National News

How To Make An Unboring Documentary About Polio

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-26 03:03

Filmmaker Tom Roberts was definitely not interested when he was first asked to make a movie about the disease. Then he began to do some research. "Every Last Child" is the result.

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Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn't So Nice

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-26 02:33

Nutmeg is a feel-good holiday spice. But it once caused serious bloodshed and may have even been a reason the Dutch were willing to part with Manhattan in the 1600s.

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Coke to make cuts amid sales slump

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-26 02:04

The Wall Street Journal reports that Coca Cola has plans to lay off as many as 2,000 employees in the next few weeks. Coke announced in October that it is seeking to cut costs amid falling profits. The company is slashing budgets: asking executives to take taxis instead of limousines, and reportedly canceling a Christmas party for Wall Street analysts.

The belt-tightening comes as America's love affair with soda pop has chilled in recent years. U.S. consumers are increasingly turning to healthier, cheaper beverages to quench their thirst, including water. Coke owns the water brand, Dasani, and recently started selling milk, in an attempt to keep pace with changing tastes. 

Airlines use illusion to make coach seem more spacious

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-26 02:03

Like most of us, you have probably flown coach recently. Did it seem spacious to you? Probably not. Airlines are hoping to change that—not with bigger seats, but by creating the impression of more room with larger video screens and new headrests.

Joe Brancatelli runs JoeSentMe, a website for business travelers. He says the illusion is just that: an illusion. Coach seats have gotten smaller he says and they continue to get smaller.

The whole shrinking airplane seat situation makes Joe Brancatelli thinks of a Marx Brothers' joke. It's the one where Groucho calls up room service and asks them to send up more room. Instead, they send up more people to his tiny space.

Brancatelli says airplane perks like larger video screens are distractions from slimmer seats which are now seven inches less than an average desk chair. Meanwhile, he says first class keeps getting nicer.

The difference in comfort between first class and coach is growing Brancatelli says. “It really is a yawning gap culturally,” he says, “and people are beginning to seize on this and say it's like what is going on in society.”

Chris Lopinto has noticed the increasing difference between the two airplane classes. Lopinto is co-founder of He points to how American Airlines is concentrating more on first class as it upgrades its fleet. Lopinto says, “That's the way it is because that's where a lot of the revenue comes from.”

Lopinto says in American Airlines' new planes, economy fliers will get some upgrades like more personal video screens, power outlets, and pay-as-you-go wifi.

 As for the seats, he says if anything they are going to get a tad smaller.

Blackberry plans self-destructing phone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-26 02:03

The Canadian smartphone company Blackberry has partnered with Boeing to make a phone that can self-destruct if it gets into the wrong hands.

The phone is designed for people in the defense and security industries. Blackberry is hoping this emphasis on security will tap into a growth market and turn the company around. Aptly named the “Boeing Black,” any attempt to crack it open triggers a Mission Impossible-style deletion of data and renders the phone inoperable.

Apple and Samsung may rule the consumer-side of smartphones for some time, “…but on the business-side and the government-side, Blackberry is gold,” notes Jeff Kagan, a tech industry analyst based in Atlanta. He says smartphone security is growth industry, and it won’t be just the Boeings of the world, who want these added protections. 

Sony Hack Highlights The Global Underground Market For Malware

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 23:36

The software used in the Sony data breach is available on the underground market. This makes it easier for criminals to execute an attack but harder to identify the perpetrators.

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The Grocery Delivery Man Who Brings Joy To A Housing Complex

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 23:35

A San Francisco man talks about why he volunteers to deliver groceries to his elderly and disabled neighbors.

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Getting High Safely: Aspen Launches Marijuana Education Campaign

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 23:33

Authorities in the Colorado city have dispersed information brochures on the do's and don'ts of marijuana use. It lists facts such as where pot is legal and how long the high takes to set in.

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A Split View On Obamacare's Past And Future

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 23:33

The Affordable Care Act created insurance subsidies that are under legal challenge. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in 2015 and could rule against a key provision of the law.

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As Uber Expands, It Asks Cities For Forgivness Instead Of Permission

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 23:31

In 2014, Uber became one of the most valuable privately held companies on earth. It expanded to more than 200 cities, but criticism and legal battles have ballooned in parallel with its revenues.

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Europe's Far Right And Putin Get Cozy, With Benefits For Both

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 23:31

Despite tensions between Russia and the West, Moscow is forging links with far-right, anti-EU parties in Europe. They're attracted to the traditional social values of Vladimir Putin's Russia's.

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A Decade After Tsunami, Asia's Shattered Coasts Are On The Mend

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 19:30

On Dec. 26, 2004, a massive earthquake in the ocean east of the Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered waves that killed 230,000 people in 11 countries.

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'The Interview', Greeted By Sold-Out Shows, May Net Millions This Weekend

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 19:24

The North-Korea-infuriating comedy received a limited release on Christmas, mostly in independent theaters, after hacker-threatened Sony Pictures first pulled the film then made it available.

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Somalia's Al-Shabab Attacks African Peacekeepers

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 13:43

Eight gunmen fired on the African Union's main based in Somalia, killing three soldiers and a civilian contractor.

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In need of a white Christmas? Head to Hawaii

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:58

The White Christmas that Irving Berlin dreamt about was uncommon this year around the country...

But one place that did get a little snow? Hawaii.

Two mountains on the Big Island had a rare blizzard. The snow is only expected to last a day or two, but if you're desperate to see the white stuff, you could fly today ... from Los Angeles, California, for about $700.


How 'The Interview' May Change How Big Studios Do Business

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

Sony's release of The Interview via streaming Internet services and in theaters at the same time is unprecedented for a major studio film and raises questions about the economics of future releases.

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Blind Syrian Refugee Writer Seeks To Make New Home In Sweden

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

An aspiring writer who has fled the civil war is now adjusting to life in Sweden. She longs for home, but for now receives the assistance she needs — housing, language courses, transportation.

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Economy Weathers A Bad Winter And Other Storms To Finish 2014 Strong

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

Early in 2014, the economy was floored by the polar vortex — plus, businesses and consumers were dazed by a government shutdown and debt limit fight. But it rebounded, and analysts are optimistic.

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In Britain, A Christmas Tradition Of Slapstick And Silliness

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-25 12:16

For centuries, British families have celebrated the Christmas season by attending "pantomimes," silly musical comedies of stories such as Aladdin and Cinderella. The tradition is alive and well today.

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