From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block. Vice President Joe Biden is in Tokyo today. He's there to reemphasize American support for Japan as it tangles with China over contested air space. China unnerved its neighbors late last month by declaring an air identification defense zone. The zone covers disputed islands in the East China Sea. NPR's Frank Langfitt has more from Shanghai on what's behind China's latest move.
While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."
"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 12:03 pm
Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old American war veteran and tourist who was arrested in North Korea in October, once supervised a guerrilla group of "perhaps the most hated and feared fighters" of the Korean War, some of his former comrades say. That's according to The Associated Press, which offers details about Newman's service as a possible explanation for his detention.
Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 7:30 am
Overweight or obese people are indeed more likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight, say researchers who've analyzed the data. Their conclusion throws cold water on recent studies that have found some excess weight isn't so bad.
Earlier this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overweight people actually live a bit longer than their skinnier peers.
A graphic released with the 2012 PISA results shows the annualized change in performance in average math scores between 2003 and 2012. The chart includes only nations that have comparable data from both 2003 and 2012.
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 11:13 am
American 15-year-olds continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.
The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.
OK. So federal judges, in secret, have blasted the National Security Agency for years, for violating rules governing U.S. surveillance programs. Then the judges have gone ahead and approved those programs anyway. We know this because of leaks by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, and from documents released by the government. They have revealed new information about how the secret court works. NPR's Carrie Johnson has this report on whether it is possible for the court to control the NSA.
San Francisco has long been a desirable place to live — and that's even more true today as the city is basking in the glow of another tech boom. But the influx of new money and new residents is putting a strain on the city's housing market.
The city has the highest median rent in the nation, and evictions of longtime residents are skyrocketing.
Ground zero for San Francisco's eviction crisis is the Inner Mission District. Until recently, this edgy neighborhood was home to a mix of working-class Latinos, artists and activists.
"Crazy-generous" tips, as Gawker says, have been showing up on checks across the nation as some anonymous good Samaritans known only as "TipsForJesus" add hundreds or thousands of dollars to their restaurant and bar bills.
While lawyers dismantle many restrictions on political money, the rules affecting Morning Edition and Downton Abbey still stand tall. A federal court in San Francisco says public radio and TV stations cannot carry paid political ads.
The 8-3 decision Monday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last April by a smaller panel of the court. NPR and PBS both joined the case as friends of the court.
This week, a group of Seminole Indians in Florida is commemorating an important historical event — when a Seminole named Polly Parker organized and led an escape from federal troops more than 150 years ago.
It came at a time when Indians were being deported to the West in what became known as the Trail of Tears. Florida's Seminoles call themselves the "unconquered people" because, through three wars with federal troops, they resisted deportation to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi.
Workers process applications for Oregon's health exchange program. The state paid tech giant Oracle to build its online exchange, but with the site still not functional, people shopping for insurance have been forced to apply on paper.
Oregon has spent more than $40 million to build its own online health care exchange. It gave that money to a Silicon Valley titan, Oracle, but the result has been a disaster of missed deadlines, a nonworking website and a state forced to process thousands of insurance applications on paper.
Some Oregon officials were sounding alarms about the tech company's work on the state's online health care exchange as early as last spring. Oracle was behind schedule and, worse, didn't seem able to offer an estimate of what it would take to get the state's online exchange up and running.
More than 1 million people will see their extended unemployment benefits immediately cut off at the end of the month if Congress doesn't act.
An emergency federal benefit program was put in place during the recession to help those who are unemployed longer than six months. That allowed them to get as much as a year and a half of help while they searched for work, even after state benefits ran out.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 4:06 pm
If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.
Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.
Workers pull merchandise as it arrives at the Amazon.com's 1.2 million square foot fulfillment center in Phoenix on Nov. 26. Americans clicked away on their computers and smartphones for deals on Cyber Monday, which is expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 12:50 pm
The term Cyber Monday wasn't established until 2005, but online shopping was popular even in the early days of the Internet.
Analysts questioned how business models would have to change. Retail stores came up with new partnerships to help lure buyers into an online shopping world. A little company called Amazon helped us feel comfortable buying items online. And the simple perk of "free shipping" tried to make a dent in holiday sales.
African-Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV in the U.S., and many black churches are stepping in to do something about it. Pastor Timothy Sloan of Texas talks with host Michel Martin about destigmatizing the disease from the pulpit.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 9:36 am
Six same-sex couples got married in Hawaii shortly after midnight Monday morning, taking advantage of a new law in the first hours of the first day it took effect. The state's Legislature approved the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act in a recent special session.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 10:21 am
Amazon is looking at drastically reducing its delivery times — to 30 minutes or less — as it plans a new service called Prime Air that it says could debut in a few years. In an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, CEO Jeff Bezos said the giant online retailer plans to use semi-autonomous drones to carry purchases to customers.
That's got tech experts buzzing about whether the idea will fly.
Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 4:53 pm
Update at 6:50 p.m. ET. Speeding Into Curve; A Mile Or More To Safely Stop:
A commuter train headed into New York City was traveling at 82 mph Sunday morning when it entered a curve where the speed limit was supposed to be 30 mph and derailed, National Transportation Safety Board investigators have concluded. Four people on the train were killed and at least 60 others were injured.
The wreckage of a Metro-North commuter train, which derailed Sunday just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station in Bronx, N.Y., lies on its side. The train was heading to Grand Central Terminal along the Hudson River.
When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.
Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."
Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."
One of the largest obstacles in getting people to bike to work is their fear of getting hit by a car. A new grass-roots project in Los Angeles is helping folks navigate the ins and outs of traffic.
It's 6:45 a.m. and Barbara Insua is busy packing a bag. She will ride seven miles from her home in Pasadena to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, where she works as a graphic designer. She only started doing this ride a few months ago.
"It was kind of daunting," she says, "because seven miles to the lab — I didn't know how to do it. I'm not an avid cyclist."
Calling the improvements "night and day" from October, the Obama administration says it has met its goal of getting the troubled HealthCare.gov site working for a "vast majority" of users. But that's only part of a complex technology system that is designed to end with insurance companies providing coverage for millions of consumers.
It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
A commuter train derailed as it was heading into Manhattan this morning, killing four people and injuring more than 60. Witnesses say the train appeared to be going too fast as it rounded a curve just north of a train station in the Bronx. The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to piece together what happened.
Now to a mode of transportation better suited to the budget of a public radio reporter - bicycling. If you think cyclists are not among the toughest athletes, well, you haven't been to Pittsburgh. The city has some brutal hills which actually attract a certain breed of cyclists. As Liz Reid from member station WESA reports, cyclists have been attacking those hills for 30 years in an event called the Dirty Dozen.