NPR Blogs

The Two-Way
6:39 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

The Sounds Of New York City, Circa 1920

Times Square near 42nd Street in New York City, in the 1920s.
AP

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 7:59 pm

We can hear the music of the Roaring '20s anytime we want. But what if you could hear the day-to-day sounds of what it was like to live at that vibrant time?

That's the basis of Emily Thompson's project "The Roaring Twenties." She's a history professor at Princeton University who's been mapping the sounds of New York City in the late 1920s and early '30s.

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The Two-Way
6:26 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Company To Offer $75,000 Balloon Rides To 'Near Space'

If you can't afford a trip into orbit as a space tourist aboard a cramped Russian Soyuz capsule (about $35 million) or a reservation on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipOne (price tag: $250,000), World View Enterprises just might have the ticket: a leisurely high-altitude balloon ride for a less-than-stratospheric $75,000.

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The Two-Way
5:48 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Sony Explains Why Its PlayStation 4 Costs $1,845 In Brazil

Sony announced U.S. and European prices for its new PlayStation 4 at a news conference this summer. The game system will cost some $1,845 in Brazil, angering fans.
Eric Thayer Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 6:05 pm

Sony's new PlayStation 4 won't be on store shelves until next month, but the gaming console has already raised eyebrows in Brazil, after reports that it would cost 3,999 Brazilian real — or about $1,845 at today's exchange rate.

The company says the steep cost isn't a case of price gouging, but instead a sign of Brazil's heavy taxes and fees on imported electronics.

The game system will be released in the United States on Nov. 15 and in countries including Brazil later that month. Large retailers in the U.S. will offer the PS4 at a base price of around $400.

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The Two-Way
5:11 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

IRS Delays Start Of Tax Season Because Of Shutdown

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 5:59 pm

If you were one of those Americans who just can't wait to file your taxes because you're owed a handsome refund, the Internal Revenue Service has news for you: You're going to have to wait.

The IRS said today that the 16-day federal shutdown means it will delay the start of the 2014 filing season by one to two weeks. The shutdown delayed the updating and testing of some of the IRS' systems.

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The Two-Way
4:44 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Poll: Support For Legalizing Pot Surges During Past Year

A person identifying himself as Jermagisty Tha King of Denver lights up a 28 ounce blunt on April 20, 2012 in Denver, Colo.
Marc Piscotty Getty Images

Over the past year, Americans' support for legalizing pot has surged 10 percentage points.

That's according to Gallup, which has been asking the question since 1969. That means that 58 percent of Americans — a clear majority for the first time in more than 40 years — support legalizing marijuana and just 39 percent say the opposite.

To see the dramatic shift in public opinion, just look at this historical graph from Gallup:

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The Two-Way
4:27 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

In Cost-Cutting Move, NOAA To Stop Printing Nautical Charts

This undated photo made available by NOAA shows a computer displaying an electronic nautical chart aboard a ship.
AP

Originally published on Wed October 23, 2013 11:21 am

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency charged with surveying the nation's navigable waters to help keep mariners off the rocks and out of the shallows, will cease printing paper charts after mid-April.

Partly as a cost-saving measure, the NOAA's Office of Coast Survey will offer charts only via on-demand printing, as PDFs or electronic charts.

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The Two-Way
3:39 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

The Capitol Dome Will Get A $60 Million Face-Lift

A rendering of the scaffold system that will surround the Capitol Dome during the restoration.
Architect of the Capitol

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 7:45 pm

The U.S. Capitol Dome is about to undergo a $60 million restoration. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and last for two years.

"From a distance the dome looks magnificent, thanks to the hard-work of our employees," the Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers says in a statement. "On closer look, under the paint, age and weather have taken its toll and the AOC needs to make repairs to preserve the Dome."

Ayers says this will be first time the dome will receive a complete makeover since the one it received in 1959 to 1960.

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The Two-Way
3:27 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Cuba To Phase Out Two-Peso Currency System

A woman displays Cuban pesos, or CUP (right) and the more valuable convertible pesos, or CUC (left), in Havana Tuesday. Raul Castro's government announced that it will begin unifying the two currencies.
AFP AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 4:09 pm

Cuba will end the two-currency system it has used for nearly 20 years. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has used either American currency or a peso that's pegged to the dollar alongside its national peso.

The monetary unification will phase out a system that has become a symbol of exclusivity and foreign wealth. Many products that are imported into the country can be bought only with the dollar-based convertible peso. But most Cubans are paid in the standard peso, which is worth just a fraction of the other currency.

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The Two-Way
1:46 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Former House Aide Lorraine Miller Named Interim NAACP Chief

Clerk of the House Lorraine Miller discusses legislation with then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a 2007 signing ceremony.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 3:25 pm

The NAACP has selected Lorraine Miller, a former clerk at the House of Representatives, to the post of interim president and CEO to replace Benjamin Jealous.

The organization, the nation's largest and oldest civil rights group, made the announcement of Miller's appointment at its board meeting over the weekend.

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The Two-Way
1:14 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Amazon Raises Minimum Purchase For Free Shipping By $10

Missed It By That Much: Amazon has raised its minimum price for free shipping to $35, meaning that horse masks — a popular item among reviewers — are subject to a shipping fee.
NPR

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 6:08 pm

Customers who hope to buy enough from Amazon's website to garner free shipping are now facing a higher bar, as the giant retailer raised its minimum order size from $25 to $35. The change took effect Monday, as the busy holiday shopping season looms.

"This is the first time in more than a decade that Amazon has altered the minimum order for free shipping in the US," the company said in announcing the change.

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