National News

California Farmers Finagle A Fig For All Seasons

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:36

Two growers are competing to harvest fresh figs earlier and earlier in hopes of transforming the industry for year-round production. But some fig lovers say they can hold out for summer fruit.

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Tech Giants Pony Up Cash To Help Prevent Another Heartbleed

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:30

Google, Intel and others say they will now financially support the open-source software that encrypts much of the traffic on the Internet. The effort follows the discovery of a key security flaw.

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Internet Freedom Debate Stokes Rivalry Between Turkey's Top Two

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

Turkey has been roiled by street protests, a Twitter ban controversy and, most recently, a growing rivalry between the ruling party's top two figures, the president and prime minister.

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NCAA Directors Decide To Allow More Freedom To Wealthier Schools

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

Major changes are expected for the NCAA, whose board meets Thursday. Directors will consider giving the five power conferences more autonomy, as well as changing the way scholarships are administered.

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With New E-Cigarette Rules, FDA Hopes To Tame A 'Wild, Wild West'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to expand its regulatory powers to e-cigarettes and other popular products containing nicotine.

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Report Decries A Cozy Relationship Shared By DHS And Watchdog

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

A Senate panel released a report Thursday that criticizes the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security. It accuses him of repeatedly compromising his independence.

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Firefights And Fallen Separatists, As Ukraine Offensive Advances

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

Early Thursday morning, the Ukrainian military moved into towns held by militants. Firefights and casualties have been reported at a number of different locations.

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In Answer To Palestinian Unity, Israelis Step Away From Peace Talks

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

The Israeli government suspended peace talks with Palestinians, citing a unity agreement announced Wednesday by Palestinian leadership. The Israeli security cabinet came to the decision unanimously, angered by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to end a seven-year schism with the Hamas movement.

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CIA Acts In Syria, Slipping Weapons To Rebels In Secret

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

As diplomatic talks in Geneva have failed to resolve the three-year-old civil war in Syria, the U.S. is undertaking a new covert program to send weapons in support of rebel forces there.

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Chemical Weapons Deadline May Be Met, But Results In Syria Are Mixed

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:15

Syria will likely meet an upcoming deadline to hand over its declared chemical weapons. But the agreement seems to have emboldened the Syrian regime to use other brutal tactics, including a chemical not covered by the deal.

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Pacific Island Nation Sues U.S., Others For Violating Nuclear Treaty

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:12

The Marshall Islands, the site of 66 U.S. nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958, says the Non-Proliferation Treaty requires nuclear states to disarm.

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Inside 'The Outsiders'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:04

[2014-04-24 13:00:00] S.E. Hinton became a literary star while still a teenager when her novel The Outsiders was published in 1967. It’s remained a popular title over the years and has been chosen as the focus of the 2014 Big D Reads program. This hour, Hinton joins us to talk about the origins of the book and the role it’s played in her life. 

Caring For Torture Victims

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 12:04

[2014-04-24 12:00:00] More than 54,000 survivors of torture call Texas home. They come from Nepal, Myanmar, Iraq and other places around the world. We’ll talk this hour about how they are cared for locally with Celia VanDeGraff, executive director of the Center for Survivors of Torture.

30 years ago, the Air Jordan brought celebrity to sneakers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:42

The fashion world has always been notoriously fickle. What's hot this season may be considered passé in a few months. But one fashion accessory has had a spectacular run: the Nike Air Jordan. This is the 30th anniversary of the iconic sneaker, which has had a huge impact on the sneaker business. It spawned the era of the signature athletic shoe, and a whole generation of underground sneaker collectors known as sneakerheads, that today are not so underground.

In the early days, sneakerheads logged on to online message boards to buy and trade rare shoes. "Most of these people, they were located in the Midwest and down South and the West Coast," says Brooklyn native Joe Guerrero. Everyone calls him Sneaker Joe. He was one of the first sneakerheads who figured out how to make money buying and selling rare shoes that weren't available in big retail stores.

"I saw a demand," says Sneaker Joe. He set out to meet that demand by "hitting up all these stores in downtown Brooklyn and the Bronx, Harlem, all these mom and pop shops that had urban accounts. I just started selling on eBay."

Sneaker Joe's business grew. Soon, he had international customers. He was cutting deals with stores and buying in bulk. He sold online until 5 p.m., took a break for a couple of hours, then started his second business, hand-delivering rare sneakers to celebrities like Jay-Z and LeBron James.

"That was up until 2007," Joe says. "Then the market became oversaturated. It became harder to acquire shoes once all these blogs started reporting and hyping up stuff."

By 2007, sneaker collecting had reached new heights. Camping outside a store for a new shoe release was common. "What changed the way sneakers are looked at is information, the internet," says DJ Clark Kent. "If you didn't know that a new Jordan was coming out, you wouldn't be hyped up to get it."

He was one of the people Sneaker Joe used to deliver to. Kent is a record producer and a sneaker aficionado who has designed several shoes for Nike, and hosts an online talk show about shoes. He says sneaker companies have mastered the art of hype. The limited edition special release is now a standard marketing strategy. "Everybody is hyped for what's coming out on Saturday," he says. "Saturday comes. Whoever gets it, gets it, and then next Saturday there's something else, and then they are hyped all over again."

For Sneaker Joe, camping out overnight for a shoe was never something he was willing to do. Today there are sneaker conferences and brick and mortar stores that have taken the place of entrepreneurs like him. So he has evolved with the times and altered his business model. He invented the Sneaker Pimp tournament, where sneakerheads compete for who has the coolest kicks.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens: Marijuana Should Be Legal

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:37

In an interview with NPR's Scott Simon, Stevens compares making pot illegal to the attempt to prohibit alcohol. Like alcohol, he said, there will soon be a consensus that it is not worth the cost.

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Using Technology To Fix The Texting While Driving Problem

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:25

Parents, cities and software companies have advocated or developed apps that block texts and calls when you're driving. But an Apple patent for locking phone functions could make a big impact.

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Tyler Hicks Tells The Story Behind His Pulitzer-Winning Nairobi Mall Photos

NPR News - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:16

The New York Times photojournalist happened to be nearby when Islamist militants launched an attack on shoppers inside an upscale Kenyan mall — he rushed inside and took photos as the event unfolded.

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Pie on the brain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-24 10:40

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up April 25:

The University of Michigan releases its final April consumer sentiment survey to show you how others have been affected by current economic conditions.

Ford is scheduled to release quarterly earnings.

And you hear him on The Simpsons as Moe, Apu and others. Actor Hank Azaria turns 50.

Pie lovers from around the country convene in Orlando for the National Pie Championships. Imagine having to think about pie for days.

If after eating all that pie you need some exercise, climb a tree. It's National Arbor Day.

Don't buy beer or cigarettes for strangers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-24 10:25

Over 100 teenagers spent a recent Saturday outside liquor stores across the state of California, asking adults to buy them alcohol. An outbreak of teen drinking? Just the opposite. These kids were part of a statewide effort to keep alcohol away from the under-21 set. 

Volunteer Youth Decoys are recruited from high schools, sold on the idea that they can help "clean up the streets." The teens just need to complete a brief training, and get their parents to sign off on it. 

In a recent coordinated day-long effort with over 100 police and sheriffs departments across California, young decoys netted 544 arrests... and got a unique window into a possible career.  

I rode along in an unmarked car to watch the action. At one point, we were driving towards a startled man in a black Chevy. The sergeant jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran towards the suspect on foot, while out of sight officers in bulletproof vests swarmed in, cutting off the man’s escape routes.

His crime: buying a six pack of Coors Light for an undercover teen.

“I’m the decoy-- I’m the guy that messes up people’s days I guess," says 18-year-old Daniel Gardener. 

Gardener, who is plainclothes and not wearing a bulletproof vest, is undercover with the Alameda County Sheriffs. The officers just arrested a middle-aged man in a sweat suit. The violator, a guy named Fred, is the fourth person busted for buying alcohol for a minor at this location in the past hour and a half.

Fred has his reasons, as he explains to Gardener, “I’m gonna tell you why I did it. You’re the same height as my son… and you look kinda like him-- you're white, though. But you look kinda like him-- same build, you feel me?”

Even though Fred is facing a possible $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service, he praises the Youth Decoy who set him up saying, “Hey thank you young man. You’re a good actor, dude.”

Let’s meet another cast member of this youth production. Lisset Araugio is 16, but is no stranger to the game. They call me, ‘the veteran’,” she says.

This is Araugio’s third year as a youth decoy, where she works on tobacco stings -- going into corner-stores and buying flavored cigars, called Swishers.

“I usually walk in the stores, I give them a smile and I say, ‘Oh, can I get a Swisher Sweet?’ And then I say, ‘Please.’ And if they give them to me, I say, ‘Thank you, and have a nice day.’ And I smile.”

That’s cold blooded. Evidently, being a youth decoy means putting duty before empathy.  

“This lady, she didn’t speak any English -- I was talking to her in Spanish,” recalls Araugio. “And then when she got the citation, she was like, ‘Can you please tell them that they’re going to kick me out of my job because I did this?’ And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, but next time you should be more careful.’  And she’s like, ‘Please help me!’ And she got so mad she started crying."

All that drama, plus a $200 to $1000 fine may seem like a severe penalty for selling tobacco to a minor. Back at the alcohol decoy operation, Sergeant Scheuller says these stings sometimes catch people engaged in worse crimes.

“A lot of times, what we find is the people that are willing to buy alcohol for a minor -- a lot of times they’ve been involved in other criminal activity,” says Scheuller.

According to the statewide agency that sponsored these operations, about 10 percent of people cuffed today actually went to jail on crimes ranging from drunk driving, illegal drug possession, to resisting arrest. Apart from sending people to jail, Sergeant Scheuller says the Youth Decoy program also brings some kids into the force. 

“So maybe you might wanna think of pursuing a career in law enforcement?" Sergeant Scheuller asks me with a nudge. "You could do this as your job. And get paid. It’s the best job in the world if you ask me.” 

Decoys like Daniel Gardener don’t need persuading. He intends to be a sheriff. He knows some kids who have gone from the decoy program straight into the police academy.  

For me, trapping somebody who thinks they’re doing me a favor is too much. It makes me feel callous and dishonest.

But Fred, the guy who bought the six pack, says a citation does get the message across: “Everybody makes mistakes in life, this was mine, you don’t have to worry about me ever doing this again."

Me neither. 

This story was produced by Youth Radio.

What has changed one year after Rana Plaza

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-24 10:01

On April 24, 2013 an eight-story factory building collapsed in Bangladesh, in a complex called "Rana Plaza."

1,129 workers died. More than 2,500 were injured, many seriously so.

The factory made clothing for companies all over the world, from Walmart to Benetton.

The BBC's Akbar Hossain covered the collapse and the aftermath. In the year since, he's spoken with workers and factory owners. He told Marketplace's David Gura about the past year in Bangladesh's garment industry:

Q: What sort of tangible changes have you seen to these factories in Bangladesh? Do they look different?

To be very honest, the situation and the physical infrastructure [of most factories] has not changed yet. Workers [still] are alleging that they're working in very dangerous conditions. 

There are factories in Bangladesh that are very compliant...they meet all the standards of international buyers. But there are many factories which don't even comply with the minimum standards in Bangladesh. And thousands of workers are working there -- there's a problem.

Q: This is an issue that attracted so much attention globally. There was a compensation fund that was intended to raise at least $40 million for victims. This hasn't happened yet. Why?

Bangladeshi garment owners are saying they couldn't insure the factories safety and standards because internatioanl buyers always want cheaper garments from Bangladesh. So they have to maintain the factories in cheaper ways. 

Bangladesh's garment industry is a huge industry for Bangladesh. It earns $20 billion every year. More than 5 million people are directly employed in the garment industry, and there are [many] other people who have links. 

Q: Rana Plaza did contract work for some big western companies, like Mango and Benetton. Have you seen these businesses travelling more to Bangladesh? Taking a closer look since this happened?

The Rana Plaza disaster was a wake up call for the Bangladeshi garment indsustry, and it was a wake up call for international garments and brands also. They are coming to Bangladesh. I've talked to Trade Union Leaders, and they are telling me, yes, international buyers are now more serious. They're trying to maximize they're profit, but now they're focusing on the safety issues. They're actually pressing garment factory owners to insure a safer workplace.

So things are changing, things have worked, but things are going very slow.

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