National News

Extreme Heat Brings Australian Open To A Halt

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 23:19

The scorching weather finally brought play to a halt on the fourth day of the Australian Open when the temperature topped 109F. Some players had criticized officials for not stopping matches earlier.

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New Nuke Scandal: 34 Officers Accused Of Cheating

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 23:14

The Air Force has disclosed that 34 officers entrusted with the world's deadliest weapons have been removed from launch duty for allegedly cheating — or tolerating cheating by others — on routine proficiency tests.

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Pregnant Women Warned Against Drinking Water In W.Va. Area

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 17:58

The CDC says pregnant women should stick to bottled water until all traces of a coal-treatment chemical are gone from the local water supply.

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Rental Car Surprise: Comes With An AR-15 In The Back

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 17:09

A Florida vacation got off to an odd start for Judith Fleissig, 58, of Rochester, N.Y., when she and her daughter realized the car they'd rented had an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. More oddness followed: The gun was left there by the wife of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, police say.

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Obama Nominates Maria Contreras-Sweet To Head SBA

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 15:21

Born in Mexico, Contreras-Sweet was the first Latina to serve as a cabinet secretary in California when she led its Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1999-2003.

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Months After 'Blackfish' Release, Controversy Over SeaWorld Grows

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 14:54

An anti-SeaWorld movement has unfolded online and on social media in the wake of the documentary about the death of an orca trainer at the park. Musical acts and schoolchildren have boycotted the theme park — but it's still drawing big crowds.

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IMF's Lagarde: Any U.S. Budget Deal Is Better Than None

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 14:28

"We are all very pleased to see an orderly budget process is back," the head of the International Monetary Fund says, as Congress works on spending legislation.

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Bourbon or scotch? You may be surprised by who owns your favorite whiskey

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:53

Do you prefer Maker's Mark bourbon to Jim Beam? Laphroig scotch to Bowmore? Basil Hayden's to Knob Creek?

All are different distilleries, to be sure, but now they're all owned by the same company. Japan's Suntory is buying Beam Inc. -- as in Jim Beam -- for $13.6 billion. The deal will make Suntory one of the largest alcohol producers in the world.

Curious if your favorite whiskey is one of Suntory's brands -- or another of the big distilleries?

Here's a breakdown of which company owns which whiskey brand:


The NSA has new ways to see inside your computer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:28

What is the National Security Agency monitoring now? Think: nearly 100,000 computers around the world – whether they’re connected to the internet or not.

"There is a good subset of computers that are walled off from the internet, completely isolated. And those are usually the computers that the NSA wants to get into most," says David Sanger, national security correspondent for the New York Times, explaining his report in the Times today.

German newsmagazine Der Spiegel recently published a catalog of tools developed by an NSA division called ANT. Among other strategies, ANT uses small radio transceivers to monitor and even control personal computers. The transceivers are either installed into the computer – usually during transit from the factory –  or through thumb drives. Once the software has been installed, the NSA is able to see inside the computer. Some believe they have used the tcomputers in to cyber weapons or to turn the computer into a cyber-weapon. The Stuxnet attack on the Iranian nuclear enrichment site is believed to have been carried out through such means.

Sanger reports the NSA has used the technology for at least the last five years, on allies and enemies alike. Tech companies in the U.S. fear overseas buyers will be wary of buying American products.   

“I think as the year goes on, you’re going to see more and more pressure from Silicon Valley to both trim back these programs and efforts from Silicon Valley to design systems that the NSA can’t penetrate,” he says.

The NSA uses these programs in the name of national security. There is no evidence that the United States is using the ANT technology to steal intellectual property.

“If they had, they probably wouldn’t know which company to give it to. The Chinese know who they’re going to give it to, they’re going to give it to their state owned firms.”

President Obama is expected to address the issue on Friday.

German Farmers Fear For Europe's Bacon With U.S. Trade Deal

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:19

German farmers protested Wednesday against a free trade deal with the U.S. that could lift restrictions on American meat sold in Europe. The farmers say they are worried not just about poor quality meat but about unfair competition.

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House Republicans Join In Passing $1 Trillion Spending Bill

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:16

In a bipartisan compromise, lawmakers approved the 1,582-page spending bill. The Senate is expected to follow suit later this week.

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Senate Committee Lays Blame For Benghazi With State Department

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:02

The Senate Intelligence Committee has released a new bipartisan report on the 2012 Benghazi attack. The report finds that the attack was preventable. According to the committee, fault lies with the State Department for failing to provide adequate security or heed warnings about a deteriorating security situation. The committee claims that individuals associated with al-Qaida affiliates participated in the attack, but it stops short of saying the attack was pre-planned. The report also does not implicate the "core" al-Qaida leadership.

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Justices Appear Divided On Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the buffer zones that are often established around abortion clinics. In the courtroom, Chief Justice John Roberts' silence seemed to indicate that he likely will be the deciding vote in the case.

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Boeing Machinists' Plight Marks Changing Times For Labor

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

The push by Boeing to wring concessions from its unionized workers — including the loss of pensions — echoes what's happened at other big manufacturers and demonstrates the state of organized labor across the country.

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Fed Vice Chairman Nominee Taught Bernanke And Many Others

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

President Obama has nominated Stanley Fischer to be vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. Fischer trained outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and he spent much of the last decade running Israel's central bank. If confirmed, Fischer would take over the position being vacated by Janet Yellen, who was recently confirmed as Bernanke's successor.

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Bangkok Protests Roil The Thai Economy

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

The prime minster of Thailand says she plans to go ahead with next month's elections, despite opposition protests that have blocked much of the center of Bangkok. The anti-government demonstrators want the current, caretaker prime minister to step down, to be replaced with an unelected "people's council". The political turmoil is also impacting the local economy.

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High Court Hears Arguments On Abortion Buffer Zones

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the buffer zones that are often established around abortion clinics. Opponents of the zones claim that they violate the free speech rights of anti-abortion protestors.

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Even As Ban Lifts, Many Remain Wary Of Tap Water

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

Officials say that more than half of the households and businesses affected by last week's chemical spill in West Virginia now have access to safe tap water. But some residents in Charleston, where the ban has been lifted in most areas, are wary of using tap water and are still stopping by bottled water distribution sites.

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Reports Of Arrests And Torture Under Nigeria's Anti-Gay Law

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

Under a shroud of secrecy, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act on Jan. 7. In Nigeria, the law has become known by many as the "Jail the Gays" law. Melissa Block speaks with Michelle Faul, the Associated Press Chief Africa Correspondent, about the law's ramifications.

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Obama Unveils New Plans To Encourage Manufacturing Jobs

NPR News - Wed, 2014-01-15 13:00

Touting a rebound in manufacturing jobs, President Obama announced a public-private partnership to expand that momentum. He unveiled a manufacturing innovation institute in North Carolina, the first of three similar hubs he proposed in last year's State of the Union address. Though factory jobs are being added, economists say it's highly unlikely that manufacturing can become a significant source of future employment.

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