National / International News

Why Ebola Is Making It Harder To Provide Good Health Care

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:10

People are afraid to go to the doctor. Clinics have lost staff to the virus. Basic supplies aren't there. Ebola will have an impact on everything from malaria treatment to maternal health.

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McDonnell Takes The Stand, Founding Defense On Marital Dysfunction

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:10

In the corruption trial of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, McDonnell took the stand as a witness. Jeff E. Schapiro, politics columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, discusses the testimony with Robert Siegel.

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The Quandary At Jackson Hole: Is It Time To Step Back From Stimulus?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:10

With the economy showing signs of positive momentum, the Federal Reserve is facing familiar questions at its monetary symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Chief among these: Are interest rates too low? Robert Siegel asks Alan Blinder of Princeton University.

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Bank Of America Settles With Feds And States For Record Amount

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:10

In the latest fallout from misdeeds leading up to the financial crisis, Bank of America has agreed to a record $16.65 billion deal with federal and state governments. The deal helps the bank avoid prosecution for the fraudulent sale of toxic mortgage-backed securities to investors.

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The Siege Deepens In Eastern Ukraine's Donetsk

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:10

There are reports of heavy shelling on the outskirts of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, as government forces try to take the city from pro-Russian separatists. Meanwhile, thousands of the city's residents are trying to flee the fighting.

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Israel Unrolls New Series Of Strikes Against Hamas Leadership

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:10

An Israeli airstrike killed three Hamas military commanders, who were buried shortly later amid threats that the militant group would respond.

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BREAKING: British Burn Washington ... 2 Centuries Ago

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:01

Two hundred years ago this week, invading British troops destroyed the White House and the U.S. Capitol. NPR wasn't there, but if we were, our coverage might have sounded something like this ...

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What is a superfood?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:00

We think we know what superfoods are. Nutrient-rich, high in vitamins, they're fruits and vegetables with extra oomph that seem to have benefits beyond plain healthy eating.

In a recent Nielsen survey commissioned by Bloomberg Businessweek, 75 percent of consumers said they can manage their health through nutrition. One third say that they can use food to replace some medicines.

Farmers are seeing this trend and turning over crops to accomodate demand for once-unappealing wintry vegetables.

"I know we are not supposed to speak of kale on this show," said Venessa Wong, who reported on the findings for Businessweek. But she did anyway (listen in the audio player above), because its growth has been explosive.

"In 2012, about 2,500 farms harvested 'the k-word,' which is up from fewer than 1,000 in 2007," Wong said, adding, "Farmers are indeed very in touch with what people want to eat right now."

And far and away, 'the k-word' is the thing that people want to eat. But Brussel sprouts, spinach, chard and arugula are also showing a 10-20 percent boost since 2009.

With marketing buzz galore and significant public interest, the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease tried to define superfoods.

The produce selected may surprise you: tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, oranges, even iceberg lettuce. Wong notes that there are good reasons for their inclusion, but on a scale of defining a superfood, less trendy veggies stand out.

"The most nutrition dense food are watercress, Chinese cabbage, beet greens, spinach, so things that don't get as much buzz as the pomegranates, the quinoas," Wong said.

And the fact that the most super of foods aren't among the supermarket bestsellers is hardly a surprise.

"As much as people believe in the power of food," Wong said, "half of people surveyed by Nielsen said that they weren't willing to give up taste for health."

Kai's K-Word Chips

(1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

(2) Trim kale and toss with olive oil.

(3) Bake until crispy.

(4) Season with salt to taste.

(5) Eat 'em while they're hot.

As waters rise, Mekong rice farmers switch to shrimp

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-08-21 12:00

It’s the rainy season here in Tran De. About a dozen field workers have squished out into a green paddy that goes on for more than two and a half football fields.

They chatter in Khmer as they bend low and pull young rice plants from their monsoon-soaked beds, and toss them into piles for replanting.

“I was born in this area, I’m from this area,” says a 64-year-old farmer named Minh. “I learned from my father and my grandfather, from the time I was a kid, how to grow rice.”

Minh is renting the land to grow his crop. “Rice is good,” he says, “you can always eat it. It’s reliable.”

At least right now it is.

Things will change when the dry season starts in January. That’s when farmers here usually start raising a rice crop, typically relying on fresh water they pump or channel in from some branch of the Mekong River.

But the dry season has been getting dryer. And the South China Sea - less than a mile away - is rising and pushing up into empty river and stream beds.

What little fresh water there is goes salty. So does the soil.

Once that happens, rice farmers like Minh know their crops are history.

“This village is affected by saline intrusion,” he explains. “During the dry season, people here can’t do anything with the land. They just leave it, go somewhere else and work, or try to find some work locally.”

If Minh risked planting a dry season crop, he could earn more than $2,000.

But he won’t take that chance. Instead of fighting saline intrusion, he’s found a way to hedge his bets and make some money off climate change.

He’s gone and bought himself a shrimp farm.

So has another farmer, named Sung. Standing beside two shrimp ponds out behind his house, Sung fires up what looks like a system of small spinning steamboat paddles.

They’re adding oxygen to an opaque brown pool.

This salty water is killing off the region’s rice, while the shrimp, somewhere down at the bottom, are loving it.

They can earn Sung in a year more than four times what an average rice farmer brings home.

“In a good year,” Sung says, “I do two crops. If it hits, I get $4,720 from these two ponds. This is the only thing I can do. Growing rice is not very profitable.”

With very few choices, explains Tim Gorman, a Cornell grad student researching how peoples’ lives in the Mekong Delta are being changed by global warming, some farmers are turning away from rice.

“The biggest option to people here in these areas affected by saline intrusion,” Gorman explains, “is to abandon rice altogether and switch to saltwater shrimp.”

This has been a “winning strategy” for many people in the area, Gorman observes. “Just driving around here you can see that there are big new houses, you see some nice new cars. And so you have some people who really have made a lot of money from growing shrimp, which is primarily exported to markets in Europe, Asia, and the US.”

Shrimp farmer Sung isn’t doing quite that well. He’s helping his daughter pay for college, but there’s no fat new Mercedes in the driveway.

That kind of money goes mostly to big-time farmers. Some people earn tens of thousands of dollars a year in the shrimp trade. With the lure of five and six-figure profits, plus faltering rice crops killed off by rising seas, Gorman says some folks are even taking hammers to the very gates and dykes set up to protect the area from the ocean.

“People are actively manipulating the infrastructure,” he says, “sabotaging the infrastructure, to allow salt water to come in. Not just during the dry season, but all year, so they can switch from freshwater rice farming to saltwater shrimp farming.”

Shrimp is no sure bet, either. Seeds, antibiotics, aeration systems, start-up costs - kilo for kilo, it’s way more expensive to raise than rice. A few sick ones can take out a whole pond.

Sung says he’s gone bust before. “In a bad year, all I have left are the whites of my hands!”

That’s the risk for most farmers here - rice, shrimp, or anything else.

But more and more, those who can afford it are moving away from rice and putting their money down on a changing climate.

===============

Christopher Johnson is a reporter for BURN: An Energy Journal from SoundVision Productions with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The flop that is 'Expendables 3'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:59

To be blunt, "Expendables 3" was a major box office flop on its opening weekend. Part three of the action-packed franchise was the only one to have a PG-13 rating, rather than the usual R.  Although their intentions were to target a younger demographic and broaden their potential audience, the film only grossed approximately $15 million.

"The problem with this movie, and it’s been the problem with this whole series, is that it has this idea that the thing we really want is the great action stars all together, giving us movies they don’t make anymore," says Wesley Morris, critic at Grantland. "But there’s kind of a reason we don’t make those movies anymore. And this movie is just plowing forward. It’s so bad."

Case in point, says Morris, the proposed spin-off of the Expendable's series, in which the leads will all be women, is called "ExpendaBelles."  Actress Sigourney Weaver was offered a part.

"She, perhaps smartly, said no," adds Morris.

A Year Later, Syria's Chemical Weapons Are Gone, But Siege Remains

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:46

The Damascus suburb hit by a deadly chemical weapons attack a year ago remains surrounded by Syrian government forces who are still trying to squeeze the rebels out.

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'Choking' death response examined

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:38
The ambulance service is investigating its response to a six-year-old girl believed to have choked to death while on holiday in Gwynedd.

Second sprint gold for teenager Lyle

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:36
Sprinter Maria Lyle, 14, claims her second gold medal at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Swansea.

Would A Prize Help Speed Development Of Ebola Treatments?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:34

Even though the current outbreak in West Africa has become the largest ever, Ebola isn't the most attractive business proposition for drugmakers. The right financial incentives might change that.

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The 10-Year-Old Boy Has Died, Probably Of Ebola

NPR News - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:29

The photo showed a little boy. He was found naked on a beach in Liberia and was very sick, most likely with Ebola. The world was deeply touched. And hoped for a miracle. But his story has a sad end.

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VIDEO: Possible Ebola case in Ireland

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:19
A suspected case of Ebola is being assessed in County Donegal, the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) has said

National Guard to leave Ferguson

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:15
The National Guard is set to withdraw from the St Louis suburb where a black teenager was killed by police this month, as tensions ease.

Carlin claims 800m freestyle gold

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 11:03
Jazz Carlin wins Britain's fourth gold in the pool at the European Championships, while there is a silver for Ross Murdoch.

Stowaway survivor 'feared death'

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 10:57
Tilbury Docks container stowaway tells BBC he feared for his life

Moody quits Palace over text claims

BBC - Thu, 2014-08-21 10:56
Crystal Palace sporting director Iain Moody resigns following allegations over racist, sexist and homophobic texts.
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