Skip Navigation
NPR News
Jenny Lewis' new album, The Voyager, arrived on July 29. (Courtesy of the artist)

Jenny Lewis On World Cafe

Jul 29, 2014 (WXPN-FM)

Hear this

This text will be replaced
Launch in player

Share this


Explore this

Reported by

Jenny Lewis's new album, The Voyager, comes out today and we are lucky to have her as our guest playing live with her band.

From child actor to co-head of Rilo Kiley and thru some spectacular solo albums (Rabbit Fur Coat and Acid Tongue) plus working with Ben Gibbard in The Postal Service, we already know Jenny is a trooper. This weekend her story was chronicled in a profile in The New York Times Magazine.

As we will hear today, this album took her a while, as insomnia and the death of her father threw her for a loop. She started working with Beck on the song "Just One Of The Guys," but it was Ryan Adams who brought forth the performances on The Voyager as producer.

Copyright 2014 WXPN-FM. To see more, visit http://www.xpn.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Traffic passes a construction zone at the interchange of U.S. Highway 65 and Interstate 80, in Altoona, Iowa (AP)

Senate Approves $8 Billion Transportation Package

by Alan Greenblatt
Jul 29, 2014 (WXPN-FM)

Hear this

Launch in player

Share this


Explore this

Reported by

Alan Greenblatt

The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would keep transportation dollars flowing until December. But it has not yet solved the problem of how to avoid any disruption in highway spending.

Senators rejected the financing approach favored by the House, which makes heavy use of an accounting practice known as pension smoothing. The House bill would allow companies to reduce payments to their retirement plans, which would temporarily increase their taxable income and thus federal revenues.

In order to reduce the reliance pension smoothing, the Senate shrank the total package to $8.1 billion. The House version, passed last week, approved nearly $11 billion in spending.

The federal highway trust fund has been running short for years. If Congress does not approve new legislation this week, the feds will have to reduce promised payments to states by Aug. 1.

"States have been warned to expect an average reduction of 28 percent in aid payments," The Associated Press reports. "Without action from Congress, the balance in the fund is expected to drop to zero by late August or early September."

House Speaker John Boehner had warned that the Senate shouldn't mess with the House bill's financing mechanisms. "I just want to make clear, if the Senate sends a highway bill over here with those provisions, we're going to strip it out and put the House-passed provisions back in and send it back to the Senate," he said.

But a bipartisan group of senators decided it would be better policy to come up with just enough money to keep the transportation programs on track until the week before Christmas.

That way, they reasoned, Congress will be forced after the fall elections to come up with a longer-term plan.

The House and Senate will now have to reconcile their versions — or hope that they can make the other chamber blink just ahead of a planned five-week recess.

"As I have said before, we won't let the clock run out on transportation funding," Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and the Senate Finance Committee chair, said in a statement.

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

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
During nationwide polio campaigns, hundreds of thousands of health workers go door to door, giving children two drops of the polio vaccine. (Getty Images)

The Hidden Costs Of Fighting Polio In Pakistan

Jul 29, 2014 (All Things Considered / WXPN-FM)

See this

Security officials attend the funeral of police officials killed by bombs in Jamrud, Pakistan, March 1. The men were escorting a team of polio vaccinators when their vehicles were targeted. Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.

Hear this

This text will be replaced
Launch in player

Share this


Pakistan is currently at the center of the global effort to eradicate polio. Although the country has reported only about a hundred cases this year, that's more cases than in all other nations combined.

Eliminating the paralyzing disease is a major logistical operation in Pakistan. More than 200,000 vaccinators fan out across the country, several times a year, to inoculate millions of children. The government also deploys tens of thousands of armed security forces to guard the workers.

All this is happening while Pakistan is fighting against the Taliban — and that militant group continues to threaten polio vaccinators and parents who immunize their children.

The polio campaign is costing Pakistani lives, national pride and precious health resources. Some health leaders are starting to question whether the focus on polio is worth it.

"All the immunization workers have been redirected into the polio campaign, which has resulted in another disaster: Our routine immunization has gone down to as low as 30 percent or less," says Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi. "So that has resulted in epidemics of measles, diphtheria, cases of pertussis — which we had stopped seeing for a long time."

Jamal supports the polio eradication effort. But, he says, it has become a national obsession and has taken a huge toll on Pakistan's already overstretched health system.

Polio is only one of many challenges facing the poor country. People lack access to jobs, sanitation, decent housing, clean water and electricity. Criminal gangs terrorize the slums of Karachi. Pakistan has a major terrorism problem.

Last month, militants in suicide vests fought a five-hour gunbattle with security forces at the Karachi airport, which left 38 people dead. On the same day, 22 Shiite pilgrims were attacked and killed near the Iranian border.

Amid all this, Western health officials have pushed polio to the front of the country's national agenda.

Mazhar Nisar coordinates anti-polio campaigns for the Pakistani Ministry of Health, but even he thinks the constant drumbeat on polio can be a problem. "There is a serious fatigue factor in the parents," he says. "There is a serious fatigue factor among the providers."

Coordinating the mass immunization drives all across the country is a major logistical operation for the health department. And parents have started to question why the government is directing so much attention to this one disease, Nisar says.

"They [parents] said, 'When we go to the hospital, we don't get the medicines. We don't get the proper treatment. My child is dying of diarrhea. My child has measles. And yet every four or six weeks, you come with the polio vaccine,' " he says.

But being one of the last nations on Earth with polio — even if it's just a hundred cases — is an embarrassment for the government.

"There are people at the highest level [of the government] who've told me they start their day with polio, they end their day with polio, as if this is the only priority," says Zulfiqar Bhutta, a professor of pediatrics at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. Bhutta has worked on polio for decades.

Polio eradication is very important, he says. But it's unclear how long Pakistan can stay focused on mass immunization drives. "What we need to go and try to do is something a bit more holistic," he says, "rather than trying to focus on a single intervention and a single program that bears very little relevance to the lives and livelihoods of people."

Pakistan should work to improve its basic health services, Bhutta says, so kids get immunized for polio along with everything else; and sanitation should be upgraded so the polio virus can't contaminate drinking water.

But projects like those take even more time — and more resources — than the current barrage of polio immunization campaigns.

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

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Smoke and fire rise from the explosion of an Israeli strike over Gaza City on Tuesday (AP)

Israeli Bombing Ruins Gaza's Only Power Plant

by Alan Greenblatt
Jul 29, 2014 (WXPN-FM)

See this

Security officials attend the funeral of police officials killed by bombs in Jamrud, Pakistan, March 1. The men were escorting a team of polio vaccinators when their vehicles were targeted. Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.

Hear this

Launch in player

Share this


Israel broadened its assault on Gaza on Tuesday, wrecking the region's only power plant and killing more than 125 Palestinians.

Barrages "destroyed Hamas's media offices, the home of a top leader and what Palestinians said was a devastating hit on the only electricity plant," The New York Times reports.

The bombings came on a day when hope briefly arose about a new cease-fire. Both Israeli and Palestinian officials in the West Bank discussed the possibility.

But Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, rejected the idea.

"We don't accept any condition of cease-fire," Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said on Hamas broadcast outlets. "There is no cease-fire without the stop of the aggression and the end of the siege."

With Tuesday's bombings, which the Guardian described as "the most relentless and widespread" of the three-week-old conflict, the Palestinian death toll has exceeded 1,200.

The shelling of the power plant, which Palestinian officials described as taking a devastating hit, will bring additional hardship. The lack of electricity will make existing problems with water and sewage far worse.

"We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room," Fathi Sheik Khalil of the Gaza energy authority told the Guardian. "Everything was burned."

On All Things Considered, NPR's Emily Harris described how one family in Gaza spent the Muslim holiday of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Some family members have been killed, others injured and nearly all displaced. "There are 53 people staying in this three-bedroom apartment," Harris reported, "including, the mothers say, at least eight infants."

On the diplomatic front, there was disagreement between the U.S. and Israel about what had been said in private conversations among top officials.

The White House dismissed as "totally false" a report on Israel's Channel 1 that President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a telephone call Sunday that Israel must immediately end its military offensive in Gaza and was not in a position to choose which countries could mediate a cease-fire.

"We have seen reports of an alleged POTUS-Netanyahu transcript; neither reports nor alleged transcript bear any resemblance to reality," tweeted the National Security Council's press account.

For their part, Netanyahu's aides denied Secretary of State John Kerry's characterization of one of his many conversations with the Israeli prime minister. Kerry suggested Tuesday that Netanyahu had asked him to "try to get a humanitarian cease-fire," but the prime minister's staff said that the cease-fire idea was actually Kerry's.

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

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
The National Labor Relations Board says McDonald's shares responsibility for how workers are treated at its franchised restaurants. (AP)

McDonald's Responsible For Treatment Of Workers, Agency Says

by Alan Greenblatt
Jul 29, 2014 (WXPN-FM)

See this

The Golden Arches logo goes up at a McDonald's restaurant in Robinson Township, Pa., in January Dr. Raza Jamal, of the National Institute of Child Health in Karachi, supports polio eradication. But, he says, the vaccination campaigns have taken away precious health resources.

Hear this

Launch in player

Share this


McDonald's shares responsibility for how workers are treated at its franchised restaurants, the general counsel's office for the National Labor Relations Board announced Tuesday.

Since November 2012, NLRB has had 181 cases filed involving McDonald's. Many have been dismissed, but the agency said that McDonald's USA LLC will be considered a joint employer in cases that are found to have merit.

Restaurant chains have fought such a designation. McDonald's intends to contest the ruling, which the company warned could have a broad impact beyond the restaurant business.

Its 3,000 franchisees set the terms of employment, such as wages and hours, Heather Smedstad, McDonald's senior vice president for human resources, said in a statement.

"McDonald's also believes that this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law," she said.

Labor advocates say that it's clear who's really the boss, arguing that the company holds enormous sway over the business operations of its franchise owners.

"The reality is that McDonald's requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there's no doubt who's really in charge," said Micah Wissinger, a New York attorney who represents McDonald's workers.

Labor organizers have been organizing protests about working conditions at fast-food restaurants and seeking an increase in the minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour.

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

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

Visitor comments

on:

NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.