National News

Child Detention Centers: A 'Headache' For The Obama Administration

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 08:54

U.S. officials are detaining thousands of immigrant children who tried to cross the U.S.-Mexico border alone. Two journalists discuss conditions at detention centers, and what's driving the migrants.

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Top Malaysian Court Upholds Ruling On Who Can Use 'Allah'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 08:01

A lower court decided last year that only Muslims can use the word to describe God. But the government now says the ruling applied only to the Catholic newspaper that brought the case.

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Christian Woman Escapes Death In Sudan Over Conversion

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 08:01

Meriam Ibrahim, 27, says she was raised an Orthodox Christian after being born to a Muslim father. A court ordered her release Monday, throwing out a death sentence.

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U.S. Court Releases Obama Administration's 'Drone Memo'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 07:19

The memo explains the administration's legal reasoning for launching a drone attack on an American citizen overseas.

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Hollywood's influence on politics

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 07:14

Celebrities endorsing politicians--and, indeed, the idea of politicians becoming celebrities themselves--goes back a lot further than you might think.

"It's always been driven by a mix of obsession and fascination with power, the desire to be seen with the celebrity that is politics," says Timothy Stanley, author of the book "Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between LA and DC Revolutionized American Politics." 

But in the late '20s and early '30s, Stanley says, it was mostly driven by "hard-headed business decisions."

"People do make money out of this connection," he said.

Hollywood has always been able to raise a large amount of money for political campaigns throughout its history -- $13 million in one month during the 2012 Presidential campaign, Stanley says.

These days, however, he argues that Hollywood has had a poisonous impact on politics. A lot of it started with the election of one John F. Kennedy, and his father's ambitions to make one of his children President of the United States.

"When [Joe Kennedy] wants Jack to run for the Presidency, where does he send him to learn charm and star power? He sends him to Hollywood," Stanley said. "And the Kennedys discovered that what it required was being seen with beautiful people, it was going to expensive events, and developing that Camelot glamour."

It's this commitment with charm and star power, Stanley says, that has diluted American politics.

"I always find it sordid that you could drop names and get elected based on the people you're seen with," he said. "It's not healthy for a constitutional republic to have that kind of glamourization of its political leaders."

As Stanley points out below, there's a point where having star power for the sake of having star power doesn't help your case.

Spineless, And Now Homeless: National Zoo Closes Animal Exhibit

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 07:06

Invertebrates make up about 99 percent of all species. But they're no longer being featured at the National Zoo after the exhibit was shuttered due to budget issues.

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Chemical Weapons Watchdog Ships Last Declared Chemicals Out Of Syria

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 07:05

Nine months after the mission started, the last remaining chemicals that had been identified for removal from Syria were loaded on a Danish ship. The OPCW called it a "major landmark."

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Netanyahu Says Israel Has Proof Hamas Is Behind Kidnapping Of Teens

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 05:35

The Israeli prime minister said that while he appreciates help from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, he also wants Abbas to renege on the unity government formed with Hamas.

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Meanstruation: HelloFlo's Mother-Daughter War Is Funny, And Sad

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 05:27

The company's popular new ad for "period starter kits" has lightened the mood on a difficult subject, but NPR's Laurel Dalrymple thinks tween angst is hard enough without petty family battles.

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Egyptian Court Sentences Journalists To Lengthy Prison Terms

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 04:16

Three journalists who work for Al-Jazeera have been sentenced to prison terms — two for seven years and a third for 10 years — by an Egyptian court. The three men were accused of aiding terrorists.

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Kerry Meets With Iraqi Prime Minister In Baghdad Amid ISIS Crisis

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 03:10

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came closer than he has before to joining the chorus of those calling for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down.

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Remembering a Rockefeller and his gift of time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 03:00

 

I was deeply saddened in recent days to learn that the great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller had died. Richard Rockefeller, a physician who practiced for nearly two decades in Portland, Maine, was killed while piloting his light plane. He was 65.  

Richard was a philanthropist and humanitarian whom I had the pleasure to meet during the production of a documentary film I co-produced a couple of years ago. His work with Doctors Without Borders/Medecins San Frantieres has been widely noted.  He was instrumental in establishing the organization in the United States and sat on its board of advisors for 21 years. He spoke passionately about the need to give people in poor parts of the world access to medicine.

My interview with Richard Rockefeller for my doc “Fixing the Future” was about a different kind of community-building. Rockefeller was among those who helped fund the creation of a fascinating initiative in Maine called "Hour Exchange Portland." The exchange is a what is known as a “time bank.” People in the Portland area agree to provide their skills, whatever those skills may be, by the hour. Maybe it’s cutting a lawn. Maybe it’s physical therapy. People who provide their skills via this bank don’t expect money in exchange. What they do expect is to be able to get an hour of someone else’s skill in return. 

There are time banks of one form or another in spots across the country. After my film came out, some volunteers put together a time bank in my own part of New Jersey. Rockefeller explained to me during the filming that an hour earns a person the same “time dollar," no matter what the service.

“Right away, (that’s) a radical departure from the formal economy where different services are worth different things depending on scarcity and supply and demand,” Rockefeller told me. Within the time bank, everybody’s time is equal, so economists, for that reason, often find this “completely foolhardy and incomprehensible,” he said.

Rockefeller also noted with a smile that “fortunately” the system also does not compute for the Internal Revenue Service, which has ruled that time banking involves the swap of what are termed “friendly favors," and are, therefore, non-taxable. 

The best way to understand a system is to try it out. So I did. What I put into the time bank was an hour squirting in and nailing in insulation for a nice Portland woman’s basement. What I got in return was magnificent: an hour-long sailing lesson riding the waves of Maine’s Casco Bay.

With the hard work of volunteers and Dr. Rockefeller’s moral and financial support, Portland has ended up with an extensive time exchange system. Some people without health insurance are even able to swap their skills by the hour for medical treatment from doctors and other health professional who are part of the bank.

What I noticed was that swapping skills is a handy way to bring diverse individuals together. People often talk while they are together giving or taking the labor. They talk about a lot of things, but often they talk about community challenges and opportunities. They even might talk ways to fix those challenges. In this way, Richard Rockefeller should also be remembered as a man who helped build something that was more than a time bank. He also helped build what I like to call a social capital generation device, a system that pulls people out of their living rooms and puts them together to get important things done. 

 

Michael Jackson: the businessman behind the musician

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 03:00

Few artists have rivaled Michael Jackson’s lasting impact, but the strength of his image went beyond musical talent. The superstar was able to make an estimated $700 million (according to reporting by Zack O'Malley Greenburg) after he passed away, five years ago this week -- that's more than any other artist during that period.

Greenburg, senior editor at Forbes and author of "Michael Jackson, Inc.," joins host David Brancaccio to talk about the rise, fall and resurgence of Michael Jackson’s fortune. 

Click the audio player above to hear Zack O'Malley Greenburg in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio

PODCAST: The cost of classroom wi-fi

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 03:00

More on Representative Kevin McCarthy's announcement that he is in favor of ending the export-import bank. Plus, the GI Bill turns 70 this week, and among its initiatives was making it easier for veterans to attend college. That's why many soldiers took the GED. But these days, the primary test-takers of the GED are very different. Also, more on the cost of getting high-speed wi-fi into classrooms.

Twitter cash-giver is identified

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

And now for a tech mystery. Described as "an anonymous social experience for good," the twitter account @HiddenCash  has been tweeting clues to actual stashes of cash hidden in San Francisco and other cities. 

@HiddenCash generally hides around $50 to $100 in an envelope and then sends clues as to the money's whereabouts via Twitter, which people then use to find the money.

And until recently, the man behind @HiddenCash was a complete mystery. Now, the social media robin hood has come forward. His name is Jason Buzi.

Buzi hails from the bay area, and previously tried to make it big with a series of failed web ventures. One particular fiasco was a YouTube knockoff called “Cashtomato.” A publicity stunt for the site in New York’s Union Square that included giveaways of money hidden in boxes of tomatoes devolved into what was written up in the New York Daily News as a “free-for-all”.

These days, Buzi makes most of his money through real estate. 

 

Can your school get decent wi-fi speed?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

Technology is pouring into schools faster than their wi-fi can keep up with it.

Virtually all school officials in a recent survey of 447 school districts said they will need to upgrade their Internet speeds within three years. The survey was done by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), a professional association for district technology leaders.

Education Super-Highway, which promotes high-speed Internet in schools, recommends a download speed of 100 Mbps* (megabits per second), for a school with 1,000 students and staff.  But, the  organization says "the typical public school has the same Internet access as the typical home – but with 100x more users."

The solution? Mostly more money. Nearly three-quarters of districts in the CoSN survey said the cost of the monthly Internet charges are a barrier to getting the speed they need. That wasn’t the only problem. Just over 10 percent said their Internet provider was not able to give them the higher speed they required.

Click the audio player above to hear more on the topic from Adriene Hill in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio

How to Use the Map:

The map shows  federal data on the maximum possible download speeds available at more than 70,000 schools in the country. It does not show whether the school has the top speed. You can see schools in your town, or nearby, by entering your zip code into the box above the map.

The green markers show schools that have speeds of at least 50 mbps available to them (enough for good Internet speed for at least 500 people, according to Education Super-Highway).  

Yellow markers show schools that could get 25 mbps to 50 mbps (enough for 250 to 500 people) and red markers show schools in areas where the top available speed is less than 25 mbps (enough for 250 people).  

By clicking on the markers you can see more specific information on download speed.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect explanation for what the abbreviation "Mbps" means.  The text has been corrected.

How the GI Bill created a market for the GED

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

The GI Bill turned 70 this week. Among the benefits provided, the bill enabled returning WWII veterans to go to college.  

Those without high school diplomas turned to the General Educational Development Testing Service, still known as the GED. 

When he signed the GI Bill on June 22, 1944,  FDR created a huge new market for the private company behind the GED test, which had been created a few years earlier. 

Of course, in those days, the test was mainly taken by returning troops who didn’t have a high school diploma. More recently, the demographic interested in taking the test has changed a great deal.

“So now we’ve got the GED heavily weighted toward the prison population,” says Lois Quinn, a research scientist at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's Employment and Training Institute. “So the prisons become the greatest customer for the test.”

Quinn also says more teenagers are taking the test after dropping out of high school. 

Recently, the GED's value has been put into question.

“To the extent that there are more people with a high school diploma, then that would put people with a GED at a disadvantage,” says Chris Swanson, vice president of Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week.

In fact, the military now prefers recruits with a high school diploma over those with a GED. 

 

 

 

Referees get a tech upgrade at the World Cup

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-06-23 02:00

Soccer fans will be focused on the players during the World Cup, but tech fans should keep an eye on the referees -- Their equipment is getting an upgrade this year.

The first thing you may notice is a new, spray-foam-like shaving cream that refs will use to mark the position of free kicks. It vanishes a few seconds later.

“It’s kind of fun,” says Victor Matheson, a sports economist at The College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. He’s also a former ref for Major League Soccer and has used the spray before.

“But the big great innovation that really opens the door here is goal line technology,” says Matheson.

When the ball goes near the goal, you might also notice refs checking their watch – but not for the time. Seven high-speed cameras will now monitor each net and send an alert to the ref’s watch within a second of the ball crossing the goal line.

Sam Laird, who covers sports and technology for Mashable, says the hope is to avoid situations like the 2010 World Cup, where England lost a match to Germany thanks, in part, to a questionable call.

“It was a close play and the ref made the wrong call,” says Laird. “[It’s] a human error, but one that could have been corrected with the help of replay and for the first time that will be an option this year.”

But even with all the tech support refs will get at the World Cup this year, they are still human – which means there will likely be plenty of other reasons for fans to scream at them.

Egypt Sentences 3 Al-Jazeera Reporters To 7 Years

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 01:03

An Egyptian court has convicted three journalists for Al-Jazeera English and sentenced them to seven years in prison each on terrorism-related charges.

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To Boost Attendance, Milwaukee Schools Revive Art, Music And Gym

NPR News - Mon, 2014-06-23 00:32

After years of cutbacks, Milwaukee Public Schools are re-hiring teachers for classes beyond the basic . They are hoping to retain students as well as boost attendance and test scores.

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