National News

Emails Tie Gov. Christie's Aides To Lane Closings Controversy

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 08:53

The New Jersey governor has said neither he nor his staff were involved in the closing of some key lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge into New York. Democrats have said the governor's office may have been trying to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for not supporting Christie's re-election bid.

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Can Amazon's Jeff Bezos Save Planet Earth?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 08:11

In these uncertain times, America turns to its superheroes — for truth, justice and free shipping for everyone.

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Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 08:05

More than 80 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. now comes from abroad. And fishermen in other parts of the world continue to kill not just dolphins but seals and even whales. So conservation groups are calling for tougher import rules to protect sea animals at risk from fishing.

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Maddux, Glavine And Thomas Going To Baseball Hall Of Fame

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 07:45

The results are in and the honors go to former Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine as well as slugger Frank Thomas. He's the first Hall of Famer who mostly served as a designated hitter.

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What Happens When A Language's Last Monolingual Speaker Dies?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 07:34

Emily Johnson Dickerson, the last person who spoke only Chickasaw, died last week at age 93. There were thousands of fluent Chickasaw speakers as late as the 1960s. Dickerson was among about 65 remaining.

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NASA Reportedly Gets OK To Keep Space Station Going Until 2024

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 06:41

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the White House has given approval for the extension, which still must be funded by Congress. However, the decision could lead to a budget crunch down the road.

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Hell Has Frozen Over, Headline Writers Rejoice

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 06:12

As the tiny town in Michigan has gotten colder, few could seem to resist having some fun with its name. The frigid fame will be short-lived. Hell may be frozen over now, but it's expected to thaw this weekend.

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December Posts Strongest Job Gains Of 2013, Survey Shows

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 05:43

The payroll processing firm ADP says in its latest report that December saw 238,000 jobs added, the strongest monthly gains of last year.

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Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 05:27

What are the odds that you will die this year? Whatever they are, the mortality tables suggest those odds will double eight years from now. Death, apparently, moves closer at a curiously regular pace. Why this eight-year progression? Is it something biological? Random? What is it about eight that attracts the Grim Reaper? Let's ask.

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Your start-up failed. Congratulations!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-08 04:59

Danielle Morrill is a 28 year-old web entrepreneur who lives in San Francisco. A few years ago she started a company, Refer.ly, that paid people to write reviews about products they loved.  It was her first try at building a business, and her first major fail. 

“Apparently that's going to help me in Silicon Valley,” she joked. And in a way, she’s right. According to a popular saying in Silicon Valley, having a failed company on your resume is a badge of honor, meaning Morrill just earned her first badge. “So I guess I should celebrate,” she said.

In fact, she already has been celebrating, and the rest of Silicon Valley along with her. When Morrill officially called it quits for Refer.ly last spring, she shared the news of her failure in a blog post and scored it with Handel’s “Zadok the Priest.”  Rejoice!  The chorus sang out -- Rejoice! --  as Morrill announced that, after raising more than $1 million in seed money, Refer.ly had had failed. 

“My greatest feat as a start up founder isn't to fail,” she wrote in the post. “It's to become a zombie start up.”

By zombie, Morrill meant, a company that's still technically operating, but has so little traction, it should be dead. Silicon Valley is full of these companies, she wrote, and she didn’t want hers to be one.

Morrill’s announcement was received with what amounted to a social media standing ovation: thousands of comments and tweets saying she was courageous, insightful, inspiring.

“It was the highest traffic post I ever wrote,” Morrill said recently. 

And that is bad news for Josh Felser, a Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur who has founded a couple very successful start-ups of his own.

“In every other industry you're actually worried about your next job, but in our industry people are glamorizing failure,” Felser bemoans. Sure, he says, there are times you need to let go of a venture that’s going nowhere. But  as a venture capitalist, it’s his money on the line. And he wants to invest in people who are terrified of failing. 

“It should be like  going to war,” Felser says. “You want it to be bad enough and painful enough that you're only going to fail if it’s the only option you have.”

Of course, you could argue, the cavalier attitude toward failure in Silicon Valley that drives a venture capitalist like Felser mad is actually fueled by the venture capital game. When the aim is to win big, anything less than spectacular success can be tempting to bail on. 

In Danielle Morrill's case, that company she pronounced a failure was actually doing O.K. by the standards of many small businesses:  a growing customer base, starting to make a little money.  But, Morrill cautions, "it was never really going to take off. And I certainly believe that the implied promise when we raised money was that we  would build a highly scaling, high growth, venture backed start up."

Morrill still has some investor money left. She's using it to fund a new start up. And, to pay rent on the home-office she and her two co-founders share, in a penthouse apartment in one of San Francisco's newest skyscrapers. 

Ships Break Free In Antarctica, U.S. Icebreaker Not Needed

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 04:30

A Russian ship that had been taking scientists and passengers on an expedition got stuck. So did a Chinese icebreaker that tried to help. The U.S. Coast Guard sent its biggest icebreaker on a mission to help. But the ships have been able to get out on their own.

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Death Toll From Deep Freeze Tops 20; Warm-Up Is Coming

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 03:45

Weather-related traffic accidents have accounted for some of the deaths. Others have collapsed while shoveling snow. Several victims are said to have been homeless people who either didn't want to go to shelters or didn't get to one in time. Thankfully, more moderate weather is about to arrive.

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A Cheesy Meltdown: Kraft Warns Of Velveeta Shortage

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 03:02

Kraft confirms that shortages are in store of its creamy processed cheese — part of a popular concoction with salsa served on a nacho chip or two. One reason? Seasonal demand — in other words, it's Super Bowl time.

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Even In Snowden-Friendly Brazil, Asylum May Be 'Bridge Too Far'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 00:31

Should they or shouldn't they? That's the question Brazilians are asking themselves after Edward Snowden's "open letter" lauding Brazil's role in protecting privacy rights and alluding to his hand in uncovering spying against their president.

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31-Year-Old Hopes To Ski Past Her (Younger) Competitors

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 00:30

Holly Brooks made the switch from coach to world-class athlete in 2009, after an epiphany on a hospital gurney. Now she's hoping to compete in the Winter Olympics for a second time. She says she has something many of her younger competitors lack: perspective.

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31-Year-Old Hopes To Ski Past Her (Younger) Competitors

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-08 00:30

Holly Brooks made the switch from coach to world-class athlete in 2009, after an epiphany on a hospital gurney. Now she's hoping to compete in the Winter Olympics for a second time. She says she has something many of her younger competitors lack: perspective.

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