National News

For Militants, Founding Of Caliphate Is Win In Rhetoric, Not Reality

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 12:09

On the first night of Ramadan, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria announced it would change its name to, simply, the Islamic State, declaring that the land it had captured in Syria and Iraq constituted a new caliphate. The group's leader is trying to use this new narrative to wrest control of the global jihad from al-Qaida.

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To Combat Ebola Outbreak, Health Officials Call For 'Drastic' Action

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 12:09

The World Health Organization is wrapping up an emergency meeting with officials in West Africa about the Ebola virus. Local health ministries are saying they don't have enough funds to help contain what is now the largest and deadliest Ebola outbreak on record.

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Immigration Debate Splits California City In Two

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 12:09

Immigration protests are expected to continue for some time in Murrieta, Calif. After protesters turned away buses of undocumented immigrants bound for a processing center, the town now finds itself at the center of the political debate on immigration.

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Hiring Looks Good Now, But Wage Growth Lags

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 12:03

The improving labor market in June did not translate into significant pay hikes. Wages were just 2 percent higher compared with a year ago. Consumer prices have been rising at a 2.1 percent rate.

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What education was like in 1776

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-03 10:56

On-the-job training ruled. Learning was all about apprenticeships back then, according to Paula Fass, a history professor at UC- Berkeley. Blacksmiths, brewers, printers and other tradesmen learned their crafts on the job.  Women learned most of  their skills--spinning, cooking, sewing, at home.  "In our school-centered obsession we forget that learning used to take place in a much more broad-based way,"says Fass.

Only white men were formally educated. While some white men never received much formal education, almost nobody else received any.  Girls were sometimes educated, but they didn’t go to college. Blacks were mostly forbidden to learn to read and write, and Native Americans were not part of the colonial education system.  They relied mainly on oral histories to pass down lessons and traditions.

Classroom, what classroom? Actual schools were found mainly in cities and large towns. For most other people, education meant a tutor teaching a small group of people in someone's home or a common building.  And the school year was more like a school season: usually about 13 weeks, says USC historian Carole Shammas.  That meant that there was almost no such thing as a professional teacher.  

Books were few and far between. There were no public libraries in the country in 1776.  The biggest book collections were at colleges.  Books were so expensive that getting a large enough collection to provide a serious education was one of the biggest barriers to founding a college.  When Harvard was founded in 1636, it had a collection of about 1,000 books, which was considered an enormous amount at the time, according to Paula Fass.

Writing joined the other R’s. Teaching students to read was a lot easier than teaching writing, and writing was not necessary in a lot of professions.  So many students learned just to read and do math.  By 1776, teaching writing was becoming much more common.

No papers, pens, or pencils.  Most students worked on slates--mini-chalkboards that allowed students to erase their work and keep at it until they got it right.  Paper was expensive, so it was not commonly used, which also meant pens were not often used.  Pencils had not yet been invented.

Surrounded By Digital Distractions, We Can't Even Stop To Think

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 10:31

A study on the wandering mind had a simple request: Just think. But many participants couldn't sit still for very long, and they even were willing to shock themselves to avoid doing nothing.

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Chinese Leader's Seoul Visit Seen As Snub To North Korea

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 10:23

Xi Jinping's first visit to the Korean Peninsula finds him in Seoul, not Pyongyang, in a possible sign of strained Sino-North Korean ties.

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Federal Highway Program Could Run Out Of Money Next Month

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:50

The Highway Trust Fund has been short billions for years. Without more money, the White House says construction delays will put people out of work, but Congress can't agree on a fix.

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Before Facebook, there was Tuskegee and Milgram

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:40

It turns out the Facebook mood experiment was just the tip of an unsettling-sounding  iceberg. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company’s research division has been running all kinds of studies on us— hundreds of them—with very little oversight. Here's a quick recap of why universities don't do things that way:

For decades the U.S. government ran a study on African-American sharecroppers, to see what happened when you didn’t treat syphillis.  

"You could argue: 'Yes, but how interesting! We can see what the effects of untreated syphillis are," says Columbia University bio-ethicist Robert Klitzman

When the story came out in the early 1970s, people didn’t see things that way.  "As a society, we've decided that we can't turn people into human guinea pigs," says Klitzman.

By then, there were also second thoughts about a couple of social psychology’s greatest hits. Like the one where Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram got people to flip a switch they thought was going to kill someone.

In 1974, Congress passed the National Research Act, which led to the development of regulations for any research done by an institution receiving federal money.

The regulations boiled down to three things:  First, minimize risks to study participants.  Second, disclose those risks, so people know what they're getting into. And third, get an internal group at your institution has to sign off. That group is an Institutional Review Board, or IRB.

However, the existence of IRBs doesn't guarantee that social science experiments get the most careful review, says Jesse Goldner, a St. Louis University law professor and co-author of a book on human-subjects research rules and ethics.

"IRBs are kind of overwhelmed," he says. "There’s a little bit of a tendnecy to say, 'Gosh, you know, there’s so much of this biomedical research where there’s, quote, real risks of people dying, or becoming disabled.' You know, 'How much attention should we be giving to this little stuff?'"  

The "little stuff" being the kinds of emotional risks that got so much attention with Facebook's mood study.

Israeli And Palestinian Parents: 'We Need To Stop This Madness'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:39

The deaths of three Israeli teenagers have sparked anger in the region. Two parents who lost children in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict explain why they are now calling for reconciliation.

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New Jobs Numbers: Has Economic Recovery Reached A Tipping Point?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:39

The economy added 288,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate dropped to 6.1 percent. NPR's Marilyn Geewax and The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy discuss the latest jobs report.

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Purling In Anger: Arrest Breaks Up 'Knit-In' At Vermont Utility

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:29

Five police cars responded to perhaps the most civil of all disobediences: five women knitting at a gas company's headquarters.

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The Late Walter Dean Myers Wrote In The Language Of Teens

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:07

Myers' young adult novels talked about the tough realities of urban life in language that made teens stop and listen. He won almost every award for YA literature during the course of his career.

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