and even surfboards. Their products replace harmful, carcinogenic plastics found in Styrofoam and in furniture made from wood composite. Their products are all biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable. 

Mushroom roots bind together particles of farm waste to make a foam that settles in a mold -- Ecovative is able to shape these to make the kind of packaging that protects computer parts or furniture during shipping. Their materials, called Myco Board, have a pretty typical look and feel, and they cost about the same about as unrecyclable soft plastics. 

Replacing packing materials made logistical sense for Ecovative -- Gavin McIntyre, co-founder and chief scientist at Ecovative,  says that the company "sees itself as a material science company, and a materials provider...similar to Dow and DuPont, who were the materials leaders within the 20th century, we seek to be the biomaterials leader in the 21st century."

"When a customer is going to buy a product, they're looking at price, and performance," McIntyre says, "the environmental story is a nice-to-have, but it's not a need-to-have. All of our product offerings are at price parity or below traditional plastic foams or woods." That pitch has swayed customers already. In 2007, Ecovative's first customer was a Fortune 500 company, Steelcase furniture. Now they work with many other companies, including Dell and Crate and Barrel. 

They've also allowed smaller companies to experiment with their materials, offering the option to grow their own Myco Board -- that's how most of the mushroom surfboards are made, by individuals or companies, mostly located on the West Coast, who use Ecovative's foam to shape their own boards. Standford also collaborated with Ecovative on the body of a drone, made from mushroom materials, that will decompose in nature. 

Ecovative is able to keep prices down because they don't rely on fossil fuels to produce materials. They don't have an expensive factory, just molds that hold the Myco Foam while it hardens. Oil independence gives Ecovative added stability, and they save on space and staffing. 

Right now, materials made from agricultural waste are only making a small dent in the amount of unrecyclable material going into landfills and oceans, but as the number of biomaterials producers grows and as these companies expand, the materials industry could get a lot 'shroomier. 

Growing a replacement for Styrofoam ... out of mushrooms

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:55

In a college dorm room, under a twin XL bed, a company was born. Ecovative, a biodesign company based in Albany, NY, began as a science project for Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer -- they grew oyster mushrooms under their beds, in the hopes of using them to recycle farm waste, and eventually, create an alternative to soft plastics, like Styrofoam. 

The experiment worked. Using the roots of mushrooms, Ecovative turns agricultural waste into packing materials, insulation, and even surfboards. Their products replace harmful, carcinogenic plastics found in Styrofoam and in furniture made from wood composite. Their products are all biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable. 

Mushroom roots bind together particles of farm waste to make a foam that settles in a mold -- Ecovative is able to shape these to make the kind of packaging that protects computer parts or furniture during shipping. Their materials, called Myco Board, have a pretty typical look and feel, and they cost about the same about as unrecyclable soft plastics. 

Replacing packing materials made logistical sense for Ecovative -- Gavin McIntyre, co-founder and chief scientist at Ecovative,  says that the company "sees itself as a material science company, and a materials provider...similar to Dow and DuPont, who were the materials leaders within the 20th century, we seek to be the biomaterials leader in the 21st century."

"When a customer is going to buy a product, they're looking at price, and performance," McIntyre says, "the environmental story is a nice-to-have, but it's not a need-to-have. All of our product offerings are at price parity or below traditional plastic foams or woods." That pitch has swayed customers already. In 2007, Ecovative's first customer was a Fortune 500 company, Steelcase furniture. Now they work with many other companies, including Dell and Crate and Barrel. 

They've also allowed smaller companies to experiment with their materials, offering the option to grow their own Myco Board -- that's how most of the mushroom surfboards are made, by individuals or companies, mostly located on the West Coast, who use Ecovative's foam to shape their own boards. Standford also collaborated with Ecovative on the body of a drone, made from mushroom materials, that will decompose in nature. 

Ecovative is able to keep prices down because they don't rely on fossil fuels to produce materials. They don't have an expensive factory, just molds that hold the Myco Foam while it hardens. Oil independence gives Ecovative added stability, and they save on space and staffing. 

Right now, materials made from agricultural waste are only making a small dent in the amount of unrecyclable material going into landfills and oceans, but as the number of biomaterials producers grows and as these companies expand, the materials industry could get a lot 'shroomier. 

Growing a replacement for Styrofoam...out of mushrooms

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:55

In a college dorm room, under a twin XL bed, a company was born. Ecovative, a biodesign company based in Albany, NY, began as a science project for Gavin McIntyre and Eben Bayer -- they grew oyster mushrooms under their beds, in the hopes of using them to recycle farm waste, and eventually, create an alternative to soft plastics, like Styrofoam. 

The experiment worked. Using the roots of mushrooms, Ecovative turns agricultural waste into packing materials, insulation, and even surfboards. Their products replace harmful, carcinogenic plastics found in Styrofoam and in furniture made from wood composite. Their products are all biodegradable, compostable, and sustainable. 

Mushroom roots bind together particles of farm waste to make a foam that settles in a mold -- Ecovative is able to shape these to make the kind of packaging that protects computer parts or furniture during shipping. Their materials, called Myco Board, have a pretty typical look and feel, and they cost about the same about as unrecyclable soft plastics. 

Replacing packing materials made logistical sense for Ecovative -- Gavin McIntyre, co-founder and chief scientist at Ecovative,  says that the company "sees itself as a material science company, and a materials provider...similar to Dow and DuPont, who were the materials leaders within the 20th century, we seek to be the biomaterials leader in the 21st century."

"When a customer is going to buy a product, they're looking at price, and performance," McIntyre says, "the environmental story is a nice-to-have, but it's not a need-to-have. All of our product offerings are at price parity or below traditional plastic foams or woods." That pitch has swayed customers already. In 2007, Ecovative's first customer was a Fortune 500 company, Steelcase furniture. Now they work with many other companies, including Dell and Crate and Barrel. 

They've also allowed smaller companies to experiment with their materials, offering the option to grow their own Myco Board -- that's how most of the mushroom surfboards are made, by individuals or companies, mostly located on the West Coast, who use Ecovative's foam to shape their own boards. Standford also collaborated with Ecovative on the body of a drone, made from mushroom materials, that will decompose in nature. 

Ecovative is able to keep prices down because they don't rely on fossil fuels to produce materials. They don't have an expensive factory, just molds that hold the Myco Foam while it hardens. Oil independence gives Ecovative added stability, and they save on space and staffing. 

Right now, materials made from agricultural waste are only making a small dent in the amount of unrecyclable material going into landfills and oceans, but as the number of biomaterials producers grows and as these companies expand, the materials industry could get a lot 'shroomier. 

Juncker warns UK over migrant curbs

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:53
The president of the European Commission warns the UK not to "beat up" EU migrants as it tries to reduce immigration numbers.

Even in colour, Comet 67P is grey

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:50
The first colour image from the Rosetta spacecraft shows that Comet 67P is even more dark and monochrome than expected.

Vatican, Citing 'Delicate Situation,' Rejects Dalai Lama Meeting With Pope

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:46

It's an apparent reference to the Holy See's relations with Beijing. They haven't had diplomatic ties since 1949. Tibet's spiritual leader is in Rome for a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize winners.

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Striker Balotelli accepts FA charge

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:37
Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli accepts an FA charge for a post on social media but writes a letter in mitigation.

The ups and downs of manufacturing jobs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:36

The labor department says 28,000 new manufacturing jobs were created last month.

For decades manufacturing was a way to make a solid living without a college degree, but was it hit hard by automation and off-shoring.

The manufacturing jobs being created now are different, they are often specialized, or regional. One plant leaves and  another comes ... bringing with it a few precious slots.

Kenny Reeves has been working in manufacturing in the south since he graduated high school in 2007.

Confusion Over Job-Based Insurance Can Shortchange Consumers

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:35

Some consumers mistakenly think that having access to skimpy coverage at work means they won't qualify for subsidies if they are interested in a more complete policy on the health care exchanges.

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Police called to man on pub roof

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:34
Police are dealing with a serious incident in Holyhead on Anglesey and have warned members of the public to avoid the area.

A whiff of hypocrisy about CIA report?

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:32
Following the release of a contentious Senate report detailing CIA interrogation techniques, the BBC's Jon Sopel questions the motives of those involved and the lasting impact of such actions.

Book publisher experiments with Twitter sales

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:24

The Hachette Book Group is experimenting with selling books directly to customers on Twitter, a departure from its usual practice of selling through Amazon or brick-and-mortar book stores.

The publisher offered 100 copies of Amanda Palmer's autobiographical book "The Art of Asking" Thursday, along with a signed copy of a manuscript page. The books could only be purchased through a buy button on Hachette's Twitter account. They sold out in 20 minutes.

Through its various imprints, Hachette publishes about 1,000 books a year, so its Twitter experiment — with just three titles — is limited. The next two are former astronaut Chris Hadfield's book "You Are Here," which will go on sale Monday on Twitter, followed by The Onion's "The Onion Magazine: The Iconic Covers That Transformed an Undeserving World" on Thursday. 

"We are always looking for ways to connect our writers with their readers," says Heather Fain, head of marketing strategy at Hachette. "And selling people books through Twitter, where they're already talking about books, seems like a very simple and direct way to do that."

Hachette's move comes after its very public spat with Amazon, which it recently settled by gaining the right to set its own prices on Amazon's website. But, Fain insists that the Twitter campaign is a social media marketing effort, and is unrelated to Amazon.

"This really is just an example of a new way to communicate to consumers," says Fain, "They're just not connected."

By contrast, Gumroad, which powers the buy button on Hachette's Twitter page, is firmly focused on e-commerce. The start-up has been courting authors and musicians, offering them an alternative to  iTunes and Amazon.

"There's a lot of opportunities for Gumroad and for a lot of other companies to be able to do things to empower creators to make more money, get more data for their transactions, understand their audience better," the company's Ryan Delk says. 

For example, Hachette will get the email addresses of those who bought books via Twitter, allowing the publisher to develop a direct connection with readers.

"It's an interesting experiment," NextMarket Insights analyst Michael Wolf says. "It won't serve as a direct alternative to Amazon."

Hachette and Gumroad are far from matching Amazon's scale, but it makes sense for Hachette to be thinking about how to rely on Amazon less in the long term, Wolf says.

"If you're Hachette, and you're looking at the future of your business, you don't want to put all your eggs certainly in one basket," Wolf says.

Hachette started its Twitter campaign with authors who have millions of followers. The publisher says its next move may be to see if authors with fewer followers can also sell on its non-Amazon platform.

Fla. Tomato Pickers' Wins Could Extend To Dairy, Berry Workers

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:13

In the last four years, 30,000 tomato pickers covered by a "fair food" program got a 50-to-70 percent pay raise. Advocates are now working with retailers and other industries to duplicate the model.

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'Ransom offer' for killed US hostage

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:09
The stepmother of journalist Luke Somers, killed in a rescue bid in Yemen, says there were negotiations for his release and an offer to pay a ransom.

Pressure still on England - Mathews

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:08
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews says England remain under pressure ahead of Saturday's sixth ODI between the sides.

Coming Soon To Iowa: Driver's License On A Smartphone App

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:03

The new app license will be available in 2015 at no additional cost to drivers, said Paul Trombino, director of the state's Department of Transportation.

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This year's must-have holiday gifts

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-12 09:00

Comedians Sam Weiner and Daniel Kibblesmith are the authors of the book, “How to Win At Everything.”  Every so often, they provide us with a humorous take on the news we cover every day at Marketplace. Here, they present their satiric guide to the season's must have holiday gifts.

Every year brings a new wave of must-have holiday gifts, from Tickle Me Elmo in 1996 to the polio vaccine in 1956. But this season, the stakes are higher than ever — here are the holiday gifts your family literally cannot live without. 

1.  For your kids: They're probably already begging you for their very own "Disney’s Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll."

But what you might not realize is if your child is the only the kid at school without this coveted plaything, you’re dooming them to life as a social pariah. Friendless and desperate, their grades plummet. By age 10, your child will become addicted to huffing packing peanuts and selling their own eyelashes under a bridge, their sullen face caked with regret. They'll wail long into adulthood the day you cursed them by buying them the wrong doll.

2. For Mom: Everyone’s talking about the new iPad Air 2 — it’s the must-buy gift to bring Mom into the 21st century.  

And if you fail? Mom will start missing crucial email updates: engagement announcements, wedding invitations, and priceless photos of her first grandchildren. Soon, she’ll be entirely cut off from the family, focusing her love on an ever-expanding “family” of stray, feral cats. In no time, she'll forget the English language entirely and start subsisting on a diet of leaves and injured birds. If only you’d gotten her that iPad, you'd still have a mom instead of a gibbering cat queen.

3. For your teens: Here's a quick tip to remember which hot new video game console you have to buy for your teen:

"PlayStation 4, love evermore ... Xbox One, lose your son."

4. For the whole family: The gift your whole family desperately needs: A Sony 85-inch Ultra HD 3D television.

Without this glorious slab of distraction, your family will be condemned to the worst possible fate of the holiday season: Enjoying each other's company.

Whatever you buy this holiday season whether toy, gadget or entertainment experience, remember that the real perfect gift is love — the love of buying things.

Mum called NHS 23 times before death

BBC - Fri, 2014-12-12 08:48
A review is launched after a woman died at home alone despite repeatedly calling the NHS 111 helpline for assistance.

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