National News

On The Trail Of Durian, Southeast Asia's 'Crème Brûlée On A Tree'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 09:39

A young couple got hooked on durians after one life-changing bite in 2009. And after two years of tracking the stinky sweet fruit through Southeast Asia, they've become experts on durian tourism.

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5 Convicted In 2006 Killing Of Famed Russian Journalist

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 09:38

Anna Politkovskaya was known for her coverage of corruption and the war in Chechnya. An earlier trial had resulted in acquittal but a Moscow jury on Tuesday found five men guilty in the murder case.

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Saying It Was Hacked, EBay Urges Users To Change Passwords

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 09:23

EBay says that it hasn't seen any sign of fraudulent activity since the breach was detected "about two weeks ago." It says it stores financial data and customer records in different places.

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How much would it cost us to eliminate the penny?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 09:14

I'll go on the record as saying I personally am in favor of getting rid of the penny. I've got a jarful in my office just collecting dust.

And really over the course of a year how much difference would rounding up or down to the nearest nickel really make, anyway?

As it happens, we have an answer to that question: 

Canada began phasing out its penny at the beginning of last year and a Quebec man kept track of how much he was gaining or losing over a year. Grand total? He was 89 cents ahead after 365 cash transactions.

So there you go: I say get rid of it.

Oregon Voters Approve Local Bans On GMO Crops

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 09:04

Despite heavy spending by agribusiness and potential legal hurdles, voters in two rural Oregon counties approved bans on genetically modified crops on Tuesday.

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City Nixes Move To Outlaw Bullying Up To Age 25

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 08:21

The city council of Carson City had given unanimous initial approval of a bill making it a misdemeanor crime to bully anyone from kindergarten age up to 25 years old.

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In Primary Races, Republicans Fight Back Tea Party

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 08:10

Six states held primaries on Tuesday, and the results were good for the GOP establishment. Host Michel Martin learns more about the results from NPR Politics Editor Charles Mahtesian.

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Does It 'Suck To Be A Fat Girl'?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 08:08

A recent episode of FX show Louie raised some controversial questions about women, weight and body image. Did the episode miss the mark? Our panel of writers and bloggers weigh in.

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Are India's Elections A Wake Up Call For The Diaspora?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 08:07

An overwhelming win for India's conservative opposition party could profoundly change the direction of the world's largest democracy. But what do Indian Americans think?

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Nigerians Fear 'Things Are Falling Apart Right Before Their Eyes'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 08:07

Five weeks after hundreds of Nigerian school girls were abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram, bomb blasts have hit two cities. Journalist Chika Oduah gives an update on the volatile situation.

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The 1,000-Year-Old Schism That Pope Francis Seeks To Heal

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:52

The Catholic and Orthodox churches split in 1054. In the Holy Land this week, the pope and Orthodox leaders will meet to try to start restoring unity. But not everyone is eager for reconciliation.

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Your coffee cup probably isn't recyclable… yet

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:45

Fancy drinks—your lattes, mochas and the like—have been getting fancier cups lately. Double-walled paper, compostable, recycled... you name it. As a result, the paper cup industry is on the rise, and it’s edging out the old go-to in to-go cups, polystyrene, usually known as styrofoam.

At an International Paper factory in Kenton, Ohio, 16-ounce coffee cups fly through tubes along the ceiling and land in neat stacks. The paper giant plans to spend over $60 million to expand its plant floor in central Ohio and add 125 jobs by mid-2015.

“It’s very exciting, we’re in a growth business right now, there is increased demand for our products and there has been for a number of years running,” says Michael Lenihan, director of sales for food services at IP.

The buzzword: sustainability.

“Right now, it seems like the consumer is saying, 'We want sustainably-sourced products that are made from renewable resources',” Lenihan says.

The interest in renewable resources has been bad news for foam products: lately some big names like McDonald's and Jamba Juice have tossed polystyrene cups and gone to paper, under pressure from environmental groups. In 2013, New York City banned polystyrene food packaging.

Meanwhile, demand for paper cup stock has risen to fill the gap. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, production for domestic use of cup stock rose 16 percent in the last five years. Containerboard production is also growing due to the increasing popularity of online shopping and the associated shipping. Good old-fashioned paper and newspaper have taken a hit, but International Paper is making up for it in other areas.

International Paper’s various products have a lot of green labels: The company works with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative to use certified sustainable forests for some products, and they produce compostable EcoTainer cups and 10 percent post-consumer recycled cups. All that could make you feel vaguely good about your double macchiato, to go.

But foam—the kind you’d probably know as styrofoam (which is actually a brand name trademarked to Dow, not a generic product name)—is also trying to get on that green wagon.

“Most of this is really a perception issue,” says Michael Westerfield, the head of recycling for Dart, a major foam cup producer. Polystyrene foam is known for being hard to dispose of. But Westerfield says foam is mostly air, so it actually takes less energy than paper to produce and ship. And it can be recycled in some places; Dart even runs a few recycling plants itself.

“There’s no doubt that foam has environmental attributes that are very favorable when compared to paper,” Westerfield argues. Dart recently acquired Solo, which makes paper, plastic and foam cups, and Westerfield says the company is working on recycling solutions in all areas.

How to sort through all this potential garbage? Product safety company UL is one of several companies that do independent sustainability analyses for companies, making its own business out of sorting through green claims.

“Some of these debates, like paper versus plastic or paper versus styrofoam always somewhat amuse me,” says Scot Case, director of markets development for UL Environment. He says foam has well-known issues, but paper has hidden costs—it does take a lot of water and energy to make paper. So when you look at the whole life cycle, says Case, the answer is: bring your own cup.

“A reusable mug, a reusable glass tends to trump either of those options,” Case says, even accounting for the water and energy used to manufacture and wash the reusable cup. 

With both foam and paper, there's also the matter of where all those billions of cups end up. Over at Rumpke Recycling in Dayton, marketing director David Schwendeman points at a giant pile of bottles, cans, paper—birds are picking through for food.

“We’re a middleman,” he says. “We don’t have a magical black box to take things and make ‘em into something.”

To recycle a product he needs to be able to sell it to someone, and a lot of paper cups are coated in plastic or contaminated with liquid residue. In most (but not all) U.S. Cities, they are no more recyclable than foam. In addition, compostable cups generally have to be composted in an industrial composting facility; unless you live in a city that does pick-up for a composting facility, your compostable cup is probably headed to a landfill, where it may never actually break down.

A promise by Starbucks to make all of its cups recyclable in Starbucks stores by 2015 has been delayed; Starbucks acknowledges on its website that it has “struggled to implement this single solution.”

So your coffee cup might seem greener than the next disposable thing, but here at Rumpke Recycling, it’s just clogging up the system.

“It’s probably a percentage... that end up in the mix,” says David Schwendeman, “but there’s also a percentage that end up in the landfill.”

When Doctors Play This Game, You Get Better Medical Care

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:44

Who doesn't like a contest, especially if it lets you prove that you're smarter than your peers? When doctors played a game that tests their knowledge, patients' blood pressure control improved.

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Obama: People 'Will Be Held Accountable' For Veterans Affairs Problems

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:25

Anybody found to have manipulated Veterans Affairs records "will be held accountable," President Obama said Wednesday. He also defended Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.

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Putting public radio on the map

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:17
Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 02:14 Dan Abendschein

A map of public radio stations that had been given licenses as of 1951.

Where did your public-radio station come from? If it acquired a license in the 1940s or 1950s, there's a good chance it was started for instructional purposes. Many stations created educational programming that was used by students in the classroom. 

As reporter Adriene Hill chronicles in her story on the roots of public radio, over-the-air education fizzled out after television came along.

The map above shows nearly 100 radio stations that had been granted a broadcasting license as of 1951. They include universities, school boards, trade schools and even a public library. The stations were required to have an educational purpose. It could be anything from teaching broadcasting,  to creating programs to be used in the classroom (some stations broadcast only during school hours), to simply playing classical music (apparently it had more to teach us than other types of music).

The red markers show stations that are now defunct; the green ones  are still broadcasting; and yellow is for stations broadcasting under different call letters.

By clicking on a marker, you can read a little more about the station's history

 In general, most stations that were run by school boards are gone. Many of the stations that were licensed to universities have become NPR member stations, and are only nominally affiliated with the institution that was granted the license.

At the college level,  there are still some student-run stations and some are still creating instructional material.  There are even a few high-school radio stations that have survived.

We know there's a lot more public-radio history that we've missed, so please fill us in.  We'd also love to hear from you if your station is not on the map, but was founded for over-the-air instruction.

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Bewildered By Bilderberg

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:13

By creating a Google Alert for a mysterious meeting of the world's powerbrokers, we came to know that there is a lot we don't know.

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PODCAST: A cautious Fed

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-05-21 07:08

Chairman of the New York Fed William Dudley has spoken out saying his Federal Reserve needs to be especially careful about real estate at the dicey moment when interest rates start going up as a result of their stimulus cutbacks. To help us with this, we turn to Philip Swagel an economist at the University of Maryland who used to work at the Fed and the White House.

And from our broadcast in London this week, we visit London's Borough Market, where's there's been food for sale for an even one-thousand years.

Plus, some good news for London this week: the British capital came top in Price Waterhouse Cooper's sixth annual league table of international cities. London was rated the world's foremost "economic powerhouse and centre for culture, education and innovation." The accolade should go some way to soothe this city's wounded pride: London recently lost its number one slot in the prestigious Global Financial Centre Index.

Japanese School Says It Won't Be Kinki Anymore

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 06:29

Osaka's Kinki University is named for its home region in south-central Japan. But school officials say the name is distracting to foreigners.

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GM Announces Its 30th Recall Of The Year Thus Far

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 06:14

A day after recalling 2.42 million vehicles, General Motors says it's recalling an additional 218,000 Chevrolet model cars. All told, the company has recalled nearly 14 million vehicles this year.

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Medicare May Be Overpaying Hospitals For Patients Who Don't Stay Long

NPR News - Wed, 2014-05-21 05:29

Medicare told doctors to admit patients expected to stay in the hospital through two midnights or longer. Then Medicare said it wouldn't enforce the rules, adding to the controversy.

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