National / International News

Former Ambassador To Russia: Putin Has No Master Plan For Ukraine

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:25

Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia from January 2012 to February 2014, says, "I've never seen [Putin] devote a speech to the necessity of reuniting Crimea with Russia. That came only recently."

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Missing In The Housing Recovery: New Houses

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:25

Even now, five years after the crash, homebuilding is stuck at half its normal level. And a hoped-for bounce after the harsh winter hasn't materialized. Some analysts blame higher mortgage rates.

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Bangladesh ferry capsizes in storm

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:19
A ferry carrying at least 200 people capsizes on a river during a storm in Bangladesh; a number of bodies have been recovered, police say.

Deadly blast at Syria-Turkey border

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:16
At least 43 people have been killed and dozens hurt by a suspected car bomb blast near a border crossing between Syria and Turkey, activists say.

We need to regain respect - Lancaster

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:13
Stuart Lancaster wants England to restore their reputation when they travel to New Zealand for June's three-Test tour.

NCAA academic rules hit smaller, poor colleges

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:11

At Savannah State University, a historically black college in Georgia, the school's Division 1 football team has no chance of making it to the playoffs next year. It's not because of the team record. Rather, it's among 36 teams nationwide barred from playoffs because of National Collegiate Athletic Association academic ratings.

"It kind of limits us to a certain type of recruit because you obviously can't go to postseason play," says Sterling Steward Jr., Savannah State's athletic director.

Like most of the teams on the list, Savannah State is among the Division 1 schools with fewer resources.

"We have a very limited budget, but we are very competitive in everything!" Steward says.

Even so, Savannah State is spending all it can on tutoring, study time, and other resources to improve its athletes' performance and graduation rates. Steward expects the school to be free of restrictions within two years.

The NCAA's so-called Academic Progress Rate started about a decade ago. It measures how many student athletes get good grades and stay in school or graduate. It's also getting tougher, which is why the number jumped from 13 barred from postseason play last year.

Critics of the NCAA are quick to point out, though, that none of the teams penalized this year are top tier schools with big budgets.

"You don't want the richer schools to suffer penalties, because they're the ones generating the money for you," says David Berri, a professor of economics at Southern Utah University.

He says the NCAA has a history of penalizing under-resourced colleges, while giving rich schools a pass, even crystalizing into a joke among NCAA-watchers: "We just found a major school was cheating again. Looks like another smaller school is going to need to pay a penalty," Berri recounts.

Berri thinks the Academic Progress Rate is a way for the NCAA to answer critics who think college sports have become too removed from academics. He notes that students can go pro after one year and not affect a school's score.

"It is done to address the criticism that a lot of these athletes are not being as educated as people would like them to be," he says.

The NCAA doesn't buy it. It says student performance is going up under the program, even at less-resourced institutions.

"The issue here, more than anything else, is making sure that all of our institutions are achieving an academic rate, where they are being successful and graduating students," says Azure Davey, director of academic and membership affairs at the NCAA. "There have been large strides made at our limited-resource institutions on an academic front."

The NCAA has provided more than $4 million to help schools like Savannah State provide tutoring and other services. And, Davey says, the NCAA has programs to give struggling schools more time too boost performance.

But as much as they improve, it's hard to compete with a college that can just throw money at the problem.

For another view of the story, here's a look at the schools that came out on top of the academic rankings.

Meet Thomas Piketty's translator

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:05

What’s at the top of The New York Times’s list of non-fiction bestsellers? A book on income inequality, called “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” by Thomas Piketty, a French economist.

It is something of a sensation, having sold 300,000 copies, and Piketty has become as much of a celebrity as an economist can be.

What you may not know is that the book is a translation, into English  from the original French, and the translator, a man named Arthur Goldhammer, is a something of a celebrity in his world too.

Goldhammer met Piketty at Harvard University, where the economist was lecturing a few years ago. Later, Piketty asked him to translate “Le Capital au XXIe siècle” into English.

It took Goldhammer five months to translate some 600 pages. “The manuscript came in at about twice as long as expected,” he says.

Goldhammer, who is affiliated with the Center for European Studies at Harvard, works from his home, in Cambridge, Mass., in a “little room, slightly larger than a closet.” It is where he reads and writes, and it is also where he tinkers.

“I do some programming in my spare time, and study physics, and keep up with my past life,” he says, pointing out a Raspberry Pi, a computer that runs the Linux operating system.

Goldhammer has a doctorate in mathematics, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did his first translation in 1977. After serving in Vietnam, Goldhammer was living in Paris, and he needed money.

“Arthur’s career is extraordinary,” says David Bellos, the author of “Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything,” and the director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University.  “He’s translated a large number of books and he knows an enormous amount.”

But Bellos says there’s something else that makes Goldhammer exceptional: “I would say there are maybe 20, 30 people in the English-speaking world who live by book translation alone.”

And Goldhammer is one of them.

The French-American Foundation awards a translation prize every year. Goldhammer has won it four times.

“Most translators are underpaid, and sometimes underappreciated,” says Charles Kolb, who runs the foundation. They don’t just go through a text word by word, he notes. They are, as he puts it, “capturing the flavor and the feeling and the context.”

Kolb laments there aren’t more books being translated into the English language – especially from the French. One reason for that, Goldhammer suggests, is there seems to be less money available for translations. There used to be more subsidies from foundations and foreign governments.

“Lately, it’s the author who finds his or her own subsidy,” he says.

Goldhammer won’t say how much he was paid to translate “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”. The money a translator makes is decent, he says, but it is much less than a tenured professor’s salary.

Goldhammer says most translators are paid a fee for every 1,000 words.

“In this case, I probably would have made out if I had taken royalties, but I didn’t,” he confides. Goldhammer and the book’s publisher, Harvard University Press, had expected the translation to sell maybe 20,000 copies. So far it has sold 15 times that. But, Goldhammer says, he has no regrets.

“It’s rare for me to translate a book where I can expect all of my friends at least to have heard about the book, if not to have read it.”

When States Can't Control Violent Youth, Is Prison The Answer?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 13:01

A Connecticut judge has approved a rare request from the state's child welfare agency: to move a transgender teen to adult prison, even though she has not been charged with a crime.

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Pilot, 55, dies in microlight crash

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:55
A pilot dies after his aircraft crashed at Caernarfon Airport, say emergency services.

EU leadership rivals hold big debate

BBC - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:52
Rivals for the EU's top job argue about the debt crisis, immigration and other key issues live on TV, in a landmark event for the EU.

Those California Wildfires Viewed From Space

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:37

The image, captured by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite, shows smoke trails stretching out over the Pacific Ocean.

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Gay Marriages Cleared In Arkansas, But On Hold In Idaho

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:08

In Little Rock, a judge struck down a prohibition on county clerks' issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. In Boise, a judge temporarily blocked a ruling allowing such marriages.

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To Help Nigeria Find Missing Girls, U.S. Sends In Airborne Support

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:05

The U.S. has deployed surveillance aircraft to Nigeria in the search for the more than 250 schoolgirls still missing. Imagery gathered by the aircraft and satellites will be shared with the Nigerian government.

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After Nearly 50 Years In Office, Conyers Might Not Make The Ballot

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:05

A local elections official has ruled that Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, who's served in the House for nearly 50 years, has failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the Democratic primary ballot. He's appealing the decision; if he loses, it could be an ignominious end to a distinguished career.

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Hopes Dim For Turkish Miners, But Rescuers Carry On

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:05

Hope is fading that any more mine workers will be rescued from a mine in western Turkey, where over 280 miners died after an explosion. NPR's Leila Fadel has been at the mine and offers more details.

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On The Bedrock Of Fallen Towers, September 11 Museum Opens Doors

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:05

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum was officially dedicated Thursday in New York. President Obama and other elected officials joined survivors and victims' families in a poignant ceremony.

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Following the money in America's most expensive war

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:02

Afghanistan has been called the “graveyard of empires.”

It’s a phrase you hear a lot when people talk about our more than a decade of involvement in Afghanistan. And Anand Gopal thinks it’s a bad one.

“There is a sense that whatever happened in Afghanistan was inevitable,” says Gopal, author of the new book "No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes". But we had many opportunities to get this right.”

Gopal learned the Afghan language Pashto, and traveled the country by motorcycle to research his book. He says that the U.S. made a mistake in funding Afghan warlords to help fight the Taliban.

“A lot of these militia commanders and warlords are not that much better than the Taliban they replaced... That’s creating support for the insurgency and draining resources. Without us paying them, these guys are not going to continue  fighting.”

The Afghan economy relies almost entirely on the opium trade and foreign aid. But Gopal says all the U.S. money flowing into the country doesn’t guarantee the government’s survival.

“If you take billions upon billions of dollars and put it into a country that has very little capacity to absorb it, you create corruption on an unforeseen scale. If you talk to Afghans today they’ll say that the last 10 years have been more corrupt than anything they’ve seen in the previous 20 or 30 years of fighting.”

Coaching the Coach

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:02

Executives: They get the good offices, the good health plans, the good stock options AND they get to decide whether you keep your job.

But that doesn’t mean life’s easy. "There are actually CEO support groups that have popped up all over the country," says Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science at the Stanford Engineering School and co-author of "Scaling Up Excellence". Sutton says a lot of CEO’s end up suffering something akin to the Justin Bieber problem: No one around them will tell them if the company’s on the rocks or if all the employees despise them.

"It is exactly the Justin Bieber problem and actually in some ways it's worse," says Sutton. "Everybody around you has every incentive to tell you how wonderful you are and give you no bad news." Sutton says Executives Coaches often come in order to tell CEOs what people actually think of their management style.

Female executives often need help navigating a certain amount of non-acceptance.

"Women are just beginning to step into big roles, so the whole world is watching," says Nancy Koehn, a professor at the Harvard Business School. She says female CEOs often use executive coaches to help them deal with skepticism. "How do women get done what they know they have to get done, when they’re leading people that haven’t necessarily been responsive to a leader or guide who’s female?"

Whatever particular issues they face, CEOs are getting help in greater numbers. Last year, U.S. companies spent more than $1 billion on executive coaching.

The story behind red M&M's

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 12:00

Remember when red M&Ms weren't a thing?

It was all thanks to a little misunderstanding back in the day, and a little substance called Red Dye No. 2.

"It was a $10 billion dollar industry. It was used in everything from hot dogs to ice cream cones," says Zachary Crockett, writer at Pricenomics.com.

A Russian study found that this same dye caused tumors in lab rats. Cold War politics being what they were at the time, the FDA refused to acknowledge Russian research, and conducted their own study which, as Crockett puts it, ended up being "an absolute nightmare."

"The lead scientist left midway through, the rats were all mixed up in the lab, it was just wholly inconclusive," he said.

Not wanting to get tangled into the whole mess of Red Dye No. 2--which actually wasn't in red M&Ms in the first place--Mars, M&M's parent company, pulled the red M&Ms anyway to prevent customer confusion. Red was out, and orange was in.

Flickr

Nearly a decade later, just in time for Christmas 1985, red was back, thanks in large part to Paul Hethmon, a freshman at the University of Tennessee who started the "Society for the Restoration and the Preservation of the Red M&M."

"He kind of sparked a 'red-olution,' if you will," said Crockett. "All of these people who loved and adored the red M&M back in the '60s and '70s really came out of the woodwork and joined in this cause."

The animated spokescandy--who was once voiced by John Lovitz--has all those people to thank for thrusting him back into the spotlight.

Housing Is Perking Up, But Realtors Worry About Young Buyers

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 11:59

Homeownership rates are depressed for people under 35. Economists say nearly 3 million more young adults are living with their parents, compared with 2007.

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