National News

Startling Statistic: Only 8 Patients In Largest Ebola Hospital

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 10:20

The hospital in Liberia was erected this summer in a field. It has 250 beds. It was full as recently as October. Now it is nearly empty.

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Under Executive Action, Immigrants Are Entitled To Social Security Benefits

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 10:03

Immigrants protected under President Obama's executive action will, after working for 10 years, be eligible for retirement benefits.

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Earliest Human Engraving Or Trash From An Ancient Lunch?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 09:03

Carved zigzag marks on a shell found more than a century ago have drawn new interest from archaeologists. The half-million-year-old lines aren't from an animal, and might be art from Homo erectus.

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Want To Perk Up Your Love Life? Put Away That Smartphone

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 08:21

Sure, you just wanted to take a peek at Facebook. But that can chill a relationship, a study finds, especially if you and your love aren't on the same page about when it's okay to use technology.

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Federal Court Halts Execution Of Mentally Ill Texas Prisoner

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 08:20

Scott Panetti was diagnosed with the beginnings of schizophrenia. During his trial, he defended himself dressed as a cowboy insisting he was a character from a John Wayne movie.

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Our Ability To Digest Alcohol May Have Been Key To Our Survival

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 08:19

Our primate ancestors were consuming alcohol 10 million years ago in the form of fermented fruit, researchers have discovered. The finding suggests our relationship with alcohol is ancient.

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Takata Back On Capitol Hill After Deadline To Widen Air Bag Recall Passes

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 07:16

Federal regulators had given Takata Corp. until Tuesday to widen its recall of air bags to the entire U.S., but the Japanese company appeared to ignore that demand.

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World Premiere Videos: Wilbur Dunks A Chicken, Digs Into Indian Food

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 07:12

We proudly present the world premiere of two videos by India's first YouTube star. Life in his father's home village will be celebrated. And yes, a chicken will take a bath.

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Kalashnikov's New Slogan? 'Weapons Of Peace'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 05:42

Millions of Kalashnikov's AK-47 have found their way to battlefields across the globe. With the new branding, the company hopes to expand its business domestically and internationally.

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Quiz: Teen tobacco trends

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-03 04:25

Cigarette smoking among American middle and high school students is on the decline, but use of other tobacco products follows a different trend, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Kerry: Coalition Offensive Against ISIS Having 'Significant Impact'

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 04:17

Meeting with other countries who joined the first against the Islamic State, Secretary of State John Kerry said their commitment will be measured in years.

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Storm Brings Much Needed Rain To Southern California

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 03:11

The rain led to fears of mudslides and evacuation orders, but after a drought that's going into its fourth year, the rain was a welcome sight.

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PODCAST: To your right, a lawsuit

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-03 03:00

Given new data today, let's give the job market a B-Plus. Today a private sector count of American payrolls showed some strength, even if it wasn't spectacular. More on that. Plus, the publishing company Billboard will be releasing a new top 200 record album chart tomorrow. And for the first time, the rankings include data from downloads and music streamed digitally. And last up, the first amendment says the government can't limit free speech. Except when it can. For instance, you can't yell fire in a crowded movie theater if there's no fire. And what about tour guides who want to speak aloud about local attractions? The guides at some vacation spots are suing their cities for making them get a license. As we find out, claiming the licensing infringes on their First Amendment rights.

The Billboard 200 will now account for streamed music

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-03 02:00

When Billboard releases its list of the week’s top-selling 200 albums Thursday, for the first time the rankings will factor in how often songs have been streamed and downloaded. 

That will be welcome news for Richard Laing, head of sales for the record label Sub Pop. He says many of the label's artists, including bands like The Album Leaf, may sell few albums, but do well online. The Album Leaf, for instance, has millions of plays on streaming services like Spotify.

Laing says Billboard's new formula could bring more recognition to bands like The Album Leaf. Billboard is creating a new industry standard that “reflects people's behavior a little more closely,” he says,  and better captures “how people are consuming music.” 

More people than ever are streaming music. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), steaming audio brought in 27 percent of music industry revenue during the first half of the year. During that same period, physical album sales declined 14 percent and downloads dropped 12 percent. 

Paul Resnikoff runs the blog Digital Music News. He says Billboard's new metrics probably won’t change album rankings too much. Major artists get traction across almost every platform, he says, so if you were a superstar before streaming was counted, you’ll be a superstar after it’s counted, too. 

In fact, says Resnikoff,  top albums may stay at the top a little longer because of the changes. Right now, he says, records typically get a big bump directly after the album release date. With streaming in the mix, they could get another bump if people keep listening online. 

 

Does the First Amendment apply to tour guides?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-03 02:00

On mild days along the Georgia Coast, you’ll find “Savannah Dan” leading tours of the city’s downtown historic district. Dan Leger is easy to spot in his traditional Southern garb of a straw hat, bow tie, and seersucker suit.

Leger is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by tour guides in several popular vacation spots. Savannah, Georgia and some other cities require tour guides to obtain a special license to give tours. The plaintiffs say that violates their First-Amendment free speech rights.

Savannah’s requirements — take a test, get a health exam, and pass a criminal background check — are time-consuming and unnecessary, says Leger.

“What my physical fitness has to do with walking around and telling stories, I have no idea,” he says.

Officials with City of Savannah say these requirements protect tourists’ safety, and ensure that guides have at least a minimum knowledge of the city’s history and architecture.

But the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm, is challenging the law and similar ones in New Orleans, and Washington, D.C. Senior attorney Robert McNamara says the cases test whether or not Americans have the basic right to speak for a living. McNamara says the market, rather than the government, should decide if a tour company stays in business.

“We pay people to give lectures; we pay people to tutor us in math; we pay people to talk on the radio,” he says. “And no serious person believes that those people are somehow outside the first amendment.”

In Washington, D.C, officials say the issue is not free speech, but consumer protection. Matt Orlins is a Legislative and Public Affairs Officer with the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

“The licensure requirement is not there to judge whether someone provides a good tour or a bad tour,” Orlins says. “They’re there to ensure that you’re complying with the law.”

The District of Columbia has dropped its requirement that tour guides take content tests to prove their knowledge of the city. But guides still must have a license — at least for now.  The Institute for Justice is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on whether licenses for tour guides are constitutional.

 

 

Supreme Court hears pregnancy case

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-03 02:00

The Supreme Court is hearing a pregnancy discrimination case Wednesday that involves a woman who sued the United Parcel Service. 

Lower courts have basically dismissed the lawsuit, brought by former UPS worker Peggy Young. Still, businesses are paying attention to this case.

“I’m not getting anybody that’s freaking out right now,” says Steve Hirschfeld, an employment lawyer and partner at Hirschfeld Kraemer in San Francisco. But he says clients are wondering what’ll happen if Young wins. “Are we going to need to hire somebody on a temporary basis, or temporarily move this person to another job? For very small companies, that can be very, very difficult to do.”

He says the biggest cost for employers if Peggy Young wins would be an avalanche of pregnancy discrimination lawsuits. Other employment lawyers say, not necessarily. 

Katherine Kimpel represents workers in discrimination cases as D.C. managing partner at Sanford Heisler. She filed a friend of the court brief in support of Young. She says pregnant workers feel vulnerable, and aren't likely to file lawsuits, even if Young wins.

Kimpel also says many pregnant workers request accommodations that cost almost nothing.

“Things like being able to keep a water bottle with them," she says. "Or having—if they work at a cash register—having a stool.”

And Kimpel says, accommodating pregnant workers makes good business sense, because it helps companies retain their workers. 

Breaking YouTube, Gangnam Style

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-12-03 01:30
27 percent

That's the percentage of music industry revenue brought in during the first half of the year by streaming music alone. It's become significant enough that on Thursday, the Billboard 200 will start accounting for streaming data in its calculation of top selling albums.

3,803

The number of Sony Pictures employees whose names, birthdays and social security numbers were revealed in the recent hack at Sony Pictures. Payroll, layoffs and other sensitive information were dumped online, Fusion reported, most of it in simple, unencrypted spreadsheets. The documents show an apparent pay gap; Columbia Pictures' male co-president is slated to earn 1.5 times more than his female counterpart. 

$15,000 to $100,000

That's the range of bonuses being given out by a top New York law firm, as reported by the New York Times. Some say the increase in bonuses signals a return of corporate America, as more money is being spent on mergers and acquisitions.

November 25

The day two New York Times reporters covering unrest in Ferguson abruptly stopped tweeting. It was the same day conservative journalist Charles C. Johnson published their addresses on his website, Bloomberg reported. The move was retaliation for a Times story that mentioned the general location of Officer Darren Wilson's home, which had been unoccupied for weeks. The ensuing harassment was predicated on the assumption that the paper had published Wilson's actual address.

2.1 billion views

Entertainment sensation PSY has done the unthinkable: he broke YouTube. Well, sort of. The site announced that it never anticipated a single video receiving so many views, and had to install an update that would properly display the needed amount of commas. PSY's 'Gangnam Style' currently has 2.1 billion views.

18 years

The lifespan of Microsoft clip art, the illustrations that jazzed up countless fliers, book reports and holiday cards during the 90s and early 2000s. Microsoft has finally killed them off in favor of Bing image search this week. The Verge has a look back at the best clip art from the art form's heyday.

Is 'Womenomics' The Answer To Japan's Economic Woes?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 01:05

The government has set up a female lumberjacks program, part of a wider effort to fuel growth after long-term stagnation. But critics of 'womenomics' say it does little to tackle fundamental problems.

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Did UPS Discriminate Against A Pregnant Worker By Letting Her Go?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-12-03 00:03

When Peggy Young became pregnant, her doctor recommended not lifting more than 20 pounds and she lost her job. Now a federal law banning pregnancy discrimination faces a test before the Supreme Court.

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CDC Considers Counseling Males Of All Ages On Circumcision

NPR News - Tue, 2014-12-02 23:24

Citing the reduced risk of HIV and other sexually acquired diseases, the federal agency suggests that health care providers should discuss circumcision with parents of infants, teenage boys and men.

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