National News

Dylann Roof Pleads Not Guilty To Federal Hate Crime Charges

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 09:58

The 21-year-old is accused of carrying out the ruthless attack that killed nine worshippers in a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., last month.

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#NPRReads: Considering The Language Of Wine And What's In A Toddler's Mouth

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 09:16

Also, we explore a piece that argues that you should want robots to take your job. No. Seriously.

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Marine Version Of F-35 Reportedly Deemed 'Combat Ready'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 09:10

With a total program cost estimated at $400 billion and a per-plane price tag of $135 million, the Joint Strike Fighter program is considered the most expensive in U.S. history.

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She Owes Her Activism To A Brave Mom, The ADA And Chocolate Cake

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 08:54

Born deaf and blind to a refugee mother, Haben Girma has had opportunities in the U.S. she'd never have had in Eritrea. But it was an urge for dessert that led her to advocate for the disabled.

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Toxic Lead Contaminates Some Traditional Ayurvedic Medicines

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 08:49

Traditional Ayurvedic treatments are popular in India and the United States, but some can be contaminated with high levels of lead and other toxic metals. People continue to be harmed.

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Despite High Expectations, Sentencing Reform Proposals Still On Ice

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 08:43

Sen. John Cornyn suggested a hearing and markup on reform proposals could be imminent. But multiple sources tell NPR that concrete language is still being hotly debated behind closed doors.

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Arson Attack That Killed Toddler In West Bank Is Called Terrorism

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 07:33

An 18-month old died in the fire. The perpetrators scrawled slogans in Hebrew on an outside wall of the house. Palestinian leaders blamed the Israeli government.

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New Ebola Vaccine Has '100 Percent' Effectiveness In Early Results

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 07:22

The trial of the VSV-EBOV vaccine was called Ebola ça Suffit – French for "Ebola that's enough." Researchers say it's both effective and quick, with no new Ebola cases 6 days after vaccination.

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Summer Olympics 2008 Host Beijing Awarded 2022 Winter Games

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 07:18

The International Olympic Committee has selected Beijing as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics. It's the first city ever to host both summer and winter games.

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Death Of Beloved Lion Heats Up Criticism Of Big Game Hunting

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 07:05

The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has highlighted big game hunting. Hunters legally kill more than 600 African lions every year. More than half the tourists hunting in Africa are American.

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In Report, Justice Accuses St. Louis County Family Court Of Racial Bias

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 06:03

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division found that the court fails to provide children adequate representation. In addition, it says the court treats black kids harsher than white ones.

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More Previously Uninsured Californians Got Coverage Under Obamacare

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 05:56

More than two-thirds of Californians who didn't have health insurance before the Affordable Care Act took full effect in 2014 have it now. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey documents the changes.

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Tonight, Look For A Rare (But Not Quite Blue) Moon

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 05:22

The modern definition of a "blue moon" has nothing to do with its color.

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Measuring The Power Of A Prison Education

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 05:03

Inmates who took college-level courses while in prison saw a 16 percent drop in their risk of re-incarceration.

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WikiLeaks Docs Purport To Show The U.S. Spied On Japan's Government

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 04:27

The documents also allege that the U.S. targeted Japanese banks and companies, including Mitsubishi.

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Early results suggest an effective Ebola vaccine

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-07-31 03:01

The world is on the verge of an effective Ebola vaccine — Findings were published on Friday in the medical journal ‘The Lancet.’  

The World Health Organization cautions that more research is needed, but early results are promising. Namely, after administering the vaccine to 4,000 people who were in close contact with Ebola patients, the treatment provided 100 percent protection.

As one epidemiologist put it on Twitter: “Hey science, you really, really inspire me. This is breathtaking news.”

What’s also breathtaking is that the research, development and testing of a vaccine typically takes a decade, and this one took 5 months.

“When there is an urgency to save lives, research and development can be fast-tracked and made to work for the common good,” says WHO Assistant-Director General Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny.

Kieny says the global response, where countries and their regulators worked closely with industry, could serve as a model for future outbreaks.

As impressive as the response was, Boston University Professor Kevin Outterson says there’s an even more fundamental lesson here. 

“The only way you would come up with something that quickly is if the basic research had been done for a decade before,” he says.

Modest funding from Canada, the U.S. and European governments in the early 2000s paved the way for today’s breakthrough, says Outterson.

Moving forward he says even with proposed increases in scientific research spending in Congress, the question is whether it’s a substantial enough investment.

PODCAST: Tuning with the push of a button

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-07-31 03:00

With another deadline on Monday for Puerto Rico to repay $60 million to bond holders, we take a look at the economic challenges for the commonwealth as tourism dips. Plus, we'll talk about Wall Streets' workout — two major fitness companies are planning IPOs. And a Nashville instrument maker has spent millions of dollars over the course of a decade trying to perfect the self-tuning guitar. But this year, Gibson started making automatic tuners a standard feature on most of its electric guitars.

Beijing Awarded The 2022 Olympic Winter Games

NPR News - Fri, 2015-07-31 02:18

With the selection, Beijing will become the first city to host both winter and summer games. Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games.

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Oceanliners cruise to better results

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-07-31 02:00

Royal Caribbean, one of the leading global cruise operators, reported profits Friday that beat expectations. Morningstar reports the Wall Street consensus for earnings per share at 72 cents, contrasted with the company’s earnings of 66 cents per share for the same period last year.

The cruise industry has been through stormy times recently, including the global economic downturn and multiple public relations debacles on the high seas, some of them tragic: the capsizing and sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy, plus tourists stuck on disabled ships without working bathrooms and waves of illness among passengers on ships at sea.

Cruise-industry equity analyst Assia Georgieva at Infinity Research in Boca Raton, Florida, predicts that 2015, by comparison, will be a “stellar” year for leading cruise companies.

“Bookings in the U.S. and Canada are strong,” Georgieva says. “It’s not only the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Alaska is doing well, and at the same time, Carnival and Royal Caribbean have been expanding into China and earning double-digit returns.”

Maritime lawyer Jim Walker, who publishes a popular blog on all things cruise related, is often critical of the industry for its safety and environmental record, and for flagging its ships in minimally regulated countries such as Liberia and Panama.

Walker credits the industry with significant progress cleaning up its image and addressing some egregious consumer issues on board. “Public opinion is a far cry from where it was a couple years ago,” Walker  says. “There was a perception that it wasn’t safe to go on the high seas. We’ve seen new leadership in the industry. The industry is doing well in the minds of the public.”

But Walker warns that another wave of high-profile media-genic incidents at sea — involving illness, sexual assault or poor seamanship — could undermine consumer confidence and make would-be cruise passengers wary again.

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations wrap up in Maui

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-07-31 02:00

The latest round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership are set to wrap up Friday. Ministers from the U.S., Japan, Canada, and nine other countries are gathered at a resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui to try to hash out the agreement’s final details.

The negotiation process has stretched over five years, as negotiators have tried to find common ground across a slew of issues during calls, emails, video chats and periodic in-person meetings.

As TPP negotiations come closer to completion, negotiators must tackle the most contentious issues.

“As anyone who has been in trade negotiations knows, those final decisions are always the most difficult,” Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, said earlier this week.

While negotiations have taken place in private, the TPP’s final sticking points have included sugar, dairy, state-owned enterprises, and the period of exclusivity granted to the makers of certain types of drugs.

Outside the negotiation rooms, official advisors, congressional staff, trade groups, lobbyists and non-profit advocates roam the resorts’ lobby, using every spare plug to charge phone and laptops, meeting among themselves, and hoping to catch a moment with the delegates, either through official briefings or unguarded moments in the elevator or hotel restaurants.

“I’ve adopted the Starbucks strategy,” says James Love with Knowledge Ecology International, a non-profit organization that focuses on intellectual property issues. “When I see someone come up to get a coffee and I see a blue [identification] badge, I know they’re a delegate.”

He asks them how the negotiations are going, what areas they’re working on, and offers up his perspective on drug monopolies, among other IP issues.

“It’s a bit like that guy who hits on every woman in the bar,” Love admits. “A lot of people don’t like to do it because they feel like they’re being a jerk or it’s a little bit annoying, but I’m willing to do that.”

He’s chosen three issues to focus on as the trade enters its final stages of negotiation, based on where he thinks he can have the most impact. At this point, he says it’s too late for the long shots and focusing on the low-hanging fruit isn’t a good use of time.

“Balance is the key term or catch phrase,” says a weary Auggie Tantillo, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, who’s also prioritizing limited issues as negotiations wind down. He’s accepted that markets will open and has chosen to focus instead on what provisions might be put in place to ease the transition, such as eliminating tariffs gradually over time.

These agreements are “never done until they’re done,” he says.