National News

It's A 'Year Of Fear' For Kids, U.N. Says. Can We Make Things Better?

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 09:09

Gordon Brown of the U.N. said it's the worst year for refugees since 1945, and cited a litany of other miseries for youth. We asked experts what can be done to make 2015 a little less horrible.

» E-Mail This

Hastert Due To Be Arraigned Next Week

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 08:37

The Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI spoke with two individuals who made accusations of sexual abuse against the former Speaker of the House

» E-Mail This

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley Seeks Democratic Nomination

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 06:55

O'Malley, also a former Baltimore mayor, has made no secret of his desire to run, despite his lack of a national profile. He faces an uphill battle against front-runner Hillary Clinton.

» E-Mail This

Newly Re-Elected, FIFA's Sepp Blatter Denies Ties To Corruption

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 06:00

At a press conference Saturday, newly re-elected FIFA president Sepp Blatter was defiant, insisting he had nothing to fear from the ongoing investigation. NPR's Scott Simon talks with AP's Rob Harris.

» E-Mail This

Under Cover Of Conflict, Hamas Killed Palestinians, Amnesty Alleges

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 05:21

The human rights organization says Hamas deliberately killed at least 23 Palestinians during the war with Israel last summer. Those killed were accused by Hamas of collaborating with Israel.

» E-Mail This

Death Toll In Texas, Oklahoma Floods At 28

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 05:14

The region is expecting more rain and officials warn that the Colorado River at Wharton could crest today, causing even more flooding in what has been the wettest May on record for the state.

» E-Mail This

Egypt Agrees To Deport U.S. Citizen Sentenced For Protests

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 04:10

In April, Mohamed Soltan, 27, was sentenced to life in prison for his ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. He had been on a more than year-long hunger strike.

» E-Mail This

Mary Ellen Mark And The Caged Prostitutes Of Mumbai

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 03:58

The photographer, who died this week, turned her lens on the marginal people of the world. One of her most acclaimed projects was her series of photos taken in the brothels of Mumbai.

» E-Mail This

South Korea Struggles To Contain Deadly MERS Virus' Spread

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 02:40

Health officials in South Korea are coming under fire after cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, swelled from one to 13 inside of two weeks.

» E-Mail This

Mecca Becomes A Mecca For Skyscraper Hotels

NPR News - Sat, 2015-05-30 02:16

Mecca is the destination for Muslim pilgrims. To house the millions of worshippers, massive hotels are rising at a furious pace, upsetting those seeking to protect the city's traditional architecture.

» E-Mail This

The Peace Corps wants ... baby boomers?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-29 16:06

According to the U.S. Peace Corps, 7 percent of its 6,818 volunteers are over the age of 50, and the international service organization would like to see that double. Retired volunteers, the agency says, bring unique life skills and professional experiences with them that allow them to instantly impact the communities they serve around the world.

Enter John and Rosemary Bottcher from Monticello, Florida, married 47 years. Rosemary, 72, is a retired environmental chemist, and John, 71, was an environmental attorney. They served together from 2011-2013 in Paraguay, where Rosemary taught secondary school and John worked in agricultural economics building sustainable gardens. 

"It was just a grand adventure," Rosemary says. "I just wanted to do something different, because lying about when you're retired can get pretty boring pretty fast." John and Rosemary's decided to join the Peace Corps after visiting their daughter, a volunteer herself, in Guatemala. 

 

CBS' Bob Schieffer Retires Sunday As Last Of The Old-School TV Anchors

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 15:55

Bob Schieffer, anchor of CBS' Face the Nation, retires Sunday after 46 years at the network. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says Schieffer is the last among a vanished breed of traditional news anchors.

» E-Mail This

FIFA Scandal Has Echoes Of Salt Lake Olympics Corruption Crisis

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 15:42

Officials of both organizations were accused of taking bribes. Leaders of both said they couldn't watch subordinates' behavior. Persistent outsiders found evidence of misconduct.

» E-Mail This

Anthrax Was Accidentally Sent To 11 States, 2 Countries, Pentagon Now Says

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 15:12

The numbers are more than the Pentagon's Thursday estimate of nine states and a U.S. Air Force base in South Korea. News organizations named Australia as the other country that received the samples.

» E-Mail This

Trickster Journalist Explains Why He Duped The Media On Chocolate Study

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 14:08

John Bohannon, the man behind a stunt that bamboozled many news organizations into publishing junk science on dieting, talks to NPR's Robert Siegel about why he carried out the scheme.

» E-Mail This

As Police Body Cameras Increase, What About All That Video?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 13:46

Police cams have suddenly become a big business. But the real money is in selling departments a way to store each day's video. Firms are offering easy uploads to the cloud but costs are bound to grow.

» E-Mail This

When Are Employee Wellness Incentives No Longer Voluntary?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 13:18

Many workers like the programs, and employers say they help hold down health insurance costs. But there are legal questions about how far companies can go to encourage participation.

» E-Mail This

Reports: Ex-Speaker Hastert's Payments Linked To Sexual Misconduct

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-29 13:02

Both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times are reporting that Hastert was paying a man to not reveal that Hastert had abused him years ago.

» E-Mail This

Why its difficult for minorities to become cops

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-29 13:01

Incidents of racial bias by police, harsh treatment of black and Latino civilians by police and police shootings in questionable circumstances are continuing to generate protest and investigation across the U.S.

Many critics of contemporary law enforcement cite the continued dominance of police departments by whites, often in cities that have become majority black and/or Latino, as a significant cause of continued problems between police and the communities they serve.

According to a detailed analysis of Bureau of Justice Statistics and local police department data by the New York Times, even after decades of effort to recruit more minorities into policing, some big-city and suburban departments have wide racial imbalances between the race of police officers and residents.

Nationally, African-Americans made up 12 percent of local police forces in 2013, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That percentage has stayed the same since 1997, and it's 1.2 percent below the black share of U.S. population as a whole, according to census data. Hispanics are also underrepresented by about 5.5 percent nationwide.

Delores Jones-Brown is a former prosecutor who is now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  

“If you’ve got 12 percent African-American police officers in a community that’s 60, 70 or 80 percent African-American, you’re not doing very well," she says, adding that minorities are concentrated at the bottom of the police hierarchy in most departments.

“Many of the police personnel who are of color are likely not at a command-staff level," Jones-Brown says. "And that means they’re not being able to make many decisions about what kinds of policies and practices will be in place.”

One economic development getting in the way of minority recruitment at all levels is the rising African-American middle class, Jones-Brown says.

“African-Americans who are smart enough, college-educated enough or otherwise talented in other areas that pay more money and produce less risk, are taking advantage of those opportunities,” she says.

But being a police officer can be a very good, middle-class job for many. Charles Wilson can attest to this. He’s a 44-year veteran of policing.

“I started my police career in Ohio. I’ve done patrol, I’ve done traffic, I’ve worked narcotics, I’ve worked internal affairs. And I’ve been a police chief,” he says.

Wilson now wears a uniform patrolling a college campus in Providence, Rhode Island, and also serves as chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, with thousands of members and chapters across the Northeastern U.S. Wilson started on the force when he was just out of high school, with a baby on the way.

“I needed a job; the police department was hiring. I took the test, got on the job, and have been crazy ever since I guess,” he says.

Policing can also be lonely at times for officers of color, Wilson says.

“Our numbers in many agencies are in single digits or double-digits," he says. "The vast majority of the law enforcement community remains the bastion of white officers.”

Getting more black and brown people to wear blue has become a crusade for him.

“It pays well, the benefits are good, there are rarely layoffs,” he says of law enforcement as a career. “And you have the opportunity to truly make a difference in people’s lives.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average starting salary at departments serving 25,000 residents or more nationwide is $45,000. Typically the job does not require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Even if better-educated and more upwardly mobile African-Americans are shunning law enforcement careers, people from less-privileged backgrounds might welcome these good government jobs. But Jones-Brown says many can’t pass the entry test, the credit check or the criminal background check.

“Young men who live in highly policed communities stand very little chance of making it to, say, age 24 without having had some police encounter,” she says. A recent study in the journal Crime and Delinquency found that by age 23, 49 percent of black men and 44 percent of Hispanic men had been arrested, compared to 38 percent of white men.

Molloy College criminology professor John Eterno witnessed this first-hand as a precinct captain in New York City where, he says, cops issued “numerous summonses, stop-and-frisks, and arrests for relatively low-level things like marijuana possession.”

Often these were searches and detentions dictated by the “broken windows” concept of law enforcement that Eterno says has led to heavy-handed and disproportionate policing and arrests in lower-income minority neighborhoods in cities like New York.

“In terms of recruitment for these young minority kids, now that they have a criminal record, it’s much more difficult to get them into law enforcement,” he says.

But relaxing these disqualifying criteria would still leave another recruitment barrier: the stigma of joining the police, Wilson says.

“There is a significant amount of distrust and dissatisfaction with law enforcement," he says. "People I talk to nowadays say, ‘It ain’t cool to be the ‘po-po.’ ”

Recruitment is a challenge in the Latino community, too.

“Most Hispanics, where they come from, the countries they lived in, they don’t really like the police,” says Ismael Cano, a Mexican-American police officer with nearly a decade on the force in the small city of Pasco, Washington. “They don’t feel like they can trust police and call police to help them.”

Pasco’s demographics have changed in recent decades, as migrant farm workers settled down and took jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Cano himself worked in the fields with his parents through junior high school and was a volunteer reserve officer before joining the Pasco Police Department in 2006. He appears every few weeks on local Spanish-language radio station KRCW to discuss policing and talk it up as a career option for young Latinos.

But then, he says, he’ll meet people at a party: “I’ll get in a group talking to people, and I’m proud of what I do, but they will start walking away, and usually by the end of the party, I end up in a corner by myself, because nobody wanted to talk to me.”

Pasco has had its share of conflict over race and policing lately after an unarmed Latino man, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot to death in February by three officers. Civil rights activists want a bigger Latino presence on the Pasco police force, but police Capt. Ken Roske insists Pasco’s doing pretty well.

“We’ve been praised by other cities for our workforce — it turns out to be about 21 percent Hispanic and/or Spanish-speaking officers,” Roske says. “Not that we want to stop there, and not that we don’t want to keep working and striving forward. We certainly want our department to mirror the community. It’s not as easy to accomplish that.”

Roske says it’s unrealistic to expect Pasco’s police department to match the majority Latino population. Some aren’t legal residents or don’t speak English, both of which would disqualify them from the force.

The city has had success in recruiting by paying a premium to Spanish-speaking officers and recruiting through the Boy Scouts Explorer program.

But police-trainer Michael Coker says departments need to do more. Coker’s a retired black officer from Portsmouth, Virginia, who offers courses all over the country. He says to recruit more minorities, departments have to offer more role models.

When he was in high school, Coker says he worked at the local police department as a clerk-typist, and a young black cadet would drive past him every day. “So he would give me a ride to work. A year later, he became a cop. I became a cadet, because he made it seem so cool. I did a ride-along, got in a car with him, and I was sucked in.”

Making blue more black and brown

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-29 13:01

Incidents of racial bias by police, harsh treatment of black and Latino civilians by police and police shootings in questionable circumstances are continuing to generate protest and investigation across the U.S.

Many critics of contemporary law enforcement cite the continued dominance of police departments by whites, often in cities that have become majority black and/or Latino, as a significant cause of continued problems between police and the communities they serve.

According to a detailed analysis of Bureau of Justice Statistics and local police department data by the New York Times, even after decades of effort to recruit more minorities into policing, some big-city and suburban departments have wide racial imbalances between the race of police officers and residents.

Nationally, African-Americans made up 12 percent of local police forces in 2013, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That percentage has stayed the same since 1997, and it's 1.2 percent below the black share of U.S. population as a whole, according to census data. Hispanics are also underrepresented by about 5.5 percent nationwide.

Delores Jones-Brown is a former prosecutor who is now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.  

“If you’ve got 12 percent African-American police officers in a community that’s 60, 70 or 80 percent African-American, you’re not doing very well," she says, adding that minorities are concentrated at the bottom of the police hierarchy in most departments.

“Many of the police personnel who are of color are likely not at a command-staff level," Jones-Brown says. "And that means they’re not being able to make many decisions about what kinds of policies and practices will be in place.”

One economic development getting in the way of minority recruitment at all levels is the rising African-American middle class, Jones-Brown says.

“African-Americans who are smart enough, college-educated enough or otherwise talented in other areas that pay more money and produce less risk, are taking advantage of those opportunities,” she says.

But being a police officer can be a very good, middle-class job for many. Charles Wilson can attest to this. He’s a 44-year veteran of policing.

“I started my police career in Ohio. I’ve done patrol, I’ve done traffic, I’ve worked narcotics, I’ve worked internal affairs. And I’ve been a police chief,” he says.

Wilson now wears a uniform patrolling a college campus in Providence, Rhode Island, and also serves as chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, with thousands of members and chapters across the Northeastern U.S. Wilson started on the force when he was just out of high school, with a baby on the way.

“I needed a job; the police department was hiring. I took the test, got on the job, and have been crazy ever since I guess,” he says.

Policing can also be lonely at times for officers of color, Wilson says.

“Our numbers in many agencies are in single digits or double-digits," he says. "The vast majority of the law enforcement community remains the bastion of white officers.”

Getting more black and brown people to wear blue has become a crusade for him.

“It pays well, the benefits are good, there are rarely layoffs,” he says of law enforcement as a career. “And you have the opportunity to truly make a difference in people’s lives.”

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average starting salary at departments serving 25,000 residents or more nationwide is $45,000. Typically the job does not require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Even if better-educated and more upwardly mobile African-Americans are shunning law enforcement careers, people from less-privileged backgrounds might welcome these good government jobs. But Jones-Brown says many can’t pass the entry test, the credit check or the criminal background check.

“Young men who live in highly policed communities stand very little chance of making it to, say, age 24 without having had some police encounter,” she says. A recent study in the journal Crime and Delinquency found that by age 23, 49 percent of black men and 44 percent of Hispanic men had been arrested, compared to 38 percent of white men.

Molloy College criminology professor John Eterno witnessed this first-hand as a precinct captain in New York City where, he says, cops issued “numerous summonses, stop-and-frisks, and arrests for relatively low-level things like marijuana possession.”

Often these were searches and detentions dictated by the “broken windows” concept of law enforcement that Eterno says has led to heavy-handed and disproportionate policing and arrests in lower-income minority neighborhoods in cities like New York.

“In terms of recruitment for these young minority kids, now that they have a criminal record, it’s much more difficult to get them into law enforcement,” he says.

But relaxing these disqualifying criteria would still leave another recruitment barrier: the stigma of joining the police, Wilson says.

“There is a significant amount of distrust and dissatisfaction with law enforcement," he says. "People I talk to nowadays say, ‘It ain’t cool to be the ‘po-po.’ ”

Recruitment is a challenge in the Latino community, too.

“Most Hispanics, where they come from, the countries they lived in, they don’t really like the police,” says Ismael Cano, a Mexican-American police officer with nearly a decade on the force in the small city of Pasco, Washington. “They don’t feel like they can trust police and call police to help them.”

Pasco’s demographics have changed in recent decades, as migrant farm workers settled down and took jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and services. Cano himself worked in the fields with his parents through junior high school and was a volunteer reserve officer before joining the Pasco Police Department in 2006. He appears every few weeks on local Spanish-language radio station KRCW to discuss policing and talk it up as a career option for young Latinos.

But then, he says, he’ll meet people at a party: “I’ll get in a group talking to people, and I’m proud of what I do, but they will start walking away, and usually by the end of the party, I end up in a corner by myself, because nobody wanted to talk to me.”

Pasco has had its share of conflict over race and policing lately after an unarmed Latino man, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, 35, was shot to death in February by three officers. Civil rights activists want a bigger Latino presence on the Pasco police force, but police Capt. Ken Roske insists Pasco’s doing pretty well.

“We’ve been praised by other cities for our workforce — it turns out to be about 21 percent Hispanic and/or Spanish-speaking officers,” Roske says. “Not that we want to stop there, and not that we don’t want to keep working and striving forward. We certainly want our department to mirror the community. It’s not as easy to accomplish that.”

Roske says it’s unrealistic to expect Pasco’s police department to match the majority Latino population. Some aren’t legal residents or don’t speak English, both of which would disqualify them from the force.

The city has had success in recruiting by paying a premium to Spanish-speaking officers and recruiting through the Boy Scouts Explorer program.

But police-trainer Michael Coker says departments need to do more. Coker’s a retired black officer from Portsmouth, Virginia, who offers courses all over the country. He says to recruit more minorities, departments have to offer more role models.

When he was in high school, Coker says he worked at the local police department as a clerk-typist, and a young black cadet would drive past him every day. “So he would give me a ride to work. A year later, he became a cop. I became a cadet, because he made it seem so cool. I did a ride-along, got in a car with him, and I was sucked in.”

Pages