National News

Sizzling summer nights: Working in a bacon factory

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-27 13:00

Do you remember your first job? It might have been radically different from the career you ended up with.

Rita Carbonari works in the development office of a liberal arts college, but in the early 1970s she worked the night shift in a bacon packing factory.

“My friends and I would go to the beach every day, and about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I’d go home, take off my bathing suit, put on a big heavy sweatshirt, warm pants and I’d spend the rest of the evening in a refrigerated bacon packing factory,” she says.

Carbonari worked her way up to being a weigher, where she controlled the speed of the line.

One day while she was working on the line, a chunk of bacon got caught in the slicer. It was tough to see just how large the machete-like blade was.

“I was poking my finger in there trying to get that bacon out of the way, and one of the supervisors came up and asked what I was doing," Carbonari says. "And he said, ‘Oh, well this is what happened when I did that.’ He held up his hand and he only had three fingers!”

She never poked her fingers into the slicer again.

The Largest For-Profit College Shutdown In History

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 12:48

Students say goodbye to Corinthian Colleges ... but not necessarily to their debt.

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Seven Baltimore Police Officers Hurt In Clashes With Protesters

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 12:38

Television images showed protesters throwing rocks and other objects at a line of police officers in one Baltimore neighborhood.

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For Europe-Bound Migrants, Desperation Outweighs Risks

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 12:12

At a charity center in Sicily, survivors of the dangerous sea crossings from Libya to Italy face legal and economic limbo and a frosty welcome. But it's still better than the places they fled.

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Don't Trust The Goats: Their Ticks Could Make You Sick

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 11:46

A goat is host to bacteria. A tick visits the goat, picks up the bacteria and spreads it to a human. And the bacteria turn out to cause a previously undiscovered disease.

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LOOK: Historic Nepal Sites Before And After The Quake

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 11:43

The human toll of the weekend's toll is massive, but the temblor has also damaged some of Kathmandu's most historic structures.

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Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 10:48

Excess fluoride consumption is leading to tiny white marks on many people's teeth. It's mainly a cosmetic problem, but one that could be solved by lowering the fluoride in drinking water.

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Sandwich Monday: Deep-Fried Cheese Curds

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 10:01

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try deep-fried cheese curds. They're a regional specialty and the reason we haven't left the Midwest.

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Chemical Change In Synthetic Marijuana Suspected Of Causing Illnesses

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 07:53

The number of people seen in the ER with psychotic symptoms or seizures after using a type of synthetic marijuana called K2 has soared. Manufacturers often change its chemistry to evade detection.

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With The U.S. In The Background, Afghan Commandos Step It Up

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 07:42

With fighting expected to pick up this spring, Afghanistan's security is heavily dependent on elite forces like the commandos. NPR's Tom Bowman profiles the top enlisted man.

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Loretta Lynch Sworn In As U.S. Attorney General

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 07:31

Lynch's nomination was confirmed last week by the U.S. Senate, five months after President Obama nominated her to succeed Eric Holder.

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Freddie Gray's Funeral Spurs Calls For Calm

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 07:06

After a weekend that saw violence and arrests, Gray's family and many public and religious figures are calling for peace in Baltimore. A huge turnout is expected for Monday's service.

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6 Novelists Withdraw From Event Honoring 'Charlie Hebdo' For Free Speech

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 06:00

Peter Carey and Rachel Kushner are among those who are withdrawing in protest from the PEN American Center's annual gala. Kushner says she is uncomfortable with Charlie Hebdo's "cultural intolerance."

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Leave The Selfie Sticks At Home, Wimbledon Says

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 05:58

Taking the same stance as the Kentucky Derby and major music festivals, the All England Lawn Tennis Club reportedly cited the devices' "nuisance value."

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James Holmes Trial Set To Begin In Colorado, 3 Years After Cinema Shooting

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 04:34

More than 1,000 days after James Holmes opened fire on an audience at a midnight movie premiere in Aurora, Colo., his trial will begin in earnest Monday.

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More Than 3,700 Dead In Nepal As Earthquake's Toll Rises

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-27 03:17

Aftershocks are rattling survivors' nerves and making the recovery even more challenging. In one district, 400,000 people were affected by the quake and more than 4,000 homes are now unsafe.

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The essential role of surgery

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-27 03:00

When we think about a global health crisis, we often think about specific diseases. But a new report out Monday in the Lancet challenges that view.

Authors point out a lack of adequate, timely and affordable surgical care resulted in a third of all deaths worldwide in 2010, or nearly 17 million lives—HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined for less than 4 million.

This paper reflects the shifting attitudes towards addressing global health problems. In a concrete way, we now have numbers that help get our arms around the essential role surgery plays.

First, the Lancet Commissioner on Global Surgery, which had input from 110 countries, found that 5 billion people don’t have access to surgery when they need it. Only a tiny sliver of all surgeries occur in the poorest countries.

The bottom line is that many easily treatable conditions effectively become death sentences. For example, 90 percent of maternal deaths could be averted—That’s 100,000 women a year. In the past, a lot of time and money has been devoted to a particular disease like malaria or TB.

But Dr. David Barash, Chief Medical Officer of the GE Foundation, says through combating Ebola, governments, philanthropists and industry are learning that tackling one disease in isolation is limited. Barash says what’s needed is a more robust public health infrastructure.

The awareness of what happened with Ebola really catalyzed everyone’s thinking that ‘Yes, it’s about the system, we need to invest in the system. Industry needs to be a part of that. Foundations need to be part of that. Academics need to be part of that,” he says.

Barash is optimistic this report will lead to action in part because it sets targets.

To improve global access to by 2030, 143 million more surgeries are needed each year, the health workforce must double, and there’s even a price tag: $350 billion.

Of course, the real hope is if you build infrastructure for surgeries, that same infrastructure will serve the public well during the next epidemic.

PODCAST: Aid in Nepal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-27 03:00

An update on aid after the earthquake in Nepal. Plus, President Obama is due to report to Congress today, the initial recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission. What’s at stake for military personnel and for the federal budget? And just a few years ago, the Tennessee Valley Authority made waves with plans to complete at least three mothballed reactors. After billions in cost overruns and a slowdown in power demand because of the economic downturn and increased efficiency, TVA says the single reactor being completed this year will be enough.

The situation in Nepal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-27 02:00

Aid workers have begun arriving in Nepal following Saturday's devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The death toll is reported at almost 4,000; that number is expected to grow.  This morning, we reached Sanjaya Dhakal, a reporter for the BBC in Nepal, on a line from Kathmandu.

Click the media player above to hear Sanjaya Dhakal describe current conditions in Nepal.

Powerful aftershocks were reported through the weekend. And as concerns grow over waterborne infections and diseases that could afflict survivors, aid workers are stressing the need for basic amenities  from the ground. Here are some of the numbers coming out of Nepal:

-Unicef is reporting that almost a million children in the area are in need of assistance.

-A cargo plane carrying about 70 aid workers was dispatched by the Pentagon on Sunday.  

-China also sent a rescue team of 62. A similar offer from the Taiwanese government was turned down, raising questions about how the power dynamics between bordering countries may play out in this situation. Nepal has historically served as a mid-way haven for Tibetans fleeing China into India.


Nuclear renaissance ebbs at largest public utility

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-27 02:00

The nation’s largest public utility is quietly scaling back expansion plans for nuclear power. Just eight years ago, the Tennessee Valley Authority was leading a nuclear renaissance, with plans to restart work on a handful of mothballed reactors. But splitting atoms to make electricity has become less attractive in the last few years.

The energy sector’s appetite for nuclear power has always ebbed and flowed. The plants are attractive because they create so much power in one place, but they’re also highly regulated by the federal government. They take many years to build and almost always cost more than anyone predicts.

And now there’s less demand for power.

“At least in the cases that we looked at, the need for a large base-load plant really doesn’t show up over time,” TVA vice president Joe Hoagland says of the utility’s new Integrated Resource Plan.

The new power predictions mean TVA will only finish Watts Bar Unit II, slated for completion later this year, after delays that span decades and cost overruns in the billions of dollars. Hoagland says demand just hasn’t picked up since the recession, and not just because big industrial customers went out of business—though they did. Consumers are more energy conscious, he says.

“The most obvious example of that would be the shift from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents,” Hoagland says.

Compounding the economic shift is the abundance of natural gas.

Richard Myers of the Nuclear Energy Institute says no one expected that the shale gas boom would be such a game changer.

“The volumes of gas that they found just truly blew everybody’s mind,” he says.

Utilities like TVA have been adding natural gas power plants, which are cheaper and more flexible than nuclear. But Myers figures nuclear’s time will still come.

“I think the new plants are going to get built when they’re needed, where they’re needed,” he says, noting that one in five U.S. households is powered by nuclear reactors.

Environmentalists who want to curtail the use of nuclear power in the U.S. agree with the assessment that the energy form will live on.

Don Safer of the Sierra Club says considering nuclear’s roller-coaster history, he figures it’s just a matter of time before the building boom resumes.

“It’s not over ‘til it’s over,” he says.