National News

What Google's driverless car actually means

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 13:01

Imagine for a moment that it is the year 2050. You are watching TV, a movie from the early 2000s. It’s a rom-com and a couple is at the end of a date, about to kiss awkwardly in their car, when your eight-year-old grandkid walks into the room, looks at the screen and says, “What’s that round thing?” That, you answer, is a steering wheel.

This scenario is not entirely unlikely. Google just unveiled the second generation of its self-driving car. The big difference between Google’s new driverless car and the old one is that the new version has no brake pedal and no steering wheel. So passengers are controlled completely by Goggle’s software.

“Now for some people, this might not be a big deal. For some people, this might be a benefit,” says Thilo Koslowski, an analyst with Gartner.

The self-driving car presents us with all kinds of opportunities. The elderly would be less isolated, blind people could hop in a car and go anywhere, at any time. The designated driver could get hammered. And everyone would be on safer roads because traffic could be coordinated.

“The question we will have to ask ourselves as a society,” says Koslowski, “is are we willing to give up some of that freedom in exchange for fewer accidents and improved traffic flow.”

Along with that freedom, we would also be giving up even more of our privacy. Tech companies would not only know our movements at all times, they would have control over them.

Eric Noble is with The Car Lab. He believes the best estimates about the growth of autonomous vehicles is a report by IHS titled "Emerging Technologies: Autonomous cars-Not if But When". “By 2035 they predicted 54 million automated vehicles [will be] on the road,” says Noble.

To put that in perspective, that’s roughly a quarter of all the cars on the road. The IHS report predicted that nearly all of the vehicles in use are likely to be self-driving sometime after 2050.

Increase your v-o-c-a-b-u-l-a-r-y

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:43
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 13:26 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nathan J. Marcisz of Marion, Indiana, tries to spell a word during the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, DC. Spellers participate in the annual competition to become the best spelling bee of the year.

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Thursday, May 29:

John F. Kennedy was born 97 years ago. He was the youngest man elected President.

In Washington, the Commerce Department releases its second estimate for first quarter domestic product.

The National Association of Realtors issues its April Pending Home Sales Index.

Wisconsin joined the Union on May 29th, 1848.

And kids compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship Finals. You can watch it live on ESPN while gripping your dictionary.

Marketplace for Wednesday May 28, 2014by Michelle PhilippePodcast Title Increase your v-o-c-a-b-u-l-a-r-yStory Type BlogSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Thriving Towns In East Africa Are Good News For A Parasitic Worm

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:32

The worm causes a debilitating intestinal disease called schistosomiasis. And the parasite is spreading rapidly because of an economic boom along the shores of East Africa's Lake Malawi.

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Texas Tea Party Gives GOP Establishment The Blues

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:26

This was starting to look like a bad year for the Tea Party, with primary losses to GOP establishment candidates beginning to pile up. Then came Texas.

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Study Questions Need For Employer Health Care Requirement

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:19

The component of Obamacare that requires employers to provide health insurance has been delayed twice. Now, groups on both sides of the political spectrum are arguing to get rid of it altogether.

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Obama Calls For Further Support Of Syrian Rebels: What's Changed?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:13

Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition spoke with President Obama shortly after the president's speech to West Point graduates. He offers a brief preview of that conversation.

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Today's Heroin Addict Is Young, White And Suburban

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:08

Heroin became notorious in the 1960s as an urban drug of abuse, but its resurgence is fueled by young people in rural and suburban areas, a study finds. Most first used prescription opioids.

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A Peat Bog As Big As England, And A Rare Glimpse At Earth's History

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:06

Dr. Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds has discovered a vast peatland in a remote part of the Republic of Congo. The bog covers an area the size of England and is thought to contain billions of tons of peat. Scientists say that investigating the carbon-rich material could shed light on 10,000 years of environmental change in this little-studied region.

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Finding The Fine Line Between Isolation And The 'Allure Of Normalcy'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:06

Robert Siegel speaks to Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution and Michele Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense, about President Obama's commencement speech to West Point graduates.

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Force And Fear In The Air, As Syrian Refugees Go To Polls In Lebanon

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:06

Syrian refugees in Lebanon are already voting in an election that's seen as Bashar Assad's rigged bid for legitimacy. Many refugees believe that if they don't vote, they'll never be allowed back home.

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Report Finds Systemic Problems With VA Wait Lists

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:06

In a new report released Wednesday, the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs says that the department has frequently manipulated records to hide medical care delays. Investigators focused their probe on a hospital in Phoenix, Ariz.

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Obama Auditions Foreign Policy Speech Before Graduating Cadets

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:06

President Obama visited the U.S. Military Academy Wednesday, delivering a commencement speech to West Point cadets. He used the occasion to lay out a foreign policy vision based in pragmatism.

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Church Group Announces Boycott Of NPR Over 'Tell Me More' Cancellation

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:03

The National Black Church Initiative is calling for its members not to give money to NPR, telling the network it "has abandoned the African American community, and we must turn a deaf ear to you."

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Goodbye driver's ed, hello self-driving car

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 12:00

Google has released a new prototype in its long mission to put self-driving cars on the road. Proponets of the technology say it has the potential to free up parking lot real estate in cities, make delivery services more efficient, and make roads safer. Though, certain features (or lack thereof) make others uneasy: This latest Google car doesn't have a steering wheel, or break pedals.

It's hard to be nervous about a vehicle that's so adorable, though. Michelle Krebs, an analyst at Auto Trader, says the minimalistic look of the car reminds her of a Volkswagen Bug. The retro design makes sense when considering the fact that, at least in its debut outing, the audience for the self-driving car is largely baby boomers, says Krebs:

"I think absolutely the older generation will be interested, because you get older, you're driving is not as good, and people are very reluctant to give up their driver's license."

Krebs also points out that the technology could be very popular with millenials for a completely different reason:

"On the opposite side of the spectrum, you've got the millenials, who haven't...shown much of an interest in driving. Although, this isn't going to be inexpensive technology right away, so whether they can afford it or not is the question."

Krebs says that while the technology is largely there for self-driving cars to be a reality, the stumbling blocks of regulation and legality still remain. In her mind, the next step is most likely cars that give the driver an option of driving, or letting the vehicle take control. 

 

Newtown Dad Posts Open Letter To Father Of UCSB Victim

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 11:48

Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, said he and Richard Martinez are now "part of a family born from horrible circumstance."

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Solving Detroit's blight, one scary poster at a time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 11:43

Good news has been in short supply in Detroit, of late.

There’s the bankruptcy, of course. And then there is the blight. Which, according to a new federal report, is going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more to clean up than anyone thought. Its a huge challenge, but you don’t need to tell that to Erica Gerson.

“It’s 330 pages, that is a lot of digesting,” said Gerson, Chair of the Detroit’s Land Bank Authority, which is in charge of dealing with the broken down properties the city owns. “One of the problems here is there are houses that having been sitting empty for three to five years and they are not getting any better. So we have to get our hands on them faster.”

Gerson says sometimes a direct approach is the best way to deal with neglectful landlords.

“I have a staff of attorneys who go out and put big posters on [abandoned] houses that say ‘Call this number within 72 hours or your property will be seized by the Detroit Land Bank.' That tends to get the landlord’s attention.”

Gerson says that, yes, the task before her can seem daunting. But she doesn’t have to look far for signs that the city is getting better.

“Yesterday people saw a man who they thought was scrapping--tearing down the gutters on a beautiful old house that seemed abandoned. When the police got there, instead of arresting the man, they started laughing...turned out that it was one of the houses we had postered. And [the man] was putting up brand new gutters. A lady in the neighborhood said she hadn't seen anyone do that in 20 years.  That’s what keeps you going.”

SnapChat CEO's Emails Didn't Disappear, Come Back To Shame Him

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 11:34

The CEO of the self-destructing messaging platform Snapchat says he's "mortified" his misogynistic fraternity emails were made public.

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55 Convicted In Public Trial In China's Northwest

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 11:09

The "sentencing rally," which occurred in a sports stadium before a crowd of 7,000, is reminiscent of the open-air trials of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and '70s.

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Report Finds Evidence Of Secret Wait Lists At VA Hospital

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-28 10:27

The inspector general's interim report said some 1,700 patients at the Phoenix VA hospital were put on unofficial wait lists and subjected to treatment delays of up to 115 days.

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Increase your v-o-c-a-b-u-l-a-r-y

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-28 10:26

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Thursday, May 29:

John F. Kennedy was born 97 years ago. He was the youngest man elected President.

In Washington, the Commerce Department releases its second estimate for first quarter domestic product.

The National Association of Realtors issues its April Pending Home Sales Index.

Wisconsin joined the Union on May 29th, 1848.

And kids compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship Finals. You can watch it live on ESPN while gripping your dictionary.

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