National News

What Eye Contact — and Dogs — Can Teach Us About Civility In Politics

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 01:00

Don't look at me! In Minnesota, lawmakers are banned from making eye contact during debate. The idea is it leads to more civility. But does it? And what can animal science teach us about it?

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The Unlikely Stars Of Americans' Favorite Video Games

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:41

More than a third of Americans play video games three or more hours a week. Part of the appeal is the richly developed characters in the games.

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Cancer Spawns A Construction Boom In Cleveland

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:39

The famed Cleveland Clinic is building a new cancer center right around the corner from a competing cancer hospital. Both institutions are confident there will be plenty of patients.

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Once Philip Morris Workers, Now They Clamp Down On Uruguay's Smokers

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:38

The men worked at the tobacco company for years. But after they were laid off, the only jobs they could find were as anti-smoking inspectors for the government. They do their new job with gusto.

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17 Months Before Election Day, One Campaign Aims For $100 Million

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:37

The lofty target for the superPAC of not-quite-a-candidate Jeb Bush is one more sign of the cash gusher — and legal gray areas — opened up by recent campaign finance decisions.

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Being A Loyal Auto Insurance Customer Can Cost You

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 23:51

Businesses often reward their customers with discounts for sticking with them. But some auto insurance companies may raise your premiums if they think you're unlikely to shop for a better rate.

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Landmark Conservation Deal Offers A First Glimpse Of New Wilderness

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 23:49

Once closed to the public, adventure seekers can now explore a wild stretch of New York state's Hudson and Opalescent Rivers.

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Silicon Tally: Anyway, here's Powerball

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-07 22:52

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

This week, we're joined by Lily Hay Newman, lead blogger for Slate's Future Tense.

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Baltimore Police Will Be Target Of Broad Justice Department Inquiry

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 18:34

Following the death of Freddie Gray, the city's mayor and Maryland's congressional delegations had asked the federal agency to look for possible discriminatory practices by local law enforcement.

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Scientists Crack A 50-Year-Old Mystery About The Measles Vaccine

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 16:58

When the U.S. introduced the measles vaccine, childhood deaths from all infections plummeted. Scientists think they might know why: Benefits of the measles vaccine go way beyond the measles.

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No Regrets For Organizer Of Muhammad Cartoon Contest

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 16:21

"I will continue to speak in defense of freedom until the day I die," Pamela Geller told the AP. Her cartoon contest was attacked last weekend by Islamist militants.

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Canadian Judge Grants Former Guantanamo Inmate Bail

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 15:31

Omar Khadr, who served more than a decade at Guantanamo Bay, has been released on bail while he waits out an appeal for war crimes' convictions. The Canadian government criticized the judge's ruling.

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Let's Talk About Death Over Dinner

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 15:19

Over the last two years, more than 70,000 people around the world have gathered to dine and discuss their own deaths, and the end-of-life decisions that entails. We eavesdrop on one such gathering.

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No Goooaaal? Spain's Soccer Federation Suspends Season In Row Over Law

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 14:33

At issue is a new law that allows poorer teams to share TV airtime and revenue more fairly. The law would break the monopoly of the league's two richest teams, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

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Are music festivals a bubble waiting to burst?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-07 14:22

Forget sweltering clubs and concert halls. Summer tours for some bands are now a matter of hopping from one grassy lawn to another.

Take the indie rock band Modest Mouse. This summer they're playing at least 10 festivals in the U.S., Canada and overseas.

The number of multi-day music festivals in North America has gone from a handful to hundreds.

“We do live in a culture right now which is heavily saturated with festivals,” says Jonathan Levine, who heads of the Paradigm Talent Agency's Nashville office.“If someone has a plot of land and a checkbook, they can suddenly find themselves in the festival business.”

Levine's roster includes the Black Eyed Peas and the Grateful Dead – a band that played one of the most iconic music festivals. But a lot has changed since Woodstock.

Music festivals have gone mainstream, and they’re making hundreds of millions of dollars. Millennials, it seems, are willing to shell out for multi-day music experiences. And deep-pocketed corporate sponsors are willing to shell out to reach them.

And it's all come none too soon for musicians.

The growth in the number of music festivals over the last decade and half has coincided with a big shift in how people buy recorded music — if they buy it. And now streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and, soon, Apple's Beats are reinventing the model again.

“The whole industry, the whole — all of it — is changing so much, especially with the internet, downloads and MP3s and stuff. So, the festivals is really where it’s at,” Katelyn Shook says. Katelyn and her sister Laurie Shook are the front-women of the Shook Twins, a Portland-based indie folk pop group.

The stretch from May to September is the biggest time of year for the Shook Twins – biggest payouts, biggest crowds, biggest publicity. They plan their tours around festival dates.

“It’s so good for an up and coming band because when we go to a new territory, we don’t have to have the pressure of filling the club all by ourselves, we’re just part of this huge thing and they’re promoting it and they’re doing all the cool stuff for it,” Laurie Shook says.

The Shook Twins, Laurie and Katelyn Shook, in their van before a show in Spokane, Washington.

Jessica Robinson/Marketplace

But is there a ceiling on all this growth?

“The problem that we’ve got is that everyone is competing for the same pool of talent. And it’s not just in North America. It’s worldwide,” says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert business trade publication Pollstar.

For example, Bluesfest in Australia in early April snagged Ben Harper, Hozier, David Gray, Counting Crows and a lot of other in-demand acts, Bongiovanni says. And of course, if they're in Australia, they couldn't be in the U.S. for the ever-increasing number of festivals here. In Pollstar's 2014 year-end business analysis, Bongiovanni forecast the competition for big names could lead to a “bloody market correction that weeds out weaker festivals.”

And he’s not the only one making gloomy predictions.

“There’s only so many artists that can play and anchor and headline the festivals,” Levine says. “So it’s going to be a little bit survival of the fittest. Some will thrive and others will not.”

There's another force putting restrictions on the availability of big-name acts. It's called a “radius” clause. For example, the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee might tell a band it can’t play within 300 miles of the festival two months before or after. Larger festivals use the agreements to make sure they keep exclusive rights on the headliners – and the hype surrounding them.

Still, all of this isn’t bothering Drew Lorona too much. He's one of the founders of the fledgling Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho, which just wrapped up its fourth year. Like most new festivals, it’s struggled to turn a profit. But Lorona says the urban music festival has been careful to grow slowly and put its emphasis on discovering unknown bands.

“I think the festivals that will struggle are going to be the ones that don't have that differentiation. … And that seems to be what's popping up the most – is kind of branded as like a party in the desert type of thing,” says Lorona.

And speaking of popping up, he knows of at least two new music festivals starting in Idaho this summer.

What Happens When A Police Officer Doesn't Shoot?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 14:06

An officer's body camera captured his decision not to shoot a possibly armed suspect. He was praised for brave self-restraint, but some law enforcement officers say his reluctance was irresponsible.

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A Fish With Cancer Raises Questions About Health Of Susquehanna River

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 13:53

The smallmouth bass with a malignant tumor was caught late last year near Duncannon, Pa. Officials say it's the first time such a tumor has been found in the state on that type of fish.

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