National News

Backlash To Facebook Buying Virtual Reality Firm Comes Swiftly

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:30

Facebook's purchase of Oculus VR is only a day old, but the founders are already defending themselves against threats of abandonment by game developers.

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That Health Insurance Deadline Now Comes With Wiggle Room

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:21

President Obama often said that March 31 was the hard deadline to sign up for individual health insurance. But it turns out it's not so hard. Here's the latest on that slightly squishy deadline.

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Protesters Want To Sue Secret Service: Do They Have The Right?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:00

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday about whether the Secret Service can be sued for a 2004 incident in which agents ordered police to move demonstrators away from President George W. Bush.

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Secret Service Under High Court Scrutiny For Potential First Amendment Violations

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:00

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case testing whether the Secret Service, in restraining certain demonstrators and not others, violated the protesters' First Amendment rights.

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With Elections Days Away, Suicide Bombs Sow Fear In Kabul

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:00

Taliban attacks have rocked some of Kabul's most guarded locations just days before Afghans vote in national elections, generating fear among foreigners and many Afghans connected to the vote.

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Unanimous Jury Convicts Al-Qaida Propagandist In Manhattan

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:00

Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, a top propagandist for al-Qaida, has been convicted. The verdict supports the Obama administration's claim that federal criminal courts are ready to hear terrorism cases.

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Washington State's 'Slide Hill' Has A History Of Landslides

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:00

Robert Siegel speaks with Seattle Times reporter Ken Armstrong about the instability of the land in Snohomish County in Washington that was affected by the massive mudslide.

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In Brussels, Obama Seeks Broader Support For Ukraine

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 12:00

President Obama is visiting the European Union and NATO headquarters in Brussels for talks that will likely be dominated by Russia and Afghanistan.

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Egypt's Defense Minister Says He Will Run For President

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 11:48

Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says that he's resigned his military post and will run for president in July elections.

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Labor Board Rules Northwestern University Players Are Employees

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 11:40

The decision means the players can vote to unionize and has the potential to revolutionize the way college athletics work.

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Let's give a hand to the X-ray

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-26 11:08

From the Marketplace Datebook, here’s a look at what’s coming up Thursday:  

  • In Washington, the Labor Department releases its final fourth-quarter gross domestic product report.
  • President Obama continues his spring trip with a visit to Vatican City where he's scheduled to meet with His Holiness Pope Francis.
  • The National Association of Realtors releases its February pending home sales index.
  • And speaking of homes, Graceland, home to Elvis Presley, was declared a national historic landmark eight years ago.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee discusses "Strengthening the Federal Student Loan Program for Borrowers."
  • On March 27, 1998, the FDA approved Viagra.
  • Lastly, physicist and Nobel Laureate Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born on March 27, 1845. While working with electromagnetic radiation he took a picture of his wife's hand revealing her bones. Fortunately, they weren't broken. Voila, the first X-ray!

New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 11:01

The tiny world is a pink-hued ball of ice in an area of space once thought to be relatively empty. But the new findings hint of other small objects — and perhaps an unseen planet bigger than Earth.

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Movie theaters move beyond the ticket price

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:50

The president of the National Association of Theater Owners, John Fithian, just announced plans to test the idea of offering discounted movie tickets one day a week. He said he is working with one state in particular -- but wouldn't name it. Box office attendance is on the decline in this country, and yet, at the same time, box office revenue hit an all-time high in 2013.

The simple explanation is that fewer people are going to the movies, but they are paying more for their tickets. Mostly we're talking about 3-D movies, which are more expensive. But higher ticket prices aren't necessarily great news for theater owners. Theaters have to share box office revenue with studios, says business professor William Greene of the Stern School of Business at NYU.

So it's not always in their best interest to raise ticket prices. And for the most part they haven't. When adjusted for inflation, seeing a movie today isn't much more expensive than it was decades ago.

"Most of the revenue theater owners make is through concessions and ancillary revenues," says *Abraham Ravid. That ancillary revenue includes money that theaters are now charging studios to show trailers for upcoming films, like Divergent.

 

Because tickets are already relatively cheap, a discount day probably would not raise attendance dramatically, but it could be a good marketing strategy. Ravid says: "Nevertheless, you would expect the decline in theater attendance will continue as more ways of delivering movies become available."

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Abraham Ravid's name. The text has been corrected.

For movie theaters, the price of a ticket really isn't the point

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:50

The president of the National Association of Theater Owners, John Fithian, just announced plans to test the idea of offering discounted movie tickets one day a week. He said he is working with one state in particular -- but wouldn't name it. Box office attendance is on the decline in this country and yet at the same time box office revenue hit an all-time high in 2013.

The simple explanation is that fewer people are going to the movies, but they are paying more for their tickets. Mostly we're talking about 3D movies, which are more expensive. But higher ticket prices aren't necessarily great news for theater owners. Theaters have to share box office revenue with studios, says business professor William Greene of the Stern School of Business at NYU.

So it's not always in their best interest to raise ticket prices. And for the most part they haven't. When adjusted for inflation, seeing a movie today isn't much more expensive than it was decades ago.

"Most of the revenue theater owners make is through concessions and ancillary revenues," says Abraham Rabid. That ancillary revenue includes money that theaters are now charging studios to show trailers for upcoming films, like Divergent.

 

Because tickets are already relatively cheap, a discount day probably would not raise attendance dramatically, but it could be a good marketing strategy, Rabid says "Nevertheless, you would expect the decline in theater attendance will continue as more ways of delivering movies become available."

Are college football players employees?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:45

In a decision by the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, football players at Northwestern University are now recognized as employees of the university and are able to hold union elections.

Peter Sung Ohr, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago explained the ruling in a statement:

 "The record makes clear that the Employer's scholarship players are identified and recruited in the first instance because of their football prowess and not because of their academic achievement in high school."

Ohr gave the rationale that the players are employees because they receive compensation in the form of scholarships. He said the players are subject to the employer's control in their performance, which directly benefits the university.

This is consistent with the history of the NCAA, which didn’t start paying players until the 1940s, according to sports economists.

"At the beginning of the NCAA, in 1905, they stipulated no scholarships at all because scholarships were a form of compensation," said Andrew Zimbalist at Smith College.

Zimbalist said that the ruling only applies to private colleges, so it doesn't apply for the majority of schools in the highest levels of college football, since most of those institutions are state universities.

Zimbalist said that if the players at Northwestern do unionize, then the NCAA will disqualify them on the grounds that college athletics are amateur. However, he said the possibility of unionization comes with other benefits.

"Say they want a cost of living adjustment or they want to have catastrophic injury insurance for those players who are injured and can't go on to play in the pros," said Zimbalist. "Then they could stay within the NCAA rules and presumably they could then trigger other universities that are private to unionize and asks for the same thing."

Northwestern has announced that it will appeal the ruling to the entire National Labor Relations Board in Washington.

The Sometimes Tricky Relations Between Popes And Presidents

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:35

For decades, U.S. presidents have sought an audience with the pope, and President Obama will have one Thursday. But this wasn't always the case, and often there have been political differences.

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A 'Silent Killer' Returns: Live Chat With Filmmaker On Fighting TB

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:32

PBS traveled to the epicenter of a terrifying epidemic. We're chatting with the film's maker to learn how the world can stop drug-resistant tuberculosis.

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Map Warns Of Patches Susceptible To Landslides

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:30

The deadly mudslide in Washington occurred in an area that was seen as vulnerable. The U.S. Geological Survey maintains data on areas at risk of landslides.

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U.S. is running low on some basic medicines

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:25

The drip, drip of IV fluid at hospitals, the drug doctors give people having heart attacks and medicines for cancer patients are all in short supply.

“On any given day we’re tracking usually 300 drug products that are in shortage,” said Cynthia Reilly with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

She says, right now, the shortage of IV fluid is at the top of everyone’s critical list.

“It’s almost, really like not having access to water,” Reilly says. 

 “When we run out of absolute basics, like we’re running out of now, that’s when things get really frustrating,” said Erin Fox, director of drug information at the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics.

According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, the number of shortages tripled between 2007 and 2012. Sixty percent of the shortages are generic drugs, which are cheaper drugs.

“Drug manufacturing, in the U.S., is a business,” Fox says. “No company has an obligation to make any product, no matter how essential it is for patients.”

The FDA reports the number of new shortages has been falling since new rules went into place in 2012. But, says Capt. Valerie Jensen, associate director of the drug shortage program at the FDA, “some shortages are just not able to be avoided.”

Basic drug shortages are hard to fathom in a wealthy country like the U.S., but some of these drugs are produced by only one or two companies.

When a manufacturing line shuts down, or demand goes up, supplies run low.

Therapists' Apps Aim To Help With Mental Health Issues

NPR News - Wed, 2014-03-26 10:20

There are lots of apps out there that claim to improve your mental health, but precious few have actually been tested to see if they work. Psychologists are starting to give that a try.

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