National News

The Sounds Of A Murder: News Or Not?

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 03:54

Here's how NPR thought through whether the gunshots that killed two TV journalists should be replayed on the radio and online.

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A Decade After Flood's Devastation, Love Keeps New Orleans Afloat

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 03:50

New Orleans lost much since Hurricane Katrina, and the failed levees that flooded the city. But Gwen Thompkins says the passions that survived the flood kept her city alive too.

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50 Percent Off A College Education? Not Such A Good Deal After All

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 03:28

Why so many private colleges are giving out massive discounts.

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No More Standing By The Spigot: Messaging App Alerts Water Availability

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 03:03

A startup in India — where an aging, ad hoc system limits water availability — is using text messages to let people know when their faucets should work, so they don't waste hours awaiting the deluge.

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For Inca Road Builders, Extreme Terrain Was No Obstacle

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 02:49

A new exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian highlights the engineering prowess of the Inca, whose great road once spanned mountains, deserts and forests in 6 South American countries.

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Egyptian Court Sentences 3 Al-Jazeera Journalists To 3 Years In Prison

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 01:57

Saturday's ruling in Cairo is the latest twist in a long-running trial which was criticized worldwide by press freedom advocates and human rights activists.

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Sam Clovis: I Trust Trump To Go To Washington And Change Things

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 01:14

Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign continues to lead in the polls, and this week Trump hired Sam Clovis to be his national campaign co-chairman. A week ago, Clovis worked for Rick Perry.

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High-Profile Russian Trials Bring International Criticism

NPR News - Sat, 2015-08-29 00:52

The conviction of a Ukrainian filmmaker is one of several cases in Russia that have drawn protests from human-rights groups and Western governments, including the U.S.

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Tropical Storm Erika May Fall Apart Over Hispaniola; Dominica Deaths At 20

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 20:36

The storm caused devastating flooding and landslides on the tiny island early this week, but may pose less of a threat to Florida, according to National Weather Service forecasts.

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Scientist Who Wrote Protest Song About Canada's PM Is Put On Leave

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 16:44

Tony Turner wrote and sang "Harperman," leading a (barefooted) choir through lyrics that ask questions such as "Who squashes all dissent?" and "Who muzzles all the scientists?"

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Worsening Wildfire Seasons Are Taxing The Forest Service

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 14:16

The agency says it's now spending record amounts on fire suppression, and these bills are coming at the expense of its other programs — many of which would help prevent future wildfires.

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NHL Hall-Of-Fame Coach Al Arbour Dies At Age 82

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 14:07

The long-time coach of the New York Islanders won four Stanley Cup championships with the team — after winning four as a player.

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On Wall Street: Not Much Fun, But It Sure Was Interesting

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 14:01

Markets have been seeing some of the biggest stock-price swings in years. And economists say the extreme volatility is starting to weigh down consumer confidence.

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#NPRreads: Middle East Air Quality, Lead Poisoning, And Jell-O

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:03

Around the newsroom and around the world, here's what we're reading this week.

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Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Reunite For War's 50th Anniversary

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:01

Pilots and their families planted a tree at Arlington National Cemetery, and honored comrades who were killed in the war.

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In A Remote Part Of Washington, A Scramble To Save Cattle From Flames

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:01

More than 1,000 square miles of wildfires are burning in the state. In the isolated Okanogan Valley, where power and phone lines have burned, cattle ranchers are doing what they can to spare herds.

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At Instagram, it's no longer hip to be square

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:00

Until now, if you wanted to advertise on Instagram, you were kind of boxed in.

"You needed to receive prior approval from Instagram and have rather lofty budgets in order to be appearing on their platform," says Nate Carter, managing director with eEffective, an ad agency trading desk.

This fall, Instagram is planning to open its app to all advertisers. And that’s one reason the company is changing its format beyond the traditional square box. It wants to be more flexible, in part, so advertisers can repurpose the ads they use on TV.

Already, one of every five pictures and videos posted on Istagram is not square. There are a number of apps designed to get around Instagram’s format.

“People have been trying to game the system already,” says Wally Krantz, an executive creative director at the branding firm Landor.

Legend has it that Instagram uses the square because Kevin Systrom, the company’s founder, used a Holga camera in college that took square photos.

“Traditionally, if you think of Rolleiflex cameras and Hasselblads,” Krantz says, the images were square.

Some are already regretting Instagram's move away from the classic format. Bret Hansen, a creative director with global branding firm siegel+gale, says fiddling with that look could be risky. “By changing it up, they’re kind of diluting their brand image a little bit.”

Still, says Carter, if Instagram manages to bring in more advertisers by dropping its box, it stands to make billions. It's pretty simple, he says,  “it’s no longer hip to be square.”

Weekly Wrap: The stock market, oil and Janet Yellen

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:00

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Nela Richardson from Redfin and the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy. The big topics this week: stock market fluctuations, possible peril in China's economy, a 20-percent jump in oil prices and what is Janet Yellen thinking? 

Refugee smuggling is a big, bad business

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:00

Europe's refugee and migrant crisis appears to be getting worse by the day. In Austria, a truck found full of decomposed bodies is now believed to have held 71 people, including 12 women and children. The police say they were likely refugees from Syria. And an estimated 150 people drowned off the coast of Libya when a boat enroute to Italy sank.

Most of these people would not have even started their journey were it not for the fact that so many people want to get into the people-smuggling business. These shadowy entrepreneurs  create and maintain the routes to Europe's borders and beyond. They are rarely masterminds controlling an entire route. Rather, they mostly make up a network middlemen who charge refugees a toll along the way. The costs add up quickly. Which means that in many cases, only people of a certain means can even afford the attempted trip.

On the Greek island of Lesbos, refugees who survive a harrowing boat ride from Turkey have reason to celebrate.

“We tried two times to come here,” one unnamed refugee says. “The first time they let us come back to Turkey and the second one we succeed.”

She’s still got a long way to go – through Greece, and then on to Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. And at each point, she may have to strike a deal with a different smuggler. Often the middleman trick refugees, by offering teaser rates and then racking up the bill.  

“They start little and then on the way they make you pay more and more,” UN refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch says from the Hungarian border. “If you don’t pay here, you don’t pay there, then you are going to end up like this and like that.”

Often the price of transport varies, depending on the traveler. In Libya, across the Mediterranean from Italy, boat smugglers charge Syrians the most, upwards of a thousand dollars.

“The Libyans consider Syrians the most affluent of all the migrants,” says Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva. “They will be charging top dollar to put them on a boat to Italy, all the way down to, say, a West African from Mali or Togo might be charged 400 Euros.”

 That’s about 450 dollars. But before you board a life-threatening fishing boat ride, you have to get yourself to a North African port. For many, that requires a trip across the Sahara Desert. Patrick Kingsley, migration reporter at the Guardian newspaper says that's when refugees or migrants are particularly vulnerable.

“The way that they pay is by being kidnapped and essentially held for ransom,” Kingsley says. “It’s very common for the smugglers to put a phone to their lips while they are being tortured. And they are forced to call their families, who then have to wire money to the smugglers. It might be one thousand dollars, it might be much more. It just depends on how much they think your family is worth."

Kingsley says a migrant taking an African route to Europe may encounter five stages of smuggler payments.  And the migrant may pay multiple times at every one of those stages. To drivers, militiamen, boat owners and border guards.

I spoke with Kingsley for more than half an hour about the business of smuggling refugees. It was a fascinating conversation. You can hear the entire interview below:

How fear plays a role in our finances

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:53

What was your reaction when you first saw the stock market drop earlier this week? Something like this?

Despite all the advice about playing the long game when it comes to the stock market, the first reaction a lot of us have when we see all that red is fear. David Zald is a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, and it's his job to figure out what fear is and why it makes us do what we do.

"Areas in the brain such as the amygdala and hypothalamus start firing away, and they create multiple things going on at once. A major part of it also is what's going on physically. You know that tension in the stomach? Our eyes will basically go wide so we can take in any information that we need, adrenaline starts pumping. And there is what we refer to as a fight or flight response. But even in situations where there's nothing to run away from, we're still geared up to act in those situations."

 

But how we react to that fear depends on the person. Some seek fear — and can even get addicted to it

"There are very different thresholds for triggering these responses," he says. Where as some people will respond to even very minor provocations with a full-out, 'It's a disaster, it's a catastrophe!" sort of response, there are many others where you have to push it to a really high level before they start to respond to emotionally."

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