|Pat's Picks are the stories we've picked from the Story Stack as our top recommendations for the day.|
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Monday, 9 December 2013 10:03 AM
The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.
USA Today says it’s not just the NSA that’s secretly collecting cell phone data. Local police departments are capturing data about thousands of mobile phone users, whether they’re part of an investigation or not. Law enforcement agencies say the tactics can help solve crimes, track fugitives and locate missing people. But civil liberties group say police spying raises 4th amendment issues.
The $17 billion US Airways-American Airlines merger is now complete. The Arizona Republic says it will be the first time since the 1980s that there is no major airline in the Phoenix area. Passengers won’t notice much of a difference at first. More visible changes like switching to a single reservation system and repainting planes will take some time.
When a federal judge gave Detroit the OK to seek bankruptcy protection, one of the things he cited was the fact that half of Detroit’s streetlights aren’t working. The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Dolan does some good reporting here, taking a look at why it’s so difficult to keep street lights functioning in Detroit. Many poles have been stripped of copper wiring, replacement parts are no longer manufactured and thousands are strung together like Christmas lights; when one goes out, they all go out.
Diet soda sales are falling fast, according to the Wall Street Journal. Health concerns over the ingredients in the zero-calorie sodas are pushing more consumers away. Sales of diet sodas fell much faster in the last year than sales of full-calorie soft drinks. While the Food and Drug Administration says artificial sweeteners are safe, studies that show links to obesity, diabetes and heart disease have raised doubts.
The only three Democrat senators from the South are facing tough re-election battles next year. The New York Times says the GOP is going hard after the seats held by Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. The Times says the outcome of their re-election bids could determine whether the Southern Democrat is headed for extinction.
The New York Daily News says British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran is poised to move from cult status to household name after years of flying below the radar. Best known in the U.S. for his single “The A Team,” off his 2011 debut album “+,” Sheeran has been boosting his profile by penning songs for One Direction and others. He was the opening act for Taylor Swift on her recent tour and is featured prominently on Swift’s new single “Everything has Changed.” VIDEO
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Friday, 6 December 2013 9:49 AM
The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.
Reaction is pouring in from around the world on the death of Nelson Mandela. His face graces the front page of nearly every major newspapers in the U.S. The Washington Post declares “A Nation’s Healer is Dead.” The Post says Mandela understood he might never see the South Africa he envisioned when he left prison - but he sought out that vision until his final days.
The century-old method of treating allergies with injections may soon be a thing of the past. The New York Times says two companies are petitioning the FDA for approval of tablets that treat grass pollen allergies. The drugs are already available in Europe. They allow patients to treat their allergies at home, instead of having to make frequent trips to the doctor for injections.
They had to see this coming. Fisher Price is getting hit with a mountain of criticism over its “Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity Seat for iPad,” a baby seat with a built-in iPad holder. The New York Post says parents and some pediatricians are slamming the seat as harmful to a baby’s development. For its part, Fisher Price says the seat offers parents another way to visually stimulate their baby - and the company points out the iPad holder is removable.
The Wall Street Journal says books aimed at younger readers are becoming more and more popular among adults. Take R.J. Palacio’s best-selling novel “Wonder,” for example. She wrote it with middle schoolers in mind, yet it’s been embraced by adults and has sold more than a million copies. The Journal says much of today’s pop culture, from movies to music is aimed at both adults and children.
The consensus for last night’s Sound of Music Live production on NBC is that Carrie Underwood can sing just fine - though she’s not much of an actress. Hank Stuever of the Washington Post says the actors may have struggled with the fact that there was no live audience to play off of. “True Blood’s” Stephen Moyer, who played Captain von Trapp, also had a rough go, as did other veteran actors. Stuever does give kudos to NBC for trying something new (which is actually something old).
The 11th edition of LeBron James’ signature basketball shoes are selling like hotcakes - with sales up 18% so far this season over last year’s LeBron X model. But there is one customer who isn’t in love with them: LeBron James. The Wall Street Journal reports the four-time league MVP has only worn LeBron 11s for a full game twice this season. Mostly he wears last year’s model. LeBron’s manager says the shoes don’t quite fit right - but he expects James to be wearing them full time in a matter of weeks.
Playboy turns 60 years old this month with an anniversary edition on newsstands featuring Kate Moss in a bunny suit. The New York Daily News asks if Playboy is at all relevant in this age of easily accessible adult material. With declining circulation and falling revenue, the answer seems to be no. The magazine’s editorial director says it’s never been about competing with pornography, since Playboy has always been a “lifestyle magazine.”
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Thursday, 5 December 2013 7:41 AM
The best headlines, the most interesting photography and conversation-starting articles from today’s newspapers.
Teenagers are so connected to their cellphones - they’re even sending messages in their sleep. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says “sleep texting” is a real phenomenon among teens. Similar to sleep walking, sleep texting is a growing concern among doctors dealing with already sleep deprived teenagers. Some doctors say it’s more a sign of teens’ over-reliance on their phones.
The Washington Post says the National Security Agency is gathering 5 billion records daily on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world. Those records go into a database that stores information on hundreds of millions of cellphones. The NSA doesn’t seek out data on Americans’ cellphones, but it ends up acquiring that information “incidentally.” The NSA uses the information to locate unknown associates of known targets.
State officials in Tennessee are asking the State Supreme Court to set execution dates for 10 inmates on death row. The Tennessean says the state is making the unprecedented move now that it believes it’s clear of the latest round of challenges to the state’s death penalty. Tennessee has only executed six inmates since 1960, and none since 2009.
The New York Times has details of an unusual, government-funded program in Amsterdam that aims to get alcoholics off the street, by paying them in beer. Advocates say it’s counter-productive to demand that addicts quit their habits before receiving help. Participants are also provided access to health workers and counselors.
You’re going to be seeing a lot of pink in 2014. Radiant Orchid to be exact. The Wall Street Journal says you can expect to see the shade on everything from coffee makers to cardigans next year. The selection comes from Pantone - which employs “color watchers” to determine the next it color.
The New York Times says the success of “Go the ____ to Sleep” has led to a boom in similar parodies of children’s books. There’s “Goodnight iPad,” based on “Goodnight Moon,” “Are You My Boyfriend? A Picture Book for Grown-Up Children,” which parodies the Dr. Seuss classic, “Are You My Mother.” There’s even Bi-Curious George. One publisher says the books do well because they present new takes on age-old problems.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Wednesday, 4 December 2013 9:40 AM
A federal bankruptcy judge has declared Detroit eligible for bankruptcy protection. The Detroit Free-Press says that sets the stage for a fierce fight over how to reduce debt and retiree benefits. The judge ruled that public pensions are not protected from cuts; a landmark decision that could affect financially troubled cities across the country.
The House of Representatives passed an extension of the law that bans guns that cannot be detected by traditional screening methods. But the New York Times says lawmakers did not add any provisions to regulate guns made with 3-D printers. The House passed the measure by a voice vote, allowing lawmakers to avoid having their vote officially recorded on a politically sensitive issue.
The New York Post says America’s selfie obsession has reached a new low. A Post photographer at the scene as officers tried to coax a suicidal man down from the Brooklyn Bridge, grabbed a photo of a woman seen lining up a selfie with the suicidal man in the background. When asked about it, she became camera shy. The Post says officers were able to rescue the man.
The Wall Street Journal has some advice on what to do if you’ve left your job for a new one, only to realize right away that it was the wrong move. Making a U-turn is no longer looked down upon. You can emerge unscathed if you have a good reason for your change of heart, and you stay put for a while once you return.
The iPhone. The Boeing 747. The Peanut Butter Pop-Tart. One of these might not exactly meet the definition of an innovation. Yet, the Wall Street Journal’s Dennis Berman says that’s exactly how Kellogg’s CEO John Bryant described the company’s latest Pop-Tart offering. Berman says the term “innovation” is widely overused. Analysts listened to the conference calls of the top 500 US companies—and found 197 of them bragged about innovation
St. Louis is among a growing number of U.S. cities proposing new streetcar lines. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the pros and cons of bringing back this old-fashioned mode of transportation. Opponents say streetcars cost much more than buses to operate - and aren’t exactly popular with commuters in cities that have them. Advocates say the trolleys help spur economic development.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Tuesday, 3 December 2013 8:01 AM
We already knew men and women are wired differently. But a new study from the University of Pennsylvania finds the way information travels in the brain from side to side or front to back varies greatly between men and women. The Philadelphia Inquirer says that basically, at any moment, a woman is likely using her entire brain, while a man is only using one half. The difference likely makes men better at action oriented tasks while women excel at memory and social skills.
In the wake of Sunday’s deadly Metro-North commuter rail crash in the Bronx, Newsday says an accident prevention system required by Congress but still not implemented by the New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority could likely have prevented the derailment. Positive Train Control automatically slows a train if transponders determine it is going too fast. The MTA tried and failed to get an exemption from the rule - and is still looking for an extension of the 2015 deadline to have the system in place.
Paul Walker wasn’t just playing a character who liked to drive fast. The LA Times says sports car enthusiasts considered the Fast & Furious star to be one of their own - and the spot where he died was well known for hosting exactly the type of races featured in the films. The 605-horsepower Porsche he was in when he died is capable of reaching 60 mph in under four seconds and 100 mph in under seven.
U.S. 15-year-olds have failed to make any progress in the latest round of international achievement exams. Scores on the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) show U.S. teens have slipped from 25th in the world to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science and from 11th to 21st in reading. The Wall Street Journal says the scores are likely to cause more debate among politicians and policy makers worried about whether American students are keeping up with the rest of the world.
Planning a vacation yourself means more than just choosing a flight and hotel. There’s a new crop of travel sites where you plug in your departure and arrival addresses and you are presented with schedules and prices for ground transportation as well as hotels and flights. The New York Times says this type of site is especially useful if you’re traveling to an area not served by an airport or when planning a particularly complex trip.
Curious timing on the biggest online shopping day of the year as the Supreme Court declines to get involved in the issue of whether online retailers like Amazon should collect sales tax, even in states where the company has no physical presence. Amazon and Overstock were asking the Court to review a decision by New York’s Court of Appeals upholding the state’s 2008 sales tax law. The Washington Post says the court’s decision to stay out of the issue could pressure Congress to come up with a national solution.
Parents are turning away from celebrities and toward family for inspiration when it comes to naming their babies. USA Today says the new list of the most popular baby names finds more parents are choosing names that have meaning; often naming children after relatives. Pop culture and celebrity trends have fallen out of favor. Jackson replaced Aidan as the top boy’s name. Sophia, Emma and Olivia remain the top three girls names.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Monday, 2 December 2013 7:27 AM
Could the skies one day be buzzing with drones delivering packages to your door? Amazon hopes so. CEO Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes yesterday that Amazon is testing drones that can scoop packages up from warehouses and deliver them to people’s homes. The Washington Post says there are still some obstacles to overcome, but it’s not impossible to envision 30 minute deliveries becoming the norm. VIDEO
The Obama administration says it has met its goal of improving the glitchy online health insurance marketplace by the end of November. The Washington Post says healthcare.gov is working about 90% of the time. Many of the technical fixes and capacity upgrades were made in the last week.
USA Today speculates about the future of the Fast & Furious film franchise in the wake of Paul Walker’s death in a car crash. Universal Pictures had planned to release the 7th installment in the series in July. USA Today says whether the film franchise continues all depends on how co-star Vin Diesel handles Walker’s death.
The Wall Street Journal has some advice on how to invest in young companies or startups. It’s easier than ever, but there are some big pitfalls to avoid. One key point is you can’t just pull your money out whenever you want. It may take years for an IPO. The odds are also against you - with only 25% of venture-backed firms in the U.S. ever returning investors’ capital.
The Denver Post has a feature on Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, a Medal of Honor recipient who is working to remove the stigma of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Carter earned the military’s highest honor for his actions in a firefight in Afghanistan that killed eight of his fellow soldiers. Carter says people with PTSD need to learn how to integrate their bad experiences into their lives, since the trauma of those events will never go away.
If you’re looking to freshen up your Christmas music collection, the Daily News’ Jim Farber has a review of this year’s best Christmas albums. Among the ones he says are worth checking out are Kelly Clarkson’s “Wrapped in Red,” Mary J. Blige’s “A Mary Christmas,” and “Christmas with Love” from Leona Lewis. If you’re looking for something odd, the folks from Duck Dynasty have their own Christmas album, “Duck the Halls.”
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Wednesday, 27 November 2013 9:42 AM
As we prepare to make our Thanksgiving feasts for family and friends, many of us are stressing out over putting together a memorable meal. But Corey Mintz, a writer who is paid to host dinner parties in Canada, writes in the New York Times that the food is less important than the hospitality. Mintz says food shows on television have brainwashed us into thinking Thanksgiving is a competition. He says it’s most important to make people feel welcome, appreciated and special.
USA Today takes us to the New Jersey workshop where the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade comes together. There are 28 people who work full time, year-round to create and care for the floats in the parade. One of their tasks is figuring out how to get everything through the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan.
Michael Marlow, an economics professor, has a guest column in the Daily News where he argues that stores opening on Thanksgiving are just trying to compete with online retailers like Amazon who are open 24/7. It’s not an attack on families, but an attempt to stay relevant and remain in business. He also says many employees are just fine with the notion of working on Thanksgiving.
In a wide-ranging, populist speech, Pope Francis criticized “trickle down” economic theory warning that an “idolatry of money” would lead to a “new tyranny.” He said trickle down theory has never been proven effective and that it relies on the goodness of those wielding economic power. The Pope also called for greater inclusiveness in the Catholic Church - including more opportunities for women in the Church.
The Wall Street Journal says more resilient Christmas trees that originated far from the U.S. are hitting the market this year. The Nordmann and Turkish firs come from the mountains near the Black Sea. The Korean fir comes from South Korea. The trees are hardier than traditional varities found in local tree lots. And they have stronger branches good for supporting heavier ornaments. The Korean fir even has a lime fragrance to it.
A Bronx chef has put together the world’s largest edible gingerbread village. It’s made up of 164 structures and weighs in at 1.5 tons. The New York Times says Jon Lovitch did all the baking in his “closet-sized kitchen” and assembled his village at the New York Hall of Science in Queens where it’s on display.
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Tuesday, 26 November 2013 7:29 AM
A major storm being blamed for 10 deaths in the West is heading toward the East Coast - just in time to wreak havoc on holiday travel. USA Today says rain will blanket the entire Interstate 95 corridor from DC to Boston. And there will be snow to the west. Rainy, windy conditions could lead to delays at delay-prone airports in Philadelphia and New York.
Connecticut State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky has released the full report on the Newtown shooting that killed 20 first graders and six staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The report includes photos of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting as well as photos from Adam Lanza’s home. The Hartford Courant says the in-depth report fails to answer the most compelling question - why the shooting happened.
The Beastie Boys are in a battle with the Goldie Blox company over the video that uses the group’s song “Girls.” The New York Times says the company didn’t have permission to use the song and the Beastie Boys don’t allow their music to be used to sell products. Goldie Blox sued the band - claiming the video is a parody meant to specifically comment on the song. VIDEO
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on how those Black Friday deals are engineered by retailers. For example, the sweater on sale for $39.99 was probably never meant to sell at its “full” price of $68. So your 40% savings was built-in in the first place. Some companies are facing lawsuits for raising prices before Black Friday so they can discount them for the holidaysn.
The Denver Post has some tips to help you avoid packing on extra pounds over the holidays. It’s not necessarily what we’re eating that’s the problem, but that you’re typically around much more food during the holidays. Some tips: Eat before you go out, avoid creamy dips, limit your hors d’oeuvres and back off the booze.
New research shows superstition can boost performance. The Wall Street Journal says researchers have found that conditioned superstitions can boost the illusion of control, giving people a sense of comfort and meaning. In some cases that translates to better performance. In one experiment, golfers sank 35% more putts when playing with a ball they were told was “lucky.”
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Monday, 25 November 2013 9:13 AM
Want another reason to quit smoking? It could ruin your sex life. According to the New York Post, the NYC Health Department’s “Quit Smoking” website claims young men who smoke have a greater risk of erectile dysfunction in middle age. And women are more likely to become infertile. It’s the latest anti-smoking push by Mayor Michael Bloomberg who has already instituted a smoking ban, raised cigarette taxes and produced gruesome anti-smoking ads.
A Minnesota cardiologist and a Berkeley professor are working on a way to predict and prevent stroke after heart procedures. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the pair is using supercomputers to develop models that determine how particles leave the heart and which ones may cause stroke. The research is crucial, since an increasingly popular aortic valve replacement procedure leads to an increase risk of stroke.
The Wall Street Journal says Gen. Keith Alexander offered to resign as Director of the National Security Agency back in June, shortly after Edward Snowden revealed himself to be the source of leaked NSA documents. While the resignation was refused, it shows the level to which the NSA was shaken by Snowden’s revelations. The man who heads a special NSA Snowden response team called the disclosures “cataclysmic.”
USA Today says Yahoo’s move to hire Katie Couric as its “Global News Anchor” signals the company is placing a greater emphasis on content - and video in particular. For Couric, it’s a way to reinvent herself as her profile has diminished in recent years. It’s another bold move for CEO Marissa Mayer who has succeeded in breathing new life into Yahoo, even though the company’s ad revenue remains flat.
Some students in New York will be ditching pencils and bubble sheets for keyboards and tablets on their next test. The Buffalo News says standardized tests are getting computerized. One reason for the switch is to help kids get used to the type of technology they’ll be dealing with in the future. Some critics say it puts the technologically challenged kids at a disadvantage.
There’s a push in some suburban New York towns to get homeowners to put down the rakes and leaf blowers and mulch their leaves instead. The New York Times says municipalities spend millions of dollars each year carting away leaves that, if mowed into tiny bits, would act as fertilizer for lawns and shrubs. But the Times says there are some homeowners who want everything removed, and landscapers want to keep their customers happy.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay is back with his third edition of Thanksgiving Touch Football Rules. Some of my favorites are Rule No. 9, “Every year, someone at the touch football game says, ‘Wow, it would be great next year if we printed up cool uniforms for everyone.’ And every year, they forget to do it.” And Rule No. 22, “Technically there’s no such thing as ‘offsides’ in Thanksgiving touch football. It’s called an ‘old people’s head start.’”
Written by Pat Papers | UPDATED: Friday, 22 November 2013 10:26 AM
The Washington Post has a fascinating feature on Abraham Zapruder - who famously shot the only footage of President Kennedy’s assassination. Zapruder said he knew instantly the President had been killed. Zapruder actually left his fancy movie camera at home that day. When he got to work, his secretary told him to run home and get it. VIDEO
In the New York Times, Jonathan Weisman suggests Republicans will be looking for revenge now that Senate Democrats have moved to limit filibusters. President Obama will get a short-term lift from the confirmation of his nominees. But Weisman says Republicans will be eager to prove they still have power and will likely unite against the Democrats.
A new ad for a startup toy company that aims to encourage girls to become engineers has gone viral. The Goldie Blox ad is set to the tune of “Girls” by the Beastie Boys. But the lyrics have been re-written. The New York Times says the ad has sparked conversation about the lack of women in the technology and engineering fields. VIDEO
Hours after the Federal Communications Commission proposed allowing airplane passengers to use their cell phones above 10,000 feet, customers began flooding the FCC with complaints. Most are dreading the prospect of having to listen to someone else’s conversations for the duration of a flight. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the change would open up “new mobile opportunities for consumers.”
In an era where the pressure is high to draw ratings quickly, new television comedies often must make quick changes mid-course to find what works. The Wall Street Journal says with comedies in particular, the cast needs time to jell. But audiences get frustrated if there are too many tweaks.
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New breeds of Christmas trees promise longer life and even a more pleasing scent.
- 12/5 The Daily Show: Pat Plays Along with Samantha Bee
- 12/3 Study: Men Only Using Half a Brain
- 12/3 “Meaning” is the New Trend in Baby Names
- 12/5 Color of the Year: “Radiant Orchid”
- 12/4 Woman Lines Up Selfie with Bridge Jumper in Background
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Pat took on a job narrating the audiobook version of “The Poison Patriarch,” by Marc Shaw.
- Listening to @DOPEITSDOM with my girl Yanna. I can't wait for him to come to Howard !!
3:23 PM Oct 9th from twitterfeed
- O Facebook tá uma confusão de fotos de crianças com desenhos animados no perfil. '-'
3:21 PM Oct 9th from twitterfeed
- CRAVING that cake!!!! Just oh my God... #GBBO #greatbritishbakeoff
3:21 PM Oct 9th from twitterfeed