National News

Why the EU and the U.S. target different individuals

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:04

The European Union today slapped sanctions on 15 more people it accuses of aggravating the crisis in Ukraine. This follows yesterday’s move by the U.S. targeting another seven individuals and 17 companies. This may suggest a degree of coordination between the U.S. and Europe -- a kind of one-two punch. But look a little closer, and you'll see a big difference between the American and the European measures.

The EU has now imposed travel bans and asset freezes on a total of 48 people, and all of them have one thing in common: They’re all directly implicated in the Ukrainian crisis. That’s not the case with the U.S. sanctions.

“The American approach has been much more targeted on Mr. Putin’s inner circle, and on businesses that are believed to be controlled by those individuals,” says John Lough, Associate Fellow at the Chatham House think tank in London. 

Take one of the principal victims of the American asset freeze announced on Monday: Igor Sechin, head of the Russian energy giant Rosneft. He is not believed to have been involved in the alleged attempt to destabilize Ukraine. But he is a very close ally of President Putin . 

Meanwhile the Europeans today penalized – among others – several Ukrainian separatists and the head of Russian military intelligence.

“You could say the Europeans are pussy-footing around in the sense that they are being more legalistic. They are going after the instruments of this policy rather than going for the most sensitive area of the Russian elite, the people on whom President Putin depends,” says Nick Redman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The softer European approach is not surprising. The EU does ten times as much trade with Russia as the US does. Europe also depends on Russia for 30 percent of its natural gas. Redman says don’t expect the Europeans to hit the Russians where it really hurts - say in the energy sector - for fear of Russian retaliation. 

“Obviously sanctions that would be more effective and would go further, would impose costs on the imposing nations," he says. 

Supreme Court Considers Where Line's Drawn In Cell Phone Searches

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case testing if police may search cell phones possessed by persons they arrest. It has broad implications for police work and protection of personal data.

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One Day From Elections, Baghdad Is Racked By Violence

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

In Baghdad, at least 17 people are dead and dozens wounded after a pair of bombs struck an outdoor market. It's just the latest deadly attack on the eve of Iraq's national parliamentary elections.

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Dozens Dead And Communities Reeling As Storms Roil Deep South

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

Severe storms have hit Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, killing more than 30 people and leveling buildings throughout the South.

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White House Report Lays Out Plans For Combating Campus Sexual Assault

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

A White House task force issued a report Tuesday aimed at dealing with sexual assault cases at colleges. The report offers basic guidelines for schools and sets up a national reporting system.

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High Court Ruling Revives Law Against Out-Of-State Pollution

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

The Supreme Court is upholding a major EPA air pollution rule. The rule seeks to rein in pollution from power plant smoke stacks which can make the air in downwind states unhealthy. Researchers say the rule finally addresses a disconnect between the science of air pollution and the laws that had tried to clean it up.

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Heated Words, And Mild Relief, In Russia's Response To New Sanctions

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

Russia reacted angrily to new EU and U.S. sanctions, which were imposed in response to Russian interference in Ukraine. Russia's deputy foreign minister vowed to deliver a "painful" response.

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In Diplomacy, Obama Aims To 'Hit Singles,' Not Swing For The Fences

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

As President Obama returns from his trip to Asia, he is defending the trip's modest diplomatic accomplishments. He says that, while such efforts may not be sexy, they're better than unforced errors.

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Donald Sterling Banned For Life From NBA, Fined $2.5 Million

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:03

NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned for life from the league. The decision, coupled with a $2.5 million fine, comes in the wake of Sterling's racist remarks.

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A Brief Tour Of The Alimentary Canal, From Spit To You Know What

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 11:56

If you didn't know that spit makes a great spot remover or where prison inmates smuggle cellphones, author Mary Roach can fill you in. There's more than digestion going on down there.

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Texas' Biggest Power Company Files For Bankruptcy

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 11:43

Back in 2007, equity firms took Energy Future Holdings private in a huge $45 billion deal. The natural gas boom, however, drove the price of electricity down, leading to huge losses for the company.

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Adam Silver, NBA will try to force Clippers' sale

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 11:33

To billionaire Donald Sterling -- the owner of Los Angeles Clippers who was banned, chastised and fined today for racist comments -- a $2.5 million penalty may seem like chump change.

And if NBA Commissioner Adam Silver succeeds in forcing him to sell the Clippers, Sterling could way away with quite a bit more cash in his pocket.

"The Clippers could sell -- the numbers you’re hearing bounced around are $1 billion to $1.5 billion," says NBA editor Kevin Arnovitz. "If you're looking for a glass half-empty here, he bought the team for $12 million. He's looking at a payday here of maybe $1 billion."

Weaker teams in smaller markets have sold for $500 million, Arnovitz says, and he thinks the results of this controversy will only strengthen the Clippers' brand – they're in the play-offs, playing action-packed games and and they've got star players like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

Sterling will only have to sell the team if a majority of owners agree to force an ouster -- but, in the meantime, the NBA has effectively cut Sterling out of the team's day-to-day operations. He can't attend games or talk to sponsors (many of whom have already made it clear that they don't want to talk to him, either). 

In sum, Arnovitz says: "Sterling has to disappear... The product has never been better.This was a cloud and now it seems lifted."  

A Cookbook Map Reveals What's Hot In American Regional Cuisine

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 11:19

Amazon Books has curated an interactive map that shows who's invigorating regional cooking. And there are some surprises: Texas is moving beyond barbecue, while charcuterie is cool in California.

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Rosie The Riveter's World War II-Era Plant Faces Demolition

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 11:12

All that stands between the plant that made B-24 bombers and the wrecking ball is two days and $1 million. The group that's trying to save the facility says it's an uphill task.

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Why some rural patients wait all night to get a tooth pulled

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 11:02

The Affordable Care Act is intended to provide insurance for America’s poorest. It was supposed to control healthcare costs by getting people to doctors for routine visits. But for many low-income -- and especially rural -- Americans, healthcare needs are still not being met.

At a fairground just outside downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, hundreds of people wait in line. They come from nearby cities and small towns with names like "Coalfield" and "Deer Lodge". Inside a giant auditorium converted to a mobile clinic for the day, dozens of dentists clean teeth. The two-day clinic, called Remote Area Medical, offers free medical services -- from dental to vision to yearly checkups.

James Barlow is 47-years-old. He received his first pair of glasses two years ago at the clinic. Today he is waiting in line for a new pair of reading glasses from a volunteer student studying optometry. 

“I was struggling and running out of reading glasses. It was just getting too weak,” he says.

Barlow says he needs health insurance. In 2008, he was hospitalized for a heart attack. He says as soon as he walked into the emergency room, they knew he couldn't afford care, but they made him stay in the hospital anyway. Now, he's grateful -- he says would have "probably died."

Barlow had another heart attack this past year. His medical bills have cost tens of thousands of dollars. But like a lot of people at the clinic, he still can’t afford to buy his own insurance, even with subsidies. And Barlow lives in Tennessee, a state that opted out of Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act.

A number of people came the night before -- sleeping in their cars for the services offered today.

“I don’t know a whole lot of people who would stand in a line for 24 hours if they had a better plan, if they had an easier way to get what they needed,” says Amy Smith, a nurse and volunteer here.

That’s the case with Britanny and Dustin Scalf, both in their mid-20s.

“When I was in high school, I was going to the dentist all the time. After that, it just stopped. It literally stopped right in its tracks.  Lost insurance,” says Dustin Scalf. His wife Brittany Scalf finished his thought: “When I turned 18, I got pregnant. And I don’t know, I just quit going.”

Brittany hasn’t gone to the dentist in six or seven years. A lot of people here are used to not having health insurance in their family.

“His mom’s on disability; my dad’s on disability,” says Brittany. “She never really tried to get it until she got sick and had to go the doctor...and then it was too late.  She already owed thousands and thousands of dollars.”  

A few hours later, Brittany’s finally in the dental chair.  The dentist removes four teeth from the back of her mouth. The couple hopes procedures like this one are a thing of the past, because Dustin has a new job that comes with health insurance.

Finally, the two head to their camper to make the two-hour trip back to Hawkins County, Tennessee. As for so many people here, this trip is a painful reminder of the past few years without health insurance.

“I’m just ready to get home,” says Brittany.

“I know...It’s been a long day,” says Dustin.

Plants Talk. Plants Listen. Here's How

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 10:33

Animals bark, sing, growl and chat. Plants, one would think, just sit there. But it turns out that plants bark, growl and chat as well. Here's how they do it.

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Weather clear and cool at the first inaugural ceremony

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-04-29 10:11

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Wednesday, April 30, 2014:

The Force Is With Them: Star Wars Episode VII Cast Revealed

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 09:24

Newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver will join old favorites Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. The movie is due to be released Dec. 18, 2015.

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Famed 83-Year-Old Jewel Thief Pleads Guilty To Stealing Diamond Ring

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 09:01

Doris Payne's rap sheet dates back six decades. She walked into an upscale jewelry store last October and walked out with a $22,500 ring. On Monday, she was sentenced to four years in custody.

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To Survive A Tornado, First Run To Shelter, Then Grab A Helmet

NPR News - Tue, 2014-04-29 08:41

In a tornado, debris flung by high-speed winds can cause deadly injuries. A sturdy shelter is the best protection, but even lying in a ditch may save your life. Or putting on a bike helmet.

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