National News

Attorneys For Kim Davis: Marriage Licenses Issued Friday Are 'Void'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 11:06

After spending the night in jail, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis tells her lawyers, "All is well," adding that she slept well. She also says she is prepared to stay in jail.

» E-Mail This

French Investigators Confirm Wing Fragment Came From Flight MH370

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 10:52

French authorities say they know "with certitude" that a piece of debris found in July is from the Malaysian Airlines plane. But the reason why the Boeing 777 disappeared remains a mystery.

» E-Mail This

Drone Crash At U.S. Open; New York City Teacher Arrested

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 10:24

The black, shoebox-sized drone flew over the court at Louis Armstrong Stadium during a second-round match and then crashed into empty seats and broke apart.

» E-Mail This

The politics behind oil pipelines

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 10:01

Most of the time at Marketplace when we talk about oil, we focus on its economic costs, but there are, of course, many environmental costs. Not just in terms of climate change, but what happens when something goes terribly wrong.

That TV reporter? Yeah, it's me. Five years ago on the beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana, during the BP spill, the Coast Guard flew me up and over the site of the spill. It was pretty staggering; the ribbons of oil were orange in some places, rainbow in others, and it stretched for miles and miles. That spill lasted 87 days and more than 3 million barrels of oil were lost.

The Deepwater Horizon spill eclipsed the size of the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, which had been the biggest U.S. spill before that. Former Alaskan fisherman Joe Banta remembers that moment in 1989.

"When the spill happened, I was waking up listening to NPR," Banta says. "Over the radio, I heard that they run the tanker aground. And I swore and said, 'The captain must have been drunk.' I worked for a small fisherman's association back then, and I went into work and started gathering information. And pretty quickly realized the magnitude of what was going on by calling my friends in Cordova, Alaska, where I grew up."

Banta says the fishing stock has rebounded since then, but it took years to recover from the 257,000 barrel spill. There are the less publicized stories, too, like those from the Enbridge spill in Michigan, where a pipeline leak spilled onto Frank Zinn's family farm in 2010.

"All 850,000 gallons of crude oil that spilled actually flowed through our property. I think that we all need to recognize that we need the safety infrastructure in place to make sure these spills won't happen."

There are more than 190,000 miles of pipelines transporting oil and gas, according to the American Petroleum Institute. And since the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline, they are increasingly controversial.

"There seems to be more and more groups involved in this. It really used to be just a local NIMBY issue," says Matt Daily, energy and transportation editor at Politico Pro. "If a big company came along and wanted to dig up your property, that sort of got the attention of the local landowners. But now, what you're seeing is environmental groups, climate change activists, all these people are looking at the infrastructure build-out and are saying, 'We can help push back on this.'"

Obama Posts Personal Comment On 'Humans Of New York' Photo Of Iranian Father And Son

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 08:49

A Facebook post on the popular photo blog caught the eye of the president, who called it "inspirational."

» E-Mail This

One victim of falling oil prices? Recycling

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 08:23

There are a lot of places oil ends up that you might not realize, like shampoo, clothes and plastic bottles. Dropping oil prices are usually good news for most consumers, but the price of oil is so low now, it's actually cheaper to make new plastic bottles than recycle old ones.

Wall Street Journal

That drop not only means landfills have a few extra tons of plastic bottles on their heaps, but businesses that sell recycled plastic are also feeling the crunch. In the last quarter alone, Waste Management, the largest waste hauler in the U.S., lost $59 million because of lower recycling revenues.

"Frankly, that's been happening to us now for the last three year," Waste Management CEO David Steiner says.

"In the history of the recycling markets going back to the early '90s, you've had a couple dips, and they've been very short terms. They're at most two, three months — even in the Great Recession of 2009, we had a dramatic downturn, but it only lasted four months. This is the first time we've seen commodity markets down for, you know, three-plus years."

Steiner notes that it's not all due to falling oil costs. China's sluggish growth and increased contamination of recycling — aka, everyone notices you putting regular trash in your recycling bin — are also increasing costs for the company.

That's led to 10 plant closures of Waste Management. Steiner estimates that about 50 to 100 people were laid off after each plant closure.

'[Recycling] is not just something that's good for the environment, this is something that's good for unemployment in the United States," Steiner says.

Waste Management doesn't rely solely on recycling — it only makes up about 10 percent of its total revenue; the company made about $250 million in net income from recycling in the last quarter. But Steiner says recycling is still worth worrying about.

"My definition of a crisis is looking out into the future and seeing a future where recycling rates are going down. Some people might say, 'Well, we're still recycling 25 percent, and maybe that's a good thing.' I don't view that as a good thing, I view that as a crisis. What we're trying to do is to help drive recycling rates up not down. Is it dramatically going to affect the earnings of Waste Management? Absolutely not. From a recycling perspective, from the environment's perspective? I think we're staring down the face of a crisis." 

 

 

Biden's Latest Signal He Won't Run For President

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 08:11

The vice president's allies may be talking up a presidential bid, but recently Biden has made clear he's still very much reeling from the death of his son and isn't emotionally ready yet.

» E-Mail This

Presidential Candidates Divided On Support For Kentucky Clerk

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 08:05

Kim Davis is in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses after same-sex marriage became legal. Some candidates say she should uphold the law, while others are standing with her.

» E-Mail This

Why Are We Drawn To Heirloom Fruits And Veggies? They're 'Edible Memory'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 07:47

Heirloom foods have grown in popularity, making their way into gardens, farms, farmers markets and restaurants. A sociologist says they offer a powerful emotional and physical connection to the past.

» E-Mail This

Drowned Syrian Boy's Father: 'We Are Human Beings, Just Like Westerners'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 06:32

Abdullah Kurdi, whose 3-year-old son Aylan's lifeless body was photographed face down on a Turkish beach, says: "I hope the world will learn something from it."

» E-Mail This

When Pets Do Pot: A High That's Not So Mighty

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 06:02

The rise of legal marijuana seems to be fueling a spike in the number of pets that become unhappily high off of pilfered treats. The dose is rarely fatal, but it can be a buzzkill.

» E-Mail This

Kentucky Clerk's Office Issues Same-Sex Marriage License

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 05:08

A deputy clerk issued the license, while the elected country clerk spent the morning in jail. A gay couple who had tried five times before, finally got their marriage license.

» E-Mail This

Unemployment Rate Dips To 5.1 Percent Amid 173,000 New Jobs In August

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 04:40

The latest figure fell short of economists' forecasts, but the reports from the Department of Labor added a total of 44,000 jobs to the figures for June and July.

» E-Mail This

U.N. Calls On European Union To Accept 200,000 Refugees

NPR News - Fri, 2015-09-04 04:19

Also: The father of a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Aegean Sea buries his family, and in Hungary, 2,300 migrants at a refugee camp near the Serbian border have threatened to break out.

» E-Mail This

PODCAST: The jobs report for August

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 03:00

On today's show, a look at the jobs report for August, new sanctions against China for hacking American trade secrets, and a big shift in the healthcare industry. 

Making sense of good job growth and stagnant wages

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 02:00

The Labor Department reports on job creation and unemployment for August today. In July, the economy added 215,000 jobs and unemployment held steady at 5.3 percent. Average hourly earnings rose 0.2 percent month over month.

Job creation has slowed moderately in 2015. For the past six months, job creation has averaged 213,000 jobs per month. For the full year (July 2014-July 2015), job creation averaged 274,000 jobs per month. Over the past 12 months, the unemployment rate has fallen nearly 1 percent, from 6.2 percent to 5.3 percent, approaching the level the Federal Reserve considers ‘full employment’ in the economy.

But there is one anomalous data point in the overall job-market recovery: wages. Average hourly wages have been increasing very slowly since 2010 — in a narrow range between 1.8 percent and 2.2 percent on an annual basis. After adjusting for inflation, real wages for most workers have barely kept pace with prices.

“Wage growth over the entire recovery has been unbelievably anemic,” says Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute, in a teleconference where EPI released a new analysis of wages and productivity in the recovery

As the Federal Reserve considers whether to begin raising interest rates in September, or wait until later in the fall (October or December) or into early 2016, Fed governors will be looking for any signs that wage pressures are building. The current absence of wage inflation suggests that the job market might not in fact be as strong as the job-creation numbers and falling unemployment rate suggest.

Employers don’t appear to be having widespread trouble filling jobs. And except in a few high-skilled employment sectors, they're not generally needing to offer higher compensation or more lucrative benefits to attract and retain workers, says analyst Mark Hamrick at Bankrate.com.

“According to the recent Beige Book, workers are readily available in many sectors,” says Hamrick. “And the number of people who are working part-time, but would like full-time work, is more than six million.”

Bivens and other progressive economists warn that if the Fed starts raising interest rates now, it could stifle job growth and keep wages from going higher.

A pothole for bike-sharing programs: helmets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 02:00

There are so many reasons people don’t ride bikes. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I look ridiculous in spandex. These are what people in the bike world call “barriers to cycling.” Among the most common?

“Possibly the hair — the helmet hair,” says Lindsey West, head of the BikeShare program in Birmingham, Alabama, which is launching this month. The program organizers talked about whether to require helmets, but decided against it. The program wants people to rent bikes, and is even going so far as to put electric pedal assist on its bikes, making hills easier.

“So we want to reduce, kind of reduce a barrier to BikeShare,” West says.

Bike-share programs — where you swipe a credit card or a key fob to unlock a bike for an hour or a few days — are popping up all over the country. Cities have backed these programs because they make roads less congested, not to mention the health benefits for riders. Corporations are often quick to support bike shares because of the visibility. But these programs are grappling with one issue: helmets. One study showed most bike-share users — about 80 percent — didn’t use helmets; that’s contrasted with about 55 percent of cyclists overall going helmetless.

West says people don’t ride bike share bikes the way they do road bikes, flying down streets at about 15 miles per hour. Instead, these bikes are designed for tooling around town at a more leisurely pace. People sit upright; the bikes are sturdy.

“You also can’t miss them," she says. "They’re green, they’re blue. The lights are on there. So, I think that encourages safety also in its design.”

Ralph Buehler, associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, has studied cyclist safety, and says there are bike-share systems that require helmets, like in Australia.

“But still, these systems are not doing as well as systems where bike helmet use is not mandatory,” he says.

People in Seattle know this well. Their bike-share program launched a year ago. In Seattle, cyclists must, by law, wear a helmet. Holly Houser, executive director of the program there, says it’s definitely been a challenge.

She says the program knew requiring helmets would affect usership. Plus, it’s a burden in terms of logistics and cost.

“The cost of the helmet cleaning and helmet pickups, as well as the hardware that holds the helmets and the helmets themselves,” Houser says.

She says helmets are collected after every use, hand washed and inspected for cracks. If they’re good, they’re wrapped up and ready to rent again. If not, that’s another liability.

There are so many reasons people don’t ride bikes. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I look ridiculous in spandex. These are what people in the bike world call “barriers to cycling.” Among the most common?    “Possibly the hair -- the helmet hair,” said Lindsey West, head of the BikeShare program in Birmingham, Alabama, which is launching this month. The program talked about whether to require helmets, but decided against it. The program wants people to rent bikes, and is even going so far as to put electric pedal assist on its bikes, making hills easier.    “So we want to reduce, kind of reduce a barrier to BikeShare,” West said.   BikeShare programs, where you swipe a credit card or a key fob to unlock a bike for an hour or a few days, are popping up all over the country. Cities have gotten behind these programs because it keeps roads less congested, not to mention the health benefits for riders. Corporations are often quick to support bikeshares because of the visibility. But these programs are grappling with one issue: helmets. One study showed most BikeShare users — about 80 percent — didn’t use helmets; that’s compared with about 55 percent of cyclists overall going helmetless.    West said people don’t ride bikeshare bikes the way they do road bikes, flying down streets at about 15 miles per hour. Instead, these bikes are designed for tooling around town at a more leisurely pace. People sit upright; the bikes are sturdy.    “You also can’t miss them," she said. "They’re green, they’re blue. The lights are on there. So, I think that encourages safety also in its design.”    Ralph Buehler, associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, has studied cyclist safety, and says there are bikeshare systems that require helmets, like in Australia.    “But still these systems are not doing as well as systems where bike helmet use is not mandatory,” he said.    People in Seattle know this well. Their bikeshare program launched a year ago. In Seattle, cyclists must, by law, wear a helmet. Holly Houser, executive director of the program there, said it’s definitely been a challenge.     She says the program knew requiring helmets would affect usership. Plus, it’s a burden in terms of logistics and cost.    “The cost of the helmet cleaning and helmet pickups, as well as the hardware that holds the helmets and the helmets themselves,” Houser said.    She said helmets are collected after every use, hand washed and inspected for cracks. If they’re good, they’re wrapped up and ready to rent again.  If not, that’s another liability.   

A pothole for bike-sharing programs: bike helmets

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 02:00

There are so many reasons people don’t ride bikes. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I look ridiculous in spandex. These are what people in the bike world call “barriers to cycling.” Among the most common?

“Possibly the hair — the helmet hair,” says Lindsey West, head of the BikeShare program in Birmingham, Alabama, which is launching this month. The program talked about whether to require helmets, but decided against it. The program wants people to rent bikes, and is even going so far as to put electric pedal assist on its bikes, making hills easier.

“So we want to reduce, kind of reduce a barrier to BikeShare,” West says.

BikeShare programs — where you swipe a credit card or a key fob to unlock a bike for an hour or a few days — are popping up all over the country. Cities have gotten behind these programs because it keeps roads less congested, not to mention the health benefits for riders. Corporations are often quick to support bikeshares because of the visibility. But these programs are grappling with one issue: helmets. One study showed most BikeShare users — about 80 percent — didn’t use helmets; that’s compared with about 55 percent of cyclists overall going helmetless.

West said people don’t ride bikeshare bikes the way they do road bikes, flying down streets at about 15 miles per hour. Instead, these bikes are designed for tooling around town at a more leisurely pace. People sit upright; the bikes are sturdy.

“You also can’t miss them," she says. "They’re green, they’re blue. The lights are on there. So, I think that encourages safety also in its design.”

Ralph Buehler, associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, has studied cyclist safety, and says there are bikeshare systems that require helmets, like in Australia.

“But still these systems are not doing as well as systems where bike helmet use is not mandatory,” he says.

People in Seattle know this well. Their bikeshare program launched a year ago. In Seattle, cyclists must, by law, wear a helmet. Holly Houser, executive director of the program there, says it’s definitely been a challenge.

She says the program knew requiring helmets would affect usership. Plus, it’s a burden in terms of logistics and cost.

“The cost of the helmet cleaning and helmet pickups, as well as the hardware that holds the helmets and the helmets themselves,” Houser says.

She says helmets are collected after every use, hand washed and inspected for cracks. If they’re good, they’re wrapped up and ready to rent again. If not, that’s another liability.

There are so many reasons people don’t ride bikes. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I look ridiculous in spandex. These are what people in the bike world call “barriers to cycling.” Among the most common?    “Possibly the hair -- the helmet hair,” said Lindsey West, head of the BikeShare program in Birmingham, Alabama, which is launching this month. The program talked about whether to require helmets, but decided against it. The program wants people to rent bikes, and is even going so far as to put electric pedal assist on its bikes, making hills easier.    “So we want to reduce, kind of reduce a barrier to BikeShare,” West said.   BikeShare programs, where you swipe a credit card or a key fob to unlock a bike for an hour or a few days, are popping up all over the country. Cities have gotten behind these programs because it keeps roads less congested, not to mention the health benefits for riders. Corporations are often quick to support bikeshares because of the visibility. But these programs are grappling with one issue: helmets. One study showed most BikeShare users — about 80 percent — didn’t use helmets; that’s compared with about 55 percent of cyclists overall going helmetless.    West said people don’t ride bikeshare bikes the way they do road bikes, flying down streets at about 15 miles per hour. Instead, these bikes are designed for tooling around town at a more leisurely pace. People sit upright; the bikes are sturdy.    “You also can’t miss them," she said. "They’re green, they’re blue. The lights are on there. So, I think that encourages safety also in its design.”    Ralph Buehler, associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, has studied cyclist safety, and says there are bikeshare systems that require helmets, like in Australia.    “But still these systems are not doing as well as systems where bike helmet use is not mandatory,” he said.    People in Seattle know this well. Their bikeshare program launched a year ago. In Seattle, cyclists must, by law, wear a helmet. Holly Houser, executive director of the program there, said it’s definitely been a challenge.     She says the program knew requiring helmets would affect usership. Plus, it’s a burden in terms of logistics and cost.    “The cost of the helmet cleaning and helmet pickups, as well as the hardware that holds the helmets and the helmets themselves,” Houser said.    She said helmets are collected after every use, hand washed and inspected for cracks. If they’re good, they’re wrapped up and ready to rent again.  If not, that’s another liability.   

Why gas prices are likely to keep falling

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 02:00

The national average of gas prices keeps falling. Prices are expected to reach their lowest Labor Day levels in a decade. In a lot of the country, the price at the pump is inching under $2 a gallon, which is leading a lot of Americans to take road trips this weekend. 

Labor Day normally signifies the end of summer, as kids are back in school and days get cooler. And now that gas is cheaper, people have more money to spend on other stuff. But Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says even if gas prices were a dollar higher, like they were last year, Americans would still be hitting the road.

“Low prices certainly spawn some demand," he says. "But it’s mostly during the warm season that we see that additional demand, and far less in the winter.” 

But there might be a tipping point where gas is considered cheap. David Spence, a professor of law and regulation at the University of Texas, thinks it might be $2.

"But I don’t think of it as necessarily a threshold issue," Spence says. "The lower the price goes, the more we drive, and that’s traditionally been true.”

The glut in crude oil is spurring lower gas prices. But Patrick DeHaan says it’s a little more complicated.

“Everyone is obsessed with the price of oil," he says. "But some do forget that that oil must be refined before it’s something we can fill our tanks with.”

And after Labor Day, refineries will be able to switch to a cheaper blend of gas, which means prices will probably keep dropping.

Sonification

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-09-04 02:00

This week, Actuality plugs into the weird world of sonification — making data into sound. Pythagoras tried to do it with cosmic spheres. Today, sonification pioneers are making music from climate change and cheeseburger data. Plus, can you be allergic to Wi-Fi, and is that a disability?



Pages