National News

Magna Carta anniversary draws American support

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-12 02:00

Mark Wallis, boss of Past Pleasures, an historical re-enactment company, is fretting over the costume he will wear on his next job.

“It’s very heavy,” he says. "When you’re wearing it, you feel as if  there are two iron hands pressing you into the earth.”

It’s chainmail. And real chainmail. Not knitted string sprayed the color of silver. Wallis is playing the part of Robert Fitzwalter, leader of the rebel barons, in a reconstruction commemorating the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede on the banks of the River Thames, on June 15, 1215. Mark is determined that his performance should be authentic as possible.

“Our job is to bring alive the hidden stories of England’s dynamic history,” he says.

The reconstruction is part of a mass of commemorative events and medieval festivities marking the 800th anniversary of an episode that has even more resonance in the United States than in Britain.

“Magna Carta was initially a peace settlement between a bad king and his very, very unhappy barons,” says Justin Champion, Professor of History at Royal Holloway University. "But it became a symbol of resistance and protest, especially during the American Revolution in 1776.” 

The document not only inspired the revolutionaries but also formed part of the intellectual underpinning of the U.S. Constitution.  

Americans are playing a major role in the anniversary. Some 800 American lawyers have descended on London for a round of debates and seminars and for the re-dedication of the Magna Carta memorial at Runnymede, set up by donations from the American Bar Association in the 1950’s.   

The Association’s current President, William Hubbard, is leading the delegation in this anniversary year.

“This is a great opportunity for us to come and celebrate the foundation of much of the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States," Hubbard says.

Many of the lawyers will take time out to watch some ferociously realistic medieval combat — hand to hand fighting with mace and broadsword and jousting.

“You know lawyers are always into jousting,” says Hubbard. 


Profitable airlines face grumpy investors

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-12 02:00

U.S. airlines are having a great year, but the major carriers’ stock prices have tumbled this week, thanks to growing fears that airlines will overreact to the the good times and mess things up for investors. 

The planes are fuller so they're flying with fewer empty seats. And fuel prices are extremely low.

Joe Schwieterman, a transportation professor at DePaul University in Chicago, says demand has been strong and ticket prices low, "so the fares out there are actually pretty attractive. And we really thought this was going to be a summer where airlines could, in effect, rake it in."

And investors don’t like it when airlines cut prices if it isn’t clear that will result in greater market share. In fact, in the past it’s given airlines quite the stomach ache when their expansion gets whacked by a spike in fuel prices or a reduction in consumer demand.

Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly, says "investors are worried that airlines are just going to put too much supply in the marketplace and grow more quickly than the economy."

"When we look at the schedules for the next bunch of months and into early 2016, airlines are indeed looking to grow more rapidly than the economy," Kaplan says. He adds that growing too fast can result in reduced profits and grumpy investors.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $122,874

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-12 01:45
14 million

That's how many government employees may have had their information stolen in what is being called the largest hacking of U.S. government data in history. As Bloomberg reports, this new number dwarfs the 4 million the government initially estimated. Victims include former and current government employees, as well as government contract workers.

4 percent

Thursday was the first time this year that mortgage rates rose above 4 percent, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. This leads some traders to believe that the Federal Reserve may soon raise short-term interest rates.


That's how much a Kickstarter campaign raised to fund the making of a board game called "The Doom That Came to Atlantic City." Unfortunately for everyone involved, that game never materialized. Now, the FTC has ruled that game creator Erik Chevalier failed to refund backers and did not deliver on promised rewards. As CNET reports, Chevalier has been prohibited from misrepresenting a crowdfunded campaign, will be forced to pay all refunds and was fined $111,793.71.

800 years

That's how many years ago the Magna Carta was sealed. It is credited as providing many of the underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution. Best warn the Brits that the Yankees are coming: Funded by donations to the American Bar Association, about 800 American lawyers are headed to London for the rededication of the Magna Carta memorial at Runnymede.

13 episodes

That's how many "Orange Is the New Black" episodes — the show's entire Season 3 — premiered on Netflix Thursday night. No doubt viewers have already taken to binge watching all of them in a row. But why not pause your marathon to take a look into the culture of binge watching TV, as we ask if it is, in fact, the future of television.

Silicon Tally: These are not the fridges you're looking for

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-06-12 01:41

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

This week, we're joined by Greta Johnsen, co-host of the Nerdette podcast.

Click the media player above to play along.

A Good But Not Great New Season For Netflix's 'Orange Is The New Black'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-12 01:00

Netflix debuts 14 new episodes of prison dramedy Orange is the New Black. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says the show remains compelling, despite the loss of a powerful character from last season.

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Organic Farmers Call Foul On Whole Foods' Produce Rating System

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-12 01:00

Some organic farmers are protesting a new system Whole Foods is using to rate its suppliers. They say the system devalues the organic label because non-organic producers can earn the highest grades.

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In The Rolling Hills Of Galway, Spirit Of W.B. Yeats Lives On

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-12 00:58

Saturday marks the 150th birthday of William Butler Yeats, one of the 20th century's greatest poets. In far western Ireland's County Galway, Yeats found inspiration in the people and landscape.

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Coming Home Straight From Solitary Damages Inmates And Their Families

NPR News - Fri, 2015-06-12 00:56

Says one public defender: "The frightening thing about solitary is that when it erodes your ability to interact with other human beings, in turn that trauma is inflicted on your family members."

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Health Insurance Premiums Will Go Up In 2016, But By How Much?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 23:27

Most people buying Obamacare plans next year are likely to face a small increase in the price of monthly premiums, early numbers suggest. A few plans are asking for steep price hikes, but that's rare.

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Warriors' Shooters Break Out Of Slump To Tie NBA Finals, 2-2

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 19:52

Golden State breezed to an 103-82 road win thanks to efficient scoring from Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala, who made his first start of the season Thursday night.

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Some Answers To Your Questions About California Water Use

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 15:58

Conserving water in California, as the state endures its fourth year of drought, is mandatory. But just who has to save how much can vary.

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How Little Red Dots Could Help Women And Babies Stay Healthy

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 15:19

A nonprofit in India is using bindis to give women an extra boost of iodine — a micronutrient that's especially critical during pregnancy.

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IRS Announces Effort To Fight Fraudulent Tax Returns

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 15:07

The agency will work with tax prep companies to fight identity theft. Measures include reviewing data that identify the computer and the IP address from which a return is filed.

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Dreams From My Mother: Clinton To Look To Mom In Campaign Kickoff

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 15:03

The Democrat will also trace her own personal history as she tries to appeal to the Obama coalition of voters in her campaign launch on Saturday.

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Migrating whales, migrating tourists

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-11 14:29

Every year, whales migrate all over the world, up and down both North American coasts. They travel from Southern Asia and Australia to Antarctica, from Japan and Russia to Alaska and all across Northern Europe. With them, they bring tourists — whale watchers who spend money seasonally to catch a glimpse of a whale. 

Ecotourism is a multibillion-dollar-per-year industry with whale watching contributing about half a billion dollars annually, according to University of British Columbia bioeconomist Rashid Sumaila. 

As whales migrate from cold to warm waters, breeding and feeding hotspots around the world have booms and busts in the whale watching business. Washington state, California and Mexico are among the most well-known places to see humpbacks and other whales, and they have thriving whale watching industries. But other places, like Quebec and Ireland, are investing in their own growing ecotourism markets.

Quebec recently spent about $300,000 as part of a $600,000 advertising campaign to attract whale watchers. Last year, 300,000 people visited Quebec to whale watch, up 100 percent from the year before. And whale watching tourism globally is growing too, possibly because of the appeal of seeing an endangered animal in the wild. 

Sumaila says that the whale watching business depends upon protecting whales and oceans. The already unpredictable industry is taking a hit because of changing migration patterns — a result of warming oceans and acidic waters. As the whales adapt to their changing environment, "there will be losers and there will be winners" in business, Sumaila says. 

He hopes the growing ecotourism industry will begin to give back to conservation and preservation efforts around the world. Without the whales, there is no business. 

U.S. Export-Import Bank Targeted By Conservatives

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 14:27

The agency that helps finance U.S. companies overseas has long been a favorite of big business. But now some members of Congress, who see it as a symbol of corporate welfare, want to see it expire.

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Union: All Data Of All Federal Employees Hacked

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 14:18

The union says the government's response to the data breach of some 4 million current and former federal workers is inadequate.

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With 2-1 Finals Lead, What's LeBron James' Secret Motivation?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 14:15

James is averaging more than 40 points a game, and with him leading the way, his team isn't looking like the underdog these days. But observers wonder what's fueling his on-court rampage.

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Parties Say They Trust Hastert Judge's Impartiality

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 13:54

Judge Dennis Durkin had donated money to Hastert's reelection campaigns and worked with people involved in the case. He offered to let another judge take over but both sides want him to stay.

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Charges Recommended For Cleveland Officers Who Fatally Shot 12-Year-Old

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 13:36

Tamir Rice was carrying a replica gun outside a recreation center in the city in November when he was killed by two police officers.

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