National News

Manliness In Music: The XY Hits The Hi-Fi

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:20

There's no shortage of songs about what it means to be a man. But what makes some music sound "manly" — and what attracts men to play and listen to certain genres of music? The answers are changing.

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A Disappointing Jobs Report May Mask Economy's Strength

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:19

The latest labor report indicates a slowdown in job growth, but many economists aren't buying it. They say other data paint a stronger picture, but the jobs numbers may delay higher interest rates.

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Ukraine Cease-Fire Brings End To 5 Months Of Violence

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:08

After almost five months of conflict, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatists have signed a truce to end the fighting. More than 2,600 people have died in the violence between the two sides, and hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes.

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At NATO Summit, U.S. And Europe Ready New Sanctions Against Russia

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:08

President Obama and other NATO leaders are returning from Wales, after two days there spent discussing the future of the organization. The summit touched on topics that ranged from Ukraine to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

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Murder Charges Dredge Memories Of Dark Era In Chile

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:08

Three more people have been charged in connection with the 1973 murder of Chilean folk singer Victor Jara. Luis Andres Henao, Chile correspondent for the Associated Press, explains the situation.

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Health Officials Hope To Speed Up Possible Ebola Cures

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:08

The World Health Organization is holding a special meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss how to fast-track the development of experimental therapies and vaccines to combat the Ebola outbreak.

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The Path To Setting A Wrongly Convicted Prisoner Free

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:08

Half-brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were convicted of rape and murder in 1983. This week, they've been exonerated, after DNA analysis implicated someone else. To learn more about the case, and the work that went into their exoneration, Audie Cornish speaks with Kendra Montgomery-Blinn, the executive director of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission.

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Turboprop Plane With Unresponsive Pilot Crashes Off Jamaican Coast

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 12:04

The private plane left Rochester, N.Y. at 8:45 a.m. EDT and lost contact with air traffic controllers at 10 a.m. EDT. Fighter jets intercepted it, but broke off when the plane entered Cuban airspace.

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A Coming-Out Party For The Humble Pawpaw, Native Fruit Darling

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 11:59

Ever seen a pawpaw in the supermarket? Didn't think so. Chris Chmiel wants to change that by growing and promoting the mangolike fruit. He also helped organize the upcoming Ohio Pawpaw Festival.

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Grunge and heroin chic: the '90s fashion reboot

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 11:38

Everybody who's anybody in the rarefied world of high fashion is in New York City. Fashion Week is upon us once again.

While the runway shows, lavish parties, and air kisses are a mainstay, fashion hasn't consistently been ground for avant-garde experimentation, says Maureen Callahan. She has has long covered the industry as a reporter and editor at the New York Post and has written a book called "Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and the '90's Renegades Who Remade Fashion".

Why did you pick these three people to anchor your book?

Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen epitomized the revolution that took place in fashion in the '90s. And they remain as culturally relevant today as they were 20 years ago. 

The odd one out, it seems, is Marc Jacobs. By the time this book starts he's already won a big fashion award, he's a VP at Perry Ellis. He doesn't seem to need much of a boost, and yet he engineers the move toward grunge fashion. 

On the surface of it, it does seem that Marc Jacobs is the odd one out. It's easy to see why. He is the most famous, impactful, influential designer — I think ever. But he, like Kate and McQueen, has a dark origin story. The grunge collection, which today is rightly regarded as the most seminal American collection of the 1990s, was, at the time, a colossal failure.  The critics loathed it. The buyers did not know what to do with it. The editors hated it. And the girls he was designing for thought it was a highly cynical co-option of their authentic, organic culture. They thought Marc Jacobs killed it. 

Early on in this book you talk about how what rock'n'roll was to the '50s, drugs to the '60s, film to the '70s and modern art to the '80s, fashion was to the '90s. What is fashion today? 

What you see now, and this is a legacy of the '90s, is a democratization of fashion that's unprecedented. A lot of that has to do with technology -the idea that you can go to H&M and buy something days after it was shown on a high fashion runway for a fraction of the price, and then throw it away when it's no longer on-trend. But you also have the rise of street style blogs. Any girl can be shot by a photographer, put up online, and that can be an aspirational image for anyone. Fashion now is far more open than it ever has been. Bloggers are seated front row at shows alongside Anna Wintour. 

For all that accessibility though, that high-end stuff is out of reach for over 90 percent of the population. 

It absolutely is. Say you see a piece in Vogue that you would love, but it's that or your rent. You wait two to three weeks. Some High Street chain, be it Zara or Topshop or H&M will knock it off. 

Two to three weeks? That speed? That's insane. 

It becomes this poisonous feedback loop. The pressure on high-end designers to keep producing is incredible for exactly this reason. You have to create newer and more product to convince women that they absolutely need to buy this to be on-trend. Every designer worth their salt, from Marc Jacobs to Tom Ford to Nicolas Ghesquiere has said the production schedule is crazy, completely inhumane, and unnecessary. 

What's college worth anyway?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 11:16

It’s a more important question than ever when you look at our economy today. College graduates have a much lower unemployment rate (3.2  percent) than adults with only a high school degree (6.2 percent).

Two economists from the New York Fed wrote in a recent paper that “the value of a bachelor’s degree for the average graduate has held near its all-time high of about $300,000 for more than a decade.”

Essentially, a degree is worth a fair chunk of change. Plus, it gets you connections — possibly from your professors, or the people you meet around campus.

Business Insider wrote up their research nicely, essentially noting that it only takes about a decade to work off what you paid for your degree. Back in the late '70s, it used to take more than 20 years.

At the same time, wages for people with only a high school degree are falling, which exacerbates the split.

But that’s value, not cost. Which is where student loans come into play.

One the one hand, loans can be great, since they contribute to the democratization of higher education. Students who do not have the wherewithal to pay full freight, or get enough grants to do it, can take out loans. Yay? Maybe. It depends.

Color matters. While black and white students tend to borrow the same amount, debt weighs more heavily on black families, according to a new study.  This is where I think the difference between income inequality and wealth inequality is key.

Even though we talk a lot about income inequality, talking about wealth inequality (and the historical barriers preventing black families from amassing wealth), really matters.

If your income takes a hit and you or your family don’t have any cushion to absorb it? Then that degree isn’t worth all that much. And the loan bills feel heavier and heavier.

As The Gaza Strip Calms Down, The West Bank Heats Up

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 10:20

The shooting has stopped in Gaza, but the Israelis and Palestinians are now at odds over a large chunk of West Bank land where Israel plans to build more homes for settlers.

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Good news! The unemployment rate is 6.1 percent

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 10:14

This morning, we reported that most everybody expected an employment report that added quite a few jobs:

The U.S. Labor Department's monthly employment report for August is expected to show some improvement in the job market from July. The consensus among economists is for 230,000 jobs to have been added to private and public-sector payrolls.

Instead, only 142,000 jobs were added in August, making it the worst month since December 2013.

So, what does that mean for the unemployment rate?

The unemployment rate from January 2008 through August 2014.

Raghu Manavalan/Marketplace

Fewer jobs added and lower unemployment.

The Latest Word From WHO On Experimental Ebola Therapies

NPR News - Fri, 2014-09-05 09:53

Vaccinations and therapeutics are being tested. Some could be available for use as early as November, if they prove to be safe.

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Beyond magnifying glasses: High-tech options for the vision-impaired

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 08:10

This week, Marketplace Tech has been talking technology and reading. We've heard about how new gadgets are changing reading in school and how they're changing reading education at home. We've talked about the impact of e-readers on the brain

But what happens if your vision makes it tough to read at all?

Today, we profiled Spotlight Text, one digital option for people with vision loss. However, there are many more tools for low-vision readers out there:

There’s an e-reader app for that.

Some e-reader apps are made specifically for those with reduced vision. Apps like Spotlight Text and Read2Go allow readers to increase or decrease font size as much as they need to.

E-readers like the Kindle or iPad already allow low-vision readers to adjust font sizes and contrast settings on the device. Many also have text-to-speech functionality.

The BARD Mobile app from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped offers readers almost 50,000 Braille and talking books. And it’s free.

Phone it in.

There are countless magnification apps that use a smartphone’s camera and flashlight to enlarge and illuminate text. Some are free, like iRead or Magnificent, while VisionAssist is $5.99 and EyeSight is $29.99.

EyeNote is a free app that identifies the denominations of U.S. paper currency for those with low vision.

The iPhone — and other smartphones — remains a powerful tool for low-vision readers. As Paul Otterness, who suffers from glaucoma, wrote on the Glaucoma Research Foundation's blog: “The big news for people with low vision is that high tech, big print, voice control and screen reading are brought together in a single handheld device: the Apple iPhone — a fully functioning computer with high-resolution screen and multiple magnification capabilities, small enough to carry in my pocket.”

Spoken words.

Text-to-speech apps like Speak it!, $1.99, and Voice Dream Reader, $4.99, allow low-vision readers to listen to texts read aloud.

Not out of sight.

Different high-tech glasses are being made to help those with low vision read more easily. These glasses from Low Vision Readers are equipped with LED lights and rechargeable batteries.

Some companies have also been trying to make Google Glass accessible for the deaf. They are working on live subtitle technology.

These high-tech devices can be expensive and insurance companies don’t always cover the costs. So support groups have been cropping up around the country to loan out devices or provide them for free to people with low vision.

If you have low vision, we want to know: Which technologies or devices have been helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!

PODCAST: Colleges join ESPN

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 03:00

Just 142,000 jobs were added to American payrolls last month. That amounts to an unpleasant surprise. More on the disappointing numbers for August. And nearly a quarter of a million newly-naturalized American citizens or immigrants may lose their health insurance coverage under the federal reform law at the end of the month. The government is trying to verify people's identities and immigration status. Plus, ESPN3, the online streaming channel of the sports media giant is the place for less mass-market sports in America like cricket or volleyball. But it's growing it's share of college sports, including football. Schools eager for the exposure are finding creative ways to join the network. 

Many immigrants may lose health insurance under the ACA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 02:00

Nearly a quarter of a million newly naturalized citizens or immigrants may lose their health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act at the end of the month.

The federal government is trying to verify people’s identities and immigration status, and Friday is the deadline to submit paperwork.

The National Immigration Law Center’s Jenny Rejeske says people are hustling to confirm their eligibility. But there are only so many ways they can reach out.

“People have mailed in their documents by certified mail, who have also tried to upload their documents online,” she says.

Despite that, Rejeske says, immigrants and naturalized citizens keep getting termination notices.

She says this is an old story for the Obama Administration.

“It’s just been part of the whole of array of technical problems that HealthCare.gov has faced,” she says.

Sonya Schwartz with the Georgetown Health Policy Institute also faults a lack of thorough planning. Why, she wonders, were most notices in English?

“It should have been a higher priority to think about how to communicate to all the different people in America, not just the people in English,” she says.

Apart from interrupting people’s health coverage, Schwartz says basic problems like this have a chilling effect on the millions who remain uninsured.

The federal government says it has whittled down immigration cases by nearly 75 percent.

Even if the deadline passes, Schwartz has a piece of advice for anyone who has received a notice:

“When in doubt, submit your paperwork again.”

What to do when terrorists claim your company's name

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 02:00

What do you do when your brand gets adopted by a terrorist organization? That’s the question faced by businesses with ISIS in their names — the English-language acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

The most extreme strategy is to simply change the name. Mobile payment app Isis has announced it will change its name to Softcard. 

But so far, this is the exception. There are 49 corporations in New York State alone with "Isis" in their name, from Isis Fitness to Isis Nails. 

Patricia Luzi is the founder of Isis Essentials, selling organic oils and other products. She’s not afraid of a terrorist homophone.

"Isis is an Egyptian goddess and has been for thousands of years," she says. "I am not affected at all."

According to Steve Manning, founder of naming agency Igor, most Isis-branded businesses have nothing to fear because there is little chance of confusion with a violent sect of Sunni fundamentalists.

"But if your business isn't doing well or if you've got a bad reputation, it's the perfect excuse to make a change," he adds. 

This is what Manning believes was the true motivation of the mobile wallet app that is now called Softcard. 

"The irony being this mobile wallet was a huge initiative that never got any traction," Manning says. "Had it, they wouldn't have changed the name."

It wasn’t so much protecting a successful brand, as abandoning a failed one.

'Security Princess' or 'Engineering Manager'?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 02:00

In the tech world, it’s not uncommon to meet a princess. Mine is named Parisa Tabriz. I know, because it says so on her business card.

“So, 'security princess' is my self-appointed title,” Tabriz says. “My actual job title is I am the engineering manager for the Chrome security team.”

But she figures the title “security princess” is “more fun.”

It’s also much more Silicon Valley. It’s sort of like a tradition here, at least when companies are starting up, to let employees choose their titles — not their real titles — but the ones they put on their business card.

“This is my last business card when I worked at Apple,” says Guy Kawasaki.

It reads “chief evangelist.”

I ask, “Who gave you the title?”

“I took that title,” Kawasaki answers. “I assumed that title.”

Kawasaki says choosing your title — even if it’s just the one on your business card — encourages you to think big about your job. Take Kawasaki’s title: evangelist.

He says when Apple was introducing the Macintosh in the mid-1980s, the masses barely knew about personal computers. And they sure didn’t get why you’d buy one.

So Apple needed more than just sales people; it needed somebody to sell the idea that personal computing would change their lives. They needed an evangelist.

“Evangelism is seeing your product or service as a way to change the world, and you want to bring this good news to people,” says Kawasaki.

He says it might sound delusional, but it is different than sales. You're not worrying about quotas and selling units. So a new job needs a new name.

Kawasaki left Apple in the late '90s, and since then, techies have introduced all sort of titles, says Scott Brosnan, a tech recruiter at Workbridge Associates.

“Ruby on rails rockstar,” he says. "Software ninja, data wrangler, I see a lot of now."

Brosnan isn’t impressed by the titles. But, he says, like wearing jeans and T-shirts to work, when tech companies allow employees to choose their title, they’re saying: We’re not corporate types, we’re creatives! Come work for us!

Keith Rollag, a management professor at Babson College, says there’s a study that shows this practice can make employees happier. The study was conducted by two researchers from Wharton and one from the London Business School.

They went into a health care company and let some of the employees define their titles.

“And what they found was it actually reduced people’s feelings of job exhaustion and it reduced the stress they felt while they’re on the job,” says Rollag.

Rollag says those employees felt empowered to redefine their jobs in ways that felt more meaningful.

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