National / International News

Praised for pointing a gun

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:38
Israeli soldier wins plaudits for pointing his gun at teenager

Traveling to space? There's an agent for that

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:31
Friday, May 2, 2014 - 10:21 Sanden Totten

Travel agent Jay Johnson holds a model of the ship Virgin Galactic plans to use to take tourists into space.

Jay Johnson is a travel agent to the stars ... or at least to sub-orbit.

He's what Virgin Galactic calls an ASA or "accredited space agent." That means Johnson is authorized to sell tickets to Virgin Galactic's planned space tourism experience.

The company plans to send six passengers at a time to suborbital space in its vehicle dubbed SpaceshipTwo.

Once there, tourists will float weightlessly for several minutes before returning to Earth.

"It's the ultimate icebreaker," Johnson says of his job. "I can’t walk into a room anywhere without bringing it up. It’s not just about selling the tickets; it’s just fun to talk about."

Johnson also runs Coastline Travel Advisors, a luxury travel business based in Garden Grove. He was selected, along with around 100 other travel agents, to help sell seats for Virgin Galactic.

They were educated on the basics of space travel, from flight technology to zero gravity conditions.

Over the last seven years, Johnson has sold eight tickets. It may not sound like a lot, but each seat sells for $250,000.

Future astronauts

Finding buyers hasn’t always been easy.

“In the early stages, ... we had no clue who the clients would be,” says Lynda Turley Garrett, an ASA in the Bay Area.

She’s tried marketing at science-themed events, travel expos, museums, even at luxury car dealers.

It’s not like selling other adventure vacations, she says, in part because Virgin doesn’t even have an official launch date. The company says it could start flights by the end of 2014.

Still, between the two of them, Turley Garrett and Johnson have sold to a techie from Silicon Valley, a real estate broker from Columbus, a 70-year-old South Korean retiree and a few celebrities who wish to remain anonymous.

Also in that group, is Josh Resnick, a video-game developer from Brentwood, and his 79-year-old mother, Rheta.

"Even talking about it I get excited" Josh Resnick says.

For him, the allure of being one of the first civilians in space was a big draw.

For his mother, Rheta, it was the chance to do something she dreamed of as a kid, but didn't think would be possible.

"When I was born, there was no television, ... no real washing machines. So we’ve come a long way," she says.

Challenges remain

The space tourism industry has made remarkable progress in recent years, says Dirk Gibson, a professor at the University of New Mexico and author of the ebook "Commercial Space Tourism: Impediments to Industrial Development and Strategic Communication Solutions."

"I think we are closer now than we ever have been," he says.

But, he adds, there are several hurdles ahead for Virgin Galactic and other companies looking to sell space-based travel experiences.

For instance, they have technical issues to work out, and they still need to secure Federal Aviation Administration approval for flights.

Greg Autry, an adjunct professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, says safety is also a concern. "Unproven complex technical systems are subject to failure," he notes. "As we've seen in the commercial aviation business, ... things do go wrong."

That’s partly why Virgin is taking so long to finalize a launch date. A spokesman says the company won’t send people up until it can minimize safety risks.

Still, both Autry and Gibson think this industry will continue to grow.

Ticket to ride

Another barrier for most people is the $250,ooo price tag for a Virgin Galactic flight.

Jay Johnson, though, has an opportunity to bypass that fee. The company has offered ASAs like him a free ride if they sell 10 tickets total. Johnson, with eight customers so far, is almost there.

But he says, if he hits the goal, he probably won't use the ticket himself.

"I honestly think I am going to donate it. Because I would love to go. But I’ll wait my turn until I can afford it."

In the meantime, he’ll keep working the phones, showing up at travel expos, and scouring Southern California for people with a dream of flying to space -- and a couple hundred thousand dollars to spare.

Marketplace for Friday May 2, 2014Four ways to make money in spaceby Sanden Totten Podcast Title Traveling to space? There's an agent for thatSyndication SlackerSoundcloudStitcherSwellPMPApp Respond No

Froome second in Tour de Romandie

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:18
Defending champion Chris Froome finishes second after a sprint finish in stage three of the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland.

When A Yoga Teacher Ticks You Off, Is It Rude to Walk Out?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:13

The reasons we go to yoga are many, from building strength to finding calm. But a teacher's style might add to your stress level. Is it OK to abandon class? Or are there reasons to stick it out?

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Matt Smith set for Terminator reboot

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:09
Paramount Pictures announce Matt Smith is to star opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the reboot of the terminator franchise.

Jezki beats Hurricane at Punchestown

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:03
Jezki repeats his Cheltenham triumph over Hurricane Fly as AP McCoy secures another big-race win at Punchestown.

Rock-Paper-Scissors Strategy Could Be More Than Mere Child's Play

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 09:03

Scientists have found that the game is less random than it appears because winners tend to replay their winning choice and losers try something else — but according to a predictable pattern.

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Charity cancer teen leaves hospital

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:50
Cancer patient Stephen Sutton, who has raised more than £3m for the Teenage Cancer Trust, is discharged from hospital.

Author Sue Townsend's funeral held

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:49
The funeral of author Sue Townsend is held in Leicester with colleagues from the literary world paying tribute to her.

Landslide In Afghanistan Reportedly Leaves Hundreds Missing

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:25

Officials say scores of people are missing and presumed dead after the slide buried a village in the mountainous northeastern province of Badakhshan.

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Sinn Fein Leader's Arrest Ignites Debate Over Academic Freedom

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:22

Gerry Adams was arrested in Northern Ireland in connection with a 1972 killing. Some of the case evidence is from a Boston College oral history project in which participants were promised anonymity.

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10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:16
There's a hidden code in every Pixar movie, plus other factlets

A vast wasteland without Chandler Bing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:13

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of May 5, 2014:

We ease into the week with Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Did you know that more beer is sold for Cinco de Mayo than for the Super Bowl?

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on international trade for March.

The series finale of the TV show "Friends" aired on May 6, 2004.

Also, if you see someone in need of directions or a restaurant recommendation, help 'em out. It's National Tourist Appreciation Day.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its monthly consumer credit report.

On May 7, 1824, in Vienna, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premiered.

Let's get back to tourism for a sec. On Thursday, a hearing in the Senate looks at a plan to attract 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021.

On Friday, the Commerce Department reports on wholesale inventories and sales for March.

And on May 9, 1961, then FCC chairman Newton Minow referred to television as a vast wasteland. (Talk about a wasteland, it's been an entire decade since "Friends" was on the air.)

Aberdeen changes baby ash procedures

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:06
Aberdeen City Council changes its processes for the cremation of children ahead of a Scotland wide report on infant cremations.

US pushes South Sudan rivals to talk

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:05
South Sudan's president has agreed to hold direct talks to end the conflict in the country with his rival, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

Weekendish: Travelling fast and slow

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 08:00
Some of the best from the website this week

Are archaeological digs a thing of the past?

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 07:57
Are archaeological digs a thing of the past?

Dutch release Pim Fortuyn's killer

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 07:57
The Dutch authorities release the man who murdered the flamboyant anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002, now that he has served 11 years in jail.

Appeal over halting of fraud trial

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 07:53
A decision to halt a fraud trial because the defendants said legal aid cuts meant they could not find a barrister is to be challenged.

Killers who buried man alive jailed

BBC - Fri, 2014-05-02 07:49
A woman, her former lover and his friend are jailed for life for murdering her fiance, who was stabbed repeatedly and buried alive.
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