News

Climate Change
7:00 am
Thu September 19, 2013

What The Dutch Can Teach Us About Sea Level Rise

Credit Nickolay Lamm / StorageFront.com

American scientists and engineers have been comparing notes with Dutch counterparts over the problem they both have: how to protect their low lands from rising sea levels.

In the U.S., it’s treated as a new problem. But the Dutch stopped panicking about sea level rise about 800 years ago and began to address it systematically.

Dikes and levies are a big part of the plan. But the Netherlands has also learned to pick its fights, and even let the water win sometimes.

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Americas
5:49 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Brazil's Traffic Is A Circus, So Send In The Clowns

The Brazilian city of Olinda has a novel approach to taming its ever-growing traffic problem: traffic clowns known as palhacos.
Andrea Hsu NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

On a busy avenue in Olinda, in northeastern Brazil, two men in wigs, big red noses and full clown makeup are squeaking horns and making a good-natured ruckus.

"Where's your helmet?" shouts one as a motorcyclist whizzes by. "Fasten your seat belt!" calls out the other.

Uncle Honk and Fom Fom are traffic clowns, or palhacos, hired by the city to make the roads a bit safer. They lean into traffic, making exaggerated gestures, like the sweep of the arm to mimic fastening a seat belt, and a mimed reminder to never drink and drive.

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Americas
5:48 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Brazil's New Middle Class: A Better Life, Not An Easy One

Roberto de Carvalho (left), who maintains a truck fleet in Recife, Brazil, is shown here with his daughter Sandra, 22, wife Enilda and daughter Susana, 16. The family makes just enough to belong the rapidly expanding ranks of the country's middle class, though they still can't afford a house or even a car.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:01 pm

Tens of millions of Brazilians have risen out of poverty over the past decade in one of the world's great economic success stories. The reasons are many: strong overall economic growth, fueled by exports. A rise in the minimum wage. A more educated workforce. And big government spending programs, including direct payments to extremely poor families.

But becoming middle class in Brazil means a better life, not an easy one. The new, lowest rung of the middle class is what in the U.S. would be called the working poor, with monthly incomes of between $500 and $2,000.

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Health Care
12:42 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Sebelius Visits Miami-Dade To Spread The Word On Health Care Reform

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Miami on Tuesday for a panel discussion on healthcare changes.
Credit C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

Starting October first, Floridians will be able to buy health insurance through a government-run website—or “health insurance exchange”—where consumers can compare plans and prices.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most uninsured adults who don’t purchase insurance or aren’t covered by employers will have to pay a fine come tax time.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a panel on the Affordable Care Act at Miami-Dade College on Tuesday but getting the word out hasn’t been easy in Florida.

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Immigration
10:54 am
Wed September 18, 2013

More Old People, Fewer Workers: Nations Look To Immigration

A man relaxes at a downtown park in Seoul. The pronounced demographic shift triggered by a plummeting birth rate and soaring life expectancy is seen as one of the greatest challenges facing Asia's fourth-largest economy.
Kim Jae-Hwan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:43 pm

A story in the Financial Times caught our eye this week. It was on foreign workers in South Korea.

The story looked at the town of Ansan, where about 7.6 percent of the population is foreign. They come from other Asian countries, as well as from Russia. Here's one of the reasons for the change in South Korea, a highly homogeneous society:

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Health Care
7:55 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Florida Makes Spreading Word On Health Care Law A Challenge

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has questioned efforts to use federally funded navigators to help people enroll for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
John Raoux AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 1:01 pm

At a community center named for Florida civil rights pioneer Carrie Meek, a few dozen members of Miami's National Church of God gathered over the weekend for a tea party — and to hear from a special guest, Monica Rodriguez of Enroll America.

The organization is working to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act, the federal law that will let people without health insurance shop for coverage starting Oct. 1.

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Americas
5:31 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

As Economy Cools, Brazilians Find Themselves Trapped In Debt

A woman looks at clothes inside a shop in Rio de Janeiro. Consumption has been a huge driver of the Brazilian economy, but the boom years are over, and economists say the outlook isn't good.
Sergio Moraes Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:44 pm

It all started out so promisingly. She was young, still in her teens, and she'd landed her first job. As is the custom in Brazil, to get your salary you have to open an account with the bank the company deals with — and with that new account came the woman's first credit card.

"The banks say, 'I want to help you,' " she says. "And if you have a credit card, it's a status symbol, you are well-regarded."

She switched jobs. That company dealt with another bank — which issued her another credit card. She got a store credit card, too.

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Health Insurance
11:20 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Laid Off And Looking For Health Insurance? Beware Of COBRA

After losing a job, figuring out health insurance may be the smartest first step.
Franck Camhi iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:14 pm

People who lose their jobs and the health insurance tied to them will have new coverage options when the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces open in October.

But consumer advocates are concerned many of these unemployed people may not realize this and lock themselves into pricier coverage than they need.

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South Beach
11:03 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Former Versace Mansion In Miami Beach Auctioned For $41.5M

Casa Casuarina, the former Versace mansion on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, still draws frequent tourists to its front entrance. The property was auctioned Tuesday in a bankruptcy proceeding.

The former Versace mansion fetched a top bid of $41.5 million from a group that included New York’s Nakash family, which controls Jordache Enterprises, at a court-ordered bankruptcy auction Tuesday.

After the auction, Joe Nakash, the winning bidder and owner of the Victory Hotel next door, said he plans to ask for the right to use the Versace name and operate the mansion as a hotel in conjunction with the Victor.

Lamar P. Fisher of Fisher Auction Co. conducted the auction Tuesday morning inside the ornate 10-bedroom, 11-bath mansion.

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Miami
8:30 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Iconic White Tiger At Zoo Miami Is Euthanized

Carlita taking a dip at her exhibit pound.
Credit Zoo Miami

After a nearly 20-year career as part of a landmark exhibit at Zoo Miami, the white Bengal tiger known as “Carlita” was euthanized on Monday, the zoo announced.

Carlita was born in July 1992 and was transferred to Zoo Miami, where she began her career as part of the Tiger Temple exhibit in February 1994. She was paired with two other typically-colored Bengal tigers, Lyric and Roshe, and her color — or lack of it — helped her stand out and added to her popularity among zoo visitors, said zoo spokesman Ron Magill.

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Tragedy
8:06 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Attack At The Navy Yard: Gunman And 12 Victims Killed

Workers emerge from a building after a deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday. There are multiple injuries and deaths, and one gunman is dead. Police say they are searching for two other "potential" shooters.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:31 pm

(We're constantly updating the top of this post and adding to it below as well.)

The nation's capital went on high alert Monday after a shooting attack at the city's U.S. Navy Yard left at least 12 victims and one gunman dead and injured 8 others.

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Health Care
8:02 am
Tue September 17, 2013

For-Profit Online Insurance Brokers Gear Up To Sell Obamacare

Workers at the eHealth call center outside Sacramento, Calif., get ready to sell health insurance through the marketplaces created under the federal health care law. Sales start Oct. 1.
eHealth Inc.

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:34 am

When the Affordable Care Act was working its way through Congress, Gary Lauer was nervous. Part of the bill sounded grim. It said people could buy required health coverage online, but only through websites run by state and federal governments.

"That was going to pretty much delete us from the landscape," he says.

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Finance
7:56 am
Tue September 17, 2013

JPMorgan To Get Whale Of A Fine For Trading Losses

JPMorgan Chase will reportedly pay a $700 million fine to settle allegations that it made risky trades out of its London office that led to more than $6 billion in losses.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:38 am

Authorities are set to slap banking giant JPMorgan Chase with a massive fine over the bank's huge trading losses in London last year, confirms NPR's Jim Zarroli.

Though details of the deal are still pending, several reports put the amount at more than $700 million. It comes on the heels of the bank's having recently paid $410 million to settle charges that it manipulated energy markets.

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Americas
2:29 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Brazilian Believers Of Hidden Religion Step Out Of Shadows

Men possessed by orixas dance before getting dressed in orixa costumes. They are participating in an Olubaje party, a Candomblé ritual for cleansing life of bad things and healing. The main god at the party is Omulu (the one with straws), known for healing diseases.
Marcello Vitorino Fullpress for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 5:45 pm

Amid chanting and drumming, a crowd gathers in Sao Paulo and waits for the gods to come to them from the spirit world.

They are celebrating a sacred festival day in honor of Omulu, a deity of life and death. The women wear white dresses with crinolines, colorful belts and headdresses. The men wear lace, pajama-style suits. They sing and dance in a circle for hours; the room gets warmer, the chanting more intense.

Suddenly, they are here: Orixas have possessed the chosen among the faithful. They are spirit gods, the deified ancestors who link humans to the other world.

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Diversity
12:44 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Why Do We Describe Asian Eyes As 'Almond-Shaped'?

The shape of Asian eyes has been compared to almonds by Westerners for centuries.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 12:06 pm

Last week, Julie Chen revealed on The Talk that she had double eyelid surgery to make her eyes look "less Chinese" in order to advance her TV career.

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