National News

Tennessee Denies Public Assistance To Drug Users

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 11:19

The state last month began requiring welfare applicants to detail their drug history. It's the latest attempt to find a constitutional way to deny assistance to people who use illegal drugs.

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James Brady, Gun Control Campaigner And Presidential Spokesman, Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 10:09

Brady became a prominent gun control advocate after being struck by a bullet during the 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. He was 73.

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Hacker Says He Can Break Into Airplane Systems Using In-Flight Wi-Fi

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 10:03

Two years ago, a group at Las Vegas' annual hacker convention said it could break into air traffic control systems. This year a session will show how a passenger can hack a plane while in the air.

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Iraqi Leader Orders Air Support For Kurds Battling Extremists

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 09:35

Meanwhile, Kurdish forces are urging the U.S. to provide weapons in the fight against militants with the Islamic State.

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WATCH: Playful Lion Cub Scares The Daylights Out Of Dog

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 08:53

The viral video was filmed at a farm in South Africa that specializes in training animals to work in movies.

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The push to protect student data

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 08:30

It’s summer. School is out and kids are more concerned with what they're wearing to the pool, than with history and algebra.

But that doesn't mean teachers and other educators are taking a break.

In fact,  lots of them are spending their summer breaks grappling with student data.  What to gather. How to use it. And how to protect it.

Data has never played a greater role in education, particularly as schools move to models of "personalized learning," or tailoring a child's education to meet his or her abilities.  

And while there are lots of upsides to having so much information on students, there are downsides as well.

Parents are concerned about privacy—especially after the  NSA revelations and the Target data breach. Parents are also worried that marketers could get a hold of their kids' information.

The U.S. Department of Education has jumped in.  It issued new guidance for schools and districts about how to keep parents informed about data collection.  

There’s also a new government website focused on the federal laws that cover how student data can be used.  

And this video highlighting The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act known as FERPA: 

 

Last week, U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced new federal legislation to protect student privacy.  They’ve called it the “Protecting Student Privacy Act of 2014.” 

Here are some highlights of the bill.   (And take note, it's  all about how data is shared--not about what's collected) 

   Security 

  • Requires educational agencies and schools to have security measures in place to keep student data confidential.
  • All parties to whom schools and agencies disclose data must have established security procedures to protect the data.
  • Any outside party obtaining access to records must destroy all copies, after the data has been used for the expressed purpose.

  Marketing

  • Outside parties can’t use the data to market to students.

 Transparency

  • Parents and students must be allowed to view records and request corrections of any data they believe is inaccurate.
  • Agencies and schools must keep track of who requests access to educational records.

 

Federal Judge Rules Alabama Abortion Law Is Unconstitutional

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 08:18

The law required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The measure is similar to legislation in 10 other states.

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Doctor With Ebola Is Improving, As Nigeria Reports Second Case

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 08:06

Dr. Kent Brantly, the first person to be treated for Ebola in the U.S., arrived in Atlanta Saturday, while the outbreak in West Africa continues to spread. Nigeria says a doctor there has the virus.

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Hospitals And Health Plans See The Future Very Differently

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 07:52

Are we going back to the bad old days of big increases in health care spending or is the modest boost of recent years here to stay? It really depends on who you ask — insurers or hospitals.

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Chef Grills Steak, Volcano-Style, With Molten Lava

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 07:50

After Sam Bompas roasted marshmallows over lava at a volcano in Japan, he wanted to recreate the experience. So he asked a geologist and sculptor who'd built an artificial volcano to host a barbecue.

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Storms, Aftershocks Hurt Rescue Efforts Following Deadly China Quake

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 06:38

The earthquake that hit Yunnan Province on Sunday afternoon has killed nearly 400 people. It displaced about 230,000 people, and more than 57,000 may still be waiting for rescue.

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Mudslides, Flooding Strand Thousands In California

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 05:19

One person was killed Sunday when a mudslide buried a car. Officials told people in two communities and in a campground to shelter in place.

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Gaza Conflict: Israel Begins Redeploying Troops

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 03:58

Israel also declared a seven-hour humanitarian cease-fire, but there were still no signs that a long-lasting peace was at hand.

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PODCAST: "Mini" muni in Colorado

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 03:00

Massachusetts-based Market Basket hosts a job fair on Monday in response to employees protesting the firing of CEO Arthur Demoulas -- The company is looking to replace said employees. Plus, the VA reform bill crossing President Barack Obama's desk has a new benefit for veterans looking to attend college -- public universities receiving G.I. money must charge in-state tuition for all vets. So who wins and who loses in this new set-up? And municipal bonds are the sort-of boring financial tool that big institutional investors use to hedge their bets. But this week, the city of Denver is hoping to attract a totally different class of buyers for its bond sale. The city is selling $500 “mini-bonds" to state residents, as a way to get locals literally invested in the community.

The education benefits in the VA Reform Bill

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 03:00

The VA Reform Bill on its way to President Barack Obama's desk includes a benefit for vets who want to get a college degree. The benefit says public universities receiving GI Bill money must now give all veterans in-state tuition.

Right now, if a veteran wants to enroll in an out-of-state public college, Uncle Sam pays the in-state tuition while the veteran-turned-student has to pay any extra out-of-state fees. The new law, passed by Congress last week, means states will now have to swallow those extra costs, said Aaron Glantz, who covers Veterans Affairs for the Center for Investigative Reporting.

“The losers are those schools because they’re going to get less money,” Glatnz said. “But the big winners continue to be these giant publically traded for-profit schools.”

For-profit schools are winning in this equation because they're sucking in most of the GI Bill money by enrolling lots of veterans. Many of them are private schools, so if a veteran attends classes there, the university takes in up to $20,000 of taxpayer money in tuition.

The University of Phoenix has raked in nearly $1 billion of taxpayer money over the past five years this way.

However, not all state schools see the new law as a loser. Ross Bryant is a veteran and with the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He says veterans “bring a worldly view. They bring world leadership and when they graduate we hope they stay here in Nevada.”

States like Ohio and Nevada have already passed state laws doing exactly what this new law does. They’ve done it, in part, to lure skilled, educated workers to their state.

Toledo Mayor Lifts Water Ban, Says 'Our Water Is Safe'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-08-04 02:50

For three days, cities in northwest Ohio had told residents not to use city water, because it had been contaminated by toxins most likely produced by blooming algae in Lake Erie.

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Hacking away in Las Vegas

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 02:00

This week, thousands of people interested in all sorts of hacking are gathering in Nevada. They're headed to two conferences, Black Hat and Defcon, which are well known to the cybersecurity industry. But a thriving ecosystem of other meet-ups, tear downs, and other tech events are happening in Vegas as well. 

One of the meetings this week is the Password Con, a two day event.

Sophos Cybersecurity expert Chester Wisniewski describes the event as, “kind of all the global minds in security coming together to figure out this authentication problem.”

There is arguably enough happening on that front for there to be a separate conference on passwords alone.

The audience at the conference, according to Wisniewski, is “nerds of every security stripe” — criminal hackers, government spies, security  professionals,  and ethical hackers.

He says privacy and mobile are at the top of mind this year — the hacker side of the community is very interested in maintaining privacy, especially in the face of the continuing to unfold NSA revelations.

 

"Mini" muni bonds — double your money, help your city

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 02:00

Municipal bonds are the sort-of boring financial tool that big institutional investors use to hedge their bets. But this week, the city of Denver is hoping to attract a totally different class of buyers for its bond sale.

The city is selling $500 “mini-bonds" to state residents, as a way to get locals literally invested in the community.

It’s a simple pitch for investors: buy a few of these mini-bonds, and in 14 years you’re guaranteed to double your money. In the meantime, the city gets funds to renovate two cultural attractions and build a new recreation center.

The yield is higher than what the city offers on traditional bonds, but Denver’s Chief Financial Officer Cary Kennedy believes the extra expense is worth it to keep the money in the state.

“We’re willing to offer this to the citizens of Colorado because we want to give them that investment opportunity,” Kennedy says. “And we also want them to feel like they can support these critical infrastructure projects.”

The concept of mini-bonds has been around for a while, but they’re rarely issued by governments. That’s in part because they can be a real headache to administer.

Lynnette Kelly, executive director of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, says the back-office costs can be significant for the issuer. The customer service needs of thousands of individual small investors can add up to quite a headache.

“My mother, for example, had a lot of mini-bonds from a public power district,” Kelly says. “She had questions all the time. You know, 'Where’s my interest check?' And, 'I think I lost my mini-bond, what do I do now?' All of those basic everyday questions have to be handled and they have to be handled really well.”

Investors can now find the answers to a lot of those questions online, making mini-bonds easier to manage.

And Denver is certainly betting on their popularity. It hopes to sell $12 million in mini-bonds in just five days.

Grocery chain workers fight for millionaire CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-08-04 02:00

One of the country’s most successful regional grocery chains is holding a job fair on Monday.  Massachusetts-based Market Basket is looking to replace employees who’ve been holding protests and asking customers to boycott its stores.

Two weeks into the rallies, it’s like the aftermath of a snowstorm in New England - dozens of Market Basket stores with slim pickings and few customers.

It's not low wages or high prices the workers are upset about; they just want their old boss back. Ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas famously kept prices low and paid a living wage, plus provided good benefits and profit-sharing.  Now, workers and Market Basket customers alike worry the company's new leaders, under "Artie T's" cousin, will change all that.

"This is not a protest against the company, it’s a protest to save the company," says Thomas Kochan, Co-Director of MIT’s Institute for Work and Employment Research. "You have store managers, clerical employees, and warehouse workers all coalescing together to take this action. That's unprecedented."

Market Basket’s new CEOs say they'll welcome those workers back, and the company won't change its "unmatched compensation and benefits." But they warn that employees who keep up the protest could lose pay, and even their jobs.

At the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, Executive Director Katherine Smith says Market Basket has an obligation to its shareholders. But, she adds, the low cost chain won its edge in part by putting employees ahead of profits.  

"More and more we see companies struggling with the question of not only am I helping to create the world I want to do business in, but also the world I want to live in," she says.

Whichever way Market Basket goes, Smith says CEOs around the country are watching.

 

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