National News

Documents Show FAA Questioned Mental Fitness of Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 12:32

Newly released documents show the FAA initially declined to give Andreas Lubitz a medical certificate for his U.S. pilot's license because of his history of depression.

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The Doctor Will Video Chat With You Now: Insurer Covers Virtual Visits

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 12:27

Medical consultation via video is going mainstream. UnitedHealthcare says it will cover doctors' visits by live video on smartphones, tablets and computers. Will people overuse it and boost costs?

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The Plan To Give E-Books To Poor Kids

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 12:18

Today, President Obama announced a massive effort with major publishers to make thousands of e-book titles free for low-income kids.

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The Transaction: a silver promise

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-30 12:03

Marketplace listener Carol Thompson received a birthday present from her husband Ted – a necklace with the etching “Heaven Has In Store What Thou Hast Lost.” It was a comforting message referring to a daughter who had passed away a few years before. The necklace arrived in the mail just days after her husband died unexpectedly, but receiving the necklace gave Carol a sense of peace.

'Uprising' Or 'Riot'? Depends Who's Watching

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 11:37

West Baltimore protests spark debate over how media portrays conflict.

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Can't Get A Job Because Of A Criminal Record? A Lawsuit Is Trying To Change That

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 11:26

People convicted of minor crimes years ago are suing to overturn a Pennsylvania law that bars them from working full time in nursing homes, locking them out of a fast-growing sector in the economy.

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A warehouse dash with Rent the Runway

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-30 11:24

Wednesday at Rent the Runway’s Secaucus warehouse is its busiest day of the week.  The company offers designer clothing as short-term rentals to its customers, at a fraction of the cost it would take to purchase the item. But since most of their customers are renting for events that take place on Saturday, Wednesday becomes the key day when items that have been rented are returned and need to be sent out again for the following weekend.

“You have to turn it around with essentially a zero day turn around time” says Rent the Runway’s co-founder and CEO, Jenn Hyman.

“If you go into any woman’s closet throughout the United States you’ll see that when you open the doors, most of the closet is black. It’s filled with black dresses and black tops. Why is that? Is that because women’s favorite color is black? No, it’s because it’s the most rational option,” explains Hyman.  “The whole point of Rent the Runway is to leave some of your common sense at home and actually try something printed or pink or sequined or fun, just because you can.”

Tobin Low

And sure enough, printed, pink, and sequined dresses fill the warehouse.

When the pre-stamped envelopes that the company provides to renters for returns begin to filter in to the warehouse, they’re scanned and sorted based on their contents. 

Tobin Low

If an item inside needs to be sent out that same day, it’s put into one bin; if it’s not needed just yet, it goes into another. The urgent envelopes are opened and the dresses and accessories inside are sent to be cleaned.

This is a huge undertaking. Luckily, Rent the Runway’s warehouse happens to be conveniently located near a dry-cleaner: their own. When Rent the Runway opened this Secaucus warehouse late last year, they became the largest dry cleaner in the United States.

Tobin Low

And if a stain or a spot needs to be removed, they have experienced workers like Nick, The Stain Guy, to help out.

Click below to hear Nick, The Stain Guy at work.

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The dresses are dry cleaned, and then sent on to a pool of about 50 seamstresses to mend anything that might be amiss. Some dresses are altered to fit the height of the customer who ordered them.

“One of the key insights that we had when we started the business was that women felt like they had to wear a new outfit for every occasion” says Hyman. She explains, “they had been photographed and that photograph was now up on Facebook and they couldn’t repeat their outfit.”

The company also offers a subscription service similar to Netflix. Users pay a flat monthly fee and receive three items at a time from their queue of dresses, accessories, and jewelry.

Many customers order multiple items – a dress in two sizes, and accessories.  The company’s software helps keep track of what’s missing from an order and when an order is complete, ready to be packaged and sent out. At the end of the day, at about 8pm, UPS picks up stacks of Rent the Runway boxes, ready to be shipped out.

Tobin Low

A large portion of the Secaucus warehouse is vacant but Hyman expects she’ll be expanding in to that area son enough. She has a grand vision for the Rent the Runway’s future.

“I believe that every woman in this country and later every woman in the world should have a subscription to fashion, just like you have a subscription to music or to entertainment and via that subscription, you would be able to just have fun with this amazing industry that we’re in.”

Health System Took Control To Make Joint Replacement More Profitable

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 11:21

Baptist Health System in San Antonio made money doing what used to be industry heresy: reducing patients' use of medical care.

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Why We Can't Take Chipotle's GMO Announcement All That Seriously

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 11:09

Chipotle says providing "food with integrity" means dropping genetically modified ingredients. But critics say the company's new policy is inconsistent and even dishonest.

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Expanding Medicaid Trims Hospitals' Costs Of Caring For Uninsured

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 10:46

One aim of Obamacare was to ease the financial strain on nonprofit hospitals that provide medical care to people who lack insurance and can't pay their bills. That plan is working, hospitals say.

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Drought In Calif. Creates Water Wars Between Farmers, Developers, Residents

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 10:36

Fresno native Mark Arax has written about the war over water in his state for decades. "It used to be the farmers against the delta smelt fish, and now it's the urbanite against the almond," he says.

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Small Plague Outbreak In People Tracked To Pit Bull

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 10:12

A woman who caught pneumonic plague in Colorado last summer likely contracted it from her friend or his dog. Antibiotics limited the outbreak to four people and cured them.

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How British Farmers Are Making Rapeseed (Canola) Posh And Flavorful

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 09:58

In the U.K., rapeseed is getting a royal treatment. It's called cold-pressing, and it's a method of processing the oilseed to bring out the best of its mustardy flavor.

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#TBT: Hoping For Presidency, Former Senator Throws Rock In Water

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 08:41

The 2008 presidential race was the first in the post-YouTube era. Candidates tried all kinds of things to break through, including former Sen. Mike Gravel simply throwing a rock in water.

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Baltimore Police Hand Freddie Gray Investigation Report To Prosecutors

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 08:36

A Baltimore Police Department task force found the van transporting Gray made one more stop than originally thought.

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Astronaut Chris Hadfield on living above the sky

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-30 08:00

The sky's not the limit for Commander Chris Hadfield, a retired Canadian astronaut. For him, it's just the start of everything else.

Hadfield spent more than 150 days living in space, the bulk of it during a three-month stint at the International Space Station where six astronauts from countries all over the world live and work.

Hadfield's time in space coincided with a change in social media and communications. During his first space voyages in 1995 and 2001, there was no way for Hadfield to relay information about his experiences while in space. But, by the time he got to the ISS in 2013, improvements in technology and huge leaps in social media interaction made it possible for him to keep in touch: on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.



Hadfield says when it comes to living in space, there has been significant change. People from 15 different countries left Earth in November of 2000.

"For the last 14 years, we have permanently been living off the planet, and when I say we, I mean humanity," he says. "Once you start permanently settling somewhere, then it really just becomes a new part of human culture."

That culture is still in early development, but it is growing as more stories start coming back from space. The ISS, for instance, is now home to a guitar and an espresso machine. Astronauts are becoming more accustomed to sending videos home, and telling people on Earth about their out-of-this-world lives. Soon space culture will include an album of folk music Hadfield recorded in space.

He compares space exploration to early settlers of undiscovered continents.

"When the first settlers came across the Bering Strait 20,000 years ago from Asia, their culture changed the place and defined the people themselves, and we're just getting into that stage of leaving Earth in space," he says.

So where to next from the ISS?

"It will go eventually from the space station to the moon, over the next few generations, and from the moon eventually to Mars, just as we've spread over the whole surface of the Earth," Hadfield says.

Kill The Messenger: NASA Orbiter Set To Crash Into Mercury Thursday

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 07:41

Messenger was launched from Earth back in 2004. After 4,104 orbits of Mercury and billions of miles of space travel, the orbiter will end its mission with a quiet bang Thursday.

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France Investigates Claims Its Soldiers Abused Children In Africa

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 07:38

President Francois Hollande warns of consequences if the allegations about the abuse in the Central African Republic are true. The U.N. worker who publicly revealed the abuse has been suspended.

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A Forgotten Tradition: May-Basket Day

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 07:38

For at least a century or so, April flowers led to showers of May-baskets on the front-door knobs of American homes.

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The Great Success And Enduring Dilemma Of Cervical Cancer Screening

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 07:28

The Pap smear has dramatically decreased rates of cervical cancer, but testing too often has a downside, too. Many women say they aren't yet ready to follow new guidelines and skip the annual tests.

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