National News

Postcard From Mexico: Mother Clings To Hope That Students Are Still Alive

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 10:25

Mexican authorities recently identified the remains of one of the 43 students believed killed by drug traffickers working with police. Families are having a tough time believing the official story.

» E-Mail This

Coding in classrooms

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 10:16

Marketplace Tech Report host Ben Johnson chats with Adriene Hill about the Hour of Code, code.org, and why some classrooms are rushing to add coding to the curriculum. 

Click play above to hear the interview

CIA Chief Brennan Defends Agency After Senate's 'Torture Report'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 10:13

His comments come two days after the Senate Intelligence Committee released the executive summary of its report on the agency's interrogation practices.

» E-Mail This

'Pineapple Express' Brings Winds, Rain To Northern California

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 08:09

There are power outages and school closures, as well as flight and transit delays. But the system will provide some relief to farmers affected by a three-year drought.

» E-Mail This

Fidel Castro Awarded China's Confucius Peace Prize

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 07:08

The award was set up in 2010 after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Chinese dissident. Chinese media said the former Cuban leader was honored because he didn't use force in foreign relations.

» E-Mail This

Does Snoring Leave Tots More Vulnerable To Childhood Obesity?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 06:54

Young kids who don't get enough shut-eye, or who are noisy breathers when they doze, are more likely to have weight issues as adolescents, a British study suggests.

» E-Mail This

Wilbur Goes To Work: New, Very First-Class Video On Village Life

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 06:47

In his last video, he dunked a chicken. Now Wilbur tests his workaday skills: balancing a water jug on his head, climbing a coconut tree, doing laundry the very old-fashioned way.

» E-Mail This

A Prediction For How 'Serial' Is Going To End

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 05:51

In part one of a roundtable on the Podcast Everyone's Talking About, Matt Thompson makes the brave and foolhardy decision to predict the conclusion.

» E-Mail This

Quiz: TMI? No such thing

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 04:58

A majority of Americans say the internet and cell phones improved their learning abilities, according to the Pew Research Internet Project.

Dick Cheney On Senate Torture Investigation: 'The Report Is Full Of Crap'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 04:40

The former vice president defended the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects and said he would "do it again in a minute."

» E-Mail This

U.S. Says It Has Closed Its Final Detention Center In Afghanistan

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 03:54

The U.S. said it closed its detention center at Bagram, ending a controversial chapter in the country's history. The U.S. said it no longer holds any prisoners in Afghanistan.

» E-Mail This

Debunking Vaccine Myths Can Have A Surprising Effect

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 03:37

People concerned about potential flu vaccine side effects may be less likely to get the shot after learning that their worries are misplaced than they were to start with.

» E-Mail This

Medical bills, bills, bills

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 03:00

43 million Americans have overdue medical debt on their credit reports, according to a new report out today by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This means about one in five credit reports contain medical debt that’s been turned over to a collection agency, often dragging down consumers’ credit scores.

Unlike a credit card bill or an auto loan, medical bills often takes people by surprise, says Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center.

“Nobody chooses to say, ‘Tomorrow, I’m going to go the emergency room for an appendectomy,’” she says.

“Many people who walk into doctor’s office have absolutely no idea expense they’re about to incur,” adds Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a consulting firm.

Even if patient do ask, it can be difficult to get an answer.

“You’re in a system that is not ready to tell you how much things are going to cost,” says Mendelson.

Moreover, uninsured consumers often pay the highest rates for services, which they can’t afford.

For those patients with insurance, Wu says “there are billing errors [and] the providers might use the wrong codes. What happens is that if the bill gets too old, it automatically gets sent to a debt collector.”

That can ding consumers’ credit scores, which impact more than just interest rates and loan applications, says Susan Grant, with the Consumer Federation of America.

“It can be used by employers to decide whether or not to hire you, by landlords to decide whether or not to rent to you, by your insurance company to determine you rates," she says.

The CFPB is currently reviewing debt collection processes and will require the major credit reporting agencies to submit reports on how consumer disputes are handled.

 

PODCAST: New profits for drug cartels

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 03:00

A company arrives on the NY stock exchange today that hopes to disrupt how people borrow money. Plus, more on the news that Google News will shut down operations in Spain. And a new reminder today that violent crime and clever business can go hand in hand. We check in from time to time with our colleagues at Univision News, and they've been probing ways Mexican and Colombian drug cartels are diversifying into additional lines of work. 

In Hong Kong, Police Clear Final 'Occupy' Protest Site

NPR News - Thu, 2014-12-11 02:37

After months of acts of civil disobedience to demand democratic reforms, police cleared the final bastion of what's come to be known as the Umbrella Revolution.

» E-Mail This

Google News to shut down in Spain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 02:00
3.5 million visitors

That's how many visitors Google News in Spain receives per month. Google announced it would be shutting down Google News in Spain in response to a new law that would charge the news service every time content from Spanish newspapers and publishers appeared.

252

The total mentions of waterboarding, and other interrogation methods involving water or temperature in the Senate's long-anticipated CIA torture report. The Washington Post published a graphic letting users explore all instances of "enhanced interrogation" described in the report. Or, if you'd prefer, here's a visualization of the report's redactions.

$4.5 billion

That's how much Lending Club, the leading online-lending-marketplace, could be valued at after its IPO on Thursday. It will be the first among several fast-growing financial start-ups expected to go public in the peer-to-peer lending industry.

300 million users

Instagram passed that benchmark Wednesday, edging out Twitter and getting that much closer to Mark Zuckerberg's billion-user gold standard. Comparing social networks isn't a perfect science, but Re/Code has a look at how active users compare across services. 

Re/code

42.9 million

That's how many Americans have unpaid medical bills according to the findings of a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That's nearly 20 percent of consumers.

$634 million

Universal's cash flow for the first nine months of 2014, putting the studio on track for its most profitable year ever. What's notable is that Universal did it without a big summer tent pole, Forbes reported. The studio's film slate, which is nearly complete, was full of projects with modest budgets. There weren't any earth-shattering successes or flops, but lots of return on investment.

Drug cartels find new ways to make money

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 02:00

Mexican and Colombian drug cartels are diversifying their sources of income, according to a new investigative report from Univision News. The report, “Los Nuevos Narcotesoros” (New Narcotreasures), details how illegal mining of gold and iron ore is fast becoming a profit center rivaling that of drug trafficking.

Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio speaks with Gerardo Reyes, director of Univision’s investigative news unit, about the business and violence behind illegal mining.

Click on the audio player above to hear more.

Spanish speakers can learn more on Twitter via @UniNoticias.

An illegal mining site in Peru.

Univision

Miner vs Miner: A different kind of mineral conflict

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 02:00

Biyamungu Ngalikyana, in his mid twenties, sports shiny white rubber boots and a mining helmet as he walks down a dirt road in the mining town of Luhwindja in South Kivu, DRC. A former Mai Mai rebel fighter, he now digs for gold hundreds of feet beneath the surface. He’s what’s known as an ‘artisinal miner,' which means he’s just a regular person with hand tools, as opposed to a mechanized industrial outfit.

Mining in Eastern DRC has, over the past two decades, become an important source of revenue for individuals and towns during periods of insecurity and war. There are an estimated half million artisanal miners in Congo. At Luhwindja, 6,000 people in this town depend on the gold in the hills.

Perhaps not for much longer.

“Banro comes and tells us to leave fairly regularly,” says Ngalikyana. 

Banro is an industrial mining company that has held concession rights to this land for decades. 

“These miners are a handicap,” says Maitre Crispin Mutwedu, in charge of stakeholder relations for Banro. “The law that says no [outside] miner is allowed to work inside these areas covered by the concession, and yet every time we show up at a place, we find we were beat to it by several years by artisanal miners.” 

The Democratic Republic of Congo has granted thousands of mining concessions to industrial mining companies over the years. Industrial mines, when they can operate in conflict free areas, can prevent minerals from seeping into the black market or funding armed groups. They also provide tax revenue or infrastructure construction services. 

They do not, however, come close to providing the kind of employment that less efficient hand-mining provides to communities. And in regions that have been courting war for decades, unemployment can have dire consequences.

“I’m not leaving,” says Ngalikyana. “There’s nowhere else to go, there’s no work. If I end up in the street, I”ll go back to the bush and start robbing people again, and maybe I’ll rob Banro.”

These risks are not lost on Mr. Mutwedu with Banro.

“These people who are here, these are people who we have to take seriously. Because if you don’t, and if they’re out of work, you will be too,” he says.

More than most mining companies, Banro has engaged with communities to determine compensation packages or the possibility of relocating to ‘artisinal zones’ set aside elsewhere. 

Valentin Lubala, president of the miners association at a mine called Mukwunge (also in the Banro concession), is frank about the reality: “We understand the site belongs to them. We negotiated, and Banro said they’d give us some time, and the government could help us relocate.”

“The problem comes from the regional government,” he says. 

Technically, it’s not legal to share a concession with artisanal miners, and the regional minister of mines, Adalbert Murhi, has refused to sign off on their agreement. 

A group of NGO’s in South Kivu has accused him of mismanagement and corruption, charges which he firmly denies. 

Meanwhile, groups are trying to convince the government to alter the law or be more flexible. For the moment, it’s easier to find gold than solutions.

Google News shuts down in Spain

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 02:00
3.5 million visitors

That's how many visitors Google News in Spain receives per month. Google announced it would be shutting down Google News in Spain in response to a new law that would charge the news service every time content from Spanish newspapers and publishers appeared.

252

The total mentions of waterboarding, and other interrogation methods involving water or temperature in the Senate's long-anticipated CIA torture report. The Washington Post published a graphic letting users explore all instances of "enhanced interrogation" described in the report. Or, if you'd prefer, here's a visualization of the report's redactions.

$4.5 billion

That's how much Lending Club, the leading online-lending-marketplace, could be valued at after its IPO on Thursday. It will be the first among several fast-growing financial startups expected to go public in the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry.

300 million users

Instagram passed that benchmark Wednesday, edging out Twitter getting that much closer to Mark Zuckerberg's billion-user gold standard. Comparing social networks isn't a perfect science, but Re/Code has a look at how active users compare across services. 

A graph of Active Users on the top social networks.

Re/code 42.9 million

That's how many Americans have unpaid medical bills according to the findings of a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That's nearly 20% of consumers.

$634 million

Universal's cash flow for the first nine months of 2014, putting the studio on track for its most profitable year ever. What's notable is that Universal did it without a big summer tent pole, Forbes reported. Their film slate, which is nearly complete, was full of projects with modest budgets. There weren't any earth-shattering successes or flops, but lots of return on investment.

Lending Club goes public

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-12-11 02:00

Lending Club—the leading online-lending-marketplace, based in San Francisco—goes public on Thursday. The IPO will be the first among several fast-growing financial startups expected to go public in the peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry, and could raise $800 million or more for the company, giving it a total market value of in the range of $4.5 billion.

Lending Club matches individuals and businesses that want to borrow with lenders—mostly hedge funds, wealth managers and institutional investors. Borrowers pay interest rates ranging from 7.6 percent to 24.9 percent, based on their credit-worthiness, according to Lending Club’s website. Lenders on the site, meanwhile, can realize attractive net returns, in the 7 percent to 9 percent range.

Loan applications and underwriting are done online, cutting some of the cost and hassle of borrowing from a regular bank. That could help P2P lenders disrupt the established banking business and grab market share.

Pages