National News

Walking 2 Minutes An Hour Boosts Health, But It's No Panacea

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 06:54

Sounds good, right? Add two minutes of walking to each hour of your day and your risk of death drops. Even walking to the coffee machine counts. But it's not enough to meet federal guidelines.

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Singer Ben E. King, Best Known For 'Stand By Me,' Dies At 76

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 06:46

Phil Brown, King's publicist, says the soul singer died of natural causes. King began his career with The Drifters, but it was "Stand by Me," released in 1961, that sealed his worldwide fame.

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How Vietnam Put Picking Presidents In The Hands Of The People

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 06:14

After the Vietnam era, it's hard to see how either party could dial back on its commitment to letting the people - at least those active in party voting - be the deciders of presidential nominations.

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Latino Panhandlers, Ted Cruz, And The Republican Push For Hispanics

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 05:57

At the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce this week, Sen. Ted Cruz called the community "fundamentally conservative," and added, "I don't think I've ever seen a Hispanic panhandler."

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Criminal Charges Could Come Today In N.J. Bridge Closures Scandal

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 05:41

Former Port Authority official David Wildstein is scheduled to appear in court at 11 a.m. ET. The case could have implications for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a likely GOP presidential candidate.

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What's Inside A 'Derby Pie'? Maybe A Lawsuit Waiting To Happen

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 05:39

Around Louisville, "derby pie" is de rigueur fare for the Kentucky Derby. But the pie's creators are real sticklers about what can be called a "derby pie" — and they're not afraid to sue over it.

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Brand-Name Medicines Dominate Medicare's $103 Billion Drug Bill

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 05:30

Federal officials released prescription histories of hundreds of thousands of doctors and identified the most common and costly drugs. Medicare spent the most on a purple pill for heartburn.

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From The White House: A Celebration Of Great Teaching

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 05:06

President Obama welcomes the Teacher of the Year ... and tells how a great educator shaped his own life.

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Freddie Gray Update: New Speculation On His Death, And Peaceful Protests

NPR News - Fri, 2015-05-01 04:30

The time Gray spent in a police van is the focal point in the inquiry over how he sustained an injury that would cause his death. A man who says he was in the van spoke to the media Thursday.

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PODCAST: Off to the races

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 03:04

April was a decidedly mixed month for the economy. We take a look back. Plus, if luck is a lady then some ladies may get lucky at the racetrack this season. Traditionally, horse racing is a field dominated by men: male owners, male trainers, male jockeys. But now, ladies want in.

Uber helps spring clean for free ... if you're patient

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 02:00

Uber, the ride-share private car company, is known for occasionally using its fleet of cars and drivers to make unusual deliveries: puppies, kittens, ice cream and roses, to name a few. 

This Saturday it will roll out its "spring cleaning" service again. The service connects users with a driver who will whisk bags of clothing to a Goodwill donation center for free. 

Zuhairah Washington, general manager of Uber D.C., says "surprise and delight campaigns" like these allow "people to experience Uber in a different way."

Users who want to clean out their closets need only pack their clothing into bags, fire up Uber, select the "give" option, and then ... wait.

Whitney Johnson, an actor in New York, is a regular Uber user. But when she tried to use the spring cleaning service last year, she waited for four hours. Her advice? "Start early, keep trying, don't give up."

Silicon Tally: the deal...with Hulu?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 02:00

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

This week, we're joined by Casey Johnston, who writes about technology and is an editor at The Wirecutter.

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Between derby and boxing, a big betting weekend

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 02:00

For sports gamblers, this Saturday will be like Christmas come early. Between the Kentucky Derby in the afternoon and the Mayweather—Pacquiao fight that evening, hundreds of millions of dollars will be wagered across the country.

In Nevada, the welterweight match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao could generate upwards of $50 million in bets, which would be a Nevada record.

Michael Grodsky is director of marketing for William Hill U.S., which operates more than 100 sports books in that state. He says, "80 percent of the bets that have been made are on Manny Pacquiao, and that's also 65 percent of the money that's in bet. So, we'll be rooting for Floyd Mayweather."

The Kentucky Derby also stands a chance of breaking betting records, but if you want to bet legally on other sports this weekend, Vegas is king.

Johnny Avello is known as the “Wizard of Odds” on the Vegas strip. His official title: executive director of race and sports operations at the Wynn Las Vegas.

"Well, if you like horse racing, boxing, NBA, NHL and baseball ... I guess it’s a gambler's delight," Avello says.

However, it’s still just a drop in the bucket in terms of total betting. I always estimate that Nevada's probably 3-4 percent of everything that's wagered in the U.S.”

Outside of horse racing, which is legal in other states, Avello says most sports betting in the U.S. is underground.

Why lower gas prices haven't spurred the economy

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 02:00

Gas prices have been under $3 dollars in most of the U.S. for six months now. Which put a load of unspent money in drivers’ pockets, available to spend. But that spending economic stimulus has hardly shown up.

Drivers who fill up can now leave gas stations with an extra $20 they didn't have to spend. Where does it go?

“At least a good portion of that has always been spent,” says Dean Maki, economist at Point72 Asset Management. “Consumers aren’t so disciplined they’re unwilling to spend additional income that they get. Typically they do spend at least a significant portion of that additional income."

But that spending hasn’t shown up in the numbers. Retail sales are tepid. One possibility is the splurge just isn’t here yet. Consumers have yet to be convinced low gasolines prices will last.

“Typically, consumers would want to wait for confirmation that low gasoline prices are here to stay,” Greg Daco of Oxford Economics says. “We still have yet to see the full benefit.”

That may come soon, now that the long winter’s over. But not every economist is expecting that.

“These predictions were wrong,” says economist Ed Hirs of the University of Houston and the oil and gas firm Hillhouse Resources. “There is no direct tie between low gas prices and GDP.”

Hirs argues that money not spent on gasoline has gone to pay off debt, and in some cases buy health insurance required by the Affordable Care Act. The Wall Street analysts who predicted a spending boom have a financial interest in such projections, Hirs says.

“They’re cheerleaders for the market,” Hirs says. “They are not going to stand up and say, ‘Hey this is temporary. Just take your 20 bucks and put it under your mattress.’ That doesn’t sell any shares or bonds.”



Not just fillies: women are becoming racehorse owners

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 01:59

Make a bad investment choice, and it can feel almost as if  you were kicked in the stomach. But then again, some investments can kick you in the gut — literally.

"They can kick, they can bite," says Sheila Rosenblum of her nine horses. Rosenblum is owner of Lady Sheila Stable and the head of the all women's racing syndicate Lady Sheila Stable Two. "I happen to have some very nice horses but some naughtier ones too," she says.

At 8:00 A.M. on a drizzly, muddy weekday morning, Rosenblum is at Belmont Racetrack on Long Island watching the grooms check her horses to make sure they're sound before they’re exercised. But aside from a small handful of women working as exercise riders, or in the stables, Rosenblum is the only non-equine female in sight.

Traditionally horse racing is a male dominated industry. But now, Rosenblum, and women like her, are changing the industry. All of the investors in both of the syndicates Rosenblum oversees are women.

“It's exhilarating, it's challenging," says Rosenblum of working in the mostly-male industry. "It's tough as heck. But I love it.”

According to the National Thoroughbred racing association, the average price of a racehorse is $60,000. But prices can go up into the millions. One of the most expensive horses ever sold, Seattle Dancer, went for $13 million as a yearling in 1985. But at his retirement, he had only netted about $150,000. Prospective owners beware.

“They’re going to have to find somebody to buy their horse. They’re going to have to find someone to train their horses," says Laurie Wolf, co-founder of the all female syndicate – Starladies Racing. "It's not like something you can just look up in the yellow pages," she says.

For newcomers, notes Wolf, horse racing can have a steep learning curve.

“It sort of seems like a secret club," she says. "Unless you're in the business, it seems like it's not an easy business to walk right into."

Last month, La Verdad, a horse owned by Sheila Rosenblum, won a $200,000 race. But Rosenblum acknowledges the business of horses is a risky one. While they may be huge and strong and fast, horses are also fragile. All it takes is one wrong step or a blown tendon.

“This is Wall Street for horses,” she says.

For owners, it can feel like they’re betting on the horses even when they’re not betting on the horses.

80 percent of horses don't earn a profit, says Dan Metzger, president of the thoroughbred owners and breeders association. But a lot of owners, he says, get into racing, not to make money. "Some people buy yachts. Some people join country clubs," he says. And some ... buy horses. Horse owners, says Metzger, are risk takers. "They're looking to hit lighting in a bottle. They're looking to hit the horse that's going to win a major race."

But since the financial crisis, investors have been less willing to take a gamble on a horse, says Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

"You're seeing people at every level, men and women, who are a little more risk averse, who are being a little more cautious," he says. As a result, more investors are seeking out opportunities to buy, not a horse, but a piece of one, investing in syndicates, like the kind that Sheila Rosenblum and Laurie Wolf run.

More investors, says Waldrop—men and women both—are good for business.

When she first became involved in the business of horses says Rosenblum, she faced pushback for being a woman in man's world. "It was a fact," she says. "I paid my dues. I'm still paying them."

And, she notes, many of the young thoroughbreds in the stable are also preoccupied by thoughts of females. But she says, it's a different breed, they're thinking about, altogether.








Off to the races!

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2015-05-01 01:44
$35 million

That's how much funding was raised by anonymous social networking app Secret. It'll now return some of that money after the company folded this week. Secret failed for some fairly standard reasons – tough competition, users losing interest, losing key employees and so on – but it's unusual because of just how much money they had. Most failed start-ups only raise $1 million or less before they go belly-up.

180 episodes

That's how many episodes were made of a little sitcom named Seinfeld. Heard of it? You're about to hear a lot more: it was announced this week that Hulu has bought the streaming rights for all 180 of those episodes. But you already knew that, didn't you? So why not head over to Silicon Tally, our weekly quiz on the week in tech, and prove your news savvy.


That's the portion of one Manhattan restaurant's business that goes to Seamless and Grubhub, the owner says. Those delivery apps dominate New York City and many other markets, but smartphone takeout is fertile territory, and many companies are lining up – and investing tons – to try and take a bite out of their business.

$50 million

By some estimates, that's how much could be generated in Nevada via bets placed on the Mayweather—Pacquiao fight taking place on Saturday Night. It's a big weekend for betting, what with the Kentucky Derby taking place that same afternoon. Some betting experts are anticipating it could be a record-breaking weekend for money brought in through bets placed on sporting events.


Speaking of the Kentucky Derby, $60,000 is the average price of a racehorse. Talk about an investment that could literally kick you in the gut, especially when you consider that 80 percent of horses do not earn money for their owners. But for some, buying a racehorse is a status symbol; more like buying a luxury yacht, or joining a country club. And these days, more women are joining the ranks of horse owners.

$7.2 billion

The global box office gross of movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not including "Avengers: Age of Ultron," which opens Friday. The "shared universe" – a collection of film franchises that share characters and storylines – is the new model major studios are taking on. Bloomberg breaks down the business logic behind these connected films, and how studios are scouring their intellectual property – Lego, Transformers, "Star Wars," Ghostbusters, DC Comics, etc. – to try and catch up with Marvel Studios.

Oakland Laws Could Limit Police Access To Body Camera Footage

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 23:38

Lawmakers want to prohibit police officers from viewing video from their body cameras before they write their reports. It's part of an effort to bring more transparency to policing.

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Ask The Vietnamese About War, And They Think China, Not The U.S.

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 23:30

Vietnam's war with the U.S. lasted just a decade, a mere historical blip compared to its centuries-long feud with China, which has been heating up recently.

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FSU Quarterback Jameis Winston Picked First In NFL Draft

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 16:17

Winston was a embroiled in controversy during his college days. He was accused — and ultimately never charged — of raping an FSU student. Now, he's been picked by Tampa Bay.

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Health Insurer Aetna Raises Wages For Lowest-Paid Workers To $16 An Hour

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-30 16:17

Aetna, the giant health insurance company, raised its minimum wage this month. CEO Mark Bertolini says he expects the raise will pay for itself through increased productivity.

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