National / International News

Obama to set out US vision in speech

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 11:30
US President Barack Obama will propose tax hikes on the rich to help working families, in his annual State of the Union address to Congress.

Supreme Court Rules For Muslim Inmate In Prison Beard Case

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-20 11:30

The court said a ban on beards violated the prisoner's religious freedom. The state of Arkansas had argued that the beard presented security concerns and that it could be used to hide contraband.

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Folk rock musician 'abused girl, 11'

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 11:29
A folk rock musician who found fame in the 1970s goes on trial accused of sex offences against an 11-year-old girl.

Obama Joins Ike, The Gipper, Bill And George II In A Club No One Wants To Be In

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-20 11:15

Clinton began his seventh year with a unique if dubious distinction: He was the only president ever to give a State of the Union speech with impeachment charges pending against him in the Senate.

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Bosses ‘less optimistic’ on economy

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 11:13
Chief executives are less optimistic about the economy this year than last, a survey unveiled at the World Economic Forum by PwC suggests.

Game-show winner pulls back the curtain on prizes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:56

That's me, at the red position, talking to Pat Sajak on "Wheel of Fortune," during an episode in April 2014. I've taken my fair share of cash and prizes from three different game shows, $77,421 worth of stuff by my count. 

After doing my fair share of winning – and losing – I started to wonder where all the money come from, in the off-chance that this bit of trivia shows up in my question stack when I inevitably try my hand at "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." 

Art Alisi, president of Promotional Considerations, Inc., offers an answer. The network "may give them, let's say, $50,000 a week for their prize budget," he says. "And the show wants to give away $150,000, so they have to use the fee spots, and that brings them the extra revenue that they're looking for." 

These fee spots are usually shown at the end of the show, and the revenue from these spots is funneled into the weekly prize budget. 

Because "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!" have been the top two game shows in syndication since roughly forever, they command a high price for these 10-second promotions. The typical going rate for one of those spots is $15,000, Alisi says.

While that money is used to pay for any cash prizes given away, the show can also use the funds to buy other material prizes, like cars. Buying prizes is common on "The Price is Right," which made it difficult for Alisi to secure cars when he worked for the original "Hollywood Squares" in the '60s and '70s, he says. In those days, shows could easily obtain cars for free from dealers, he says. After "The Price is Right" debuted in 1972, other shows had a hard time obtaining cars, because it was more lucrative for the dealers to sell a car to "The Price is Right," which typically offers two or three cars per show, instead of contracting out a car to another show. 

"So now we have to buy the cars, unless we do a special promotion with somebody," Alisi says. "Most of the time we have to buy the cars, we have to figure that as a cost. And we work with the different dealers, so we usually get it at their cost." 

But the shows don't buy every prize you see on the air. Trips, for example, are almost never purchased but are obtained via contract, as former "Wheel of Fortune" prize coordinator Adam Nedeff explains. That involves cold-calling hotels and airlines and making a detailed sales pitch. "At the time, we would contract them for two trips. The first trip was for the 'Prize Puzzle,' a guaranteed win," he says. The second would go to a viewer who played along from home.

Accepting a prize, or not, is up to the contestant. 

Shows give contestants the option to forfeit prizes, and I took advantage of that after I had my "Price is Right" showcase handed to me on a silver platter.

My big prize was a five-hour private jet flight, valued at $25,000, that came with all sorts of stipulations — the plane would only take me 2½ hours outside of Los Angeles, then 2½ back. I had to spend at least two days in my destination before returning home and any expenses incurred in my destination city were my responsibility.... 

To save myself the headache, I just forfeited the prize. I didn't get anything in return, and I couldn't have sold the plane ticket even if I did accept it. But I also didn't have to pay taxes on that prize. 

Prizes that aren't accepted are a good deal for the show. That five-hour private jet trip I forfeited went back in the show's inventory. If the show wants to, the prize can be offered again, although it might be packaged differently.

"Maybe then, next time they do it, they’ll give you a hotel in Vegas. So now the prize becomes $30,000 — and they already have the credits since you forfeited the prize," Alisi says.

Then again, if you can't use the prize (as long as it's not a trip, where you have to be one of the two people taking it),  you might know someone who can — as eight-time game show contestant Dan Avila did after he won six pairs of women's shoes on "Sale of the Century" in the '70s. 

Forecasting Tuesday's State of the Union address

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:38

President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday night at the Capital. It will be the first time Obama has delivered a State of the Union address to a Republican-led Congress.

"What he can be proudest of and what he’s probably going to point to tonight is the job market," says Marketplace’s David Gura. "Last month, the economy added 252,000 jobs. The unemployment rate is at 5.6 percent, these are good metrics – metrics that the American people like."

In the past few weeks, President Barack Obama has previewed some of the main ideas that will be presented in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address: tax reform, income inequality, and paid parental leave, to name a few.

"I was struck as he gave these speeches by how much he’s focused on what the administration has done already," says Gura. "His hands have been tied over these last few years, he has not done a lot with Congress. So a lot of what we’ve heard are things he’s talked about a lot, I don’t expect he’s going to stop talking about them. I think he’s hoping that American’s appetites for things like that will grow now."

Tonight will be the second-to-last time President Obama will take part in the annual presidential address to Congress, plus the millions of people watching at home. 

X-rays 'read' burnt Vesuvius scroll

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:36
An X-ray scanning technique allows physicists to read letters from a fragile, burnt scroll dug from beneath Mount Vesuvius - without unrolling it.

Allenby withdraws after 'kidnapping'

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:29
Australian Robert Allenby pulls out of the Humana Challenge event after apparently being kidnapped and assaulted in Hawaii.

Ukraine accuses Russia of attack

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:26
The Ukrainian military accuses Russia of attacking its forces with regular troops as fighting in eastern Ukraine spreads towards the Russian border.

VIDEO: Treasury Committee

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:24
MPs question Chancellor George Osborne on more powers for Scotland.

Dozens killed in Syria air strike

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 10:04
Dozens of people are killed in a suspected Syrian government air strike on a village held by Islamic State in eastern Syria, activists say.

Worker killed in barn fall accident

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:52
A man in his 50s dies and another man is seriously injured in an accident at a farm near Craigavon, County Armagh.

Pope Francis quotes: Six of the best

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:47
Pope Francis in his own words

Cipriani set to receive England call

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:46
Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter are poised to be included in the England training squad for the Six Nations opener against Wales.

LRA leader on way to Hague court

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:45
A Lords Resistance Army (LRA) leader, Dominic Ongwen, is on his way to The Hague from Africa to face war crimes charges.

Pope Francis Says Catholics Don't Need To Breed 'Like Rabbits'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:41

On his return from a week-long trip to Asia, Pope Francis emphasized the church's ban on artificial means of birth control and said Catholics should practice "responsible parenthood."

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VIDEO: Apology for playground tear gas

BBC - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:40
The Kenyan government has apologised after tear gas was fired at children who were protesting over the sale of their playground to a private developer.

4 Linked To Paris Attack Appear In French Court

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:23

The four men, all in their 20s, are accused of providing logistical support to Ahmed Coulibaly, the gunman who took hostages at a Kosher supermarket during the Jan. 7-9 Paris attacks.

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Barbie Has Some Royal Competition In Nigeria

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-20 09:23

The Queens of Africa are based on Nigeria's three largest groups — Igbo, Yuruba and Hausa — and each has traits meant to empower the girls who play with them.

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