National News

Drought-Friendly Recipes Kick Up The Flavor — And Cut Back On Water

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-08 05:46

An LA chef and his partner are cooking up recipes using ingredients that require less water to grow and cook with. They want to get us thinking about the resources that go into growing our food.

» E-Mail This

Kalief Browder, Jailed For Years At Rikers Island Without Trial, Commits Suicide

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-08 04:29

Browder was arrested because he allegedly stole a backpack. His family couldn't afford to pay bail so he languished in jail for years, enduring beatings and solitary confinement.

» E-Mail This

PODCAST: Calpers could shake up Wall Street

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 03:09

The biggest of public pension funds could shake up Wall Street today. More on that. Plus, in the weeks before the Supreme Court reveals its opinion about same-sex marriage again, it is not clear what the U.S. Military will enforce on equality for gay members. We take a closer look. And San Francisco’s city attorney has filed a lawsuit against McDonalds stating the local franchise right next to the Golden Gate Park should be controlling the population that congregate around its doors. But is it a local business responsibility to clean up the area?

Calpers' quest to pay lower money management fees

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 03:00

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund, is expected to announce Monday that it’s taking a big red marker to the list of firms managing its money, cutting their number by roughly half.

At the heart of this is an attempt to lower the amount of money the pension giant pays to companies that manage its billions, says Kent Smetters, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Smetters expects other pension funds to follow Calpers’ lead.

Calpers also recently announced they were getting out of hedge funds for a similar reason.

Why this focus on lowering expenses?

“They’re only about 77 percent funded,” says Robert Pozen, who teaches at Harvard Business School. “Unfortunately, like most of these funds, they don’t have enough money now to invest to pay all these benefits over time.”

Pozen says by investing more money with fewer firms, Calpers will have more clout to negotiate lower fees. Cutting those costs now means more money for pensioners in the future. 

Day 2 Of G-7 Meeting Focuses On Climate Change, Terrorism

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-08 02:55

The first day was dominated by talks on Russia, which was left out of the meeting for the second year. President Obama declared that the U.S. was "inseparable" from its European allies.

» E-Mail This

Tesla challenge to dealers goes beyond electric cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 02:00

Tesla Motors is in a state by state fight to sell its electric cars directly to consumers. States have strong franchise laws that give only dealers that privilege, and dealers are using their political power to keep it that way. But maybe not all of them. Some on Wall Street think a few dealers might be fine with Tesla getting its way.

The issue is way bigger than Tesla, which sells a relative handful of cars. Franchise laws protect dealers from competition. But they can also make it tricky for certain dealers to get bigger.

“If these laws were amended or liberalized more to open up the opportunities that dealers have to consolidate, that would actually be to their advantage,” says Dan Crane, associate dean at Michigan’s Law School.

Crane and other Tesla supporters say that opening up the system would lower prices for consumers. But it could also set off a wave of mergers. There are thousands of car dealers. Buyouts could shrink that to hundreds, even dozens. Many established dealers don’t want that, so they’re fighting to preserve their franchise laws.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Mark Garrison: If you wanna dig into franchise laws, buckle up, says longtime auto exec Gerry Meyers.

Gerry Meyers: I’m glad you raised the subject, because it’s a can of worms.

And it’s way bigger than Tesla, which only sells a handful of cars in any case. Franchise laws protect dealers from competition. But they can also make it tricky for certain dealers to get bigger, says Dan Crane, associate dean at Michigan’s Law School.

Dan Crane: If these laws were amended or liberalized more to open up the opportunities that dealers have to consolidate, that would actually be to their advantage.

Crane and other Tesla supporters argue opening up the system would lower prices for consumers. But it could also set off a wave of mergers. There are thousands of car dealers. Buyouts could shrink that to hundreds, even dozens. But many established dealers don’t want that, so they’re fighting.

Brian Terr: They’re tremendously strong.

Edmunds.com VP Brian Terr says dealer political power, built on jobs and money they bring local communities, means franchise laws will be tough to change anytime soon. I'm Mark Garrison, for Marketplace.

Some gay veterans get fewer benefits

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 02:00

The Senate resumes debate on Monday on the National Defense Authorization Act, after last week failing to pass an amendment that would have changed the law to ensure all married gay veterans receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts.

Currently, the law says the VA can only consider a veteran married if the marriage is legal in the state where that veteran lives. That means in 13 states, where same-sex marriage is not legal, gay vets lose out on some benefits.

Ashley Broadway, who lives in Virginia where same-sex marriage is legal, is the president of The American Military Partner Association, an advocacy group.

"I'm a spouse of an almost 20-year active duty service member," who is planning to retire in a few years, Broadway says. They have two children together. And, Broadway says, they are concerned about where they will live in the future.

Broadway wants a change in the law so that wherever they move in retirement, "we would be able to have the same type of benefits that our straight counterparts [have]."

Those benefits include certain disability benefits, which are increased for married vets with children, and certain medical benefits which are available to their family members.

The amendment that failed last week was offered by New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

"If anybody ought to be treated equally, it ought to be those people who have put their lives on the line for this country," Shaheen says.

The issue could be moot if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, in a decision that is expected by the end of June. But if the high court's ruling is more nuanced and open to interpretation, Shaheen says a bill may be the way to address the issue.

Some gay veterans get less benefits

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 02:00

The Senate resumes debate on Monday on the National Defense Authorization Act, after last week failing to pass an amendment that would have changed the law to ensure all married gay veterans receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts.

Currently, the law says the VA can only consider a veteran married if the marriage is legal in the state where that veteran lives. That means in 13 states, where same-sex marriage is not legal, gay vets lose out on some benefits.

Ashley Broadway, who lives in Virginia where same-sex marriage is legal, is the president of The American Military Partner Association, an advocacy group.

"I'm a spouse of an almost 20-year active duty service member," who is planning to retire in a few years, Broadway says. They have two children together. And, Broadway says, they are concerned about where they will live in the future.

Broadway wants a change in the law so that wherever they move in retirement, "we would be able to have the same type of benefits that our straight counterparts [have]."

Those benefits include certain disability benefits, which are increased for married vets with children, and certain medical benefits which are available to their family members.

The amendment that failed last week was offered by New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

"If anybody ought to be treated equally, it ought to be those people who have put their lives on the line for this country," Shaheen says.

The issue could be moot if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, in a decision that is expected by the end of June. But if the high court's ruling is more nuanced and open to interpretation, Shaheen says a bill may be the way to address the issue.

San Francisco threatens to sue McDonald's over drug dealing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 02:00

There's an area right by Golden Gate Park in Haight-Ashbury that's known as a place to buy marijuana and psychedelics. The city has tried for decades to “clean up” the drug dealing. Now, it is putting pressure on one specific business—the local McDonald's.

Drugs are part of Haight-Ashbury's legacy—you know, Summer of Love, Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, LSD. That past still draws a certain crowd. Drifters go to play music, panhandle, and smoke pot. Many congregate on the edge of the park around McDonald's and some offer drugs to people passing by.

The city says the situation has gotten out of hand, and that serial drug dealers are doing business on McDonald’s property. It sent a letter to both McDonald’s Corporation and the local franchisee. The gist was that the business had to crack down on the illegal activity or risk a lawsuit.

Megan Cesare-Eastman is an attorney with the city. She says, “All we’re asking them to do is to take reasonable steps to change some of their operating procedures to make their property less attractive for that illegal activity to occur.”

The city is not specifying exactly what the business would have to do, but Cesare-Eastman says it should be something along the lines of adding security or putting up a fence around the back parking lot. 

Now there is a precedent for this kind of lawsuit where businesses are sued for illegal activity on their properties. But local attorney John Kithas says the city would have a tough case here. He says it would have to prove McDonald’s is a substantial part of the problem, which remember has been happening here for decades.

Kithas says, “The bottom line is that it is society's problem and the city is dumping on McDonald's potentially.”

It is no surprise drifters and drug dealers congregate at this McDonald’s. The rest of the neighborhood is pretty gentrified. Exhibit A: the Whole Foods across the street.

Mikias Lenherr is standing outside the McDonald's drinking a McDonald's coffee. He says, “the gentrification of San Francisco has become completely ridiculous.”

Lenherr is homeless. He says McDonald's is one of the last places to use the bathroom and get a cheap meal. He says he can't afford Whole Foods, adding that “those Jalapeno McDoubles are frickin pretty good.”

Some local businesses support pressure on McDonald's. Jerry Johnson sells hippie trinkets, but he says these modern drifters hurt his business. He wants security at McDonald’s. At the same time he says it will not solve the real issues here—poverty and homelessness.

Johnson says, “I've always said this homeless problem isn't a police problem, it's a society problem. We're just shifting the problem around. We're not solving anything.”

The city’s letter has already had an effect. McDonald's has hired some private security. That may stop some of the drug sales, but it probably won’t keep away those hoping to catch a puff of Haight-Ashbury's hippie past.

Does diversity make a difference in policing?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 02:00

One solution that’s proposed by civil rights advocates to deal with problems of racial profiling and excessive use of force on minority suspects is to increase police ­force diversity. The idea is that if officers on the beat more closely resemble people on the street, then this will reduce police-community conflict. This is especially relevant in big cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and Oakland, and smaller cities such as Ferguson, Missouri, where the population is now majority black and Hispanic, but the police force is still majority-white.

But it is not clear—based on anecdotal evidence from police forces around the country, and academic research on policing—whether having more officers of color would actually help protect people of color from racially biased treatment by police.

At a law enforcement expo near Portland, Oregon, recently, vendors were demonstrating police­-training video simulators. The company VirTra, from Tempe, Arizona, offers its V-300 simulator for police and military use-of-force training. It features a 300-degree video-screen array. Armed with laser-equipped Glock service revolvers, the participating police trainee(s) stand on a raised platform and are faced with an evolving scenario to which they decide how to respond in real-time. Possible scenarios range from a drunk driver who refuses to pull over, to active shooters in a school.

Veteran instructor Scott Dilullo of VirTra runs the use-of-force simulations. He says in one scenario an active shooter is in a movie theatre. The cops being trained virtually enter a lobby, where a side door then opens. Dilullo describes what happens next: “We have a black male off­-duty officer come out with a badge in his hand, and a gun. We have officers [in the training] shooting him even though he’s screaming ‘I’m a cop, I’m a cop, I’m a cop.’ They’re not seeing the color of his skin; that’s not coming into play. What it is, is that they see the gun, and they’re reacting to it.”

However, academic research on this shows many police do react to the race of the person they confront. Joshua Correll is a psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Colorado. In his experiments, Correll puts subjects, including police officers, in front of a screen, and a character pops up: black, or white, holding a gun, or holding a non-threatening object such as a can of Coke or a cellphone.

Correll says police in general react correctly to the threat they face, assuming they are properly trained. “Police officers are pretty good at making the right decision, shooting the guy with the gun and not shooting the guy with the cellphone, and race doesn’t dramatically impact their decisions,” says Correll. “They’re not more likely to shoot a black target than to shoot a white target."

But Correll has also found a difference in police-reaction that is based on race. “When we look at their response times, we do see a pattern of racial bias in police officers. Such that, if it’s a black guy with a gun, they respond really quickly, and if it’s a white guy with a gun, they make the right decision, they shoot him, but it takes them a second. It’s like, they have to override active stereotypes to make the right response.”

Correll says this result mirrors other psychological research on racial bias and stereotyping, which he says are communicated in movies, music, news reports and other media. “When a black target pops up on a screen, participants show this kind-of enhanced attention, similar to what people show when they respond to a threat,” says Correll. “It may not be conscious, it may not be intentional, it may not be something that they are personally comfortable with. But in our society they pick up on the association between race and threat.”

And Correll says the response is essentially the same regardless of the race of the  human subject being tested. “We’ve looked at undergraduates, people in the community, people in law enforcement,” says Correll. “If the participant is black rather than white, are they less likely to associate a black target with danger? The answer is generally no.”

Professor Delores Jones-Brown studies race and policing at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and based on the academic literature, she believes that “diversifying the identity of the people on the police department is not a panacea to police brutality, misconduct or poor police-community relations.”

Jones-Brown continues: “There is a bit of naivete that if you have an officer of color, that officer can’t engage in racial profiling. And I think all the evidence suggests that’s not the case. We do see black civilians, particularly black men, as potentially more dangerous, potentially more criminal, than others. Even black and other minority police officers engage in that stereotype as well. One explanation is that they may be attempting to prove themselves as worthy of the police culture, or demonstrate to their white counterparts that they’re not being more lenient on their own ethnic group.”

NYPD patrol officer Sean Forbes sees this in his daily work. He works in multiple precincts in Brooklyn, and often responds with his duty officer to crime scenes where suspects, witnesses and other civilians allege police mistreatment or misconduct based on race.

Forbes is black and says he sometimes sees other minority cops treating people of color more harshly than white cops do.

“The reality is, some of the guys that I deal with are worse” than white cops, says Forbes. “I’ve seen officers of color—black and Hispanic—who basically fit into the ‘I’ve got to prove myself, I’ve got to make these guys realize I’m in charge’ kind of attitude.”

Forbes says he does feel more comfortable responding to a disturbance or crime when there are other officers color on the scene. And he believes recruiting more police of color in New York and other cities would help build trust and acceptance for law enforcement in minority communities.

Still, attracting more black and Hispanic recruits continues to be an elusive goal. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2013, the percentage of black police officers nationwide was 12 percent, and had not risen since 1997. Blacks make up 13.2 percent of U.S. population, according to the most recent census data. From 2007 to 2013, the percentage of Hispanic police increased from 10.3 percent to 11.6 percent. Hispanics make up 17.1 percent of U.S. population.

'It's like Uber, but for break-up texts'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-06-08 01:58
400

That's about how many messages have been submitted to Textie, a new site that lets users submit tricky, sometimes emotional messages like "Are you in love with me?" or "I need to move out" and crowdsource replies. The Washington Post's Intersect blog dug into some of these messages and why some of our most important conversations happen via SMS.

13

That's how many states currently ban same-sex marriage. And that can lead to a lot of problems for married gay veterans, as last week the Senate failed to pass an amendment that would ensure they receive the same benefits as their straight counterparts. The Senate resumes debate on Monday.

$440 million

That's how much the nude tourism industry is worth, according to its trade group. And it's not just beaches; there are nude cruises and even clothing-optional towns. Marketplace Weekend took a dive into this growing community with author Mark Haskell Smith, who stripped down himself to study it.

24.04 Mbps

That's the download speed of Helsinki's free public Wi-Fi network. Live since 2006, the hot spots are the result of a decision to concurrently install open networks in addition to the Wi-Fi being put into official buildings at the time. As Quartz reports, part of the city's ability to maintain such a service is the high municipal tax paid by Finnish citizens.

$2 million

That's how much was won by a team from Korea in a DARPA-sponsored robotics competition. Competitors completed a series of challenges based on disaster scenarios. But as reported by the New York Times, these were far from the elaborate droids currently seen in television and movies. It was seven and a half hours before the a robot was able to finish the first obstacle course.

75

That's how many suppliers Patagonia uses around the world to assemble its clothing and other products, the Atlantic reported. But that's just one part of a longer supply chain, including about 175 mills, farms and other manufacturers. That means it's difficult for even a more labor-conscious brand like Patagonia to ensure illegal or exploitative labor isn't used to create its products. The company is a case study for the clothing industry at large.

The Forces Behind The Decline Of For-Profit Colleges

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-08 01:06

New regulations are scheduled to take effect July 1 — the latest in a series of challenges to the industry.

» E-Mail This

Billionaire Or Bust: Who Are Rich Backers Lining Up With?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-06-08 01:00

Since the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, money in politics has exploded. To make it in this 2016 presidential candidates need their own billionaire. Here's who's lining up with who.

» E-Mail This

Lost Posture: Why Indigenous Cultures Don't Have Back Pain

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 23:25

There are a few populations in the world where back pain hardly exists. One woman thinks she has figured out why, and she's sharing their secrets. Have Americans forgotten how to stand properly?

» E-Mail This

The Truth About America's Graduation Rate

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 23:18

Graduation rates have been rising since 2002. NPR Ed asked 14 reporters at member stations around the country to find out why.

» E-Mail This

Amid Violence In Baghdad, A Musician Creates A One-Man Vigil

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 23:13

Karim Wasfi, conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, has been playing his cello at the sites of deadly attacks across Baghdad.

» E-Mail This

Cavaliers Even Up NBA Finals, Beating Warriors In Overtime

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 19:52

Game 2 in the NBA finals had a thrilling finish, as the Cleveland Cavaliers — missing their all-star point guard — beat the Golden State Warriors 95-93 in overtime.

» E-Mail This

'Fun Home,' 'Curious Incident' Take Home Top Tony Awards

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 19:17

The awards for best musical and best play went to two shows based on books, each of which once seemed like an improbable adaptation.

» E-Mail This

The Truth Behind Your State's High School Grad Rate

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 18:31

Graduation rates are rising across the nation — but what's happening in your state? Explore our NPR Ed grad rate database.

» E-Mail This

The Truth Behind Your State's High School Grad Rate

NPR News - Sun, 2015-06-07 18:31

Graduation rates are rising across the nation — but what's happening in your state? Explore our NPR Ed grad rate database.

» E-Mail This

Pages