National / International News

On Twitter, addition by gender subtraction

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-31 02:00

Earlier this week, Twitter surpassed investor expectations on both revenue and user growth.

However, for frequent users, one of its challenges is that depending on whom you follow, the conversation can feel repetitive. Katie Notopoulos, senior editor at Buzzfeed, decided to solve the problem by unfollowing men on Twitter. 

Notopoulos drew much of her inspiration from a similar social experiment of only retweeting women for a year

While she started the unfollowing six months ago as part of a stunt, she says she stuck with it because it markedly improved her Twitter experience. 

"It turns out it's really nice," Katie says.

She says a major reason this has turned out so well is that being forced to follow a new set of people exposed her to a whole new set of voices and perspectives. 

How to make ambulances safer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-31 02:00

The professional lives of emergency medical services workers are often intense and dramatic. But dangerous?

It is dangerous — EMS workers have on-the-job fatality rates that are nearly three times the national average of other professions. That’s prompted many in the industry to call for better, safer ambulances.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology division has taken up that challenge, drafting new rules and recommendations for ambulance safety, including new standards for crash testing. 

Ambulances are long overdue for a redesign, says Skip Kirkwood, a director and chief paramedic at Durham County Emergency Medical Services in North Carolina.

“Today’s ambulance design is essentially unchanged since about 1974,” he explains.

Prior to the mid '70s, Kirkwood says ambulances were often adapted from a Cadillac hearse design. They then moved to the truck or van chassis we often still see today.

“Essentially, those ambulances have been boxes built by ambulance manufacturers, many of whom had their original heritage as motor home or Winnebago or travel trailer builders,” he says.

The body style means that accidents can be dangerous for EMS workers and the patients they are transporting.

“Let’s say the ambulance rolls on its side, the stretcher is now hanging up in the air and will fall out of [its] mount,” says Kirkwood. “If the ambulance decelerates quickly, that mount comes loose from the floor and the patient may fly forward like a torpedo.”

The emergency medical technician or paramedic might not be properly restrained either, says Jim Grove, a senior advisor in DHS’s interagency office of science and technology and a former EMS worker.

“When I would ride in the back of an ambulance, it was not uncommon to stand up and be doing chest compressions on somebody and having someone be holding on to my bunker pants and going down the road at 35, 40, 50 miles per hour even,” he recalls.

Based on DHS research, Grove says future ambulances might feature pivoting chairs that slide along a track, so EMS workers can treat a patient and reach their gear while properly restrained. DHS is also working on crash-test standards for ambulances going 30 miles per hour.

“I can’t answer for why it’s taken this long to get to this point,” Grove says. “There has been crash testing done, but not to level [Homeland Security’s science and technology division] has been doing, and especially with crash testing dummies.”

One potential hurdle could be cost. Grove says early estimates say these new features could add $10,000 to $15,000 to the price of an ambulance. 

It will eventually be up to individual states to adopt any new safety requirements and take on those costs.

VIDEO: Australian diver lands flat on back

BBC - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:58
Australian diver Grant Nel scores zero after slipping on the springboard and landing in the pool flat on his back in the men's 3m preliminary round.

VIDEO: Daylight reveals gutted Eastbourne pier

BBC - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:57
Fire crews have saved two thirds of Eastbourne Pier after fire destroyed part of the structure, leaving a metal skeleton.

The very public NHS privatisation debate

BBC - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:51
Is privatisation of the NHS in England on the agenda?

Israel Calls Up 16,000 Reserves Amid Intensive Gaza Fighting

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:46

The new call-up follows another day of intensive fighting, in which tank shells struck a U.N. school where Palestinians were sheltering and an airstrike tore through a crowded Gaza shopping area.

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Cadbury manor blaze was arson attack

BBC - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:41
The former home of the Cadbury family in Birmingham has been destroyed in an arson attack.

UK border staff 'not ready' for Ebola

BBC - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:23
Immigration and customs staff feel unprepared to deal with people arriving in the UK with suspected cases of the Ebola virus, a union leader warns.

VIDEO: Is it a 'good' summer for insect bites?

BBC - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:16
An increasing number of people are falling prey to creatures like ticks, horseflies, midges and mosquitoes as warm, wet weather creates perfect breeding conditions for insects.

What Somebody's Mummy Can Teach You About Heart Disease

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:12

Mummies from Ancient Egypt, Peru and the U.S. all show signs of hardened arteries. But why? Researchers say bad hygiene, open hearths and maybe some deeply ingrained genetic factors were to blame.

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With Congress Set To Adjourn, Border Crisis Remains Unresolved

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

Votes are set Thursday in both the GOP-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate on bills addressing the young migrants seeking refuge. But the competing bills have little chance of being reconciled.

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Water, Electricity And Other Needs In Short Supply In Gaza

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

In Gaza, the price of drinking water has soared, there's little electricity — and another shortage is beginning: people displaced by the fighting are waiting in long lines to get food.

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Fighting Continues To Block Investigators From MH17 Wreckage

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

Financial Times reporter Guy Chazan tells Linda Wertheimer that while the world is focused on the crash site of MH17, civilians are dying in battles between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia rebels.

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Groundwater Is Drying Up Fast Under Western States, Study Finds

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

The Colorado River Basin, which supplies irrigation and groundwater for most of the West, is drying up faster than expected. Part of the problem is a drought-driven over-reliance on groundwater.

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As Volunteerism Explodes In Popularity, Who's It Helping Most?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

More young adults and teens are swapping sun tanning and sightseeing on vacations for working in orphanages, building schools and teaching English abroad.

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In Kansas City, Obama Brushes Off House GOP's Vote To Sue Him

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

Congress leaves some significant business unfinished as it goes on break. But the talk of Washington and beyond is Wednesday's vote by House republicans to authorize a lawsuit against President Obama.

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New Bill Aims To Hold Colleges Accountable For Campus Sex Crimes

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

Under new bipartisan legislation, colleges and universities could face strong new penalties for mishandling cases of sexual assault on campus. Critics question whether they can be implemented.

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Argentina Is In Default. What Does That Actually Mean?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

Talks between Argentina and holdout bondholders collapsed Wednesday. With no additional talks scheduled, it appears Argentina has defaulted for the second time in about 12 years.

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Why Hamas Is A Bigger Challenge For Israel Now Than In The Past

NPR News - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:07

Christian Science Monitor reporter Christa Case Bryant tells Renee Montagne why the Israeli army is finding Hamas a more formidable foe now than during the 2009 war.

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This headline was plagiarized, please don't Google it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-07-31 01:00

As the Public Editor of the New York Times says, journalistic plagiarism is in the news.

(I didn't steal that idea, I attributed it, which is a key difference between plagiarizing and not plagiarizing.)

Some of the people in the news for committing journalistic plagiarism have the same name as me. Don't get confused: I am not Benny Johnson.

I did not work for a paragon of modern journalism called The Blaze before being hired to cover politics in inventive ways at Buzzfeed in 2012. I did not plagiarize parts of 41 stories I wrote at Buzzfeed, before being admirably fired by Buzzfeed.

By the way, I do like Buzzfeed. A lot. Even when Buzzfeed doesn't like me. I just talked to one of the site's senior editors about why she stopped following people like me (read: dudes) on Twitter. 

But even though I go by Ben instead of Benny, I have been thinking a lot about plagiarism this week. It's one of the things journalists are most scared of, and for good reason. Even if it's a mistake, it's rarely an honest one. Unlike in the world of fiction, journalistic plagiarism is a scarlet letter -- a final judgement. Plagiarism is the thing you do that almost immediately undermines all of the other work you've ever done.

What's interesting is that media in the Internet age spins ever closer to regular idea theft. Rewriting or re-contextualizing the hard reporting work of others is its own kind of job, and hard-working people are doing it all the time. I was just talking with a Marketplace reporter yesterday who was excited about an idea -- an angle, really -- but was worried she was actually plagiarizing her own work from a few years back. She was Googling like mad to try and avoid it. 

That's what's also strange about the Internet age. It is at once easier than ever to plagiarize and easier than ever to catch plagiarizers. The number of sources you could steal from has increased tenfold, but the nature of how those sources are organized online makes it easy to catch people. Yet another problem solved by big data.

That's how Benny Johnson got caught. Ironically, he was shaming another website for plagiarizing his work. And then some bloggers took a closer look at his work. It soon became clear, as Slate's David Weigel noted: "Anyone with a working Google machine can compare Johnson's text, which typically consists of captions below photos or gifs, to existing content on Wikipedia or Yahoo -- the sleuthing has turned up more short phrases and sentences that look cloned."

Maybe some day writers of all kinds will work in software that is constantly Googling each sentence we write to see if it's been written elsewhere. And maybe that's good news. Today I'm just glad that on the searchable Internet, I go by Ben, not Benny. 

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