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Concussion Study to Focus on Youth Hockey Players

Youth hockey leagues in New York City and Pelham, NY, expand their concussion programs and a new NYU study aims to learn more about head injuries and young athletes. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Youth hockey leagues in New York City and Pelham, NY, expand their concussion programs and a new NYU study aims to learn more about head injuries and young athletes. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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HOST INTRO: As concern about head injuries grows, youth hockey leagues around the country have started screening athletes and keeping track of concussions. A new study hopes to learn more about what happens to kids right after they hit their heads. Madeleine Cummings reports.

The NYC Cyclones is one of many youth hockey leagues trying to be proactive about diagnosing concussions.

SOUND: whistle blowing

At a recent game at Chelsea Piers, Mitchell Secora watched from the sidelines as his son scrambled for the puck.

SOUND: skates on ice

The occasional body check had players barreling into the boards.

SOUND: boards being hit

It’s a dangerous sport. Secora’s 13-year-old son, Henry, first got a concussion after a larger kid fell on him at hockey camp. Still, as a parent, he’s not too worried about the small bang ups.

MITCHELL SECORA: the little ones don’t bother me. We’ll keep him off the ice for a week, sometimes two. Other than that I’m not too worried. But if a doctor ever came to me and said he had to stop. He’d stop, it’d be that simple.

Team manager Chris White helps run the league’s concussion program. They’ve expanded it this year, beyond just baseline testing. They’re educating coaches. And enforcing a mandatory concussions course. White says they also brought a doctor to speak to the coaches about symptoms.

CHRIS WHITE: We’re really trying to raise awareness because they’re the first line of defense. They’ve gotta look at the kid and decide whether or not the kid can go out again.

An hour north of New York City, a group of hockey parents met at the Pelham Picture House last month to watch a documentary on concussions and college age football players.

NYU researchers were on hand to explain whether the football data relates to hockey players.

SOUND: And that’s why we’re here, to try to get the answers, for the NFL… (audible groans/laughter) … that’s the truth.

Arlene Silverio organized the event. She’s the [self-appointed] head of the Pelham Youth Hockey Association’s Concussion program. She noticed last season that among the league’s 50 players, 10 had concussions. So she started reading more about concussion rates among young athletes. But she found very little, because most concussion studies are done with college or professional teams.

SILVERIO: “It’s coming from the collegiate, it’s coming from the professional athletes. That data, the research that they’re finding is being extrapolated to children, where really it is not applicable.”

She reached out to NYU, wanting to know if they’d study her league.

NYU agreed to include them in a current study, which includes two college level teams. It has two parts. First, kids were tested a few weeks before the season began. Then, if players suffer concussions on the ice, they will be tested again, on the sidelines, right after it happens.

Laura Balcer is one of the neurologists leading the study.

LAURA BALCER: we’re very hopeful that combining all of these studies together will give us a lot of important information about studying and working on concussion in youth athletes.

13-year-old Jonah Kraftowitz, who plays forward for Pelham, got first concussion playing hockey, just over a month ago.

KRAFTOWITZ: “I had blurred vision, my head was searing pain…”

After some sideline tests and a trip to the hospital, he was officially diagnosed with a concussion. He then went back to the NYU doctors to do a series of follow up tests.

KRAFTOWITZ: “Memory tests.. number tests.. rating numbers. And having to remember words, and balance.”

Since Jonah had done a baseline test months ago, the researchers could compare his test results from before and after the concussion. Jonah’s mother, Amy Dunkin says she’s happy to see more research being done on the issue.

AMY DUNKIN: “I think it’s great that they’re doing it in youth sports because there’s so much they don’t understand and you know with their brains developing… still! The rules have to be different for kids as for adults.

Jonah says he’s not giving up hockey.

KRAFTOWITZ: It scares me but it doesn’t change the way I play. I hope I don’t get another concussion, but I’m not really scared.

The study could shed new light on whether early concussions are something youth leagues should be worrying more about.

Madeleine Cummings, Columbia Radio News.

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To Mars And Back? Probably Not.

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INTRO: If you had the chance to go to Mars, would you do it even if you could never come back? The Dutch non-profit Mars One plans to fly four astronauts to the Red Planet in 2023 to start a permanent human settlement. And you don’t have to be a trained scientist to go. Already thousands of people have submitted videos saying why they deserve a one-way ticket. Here’s what they’re saying:

VIDEO: I have been dreaming of a moment like this my entire life.

I would like to go to Mars…

I would like to go to Mars…

…because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

…because I like adventure

I want to go to another planet.

That’s the cowboy side in me.

There’s no doubt- the crew that’s chosen will live and die together on Mars. I spoke with Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor of the Planetary Society. She explained why when you go to Mars, you stay there.

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Debris Impedes Post-Sandy Recovery Along Jamaica Bay

Debris Impedes Post-Sandy Recovery Along Jamaica Bay

Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society looks out over Jamaica Bay six months after Hurricane Sandy hit, May. 2013 (Katherine Jacobsen/Uptown Radio)

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HOST INTRO:

When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the shore of Long Island, it devastated humans as well as ecosystems along the Northeastern seaboard.  Six months later, Katherine Jacobsen went to Jamaica Bay to see how one of these ecosystems is recovering.

__

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is made up of a sprinkling of islands, tucked behind the Rockaways in the Jamaica Bay. When Sandy hit, the storm surge sent water over the low-lying islands dismantling houses, docks and sand dunes.

Lincoln Hallowell is a park ranger at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. He says that he and his colleagues still aren’t sure what effect Sandy will have on the area’s wildlife.

Lincoln Hallowell:

It’s, it’s a different place. 

He stands in his office and points to a map that shows the area before the storm.

Lincoln Hallowell:

You can see… it looks like there should be something there, and up until Oct. 29, there was something there.

That something was a freshwater pond that was an important stopover for migratory birds and a walking path.

Lincoln Hallowell:

In just a matter of a few hours during the storm, that disappeared. 

But even though the freshwater pond and the sand dunes that kept it in place were washed away by the storm, environmentalists say that the wildlife in the area has been surprisingly resilient.  But they also say the sand dunes need to be rebuilt.

Arthur Lerner-Lam is a seismologist from Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Arthur Lerner-Lam:

So, Jamaica Bay was almost a buffer for some of the populated areas inland. What do we learn from that? We learn that nature in some way can be used to protect the places where people live.   

The sand dunes at Jamaica Bay acted as natural shock absorbers.  Sand dunes are known as soft infrastructure.  That’s as opposed to hard infrastructure, like storm walls.  The walls can send the waves bouncing back into the ocean.  Lerner-Lam says, in a small inlet area, this means that the waves could hit each other, amplify and then crash into the hard structure again.

But Lerner-Lam says the dunes won’t survive a storm without the grasses that grow on top of the dunes.

Arthur Lerner-Lam:

Well, any vegetation, such as marsh grasses will actually hold the sanddunes in place, or at least the top layer in place.

In other words, the sand grasses keep the dunes from washing away.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is attempting to rebuild the dunes around Jamaica Bay in part with money allocated by Congress after the storm.  But the problem is, to restore all of these sand dunes, someone has to remove the junk that Sandy left on top of them.

Gerry Tiss is off the south shore of Long Island on a Saturday morning.

Gerry Tiss:

The orange and blue stuff is people’s docks that were blown apart. 

Tiss stands on his 4ft by 12ft skype blue wooden motor boat and points to a nearby sand dune.

Gerry Tiss:

It looks like a roof from that bayhouse that came from who knows where…

There’s no way that Tiss’s boat stands a chance of picking up the debris. And so he does what he can and scoops up pieces of washed up two-by-fours, plastic bags and the like.

The issues are similar, if not as bad, at Jamaica Bay.

Don Riepe is with the environmental watchdog group, the American Littoral Society.

Don Riepe:

You know, some of the pieces were too big, they have to be cut up… so you can see some of the debris left over by the storm.

Riepe and others say it’s the park service’s’ responsibility to move the trash   But Ranger Lincoln Hallowell says the Park Service has its own issues.

Lincoln Hallowell:

Part of the problem is, we lost a lot of equipment during the storm that hasn’t been replaced yet.  

Hallowell says even if the park service had the equipment, it wouldn’t be easy to remove the debris without disturbing the wildlife.

Lincoln Hallowell:

A lot of areas are environmentally sensitive so you don’t want to get a lot of areas with heavy equipment through there.  

Environmentalists hope the debris can be removed and dunes can be rebuilt before the hurricane season starts on June 1st.

Katherine Jacobsen, Columbia Radio News.

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Buzz, Buzz…Where Did All These Cicadas Come From?!

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HOST INTRO: Here comes the buzz. After 17 years in a slumber, hundreds of millions of cicadas are finally emerging across the Mid-Atlantic. Gene Kritsky is a professor of biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio. He says to look out for them under your feet.

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New Bill Protects Genetically Modified Food Companies From Lawsuits

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HOST INTRO

President Obama signed a continuing spending bill this week. One of the provisions protects companies that produce genetically modified seeds from being sued, even if they become a public health risk in the future. Amber Binion reports.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are plants that have been altered genetically to resist herbicides and pests. They also can be fortified to include nutrients like iron and vitamin A. It produces more sustainable food with fewer resources. More resistant plants allow farmers’ to do less work and harvest more crops. Alan McHughen, a plant biotechnologist at the University of California, Riverside. He says the law is designed to let big and small biotech companies recoup their investments. He is explains why the provision is beneficial.

ALAN MCHUGHEN

Farmers are business people. They have to make business decisions about what kind of crops they’re going to grow. And one of the factors that come into that decision making process is whether the seeds they buy will produce a harvest of seeds they can sell. There’s some anxiety in the farming community that lawsuits against certain crop varieties may interfere with their ability to harvest and sell the crop.

Supporters call it the Farmers Assurance Provision. It bars the federal court from stopping the sale of genetically modified crops and allows agriculture companies to sell what they’ve made. The most common GMOs on American farms are corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola. In other words, these are the most profitable crops. That means there’s a lot of money at stake. Opponents say it’s large companies that are more likely to benefit from the law, specifically bio-tech giant Monsanto. At a farmers market on the Upper Westside, anti-GMO advocates call it the Monsanto Protection Act.

MARGARET HOUGHMAN

Why should the largest company, food-processing company, in the world be protected by the government? The small farmers and the individuals need to be protected by the government.

Houghman is the regional coordinator for Greenmarket in northern Manhattan. She sells locally grown and GMO-free vegetables. She thinks there isn’t enough scientific research on the long-term effects of genetically modified food.

 MARGARET HOUGHMAN

Well, we just don’t know. It might not be anything real serious. It might be something that shows up in a generation maybe, 2 generations. We just don’t know. And the potential for it to get out of control is huge.

Michael Lapone, a farmer’s market vendor for Hawthorne Valley Farm is just plain uncomfortable with the idea of GMOs.

MICHAEL LAPONE

Children should not play with fire. And playing with genetic engineering is playing with fire and they don’t know the outcomes. They haven’t done the research.

But they have done the research says the plant biotechnologist, Alan McHughen

ALAN MCHUGHEN

Some people who don’t have any scientific background are suggesting that there are harms. But the US National Academy of Sciences has conducted numerous safety tests on these genetically modified crops and foods over the years and every time they say there are just as safe as conventionally produced foods and crops.

One thing both anti-GMO and pro-GMO advocates can agree on is the proper labeling of food products. McHughen says all foods need to have labels based on their content, for nutritional reasons. Food advocate groups are now petitioning for the government to label genetically modified food for consumers. Amber Binion, Columbia Radio News.

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U.S. Food Aid Has New Starting Point

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The Obama administration plans to change the way the United States sends food aid internationally. Instead of buying food from U.S. farmers and shipping it overseas, the administration says it will be more efficient to buy and distribute food grown locally in the countries that need it. Those lobbying against the change say this will hurt U.S. farmers. Gawain Kripke is the director of policy and research for Oxfam. He says the the bill brings a necessary change.

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Lost? Swipe Your Way to Your Destination

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HOST INTRO

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is going digital. A new, touch screen, interactive subway map has started appearing in some of the busiest subway stations. Katherine Jacobsen reports.

REPORTER

The first of these two maps appeared at Grand Central Terminal and the Bedford Park stop in Brooklyn.  At Grand Central, the well-lit, 47-inch computer screen sits on a corner across from a clothing chain and a cluster of MTA ticket kiosks.  It looks like a giant smartphone screen with the weather and time displayed on the header of a larger screen.

Dwight Olson stops to check the Metro North schedule to New Haven.

DWIGHT OLSON

I hope that this terminal here is going to be helpful and it looks like it is, now that I’ve pressed the Metro North button.

Olson touches the Metro North from a menu at the bottom of the computer screen.  He scrolls through the menu options at the bottom of the screen, looking for his schedule.  Destination options appear and then with a few clicks, Olson has a timetable for his mid-morning trip.

DWIGHT OLSON

Looks like I can tell what I want to get on and when it’s gonna go, I just hope that we can get tickets by then.

A few minutes after Olson leaves, and Joel Thomas walks past the giant computer screen and does a double take.  It’s the first time that Thomas has seen one of these new, 15,000 dollar touch screen maps.

JOEL THOMAS

I was actually looking for the bathroom to be honest with you.  But uh, it’s pretty convenient… I can see the train I need to catch right here.

And did you also find a map of the station as well?

Ah, honestly, I didn’t do the map yet. I just saw the time departing and I think it works pretty good.

But some of the regular commuters don’t need the new screen.

PAUL KIPELI

Everytime I come to it, it’s showing me a useless map or something I don’t need.  I simply want it to display what it used to display.

Paul Kipelli points to the kiosk, now lit up with a giant subway map where there used to be a train schedule.

PAUL KIPELI

Look what is has, do you need that map?  I don’t.

Kipeli then goes running off, briefcase in hand.  He’s late for his train.

The new map may have the biggest impact on MTA employees like Audrey Gordon.  Her job is to give directions at the terminal.

AUDREY GORDON

Yes, you need something?

We just wanted to check something…

What would you like to check?

Gordon doesn’t feel threatened by the new touch screen maps.  She still has one up on them, she says.  Even though the maps might be getting bigger, it doesn’t mean that they’re smarter than her.

AUDREY GORDON

The map is only as good as the information that is programmed in it.  I go way beyond that.

Police Officer Chris Jones is on duty right across from the new kiosk.  He hasn’t seen a lot of people using it, he says.

OFFICER JONES

They’re futuristic, they look like they could be helpful, but I see ppl more likely asking other ppl for help, officers, stuff like that.

Do you get asked a lot for help when ppl need to find the bathroom or something?  Every two minutes.

The MTA will add another 77 interactive maps in an additional 16 stations.

Katherine Jacobsen, Columbia Radio News.

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Wanted: Space Telescope to Hunt For Asteroids

Wanted: Space Telescope to Hunt For Asteroids

CEO Ed Lu of B612 Foundation holds a model of the Sentinel telescope, now under construction, June 28, 2012. B612 aspires to launch the first privately-funded deep space mission with this telescope. It would map 90 percent of so called “city killer” near Earth asteroids. (Paul Sakuma/AP)

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HOST INTRO:

In February, a 60-foot wide asteroid exploded over the Russian town of Chelyabinsk. Scientists and astronomers are calling for a space telescope that would look out for other dangerous asteroids before they crash to Earth. But it won’t be cheap. Alexandra Hall reports.

ALEXANDRA HALL: Nobody saw it coming until it was too late.

CUE AMBI (sound of asteroid explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia in February)

HALL: The meteor’s blast shattered windows and caused 1,000 injuries. The explosion released energy equivalent to 300,000 tons of TNT. That’s 20 times the force of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Even though no one died from the explosion in February, the Earth’s history is a warning that the next time could be worse.

An icy meteoroid that hit Siberia in 1908 flattened an expanse of forest the size of the San Francisco bay area.  Its explosion was 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Even larger asteroids could wipe out all life on the planet.

For two years now, NASA’s near Earth object program has tracked nearly all asteroids at least one kilometer in diameter that could end civilization. These big, bright asteroids are easy to detect with Earth bound telescopes. In 2005, congress ordered NASA to track 90% of objects smaller than one kilometer, but larger than 140 meters in diameter. On the low end that’s a rock the width of about one and a half football fields. Still- they’re difficult to see from telescopes on Earth.

As of now, out of the tens of thousands of objects that could wipe out a large city, NASA has only detected 10%. Ed Lu is a veteran NASA astronaut and CEO of the privately funded non-profit B612 Foundation. Last month He told a senate subcommittee that the odds aren’t in planet Earth’s favor.

ED LU: “There’s a thirty percent chance that there’s a five megaton or so impact that’s going to happen in a random location on this planet, this century. So this is not hypothetical.”

HALL: B612 Foundation is a privately funded non-profit that wants to launch an infrared telescope into space that would look out for these so-called “city killers”. Founders named B612 after the house-sized asteroid in the children’s book, The Little Prince. The foundation’s Sentinel telescope would look outwards across the Solar System with its back to the sun, and scan for objects that could slam into the Earth. Tim Spahr is Director of the Minor Planet Center- the organization that professional and amateur astronomers alert with observational data on near Earth asteroids. He says that only space-based infrared telescopes will be able to spot dangerous objects.

TIM SPAHR: “For the smallest objects, quite often there will be no warning for them unless we have an extremely expensive, sophisticated telescope system.”

HALL: NASA has been working on this, too, but funds are low.  A team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has proposed the NEOCam mission- another infrared telescope that like B612’s Sentinel, would map 90% of the so-called “city killer” asteroids. These missions are essentially the same, except that NEOCam would revolve in an orbit closer to the Earth and would rely on government funding. But that funding hasn’t materialized.

RUSTY SCHWEICKART: “NASA has many, many other priorities that they have to satisfy. And that’s part of the problem.”

HALL: Rusty Schweickart (shwike-art) is Chairman emeritus of B612 and is a former astronaut on the 1969 Apollo 9 mission. Although NASA’s near Earth object budget has increased five-fold since 2009- from 4 million, to 20 million dollars, he says that an infrared telescope will cost billions. So B612 decided to act on its own.

SCHWEICKART: “Rather than it being an iffy situation, we have just decided to go ahead and do it. 20 million dollars is less than one tenth of one percent of NASA’s budget. It is not a major program in NASA by any means.”

HALL: NASA has already made an agreement to provide communications, personnel, and data processing to B612. But not everyone in Washington is ready to leave the project to the foundation science. Texas Republican Lamar Smith is Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. At a hearing last month, he urged his colleagues to make it work for NASA, despite the budget sequester

LAMAR SMITH: “I do not believe that NASA is somehow going to defy budget gravity and get an increase when everyone else is getting cuts. But we need to find a way to prioritize NASA’s projects and squeeze as much productivity as we can out of the funds we have.”

HALL: Detecting an incoming asteroid is only the first step. In the event that Sentinel or NEOCam did detect a near Earth object on a path to crash into the Earth, scientists say they would need a good 10-year lead to be able to deflect it. And that project would cost billions more. Alexandra Hall, Columbia Radio News.

(TIME 4:40)

 

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To Frack or Not to Frack, That Is the Question for Cuomo

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HOST INTRO: On Wednesday, the New York state assembly passed a bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking in New York for two more years. This increases the pressure on NY Governor Andrew Cuomo who is due to make a decision on the controversial method of natural gas extraction soon. Alexandra Hall reports.

Fracking involves injecting thousands of gallons of water laced with sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressures. That fractures shale rock and releases natural gas. Gas companies have been using this method to extract natural gas in North Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. But in 2008, then NY Governor David Paterson issued moratorium on the practice. Proponents are enthusiastic about the revenue and energy it would generate. But opponents fear that the chemicals used in fracking could spill or contaminate nearby drinking water supplies.

Last month, the New York Health Commissioner announced that he would make a recommendation in a few weeks. After he had consulted studies, which evaluate the health histories of people who live near fracking wells. Cuomo will base his decision on the commissioner’s recommendation.

Steven Cohen is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He says whatever the governor’s decision is, it won’t please everyone.

COHEN ACT: If he doesn’t lift the moratorium, then all of the people who are looking for all of the economic benefits of this gas will be very disappointed and he’ll be hearing it from the business community and the editorial pages of the New York Post.

Cuomo has stated that he’ll let the science, not emotions guide his decision. But the science is disputed. John Krohn is a representative of Energy in Depth, the public relations organization of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He says there’s no reason to worry that companies wouldn’t be able to prevent fracking fluid from flowing into rivers and streams.

KROHN ACT: MISGUIDED THINKING
This idea that flowback fluid management, which has existed in this country for over a hundred years, is misunderstood or is a weak link in the natural gas development system that can cause public health impacts, I think is misguided.

Steven Cohen at the Earth Institute disagrees.

COHEN ACT: I think the industry believes that all these issues have been settled. But the science I think hasn’t been comprehensive and complete enough and in enough locations. So the scientists I talk to say, there probably is no real problem, but we have no evidence of that.

Research won’t be the only thing that guides this decision. John Williams is a Hydrologist from the US Geological Survey. Even more than the potential for environmental contamination, he expects public opinion to play a role.

WILLIAMS ACT: I think New York state is 50/50 on the whole issue. So it’s gonna be science, but it’s hard to ignore the economics and it’s hard to ignore the politics as well.

A Siena College poll CONFIRMS that New Yorkers are split evenly on the issue. Meanwhile, gas companies offer six figure checks for the right to drill on land in other states. So in areas of NYS where fracking could take place, bitter disputes have errupted.

PRESTIDGE ACT: There are people who have cut off talking to each other because of this issue.

Acadia Prestidge is an organic farmer in the Sullivan County town of Calicoon. She says that signs of the fracking dispute- literally- are everywhere.

PRESTIDGE ACT- Everybody has road signs now that are either anti-fracking or pro-fracking. Like there’s road signs that say, ‘Friends of natural gas.’ And then there are signs that say, ‘Drilling isn’t safe.

Cuomo is expected to make his decision shortly after he receives a recommendation from the state health commissioner.

Alexandra Hall, Columbia Radio News.

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From Star Trek to SoHo: 3-D Printing Arrives

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Host Intro: (00:23)
Three-D printing technology can create scale models from any digital design.  This technology used to be reserved for big businesses and would cost upwards of 2,000 dollars.  But several start-up companies have began mass producing 3D printers in New York.  They’ve cut costs to as low as 500 dollars per unit. Katherine Jacobsen reports on what may be the next must-have technology.

________
AMBI OF FACTORY [dim after 2 seconds]

Remember in Star Trek, there were those machines you could order to make you something and it would just magically appear?

Jean Luc Picard would walk up to the computer and say “tea earl grey, hot” and out would come a cup of tea.

That’s Sam Cervantes– the CEO of Solidoodle– which manufactures 3D printers. He says a 3D printer can’t make you a cup of tea, yet.  Cervantes is showing off his company’s latest contraption– it’s about the size of a regular laser printer, but boxy with a steel frame.  And, he says, it’s not hard to use.

There is design software, think Microsoft Word– but instead of typing letters, you create or choose a 3D model and load it into your printer.

Basically, imagine a computer controlled hot glue gun drilling apart layer by layer in 3 dimensions, it’s really cool.

Instead of ink, a spool of plastic filament, that looks like the stuff you put in your weedwacker feeds into a brass nozzle.

So the print head is going to heat up about 400 degrees Fahrenheit about the temp of your oven and its got a small motor here, and this is going to drive the filament the plastic filament into the hot nozzle and onto the build platform.

AMBI PRINTER NOZZLE MOVING [2 seconds then fade back to factory noise]

The hot plastic cools on contact as the print head zips back and forth. [bring up hum]  And layer by layer, your design comes to life.  A mini-dinosaur, boat, or even a plastic replica of your child’s face– nearly anything’s possible–as long as it’s plastic.

So this squirrel that fits in the palm of my hand, it took about an hour to print.

Cervantes says he’s also using the printers to make intricate mechanical parts.

The printers are actually creating plastic parts to be used in the assembly of other printers– so we have printers making printer, really cool!

___
[no: we have no reason to start outside the store. use only inside store sound]AMBI STREET NOISE OUTSIDE MAKERBOTS [FADE TO THE INSIDE OF STORE SOUND]

Makerbots in SoHo is one of the few places in New York where you can play around with a 3D printer, and see what its creations.

[no: just leave it under. Don’t create a 2 sec space. it will sound like a pause.] AMBI [RAISE INSIDE OF STORE SOUND FOR 2 SECONDS]

Store manager Bethany Austen shows me a replica of Stonehenge, chess pieces and a container in the shape of a giant cupcake.  Austen says the most popular item in the store seems to be the most personal — custom plastic face replicas.

This is our 3D photo booth, you essentially go into a photobooth and have your picture taken three times, and then our system renders it into a three d file.

From the pictures, the computer makes a model of your head– the model gets plugged into the computer and within one to two weeks, you can get a detailed fist-sized reproduction of your face.

AMBI [RAISE STORE NOISE FOR A FEW SECONDS “you can create a model... audible, then fade store noise].

That’s why Kristin came all the way from Maine with her daughter.  They really wanted to use the face photo booth and printer.

We made a special trip– so what do you plan on doing with your daughters head, i guess after it’s…. laughter, i guess it’s kind of like taking a portrait, or having a bronze cast of your child…

[fade out store ambi. leave a beat of silence]___

Techie Sam Werzel was an early adopter. He bought his own 3D printer online more than a year ago.   It cost about 2000 dollars.  Werzel put it together piece by piece.
I assembled it… it took about a week everyday after work.

When it was done, Werzel said he had fun making intricate plastic puzzles.  He found the models online.  But he got tired of making things out of plastic, so he sold it on Ebay about a month ago.  He still believes in the technology, however.
If I could get a metal, table top, 3d printer, I would be really excited and I’m waiting for that day.
And how does Werzel see current 3D printers being used?
So you can imagine the sex toy industry getting into 3D printing or building uh, customizable what have you.
Let’s not go there. Let’s agree the 3D printer will continue to evolve, and that it holds great potential for  innovation
For Columbia Radio News, I’m Katherine Jacobsen


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This Is Your Seafood On Drugs

Listen to the full piece: 

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Intro:
Traces of pharmaceuticals in waterways may change the behavior of fish. That’s the
conclusion Swedish scientists reached in a recent study. But scientists admit they
don’t know a whole lot more than that. Amber Binion reports.

It’s more than just fish that act funny. The Swedish study, published in Science
Magazine in February, found that the perch exposed to the anxiety drug, Oxazepam,
no longer stick with their school. Instead, they venture out by themselves. The
scientists speculate that the fish are braver because the drugs make them calmer.
Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey says that could
lead to a shift in the ecosystem.

ACT: Those kind of behavioral effects, even though they’re subtle, they
ultimately could have consequences to the organism’s ability to reproduce
and maintain their population levels.

Drugs enter waterways when medicines go undigested by humans or leftover
drugs are flushed down the toilet. Scientists have been studying pharmaceuticals
in waterways since the 1970s. A few years ago researchers from the US Geological
survey sampled streams near sewage plants that flow into the Hudson River for
pharmaceutical compounds. They found that concentrations, which included
painkillers like methadone and oxycodone, were less than 1 microgram per liter.
Doesn’t sound too dangerous, right? But USGS’s Dana Kolpin says researchers don’t
know the long-term effects of low-level exposure to these medicines for fish or any
other thing.

ACT: The real unknown is there human consequences. If we’re drinking
water with low-level of pharmaceuticals, is that something we need to be
concerned about or not?

Kolpin says there’s no good answer to that.

ACT: Certainly we should be aware. We still don’t know the consequences.
But I think we should put more research to see if there is more potential
human consequences.

But leading environmental groups haven’t been doing that research. Take
Riverkeeper, for example, which monitors the Hudson and other New York
waterways. Tracy Brown, their water quality advocate says for now the organization
is more concerned about other contaminants in water.

ACT: We have such a big problem already on our hands with dumping
untreated sewage. Because we haven’t seen evidence of acute impacts on our
wildlife, at this point its not one of our priorities.

Even if scientists concluded that there was a lot of contamination, Kolpin says it
would be difficult to keep it out.

ACT: There’s a lot of research looking into the various treatment
technologies to see which ones are better at moving certain compounds than
others. All these treatment technologies come with a cost. You’re talking
about multiple millions of dollars and when you do upgrade, they tend to be
more energy hungry.

For now, there is one a way to minimize to the problem. That’s to make sure people
dispose of drugs properly and not flush them down the toilet. In 2008, the New York
Department of Environmental Conservation began a campaign to accept unwanted
drugs in disposable bins at community pharmacies. But here in New York City,
it’s not so easy to find those bins. At a chain pharmacy on the upper west side of
Manhattan, employees weren’t even sure what they were.

ACT: Me: Excuse me do you have a drug disposal bin here?
Pharmacy Asst: No we don’t.
Me: Did you ever have one?
Pharmacy Asst. No.
Me: Do you know where I can find one?
Pharmacy Asst: Mmmm. No.

Instructions for safe disposal are posted in New York pharmacies. Dana Kolpin
of the USGS says the problem might be solved with greener and more degradable
pharmaceutical options. Amber Binion, Columbia Radio News.


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Online Gaming: A Violent Subculture

Teenagers playing Halo 3. (AP Photo/Marcus R. Donner)

One of the most popular genres of video games are first-person shooters, like the Halo and Call of Duty series.

Millions of players compete against each other in virtual warfare, online. Amidst the violence, an unusual sub-culture has emerged.

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HOST INTRO:

One of the most popular genres of video games are first-person shooters, war games such as the Halo and Call of Duty franchises. Thousands of players compete against each other in virtual combat online. Amidst the violence, an unusual sub-culture has developed. We sent Ben Bradford to the virtual field of battle, and he embedded in an elite unit, the Peen Kings.

In a high-rise office building in New York City, Russian special forces are raking machine gun fire at us. (Sounds of fire). I’m crouched behind a desk watching the Peen Kings return fire, holding a gun that I refuse to use—journalistic ethics and all that. One Russian goes down. (Soldier is hit). The Russians have a bomb, and the unit has to stop them from setting it off.

Reckless: There’s the bomb.

We go after it. (Search and Destroy music.) Two members of the team, called Reckless and Marksman, take off running, and I follow. Out the window and along the side of the building.

Reckless: Matt break the window for me. (Sound of a smoke grenade through the window.)

A bullet pulls down Reckless mid-stride and just like that he’s gone. (Shot.)

Reckless: Snipers! [Expletive].

Then, Marksman, too. Exposed and suddenly alone, I dash for cover, while the sole remaining Peen King, Mouth of War, protects me with sniper fire from inside the office building. He methodically takes down two of the enemy.

Reckless: You’ve got two left.

Then, I’m hit. (Shot and heartbeat.) I don’t know from where. Thankfully, Mouth finds my assailant before he finds me.

Mouth: …I got him.

The Russians have one man left. And then– (Shots)

Reckless: Oh! With the headshot!

None. The battle took only a minute. But the next round begins immediately, only this time we’re the Russians. (Search and Destroy music).

This is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a 2 and a half year old first person shooter. An average game lasts 10 minutes, then we’ll spend a minute in a lobby with the opposing team while another level loads.

Offline, the Peen Kings are friends from Malden, Massachusetts—Tony, 20 years old, his brother Matt and their friend Daniel—both 17. They’ve allowed me to follow them in the game, and ask questions. In-between bursts of fire, I asked how many games they’ve played.

(Over gunfire:)

Tony (Reckless): We get some in—we get like 10 in every day.

The game records that all three have spent between 50 and 100 days playing. But the friends spend far more time chatting and bantering than strategizing.

Daniel (Mouth of War): We’ve played more than 20 games today.
Tony: I haven’t no way.
Daniel: Yes we have!

Tony and Daniel say the camaraderie essential to their experience.

(Over gunfire:)

Tony: Yeah I mean it’s fun. I don’t really play shooting games by myself, I just like playing with my friends.
Daniel: Yeah I can’t play by myself.

University of Alabama Professor Matt Payne says these online games allow players to connect with friends or strangers, and work together. That’s their appeal.

Payne: The reason why gamers play together is not simply to win, but it’s so they can be with one another, so they can accomplish things together, so they can do things together that they couldn’t do apart.

Payne admires the exploration and teamwork first-person shooters encourage. But go online, and you’re certain to experience far less friendly communication. Like from this guy. He’s just finished a game, and he has some words for his opponents.

Daddy Oakes: You all know you suck, right? Nail sucks. Homebird really sucks. Bus Patrol, I know you could have done better, but—hey Homebird, [expletive] you.

Payne says the anonymity of the Internet plus the game’s competitiveness fosters taunts, gloating, and personal attacks.

Payne: You have all of these gamers who are there to dominate. Part of that domination escapes the gameplay round and it gets expressed and manifests through language.

They shoot you, then they make fun of you. In all kinds of creatively insulting ways. If your killer crouches up and down on your corpse—that’s called teabagging. It means they “pwned” you, another gamer word. Teabagging may be in good fun…but the most odious mannerism is the use of the n-word. You hear that word everywhere. Tony and Daniel don’t see a problem with it.

(Over gunfire:)

Tony: You could be [expletive] yellow, you could be purple, you’ll still be called a [expletive]. You could just be out of friggin, like the Klan, and you’ll still be called a [expletive].
Daniel: Yeah, it’s just a word, it’s what we call each other.

In the real world, it’s a forbidden word for most people. In the virtual world, it’s as common as hello or goodbye. But then again, in a virtual world where slaughter is routine, perhaps the word is not so remarkable. Psychologist Brad Bushman of Ohio State University sees a connection between what he calls two taboo behaviors.

Bushman: I think taboo behaviors are contagious. … And engaging in one taboo behavior greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll engage in other taboo behaviors.

Studies by Bushman and others suggest violent games also raise players’ aggression—though that does not mean people turn into killers.

Bushman: In first person shooter games you have the same visual perspective as the killer, so you see the world through the killer’s eyes. You’re the one who pulls the trigger.

Scott Rigby studies the psychology behind games. He disputes that the nature of the games causes negative behavior.

Rigby: I enjoy headshots as a gamer, and I’m also a guy who catches bugs and takes them outside because I don’t want to kill them, so how do you reconcile those two things?

Rigby sees the competition and teamwork required by shooters as a psychological positive. But, he agrees the realistic, graphic violence—exploding heads and bloody corpses—can be desensitizing. His solution is to tone down the blood and guts while leaving the gameplay intact.

Back in an Afghani scrapyard, I’m hiding out with the Peen Kings (gunfire and explosions) and ask Tony what he thinks. He considers while a grenade explodes.

Tony: That’s completely retarded. I’ve never in this game went around and shotgunned someone and said that’s really cool, you know what I’m going to go and shotgun someone in real life.

The Kings don’t spend a lot of time considering the issues of violence or language. For them. the game is their hobby, and they’re just online to compete together, and to hang out, talk about sports, friends, girls, and of course to make fun of each other. (Sounds of battle slowly overwhelmed by a falling nuclear missile.)

Tony: Obviously I didn’t mean that way you [expletive] idiot.

From deep inside the game, I’m Ben Bradford, Columbia Radio News.

Daniel: You’re an idiot because you don’t know how to put your words together.
Tony: You’re an idiot for confusing my words together.

(Explosion.)

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Erosion Threatens Exclusive East Hampton’s Beach

Strong storms this winter have taken their toll on East Hampton’s Georgica Beach, eroding it to roughly half its normal, summertime size.

Town officials say the remaining land is not big enough for the hundreds of beachgoers who normally flock there during the high season.

But the town is also concerned that cars and people will pour into East Hampton’s other beaches, which could make the luxurious community feel less comfortable and more crowded.

Russ Finkelstein has this report.

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Host Intro:

Georgica Beach is considered one of East Hampton’s most beautiful summer spots.

But this past year, strong storms took their toll on it, eroding the beach to roughly half it’s normal, summertime size.

Town officials say it’s currently not big enough to fit a life guard tower and the hundreds of beachgoers that normally flock there in the summer.

But the town is also concerned that cars and people will pour into East Hampton’s other beaches, which could make the luxurious community feel less comfortable and more crowded.

Russ Finkelstein has this report.

[Cue Beach Sounds]

Track:

From a sand-swept, coned off parking lot, East Hamptons Village Administrator Larry Cantwell overlooks the cracked dunes and exposed rocks at Georgica Beach.

The ocean breeze blows at his salt and pepper hair and mustache as he points out the 50 or so feet of sand sloping to the water’s edge.

Act. Larry Cantwell:

The beach today looks a lot better than it did a week ago.

Track:

But the parking lot where Cantwell is standing drops off about 5 feet to the beach like a miniature cliff, marking where the sea has eaten away at the bluff this past winter.

He says that he hasn’t seen erosion this bad at Georgica since the early 1970’s.

Act Cantwell:

The good news is, after that, the beach came back and you know, for 35 years it was one of the nicest beaches anywhere in the country. But we got hit with hurricane Irene, and we had severe erosion again.

Track:

Cantwell says the erosion of Georgica was caused by a combination of especially violent storms like Irene together with the ocean’s normal processes.

Act. Cantwell:

The dynamics of that are fairly complicated in terms of, you know, where the sandbars are, how much the wind blows, all dictates the erosion that occurs from time to time.

Track:

It’’s also natural processes that allow beaches to recover. Cantwell’s hoping Georgica will do just that before the summer gets going.

If it doesn’t, he’ll have to make the call to close the beach.

Cantwell says keeping people away won’t likely improve conditions.

But practically, Georgica is too small now to staff with a lifeguard.

You’d be able to go there, but swim at your own risk.

David Rattiner used to be a lifeguard at Georgica and is now the web editor of Dan’s Papers, a Hamptons weekly.

He says the regulars will still be here this summer, and you’ve probably heard of some of them.

David Act:

This is Steven Spielberg’s beach here, this is where he would go if he wanted to go to the beach. I’ve seen Russell Simmons do yoga right over there and you know, meditate in the morning.

Track:

But aside from celebrated film directors and hip-hop moguls, Georgica is typically frequented by families with small children.

As a lifeguard, Rattiner used to watch over them.

He feels so strongly about the beach, he wrote a musical about it.

Act: (Song from David’s musical)

Track:

This is the opening number to “Main Beach” which Rattiner says is largely autobiographical.

Welcome to summer in paradise, where the ocean air is oh so nice. It’s the beach where we want to be…

Cross fade to sound of Church belles Chiming

Track:

A couple of miles away on East Hampton’s Main Street, local businesses are preparing ahead of the summer season.

Painters are finishing the trim at the Starbucks and landscape crews tend to the shrubbery in front of the Polo Country Store, whose owner, Ralph Lauren, lives nearby.

(constructiony sounds, painting sounds)

Track:

Greg Turpan owns a high-end kitchen-ware store just off main street.

Act Turpan:

Anytime there’s erosion at a beach or anything that disturbs the incredible landscape that we have out here it’s of great concern.

Track:

Turpan says that’s because people come here for the ambiance.

If Georgica closes, crowds at the other beaches could make East Hampton a little less pleasant.

Act Turpan:

I mean, there’s room for everybody it’s just that, it’s been based on the number of beach passes issued, pretty luxurious, that you know even on the 4th of July weekend that you know, you can go to the beach and you’re not going to be stepping on someone else’s toes.

Track:

East Hampton Village parking passes are a big deal.

They allow residents and visitors to park at village beaches, including Georgica.

The’re free for residents but cost $325 for out-of-towners.

People who buy them are used to having ample parking and plenty of towel space, and one less beach would make a difference.

That’s why East Hamptons village administrator Larry Cantwell doesn’t take his job lightly.

Act. Cantwell:

Our full-time, seven day a week beach operation starts around the third week of June. So, we have time before we need to make that final decision.

Track:

But Cantwell has a contingency plan.

He says as a last resort the village could put a lifeguard at Wiborg Beach a few miles up the road.

But for this town, Georgica is a tradition.

So, Cantwell says East Hampton will wait to see if Georgica recovers.

Russ Finkelstein, Columbia Radio News.

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A New Plan to Keep Sewage Out of NYC Rivers

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HOST INTRO: Now we go to New York City’s waterways, where untreated overflow from the sewers is a major contributor of pollution. Heavy rainfall can overload the sewage treatment plants, and the untreated excess is rerouted into rivers. But a new survey of the soil in the five boroughs has information that could help remedy the situation. My co-host Rachel Rogers filed this report.
TIME: 0:16

Traditionally soil surveys are used by farmers deciding where and what to plant, or developers looking to avoid building in flood areas.The USDA has conducted a survey of New York City’s soil. It will allow the city to design projects to decrease that overload. Richard Shaw is a soil scientist with the USDA.

SHAW1
The idea is that if we could reduce the amount of stormwater going to the sewer system we could at least reduce the amount of these combined sewer overflows.
TIME 0:10

Early Thursday morning the skies opened up in a dramatic demonstration of the problem.

SOUND: Rain

The rainwater ran over the sidewalk, gathering into streams along the street gutters. and creating a mini waterfall into the sewer.

SOUND: Rain and draining

Two young women had to step into about three inches of water as they crossed the street.

SOUND: “Look at how much water there is, look at all the water going into there.”
TIME: 0:04

The torrent of rain pouring into the sewer opening at Broadway and 115th Street combines with wastewater. That includes whatever you pour down the sink, or flush down the toilet. The mix flows uptown to the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant at 137th Street along the Hudson River. There it’s treated to remove pollutants before being released into the rivers.

A heavier rain than Thursday’s would overwhelm North River’s 340 million gallon capacity, and the rain and untreated sewage would be dumped into the Hudson River. Each year the city discharges 27 billion gallons of the stormwater and wastewater.

Kyle Thomas is an independent engineer specializing in green stormwater management. The green means he tries to replicate methods found in nature. That’s why the soil survey is important.

THOMAS
Since green infrastructure has to do with mimicking natural processes, it’s very essential to know the characteristics of the soils you’re working with.
TIME: 0:13

The city will use the survey for green projects, so stormwater is rerouted to areas where it can drain through soil into the aquifer, instead of running down the street. These are called stormwater recharge projects.

THOMAS
You’re putting your water into some sort of landscaped depression that’s vegetated. It will infiltrate into the underlying ground water as well as be transpired by the plants.
TIME: 0:13

For the first time the USDA has examined characteristics of soil that people have altered, called fill, which covers large areas of the city, like Central Park. This is one reason that soil scientist Richard Shaw says the survey is helpful.

SHAW
Just in determining where’s the best site to fit any of these stormwater recharge projects, which areas might have a high water table and might be problematic.
TIME: 0:11

On his computer Shaw pulled up a photo of the soil profile from Inwood Hill Park, a portion of Manhattan handled by the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

SHAW
It’s a real nice fine sandy loam, um no coarse fragments, just real good like I said physical properties, good water holding capacity and a real good soil for plant growth.
TIME: 0:12

Only 27 percent of New York City is green space, mostly parks. The rest is covered with buildings, pavement, and asphalt, and the occasional street tree.

City officials estimate that by 2030, green management projects will reduce the combined sewage overflow by 1.5 billion gallons annually. That’s not much of a dent in the 27 billion gallons currently dumped each year, but the soil survey should help make the most of each project.

Rachel Rogers, Columbia Radio News.

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Space Shuttle Makes Appearance over New York City

The Enterprise space shuttle made an appearance over New York City on Friday. AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls

The Space Shuttle Enterprise took its last flight this morning, traveling from Dulles airport and over New York City to JFK Airport. In the coming weeks, it will make its way to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The end of NASA’s 30-year Space Shuttle program finds the United States’ outer-space ambitions in a state of flux.

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The New York Auto Show: Half Time in America?

Clint Eastwood had a clear message during February’s Superbowl commercials: “It’s halftime in America.”

And U.S. car sales support his declaration. They rose again last month, even amid high gas prices. This week, car manufacturers are showing off what those profits have earned them at the New York International Auto Show.

Host Andrew Parsons talked to Sonari Glinton, NPR’s business reporter in Detroit. He says this year’s auto shows have a different feel than they did three years ago.

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“Taxi of Tomorrow” Unveiled at Auto Show

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HOST: Another feature of the auto show was Nissan’s custom-designed New York yellow taxi cab, which will roll out next year.

Nissan is calling the boxy, snub-nosed vehicle the Taxi of the Future. The automaker landed a contract worth up to one billion dollars to replace all thirteen thousand of the city’s cabs.

But Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is backing a campaign targeting Nissan. That’s because it’s on a list of automakers doing business with or in Iran. Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports.

LLOPIS-JEPSEN: The campaign is called Iran Watch List and it’s a joint effort by de Blasio and two advocacy groups: United Against Nuclear Iran and Iran180.

In a statement, de Blasio said Nissan and 11 other carmakers indirectly support Iran’s military.

He says the city’s safety “depends on bringing every bit of pressure we can muster against Iran’s regime.”

Iran 180 director Chris Devito says it’s key to engage ordinary Americans on the issue of Iran — and carmakers are a way to do that.

DEVITO: Our effort isn’t to get the city to change its decision. It’s to get Nissan to change its relationship with Iran.

LLOPIS-JEPSEN: Nissan was not immediately available for comment.

But Devito says Nissan has ties to Pars Khodro, an Iranian carmaker he says is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The corps oversees domestic weapons production in Iran. It also arrests dissidents, including hundreds of pro-democracy activists.

Devito thinks New Yorkers will want to know all this.

DEVITO: They understand that money is fungible and that money that is going to Nissan for this in some sense contributes to the relationship they hold with the regime in Tehran.

LLOPIS-JEPSEN: The US and the United Nations currently have economic sanctions against Iran but many automakers do not fall under those restrictions.

That’s because the sanctions normally cover the finance and energy sectors, but not automobiles.

Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova is an Iran specialist at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. She is not sure that sanctions against carmakers would do any good.

MUKHATZHANOVA: Some people have this incentive maybe that hurting the government more and more would make people in Iran raise up and launch a revolution. Which I think is dangerous, wishful thinking.

LLOPIS-JEPSEN: It’s not clear how much or if Iranian carmaker Pars Khodro will benefit from Nissan’s New York City business.

But de Blasio says the point of Iran Watch List is to make sure that companies doing business in Iran feel pressure from customers to stop.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen, Columbia Radio News.

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Pulling All-Nighters Messes With Memory

Pulling an all-nighter before an exam… it’s a student tradition! But maybe it’s time to change your sleep pattern.

Researchers from Harvard, Notre Dame and UC Berkeley have found that sleeping after study lets your brain store fresh information.

This is the first confirmation that fact-based — or so called “declarative memory” doesn’t happen unless you catch a few z’s.

Jacqueline Guzman reports…

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