National News

From human trafficking victim to survivor

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 09:00

For several years, Rama was virtually invisible to the outside world.

In 2003, she was sold by her late husband's family in southern India to work for a doctor in California. She was effectively housebound, working without pay for more than three years, with no real idea where she was.

"Every day I would hear, 'You don't have papers, we could do anything to you,'" she says.

She was eventually able to escape, working a series of other jobs below minimum wage in other doctors' homes for a few more years.

In 2012, she got help from the South Asian Network, or SAN. That's when she was able to get her T Visa, for victims of trafficking.

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above to hear Rama's story.

Dynamic camouflage will let soldiers hide like a squid

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 08:56

Some of the newest technology and development in camouflage is inspired by a 60-million-year-old creature: squid.

In a lab at UC Irvine, chemical engineering professor Alon Gorodetsky and his team are making synthetic squid protein using bacteria. The lab is recreating a protein called Reflectin — it's what allows squid to change color and disappear into their surroundings by manipulating light — in the hopes that it could someday be used by the military as part of more effective camouflage.

Gorodetsky is working on taking the purified protein to coat tape, stickers and other materials in an effort to use the natural camouflage properties outside the ocean. His work is part of a larger movement towards dynamic camouflage — camouflage that responds to external stimuli and adapts. 

The early versions of Reflectin-coated stickers appear to change color and reflect light in unique ways. A piece of shiny, coated material that normally has a metallic blue color will appear red if placed on a red piece of paper. The coating can take on colors across the spectrum, and can even reflect back infrared light, which most things can't. 

The Department of Defense and the Department of Energy have taken note of the animal-inspired research. Squid-protein coating could potentially help soldiers be less vulnerable to thermal or infrared detection, and could be used to create distinct tags or patterns so that team members could recognize one another in the dark, thus preventing friendly fire. 

The squid protein has multiple uses — Reflectin could also be used in clothing to help regulate body temperature to keep cool during a workout or to keep warm with a very thin jacket. That's what has the DOE and clothing company Under Armour so excited. Gorodetsky says the defense and energy applications for Reflectin complement each other.

"[They are] two sides of the same coin, whether you're working to control radiative emissions for energy applications or whether you're working to make it harder for someone to detect you, the technology will be quite similar," he says.

Gorodetsky says color-changing clothing could be on the way in the next decade, even further out to 30 or 40 years from now, camouflage could become even more adaptive.

"You could have a shirt that looks more like formal wear in one situation and then changes to look more like an informal T-shirt in another situation," he says.

Even though this type of research is in very early stages, Gorodetsky says the future of camouflage is dynamic.

"That's is really the exciting area to go into," he says. "Using natural systems and animals for inspiration, because the things that they can do in terms of camouflage are far beyond anything that we've been able to do artificially."

'Bali Nine' Ringleaders Could Face Indonesian Firing Squad Within Days

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 08:00

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the heroin-smuggling ring, are expected to get execution dates on Saturday. Indonesian law requires they receive 72 hours notice.

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Sexy, Simple, Satirical: 300 Years Of Picnics In Art

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 07:36

From Goya to Banksy, artists through the century have tackled modernity and its discontents through depictions of eating outdoors.

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Richard Corliss, 'Time' Film Critic, Dies At 71

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 07:14

The magazine said Corliss died Thursday night in New York following a stroke he suffered a week ago. Corliss reviewed films for the magazine for 35 years.

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2 Years After Garment Factory Collapse, Are Workers Any Safer?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 06:59

At the site of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, families gathered to remember their loved ones and call for better working conditions. Changes have been made but there's a long way to go.

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Native American Actors Walk Off The Set Of Adam Sandler Comedy

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 06:37

The movie is the The Ridiculous Six, an apparent spoof of the classic Western The Magnificent Seven. The Native American actors say the movie's script insults native women, elders and Apaches.

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To Weather Criticism, It Helps To Think of The Big Picture

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 06:28

Negative feedback is supposed to be good for us, but it sure doesn't feel so good. Shifting the context by thinking more broadly helps blunt the sting, a study found. So does embracing change.

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Comcast Calls Off Merger With Time Warner

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 06:09

Comcast is abandoning its $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable. For more details, Steve Inskeep speaks with NPR's Yuki Noguchi.

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Alleged Skipper Of Migrant Boat Appears In Italian Court

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 05:56

The 27-year-old man faces homicide and human trafficking charges. He says he was only a passenger, but survivors from the disaster that killed at least 700 are likely to testify that he was captain.

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Nursing home care is changing, and it may save money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 05:42

Thanks to advances in medicine, elderly patients now live much longer. But they’re also much sicker, and skilled nursing facilities are often ill-equipped to handle patients in need of such high levels of care.

“Once they are discharged from the hospital and go to either home or to a skilled nursing facility, that kind of level of attention that kind of level of monitoring, that kind of level of immediate remediation just isn’t possible,” says David Reuben, UCLA School of Medicine’s chief of geriatrics.

The result is that growing numbers of medically fragile patients are sent by ambulance to local emergency rooms—over and over again.

It’s estimated that 20 to 30 percent of elderly patients discharged from the hospital find themselves back within a month, many of them arriving from nursing homes.

That’s frustrating for patients, and it’s expensive, says Brian White, President of Northwest Hospital in Baltimore. In an effort to reduce hospital readmissions White prompted his hospital to bring the doctors to the patients rather than the other way around.

“We’re looking at bringing those resources to the bedside, rather than putting the patient in an ambulance and bringing them to a facility that supposedly has those resources,” White says.

Dr. Raymond Miller works for a group of Maryland physicians called Post Acute Physician Partners – a group White helped launch in March of this year. On a recent day, Miller checked up on Dorothy Terkowitz, a patient at Levindale Geriatric Center in Baltimore, where she is recovering after a hospital stay.

As part of that outreach, Miller asks Terkowitz how she’s doing, if she is in any pain, if the rehab is helping.

Miller and his partners follow patients discharged from four Baltimore area hospitals to surrounding nursing facilities. They see patients like Terkowitz daily, with the goal of heading off problems before they become critical and land patients back in the hospital.

In a pilot project with a single nursing home over the last year, hospital readmissions were reduced by about half, says White. And while he says the cost of running the group just breaks even, it adds up to huge savings for the hospital.

"You’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars for every patient you can impact – times lots of patients," says White

White hopes Baltimore will serve as a model for other hospitals to imitate. But not everyone is quite so certain that blurring the lines between hospital and nursing homes will be the panacea he hopes.

Mary Tinetti, chief of geriatrics at Yale New Haven Hospital and Medical School, worries that there are some patients who are simply too sick for nursing homes. They will always need the hospital she says, and reproducing the hospital setting in nursing homes to care for these patients is less efficient and potentially more costly. Instead, Tinetti argues the real problem is that patients often believe they are getting better, when they aren’t.

“I think having a more frank and open discussion with these patients might mean that the care that they would prefer would change from having these frequent hospitalizations to perhaps moving to palliative care or even hospice care sooner than currently,” Tinetti says.

Tinetti says the real measure of quality is whether a patient’s care meets their goals – and that’s much harder to quantify than the number of patients coming back to the hospital.

Uncomfortable Conversations: Talking About Race In The Classroom

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 05:28

H. Richard Milner's new book helps educators understand how to incorporate talk of race, class and inequality into their classroom lessons.

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Comcast Cuts The Cord On Deal With Time Warner Cable

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 05:22

The Justice Department had raised concerns over the proposed $45.2 billion merger, which would have brought nearly 30 percent of TV and about 55 percent of broadband subscribers under one roof.

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More Than A Dozen Hurt In Indiana High School Stage Collapse

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 04:55

Students sustained minor injuries in the collapse during the musical finale of a stage show in suburban Indianapolis.

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Armenians Mark A Century Since World War I Massacre

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 04:15

Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Francois Hollande of France were among those who attended a ceremony in the Armenian capital. German lawmakers vote to call the event "genocide."

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Cable giants call off merger

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 03:00

Cable giants Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable are ditching out of their planned merger amidst a heap of regulatory scrutiny.

Combined, Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have had about 30 percent of the pay TV market and more than 50 percent of the broadband market.

Regulators worried that would thwart competition and mean higher prices for consumers.

“All that scale would give Comcast enormous discretion over what reaches Americans, what Americans pay, information flows, customer service—really unlimited power,” says Susan Crawford is co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Crawford also says President Barack Obama's push to have broadband providers regulated like utilities signaled the government would step up its scrutiny.

But Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey thinks regulators are taking an overly narrow view. He doubts a Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger would've kept other players out of the lucrative broadband market.

“Because broadband is going to generate billions of dollars of revenue and billions of dollars of profit in the next ten years, broadband competition is going to happen,” says McQuivey.

McQuivey says that means companies like Google, Amazon and even Facebook could eventually be motivated to enter the fray.

 

 

 

 

PODCAST: The merger that never was

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 03:00

The Comcast and Time Warner Cable deal is officially off. More on that. Plus, it's been two years since a terrible collapse of a clothing factory in Bangladesh, killing more than 1,100 workers. Among the findings was that workers there had recognized things were wrong with the building a day before the collapse, but factory owners demanded the workers go back in. There have been various moves to improve working conditions in the years since, and one of the key recommendations was to make it easier to set up unions in Bangladesh. Now, the questions remains: if they had been given a stronger voice, the workers might have been able to refuse to go back into the building.

Silicon Tally: A Whale of a Tail Emoji

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-04-24 03:00

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Fred Benenson, data lead at Kickstarter and the creator of an all-emoji translation of Moby Dick.

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A Century After Atrocities Against Armenians, An Unresolved Wound

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:31

Some 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported in the violence unleashed by Ottoman Turks starting in 1915. Turkey and Armenia still disagree on how to define these terrible events.

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The Plot Of 'The Black Netflix's' First Movie Is As Provocative As Its Stars

NPR News - Fri, 2015-04-24 02:07

The Urban Movie Channel, created by BET founder, Robert L. Johnson, is being touted as "the black Netflix." This week, it releases the first original movie, Blackbird.

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