National / International News

How Bird Beaks Got Their Start As Dinosaur Snouts

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:32

Hoping to help trace the history of how velociraptors evolved into birds, researchers at Harvard and Yale may have tracked a key beak transformation to two genes.

» E-Mail This

The fake 'disappearing game' that's scaring parents

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:30
The fake trend that's terrifying parents around the world

Texas Sen. Doesn't Want Clergy 'Coerced' Into Officiating Same-Sex Marriages

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:12

In Texas, state legislators are considering a number of bills disapproving of same-sex marriage. They are also learning some lessons from the "religious freedom" controversy in Indiana.

» E-Mail This

Obama: We Must 'Guard Against Cynicism' When It Comes To Poverty

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:08

"There's a lot we can do," President Obama said at a forum in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Just across town, progressive leaders laid out plans to tackle poverty.

» E-Mail This

Is Syria's war edging towards an outcome?

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:05
With the Syrian regime suffering some of its worse losses in four years, could the break-up of the country into zones of control be the key to ending the conflict, asks the BBC's Jim Muir.

TTIP: Why the EU-US trade deal matters

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:04
What is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and why does it matter?

PM to set out new anti-extremism law

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:02
Prime Minister David Cameron is to set out a string of new anti-radicalisation powers, saying the UK has been a "passively tolerant society" for too long.

Asia tops global school rankings

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 15:02
A global school league table from the OECD puts Asian countries at the top, the UK in 20th and the US trailing in 28th place, behind countries including Vietnam.

VIDEO: Rescued Syria migrant's journey to Germany

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 14:15
As the British government says it will opt out of European plans for a quota system for migrants, Damian Grammaticas meets one Syrian who has reached Germany.

31 hours in another Pietersen saga

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:58
How the Kevin Pietersen drama unfolded, from a triple century to being again told he will not be selected for England.

VIDEO: People on streets after second Nepal quake

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:53
Another earthquake has hit Nepal, only two weeks after more than 7,000 people died in a earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8.

Russia delays ISS astronauts' return

BBC - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:51
Russia delays for about a month the return of three astronauts on the International Space Station after the recent failure of its supply spaceship.

You've Saved Money At The Pump. Why Aren't You Spending It?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:38

Falling oil prices haven't boosted economic growth as much as expected. That's partly because consumers have chosen to pay down debt and save some of the windfall rather than spend it all.

» E-Mail This

Brain Boost: Mediterranean Diet May Fend Off Memory Loss

NPR News - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:04

People in their 60s and 70s who followed the Mediterranean diet for four years held steady on cognitive tests, a study found. But the test scores of people following a lower-fat diet went down.

» E-Mail This

Oil downturn takes men out of 'man camps'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:00

There was a time when the Capital Lodge 'man camp' outside Tioga, North Dakota was teeming with oilfield workers, as many as 1,000 at the peak.

The guests there occasionally made local headlines for brawls — a couple of them violent. But more recently, Capital Lodge’s name popped up in local papers for a very different reason. The owners are looking to downsize.

“This facility here has slowed down dramatically,” says Tony Miller, an oilfield worker who has stayed at Capital Lodge. “When I first started coming here right around December, you'd wait in line to get food. And now it's kind of come and go as you please.”

In March, David Brown, the vice president for operations, acknowledged that Capital Lodge was looking to move some of its units to other parts of the Bakken oil patch. Its investors also looked into the possibility of converting some of the mancamp into a commercial motel. Occupancy had dropped below 300 during the winter months, though Brown said some of that could be seasonal.

Trends in the oil industry do not favor a rebound for the man camp. Drilling rig counts and payrolls have both dropped off. Man camps in North Dakota and Texas are both taking a hit as a result, according to Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston.

“We know that the rates they charge per day have dropped in some cases by more than half,” says Hirs. “It really doesn't matter what the rate is. They don't have anyone there to pay $10 a day, let alone $100 a day.”

Hirs points out the man camps were always meant to be temporary. The goal was to replace them with new apartments and homes — but he says some of those more permanent projects are in trouble, too.

“I've talked to a one real estate developer who started a $30 million project in the heart of the Bakken with the idea that, 'Heck, this might be worth $60 million,'” Hirs says. “But now they're looking at trying to make due with less than half the projected occupancy and perhaps less than half the projected rental rates.”

The president of the Williston Area Builders Association, Dave Nordenstrom, says the spring inventory of homes for sale was elevated, another sign of softer demand. But he’s not worried about a glut of homes on the market.

“I think as time goes on here that will shake out and builders will slow down some of their production,” he says.

Like a lot of locals, Nordenstrom says a break from the frenzied pace of the oil boom is welcome. He argues that the oil industry may be down but not out. Experts say there’s likely a 20-year supply of oil in the Bakken shale area, and the workers who support the industry going forward will still need housing.

“The oil isn’t going anywhere,” Nordenstrom says. "It's still going to be there.”

In the NBA, 'Hack-a-Shaq' is fouling ratings, too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:00

As the NBA moves through its playoffs, the league is looking at the widely debated strategy known as 'Hack-a-Shaq,' named after the notoriously bad free-shooter Shaquille O'Neal.

Most recently, it's Hack-a-Jordan or Hack-a-DeAndre, for LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Amazing player, and terrible at free throws. Hack-a-Shaq, or hack-a-whomever, is when a team targets the opposition's worst free-throw shooter, pounding him with fouls. He has to take the free throw, he misses, the other team gets the ball.

"This kind of drags it down, and probably my guess would be the NBA would be looking at, 'how could we keep that excitement without having some of these games really have that type of slow finish that might not be as interesting to fans?'" asks Rodney Paul, professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

With the NHL playoffs and baseball season going on, the NBA faces stiff competition for viewers. Tom Rhoads, who teaches economics at Towson University, says banning Hack-a-Shaqs would make the game less frustrating for fans, but take away a key tactic.

"You have certain rules that are designed for the fan and not for the players," he says.

The constant stops in action aren't good for advertisers, either, according to Rodney Fort, a sports economist at the University of Michigan. Fort says breaks ought to be predictable. Otherwise, he says, "you have a difficult time identifying the number of slots to sell to advertisers."

He says the NBA, like other major sports leagues, has been pretty good at changing the rules to make more money.

 

In the NBA, 'Hack-a-Shaq' is fouling advertisers, too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:00

As the NBA moves through its playoffs, the league is looking at the widely debated strategy known as 'Hack-a-Shaq,' named after the notoriously bad free-shooter Shaquille O'Neal.

Most recently, it's Hack-a-Jordan or Hack-a-DeAndre, for LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Amazing player, and terrible at free throws. Hack-a-Shaq, or hack-a-whomever, is when a team targets the opposition's worst free-throw shooter, pounding him with fouls. He has to take the free throw, he misses, the other team gets the ball.

"This kind of drags it down, and probably my guess would be the NBA would be looking at, 'how could we keep that excitement without having some of these games really have that type of slow finish that might not be as interesting to fans?'," says Rodney Paul, professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

With the NHL playoffs and baseball season going on, the NBA faces stiff competition for viewers. Tom Rhoads, who teaches economics at Towson University, says banning Hack-a-Shaqs would make the game less frustrating for fans, but take away a key tactic.

"You have certain rules that are designed for the fan and not for the players," he says.

The constant stops in action aren't good for advertisers, either, according to Rodney Fort, a sports economist at the University of Michigan. Fort says breaks ought to be predictable. Otherwise, he says, "you have a difficult time identifying the number of slots to sell to advertisers."

He says the NBA, like other major sports leagues, has been pretty good at changing the rules to make more money.

 

Re-thinking the boring bond

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:00

The usually boring bond market has been distinctly un-boring of late. What began in German bonds a couple of weeks ago has arrived at the U.S. Treasury market.

German rates have climbed about half a percent, “which is a big move in bond world,” says Brian Rehling, co-head of global fixed income strategy at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “That’s really what’s moved U.S. rates higher.”

The yield on the 10-year Treasury on Tuesday climbed to its highest level since late November before settling back down slightly, to 2.26 percent.

Rate increases aren’t limited to the bond market, says Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. Consider a bank which might buy a bond or make a mortgage loan.

“If the returns [banks] get on bonds are higher, because interest rates have risen, they’re going to require a higher interest rate on that same mortgage loan,” LeBas says.

“We could list a whole conga line of ramifications,” says Marilyn Cohen, president of Envision Capital Management.

In addition to mortgage rates, she says “car loans are less sensitive than mortgage rates, but certainly will drift up, and any type of consumer loans or line of credit that you may have that you’re thinking about using a portion of, those rates would go up.”

Cohen says she doesn’t think we’ll see a big rate increases, but many  parts of the economy are counting on low interest rates. On the flip side, higher interest rates mean it’s a decent time to buy bonds – they’ll offer more income now.  

Medical scribe industry thrives

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:00

Think about the word, “scribe.” What pops into your head? Probably something from a humanities class in college or a History Channel documentary, right?

If you've visited a doctor lately, you might envision something more modern. The medical scribe industry has been booming in recent years, fueled largely by hospitals around the county switching to electronic medical record systems.

Tyrell Kirchhefer is the lead scribe in the emergency department at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center in Cheyenne, Wyoming. While the doctor on duty quizzes a patient, he stands silent in the back, taking exhaustive notes on his laptop.

“One of the biggest things they taught us [in medical scribe training] was not to show any facial expressions when you are in the room,” he says. “It takes a lot of work.”

Kirchhefer makes $13 an hour, and the work counts as “hands-on experience” on medical school applications, which he hopes to start submitting soon. He says that after more than a year behind his laptop in the ER, he’s been able to see the gamut of common medical experiences, and some that are not so common.

“I had a woman that was herding cattle one day and, somehow, she was run over by one of the bulls. She didn’t come in for 12 hours or something like that, because she didn’t think it was that bad. It was pretty bad: she had a wound the size of a large orange or a grapefruit.”    

The hospital had to adopt electronic medical records by this year in order to not get penalized on medicare and medicaid reimbursement.  

These records are much more comprehensive than the paper files or computer spreadsheets the hospital used to useThey also take much longer. Cheyenne Regional ER Doctor Amy Tortorich says it take her about 10 minutes per patient. She usually sees about 30 patients a day.

“That’s an extra five hours charting. So half my shift, almost half my shift.”

But with Kirchhefer she says she can see more patients, and they generally leave happier. Which, Tortorich says, makes medical scribes well worth their cost.

“All of my doctor friends want this.”

That kind of demand has created a booming industry. Sarah Lamb is the Chief Operations Officer for Scribe America, one of the biggest medical scribe companies in the country.

“In the past year alone we have tripled our growth to probably just under 7,500 employees in 47 states.”

The leading scribe trade group predicts the number of scribes working in America will go from about 20,000 today to 100,000 by 2020.

“Unless we have some futuristic component where a physician can do live documentation while walking down the hall, there will always be a need for scribes,” Lamb says.

Wait, why can’t that vision come true? Well there is one big obstacle: the medical scribe industry.

“By creating a new profession we are bypassing  the physician,” says Dr. George Gellert, Medical Informatics Officer at Christus Health Systems. “ As well as hospitals and clinics across the country [for their] input into this product.”

Dr. Gellert recently wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association that, in fact, it’s in our best interest that doctors to have to deal with electronic medical record systems, even if they are frustrating. Gellert says right now electronic medical records are sort of like cell phones in the 90s—clunky and time consuming. Input from cellphone users on what worked and what didn’t was the push that eventually led to the smartphone.

“But if someone was there to manage all [your] cellphone functioning, would there have been the pressure to evolve cell phones? I suspect not.”

One day medical scribes might be innovated out of a job, but for now, many hospitals find them indispensable. In Cheyenne, Kirchhefer says his shop is always hiring. 

What's AOL, really?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-05-12 13:00

Here's a coda to our report about Verizon's deal to purchase AOL

We had AOL CEO Tim Armstrong on the program about two and a half years ago, when I asked him — as I sometimes do with CEOs — to describe what his company does in five words or less.

This is what he said:

AOL will be the best connected, most shared and most impactful brand and media company with a technology platform in the world.

So based on today's news, here's another way to say that: $4.4 billion. 

Pages