National News

Blue Jeans Losing Their Grip On American Hips

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 10:44

Denim sales fell 6 percent over the past year. Blue jeans haven't hit the skids this hard since Marlon Brando and James Dean made them famous in the 1950s.

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Obama Will Put Off Executive Actions On Immigration

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 09:36

In June, President Obama said he would act on his own to reshape U.S. immigration policies at the summer's end. Since then, he's come under pressure from fellow Democrats.

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If It's Not About Sex, It Must Be About Money — Unless It's About Power

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 09:01

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell's conviction is a reminder that politicians are more likely to be nailed for petty chiseling than for fleecing the public treasury for billions in pork barrel projects.

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Former IS Hostage Says Museum Shooting Suspect Was His Jailer

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 08:36

Before now, the former hostages have avoided disclosing details about their captors' identity, out of fears that Westerners still being held by the Islamic State could face retaliation.

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Crews Search For Wreckage Of N.Y. Couple's Plane Near Jamaica

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 07:26

The plane's occupants are believed to have been real estate developer Larry Glazer, who may have been at the controls, and his wife, Jane, who owned a catalog business.

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Fears Of Sectarian Violence Grow In Baghdad

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 06:28

As Iraqi and American forces battle militants in the north, there are fears the turmoil could fuel new killings in the capital.

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Bengals' Signing Of Player Will Let Him Pay For Daughter's Cancer Care

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 06:02

For Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengals' decision means he'll be able to stay close to his daughter — and it will help pay the roughly $1 million her fight against cancer will require.

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Ebola Spurs A Full Public Lockdown In Sierra Leone

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 04:57

The lockdown's effectiveness will depend on citizens buying in to the government's plan. The news comes as the World Health Organization says it's speeding up delivery of possible vaccines.

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Q&A: Dana Goldstein, Author, 'The Teacher Wars'

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 04:43

Testing, tenure, pay, standards, business influence, poverty and inequality--the big education issues have been with us a long time, says a new book.

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How Genuine Is Russia's Ceasefire?

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

NATO leaders gathered in Wales this week to address the crisis in Ukraine and the threat posed by the Islamic State. NPR's Scott Simon talks to the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder.

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Russia Rips Up NATO's Rulebook

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

President Obama has spent much of the week talking about what NATO can do to respond to current crises. NATO leaders approved a plan to develop a rapid response force to primarily counter Russia.

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Reporting From The Site Of The Ebola Outbreak's Origin

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

The first wave of the Ebola virus struck Liberia's northern Lofa County back in March. Correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton traveled to Lofa, and speaks to NPR's Scott Simon about the current situation.

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No one trusts anyone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Okay, this is kind of sad.

Turns out nobody in this country trusts anybody anymore. 

A study out in the journal "Psychological Science" today shows that back in the early '70s 46 percent of American adults agreed that most people can be trusted. Only 33 percent agree with that statement now.

It gets worse.

They asked 12th graders the same question in the late '70s. 32 percent agreed that most people can be trusted.

Now? Just 18 percent.

Tesla bets on the present while the future races on

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Tesla has just made a big bet in the battery space, an investment in a $5 billion factory to produce at scale and push down the price.

Company founder Elon Musk promises it will lead to a more affordable electric vehicle – but technology always brings surprises.

For starters, a future of better, cheaper and smaller is no guarantee.

“If you look at the number of announcements, promises, high hopes, explorations to the number of things that actually deliver and ship, it’s a pretty narrow funnel,” says Boston-area clean energy investor Matthew Nordan of MNL Partners.

But let’s say step-change does happen. Streamlined costs could chop the price of a $14,000 electric car battery in half, or more.

Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere could develop batteries one-third the size of current models. That would boost the electric vehicle's driving range substantially.

“It would be awfully nice to have a fully charged vehicle that could take you say three or four hundred miles in a single charge,” says University of California, Berkeley chemist Steven Visco, founder of battery start-up PolyPlus

Of course, these forecasts assume drivers maintain the same relationship they have with their vehicles today: that each person owns one, refuels it, and cares about what’s under the hood.

Perhaps.

“Maybe we all just call an Uber or a Google car,” says University of Maryland business professor David Kirsch. “And we don’t care how it’s powered, or how much it costs. We’re kind of predicting marginal changes. We may be missing the radical change.”

Historians recall the unforeseen radical change that steam engines brought, as well as semiconductors and petroleum.

As far as next-generation batteries, leaps in energy storage could perhaps turn our homes into baby power plants. Or electrify an economy of drones that deliver packages and monitor crops.

Sound ridiculous? Berkeley’s Steven Visco recalls a conference in the early '90s where this crazy question turned up.

“’Is it possible that we’ll see lithium-ion batteries in power tools?’ And it was immediately reviled as a crazy idea. There’s no way. It’s dangerous.”

Today, of course, we’re drilling away, cordless.

Will Europe start spending more on defense?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Europe’s share of NATO’s defense spending has shrunk to less than a third since the financial crisis hit a few years ago. European governments are under pressure to cut their deficits, and have slashed defense budgets to the bone. Now, however, as new threats have emerged, that belt-tightening could be coming to an end.

Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute says the Russian bear rampaging around eastern Ukraine probably means an end to further reductions in defense spending among NATO’s European members. But, he adds, “The jury is still out as to whether it will mean significant increases.”

Of NATO’s 28 member states, only four currently meet the alliance’s defense spending target of at least 2 percent of the GDP. At this week’s summit, Britain called on its European allies to spend more. The response was muted, with most states making only a vague commitment to do so.

Dan Plesch of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy says:  

“I don’t think there’s any appetite for that in Europe. There is such concern to get the economies moving again.”

Plesch says that because of the military might of the U.S., the truth is that NATO doesn’t need to spend much more to meet any threat from Russia.

“The reality that the Russians are hugely militarily inferior to the West means that there’s little real objective need for new military capability. Rather, a little spending on redeployment.” 

But America’s patience with Europe’s paltry spending on defense is wearing thin. And Russia is upgrading. Within two years, the Russians will spend more on their  military than Germany and France combined.

Heard of Bethany Mota? She's one of ABC's newest stars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" just announced the lineup for its 19th season. Featured is one Bethany Mota, a teenage YouTube star who's been video blogging for seven years, racking up 7 million subscribers to her beauty-related videos. If you haven't heard of her, you just aren't part of the demographic that "Dancing With the Stars" is hoping to attract.

"Right now everybody’s looking to integrate stars from YouTube into traditional television," says Karen North, a professor of digital and social media at the University of Southern California. "And the primary reason is to bring in a younger audience."

That younger audience spends a lot more time watching shows online than they do watching traditional television. The majority of YouTube’s viewers are 35 and under. The median age of "Dancing With the Stars"' viewers is 60.

Advertising Age reporter Jeanine Poggi is skeptical. "I’m not sure if her audience will translate over," Poggi says. "But, I mean, Bethany Mota has such a big following. Her social presence and ... being able to promote the show. That in and of itself is a huge draw for ABC."

Brian Steinberg, TV reporter at Variety, says the Mota news is a sign of things to come.

"It’s an interesting gambit to see if someone who’s a viral star has what it takes to become a broadcast star," Steinberg says. 

YouTube stars often have a niche following, he says, but prime time requires a different kind of star power — one that attracts a diverse and broad-based audience. So ABC’s gamble will hinge not just on Mota’s ability to rhumba, but also on the online buzz she creates when the show’s new season starts September 15.

Tech IRL: Work it harder, make it better (with an app)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:22

Fitness Apps are popular, really popular. But they have their own set of challenges, and what are these Apps doing with all your data?   Marketplace Tech’s Ben Johnson and Lizzie O’Leary work out a few fitness apps like One Hundred Pushups, and explore their challenges.  

Weekend brunch: Apple starts making the rules and economic pickles

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:22

This week, Lizzie O'Leary sits down for brunch with Nicolas Carlson from Business Insider and Reuters' Ben Walsh to discuss business news and the news of last week and what's on their plate this week (get it?).   Topics:   Tim Cook Says Apple to Add Security Alerts for iCloud Users Our Economic Pickle Single Women Irked by Pinterest Push Toward Altar

What Ebola costs one community

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:22

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst on record, more than 3,500 people have contracted the illness, and more than 2,000 have died.

The outbreak has also meant profound changes to everyday life. Curfews, containment zones, and a near halt to agriculture have occurred, stalling the region's economy.

Balmed Holdings buys and sells cocoa, coffee, and cashews with local farmers in Sierra Leone. 

Medgar Brown, the CEO of Balmed Holdings, joined us over the phone from Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, to tell us how Ebola is affecting his community.

My money story: Writer Joey Slamon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:22

Every week, we invite someone to tell us their story about money. This week, Los Angeles-based writer Joey Slamon tells us a story about the emotions money can create.

I’d like to say I don’t care about money. I’d love to be one of those cool, free-spirited hippies who lives with only what they can carry in their knapsacks or squeeze onto their rickshaws.

But the truth is, I love money.

Not because I love spending it, quite the opposite. I’m actually quite a hoarder with my money. No, I love money because of the emotional attachments I’ve developed for it. To me, money is a way of showing how much you care about someone. How much you spend on their birthday or Christmas present is a direct correlation with how much you care for them.

And it’s my grandmother’s fault.

I was born in 1982 and for 4 short, wonderful years, I was my grandmother’s favorite. My grandma (or Sito, as we called her) had three children but only one son, my father. And in the Syrian culture, men reign supreme. Maybe not even the Syrian culture anymore, but definitely the old-school mentality my Sito had. Women were to serve men and men were to provide.

And since my father was a doctor, well, you could burn your retinas on the pride she beamed.

So to be the only child of her only son, well, I was set. It was a given that I’d be her favorite grandchild and life was good ... until my brother was born. Everyone loves my brother more than me, to this day. But from the second he was born, it was clear that with my Sito, I was old news. Her son had a son and she couldn’t have loved him more.

It’s hard when you’re a child of around six to realize someone doesn’t love you as much as they love someone else. Especially when that “someone” is your own grandmother. And that “someone else” was this annoying, attention grabbing thing that kind of looked like me. But I wasn’t worried. Surely she’d have to see I was the superior grandchild and more deserving of her love and praise than my stupid brother who couldn’t even stand up on his own. But my efforts went unnoticed.

There is photographic proof of my grandmother’s love of my brother over me.

In every photo of the three of us, she’s practically pushing me out of frame so she can make room for her more loved grandson. This happened for years. One morning while visiting her in Pennsylvania, with my family she made a huge breakfast and there were three dishes on the dining room table. After coming back with a run with my father, I was starving and sat down at one of the place settings. You know what my Sito said? “Oh are you hungry? There’s cereal in the pantry.” He had made breakfast for my father, my brother and herself, so she could be surrounded by the ones she truly loved. I stood in the kitchen with my mother while we quietly ate old Wheetabix and my mother promised me a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts later to make up for it.

But it didn’t matter.

I knew that deep down she loved me as much as she loved my brother. I knew this for a fact because every Christmas, we’d each get a crisp $50 bill from my Sito. My other grandmother wrote checks, but my Sito sent cash. As a child with no allowance, seeing that much money at once was mind blowing. To this day I get a special feeling when seeing a $50. My Sito could pretend that she loved my brother more than me once a year when we made the trip to see her, she could dote over him and all but ignore me at her house in front of our family members, but here was cold hard proof that at the end of the day, my brother and I were the same. Each deserving of the same fifty dollar bill.

When she passed away years later, we were looking through some of her old belongings, and that’s when I saw it: The ledger. My Sito ran a cigarette and candy shop (which was a thing in the 70s) and was always a meticulous accountant. I never saw her pay for anything without writing down the exact amount to be officially recorded later. And going through her old money ledger, my heart welled with pride. This woman, who did so much for everyone around her, managed to stay independent even after the loss of her husband due to her meticulous finances. Good for her! To hell with men! We can be just as smart and capable with money! I vowed then and there to be as diligent with my own finances as an ode to my Sito, to run my own life and never let anyone tell me I was “less than."

And then I saw it: December 15th, 1997 – the entries for Christmas presents for her grandchildren. My brother’s name – Matthew – and next to it, $50. And then my name:

Joey - $25.

I was shocked and immediately went to my mother, hoping she would explain it away as a mistake. That my Sito obviously loved us both the same and there was no way she would give my brother double what she had given me. That I hadn’t been living a lie for the past 17 years and that the secret confirmation I had that my grandma loved me just as much as my brother was simply recorded wrong in the ledger.

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