National News

What The Change In U.S.-Cuba Relations Might Mean For Food

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 13:06

The decision to normalize relations is driving all kinds of speculation about American food companies opening up shop in Cuba. But analysts say: Don't expect to see McDonald's there anytime soon.

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In List Of Changes For Secret Service, A New Fence Comes First

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:56

In independent review panel calls for changes ranging from a better fence at the White House to a new approach to training and leadership within the Secret Service.

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U.S. Announces Protections For Transgender Workers

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:55

The Justice Department's move is a reversal from how the Bush administration interpreted Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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New Popularity Of L.L. Bean Boots Sparks Scramble To Fill Orders

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:50

L.L. Bean's iconic rubber and leather boots have swung back into fashion with young people and are more popular than ever. The backlog stands at nearly 100,000 pairs; it will take months to catch up.

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Sarah Koenig On Serial: 'I Think Something Went Wrong With This Case'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:45

Serial, the hugely popular (and sometimes controversial) podcast spun off from This American Life, wraps up its first season today. Audie Cornish speaks with Serial creator Sarah Koenig.

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Lower gas prices, but spending stuck in neutral

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:28

The average two-car household is saving about $50 a month on gasoline, according to Bankrate.com. So where is that extra money going? Not as much is flowing into malls and restaurants as you might think.

“Consumers are very quick to pull back on spending when gas prices rise, but very slow to ramp up spending when they fall,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.

At an Oceanic gas station in Baltimore, Maryland, cab driver Waylen Hawkes estimates he’s pocketing an extra $1,000 a month, thanks to lower prices. He’s saving it, he says, “because it’s not going to stay this way.”

“I do worry about them going back up,” says Margurite Copper, a human resource manager with a security company. “I wish that I could take some gas and just store it somewhere in my house, but it would be unethical.”

Still, Copper was on her way to the mall after filling up, where she planned to spend a little extra on Christmas presents. 

Where your extra gas money goes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:28

The average two-car household is saving about $50 a month on gasoline, according to Bankrate.com. So where is that extra money going? Not as much is flowing into malls and restaurants as you might think.

“Consumers are very quick to pull back on spending when gas prices rise, but very slow to ramp up spending when they fall,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.

At an Oceanic gas station in Baltimore, Maryland, cab driver Waylen Hawkes guesses he’s pocketing an extra $1,000 a month, thanks to lower prices. He’s saving it, he says, “because it’s not going to stay this way.”

“I do worry about them going back up,” says Margurite Copper, a human resource manager with a security company. “I wish that I could take some gas and just store it somewhere in my house, but it would be unethical.”

Still, Copper was on her way to the mall after filling up, where she planned to spend a little extra on Christmas presents. 

Administration Won't Rule Out Raul Castro Visit To White House

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:24

The remarks come a day after President Obama announced the U.S. and Cuba would begin talks to normalize relations and open embassies following more than five decades of hostility.

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The future of oil and gas after the boom

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:20

What effects will oil have on the global economy?

“If there’s too much oil in the world, we can have low prices for a while. That could be the problem," Marketplace Sustainability Correspondent Scott Tong says. "There’s a lag in the effect in the oil patch, but each day already brings another announcement of a company cutting back on their drilling because prices are too low.”

If prices stay below $60 a barrel, Goldman Sachs estimates producers could lose a trillion dollars. But Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, says she thinks low oil prices are a net good for the global economy.

The contrast reflects what a lot of people think – in the short term, it is an absolute economic stimulus. Longer term, there are a lot of questions. If you’re an investor, the financial market is taking a big hit, particularly stocks that are exposed to energy and the bond market. Different parts of the economy could end up feeling the pain.

And, if we look farther into the future, the question of climate change comes up.  There have been demands for a carbon tax, but Tong says: “Cheap oil is basically a carbon subsidy.”

Immigration Driving Broad Demographic Shifts In U.S., Report Says

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:10

An analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts shows that immigrants are increasingly moving from "gateways" such as New York and Texas into states in Middle America.

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In Latin America, Not Everyone Is Thrilled With The U.S.-Cuba Thaw

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 12:05

Cuba and Venezuela are close allies who often seemed to speak with a single voice when it came to bashing the U.S. But now they may be out of synch.

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And The Award For Most Offensive Fund-Raising Video Goes To...

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:56

If you're a charity that wants to help the developing world, you really, really, really don't want to win a "Rusty Radiator."

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5 Defining Moments In The U.S.-Cuba Relationship

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:54

President Obama says the U.S. and Cuba will normalize relations, which were severed in 1961. Here are images that highlight the decades of tense relations.

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100 uses for petroleum – and counting

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

One 42-gallon barrel of oil produces about 19.4 gallons of gas. But according to a list put out by the oil and gas firm Ranken Energy, gasoline isn't the only thing that comes from a barrel of oil. Some highlights from the 6,000 items on the list:

  1. Ink
  2. Upholstery
  3. Bicycle Tires
  4. Dresses
  5. Motorcycle Helmet
  6. Curtains
  7. Dashboards
  8. Percolators
  9. Skis
  10. Mops
  11. Umbrellas
  12. Roofing
  13. Denture Adhesive
  14. Speakers
  15. Tennis Rackets
  16. Water Pipes
  17. Shampoo
  18. Guitar Strings
  19. Antifreeze
  20. Combs
  21. Vaporizers
  22. Heart Valves
  23. Anesthetics
  24. Cold cream
  25. Fan Belts
  26. Refrigerators
  27. Diesel fuel
  28. Floor Wax
  29. Sweaters
  30. Tires
  31. Food Preservatives
  32. Antihistamines
  33. Cortisone
  34. Dyes
  35. Life Jackets
  36. TV Cabinets
  37. Car Battery Cases
  38. Toilet Seats
  39. Linoleum
  40. Candles
  41. Hand Lotion
  42. Luggage
  43. Football Helmets
  44. Toothbrushes
  45. Balloons
  46. Crayons
  47. Pillows
  48. Artificial Turf
  49. Movie film
  50. Golf Balls
  51. Motor Oil
  52. Ballpoint Pens
  53. Boats
  54. Nail Polish
  55. Golf Bags
  56. Basketballs
  57. Purses
  58. Deodorant
  59. Panty Hose
  60. Rubbing Alcohol
  61. Insect Repellent
  62. Fertilizers
  63. Fishing Rods
  64. Ice Cube Trays
  65. Electric Blankets
  66. Fishing Boots
  67. Trash Bags
  68. Roller Skates
  69. Paint Rollers
  70. Aspirin
  71. Ice Chests
  72. Paint Brushes
  73. Sun Glasses
  74. Parachutes
  75. Artificial limbs
  76. Shaving Cream
  77. Toothpaste
  78. Bearing Grease
  79. Football Cleats
  80. Insecticides
  81. Fishing lures
  82. Perfumes
  83. Shoe Polish
  84. Transparent Tape
  85. Soap
  86. Shoes
  87. Paint
  88. Oil Filters
  89. Lipstick
  90. Dice
  91. Surf Boards
  92. Shower Curtains
  93. Safety Glasses
  94. Eyeglasses
  95. Footballs
  96. Tents
  97. Cameras
  98. Bandages
  99. Hair Curlers
  100. Ammonia

6,000 uses for petroleum – and counting

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

One 42-gallon barrel of oil produces about 19.4 gallons of gas. But according to a list put out by the oil and gas firm Ranken Energy, gasoline isn't the only thing that comes from a barrel of oil. Some highlights from the 6,000 items on the list:

  • Deodorant
  • Yarn
  • Floor wax
  • Crayons
  • Aspirin
  • Umbrellas
  • Shampoo
  • Balloons
  • Insect repellent
  • Nail polish
  • Footballs

 

6,000 uses for petroleum – and counting

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

One 42-gallon barrel of oil produces about 19.4 gallons of gas. But according to a list put out by the oil and gas firm Ranken Energy, gasoline isn't the only thing that comes from a barrel of oil. Some highlights from the 6,000 items on the list:

  • Deodorant
  • Yarn
  • Floor wax
  • Crayons
  • Aspirin
  • Umbrellas
  • Shampoo
  • Balloons
  • Insect repellent
  • Nail polish
  • Footballs

 

Cuba's open doors don't mean open for business

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

President Obama’s announcement regarding normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba also had a few economic goodies. 

Travelers to Cuba can bring back up to $400 worth of goods to the U.S. ... but only $100 worth of tobacco and cigars. 

Telecom companies can export more to Cuba, in an effort to open the country up to the outside world, and agricultural exports were made easier thanks to an easing of financing restrictions — but the embargo is still in place, and full-blown business opportunities are largely years away.

Click play above to hear more about Cuba's business impact

How the oil boom woke up a Texas town

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

Texas oil companies started tapping into the Eagle Ford shale deposit in 2008, and have since produced millions of barrels of oil. One Texas city affected by this boom is Carrizo Springs. Kai Ryssdal talked with Mayor Adrian DeLeon about the benefits and challenges that come with change.

“There’s a lot of good, and there’s a lot of bad … but when we’re talking about Eagle Ford shale, we’re talking about job creation, and it’s a good thing. It’s a blessing for us,” DeLeon said. “There’s around 60,000 jobs here. It’s lucrative for people who really want to work.”

The biggest change, since before the oil boom, is that local business is thriving.

“We’re just grateful to see so many people who were losing their houses and losing their cars, to [now] paying off their cars and paying off their houses…. It’s a great thing,” DeLeon said.

Benefits:

  • Thousands of new jobs and thriving business
  • Creating a city police department
  • Hiring developers and workers from around the country

Challenges:

  • Highways are not equipped for heavy truck traffic
  • Regulating oil and gas
  • Avoiding water pollution

A circular argument: How cheap oil affects tire prices

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

This is a busy time of year for the Goodyear tire store and garage in McLean, Virginia. People want a tune-up before heading out for the holidays, or maybe want to pick up a set of tires.

Store manager Eddie Adiyeh has been selling tires for almost 30 years, so he should know: Do tire prices normally go down, along with oil prices? 

“I don’t remember them going down when the prices went down," he says. "But I remember them going up a little bit when the oil went up.”

Goodyear owns Adiyeh’s store, and sets the prices. So I called a Goodyear spokesman, Keith Price, and asked: Will tires get cheaper?

His response: “I’m not able to comment or speculate on what might happen to the price of tires.”

But Price did say it takes a while for a tire to go from factory to warehouse to distributor to store. He figures tires being made now, with cheaper oil, should be in stores this spring. 

So will they be cheaper then?

“It’s not entirely black and white,” says Nicholas Mitchell, a senior vice president and research analyst at Northcoast Research who follows Goodyear. He says oil makes up about a quarter of the cost of synthetic tires, the kind most consumers buy. Mitchell thinks competition among tire manufacturers will push down prices.   

“Someone will move first and try to lower prices to drive market share,” he says.

But here’s why it’s not black and white: With gas prices down, we’re driving more, and wearing out our tires faster. If demand for tires rises, Mitchell says, prices won’t fall as much. 

Trickle down oil prices?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-18 11:00

This is a busy time of year for the Goodyear tire store and garage in McLean, Virginia. People want a tune up before heading out for the holidays, maybe want to pick up a set of tires.

Store manager Eddie Adiyeh has been selling tires for almost 30 years, so he should know: Do tire prices normally go down, along with oil prices? 

“I don’t remember them going down when the prices went down," he says. "But I remember them going up a little bit when the oil went up.”

Goodyear owns Adiyeh’s store, and sets the prices. So I called a Goodyear spokesman, Keith Price, and asked him: will tires get cheaper?

His response: “I’m not able to comment or speculate on what might happen to the price of tires.”

But Price did say it takes a while for the tire to go from factory to warehouse to distributor to store. He figures tires being made now, with the cheaper oil, should be in stores this spring. 

So will they be cheaper then?

“It’s not entirely black and white,” says Nicholas Mitchell, a senior vice president and research analyst at Northcoast Research who follows Goodyear. He says oil makes up about a quarter of the cost of synthetic tires, the kind most consumers buy. Mitchell thinks competition among tire manufacturers will push down prices.   

“Someone will move first and try to lower prices to drive market share,” he says.

But here’s why it’s not black and white: With gas prices down, we’re driving more, and wearing out our tires faster. If demand for tires rises, Mitchell says, prices won’t fall as much. 

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