National News

How The Islamic State Wages Its Propaganda War

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 09:47

From videos to Internet magazines, the extremist group has successfully recruited around the world. One of its recent claims: Enslaving women as a prize of war is sanctioned by the Quran.

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In Bolivia, Where A Child's Place Is In The Market And The Mines

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 09:33

Other countries have moved away from child labor, but not Bolivia, which has lowered the legal working age to as young as 10. Advocates say the move brings the law in line with harsh reality.

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A Glimmer Of Hope In The Fight Against Hunger In America

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 08:41

The number of Americans struggling to afford food has remained stuck near recession-era highs. But a recent Gallup poll suggests things may be starting to get back on track for some.

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For Dyslexics, A Font And A Dictionary That Are Meant To Help

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 08:16

A designer who has dyslexia has created a font to avoid confusion and add clarity. And two English researchers are making a dictionary that favors meaning over the alphabet.

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On Armistice Day In U.K., A Sea Of Red Poppies Remembers The Fallen

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 08:14

The first of 888,246 ceramic poppies — one for each soldier from Britain and its colonies who died — was planted Aug. 5 at the Tower of London; the last today. The site has had 4 million visitors.

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The Burden Of Colon Cancer Shifts From Rich To Poor

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 07:40

Rates of colorectal cancer have dropped nation, thanks largely to better screening. But people who don't have access to health care are more likely to miss out on screening, and face increased risk.

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Former Secretary Robert Gates on recruiting veterans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-11-11 07:38

Unemployment rates for veterans, both men and women, who have recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan is still relatively high. But companies like Wal-Mart, Uber, and Starbucks are putting great effort into their recruiting and hiring vets.  

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is no stranger to the military's training programs. Having served as Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, he's now on the Starbucks board.

"There’s transition training that the troops have to go through," Gates says. "More and more employers are actually going on to bases to meet with military people who are facing transition out of the military."

There are many steps the military is taking to help give young people a smooth transition over to the civilian workforce, Gates says, and many employers are being a lot more aggressive in providing guidance for vets, as well.

"I know that the ideas at Starbucks came from a couple of people in the management chain who had been in the military," he says. "I think it’s actually been self-generated often in these companies by young veterans who have been hired and then are telling their own management 'you guys need to get more involved.'"


Putin Puts Shawl On China's First Lady, And Censors Leap

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 07:08

When Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to place a shawl over the shoulders of Peng Liyuan, the wife of China's President Xi Jinping, he set off alarm bells.

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How 'The Hot Zone' Got It Wrong And Other Tales Of Ebola's History

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 07:04

Do people with Ebola actually cry tears of blood? What happens if the U.S. Army thinks you might have Ebola? We catch up with science writer David Quammen to discuss truths and myths about the virus.

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Pay Attention To The Health Insurance Calendar To Avoid Surprises

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 06:48

Consumers can sign up for health insurance through the online marketplaces anytime from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. But waiting can trigger medical bills and the health law's penalties.

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In China, Dreaded Process Of Getting A Visa To The U.S. May Get Easier

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 06:45

The first impression most Chinese have of the U.S. government comes when they apply for a visa. A deal announced this week between the U.S. and China may spare people from having to apply every year.

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Sterilization Operations In India Reportedly Kill 9 Women

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 05:56

More than 80 surgeries were performed on women at a government-run camp Saturday; the first death was reported Monday morning.

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Anthony Bourdain And Carla Hill Turbo-Charge D.C.'s Hunger Fighters

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 05:46

Celebrity chefs haven't just made us aware of the latest noshing fashions; they have also spread the word about anti-hunger initiatives like those at the innovative DC Central Kitchen.

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Trouble Swallowing Pills? Try The 'Pop Bottle' Or The 'Lean Forward'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 05:28

One-third of people have trouble downing pills, and many skip taking medications as a result. A researcher in Germany says that two techniques help. Really? We tested them ourselves to find out.

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China and U.S. reach agreement on high tech products

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-11-11 05:00

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced a "breakthrough" in negotiations with China over high tech products Monday night. The agreement could herald the first major tariff-cutting agreement at the World Trade Organization in 17 years, covering an estimated $1 trillion of products ranging from MRI machines to video game consoles. 

The negotiations concerned an update to the Information Technology Agreement, or ITA, signed in the late 1990s, under which countries agreed to cut tariffs to zero for a list of high-tech products. 

"For high tech products, every country wished to be a leader in that," says Wing Thye Woo, professor of economics at UC Davis and president of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia. "So when high tech products started appearing quickly, some countries started putting tariffs on them.

Woo says the ITA didn't follow the model of other free trade agreements: cut tariffs for the entire sector, with certain products singled out as exceptions. 

"You do not say mackerel is not free trade but salmon is free trade," says Woo. "All fish is free trade, unless we specify certain fish."

"This one is the other way around: The following are free trade items, and what is not mentioned is not free trade," he says.

Signatories of the ITA agreed to cut tariffs only for products that fit into certain categories such as computers and data-storage media. 

China signed on to this agreement when it joined the WTO in 2001. "It had to," says Woo. "But then the number of high-tech products kind of exploded."

Efforts to increase the list stalled.

"China was the main opposition on this issue of broadening the Information Technology agreement," says Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. China had, for instance, maintained tariffs of up to 25 percent to protect its burgeoning semiconductor industry.

The agreement with the United States could un-stick negotiations with the other 54 economies involved in the ITA negotiations. "The presumption is those other countries will agree because they have been negotiating pretty much alongside the United States," say Hufbauer.

"And I think it foreshadows more agreements on other issues between the US and China," he says. "It’s really a new day."

Quiz: Hidden cameras in the classroom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-11-11 04:40

Harvard researchers secretly photographed more than 2,000 students to study classroom behavior last spring. News reports and other Harvard faculty have called out the study’s questionable ethics. Two years ago Harvard administrators reportedly read the emails of resident deans – you guessed it – in secret.

Harvard researchers studied student behavior with secret cameras. What did they uncover?

You can watch a presentation by one of the photo researchers on YouTube.

U.S. And China Move Toward Ending Tariffs On High-Tech Gear

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 04:10

The existing tariff system, which adds as much as 25 percent to the cost of American high-tech exports, covers more than $4 trillion in annual trade, the White House says.

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Q&A: Lamar Alexander On Education In The New Congress

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 03:18

The veteran Tennessean is poised to take a leading role on education in the new Congress.

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Politics And A Food Fight Are Stalling A Major U.S.-Asia Trade Deal

NPR News - Tue, 2014-11-11 03:03

Supporters of expanded trade with Asian nations hoped this week would bring completion of a major deal, but U.S. and Japanese negotiators — and Obama and congressional Republicans — still don't agree.

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PODCAST: Powerful and profitable art

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-11-11 03:00

First up, in China, what's called "Single's Day" is drawing to a close. It's a new-ish celebration that is to single people what Mother's Day is to mother's. But it's now morphed into the day people go online to buy things, often with their office computer. China's Alibaba said sales broke through $8 billion so far today in an orgy of commerce that, if you do the math, dwarfs America's so-called Black Friday. And tech products could soon travel across borders with less baggage as a result of the first major cut in international tariffs in 17 years, and it affects a range of technology products from MRI medical scanners to video games. More on that. Plus, it's Veterans Day in the U.S. and this summer marked 100 years since the outbreak of hostilities that became what was then called The Great War. To commemorate Britain's lost lives, an artist has staged a powerful installation at the Tower of London. It's really popular, and lucrative for veterans' charities.