National News

Quiz: Teens get fewer zzzzzs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:00

Teens have been losing sleep for two decades, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "", id: "teens-get-fewer-zzzzzs", placeholder: "pd_1424278565" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'':'';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

Blind Boy's Quest Prompts Australia To Plan Tactile Cash

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 06:55

Blind since birth, Connor McLeod couldn't tell how much money he'd been given for Christmas. So he started a petition seeking banknotes that can be differentiated by feel.

» E-Mail This

How Marijuana Hijacks Your Brain To Create The Munchies

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 06:14

Where there's pot, there's often an insatiable hunger. Now researchers have a big clue why: Cannabinoids, the drug in marijuana, appear to flip a neural circuit that normally tells us we're full.

» E-Mail This

Why Congress Doesn't Really Worry About What Most Americans Think

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 06:01

Polls show Americans are largely in favor of authorizing further actions against the Islamic State. Yet there is one group of Americans that is having far more trouble deciding how it feels: Congress.

» E-Mail This

Pregnant And Uninsured? Don't Count On Obamacare Coverage

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 05:37

Women who get pregnant and don't have health insurance can't sign up outside open enrollment until after they give birth. Advocates say that puts mother and child at risk of serious health problems.

» E-Mail This

UN Envoy: Syria Agrees To Proposed Break In Air Strikes On Aleppo

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 04:47

Aleppo has been the subject of bitter fighting, with rebels and government forces splitting a city that was once a productive economic engine. The UN wants to create a "freeze" on violence there.

» E-Mail This

Prosecutors Raid HSBC's Geneva Office Over Suspected Money Laundering

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 04:03

The raid comes a week after leaked HSBC documents showed that the bank's Swiss unit had helped its international clients launder profits and shelter their holdings from their home countries.

» E-Mail This

Ukraine Withdraws Forces After Fight Over Strategic City

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 03:09

"Some 80 percent of the units have already been pulled out" of Debaltseve, says Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko. He's seeking to punish Russia for the latest violence.

» E-Mail This

PODCAST: A good time to be in the air freight industry

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 03:00

The attorney general says the time is approaching to prosecute Wall Street ... or not. Plus, dock workers at West Coast ports haven't had a contract since the end of June and somehow they haven't been working quite as fast. This has caused bottlenecks for months that are starting to really hit factories and retailers across the country. One winner here already: the air freight industry. The International Air Transport Association says global air cargo rose 4.5 percent last year, due in part to the congestion at these shipping terminals. More on that. And fair trade coffee is meant to give smaller growers a larger share of high retail prices. You may have seen other fair trade crafts in hipster boutiques but some of that merchandise is now coming to a department store near you. We head to Guatamala to find out more.

Exiting U.S. Attorney General's last act

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 03:00

Before U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder rides into the sunset—to be succeeded (pending Senate confirmation) by President Barack Obama’s nominee, Loretta Lynch—he is acting the lawman one final time.

In a speech at the National Press Club this week, he said he’s instructed Department of Justice lawyers to decide in the next 90 days whether they can bring viable civil or criminal cases against individual executives for actions that helped precipitate the financial crisis in 2008.

Holder has been criticized for launching few successful fraud or money laundering prosecutions against individuals in the aftermath of the mortgage meltdown. Holder has denied that his department has followed a de facto policy of ‘too big to jail’ in pursuing big banks and their top executives.

Karen Petrou at Federal Financial Analytics says dragging individual executives into court at this point might help deter future bad behavior by bankers.

“If you prosecute a few high-profile individuals and make it clear it’s not good enough to just make speeches about corporate ethics, that could well bring it home,” says Petrou. “That’s as opposed to abstract corporate sanctions which are ultimately paid for by taxpayers and shareholders.”

Under Holder, the DOJ has been aggressive in the past few years in pursuing civil settlements with big banks for alleged financial wrongdoing—levying $36 billion in aggregate penalties against JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America. 

Growth of fair trade brings benefits for artisans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 02:00

Since ancient times, the women of Guatemala’s indigenous communities in the western highlands have used hand-dyed thread to made clothes on back strap looms. Now, they are using those same techniques to make clothes and accessories for Nordstrom, J. Crew and other mainstream brands.

Yolanda Calgua Morales, 45, leads a group of weavers is the remote mountain community of Quiejel, near Chichicastenango.

Growing demand for traditional handmade textiles has changed Morales’ life. She’s been able to build a house and educate her two children.

Morales learned to weave when she was seven. She has taught her daughter, nieces and cousins. 

“I teach them to weave because I don't want them to lose the culture,” Morales says. “I love the work and I don't want it to disappear.”

Morales says her grandmother passed down designs using four colors. Now, the Quieiel community uses 12 colors and new designs, many of them created by Morales. “I always think about what needs to change and how to improve,” she says. “When it's ready I give it to the group; that's why they call me the representative.”

Morales and the other Quiejel weavers work with a non-profit organization called Maya Traditions, which helps them sell their work for a fair price.

"We’re providing a product people want to buy with a story they support,” says Alison Wandschneider, director of sales and marketing for Maya Traditions.

Maya Traditions works with about 120 weavers from six areas in Guatemala, including Quiejel. There are many nonprofits like it, especially in Panajachel, a beautiful and touristic town of about 12,000 that anchors the indigenous villages around Lake Atitlán.

The nonprofit organizations court customers like Piece & Co., a Chicago-based for-profit company with a mission to improve artisans’ lives around the world “by partnering with leading fashion and retail brands,” according to its website.

“We're the link between the artisan groups and these mainstream brands,” says Danielle Huffaker, the company’s Guatemala representative. “There’s all sort of expectations that brands have that artisan groups may not be accustomed to working with.”

On a recent Monday, Huffaker brought her laptop to the offices of Maya Traditions. She had a long list of questions Piece &Co. uses to vet artisan groups all over the world. Among them: How often do you meet with your artisans? How old are they? What is your bank? How do you define living wage? How many Guatemalans are on staff? How do you certify dyes are chemical-free?

Maya Traditions has answers to many of the questions, but some still need to be figured out. For instance, the industry talks about fabric in yards. But what comes off a back strap loom is not a yard. It’s the width of the weaver’s waist; more like 20 inches than 36. It’s called a lienzo. As Huffaker looks at the intricate product samples from Maya Traditions, she thinks out loud:

“There's advantage to us in the sizes being in yards so we can compare prices between different countries,” she says. “We can definitely do this in lienzos as long as it’s really clear what unit we’re measuring so we can do conversions on our end.

The women say shoppers want fair trade products in mainstream stores. And consumer demand is driving both retailers and artisans to change the way they do business. For Piece & Co.'s customers, the goal is predictable high-quality supply. Sellers like Maya Traditions want to get a fair price and keep traditional ways while growing an export business.  

“We have had a lot of tough conversations and missed some deadlines,” Wandschneider says. “But I think it's all at this very interesting point of tension and out of it will come something really awesome.”

Back in Quiejel, Marisol Morales Calel, program coordinator with Maya Traditions, is explaining this year’s contract to 18 weavers in K’iche, an indigenous language. Some weavers don’t speak Spanish, some will sign with a thumb print. The deal spells out deadlines and deliverables; it promise fair pay and benefits. It may turn out to be a binding agreement between the past and the future.









Postal Service wants a redesigned mail truck

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 02:00

Representatives from auto companies and the U.S. postal service meet in Washington D.C. on Wednesday to discuss replacing the postal service's fleet of mail trucks.

The trucks, manufactured by a fighter jet maker, were designed to last but not for 30 years. They are guzzling fuel, are requiring too much maintenance, and aren't big enough for the postal service's growing e-commerce package business.

The contract for a new fleet of trucks could be a $6 billion bonanza for the winning manufacturer, but it also has its challenges.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Who is Goliath?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 02:00

Today on our From the Hills to the Valley series, we take a look at internet piracy and whether or not tech companies are doing enough to stop illegal downloads.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents six of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Sony, Warner Brothers and Walt Disney, believes Silicon Valley can do more.

“We believe that the whole ecosystem should engage in voluntary measures to prevent online theft and distribution,” says Mike Robinson, who is the head of content protection at MPAA. The internet, says Robinson, is vital to Hollywood, not least for marketing and distributing content.

But the MPAA and Silicon Valley are still at loggerheads with each other over piracy. In fact, leaked emails during the hack on Sony Pictures suggested that the MPAA and several Hollywood studios had identified a “super enemy” in their piracy battle. It was rumoured that the enemy, referred to as Goliath, was Google. Is Google “goliath?” Robinson wouldn't say.

Meanwhile, the MPAA is watching a court case involving the International Trade Commission (ITC) in which the ITC is pushing for a mandate to stop pirated content at the United States border. “It’s an interesting proposition, whether or not those singles coming to the U.S. should be subject to some form of blocking,” says Robinson. However, he says, he would rather everyone involved, including Silicon Valley, voluntarily come up with a joint plan to beat piracy.

“Thats our desire with ISPs and folks from Silicon Valley, to find ways that work for all of us.”


Chinese New Year by the numbers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 01:30
2.8 billion

That's how many trips the Chinese government estimates citizens will make for the holiday. Bloomberg points out that dwarfs Thanksgiving in the U.S., which AAA projected spurred just 46.3 million Americans to travel. More than six times that many will travel in China by train alone.

21.5 million

Speaking of the impressive number of Chinese citizens traveling for the holiday, larger metropolitan cities turn into ghost towns as people leave the city for the new year. For example, Beijing, which normally boasts a population of 21.5 million people, becomes largely empty. Over at Quartz, they've collected some of the haunting pictures taken by people who stayed in the city and are enjoying some peace and quiet.

942 stores

Fireworks are a big part of the Chinese New Year celebration, but they can also be hazardous to people's health. Chinese officials worried that this year's mild weather may mean that pollution from fireworks would stick around as opposed to being blown away. As reported by the IBT, the city of Beijing has allowed just 942 stores to sell fireworks this year, down at least 100 stores from last year.

260 million

The approximate number of migrant workers in China, according to the Washington Post. Those workers are flooding out of China's biggest cities to return home to their families, and search engine Baidu is charting many of their trips. "It's not just the world's biggest human migration," a company spokesman told the AP. "It's the biggest mammalian migration."

100 tons

That's how many live lobsters will be exported from Canada to China each week at peak this year. Spurred by concerns about domestic seafood, Chinese demand for the luxury shellfish is so high that Canadian exporters are having trouble keeping up, the New York Times reported.

20 percent

The increase in C-section births one doctor reported in the lead up to the new year, mostly by mothers wanting to give birth in the current year of the horse instead of the upcoming year of the goat. The International Business Times reports that uptick is reflected throughout China and elsewhere in Asia. C-sections were up 35 percent in Singapore, for example.

Even As Progressives Take Lead In Greece, Women Remain Out Of Power

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:37

The new, leftist Greek government says it wants to revolutionize a country that long has resisted change. So far that hasn't included finally placing women at the highest levels of government.

» E-Mail This

Why Slow Electronic Payments Can Cause Cash Flow Problems

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:37

Electronic messages can circle the globe in an instant these days, but electronic payments can still take days to complete. This can put consumers at greater risk of getting hit with late fees.

» E-Mail This

Kids' Solo Playtime Unleashes 'Free-Range' Parenting Debate

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:36

A number of parents have made news in recent months for letting children walk or play outside on their own. But laws on when kids are allowed to be by themselves are vague.

» E-Mail This

U.S. Communities Called On To Prevent Home-Grown Terrorism

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 00:01

Preventing home-grown terrorism is the focus of meetings at the White House this week. Experts say more than 20,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Syria to sign up with the so-called Islamic State.

» E-Mail This

Oregon Ushers One Governor Out; Another One In On Wednesday

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 22:36

Secretary of State Kate Brown will become the second woman to serve as Oregon's governor. She replaces fellow Democrat John Kitzhaber who is resigning amid a criminal ethics investigation.

» E-Mail This

Beagle Miss P Is Named Westminster Dog Show's Best

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-17 21:10

The Canadian canine is only the second beagle to win, following her great-uncle Uno in 2008.

» E-Mail This