National News

How We Store Food At Home Could Be Linked To How Much We Eat

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 07:33

Could keeping food out of sight be a way to keep it out of your mouth? A new study points to a possible tie between how food is stored, how visible it is in the home and obesity.

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2 BASE Jumpers Die On Wingsuit Flight In Yosemite

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 06:43

The world of climbing lost a daring innovator Saturday when Dean Potter died during a wingsuit flight. He was killed along with Graham Hunt as they tried to soar above California's Yosemite Valley.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham Is 'Having A Blast' As He Preps Presidential Run

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 06:10

Graham told NPR he knows he'll have to work to introduce himself to voters, despite his long tenure in politics.

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Amtrak Restores Full Service On The Northeast Corridor

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 05:08

Amtrak trains between Philadelphia and New York City had been halted for a week, after a derailment killed eight people.

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Obama To Limit Police Acquisition Of Some Military-Style Equipment

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 03:55

In an executive order, President Obama will curb the kind of equipment local police can acquire from the federal government. Obama will also demand more accountability in exchange for other equipment.

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PODCAST: Good news for the Georgia pecan

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-18 03:00

New limits are on the way for military-style gear used by police officers. More on that. Plus, luxury brands take Alibaba to court over counterfeit goods on the site. And Calpers wants to sell a portion of its timberland holdings, mostly in Louisiana. Timber is performing below par compared to private equity, public equity and real estate since the recession hit. And with years of drought in California affecting nut production, some farmers are looking at other places, and other nuts, to grow. That’s good news for Georgia pecan growers.

Gunfight Between Motorcycle Gangs In Waco, Texas, Leaves 9 Dead

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 02:44

The rival gangs had gathered at a restaurant to work through issues about turf and recruitment. Police say they shot at each other and police.

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San Francisco takes innovative approach to homelessness

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-18 02:00

The tech sector in San Francisco may be booming, but the city's homeless are still suffering.

With real estate prices skyrocketing, pressure has intensified on San Francisco's needy. Advocates say there is only one shelter bed for about every six homeless people. New residents are clamoring for solutions.

The city is now trying something a little different—a shelter with fewer rules and more open space.

I sat on a bench next to Marco Simonetti. He rolled back his sleeve to show me thick, long, fresh scars. They ran all down his right arm. Simonetti says he was robbed and stabbed a couple of weeks ago.

Simonetti was living on the street. The attackers took all he had—a bike, wallet, and three dollars. He says, “They just picked me at random I guess.” He thinks maybe it was his gray hair. They saw and old guy and decided to get him.

Simonetti is safer now. He's living at The Navigation Center. 

Marco Simonetti sits outside The Navigation Center.

Sam Harnett

The center is different from most homeless shelters—less institutional. There is a big courtyard, and no curfew. Guests can come and go anytime.

Julie Leadbetter is the center's director. She says, “We're trying to lower the barriers on the street to access shelter.”

The biggest difference from most shelters, Leadbetter says, is that people can bring pets, partners, and possessions. Usually, they have to leave all that behind.

“We don't want to create a place that breaks down the very little supports that they have,” Leadbetter says. “It's about starting with what they have and building up."

Shelters are a band aid, not a solution. They are often dorms crammed with beds. There's no place to put your stuff, and they have a curfew for when you can come in and when you must leave during the day. Sexes are separated to protect women from rape. These conditions keep people out.

Allen Naethe is an army vet. He's been homeless 15 years and never went to a shelter. He couldn't abandon the love of his life. “I don't go nowhere she wont go,” Naethe says.

“She” is an English Staffordshire Terrier named Benthe. She's nine years old and pretty adorable. Naethe says he promised to get her a house, and that is what he's trying to do now at the Navigation Center.

Allen Naethe with his dog Benthe

Sam Harnett

Once someone like Naethe comes in to the center, the goal is to get them on their feet and into housing in about two weeks. The center has government services on site to help with housing, benefits, and jobs.

Bevan Dufty is San Francisco's housing director. He says the city is under pressure to innovate like this.

Dufty says, “The technology companies here want to see us do a better job responding to homeless.”

Dufty hopes the center will prove the city can be successful, and that tech companies will then start chipping in more—because the center isn't cheap. It's funded by a $2.4 million anonymous donation, and it accommodates only 75 people at a time.

For Simonetti though, the difference from other shelters is huge. “They treat you more like a regular person here,” he says, “They help more. They want to see you progress. They don't want to see you stagnate.”

Simonetti hopes to organize himself and get back together with his old girlfriend, who is now living off the street. His big dream though is to buy a boat like the one he used to live in, to head out through the Golden Gate bridge, turn left, and keep on sailing.

As walnut prices rise, consumers look to pecans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-18 02:00

The water-thirsty nut crops grown in California are getting a lot of attention these days given that state’s four-year drought.

Take walnuts for example. The drought has affected both supply and quality of this popular nut, and that’s helped double its price over the last few years.  But with increased prices, coupled with declining quality, consumers are looking for alternatives.  

That means farmers are starting to look at other places – and other nuts – to grow. The interest is good news for pecan growers in places like Texas and Georgia, because pecans are a natural substitute for walnuts.

“The applications, particularly when you’re talking about baking, are very similar,” says Dan Zedan of Nature’s Finest Foods, which specializes in marketing tree nuts.

Aside from the obvious differences – different nuts, different trees – there’s one key distinction between the two: where the nuts are grown. Pecans are grown in a handful of states and can flourish in a variety of climates.  Walnuts, on the other hand, need arid conditions to thrive and are grown almost exclusively in California.  

With the price of walnuts on the uptick, Zedans says, “We’ve seen a significant shift in consumption of Pecans.”

Zedan says confectioners and bakers have always preferred pecans, but up until recently pecans have generally been the more expensive option. The opposite has been true in the last three years.

“[Pecans] have a much better flavor profile, they have a better shelf life, they’re a bit more versatile, and there is a quality perception difference between walnuts and pecans,” Zedan says.

This is all good news for Georgia, which is the top pecan producer in the U.S. Other pecan producing states like Texas and New Mexico are happy too.

Lenny Wells, a pecan specialist with the University of Georgia, says the pecan industry was booming even before the California drought. Growers, he says, have seen almost a dollar increase per pound in the last few years.

“A lot of that is driven by the export demand for pecans right now, mainly to Asia,” Wells says. “So the economics looks good and we’ve had a lot of outside interest in the industry.”

With California’s ongoing drought, this interest is showing no signs of letting up.

Wells says he’s even gotten a couple of calls from California nut growers looking to set up shop in Georgia. 

Calpers reportedly looking to sell of timberland

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-18 02:00

California’s public-employee pension fund—Calpers—is reportedly looking to unload some trees. About 300,000 acres-worth, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reports Calpers wants to sell timberland it owns in the Southeastern U.S.

Calpers lists about $2.2 billion worth of forestland investments in its $300 billion portfolio; it has much bigger stakes in investment classes such as stocks, bonds, and real estate. The investments fund the pensions of more than 1.5 million California public employees and retirees in California.

Back in the early 2000s, the trend was to diversify investments to get higher returns (Calpers faces underfunded pension liabilities, as do many other state pension funds). But some alternative investments didn’t pan out, says economist John Canally at LPL Financial.

“What happened to timber prices over the last ten years—you basically got no return on forestry stocks,” says Canally. He says the housing crash and global recession depressed the lumber market. If pension funds like Calpers had left their money in stocks and bonds, he says, their investments would have been more profitable in the long run.

A spokesman for Calpers told Marketplace by email that he could not confirm any plans to downsize Calpers’ timber holdings or review that segment of the fund’s portfolio.

University of Georgia forestry business professor Thomas Harris says that if Calpers did want to sell its timberlands in Louisiana and East Texas, there would be plenty of potential buyers. “Weyerhauser, Potlach, Plum Creek, have been active in acquiring timber land,” says Harris. “There’s interest by pension funds and high-wealth individuals.”

Harris says timber can be an attractive and stable investment, because the trees keep growing, getting more valuable as time goes on.

How Mexico is fighting obesity

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-18 02:00

Mexico and the United States have the highest rates of obesity of any major country in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

But Mexico has been taking steps to change that. "In the United States, we think we're the first to do everything, but that's not necessarily true," says Kelly Brownell, dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. "And in the case of policies, to address the obesity problem, there are other countries that have been out of the gate earlier than we have." 

Mexico is one of the first countries to adopt a tax on sugary beverages, a ban on junk food advertisement during kids' shows and movies, and a push towards healthier food in schools. But Franco Sassi, senior health economist at the OECD, says it is difficult to specify exactly what constitutes a "healthy food." 

When it comes to obesity, there is no single food and policy that can tip the scales by itself, Sassi says.

A Loft-y purchase

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-05-18 01:59
$2.16 billion

That's the purchase price for Ann Taylor's and Loft's parent company. The buyer? Ascena Retail Group, the owner of Lane Bryant and Dressbarn. As reported by the New York Times, the combined companies will have 4,930 stores in the United States alone.

"Seven or eight"

That's how many errors publisher HarperCollins corrected in "Clinton Cash," a controversial book about Hillary Clinton's finances and foundation. Normally, readers would have to wait for a new edition for these revisions, but there's no standard practice for e-books, and in this case they were updated with a notification email from Amazon. 

300,000

That's about how many acres of timberland the California’s public-employee pension fund, Calpers, is reportedly looking to sell. With the lumber market down since the housing crash, investments in that industry by Calpers have not been performing as well as if the money had been put into stocks and bonds.

$16.1 million

That's how much Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba says it spends per year fighting counterfeit goods. But not everyone thinks the site is doing all it can. Shortly before its IPO in July, a group of luxury brands represented by Kering SA filed a suit against Alibaba citing dissatisfaction with efforts to weed out counterfeit goods. That initial suit was dropped, but now those same brands are back, this time claiming Alibaba assists counterfeiters in the sale of their products.

2 weeks

That's about how long The Navigation Center, a new kind of homeless shelter in San Francisco, aims to have residents back on their feet and into housing. Facing pressure from the tech industry to address homelessness, the city is trying out a new kind of system that feels less institutionalized. At The Navigation Center, residents are allowed to bring pets, and there are no curfews. There are also government programs on site to help with employment and 

461

That's how many people police killed in 2013, according to the FBI. But there's more to those numbers; mainly that they may be inaccurate, and better data is hard to come by. Local departments' reporting standards don't match up, and often the paperwork just doesn't get filed correctly. That's the latest story in our series "Behind the Blue Line."

'Mad Men' Finale: A Love Letter To Fans Filled With Mostly Happy Endings

NPR News - Mon, 2015-05-18 00:58

AMC's Mad Men ended its seven-season run on Sunday. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans says fans may have loved how characters' stories were resolved, but critics may question how writers got them there.

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It's Not A Come-On From A Satanic Cult. It's A New Kind Of Poll!

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 23:53

Tanzanians were skeptical when they were invited for a free trip to the big city to discuss natural gas policy. But it's actually an innovative strategy to involve ordinary citizens in key decisions.

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Deaf Jam: Experiencing Music Through A Cochlear Implant

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 23:52

After swapping hearing aids for a cochlear implant, Sam Swiller's taste in music shifted dramatically, from grunge rock to folk. Now scientists are trying to improve how implants relay music.

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In Seoul, Kerry Calls N. Korea Provocations 'Egregious,' 'Reckless'

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 23:44

America's top diplomat says North Korea's muscle flexing on the Korean peninsula may lead to further international pressure — and possibly a referral to the International Criminal Court.

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1 Marine Killed During Osprey Training Exercise In Hawaii

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 21:48

A Marine Corps Osprey aircraft made a hard landing in Hawaii on Sunday, killing one Marine and sending 21 other people to hospitals as dark smoke from the resulting fire billowed into the sky.

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9 Dead After Shootout Between Rival Bike Gangs In Central Texas

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 21:08

A shootout at a busy restaurant in Waco, Texas, shortly after noon on Sunday, left bystanders and patrons fleeing for safety. The number of injured is not yet known.

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9 Dead After Central Texas Shootout Between Rival Biker Gangs

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 15:30

The violence at a busy restaurant in Waco, Texas, which started shortly after noon, left bystanders and patrons fleeing for safety. The number of injured is not yet known.

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Amtrak To Restore Service Between Philadelphia, New York

NPR News - Sun, 2015-05-17 13:23

That portion of the Northeast Corridor — the nation's busiest railroad — was shut down while the train service investigated Tuesday's fatal derailment. It will reopen early Monday.

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