National / International News

Home Visits Help Parents Overcome Tough Histories, Raise Healthy Children

NPR News - Mon, 2017-08-21 01:00

A program that provides $400 million in federal funds for the visits expires next month. Advocates and providers hope it will be reauthorized and even expanded, saying it's money well spent.

(Image credit: Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News)

How Atlanta attorneys are helping kids stay in school

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2017-08-21 01:00
Kids in low-income neighborhoods tend to change schools more often than their peers. And studies show that can have a detrimental effect on their education. So this past year, one public school in Atlanta tried to break the trend — by providing families with lawyers. At Thomasville Heights Elementary School, in southeast Atlanta, Christal Reynolds and Ayanna Jones-Lightsy have just started their day. Reynolds, a community advocate, is already on the phone. She’s talking to a parent who needs her apartment windows replaced. “If you can today, call that repair line,” she said. “And please ask for a confirmation number.” Meanwhile, Jones-Lightsy, an attorney, pulls a stack of documents out of a file cabinet. She said, they’re apartment building inspections acquired through an open records request. “We requested a lot to go back and do comparisons,” Jones-Lightsy said, “what they claimed has been fixed and may not have been fixed, and what has actually been fixed.” Jones-Lightsy and Reynolds are with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, a group that provides free legal aid. The two work together to keep kids at Thomasville Heights. “Last year, Thomasville Heights had a 40 percent turnover rate in their students,” Jones-Lightsy said. “That’s almost half the students were coming in or going out in the course of the year.” The simple reason is their families were moving. And in this low-income neighborhood, a lot of moving was happening in one place. “Thomasville Heights is unique in that right across the street we have this huge subsidized housing apartment complex,” Jones-Lightsy said. According to Jones-Lightsy and Reynolds, the complex, called Forest Cove, has a number of issues. They include evictions, overdue repairs and conditions like mold and infestations. They said, those issues make families leave. So Jones-Lightsy and Reynolds are using the tools of the legal system to bring change. “We work with seven of the top firms in Atlanta,” Jones-Lightsy said. “The focus is on how do we help these residents stay here and help improve conditions.” Attorneys send demand letters or even go to court — all pro bono. And in cases like Lagina Brown’s, it’s worked. Brown lives at the income-based apartment complex with her six kids. “It’s comfortable for me,” Brown said, “because say if I have to quit my job for some reason I don’t have to worry about being thrown out.” Related Principals at low-income schools often leave, but this one has stayed 17 years Schools take steps to promote socioeconomic diversity Last year, though, she had some trouble. Her air conditioning went out upstairs, the electricity stopped working downstairs and she found bed bugs. “It was just a horrible process because we really didn’t have nowhere to go,” Brown said. “The house to me was not livable. So basically we were just sleeping wherever we could.” She said the apartment manager sent her an eviction notice, arguing the bed bugs were her fault. And that’s when the volunteer lawyers stepped in. One fought her eviction in court. And later, after she won and repairs still weren’t complete, another lawyer followed up.  “I don’t know what he wrote but after the lawyer sent the letter, they got it done the very next day,” Brown said, snapping her finger. “Immediately.” The attorneys’ help kept Brown at Forest Cove and three of her kids at Thomasville Heights elementary. And that stability is what the school wants, said principal Nicole Jones. “Kids don’t learn from people who they don’t like or know very well,” Jones said. “So it’s really important that we get them here and they stay.” A New York University study of Chicago schools found the less students change schools, the better they focus and perform on tests. The women with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation have also become familiar faces at Thomasville Heights. “They’re very trusted,” Jones said. “The parents don’t think anything about it. It’s just like, ‘Can I talk to the teacher or can I see the principal?’ You know, ‘Can I talk to the lawyer?’” A spokesperson for the Forest Cove apartment owners says they’ve spent $3 million on renovations in the last three years. And they’re now selling the property to another company promising more repairs. Still, Jones-Lightsy and Reynolds say they plan to stay at the elementary school. “I think it’s important that management feels like all of the tenants at Forest Cove now have a lawyer,” Jones-Lightsy said. “So we’ll be around,” Reynolds said. “We will be here for the long haul.” Next year, the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation program will even expand. Lawyers will start working with five more schools that deal with high student turnover rates.

Barcelona attacks: Hunt for key suspect extended across Europe

BBC - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:42
The hunt for the driver who killed 13 people in Barcelona last week is extended across Europe.

To Get Calcium, Navajos Burn Juniper Branches To Eat The Ash

NPR News - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:32

Most American Indians are lactose intolerant, which means they need to find nutrients outside of dairy sources. It turns out that a return to traditional cooking methods can be key to good health.

(Image credit: Laurel Morales/KJZZ)

Fresh Threats From Pyongyang As Joint Military Exercise Begins

NPR News - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:31

The annual drill between U.S. and South Korean troops comes in the wake of a bitter back-and-forth between North Korea and President Trump.

(Image credit: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Unpaid Dart Charge fines: Nick Freeman says UK is 'soft' on foreign drivers

BBC - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:25
Celebrity lawyer "Mr Loophole" says the UK is sending a bad message to Europe over unpaid fines.

The self-made millionaire who gave his money to people who just asked for it

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:17
What is the best way to help people in need? Some economists argue, well, just give them money. That's exactly what one man did.  Once upon a time, there was a flamboyant entrepreneur named Percy Ross who made millions in plastics. In the '80s and '90s, Ross had a newspaper column out of Minnesota where he set himself up as “America’s Rich Uncle” and gave money to people who wrote in. Writer Jacqui Shine, who chronicled Ross' philanthropy in the publication Longreads, joined us to talk about some of the requests Ross fulfilled and how Americans perceive charity. Below is an edited transcript.   David Brancaccio: "Thanks A Million" was his newspaper column. What did he do with that? Jacqui Shine: People would write in and ask for money for almost anything. And Percy Ross would read through the letters and by and large, if somebody requested something under $1,000 and he liked the request, he just sent them a check. Related The Oscar Mayer heir who gave away all his wealth What universal basic income could mean for the future of work Brancaccio: So he's a little seat-of-your-pants here. It's in contrast to big charities today who tend to be more data-driven, and they want the recipients to demonstrate the need with statistics and then deliver metrics to show impact. This wasn't Percy Ross. Shine: No. American philanthropists — and everyday Americans, too — are very concerned about how that money is used and about the kind of moral values that it expresses about the people they give it to. Percy Ross was not interested in that. One of my favorites was that he gave a woman money to keep her 92-year-old grandfather in girlie magazines for the rest of his life. He paid for winter coats. Sometimes he paid people's electric bills and property taxes. In the way that a philanthropy targets its money very specifically, Percy Ross didn't have a kind of ethic of giving. Brancaccio: And toward the end, the latter years of his newspaper column, he did something interesting that you found striking. It was a kind of crowdfunding? Shine: He would print in his column particular letters from people who needed huge amounts of funding for whatever project he deemed worthy and people would send in cash. So there is a YMCA in the upper peninsula of Michigan that was funded through readers sending $50,000 in dollar bills. They funded a heart transplant for a woman in Texas. They sent 15,000 children's books to a teacher in California. Brancaccio: That's interesting that's the closest analog to these crowd funding systems that we see online now Shine: Especially given the degree to which people now rely on crowdfunding to pay for medical costs. Absolutely. Related Crowdfunding for your life As funding drops, scientists turn to the crowd

England v West Indies: Why are West Indies so poor - and can problems be fixed?

BBC - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:07
Just how bad are the current West Indies side, why have they slumped so low, and is there any chance of a return to their former glories?

What becoming a mum taught Suranne Jones about her TV role

BBC - Mon, 2017-08-21 00:04
The actress says having a son made her "realise the gravitas" of what Doctor Foster is going through.

Confederate Statues Are Coming Down At The University Of Texas

NPR News - Sun, 2017-08-20 23:22

President Greg Fenves ordered the immediate removal of statues of Robert E. Lee and three other Confederate figures from a main area of campus. The removals should be complete by mid-morning Monday.

U.S. automakers and the Trump administration disagree on this part of NAFTA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Sun, 2017-08-20 22:51
The United States, Mexico and Canada concluded their first round of NAFTA renegotiation talks in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. President Trump has been promising to renegotiate the agreement, signed in 1994, saying it has shifted jobs to Mexico and resulted in large trade deficits between the U.S. and its neighbors. The three countries released a joint statement which said they’re committed to modernizing the trade pact. One of the issues that has popped up in these early negotiations has to do with so-called "rules of origin," which stipulate that a certain percentage of a product — its parts and materials — has to come from one of the NAFTA countries to be exempt from border taxes. For cars, for instance, it’s about 62 percent.  Related When it comes to NAFTA and autos, the parts are well traveled Did NAFTA cost or create jobs? Both The U.S. wants to set the bar higher overall, so more of each product comes from within the NAFTA bloc. It also wants to impose a rule specifically on cars and auto parts: that a set percentage of these products' components come exclusively from the U.S.  The reason U.S. negotiators are focusing on the auto industry comes down to the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico. Last year, Mexico exported about $64 billion more in goods to the U.S. than it bought. A big part of that trade deficit is the sale of cars and auto parts made in Mexico.  Mexico's and Canada's negotiators are pushing back on the U.S. proposal, because it would put their companies at a disadvantage. U.S. auto companies are against the change too. The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Detroit automakers like General Motors and Ford Motor, has spoken out against it. Stricter rules about where they get parts can disrupt their supply chains and raise costs.  The United Auto Workers Union, on the other hand, is in favor of tightening the rules of origin. The next round of talks will take place in Mexico City in about two weeks, and they’ll continue on and off throughout the year.

An Alaska town is at risk of losing its modern-day gold rush — cruise ship tourism

Marketplace - American Public Media - Sun, 2017-08-20 22:49
One hundred years ago, Skagway, Alaska was the entryway for fortune-seekers of the Klondike Gold Rush. Its present-day economy is dependent on a different sort of gold rush: cruise ship tourism. But the people in Skagway are worried about losing their prime spot in the cruise market. That’s because a private company holds the key to the waterfront.  If you’ve ever been on a cruise to Alaska, chances are good you stopped in Skagway. Lisa Chapple, a tour guide who is British, comes here every summer to show people around. “So has anyone here been to Skagway before, or is this the first time?” Chapple asked a bus full of tourists on a July afternoon. This tiny town of 1,000 hosts about a million visitors in the summer. “Basically it’s our main economy,” said Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer. He has a lot on his mind. “We’re literally running out of time,” Schaefer said.  Related You can take a luxury cruise through the Arctic. Thanks climate change! Alaska moves to regulate cruise ship kickbacks Skagway is teetering on the edge of losing a big share of the cruise market. Ships are getting more and more massive. To make room for them, Skagway needs to build a new dock. But it can’t do that without permission from the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, a gold rush relic-turned powerful tourist attraction. The railroad has leased much of Skagway’s port since the 1960s. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad wants at least 15 more years of guaranteed control over key pieces of the waterfront. Skagway has a choice: Say yes to the railroad and keep its hold on the cruise market, or say no and try to take back its waterfront. “The proposal that we’ve made ensures that both parties will have benefit from the agreement,” said White Pass president John Finlayson. The railroad's current lease is set to expire  in 2023, and the proposal  for a new lease would run through 2038.  Mayor Schaefer supports the current arrangement.  “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” he said.   Here’s another complicating layer: White Pass is the biggest employer in Skagway. In fact, Schaefer is a manager with the railroad and half of the town’s governing body works for the company. Despite the railroad’s deep roots, not everybody supports giving it a longer lease. Business owner Gayla Hites was one of the critics who spoke out against the extended lease at recent public meetings.  She questioned the company's response in the past to lead contamination issues at one area in the port. “Nobody trusts them,” Hites said.  To cruise ship visitors, this decision might not make much of a difference. If the big ships can’t dock in Skagway, they’ll just go to another Alaska port. But to the people in this tiny town, entire livelihoods could depend on it. 

Barcelona attack: What the trees say

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 22:03
People from all over the world have been moved to write messages on the plane trees of Las Ramblas.

Eclipse spectacle set to grip US public

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 21:47
Skywatchers in the US prepare for an event that is without precedent in the country's 241-year history.

In a rush? Here's your Monday morning briefing

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 21:30
Your morning briefing for 21 August 2017.

Crowd zorbing and cake throwing, plus other weird things at UK festivals

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 21:25
As Pink gets inside a giant ball and surfs over the crowd at V festival - we take a look at the other bizarre festival sights.

Crowd zorbing and cake throwing, plus other weird things at UK festivals

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 21:25
As Pink gets inside a giant ball and surfs over the crowd at V festival - we take a look at the other bizarre festival sights.

Motorists using dash cams to inform on dodgy drivers

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 21:16
A pilot scheme which has seen action taken against dangerous drivers is being expanded across Wales.

Qantas chief to campaign for Australia same-sex marriage

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 20:43
Alan Joyce, who was once struck with a pie over his support, will "be active" in Australia's debate.

Killer robots: Experts warn of 'third revolution in warfare'

BBC - Sun, 2017-08-20 20:25
A letter to the UN warns the world is getting closer to a dangerous "third revolution in warfare".