NPR News

The Two-Way
5:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

House Approves $16 Billion Plan To Improve Health Care For Vets

The House easily approved a deal to help veterans hammered out by Florida GOP Rep. Jeff Miller (left) and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 6:42 pm

The House voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would address widespread problems with health care for veterans.

The vote in favor of the $16.3 billion package was 420 to 5.

The problems veterans have had obtaining care has drawn national attention in recent weeks. A White House investigation into problems at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals found "significant and chronic systemic failures."

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The Salt
4:33 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Why Your 'Small-Batch' Whiskey Might Taste A Lot Like The Others

Bulleit is one of 50 different brands a food blogger says is using whiskey from an Indiana factory.
Mike McCune/Flickr

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:38 pm

It's a good time to be a whiskey maker, and craft whiskeys are all the rage, with names like Bulleit, Redemption, Templeton and George Dickel.

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Economy
4:02 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Job Worries Linger, But The Economy Is Looking Good

Assembly-line workers at the Chrysler plant in Sterling Heights, Mich. The economy is getting good marks in the latest data, but some worries about the job market continue.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 4:28 pm

Five years after the Great Recession ended, where are we with this recovery?

On Wednesday, the Commerce Department and the Federal Reserve both answered by saying, in effect:

We're in a sweet spot — growing at a decent rate with good reason for optimism.

Or as the Fed blandly put it, "economic activity will expand at a moderate pace."

President Obama, speaking on the economy in Kansas City, Mo., was more effusive.

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The Two-Way
3:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Amid Confusion, 17 Killed By Shelling At Market In Gaza

An injured man is carried to an ambulance following a strike in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood on Wednesday.
Adel Hana AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 4:36 pm

It may have been a tragic case of confusion.

The Israel Defense Forces declared a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire on Wednesday. But the army said it did not apply where soldiers were already engaged and that residents who had evacuated should not return to those areas.

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The Salt
3:44 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Moldova's Winemakers Seize Upon Region's Geopolitical Moment

A glass is filled with Moldovan wine at a wine fair in Belgium in 2013.
Yves Logghe AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:33 pm

Consider, for a moment, the misfortunes of winemakers in Moldova, a former Soviet republic in southeastern Europe, tucked in between Ukraine and Romania.

Their country is the poorest in Europe, with a per capita GDP about the same as Honduras. They'd love to sell their product — which has gotten approving nods from foreign critics -- in wealthier countries. But most of those customers don't even know that Moldova exists, let alone that its winemaking tradition goes back thousands of years.

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Parallels
3:14 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Gaza's Network Of Tunnels Is A Major Hole In Israel's Defenses

An Israeli army officer walks near the entrance of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza border. A network of tunnels Palestinian militants have dug from Gaza to Israel is taking center stage in the latest war between Hamas and Israel.
Jack Guez AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:07 pm

Israeli officials say the country's deadly ground offensive won't end until its soldiers destroy a vast network of Hamas tunnels the militants use to try to attack Jewish communities outside the Gaza Strip.

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Around the Nation
3:04 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Grocery Chain Workers Want Their CEO Back

The aisles and food cases are largely empty inside a Market Basket in Somerville, Mass. Workers have disrupted operations by leaving produce to spoil in the back of the store and parking semitrucks to block loading bays.
Curt Nickisch WBUR

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:07 pm

If your boss was fired, would you walk off the job in protest?

That's what's happening at the New England grocery store chain Market Basket, which has 25,000 employees. Business at Market Basket stores has slowed to a trickle as workers disrupt operations, stage protests and ask shoppers to stay away.

They say CEO Arthur T. Demoulas treats them well, and they want him reinstated.

Outside the Market Basket store in Somerville, Mass., a dozen workers wave protest signs as cars honk in support. Gabriel Pinto, a bagger, says he wants the new top executives gone.

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The Two-Way
2:27 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Judge Orders Bank Of America To Pay $1.3 Billion Fine

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara applauded a judge's ruling in a major fraud case.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:08 pm

A federal judge has ordered Bank of America to pay a $1.27 billion fine for fraud perpetrated by Countrywide Financial Corp., a mortgage company the bank acquired in 2008.

Last October, a jury held Bank of America liable for bad loans Countrywide sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of its "Hustle" mortgage-lending program as the housing market soured in 2007 and 2008.

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NPR Story
2:10 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

GDP, Fed And Jobs Report: Economists Watching A Big Week In Money

Construction workers build a commercial complex in Springfield, Ill., July 17, 2014. (Seth Perlman/AP)

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:43 pm

Today, the U.S. economy surprised economists by growing at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, rebounding after a disappointing winter.

The Federal Reserve Board announced this afternoon that it will be speeding up the tapering of its bond buying, which has been a way to stimulate the economy since the financial crisis. The Fed says interest rates will stay below normal even after employment and inflation reach normal levels.

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NPR Story
2:10 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Over 200,000 Gazans In U.N. Shelters As Fighting Continues

A displaced Palestinian child takes shelter at the Abu Hussien UN school in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip after the area was hit earlier in the morning by Israeli shelling on July 30, 2014. Israeli bombardments early on July 30 killed dozens of Palestinians in Gaza, including those at at a UN school, medics said, on day 23 of the Israel-Hamas conflict. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:43 pm

The fighting continued today in Gaza, with an early morning strike on a United Nations refugee camp, which killed at least 20 Palestinians.

Israel declared a limited humanitarian ceasefire, but excluded areas in which its troops are carrying out operations. Israeli military officials also warned Gazans to stay away from areas they have been told to evacuate.

The U.N. says it is now sheltering over 200,000 Palestinians, and that at least five — possibly as many as seven — of its facilities have been hit by fire since the Israeli ground operation began.

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NPR Story
2:10 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Older Poor Americans And Their Search For Work

"Workampers" travel across the country in RVs, often performing seasonal work or even working part-time in huge Amazon warehouses. (Curtis Perry/Flickr)

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:43 pm

More than 7 million Americans age 65 years and older were still working last year. That’s up 60 percent from a decade ago.

A story in Harper’s Magazine opens a window into some of these people. They’re called “workampers” (a contraction of working and camping) and they travel across the country in their RVs, often performing seasonal work, selling fireworks, pumpkins, Christmas trees. They even work part-time in huge Amazon warehouses.

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Can I Just Tell You?
2:09 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Making Space For People Who Are Out Of the Spotlight

Tell Me More host Michel Martin.
Amy Ta NPR

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 12:47 pm

A very smart person I know, a long time civil rights activist, told me once that "gratitude is overrated."

Now, I know that sounds harsh, but what I think she meant was that some people, especially, in her view, women, are too often too quick to settle for less than they deserve. She was talking about people who are so conditioned to have nothing, that they are just too happy when they get even a little.

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NPR Story
2:09 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Argentina Scrambles To Avoid Default

Retired citizens await the opening of the Banco Provincia bank headquarters in the financial district near Plaza de Mayo square to collect their pensions, in Buenos Aires on July 30, 2014. Last-ditch talks aimed at averting Argentina's second default in 13 years were to resume Wednesday in New York, after Tuesday's marathon session failed to reach a deal. (Daniel Garcia/AFP/Getty Images)

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:43 pm

An American judge has ordered Argentina to make debt payments of $1.5 billion to American creditors. But time is running out.

If Argentina doesn’t pay the U.S. hedge funds by midnight, it will default on its bond payments for the second time in 13 years. The last default, in 2001, led Argentinians to protest the declining economic conditions in their country.

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NPR Story
2:09 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

As War And Conflicts Proliferate, Children Become Unwary Victims And Targets

The latest video released by Boko Haram of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls shows the girls dressed in full hijab and chanting passages from the Koran. (Screenshot)

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:43 pm

With political, military, economic and religious strife proliferating globally, children are increasingly turning up in the headlines.

And while kids have always suffered during the turmoils of war and crisis, there’s a sense internationally that the burden of instability is being increasingly borne by children.

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Politics
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Senate Bill Would Fine Colleges For Mismanaging Campus Rape Cases

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:06 pm

Eighteen-year-old Anna went off to Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York last year, where she says she was raped 16 days into her freshman year.

A medical examiner's report found blunt-force trauma, possibly from multiple partners, and a witness described seeing her passed out in the back of a dance hall being raped by football players while others watched or took photos.

The football players denied the allegations, and the school cleared them of wrongdoing 12 days later, before the results of the rape kit were complete.

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Around the Nation
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

As Wildfires Burn Through Funds, Washington Seeks New Way To Pay

A line of fire snakes along a hillside at dusk on July 18 in Winthrop, Wash., where a fire destroyed about 100 homes. Officials say that fire damage, overall, is down this summer, but that firefighting costs are skyrocketing.
Elaine Thompson AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:07 pm

Though wildfires this summer have burned hundreds of homes and scorched thousands of square miles of land in Washington, Oregon and California, officials say that so far, this wildfire season could be worse.

But the cost of fighting those fires has skyrocketed, and the Obama administration and some in Congress say it's time to rethink how those dollars are spent.

In places like central Washington, watching the evening news has recently not been for the faint of heart, with daily broadcasts chronicling evacuations of local towns with the approach of "firestorms."

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Economy
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Fast Growth Does Little To Budge Fed's Caution — For Now

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:24 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Middle East
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

A Market And A School Come Under Fire During A Violent Day In Gaza

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:07 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Latin America
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

A Tour Of The Tower That Fell Into Squatters' Hands

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:04 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Lawsuit Opens A Long Round Of Political Pingpong

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio strides to the House chamber Wednesday as lawmakers prepare to move on legislation authorizing a lawsuit against President Obama, accusing him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:38 pm

The House passed a resolution this evening authorizing Speaker John Boehner's lawsuit against President Obama. The 225-201 vote fell nearly along party lines, with five Republicans joining Democrats to vote "no."

The suit accuses Obama of exceeding his constitutional authority in his implementation of the Affordable Care Act. But as a campaign tactic, the prospect of a lawsuit appears to be a Democratic bonanza.

At a campaign-style speech earlier today in Kansas City, Mo., President Obama went after House Republicans for choosing politics over policy.

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Latin America
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Late Rally From Argentina Fails To Delay Default

Argentina Economy Minister Axel Kicillof speaks during a news conference at the Argentina Consulate on Wednesday in New York. By the end of the day, a deal had not been reached with the country's creditors.
Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 8:09 pm

Talks aimed at resolving Argentina's debt crisis have broken down in New York. A court-appointed mediator has declared that the country will go into default. It is the second time the country has defaulted in about 12 years.

With a midnight deadline looming, the government and its creditors walked away without a deal late Wednesday.

Argentina has been waging a protracted legal battle with a small number of bondholders. They want to be paid in full for bonds they purchased years ago.

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Europe
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Violence On The Ground Hobbles MH17 Investigations

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:24 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Politics
2:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

For 2 Senators, Campus Sexual Assault Solution Starts In Washington

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 5:07 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Fresh Air Interview
1:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Dom Flemons Holds On To Those Old-Time Roots

Dom Flemons with his 1920s banjo.
Michael Weintrob Courtesy of the artist

From his vintage hat to his enormous 1920s banjo, Dom Flemons looks like he's time-traveled from a different era.

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The Two-Way
12:00 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Women Defy Turkey's Deputy PM, Who Said Women Shouldn't Laugh In Public

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç stirred some controversy on Monday, when during an Eid el-Fitr speech, he said chaste women should not laugh in public.

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Shots - Health News
11:54 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Problem Drinking In Midlife Linked To Memory Trouble Later

How much is too much?
Robert S. Donovan/Flickr

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 12:58 pm

To ward off big memory problems in your 70s and beyond you may want to cork the bottle more often now.

In a study of 6,500 people published this week, adults with a midlife history of drinking problems were more than twice as likely as those without alcohol problems to suffer severe memory impairment decades later.

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Goats and Soda
11:50 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Sierra Leone Doctor Who Led The Fight Against Ebola Dies

Before the Ebola outbreak, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan focused on helping patients with other types of hemorrhagic fevers.
Umaru Fofana Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 1:16 pm

For the past several months, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan had been one of the top doctors battling the deadliest and largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Khan had treated over a 100 Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was hailed by the government as a "national hero."

Then last week Khan caught the virus himself. He died Tuesday, Reuters reports, while receiving treatment at a clinic in Kailahun, Sierra Leone.

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The Two-Way
10:10 am
Wed July 30, 2014

U.S. Issues Travel Restrictions On Venezuelan Officials

Demonstrations back in February resulted in violent clashes between protesters and government forces.
Leo Ramirez AFP/Getty Images

The State Department on Wednesday announced it was revoking visas for a number of Venezuelan government officials the U.S. says have violated the human rights of the Venezuelan people.

"We have seen repeated efforts to repress legitimate expression of dissent through judicial intimidation, to limit freedom of the press, and to silence members of the political opposition," Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.

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The Protojournalist
9:13 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Desk Desk Evolution

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 3:42 pm

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The Two-Way
8:14 am
Wed July 30, 2014

WATCH: Video Shows Women Narrowly Escape Death On Railroad Tracks

Video shows a woman trying to outrun a train.
YouTube

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 9:53 am

The video is harrowing. It shows two women narrowly escaping death after a train is unable to come to a stop before running over them.

The Indiana Rail Road, which released the video to show the dangers of trespassing on railroad tracks, describes the scene like this:

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