National News

VA Data Show Disparities In Veteran Benefits Spending

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 23:35

Nationwide veteran benefits data show a huge variation in coverage from state to state, and even within states. In Massachusetts, access to VA services changes dramatically from Boston to Cape Cod.

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'Kings When It's Good:' Oklahoma Braces For Possible Crude Crash

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 23:34

Big-energy states are hoping the cheap oil is just a blip. In Oklahoma, the head of a catering firm delivering food to oil field workers worries that "$40-a-barrel oil? It's going to shut everything."

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Good News For Bats! Things Are Looking Up For Stemming Disease Spread

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 23:33

The disease known as white-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats, but scientists are seeing hopeful signs that some bat colonies are recovering.

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Consumer Agency Launches Tool To Help You Find A Cheaper Mortgage

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 23:30

For many Americans, buying a house is the biggest financial transaction of their lives, but a new federal report says half of buyers don't shop around for a better interest rate on their mortgage.

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Divers Pull Up 2nd Black Box From Crashed AirAsia Jet

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 20:55

Divers retrieved the crashed AirAsia plane's second black box from the bottom of the Java Sea on Tuesday, giving experts essential tools to piece together what brought Flight 8501 down.

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Smoke-Filled Subway Train Leaves 1 Dead, 84 Hospitalized In Washington

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 19:02

Two passengers remain in critical condition after a train stalled in a tunnel outside a major junction in the system, then flooded with smoke.

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Poisoned Homemade Beer Is Blamed For 69 Deaths In Mozambique

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 16:51

The brewer of a batch of traditional homemade beer is listed among nearly 70 people who died after drinking it following a funeral in Mozambique, leaving authorities with many questions.

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3 Kings Holiday Cake Laced With Synthetic Drugs Makes Dozens Hallucinate

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 16:19

What seemed like a case of food poisoning has now turned into a police investigation. Synthetic drugs present an evolving problem for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Eight biggest takeaways from CES 2015

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 15:19

Here are the big takeaways from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In all, it was a nerd’s paradise.

1. Drones!

For the first time, drones got their own section of the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show—thanks partly to projections by the Consumer Electronics Association that the category will post 50 percent growth in sales this year, to about $103 million. Most drone makers showed  small- and medium-sized machines for consumers and hobbyists.  But China-based Harwar, displayed imposing, large commercial-grade drones that cost $15,000, can fly 15,000 feet, and weigh five pounds.

2. Gesture Control

Electronics companies are working hard to alter how we interact with technology: forget keyboards and mice, think hand gestures.  Laptops with gesture control, powered by Intel’s new 3-D technology, will hit  stores within weeks. Farther into the future, look for gesture control  in cars. VW was showing some of that off.  And Razer showed virtual-reality goggles that let gamers interact with screens using just their hands — no gloves required.

3. No Control

We all know automakers are  more deeply integrating smartphones, apps and tablets into their cars. Next up, smarter cars. BMW showed a video demonstration in which a car, communicating via a Samsung smartwatch, turns itself on, drives through a parking garage and locates its owner. Nvidia is working on a cloud-based smart learning system for cars, so they can warn each other about road signs, people and other objects.

4. Talk to Me

The “Internet of things” was a very buzzy CES term. These are products that connect everyday objects in the home via processors, sensors, and Bluetooth or other Internet connections. All that’s needed now is standard platforms, designs, technologies, and coding languages, so that products can be made to work with any ecosystem in the future.

5. Super Televisions

Samsung rolled out a new digital platform, Tizen, which is supposed allow for better connectivity between the TV, the Internet, streaming services, and, eventually, connected home devices. Meanwhile, Sony hitched its wagon to the Android TV platform with the same goals in mind. The two companies also announced new 4K televisions, known interchangeably – if not completely accurately – as Ultra High Definition TV. The technology for 4k, which upgrades a typical 2 million-pixel HD TV screen into an 8 million-pixel TV screen, has been around for a couple of years. But the price has begun to come down, and more players are entering the market. The sector is expected to double its business in 2015 to $4.9 billion in revenue, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

6. Streaming TV

Buried in all the new technology and gadgets was fairly big news from the pay-TV world. Dish Network announced its Internet-only, streaming-only TV offering, which will include many cable channels – even ESPN, hadn’t previously signed on with other streaming services. All for just $20 a month.

7. Just Wear It

Sales of wearable technology will grow 474 percent, this year, to $3.1 billion, says the Consumer Electronics Association. Much of that is being fueled by the expected debut of Apple’s smartwatch later this year. The show, though, had no shortage of smartwatches, digital bracelets and other fitness and health gadgets. There was even a baby thermometer in the form of a patch that can provide constant monitoring and app-based reporting on the baby’s temperature. One of the challenges facing wearables, though, is the availability of censors, which are mostly designed to work in mobile devices. Wearables need more durable, less power consuming sensors. And there aren’t enough of those right now.

8. Charge It!

Looking for better cell-phone charging technology? It’s coming. How about bolting a device to the bottom of your desk that turns the entire surface into a charging station? “The vision here is that we will eventually have the ability to charge your device everywhere,” says Kamil Grajski, President and Board Chairman of A4WP, the Alliance for Wireless Power.

We can’t wait.

'Smart' devices used to hunt for water leaks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 14:32

Trillions of gallons of water are lost to leakage and bursts from pipeline utilities worldwide each year.

Amanda Little wrote a feature about the conservation efforts of one man, Amir Peleg, for Bloomberg Businessweek. Peleg is an entrepreneur who started TaKaDu, a water network management company that tracks leaks in pipes using data collected by sensors.

Little points out that the U.S. probably won’t be implementing anything like this for a while. “Utilities have very little incentive to implant these smart sensors in their networks and sort of absorb the costs of that,” she says.

TaKaDu primarily works with desert countries, or countries that have been experiencing drought conditions for decades. In those places, their pricing structures penalize water use. This differs from water use in the United States, which Peleg refers to as “all-you-can-eat water.”

Little describes a difference in attitude towards water: “There has been this consciousness in Israel and actually much of the world, that water is a life-or-death issue. It is the wellspring of their economy, and for that matter, their national security. Wars have been fought around water for thousands of years. In the U.S., we’re really only just beginning to develop this sort of consciousness around water.”

“This is a story about technology and a technological shift but it’s really a story about a changing of consciousness,” she says.

Quick facts about water:  

  • 8.6 trillion gallons of water worldwide are lost to leaks each year.
  • For every $1 spent on reducing water leaks, $5 worth of water can be saved.
  • 30-35 percent of water pumped through the pipelines of utilities worldwide is lost to leaks and bursts.

You can read Amanda Little’s piece, Israel’s Water Ninja, in its entirety online.

One man's water technology watershed moment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 14:32

Trillions of gallons of water are lost to leakage and bursts from pipeline utilities worldwide each year.

Amanda Little wrote a feature about the conservation efforts of one man, Amir Peleg, for Bloomberg Businessweek. Peleg is an entrepreneur who started TaKaDu, a water network management company that tracks leaks in pipes using data collected by sensors.

Little points out that the U.S. probably won’t be implementing anything like this for a while. “Utilities have very little incentive to implant these smart sensors in their networks and sort of absorb the costs of that,” she says.

TaKaDu primarily works with desert countries, or countries that have been in drought conditions for decades. In those places, their pricing structures penalize water use. This differs from water use in the United States, which Peleg refers to as “all-you-can-eat water.”

Little describes a difference in attitude towards water: “There has been this consciousness in Israel and actually much of the world, that water is a life or death issue. It is the wellspring of their economy, and for that matter, their national security. Wars have been fought around water for thousands of years. In the US, we’re really only just beginning to develop this sort of consciousness around water.”

“This is a story about technology and a technological shift but it’s really a story about a changing of consciousness,” she says.

Quick facts about water:  

  • 8.6 trillion gallons of water worldwide are lost to leaks each year
  • For every $1 spent on reducing water leaks, $5 worth of water can be saved
  • 30-35 percent of water pumped through the pipelines of utilities worldwide is lost to leaks and bursts

You can read Amanda Little’s piece, Israel’s Water Ninja, in its entirety online.

The Story Behind '40 Acres and a Mule'

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 14:02

As the Civil War was winding down 150 years ago, Union leaders asked their men how they could help the thousands of newly freed slaves.

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Minifasting: How Occasionally Skipping Meals May Boost Health

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 13:47

If your New Year's resolutions to eat better haven't panned out yet, consider intermittent fasting. It's gaining traction among dieters and researchers for its benefits beyond just weight loss.

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Organizers Of Anti-Islam Rally In Germany Commemorate Paris Attack

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-12 13:46

The protest in Dresden drew about 25,000 people who are against what they see as the "Islamization of Europe." Their rally was met by counterdemonstrations.

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Obama unveils cybersecurity proposals

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 13:30

President Obama announced a series of cybersecurity proposals Monday, in advance of the State of the Union address. He wants to require companies to notify consumers of a data breach within 30 days, and he says more companies will soon provide free credit scores. Those plans only address what happens after a breach, though. Are companies learning from the hacks at Target, Sony and Home Depot?

President proposes rules for companies hit by breaches

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 13:30

President Obama announced a series of cybersecurity proposals Monday, ahead of the State of the Union address. He wants to require companies to notify consumers of a data breach within 30 days, and he says more companies will soon provide free credit scores. Those plans only address what happens after a breach, though. Are companies learning from the hacks at Target, Sony and Home Depot?

Lovin' the McDonald's ad – and hatin' it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 13:30

A new ad from McDonald's that aired during the Golden Globes is getting almost as much buzz on Twitter as a celebrity’s red carpet outfit. Reactions range from lovin' it: I think the @McDonalds spot that aired during the #GoldenGIobes2015 is the most human the brand has ever felt. Not bad for fast food. — Miranda Lemon (@lemonmira) January 12, 2015 To those who make the ad seem like a McDisaster: @McDonalds I just threw up in my mouth watching your commercial during the #GoldenGlobes. Desperate attempt to rescue your image. Blech! — Jessica Boaman (@JessicaBoaman) January 12, 2015 Against a musical backdrop of kids singing, the ad shows local franchises using their signs to support their communities — including "We remember 9/11" and "Keep jobs in Toledo." The chain also has a blog telling the stories behind each marquee. It's unclear if the company's portrayal of itself as a community-builder will be enough to strengthen its ailing brand. The whole thing has us wondering... what's the sign say at the McDonald's where you live? Is it more "Happy 30th Ed and Beth" or "Over 99 billion served"? Let us know on Facebook.

Lovin' the McDonald's Ad?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-12 13:30

A new ad from McDonald's that aired during the Golden Globes is getting almost as much buzz on Twitter as a celebrity’s red carpet outfit. Reactions range from lovin' it: I think the @McDonalds spot that aired during the #GoldenGIobes2015 is the most human the brand has ever felt. Not bad for fast food. — Miranda Lemon (@lemonmira) January 12, 2015 To those that make the ad seem like a McDisaster: @McDonalds I just threw up in my mouth watching your commercial during the #GoldenGlobes. Desperate attempt to rescue your image. Blech! — Jessica Boaman (@JessicaBoaman) January 12, 2015 Against a musical backdrop of kids singing, the ad shows local franchises using their signs to support their communities — everything from "We remember 9/11" to "Keep jobs in Toledo." The chain even has a blog telling the stories behind each marquee. It's unclear if the company's portrayal of itself as a community-builder will be enough to strengthen its ailing brand. The whole thing has us wondering... what's the sign say at the McDonald's where you live? Is it more "Happy 30th Ed and Beth" or "Over 99 billion served"? Let us know on Facebook.

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