National News

Mesa, Ariz., Police Seek Active Shooter

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 09:38

A police spokesman said at least four people have been shot. He said police are looking for a bald white male in his 40s, wearing a gray shirt, black pants or shorts and with a tattoo on his neck.

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Risks Run High When Antipsychotics Are Prescribed For Dementia

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 09:35

Results from an analysis of veterans' health records show a higher risk of death among people taking antipsychotic drugs for symptoms of dementia than has been documented before.

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Video Break: Soaring Through An Immense Vietnamese Cave

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 09:21

American photographer Ryan Deboodt says he filmed Hang Son Doong on his third visit. The world's largest cave features a river and huge "skylights" that have allowed trees and wildlife to flourish.

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Yik Yak, privacy settings and the anonymous economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 09:16

In South by Southwest Interactive’s idea exchange, the goal is often trying to get some pattern recognition. Brands, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, academics — everyone is trying to get a sense of what is happening right now, and what is the Next Big Thing. Right now, data privacy is a huge issue. Over 100 events at Interactive tackle privacy as a topic, from drones to health care.

One of the week’s privacy-focused events was the release of a new login management system from Yahoo. The company is calling it an “on-demand password” system where, every time you want to login, you get a new code texted to your phone. For a company that has been pulling in user data — and fielding “change password” requests — for years this seems to make a lot of sense. But it’s also part of a larger recognition at Yahoo that users increasingly understand the value of data protection and control.

“It’s really important to provide our users with the tools and the ability to control what they share with us,” says Dylan Casey, a VP of products at Yahoo. “And, be as transparent as possible about what we do with it.”

Other people at Southby are here to talk about anonymity. For Yik Yak, one of the hot startups making an appearance at the festival, anonymity is a key feature. The app lets college kids share anonymous comments publicly with the entire campus community. There has been plenty of criticism leveled at Yik Yak for allowing racism, sexism, and worse to be posted without much accountability. Co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington say they are combating that content by adding filters for certain language. But they tout the app for recently alerting students to a campus shooting nine minutes before the college’s emergency alert system. And their promise of anonymity for users is bringing in cash.

“The company's at about 35 people working on Yik Yak,” Droll says. “We've raised about 70 million dollars and we have a presence at just about every college campus in america.”

Yik Yak is one of many increasingly popular apps that offer anonymity as a big selling point. But many of these startups don’t have to worry about revenue yet. For Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, data is an incredibly valuable resource. Which is probably why those larger companies are trying to offer more general controls and protection--not anonymity.

Is there a way to mine data and offer some anonymity to a growing number of users who don't want their email messages used for marketing ploys, or something worse? Security specialist at the company Rapid7 Nicholas Percoco says it depends on what you really want from your technology.

“By nature of using the device or service,” he says, “the benefit of that is that it’s tracking you.”  

Location based rewards, mapping, recommendations and more convenience based on the data we’re giving up is already here. And even if you do decide you do want anonymity as a user and are willing to do the work to get it, it might be a quixotic quest. Percoco says as time goes on, companies that pull in our data get bought and sold, along with our information. Take a bit from data column A and a bit from data column B, and a company, government or hacker can turn anonymity into your positive ID.

Oh, for the want of a decent copier

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 08:57

A lot of reporters use the Freedom of Information Act — FOIA — to request documents from the government.

Last year, I asked the State Department for copies of some correspondence related to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. And it took me a while to hear back.

I received a response last week. 

Evidently, there's a huge backlog at the State Department in the office that handles requests like mine, and we now know why.

An inspector general looked into the matter and provided an explanation: "The office lacks copy machines that can handle the volume required."

There aren't enough copy machines. At the State Department. In 2015.

 

Dallas Seavey Wins Third Iditarod in Four Years

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 08:44

The 28-year-old Seavey finished the race early Wednesday. He completed the 1,100-mile sled dog race in 8 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes, and 6 seconds.

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Netanyahu's Campaign Puts Him On The Path To Confrontation

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 08:33

If the Israeli leader follows through on his campaign pledges, he could face increased friction with the Palestinians, the Obama administration and the international community.

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Alarming Number Of Women Think Spousal Abuse Is Sometimes OK

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 08:16

In many countries, more than a third of women think a husband is sometimes justified in beating his wife. Researchers say this attitude contributes to the high rate of domestic violence worldwide.

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Obama Picks Kentucky To Win NCAA Tournament, Mixes In Politics

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 08:04

President Obama predicts Kentucky will be crowned college basketball champion and cap off a perfect season. He also picks three top seeds and one No. 2 seed to make the Final Four.

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American Express launches multi-brand loyalty program

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 08:02

A handful of the country’s biggest companies announced out a new loyalty program Wednesday. American Express is teaming up with Macy’s, ExxonMobile, AT&T, Hulu, and others to create a program that lets customers gather and redeem points across the group of merchants.

Traditionally, loyalty programs have been exclusive to one retailer – one card for the supermarket, another for the drugstore.

This program, called Plenti, is different in that it allows points gathered a one merchant to be redeemed at another, says Abeer Bhatia, CEO of U.S. Loyalty with American Express.

“Let’s say you walk into a Rite Aid and you pick up soda, band aids, and you go and check out,” explains Bhatia. “You’re going to earn points at Rite Aid and these points will accumulate in a common points bank and then when you go next time, maybe, to an ExxonMobil or Macy’s, you can use those points.”

Customers don’t have to pay with an American Express card to get collect points. Bhatja says the company hopes the program will make new customers aware of their cards.  

The program may also help American Express target a different kind of customer.

“The appeal for American Express has always been targeting that higher-end, more upscale card holder than the other card issuers have focused on,” says Matt Schulz, a senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

By partnering with companies with wide-ranging customers, like Rite Aid, AT&T, Macy’s, Schulz says American Express could broaden its base with a less-affluent customer and that the company could also be hoping for some good headlines after losing an exclusive contract with contract with Costco recently.

PODCAST: Facebook gets into mobile payment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 07:53

We're watching closely today for any clue to when the Federal Reserve could be raising interest rates, and most of the speculation hinges on just one word: "patient." What does it mean and how did we get here? J.P. Morgan's David Kelly is here to shed some light on the situation. Then, Facebook is adding the option to send other users money via its Messenger app. Tracey Samuelson tells us how the move could bring mobile payment into the mainstream and open up new revenue opportunities for the site. Finally, it's taken as a given that that veterans from the post-9/11 era have had an especially hard time finding work. Anecdotal evidence is plentiful, but hard numbers are surprisingly elusive. Dan Weissmann investigates.

Debate: Should The U.S. Adopt The 'Right To Be Forgotten' Online?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 07:53

People don't always like what they see when they Google themselves. EU residents have a right to request that unflattering material be removed from online search results. Should the U.S. follow suit?

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Cowboy Cravings: Fried Cookie Dough And Other Rodeo Calorie Bombs

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 07:37

Concoctions that seem to break caloric records are a central part of the rodeo food experience. If you're going to indulge, a Texas dietician offers tips to help keep you from popping a belt buckle.

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Does Fox's 'Empire' Break Or Bolster Black Stereotypes?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 07:22

Fox's hip-hop drama Empire ends its first season Wednesday as a huge hit, thanks to black viewers. But NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says it also has sparked a complex debate over TV stereotypes.

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World's biggest art heist, 25 years later

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 06:32

On March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers stole 13 pieces of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in Boston.

They took rare Rembrandts, a Vermeer, and works by Manet and Degas. All together, the stolen art was worth about $500 million. According to the FBI, it was the largest property crime in U.S. history.  A few days after the incident, the Gardner Museum's president and director said, "It is as if there'd been a death in the family."

A quarter-century later, the case remains unsolved. Kelly Crow covers art for The Wall Street Journal. She says the heist changed the art world. 

"I think both museums and private collectors got a wake-up call," Crow tells Marketplace's David Gura. "Museums have gone back and taken a much tougher look at their protocols."

For example, the security guard on duty that night had only one alarm he could trigger at his post. And when the guard was lured away, there was no way for him to signal for help.

Crow says, even after all these years, the stolen art leaves gaping holes in the museum. Isabella Stewart Gardner hadn't wanted any of the pieces moved. So all that hangs in the place of the stolen masterpieces are empty frames.

Can't Protect The Real White House? Get An $8 Million Fake One

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 06:31

The Secret Service director is asking Congress to give the agency funding to build a replica White House at its training compound in suburban Maryland.

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Gunmen Storm Tunisian Museum In Deadly Attack

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 05:54

At least eight people died as gunmen opened fire on people visiting the Bardo Museum, a tourist attraction in Tunis. Police reportedly are inside the building and have surrounded two of the attackers.

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March Madness Starts With A Bang, And A Big Comeback

NPR News - Wed, 2015-03-18 05:39

Ole Miss scored 62 points in the second half last night to dig its way out of a hole and into the big bracket, on the first day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

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Status update: Facebook Messenger helps split the bill

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 05:00

Facebook announced Tuesday it is adding the option to send other users money via its Messenger app.

Messenger is the social network's separate, but required, app for chat — basically an updated version of AOL Instant Messenger, for those of you still using Internet Explorer.

Marketplace's Tracey Samuelson tells us how the move could bring mobile payment into the mainstream, and open up new revenue opportunities for the site. The announcement language suggests users will only be able to transfer money to people who are already their Facebook friends, but Facebook could expand the service in the future, possibly creating more opportunity for businesses.

Facebook reports the money feature will roll out during the next few months in the U.S. To send money, users start a message with a friend, tap the "$" icon and enter the amount they want to send, and then tap "Pay" to send money. The funds are transferred right away, but the first time someone sends of receives money in Messenger, a Visa or MasterCard debit card has to be attached to their account.

A pin, or Touch ID on iOS devices, will add another layer of security, so hopefully toddlers on tablets everywhere don't end up sending strangers cash.

John Maeda on why good design takes decades

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-03-18 04:42

This week Marketplace Tech is exploring South by Southwest Interactive, the tech-oriented event that draws tens of thousands of people to Austin, Texas every year.

We spoke with designer John Maeda, who is at SXSW to talk about designing for the tech industry. A graduate of MIT and former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, Maeda is now a design partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. He talked with us about his first Macintosh, the tech industry's diversity problem, and how design can make technology more accessible.

The year you started at MIT — 1984 — is the year that the Apple Macintosh came out and your parents got you one?

Sure did. Brought a Macintosh to MIT and people made fun of me.

Did they?

Oh yeah.

Because you were a weirdo?

At MIT we are all weirdos so that’s okay. It’s the fact that the Mac didn't look like a computer. It had pictures on it.

How did that piece of technology influence your approach to design?

I remember the time I first touched a Mac and it was so much faster at graphics processing. I could draw an ellipse. Drawing ellipse used to take like ... sitting there [saying] "Ahh, draw that ellipse!" And the Mac was flowing with you.

In your role at Kleiner Perkins, you work with companies to build and design from the beginning. At what point in that process do people start to notice good design?

People's first notion of design is ... pretty stuff. And if you're there, I have to get them out of that. It’s about taking an idea and giving it a system behind it because design doesn't happen by buying a part. It happens by having people who can design.

Is there a design solution for the tech industry’s diversity problem?

Well, it’s a systems problem, really. The question is how do you design the system to enable people from different backgrounds to participate?

How do you do that?

Let me give an example. When you recruit for a more diverse student base, you forget that a diverse population will not stay on your campus if there aren't more role models like themselves. I would argue often at MIT, even at RISD, we need more people, more faculty around to role model for. So that’s a systems approach.

What’s a piece of technology that you really enjoy using, that you interact with and you just really appreciate the design of, that’s not a laptop, a smartphone, [and so on]?

Anything we use with our hands is going to feel good. Like a spoon or chopsticks or our glasses. Why do they feel so good? We've spent hundreds of year improving those ... So when we think technology is hard to use we have to remember, it’s like a decades worth of experimentation. So it’s going to get better. It’ll take time.

What role do you think design plays in getting people to adopt new technology? Something that people might even be a little bit skeptical of?

Technology, by nature, we fear because it’s hard to do something new. It’s easier for younger people because they don’t know they are going to die. Older people are like "I am so done with that, I’d rather have fun instead of figuring that new thing out," right? Young people [are like] "Who cares," right? So design helps to bridge that gap. It makes it more interesting. But I want to caution, because design that’s just about desire — the "wow" — is not enough. My friend who designs for Muji — the brand Muji in Japan — talks about how he designs for what’s called the “after-wow” effect. The “after-wow” is: You've bought it, you bring it home, you've had it for a month, you’re sitting there and saying, "Wow, that’s really awesome."

How does one create that? What’s he doing?

I am glad you asked that question. It takes time. Taking time is what is so difficult in the tech industry, which moves so fast.

What are the the tensions of that working in a VC firm?

A lot of my role is to create time for people, to be able to advocate for: "Hey, you know, this design needs more time or this design team is really getting there, so let’s support that," which I find is important.

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