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The Salt
2:58 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Amid Fields Of Plenty, A Farmworker's Wife Struggles To Feed Her Family

Food banks have become a primary source of nutrition for rural farmworker communities in the Central Valley.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 10:25 am

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The Two-Way
7:46 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

New Research Affirms That Milky Way Has Four Spiral Arms

An image showing the distribution of massive stars in the new study. Our location within the Galaxy is circled in black.
J. Urquhart et al. Background image by Robert Hurt of the Spitzer Science Center.

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:05 am

Our Milky Way galaxy has four arms instead of two, according to just published results of a 12-year study by scientists in the U.K.

The findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, affirm what astronomers surmised in the 1950s but began to doubt in 2008 after seeing images from the Spitzer Space Telescope that could only confirm two spiral arms.

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Number Of The Year
6:06 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

A Majority In U.S. Favor Legal Pot, But Will That Stick?

Partiers celebrate marijuana legalization in Washington state at a pot party in Seattle earlier this month.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 1:49 am

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. They're numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we live in.

This year, for the first time, national polls show a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Gallup has been asking the question for four decades, and now it says 58 percent favor legalization.

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Shots - Health News
5:40 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why Glaxo Won't Pay Doctors To Sell Its Drugs Anymore

British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline is pledging to revamp its relationships with doctors.
Sang Tan AP

Doctors talking up drugs to other doctors has been quite lucrative for pharmaceutical companies — and the physicians who moonlight as their salesmen.

Drugmakers learned long ago that deputized doctors were effective pitchmen. A doctor paid by a company to give a dinner speech or to chat over lunch with colleagues can go a long way toward changing their prescribing habits.

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All Tech Considered
5:38 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How This Bay Area Tech Boom's Different From The Last One

San Francisco's median home price hit $1 million this year.
Patrick Shyu Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 9:22 pm

This week, we're exploring the San Francisco Bay Area and the way income inequality is affecting the region. Check out the other pieces of the week, aggregated on this page.

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The Two-Way
5:37 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

NASA Orders Spacewalks To Fix Faulty Pump On Orbiting Station

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio in the International Space Station's Columbus lab last month.
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 8:00 pm

NASA has decided to go ahead with a series of spacewalks to fix a broken cooling system aboard the International Space Station.

The decision was made Tuesday by station managers. They said the extra-vehicular activity should take place as soon as possible to replace a coolant pump that contains a bad valve.

The Associated Press says:

"The spacewalks are taking priority over the launch of a supply ship from Virginia. The delivery had been scheduled for this week, but is now delayed until January."

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The Two-Way
5:23 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Angela Merkel Is Sworn In For Third Term As Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a ceremony in which German President Joachim Gauck appointed the new German government cabinet on Tuesday in Berlin, Germany.
Adam Berry Getty Images

After months of negotiations to create a grand coalition, Angela Merkel was sworn in by Parliament on Tuesday to serve a third term as chancellor.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

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20 Years Of NAFTA
4:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Has NAFTA Meant For Workers? That Debate's Still Raging

An auto worker tightens bolts on a Focus at a Ford plant in Michigan in October. Labor unions predicted in 1993 that NAFTA would send many U.S. manufacturing jobs to Mexico, and they continue to argue that the pact prompted a race to the bottom for workers.
Mira Oberman AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

Two decades ago, the strongest critics of the North American Free Trade Agreement were members of labor unions. They warned that the trade deal would mean the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico and lower wages for U.S. workers.

Today, 20 years since NAFTA's passage, unions feel as strongly as ever that the deal was a bad idea.

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All Tech Considered
4:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

In A Divided San Francisco, Private Tech Buses Drive Tension

Protesters in San Francisco block a Google bus, which shuttles employees from the city to its location in Silicon Valley.
cjmartin Flickr

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

Part of a series on income inequality in the San Francisco Bay Area

If you want to understand the tension between tech workers in San Francisco, who often make six figures, and many of the city's other residents, try standing on the southwest corner of 24th Street and Valencia around 7:30 on a weekday morning.

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Shots - Health News
4:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How The U.S. Helped Fight The Global AIDS Epidemic

A mother waits with her child at an HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in February 2008. The clinic was built with a grant from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief initiative.
Shashank Bengali MCT /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:50 am

A decade ago, President George W. Bush announced an unprecedented global health initiative: $15 billion over five years to fight HIV in developing countries.

"There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection," Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address. "Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims — only 50,000 — are receiving the medicine they need."

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Sports
4:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Some Competitors Say Free-Diving Needs A Safety Sea Change

Nicholas Mevoli smiles while diving in Curacao in October. He died a month later following an attempted dive in a free-diving competition in the Bahamas.
Daan Verhoeven Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

Dahab, Egypt, just north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, is perfect for free-diving. A diver can have tea in a simple beach cafe and then take just a handful of steps into the Gulf of Aqaba, where the seafloor plunges more than 100 yards into a wine-glass-shaped blue hole.

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Business
4:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

GlaxoSmithKline To Stop Paying Doctors To Promote Its Drugs

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:31 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today, one of the biggest drug companies in the world announced changes to its marketing practices. GlaxoSmithKline says the idea is to be more transparent about how it sells its drugs. Among the changes, the company will stop paying doctors to tout its products to other doctors.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the public interest community says this is a step in the right direction for an industry that's faced many legal problems.

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The Two-Way
4:36 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Russia Throws Ukraine Financial Lifeline Amid Popular Unrest

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) listens to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday.
Yuri Kochetkov EPA /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 6:05 am

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports that Russia has agreed to a massive bailout package for Ukraine, a deal that could keep the country from bankruptcy next year – but the deal has outraged the political opposition which has protested closer ties with Moscow.

As we reported on Monday, the deal is aimed at keeping the cash-strapped former Soviet republic in the Russian sphere of influence.

Flintoff reports:

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The Two-Way
4:04 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Pirates Seize Captain, Engineer From Vessel Off Nigeria

Pirates have seized an oil tanker off the Nigerian coast, kidnapping its Ukrainian captain and a Greek engineer, the ship's manager and the Greek coast guard confirmed Tuesday.

The Marshall Islands-flagged MT Althea, with 18 crew aboard, was attacked late Monday about 35 miles offshore of the Niger River delta, The Associated Press reports quoting officials.

"They kidnapped the two men but did not touch the cargo (oil) or injure anyone," an official who asked not to be named told AP.

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It's All Politics
3:47 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Bridge Controversy Could Take Toll On Chris Christie's Future

The George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, N.J., on Sept. 2, just days before lanes were closed under mysterious circumstances.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 5:17 pm

Were access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, the nation's busiest span, closed as political retribution against a mayor who didn't publicly endorse New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's re-election?

The governor denies that politics played a role in the traffic-snarling decision, but the controversy has put an ever-growing stain on Christie's glossy November re-election victory. And the episode could have an impact on Christie's White House ambitions.

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The Two-Way
3:05 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Pope Francis Shakes Up Important Congregation For Bishops

Bishop Raymond Leo Burke.
Anonymous ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pope Francis continues to shake up the Vatican establishment. This time, in what observers are calling a major move, he reshuffled the membership of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important organizations in the Vatican.

In the biggest shakeup announced on Monday, Francis removed Cardinal Raymond L. Burke from the group and replaced him with another American, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C..

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Best Music Of 2013
2:53 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2013

Jason Isbell's Southeastern was Fresh Air critic Ken Tucker's favorite album of 2013.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:21 am

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The Two-Way
2:44 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Japanese Leaders Back Major Defense Buildup

In this Dec. 5, 2010 file photo released by U.S. Navy, USNS Tippecanoe, center, refuels Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Escort Flotilla ships Ikazuchi, right, and Kongo during a joint military exercise in the Pacific Ocean.
Charles Oki AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 4:27 pm

Japan's cabinet has approved a large defense buildup plan that includes the purchase of new drones, stealth aircraft and amphibious vehicles in what is widely viewed as a response to China's growing military might and a tense standoff over disputed islands claimed by both countries.

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It's All Politics
2:37 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Obama's Year Of Disappointing The Liberal Base

President Obama talks about drones and national security earlier this year at the National Defense University in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 9:56 am

It's been a long, disappointing year for many of President Obama's most ardent supporters.

From drones and Syria to immigration and the Keystone XL pipeline, the list of issues on which the president has induced frustration and disillusionment is not a short one.

And fallout from that restive base is reflected in Obama's dismal year-end poll numbers.

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Movie Interviews
2:36 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

The Coen Bros. On Writing, 'Lebowski' And Literally Herding Cats

Joel (left) and Ethan Coen wrote and directed Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man and True Grit. Their latest film is Inside Llewyn Davis.
Stuart C. Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:21 am

If you ask the Coen brothers about how they write their films, you might not get a straight answer. "It's mostly napping," Ethan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

"We go to the office, we're there, we're in a room together," Joel adds. "We take naps, but, you know, the important thing is that we're at the office, should we be inspired to actually write something."

The brothers don't split up writing responsibilities — they "talk through" the dialogue and "work it out together," Joel explains.

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Shots - Health News
2:08 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Concussion Research Slowed By Shortage Of Donated Brains

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher's body has been exhumed more than a year after he killed his girlfriend and himself so that his brain can be examined for signs of a degenerative condition linked to repeated concussions.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 4:08 pm

Former NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher's body was exhumed last week so doctors can perform tests on the remains of his brain. The family hopes to find out if a degenerative brain disease played a role in Kansas City Chiefs veteran's death last year, when he shot his girlfriend then killed himself.

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All Tech Considered
2:03 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Almost All Tech Execs At White House Supported Obama Campaign

Chad Dickerson, chief executive of Etsy, was among the group of tech leaders visiting the White House. He gave $500 to the Obama campaign.
Etsy

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 5:51 pm

President Obama just wrapped up a meeting with high-tech luminaries at the White House, focusing on an agenda of how to clean up HealthCare.gov, and how to stop the snooping by the National Security Agency from continuing to cast a pall over high-tech profits.

The group has a lot to discuss. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the NSA's collection of millions of telephone records may be unconstitutional.

Here's who was invited.

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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Report: 6.4 Million U.S. Homes Still Have Negative Equity

A realty sign in front of a home in The Lakes neighborhood in Las Vegas. Nevada, which was hit hard by the housing bust five years ago, remains the state with the highest number of homes with negative equity.
Isaac Brekken AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 3:00 pm

Although most of the housing indicators have been looking up recently, there are still about 6.4 million homes with "underwater" mortgages, in which the homeowner owes the bank more than the house is worth.

According to the CoreLogic Equity Report, "nearly 6.4 million homes, or 13 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage, were still in negative equity at the end of the third quarter."

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The Two-Way
1:21 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

'Rapture' Prophet Harold Camping Dies

Harold Camping speaks during a taping of his show Open Forum in Oakland, Calif., on May 23, 2011.

Marcio Jose Sanchez AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 2:13 pm

Harold Camping, the radio preacher who generated headlines around the world in 2011 with his ultimately wrong predictions that the world was about to end, has died.

According to The Associated Press, Family Radio Network marketing manager Nina Romero says Camping died Sunday at his home in Alameda, Calif. He was 92.

A quick run through some of our headlines (with links) from 2011 may help refresh your memory about Camping's brush with fame:

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The Two-Way
12:49 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Microsoft Executive Will Now Run HealthCare.gov

Kurt DelBene, former president of the Microsoft Office Division, talks about Microsoft Office 365 at a news conference in San Francisco, in 2010.
Paul Sakuma AP

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will take over the operation of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, who was appointed by President Obama to rescue the site after it launched with crippling problems. Zients, who Obama had turned to in the past to fix sticky issues, had made it clear that he was not going to stay on the job past December.

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