National News

WATCH: The Interception That Won The Super Bowl

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:02

The play came from New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, who intercepted a Russell Wilson pass at the goal line with 20 seconds left. The result: Patriots over Seahawks, 28-24.

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President's plan to tax foreign earnings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:00

President Barack Obama hopes to raise $238 billion for infrastructure projects by taxing the foreign earnings of U.S. companies.  

Currently, firms pay no taxes on their earnings from abroad until they move those earnings to the United States, at which point they face a 35 percent corporate tax rate. The result is that many firms have kept that money abroad. 

“They have a strong incentive to not repatriate the profits,” says Joseph Cordes professor of public policy at George Washington University. Firms are now sitting on $2 trillion of foreign earnings stashed abroad. In the past, the government has tried to suck that money into the U.S. by offering a tax holiday – temporarily slashing the rate from 35 percent to 5 percent, according to Roberton Williams at the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center. He says that has made the problem worse: “The history of repatriation gives firms an incentive to leave money overseas and wait for another tax holiday.”

The president’s plan offers a one time tax on earnings of 14 percent, which is higher than a tax holiday but lower than the tax on the books. Moving forward, firms would have to pay taxes on foreign earnings at a rate of 19 percent, whether or not they bring the money home.  

PODCAST: Cider has its moment

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:00

First up, we take a moment to better understand a piece of President Obama's budget proposal set for release today that might find some support from some members of both parties in Congress. Plus, although sales of alcoholic cider currently amount to just 1 percent of the beer market, sales are way up. In Vermont, where craft beer is already big, some say Vermont is poised to become the Napa Valley of hard cider.

The President hopes to tax foreign earnings

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 03:00

President Barack Obama hopes to raise $238 billion for infrastructure projects by taxing the foreign earnings of U.S. companies.  

Currently, firms pay no taxes on their earnings from abroad until they move those earnings to the United States, at which point they face a 35 percent corporate tax rate. The result is that many firms have kept that money abroad. 

“They have a strong incentive to not repatriate the profits,” says Joseph Cordes professor of public policy at George Washington University. Firms are now sitting on $2 trillion of foreign earnings stashed abroad. In the past, the government has tried to suck that money into the U.S. by offering a tax holiday – temporarily slashing the rate from 35 percent to 5 percent, according to Roberton Williams at the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center. He says that has made the problem worse: “The history of repatriation gives firms an incentive to leave money overseas and wait for another tax holiday.”

The President’s plan offers a one time tax on earnings of 14 percent, which is higher than a tax holiday but lower than the tax on the books. Moving forward, firms would have to pay taxes on foreign earnings at a rate of 19 percent, whether or not they bring the money home.  

Cider makers think Vermont could be their Napa Valley

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

Consumption of hard cider in the United States has been growing, thanks in large part to women and millennials. Part of the appeal has been dietary. People on paleo and gluten-free diets can imbibe. But hard cider appeals to locavores and consumers committed to craft brewing. In Vermont, where eating local is practically the state motto, craft cider makers are thriving.

At Citizen Cider in Burlington there are 10 different ciders on tap. Co-founder Kris Nelson poured your thirsty correspondent a Brose, which is cider fermented with whole blueberries.

“It doesn’t drink like a blueberry wine or a cider,” Nelson explains. “It drinks more like a bubbly Rosé from southern France.”

Citizen Cider is eager for local farmers to grow apples just for cider-making. But here's the problem: farmers get far less for the smaller, blemished apples used to make cider than they get for so-called dessert fruit, which commands a price around $25 a bushel. According to University of Vermont researcher Terry Bradshaw, apple growers in Vermont are being cautious about the emerging cider market. 

“There are some orchards in the state that are planted for this market,” said Bradshaw, who makes hard cider at his home in Calais, VT. “But nobody is putting in a sizable orchard just because the economics aren't really figured out yet.”

Production and infrastructure costs are lower for cider apple orchards, but it take several years for new orchards to become productive. Citizen Cider president Justin Heilenbach is confident that the market will adapt.

“Nobody ever wanted a whole crop grown for hard cider making, and now there’s a bunch of people that do,” Heilenbach said of Vermont’s craft cider makers. “What's going to happen with this is, like any other industry, as there's more money on the table, there will be more people that want to plant those orchards and there'll be more people that want to buy” the apples grown there.

The hard cider industry expects that in the next decade, cider will rise from 1 percent of the beer market to 5 percent. 

 

 

 

Budget day feels a lot like Groundhog Day

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

President Barack Obama is releasing his budget on Groundhog Day. You remember Bill Murray in the "Groundhog Day" movie, reliving the same day over and over?

President Obama was stuck in a routine, too. Year after year, his budget bowed to sequestration cuts. “There was the same script over and over again, where he was trying to put out a budget to meet the Republicans halfway,” says Mike Konczal, a fellow at the progressive Roosevelt Institute. 

He says this year, President Obama is departing from the script. In fact, in an op-ed in the Huffington Post, the President says his budget “will fully reverse the sequestration cuts.”

Konczal is delighted. “Yeah, I think it’s a great move,” he says. But even some Democrats say President Obama may be going a bit too off-script, and could risk alienating voters worried about the deficit.

“There are limits as to how far down the President can go down this road without incurring some political risks,” says Bill Galston, a former Clinton White House official and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. And the budget, of course, is mainly a political road map. No one expects Congress to approve it.

You bought a counterfeit sports jersey. So what?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

As soon as the clock ran down on Super Bowl Sunday, out came the preprinted commemorative t-shirts and hats. Sports memorabilia is a huge industry, but so is counterfeiting. Federal investigators seized nearly 20 million dollars’ worth of counterfeit hats, t-shirts, and other souvenirs ahead of the Super Bowl, in a year-long effort they dubbed “Operation Team Player.”

Alan Zimmerman, a professor of international business at the City University of New York Staten Island, says many consumers view knock-offs as a victim-less crime, believing they’re taking money from rich firms and rewarding a local manufacturer instead.

But counterfeiters can often be a part of larger criminal organizations.

“Counterfeit products are just a black market revenue stream for criminal organizations, to fund their large scale activities, everything from guns, drugs, violence, you name it,” says Bryan Cox, a spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the government agencies involved in Operation Team Player.

How do you solve a problem like censoring YouTube?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

Silicon Valley was once again on the spot in Europe last week. French president Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that Google and Facebook should be treated as “accomplices” of hate speech if they fail to block “extremist” content. A day later, the European Union’s counter terrorism chief said it was up to governments to flag “terrorist-related” videos on YouTube.

All this talk, as well as the disturbing proliferation of terrorist propaganda online, has raised questions about how sites like YouTube can screen what users upload. 

At the moment, a lot of this process is user-based. “This is a very human moment, where people look at something and say, 'That is completely inappropriate for our community,'” says Karen North, Director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at USC Annenberg. It’s our responsibility as a community to alert YouTube, she says.

Among the challenges of policing YouTube's content: the sheer volume of daily uploads — YouTube says 48 hours worth of video is uploaded every minute. There's also the fact that YouTube is all about user-generated content. Given this, North says it’s impractical to expect Google to monitor each upload, and then decide whether it's appropriate or not.

This is not a new debate. YouTube was in a similar soup back in 2012, when it was alleged that a video on the site sparked violence in the Middle East. There were calls back then for Google to curate its content far more.

There have also been suggestions of governments being more involved in this process. But North says such a development, especially in the U.S., would only result from “a long, complex negotiation.”

 

Obama's Budget Proposal Lifts 2013 Caps, Adds Billions In Spending

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 02:00

The president's $3.99 trillion proposal, released Monday, calls for more spending on domestic programs, infrastructure and defense — and includes tax hikes the new Congress is unlikely to approve.

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A post Super Bowl huddle up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:30
28-24

The final score of Sunday night's Super Bowl, which saw the New England Patriots win their fourth title with a last-second interception at the one yard line, following a miraculous play had nearly propelled the Seattle Seahawks to victory. It was a nail-biter, and that's on trend. The New York Times' Upshot points out that Super Bowls are getting more exciting over time, with most games in the past decade decided on a touchdown or less.

$20 million

That's how much in counterfeit sports memorabilia was confiscated in a sweep by Federal investigators a week before the Super Bowl. The fake hats, t-shirts, and other souvenirs were all printed in anticipation of the game's outcome. And while some believe they may be supporting local manufacturers by purchasing the goods,  a spokesman with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says revenue from the counterfeit industry often supports black market activities.

28.4 million

That's how many tweets were sent about the Super Bowl from kickoff to the end of the telecast, Twitter reported late Sunday night. The conversation peaked at 395,000 tweets per minute, when a goal-line interception clinched the game for the Pats at 20 seconds left. Twitter made a gorgeous map showing activity all around the world during the game.

$785,216.96

That's what it would cost to buy every item advertised during a Thursday Night Football game from last fall, according to an analysis from the Verge. This total comes from 115 that added up to a little less than an hour of ads. 

The Theft Of An Infant Son: In Pakistan, A Not Uncommon Crime

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

Shazia Zia's newborn baby boy was taken from a maternity ward less than a day after she gave birth in Islamabad, and the family, hospital authorities and police officials disagree over who's to blame.

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Fast-Sprouting Acorn Challenges PBS' British TV Dominance

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

The niche digital portal Acorn holds rights to some of the best-known British TV shows. David Folkenflik reports it's now streaming some of those shows on its own, in competition with PBS and the BBC.

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Here's How To End Iowa's Great Nitrate Fight

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

Des Moines, Iowa, wants to control nitrate pollution in nearby rivers. It's often called fertilizer runoff. But the best way to reduce it involves planting different crops, not using less fertilizer.

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Fight Back Against Parkinson's: Exercise May Be The Best Therapy

NPR News - Mon, 2015-02-02 01:02

Several times a week Mike Quaglia dons bright red boxing gloves and pummels a hundred-pound punching bag. What's unusual is he has Parkinson's disease and the boxing helps alleviate his symptoms.

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Obama Addresses Vaccinations, Other Issues In NBC Interview

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 21:49

President Obama encouraged parents to vaccinate their children and said the U.S. is doing everything it can to rescue a young woman held by the Islamic State, speaking in a wide-ranging interview.

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Heavy Fighting Resumes In Eastern Ukraine As Truce Talks Collapse

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 14:12

Russian-backed rebels are shelling a strategic rail hub in the Donetsk region a day after cease-fire discussions fell apart.

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The Success Of Fox's 'Empire' Reveals A Few Dos And Don'ts For TV

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 13:09

Fox's hip-hop drama is a growing hit that could rescue the network. In a fragmented marketplace, the TV industry is learning the value of creating shows for under-served audiences.

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To Save Two Colo. Cows, All It Took Was A Good Ice-Breaker

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 13:05

This week, the Fountain, Colo., Fire Department repurposed some firefighting tools for a chillier job: Rescuing cows that had fallen through a half-foot of ice into the freezing water of a local pond.

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For Colorado's Undocumented, The Wait At The DMV Just Got Longer

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 13:05

Last year, the state became the 10th to offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. This year, Colorado Republicans made it virtually impossible for those immigrants to get a slot at the DMV.

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Another Florida Case Puts Crosshairs On 'Stand Your Ground'

NPR News - Sun, 2015-02-01 13:05

Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman behind bars for three years for firing a "warning shot" near her estranged husband, was recently released. NPR's Arun Rath talks with Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union.

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