National News

U.S. And Canadian Women's Hockey Brings Plenty Of Heat To The Ice

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-11 00:44

The two teams will meet Wednesday in an early round game, but they have an intense rivalry that has often turned to heated clashes on the ice. The players are neither embarrassed nor proud of the fighting, but, yes, it could happen again.

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With An Air Bag, Help During An Avalanche Is A Cord-Yank Away

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-11 00:31

Air bags stored in backpacks are saving the lives of backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers. They look something like car air bags, but they work on an entirely different principle. These keep you safe simply by turning you into a larger object, and that helps you rise to the top of debris.

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With An Air Bag, Help During An Avalanche Is A Cord-Yank Away

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-11 00:31

Air bags stored in backpacks are saving the lives of backcountry skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers. They look something like car airbags, but they work on an entirely different principle. These keep you safe simply by turning you into a larger object, and that helps you rise to the top of debris.

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Tesla's 'fair price' China strategy - will it work?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-11 00:25

There’s a reason the big automakers charge as much as they possibly can in China for their top end models: China’s rich are always willing to spend more.

"From the point of view of having something everybody knows is expensive, as a means to show you’ve made it," says Michael Laske, CEO of the vehicle testing company AVL China, "I think people are more inclined to want to spend higher prices."

But Tesla announced the price of its Model S electric car in China will only be 50 percent higher than its U.S. price.  That's a far cry from typical pricing behavior by foreign automakers in China, which are known for marking up the price of their high-end vehicles by up to 200 percent.

Tesla says the 50 percent markeup is necessary to account for unavoidable taxes and shipping costs.

"It's kind of a good marketing tool," says Jack Perkowski, founder of JFP holdings. "But they need that because they have some other shortcomings they have to overcome."

Like trying to sell electric vehicles in a market where ‘environmentally conscious’ is largely regarded as a foreign spending habit.

But forget Chinese consumers, says AVL’s Michael Laske. China’s government is the one at the controls of the economy, and it wants more electric vehicles on China's expanding network of expressways.

"I think the Chinese government strategy is to try be a market leader in the electrification area," says Laske, "So any company that comes in and supports this approach I think will be welcomed."

Laske says Chinese automakers are five years behind their foreign counterparts in internal combustion engine technology, and the government would prefer to leapfrog over gas guzzler,s and focus their energies on developing innovative electric vehicles - a smart choice, given China's big supply of rare earth metals like lithium, which is used to make batteries for electric cars.

Tesla plans to open operations in a dozen Chinese cities, and expects to achieve a third of its overall growth from China by the end of this year.  It's an ambitious goal for a newcomer, but one that Laske thinks is reachable. After all, Tesla only sold around twenty thousand cars last year, and China now has more than a million millionaires – many of them looking for the newest flashy sports car.

California Given 2 More Years To Reduce Prison Numbers

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 22:23

Federal judges on Monday gave California two more years to meet a court-ordered prison population cap. It's the latest step in a long-running lawsuit aimed at improving inmate medical care.

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Report Links Sprinter Tyson Gay's Doping To Anti-Aging Cream

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 18:45

Tyson Gay, the American track star whose comeback was derailed by failed drug tests in 2013, is believed to have used a cream containing banned substances he obtained from an Atlanta anti-aging specialist, according to ProPublica and Sports Illustrated.

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Another day, another delay for the Affordable Care Act

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 17:06

Another day, another delay for the Affordable Care Act.

The White House announced today that it's going to give medium size companies -- places that have between 50 and 99 workers -- an extra year before they have to offer health insurance to full-time workers. 

Bigger companies -- with 100 or more people -- also got a break on how quickly they need to provide coverage for their workers.

Basically: Just about everyone gets a little longer to figure this all out.

The Norwegian Athlete Who's One Medal Away From History

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 16:19

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is a biathlete competing for a record 13th medal — which would make him the most decorated athlete ever at the Winter Games. No one has ever been so good for so long in his sport. "He's 40 years old, and he's motivated like an 18-year-old," says one expert.

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GM Says New CEO Will Earn 60 Percent More Than Male Predecessor

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 15:55

Based on erroneous figures, the automaker was criticized for paying Mary Barra too little. To correct the record, GM took the unusual step of releasing full details of their new CEO's pay package.

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Time-Delay Question: When Do Announcers Tape?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 15:33

The Winter Olympics brings up many questions about the sports themselves. But people are also wondering whether TV announcers use the U.S.-Sochi time gap to improve their coverage.

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Slopestyle Skier Devin Logan Keeps It Cool, But She's 'All In'

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 15:31

Much of the attention on the Olympic slopestyle events has focused on snowboarders, but the downhill event is also done on skis. Devin Logan enters Tuesday's competition as the world's top-ranked female freestyle skier. And at 20, she'll compete before she can legally celebrate with a beer.

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Debt Ceiling Standoff? Not This Time

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 15:18

When Congress hits its debt ceiling at the end of the month, don't expect another big confrontation. House Republicans don't have the appetite for it and can't even agree on what points to negotiate.

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U.S. Resets Obamacare Deadline For Some Businesses To 2016

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 15:01

In the second delay for medium-size businesses under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration says firms with 50-99 workers now have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide health insurance. Larger companies must offer the coverage in 2015.

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Man Sentenced To 30 Years In Slaying Of Border Patrol Agent

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 14:22

The killing uncovered a botched gun-walking scheme known as "Fast and Furious." Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a Mexican national, is the first convicted in the shooting death of agent Brian Terry.

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9 ways to save on rental cars

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:55

Listeners wanted to know how rental car companies make money. The answer got us wondering -- what if they're making extra money off of us?

There are a lot of ways to pay less than top dollar on your next rental car. Here are a few tips based on our interview with Jack Gillis, director of public affairs at the Consumer Federation of America, and author of The Car Book.

1) Don’t go for a size -- or model -- upgrade. When’s the last time your suitcases didn’t fit in the trunk of a car? If you don’t need a mid-sized car or SUV, and an economy or compact is available, make sure to ask for it.  You’ll save on gas in a smaller car, too.

2) Ask for a free upgrade. If you want a bigger car, or more options free of charge, the counter clerk may do it.

3) Bring accessories, don’t rent them. A sophisticated GPS device might cost $7 to $9 per day to rent, and it only costs $100 or so to buy. After the first ten GPS rentals, the rental-car company is making pure profit from you. So bring your own. If you have a smart phone, buy a $10 dash-mount and use that to navigate.

4) Bring your own car seat. But make sure it’s not more expensive as airline carry-on than the additional rental cost.

5) Fill the tank yourself before returning the car. It’s the cheapest gasoline option. Paying for a full tank in advance is only worth it if you return the car with the gas tank completely empty.

6) Decline the additional insurance. You probably don’t need it if you own a car and carry private auto insurance yourself. Make sure to check with your insurance company to verify your coverage. Your credit card company may offer additional coverage, too.

7) Shop online early (and often) for rental deals. If you don’t like the rates for given dates at a given airport, make a reservation and then shop again days or weeks later. Because of demand-pricing, if rental-reservations are slack for a specific time-period, the rates are likely to go down to attract more business. Typically there is no penalty for cancelling a rental reservation made directly with the rental company.

8) Use online services like Priceline and Orbitz. Bid on rental cars using these and other services to get a better deal. A warning, though: These reservations may have to be paid in advance and will likely not be refundable.

 9) Make sure to use affinity discounts. AAA and Costco memberships may get you a better deal.

That's Just Like 'Her': Could We Ever Love A Computer?

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:53

Joaquin Phoenix stars in the film Her, in which his character falls in love with an operating system. Will artificial intelligence evolve to that point? Apple's computerized assistant Siri clearly isn't there yet. This is what else needs to happen before we get there.

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Stuart Hall, 'Godfather Of Multiculturalism,' Dies

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:50

Sociologist and public intellectual Stuart Hall, who helped shape conversations about race and gender, has died at 82. For decades, the Jamaican-born Hall taught at Britain's Birmingham University.

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Sandwich Monday: Subway's Fritos Chicken Enchilada Sub

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:34

For this week's Sandwich Monday, we try the new Fritos-laced offering from Subway. It's the latest creation in the Sandwich Efficiency Movement, in which side dishes become part of the main dish.

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Will Missouri football player Michael Sam get drafted?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:33

An athlete's sexuality isn't usually a business story.

But when University of Missouri football player Michael Sam announced he was gay to ESPN and the New York Times, it made some wonder if it would hurt his chances in the NFL draft later this year.

Sam is widely known to be a talented defensive player.

"He is one of the more decorated players you'll find in college football this season," says Holly Anderson, staff writer at ESPN's Grantland.

Anderson rattles off a list of Sam's achievements: being named a First Team All-American, winning Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC, getting voted Most Valuable Player by his own teammates -- after telling them he was gay.

"It doesn't seem like there would ever be a perfectly ideal time to do this," says Anderson about Sam's announcement, only weeks before the Combine, but months before the draft.

The National Football League is a business -- and Anderson says it's beginning to make business sense to welcome players without hesitations over sexuality. She points to the Mizzou team's reaction to the announcement, including players bragging about the team's "family environment" in support of Sam's announcement.

But the real implications for Sam's future aren't clear, though Anderson leans on the side of confidence. She says some teams may see Sam as a risk worth taking, while for others, it could be a non-issue.

"And realistically, we also don't know that there aren't teams feeding negative information about him, so they can get him at a steal."

Young And In Love? Thank Mom And Dad, At Least A Little

NPR News - Mon, 2014-02-10 13:16

How well people got along with their parents as teenagers affects how satisfied they are with romantic relationships as young adults. But if you were a rebellious teen, don't fret. Researchers say it's just one of many factors that influence your romantic life.

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