National News

U.S. Military Forces Targeted Extremist Network In Somalia

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 21:10

A day after an Islamic-extremist group launched an attack in Somalia, U.S. military forces have struck back. A Pentagon spokesman says the results of the operation are being assessed.

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Can tablets really help kids learn to read?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-01 19:15

Can tablets and apps help children learn to read? It feels like a simple question, but the answer is complicated.

For starters, technology is moving fast, and there hasn't been time for solid scientific consensus to develop on whether and how devices like tablets should be used to help children improve their reading skills.

That hasn't stopped school systems around the country from buying in, and we heard this week about tablets in schools from Marketplace's LearningCurve reporter Adriene Hill.

But beyond schools and teachers, what about parents who want their children to have top notch reading skills in a changing environment?

Jason Boog is the author of "Born Reading: Bringing Up Bookworms in a Digital Age." Boog says that there is some agreement in the scientific community on a few important points.

Click the media player above to hear Jason Boog in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.

One thing neuroscientists seem to agree that kids shouldn't be playing with tablets and smartphones until they're over two years of age. Another is that whatever apps or technology we use to try and improve our kids' reading skills, there is no real alternative for a real human being reading with and to a child. 

 

NATO To Create New 'Spearhead' Force For Eastern Europe

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 18:49

NATO leaders are expected this week to set up a rapid-response force to defend against potential Russian aggression.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory's dark lost chapter

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-01 12:44

If you remember Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Willy Wonka, and of course our hero, Charlie Bucket from "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," then I have some good news for you.

No, not a golden ticket. A lost chapter of Roald Dahl's classic book has been published by the English paper The Guardian.

In the lost chapter, the children go into the chocolate factory's vanilla fudge room and its rather violent cutting and pounding room. Not all the kids make it out.

You can also catch glimpses of some early character sketches and Dahl's trademark dark humor.

The paper says it was deemed too wild and subversive 50 years ago.

Analyst: Response To Russian Incursion Will Be 'Defining Moment' For NATO

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 12:07

President Obama heads to Europe this week to take part in the NATO summit. The alliance is weighing how to respond to Russia's incursions into Ukraine.

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Economic Impact Of Ebola Crisis Spreads Across Africa

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 12:07

Ebola has exposed weaknesses in Africa's health networks and a failure to work together to arrest the spread of the virus. The "not our problem" response is taking an economic toll on the continent.

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40 Years After 'Working,' A View From The Driver's Seat

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 12:07

Four decades after Studs Terkel's famous collection of oral histories was published, Radio Diaries revives one of his interviews with Helen Moog, an Ohio taxi driver and grandmother of five.

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The story of a 1957 Chevy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-01 11:55

Tracing the parentage of a 1957 Chevy is not easy, but for Earl Swift, author of Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream, it became an obsession.

"I met Tommy Arney in 1993 when he was running a go-go bar in Virginia," says Swift.

Swift was, at the time, a newspaper reporter for the Virginian Pilot. He went to Arney’s go-go bar to interview him about a court battle he was in. Swift says he walked out of that interview very impressed with Arney.

"He had an intelligent humor that stayed with me for years afterwards," says Swift.  

He met the 1957 Chevy eleven years later.

"Having driven a succession of beaters in college and throughout my twenties, and wondering often back in those days what the cars had been like when they were new and actually functioned as intended," says Swift. "I decided it would be an interesting newspaper story to find an old car and try to trace it back to everybody who had owned and try to tell a bigger story; something about America or about the region or the state through this one car and this otherwise unconnected fraternity of people who had shared it."

Swift tracks down the thirteen individuals who owned the ’57 Chevy, and uncovers the story of Tommy Arney, the thirteenth owner, whose mission was to rescue the car from ruin. 

Wage growth in the U.S. is stuck in the 70s

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-09-01 11:21

When Jamaad Reed started his job as a cashier at a Walmart near Cincinnati, he made $8.15 an hour. That was two years ago.  Since then, he has seen a couple of raises, which have meant his wage has kept up with inflation — but just barely. As of March of this year, Reed was making $9.05 an hour.

“I'm stuck,” he told me recently. “You know what I'm saying? I feel like I'm stuck in the same spot.”

"Stuck" is a pretty good word to describe wages for most American workers over the last few decades. Not just in the case of lower-wage workers like Reed, but all along most of the income spectrum, except for those at the very very top.

In fact, most American workers have seen little to no growth since the late 1970s, if you adjust for inflation, according to Elise Gould. She's an economist with the Economic Policy Institute and author of a new study that analyzes wage data from census surveys over the last several decades.

That's not to say that individual workers haven't seen gains. But, says Gould, “as productivity has continued to rise, typical workers’ wages simply have not.” 

That’s a very different economic picture from a half century ago. In the first few decades after World War II, as the nation's productivity grew, so did wages. So what happened?

“This is one of the questions that people are arguing about right now,” says Linda Barrington, the executive director of the Institute of Compensation Studies at Cornell University.

Barrington says some economists point to a loss of worker bargaining power, meaning workers are less able to claim growing productivity gains in the way they could when labor unions were stronger.

Others blame a shift in business strategy over the years to one that focuses more on shareholder returns, “as opposed to sharing the returns and the gains to all of the employee base,” says Barrington.

Meanwhile, technological advances and globalization have meant there are fewer middle-wage jobs to be had in the U.S. Now, workers who in a previous era might have had relatively well-paying manufacturing or clerical jobs, have to settle for lower-paying jobs in the service sector instead.

Even as economists debate the reasons behind American workers’ stagnating wages—one thing is certain. They don’t just affect individual wallets, but the economy as a whole.

As Barrington points out, “every worker is also a consumer.” And consumers are what drive the modern American economy.

3 Americans Detained In North Korea Urge U.S. To Secure Their Release

NPR News - Mon, 2014-09-01 11:18

The State Department said the men should be released out of humanitarian concern and asked that Kenneth Bae, who has been held for two years, be granted amnesty.

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