National News

Chicago Cubs Legend Ernie Banks, 1st Black Player In Team History, Dies

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 21:00

The shortstop known as "Mr. Cub," who began his career in the Negro leagues, hit 512 home runs in his 19 seasons with the team and remained a cherished figure to the team and its fans. He was 83.

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4-Year Prison Term For Colorado Woman Over Plot To Join ISIS

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 17:01

When she was arrested, Conley was living in the Denver suburb of Arvada. She told FBI agents that she planned to live with a man in Syria and be a camp nurse for ISIS there.

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Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 15:17

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.

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'Modern Farmer' Owner Says It Will Live On, Despite Staff Exit

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 15:04

Several people associated with Modern Farmer tweeted their farewells to the magazine that became known for printing arch photos of handsome animals and writing audacious headlines.

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Tax lobbyists: A growth industry in nation's capital

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-23 14:35

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew acknowledged yesterday the differences in viewpoints of Democrats and Republicans on the issue of individual taxes. This came in response to President Obama’s State of the Union in which he proposed raising taxes on the rich and giving the middle class a break. However, when it comes to business, Lew believes we should be able to find a broad set of tax reforms to agree on.

Whatever winds up happening, you can bet there will be a lobbyist pushing for it … or against it. Kelsey Snell has a piece in Politico called “Tax reform dead? Don’t tell the lobbyists.”

Tax lobbying is stronger than ever and has surpassed healthcare lobbying in the past few years.

“It’s been pent-up demand and the conversation has really heated up over the past couple of years,” Snell says. 

A wide range of people want to make sure they get heard on Capitol Hill, and they are spending anywhere from $500 to $100,000 per quarter.

Companies are spending big money on lobbying now, banking on returns far into the future.

“It’s kind of a game of chess here. You’re deciding if you want to invest up front. It’s like buying insurance almost. Say you come out in a bad way in this tax reform. Say you wind up having to pay a couple percent more this year. It’s not just this year. It’s until they decide to write the tax code again and there’s really no certainty as to when that might be,” Snell says.  

Supreme Court Agrees To Rule On Constitutionality Of Execution Drug Cocktail

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 13:59

Three Oklahoma inmates say they face the risk of extreme suffering, which would violate the Eighth Amendment.

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Auto Loan Surge Fuels Fears Of Another Subprime Crisis

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 13:44

Dealers are extending loans to a growing number of people with weak credit, and more of them are having trouble making payments. The situation is evoking comparisons to the subprime mortgage boom.

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In Recruitment Effort, Akron Police Seeks To Mirror The Community

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 13:06

The city's recruitment effort has a very different feel from years past as it tries to attract more diverse candidates. The force is 80 percent white; the population is more than 30 percent black.

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UVA Sororities Push To Host Their Own Parties

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 13:06

Audie Cornish talks to Nicolette Gendron, a member of Kappa Alpha Beta Sorority at the University of Virginia and a writer for the C-Ville Weekly.

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Money can buy you less unhappiness

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:52

Maybe once and for all we can settle the whole "can money buy you happiness" conundrum.

The answer, once you do the regression analysis and adjust for other factors, is that having more money does reduce unhappiness, according to a study in the journal "Social Psychology & Personality Science."

But here's the catch: Having more money doesn't increase happiness.

Seems it all revolves around something social scientists call negativity bias, which states that we — being humans — are more likely to remember negative experiences over positive ones.


New Generation Of Saudi Royals In Line To Run Country

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:49

For 62 years, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by sons of the founder of the Kingdom, Abdul Aziz. Robert Siegel talks to Middle East specialist Joseph Braude about Saudi succession.

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Why Greece stays in the eurozone

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:48

In his last speech of the Greek election campaign, Alexis Tsipras – youthful leader of the far-left Syriza party – rallied  his supporters with fiery rhetoric. “Rise up, raise your fists, end this national humiliation and stop taking orders from abroad,” roared the potential next prime minister of Greece.

His words were aimed at Greek voters as well as the country’s biggest international creditors: the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Tsipras is promising that if he wins power in Sunday’s vote, he will end Greece’s era of austerity. He pledges to roll back some public spending cuts imposed on the country by the EU and the IMF as part of a $280 billion bailout deal and says he will try to renegotiate and soften some terms of the loan agreements. This would put him on a collision course with Europe’s most powerful economy, Germany.

Many Greeks – including those who do not support Tsipras and his Syriza party – agree that the rest of Europe should cut Greece some slack.

“Austerity measures have brought us unemployment, poverty and unbearable social stress. The suicide rate has gone up by 40 percent,” says Dr. Dimitris  Papademetriadis, a psychiatrist. “We believe the debt should be shared among our European partners. Being part of a European family means taking care of each other. That’s what family is all about.”

The trouble is that members of this  family – the eurozone – don’t speak the same language. When the Greek prime minister went to Berlin and asked for “debt relief,” German leader Angela Merkel asked for the phrase to be translated. When it was, she said: “It doesn’t sound so good in German.”

In spite of Merkel’s lack of sympathy for Greece, the Greeks still seem to love the euro.  A total of 92 percent are in favor of the eurozone, according to a recent poll. The mystery of this attachment deepens when you consider the impact of the EU/IMF austerity measures on the Greek economy. Output  has shrunk by a quarter. Unemployment has soared to 27 percent. And 10 percent of Athenians depend on charities for their food.

Many economists argue that Greece’s problems have been exacerbated by eurozone membership because the country has been unable to make itself more competitive by devaluing its own currency . 

Two powerful factors bolster Greek support for continued euro membership. First, many Greeks trust European officials and institutions more than their own politicians. And second, many fear the financial turmoil that crashing out of the single currency would entail. Former government minister Adonis Georgiadis says that exiting the eurozone would  be like trying to change airlines midflight.

“You enter the plane and the plane is in the air, you cannot change your mind.  If you open the door and say: I want to go to the other airline you will be destroyed. This is the euro. We entered. We stay,” he says.

If Syriza gets its hands on the controls in Sunday’s election, it could be one bumpy ride.


Study Finds Huge Disparities In Costs Of Common Surgeries

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:41

Robert Siegel talks to Maureen Sullivan, senior vice president of strategic services and chief strategy officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which did the study.

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U.S.-Cuba Talks First Step In Long Process Of Restoring Relations

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:35

U.S. diplomats have wrapped up two days of talks with Cuban officials — the highest-level meeting in 35 years. The aim is to start talking through how to restore diplomatic relations following the historic warming of ties announced last month by President Obama and President Raul Castro.

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Paris Attacks Refocus Attention On Homegrown Terrorist Threats

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:35

Thousands of European men and women have traveled to Syria to fight, and some have returned home — possibly battle hardened. The concern is that they haven't come back to resume their lives, but instead have been dispatched by al Qaida or the so-called Islamic State to attack the West.

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U.S. Careful Amid Turmoil And Transition In Yemen, Saudi Arabia

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:35

The White House is facing uncertainty in the wake of political turmoil in Yemen and political transition in Saudi Arabia.

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International Criminal Court To Try Former Child Soldier With War Crimes

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:35

The international criminal court in the Hague was founded to prosecute those who commit war crimes — particularly the crime of abducting and conscripting children as soldiers. But for the first time in that court's 15 year history, it's putting on trial a man who was once a victim of that same crime.

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Investigation Into Paris Attack Leads Authorities To Spain

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:35

In the wake of attacks in Paris, part of the investigation into terror cells in Europe has led to Spain. One of the Paris gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly, is believed to have visited Madrid in the days before he burst into a kosher market, killing four people.

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DNA Exonerates Man Who Served Nearly 40 Years For Murder

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:30

Joseph Sledge, now 70, spent 37 years in prison for a crime that a three-judge panel said today he did not commit.

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Iowa Freedom Summit Looks Something Like 2016 Is Underway

NPR News - Fri, 2015-01-23 12:23

Republican presidential contenders have converged in Des Moines for the Iowa Freedom Summit, an event hosted by conservative lightning rod Steve King.

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