National News

Federal Judges Reverse Gay-Marriage Bans In Utah, Indiana

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 09:58

In Indiana, a judge said that same-sex couples are "in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such."

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How to get parents to pay $169 for a toy robot

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 09:38

When you’re covering educational technology, you see a lot of gee-whiz tech gear and toys that claim to make kids smarter. Lots of those toys make similar sounds. And we wanted to find out why.

So we went in search of the real meaning in the sounds of ed tech.

Lots of those toys are also pretty pricey. And it turns out getting parents to fork over for themalso  has something to do with sound, too.

Think of it as the sound of the sell.

Because this story is a story about, yes, sound, we encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to it.

Along the way we meet a robot named Bo, whose sounds were developed by folks who’d worked at Pixar, the movie studio behind Cars and Toy Story. Bo is an educational toy, meant to teach young kids to code. 

We meet Vikas Gupta, who heads Play-i, the company that makes Bo. He tells how sounds can establish an emotional connections between a child and the robot.

We meet director and composer Steven Wilson, who wrote the music for Play-i’s promotional video. He tells us about all the tricks composers use when writing music meant to make us feel a certain way. To put us in a buying mood, as it were.

And, we meet Bruce Walker, a professor in the School of Psychology and School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. He talks us through the future sounds of our technology and how sounds help create emotional connections that can encourage us to buy.

What do you think?  How do sounds influence your emotions?  We’ve got a cool audio quiz here.

In Emotional Scene, Teen Survivors Of South Korea Ferry Return To School

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 09:38

Only 75 of the 323 students aboard the ferry Sewol survived after the ship sank in April. Some bowed their heads and wept as they walked into Danwon High School in Ansan, South Korea.

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U.S. Moves Toward Easing A Ban On Exporting Its Oil

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 09:25

The new rulings are being reported amid a backdrop of rising gas prices in the U.S., a situation blamed on new violence and uncertainty in Iraq.

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Diane Sawyer's 'World News' Departure Sets Off Big Changes At ABC News

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 09:16

As the veteran anchor steps away from ABC's flagship evening newscast, the network gives key duties to George Stephanopoulos — making the man who co-anchors its morning broadcast the face of ABC News.

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Supreme Court Rules On Aereo, Cellphone Searches

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 08:47

The court ruled against the technology company Aereo's practice of streaming broadcast TV. It also decided a case involving police searches of individuals' cellphones.

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High Court Says Police Need A Warrant For Most Cellphone Searches

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 08:22

The Supreme Court's 9-0 decision is seen as a strong defense of privacy in the digital age. But the justices did rule that warrantless searches could be allowed in some exigent circumstances.

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Kandinsky On A Plate: Art-Inspired Salad Just Tastes Better

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 07:48

Would a salad arranged like an abstract painting be more enjoyable and valuable to diners than a typical salad presentation? Psychologists tried to find that out.

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Why America May Be Ready For Some Futbol

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 07:11

The aspects of soccer that once annoyed many people now seem part of everyday life.

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Heart Of The Matter: Treating The Disease Instead Of The Person

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 07:05

When a man winds up in the hospital after a heart attack, he feels the doctors and nurses treated him poorly. But they have a completely different view. They see his case as a resounding success.

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Spanish Princess Is Indicted In Corruption Case

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 06:50

The court decision is one of the last steps before a possible trial for Princess Cristina and her husband. They have denied wrongdoing and said they would appeal the latest ruling.

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Aereo's TV Streaming Service Is Illegal, Supreme Court Says

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 06:28

The court's 6-3 decision reverses a lower court ruling on what has been a hotly contested issue. Aereo lets subscribers watch TV programming that it routes onto the Internet.

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How Connecticut's Change In Autism Coverage Could Make Waves

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 05:56

The state has defined autism behavioral therapy as a type of medical benefit not subject to the mental health parity law, a move that allows insurers more latitude in limiting benefits.

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Can minor chords make you cry?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 05:47

On today's show I went in search of the sound of educational technology.

Turns out it is an upbeat sound, bright, often evocotive of childhood.  It is sound meant to make us happy.  Sound that moves us forward. That encourages us to connect to our devices and take action. Sound that inspires us.

Sound has the power to evoke all sorts of emotion.

Check out this very cool "Emotions of Sound" site.  And see how your emotional responses compare to those of other folks.

Supreme Court pulls Aereo's plug

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 05:42

The following story was updated after the Supreme Court ruled against Aereo in a 6-3 vote.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Aereo violates federal copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programs without paying a fee, in a case that was watched closely by everyone from ABC to Google to the NFL.

The case involved internet start-up Aereo, which streams broadcast television – CBS, NBC, Fox, and the like – to consumers on their phones, tablets, and computers, but doesn’t pay those providers retransmission fees. Instead, the company charges a subscription of up to $12 a month for which subscribers receive a tiny antenna to stream and record broadcast TV.

If Aereo had won, cable providers might have argued they don't have to pay networks for the rights to show their programming. That means the networks would have lost billions, forcing them to live off advertising revenue exclusively.

Before the ruling, Harvard Professor Susan Crawford said a loss by Aereo could raise numerous copyright questions about services somewhat similar to Aereo; services that store movies and music in the cloud, for example.

She says ultimately Congress may have to get involved, meaning a long fight in Washington with a “mosh pit of special interests” battling it out.

Suarez Bite Controversy Pays Off For Gamblers

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 05:39

A European betting service is paying gamblers who bet that Uruguay's Luis Suarez would use his teeth in anger in Brazil's World Cup.

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Iraq: Militants Kill Senior Army Leader; Maliki Resists Changes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 04:25

In the face of gains by extremist Sunni militants, Iraq's Shiite leader rejects calls for a unity government. The ISIS force has reportedly been attacked by Syrian warplanes in Iraq.

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Actor Eli Wallach, Who Brought Hint Of Humanity To Villainous Roles, Dies

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 03:44

For decades, Eli Wallach won fans by bringing humanity and humor to roles that pitted him as a villain against titans such as Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. Wallach was 98.

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Two Glorious Science Experiments: One About Sex, The Other About Lunch

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-25 03:03

In the 1760s, an Italian scientist ran a sex experiment that required putting teeny trousers on some ardent male frogs. Hot guys in pants, it turns out, aren't so hot.

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Climate change could be good for those who sell seeds

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-25 03:00

Agriculture was one focus of a new report called "Risky Business" that looks at the economic impacts of global warming, and its findings could be good for companies like Monsanto, which sells seeds to farmers around the world.

Global warming will produce winners and losers in farming: If Iowa gets too hot to produce corn, North Dakota will warm up enough to grow it. A company like Monsanto could be a winner.

"If they can solve the problem of developing crops that are resistant to these types of extreme temperatures, they’re going to make a lot of money," says Solomon Hsiang, a Berkeley economist who co-wrote the “Risky Business” report.

Monsanto already benefits from warmer weather. Lewis Ziska from the U.S. Department of Agriculture looked at trends in pesticide use from north to south. The south’s warmer, shorter winters don’t kill off as many weeds and bugs.

"Farmers are, of course, not stupid," Ziska says. "They simply have to use more pesticides to get the same yields."

Monsanto makes a lot of those weed-killers and bug-killers. 

"As the climate of Missouri or Iowa becomes more like the climate of Louisiana, then that’s going to be reflected in terms of the chemical usage," says Ziska.

But pesticides, like antibiotics, tend to become less effective over time, especially when over-used. Monsanto would have to earn its money by creating newer, more-effective chemicals.

 
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