National News

Stowaway Teen May Have Been Trying To Reunite With His Mom

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 03:35

News reports indicate the 15-year-old was hoping to eventually get to Somalia, where his mother lives. He crawled into the wheel well of a jet that flew from California to Hawaii.

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'Object Of Interest' Found In Search For Malaysian Jet

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 02:50

Investigators are studying a piece of metal discovered on a beach in western Australia to see if it might be debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

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Why the lights have dimmed on LA's film industry

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 02:31

Hollywood is no longer the go-to place for shooting feature films and TV shows.

Just eight percent of big budget Hollywood films were made in LA in 2013, down from 65 percent in 1997. And from 2005 to 2013, California's share of one-hour TV series dropped from 64 percent to 28 percent. 

Why the big exodus? States like Georgia, New York and Louisiana -- and countries like the UK and Canada -- are offering attractive tax subsidies to lure filmmakers.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has declared a "state of emergency" in the local film and TV production industry.

The Association of Film Commissioners International held their convention in March at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Century City. It’s been called “The Poacher’s Convention.” Dozens of booths lined a big hotel banquet hall. Each one promoted the natural beauty of their state or country -- and their generous tax incentives.

(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

A sign atThe Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI) Tradeshow in West Hollywood, California. 

“The show is called ‘Locations Trade Show’ but it’s really not about locations anymore, it’s about incentives, and North Carolina is a 25 percent fully-funded rebate,” said Aaron Syrett, the North Carolina Film Commissioner.

The movies “Iron Man 3” and “The Hunger Games” and the TV shows “Homeland” and “Sleepy Hollow” were all shot in North Carolina. The state spends $80 million a year on those rebates.

But, Syrett said, his state isn’t really competing with California. “We’re competing with Georgia and Louisiana,” he said.

States like Utah also offers filmmakers a 25 percent discount. To drive the point home, the wallpaper in Utah’s booth was just the number “25%” repeated in a huge font.

“The business is here in Hollywood. We want to keep it here. Everyone here wants to take it away,” said Art Yoon with Film LA, the group that issues permits to shoot in Los Angeles. “I mean, we have a $100 million tax credit, that’s not nearly enough. We’re going to have to up that if we want to be serious about keeping the industry here.”

California, by all accounts, hasn’t kept up. The state has a lot else going for it: local talent, sunny weather, and a support system, like caterers and electricians.

But documentary filmmaker Deborah Rankin said it ultimately comes down to dollars and cents: “Especially as an independent filmmaker, it’s really, it’s hard. It’s hard raising the money, and you’ve gotta make it go as far as it can,” Rankin said.

Filmmaker Dan Gagliasso is working on a Bosnia-Kosovo war film, and plans to shoot it in Minnesota, largely because of generous tax credits – especially if you shoot in the northern part of the state. And, he said, the red tape in Los Angeles makes shooting there more difficult.

“You know, if you say the wrong word, suddenly you have to have a study because you’re crossing a stream with a horse. It’s like, ‘Well gee, it’s a private horse ranch, that horse crosses that stream every day!’ They don’t care. It’s bureaucracy,” Gagliasso said.

Hollywood filmmakers are hoping California lawmakers will pass a bill that would extend the state's current $100 million a year film production tax credit. The bill would also expand the range of films eligible to apply for tax credits, and would open the credits to television pilot production. Its main opponents are education groups who are lobbying for more school funding rather than increasing production incentives.

In Tulsa, Combining Preschool With Help For Parents

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 01:23

One nonprofit in Tulsa has flipped the script on preschool. The Community Action Project says its premise simple: To help kids, it says, you often have to help their parents.

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One Approach To Head Start: To Help Kids, Help Their Parents

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 01:03

One Tulsa, Okla., nonprofit believes that improving poor kids' prospects also requires preparing their parents for well-paying jobs. The program's director says managing both is a tough nut to crack.

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Aereo case has its head in the clouds

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-04-23 01:00

If you're of a certain age, you'll recognize this familiar sight:

From the VHS of yore, this bright green FBI warning prohibited the "public performance" of any content. That distinction between public and private is what will largely decide the outcome of Aereo's case. Aereo argues that since the content is going directly to a customer, it's not that different than picking up a TV signal via an antenna you might buy and set up in your house. Or as CEO Chet Kanojia puts it, it's what makes it legal for you to sing a Miley Cyrus song in your shower: no one but you is enjoying/suffering through that performance but you.

But there's more than just television at stake in this case, something that everyone involved seems to be aware of. Cloud computing companies in particular are keeping a watchful eye on how this all plays out.

A lot of companies that rely on the cloud are worried that depending on how the court rules, it could mean companies will need to look differently at the content on their servers, including issues of copyright and licensing.

 

Putin's Chess Moves In Ukraine: Brilliant Tactics, But Bad Strategy?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 00:34

As Western leaders craft another round of sanctions to counter the Russian president's moves in Crimea, they might do well to consult a grandmaster at chess — Russia's national pastime.

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The Price War Over The Cloud Has High Stakes For The Internet

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 00:32

Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others are competing to be the main landlords of the cloud. Their terms and prices could control who gets to build what on the Internet, and for how much.

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Subminimum Wages For The Disabled: Godsend Or Exploitation?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 00:31

Activists say a federal law that allows employers to pay people with disabilities pennies per hour is out of date and should be changed. But some say the law is a lifeline for the disabled.

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Race To Unearth Civil War-Era Artifacts Before Developer Digs In

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 00:30

Archaeologists in South Carolina are excavating a Union officer prisoner-of-war camp site, hoping to find historical artifacts before they are buried under new construction.

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Citizen Volunteers Arm Themselves Against Crime In Rural Oregon

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-23 00:29

High unemployment and the growing use of meth and other drugs have fueled an explosion of property crimes. Amid cuts to law enforcement, community watch groups are cropping up to fill the vacuum.

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U.S. Clears Egypt For Some Military Assistance

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 22:11

The Obama administration said Tuesday it has certified that Egypt is upholding its 35-year-old peace treaty with Israel and therefore qualifies for some military and counterterrorism assistance.

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Sherpas Leave Everest; Some Expeditions Nix Climbs

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 22:02

Sherpa guides packed up their tents and left Mount Everest's base camp Wednesday. It's an unprecedented walkout to honor 16 of their colleagues who were killed last week in an avalanche.

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Albert Pujols' 500th HR Helps Angels Beat Nationals 7-2

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 20:36

The Angels first baseman became the first major leaguer to hit his 499th and 500th homers in the same game. He drove in five runs Tuesday night to help Los Angeles beat the Washington Nationals 7-2.

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Obama Tours Mudslide Devastation, Pledges Solidarity With Families

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 16:18

A month after the devastating mudslide that killed at least 41 people, the president stopped at the tiny town of Oso, where he promised to "be strong right alongside you."

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Supreme Court Gives Police New Power To Rely On Anonymous Tips

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 15:27

The court ruled that police can stop and search a driver based solely on an anonymous 911 tip. The 5-4 decision split the court's two most conservative justices.

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Want to get in shape? Get chased by zombies

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-22 15:00

You've seen those high-tech bracelets worn by everyone from Oklahoma City Thunder hoops star Kevin Durant to Apple CEO Tim Cook. And yet, Nike reportedly is going to shutter the division, and lay off the engineers, who make the athletic company's FuelBand wearable fitness tracker. 

 

Is the wearable fitness device market slowing down? No, not really. In fact, for many, the standard Fitbit or calorie-counter apps are too basic. Check out these unconventional additions to the list of tech aimed at getting you in shape.

 

Coach Alba

 

Not everyone can afford a personal trainer or a life coach who takes responsibility for their clients' health. That's where Coach Alba comes in. After answering a survey on pivotal moments in daily life, Coach Alba is designed to text users during "crucial moments" to remind them of goals, and to encourage good behavior. If, for example, late night snacking is your vice, Coach Alba will ping you in the evening with reminders of what you've already eaten that day. Find out more about Coach Alba here.

 

 

Pact

 

If you think words are cheap, then Pact might be the right phone app for you. Aside from allowing you to track your diet and exercise on your phone, Pact adds the element of financial reward if you keep your set goals. Your pay off comes at the expense of fellow users who did not make it to the gym when they said they would, or those who ate a donut instead of a salad. Be warned: fail at meeting your goals, and you end up paying more successful Pact users with your hard earned cash. Find out more about Pact here.

 

 

GymShamer

 

Like Pact, GymShamer uses public accountability as motivation. Unlike Pact, you pay with your dignity, not your money. GymShamer is set up to notify your friends via your social media accounts when you miss a trip to the gym. Winner of a Foursquare hackathon in January, GymShamer may be coming to an embarrassing social media debacle near you. Find out more about GymShamer here.

 

GymShamer

 

Striiv

 

If you're a gamer, gameplay advantages may be more your speed. The Striiv Pedometer rewards the amount of steps you've taken by providing goods for a Farmville-esque game on your phone and computer. In this case, you're populating an enchanted island with trees and animals. It's like Lost, but with rewards for people who continue to pay attention. Find out more about Striiv here.

 

 

Zombies, Run!

 

Speaking of gaming and fitness, "Zombies, Run!" is an app that places the user in the middle of a post-apocalyptic dystopia where running isn't just for exercise, it's for survival. Like Striiv, the more you exercise, the more rewards you receive. Unlike Striiv, you're also running for your life. "Zombies, Run!" will instruct the user on how far they have to go in order to escape the hoarde of imaginary zombies following close behind. Think "Running Dead," not "Walking Dead." Find out more about "Zombies, Run!" here.

 

U.S. Says It's Monitoring For Possible North Korea Nuclear Test

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 14:41

The State Department, citing news reports of heightened activity at Pyongyang's test site, says it's closely watching the situation.

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Green GOP Group Caught Between 'Rock And A Hard Place'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-22 14:17

On Earth Day 2014, it wasn't easy being an environmental organization in the Republican Party. The big donors who write checks aren't much interested in the environment.

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Why Roto-Rooter cares how you die

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-22 14:03

The Centers for Disease Control tells us that about 2.5 million people die in this country every year.

And 44 percent of those people are now dying in hospice care.

That's surely a cultural change, but it's also a business opportunity. Hospice care has become a $17 billion business.

Fran Smith wrote a book about hospice care called "Changing the Way We Die."

She describes hospice care as the most successful part of the healthcare industry, and says it's surprising who is getting into the game.

"More than half of hospice programs are run by for profit companies. All the growth in hospice over the past ten years has been in the for-profit sector. The company that owns Roto-Rooter, ChemEd, is the owner of the largest hospice chain in the country - Vitas."

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