National News

China Puts Brass On Trial In Fight Against Military Corruption

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 23:45

China's fast-growing armed forces face increased scrutiny over how they are spending what is now the world's second-largest military budget.

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New Orleans Police Hope To 'Win The City Back,' One Kid At A Time

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 23:44

In a city notorious for its murder rate, more than 90 percent of victims are black. To help break the cycle, police are testing a new approach: trying to win the hearts and minds of middle-schoolers.

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When a slow news week involves a plane crash...

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-13 23:00

Here's what I want to know: When did it become August and I missed it?

I mean, yes, there've been a few things happening business- and economy-wise since Monday, but honestly, it's been kind of slow. Sitting here early in May, you'd just think there'd be... more, you know?

So with that, a couple of themes and/or trends I've got my eye on:

  • I know I say this on the air all the time, but I'm constantly amazed by how enduring the effects of the financial crisis are. To wit, the announcement Tuesday by Mel Watt, the head of the FHFA, that he's going to make sure there's still plenty of liquidity – money – in the mortgage system. We'll see whether that's a smart idea or not, but it's yet another sign it ain't over yet. See also: Geithner, Tim and his new book, about which you heard... well... elsewhere on public radio.
  • Bigger really is better. The Wall Street Journal's been all over this, but apparently AT&T wants to buy DirecTV for $50 billion, in part to keep pace with the Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal. Roll that in with the still-burbling Pfizer/Astra Zeneca talks over in London – at $106 billion, if you can believe that – and I think it spells M&A boom.
  • Pay no attention to the stock market. That is all.

Special bonus thing: Last week I was talking about going out in Jim Fallows' plane for another installment of the project we've got going with him – American Futures. He flies a Cirrus SR-22, for reasons that'll become clear in about three sentences. Anyway, Jim came and picked me up in Birmingham, Alabama, and flew us back over to Columbus, Mississippi. Nice easy flight, if a little bumpy. But that's not what I wanted to mention. Two days after I got back to Los Angeles, Jim posted this on his blog at the Atlantic. Crazy, huh?

The radio story – about Columbus, Mississippi, and what we found there (not about planes parachuting safely to earth) is set to air next week.

Pentagon OKs Manning Transfer For Gender Treatment

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 20:52

Pvt. Chelsea Manning, formerly named Bradley, was convicted of sending classified documents to WikiLeaks. The soldier has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman.

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A history of telecom mergers, charted

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-13 20:17

AT&T is reportedly close to making an offer to buy DirecTV in a deal that would value the satellite dish TV operator at nearly $50 billion.

According to the Wall Street Journal: 

"A deal could boost the flow of cash that AT&T could use to pay its dividend and fund a build out of its broadband Internet infrastructure, analysts have said. It also comes as AT&T increasingly views video—whether via pay TV service or delivered over the Web or its wireless network—as central to its future.

Adding satellite TV capabilities also could allow AT&T to free up valuable bandwidth on its Internet connections to customer homes."

The possible merger has us thinking about the history of media consolidation:

Tea Party Favorite Captures Nebraska Senate Primary

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 19:39

The bitter race highlight fissures within the Republican Party. Also Tuesday, two women set the stage for history-making in West Virginia.

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Judge Strikes Down Idaho's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 18:35

Gay couples can begin to marry as soon as Friday morning unless an appeals court puts a stay on the decision. It was the second state in less than a week to have its ban wiped out by a judge.

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Oscar-Winning Director Malik Bendjelloul Dies At 36

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 16:46

Swede Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man, won a Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 2013. He died in Stockholm.

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Wildfire Evacuation Orders Lifted For Most In Southern California

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 16:25

More than 20,000 residents around San Diego have been allowed to return home. In Santa Barbara County, a small number of homes and business still must stay away.

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Obama Sanctions Individuals In Central African Republic

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 16:00

The sanctions against an ex-president of the CAR and four other rebel leaders comes amid escalating sectarian violence.

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Longtime Congressman John Conyers Off Primary Ballot

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 15:09

A local election official says the Detroit Democrat, who has served in the U.S. House since 1965, failed to collect enough valid signatures.

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Sorry, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-13 14:29

Former Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner has a new book out, as you may have heard. 

As part of the publicity campaign, the website Charitybuzz auctioned off lunch with Mr. Geithner today, with proceeds to benefit the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.

$50,000 was the winning bid.

Nice and all, but a good deal shy of the 2013 record holder... a $610,000 lunch with Apple CEO Tim Cook.

 

 

Last Chance To See Astronaut's 'Space Oddity' Video

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 14:06

The YouTube video of astronaut Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station is set to come down as the licensing agreement on the iconic David Bowie song expires.

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2 Die In W.Va. Mine With Troubled Safety Record

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 13:22

A review of federal mine safety data shows that the Brody mine had a rate of violations more than twice the national average for underground coal mines.

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Pub Owner Frustrated That Health Plan Prices Keep Jumping

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 12:53

The ACA may eventually smooth out the volatility in health insurance costs for small businesses. But for the next few years, it could be a bumpy — and expensive — ride for some firms.

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Oregon's Legendary Wandering Wolf May Have Met A Mate

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 12:49

OR-7, as he is known, traveled from northeast Oregon all the way to California for years in search of a new home and a chance for a mate. Now, biologists say, he may have found a mate.

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Gardeners' Gems: Designer Crops That Will Wow The Neighbors

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 12:38

For the fashion-conscious gardener, here are the most colorful and flavorful new edibles. This year's picks include the indigo tomato, wasabi and a pineapple-flavored berry.

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The high-tech shop teacher of the future

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-13 12:28

Now that much of the grunt work in American manufacturing is done by machines, we need skilled, high-paid workers to run those machines. Specifically, workers with more math and engineering knowledge than in the past. And the manufacturing industry worries that schools aren't teaching future workers what they'll need to know.

Educators are working with industry to change that; in some cases by combining cutting-edge technology with an old-school educational concept. Some of this thinking is in action in upstate New York, on the tech-focused campus of Hudson Valley Community College. A group of high school students is huddled around teacher Darrel Ackroyd, who is showing them a 3-D printer. As the machine whirs and slices out patterns, one student wants to know if it could print out a person.

"In a plastic form, yes," Ackroyd answers.

This cracks the students up and they immediately start joking about the possibilities of "3-D selfies." But they take their tech seriously, and they pepper the teacher with thoughtful questions about speed, cost and potential uses of the technology.

Ackroyd is young, with a hipster beard and man bun. Despite his techie image, he's also a kind of a throwback to a character these students' grandparents would recognize: the high school shop teacher.

Schools are bringing back this tradition of showing students how to work with their hands, this time with a high-tech twist. Now, instead of a crappy birdhouse and a mouthful of sawdust, students get hands-on technology experience that could help them land well-paying jobs.

"We're preparing our students for jobs that don't exist yet," says Laurel Logan-King, assistant superintendent at Ballston Spa Central School District.

Ballston Spa runs the program, but students in districts from around the region are eligible. They can get college credit studying here, which saves them (and their parents) money. But the big draw is the chance to get their hands on some of the latest technology, from nanotechnology to green energy.

The program, a partnership between high school, higher education and industry, is new, so educators often have to explain the benefits of working with technology that some find strange, maybe even scary.

"It's really about creating that awareness, not only for the students, but also for the parents, so that they can have an understanding about what are these new opportunities that are going to be available for my children," Logan-King explains.

Bringing students from around the region to a well-equipped college campus gives them the chance to have experiences like the realization student Morgan Pakatar had when she first suited up to enter a nanotech lab.

"I'm just, like, I feel cool, this is awesome, this is what I wanna do," she remembers.

That's what educators and tech companies hope for from programs like this: a new generation of workers excited about the jobs of the future, with marketable skills that only hands-on learning can provide.

New Lab Technique Could One Day Make Malaria Easier To Treat

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 12:20

A malaria patient can carry different parasites that respond differently to drugs. Now there's a way to profile the parasites, which could someday lead to more tailored treatments.

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Meds Can Help Problem Drinkers, But Many Doctors Don't Know That

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-13 12:19

People are rarely offered medication to help them stop drinking. But there are drugs that work, and they don't make you sick. Instead they target the underlying mechanisms of addiction.

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