National News

Two Of Oregon's Top Democrats Call On Gov. John Kitzhaber To Resign

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 15:00

Kitzhaber has been engulfed in a strange influence-peddling scandal that has put the four-term governor in a politically precarious position. And the sage just got stranger.

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Port lockouts and the sea's importance in supply chain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 14:37

Lawmakers from both parties are urging President Barack Obama to get involved in the labor dispute that has snarled ports on the West Coast for months. Container ships are stacked up from Los Angeles to Seattle. And now: Port operators locked out  workers Thursday, and they'll do it again over the upcoming Presidents Day weekend.  

An estimated $1 trillion dollars in goods moves through those ports annually – and when those goods stop moving, supply chains nationwide get broken. "There are an awful lot of people ... on the spectrum from concerned to panicked," says Allan Rutter, a researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

For instance, most manufacturing now runs on a “just-in-time” system.  When parts don't arrive, assembly lines can stop.

"What manufacturers are extremely good at is problem-solving, and coming up with work-arounds," says Robyn Boerstling, director of transportation and infrastructure policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

But work-arounds are expensive. For instance, Fuji Heavy Industries says it’s paying $60 million a month to fly Subaru parts to U.S. plants to keep things running.

Some businesses are unable to ship things out of the country. California citrus growers say they’ve lost half a billion dollars in foreign business. Retailers are becoming unglued as they wait for imported products.

Dan Boaz, founder of airfreight.com, is looking at what happens once the ports start moving again. "It’s going be a whole 'nother secondary-effect nightmare. Everyone’s going to want to be at the front of the line, and everybody’s going to want to get their freight." And, he says, it’s going to be a great opportunity, for him.

 

Brazil is facing its worst drought in a century

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 14:08

If you wash your hands today in Sao Paulo, Brazil, you might be encouraged to do it with hand sanitizer instead of water. That's because Sao Paulo is in the middle of its worst drought in a century.

Marketplace Weekend host Lizzie O'Leary, on assignment in Brazil, tells Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal: "There's one stat that will probably blow your mind a little bit: 68 percent of the people here, in Sao Paulo, have had problems with the water supply in the past month. So that means the water pressure's lower, and there has been some talk of outright rationing."

For now, the government is offering price incentives to encourage residents to use less water. High-end restaurants are using plastic utensils, and students are told not to brush their teeth while in school. And an economy of private water trucks has sprung up, delivering water to the wealthy during the early-morning hours.

Ruling May Force Ala. Probate Judges To Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:59

A federal judge in Alabama has ruled that a probate judge in Mobile must issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

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FBI Director Faces 'Hard Truths' Of Policing Minority Communities

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:53

James Comey says both systematic and societal factors play a part in disconnect between law enforcement and communities of color.

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Obama's Plan To Tax Overseas Earnings Draws Scrutiny

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:50

American firms have about $2 trillion in overseas accounts — money they could be using to hire workers and pay dividends in the U.S. The president wants to encourage them to bring that money home.

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With Porches And Parks, A Texas Community Aims For Urban Utopia

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:50

Austin's Mueller neighborhood is a new-urbanist dream, designed to be convivial, walkable and energy-efficient. Every house has a porch or stoop, and all the cars are hidden away.

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Brian Williams Case Raises Fundamental Questions About An Anchor's Role

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:50

Two former network news chiefs reflect on the crisis facing NBC over the scandal involving suspended anchor Brian Willliams and question the fundamental role anchors play.

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12 crazy facts about chickens, and then some

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:49

In his book "Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?" author Andrew Lawler trace's poultry's path from a few small forests to nearly every dinner table in America. 

Here's some stuff from the book that blew our minds:

1. At any given time, 20 billion chickens are alive and squawking on our planet. That's three for every human, and more than all the cats, dogs, pigs, cows and rats combined.

2. The only country without live chickens is Vatican City. The only continent without them is Antarctica.

3. Under federal law, chickens are not considered livestock, or even classified as animals, if they are raised for food. 

4. Though it can barely fly, the chicken has become the world's most migratory bird, in food form. One bird can be parceled out to half a dozen countries or more. For example: The feet go to China, the legs to Russia, wings to Spain, intestines to Turkey, bones to Amsterdam for soup and breasts to America.

5. In Ancient Greece, sacrificing a cock to Asclepius (the god of medicine) was a common practice of a sick person who wanted to get well. Today when we’re sick we eat chicken soup. Chicken does indeed have healing properties: The meat contains cysteine, an amino acid that is related to the active ingredient in a drug used to treat bronchitis. A 2011 study by an Iowa physician determined that people with viral illnesses who ate chicken soup recovered faster than those who didn’t.

6. Chicken bones found in western South America indicate that Polynesians reached the New World at least 100 years before Columbus, and that they were raising chickens first too. Pre-Columbian chickens means that Old World and New World humans met sometime after the end of the Ice Age and before Columbus.

7. Roosters have no penises. Instead, a male chicken fertilizes the female’s eggs by inverting its cloacae (the single-lane end of the urinary and digestive tracts) and pressing it against hers. “Biology can’t explain why our favored slang word for the male organ refers to a bird that lacks one,” Lawler writes.

8. Roosters are randy, maybe that’s why: “Male chickens prefer new partners to familiar ones. Scientists call this salacious behavior the 'Coolidge effect,'" Lawler writes. “During separate tours of a chicken farm by President Calvin Coolidge and his wife in the 1920s, Mrs. Coolidge remarked on a rooster that was busy mating. She was told that this behavior took place dozens of times daily. ‘Tell that to the president when he comes by,’  she said cooly. When the message was relayed, the president asked if the rooster mated with the same hen. He was told no, that the male preferred a variety of partners. ‘Tell that to Mrs. Coolidge,’ he responded.”

9. In 2007, a scientific team extracted a protein from a 68 million-year-old tyrannosaurus rex and found it to be identical to one that exists in the chicken. Let’s see if “Jurassic World” updates its dino-DNA video.

10. Chickens called "bilateral gynandromorphs" that contain distinctively male and female parts on separate sides of their bodies. This has occasionally led to chickens that look like roosters but can lay eggs. They inspired the mythological creature known as the basilisk, a rooster said to lay an egg that would hatch into a chicken with a lizard or dragon body.

11. Thank Charles Vantress next time you sit down to a chicken dinner. He won the “Chicken of Tomorrow” contest in 1951, sort of an X-prize for bigger-breasted poultry. To compete with pork and beef, A&P supermarkets helped organize the contest that challenged farmers, scientists and breeders to come up with “breast meat so thick you can carve it into steaks.” Nearly every chicken we eat today is a descendant of the Vantress.

12. Today the average American eats around 70 pounds of chicken a year, five times the 1950 amount. The chickens have also gotten much bigger. Before the “Chicken of Tomorrow” took hold, a broiler required an average of 70 days to reach the average weight of 3.1 pounds, with 3 pounds of feed needed per pound of bird. In 2010, only 47 days were needed to make a 5.7-pound bird that required less than 2 pounds of feed.

FBI Director Wades Into Contentious Debate Over Policing And Race

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:48

James Comey says the nation is at a crossroads when it comes to race and policing. He told students on Thursday that it's time for law enforcement and communities to face some hard truths.

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Tiger Woods Steps Away From Golf Amid Terrible Season

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:47

Woods is currently ranked 62nd in the world, which is his lowest since joining the PGA tour nearly 20 years ago. Robert Siegel talks to Ron Sirak, a senior writer for Golf Digest.

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Space Station Astronauts In Star Wars-Themed Crew Pic

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:38

First there was suited-up astronaut Leland Melvin posing with his dogs. Now, a Space Station crew set for launch in September has donned Jedi robes.

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Obama Signs Act Designed To Prevent Suicide Among Veterans

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 13:24

On Thursday, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act. Is it enough? Rachel Martin puts that question to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.

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Facebook Offers New Options For Digital Life After Death

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:57

The company is introducing a new policy that allows users to appoint an executor who will keep their account active posthumously.

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CBS Journalist Bob Simon Remembered For 'Unbelievable' Career

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:53

Rachel Martin talks with longtime CBS producer Harry Radliffe about Bob Simon's work and legacy. The journalist died Wednesday night in a car accident at the age of 73.

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Federal Judge Orders Alabama Official To Hand Out Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:47

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore ordered officials to ignore higher court rulings and not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, sparking a battle between the state and federal judiciary.

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Like Yelp For Labor Rights: This App Rates How Restaurants Treat Workers

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:45

Want to know if your favorite restaurant pays its servers a living wage? An app encourages diners to ask before they dig in.

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Report: Despite Bans, Pregnant Prisoners Still Shackled During Birth

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:28

Across the country, it's common practice to handcuff a pregnant prisoner to her hospital bed while she gives birth.

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Police-Involved Shooting In Washington Sparks Protest

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:19

A police shooting of a homeless man in Pasco, Wash., is under investigation. Officers shot the man at a busy intersection after he was reportedly throwing rocks at cars. It was the town's fourth fatal police shooting in the past six months.

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Low Oil Prices Great For Consumers, Less So For Investors

NPR News - Thu, 2015-02-12 12:19

Much of the oil industry is gathered in Houston this week for an annual conference that serves as a deal-making forum for producers large and small. Deals may be harder to reach this year because there is so much uncertainty about the price of oil.

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