National News

U.S. Boosts Security At Facilities Ahead Of Torture Report's Release

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 10:54

The White House says the report "could lead to a greater risk" to U.S. facilities and individuals around the world, but that the president supported the Senate's release scheduled for Tuesday.

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2014 A Year Of 'Unspeakable Brutality' For Children In Conflict Zones

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 10:19

The United Nations Children's Fund says that an estimated 230 million children around the world live in countries where there are armed conflicts.

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End Fraternities' Suspension, UVa Urged, Amid 'Rolling Stone' Fallout

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 10:00

The call by national organizations representing fraternities and sororities comes after the magazine acknowledged "discrepancies" in its story on gang rape. The story had prompted the suspensions.

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Despite Decline, Elective Early Births Remain A Medicaid Problem

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 09:47

The rate for early elective delivery for women covered by Medicaid has fallen since 2007. Still, the early births remain common and are a potential source of health trouble for mothers and babies.

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Going on a therapeutic shopping spree

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 09:43

The end of the year means plenty of deadlines, and here's one that maybe you forgot about: spending down all the tax-free money socked away in a healthcare flexible spending account, or FSA.

When that happens, a lot of us go shopping, says Kate Goughary, who manages Modern Eye in West Philadelphia.

Our buzz months are usually in June and December,” she says. June because its the end of many firms’ fiscal years, and December because of FSAs.

I always just say, 'Don't panic,’” she says. “We're here to help, and I have something in this store for every budget and every face.”

People get so worked up because, historically, flexible spending accounts have been use-it-or-lose-it. That changed last fall, and now you can set aside up to $2,550 and roll over as much as $500 to the next year.

So there won't be as much of a rush at the end of the year for employees to spend money on things that they don't really need,” says Bruce Elliott with the Society for Human Resource Management.

The new rule came out so late in 2013 most employers didn't shift their policies, but Elliott expects that to change for 2015.

So if you have dollars left to spend, You can use it for just about any medical, dental or vision expense," Elliott says, "as long as it's not cosmetic and as long as it's therapeutic.”

Ebola, Schmebola — You Still Have To Look Good!

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 09:13

Liberians aren't letting a brutal epidemic put a crimp in their amazing sense of fashion. The streets are still full of stylish folks, because as the local saying goes, "Looking good is business."

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Fringe No More: 'Ancient Grains' Will Soon Be A Cheerios Variety

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 09:05

General Mills helped define the industrial era of American breakfasting with its ringlets of processed oats. Soon, it'll put out a version with "ancient grains," which aren't, actually, very ancient.

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Supreme Court Rejects BP's Challenge To Gulf Oil Spill Settlement

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 08:51

The oil giant had hoped to limit how much it will pay under a 2012 settlement with people and businesses on the Gulf Coast. BP originally estimated it would pay $7.8 billion to settle claims.

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When A Stray Dog's In Trouble, Katmandu's Canine Rescuers Jump To It

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 07:43

The city is home to some 20,000 strays. They roam the streets, they beg for food, they howl and fight at night and they often need medical help.

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IOC Unveils Changes Including Lower Bidding Costs, More Sports At Olympics

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 07:31

The changes adopted today at a two-day meeting in Monaco include a new Olympic channel. They are all part of biggest change in decades to the International Olympic Committee.

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Democratic Mayors Back Obama's Immigration Plan, Citing Economic Benefits

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 07:23

Some 20 U.S. mayors meeting in New York hope to persuade some 4 million undocumented residents to come forward and apply for deferred action.

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Doctors Are Slow To Adopt Changes In Breast Cancer Treatment

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 07:20

There's not much evidence that radiation increases survival in older women with early-stage breast cancer, but doctors are still prescribing it. It can be hard to get doctors to change protocols.

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21 Dead As Hagupit Hits Philippines; Storm's Impact Less Severe Than Expected

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 06:19

Hagupit, now a tropical storm, forced more than a million people into shelters after it made landfall on Saturday. But it spared the Philippines the devastation of last year's Typhoon Haiyan.

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Bay Area Protests Turn Violent For Second Night In A Row

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 05:48

Demonstrators vandalized businesses and blocked traffic on a freeway. The protests came in the wake of police killings in Missouri and New York.

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Kids' Drawings Speak Volumes About Home

NPR News - Mon, 2014-12-08 05:25

A first-grader's quick doodle can tell researchers plenty about what's happening — or not happening — at home.

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Quiz: Charter school city

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 04:43

More than 2.7 million students attend charter schools in 42 states, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

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Japan sinks into a deeper recession

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 03:00
1.9 percent

That's how much Japan's economy shrunk in the third quarter compared to the second, Bloomberg reported. That puts the country in a deeper recession than predicted.

113th

The 113th Congress comes to an end in a couple weeks, which makes for a lame-duck session. Before then, lawmakers have to figure out how to fund the government, and they have to deal with both a defense bill and tax breaks that are set to expire.

5 percent

That's the portion of New York City cops who bring charges in 40 percent of resisting arrest cases. That's according to a report from WNYC, which also notes 60 percent of officers didn't charge anyone with the crime. 

November 24

The day a grand jury declined to charge Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, not long after, another cop in New York would be cleared of similar charges. Twitter tracked the hashtags "#HandsUpDontShoot," "#BlackLivesMatter" and "#ICantBreathe." That day through last week, to see how protests changes over time.

PODCAST: Diversifying the police force

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 03:00

First up on today's show: how H&R Block is doing with its strategy of offering help with ACA stuff as a way to bring new customers in to the tax service. Plus, after Ferguson, there has been more than a little talk about making police forces more reflective of the communities they serve. But that's no panacea. And new research out of Pew says lame duck sessions of Congress are more productive than you might think. But what about this Congress in particular -- how effective has it been, and can we really expect a surge in productivity?

Ben Affleck on sustainable aid in the Eastern Congo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 02:00

Actor and philanthropist, Ben Affleck sat down with David Brancaccio to talk about Affleck's foundation, the Eastern Congo Initiative. The organization is an advocacy and grant-making initiative focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo.  

Five facts about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the history of conflict in the country: 

  • With a population of more than 68 million people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa, and the 18th most populous country in the world
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the second-largest rainforest in the world – 18% of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforests are in the region.
  • More than 250 ethnic groups reside in the Democratic Republic of Congo and they speak more than 240 languages.
  • Violence, poverty and disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo have claimed the lives of more than 5 million men, women and children.
  • Despite democratic elections and multiple peace agreements, the eastern region is still impacted by conflict – more than 1.3 million people are not able to return to their homes.

 

Ben Affleck walks among a crowd at a camp outside of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Credit: Barbara Kinney

 

Ben Affleck on his first visits to eastern Congo, and what made him want to help: 

"The people who were living there were not, you know, hiding under tables. They were not cowering before warlords. You could go to a city and people were still going to work, and trying to sell cellphone chips and bananas and these little scooters, and that the human spirit was such that they wanted not only to live, but to thrive and to succeed. In fact, the very same things we believe in fervently here. Sort of the American dream. The Congolese had a very similar dream, and I was moved by that.

"You know I had a sort of ... subconsciously labored under this delusion that's fostered here when we see images of Africans. You know, swollen bellies, laying on their back, flies on their eyes, [saying] "help us," you know, that sort of thing, waiting for a handout. And these were people who in particular in the community-based organizations that I was drawn to who were doing that work for themselves and in an extremely smart and dedicated way."

 On how he is trying to help: 

"When we looked at aid and traditional aid and aid models and [at] what was successful, we found a really mixed bag. In fact, opponents of aid will point out that $50 billion has been given over the last 70 years, and there hasn't been much progress. Part of what we believed was that that was because, in large measure, it was about western people paying themselves to go over there and sort of wander around and do very short-term projects. So we wanted to do something sustainable that would raise incomes and that would be there long after we were gone. And so what we chose was coffee and cocoa. Both of which [for]  the Congolese were huge businesses and huge agricultural sources of revenue before the war." 

 On being just another guy from California who thinks he's got the prescription for fixing problems half a world away: 

"One of the flaws that we identified when I first started traveling and doing research was that you have large NGOs [non-governmental organizations] who sort of plant themselves in the region and say, "This is how you're going to do it." And I sort of liken it to as if the Chinese showed up in Iowa and said, "No, no, no this is how you're going to farm." They may have a good technique for farming, but the cultural issues and the dramatic change would be such that it would be counterproductive. So what we do is we identify the community organizations who are already in the communities. Who already have the relationships. Who are already leaders in the communities. Who have experience with what they're doing, and we help foster growth with them. We help support them. We help expand what they can do....

"I am keenly aware of the fact that I am a guy from California. That despite the fact that I've been [to] the region nine times, and have done a lot of research and know a lot of people down there, that doesn't make me an expert. What makes me smart is that I listen to experts, and most of all I listen to the Congolese." 

 

 

Close-up of coffee beans from one of the Eastern Congo Initiative's partner cooperatives.

Credit: Michael Christopher Brown

 

 

Affleck also has a few suggestions for how to get involved and help. You can also listen to them by clicking on the above audio link: 

  • Support and buy products made by the Congolese.
  • Become aware of the issues.
  • Become a constituency and support politicians who support these issues. 

You can find more information and ways to help at easterncongo.org 

Note: Listen to Marketplace Morning Report this week and next for more stories about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Marketplace reporter, Sabri Ben-Achour, went to Congo for two weeks, and produced stories about the difficulties the country is facing, corruption, war, and the courageous struggle that individuals have to go through to rebuild their lives.

Ben Affleck on the Eastern Congo Initiative

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-12-08 02:00

Actor and philanthropist, Ben Affleck sat down with David Brancaccio to talk about Affleck's foundation, the Eastern Congo Initiative. The organization is an advocacy and grant-making initiative focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo. 

 

Five facts about the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the history of conflict in the country:

 

  • With a population of more than 68 million people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa, and the 18th most populous country in the world
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to the second-largest rainforest in the world – 18% of the planet’s remaining tropical rainforests are in the region.
  • More than 250 ethnic groups reside in the Democratic Republic of Congo and they speak more than 240 languages.
  • Violence, poverty and disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo have claimed the lives of more than 5 million men, women and children.
  • Despite democratic elections and multiple peace agreements, the eastern region is still impacted by conflict – more than 1.3 million people are not able to return to their homes.

 

Ben Affleck walks among a crowd at a camp outside of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Credit: Barbara Kinney

 

Ben Affleck on his first visits to eastern Congo, and what made him want to help:

 

"The people who were living there were not, you know, hiding under tables. They were not cowering before warlords. You could go to a city and people were still going to work, and trying to sell cellphone chips and bananas and these little scooters, and that the human spirit was such that they wanted not only to live, but to thrive and to succeed. In fact, the very same things we believe in fervently here. Sort of the American dream. The Congolese had a very similar dream, and I was moved by that.

"You know I had a sort of ... subconsciously labored under this delusion that's fostered here when we see images of Africans. You know, swollen bellies, laying on their back, flies on their eyes, [saying] "help us," you know, that sort of thing, waiting for a handout. And these were people who in particular in the community-based organizations that I was drawn to who were doing that work for themselves and in an extremely smart and dedicated way."

 

On how he is trying to help:

 

"When we looked at aid and traditional aid and aid models and [at] what was successful, we found a really mixed bag. In fact, opponents of aid will point out that $50 billion has been given over the last 70 years, and there hasn't been much progress. Part of what we believed was that that was because, in large measure, it was about western people paying themselves to go over there and sort of wander around and do very short-term projects. So we wanted to do something sustainable that would raise incomes and that would be there long after we were gone. And so what we chose was coffee and cocoa. Both of which [for]  the Congolese were huge businesses and huge agricultural sources of revenue before the war." 

 

On being just another guy from California who thinks he's got the prescription for fixing problems half a world away:

 

"One of the flaws that we identified when I first started traveling and doing research was that you have large NGOs [non-governmental organizations] who sort of plant themselves in the region and say, "This is how you're going to do it." And I sort of liken it to as if the Chinese showed up in Iowa and said, "No, no, no this is how you're going to farm." They may have a good technique for farming, but the cultural issues and the dramatic change would be such that it would be counterproductive. So what we do is we identify the community organizations who are already in the communities. Who already have the relationships. Who are already leaders in the communities. Who have experience with what they're doing, and we help foster growth with them. We help support them. We help expand what they can do....

"I am keenly aware of the fact that I am a guy from California. That despite the fact that I've been [to] the region nine times, and have done a lot of research and know a lot of people down there, that doesn't make me an expert. What makes me smart is that I listen to experts, and most of all I listen to the Congolese." 

 

 

Close-up of coffee beans from one of the Eastern Congo Initiative's partner cooperatives.

Credit: Michael Christopher Brown

 

 

Affleck also has a few suggestions for how to get involved and help. You can also listen to them by clicking on the above audio link:

 

  • Support and buy products made by the Congolese.
  • Become aware of the issues.
  • Become a constituency and support politicians who support these issues.

 

You can find more information and ways to help at easterncongo.org

 

Note: Listen to Marketplace Morning Report this week and next for more stories about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Marketplace reporter, Sabri Ben-Achour, went to Congo for two weeks, and produced stories about the difficulties the country is facing, corruption, war, and the courageous struggle that individuals have to go through to rebuild their lives.

 

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