National News

A deadline extension

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 03:00

It's the income tax deadline day, unless you filed for an extension. Turns out that is a popular course of action. If you're getting an extension, I'm on your side, in a world of just-in-time worker scheduling, juggling little league games, the babysitter and bosses sending you urgent action email at 10:47 at night. But Marketplace's explainer in chief, Paddy Hirsch is more hard core than I, and apparently sees a nation of procrastinator here. 

Click on the above multimedia player to hear more on just why people put it off until the big day. 

 

Shelly Sterling Wins Case Seeking Millions In Assets From V. Stiviano

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:43

V. Stiviano, the one-time companion of former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, must return millions of dollars in gifts, a judge has ruled in a lawsuit that was filed by Sterling's wife, Shelly.

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Ivy League schools key into online courses

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:03

Yale University’s School of Medicine is deciding whether to create an online version of its physician’s assistant master’s program. Its first attempt failed because it couldn't get accreditation.  Yale says it’s “reviewing the matter” and may try again.

Yale’s partner in all this is the education technology company 2U, which has plenty of other customers, many of them Ivy League schools.

“There’s a lot of demand for us right now,” says Chip Paucek, CEO of 2U. He says universities want to enroll students online to address shortages of workers in some fields. But online degrees also bring in more tuition dollars.

“A university needs to figure out how to pay its bills and be sustainable," he says. "Just like any enterprise.”

But some degrees lend themselves more to online learning than others.

“So learning statistics or data science online, certainly learning some of the computer sense, skills and knowledge,” says Andrew Kelly, education scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Kelly says degrees that require hands-on training, like physician’s assistant’s programs, are more difficult, because universities have to find hospitals where online students can train. 

IRS warns of sophisticated telephone scam

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The Treasury department says thousands of people have fallen victim to a phone scam, where a caller impersonates an IRS agent, and threatens criminal penalties and other legal action if money isn't paid immediately.

The agency says it is the largest scam of its kind and has spanned more than a year and a half. Americans have been duped out of more than $14 million, and the calls have surged in recent months, authorities say.

"The clients that I've had inquiries from run the gamut," says David McKelvey, an accountant at Friedman LLP, "an elderly person... younger people, they're business owners, they're employees."

Paul Gevertzman, a tax attorney at Anchin, Block & Anchin, says the scammers have increased the sophistication of their deception, making the calls seem legitimate.

"They're able to basically mimic an IRS address on your caller ID," says Gevertzman, "It gives a little more validity. And you think, 'this really is the IRS, because it says so on my phone.'"

The IRS says the agency will never make an initial contact with a taxpayer by phone. It will do so by certified mail.

If you have questions about your tax obligation, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

And if you think you have been targeted by a phone scam, you can call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Department of Treasury to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.

How to make a movie for $300

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

When Walter Woodman and Patrick Cederberg made Noah, a 17-minute film focusing on a young man’s relationship online, the intention was to shoot at least part of the film in the real world.

But they quickly realized how expensive it was to build a set or hire a crew, including actors.  

“We just basically thought, 'Ok, how could we just make all of this happen on a computer screen?'” said Walter Woodman, one of the directors. “He (Noah) has to see that his girlfriend breaks up with him. How are we going to do that? We could do that through a Facebook post.”

That was easier than it sounded. They tried making fake Facebook accounts but Facebook deleted them. So Woodman and Cederberg turned their own profiles into those of the film’s protagonists: Noah and Amy.

“We kept breaking up and getting back together,” said Woodman. “So our actual friends would mess up takes and we would be like 'No, don't comment on this!'”

The point of filming the entire movie online, Woodman said, was to “peel back the curtain of artifice that is these constructed media profiles.”

“I think the view that you get from Noah is a really voyeuristic view,” he added. “You get to see not only what people type but what they backspace.”

The biggest takeaway from this project? The fact that it cost $300. That, according to Woodman, is among technology's biggest contributions.

“There’s less barriers to tell stories and less barriers means you’re going to get people who are saying what they actually want because they don't need to go through the typical gatekeepers that once prevented really creative people from making stuff,” said Woodman.  

School lunch's food fight

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing Wednesday on the reauthorization of the 2010 "Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act".

Proponents say the nutritional requirements in the law help address America's epidemic of childhood obesity. The School Nutrition Association supports the reauthorization of the act, but it opposes the full implementation of the nutritional rules. 

The SNA says the requirements, such as a gradual lowering of sodium levels and a mandate to increase whole grain content, turn students off of healthy food options. Research from the University of Connecticut came to the opposite conclusion.

The SNA has come under attack for its ties to food and beverage conglomerates, whose products could be pushed out of lunch rooms if the sodium rules were to go into full effect.

New Proposed Rules for Retirement Investments

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

Federal regulators are proposing new rules to protect retirement savings. As part of Obama’s stated plan to bolster the middle class, the Labor Department proposed changes to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

The rules are designed to protect retirees from investment brokers who put their own financial interests above their clients and eliminate conflicts of interest that encourage brokers to steer their clients into unsound investments.

Olivia Mitchell is director of the Pension Research Council at Wharton and she says these new rules will force brokers to be more transparent. “What that will mean is that if you do charge for your advice you have to disclose up front how you are charging and how that impacts the client.”

This is an issue now says Mitchell because there’s been a big shift away from pensions to individual retirement accounts. Regulators estimate that these new rules will save retirees $40 billion over the next 10 years. But that’s if they go into effect in their current form. As of today, the public and industry groups have 75 days to submit comments on the new rules to regulators.

The financial services industry has pushed back in the past on rules like these. In 2011 the labor department retracted its first proposal because the financial services industry thought the rules went too far.

IRS warns of sophisticated telephone scam

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The Treasury department says thousands of people have fallen victim to a phone scam, where a caller impersonates an IRS agent, and threatens criminal penalties and other legal action if money isn't paid immediately.

The agency says it is the largest scam of its kind and has spanned more than a year and a half. Americans have been duped out of more than $14 million, and the calls have surged in recent months, authorities say.

"The clients that I've had inquiries from run the gamut," says David McKelvey, an accountant at Friedman LLP, "an elderly person... younger people, they're business owners, they're employees."

Paul Gevertzman, a tax attorney at Anchin, Block & Anchin, says the scammers have increased the sophistication of their deception, making the calls seem legitimate.

"They're able to basically mimic an IRS address on your caller ID," says Gevertzman, "It gives a little more validity. And you think, 'this really is the IRS, because it says so on my phone.'"

The IRS says the agency will never make an initial contact with a taxpayer by phone. It will do so by certified mail.

If you have questions about your tax obligation, you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

And if you think you have been targeted by a phone scam, you can call the Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Department of Treasury to report the incident at 1-800-366-4484.

A conversation with director of the U.S. Patent Office

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

Over at US Patent and Trademarks, they don't use the word "troll." This is kind of patent holder who is less interested in using a patent and more interested in holding up other people for licensing money even if they haven't actually infringed. With the patents and trademarks people celebrating the 225th anniversary of the Patents Act this month, we reached Michelle Lee, the newly confirmed Director. We discussed the her preferred term "abusive litigation," intellectual property, and how to encourage innovation. 

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more.

School lunch's food fight

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 02:00

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a hearing Wednesday on the reauthorization of the 2010 "Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act".

Proponents say the nutritional requirements in the law help address America's epidemic of childhood obesity. The School Nutrition Association supports the reauthorization of the act, but it opposes the full implementation of the nutritional rules. 

The SNA says the requirements, such as a gradual lowering of sodium levels and a mandate to increase whole grain content, turn students off of healthy food options. Research from the University of Connecticut came to the opposite conclusion.

The SNA has come under attack for its ties to food and beverage conglomerates, whose products could be pushed out of lunch rooms if the sodium rules were to go into full effect.

I'm a Barbie girl, in an Instagram world

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2015-04-15 01:00
7 percent

That's China's latest growth rate. The numbers cover January to March, and annualized it's down from previous growth rates. While that's magnificent by U.S. standards, it's a lackluster figure for China, which has to keep creating jobs for people pulled into the economy from the hinterlands.

700,000 followers

That's how many followers (and counting) Barbie (yes, the doll) has on Instagram. @BarbieStyle is meticulously managed by vice president of design Kim Culmone, director of design Robert Best, and the main creative thinker for the account Zlatan Zukanovic. Modeled after popular style blog Instagram accounts, Barbie's photos include selfies, closeups of accessories, and outfit of the day shots. Racked has the origin story of what it's like to photograph a Barbie girl living in a Barbie world.

2.9 billion miles

That's about how many miles NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled thus far on its journey to Pluto. When it does reach the dwarf planet in July, it will be the first time a spacecraft will have visited. In the meantime, VOX has the first color photos sent back from the probe.

225th

This month marks the 225th anniversary of the Patent Act, celebrated by the patents and trademarks industry nationwide. In honor of this landmark, Marketplace Morning Report talked with Michelle Lee, newly confirmed director of the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. The former Google attorney prefers the term "abusive litigation" to instead of "patent trolls." She also talked about how women in STEM field can encourage innovation for companies and society. 

11:59:59PM

This is your income tax deadline today...unless you filed for an extension. Turns out, it's a popular course of action. Listen to our resident explainer Paddy Hirsh on why we have a nation of procrastinators here in the U.S. 

25 percent

That's the percentage of part-time college faculty that receive public assistance. And as Slate points out, that's a lot of highly educated individuals—most hold Ph.D degrees and Master's degrees—needing help to provide for themselves and their families.

A Decade After Blowing The Whistle On The FBI, Vindication

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-15 00:03

After Robert Kobus alerted his bosses at the FBI to improper payroll practices, he was transferred to an office where he sat alone. He says the agency isolated and retaliated against him.

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The Space Station Gets A Coffee Bar

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:42

Italy is sending a high-tech espresso machine to the International Space Station. And NASA is worried it might be too popular.

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Radio Connects North Dakota Residents Divided On Gay Rights

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:41

Radio is king in North Dakota. Morning Edition talks to a liberal radio host, and a conservative small business owner who listens to him — though he doesn't always like what he hears.

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Bombing Survivors Face A World That Still Feels Out Of Control

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:40

Martha and Alvaro Galvis were wounded in 2013's bombing of the Boston Marathon. One of the hardest things to deal with, they say, is the feeling that something random and scary could happen again.

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Redistribute California's Water? Not Without A Fight

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:35

What's a fair way to divide up California's scarce water? The current system relies heavily on history: Some farmers will get water, others won't, simply based on when their land was first irrigated.

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Historian: John Wilkes Booth Not A Deranged Lone Madman

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:34

On the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's death, historian Terry Alford explores John Wilkes Booth's life and how the assassination affected his family.

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The All-Work, No-Play Culture Of South Korean Education

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:34

A new report finds South Korean students feel greater stress than those in any other developed nation. The country weighs the relentless pressure it places on studying and exams.

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From Horses To High Rises: An Insider 'Unmasks' China's Economic Rise

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 23:33

Over the past 25 years, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson watched China turn into the world's second largest economy. He explains what could halt the country's massive growth.

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Congress Approves Longer-Term Fix For Medicare Reimbursements

NPR News - Tue, 2015-04-14 20:41

Eight senators, all Republicans, voted against the bill because funding has not been fully allocated for its $214 billion cost. President Obama says he will sign it.

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