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Parallels
9:16 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Help-Wanted Ad Shows Depths Of Spain's Unemployment Problem

People line up outside a government unemployment office in Madrid on Oct. 5. Spain has an unemployment rate of 26 percent.
Paul White AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 11:05 am

Having trouble wrapping your head around southern Europe's staggering unemployment problem?

Look no further than a single Ikea furniture store on Spain's Mediterranean coast.

The Swedish retailer plans to open a new megastore next summer near Valencia. On Monday, Ikea's Spanish website started taking applications for 400 jobs at the new store.

The company wasn't prepared for what came next.

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The Two-Way
7:03 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Report: Threat Of Mandatory Minimums Used To Coerce Guilty Pleas

In August, Attorney General Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to no longer hit low-level drug offenders with charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences. But it's not yet clear how broadly that directive is being interpreted.
Stephen Lam Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:44 am

A new report says the Justice Department regularly coerces defendants in federal drug cases to plead guilty by threatening them with steep prison sentences or stacking charges to increase their time behind bars.

And for the first time, the study by Human Rights Watch finds that defendants who take their fate to a judge or jury face prison sentences on average 11 years longer than those who plead guilty.

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Movie Interviews
1:34 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

On Becoming Llewyn Davis, A Hero Who Excels At Failing

Oscar Isaac as the titular character in Joel and Ethan Coen's Inside Llewyn Davis.
Alison Rosa Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 11:10 am

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Around the Nation
1:26 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Pipeline On Wheels: Trains Are Winning Big Off U.S. Oil

A train leaves the Rangeland Energy company's crude oil loading terminal near Epping, N.D. So far this year, 60 percent of all oil produced in North Dakota left the state by rail. One economist says there aren't enough oil tankers to fill the demand.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 4:28 pm

The oil boom in the United States is creating another boom — for the railroad industry.

So far this year, in North Dakota alone, 140 million barrels of oil have left on trains. Shipments of crude oil by rail are up almost 50 percent over last year — and this upward trend is expected to continue.

A visit to the world-famous Tehachapi Loop, part of a winding mountain pass in Southern California, demonstrates the scale and reach of the oil boom in the middle of the country. As a train full of oil tanker cars rumbles past, it's hard not to think of it as a pipeline on wheels.

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Code Switch
12:32 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Telemundo's 'Highly Unusual' Resurrection of 'El Señor'

Rafael Amaya plays drug lord Aurelio Casillas on El Señor de los Cielos.
Billy Coleman Telemundo/NBC Universal

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:22 pm

Telemundo recently announced that its telenovela El Señor de los Cielos (Lord of the Skies) will be back for a second season; production began this week in Mexico City. This resurrection sets it apart from almost every other telenovela because, unlike American soap operas, telenovelas have a clear beginning and a definitive ending, airing for a set number of episodes.

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The Salt
12:24 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 4:09 am

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

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Around the Nation
12:19 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Nothing Says Christmas Like 700 Screaming Faces

An ornament honoring Edward Munch's The Scream is part of an annual Christmas tree erected at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and decorated by the Embassy of Norway.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 2:20 pm

As it has done for the past 16 years, the Embassy of Norway decorated a Christmas tree at Union Station in Washington, D.C. — a gift to the American people to say thanks for helping Norway during World War II.

This year is no different. The tree was lit in a ceremony Tuesday evening, but what stands out is the nature of the ornaments that adorn the artificial tree: In addition to small American and Norwegian flags, the tree is decked out with 700 shining decorations with the iconic image from Norwegian Edvard Munch's painting The Scream.

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Shots - Health News
12:17 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Nurses tend newborns at Sloane Hospital for Women in New York City.
Pat Carroll Getty

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:29 am

Drugs that help women become pregnant have replaced in vitro fertilization as the main culprit behind high-risk multiple births, according to a study looking at births of triplets and higher-order multiples.

"IVF, which is usually the one we tend to point fingers at, was not the leading culprit," says Eli Adashi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University who was senior author of the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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It's All Politics
12:03 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Immigration Advocates Face Hurdles In GOP House Districts

Immigration advocates gather Tuesday outside the fence for the lighting of the 2013 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree in Washington.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:39 pm

Want to understand why House Republicans aren't onboard with an immigration overhaul? Take a close look at the districts they represent.

Hispanics today make up 17 percent of the nation's population and are the fastest-growing ethnic group. But an NPR analysis of U.S. census data shows they live disproportionately in districts represented by Democrats. The average Democratic district is 23 percent Latino; the average Republican district, less than 12 percent.

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The Two-Way
11:50 am
Wed December 4, 2013

NSA Collecting 5B Cellphone Locations A Day, News Report Says

The National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:59 pm

There's a new report Wednesday on the scale of surveillance by the National Security Agency: The Washington Post reports that the agency is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.

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NPR Story
11:44 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Ski Resorts Work To Turn China's Middle Class Into Snow Bunnies

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:26 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Colorado's ski resorts are looking far and wide for potential customers, including emerging markets like China. About 12 percent of visitors to the state's ski areas come from overseas. And with China's middle class growing, Colorado resorts are looking to profit. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

MARCI KRIVONEN, BYLINE: Inside the offices of the Aspen Skiing Company, Candace Sherman is learning Mandarin Chinese...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

KRIVONEN: ...using a Rosetta Stone audio course.

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Parallels
11:31 am
Wed December 4, 2013

U.S. Military Lingo: The (Almost) Definitive Guide

U.S. soldiers look at a crane that tipped over while trying to move a CHU, or Containerized Housing Unit, at a small COP, or Combat Outpost, in southern Afghanistan. A dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a whole new military vocabulary.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 11:45 am

It's painful for U.S. soldiers to hear discussions and watch movies about modern wars when the dialogue is full of obsolete slang, like "chopper" and "GI."

Slang changes with the times, and the military is no different. Soldiers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an expansive new military vocabulary, taking elements from popular culture as well as the doublespeak of the military industrial complex.

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Shots - Health News
11:25 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Second Meningitis Outbreak Erupts In Southern California

Administrators at University of California, Santa Barbara are encouraging fraternities and sororities to hold off on parties.
Damian Gadal Flickr

The University of California, Santa Barbara is experiencing a meningitis outbreak a lot like the one that hit Princeton earlier this year. The California university confirmed a fourth case of meningococcal disease on Monday.

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The Two-Way
11:25 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Sunken Japanese Supersub From World War II Located Off Hawaii

An aircraft-carrying Japanese supersubmarine built during World War II has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off Oahu, nearly 60 years after it was hastily scuttled by the U.S. Navy in an effort to keep its technology out of Soviet hands.

Reuters reports:

"The accidental discovery of the 1-400 ... on the rock- and debris-littered ocean floor, some 2,300 feet beneath the surface, has solved the mystery surrounding a ship long thought to be further afield.

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Shots - Health News
10:33 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Administration Says You Can Now Escape HealthCare.Gov 'Prison'

The HealthCare.gov jailbreak is on.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 4:32 am

The Obama administration says it has patched hundreds of software bugs infecting the government's health insurance website. That includes the notorious "prison glitch."

Martha Freeman of Pennsylvania encountered the bug when she tried to sign up for coverage for herself and her adult children. The website wanted documentation of the children's incarceration status.

Never mind they'd never been in prison. The website was soon locked up.

Freeman figured she was stuck in solitary, until she called the toll-free help line and discovered she wasn't alone.

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The Two-Way
10:29 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Sandy Hook Elementary 911 Calls Reveal Panic From Inside School

Connecticut State Police walk near the scene of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown.
Douglas Healey Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 12:57 pm

Emergency calls from last year's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting reveal 911 dispatchers who dealt with the situation calmly, urging callers to take cover and inquiring about the welfare of the children.

One caller told dispatchers that a gunman was shooting inside the building and that she could see him. The New Haven Register has put audio of the calls online here. (Warning: some of it might be graphic).

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The Two-Way
10:02 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Accused LAX Gunman Ordered Held Pending Trial

Paul Ciancia, 23, the accused shooter at Los Angeles International Airport, has been ordered held without bond pending trial. The Nov. 1 shooting killed a TSA agent and wounded three other people.
FBI AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 10:53 am

The man accused of opening fire last month at Los Angeles International Airport, killing a TSA agent, was ordered Wednesday to be held without bond pending his trial.

Judge David Bristow determined that Paul Anthony Ciancia, 23, was a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Ciancia's appearance at a San Bernardino County jail facility where's he's being kept in federal custody is his first in public since the Nov. 1 shooting at LAX's Terminal 3. He was shackled at his hands and feet, and wasn't asked to enter a plea. If convicted, Ciancia faces the death penalty.

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The Two-Way
9:05 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Biden Visits Chinese Leader As Flight Zone Dispute Simmers

Vice President Joe Biden speaks after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Wednesday. Biden met with China's president to discuss issues that include China's recent claim of an air defense zone.
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden met with China's president in Beijing Wednesday, in a trip to Asia that has often touched on growing tensions over China's new air defense identification zone.

Biden's two-day visit to China was planned before the country's defense officials surprised neighboring Japan by declaring a defense zone in an area contested by the two countries. The topic of the air zone likely helped extend a closed-door session that had been scheduled for 45 minutes to its actual length of two hours.

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Planet Money
8:46 am
Wed December 4, 2013

'Our Industry Follows Poverty': Success Threatens A T-Shirt Business

Noreli Morales (right) works on the Planet Money women's T-shirt at a factory in Medellin, Colombia.
Joshua Davis for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 1:26 pm

The Planet Money men's T-shirt was made in Bangladesh, by workers who make about $3 a day, with overtime. The Planet Money women's T-shirt was made in Colombia, by workers who make roughly $13 a day, without overtime.

The wages in both places are remarkably low by U.S. standards. But the gap between them is huge. Workers in Colombia make more than four times what their counterparts make in Bangladesh. In our reporting, we saw that the workers in Colombia have a much higher standard of living than the workers in Bangladesh.

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The Salt
8:18 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Mushroom Foraging: When The Fun(gi) Hunt Gets Out Of Hand

Hank Shaw, author of Hunt, Gather, Cook, snaps the end off a mushroom in a Washington, D.C.-area park. When broken, the inside turns blue, identifying it as an inedible species of bolete.
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 6:26 am

The first heavy rains of the season fell two weeks ago at Salt Point State Park, on the northern California coast, and now ranger Todd Farcau is waiting anxiously for the forest floor to erupt with mushrooms.

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The Two-Way
8:01 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Income Inequality Is The 'Challenge Of Our Time,' Obama Says

President Obama talks Wednesday about the economy and growing economic inequality in Washington.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 11:46 am

President Obama tried Wednesday to turn the conversation back to the economy, calling the growing income gap the "defining challenge of our time."

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It's All Politics
7:53 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Poll: Support For Obama Among Young Americans Eroding

President Obama speaks at a town hall meeting at Binghamton University in Vestal, N.Y., in August.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 9:48 am

After voting for him in large numbers in 2008 and 2012, young Americans are souring on President Obama.

According to a new Harvard University Institute of Politics poll, just 41 percent of millennials — adults ages 18-29 — approve of Obama's job performance, his lowest-ever standing among the group and an 11-point drop from April.

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The Two-Way
7:09 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Norman Rockwell's 'Saying Grace' Sells For $46 Million At Auction

Norman Rockwell's 1951 painting Saying Grace sold for $46 million Wednesday — a record for the artist.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 9:06 am

Three Norman Rockwell paintings sold for a combined total of nearly $58 million at a Sotheby's auction Wednesday. The three paintings, which had long been displayed in a Massachusetts museum named for the artist, were among 10 Rockwell works sold at auction today.

By far, the star of the bunch was the 1951 masterpiece Saying Grace, which sold for $46 million — a record for Rockwell's art. The price includes a buyer's premium. The AP says the artist's previous record of $15 million had been set by Breaking Home Ties at a 2006 Sotheby's auction.

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The Two-Way
5:54 am
Wed December 4, 2013

European Union Fines Banks Billions For Rigging Interest Rates

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia announces fines against eight large banks, in a scandal over rigging interest rates.
Georges Gobet AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:45 am

European regulators have fined eight large banks a total of more than $2 billion over an illegal cartel scheme to fix interest rates. The fine, the largest ever issued in such a case by the European Union, comes after a two-year investigation into banks' collusion. And the inquiry isn't yet complete.

Two American banks — JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — are included in the list of financial institutions fined as part of a settlement deal. Several banks that cooperated with investigators saw their fines reduced or eliminated.

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All Tech Considered
5:54 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Even Disconnected Computers May Face Cyberthreats

German computer scientists were able to transmit data using computers' speakers and microphones.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Sun December 8, 2013 6:30 am

If your computer is infected with a virus or other forms of malware, disconnecting the machine from the Internet is one of the first steps security experts say you should take. But someday, even physically separating your laptop from a network may not be enough to protect it from cyber evildoers.

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Shots - Health News
5:43 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Rule Spells Out How Insurers Must Cover Mental Health Care

Insurance plans that offer mental health benefits have to keep them in line with the coverage for medical care.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 11:41 am

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health plans that offer benefits for mental health and substance use to cover them to the same extent that they cover medical and surgical care.

Among other things, the law prohibits treatment limits and copayments or deductibles that are more restrictive than a plan's medical coverage.

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The Two-Way
5:13 am
Wed December 4, 2013

U.S. Job Growth Surged In November, Report Signals

Air Force Staff Sgt. Bri Smith (right) of Atlanta talks with a Mary Kay consultant during a November job fair for veterans.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:54 am

A report from payroll company ADP finds that "the U.S. private sector added 215,000 jobs during November making it the strongest month for job growth in 2013," says the company's president and chief executive, Carlos Rodriguez.

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The Two-Way
3:15 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Stolen Radioactive Material Found In Mexico

A photo released by Mexico's nuclear safety agency shows medical equipment containing radioactive source material. The photo was taken as the equipment was being prepared for loading into a truck, which was later stolen.
CNSNS

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:10 am

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET: Cobalt-60 Found

Mexican officials say they've recovered the "extremely dangerous" radioactive cobalt-60 that was stolen last week, hours after finding its empty containter.

The Associated Press reports:

"A missing shipment of radioactive cobalt-60 was found Wednesday near where the stolen truck transporting the material was abandoned in central Mexico, the country's nuclear safety director said.

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The Two-Way
2:42 am
Wed December 4, 2013

NTSB Bars Train Union From Crash Inquiry, Citing Confidentiality

A train passes by the scene of repair efforts Tuesday at the site of a train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 8:40 am

The investigation into the Bronx, N.Y., train crash that killed four people Sunday will continue without the direct involvement of the rail employees union the Association of Commuter Rail Employees. The move was in response to remarks the union's leader made at a Tuesday news conference regarding the train engineer's awareness level moments before a catastrophic derailment.

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Business
2:31 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Confirmation: Selfies Are Forces Of Evil

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. For those who believes selfies are a force of evil, here's confirmation. Darth Vader just posted on Instagram a photo of his face - that is, his iconic black helmet - with the tag GPOM for Gratuitous Portrait Of Myself. The selfie launched the Star Wars Instagram account - a marketing effort by Disney - two full years before the next sequel. It's a pretty good shot, though we have to say a little on the dark side. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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