National News

Violence On The Ground Hobbles MH17 Investigations

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

Nearly two weeks since a Malaysia Airlines flight was downed over eastern Ukraine, fighting in the region continues to delay the start of an investigation. For more, Audie Cornish speaks with Paul Sonne, the Moscow correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

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For 2 Senators, Campus Sexual Assault Solution Starts In Washington

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

To learn more about the new legislation aimed at sexual assault on campuses, Audie Cornish speaks with two of the bill's co-sponsors, Sen. Claire McCaskill and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

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Senators Roll Out A Bill To Curb Sexual Assault On Campus

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced new legislation aimed at combating sexual assault on American college campuses. If passed, the bill would force colleges to handle accusations more aggressively and provide advocates for victims.

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As Wildfires Burns Through Funds, Washington Seeks New Way To Pay

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

Wildfires are ravaging thousands of square miles on the West Coast, though officials say that this wildfire season has been tamer than average. Still, responding to these fires has proven costly, and the Obama administration is reevaluating how it pays for fighting them.

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A Market And A School Come Under Fire During A Violent Day In Gaza

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

An explosion rocked a crowded Gaza market during what was expected to be a lull in the fighting. Earlier in the day a United Nations school was hit by what U.N. officials say was Israeli artillery fire, killing at least 15 people. Meanwhile, rocket fire from Gaza continues to be fired into Israel.

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Senate Bill Would Fine Colleges For Mismanaging Campus Rape Cases

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

A group of senators has introduced legislation aimed at combating sexual assault on college campuses. It would force schools to handle accusations more aggressively and provide advocates for victims.

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Senate Bill Would Fine Colleges For Mismanaging Campus Rape Cases

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

A group of senators has introduced legislation aimed at combating sexual assault on college campuses. It would force schools to handle accusations more aggressively and provide advocates for victims.

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Lawsuit Opens A Long Round Of Political Pingpong

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

Republicans in the House voted to allow Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama. They believe the president has overstepped his constitutional authority.

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Lawsuit Opens A Long Round Of Political Pingpong

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

Republicans in the House are holding a floor vote to allow Speaker Boehner to sue President Obama. They believe he's overstepped his constitutional authority; specifically, the resolution would authorize a federal lawsuit for Obama's handling of the Affordable Care Act.

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Late Rally From Argentina Fails To Delay Default

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

Earlier in the day it looked like a resolution was possible, but ultimately talks between the country and a group of creditors broke down in New York. The first time the country defaulted was in 2002.

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Fast Growth Does Little To Budge Fed's Caution — For Now

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 12:00

Federal Reserve policymakers are announcing that the Fed plans to leave short-term interest rates at a level near zero. This, despite an economy that grew at a surprisingly strong 4 percent annual rate in the most recent quarter.

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Time for 'You've got mail' to get on OKCupid?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-30 11:37

These days, box office hits include explosions, aliens and robots - characters most romantic comedies do not contain.

Megan Garber, staff writer for The Atlantic, says the romantic comedy has been dying a slow death, as studios fail to recognize the evolution of romance itself. Rom-coms are not portraying the reality of dating for people in the digital age.

"The world of Tinder, eHarmony and Match.com is not really well reflected in Hollywood at this point," says Garber. "Right now, there isn’t much on the screen that would sort of tell us how to behave in this crazy world of online dating."

Listen to the full conversation in the audio player above.

Foxconn's newest product: a college degree

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-30 11:36

There are a lot of lines at a typical Foxconn factory in China. There’s the assembly line, where thousands of young people – typically high school dropouts – put together each and every part of an iPad. It’s tedious, mind-numbing work, and that’s why assembly line workers usually don’t stick around very long. They quit, and that necessitates another line: The hiring line outside a Foxconn factory is, at any given time, hundreds of applicants long, migrants from the countryside who arrive each day to replace workers who’ve quit. When you consider the manufacturer has a million workers – it’s China’s largest private employer – this labor cycle isn’t surprising.

But it is costly.

“The turnover rate is pretty high and it’s impossible to retain all our workers," says Li Yong Zhong, a manager at Foxconn's Chengdu plant, "But we’d like every employee to be able to develop and improve their knowledge, skills and income so that they’ll want to stay here.”

That’s the rationale behind what the company calls Foxconn University, a company-wide accredited university system that offers employees a chance at earning a high school diploma, a bachelor’s, a master’s or a PhD without leaving the factory campus.

Inside the classroom one afternoon, a professor teaches a computer animation class to students at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu, a factory devoted to making iPads. Instead of assembling Apple products, each one of these workers is using an Apple computer to follow the professor’s instructions. Thirty-six year-old Ai Guo, an assembly line worker who spends his days inspecting iPads for flaws, sits in front of the class.

“I dropped out of school when I was 16," says Ai during a class break. "My family was very poor, and they needed me to help out on the farm.”

It's a typical story for the hundreds of millions of young rural Chinese who drop out of school to farm or find work at factories like Foxconn. Ai hopes to spend the next six years of his time away from work studying toward the equivalent of a high school diploma and then a bacehlor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. “With that, I’d like to get a promotion to start working on industrial automation and, of course, raise my salary," he says.

Foxconn’s university system offers 25 majors – most of them in engineering. The company has an agreement with more than 50 Chinese universities and colleges that send their professors each day to teach classes at its factories across China.

But it's not only Foxconn – in-house university systems are becoming a trend among China’s state-owned companies, says Richard Brubaker, founder of Collective Responsibility, an organization that trains companies in corporate social responsibility. Brubaker says he’s encouraged by Foxconn University – he says it shows the company sees its line workers as more than machines with 5-year shelf lives. “Many of these individuals could, if they were invested into, come into the organization at a much higher level, and much like a UPS driver becomes a CEO, they could become the future management and executives of the company and who know the company so intimately that they’re the ones who can look at risk, look at decisions very differently than an outsider could,” Brubaker says.

The development of an in-house university system comes at a pivotal moment for Foxconn. CEO Terry Gou is 63, and he’s thinking about his legacy. He’s moving the company away from making products for others and toward developing Foxconn’s own products.

“We want our employees to become more innovative and creative, more entrepreneurial,” says Foxconn’s Li Yong Zhong.

But so far, participation in Foxconn University is low: just 3 percent of Foxconn’s one million Chinese workers. Li assures me that will change. "Someday, every one of our employees will study at Foxconn University – we’ll no longer call them workers," he says. "We’ll call them students."

Foxconn's newest product: a college degree

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-30 11:36

There are a lot of lines at a typical Foxconn factory in China. There’s the assembly line, where thousands of young people – typically high school dropouts – put together each and every part of an iPad. It’s tedious, mind-numbing work, and that’s why assembly line workers usually don’t stick around very long. They quit, and that necessitates another line: The hiring line outside a Foxconn factory is, at any given time, hundreds of applicants long, migrants from the countryside who arrive each day to replace workers who’ve quit. When you consider the manufacturer has a million workers – it’s China’s largest private employer – this labor cycle isn’t surprising.

But it is costly.

“The turnover rate is pretty high and it’s impossible to retain all our workers," says Li Yong Zhong, a manager at Foxconn's Chengdu plant, "But we’d like every employee to be able to develop and improve their knowledge, skills and income so that they’ll want to stay here.”

That’s the rationale behind what the company calls Foxconn University, a company-wide accredited university system that offers employees a chance at earning a high school diploma, a bachelor’s, a master’s or a PhD without leaving the factory campus.

Inside the classroom one afternoon, a professor teaches a computer animation class to students at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu, a factory devoted to making iPads. Instead of assembling Apple products, each one of these workers is using an Apple computer to follow the professor’s instructions. Thirty-six year-old Ai Guo, an assembly line worker who spends his days inspecting iPads for flaws, sits in front of the class.

“I dropped out of school when I was 16," says Ai during a class break. "My family was very poor, and they needed me to help out on the farm.”

It's a typical story for the hundreds of millions of young rural Chinese who drop out of school to farm or find work at factories like Foxconn. Ai hopes to spend the next six years of his time away from work studying toward the equivalent of a high school diploma and then a bacehlor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. “With that, I’d like to get a promotion to start working on industrial automation and, of course, raise my salary," he says.

Foxconn’s university system offers 25 majors – most of them in engineering. The company has an agreement with more than 50 Chinese universities and colleges that send their professors each day to teach classes at its factories across China.

But it's not only Foxconn – in-house university systems are becoming a trend among China’s state-owned companies, says Richard Brubaker, founder of Collective Responsibility, an organization that trains companies in corporate social responsibility. Brubaker says he’s encouraged by Foxconn University – he says it shows the company sees its line workers as more than machines with 5-year shelf lives. “Many of these individuals could, if they were invested into, come into the organization at a much higher level, and much like a UPS driver becomes a CEO, they could become the future management and executives of the company and who know the company so intimately that they’re the ones who can look at risk, look at decisions very differently than an outsider could,” Brubaker says.

The development of an in-house university system comes at a pivotal moment for Foxconn. CEO Terry Gou is 63, and he’s thinking about his legacy. He’s moving the company away from making products for others and toward developing Foxconn’s own products.

“We want our employees to become more innovative and creative, more entrepreneurial,” says Foxconn’s Li Yong Zhong.

But so far, participation in Foxconn University is low: just 3 percent of Foxconn’s one million Chinese workers. Li assures me that will change. "Someday, every one of our employees will study at Foxconn University – we’ll no longer call them workers," he says. "We’ll call them students."

Fed Continues To Scale Back Economic Stimulus

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 10:38

The Fed announced modest cuts in its bond-buying program and noted that inflation is becoming an issue. But with room to grow in the labor market, the bank is not ready to raise interest rates.

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Women Defy Turkey's Deputy PM, Who Said Women Shouldn't Laugh In Public

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 09:57

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç was expounding on what an ideal chaste woman should be. Women around the world reacted by taking pictures of themselves laughing.

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Problem Drinking In Midlife Linked To Memory Trouble Later

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 09:54

One study suggests middle-aged adults with a history of problem drinking may be twice as likely to develop serious memory issues as the years wear on.

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Back-to-school sticker shock

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-07-30 09:52

The annual back-to-school spendathon is almost here. And for public-school parents, it’s going to be pricey.

Huntington Bank is out with its annual "backpack index," which tracks the cost of school supplies. The bad news: elementary school kids will need $642 in extras this year, middle-school kids will spend an additional $918, and high school students will get hit up for an additional $1,284.

Those estimates translate to an 11 percent jump, 20 percent jump, and 5 percent jump, respectively.

The biggest bumps are expected to come from higher standardized-testing fees, and fees for things like school trips, music classes and sports, according to Huntington. Many middle-school kids will also need a graphing calculator, which can run nearly $130.

Huntington didn’t include laptops or tablets in its index. But many parents will be facing extra costs for those, as well.

Since Huntington started tracking the cost of school supplies in 2007, the bank estimates they have increased 83 percent for elementary school students, 73 percent for middle school students and 44 percent for high school students.

Here’s a guide, from the group, on what you can expect this year.

Sierra Leone Doctor Who Led The Fight Against Ebola Dies

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 09:46

Hailed as a "national hero," Dr. Sheik Umar Khan had treated more than 100 Ebola patients before catching the virus himself last week.

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Some Loyal Foursquare Users Are Checking Out After Swarm Spinoff

NPR News - Wed, 2014-07-30 09:12

The company's move to break its app in two is costing it the users who loved Foursquare the most. "Why do I need two apps when I had one that provided both services?" asked one user.

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