National News

Despite Scandals, Nation's Crime Labs Have Seen Little Change

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 07:42

Last year in Massachusetts, chemist Annie Dookhan was sent to prison for falsifying drug tests. Her misconduct tainted thousands of cases, and was one of the largest crime lab scandals in U.S. history. Critics say it raises a larger question: Do forensic analysts serve the truth, or the prosecution?

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Nuns' Objection To Health Care Law Is Unwarranted, Justice Dept. Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 07:39

Religious organizations have objected to the new health care law's requirement that employers include contraception coverage in the insurance plans they offer employees. But the Obama administration says one group of nuns is already exempt and has no standing to object.

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4 Killed As Cambodian Police Fire At Striking Garment Workers

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 07:37

Workers from the sector, Cambodia's biggest export earner, want the country's minimum wage doubled. Protests by garment workers are not unusual, but Friday's violence represents an escalation, and comes amid growing demonstrations against Prime Minister Hun Sen's government.

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Quiz: Which country gets most of its energy from renewable resources?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 07:13

It's international quiz time on the Marketplace Morning Report. Stephan Richter, editor-in-chief of the online international affairs magazine, The Globalist, brings us the question below.

Which country gets most of its energy from renewable resources? 

A. United States

B. Germany

C. Canada

D. Brazil

Scroll down to see the answer and click on the audio player above to hear more about renewable sources.

 

 

 

 

D. Brazil

Cuba's drivers don't have to be stuck in the 50s anymore

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 06:53

In Cuba, there is a genius for fighting automotive obsolescence. Even in 2014, the streets are still lined with 1950s cars, the ones that were there before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. With some exceptions, imports of new cars were banned since the revolution, but now the ban's lifted and the imports are onsale starting this morning.   The BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from Havana. Click the audio player above to listen.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh to retire after 10 years

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 06:41

Today, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced his plan to retire after 10 years in power. BBC business correspondent Sameer Hashmi looks at his complicated complicated legacy.  Click the audio player to hear more.

Cheerios goes no-GMO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 06:31

Soon, you will be able to buy a box of Cheerios that is GMO-free. General Mills says it will use corn and sugar that have not been genetically modified.

Companies that use genetically-modified ingredients maintain they are safe, and the federal government has no problem with them. But some Americans are wary.

“They can shop for organic products that are GMO-free, but this is an expansion of that GMO-free market,” says Julie Caswell, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

General Mills says it is responding to what consumers want. But Alberto Alemanno, a food policy expert at NYU Law School, says there is a reason why the company picked Cheerios, instead of Chex or Wheaties.

“Cheerios contain oats,” he explains. “Oats is not a GM crop. So, it is pretty clear they have targeted this product because it is going to be easier for them to deliver.”

In the U.S., most packaged foods contain ingredients that are genetically modified. Recently, Whole Foods announced it is going to stop selling Chobani Greek yogurt, because the company uses milk that’s not organic. Chobani says there just isn’t enough organic milk available to meet consumer demand.

One Of The Rescue Ships In Antarctic May Now Be Stuck, Too

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:56

A Chinese icebreaker that helped rescue 52 adventurers from another ship says it may not be able to get back to open waters. An Australian icebreaker — to which the adventurers were evacuated — i staying nearby in case its assistance is needed. So the

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Obamacare backlog: Walgreen's offers month of drugs

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:53

With the new year come millions of people who will be newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, and pharmacies are among the many companies competing for their business.

This week several drugstore chains offered temporary supplies of medications for those still sorting out their coverage. Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Kroger are among the retailers offering to fill prescriptions for people who enrolled in new health plans but don’t have ID numbers yet. They’ll settle the bill later.

“The key is to drive traffic by any means possible,” says analyst Ross Muken with research firm ISI Group.

Once those customers are in the door, drugstores hope to sell them not only pantyhose and bubble gum, but other health care services, Muken says -- like flu shots and even physicals.

“They want to be the place that you think of first when you think of health care,” says Robert Field, a professor of law and public policy at Drexel University. “If they can be friendly for a 30-day bridge period, it’s a small investment to make in terms of that long-term relationship.”

How long-term? Field says customer loyalty isn’t what it was in the days of the corner drugstore. People tend to go to the closest pharmacy their insurance plan allows.

Is the World Bank a victim of its own success?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:43

Twenty years ago, if you calculated what fraction of the world’s poor lived where, 90 percent lived in the poorest countries. But today, three quarters of the world’s poor live in countries that have graduated to middle income status -- like India and China. This has complicated things for aid agencies, like the World Bank, which provide billions of dollars of loans meant to help the poor.
 
Every three years it’s graduation time at the World Bank and this year is one of them. That means this is the time when countries find out if the bank is going to move them up from poor to middle income. If residents are living on an average of less than a $1.25 a day, the country is considered poor, but if residents have more -- the country moves up to middle income.  And that’s when the World Bank cuts off the cheapest aid -- like zero interest loans.
 
India just graduated to the rank of middle income, but it still has about 300 million poor residents, which Ravi Kanbur, a professor of economics at Cornell, says could pose a problem.  

“Take two groups of poor who are equally poor. But one group happens to live in a country which is above this cutoff. And another group which happens to live in a country which is just below this cut off. At least from my perspective, I can’t see how we can make a sharp  differentiation between those two groups of poor,” he says.  
 
“The poor,” he says, “are still poor… The poor of course, haven’t moved, it’s just the classification of the countries, in which they live has changed.”
 
According to the World Bank’s current rules Kanbur says hundreds of millions of poor could be cut off from the cheapest aid. India got a reprieve, but  Ghana, Vietnam and Nigeria are heading towards graduation.
 
Laurence Chandy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, says the rise of these countries are success stories. The poor living in middle income countries, he says, do have some advantages.
 
“They’re living in economies that are moving fast. So even if the poor are poor today, there’s probably fairly good prospects that they won’t be poor in five to ten years time, or their children won’t be poor.”
 
That’s something, Chandy notes, we can’t say about the world’s poorest countries.
 
“Secondly,” he says, “they’re in countries either are able to access commercial markets for finance, or have large domestic resources already. Or maybe both.”

“The problem however, is not so simple,” says Federico Bonaglia, head of policy dialogue for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. A newly-labeled middle country may not have the fiscal resources to take care of its poor.  

“Taxation in many of these countries is very low,” he said, “it’s not easy to reform the taxation system.”

Joachim von Amsberg, vice president of concessional finance and global partnerships at the World Bank, notes that the World Bank continues to provide assistance for countries in the middle income rank.   “It is just a different type of support that’s most useful for those countries,” he says.
 
The funding the bank provides to middle income countries, says von Amsberg, is a “catalyst” for aid from other sources. And he says the criteria that rank a country’s financial status are working well. “We plan to continue using those criteria,” he says, as the rules are “fair and efficient.”
 
Laurence Chandy agrees. “What appears to be the problem,” he says, “is that aid won’t go to those people greatest in need, right?” 

The unstable climates, says Chandy, political or environmental, in countries like Haiti or the Democratic Republic of Congo, can mean lenders are reluctant to make any loans at all. So he says, while middle income countries may pay more interest that means more aid freed up for the poor in the most fragile states of all.

Boeing's Washington workers vote on contract for 777X. Again.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:29

More than 30,000 machinists could vote today on Boeing’s latest contract proposal. At stake is production of the 777X aircraft, which Boeing threatened to move out of Washington State when machinists rejected the initial labor contract. And while it might sound crazy to potentially vote yourself out of a job, the stakes are high all around.

Under the revised deal, machinists would get an extra bonus and a few other concessions. But Professor Leon Grunberg of the University of Puget Sound says their biggest concern remains: “Losing the guaranteed pension that they had,” he says. “One of the few last remaining blue collar workers in the private sector that have these guaranteed pensions.”

In fact, the local union didn’t push for today’s vote; the union’s international leadership did. It doesn’t want to risk losing thousands of union jobs to a “right-to-work” state.

Aviation industry consultant Scott Hamilton says that’s a definite possibility, though moving is risky for Boeing too. He says that, in its request for proposals, Boeing asked competing sites to basically replicate its Washington facilities, to the tune of ten billion dollars.

“I don’t see any state in the union that has the ability to go out and write ten billion dollars worth of checks to build buildings,” Hamilton says.

There’s also the risk of delay. Boeing wants to bring the 777X to market in 2020, which might not happen if it has to start from scratch.

Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:15

One-third of adults worldwide are overweight. Globalization has made high-calorie foods readily available at low cost almost everywhere. In 1980, less than 40 percent of Mexican women were overweight. By 2008, almost 70 percent were.

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Overweight People In Developing World Outnumber Those In Rich Countries

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:15

One-third of adults worldwide are overweight. Globalization has made high-calorie foods readily available at low cost almost everywhere. In 1980, less than 40 percent of Mexican women were overweight. By 2008, almost 70 percent were.

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New Year's hangover edition: This week's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-01-03 05:03

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week, Katy Ansite, co-host of the web series “Just the Tips: Taking the Internet’s Advice Seriously,” talks tech and takes the test.

Play along at home, below.

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In Israel, Ariel Sharon's Family Gathers At His Bedside

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 04:45

The former prime minister has been in a coma since suffering a stroke in 2006. This week, doctors said his condition has worsened. Sharon is 85.

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'You're Invisible, But I'll Eat You Anyway.' Secrets Of Snow-Diving Foxes

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 04:43

They leap into the air, adjust their tails, land headfirst in the snow, burrow down and hit a teeny moving target — buried 3 feet below. It's their lunch. How does a fox catch a mouse in winter? This is amazing.

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Wicked Winter Storm Leaves Deadly Trail Behind As It Moves Out

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 04:00

After roaring into the Northeast and New England, where it has dumped 2 feet of snow in some places, the system is heading for the Canadian Maritimes and out to sea. As it blasted parts of the nation, the storm caused at least 11 deaths and thousands of canceled flights.

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Busy Winter Storm Brings Snow, Cold To Northeast

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 00:55

A blustering post-Christmas snowstorm has dropped nearly 2 feet of snow just north of Boston, shut down major highways in New York and forced U.S. airlines to cancel thousands of flights nationwide. It is continuing its bitter cold journey through the Northeast.

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Broadway's 'Spider-Man' Musical Turns Off The Lights At Last

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 00:26

By most estimates, the trouble-plagued show will have lost about $60 million when it closes tomorrow. It has been commercial theater's most stunning flop.

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Bjarke Ingels: An Architect For A Moment Or An Era?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-01-03 00:25

Cartooning was his passion as a kid, and he enrolled in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture to become better at drawing backgrounds. Now, some call Ingels a "starchitect," because his challenging designs are getting built.

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