National News

A New Orleans High School Adapts To 'Unaccompanied Minors'

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 23:23

About 68,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have entered the U.S. in the past year. We check back in with a school in New Orleans that took in 50 of them.

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New Orleans Educator Dreams Of Teaching Tech To Beat The Streets

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 23:21

After the shooting death of one of his students, New Orleans educator Jonathan Johnson was inspired to create a school that gives low income students practical skills to compete in high-tech fields.

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A New Internet Domain: Extortion Or Free Speech?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 23:20

New Web suffixes have popped up in recent years to supplement .com or .net. One of the newest — .sucks — has companies worried their reputations will take a hit, so they're buying up the addresses.

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Duke Beats Wisconsin, 68-63, To Win NCAA Men's Basketball Title

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 19:29

In a back-and-forth game, the Blue Devils eked out a 68-63 win, and an NCAA men's basketball championship, against the Badgers on Monday night in Indianapolis.

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Coroner Says Illinois Teen Was Shot Twice In The Back By Police

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 15:25

Police say they were called because of an argument or fight. Justus Howell, 17, ran from them and the coroner says one bullet pierced his liver, spleen and heart. A second bullet hit his shoulder.

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Report On 'Rolling Stone' Rape Story Further Roils A Troubled Campus

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 14:07

A review of a story about an alleged rape is the latest in a long saga for the U. of Va. The fraternity implicated in the story plans to sue, and advocates say fewer rape victims are coming forward.

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N.J.-Exxon Settlement: Some Say Proof Falls Short Of Stronger Case

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 14:07

Officials released the details of the state's proposed $225 million settlement with ExxonMobil, calling it a historically large payout. But environmentalists say the deal is worse than they feared.

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Gertrude Weaver, World's Oldest Woman, Dies At 116

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 13:12

She had assumed the title last week. The cause of death was complications from pneumonia. The world's oldest person is now Jeralean Talley, who lives in the Detroit area and was born May 23, 1899.

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Artists In Residence Give High-Tech Projects A Human Touch

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 13:04

A 3-D printing software company hands artists high-tech tools to craft human-centered projects. But it isn't the first program to pair the imaginative with the practical to inform great innovation.

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Obama: 'Misjudgment' To Make Iran Deal Contingent On Recognizing Israel

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 13:01

In an interview with NPR, the president dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand that Iran recognize Israel as part of a nuclear deal.

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'Visibly Pregnant' Girls Are Banned From School In Sierra Leone

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 13:00

The theory is that they could influence "innocent girls," says the minister of education. That's a belief that's held around the globe. Researchers have another idea.

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Go Ahead, Little Goat, Eat Some Poison Ivy. It Won't Hurt A Bit

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 12:08

Amazon's getting into the rent-a-goat business (for weed chomping). After all, goats are great at wiping out unwanted plants — even poison ivy. How do they do it?

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Will A Transplanted Hand Feel Like His Own? Surgery Raises Questions

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 12:01

A 20-year-old man born without fingers on one hand hopes a transplanted hand will give him more confidence. He knows the risks of such a visible transplant, but says, "It's something I always wanted."

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A Lesser-Known Human Trafficking Problem: Teenage Basketball Players

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:46

There is a lot of money to be made in bringing underage kids to the U.S. and trying to make them the next Kobe. But what happens to the rest of them?

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Rise of digital medial records leads to data theft

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:17

Consumers know to be careful about identity theft, but the growth of digital medical records has led to a rise in the theft of medical records.

Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer at TripWire, says that back in the day, hackers would just keep doing what they usually did: look for credit card and bank information inside medical records.

"But we've seen it evolve to target personal data much more heavily, and that's made medical records a much more attractive target," he says.

And then, they sit on it.

"Someone might have had their information stolen and sold to the highest bidder, and they won't know it's being used for another year, or two years, or three years," says Peter Robichau, an expert on health care information and security and author of "Healthcare Information Privacy and Security: Regulatory Compliance and Data Security in the Age of Electronic Health Records."

That's in contrast to what happens when a credit card number is stolen and used, since you often find out within seconds. Then there's the dark side of the whole question of medical data privacy concerning predictive consumer scores.

Frank Pasquale, a law professor at the University of Maryland, says data collected by devices and apps — and perhaps data stolen and resold — could end up in these scores, which, like credit scores, predict things companies might want to know about you.

"Their proclivity to commit fraud, their medication adherence score, their likely spend on healthcare score," Pasquale says.

These companies don't disclose how they calculate the score in this largely unregulated industry, Pasquale says, because they say it's a trade secret.

"They can say, 'look, we're not gonna tell anybody what's in there,'" he says.

How Do You Like Los Angeles' New Parking Signs?

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:11

Over the weekend, the city rolled out a parking-sign template as part of a pilot program to try to simplify what can often be a very confusing parking process.

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Getting married can cost you at tax time

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:09

When Adena DeMonte first met her boyfriend Dan, he put one thing out on the table: one day, he wanted to get married. His own parents had never tied the knot, and he'd grown up wanting to have marriage in his life.

“So from day one of our relationship, we literally had this conversation,” DeMonte says. “I basically committed to him that not then, but one day, I would get married.”

Fast forward nine years, they've got good careers in the tech industry, an apartment together in Mountain View, California and DeMonte's starting to feel ready to make good on that marriage promise.

There's one thing you should know about her: she's a total finance nut. So much so, that she thought she'd broach the marriage conversation with Dan by talking about tax savings.

“Kind of to tease him a little bit,” she says. “'If we were married, we would save x number of dollars this year and next year.'"

But, when DeMonte looked up that number of dollars online, she discovered that if she and Dan got married this year, they'd actually pay about $1,000 more in taxes than they would as single people. If they both make more money down the line, they could get an even higher tax penalty for being married.

The idea that marriage might cost her tens of thousands of dollars some day, when those dollars might sustain her if she lost her job or wanted to stay home with kids, suddenly didn't seem very responsible — which was pretty tough news to break to Dan.

“We both said, 'Wow that's crazy that the government is actually saying that if you are two people making the same amount of money married, versus two people making the same amount of money separate, you're actually going to end up paying more,'” she says.

The marriage penalty comes from an attempt to make taxes fairer. Up until the 1940s, couples would file as individuals, but around World War II, when the top income tax rate was very high, some rich couples were figuring out a trick. Say one spouse made a $100,000 a year and the other made nothing. If they split it, report that each spouse made $50,000, they'd dodge the highest tax bracket. A good deal for them, but unfair to less-savvy tax filers.

“So the result in 1948 was actually just to accept that benefit, and give it to every married couple,"says Stephanie McMahon of the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

The government decided to let every married couple file jointly.

“Every married couple could shift income from one spouse and split it between both spouses,” McMahon says.

But single people started complaining about the fairness of filing jointly, questioning why married people got to save money on taxes. In 1969, McMahon says, single individuals managed to get a reduced tax bracket compared to joint filers.

This created the little-known singles bonus. But there's a problem, if someone is in a marriage where both people make a similar amount of money, they don't get any benefit from shifting their income between spouses. So, they pay more taxes than everyone else.

The cutoffs for certain tax benefits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, are lower for two married people than they are for two single people. So lower-income married couples can get penalized too.

James Alm, an economist at Tulane University, found a small, but significant, impact of the marriage penalty on people's marriage decisions.

"A 10 percent increase in the marriage penalty decreases the likelihood of your getting married by one or two percent," he says.

But it's more about the principle of the thing to him.

“The main factor in regards to the marriage penalty is just kind of the notion of fairness,” he says. “Is it appropriate that people's taxes should change, positively or negatively, simply because they're getting married?”

Alm would prefer to return to a system where everyone files as an individual, a trend he sees in other countries right now.

Meanwhile, Adena DeMonte is still weighing her options.

“If anyone out there can convince me that I should get married, please do, because I want to get married. But it just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense right now," she says.

She says if Dan proposed today, she'd say yes. But instead of actually getting married, she'd ask to have a lawyer write up a marriage-like commitment agreement for them — which she admits, sounds terribly unromantic.

Baby bottle service: a club scene for kids only

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:08

Instead of house or trance music, it’s mostly pop and dance remixes blaring from the speakers at Cielo, a club in Manhattan’s trendy meatpacking district. The music’s loud, but not too loud. Club-goers in T-shirts and Converse sneakers fill the dance floor, coated in neon stickers with glowsticks looped around their necks and wrists.

While a team of professional dancers call out steps, 7-year-old Atlas Geirsson is busy covering himself in orange tape that glows under the club’s lights. In a word, he thinks the party is “awesome.”

Kids ranging from 3 to 12-year-olds, joined by their parents, came clubbing in New York to celebrate Halloween 2014.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

For 8-year-old Jeremy Vanderhook, it’s all about the novelty: “I’ve never been to a club before,” Vanderhook says.

“You have all of these beautiful venues that are vacant during the day,” says Jesse Sprague, who runs these events with his wife Jenny Song through their company, Cirkiz.

“We joke with the bouncer when we come in [to a club] for the first time,” he says. “We say, ‘You have the opposite job today, your job is to keep everyone in.’”

Sprague used to manage nightclubs and met Song at the Limelight two decades ago, at a party for fashion designer Jean Paul Gautier’s birthday. When they became parents and wanted to throw a party for their son’s first birthday — forget Chuck E. Cheese or a bouncy castle — a club seemed a natural choice for them.

The positive feedback from their guests gave them the idea to develop a business around kids’ parties. Their model is relatively simple: rent the clubs during the day when they’d usually be closed, hire entertainers, add some decorations, offer food and charge for admission. A single person costs $20 with group packages topping $1,000 or more.

Kids dance at a New York club during a party organized by CirKiz last October.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Cirkiz’s last three monthly parties have sold out at 300 spots each. That’s encouraged Sprague and Song to look for opportunities to expand, perhaps to larger clubs and other cities.

Mom Kelvia Rosario comes to the grown-up version of Cielo every couple of months — it’s one of her favorite nightspots. When she heard they were hosting kids’ parties, she decided to bring her five-year-old son Ociel. 

Ociel, dressed in a button -own shirt, was practically hugging his mom’s leg at the edge of the dance floor, not yet ready to join in. For some kids, club life takes a little getting used to.

A robot entertainer delights kids at a party hosted in a nightclub for Halloween 2014.

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Sandwich Monday: Pizza-Flavored Energy Paste

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:06

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try a new food for athletes: liquid pizza. It's Clif Bar's "energy food" made with tomatoes, carrots, quinoa, sunflower seed butter and sugar.

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Landing on a value for the United States

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-06 11:06

It might just be the the real estate story to end all real estate stories.

There's a new paper out from the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the Commerce Department about the value of the land in the United States.

Well, the 48 contiguous states, at least.

It all adds up to 1.89 billion acres, worth a grand total of approximately $23 trillion. California is cited as the most valuable state, and Wyoming the least.

The federal government owns 24 percent of all the land by area, but just 8 percent by dollar value.

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