National News

In Chicago, Neighborhoods That Are More Black Don't Gentrify

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 09:52

A recent study reviewed places in Chicago that seemed to be undergoing gentrification two decades ago and found that the process had slowed or stopped for those that were at least 40 percent black.

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A Group Of 29 State Attorneys General Ask FDA To Strengthen E-Cig Regulations

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 09:51

The attorneys recommend that the FDA ban flavored electronic cigarettes and restrict advertising in the same way it does for traditional cigarettes.

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Shazam! Now You Look Like A Better Borrower

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 09:35

The company that controls the FICO credit score says it is changing the way the scores are calculated, making it easier for millions of borrowers to look better on paper.

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Playing Video Games Can Help Or Hurt, Depending On Whom You Ask

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 09:19

Playing video games for an hour a day may make children happier and more satisfied, one study says. But another finds that playing violent games is associated with risky behaviors.

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This Isn't The First U.S. Rescue Operation In Northern Iraq

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 09:01

The last time was 1991, when the U.S. rushed to the aid of the Kurds. That mission offers several lessons as the U.S. embarks on a new operation to help the besieged Yazidi religious sect.

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Investors Pump Prospects Of Unproven Ebola Treatments

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 08:37

Drugs in development to treat Ebola virus are far from being ready for general use, but that hasn't stopped investors from rushing to talk up companies that are trying to develop the drugs.

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Malaysia's Money-Losing Airline Will Become National Property

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 08:25

Malaysia plans to nationalize its flag carrier Malaysia Airlines after back-to-back disasters and a 12-year stretch that saw the company restructured four times.

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White House Goes On Lockdown After Sneaky Toddler Breaches Fence

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 07:09

The toddler had no comment because he can't talk yet. But the Secret Service handed the little guy a time out and then sent him on his way.

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Luring talent with more than just a basketball

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-08 07:00

The NCAA has voted to give schools with the biggest sports programs more leeway to lure talent. The move will affect the five biggest conferences: the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Pacific 12, Big Ten and Big 12 conferences.

If finalized, the conferences "will receive the power to raise the value of scholarships, improve health insurance, allow players to consult agents and more," according to the New York Times. For more on what this decision could mean, we spoke to Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College who follows the business of sports. 

Click the media player above to hear Andrew Zimbalist in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

What you should know about the changes to credit scores

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-08 07:00

FICO, the nation's leading provider of those all-important credit scores that so many Americans can feel they have tattooed to their backs, has announced it is changing the formula it uses to score credit. The changes could boost the scores of tens of millions of Americans.

Here are a few things to know about the changes:

Exactly what is FICO changing?

There are two main changes. One is that FICO will stop docking people for being overdue on a payment, as long as they have ultimately paid the bill or settled with a collection agency. Until now, having a collection on your record — even if your balance was at zero — could impact your credit score as much as a foreclosure or a bankruptcy.

The second change will be good news to people with medical debt, which is about 40 percent of Americans. FICO says it will start giving less weight in its credit scoring formula to unpaid medical bills that are with a collection agency.

So how could these changes affect my ability to borrow?

FICO’s goal is to boost lending without creating more risk. Since the recession, it has been hard to get a loan without fairly spotless credit. These new changes could boost certain scores by as much as 100 points, meaning if you have an otherwise good credit record aside from the above issues, you might qualify for a loan you wouldn't have before, or at least for a lower interest rate.

When do the changes go in to effect?

FICO says they will offer the new credit score formulas to credit bureaus in the fall and to lenders by the end of the year. But just because the new formulas are available doesn’t mean they will be used. FICO rolls out new scoring formulas every few years, and it takes a while for many lenders to adopt the newest versions.

Beyond that, even though FICO has changed its approach to unpaid medical bills and debts that have been resolved with collections agencies, those events won’t disappear from your record altogether. Lenders will still be able to see them on your credit report for up to seven years, and can still decide they are a sign of risk.

What are the pros and cons of FICO’s new approach?

Any loosening of credit standards raises worries in some corners, that it could leave lenders open to more risk or entice borrowers deeper in to debt. FICO doesn't think so. But we'll have to see.

If the company is wrong, it could undermine the credibility of their credit scores.

John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at credit education website Credit Sesame and a former manager at FICO, says what is certain is that FICO carefully considered the changes. “The only reason someone like FICO is going to make this type of drastic change to their scoring system is because the science behind it supports the change,” he says.  “As time changes, different data elements on a credit report are tested to make sure they're still predictive of elevated risk.”

For example, as medical expenses have risen sharply in the last few decades, FICO may have found that medical debt is no longer a good predictor of elevated risk.

If FICO is right, and the new scoring system raises credit scores for tens of millions of Americans without opening lenders up to more risk, it could have positive ripple effects on the economy. Part of the slow recovery has been due to tight credit. More people qualifying for loans could create useful momentum.

And don't forget how powerful credit scores have become in our lives. Credit card companies and banks look at them, but so do potential landlords and even potential employers.  

State Abortion Laws Face A New Round Of Legal Challenges

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 06:24

State legislatures have passed laws that require doctors to have hospital admitting privileges to perform abortions. Some courts are now saying these laws are unconstitutional.

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Chermoula: From North Africa To The White House To Your Table

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 05:51

Guests at the U.S.-Africa Summit were served beef with a Moroccan spice blend. We asked food mavens Marcus Samuelsson and Paula Wolfert to share their recipes. So now you can dine like a diplomat!

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Dueling Afghan Presidential Candidates Agree To Resolve Election Dispute

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 05:46

The two men, who agreed to cooperate on forming a new, national unity government, made the announcement after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

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Making online education more like iTunes

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-08 05:30

As MIT sees it, education is a lot like the record business used to be: still producing albums, when  people would rather download songs one at a time.

To put it another way, instead of offering semester-long classes, professors need to start offering individual lessons and letting students pick which ones they want.

“The very notion of a ‘class’ may be outdated,” says a new report from an MIT task force on the future of the school. “Much like a playlist on iTunes, a student could pick and choose the elements of a calculus or a biology course offered across [MIT’s online platform] to meet his or her needs.”  

The report notes that 25 percent of professors and 40 percent of students believe classes could benefit from this “modular” approach.

MIT is not the only school thinking this way.  The University of Wisconsin began offering MOOCs this year that offer shorter, more narrowly focused segments.

Also recommended by the MIT task force:

  • Continue to expand online and blended-learning options.
  • Expand the school’s certification program for online courses.
  • Develop ways to use game-based learning in classes.
  • Attract a more diverse group of students to MOOCs– more than 70 percent are male.
  • Make the school more affordable.
  • Admit more students.

 

Weekly Wrap: Blame geopolitics

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-08 04:41

Felix Salmon of Fusion and Jo Ling Kent of Fox Business News talk with about geopolitics, economics and where the two shall meet. 

Pentagon Says U.S. Aircraft Strike Sunni Militant Artillery In Iraq

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 04:21

President Obama has authorized humanitarian drops and airstrikes against militants in the country. But administration officials say this does not signal a broader war against the Islamic extremists.

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China's President Says His Anti-Corruption Drive Is Deadlocked

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 04:20

Ordinary Chinese rejoiced when a powerful ex-security czar came under investigation. But recent remarks by President Xi Jinping hint at internal strife that challenges his anti-graft campaign.

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Education Reform Is Becoming A Celebrity Cause

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 04:03

"I don't like bad teachers, so I don't think bad teachers should be given the gift of teaching forever — badly," Whoopi Goldberg says.

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PODCAST: New credit scores

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-08 03:00

FICO -- the nation's leading provider of those all-important credit scores so many of us have tatooed on us -- has announced that it is changing the formula it uses to score our credit in a way that could boost the credit scores for tens of millions of Americans. More on what you need to know about your FICO credit score. Plus, things are getting tougher for military personnel who get help on their college tuition. The current rule is people getting assistance have to just pass the classes, but the government now wants them do better than that. Also, Cleveland is a sports town, be it baseball, basketball or badminton. That game is one of 35 featured in the Gay Games, which start Saturday. The international Gay Games 9 competition is expected to bring 30,000 visitors to the area. More on what some small businesses are doing to get fans into their establishments.

 

In Gaza, Cease-Fire Expires As Rockets Fly

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-08 02:40

It's still unclear whether the renewed fighting is a sign of something broader. Meanwhile, the peace talks in Cairo appeared to have stalled because of the rocket fire.

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