National News

Shades Of The Middle Ages: The Plague Popped Up In China And Colorado

NPR News - 40 min 12 sec ago

Is this 2014 or 1348? The plague — yes, the infamous Black Death — was reported in China and Colorado. It's the same disease as the Middle Ages pandemic. Only now we know how to treat it.

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Israeli Artillery Hits U.N.-Run School In Gaza

NPR News - 43 min 11 sec ago

More than a dozen people have been killed at the school used as a shelter in Beit Hanoun, according to Palestinian officials.

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Montana Sen. Walsh Says PTSD May Have Played A Role In His Plagiarism

NPR News - 1 hour 59 min ago

Sen. John Walsh lifted at least a quarter of his United States Army War College master's thesis, according to a report in The New York Times. Walsh was appointed to the Senate in February.

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Iraq Elects Kurdish Politician To Ceremonial Post Of President

NPR News - 1 hour 59 min ago

Fouad Massoum, who has a long history in Iraqi politics, took the oath of office vowing to protect the constitution and the unity of the country.

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A Simple Way To Reduce Stroke Risk: Take Your Pulse

NPR News - 3 hours 30 min ago

Most people can't tell when they're having the irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation that puts them at risk of stroke. Simply learning to take your own pulse could help, researchers say.

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Gaza Conflict Day 17: Here's What You Need To Know

NPR News - 4 hours 3 min ago

For the first time since Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration is allowing flights to Israel. The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 700.

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Debating corporate tax inversions

Corporate tax inversions are the latest topic of debate on Capitol Hill. Allan Sloan, senior editor at large for Fortune magazine, appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday to talk about  international taxation and ways to reverse American companies reincorporating overseas.

Click the media player above to hear Allan Sloan in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio to explain the maneuver, why it’s happening, and what government should do to regulate it. 


Some bond insurers oppose Detroit's bankruptcy plan

Retirees and employees have voted to accept benefit cuts under Detroit’s bankruptcy blueprint, but not all creditors are on board. Two of the biggest holdouts are bond insurers.

Some are cooperating with Detroit’s plan, but not Syncora Guarantee Inc.

“They’re fighting tooth and nail against the city’s proposed settlement, because it’ll cost them money,” says Alan Schankel, a municipal research analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott.

Syncora and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co. (FGIC) insured almost $1.5 billion of Detroit’s pension debt. The city is offering ten cents on the dollar, or less. That may not be enough.

“Bond insurers got in a lot of trouble in the 2008 crisis. A lot of them were investing in some very exotic derivatives and other things,” says Eric Scorsone, a public finance economist at Michigan State University.

Syncora was insuring mortgage backed securities and other complicated financial products, says analyst Alan Schankel. As the housing crisis hit, Syncora lost capital and its AAA rating.

This all comes at a time when fewer muni bonds are even getting insured. Schankel says before the financial crisis, more than half of new bonds got insurance.

“This year to date that percentage is 4.85 percent,” he says, calling it a precipitous drop.

He believes marketshare will improve over time. The question is whether it will happen in time for Syncora. 

Authorities Lose Contact With Air Algerie Jet

NPR News - 4 hours 53 min ago

The MD83 aircraft was about an hour into its flight from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers. It was carrying 116 passengers, including six crew members.

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A Strange Political Dustup Clouds Kansas Governor's Future

NPR News - 5 hours 22 min ago

An open revolt among moderate Kansas Republicans has clouded Gov. Sam Brownback's re-election hopes and focused national attention on the tax-cutting experiment at the heart of his "red-state model."

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In Detroit Porch Shooting Trial, It's Murder Vs. Self-Defense

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

The murder trial is underway for Theodore Wafer, the Detroit homeowner who shot Renisha McBride, an unarmed black teen, on his porch. Wafer claims self-defense; prosecutors say there was no threat.

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Iowa Mayor Calls For 'Caring Cities' To Take In Young Immigrants

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

The governor of Iowa says he's empathetic but doesn't want to host any of the unaccompanied and undocumented children from Central America. But advocacy groups and other officials in the state are urging Iowans to welcome them.

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New Rules Proposed For Oil-Carrying Trains In Wake Of Fiery Crashes

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

The Obama administration is proposing new safety rules for railroad oil tank cars, after a series of fiery derailments. The rules would phase out thousands of older cars in two years.

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With New Safety Measures, Nuclear Reactors May Reopen In Japan

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

Three years after the Fukushima disaster shut Japan's nuclear power plants, reactors at a different plant may reopen. Steve Inskeep talks with Wall Street Journal Tokyo bureau chief Peter Landers.

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Military Dogs' Advocates Say The Canines Aren't Pets — They're Vets

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

Military war dogs serve combat tours, save lives and suffer injuries like the soldiers they serve. On Capitol Hill this week, dogs and their handlers made the case that all dogs should be brought home from war and treated with the respect they've earned.

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Syrian Babies Born To Refugees Face A Future In Limbo

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

Syrians have flooded into neighboring countries and now they are having babies. But the children are not receiving citizenship from either Syria or the country where they are born.

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Despite Mideast Turmoil, More French Jews Are Moving To Israel

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

Anti-Semitism in France and across Europe is fueling emigration, Jews say. One father whose son is leaving says, "France is no longer the beautiful country it was."

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How High Debt From The Housing Collapse Still Stifles Our Economy

NPR News - 5 hours 26 min ago

Seven years after the subprime mortgage crisis, the U.S. economy has not yet fully recovered. Now two economists have come up with new evidence about what's holding the economy back.

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Why young children are fleeing Central America

The issue of how to deal with young illegal immigrants has been particularly troubling for the Obama administration, with more than 57,000 young migrants, most from Central America, apprehended at the southwest border since October.

María Elena Salinas co-anchors the Univision Network’s national newscast “Noticiero Univision” and the weekly primetime newsmagazine “Aquí y Ahora." She took a recent trip to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to explore the social, political, and economic reasons why children are fleeing from those countries to the United States. 

Click the media player above to hear Univision anchor María Elena Salinas in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

Demographics, tech, and the digital divide

In the tech industry, one of the central debates has been over whether continued technological innovation can do much good for a wider group of people than just a narrow slice of the urban upper middle class. Tessie Guillermo, CEO of the tech consulting company ZeroDivide, has been thinking about these issues.

The “digital divide” — the gaps between technology haves and have nots — which inspired the name of her firm, is a real and pressing issue. The skewed demographics of the tech industry can also make using technology to improve social outcomes a challenge.

“It creates a lot of anxiety and fear,” says Guillermo.

The ability to give digital literacy to these groups — community organizations and underserved communities — is difficult, and the demographics compound the challenge.

Furthermore, the way the tech industry sells these improvements could be counterproductive.

“There’s not necessarily an app for everything,” says Guillermo.

There is an impatience to how the tech industry deals with problems, in terms of the constant iteration, that doesn’t always translate to other contexts. 

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