National News

#NPRreads: Middle East Air Quality, Lead Poisoning, And Jell-O

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:03

Around the newsroom and around the world, here's what we're reading this week.

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Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Reunite For War's 50th Anniversary

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:01

Pilots and their families planted a tree at Arlington National Cemetery, and honored comrades who were killed in the war.

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In A Remote Part Of Washington, A Scramble To Save Cattle From Flames

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:01

More than 1,000 square miles of wildfires are burning in the state. In the isolated Okanogan Valley, where power and phone lines have burned, cattle ranchers are doing what they can to spare herds.

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At Instagram, it's no longer hip to be square

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:00

Until now, if you wanted to advertise on Instagram, you were kind of boxed in.

"You needed to receive prior approval from Instagram and have rather lofty budgets in order to be appearing on their platform," says Nate Carter, managing director with eEffective, an ad agency trading desk.

This fall, Instagram is planning to open its app to all advertisers. And that’s one reason the company is changing its format beyond the traditional square box. It wants to be more flexible, in part, so advertisers can repurpose the ads they use on TV.

Already, one of every five pictures and videos posted on Istagram is not square. There are a number of apps designed to get around Instagram’s format.

“People have been trying to game the system already,” says Wally Krantz, an executive creative director at the branding firm Landor.

Legend has it that Instagram uses the square because Kevin Systrom, the company’s founder, used a Holga camera in college that took square photos.

“Traditionally, if you think of Rolleiflex cameras and Hasselblads,” Krantz says, the images were square.

Some are already regretting Instagram's move away from the classic format. Bret Hansen, a creative director with global branding firm siegel+gale, says fiddling with that look could be risky. “By changing it up, they’re kind of diluting their brand image a little bit.”

Still, says Carter, if Instagram manages to bring in more advertisers by dropping its box, it stands to make billions. It's pretty simple, he says,  “it’s no longer hip to be square.”

Weekly Wrap: The stock market, oil and Janet Yellen

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:00

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Nela Richardson from Redfin and the Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy. The big topics this week: stock market fluctuations, possible peril in China's economy, a 20-percent jump in oil prices and what is Janet Yellen thinking? 

Refugee smuggling is a big, bad business

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 13:00

Europe's refugee and migrant crisis appears to be getting worse by the day. In Austria, a truck found full of decomposed bodies is now believed to have held 71 people, including 12 women and children. The police say they were likely refugees from Syria. And an estimated 150 people drowned off the coast of Libya when a boat enroute to Italy sank.

Most of these people would not have even started their journey were it not for the fact that so many people want to get into the people-smuggling business. These shadowy entrepreneurs  create and maintain the routes to Europe's borders and beyond. They are rarely masterminds controlling an entire route. Rather, they mostly make up a network middlemen who charge refugees a toll along the way. The costs add up quickly. Which means that in many cases, only people of a certain means can even afford the attempted trip.

On the Greek island of Lesbos, refugees who survive a harrowing boat ride from Turkey have reason to celebrate.

“We tried two times to come here,” one unnamed refugee says. “The first time they let us come back to Turkey and the second one we succeed.”

She’s still got a long way to go – through Greece, and then on to Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. And at each point, she may have to strike a deal with a different smuggler. Often the middleman trick refugees, by offering teaser rates and then racking up the bill.  

“They start little and then on the way they make you pay more and more,” UN refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch says from the Hungarian border. “If you don’t pay here, you don’t pay there, then you are going to end up like this and like that.”

Often the price of transport varies, depending on the traveler. In Libya, across the Mediterranean from Italy, boat smugglers charge Syrians the most, upwards of a thousand dollars.

“The Libyans consider Syrians the most affluent of all the migrants,” says Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Geneva. “They will be charging top dollar to put them on a boat to Italy, all the way down to, say, a West African from Mali or Togo might be charged 400 Euros.”

 That’s about 450 dollars. But before you board a life-threatening fishing boat ride, you have to get yourself to a North African port. For many, that requires a trip across the Sahara Desert. Patrick Kingsley, migration reporter at the Guardian newspaper says that's when refugees or migrants are particularly vulnerable.

“The way that they pay is by being kidnapped and essentially held for ransom,” Kingsley says. “It’s very common for the smugglers to put a phone to their lips while they are being tortured. And they are forced to call their families, who then have to wire money to the smugglers. It might be one thousand dollars, it might be much more. It just depends on how much they think your family is worth."

Kingsley says a migrant taking an African route to Europe may encounter five stages of smuggler payments.  And the migrant may pay multiple times at every one of those stages. To drivers, militiamen, boat owners and border guards.

I spoke with Kingsley for more than half an hour about the business of smuggling refugees. It was a fascinating conversation. You can hear the entire interview below:

How fear plays a role in our finances

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:53

What was your reaction when you first saw the stock market drop earlier this week? Something like this?

Despite all the advice about playing the long game when it comes to the stock market, the first reaction a lot of us have when we see all that red is fear. David Zald is a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, and it's his job to figure out what fear is and why it makes us do what we do.

"Areas in the brain such as the amygdala and hypothalamus start firing away, and they create multiple things going on at once. A major part of it also is what's going on physically. You know that tension in the stomach? Our eyes will basically go wide so we can take in any information that we need, adrenaline starts pumping. And there is what we refer to as a fight or flight response. But even in situations where there's nothing to run away from, we're still geared up to act in those situations."


But how we react to that fear depends on the person. Some seek fear — and can even get addicted to it

"There are very different thresholds for triggering these responses," he says. Where as some people will respond to even very minor provocations with a full-out, 'It's a disaster, it's a catastrophe!" sort of response, there are many others where you have to push it to a really high level before they start to respond to emotionally."

Doctors Without Borders To Take Legal Action Against Bollywood Film

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:28

The aid organization also known as Médecins Sans Frontières says that Phantom portrays a worker for a "confusingly similar" group who helps track down a terrorist.

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Dartmouth Football's Brilliant Dummies

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:23

Two then-students at Dartmouth College built a game-changing mobile robotic football dummy that they say will decrease head injuries sustained from repeated tackling collisions.

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China's growing, but not fast enough for some

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:03

Though China is about 6,500 miles away from the U.S., uncertainty in the Chinese economy can create big changes in ours. This past week, big drops in the Shanghai Composite stock index created a mini-panic in our own economy.

Clayton Dube, director of USC's US-China Institute, says China's reach goes beyond the United States, too: 

"What has been going on for about five, six, maybe seven years, is that China has been responsible for the bulk of the economic growth worldwide. And that's because the economic engine of China has been humming along, when for part of that time, the American economy was sputtering in the great financial crisis. So, China has been driving the world economy. About a year and a half ago, the Chinese economy began to slow. Despite that slowing, Chinese investors have poured into the stock market, driving valuations really quite high. About two months ago, they began to pull out. Over the last 10 weeks or so, the market has dropped by 42 percent."


Click play above to learn more about China's economy and future.


Hundreds Of Desperate Migrants Feared Dead Off Libya And In Austria

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:01

Austrian police say that dozens of people died after being crammed into the back of a smuggler's truck, which was found abandoned on a highway Thursday. And hundreds are feared dead after two boats sank off Libya's coast.

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On Eve Of Katrina Anniversary, Bush Takes A Tour Of New Orleans 10 Years On

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:01

Former President George W. Bush is visiting the city on Friday in honor of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. His administration was criticized for how it dealt with the storm's aftermath.

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Clinton Takes The Stage At Democratic Summit, Trying To Quell Concerns

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:01

As speculation swirls on a possible run by Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton's campaign is trying to show strength. She addressed Democratic National Committee members Friday in Minneapolis.

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Comparing The Top Boss' Pay To Yours

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:01

Starting in 2018, companies will have to disclose how CEO pay compares to median worker pay. A recent survey of the biggest CEO-to-worker pay ratios shows Discovery at the top at nearly 2,000-to-1.

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Billions Spent On Flood Barriers, But New Orleans Still A 'Fishbowl'

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 12:01

People in New Orleans say the city finally has the storm defense system it should have had before Hurricane Katrina — at a cost of $14.5 billion. Now someone needs to cover the cost to keep it strong.

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After Mysterious Absence, Dallas DA In Treatment For Mental Illness

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 11:58

Dallas District Attorney Susan Hawk announced she is being treated for depression after three weeks of questions over her whereabouts. Her staff had said she was on a long vacation.

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One photographer, 35 years of campaign history

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-08-28 11:48

Jim Cole has photographed every New Hampshire primary since 1980. He's snapped photos of everyone from George H.W. Bush sticking his head out of an airplane to the Lobsterman who ran for president in 2000. He's back at it this time around for the Associated Press.

On how to get a good shot:

I’ve done so many primaries now that I try to concentrate on what they’re doing instead of what they look like.... I try as hard as I can not to touch another photographer when I’m taking a picture … I try and foresee what possibly can happen and where my best chance is of getting something that’s different and unusual.

On shooting newbie delegates:

The ones that are going through it the first time, at least this time around, they’re the ones that in my opinion are doing it right. They’re doing the hands on. They’re doing the small venues, the coffee shops and these town halls. The so-called veteran campaigns have everything all set up in stage where the candidate comes into the room, grabs the microphone, gives their 20-minute, 30-minutes speech and then says, "I’ll take questions, take questions," and then they go out the same door, say goodbye.

On knowing when he has a good picture:

If there’s something that happens and I press the button, I do feel good about what I have. I was taking pictures of Marco Rubio in Littleton, and when he was done talking, he went to speak with this woman who was in a wheelchair. There was a really nice moment of her holding with both of her hands, holding both of his hands and the two looking at each other right in the eye. And it made for a nice shot, and I got it, and I knew I had it.

Indicted Congressman Challenges Limits On Contact With Colleagues

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 11:47

Rep. Chaka Fattah was indicted on on conspiracy, bribery, and fraud counts, and now says restrictions on his ability to meet with his colleagues is an "undue and unnecessary burden."

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University Of Illinois Fires Football Coach Over Handling Of Player Injuries

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 11:46

Illini Director of Athletics Mike Thomas fired Tim Beckman on Friday; a school statement says the decision was made "in the best interests of student-athletes."

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China's Tricky Economic Transition: From Steel Mills To E-Commerce

NPR News - Fri, 2015-08-28 11:39

Shanghai's stock market rose Friday and investors are relieved. That doesn't change the fact that China's economy is undergoing a wrenching transition away from manufacturing, with more pain to come.

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