National News

Cost of melting icy roads ... is heating up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 13:28

All that salt and brine and sand that's being sprayed on the roads and highways in preparation for the big storm is getting more expensive.

Statewide in New York, the average price of road salt hit $58 a ton last fall. 

That's up 27 percent from a year ago.

Medicare Looks To Speed Up Pay For Quality Instead Of Volume

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 13:14

The administration wants to tie more of Medicare's spending on health care to quality and to encourage doctors and hospitals to be more frugal in their spending.

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Jeffrey Sterling, Former CIA Officer, Is Convicted Of Espionage

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 13:13

Jeffrey Sterling was fired from the CIA in 2002. His case has drawn wide attention in part because he was accused of giving secret information to James Risen of The New York Times.

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Accused Bomber's Lawyers Say Boston Jury Pool Is Too Biased

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 12:41

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's attorneys are again asking that his trial, now in the jury selection phase, be moved. Lawyers say they have data showing that enough impartial jurors cannot be found in the city.

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An Asteroid Is Passing Very Close To Earth Today. Here's How To See It

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 12:19

At its closest point, asteroid 2004 BL86 came within about 750,000 miles from Earth — or almost three times farther away than the moon.

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At Koch Summit, A Freewheeling Debate Among GOP Hopefuls

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 12:07

Do billionaires have too much influence in both major parties? Three top Republican presidential prospects say no.

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Bitcoin gets its first major U.S. exchange

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 12:04

On Monday, Bay-Area startup Coinbase launched the first major U.S.-based licensed exchange for the online currency bitcoin.

Other major exchanges are based abroad, and other U.S.-based exchanges have limited liquidity and are not able to handle transactions in as many states as Coinbase can. Coinbase is backed by more than $100 million in investment from banks, venture capital firms and the New York Stock Exchange.

Coinbase says it will allow money managers, institutional investors, businesses and individuals to trade bitcoins with a degree of price stability and reliability that has so far been lacking for the up-and-coming virtual currency.

“We’ve got this respected exchange, that’s in the U.S., that isn’t in Slovenia or someplace in Japan,” says Campbell Harvey, a Duke University finance professor. “It will provide a benchmark for pricing and presumably will lead to lower volatility. Given that bitcoin is still a nascent technology, a lot of people don’t fully understand it or trust it. This gives a degree of comfort.”

Sandwich Monday: Girl Scout Cookie Coffeemate

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:57

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try Girl Scout Cookies in a new form. Coffeemate has somehow blended them into nondairy creamer, so you can start your day the disturbing way.

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Intended For Millennials, Dish's Sling TV Is A Cord Cutter's Dream

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:23

Dish Network soon debuts its Sling TV streaming service, with a small group of cable channels for $20 a month. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans tried it and says Sling TV is a welcome challenge to cable.

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Just Plane Sad: A Show Of Support For SkyMall

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:20

News last week that SkyMall's parent company has filed for bankruptcy protection inspired an outpouring of odes to the kitschy in-flight catalog.

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Syrian Rebels Want To Fight Assad, But Now They'll Face ISIS

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:20

Moderate Syrian rebels took up arms to topple President Bashar Assad. But the U.S. is planning to train them to fight against a different foe, the self-declared Islamic State instead.

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2015 Will Continue Streak Of Shrinking U.S. Budget Deficit

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:20

The federal budget deficit will fall in 2015, the sixth consecutive year of decreases relative to the overall economy, according to new figures by the Congressional Budget Office.

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Dish Network's Sling: A shot aimed at cable

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:03

Dish Network rolls out its streaming service, Sling , tomorrow. Twelve channels, 20 bucks a month plus live sports and news. It's upped the ante for everyone looking to lure the cord cutters to their streaming service.  

Click the media player above to hear more.

You're grounded: How airlines make those tough calls

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 11:02

With a big snowstorm forecast to hit the Northeastern Seaboard, airlines began canceling flights scheduled for early this week before snowflakes began to fall.

But deciding how and when to cancel such flights can be tricky. 

If airlines cancel too early, they may find themselves stuck on the ground while competitors continue to fly, says Darryl Jenkins, chairman of the American Aviation Institute. But if companies wait too long, they may have to divert planes, stranding passengers, crew and equipment in random cities, says Bob Mann, president of airline consulting firm R.W. Mann & Company.

Diversions can be costly for airlines because it can take longer for an airline to return to its regular schedule than it would if flights were canceled and passengers were re-booked on later flights.


Greek's new government promises winds of change

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 10:59

Alexis Tsipras, head of the far-left Syriza party, was sworn in as Greece's prime minister after winning a stunning victory in the general election over the weekend.

The new leader says he expects his victory to have resonance well beyond the borders of Greece. “Our future in Europe is not the future of austerity. It is the future of democracy, solidarity and cooperation,” Tsipras told the media on election night. To reach the widest possible audience abroad, he spoke in English.

Syriza is known for its plans to defy Brussels and Berlin, and roll back some of the budget cuts and economic reforms imposed on Greece in return for the country’s $280 billion bailouts by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Syriza believes that when Greece throws off the yoke of German-inspired austerity, other heavily-indebted southern European countries will follow. “Change in Greece is going to be the beginning of a change all over Europe, starting, of course, from the South where the problems are bigger,” says John Milios, Syriza’s chief economist.

Syriza claims Spain, Portugal and Italy will also jump on the anti-austerity bandwagon. George Katrouglas, a member of the European parliament for the party, says: Don’t blame Greece if the EU falls apart. “It could break up, but not because of us, but because of the German insistence on policies that have clearly failed,” Katrouglas says. 

Not everyone sees Syriza as a dynamic new force that's leading the charge against Germany’s crippling rigidity, nor as a new broom that will sweep away corruption and pork-barrel politics at home. 

“They appear to be something new … but they’re not,” says John Loulis, a leading Greek political analyst who is not impressed with Syriza or Greek politicians in general. “The people who get involved in politics are the pits,” says Loulis. “If they were not involved in politics, they would be unemployed.”

Many Syriza activists come from the Greek public sector, he notes, which is not a guarantee of efficiency or dynamism. As the new government prepares to do battle over austerity on the European stage, millions of Greeks can only hope that, this time, Loulis is wrong.

Tossing Out Food In The Trash? In Seattle, You'll Be Fined For That

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 10:54

Seattle is the first city in the nation to fine people for not properly sorting their garbage. The law took effect on Jan. 1 as a bid to keep food out of landfills and encourage composting instead.

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Big changes for Medicare

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 10:35

The Department of Health and Human Services has announced a plan to move Medicare away from the current fee-for-service system and toward a quality-based payment system.

"By the end of 2016, 85 percent of its budgets is going to be tied to outcomes," says Dan Gorenstein, Marketplace’s Health Desk correspondent.

Monday’s announcement by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell could have a much bigger impact on consumer healthcare spending.

"What Medicare does really sets the table for the entire industry," Gorenstein says. "So, oftentimes whatever the federal government does the private insurers, private industry usually follows."

Abortion Vote Shows How Much Democrats' World Has Changed

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 09:46

Of those 64 Democrats who cast a key anti-abortion vote in November 2009, only 12 remain in the House today.

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U.S. Drone Strikes Target Suspected Al-Qaida Militants In Yemen

NPR News - Mon, 2015-01-26 09:39

The strikes come just days after Yemen's the U.S.-backed government resigned in the face of an uprising by Shiite Houthi rebels, effectively leaving the country with no government.

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Long-lost WWII photographs are found

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-01-26 08:50

In late 2014, Levi Bettwieser bought 31 undeveloped rolls of film at an auction in Ohio. They turned out to be photos from World War II.

"I knew that I potentially had something special just from the look of the rolls themselves and what was written on them," says Bettwieser. "But you never know what you’re going to get because obviously you have no idea what the condition of the images might be that are still on the film."

About two years ago, Bettwieser, a video producer and film photographer in Boise, Idaho, founded The Rescued Film Project to salvage undeveloped rolls of film from around the world.

The rolls had hand-written notes that hint at what they might contain, but most are labeled with various location names, like LaHavre Harbor, Lucky Strike Camp or Boston Harbor. "One was labeled 'Roll of French Funeral,' and so we were able to actually recover some funeral pictures of a French officer," Bettwieser says.

From the beginning, Bettwieser has funded the project with his own money.

"This is not my full-time job, I also have a full-time job sustaining myself," says Bettwieser. "I have spent thousands of dollars of my personal funds to fund the project just because I believe in it, and it’s a passion project. The cost does not make any difference to me – you can’t put a price on the value of saving these images."