Nation & World News Nation & World News from WUFT, NPR and PBS Mon, 06 Jul 2015 07:03:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 U.S. Women Win World Cup Final 5-2, After Spectacular Start Mon, 06 Jul 2015 00:13:00 +0000 In the first five minutes, Carli Lloyd scored two swift goals. Lauren Holiday brought the score up to 3, and then Lloyd scored from midfield for a hat trick. The team led 4-0 after just 15 minutes.]]>

The U.S. team won the Women’s World Cup final 5-2 in a game that brought U.S. fans to their feet, reduced polished sportswriters to all-caps expressions of awe and rewrote FIFA records — and that’s just in the first half.

The game began in spectacular fashion: In the first five minutes, captain Carli Lloyd scored two swift goals — the fastest two goals in FIFA history, according to the FIFA Women’s World Cup twitter account.

Just a few minutes later, Lauren Holiday brought the score up to 3-0.

And then Lloyd did it again: she scored — from midfield — to raise the score to an astounding 4-0, just 15 minutes into the game. It was the first hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final and the fastest hat trick in any World Cup game.

And did we mention it was a strike from midfield?

The U.S. lead was definitive, but Japan hadn’t given up. They scored an elegant goal in the 27th minute, finally giving Japan fans something to cheer about.

As NPR’s Russell Lewis reported before the game, the U.S. team made it to the final thanks to some remarkable work on defense:

The U.S. has played six games in the World Cup and hasn’t given up a goal since its opener against Australia — a stunning scoreless streak of 513 minutes. Not surprisingly, the three nominees from the United States for FIFA’s ‘Golden Ball’ award play defense and midfield.

When that streak finally ended at 540 minutes, it tied Germany’s 2007 World Cup record. But while defense brought the U.S. women to the final, it was offense that was shining on the field.

In the second half, Julie Johnston scored an own goal that Hope Solo couldn’t block, bringing Japan’s score to 2. A few minutes later, Tobin Heath scored again for the U.S., bringing America back to another dominant lead: 5-2.

With 10 minutes remaining, star forward Abby Wambach came on the field. Lloyd passed her teammate the captain’s armband — giving Wambach the chance to wear it one last time. This was Wambach’s final World Cup game.

The American women held their 5-2 lead through game’s end.

They earned their trophy in a Canadian stadium packed with U.S. fans. The crowd booed FIFA officials when they came to the stands, reports NPR’s Melissa Block, who was in the stands — but they had nothing but cheers for the players. Japan’s players, after fighting hard all game, stoically applauded the victors as Team USA was showered by gold glitter.

The game was a rematch of the 2011 World Cup final, which Japan won in a dramatic penalty kick shoot-out. That game was tense: 1-1 at the end of regulation and 2-2 at the end of overtime, before Japan won the shootout 3-1.

That heartbreaking loss was driving the Americans as they headed into Sunday’s game. “It’s kind of been that thing that’s been within us, that fuels our fire, that motivates us,” Wambach said Friday.

And the U.S. women burned that fuel all the way to victory.

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Kerry: Iran Faces ‘Hard Choices’ To Reach Nuclear Deal With West Sun, 05 Jul 2015 20:23:16 +0000 Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is ready to walk away from the negotiating table if Tehran is unwilling to make the “hard choices” necessary to achieve a deal with the West on limiting its nuclear program.

However, Kerry also said that he and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, were making “genuine progress” on “several of the most difficult issues” that remain to be resolved.

“If hard choices get made in the next couple of days, made quickly, we could get an agreement this week, but if they are not made we will not,” he said outside a Vienna hotel where days of intense closed-door meetings involving Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries — the U.K., China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — have taken place.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that the time is now for Iran to decide whether it will do what is necessary to resolve outstanding issues.

“The principle question is to see whether Iran will accept to make clear commitments on what has not been clarified. We hope so,” Fabius said. “Everything still has to be clarified and France’s attitude will be the same as always — constructive firmness.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said what is required to reach a deal is “courage.”

Zarif said Friday that he was hopeful that a deal could be done “because I see [the] emergence of reason over illusion.”

“I sense that my negotiating partners have recognised that coercion and pressure never lead to lasting solutions but to more conflict and further hostility,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

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China Takes Steps To Halt Plunge In Stock Markets Sun, 05 Jul 2015 14:58:00 +0000 The main Shanghai stock index has dropped 30 percent since mid-June, triggering margin calls that have fueled further selling.]]>

China’s central bank will provide an injection of cash for the state-run margin finance company, as the country’s top brokerages pledge to go on a share-buying spree to prop up faltering markets that have lost a third of their value in less than a month.

Some analysts estimate the total margin-lending in the world’s second-largest economy is $645 billion. As The Guardian noted last week, the falling share prices have triggered margin calls. “Investors and policymakers are looking on with fear because if those margin calls continue, investors will have to offload other assets to come up with the cash they need,” the newspaper writes.

Although the People’s Bank of China — the country’s central bank — has lowered interest rates, that has done little to stanch the bleeding. The sudden sell-off, which started in mid-June, followed a seven-month period that saw Chinese share prices double.

So far, 69 Chinese mutual funds have said that they will invest to stabilize the stock market, according to Reuters.

The news agency writes that “almost $3 trillion in market value — more than the entire economic output of Brazil — has been wiped out since markets went into reverse last month, posing a bigger headache for many global investors than even the Greek debt crisis.” It notes that the 30 percent drop on the main Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index, or SHCOMP, was “especially worrying because the bull market had been built on a mountain of speculative loans.”

The Hong Kong-based daily South China Morning Post says it is “sparking a crisis of confidence among investors who now believe the downward spiral will last some time.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that:

“Senior officials from the State Council, China’s cabinet, the central bank, its top securities regulatory agency and other financial agencies held a meeting Saturday to discuss another round of measures to help arrest the stock slide, according to people with knowledge of the matter. …

“Chief among the decisions made is to halt new initial public offerings in a bid to preserve liquidity in an increasingly volatile market, the people said. Officials also discussed the setup of a market-stabilization fund.”

As NPR’s Frank Langfitt reported in 2013, the central bank has been keen to rein in rampant and risky lending, which is fueled largely by a real estate bubble and speculation in tech stocks.

Meanwhile, the country’s rate of economic growth, while still robust by Western standards, has fallen to its lowest pace in a quarter century.

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Russian Supply Capsule Successfully Docks With Space Station Sun, 05 Jul 2015 13:30:00 +0000 The Progress M-28M spacecraft delivered tons of food, water, oxygen, fuel and other supplies after previous attempts had ended in failure.]]>

The International Space Station has just received a much-needed delivery, including some groceries, aboard a Russian capsule that successfully docked after three previous attempts to resupply the orbiting laboratory had failed.

The unmanned Progress M-28M spacecraft, carrying 2.5 metric tons of fuel, oxygen, water, food and other supplies, linked up with the station two days after it launched aboard a Russian rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

It followed the last week’s launch failure by private U.S.-based SpaceX, whose Falcon 9 rocket broke up about eight minutes into its flight, and the loss in April of a Russian Progress spacecraft that could not dock with the station because of problems controlling the unmanned vehicle. In October last year, another attempt, by U.S.-based Orbital Sciences, also ended in failure.

The successful docking today is a relief for the crew, which includes American astronaut Scott Kelly, as another failure would have put a strain on “consumables” aboard the ISS, NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel says. Geoff reported Friday on the situation before the latest delivery:

“Normally water is carefully conserved by a sophisticated system that lets astronauts recycle things like urine. But the system depends on filters, and those filters are nearly full. Two sets of replacements were lost when the American rockets blew up. And NASA has run out of spares for now. So the astronauts will soon be depending on their water reserves.

“Food is that last essential. Right now the supply looks good, but Anderson says the crew may already be thinking about conserving what it has.”

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After Bailout Referendum Is Rejected, Greece’s Finance Minister Resigns Sun, 05 Jul 2015 12:37:00 +0000 By a decisive margin, the people rejected a package of austerity measures from international creditors and handed their leaders a mandate to try to renegotiate the deal.]]>

Updated at 2:30 a.m. ET Monday:

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has resigned. According to The Associated Press: Varoufakis was told shortly after the Greek referendum result that the some eurozone finance ministers and Greece’s other creditors would prefer he not attend the ministers’ meetings. He issued an announcement on Monday saying the prime minister had judged that his resignation “might help achieve a deal” and that he was leaving the finance ministry for this reason.

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET Sunday:

The Greek people have given their answer to international lenders, and the answer is no.

With all the votes counted, a convincing 61 percent to 39 percent margin was recorded in the referendum on a German-led bailout plan that includes tough austerity measures for Athens, in exchange for a continued line of credit to keep paying the government’s obligations. The answer: a resounding thumbs-down.

“Today we turned a page in Greek history,” Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras, who urged a no vote, said.

“We are ready to continue negotiating” a plan of reforms, he added.

“I will ask the president to convene a meeting of political leaders on Monday morning,” he said.

As the votes were still being counted, leaders of Germany and France called for a European Union summit to be held Tuesday to discuss Greek financial crisis.

Although Tsipras had campaigned for a no vote, it is now less clear whether Greece has any future in the eurozone. And Greek leaders face the difficult prospect of convincing its creditors to swap debt relief for more austerity, a move that the lenders have steadfastly rejected in the past.

Even the deal that was up for a vote — and turned down — is technically no longer on the table. A week ago, negotiators presented their last proposal as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition that expired when Athens missed a crucial payment last Tuesday on an International Monetary Fund loan.

“First of all we have to accept such a result,” Steinmeier told reporters, referring to the referendum vote as he arrived in Vienna to join the Iran nuclear talks. “Which (conclusions) are now to be drawn, this is a decision which first and foremost must be made in Greece and that’s why the ball is now in Athens’ court.”

Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, tweeted, “Now it is right to start trying for an agreement again.”

The Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank, said today that it would file a request with the European Central Bank to raise the amount of emergency funding for the country’s banks, with a spokesman telling Greek television that “there is no reason not to increase liquidity.”

As Reuters writes, the referendum was held “against a backdrop of default, shuttered banks and threats of financial apocalypse. … [It is] too close to call and looked certain to herald yet more turbulence whichever way it went.”

Opinion polls in the run-up to the vote have indicated the outcome in the referendum is likely to be very close — with younger Greeks, who suffer the highest rate of unemployment — more likely to vote no than the country’s older citizens.

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U.S. Women Head Into World Cup Final With Dominant Defense Sun, 05 Jul 2015 11:03:00 +0000 The U.S. hasn't given up a goal since its opener against Australia — a stunning scoreless streak of 513 minutes. Now the team meets Japan for a hotly anticipated rematch of the last World Cup final.]]>

It’s here. It’s today. It’s the game the United States Women’s National Soccer Team has dreamed about for four years. A return to the final of the World Cup.

And, oh by the way, the team that beat the U.S. in the last World Cup is the same one they’ll face today: Japan.

“For me, it’s a constant reminder. It’s been a constant reminder since July 17, 2011. It’s kind of been that thing that’s been within us, that fuels our fire, that motivates us,” said star forward Abby Wambach. “It’s always there and that’s what happens in heartbreak.”

As my colleague Shereen Marisol Meraji reported today for Weekend Edition:

In a press conference before the game, Wambach was passionate about how much this win means to her. She’s the world’s all-time leading goal scorer, has won two Olympic gold medals — but no World Cup title. This will be the last World Cup of her career and she wants to end the tournament a champion.

The Americans are playing with loads of confidence right now. Midfielder Carli Lloyd says she and her teammates are focused.

“This is the final. This is where you put everything on the line,” she says. “There is no holding back. There’s no reserving energy. It’s full-throttle and I’m really confident in the way we’re looking right now.”

The U.S. made it through the finals and to the championship match on the strength of its defense. The U.S. has played six games in the World Cup and hasn’t given up a goal since its opener against Australia — a stunning scoreless streak of 513 minutes. Not surprisingly, the three nominees from the United States for FIFA’s ‘Golden Ball’ award play defense and midfield.

The last time the United States won the World Cup was 16 years ago: 1999. This year’s team (and the others before it) has lived in the shadow of that victory in front of 90,000 people at the Rose Bowl.

If downtown Vancouver is any indication, it will be a pro-U.S. crowd today. This picturesque Canadian city has been taken over by a sea of red, white and blue.

Hotels are booked up. The stadium sold out long ago. Tickets are selling for five and six times face value. World Cup fever is in full effect. It’s Game Day!

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. EDT and will be televised on Fox and Telemundo.

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Matt Stonie Downs 62 Hot Dogs For Coney Island Title Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:18:00 +0000 The new champion, who came in second last year in the annual contest put on by Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, bested eight-time champ Joey "Jaws" Chestnut by two dogs on Saturday.]]>

Sixty-two dogs (and buns) after sitting down for the annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Matt Stonie had snatched the title from “Jaws” Chestnut, the reigning eight-time champ, in a competition held each July 4 for nearly a century at New York’s Coney Island.

Stonie finished second last year but says he’d been training hard for the rematch. Ultimately, he beat Chestnut by two hot dogs. Coincidentally, both men are from San Jose, Calif.

The Associated Press says: “Afterward, Stonie, holding his fist in the air in victory, said it felt amazing to win.”

In the women’s competition, Las Vegas native Miki Sudo ate 38 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes to retain the title she won last year.

The prize is a $10,000 check — and presumably a bad case of indigestion.

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Week After Beach Attack, Tunisia Declares State Of Emergency Sat, 04 Jul 2015 16:25:00 +0000 Beji Caid Essebsi's office says the president needs the expanded powers to deal with extremists following the attack in Sousse that killed 38 foreign tourists.]]>

More than a week after a deadly attack by an Islamic extremist at a Tunisian beachfront resort that killed 38 foreign tourists, the president of the North African country has declared a state of emergency.

President Beji Caid Essebsi’s office says in a statement that he needed the powers that come with the declaration to more effectively deal with the threat from extremists.

As Reuters writes: “Tunisia’s emergency law temporarily gives the government more executive flexibility, hands the army and police more authority, and restricts certain rights such as the right to public assembly.”

The declaration follows last week’s attack in which a lone gunman entered a resort at the Mediterranean coast town of Sousse and began systematically killing tourists, most of them British, but also some from Germany and Belgium. The assailant, who was killed by authorities, was later identified as 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui, an aviation student. The self-described Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

The statement from the president’s office said Essebsi would give a speech on national television with more details at 2 p.m. EDT.

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Lawrence Herkimer, The Father Of Modern Cheerleading, Dies At 89 Sat, 04 Jul 2015 14:36:00 +0000 Three cheers for Lawrence Herkimer, who did more than anyone to transform cheerleading into an art, a science and a multi-million dollar business.

He died of heart failure on Wednesday in Dallas at age 89, according to his family.

Herkimer, who was frequently referred to as the grandfather of modern cheerleading or simply “Mr. Cheerleader,” invented (and patented) the pompom. He came up with an iconic cheerleading leap, the “Herkie jump,” that remains a staple of cheering squads to this day. And, most importantly, his camps — the first opened in Huntsville, Texas, in 1948 — train tens of thousands of would-be cheerleaders a year.

In honor of Herkimer, cheerleaders and would-be cheerleaders have been lighting up social media with photos of themselves doing the “Herkie”:

According to American Profile, the famous leap was nothing more than a happy accident. “I threw my arm up in the air to try and get some height on my split jump,” Herkimer recalled in 2013. “It really wasn’t planned.”

The New York Times writes:

“Herkimer had been a scholarship student and head cheerleader at Southern Methodist University in Dallas when, after graduating in 1948, he borrowed $600 from a friend of his father-in-law’s to begin what would amount to an American cheerleading industry, setting up shop in his garage.

“His first cheerleading camp attracted 52 girls and one boy; in his second year, enrollment climbed to 350.”

One of the companies he founded, the National Cheerleaders Association, is responsible for training 150,000 cheerleaders each year. And the business he spawned eventually achieved sales of $50 million a year, according to the Times.

The NCA adds that Herkimer also “founded the first ready-made uniform company, Cheerleader Supply Company, in 1951 to meet the uniform needs of cheerleaders (currently known as Cheerleader&DanzTeam).”

On the invention of the pompom, Herkimer explained to American Profile: “When I first saw color television, I thought: ‘We need something colorful on the field.’ So I got the idea to put crepe paper streamers on a stick.”

“When I see thousands of my pompons at the Macy’s [Thanksgiving Day] Parade or at a big game, it’s still a thrill,” he said.

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Greek Official: ‘Grexit’ Would Cost Europe A Trillion Euros Sat, 04 Jul 2015 12:30:00 +0000 Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says there's as much at stake for the rest of Europe as for Greece itself should they fail to reach an acceptable bailout deal.]]>

Greece’s finance minister has accused his nation’s creditors of “terrorism” for trying to “instill fear in people” ahead of a referendum on whether to accept the harsh terms of an international bailout designed to keep Athens in the eurozone.

Yanis Varoufakis, in an interview with the Spanish daily El Mundo, said that there was too much at stake for his country to be kicked out of Europe’s common currency — “as much for Greece as for Europe, I’m sure.”

The Greek government, led by a leftist anti-austerity party that swept to power in January on a platform against making concessions to the country’s creditors, has urged the Greek people to vote no in Sunday’s referendum. But a flurry of opinion polls conducted in recent days have signaled a virtually even split among ordinary Greeks.

“If Greece crashes, a trillion euros (the equivalent of Spain’s GDP) will be lost. It’s too much money and I don’t believe Europe could allow it,” he told El Mundo, according to Reuters.

“Why have they forced us to close the banks? To frighten people. And when it’s about spreading terror, that is known as terrorism,” he added.

The tough talk comes after a weeklong bank holiday in Greece and the imposition of capital controls designed to prevent a collapse of the country’s economy as citizens rush to withdraw euros.

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble appeared to suggest that a no vote would not necessarily trigger a permanent “Grexit” from the common currency regime.

“Greece is a member of the eurozone. There’s no doubt about that,” Schaeuble told Bild in an interview, according to Reuters. “Whether with the euro or temporarily without it: Only the Greeks can answer this question. And it is clear that we will not leave the people in the lurch.”

But a yes vote is likely to spell the end of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government.

As The Guardian notes:

“If Greece votes no, it’s hard to see how it can stay in the euro, which will represent the most grievous blow in the 16-year history of a currency whose momentum was always meant to be irreversible.

“If yes wins, and [Greece’s ruling] Syriza [party] duly falls, the victory for the European powers could prove to be pyrrhic. Too many will believe that Brussels, and more pointedly Berlin, engineered the toppling of a democratically elected government.”

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