National / International News

Are low oil prices an opening for a carbon tax?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-05 11:00

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, now an economist at Harvard University, argued today in the Washington Post and the Financial Times that the case for a carbon tax is “overwhelming” given the low price of gasoline. The average price per gallon in the U.S. is $2.20. Adding a $.25 tax would take it to $2.45.

 

“Doing that against a backdrop where gas prices have declined $1.50, it’s a very rare opportunity,” says energy and environment economist Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman professor at the University of Chicago. Even at the University of Chicago, a shrine to free-market theories, taxing carbon is a mainstream concept, Greenstone says.

 

“Drawing from the far right of the economics profession all the way to the far left, this is not a political issue,” Greenstone says. “This is blackboard economics.”

 

His point: The price of gasoline today is wrong. It does not include the cost of carbon-dioxide pollution from burning it. This is the baseline case for taxing carbon emissions.

 

Even if it’s good economics, it’s dismal politics. Republicans now control both houses of Congress. Still, former GOP Congressman Bob Inglis sees an opportunity: A carbon tax would bring in money, to cut other taxes. Say, corporate income taxes.

 

“This is an opportunity to change what we tax,” Inglis says. “To get off of income, and to get the tax on emissions. It certainly fits with what we as conservatives believe.”

 

  

 

 

Sandwich Monday: The Pretzel Dog

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:56

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try the Pretzel Dog from Auntie Anne's. It's a hot dog, wrapped in soft pretzel and meditations on life and death.

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Training urban teachers who stay

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:50

Cheyandria Monks is getting ready to teach a phonics lesson to a class of first graders. Monks, 29, is not a teacher – yet. She’s a resident at Liberty Elementary in Baltimore. Basically, she's an apprentice. Her host teacher, Angela Guidera, walks her through the lesson.

Urban Teacher Center resident Cheyandria Monks, left, talks with her host teacher, Angela Guidera.

Monks listens to a recording of a song about a train “clickety-clacking” down a track. “Read it first,” Guidera suggests, “because the song goes pretty fast.”

Monks’ residency is part of a program at Urban Teacher Center, a nonprofit based in Baltimore. It’s built on the idea that, like doctors and chefs, teachers should train side-by-side with pros before they take charge of their own classrooms. In a traditional school, teachers-in-training might spend six or eight weeks – maybe a semester – as student teachers. The Urban Teacher Center residency lasts 15 months.

“They are learning what good teaching looks like and feels like, so that by the time they become the classroom teacher, there’s no surprises,” says Jennifer Green, the center's co-founder and CEO.

The schedule is demanding. Monks co-teaches most days, then heads off to her own master's classes at night. When she finally gets home, she might spend a few minutes with her baby daughter before tackling homework and lesson plans. She gets five or six hours of sleep.

The residency is meant to be hard, Green says. “We often hear that the first year of teaching is the hardest year of someone’s life.” One aim of the residency, she says, “is to make sure that our residents are up for the grueling nature of the task.”

If they’re not, they can drop out without leaving a class of students teacherless. Nationally, half of new teachers leave the profession within five years. In urban districts, turnover is even higher. Residencies are catching on as one way to produce teachers who know what they’re getting into. At the Urban Teacher Center, more than 20 percent of residents either quit or are asked to leave each year. Some don't return after the winter break.

“I think sometimes it’s unnecessarily brutal,” says Joseph Manko, principal of Liberty Elementary. “This is their first experience with the profession, and you want to prepare people. You also don’t want to scare them away.”

For the last three years, Manko has hosted a crop of residents at his school, which pays about 40 percent of the cost of their training. For now, philanthropy covers the rest. In return, Manko gets extra help in his classrooms and a school year to check out potential teachers. He hired one of last year’s residents for a permanent job. “He’s the first first-year teacher that we’ve hired in five years, but I’m happy to say he is far and away the best first-year teacher I’ve ever seen,” Manko says.

That teacher, Kevin Chandler, is still with the program at Urban Teacher Center. Now a fellow, he continues to take courses and work with a coach, but he’s in charge of a second-grade class. “The residency is the hardest part of this program,” Chandler says. “If you can make it through that year, you will be set.”

Monks is still getting through it. After lunch, she’s ready to teach that first-grade phonics lesson. The kids sit cross-legged on the carpet, each student on a colored square with an individual small whiteboard. They start out reading the train poem. “Clickety-clickety, clack clack clack,” they read in unison.

Then they try to find the words that start with the “cl” sound and write them on their boards. Before long, the kids start to fidget, then drift from their squares. Some scribble on their whiteboards.

Monks finds herself up against one of the hardest lessons for new teachers: classroom management. After a while, the official teacher, Guidera, steps in.

“Class, class, class,” she chants. “Yes, yes, yes!” the kids shout back.

Later, resident and mentor debrief. “How did you feel?” Guidera asks Monks. “I think I had them on the carpet way too long, so the whole group got really off task,” Monks says.

Guidera gives her some tips for moving through the lesson more quickly, and for holding the interest of restless kids. Monks will have another chance to get it right – she’s leading class all week.

Now, though, it’s time to put on her student hat.  She heads downtown for a class on teaching ratios and percentages with the other residents. There are 112 this year.

As class gets underway, Monks spreads out her dinner – a hot dog, yogurt and some coconut water from 7-Eleven – on her desk. Sometimes she’ll throw in a Red Bull to stay awake. If she gets through this year, Baltimore may have another effective teacher who actually sticks around. After the residency, fellows commit to teaching in a Baltimore or Washington, D.C. school for three years. The first class of fellows just finished that commitment. About three-quarters stayed on.

Training urban teachers who stay

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:50

Cheyandria Monks is getting ready to teach a phonics lesson to a class of first graders. Monks, 29, is not a teacher – yet. She’s a resident at Liberty Elementary in Baltimore. Basically, sh'es an apprentice. Her host teacher, Angela Guidera, walks her through the lesson.

Urban Teacher Center resident Cheyandria Monks, left, talks with her host teacher, Angela Guidera.

Monks listens to a recording of a song about a train “clickety-clacking” down a track. “Read it first,” Guidera suggests, “because the song goes pretty fast.”

Monks’ residency is part of a program at Urban Teacher Center, a nonprofit based in Baltimore. It’s built on the idea that, like doctors and chefs, teachers should train side-by-side with pros before they take charge of their own classrooms. In a traditional school, teachers-in-training might spend six or eight weeks – maybe a semester – as student teachers. The Urban Teacher Center residency lasts 15 months.

“They are learning what good teaching looks like and feels like, so that by the time they become the classroom teacher, there’s no surprises,” says Jennifer Green, the center's co-founder and CEO.

The schedule is demanding. Monks co-teaches most days, then heads off to her own master's classes at night. When she finally gets home, she might spend a few minutes with her baby daughter before tackling homework and lesson plans. She gets five or six hours of sleep.

The residency is meant to be hard, Green says. “We often hear that the first year of teaching is the hardest year of someone’s life.” One aim of the residency, she says, “is to make sure that our residents are up for the grueling nature of the task.”

If they’re not, they can drop out without leaving a class of students teacherless. Nationally, half of new teachers leave the profession within five years. In urban districts, turnover is even higher. Residencies are catching on as one way to produce teachers who know what they’re getting into. At the Urban Teacher Center, more than 20 percent of residents either quit or are asked to leave each year. Some don't return after the winter break.

“I think sometimes it’s unnecessarily brutal,” says Joseph Manko, principal of Liberty Elementary. “This is their first experience with the profession, and you want to prepare people. You also don’t want to scare them away.”

For the last three years, Manko has hosted a crop of residents at his school, which pays about 40 percent of the cost of their training. For now, philanthropy covers the rest. In return, Manko gets extra help in his classrooms and a school year to check out potential teachers. He hired one of last year’s residents for a permanent job. “He’s the first first-year teacher that we’ve hired in five years, but I’m happy to say he is far and away the best first-year teacher I’ve ever seen,” Manko says.

That teacher, Kevin Chandler, is still with the program at Urban Teacher Center. Now a fellow, he continues to take courses and work with a coach, but he’s in charge of a second-grade class. “The residency is the hardest part of this program,” Chandler says. “If you can make it through that year, you will be set.”

Monks is still getting through it. After lunch, she’s ready to teach that first-grade phonics lesson. The kids sit cross-legged on the carpet, each student on a colored square with an individual small whiteboard. They start out reading the train poem. “Clickety-clickety, clack clack clack,” they read in unison.

Then they try to find the words that start with the “cl” sound and write them on their boards. Before long, the kids start to fidget, then drift from their squares. Some scribble on their whiteboards.

Monks finds herself up against one of the hardest lessons for new teachers: classroom management. After a while, the official teacher, Guidera, steps in.

“Class, class, class,” she chants. “Yes, yes, yes!” the kids shout back.

Later, resident and mentor debrief. “How did you feel?” Guidera asks Monks. “I think I had them on the carpet way too long, so the whole group got really off task,” Monks says.

Guidera gives her some tips for moving through the lesson more quickly, and for holding the interest of restless kids. Monks will have another chance to get it right – she’s leading class all week.

Now, though, it’s time to put on her student hat.  She heads downtown for a class on teaching ratios and percentages with the other residents. There are 112 this year.

As class gets underway, Monks spreads out her dinner – a hot dog, yogurt and some coconut water from 7-Eleven – on her desk. Sometimes she’ll throw in a Red Bull to stay awake. If she gets through this year, Baltimore may have another effective teacher who actually sticks around. After the residency, fellows commit to teaching in a Baltimore or Washington, D.C. school for three years. The first class of fellows just finished that commitment. About three-quarters stayed on.

English teacher is Costa's top poet

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:42
An English teacher from south Wales wins the Costa poetry prize for his first book, while Ali Smith's How To Be Both wins the best novel award.

Report: St. Louis Rams Owner Plans New Stadium In LA

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:32

The Los Angeles Times reports Stan Kroenke and the Stockbridge Capital Group plan to build an 80,000-seat NFL stadium — which could see the team return to the city where it spent almost five decades.

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'Too ugly' rape jibe councillor quits

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:31
A Liberal Democrat councillor who claimed a rape victim was too ugly to be assaulted resigns as his party's leader.

Putin critic cuts off tag in protest

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:28
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny cuts off his electronic monitoring tag in a protest against his house arrest.

Detained Christians 'freed' in Libya

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:25
A local Libyan tribal leader in Sirte says 13 Coptic Christian workers from Egypt have been freed after disappearing at the weekend.

McLaren-Honda query engine ruling

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:12
McLaren and new engine partner Honda query the latest in-season engine development ruling before the 2015 season.

VIDEO: Lebanon backlash over Syrian refugees

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:05
The Lebanese authorities have imposed restrictions on Syrian refugees crossing its border, aimed at slowing the influx of asylum seekers escaping civil war.

Why chicken wings cost more this time of year

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-05 10:04

The chicken industry did quite well in 2014. That may be largely due to the high chicken prices and low production costs. But Ed Fryar, President of Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers, Arkansas, believes chicken prices will not continue to increase in 2015, except for the chicken wings.  

"As you move into the Super Bowl and into March Madness, that causes wing prices to jump up," Fryar says.

Fryar says chicken breast has a strong market during the summer time and chicken feet are mostly exported to China.

"It’s hard to find a strong seasonal pattern in dark meat," Fryar says. "We export a substantial amount of dark meat from the United States, and because of that any issue with Avian Influenza, any political situation which causes one of our major importers to come and announce a ban on U.S poultry exports to them, those things kind of come and go."

U.S. Charges 2 Americans Over Attempted Coup In Gambia

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:41

The men allegedly bought weapons and shipped them to Gambia. Court documents say they planned to ambush the president's convoy, but when that plan fell through they decided to storm the State House.

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Wreck of Cemfjord cargo ship found

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:32
The wreck of the cargo ship Cemfjord, which sank in the Pentland Firth with eight men on board, is located on the seabed.

VIDEO: China's ice castles open to public

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:19
Some of the world's most breathtaking ice sculptures went on display on Monday at the 31st International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China.

Podolski seals Inter loan switch

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:16
Lukas Podolski seals a move from Arsenal to Inter Milan, joining the Italian side on loan until the end of the season.

UKIP man sent in 'forged signatures'

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:14
A UKIP parliamentary candidate submitted county council election nomination forms with forged signatures, a court hears.

Rival Pegida rallies held in Germany

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:08
Rallies for and against the "anti-Islamisation" group Pegida are underway in a number of German cities, with thousands expected to take part.

Film crew driver nearly killed friend

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 09:06
A film crew member who almost killed a friend while driving a lorry after a drunken staff party is spared jail.

Birdman and Boyhood up for awards

BBC - Mon, 2015-01-05 08:56
Broadway satire Birdman and coming-of-age tale Boyhood are among the 10 films up for the Producers Guild of America's version of a best picture prize.

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