National News

Mudslide Volunteers: 'We're Going In Whether You Let Us Or Not'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 09:40

Search efforts continue in the tiny community that was devastated on Saturday. Officials warn that the death toll, now at 25, is likely to go up substantially.

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Congress Approves Ukraine Aid, Sanctions On Russia

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 09:20

The House and Senate have passed versions of a bill to grant $1 billion in loan guarantees to Kiev and impose economic penalties on Moscow for Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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Marathon Training Lowers Heart Disease Risk In Middle-Aged Men

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 08:52

Marathons are increasingly popular with people who will never cross the finish line in under three hours. But do recreational runners benefit from the intense training? Researchers in Boston say yes.

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James Schlesinger, Who Held Cabinet Posts And Led CIA For 17 Weeks, Dies

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 08:44

Beginning with Nixon, he served three presidents in Cabinet-level positions and was regarded as a "hawkish and erudite" thinker on economics and national security. Schlesinger was 85.

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After Blocking Twitter, Turkey Moves To Stop YouTube

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 08:12

Angered by leaks to social media, the Turkish government tries to block access to the video-sharing site just days after attempting to shut down Turkish tweets.

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Review Done For Gov. Christie's Office Absolves Him In Bridge Scandal

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 08:06

A law firm hired by the Republican governor's office says its investigation found no evidence Christie knew beforehand about N.J. lane closures that may have been aimed at hurting a Democratic mayor.

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Can The Meat Industry Help Protect Wildlife? Some Say Yes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 08:06

One environmental group argues that to save wildlife, we should replace the meat in our diets with plants. But others counter that it's not so simple: Many livestock producers help conserve wildlife.

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PODCAST: College football to get unions?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-27 07:37

The government revised upward its assessment of the economy; gross domestic product for October to December increased from a 2.4 percent annualized rate of growth to 2.6 percent. We consult Diane Swonk, chief finacial officer at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, for some perspective.

And, in his ruling, Peter Ohr, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board wrote that there is abundant evidence student athletes are treated as employees. He cited the long hours (over 40 per week) spent training, wrote that athletes are paid, in the form of scholarships, and noted that Northwestern rakes in big bucks and prestige when the football team wins.

Even with a large research university and seaside real estate, it's hard for Santa Cruz to compete with Silicon Valley's pull on engineers and entrepreneurs. Every morning, more than 20,000 people leave Santa Cruz county and commute to work in the Valley. Sick of the commute, Santa Cruz tries own tech hub.

German Man To Return Paintings From Cache Of Stolen Nazi Art

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 07:24

A lawyer for Cornelius Gurlitt, whose father was an art dealer in the Third Reich, says his client will begin with returning a valuable Matisse to the descendants of the Jewish owner.

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Obama Lays Out His Plan To Have Telecoms Store Call Data

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 07:07

The president is asking Congress to work with him on a plan to have communications companies hold "metadata." He wants government investigators to have access to the information with court approval.

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Latinos still reluctant to sign up for Obamacare

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-27 06:54

Visits to healthcare.gov are surging in these last days before the Affordable Care Act enrollment deadline. But government officials are worried that they aren’t getting enough of the right people to sign up. Latinos in particular are sorely needed to balance insurance pools. They tend to be younger and healthier than the general population. But states with the largest concentration of Latinos - like California - have been struggling to win them over.

“The news gives a lot of information, [but] it confuses people. They don’t know what is the truth,” says Larissa Bobadilla, a health outreach worker in Los Angeles.

Many Latinos are afraid that if they sign up for health insurance, their undocumented family members will get discovered, and deported. Others aren't convinced it's worth the money. 

People like Bobadilla are out trying convince them that it's okay. 

“They trust me,” she says.

They trust her because she's been on the streets of LA for 16 years working as a promotora, a health educator. Now the kids of people she helped years ago are coming to her to find out what's really going on with Obamacare.

This is exactly what California officials want - trusted members of the Latino community explaining health plans to potential customers in Spanish. 

The trouble is, the state is short thousands of these insurance counselors. 

Political wrangling at the federal level is partly to blame. That delayed the roll out of programs for training counselors. And that left no time to approve a Spanish training curriculum or a Spanish certification test. Bobadilla was lucky. She had enough English to get by. 

“I don't know, I feeling so nervous, feeling so-- frustration,” she says

But other promotoras in her community didn't pass the test, and they can't help anybody until they do. 

This shortage of people power isn't just limited to the streets. 

The state insurance exchange, Covered California, underestimated how many counselors it would need to staff its call centers. Many people who asked to speak to someone in Spanish got transferred to English-speaking agents. When there are too many calls, the system hangs up. 

Similar problems have plagued the website. 

“I visited it, with my brother’s help, and we tried to enroll. But it didn’t work,” says Maria Aurelia, a teacher from San Pablo, east of San Francisco. “I would much rather sign up – face to face. There’s more communication.”

These disasters in customer service are one of the main reasons Latino enrollment has been so far below expectations. 

So far, just 8 percent of people who enrolled in a health plan through California’s exchange by the end of last year speak Spanish as their first language. The state had been aiming for something closer to the representation of Spanish speakers in the state population — nearly 30 percent. (The federal government has not released demographic data on enrollees.)

California officials are worried about this shortfall because the economics of the new health care system depend on Latinos. Because Latinos tend to be younger and healthier than the population as whole, their premiums subsidize care for older, sicker people, which helps keep costs down for everyone else. That’s why officials have been been scrambling in recent weeks to hire more Spanish speaking customer service agents and make improvements to the system. 

But even that will do nothing to overcome another serious obstacle: Cost. Many plans run two, three hundred dollars a month. Sometimes more.

“Good price? Hundred dollars a month,” says construction worker Jose Rodriguez.

Maria Aurelia also says she would prefer a monthly payment of one hundred dollars for her family.

Research shows that only a quarter of Latinos are willing to pay more than $100 a month for health insurance, according to Hispanic market research group Santiago Solutions. Carlos Santiago, the group’s founder, says many Latino families have never had insurance, making it difficult to see the value in it at such a high cost.

“You kind of go wait a minute, am I really going to use this right away?” he says. “How much do I need that security right now, this year when I have all these other realities in my life.” 

The deadline to sign up is March 31 - though people who encounter technical problems with the website can get an extra two weeks to finish their application.

NLRB rules Northwestern football players can unionize

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-27 06:44

In his ruling, Peter Ohr, the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board wrote that there is abundant evidence student athletes are treated as employees. He cited the long hours (over 40 per week) spent training, wrote that athletes are paid, in the form of scholarships, and noted that Northwestern rakes in big bucks and prestige when the football team wins.

Ohr also highlighted the control that coaches have over athletes. Among the examples included in the ruling, are a number of restrictions placed on football players. 

  • Only upperclassmen are permitted to live off campus, and even then, they are required to submit a lease to their coach for his approval.
  • Athletes have to diclose detailed information to coaches about what they drive.
  • Travel policies restrict players from leaving campus in the 48 hours before finals.
  • Finally, they must abide by a social media policy that restricts what they can post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In fact, Ohr writes, "the players are prohibited from denying a coach's 'friend' request."

A Booming Economy Doesn't Save Children From Malnutrition

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 06:41

It seems to make sense that economic growth automatically leads to better nutrition for children, and better health. But an analysis of 36 countries finds that's not true.

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'Do It For Denmark' Video Urges Danes To Go All The Way

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 06:39

Need a break from the day's serious news? A humorous campaign from a travel company is urging couples to boost Denmark's population growth by, well, getting busy.

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Why Taiwanese Students Stormed The Government

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 05:53

A trade deal allowing Chinese investment in more service sectors was the provocation. But the real issue is Taiwan's sense that it's losing its identity and being overwhelmed by its powerful neighbor.

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Weekly Jobless Claims Drop, GDP Growth Revised Up Slightly

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 05:21

The news about both last quarter and last week is positive. Fewer people signed up for unemployment insurance last week, and consumer spending was stronger than previously thought in late 2013.

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Sentenced To Death 46 Years Ago, Japanese Man Is Now Free

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 04:55

Iwao Hakamada, now 78, is thought to have been awaiting execution longer than anyone else in the world. But newly analyzed DNA evidence has led to an order that he be retried.

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Planes Turn Back, But Ships Continue Search For Flight 370

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 03:35

The Malaysia Airlines jet vanished nearly three weeks ago, and weather is hindering the search. A new satellite image shows some 300 objects in the Indian Ocean. But no jet debris has been recovered.

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'I'm A Great Admirer,' Obama Tells Pope Francis

NPR News - Thu, 2014-03-27 02:45

The president and the pope met for the first time Thursday at the Vatican. While the two men share views on some issues, the church has some problems with the president's health care program.

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Filling in the gaps that Gross Domestic Product skips

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-03-27 02:09

The U.S. gets its latest reading on the economy today. Analysts are expecting growth in GDP to slow for the first three months of the year due -- in part -- to bad weather. Many people consider Gross Domestic Product the final word on how the economy is doing. But does the measure of money changing hands really tell us how well we are doing?

Kristen Lewis, co-director of Measure of America, joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to discuss her organization's alternative measure and how various localities and ethnic groups are faring.  Click on the audio player above to hear more. 

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