National News

PODCAST: Got jobs?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 03:00

Airing on Friday, May 8, 2015: There's fresh-out-the-oven jobs number today. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added 223,000 new jobs in April. And the employment rate hit a seven year low at 5.4 percent. Next, we check in with our partner at the BBC on the re-election of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Lastly, we look at the increasing impact smartphones have on the police force. 

Conservatives Pull Off A Surprisingly Big Win In The U.K.

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 02:40

Prime Minister David Cameron will keep his seat and will likely score a majority once all the votes are counted. After his loss, Ed Miliband is expected to resign as the leader of the Labour Party.

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New police monitoring app offers direct line to ACLU

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 02:00

A new app from the ACLU of California promises to allow anyone to record video of officers and have it automatically uploaded to the agency's server. 

The app also offers a function to alert other app users nearby if there's an incident with police that someone believes requires more witnesses. 

The ACLU of California launched the mobile app for Apple and Android phones last week. The group says it has so far been downloaded 40,000 times, more than a similar app from New York's ACLU, which has been available for several years.

Peter Bibring, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of California, says the app's relative popularity has to do with high profile police use-of-force incidents in recent months that have been caught on phone cameras.

 "We've seen...incidents where officers took a cellphone and deleted video, and so this provides some measure of protection against that," he says. 

Bibring says this ACLU app isn't the first of its kind, but it's been tweaked to be more specifically geared towards documenting incidents of misconduct. The app allows for longer video recordings than previous versions. It also has a library of information about citizens' rights in documenting police officers in public places. Bibring says the ACLU gets questions regularly about what those rights are. 

"It's not a brand new trend, but it's absolutely a growing trend," says Jocelyn Simonson, who teaches law at NYU, and has research that will be published in the California Law Review in early 2016 that looks at the growing trend of citizens' oversight over police in public places. 

"Part of what we're seeing is a change in the recognition that filming police officers is an important thing," Simonson says. 

But the ACLU's app may be going in the wrong direction, says Christine Cole, executive director of the Crime & Justice Institute at the Boston-based group Community Resources for Justice, a non-partisan think-tank that focuses on social justice issues. 

"This tool actually exacerbates the divide and makes it feel like us versus them," Cole says. Nevertheless, she says, police and communities must both learn to deal with increased scrutiny on camera. 

 

A preview of the eurozone meeting on Monday

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 02:00

The seemingly endless Greek debt crisis lurches towards another crunch moment on Monday. Eurozone finance ministers will decide whether to release around $8 billion in bailout money to the government in Athens .

The ministers and Greece’s other creditors insist that before Athens gets any more cash, it must toe the line on austerity. But the Greek government is digging in and refusing to impose the spending cuts and reforms that have been demanded.

The Greek finance minister claims he can meet a big debt repayment next week with or without the bailout cash. But a payment five times bigger falls due on the 20th July. If Greece hasn’t reached agreement with its creditors by then, that really could bring this interminable crisis to a climax.

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more. 

In the Great Lakes State, Flint pays a high price for water

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 02:00

The plight of the bankrupt city of Flint, Michigan has long stood as the poster child for post-industrial job loss and blight in the U.S.

On top of all Flint’s struggles, providing clean drinking water has become one the biggest problem facing the struggling city.

U.L. Brown has seen a lot of changes since he moved to Flint from Arkansas back in 1965.  One thing he’d never seen however was his drinking water change color.

On the kitchen table in front of him set several gallon jugs. One is spring water bought in a store, the other two come from his tap and have slight shades of brown and green.

"This is the water that I buy,” Brown said, pointing to a jug of clear water. 

“This is the water that comes from our faucet.  You wouldn't want a drink of that water, you wouldn't want your kids to drink that water."

Like many residents in Flint Brown’s been told by the city that the water is safe for drinking.  Still, he claims it just doesn't taste like fresh water.

For decades Flint bought its water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DPSW), which draws from Lake Huron. Last year Flint’s 30-year contract with Detroit ended, and the rates went way up according to Flint’s Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose.

“Using round numbers, the cost of purchasing water from Detroit, was somewhere around a $1 million per month,” Ambrose said.

For a city facing a crippling budget deficit, a million-dollar water bill was too much to swallow. So, the city switched to its backup source, the Flint River.

Shortly after the switch last summer,  the city was forced to send out two boil advisories for high levels of E. coli and other bacteria.  Ambrose says measures have since been take to insure the water is safe.

"Is the water so unsafe that it is a total disservice to our citizens? Our answer is, 'no.'"

But, with the average house paying $150 per month for water, many residents feel they deserve better.

Pastor Alfred Harris represents the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, a citizens group urging the city to go back on Detroit water, until the new 80-mile Karegnondi pipeline to Lake Huron is complete next year.

"We're paying exorbitant fees for water, that's really not safe,” Harris said.

“I believe the health of the people should be everyone's main concern. The health of the people no matter what it costs.”

Flint emerged from 41 months of state receivership last week. And with the new pipeline, the city will have an opportunity for both fresh water and a fresh start.

Kitchen appliances are back in fashion

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 02:00

Mother’s Day is coming up. People scrambling to grab a gift often head straight to the small appliances section. But those appliances aren't just for moms. People in general are cooking more at home, they’re entertaining, they’re devouring cookbooks and food blogs. Kitchen electrics make up a $7 billion industry. But the products are a lot different than they used to be. Except, of course, when they’re not. Confused?

Let’s start with coffee. Because in the world of small appliances, the coffee maker is king. Mary Rodgers, marketing director for Cuisinart, says her company just launched a new coffee/espresso maker.  It’s elaborate; it has a milk tank, a frothing wand, a steam control dial. Retail price? $600.

At the same time, simpler coffee makers like the French press are making a comeback, thanks to coffee shops. But it’s not just coffee makers. Small appliances now either do five things at once, or one simple thing, like something your grandmother used.

Debra Mednick, a home industry analyst with The NPD Group, says it’s part of a back-to-basics movement. To a lot of home cooks, she says, what’s old is new again. Sorry, not old… retro.

“We’re seeing products that are very traditional, or that go way back, that don’t necessarily have innovation,” Mednick says.

Like the slow cooker. Or KitchenAid’s stand mixer, which has barely changed since the 50’s.

“We are seeing evidence of products that have become popular that actually require some work,” she says.

Take meat grinders. Mednick says people today want control over their ingredients, they want to know where their food comes from. Beth Robinson, public relations manager for KitchenAid, says people want to be creative and have an easier time in the kitchen.

Toast is easy, right? Not with artisanal bread. So KitchenAid this year launched a $500 toaster with longer slots to fit those oddly shaped slices. Robinson says people will pay, especially if it’s pretty, “or if they want some really great functionality, they will spend $500 for a toaster.”

Now that the microwave isn’t taking up all the counter space, there’s room for that powerful new pulverizer, formerly known as the blender.

 

2 Ambassadors Killed In Pakistani Army Helicopter Crash

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 01:10

Pakistan's military says ambassadors of the Philippines and Norway were killed in helicopter crash along with two pilots.

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Whole Foods Tries To Shake 'Whole Paycheck' Rep With Cheaper Spinoff

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 01:04

Whole Foods hopes to attract millennials to the new chain. The company says the yet-to-be-named stores will "feature a modern streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection."

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Toasters for Mother's Day, and beyond

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 01:00
$7 billion

 

This is the size of the kitchen electrics industry. With Mother's Day right around the corner, people rushing to grab a last-minute gift will often head to the kitchen appliance section in their local mall. But those appliances aren’t just for mom. People, in general, are using new products, buying classic ones, devouring cookbooks and browsing food blogs. This is part of a bigger trend of Americans cooking at home more often. 

 

233,000

 

That's how many jobs the U.S. economy added in the month of April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. That number is right in line with most economists' estimates, according to Jay Bryson at Wells Fargo Securities. The employment rate is even rosier, at 5.4 percent, a seven-year low.

 

$3.6 billion

 

This is how much Whole Foods reported in earnings in its second quarter. The retail chain is sometimes mockingly labeled "Whole Paycheck," says food analyst Darren Seifer, due to the expensive food items it offers. Now the grocery store is planning a spinoff that's "aimed at millennials," says a company rep. The new sister chain will be more affordable and more accessible for younger consumers wishing to buy organic. 

 

$100

 

This is how much nail salon owners charge each new employee for his/her job, according to the New York Times. In this investigative report, manicurists, mostly immigrants, are routinely exploited by their employers. In addition, they also often work long hours and endure abuse, according to the article.

 

$8 billion

 

On Monday, the Eurozone Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is deciding whether to release this amount in bailout funds to Greece. Greece's creditors have made their demands clear: before Athens receives any more cash, the government must toe the line on austerity. But the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says this plan would push the country further in debt.   

Mother's Day follows the DIY movement

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-08 01:00
$7 billion

This is the size of the kitchen electrics industry. With Mother's Day right around the corner, people rushing to grab a last-minute gift will often head to the kitchen appliance section in their local mall. But those appliances aren’t just for mom. People, in general, are using new products, buying classic ones, devouring cookbooks and browsing food blogs. This is actually part of the bigger trend showing that people are cooking at home more. 

233,000

That's how many jobs the U.S. economy added in the month of April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. That number is right in line with most economists' estimates, according to Jay Bryson at Wells Fargo Securities. The employment rate is even rosier, at 5.4 percent, a seven-year low.

$3.6 billion

This is how much reported earnings Whole Foods has in its second quarter. The retail chain is sometimes mockingly labeled "Whole Paycheck," says food analyst Darren Seifer, due to the expensive food items it offers. Now the grocery store is planning a spinoff that's "aimed at millennials," says the company representative. The new sister chain will be more affordable and more accessible for younger consumers wishing to buy organic. 

$100

This is how much nail salon owners charge each new employee for his/her job, according to the New York Times. In this investigative report, manicurists, mostly immigrants, are routinely exploited by their employers. In addition, they also often work long hours and endure abuse, according to the article.

$8 billion

On Monday, the Eurozone Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is deciding whether to release this amount in bailout funds to Greece. Greece's creditors have made their demands clear: before Athens receives any more cash, the government must toe the line on austerity. But the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says this plan would push the country further in debt.   

What Eye Contact — and Dogs — Can Teach Us About Civility In Politics

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 01:00

Don't look at me! In Minnesota, lawmakers are banned from making eye contact during debate. The idea is it leads to more civility. But does it? And what can animal science teach us about it?

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The Unlikely Stars Of Americans' Favorite Video Games

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:41

More than a third of Americans play video games three or more hours a week. Part of the appeal is the richly developed characters in the games.

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Cancer Spawns A Construction Boom In Cleveland

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:39

The famed Cleveland Clinic is building a new cancer center right around the corner from a competing cancer hospital. Both institutions are confident there will be plenty of patients.

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Once Philip Morris Workers, Now They Clamp Down On Uruguay's Smokers

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:38

The men worked at the tobacco company for years. But after they were laid off, the only jobs they could find were as anti-smoking inspectors for the government. They do their new job with gusto.

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17 Months Before Election Day, One Campaign Aims For $100 Million

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-08 00:37

The lofty target for the superPAC of not-quite-a-candidate Jeb Bush is one more sign of the cash gusher — and legal gray areas — opened up by recent campaign finance decisions.

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Being A Loyal Auto Insurance Customer Can Cost You

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 23:51

Businesses often reward their customers with discounts for sticking with them. But some auto insurance companies may raise your premiums if they think you're unlikely to shop for a better rate.

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Landmark Conservation Deal Offers A First Glimpse Of New Wilderness

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 23:49

Once closed to the public, adventure seekers can now explore a wild stretch of New York state's Hudson and Opalescent Rivers.

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Silicon Tally: Anyway, here's Powerball

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-05-07 22:52

It's time for Silicon Tally! How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, we're joined by Lily Hay Newman, lead blogger for Slate's Future Tense.

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Baltimore Police Will Be Target Of Broad Justice Department Inquiry

NPR News - Thu, 2015-05-07 18:34

Following the death of Freddie Gray, the city's mayor and Maryland's congressional delegations had asked the federal agency to look for possible discriminatory practices by local law enforcement.

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