National News

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 23:21

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has killed more than 7 million piglets in the past year. There's no cure, but a vaccine that may protect piglets has been approved even though it's still being tested.

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Drink Up: NYC Ban On Big Sodas Canned

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 22:23

Big sodas can stay on the menu in the Big Apple after New York state's highest court refused Thursday to reinstate the city's first-of-its-kind size limit on sugary drinks.

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Wiggins Is No. 1, Napier To Miami In NBA Draft

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 22:13

The Cleveland Cavaliers used the first overall pick to select Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins. The Charlotte Hornets drafted Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier with the 24th pick and traded him to Miami.

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GM Stops Selling Late-Model Chevy Cruzes; Recall Expected

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 13:56

Some 33,000 Cruzes for model years 2013 and 2014 have been identified with a fault that could prevent their air bags from properly inflating.

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Howard Baker's Legacy: Political, But Not Partisan

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 13:33

At a time when Washington and its insiders are widely reviled, the late Senate majority leader will be remembered as a Washington insider who was widely revered.

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Why the Cruze recall won't hurt GM's bottom line

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-26 13:26

This story was updated at 6:15 p.m. PT on July 26, 2014 with details on the latest General Motors recall. GM is reportedly recalling more than 29,000 Chevrolet Cruze compact cars related to metal parts in the air bag assemblies.

This might sound like a broken record, but General Motors is preparing to recall some 29,000 cars.

The Chevy Cruze is GM’s most popular passenger vehicle, second overall to the Chevy Silverado truck.

So is this finally the thing that will put a dent in GM sales? Probably not, analysts say.

GM has recalled 20 million vehicles this year, and auto analyst Maryann Keller says much of the public isn’t listening anymore. They’re too saturated with recall news.

“Consumers in general just sort of glaze over when they hear these things,” says Keller. “As long as it’s not, you know, not affecting a car that perhaps is in their driveway. Or a car that they wanted to buy.”

That’s one reason GM’s sales have just chugged along. Keller doesn’t expect this time to be any different.

GM told dealers to freeze sales of potentially problematic Cruze inventory. But Morningstar analyst David Whiston says there’s recent proof that temporarily halting sales might not matter.

Just last month, “GM did a stop delivery order on their large crossovers, like the Buick Enclave, GM Acadia, Chevy Traverse,” he says.

And you know what? GM still did well. Really well.

“In May, it was GM’s best month of sales since August of 2008. So honestly, GM’s product is just outstanding right now in all vehicle segments,” he says.

The stop-sale order won’t really hit GM’s bottom line, but the timing is bad for somebody, according to Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with

Even if it’s temporary, “that hurts the dealers,” she says. “Because the bulk of a month’s sales occur at the end of the month.”

It’s not just the end of the month, it’s also the end of the quarter. Now’s the time some dealers are trying to hit sales targets to get bonuses from GM. It’s a tough time to not be selling GM’s most popular car.

Clashing Accounts Of Heart Attack Case Spark Reader Debate

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 13:08

Results trump courtesies when a person's health is on the line, some people said. No, others responded, saying that proper treatment also requires a human touch.

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High Court Ruling Sends Abortion Clinics Scrambling To Adjust

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:42

The Supreme Court has struck down a Massachusetts law that requires a buffer zone around clinics offering abortion services. Advocacy groups on both sides of the issue offer their reactions.

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Obama Asks For $500 Million To Train, Equip Syrian Rebels

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:34

The appeal is part of a larger $65.8 billion request sent to Congress to fund overseas operations. A White House statement says "moderate" rebels would be vetted before being funded.

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Island's answer to China-Japan dispute: Tourism

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:20

If you took an actual pin and pressed it into a world map, the hole it would make would dwarf the size of the tiny speck of an island of Ishigaki in the East China Sea.

The lush paradise is 88 square miles of jungle and white sand beaches. It's 150 miles off the coast of Taiwan, and although it’s part of Japan, it’s 1,000 miles away from Tokyo. It’s surrounded by coral reef and turquoise water – making it one of the best diving spots in Asia.

Tour operator Anichi Miyazato prepares a group of foreign tourists for a dive. In the distance, a fleet of Japanese coast guard ships loom over fishing and tour boats in Ishigaki's tiny harbor. They're here to patrol a chain of islands the Japanese call the Senkaku – and the Chinese call the Diaoyu – just 100 miles away.

"We have to protect our nation, our land, our ocean," says Miyazato when asked about the dispute. "Please go away, Chinese military!"

But it seems the Chinese military is here to stay. Just two weeks ago, a Chinese fighter jet flew less than 100 feet away from Japanese air force jets above the disputed islands. Late last year, China’s government declared the airspace over the islands as its exclusive area to protect, requiring other aircraft to identify themselves.

The U.S. responded by flying two B-52 bombers through the area, unannounced.

Below, among the sugar cane fields and palm trees of Ishigaki island, tour operators watched the escalation, worried about how it would impact their business, and wondering when the first shot would be fired.

"Personally, I think it's inevitable," says tour operator Mike Quinn, one of the few Americans on the island. "The first time a missile is fired or the Chinese overrun the Senkaku islands, a lot of tours are going to be canceled, it's going to affect the bottom line, big time."

For tiny Ishigaki, it's the ultimate China conundrum -- bracing for an invasion by China's military while courting an invasion of Chinese tourists.

Ishigaki's bustling new airport -- complete with runways that can accommodate jumbo jets -- just opened last year. There are already flights to and from Taiwan. As of now, Ishigaki isn't on the radar of the world's fastest growing tourist population in mainland China. But Hirohito Kakazu, who plans tourism for the island's government, would like to change that.

"Japan's population is shrinking and domestic tourism to the island will decline," says Kakazu, "so we need to develop tourism from elsewhere -- that's why we built a new airport."

Kakazu is working on establishing routes from mainland China. A charter flight from Shanghai is planned for the fall.

"If there were a plane from Shanghai, it would only take a couple of hours and then suddenly you're surrounded by nature, fresh air, you can catch and eat fresh fish, and you've got some of the best diving in the world," says Ichiro Ohama, president of the local entrepreneur’s club. "These are things you can’t find in China -- and it's just two hours away!”

It's that proximity to China that has defined local attitudes in Ishigaki. Older residents who were born here see China as an old friend -- the island is part of Okinawa, known to many here as the Ryukyu islands, which has maintained close historical and cultural connections with China.

Shigeo Arakaki owns a noodle shop on the island -- he's a retired assistant to a member of Japan's parliament. He'd like to see a more diplomatic approach to resolving the dispute.

"I think Japan and China should explore how to jointly develop the islands rather than fight over them," he says over a cup of tea.

At the moment, this solution doesn't look likely.

"China is becoming more aggressive and they're invading our territory," says Ishigaki mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama. "These are Japan's islands, and by international law, that's a fact. This is non-negotiable."

Japan's government is considering the construction of a military base on Ishigaki, and it's hired local fishing boats to help patrol the disputed islands and ward off Chinese vessels. Still, back on his boat over a coral reef, diving tour operator Anichi Miyazaki says sharing the islands might not be such a bad idea.

China and Japan could combine forces to build something on those uninhabited rocks that would attract tourists. Maybe a theme park?

"I don't know… Disneyland?" asks Miyazaki, breaking down into giggles. Miyazaki says everyone on this island is a businessman -- and war is never good for business.

Senate's Immigration Reform Bill Is Declared Dead At One Year Old

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The Obama administration is backing away from plans to loosen deportation guidelines. On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Senate's passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, reform advocates concede any changes in immigration laws likely won't come until 2017.

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A Century From Archduke's Death, Spotlight Turns Back To Bosnia

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

Bosnia has been buried in historic floods and paralyzed by political dysfunction. Now, locals in Sarajevo are frustrated that the world has only begun focusing on the region for the upcoming anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination, which helped trigger World War I.

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Crowded By Two Shaky States, Turkey Shifts Its Weight In Policy

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The chaos in Iraq has Turks reconsidering their opposition to autonomy for Iraq's Kurds. Turks have viewed the issue as too provocative for the millions of Kurds living in Turkey; now, though, more Turks see the Kurds as a possible security buffer between Turkey and Iraqi extremists.

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Takeaways From Supreme Court Rulings On Buffer Zones, Recess Picks

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The court limited presidential power to make appointments when the Senate isn't in session and narrowed a state's power to have protest-free zones outside abortion clinics. Here are the implications.

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In 2 Rulings, High Court Decides On Buffer Zones And Recess Picks

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

In two cases Thursday, the Supreme Court has limited the presidential power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in session and also limited a state's power to require buffer zones outside abortion clinics.

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Remembering Salwa Bugaighis, The Libyan Advocate Who Took On Ghadafi

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

A prominent Libyan human rights worker was assassinated Wednesday. NPR's Leila Fadel interviewed Salwa Bugaighis earlier this month and remembers the lawyer's efforts against former dictator Moammar Gadhi's regime.

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In New Iraqi Conflict, 'Sunni Awakening' Stays Dormant

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

During the U.S. war in Iraq, American forces paid Sunni tribal leaders in the western and northern regions of the country to turn against al-Qaida. The episode was called the "Sunni Awakening." But now, with ISIS consolidating its gains in these same regions, the tribes involved in the Awakening are cutting deals with the militant group or staying on the sidelines entirely. Shashank Bengali of The Los Angeles Times explains.

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The Binge-Watch Before The Purge, Now That Aereo Is Likely Done

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

The Supreme Court gave big broadcasters a win in their battle against the streaming TV service Aereo. For the service's subscribers in 13 cities, now what?

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A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-06-26 12:17

This technique for manipulating genes borrows a strategy from the way bacteria fight viruses. It's still experimental, but the possibilities excite medical researchers hoping to tailor treatments.

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