National News

Kurdish Troops Free Yazidis, But Major Battles Remain

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

With the help of U.S. air strikes, Iraqi Kurdish forces have made significant advances against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS.

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Youth Who Led Tunisia's Uprising Find Themselves Sidelined

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia in 2011 with the ousting of a dictator. But youth in that country are unenthused about elections on Sunday.

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Obama: Sony Should Have Talked To Him Before Pulling 'The Interview'

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

The FBI has concluded North Korea was responsible for the cyber attack on Sony Pictures. NPR's Scott Simon talks with White House correspondent Scott Horsley about what happens now.

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3-D Scanning Sonar Brings Light To Deep Ocean Shipwrecks

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

In the San Francisco Bay, researchers are using new technology to investigate shipwrecks. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with James Delgado, director of Maritime Heritage at NOAA, about what they've found.

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Designing State Symbols For The World's Newest Country

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

From flags to currency, a new country needs new symbols. NPR's Scott Simon talks with Anne Quito, who travelled to the world's newest country, South Sudan, to observe as they designed theirs.

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Excavation Reveals Regular Citizens Who Really Ran Ancient Egypt

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

A team of archaeologists from Brigham Young University has uncovered an Egyptian cemetery that may have upwards of 1 million graves. NPR's Scott Simon explains they were commoners — not pharaohs.

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Obama Wraps Up A 'Breakthrough' 2014

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

President Obama held his year-end press conference Friday, insisting 2014 has been a "breakthrough year for America." He also addressed the Sony hack attack and his recent executive action on Cuba.

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Suddenly, Russia Is Confident No Longer

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:33

With the ruble flagging and the price of oil still on the way down, the Russian economy is in trouble. Former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul tells NPR's Scott Simon what that means for Russia.

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The Africa I Know Isn't The Africa In The Headlines Today

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 03:03

In 1990, our commentator visited Africa and fell in love with the energy and dreams of its people. Today he sees a land full of promise. But Ebola has revived the image of Africa in chaos.

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Antarctic Holiday: A Christmas Feast In The Loneliest Spot On Earth

NPR News - Sat, 2014-12-20 01:16

For Dr. Gavin Francis, Christmas Eve marked the start of a year-long stay in an icy research base 8,700 miles from home. In this "empire of ice and isolation," he says, food is essential to morale.

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Supreme Court Clears Way For Same-Sex Marriages In Florida

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 15:50

The Supreme Court declined to extend a stay on a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, who said in August that Florida's 2008 ban is unconstitutional. The stay expires in January.

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'Rum, Rumba, And Romance': A Book On Cuba's Enduring Mystique

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 14:33

This week, President Obama announced that he will begin to normalize relations with Cuba. Cuban-American writer Richard Blanco recommends a book about Cuba's imprint on the American imagination.

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Pilot shortage grounds flights at regional airports

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-12-19 14:15

At 7:30 in the morning, the terminal inside Cheyenne, Wyoming’s regional airport looks like a weary traveler’s dream. It’s quiet, there are no lines and there's even free parking. But Susan Mark is still tense.

“I’m just hoping there is a plane and a pilot,” she says. “Because I have had both not show up before.”

Fellow passenger Julia Tipsword says more than half the time her flight out of Cheyenne is canceled. She says the airline does accommodate her though — it puts her on a bus to the Denver airport.

These sorts of experiences may explain why its so empty here: Today’s morning flight to Denver has seven people on it.

Jim Schell is the Aviation Manager at Cheyenne Regional. He isn't surprised the flight is so empty. The number of daily flights out of Cheyenne has been cut in half in the last year, and cancellations have skyrocketed. Small airports need to have 10,000 people get on and off planes each year to qualify for the full amount of FAA infrastructure funding. For Cheyenne that’s $1 million annually. Schell says this year they won’t even get to half that many passengers, and as a result their federal funding is going to drop by about $800,000.

“[That money] is being able to reconstruct portions of our runaway when we need it,” Schell says. It definitely is a big deal, and it is not going to go away.”

Lots of small airports are on track to lose FAA funding this year, and that is going to hurt. In Wyoming alone, regional airports generate $1.4 billion in annual economic activity. The regional airports may be suffering but it is not their fault.

The problem is a lack of pilots.

A few blocks from Cheyenne Regional is Wings of Wyoming, a local flight school that used to train a lot of pilots that would fly for the local airline. But last year Congress raised the minimum number of flight hours needed for a commercial pilot license from 250 to 1500. Members were reacting to a deadly crash cause by an inexperienced pilot.  But that change has had a big effect on the airline industry. Building a few hundred hours to get hired at a regional airline was doable, says flight instructor Ron Burnett.

“But to get 1500 hours, that takes a long time. That could take a couple years,” he says.

Traditionally, young pilots joined regional airlines because they were a feeder system for national carriers. But Burnett says the new flight hour standards have upset that system by making it extremely difficult for young pilots to even qualify for a regional job.

Roger Cohen is head of the Regional Airline Association. He says regional airlines and airports are hurting now, but bigger cities are next. Cohen says about a quarter of the pilots at major airlines are set to retire in the next six years or so, and they're going to need to be replaced.

“And where are those pilots going to come from? The pipeline has not only been shrunk, the pipeline has been severed.”

There is some hope for small airports like Cheyenne regional: A House Republican has proposed a law that would require the FAA to keep them fully funded. That would help in the short term, but without a fresh crop of pilots, these airports won’t be bustling anytime soon.

CEO Says Sony Pictures 'Did Not Capitulate,' Is Exploring Options

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 14:03

Melissa Block talks to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton about the cyber attack against his company and the cancellation of the Christmas Day release of The Interview.

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Troubled By Grand Jury Verdicts, Students Request More Time For Exams

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 13:58

Students at several law schools say events in Ferguson and New York have left them too upset to study. Others are more concerned about how the extra study time will affect the grading curve.

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Obama Says 'James Flacco.' The Internet Says, Thank You.

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 13:20

It was an honest mistake. But when President Obama said "James Flacco" when referring to James Franco – on a Friday before the holidays, no less – the slip was eagerly received online.

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The Fate Of The Administration's College Ratings

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 13:04

Some say a vaunted attempt to improve the quality of colleges is dead on arrival. Let's find out why.

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New EPA Standards Label Toxic Coal Ash Non-Hazardous

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 12:50

Environmental groups had sought to have coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants, regulated as hazardous waste.

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With A Presidential Vote, Tunisia Seeks A Peaceful Transition

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 12:12

Tunisia launched the Arab uprisings four years ago when it ousted a dictator. Sunday's presidential election heralds the country's steady-but-not-yet-guaranteed progress.

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St. Louis Grand Jury Heard Witnesses Who Lied, Prosecutor Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-12-19 11:53

Weeks after he announced a grand jury's decision not to indict a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in Michael Brown's death, prosecutor Robert McCulloch explains some of his own decisions in the case.

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