National News

Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo Dead At 82

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 16:21

Mario Cuomo, who served as governor of New York from 1983 to 1994 and who was considered for a time a leading Democratic presidential option, died Thursday at the age of 82, news sources report.

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Tesla Battery Factory Could Be A Boon For Nevada

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 14:02

Tesla Motors recently chose Nevada for its massive battery factory in exchange for one of the biggest incentives packages in recent history.

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A 40-Day Vegan Fast, Then At Last, A January Christmas Feast

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 13:43

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church observes Christmas on Jan. 7, and the 40 days prior are observed as a vegan fast. That means no dairy and no meat until the traditional dish of doro wat on Christmas Day.

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Florida's Gay Marriage Advocates Fighting A Battle They Thought They'd Won

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Gay and lesbian couples in Florida are waiting to hear whether Jan. 6 will be the day they can get start getting married. It's a battle gay marriage advocates thought they'd already won, but continues to be mired in legal wrangling.

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Net Neutrality Debate Forces FCC Chairman Into The Spotlight

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Tom Wheeler is a former cable TV lobbyist and the president's appointee as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

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Turbulent Season Puts The NFL On Notice

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Charges of abuse against high profile players and the leagues response to those charges angered many. We look at how the league is working to restore its tarnished brand.

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Brazilian President Begins New Term With Tough Road Ahead

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro talks with Brazil Institute's Paulo Sotero about Dilma Rousseff. Her first term was defined by protests, World Cup backlash, an economic crisis and Petrobras corruption scandal.

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These Froggies Went A Courtin' And Gave Birth To Live Tadpoles

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Who needs eggs? Scientists have discovered an unusual frog species that gives birth to live tadpoles.

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Painful Virus Sweeps Central America, Gains A Toehold In U.S.

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

While some Americans worried that Ebola would spread around the U.S., a new mosquito-borne virus flew right in. It sickened more than 2,000 Americans and nearly a million people across the Caribbean.

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Military's Preschool Program Considered A National Model

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

There are two million children of U.S. military servicemen and women. And by many accounts the military has long done a good job of helping with their education, especially in preschool.

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Four UNC-Chapel Hill Employees Out In Wake Of Cheating Scandal

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro talks with Dan Kane of the Raleigh News and Observer about the faculty firings at UNC-Chapel Hill following a massive cheating scandal involving athletes taking fake courses and passing in order to maintain eligibility.

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New Year Brings New Batch Of Laws On Chickens, Recycling And Consent

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

In California, a law defines when "yes" means "yes" in an effort to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses. And in New York, residents are now required to recycle old electronics.

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More States Raise Minimum Wage, But Debate Continues

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

The minimum wage goes up in more than 20 states as the new year begins. President Obama wants the federal minimum to go up even more, but some affected industries say it will put a chill on hiring.

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A Restaurant That Serves Up A Side Of Social Goals

NPR News - Thu, 2015-01-01 12:21

Burned out from her high-tech job, Srirupa Dasgupta opened a restaurant and catering service that hires primarily refugees. On the menu: a mix of cuisines from South Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

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As funding drops, scientists turn to the crowd

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-01 11:54

Susan Nagel from the University of Missouri studies the health impacts of chemicals used in fracking. Last year, Nagel found remnants of fracking chemicals in Colorado streams near locations of previous fracking spills.

“This was an initial study, and we found this kind of strong association,” Nagel says. But she wanted to go farther and confirm her results with more testing.

Her grant application with the National Institutes of Health, however, sat in limbo for months, so she turned to crowdfunding. Nagel set up a project page on the site

“We spent a lot of time on the actual site, developing a video, developing the content to be short but explicit, to be understandable to a broad audience,” Nagel says.

It worked.

Nagel raised $25,000 for a follow-up study. Research like hers is the latest destination for online donors looking to back projects they like. Brian Meece of the crowdfunder RocketHub says science that strikes an emotional chord does better on his site. “Research for animals, research for the environment ... things that are curious, things that are quirky, things that are fun” all do well, Meece says.

It helps if your page has captivating pictures of sharks or jaguars on it, or if the research is about a topic donors care about. With federal funding for science flat or falling behind inflation in recent years, more scientists are trying out crowdfunding.

The crowd has launched hundreds of small-scale science projects, but there are potential problems. When the federal government decides whether to fund a grant, panels of experts peer-review each application. The National Science Foundation’s Kevin Crowston says it’s not like that when the crowd is the judge.

“You really need an expert to be able to look at that and say 'well, this really is new and interesting' or 'in fact, this is like something that’s already been done,'” Crowston says.

Jai Ranganathan, a co-founder of the crowdfunding web site, says his site vets projects to ensure the people behind them aren't, well, totally crazy. “Basically we’re trying to screen out cranks – that you’re not writing in crayon,” Ranganathan says.

Crowdfunding can fill in some gaps in federal funding, Ranganathan says. But in the end, it’s no match for the biggest crowd of all – taxpayers.

Ringing in the new year with a pay raise

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-01 11:07

For millions of workers around the country, the new year will mean a bigger paycheck. More than 20 states and the District of Columbia are raising their minimum wages in 2015.

In Florida, the increase is modest at just 12 cents an hour. In South Dakota, workers will earn an additional $1.25 per hour. What will that mean for the economy?

“I really don’t think it’s going to make a difference,” says Kedra Jackson, who works part-time at a McDonald’s in Baltimore, where minimum-wage workers will see a 75 cent raise. “A lot of employers are going to cut hours.”

But economists like Elise Gould say far more workers will benefit than lose out. “Families at the bottom really need to spend their money,” she says. “When they spend their money, it increases demand for goods and services, and that really stimulates the economy.”

Champagne wishes and hangover-cure dreams

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-01 11:01

Hangovers have existed as long as overconsumption of alcohol (that is to say, as long as alcohol has existed). But even though a new magical concoction, technique or pill comes along every few years to offer a cure, the task may be futile.



Anou, the accessible Etsy of Morocco

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-01 11:00

Etsy is great for the small-time crafts-person to reach new audiences. But there one problem: If you're among the millions of artisans around the world with limited reading and writing ability, it won't help much.

Anou, a new website launched in Morocco, helps rural artisans cut out middlemen. And you don't have to read or write to use it. 

Morocco is famous for its artisan crafts, like rugs, lamps, jewelry and mosaics.

A few years ago, Anou founder Dan Driscoll and some colleagues were working as Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco and noticed that many artisans were living in poverty. Some make only around $100 a month. The Anou site addresses the technological hurdle of posting to the web — but that's just the first step in a much bigger process of becoming actual business owners.

Inside the CIA's crystal ball for 2015

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-01 11:00

In 2000, the Central Intelligence Agency released a 70-page report predicting what the world would be like in 2015.

A few of the predictions:

  • The world population will grow by more than 1 billion, to 7.2 billion.

That's right on the nose.

  • Europe will not achieve fully the dreams of parity with the U.S. as a shaper of the global economic system.

Man, was that prescient as the Euro Zone faces slow growth, and another recession.

  • Populations in many African countries will fall because of aids, famine and continuing economy and political turmoil.

They didn't get everything right. The continent's population has grown by about 300 million.

You can find a more complete list of the predictions on Business Insider's website.

Semi-rosy outlook for housing market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-01-01 09:50

Real-estate analysts predict 2015 will be better for the housing market than 2014. How much better?

A 10 percent increase in home sales would be a "realistic expectation," according to Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. "Frankly, if we just continued what we saw in the second half of 2014, we’d be up 10 percent." But, that's only if interest rates don’t shoot up too much, and unemployment continues to decline. 

How about prices? What’ll happen to them in 2015?

“We are predicting that the price of the average existing single family home will come in around 2.8 percent year-on-year for 2015, ” says Stephanie Karol, a U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight. In other words, prices will increase around 2.8 percent this year, compared to more than 3 percent in 2014.

So, it’s all sweetness and light for the housing market in the coming year?

Not quite. A housing Grinch looms in the background. “Just put a green face on me,” says Anthony Sanders teaches real estate finance at George Mason University.  He says a big shadow is looming over the 2015 housing market: wage growth. Wages have only increased by around 2 percent, but Sanders says we need 5 or 6 percent wage growth for people to have enough money to buy a house.

The jobs being created in this economic recovery don’t pay enough to support buying a home, he says. “Mostly service industry.... You know, wait staff. And those are not people that are traditional homeowners.”

Until wages pick up, Sanders says, we’ll have to rely on foreign investors who still see U.S. housing as a bargain.