National News

As He Returns From Season-Long Suspension, Alex Rodriguez Says 'Sorry'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:59

The legendary slugger was suspended for doping and denied that he did anything wrong for a long time. Now, in a hand-written letter, he's tells fans he takes "full responsibility" for his mistakes.

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Many Parents Aren't Sold On Later School Start Times For Teens

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:59

Just half of parents say schools should start later so teenagers can get more sleep, a survey found. But most of the parents also weren't aware that pediatricians have called for a start of 8:30 am.

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You too can have a Nobel Prize

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:56

We're well past Nobel Prize season, but there's Nobel news to pass along.

If you've got a spare $150,000 lying around, you too can have a Nobel of your very own. Well, you can have the prize that Simon Kuznets won in 1971 for  his "empirically founded interpretation of economic growth which has led to new and deepened insight into the economic and social structure and process of development."

Or in laymans terms, growth and inequality, which is the economic thing that's going on right now ... 45 years later.

Kuznets's son consigned the medal to an auction house out here in California; you've got eight days left to find that $150,000.

Texas ruling makes immigrants' future uncertain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:47

A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked President Obama’s executive order on immigration on Tuesday. The order would have granted a temporary reprieve from deportation to around 4 million people currently in the U.S. illegally.

Going from illegal to legal status gives undocumented workers an average 8 percent increase in wages, and would add some $210 billion to the nation's GDP over 10 years, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers (pdf). Pro-immigration advocates say the more people who sign up for the program, the greater the economic boost will be. Opponents say the supposed economic benefits are overstated.

The judge’s ruling might yet be overturned, but critics of the ruling say it may already have altered the economics of immigration reform. They fear that some people who might qualify for the reform will now be reluctant to come forward and sign up.  

West Coast ports resume loading and unloading

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 09:42

After a weekend shutdown, ports on the West Coast were back in business on Tuesday.

The White House dispatched U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez to San Francisco to try to broker a deal between  dockworkers and shipping companies. They've been locked in a contract dispute that for months has slowed the flow of cargo and caused ripples throughout the global economy.

But, even when a deal is reached, port officials say it could take weeks to clear the backlog.

Ashton Carter Is Sworn In As Obama's 4th Defense Secretary

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 07:53

The cold and snow that walloped Washington didn't stop Ashton Carter from reporting for work at the Pentagon Tuesday. Carter was sworn in as the 25th U.S. Secretary of Defense today.

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Fat Tuesday Nordic-Style Means Big, Sweet Buns

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 07:32

Few of the rollicking traditions of Catholic Mardi Gras remain in heavily Lutheran Scandinavia. But the Nordic countries and their culinary outposts in the U.S. still celebrate with the yeasty treats.

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Tough As Nails: Women Scientists Rise Up In Nigeria

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 07:26

Working as a professor isn't an easy job anywhere. But try doing innovative research with only four hours of electricity a day, no access to the Internet and hostility from male colleagues.

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French Prosecutor Asks To Acquit Strauss-Kahn On Pimping Charges

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 06:39

In what could be the end of a headline-grabbing trial, a prosecutor in France has asked that Dominique Strauss-Kahn be cleared of charges that he procured prostitutes for orgies.

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Secret Lives Of Teachers: What's He Brewing Down There?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 06:06

"Your friends are gonna tell you, 'Your beer is great.' It's another thing for people in the market to actually buy it and drink it," says teacher P.T. Lovern, founder of Line 51 Brewing in Oakland.

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Figuring Out If A Doctor Is In Your Network Can Be Perplexing

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 05:44

Some physicians can be in-network when working at one office but not when they are at another. Or they may belong to a medical group that is affiliated with your plan, but they don't participate.

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Quiz: Breaking breakfast records

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 05:06

The federal School Breakfast Program fed more low-income student students than ever before in the 2013 school year, but it's still small in comparison to the national lunch program, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

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Carnival Parade Float Hits Power Line In Haiti; At Least 18 Dead

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 04:47

A power line came into contact with a crowded float during a large parade early Tuesday. Conflicting reports on the number of people killed range from 18 to 20, with dozens more wounded.

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Federal Judge Blocks Obama's Executive Actions On Immigration

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 03:26

The day before the first of President Obama's executive actions on immigration were to take effect, the new rules have been put on hold by a federal judge's ruling in south Texas.

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Pity For Penguins: They Can't Taste Their Dinner

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 03:03

Savory fish are a staple for penguins, but the poor birds lack the ability to taste the umami flavor of their meals. One hypothesis? The genes at play got frozen out of commission.

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PODCAST: An impasse in Greece

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 03:00

A fog of uncertainty creeps across financial markets as negotiations over Greece's debt hit an impasse. More on that. Plus, Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit Baltimore this afternoon to talk about the troubling backlog of rape kits around the country that have never been analyzed. Hundreds of thousands of these kits containing potential DNA evidence from sexual assaults. The White House has proposed new funding to help clear that backlog. And there's talk (not confirmed) that Etsy might try to sell stock to the public sometime this winter. We look at new competitors that are jumping in.

To get to Hollywood, make a left at YouTube

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 02:00

For the second edition of From the Hills to the Valley - our series comparing Hollywood and Silicon Valley - we spoke to someone who belongs to both worlds. Issa Rae created and stars in Awkward Black Girl, an award-winning web series on YouTube, and she’s also working on a pilot for an HBO show. Last week, she released a memoir of sorts: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.

Rae believes it was her success on YouTube that brought her the opportunity with HBO.  

“HBO would never have heard of me or even seen any of my stuff had it not been for YouTube,” she says.

Why YouTube? Rae had pitched a few shows to networks, but she soon realized that they had a different perception of what the audience wanted to see on TV. She found that her ideas, especially those that involved “content of color,” were often met with reluctance or a lack of enthusiasm.

“I wanted to create a show about black people in college, and they were saying that’s too segmented,” she says. “When I wanted to make 'Awkward Black Girl,' I knew if they didn’t want to see a show about something as mainstream as black people in college, they would never go for 'Awkward Black Girl.' They would never believe they exist even.”

Rae thinks Silicon Valley companies, such as Netflix or Amazon, are good for creativity because they produce show they respect and believe audiences will like. And this, she says, will lead to more diverse programming, because online content is so closely tied to social media, which itself is very diverse.

But the biggest challenge to creating online content, Rae says, is the pressure to produce consistently.  

“Had I been consistently releasing content on a weekly basis, I would have had a much bigger following,’ she says. “People will forget about you if you're not on their radar constantly. Audiences are just really fickle. There’s no formula online outside of being consistent.”


Vice President aims to address untested rape kits

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 02:00

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit Baltimore Tuesday afternoon to talk about the troubling backlog of untested rape kits around the country. Hundreds of thousands of these kits, containing potential DNA evidence from sexual assaults, have been languishing in police storage units and crime labs. The White House has proposed $41 million in new funding to help clear that backlog.

“I think it would send an extremely powerful message to the law enforcement agencies that have allowed the kits to collect dust that this will no longer be accepted,” says Linda Fairstein, a former sex crimes prosecutor in Manhattan and part of the End the Backlog campaign.

Almost six years ago, more than 11,000 kits were found in a police storage facility in Detroit. Testing so far has led to 15 convictions. The Michigan Women’s Foundation has turned to private donors to help clear the remaining backlog.



Research shows hiring bias based on self-identification

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 02:00

It's no secret that African-Americans may face bias — either conscious or unconscious — when it comes to being hired and promoted.

But some worrying new research shows that bias may be exacerbated for job candidates who self-identify as 'black' rather than 'African-American.'

Click the media player above to hear more.

Want to get crafty? Help is only a click away

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-17 02:00

The Internet has made crafting a lucrative business — and it’s not just for selling goods. Lately, a growing number of crafters are willing to pay to learn new skills.

For help, they’re turning to companies like CreativeBug or the Denver-based company Craftsy.

Compared to many free YouTube videos shot with one camera, Craftsy tutorials look pretty slick with graphics and multiple camera angles. In one popular class called "Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine," students pay about $35 for eight lessons.

Craftsy Founder and CEO John Levisay says this course has been a blockbuster.

“It’s a skill that scares people because they spend a lot of time making this beautiful quilt, and then when they go to sew it together, people are afraid they’re going to wreck it,” Levisay says.

Craftsy seeks out the best instructors across 16 categories like cooking and woodworking. Overall, classes range in price from $15 to $60. What makes the courses, Levisay says, are the social features Craftsy has built into its courses.

“While we wanted to capture the anytime anywhere nature of online learning, we also wanted people to be able to ask their instructor a question, ask fellow students questions, and to interact with others,” he says.

It’s paying off. In 2014, the company nearly doubled its revenue, bringing in $43 million. In November, the company raised more than $50 million in venture capital. IBISWorld Industry Analyst Zeeshan Haider says the appeal for investors is the company’s large potential customer base.

“For example, there are more than 21 million plus quilters that spend anywhere around $4 billion annually on quilting,” says Haider. “So there’s still a tremendous market for the company to tap.”

Right now, Craftsy has just 6 million registered users, and there’s room for growth. Many millennials are interested in Do-It-Yourself fashion — which Craftsy has also tapped into. On the company’s website you can learn how to make your own jeans, skirts, and shirts — even your very own undergarments.