Business

Science
1:17 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Are Humans Really Headed To Mars Anytime Soon?

Mars, anyone? Six researchers from the Mars Society sport their best space duds during this 2014 simulation of the conditions that explorers of the Red Planet might face. (From left) Ian Silversides, Anastasiya Stepanova, Alexandre Mangeot and Claude-Michel Laroche.
Micke Sebastien Paris Match via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 7:15 am

With recent news headlines proclaiming that dozens of people have been selected as finalists for a Martian astronaut corps, it might seem like a trip to this alien world might finally be close at hand.

But let's have a little reality check. What are the chances that we really will see people on the Red Planet in the next couple of decades?

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All Tech Considered
4:33 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

What Cockroaches With Backpacks Can Do. Ah-mazing

An attempt to build the perfect cockroach cyborg.
Carlos Sanchez, Ph.D. student of Mechanical Engineering, Texas A&M University

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 6:01 pm

Cockroaches are widely despised. They're attracted to filth. They frighten people, even give them nightmares.

But for a team of scientists at Texas A&M University, the roach is a hero: the first animal that humans might successfully transform into a robot, a hybrid of insect and machine that we can send anywhere to be our eyes and ears.

The Perfect Roach

Professor Hong Liang opens the door to a small laboratory with hundreds, maybe thousands, of cockroaches. It's not for the faint of heart.

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U.S.
3:36 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

FEMA's Appeals Process Favored Insurance Companies Almost Every Time

Doug Quinn's ranch house in Toms River, N.J., was heavily damaged by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. His insurance company gave him half the value of his home and when he appealed, FEMA sided with the insurance company.
Hansi Lo Wang NPR

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 1:15 pm

FEMA has taken the unprecedented step of reopening all Superstorm Sandy flood claims because thousands of homeowners said insurance companies intentionally lowballed damage estimates.

Similar allegations surfaced in 2004 after Hurricane Isabel struck the Mid-Atlantic. To answer critics then, FEMA formalized an appeals process.

That appeals process has gone against Sandy victims almost every time, statistics show.

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Parallels
1:23 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Excitement Over Mexico's Shale Fizzles As Reality Sets In

A platform owned by Mexico's state-run oil company Pemex is seen off the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico. The country has recently opened up its energy sector to foreign investors.
Victor Ruiz Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 6:01 pm

The prolific shale formation that has made people rich in South Texas doesn't stop at the Rio Grande, as U.S. maps seem to indicate.

"The geology doesn't change when you cross that little 20-foot-deep river," says Brandon Seale, president of San Antonio-based Howard Energy Mexico. "What goes on 10,000 feet under the river is the exact same."

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The Two-Way
11:27 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Elton John Leads Boycott Against Dolce & Gabbana Over 'Synthetic Children' Remarks

Stefano Gabbana (left) and Domenico Dolce, seen here during the recent Milan Fashion Week, are being criticized for remarks about same-sex families, sparking a boycott led by musician Elton John.
Daniel Dal Zennaro EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 11:43 pm

Fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are locked in a very public argument with musician Elton John over their recent remarks condemning in vitro fertilization and saying same-sex couples should not raise children.

After John called for a boycott of the designers' clothes, Gabbana defended his right to air an opinion and urged people to shun the singer, responding to John's Instagram post by commenting, "Fascist!!"

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The Salt
10:24 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Looks Matter: A Century Of Iconic Food Packaging

Ariel Zambelich/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 11:49 am

We take the packaging our food comes in for granted. Yet many of the boxes, bags and bottles that protect our edibles were once groundbreaking — both in their design and in how they changed our perception of what's inside. Sometimes, packaging is so distinctive, it transforms food from mere consumer product to cultural icon. As Stephen Heller, author of more than 100 books on design and popular culture, says, "Coca-Cola is not a bottle of soda — it's Coca-Cola."

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All Tech Considered
9:12 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Pew: Nearly One-Third Of Americans Hide Information Online

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 2:30 pm

Almost a third of Americans have taken steps to hide or shield their information online since Edward Snowden publicized National Security Agency surveillance practices.

But as a country, we're deeply divided — nearly 50-50 — over whether to be concerned about massive government surveillance. And while there are signs that privacy is a partisan issue, it's not partisan in the way you might think.

All that is according to the latest privacy study by the Pew Research Center.

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Architecture
1:09 am
Mon March 16, 2015

With Sunny, Modern Homes, Joseph Eichler Built The Suburbs In Style

After World War II, developer Joseph Eichler built well-designed and well-crafted tract homes that dotted California suburbs.
Stephen Schafer

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 7:04 pm

In Palm Springs, Calif., a $1 million home was just built — with plans resurrected from 1951. The original sold for about $15,000, and was called an Eichler, after developer Joseph Eichler, who offered well-designed, well-built tract homes to the masses a half-century ago.

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Business
5:57 am
Sun March 15, 2015

Airlines Are Not The Best At Estimating Flight Times

Originally published on Sun March 15, 2015 9:03 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Fifty-two.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: 11:53.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Twenty-five.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: 6.115

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Business
3:29 am
Sun March 15, 2015

Smell Something Different At The Gym? It Might Not Be What You Think

The weight training center at Anytime Fitness in Michigan in December. The company started using scent marketing four years ago.
Danielle Duval MLive.com/Landov

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 11:06 am

Eric Spangenberg knows he's too old for Abercrombie and Fitch. He knows as soon as he smells it.

The store's signature fragrance, Fierce, is a mixture of citrus and musk. It's a combination that Spangenberg, 55, says is clearly targeted toward a specific demographic: a young one.

It's called scent marketing — when a business chooses a specific scent to attract customers and boost sales, and it has become widely popular in the last several years, he says.

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The Salt
3:24 am
Sun March 15, 2015

The Fate Of The World's Chocolate Depends On This Spot In Rural England

Rows of potted cocoa plants from around the world. Before a cocoa variety from one country can be planted in another, it first makes a pit stop here, at a quarantine center in rural England.
Courtesy of Dr. Andrew J. Daymond

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 11:49 am

Walk into a row of greenhouses in rural Britain, and a late English-winter day transforms to a swampy, humid tropical afternoon. You could be in Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa, which is exactly how cocoa plants like it.

"It's all right this time of year. It gets a bit hot later on in the summer," says greenhouse technician Heather Lake as she fiddles with a tray of seedlings — a platter of delicate, spindly, baby cocoa plants.

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The Seams
6:25 am
Sat March 14, 2015

How The Luxury Fashion Industry Became All Business

Models walk the catwalk in March 2009 during one of Alexander McQueen's last shows, Ready-to-Wear Autumn/Winter 2009, in Paris. McQueen was one of several fashion designers elevated to prominence by Bernard Arnault, the French tycoon who transformed the business of high fashion.
Pascal Le Segretain Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 4:31 am

Fashion Week looks glamorous, but as it drew to a close in Paris last Wednesday — following shows in New York, London and Milan — it became clear that the runway has become a racetrack.

The pace of the multibillion-dollar fashion industry has changed in recent years from luxurious to laborious. Even the seasons have accelerated.

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The Salt
6:25 am
Sat March 14, 2015

The Family Peach Farm That Became A Symbol Of The Food Revolution

Mas Masumoto grew up on his family farm southeast of Fresno, Calif. His 1987 essay "Epitaph for A Peach," in which he bemoaned the loss of heirloom flavors, captured his changing philosophy as a farmer. It also helped turn his farm into a landmark in the local-food movement.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 11:50 am

In the heart of California's Central Valley, a vast expanse of orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields, lies a small collection of aging peach trees. Farmer Mas Masumoto's decision to preserve those trees, and then to write about it, became a symbol of resistance to machine-driven food production.

Yet the Masumoto farm's story isn't just one of saving peaches. It's become a father-daughter saga of claiming, abandoning, and then re-claiming a piece of America's agricultural heritage.

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Business
4:05 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Lumber Liquidators Defends Its Products After '60 Minutes' Report

A man walks past a Lumber Liquidators store in Philadelphia. The retailer says it stands by its products and will pay for the safety testing of laminate floors.
Matt Slocum AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 6:00 pm

Earlier this month, the flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators got the kind of attention companies dread. CBS' 60 Minutes did a story saying the company's products have unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

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Code Switch
1:03 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

North Carolina Looking Into 'Black Tax' At Charlotte's Ritz-Carlton

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper in 2010.
Jim R. Bounds AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 4:30 pm

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has directed his Department of Consumer Affairs to look into reports that some African-American customers at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte were recently subjected to unwarranted fees.

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Shots - Health News
10:22 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Credit Agencies Agree To Wait Before Adding Medical Debt To Ratings

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 6:41 am

Too many consumers have learned the hard way that their credit rating can be tarnished by medical bills they may not owe or when disputes delay insurer payment. That should change under a new policy agreed to this week by the three major credit reporting agencies.

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The Two-Way
9:18 am
Fri March 13, 2015

France Wins Battle Against Belgium's Plan For A Waterloo Coin

Belgium's plan to honor the Battle of Waterloo displeased France. In this photo, an enthusiast dressed as a member of the French army stands next to a cannon before the re-enactment of the famous battle.
Thierry Roge Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 4:54 pm

Many are calling it the second battle over Waterloo — and this time, France won. A two-euro coin commemorating the bicentennial of Napoleon Bonaparte's defeat will not be widely released, after France objected to what it called a "negative symbol."

From Brussels, Teri Schultz reports for NPR:

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Sports
5:56 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Does NCAA Ban On Paying Student Athletes Violate Federal Law?

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Movies
3:40 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Kenneth Branagh Directs Live-Action Version Of 'Cinderella' For Disney

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Well, let's talk about Disney then. This weekend, it's looking to cast a spell with a new live-action version of its classic "Cinderella."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CINDERELLA")

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Sports
2:22 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Mayweather, Pacquiao Will Brawl For Boxing's Richest Purse Ever

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) and Manny Pacquiao pose for photos after a news conference in Los Angeles. The two are scheduled to fight in Las Vegas on May 2.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 8:28 am

There's some disagreement — even between the match's promoters — on where the upcoming mega-fight will rank in the greatest bouts of all time.

Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. and Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao — two of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world — meet May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a welterweight world championship unification bout.

Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, calls it "the biggest event in the history of boxing."

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All Tech Considered
4:14 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Silicon Prairie: Tech Startups Find A Welcoming Home In The Midwest

Lincoln, Neb., is home to several startups, which use the city's low cost of living and high quality of life to attract workers.
Nicolas Henderson Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:50 am

Some startup entrepreneurs are leaving the high tech hot spots of San Francisco, New York and the Silicon Valley for greener pastures in a place that actually has greener pastures: Lincoln, Neb.

In fact, one of the secrets to the economic success of Lincoln, a city with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is a surprisingly strong tech startup community that is part of what some in the region are calling the Silicon Prairie.

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The Salt
4:14 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

A Craft Beer Tax Battle Is Brewing On Capitol Hill

Brewers pay a federal tax on each barrel of beer they produce. Two proposals on Capitol Hill would lower that tax for small brewers, but not everyone's on board.
Steve Helber AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:49 am

Congressman Patrick McHenry is a man who knows his beer. The refrigerator in his Capitol Hill office is filled to the brim with it. The Republican's district includes the city of Asheville, N.C., which claims it has more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city.

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Business
4:06 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Obama, Unions On Opposite Sides Of The (Fast) Track For Trade Deals

Shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles. Unions are stepping up their efforts to thwart White House plans for passing foreign trade deals on a "fast track" through Congress.
Nick Ut AP

This week, labor leaders made sure President Obama knows that when it comes to foreign trade, they are living on opposite sides of the track — the "fast track," that is.

That's a term describing a president's broad power to negotiate a trade agreement — and then put the final package on a "fast track" through Congress. Lawmakers can give it a yes-or-no vote, but can't amend or filibuster the deal.

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The Two-Way
1:24 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Disney Announces Title Of Stand-Alone 'Star Wars' Film

A scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens — not the movie you're looking for. Rogue One, the first stand-alone film in the Star Wars franchise, will be released Dec. 16, 2016.
LucasFilm, Disney AP

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 4:18 pm

The first stand-alone Star Wars movie will be called Rogue One, and it's coming to theaters Dec. 16, 2016. That's the word from Disney Chairman Bob Iger, who made the announcement at a shareholders meeting.

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Planet Money
4:10 am
Thu March 12, 2015

What Does NPR's Planet Money Team Have In Common With George Soros?

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 5:37 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Business
4:00 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Improving U.S. Economy Boosts Spring Air Travel

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 5:37 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Get ready for longer airport lines. Airlines are forecasting a big increase in air travel this spring. Profits are up as well. But as NPR's David Schaper reports, do not expect airfares to drop anytime soon.

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U.S.
3:04 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Plans To Explore For Oil Offshore Worry East Coast Residents

Mayor Billy Keyserling of Beaufort, S.C., speaks out against drilling for oil offshore, Jan. 14. He says local votes expressing opposition to oil drilling plans are important even if they don't hold the force of law.
Bruce Smith AP

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 5:37 am

As the Obama administration opens the door to offshore drilling, the oil industry is promising more jobs and less reliance on foreign oil. Some people who live along the Eastern Seaboard are saying, "no thanks."

Coastal towns and cities in several states are formally opposing offshore drilling and oil exploration.

Tybee Island, Ga., is a short drive across the marsh from the historic city of Savannah. The island is dotted with hotels and tiny vacation cottages for tourists — and for about 3,000 people, it's home.

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NPR Story
3:04 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Twitter Updates Policy To Combat Revenge Porn

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 8:14 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
8:46 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Feds Prepared To Reopen All Superstorm Sandy Insurance Claims

A worker shovels muck out of a home in Longport, N.J., after Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Federal regulators say homeowners will be able to challenge insurance payouts they believe shortchanged them.
Patrick Semansky AP

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 5:37 am

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it is prepared to reopen all 144,000 insurance claims that resulted from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The move comes after months of questions over whether insurance companies contracted by the National Flood Insurance Program fraudulently altered engineering reports.

After thousands of homeowners said their insurance claims were systematically lowballed, FEMA began negotiations in an attempt to regain the trust of policy holders.

No agreement has yet been signed.

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Business
2:54 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Targeting Unions: Right-To-Work Movement Bolstered By Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became a Republican political star by taking on his state's public employee unions. This week he signed a bill that would weaken private-sector unions.
Cliff Owen AP

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 8:40 pm

This week, Wisconsin became the nation's 25th right-to-work state. It passed a law saying workers cannot be forced to join labor unions, or pay union dues, to keep a job.

There's a concerted effort in many states to pass laws that would weaken the power of labor unions. But unions and their allies are also fighting back in many places.

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