National News

When Corrupt Chinese Officials Flee, The U.S. Is A Top Destination

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:36

The U.S. is appealing because of its high standard of living and lack of an extradition treaty with China. The U.S. is also reluctant to arrest suspects unless provided with solid information.

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Facial Recognition: An Eventuality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:29

Targeted advertising is everywhere these day. Be it your Facebook profile, your browser history or anything else online, all of your data is being collected for one purpose: to sell you more stuff.

Now there’s a new frontier in tracking technology: Facial recognition software. Companies want to be able to track your identity and keep note of the things you regularly consumer a near-constant basis.

“Connecting a person’s past behavior and data to their current location is kind of a holy grail for companies when it comes to marketing,” says Ben Johnson, host of Marketplace Tech. “Imagine you go into a store and there’s a camera on the shelf of items that you’re looking at, and that camera records the emotional reaction you have to the items you’re looking at.”

Facial recognition could make its way into many public spaces.  However, privacy advocates are hoping that it will be opt-in only so that those who do not wish to make their identity open to the public have those wishes respected. “A lot of companies don’t want this,” Johnson says. “This is where these two kinds of organizations really part ways and are really having problems coming to an agreement on some sort of rules of the road.”

Still, most experts agree that this is an eventuality. “We have to think about the fact that no matter what, technology companies are going to build this stuff, they’re going to start using this stuff,” Johnson says. “They’re going to ask for forgiveness, not permission."

To hear the whole conversation, click the audio player above.

In Baltimore, Rec Centers Provide So Much More Than Just Fun

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:29

Several dozen rec centers offer aftercare and summer camp for children in Baltimore's poorest neighborhoods. But they also give the kids the family stability and structure that so many of them lack.

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Just In Time For Summer: National Parks Hiking Entrance Fees

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:24

The fees will be used for park enhancements to make up for Federal budget cuts.

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Rewriting the recipe for healthy fast food

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:23

Fast food restaurants see the writing on the wall. The U.S. consumer is obsessed with food. Local. All-natural. Organic. Think of all that food porn on Instagram. Or all those food documentaries on Netflix. So Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway and others have been changing up their menus. They're removing artificial ingredients. Chipotle Mexican Grill just completed the process of getting rid of most genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs.

But are these moves making the food any more, you know, better for you?

“Let’s see how this liquid gold tastes,” says nutritionist Terry Perry, looking down at the cheese on a 760-calorie Nachos BellGrande from Taco Bell.

Perry works with food stamp recipients on making good food choices in Spokane County, Washington. We've taken her out to lunch to get a nutritionist's take on some of these strategic moves.

Perry bites into a chip. “It's not bad – I mean it's not terrible. It's very salty.”

By this time next year, the cheese on the Nachos BellGrande might be a little less yellow. But that doesn't address what Perry sees as the real problems: the high sodium, saturated fat or extra carbs.

“So you have to look at it for over all,” Perry says. “One of the biggest concerns about fast food is that it's highly processed and that it's usually too big of a serving,” says Perry.

At Chipotle, she's much more impressed. But the salad she orders is approximately 630 calories — with the help of a large dollop of guacamole. That's about twice the calorie count of her usual lunch.

Nutritionist Terry Perry eats a bowl from Chipotle. 

Jessica Robinson

“[Removing GMOs] doesn’t really change the calorie level,” says Perry. “It doesn’t change the nutrient level, how many vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrate, how much fat is in it.”

And restaurant consultant Aaron Allen says health isn't the point. “Fresh” is, or the appearance of it.

" 'Fresh' has become the most bankable word in food service," Allen says. “And 'processed' has become a four letter word."

Allen says Chipotle is the “fresh” poster child, helped out by the move to take out GMOs. It's part of a category of so-called “fast casual” restaurants that are taking a cause-conscious approach to food. Starbucks and Panera Bread are others. Their image as the anti-McDonald's has attracted the young dining public, and it's paying off in their stock prices.

Now enter brands like Taco Bell and Subway, who don't want to be left in the artificially colored cornchip dust. They can only do so much — quick and cheap depends on processed foods.

“So, they found some quick wins they can gain in terms of public perception by making some very easy steps, like using real pepper instead of an artificial flavor that tastes like pepper,” says Allen.

So, to answer the question: As you might have guessed, no, many of these changes don't make the food any better for you. But even Chipotle acknowledges this.

“If you’re looking at our decision to move to non-GMO ingredients through the lens of being a nutritionist — and as to whether that change makes food any healthier or more nutritious in any way — then skepticism is probably warranted,” says Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold. “But that's not why we made the change.”

Arnold cites potential environmental impacts from cultivation of genetically engineered crops.

“While there's no science to show that GMO ingredients are more or less healthful, there are other implications associated with GMOs," he says.

Many researchers dispute those environmental impacts as well. But here's one more implication that's hard to ignore: more and more, consumers just don't like GMOs.

Iraqi Soldiers, Generals Shift The Blame For Battlefield Defeats

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 12:07

A soldier blames poor leadership for the recent loss of Ramadi. A pair of generals blame everything from corruption to a lack of training and weapons. Will this ever be an effective fighting force?

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Across The South, A Push To Banish Confederate Flag From State Buildings

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 11:55

From South Carolina to Mississippi, there have been calls to remove the flag that many people call divisive. Businesses, too, are getting in on the act.

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The Mural That Made A Photographer Stop In His Tracks

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 11:13

When Pulitzer winner Patrick Farrell saw the painting on a Port-au-Prince wall, he waited for the right moment, then started snapping.

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My First Job: Animal Chef

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-06-23 11:10

At the zoo, pandas typically don’t go on juice cleanses, and hippopotamuses don’t adhere to a GMO-free diet. But they do need someone to prepare food for them. That’s where Hannah Hayes stepped in. Her first job was a zoo chef.

Hayes recalls walking into the zoo kitchen every morning and reading the recipes listed on a whiteboard that wrapped around the room. Each animal has its own specific diet to follow.

"I’d make fruit salad for parrots, I would create pine cones covered in peanut butter with chocolate chips or whatever the bears wanted to eat. I often would go into the freezer to get out dead baby mice for the snakes," Hayes says.

Being a chef for a variety of animals can be a pretty daunting task, but she also found it very rewarding.

"By the end of it, I think I felt pretty empowered about what I could accomplish. It made me feel empowered in the kitchen essentially, that I could create things," Hayes says.

Best Frenemies: Japan, Korea Mark 50th Anniversary Despite Rivalry

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 10:41

A half-century ago, Japan and South Korea normalized diplomatic ties. But to celebrate, both are having to put aside longstanding bitterness that's never completely gone away.

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Senate Votes To Advance The White House Trade Agenda

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 09:41

The 60-37 vote clears away procedural hurdles for legislation that would allow the president to negotiate trade pacts and then put them on a so-called fast track through Congress.

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Solar-Powered Plane Is Primed To Leave Japan For Hawaii

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 09:31

The Solar Impulse, an aircraft that generates power solely from the sun's energy, will leave on a trip of some 115 hours between Nagoya, Japan, and Hawaii.

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Actor Dick Van Patten Dies At 86

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 09:24

The cause was complications from diabetes, his publicist said in a statement. Van Patten is perhaps best known for the role of Tom Bradford on ABC's Eight Is Enough.

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Obama Administration To Shift Ransom-For-Hostages Rules

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 09:08

While the Obama administration maintains it will not negotiate with terrorists, it will allow families to negotiate on their own for release of their children taken hostage.

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NASA Flummoxed By Dwarf Planet's Bright Spots, 'Pyramid-Shaped Peak'

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 08:44

The view captured by the Dawn spacecraft this month "shows even more small spots in the crater than were previously visible," NASA says.

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Man Who Created The Pink Plastic Lawn Flamingo Dies

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 08:32

Donald Featherstone modeled the lawn ornament after images he saw in National Geographic. "Things I did made people happy, and that's what life is all about," he said in 2006.

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Pot For Parasites? Pygmy Men Smoke Out Intestinal Worms

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 08:25

When it comes to reefer madness, nobody can top a group of traditional hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin. About 70 percent of men smoke cannabis. The drug could be doing more than getting them high.

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Republicans Don't Have A Plan Yet To Replace Obamacare Subsidies

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 08:23

If the Supreme Court finds health care subsidies unconstitutional, conservatives will boast a win over Obamacare. But Republicans face a challenge — many of their constituents are getting subsidies.

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Medical Marijuana Is Often Less Potent Than Advertised

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 08:05

The pot brownie you bought to help your sleeping disorder may have a lot less active ingredient than promised, a study finds. And a review of other studies finds scant evidence of medical benefits.

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In The Japanese Tea Ceremony, Politics Are Served With Every Cup

NPR News - Tue, 2015-06-23 07:57

The ritual drinking of this ancient beverage — often thought of as the epitome of Japanese restraint and formality — has long been entwined with issues of power and national identity.

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