National News

After a Racial Attack, A South Philly School Tries to Heal

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 12:00

In 2009, several Asian students were beat up at their high school. Students and teachers said it was a racially motivated attack. Six years later, here's what the school has done change things.

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Hospital To Nurses: Your Injuries Are Not Our Problem

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 11:51

When Terry Cawthorn severely injured her back on the job, Mission Hospital refused to pay workers' compensation and fired her — an attitude toward nurses that NPR found in hospitals across the U.S.

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Heaps Of Oranges Could Rot As West Coast Dock Dispute Drags On

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 11:47

Millions of pounds of citrus fruit are stranded and at risk of spoiling in warehouses and boats at major ports in California. It's the result of a dockworker labor dispute that's jammed operations.

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The FCC wants to move the U.S. to 5G. Here's what that means.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 11:19

The Federal Communications Commission just wrapped up a public comment period on 5G – or what the FCC likes to refer to as, "bringing the U.S to the forefront of fifth-generation wireless technology."

So, what exactly is 5G?

"The Original 'Gs' were about voice service, we wanted voice on our cell phones," Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson. "But eventually we wanted more than that, we wanted data, we wanted texting. So we got texting on 2G. Then we wanted the actual Internet, so we got 3G."

These days, 4G or LTE is the fastest internet access available – what allows us to download movies in just seconds and have constant connection. That is, until 5G makes its debut.

"It’s better, that’s the basic thing. It promises really high speeds," says Johnson. "But the interesting thing is, it promises higher speeds, but for shorter distances – think meters not miles."

A Sophisticated Version Of Guess The Grape — But Is It A Sport?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 11:06

For a half-century, Oxford and Cambridge have competed against each other in blind wine tasting. The big match is this week.

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By The Numbers: White House Takes On Violent Extremism

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 11:04

Domestic and world leaders gather this week to discuss terror threats. Here's a look by the numbers.

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2014 Midterm Election Was The Most Expensive One Yet

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 10:46

The $3.77 billion appeared to come from a smaller cadre of donors than in the 2010 midterms, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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Oregon's New Governor, Kate Brown, Is Sworn In

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 10:17

Brown took over after John Kitzhaber, Oregon's only four-term governor, stepped down amid scandal. Brown said all of that ends today.

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The logistical mind behind "Boyhood's" 12-year shoot

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:18

There are countless names that appear in white print on a black background at the end of films. People who toiled away in roles many of us don't know but who contribute greatly to the final product.

Vince Palmo's name may never be engraved on an Oscar, but he had arguably the most difficult job on the set of "Boyhood," the Richard Linklater film nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. As first assistant director, Palmo was in charge of logistics — no small feat for a 12-year shoot.

So what exactly does an assistant director do? 

“I try to make sure everything is in place so that on the day all the director has to say is 'action' and 'cut,' says Palmo. “We’re the first line of support for the director. We interact with every department. As soon as camera is ready the actors are ready, the background is ready, any special effects would be ready if necessary, so the director has to do as little as possible.”

The assistant director is a somewhat thankless job, but it wasn't always that way. Back in the 1930s, the Academy actually created an Oscar for assistant directors and awarded them for five years.

Palmo didn’t know that, but he says he’s not leading the charge to bring it back.

“That could be the part of the ceremony where people decide to go to the kitchen,” Palmo says. “When they talk about the glamour of movie-making, I don’t know if people associate it with that.”

Palmo is also a screenwriter who penned the screenplay for the 2008 film “Me and Orson Welles,” also directed by Richard Linklater. Palmo says he does hope to direct a film himself one day, but he knows it won’t come easy.

“Man, it’s a big leap,” he says. “It’s like a nurse saying he or she would like to be a doctor. It’s a big step.”

The hardest-working woman in monetary policy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:12

Using the Fed Chair's official calendar, The Wall Street Journal tallied up exactly how much time Janet Yellen spent in meetings last year and with whom.

It's kind of daunting.

Starting on the day she was sworn in, February 3, 2014, Yellen had more than 950 meetings--sometimes as many as 11 in a day.

There's all kinds of fascinating stuff in there. For example, on December 2 last year she met with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of the biggest bank in the country, JP Morgan Chase, from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM in the afternoon.

Take a look.

 

Searching for the economy's new normal

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:11

The first quarter of 2015 is not starting out with a bang. Several new economic indicators came out this week, which, taken individually are not overly noteworthy, but if you bundle them all up, they begin to indicate that tales of the resurgent U.S. economy might be slightly over-exaggerated.  

Industrial production rose just 0.2 percent in January, slightly less than expected. Housing starts also fell 2 percent in January, and add to the mix the tanking price of oil which dragged producer prices down to a five-year low.

So is the overall trend of positive economic forecasts still on track, or starting to stumble? Well, half the country is still buried under snow to think about spending all that extra gas money we’re carrying around.

“You know, it really is an issue of where you lose and where you win,” says Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Mesirow Financial. “There's no way to recoup the wages lost in some areas where you just couldn't get to work because of the weather, or stores couldn't open or had to close.”

Swonk points out that cold weather may be slowing home building. An ongoing strike by longshoremen on the West Coast is also holding things up.

"Suppliers, retailers, a lot of people who can't get the goods they need to distribute them, all of this disrupts and displaces economic activity," says Swonk.

Producer prices are falling, which means it’s cheaper for manufacturers to make things, which if continued over the long-term, can actually restrict economic activity — but at this point, that remains a pretty big "if."

"In fact, the decline in producer prices is actually hiding a good thing, it’s driven by declining oil prices,” points out University of Michigan Economist Justin Wolfers. Overall, he says he’s still bullish on the U.S. economy.

"The most reliable data we have shows that firms have been hiring and hiring pretty rapidly. So, I think there is probably at least as many people worried that the economy is growing too fast, as those that think we're on the cusp of a downturn any time soon," says Wolfers.

Other indicators, such as unemployment, continue to trend in a positive direction. A big problem for economists and policymakers going forward is just trying to establish what a “normal” data looks like in the post-recession economy.  

“I mean I definitely think we shouldn't panic about the old normal not being the same as the new normal, that doesn't mean it’s a bad normal,” says Diane Lim with the Committee for Economic Development.

What Lim is saying is the Great Recession changed household behavior, around things housing and spending, and we might just have to wait a little while yet to say precisely how.

"It’s a tricky thing to conduct policy around, but a lot of it is not in policymakers control. A lot of it will be, 'Let's wait and see where the economy seems to settle after the recovery is through.’"

Obama Names Joseph Clancy As Secret Service Director

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 09:07

Four months after he was brought back to an agency that was struggling to cope with a series of embarrassing missteps, Joseph Clancy was named the permanent director of the Secret Service Wednesday.

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Netanyahus' Spending Habits Get Scrutiny In Growing Scandal

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:49

Topics such as recycling payments and garden furniture are now in Israel's political sphere, after a review found spending such as an average monthly cleaning bill of over $20,000 for two homes.

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Debate: Are America's Best Days Behind It?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:35

Is America in decline, or an unparalleled leader on the world stage? In the 100th debate from Intelligence Squared U.S., two teams face off over the motion, "Declinists Be Damned: Bet On America."

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Salty, Sweet, Sour. Is It Time To Make Fat The Sixth Taste?

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:19

Fat has a lot in common with the five basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. But while people easily recognize the texture of fat, scientists say they can't quite perceive the taste.

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Quiz: Teens get fewer zzzzzs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-02-18 08:00

Teens have been losing sleep for two decades, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

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Blind Boy's Quest Prompts Australia To Plan Tactile Cash

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 06:55

Blind since birth, Connor McLeod couldn't tell how much money he'd been given for Christmas. So he started a petition seeking banknotes that can be differentiated by feel.

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How Marijuana Hijacks Your Brain To Create The Munchies

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 06:14

Where there's pot, there's often an insatiable hunger. Now researchers have a big clue why: Cannabinoids, the drug in marijuana, appear to flip a neural circuit that normally tells us we're full.

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Why Congress Doesn't Really Worry About What Most Americans Think

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 06:01

Polls show Americans are largely in favor of authorizing further actions against the Islamic State. Yet there is one group of Americans that is having far more trouble deciding how it feels: Congress.

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Pregnant And Uninsured? Don't Count On Obamacare Coverage

NPR News - Wed, 2015-02-18 05:37

Women who get pregnant and don't have health insurance can't sign up outside open enrollment until after they give birth. Advocates say that puts mother and child at risk of serious health problems.

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