National News

She's Almost Real: The New Humanoid On Customer Service Duty In Tokyo

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 12:52

In Tokyo, a stylish new department store receptionist isn't a human at all. It's a lifelike silicone robot with movements so real, it's fooling some customers.

» E-Mail This

Six things to do with your new free time on Facebook

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 12:43

Facebook's new Instant Articles feature allows news organizations like Buzzfeed and the New York Times publish articles directly to the site. The pitch is that they'll load faster, so users won't waste precious seconds waiting for content to load. Here's a few things you can do with that free time.

This video was produced by Preditorial.

Elon Musk's evolution, from sci-fi dreams to Space X

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 12:33

Elon Musk runs a couple of high-tech companies, but they do more than code.

They make things like space rockets and electric cars. Elon Musk is the CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, and now he’s the subject of a new biography by Bloomberg Business reporter Ashlee Vance. It’s called "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future."

Vance's book is getting some buzz this week. We talked with him about, arguably, one of the most important entrepreneurs of our time.

On Elon Musk’s upbringing:

He was born in South Africa, and ... as you might kind of expect, he was really into sci-fi and video games. He was a bit of a loner at school. He was very bright. Growing up, his father was pretty hard on him. It’s one of these things in the book where Elon and his family members talk about it, but they never say what was so difficult about his dad…but you know that it left this big impression on Elon’s life.

About Musk’s evolution in Silicon Valley:

He had to learn a lot during that period. At Zip2, he was the CEO of the company and he was not a great CEO. He worked really hard, and people were impressed with that. He outworked everybody and he had this hustle. He was smart but he wasn't great at managing people. Then he gets to PayPal and it sort of repeats, although he’s getting a little bit better as time goes on. And he’s finding ways to sort of marshal people and learn to encourage them, and then he realizes you get more out of people if you do that. You see him evolve.

On Tesla’s charging stations and innovation:

I was one of many people who thought that was crazy and it would never happen, and today there are hundreds of these charging stations, not only in the United States but in Europe and Asia. So you have a guy who built the electric car and then built the fuel infrastructure to pull it off. When he starts doing things like that, you start giving him the benefit of the doubt.

On Space X:

I think Space X has changed the space industry. All of its competitors are reacting to it. There’s still huge gambles and risks but the companies are very healthy right now.

New England Patriots Clarify: 'Deflator' Refers To Weight Loss

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:59

The Patriots say staff members used the term "deflate" to talk about losing weight — not about breaking the NFL's rules on football inflation, as the league says.

» E-Mail This

Your Wallet: Can you buy exclusivity?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:55

On next week's show, we're talking about exclusivity. 

What does it mean for you, in your finances? We want to hear your stories of exclusivity...tell us about the time you paid a premium for a special service (or didn't!) or signed up for a high-rewards membership credit card. We want your stories of being excluded and included when it comes to finance. 

Write to us here, visit the Marketplace Facebook page, or tweet us, we're @MarketplaceWKND

Fast-Track Trade Measure Clears Key Senate Hurdle

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:32

The 65-33 vote comes two days after senators rejected a measure to take up the bill giving President Obama fast-track trade authority.

» E-Mail This

Nurse Visits Help First-Time Moms, Cut Government Costs In Long Run

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:23

The Affordable Care Act has made available more assistance to new mothers so they can raise healthier kids. But critics say the standards for those programs are too lenient.

» E-Mail This

Historian Says Don't 'Sanitize' How Our Government Created The Ghettos

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:16

Historian Richard Rothstein studies residential segregation in America. His conclusion: "federal, state and local governments purposely created racial boundaries in these cities."

» E-Mail This

Face-to-face transactions at the farmer's market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:01

Transactions are getting quicker, easier, more digital, less personal. At convenience stores and even grocery stores you can check yourself out. In a growing number of stores, you can pay with your phone

Sometimes, simple transactions come at a cost.

But one marketplace remains mostly unchanged by technology and mostly un-marred by fees: the farmer's market. There, you can still find tables piled high with fresh fruits and veggies, see the same familiar faces selling flowers or handmade soaps, try hummus and dips made the day before, and interact with the farmers who grew your food. 

Even though an increasing number of market's accept food stamps, prices are higher than what you'd find at a typical grocery store. Still, there are deals to be had — sometimes if you're willing to haggle a little bit, other times if you're willing to buy in bulk. 

At the farmer's market in Los Angeles, we brought $20 and left with pounds of strawberries -- enough for two pies -- seven avocados, a half-dozen eggs, two nectarines and two donut peaches, the first stone fruit of the season. 

A few tips for how to make the most of your money at the farmer's market:

  • Buy in bulk: if you have a vendor you like, buy a few things from them, they're more likely to throw in something extra or knock a dollar off the price
  • Don't pick out your own fruit: ask the farmer what's ripe, and if they have time, have them pick out what you're looking for. You'll end up with the best tasting fruit, and if you ask for "$4 worth of ____" instead of picking it out yourself and having them weigh it later, you'll stay on budget. 
  • Buy in season. Produce is cheapest when it's in season, no matter where you're buying. 
  • Try things! Take advantage of free samples and deals on new products or seasonal specials. 

What NATO Diplomats Do On Their Downtime: Sing 'We Are The World'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 11:00

NATO foreign ministers in Antalya, Turkey, were persuaded at the end of their meeting this week to join in a rendition of the '80s-era pop anthem. At last check, they were all keeping their day jobs.

» E-Mail This

Greece Says It Won't Take U.K. To Court For Return Of Elgin Marbles

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 10:41

Athens says taking the matter to the International Criminal Court would take too long and the outcome would be uncertain. Instead he says Greece will use diplomatic channels for their return.

» E-Mail This

Kay Cannon on writing the hit 'Pitch Perfect'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 10:35

When "Pitch Perfect," the film about a female college a cappella group came out in 2012, it was considered a surprise hit at the box office. When its writer, Kay Cannon, heard that the studio wanted to do a sequel, she says she was not only terrified, but,  "I thought I was going to barf.”

Cannon has a background in improve. She performed at Second City in Chicago, and later in Las Vegas. She credits Tina Fey for launching her career as a writer.

“I started writing because I wasn’t getting things as an actor," she says. "I wasn’t like pretty enough to be the ingénue, I wasn’t 'character' enough to be the goofball sidekick, I’m kind of ethnically ambiguous.”

She says she decided, “I’ve got to literally write my own ticket.”

And that’s where Fey comes in. Fey read some of Cannon’s work and asked her to be a writer on "30 Rock." It came with a caveat though. Fey asked Cannon if they’d still be friends if Fey had to fire the unexperienced writer. Cannon replied, “I look forward to the day you fire me.”

Since then, Cannon’s added credits for "New Girl" and "Cristela" to her resume. "Pitch Perfect" was her first feature film.

“In a practical sense, it was absolutely easier to write the second one than the first one. On a personal level, I lost my father and had a baby,” Cannon says.

The first film took her four years to write but with the sequel, she was on deadline.

“I was just happy the first one got made," she says. "And then to see the reactions of everybody, it does feel like there’s an anticipation for this movie. It’s very exciting.”

Kay Cannon on writing the hit Pitch Perfect

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 10:35

When "Pitch Perfect," the film about a female college a cappella group came out in 2012, it was considered a surprise hit at the box office. When its writer, Kay Cannon, heard that the studio wanted to do a sequel, she says she was not only terrified, but,  "I thought I was going to barf.”

Cannon has a background in improve. She performed at Second City in Chicago, and later in Las Vegas. She credits Tina Fey for launching her career as a writer.

“I started writing because I wasn’t getting things as an actor," she says. "I wasn’t like pretty enough to be the ingénue, I wasn’t 'character' enough to be the goofball sidekick, I’m kind of ethnically ambiguous.”

She says she decided, “I’ve got to literally write my own ticket.”

And that’s where Fey comes in. Fey read some of Cannon’s work and asked her to be a writer on "30 Rock." It came with a caveat though. Fey asked Cannon if they’d still be friends if Fey had to fire the unexperienced writer. Cannon replied, “I look forward to the day you fire me.”

Since then, Cannon’s added credits for "New Girl" and "Cristela" to her resume. "Pitch Perfect" was her first feature film.

“In a practical sense, it was absolutely easier to write the second one than the first one. On a personal level, I lost my father and had a baby,” Cannon says.

The first film took her four years to write but with the sequel, she was on deadline.

“I was just happy the first one got made," she says. "And then to see the reactions of everybody, it does feel like there’s an anticipation for this movie. It’s very exciting.”

VIDEO: Migrants Adrift In Andaman Sea After Thailand Turns Them Away

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 10:33

Malaysia and Indonesia have also turned away the Rohingya who have fled persecution in Myanmar. The migrants also include Bangladeshis who are escaping poverty in their country.

» E-Mail This

Lawmakers Spar Over Whether Amtrak Funding Cut Matters

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 10:27

"It's not about funding. The train was going twice the speed limit," said House Speaker John Boehner. Democrats advocated for an amendment that would fund advanced technology.

» E-Mail This

Why A Philadelphia Grocery Chain Is Thriving In Food Deserts

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 10:04

Brown's Super Stores operates seven profitable supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia. The founder says it's because he figured out what communities needed in a neighborhood store.

» E-Mail This

Jeb Bush Fully Walks Back On Iraq: 'I Would Not Have Gone Into Iraq'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 09:51

After days of shifting positions on whether he would have gone to war in Iraq, even knowing what we know now, Jeb Bush did an about-face, saying definitively that he would not have gone in.

» E-Mail This

Tech IRL: Mobile transactions and Apple Pay

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-14 09:18

Weeks after the release of the Apple Watch and months after the introduction of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Pay, more store and banks are signing on to offer mobile payments though Apple's service. 

Mastercard, Visa and American Express already support Apple Pay, and Discover will soon join the club. And the list of banks and retailers who accept Apple's mobile payments is growing: You can use Apple Pay at McDonald's or Whole Foods, in Coca-Cola vending machines and at the JetBlue terminal in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles airports. 

Apple Pay has been touted as being more secure and more convenient than swiping a credit card, but has faced some questions about security when the onus is on banks to verify accounts. It's also had issues with acceptance in stores that are pushing their own mobile retail services, like CVS, Walmart, and until recently, Best Buy. 

As more U.S. businesses make the move toward mobile payments and Apple Pay, the service is looking for even more reach: integration into Las Vegas businesses and a move to China. 

To hear more about Apple Pay and where it's headed, tune in using the player above. 

The Curious World Of Baseball Re-Enactors

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 09:03

When John Coray and other vintage "ballists" gather to compete using 19th century rules and trappings, the base ball diamond becomes a field of dreamers.

» E-Mail This

A Fungus Causes More Unexpected Illnesses In Montana

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-14 08:50

The infectious disease world is not short on surprises. Take the people in Montana and Idaho who looked like they had pneumonia. It turned out they had a fungal disease never before seen there.

» E-Mail This

Pages