Business

The Salt
3:51 pm
Tue August 4, 2015

Judge Strikes Down Idaho 'Ag-Gag' Law, Raising Questions For Other States

Laws in Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and North Carolina have also made it illegal for activists to smuggle cameras into industrial animal operations.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 6:25 pm

Idaho's so-called "ag-gag" law, which outlawed undercover investigations of farming operations, is no more. A judge in the federal District Court for Idaho decided Monday that it was unconstitutional, citing First Amendment protections for free speech.

But what about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books?

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Business
3:39 pm
Tue August 4, 2015

The Soy Car Seat: Are Companies Doing Enough For The Environment?

A worker at Ford's assembly plant in Wayne, Mich., installs back seats made from soy-based foam in a Ford C-Max.
Jason Margolis NPR

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 6:02 pm

It's earnings season on Wall Street, and investors are again looking to quarterly reports to gauge the health of companies. Some environmentalists are looking to so-called "sustainability reports" — how companies are improving their ecological footprints. But not all environmentalists are putting so much stock in these reports.

Andrew Hoffman, at the University of Michigan, breaks environmentalists into two colors, or rather shades of a color. First, the perspective of the "dark greens":

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Energy
2:29 pm
Tue August 4, 2015

When Relying On The Sun, Energy Storage Remains Out Of Reach

Jim and Lyn Schneider installed solar panels and batteries because bringing grid power to their house in central Wyoming was going to cost around $80,000.
Leigh Paterson Wyoming Public Radio

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 4:41 pm

The ability to store energy could revolutionize the way we make and use electricity. But for many utility companies and regular folks, energy storage is still way out of reach. It's expensive — sometimes more expensive than building out old-fashioned infrastructure like power lines and power plants.

For people like Jim and Lyn Schneider, their decision to invest in battery storage came four years ago when they moved to central Wyoming.

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Energy
2:27 pm
Tue August 4, 2015

For Some States, New Emissions Rules Will Force A Power Shift

President Obama's environmental plan won't be so hard for states that have moved to cut emissions. But for others it will be more difficult.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 4:25 pm

Almost as soon as it was unveiled, opponents were lining up to oppose President Obama's new plan to limit carbon emissions. The new rules would require states to lower their carbon emissions by nearly a third over the next decade and a half.

The rules will deal a big blow to some energy sectors — especially coal. But there are also industries that will benefit from the plan.

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The Two-Way
9:57 am
Tue August 4, 2015

Your Pill Is Printing: FDA Approves First 3-D-Printed Drug

A product image provided by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals shows Spritam 750 mg (foreground) and 1,000 mg tablets. The 3-D-printed pills have been approved by the FDA.
AP

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 11:49 am

In a first, the Food and Drug Administration has given approval to a drug that is produced on a 3-D printer. The pill, produced by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, treats seizures. It's expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2016.

NPR's Rob Stein reports for our Newscast unit:

"The drug is called Spritam and is designed to treat seizures in people suffering from epilepsy. It's a new version of a seizure medication that's been on the market for years.

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Technology
4:42 am
Tue August 4, 2015

How Cellphone Use Can Help Determine A Person's Creditworthiness

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 6:19 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Politics
4:42 am
Tue August 4, 2015

New Power Plant Rules Likely To Start Slow-Burning Debate, Legal Action

A coal scraper machine works on a pile of coal at American Electric Power's Mountaineer coal power plant in 2009 in New Haven, W.Va. The state, in which coal mining is a major industry, is one party planning to sue the Environmental Protection Agency regarding new power plant regulations announced Monday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 9:56 am

An epic legal battle is about to begin over President Obama's plan to address climate change, in which the Environmental Protection Agency is putting in place new limits on greenhouse gases from power plants. Critics argue the plan is on shaky legal ground, but the administration says it's prepared to defend the regulations in court.

In announcing the "Clean Power Plan" on Monday, Obama predicted some of the arguments his critics would make.

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The Salt
4:42 am
Tue August 4, 2015

Here's The Buzz On America's Forgotten Native 'Tea' Plant

Yaupon growing in the wild in east Texas. This evergreen holly was once valuable to Native American tribes in the Southeastern U.S., which made a brew from its caffeinated leaves.
Murray Carpenter for NPR

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 3:34 pm

During a severe drought in 2011, JennaDee Detro noticed that many trees on the family cattle ranch in Cat Spring, Texas, withered, but a certain evergreen holly appeared vigorous. It's called a yaupon.

"The best we can tell is that they enjoy suffering," Detro says with a laugh. "So this kind of extreme weather in Texas — and the extreme soil conditions — are perfect for the yaupon."

Detro began researching yaupon — a tree abundant in its native range, from coastal North Carolina to East Texas — and discovered that the plant contains caffeine and has a remarkable history.

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Latin America
3:29 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

Puerto Rico Fails To Make Its Bond Payment

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 8:52 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Your Money
3:29 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

Alabama Drivers Are Filling Up On Cheap Gas

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 3:54 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Salt
2:54 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

Wanted: More Bulls With No Horns

One of the hornless Holsteins at Steve Maddox's California dairy farm. Maddox is beginning to breed hornless cattle into his herd, but it's slow going.
Abbie Fentress Swanson for NPR

The next time you're in the dairy aisle at the supermarket, take a moment to imagine the animals that produced all that milk. Do these cows have horns? Chances are they do, or at least they did at birth.

About 85 percent of milk sold in the United States comes from Holstein cows born with horns. But it's standard practice for farms to remove horns from cattle to prevent injuries to workers, veterinarians and other cows in the herd.

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The Two-Way
2:52 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

Oil Prices Tumble Again, Hurting Drillers But Helping Drivers

Falling oil prices have put downward pressure on gasoline prices, now averaging $2.65 a gallon — about 85 cents cheaper than a year ago.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 4:49 pm

Oil prices took another drop Monday, rattling the stock market and putting more downward pressure on gasoline prices.

For oil companies, the price slump is hitting hard at profits, but for U.S. motorists, the downshift has brought savings at the pump.

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The Two-Way
11:01 am
Mon August 3, 2015

Texas Attorney General Turns Himself In On Fraud Charges

Attorney General Ken Paxton was booked on three felony securities fraud charges in Texas on Monday morning.
Collin County.gov Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 1:37 pm

Facing securities fraud charges, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton turned himself in at a jail in Collin County, Texas, on Monday morning. A grand jury recently indicted Paxton on three felony charges that accuse him of misleading investors into a technology company.

"Two of the charges — first-degree felony securities fraud — carry the possibility of hefty jail sentences," reports member station KUT in Austin.

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The Two-Way
5:27 am
Mon August 3, 2015

Greek Stocks Drop Sharply As Market Reopens For First Time Since June

Journalists gather at Greece's Stock Exchange as it reopens on Monday.
MARIOS LOLOS Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 1:00 pm

Five weeks after an economic crisis forced its closure, Greece's stock market reopened Monday to a flurry of selling and falling prices. Banks led the losses on the Athens Stock Exchange, which is also coping with poor manufacturing data.

When it opened, the Athens Stock Exchange General Index plummeted from 797.52 to a new 52-week low of 615 — a drop of nearly 23 percent. But the index then recovered some ground, rising to 660 (a 17 percent drop) some three hours after trading began. It closed down 16.2 percent.

From Athens, NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports:

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Environment
4:08 am
Mon August 3, 2015

Obama Aims To Tighten Restrictions On Plants' Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Originally published on Tue August 4, 2015 4:28 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Energy
5:44 am
Sat August 1, 2015

Winds Of Change? Rhode Island Hopes For First Offshore Wind Farm

The first foundation jacket installed by Deepwater Wind in the nation's first offshore wind farm construction project is seen next to a construction crane on Monday, on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean off Block Island, R.I.
Stephan Savoia AP

Originally published on Sat August 1, 2015 9:31 am

Aboard a ferry off the coast of Rhode Island, state and federal officials take a close look at a steel structure poking out of the ocean. It's the first foundation affixed to the seafloor for a five-turbine wind farm off the state's coast.

It's a contrast to what's happening off the coast of Massachusetts. Developer Cape Wind has spent more than 10 years and millions of dollars there on a massive wind farm that it may never build.

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The Two-Way
9:54 pm
Fri July 31, 2015

Pacific Trade Pact In Limbo As Talks End Without A Deal

Originally published on Sat August 1, 2015 11:48 am

In a setback for the Obama administration, talks aimed at setting up a major free-trade zone among 12 Pacific Rim countries — the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership — have ended without success.

Although U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said "significant progress" had been made at this week's talks in Maui, Hawaii, and officials promised to reconvene at some future date, big differences remain among the participating countries.

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It's All Politics
3:26 pm
Fri July 31, 2015

Hillary Clinton Releases 8 Years Of Tax Returns

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in Iowa earlier this week.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 5:16 pm

This post was updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton released eight years worth of tax returns Friday, showing that she and her husband Bill Clinton earned $139 million since 2007. They paid nearly $44 million in federal taxes during that period. The couple's effective federal tax rate ranged from 25 percent in 2007 to 36 percent last year.

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The Salt
2:26 pm
Fri July 31, 2015

Pesticide Drift Threatens Organic Farms

Organic farmer Margot McMillen holds a grape leaf damaged by pesticide drift on her farm, Terra Bella Farm, in central Missouri.
Kristofor Husted Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 10:35 am

Chert Hollow Farm sits nestled between rows of tall trees and a nearby stream in central Missouri. Eric and Joanna Reuter have been running the organic farm since 2006. That means they don't plant genetically modified crops and can only use a few approved kinds of chemicals and fertilizers.

"We've traditionally raised about an acre and a half of pretty intensively managed produce, so it's a very productive acre and a half," Eric Reuter says.

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Sports
9:18 am
Fri July 31, 2015

Summer Olympics 2008 Host Beijing Awarded 2022 Winter Games

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And the winner is...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The International Olympic Committee has the honor to announce the host city of the Olympic Winter Games 2022 - Beijing.

(APPLAUSE)

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The Two-Way
6:27 am
Fri July 31, 2015

WikiLeaks Docs Purport To Show The U.S. Spied On Japan's Government

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 8:42 am

New classified documents released by WikiLeaks purport to show that the United States spied on Japan's government, as well as on Japanese banks and companies, including Mitsubishi.

In one document marked "top secret," the U.S. allegedly distributed information from a conversation between cabinet-level officials from four ministries and Japan's chief cabinet secretary about Japan's G-8 proposals on climate change.

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Research News
3:08 am
Fri July 31, 2015

Why Peer Pressure Doesn't Add Up To Retirement Savings

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 9:18 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Planet Money
3:08 am
Fri July 31, 2015

Remembering When Driverless Elevators Drew Skepticism

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 9:18 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
2:50 am
Fri July 31, 2015

In Michigan, A Testing Ground For A Future Of Driverless Cars

A pedestrian crosses in front of a vehicle as part of a demonstration at Mcity on July 20, on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 9:18 am

When engineers at Ford want to see how a new car handles, they take it to a large track with loops and straightaways. But that traditional testing ground isn't much help to Randy Visintainer, director of Ford's autonomous vehicles program.

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Business
1:58 am
Fri July 31, 2015

To Get Big-Rig Drivers, Senate Bill Would Give Keys To Teens

Eric Pennucci of Horizon Air Services, a Boston trucking firm, does not like the idea of 18-year-olds behind the wheel of tractor-trailers.
Chris Arnold NPR

Originally published on Fri July 31, 2015 9:18 am

Tractor-trailers have 18 wheels. But under current federal law, you can't be 18 years old and drive one across state lines. You have to be 21. The highway bill working its way through the Senate, though, would change that.

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Sports
2:58 pm
Thu July 30, 2015

Kazakhstan Promises 'Real Winter Wonderland' In Bid To Host 2022 Games

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 4:24 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Energy
2:58 pm
Thu July 30, 2015

Shell Announces Plans To Eliminate 6,500 Jobs

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 4:42 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Oil companies are coming to terms with the prospect that oil prices could stay low for years. Today, Royal Dutch Shell announced it's laying off 1,600 workers. NPR's John Ydstie reports.

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Asia
2:58 pm
Thu July 30, 2015

Despite Rising Costs, China Is Gung-Ho To Host 2022 Winter Olympics

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 4:24 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

World
2:58 pm
Thu July 30, 2015

Debris Found In The Indian Ocean May Be From Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Originally published on Thu July 30, 2015 4:24 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Two-Way
10:18 am
Thu July 30, 2015

Obama Orders Development Of Supercomputer To Rival China's 'Milky Way'

The Japanese supercomputer K, pictured in June 2012 at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, western Japan. The K computer is currently ranked No. 3 on a list of the 500 fastest supercomputers.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Mon August 3, 2015 1:26 pm

President Obama has ordered the development of a supercomputer that is some 20 times faster than the world's current record-holder and is expected to go online by 2025.

A machine developed by China's National University of Defense Technology and housed in Guangzhou, called Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2), is thought to currently be the fastest supercomputer in existence — variously reported as doing either 34 or 55 petaflops (1 petaflop is equivalent to 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second).

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