National News

Brogrammers give up some ground in comp-sci classes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 10:58

Computer science is still a brogrammer’s world. But efforts to bring more girls and minorities into the field may finally be paying off.

According to the College Board, which administers Advanced Placement tests to high schoolers, the number of girls taking the AP computer science test in 2014 increased by 35.5 percent over last year. For boys, the increase was 24.5 percent.  While the participation for white students grew by 21.6 percent from 2013, the  rates of increase were even larger in other racial categories, including for non-Mexican Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and those who described their race as “other.”

Students who do well enough on the exam earn college credit for the course.

The College Board itself may be partly responsible for the increase. In collaboration with Google, it brought roughly 500 new AP math and science courses to schools with populations that are underrepresented in the STEM fields. One College Board official called the AP results the “first real indication of progress” for girls and minorities in years.

How can tech companies diversify their workforces?

The exam is still dominated by boys, specifically white and Asian ones.  And while the percentage of male test-takers dropped to its lowest level in five years in 2014, overall they still accounted for 80 percent of all students taking the test.

Similarly, while the percentage of white students who took the test dropped to its lowest rate in the last five years, white students still make up 50.4 percent of all test-takers.

The numbers are preliminary; the results of some make-up tests have not yet been recorded, according to Trevor Packer, who runs the AP program at the College Board.

The charts below show  the number of boys and girls who took the test from 2010 to 2014, as well as the increased participation rates by race.  

 

 

 

This Suit Keeps Ebola Out — So How Can A Health Worker Catch It?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 10:58

The head-to-toe protective gear is designed to prevent Ebola from infecting health care workers, yet some do contract the disease. It's not the suit's fault. It's likely a case of human error.

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U.S.: Russia-Based Artillery Targeting Ukrainian Troops

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 10:46

The State Department says it has evidence that Moscow is lobbing artillery across its border at Ukrainian government forces, and that the Kremlin plans to ship rocket artillery to the rebels.

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Central American Presidents Say U.S. Shares Responsibility For Migration Crisis

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 10:38

The presidents of Honduras and Guatemala also called for more aggressive cooperation with the U.S. to curb the violence and poverty they say is driving child migrants to the U.S.

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Kai Ryssdal vs. the American Girl Store

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 10:26

Walk into an American Girl store - any American Girl store - and you'll see different shades of pink. Everywhere. That, and dolls, which cost a minimum of $110. Accessories and services like ear-piercing cost more.

American Girl has been around since the 1980s. Their dolls started out as historical characters, who starred in accompanying books about significant periods in American history. Over the years, the line has expanded to include more contemporary characters.

Jean McKenzie, the woman who runs American Girl for its parent company, Mattel, says parents see the dolls as an investment. "I think they feel good about it because it’s quality and there’s just a lot of meaning behind it.”

She took Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal on a tour of her store, at The Grove in Los Angeles  He's ... well, you should just watch:

Video produced by Preditorial

Director: Rick Kent

Producer: Mimi Kent

Director of Photography: Anton Seim

Editor: Zachary Rockwood

Music: "Run Amok" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Human Rights Watch Researcher Reports ISIS Abuses In Iraq

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 10:26

Letta Tayler recently returned from Iraq, where she documented stories about the militant Islamist group ISIS and abuses by the Iraqi government. She tells Fresh Air what she learned.

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Zoo In Argentina Says 'Sad Bear' Too Old To Go To Canada

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 09:01

The plight of the nearly 30-year-old polar bear, who lost his enclosure mate two years ago, has attracted attention from well-wishers the world over who want him moved.

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A fund to invest more in rural infrastructure

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-24 08:57

Parts of rural America might be getting an infrastructure upgrade.

The Department of Agriculture is partnering with the private sector to launch a new investment fund stocked with $10 billion to go toward rural infrastructure development.

The idea is to bundle projects together so investors can more easily fund them, ranging from schools and hospitals to wastewater treatment facilities or even broadband.

For example, the state of Georgia exports nearly 30 percent of its agricultural products, according to Kent Wolfe, director of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the University of Georgia.

“In order to get those products to the port and compete on a global basis, we need to make sure that we have an efficient transportation system, requiring additional funds in rails, roadways, and port facilities,” Wolfe says, describing the type of investment his area might benefit from.

Especially in more rural locations, communities simply can’t afford to do these large projects on their own.

“Rural areas often have farmland and lower cost rural housing and that’s about it to tax,” says Larry DeBoer, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University. “In order to do a big project, the tax rates you’d need to do this sort of thing at normal interest rates would be quite high.”

CoBank, a national cooperative bank based in Colorado, is putting up the first $10 billion, though the Department of Agriculture is seeking additional funding from other private sources, like pension funds, endowments, and foundations.

The agency will then act as the matchmaker, finding projects for this fund to invest it. Some loans will be all private money, others a mix of private and public funding.

Syrian President Issues New Stamps, But Can't Deliver The Mail

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 08:55

The set of three stamps commemorates Bashar Assad's recent presidential election victory. But what seems like a mundane occurrence says a lot about power in the war-torn country.

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When Federal Privacy Laws Protect Hospitals Instead Of Patients

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 07:43

A 1996 law has been cited to scold a mom taking a picture of her son in a hospital and to keep information away from police investigating a possible rape at a nursing home.

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Ukraine's Prime Minister Quits After Allies Withdraw From Coalition

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 07:42

The Svoboda and Udar parties pulled out of the governing coalition, prompting Arseniy Yatsenyuk's decision. Parliament's speaker said it was up to the two parties to name a temporary prime minister.

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Globe-Trotting Virus Hides Inside People's Gut Bacteria

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 07:32

Scientists have discovered what may be the most common virus in people worldwide. The tiny critter doesn't make us sick but may be involved in obesity and diabetes.

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European Court Rules Against Poland In CIA 'Black Sites' Case

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 07:08

The European Court of Human Rights said Poland broke the European human rights convention by allowing the CIA to imprison and torture two terrorism suspects in secret prisons on its soil.

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U.S. Database Glitch Delays Passport, Visa Processing

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 07:01

The problem in the U.S. State Department system could cause problems for millions of people worldwide who are awaiting travel documents.

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Shades Of The Middle Ages: The Plague Popped Up In China And Colorado

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 06:47

Is this 2014 or 1348? The plague — yes, the infamous Black Death — was reported in China and Colorado. It's the same disease as the Middle Ages pandemic. Only now we know how to treat it.

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Israeli Artillery Hits U.N.-Run School In Gaza

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 06:44

More than a dozen people have been killed at the school used as a shelter in Beit Hanoun, according to Palestinian officials.

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Montana Sen. Walsh Says PTSD May Have Played A Role In His Plagiarism

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 05:28

Sen. John Walsh lifted at least a quarter of his United States Army War College master's thesis, according to a report in The New York Times. Walsh was appointed to the Senate in February.

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Iraq Elects Kurdish Politician To Ceremonial Post Of President

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 05:27

Fouad Massoum, who has a long history in Iraqi politics, took the oath of office vowing to protect the constitution and the unity of the country.

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Saving Lives In South Miami, One Pool At A Time

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 04:04

Swimming pool drowning rates among school-aged black children are more than five times higher than they are among white kids the same age.

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A Simple Way To Reduce Stroke Risk: Take Your Pulse

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-24 03:57

Most people can't tell when they're having the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation that puts them at risk of stroke. Simply learning to take your own pulse could help, researchers say.

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