National News

When it comes to benefits, the poorest get less

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 04:37

A new study finds a surprising pattern as to the way benefits to the poor are given out in America – the very poorest are receiving less. Johns Hopkins economics professor Robert Moffitt, who crunched welfare numbers over several decades, joins Marketplace’s Mark Garrison to explain. Click on the audio player above to hear more.

Russian Rocket Fails After Launch, Breaking Up Over China

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 04:32

With an expensive communication satellite as its payload, a Russian Proton-M rocket broke apart during its third stage last night. The unmanned rocket failed at an altitude of 100 miles.

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Health insurers pull back the curtain on pricing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 04:00

A website launching early next year might help you decide whether you can afford to swap out your bum knee. A group called the Health Care Cost Institute will publish information on the price and quality of medical services, courtesy of data from insurance giants UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, and Humana.

"The ideal scenario is that it almost gives you an active stock ticker of what conditions are moving in what direction and their cost," says Steve Parente, the governing chair of the Health Care Cost Institute and a professor of health finance and insurance at the University of Minnesota.

Parente says price information is more critical to consumers than ever as out of of pocket medical costs continue to soar.

If consumers, armed with price information, decide to avoid excessively costly procedures, that helps insurers, too; they can hold down costs more easily.

"It's really a way, at the highest level, to create a more efficient system with an informed consumer at the center of it," Tom Beauregard, an executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group, says of the Health Care Cost Insitute's forthcoming website.

Nicholas Bagley, assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, says consumers don't necessarily act any differently when offered publicly available information about the quality of health care providers.

"But it's possible, given the new high-deductible environment for health insurance," he says, "that they'll pay more attention to price information."

Narendra Modi: From Humble Start To India's Likely Prime Minister

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 03:55

In a country known for political dynasties, Modi's rise has been stunning. He's praised for making his Gujarat state an economic powerhouse, but religious riots there in 2002 leave some uneasy.

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Landslide Win Puts Opposition Party In Charge In India

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-16 03:26

Defying expectations of a close vote that would require a coalition government, opposition leader Narendra Modi and his BJP party won India's election outright, by a huge margin.

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Gas prices seem to be falling (for now)

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 02:16

After a steady rise since February, gas prices are leveling off, and even dropping in parts of the country. But the relief is only temporary.

Still, it should come as no surprise. Why? Because this is pretty much how gas prices play out every year.

Typically, gas prices typically bottom out in January. By spring, refineries start to go offline for maintenance -- so prices tend to increase.

Gas prices drop again before the summer driving season (where we are right now), only to go back up yet again during the summer.

AAA's Michael Green says the boom in domestic oil production is also playing a factor.

"Prices aren't as volatile than they were in the past," Green says.

Archaeology and business in London's 'Big Dig'

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 01:00

Europe's biggest construction project is currently underway in London: a new 73-mile long rail link passing underneath the British capital.

Crossrail – as it's called – will bring the city's transport system into the 21st century, increasing its rail capacity by 10 percent and carrying over 200 million passengers every year. But tunneling deep under a historic city like London means burrowing into the past.

"Crossrail is actually the largest archaeological dig that this country has seen in many,many years," observes the project's director Andy Mitchell.

Working alongside Crossrail's tunnel engineers, the company's small, in-house team of archaeologists has – so far – carried out dozens of excavations. Ten thousand items have been discovered from the Stone Age to the Roman period and through to the Victorian Era. The latest find – skeletons of victims of the plague or Black Death that swept through Europe in the 14th century – is causing real excitement in academic circles:

"It's fascinating stuff for us, giving us an insight into what the population was like in those years," says Don Walker of the Museum of London. "The find could shed further light on the biggest catastrophe to hit this city, causing huge social change. The Black Death wiped out perhaps half the population. Everything changed. Labor became scarce. And that's why there are theories that the plague was responsible for ending feudalism."

Crossrail is in the business of building a rail link but like all companies carrying out major construction projects on historically important sites in Britain it is legally obliged to employ the services of professional archaeologists.

"Virtually all of the archaeology in Britain these days is actually done as a response to a commercial development , funded by the developers themselves," says the Museum's Nick Elsdon.

Crossrail is spending $9 million on sifting and preserving the artifacts and human remains that it has come across; that's out of a total construction budget of $25 billion. A small price to pay – it says –for delving into the city's extraordinary past.

"You know this is a historic project," says Crossrail's Andy Mitchell. "We're building the future's history. So I think we engineers have a natural empathy with archaeology , certainly in a town like London."

Most archaeology in Britain is funded by commercial developers. Photo credit: Crossrail

A billion shirts, nothing to wear! It's Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 01:00

It's time for Silicon Tally. How well have you kept up with the week in tech news?

This week we're joined by Terry Bush, a Marketplace Tech listener from South Bend, Indiana. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-a-billion-shirts-nothing-to-wear", placeholder: "pd_1400191724" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

Marketplace heads to London

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-16 01:00

From exploring the chasm between the top  1 percent of Americans and those struggling to get by, to the housing bubble (or lack thereof) in Phoenix, Arizona, Marketplace works to find the intersection between the facts on the page and the choices people make as a result. And it’s not news that these issues aren’t inherently "American." Someone on the other side of the globe understands just as well as anyone else the difficulty of trying to feed a family on not enough pay.

Here in the U.S., that manifests itself in the struggle to survive on minimum wage and getting by on food stamps. And certainly we’re not the only ones with CEOs of companies getting paid disproportionately more than the people who work for them.

The question isn’t if our foreign compatriots worry about the same things we do, but how these issues manifest for them and to what degree.

So, we’re headed overseas -- to London, specifically.

All next week, Marketplace Morning Report will be broadcasting from the BBC, taking a closer look at some of these issues in our series Mind the Gap.

We’ll be looking at the increasing disparity between the haves and the have-nots in the U.K. In fact, the numbers are pretty staggering -- the five wealthiest families in the U.K. have more money than the poorest 20 percent. And new data show a 163 percent increase in the number of people who were given emergency food supplies. And with significant numbers of poorer Londoners being priced out of the city and having to relocate to cheaper parts of the country, we’ll examine how folks are feeling about being squeezed out by wealthy foreigners.

From an American perspective, this all sounds awfully familiar.

Plus, we’ll be joined by guests like former board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, Jamison Firestone, to talk about cooling business ties between London and Russia. We’ll also talk to BBC reporter Rob Broomby about the Scotland Independence Referendum, and what London and Scotland have to gain and lose depending on the outcome.

It’s all part of Marketplace applying what we do best to the perspective of our friends across the Atlantic. So steep a pot of tea, brush up on the lyrics to “God Save the Queen,” and don your favorite football team’s jersey (no, not that football): Marketplace Morning Report is headed to London.

Corruption In Ukraine Robs HIV Patients Of Crucial Medicine

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 23:43

Because of corruption involving medical officials, the government and middlemen, only half the people with HIV get medicine. One man lost his wife while they were both on a waiting list for treatment.

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Are Filmmakers Using Drones Illegally? Looks Like It

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 23:41

The film industry is using drones for movies and commercials, even though federal regulators are still working on rules that would permit the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to make money.

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Before 'Brown V. Board,' Mendez Fought California's Segregated Schools

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 23:39

Latino families sued four Orange County school districts over school segregation. The case, Mendez v. Westminster, ended school segregation in California seven years before Brown v. Board.

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Amid Complaints, Lawmakers Seek More Oversight For Border Agents

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 23:35

Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas says he routinely gets complaints of Border Patrol agents' unprofessionalism or abuse. O'Rourke and his colleague say training hasn't kept up with the growth of the agency.

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Turkish Minister: Mine Death Toll May Be About 300

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 23:26

Turkey's energy minister says he hopes a drop in the level of noxious fumes inside a devastated coal mine will make it easier to reach miners who are still unaccounted for.

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India Opposition Wins Landslide, Early Tally Shows

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 22:35

The Congress party, which has been at the center of Indian politics for most of the country's history since independence from Britain, conceded defeat several hours into the vote counting.

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My worst boss was a woman. As was my best boss.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 22:12

I've been struggling with both whether and how to write about Jill Abramson's departure from the New York Times, and the broader questions it raises for women in leadership roles.

Yes, we in the media world are obsessed with this story. But the Times still holds sway over our collective imaginations about what it means to do great journalism. So when something blows up there, we're riveted.

And the Times still – even in the digital age – is the paper of record. It's almost a public square where ideas are thrashed out, and even Vladmir Putin writes an occasional op-ed. This is no ordinary office.

So when "brusque," or "pushy," or other words that could describe a man, but so very rarely do, are attached to Abramson, it creates an instant and inescapable echo. Janet Yellen-Angela Merkel-Hillary Clinton-Meg Whitman-Elaine Chao... this? We're doing this again?

We may never know what role gender played in Abramson's firing. Only she and her boss, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., are privy to the all the details. A story by The New Yorker's peerless media reporter Ken Auletta says Abramson did indeed complain of lower pay compared to male peers, including the man she replaced.

And the fallout is inescapably gendered, again making women wonder why we (I can't write about this without admitting some personal stake), often feel we have to walk a tightrope the higher we rise at work. Be excellent, but not off-putting. Speak up for yourself and ask for a raise, but don't be too aggressive.

I hashed out some of the contradictions awhile back with the New York Times's own reporter Tara Siegel Bernard for Marketplace Money.

There's been a boom in books about women in the professional world lately. Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman's The Confidence Code. And the target audience is always women. You, female: Here's how you get better at navigating this maze. Here's how you trick the system.

Never you, company. Or you, university. Or you, hospital. That would be harder, of course.

But I do wonder what it would say to little girls if we placed the onus somewhere else but on their shoulders.

Of course it's also possible that Abramson is being painted with gendered language AND was also... not a great boss. And that's one of the trickiest parts of all of this. We can't know because there isn't a way to measure the situation in a vacuum free of gender.

All I know is that one of my worst bosses was female. As was my absolute best. And I know I'd like to see more of them. And then maybe the adjectives won't have quite as much power.

Minnesota's Legislature OKs Medical Marijuana

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 15:59

The state is poised to become the 22nd to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

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The latest cryptocurrency: Guncoin

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-15 15:26

From the pages of cryptocoinsnews.com, this item: Guncoin is now a thing.

It went live on May 1. As a result -- and this is a quote from the Guncoin website -- of "the love of firearms, computing and investing."

They say a maximum of 500 million coins can ever be mined.  In their words: "A portion of that (10% / 50 million) was set aside to be given as rewards for crowdfunding and IPCO contributors."

Yeah. Guncoin.

 

 

 

A Complicated First: A Black Editor Takes The Helm At The Gray Lady

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 14:47

When The New York Times removed Jill Abramson from the top editor spot at the paper — the first woman in the role — the publisher replaced her with Dean Baquet — the first black person in that job.

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Why Jupiter's Red Spot Isn't As Great As It Used To Be

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-15 14:31

The most prominent feature on the solar system's largest planet has been shrinking for years, and NASA says it's now smaller than ever.

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