National News

NASA Explores A New World: Crowdsourcing Ideas

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 10:37

NASA is asking the public to help it develop new ways to bring their technology to the commercial market. Daniel Lockney of NASA tells us more about this crowdsourcing, profit-sharing initiative.

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Sandwich Monday: The Concrete

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 10:26

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try the Concrete. It's a frozen custard confection so thick, you can turn it upside down and it won't fall out of its cup.

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Altidore Will Be Ready For Belgium, U.S. Soccer Says

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 10:03

Forward Jozy Altidore, who missed the U.S. team's last two World Cup games with a strained hamstring, is "ready and available" to play Tuesday, U.S. Soccer has announced.

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Israel Says Bodies Of 3 Students Have Been Recovered

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:48

After the teens were captured earlier this month, Israel launched a sweeping search. The kidnappings have inflamed relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

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Luis Suarez Apologizes For Biting Rival At World Cup

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:47

The Uruguayan striker was banned by FIFA for biting Italian player Giorgio Chiellini in last week's World Cup soccer game.

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The 'Shifting' TV News Landscape: Will It Be Good For Diversity?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:41

Diane Sawyer announced she's stepping down as anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. Host Michel Martin finds out what this mean for diversity in television.

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Ramadan In A Warzone: Is This Time Of Reflection Enough To Stop Conflict?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:41

Ramadan is a time of quiet reflection for Muslims around the world. But what is it like for those who find themselves trapped in the middle of violent conflicts? Host Michel Martin finds out.

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Facebook is not the only one studying your behavior

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:35

As the furor over Facebook's experimentation with users' emotions spreads across the web, the most common defense of the social media company's actions is that every other web company is doing the same thing, or something close to it. Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Twitter -- they're all gathering data on how people use their services and how small changes can change people's behavior.

“Name a company that involves a large user base and you will find a research division looking to see how people use their site – Google does it, Twitter, MySpace always did it.  Think about Nielsen; we’ve lived our  lives knowing that Nielsen looks at how people interact with television shows and what they like or don’t like,” says Karen North, professor of digital and social media at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication.

With this pervasiveness of data and behavior studies at different companies, we decided to take a look at the research divisions at some of the biggest web services - and what kinds of work they're actually doing.

Google

Not suprisingly, Google's research division is expansive and varied, with areas of concentration ranging from its all-important search and ad algorithms, to speech and language processing to cyber-security and privacy. Google shares some similiarities with Facebook, in that they are known for keeping close tabs on their users' data for the purposes of advertising. Their research into web behavior seems to support this comparison. But in terms of manipulating user's content, Google seems to stick to small experiments or changes based on user preferences.

“Google is famous for doing widespread social research on how their website is doing," says Carl D. Howe, vice president of research and data sciences at the Yankee Group. "Now this is not emotional research, it’s ‘Do users prefer a one pixel wide blue bar or two pixel blue bar?’ These are called a/b tests and they run hundreds of them every day and they measure the click throughs as a result.”

One interesting aspect of Google's research is that they keep tabs on their advertisers' actions as well as those of their users, with a research division dedicated to measuring the behavior of search-ad customers and online economics.

Yahoo

Similar to Google, Yahoo runs a number of research divisions focused on data management and advertising. Like Facebook, Yahoo has studied how different types of content can provoke different behaviors from users, like one study that found that people engage more with photos that have faces in them on social media. Yahoo also researches how different personalization options can drive user behavior, and how they can serve up content to take advantage of it.

Twitter

Twitter is still figuring out how to sell advertising on its service, so it's no surprise its research division is fairly small compared to other web giants. Most of its research is published in the form of blog posts, and focuses on strategies for advertisers to reach users with targeted content or tweeting around large events. Trying to manipulate Twitter is still a risky proposition, so much of the research remains somewhat vague in comparison to the sophisticated findings coming from companies like Google.

Supreme Court Ruling Affirms Hobby Lobby Victory

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:31

The court ruled Monday in a case asking whether family-owned businesses that offer employees health insurance must include contraception in their plans if they object to some forms of it.

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Your Wallet: Reading the fine print

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:06
Fine print is everywhere these days: You can find some sort of clause when it comes to educationelectronics, vacations, loans, and hospital stays.

We're looking for stories, big and small, of when the fine print tripped you up. Let us know in the comments or email us:

(function(d, s, id) {var js,ijs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//embed.scribblelive.com/widgets/embed.js";ijs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ijs);}(document, 'script', 'scrbbl-js'));

In 2010, CreditCards.com held a survey of over 1,200 credit card agreements and found that they are unreadable to 4 out of 5 Americans. According to credit expert John Ulzheimer, “the big print giveth and the fine print taketh away.”

What's A Caliphate?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 09:01

A supreme religious leader led Sunni Muslims for centuries, but the last caliphate ended nearly 100 years ago. Now Islamic radicals in Syria and Iraq claim they have re-created it.

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Details Of GM Recall Compensation Plan Released

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 08:36

GM's compensation program for claims related to defective ignition switches won't limit claim amounts and will include people who have already settled a case with the automaker.

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The Past Is Where It's At For The Future Of Barbecue

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 08:14

The future of good barbecue isn't in new technology, but in the old way of cooking with wood and smoke, says one expert. The science of slow-cooked meat seems to support his argument.

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America's Search For Meming

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 07:11

Images of the past remind us of memes of the present. And vice versa.

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Supreme Court Rules Against Union Fees For Some Home Care Workers

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 06:21

In a 5-4 ruling, the court recognized a category of "partial public employees" who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees.

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Some Companies Can Refuse To Cover Contraception, Supreme Court Says

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 06:19

The case, Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, is perhaps the most important decision of the term. It centers on the Affordable Care Act's guarantee of no-cost prescription contraception.

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BNP Paribas has to pay $8.9 billion in violations

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-30 05:37

BNP Paribas, the big french bank, came up the biggest loser today.

Late this afternoon we learned that BNP will pay a "Global money penalty" of $8.9 billion in a guilty plea to settle charges by U.S. authorities for violating American sanctions on Sudan and Iran, among others.

Emergency Slide Deploys Inside U.S. Jetliner, Forcing A Landing

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-30 05:34

The plane had been heading from Chicago to Southern California; instead, the scary incident forced startled passengers to spend Sunday night in Wichita.

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