National News

Getting Hospice Care Shouldn't Have To Mean Giving Up

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 08:00

Medicare is trying a different approach in one experiment: Some hospice patients will still be able to get treatments aimed at prolonging life.

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Solving The Scourge That Is Slow Hotel Wi-Fi

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 07:54

Hotels are happy to charge you $300 a night for a stay, but their Wi-Fi speeds are often too slow to stream a movie. Now, two competing sites are trying to solve the problem.

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NCAA Reaches $75 Million Settlement In Head-Injury Lawsuit

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 06:55

The settlement, which a judge has to approve, also calls for a change in the way schools handle concussions, including when players can return to play following such injuries.

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Time To 'Girl Up:' Teens Fight For The Right To School, Soccer

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 05:55

Sure, they talk about boys. But mainly they talk about girls — and how to bring better education, health care and other opportunities to their sisters in poor and sometimes prejudicial countries.

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Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut; Sometimes You Just Drive One

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 05:39

After graduation, a group of college students landed a nutty job — quite literally. For the next year, they will don the monocle of Mr. Peanut and drive the Planters Peanut Nutmobile.

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White House Says Delayed Action On Climate Change Could Cost Billions

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 04:48

The White House says the cost of inaction outweighs the cost of implementing more-stringent regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

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Athletes Should Fear The Heat More Than The Heart Attack

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 03:47

It's hard not to worry about heart problems when running hard in hot weather. But heatstroke is a far bigger health risk, researchers say. Marathon organizers are trying to make races safer.

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China Puts Former Top Communist Party Official Under Investigation

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 03:42

Former security czar Zhou Yongkang is accused of "serious disciplinary violation," which often implies that criminal corruption charges will follow.

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Israel's Prime Minister Says Gaza War Could Be 'Prolonged'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 03:15

Benjamin Netanyahu called the operation in Gaza justified and asked Israeli citizens to prepare for a long conflict.

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PODCAST: Lobbying for tech

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-29 03:00

In spite of typically slower summer months, analysts are watching today's meeting of the Fed and wondering what the content of the forthcoming announcement will signal. Plus, the white house is arguing that global warming needs to be addressed for both the environment and the economy. More on that report. Plus, as tech companies get larger, so do their voices. More on a new crop of tech lobbyists who are hoping to shape policy. 

America's coal heads overseas

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-29 02:00

America is in a slow transition to cleaner energy, which means carbon-spewing coal power plants are high on the hit list. But we still mine lots of coal in America. Energy reporter Dina Cappiello has been looking into what happens to all that coal we're not burning here.

Click the media player above to hear reporter Dina Cappiello in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report guest host Mark Garrison.

A start-up incubator for veterans

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-29 02:00

Veterans often face unique challenges getting conventional employment when returning from military service; challenges which can be compounded when trying to found or staff their own business.

The Bunker, an incubator in Chicago opening later this year, looks to close that gap. Joseph Kopser is the CEO of RideScout, a company that has been selected to join.

“The first thing they have to do is learn the language,” he said. In fact, one of the chief benefits of an incubator that is veteran-focused is that it teaches participants the language of the business world, which becomes important when pitching the venture to others.

Additionally, he advised veterans reach out to former colleagues in the military who can vouch for their character. 

Click the media player above to hear Joseph Kosper in conversation with Marketplace Tech guest host Noel King.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of Joseph Kopser. The text has been corrected.

IPOs - why the frenzy ?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-29 02:00

The 20-plus companies that are looking to go public this week hope to collectively raise about $6.7 billion dollars, with about half of it for General Electric’s consumer lending firm Synchrony Financial.

"That's going to be a $3 billion IPO, the biggest we've seen since the May, 2012 IPO of Facebook," says Kathleen Smith, a principal with the IPO fund manager Renaissance Capital.  She labels Mobileye another one of this week’s "shiny objects." The company makes the technology that tells you when your car might hit the one in front of you. "It has about a 50 percent share of that market, very high growth and very profitable, so all investors are looking at that." 

Smith cautions that this week’s batch of potential IPOs is a big one for the market to digest.  

It’s also the right kind of market, says John E. Fitzgibbon, Jr. of  

"You’ve got to have the bull running down the street and you’ve got to have the wind at its back," he says.  

Fitzgibbon thinks this year might even be the biggest one for IPOs since the dot-com bubble, but he points out that a lot of the offerings are fetching discounted prices. This week's IPO frenzy is an "End of Summer sale" that he predicts is just getting started.

"It’s like Macy’s department store; if it doesn’t sell, mark it down and drop it to the basement."  

Who are all these companies, anyway? We rounded up the most notable IPOs from this record-breaking week and grouped the companies up according to their business.

Consumer finance
Synchrony Financial's IPO is not only the biggest offering of the week by far, but at about $3 billion it's poised to raise more than any IPO this year. Synchrony is GE's consumer finance arm, facilitating store-brand credit cards and financing programs for big-name retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart.

Of the this week's huge group of IPOs, more than half are for biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. The biggest player is Catalent, a multi-armed drug development and delivery company that's expected to offer 42.5 million shares at $19-$22 a share, according to Renaissance Capital. Catalent's nearly $1 billion deal dwarfs about a dozen other companies focused on everything from gene therapy to medical imaging to epilepsy treatment.

Mobileye is certainly a "shiny object" this week as it looks to raise half a billion dollars. The Israeli firm is the leading supplier of sensors that detect a potential collision. Investors are keeping a special eye on the company amid rumors of a potential partnership with Tesla to build self-driving cars.

Mobile gaming
It's no secret mobile gaming is big business, and developer IDreamSky has become a leader by adapting existing titles like "Fruit Ninja" and "Temple Run" for Chinese markets. That model has earned IDreamSky 100 million active users and $65 million in the year ending last March. They are looking to raise a little more than $100 million this week.

There are a handful of energy companies up for offering next week, but the largest is another big spin-off. Transocean Partners, LLC is a small portion of oil rig giant Transocean, which hopes to sell $350 million in shares. Spinning off Transocean Partner's three rigs in the Gulf of Mexico will reportedly offer Transocean more financial flexibility, but the Wall Street Journal notes this practice can be a tax dodge

Graphic by Shea Huffman/Marketplace

The latest acquisition for tech companies? Lobbyists

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-29 02:00

Tech companies are growing up. And, like a lot of teenagers, they want more control over how they’re treated. Now, those companies are taking steps to make sure they’re heard.

Last month, drivers for ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft flooded the California Capitol building. They were there to protest a bill that would toughen regulations on their industry. Senator Alex Padilla noted the discussion was one that wouldn’t have happened a few years ago.

“The wonderful challenge that we have on complex issues like this is, in large part, driven by technology and innovation and things that 50 years ago people wouldn’t have imagined, forcing important public policy questions,” Padilla said.

Now tech companies want to influence how these questions are answered.

Robert Callahan is the Executive Director of the California branch of the Internet Association. That’s a relatively new lobbying group that represents many large tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, Yahoo, Yelp, Uber and Lyft.   

The Association also lobbies on issues at the federal level. Callahan said there’s plenty to work on, like net neutrality and patent reform.

“But also just issues that you would never have thought about,” he said. “Like, what are the decedent rights to a social media account after the account holder passes away?”

But as tech companies start to pay expensive lobbyists, some are asking what that will ultimately cost their customers.

Timothy Karr is with Free Press, a group that works for what it calls a “free and open Internet.”  

“You know, in general, I don’t think corporate lobbyists are serving the interest of consumers,” Karr said.

He’s especially concerned with how media use is being regulated.

“People are listening to music, they are sharing video files. And because it’s become much more prominent in the way people use, share, and consume media, it also has a much higher profile in policy discussions,” he said.

And the growing clout of tech companies means they’ll likely have a larger role in future legislative discussions.

TSA crowdsources crowd problems

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-07-29 01:00

There’s a contest underway you may not know about. The Transportation Security Administration is offering $15,000 in prize money to anyone who can help it come up with a faster check-in system.

Some 1.8 million passengers fly daily across the U.S., and as the TSA knows all too well, many of them complain about long security lines and time-consuming pat-downs.

So, for three weeks, anyone can submit a proposal to help solve expected problems with TSA’s fast lane or “PreCheck” program, which the TSA "allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening." It seems to be doing well so far at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, says spokesman Andrew Sawyer.

“We’ve noticed that since PreCheck came to RDU a little over a year ago, we do see a lot of our customers using it,” said Sawyer.

As more people register for the pre-check system, it’s bound to get as clogged as the regular one that leaves travelers with no shoes and open laptops. 

Duke University Professor David Schanzer is director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He says getting ideas from the public could be a winning strategy.

“While $15,000 seems like a lot to win in a contest, in the scheme of federal contracting if you come up with some really good ideas and solutions, it could be a bargain,” said Schanzer.

It’s a bargain for the federal government which, by the way, charges $85 just to apply for that pre check-in program.

This isn't the TSA's first time reaching out online. While airport security might be crowded and brusque, the TSA's web presence is affable, helpful, and surprisingly self-aware.

Their blog (yes, they have a blog) features tips for any kind of traveler imaginable.

Pregnant? Transporting gun parts? Got bear repellent in your carry-on? All three? They have a guide for you. There's also a kids section, wherein an adorable dog family shows youngsters how to go through a checkpoint — or at least gives them a picture of a checkpoint to color while mom and dad put their shoes, belts and jackets back on.

But the best thing about the TSA's online footprint, by far, is its Instagram account. There, under the hashtag #TSACatch, the organization documents the strangest confiscated items. Each photo contains a detailed and sometimes irreverent explanation for the confiscation and how you can avoid having your own lipstick taser taken away. Ditto for grenades, two (2!) different sets of Batarangs, novelty alarm clocks that look like bombs, and more.

All the photos are culled from the TSA's comprehensive week-in-review blog posts, which are interesting reads themselves. The TSA also realizes the importance of pets on Instagram, and regularly features its K-9 unit. Check out some of our favorite posts below:

[<a href="//" target="_blank">View the story "The TSA's amazing Instagram" on Storify</a>]

Crews Are Containing Western Wildfires, But More Bad Weather's Ahead

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 00:55

Firefighters are making good progress on a number of destructive wildfires burning in the West. In Washington, fire crews are hoping to contain the largest fire in that state's history within the next week.

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Ruling Against D.C.'s Gun Law Sends Local Officials Scrambling

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 00:55

A federal judge struck down the city's ban on carrying handguns in public. The latest ruling follows a Supreme Court decision in 2008 that overturned the city's blanket ban on handgun ownership.

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U.S. Aid To Rebels In Syria: Too Little Too Late?

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 00:55

Washington Post reporter Liz Sly tells Renee Montagne that U.S. arms may be flowing to moderate Syrian rebels, but the aid seems to be too little too late to affect the course of the civil war.

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For Two Years, He Smuggled Photos Of Torture Victims Out Of Syria

NPR News - Tue, 2014-07-29 00:55

The ex-military photographer known only as Caesar took some of the images, which show thousands of dead regime opponents. Syria says they're fake; U.S. officials say they may be proof of war crimes.

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