National News

How The Prescription Painkiller Fentanyl Became A Street Drug

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 10:43

The synthetic opioid fentanyl is used for surgery and to treat severe pain. Abuse has always been a problem. But now that it's being used to cut heroin, the risk of overdose or death have soared.

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Ilicit Version Of Painkiller Fentanyl Makes Heroin Deadlier

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 10:41

U.S. drug officials have traced a sharp spike in the already climbing death toll from heroin overdoses to an additive — acetyl fentanyl. The fentanyl is being cooked up in clandestine labs in Mexico.

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Ambercrombie wants to hang with the older crowd

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-08-26 10:14
20 something

That's the target age Abercrombie & Fitch is seeking now — along with college students — in a strategy to move away from teens and nab the more brand-loyal elders. The company is reinventing itself, Andy Uhler writes, hiring new designers and executives. “Teenagers are just not very loyal to brands," fashion writer Hayley Phelan says. The retailer reported losses for the second quarter Wednesday, though not as much as some analysts feared, given its stock hit a more than six-year low last week.

3.5 billion

That's the amount of federal student loans at stake in the liquidation of Corinthian College, once one of the largest for-profit higher education companies in the U.S. The company is the target of objections again, this time over its bankruptcy plan. Some agencies say the plan will shield Corinthian from lawsuits. Last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Corinthian, saying it charged exorbitant tuition and saddled students with high-interest loans. 

1 day

That's how long you'll have to get a McWhopper and support world peace at the same time, if Burger King's "sincere" proposal goes through. The New York Times reports that Burger King, "a perennial also-ran in the burger races" asked rival McDonald's to join hands and beef patties on Sept. 21 in honor of the International Day of Peace. The King's proposal was delivered via full-page ads in the Times and the Chicago Tribune, and promised that the fruits, uh, proceeds, of the union would go to Peace One Day, sort of the in-laws. McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook was coy in his Facebook reply, saying he'd "be in touch."

Knock Knock, Teacher's Here: The Power Of Home Visits

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 10:03

There was a time when a teacher showing up on a student's doorstep probably meant something bad. But increasingly, home visits are being used to spark parental involvement.

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PODCAST: Wall Street's rusty plumbing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-08-26 09:48

Stocks are rallying early in the day, but after yesterday's last-minute drop, we try and figure out what we're in for. Then: all the recent volatility is exposing some issues with the way the markets are handling exchange traded funds. Finally: we look at the winners and losers in Corinthian College's bankruptcy plan.

Amelia Boynton Robinson, Survivor Of 'Bloody Sunday,' Dies At 104

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 09:20

In 50 years, Amelia Boynton Robinson went from being beaten on a bridge in Selma, Ala., to being pushed across the bridge in a wheelchair alongside the president of the United States.

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'Merkel' Has Become A Verb In German Youth Vernacular

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 09:20

The German chancellor's last name is used locally as a word of action ... which ironically means to not act at all.

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Texting Helps Diabetes Patients Fine Tune Insulin Dosing

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 08:52

Many low-income patients can't make multiple visits to the doctor, which is a problem if you're a diabetic trying to get insulin dosing just right. A text-based system made remote reports possible.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 Is Now On 75 Million Devices, Company Says

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 08:37

Microsoft vice president Yusuf Mehdi announced Tuesday that the new operating system is running in 192 countries, and on a wide range of devices, including ones made as early as 2007.

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Street Where Sandra Bland Was Arrested Is Named After Her

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 07:49

Bland's mother and other supporters were present for last night's city council vote. The roadway named in her honor leads to the college where she was about to begin a new job.

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2 Journalists Killed In Shooting During Live Broadcast In Virginia

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 05:54

Police are looking for the suspect who shot reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, at a shopping plaza Wednesday morning.

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Puerto Rico Under Tropical Storm Warning As Erika Gains Steam

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 04:13

The tropical cyclone is forecast to strengthen as it moves west toward the East Coast of the United States. Erika is expected to be just off the Florida coast by early Monday.

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Before There Was The Donald, There Was Arnold

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 03:03

Donald Trump's foray into politics has had some scratching their heads. But not in California, where celebrity candidates like former Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger are, like, so 12 years ago.

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Univision's Jorge Ramos: 'I've Never Been Kicked Out Of A Press Conference'

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 02:55

The anchor of Univision's nightly news was thrown out of a press conference by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Ramos said he was just doing his job — asking questions of the powerful.

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Why Thick Flour Tortillas Never Made It Big And Thin Tortillas Did

NPR News - Wed, 2015-08-26 02:38

Flour tortillas thick as pancakes and dotted with brown blisters are a beloved Southwestern staple. So why haven't they broken out of the region and become available at supermarkets nationwide?

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Abercrombie bets future earnings on a turnaround

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-08-26 02:00

Abercrombie & Fitch is reporting second quarter earnings just a week after its stock hit a more than six-year low, and the retailer announced it is restructuring its front office by bringing in a batch of new designers and executives to reinvent the brand.

The company is trying to get out of the teen-age market in favor of shoppers a bit older – college students and 20-year olds. Elliot Morss, of Morss Global Finance, says he thinks Abercrombie is targeting the right market. "That age group still goes to stores," Morss says. “So I think this move from the really young people to the older people, given that they aren’t really that well established online, is probably a pretty good move for Abercrombie & Fitch.”

So much of Abercrombie’s business was the cool-factor of the brand itself – shirts and hats emblazoned with its name. Hayley Phelan writes about fashion. She says kids aren’t really into that anymore. “Teenagers are just not very loyal to brands," she says. "They just want a cheap, cute top that they feel is cool and they can afford and that they can wear once and then buy something else later.”

Buy something else later at stores like H&M and Zara. And buy it cheap. 

Why singing happy birthday can come with a fee

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-08-26 02:00

How many times have you sung "Happy Birthday" to someone with knowing it was copyrighted? Perform it publicly, and you have to pay a fee -- to the copyright owner Warner/Chappell Music.

Of course, people sing the song at birthday parties without paying a royalty. But if you want to, say, put the song in a movie? You have to pony up. 

“Warner/Chappell  charges sometimes $100,000 or more for a major motion picture use of the song,” says Mark Rifkin, an attorney representing a filmmaker who’s suing Warner/Chappell Music, claiming the copyright is invalid. 

I asked Rifkin if he was surprised that "Happy Birthday" was copyrighted.

“I sure was," he says. "Like most other people I assumed it was in the public domain.”

Filmmakers go to great lengths to avoid the birthday song. Restaurant employees can’t sing it, either. They’ve come up with alternatives.  If you’ve ever been to a T.G.I. Friday's you know what I mean. But these unique birthday songs keep restaurants and filmmakers out of trouble.

Dan Cryan, senior director of media and content at the consulting group, IHS, says you can’t blame people for avoiding the birthday song.

“Performing it in a public space, in theory should incur a fee,” he says.

Warner/Chappell turned down my request for an interview. But I did talk to Judith Dornstein, an entertainment attorney who represents artists and production companies.  She says whatever you think of the Happy Birthday case, copyrights are an important protection for the entertainment business.

“This is somebody’s work that it took time and effort to put into," she explains. "This is their living.”

Dornstein says the "Happy Birthday" case is unique. And probably won’t set a precedent.  But, until it’s settled, you better be careful about singing it in public.  


London's luxury housing mirrors NYC's upscale push

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-08-26 02:00

Just like New York,  London has become dotted with a new breed of apartment blocks, buildings  full of luxury flats designed for  wealthy foreigners. Low income Londoners are feeling squeezed.

Take the tenants of the Sutton estate. Located  in one of London’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the estate was  built a hundred years ago to house the city’s working poor. But some of today's impoverished residents now face eviction.

“They’re trying to move people on a lower income out of here so they can acquire more land for private luxury flats.” claims Vesna Vukovic, a single mother with two children. “I’ve lived here for twelve years and now they’re forcing me out.  It’s devastating. I have felt suicidal.”

The plan is to demolish most of the estate and to rebuild it. Some of the low income homes would be turned into luxury apartments and sold off to rich  foreign investors. Some 60 displaced households would  be moved elsewhere.  Ian Henderson, who chairs the  “Save the Sutton Estate” campaign, accuses  the British government and the local authority of putting profit before people . 

“It’s wrong, it’s just wrong.” he says.  “It’s time the government stood up for the people of Britain instead of constantly trying to attract foreign investment into the capital.”

Sutton resident Jean Keal claims that by squeezing dozens of poor Londoners off the estate and out of this wealthy neighborhood, the authorities are betraying the original purpose of the Sutton Estate. She describes the redevelopment as “social cleansing.” 

“You have the poor, the middle and the rich, here.” says Keal.  “It’s a beautiful combination. And it’s worked well for a hundred years. And now they’re going to spoil the whole thing.”

The housing association that runs the Sutton Estate says the building is decrepit and must be modernized.  Selling the luxury apartments, it says, will help pay for the redevelopment; most of the current residents will be rehoused on the new estate and most of them support the scheme.

For its part the local authority argues that it makes more financial sense to find accommodation for the 60 displaced households in less expensive parts of London.

But the displaced tenants are fighting on.  Low income Londoners caught up  in dozens of other “regeneration” projects around the city  feel  they’re the casualties of London’s luxury property boom.  And their message to the developers and their foreign clients is : we will not be moved.



Who wins, loses, in Corinthian's bankruptcy plan?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-08-26 02:00

Corinthian College, once one of the largest for-profit higher education companies in the U.S., is seeking court approval of its bankruptcy plan. If approved, the plan would pay both students and general creditors out of what remains of Corinthian's assets. But some agencies and states object, saying the plan also clears Corinthian of liability from their lawsuits.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Corinthian a year ago, saying it charged exorbitant tuition for some programs, and saddled students with unusually high interest rates on their loans. Three and a half billion dollars in federal student loans are at stake in the liquidation. Guilbert Hentschke, who studies for-profit universities at the University of Southern California, says a lot of groups stand to lose in the deal.

"We've got students, we've got governments, employees, we have the public," he says.

He says Corinthian's a canary in the coal mine, "but I think the question is, 'What's it telling us?'"

He says if the settlement forces lenders to tighten up, students anywhere could find it harder to get loans for college. Mike Reilly, executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, says having federal loans forgiven doesn't mean students emerge debt-free.

"A considerable portion of debt that those students incurred is not with the federal government, but with private lenders," he says.

Reilly says Corinthian's bankruptcy proposal could leave students and the government still stuck.