National News

The meaning behind your favorite number

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 13:21

When we talk about numbers on Marketplace, we’re usually talking about their numerical value. But what about their cultural meaning?

That’s the subject of Barnaby Rogerson’s collection, “Rogerson's Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers -- from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World"

Here are a few examples from Rogerson:

Thirteen: Often known as an unlucky number – something Rogerson says is true around the world. But it’s also the number of states who rebelled against Britain in the 1770s. Coincidentally, it’s also the number of states recognized by the Confederacy as those rebelling against the Union in the 1860s.

Three: “My father-in-law is a banker who’s been watching the markets all his life ... and he always told me that three percent was the magical area of growth … and his job as a banker was to find out how people were getting more than three percent and how long they could sustain it before they were found out.”

Zero: Rogerson’s least favorite number. “You can’t list zeros … you can’t even list nothing-nesses.” Fun fact: The concept of zero or nothingness didn't get to the British Isles until the 16th century.

Forty-two: Rogerson’s favorite number. Many cultures assign special meaning to the number 42. But it’s also the answer to the Universe, according to Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

With Quakes Spiking, Oil Industry Is Under The Microscope In Oklahoma

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:51

Oil is big business in Oklahoma, and the industry has been a boon for many cities here. But there are concerns that techniques used for extracting oil are behind a surge in temblors in the state.

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Why nobody buys movie tickets online

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:16

Even before the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” opened last weekend, it was already a box-office leader for online movie ticket vendor Fandango. However, even for highly-anticipated movies, most tickets are still sold the old-fashioned way, at the box office. 

Price seems like an obvious barrier to wider adoption. Unlike buying a book from Amazon, buying a movie ticket online means the customer pays an extra surcharge.

An executive from a major theater chain disputes that customers prefer to avoid fees.

"Nothing in our testing or our research suggests that it is a barrier," says Brent Cooke, vice president for guest relations at AMC Theatres. Financial analysts disagree.

"You're only going to pay that surcharge if you're not going to get in otherwise," says Sucharita Mulparu, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Otherwise, why bother?"

While some movies with a lot of buzz do sell out, the typical movie-theater experience is more casual.

"People will walk up to a box office and say, ‘What do you want to see?'" says Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with Altimeter Group.

Lieb points out another barrier to selling more tickets online: Lots of movie goers are teenagers. "And they don't have credit cards," she says. 

Eventually, the industry will do what it takes to move all sales online, predicts Michael Pachter, an analyst with Forrester Research.

The customer data, he says, is too valuable to pass up.

"Do you think if we called up Disney, they could tell me whether you’ve seen Iron Man 1, 2 or 3 in the theater?" he says. "They have no idea."

If ticket sales were digital, they would have that information.

"That would give them the opportunity to sell you Iron Man on DVD, or sell you Iron Man merchandise for Halloween, or whatever," he says. "I think that's a bigger opportunity than just getting the ticket sale."

Hygiene, Honeypots, Espionage: 3 Approaches To Defying Hackers

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:12

The hack of insurer Anthem is one in a string of costly cyberattacks worldwide. In Silicon Valley and beyond, startups are taking very different approaches to helping companies outsmart the attackers.

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Just 55 Miles From ISIS Control, American Expats Carry On Life As Usual

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

The city of Erbil is not far from the front lines of a war, but for Americans living in this part of northern Iraq, the conflict may feel a world away.

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Hackers Pull Off Massive Cyber Bank Heist, Stealing As Much As $1B

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Audie Cornish speaks with reporter Mike Riley, who covers cybersecurity for Bloomberg Businessweek, about how hackers have infiltrated over 100 banks worldwide over the past two years.

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Egypt Urges The World To Back Its Retaliation To ISIS Killings

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Egypt is conducting airstrikes on positions held by the self-declared Islamic State in Libya, in response to a video apparently showing the militants' beheading of Egyptians on the Libyan coast.

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Quiz Time! Take A Guess At These Presidential Tech Firsts

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

On Presidents Day, we consider some presidential firsts when it comes to new technologies. Play along: Who was the first president to have a telephone? How about the first to ride on a steamboat?

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Science Standards Draw Climate Change Debate Back Into Wyo. Classrooms

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

So far, 13 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, but elsewhere these standards are causing controversy because of what they say about climate change. In Wyoming, reports Aaron Schrank, it's a particularly touchy issue.

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As Pakistan Turns Courts Over To Military, Some Fear Revival Of Army's Power

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Pakistan is returning to an old and dreaded practice: the formation of secret military courts to try people accused of threatening the county's security.

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Hopes Soar As Drone Enthusiasts Greet New Rule Proposal

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Drone enthusiasts are generally pleased with the long-awaited regulations proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday. They had feared the government would make them go to flight school.

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Climate Scientist Tries Arts To Stir Hearts Regarding Earth's Fate

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Physicist Robert Davies worked with a classical quartet and two visual artists to create a musical performance about climate change. The music and images, he says, help the information take hold.

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Female Libido Pill Fires Up Debate About Women And Sex

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 12:00

Is the FDA being sexist, or appropriately cautious in requiring stringent evidence that the latest pill works and is safe? Women's advocacy groups aren't sure.

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Talks Collapse, As Greece Rejects E.U. Bailout Deal

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 11:42

Four hours after they started, both parties walked out of the talks and reiterated their hard lines. Now, Greece's membership in the currency bloc is in question.

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Report: Using Malware, Hackers Steal Millions From Banks

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 10:37

According to a security company, hackers kept tabs on bank employees, transferred funds and then sent commands to ATMs to dispense cash at pre-determined times.

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Presidents Day Deal: Pass Our Quiz, Win Nothing

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 09:14

They've all helped create our nation, but do you know who they are?

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President's Day: A celebration of two wheels?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 08:51

It's President's Day! And, it's a day and a weekend when car dealers sell a whole lot of cars. But, long before minivans were decked in red, white and blue balloons, before TV ads featured one car special after another, President's Day was all about bicycles. 

According to The Atlantic, in the late 1800's Washington's birthday was celebrated with two wheels. Bicycle races ... bicycle sales ... it was the day the newest models of bicycles were unveiled. 

Which means we've been buying these symbols of personal freedom for a very long time.

PODCAST: The biggest bank robbery of all time?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 08:36

We're still learning about a sweeping, year-long heist revealed by a Russian cyber security firm Monday. Hackers reportedly got away with up to $1 billion from the various banks by pulling little bits from about 100 banks over time. We chatted with one expert about how much a breach could have gone unnoticed. Then, the U.S. is trying to catch up on tech training, and apprenticeships could be the answer. Labor secretary Thomas Perez calls them "the other college, but without the debt." Finally: very few people buy movie tickets online, but industry watchers are looking to change that because the opportunities for data collection might be too good to pass up.

It's good to be a former president

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-16 07:14
$1,287,000

That's what the U.S. Government's General Services Administration allotted President George W. Bush for Fiscal Year 2014, Vox reported. That total includes office space, health care and other services — on top of the $201,700 all four living presidents receive annually.

Courtesy:Vox 2016

Speaking of presidents, the New York Times has made a handy, interactive scorecard for likely 2016 candidates. It rounds up the each candidates progress and parses through the currently crowded Republican field. 

100

The number of banks implicated in a sweeping, year-long heist revealed by a Russian cyber security firm Monday. Hackers reportedly got away with up to $1 billion from the various banks. We chatted with one expert about how much a breach could have gone unnoticed.

$90.7 million

The predicted box office take for "Fifty Shades of Grey" from Thursday night to Monday, the New York Times reported. It's a strong opening – among the highest for an erotic film, an R-rated film and a film directed by a woman – and it has potential to shift attitudes in Hollywood about all three types of movies. Not bad for what was once "Twilight" fan fiction.

$44 million

That's how much Colorado made from taxing recreational marijuana in 2014, the Associated Press reported. The market is still in flux, and the state got a bump from tourism last year, but it's an encouraging sign for legalization supporters, especially taking into account the additional $32 million in taxes Colorado from medical marijuana.

$30 billion

The approximate value of chocolate company Ferrero SpA, the Wall Street Journal reported. Company founder and Italy's richest man, Michele Ferrero, died over the weekend at 89. Ferrero gave the world Tic Tacs, Kinder eggs and most notably Nutella.

Winter Storm Brings Rain, Ice, Snow Across Country's Midsection

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-16 07:11

After the storm rakes its way across the South and Mid-Atlantic, it will likely take aim at New England, which has already experienced a record-setting winter.

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