NPR's business news starts with the future of streaming TV.
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INSKEEP: Apple and Comcast are in preliminary talks about creating a streaming television service, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Journal says a deal between the world's most valuable company and the nation's largest cable provider would mark a new level of collaboration between a tech company and a cable company.
On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine water. At the time, it was the single biggest spill in U.S. history. In a series of stories, NPR is examining the lasting social and economic impacts of the disaster, as well as the policy, regulation and scientific research that came out of it.
It's a blustery, snowy March day when Michelle Hahn O'Leary offers a tour of Cordova, Alaska, situated on the eastern shore of Prince William Sound.
We had just finished our time in Juarez, Mexico, when we had dinner with some distant relations on the U.S. side of the border. "You," one of my relatives said, "are the first Juarez survivors we've seen in some time."
Mike Dunn stands inside a store in downtown New Haven, looking through the big glass windows at his future customers outside. He's not selling phones or food or clothes. He's selling Obamacare.
There's one week left to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and states have gone to great lengths to enroll as many people up as possible. In Connecticut, the exchange has opened two retail storefronts where people can walk in and sign up.
There's just one week left for most people to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And as people race to meet the deadline, they still have questions about the law, and the sign-up process.
"Is there a deadline to enroll in a health plan?" asks Josephine Ilog of Manteca, Calif. "And what happens if a person misses that deadline?"
Democrats have had great success in recent presidential elections registering, targeting and turning out their core voters. Now they're hoping to use that sophisticated field operation to to stave off defeat in this year's midterm elections.
Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 12:09 am
Somewhere under all of that melting snow, there's a warming economy.
"Adverse weather conditions" have hurt economic growth so far this year, but things are headed in the right direction now, according to a forecast released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics.
"Conditions in a variety of areas — including labor, consumer and housing markets — are expected to improve over the next two years, while inflation remains tame," Jack Kleinhenz, NABE president and chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.
The majestic instrumental rock band Explosions in the Sky broke into the mainstream thanks to its contributions to the soundtrack for Friday Night Lights — both the film and the TV series of the same name. With three-quarters of the band originally from Midland, Texas, Explosions in the Sky possesses an ideal toolkit to capture the sounds of football, the roaring wind of the plains and the quiet hope and despair of small-town life in the Texas Panhandle.
Banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, banjo, bass, bouzouki... Saintseneca might pick up any of these instruments at any given moment, and those are just the ones that start with the letter B. The band has its origins and heart in a small Appalachian town in Ohio, as well as a passion for sounds and textures with acoustic instruments at their core. Saintseneca's members eventually settled in Columbus, and they like their acoustic music a bit punkish, with stomping feet as a heartbeat to accompany mind-altering words and music.
For someone who once coined the phrase "jizz jazz" to describe his own style, Montreal 23-year-old Mac DeMarco sounds remarkably grounded on his second album, Salad Days. Gone are the Rocky Horror pantomimes, the sleazy radio promo skits, the gnomic pronouncements about "European Vegas." In their wake is a thematically tight, formally slender album full of sun-dappled songs about frittering youth away and being mostly okay with it.
The word "maturation" and the word "punk" don't often coexist easily: For a band like Cleveland's Cloud Nothings, whose sloppily aggressive songs channel slackerdom and frustration, growing up would seem antithetical to its mission. But the group's third album, Here and Nowhere Else, threads the needle just right, tightening and brightening Cloud Nothings' sound in ways that never numb its blistering, careening forcefulness.
Timber Timbre's members tiptoe across some strange boundaries: Atop atmospheric sound beds that often conjure spaghetti Westerns, Taylor Kirk's dusky croon can seem seductive, inviting and, when he prefers, deeply creepy. It's a voice that can embody Halloween itself — Timber Timbre is self-aware enough to have titled its last album Creep On Creepin' On — and yet Kirk possesses the versatility to sing sweet ballads with Feist on the side.
"I think we're more grown-up now, to use an extremely childlike term," the violinist Sara Watkins recently told a reporter who asked what had changed in the eight years since Nickel Creek — the trio of Watkins, guitarist Sean Watkins (her brother) and mandolinist Chris Thile — released a studio album. Watkins' words astutely acknowledged the expectations leveled at the former child prodigies, who wowed bluegrass and country fans with three precocious albums in the early 2000s.
Every language has words and phrases that elude easy translation. In Portuguese, "saudade" (pronounced by Brazilians as "sow-DAH-djee") is one of those. Some musicians equate it with the blues; it's generally associated with melancholy and longing. In its most recent bio, the Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation defines it as "a longing for something or someone that is lost."
Originally published on Mon March 24, 2014 9:31 am
Say you know someone, maybe a friend of a friend, who's perfectly pleasant but just sort of lacks any sort of oomph. You don't want to be mean (because, you, unkind? Never), but if you had to describe that person in a really, really honest way, how would you do it?
Originally published on Sat April 12, 2014 5:09 pm
In our Getting Back In The Game series, we're helping would-be gamers navigate the wide world of video games — whether you're new to the hobby or a former player who hasn't picked up a controller in a while.
If you've been out of the game, all the hype over the latest consoles may leave you too bewildered to choose. As we said in our platform guide for would-be gamers, consoles are a pretty pricey commitment.
On Saturday, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers kicked off the baseball season with two games in Sydney, Australia. Fans in most of the country watched the games on the official Major League Baseball Network. But in Los Angeles, home of the Dodgers, fans could only watch on a brand new all-Dodgers channel.