National News

Years After Their Own Protests, Eyes Of Anaheim Are On Ferguson

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 12:33

Two years ago in Anaheim, Calif., events unfolded not unlike those recently in Ferguson, Mo. In Anaheim then, two Latino men were shot by police, and civic anger turned into a few nights of sometimes-violent demonstrations. Now, Anaheim's police and government are trying to work more closely with the Latino community, and a vote in November could make some major changes.

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Report Finds No Proof That Delays In Care Caused Veterans' Deaths

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 12:25

But the report from the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs did find other systemwide problems that the department said it will fix.

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Libya's Crisis: A Shattered Airport, Two Parliaments, Many Factions

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 12:23

Libya keeps spiraling downward as Islamist fighters slug it out with forces loyal to a rogue general in the capital and elsewhere.

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How Ebola Kills You: It's Not The Virus

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 12:07

Ebola has a nasty reputation for damaging the body, especially its blood vessels. But when you look at the nitty-gritty details of what happens after a person is infected, a surprising fact surfaces.

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Families search for affordable water in Detroit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-08-26 11:52

Starting Tuesday, Detroit will resume shutting off people's water if they’re behind on their bills.

For the last month, the city has put a moratorium on those shut-offs, which have been internationally criticized as inhumane. That pause gave people a chance to get on payment plans with the water department. On Saturday, thousands of Detroiters lugged their kids, strollers and grandparents out to a sign-up fair at the Cobo Center downtown. 

Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells went down to check it out:

Want to pay your bill? Get in line, buddy.

The line is huge. You can walk 30, maybe 40, seconds and not even get halfway to the front.

There are kids sprawled out on the floor, people shifting sleeping babies from arm to arm – but no seniors, impressively. They’re allowed to cut the outside line, where they’re brought inside the fair…to wait some more.

At least there are chairs inside. Lots and lots of chairs, filled with hundreds of people waiting for their number to be called by an official-looking women with a bullhorn.  

Luna Simpson, 42, says she’s been waiting here for five hours with her grandsons, CJ and Joshua. If there was a cute kid contest at some point during this event, CJ, age 4, and Joshua, age 6, would sweep. You can’t beat matching "Iron Man 3" T-shirts.

“I told them we were going to come here, get on the budget plan so we could save some money," Simpson says. “So we could do some extra stuff with the extra money.”

Extra money for fun stuff? Not really.

“More bills!” laughs Simpson. “School clothes, gas."

The Simpson family would ideally like to let Josh play basketball this year, which, of course, costs more money.

“I wish I could go to basketball!” CJ opines.

Is it possible when he's older, maybe?

“Yes,” he says. “I’m only 4, and Joshua is only 6.”

The magic number to keep your water on: 10 percent

After their number is finally called up, the Simpson family is sent to one of the dozens of tables where water department reps are helping people work out payment plans.

“And you’re showing a balance of $399.74,” the attendant tells Simpson. “So, you would be able to go onto a payment arrangement for $39.97. You want to go onto a payment arrangement today?”

“Yes!” says Simpson.

That’s a 10 percent down payment on what she owes. It's what the water department is now requiring you pay up front, within the next two weeks, before you can get on a payment plan.

Once you’re on a plan, your water won’t be turned off — so long as you stay current on your bill.

You also have 24 months to pay off the rest of what you owe, on top of your monthly bill.

Don’t have the down payment? Uh oh.

If this all sounds more flexible than what the department used to offer, that’s because it is.  

After all the protests and UN criticism against the city turning off people’s water, city officials are bending over backwards to assure residents that they are on their side.

What if you can’t get your hands on that 10 percent payment in the next couple of weeks?

That's Vivian Logan's story. She came here because she owes $3,000 on her water bill, and she says she doesn't have the $300 she needs to get on a payment plan.

"That’s the problem," Logan says. "And even if I could get it in 14 days, I’m not going to be able to pay $300 possibly a month, on top of my other bills after that."

Now, there are nonprofits and aid groups who want to help people like Logan.

The Detroit Water Fund, for example, has at least half a dozen booths at the fair. To qualify for their help, you need to:

  1. Make that first 10 percent down payment, and
  2. Fall within 150 percent of the poverty line, which calculates to about $35,775 for a family of four.

There’s also help from the United Way, but their income restrictions are a little lower: You need to make under 120 percent of the federal poverty line.

Logan says she’s just a little higher than that cut off, and that she doesn't have money for the down payment required to get aid from the Detroit Water Fund. She has no idea what to do now.

“Who knows? You tell me,” Logan says. “You tell me who I can refer to, so I can get some help.”

For many, the day ends in relief.

"What we’ve found is that people have been able to find that assistance," says Alexis Wiley, Mayor Mike Duggan’s chief of staff. "They’ve been able to go to their friends, to their church, family members."

Simpson is one of those fortunate people.

She looks hugely relieved as she makes that first down payment, smiling while she tells the boys what they can afford now that they don’t have to worry about losing their water: gas, clothes and, maybe, even some basketball. 

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh Recovering After Car Crash

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 11:41

Freeh, who issued a scorching report in the Penn State University sex abuse scandal, apparently drove his SUV off the road in Vermont.

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Weathering the Ebola epidemic in Liberia

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-08-26 11:15

BBC correspondent Jonathan Paye-Layleh has been living in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, for the last 20 years. He has been reporting on the Ebola epidemic from one of the hardest-hit areas: a slum called West Point, home to between 50,000 and 100,000 people. It's currently under quarantine, while the rest of Monrovia is under a strict curfew.

"Following the imposition of this restriction, people are stuck there," he said. "Even those who had just gone there to spend time with relatives are all stopped from leaving."

As if the fear of Ebola wasn't enough, Paye-Layleh says, this year's rainy season in Liberia has caused cholera infections and outbreaks of other diseases, and many people won't go to the hospital to get treated out of fear that they might be mistakenly diagnosed with Ebola.

"Anybody developing high fever should be presumed Ebola-positive until the contrary is proven, as opposed to saying 'if you have a fever, come to the hospital, maybe it is not Ebola,'" he said. "As a result of that–and knowing that eventually if they are tested positive for Ebola they will be taken into isolation... separated from their families–many people who are suffering from other illnesses just remain home to die."

Although commerce continues in Liberia for pure essentials like food, Paye-Layleh says the epidemic has taken a toll on Liberians' social lives as well. His job as a journalist, he says, has been made difficult because person-to-person contact is diminishing as a result of the outbreak.

"Our tradition of meeting people, greeting people has now been starved because of Ebola. We are not skeptical to get around friends, to get around other relatives, because you don't know who has come in contact with whom. It's going to make things a bit difficult."

Listen to the full conversation in the audio player above.

Amazon buys Twitch for $970 million

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-08-26 11:06

Watching other people play video games might not sound exciting to everyone. But for gamers, it’s a whole different point of view – and a big market. Amazon wants a slice of that, so they have decided to purchase the video game start-up Twitch for $970 million.

"So, Twitch is this website, or some would call it a platform, that streams video game content and live game play to about 55 million people every month," says Ben Johnson, host of Marketplace Tech.

Why would Amazon pay almost a billion dollars for a start-up that allows people to watch others play "Pokémon"? Johnson says the numbers explain it all.

"Twitch had 43 percent of the live video streaming traffic by volume in a given week," says Johnson. "That’s above ESPN’s website, MLB.com, CNN."

Last year during a championship for the game "League of Legends", 32 million people were reportedly watching live.

"That’s more than the audience for the finales of Breaking Bad, 24 and The Sopranos combined," adds Johnson.

Watch live video from Nightblue3 on www.twitch.tv

Just one of many Twitch channels showing live footage of "League of Legends."

ISIS Condo Project, Others Rethink Their Names

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 10:30

The ISIS Downtown condo project in Florida has changed its name, as did a mobile-payment company. Others are distancing themselves from the ideology of the group now called the Islamic State.

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HealthCare.gov Recruits Leader Of Successful Connecticut Effort

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 09:40

The question will be if Kevin Counihan can replicate his success in Connecticut with the federal health exchange, which was plagued with problems. The goal: A smoother Year Two for Obamacare.

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Flight Diverted When Passengers Feud Over Reclining Seat

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 09:28

One man used a $22 device that jammed a fellow passenger's seat. The ensuing fight ended when the woman threw a cup of water at the man and the airline diverted the flight.

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Jewish Center Targeted During 2008 Mumbai Attacks Reopens

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 08:19

The attack killed more than 160 people across the city, including six at the Chabad center. Rabbis from across Asia attended the reopening of the Nariman House in historic south Mumbai.

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Burger King Announces Merger With Tim Hortons, Move To Canada

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 07:47

As part of the $11 billion deal, Burger King will transfer its headquarters to Ontario and cut its tax bill considerably.

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Health Organizations Call For A Ban On E-Cigarettes Indoors

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 07:45

Both the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association say vapors from electronic cigarettes pose a health threat to bystanders, and that the devices should be regulated like tobacco.

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Federal Officials Order Medicaid To Cover Autism Services

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 07:01

Advocates for people with autism applauded the move, but some states are concerned about the costs of covering a wide range of therapy for children with autism.

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Why Americans are less satisfied with their cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-08-26 07:00

People’s satisfaction with their vehicles has fallen to a five year low, according to a survey out on Tuesday from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. That’s despite the fact that car sales are basically back to pre-recession levels.

The survey doesn’t pin down what caused the drop in satisfaction - though, one culprit that has been mentioned is incentives. As in: People have come to expect big ones.

Robert Passikoff is president of Brand Keys, a consultancy that looks at brand loyalty. He says he’s old enough to remember the first time Chrysler did a cash-back offer.

“Who would have thought that I could buy a car and they’d give me money back?” he says. “Now I’ll give you money if you can find a car that’s not giving you money back at some point.”

Today’s expectations, though, don’t match the current reality. Analyst Michelle Krebs with AutoTrader.com says post-recession automakers have been more careful not to overproduce vehicles. That means they don’t have to slap fat incentives on them.

This affects car buyers now entering the market, especially if it’s been years since they last shopped for a car.

They’re used to these big incentives and they just aren’t there,” says Krebs.

Still, Krebs says the number one complaint she hears isn’t incentives, but electronics.

“They’re not intuitive, they don’t operate the way people think they should,” she says. “So there’s a great amount of dissatisfaction around those.”

The survey also found car owners who’d had a vehicle recalled rated that vehicle 6 percent lower than those who hadn't.

Hamas, Israel Reach Long-Term Cease-Fire Deal

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 06:26

The deal was brokered in Egypt after almost two months of intense fighting that has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and injured almost 11,000.

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Leaders Of Russia, Ukraine Meet To Discuss Conflict

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 04:10

The hope is that the talks between Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko lead to a cease-fire between Ukraine and separatists in the eastern part of the country.

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Is Google's Free Software A Good Deal For Educators?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-08-26 04:03

The tech giant launches new tools for teachers.

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