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The Salt
2:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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All Tech Considered
1:58 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Banks Try To Save Big With 'ATMs Of The Future'

An ATM at a Chase lobby in New York is part of what company executives are touting as a "branch of the future" — a place where machines distribute exact change and count cash so tellers don't have to.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

There's a drive-thru ATM in Charlotte, N.C., that looks pretty standard, but it has an extra function: a button that says "speak with teller."

The face of a woman wearing a headset sitting in front of a plain blue background flashes onto the ATM screen. "Good afternoon," she says. "Welcome to Bank of America. My name is Carolina. How are you today?"

She's one of a cadre of Bank of America employees in Florida and Delaware call centers, where they remotely control ATMs across the country. I ask for $26.

"Just a $1, a $5 and $20," I say.

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Parallels
5:56 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Japan's State Secrets Law: Hailed By U.S., Denounced By Japanese

A November demonstration against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Designated Secrets Bill drew thousands of protesters. The Japanese Parliament has since passed the law, under which people convicted of leaking classified information will face five to 10 years in prison.
Franck Robichon European Pressphoto Agency/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:31 pm

Earlier in December, the normally sedate Japanese Parliament disintegrated into chaos. Opposition party members screamed, pounded the speaker's desk and flapped papers in his face — but all in vain.

In a shocking display of brute force, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party, the Liberal Democratic Party, railroaded into law a sweeping, vague and hastily drafted secrets protection bill.

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The Salt
5:06 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Here's How Young Farmers Looking For Land Are Getting Creative

Chris and Sara Guerre are among a growing number of farmers who have made the choice to rent land to farm instead of buy because of increasing property values.
Zac Visco for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:02 pm

Across the country, there's a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers — many of whom didn't grow up on farms — would like to stay close to cities. After all, that's where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that's where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Utah Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Stop Gay Marriages

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 7:07 pm

Utah's attorney general has filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay that would allow the state to enforce its limit of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Similar requests have already been rejected by district and circuit courts. Earlier this month, a federal district court invalidated Utah's ban on gay marriage that was endorsed by voters in 2004, saying it is not constitutional.

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Shots - Health News
4:46 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Vitamin E Might Help Slow Alzheimer's Early On

Vitamin E has been associated with increased risk of death in some studies, but it may also delay cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.
iStockphoto

Alzheimer's is a disease without a cure, and the available treatments only slow its progression for a bit. Now there's evidence vitamin E may help hold it at bay, at least for people in the early stages of the disease.

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The Two-Way
4:30 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Out Like A Bull: 2013 Was A Banner Year For Wall Street

Philips Lighting North America CEO and President Bruno Biasiotta rings the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, on Tuesday.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 12:17 pm

U.S. stocks in 2013 posted their best showing since 1997, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up 26.5 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index up 29.6 percent and the Nasdaq up 38 percent.

NPR's Jim Zarroli says Wall Street's stellar performance was set against the backdrop of a U.S. economy that continued to limp along.

Brad McMillan, the chief financial officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, tells NPR "The stock market surprised everybody."

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Sports
3:47 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Icing On The Puck: Hockey Fans And The NHL Winter Classic

NHL Winter Classic hockey game seat pads are displayed at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor ahead of the New Year's Day outdoor game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:56 pm

The Detroit Red Wings are kind of playing a home game on New Year's Day — even if it'll be played about 40 miles west of their home ice in downtown Detroit.

Mike Babcock, the Red Wings head coach, told the NHL Network that might not be such a good thing, because home teams haven't fared so well in prior Winter Classics.

"The reason the home team doesn't have much success is there's probably a New Year's Eve party going on in everybody's house," he said. "So you gotta decide whether that's more important, or the game's more important."

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Education
3:46 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity.
Laura A. Oda MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:23 pm

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

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The Two-Way
3:16 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Judge Upholds Key Provisions Of N.Y. Gun-Control Law

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg displays a confiscated AR-15 assault rifle in East Harlem as District Attorney Cy Vance (right) looks on during a news conference in October 2012 in New York City.
Mario Tama Getty Images

A federal judge has largely upheld New York's tough gun control law passed in the weeks after the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Judge William Skretny in Buffalo rejected arguments from opponents that its ban on large-capacity magazines and the sale of semi-automatic rifles infringed on Second Amendment rights.

He ruled that the provisions were constitutional because the state has an "important governmental interest" in public safety in a suit brought by the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association.

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