National News

Looking At The World Through A Teenage Girl's Eyes — On Periscope

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 04:58

We'll be interviewing a group of global girl activists today at 12:30 p.m. You can join in — listen to their comments, share your own questions.

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NASA Zooms In On Pluto, For Closest Views Yet

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 04:54

New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they're already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet.

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The Secret History Of Black Baseball Players In Japan

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 04:40

Decades before Jackie Robinson broke American baseball's color line, an longstanding camaraderie between black and Japanese players would shape the future of baseball in Japan.

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How The Iran Nuclear Deal Could Reshape The Middle East

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 04:25

More than a decade in the making, the deal is a signature achievement for President Obama and will influence the broader trajectory of the Middle East.

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New Student Loans For A New For-Profit Education Sector

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 03:03

Financing options are multiplying for "coder bootcamps" — small, immersive schools that turn out software developers in weeks rather than years.

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We made it to Pluto. Now what?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 03:00

After more than 9 years, and 3 billion miles, NASA’s New Horizons probe flew by the dwarf planet Pluto Tuesday morning.

The project cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $700 million.

But John Logsdon, Professor Emeritus at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, says the cost is worth it when you think about what has just been accomplished.

"We sent this little spacecraft — it's just the size of a piano, about 1,000 pounds — 3 billion miles. Hit a 60 by 90 mile target," he says. "We're seeing things that humans have never seen before. If that can't excite people, what will?"

Click the media player above to hear more.

 

PODCAST: A date with Pluto

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 03:00

First up, we'll talk about how the lifting of sanctions on Iran could affect the global oil market. Next: the apparel industry is looking to Africa as its next manufacturing base for cheap clothing. Ethiopian wages are one third those in Bangladesh. All that needs to happen is to persuade manufacturers to build factories there, install an infrastructure, train a workforce, and solve shipping challenges. Plus, we'll talk about the New Horizons probe and its date with dwarf planet Pluto.

The Latest On Iran Deal: Obama To Deliver Speech From White House

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 02:41

President Obama was expected to begin trying to sell the deal to the American people and a recalcitrant Republican Congress.

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Oculus Rift could help people with vision problems

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 02:00

The Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that makes users feel like they're in another space by filling their field of vision with 3D video, doesn't have a price tag yet.

The consumer headset will probably set gamers back a few hundred dollars when it goes on sale early next year. But gamers won’t be the only customers. Scientists have also been exploring virtual reality with the Oculus Rift. 

Felipe Medeiros, an eye doctor at UC San Diego, has been using the Oculus Rift to help his visually impaired patients. 

One of them is Melinda Person. Last summer, she was walking to her neighborhood grocery store. She crossed the street and stepped onto a familiar curb. At least, she thought she did.

"I'm seriously telling you, I thought I was stepping on the curb," she says. "You know, it bothers me to think about it right now."

The curb was actually a step away. She tripped and lost her balance.

"I stepped and the next thing I knew, I was down on the street."

Person didn't sustain any major injuries, but falls like these can be devastating for people with glaucoma. Person has lost 86 percent of her peripheral vision to the disease. Now, she doesn’t go anywhere without a cane.

"I only have what I can see in front of me," she says, describing her tunnel vision. "When I'm looking at you, you're pretty much all I see."

Medeiros says right now, eye doctors don’t have very good ways of spotting balance problems in glaucoma patients.

“We need to have tests that are more realistic," he says. "I wanted to actually have an immersive environment that would better simulate the challenges that patients face.”

In a recent study, Medeiros used the Oculus Rift to immerse patients inside a virtual spinning tunnel. Participants felt like they were moving, and they tried to compensate by swaying. Mederios noticed that glaucoma patients swayed more than normal — and those who swayed the most had the greatest history of falls.

"It performed better than the conventional test that we use in clinical practice," Medeiros says.

Medeiros thinks the Oculus Rift could spot balance problems earlier so patients can get help on preventing falls. Melinda Person says when she first strapped on this headset, she didn’t even realize it was designed for video games.

"I'm not really a video gamer," Person says. She's played a few video games with her grandchildren, but she says, "they're not playing anything like this!"

Virtual reality is not new in medical research, but it used to be very expensive. Today’s headsets are priced with gamers in mind. And that means a lot more scientists are getting to play too. 

Comcast courts cord-cutters with new streaming service

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 02:00

In August, Comcast's new T.V. streaming service called Stream will launch in Boston. Marketplace Tech host, Ben Johnson, talks with Lindsey Turrentine, Editor-in-Chief at CNET.com, about the cable's company entry into the streaming market.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Turrentine says the new service "is obviously aimed at cord cutters." She maintains the cable giant's move to debut Stream in Boston is just as strategic as it is transparent: "It seems pretty obvious that they're trying to figure out what college students will do," alluding to the number of colleges in the Boston area. 

Comcast's Stream will be available to Xfinity customers and will give them access to about a dozen T.V. channels on their tablets, phones, and laptops. Stream also provides a DVR option to record shows onto the cloud. Turrentine believes that it "feels more like television." Apart from the fact that "it's not available on your television." 

In a time of expansion in the streaming service industry with services from Dish, HBO, Showtime, CBS, and more, Turrentine says Comcast "has got to have an answer" because "customers who are never onboarding as cable television subscribers will be totally lost to these services if cable companies do not figure out how to keep them."     

The test for college-aged Bostonians is whether they would want to add an extra monthly fee for 12 stations and a DVR. This is sounding a lot more like bunny ears and a VCR than a multi-platform video streaming experience. 

 

Agreement struck between Iran and major world powers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 02:00

After years of negotiations, Iran and six major world powers — the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany — have reached a deal over the country's nuclear program.

The agreement aims to curb Iran's production of nuclear weapons — In return, the US, United Nations and European Union will lift sanctions. The deal still has to make it through Congress, but if it goes ahead, Iran will start ramping up its oil exports.

Click the media player above to hear Barbara Shook, senior reporter-at-large with the Energy Intelligence Group, talk about how the global oil market could be affected.

From our partners at the BBC:

President Barack Obama said that with the deal, "every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off" for Iran.

His Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, said it opened a "new chapter" in Iran's relations with the world.

In a televised address, Mr. Obama said the deal would make the world "safer and more secure", and provided for a rigorous verification regime. "This deal is not built on trust - it is built on verification," he said.

He said the deal would lead to the removal of all sanctions, adding: "The sanctions regime was never successful, but at the same time it had affected people's lives.''

After 12 years, world powers had finally "recognised the nuclear activities of Iran", he said.

Big bank outlook: slow and steady

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 02:00

Bank earnings for Q2 2015 are up this week: JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo report their revenues and profits on Tuesday, July 14; Bank of America on Wednesday, July 15; and Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on Thursday, July 16.

Over the past several years, the biggest U.S. banks have been through financial crisis, massive bailouts and multi-billion-dollar lawsuits over their mortgage-lending and investment practices. 

Now, banks face significantly more regulation and scrutiny than before, restricting how much risk they can take with their own and other people’s money. They have cut back on formerly lucrative proprietary trading as well as investment banking and deal-making activity.

All of which is keeping earnings potential low, says banking equity analyst Erik Oja at S&P Capital IQ. “It’s like it had a neutering effect on a wild animal,” says Oja. “They will certainly not be capable of the explosive growth they were capable of in a previous era. They will be much safer, much slower-growing.”

Oja predicts that the big banks will increase their profits in Q2 2015 by 2.2 percent over Q2 2014. That is after taking account of several huge legal settlements that banks paid out one year ago. Oja says the biggest potential legal liabilities are now largely behind the banks. 

Karen Petrou at Federal Financial Analytics says the new regulatory regime, plus tighter underwriting standards, have helped shore up banks’ balance sheets. “The banks are sound,” says Petrou. “They have a lot more capital, they’re holding a lot more liquidity.”

The challenge for banks now, say analysts, is to increase profits in an environment of moderate domestic economic growth and volatility in overseas markets like Europe and China, and with U.S. borrowers still paying rock-bottom interest rates.

#Pluto #nofilter

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:54

3 billion miles

That's how far New Horizons has traveled since 2006 in its journey towards Pluto. On Tuesday, the craft snapped photos as it passed the dwarf planet, which NASA posted to its Instagram account. As Buzzfeed reports, New Horizons came within 7,750 miles of Pluto, the closest a spacecraft has ever come to the planet's surface.

SNEAK PEEK of gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach - 7:49 a.m. EDT today. This same image will be released and discussed at 8 a.m. EDT today. Watch our briefing live on NASA Television at: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv The high res pic will be posted on the web at: http://www.nasa.gov. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons #solarsystem #nasabeyond #science

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on Jul 14, 2015 at 4:00am PDT

6

That's how many world powers reached an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program. In exchange, the U.S., United Nations, and European Union will lift sanctions placed on Iran. That leaves many experts wondering what will happen to the global oil market when Iran is able to ramp up its exports.

92 percent

That's the iPhone's share of total smartphone profits, which is up from the 65 percent it took in last year, according to a new report. And as the Wall Street Journal points out, that's an impressive take given that Apple only sells 20 percent of smartphones by unit.

250,000

Speaking of Apple, that's how many retail locations will offer Apple Pay in the UK, making it the first market outside of the U.S. to offer the digital-wallet system. But as Bloomberg reports, it will be a tougher sell than in the U.S., as the U.K. is much better set up with contactless pay systems — Apple pay requires users to hold a button, as well as correct positioning.

Following A Groundbreaking Pact, Taking The Temperature In Tehran

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:51

Renee Montagne talks with Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times, about how Iranians are reacting to the nuclear deal reached with the U.S. and other western powers.

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Republicans Likely Will Oppose Iran Deal, But Find It Hard To Derail

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:49

If Congress passes a measure of disapproval regarding the lifting of Iran sanctions, President Obama likely would veto it — meaning a two-thirds majority would have to opposed Tuesday's agreement.

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Africa starts to lure garment makers from Asia

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:30

The continent of Africa has historically struggled to grow its manufacturing base. That appears to be starting to change in the textile and garment industries. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Africa is now being viewed by some companies as a low-cost competitor to countries like China, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

According to the International Labor Organization, garment industry wages in Ethiopia run about $21 a month. That’s compared to $67 in Bangladesh and much higher in China.

Steve Lamar is with the American Apparel and Footwear Association. He says countries like Ethiopia and Kenya have been successful to integrating industries up and down the textile supply chain.

“The ability to transform from fiber through yarn and into fabric and garment,” Lamar says, “that will become an additional magnet for more sourcing from Africa."

Another driver of the growth in the African textile industry are rising costs in Asia.

“You know, costs in China, which is the world’s largest apparel manufacturer by far, have been going up," says Kimberly Elliot, a senior fellow with the Center for Global Development. "Wages in particular have been going up for several years now.”

China and Vietnam still account for over 50 percent of all U.S. clothing imports, and Elliot doesn’t expect that to change any time soon. “This shift is still pretty small, the numbers are still pretty small relative to the global textile and apparel market.”

Labor aside, Elliot notes that other costs, such as electricity, water and transportation, can be quite high in Africa.

Earth Gets A Close-Up View Of Its Most Distant Neighbors

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:01

Early Tuesday morning, NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft will complete the first-ever flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports live from the New Horizons Control center.

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After Tense Negotiations For Bailout, Will Greek Parliament Fall In Line?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:01

The parliament starts debate Tuesday on the new bailout plan agreed to over the weekend with eurozone countries. Given the concessions Greece agreed to, it's likely to be a very stormy session.

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In 'Escaping ISIS,' An Underground Railroad Forms To Save Yazidi Women

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:01

A new Frontline documentary explores what life is like for the girls and women who have been enslaved by Islamic State militants, and also tells the story of those fighting to free them.

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New York Will Pay Eric Garner Family $5.9 Million To Avoid Lawsuit

NPR News - Tue, 2015-07-14 01:01

The settlement with Garner's family won't require the city to admit liability for his death. The unarmed black man died after police placed him in a chokehold last year.

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