National News

Former IS Hostage Says Museum Shooting Suspect Was His Jailer

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 08:36

Before now, the former hostages have avoided disclosing details about their captors' identity, out of fears that Westerners still being held by the Islamic State could face retaliation.

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Crews Search For Wreckage Of N.Y. Couple's Plane Near Jamaica

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 07:26

The plane's occupants are believed to have been real estate developer Larry Glazer, who may have been at the controls, and his wife, Jane, who owned a catalog business.

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Fears Of Sectarian Violence Grow In Baghdad

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 06:28

As Iraqi and American forces battle militants in the north, there are fears the turmoil could fuel new killings in the capital.

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Bengals' Signing Of Player Will Let Him Pay For Daughter's Cancer Care

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 06:02

For Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengals' decision means he'll be able to stay close to his daughter — and it will help pay the roughly $1 million her fight against cancer will require.

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Ebola Spurs A Full Public Lockdown In Sierra Leone

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 04:57

The lockdown's effectiveness will depend on citizens buying in to the government's plan. The news comes as the World Health Organization says it's speeding up delivery of possible vaccines.

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Q&A: Dana Goldstein, Author, 'The Teacher Wars'

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 04:43

Testing, tenure, pay, standards, business influence, poverty and inequality--the big education issues have been with us a long time, says a new book.

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How Genuine Is Russia's Ceasefire?

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

NATO leaders gathered in Wales this week to address the crisis in Ukraine and the threat posed by the Islamic State. NPR's Scott Simon talks to the former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder.

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Russia Rips Up NATO's Rulebook

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

President Obama has spent much of the week talking about what NATO can do to respond to current crises. NATO leaders approved a plan to develop a rapid response force to primarily counter Russia.

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Reporting From The Site Of The Ebola Outbreak's Origin

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

The first wave of the Ebola virus struck Liberia's northern Lofa County back in March. Correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton traveled to Lofa, and speaks to NPR's Scott Simon about the current situation.

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ISIS Runs A Dark Media Campaign On Social Media

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

NPR's Scott Simon talks to Clint Watts of the Foreign Policy Institute about how the Islamic State is using social media to gain power and attention.

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Better With Butter? Here's Why Americans Are Consuming More.

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

Cholesterol worries have waned as margarine's trans-fats became the new bogeyman, leading more Americans back to the real deal.

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Henry Kissinger's Thoughts On The Islamic State, Ukraine And 'World Order'

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 03:50

A stable global system is needed more than ever, Kissinger says in his new book, World Order. He explains why he sees Iran as a "bigger problem" than the Islamic State and offers his views on Ukraine.

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Tech Week That Was: So Many Hacks, So Little Time

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 01:54

There's a consistent thread in the tech news dominating all our attention this week — stolen data. We tried to add a little context to the coverage.

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A Botched Circumcision Calls Attention To Kenyan Ritual

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 01:32

Tribal elders now receive training for safer procedures. But last month, at a 3 a.m. ceremony in the forest, an elder from the Bukusu tribe accidentally cut off a 13-year-old's penis.

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A Botched Circumcision Calls Attention To Kenyan Ritual

NPR News - Sat, 2014-09-06 01:32

Tribal elders now receive training for safer procedures. But last month, at a 3 a.m. ceremony in the forest, an elder from the Bukusu tribe accidentally cut off a 13-year-old's penis.

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No one trusts anyone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Okay, this is kind of sad.

Turns out nobody in this country trusts anybody anymore. 

A study out in the journal "Psychological Science" today shows that back in the early '70s 46 percent of American adults agreed that most people can be trusted. Only 33 percent agree with that statement now.

It gets worse.

They asked 12th graders the same question in the late '70s. 32 percent agreed that most people can be trusted.

Now? Just 18 percent.

Tesla bets on the present while the future races on

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Tesla has just made a big bet in the battery space, an investment in a $5 billion factory to produce at scale and push down the price.

Company founder Elon Musk promises it will lead to a more affordable electric vehicle — but technology always brings surprises.

For starters, a future of better, cheaper and smaller is no guarantee.

“If you look at the number of announcements, promises, high hopes, explorations to the number of things that actually deliver and ship, it’s a pretty narrow funnel,” says Boston-area clean energy investor Matthew Nordan of MNL Partners.

But let’s say step-change does happen. Streamlined costs could chop the price of a $14,000 electric car battery in half, or more.

Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere could develop batteries one-third the size of current models. That would boost the electric vehicle's driving range substantially.

“It would be awfully nice to have a fully charged vehicle that could take you say three or four hundred miles in a single charge,” says University of California, Berkeley, chemist Steven Visco, founder of battery startup PolyPlus.

Of course, these forecasts assume drivers maintain the same relationship they have with their vehicles today: that each person owns one, refuels it, and cares about what’s under the hood.

Perhaps.

“Maybe we all just call an Uber or a Google car,” says University of Maryland business professor David Kirsch. “And we don’t care how it’s powered, or how much it costs. We’re kind of predicting marginal changes. We may be missing the radical change.”

Historians recall the unforeseen radical change that steam engines brought, as well as semiconductors and petroleum.

As far as next-generation batteries, leaps in energy storage could perhaps turn our homes into baby power plants. Or electrify an economy of drones that deliver packages and monitor crops.

Sound ridiculous? Berkeley’s Steven Visco recalls a conference in the early '90s where this crazy question turned up.

“‘Is it possible that we’ll see lithium-ion batteries in power tools?’ And it was immediately reviled as a crazy idea. There’s no way. It’s dangerous.”

Today, of course, we’re drilling away, cordless.

Will Europe start spending more on defense?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Europe’s share of NATO’s defense spending has shrunk to less than a third since the financial crisis hit a few years ago. European governments are under pressure to cut their deficits, and have slashed defense budgets to the bone. Now, however, as new threats have emerged, that belt-tightening could be coming to an end.

Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute says the Russian bear rampaging around eastern Ukraine probably means an end to further reductions in defense spending among NATO’s European members. But, he adds, “The jury is still out as to whether it will mean significant increases.”

Of NATO’s 28 member states, only four currently meet the alliance’s defense spending target of at least 2 percent of the GDP. At this week’s summit, Britain called on its European allies to spend more. The response was muted, with most states making only a vague commitment to do so.

Dan Plesch of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy says:  

“I don’t think there’s any appetite for that in Europe. There is such concern to get the economies moving again.”

Plesch says that because of the military might of the U.S., the truth is that NATO doesn’t need to spend much more to meet any threat from Russia.

“The reality that the Russians are hugely militarily inferior to the West means that there’s little real objective need for new military capability. Rather, a little spending on redeployment.” 

But America’s patience with Europe’s paltry spending on defense is wearing thin. And Russia is upgrading. Within two years, the Russians will spend more on their  military than Germany and France combined.

Heard of Bethany Mota? She's one of ABC's newest stars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" just announced the lineup for its 19th season. Featured is one Bethany Mota, a teenage YouTube star who's been video blogging for seven years, racking up 7 million subscribers to her beauty-related videos. If you haven't heard of her, you just aren't part of the demographic that "Dancing With the Stars" is hoping to attract.

"Right now everybody’s looking to integrate stars from YouTube into traditional television," says Karen North, a professor of digital and social media at the University of Southern California. "And the primary reason is to bring in a younger audience."

That younger audience spends a lot more time watching shows online than they do watching traditional television. The majority of YouTube’s viewers are 35 and under. The median age of "Dancing With the Stars"' viewers is 60.

Advertising Age reporter Jeanine Poggi is skeptical. "I’m not sure if her audience will translate over," Poggi says. "But, I mean, Bethany Mota has such a big following. Her social presence and ... being able to promote the show. That in and of itself is a huge draw for ABC."

Brian Steinberg, TV reporter at Variety, says the Mota news is a sign of things to come.

"It’s an interesting gambit to see if someone who’s a viral star has what it takes to become a broadcast star," Steinberg says. 

YouTube stars often have a niche following, he says, but prime time requires a different kind of star power — one that attracts a diverse and broad-based audience. So ABC’s gamble will hinge not just on Mota’s ability to rhumba, but also on the online buzz she creates when the show’s new season starts September 15.

Europeans have been cutting defense spending for a long time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-09-05 13:54

Europe’s share of NATO’s defense spending has shrunk to less than a third since the financial crisis hit a few years ago. European governments are under pressure to cut their deficits, and have slashed defense budgets to the bone. Now, however, as new threats have emerged, that belt-tightening could be coming to an end.

Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute says the Russian bear rampaging around eastern Ukraine probably means an end to further reductions in defense spending among NATO’s European members. But, he adds, “The jury is still out as to whether it will mean significant increases.”

Of NATO’s 28 member states, only four currently meet the alliance’s defense spending target of at least 2 percent of the GDP. At this week’s summit, Britain called on its European allies to spend more. The response was muted, with most states making only a vague commitment to do so.

Dan Plesch of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy says:  

“I don’t think there’s any appetite for that in Europe. There is such concern to get the economies moving again.”

Plesch says that because of the military might of the U.S., the truth is that NATO doesn’t need to spend much more to meet any threat from Russia.

“The reality that the Russians are hugely militarily inferior to the West means that there’s little real objective need for new military capability. Rather, a little spending on redeployment.” 

But America’s patience with Europe’s paltry spending on defense is wearing thin. And Russia is upgrading. Within two years, the Russians will spend more on their  military than Germany and France combined.

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