National News

The Fall Of A Dairy Darling: How Cottage Cheese Got Eclipsed By Yogurt

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 06:51

Cottage cheese was the yogurt of the mid-20th century: a dairy product for the health-conscious. But it has fallen out of favor, while marketing of — and demand for — yogurt has soared.

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The View From Inside Syria

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 04:41

Saeed al-Batal is a pseudonym for a Syrian photographer who lives in a rebel area near the capital Damascus. In one of his periodic talks with NPR, he says he has just lost his home again.

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IN PHOTOS: Protests Turn Violent In Greece

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 04:10

Protesters took to the streets even before the Greek Parliament accepted a new bailout deal that includes tough — and controversial — austerity measures. Some demonstrations turned violent.

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'Go Set A Watchman' Is A Revelation On Race, Not A Disappointment

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 03:03

If Mockingbird gave us a South that could be read in terms of black and white, Watchman reveals the gray complexity that is the real Dixie.

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PODCAST: Lawyers wanted

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 03:00

There's news this morning that the European Central Bank has decided to raise the amount of emergency credit available to Greek banks. The move is aimed to help banks there re-open. More on that. Plus, Google announces second quarter earnings later today. We'll talk about how Wall Street has been worried about how much the company is bringing in - and how much it's spending. Next: Rural America has long had a shortage of lawyers. In North Dakota the problem has been exacerbated by the Bakken oil boom. There is a huge unmet demand for legal work, and some young entrepreneurial lawyers are moving in.

George H.W. Bush Falls, Breaks Bone In Neck, But Will Be Fine

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:28

A spokesman said the 41st president fell at his home in Maine. As a precaution he was admitted to a hospital.

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Oil industry cutbacks are a drag on U.S. economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:00

The oil industry's retrenchment  in the face of lower oil prices has had a palpable effect on the economy, according to a Goldman Sachs report.

The firm says low oil prices have caused energy and oilfield services companies to spend a lot less on drilling new wells and buying new equipment, costing gross domestic product as much as half a percentage point in the first six months of the year. 

Meanwhile, cheap oil hasn't boosted consumer spending. Economists say Americans have pocketed their savings at the gas pump instead of spending the windfall elsewhere.

“I think it's possible that in the short-term, the costs have outweighed the benefits,” said Steven Kopits, managing director at Princeton Energy Advisors.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Lawyers find success in the Bakken

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:00

It’s a great time to be an attorney in North Dakota — especially around the oil fields of rural North Dakota. The number of civil and criminal cases there have skyrocketed in recent years, partly due to squabbles over mineral rights and because of a booming population of young men with money, some of whom are getting in trouble. Now, young attorneys like Steve Fischer are seeing opportunities.

Attorney Steve Fischer 

Emily Guerin/Inside Energy

"I was a little jaded, a little discouraged at the time," he says. Fischer finished law school in Ohio in 2010 — one of the worst years to graduate in recent memory.

Fewer than 70 percent of law school grads who passed the bar in Ohio that year landed a job as an attorney. Fischer finally got a job loading crude oil onto rail cars, something he never thought he’d do.

He had landed in North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield, like so many other down-on- their-luck Americans. His co-workers soon found out about his background and began coming to him for legal advice. He quickly realized there was enormous demand for legal services.

"Why don’t I hang my own shingle?" he says.

The rural lawyer shortage is not uncommon. What is uncommon is the massive increase in crime and legal disputes in an area without the legal infrastructure to handle it. Attorney Richard LeMay, of Legal Services North Dakota, which serves the low-income and elderly, says there just aren’t enough attorneys to meet the need.

"Ordinarily we have a lot of people that call us because we’re free," he says. "Now they’re calling us because they can’t find representation any other place."

A significant barrier to fixing the shortage is the fact that there aren’t a ton of established law firms looking to hire new attorneys. Kathryn Rand, dean of the University of North Dakota School of Law, says the school "needs to do a better job for preparing our students for putting together a solo practice."

UND recently started a summer internship to introduce students to the idea of starting up their own shops. States like Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota have similar programs. For Fischer, getting to know a rural place first made a big difference.

"I can easily see myself living the rest of my life in North Dakota," he says. "I love it here."

Irvine gets rid of its living wage

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:00

The city of Los Angeles has a new minimum wage. It’ll go up to $15 an hour over the next five years. But just 40 miles south of L.A.,  the city of Irvine has taken a different approach. The city council voted recently to repeal its local living wage ordinance that applies to contractors providing services like street cleaning, security and landscaping.

Irvine is a relatively affluent suburb in Orange County, where the median household income is more than $90,000 a year. If you drive to city hall, you'll see a meticulously maintained lawn, shapely hedges and beautiful flowers. That's partly thanks to gardeners like Manuel Nieto. He says he's been working in Irvine's fields and parks for seven years, and he earns $12.30 an hour — well above the state minimum wage of $9 an hour.

Nieto’s employer has multimillion-dollar contracts with the city stipulating it pays workers at least $10.82 an hour with benefits, more without. The living wage ordinance was passed back in 2007 when Democrats had control of the local city council. Larry Agran served on the council then as a Democrat.

"I felt we really were doing something pioneering and important, and that we were changing people’s lives for the better," he says.

Today, Agran is no longer in office and the city council is under Republican control. Councilman Jeff Lalloway voted in the overwhelming majority to repeal the living wage. At a city council meeting, Lalloway said the living wage isn’t enough to live off of anyway. "It’s a feel-good wage," he says.

Lalloway says the living wage is an unfair burden on tax payers, and it’s also a philosophical issue.

"We should all be seeking ways to have our economy grow," he says. "Businesses can still pay their employees whatever they like, without having us to mandate what that is."

How will this play out? 

"There are very few cases that I’m aware of in modern history of either living wages or minimum wages being repealed," says David Neumark, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. "My guess is these companies will be able to pay slightly lower wages. They’ll probably have somewhat more employees — somewhat more jobs, at somewhat lower wages."

The new wage floor — the state’s minimum of $9 an hour — will take effect as current contracts expire.

Irvine gets rid of city's living wage

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:00

The city of Los Angeles, CA, has a new minimum wage. It’ll go up to $15 an hour over the next five years. But just 40 miles south of L.A.,  the city of Irvine has taken a different approach. The city council voted recently to repeal its local Living Wage Ordinance that applies to contractors providing services like street cleaning, security and landscaping.

Irvine is a relatively affluent suburb in Orange County, where the median household income is more than $90,000 dollars a year. If you drive to city hall you'll see a meticulously maintained lawn, shapely hedges, beautiful flowers. That's partly thanks to gardeners like Manuel Nieto. He says he's been working in Irvine's fields and parks for seven years and he earns $12.30 an hour — well above California’s state minimum wage of $9 an hour.

Nieto’s employer has multi-million dollar contracts with the city stipulating it pay workers at least $10.82 an hour with benefits, more without. The Living Wage Ordinance was passed back in 2007 when Democrats had control of the local city council. Larry Agran served on the council then as a Democrat.

"I felt we really were doing something pioneering and important, and that we were changing people’s lives for the better," he says.

Today, Agran is no longer in office and the city council is under Republican control. Councilman Jeff Lalloway voted in the overwhelming majority to repeal the Living Wage. At a city council meeting, Lalloway said the Living Wage isn’t enough to live off of anyway. "It’s a feel-good wage," he says.

Lalloway says the living wage is an unfair burden on tax payers, and it’s also a philosophical issue.

"We should all be seeking ways to have our economy grow," he says. "Businesses can still pay their employees whatever they like, without having us to mandate what that is."

How will this play out? David Neumark is an economist at the University of California, Irvine.

"There are very few cases that I’m aware of in modern history of either living wages or minimum wages being repealed," Neumark says. "My guess is these companies will be able to pay slightly lower wages. They’ll probably have somewhat more employees — somewhat more jobs, at somewhat lower wages."

The new wage floor — the state’s minimum of $9 an hour — will take effect as current contracts expire.

Lawyers find success in rural areas

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:00

It’s a great time to be an attorney in North Dakota — especially around the oil fields of rural North Dakota. The number of civil and criminal cases there have skyrocketed in recent years, partly due to squabbles over mineral rights and because of a booming population of young men with money, some of whom are getting in trouble. Now, young attorneys like Steve Fischer are seeing opportunities.

Attorney Steve Fischer 

Emily Guerin/Inside Energy

"I was a little jaded," he said. "A little discouraged at the time." Fischer finished law school in Ohio in 2010 — one of the worst years to graduate in recent memory.

Less than 70 percent of law school grads who passed the bar in Ohio that year landed a job as an attorney. Fischer finally got a job loading crude oil onto rail cars, something he never thought he’d do.

He had landed in North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield, like so many other down on their luck Americans. His co-workers soon found out about his background and began coming to him for legal advice. He quickly realized there was enormous demand for legal services.

"Why don’t I hang my own shingle?" he said.

The rural lawyer shortage is not uncommon. What is uncommon is the massive increase in crime and legal disputes in an area without the legal infrastructure to handle it. Attorney Richard LeMay, of Legal Services North Dakota, which serves the low-income and elderly, said there just aren’t enough attorneys to meet the need.

"Ordinarily we have a lot of people that call us because we’re free," he said. "Now they’re calling us because they can’t find representation any other place."

A significant barrier to fixing the shortage is the fact that there aren’t a ton of established law firms looking to hire new attorneys. Kathryn Rand, dean of the University of North Dakota Law School, said the school, "needs to do a better job for preparing our students for putting together a solo practice."

UND recently started a summer internship to introduce students to the idea of starting up their own shop. States like Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota have similar programs. For Steve Fischer, getting to know a rural place first made a big difference.

"I can easily see myself living the rest of my life in North Dakota," he said. "I love it here."

Looking for change at Google

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 02:00

Google announces second-quarter financial results after the closing bell on Thursday. Investors, who have been worried about how much the tech giant is bringing in and how much it's spending, will be paying close attention to see if Google's reining in costs.

Earlier this week came indications Google might be tightening up the ship by hiring fewer people, with 1,810 new hires in the first quarter, compared to an average of 2,435 new employees per quarter last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets says Google has to do more to soothe worried Wall Street. "There's concern that Google's core advertising revenue rates are slowing. That they cannot or will not do a tough enough of a job ... managing expenses," Mahaney says.

Among the concerns is that Google is losing ground in search ads to mobile platforms like Facebook and others.

"All those concerns that people have, they look backwards," says Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein Research, who believes Google still has room to grow. The company is investing in new technologies like self-driving cars, which could pay off in the future. It's also investing in current moneymakers: Android and search.

"All of these require computer science, and engineering and infrastructure," Kirjner says. 

Still, Google spent an unusually high amount last year, Kirjner says, and he's looking for that spending to slow down.

Ah, the smell of eggs and seaweed in the morning

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-07-16 01:53
229

That's how many votes were cast in the Greek parliament in favor of the latest bailout deal (that's out of a 300-seat chamber). With this outcome, funding of up to $94 billion will be offered to Greece in exchange for severe austerity measures. As Reuters reports, former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was among those adamantly against the deal, calling it "a new Versailles Treaty."

70 percent

That's the percentage of law school graduates who passed the bar in Ohio and landed jobs following graduation in 2010. Steve Fischer was not so lucky. A new lawyer with no prospects, he instead found work in the oil fields of North Dakota. But as soon as word got out about his expertise, he found himself flooded with requests for legal services. Fischer's experience is not uncommon — many lawyers are finding success in rural areas that have seen increased legal disputes in places that lack the legal infrastructure to cope.

$1 billion

That's how much the Vikings stadium in Minneapolis cost to construct. Why is that relevant? As CBS Minnesota points out, those scoffing at the price for the New Horizons space probe should reconsider what they think is too much money to spend on going into space — $720 million for a trip to Pluto is less than $1 billion for a stadium, after all.

$12.30

That's how much gardener Manuel Nieto makes an hour at his job in Irvine, California. That's more than the state's $9-an-hour minimum wage. But that's about to change. Unlike other cities that have passed laws raising the minimum wage, Irvine recently got rid of its living wage ordinance, which required contractors to pay workers above a certain amount for providing services like street cleaning and landscaping.

15 years

That's how long scientists have been working toward developing a new strain of seaweed. Good news: a group of researchers in Portland, Oregon, has done it. Even better news: it tastes like bacon. Or at least, it has the potential to taste like bacon. As reported by the Associated Press, this new strain of seaweed was originally developed to feed Abalone. But when scientists saw its nutritional value, they thought it might be worth it to develop the crop for humans. Among the products they've tried out using the seaweed: bacon-tasting strips.

'Buckyballs' Solve Century-Old Mystery About Interstellar Space

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 01:02

Scientists have long wondered what's in the wispy cloud of gas floating in the space between the stars, absorbing starlight. Turns out it's a form of carbon named after architect Buckminster Fuller.

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Why We Play Sports: Winning Motivates, But Can Backfire, Too

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 01:02

How we view winning and losing may help shape whether we play sports as adults, some psychologists say. In NPR's recent poll, 56 percent of adults who play sports say winning is important to them.

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Chicken Owners Brood Over CDC Advice Not To Kiss, Cuddle Birds

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 01:02

The health agency says kissing and cuddling chickens could be contributing to outbreaks of salmonella. But backyard chicken owners aren't about to lay off the birds.

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Can The Agent Orange Act Help Veterans Exposed To Mustard Gas?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 01:02

Just like World War II vets who were exposed to mustard gas during secret chemical testing, Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange had trouble obtaining VA benefits — until they got the law changed.

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Is It Possible To Let More People Out Of Prison, And Keep Crime Down?

NPR News - Thu, 2015-07-16 00:33

California is trying to do just that, though police and advocates for ex-offenders are at odds over whether it will work. The debate is playing out as President Obama is calling for nationwide reform.

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Caitlyn Jenner At ESPYs: Transgender People 'Deserve Your Respect'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-07-15 20:49

Jenner, who made her transition to becoming a woman public earlier this year, accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the sports ceremony Wednesday night.

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Grand Jury Testimony In Cold War-Era Rosenberg Case Released

NPR News - Wed, 2015-07-15 15:20

David Greenglass' courtroom testimony helped execute his sister Ethel Rosenberg and her husband, Julius Rosenberg, in 1953. But he later suggested to a reporter it was his own wife who played a role.

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