National News

Dreams Of Hope And Happiness In Turbulent Yemen

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 10:06

Yemen is in chaos. But behind the headlines of war and poverty are generous and gentle people. Photographer Stephanie Sinclair recalls her most recent visit and shares some of her photos.

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What's My Chance Of Having A Baby? A Better Predictor Of IVF Success

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 10:02

Achieving pregnancy with in vitro fertilization depends largely on your age. But other factors contribute, too. A study compares two online tools aimed at giving couples a realistic sense of the odds.

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'Definite Evidence' Of Alien Life Within 20-30 Years, NASA Chief Scientist Says

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 09:41

Ellen Stofan's colleagues on a panel agreed with that assessment. But Stofan was quick to point out: "We are not talking about little green men. We are talking about little microbes."

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Jury Finds Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Guilty In Bombing Of Boston Marathon

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 09:31

The twin bombings, carried out with his older brother, Tamerlan, killed three people and left 264 others wounded.

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NFL Makes It Official: Sarah Thomas Is First Woman To Be A Full-Time Ref

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 09:04

Confirming a long-anticipated move, the NFL has hired its first female official on a full-time basis. Sarah Thomas, 42, has spent nearly a decade working her way through the ranks in the NCAA.

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The 'Netflix Of Books' Hopes To Open Up The E-Book Market

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 08:48

Oyster, the subscription e-book service, says it is opening up a retail component and has the Big Five publishers on board. The move sets up Oyster to challenge Amazon.

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4 Things We Learned About What Bill Clinton's Up To

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 08:45

Despite controversies with the Clinton Foundation, Bill Clinton is aiming to keep it going even if his wife, Hillary, becomes president.

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Think Tuition Is Rising Fast? Try Room And Board

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 08:26

Universities are raising food and housing prices faster than inflation.

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Royal Dutch Shell's $70 Billion Deal For BG Would Create Gas Giant

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 07:57

The deal would put Shell on track to become put Shell on track to surpass ExxonMobil as the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company. It comes as global oil prices have dropped sharply.

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Spam: In Korea, It's Not Junk Meat — It's A Treat

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 07:56

It's a gelatinous slab of pork, salt and starch – and in fancy packaging, it's a popular holiday-time gift. So how did South Korea become the world's No. 2 Spam consumer? Blame it on the war.

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'My Heart Was Broken,' Says Father Of S.C. Man Slain By Police

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 07:38

Police officer Michael Slager now faces a murder charge in the death of Walter Scott, who was unarmed and running away from Slager when he was shot multiple times.

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John Hancock Hopes You'll Trade Activity Data For Insurance Discounts

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 07:33

Life insurance customers will receive discounts each year based on their activity levels. The practice is used in Australia, Europe, Singapore and South Africa. But privacy experts are concerned.

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U.S. Servicemember Killed In Shooting In Afghan City Of Jalalabad

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 05:41

Two other American troops were wounded when a man in an Afghan army uniform opened fire in the city of Jalalabad, a Pentagon official said. The shooter was shot and killed.

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Easter Heist: London Thieves May Have Taken $300 Million In Gems

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 04:29

The daring crime targeted Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company, used by many firms in London's jewelry quarter to store their wares.

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Ferguson Voters Elect 2 Black Members To City Council

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 03:03

In a first, the six-member city council in Ferguson, Mo., is now half white and half black. Voter turnout was reported at 30 percent in the majority-black community.

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Watching the Apple Watch

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-08 03:00

Appointments for interested consumers to check out the Apple Watch start on Friday in Apple Stores. But a select few have already been wearing them. Musician Pharrel was apparently wearing one the other night while serving as a judge on NBC's singing show The Voice.

Editor-in-Chief of the website The Verge Nilay Patel has written a big feature about wearing the Apple Watch throughout the day.

Click on the multimedia player above to hear our conversation about whether you should invest in an Apple Watch. 

PODCAST: Death and taxes and more

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-08 03:00

Shell is buying a company once called British Gas for just under $70 billion. BG Group is a major supplier of liquified gas to North America, but it also increases Royal Dutch Shell's crude oil portfolio by nearly 20 percent. More on that. Let's turn to Chicago where we find  Lindsey Piegza, Chief Economist, Managing Director at Sterne Agee, to check some dominant themes in markets and the economy this morning. Plus, we read a little e-book called "As Certain as Death: Quotations About Taxes" days before the big filing day. 

Uber picks up more corporate business

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-08 02:00

An increasing number of workers are turning to Uber to get around. The ride-sharing company handled 47 percent of car rides expensed through the processing company Certify last month, up from 15 percent in March 2014. Rohit Verma, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration says since they’re not spending their own money, business customers are generally more focused on convenience than price.

In many cities in the US, using Uber  can be more convenient than hailing a taxi on the street. It's certainly more convenient payment and tip-wise. And finally, to use a buzzword loved by Silicon Valley, Uber can provide a seamless experience both for the user and the company: if a firm signs up for Uber Business, the worker doesn't even have to file an expense report. 

Click on the media player above to hear more. 

 

Matt Walsh on politics, comedy and Veep

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-08 02:00

Comedian and actor Matt Walsh was at SXSW Interactive in March to talk about VEEP, the HBO comedy series in which he stars.

Walsh is also co-founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade, an improv comedy troupe and director of A High Road, an independent feature film. He is currently working on his second film, A Better You, which he reportedly shot digitally in 10 days.

We caught up with him to talk about politics, comedy and how Veep portrays Washington DC.

How has the internet made your job as a comedian easier? Or harder?

Easier or harder. Well, I was recently talking with a screenwriter friend of mine. One of the interesting things about technology is things like Google and texting have really challenged plot devices. Like if you can imagine a film noir movie where people could just text each other? You would never tail someone, you would never meet them in an alley.

I had to get to a phone...

Yeah, exactly. You don’t run out after the press conference and get into a phone. And then in terms of being like an actor, I guess it makes you …. you kind of have to be engaged, I think, with your audience. I do twitter. I like twitter because it's mostly one way. You don't feel the burden of, oh, I have to get back.

What about twitter as a form of comedy? Does it have any similarities with improv?

It does in that some days I’ll just try to tweet something. For example, I’ll just start writing and not thinking about it and then I’ll go back and edit it. So you're sort of improvising your thought. Some people who are great at twitter, they have like 10 jokes banked in their drafts. I  never do that. Like I see, "Oh that’s a cool picture, and I’ll get rid of it and I am like, I did my homework today ... I am done with my twitter homework."

You have three young kids.

We have three young kids.

What’s funny to you about how they interact with technology?

Well, my son who is seven-and-half, Jude, because I work in Baltimore, he likes to text me on the iPad now, and because of that predictive texting, like if you start the world ‘he’ it'll sometimes say ‘hershey’ or ‘helium’ and then you can just guess. So it’s like, "Hi dad, how are you elephant balloon times square is the house ready boyfriend guerrilla."

Do you know what I mean? But it’s like two or three paragraphs. I think he thinks it makes  him sound smart. So he’s using all these big words and it’s like, "Holy cow! You wrote me five paragraphs." And then I read it and it’s sort of ridiculous.

I heard someone describe Veep as way more realistic than House of Cards when it comes to politics in Washington.

Yeah.

Which seemed like a great compliment and also moderately concerning.  

Yeah. People laugh and say, "Boy, your show is exactly like DC!" And I'm like, "That shouldn't be funny! That’s a really important business you guys should be doing." But again I think that is what comedy does. It reminds you of ... I always say politics is trying to push ideals and yet the reality is it’s like flawed people. You know, [they] get this bill, they are eating barbecued chicken or they are from downstate Illinois, and they are sitting on the senate oversight committee that wants to talk about the navigation on a drone and should we fund it for 2 more billion or not and they are like…

They’re like, "There's barbecue on that page…"

Yeah. They are just normal, flawed human beings. I mean basically we should have a dictator and we’d be all better off.

You heard it here first.

 

Taking the hydro out of hydropower

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-08 02:00

California is facing its worst drought in a thousand years, according the state’s energy commission. The Snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas, which Northern California counts on to replenish reservoirs, is 94% below average.  So what happens when there's less water for hydropower?  

Normally, hydropower fuels 15%, on average, of California’s energy needs, primarily in the northern half of the state.  (The state's Energy commission puts the figure at between 14% and 19%) So with less hydro? “It almost cuts it in half,” says Heather Cooley, director of the Water Program at the non-profit Pacific Institute.  She estimates hydropower's contribution dropped to around 8%. 

 This has meant that over the past few years, California has had to turn to dirtier energy sources to make up for the loss.

 “Generating this electricity from other sources increased greenhouse emissions by up to 8 %,” says Cooley.

Hydropower is cheap, so replacing it has also cost the state.  Cooley estimates Californians have paid $1.4 billion extra for their power over the last three years.  Robert Weisenmiller, chair of California’s Energy Commission, says these effects will persist into next year, costing Californians another $300 million. 

“We will have somewhat dirtier air, somewhat higher prices of power, but the lights will stay on,” he says. Blackouts are not in the cards. 

For farmers in the central valley, Weisenmiller says “it’s a double whammy – higher energy prices and...less farming.”  Some farmers will have to spend more on energy to pump groundwater. 

California’s aggressive move towards renewables has, however, cushioned the blow.  “Solar and wind has more or less doubled, two and half times between 2012 and 2014,” says Weisenmiller. Without that, he says, emissions would be worse. 

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