National / International News

Reaction To Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby's Remarks

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:42

On Friday, Mosby announced that the death of Freddie Gray was a homicide. She is charging the city police officers with a range of offenses — including second-degree murder and manslaughter.

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Urine For A Surprise: Your Pee Might Reveal Your Risk For Obesity

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:30

There are clues about your activity level and metabolism in urine. Researchers hope to one day predict obesity risk by tracking the different levels and ratios of certain molecules in pee.

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Your Wallet: What are you chasing?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:21

What are you chasing in your financial life? Retirement? Savings?

Will you catch it? Tell us about your race.

You can write to us here

Or on Marketplace's Facebook page.

Or on twitter ... We're at @MarketplaceWKND


Love rival killer jailed for stabbing

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:12
A man who killed a minicab dispatcher in a "ferocious" attack in a row over a woman in east London is jailed for 28 years.

Police give new Harris evidence to CPS

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:12
A "full file" of further allegations against entertainer Rolf Harris is being considered by prosecutors, the BBC understands.

VIDEO: Could this battery end energy bills?

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:11
Telsa Motors, the US company which makes electric cars, has unveiled a new battery it says can power homes using solar panels.

Trott not suited as opener - Boycott

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:09
Jonathan Trott should be replaced as an England opener after another duck, says Geoffrey Boycott.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Unveils Home Battery — Is $3,000 Cheap Enough?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:05

With a sleek surface and a depth of only about half a foot, the Powerwall can be mounted on a garage wall or another surface, indoors or outside.

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Building a more accessible home, no matter your budget

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:02

When Staff Sergeant Matt Dewitt came home from Iraq, what he wanted most was to be able to take care of his family — to live comfortably at home with his wife and two young children, taking care of them as he always had. But the war left him wounded — both of his arms were amputated below the elbow.

Staff Sergeant Matt Dewitt. 

Courtesy This Old House

In his former home, day-to-day tasks became harder than usual. Simple things, like giving his kids a bath, were impossible; Dewitt couldn't independently use the spigots or change the water temperature. 

Dewitt's story echoes that of many people who, after an injury, illness or onset of disability changes their life, find themselves seeking a more accessibly designed home. 

In Dewitt's case, the solution was a new home, built through a joint effort by the nonprofit Homes For Our Troops and PBS's "This Old House."

Armed with about $400,000 from Homes For Our Troops, the "This Old House" team built the Dewitt family a new home from the ground up. The entire house was designed with accessibility in mind: keyless entry, touchless faucets, temperature sensors, and rooms and showers without thresholds. Building this way uses a principal called Universal Design, and includes modifications meant to meet a wide variety of needs. 

The Dewitt home. 

Courtesy This Old House

"This Old House" host Kevin O'Connor says building or modifying a home to meet the needs of a person with a disability is a complex process.

"The first thing that really should happen with any renovation is to do an assessment," he says. "You want to actually figure out: what are their needs? Are they in a wheelchair? If they're not now, will they be in the future? Are they an amputee? Do they have a caregiver with them, and is that caregiver there part-time, or full-time?"

O'Connor says the best assessments are done alongside a healthcare provider — a doctor or therapist who can speak to their patient's specific needs and make sure they're being met, with the goal that someone can live in their home "comfortably and independently."

For people adapting their home without help from outside groups or grants, modifications can be expensive. O'Connor says that there's a wide range of costs for renovations, the most expensive of which involves making a two-story house wheelchair accessible with an elevator or lift. 

Fernando Hernandez, who was paralyzed at 19 by a tumor on his spine, has dealt with a broad spectrum of adaptations with varying costs.

When he first started using his wheelchair, Hernandez was attending USC, and he moved from his apartment into an accessible dorm. His family moved into a more accessible house, but it still had two stories, so they spent about $17,000 on a lift. Other modifications to that home brought the grand total closer to $30,000. 

When Hernandez moved into his own home three years ago, he was working with a much different budget.

"I wanted to do very little modification to the house," he says. "I definitely was looking for a one story house, and wide door openings, and an open concept house."

Hernandez modified his home by adding a few short plywood ramps his friend built to help him go more smoothly over thresholds and small steps. Instead of widening his doorways — something O'Connor says can cost about $450 per door — he bought special hinges for about $5 each. They pull the door outside of the frame, allowing a few inches of extra space to get through in a wheelchair, something that Hernandez says is important to him, since he's six-foot-six. 

Hernandez made his home more accessible with aesthetics in mind, and some of his favorite accessible furniture wasn't made especially for people in wheelchairs, but serves two purposes. His headboard, for example, includes a bar to help him transfer in and out of bed, and his dining table is pedestal style, so he can roll right up to any spot. As accessible design becomes more mainstream, people designing and furnishing homes with accessibility in mind have more options, and lower costs.

One exception? The bathroom.

"The bathroom is one of the big areas that does require quite a bit of expense," Hernandez says, "and definitely money well spent if you do all the safety things that you need to."

In his bathroom, Hernandez has a shower bench, a couple grab bars for stability and a wheelchair bathroom bench, which sits over the toilet. Hernandez says that even the bathroom renovations were doable on a DIY budget: grab bars cost about $25 to $100, depending on size and type, and his shower bench was about $100. 

O'Connor says even for people without disabilities, renovating accessibly is important, and is becoming more so as people purchase homes with plans to stay there as they age.

"Right now in this country, there are well over 40 million people who are 65 or older, and in my experience, that is the population that is driving these changes." O'Connor says. "It's making people think 'Hey, if we're going to renovate, maybe we should get rid of the bathtub, and maybe we should put in a curb-less shower'...and we are seeing that from perfectly able-bodied young people thinking forward. These changes are coming to the American home."

As accessibility in the present and the future becomes more important to people, universal design becomes more prevalent in buildings and houses. Universal design is the reason behind the increase in the number of homes with master bed and bathroom suites on the ground floor. It includes touches as obvious as open floor plans and as small as paddle door handles, which may be easier on arthritic hands than round knobs. 

O'Connor says that big building companies are already taking note, and that accessible options are out there for people who want them.

"There's no doubt about it that this is already there," O'Connor says. "People probably don't even know that they are buying features that would be considered universal design."

To learn more about the Dewitt home and the "This Old House" veterans project, tune in to "This Old House" on PBS starting May 14. 

Land a job with help from virtual reality

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 10:01

Albert "Skip" Rizzo is a pioneer in virtual technology. His newest program is the the Virtual Interactive Training Agent, or VITA.

It was developed by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, in partnership with the Dan Marino Foundation. The interactive aims to help people navigate a job interview. For people on the autism spectrum, Rizzo says, job interviews can be particularly daunting.

VITA helps people practice questions with a virtual interviewer.

"We can set them to have three different behavioral dispositions. They can be that really nice, light-touch job interviewer, the neutral interviewer or the real stress interviewer — the real son-of-a-B," Rizzo says. "We can have people practice how they will respond to these types of characters under a range of conditions."

Aaron Brown-Coats went through the VITA program as part of the curriculum at the Dan Marino Foundation, and says working with the virtual characters helped change the way he interacts at his own job.

Play vital for children, says Hunt

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 09:45
Children are arriving at school unable to speak properly because parents are not playing and talking to them enough, Labour's Tristram Hunt has said.

Baltimore Mayor: 'No One Is Above The Law In Our City'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 09:37

As Stephanie Rawlings-Blake spoke, people in west Baltimore celebrated. The mayor also instructed her police chief to suspend all officers facing felony charges.

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Army to hand over 'rescued' Nigerians

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 09:20
The Nigerian military is expected to hand over nearly 300 people rescued from Boko Haram camps, so they can receive treatment and see their families.

VIDEO: Election deal or no deal?

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 09:19
The parties' red lines on post-election deals and other campaign happenings

Congo bans Islamic face veil

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 08:58
Congo-Brazzaville bans people from wearing the full-face Islamic veil in public places, saying it is to counter extremism.

Pillars Of Creation May Be Gone In 'An Eye Blink In Cosmic Time'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 08:56

That, in case you're wondering, is another 3 million years. Astronomers made that calculation after producing the first 3-D view of the pillars made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope.

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UKIP man suspended over Jewish slur

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 08:50
The UK Independence Party suspends a parliamentary candidate over a Jewish slur sent to the Labour candidate from his Twitter account.

10 things we didn't know last week

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 08:26
How many trees would be needed to print out the internet?

Is it better to have leaders who are too old or too young?

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 08:15
Is it better to have leaders who are too old or too young?

Bodies found in Thailand jungle camp

BBC - Fri, 2015-05-01 08:12
Police in Thailand have found dozens of graves in an abandoned jungle camp in southern Thailand, on a route regularly used by people smugglers.