National News

NPR Names Jarl Mohn As Its New CEO And President

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 06:34

Jarl Mohn currently serves on the boards of several organizations, including Scripps Networks Interactive and Southern California Public Radio. He will be NPR's fourth leader since the start of 2009.

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What common food buzzwords actually mean

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 05:56

If you're seeking ways to make your diet just a bit healthier, you've probably heard the classic argument that organic food is better for you, and that you shouldn't touch GMOs with a ten-foot-pole.  

But as New York Times columnist Mark Bittman argues, you're probably focusing on the wrong ideas.

"With 'organic,' I think the word is ill-defined," he says. "There's nothing wrong with the desire to eat organic food, but focusing on the word 'organic' as if it were a panacea is a problem. With GMOs, it's the opposite--there's nothing particularly good about them, but on the other hand, to be afraid of them is a way stronger reaction than necessary."

Bittman argues in his latest column that it's not about how the label describes the food we put in our diets.

"Eating organic food is maybe preferable--whether it's nutritionally superior is questionable--but it's a secondary consideration," he said. "The primary consideration is what's in your diet. It's not about whether you can afford to eat organic, it's about whether you can afford to eat better. And for 80 or 90 percent of the people in the United States, the answer to that is yes."

But Bittman, who supports going fully vegan before 6 p.m. in his new book, cautions against lumping "veganism" into the same "healthy" category.

"Veganism implies healthy, but you can eat Oreos and Coke and still be vegan," he said.

What's Your Major? 4 Decades Of College Degrees, In 1 Graph

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 05:36

What is the mix of bachelor's degrees awarded today? And how has it changed since 1970?

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As Craft Beer Starts Gushing, Its Essence Gets Watered Down

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 05:32

Think you know what craft beer is? Since the last time you checked, the meaning has probably changed. Increasingly, the industry is making exceptions to the definition to accommodate big breweries.

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NFL Draft's First Round: Manziel Slides, No Running Backs Taken

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 04:39

The Houston Texans used the NFL draft's No. 1 pick to take Jadeveon Clowney. The story of the night was how the Cleveland Browns wound up with a new quarterback, Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.

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Hoarding Can Start Early, But Signs Are Hard To See In Teens

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 04:32

Most people with hoarding disorder are older, but researchers say teenagers can have many of the symptoms. The fact that they haven't had enough time to accumulate stuff may mask the problem.

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Russia Shows Off Military In Red Square Victory Day Parade

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 03:32

A parade of troops, tanks and missile launchers made its way through Red Square to mark Victory Day and commemorate the World War II defeat of Nazi Germany.

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Class of 2014 isn't celebrating the job market

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 02:47

This weekend, college seniors and their families will hear a lot of stirring words from commencement speakers as graduation season gets into full swing.

What comes next for many will be a little less stirring: the job hunt.

"The Class of 2014 is a little bit better off than the few classes who came before," says researcher Alyssa Davis, co-author of a report, 'The Class of 2014: The Weak Economy is Idling Too Many Young Graduates,' for the Economic Policy Institute. "Since the recession, this has become the new normal, with a weak job market, stagnant wages, high unemployment and underemployment."

Unemployment for young college graduates is 8.5 percent, compared to 5.5 percent in 2007. For young high school graduates, the comparison is 22.9 percent to 15.9 percent.

Employers do plan to hire more than last year—an increase of 8.6 percent is projected in a survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). But still, rates of involuntary part-time work, unskilled and low-wage work are up for college graduates. And, according to EPI's research, many more young people are now out of the labor force entirely—unemployed and not looking for work or attending school—than before the recession.

Management consulting firm Accenture recently surveyed Class of '14 members about their post-college expectations. Managing director Katherine LaVelle says, at least today's college students are prepared—having come of age as teenagers and early-twenty-somethings in an unforgiving economy that hasn't improved quickly or dramatically. She says many have picked their majors and internships with job prospects in mind.

"They've done their homework, they understand the marketplace they're in, and they're ready to tackle it," says LaVelle.

Still, says LaVelle, they're full of unrealistic expectations. Eighty percent think their first employer will provide a formal training program, and roughly the same percentage think they'll make more than $25,000-a-year. But the Accenture survey finds that only half that many graduates from the classes of 2012 and 2013 actually got training or earned that much.

And 46 percent of recent graduates consider themselves underemployed, working in jobs that don't require the education and training they received in college.

Why China and Vietnam are bumping boats

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 02:32

There's a battle brewing in the South China Sea. Ownership of territory near the Paracel Islands is disputed, and after China moved an oil drilling rig into the area, Vietnam sent ships to investigate.

The Chinese rammed the Vietnamese crafts and shot them with water cannons, but this fight is a lot bigger than one Chinese oil rig.

"It involves not just China and Vietnam, but also Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia," says Taylor Fravel, a professor of political science at MIT. Fravel notes that border disputes in the area have been going on for decades and this is China's way of trying to demonstrate its claim to the territory.

"China is desperate for domestic sources of energy," says Ernie Bower, senior adviser for Southeast Asia Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Bower says there's potentially more gas under the waters in the disputed territories than in the Gulf of Mexico, and more oil than in Alaska. The U.S. Geological survey says it's likely there are 2.5 billion barrels of oil, yet to be tapped in the area.

"People have been shot at and killed before between these two countries on these very waters," Bower says, noting the fight is also about fish, a source of protein to feed enormous populations.

It's a very real dispute for the Vietnamese, says Bowers, with the location where the Chinese attacked the Vietnamese ships just 120 miles off its shore.

"And the Vietnamese are rightly concerned about their sovereignty."

The best conversations happen over brunch

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 01:37

Here in the New York Bureau of Marketplace, we're getting ready for brunch. We even have the fixings for mimosas.

Yes, in the middle of the week. And, yes, in the middle of a work day.

But brunch, or really "Marketplace Brunch" is one of the segments we're trying out for our new show, Marketplace Weekend. The idea is to take some of the really smart and creative people inside the Marketplace family, and have the kind of conversation you might have over a meal with your friends... but do it on the radio.

So I'll be gathering in the studio with people like Stacey Vanek Smith, Sabri Ben-Achour and Mark Garrison, to talk about what they're covering. And probably more importantly: what's on their mind as they look ahead to the week that's coming up.

All this is part of how you create a new show: You come up with ideas for segments, try them out, and see how they sound. Earlier, we tried a segment that took responses from Twitter and Facebook, and folded them into a personal finance conversation. I'll let you into a secret: it sounded awful! Nobody (even my mother) wants to listen to me reading a bunch of tweets. So we reworked it, with a listener calling in to talk about her student loan debt. And that version was great!

We want to make sure that Marketplace Weekend is fun and dynamic, and that we never lose sight of where human experiences fit in economic stories.

A while back, we did a story on Marketplace Money that examined gentrification. It's a model for where we want to go with the new show.

We introduced listeners to Britty Krone, a lifelong Harlem resident. She took me on a tour of her neighborhood and told about the changes that were happening, and what it felt like to live through them.

Gentrification is a huge story: it touches on policy, politics, housing prices, race, and the changing nature of our cities. But at its heart, it's really a story about human beings. Brittny's example was a good reminder of that.

As we create this new show, we want to keep doing stories like that: complex, multi-layered, and demanding a little extra thought and care.

We also want your input. So keep it coming! Tell us what you want in Marketplace Weekend. The kinds of stories and sounds that you want to listen to when you have your own... well... brunch. 

Crowdfunding Can Help Build Business, But At What Cost?

NPR News - Fri, 2014-05-09 01:35

The Securities and Exchange Commission is poised to let small businesses get financed by the masses. Investing in startups is risky, though. Meanwhile, critics are wary of regulation.

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A very tech-y Mother's day! A new Silicon Tally

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 01:00

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

This week we're joined by Adrienne LaFrance, an editor and technology reporter at The Atlantic. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "marketplaceapm.polldaddy.com/s/", id: "silicon-tally-may-9", placeholder: "pd_1399585051" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'https://polldaddy.com/survey.js':'http://i0.poll.fm/survey.js';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

The tech of DJ-ing with DJ Rekha

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 01:00

If you head downtown to (le) Poisson Rouge on the first Thursday of the month, you'll find yourself transported to another country. The Punjab region of South Asia, to be exact.

That's because Rekha Malhotra, a.k.a. DJ Rekha, has spent her entire career as a DJ championing the sounds of Bhangra and Bollywood in the states.

These days, you can find her at Basement Bhangra, a monthly dance party that celebrates the music and dance of Bhangra.

Bhangra music is, in and of itself, a kind of remix - a melding of folk tunes with Western styles of music.

It just so happens that the style and form of the music lends itself to having a dance beat added underneath. 

It is this kind of embrace of the new as it relates to the old that Malhotra remembers as being a significant part of the Indian-American community she knew growing up:

“Every Indian American household had a VCR first, because the movies were important, watching the Bollywood films. And in the 90s there was a huge Indian Bollywood remix scene. Taking Bollywood records without getting the original parts and putting beats on them.”

For her part, Malhotra says technology is both a help and a hinderance to her life as a DJ.

She laments the loss of craft when it comes to the art of physically picking out records and matching the rhythms of tracks for seamless transitions. She also points out, however, that the ability to quickly purchase and download a requested song that she doesn't have on a record or a CD is a blessing, and allows her to better serve her audience.

At the end of the day, Malhotra says being a DJ is about being able to read an audience and react, and no amount of technology can give you that talent.

Listen to a Spotify playlist built by Ben Johnson featuring artists from our Playing With Machines series, and others: 

Medicaid's new patients: healthier, and maybe cheaper

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-05-09 00:37

Since the launch of the Affordable Care Act last fall, some five million more Americans have enrolled in the nation's healthcare program for low-income people.

With only half the states expanding their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, researchers believe that number would double if all 50 states moved ahead, and several new reports suggest it may be cheaper for states to go ahead than previously estimated.

Cost is one of the top reasons politicians cite to explain why they're against expanding the program.

A recent Congressional Budget Office report said the cost for states would be nearly a third less than expected. Why the cut?

The CBO over-estimated the number of people eligible for Medicaid pre-ACA who would come out of the woodwork – an effect known in the industry as "woodworking" – as efforts got underway to recruit newly-eligible folks to sign up for Medicaid. And because fewer of previously-eligible people signed up, the bill for states is lower, because states pay a vastly higher share of costs for the previously eligible.

And there are other signs that Medicaid's expansion may help the bottom line.

"We improved care. We improved outcomes and we reduced costs," says Dr. Randy Cebul, who runs the Center for Health Care Research & Policy. He's also the one keeping tabs on the data from a Medicaid pilot project in Cleveland involving nearly 30,000 low-income residents.

Cebul says in this test case for Medicaid expansion in Ohio, health providers helped cut ER use, increased primary care visits and kept spending 25 percent below projections.

"There are probably half of the states that have not expanded Medicaid," he says, "and I think this should be a reason they want to reconsider their decision."

And new Medicaid patients are generally less depressed and not as heavy as people already enrolled, according to a study from Steven Hill, an economist with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"I think some people were concerned that the people who will be newly eligible might be very unhealthy," he says. "But that's not what we found. And so they may need even less care than current enrollees," he says.

Edwin Park with the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities believes the growing body of information strengthens the proposition that states can afford an expansion.

"All this evidence continues to undermine that it's too costly for the states to take up," he says.

There's just one thing.

Many health policy people, including Park and George Washington health policy professor Sara Rosenbaum say state opposition isn't driven by economics as much as philosophy.

"It's a belief that somehow when you help the poor with governmental assistance you are encouraging bad behavior, laziness," says Rosenbaum.

Josh Archambault with the right-leaning Foundation for Government Accountability says there's some truth to that.

Ultimately though, he says the problem is that you're expanding a broken program that doesn't work for people currently enrolled. And why, he asks, would you just expand something like that?

"Not only does it hurt the people you are adding, but it already hurts people who are on the boat," he says.

But what some conservatives want – and they've begun to get it – is more flexibility in how the expansion program is designed. Even with that, full acceptance could take years. Don't forget, Arizona adopted the original Medicaid program in 1982, 17 years after it was first introduced.

An insider's look into Alibaba and its quirky founder

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-05-08 23:55

In 1995, Alibaba founder Jack Ma was an English teacher. He was visiting Seattle when a friend introduced him to the internet. Ma quickly typed "China" into the search engine. The result? "No data found" appeared on the screen.

Weeks later, Ma was in Beijing, on a Quixotic quest to convince China's government to create the country's first internet site.

The film "Crocodile in the Yangtze" shows grainy footage of a floppy-haired Ma delivering his pitch to a skeptical bureaucrat: "Nowadays, foreigners can use computers from any desktop to find products from around the world," says Ma to a confused-looking senior level official. "They can order directly from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore. But they can't order anything from China, because right now there's nothing from China on the Internet."

The official politely asked Ma to take a hike. The film's director Porter Erisman says none of the officials Ma visited on that trip had even heard about the Internet. "You can just see in the footage, the people who are looking at him, they just think he's crazy."

Erisman got the footage from a reporter for state-run television, who thought it'd be funny to follow Ma around as he got kicked out of one government office after another. "The reason the woman was filming Jack was because she thought here's this crazy guy who's clearly not going to go anywhere -- we should record this as an example of how not to behave."

Five years later, Ma started Alibaba, which would become the world's largest online marketplace, and Porter Erisman was hired as the company's first American employee.

At the time, eBay set its sights on China – and Erisman said Jack Ma used his background as a student of martial arts to engage the Western giant.

"One of the key principles in martial arts is you can use an opponents strength against them," says Erisman. "So when we looked at eBay with their big advertising campaign, we realized we could use that campaign to help promote Taobao."

Taobao, Alibaba's shopping site, was launched to fend off eBay.

Alibaba embarked on an aggressive media campaign, attacking eBay and questioning which company was better for China. The strategy worked -- every time eBay ran a local ad, it got people thinking about this new Chinese shopping site Taobao. eBay eventually pulled out of China, and Taobao -- with its hundreds of millions of users -- is a big reason Alibaba is expected to raise billions from investors when it goes public.

That's despite Jack Ma's attitude towards Wall Street, which he shared with Alibaba empoyees at a company gala in Porter Erisman's film.

"Let the Wall Street investors curse us if they want," Ma shouts from a stage in front of thousands of employees, "We will still follow the principle of customers first, employees second, and investors third."

When Lyrics Get Posted Online, Who Gets Paid?

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 23:52

There are about 5 million searches for lyrics every day on Google. Who gets paid when people look up lyrics online?

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Books With Gay Themes Put S.C. Colleges' Funding At Risk

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 23:43

Students in South Carolina state colleges are rallying against what they see as a conservative attack on academic freedom.

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Saying Goodbye To A Friend Who's 'Ready To Go Home'

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 23:35

Eddie Lanier was homeless when David Wright brought him home years ago for a shower and a meal. Today, Eddie is terminally ill and in hospice care — but he's not afraid to die, he tells his friend.

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Former Commando Turns Conservationist To Save Elephants Of Dzanga Bai

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 23:34

Nir Kalron was once an Israeli commando, then private security consultant to African leaders, and a dealer of legal arms. Today he's working with African locals to hunt ivory poachers via satellite.

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For Moms In Congress, Votes Mix With Diapers And School Pickup

NPR News - Thu, 2014-05-08 23:32

There are just nine women who have given birth while serving in Congress. In some ways, they're like all working moms who can't find enough time in the day. But there are also significant differences.

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