National News

The Birth Of The Minimum Wage In America

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 00:33

For decades, the Supreme Court ruled that laws regulating things like wages and working conditions were unconstitutional. That changed during the Great Depression, when one of the justices switched sides, paving the way for the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Cash Or Credit? How Kids Pay For School Lunch Matters For Health

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 00:31

A study in the journal Obesity found that students who used credit or debit cards in the school cafeteria chose fewer fruits and vegetables and more desserts than kids paying with cash. But the researchers say schools should work with the bias instead of trying to fight it.

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MLB Approves Expanded Replay Starting This Season

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 00:24

Major League Baseball on Thursday approved a huge expansion of instant replay in hopes of eliminating blown calls that riled players, managers and fans. The NFL, NBA, NHL, some NCAA sports and major tennis tournaments all use a form of replay.

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Surgeon General Adds To List Of Smoking's Harms

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-17 00:19

A new report from the U.S. Surgeon General's office says the nation is at a crossroads, celebrating decades of progress against the chief preventable killer but not yet poised to finish the job.

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Japanese WWII Soldier Who Hid In Jungle For 30 Years Dies

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 23:25

Hiroo Onoda was an intelligence officer who came out of hiding on Lubang Island in the Philippines in 1974. He surrendered only when his former commander flew there to reverse his 1945 orders to stay behind. He died Thursday in Tokyo at age 91.

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By Tracking Sugar In Tears, Contact Lens Offers Hope For Diabetics

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 18:14

Despite the technical feat, researchers say that much basic research remains, and the relationship between glucose and tears is still unproven.

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With Senate's OK, $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill Heads To Obama

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 15:45

The wide-ranging federal spending bill will prevent any gaps in government funding as well as take some of the sting out of automatic spending cuts. The House approved it Wednesday.

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Sweet 16 And Barreling Toward Cowgirl Racing Fame

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 15:22

High schooler Megan Yurko won more than $21,000 last year in cowgirl barrel races. The sport requires circling three barrels in a cloverleaf pattern at top speed, and Yurko hopes she'll leave this weekend's world championship competition as the top ranked racer.

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Gilligan's 'The Professor' Has Died; Russell Johnson Was 89

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 15:14

Russell Johnson, the actor whose job it was to be the voice of reason and calm on an island of shipwrecked ninnies, reportedly died of natural causes at his home in Washington state. Johnson's role as the Professor on the 1960s comedy Gilligan's Island endeared him to audiences.

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What Do You Do If Your Refrigerator Begins Sending Malicious Emails?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 15:08

Consumers are beginning to buy Internet-connected appliances, but companies haven't done enough to protect the machines from hackers, says an information security expert.

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Some towns fight to hang onto their JC Penney

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-16 14:13

JC Penney announced it is laying off 2,000 people and closing 33 poor performing stores. The move is expected to save the company $65 million a year.

One of the stores scheduled to close is in the Butte Plaza Mall in Butte, Mont. The manager of the mall, Alana Ferko, calls the news "devastating…the idea they could ever close never crossed my mind." Twelve full-time employees and 20 part-time employees will lose their job.

Ferko acknowledges the store has had some profitability problems, which is how it was put on the JC Penney store closure list.

"During this the period that they looked at, the national economy was shaky, JC Penney corporate was changing leadership and the philosophy and that affected us negatively," Ferko says.

For now, Ferko and others in the community hope JC Penney will reconsider the closure of the store.

"We are not going to lay down and we're definitely not going to stay down," she says, adding that they have plans for a local campaign, "to show [corporate] how important our local JC Penney is to Butte, Mont., and you know, hopefully, get them to change their mind."

JC Penney has had a presence in the city since 1929 and moved to its current location in 1995. Ferko says it’s a place where grandparents take their grandkids to buy new Easter shoes and she remembers getting her first credit card from JC Penney. 

"It’s a working man’s store. That’s what it was when I was a little girl – it’s been here for generations."

Some towns fight to hang onto their JC Penney

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-16 14:13

Retailer JC Penney announced it was laying off 2,000 people and closing 33 poor performing stores yesterday. The move is expected to save the company $65 million a year.

One of the stores scheduled to close is one of the anchor stores in the Butte Plaza Mall in Butte, Montana. The manager of the mall, Alana Ferko calls the news “devastating…the idea they could ever close never crossed my mind.” Twelve full-time employees and 20 part-time employees will lose their job.

NSA Reportedly Collected Millions Of Phone Texts Every Day

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 14:00

A presentation slide cited by The Guardian is subtitled "SMS Text Messages: A Goldmine to Exploit." The top secret Dishfire text-collection program was reportedly both global and arbitrary.

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U.S. Biathlete Gives Up Olympic Spot To Her Twin Sister

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:37

Lanny and Tracy Barnes competed on the U.S. Olympic team in 2006, and Lanny competed in 2010. This year, Tracy gave her spot on the team to Lanny, who was ill during the selection races and just missed qualifying. "The Olympics are about more than just competing," Tracy says.

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For Obama And Senate Democrats, The Goal Is Mutual Protection

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:37

For President Obama and Senate Democrats, it's all about mutual aid. The president needs their support to achieve whatever of his remaining agenda he can get through Congress. They need him to help raise money for their re-election campaigns.

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Will Team USA's High-Tech Speedskating Suit Pay Off In Gold?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:32

On Thursday, Lockheed Martin and the sporting goods company Under Armour unveiled long-awaited photos of the new U.S. speedskating uniform they're calling "Mach 39." Unlike other suits, it's not made entirely of smooth, slippery fabric to reduce air drag.

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Sony Betamax case paved the way for TiVo

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:28

This final note: Something to think about the next time you cue up the TiVo to record something.

It was thirty years ago this week, on January 17, 1984, that the Supreme Court of the United States said it was okay to do that.

The technology was firmly analog -- recording something from the TV onto videotape -- but the principle was clear.

The Justices said home recording was fine, copyright-wise. (Speaking of old technologies, the case is known as the Sony Betamax case.)

To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:11

The rare northern spotted owl species faces habitat loss and, now, intruding barred owls. A biologist, and the federal government, have made a difficult decision — killing one owl to ward off the extinction of another.

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To Save Threatened Owl, Another Species Is Shot

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:11

The rare northern spotted owl species faces habitat loss and, now, intruding barred owls. A biologist, and the federal government, have made a difficult decision — killing one owl to ward off the extinction of another.

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Meet the modern guidance counselor

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-01-16 13:08

When Tyler Lattimore was applying to college, he had to wait days to meet with the one counselor assigned to his high school in Gainesville, Fla. When he finally did, she didn’t seem to know much about the elite, out-of-state schools he was interested in.

Lattimore, now a sophomore at Emory University in Atlanta, is a first-generation college student.

“I was actually fortunate to have a teacher who sat down with me after class and talked to me about my options," he says. "But the guidance counselor – I could not even imagine getting a hold of her long enough to do these kinds of things,” he says.

Meet the modern guidance counselor. Average caseload: 471 students. Today’s counselors juggle course advising, behavior problems – even coordinate standardized tests. When they do grab a few minutes to talk to students about college, they don’t have much training to fall back on.

The issue is on the forefront of the minds of educators, dozens of whom met with President and First Lady Obama today in Washington for a day-long summit. The focus is to help more low-income students get into – and finish – college. 

After Michelle Obama launched her campaign to encourage more low-income students to get degrees, counselor Patrick O’Connor wrote her an open letter, published by the Washington Post.

“It’s clear that the No. 1 need of school counselors, to help realize the goals Mrs. Obama was talking about, was to get better training in college admission counseling, college advising,” O’Connor says.

O’Connor works at a private school in Michigan, where he’s responsible for just 46 students. He also teaches counselors. In most states school counselors need a master’s degree, but O’Connor says only a handful of programs even offer a course on college advising.

“So by and large, most counselors are leaving their master's degree programs with no formal training at any level of depth about how to help students,” he says.

That means they’re often unprepared to advise students on things like financial aid, or finding the right fit.

Alexandria Walton Radford interviewed high school valedictorians for the book “Top Student, Top School?” She looked at why so few valedictorians from low-income backgrounds ended up in the most selective colleges.

“What they encountered were counselors who often gave college information to students en masse,” she says.

The counselors tended to focus on schools they knew about – schools where middle-of-the road students were likely to get in.

“For those high achieving high school students, those colleges did not tend to match their academic accomplishments,” Radford says.

That’s known as under-matching, and it can hurt low-income and first-generation college students, who tend to do better at more selective schools. Radford says those are the students who need the most guidance.

“What I found was that college counseling was pretty poor across the board, even in more affluent communities,” she says. “But the difference was, in those affluent families, the families could make up for the lack of guidance being received through the schools.”

That’s because the parents went to college themselves, or could afford to pay for private counseling.

Public school counselors are aware of the bad reviews they get. A few years ago the nonprofit research group Public Agenda surveyed hundreds of high school graduates. Most of them gave their counselors fair to poor marks.

“It made me angry, because here I'm working my tail off,” says Jeremy Goldman, a counselor at Pikesville High School outside Baltimore, Md.

Goldman has tried to learn on the job – sneaking in visits to college campuses on his vacation time.

At nearby Woodlawn High School, Ashley Gallant tries to meet with each of her 10th graders at least a few times a year to start the college conversation. In one of these meetings in her office, she asks 15-year-old India Griffin what she plans to do after high school.

“I want to go to a performing arts school to become a singer and a musician,” Griffin says.

Together, they search a software program on Gallant’s computer for colleges that might appeal to Griffin.

These one-on-one meetings are getting harder to fit in. Gallant used to be one of five counselors at the school. They’re down to four this year due to budget cuts, so she does more group meetings.

“We definitely have to be a little bit more creative and resourceful with our time,” Gallant says. “We’re having to do more with less, but that is pretty much how it is with most schools now.”

Without a big boost in funding, it’s not likely to get much better. The American School Counselor Association says there should be one counselor for every 250 students. Try selling that in cash-strapped districts like Philadelphia and in communities across California, where many counselors have more than 1,000 students on their to-do lists.

[<a href="//" target="_blank">View the story "The best -- and worst -- advice from guidance counselor" on Storify</a>]

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