National News

'Torture Report' Reshapes Conversation In Guantanamo Courtroom

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 23:57

Last year's release of a Senate report on CIA interrogation practices means lawyers for the accused Sept. 11 plotters can now discuss in court the treatment they say their clients endured.

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D.C. Bible Museum Will Be Immersive Experience, Organizers Say

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 23:53

Just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, construction is underway for the Museum of the Bible, which will hold about 40,000 biblical artifacts from the family of Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

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Recruiting Better Talent With Brain Games And Big Data

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 23:50

Some companies are using surveys or brain games to assess what kind of workers candidates are. Employers say the tests can help reduce turnover and surface talent recruiters might otherwise overlook.

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Guilty Verdict Returned In 'American Sniper' Murder Trial

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 18:44

Ex-Marine Eddie Ray Routh was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing former U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, whose bestseller autobiography became the award-winning movie, and a friend.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Faces Runoff In Re-Election Bid

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 18:26

The one-time White House chief of staff will face off against a longtime county commissioner in April.

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Rebuffs Senate Democrats' Meeting Request

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 17:01

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin had invited Benjamin Netanyahu for a closed-door meeting during his trip to Washington next week. Netanyahu was invited to speak to Congress by Republicans.

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Even Pickaxes Couldn't Stop The Nation's First Oil Pipeline

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 16:20

The debate over Keystone XL is nothing compared to the battle over the nation's first commercial oil pipeline. It transformed how energy was transported forever — but not without sabotage and threats.

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Tables Have Turned As Senate Barrels Toward Homeland Security Deadline

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 15:22

In many ways, nothing has changed from past funding deadlines. Except this time it's the Republicans howling at the Democrats for being the obstructionists.

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In Boston, just getting to work is a job in itself

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-24 14:18

Just in case you haven’t heard, Boston has been getting pounded with snow.

Roads are so clogged that some two-way streets have temporarily been designated one-way. Like a lot of other institutions in the city, Boston’s mass transit system – the oldest in America -- broke down under the strain. Trains and buses are running late, if at all. Exasperated Boston residents agree it’s tough to get anywhere these days.

Kenneth Williams, 65, takes the bus to his job as a detox counselor and over the past few weeks has regularly been an hour late.

“The management looks at me like what’s up, again? Again?” he says.

Williams’ bus ride takes twice as long because traffic on snow-constricted roads moves at a crawl. The trains are no better – many of the above-ground lines aren’t running. Punishing weather has broken so many parts of the archaic transit system that officials say it’ll take a month to recover.

It’s all made for “total frustration on the part of both employees and employers,” says Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. The economic research firm IHS estimates that the Massachusetts economy is taking a $265 million dollar hit every day the situation continues.

“Some employers have allowed their workers to work from home – those particularly who have technology that allows for that,” Guzzi says.

But, of course, technology doesn’t help the many businesses that need employees on-site. Kevin Long, executive chef of the restaurant Red Lantern, says challenges have been overwhelming for businesses like his. Like many employers whose workers get paid by the hour, Long sats when his employees don’t show up, he can’t pay them. But he’s trying to be flexible and understanding.

“We’ve put employees in Ubers and taken care of taxis and carpooled, picked people up, dropped them off,” he says. But that hasn't always worked.

“Obviously we’ve had some days that we’ve had to close. We hate to close – you hate to shut the doors to people that might be trying to get out.”

While there’s no law against laying off people for not being able to get to work, Professor Tom Kochan of the MIT Sloan School of Management said if employers go that route, it might backfire.

“I think these are times that are testing the bonds between employers and workers,” he says. “I think in the majority of cases it is strengthening those bonds. But in some cases it may fray them if one party or the other thinks the other one is taking advantage of the situation.”

These times are also testing the bonds between businesses and their customers. Bright Horizons Family Solutions -- one of the state’s largest employers – provides back-up emergency childcare for employees of places like hospitals and law firms. CEO David Lissy says to keep that service going over the past few weeks, Bright Horizons had to find  alternatives to public transportation for its own workers. 

“Times like this really are times for us to shine and really engender a lot loyalty with our clients,” he says.

And for those companies that can’t shine just now, they’re soldiering on with the hope that winter will soon end.

Priority Bicycle's quest to build a better bike

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-24 14:12

Dave Weiner, founder of Priority Bicycles, quit his job running a tech company to reinvent the bicycle. Why?

"I had this desire to bring my knowledge of supply-chain technology and bicycles together to build a simpler bicycle," Weiner says. 

For Weiner, that meant rethinking every part of the bicycle, from the tires to the handle bars.

"The most noticeable feature on our bike is the belt-drive. That was the hardest part of the engineering," he says.

But Weiner had to deal with more than just engineering challenges.

"The big bike manufacturers want to work with the big well-established companies," Weiner says, so he had to go all over the world sourcing parts for his bike.

With a background in the bicycle industry, Weiner was confident in his ability to build a better bike, but he needed funding too.

"And that's where we went to Kickstarter and said 'Does our idea make sense? Do you like it as much as we do?'"

According to Weiner, the Kickstarter campaign was a success. "We had over 1,500 backers back us for bicycles. They all received their bicycles on time or early. And they're all happy."

Gerbils Likely Pushed Plague To Europe in Middle Ages

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:53

Shifts in climate in the Middle Ages likely drove plague bacteria from gerbils in Asia to people in Europe, research now suggests. Rats don't deserve all the blame.

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Here's Where Emoji Skin-Tone Colors Come From

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:42

Apple will be rolling out with a more diverse set of emojis with browner — and yellower — skin tones. Here's the science behind how they come up with the colors.

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Little-Known Laws Help Sex-Trafficking Victims Clear Criminal Records

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:38

"I'm not ever going to forget what I've done," says a woman once convicted of prostitution. "But, at the same time, I don't want it thrown in my face every time I'm trying to seek employment."

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Younger Women Hesitate To Say They're Having A Heart Attack

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:26

Even when women suspected they were having a heart attack, they didn't report it because they feared being called hypochondriacs, a study finds. That may contribute to women's higher death rates.

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Jordan's King Balances Threats Abroad And Critics At Home

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:24

Jordanians are now supportive of the military campaign against the Islamic State. But King Abdullah still faces domestic opponents, religious and secular, who chafe at restrictions they face at home.

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College? Career Tech? In Nashville, Teens Do Both

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:16

Vocational education is enjoying a renaissance in many U.S. schools. In Nashville, all high schoolers, regardless of college plans, are encouraged to take three career training classes.

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How Did A Celibate 82-Year-Old Buddhist Monk Contract HIV?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 12:01

His doctor injected him with a used syringe. Each year, millions of people contract HIV, hepatitis and other diseases that way. The solution: a syringe designed to prevent re-use.

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U.S. Diplomat Says Change In Immigration Policy For Cubans Is Not On The Table

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 11:54

Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. official who will lead negotiations on reestablishing diplomatic ties with the Cubans, says that this will be a long journey, but she has hope for better relations.

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Will Vaping Reignite The Battle Over Smoking On Airplanes?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-02-24 11:37

It's been 25 years since people could light up with impunity on domestic airline flights. But that doesn't mean they're not still trying. And e-cigarettes are reviving conflict over clean air aloft.

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'Audit the Fed' illustrates the politics behind policy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-02-24 11:28

The Federal Reserve's Janet Yellen delivered her semiannual update to Congress today amid calls to audit the Fed's monetary policy decision-making. Yellen denounced efforts to increase Congressional oversight of how and why the Fed decides to print or buy back money, and Fed experts say it was designed to be insulated from political pressure. 

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