National News

Some iPhone 6 Plus Users Find An Unwanted Feature: It Bends

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 10:47

Some owners of Apple's new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are discovering that their superslim glass and aluminum devices aren't holding up well in an environment that's usually safe: their pockets.

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The Gefilte Fish Line: A Sweet And Salty History Of Jewish Identity

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 10:41

Gefilte fish can be a hard sell even in its standard savory form. But some European Jews like it sweet, a preference that, surprisingly, overlaps exactly with a geographic and linguistic divide.

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Hollande: French Hostage 'Assassinated' By Algerian Extremists

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:38

The group calling itself Soldiers of the Caliphate released a video purportedly showing the beheading of kidnapped mountain guide Herve Gourdel.

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Here's how we'll cut down on greenhouse gases

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:11

This is Climate Week in New York City. About 300,000 people marched to call attention to global warming on Sunday. On Tuesday, at the United Nations, President Obama and more than 100 heads of state gathered to push for a low-carbon future, to combat global warming. The balance of the week is conferences and public events up and down Manhattan.

But let's be honest: Raise your hand if you have climate fatigue. Again with the parts per billion, the Arctic shelf, the guilt.

Business types in New York are trying to change the way we talk about climate change. So we will, too. Make it less about selflessness and altruism. More about investments, markets and, dare we say, greed.
 
So you may have asked yourself: What can I do on climate change? Bike to work? Eat locally grown food?
 
"When people ask me that question, and they do, my response is always the same," says Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard. Be prepared: his answer stings.
 
"What you will be able to accomplish or contribute through your solo actions," he says, "is so small it is lost in the noise."
 
The problem is too big. Stavins says you need scale, preferably for the lowest possible cost, to reduce the amount of carbon going into the atmosphere. Environmental bang for the buck.
 
One big bang is coal power: That's 44 percent of world emissions right there. Cleaner alternatives are solar, wind and natural gas.
 
"One of the most important opportunities for reducing CO2 emissions is to make sure that gas is replacing coal in electricity generation," says Helge Lund, president and CEO of Statoil, the Norwegian energy giant.
 
But in order to speed it up, Lund says, "You have a significantly higher CO2 price."

That's the "buck" part. Here's the idea: Fossil fuels pollute. So policymakers can take that environmental cost and add it to the price of fossil energy. That is, raise the price. That makes low-carbon technology more competitive.
 
Which ones would deploy? Natural gas? LED lights? Solar? Coal plants that bury emissions underground? Stavins says governments don't have to pick. Investors and customers will.
 
"That's the virtue of a carbon pricing mechanism," he says. "It will automatically draw to the fore those technologies, those practices which are lowest cost."
 
For instance, if solar is the cheapest, best option for household power, consumers will pick that. Solar-panel seller IKEA thinks they will. Here's President and CEO Peter Agnefjall.
 
"I think we'll halve the installed cost over the next 10 years of solar," he says. "So it's great sense to do it today. It will be unthinkable not to do it in 10 years' time."
 
Could he be wrong? Perhaps more money will pick wind energy. In certain places, it's cheaper, says Michael Liebreich of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
 
"So if you look at the Great Plains in the U.S., you look at Brazil," Liebreich says. "You look at Australia, you look at India, you look at China. If you want really cheap electrical power, you build a wind farm now."

Now, on the other hand, he says, "You've got some very expensive technologies people would like to believe are part of the solution. Offshore wind is being done, but it's expensive. But then you can go up to wave power and then, always, on transportation, fuel cells."
 
Of course, down the road fuel cells may get cheaper. But the point is, customers and investors have no interest in overpaying. With a carbon price, the low-cost, low-CO2 products win. An efficient, shall we say cheapskate, road to a low-carbon future.

The U.S. Bombing Campaign: Is It War Or Counterterrorism?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:11

President Obama has been reluctant to call it a war, yet the administration and the Pentagon boast of a 40-nation coalition and warn of a military operation that could last for years.

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Vatican Arrests Defrocked Archbishop On Sex Charges

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 09:01

Former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was defrocked earlier this year, has been accused of paying for sex with children while he was papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

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When Cigarettes Cost More, People Drink Less. Except For Wine

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:46

If you raised the price of Don Draper's cigarettes, would he have cut back on the whiskey? Probably not, but it works on most beer and spirits drinkers, a study finds. Wine drinkers, not so much.

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He Fixed South Africa's AIDS Policy, Now He's Out To Fight Salt

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:14

Health Minister Aaron Motsolaedi faced an HIV/AIDS crisis when he took office in 2009. He's made great progress on that front. His new campaign: Convincing South Africans to live healthier lives.

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Tech pumps cash into DC, for what?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 08:08

For years, tech companies ignored Washington. But Washington wasn’t about to ignore them. 

A few years ago Congress debated some big bills on internet policy, and Silicon Valley wasn’t at the table.

So tech companies opened D.C. headquarters, and started lobbying. 

Two years ago web giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook joined forces to create a new trade group, The Internet Association.

Michael Beckerman is the association’s president and CEO. 

He showed me around their sleek, new Washington office and explained why he’s here.

“That’s my job," he says. "To help build relationships and bridge the gap between our industry and Congress.”

That gap makes it hard for tech to gain traction in Washington. 

Part of the problem? It takes time to build relationships on Capitol Hill, and tech is new to the K Street lobby game. 

Also, the tech industry wants quick movement on huge issues, like immigration and patent reform.

Back in Silicon Valley, they can’t understand what’s taking so long.

“In the Internet world and Silicon Valley, people see a problem and they find a way to solve it but that’s not always how Washington works,” Beckerman says.

No, it’s not. So Beckerman and his chief lobbyist, Gina Woodworth make regular trips to Capitol Hill. 

The day I meet up with them, they’re off to Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) office.

Of course, we take an Uber SUV to Capitol Hill.

They're going to Ryan's office to talk about trade legislation.    

“The last time they drafted a trade bill was in 2002," says Gina Woodworth. "In 2002 a lot of our companies weren’t even created and we weren’t really an active stakeholder at that time. But now we are.”

And they have the cash to prove it.

“Spending by the tech sector has more than tripled since 1998,” says Sheila Krumholz,  executive director at the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbyists' spending in Washington.

Krumholz says the tech lobby budget went from $40 million in the late 90s, to more than $140 million last year. 

And she says Silicon Valley is on track to spend at least that much this year.  

Today, tech is the fourth biggest spender on lobbying in Washington.

“What they get for all this lobbying is not clear,” says Anthony Corrado, a professor of  government at Colby College. “Even on a very narrow issue like immigration reform and a modification of visa policy to allow more engineers in, for example, they can’t get any action.”

What’s worse, Corrado says, sometimes tech companies lobby on different sides of an issue, like net neutrality. 

Which pits the companies that built the pipes of the internet against the users of those pipes.

Corrado says there’s a clear winner here. And it’s not the tech lobby.

“Members of Congress are more than happy to have tech industry lobbying on both sides of an issue because it makes it much easier for them to solicit campaign contributions,” he says.

Corrado calls it a fundraising bonanza. Welcome to Washington, Silicon Valley.

After The NIH Funding 'Euphoria' Comes The 'Hangover'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 07:54

The way the National Institutes of Health doles out research grants accentuates booms and busts in the financing of scientific research. More variety in the length of grants could help.

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Obama At U.N.: World Risks Being Caught In 'Undertow Of Instability'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 07:15

The president, in an address to the General Assembly, says nations are at a crossroads and that the international system must meet challenges ranging from terrorism to disease.

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Hearing That Things Can Change Helps Teens Dodge Depression

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 06:17

High schoolers are vulnerable to depression. Telling teenagers that people and circumstances can change and things will get better helps reduce the risk of depressive symptoms, a study finds.

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Three R's For The Digital Age: Rockets, Robots And Remote Control

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 05:18

The World Maker Faire comes to one of the nation's most diverse neighborhoods.

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Scientists Step Up Food Fraud Efforts Following Horse Meat Scandal

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 05:15

The latest report in response to the horse meat scandal of 2013 reminds us that the potential for fraud in the food supply is high. But scientists are working to predict and prevent the next incident.

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Success! India's First Mars Probe Is In Orbit And Working

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 04:42

Scientists cheered and the prime minister congratulated his country on navigating "a route known to very few" to reach the Red Planet — something few other nations have accomplished.

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New Airstrikes Hit ISIS in Syria

NPR News - Wed, 2014-09-24 03:38

The new attacks on the self-declared Islamic State insurgency came ahead of President Obama's address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York about the threat from extremists.

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PODCAST: Paula Deen goes digital

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 03:00

First up, it may only be September, but we're getting our first holiday retail forecasts. These offer a glimpse into what analysts think we'll be spending this holiday season, and perhaps more importantly, reflect how we're feeling about the state of the economy. Plus, we've reporting this week on the Obama Administration's new crackdown on inversions. But what about what you might consider an "inversion" at the state level: moving headquarters across state lines to get a tax break. In those cases, it's often the government that's doing the bidding. And Southern cook Paula Deen is trying to make a comeback, launching a new online network of cooking shows today. Deen was one of the biggest names in food television until offensive remarks she made off screen became public last year. Her show was then canceled and she was dropped by sponsors. We take a look at her attempts to rebuild her brand.

#Scandal heads to #Twitter

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 02:00

Even if you don't watch the wildly popular television drama Scandal, you'd probably know of its popularity if you spent some time poking around Twitter. Aside from a huge television audience, the show is a favorite of the blue bird. With the season premiere coming Thursday of this week, we talked with Darby Stanchfield, better known as Abby Whelan on Scandal. And for the record, she has her very own hashtag: #SassyAbby.

Tell me about the community of Scandal fans on Twitter.

They’ve named themselves Gladiators. They’re super passionate. They’re smart. They’re funny. There’s not a thing that doesn’t get by them.

What’s an example of something that fans have caught that surprised you?

I used to have this signature coffee mug that I would use in my scenes, and one time I grabbed one of the company mugs that was in the kitchen area, and I think someone was like, “Wait a minute, where’s Abby’s mug that matches her hair?” Granted, every single series regular, and usually the creator, we’re all live-tweeting, whether we’re on set or we’re not working or at home.

Part of the contract.

You know it’s not, actually. We’re not paid to do it. Actually, Kerry Washington–it was her idea–and she talked to [series creator Shonda Rhimes] about it, and Shonda sent out this email that said we all needed to sign up on Twitter. We all did it, because our boss was asking us to, but it ended up being the most effective, grass-roots way to help the audience discover this crazy political drama called Scandal.

You have your own hashtag, #SASSYABBY.

One of the ways that I differentiate myself from the other cast-mates is I basically go into character during the live tweeting. And the way you know is I put my caps lock on and I just make snarky comments from Abby’s point of view.

How has the way that you think about being an actor changed because of Twitter? And how is your understanding of your own character shaped by the technology around you, even when you’re not on the set?

Twitter almost has the effect of a live theater event. You have an immediate interaction with the audience. You know when something lands and when it’s funny. When I’m on Twitter, there’s a visceral reaction immediately with the flood of tweets that come in about any given moment in my performance. And it’s as close as you can get to live theater with a television show. But in terms of my creative process or how I think about my character, I would say that’s still very traditional. I have my point of view, and I always find a way to love my character and tell that story.

Paula Deen buys back rights to her Food Network show

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-09-24 02:00

Southern cook Paula Deen is attempting a comeback by launching a new online cooking network on Wednesday.

Deen was one of the biggest names in food television until racist remarks she made off screen became public last year. As a result, the Food Network cut ties with her and she was dropped by sponsors. 

But before her racist remarks, Paula Deen was best known for her artery-clogging recipes, like the Lady’s Brunch Burger: a burger paddy stacked with a fried egg and bacon, sandwiched between two glazed donuts for buns. She gleefully described it as “over the top – even for me!”

Viewers eager for access to Deen’s old shows with said gems, plus some new content, can sign up to pay $8 to $10 a month for access to her new online network, launched by her Paula Deen Ventures with the backing of private investment firm Najafi Companies.

“About 15 percent of Americans do look up recipes online,” says Jerry Power, with the USC Marshall School of Business, adding the cook book market is also sizable. “So it’s a fairly stable and good sized market that she’s going after.”

But getting people to subscribe—controversy aside—could be a tough sell, since there’s already so many free sources of cooking shows and recipes, says Max Dawson, director of national television and video for Frank N. Magid Associates.

“Paula Deen’s audience, the sort of people who really love her, they’re not early adopters,” explains Dawson. “They’re not experimenting with new content distribution paradigms.”

Those who do could pay a similar amount for service like Netflix and getting lots more variety.

Paula Deen is far from the first celeb to start her own website. Here's a few other examples:

Preserve

Created—or "edited"—by Blake Lively, Preserve is like Etsy run through an Instagram filter and marketed to a much higher income tax bracket. It's structured like a lifestyle magazine and proceeds go to Lively's charity.

Funny or Die

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's video site has expanded into a media empire. Its big hits like "Billy on the Street" and "Drunk History" have been adapted for TV, and "Between Two Ferns" won an Emmy after an appearance from President Barack Obama.

Goop

Gwenyth Paltrow's lifestyle site also boasts recipes, a store and a blog, which made the news in March when Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin used the site to announce their "Conscious Uncoupling" (some call that a divorce).

Sarah Palin Channel

Another subscription service, the Sarah Palin Channel charges $9.95 a month or $99.95 for the year, but you view a national debt ticker and a countdown of Obama's days left in office for free.

Hello Giggles

Zooey Deschanel's site offers entertainment and lifestyle writing aimed at women, but everyone can enjoy their various live feeds of kittens, puppies, cicadas, owls and more.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Paula Deen's name in the headline. The text has been corrected.

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