National News

Ukraine Likely To Top Obama-Merkel Talks Agenda

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-09 06:25

The German chancellor meets the president today amid an apparent disagreement between the two allies on how best to help Ukraine, which has been in a prolonged battle against pro-Russia separatists.

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From Soy Sauce To Bullet Trains: Famed Japanese Designer Dies At 85

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-09 06:07

Decades after Kenji Ekuan created Kikkoman's iconic soy sauce bottles with their red caps, he designed Japan's bullet train, in a career driven by a desire to make good design accessible to everyone.

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Will Alabama Courts Issue Marriage Licenses To Gay Couples?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-09 04:21

Alabama is set to become the 37th state to recognize same-sex marriage Monday. But its chief justice says probate courts should not follow federal rulings on the issue.

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Snow Hits The Northeast (Again), As Pacific Storms Bring Floods To The West

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-09 03:32

Two large storms are bracketing the upper corners of the continental U.S., with heavy rains bringing flooding to the Northwest and California as a snow storm hits the Northeast.

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PODCAST: German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits U.S.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 03:00

First up, planning for a financial disaster if Greece decides to abandon the euro. More on that. Plus, more on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit with President Barack Obama, and what tops the agenda for the meeting. We'll also take a look at Medolac, a breast milk company that pays $1 per ounce, and how their business may be affecting non-profits who offer the same service.

As breast milk becomes a commodity, donations drop

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

When Alison Richardson’s baby was born prematurely, he weighed just 1 lb, 11 ounces.

“This is William Hague Richardson IV,” says Richardson, holding him carefully so she doesn’t tangle the wires, medical bracelets and oxygen tube that tethers William to the neonatal unit at Bronson Methodist in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Today, he’s wearing a baby blue onesie that says “Little Man.”

“He’s now 5 lbs, 13.9 ounces,” she says proudly.

A big reason Richardson says William is doing so well is that the hospital brought in donor milk when her own supply fell short.

For years, hospitals have gotten donor milk from non-profit milk banks.

But now, for-profit milk companies have entered the picture, like Oregon-based Medolac.

Medolac pays a dollar per ounce for the breast milk they get from moms, like Andrea Short of Newport, Michigan. Short’s youngest, Johanna, didn’t latch when she was born, so Short found herself with a freezer stuffed with frozen breast milk.

“She was probably four months old when I realized I had an overflow problem,” Short says.  

Selling her excess milk to Medolac helped her family pay bills, and it even got her breastfeeding Johanna longer than the year she’d originally planned.  

“It was a great incentive for me to continue, and make a little bit of extra money, and help some other babies who need it,” she says.

Over time, Short sold about 6,000 ounces of breast milk to Medolac.   

But before this, she was donating her milk to the nonprofit milk bank in Kalamazoo, Michigan—The one that supplies the hospital treating baby William.

Cindy Duff runs that milk bank. She says lately, their donations have dropped sharply enough that they've had to send some patients to other milk banks out of state.

And she's critical of Medolac for not disclosing exactly where it sends its milk. 

"My concern is that we want to be able to have the milk necessary to process for the babies in Michigan. And if the milk goes to a for-profit, and it's not even being dispensed to anyone in Michigan, that's concerning."

Medolac declined to be interviewed on tape.

But in an email, a spokesman says the company can't say which hospitals it sells to because of non-disclosure agreements.

The spokesman says all of the milk Medolac collects is given exclusively to sick infants.






German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits President Obama

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington D.C., visiting President Barack Obama. Their agenda runs the gamut from transatlantic trade to climate change, counterterrorism to the G7 Summit in June. But the highest priorities are likely to be seemingly intractable conflicts facing the European continent.

Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, says Chancellor Merkel and President Obama will discuss the worsening violence between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine. 

Peter Sparding, transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, says another subject may be a different conflict: The stand-off between the new Greek government, pushing back against the onerous terms of its bailout, and its European creditors.

Hacking into wired cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

A new Senate report released Monday says cars equipped with wireless internet could be a security risk, and could transmit personal information about a driver.  

The report, from Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, says automakers are short on safeguards that would keep hackers from, say, taking control of your car, and causing it to accelerate suddenly, or killing the brakes.

“This is a big deal,” says Dave Cole, chairman of AutoHarvest, which encourages innovation in the auto industry. 

Cole says cars with wireless internet could also transmit all kinds of data about their drivers. That could come in handy during, say, a hurricane evacuation, or maybe help parents.

“Do I want to track a teenaged son who might be doing something I don’t want him to do? But how about my everyday life? Do I want somebody checking on that all the time?” Cole wonders.

He says we might need federal rules to establish what information can be collected, and how it can be used.








Waiting for a key report on global oil market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

The International Energy Agency in Paris issues its look-ahead to oil markets in the next five years on Tuesday. So what's the key question, and why do so many energy pros follow this agency?

To many analysts, consensus is spelled I-E-A. The International Energy Agency forms consensus, says consultant Bob McNally of the Rapidan Group.

He says consensus used to be that OPEC would intervene whenever prices fell. Until last fall, when it didn't. The big question now – a central question in the upcoming medium-term report – is how a new world without an OPEC price-stabilizer might look.

Some analysts see a prolonged period of low crude oil prices, perhaps below $75 a barrel. McNally's take: "We told our clients, welcome back to Space Mountain, the Disneyland roller coaster."

In other words, volatility.

Lending ones' eyes via smartphone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 02:00

An app that helps the blind by connecting them to sighted volunteers who can see through their video camera has been gaining a lot of attention since its recent launch. Be My Eyes, as the app is known, was developed by Hans Jørgen Wiberg, a 50-year-old Dane, and funded by three different Danish groups. Wiberg himself is visually impaired.

“Its great to see people being really innovative in this space,” says Eliza Cooper, a social media consultant who has been blind since childhood. She recently tested the app to find out the expiration date on her milk carton.

“I didn't know where the expiration date usually is,” says Cooper. So her volunteer looked at her own milk carton and then told Cooper where to aim the camera.

What made her apprehensive, Cooper says, was not the technology itself, but the person who would be on the other end. “Maybe someone who is lonely and just wants a connection, and they choose to use this app,” she says. “That made me nervous."

But she soon realized that wasn’t the case. The woman Cooper spoke to didn’t ask to exchange names. “I felt good about not having any pressure to identify anything more than I wanted to,” says Cooper.

Click the media player above to hear more about Eliza Cooper's experience using 'Be My Eyes.'


Who lives in a money-making pineapple under the sea?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-09 01:30
54 percent

The portion of New York City real estate purchases over $5 million that were conducted by shell companies, the New York Times reported. That adds up to more than $4 billion, much of it paid anonymously by LLCs or other corporations with fluid, obscured ownership. A Times investigation, rolling out this week, found that number is on the rise and transparency in the city's high-end real estate is disappearing, which becomes disconcerting when many of the shell companies trace back to foreign billionaires with checkered pasts.


The number of states in which truck driving was the most common job in 2014, according to an analysis by NPR. They used census data, and excluded two very broad categories "manager" and "salesperson," to find truckers have become more and more common as other jobs move overseas or become obsolete.

$590 million

That's the size of the stake Alibaba is taking in a smartphone maker based in China, as reported by the New York Times. Meizu Technology Co. will get access to Alibaba's sales channels in exchange for using Alibaba's operating system in its devices.


The number of drunk driving accidents Uber claims to have "likely prevented" in California since launching there two and a half years ago. But ProPublica notes the relationship between the ride-sharing service and drunk driving may not be so clear-cut. Indeed, communities with UberX saw a larger drop in drunk driving accidents among under-30 set than those cities that didn't have the low-cost ride service. But it's a leap to credit Uber - both sets of communities saw drops and it's unclear how many of the people under-30 actually it.

$56 million

Are you ready kids? The SpongeBob Squarepants movie won the weekend box office with a $56 million opening. As reported by the WSJ, the yellow sponge dethroned previous top spot holder "American Sniper."

Papal Group Considers Sanctions On Bishops Who Cover Up Abuse

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-09 00:59

A commission advising Pope Francis on how to tackle clerical sex abuse of minors has completed its first full meeting at the Vatican. The commission has been criticized for its slow start.

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Oil Price Dip, Global Slowdown Create Crosscurrents For U.S.

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 23:34

The big drop in oil prices is a gift to consumers that should propel the U.S. economy, analysts say. But those lower prices are hurting the energy sector and consumers continue to be cautious.

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Harnessing The Immune System To Fight Cancer

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 23:33

Our immune systems constantly fight off disease — protecting us from colds, flu and infection. An experimental treatment called immunotherapy is helping patients' immune systems fight off cancer.

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Leaked HSBC Documents Shed Light On Swiss Banking Industry

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 21:44

The documents were downloaded by a former computer security expert at the giant bank HSBC. They were released over the weekend by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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Alabama Chief Justice Tells Probate Judges To Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 20:00

Alabama is set Monday to become the 37th state where gays can legally wed, but the state's chief justice made an 11th-hour attempt late Sunday to keep the weddings on hold.

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Sam Smith Wins 4 Grammy Awards, Including Song Of The Year

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 17:20

The British singer also won Best New Artist and Record of the Year, for "Stay With Me." Beck won Album of the Year for his subdued, folky Morning Phase.

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Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson Over 'Debtors Prisons'

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 17:03

NPR got an advanced look at a civil rights lawsuit being filed that claims Ferguson, Mo., residents who can't afford to pay their court fines are illegally held in jail.

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To End Solitary Confinement, Rikers Steps Out Of The Box

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 14:57

Last month, with a single move, Rikers Island prison has taken the lead on prison reform on one issue: They banned the use of solitary confinement for inmates under 21 years old.

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More Than Two Dozen Killed In Riot At Egyptian Soccer Match

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-08 14:04

A riot outside of a major soccer match broke out in Egypt Sunday night. Authorities said the stampede and fighting between fans and police killed at least 25 people.

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