National News

Nearly 300K New Jobs In February; Unemployment Dips To 5.5 Percent

NPR News - Fri, 2015-03-06 04:36

The Labor Department's latest report comes on the heels of an especially robust survey for January that showed a gain of about 240,000 jobs.

» E-Mail This

PODCAST: The jobs report for February

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-06 03:00

First up on today's show, we'll talk about the strong jobs report for February. Plus, we'll talk about the marriage of personal values and investment portfolios when it comes to both index funds and other types of investments.

The Micky-D ripple effect

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-06 02:00

Joining the ranks of Chik-filet and Chipotle, fast-food giant McDonald’s is promising us antibiotic free chicken by 2017 in its 14,000 U.S. locations. 

Right now, farmers use antibiotics to keep flocks healthy and grow faster. McDonald's said more health conscious consumers drove their decision to start using chickens that are not given the same antibiotics that are used to treat people. The CDC says ‘superbugs’ lead to 23,000 deaths a year and 2 million illnesses.   

The Pew Charitable Trust's Gail Hansen says, "When you consider in the United States we raise 9 billion chickens a year. Every time you give an antibiotic into a bird, you potentially can get antibiotic resistance." Hansen calls McDonald's shift in policy a game changer. As another source said, when Chik-filet and McDonald’s do something, it’s not some Berkeley, California thing … it's mainstream.

So how much more money will consumers have to fork over to pay for this trend? Raising antibiotic-free chickens is more expensive says University of Georgia Veterinarian Chuck Hofacre: "It’ll take more corn and soybean to be fed to the chickens to get the same amount of chicken meat." The National Chicken Council says that translates into 5 to 7 cents a pound. In other words, if the price of corn goes up, so will your Chicken McNugget.

 

 

A bigger iPad on the way?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-06 02:00

Apple is reportedly planning to start producing a bigger iPad with a 13-inch screen, and possibly with USB ports, by the second half of 2015.

The move would be aimed at business customers, says Eric Smith of Strategy Analytics, mirroring a strategy that a number of other companies are already employing — including Microsoft and Google's Android.

HP has a line of rugged Android and Windows tablets specialized for in-the-field applications, and anti-microbial surface models for health care use, says Smith. "Other vendors like Lenovo and Dell are also addressing this market." he says.

Microsoft has been selling its Surface Pro 3 tablet as a laptop alternative for both work and leisure use, and plans to release its new Windows operating system that can work on mobile and traditional PCs.

The question is "who can win over the CIOs in reliability, in security, in interoperability," says Smith.

The battle is important because growth in the multi-billion-dollar tablet market is slowing down on the consumer side, says JP Bouchard of the market research firm IDC, but adoption of tablets in business is still nascent and has the potential for more growth.

"People are not replacing tablets every two years or even every three years. So that market is a bit saturated on the consumer space," Bouchard says.

Kim Kardashian games the system

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-03-06 01:30
295,000

That's how many jobs the U.S. added in February, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.5 percent. 

$8 million

That's what the makers of the Snuggie will pay the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges it made customers pay exorbitant shipping and handling costs on buy-one-get-one-free items, the Associated Press reported.

13 inch

That's the supposed size of the next iPad's screen. It may also come with USB ports. Some speculate that the next iteration of the tablet will be aimed at business customers.

$74 million

That's what "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood" made last year after its summer launch, and the game is on track to reach $200 million this year. The surprise smash has been downloaded 28 million times and players have logged a shocking 11 billion minutes. Adweek's cover story is an interview with Kardashian about her success and her future plans in tech.

30

That's the age at which Tinder users will have to pay more, as outlined by the dating app's new Tinder Plus subscription service. But you already knew that, didn't you? So why not head over to our weekly quiz on the week in tech, Silicon Tally, and prove your news prowess?

NASA Probe To Arrive At Dwarf Planet

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 23:47

On Friday morning, NASA's Dawn mission will arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports on the end of an odyssey to explore an odd, in-between world.

» E-Mail This

Boston Economy Will Escape Big Freeze Of Historic Snowstorms

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 23:41

New England businesses are taking stock after weeks of record-setting winter storms disrupted transportation, stopping many workers from doing their jobs. Telecommuting is helping Boston get by.

» E-Mail This

Photographer Helped Expose Brutality Of Selma's 'Bloody Sunday'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 23:39

Some of the most iconic images of marchers being attacked by Alabama state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, were captured by a white photojournalist who stumbled onto the historic events.

» E-Mail This

Sharing Patient Records Is Still A Digital Dilemma For Doctors

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 23:37

There's good news and bad news about electronic medical records. They're now in most doctors' offices — but most doctors still can't easily share them.

» E-Mail This

Could A Quokka Beat A Numbat? Oddsmakers Say Yes

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 23:36

In "Mammal March Madness," you win or die. No basketball in this tournament — it's a simulated survival-of-the-fittest game set up by evolutionary biologists. The battle cry? Mammals suck ... milk!

» E-Mail This

Coroner Identifies Homeless Man On Skid Row Killed By LAPD

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 23:28

Charley Leundeu Keunang, 43, was shot and killed by LAPD officers during a struggle on Sunday. He had come to the U.S. using a stolen identity.

» E-Mail This

Actor Harrison Ford Injured In Plane Crash; Son Says He's OK

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 15:50

The 70-year-old actor is said to have suffered moderate trauma, when he crash-landed a vintage plane in a Los Angeles area golf course. He was taken to a hospital and he was reported to be conscious.

» E-Mail This

Argentine Prosecutor Was 'Without A Doubt' Murdered, Says Family

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 15:23

Sandra Arroyo Salgado, Alberto Nisman's ex wife, commissioned an independent forensic investigation she says dismisses the possibility that his death was a suicide or an accident.

» E-Mail This

Don't worry too much about productivity

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-05 14:01

We’ve tracked labor productivity in the U.S. for about 70 years. For most of that time, it’s risen steadily along with economic growth. Recessions just saw little blips — that is until the last one when productivity rose sharply.   

Researchers found that productivity jumped even more sharply in areas with higher unemployment — fear of the ax seems to have motivated Americans to work their tails off. 

Another factor that increases productivity is a growing rate of educational achievement. Dale Jorgenson, a professor of economics at Harvard University, says the impact of education is diminishing because the portion of the workforce with higher education is growing at a slower rate than before. 

Jorgenson says it takes decades of data to figure out what normal productivity is, so it’s best to not get too caught up in those quarterly reports.

 

Colorado Debates Whether IUDs Are Contraception Or Abortion

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 13:48

A Colorado program has allowed more than 30,000 women to get long-term contraception for free, lowering teen birth and abortion rates. Now lawmakers have to decide if it can qualify for state funding.

» E-Mail This

Transgender Students Learn To Navigate School Halls

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 13:10

A new poll shows that fewer young people see gender as limited to female and male. Youth Radio reporter Nanette Thompson talks with two students about their experiences at school.

» E-Mail This

Arsenic Antidote Hidden In Our Genes

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 12:56

Even at low doses, the potent poison damages organs and causes cancers. Now scientists have found a population high in the Andes Mountains that has adapted to the toxic metal over thousands of years.

» E-Mail This

A relic of science education goes offline

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-03-05 12:55

Argonne National Laboratory, a non-profit research lab operated by the University of Chicago for the Department of Energy, last weekend shut down one of the nation's oldest online educational tools, one that pre-dated the Internet itself.

NEWTON Ask A Scientist had been online in its current form since 1991. It offered a platform for students to ask science questions long before you could simply Google a query like "Why is the sky blue?" Answers were written by vetted scientific experts, who did their best to provide uncomplicated responses to complex questions such as "How long did the big bang last?"

Occasionally – when Pluto was reclassified as a planetoid, or when the Higgs-Boson particle was discovered – the site took on a newsy feel. Most of the time, however, it was a place where students indulged their curiosities by asking general-knowledge questions.

"You'd think over 25 years all the questions had been asked, but heck no," says Nathan Unterman, a 39-year Illinois high school science teacher. Unterman moderated the site with another, now-retired teacher, Steve Sample. They were employed as part-time staff at Argonne but mostly served as volunteers during the more than two decades they ran the site.

By the time Argonne finally pulled the plug, more than 110 volunteer scientists had answered questions, which were still coming in a steady stream. Still, the site was "limping along," says Meridith Bruozas, manager of educational programs and outreach at Argonne.

The institutional and funding structure that created NEWTON are long gone, she says, plus the site and the technology behind it are outdated. In an email, Sample said the high cost of updating the software was a factor in shutting the site down. Argonne spent about $10,000 per year on NEWTON over the past few years, spokesman Christopher Kramer said in an email, but to keep it running "is akin to supporting the telegraph in the era of smartphones."

Indeed, many Argonne's educational efforts now live on social media, and are centered around the lab's current research. Argonne now hosts Google Hangout tours, offers Reddit AMAs, posts lectures online, produces a series of videos called "Ask Argonne" and more.

"So instead of random questions on any topic, like 'Why is the sky blue?' we're actually talking about 'What does the next generation battery look like?' and 'What does supercomputing look like and how does modeling look like when you're crunching big data?'" Bruozas says. "Those are the things that kids need to be focused on now... because that's our the next generation of scientists and researchers."

Still, there was some value in the question-and-answer style, Unterman and Sample say. Often multiple scientists would chime in, arguing and adding to each other's responses. That type of dialogue isn't easily replicated with a Google search.

"Let's say you want to describe a cow. A very, very first attempt might be 'Well, let's make it a sphere.' That might be the level for a kindergartener, or a third grader. Another scientist might come in and say, 'Well, that's not really so,' and they'd start adding a head and legs. And somebody else might say, 'You could look at it that way but really...' and they'd start adding a tail and ears and horns and all of that," Unterman says. "Just how far do we simplify it, and have we simplified it to the point that it's just no longer true? We had some interesting interactions like that, which were stimulating and enriching."

Both teachers said they are grateful for impact the site had were disappointed to see it go, but ultimately understood its time had come. Unterman notes that if Argonne let the site simply stay online, the information could become outdated and NEWTON would be doing more harm than good.

Still, for those who still want to poke around, this relic of early ed tech lives on via the Internet archive.

"There were real people behind [the site]. There are all kinds of facts and figures and numbers ... and that's great, but there's also a human side to it, which – while it lasted – was great fun," Unterman says. "It's a little bit of a time capsule, I suppose."

Eat Your Veggies! Even The Ones From Fukushima

NPR News - Thu, 2015-03-05 12:55

Foods from Fukushima, Japan, are back to pre-accident levels of radiation but people still aren't eating them. One way to ease concerns: a chemical that blocks radioactive cesium from entering plants.

» E-Mail This

Pages