National News

Keep Your Head Up: 'Text Neck' Takes A Toll On The Spine

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 11:28

Newly published research finds that common texting posture can put as much as 60 pounds of force on the cervical spine.

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Sen. Mitch McConnell's Political Life, Examined, In 'The Cynic'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 11:09

When journalist Alec MacGillis started looking into McConnell's early politics, he says he was "startled" by how moderate the Republican used to be. The book traces McConnell's shift to the right.

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UC proposes to raise tuition every year for 5 years

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-20 11:00

The University of California is about to get a lot more expensive.

After a three-year tuition freeze, the UC Board of Regents approved a plan today that would raise prices by as much as 5 percent a year for the next 5 years, unless the state comes up with more funding. That would ultimately push tuition well past $15,000 a year. 

The reason? UC President Janet Napolitano says state funding hasn’t kept up with rising costs.

Ten years ago, the state covered about 60 percent of a UC student’s tuition, according to an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. Families were on the hook for about 40 percent. Now, it’s the other way around.

“In the last decade, tuition has doubled for California students,” says Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

She says there’s good reason for taxpayers to invest more in higher education.

“College-educated Californians earn more money, pay more taxes and use less of the social service costs that the state has to spend,” she says.

After years of steep cuts, the state has increased funding for higher education in the last few years. According to the university, the increases are not enough to keep up with growing demand for a college education in the state. Napolitano says the increases will allow the university to admit 5,000 more California students.   

All over the country, states face higher health care and pension costs, says John Douglass, a senior research fellow at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. So there’s less money to go around.

“Legislators and governors are making lots of choices as to, well, how much can we really invest in higher ed when we have all these other obligations?” he says.

Most states have started restoring some of the deep cuts made during the recession, says Andy Carlson of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

“The recovery is definitely happening at a much slower pace, and there’s certainly continued budget pressures,” he says.

Consumer advocates worry that could make college less accessible for low-income and middle-class students.

According to Jacob Jackson, a research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California, extra financial aid has – so far – kept costs for those families roughly the same.

“Students from low-income families are largely insulated from these tuition increases,” he says. “But only if they apply for and receive federal financial aid.”

University of California approves tuition increase

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-20 11:00

The University of California is about to get a lot more expensive.

After a three-year tuition freeze, the UC Board of Regents approved a plan today that would raise prices by as much as 5 percent a year for the next 5 years, unless the state comes up with more funding. That would ultimately push tuition well past $15,000 a year. 

The reason? UC President Janet Napolitano says state funding hasn’t kept up with rising costs.

Ten years ago, the state covered about 60 percent of a UC student’s tuition, according to an editorial in the Los Angeles Times. Families were on the hook for about 40 percent. Now, it’s the other way around.

“In the last decade, tuition has doubled for California students,” says Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.

She says there’s good reason for taxpayers to invest more in higher education.

“College-educated Californians earn more money, pay more taxes and use less of the social service costs that the state has to spend,” she says.

After years of steep cuts, the state has increased funding for higher education in the last few years. According to the university, the increases are not enough to keep up with growing demand for a college education in the state. Napolitano says the increases will allow the university to admit 5,000 more California students.   

All over the country, states face higher health care and pension costs, says John Douglass, a senior research  fellow at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. So there’s less money to go around.

“Legislators and governors are making lots of choices as to, well, how much can we really invest in higher ed when we have all these other obligations?’” he says.

Most states have started restoring some of the deep cuts made during the recession, says Andy Carlson with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

“The recovery is definitely happening at a much slower pace, and there’s certainly continued budget pressures,” he says.

Consumer advocates worry that could make college less accessible for low-income and middle-class students.

According to Jacob Jackson, a research fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California, extra financial aid has—so far—kept costs for those families roughly the same.

“Students from low-income families are largely insulated from these tuition increases,” he says. “But only if they apply for and receive federal financial aid.”

Netflix is king of bandwidth in North America

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-20 11:00

The latest figures from the Canadian networking company Sandvine show Netflix accounts for 35 percent of all the bandwidth usage during peak periods in North America.

As Quartz points out, there are a few caveats to the data. For one, "peak periods" means mostly at night when we're home watching stuff. Also, the report doesn't account for internet usage on cell phones.

Netflix's closest competitor is YouTube, which accounts for about 14 percent of the bandwidth. Not to mention it clobbers other video streaming services like Amazon Video (2.58 percent) and Hulu (1.41 percent).

Farm-to-table movement comes to school cafeterias

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-11-20 10:59

This story is part of Marketplace's partnership with Youth Radio

School lunchrooms are sometimes referred to as "the biggest restaurant chain in America," and in districts across California a new program is trying to get local ingredients on the menu. It's part of a big push in the state to promote healthy eating and local agriculture – and to bring the fresh high-end cuisine that California is known for into the cafeteria.

Two questions: How will districts pay for it? And will California kids eat it?

California public schools serve 560 million lunches a year. In a state that also grows a lot of this country’s food, it makes sense that young Californians would eat California-grown meals.

That’s the idea behind a new school lunch plan called California Thursdays that debuted last week. Fifteen districts across the state have partnered with the program, including such big ones as Los Angeles and San Diego. Yet the large-scale change is starting small.

“What we like to call a bite-sized implementation strategy,” says Zenobia Barlow, co-founder of the Center for Ecoliteracy. For the past 20 years, her organization has been promoting sustainable living through schools. Because school lunch is such a big enterprise, Barlow says it could change the way we eat outside the cafeteria, too.

“By institutional purchasing, we’re going to trigger demand that will result in greater production of sustainably grown and sustainably produced food,” Barlow says. “Just from a business perspective, when kids start eating fresh and freshly prepared delicious meals, there are economies of scale that make it possible.”

But school lunch is bound by federal requirements and a strict budget.

Alexandra Emmott, Oakland Unified School District's “farm-to-school supervisor," figures that “for an entree, which needs to be a serving of protein and a serving of grain, we have a budget of 60 cents per entree.”

For the fruit or vegetable, its 20 cents, she says, and 25 cents for the milk.

A California Thursdays dish can cost more. The district pays 40 cents for a locally sourced and antibiotic-free chicken leg, Emmott says. High-schoolers need two drumsticks to meet USDA protein requirements, which puts the entree over budget.

Sometimes the district balances the extra cost over the course of the lunch calendar, or hits the price point by replacing a second piece of chicken with, say, red beans and rice. It involves some creativity, but Emmott says this type of thinking is starting to catch on.

“I talked to folks in Maine who were sourcing local proteins up there, even fish. So there are districts all across the country who are starting to do this," she says.

Just last month, Minnesota Thursdays launched its own local lunch program for students in the Twin Cities. Back in Oakland, 17-year-old Ayana Edgerly says “the food is way better in the cafeteria on Thursdays.”

Over the summer, she worked with the Center for Ecoliteracy to conduct peer taste-tests on California Thursdays recipes. Students were given a dish, then asked to rate it from one to five in terms of taste and appearance, Edgerly says. They also were asked: "Would you get in a lunch line for it?" 

Me personally? I haven’t eaten a school lunch since fourth grade, but my colleagues at Youth Radio offered to prepare one of the new dishes.

 They whipped up a bowl of shredded chicken and broccoli over brown rice. It looked kind of cute and even tasted pretty good, like a home-cooked meal but served at school.

Soon we’ll see if more kids feel the same.

Indian Shopkeepers Greet Wal-Mart's Expansion Plans With Protests

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 10:53

"Wal-Mart, come to your senses"! the protesters shouted. These vendors and hawkers are not happy that the retail giant plans to open 50 more stores.

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The CIA Wants To Delete Old Email; Critics Say 'Not So Fast'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 10:29

The CIA plan calls for deleting the email of almost all employees after they leave the agnecy. But opponents say this would erase too many important documents. The example they cite: Edward Snowden.

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FIFA To Review World Cup Corruption Report

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 10:07

The decision reopens for scrutiny the mechanism by which Russia and Qatar were awarded the tournament in 2018 and 2022. The two countries were cleared last week of corruption in their winning bids.

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So Just What Is An 'Executive Action,' Anyway?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 09:43

President Obama is preparing to take executive action on immigration. But some people are calling it an executive order. Turns out, there's a big difference between the two terms.

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How Well Do Your Apps Protect Your Privacy?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 07:59

The website PrivacyGrade rates Android apps based on the personal information they collect from you. It's another reminder that your data are constantly on the move, whether you know it or not.

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Takata Quality Official Apologizes Over Air Bag Defect Linked To Deaths

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 07:46

Hiroshi Shimizu's remarks came in testimony to a Senate panel. U.S. regulators want the company to issue a nationwide recall. So far, the recall has been restricted to high-humidity areas.

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Soda Companies Step Up Their Marketing To Black And Latino Kids

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 07:36

Black youth saw more than twice as many ads for sugary drinks on TV compared with white children and teens in 2013. Advertising for the drinks on Spanish-language TV also increased by 44 percent.

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A Worry In Theory, Medical Data Privacy Draws A Yawn In Practice

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 07:25

Nearly three-quarters of Americans say their doctors use electronic records. The overwhelming majority of people aren't particularly concerned about the privacy of the information, an NPR poll finds.

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Mike Nichols, Award-Winning Director Of 'The Graduate,' 'Silkwood,' Dies

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 07:00

Mike Nichols was an ultimate Hollywood insider who won every major show business award directing for stage, film and TV. But his life in America began as an outsider immigrant from Germany.

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Duchess Of Alba, Spain's Richest Woman, Dies At 88

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 06:48

Maria del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart had more titles than any other aristocrat in the world. She died today in Seville.

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An NPR Photographer Looks Ebola In The Eye

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 06:42

Baby Sesay was in a care center in a village in Sierra Leone, waiting to find out if she had Ebola. Our photographer took a picture. Two days later, she was gone.

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Swedish Appeals Court Upholds Detention Order For Julian Assange

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 06:15

Prosecutors want to question the Wikileaks founder, who has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, over allegations that he sexually assaulted two women in 2010.

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Sleep's Link To Learning And Memory Traced To Brain Chemistry

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 05:56

During sleep, the brain locks in existing memories and can even form new ones. Scientists say they are starting to understand how that happens. A midnight snack may interfere.

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Republicans Warn Obama Ahead Of Planned Immigration Action

NPR News - Thu, 2014-11-20 05:45

The president's action, to be announced later today, will grant temporary relief to some immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Republicans could strip away funds that would go toward Obama's order.

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