National News

Science Standards Draw Climate Change Debate Back Into Wyo. Classrooms

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

So far, 13 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, but elsewhere these standards are causing controversy because of what they say about climate change. In Wyoming, reports Aaron Schrank, it's a particularly touchy issue.

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As Pakistan Turns Courts Over To Military, Some Fear Revival Of Army's Power

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Pakistan is returning to an old and dreaded practice: the formation of secret military courts to try people accused of threatening the county's security.

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Hopes Soar As Drone Enthusiasts Greet New Rule Proposal

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Drone enthusiasts are generally pleased with the long-awaited regulations proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday. They had feared the government would make them go to flight school.

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Climate Scientist Tries Arts To Stir Hearts Regarding Earth's Fate

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Physicist Robert Davies worked with a classical quartet and two visual artists to create a musical performance about climate change. The music and images, he says, help the information take hold.

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Female Libido Pill Fires Up Debate About Women And Sex

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Is the FDA being sexist, or appropriately cautious in requiring stringent evidence that the latest pill works and is safe? Women's advocacy groups aren't sure.

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Talks Collapse, As Greece Rejects E.U. Bailout Deal

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 11:42

Four hours after they started, both parties walked out of the talks and reiterated their hard lines. Now, Greece's membership in the currency bloc is in question.

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Report: Using Malware, Hackers Steal Millions From Banks

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 10:37

According to a security company, hackers kept tabs on bank employees, transferred funds and then sent commands to ATMs to dispense cash at pre-determined times.

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Presidents Day Deal: Pass Our Quiz, Win Nothing

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 09:14

They've all helped create our nation, but do you know who they are?

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President's Day: A celebration of two wheels?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 08:51

It's President's Day! And, it's a day and a weekend when car dealers sell a whole lot of cars. But, long before minivans were decked in red, white and blue balloons, before TV ads featured one car special after another, President's Day was all about bicycles. 

According to The Atlantic, in the late 1800's Washington's birthday was celebrated with two wheels. Bicycle races ... bicycle sales ... it was the day the newest models of bicycles were unveiled. 

Which means we've been buying these symbols of personal freedom for a very long time.

PODCAST: The biggest bank robbery of all time?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 08:36

We're still learning about a sweeping, year-long heist revealed by a Russian cyber security firm Monday. Hackers reportedly got away with up to $1 billion from the various banks by pulling little bits from about 100 banks over time. We chatted with one expert about how much a breach could have gone unnoticed. Then, the U.S. is trying to catch up on tech training, and apprenticeships could be the answer. Labor secretary Thomas Perez calls them "the other college, but without the debt." Finally: very few people buy movie tickets online, but industry watchers are looking to change that because the opportunities for data collection might be too good to pass up.

It's good to be a former president

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 07:14
$1,287,000

That's what the U.S. Government's General Services Administration allotted President George W. Bush for Fiscal Year 2014, Vox reported. That total includes office space, health care and other services — on top of the $201,700 all four living presidents receive annually.

Courtesy:Vox 2016

Speaking of presidents, the New York Times has made a handy, interactive scorecard for likely 2016 candidates. It rounds up the each candidates progress and parses through the currently crowded Republican field. 

100

The number of banks implicated in a sweeping, year-long heist revealed by a Russian cyber security firm Monday. Hackers reportedly got away with up to $1 billion from the various banks. We chatted with one expert about how much a breach could have gone unnoticed.

$90.7 million

The predicted box office take for "Fifty Shades of Grey" from Thursday night to Monday, the New York Times reported. It's a strong opening – among the highest for an erotic film, an R-rated film and a film directed by a woman – and it has potential to shift attitudes in Hollywood about all three types of movies. Not bad for what was once "Twilight" fan fiction.

$44 million

That's how much Colorado made from taxing recreational marijuana in 2014, the Associated Press reported. The market is still in flux, and the state got a bump from tourism last year, but it's an encouraging sign for legalization supporters, especially taking into account the additional $32 million in taxes Colorado from medical marijuana.

$30 billion

The approximate value of chocolate company Ferrero SpA, the Wall Street Journal reported. Company founder and Italy's richest man, Michele Ferrero, died over the weekend at 89. Ferrero gave the world Tic Tacs, Kinder eggs and most notably Nutella.

Winter Storm Brings Rain, Ice, Snow Across Country's Midsection

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 07:11

After the storm rakes its way across the South and Mid-Atlantic, it will likely take aim at New England, which has already experienced a record-setting winter.

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Retaliating For Killings, Egypt Launches Air Strikes Against ISIS In Libya

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 04:58

On Sunday, the Islamic State released a video that purported to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians who had been kidnapped last week. Libya joined Egypt in the attacks.

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US hopes grants will spur apprenticeships

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 04:42

The U.S. lags behind countries like Germany and Switzerland in the race to train young workers in the latest advanced technologies.  Now, the Department of Labor has $100 million in grants it will award to create apprenticeship programs across the country.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez recently highlighted efforts by companies like Buhler Aeroglide, which offers training for high school students in manufacturing skills.  The federal government has singled out Buhler as an apprenticeship leader. Perez says creating more programs like Buhler's will help grow the economy.  

He hopes companies will offer training programs in all kinds of skills, including IT, cyber security and healthcare.

US hopes grants will spur apprenticeships

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 04:42

The U.S. lags behind countries like Germany and Switzerland in the race to train young workers in the latest advanced technologies.  Now, the Department of Labor has $100 million in grants it will award to create apprenticeship programs across the country.

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez recently highlighted efforts by companies like Buhler Aeroglide, which offers training for high school students in manufacturing skills.  The federal government has singled out Buhler as an apprenticeship leader. Perez says creating more programs like Buhler's will help grow the economy.  

He hopes companies will offer training programs in all kinds of skills, including IT, cyber security and healthcare.

Billboards surprise motorists with art instead of ads

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 04:33

Driving across the middle of the country, you see billboards everywhere, for things like diners, casinos and adult bookstores. The sign advertising industry is actually worth $7 billion dollars nationwide.

Missouri averages three billboards per mile – more than any of its neighboring states. But when you get to Hatton, Missouri, there’s one sign that’s not like the others. It’s sandwiched between an ad for a strip club and an ad for more billboards in the middle of a muddy soybean field.

The billboard was designed by artist Kim Beck. It has the words “next exit” written in cloud letters gainst a blue backdrop. The background of the sign bleeds into the actual sky today. There are no logos or branding identification on the artwork.

The billboard towers above Anne Thompson, who teaches art at the University of Missouri. This piece is part of her I-70 Sign Show public art project. Thompson says this sign is meant to subtly confront billboards that ask drivers if they are going to heaven or hell.

“I think the words ‘next exit’ are probably the most [commonly found] along the interstate,” she says. “But when you see them written in clouds as this kind of displaced piece of sky in the sky, it takes on a different kind of poetic meaning, like where is your next exit?”

She picked six artists to create pieces that compete in the shouting match of anti-abortion, gun-rights and political campaign signage along the highway. One piece shows the words “blah blah blah” scrawled across the billboard that tackles the confusion of language. Another sign has the word “Blurred” written half in blue and half in red as a comment on the divided politics of Missouri.

More than 45,000 cars cruise I-70 each day with the chance to catch the socially engaging art.  In a city like Chicago, a sign might run you thousands of dollars a month. Here in rural Missouri? It’s only about $900.

One sign has caught the attention of Jessica Baran, the director of the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts in St. Louis.

“To have a large, powerful, very assertive African American female figure flanking the exit that’s leading to where the recent unrest in Ferguson has taken place, certainly has a psychic value,” she said.

Indeed, Thompson says when that sign by artist Mickalene Thomas moved from a soy bean field to five miles from where Michael Brown was shot, the conversation changed from gender politics to race politics.

Ultimately, Thompson says she hopes the project continues stirring up more conversations about contentious issues seen from the road.

 

Why would credit cards want Costco?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 02:16

The Costco and American Express partnership, which is ending at the end of March, was just one example of what credit card companies are doing more of these days. 

American Express offered an official Costco card and had been the only credit card you could use to buy stuff at the retailer, which posted $110 billion in revenues for fiscal year 2014.

Their partnership was a co-branding arrangement. Such arrangements have become more common, says Jason Arnold of RBC, and offer loyalty programs such as airline miles or cash-back cards. These arrangements are alluring to risk-averse credit issuers, says Arnold, because they are less likely to result in delinquencies.

"If a card-member wants to keep their rewards, they typically have to pay their card on time," Arnold says. 

Since the Great Recession, banks have been increasingly employing co-branding agreements to stand out from the competition, instead of competing with each other on lower interest rates, says Arnold.

Co-branding partnerships can encourage spending. American Express says 20 percent of its monthly outstanding balances are on its Costco cards. And, 70 percent of the money people spend on those cards, isn't even spent at Costco, according to the company.

Customers have been using the cards for other purchases, too.

Sameer Gokhale, who tracks the banking industry at Janney Capital Markets, says co-branding gives credit card companies a captive customer base.

"You have this one merchant. You have customers loyal to this one merchant," says Gokhale, "In this case it was Costco."

But he adds that it probably did not make sense for AmEx to retain the partnership under the terms which he thinks Costco was asking: accepting lower fees for point-of-sale transactions at Costco stores. 

For its part, American Express says it will try to hold onto its many Costco credit card customers by offering them other AmEx cards. It also plans to ramp up spending on marketing.

Will there be a U.S. version of Black Mirror?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 02:00

Today, we kick off From the Hills to the Valley, our series on what divides Hollywood and Silicon Valley, and what pulls them closer? We are going to talk about a lot of different things - from creativity and fame to piracy and lobbying -  but we begin with how Hollywood sees and, therefore, represents Silicon Valley.

First up is Jenna Wortham, staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, who recently wrote about Black Mirror, a dystopian British series that’s recently become popular in the US.

Black Mirror, Wortham says, is an un-Hollywood version of how technology is changing our lives. She thinks one reasons it’s difficult for hollywood to represent silicon valley is that people “sitting behind screens,” is rather “boring and hard to illustrate.”

What about The Social Network? “It was great,” she says, “but you couldn’t get away from scenes of Jesse Eisenberg furiously coding. How do you make that sexy?”

Wortham isn’t sure Hollywood could have made a series like Black Mirror.

“I don't know that those narratives are very popular here," she says. “When we do dystopian narratives they tend to focus on collapse of civilization  or a zombie virus outbreak. Not necessarily computers have gone haywire and they are coming for us.”

 

As Rules Get Sorted Out, Drones May Transform Agriculture Industry

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 01:31

At farm shows across the country, drones have become as ubiquitous as tractors. Drone flights are mostly banned in the U.S., but on Sunday the FAA released long-awaited draft rules.

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Not A Group House, Not A Commune: Europe Experiments With Co-Housing

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 00:16

From urban high-density housing to rural communal living, Europeans are using the principle of co-housing — in which neighbors share space and resources, depending on their needs.

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