National News

Everybody's a television producer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 02:00

Move over, Amazon Prime and Netflix. BitTorrent is getting into the original content business. 

The company, known for its peer-to-peer file sharing platform, is teaming up with Rapid Eye Studios to create what they’re calling BitTorrent Originals. The first will be a sci-fi video series aimed at the coveted 14- to 25-year old-set, launching later this year.

“There’s really been an explosion of investment in originals, and a lot of this is borne out by what appears to be an insatiable appetite from consumers,” says S&P Capital IQ analyst Tuna Amobi.

BitTorrent has made efforts to shed its image as an enabler of illegal downloads by making deals to sell content from the likes of Radiohead and director David Cross. Still, in attracting advertisers for its new original shows, Rapid Eye Studio head Marco Weber says “the young and rebellious image of the brand” is a selling point.

Chocolate is more expensive. Everything is terrible.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 01:30
100 lots

That's how many lots the city of Newark, New Jersey is selling for $1,000 a piece to couples of any sexual orientation as part of a special Valentine's day sale. As reported by NJ.com, the loving land owners must agree to build a home and live on their new plottage. 

54 percent

While only 20 percent of Fifty Shades of Grey readers were male, 54 percent of buyers of a Shades themed Teddy Bear are men. Some say merchandising from the film subjects that were once taboo into marketable commodities. And pre-ticket sales are doing well, also. See our grey-shaded chart below:

20 percent

Speaking of Fifty Shades of Grey, back when details of the film were being disrobed, some were titillated by reports that a fifth of the film would be sex scenes. That may be unusual for the film industry, but as Quartz points out, its kind of old news for television.

$700 million

That's how much Americans are likely to spend on Valentine's day ... for Fido. We really do love our pets. Check out more not-so-sunny Valentine's day facts over at Time, including the quantifiable amount that love dies over time.

$2,921.05

That's last month's price-per-ton for cocoa. As reported by the NY Times, that's higher than last year, partly due to greater global demand for dark chocolate, especially in Asia. So be prepared to spend more on sweets for your sweet.

Silicon Tally: Fly the friendly (and cheap) skies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-02-13 01:30

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

This week, we're joined by Brian Kelly, otherwise known as "The Points Guy." Kelly prides himself on being "able to book exciting and extravagant trips for next to nothing through his hard-earned loyalty points and airline miles, flying first class."

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Fraud Case Casts Spotlight On Medicare Advantage Plans

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 01:03

An indictment in Florida is likely to draw heightened scrutiny to potential billing fraud in privately run Medicare plans. It also raises questions about the effectiveness of government oversight.

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The Black Market For Stolen Health Care Data

NPR News - Fri, 2015-02-13 00:55

The U.S. is moving to digitize health care with electronic medical records, web portals and mobile apps. But as medical data goes online, it is becoming a hot commodity for hackers.

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Outmanned And Outgunned, Fighters Defend Yazidi Shrine Against ISIS

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:43

Led by a celebrated Yazidi fighter, a small band of Kurdish peshmerga survived a months-long ISIS onslaught. Unlike others in Syria and Iraq, this sacred place still stands, nearly unscathed.

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A Community Takes On Racial Tensions Once Hidden Under The Surface

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:33

People move to Austin's Mueller neighborhood to become part of a progressive community. But some black residents say they haven't always felt welcome — so Mueller decided to do something about it.

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Finding A 'Radio That Is Just A Radio' In The Digital Age

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:32

World Radio Day was created to celebrate the medium's ability to reach all corners of the globe, due to its affordability and portability. But how common are radios that still fit that description?

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Can A Computer Change The Essence Of Who You Are?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:31

The latest episode of NPR's Invisibilia takes us online. Some people think interacting with these machines is changing us all — for better and worse.

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Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Were 'Radiant,' Teacher Says

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 23:30

One of the young students killed in Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, N.C., Yusor Abu-Salha, spoke to StoryCorps last year with her former third grade teacher.

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David Carr, New York Times Media Columnist, Dies At 58

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 19:06

The widely read journalist died after collapsing in the newsroom, a colleague reported late Thursday. Carr was also known for his memoir, investigating his own addiction to alcohol and drugs.

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WATCH: President Hawks Obamacare In Buzzfeed Video

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 17:12

Obama has been known to try to reach out to a younger generation by appearing on silly web videos. This is no exception.

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Reports: Military Agrees To Provide Chelsea Manning With Hormone Therapy

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 16:53

Manning, convicted in the biggest leak of classified information in American history, announced she was a woman in the summer of 2013. This is the first time the military makes such an accommodation.

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Montana Man Sentenced To 70 Years For Shooting Unarmed Intruder

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 15:10

Markus Kaarma argued self-defense after shooting an unarmed German high school exchange student in his garage. But the judge ruled that Kaarma wasn't protecting his home, he "went hunting."

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Two Of Oregon's Top Democrats Call On Gov. John Kitzhaber To Resign

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 15:00

Kitzhaber has been engulfed in a strange influence-peddling scandal that has put the four-term governor in a politically precarious position. And the sage just got stranger.

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Port lockouts and the sea's importance in supply chain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 14:37

Lawmakers from both parties are urging President Barack Obama to get involved in the labor dispute that has snarled ports on the West Coast for months. Container ships are stacked up from Los Angeles to Seattle. And now: Port operators locked out  workers Thursday, and they'll do it again over the upcoming Presidents Day weekend.  

An estimated $1 trillion dollars in goods moves through those ports annually – and when those goods stop moving, supply chains nationwide get broken. "There are an awful lot of people ... on the spectrum from concerned to panicked," says Allan Rutter, a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

For instance, most manufacturing now runs on a “just-in-time” system.  When parts don't arrive, assembly lines can stop.

"What manufacturers are extremely good at is problem-solving, and coming up with work-arounds," says Robyn Boerstling, director of transportation and infrastructure policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

But work-arounds are expensive. For instance, Fuji Heavy Industries says it’s paying $60 million a month to fly Subaru parts to U.S. plants to keep things running.

Some businesses are unable to ship things out of the country. California citrus growers say they’ve lost half a billion dollars in foreign business. Retailers are becoming unglued as they wait for imported products.

Dan Boaz, founder of airfreight.com, is looking at what happens once the ports start moving again. "It’s going be a whole 'nother secondary-effect nightmare. Everyone’s going to want to be at the front of the line, and everybody’s going to want to get their freight." And, he says, it’s going to be a great opportunity, for him.

 

Brazil is facing its worst drought in a century

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 14:08

If you wash your hands today in Sao Paulo, Brazil, you might be encouraged to do it with hand sanitizer instead of water. That's because Sao Paulo is in the middle of its worst drought in a century.

Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O'Leary, on assignment in Brazil, tells Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal: "There's one stat that will probably blow your mind a little bit: 68 percent of the people here, in Sao Paulo, have had problems with the water supply in the past month. So that means the water pressure's lower, and there has been some talk of outright rationing."

For now, the government is offering price incentives to encourage residents to use less water. High-end restaurants are using plastic utensils, and students are told not to brush their teeth while in school. And an economy of private water trucks has sprung up, delivering water to the wealthy during the early-morning hours.

Ruling May Force Ala. Probate Judges To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:59

A federal judge in Alabama has ruled that a probate judge in Mobile must issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

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FBI Director Faces 'Hard Truths' Of Policing Minority Communities

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:53

James Comey says both systematic and societal factors play a part in disconnect between law enforcement and communities of color.

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Obama's Plan To Tax Overseas Earnings Draws Scrutiny

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:50

American firms have about $2 trillion in overseas accounts — money they could be using to hire workers and pay dividends in the U.S. The president wants to encourage them to bring that money home.

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