National News

Preachers Call For Compassion In Dealing With Immigrant Surge

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 09:05

Host Michel Martin speaks with religious leaders about how faith organizations are responding to the recent surge of immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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eBay and Sotheby's join forces again

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-14 09:00

eBay and Sotheby’s want you to buy more high-end stuff (from them, of course). So, they're marrying Sotheby’s cache and eBay’s technological know-how.

eBay is creating a new marketplace where it will stream some of Sotheby’s New York auctions, so customers can bid online. The idea is to reach new, younger consumers, who'd never go to an auction.

“You’ve got millennials who are starting to make  some money, and they’ve grown up around this technology, and would find it silly to go somewhere to do something like this,” says Paula Rosenblum, a managing partner with RSR Research.

Sotheby’s can just piggy back on eBay’s existing technology, the question is: What’s in it for eBay? 

“There’s never any harm from having a venerable brand like Sotheby’s sprinkle some of its pixie dust, hopefully, onto eBay,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst with Forrester Research.

Mulpuru says eBay wants to attract more affluent consumers to its site. But they won’t be able to use PayPal for their new paintings and purses - at least not right away.  

 The two companies tried a partnership a dozen years ago, but it didn’t work. They're hoping this time will be different.

In Nigeria, Malala Calls For Release Of Kidnapped Schoolgirls

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 08:56

Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has drawn renewed attention to the plight of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped in April, but their release appears no more imminent.

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Church Of England Will Allow Women To Serve As Bishops

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 08:19

More than 20 years after first allowing women to serve as priests, the church voted to ordain women as bishops. A similar proposal had been narrowly defeated in 2012.

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Relics Of The Patron Saint Of Immigrants Take A Pilgrimage

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 08:07

This month, Saint Toribio Romo's relics will be displayed in churches around California. His spirit is said to guide, feed and shelter immigrants as they journey across the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Pathogens On A Plane: How To Stay Healthy In Flight

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 08:05

We all think of airplanes as hotbeds for diseases. But how easily do pathogens spread on jets? One travel doctor explains what he does to keep from bringing home microbial stowaways.

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Why Are Obstetricians Top Billers For Group Therapy In Illinois?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 08:03

Illinois leads the U.S. in group psychotherapy sessions for Medicare patients. Some top billers aren't mental health specialists. The state's Medicaid program has cracked down, but the feds haven't.

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Another Former Champion Abandons Tour De France After Crash

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 07:56

Alberto Contador apparently hit something in the road, sending him into a crash so violent that it tore his shoe apart.

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Former Captive Bergdahl Will Return To Regular Duty In Army

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 06:50

The Army says Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose freedom from the Taliban was gained by a prisoner exchange in May, has been cleared for active duty and assigned to a unit in Texas.

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Facing A Toxic Dump In South Africa, He Cleaned Up

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 06:38

Desmond D'Sa fought a landfill that took over a beautiful valley and sickened residents with its awful smell. He lost his job but won the battle — and the Goldman Environmental Prize.

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Nadine Gordimer, Nobel-Winning Chronicler Of Apartheid, Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 06:10

Gordimer found her central theme exploring the human effects of racial injustice, but her work continued long after South Africa's apartheid regime had ended.

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Sweet Deal? Chocolatier Lindt Buys Russell Stover

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 05:59

The purchase would make the combined company the No. 3 chocolate maker in North America. The deal's value is estimated at around $1.5 billion.

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How 'Ching Chong' Became The Go-To Slur For Mocking East Asians

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 05:28

Spoiler alert: Like many bad things in life, some of the first usages of the slur that we could find are from children's rhymes.

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Israel Shoots Down Drone As Clash With Hamas Continues

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 04:18

One week after violence broke out between Israel and militants in Gaza, the Palestinian death toll is being reported at 172; no Israelis have reportedly died in the fighting.

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Teaching 4-Year-Olds To Feel Better

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 04:17

A big national study of Head Start programs shows that focusing on preschoolers' social and emotional skills can help them better engage in learning.

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What brings people to cities with unhappy residents?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-14 04:00

Happiness happens where it's warm. According to a new study by Harvard Professor of economics, Ed Glaeser, Southern cities like Charlottsville, Virginia, Lafayette, Louisiana, and Naples, Florida, are among the happiest in the country.

"Though Rochester, Minnesota, also ranks way up there on our list," Glaeser says.

Then there are the glass half-empty metropoli. Glaeser notes that some cities in the Rust Belt, like South Bend, Indiana, and Erie and Scranton, Pennsylvania, have had high levels of self-reported unhappiness as far back as the 1940's. In their boom years at least, he says workers there were paid high wages, but no longer. Today he notes, for some workers in the Rust Belt the payoff comes in the form of cheap housing. But city residents aren't driven entirely by happiness, says Glaeser.

"They’re willing to take other compensations for being a little less happy," he says.

New York also registers as an unhappy city. Glaeser says some workers there trade high salaries for happiness.

Kelly Goldsmith, a professor of marketing at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, says when it comes to making decisions, we're just no good at making happiness a priority.

"You say to yourself, all right, I’ve got this job offer from Goldman Sachs. I know I’m going to be working like 16 hours day. I know I’m never going to see my kids and I know when I visited there and when I talked to the people that worked there – they said they were miserable. But what do we tell ourselves? We say, that’s not going to happen to me," she says. 

But Goldsmith notes, we’re not idiots – we’re optimists, even if there's no real hope to cling to.

"We’re naïve in that we think that we’re strong enough to overcome situational detriments to our happiness," she says.

Cassie Mogilner, a professor of marketing at Wharton, says residents of different cities might report happiness differently.

“I'm actually from California, where the norm is to talk about the wonderful things of one’s life and to rose color everything including their own well-being and happiness,” she says.

And she notes, the conclusion that people are being financially compensated by lower housing costs, or by being paid to live in in unhappy places, could be an over reach. It's possible, says Mogilner, that there's another way to think about factors like choosing a higher paying job, or a lower mortage, which could provide the ability to raise a family.

"These are things people are choosing in order to be happy, not instead of being happy."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citigroup Agrees To Pay $7 Billion To Resolve Mortgage Probe

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 03:40

The deal frees Citi from potential liability for collateralized debt obligations as well as mortgage-backed securities issued, structured or underwritten by the company between 2003 and 2008.

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Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Floats Again, After 2 Years

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 03:05

Salvage workers plan to move the Costa Condordia from the spot of its deadly wreck off the Italian coast this week. The ship will eventually be used for scrap.

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PODCAST: Sotheby's and eBay team up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-14 03:00

Second time's the charm? After a failed joint venture back 2002, eBay and Sotheby's are trying a second partnership to take advantage of the middle luxury market. Plus, more on why GM is choosing to pay for claims related to faulty ignition switches with cash instead of insurance. Also, the signature sound of a racecar might be about to change. That's because of a new kind of electric vehicle set to debut during the Formula E World Championship, which will feature exclusively electric racing cars.

LA Smog: the battle against air pollution

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-14 02:16

When we see photos of Beijing shrouded in a veil of thick smog, we’re horrified. How can the Chinese live with such terrible air pollution?

One answer is: Americans did. Back in the 1950s and '60s, people in Los Angeles breathed some of the dirtiest air in the world.

Los Angeles still has smog, of course, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. How did the city get its act together?

It took decades. Los Angeles had its first real smog attack during World War II, a smog strong enough that some people suspected a Japanese chemical attack. But it wasn’t until 1975 that the U.S. required new cars to have catalytic converters, “the key piece of technology that allowed everything to change,” according to Mary Nichols, chairman of California’s Air Resources Board. In between, there were frustrating years of scientific research, industry denial, politics, protest and an unwavering attachment to the automobile.

Los Angeles, like Denver and Mexico City, is a natural pollution trap. The surrounding mountains combine with temperature inversions to trap dirty air. Early on, smoke and fumes from steel and chemical plants, oil refineries and backyard trash incinerators - legal until the late 1950s - plagued the city.

As did pollution from automobiles. Los Angeles County had more than a million vehicles on the road as early as 1940. Just 10 years later, that number more than doubled as the post-war LA population and economy boomed. City leaders, including the Chamber of Commerce, realized that air pollution threatened tourism, real estate and agriculture.

“They’d promoted Los Angeles as this clean, healthy place,” said historian Sarah Elkind, author of "How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy: Business, Power, and the Environment in Twentieth Century Los Angeles." So in 1947, the county established an Air Pollution Control District, the first of its kind.

No one, however, blamed the automobile at first. “People did look at tailpipes, but auto exhaust was clear and the smog was brown, so it didn’t seem like there was a direct relationship between those two things,” Elkind said.

“It took about 10 years for there to be concrete laboratory-proven evidence that the hydrocarbon emissions from tailpipes, when exposed to sunlight and nitrogen oxides, turned into photochemical smog.”

Arie Haagen-Smit, a biochemist who had been studying the flavor of pineapples at the California Institute of Technology, not only made that discovery, but fought hard to convince politicians, regulators and industry that cars were the biggest smog culprit in Los Angeles.

The oil and automobile industries pushed back on his research. Chip Jacobs, co-author of “Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles,” says a turning point came when the oil industry-funded Stanford Research Institute sent a member to Caltech to discredit Haagen-Smit’s findings.

“The best thing that happened to LA lungs was when the man from SRI came in and smeared his reputation,” Jacobs said. Haagen-Smit was furious, and vowed to prove industry wrong. He redoubled his research efforts. By the mid 1950s there was no doubt among scientists that cars were a primary factor in LA’s smog crisis.

That doesn’t mean the public believed it immediately, or that car owners were willing to cut back on driving. Or that the auto industry sprang into action.

“Los Angeles had no influence over the auto manufacturers,” Elkind said. Plus, smog wasn’t yet a national problem. “It was very easy to dismiss smog as a quirk of LA geography.”

Automakers were slow to respond, wary of any change that would add cost to their vehicles. “It’s like the stages of grief,” said Nichols. “At first you deny it. Then you fight against it. And finally you grudgingly accept it, embrace it and move on.” That process took almost two decades.

James Lents, former executive officer of California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, says Californians started agitating for change as the science became stronger and smog’s public health dangers became clearer. On bad days, parents kept children out of school, emergency rooms overflowed, athletic events were canceled.

Local doctors were beginning to talk about possible connections between lung cancer, heart problems and smog. In 1954, as many as 6,000 people showed up to a protest meeting in Pasadena. Los Angeles’s pollution czar volunteered to sit in Haagen-Smit’s plexiglass smog chamber to prove ozone’s danger. He got bronchitis.

“It was just a toxic atmosphere,” said Jeff Slade, who grew up in Beverly Hills. “I was thinking, 'what could you compare it to today?' And I think you’d have to look at cities like Beijing. It hurt, literally hurt, to breathe.”

Slade’s mother, Afton Slade, was president of Stamp Out Smog, a women’s activist group based in Beverly Hills. It was one of many anti-smog groups that sprouted in Los Angeles County during the late 1950s and early 1960s. They influenced public opinion and pushed politicians to do something about the crisis.

Stamp Out Smog had Hollywood connections and a flair for the dramatic. “So they did flashy things,” Slade said. His mother presided over a media event at the Ambassador Hotel in 1964 with a birthday cake marking 21 years of smog. It had a skull and crossbones on top in frosting.

“The press just loved this kind of thing,” Slade said. They also loved it when the women brought their kids to rallies wearing gas masks, a bit of political theater that became fairly common at smog protests.

These rallies and media events were among the earliest “environmental” protests in the U.S. The word “environmentalism” wasn’t really in the vocabulary yet. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” had just recently introduced a scary new thought – that technological progress could kill us. By the early 1960s, California demanded the first anti-smog controls on cars.

“The elected officials finally believed that cars were a big part of the problem and were going to regulate them, in spite of what the automobile manufacturers said,” James Lents said.

The 60s produced a dizzying series of changes, in California and the nation. In 1963, Congress enacted the first Clean Air Act, a tacit acknowledgement that smog had become a national problem. Two years later, it called for the first national emissions standards for cars.

In 1966 the California Highway Patrol began random roadside inspections of early smog devices. A year later Congress gave California permission to set even stricter emission standards than the federal government’s.

In 1969 the Justice Department sued automakers for conspiring to delay anti-smog devices, a lawsuit ultimately settled out of court. Then, Congress enacted the law that has set the framework for U.S. air pollution regulation, the Clean Air Act of 1970.

“It wasn’t until the Clean Air Act in 1970 that you had a law that said, 'we’re going to set an air quality standard based on a public health measurement, and then the government will go out and take whatever action is needed to reach those limits,'” Nichols said. “But that was a shift, and it was based on growing populist opposition to how bad the air was.”

California still has some of the worst air in the country. But “worst” isn’t as bad as it used to be. Ozone levels in Los Angeles are just 40 percent of what they were in the mid-1970s, and that’s with more than twice the number of cars.

In the end, the air got better not because people were willing to change their behavior, but because technology improved, according to Lents. “My belief has been that humans are very innovative,” he said. “My experience was if you pushed them a little bit, they find solutions. They just don’t like to do it because it takes time and costs money and they don’t like to push ahead.”

Lents said fighting air pollution is an ongoing battle. As the science gets better, the more is learned about air pollution’s dangers. The “goal posts” move and air quality standards get higher.

In the past few years, scientists have grown increasingly alarmed about so-called “particulate matter” pollution, which embeds deeply in the lungs and is linked to serious heart and lung problems, including an increased risk of lung cancer. Los Angeles was ranked fourth for particle pollution in the American Lung Association’s latest “State of the Air” rankings. Now California regulators are struggling to bring particle pollution under control, along with ozone.

“We don’t meet federal ambient air standards in Los Angeles,” Nichols said. “We’ve brought the levels way, way down to the point where we don’t trigger actual health alerts very often, but I’m not satisfied with that.”

Nichols says by 2030 California needs to “move people and goods” with zero emissions technology. That gives the state 15 years to get its act together. Can it do it again?

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