National / International News

Three men wanted by police after rape

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:48
Police search for three men after a teenager is raped in Ayrshire as she was making her way home in the early hours of Saturday.

In Posthumous Riposte, Editor Of 'Charlie Hebdo' Targets 'Islamophobia'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:44

Stephane Charbonnier, who was killed in the Jan. 7 attack on the French satirical magazine, says the term Islamophobia protects Islam more than it does Muslims — and plays into the hands of racists.

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Lawro's predictions v Wade 'Bad News' Barrett

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:43
BBC Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson takes on WWE wrestler Wade 'Bad News' Barrett for the weekend's FA Cup and Premier League fixtures.

Study: Insurers Fail To Cover All Prescribed Contraceptives

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:38

An analysis of health plans in five states found limited or no coverage for some forms of contraception. Insurers sometimes imposed copays or required women to pay the full cost of the contraceptives.

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VIDEO: Snowboarder's 1800 degree jump

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:12
Snowboarder Billy Morgan becomes the first person to land an 1800 degree spinning jump, on the slopes in northern Italy.

Kane among four named for PFA double

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:09
Harry Kane is one of four players to make the shortlist for both the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year prize.

Men Strive To Give More To Charity When The Fundraiser Is Cute

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 09:00

If you're wondering how to get more people to contribute to your online charity drive, consider a photo of you smiling. Even better if you're an attractive woman. Biology is to blame, researchers say.

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Express owner Desmond gives UKIP £1m

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:46
Publisher Richard Desmond, who owns companies including the publishers of the Daily and Sunday Express, has donated £1m to UKIP, he says.

Homeless Shelter Opts To Close Instead Of Accepting People On Drugs, Alcohol

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:43

A group that runs a homeless shelter in Manchester, Conn., will close its 40-bed facility rather than change its rules to comply with a state funding order.

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UK men face Islamic State charge

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:39
Three Birmingham men are charged with attempting to leave the UK to join the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Nicholson challenge: A tough message for the politicians

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:36
The intervention of former NHS boss Sir David Nicholson has certainly electrified the election campaign debate about the future of the NHS.

Is Google a fading force?

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:36
New figures show that in Europe Google has between 90% and 95% of the desktop search market - in the US it's only 64%. Why?

Missing teen 'groomed then murdered'

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:32
A man groomed "troubled" Blackpool teenager Paige Chivers before murdering her, a jury hears.

Seldon to become university head

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:32
Sir Anthony Seldon is going to switch from running an independent school to running an independent university.

US Navy develops 'swarming' drones

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:31
The US Navy is developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, that can be launched from a cannon and "swarm" in a co-ordinated attack.

Putin Defends Missile Deal With Iran, Says No Russian Troops In Ukraine

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:20

The Russian president's comments were part of a four-hour-long call-in TV show that has become an annual tradition. He also criticized the West for its treatment of Moscow.

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What makes a land of opportunity

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:18

Whether it's going from the proverbial rags to the proverbial riches, or just doing a little better than your parents, stories of upward mobility have long been a part of how we define the American dream. But how possible is that dream today? A group of economists at Harvard and UC Berkeley have been looking in to that question recently. It turns out the answer varies widely depending on geography.

Part of the researchers’ theory is that by looking at places with especially bad rates of upward mobility, to see what those places have in common and what they’re missing, we can learn something about how to optimize chances for upward mobility everywhere.

Which is what brought me to Dayton, Ohio, recently. The Dayton metro area has one of the worst rates of economic mobility in the country. Other areas with poor rates include Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.

In Dayton, 40 percent of children born poor, stay poor.  Just five percent make it to the top fifth of earners by the time they're adults. Before we get to some of the things that may drive those statistics, it's worth pointing out that Dayton used to have a very different reputation.

For much of the early 20th century, Dayton was known for innovation, opportunity and upward mobility. The area was full of people from humble backgrounds who “made it.” The story of the Wright Brothers and their airplane is one of the best known. But there is also the story of their high school classmate, the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Dunbar was born in Dayton, in 1872, to parents who'd been born in to slavery. After graduating high school, he was too poor to afford college. He worked as an elevator operator. To support his writing, he sold copies of his poems for a dollar to people who rode on his elevator.

A decade later, Dunbar had catapulted himself in to a different life. He was the first African American poet to become internationally famous. He met the Queen of England and Teddy Roosevelt. He was a major inspiration for poets in the Harlem Renaissance and throughout the twentieth century, including Maya Angelou. Her poem "Caged Bird" is a direct reference to Dunbar’s poem "Sympathy.”

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—

When he beats his bars and he would be free;

It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—

I know why the caged bird sings!

In early twentieth century Dayton, Dunbar could turn his literary success in to economic success. That fact is still evident today on what is now called Paul Laurence Dunbar Street, where a stately Italianate-style two-story home stands. Dunbar bought the building in 1904 at the height of his fame.

“He really wanted to purchase the finest home that he could afford,” says Alex Heckman, who gives tours of the home for the group Dayton History. “It was a lovely middle class neighborhood when he was living here.”

But the neighborhood has changed since Dunbar's time. Dilapidated and boarded up homes now surround the Dunbar House. Heckman says he worries about bringing visitors here. In just the last few years, three violent felonies have taken place on the property, or right next to it.

“There was a homicide victim whose body was dumped and set on fire literally feet from the visitor's center entrance. There was a prostitute shot in the alley behind this historic barn. And a few doors down, a young man was shot,” Heckman says. “The last half century of disinvestment in neighborhoods like this one... it’s tragic.”

The Paul Laurence Dunbar Home is now a stately historic landmark, in the middle of an impoverished neighborhood.

Krissy Clark/Marketplace

How does a place that celebrates a man who so famously achieved the proverbial American dream become a place full of such nightmares?

That is of course not something the handful of paragraphs that make up this article can fully answer. But the fact that Dunbar’s former neighborhood and many others like it in cities across the country, have become so disinvested and so economically isolated — that fact in itself has become a key focal point of economic research on upward mobility.

“Areas where there's more concentrated poverty — more economic segregation — tend to have lower rates of upward mobility,” says Harvard economist Nathan Hendren.

Hendren is part of a team of researchers at Harvard and UC Berkeley who have combed through decades of Internal Revenue Service data to track the earnings of children born into poor families as they reach adulthood. The team wanted to figure out which places have the best rates of upward mobility, which have the worst, and why.

They have looked at all kinds of possible factors that might be at play: the health of a region’s overall labor market, its median income, tax policies, percentage of immigrants, even the number of bowling alleys per capita (the theory is bowling alleys might be a sign of broader community engagement).

Among all the factors the team analyzed, a few patterns rose to the top. Areas with the worst rates of economic mobility tend to have worse schools and less stable families, which isn’t all that surprising. Perhaps less obvious was the fact that areas with poor economic mobility also tended to have more income inequality and economic segregation.

A map of Dayton, Ohio census data from 2010 color-coded by race. Blue dots represent white residents, green dots represent black residents. Click for a zoom-able, interactive version.

Courtesy: Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

“It’s really about the extent to which the poor at the bottom of the income distribution are geographically segregated from the middle class and the upper class,” Hendren says. “Are people from disadvantaged backgrounds economically integrated in to the local area?”

In other words, a crucial part of economic mobility seems to be whether rich and poor and middle class people are bumping in to each other, and interacting on a daily basis.

For Kathleen Somerset-Fields, who grew up in Dayton in the 1990s and 2000s, the answer to that question was a distinct “No.”

As a child, Somerset-Fields lived in a public housing project not far from Paul Laurence Dunbar's home, but long after he died, once the area was known for concentrated poverty and extreme racial segregation. It’s a part of Dayton known the "West Side.” Somerset-Fields says stereotypes about West Dayton are so ingrained that she tries to avoid saying that's where she grew up during job interviews. 

“When you put that down in your resume, it's like ‘Oh, the West Side of Dayton, here we go,’” she says. “I don't want to be looked at like that. I'm not the West.”

Growing up, Somerset-Fields faced an overwhelming tangle of struggles. Her mom and step-father battled with drug addiction. Somerset-Fields and her siblings were moved in to foster care for a time. At 13, she had her first child and was basically the mother to her six younger siblings—paying bills, and managing the food stamps and government assistance they survived on.

“It was hard — but I'm grateful for it,” she says, her voice getting lower. “I would say it empowered me. It really did. To strive for better. To want better. To do better.”

And somehow, Somerset-Fields seems to be beating the odds working against those born in to poor families in Dayton and places like it. Today, she is the assistant manager of a youth program at a community center in Dayton. She says she is definitely not rich, but she is not poor either.

“I consider myself surviving.  Is that a category?” she laughs. “Surviving on the good end.”

Of course, it's impossible to say exactly why Somerset-Fields found a way to climb out of poverty when forty percent of her peers in Dayton have not. But when I ask her what she thinks, she immediately points to one relationship in her life, with a teacher she met in a GED class when she was 16 named Diane Brogan-Adams.

On Friday, we look at the two women's relationship and the support it provided, which researchers think may be a key ingredient for economic mobility.

How octopuses coordinate their arms

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:08
Researchers reveal the secrete of an octopus's unique movement, revealing how the animals co-ordinate their eight, flexible arms.

VIDEO: The highlights of campaign day 18

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 08:08
Warnings from leaders about other parties, and about the funding of the NHS on day 18 of the election campaign.

Gene study 'explains quick thinking'

BBC - Thu, 2015-04-16 07:56
Genetic differences could explain why some people are quicker thinkers in middle age and later life, a study of data from 30,000 people suggests.

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